Tue, Apr 28th - 9:07PM
Study in Isaiah
The earth is utterly broken, the earth is rent asunder, the earth is shaken violently.
The earth shall stagger like a drunken man, and shall sway to and fro like a hammock; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall, and not rise again.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that Jehovah will punish the host of the high ones on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth (24:19-21).
Here can be seen how God so easily is able to pull down this world of ours. Our text above comes from the American Standard Version and differs somewhat from the KJV. In the KJV the picture presented is not of a hammock, but of a cottage. How easily is a cottage brought down in ruins and thus shall our entire world be easily brought down in utter ruin. We are shown how the earth itself shall respond to God’s mighty judgments. It shall stagger as the drunkard does, it shall move unsteadily in its orbit. Earthquakes shall dominate the globe in excessive magnitudes. The planet is to utterly fail and at this time God intends to punish the proud and arrogant people of this world. It shall not matter whether you are wealthy, famous, powerful, elected to office, poor, homeless, or a member of a church. God shall judge all mankind by His Word. But what is it that shakes the earth thus and sinks it? It is the transgression that shall be heavy upon it. Notice sin is a burden to the whole creation; it is a heavy burden, a burden under which it groans now and will sink at last. Sin is the ruin of states, and kingdoms, and families; they fall under the weight of that talent of lead, Zechariah 5:7, 8.
And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in prison, and after many days shall they be visited.
Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously (24:22-23).
I think that this passage could be speaking about Tribulation saints who have a part in the first resurrection. I say could be. Or, if we strictly keep these verses in line with what we have read previously in this chapter, we are being told that God will gather all of the kings and mighty lost souls into one place and shut them up in a “prison.” Could this be Hell? Perhaps. After this we find the conditional “Then.” Once verse 22 happens we shall then witness some unnatural things happening with the moon and the sun. In the Book of Revelation we can find more details about these occurrences. Even the celestial bodies respond to the commands of the Creator during judgment.
We have come to the conclusion of chapter 24 with its majestic brushstrokes covering the Last Days of this age of ours. Next we shall begin studying chapter 25 whose theme is that of the coming kingdom. The King of kings is coming and there will be the kingdom of heaven on this earth. It is inevitable.
May Christ richly bless you my friends, and through His will may we meet once again here to share His Word with each other.
Sun, Apr 26th - 8:48AM
Book of Isaiah Study
From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yes, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously (24:16).
The prophet sees the horrendous nature of the Great Tribulation and cries out in distress. Not only Isaiah spoke of the great destruction to occur during this time period, Christ said, “For then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22). Have any of you doubts as to whether or not believers will be present for this terrible time? These two verses put that doubt to rest. Saints will be going through this final judgment. They will be enabled through God’s grace to endure, just as we are today my friends.
Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth (24:17).
We find in this verse three dangers that will dog residents of earth in the Last Days.
1. “Fear” - there will be no freedom from fear. From the Atlantic Truce, authored by Churchill and Roosevelt, until today men have spoken glowing words about bringing freedom from fear to the entire world. How are they doing? Is the world free from fear today? Mobs roam certain nations. Dissatisfaction and fear are found in almost every nation on earth. Fear will be magnified during the Tribulation.
2. “Pit” - is danger of death. The threat of nuclear holocaust has hung over our world for over sixty years now. God says that He won’t let the entire population of the world be destroyed. Christ said that He will shorten the days. The “pit” is where lost souls are consigned to go after death and thus it is a picture of death.
3. “Snare” - means deception. Christ began His Olivet discourse in Matthew 24:4: “…Take heed that no man deceive you.” It will be a time when people will believe that they are entering into the Millennium, the Golden Age. We have the impression today from many world leaders that they are going to usher in the Golden Age, or that scientists will enable us to do this. I hate to rain on their parade, but they are only going to help usher in the Great Tribulation Period. The Antichrist will take over control of our world through deception. He will ensnare the lost people and deceive them into believing that everlasting peace is finally at hand. People already have been deceived into believing that wealth will bring security and peace into their lives, that they will protected from danger and insecurity. It is all a deception.
How many people are deceived today? Is it just the wealthy? Of course not. How many even pause to think about eternity? Not very many for they believe what they have been brainwashed with and think that this life is all that there is. Science rejects the creation account in the Bible and replaces it with belief in a theory that cannot be tested at all. They are deceived. We can be deceived by science, by politics, by the media, by the military; and we can be deceived by false preachers within religion. The only Truth speaker is Christ Jesus. He is wisdom, He is hope, He is the Way, He is Life. During the Tribulation the Antichrist will tell people what they want to hear, all the while saying to himself, “Suckers!” The Devil has said that about the human race for a very long time, and that is what we are unless we turn to Christ.
And it shall come to pass, that he who flees from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that comes up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake (24:18).
Pachad, and Pachath, and Pach are fear, pit, and snare; but the meaning is plain (v. 18), that evil pursues sinners (Proverbs 13:21), that the curse shall overtake the disobedient (Deuteronomy 28:15), that those who are secure because they have escaped one judgment know not how soon another may arrest them. It is a common instance of the sinful state of human life that when we seek to avoid one mischief we fall into a worse, and that the end of one trouble is often the beginning of another; so that we are least safe when we are most secure. We also see that the earth itself will be shaken to pieces. It will be literally so at last, when all the works therein shall be burnt up; and it is often figuratively so before that period. The windows from on high are open to pour down wrath, as in the universal flood. Upon the wicked God shall rain snares (Psalm 11:6); and, the fountains of the great deep being broken up, the foundations of the earth do shake of course, the frame of nature is unhinged, and all is in confusion.
Those who do not go into the pit of death are snared. The Book of Revelation says that one quarter of the population will be destroyed in one judgment, and another one third will be destroyed during another judgment. That, my friends, translates into billions of people being killed.
God willing, we shall continue this study in Isaiah. Until then, praise God in everything, pray continually, and walk in grace.
Sat, Apr 25th - 10:06AM
“Judge not, that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1
Here is an extremely familiar maxim, often spoken by unbelievers and carnal Christians as a rebuke to Christians whom they regard as totally intolerant. These words of our Lord Jesus Christ do warn us against a self-righteous attitude, condemning others who disagree with us on the basis of superficial criteria.
But, this caution by no means relieves us of the responsibility of evaluating the beliefs and practices of others as compared to the Scriptures. In this same sermon, Jesus said a few minutes later,
Since the Word itself is to be used in the final judgment (John 12:48; Revelation 20:12), it becomes obvious that we should use them correctly today to discern truth and error, right and wrong.
There is another basis of judgment that the Lord has authorized us to use. “Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast you your pearls before swine”; and, “beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:6-15). Obedience to such commandments obviously requires us to make a judgment as to whether certain unbelievers should be regarded as “dogs” or “swine” to whom it would be a waste of time to speak of spiritual matters; or whether certain professing Christian leaders are actually false prophets who should be repudiated. Jesus also said: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). “For the Word of God…is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit…Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them”(Matthew 7:18-20), Thus, the test of Scripture plus fruit produced, can serve as the basis of a valid judgment. We simply must not judge based upon our likes and dislikes. It must be grounded in God’s Word, accurately and correctly. We must not exclude people due to their not speaking in tongues, or because they do not take communion every week, or because they do not wash each other’s feet at Passover. This means that each of us must study Scripture and learn which things are the basics which we must do, believe in, and look for in others.
