In Matthew 5:17-32, we address the first half of kingdom commandments indicated by Jesus formula, “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” What does it look like to be salt and light for the kingdom of heaven? Jesus is going to tell us. And the standard he sets is going to be very high indeed.
In Matthew 5:1-16, Jesus begins the sermon on the mount with a two part introduction. First, he communicates a series of virtues God affirms by rewarding. And second, he exhorts his disciples to be salt and light in society, presumably by living out the virtues that God values. But what does it look like, really, to live out the virtues? In the end, Jesus raises more questions than answers, and that is intentional.
In Matthew 3-4, we continue to follow Matthew as he sets up the context for the sermon on the mount. Who is this Jesus? What has he come to do? What is his connection to the Old Covenant? What does he mean that the kingdom of heaven is near? What is this gospel of the kingdom that Jesus proclaims?
We begin our Sermon on the Mount series with a two-part overview of Matthew 1-4 to set up our context. Who is this Jesus? What has he come to do? What is his connection to the Old Covenant? That’s what Matthew has in mind to tell us, starting with the origin of the king in chapters 1 and 2.
In Isaiah 66:18-24, the end of Isaiah speaks of the end of this age. God sets a sign among his people. And he sends survivors out to the ends of the earth. They raise the sign as a standard. It is time to gather in the nations, time for every knee to bow and every tongue confess that the Holy One of Israel, He is God.
In Isaiah 65:17-66:17, God’s response to the watcher’s lament reaches a climax with the promise of a recreation. God will create the heavens and earth anew as an eternal dwelling place for his chosen ones. Who are the chosen ones? Who are these servants of God that dwell with him forever?
In Isaiah 63:7-65:16, we move from the triumphant vision of glorious Zion to the struggle of holding onto the promise of that glorious future in the painful present. A human watcher cries out to God in a theological rich lament. God challenges the watcher to accept a more accurate perspective of what he is doing.
In Isaiah 61:10-63:6, we encounter two further songs of a mysterious figure committed to the establishment of an ideal society for God’s people. In the first song he comes dressed as a groom for a wedding. In the second song he comes dressed as a champion for battle.
In Isaiah 61:1-9 God pours out his Spirit, anointing a chosen servant to proclaim good news to the afflicted. That good news transforms God’s people. 700 years later Jesus stood up in a synagogue, read the first two verses of this passage, sat down and declared, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
In Isaiah 60, the glory of God shines out from Zion as a glorious city on a hill. Many peoples respond to that light bringing gifts of tribute to the Holy One of Israel, tribute including frankincense and gold. How does this vision of Zion relate to the church? Is this our mission to build a city of light on earth?
In Isaiah 59, the prophet first condemns the wickedness of his society and then includes himself in with all the rest as he confesses, “our sins testify against us…we know our iniquities.” Seeing no man to intercede, the Lord arms himself to bring justice and salvation. But who is this divine conqueror who comes to redeem Zion?
In Isaiah 58, the prophet calls out religious hypocrisy. As the paganism of chapter 57 represents the progressive idolatry of the left, the human-centered religiosity of chapter 58 represents the conservative idolatry of the right. In this lesson we raise our third big picture interpretation question, “How does the gospel of Jesus Christ help me interpret this text?”
In Isaiah 56:9-57:21, we shift from the ideal of God’s people depicted in 56:1-8 to the actual reality of God’s people. This gives us an opportunity to ask the critical interpretive question, “Who is Isaiah’s primary audience?” Who were the people of God he was talking to and what were they like?
In Isaiah 56:1-8, we introduce the Book of the Conqueror, chapters 56-66, asking a critical interpretive question, overviewing this book’s structure, and considering in its first 8 verses the inclusion of eunuchs and foreigners into covenant community with God.
In Isaiah 54 and 55, we are exhorted by the prophet to respond to the astounding work of the servant described in Isaiah 53. Shout! Cry aloud! Come! Seek! The table of grace has been set. You have been invited. Enter into the everlasting covenant of peace.