Saturday, May 21, 2022

Fear God and Do His Word

Isaiah 8:11-22 

11 For the LORD spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying:

12 "Do not say, 'A conspiracy,'
Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy,
Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.

13 The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow;
Let Him be your fear,
And let Him be your dread.

14 He will be as a sanctuary,
But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense
To both the houses of Israel,
As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

15 And many among them shall stumble;
They shall fall and be broken,
Be snared and taken."

16 Bind up the testimony,
Seal the law among my disciples.
17 And I will wait on the LORD,
Who hides His face from the house of Jacob;
And I will hope in Him.

18 Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me!
We are for signs and wonders in Israel
From the LORD of hosts,
Who dwells in Mount Zion.

19 And when they say to you, "Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter," should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

21 They will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22 Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness.

The conspiracy here is an alliance with the wrong side, not necessarily as conspiracy theories today, though they have much in common.  Both align with those not following God and His word, and neither trusts Him as they seek to rely on someone else for truth and deliverance.  Yes, that is why the Lord commanded the prophet Isaiah not to align with the way of the people who had lost sight of the fear of God and obedience in humility to follow His words.  They sought to establish themselves by themselves and not according to His word.  The people of God were told not to fear the threats of those trying to make them align with them but to fear God as holy and dwell in Him as a sanctuary and worship Him in spirit and truth.  Those who failed to do these two things were to be crushed as they stumbled (Matthew 21:44) because they were offended by aligning and identifying themselves with the LORD.  That was the trap they walked into by fearing man and circumstances instead of Him.  That was their downfall.  May we not be aligned with any other who does not fear and trust God above the world events and conspiracies set against His word and with men’s fears instead.  Followers of God have His word inscribed on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33, 2 Corinthians 3:3, Romans 2:15) to guide and follow by faith in Him according to His word.  We are His children whom He has given to Himself! How then can we align with the world to fight its battles instead of God’s?  We should never consult conjurers of any kind, from the occult to leaders of misleading like QAnon who do not honor or serve our Lord.  If anyone does not align with God’s words written in the scriptures, it is anathema of darkness and not truth of His light which we are to follow.  Those who follow the dark paths only find themselves empty and always hungry for what they do not possess apart from Him.  They curse their leaders and God in the heavens as they pursue troubles while flailing around in the darkness which God will drive them further into if they continue to reject Christ and His word.  May we never align with these conspiracies, brothers and sisters!  We are of the light and fear God.  We do not follow those who hate and fight against the leaders which the Lord set over us (Romans 13:1-2); we are to pray for our leaders instead (1 Timothy 2:1-4) as we trust only our Lord.  Amen. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

God is With We His People

Isaiah 8:1-10

1 Moreover the LORD said to me, "Take a large scroll, and write on it with a man's pen concerning Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. 2 And I will take for Myself faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah."

3 Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the LORD said to me, "Call his name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz; 4 for before the child shall have knowledge to cry 'My father' and 'My mother,' the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be taken away before the king of Assyria."

5 The LORD also spoke to me again, saying:

6 "Inasmuch as these people refused
The waters of Shiloah that flow softly,
And rejoice in Rezin and in Remaliah's son;

7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord brings up over them
The waters of the River, strong and mighty—
The king of Assyria and all his glory;
He will go up over all his channels
And go over all his banks.

8 He will pass through Judah,
He will overflow and pass over,
He will reach up to the neck;
And the stretching out of his wings
Will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel.

9 "Be shattered, O you peoples, and be broken in pieces!
Give ear, all you from far countries.
Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces;
Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces.

10 Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing;
Speak the word, but it will not stand,
For God is with us."

With Assyria set to invade the land, the message from God’s word is ultimate victory.  God is with us, we who are His people, then and now.  A child was born called Speed the Spoil, Hasten the Booty, to demonstrate as a witness against the invaders how quickly it would be over in their defeat.  The witnesses to this word of God to Isaiah were Uriah and Zechariah, faithful and true.  This child of the prophets was named appropriately to show how quickly the enemy would lose their riches as well as the spoils taken.  It would be a quick defeat at the LORD’s hand and Isaiah gave a verbal and physical message to all that it was God’s doing, that the people who had God with and among them would be protected and delivered.  But this was also a rebuke to those of God who refused God’s healing waters of Shiloah (also known as Siloam - John 9:7, 11) and looked up to unrighteous leaders instead for protection and guidance.  God allowed the Assyrian army to pass through the river to invade the land but find themselves almost over their heads, leading to being broken by God in their imagined victory in their pride.  Their counsel against God’s children would come to nothing.  Because God’s was with His people the words of the enemy would not stand, but God’s word stands firm forever.  There is the victory in Immanuel as a hope for us in the Messiah to come for them and who we know has come as our Christ, Jesus, living in and among us (1 Corinthians 15:57, Colossians 1:27).  God is certainly with us, we His people, Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female (Romans 10:12-13, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Colossians 3:11, Galatians 3:28).  Praise be to Immanuel, God with us!  Who can oppose we who are His church (Romans 8:31, 37-39)?  We must therefore speak His word and trust in Him in the face of the enemy because of His promises and examples of the scriptures giving us an everlasting hope (Romans 15:4). 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

God With Us, Among Us

Isaiah 7:10-25

10 Moreover the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 "Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above."

12 But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!"

13 Then he said, "Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. 15 Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. 17 The LORD will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father's house—days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah."

18 And it shall come to pass in that day
That the LORD will whistle for the fly
That is in the farthest part of the rivers of Egypt,
And for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

19 They will come, and all of them will rest
In the desolate valleys and in the clefts of the rocks,
And on all thorns and in all pastures.

20 In the same day the Lord will shave with a hired razor,
With those from beyond the River, with the king of Assyria,
The head and the hair of the legs,
And will also remove the beard.

21 It shall be in that day
That a man will keep alive a young cow and two sheep;
22 So it shall be, from the abundance of milk they give,
That he will eat curds;
For curds and honey everyone will eat who is left in the land.

23 It shall happen in that day,
That wherever there could be a thousand vines
Worth a thousand shekels of silver,
It will be for briers and thorns.

24 With arrows and bows men will come there,
Because all the land will become briers and thorns.

25 And to any hill which could be dug with the hoe,
You will not go there for fear of briers and thorns;
But it will become a range for oxen
And a place for sheep to roam.

