Thu, Dec 31st - 9:42AM
Book of Isaiah Study
In this third and final division of the Book of Isaiah we can find a threefold division which is marked with the words, "There is no peace, says the Lord, unto the wicked." The first part of this last division highlighted the comfort of Jehovah which came through the Servant. Now in chapter 49 begins the second part which could be called the salvation of Jehovah which came through the suffering Servant. Please note the capitalization of servant here.
This chapter begins a movement toward a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ as the suffering Servant of God. We have been moving toward this revelation from the very beginning, but we were seeing Him as a silhouette in the background as the Servant who brought comfort to God's People. We shall see that as we get closer and closer to chapter 53 Christ becomes clearer and clearer to us.
Israel had been the servant of Jehovah but had failed in its mission. Now God speaks of another Servant, and that Servant is Christ Jesus, the second part of the Trinity. Most prophetic Scriptures dually speak of Israel and Christ Jesus with Jesus being the fulfillment of the prophecy in question each time. An example would be Hosea 11:1 where nation Israel did come out of Egypt but Christ also came out of Egypt as a child and was the Son of God. Nation Israel failed in their service, but the Servant who came out of the nation will succeed.
Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, you people, from far; The Lord has called Me from the womb; from the bowels of My mother has He made mention of My name(49:1).
Do not be mistaken here, these are not the words of Isaiah being spoken to the nations of the world, but the very words of Jesus Christ! We are listening in on a discourse by Christ as authentic as any discourse that the apostles listened to Him give in Galilee. In all of the other religions of our world there is nothing that corresponds to this discourse of Christ's. This Servant of God looks at our world as the Savior of the world. Most other religions are confined to an ethnic group or several ethnic groups. Only recently, as our media industry has gone global, have these religions become more widely spread out over the world. By recently I mean the last 40 years. Before the 1960's most Eastern religions were exactly that, Eastern. Their deities were local, or regional at best. However. the Deity in the Word of God is the living God, the Creator of the universe and the Redeemer of mankind. That fact makes this discourse remarkable!
And He has made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand has He hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in His quiver has he hid me(49:2).
Isaiah was fashioned by God into a sharp sword and the prophet was protected by God in order to serve Him to the utmost. But we must not lose sight of the fact that the sharp sword in actuality is the Word of God. Isaiah spoke it from hearing it directly from God, today we speak it from reading it in God's Word.
And said unto me, You are My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified(49:3).
The nation may have failed utterly in its mission as the servant of God in a lost world, however, from out of the nation would arise One who would glorify Jehovah for eternity. This One was Christ Jesus.
Then I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the Lord; and my work with my God(49:4).
Here we see Isaiah responding to what God has said to him. The prophet felt that he had labored in vain, accomplishing nothing. Do we ever feel that way today, beloved? We work and strive to spread the Word and to invite others to come and hear the Good News of Salvation through Christ, but few ever come. It is frustrating. When we become utterly exhausted from our efforts we then begin thinking, from time to time, that we are accomplishing little. And yet, we need to always remember that our judgment is with the Lord and our work with Him. We must do all our work as if Christ is the one asking us to do these things.
Did Christ succeed at rallying all the nation to accept Him? Was He able to persuade all Jews that He was their long-awaited Messiah? Christ Jesus did not falter because He kept His confidence in Jehovah. Even His death was a victory, in fact, there has never been a more important victory since then.
At Christ's first coming He did not gather Israel, as they chose to reject Him, except for a remnant. Christ did something much greater: He wrought salvation for the entire world. God's plans were not prevented, or ruined, by man's deviousness.
And now, says the Lord that formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob again to Him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength(49:5).
We see Isaiah fully aware of the fact that God knows each person from the womb. Isaiah had already been picked by God to become His servant. That purpose was to bring Jacob back to Jehovah through the words God gave to Isaiah. This verse speaks to both Isaiah being glorious in the eyes of God and Christ Jesus who is "God's Glory." We today, as we do what Christ desires us to do in His name, become glorious in His eyes. Our God is our strength in these current days in which we live, just as He was to Isaiah.
I shall stop there for today. I pray that you all have a safe and happy New Year's Eve. God willing, we shall all meet here again to study His Word. Grace and peace be with you all!
Mon, Dec 28th - 9:08PM
Book of Isaiah Study
I pray that the Lord does not lay upon me the need to post anymore extremely difficult messages! Let us return to our study of Isaiah.
Hearken unto Me, O Jacob and Israel, My called; I am He; I am the first, I also am the last(48:12).
We encounter here what seems to be God speaking to the remnant of believers within the nation. He refers to them as "My called" and identifies Himself as the first and the last, which forces us to recall the same identification of Christ in the Book of Revelation. He would appear to be directing these comments to those who have not run after idolatry.
Mine hand also has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.
All you, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them has declared these things? The LORD has loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans.
I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous(48:13-15).
Jehovah declares the fact that in the future He shall bring an army led by a man He has chosen to exact judgment upon the Babylonians/Chaldeans. Did any soothsayer or astrologer make such bold predictions a hundred years before this was to happen? No. No man had the ability to do so. As always, God speaks and it becomes so. No man can prevent it from coming to pass. No amount of ignoring it as a possibility, or scoffing at it as lunacy, may slow down or derail God's plans. Once spoken by Him they shall come to pass at the time appointed by Him.
Come you near unto me, hear you this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and His spirit, have sent me(48:16).
And here we find that Isaiah becomes God's messenger. He declares that God has chosen him and sent him to deliver this message to the people of the nation, that they may be informed people of the coming future. We can see the switching back and forth from Isaiah to Christ Jesus preincarnate. The first and the last speaks and then Isaiah pleads with his people to listen, to hearken unto the Lord in these matters. God has not been able to bless the nation Israel to the fullness of His promise, and you and I have never been blessed as much as God would like to bless each of us. Whose fault is it? Is it God's fault? No, it is our own fault for not trusting completely in Him and doing all of His good works that He has already laid out for us since before Creation was begun.
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD your God which teaches you to profit, which leads you by the way that you should go.
O that you had hearkened to My commandments! then had your peace been as a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea:
Your seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of your bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before Me(48:17-19).
Isaiah brings this message to his people. What was true for them centuries ago, it is still true for us today. God teaches us to profit and leads us by the way that we ought to go. If the Israelites had heeded God they would have been able to witness their justness swelling as the breakers upon the sea. The peace that they would have experienced would have been as a river as it flows down towards the sea. If they had done as they ought to have, the people would not have ended up separated from God. Their choices brought down divine judgment upon them all.
Go you forth of Babylon, flee you from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare you, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say you, The LORD has redeemed His servant Jacob.
|And they thirsted not when He led them through the deserts: He caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: He clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.|
There is no peace, says the LORD, unto the wicked(48:20-22).
Upon being released from captivity in the future, the nation is told to sing about how Jehovah has redeemed them all as they leave through the gates of Babylon. Then Isaiah concludes this section with a solemn note from God: There is no peace unto the wicked. God alone can give out true peace. The lost person cannot find peace in the world. All of our recorde history indicates that peace cannot be manufactured by us. Violence and bloodshed are natural to us. Prejudice and gluttony are natural to us. Being peaceful is not natural to any of us. Only through Christ's blood and the power of God's Holy Spirit can we gain any measure of peace during our lifetimes upon this earth before His return.
That ends chapter 48 of Isaiah and leads us on to the next chapter. The next chapter's theme is one of a discourse of Christ to the world at large and a discussion of Jehovah with Israel, the nation. Until then, God willing, be at peace with God and all whom you come into contact with. Study to show yourself to be approved of God, the author and finisher of your faith.
Mon, Dec 28th - 4:24PM
Which Bible is the Real Word of God?
After spending some time browsing the internet I have concluded that very many people, from all walks of life, have no clear idea on which version of Bible is the real Word of God. I am going to attempt to shed some light upon this subject in order to diminish the attacks upon the authenticity of His Word.
Outside of the fact that unbelievers scoff at the idea that any god would give us instructions on how to live, the fact remains that among believers there is great controversy over which translation is the inspired Word of God. Most believers agree that it must be the "inspired" words of God Himself. This doctrinal concept is voiced in II Timothy 3:16: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." The issue then is one of preservation, of purity. Has God preserved His Word down through the ages even to our day? If we agree that the Bible must remain perfect, then we must decide which translation reflects that fact. This issue of preservation is addressed in Psalm 12:6-7: "The words of the Lord are pure words...Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever."
So, do we have the absolutely perfect Word of God today and if we have the inerrant Word of God, which Bible is it? Logic dictates that two opposing views cannot both be true. If one is true, then the other must be false.
Why is it so important that the Word of God be perfect and true? Let me ask this simple question: How are we saved? The Bible says: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man shold boast(Ephesians 2:8-9)." So we are saved through faith. Then how do we get faith? In Romans 10:17 we find this: "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." and then in I Peter 1:23: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever."
This process of faith comes about through faith. Faith is gained by hearing, and hearing comes about by the Word of God which is eternal. God's grace saves us through our faith and not from how many good deeds we manage to do. Becoming born again requires faith from hearing God's eternal Word. I will not digress into how this process works to save a person, that is for later.
Once we declare ourselves to believe Christ and that we stand on His side we have an enemy, Satan, who will do whatever is necessary to try and get us to recant our faith in Christ. This is open warfare in the spiritual realm and it overflows into our natural world affecting millions of people. II Timothy 2:3 says: You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." This isn't physical warfare, it is spiritual and your soul is the prize up for grabs. Since we are involved in battles, God gives us armor for protection as shown in Ephesians 6:16: "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."
We see that we have some defensive tools, do we also have an offensive weapon? God's Word informs us that we have a sword which we must wield in this spiritual battle. Ephesians 6:17 says: "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." And over in Hebrews 4:12a we find: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword..."
Now if our sword is the Word of God, how important is it for this tool to be accurate, inerrant, and true? I would hazzard to say that it is crucial for it to be perfect and inerrant in its entirety. So what would be the easiest method for Satan to cripple his enemy? Full facial onslaughts using excessive force? Or would it be so much simpler to just falsify the sword being used? If he could falsify God's Word so much that no one trusted it to be true, wouldn't that win the day for him? Sure it would. No one would even fight him for they would not believe he even existed, and if they thought that he existed they would not believe that there was anything in the world to help them resist him. What a nice strategy!
So am I saying that some "bibles" are not really the Bible anymore? Yes. Am I saying that there are really "counterfeit" bibles being sold today? Yes. I am not saying that people who read and study these bibles are bad or wicked people. They probably do not even stop and think about whether or not it is accurate and true. You are probably asking yourself, "So what Bible do you think is the real Word of God?" Let's consider that question next.
