Saturday, June 26, 2010

Introduction to Isaiah 58: The rebuilding process

At a Foundations for Farming Champions Conference in 2006, Sibs Sibanda (now based at God First Church in South Africa) brought a brilliant exposition of Isaiah 58, in which he said, “The context of this passage is a message to the nation of Israel, but it is an admonition and warning to all and is not to be confined to those of any one age. Certainly, for us as God’s new covenant people, this message is applicable and is appropriate for us to allow these words to instruct us today. As we look at Isaiah 58 let’s look at what matters most to God, so that we do not go out simply in great busyness, but go about our father’s work as Jesus did.”

Matthew Henry begins his commentary on Isaiah 58 with these words, “When our Lord Jesus promised to send the Comforter, Jesus added, ‘When he shall come he shall convince (the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgement)’ (John 168:7); for conviction must prepare for comfort, and must also separate between the precious and the vile, and mark out those to whom comfort does not belong. God had appointed this prophet to comfort his people (Isaiah 40:1); here he appoints him to convince them, and show them their sins. He must tell them how very bad they really were.”

Brian Oldreive too has often shared with the champions that they must not fear or reject the Lord’s admonition, because it is always given in His love. Three times in scripture, in Proverbs 3: 11-12, Hebrews 12:6 and Revelation 3:19 the Lord tells us that the one He loves, He rebukes and disciplines. If we respond to the Lord’s chastisement in humility, repentance and obedience, it will result in our great comfort and help. Brian prays that we, as God’s people, are set free by Christ Jesus, joyfully living under grace in His wonderful sanctification process, will allow the Holy Spirit to convince and convict us of our sins, so that this wonderful process of healing, reformation and rebuilding can begin.

For this reason it is very important for us to take time to establish the strongest foundations on which to build. If we diligently follow the Lord’s instructions in this magnificent chapter, He tells us in verse 12, “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”The condition for this to happen is that we approach God with the right attitude of heart, which He calls ‘The True Fast’ (vs. 6 to 10).

Before we embark on this great quest, it is important that we prepare and convince our hearts thoroughly, and we must do so in a theologically sound way, i.e. ‘God’s Way’. God’s truth is the grounds for Unity in Him. It takes courage to face the truth about ourselves, and it especially takes courage to be the ones called by God to declare that truth to God’s people.

Brian prays for this courage for us all.

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