Wed, Dec 31st - 9:27PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
Isa 5:15 And man is bowed down, and man is humbled, and the eyes of the proud are humbled.
Isa 5:16 But Jehovah of Hosts is exalted in judgment, and God the Holy One is proven holy in righteousness.
Isa 5:17 Then the lambs shall feed as in their pasture, and strangers shall eat the waste places of the fatlings.
That they should be humbled and abased, and all their honors laid in the dust. This will be done effectually by death and the grave: Their glory shall descend, not only to the earth, but into it; it shall not descend after them (Psalm 49:17), to stand them in any stead on the other side of death, but it shall die and be buried with them - poor glory, which will then wither away!
Did they glory in their mirth? Death will turn it into mourning; he that rejoices and revels, and never knows what it is to be serious, shall go where there are weeping and wailing. Thus the mean man and the mighty man meet together in the grave and under mortifying judgments.
So what then are the fruits of these judgments? God shall be glorified, Isaiah 5:16. He that is the Lord of hosts, and the holy God, shall be exalted and sanctified in the judgment and righteousness of these dispensations. He will herein be exalted as the Lord of hosts, that is able to break the strongest, humble the proudest, and tame the most unruly. Power is not exalted but in judgment. It is the honor of God that, though he has a mighty arm, yet judgment and justice are always the habitation of his throne, Psalm 89:13, Psalm 89:14.
Good people shall be relieved and succoured (Isaiah 5:17): Then shall the lambs feed after their manner; the meek ones of the earth, who followed the Lamb, who were persecuted, and put into fear by those proud oppressors, shall feed quietly, feed in the green pastures, and there shall be none to make them afraid. See Ezekiel 34:14. When the enemies of the church are cut off then have the churches rest. They shall feed at their pleasure; so some read it. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in abundant peace. They shall feed according to their ability or capacity (so others read it), as they are able to hear the word, that bread of life.
The country shall be laid waste, and become a prey to their neighbors: The waste places of the fats ones, the possessions of those rich men that lived at their ease, shall be eaten by strangers that were not related to them. In the captivity the poor of the land were left for vine-dressers and husbandmen (2Kings 25:12); these were the lambs that fed in the pastures of the fats ones, which were laid in common for strangers to eat. When the church of the Jews, those fat ones, was laid waste, their privileges were transferred to the Gentiles, who had been long strangers, and the lambs of Christ's flock were welcome to them.
Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope (5:18).
These are the ones whose vanity prevents any realization of the magnitude of their sinfulness. Their sin is like a rope tethering a horse to a cart. God gives warning to them.
That say, Let Him make speed, and hasten His work, that we may see it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come, that we may know it! (5:19).
These are the people who challenge God to do anything about their sin. No penalty is mentioned here, the silence is frightening: the penalty being too awful to mention. My friends, God is a God of love, but when you reach the place where you defy Him and turn your back upon Him and His commandments, Judgment comes.
That is all for this final night of 2008, beloved. As we all watch and listen to the final countdowns of all of the popular lists let us all remember that the number one reason to look forward to the new year is the fact that Christ Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day just as he predicted. If you already know, and believe, that fact then remember that He also predicted that He would return again to rule upon this earth and that all those who believe on His name shall be there with Him. Now that is something worth looking forward to in the coming year!
Until next time, may the mercy of God be upon you; may the peace and grace of Christ be yours; and may God’s love shine out through your face to light up the world around you!
Mon, Dec 29th - 9:25PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
In mine ears said the Lord of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.
Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah(5:9-10).
God tells them that no matter how much they expand their lands, the yield will not be great because the land will be depleted. There would be no bumper crop for them.
Let’s face reality here, the earth upon which you and I live is steadily running out of energy sources hidden within the ground. Nutrients are being wasted foolishly and not replaced prior to replanting crops. Pollution is rendering arable land totally useless. All of the experts are now worrying about how short the actual oil reserves in the Middle East are. Travel could become troublesome in the near future. The signs are evident of our world becoming more and more desolate over time.
Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!
And the harp, and viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands (5:11-12).
Here is the second woe, or sin. Drunkenness and pleasure on a national scale are the sins mentioned here, and they lead to the deadening of all spiritual perception of those indulging.
We do not see extensive news coverage these days of how pervasive alcoholism is in America. We do not know how many of our government leaders make decisions daily after coming from a cocktail party or some other diplomatic function. How many lives are forfeited because of alcohol related traffic accidents? Who is standing up and advocating for them, and their grieving families? Anyone in our government doing this? These sorts of things lower the morals of our entire nation. These things destroy our nation and gnaw away at its innards like a cancer.
Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst (5:13).
I believe that the majority of people in America think that it is sophisticated to drink socially. It is the proper etiquette when out with a group of people. Lost on people is the reality of life with their children. Children mimic what they see on a daily basis. What they see each and every day at home becomes what is “normal” in their mind. They see mom and dad drink alcohol to “unwind” or to “distress” and when they are old enough that is what they will resort to in order to accomplish those exact same things. It is a case of “monkey see, monkey do.”
So father, mother, if you indulge yourself with a little marijuana, or evening cocktails do not be surprised if your children begin engaging in the same practices. You are training them up in the way that they will go. Here is another aspect of this problem: Parents, if you lie and manipulate others to obtain things then do not be surprised when your children begin doing the same things to you and others. All of these behaviors destroy the home, and eventually they destroy the nation as a whole.
Therefore hell has enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoices, shall descend into it (5:14).
The word translated as “hell” in this instance is actually “the grave.” This is not a reference to the lake of fire as we would think of the final destination of the lost. It is the Hebrew word sheol. We can find this same word in Proverbs 30:16 : The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough. Death, or the grave, is never satisfied. Job asked a question at the grave, “But man dies, and wastes away: yes, man gives up the ghost, and where is he? (Job 14:10)”
Hell originally did not seem to have the idea of a locality, but in time it was thought that since God occupied heaven above, then hell or the grave must be below the surface, or down. In Matthew 11:23 Christ referred to this exact relationship. Strong moral connotations are usually attached to the terms of direction, up and down. Isaiah is saying here that nation Israel would be brought down from its haughtiness, from its drunkenness and pleasure-seeking, into captivity and ultimately to the grave.
I will stop here, my friends. Next time we shall explore further these woes. We will cover verses 15-20 and see how it affects our lives. Until then, mercy, peace, and grace be yours.
Sun, Dec 28th - 2:12PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? (5:4).
Here God states that He did all that He could for the Israelites to produce righteous fruit. Their failure to do so under these circumstances became serious.
And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it (5:5-6).
Here we see a clear prediction of the looming captivities of both kingdoms. For over 500 years God had kept the gentile nations off of Palestine. He put a wall around the children of Israel, He hedged them with His holy protection. But now God is removing His protection due to their continual disobedience. First Syria, then Assyria, then Babylon would come and lay waste to Israel’s land and people. It is still a pretty desolate looking place even today.
The fall and spring rains did not fall for over a thousand years upon the lands of Israel.
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry (5:7).
This verse makes it quite clear who the prophet is speaking about. God searched for judgment among His people but only found oppression. He found no righteousness among them, only people crying out.
In some ways these verses also apply to America today. Up until probably the 1960’s America was protected to a certain extent by God’s hand. He kept us safe from invasions, physical attacks, and economical attacks from abroad. Nations felt that they could not bridge the immense oceans to feasibly attack and/or invade the nation. But once America began to turn its back upon its spiritual heritage and foundation, then God slowly began to withdraw His protection of this once proud nation. September 11, 2001 was the beginning of a culmination of events that have been set in motion since at least the time of the banning of school prayer. The move to legalize abortion of unborn babies hastened it along some more. Congress ordering money lenders to give out mortgages to low-income people to make things more “fair” shifted things into another gear. The terrorist attacks in New York pushed America over the edge and into the chasm. The first economic shocks of that event altered our world. Everyone thought that was the end of it, however, the aftershocks were years away. Now we have begun to feel the aftershocks of 9/11/01. Are they done? I do not think so. We have oppression of people in our society economically, and financially. No one in the government has the courage to execute judgment on those who have made foolish gambles with our nation’s monies, they are still too concerned with getting re-elected to their coveted office. God looks for righteousness in America and cannot find it, He can only hear the cries of those who are suffering at the hands of their leaders. Judgment is coming to America, it may very well be here now.
In this fifth chapter of Isaiah we now move into a new section. Gone is the song of the vineyard and now comes the identification of their sins. We can apply each of these to our own lives or our nation, but the interpretation is for Israel, it has already been fulfilled for them. This reality ought to enable each of us to then make application to our hearts and lives since God obviously will execute judgment.
Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! (5:8).
Here is the first sin of Israel. Can you recognize it? Lust. More specifically, it is covetousness. What does it say in Colossians?“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (3:5).
It is big business expanding at the expense of the little man. Big business continually buying out smaller enterprises to obtain their markets. Great fortunes are amassed in this fashion. Insatiable greed is what drives the obtaining of more property and possessions. This is simply idolatry
This picture eerily reflects today’s agribusiness. Super farms that cover thousands of acres. The good of the little man was not what drove the people of Isaiah’s day to building large farms. Wealth and power was the driving force, just as it is today, my friends. Anything to which you give yourself completely becomes your religion. Anything.
Israel took all of the richness of the soil and returned nothing to it, just as we are doing today. We live in a world that is depleting all of the natural resources of our soils and beginning to get very desperate. We do not add sufficient nutrients back into the soil before planting a new crop for that wastes money. We end up with pretty looking produce that has less nutrient value each year. What good will it do us? Men clutch their wealth to their chests and refuse to reinvest it so that others may live healthy lives. God is judging us on this point.
That is all for today, my friends. Next time I shall write more about these sins and their judgments. They do apply to our time even as they were directly interpreted for Israel back in Isaiah’s time. Until then, peace and grace of Christ be yours.
Sat, Dec 27th - 9:34PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
Chapter five will bring us to the end of the section which was begun in chapter two. The beginning of this chapter is what many call “The song of the vineyard.” The rest of the chapter covers what is considered to be the six specific sins which bring down God’s judgment upon the nation of Israel.
Those who can read the song of the vineyard in Hebrew have said that it is without doubt one of the most beautiful songs that has ever been composed. It is impossible to reproduce in English.
The vineyard represents the house of Israel and as such becomes one of the two figures in the Bible that are taken from the botanical world to represent nation Israel. The other figure is the fig tree.
Christ Jesus gave a parable of the vineyard which referred to the whole house of Israel (Matthew 21:33-46). That parable showed that God had given Israel a second chance in their return from 70 years of captivity in Babylon, but their rejection of the Christ ushered in a more extensive and serious dispersion from the Holy Land.
Now will I sing to my well beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well beloved has a vineyard in a very fruitful hill (5:1).
“My beloved” is Christ Jesus, our Savior. He is the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the entire world. If you notice, there is nothing wrong with the soil upon which the vineyard is planted. The vineyard itself is the problem, the vine is the problem.
Here we see God inviting all of us back into His court to consider His charges against Israel. My friends, as soon as you and I listen to Him and to His charges against Israel, we will find ourselves condemned also.
And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also make a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes (5:2).
God removed the nation of Israel from out of enslavement in Egypt and placed them in the Promised Land. He expected them to produce the fruits of righteousness and required them to glorify His name. They failed horribly.
