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Monday, July 18, 2016

God's "Living Pictures" (Isaiah 43:12)

"I have revealed and saved and proclaimed--I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, that I am God."

Before the invention of "living pictures" (TV and movies) story telling, drama, and dance communicated ideas and philosophies--revealing that stories have always been at the forefront of communication.

God's "living picture" or "witness" is a people whose story intertwines with God Himself. The word "mercy" can be explained by looking it up in a dictionary but to really comprehend "mercy" is to look at the relationship between God and His people. God's primary way of revealing Himself is not through didactic propositions (such as books on systematic theology) but through "living stories" of the Bible--stories about real people involved in a real relationship with a real God.

The limitations of space prevent us from looking at the multiple stories that make up the greater story of Genesis, so a few examples demonstrate how the stories reveal the character or attributes of God:
  • Is God merciful? Yes! His mercy shines when God slays an innocent animal and covers the nakedness of Adam and Eve, when He blocks the entry to Eden so that Adam and Eve don't eat from the tree of life and live forever separated from Him.
  • Is God mighty? Yes! His power releases heaven's gates and floods the entire world.
  • Is God longsuffering? Yes! He tenderly teaches Abraham to walk with Him by faith even in the midst of Abraham's fears and failure.
  • Does God judge sin? Yes! Sodom and Gomorrah and all of their inhabitants (except Lot and his two daughters) perish when fiery judgment rains down from the heavens.
  • Does God love and reveal Himself to women? Yes! The first recorded appearance of the Angel of the Lord is actually to Hagar to whom He appears twice.
What do we learn about God from Isaiah's story, from his and Israel's relationship with one another and with God? That God faithfully keeps His promises energizes our faith in Him. We see that God raises up and uses foreign nations to get Israel's attention and then punishes those nations for their willingness to harm His people. An infusion of hope stirs our hearts as we read the Messianic promises given in the midst of harsh circumstances. These and many more truths are gleaned from Israel's story during the years of Isaiah (from at least 739, when Uzziah died [6:1], to 681, when Sennacherib died).

Story upon story in the Bible frame God's love, grace, power, wisdom, omniscience, etc. Just as the Bible tells the story of the relationship between God and His covenant people and reveals His divine attributes, so we, His covenant people today, are His "living picture" proclaiming who God to a lost world. We are His "show and tell".

Several question then beg to be asked: "What do those who watch my life understand about God?" "Does my life witness of His mercy, love, kindness, judgment and forgiveness of sin, etc.?

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Isaiah 43:1-46:13
  • How does God demonstrate His love for Israel even in the midst of her rebellion?
  • What does God reveal about Himself that confronts the foolishness of idol worship?
  • What does God reveal about Himself that demonstrates that He is the one true God?
Turning truth into prayer:
Ask the Lord to help you see yourself as a "living picture" that tells correctly the story of who He is.