Isaiah 56-58

A Word on False Worship, True Humility and God’s Chosen  

In these chapters, Isaiah presents a series of indictments against the disobedient in Israel and also a word of encouragement to the faithful.

A CHARGE AGAINST THE LEADERS OF ISRAEL (Isaiah 56:9-57:10)

The godless conduct of Israel’s leaders was responsible for the fall of Judah to Babylon. If the prophets, priests, and people had sought the Lord in true repentance, God would have intervened on their behalf. Isaiah called these faithless ones “blind watchmen” and “sleeping dogs” (Isa. 56:10-11).

In the final days of Judah’s existence, prior to the Babylon invasion, idolatry polluted the Holy Land and Jerusalem. Idolatry is equivalent to spiritual adultery and prostitution (Isa. 57:3). The nation’s leaders betrayed the people by perpetuating idolatry and immorality (Isa. 57:1-8). Literally, the constituents visited shrine prostitutes and offered their children as sacrifices by fire on altars in the mountains. The leaders consulted pagan spiritualists and trusted in them for protection (Isa. 57:9).

A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE FAITHFUL REMNANT (Isaiah 57:14-21)

Isaiah proclaims that a special highway will be built in the last days, so that the Jewish exiles may return to their land and serve the Lord (Isa. 57:14; 11:16). God will dwell with His people, because He honors the humility of the faithful. They understand that pride is a sin that God detests (Isa. 57:15; 66:2; Prov. 6:16-17).

The high and holy God does not live in heavenly isolation, but with the humble and contrite heart. The “humble and contrite heart” is in contrast with the self-satisfaction and self-will of the spiritually dead person. The humble ones who have sorrow for sin can be made a monument of divine grace (Isa. 57:15). It has been said that God has three dwelling places: firstly, in the highest heavens; secondly, in the sanctuary; and thirdly, in a humble and contrite heart.

A WORD OF ADVICE ON FASTING (Isaiah 58:3-14)

Fasting has been a part of Jewish observance since ancient times. Isaiah indicates that the children of Israel were complaining that they were not rewarded for their fasts. However, Isaiah reminds them that true fasting should lead to humility before God and service to others, not strife and oppression.

Messiah Jesus likewise informs us that worship involves more than outward ritual. It includes obedience and submission to God (Mt. 6:16-18). A true fast is to deprive ourselves so that we can share with others to the glory of the Lord. Isaiah describes the attributes of the type of fasting God honors (Isa. 58:6-12).

CONCLUSION:
RESTING IN GOD’S GIFT OF THE SABBATH

Worshiping the Lord in spirit and truth, as Isaiah urges, leads to authentic Sabbath rest. This rest has many dimensions, including:

(1)  Rest for the body:  The Sabbath Day (Isa. 58:13-14; Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11; Heb. 4:4).

(2)  Rest for the feet:  The rest that Joshua gave when Israel settled down in the Promised Land (Heb. 4:8).

(3)  Rest for the soul (Heb. 4:10).

(4)  Rest for the mind and spirit—
sanctification rest—through yielding our lives to the Lord (Heb. 4:11).

(5)  Eternal rest (Heb. 4:9).

Are you resting in the Lord?

 

The Works of a Mighty God

Michael, our missionary in Sevastopol, Crimea, attends a Messianic Jewish congregation. Before the holiday of Purim, Michael received an appeal from the Jewish community of the city of Eupatoria for assistance in celebrating Purim. They said that there was an old synagogue in Eupatoria that has been long unused because there is no rabbi. But the Jewish community agreed to resume meeting and to celebrate Purim. Someone advised them to seek the assistance of Messianic Jews. Thus, they found Michael who gladly responded and helped with the Purim celebration.

The director of our work in Russia writes, “We try to use every opportunity to spread the Gospel to God’s chosen people, and we couldn’t miss this opportunity to bring the Good News to the Jews of Eupatoria. Michael organized the Purim celebration and this feast became the day of dedication of the synagogue. Michael openly spoke about his faith in Yeshua the Messiah and also about the changes in his life that occurred through faith in Yeshua. After the holiday, many Jewish people came and thanked him for the wonderful celebration of Purim.” Please pray for Michael and the work in Crimea. Pray that our staff have more opportunities to share the Gospel with Jewish people.

Holocaust Survivor
Reads About Her Messiah

Sharon, a full-time volunteer with our Fort Lauderdale branch, reported that Deborah,* an Orthodox Jewish Holocaust survivor, ordered Isaiah 53 Explained because she was curious. She said she was not sure that Jesus is the Messiah, but promised to read the book. Deborah was also interested in trying out a Messianic congregation. She asked for Sharon’s phone number in case she had questions about Isaiah 53 Explained. Deborah is extremely open to the Gospel. A similar story happened with another Orthodox Jewish woman, Bobbie.*  This is almost unheard of in our work. Praise the Lord for drawing these two Jewish women to himself. We are honored to be the vessels He uses to tell His Jewish people about the Messiah.