And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, between me and my vineyard (5:3).
God asks these people to judge, to discern the difference between God and Israel. My friends, when we look at our own lives, are we ready to complain against God? We all need to get rid of the idea that we are something special. God is not going to do anything to us that is unjust. He is not going to do anything that is wrong. You and I are wrong; God isn’t wrong, ever.
I hope and pray that all of you had a blessed time over the Christmas holiday. My wife and I finally had all three of our grown children under our roof at the same time for the first time ever. Not all were happy and content with their circumstances, but they were all here to visit with us and to share memories.
Now, as we approach the end of the current year we need to review the past year and its events. We need to put things into their proper perspective and move on. We need to learn from mistakes made during the past year and not make them anymore. We need to forgive those in our families who have made bad decisions this past year and pray that they make better ones in the coming year. We need to remember to forgive ourselves. If we do not, how can we forgive others and live in godly relationship with others?
Next time I will write about verses 4-7 which will conclude the song of the vineyard. Until then, be faithful to Christ and love Him with all of your heart, soul, and mind. Dedicate your life to serving Him. Determine within your heart not to rise to baiting by those who desire an argument or fight. Be longsuffering towards all who live under your roof and with whom you come into contact with each and every day.
Wed, Dec 24th - 11:37PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
Here I sit on Christmas Eve, unable to go to sleep yet. Things are still abustle at our household, preparations being finished up. Grandson unable to fall asleep due to anticipation of tomorrow's unknowns. So I will give another message in this study of Isaiah.
Chapter four of Isaiah is the shortest one in the book; it is only six verses long. The structure of the chapter is very simple. The first verse is the only one to depict conditions during the time of the Great Tribulation, or the 'last days.' All of the other verses set before us the preparation that will be necessary for entering the kingdom.
And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparal: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach (4:1).
These conditions will exist because of the frightening casualties of war. It has been true of all wars, but the final war will dwarf all previous ones in human history. Because of the decimation of the male population, there will be a huge surplus of women, so much so that seven women to one man will be acceptable to them. Can you imagine such conditions? I cannot. It would seem that all of the women will be working jobs fulltime, supporting themselves. We have already experienced such a partial condition, it was right after World War II.
In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel (4:2).
"In that day" refers to the Day of the Lord. We shall come across this phrase again and again as we study the book of Isaiah. And this day shall begin exactly as every Hebrew day begins: at sundown. It begins with darkness and moves to the light of dawn. It begins with the Great Tribulation and moves on into the millennial kingdom of Christ.
Christ Jesus is mentioned here as "the branch." There are 18 Hebrew words translated by the one English word branch. All of them refer to the Christ, to the Messiah.
And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem (4:3).
There will be those of God's people, both of Israel and the Gentiles, during the Last Days who will survive that period. How can I say that? Look to Matthew for confirmation: "...he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (24:13). One hundred forty-four thousand were sealed at the beginning of the Last Days and I know for sure that they come through and survive. The Great Shepherd is able to take care of His sheep, and thus I am assured that if I live during this time of tribulation I shall be brought through it and shall be brought home by Christ. Revelation chapter seven contains this same thought as reinforcement for us.
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning (4:4).
Zechariah 13:1 tells us, "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness."
God's people must be prepared to enter into the kingdom. All scripture points us in that direction of preparedness. Each year as we stand upon the threshold of another new year, we say that we are going to do better, we are going to be better. How many years has this been going on? Have we gotten better, or done better? I will ask the same question that others have asked in years past: "Are you fit today to enter into heaven?" I can't answer that question for you, but God is going to have to do alot of repair work on Eric Rajaniemi to make me ready for heaven. That is what this life on earth is all about. It is preparation for eternity. Would you and I be square pegs in round holes? Beloved, it does not yet appear what we shall be, Christ is working within each of us on a continual basis to mold us into what we are to be. That means Christ must make some changes within each of us.
And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence (4:5).
This happened the first time during the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. It shall happen again during the Last Days. The glory of God will be upon every home, and saint, in the kingdom. There shall not be a Temple in which God's glory will abide.
And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain (4:6).
Once more this is referencing the Exodus, but it also points towards the distant future. Our tabernacle is Christ. He is our refuge from the heat, the cold, hunger, thirst, and from all of the elements in nature. This verse speaks of peace, a peace that covers all. Security is the term that comes to mind. Today in America there is no peace. People are either scared of what is going on in their neighborhoods, or else they are scared of some group of people and what they think that they are going to do once they are in control of our government. Please note that peace always follows grace, mercy, and cleansing. The root problem has never been with a political party. The real problem has never been with a foreign country. The problem is found within the human heart. We are warlike creatures because we are sinners and we refuse to deal with that question/problem. The wars shall continue as long as the heart of man is unchanged.
And that ends chapter four. As I stated earlier, it is a very short chapter in the bible. Next time I shall begin chapter five which has a theme about the song of the vineyard and the six woes that follow in this ongoing prophecy of Isaiah's. Until then, ponder the fact that Christ was conceived on December 25th, incarnated into this darkness of the solstice of winter. It is quite appropriate that God would appoint the time of bringing the "Light of the world" to humanity at a time of greatest physical darkness in the world. What better way to drive the point home? So I gently suggest that you reread the accounts of John the Baptist' and Jesus' births; reread when they were conceived and figure out when they were probably born. You will see the truth of the matter for yourself. In any event, I pray that each and every person has a meaningful holiday and that they worship God in truth and in spirit.
Tue, Dec 23rd - 7:17PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
Now we are to see a picture of womanhood. Of course, it is not a flattering picture, but it is an accurate one by all means.
Isa 3:15 What do you mean that you crush My people, and grind the faces of the poor, says the Lord, Jehovah of Hosts?
Isa 3:16 And Jehovah says, Because the daughters of Zion are proud, and walk with stretched out necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and make a tinkling with their feet
Are these women in submission to their own husbands? Are they showing meekness? No, they are surrendering to the temptations of sin. And they reproduce this in others by committing more sin. It is not a physical thing, rather it is a matter of the heart. Look in I Peter 3:1-4: Likewise, wives, submitting yourselves to your own husbands, that even if any disobey the Word, through the behavior of the wives, without a word they will be won, observing your pure behavior in fear. Of whom let it not be the outward act of braiding of hairs, and of putting gold around, or of clothing, garments of adornment, but the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptible adornment of the meek and quiet spirit, which is of great value before God.
In marriage, if a wife tries to hold her husband with only her physical attractiveness, the time will inevitably come when he is no longer interested. A wife’s attraction needs to be more than the way she looks, or makes love. Her beauty must be in the way she lives her life with a gentle and quiet spirit.
Isaiah pictures the women of his day as proud, and sexy, temptresses. How accurate is that picture of women today?
Please note that the wife is not to harp on her husband to change his ways but rather she is to show through her actions what Christian living is all about. And this works in the opposite direction also. The husband leads his wife through his actions and not through his criticizing of her. Unconditional love acted out daily.
Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts (3:17).
God is speaking about disease. Scabs on the scalp, secret parts of their bodies. I do believe He is talking about venereal diseases here which afflict those who live wanton lifestyles, not considering the consequences of their actions. Many a young woman looks physically appealing today, but inside they are a den of vipers. Not just women either, I will point out here. Young men too, look so handsome on the outside but conceal so much contagious disease within their bodies.
In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon.
The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,
The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,
The rings, and nose jewels,
The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,
The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils.
And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty (3:18-24).
Women’s clothing is the barometer of any civilization. When their dress is modest it tells something about the nation as a whole. And when their dress becomes sexually blatant it tells an entirely different story about the nation as a whole. When women dress to attract the eyes of as many men as they possibly can they are far from modest people. Those women then have become “the strange woman” from within Proverbs. If they profess to be Christians and dress this way they are stumbling blocks to other male Christians for they draw all male attention to themselves and do not direct attention towards Jesus Christ. The wives of these men have stumbling blocks placed in front of them due to the feelings created within themselves at the sight of these scantily dressed women. Likewise with men, we cannot dress to draw attention to our physicality; all attention must be directed towards Christ.
If you were counting, in these last few verses twenty articles of clothing were mentioned. I am not preaching that women shouldn’t dress stylishly. They simply must dress modestly. God does not condemn any woman for dressing up; it is the lack of inner spirituality that He condemns in them. The true adornment of a woman comes from within, it is beneath the skin and glows from within and lights up the entire person. If a woman feels good about herself she won’t dress up like a prostitute for she will not feel the need to attract every man’s attention to her physical attributes. Real love comes from within a person, not from physical sex. Modesty comes from within a person’s heart and is showcased in the way they speak, dress, and act.
Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.
And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground (3:25-26).
There was a Roman medal which showed a woman weeping; the insignia beneath her read, Judea capta. It represented the captives of Israel. Israel did not listen to the warnings God gave them, and they went into captivity in consequence to their actions.
As I post this blog message, we have experienced the loss of some 4000 + soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan thus far. These individuals have died in combat because we as a nation have failed to live up to the moral and ethical standards set before us in generations past. We scoff at morality as being something old and stuffy, something outdated and unmodern. Morality and ethics are always in style, my friends. The Islamic nations look at our society and condemn us on what they see before their eyes. God tells us to avoid ALL appearance of evil so that no one will be able to accuse of us wrongdoing. As a nation we have failed that one miserably. Hollywood ought to be closed down and scrubbed clean of its filth. Our magazines should be cleansed of the moral depravity pictured upon their covers. No apologies will come from this quarter on this subject. I am ashamed of my nation’s outward appearance to the remainder of the world. It is high time to put our house into order, or else it shall fall apart in chaos.
Even though we have witnessed terrorist attacks against our people here in America, still we go about our daily business as though nothing needs correcting in our society. Our leaders are too cowardly to put a stop to the moral erosion that is taking place in our families and society in general. We need a few good, ethical, moral men and women to stand up, step forward, and say, “Enough is enough!” It is time to take our country back and make our children safe once more.
That concludes chapter three of Isaiah. Chapter four continues this one prophecy which began back in chapter two and concludes in chapter five. The general theme of chapter four is to reflect the conditions that prevailed during the Babylonian captivity that will also prevail at the establishment of the kingdom of God.
That is for next time, beloved. Until then, peace and grace of Christ be with you.
Sun, Dec 21st - 6:02PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
What about the wicked, since we have seen some words written for the righteous?
Woe unto the wicked! It shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him (3:11).
Doesn’t it sound like another way of saying that what ever a man sows, so shall he reap? Commit wicked acts, and you can expect to be repaid the same way. The only reward for the wicked person is what they create with their hands. No heavenly reward is stored up for them, no mansion in the New Jerusalem.
As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths (3:12).
Isn’t one of our biggest problems juvenile delinquency today? Our greatest crime rates are among our adolescent population. The Feminism Movement does not like Isaiah for he shares God’s thoughts on women bullying their way into control. I mean for you to know that it does not matter which gender is being referenced when we speak about bullying oneself into control. Currently it is this Women’s Lib group, along with Gay Rights, who are still trying to bully their way into control of our society. Bullying is wrong no matter who is behind the act.
