August 5: Patterns and Prophecies
Isaiah 9:1–10:19; Luke 3:1–38; Job 3:1–16
Luke sees the events surrounding Jesus’ life through the lens of Isaiah. For Luke, Jesus’ life is Isaiah’s prophecy made tangible and complete. Jesus is the anticipated Messiah, prophet, and savior. Even John the Baptist’s role in Jesus’ life is based on Isaiah’s prophesy. Luke repeats the metaphor of “the wilderness” from Isaiah—used by the prophet to describe the time when the Israelites would come out from their captivity in Babylon—to cast John the Baptist as a central figure in God’s work.
The wilderness metaphor doesn’t originate with Isaiah. He uses it to represent the second time God’s people entered the land He promised them (the term originally comes from the time when the Israelites roamed the wilderness after the exodus). Luke quotes Isaiah in casting John the Baptist as “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight! Every valley will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be leveled, and the crooked will become straight, and the rough road will become smooth, and all flesh will see the salvation of God’ ” (Luke 3:4–6; quoting Isa 40:3–5). For Luke, the smoothing of the rough road represents a change in the spiritual landscape, and the flesh that sees the salvation of God means the message is not just for the Jewish people but for all people—including Luke himself.
Luke builds upon this connection by identifying Jesus as the child that is prophesied in Isaiah (Luke 1:26–28):
“For a child has been born for us; a son has been given to us. And the dominion will be on his shoulder, and his name is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His dominion will grow continually, and to peace there will be no end on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and sustain it with justice and righteousness now and forever. The zeal of Yahweh of hosts will do this” (Isa 9:6–7).
Luke is adept at the art of connecting the Testaments. He tells us directly that he’s quoting Isaiah, and in doing so, he illustrates that God works by building current events on the foundation of past events. Those events form the basis of prophecy—God’s way of telling us both what He has done and what He will do in times to come.
Although the way God works is too great for us to comprehend, He allows us to see patterns in His work; we just need to look for them and believe they are there. If we focus on God’s works and the echoes and harmonies between them, our perspective on the events of our lives changes dramatically. We glimpse the reality that God is not only at work in today’s matters, but He is also using them to prepare and signify the events that are to come. The patterns are as important as the events, as God uses both to reveal Himself to us.
What patterns are you noticing in your life? How do you think God is working and will continue to work through you?
JOHN D. BARRY
- Yet the darkness shall not be according to the affliction, that it had when at the first he touched lightly the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, nor afterward when he was more grievous by the way of the sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the Gentiles. The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: they that dwelled in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased their joy: they have rejoiced before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide a spoil. For the yoke of their burden, and the staff of their shoulder, and the rod of their oppressor hast thou broken, as in the day of Midian. Surely every battle of the warrior is with noise, and with tumbling of garments in blood: but this shall be with burning, and devouring of fire. For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given: and the government is upon his shoulder, and he shall call his name, Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The prince of peace. The increase of his government and peace shall have none end: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to stablish it with judgment, and with justice, from henceforth, even forever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. The Lord hath sent a word into Jacob, and it lighted upon Israel. And all the people shall know, even Ephraim, and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and presumption of their heart, The bricks are fallen, but we will build it with hewn stones: the wild fig trees are cut down, but we will change them into cedars. Nevertheless, the Lord will raise up the adversaries of Rezin against him, and join his enemies together. Aram before and the Phlistines behind, and they shall devour Israel with open mouth: yet for all this his wrath is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts. Therefore will the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush in one day. The ancient and the honorable man, he is the head: and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. For the leaders of the people cause them to err: and they that are led by them are devoured. Therefore shall the Lord have no pleasure in their young men, neither will he have compassion of their fatherless and of their widows: for everyone is an hypocrite and wicked, and every mouth speaketh folly: yet for all this his wrath is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. For wickedness burneth as a fire: it devoureth the briers and the thorns, and will kindle in the thick places of the forest: and they shall mount up like the lifting up the smoke. By the wrath of the Lord of hosts shall the land be darkened, and the people shall be as the meat of the fire: no man shall spare his brother. And he shall snatch at the right hand, and be hungry: and he shall eat on the left hand, and shall not be satisfied: everyone shall eat the flesh of his own arm. Manasseh Ephraim: and Ephraim Manasseh, and they both shall be against Judah: yet for all this his wrath is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. Isaiah 9:1–10:19
- Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being Tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip Tetrarch of Iturea, and of the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the Tetrarch of Abilene, (When Annas and Caiaphas were the high Priests) the word of God came unto John, the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the coasts about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, As it is written in the book of the sayings of Isaiah the Prophet, which saith, The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness is, Prepare ye the way of the Lord: make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and crooked things shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Then said he to the people that were come out to be baptized of him, O generations of vipers, who hath forewarned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy amendment of life, and begin not to say with yourselves, We have Abraham to our Father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. Now also is the axe laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be hewn down, and cast into the fire. Then the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? And he answered, and said unto them, He that hath two coats, let him part with him that hath none: and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came there Publicans also to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Require no more than that which is appointed unto you. The soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages. As the people waited, and all men mused in their hearts of John, if he were not that Christ. John answered, and said to them all, Indeed I baptize you with water, but one stronger than I, cometh, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose: he will baptize you with the holy Ghost, and with fire. Whose fan is in his hand, and he will make clean his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner, but the chaff will he burn up with fire that never shall be quenched. Thus then exhorting with many other things, he preached unto the people. But when Herod the Tetrarch was rebuked of him, for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, He added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison. Now it came to pass, as all the people were baptized, and that Jesus was baptized and did pray, that the heaven was opened: And the holy Ghost came down in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and there was a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son: in thee I am well pleased. And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being as men supposed the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, The son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph, The son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, The son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah, The son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, The son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er, The son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, The son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim, The son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David, The son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, The son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, The son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, The son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, The son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, The son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan, The son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. Luke 3:1–38
- Afterward Job opened his mouth, and cursed his day. And Job cried out, and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night when it was said, There is a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness, let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it, But let darkness and the shadow of death strain it: let the cloud remain upon it, and let them make it fearful as a bitter day. Let darkness possess that night, let it not be joined unto the days of the year, nor let it come into the count of the months. Yea, desolate be that night, and let no joy be in it. Let them that curse the day, (being ready to renew their mourning) curse it. Let the stars of that twilight be dim through darkness of it: let it look for light, but have none: neither let it see the dawning of the day, Because it shut not up the doors of my mother’s womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes. Why died I not in the birth? or why died I not, when I came out of the womb? Why did the knees prevent me? and why did I suck the breasts? For so should I now have lain and been quiet, I should have slept then, and been at rest, With the kings and counselors of the earth, which have built themselves desolate places: Or with the princes that had gold, and have filled their houses with silver. Or why was I not hid, as an untimely birth, either as infants, which have not seen the light? Job 3:1–16