This is the Immanuel Prophecy telling in advance of our Messiah the Christ planned to come to us in the fullness of God’s time.  God tested the king by telling him to ask for a sign from the LORD God from heaven or earth, but he refused in a way that on the surface appears to have been the right response to not test God by demanding anything from Him to do as an Arabian Jinn out of a magic bottle.  He actually was hiding the fact that he did not trust in God, but himself.  It does however teach us that we should only ask for a sign from God after He first offers it, not as Ahaz who did not trust in God but in worldly strength for deliverance.  May we not pay such lip service in false humility when God offers to do something and cover it with scriptures out of context and misapplication to appear righteous and hide from faith and reliance on our Lord to do as He wills.  Of course, we are still not to demand signs and miracles from God as if He is a mere genie to meet our wants and desires of how things should be and leave out His sovereign grace of divine predetermined plans worked for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28) in all types of situations, pleasant or unpleasant to us.  God’s eternal plan since Genesis 3:15 after our fall from God’s good pleasure was to provide a Redeemer who is Christ our Lord, the Branch and Anointed One, the Messiah.  He would come and take on flesh as you and I to walk among us (John 1:1, 14).  This is Emmanuel, God who is with us, just as planned and told to us here!  He is God’s sign given by Him to us and not demanded by us, whose entrance came seemingly impossibly through the virgin birth.  Only God can create life just as He breathed His Spirit into Adam at creation (Genesis 2:7), and that same Spirit created life in the virgin Mary as a sign that it was He, the I Am (John 8:58, 10:30) doing the miracle and as the baby made inside, to make a union of the divine and flesh of His creation.  That was the sign Isaiah told Ahaz who refused to ask for it to believe in.  We also try to work our way to God and seek signs and wonders for proof when He has already given the greatest sign by rising from death to life on His own power (Matthew 16:4, Luke 11:29-30, 24:46-47, John 2:19, 21-22).  He teaches us he knowledge of good and evil which we took it on ourselves to futilely attempt at Eden in disbelief and disobedience; instead we are to be taught by God by Him (Hebrews 5:14) as foretold here by example (Isaiah 7:15).  He alone can deliver a nation or an individual just as the prophecies against God’s rebellious people under Ahaz were pronounced in the rest of this chapter.  There is only deliverance in and through the Anointed Messiah, Jesus the Christ.  Trust the sign given by God and do not demand another to prove or test Him.  God has come among us and is still with us.  Amen. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Trust God when Facing Trouble

Isaiah 7:1-9

(2 Kin. 16:5; 2 Chr. 28:5–15)

1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to make war against it, but could not prevail against it. 2 And it was told to the house of David, saying, "Syria's forces are deployed in Ephraim." So his heart and the heart of his people were moved as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind.

3 Then the LORD said to Isaiah, "Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-Jashub your son, at the end of the aqueduct from the upper pool, on the highway to the Fuller's Field, 4 and say to him: 'Take heed, and be quiet; do not fear or be fainthearted for these two stubs of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and the son of Remaliah. 5 Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have plotted evil against you, saying, 6 "Let us go up against Judah and trouble it, and let us make a gap in its wall for ourselves, and set a king over them, the son of Tabel"— 7 thus says the Lord GOD:

"It shall not stand,
Nor shall it come to pass.

8 For the head of Syria is Damascus,
And the head of Damascus is Rezin.
Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken,
So that it will not be a people.

9 The head of Ephraim is Samaria,
And the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son.
If you will not believe,
Surely you shall not be established."'"

God sent Isaiah the messenger to King Ahaz of Judah to encourage him and God’s people as Syria and Israel were set to attack Judah.  When Uzziah reigned the prophet was cleansed from sin and called to preach righteousness even to those whose eyes and ears closed the way to their hearts of belief and trust in God and His word.  King Ahaz was Uzziah’s grandson who now sat on Judah’s throne and was fighting off the invaders.  The heart of Ahaz and the people were blown about with doubt and worry as the forest trees wave in the strong winds, and so the Lord sent Isaiah to the king for encouragement to believe and trust God’s deliverance over the desperate situation he saw.  God told him as He did Joshua (Joshua 1:6-8) when entering the land promised to His people whom He delivered as a reminder of His ability to do so.  He reminded Ahaz to be calm and trust on.  Ahaz should not fear or lose heart in the face of the threat, but believe the deliverance to come because of God’s wrath against the sinful attackers.  The enemy wanted to trouble God’s people and replace Ahaz with a puppet king to control them, but the Lord clearly told Isaiah to speak the message of deliverance.  The attack would not stand up or happen even!  God sets the rulers in place (Daniel 2:20-21, Romans 13:1) and can just as easily take them down.  That was the promise given to Ahaz and his people by the Lord’s servant Isaiah.  Ahaz was called to trust Him as Isaiah trusted and was preaching God’s words faithfully according to his own calling.  But if Ahaz disbelieved and did not trust the message of God’s word, he would not be established as king in the scheme of things.  Yes, if we disbelieve and distrust God’s word and refuse to act as we know, He can surely raise up another in our place to do His will which will certainly be done in earth as it is in heaven.  Like Ahaz,we are called to trust God when facing trouble and act according to His word in the faithfulness of obedience because we have His word and His promises as our foundation to still the trees from being blown about in doubt.  We are then to only trust Him and not allow the circumstances and situations rule or override our faith in God’s sovereign rule. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Isaiah’s Cleansing and Calling

Isaiah 6:1-13 

(cf. Ezek. 1:4–28)

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said:

"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!"

4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

5 So I said:

"Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The LORD of hosts."

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said:

"Behold, this has touched your lips;
Your iniquity is taken away,
And your sin purged."

8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:

"Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?"
Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

9 And He said, "Go, and tell this people:
'Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.'

10 "Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed."

11 Then I said, "Lord, how long?"
And He answered:

"Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant,
The houses are without a man,
The land is utterly desolate,
12 The LORD has removed men far away,
And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.

13 But yet a tenth will be in it,
And will return and be for consuming,
As a terebinth tree or as an oak,
Whose stump remains when it is cut down.
So the holy seed shall be its stump."

