First we sing two short songs of praise, then we read through prophecies against Babylon, the Philistines and Moab. In addition, today we read one of my favorite psalms:
Way back in my distant youth we learned this psalm in Vacation Bible School at Jefferson Baptist Church (Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge, LA). Ah, the good old days. This is how my parents raised me, fond memories of church and VBS in the summer. Simpler times perhaps, but I still remember those days, followed by the days when our girls enjoyed their time at VBS.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord is God!
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him, bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
I used the Revised Standard Version because that’s what we used circa 1970! I’m so thankful for the adults that invested in creating inviting environments for children, trusting that God would grow the little hearts. I understand why this would be chosen. Just five verses, one for each day of VBS, we were taught to recite from memory. Imagine telling a bunch of kids to “make a joyful noise!” That was easy!! At the end, we all take the stage and act out the entire psalm with great joy. Real memories, real worship, unashamed and unbridled.
These times are troubled times when youth are not taught about morality and relativism runs rampant. Thank you Lord for nurturing faith within me at a young age, for knowing Jesus Loves Me in song and in my heart. Those days seem to be gone, but we can keep your song alive through the psalms, through singing, through making a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands! Help us remember that each day!
Songs of Praise: Isaiah 12
Although you were angry, your anger is gone and now you provide comfort. Our songs of mourning are now songs of praise!
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.
One of the songs Pastor Beth puts in the rotation at Hope Fellowship, Even When It Hurts, reminds us that we will praise you Lord, even when it hurts like hell. This is a difficult song to sing, but an important lesson to impart to those who gather to worship. Just like kids at VBS, adults come to gather on Sunday to hear words that resonate within and draw them closer to God. As an adult I’m thankful for the songs that speak deeply to the heart. Let this be known to all the world: Our God has done glorious things!
Prophecy Against Babylon: Isaiah 13:1-14:27
I will punish the world for its evil,
the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms,
the pride and glory of the Babylonians,
will be overthrown by God
like Sodom and Gomorrah.
Finally, one day, those who were so proud and arrogant will be brought down, they will be no more. The avenger will avenge. The proud humbled by the Lord Almighty. The powerful words provide comfort to a people who were unable to defend themselves against an organized aggressor like Babylon. These were good words indeed.
Perhaps the Babylonians were fueled by Satan, by forces of evil. Isaiah adds this prophetic reminder in Isaiah 14:12-15:
How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
The morning star, cast down to earth, will be laid low. This will be a great and glorious day!
Prophecy Against the Philistines: Isaiah 14:28-14:32
This prophecy comes at a time when the northern kingdom has been swept away into exile by the Assyrians. I like to keep that in perspective, knowing that those hearing these words are completely familiar with the troubled times of their brothers and sisters to the north. In my mind, those who were the remnant did not gloat over the exile of Israel–I believe they felt the pain and listened to Isaiah’s words for a thread of hope in a time of violent rule by godless oppressors.
The poorest of the poor will find pasture,
and the needy will lie down in safety.
But your root I will destroy by famine;
it will slay your survivors.
Words of great assurance. A call to remain steadfast in worship and praise for the one true God.
Prophecy Against Moab: Isaiah 15-16
Isaiah names specific cities and areas that were no doubt important to the Moabites: Ar, Kir, Dibon, Nebo and Medebo to name a few. Concrete evidence that the Lord is aware of their specific offenses and will deal with them accordingly.
In love a throne will be established;
in faithfulness a man will sit on it—
one from the house of David—
one who in judging seeks justice
and speeds the cause of righteousness.
In love and faithfulness, the reign of Christ will come. That will indeed be the best days!