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The Pilgrim Path (1-2-2021)

The Pilgrim Path---Isaiah 8: 16—22

Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.

DARKNESS is NOT required…

Isaiah’s hearers were facing an invasion from the Assyrians. They brought it upon themselves by failing to listen to the LORD. The adage is, “light accepted brings more light---light rejected brings darkness.” By refusing to heed God’s truth---they plunged themselves into trouble (darkness). We do well to recognize that when they would not listen to the LORD, it is not as though they had no outlets for guidance. Instead of hearing the sovereign Covenant God who loved them---they turned to mediums and necromancers (those who consort with the spirits of the dead). Of course---they also had that old standard: their own reason---which they placed above God’s truth. Where did it place them? In the darkness. The good news is---we do not have to be in the dark. We may, in a spirit of brokenness and humility---accept the Bible for what it is: The Living Word of God. We may ask the LORD to open our heart and mind to its teaching. We may walk in the light as He is in the light---and have fellowship with Him. Please remember that phrase from Isaiah 8: 20, “To the teaching and to the testimony!” That is where we all belong in 2021---in the Word. Be where the Word is loved and taught---prayed and sung---revered and followed---held in high esteem: leading us to Jesus---The Word!

From Kelly Kapic: Christians are called to live their lives coram deo (before God), rather than coram hominibus (before man). In other words, we must always recognize that our ultimate audience is God. The Bible thus calls us to fear God and not man. But this can be such a challenge for us when our circumstances and all we see make us fear what others will think and do. In such situations, we must regain Isaiah’s perspective “do not fear” what the world fears (Isa. 8: 12), “but the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear and let him be your dread” (Isa. 8: 13). For Isaiah’s audience, this meant a call to “wait for the LORD” and a cultivated commitment to “hope in him” (Isa. 8: 17).

From John Owen: What we are and what we do; all is answerable to the Word of God; and so far are we holy and no further. Whatever acts of devotion or duties of morality may be performed, they are only a part of our sanctification if they conform with the Word of God.

From Raymond Ortlund, Jr—Our only safety is seen in verse 20: “To the teaching and to the testimony!” In other words, “Run to the truth!” And those who do not? “If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (verse 20). Isaiah’s people had the truth, but they did not value it as their guide for life. Why? “They have no dawn”---no illumination within. Real faith and unreal faith are as different as light and darkness, even with the Bible open before us. But grace imparts to the remnant a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of God, so that the eyes of their hearts are enlightened to all that he is worth, and they live in wealth and light (Ephesians 1: 17, 18).

From Barry G. Webb: Often the difference between the true and the false is very hard to discern; wheat and tares, sheep, and goats, can look very much alike to the untrained eye. But the divine judge sees the difference clearly, and the testings of life increasingly distinguish them from one another. On the last day, of course, the separation will be absolute and permanent. We can ill afford to take such truth lightly. The line that was being drawn in Isaiah’s day is still being drawn today, with the same ultimate issues at stake. Scripture urges us to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (II Cor. 13: 5). We cannot afford not to do so.

Reading the Bible is food for the soul---for the Follower of Jesus Christ. Think long and hard upon it. Ask the LORD to open your heart and mind to what you are reading. Remember: The Word stands above us---we do not stand above The Word.

Make it a goal to become familiar with some Book---or Books of the Bible---you are quite unfamiliar with---in 2021.

HYMN

Bless Thou the truth, dear LORD,

To me, to me,

As Thou didst bless the bread

By Galilee;

Then shall all bondage cease,

All fetters fall;

And I shall find my peace,

My all-in-all.

Mary Artemisia Lathbury (1841—1913)

Grace and Peace in Jesus, the Only Redeemer of broken and wretched souls, Pastor Jason