But it is understandable as to seeing how Americans are being led astray by their leaders. Our leaders promise us they mean to do one thing, and then a little later on they change course and do something else once they have been given legal authority to act. Congress voted to create the IRS during wartimes, but once they obtained access to the amounts of money made available to them they did not desire ever relinquishing that power. The Department of Education was created to help our local school systems. But now it sucks up valuable resources just to create more bureaucracy and mandate that localities spend more money on solving a national problem. Both entities ought to be abolished and spend the money on paying down the national debt.
Listen to Isaiah as he pleads with God’s people:
The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.
The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of His people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses (3:13-14).
“Ancients” and “princes” are referring to leaders. God laid the blame on the adult leadership of Israel. The juvenile delinquency problem did not originate with the young people; it originated with the adults of the nation.
Obviously, there were a few individuals who desired to get rich and rule over everyone else. Just like today, my friends. Be not deceived, there are persons in society who still try to do this. Godless capitalism and godless labor are big problems in our nation of America, and one is as bad as the other. The issue here is that we are turned away from God. It really began in earnest, the best that I can determine, back in the 1960’s when prayer got kicked out of our public classrooms in the name of separation of church and state. That was a bunch of whooee back then, and remains as such to this very day. God is standing up ready to plead or ready to judge, and He will let the nation determine which it will be. We can have it either way. God will do one or the other. America, which shall it be?
I am going to stop here for now. The remainder of this chapter deals with womens’ dress and how it impacts our daily walk with Christ. Until then, prepare yourself for observing the conception of Christ in a few short days, and ponder the extent of your submission to the Lamb who sits on the throne of God. To Him be the power, the glory, and the honor!
Sat, Dec 20th - 9:00PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
As I stated last time, our leadership has been a string of paper dolls.
And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.
And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbor: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable (3:4-5).
As far as ability is concerned, men in high positions should be wearing diapers. Adults who act more like adolescents than true adults. They are incompetent. That is what brought Israel down to ruin and it is exactly what shall bring America down to ruin today. God judged Israel, and God will judge America. There is no doubt in my mind because God is an unchanging God, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
In verse 5 doesn’t it sound as if Isaiah were speaking about our society today? The youngest have been given power over their parents and elders. Youth are enabled to drag their parents into court and accuse them of all sorts of atrocious acts, simply because the youth do not get their spoiled way. Americans are tired of hearing about this country being divisive. One group being pitted against another group. We have minority groups at each others’ throats, we have gender battles that have been waged for the past thirty years, and we have the battle between the young and the elderly. The next ten to twenty years do not seem to be friendly times for any of us. Christians are a minority also, but we are not being heard from by the mainstream of our society.
Isa 3:6 When a man shall take hold of his brother, at his father's house, saying, A cloak! Come, you be a ruler for us; let this ruin be under your hand.
Isa 3:7 In that day he shall swear, saying, I will not be one who binds up; for there is no bread nor a cloak in my house; you shall not make me a ruler of the people.
Isa 3:8 For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen; because their tongue and their doings toward Jehovah are to rebel against the eyes of His glory.
The prophet pronounces what God has given as His judgment. We, today, don’t have very many of God’s men standing up and pointing at our nation, and saying, “Our cities are ruined,” although it is as true as it was back in Isaiah’s time. I am saying tonight, “America, our cities are either ruined, or are being ruined!”
The key to this chapter is found in this phrase: “because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord.” This is also the key to the ruin of any nation. God judges nations by their relationship to Him, and to Him alone. The problem in America is that God has been run out of Washington, D.C. God has been kicked out of every one of our public schools. God has been kicked out of our courtrooms. And they are trying to kick God out of our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Little men and women think that they can run the world better if God is not allowed into people’s lives. Oh, how we need to be humbled. I believe that this humbling has already begun, beloved. China has humbled us, Vietnam has humbled us, al-Qaida is still humbling us. And still, we have not learned our lesson, we have not woken up to reality. We continue to coast on down the slippery slope of our rejection of our godly ancestry.
The show of their countenance does witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! For they have rewarded evil unto themselves (3:9).
Sin came out into the open in Israel and Judah, and it has come out into the open in America today. Is there any doubt? Madoff duping billions of dollars from all sorts of people, the financial system playing computer games with gambling of investors’ money. A US governor attempting to sell an open Senator’s seat for his own personal gain? These are all symptoms of the illness afflicting our nation. Ungodliness. What used to be relegated to backrooms and darkened alleyways is now being done right out in the front yard folks. What do the homosexuals call it, “Coming out of the closet?” Now they are not content that we all know who they are, they desire to teach their lifestyle to our children as if it is the predominant choice made by everyone. It is a case of the tail wagging the dog. Or at least giving it a gallant try. No, we are not being more honest; we are still being the same hypocrites that our fathers were. They were hypocrites because they hid their sin, and we are hypocrites because we are sinning right out in the open and trying to say that the sin is good! Do you hear me, Mr. Clinton? Do you hear me, Congressmen and women? Do you hear me, fellow governmental workers? Do you hear me, gay activitists? Do you hear me, lobbyists of all sorts? We are hypocrites! And it is killing our nation. Abortion rights activists, do you hear? Killing future people in the womb in the name of saving a mom some inconvenience today? Over 30 million people have been slaughtered in their mothers’ wombs since abortion was legalized. You wonder why our nation is struggling? You are killing it off, little by little, each and every day. Hypocrites! Womens’ rights activists, do you hear me? Equality does not mean that women work the exact same jobs as men. It does not mean that when a woman attains a management position that she act like a man. We are different. Let us remain that way, please. It does mean that all of us ought to get paid the exact same amount for working the exact same jobs. It does mean that all of us are allowed the exact same constitutional rights.
Say you to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings (3:10).
Those who are righteous in Christ shall be delivered from all of the hypocrisy and sin. God will deliver His chosen people. He delivered Israel and He shall deliver Christians today.
I will stop there for now, my friends. Next time I will cover verses that point out that there are consequences for all of our actions and thoughts. Until then, ponder whether now is the time to rededicate yourself to serving Jehovah in truth and spirit. Go in peace and grace of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.
Fri, Dec 19th - 10:11PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
Before we begin chapter three we need to stop and realize that with great privilege comes great responsibility. Israel as a nation had more light than any other nation around it, and light rejected brings severe punishments, as will be discovered in this book. But it is easily to be believed that God shall also judge the United States more harshly than other nations of our world. The United States has been privileged to know the Word of God as no other nation has---except Israel.
The subject of God’s judgment may be offensive to you, but let’s face reality whether we like it or not. God does judge sin. He not only will judge sin in the future, He has judged it in the past.
The prophecy before us is a picture of Isaiah’s day, and it most certainly has been fulfilled. But this does not exhaust its meaning, because the conditions described will prevail in our world again at the end times and will bring down the wrath of God in final judgment upon all nations, including Israel.
The first 15 verses of chapter three deal with “weak government” and “women’s dress.” Although they seem to be unrelated items, we may find that they are not as far removed from one another as they initially appear.
For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, does take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water(3:1).
Man may need bread, but he does not live by it alone. This verse describes a famine which forms a judgment of God. In the Word of God there are 13 famines mentioned, and every one of them is a judgment from Jehovah.
The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient,
The captain of fifty, and the honorable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator (3:2-3).
Continuing the beginning thought, God says that He shall remove food, water, and all of the leaders. There would be a lack of qualified leaders. Sound familiar today, my friends? This is a judgment from God. There are a great many men who are trying to pass themselves off as great, but they do not compare to the likes of Washington, Lincoln, Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, or any of the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence. We have very many ambitious men and women, young and old alike, who are not statesmen/women. A hundred and fifty years ago they would have been considered cheap politicians, not statesmen!
We Americans have a lack of leadership within our military. Our judicial system also suffers from same lack of leadership. Where is the prophet, the prudent, and the ancient? What we have today is a bunch of clever men and women who understand how to compromise on everything.
On our television or movie theater screens what greatness can we see? We have a profusion of artists and entertainers, but we have very few masters or geniuses in these fields. Where are the Joyces, the Longfellows, the Londons, or the Bunyons of our age?
We used to believe that the educators had the solution to the problems of the world. Today we believe that the scientists have the solution to all of our problems, even when the scientists make stuff up without any evidence to back up their claims.
I will halt right here for today, beloved. Next time I shall write some about how our society is being converted into what is described in this chapter. It is scarey in many respects how American culture is evolving into something alien to its original form and intent. Until then, walk in light my brethren.
Thu, Dec 18th - 8:54PM
HOW MUCH ABOUT CHRISTMAS IS ACCURATE?
If December 25th isn’t a realistic date for Christ’s birth, then what is? How can we begin to establish what could be a reasonable time frame for His birth? Perhaps we should look more closely at Luke’s account of these things:
Luk 1:5 In the days of Herod the king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the daily course of Abijah. And his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
Old Zacharias was a priest in the Temple at Jerusalem during the course of Abia, or Abijah. Historical calculations show that this course of service fell during the month of June, perhaps the 13-19. This man learned from an angel of events that were not very far into the future. He and his wife had no children and were quite old. They always had wanted children but Elizabeth had never conceived.
Luk 1:6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blameless in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.
Luk 1:7 And no child was born to them, because Elizabeth was barren. And both were advanced in their days.
Luk 1:8 And it happened in his serving as priest in the order of his course before God,
Luk 1:9 according to the custom of the priests, entering into the Holy Place of the Lord, it was Zacharias' lot to burn incense.
Luk 1:10 And all the multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.
Luk 1:11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right of the altar of incense.
Zacharias was performing his normal priestly duties when this angel appeared before him inside of the Temple.
Luk 1:12 And seeing this, Zacharias was troubled, and fear fell on him.
Luk 1:13 But the angel said to him, Do not fear, Zacharias, because your prayer was heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear a son to you, and you shall call his name John.
Zacharias was scared to death, I think that I might have been also under those circumstances. He was informed that he and his wife were to have a child, whose name would be John.
Luk 1:16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God.
Luk 1:17 And he will go out before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah "to turn the hearts of fathers to their children," and disobedient ones to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people having been prepared for the Lord. Mal. 4:5, 6
Luk 1:18 And Zacharias said to the angel, By what shall I know this? For I am old and my wife is advanced in her days.
Luk 1:19 And answering, the angel said to him, I am Gabriel, who stands before God, and I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you the good news of these things.
Luk 1:20 And behold, you shall be silent and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which shall be fulfilled in their season.
Luk 1:21 And the people were expecting Zacharias, and they wondered at his delay in the temple.
Luk 1:22 But coming out, he was not able to speak to them, and they recognized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he was making signs to them and continued dumb.
Of course, poor Zacharias doubted what he was being told by the angel. And so, his sign was to be struck dumb until he met the Messiah in person. How frustrating that must have been for this poor man! To have knowledge that no other human being knew of, and yet, not to be able to communicate it to anyone! It was his own fault. So he completed his course of priestly duties at the Temple and went back home to his wife, Elizabeth.
Luk 1:23 And it happened when the days of his service were fulfilled, he went away to his house.
Luk 1:24 And after these days his wife Elizabeth conceived. And she hid herself five months, saying,
Luk 1:25 So has the Lord done to me in the days in which He looked on me to take away my reproach among men.
