3 Knowing God (3)

Below was the true story of a pastor in LA:

It was my first time to the Middle East. We were divided into two vans as we were heading toward Sidon, one of the epicentres of the Muslim revolutionary group Hamas. I was informed to speak in a few hours and was assured that it would be just a small gathering of perhaps a dozen Christians and a handful of Muslims and that my topic was the history of Western Christianity.

That night when the event began, the small room was packed. Nearly eighty Muslims overwhelmed the handful of Christians who had organised the meeting. I was reminded before I spoke that these were first-time hearers of the gospel and that any declaration of Jesus being God would be considered nothing less than blasphemy.

I must confess that I began with everything I could think of that they would agree with. I began to describe to them the Western Christianity that I had rejected. I understood that for many Muslims a nation is reflective of its religion. I understood that they saw no distinction between America and Christianity. In their minds Christianity produces MTV, Playboy, capitalism, Hollywood – everything that comes from America. It made perfect sense to them when I described Western Christianity as materialistic and immoral. So far, so good. Everything I described up to that point reaffirmed their view of Christianity.

Then I began to explain that in the United States a revolution was taking place. It was a movement of sincere followers of Jesus Christ. They were members of what is called the church. This was different from Christianity as a world religion. It was a movement of faith, love, and hope. I explained the centre point of this movement, what was called the gospel. 

There have been a thousand times in my life, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands, when I have declared that Jesus Christ is Lord without second thought. I have expressed that God Himself came into human history, took on flesh and blood, was crucified on our behalf, and was raised from the dead. I must tell you, this time was different. This same declaration had a greater weight to it than ever before. I thought deeply before I made my confession.

I think back with some amusement that one man who left his seat and walked to the front and began speaking to me face-to-face had a gun strapped to the back of his pants. My friends who were with me saw this scenario from a different perspective than I did. While I was looking into his eyes, my team was looking at his gun.

Over the next hour, Muslim after Muslim came to me and to our team saying, “I would like to become a Christian.” My friend from Lebanon who had orchestrated this meeting told me that I could not possibly understand the depth and miraculous nature of what was happening.

(Adapted from Seizing Your Divine Moment by Erwin Raphael McManus)

Your initial response

Where do you think this pastor get his wisdom, power and strength from to deliver his courageous speech? What made his preaching so full of impact?

Isaiah 11

1A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 

2The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— 

3and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 

4but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 

5Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 

6The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 

7The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 

8The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. 

9They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lordas the waters cover the sea. 

10In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. 

11In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean. 

12He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. 

13Ephraim’s jealousy will vanish, and Judah’s enemies will be destroyed; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim. 

14They will swoop down on the slopes of Philistia to the west; together they will plunder the people to the east. They will subdue Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites will be subject to them. 

15The Lord will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea; with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand over the Euphrates River. He will break it up into seven streams so that anyone can cross over in sandals. 

16There will be a highway for the remnant of his people that is left from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt.

1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.

2 Who is “the stump of Jesse”?

3 Does the text talk about history or prophesy?

4 Where are the places that the Prophet Isaiah mentioned (Isaiah 11:11)?

5 What does “that day” imply (Isaiah 11:11)?

6 Why do ferocious beasts become tame (Isaiah 11:6-8)?

7 Why is Ephraim jealous?

8 How does the Spirit of the Lord reside on human beings?

9 Use a highlighter to underline all of the words about “the Spirit” in this passage.

10 Circle all of the nations mentioned in this passage.

11 Put a circle next to the newly found insight.

2) “Expound” (E)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Why did the Prophet Isaiah use “the stump of Jesse” to describe this person (11:1)?

2 Why does the Spirit of God reside on “the stump of Jesse”? Has “the stump of Jesse” already appeared in human history (11:2)?

3 Why does the Spirit of the Lord have six different attributes (11:2)?

4 Why don’t the ferocious beasts harm the totally unarmed infants, young children and meek animals? What is this moment in human history (11:6-8)?

5 When will the Israelites return to their homeland from all over the world (11:12)?

Isaiah 11:1

New American Standard Bible translates it as “stem,” but quite a few translations render it as “stump.” King David was the son of Jesse; but when Jesus Christ was born, there hadn’t any of his descendants continued to be king for nearly six hundred years. “The stump” was an illustration to describe the declined Davidic dynasty. Several hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prophet Isaiah had already foretold that the descendants of David would bear fruit. In simple terms, God would revive the Davidic dynasty. According to the flesh, Jesus Christ was a descendant of David (Matthew 1:1, 6). He is “the stump” and He is God’s promised Messiah King to the Israelites.

