Tag Archives: Isaiah

Isaiah and the Servant

As a young believer in Christ, I basically thought that the New Testament message that Jesus is the Suffering Servant Messiah was a no-brainer. So, I was always rather frustrated as to why modern day Jews will not simply accept Jesus as their Messiah and become Christians. I mean, is it not obvious?

Well, if you ever get to know an Orthodox Jew, you might learn that the New Testament claim about Jesus is not so obvious. The New Testament does teach this Truth, but you really have to work with the Old and New Testament texts to get at it. It is very subtle.

However, the most subtle things in life often become the most important and life changing. The following post on our church’s Lenten series blog lays out the challenge….

Lessons in Lent

Persecuted Jews plead for mercy from Ferdinand and Isabella (credit: Universal Images Group / Getty Images) Persecuted Jews plead for mercy from         Ferdinand and Isabella   (credit:
Universal Images Group / Getty Images)

I have been privileged over the years to have some Jewish friends, particularly of the Orthodox variety. I am still learning quite a bit about Hebrew ideas and culture. I try not to say Old Testament around my Jewish friends, as this might put up some barrier, so I talk of the Tanakh instead. I share about the current season of Lent, but I also inquire about the coming Passover.

It was news to me when I learned that the reason why Jews reject Christianity is not so much because of fears of anti-semitism. Instead, Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah because they believe that Christians have the Bible wrong.I recently heard that many Jews look at Christians pretty much the same way many evangelical Christians look at…

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Constantine the Great?

Constantine the Great, founder of "Christendom."

Constantine the Great, founder of “Christendom.”

Constantine awoke from his dream. Christ had appeared to him bearing the sign of a bent over cross. Earlier, Constantine had seen the same cross in a vision, with the inscription, “In this sign conquer”. Could this be the sign of victory he had been waiting for?

So the story goes…. it was the year 312, and this young Roman general was approaching the most pivotal battle in his life. Maxentius, a challenger to the imperial throne, had amassed an army to defeat Constantine. Constantine forged an alliance with another general, Licinius. But was this going to be enough to defeat Maxentius? Perhaps this sign from one of the gods was what he needed. Constantine ordered his troops to paint the sign of the cross on their shields. From there, Constantine won the Battle of Milvian Bridge, and the history of the world, along with the Christian faith, was forever changed.

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Process of Suffering

Do you ever think about why God works by processes?  After all, why doesn’t God just ‘poof’ everything to be the way he wants it to be?  Why take 13.7 billion years to get to today?  Why take 4.6 billion years to build the earth and shape its climate?  Why did Jesus have to suffer?

Why do people have to suffer?

Countless theologians have taken aim at that question.  Most dissect it from the standpoint of purpose—as in “What is the purpose of suffering?”  The realities of suffering remain among the biggest stumbling blocks for atheists and believers alike.

When it comes to suffeDick Woodwardring, I have no credentials.  But I do know an expert.  Here are two messages Dick Woodward preached on the topic (from among many cataloged here) that get to the heart of suffering.

Some questions we just can’t answer.  Other questions we should never even try to answer.  Just like the difference between knowledge (knowing the answers to questions) and wisdom (knowing which questions count), it’s really important to know when to keep our mouth shut.

Here’s a short video that illustrates the value of “showing up and shutting up.”

It also highlights the processes by which God redeems us from suffering—not just for the care receiver, but the caregiver, the pastor, and everyone else.  Redemption is a process.  For whatever reasons, God followed his own rules, and suffered ultimately for our redemption.  There was no way to ‘poof’ the redemption of mankind—God had to prove it.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8,9 (NIV)

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
Apostle Paul, Galatians 5:6b (NIV)

The above story has a happy ending.  All three men interviewed in that video are ministers—and very good ones at that.  All three will tell you when people are suffering the most important thing you can do is show up.  And don’t pretend to know the reason for their suffering.

Sometimes we see the happy ending.  Sometimes the ending is just too hard to bear.  It’s hard sometimes to understand that God makes the rules, knows what he is doing, has a plan for each of us, values sincerity, doesn’t need us to attempt to explain anything for him, and intends ultimately for us not to have an ending.  But let’s keep our mouths shut and just use our feet and ears and arms when people are suffering.  The process is important.

HT: Steve Flanary, John Green, Bill Warrick, Steve Hooge, Dick Woodward

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