Isaiah’s cleansing from sin and calling to preach the forerunner of the gospel was a calling for the remnant of sinful Israel out of the majority who had hardened hearts, deaf ears, and blind eyes.  We see this in Jesus’s words explaining to His disciples why He spoke in parables in Matthew 13:10-11, 13-15 to those who were not chosen (elect) and to the remnant called out and given understanding (Matthew 13:16-17).  The call of Isaiah began with him seeing God’s heavenly glory with surrounding angels praising Him around His throne.  The seraphim sang God’s glory and honored Him with words of holy, holy, holy (Revelation 4:8) because all of creation was full of His glory to behold as incentive to worship the worthy One.  As that place shook from His omnipotent power and presence, the prophet admitted and confessed his sinfulness and that of all God’s people.  Their holiness simply was nonexistent in light of God’s standard of the word which is defined by Himself.  This is our fallen state to this date as well.  We all fall short of His standard of righteousness and holiness.  When we are given a glimpse of His glory by the opening of the eyes of our hearts and our ears to hear the truth of His word, we too are undone and hit the ground in awe and submission to that glory.  This is our conversion experience in varying degrees when He reveals Himself to us in order to deliver us from the bondage of sin under our deaf, dumb, and blind souls from birth.  The LORD took away the sin of the prophet and the iniquity of sin from him by His own righteousness and willful act to save him.  As soon as Isaiah heard and saw he knew he had been released from the bondage of sin and given senses to know and see God, he answered the call to go with the message to tell those being delivered who would hear and as a testimony against those who had been hardened by God to remain in their already existing sin.  Hineni!  Here am I, and send me!  That was the response to his deliverance.  It should be ours as well.  The message was one of judgment given to Isaiah, that the people who had continued to reject God and His word would not be able to hear or see His glory and truth because God had judged already and chosen not to undo their sin as a consequence.  It was not given to any but those chosen by God to hear and understand to turn from sin to Him.  That is true always, for salvation is not by the will of the flesh or man’s choice but of God’s working (John 1:13) and His choice of the remnant of sinful man to be able to hear and see and follow as called out (John 6:44, 65).  The question of Isaiah is as ours today, how long will this go on?  For Israel, it meant further suffering of judgment to prepare the remnant with a holy seed, which is a picture of Christ coming in the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4) and then the church called out as that remnant of Israel and the nations as promised to Abraham long ago.  We have been given understanding and vision; may we tell that to those who can hear and see by God’s working of grace! 

Monday, May 16, 2022

Woes to those Rejecting the Lord

Isaiah 5:18-30

18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of vanity,
And sin as if with a cart rope;

19 That say, "Let Him make speed and hasten His work,
That we may see it;
And let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come,
That we may know it."

20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!

22 Woe to men mighty at drinking wine,
Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,
23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
And take away justice from the righteous man!

24 Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble,
And the flame consumes the chaff,
So their root will be as rottenness,
And their blossom will ascend like dust;
Because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts,
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

25 Therefore the anger of the LORD is aroused against His people;
He has stretched out His hand against them
And stricken them,
And the hills trembled.
Their carcasses were as refuse in the midst of the streets.
For all this His anger is not turned away,
But His hand is stretched out still.

26 He will lift up a banner to the nations from afar,
And will whistle to them from the end of the earth;
Surely they shall come with speed, swiftly.

27 No one will be weary or stumble among them,
No one will slumber or sleep;
Nor will the belt on their loins be loosed,
Nor the strap of their sandals be broken;
28 Whose arrows are sharp,
And all their bows bent;
Their horses' hooves will seem like flint,
And their wheels like a whirlwind.

29 Their roaring will be like a lion,
They will roar like young lions;
Yes, they will roar
And lay hold of the prey;
They will carry it away safely,
And no one will deliver.

30 In that day they will roar against them
Like the roaring of the sea.
And if one looks to the land,
Behold, darkness and sorrow;
And the light is darkened by the clouds.

Woes are pronounced against the people who reject God here and pull sin like a cart behind them along the path because it is what they value.  They taunt and tempt the Lord to do some miracle or tell some great revelation in order to prove Himself to them because of their purposeful disbelief.  God used Isaiah to pronounce these woes, beginning with those who call evil things good and good evil, calling God a liar and setting up their own standards of right and wrong, even though upside down and backwards from the pronounced truth revealed already according to His word.  These who reject Him also call darkness light and light darkness, as well as reversing sweet and bitter tastes in rejecting His creation made good and right.  They are contrary to God and His word.  They also are full of the pride of life as if they had wisdom of their own making and God has none; this rebellion is at the heart of sin (Genesis 3:1, 17) in rejecting the word of God.  Woes are also given to those living in antithesis to righteousness and holiness, such as the drunkard and one who bribes to pervert justice at other’s expense.  The expected and just result of this rejection and stand against the Lord begins with His wrath as a consuming fire burning the useless chaff (Luke 3:17) and utter loss of fruitfulness in their lives.  This is spelled out in verse 24 as a result of rejecting His word and actually despising God Himself!  God’s wrath was aroused against Israel as a nation then, but extends to everyone born on this earth who continues to reject and despise Him and His word.  His anger will not be turned away from those who do these things now, but will face a certain judgment (Hebrews 10:27) forevermore.  He will call the nations against these in the final battle as well on the earth before His coming as a last warning to repent and submit their pride in stopping their disbelief and disobedience of rebellion.  His judgment will put down the rebellion of sin once and for all forever as His enemies are devoured and defeated along with their darkness.  God will certainly call all to account and judge fairly in righteousness.  The ultimate woe to those rejecting Him and His word is eternal punishment.  Are we ready for the final judgment, or will we ignore the warning as Isaiah gave to Israel?  Wise people will heed the gospel call to unearned forgiveness and reconciliation instead of face the consequence of pride and resulting rejection from God’s presence eternally in the New Jerusalem.  Turn to Him and live!

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Captive by Sin, Facing Impending Judgment

Isaiah 5:8-17 

8 Woe to those who join house to house;
They add field to field,
Till there is no place
Where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land!

9 In my hearing the LORD of hosts said,
"Truly, many houses shall be desolate,
Great and beautiful ones, without inhabitant.
10 For ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath,
And a homer of seed shall yield one ephah."

11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning,
That they may follow intoxicating drink;
Who continue until night, till wine inflames them!