She viewed this to be redemption from reproach of her neighbors. She did not go about flaunting her pregnancy. She hid herself at home. So, let’s say that Zacharias got home not too long after completing his scheduled course in Jerusalem around perhaps the 19th of June. John the Baptist’s conception more than likely took place not too long after he got back home to his wife. Let’s add the standard nine months to this date and it brings us to the end of March the following year as John’s probable birth. Now we add another six months to that time frame:
Luk 1:26 And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
Luk 1:27 to a virgin who had been betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
And we arrive at the end of September as Christ Jesus’ birth. That account is true. If we were to celebrate His birth, it would have to be done in the month of September, not December. This was the time of year for the Feast of Tabernacles, and the time of year when a Roman census would have been requested for tax purposes. All of the crops would have been harvested at this time of year in the Holy Land and thus available for paying of taxes to the Roman authorities.
So what’s so wrong about giving gifts to each other at Christmas time?
These presents themselves remind us of the presents that were exchanged in Rome during the Saturnalia. In Rome, it might be added here, the presents usually took the form of wax tapers and dolls; the latter being in their turn a survival of the human sacrifices once offered to Saturn. It is quite weird that in our Christmas presents we have preserved in a different form one of the most savage customs of our barbarian ancestors!
Let’s consider what Tertullian, a Catholic writer of the late second and early third century, lamented about. He spoke out about the fact that the pagans of his day were far more faithful to their beliefs than were the compromising Christians who were happily joining in the Roman midwinter festival that eventually became to us, Christmas:
“By us, …the Saturnalia, the feasts of January, the Brumalia, and Matronalia are now frequented; gifts are carried to and fro, new year’s day presents are made with din, and banquets are celebrated with uproar; oh, how much more faithful are the heathen to their religion, who take special care to adopt no solemnity from the Christians” (De Idolatria, quoted by Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, 1959, p.).
The Christians of Rome were becoming so accommodating to the pagans they were attempting to convert that when Pope Gregory sent Saint Augustine to convert Anglo-Saxon England in 540-604 he directed the man that so far as possible he should accommodate the Christian rites to the heathen ones.
He advised Augustine to allow his converts to eat and kill a great number of oxen to the glory of God the Father, as formerly they had done this in honor of their previous gods. Augustine baptized many people that first Christmas and permitted their usual December celebration, just with a new name and supposedly new meaning. The rationale always was that later on, the church could cut off the remaing pagan rituals and “purify” the holy day as Christ’s.
Tragically, this goal has never been accomplished. The Romans kept the winter solstice with a feast of drunkenness and riot. The Roman Church thought that it could bring a better meaning into that feast. They tried to persuade their flocks not to drink or eat too much, and to keep the feast more sedately, solemnly, but without success.Has there ever been contention over Christmas?
In the beginning I don’t see any evidence of ever observing Christ’s birthday. The Apostles are quite silent on this topic, which is queer if it is such an important date to observe each year. Later on there was controversy erupting over whether Jesus’ birthday should be celebrated at all.
As early as 245 A.D., the Church father Origen was proclaiming it heathenish to celebrate Christ’s birthday as if He were some mere temporal ruler when His spiritual nature should be the main focus. This view only found strong, widespread support with the rise of Protestantism. To them this celebration flew in the face of all they believed from scripture. Drunken revelry on Christmas! It was not even His birthday, merely an excuse to continue the customs of pagan Saturnalia.
From within the Encyclopedia Britannica we can find that Clement of Alexandria, Greece, Origen, and Epiphanius of the 2nd and 3rd centuries contended that Christmas was a copy of a pagan celebration.
Pope Leo the Great in the 5th century attempted to remove certain practices at Christmas which he felt were in no way different from sun worship of the pagans.
The point of contention spiritually was this: Being born into this world was nothing to celebrate. What mattered was leaving this world and entering the next in a condition pleasing to God. The pagans celebrated birthdays, not the dates of deaths of people. The Romans celebrated the birthdays of the Caesars, and most Mediterranean religions attached importance to the natal feasts of a plethora of supernatural figures/gods.
If Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, and His purpose in coming was anything like what is supposed, then in celebrating His birthday each year Christians do violence, not honor, to His memory. Aren’t we sustaining man’s traditions when that is what He came here to cast down? Hhhmmm.
The Puritans refused to celebrate Christmas at all. The Pilgrims in Massachusetts made a point of working on Christmas as on any other day (esteeming no day more than any other). Colonial America considered this holiday more of a raucous revelry than a religious occasion with Cotton Mather describing yuletide merrymaking as an affront unto the grace of God.
So why has Christmas survived and grown into such a popular holiday? Partly it is due to its being rooted in ancient customs and religious practices that had nothing to do with God or the Bible. This carried it along for many centuries. Today it is fueled by economic forces outside of its control. Along the way, Christ centered focus was replaced by the myth of Santa Claus. So what should we do about Christmas, and perhaps some other holidays as well?
Our Lord wants “all men to be saved” (I Timothy 2:4) and is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance”(II Peter 3:9). Peter and John urged the brethren to walk in Jesus’ footsteps (I Peter 2:21), to “walk just as He walked” (I John 2:6). They followed Christ’s command to teach converts to “observe all things that I (Jesus) have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
So which is more important? Obedience or idolatry? Can we participate in idolatrous festivities and still please our Lord Jesus? If that is true, then why did He tell us to separate ourselves from these activities? Is God pleased when we claim to worship Him by adopting celebrations of pagan gods and goddesses in man-made holidays while they ignore His commandments on how to worship Him? This seems to violate Christ’s clear instruction: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).
2Co 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what fellowship does light have with darkness?
2Co 6:15 And what agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what part does a believer have with an unbeliever?
2Co 6:16 And what agreement does a temple of God have with idols? For you are a temple of the living God, even as God said, "I will" dwell in them and "walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." Lev. 26:12; Ezek. 37:27
2Co 6:17 Because of this, "come out from among them" "and be separated," says the Lord, "and do not touch the unclean thing," and I will receive you. Isa. 52:11
These are hard instructions being given to us. How can we participate in Christmas when it is associated with the unclean pagan celebrations? We risk polluting ourselves in associating with it. But this is a decision that I can’t make for anyone except myself. You, my friends, must sit down and decide whether this is truth before you, or not. I coerce no one. I plead with you rather, that you ponder and study these things out and reach your own conclusion.
The apostle Paul did not advocate that some of the pagan customs could be allowed into Christian practices within the Corinthian church. He commanded them to leave all such practices behind. Assuredly, the early churches did not participate in winter-solstice celebrations honoring thesun god Apollo. Nor did they imitate these to honor Christ. Have we not all become “new creations” once we have accepted Christ as our Savior? Have not all old things passed away? How then, can we realistically retain these old pagan rituals in an attempt to honor Christ? We cannot embrace two competing systems of worship. We must choose which one to serve wholeheartedly. It is an individual choice for each of us. Choose wisely.
Wed, Dec 17th - 8:44PM
HOW MUCH ABOUT CHRISTMAS IS ACCURATE?
We are fast approaching that time of year when so many people celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ. Or, so they believe. Many others merely celebrate a time of festive family gatherings where gifts are exchanged, just as they have for centuries.
The question becomes then, what are all of us actually celebrating each year at this time? Is it the birth of the Messiah, the Savior of mankind? Or is it the celebration of a time of year when darkness outweighs light and we need to know that light shall increase in duration once again? I say, let’s weigh the evidence and determine what is accurate, and what is not.
The typical story that most of us have heard repeated is:
“It’s about 2000 years ago, the evening of December 25. Mary rides into Bethlehem on a donkey, urgently needing to deliver her baby. Although it is an emergency, all of the innkeepers turn them away. So Joseph and Mary deliver baby Jesus in a stable. Then angels sing to the shepherds. Afterwards, they all join three kings with camels in worshipping the quiet, newborn.”
Is this story true? If not, how much is factual, and how much is made up by men over time? All of these events have been retold so many times and in so many ways---plays, poetry, books, and movies---that most of us would be hard pressed to know whether or not we are looking at a distorted view of the events. The only accurate record to be found is in God’s Word.
Did Mary ride a donkey to Bethlehem?Luk 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) Luk 2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
Perhaps she did ride upon an animal, but this account does not specify that it was a donkey. This aspect of the story is fabricated by man. The Bible only says that she and her husband went to Bethlehem to be taxed.
Did Mary arrive in Bethlehem the night she gave birth to Jesus?The above verse mentions that she was great with child but it does not specify whether or not birth was imminent. Luk 2:6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. This verse says that they were there for a period of time before Mary gave birth to Jesus. Thus we see another fabrication of man in the story of His birth. Mary arrived in Bethlehem well before her due date, which makes perfect sense.
Did Joseph or Mary talk to any innkeepers? Was Jesus born in a stable? Or was it a barn? Or a shed? Was it amongst lots of animals? Perhaps they did, but there is no biblical reason to believe that they did. In the popular story, the innkeepers all turn them away due to there being no room. In the actual biblical account no innkeepers are mentioned. In addition, it is entirely possible that Joseph and Mary actually stayed with relatives (it was his hometown) and not behind some kind of Bible-times hotel.Luk 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. The bible does not mention any of these three possible places in connection with Christ’s birth, only a manger. Scripture simply reports that they laid Jesus in a manger because there was no room for him in the inn. The Greek word used here is kataluma, and can mean guest chamber, lodging place or inn. Obviously, “inn” was chosen in this instance when being translated. But why not choose one of the other two? The only other time that this word was used in the New Testament, it means a furnished, large, upper story room within a private house. In Mark 14:14-15 it is translated as guest chamber, and not inn. It makes sense that Joseph and Mary stayed with relatives in Bethlehem while she expected her child. Due to the crowed conditions, Jesus was born outside under the normal living and guest quarters.
Did angels sing to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem?
Luk 2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
Luk 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Luk 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luk 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
Luk 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Luk 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward menMaybe, but the Bible account doesn’t specifically say that the angels sang.
Were angels present at Christ’s birth?
This account says that first “an” angel of the Lord came upon the shepherds. After this angel spoke to them there suddenly appeared a heavenly host that prased God. No singing angels present. A fabrication of man.
Did three kings riding camels come to Jesus’ birth?
The Bible account does not mention any kings or camels visiting the infant Jesus. It does report wise men, or magi, came to pay homage but it does not say how many. There is no suggestion that magi were kings. Magi as used in scripture is plural in form and so there were at least two of these men present. The Bible does mention three costly gifts: It would be logical to assume that they would be present at the birth of the Second Person of the Trinity in human flesh. But scripture does not report it, and there is no evidence that angels were visible to Mary and Joseph at this particular time. Mat 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Mat 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. The number of gifts offered does not intend to indicate the number of gift-givers present. Only that these were the acceptable gifts to be given to the Messiah. There is also no hard proof as to what country these men traveled from.
The wisemen clearly did not visit Jesus when he was still lying in that alleged manger, as is commonly shown on greeting cards and in school plays. The magi did not arrive until sometime after Christ’s presentation in the Temple in Jerusalem
Luk 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Luk 2:22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
Luk 2:23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
Luk 2:24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
Why do I say that the magi did not visit while Christ was still an infant? Because the Bible says that they came and saw the “young child.” That is not an infant, that is a child that is much older. They were still in Bethlehem up to this point, as far as scripture tells us. After being in Jerusalem for this event the small family traveled back to Nazareth.
