Shades of grace and peace: Grace is like flying without any effort. Grace always comforts. Grace requires listening. Grace believes the goodness of God, even in the face of pain, suffering, sorrow, oppression, injustice and tragedy. Grace sings. Grace is a constant open invitation. Grace causes rejoicing all the days of our life.
Thank God who blessed our first international Malaysian conference in Kuala Lumpur from June 29 to July 1, 2017 with the theme of Grace and Peace. The next day, July 2, was the first Malaysian UBF wedding between Ison Hong and Nicky/Becky from Taiwan. In today's service--a personal review of the conference--Isaiah helps us to know what God most desires to freely give us: Grace and Peace.
The seven words of Grace and Peace are:
- Wait (Isa 40:31). Wait/hope/trust God and fly effortlessly.
- Comfort (Isa 40:1). Comfort and security. God's word is sure.
- Listen (Isa 48:18). Listen and live in peace.
- Believe (Isa 53:1). Believe and live in awe of grace.
- Sing (Isa 54:1). Sing and shout for joy.
- Come (Isa 55:1). Come and experience grace.
- Rejoice (Isa 55:12). Rejoice, dance and clap your hands.
* Wait, hope and trust in God (Isa 40:31) [Opening address, Steve Haga, Taiwan]. Allow God to bless you, rather than seek your own blessing. When we wait on God, we are enabled to fly effortlessly like an eagle, using hardly any of our own effort, strength and energy, being buoyed by the wind of the Spirit of God (Jn 3:8). Even when we do not fly in exhilaration we are not static and stagnant but running without being weary and walking without ever fainting or tiring.
* Comfort is what God confers on his people (Isa 40:1) [Lecture 1, Ison Hong, Malaysia]. We are weak, frail, transient, even unreliable, but God's word endures forever (Isa 40:8).
* Listen (Isa 48:18) [Bible study eliminated from the conference program]. God laments that his people do not experience peace like a river nor what is best for them (Isa 48:17), because they will not listen to Him.
* Believe (Isa 53:1) [Lecture 2, Vincent Lee, Malaysia]. Isaiah 40-66 can be divided into three equal parts of nine chapters each. 40-48 is about physical salvation (Cyrus delivered the Israelites from Babylonian exile and allowed them to return to their homeland). 49-57 is about spiritual salvation (The Servant saves his people from their sins). 57-66 is about ultimate salvation (A new heaven and a new earth). The center of the middle nine chapters (49-57) is Isaiah 53. The middle of Isaiah 53 (52:13-53:12) is Isa 53:5 -- "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 wounds we are healed."
* Sing (Isa 54:1) [Lecture 3, Bob Henkins, US]. We will sing and shout for joy to the degree we realize what the Servant has done for us in Isaiah 53.
* Come (Isa 55:1) [Lecture 4, Jimmon Rubillos, Philippines]. God's invitation is to:
- Experience (1-3). Experience the gospel of grace.
- Extend (4-7). Extend/expand the gospel of grace (to the nations).
- Entrust (8-11). Entrust to the God of grace.
* Rejoice (Isa 55:12) [Closing address, Rhoel Lomahan, US]. When we truly know the grace of God the only appropriate response is to rejoice.
* Grace Comforts (Isa 40:1)
- [Isaiah 40] Why do the people of God need comfort / encouragement (40:1-2; Ps 137:1, 3-5)? What must they do (40:3-4)? How will God help them (40:5, 10-11)? What two things must they know (40:6-8)?
* Grace Waits (Isa 40:31)
- What do God’s people complain about (40:27)? What do they forget (40:28-29)? What must they do (40:31; 7:4, 9)?
* Grace Believes (Isa 53:1)
- [Isaiah 53] This servant song (Isa 52:13-53:12) begins and ends in triumph (52:13; 53:12a). What about the rest of the song? What is the principle of life/success (Phil 2:5-11; Jn 12:24)? How could Jesus go through the cross (Heb 12:2)?
- Explain the rhetorical question in 53:1 (Jn 12:37-38; Rom 10:16; Isa 50:2; 52:10). Why do people despise the servant (53:2)? Why does Yahweh’s promised deliverer look like this (53:3-4a; Mt 8:17)? Why did “we” think the servant suffered (4b)? But what was the actual reason for his suffering (4a, 5, 6b)?
- What is the difference between the sheep in us (6) vs. the sheep in him (7)? What was the servant's attitude when he has brutalized and humiliated (7)? Why (50:5-6; Jn 10:14-18; 1 Pet 2:23)? What did people think (8)? Did he deserve this (9)? Ultimately, why did this servant suffer and die (10a, 12b)? With what result (10b-12a)?
* Grace Sings (Isa 54:1)
- [Isaiah 54] What is God promising his exiled people (54:1-10, 4, 10)? Is 54:1 a most disobeyed command in the Bible? Why were the Bible teachers in Jesus’ day like sourpusses (Mt 9:17; Mk 2:22; Lk 19:38-40; Gal 5:22)?
- Explain the five titles of God (54:5). What are two ways God loves us (54:7-8)? What does the “covenant of peace (shalom)” teach us about God (54:10; 9:6-7; 26:3, 12; 52:7; 53:5; Eze 37:26; Rom 5:1)?
* Grace Invites (Isa 55:1)
- [Isaiah 55] What is God inviting his people to come and receive for free (1-2)? What is the delightful and satisfying free food (3a; 25:6,8; Mt 11:28-30; 55:7b)? How can it be free (6:6-7; 53:5)? What is God’s desire for his people (3b-5; 2:1-5; 49:6)?
- What does “…while he may be found” and “…while he is near” imply (6; Jer 29:13; Dt 4:29)? How is this promise also a caution? What causes us to “miss” the Lord (7)? What is the human problem (8-9; Ps 94:11)? How is the “word” (55:11; 40:8; Jn 6:63) like rain (10; 14:24, 27; Jer 1:12)? What does it do to those who listen (48:17-18; 66:2; 57:15)?
* Grace Rejoices (Isa 55:12)
- What will renewed creation do (12-13; 35:10; 51:11; Rom 8:20-21; cf. 1:2; 66:24)?