12 The harp and the strings,
The tambourine and flute,
And wine are in their feasts;
But they do not regard the work of the LORD,
Nor consider the operation of His hands.

13 Therefore my people have gone into captivity,
Because they have no knowledge;
Their honorable men are famished,
And their multitude dried up with thirst.

14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged itself
And opened its mouth beyond measure;
Their glory and their multitude and their pomp,
And he who is jubilant, shall descend into it.

15 People shall be brought down,
Each man shall be humbled,
And the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled.

16 But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment,
And God who is holy shall be hallowed in righteousness.
17 Then the lambs shall feed in their pasture,
And in the waste places of the fat ones strangers shall eat.

There is impending judgment spoken over God’s people held captive to sin here.  In their sensual lifestyle they had ignored the Lord and His word and gotten greedy for gain and pleasure.  They bought houses to build an empire to get rich and held large drinking parties, just as the ungodly did then and continue to do so today all around us.  There is nothing new under the sun where debauchery and greed are concerned.  People still live in rebellion to God and purposefully make these sinful pursuits their goal.  But when it is God’s people called out of that life (Colossians 3:5-7) and into the light continuing in greed and sensual living, it is quite inexcusable.  That was the message from God through the prophet Isaiah to God’s people then and now as well.  The Lord promised to take away their ill-gotten gain and reminded them they would be unfruitful.  Because they did not regard God’s work in their provision and goodness in all He had done, they would suffer the consequences.  Their self imposed ignorance of the knowledge of the Lord led them into physical enslavement and spiritual captivity to sin.  They were starving and thirsty because they lived contrary to God’s will according to His word.  Many headed to death and the punishment of hell in their pomp and pride of life with false happiness in their pleasure and possessions.  These were things they could not take with them.  God humbles the proud but gives grace to the humble.  Above all, His name is to be honored and given due glory, and His righteous judgment is proof of His holiness and goodness.  Those living in disbelief and disobedience will only find poverty and a spiritual hunger left unsatisfied.  It is a warning to the world to repent, to turn away from sin to Him, but also for we who are His people in Christ, Jew and Gentile, to put away sinful living as unbelievers and to put on righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24) as well pleasing (Romans 8:6-8) children who live for their good Father in heaven.  Let us learn from the example of those not doing what is right to instead pursue what pleases our Lord, not living a sensual party life or being greedy for gain. 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

An Unattended and Unfruitful Vineyard

Isaiah 5:1-7 

1 Now let me sing to my Well-beloved
A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard:
My Well-beloved has a vineyard
On a very fruitful hill.

2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
He built a tower in its midst,
And also made a winepress in it;
So He expected it to bring forth good grapes,
But it brought forth wild grapes.

3 "And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard.
4 What more could have been done to My vineyard
That I have not done in it?
Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes,
Did it bring forth wild grapes?

5 And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard:
I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned;
And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.

6 I will lay it waste;
It shall not be pruned or dug,
But there shall come up briers and thorns.
I will also command the clouds
That they rain no rain on it."

7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant.
He looked for justice, but behold, oppression;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.

This parable of God’s planting of Israel shows how it was unattended by God’s people and so became unfruitful to God’s dismay and wrath.  It begins as an expectant song of joy in God’s work to plant this beautiful vineyard.  The Beloved put this array of vines on top of a verdant hill where it should have grown easily and well in the rich soil and sunny exposure out of the shaded valley.  The Beloved, God Himself, prepared the soil for fruitfulness and put the best chosen vines in place to begin the process.  He also built a tower with a wine press to oversee the safety of the vineyard and harvest the fruit into tasty wine when the time was ripe.  Unfortunately, when the time of harvest arrived, He only found wild uncultivated grapes and not ones of good vintage quality as expected due to all the care that He put into preparing it.  Yes, the people of Israel who were the vineyard and those of Judah as a pleasant planting had failed in attending to their growth and care, symbolic of disobedience and unrighteousness in ruining God’s work given them to grow and be fruitful to multiply as promised to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  God called them to task, pointing out that He had done everything for them and yet they were unfruitful and bitter to the taste in their resulting by their inattentive and rebellious works.  God told them the consequences, that He would take away the hedge protecting them and throw them into the fire to burn (John 15:6) as a foretaste of the final judgment with the lake of judgment’s fire.  He would take down what He built and give the kingdom to others.  Only thorns and briars would ever arise from the aftermath of the once fertile land that was entrusted to them by promise, unwatered and barren for their disbelief and disobedience.  Disbelief because they refused to accept His provision and plans for them, and disobedience because they heard His word and chose not to cultivate their promised land.  He clearly tells them by Isaiah’s words that they are the vineyard who had been His pleasant choice but rejected the righteousness of justice in doing good to themselves, others, and Him (Micah 6:8).  All God heard was a cry for help when all came to ruin as sin’s harvest, a bitter consequence.  These words and example are for our instruction (Romans 15:4, 1 Corinthians 10:11) as a warning to unfaithfulness in working out our our salvation’s sanctification with fear and trembling.  May we abide in the vine we have been grafted into and be fruitful in the righteousness of Christ by our obedience.  Amen. 

Friday, May 13, 2022

The Branch of the LORD

Isaiah 4:1-6 

1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying,
"We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel;
Only let us be called by your name,
To take away our reproach."

2 In that day the Branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious;
And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing
For those of Israel who have escaped.

3 And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. 4 When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, 5 then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. 6 And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.