Was Jesus born on December 25, or in December at all?
Now we enter into a zone where very many people will leave this post. Although it is not impossible, it is very unlikely that Christ’s birth took place anytime in December. No date or month is explicitly stated in the Bible. But there are problems with trying to make December Christ’s birth month. First, it would be very unusual for shepherds to be “abiding in the field” with their sheep at this cold time of year when their fields were unproductive. The normal practice was to keep the flocks in the fields from spring to autumn. Winter would also be an especially difficult time for pregnant Mary to travel the long distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem (70 miles).
A more probable time would be late September, the time of the annual Feast of Tabernacles, when such travel was commonly accepted. Taxation time would be at this time of year also. So, it is rather easily believed that Jesus’ birth was around the last of September. The conception of Christ, however, may very well have taken place in late December of the previous year. Our Christmas celebration may well be recognized as an honored observation of the incarnation of “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14). It makes immense sense for Christ to have been born at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles since at His birth the “Word was made flesh and dwelt (literally tabernacles) among us.”
This would mean that His conception took place in late December. And so, when we attempt to celebrate Christmas, “Christ sent,” we are actually celebrating His miraculous conception. This darkest time of the entire year---the time of the pagan Saturnalia, and the time when the sun (the physical “light of the world”) is at its greatest distance from the Holy Land---would be an appropriate time for God to send the spiritual “light of the world” into the world as the “Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
So why do we celebrate Christmas as Jesus’ birthday?
Most scholars believe that Christmas originated in the 4th century as a substitute for pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. Each year beginning on December 17th Romans honored Saturn, the ancient god of agriculture, in a festival called Saturnalia. This festival lasted for seven days and included the winter solstice, which usually occurred around December 25 on the ancient Julian calendar. During Saturnalia the Romans feasted, postponed all business and warfare, exchanged gifts, and temporarily freed their slaves. Many Romans also celebrated the lengthening of daylight following the winter solstice by participating in rituals to glorify Mithra, the ancient Persian god of light. These and other winter festivals continued through January 1, the festival of Kalends, when Romans marked the day of the new moon and the first day of the month and year.
Although, as we have previously seen, the Gospels give no mention as to date, we still have this Christmas Day celebration endorsed by most churches. Why is that? The Roman Catholic Church chose this date as the day for the Feast of the Nativity in order to give Christian meaning to existing pagan rituals. This was not the best course of action to take. The Church replaced festivities honoring the birth of Mithra with festivities to commemorate the birth of Jesus. The Mother Church hoped to draw pagans into its religion by allowing them to continue their revelry while simultaneously honoring the birthday of Christ Jesus.
Over the next 1000 years, the annual observance combined with existing pagan feasts and winter rituals all across Europe as the Church expanded into these areas. Many of these have become long-standing traditions of Christmas. For example, Europeans believed that the mistletoe plant held magical powers to bestow life and fertility, to bring about peace, and to protect against disease. Northern Europeans associated the plant with the Norse goddess of love, Freya, and developed the custom of kissing underneath mistletoe branches. This has since become traditional as part of celebrating Christmas.
So the question arises: Should genuine Christians associate with pagan festivals? Would Christ say to us, “Go, be merry with the lost?” I think not. This entire practice creates an unequal yoking of believers with unbelievers. Candles and lamps were used to frighten the spirits of darkness, which were considered to be powerful at this time of the year. Should we do likewise, and continue this charade?
Did the early Christians observe Christ’s birthday as being more significant than any other day? The Bible contains no such record. That is a powerful statement in and of itself. The Bible is silent on the matter.
What has this focus upon Christ’s birthday done to the faithful?
The message of Christ and His Apostles---”the gospel of the kingdom of God”---has been mostly lost. The Christmas celebration shifted the focus away from Christ’s promised return to His birth. Is this what the Bible directs us to do?
The first time Christmas was probably observed on December 25th is considered by historians to be in the fourth century. What happened during the fourth century? Emperor Constantine of Rome ruled during this time frame. He allegedly converted to Christianity at a time of upheaval and major unrest within the Empire. It is believed that he was an adherent of Mithraism up to the time of his supposed conversion. He was a shrewd man and knew that if he did nothing, his Empire would fragment and disappear before his eyes. Christianity appealed to him as a mechanism to keep the Empire together, it would allow the people to become more of a community. He was probably instrumental in getting the major feast of his old religion carried over into his new found faith. It would make perfect sense. At any rate, the introduction of Christmas represented a significant departure from “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints”(Jude 3).
That is sufficient for this day, don’t you think? This is very long, but please study it for yourselves at a slower pace. And ask yourself questions. Like, “Why do people go broke buying presents to give to others?” “Why don’t people help out the less fortunate instead?” “Why is Christmas becoming so commercialized?” Tomorrow I will continue this short study. I will contast some more items associated with this holiday. Until then, peace and grace of Christ be with you all. ~Eric
Mon, Dec 15th - 9:37PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan.
And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up (2:13-14).
The cedar trees of Lebanon and the oaks of Bashan were representative of their pride in themselves. Prideful things, representing the general pride of mankind. This is what shall be addressed by God on the day of the Lord of hosts. Verse 14 refers to governments and society all around the world. These physical features represent political elements and the society in which these elements can exist and flourish.
And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall(2:15).
Towers represent the military, as they are used for lookouts to spy when your enemy approaches you. Fenced walls still exist in our society today. There may not be as many as in centuries past, but these walls still exist within our culture. But again, God is alluding to the military and that it too, shall be judged by Him.
And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures(2:16).
Commerce and art shall also be judged by God Almighty. Today we witness the purveyors of pornography pass off their crass depictions of “love” as art, when in reality they are simply attempting to con all of us into believing their lie. They shall be judged.
And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day (2:17).
In essence the prophet is relaying the fact that God/Christ is going to put down all of mankind’s pride and pomp and self-deception.
And the idols He shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake terribly the earth (2:18-19).
God shall finally eradicate all idols and false religions from the world. The Book of Revelation repeats what mankind will do in that day of coming judgment: “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:15-16).
All that we can see on television today, beloved, has to do with the political economy, government, commerce, art, the pomp and pride of mankind; in a word it is the religion of mankind on display. Those are the things that people worship on a personal level. They “serve” these things rather than serving God.
The day is coming when all of this “horse and buggy show” activity will be brought down by God and the Lord Christ Jesus will be exalted above all other names on earth and in heaven. Today Christ is being left out of society, out of all of the important decisions that must be made each day around the world. But the day is coming, my friends, when He shall return and men will run to hide in the caves and canyons of the mountains. I do not know if men ever were cavemen before, but I can guarentee you they literally will become cavemen when Christ returns! They will try anything and everything to hide from His wrath!
In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;
To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty, when he arises to shake terribly the earth(2:20-21).
The repetition of this concept is given to drive home God’s point here. In the day when Christ returns to earth to claim His rightful place upon David’s throne in Jerusalem, in that day people are going to be in an awful hurry to throw away from themselves their idols. They will not be able to throw them away fast enough! The truth will hit home extremely hard on that day, God does exist! He is here! He is here to stay! I have been horribly wrong in my thinking! Woe is me!
Cease you from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of (2:22).
This verse is saying to each of us to not put our confidence or trust in any man. I might know that I am exhaling right now, but I cannot know for sure that I will inhale once more until I actually do so. Oh, we take these breaths of ours for granted without a doubt. But none of them are guarenteed. It is the reality of our existence on this planet: we are frail creatures. If our body temperature falls too low or goes too high we shall die. If our heart stops beating we will die, and we never can know when that eventuality will occur. While sleeping comfortably in my bed tonight I cannot be sure of waking in the morning, an object could conceivably fall from the sky and kill me in my home. Or I could suffer a stroke and never wake up again. And so I must put my trust in Christ and not in any man in this world.
So ends chapter two of this book of Isaiah. It ends with the admonition to stop following the traditions of mankind, to stop paying heed to what men say we ought to feel, believe, or do. How many more political scandals must come to light today before it is driven home as to how ethically and morally bankrupt the politicians are? And they are merely a reflection of our current society, not an aberration that is unconnected to our culture. We voted them into office, we are partially to blame as well.
Next time, my friends, I will begin the next chapter and we shall see how it reveals God’s judgment against the nation of Israel. Until then, remember that we serve an awesome God who reigns from heaven above with wisdom, power and love. And He is coming again…
Sat, Dec 13th - 7:59PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
O house of Judah, come you, and let us walk in the light of the Lord (2:5).
The prophet beseeches the people to come to their senses. To look around themselves and see what in truth they have been doing to their very lives. The exact same message is delivered to us today by the Holy Spirit of God. Come, and walk in the light of the Lord Jesus Christ! This is the only way to find true peace. This is the only way to find true happiness. Leave God out of our lives and we will only find disappointment and sadness.
Therefore you have forsaken your people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.
Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots:
Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made:
And the mean man bows down, and the great man humbles himself: therefore forgive them not (2:6-9).
Judah adopted new ideas from the heathen peoples and merged them into their own religion. They embraced the Assyrian and Babylonian ways and soon joined the rest of the world in worshipping the creature more than the Creator, God. We also see a picture of modern day civilization here. Most of us take great pride in what we accomplish with our “hands.” We bow down to those things that we create through our personal efforts. There is no respect as to persons in this regard. The great man still humbles himself to worship the creature rather than the One who created him. The Jewish people had been commanded to separate themselves from all other races since God had chosen them to be His People. But they did not refrain from entering into marriages with those who were non-Jewish, and accepted the beliefs of those whom they did marry. They became unequally yoked with the unbelievers. It was a recipe for disaster, and disaster is exactly what eventually happened to nation Israel and Judah.
Enter into the rock, and hide yourself in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty.
The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.
For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low (2:10-12).
God fully intends to break down the proud man, the man who thinks he can rule himself and the man who thinks he can rule the world without God. Here again, we see reference to “the day of the Lord of hosts” which speaks of the “Last Days.” Being lifted up is a matter of pride, fame, repute, and status. Those who take exceptional note of these things will be brought down to earth at the end of time and made to face up to who they truly are.
Beloved, we are not to act this way. We are not to put worth in our station in life but we are to be content in whatever situation that we may find ourselves in. Paul was content while being imprisoned. Steven was content while being stoned to death. We are not to return evil words for evil words spoken to us or about us. We are to forgive our transgressors and pray that they may find their way to Christ. Forgive them for, by and large, they still know not what they do.
That is all for today, my friends. Next time I shall write about the next several verses which bring us to the end of this chapter of Isaiah. You will be able to see the application to the Book of Revelation. Until then, walk in grace, walk in the light, and walk in peace.
Thu, Dec 11th - 9:16PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem (2:1).
When Isaiah speaks of Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem, he means exactly these people and places. If Isaiah uses figures of speech he will make it clear that they are figures of speech. The prophet will let you know when he is making a different application. Do not spiritualize prophecy in conformity to some theological idea which will fit into some church or denomination’s program of thinking.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it (2:2).
I will say once more, this does not refer to the last days of the church. The last days of the church pertain to the time of spiritual apostasy. In I Timothy Paul spoke of this: “Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith…”(I Tim. 4:1). The “latter times” of the saints and the “last days” with Israel are not identical time frames. There is some overlap of the two. The “last days” are in reference to the Great Tribulation Period as Christ Jesus made clear in Luke 21. So chapters 2-5 deal with the great, final period of tribulation and the subsequent kingdom that shall be set up on this earth.
