Today’s chapter in Isaiah has lessons from God’s dealings with Israel because of their unfaithfulness in the days of the prophet. Through the prophet God tells the people, “you have burdened me with your sins, you have wearied me with your iniquities” (43:24).

Then the next verse jumps out at us! “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake and I will not remember your sins.” The people have been told “‘you are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I am God. Also, henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?’” (verses 12,13). The continued existence of the people is the work of God. Although scattered, their miraculous rebirth as a nation and strong existence over the last 70+ years is one of the main witnesses of God’s purpose, and that these are indeed “the last days”.

It is folly for any christian movement to call themselves God’s ‘witnesses’. The other witness to the works and wisdom of God, apart from His chosen nation, is His word – and those who carefully and thoughtfully read it – discover how it comes alive in their minds as the years pass.

We read the final two short letters of John, penned in his old age when false teachings were beginning to emerge: he makes points that are appropriate to our days. His final letter is written; “To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth”. He tells him (verses 3,4) how “I rejoiced greatly” when I heard “you are walking in the truth”; adding, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth”.

God’s word unfolds His purposes before us in a way that invites our diligent reading – leading us to the real truth of what we should understand and believe – and the Lord’s mercy to sinners. We are then to live and walk with the conviction in our hearts of that belief.

How challenging to us are Paul’s words about “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for his sake I have suffered the loss of all things … in order than I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). What are we doing to “gain Christ” – even if it means suffering loss?