After judgment comes to God’s people in the previous verses, the cry is to be called by God’s name as His remnant and not left out in the reproach of their sin, dead and without hope.  The Branch of the LORD is then brought forth to gaze upon for that hope of escape from death and destruction of judgment, the one who is both full of glory and all beauty in our sight.  This is far more than just a physical nation facing judgment, and the Branch is identified as the Messiah in places such as Jeremiah 23:5, with the further promise of Him being our safe place of His righteousness to be delivered from certain judgment on our sin.  Yes, our fruit in Him, like Israel, is to be excellent and appealing, full of splendor and honor, for we who have escaped God’s wrath which we all deserve as much as God’s people in the time of Isaiah.  Our fruit ultimately is in Christ as we now understand, which thing was veiled at that time, seemingly only an allusion to bearing many crops or winning battles and multiplying the nation again.  Our fruit is given in the righteousness of the Branch to show God’s beauty and to honor Him for his work on our behalf which we could never do in our own strength or wisdom.  We have escaped!  We have a purpose in serving Him!  We are seen as holy in Christ now, recorded among the living as an allusion to our record in the Lamb’s book of life.  He has washed us clean (Revelation 1:5, 1 Corinthians 6:11, Titus 3:5) in the sacrificial blood of His righteousness, taking away the filth of our sin and our worthless and ineffectual sacrifices of ourselves which fall ever short.  He created the place for Israel to worship Him in the ‘cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night,’ as when He led them out of captivity through the desert for forty years.  Such we will see when we see Him face to face (Job 19:26-27) on the throne in the New Jerusalem!  His glory that covers Him will be our place of eternal refuge (2 Corinthians 5:1-2) to shelter us from sin’s presence and penalty through all time.  How excellent and appealing for all His people called in Christ, His Branch of righteousness! 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Oppression and Lewdness Judged

Isaiah 3:13-26 

13 The LORD stands up to plead,
And stands to judge the people.

14 The LORD will enter into judgment
With the elders of His people
And His princes:
"For you have eaten up the vineyard;
The plunder of the poor is in your houses.
15 What do you mean by crushing My people
And grinding the faces of the poor?"
Says the Lord GOD of hosts.

16 Moreover the LORD says:
"Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,
And walk with outstretched necks
And wanton eyes,
Walking and mincing as they go,
Making a jingling with their feet,
17 Therefore the Lord will strike with a scab
The crown of the head of the daughters of Zion,
And the LORD will uncover their secret parts."

18 In that day the Lord will take away the finery:
The jingling anklets, the scarves, and the crescents;
19 The pendants, the bracelets, and the veils;
20 The headdresses, the leg ornaments, and the headbands;
The perfume boxes, the charms,
21 and the rings;
The nose jewels,
22 the festal apparel, and the mantles;
The outer garments, the purses,
23 and the mirrors;
The fine linen, the turbans, and the robes.

24 And so it shall be:
Instead of a sweet smell there will be a stench;
Instead of a sash, a rope;
Instead of well-set hair, baldness;
Instead of a rich robe, a girding of sackcloth;
And branding instead of beauty.

25 Your men shall fall by the sword,
And your mighty in the war.
26 Her gates shall lament and mourn,
And she being desolate shall sit on the ground.

These warnings are to God’s people against oppressing and plundering the poor, taking advantage of others to their own greedy advantage, and against lewd sensual behavior without and decency or shame.  These things are in the physical realm, but point to deeper problems spiritually.  The warnings are addressing the hearts of covetousness in defiance of the commandments to love God and our neighbors instead of wanting and taking from others, of contentment in God’s provision instead of the list of eyes and heart in such pride of life (1 John 2:15-17).  He points out their haughty behavior as women who hunt down men with sexual weapons and show no shame in exposing themselves to attract and gain the desires of men.  Their brash behavior and lustful looks only lead to their condemnation by God as a warning to all of God’s people who seek sensual pleasures while flaunting God’s word for proper living in honor of His created order and purpose.  He would inflict them with visible retribution and expose them naked and cheap for who they are, taking away all their sultry fashion, makeup, and jewelry used in their illicit craft.  The end of such immoral living would be a stench instead of sweet perfume, a rope for a sash and bald heads instead of primped hairdos,  and cheap clothing like rags to replace the high and expensive fashions.  Yes, even the men who supported their behavior and thrived on it in their misplaced desires would fail in battle and lead to the city’s sorrows and desolation.  Sin and its pursuit instead of choosing to live according to God’s word in self control only leads to destruction as it exposes the festering souls.  Righteousness is the true robe of honor and the scent of goodness honoring the Creator.  Israel failed to pursue God and His glory in righteousness and fell under judgment.  This ungodly behavior permeates our society today and creeps into our lives if we are not vigilant.  We will also be judged as a nation and individually if we fail to pursue righteous thinking and behavior based on His word because we run after the world’s titillating desires for what pleases our seeing and wanting of our flesh and pride of living instead of doing the will of God.  May we learn from the example of Isaiah’s warning here and not compromise our Lord and our calling!  Yes, we are not to oppress those unable to defend themselves and not to live for carnal desires which dishonor the Lord who called us in righteousness.  We are to be holy in all things because He is completely holy and we are called to conformity with Christ as we were created and intended to be, shameless in Eden’s garden. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Stumbling in Word and Deed to Judgment

Isaiah 3:1-12

1 For behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts,
Takes away from Jerusalem and from Judah
The stock and the store,
The whole supply of bread and the whole supply of water;

2 The mighty man and the man of war,
The judge and the prophet,
And the diviner and the elder;
3 The captain of fifty and the honorable man,
The counselor and the skillful artisan,
And the expert enchanter.

4 "I will give children to be their princes,
And babes shall rule over them.
5 The people will be oppressed,
Every one by another and every one by his neighbor;
The child will be insolent toward the elder,
And the base toward the honorable."

6 When a man takes hold of his brother
In the house of his father, saying,
"You have clothing;
You be our ruler,
And let these ruins be under your power,"

7 In that day he will protest, saying,
"I cannot cure your ills,
For in my house is neither food nor clothing;
Do not make me a ruler of the people."

8 For Jerusalem stumbled,
And Judah is fallen,
Because their tongue and their doings
Are against the LORD,
To provoke the eyes of His glory.

9 The look on their countenance witnesses against them,
And they declare their sin as Sodom;
They do not hide it.
Woe to their soul!
For they have brought evil upon themselves.

10 "Say to the righteous that it shall be well with them,
For they shall eat the fruit of their doings.

11 Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him,
For the reward of his hands shall be given him.

12 As for My people, children are their oppressors,
And women rule over them.
O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err,
And destroy the way of your paths."