The King James Version was translated from what is called the "Textus Receptus." These manuscripts are the majority of Greek manuscripts which agree with each other and have been accepted by believers down through the centuries. It is from these that the King James Bible was translated back in 1611. Yes, King James was rebelling against the Roman Catholic Church and wanted to have things his way, but he did comission this work in order to establish the differences between the Catholic version of the bible against what the Apostles had preached during the first century. There were other versions that differed significantly from what had been previously preached by the Apostles and this work of 1611 set the standard for them as well.
There are a handful of "corrupted" manuscripts, known as the Alexandrian manuscripts. These, many times, do not agree with each other let alone the KJV. The Vaticanus and Siniaticus manuscripts are a part of this corrupted group. These manuscripts are the ones that Westcott and Hort and the modern versions rely so heavily upon. Here are some facts: approximately 5309 surviving Greek manuscripts contain all or part of the New Testament. These agree some 95% of the time. The other 5% accounts for the differences between the KJV and the other modern versions. These authors had to use the Textus Receptus for their base for building their newer versions. But when this text disagreed with the Vaticanus or the Siniaticus texts they preferred the corrupted texts over the Receptus. Basically all disagreements arise from changes made by either Marcion(120-160 A.D.) or Origin (184-254 A.D.).
So there are differences, but why are there differences?
There are those 5309 Greek manuscripts AND there are translations in other languages which date back to within 100 years of the Apostles. One example is the Peshitta, a Syrian translation from the second century.
So how can we figure out what is correct in the 5% of the scriptures where the manuscripts do not agree?
The great majority of Greek manuscripts agree together. In 1516 Erasmus compiled, edited, and printed the Greek "Textus Receptus." This is the text that the Protestants of the reformation knew to be the Word of God. One argument is this: The oldest surviving manuscripts must be the most reliable. Therefore the Vaticanus and Siniaticus should be accepted as correct even when the majority of texts disagree with them. The other argument is this: Those texts which disagree with the majority need to be discarded as being undependable, especially when they disagree with each other some 3,000 times in the gospels alone. Logic dictates that they cannot both be correct and still be replacements for the Received Text by Erasmus.
What are some of the problems with the Vaticanus Text? Despite being in excellent condition in the Vatican Library, it omits Genesis 1:1-46:28; Psalms 106-138; Matthew 16:2-3; the epistles of Paul; Hebrews 9:14-13:25; and all of Revelation. It also contains the Apocrypha. It was found in 1481 in the Vatican Library.
The Siniaticus text was found in 1844 in a trash pile inside St. Catherine's Monestary near Mt. Sinai. It contains nearly all of the New Testament plus the "Shepherd of Hermes" and the "Epistle of Barnabas." John Burgon wrote about its unreliability: "Letters, words or even whole sentences are frequently written twice over, or begun and immediately canceled; while that gross blunder, whereby a clause is omitted because it happens to end in the same words as the clause proceeding, occurs no less than 115 times in the New Testament." There are also corrections and revisions on nearly every page, most made in the 6th or 7th century.
These two codexes are the oldest, but they are not the most reliable nor are they the best to use. What are some clues found in our modern versions that alert us to these "differences?" In the footnotes various comments can be seen, such as "Some of the oldest mss, do not contain vv. 9-20," or "This verse not found in the most ancient authorities." These are instances of where the author/s took their information from the corrupted texts rather than from the accepted text. The oldest texts are not necessarily the best ones.
Another instance of differences is that both the Vaticanus and Siniaticus texts omit the last twelve verses of Mark, which concerns the resurrection of Christ. This is a rather important omission since without a resurrection Christ would still be in the grave and we would not have eternal life in Him.
In the New American Standard Bible these same verses in Mark appear in brackets, saying that these verses probably were not in the original writings. Of sourse, this brings to mind Romans 1:22 and 25a: "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools...Who changed the truth of God into a lie..." In a court of law, if you had over six hundred witnesses that saw something happen, and you had a couple of witnesses that said they saw nothing happen; whose testimony would the court believe?
I am not posting this in any spirit of bitterness or anger. I just want the truth to be known. How can we experience the power of John 8:32 if we do not believe that the Word of God is true and inerrant?
Why all of the attacks and questioning of the virgin birth of Christ, the deity of Christ, the infallibility of the Bible, and the doctrine of salvation by faith and the Trinity? It appears to center upon the writings of one Origin who wrote commentaries on most of the books of the Bible. He had established a school in Alexandria, Egypt. He did not believe that the Bible was the infallible Word of God and thus he felt free to change it if he didn't like what it had to say. For instance, Origin applied the idea of Logos Doctrine to Christ. This concept is found in John 1:1-5 and this man decided to apply the thought to Christ's person and work. Subordinating the Son to the Father, he treated Christ as the Logos(created by God) who brings reason to the world. In this treatment he neglected the figure of Jesus Christ as a man who lived and taught on earth. This entrie doctrine created by Origin provided the future foundation for the fourth century Arian doctrine. It can still be found within Seventh Day Adventist and Jehovah Witnesses doctrines where they believe Christ to not have deity, that he is an angelic being elevated to higher status than the rest. They teach that Christ was created before all of the rest of Creation, that he is "the first fruits" of all of creation. It is clearly a corrupted interpretation of scripture which has led to this faulty viewpoint on Christ's deity. And it comes to us from Alexandria via the pen of Origin who was not a Christian.
Origin did not even believe that Jesus lived physically upon earth! Incidentally, Origin did not get his corrupted thoughts from John 1:1-5, he reinterpreted them to say "the word was a god."
Why don't more church leaders use the King James Version? There are many reasons offered up over the years. One that I heard a lot some twenty years ago was that it was too hard to understand what it was saying. Huh? What kind of excuse is that? Another reason for not using the KJV is that in seminaries students of the Word are told that we do not have the perfect Word of God so it does not matter which bible we use. Perhaps the leaders simply are ignorant of the truth for they have never checked things out personally. Or they may realize that some translations are not the Word of God because of changes made wholesale to what is in it, but they are afraid of speaking out against them because it is "unpopular."
Why would translators deliberately omit key scripture or question the authenticity of entire books? Some translators do not believe in the Word of God and thus could care less what changes are made within it. Others are not Christians in truth but only in name and do not think it of any importance. More have simply accepted what their teachers have taught them in seminary and do not question any of it.
Mr. Hort made many comments that would indicate his non-Christian beliefs: "Evangelicals seem to me perverted rather than untrue..." "I have been persuaded for many years that Mary-worship and Jesus-worship have very much in common." "The popular doctrine of substitution is an immoral and material counterfeit."
Mr. Westcott's comments are similar: "I wish I could see to what forgotten truth Mariolatry bears witness." "No one now, I suppose, holds that the first three chapters of Genesis, for example, gives a literal history."
Who were these two men of whom I have mentioned more than once? They were professors at Cambridge University who lived in the late 1800's. They did not like the KJV so they wrote their own revised Greek Text. At age 23 Westcott felt that the Textus Receptus was vile.
These two men are important for the text that they created is the one that became the basis for the Revised Standard and many other modern bibles. Mr. Hort felt that to forsake the sacraments would force God to forsake us.
Here are some comments from Professor C. H. Dodd who was the director of translation of the New English Bible. "The old dogmatic view of the Bible therefore, is not only open to attack from the standpoint of science and historical criticism, but if taken seriously it becomes a danger to religion and public morals." How could it be a danger to public morals? "God is the author, not of the Bible but of the life in which the authors of the Bible partake, and of which they tell in such imperfect human words as they could command." In essence, God did not inspire any of the Bible, it was written by imperfect men who did so as best they could. This man also felt that the entire Book of Revelation was sub-Christian in its tone and outlook. Huh? It all appears to be an effort orchestrated by Satan to make what is evil in God's sight to be considered to be good. What is good is made to be thought of as evil and to be done away with.
Here is a wee bit of logic applied to this issue:
FACT: The King James Bible is different from the other modern translations.
FACT: The Revised Greek Text is different from the Textus Receptus in 5,337 places.
FACT: The modern translators admit that they are different.
FACT: The modern translations downgrade or deny the deity of Christ, the virgin birth of Christ, the blood atonement of Christ, the resurrection of Christ and the reliability of the Word of God.
If we allow all of these downgrades or denials of Christ, what are we left with to believe in? Where is there any hope? Where is there any salvation from sin? Looking to I Thessalonians 2:13: "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when you received the word of God which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God..." we clearly see Paul telling them, and us, that the words being written down upon the page were not Paul's but those of God Himself. Upon accepting that the King James Bible of 1611 is the authentic Word of God we can then accept that it is true and perfect. We can go into the Psalms and find verses that attest to this fact, Psalm 19:7-8 being just one example of this. Can God lie to us? Titus 1:2 would put this thought to rest as it tells us that God cannot lie. This all brings us down to having to make one of three possible choices:
#1 The King James Version(from the Textus Receptus) is the real Word of God.
#2 The modern translations are the Word of God.
#3 Neither is the perfect Word of God. We do not have the perfect Word of God today. They are both wrong.
If we choose the third option, then God is a liar for He promised that we would have His Word forever(Isaiah 40:8; Luke 21:33). God cannot contradict Himself, so one of the remaining options must be right, the other must be wrong.
I would, finally, point out that there is only one version currently on the market without a copyright on it. That is the King James Version Bible. All others have been written by men who required that a copyright be place upon their efforts. No one may copy material from out of their bibles without permission. Not so with the KJV bible. Scofield's Bible has copyrights on the study notes, but not on the scriptures.
In conclusion, it takes guts to stand up and defend what is true these days. I stand upon these verses: "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth...(Ephesians 6:14)" "Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth(John 17:17)" "Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man come to the Father, but by me(John 14:6)" Why should I accept to drink the spoiled, diluted, fake, "milk" of the modern versions? "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby(I Peter 2:2)."
We need to remember the words of Deuteronomy 6:6-7 and teach God's Word to our children and grandchildren each and every day that we have opportunity. It is to be done at mealtimes, during leisure activities, and while comforting sorrows and hurts.
Make no mistake. Satan is succeeding at disarming believers all over the world. He is taking away our faith, our salvation, our defense, our hope. He leaves us with despair, despondency, distraction, and depression. He removes all joy from our hearts and lives. He corrupts our belief in God and replaces it with doubt in anything supernatural. In Russia and China bibles are still outlawed to their people, in America we are drowning in fake bibles which teach the partial truth.
Very many people accept the modern versions and reject the KJV Bible. Does that make them correct? No, it does not for the Word of God still says: "Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it(Matthew 7:13-14)." Admittedly, this speaks more of finding Christ Jesus as the way to eternal life but it also speaks to us regarding finding faith to begin with. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God. If I do not have the accurate Word, how can I then expect to obtain any faith from it? Narrow indeed is the way, for it leads to reading the KJV in order to get faith.
Here are a few more examples of what gets taken out/changed in other versions. In the Good News Bible they remove mention of "blood" in Matthew 27:4, 27:24, 27:25, Acts 5:28, 20:28, Romans 3:25, 5:9, Ephesians 1:7, 2:13, and many more. In the Revised Standard Version they teach salvation by works in John 3:36 and I Peter 2:2.