Thu, Apr 23rd - 8:31PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Therefore has the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left (24:6).
As perhaps many of you recall, God promised Noah that He would never destroy the earth again with a flood. It must be noted that here the judgment is with fire - “burned.” Let us look over in II Peter 3:6-7: “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
Peter wrote to educate people to the fact that we ought to be focusing upon those things that will not burn up in the coming fire. Spreading the Gospel to as many people as possible, teaching as many as possible on how to live Godly lives, helping the poor, the homeless, the orphaned, and the sick. We ought not to be spending money on buildings that grow ever larger and require ever greater amounts of money to heat, cool, light, and insure. To do so is wasting God’s money on things that shall burn up. They are temporal, not eternal.
The mirth of tabrets ceases, the noise of them that rejoice ends, the joy of the harp ceases.
They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.
The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in. There is a crying for wine in the streets; all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone. The new wine mourns, the vine languishes, all the merryhearted do sigh.
In the city is left desolation, and the gate is smitten with destruction(24:7-12).
This is a picture painted for us of how judgment shall fall upon all of us. Partying and drinking shall come to a halt. Music will no longer be played, joyfulness will disappear. Any who do drink alcohol will find that it does not satisfy their needs any longer.
The world we live in is a world of disappointment, a vale of tears, and a dying world; and the children of men in it are but of few days, and full of trouble. It is God that brings all these calamities upon the earth. The Lord that made the earth, and made it fruitful and beautiful, for the service and comfort of man, now makes it empty and waste (v. 1), for its Creator is and will be its Judge; He has an incontestable right to pass sentence upon it and an irresistible power to execute that sentence. It is the Lord that has spoken this word, and He will do the work (v. 3); it is His curse that has devoured the earth (v. 6), the general curse which sin brought upon the ground for man’s sake (Gen. 3:17), and all the particular curses which families and countries bring upon themselves by their enormous wickedness.
“The city of confusion” would appear to refer to Jerusalem’s conditon at the time. They will not know what to make of all that is happening around them.
When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done.
They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the Lord, they shall cry aloud from the sea.
Wherefore glorify you the Lord in the fires, even the name of the Lord God of Israel in the isles of the sea (24:13-15).
In these verses we can see that the saints of Christ are preserved through the Great Tribulation Period. The remnant will be small, and they will lift up their voices to glorify God. Some shall be Gentiles and some will be from Israel. “The isles of the sea” seemingly refers to the entire world.
Next time we shall find that this suffering is to be universal and unparalleled. In this way we are able to see that any troubles that we may experience now must be measured against this yardstick. Is this as bad as it could imaginably get? If not, then we are not experiencing the Great Tribulation of the Last Days. It should help us to not be fearful each and every day.
Until next time, beloved, may Christ richly bless each of you.
Wed, Apr 22nd - 10:07PM
Book of Isaiah Study
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
As I mentioned last time, this chapter coming up refers to the final judgment from God which will come upon the entire world and not just a part of the world.
Behold the Lord makes the earth empty, and makes it waste, and turns it upside down, and scatters abroad the inhabitants thereof (24:1).
“Earth” in this verse is the Hebrew word erets and could mean either the land of Israel or the whole world. In pondering this fact, this judgment could be said to be twofold, referring to the land of Israel and the entire world. Israel could be first to be emptied out and its people scattered across the world. Most of the time "land" is associated with a particular location that is attached to it, i.e., "the land of Egypt", or "the land of Canaan." But here we find no particular location being attached to it and thus we can surmise that the entire world is being referred to.
And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.
The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD hath spoken this word (24:2-3).
We often see numerous families, and plentiful properties, utterly emptied and utterly ruined, by one judgment or other, or perhaps only by a gradual and insensible decay. Sin has turned the earth upside down; the earth has become quite a different thing to man from what it was when God made it to be his habitation. Sin has also scattered abroad the inhabitants thereof. The rebellion at Babel was the occasion of the dispersion there. How many ways are there in which the inhabitants both of towns and of private houses are scattered abroad, so that near relations and old neighbors know nothing of one another! The earth mourns, and fades away; it disappoints those that placed their happiness in it and raised their expectations high from it, and proves not to be what they promised themselves it would be. We see here that God has spoken it and it shall come to pass. It is certain.
The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.
The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant (24:4-5).
The whole world languishes and fades away, as hastening towards a dissolution. It is, at the best, like a flower, which withers in the vase after we have arranged them there. And, as the earth itself grows old, so those that dwell on it are desolate; men carry crazy sickly bodies along with them, are often solitary, and confined by affliction.
Due to the sinful living of earth’s residents, the entire world is defiled, corrupted. It is not just humans that are affected by sin, it is everything here. We have broken God’s laws, changed His ordinance, and have broken His everlasting covenant. That is what has caused us to be cursed, that is what has caused us to be separated from God’s presence. This is why Christ Jesus had to come to this earth in the flesh and die upon a cross on Calvary. Christ had to come to pay our sin-debt for us. God loves us that much, beloved. He cares.
That is all for today, my friends. God willing, we will continue this study tomorrow. May Christ richly bless you this day!
Tue, Apr 21st - 10:35PM
Study in Isaiah
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
Howl, you ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot (23:14-15).
Tyre was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar much about the time that Jerusalem was, and lay as long as it did in its ruins. He trampled on the pride of Tyre, and therein served God's purpose; but with greater pride, for which God soon after humbled him. A prophecy of the restoration of Tyre to its glory again: After the end of seventy years, according to the years of one king, or one dynasty or family of kings, that of Nebuchadnezzar; when that expired, the desolations of Tyre came to an end. And we may presume that Cyrus at the same time when he released the Jews, and encouraged them to rebuild Jerusalem, released the Tyrians also, and encouraged them to rebuild Tyre. Yet here is seen that even though the Tyrians spent seventy years in captivity, once they rebuild their city they shall resume their former activities. They shall not give glory to God for their release, but rather they shall return to their sin filled livelihoods.
“Take up a harp, walk through the city, O prostitute forgotten; play the harp well, sing many a song, so that you will be remembered.”
And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth (23:16-17).
At the end of the seventy years Tyre is rebuilt and picks up with her world of commerce. Again, she would become a great commercial center, and she would commit fornication with all of the kingdoms of the world. Isaiah compares Tyre with a harlot, plying her carnal trade. This is how God speaks of all of our great commercial centers. They are all prostitutes for they are ultimately selling flesh these days.
Now we must move down through the ages to the last days of history, the time of Christ’s Second Coming. Here we find that Tyre will again be a great nation/city and will seemingly enter into the Millennium.
And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficientl, and for durable clothing (23:18).
The love of worldly wealth is a spiritual whoredom, and that is why covetous people are called adulterers and adulteresses (James 4:4), and covetousness is spiritual idolatry. That, having recovered her trade again, she shall make a better use of it than she had done formerly; and this good she should get by her calamities: Her merchandise, and her hire, shall be holiness to the Lord. The trade of Tyre, and all the gains of her trade, shall be devoted to God and to His honor and employed in His service. It shall not be treasured and hoarded up, as before, to be the subject of their pride and the support of their carnal confidence; but it shall be laid out in acts of piety and charity. What they can spare from supporting themselves and their families shall be for those that dwell before the Lord, for the priests, the Lord's ministers, that attend in His temple at Jerusalem; not to maintain them in pomp and grandeur, but that they and theirs may eat sufficiently, may have food convenient for them, with as little as may be of that care which would divert them from their ministration, and that they may have, not rich and fine clothing, but durable clothing, that which is strong and lasting, clothing for old men (so some read it), as if the priests, though they were young, must wear such plain grave clothing as old men used to wear. This supposes that religion should be set up in New Tyre, that they should come to the knowledge of the true God and into communion with the Israel of God. Perhaps their being fellow-captives with the Jews in Babylon (who had prophets with them there) disposed them to join with them in their worship there, and turned them from idols, as it cured the Jews of their idolatry: and when they were released with them, and as they had reason to believe for their sakes, when they were settled again in Tyre, they would send gifts and offerings to the temple, and presents to the priests. We find men of Tyre then dwelling in the land of Judah, Nehemiah 13:16. Tyre and Sidon were better disposed to religion in Christ's time than the cities of Israel; for, if Christ had gone among them, they would have repented, Matthew 11:21. And we meet with Christians at Tyre (Acts 21:3, Acts 21:4), and, many years after, did Christianity flourish there. Some of the rabbin refer this prophecy of the conversion of Tyre to the days of the Messiah. It directs those that have estates to make use of them in the service of God and religion, and to reckon that best laid up which is so laid out. Both the merchandise of the tradesmen and the hire of the day-laborers shall be devoted to God. Both the merchandise (the employment we follow) and the hire (the gain of our employments) must be holiness to the Lord, alluding to the motto engraved on the frontlet of the high priest (Exodus 39:30), and to the separation of the tithe under the law, Leviticus 27:30. See a promise like this referring to gospel times, Zecheriah 14:20, Zecheriah 14:21. We must first give up ourselves to be holiness to the Lord before what we do, or have, or get, can be so. When we abide with God in our particular callings, and do common actions after a godly sort - when we abound in works of piety and charity, are liberal in relieving the poor, and supporting the ministry, and encouraging the gospel - then our merchandise and our hire are holiness to the Lord. We cannot be aiming for anything less than this, beloved.
This completes chapter 23 of Isaiah. Next time I shall begin chapter 24 whose theme is about the coming Great Tribulation. Oh, you say? More verses written about the end of history? Yes, beloved, there are many more verses written in the Bible that speak to us about what is yet to come in the future. The general theme remains the same: judgment from God. But this next chapter brings us to a new section. The last chapter saw judgment against nations, now we shall see the final judgment that is coming against the entire earth.
Until next time, God willing, study God’s Word to show yourself approved before God. Give to the poor, support the widows, and take care of the parentless children. May Christ richly bless you.
Tue, Apr 21st - 7:32AM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
Pass through your land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish; there is no more strength (23:10).
The residents of the former crown colony are told that they shall be no longer protected by Tyre and Sidon. They are on their own. They will have to figure out how to defend themselves against aggressors.
He stretched out His hand over the sea, He shook the kingdoms: the Lord has given a commandment against the merchant city, to destroy the strong holds thereof (23:11).
Please notice the description of Tyre. It is called a “joyous city,” a “crowning city,” and a “merchant city.” Despite all of that, Tyre still is destroyed by God due to pride.
And He said, You shall no more rejoice, O you oppressed virgin, daughter of Zidon: arise pass over to Chittim; there also shall you have no rest (23:12).
What was but a hint in verse 4 is plainly declared to us here. Tyre is the daughter city of Sidon. Rich merchants of Sidon had founded Tyre and given her prestige. Their joy of prosperity was to disappear and there would be no rest to be found anywhere. “Pass over to Chittim” is something that we often do today, beloved. If we suffer disappointments and heartache where we are at presently, we up and move to another location in the vain hopes of starting afresh elsewhere and leave the troubling things of the past behind us. It rarely works out this way.
Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and He brought it to ruin (23:13).
When Assyria was a great nation, Chaldea (Babylon) was just a two-bit hick town. It was created by the Assyrians. Ironically later on Babylon became the ruler of the world, surpassing its human creator.
That is all for today, my friends. When we meet next, God willing, we shall see what was to become of Tyre over time. Until then, determine to walk according to grace, living peaceably with all men, and giving generously to those in genuine need. May Christ richly bless you this day.
Sat, Apr 18th - 8:50AM
The Two Isaiahs
Comfort you, comfort you My people, says your God. Speak you comfortable to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she has received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:1-2)
These two verses introduce us to the so-called book of “Deutero-Isaiah.” Bible critics claim that this must have been written by a second Isaiah simply because it contains prophetic claims which have come to pass. These critics do not believe that prophecy can be fulfilled. Christ Jesus quoted more than once from both “divisions” of Isaiah, attributing both of them to the same inspired author, and surely He knew more about their true authorship than do any mortal men!
These two divisions of Isaiah are quite distinctive in their particular vocabularies, simply because their individual themes are so different. The chapter structure of each is quite remarkable. The first book (chapters 1-39) contains the same number of chapters as there are books in the Old Testament. The second book (chapters 40-66) contains 27 chapters, the same as the number of books in the New Testament. The New Testament portion of Isaiah begins with John the Baptist, just as does the New Testament itself, and it ends with the new heavens and the new earth just as does the New Testament in Revelation.
The central chapter in the New Testament portion of Isaiah is chapter 53, which contains the clearest and fullest exposition of the death of Christ as a substitute for our sins to be found anywhere in the entire Bible. The central verse of this chapter 53 is: “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed”
That, beloved, is what sets us free! Once we accept the fact that we can’t pay for our sins and that we must accept the fact that Christ died in our place for our sins upon that cross then we become healed, become whole once more. It is this way that each of us can become what God originally intended for us to be. As long as we continue to be warped by sin we will not attain perfection. Perfection, my friends, is what will come when He calls us home to be with Him in heaven. What a glorious day to look forward to! There is hope to lift us up as we sojourn in this world wracked by sin. Remember to praise Christ for what He has already done for all of us who choose to accept Him into our hearts as our Lord and Savior. Praise Him for who He is! Praise Him for what He has done! Amen.
Fri, Apr 17th - 8:22PM
Book of Isaiah Study
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
And by great waters the seed of Sihor, the harvest of the river, is her revenue; and she is a mart of nations (23:3).
Sihor means “black” and would appear to refer to the Upper Nile, the silt of that region flooded Egypt and made it fertile. The wealth of Egypt had flowed through the port of Tyre but now that is ended and there would be a depression.
The riches of the sea, and the profits by goods exported and imported, are as much the harvest to trading towns as that of hay and corn is to the country; and sometimes the harvest of the river proves a better revenue than the harvest of the land. Or it may be meant of all the products of the Egyptian soil, which the men of Tyre traded in, and which were the harvest of the river Nile. “Mart of the nations“, means that Egypt was the great emporium of that part of the world. Some of every known nation might be found there, especially at certain times of the year, when there was a general rendezvous of merchants. This is enlarged upon by another prophet, Ezekiel 27:2, Ezekiel 27:3, etc.
Be you ashamed, O Zidon: for the sea has spoken, even the strength of the sea, saying, I travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish up young men, nor bring up virgins (23:4).
Perhaps this is somewhat of a suggestion that Tyre was the offspring of Sidon. Perhaps Tyre was a daughter city of Sidon.
As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre (23:5).
As Tyre was destroyed so then was the outlet for Egypt to sell its products. The one directly affected the other. There was no other center of commerce of such magnitude to replace Tyre and so Egypt began a long decline economically.
Pass you over to Tarshish; howl, you inhabitants of the isle (23:6).
The fall and destruction of Tyre caused universal mourning, even to a port city that was across the Mediterranean Sea. Some of the residents of Tyre escaped in ships to Tarshish, when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city.
Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? Her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn (23:7).
Almost any commercial center is also a “fun center.” People who have sold all of their goods and are carrying around fat purses will indulge themselves. The Tyrians are urged to flee as far as possible from their city for the “good times” have come to an abrupt end. But as I’ve already mentioned, this abundance would soon cease.
Who has taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honorable of the earth (23:8)?
“The crowning city” indicates the influence that Tyre wielded in her day. They established crown colonies much as Great Britain did during her Empire years. A crown colony is not independent but rather is under the legislation and administration of the crown.
The Lord of hosts has purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth (23:9).
God decided through His will the time of Tyre’s destruction. God offers no apologies for making this choice. Christ offers no apologies for the choices that He commands of us either.
That is all for today, beloved. God willing, we shall see next time some more references to Tyre being a “daughter city” of Sidon. Until then, may Christ richly bless you and your family.
Thu, Apr 16th - 7:46PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Before going any further let’s review the eleven nations that were around Israel, and what they represent.
1. Babylon - this nation represents all false religions and idolatry. In our times idolatry is covetousness, which is the overwhelming desire to have more and to give ourselves to the accumulation of the material things of this world.
2. Palestine - represents true religion which has become apostate, corrupted. Today we find that the same thing has happened to many churches. They go through rituals, they even repeat the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. From outward appearances they seem to be relying upon the Bible, but in reality they deny everything that is in it. They are apostate, which means they are standing away from what they once believed.
3. Moab - represents formal religion; that is, having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it. Many of us could be identified with one of these first three. Some of us are giving our lives to the accumulation of material things, and our eyes are filled with the things we want. We are covetous.
Some of us have been raised up in the Bible since we were kids but have turned away from that teaching. Others of us go to church and follow forms, ceremonies, and rituals, which are beautiful but dead as any extinct creature that we know of. We are unplugged from the power and life of God’s Holy Spirit. We are not living as saints of Christ ought to live, we have compromised ourselves with the world.
4. Damascus - represents compromise. That is the position that most churches are in today. Note, most churches. A remnant of churches are remaining faithful and true to the Word.
5. Ethiopia - represents missions. Our entire focus ought to be getting the Word of God out to the world around us!
6. Egypt - represents the world. Israel was told to stay out of Egypt; that is where Abraham got into trouble. We are admonished, “Love not the world.” Too many of us are having trouble with the world, and keeping it out of our homes.
7. Persia - represents luxury. Do not most of us love luxury in our affluent society? It is a siren whose song lures us into its death grip of indulgence and sin.
8. Edom - represents the flesh, carnality. People are addicted to serving their fleshly desires today.
9. Arabia - represents war. In today’s culture there are two types of people: the hawks and the doves. Both are of the world and both are willing to fight to support their beliefs! How can one be for peace and yet be willing to fight?
10. Valley of vision - this is Jerusalem which represents not religion, but politics. Some today believe that in politics will be found the solution to the problems of the world. They are wrong.
11. Tyre - represents commercialism, big business. The great sin of America today is commercialism, believing that the almighty dollar can solve all of our problems. Is this not what Washington is attempting to do in solving the current economic situation? Is there a problem? Congress votes for more money and the people for whom it was intended never get it. Every poverty program has not done what it was intended to do. Ungodly men take advantage of situations and cannot solve our problems, they simply complicate them while getting rich. The poor people have not learned this yet, because they too are far from God. Jesus Christ alone has love for the poor and knows how to help them.
There we have some background information with which to work as continue along with our study. Let’s dig into chapter 23:
The burden of Tyre. Howl, you ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them (23:1).
Tyre and Sidon were the two great cities of the Phoenicians. Their ships traveled between all ports of the Mediteranean Sea and also went beyond Gibralta. Their ships brought tin back from Great Britain. Carthage, in North Africa, was settled by them. Tarshish was another center of commerce settled by this people. In the account of Jonah we recall that this man purchased a ticket for Tarshish in his vain attempt to flee from God. This city is on the southern shore of Spain.
Hiram, king of Tyre, was a great friend of King David’s. But Tyre is not to be found today. There is a little Turkish town near the site.
The picture painted in verse one is that of returning ships spotting the destruction of Tyre and witnessing the distressing fact that it will no longer be a great center of commerce.
Be still, you inhabitants of the isle; you whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished (23:2).
“Zidon”, or Sidon, was around thirty miles up the coast from Tyre. The prominent sea merchants had made these two cities as great as they were through their commerce. Interestingly, Sidon did not receive a prophecy of destruction as did Tyre and today Sidon exists as a port where oil is brought to be loaded on tankers and transported all over the world.
That is all for today, beloved. Until next time may Chist richly bless you and your family. God willing we shall meet here again.
Tue, Apr 14th - 7:23PM
Book of Isaiah Study
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
Quite a few people have seen a picture of the Antichrist in Shebna, while Eliakim sets before us none other than Christ who will overcome the Antichrist in this world at the end of this current age.
Thus says the Lord God of hosts, Go, get you unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say,
What have you here? And whom have you here, that you have hewn yourself out a sepulchre here, as he that hews himself out a sepulcher on high, and that graves a habitation for himself in a rock(22:15-16)?
Shebna was secretary of the treasurery, a somewhat cheap politician under Hezekiah. Apparantly he was embezzling funds (II Kings 18:18, 19:2, Isaiah 36:3, 37:2). It would appear that this Shebna was building a tomb meant to perpetuate his name. It became rather ironic for he was to die and be buried in a foreign land (verses 17-18).
Behold, the LORD will carry you away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover you.
He will surely violently turn and toss you like a ball into a large country: there you shall die, and there the chariots of your glory shall be the shame of your lord's house (22:17-18).
Shebna is a figure of Antichrist and this entire historical account is a picture for us so that we can understand what is yet to come in our history.
And I will drive you from your station, and from your state shall he pull you down.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:
And I will clothe him with your robe, and strengthen him with your girdle, and I will commit your government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah(22:19-21).
Eliakim was the statesman who succeeded Shebna. Eliakim was an unselfish man. These two men are cast in contrast here. They are not paradoxes as much as they are opposites. Shebna pictures for us the Antichrist, and Eliakim pictures Christ who takes rule over the entire world from the Antichrist
And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open (22:22).
This verse needs to be compared to the New Testament words of Christ Himself: “And to the angel of the church of Philadelphia write; These things says he that is holy, he that is true, he that has the key of David, he that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens” (Revelation 3:7). Is it not wonderful to place our lives in the hands of Him who is able to close or open any and all doors?
And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house.
And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons (22:23-24).
So we see here that our salvation hangs upon Christ as well.
In that day, says the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off; for the Lord has spoken it (22:25).
As we have found in other places in scripture, “In that day” refers to the Great Tribulation Period at the end of history. A great multitude of people, worldwide, will put their trust in Antichrist when he steps up. They will look to him to solve all of their problems, solve world hunger, and end all warfare. They will think that he must be Christ, but he will be like a nail that will fall from out of the wall.
Ever have that experience, beloved? I have driven nails into wood and then hung a heavy coat upon them. And the nails would fall out! Jesus Christ is the “nail” in a sure place. Are we hanging everything that we have on the “sure nail,” or are we hanging everything upon some “nail” that is going to come slipping out of the wall and let everything fall down and be ruined? In the recent mortgage snafu and Wall Street shenanigans were people trusting in a “sure nail” or in an uncertain, high-risk nail? People deceived themselves, and others, into believing that these assets were a sure thing. The truth was something else entirely. We can t rust lawyers and they make mistakes. Or investment brokers and they make mistakes. Or we trust politicians and they make mistakes. Or we can trust pastors and they make mistakes. Only Christ is a nail in a sure place. Only Christ can be trusted to not make any mistakes. We need to hang our lives on Him.
That ends chapter 22. Chapter 23 contains another burden, the judgment of Tyre. This will be another representation of some principle, philosophy, or system which God must judge.
Until next we meet, God willing, greet all saints with a hug and a holy kiss of fellowship. Provide others with what they lack. Support the widows and the orphaned. May Christ richly bless you.
Mon, Apr 13th - 10:09AM
Learning to Trust God
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me: You shall stretch out Your hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and Your right hand shall save me." (Psalm 138:7)
Oh, the gems that we find in the book of Psalms! Do you find it difficult to trust in God? Are you doubtful that He really knows what is going on in your daily life? If so, then please read on.
In this 138th Psalm David makes three simple points in his reprimand to those of us who struggle with trusting in God's lovingkindness and truth. First, God loves His saints, but those with a pride problem are not going to gain His attention (Psalm 138:6). This is basic stuff in Christian doctrine. Pride is one of the seven things that God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). God reponds to the desire of the humble person (Psalm 10:17) and He stays near to those who have a broken heart or a contrite spirit (Psalm 34:17). You and I need to constantly work on being humble, and not prideful.
Second, God will revive us when we are in trouble. The promise is about the reviving and the saving. We may gain God's sufficient grace to endure rather than gain a physical cure. We may receive the ability to be victorious in the face of opposition, or adversity, rather than relief from the circumstances. We may, indeed, be delivered from the pressure of the enemies or have God's miracle performed in our lives, but whatever the circumstantial occasion, God will respond for our good.
Third, God will bring about our perfection (Psalm 138:8). That term relates to completing God's work or purpose. Here, it is specifically related to that which concerns the saints of God. The sovereign Lord will see to it that His chosen will make it (I Peter 2:9). There is no question about this. God's mercy is always refreshed. There is no limit to His forgiveness. Nothing about who we are will defeat God's plan for us (Philippians 2:13). We are not larger than Christ our Lord nor are any of our sins. If God could forgive Saul of Tarsus for persecuting His saints even to the point of death (the stoning of Stephen), then you and I shall also be able to be forgiven of our multiple sins. We simply must humble ourselves before Christ, admit our sins, and promise to not repeat them again. Is this not what Christ told the adulterous woman? "Go, and sin no more." We must acknowledge our "diseased" nature to ourselves and then accept the "healing" from Christ. If we are to cease being blind, deaf, lame, and dumb, then we must accept Christ into our hearts. We must do it today, my friends, if we have not done so already. Have you?
Fri, Apr 10th - 7:45PM
Book of Isaiah Study
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord GOD of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains (22:5).
It is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity. Our enemies trouble us and tread us down, and our friends are perplexed/puzzled and do not know what action to take to do us any good. The Lord God of hosts is now contending with the valley of vision; the enemies with their battering rams are breaking down the walls, and we are in vain crying to the mountains (to keep the enemy at bay, or to fall on us and cover us) or looking for help to come to us over the mountains, or appealing, as God does, to the mountains, to hear our controversy (Micah 6:1) and to judge between us and our injurious neighbors. See how this still applies to us today, beloved. If we refuse to live according to God’s plan for our lives then He shall judge us and break down our lives and attempt to bring us to a place where we are willing to re-examine our lives, our motives, and repent of our sins again.
And Elam bares the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield.
And it shall come to pass, that your choicest valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.
And he discovered the covering of Judah, and you did look in that day to the armor of the house of the forest (22:6-8).
The great numbers and strength of the enemy, that should invade their country and besiege their city. Elam (that is, the Persians) come with their quiver full of arrows, and with chariots of fighting men, and horsemen. Kir (that is, the Medes) muster up their arms, unsheathe the sword, and uncover the shield, and get every thing ready for battle, every thing ready for the besieging of Jerusalem. Then the choice valleys about Jerusalem, that used to be filled with flocks and covered over with corn, shall be full of chariots of war, and at the gate of the city the horsemen shall set themselves in array, to cut off all provisions from going in, and to force their way in. What a condition must the city be in that was surrounded on all sides with such an army!
You have seen also the breaches of the city of David, that they are many: and you gathered together the waters of the lower pool.
And you have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have you broken down to fortify the wall (22:9-10).
King Hezekiah actually took these precautions in defending Jerusalem (II Chronicles 32). He built a wall around the fountain so that the residents of the city would not run out of water.
These verses are referring to the future, it was a vision given to Isaiah. We are shown all of the enemies who have come up against the nation. Persia came to power when Jerusalem was in ruins, the Assyrians laid siege but never entered, to the last enemy from the north that will in the future threaten the city but will not enter. The very large interval between these two has seen this city captured more than any other city. This is the burden of Jerusalem over the centuries.
They were now greatly scared, and in this fright they manifested two things that were much amiss: - A great contempt of God's goodness, and His power to help them. They made use of all the means they could think of for their own preservation; and it is not for doing this that they are blamed, but, in doing this, they did not acknowledge God. How careful they were to improve all advantages that might contribute to their safety. When Sennacherib had made himself master of all the defensed cities of Judah, and Jerusalem was left as a “cottage in a vineyard,” they thought it was time to look about them. A council was immediately called, a council of war; and it was resolved to stand upon their defense, and not surrender. Pursuant to this resolve, they took all the prudent measures they could for their own security. We tempt God if, in times of danger, we do not do the best we can for ourselves. (1.) They inspected the magazines and stores, to see if they were well stocked with arms and ammunition: They looked to the armor of the house of the forest, which Solomon built in Jerusalem for an armory (Kings 10:17), and then they delivered out what they had occasioned for.
You made also a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool: but you have not looked unto the maker thereof, neither had respect unto Him that fashioned it long ago.
And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:
And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.
And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till you die, says the Lord GOD of hosts (22:11-14).
It is the wisdom of princes, in time of peace, to provide for war, that they may not have arms to seek when they should use them, and perhaps upon a sudden emergency. (2.) They viewed the fortifications, the breaches of the city of David; they walked round the walls, and observed where they had gone to decay for want of seasonable repairs, or were broken by some former attempts made upon them. These breaches were many; the more shame for the house of David that they suffered the city of David to lie neglected. They had probably often seen those breaches; but now they saw them to consider what course to take about them. This good we should get by public distresses, we should be awakened by them to repair our breaches, and fix what is wrong. (3.) They made sure of water for the city, and did what they could to deprive the besiegers of it: You gathered together the water of the lower pool, of which there was probably no great store, and of which therefore they were the more concerned to be conserved. See what a mercy it is that, as nothing is more necessary to the support of human life than water, so nothing is more cheap and common; but it is bad indeed when that, as here, is a scarce commodity. (4.) They numbered the houses of Jerusalem, that every house might send in its quota of men for the public service, or contribute in money to it, which they raised by a poll, so much a head or so much a house. (5.) Because private property ought to give way to the public safety, those houses that stood in their way, when the wall was to be fortified, were broken down, which, in such a case of necessity, is no more an injury to the owner than blowing up houses in case of fire. (6.) They made a ditch between the outer and inner wall, for the greater security of the city; and they figured out how to draw the water of the old pool to it, that they might have plenty of water themselves and might deprive the besiegers of it; for it seems that was the project, lest the Assyrian army should come and find much water (II Chronicles 32:4) and so should be the better able to prolong the siege.
That is a daunting vision given to the prophet. Jerusalem having its homes broken apart in order to repair the holes in the defensive wall around the city. Besieged by armies. Water becoming a scarce commodity for the residents. Isaiah must have been shocked at being given such a vision of the future. Are we not the same when we are given hard visions from out of God’s Word today? Do we not remain shocked, unable to move, unable sometimes to even believe?
That is all for today, my friends. Until we meet again, God willing, may Christ richly bless you and your family.
Fri, Apr 10th - 12:58PM
Living in Occupied Territory
"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you shold show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9).
In our daily struggle for both survival and victory in this chaotic world of ours, we would do well to recognize that we are in enemy territory. We do not live in "friendly" territory. Yes, it is quite true that our "Captain" created this world- "all things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3) - sacrificed His life to redeem it, and will reign over it for eternity, it is also very true that "the whole world lies in wickedness" (I John 5:19), occupied by "the prince of this world" (John 12:31), "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2).
The harsh fact that we are surrounded by such spiritual darkness should not come as any surprise, for we were rescued by His grace, we too were part of that darkness and had to be called out of it. As Christ taught, "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).
And so you and I are thrust into a confrontation, one that overshadows the everyday human conflicts, for "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12). In this we must remember that Satan pushes us into hatred of each other. It is he who pushes our "buttons" so that we become paranoid, suspicious, or unforgiving. Through these means he manages to isolate us from others who might be able to help us. Satan is engaged in guerilla warfare on many different fronts around the world. Everytime someone decides to accept Christ into their hearts and repent of their sinful ways Satan has a new action front where he must attack to reclaim "ground" that he previously owned but has now lost to God. He does this within families, within communities, and within our churches. Satan prowls about looking for whom he can devour, destroying their entire witness and life. So we must love the sinner, hate the sin. Why? Because much of the time it is something that Satan is controlling a person through. We must separate the sin/s from the individual committing them, just like God does when He redeems us. Christ separated all of my sins from me on the day that He saved me. He no longer remembers them, they are no more. Oh, that I could do that also! Forget and never remember them anymore! It is hard to do, is it not? Something then, that each of us who have been born again must work on each and every day.
But, beloved, praise God, we have been called "out of darkness into His marvelous light" as described in our text. Even though we may be still in the world, Christ has "delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son" (Colossians 1:13). Claim these verses as your own. Hold them tightly to your chest. Allow them to open up your eyes so that you may see clearly what is actually going on all around you each day. And study God's Word daily so that you may become more knowledgeable and show yourself to be wise.
Wed, Apr 8th - 9:36PM
Book of Isaiah Study
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
What is the “valley of vision?”
The burden of the valley of vision. What ails you now, that you are completely gone up to the housetops (22:1)?
Jerusalem most emphatically is called a valley of vision because there God was known and His name was great, there the prophets were made acquainted with His mind by visions, and there the people saw the goings of their God and King in His sanctuary. Babylon, being a stranger to God, though rich and great, was called the desert of the sea; but Jerusalem, being entrusted with His oracles, is a valley of vision. And yet, here again we find a paradoxical statement. “Mountain” of vision would be understood because the mountain is the place of the far view. Moses stood upon Mount Nebo to view the land of promise. Our Lord Jesus Christ looked over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.
The people of Jerusalem, out of curiosity and fear go to the housetops to see about the approaching danger. The Assyrians were coming.
Where Bibles and ministers are there is a valley of vision, from which is expected fruit accordingly; but here is a burden of the valley of vision, and a heavy burden it is. Church privileges, if they be not improved, will not secure men from the judgments of God. You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore will I punish you. The valley of vision has a particular burden. Thou Capernaum, Matthew 11:23. The higher any are lifted up in means and mercies the heavier will their judgment be if they abuse them. This in turn translates into the message to the saints of today: Beloved, to us is given the oracles of God, the Gospel of Christ. We are the “valley of vision” and hence, we will be greatly judged on what we do with them. Let us pray that we shall do mighty things that glorify the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
You that are full of stirs, a tumultuous city, a joyous city: your slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle.
All your rulers are fled together, they are bound by the archers: all that are found in you are bound together, which have fled from far.
Therefore said I, Look away from me; I will weep bitterly, labor not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people (22:2-4).
The consternation that the city should be in upon the approach of Sennacherib's army is being spoken of here. It used to be full of stirs, a city of great trade, people hurrying to and fro about their business, a tumultuous city, populous and noisy. Where there is great trade there is great tumult. It used to be a joyous reveling city. What with the busy part and what with the merry part of people, places of business are places of noise. Marketplaces are invariably noisy, tumultuous venues.The great grief which this should bring to all serious sensible people among them, which is represented by the prophet's laying the thing to heart himself; he lived to see it, and was resolved to share with the children of his people in their sorrows.
He is not willing to proclaim his sorrow, and therefore bids those about him to look away from him; Isaiah 22:4. He will abandon himself to grief, and indulge himself in it, will weep secretly, but weep bitterly, and will have none go about to comfort him, for his grief is persistant. But what is the occasion of his grief? A poor prophet had little to lose, and had become used to hardship, when he walked naked and barefoot; but it is for the spoiling of the daughter of his people. What might the daughter of his people be?
That is all for today, beloved. Until next time, God willing, walk circumspectly, walk in light. May God bless your path and light your way.
Wed, Apr 8th - 12:30PM
Committing oneself to God
"Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." (Psalm 37:5)
As we, the saints of God, battle with forces of spiritual evil there must exist frustration. We will experience the pain and pressure of torment as we deal with the "evil devices" spoken of in Isaiah 32:7. It will take its toll on us. Ultimately, the Lord God Almighty will destroy the plans of the wicked (Psalm 33:10), but each moment that those plans remain alive, remain active, they can cause a great deal of anguish.
Inspite of this, we must maintain our personal trust in Christ and commit our lives to Him if we are to be victorious. Paul spent much of his letter to the Philippians descibing the link between the Creator-Savior and the mind, heart, and lifestyle of the saint who has given his/her life over to Christ. "Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ"(Philippians 1:6). Are we not to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."(Philippians 2:12-13)?
While admitting that he had not "attained" perfection, Paul was so focused in upon the work of the Kingdom that he was "forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus"(Philippians 3:13-14). Each of us needs to be just as focused upon pressing forward towards the end of our "race" so that we can receive that prize of the high calling of God in Christ. We need to not forget that Christ began a new work in us the moment He came into our hearts and He shall not quit working in us until He finishes that good work. We cannot hasten His work, it gets done according to His good pleasure. God's promise to "bring it to pass" is conditional; we must be committed to His Sovereign will for our "way." It takes nothing less than full commitment on our part.
Tue, Apr 7th - 12:36PM
God: My present help in times of trouble
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the middle of the sea; Though the waters there roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling within. Selah"(Psalm 46:1-3)
The word "very" in this passage is a strong modifier. God is intensively present and is a helper in our times of trouble. "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid"(John 14:27). There are those who argue that God is far, far away, leaving the world and all of its inhabitants to work out their own evolutionary salvation after He began it billions of years ago. But they are wrong, for as can be seen above, God is here right now. "The Lord of hosts is with us"(Psalm 46:11).
There has been a time already when this earth was removed, and even the mountains were changed. The waters increased and the mountains were covered until finally, "the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" (II Peter 3:6).
This was the Flood in Noah's lifetime. It was a time of great trouble and yet God provided refuge for His people in the form of an Ark. God remembered Noah and his family inside of the Ark, God was not far, far away. It was a great judgment which was placed upon the entire earth due to the exceeding sinfulness of its people. There are great judgments coming on this earth in future days as well (Psalm 46:6-9), when the earth itself will not be flooded but will be melted (literally "dissolved", II Peter 3:10).
And yet, all of God's people in that day will still be able to say: "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge" (Psalm 46:7). From the beginning of creation to the end of this age, God is a very present help to all of His people. So do not fear, do not fret, do not worry incessantly over what is happening to you, and all around you. Take your concerns to the Lord in prayer continuously. Be joyful always and glorify Christ. Those who suffer currently from earthquakes, floods, and tornadoes should turn to Christ for comfort and assurance for He is with us always.
Mon, Apr 6th - 9:58PM
Study in Isaiah
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
The watchman said, The morning comes and also the night: if you will inquire, inquire you: return, come (21:12).
It would seem that both morning and night are coming. What will be glory for some will be doom for others. What will be light for God’s people will be night for Edomites, those of the flesh who have rejected God and His Law.
We could ask the question, “Is it day?” Yet the night comes also. If there be a morning of youth and health, there will come a night of sickness and old age; if a morning of prosperity in the family, in the public, yet we must look for changes. But God usually gives a morning of opportunity before He sends a night of calamity, that His own people may be prepared for the storm and others left inexcusable. If you will enquire, enquire. Note, it is our wisdom to improve the present morning in preparation for the night that is coming after it. “Enquire, return, come. Be inquisitive, be penitent, be willing and obedient.” The manner of expression here is very visable, for we are put to our choice what we will do: “If you will enquire, enquire; if not, it is at your peril; you cannot say but you have a fair offer made you.” We are also urged to be at a point: “If you will, say so, and do not stand pausing; what you will do do quickly, for it is no time to hesitate.” Those that return and come to God will find they have a great deal of work to do and but a little time to do it in, and therefore they have need to be busy.
The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall you lodge, O you traveling companies of Dedanim (21:13).
“Arabia” would seem to be plain enough, eh? But again we find a word with a double meaning. It can be made to mean evening by changing the vowel points. In the Hebrew language we find no vowels. Instead there are vowel points, which are little marks above the consonants. We find in our translations vowels that are added to make them more readable to us. The double meaning here is that it was evening in the history of Arabia. This was the land of the Ishmaelites, the Bedouin tribes of the desert, the modern Arabs. Abraham’s sons, Ishmael and Isaac, never did get along and their descendants do not get along today either. The Arabs and the Jews are still at each others’ throats. Would Abraham still think that the little sin that he committed was a little sin? Perhaps not. Sin never ceases working itself out in our lives and in our history.
The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled.
For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war.
For thus has the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of a hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail (21:14-16).
The Dedanim, here mentioned (Isaiah 21:13), descended from Dedan, Abraham's son by Keturah; the inhabitants of Tema and Kedar descended from Ishmael, Genesis 25:3, Genesis 25:13, Genesis 25:15. The Arabians generally lived in tents, and kept cattle, were a hardy people, used to labor; probably the Jews depended upon them as a sort of a wall between them and the more warlike eastern nations; and therefore, to alarm them, they shall hear the burden of Arabia, and see it sinking under its own burden. A destroying army shall be brought upon them, with a sword, with a drawn sword, with a bow ready bent, and with all the grievousness of war, Isaiah 21:15. It is probable that the king of Assyria, in some of the marches of his formidable and victorious army, took Arabia on his way, and, meeting with little resistance, made an easy prey of them. The consideration of the grievousness of war should make us thankful for the blessings of peace.
The poor country people will thus be forced to flee for shelter wherever they can find a place; so that the travelling companies of Dedanium, which used to keep the high roads with their caravans, shall be forced to quit them and lodge in the forest in Arabia (Isaiah 21:13), and shall not have the normal convenience of their own tents, poor and weather-beaten as they are.
They shall stand in need of refreshment, being ready to perish for lack of it, in their flight from the invading army: “O you inhabitants of the land of Tema!” (who probably were next door neighbors to the companies of Dedanim) “bring you water” and “to him that is thirsty, and prevent with your bread those that flee, for they do not wander for wandering sake, nor are they reduced to homelessness by any extravagance of their own, but they flee from the sword.” Tema was a country where water was sometimes a scarce commodity (as we find, Job 6:19), and we may conclude it would be in a particular manner acceptable to these poor distressed refugees. Beloved, we ought to provide food and drink for those among us who are displaced through no fault of their own. We do not know at what point in time we too shall require help.
All that which is the glory of Kedar shall vanish away and fail. Did they glory in their numerous herds and flocks? They shall all be driven away by the enemy.
And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the LORD God of Israel has spoken it(21:17).
Neither the skill of archers (though they be ever so good marksmen) nor the courage of mighty men can protect a people from the judgments of God, when they come with commission; they rather expose the undertakers. That is poor glory which will quickly come to nothing.
All this shall be done in a little time: “Within one year according to the years of a hireling (within one year precisely reckoned) this judgment shall come upon Kedar.” If this fixing of the time be of no great use to us now (because we find not either when the prophecy was delivered or when it was accomplished), yet it might be of great use to the Arabians then, to awaken them to repentance, that, like the men of Nineveh, they might prevent the judgment when they were thus told it was just at the door. Or, when it begins to be fulfilled, the business shall be done, be begun and ended in one year's time. God, when He decides, can do a great work in a little time.
It is all ratified by the truth of God (Isaiah 21:16); “Thus hath the Lord said to me; you may take my word for it that it is his word;” and we may be sure no word of His shall fall to the ground. And again (Isaiah 21:17): The Lord God of Israel has spoken it, as the God of Israel, in pursuance of His gracious designs concerning them; and we may be sure the strength of Israel will not lie.
Here in these words of chapter 21 we do find reassurance that what God says will happen, will happen. God does not lie. We also find that we need to be watchmen/women. We need to stand upon the walls and be on guard for Satan and his evil designs for us. We need to remember that Christ will indeed come as a thief in the night, that we will not be ready for His second Coming unless we are acting as watchmen. We must be ever vigilant today, beloved. We must watch over our children, our grandchildren, and Christ’s children. Jesus has given that charge to each of us. We cannot turn away and think that we shall not be held accountable for that decision. We will be held accountable, even if it takes until we stand before His throne in heaven.
That ends chapter 21. Next we shall delve into a chapter whose theme is of the burden of the valley of vision and relates some history of Shebna and Eliakim. Until we meet again, God willing, the grace of Christ be with you and your families.
Sat, Apr 4th - 10:44PM
Study in Isaiah
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
For thus has the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he sees.
And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed: (21:6-7)
We see a straightforward report of what the watchman, who was set upon the wall or tower, saw outside the city walls. For today, this sends a message to each of us. Who is being the watchman for your family? Who is alert to the dangers that can beset our family members, our loved ones? Is anyone taking the time to care enough and do this in your family? I hope so. And, if someone is being the “watchman” are you listening to what that person declares that they see? Are you willing to believe them? Or do you scoff and make fun of them?
And he cried, A lion: My Lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:
And, behold, here comes a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he has broken into the ground (21:8-9).
The watchman reports what the approaching chariot drivers and horsemen have said. He gives a very concise report. These approaching men are messengers, they have come to report the destruction of Babylon. Shocking news in that day. Jeremiah 51 records more on this destruction. The Media-Persian army did not just capture the city, they tore it down.
Verse 8 again speaks to those of us who are watchmen today. We must stand always upon the ramparts of our homes, our families, and of our congregations of believers. All the day long and entire nights. Our vigil is not one to be taken lightly nor one to be forsaken.
O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you (21:10).
Harvest is always a time of judgment. Time to judge whether or not all of the efforts to raise the crops was successful. Time to judge the worthiness/quality of the crops being harvested. Time to judge which crops are not worth keeping for use and must be discarded. God uses these images to focus our minds upon the spiritual application in our lives. In John 4:35 Jesus Christ said, “Say you not, There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” Our Lord said this at the end of the age of Law, Israel had had the Law for almost 1500 years and now judgment had arrived. Harvest is the time of judgment.
The buden of Dumah. He calls to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? (21:11)
“Dumah” is a symbolic word. Isaiah is playing with words to bring out a deeper meaning. This word is Edom with the “E” removed. It means “silence.” Our word “dumb” comes closer to the intent and purpose of the prophet here. Edom is still a land of silence today. “Seir” means “rough or hairy.” Esau was the first Seir man. He was hairy, and he lived in Mount Seir (see Genesis 36:8). “Seir” also means “storms.” Storms swept this land.
So, from out of this land of silence and storms comes this inquiry, which is repeated twice: “Watchman, what of the night?” It is asking how much of the night has already passed, how much more darkness is there to go until the glorious coming of daybreak. It is a question that is answered in Malachi 4.
Next time, my friends, we shall see that not all people will be pleased with the judgment of God in the Last Day. God willing, we shall meet here again and continue this study. Be faithful to your God, cling to that cross upon Calvary no matter what the cost. He shall sustain you, no matter what may assail you. Grace and peace of Christ be yours.
Fri, Apr 3rd - 6:29PM
Book of Isaiah Study
This is a neglected part of the Word of God. This chapter is rarely quoted or studied. Perhaps this is due to the many questions that must be answered in one’s mind after reading it through. Perhaps it is also due to the fact that symbols are used here.
I believe in a literal interpretation of God’s Word, but when symbolism is used, it always pictures reality. That is important to remember. Some commentators attempt to designate too much as being symbolism and thus not reality-based within the Bible. Let’s not try to “evaporate” this, or any other, passage of Scripture, but rather study it and see what God is saying to us.
The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through; so it comes from the desert, from a terrible land (21:1).
So what might this “desert of the sea” be? We need to know since it is under judgment from God. This verse does not give us any real clues, but if we jump down to verse 9 we find someone declaring “Babylon is fallen.” So perhaps Babylon is the “desert of the sea.” We shall see.
Babylon was located geographically on a great desert plain beside the Euphrates River. It was irrigated by many canals. We have a strange amalgamation of water and desert then. This same sort of fusion of desert and water is found in the Book of Revelation. There we are confronted with mystery Babylon. It can also be found in Jeremiah.
Babylon, with all of its glitter and glamour and as the banner bearer of idolatry and false religion, was like a mirage upon the desert. What a powerful picture! Can’t you visualize that in your mind? Babylon resting on the banks of the Euphrates River with a great desert plain stretching out behind it. The shimmering heat rising off of the heated ground causing all sorts of images to apparently appear to the dehydrated traveler. Babylon was not a “nice” place, it was a mirage in the desert of life. It was not an oasis full of life-giving water but rather a pit of vipers ready to poison and kill the souls of all who entered her gates. Here is the message for us today, beloved. Is our church an oasis, or a desert? Are we giving out the water of eternal life or are we sucking the life’s blood out of people who visit us? Am I an oasis, a fountain of refreshment, or am I just a mirage upon the desert of this life?
A grievous vision is declared to me; the treacherous dealer deals treacherously, and the spoiler spoils. Go up, O Elam; besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease (21:2).
Here God commands the nation of Media-Persia to go destroy and ransack the city. This prophecy came true in time. Media-Persia did go and capture Babylon. Isaiah tells us that this was an awful vision given to him to see.
Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travails: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it.
My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure has he turned into fear unto me (21:3-4).
The devastation shown to Isaiah just crushes him. He cannot believe the extent of it. The heart of God is revealed, wanting to show mercy and not wanting to judge. No one can rejoice in the judgment of God. God tells us that His judgment is His “strange” work. God does not want to judge you or me; He desires us to repent and turn back to loving Him. God wants to save us but the choice is ours. God does not want to judge nations either, it is up to them.
Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, you princes, and anoint the shield (21:5).
This verse almost reads like it were an eyewitness account of Babylon’s destruction as we find in Daniel’s account. This was recorded here some two hundred years before it actually came to pass. In the middle of Belshazzar’s banquet the Median general, Gobryas, detoured the river that flowed under and through the city and marched his army on the dry river bed underneath the walls of the city. The city was shocked and surprised as it fell just as God had said it would.
I will stop right here, my friends. Next time, God willing, we will find people up in watchtowers, some folk who come to relay bad news, and find Isaiah affirming the prophecy.
Until then, shall we all strive to become an “oasis” in this desert in which we are strangers journeying towards heaven. One day we will find ourselves upon heaven’s shores, smiling as we walk towards the throne of heaven.
Thu, Apr 2nd - 12:26PM
Who are the Modern Pharisees, Sadducees?
You may disagree with me on this, but it is merely my opinion. Personally, I think today's "Pharisees" are those legalistic fundamentalists who have made their own little ten commandments and try to point out how everyone else is not obeying them. They try to "pour" all of us into their selected mold and form us into their image of what believers are supposed to be. Now the counterpart to the Sadducees today could be the liberal theologist or modernist. The Sadducee denied all of the supernatural, and they ruled out a great many things. They denied the existance of angels, and more than likely the Holy Spirit too. Then, of course, we have the scribes. Who might represent them today? Perhaps it applies to some preachers today. Those who are supposed to know the Word of God and maybe they do know the letter of it very well, and yet they do not know the heart of God's Word. One of my brothers'-in-law fits into this category. He became a pastor in order to have a job that paid him enough to support his family, not because he wanted to serve God, or because he felt that God was calling him to go and serve people from the pulpit. He suggested that I could do the same thing and make $50,000 per year easily. I declined his suggestion. He had no heart for the ministry. He was calculating and self-serving in his motivation. I think that there are too many pastors who fit this description, and they all claim to love Christ Jesus. Jesus ultimately will say to these people: "I knew you not even though you said, Lord, Lord!"
Peace and grace of Christ be yours today!
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