In the phrase “mountain of the Lord’s house” mountain is referring to a kingdom, an authority, or a rule as made clear in Daniel’s prophecy. Here in this instance we are being informed that God’s house authority will be established to rule over all other kingdoms or nations. Everyone in all of the nations shall come to it. God’s house will be the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, and He will be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Why is Israel such a hot spot these days? It is because it is the very location that God has chosen to be the political and religious center of the world during the kingdom age. Read Daniel 2:35 to recall what we are talking about here. Jesus is that stone that strikes the image and breaks it asunder and then He becomes a great mountain(authority) which fills the entire world. God is coming, and He is going to fill this world completely with His holiness, power, love, and wisdom.
And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain (the kingdom) of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (2:3).
Self explanation is given to us here. The mountain is the kingdom of the Lord from which shall come the word of the Lord Christ Jesus and His Law. Christ will sit upon David’s throne just as prophesied. One of the primary concerns of people at this particular time will be to discover and do the will of God. People will seek to learn His ways and walk in His paths.
And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (2:4).
Has this happened already in our world? Yes, when Christ came the first time He most certainly rebuked many people, but He did not judge among all of the nations. People did not go about turning their weapons into plowshares and pruning hooks, did they? No, they did not. So this is something yet to happen in history. This would appear to be something that will occur during that time period that liberal theologists claim does not exist. The Millennium. The thousand year period of time when Christ shall physically rule from Jerusalem over the entire earth. That will be when this verse comes true. Or at the very least it begins to become true. Today people talk a lot about disarming all nations so that we can live in peace. This flies in the face of the Word of God. Joel 3:10 tells us that during the “last days” plowshares will be turned into swords for armed conflict. Christ told us in Luke 11:21 that a strong man armed keeps his home safe. So today we must not disarm our citizenry, for then they are truly helpless against the “strong man.” To have peace and safety, you must have law and order. Christ will enforce law and order upon all who survive the Tribulation. All will bow down a knee in acknowledgment of His sovereignty and rule. During the millennium we will finally be able to remove the locks from all of our doors and walk any street anywhere at any hour of the day or night in complete safety. The kingdom of Christ will be one of peace for He is the Prince of Peace.
As we consider this concept it is obvious that it is futile for any man or nation to attempt to promise to bring peace to our world today. The United Nations, which was created to help bring peace on earth, is the center for some of the greatest battles to be carried on. It is impotent. We do not have more peace today than before it was created. Therefore it has been a failure. All children of God should realize that no man can bring peace to this planet. We are incapable of doing it. As long as sin runs freely in us and in our world men will have an overwhelming ambition to rule over other people.
How can we change this outcome? What must be done? Can anything be done? Perhaps the New Age believers can help us out of this jam? Maybe we ought to ask them for help? We will find out next time, we shall see if we ought to turn to those who do not believe in Christ. Until then, my friends, be strong in the Lord, rely upon Christ Jesus for your understanding. Consider the plight of those around you each day, help them as you are able. Do not turn your back upon them simply because they do not believe in God. You are the light in this dark world, do not forget that.
Peace and grace of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, be yours tonight.
Wed, Dec 10th - 9:17PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
Isa 1:29 For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.
Isa 1:27 Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.
Isa 1:28 And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
“Zion” is another name for Jerusalem. The city shall be redeemed one day through God’s judgment. All of those who turn their backs upon God will be consumed, destroyed. People do not like hearing those words, but they are the honest truth, the reality of our lives. And the reason for the destruction of them is due to their idolatry. The Israelites worshipped the oak trees, special gardens, and lots of other things just as did the pagans all around them.
Being physically strong will not prevent God from harvesting your life, nor will influential people prevent God from harvesting their lives either. God is not partial to anyone, there shall be no favors to honor and no passes handed out at the time of final judgment.
Isa 1:31 And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.
Isa 1:30 For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.
In our society God has been misrepresented in the sense that He has lost His temper and as a result of that, He is issuing summary judgment against everyone. That has never been the true picture of God. The fact is that our sin is like a wick, and when we do play with the spark of sin, the fire surely will follow. Gal 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Gal 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
As we begin looking at chapter two of Isaiah we notice the beginnings of a prophecy. In fact, it is one continuous prophecy all the way through chapter 5. All of these chapters give us a view of the “last days” concerning Israel, meaning all twelve tribes. We will see that God is very clear in speaking to all twelve tribes of Israel which will be brought back together somehow. In God’s mind it seems that He only thinks of Israel in terms of the “ nation.”
The last days of Israel need to be separated from the last days of the church in these chapters. We cannot automatically transfer what God says here about Israel to the church. We can be fairly sure of this fact because Apostle Paul says that the church was a mystery which was not revealed in the Old Testament at all. If you remember, in his letter to the Romans Paul clearly wrote:
Rom 16:26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith
Rom 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, :
Now if Isaiah had known about the church it would not have been a mystery to anyone, now would it? From Paul’s day until the present day the church has been revealed and has been God’s agency through which He is giving out His message of redemption to the entire world.
But at some point in the future the church will be removed from this world, it will be snatched away to heaven. Isaiah’s prophecy looks beyond that point in time, to a time when God will begin to move in a new way.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time I shall write about previewing the future for Judah and Jerusalem. Until then, may God bless you richly and lead you in the ways of peace and happiness. May you serve Him with gladness of heart, and seek Him out each and every day.
Mon, Dec 8th - 7:26PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
Beloved, there is a way out for America, and there is a way out for you and for me. Someone stated it this way:
Philosophy says: Think your way out.
Indulgence says: Drink your way out.
Politics says: Spend your way out.
Science says: Invent your way out.
Industry says: Work your way out.
Communism says: Strike your way out.
Fascism says: Bluff your way out.
Militarism says: Fight your way out.
The Bible says: Pray your way out, but
Jesus Christ says: I am the way (out)…
Back into Isaiah:
Isa 1:19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
Isa 1:20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
The government of God and the grace of God are two aspects emphasized in this book of the Bible. Throughout the rest of this first chapter God attempts to move Judah back to Himself. God warns the people about the consequences of their choices.
Isa 1:21 How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
Isa 1:22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:
Isa 1:23 Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them
God lays the truth before them. The faithful have become whores; what once was full of righteous judgment has now become full of murderers. Their wealth has become worthless, their richness has become weak, tasteless. Their leaders are no longer loyal to the nation but rather are looking out for themselves. The leaders are more interested in what monetary gain they can obtain rather than be advocates for the orphans and take care of their widows. This is a picture of America today also. Our leaders would rather spend their time gathering more wealth and power around themselves than to act in the best interests of their people and country. It takes a brave and honorable person to knowingly sacrifice their political future in order to do what is right for their country. I watch to see if any politician will be willing to such a thing in the coming weeks and months.
Isa 1:24 Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:
Isa 1:25 And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:
Isa 1:26 And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.
Here I see God giving one of His frequent “Therefore saith the Lord” responses. First He laid out clearly to the people what the reality of their lives was, then He tells them what He shall do in response to their continuing actions of rebellion. If the people are willing to turn from their sin and obey God then He will favor them materially and spiritually and protect them from their enemies. America has experienced favor materially and spiritually, it has also been protected from its enemies for many decades. But shall that condition continue if America chooses to do the opposite of what God commands? That is for next time.
Until then, my friends, peace and grace of Christ our Lord be with you.
Sun, Dec 7th - 9:33PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
What happens to us when we only “play” at serving God?
Isa 1:14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
Isa 1:15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
Isa 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Isa 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
God does not desire sacrifices from us, He wants us to be obedient to Him. God wants our hearts to desire Him, to desire serving His interests and not our own. God spelled out His charge against the Israelites and against America today. Spiritual apostasy. It has led to moral corruptness, and it will ultimately lead us into political anarchy in America, if we do not repent, and turn back to God’s ways.
Israel is like a prisoner standing before the judge in the courtroom waiting for the sentence of judgment after being charged. God now moves in to judge them, the entire nation.
But even at this late point God is more than willing to settle the case out of court. God says to Israel, “Don’t go into court with Me, because you are going to lose.” The Judge has something else to say to Israel and we are utterly amazed at what He says next:
Isa 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
God, the Judge, pleads with Judah, “Do not force Me to render sentence. Settle your case out of court.” In Matthew the Lord Jesus said:
Mat 5:25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
God has a divine formula, a heavenly elixir that will take away the sin. You, and the Israelites, could find it in Isaiah 53 as the One who was more marred, who suffered more, who died differently, who was wounded for all of our transgressions. Because He paid the penalty the Judge is able to now extend mercy to all of us. The blood of Christ Jesus, God’s Son, the Lamb of God, keeps on cleansing from all sin.
This was the charge against God’s people in Isaiah, and it is the same charge against God’s people, the church, today. It is also the same basis on which they may turn to Him. God gave the nation almost one hundred more years and when they refused to repent He sent them off into captivity. Is America immune to the same sort of treatment? I think not, my friends.
This scripture applies directly to my own nation of America. I see the beginnings of political anarchy. It is obvious that men cannot solve the problems of this nation, and certainly not of the world. Gibbon gives in his book, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, five reasons for the decline of Rome and of any other great nation. The first step is the undermining of the dignity and the sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society. The second step is the application of higher and higher taxes, and the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace. The third step was the mad craze for pleasure and sports becoming every year more exciting, more brutal, and more immoral. The fourth step was the building of great armaments when the real enemy was to be found within: the decay of individual responsibility. The fifth step was the decay of religion, fading into mere form and ritual, losing touch with life, and losing power to guide the people.
America, can you find yourself among these five steps? Every time public money gets spent to fund another sports stadium for a baseball or football team, step number three has occurred. Step one is underway with every attack against the traditional family. Each time our taxes get pushed higher step two is being enacted. Every socialistic extension of welfare speeds step two along its merry highway of destruction. Spending billions upon our military and ignoring the danger signs at home lights the match under step four. How long shall we continue to not require our children to be responsible for their actions, their choices? President-elect Obama calls for the black community to require more of its fathers than in the past; I call upon all people to require more of fathers. Make them stand up and raise the children that they callously bring into this world. Be a man for a change. And every single attack against people of faith, attacks against public prayer, public preaching of God’s Word feeds the flames of step five.
Beloved, any nation’s decline begins with spiritual apostasy. This to be followed by immorality, and the end will be political anarchy.
Question: Is there spiritual apostasy in America today? Modernism has taken over most of the prominent denominations in America; and modernism, by its own confession, has failed. Dr. Niebuhr, one of the past mouthpieces of liberalism, has been quoted as saying that liberal Protestantism has been inclined to sacrifice every characteristic Christian insight if only it could be proven to itself to be intellectually respectable, but that liberalism finds itself unable to cope with the tragic experiences of our day.
Dr. Albert Hyma, when he was professor of history at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said, “The United States of America in the past fifty years has been dominated to a large extent by persons who do not understand the spiritual heritage bequeathed by their own ancestors.” Dr. J. Gresham Machen said, “America is coasting downhill on a godly ancestry, and God pity America when we hit the bottom of the hill.” My friends, we are approaching the bottom of said hill. But God is saying to us today, “Come, let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” There is a way out for America, but, if we continue to go the way of other nations, our time is running out very quickly.