I could also extend my logic by asking you if you would be willing to drink a glass of water each day that has only one tablespoon of arsenic in it? It would mostly be pure water, just like the Bible versions of today so why not be willing to consume that as well? Each affects your well-being, just in different ways. Notice in Matthew 4:4 it says: "Jesus said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." We cannot afford to throw away words and phrases from out of the Bible just because we do not understand what they are saying. We must strive to come to understand them, all of them. They are life to us. If we claim to be confused by the myriad versions of bibles out there, then doesn't it behoove us to discover which one is the truth? Then we would no longer be confused. Chaos would be replaced by order, falsehood replaced by truth. Satan would be replaced by Christ.
Brothers and sisters, we do have God's Holy Word today! It is perfect, without spot or blemish. It is inerrant and eternal. If you do not believe that then you are calling God a liar, and you have nothing to hope in. You will have to answer to God for your unbelief. I must speak the truth to you otherwise I will be forced to answer to God for my failure to do so. Go in grace and peace, may Christ bless you abundantly today!
Sat, Dec 26th - 4:52PM
Book of Isaiah Study
The Messiah brings peace, but those who reject Him will never achieve peace. In this book, God is traveling the lonely road to Calvary.
Hear you this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness(48:1).
For anyone who claims that Judah and Israel are two different peoples, this verse would indicate that they are wrong in their allegations. The entire house of Israel is addressed here and they belong to the chosen line through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Everyone today ought to heed this final injunction to repent and turn back to God. If these people were personally chosen by God to worship Him and merely spoke His name and did not do so in truth or a just way, then how much more so today are we held accountable on the exact same account? Christ has chosen each of us as believers to worship Him in truth and in spirit. If we do not respect God and worship Him as we ought to, then we have fallen into the same boat as these ancient Israelites. Anything less merely creates a religion without any strength. No solution to problems will be forth coming from any government or organization. Help will come when we turn to God.
For they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; The Lord of hosts is His name(48:2).
These Israelites boasted of living in the holy city of Jerusalem and of being descendents of Abraham their father. But they only have this in name, they are actually distant strangers to Jehovah. This same sort of boasting takes place today, beloved. People strut about and showcase their denomination, or their places of worship, or their tithing, or their attendance at worship services. Some donate large amounts of money to facilitate erecting large complexes with their names upon them simply to stroke their egos, although they vehemently deny any such allegations. Yes, some good things do come about through their charity efforts, however, all of the spiritual power is gone from the action because of their heartfelt motivation.
I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of My mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass.
Because I knew that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew, and your brow brass(48:3-4);
From the very outset God knew that the Israelites were a stiffnecked people. He did not handpick them because they were superior to everyone else. Nor has He chosen believers in Christ today because we are superior to anyone. We have been chosen because of God's grace and because He saw our great need. We also are reminded of the fact that everything that God sets out to do is accomplished. He fails at nothing.
I have even from the beginning declared it to you; before it came to pass I showed it you: lest you should say, Mine idol has done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, has commanded them.
|You have heard, see all this; and will not you declare it? I have shown you new things from this time, even hidden things, and you did not know them.|
They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when you heard them not; lest you should say, Behold, I knew them.
Yes, you heard not; yes, you knew not; yes, from that time that your ear was not opened: for I knew that you would deal very treacherously, and was called a transgressor from the womb(48:5-8).
God points out to them that He has done many things and declared them ahead of time so that the people could not claim that their idols did them.
For My name's sake will I defer Mine anger, and for My praise will I refrain for you, that I cut you not off.
Behold, I have refined you, but not with silver; I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction.
For Mine own sake, even for Mine own sake, will I do it: for how should My name be polluted? and I will not give My glory unto another(48:9-11).
Just as God tells the Israelites that He has chosen them for good works, so too, He has chosen believers today to do His good works in the world. Just as He refined them through affliction He shall refine us today the same way. And He does it for His sake. We do the good works in His name and give Him all of the honor and glory, keeping none for ourselves.
That is all for today my friends. God willing, next time I shall look at God's call to the remnant of believers. Until then I pray that each of you receive strength, endurance, and more faith so that you may reach that goal at the end of your race.
Fri, Dec 25th - 8:35PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Hola! I trust that all had a most blessed Christmas. I pray that all who are out traveling this day, and into the weekend, will have safe travels. Let us resume our study, shall we?
But these two things shall come to you in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon you in their perfection for the multitude of your sorceries, and for the great abundance of your enchantments.
For you have trusted in your wickedness: you have said, None sees me. Your wisdom and your knowledge, it has perverted you; and you have said in your heart, I am, and none else beside me(47:9-10).
We are able to directly apply these two verses to our society today. There is always a danger, a very grave danger, of a nation or a man being elevated by pride and feeling that they are able to make it on their own efforts. Americans live in a country where a person can become rich, not by doing some great service or by making a contribution to mankind, but by being in an industry that brings people down, degrades them instead of building them up. Consider the billions of dollars that are being accumulated through entertainment and sports. Ponder the multitudes who are getting rich through the sale of alcoholic beverages. As a nation we are involved in many questionable industries, and our methods of business are not always honorable. We inevitably pay the price of not correcting these business methods and/or disallowing some of these industries to even exist. Why can't we stand up and simply say, "Enough is enough!" I do not wish my children to be subjected to sexual inuendo every night on public television or to be subjected to soft pornographic video by Victoria's Secret. Is this really necessary, or could we be more responsible adults and protect our children much better? At any rate, the consequences of these actions shall be reaped by us all as a society, just as it happened to the Babylonians back in ancient times. The Babylonians trusted in their wickedness, in their power and might, all to no avail. We, today, rely too much upon our scientific knowledge and not enough upon God and His wisdom and might. There will be consequences to doing so.
Therefore shall evil come upon you; you shall not know from where it rises: and mischief shall fall upon you; you shall not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon you suddenly, which you shall not know.
Stand now with your enchantments, and with the multitude of your sorceries, wherein you have labored from your youth; if so be you shall be able to profit, if so be you may prevail(47:11-12).
Through Isaiah God sends the prophecy of sudden, unexpected judgment of Babylon. God challenges these people to rely upon their sorceries and rituals to defend them against any foe. These were people who had spent entire lifetimes perfecting their knowledge and becoming supremely confident in their abilities. Does this sound at all familiar of our current scientific community?
You are wearied in the multitude of your counsels. Let now the atrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save you from these things that shall come upon you(47:13).
People all over our world are increasingly relying upon astrology to discover what will happen to them in the near and distant future. They are organizing their lives according to what psychics and astrologists are telling them. Will I find true love? Will I gain wealth and fame? Should I date this person, or not? Should I change jobs? Which job is the right one for me? People are searching for hope, security, and direction in a world whose daily pace is ever faster and more hectic. A remnant of people choose Christ for their direction and hope; the remainder choose charlatans and con artists. It was James Moffat who once said, "A man's treatment of money is the most decisive test of his character---how he makes it and how he spends it." Those who waste their money giving it to others expecting them to give advice on future events show their character. No man on earth knows what tomorrow will bring for himself, let alone anyone else. People scoff at my belief in God but think it alright for others to believe that the stars in the universe contain insider information on my future choices in life? Who is being truly foolish here?
I say here and now, the time comes when all of these charlatans will be put to public shame when they utterly fail to predict the day of Christ's return. There is no doubt. They can scurry about trying to figure out the exact date and time of His return to judge the earth, but it is futile. We cannot know. Only God has appointed the time from before the world was even created. His wisdom operates effectively here, not ours.
Confusion characterizes Babylon at this time. This city lives up to its name which means "confusion." That imperious city depended upon its economic strength and its total gross product. But it was dying from within. Americans today are living in a nation that depends upon its vibrant economic strength, but something is also wrong with us, and we simply won't face up to it. The problem is morality. As a nation we have departed from worshipping and following the living and true God. Ancient Babylon, seemingly unrelated to America, has a message for us. The stones of the debris of that city cry out a warning to Americans. Will we hear? Will we listen and learn?
Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.
Thus shall they be unto you whom you have labored, even your merchants, from your youth: they shall wander every one to his quarter, none shall save you(47:14-15).
The Babylonians would be consumed as by fire, utterly destroyed. Isaiah was being informed by God that it mattered not how long they had been in captivity, it was going to come to an end when God decided that it was to be finished.
That completes chapter 47. The next chapter's theme is that of a last call to the house of Jacob; and a longing call by God to His remnant of believers. God willing, I shall begin chapter 48 tomorrow where we shall find reference made to Christ the Messiah. Until then, grace and peace of our Lord and Savior be with each of you and your loved ones. May you come to trust completely in Christ and turn your life over into His infinite care.
Wed, Dec 23rd - 9:34PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Shall we get back to our study of Isaiah? Let's begin digging into the decline and fall of great Babylon!
Come down, and sit in the dist, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for you shall no more be called tender and delicate(47:1).
Here we find the command comes from God to Babylon, the same as a dog is called by its master to obedience. The leash has been flexed and the wicked are to be judged by the Master. In this same fashion Lord Jesus dealt with the wind storm upon the sea of Galilee. He spoke the word and commanded the storm to be still. This same thought shows through here in Isaiah. The time was coming when Babylon the great would be judged by God and brought low.
The term "virgin" seemingly is used here for Babylon had as yet not been captured by any enemy. It had had a very long history(see Genesis 10 & 11) that went back to Nimrod and the Tower of Babel. We can also see reference made to them having arisn from out of the ancient Chaldeans.
Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover your locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers(47:2).
This verse depicts, pictures, the humiliation to which these people were to be subjected. They had mistreated the Israelis and the day came when they were brought down.
Nudity has become rather popular today. People play with the matter like some child playing with a new toy, never cognizant that it degrades humanity. They think that they lose nothing in the process of showing themselves off in such fashion. They think that they are being shocking, cutting-edge, rebels, open-minded; but they never stop to consider that they are debasing themselves and showing a total lack of self-worth. They pander to their lusts and have given in to their personal temptations.
Your nakedness shall be uncovered, yes, your shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet you as a man(47:3).
God wants Babylon to know why this is happening to it. God does not want these people to continue on believing that their behavior is just fine.
As for our redeemer, the LORD of hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel.
You, sit silent, and get you into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for you shall no more be called, The lady of kingdoms.
I was wroth with My people, I have polluted Mine inheritance, and given them into your hand: you did not show them mercy; upon the ancient have you very heavily laid your yoke(47:4-6).
These verses reveal the fact that God delivered Israel into Babylon's clutches because He was angry with the people of Israel over their continued wickedness and idolatry. God permitted the captivity, not that Babylon was superior in nature. The Babylonians erred in giving themselves credit for overthrowing Israel. Jehovah delivered His people into the hands of Babylon because they had sinned against Him. This was His judgment of His own people.
And you said, I shall be a lady for ever: so that you did not lay these things to your heart, neither did you remember the latter end of it (47:7).
