Saturday, January 28, 2012
Isaiah Chapter 1:18-31
vs. 18: WASHED
- “'Come now, let's settle this,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.'”
- White signifies purity. Scarlet is a blood-like color. So even though our hands have been stained with blood... our sin has brought us death... Christ will make them white as snow. He will cleanse us with His own blood... and make us presentable unto God.
- footnote- “Crimson was the color of a deep-red dye, and its deep stain was virtually impossible to remove from clothing.... The stain of sin seems equally permanent, but God can remove sin's stain from our life as He promised to do for the Israelites. We don't have to go through life permanently soiled. God's Word assures us that as we are willing and obedient, Christ will forgive and remove our most indelible stains....”
- In Revelation 3, it says that those clothed in white are “worthy” to walk with God.
- Romans 5:12-21 contrasts the sin of Adam, with the sacrifice of Christ.
- Adam's sin brought death into the world. We are now born sinful because of original sin. That sin is with us perpetually.
- EXCEPT, that Christ came as a free gift from God so that we could be made right again in the sight of God.
- “Adam's one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ's one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.”
- Now instead of sin ruling in our lives... Grace can rule through Christ.
- Hebrews 2:14-15, says that this was the only way that we would ever be saved. “Because God's children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”
- When we accept the sacrifice of Christ, our sins are covered. We no longer have to fear death. We are not forced to be separated from God. Instead, we are welcomed into the family as spotless, pure, and holy members.
- To be under the blood, or considered as washed in the blood... God says that “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” (Hebrews 10:17).
- We are free from our sin and guilt!
- Psalm 51
- Revelation 3:4-5; 7:9-17
vs. 19-20: TURN BACK!
- “'If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the Lord, have spoken!'”
- To Israel, God proved Himself again and again as a God who was willing to forgive. He took them back time and time again. But with their continual sin, came consequences. When Israel sinned... God would at times partially withhold His protection. He would allow the enemy to conquer the Israelites, or allow the enemy to at least wreak havoc on their property and possessions.
- If they would just have obeyed God... they would have had His unlimited protection... They would have had all that they needed... but instead... they continued to turn away from God's direction.
- God gives us the same edict. Will we but follow, He will give us all we need... but if we continue to turn away... then we will be destroyed.
- Now... granted... bad things happen. Just because we follow God, does not mean that everything's going to be all rainbows and cherry blossoms...
- However, God never leaves us hanging. If we are faithful... if it takes an angel showing up in the desert to feed us... or a pot of oil and flour that just won't run dry... God can handle it. But sometimes, we are required to go through hard things in order to make us better people. If you watched the Youtube video I posted a couple weeks ago about God taking a chisel to our lives to get rid of things that are detrimental to our souls, you will have a pretty good picture of some of the things God likes get rid of in our lives.
- As we see in the story of Job, godly people, sometimes endure terrible trials...
- But God didn't leave Job. As bad as things seemed... God was still there... and Job's heart was still right. And God restored everything to Job.
- But if Job had turned and cursed God... I believe he would have died a terrible death. One that was deserving of such an act.
- God never leaves us... no matter what we do... but if we continually turn from Him, then eventually, He's going to let the consequences of our actions come down upon our heads. And if that means bringing us to the final judgment... still sinners... still rebelling... then so be it. His justice will not allow Him to excuse our rebellion and eternal consequences will be handed out.
- John 14:15-21
- Deuteronomy 28:1-29:1
- II Kings 21:10-16
vs. 21-23: THE PROSTITUTE JERUSALEM
- “See how Jerusalem, once so faithful, has become a prostitute. Once the home of justice and righteousness, she is now filled with murderers. Once like pure silver, you have become like worthless slag. Once so pure, you are now like watered-down wine. Your leaders are rebels, the companions of thieves. All of them love bribes and demand payoffs, but they refuse to defend the cause of orphans or fight for the rights of widows.”
- As we saw in Hosea, Israel often took on the dress of a prostitute. She would prostitute herself to the world, other nations, and other gods... for a few fleeting moments of pleasure. God would send His prophets to speak to Israel on His behalf. “Turn back to your first love!”