Judah and Jerusalem stumbled in their sin as they took heed to ungodly counsel.  They stumbled in word and deed against the Lord and insulted his glory as they provoked His wrath for their disobedience of sin.  He responded by taking away their livelihood of food and water, of their army and prophets and judges because they refused to listen to God’s word.  They were given rulers who were immature and unable to lead them as a result, and their children became disrespectful and disobedient themselves to them as retribution.  They desperately tried to find anyone else to rule them and set things right again, but left God out and were left as sheep without a shepherd to guide them since they turned a deaf ear to God’s word from anyone, least of all the leaders which had been put over them in the past.  They stumbled and fell in all they said and did as a result.  Sin overtook and overthrew them.  Yes, their faces told the story as of the sins of Sodom against God’s glory.  They even pridefully paraded their sin and brought evil on their own heads, just as today’s society is doing.  Yet God used Isaiah to remind those who sought to live according to His word that it would be well with them.  To those continuing in the sin of unrighteousness, He said it would not go well but that they would receive their promised recompense as judgment for their words and deeds against Him.  These chose children as rulers who were unrighteous and unable to lead His people in anything true or good, destroying their way with corruption and sin’s consequences.  This warning is appropriate for today as well in that those living in opposition to God’s righteousness (Romans 10:3) and setting up their own standards of right and wrong as a faux morality, these lead people astray from God and into judgment.  The righteous point them back to God and His word, but the rulers are spiritually immature and unqualified to follow rightly.  There is nothing new under the sun as the preacher told us (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  May we then learn from these examples to follow the Lord and not the unrighteous rulers which men put over themselves that we do not join in following their words and deeds leading them to stumble into judgment.  Amen. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Day of the LORD

Isaiah 2:5-22 

5 O house of Jacob, come and let us walk
In the light of the LORD.

6 For You have forsaken Your people, the house of Jacob,
Because they are filled with eastern ways;
They are soothsayers like the Philistines,
And they are pleased with the children of foreigners.

7 Their land is also full of silver and gold,
And there is no end to their treasures;
Their land is also full of horses,
And there is no end to their chariots.

8 Their land is also full of idols;
They worship the work of their own hands,
That which their own fingers have made.
9 People bow down,
And each man humbles himself;
Therefore do not forgive them.

10 Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust,
From the terror of the LORD
And the glory of His majesty.
11 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled,
The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down,
And the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.

12 For the day of the LORD of hosts
Shall come upon everything proud and lofty,
Upon everything lifted up—
And it shall be brought low—

13 Upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up,
And upon all the oaks of Bashan;
14 Upon all the high mountains,
And upon all the hills that are lifted up;
15 Upon every high tower,
And upon every fortified wall;
16 Upon all the ships of Tarshish,
And upon all the beautiful sloops.

17 The loftiness of man shall be bowed down,
And the haughtiness of men shall be brought low;
The LORD alone will be exalted in that day,
18 But the idols He shall utterly abolish.

19 They shall go into the holes of the rocks,
And into the caves of the earth,
From the terror of the LORD
And the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily.

20 In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver
And his idols of gold,
Which they made, each for himself to worship,
To the moles and bats,
21 To go into the clefts of the rocks,
And into the crags of the rugged rocks,
From the terror of the LORD
And the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily.

22 Sever yourselves from such a man,
Whose breath is in his nostrils;
For of what account is he?

The day of the Lord will come when He will destroy all the idols men make and hold all accountable for having any other God than Him.  We do not trust and follow Him and we set up other things to live for, to worship and adore and serve.  We should instead be walking in the light which the Lord gives, the light of Himself and according to His word.  Such light (John 8:12) has shone out of darkness (2 Corinthians 4:6, 1 Peter 2:9) to be worshipped and no other.  Yes, we are without excuse and need to turn away from idols in the dark to the Lord in heaven above who dwells in the light to live for and serve Him and not the things of this world which we cling to by our fallen nature.  The people of God Isaiah spoke to had gone after the eastern ways of the occult, of magic and astrology and spiritualism as their gods.  May we never allow such in our lives!  They humbled themselves before objects they made with the purpose of bowing down to them in place of God, and they are warned of their accountability on the day of the Lord when He comes to judge us all (2 Peter 2:9, 3:7, 9-10, Romans 2:5).  People will hide themselves in caves as if to avoid His presence and terror of His judgment, and from His glorious majesty which exposes them.  The Lord will humble all as He puts down the cosmic rebellion of sinful man and hold us accountable to Him at last.  Apart from God’s grace and mercy there is no hope.  In Christ is every certain hope.  All the idols men trust in and rely on will be erased in that day, brought down to destruction.  He will yet shake the earth for the final time (Hebrews 12:26-27) on that day and only those in Christ’s righteousness will not be shaken (Hebrews 12:28) out of the kingdom to come.  The terror of the Lord in judgment and the glory of His majesty are coming to all.  Are we ready?  Avoid those who pull you away from doing what is right and worshiping other things such as spiritualism and false teachings.  Trust and follow the work of Christ alone to find shelter from the storm of that day. 

Monday, May 9, 2022

The Future Temple of God

Isaiah 2:1-4 

1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

2 Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the LORD's house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.

3 Many people shall come and say,
"Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths."

For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

4 He shall judge between the nations,
And rebuke many people;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.

Parallel to Micah 4:1–5, this passage of Isaiah prophesying against Judah Jerusalem speaks of the future temple of God’s house of worship and presence among His people.  In the latter time God would establish His house above all others as if at the top of every mountain with its glory far greater than any other.  People from all nations would cheerfully go there together, a picture of the New Jerusalem with God’s presence of the Lamb in His light bringing people from every land into its gates (Revelation 5:9, 14:6) to worship together there.  As His body, the invisible church, we shall flow into that place as a people of all nations to worship together forever.  His kingdom will be permanently and solidly established in that place more than on the physical Mount Zion on this present earth.  We will do as is told here to join together to celebrate and extol our Lord God and His Lamb there, and even now we call out with a gospel cry to the elect people of Christ to come out of darkness from all nations into that marvelous light on our journey there as one people.  He teaches us His ways (John 6:45, 1 John 2:27) and causes us to live and walk in His ways (Isaiah 30:21).  His word went out from Jerusalem then as His law of commands to His people, and continues to do so until that final day when we stand before Him together at last!  We were made and called to follow and bear fruit to righteousness (Ephesians 2:10, 5:9, Hebrews 12:11).  Yes, the Lord will judge the nations in His righteousness and bring judgment on those rejecting His Christ, but in the end there will be no more wars and consequential tears of sorrow (Revelation 21:4) for us.  We will instead worship in His righteousness before the throne of God in His holy house forever and ever, amen. 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Those Forsaking God are Forsaken

Isaiah 1:21-31

21 How the faithful city has become a harlot!
It was full of justice;
Righteousness lodged in it,
But now murderers.

22 Your silver has become dross,
Your wine mixed with water.

23 Your princes are rebellious,
And companions of thieves;
Everyone loves bribes,
And follows after rewards.

They do not defend the fatherless,
Nor does the cause of the widow come before them.

