Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 24 2019 - Isaiah 56 – Salvation for many

Salvation is free – we are invited to come to a feast for which we have no ability to pay. But our response to God's saving goodness must reach into every part of our lives. The Lord calls upon his people to prepare for his coming by maintaining justice and doing what is right (v. 1); they are to reflect the character of God their Saviour.

The Lord reassures those who are not natural born children of Abraham that they too have a place among his people; they should not fear that they will be excluded (v. 3). In Deuteronomy 23:1 it was written that "No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the Lord." This rule is now abolished; the eunuchs who devote themselves to the Lord will find a ready welcome with him:

To them I will give within my temple and its walls
    a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name that will endure for ever. (v. 5)

All the ancient restrictions on who may or may not approach God are cast aside. All who answer his call to "Come" will find a ready welcome with him. The Lord will give all of them joy in his house of prayer; it will be "a house of prayer for all nations" (v. 7; words quoted by Jesus in Matthew 21:13). I am reminded of the Apostle Paul's words concerning the gospel:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:28-29)

The chapter closes with God's words of judgment on the dissolute leaders of his people who have led the people astray rather than leading them in paths of righteousness:

They are shepherds who lack understanding;
    they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain. (v. 11)

We have heard this description before from Ezekiel.

In closing, I want to pick up the way in which keeping the Sabbath is here used as a mark of God's faithful people, whether Jew of Gentile (vv. 2,4,6). We often think of the Sabbath in terms of prohibitions – things which God says his people should not do. We may even go so far as to look at the Sabbath through the eyes of our Puritan forefathers and think that the day devoted to God must be a day without fun or enjoyment. Nothing could be further from the truth.

God called his people to remember that he is the creator of heaven and earth. All that he has made was to reflect his glory and to be enjoyed by those whom he had made in his image. But God's world is no longer as he created it to be. Stewardship of God's world often becomes painful labour – a battle against thorns and thistles. God invited his people to enjoy the seventh day of the week as a day without labour, entering freely into the blessings of God's rest without toil. It is like a weekly invitation to "Come to the feast". It was to be an anticipation of that great day in which God's salvation would be complete, creation would be renewed and God's people would enjoy life in his presence for all eternity. Sabbath is gift not a demand; grace not law. God calls his people to celebrate Sabbath by doing justly – anticipating the life of the world to come (v. 2).

We can praise God for the way in which his salvation in the Lord Jesus breaks down the barriers between peoples; God's grace is promiscuous grace (in the proper meaning of the term).

Thank you Father for your inexhaustible love towards us in the Lord Jesus. Help us by your Spirit, to live now something of the life of the age to come; may our lives honour you and bring glory to your name. Help us to accept one another as you have accepted us and to encourage people of all backgrounds and nationalities to come and find salvation in Jesus Christ.

Oct 24 2013 - 2 Timothy 2:20-3:17 – The word of God

Paul's second letter to Timothy is the last of his letters. Paul knows that he probably does not have many days left before he is put to death for preaching the good news about Jesus. Timothy also is facing opposition. What advice can Paul give this young man as some around him are abandoning the faith?

Firstly, Paul tells Timothy that he must, “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2:22). He is to be careful not to be led astray by the desires that could so easily preoccupy a young man. He is to make it his goal to live a life pleasing to God and profitable to others and to do this in fellowship with God’s people. He is to avoid foolish arguments and to be gentle and kind even with those who need putting right – seeking to win them by grace rather than crushing them with clever arguments. And he is to do all this even when he is faced with abusive, treacherous and slanderous people (3:1-5).

How is Timothy going to manage all this without Paul to be his strength and guide?

Paul has one great treasure and legacy to hand on to his son, Timothy; "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:14-17). Stick with the Scriptures, says Paul. The Bible is God's Word, given not only to bring you salvation, but also to shape your life so that it may be pleasing to God. The Scriptures are able to equip you for the work that God has called you to do. They are not just historical documents revealing God’s purposes, they are a living word, accompanied by the power of the risen Christ, powerful to accomplish God’s purposes for Timothy and for those among whom he ministers.

We also need to stick with the Scriptures. They speak to us of God’s great plan of salvation centring in the Lord Jesus Christ. Here we learn of God – we are taught by him and our eyes are opened to his grace and goodness and the wonder of his saving plans for a world that has turned its back on him. Here we are directed and trained up in the way we should go and are rebuked and redirected when we turn aside to go our own way. Through his word and by his Spirit, God purposes to make us like his Son. More than that, he intends to pursue his saving purpose for the world through us, to equip us to continue the mission of Christ.

The Bible is not simply Paul’s legacy which he leaves with Timothy, it is God’s love-gift to us and to a needy and quarrelsome world (3:1-4).

Father, we thank you for your word, the revelation of your heart and saving purposes. Breathe on us afresh through your word that we may hear you calling to us and may understand what you have to say to us. May we grow in our knowledge of you, be trained in godliness and be fully equipped to serve you. We pray also that the Bible's life-changing message may reach people everywhere. Help us to continue the work begun long ago by Paul the apostle and by his young friend Timothy.

Peter Misselbrook