- But Israel was stubborn. Many times she outright refused. Sometimes, she would come back only because she needed something that she knew only God could provide... and she would stay for a while... but then the thrill and call of the past life would draw her back into its arms. Yet again, she would leave her one true and faithful love... the one true husband who would never leave nor forsake her... to go running back to her fleeting pleasures.
- I read a story about a silver refiner a while ago, and I would like to share it with you.
- Silver is refined in fire. They melt it down and let it boil and cook. (so to speak) As it heats and cooks, the impurities rise to the surface. This is the slag. It is skimmed off and thrown away.
- Someone asked the silver refiner how he knew when the silver was ready to use... he said “when I can see my reflection in it.”
- God is making us into vessels He can use. Sometimes this means putting pressure on the vessel. Shaping, changing... putting us in some pretty hot spots. It means getting rid of those things in our lives that hold us back... that keep us from being useful.
- Israel had stopped the purification process. They would not allow themselves to be heated up (tested) and purified. They were keeping their slag. So in essence... they turned back into slag...
- I Corinthians 5:6-8 says “....Don't you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.” (This is regarding a man who was living openly in sexual sin with his stepmother... and the church was allowing it to go on with no reprimand.)
- Our sin... even if it's a little thing... can spread and destroy us. It's like letting a little infection go untreated... before you know it, it's spread throughout the body and is killing you.
- Once Israel had been considered as pure... now... they were like the slag that gets thrown away in the purification process. They were worthless. Useless. Their sin had made them so.
- And it wasn't just the people of Israel. It was the leadership! The kings of Israel had led the people into sin. They were no longer godly leaders. They were selfish and sinful.
- It has been said that the subordinates reflect their superior... whether that be in the workplace, in the home, or in a nation. It's a trickle-down effect. All the sins of the leaders, are reflected in the sins of the people.
- My mom tells of a roommate in college from New York who went to a small Baptist church. One of the couples divorced, but remained in the church together. He with his much younger bride and the wife alone.
- In the short span of ten years, the roommate received the heartbreaking news that her parents, the last married couple now not to be divorced, were getting a divorce. Her dad married a young girl of twenty, a year younger than his daughter!
- What just happened? God hates divorce, but Jesus said that because of the hardness of their hearts, Moses had written up the laws on divorce. Is God happy about divorce? Absolutely not. Is it unforgivable? Of course not. The blood is sufficient to cover our sins when we truly repent. But why would an entire church end in divorcing their spouses of 20+ years? One man did it, God didn't strike him down, he still went to church, still talked to his wife and children, but now he had a younger wife.
- We have a saying about this, “ having your cake and eating it too .” When this kind of sin is allowed and nothing is even said about it, it spreads rapidly. And yes, even the pastor divorced. It says that we sin because we are enticed by our own lust. I think the pastor never said anything to the first man, because he himself struggled with the same sin of lust and likewise all the men in this church.
- God is not a kill joy because he hates divorce. He knows what it does to children, families, and each other. He wanted his body to be healthy... not carrying about a load of guilt and shame.
- Mom's friend has never really forgiven her parents for their actions. It's still hard to go home... so she doesn't.
- The first churches were made up of family and friends. Most small churches are still family and friends. If Satan can cause hurt and distrust in God's body, he has destroyed much of its effectiveness.
- If you find yourself in a leadership position, whether larger or small... this needs to be looked at periodically.
- Have you ever had to fill out a survey about your workplace? They ask questions about morale, about the work conditions, about what kind of things you see as lacking in the workplace... but most of the time... they shy away from questions about the boss...
- But if you walk into a workplace for the first time... you can tell a lot about the boss, by the kind of people and personalities you see in the place.
- So what kind of leader are you? How do you lead your children? Your spouse? Your church? Your co-workers? Your employees? Your friends? As a child of God, you have a responsibility to lead, no matter who's following... into righteousness and a God-centered life.