God's judgment of Israel deceived the Babylonians. They thought it was by their might and power that they had taken this people as captives and a spoil. They thought that they were to rule forever as a royal empire, they forgot some rather important things. God issues a reminder to them.
Therefore hear now this, you that are given to pleasures, that dwell carelessly, that say in your heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children(47:8).
God addresses their arrogance. They felt that no one else was as mighty as they and they became careless in their attitudes and behavior. King Nebuchadnezzar was sent by God out into the field like an ox to eat grass for a number of years. He suffered from what we probably today would call insanity. For a long time he did not even know who he was, and he lived like an animal. He suffered through God's judgment upon him. It is enough to make one ponder how many people today are likewise suffering through God's judgment upon them.
That is all for today beloved. God willing, next time I shall look at some details for the coming destruction of this great city. Until then, may you have the grace and peace of Christ upon you and that you may experience the Sabbath rest of Christ in your life.
Tue, Dec 22nd - 8:32PM
Where do They Intend to Take Us?
This is a political piece that I posted to Yahoo Answers earlier today in slightly different form.
Why would anyone believe that America is becoming socialist in nature? By looking closely at the definition of socialism I see this: 1. any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. 2. a system of society or group living in which there is no private property; a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state. 3. a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.
Just pondering all of that definition's scope and overlaying it onto today's political landscape in Washington DC quickly creates some pathways that imply the groundwork for transforming this country into a Marxist state is being laid by the current administration and Congress. We have, over the past year, witnessed the ownership and control of the financial industry, the auto industry, and the insurance industry by our government. The service industry is already in the government's pocket as is the NEA.
Let us consider also the defintion of Marxism: the political, economic, and social principles and policies advocated by Marx; a theory and practice of socialism including the labor theory of value, dialectical materialism, the class struggle, and dictatorship of the proletariat until the establishment of a classless society. Any one have thoughts that the liberal establishment has been pushing steadily for this to happen? If not yet, then let's consider the definition of dialectical materialism: the Marxist theory that maintains the material basis of a reality constantly changing in a dialectical process and the priority of matter over mind. I can see a thread winding through here that puts the material into a higher priority than the mental or spiritual. Let's also add in the defintion of dialectic: 1. logic 2. discussion and reasoning by dialogue as a method of intellectual investigation ; Socratic techniques; the logic of fallacy. 3. the theoretical application of this process especially in the social sciences. 4. the dialectical tension or opposition between two interacting forces or elements. 5. the process of resolving opposed or contrary ideas in conflict.
This is all an intellectually driven process which easily misleads those adhering to its tenets into blindness of the end results. Proponents within the liberal camp will state with confidence that they do not intend to transform this country into a Marxist state. I believe that they believe what they say to be true. But they have no control over this process once it is put into motion. They will not have any power to halt tyranny from taking over. They will have freely given away all of the governmental restraints for keeping civil liberties in the hands of the citizenry. We already witness the academic snobbery raising its ugly head in ridiculing faith in an unseen God. Also in the censoring of opposing points of view within the academic community which now extends all the way down into the gradeschool levels of our public educational system. We are no longer allowed to think freely in America. Political correctness has been with us for several decades now and we have been desensitized to its ultimate intent politically. The latest debacle in the science community regarding compromised data with alleged global warming caused by humanity only reinforces my point here. Academic integrity is suspect. Scientific integrity is suspect. "Expert" commentary is now suspect. We have one politcal party labeling the other party as a party of "no" when, in fact, both are guilty of leading all of us into a future none of us have approved of at the voting booth. The Democratic party leaders blame everything upon the Republicans even while they have a majority vote to pass anything that they desire. Pandering to incite the uninformed masses? Most certainly. Where is the media in all of this? Are they reporting objectively both sides of these issues? Of course not. They are not providing Americans with information that will enable us to make informed decisions. They also incite us to take sides on a partisan basis, polarizing our nation even more over all issues.
So, does our President actually know where he is leading us, or is he a pawn in a much bigger game? Our economy is stretched to the limit, our national budget is stretched thin, we have a shortage of doctors and nurses but we absolutely must add 30 million more people to healthcare coverage. Where do all of the extra medical personnel come from to serve them? Those who cannot afford to pay for it themselves will be given money from out of my pocketbook, simply because the liberals wish to have universal healthcare? That is the only concern on their part here. They are not worrying about lowering the actual cost of health services, simply subsidizing those who meet their guidelines. It is redistribution of wealth within the social classes, which is what socialism and Marxism is all about. I have no problem giving some of my money to those who cannot work due to disability. But why must I give my money to illegal immigrants for their health insurance in this country? Send them all home. Force them to reenter legally. Fix that issue, do not gloss it over by redistributing wealth from legal residents to illegal aliens. The liberals do not respect the residents of America. They wish to create a classless society in which they can obtain their long sought after "Golden Society." The pity is that communism never works in the real world since there are evil men/women who will hijack it and create tyrannies in which all civil liberties are trampled upon. The liberals also favor the belief that people are basically good in their hearts. Christians know otherwise. All of us are capable of being desparately wicked and deceitful. How do I know what is in the hearts of Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Reid, and our President, not to mention the leadership of ACORN?
I caution each and every person who reads this post to sit down and seriously consider what I have written. Determine in your hearts whether I am correct in my personal assessment of where we are headed nationally. I welcome emails, and will answer any and all comments put to me on this particular topic. Take some time and study the history of socialism, Marxism, and communism. Take a look at the theory versus the real-world application nonsuccess stories thus far. But make no mistake here. The conflict is between freedom and bondage. It is between Christ and those who totally reject Christ and His love. Who shall we serve? God or man? The material or the spiritual?
One final thought: Darwin utilized the dialectical approach to his evolutionary theory investigations. He discussed and reasoned with others over his thoughts on evolution. He logically tried to deduce conclusions on his observations of the natural world around him. He ought to have conducted exhaustive experiments to either prove/disprove his theory. Instead he traveled the world searching for evidence that could be used to support his premise. Marx was quite interested in this theory for he could use it to add validity to his theory on the evolution of societies into classless utopias. Many have advocated utopian society, but none have yet been successful, Marx included.
I yield the floor to any who wish to comment. Grace and peace of Christ be with you all!
Mon, Dec 21st - 1:22PM
I would like to think that we have come a long way since hearing the man who defined freedom as the right to tell off your boss, or the liberty to do whatever you feel like. As believers I would hope that each of us have come to the point where we understand, to varying degrees, that "only actions done in God do not bind the soul of a man." It is through this avenue that we can be released from out of captivity into freedom.
It would appear that there are three fundamental needs if a person is to be free: first, they need the capacity to determine their own behavior; also they need the external opportunities to express those purposes; and finally, they need to have an ultimate goal to which they can relate their freedom.
Contrary to popular belief today, freedom does not come from civil liberties and the absence of restraints. Instead, genuine freedom is born inside of a person. It belongs to you because God means for you to be free, like God Himself is free. To be free you must make decisions. Freedom is the capacity to determine your own acts in accordance with what you see to be good. It calls for you to be liberated from slavery to sin and guilt, and also means the liberation from conformity and fear and the mass-mind standards of behavior. Civil liberties can't provide this freedom, and political restrictions can't prevent it. It is a work of God in the souls of people, a work of God alone. Freedom is essentially a faith-based thing.
God stakes everything upon this freedom. Adam and Eve had freedom. Abraham and Sarah had freedom. Lot had freedom. Joseph had freedom. King Saul had freedom. All of the Apostles had freedom. God compels no man, rather He risks and trusts men and women to bring their freedom under control.
Of course, the more blunders that we commit the less control we have over our life. But we are always free to turn to God for forgiveness, for a clean slate, for strength and comprehension. Romans 8:39 warms our hearts when we abuse our freedom. God still loves us and continues to believe in us and expects that we will make the right use of our freedom. We do not need to conform to the mass-mind for the sake of feeling secure. God made us free, that is our security.
We need not fear the accusations of the unbelievers who claim that we are merely becoming puppets of God and in essence become a part of a different mass-minded conformity. Yes, we are to conform our minds to be like Christ's. But we still maintain our own identity even while conforming our thinking and morality to match that of God's. It is here that we can begin to live in freedom through doing those "good deeds" that God has spoken of already having prepared them for us to do.
So we can conclude that freedom in the external and public sense means that the free Christian person, acting out of responsible love for their neighbor, will limit their own "rights" and work to protect the rights of others. Even if this does not lead immediately to establishing civil liberty, this inner concern for others will at least free them from inner compromise and create the external conditions that will lead ultimately to public freedom for all. This requires self-discipline and genuine concern for out neighbor/s.
Thus it is necessary to protect civil liberties. If we permit public officials to select the ideas we may think, censor the views we may express, and choose the groups we may join, then those officials are no longer public servants but public masters. In holding increasing power they will soon become public tyrants. Can you think of a few today in your society? Prevention requires conscientious free people to stand up and speak out for freedom in their daily lives. Educators must defend the right to think and teach despite educational system criticism and restrictions. Since when do legislators or radio commentators or so-called patriotic organizations deserve the right to define loyalty and expect all others to conform to their definition? The press/media must assert its independence and concern itself with the great issues, and let all sides be clearly heard, or else lose freedom by fear and default. The church must lift its voice against the thousand forces which try to choke off nonconformity. Free people must have external opportunities to express their inner freedom.
This all brings us to the third required condition for freedom: a person shall have some ultimate goal to which their freedom is related.
At this point Christianity makes its greatest contribution to freedom. It teaches men to surrender their human wills to the service of fellow men under the guidance of Christ. Such a surrender is the highest form of freedom.
The object of life is not the power to control outer things, but the capacity to find inner integrity which later expresses itself outwardly. The inner integrity requires devotion to Something which is bigger than any person even when they are at the top. We can almost hear God saying to each of us, "You are free to do what you wish. I only hope it will be something that is worthy of that freedom." That is what the Indian father said to his son in Change of Heart.
Scriptures say it for all time, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore...You were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another..." If Christ makes you free, you will be free indeed!
In Christ love,
Fri, Dec 18th - 2:57PM
Lovest Thou Me?
"And it shall be at that day, says the Lord, that you shall call me Ishi; and shall not call Me Baali anymore(Hosea 2:16)."
This is pulled from the edited messages on Hosea by J. Vernon McGee. "Ishi" means "my husband," and "Baali" is connected with Baal and means "my lord or my master." The people of Israel were placing the true God on the level of Baal and were trying to worship both. It is impossible to do this, and God says to them that the day is coming when Israel will call God, "my husband."
We need then to think about this for a minute. The husband relationship implies that which is intimate and personal and is based on love. It is the highest relationship in the human family. The loveliest expression of it is found in the Song of Solomon where the bride says, "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine..."
When you have that relationship in a marriage, you have a happy home. You won't have to attend seminars that instruct you on how to live as man and wife. The secret is love; when you do not have that, you don't have anything. If you have love , you have everything. You can work out your financial problems; you can adjust your personality conflicts; you can work together in dealing with your children if you love each other.
