Rivulets and Rivers

“This what the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands. Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea’” (Isaiah 48.17-18).

Is nothing gained by my obedience? Is nothing lost by my disobedience? Why am I burdened? Why am I anxious or even angry? If I have so much from the Lord Jesus, who do I possess so little of it? When I dig my heels in and do my own thing, God withholds peace and the benefits of a righteousness I possess in Christ. That is, I’m secure in Christ. Heaven is assured. My Father’s love always remains, but my choices have left me twisting in this present darkness. I have peace like a tiny rivulet rather than peace like a river.

The LORD is not only the redeemer of Israel; He is my redeemer as well. He teaches me from His Word for my benefit. He leads me in the way I should go on a daily basis. I know that the Son of God has come and has given me an understanding, that I may know Him who is true; and I am in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life (1 John 5.20). What is eternal life? Jesus tells me in John 17.3: “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent – Jesus Christ.” Therefore, the LORD my God teaches me for my benefit what really matters. 

The LORD opened my eyes and turned me from darkness to light …from the power of Satan to His power. I have received forgiveness of sins and an inheritance divided among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ (see Acts 26.18). As I obey God and walk in the wake of His Spirit, I find peace and holiness. It floods my soul like a rivulet. This is what it means to be sanctified by faith in Christ. As I disobey, I only have rivulets of anxious sweat on my brow. Obedience and disobedience matter. My freedom to choose either direction matters. 

The Only Message that Matters

“Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me” (Isaiah 48.16).

Now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Jesus Christ our Savior to preach redemption, to convince us to receive it, and to bring all glory to God.

God is in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing trespasses to them. We carry on the ministry of reconciliation as ambassadors of Christ not denominations or aberrant doctrines. Our message is simple: “Be reconciled to God. For [God the Father] made [God the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5.20-21). 

Receive this reconciliation. We all need it. We are captives to sin …in exile as aliens under the power of the evil one. Houses and lands and jobs won’t bring you happiness. All of that will cease, but the work of the triune God is eternally beneficial for me. 

To God be the glory! Great things He has done! He will not give His glory to another. No other deserves it. We give glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. May God hasten the day when “every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, [say]: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever” (Revelation 5.13)!

Only God is Sufficient

“Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me” (Isaiah 48.16).

God the Father’s plan of redemption is solid on every front. He did not neglect one detail. He did not forsake justice or mercy. God the Son did not fall short when He carried out the work given Him. He accomplished the work of redemption and spoke one Greek word translated into three English words: “It is finished!” That is, the work He accomplished on the cross was complete and continues to benefit mankind right up until this day (see John 19.30). The Holy Spirit is able to empower us. He is willing to strengthen us. We simply must not grieve or quench His work. The triune God’s redemption is complete and perfect. My goodness is not. If I depend on myself, I should not wonder at the doubt and anxiety that floods into my life. But the love of the Father, the perfect goodness of the Son, and the limitless power of the Spirit are sufficient for me. All things are mine. And I am Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 3.22-23). 

All Are Unworthy

“Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me” (Isaiah 48.16).

God the Father carried out the plan of redemption because of His great love. Jesus sacrificed Himself for us because of His great love. The Holy Spirit eagerly empowers us because of His great love. The triune God is willing to seek and save the lost, even the worst of sinners. Sinners often doubt that God loves them, but they should not. This is simply a sick and twisted pride at work. No one is worthy of God’s great love. We don’t deserve human love. We don’t deserve the food we eat, the rest we receive, the homes we possess, or the air we breathe. We are all unworthy. The more we understand this, the more acceptable to God we are! We come to Him empty and leave full. Romans 8.32 says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things” (Romans 8.32). God loves you and me not because we are worthy; He loves us because Jesus is worthy.

The Triunity of God in Redemption

“Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me” (Isaiah 48.16).

What did God the Father and the Holy Spirit send God the Son to do? Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. That is, Jesus came over 2,000 years ago to set us free from sin and death. We all deserve the penalty of eternal death for our sins. Yet if the Son has set us free, we are free indeed! So, the Scriptures reveal the triunity of God and His relationship to our salvation or redemption. The word redemption means to set free or loose from bondage. 

The Scriptures reveal that redemption is anchored in the Father’s love. Redemptions originates and comes from the heart of the Father. He sent His Son and delivered Him up for us all. The Father also sends the Holy Spirit to energize new life in the believer. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to live the Christian life. 

God the Son, the Lord Jesus, came to purchase salvation and obey the Father’s will. Jesus is the only Mediator between God and man. There is no other mediator. Isaiah reveals that Jesus is God’s Servant, His Elect One in whom the Father delights. The Holy Spirit is upon Him to bring forth justice (and mercy) to the Gentiles (see Isaiah 42.1). Jesus delights in doing the Father’s will. Ephesians 5.2 states the Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God (notice the work of the triune God here), cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9.14)? Jesus said that no one takes His life from Him. Instead, He laid it down voluntarily. He alone had the power to lay it down and take it back (resurrection; see John 10.18). The resurrected Christ ascended to the right hand of the power of God. There He makes intercession for those who come to God through Him (see Hebrews 7.25). John 14.2 tells us that Jesus is preparing a place in Heaven for us. He is the head of the Church. He shall bestow a kingdom upon us, just as the Father bestowed one upon Him (Luke 22.29). We shall reign with Him!

The Holy Spirit empowered Jesus to carry out His ministry of redemption. Once Jesus ascended to Heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent to testify of Him. He convinces the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He comforts those who sorrow. He purifies and sanctifies believers. He reminds us that we belong to Him and are sealed until the day of our final redemption. This work is accomplished through a steady intake of God’s Word. However, there are subjective elements to the Holy Spirit’s work as well. As we obey the will of God, the Holy Spirit strengthens and empowers us greatly. 