- Ezra 9:6-10:17
- II Chronicles 36:11-21
- Daniel 9:4-19
vs. 24-28: CONSUMING FIRE
- “Therefore, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven's Armies, the Mighty One of Israel, says, “I will take revenge on my enemies and pay back my foes! I will raise my fist against you. I will melt you down and skim off your slag. I will remove all your impurities. Then I will give you good judges again and wise counselors like you used to have. Then Jerusalem will again be called the Home of Justice and the Faithful City. Zion will be restored by justice; those who repent will be revived by righteousness. But rebels and sinners will be completely destroyed, and those who desert the Lord will be consumed.”
- In Matthew 12:30 Jesus said “Anyone who isn't with me opposes me, and anyone who isn't working with me is actually working against me.”
- When God declares His revenge on His enemies... He is speaking to those in Israel who have refused to turn from their sin. God's judgment is coming, and it's fast approaching. He will put them through the fire, He will purify their hearts... Those who repent, will be revived. They will live on. They will yet again have God's favor. But those who continue to rebel and live in their sin, will be completely destroyed.
- At the end of verse 28, it says that those who desert the Lord will be consumed. In Hebrews 12:25-29 says this: “Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! When God spoke from Mount Sinai His voice shook the earth, but now He makes another promise: 'Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.' This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.”
- If you've ever seen video footage of a wildfire... that's what I think about when I read about a consuming or devouring fire. It doesn't just burn, it disintegrates. It doesn't leave anything behind that is usable. Everything is charred beyond belief.
- However, in the aftermath of a wildfire, there comes new life. In really big or old forests, this is especially true. Without the fire... the forest would start to die. The trees are tall enough and thick enough, that sometimes, even in the heaviest rains, the water doesn't reach the ground that well. All the old underbrush and ground cover is gone. All the old trees are done squeezing the sunlight out from hitting the lower vegetation. The forest can regrow new life. The ashes of the old, fertilize the new.
- Without the fire... death would surely come.
- God's judgment is like that. Sometimes He doesn't wait on things to slowly die off... If He leaves very present sin as an influence in the world... young faith dies. So sometimes... it calls for a fire. To destroy everything that is evil... in order for the new, young faith, to grow.
- Those who desert the Lord... will most definitely be consumed in such a fire...
- Deuteronomy 4:21-25
- Psalm 18
- Ezekiel 22:23-31
- Job 20
vs. 29-31: THE OAK
- “You will be ashamed of your idol worship in groves of sacred oaks. You will blush because you worshiped in gardens dedicated to idols. You will be like a great tree with withered leaves, like a garden without water. The strongest among you will disappear like straw; their evil deeds will be the spark that sets it on fire. They and their evil works will burn up together, and no one will be able to put out the fire.”
- Yet again we see a reference to the fire of God destroying the evil.
- Israel had turned from the ever-faithful God... to a strong, earthly... tree. The oak might still have been strong, might have withstood the test of time, maybe withstood some pretty harsh storms. But... it is a passing thing.
- Instead of being seen as a strong thing, the life lived under the worship of idols, would become like a great withered tree... like straw set afire... Fire destroys everything. The oak may withstand the wind... but it won't withstand the fire.
- footnote- “Throughout history, the oak tree has been a symbol of strength, but the people were worshiping “sacred oaks.” Ezekiel mentions that oak trees were used as places for idol worship (Ezekiel 6:13). Are you devoted to symbols of strength and power that rival God's place in your life? Does your commitment to any of your interests border on worship? Make God your first loyalty; everything else will fade in time and burn away under His scrutiny.”
- Isaiah 40:12-31
- Psalm 115
- Habakkuk 2:18-20
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Isaiah Chapter 1
- “These are the visions that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. He saw these visions during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah.
Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth! This is what the Lord says: The children I raised and cared for have rebelled against me. Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master's care—but Israel doesn't know its master. My people don't recognize my care for them. Oh, what a sinful nation they are—loaded down with a burden of guilt. They are evil people, corrupt children who have rejected the Lord. They have despised the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on Him.”