How wonderful is it to have that kind of relationship with God? We can go to the Lord Jesus and say, "I love You. I belong to You." In I Corinthians 3:21-23 we are told by Paul that above all else we are Christ's and Christ is God's. Eternal security flows from out of this concept and love ought to flow freely from out of our understanding of our position in Christ. We must remember that each believer is invited to attend the marriage feast of the Lamb in heaven one day. That is our marriage feast to Christ! He is to be our husband, we are to be His wife!
We must then remember the words found in Matthew 7:21-23 where Christ said that there will be those who will not be recognized by Him even though they go about doing nice things in His name. Doing nice things is not the criteria for getting eternal life in heaven, it is obtaining a personal, intimate relationship with Christ Jesus. We can say a lot of nice sounding things, but it boils down to what Christ said to Simon Peter by the Sea of Galilee, "Lovest thou Me?" Do you love Him?
Thu, Dec 17th - 1:36PM
Before the World Began
"In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began(Titus 1:2)."
Here is a devotional pulled from out of "Days of Praise."
There are some things that God, even in His omnipotence, cannot ever do. He cannot fail in His purposes, He cannot do any wrong, and He cannot lie. Whatever He has promised He will perform.
One of God's most glorious promises is that of eternal life, for this was made even before He made the world, including space and time. But how could anything take place before time began? The same word is used in II Timothy 1:9, "...His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." Again, in Romans 16:25 it speaks of "the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began."
Our minds are locked in space and time, and therefore, we cannot even conceive of anything "beyond space and before time." Still, God is the Creator, and even the worlds were framed by the word of God, as is told in Hebrews 11:3. God created time and space and all the phenomena that exist in time and space, and the fact that we cannot comprehend this simply confirms the Scriptures. "Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counsellor has taught Him(Isaiah 40:13)?" Psalm 139:6 also speaks to this issue of comprehension of God's works.
But what we cannot understand, we simply believe, for God cannot lie. Even though the worlds had a beginning, and our lives each had a beginning, the world will eventually end but our lives need not end, for God will never end! We receive, by faith, His immutable promise of everlasting life, given us in Christ Jesus, according to His own purpose and infinite grace, before this world ever began. Amen!
Wed, Dec 16th - 9:34PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure:
Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executes My counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
Hearken unto Me, you stouthearted, that are far from righteousness:
I bring near My righteousness: it shall not be far off, and My salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel My glory(46:10-13).
We see here the affirmation from God of the fact that He has declared all things to be from the very beginning of creation. He has prophesied of all that shall come to pass in the future. He shall make it happen at the exact time that He has appointed for all things to happen.
We see that nothing will impede God's purpose, nothing that any unbeliever can say, do, or imagine shall prohibit God in the least. It can be seen that God reaches out to the unbeliever, to those far from justness. God says that He shall bring His justness, or justice, and that it shall not take its sweet time in coming. God identifies what shall be brought, how quickly, and where it shall be brought to. He speaks of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
We have come to the beginning now of chapter 47 of the Book of Isaiah. The theme of this chapter is the decline and fall of Babylon. This is the third time in this book that we have been forced to consider the prediction of the doom of this city. At this time in history it was a rather insignificant city which would not become a world power for almost a century more. It had been in existence since the Tower of Babel and had been influential religiously. Babylon became the fountainhead and the mother of idolatry. Throughout the Old Testament prophecies a great deal is said about drunkenness and idolatry. These two things will bring down any nation to this day.
There is a spiritual meaning for us today who have nothing to do with Babylon of the past or of the future. The city of the past lies under the rubble and ruins of judgment. We can still see this Babylonian tendency in the political arena as represented in the United Nations. In the future we shall witness the merging of political and economic forces into a single entity. We are witnessing the economic combine coming to pass in the crumbling down of economic barriers among all of the nations of Europe. We see the religious combine in both Romanism and the World Council of Churches. All is slowly but steadily moving in one direction only: global government.
That is all for tonight, beloved. God willing, next time I shall begin covering the initial verses that reveal the future decline of this city of idolatry. Until then, grace and peace be yours.
Wed, Dec 16th - 1:09PM
What Are Dead Works?
"Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and a faith toward God(Hebrews 6:1)."
That phrase "dead works" can be found only twice in the New Testament. Our text is the first instance and it refers to the deeds of the unsaved sinner from which he/she must turn away in salvation. In the second instance, later in this same letter to the Hebrews, it refers to unprofitable deeds accomplished by the believer, from which we must also turn away.
Dead works are certainly not good works, but neithr are they necessarily evil works. Instead, they are ineffective, useless acts which count for nothing spiritually. They are as different from evil or good works as wild fruit is from good fruit or bad fruit. Wild fruit may look good but not have any nutritional value whatsoever. Dead works likewise may be of some humanitarian value but they lack life, not stemming from proper motives and not being fueled by love(I Corinthians 13:1-3) thus not accomplishing anything of lasting value.
The non-Christian can pridefully indulge in such works, but this must be repented of at the point of salvation. Likewise, the Christian must repent of his/her useless dead works and replace them with good works, through the power of the Spirit of the living God. "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?(Hebrews 9:14)"
Have you inventoried your works? Have you listed them and figured out if there is any spiritual value to them? Those which do not appear to have any spiritual value should be jettisoned from out of our lives and replaced with new works centered squarely upon the love of Christ. Sermons weekly ought to be leading believers to ever deeper commitments to serving Christ while offering the unbelievers the opportunity to choose to believe in Christ's redeeming work. In view of this, may we all continually submit our efforts to Him, recognizing that service to the living God does not include our dead works.
Tue, Dec 15th - 5:49PM
Book of Isaiah Study
They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he makes it a god: they fall down, yes, they worship(46:6).
A metallic image that probably gleams and excels the wooden image in beauty and value. Man expends his wealth in making idols that are to be worshiped or to be esteemed highly by others. Those who are poor settle for cheap gods. If they are rich they provide themselves with a rich god. Men worship the work of their own hands, not that of God Almighty. So it goes full circle and it becomes self-worship. It is humanism.
They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he stands; from his place shall he not remove: yes, one shall cry unto him, yet he can't answer, nor save him out of his trouble(46:7).
You can carry that idol around with you all day, everyday, and it will never be able to talk to you nor will it ever save you from your problems.
Remember this, and show yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors.
Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,(46:8-9)
God puts it to the Israelites here. He flat out tells them to remember the things of old. Remember what God has done for you previously before deciding that He does nothing. In our world today there is a lot of idolatry around, it is just better camoflaged than in times past. Do you get anything when you go to church? For too many folk church-going is a real burden, they feel that they must go. It is just like those useless gods that did nothing for the Israelites. Beloved, God wants to communicate with you. He has something for you. He doesn't want you to carry Him, He wants to carry you.
That is all for tonight, my friends. God willing, I will finish this chapter next time we meet. May you find forgiveness and peace in Christ this holiday season. May you find that you may hide yourself in Him and yet find your true self in Him.
Mon, Dec 14th - 6:18PM
Book of Isaiah Study
In verse one we saw God contrasting the helplessness of the idol, which is a burden to carry in one's life, to His own love and strength. Now we move on to the following verses:
They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity.
Hearken unto Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by Me from the belly, which are carried from the womb:
And even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you(46:2-4).
Jehovah points out that their idols have not, and cannot, deliver them from captivity which He has ordained they must go into as payment for their sins against Him. God declares to the Jewish nation that He has been the One who has carried them thus far and now it is time for delivery of the "child." God had carried their nation and He had also carried each individual from the cradle to the grave. The question today is this: Is your religion carrying you, or are you carrying your religion? As we shall discover further into Isaiah, God carries our sins: "He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows." In the New Testament we find that God also carries our cares and burdens: "Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you(I Peter 5:7)." He carries us still today, my friends!
To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal, and compare Me, that we may be alike(46:5)?
It is difficult to explain God because He is infinite and we are not. We live in finite bodies in a finite universe utilizing finite senses to observe our natural world. There is nothing with which to compare Him. He cannot be reduced to our terminology without losing all meaning. He cannot be translated into any of our languages. Herein lies a reason why He became a man called Jesus. The only way we can know God is through studying Jesus Christ. He was God made manifest in the flesh. Manifest means readily perceived by the senses and especially by sight; easily understood or recognized by the mind. Thus God intended us to easily understand and perceive with our finite senses the character of Himself while He was among us in the flesh.
That is all for today. God willing, I will post again tomorrow on this study! Grace and peace be with you all.
Mon, Dec 14th - 1:36PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all Gone?
Problem of Discouragement, Part II
Nehemiah's Cure for discouragement.
In Nehemiah 4:13-23 we find that this prophet of God did not ignore discouragement; he moved to gain the upper hand on it. So what did he do?
1) He unified the people around the same goal. The men had been scattered around Jerusalem. Even though they had been working on the same project, the people were separated from their families. Nehemiah halted the work briefly and reorganized people into family units centered around the same goals. We find this happening in verse 13.
2) He directed their attention to the Lord. In verse 14a we find him saying, "Do not be afraid of them, remember the Lord who is great and awesome..." He turned their eyes from the rubbish to the Lord their God. "Remembering the Lord" involves calling to mind what the Lord has said and done and also Who He is. Nehemiah was skillful in accomplishing this.
3) He encouraged them to maintain a balance. We find this in verse 14b-18, "Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon." One hand was ready to do the work while the other was ready to defend, if necessary.
4) He provided a rallying point. In verse 19-20 Nehemiah said, "The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall from one another. At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us." He gave first a place and then a principle. They were given a gathering point where they would be safe; and they were given a perspective that God was their defender, their warrior in any battle.
5) He occupied them in a ministry of service to others. In verse 21-23 can be found this: "So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes, each took his weapon even to the water." They became engaged in a mutually protective effort. He taught them that they needed each other, that they couldn't handle this alone.
So how does this apply to us today? Our churches must become the point from which the "trumpet call" sounds to gather us together in safety. We all go out into the world daily and perform some level of God's work and it is inevitable that Satan will take notice and come to attack our efforts. At these times the church must be the rallying point so that all know where to go to be safe. Too many believers today are not being advised of the reality we are to face out in the world. They are not being taught and trained in how to survive the confrontations that will come into their lives. What good can come from sending unprepared saints back out into the lost world only to watch them be torn asunder spiritually and physically by our enemies. We must disciple people to become complete Christians, able to do God's work and be able to defend themselves against attacks on their beliefs, on their persons, and on their families.
Our congregational leaders must give the people a clear, unified goal that all can put their efforts into. We do not merely come together once or twice per week to sing, read some scripture, give our tithes, shake hands, and go our separate ways. What is our goal in all of this?