24 Therefore the Lord says,
The LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel,

"Ah, I will rid Myself of My adversaries,
And take vengeance on My enemies.
25 I will turn My hand against you,
And thoroughly purge away your dross,
And take away all your alloy.

26 I will restore your judges as at the first,
And your counselors as at the beginning.
Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city."

27 Zion shall be redeemed with justice,
And her penitents with righteousness.

28 The destruction of transgressors and of sinners shall be together,
And those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.

29 For they shall be ashamed of the terebinth trees
Which you have desired;
And you shall be embarrassed because of the gardens
Which you have chosen.

30 For you shall be as a terebinth whose leaf fades,
And as a garden that has no water.
31 The strong shall be as tinder,
And the work of it as a spark;
Both will burn together,
And no one shall quench them.

God’s judgment is against all the unrighteous (Romans 1:18) who forsake Him.  In their rejection they are rejected because His wrath is against sin which is the disbelief and disobedience of turning away from Him and His word of righteousness.  Israel is the model of what we should not continue doing therefore; instead, we should listen and turn from sin to Him and follow in His righteousness as we keep in step because of the forgiving grace of Christ.  The examples of unfaithfulness include hatred (which Jesus explained is murder), polluting purity with the scum of sin like metal unable to be purified because contamination is added back in while refining, bribery with favoritism greasing palms, and not standing up and supporting the helpless orphan and widow (true religion in practice as James 1:27 says).  These are some few examples of their unfaithfulness and ours to our shame.  These things should not be true among us!  The Lord told His people then that He would respond with retribution on His enemies and purify them by taking away their sin, a picture of Christ taking our sin (dross) on Himself and away from our record, our account of accountability to Him.  His purpose is to restore each of us as the whole of His church just as He did the earthly kingdom of Israel.  He redeems with justice because He paid the price Himself as the just one who judges faithfully and truly.  It came at the price of His one and only Son, passing sentence on us but accepting the punishment in our stead.  He reminded Israel here that destruction comes on the just and unjust and consumes those who forsake Him.  Those who reject the Son will face eternal punishment as a form of destruction, not literally but as if destroyed because they will not be in His presence.  Yes, they will be ashamed of the false gods and idols like the terebinth trees that do not last.  The trees of the faithful redeemed who did not reject Him in disbelief will give life and healing to all in Christ in the end (Ezekiel 47:12, Revelation 22:2).  Those rejecting God’s Son will be forsaken and rejected, inheriting a burning fire of their idol trees of idolatry in all its forms.  This is the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15).  The question remains for us all now as to whether we will reject and forsake the Son and be forsaken forever, or believe and receive Him instead to spend eternity in His very presence because we have been washed clean of sin’s unrighteousness by Christ’s life given for our due accountability of divine justice (Psalm 2:12, John 1:11-12). 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Futile Sacrifices or Humbly Willing Hearts of Worship?

Isaiah 1:10-20

10 Hear the word of the LORD,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the law of our God,
You people of Gomorrah:

11 "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?"
Says the LORD.
"I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle.
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
Or of lambs or goats.

12 "When you come to appear before Me,
Who has required this from your hand,
To trample My courts?

13 Bring no more futile sacrifices;
Incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.

14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts
My soul hates;
They are a trouble to Me,
I am weary of bearing them.

15 When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood.

16 "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
17 Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.

18 "Come now, and let us reason together,"
Says the LORD,

"Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.

19 If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword";
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

The opening of Isaiah’s prophecies continues with harsh warnings for those who make ritual sacrifices but do not live accordingly.  The people of God sinned continually by perverting justice while calling themselves righteous for observing religious days and burning incense at token sacrifices while inwardly they were dead, just as Jesus reminded their descendants later (Matthew 23:27).  They called assemblies and went through meaningless motions, just as some now continue to meet in churches and perform elaborate and ornate displays as if to prove they are righteous and acceptable to the Lord.  He wants the heart in worship, not the show of pomp and circumstance, whether of ornate vestiture and ceremonial relics, or of pompous words of man’s reasoning and pyrotechnics instead of giving the meaning of God’s word to live by (Nehemiah 8:8).  God calls us to worship in spirit and truth, not in such outward displays and compromising storytelling.  Israel forgot these things and made it all about the outward show instead of the inner worship of true obedience by submissive hearts and faithful outworking of works in humility and to honor God above their own image before others.  May we learn from these things (Romans 15:4, 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11).  Otherwise we may do as these here in being guilty of the blood of others and have our prayers left unanswered by God who will not hear from insincere hearts and lips.  We are called as they were to put away evil pursuits of thought and actions and learn to do good instead, such as seeking justice and not partiality (James 2:1, 4-5) and personally defending the helpless widows and orphans (James 1:27) instead of mistreating and exploiting them.  This is righteous justice, not politicking for show and self importance in pride.  If we listen and reason with God according to His word, He will wash us of our sins to take away the blood of our guilt by His Son’s blood who died to keep us from shedding our own blood, and He will make us white in the purity of His righteousness.  If we trust and obey by leaning on His work alone and follow Him afterwards, then we also will eat the good of the land by grace instead of being devoured by the sword of our own sin doing us in.  He requires true mercy and humble trust in our willing obedience and not sacrifices of show to impress others and anger God in the process as God’s people had done in Isaiah’s time.  May we avoid futile sacrifices and instead sow humbly willing hearts of worship, while truly learning from these examples of scripture! 

Friday, May 6, 2022

The Lord Saves

Isaiah 1:1-9

1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!
For the LORD has spoken:

"I have nourished and brought up children,
And they have rebelled against Me;
3 The ox knows its owner
And the donkey its master's crib;
But Israel does not know,
My people do not consider."

4 Alas, sinful nation,
A people laden with iniquity,
A brood of evildoers,
Children who are corrupters!

They have forsaken the LORD,
They have provoked to anger
The Holy One of Israel,
They have turned away backward.