Isaiah 11:2

“Wisdom” is the power of discerning the nature of things through the appearance. “Understanding” is the power of discerning the differences of things in their appearance. “Counsel” is the gift of forming right conclusions, and “power” is the ability to carry them with energy. The mentioned “knowledge” is founded upon the fellowship of the Lord, and fear is produced thereof. The six attributes of the Spirit mentioned here can be categorised into three groups: intellect, practice and the direct relationship with God. As the Messiah is united with the Spirit, hence He leads an intellectual and practical life, and He also possesses a direct relationship with God.

Isaiah 11:3-5

The Messiah delights in the fear of the Lord and He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears. To Him, these are superficial appearances or impressions; but, Jesus Christ will deal with the needy and the poor with righteousness and justice, that is, His inner virtues. Moreover, He will deal with the unrighteousness of the evil ones, judging and punishing them harshly. In the Near Eastern dress styles, the belt or sash was the garment that gave stability to the whole ensemble. The Messiah used righteousness and faithfulness to gird up His waist, that is to say, He will handle the affairs in His kingdom justly.

Isaiah 11:6-9

In simple terms, there are only two kinds of interpretations here. One is a symbolical picture of the future. The other is a prophecy that must come to pass according to the literal meaning of the text. When Lord Jesus returns, He will establish His millennial kingdom (Rev. 19:11-20:6), only then, the world will enjoy real peace. As human beings sinned, the nature has lost its harmony. However, when Messiah begins to rule on earth, predators will also become tame. Even the snakes, the first enemy of humankind, can also befriend with infants. This prophecy is meaningful, for in the kingdom of the Messiah, all ferocious beasts and animals will once again place under the authority of humankind (cf. Gen. 1:28), and even infants, these animals have to obey them completely. The “holy mountain” is Jerusalem, and it will become the centre among nations in the millennial kingdom, and all the earth is filled with God’s principles and Word.

Isaiah 11:10-12

Assyria, Elam and Shinar are on the east of Israel; and on her west, the isles of the sea (the islands of the Mediterranean Sea). In the north of Israel, Hamath; and in the south, Egypt, Pathros or Upper Egypt, and Cush or Ethiopia. Gentiles will plead allegiance to Christ in the millennial kingdom. Also, the Lord will gather the Israelites to return to their homeland from all directions, as if the Exodus in the olden days (Ex. 11:16).

Isaiah 11:13

Historically, Israel suffered as her country was broken up. Ephraim was the representative of the Northern Kingdom and Judah the Southern Kingdom. The Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom will unite once again as a united nation in the Messianic kingdom.

Isaiah 11:14

Instead, they will get together and attack the Philistines in the west. Then they will defeat the Edomites, the Moabites, and the Ammonites in the east. They will rule those people and take from them whatever they want. (CEV) When Christ returns, the Israelites will gain a complete victory over the Philistines, the Edomites, the Moabites and the Ammonites.

Isaiah 11:15-16

15 The Lord will dry up the arm of the Red Sea near Egypt, and he will send a scorching wind to divide the Euphrates River into seven streams that anyone can step across. 16 Then for his people who survive, there will be a good road from Assyria, just as there was a good road for their ancestors when they left Egypt. (CEV)

At the beginning of the Millennium, God will gather the Israelites to return to the Promised Land from all nations. He will dry up the Gulf of Suez and the Euphrates River so that His people can return to Israel on dry land.

Conclusion

The ancestry of the Messiah (Isaiah 11:1)

Jesus Christ is the descendant of David and He is the long-awaited Messiah of the Israelites.

The anointing of the Messiah (Isaiah 11:2)

The Messiah was anointed by the Holy Spirit, giving Him unlimited power and wisdom.

The administration of the Messiah (Isaiah 11:3-5)

The Messiah King will govern the earth justly and righteously.

The achievement of the Messiah (Isaiah 11:6-16)

When Jesus Christ returns, He will make the nations turn towards Him, and He will gather His Chosen People to return to their homeland as a family.

3) “Exercise” (X)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 The Holy Spirit who is with the believers all the time, ask Him to grant us wisdom and power.

2 As we firmly believe the truth regarding the second coming of Christ, ask the Lord to grant us hope to face the challenges in the future. 

3 Maintain a close relationship with the Lord, as we could have the knowledge and wisdom to deal with personal relationship and matters.

4 Let us experience more of God’s majesty that we can fear Him more.

5 By using our own exemplary conduct to influence each other to fear God.

6 Let’s not treat others according to what we see and hear solely, and don’t condemn other people easily.

4) “Proclaim” (P)

By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.

iEXP Bible Study Method

After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.

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