I FOUND SHALOM

Do you know a Jewish person who is interested in Jesus? Invite them to watch the testimonies found on our website: www.ifoundshalom.com

Risen Film Ignites Curiosity for Jewish Women in Phoenix

Cathy Wilson, who faithfully ministers in the Scottsdale, Arizona area, writes, “During our weekly Bible study, Sara,* a Jewish woman who desires to learn of Jesus, and Beatrice,* a Holocaust survivor who is open, asked if we could view the film focused on Jesus’ resurrection, Risen. We did! Sara was glued to the screen. She audibly expressed her emotions. The film ended; Sara turned to me and remarked, ‘That was excellent. That was powerful.’ As we discussed Risen over coffee, Sara asked, ‘If we believe in God, shouldn’t we believe in His Son?’ Our studies continue. Sara has been verbalizing greater understanding while yet conveying resistance. Please pray for both these women!”

Sowing Seeds in Brooklyn

Joseph, a leader in our Brooklyn congregation, has recently been giving away tracts to Jewish students at a local college. A religious Jewish man from Joseph’s Hebrew class was intrigued and asked Joseph  “Is Easter is like a Christian Passover?” Joseph had the opportunity to explain to him that Resurrection Sunday (Easter) celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus the Messiah from the dead, and that three days earlier during Passover, Jesus was crucified as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Please continue to pray that these little seeds will blossom into full-blown opportunities to share the Good News.

A Divine Coincidence?

Our Florida staff member, Greg S., was following up with Jewish people who had ordered our Isaiah 53 Explained book. As he was going down the list he saw a unique name; it was also a familiar name. It turned out to be the sister of a man Greg had led to the Lord and whose wedding he officiated. The woman remembered the wedding and Greg. She said she ordered the book for her son. She was thrilled by the connection and saw that it was not mere coincidence. Let’s pray for this family. May the God of Israel draw them to Himself through His Son, the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the world.

Jesus is Everywhere

Sometimes ministry moves slowly; other times it is an avalanche. Our volunteer Katie, who works at our guesthouse for traveling Israelis in Brazil, had the opportunity to speak with three Israelis about God’s standard for right and wrong. While this was going on Tal*, an Israeli, came outside and pointedly asked our staff member Stephen, “Do you really believe that Jesus is God?”

Stephen stated, “At this point I was amazed at how spiritually hungry all these Israelis are, but this was only the beginning. I answered his question, and Tal had 20 more to follow it. During our discussion, I saw Daniel (another volunteer) getting into a spiritual conversation with another Israeli. There were so many Gospel conversations that Shai* (another Israeli traveler) walked outside and exclaimed, ‘Jesus is everywhere!’”

Tal and I talked for at least an hour. He identifies as an atheist, but later that day he commented, “This is probably the most important day of my trip. I’ve been alive for 22 years, and I’ve never heard what people believe about Jesus until now.”

Jesus Intrigues an Israeli TOW Truck Driver

Sometimes what seem like frustrating situations to us are actually God at work, putting people in our path. One such situation happened to our staff member, Ryan Karp. Minutes before leaving for an eight-hour road trip, Ryan’s car broke down. He called a tow truck, and guess what? The tow truck driver was Israeli! Ryan began talking about Jesus, and Oren* was so intrigued that he offered to drive Ryan home after they dropped the car off at the dealership so he could hear more about Jesus. He told Ryan that he is available on Saturdays to discuss Jesus further. Praise God for this “hassle” that put Oren in Ryan’s life! Please pray for Oren to come to know the Lord.

Jewish Brooklyn Hears about the Jewish Messiah

The director of our Brooklyn Center, Robert, has seen God do some pretty incredible things recently. One day a number of Orthodox Jewish men came to the services, and this was not the first time. Robert writes, “They are coming from different places and for different reasons. I believe God is drawing them by His Spirit.” One of these men, Elias,* showed up and began asking very pointed questions about Jesus and how it was possible for the Jewish people to believe in Him. Robert assured him that Jesus was Jewish and that the New Testament is a very Jewish book. This sparked a half hour conversation about the Gospel. Elias admitted that he has not read the New Testament, so Robert challenged him to read it for himself and then make a decision about whether or not Jesus is Messiah. The man agreed that this would be the best thing to do but still refused to take a copy. He did, however, take a copy of Isaiah 53 Explained in Hebrew and promised to read it and return. Please pray for Elias, that he will read the New Testament, see the Jewish Messiah on its pages and be saved!

 

Jewish College Students Meet the Messiah in the Old Testament

Joseph, a leader in our Brooklyn congregation, has been taking a class at Brooklyn College called Messianic Movements in Jewish History. On the first day of class he identified himself as a Christian and the teacher asked him to present “Jesus as Messiah, particularly stressing His historical Jewish context in first century Israel.” The teacher also asked Joseph to share key texts “regarding this matter found in the New Testament.”

Knowing that almost every student in the class was Jewish, Joseph used the Old Testament to demonstrate Jesus as Messiah. He made copies for every student of a commentary showing agreement between the early rabbis and Christians in the interpretation of key Messianic prophecies. One included Isaiah 53, the clearest picture of the atoning work of Jesus on the cross, and another showed that the Messiah would come and be “cut off” before the destruction of the Second Temple, the very same year that Jesus was crucified (Daniel 9)!

Please pray for the seeds that were planted among the
25 students in Joseph’s class, most of whom are religious Jewish kids.

Germany’s Jewish “Church” Continues to Grow

Weekly fellowships at our Berlin congregation are “on a roll!” Three months ago our German leader, Vladimir Pikman, encouraged the congregation to begin meeting in weekly fellowship groups, and already there are more than twenty such communities.

These small communities include two women’s fellowships (one in German and one in Russian), two youth fellowships, two prayer fellowships, five Bible fellowships, two evangelistic fellowships, fellowships for women with little children, an Israeli fellowship, and a fellowship at a Jewish retirement home. There is even a Persian Messianic community that is beginning to grow. Praise the Lord!

The Gospel is Preached to Jewish People in Crimea, Despite Difficulties

Kirill, a staff member in Ukraine, was on a mission trip in Sevastopol, Crimea in mid-March. He was visiting the two Messianic Jewish congregations in Sevastopol and Eupatoria. After one of the services Kirill met with the former head of the local traditional Jewish community, Abram.* Abram has become a believer and has a passion to see his fellow Jewish people come to know their Messiah. Abram told Kirill about the difficulties faced by the elderly and the disabled people; most people are experiencing financial troubles. We want to ask you to join in praying for these precious people.

The Gospel at 30,000 Feet

Recently, Darlene, one of our staff members serving in the New York area, was on a small jet seated in the aisle seat next to a thirty-year-old man, Pete,* in the window seat. Across the aisle (same row) sat Jake* (also thirty years old) in the window seat.  She was reading some Messianic literature and apparently it caught Pete’s attention and he began to ask her questions about Israel and Messianic Jews.

They had a conversation about Jesus and the Torah. Pete has a heart for Israel and the Jewish people and he is searching for the truth. Darlene answered Pete’s questions, pointed to Jesus being the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53), and talked about Nicodemus and baptism. As she was talking to Pete, Jake switched his seat and sat in the aisle seat, leaving only the two-foot aisle space between them. Darlene writes, “I sensed Jake was listening to Pete and me. Unbeknownst to me, I later learned while waiting at baggage claim that Jake is an Israeli from Tel Aviv!” One thing is for certain: both these young men heard the truth about Jesus, and His Gospel!

THE GOSPEL “IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE.”
Recently, our staff in Philadelphia was on Temple University’s campus. They were sharing all day about God with non-Jewish and Jewish students - including a few from Israel. They write: “We had many in-depth conversations about prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures that point to Yeshua as the Messiah. It was fantastic!” At the end of the day, they met an older Christian woman. This dear woman had been trying to share about the Lord with her Jewish friend for many years, but wanted to do it in a way that her friend could better understand. Part of the mission of Chosen People Ministries is to educate and “help fellow believers” to more effectively love, evangelize, and reach the Jewish people. Our team gave the woman a variety of resources, and they told her to focus on Messianic prophecies, such as Isaiah 53. Two days later, our staff received a phone call from the Christian woman saying she was able to share in “her Jewish friend’s own language” and style! Wonderfully, this 90-year old Jewish lady believed and embraced Yeshua as her own Messiah!

ISRAELI MUSICIAN, SEARCHING FOR THE MEANING OF LIFE, HEARS THE GOSPEL
Ministry continues in Israel. There have been great opportunities for our staff to meet and share with young people through the coffee house music nights our ministry puts on. At a couple of these venues, there is a regular crowd. Our staff has been excited about getting to know some of the musicians and regulars, getting to share the Gospel and seeing them when they come back with questions or comments on how interesting it is to think about spiritual things. Some say, “It could be that Jesus is the Messiah.” One of these young musicians is Dov.* From a very secular Jewish home, Dov did not learn much about the scriptures. As a teen, he decided there must be something more to why we are here. He has been asking lots of good questions. Recently Dov was introduced to Israeli musicians who believe in Jesus. Please pray for Dov to come to know Jesus in a personal way.

AN ORTHODOX MAN FINDS MESSIAH
With the promise of spring comes the festival of Passover. We absolutely love this holiday and look forward to it every year! The Lord is faithful to do wonderful things during this time, and we are sure that this year will be no different. This season is always the busiest for our ministry. God was faithful to bring our staff in Maryland into contact with an Orthodox Jewish man who accepted Jesus as his Messiah recently. It is our prayer that he will keep in contact with us so we can disciple him in his new faith! Please join us in this prayer.

PASSOVER: A PICTURE OF REBIRTH AND REDEMPTION


This month, the image of new birth is particularly powerful as we prepare to celebrate the Passover. Our Los Angeles staff is planning regular dinners in the park next to the theater in which the congregation regularly meets. They will also have a large visible presence in the park with special artisan coffee and pastries, inviting people to a special service. Our staff member writes, “Since many people in Los Angeles feel lonely and isolated because they have left both family and friends to pursue their career dreams, these citywide dinners will be designed to make those in our community feel both welcomed and loved. Like last year, we are expecting God to do great things, well beyond our imagination.”

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