5 Why should you be stricken again?
You will revolt more and more.
The whole head is sick,
And the whole heart faints.

6 From the sole of the foot even to the head,
There is no soundness in it,
But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores;
They have not been closed or bound up,
Or soothed with ointment.

7 Your country is desolate,
Your cities are burned with fire;
Strangers devour your land in your presence;
And it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

8 So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard,
As a hut in a garden of cucumbers,
As a besieged city.

9 Unless the LORD of hosts
Had left to us a very small remnant,
We would have become like Sodom,
We would have been made like Gomorrah.

We are wicked and rebellious children from birth in our fallen sinful state.  These words describe the human condition of God’s people then as well as now.  We are wise to listen and hear the words of the Lord because it is He who has spoken, and our words mean nothing if they do not echo His.  The philosophy and reasoning of mankind which denies these things from God’s own mouth are foolishness and lead to a certain judgment reserved and deserved by the cosmic insurrectionists we all are.  We do well to know and consider these words describing us just as Israel was charged with by Isaiah, we who all have sinned and come up short of God’s standards and requirements of righteousness (Romans 3:20-23).  Yahweh is salvation.  That is the meaning of the prophet’s name, and we are pointed to our Savior as God Himself and not our feeble works we would like to call righteous.  They are so very far from right and holy when compared to His works and character.  We carry a load of sin and corruption as we turn away from God and provoke His righteous wrath by that rebellious refusal to listen and trust the words spoken to us to follow without arguments and rationalizations to find our own ways in place of his clear guidance.  We are like Israel, corrupt to the heart and mind in our rebellion against God’s clear instruction as given first to Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:16-17, 3:5-6 with eternal repercussions for all Adam’s descendants which we are.  The call is not to turn back away again from Him but to trust and obey - there is truly no other way.  The sickness of our sin causes us to revolt again and again, but He has provided the way of salvation as contained in the prophet Isaiah’s name.  God Himself has become our salvation (Psalm 118:14, 21)!  We are born with heads and hearts sickened by inherited inherent sin as God’s people were then as well.  These things God shows and tells us in His word.  Our wounds to the soul need to be healed by the great physician with the balm of redeeming love and forgiveness of His grace in the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  As the land of Israel was laid desolate due to their rebellion of refusing to trust His word and live accordingly to do as they were told to avoid destruction, so all now must trust His work in Christ to avoid eternal destruction by the faith He gives and deliverance we do not deserve.  This unwarranted deliverance is grace in His work in our place (John 6:28-29).  As the Lord left a remnant of Israel to be delivered from physical destruction, so He also has a remnant of all peoples whom are called by grace in Christ solely by His choosing and purpose.  We neither deserve nor earn any of our deliverance from the just punishment due to us all for our disbelief and disobedience.  If not for this grace, we would be destroyed by fire from heaven as Sodom and Gomorrah were because they attempted to define their own righteousness instead of accepting His salvation as He seeks and finds us (Romans 9:28-29, 10:3-4, 13, 20).  The Lord saves!  We cannot save ourselves by the strength of our will or by birth as John 1:12-13 tells us.  Amen.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Strong Seal of Love on the Heart

Song of Songs 8:1-14 

1 Oh, that you were like my brother,
Who nursed at my mother's breasts!
If I should find you outside,
I would kiss you;
I would not be despised.

2 I would lead you and bring you
Into the house of my mother,
She who used to instruct me.
I would cause you to drink of spiced wine,
Of the juice of my pomegranate.

   (To the Daughters of Jerusalem)

3 His left hand is under my head,
And his right hand embraces me.
4 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.

   A Relative

5 Who is this coming up from the wilderness,
Leaning upon her beloved?
I awakened you under the apple tree.
There your mother brought you forth;
There she who bore you brought you forth.

   The Shulamite to Her Beloved

6 Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame.

7 Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor can the floods drown it.
If a man would give for love
All the wealth of his house,
It would be utterly despised.

   The Shulamite's Brothers

8 We have a little sister,
And she has no breasts.
What shall we do for our sister
In the day when she is spoken for?

9 If she is a wall,
We will build upon her
A battlement of silver;
And if she is a door,
We will enclose her
With boards of cedar.

   The Shulamite

10 I am a wall,
And my breasts like towers;
Then I became in his eyes
As one who found peace.

11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal Hamon;
He leased the vineyard to keepers;
Everyone was to bring for its fruit
A thousand silver coins.

   (To Solomon)

12 My own vineyard is before me.
You, O Solomon, may have a thousand,
And those who tend its fruit two hundred.

   The Beloved

13 You who dwell in the gardens,
The companions listen for your voice—
Let me hear it!

   The Shulamite

14 Make haste, my beloved,
And be like a gazelle
Or a young stag
On the mountains of spices.

The seal of love is strong on the heart as the Shulamite’s with her beloved Solomon.  She began by wishing he was her brother so she could openly kiss him without reproach as she awaited the day of their union as man and wife.  Though she longed for his embrace and such intimacy, she knew wisely not to stir up and awaken such passion in love until it was right and pleasing to God as well.  Things had to be done according to His word with self control and not led by raging passion of the moment.  This is what she advised to others as well who were listening, which includes us because this is God’s word for us as listeners and hearers of that word.  When she saw him approaching, the Shulamite begged to be set as a seal on his heart’s emotions and the strength of his arm in practice, knowing such love is as strong as death and that the flames of zeal and jealousy burn ever so hot if they could not have each other because another stepped in when given a chance if their love remained unrequited.  They needed to seal the deal, so to speak.  She knew that such love could not be quenched with the greatest flood and that such love could not be bought at any price.  It was priceless and unquenchable.  She knew also that their love was built on a solid and fruitful foundation and their marriage union’s vineyard would yield even more fruit to come.  He responded that all might hear and she called for him to come quickly to her as we do to our Beloved (Revelation 22:20).  This is a picture of earthly love applied to the spiritual, a call for our yearning of Christ as His bride and His love for us.  It is a strong love sealing our hearts (Ephesians 1:13) with an unbreakable bond that we can express without reproach or fear of losing (John 10:28-29, 14:27).  Oh, come quickly, our Beloved and our eternal Lord, the lover of our souls!