Thursday in the Third Week of Advent

(If this day occurs after December 16, please refer to that date in the

list of devotions.)

Isaiah 33:1-24

The Blessings of Baptism, Even If by Fire

Isaiah 33 picks up were Isaiah 32 left off.  It begins with the destruction and desolation of Assyria.  (Assyria is not named but that is who we think verse one refers to.)  But Assyria simply stands for that which oppresses God’s people, and we should remember that we wrestle not “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). The cry of verse two is the cry of every believer’s heart: “O Lord be gracious to us; we wait for you.  Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.”  Thereupon is a description of the waste of the land because of the Assyrian onslaught that Israel and Judah experienced: “The land mourns and languishes; Lebanon is confounded and withers away.”

Is this not a description of our souls when we have been away from the Lord, when we have allowed the enemy to wreak havoc upon ourselves, when we have been careless with our hearts, falling before temptation such that sin no longer bothers us?  This is a sad state of affairs, but I fear it is the place where too many of us stand in relation to the Lord of glory.  Yet, if we will hear again the words our Lord first preached when he walked among us, “Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” we can experience again our Lord’s cleansing and forgiveness.  “`Now I will arise,’ says the Lord, ‘Now I will lift myself up; now I will be exalted.  You conceive chaff; and you give birth to stubble.’”  Is this not a fitting picture of ourselves apart from the Lord, powerless and falling before every temptation?

In this state, the Christian knows that God is not fooled, and He will not be mocked.  “Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”  We ask because we know that our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).  But it is this fire, as painful as it is, that burns away our dross, and cleanses us of our sins.  Thus, when John the Baptist described the One who was to come after him, he said that He would baptize “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).  Repentance is not easy work, neither is taking up the cross and following Him.  But we look to the city beyond the horizon and to the One who calls us: “Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty; they will see a land that stretches afar.”  No longer shall we fear that which troubles us today, and we will wonder at the defeat of our enemy.  “The Lord is our king; he will save us.”  And “the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.”

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Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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