That is all for now, my friends. Next time I shall continue along this train of thought. Until then, peace and grace of Christ be yours.
Sat, Dec 6th - 9:29PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
Jehovah will not compromise with sin, He will not accept it into His presence. He is moving forward in undeviating, unhesitating, and uncompromising fury against sin.
Why should you be stricken any more? You will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers (1:5-7).
God spoke the truth about Israel in these verses. There was moral awfulness and political anarchy, but God held back His complete judgment until another time reserved in the distant future. But if we overlay these charges onto America today we find several similarities. America used to be very much a follower of God but over the past century it has turned its back more and more on God and His Laws. America is in revolt. It’s entire head is sick spiritually, morally, and ethically. It’s heart is not strong as in the past. It hesitates to do what is right and proper. This once mighty nation is no longer sound throughout itself. There are wounds, bruises, and putrifying sores that have been allowed to fester and rot in the midst of our society. They have not been addressed and resolved, nor have they been treated so that they could heal properly. Verse seven is our nation’s future. It will become desolate, our cities will burn with fire, and foreigners will overthrow it while we all stand around and gape. And I am saddened by this prospect, I can see it creeping ever closer even as the politicians haggle over who will wield the most power in Washington D.C.
And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.
Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah (1:8-9).
In other words, if there had not been a faithful remnant, God would have destroyed Israel just as He did Sodom and Gomorrah. But there has always been a remnant of God’s faithful people. There is a remnant today as there are true Christians scattered all over the world.
Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; give an ear unto the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah (1:10).
Here we read about God finally beginning to spell out His holy charge against Israel, and the greater world. The whole problem is spiritual apostasy.
To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? Says the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats (1:11).
We now get to specifics. God has put His hand upon a definite thing, and He is going to prove that specific point in which the people are wrong. He puts His finger upon the best thing in Judah, not the worst. He shows them what is exceedingly wrong. Israel had a God-given religion and a God-appointed ritual in a God-constructed temple, but they were wrong in that which represented the best. They were bringing sacrifices and going through the ritual according to the letter of the Law, but their hearts were in rebellion against God. Their religion was not affecting their conduct nor their ethics. That is the same problem among believers in Christ today, beloved. Too many of us have reached the place where we have a form of godliness, but we deny the power of godliness. We are too consumed and constrained by the form of our worship rather than focusing upon the depth of our worship. We are too busy insuring our fellowship with other believers (quantity) rather than focusing upon the quality of our fellowship times together. We focus on the ritual and not on the Person of our worship. It is wrong, it is not what Christ wants us to spend our time and energy upon.
When you come to appear before Me, who has required this at your hand, to tread My courts?
Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto Me; the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting (1:12-13).
Even doing that which God has commanded us to do becomes wrong when our hearts are not in it and when it does not affect our conduct.
If Christ Jesus were to come into your church tomorrow, would He commend you? Would he compliment you for your faithfulness to Him and only Him? Would He tell you how much He appreciates your attendance at the services and your giving to Him? I think not. He who has “feet as burnished brass,” whose “eyes are as a flame of fire,” and from whose mouth there goes “a sharp two-edged sward,” would not commend us at all (Proverbs 5:4, Daniel 10:6, Rev. 1:14-16). I think that He would tell us that He is sickened by our outward form, all of our lovely testimonies and loud professions of faith. God would tell us that we all need to repent and come in humility to Him. Why waste My money upon the trappings of self-aggrandizement? Why create new “temples” and call them “God’s House?” God does not live anywhere except in each believer today. We are God’s temple and we need to be proper stewards of His House, our bodies.
Fundamentally, our problem today still is spiritual; and until the professing church repents and has genuine revival, there is absolutely no hope for America, or any other nation in our world.
Next time I will write about what happens to all of our prayers and good intentions when our hearts are not totally into it. What the results of our monetary contributions will be when we simply do it for the tax break, or to achieve elevated status in the community by attending the “right” church of the day will be revealed. Until then, my friends, peace and grace of Christ be yours.
Sat, Dec 6th - 8:39PM
Dur to a request, this is posted to all:
TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS,
HE LIVED ALL ALONE ,
IN A ONE BEDROOM HOUSE MADE OF
PLASTER AND STONE .
I HAD COME DOWN THE CHIMNEY
WITH PRESENTS TO GIVE,
AND TO SEE JUST WHO
IN THIS HOME DID LIVE.
I LOOKED ALL ABOUT ,
A STRANGE SIGHT I DID SEE,
NO TINSEL, NO PRESENTS,
NOT EVEN A TREE.
NO STOCK ING BY MANTL E,
JUST BOOTS FILLE D WITH SAND,
ON THE WALL HUNG PICTURES
OF FAR DISTANT LANDS .
WITH MEDALS AND BADGES,
AWARDS OF ALL KINDS ,
A SOBER THOUGHT
CAME THROUGH MY MIND.
FOR THIS HOUSE WAS DIFFE RENT,
IT WAS DARK AND DREARY,
I FOUND THE HOME OF A SOLDI ER,
ONCE I COULD SEE CLEARLY.
THE SOLDI ER LAY SLEEPING,
SILENT, ALONE ,
CURLED UP ON THE FLOOR
IN THIS ONE BEDROOM HOME.
THE FACE WAS SO GENTLE,
THE ROOM IN SUCH DISORDER,
NOT HOW I PICTURED
A UNITED STATES SOLDI ER.
WAS THIS THE HERO
OF WHOM I'D JUST READ?
CURLED UP ON A PONCHO,
THE FLOOR FOR A BED?
I REALI ZED THE FAMIL IES
THAT I SAW THIS NIGHT ,
OWED THEIR LIVES TO THESE SOLDI ERS
WHO WERE WILLI NG TO FIGHT .
SOON ROUND THE WORLD ,
THE CHILDREN WOULD PLAY,
AND GROWN UPS WOULD CELEBRATE
A BRIGH T CHRIS TMAS DAY.
THEY ALL ENJOYED FREEDOM
EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR,
BECAUSE OF THE SOLDI ERS,
LIKE THE ONE LYING HERE.
I COULDN'T HELP WONDER
HOW MANY LAY ALONE ,
ON A COLD CHRISTMAS EVE
IN A LAND FAR FROM HOME.
THE VERY THOUGHT
BROUGHT A TEAR TO MY EYE,
I DROPPED TO MY KNEES
AND STARTED TO CRY.
THE SOLDI ER AWAKENED
AND I HEARD A ROUGH VOICE ,
' SANTA DON' T CRY,
THIS LIFE IS MY CHOICE;
I FIGHT FOR FREEDOM,
I DON' T ASK FOR MORE,
MY LIFE IS MY GOD,
MY! COUNTRY, MY CORPS .
THE SOLDI ER ROLLED OVER
AND DRIFTED TO SLEEP ,
I COULDN'T CONTROL IT,
I CONTINUED TO WEEP.
I KEPT WATCH FOR HOURS ,
SO SILENT AND STILL
AND WE BOTH SHIVE RED
FROM THE COLD NIGHT'S CHILL .
I DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE
ON THAT COLD, DARK, NIGHT ,
THIS GUARDIAN OF HONOR
SO WILLING TO FIGHT .
THEN THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER,
WITH A VOICE SOFT AND PURE,
WHISPERED, ' CARRY ON SANTA ,
IT'S CHRISTMAS DAY, ALL IS SECURE.
ONE LOOK AT MY WATCH ,
AND I KNEW HE WAS RIGHT .
' MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND,!
AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT .
May all of our service men and women stay safe this holiday season. God bless each and every one of you for your sacrifice and service!
Thu, Dec 4th - 10:15PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
Isaiah records the principles upon which God judges all of the nations.
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord has spoken, I have nourished and brought up chidren, and they have rebelled against Me (1:2).
In the thinking of academia, God has been removed from the throne of judgment. He has been divested of His authority, robbed of His regal prerogative, shorn of His locks as the moral ruler of His universe; He has been towed to the edge of the world and pushed over as excess, obsolete baggage. This is a foolishly crafted picture of God. He is still the moral ruler of His universe. He is still upon the throne of justice; He has not abdicated. He still punishes sin.
God begins this prophecy in a majestic manner. He brings His general judgment against Judah. God desires the entire world to witness the proceedings as He tries His people. Nothing that God does is done in the dark nor is it done in the shadows of corners. This beginning is quite similar to the way Deuteronomy 32 begins: Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.” When God put down the conditions upon which the nation was to live by once He set them in the Promised Land, He called the created intelligences of heaven and earth to witness these conditions.
Now, after five hundred years, God announces their rebelliousness and His readiness to take them out of the land. He calls upon the created intelligences of heaven and earth to witness this. The condition upon which the Israelites were allowed to live in the land was obedience to God. They were disobedient; and, according to the Mosaic Law, when a man had a rebellious son, that son was to be stoned to death. As His children, they had rebelled against the Mosaic Law in this instance. Notice in Deuteronomy how this situation was to be handled:
Deu 21:21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
Deu 21:18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
Deu 21:19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
Deu 21:20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
God could have killed each and every Israelite who had been disobedient to Him, His Law called for it. Instead God showed some mercy, and longsuffering, and committed them to captivity amongst the Gentiles. I am sure this point was lost on them as they were trucked off to Babylon, but they most certainly understood this point of the Mosaic Law. Centuries later when Christ Jesus came He told a parable about the prodigal son returning home. Instead of stoning the errant son, the father told the servants to kill a fatted calf instead! Horrors! The prodigal son asked his father for forgiveness, and even before he was finished his confession his father had thrown his arms around the boy, kissed him, and forgave him. Instead of stripes, or stoning, the son was given a wonderful feast. God is not only just, but also merciful; but rebellion of a son is serious business.
The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel does not know, My people don’t consider (1:3).
In order to emphasize His charge God uses a bit of humor. This satire is splendid. I trust that you are able to recognize humor in the Bible; it will help you enjoy it a great deal more.
The two animals used as an illustration here do not have reputations for being very smart. Why else do we still use the expression “dumb as an ox?” However, even these animals have enough smarts to know who feeds them.
Today too many people do not have intelligence enough to know that God provides for all of their needs. They do not know that God feeds them. They do not even recognize that He exists. What a sad commentary on such a sophisticated generation that feels that it no longer needs God. To not even take a little time before beginning a meal to thank God for providing what is before us; it is quite like a dog just walking up to its bowl of food and digging in.
We hear today that man has descended from animals. Man may act like an animal acts; in fact, it could very well be said that some animals are smarter than some men. Maybe animals descended from man and have evolved into something better than man? How’s that for a kick in the pants? We have dropped pretty low, we have not risen up to a higher plateau of existence.
Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel into anger, they are gone away backward (1:4).
We can see here God as the Judge of the entire earth and of His own people Israel. It’s strange since the thinking of our world today is that God no longer on the throne of judgment. The world thinks of God off somewhere tending to His garden flowers, not interested in what goes on on planet earth. Modern teaching has given all of us a warped picture of God. The reality is this: God is going to judge His creation just as He judged His people in the past. That should be a warning to each and every nation today, as well as every individual.