The good news today is that we are elect because we are in the Elect One. All of this is “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1.2). The work of redemption is accomplished through the Triune God.

The Triunity of God in the New Testament

“Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me” (Isaiah 48.16).

Isaiah records the words of the preincarnate Christ in this verse. Jesus, the Son of God, is the speaker here. He is sent by. the Lord God (the Father) and His Spirit (God the Holy Spirit). This is a clear reference to the triunity of God in the Old Testament. This is something that is also reinforced in the New Testament.

God is One God in three persons. The persons are distinct in the New Testament: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Luke 1.35 records the words of the angel announcing the conception of the Messiah through Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest (the Father) will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” Jesus began His public ministry at His baptism: “When He had been baptized, Jesus (God the Son) came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God (God the Holy Spirit) descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice (God the Father) came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3.16-17). Jesus left His disciples with the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28.19). 2 Corinthians 13.14 records a benediction prayer: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (God the Son), and the love of God (the Father), and the communion of the (God) the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. 

The Triunity of God in the Old Testament

“Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me” (Isaiah 48.16).

The Lord Jesus is the Servant being sent in this passage. The Father is called the Lord God. The Holy Spirit and the Father send the Son. This is a clear reference to the triunity of God. The Father sent the Son to save all the ends of the earth from sin and Hell. The Holy Spirit not only sent the Lord Jesus, but He illumined the path ahead of Him. He revealed the way of salvation through the Son. The Trinity is not an obscure teaching in the Old Testament. 

God the Father is the speaker in Genesis 1.26. He said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to our likeness.” The pronouns indicate a plurality of persons involved in the creation of man. This occurs again when man is punished for his rebellion and sin: “Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil” (Genesis 3.22). Notice again the plural pronoun. When God confused the languages because of mankind’s unified effort against Him in building the Tower of Babel, we read: “Come, let Us go down there and confuse their language” (Genesis 11.7). 

Isaiah 11.2 states that the Spirit of the LORD (the Father) shall rest upon Him (the Son). This occurs again in Isaiah 61.1: “The Spirit of the Lord God (the Father) is upon Me (the Son), because the LORD (the Father) has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor.” Zechariah 2.11 states, “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD (the Father) in that day, and they shall become My (the Son’s) people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.” 

Serving Instead of Consuming

“You have heard it. Observe it all. Will you not acknowledge it? From now on I will announce new things to you, hidden things that you have not known” (Isaiah 48.6).

There are many things God revealed to Israel about the future in Isaiah. Some concerned the exile to Babylon. Others referred to Cyrus and Israel’s return. Still others referred to the coming of Messiah, the One who would come as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. Finally, God reveals things about the second coming of Christ as the King of the world. These revelations point up God’s faithfulness and control over the events and people of history. 

Where do I belong in the grand scheme of things? What is it that God wants me to do? If I cannot answer these questions, then I cannot do God’s will. If I say that I belong to Him and yet I do not do the things He commands, I am a hypocrite. Still worse, a failure to obey God’s will leads to struggle and anxiety about a future He has made certain for me. 

God has a future for me. It is a new and exciting future where I reign with Jesus. I must now allow myself to be bogged down with a pseudo-security in this present darkness. Comfort and prosperity are enemies in this way. I am here to serve not consume. I am here to engage not retreat.

The Illusion of the Eternal Present

“I am, and there is no one else” (Isaiah 47.8, 10). 

The lover of luxury and those who are secure in their wickedness live as though no one sees them. Only the LORD is the great I AM. He is eternal. Yet, we often live as though there is no one else. We live for the present. I am. We are unconcerned with our past sin and neglect contemplating future judgment. Present luxury and wickedness give us the illusion of security. “I am, and there is no one else.” We live in the illusion of the eternal present.

All forms of Babylon will fall. The kingdoms of this world rise and fall and yet while in power, think they will go on forever. But disaster comes. Devastation happens suddenly and unexpectedly. “Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the LORD, and their works are in the dark; they say, ‘Who sees us?’ and, ‘Who knows us?’” (Isaiah 29.15) 

Beware of the way things seem. Luxury and wickedness are hallmarks of the fallen kingdoms of this world. Jesus taught that fools say, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (Luke 12.18-20) 

Staggering Mercy

“Listen to me, you hard hearted, far removed from justice: I am bringing my justice near; it is not far away, and my salvation will not delay. I will put salvation in Zion, my splendor in Israel” (Isaiah 46.12-13).

The unbelieving still discover God in the design and work of creation. Those who sincerely study the Scriptures find that the prophecies recorded have never failed and some have yet to come to pass. False prophets and religions are not comparable or equal with God (46.5). Still, God’s justice and salvation are not far away for the unbelieving or even the pseudo religious. God’s mercy toward those who reject Him is truly staggering.

Some people make no qualms about the sin in their lives. Their sin does not humble them. They don’t agonize over it. “No man repented of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’” (Jeremiah 8.6). They are not anxious about future judgment or think about the need of personal salvation. They are hard-hearted and far removed from justice.

Yet, God brings both justice and salvation to all of them. He did this through the person and work of Jesus Christ. God sent His only begotten Son into the world to be the once-for-all sacrifice for sin. Jesus was despised and rejected by unbelieving, hard-hearted people. But He did not despise them. He prayed with His last breaths, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” 

The salvation of God is near. It will not delay. It is not exclusively Israel’s salvation. It is for all who are bound by sin. It is even for the hard-hearted. Father, humble the sinner. Break the hard-hearted. May they fear You before it is too late for them. Help me to reflect Your kind, benevolent, and merciful character toward them.