- God's children... His chosen people... rejected Him. They refused to acknowledge His voice. They wouldn't acknowledge His authority over them.
- For our youth meeting last night, part of dad's message was on the clay jars holding the lamps in the story of Gideon. The lights were in the clay pots... but in order for the light to shine out, the pots had to be broken. Now when we think of us as people being broken, we think of someone who is beaten down... discouraged... broken-hearted... ready to give up...
- But dad's analogy to go with this story was one of a horse. Breaking a horse, is not seen as being a bad thing. When a horse is broken... he learns to bend to the will of the master. He learns to obey the bit in his mouth... he learns to follow the master's leading.
- Without being broken, we are not useful. Until we bend our will's to the will of God... God can't use us.
- Israel's stubbornness was making them useless. They were turning away from the rule of God... They couldn't see that in wanting to live their own lives, they were condemning themselves to a useless existence.
- A horse that refuses to be broken... may still belong to the master... but he is of no use... and the master cannot build relationship with that animal. Sure he can live a great horse's life... running among the fields... free and unhindered... but... he is without much value.
- Israel was devaluing themselves. They were choosing to live outside the safety of the barn... God would have taken great care of them. He would have given them anything they needed... But instead, they are choosing to turn their fates over to the elements and scrounge for their sustenance elsewhere.
- Because of this, they are loaded down with their guilt. They have become evil and corrupt. They had broken their covenant with God. They had ceased to follow His Word.
- Oh they still followed many of the laws... but not the way God wanted them to. (this comes later in the chapter...)
- Deuteronomy 32:1-47
- Jeremiah 3:1-6:30
- “Why do you continue to invite punishment? Must you rebel forever? Your head is injured, and your heart is sick. You are battered from head to foot—covered with bruises, welts, and infected wounds—without any soothing ointments or bandages. Your country lies in ruins, and your towns are burned. Foreigners plunder your fields before your eyes and destroy everything they see. Beautiful Jerusalem stands abandoned like a watchman's shelter in a vineyard, like a lean-to in a cucumber field after the harvest, like a helpless city under siege. If the Lord of Heaven's Armies had not spared a few of us, we would have been wiped out like Sodom, destroyed like Gomorrah.”
- Because Israel is denying God access and rule over their lives... they are also denying His protection and help. So in doing so... they are inviting punishment to come down upon them. They are rebelling... and rebellion always leads to consequences and punishments.
- Jeremiah 44
- Teaching elementary school... I have seen this so many times lately...
- Earlier in the school year... I had an incident with... “Harry”. I absolutely love this kid. He's a kid that comes from a less than great home life. I don't know all the details... but I know there's some issues there. I've been teaching at this school for 4 years now. Harry is one of my best kids. He loves music and he works hard at it. He's enthusiastic. I know he has some behavior problems... but they always happen in other classes. I've never had to write him up for anything in 4 years. I sit down and talk to him for a minute and we talk about fixing the problem... and he's fine. If it's a problem with another student, we move him away from the student and talk about controlling our anger... Harry has always responded well to this.
- We started recorders this year with Harry's class. At the beginning of the unit they were told that if they played while I was giving instruction that their instrument would be taken away. After every song, they are instructed to place the instrument in their laps so we can talk about the next song and walk through any new concepts together. They get 3 chances. The third time they play during instruction, their instrument gets taken away.
- The first day was a free day. If it was taken away... it was just for the remainder of class. They would get one more try the following week.
- Harry got his taken away. Oh he SCREAMED! He threw a FIT! He was given... way more than his three chances and the last time... I asked him to put his recorder under his chair (for the third time) and he looked at me... and blew on his recorder. So I took it away.
- He walked to the front of the class and sat down to scream and cry... I gave him a choice... he could either calm himself down and sit through the rest of class and we'd talk about giving him his recorder back next class... or he could take a trip to the principal's office... He refused to answer... just continued to scream in my face... so I finally called the office to have someone come get him.
- About the time I called the office... it was like it suddenly dawned on him... that this was bad. This was not a fixable situation at this point.