Here Israel is described as being laden with iniquity, or sin. This enlightens our understanding of Christ’s words spoken in Matthew: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Now we can understand what He meant with “laden.” Just as He gave an invitation to the Israelites in Isaiah’s time, so too today He offers rest to those who are loaded with sin. If we study the Book of Judges we find a cycle, a historical cycle, given to us of how human government works itself out. History in general corroborates the fact that there are three steps in the downfall of any nation. There is religious apostasy, then moral awfulness, and finally political anarchy. Very many people pay no attention until they reach the stage of political anarchy, and then they will cry out that the government ought to be changed and a new system put into place. The origin of these problems begins with spiritual apostasy.
Next time I will go over the next 8-12 verses in which God gives His indictment of nation Israel based upon certain things. Until then, speak for the orphans of this world and take care of the true widows just as Christ Jesus said we ought to be doing. Defend the defenseless, such as the unborn infants who have no voice. Stand tall.
Wed, Dec 3rd - 9:25PM
I have to post this for all of you.
Take my Son
A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had
everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often
sit together and admire the great works of art.
When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very
courageous an d died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father
was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.
About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door A
young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.
He said, "Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son
gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to
safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often
talked about you, and your love for art." The young man held out this
package. "I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think
your son would have wanted you to have this."
The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the
young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the
personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes
that his own eyes welled=2 up with tears. He thanked the young man and
offered to pay him for the picture. "Oh, no sir, I could never repay what
your son did for me. It's a gift."
The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to
his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them
any of the other great works he had collected.
The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his
paintings Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great
paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.
On the platform sat the painting of the son The auctioneer pounded his
gavel. "We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid
for this picture ?"
There was silence
Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, "We want to see the famous
paintings. Skip this one."
But the auctioneer persisted. "Will somebody bid for this painting. Who will
start the bidding? $100, $200?"
Another voice angrily. "We didn't come to see this painting. We came to see
the Van Gogh's, the Rembrandt's. Get on with the real bids!"
But still the auctioneer continued. "The son! The son! Who'll take the son?"
Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime
gardener of the man and his son. "I'll give $10 for the painting." Being a
poor man, it was all he could afford.
"We have $10, who will bid $20?"
"Give it to him for $10. Let's see the masters."
"$10 is the bid, won't someone bid $20?"
The crowd was becoming angry. They didn't want the picture of the son.
They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.
The auctioneer pounded the gavel. "Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!"
A man sitting on the second row shouted, "Now let's get on with the
The auctioneer laid down his gavel. "I'm sorry, the auction is over."
"What about the paintings?"
"I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a
secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation
until this time. Onl y the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever
bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the
The man who took the son gets everything!"
God gave His son 2,000 years ago to die on the cross. Much like the
auctioneer, His message today is: "The son, the son, who'll take the son?"
Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything.
FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, WHO SO EVER
BELIEVETH, SHALL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE...THAT'S LOVE
Wed, Dec 3rd - 8:52PM
BOOK OF ISAIAH STUDY
This book is about a man of God in a time when neither priest nor king was a worthy channel through which God’s expressions might flow. So God created prophets through whom He could speak to His people.
Exactly what qualified someone to be considered a prophet of God? Well, my friends, we can read about these qualifications in Deuteronomy 18:20-22 where we find out that if someone spoke words of prophecy that did not come true then they were not speaking on the behalf of God but were speaking on either their own behalf or that of Satan. If the event did not transpire exactly as the prophet predicted he was labeled a false prophet and was treated as such.
We cannot guess the future. The weathermen have trouble predicting our weather accurately past a handful of days ahead of time even with the advantage of all sorts of scientific equipment. The psychics of our day like to impress us with their predictions at the end of each year for what shall happen during the coming new year. But sadly, their efforts fall short of the mark of being prophets. None of these people would survive as a prophet of God.
The law of compound probability forbids man from consistently predicting the future. Each uncertain element which is added decreases our chance of accuracy 50 percent. Thus fulfilled prophecy is one of the infallible proofs of divine inspiration of Scripture. I offer you an illustration: Suppose that I predict that it will rain tomorrow. I now have a 50/50 chance of being correct. Now I will add another element to my prediction and say that it will rain in the morning. That reduces my chances of being correct another 50 percent. I now have a 25 percent chance of being correct. I could now predict that it will begin raining at eleven in the morning and end at 3 in the afternoon. I am now down to at least a 12.5 percent chance of being correct. If I were to add another element, say hailstones will fall at twelve noon, my chances are reduced another 50 percent and I am left with a 6.25 percent chance of being correct in my prediction. That is not a very good chance of being right, my friends. How many more elements need I add before I am statistically never going to see my prediction come true? Not very many.
Why did God give us so many prophecies concerning the first coming of Christ to earth? It was because His coming was such an important event. God did not want the children of Israel to miss Him. God went to such pains to mark Him out so clearly that Israel had no excuse for not recognizing Him when He was here on this earth. When Jesus came to earth more than 1900 years ago, those who had the Old Testament and knew what it said should have been waiting at the inn in Bethlehem or waiting for the news of His birth, because they had all of the information they needed to find Him. When all of the wise men (more than the traditional three I might add) appeared, the Israelites at least should have been interested enough to tag along to see for themselves.
Most of the prophets moved in an aura of obscurity and anonymity. Their personalities were not projected into the prophecy that they proclaimed from God in heaven. Isaiah gives very little history about himself. In the very first verse he gives us the times in which his life was lived. He tells us that he lived during the reigns of Uzziah, Jothan, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, all kings of Judah. He will also give us his personal call and commission.
The book of Isaiah is eerily similar to the organization of the entire Bible. Note the following comparison:
66 Books 66 Chapters
39 Books in Old Testament 39 Chapters of Law, Government of God
27 Books in New Testament 27 Chapters of Grace, Salvation of God
The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (1:1).
This opening chapter is God’s call to the entire universe to come, come into the courtroom to hear His charge against the nation of Israel. The times in which Isaiah lived were filled with tension. Sound kind of familiar? In many ways it was a time of crisis in the history of our world. Again, sound kind of familiar? World-shaking events were taking place. Catastrophic and cataclysmic judgments were taking place. The social order was in total upheaval.
We are informed that what we are about to read about was a vision given to Isaiah concerning Judah and Jerusalem. What might be special about any of the kings mentioned? Uzziah, tenth king of Judah, became a leper because he intruded into the holy place, which even a king was not permitted to do. Jotham, his son who followed him, was a good king. Ahaz, the grandson of Uzziah, was a bad king. Finally, Hezekiah, the last king mentioned, was a good king. He asked for a longer life and God granted him his wish.
Next time I will continue on with the next handful of verses, my friends, and we shall immerse ourselves in this study. Until then, peace and grace of Christ be yours.
Tue, Dec 2nd - 9:43PM
UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS
Eze 37:15 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
Eze 37:16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
Eze 37:17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
Eze 37:18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?
Eze 37:19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.
Eze 37:20 And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.
Eze 37:21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
Eze 37:22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:
Eze 37:23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.
Eze 37:24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.
Eze 37:25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.
Eze 37:26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.
Eze 37:27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Eze 37:28 And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.
Will I succeed at gathering up all of the loose ends that can be found within this study? Probably not since I am not God. I am woefully fallible in my humanity. But as can be seen in the above cited passage from the book of Ezekiel, here is another example of God speaking to one of His prophets long, long ago about the time coming when He would live once again among His people in Jerusalem.
We have the prophet told to write upon two sticks and then hold them together, end to end. God tells this man of God that as these two sticks shall become one, so too shall Israel and Judah become one people in the distant future. God says that He shall gather them from all over the globe and cleanse them of their sins. He shall set one shepherd over them, and He shall establish a covenant of peace with them. These things all speak of Christ Jesus and the redemptive work that he accomplished on the Cross. Jesus is our Shepherd, we are His sheep. He reconciled us to Himself through the shedding of His Holy blood upon the cross of shame. We are at peace with God at last. As the prophet Ezekiel was told, this peace covenant shall be eternal.
Then God speaks about how He shall set His sanctuary among the people of God, and also, His tabernacle shall be there among the people of God. This something that shall then exist forevermore. That speaks of eternity, my friends. It speaks of Jesus Christ’s second Advent, of His 1,000 year rule prior to the Great White Throne judgment of mankind and the ushering in of eternity with God amongst us. All of the chaotic, catastrophic events that must unfold in our future are necessary, they are birthing pains. They are unavoidable and we cannot alter their coming. The only thing over which we have control in our lives is choosing whether we will trust in Christ, or not. We can choose to live our lives differently than everyone else around us, or not. God wants us to be as “signs” to everyone around us, just as Ezekiel was meant to be in his time. Choose to trust in Christ, beloved, and God will use each of us to glorify Himself and to prove to the world that He is God of Creation.
Ought we to run around trying to catch glimpses of the Virgin Mary somewhere? No, we are not to do so. Shall we be moved by claims that Jesus Christ has been spotted in some city across the globe from us? No, we are not to be so. We are to know, and understand the Word of God. We are to walk by faith, and trust in what God has already said to us in His Word. We are to treat others as we would like to be treated; we are to love others as ourselves; we are to be advocates for the less fortunate; we are to ready ourselves and our children for the coming times when our faith will be sorely tested by Satan and his demons when they are given control over this planet. Why else would God tell us to cloth ourselves in the armor of Himself? If we study those passages in Ephesians we can find our path:
Eph 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
Eph 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Eph 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Eph 6:19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
Eph 6:20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak
This passage encompasses so many things for me. It tells me to cloth myself in Christ Jesus. It tells me to get as close to Him as I possibly can. It tells me that I must always be on my guard against Satan. Satan is real, and he is wanting to mess me up in my Christian walk. It tells me that I am to be standing up, to understand that I do not have conflicts with people but with spiritual powers that influence and control people. It tells me to be armed with the Word of God which can’t happen if I do not study it on a regular basis. My feet are not to be quick to go to war with anyone, but to seek out peace if at all possible. This does not mean that I am to be gullible and trust what people tell me all of the time. It tells me that there will be much persecution and tribulation in my life if I elect to follow Christ closely but that if I cloth myself in Christ I will persevere in truth when the evil day comes. It tells me that I must pray for all of the saints of Christ, wherever they may be found on this planet. I must be awake, alert, and ready to defend the saints from demonic assault. And above all else, I must never, ever forget that I am an ambassador for Christ Jesus. That I am His bondservant, bought and paid for with His Holy blood and that I must pray that He supply me with the words that He wishes to be spoken is a foregone conclusion at this point.
I offer up this entire passage of scripture from Ephesians 6 to each and every person that stops and reads this post. I pray that you make it a vital part of who you are and of who your children are. Forget the holiday traditions of mankind. Start some new traditions of God, make a stand for truth, for righteousness, for ethics, for morality, and for peace. Let each of us begin to teach others this holiday season what true love means. Let each of us begin to show others what true love means. Let’s bring a smile to God’s face, perhaps He will say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant!”
Well, that concludes this particular study of the Last Days. There are many more verses that could be included into a study of this magnitude but I elected to not cover them at this time.
Next time I will begin a verse by verse study of the book of Isaiah. It is an Old Testament prophetical book recording what transpired during a decadent time in history. I think that we all will greatly enjoy studying this book and that much can, and will, be learned as we go along. Until then, my friends, peace and grace of God be with you.
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