In everything that we attempt to accomplish as a congregation we must be directing our attention vertically to God. He is our Savior, our Redeemer, our Advocate and it is He who will defend us until the very end of our lives. We must, as Christians, bathe our endeavors in prayer. In doing so we are then forced to focus our attention upon God. As individuals we must do the same thing in order to accomplish the tasks assigned to us by Christ. All else leads to futility, stress, frustration, and discouragement.
As Christians we must all buy into the concept that we are engaged in attaining a mutual goal. We must come together and work towards achieving those things that God places before us. We must become involved in ministering to others who are working in the common effort. Yes, we still need to reach out and minister to those who are not yet a part of the household of God, but we absolutely must care for each other within the household of God. To not do so shows our lack of love for one another.
I think this points out the valid concept put forward in the song, "Onward, Christian Soldiers." We are involved in a spiritual war with Satan and thus we must consider ourselves to be soldiers in God's army. As such, there are those who naturally will find themselves on the "front lines," and others will find themselves in the "supply train." We have need of spiritual healers at the rear of all action fronts to care for those injured. We have need of those who can spiritually feed the active combatants, keeping them healthy so that they can stand firm when Satan's onslaught comes upon them. We have need of people who can discern the presence of evil and steer innocents away from danger and hopefully towards a life serving Christ joyfully. And we all need a fort, a place of refuge, to run to in times of extreme threats to our well-being and safety. That is what our church must become today, my friends. A true place of refuge from the myriad threats that the world presents to us each and every day. Am I assaulted daily by immodesty? Am I impaled by profanity? Am I violated by immoral behavior? Am I forced to deal with greed, vanity, theft, and cheating? If so, then the church must not contain any of these things in order to be a true refuge. Christ's flock of believers must be protected from these things whenever they gather together, it has been commanded of our leaders by none other than Christ Himself! How do we achieve this while accepting new members through repentance and baptism? It requires diligent attention to teaching new members the basics of faith and obedience to Christ. It requires that we teach all the doctrines of the faith, leaving nothing out. Is it a lot of work? Sure it is, but we cannot do less than what God has commanded us to do, if we say that we love Him. Do you love Him that much?
This completes this study on "Me and My Problems." I hope that some have found answers to things going on in their lives through reading and studying these posts. God willing I will resume posts on my Book of Isaiah study either tonight or tomorrow. Until then, grace and peace be yours.
Fri, Dec 11th - 12:58PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all Gone?
The Problem of Discouragement
Let us look at Nehemiah 4:9-23. This man was Jerusalem's most famous wall-rebuilder. He took on a project that appeared to be harmless and innocent, simple and quiet. But as he surveyed his workmen he found a problem. And the more he tried to fix it the greater it became. There arose sarcasm, mockery, and soon there was open opposition and criticism, then finally a conspiracy. It did not take long before discouragement settled in. What caused this discouragement, and how did Nehemiah deal with it?
The Causes of the discouragement. Verses 9-12show us that Nehemiah's rebuilders began to feel the intimidating, repetitive message of the enemy and of local Jews who believed the threats. First the disheartening word came from men of Judah, then from the Jews who lived next to the critics. Looking at the text we find four causes for their discouragement.
1) A loss of strength, of energy - "So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. Thus in Judah it was said, The strength of the burden bearers is failing..." In Hebrew the term "failing" means to stumble, totter, or stagger under a load. Working a while, the people had become tired, particularly at the halfway point of the project.
2) A loss of vision - "...yet there is much rubbish; and we ourselves are unable to rebuild the wall." Dirt, broken stones, heavy mortar and broken timbers were all around. The workers' eyes had shifted from a rising wall before them to the mess that lay around them still. Their focus changed. They were distracted.
3) A loss of confidence - "...We ourselves are unable to build the wall." Their loss of energy, strength led to a loss of vision; their loss of vision then led to a weakened sense of confidence in completing the project. They became captives of feeling that they'd never finish this huge job; in their minds the project became larger than their collective ability. They felt swamped under.
4) A loss of security - In verses 11-12: "And our enemies said, They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them, and put a stop to the work..." The people who lived close by came and told them ten times how they would come when least expected and kill them all.
How many of us know all about these four steps? Ever experience any, or all, of these steps/causes for discouragement? Ever attempt to do a project that is very large and at some point into it discover that it will realistically take much more effort and time to complete than you originally thought? Did discouragement enter into the picture then? Did you suffer through a period where you lost sight of the "bigger picture?" Were you suffering from fatigue and just felt like you had nothing left to give? Was your confidence shaken terribly, to the point that some despair began to enter into your mind? Due to the extended length of effort and time required to complete this project, was your security compromised to any extent? Did you begin to feel less safe than at the outset? See, each of these questions point towards periods in the project before us when discouragement has an opportunity to enter into us. My congregation is attempting to finish constructing our very first meeting house. July and August were bone dry, no rain. Once we broke ground and began excavating for footers the heavens opened up. In trying to lay down gravel before concrete slab was poured we were forced to finish up before potential thunderstorms and downpours moved in. The lot became a mudpie. Grading was done, grass seed laid down. The heavens opened up again. No time to spread hay over the seed. But we continued working between rain events, we kept our focus on the "vision." Most of the seeded area is now covered with hay, the building is up and almost ready for occupancy. Discouragement had many opportunities to enter into minds, but we kept our focus upon the "big picture." We kept a vertical relationship with God. We prayed. We lifted each other up.
That is all for today my friends. Next time, God willing, I shall delve into Nehemiah's cure for discouragement. He did five things to combat this problem among his people that can be applied to everything that we do today in serving God. I look forward to you coming back!
Wed, Dec 9th - 12:22PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all Gone?
Lessons to Consider.
How can we, like Joseph, counteract the feeling of bitterness when we discover that we have been wronged?
A. Accept the reproof as directly from the Lord. Ahah! This starts the whole process rolling in the right direction: taking reproof as a personal offense puts us on the wrong track. When we focus on God's involvement in our lives, that is thinking vertically, we begin a process that results in healing rather than injured feelings.
B. Immediately seek God's strength, thinking offensively---not defensively! We tend to defend ourselves when wronged, and that sends us into an inevitable tailspin. We must remember that even Jesus Christ did not defend Himself before Pilate, Herod, or anyone else. So must we be.
C. Consider the other person's point of view by putting yourself in his or her position. We are often surprised to find their thinking justified. When this occurs, forgive quickly. Grudges result from an unwillingness to look at another's experience.
D. Stay positive and search for God's lessons. A bitter person frequently reveals his/her resentment by negative actions, a critical spirit, and a smileless face.
E. Discover ways of showing kindness to the other person. Phony concern is out; what is needed here is a kindness that is absolutely genuine. We can either take their action as an intentional wrong against us...or we can accept it as from God. The offender may very well be a good instrument encouraging more growth in our lives.
Obviously, all of us are horizontally orientated individuals. Our five senses dictate that sort of bias naturally. So it means that we must cultivate a determination within ourselves to see things from a vertical perspective for this is an attribute worth developing. To remain horizontally oriented means that we will frequently miss the lesson God is trying to teach us.
How have each of us handled bitterness and resentment in our past? Have we had victory over it, or has it commanded us? Here are seven questions we all ought to use as a strategy for victory over resentment:
* Am I seeing this from a vertical, or horizontal perspective?
* Do I see this as directly from the Lord?
* Am I seeking God's strength?
* Have I considered others' viewpoints?
* Am I staying positive?
* Do I search for God's lessons?
* Have I discovered ways to show kindness to the other person?
That concludes this short study on dealing with resentment. Hopefully this helps someone out there who has struggled with it in the past or is struggling with it today. The next piece of this overall study has to do with the problem of discouragement. This is something that normally strikes at every person at some point in their lives. It is very hard for people to not become discouraged over things. So, God willing, I will strive to lay out the causes of discouragement and some cures from the Bible. Grace and peace be yours this day!
Tue, Dec 8th - 1:21PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all Gone?
The Problem of Resentment
We will be working from Genesis 45-50 while working on this issue. Finding the cure for internal injury(resentment, bitterness, indignant displeasure) is not a job for your doctor, is it? Simply mentioning such a malady vibrates a cord within all of us that is mutually familiar. Many of us have known the unfaithfulness of a friend who has damaged our trust or broken our confidence. Some know the unfaithfulness of someone other than a friend---that of a child, a spouse, an employer, or a relative. It is possible that you have had your personal rights walked upon, your belongings misused, and your goodness taken for granted. Having been made the brunt of what appears to be a very "raw deal" you may be experiencing the rising of the ugly head of resentment within you. If not, you have known this problem in the past, or will in the future. We can view this problem one of two ways: horizontally, we can focus on the problem itself or the person causing the problem; or vertically, we can focus on God and the ultimate benefit in our lives that can result from our pain. By reviewing the life of one of God's choice men we will be provided with insights on how we may cope with the problem of resentment in a much more successful way.
Joseph Observed. By reading Genesis 37-50 we may initially find that it is a rare and unique story. But a glimpse of his history tells us that he as a vertical thinker. When those all around him were looking at themselves or others, he was always looking up towards God.
1) While a Servant - In his early years(37-41) Joseph was his father's favorite son. His brothers despised him because of the position he held in their father's heart. They turned against him out of hatred and envy, sold him to an Egypt-bound caravan. Joseph did not deserve that treatment from his brothers. He was an innocent 17 year old boy who didn't know how to deal with with that favoritism, even though he was wise beyond his years. In Egypt, as a slave, he became the house servant for Potiphar, whose wife found him physically attractive and made advances which he refused. Shunned, she falsely accused him of sexually taking advantage of her, and her husband believed her accusations. Joseph was thrown into jail, where he found friendship with two of the inmates---the Pharoah's butler and baker. He helped them to know the future which they in turn passed on to Pharoah when they were released from prison. Joseph had told them, "Do not forget me" but they did. Two more years of undeserved imprisonment passed.
2) While a Prime Minister - In 41-44 of Genesis we find that through a marvelous chain of events Joseph was released from prison that resulted in his being awarded the prime ministership of Egypt. Because of famine, that Joseph received prior knowledge of through a God-given dream, years later his brothers were forced to travel south into Egypt in search of food for the rest of the family. Not knowing that their brother was still alive, those who had sold him into slavery were standing in his presence requesting to purchase grain to take home.
3) While a Reconciling Brother - Before Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, he met with them once and they returned home. On their second visit he could no longer contain himself and after ordering everone out except those whom he dearly loved he revealed his true identity. At this his brothers were dismayed. They expected revenge. But Joseph graciously demonstrated the true state of his heart: "...Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because yoou sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life." Note the complete lack of bitterness and resentment; only a heart full of love, compassion, and interest in their welfare. Joseph summarized for them: "...You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about the present result, to preserve many people alive."
The most important thing to remember from this man of God's life is that he cared enough about his life to view it from a vertical perspective rather than horizontal. He counteracted those feelings of "having been wronged."
I will stop right here for now, beloved. I pray that we all can meet here once more, to study God's Word and gain more understanding about how to live our lives better.
Mon, Dec 7th - 8:53PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.
Tell you, and bring them near; yes, let them take counsel together: who has declared this from ancient time? who has told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside Me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside Me.
Look unto Me, and be you saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else(45:20-22).
Here in a message originally sent to the Israelites we find God speaking to us today. He calls us to gather together, to draw near unto God, to come out from among the lost and to approach the Living God. We are to leave company of those who are idolaters and serve that which cannot save their souls. Verses 21-22 were used by an ignorant man to convert Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon was on his way to church one Sunday morning when a snowstorm struck London. Because he couldn't make it to his church, he stopped at a little church along the way. The storm was so severe that the preacher did not make it to this little church either, so a man got up and said a few words. Spurgeon never knew the man's name; he only knew that he was an uneducated man. He chose Isaiah 45:22 as his text, and what he lacked in lightning, he made up for in thunder. He said, "This verse says, "Look unto me, and be ye saved." He began to talk about the verse. "God says you should look to Him and be saved." By that time he ran out of ammunition. He had said all he could say about the verse, so he went into the thunder department and began to roar and pound the pulpit, "Look to God, all the ends of the earth, and be saved." He looked way back in the congregation and saw the young man Spurgeon sitting there with a very miserable look on his face. The man said to Spurgeon, "You look to Jesus, and you will be saved." Spurgeon was a very brilliant man, but he did what this ignorant man suggested---he looked to Jesus and was saved. Likewise, we today need to look to Jesus Christ and be saved. There is nowhere else to look, nowhere else to go.
I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to Him shall men come; and all that are incensed against Him shall be ashamed.
In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory(45:23-25).
Here in verse 23 we see the parallel to prophecies spoken by God in the New Testament of a time coming when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess God. That time will be when Christ has returned to rule upon the earth in person for the thousand years. We see also a declaration that His word has been uttered and it shall not return, it shall remain to do its work. If we believe that in the Lord we have righteousness and strength then people will be attracted to us, both as individuals and as a group. Those people who rant and rave against there being a God and claiming that any who believe in Him are ignorant and uneducated shall become ashamed. It will come to pass for God has said as much. "As I have said, thus shall it be!"
That concludes chapter 45. Chapter 46 contains an injunction to Israel, and to the Church today, not to forsake the true God.
Bel bows down, Nebo stoops, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy laden; they are a burden to the weary beast(46:1).
Bel and Nebo were gods of Babylon. Bel is the shortened form of Baal and is found in the first part of Beelzebub---which is one of Satan's names. Nebo means "speaker or prophet." When Paul and Barnabas went to Lystra, the people there thought Barnabas was Bel or Jupiter and Paul was Nebo or Mercury because he did the talking.
Behind the idols of that day was satanic worship, which is becoming ever more popular in our society today. The Word of God repeatedly warns us that our warfare is spiritual warfare.
God highlights the fact that idols are a burden to the idolater. They create a load of troubles for the one who worships them believing that they will bring benefits in return for adoration.
That is all for today my friends. Next time, God willing, I shall move on to cover the next five to seven verses. We shall see in this short chapter some mighty words spoken by our God. Until then, may your path be made straight and your way made clear by the Word of God.
Sat, Dec 5th - 7:35PM
Book of Isaiah Study
I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even My hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded(45:12).
God does not reveal to our finite minds the "how" of His stretching out the heavens. He simply informs us of His work. He does not reveal "how" He created man or woman. It remains veiled in mystery to this very day. Regardless of what theory you may adopt, you have to move back to the place where there is nothing then there is something. Until you can explain how nothing becomes something you can talk about frogs and monkeys all you want and I'll simply sit and smile. I am a skeptic, I do not believe you. Only God has an answer, "I made it!"
I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build My city, and he shall let go My captives, not for price nor reward, says the LORD of hosts.
Thus says the LORD, The labor of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto you, and they shall be yours: they shall come after you; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto you, they shall make supplication unto you, saying, Surely God is in you; and there is none else, there is no God(45:13-14).
Here we return to Cyrus and what he was destined to do a little over 200 years in the future. God declares His intentions before it ever happens. God trumps Jeanne Dixon, Nostradamus, or any other psychic.
Verily You are a God that hides Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior.
They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols(45:15-16).
All three groups of people mentioned in verses 13-14 are speaking still in these two verses. They have become knowledgeable to the point that they understand that Jehovah is the Savior of Israel, and perhaps they can see that it applies to the Gentiles also. The creators of idols are destined to becoming confused and confounded due to making and worshiping idols.
But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: you shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.
For thus says the LORD that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He has established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek you Me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right(45:17-19).
I do not believe that God said here that the entire nation of Israel will be saved without accepting Christ as their savior. The only way for them to be saved is through God with an everlasting salvation, not a temporary one via sacrificial animals' blood.
Once more God emphasizes the fact that He made the heavens and the earth and intended for it to be populated with living creatures of all kinds. He did not speak in secret, He foretells His work ahead of time to men. God does not make our seeking of Him vain, He rewards those who seek Him out early.
That is it for this day, beloved. Next time, God willing, I shall try to finish up this chapter of Isaiah. May the grace and peace of Christ fill your life to overflowing.
Fri, Dec 4th - 8:37PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Shall we continue in our study of Isaiah 45?
For Jacob My servant's sake, and Israel Mine elect, I have even called you by your name: I have surnamed you, though you have not known Me.
I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside Me: I girded you, though you have not known Me(45:4-5).
Even though Cyrus did not know Jehovah he was being called by name by the Living God. We could reasonably conclude that at some point in his life Cyrus came to know God for we read in Ezra 1:2, "Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He has charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah."
That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things(45:6-7).
Here is a remarkable statement pertaining to the creation of our universe. Zoroastrianism began in Persia. It teaches that Mazda is the god of light. God however says He creates light, and that it is not a god. The Persians came close to the truth. Why would they worship one god in the midst of idolatry? You have to take into account that they came into close contact with nation Israel and they were a witness to the world. In Zoroastrianism darkness was Ahriman, the god of evil. God takes responsibility for creating the darkness and evil also.
"And create evil" means here "sorrow, difficulties, or tragedies" which are the fruit of evil, the fruit of sin. This is how the Old Testament addresses the "The wages of sin is death..." concept found in Romans 6:23. If we indulge in sin there will be a payday for it!
Let us introduce something else at this point, since we all are living in a time when it is said that good and evil are relative terms. Whatever I think is good, is good. The argument is put forward: The Bible says "Thou shalt not kill" and "Thou shalt not steal", but what is the Bible? How do I know that it is true? Who should obey it? Or why should we listen to the God of the Bible?
Well, God says that if you and I indulge in sin, you and I will find out that sin requires full payment. This is what God is saying through Isaiah. God has so created the universe that when you break over the bounds that He has set, you don't need a judge, a hangman's noose, or an electric chair, God will take care of it. You wish to behave immorally or in a homosexual manner then your required payment for those sins is your physical health and perhaps your very life due to diseases that are contagiously spread via those behaviors.
God says, that He is the One who creates light and darkness. He answered Zoroastrianism which worshiped the god of light. Light is no god, God created it.
Drop down, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.
Woe unto him that strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioned it, What do you make? or your work, He has no hands(45:8-9)?
Why fight against God? You can not win such a fight. The Greeks had a proverb: The dice of the gods are loaded. This is pretty much what God is telling all of us. I remind you of the very first chapter of Isaiah and verse 18, God wishes to reason with each of us and settle our differences before it reaches the Great White Throne judgement at the end of time. Beloved, do not gamble with God, when He rolls the dice He knows exactly how they are coming out, you don't.
Woe unto him that says unto his father, What begettest you? or to the woman, What have you brought forth?
Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons, and concerning the work of My hands command you Me(45:10-11).
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty has enough in it to silence all our discontents and objections against the methods of His providence and grace. It is as unnatural as for the child to find fault with the parents, to say to the father, What have you begotten? or to the mother, "What have you brought forth? Why was I not begotten and born an angel, exempt from the infirmities of human nature and the calamities of human life? Must not we who are children of men expect to share in the common lot and to fare as others fare? If God is our Father, where is the honor we owe to Him by submitting to His will? The people of God in captivity, who reconciled themselves to the will of God in their affliction and were content to wait His time for their deliverance, are here assured that they should not wait in vain. The Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, though He does not allow them to strive with Him, yet God encourages them, They are encouraged to consult His word: "Ask of me things to come; they have recourse to the prophets and their prophecies, and see what they say concerning these things. Ask the watchmen, What of the night? Ask them, How long? Things to come, as far as they are revealed, belong to us and to our children, and we must not be strangers to them.
So we see that just as the Israelites of Isaiah's day were encouraged to study the books of the Old Testament, so too today, we are encouraged by God to go and study the prophecies of the Bible and be assured of the coming time of glory. God has told all of us of what shall come, we merely need to ready ourselves to receive it in its due time.
God willing, I shall continue in this chapter the next time we meet with this study. Be of good cheer! Christ signals still that He is coming, we need to send our answer back to heaven by learning what is in the Bible. Grace and peace be with you all.
Fri, Dec 4th - 1:15PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all Gone?
The Problem of Death, continued...
Let us continue looking at some more questions about the dead.
What about cremation?
Cremation is the process of burning and reducing to ashes the body of someone who has died. Nothing in the Bible directly addresses this issue. There are instances in the Bible where people have been burned to death, but these should not be confused with cremation. On these occasions (II Kings 16:2-3; 17:16-17; 21:2, 6) the practice of burning the body to death was connected with heathen, pagan worship. In regard to cremation, however, the Bible is silent. Though among Christians this alternative is irregular, we have no reason to say that it is an act of disobedience to God. Cremation in no way hinders the matter of resurrection...it does not limit God's ability in this respect. This issue is similar to that of what happens to those who are believers and become victims of some serial killer who chops them up, eats their flesh, and burns their bones? Will their future resurrection be affected at all? I do not think so. Wherever people have died, however people have died, the grave will give them up when Christ calls for the final judgment. All things are possible with God, we need to remember that fact.
What about soul-sleep?
This is the belief that the soul of a person is dormant from the time of death until the time of resurrection...that the soul/spirit remains insensible during the period the body is in the grave. Proof texts from Scripture used to support this view are taken from such passages as Daniel 12:2, Job 14:12, and I Thessalonians 4:13, where the term "sleep" is used. But in these instances the term is a reference to death---separation of the soul/spirit from the body---not a sleeping soul/spirit within the entombed body. When Jesus spoke in John 11 of His friend Lazarus being "asleep" He was speaking of death---when the body had begun to decay. It is not referring to a soul/spirit that somehow went dormant in the decaying body of a dead person.
What about reincarnation?
This is the belief that the soul/spirit returns from beyond to reinhabit another body or form. Some use John 3:1-7 to support this increasingly popular belief. This text does not speak of a physical rebirth, but of that which is spiritual---where the soul/spirit of a man separated from God from the time of physical birth is made alive to God through a new birth. The Bible states that there is only one earthly existence per individual(see Hebrews 9:27). We can also check this by looking at Job 7:8-10 and seeing that Old and New Testament agree that we die once and do not return again. The only way to return is to wait until Christ calls all from the grave in a final resurrection into glorified, eternal bodies. But that is a future event, it is not an ongoing process where we get to repeat life over and over again.
What about prayer and baptism for the dead?
Some offer up prayers on behalf of the dead, in hopes of making their destiny brighter. No passage in the Bible supports this view either. References to such is made in the apocryphal book of II Maccabees, but its contents have been deemed unacceptable for supporting theological beliefs. The matter of baptism for the dead is referred to in Scripture in I Corinthians 15:29. This passage has been greatly misinterpreted. This chapter in Corinthians is one of the greatest passages on the resurrection of the body. Those in Paul's day were under severe persecution and often experienced martydom right after they came to know Christ; before they were able to be baptized and publicly identified with Christ and His Body of believers. It was a concern to the Christians of Corinth that they personally represent those who had been killed for their faith before being baptized. Although Paul acknowledged the action, he neither condoned nor encouraged it as a general practice. Once someone has died and their soul/spirit has been separated from their physical body there is no longer any time to affect their eternal destination, that is accomplished while they yet draw breath.
Should Christ not return before it, death will come. It is certain. Death transforms all values, instantly changes all things around us. Things like belief or disbelief in cremation, soul-sleep, etc. have absolutely no bearing on our eternity. The only real issue we must face in light of eternity is what we have done in regard to Jesus Christ. Are you ready to die? Is Christ your Savior?
Well, we have referenced some twenty or so scriptures in the last two studies covering death and the dead. I would encourage you to go over them slowly and read any other scriptural passages that are related to this problem. Become wise in regards to what is true concerning death and the dead. Ask yourself, "Why didn't King David go and mourn at his child's grave each year on the anniversary date of the child's death?" David did not go there for he knew that his child was no longer upon this earth nor under it. He knew that they could no longer communicate in any form. Separation had happened and the only way to rejoin the two together again was to wait until they met again in heaven. I say this for those who year after year return to the cemetaries to cry or weep over fallen family members of years gone by. They are not there.
God willing, next time I shall begin on the problem of resentment. This is a big issue in our society today, internal injury of our feelings. Until then, may God bless you abundantly in all of your efforts, and you be a blessing to those all around you!
Thu, Dec 3rd - 1:02PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all Gone?
The Problem of Death, Pt. II
I continue searching out this issue, and find several questions. We have already discovered that death is separation...it is both universal and inevitable. Death is also the only means of reaching one's destiny, much like a gate or door leads from one area to another. For the Christian, his soul/spirit goes immediately into the presence of the Lord, and his body awaits its final resurrection in the future. For the unbeliever, his soul/spirit goes into torment while in a holding area called hades(Luke 16:23) and his body awaits its final resurrection and destination(Revelation 20:11-15).
What about suicide?
Suicide, as most of you know, is the voluntary and intentional act of one taking his/her own life. Three classic examples of suicide are to be found in the Scriptures: King Saul(I Samuel 31), Ahithophel(II Samuel 17), and Judas Iscariot(Matthew 27). The first observation that can be made is believers and non-believers both have taken their lives; second, in each instance terribly distressing circumstances affected each life; and third, in two of the examples there was direct demonic or satanic activity involved. It is no wonder that Satan's involvement in human life produces thoughts of suicide. Jesus reveals in John 8:42-44 that the devil is both a murderer and a liar. In a weakened state, even a believer can become so emotionally distressed that he can murder himself. Satan's unchecked attacks are vicious. When one takes his/her own life he/she usurps, in a criminal fashion, a right belonging only to God; the right to take life. The suicide of a believer leaves a damnable brand on Christ and Christianity because the devil exploits the information of it to the maximum extreme in the minds of unbelievers.
What about the death of small children, or infants?
The concern here is with those children who live for a few hours to a few short years; children who are not yet capable, at the time of death, to reckon right from wrong, not having reached what is commonly referred to as the age of accountability. Matthew 19:13-14 and II Samuel 12:15-23 can help each of us to answer this question that torments thousands and thousands of parents. In Matthew Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to children, that it is the property of such little ones. In II Samuel we receive verification from the lips of King David upon learning of his child's death. Weeping and fasting marked his days while the child still lived, praying that God had not appointed his child's death to be now. Once the child had died, David rose, washed and changed into clean clothes, and went and worshipped. What was done was done. David understood that the only way that he would ever see his child again was after David had died also. With everything that King David knew about God he rested assured that the child was in Paradise.
What we need to come away from this understanding is that until a child reaches an age where they clearly understand right from wrong should they die they shall go to be with God immediately. Once a child has attained enough maturity to understand what is right and what is wrong they are responsible for choosing Jesus or rejecting Him. With this understanding in hand, we can then see that infant baptism is totally unnecessary to assure salvation into heaven, in fact, it is a total waste of time and is useless spiritually. Baptism does not grant any salvation whatsoever, it is faith in Christ alone that brings an individual salvation from their sins. This also covers individuals who are born with mental retardation. If they never reach a point in their lives where they clearly comprehend right from wrong then upon their deaths they shall go to be with Christ immediately in heaven.
That is all for today, beloved. I hope that this will help answer some of your questions concerning these two issues. God willing, I will continue this section tomorrow. May the grace and peace of Christ our Lord be with you today!
Wed, Dec 2nd - 1:47PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all Gone?
The Problem of Death
Is there anything more fearful today than death? To the one who does not know Christ this realistic fact of one's death dogs them all the days of their lives. It drives vain people to spend whatever expense necessary in order to remain looking youthful, as if that will fend off the inexorable approach of death. The realism is depressing and overwhelming. Our human nature is to avoid dealing with death, whether or not we belong to Christ. It is loaded with mystery: What happens upon the moment of death? Is there anything else after this life is over and done? If so, what do we become? Nothing, or something less, or something more than we were at the end of our lives here? The first recorded piece of information God has given to man has to do with death. He told Adam and his new spouse that of every tree of the garden of Eden they could eat, except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. To do so would result in death(Genesis 2:16-17). Moving all the way to the opposite end of the Bible we find that God still addressed death. In presenting to us a picture of heaven, God said there would be no more tears, death, or sorrow. Let us ponder some scriptural perspectives that are death-related.
What do we mean, what does God mean by death?
In I Thessalonians 5:23 we find Paul writing this: "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." God has made us in two parts: that which is inward, invisible, and intangible, called the soul and spirit; and that which is outward, visible, and tangible, called the body. Our soul/spirit we receive at the time of conception. We have it forever. This is what makes our personality; it is the part of us viewed by God, and it the real us. The outer shell, the body, is what man looks upon, and it survives for only a short span of years. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is able to penetrate the inward part to a job of conviction, rebuke, blessing, or change within us. Clearly, there is more than one aspect, part, of each human being. This whole realm of our inner being is difficult to understand because we can not see, touch, smell, or dissect it. We, as finite beings, have immense trouble conceiving abstract things for our entire existence is dominated by sensual imput from our five senses. When death takes place, the soul/spirit must go somewhere other than remaining in the body. Some sort of separation must take place with the body being placed, generally, in the ground and the soul/spirit going elsewhere. Death and separation are used interchangeably. Since in Genesis we are told that God breathed life into man we can deduce that the body was not occupied by any soul/spirit until God gave life to it. The act of giving life to the body is defined by the fact that a unique soul/spirit is placed within by God the Creator. This is one reason why life is so truly sacred.
How extensive is death?
Paul answers this question this way in Romans 5:12: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" Everyone dies. Death and sin are Siamese twins. When Adam sinned, he introduced death to all humanity. Instantly he died spiritually, gradually he died physically. As with most rules, with death there are a few exceptions. In the Old Testament two men are named who did not die: Enoch and Elijah. God does not tell us exactly why; He simply reveals to us that they did not die a natural death. In the New Testament we are told of some more mysterious exceptions to this rule: "...Flesh and blood cannot inherit the imperishable. Behold I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed(I Corinthians 15:50-51)." Sleep is meant through its usage here to mean death. So some of us will not experience death but shall be transformed by God into glorious new bodies free of corruption when He returns to earth.
What are the results of death, what happens with the body and the soul/spirit?
The final destinations of the believer in Christ and the non-believer are radically different. Upon death the person belonging to Christ immediately passes into the presence of God(II Corinthians 5:6). The ultimate end of the person who does not belong to Christ is described in Revelation 20:11-15. At the time of his/her death, their soul/spirit separates from their body and passes directly to a place called in Scripture "Torments" (Luke 16:23), a place of conscious, awesome, terrible existence. That soul/spirit remains there until ultimate judgment is pronounced at the Great White Throne. The terms "death" and "Hades" used in Revelation 20:13 are references to the place of torments where the lost person, in his soul/spirit, awaits resurrection into eternal damnation.
Every one of us has eternal life. The believer in Christ has eternal life in the presence of God. The non-believer has eternal life away from that presence, in a place of anguish, darkness, gnashing of teeth, and where their worm will never die. The Lord is not willing that any should die, but that all should come to repentance. Those who are lost are tragically and needlessly lost forever. Our choice determines the final dwelling place of our soul/spirit.
That concludes part one of this study on death. We have revealed where life comes from, where death has come from, who death affects, and what happens to believers and unbelievers upon death. Next time, God willing, I will begin in part two to look at some questions that swirl around the topic of death. Such questions will deal with suicide, infant death, cremation, reincarnation and some others. I hope that you will come back to find out more and be able to end up with a clearer picture of what death is actually all about. Until then, grace and peace be yours.
Tue, Dec 1st - 1:09PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all Gone?
The Problem of facing impossibilities, Pt. II
What the disciples should have learned at miracle's end, we too should learn---every time we face an impossibility, leave it in the hands of Christ. Refuse to worry, to calculate, to work it out by yourself. Refuse to engage others in worry. Take it to Christ in diligent prayer.
Each of us are frequently confronted with a series of of impossible situations which in reality are great opportunities to experience God's enormous grace and love. If we stop and think a little bit, we recall other miracles that Jesus did: healing the lame, curing blindness and deafness, curing mental illness, turning water into fine wine, raising the dead to renewed life. All were impossible situations until God touched each of these situations and made solutions possible through His power and majesty.
God specializes in things we think are totally impossible and we must force ourselves to remember Isaiah 30:18. To finish up this part of this study let's work at memorizing one sentence that sums up this particular study: "We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly camoflaged as impossible situations."
Next time, God willing, I will begin dealing with the problem of death. Most people consider it to be a dark topic and do not wish to go there at any cost. We will look at what God means by death, how extensive death is, and what the results of death are. Then, we will look at various questions about the dead. Sound interesting? It truly is! May grace and peace abound in your life, abound in your relationships, abound in your congregations!
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