Friday, June 21, 2013

Isaiah 52 & 53: Gospel is "Your God Reigns!"

Isa 52:7-10 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" 

Isa 52:13-53:6 See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at hicm — his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness —  so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand. Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah extols those who are evangelists--"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation." "Evangelist" is derived from Greek euangelion, which means good (eu) news (angelos). This is often translated in the older English Bibles as "gospel."  Isaiah explains the message is good news because it brings peace, joy and salvation. But what is the heart of this good news? Essentially, it is this: "Your God reigns!" (Isa 52:7).

But doesn't God always reign? Yes and No: It's true that God rules over the nations whether people acknowledge Him or not (like Cyrus). But He only reigns over a people who acknowledge Him and submit to His rule. In the Great Commission, we often miss the good news stated there, which is this: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Mt 28:18). The Good News (Gospel) is this: Jesus Christ has been exalted and is now the God who reigns!

The Great Commission is often quoted as "Go and make disciples of all nations" without paying attention to the word "Therefore" which points us back to verse 18 that gives us the rationale for making disciples, viz., that the King is now installed and membership is open to anyone who wants to come in through faith in Christ. Instead, Christians often make disciples in order to get them to submit to their church doctrines, denominational practices and to their church pastors. Instead of teaching Christians to submit to Christ as the Head (Lord and King) over the church, we make them submit to our church laws and disciplines.

The Good News (Gospel) of the Kingdom is simply this: Jesus Christ is the God who now reigns over sin, sickness and Satan through His self-sacrifice at the Cross: "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa 53:4-6).

Satan and sin's power has finally been defeated at the Cross, and the Good News is this: we can be part of the Kingdom of God where Jesus Christ reigns! Hallelujah! Not only that, this membership in the Kingdom is free because Jesus has paid the full price for our membership.

Unfortunately, though many Christians have received the gift of membership in the Kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ, yet they have not experience the full blessings of the Kingdom, viz., healing, freedom from sin and Satan, and the gift of the Holy Spirit because they have not been taught that having confessed Jesus as Lord (King) we must now submit to His reign over our lives. It's like getting the Singapore citizenship freely but yet refusing to submit to the governmental authority here as represented by our laws. We can only enjoy the blessings of living in Singapore if we are prepared to submit to the stringent laws here. So, Christians may have received Kingdom citizenship freely through faith in Christ but yet failed to enjoy the Kingdom blessings of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit simply because they are not prepared to submit to God's reign over  their lives as represented by the Law of Christ expounded by the Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

There is no two-way about it--if we are members of God's Kingdom, we must submit to Christ as our Lord and King so that He can conquer sin, sickness and Satan in our lives: "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you" (James 4:7-8).

Therefore, let all who called ourselves Christian be evangelists with beautiful feet by acknowledging and submitting ourselves to Jesus Christ, so that we may in turn tells others: "Our God reigns!"

Father, thank You that we are members of the Kingdom by faith, and we can submit to Your reign and experience Kingdom blessings daily. Amen.

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