Series: The Lion and the Lamb
Message: God's Weird Work
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Becky De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Adrian Peterson
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Isaiah 63:1-6 in The Living Bible (TLB). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Perhaps we’ve discussed revenge enough. Let’s move to the promise of salvation that is probably the main point of the passage, although I think I can be forgiven for wondering about some of the implications of the imagery and language. And I hardly need much coaxing to start reciting movie clips or talking about The Count of Monte Cristo!
The Living Bible (TLB) describes a figure “marching on the greatness of his strength” who proclaims Himself “mighty to save!” The last verses of the previous chapter (Isaiah 62) make the promise that Chapter 63 shows being fulfilled. God sends “messengers to every land” instructing them as follows: “Tell my people, I, the Lord your God, am coming to save you and will bring you many gifts” (Verse 11).
The gifts are not immediately apparent in the first verses of Chapter 63, but the salvation certainly is if we equate salvation with the vanquishing of enemies, which I suppose we might as well do. God reports that He “executed vengeance alone, unaided,” that He “meted out judgement,” and that He “crushed the heathen nations” making them “stagger and fall to the ground” (Verses 5-6).
It seems that we are generally meant to understand passages like this as describing both actual events that occurred in the past (deliverance of Israel) and also as offering a promise to us for the future. We are meant to take God’s fulfillment of His promises in the past as evidence of what He will do for us.
While God laments the failure of anyone to help—He seems to have been waiting for someone else to “redeem them from the hands of their oppressors” (Verse 4)—the fact that no one steps up doesn’t stop Him from taking matters into His own hands. So much for the old saying, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” He no doubt does—but He also helps those who cannot or will not help themselves or anyone else. He is “amazed and appalled” at the lack of help, but He takes care of the enemy nations anyway, rescuing the people.
Here God demonstrates the strength of His promises, but His words and actions raise questions about our own agency. Since God is disappointed that no one redeemed the people from their oppressors, it is evident that it must have been possible for them to have done so. Perhaps salvation would have come sooner if they had acted? Is there anything we can or should be doing right now in an effort toward overturning oppressive forces in our world?
Recalibrate: What does this passage suggest about our responsibility for stamping out oppression?
Respond: Stand up for someone who needs your help—in a big or a small way.
Research: Look into issues of social injustice in the world today.
Remember: “I have the power to save you” (Isaiah 63:1, ICB).
Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, editor, and graphic designer. She is working on a PhD in research methods at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
If today is windy where you live, go outside with your little one. If it is a calm day at your place, you can use a hair dryer or fan for this activity. Notice how the wind moves your hair, or the trees, or a piece of paper. Even though you can’t see it, can you feel the wind on your face? The wind has the power to move things. Our Words to Remember are “I have the power to save you” (Isaiah 63:1, ICB). Know that God has the power not only to move us out of a season, but He has the power to save us from it if we let Him.
Challenge yourself today to look for sources of power around you. The wind is certainly powerful, but what about water? Or people? Or electricity? Count the number of power sources you can find today. Take time to thank God for being more powerful than anything else we may see today and for using His power to save us.
In these verses, the Lord seems to be quite angry, so angry that He had to do something about it. Something important to remember is that God’s anger is not like our anger. Remember what I did to that guy in yesterday’s story? That is an example of me letting anger get the better of me. When God gets angry it is always for the right reasons, but while we can get angry for the right reasons what we do with that anger is not very nice. The Bible teaches that it is OK to be angry but we need to control our anger and not let it cause us to sin (see Ephesians 4:26).
What can you do next time you get angry? How can you be calm and let it pass or how can you focus it so it does good for others and does not become harmful?
When Jesus returns, people are going to ask two questions about Him: 1) Who is this? and 2) Why are His clothes red? Earlier this week we looked at who Jesus is. Jesus is a mighty warrior! But a question still remains: Why are His clothes red? In the story we are reading this week, the warrior Jesus claims that they are red because He has been in the winepress alone. This is a weird image because a winepress was a shallow pit, typically run by many men. A worker in the winepress had red splattered clothes because as the grapes were crushed, the juices would transfer onto them. This is where the story gets messy. The reason Jesus’ clothes are red is because He had been out destroying those who oppose Him. This can be viewed as frightening. Jesus is supposed to be peaceful and loving, right? This is not an image that is contrary to the love of Jesus; it actually proves His love. Jesus has to destroy evil. He had to do it alone on the cross, and only He could do it. We don’t like to think about it, but Jesus will end all sin and evil. This will mean many people will die forever. However, even in this picture we see the love of Jesus. As Jesus comes in from battle, instead of taking off His blood stained garments, He keeps them on. I like to think one of the reasons He keeps them on is that He is carrying all of the people He had to destroy in His heart. It pains Him to destroy anyone. “The will of God is that none should perish.” Jesus does not take the destruction of the wicked lightly. He bears our names in His scars, and desires that we all be with Him in heaven. What does this image of Jesus tell you about Him?
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Adrian Peterson is the associate pastor at Burwood Adventist Community Church in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.
Kyle Smith is the associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas.