Mon, Aug 31st - 9:08PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Note what Hezekiah does upon hearing their report of what Rabshakeh said.
And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord (37:1).
Hezekiah’s reaction reveals a man of faith. In this time of trouble he goes to the house of God for comfort and for direction.
And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz (37:2).
We see the king sending his royal messengers to Isaiah. This is another act of faith for the king wants a word from God on this dire matter that is set before him.
And they said unto him, Thus says Hezekiah, this day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth (37:3).
Hezekiah’s message to the prophet is dire, and full of gloom. It is ominous, black, and full of pessimism. It is the same sort of message that many of us could bring before the throne of God today.
It may be the Lord your God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom
the king of Assyria his master has sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the Lord your God has heard: wherefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left (37:4).
We see here that Hezekiah does not associate himself with Jehovah. It is the God of Isaiah whom he hopes will respond to the blasphemy uttered by Rabshakeh. I think that it merely reflects a common bond between the two men and that it also shows the respect that Hezekiah has for Isaiah. Hezekiah is not so foolish as to believe that the majority of his people follow the path laid out by Jehovah. Notice he asks Isaiah to pray for the “remnant.” We are a “remnant” in today’s world my friends. We who genuinely believe in Christ, in the infallibility of God’s Word, and in the fact that an Antichrist shall attempt to rule the entire earth before Christ returns, we are a remnant.
So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.
And Isaiah said to them, Thus shall you say to your master, Thus says the Lord, Be not afraid of the words that you have heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me (37:5-6).
Assurance is given by God to Hezekiah that these blasphemous words have been heard by the Lord. Assuredly, God cannot, and will not, ignore them.
Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumor, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land (37:7).
Sennecherib was not to die anywhere near Jerusalem, rather, he was to respond to rumors and turn around and return to his land. There he met an untimely death. When Rabshakeh got back to his army, he learned that his king had left Lachish and was going to war against Libnah. A rumor arrived that the main force of the Assyrian army was being attacked by the Egyptian army. Rabshakeh withdrew from around Jerusalem to assist the main force, but to “save face” he sent a letter from Sennecherib to Hezekiah saying, “I’ll be back!”
So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.
And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with you. And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying,
Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not your God, in whom you trust, deceive you, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria (37:8-10).
The same approach is employed even in parting: Do not trust in God, He will not save you from us.
Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shall you be delivered?
Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Telassar (37:11-12)?
Sennecherb repeats the words of Rabshakeh and then goes even further by boasting that no gods of any other nation had yet to deliver their people out of the hand of the Assyrians. In his mind there is no question about the outcome, he will conquer them and dominate them.
Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah (37:13)?
He states historical facts that were very difficult to answer, just as the wicked do to believers today.
And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord (37:14).
Isn’t that beautiful? Hezekiah’s response was to lay it out before God. He did this literally. Isn’t this what our response should be today, beloved? When confronted with impossible demands, incredible restrictions, and outrageous bills, shouldn’t we immediately take it directly to Christ and simply lay it out before Him? Do not try first to handle it ourselves AND THEN turn to God for answers. No, turn to God FIRST and ask boldly of Him to deliver you from this burden. And if not deliverance, then the ability to endure it safely through to its conclusion. This ought to be our very first prayer when in trouble. Next time, God willing, I shall go over Hezekiah’s prayer and point out how it is ever so applicable to us today. Until then, grace and peace be yours.
Sat, Aug 29th - 2:37PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Now Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah request Rabshakeh to speak in the Syrian language so that everyone inside the walls of Jerusalem will not be able to overhear their conversation.
Then said Eliakim and Shebna and Joah unto Rabshekah, Speak, I pray you, unto your servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and speak not to us in the Jew’s language, in the ears of the people that are on the wall (36:11).
They made this request for they were well aware of what tactic this man was attempting to employ. They wished to reduce the amount of propaganda he could give out for all enemies attempt to disseminate misinformation. Rabshekah spoke loudly to allow those up on the high wall to hear and to pass the words along to others inside. These emissaries’ request, however, simply made the Syrian commander speak even louder.
But Rabshakeh said, Has my master sent me to your master and to you to speak these words? has he not sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?
Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and said, Hear you the words of the great king, the king of Assyria.
Thus says the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you (36:12-14).
This is one of those passages that young people often point to and find outrageously funny because they think that the Bible is using foul language. What Rabshekah is meaning here is that he wants to make very sure that the men defending the wall know how bad conditions within the city are to become with this siege and subsequent battles. Water will become scarce and food supplies will dwindle. Desperate people must resort to desperate measures in order to survive. The commander of the enemy forces tries to drive a wedge between the people and their king/leader. This is a basic ploy of Satan in his various attacks upon us daily.
Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us: this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.
Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus says the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me: and eat you every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink you every one the waters of his own cistern;
Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The LORD will deliver us. Have any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria (36:15-17)?
When Satan would tempt us from trusting in God, and trust in him, he does so by insinuating that in yielding to him we may better our condition; but it is a false suggestion, and grossly absurd, and therefore to be rejected with the utmost abhorrence. When the world and the flesh say to us, "Make an agreement with us and come out to us, submit to our dominion and come into our interests, and you shall eat every one of his own vine,’’ they do but deceive us, promising liberty when they would lead us into the worst captivity and slavery. Presumptuous sinners are ready to think that, because they have been too hard for their fellow-creatures, they are therefore a match for their Creator. This and the other nation they have subdued, and therefore the Lord Himself shall not deliver Jerusalem out of their hand. Sennecherib mistakenly believes that Jerusalem is just like any other city that he has already subdued. He equates Jehovah with the gods of those other nations and cities and shows his blindness and ignorance of the truth. Rabshekah continues on with his propaganda spiel:
Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim? and have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?
Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?
But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king's commandment was, saying, Answer him not (36:18-20).
We see the continued verbal attacks upon the credibility of Jehovah. Jehovah is compared to the heathen gods and there is no discernment of what the basic differences are. Past history is arrogantly ignored, or even worse forgotten. But notice that king Hezekiah’s servants obeyed his commands and did not engage in any arguments with the enemy. Too often today we do not obey our King’s commandments to not engage in debating the enemy’s accusations. We fool ourselves into thinking that we shall outwit Satan, we believe too often that we are so smart as to be able to out talk anyone. It is at this point that we become the fools.
Then came Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, that was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh (36:21).
The emissaries arrive back inside the city in anguish over the heresy spoken by Rabshekah concerning their God. They do not know what else to do other than to repeat the words of the Assyrian commander to king Hezekiah. Are there not times in our lives when this is all that we may be able to do before our King? When sinners blaspheme Christ, are we not shocked at their utter disregard for the Creator of the universe? Are we not at those times reduced to simply telling God what these people have said to us? Do we not ask Him how it can be that they continue to do this? Sure we do. I know that I have asked God after one of these sessions why they do this. He did answer me that time.
Next time, God willing, we shall begin chapter 37 which gives us the reaction of Hezekiah to this report from his emissaries. Grace and peace be yours.
Fri, Aug 28th - 3:57PM
Delegation being applied Today - It is one thing for us to study the example of Christ Jesus, it is another thing to personally implement this concept of delegation in our own discipleship relationships with those around us. How can we accomplish this?
A. By providing our disciples with personal projects and practical work assignments which encourage Bible study, prayer, service, and personal evangelism.
B. By involving our disciples in our own responsibilities, so they can share in the realization of a task.
These two approaches will enable us to help others to become closer to reaching a position in Christ where they can reproduce themselves in others' lives. One caution must be put forth here: Do not start too fast, or give too much, or expect perfection, or try to impress. And yet, pass on to them all that you can, be realistic and honest, base all of your delegation on three words: encourage, encourage, encourage!
Let's turn our attention to one other leader who was gifted in delegation: Nehemiah. This man took command of a rather imposing task. Rebuilding the Jerusalem walls was no easy task to be done in a matter of hours, or even days. Look in Nehemiah 2-4 and as you read you'll notice specific men with specific tasks. Try to visualize this by writing it down on paper. Perhaps you may wish to draw a diagram of the wall and write in the various names of the workmen with the appropriate sections of wall. Allow this to help highlight the effectiveness of delegation.
Assuming that you are convinced of the great value of building and training others, let's think for a few minutes about these questions:
* What types of projects and personal work assignments can you give to your disciple? This applies to your children or even grandchidren as well as other believers.
* How can you better involve your disciple in your responsibilities? Are you a deacon, or elder? How can they be more involved in some of the tasks that you do?
* How can you guard against starting out too fast and overwhelming the person/s?
* In what areas could you "hold back," in so doing causing the disciple to search out his/her own answers?
* Are you expecting perfection? Write down a few of your limited objectives.
* Are you admitting your struggles and weaknesses? Write down a few that you have shared with your disciple, or that you should share with them.
* Are you feeling threatened by this process? Do you tend to hold back? Keep secrets? Be honest with your disciple/s and share your feelings with them.
* How are you practically showing encouragement to your disciple? It can not be all negative, there must be encouragement and positive feedback.
The seventeenth chapter of John is the farewell prayer of Jesus to His disciples. Mere moments later His thoughts were turned to the inevitability of the cross. Golgotha weighed upon His mind. But this prayer was uttered sometime between the Last Supper and the arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. Christ's prayer was geared towards the prolonged welfare of His disciples after He was to have left their sides. It is an inspired and perfect guide that we should want to follow when we intercede for our disciples, and other believers who are close to us.
Support of Discipleship...Intercession
The Emphasis throughout Christ's Prayer - In John 17:1-26 we find at least three things that were emphasized.
A. He prayed for Himself - eleven times He referred Himself.
B. He prayed for His eleven remaining disciples - He did this in verses 6-19.
C. He prayed for those yet to believe - This is found in verses 20-26 and ought to make us stop and consider how we are living our lives. How are we spending our time and energy? Are we actively working to save, heal, and restore those who are lost and damaged by the world? We need to be praying for those whom we have yet to meet, that God would call them to repentance. I am building into my two grandsons' lives by having us read two or three verses each morning from the Book of Proverbs. We then spend a few short minutes talking about how they might apply to our lives that very day. My desire is for them to come to understand how important it is to gain wisdom. Knowledge alone gets man nowhere fast, except potentially into trouble. To have access to a great many "facts" without any wisdom can easily lead a person to make erroneous conclusions. If Solomon asked God for wisdom and was given it, then so can we gain wisdom from God. God's knowledge is infinite, there is no limit to what He knows.
That is all for today, beloved. God willing, we shall meet once again to open His Word and gain more understanding of what He wants us to do with our lives. Grace and peace be with you.
Wed, Aug 26th - 9:28PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Sennecherib, king of Assyria, had come down from the north like a tsunami, taking everything in his path. He had captured every nation and city that stood in his path, or they had surrendered to him. And so, flush with multiple victories he appears at the walls of Jerusalem. He is puzzled by the fact that king Hezekiah tries to resist him and begins to think that there must be some secret weapon. Rab-shakeh, his representative, ridicules all known possibilities of aid to the residents of Jerusalem and arrogantly demands unconditional surrender.
Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennecherib king of Assyria came up against all the defensed cities of Judah, and took them (36:1).
We need to recall that Isaiah began his prophetic ministry when King Uzziah died, and he continued through the subsequent reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and now Hezekiah. Hezekiah was one of the five great kings of Judah. During the reign of each of these five kings revival came to the land of Judah. II Chronicles 29:1-2 tells us that he began reigning when he was 25 years old and reigned for 29 years doing that which was right in the sight of the Lord.
Although he was a very good king, he had flaws, weaknesses. In trying to stave off the invasion of Jerusalem he bribed Sennecherib (II Kings 18:13-16). To make the bribe Hezekiah stripped all of the gold and silver from the Temple. It angered God, and Sennecherib still invaded the city. This type of policy is weak and does not work. It did not work then and it does not work today. Since World War II America has followed a very weak policy. We have attempted to purchase friendship throughout the world through the almighty dollar. Foreign aid, domestic aid, military aid. It is all the same thing. Do we have lots of friends out there? No, we do not. They take our money and proceed to do what they want to do anyway. I say bring it all back home and use it to solve our domestic problems, like paying down the national debt. Friends are not those whom you must buy. We still haven't learned who our real Friend is. He is the One to whom Hezekiah finally had to turn to, the Lord God.
And the king of Assyria sent Rab-shakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field (36:2).
Sennecherib did not come personally to seize Jerusalem, but sent his rep with a great army to secure it. They are camped outside of the city's gates. Hezekiah sent out a delegation to meet with the man.
Then came forth unto him Eliakim, Hilkiah's son, which was over the house, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, Asaph's son, the recorder (36:3).
Hezekiah tried to trump the importance and power of Rab-shakeh by sending out three of his top aides to parlay. All that they managed was to receive the terms offered by Sennecherib.
And Rab-shakeh said unto them, Say you now to Hezekiah, Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein you trust?(36:4).
Surprise is shown by the Assyrians. They are wanting to know by what means those in Jerusalem feel they are going to win in this battle. He is to suggest a few things here:
I say, sayest you, (but they are but vain words) I have counsel and strength for war: now on whom do you trust, that you rebell against me?
Lo, you trust in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all tha trust in him (36:5-6)
At that very moment in time the Assyrian army was also in motion to capture Egypt. It had been wasted money by Ahaz years before to try and forge an alliance with Pharaoh. The Assyrians were upset that Jerusalem remained in their path to Egypt. No help was to come from Egypt.
But if you say to me, We trust in the Lord our God: is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, You shall worship before this altar? (36:7)
Here Rab-shakeh shows his lack of spiritual discernment. He mistakenly thought that the heathen altars and worship sites was the same as the worship of the Living God in Jerusalem. He thought that Hezekiah had destroyed the worship of the people and thus they had no gods to turn to.
Today there are a great many people without spiritual discernment. These are people who come out and say that all churches are the same, all denominations are the same and all are going to the same place. They simply cannot see the difference. They believe that as long as you are sincere it matters not one wit what you believe. John 14:6 begs to differ with that train of thought. At any rate, here is the third suggestion by Rab-shakeh:
Now therefore give pledges, I pray you, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if you be able on your part to set riders upon them.
How then will you turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master's servants, and put your trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? (36:8-9)
What arrogance! He offers to make the battle a bit more fair by offering Hezekiah two thousand horses! He knows that the offer will never be accepted, it is to ridicule his opponent. Now comes a fourth suggestion:
And am I now come up without the Lord against this land to destroy it? the Lord said unto me, Go up against this land, and destroy it (36:10).
He suggests that God is on their side. In World War I the Germans thought that God was with their cause, and we thought God was on our side. More than likely God was not on either side. In this case, God used the Assyrian to pass judgment upon His people, but He would not allow the enemy to take Jerusalem.
Next time I shall show Eliakim's response and what Rab-shakeh's reaction was. Until then, pray without ceasing for those who are lost, who are destitute, who use you miserably, and who are without any advocate before the courts. God willing, we all shall meet here again, to open and study God's Word.
Mon, Aug 24th - 12:22PM
Let's continue on in our study of discipleship. Here is a second point about the concept of delegation being illustrated and defined.
B. In the New Testament...Jesus - We can find Jesus' example in Matthew 9:35-38, 10:1,5,8. We must keep in mind that He certainly could have done all the work involved in preaching the Gospel by Himself, for indeed He had the ability to do so, but that would not have provided for the training of others to carry on when He left this earth following His resurrection. Matthew informs us, through the Holy Spirit's leading, that Christ Jesus had been moving in and out of different cities and towns, teaching in synagogues and healing every kind of disease and sickness. The disciples had been observing Him but that sure was soon to change. To those as yet uninvolved, He said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few"(9:37). They were challenged with the needs of the throngs of people who were "distressed and downcast like a sheep without a shepard"(9:36). At the end of Matthew 9 the disciples were upon their knees; at the beginning of chapter 10 they were up on their feet and involved. Christ gave them authority over unclean spirits to cast them out and to heal every kind of disease and illness. Matthew 10:5-6 tells us that after naming the disciples Christ first instructed them, then sent them out "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Mark, in his Gospel account, tells us that Christ appointed the disciples first that they might be with Him, and then that He might send them out to preach. There is the picture, the process, that we need to recognize: gather together men/women to be instructed, then send them out in service where they can share the work to be done among the needy of this world. What do I mean by "delegation?" It is an act of committing and entrusting to someone else things we know and want them to learn...it is the art of assigning something to them so that they might learn the techniques of carrying it out.
Christ's delegation analyzed and developed
A. Why was it important for Christ to delegate? I would say that there are at least three reasons.
1. He was leaving, and His work had to continue. (John 14:25-26)
2. The disciples were staying and they needed to be equipped. (John 17:6-8)
3. Persecution was coming, and they had to be prepared. (John 16:1-4, 32-33)
It is important to note that God's ministry was realism. He prepared them for what they would soon face, painful as it might be.
B. What were the difficulties? Once more, there are at least three of them.
1. Knowing when to start. (Matthew 9:35-38) It is important to note that Christ did not immediately begin delegating to the disciples, He waited until He began His third period of ministry in Galilee.
2. Being willing to let the disciples go. (Matthew 10:14, 16-19) Is this not something so hard for us to do today? Once our disciples have been instructed and allowed to do for themselves in these matters, we must allow them to go on their own. It is akin to the mother bird letting her fledglings to finally fly away from her nest, allowing them to go out and begin the process all over again elsewhere.
3. Leaving room for mistakes and failure (Matthew 17:14-16, 18-20). We have to let our students to make mistakes and experience some failure for this is how they will ultimately learn what not to do and how not to do things. We must provide patient instruction and support, we must unconditionally love them even while they make mistakes.
C. Where did all of this lead? A band of 12 men turned the world upside down, men in whom the Spirit of God worked, with the result being that the world of their day heard the Gospel and was evangelized.
That is all for today my friends. Next time, God willing, I shall go on with how we can apply delegation today. Until then, grace and peace be yours.
Sun, Aug 23rd - 9:48PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert (35:5-6).
Sickness, disease, and all afflictions are the result of sin in our universe. These are to be lifted from off of us in the kingdom. Today the "wilderness" is the world all around us wherever unbelievers live. It can be New York City, or Paris, or London.
And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there (35:7-9).
What a beautiful picture is given to us of the earth during the kingdom age. Notice that there is going to be a roadway for travel and that it has a special name. Anyone who has not accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior shall not be found upon it. It is for the lost, so it seems with the wording, but only if they have been born again. As verse 9 says, there shall not be any threatening beasts to be found upon that route, and the redeemed of the earth shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away (35:10).
Most scholars see the spirit of earth, or the spiritual renewal of redeemed men, being shown here. I would think that it also points to the physical renewal of redeemed glorified bodies for the "sleeping" saints of the past and those alive at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. There will no longer be any sorrow or sighing at the thought of loved ones who passed on into eternity without finding Christ in their hearts. What is done is done. God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes, and He shall cleanse our minds of remembrance of those whom we prayed for with all of our might and yet they refused to repent of their sins. If we believe that God removes all remembrance of our sins from Himself upon our redemption, then we must believe that He shall be able to remove all sorrowful memories from us upon the Final Judgment before His Great White Throne.
Can there be anything nicer than this? This scriptural picture includes Israel and all of the redeemed souls from all around our earth. Gentiles and Jews shall share in this kingdom, just as Christ promised. Today I listened to a pastor who pointed out that it will not be just us seeking to ask questions of the Old Testament prophets and godly kings, but that King David and Moses will be wanting to know how it feels to have the "ark of the covenant" living within us rather than having it separated from mankind in the Tabernacle or even in the Temple. See, they are going to want to ask us questions too.
Well, that completes this short chapter in Isaiah and it ends what many consider the first major division of this prophetical book. I am going to give you some information that may, or may not, be of interest to you. This upcoming section is unlike that which came before it. We will leave the high plateau of prophecy and drop down to the record of history. Even the form of language changes from that of poetry to prose. We saw through the first 35 chapters how God will govern and the method by which He judges. But now we are going to be looking at a historical interlude of four chapters. Why are these four chapters placed here? There are several significant factors which are worthy of mention.
1. Sacred and secular history are not the same. It has been said that divine history is never merely history, never simply a true account of past events. This means that therre are great spiritual truths contained within sacred history that are seen only by the eye of faith. The lost person cannot perceive these truths for their eyes are "blinded." The Holy Spirit must teach us the divine purpose in recording spiritual history. Here are several suggested reasons for this:
a. These incidents might seem trite/trivial to the average historian who records great world movements, but events that concerned God's people were important according to the standards of heaven.
b. These chapters note the transfer of power from Assyria to Babylon. Babylon was the first great world empire and was the real menace to God's people. Babylon was to begin the period designated by our Lord as "...the times of the Gentiles..."(Luke 21:24).
c. This section is a record of a son of David who was beset by enemies and who went down to the verge of death, but was delivered and continued to reign. In this he foreshadows the great Son of David who was also beset by enemies, was delivered to death, but was raised from the dead, and who is coming again to reign. Hezekiah was only a man who walked in the ways of David, another weak man. Hezekiah lived to play the fool. Our Lord was greater than David, and as the crucified and risen Son of God, He is made unto us "...wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30).
2. The second significant factor in this historic section is that these particular events are recorded three times in Scripture: II Kings 18-19, II Chronicles 29-30, and here in Isaiah. This fact that the Holy Spirit saw fit to record them three times is in itself a matter of great importance. Some scholars think that Isaiah is the author of all three, or at least also of the one in the Book of Kings. I would think that the Holy Spirit has some special truth for us here which should cause us to slow down and study these events in order to attempt to discover that truth.
3. Three significant and stupendous miracles are recorded in this section:
a. The death angel slays 185,000 Assyrians.
b. The sun retreats ten degrees on the sundial of Ahaz.
c. God heals Hezekiah and extends his life fifteen years.
4. This section poens with Assyria and closes with Babylon. There are two important letters which Hezekiah received:
a. The first was from Assyria, which the king took directly to God in prayer. God answered his prayer and delivered His people.
b. The second letter was from the king of Babylon, which flattered Hezekiah and which he did not take to God in prayer. As a result, this led to the undoing of Judah.
This short chapter also tells about the invasion of Sennecherib, king of Assyria. Chapter 37 will tell about Hezekiah's prayer and the subsequent destruction of the Assyrian army. Chapter 38 will tell us of Hezekiah's sickness, prayer, and healing. Chapter 39 will tell us about Hezekiah playing the fool.
God willing, beloved, we shall meet here again and open up His Word. May you be richly blessed by His providence, and that all of your prayers may be answered in good time.
Sat, Aug 22nd - 5:49PM
Book of Isaiah Study
The calm of chapter 35 is in contrast to the storms of judgments of the previous chapter and even those prior to it. Now we read of restoration.
The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose (35:1).
First we see that the physical earth will be restored and the curse of sin lifted. By and large we are seeing today that the desert areas of our world are increasing in area and are not being reduced by the efforts of mankind. Drought and soil erosion are hastening this process. Changing climatic trends with the route of the jet streams enhances this process. Pollution is filling the earth even as the best efforts of men attempt to reverse this process. All of this will be reversed for the Millennium. The smog will disappear, poisonous waters will disappear, and the curse of sin will be removed. This verse speaks of the coming transformation of the entire earth in the future.
It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God (35:2).
Paul tells us that creation is groaning and travailing in pain; For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:22-23). You see, sin has infected our entire universe. It does not affect just mankind but infects everything around us. The physical universe yearns for the appointed time of Christ’s second Advent into our world. And we must never forget the fact that we groan within ourselves at the endless battling with sin in our flesh. We look forward in hope to that future moment when our adoption into God’s family is finalized and we receive the redemption of these bodies of ours. At that moment in time we shall become totally free from sin.
Strengthen you the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; He will come and save you (35:3-4).
We are to be the ones to encourage those around us who become fearful. We are the ones to stand up and be strong in times of trouble. We are to spread the message that God will come and save. In the midst of the storm of judgment, God’s people can rejoice because we know that God will come and save us. “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I AM WITH YOU ALWAY, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20) Christ is ever present in our lives, and shall be through the end of this present world. We must take this verse and hide it in our hearts and never forget its truth. Will we be taken out of this world prior to the tribulation time? I do not know for the Bible does not teach that doctrine but does say that the Antichrist will kill many saints during the tribulation period. To be able to kill saints means that they are here, not in heaven.
God willing, we shall meet again tomorrow and continue this study in Isaiah. Grace and peace be yours this day.
Thu, Aug 20th - 7:01PM
Book of Isaiah Study
And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls.
The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.
There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate.
Seek you out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for My mouth it has commanded, and His spirit it hath gathered them.
And He has cast the lot for them, and His hand has divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein (34:13-17).
Here we see the end results of the devastation of nations that stand against Jehovah. Their great cities shall end up only being good for birds and other animals to live in. The picture painted for us is one of loneliness, melancholy, and desolation.
Seek you out of the book of the Lord and read. When this destruction comes we need to compare the event with the prediction, and we will find it to answer exactly. The book of the prophets is the book of the Lord, and we ought to consult it and converse with it as of divine origin and authority. We must not only read it, but see out of it, search into it, turn first to one text and then to another and compare them together. Abundance of useful knowledge will then be extracted, by a diligent search, out of the scriptures, which cannot be got by a superficial reading of them. When we have read the prediction out of the book of the Lord then observe that according to what we have read so we see; not one of these shall fail, either beast or fowl: and, it being foretold that they shall possess it from generation to generation, in order that the species may be propagated, none shall want her mate; these marks of desolation shall be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the land. What God’s word has appointed His Spirit will effect and bring about, for no word of God shall fall to the ground. The word of God’s promise shall in like manner be accomplished by the operations of the Spirit.
This concludes chapter 34 of Isaiah. Let’s look at some of what we shall soon be reading about in chapter 35. The next chapter’s theme is that of a picture of the kingdom and the blessings of the coming Millennium. We ought to be thankful to God that Armageddon is not the end of things. Some people teach that that is the ultimate end of time and mankind but it is not what is taught in Scripture.
We find in the next chapter that the fires of judgment have now burned out, and the sword of justice is sheathed. The evening of earth-trouble is ended, and the morning of millennial delights has come. This chapter will close on a high plane of peace, having gone through suffering to peace, through the night to the dawn of a new day, through judgment to salvation, through tears to joy in that new morning.
God willing, I shall meet with you here once more to continue on our journey through God’s Word. Grace and peace be yours.
Wed, Aug 19th - 8:31PM
Book of Isaiah Study
For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion (34:8).
When the Sword of the Lord comes down upon the world it will be the day of the Lord’s vengeance against sin. This will be come across again later on in Isaiah. We can’t do anything to stop it; there is nothing to be done to avoid it. God has said that things have to be set right upon this earth and throughout all creation. To make them right God must put down the evil and rebellious men upon this earth. Many, many people will refuse to bow down to God, but where will they go? There is only one place for them, the lake of fire. You and I may have our personal concept of it, but it is a whole lot worse than a place of literal fire and brimstone. God’s Word is inviolable and Christ said, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled (Matthew 5:18).” Everything in the Bible must be fulfilled. The coming storm must be prepared for, by accepting Christ at His Word and becoming born again.
And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch.
It shall not be quenched night or day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lay waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.
But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and He shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.
They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing (34:9-12).
Places that have flourished and been much frequented strangely go to decay. We do not know where to find the places where many great towns, celebrated in history, once stood. Fruitful countries, in process of time, are turned into barrenness, and pompous populous cities into ruinous heaps. Old decayed castles look frightful, and their ruins are almost as much dreaded as ever their garrisons were. These verses describe the destroying judgments which are the effects of God’s wrath and the just punishment of those that are enemies to His people, which God will inflict when the year of the redeemed has come, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion. Those that aim to ruin the church can never do that, but will infallibly ruin themselves. These verses describe the final desolation of this wicked world, reserved unto fire at the Day of Judgment, 2 Peter 3:7. The earth itself, when it, and all the works that are therein, shall be burnt up, will (for all I know) be turned into a hell to all those that set their affections on earthly things. However, this prophecy shows us what will be the lot of the generation of God’s curse: The country shall become like the lake of Sodom. The streams thereof, that both watered the land and pleased and refreshed the inhabitants, shall now be turned into pitch, shall be congealed, shall look black, and shall move slowly, or not at all. We see the depiction of a place where all of the unbelievers shall spend eternity in endless torment and agony, with gnashing of teeth. Contrary to what many believe, that God would never condemn anyone to an eternity of torment, God’s Word clearly teaches that all who fail to accept His Son as their personal Savior shall be sent to the lake of fire at the final judgment before the Great White Throne. It is conjecture about whether or not this entire earth will become a “living hell” for all of the wicked people once it is burnt up in judgment. Suffice it to say, the lake of fire is a very real place that will be capable of holding a lot of people who will very much be in constant torment forever and ever.
The dust thereof shall be turned into brimstone; so combustible has sin made their land that it shall take fire at the first spark of God’s wrath struck upon it; and, when it has taken fire, it shall become burning pitch; the fire shall be universal, not a house, or town, on fire, but a whole country; and it shall not be in the power of any to suppress or extinguish it. It shall burn continually, burn perpetually, and shall not be quenched night or day. The torment of those in hell is without interruption; the smoke of this fire goes up for ever. As long as there are provoking sinners on earth, from an increase of sinful men, one generation to another, to augment the fierce anger of the Lord (Numbers 32:14), there will be a righteous God in heaven to punish them for it. And as long as a people keep up a succession of sinners God will have a succession of plagues for them; nor will any that fall under the wrath of God be ever able to recover themselves. It will be found, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. If the land be doomed to destruction, none shall pass through it, but travelers will choose rather to go a great way about than come within the smell of it. This has an immediate, or local, fulfillment as well as a distant, future complete fulfillment.
That is all for this study today my friends. God willing, we shall meet here again to open up God’s Word and continue our study of Isaiah. Next time shall see a completion of chapter 34 where we shall see how the land will be relegated to the animals.
Wed, Aug 19th - 3:33PM
In this study of discipleship we have seen some of the techniques and principles involved in working with others as we help them grow toward spiritual maturity. One very significant fact has repeatedly come to our attention: We cannot remain aloof from those we want to disciple. Jesus did not remain distant, nor can we. Of necessity we must be involved in disciples' lives; including delegating certain things of the Christian life to them, so that as time goes by they pick up more and more of the load and eventually they too, become disciples of Christ, capable of reproducing their lives into someone else. So now let's see what is meant by delegation, why it is essential, and how it can be implemented, from a practical point of view, in the context of this present time.
Concept of Delegation illustrated and defined.
The Word of God has preserved for us two examples of delegation which are worth considering. One appears in the Old Testament, the other in the New Testament:
A. Exodus 18:1-26 - Initially Moses was a great leader, but a poor discipler. He was faithful to the task, a hard worker, capable, and gifted. But he was weak when it came to sharing the load with others. When his father-in-law, Jethro, came from Midian to visit, he observed Moses trying to solve the Israelites' problems by himself. Moses was doing a good thing, but he wasn't doing it the right way. Jethro counseled him to delegate the essential details of his work to others who were capable people who could complement him. Therefore Moses could give his attention to the major matters that came before him. Carefully reading and studying the text, we can quickly draw two conclusions about the benefits of delegation: First, it can spare one from having a nervous breakdown! Second, it provides for the training of others who can step in when the leader is gone. Many a Christian pastor has built a work around himself, and when he is scheduled to be away the ministry scrambles to find a stand-in. This ought not to happen in a healthy congregation for there should be capable people to stand up and fill in for the pastor, whether it be elders or deacons. Moses learned that delegation was the link of power, the most successful way to develop others, and the finest possible way to encourage those who lived and worked under his authority.
That is all for today my friends. Next time we meet, God willing, we shall continue along this train of thought. Grace and peace be yours.
Mon, Aug 17th - 5:32PM
Book of Isaiah Study
This chapter 34 seemingly looks entirely to the future. It is as if we are transported into the middle of the last things, or as if Isaiah broke away from his own time and that the “end of all things” became more and more his home. We see here part of the revelation of the mystery of the incarnation of God, for which all this was preparing the way.
Come near, you nations, to hear; and hearken, you people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it (34:1).
Recall how in chapter 1:2 God called heaven and earth to witness His judgment upon His people Israel. In this chapter God calls only upon the nations of the earth and that which comes out of the earth to hear His judgment.
For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and His fury upon all their armies: He has utterly destroyed them, he has delivered them to the slaughter (34:2).
Look closely at the words chosen to describe this judgment: indignation, fury, utterly destroyed, slaughter. Strong words to be sure. The judgment is universal, and it is severe. This is not only the “…time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), but it is the appointed time of the earth’s travail. Christ spoke of this time as being one of suffering that will be unparalleled in the entire history of the world. The seals, trumpets, and vials in the Book of Revelation all reinforce this concept of final judgment. Whether you and I believe it or not, the world is moving inexonerably toward the judgment of God. As we take a moment to look around us at our society, everything we see is going to come under the judgment of our Almighty God, Jehovah.
Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcasses, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood (34:3).
Isn’t this description horrible and repulsive? It depicts what will result from mass slaughter of billions of people. Christ Jesus spoke of this time when He was here in the flesh.
Anyone who cannot picture what this will be like should find a website that contains photos of the landscape after hurricane Katrina made landfall in America. Desolate, beaten down, nothing remaining with which to live upon. The stench of the corpses of people and animals was nauseating. Even now, there are entire stretches of coastline that still bear the marks of the storm’s fury. A hurricane is a small thing compared to what God is going to do in His final judgment.
And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their hosts shall fall down, as the leaf falls off from the vine and as a falling fig from the fig tree (34:4).
All in heaven and earth shall be dissolved and replaced with a brand new heaven and earth, free from sin. The only sane choice remaining is to seek proper shelter from this coming storm of judgment: find shelter in Christ. He is the only way to make it to the Father. Christ is the shelter in the time of storm which is coming upon the earth.
For My sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of My curse, to judgment (34:5).
When we take down a sword it is for vengeance or some ulterior motive. When God takes down His sword, it is for justice and righteousness upon the earth. It is to put an end to sin and its ill effects upon the entire earth and universe.
Idumea is Edom, and Edom is Esau, and Esau represents the flesh. Esau represents all in Adam who are rebellious against God and His people. God did say, “…Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:13). God will judge those who are against Him, His Word, His people, and everything that is right and good.
The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea.
And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness (34:6-7).
The sword of the Lord, when it comes down with judgment, does vast execution; it is filled, satiated, surfeited, with blood, the blood of the slain, and made fat with their fatness. When the day of God’s abused mercy and patience is over the sword of His justice gives no quarter, spares none. Men have by sin lost the honor of the human nature and made themselves like the beasts that perish; they are therefore justly denied the compassion and respect that are owing to the human nature and killed as beasts, and no more is made of slaying an army of men than of butchering a flock of lambs or goats and feeding on the fat of the kidneys of rams. No, the sword of the Lord shall not only dispatch the lambs and goats, the infantry of their armies, the poor common soldiers, but (verse 7) the unicorns too shall be made to come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls, though they are ever so proud, and strong, and fierce ( the great men, and the mighty men, and the chief captains Revelation 6:15), the sword of the Lord will make as easy a prey of as of the lambs and the goats.The greatest of men are nothing before the wrath of the great God. See what bloody work will be made: The land shall be soaked with blood, as with the rain that comes often and in great abundance; and their dust, their dry and barren land, shall be made fat with the fatness of men slain in their full strength, as with manure. No even the mountains, which are hard and rocky, shall be melted with their blood, verse 3. These expressions are hyperbolical (as Apostle John’s vision of blood to the horse-bridles, Revelation 14:20), and are made use of because they sound very dreadful to our senses (it makes us even shiver to think of such abundance of human gore), and are therefore proper to express the terror of God’s wrath, which is dreadful beyond conception and expression. We know what work sin and wrath make even in this world, and think how much more terrible the wrath to come is, which will bring down the unicorns themselves to the bars of the pit. How can the human mind wrap itself around concepts that are beyond our capacity to imagine? To be able to imagine the extent of God’s wrath makes Him not God for we would be equal in imagination with Him. God is beyond us, above us, and yet ever before us.
In our study we must continually be mindful of the fact that God is not affected by what happens within His creation. Things that happen here in our world do not make Him less, or more, than what He is. The light that existed between distant stars and our receptive eyes was placed there by God at the moment of their creation. There was no having to wait millions of years for their light to reach the earth.
Next time I will cover the remaining verses of this chapter of Isaiah and try to discern the intention of the Lord. God willing, we shall meet here once more and open up the Word of God. Grace and peace be yours.
Fri, Aug 14th - 3:10PM
Book of Isaiah
We have come to a fourth division, where there is praise to God for final deliverance.
Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: your eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.
But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby (33:20-21).
Babylon could boast of the Euphrates River, Assyria could boast of the Tigris and upper Zab, and Egypt could boast of
the Nile River, but Jerusalem was, and still is, a landlocked city with neither river nor harbor. But Zechariah gives an amazing prophecy which leads us to believe that God will provide a harbor for Israel during the Millennium (Zechariah 14:4-8). The earthquake described therein is to open up a valley to the Mediterranean Sea which will fill the valley up with sea water all the way to Jerusalem itself.
This literal fulfillment of prophecy also has a spiritual application. Verse 21 tells us that Christ Jesus will be our sole source of refreshment, we will have no need to seek elsewhere to find fulfillment. God will supply all of our needs and will be our defense.
For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; He will save us.
Your tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail: then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey (33:22-23).
We find that God is over all, He is the One who sustains everything within the realm of our senses as well as all that is beyond our ability to sense at all. God saves us through grace and faith. Facts are stated within these verses, facts we need to never forget. If we choose to ignore the facts and break God's laws, we then must face God our judge. God our king has given power to the lawgiver to rule over us and thus the judge may issue sentence. Verse 24 speaks of those who control ships being unable to do so at this time. They struggle to regain control over their various vessels but cannot. The result becomes one of the disadvantaged gaining complete control over them. That is something to look forward to, eh? Amen!
And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity (33:24).
Here is a glorious prospect which is held out for Jerusalem. Faith looks beyond the immediate hard times to the glorious promise of the future. This speaks of the day when the King of kings will be residing in Jerusalem. The Prince of peace will then bring true peace to the entire earth.
That completes the 33rd chapter of the book of Isaiah. Now we move on into chapter 34 which has a theme about the final world clash---the Battle of Armageddon. We are now entering a new section of scripture. Judgment has been the theme in which we have seen six woes. We witnessed how Isaiah spoke of local situations and then moved into the broader area as he looked down through the centuries to the time of final judgment when Christ will step foot upon our earth again.
The Jews were looking for a king to come and restore their temporal kingdom and remove the yoke of the Romans from their necks. Today, we are looking for our Savior to come and remove the yoke of sin from our bodies. Christ is our blessed hope (Titus 2:13).
The chapter that we are about to begin is in contradiction to the philosophy of the world at large. Man expects to so improve this world by his own efforts that he will build a Utopia. Listen to what the scientists say about global warming. Their arrogance is that man is able to alter the climate of this world and ultimately to fix said climate. Man thinks that he is able to "lift himself up by his own bootstraps." The basic premise of evolutionary theory is that there is improvement as we go along in time. Their premise is that is is onward and upward forever without end. Man has woven this philosophy into the very fabric of his life; he thinks we are moving into something which is great and good; he thinks that he has become "enlightened."
The Word of God also looks forward to a wonderful future for this earth, but it is not the consummation of man's efforts. Everything built by man that is not dedicated to God will be coming under frightful judgment. All of man's efforts are in direct conflict with God and that conflict is set before us here in this chapter. The sin of man will finally be headed up in the Man of Sin, who will try to bring in a kingdom for himself.
That is all for today my friends. God willing, I shall finish this introduction to chapter 34 the next time that we meet here and begin covering the first few verses. May Christ bless you above and beyond your wildest imagination.
Fri, Aug 14th - 1:02PM
Instruction of Affection - Let's look at John 13:31-35. Typical of His style, Christ did not leave His disciples with truth separated from practice. He said, "...You love one another, even as I have loved you..." and thus by word and example He had given clear instruction: Love the inner group in humility, the potential inner group with acceptance, and the outside group with tolerance. Did He not summarize that segment of His thinking with: "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another?" And is that not where the process begins---first with those surrounding us, next to us? What about us today, eh? The question is, "How's your love life ?" Have you had individuals in your thoughts who have been difficult to deal with, who may even be despicable? Do you know that as long as you treat them as they've treated you, they have absolutely no way of knowing that you belong to Christ? Without love, you and I are without our badge of identification associating us with Christ. It is just that simple.
Are you wearing the badge of discipleship? Is affection a part of your life? Let's review three points as we end this part of the study today.
* We show affection toward the insider by humility. How does pride surface in your life? Consider just one act of humility that you can use to demonstrate love to someone this week.
* We show affection toward the potential insider by acceptance. Think about how exclusivism can work its way into a group of believers. Think about how you can demonstrate acceptance to a potential insider this week.
* We show affection toward the outsider by tolerance. Do you feel you are tolerant of unbelievers? Why or why not? How does this coincide with your attitude toward sin? Is there some imbalance evident in this relationship? Weren't you an unbeliever once upon a time? I always remember this: "But by Christ, so go I," when I witness what others are doing that is woefully wrong.
Now, I am not rubberstamping sin. Far from it. I am pointing out that Christ wants us to love the sinner and hate the sin for that is what He does. With this firmly in mind I then turn my attention to our federal governmental leaders and I can criticize their actions, but I cannot call into question their intelligence, their pedigree, or their relationship with their mothers. Name-calling is out of the question. Profanity is out of the question. Love the person, hate the sinful actions that they commit. Just as it should be with us. Others ought to love us but hate the sins that we commit. We cannot approach each other and reach any agreement if we do not set aside the actions and look at each other as we really are. So, I pray for my President and Congressional leaders, along with state and local officials, asking God to open their eyes and give them wisdom as they search for solutions to our current problems. I give them the respect due them. And I watch carefully to see what the results become. I attempt dialogue with those who disagree with my viewpoints, taking care not to rise to the rhetoric that they fling into the dialogue, so that they can come to better understand my position and I theirs. It is not always a success. But I continue to try to reach out to others who think very differently from me.
Well, that is all for today my friends. God willing, I will continue this study, and the Book of Isaiah study, this weekend. If not, then we shall pick this up on Monday right where we have left off!
Thu, Aug 13th - 12:46PM
Demonstration of affection - We can review the situation in which Jesus humbly expressed affection to His disciples in John 13:4-30. In that time period there were no paved streets or sidewalks. During dry seasons dust became layered upon the streets and alleyways of Jerusalem. When a guest arrived at a home, he would be met by a servant, armed with a towel and water pitcher, who would remove his sandals and wash his feet. If there was no servant, someone in the group would voluntarily assume that role. Importantly, none of the disciples offered to wash feet when they met with Christ that particular evening. No one was willing to humble themselves. So Christ rose from the supper table, put off His garments, took up a towel and basin of water, and washed the feet of His disciples.
A. Toward the "insider"...Humility - In verses 4-17 John informs us, the reader, that: "And so when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and reclined at table again, He said to them, 'Do you know what I have done to you?" The prevailing principle of this entire passage of scripture is humility. Always the discipler ought to be willing to say, "Please, you go first...let me help you." Christ went on to say to all of them: "...A slave is not greater than his master; neither one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them." Happy people are not the proud, the takers. Instead, the happy people are the givers who invest their time and lives in other people. Pride stands in oppostion to that.
B. Toward the "potential insider"...Acceptance - While instructing His disciples, Christ Jesus said, "...He who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me." Who sent Christ other than God the Father? To receive Christ was to receive the Father. To receive any in the name of Christ is to receive Christ Himself. He also spoke of those who were yet to believe on Him---potential insiders. If pride is the enemy of humility, then exclusivism is the enemy of acceptance. As much as it is wrong, Christians tend to be exclusive, only welcoming those who are fellow believers, or only associating with those believers who like themselves. Too frequently we find it awkward, uncomfortable, to spend time with those who are not exactly like us. Christ wanted His men to be different, to make room for those who were different from themselves, for it was crucial for the survival of the soon-coming church. In the Book of Luke we find recorded an occasion when such exclusion reared its ugly head in the disciples' attitudes. John had told Christ, "...We saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to hinder him because he does not follow along with us (Luke 9:49)." What a statement of a clique member! What was the response of Christ? "Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you (Luke 9:50)." Our lesson for today? Those who are not against us, as Christians, are for us so do not strive against them. Rather, we should welcome and accept them into our group.
C. Toward the "outsider"...Tolerance - This is probably the most difficult of the three directions. This is affection demonstrated towards the Judas Iscariot's of the world. Instead of isolating ourselves from these people we ought to be reaching out in love to them. Instead of rebuking them or remaining silent, we speak in love. Within the structure of the Passover meal there came a time when Christ took a morsel, and after dipping it in a specially prepared dip, He offered it to Judas. This action normally was given as a statement of honor to one person at the table. Here Christ demonstrated an act of tolerance. It was His gracious way of saying, "Judas, there's still time...you can change your heart." The enemy of tolerance is prejudice. It is expressed with such words as, "I know that he or she is never going to change. I will treat them accordingly." Universal terms often are employed. Labels become commonplace. The fact of the matter is, we do not know who will change, and who will not. Only God knows these things.
As Christ gave even Judas Iscariot the opportunity to change his heart, so too, we ought to be doing this each and every day with those around us. Beloved, do not surrender to prejudice and exclude people from coming to your worship services or to your bible studies. We should be opening up our doors to welcome any who are seeking for answers. Are we not commanded to love our enemies? Does this not mean that at some point in time it is conceivable that they shall knock on our door, looking for answers to spiritual questions? I have often asked God to forgive various individuals because "they know not what they do." I have always figured if Christ could find it within Himself to forgive those who insisted on His crucifixion, then so could I with those who spitefully do things to trip me up, or to put me in a "bad light" so that they can obtain my job.
That is all for today. God willing, next time I shall be posting using my home PC, that it will have been successfully repaired! At that time we shall find some instruction of affection from within John Until then, may Christ richly bless you and your family.
Mon, Aug 10th - 1:03PM
In John 14:6 can be found a jumping off point for an outline that reminds us of the teachings found throughout Scripture.
If you would create three charts with two broad columns and put this across the top of the first chart: THE WAY: DIRECTION....GOD'S WILL and put this across the top of the second chart: THE TRUTH: DECLARATION...TEACHING and put this across the top of the third chart: THE LIFE: DEMONSTRATION...EXAMPLE. Now, underneath the headings of each chart write REFERENCES and REFLECTIONS beginning from left column to right column. Now sit down and use your knowledge of Scripture and a concordance, see if you can list verses that speak to each of the three subject headings. If you are stuck and cannot seem to get started, begin in the Book of John.
Demonstration is the imparting of life. All disciplers need to know the value of his/her life's example. What is your life saying to those all around you? Can you list twenty qualities demonstrated by your life? I know, that is alot. But try. The first handful will be easy, those thereafter will become harder and harder requiring some deep soul searching.
Now for even harder inspection of your life. Can you write down ten qualities that are absent from your life, but are ones that you truly wish were a part of your example? Perhaps you should circle one or two of them and decide to begin working on making them a part of your life?
Badge of Discipleship...Affection
If we remove affection from discipleship we have then removed the single most significant part of the entire process. We can't disciple someone we do not love. Christ Jesus loved "to the uttermost" those men into whom He poured His life (John 13:1). Read John 13:1-35 and we notice how His affection was communicated and how it affected the men. He talked about it and He demonstrated it in unforgettable ways. We shall see that His love was directed toward three specific kinds of individuals, and so should our love be directed:
Introduction to Affection - In John 13:1-3 we find Christ with the disciples during the final evening before His arrest and crucifixion. It was a significant evening because of what He said and did; it was also sad because of what lay ahead for Him to endure. John was with Him that night, we count upon him to inform us of things the other Gospel writers might not have noticed. The season was Passover, the most important of all Jewish festivals. Christ and His disciples were sharing the Passover meal. Two things appeared to be uppermost in Christ's mind: that His hour had come and His betrayer had confirmed his plans---neither was known by the disciples. John, when he looked back upon this event years later to write about it, remembered the love the Lord had for His men. It was this love that Jesus wanted to become a part of their lives...so He capitalized upon the moment since time was in short supply.
That is all for today my friends. God willing, I will continue this the day after next. Grace and peace be yours.
Sun, Aug 9th - 3:34PM
Book of Isaiah Study
He that walks righteously, and speaks uprightly; he that despises the gain of oppressions, that shakes his hands from holding of bribes, that stops his ears from hearing of blood, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil.
He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure (33:15-16).
He who has been declared righteous by his faith in Christ is called to walk in righteousness. These verses speak of the actions of a righteous person. This person shall not accept personal gain from the oppression of others. This person shall not take bribes from others. If anyone within their hearing speaks about shedding another’s blood then they will not remain to listen or to be considered as being tolerant of such actions. They will not tolerate looking at that which is evil. This does not mean that righteous individuals turn a blind eye to wrong doing, they do not participate and they do not turn a deaf ear or blind eye to such things. They ought to report it to the proper authorities. Those that would preserve the purity of their souls must keep a strict guard upon the senses of their bodies, must stop their ears to temptations, and turn away their eyes from beholding vanity. The righteous shall be safe; he shall escape the devouring fire and the everlasting burnings; he shall have access to, and communion with, that God who is a devouring fire, but shall be to him a rejoicing light. And, as to present troubles, he shall dwell on high, out of the reach of them, out of the hearing of the noise of them; he shall not be really harmed by them, he shall not be greatly frightened at them: The floods of great waters shall not come nigh him; or, if they should attack him, his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks, strong and impregnable, fortified by nature as well as art. The divine power will keep him safe, and his faith in that power will keep him easy. God, the rock of ages, will be his high tower. He shall be supplied; he shall want nothing that is necessary for him: Bread shall be given him, even when the siege is toughest and provisions are cut off; and his waters shall be sure, that is, he shall be sure of the continuance of them, so that he shall not drink his water by measure and with astonishment. Those that fear the Lord shall not want any thing that is good for them.
Your eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.
Your heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? where is the receiver? where is he that counted the towers?
You shall not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than you can perceive; of a stammering tongue, that you can not understand (33:17-19).
He will protect Jerusalem, and deliver it out of the hands of the invaders. This storm that threatened them should blow over, and they should enjoy a prosperous state again. Many instances are here given of this prosperity. 1. Hezekiah shall put off his sackcloth and all the sadness of his countenance, and shall appear publicly in his beauty, in his royal robes and with a pleasing aspect to the great joy of all his loving subjects. Those that walk uprightly shall not only have bread given them, and their water sure, but they shall with an eye of faith see the King of kings in his beauty, the beauty of holiness, and that beauty shall be upon them. 2. The siege being raised, by which they were kept close within the walls of Jerusalem, they shall now be at liberty to go abroad upon business or pleasure without danger of falling into the enemies’ hand: They shall behold the land that is very far off; they shall visit the utmost corners of the nation, and take a prospect of the adjacent countries, which will be the more pleasant after so long a confinement. Thus believers behold the heavenly Canaan, that land that is very far off, and comfort themselves with the prospect of it in evil times.
Where is the scribe or secretary of war? Let him appear to draw up the muster-roll. Where is the receiver and pay-master of the army? Let him see what he had in bank, to defray the charge of a defense. Where is he that counted the towers? Let him bring in the account of them that care may be taken to put a competent number of men in each. They shall no more be terrified with the sight of the Assyrians, who were a fierce people naturally, and were particularly fierce against the people of the Jews, and were of a strange language, that could understand neither their petitions nor their complaints, and therefore had a pretence for being deaf to them, nor could themselves be understood: They are of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive, which will make them the more formidable. Your eyes shall no more see them as fierce, but their countenances changed when they shall all become dead corpses.
This requires the utmost trust in Christ on our parts today. We must depend upon God to win our battles for us. And that is extremely difficult for Americans to do since we are an independent people, accustomed to solving our problems ourselves. So, we must humble ourselves; accept the reality and truth of the fact that we cannot properly solve our problems outside of Christ. I heard someone this past week say that the social problems in America would not even exist if the church would still do what it ought to do. And that is to meet the needs of those who are in need. But we waste our money on erecting huge buildings and accepting huge debt and overhead expenses rather than use the money to make a difference in people’s lives. We claim that we are making a difference by erecting these great edifices to make room for the needy to come to be saved by Christ. But we lose sight of the fact that if we were to consistently meet the physical and emotional needs of people they would end up meeting Christ wherever they might be. God finds people, not the other way around. The apostles did not actively seek out Christ, He walked and sought them out, wherever they might be, whatever they might be doing. And that is how He operates today, beloved. He sought me out, delivered a huge message, and patiently waited for me to ponder what my choice would end up being. I believe that there are very few exceptions to this basic commandment from Christ. One exception to the rule would appear to be the case of Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Here is a Christian school of higher education (the largest such in the world) which was begun by Jerry Falwell because he was given a vision by God. His church continues to reach out to the surrounding community even as the spin off school continues to educate young people on how to more effectively spread the gospel to the world at large. Missionaries are trained, praise team members are trained, pastors are trained, deacons and elders are trained. They support missionaries every month. But not every beginning congregation is given such a vision. God wants all of us to be available, teachable, loyal, and willing to do what He asks of us. He does not ask us to tie up His funds in great big buildings that tie up even more of His funds in heating, cooling, and lighting them for use. Especially when nothing happens within these buildings except one or two nights each week. We affect someone’s life two days out of the week but what about the other five? As can be readily seen, today’s Christian community has, by and large, strayed away from the way that Christ desires us to reach people with His message. We need to change that approach, and we need to do it very soon. No minister of Christ ought to live in a lavish home worth a million dollars, let alone five or six hundred thousand dollars. There is no need to wear the most expensive suits and shoes. There is no need to drive a brand new vehicle all of the time. Those are all for show, for status. They are done to either meet the personal “wants” or else they are done to impress others. They are never done to reach out to the poor, the down-trodden, and the lost. As did Christ, we must meet people where they are. That requires us to get out of our comfort zones and go out. That is hard to do unless we have a clear vision of who and what God is. If we have a mistaken idea of who Christ is it will lead us into making error filled decisions as to what is right and moral to do. But if we know for sure exactly who Christ is, then we may make the proper choices as to what to do with our tithes to God. Shall we waste them in maintaining a building? Or shall we do as the Apostles did and taught in the New Testament? Where was Paul’s church building, or that of Peter? Is it known how large of a congregation Timothy presided over? Or Barnabas? No, we do not know for Christ deems that unimportant to the greater mission that He ordained for us. Numbers are not important to God, relationships are. He came to this world with one mission in mind: Restore My relationship with My created beings. Now it is up to us to trust Him to work through us to restore more relationships with those all around us. I truly believe that more Christians should read A.W. Tozer’s “The Knowledge of the Holy.” If so, more of us would come to better understand the nature of Christ. In so doing, we would realize that we need to be busy going about our Father’s work, and not our own.
Well, that is the final thought that I leave you with today my friends. God willing, next time I will continue along in chapter 33 of Isaiah. Until then, grace and peace be yours.
Fri, Aug 7th - 1:06PM
Declaration: Imparting of the Truth - Looking at Mark 6:35-52 we see that in the middle of that setting Jesus seized upon the moment in order to give information. In every discipleship situation, certain truths are to be communicated so that they are caught, applied, and then retaught to others. They needed a lesson on faith. The throngs of people following Jesus, who stole from them their intended privacy, had become hungry. Jesus refused the disciples' suggestion that He send all of them away to the nearby village where they might get some food. Instead, Christ presented them with the catering problem: "You give them something to eat!" They knew full well that they had nothing to offer. Jesus sat everyone down and took five loaves and two fish found in a lad's lunch and He miraculously multiplied it until all ate and were satisfied. Jesus had captured that specific moment, with all its built-in opportunities, to impart a lesson on faith. The incident following, in which the disciples found themselves frozen by fear due to the sudden storm rocking their boat, revealed that they had failed to make personal application of that particular truth just taught to them. They had not gained any insight from the incident of the fish and loaves, but their heart was hardened. Now as time passed their faith did increase. The point here is that discipleship helps a person gain insight into truth by connecting life situations to the truths that he/she is learning.
Demonstration: Imparting of Life - We can find in Luke 11:1-4 an instance where Jesus underscored the truth with His everyday life. His teaching was not abstract, it was not clothed in academic sized terms, nor was it unclear. He demonstrated His instruction. The disciples had witnessed Him in prayer. They were moved by His example and the result was that they longed to know how to pray. His response was to give them a model prayer found in verses 2-4. The question asked is "What do we impart to our disciples?" The answer is that we teach them God's Word accurately, without personal interpretations included. We are all sinners, none seek after God, none do good, no not one. We all stray from God and Truth, seeking for truth within our own imaginations. Jesus Christ, of necessity, came to pay the price for all of our sins. His sacrifice was a perfect one which was necessary for it to be a "one and done." Jesus Christ rose from the grave to demonstrate His authority over the power of death and to give us a blessed hope for obtaining a body just like His one day. Jesus Christ came in the form of one of us, out of love, to reconcile us with Himself. His sacrifice of life is a free gift, we simply need to accept it in our hearts and make it a part of ourselves.
Beyond these few things that I have listed above we can find some basic "truths" in the Lord's Prayer found in Luke. We need to pray. We need to voice the fact that God's name is holy. We need to acknowledge that God's kingdom is coming. Then we must ask each day for that day's sustenance, both physical and spiritual. We all must ask God daily to forgive us of our sins for each day we commit them. It is not if, but when. We need to remember that as we are forgiven of our sins by God, so too, we must forgive everyone who is indebted to us, and who treat us wrongly, or unfairly, or wickedly. We need to be helped by God to remain free of entering into tempatation. Another truth is that God is a trinity. There are three in one. There are not three separate individuals but three persons united in one. There is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All are God, all are equal to one another, and all are omnipotent and omniscient. All are holy and pure. All are intolerant of any sin being in their presence. There are more facts of which must be transmitted into the life of any new disciple but it would require too much space to include all of them now. Here is one last truth: God is not a created being. He has been and always shall be. All that exists depends upon Him to continue existing. The climate of our planet does what He has established it to do. We do not control the environment, no matter how arrogant we might become in our imaginations. God controls everything. Not us.
That is all for today my friends. God willing, I will meet you here again in a day or so to continue this study in discipleship. May Christ richly bless you today.
Wed, Aug 5th - 7:56PM
Book of Isaiah Study
The earth mourned and languished: Lebanon is ashamed and hewn down: Sharon is like a wilderness; and Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits.
Now will I rise, saith the LORD; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself (33:9-10).
No man had any profit from the grounds, verse 9. The earth used to rejoice in its own fruitfulness for the service of God’s Israel, but now the enemies of Israel eat them up, or tread them down: it mourns and languishes; the country looks melancholy and the country people have misery in their faces, wanting necessary food for themselves and their families; the wanted joy of harvest is turned into lamentation, so withering and uncertain are all worldly joys. The desolation is universal. That part of the country which belonged to the ten tribes was already laid waste: "Lebanon famed for cedars, Sharon for roses, Bashan for cattle, Carmel for corn, all very fruitful, have now become like wildernesses, are ashamed to be called by their old names, they are so unlike what they were. They shake off their fruits before their time into the hand of the spoiler, which used to be gathered seasonably by the hand of the owner.’’ When things are brought thus to the last extremity, God will magnify Himself. He had seemed to sit by as an unconcerned spectator: "But now will I arise, says the Lord; now will I appear and act, and therein I will be not only evidenced, but exalted.’’ He will not only demonstrate that there is a God that judges in the earth, but that He is God over all, and higher than the highest. "Now will I lift up myself, will prepare for action, will act vigorously, and will be glorified in it.’’ God’s time to appear for His people is when their affairs are reduced to the lowest ebb, when their strength is gone and there is none shut up nor left, Deuteronomy 32:36. When all other helpers fail, then is God’s time to help.
You shall conceive chaff, you shall bring forth stubble: your breath, as fire, shall devour you.
And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire (33:11-12).
You shall conceive chaff, and bring forth stubble, which is not only worthless and good for nothing, but combustible and proper fuel for the fire, which it cannot escape, when your own breath as fire shall devour you, that is, the breath of God’s wrath, provoked against you by the breath of your sins—your malignant breath, the threatenings and slaughter you breathe out against the people of God, this shall devour you, and your blasphemous breath against God and his name.’’ God would make their own tongues to fall upon them, and their own breath to blow the fire that should consume them; and then no wonder that the people are as the burnings of lime in a lime-kiln, all on fire together, and as thorns cut up, which are dried and withered, and therefore easily take fire and are soon burnt up. Such was the destruction of the Assyrian army; it was like the burning up of thorns, which can well be spared, or the burning of lime, which makes it good for something. The burning of that army enlightened the world with the knowledge of God’s power and made His name shine brightly. And the total destruction of Antichrist and his armies will enlighten the world of God’s existence and will glorify His name.
Hear, you that are far off, what I have done; and, you that are near, acknowledge My might.
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?(33:13-14)
Here are two groups of people being addressed by God. Those who are far off and those who are near. Godless Israelites and godless Gentiles. “The devouring fire” is referring to God for He is as a devouring fire for He is holy and pure. This is how He shall judge all of us. But “everlasting burnings” fits very neatly with the lake of fire spoken about in the Book of Revelation. It puts the question to us for consideration: Who among us shall spend eternity in that lake of fire?
Each day the godless movement grows by leaps and bounds. How long will it be permitted in America to get out God’s Word to the people? God’s people need to be concerned about getting His Word out. Judgment is not a pretty subject. It does not win you any friends, but Isaiah’s words are straight from God, it is God’s message and He desires for the entire human family to hear it.
Next time I will explore the remaining verses of this chapter. May God abundantly bless you.
Tue, Aug 4th - 7:02PM
Book of Isaiah Study
The LORD is exalted; for He dwells on high: He has filled Zion with judgment and righteousness.
And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of your times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure (33:5-6).
When God lifts up Himself to scatter the nations that are in confederacy against Jerusalem (verse 3) then, as a preparation for that, or as the fruit and product of it, He has filled Zion with judgment and righteousness, not only with a sense of justice, but with a zeal for it and a universal care that it be duly administered. It shall again be called, The city of righteousness, chapter 1:26. In this the grace of God is exalted, as much as His providence was in the destruction of the Assyrian army. We may conclude God has mercy in store for a people when He fills them with judgment and righteousness, when all sorts of people, and all their actions and affairs, are governed by them, and they are so full of them that no other considerations can crowd in to sway them against these. Hezekiah and his people are encouraged (verse 6) with an assurance that God would stand by them in their distress. Here is a gracious promise of God for them to depend upon: Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of your times, and strength of salvation. Here a desirable end is proposed, and that is the stability of our times, that things be not disturbed and unhinged at home, and the strength of salvation, deliverance from, and success against, enemies abroad. The salvation that God ordains for His people has strength in it; it is a horn of salvation. And here are the way and means for obtaining this end— wisdom and knowledge, not only piety, but prudence. That is it which, by the blessing of God, will be the stability of our times and the strength of salvation, that wisdom which is first pure, then peaceable, and which sacrifices private interests to a public good; such prudence as this will establish truth and peace, and fortify the walls in defense of them. Here is a pious maxim of state for Hezekiah and his people to govern themselves by: The fear of the Lord is his treasure. It is God’s treasure in the world, from which He receives His tribute; or, rather, it is the prince’s treasure. A good prince determines it so (that wisdom is better than gold) and he shall find it so. Note, true religion is the true treasure of any prince or people; it denominates them rich. True religion was delineated by Christ in the gospels. Taking care of the widows and the orphans.
Behold, their valiant ones shall cry without: the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly.
The highways lie waste, the wayfaring man ceases: he has broken the covenant, he has despised the cities, he regards no man (33:7-8).
You would think that the people of this world would have learned a lesson by now. A great peace conference was held at the Hague; and, while it was going on, Germany began World War I and broke all of the treaties. At the end of that war the League of Nations was formed; and, when President Wilson went to be our representative, the idea was to make the world safe for democracy. What they forgot was to make democracy safe for the world. Peace didn’t come then. It led to World War II. Now the United Nations is making the world ready for World War III. We talk about peace, but we are not doing it the way God intends for it to happen. We continue to compromise our principles of freedom in order to not ever, ever offend others. We continue to jettison our ethics and morality in order to make others like us. Popularity is more important than living truthfully, morally, and ethically. Mankind is not interested in a right relationship with Christ, it is only concerned with being able to do what it wants, when it wants, the way it wants. And so it goes with entire nations: we will do what we want unless someone else can force us to stop.
Verse 8 could be an allusion to the Antichrist at the end of days, the man of perdition who creates peace treaties with many nations while pursuing his own agenda. He will treacherously break the treaty that he makes with nation Israel after three and a half years. He will set himself upon the seat of power in Jerusalem, and force all to worship him as god.
That is all for tonight my friends. God willing I will continue this study the next time that we gather here at this site. May Christ bless you richly in all that you put your hand to.
Mon, Aug 3rd - 12:17PM
Christ's disciples continually received from Him. They gained new insights from their contacts with Him. Fresh truths and practical techniques for handling life's situations were obtained from Christ. Their shared times together were stimulated by the "impartation" of His life. By word and demonstration, Christ provided them with information they could use living life God's way. So we need to explore ways of stimulating those that we disciple today by the impartation of our lives. First of all, "impartation" means "to give, convey, or grant from or as if from a store; to communicate the knowledge of." Though John 14:6 is not normally associated with the matter of discipleship, it does provide us an appropriate outline for our study. Christ Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me."
Direction: The Imparting of the Way - The night before His crucifixion Jesus observed that His disciples were distressed over His imminent departure. In John 14:1-4 we can read what Christ said to them. He stated that they knew the way where He was going. Thomas surprisingly stated, "We don't know the way." Three years living with Christ and they still did not know the way that He would go. Irregardless of their confusion on this point, Christ has indicated that knowing the way requires being rightly related to God through Christ. So that must be our model as we seek out guidelines from the Lord's example as to how we provide direction for a disciple.
A. Impart direction, help them know and reach their full potential.
(John 1:40-42) Here we see Jesus first meeting Simon and his brother. Jesus said, "You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas." This term means Peter, or rock. Jesus saw in him rock-like potential. He envisioned others' potential. He saw them as they were, but also as what they would become. Part of knowing God's will (the way) involves the realization of our potential. God captured Simon's heart when He called him "rock." If we wish to be effective disciplers, we must not fail in helping our disciples to see their complete potential in Christ.
B. Impart direction by helping them set life goals.
(Mark 1:17) When Christ first challenged His disciples He gave them something upon which to ficus their lives: "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." The goal was exacting. What to do with their futures became clarified for them, they knew how to aim toward eternal accomplishments. That is what we need to do in discipleship: with the Holy Spirit's guidance we help those under our care to unravel the confusion so many possess as to what God wants them to be and to do.
C. Impart direction by helping them establish and maintain balance.
(Mark 6:30) When Christ brought the disciples together after a period of active ministry on their part, "they reported to Him all that they had done and taught." They were tired from teaching the people of Palestine, touching many lives. Jesus decided that they needed rest, so He told them to follow Him away to a quiet place where they could be refreshed and reinvigorated. Today, too many people who are involved with ministry feel guilty when they withdraw for times of rest. The pressure is on them to never take a break. We need to take the lead of Jesus Christ and remember to provide ourselves with times of rest and relaxation to allow our bodies and minds to recuperate. Christ knew it to be a needful thing. We, as disciples of Christ, shold be balanced and should cultivate that need within others.
That is all for today my friends. Next time, God willing, I will cover the area of what exactly we ought to be imparting to other believers. Until then, grace and peace of Christ be yours.
Sun, Aug 2nd - 9:25AM
Book of Isaiah Study
This next chapter refers to the Assyrians in the imediate future but also extends to the final enemy of the Last Days. We see here geocentricity, the Promised Land is the thing of primary importance.
Woe to you that spoils, and you were not spoiled; and deals treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with you! when you shall cease to spoil, you shall be spoiled; and when you shall make an end to dealing treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with you (33:1).
Here are the great spiritual principles which God put down from the time man sinned. It is stated well in Galatians 6:7: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap."
The "spoiler" here is Sennecherib who came against Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah (Isaiah 36-37). But it does not limit this chapter to just this time frame in history. God says in effect, "If you spoil My children, then I will spoil you." And isn't this how relations work amongst us? You will be treated the same as the way you treat others around you. Revenge is Mine says the Lord. Thus we need to allow God to handle all of our revenge. God will do a perfect job of avenging our wrongs whereas we usually screw things up by allowing our emotions to color our efforts. The punishment that Sennecherib should fall under for this sin. He that spoiled the cities of Judah shall have his own army destroyed by an angel and his camp plundered by those whom he had made a prey of. The Chaldeans shall deal treacherously with the Assyrians and revolt from them. Two of Sennacherib’s own sons shall deal treacherously with him and basely murder him at his devotions. Note the righteous God often pays sinners in their own coin. He that leads into captivity shall go into captivity, Revelation 13:10; 18:6. There will be the time when he shall be thus dealt with. When God shall make an end to spoil, and to deal treacherously, not by repentance and reformation, which might prevent his ruin (Daniel 4:27), but when he shall have done his worst, when he shall have gone as far as God would permit him to go, to the utmost of his tether, then the cup of trembling shall be put into his hand. When he shall have arrived at his full stature in impiety, shall have filled up the measure of his iniquity, then all shall be called over again. When he has finished God will begin, for His day is coming.
Now this also pictures the final days of consummation after our Lord has brought together the restored Roman Empire, and Antichrist will destroy the land of Israel again. The second coming of Christ will be the method of dealing with "the spoiler" at that time.
O Lord, be gracious unto us; we have waited for You: You be their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble (33:2).
Here is the prayer of the godly remnant in that day and in ours. This is a timeless prayer for all ages.
At the noise of the tumult the people fled; at the lifting up of yourself the nations were scattered.
And Your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpillar: as the running to and fro of locusts shall He run upon them (33:3-4).
It is in vain to expect relief from creatures; we have no confidence in the "Egyptians", but we have waited for thee only, resolving to submit to You, whatever the issue of the trouble be, and hoping that it shall be a comfortable issue. Those that by faith humbly wait for God shall certainly find Him gracious to them. The strength of the Assyrian camp was broken (verse 3) when the destroying angel slew so many thousands of them: At the noise of the tumult, of the shrieks of the dying men (who, we may suppose, did not die silently), the rest of the people fled, and shifted every one for his own safety. When God did thus lift up Himself the several nations, or clans, of which the army was composed, were scattered. It was time to stir when such an unprecedented plague broke out among them. When God arises His enemies are scattered, Psalm 68:1. 2. The spoil of the Assyrian camp is seized, by way of reprisal, for all the desolations of the defenced cities of Judah (verse 4): Your spoil shall be gathered by the inhabitants of Jerusalem, like the gathering of the caterpillar, and as the running to and fro of locusts, that is, the spoilers shall as easily and as quickly make themselves masters of the riches of the Assyrians as a host of caterpillars, or locusts, make a field, or a tree, bare. Thus the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just and Israel is enriched with the spoil of the Egyptians. Some make the Assyrians to be the caterpillars and locusts, which, when they are killed, are gathered together in heaps, as the frogs of Egypt, and are run upon, and trodden to dirt.
There we have it for this day my friends. As with the Assyrians in Isaiah's time, so too in the future God shall deal out judgment upon "the Assyrian" who will think to exert his control and authority over the entire world. In the future a millennial kingdom shall be ushered in by the return of Christ to our world. He will rule with a rod of iron, His Word shall be the law by which each and every individual shall live their lives. All shall turn their worship towards Jerusalem. All shall acknowledge that God exists, it will not signify their acceptance of Christ as their Lord and Savior necessarily.
God willing we shall meet here again to continue this study of Isaiah. May Christ richly bless you, beloved.
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