God of surprises

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his woulds we are healed." Isaiah 53.5


Confession time again: I thought I was coming to the conference I am currently attending for the sake of it. I have attended a conference about the prophet Isaiah before (our theme) and harboured no immediate intentions of preaching through the biblical book which is attributed to him (the purpose of the conference). But two things struck me in the opening session: the number of chapters into which Isaiah's prophecy is divided reflects the number of books in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible (39 and 27) and in the heart of the second (New Testament) section lies Isaiah's anticipation of the cross (quoted above). This is a book for our times and it confirms how the whole Bible speaks as clearly and relevantly today as to any day.


So time to eat humble pie again and revise my intentions for that next sermon series...


Yet why should any of the above matter? After all, Isaiah was not written in chapters originally and he does not mention Jesus by name, so all of the above may be coincidence. Indeed, but Isaiah did predict the invasion of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians and he lived to see it happen. He predicted the destruction of the southern kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians and that also occurred, though many years after his death. He also foresaw the arising of King Cyrus and his enlightened policy of returning exiles to their homeland, so that they might pray for him (Isaiah 45.1). So he sounds like a reliable guide to the future!

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