- I had sat for about 5 minutes with this screaming child trying to convince him that all he had to do was get up, and go back to his seat. If he did that, then he got to start over the next week. But the situation was quickly getting completely out of hand...
- The rest of the class was getting worried... because they saw his unreasonableness. They started trying to convince him to calm down. “Harry... just go sit down... you'll get the instrument back next week...”
- There was a point... while we were waiting on the office to send someone down to get him... that he looked at me... and I saw in his eyes... He WANTED to fix it. He wanted to take it back... but he didn't know how to fix the problem. He didn't know what to do except to scream out his frustrations. And his crying... in that moment... turned from anger... to contrition. But he STILL refused to move. I thought we had almost conquered the storm... when the secretary came in to pick him up... and the moment was over... he just got up and ran out of the room. *sigh*
- The hard part is... I love this kid. And to feel like... over the years we've built such a good trust and relationship... we've worked on issues together and it was like... he was trying to manipulate that relationship in order to get what he wanted... and he'd never tried that with me. He's one of my kids who... I was always surprised when other teachers would tell me that they were having terrible problems with him... because he never gave me any trouble... at least not like this...
- What I got from this whole experience was how God sometimes looks at us...
- We get in these places where we just want to have our own way. We have a choice to either follow the rules... or accept a punishment... But in the case of “Harry”... sometimes... we think if we demand things of God enough times... that He'll eventually give in to us. But it doesn't work that way. God is not a parent who is easily won over with our melodramatic fits. He has standards that will not be compromised.
- God is asking us to get up and turn from our stubbornness... There is a way to fix our rebellion. He offers us free and open forgiveness... He offers a way out of our sin and guilt... we just have to bend to the bit. Even when it seems like we've gone past the point of repentance... God is still willing to save us.
- God is a God of justice. When we make decisions... consequences come. Even if God's heart breaks when He has to allow the consequences... He doesn't always shield us from them... If He did... we'd forever be demanding our right to do whatever we liked without consequences. Sometimes God will shield us from consequences... in the hope that His mercy and grace will convince us to turn from our sin... however... as we see with Israel and Judah... God only kept them from their enemies for so long.
- Soon after Isaiah made this prophesy, Israel was taken into captivity by Assyria. Judah followed about 130 years or so later into captivity to Babylon.
- II Kings 17:5-23
- Isaiah points out all the things that are going on around Israel... the cities lying in ruins... the foreigners plundering everything in sight... they have been beaten down... and you'd THINK that they would start to look for relief... that they would start to realize that they need God to do a work in their lives... however... instead... they just continue to rebel.
- Leviticus 26
- “If the Lord of Heaven's Armies had not spared a few of us, we would have been wiped out like Sodom, destroyed like Gomorrah.”
- Do you remember why Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed?
- Genesis 18:20-21 says: “So t he Lord told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know.”
- In His conversation with Abraham, God agreed not to destroy Sodom if there could be found 10 righteous people in the city...
- But they weren't there... and the cities were destroyed.
- Here Isaiah compares Israel with these infamously sinful cities... This is such a HUGE insult! I mean think about it! Isaiah is calling the chosen children of God out as equal to the most sinful cities in human history.
- “Listen to the Lord, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.”
- When Abraham tried to bargain with God for Sodom... it was because his nephew, Lot, was living there. A city or nation will reflect the kind of leader it has... and there was not a righteous person found in Sodom.
- The leaders of Israel were just as corrupt. They had led the people into idol worship and away from the worship of God.
- One of the first things that Jeroboam did when the northern kingdom split off from Judah was to set up golden calves for the people to worship.
- “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the Lord. I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure form the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting—they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.”
- In Acts 17, there's a story about Paul preaching in Athens... while in Athens, he saw a shrine dedicated to the unknown god. They were covering all the bases... they had all these gods to appease... but just in case there was one they didn't know about... they decided to pray to that one as well...
- Israel was kind of doing the same thing. They were worshiping all these idols... but they wanted to smooth things over with God as well. So they continued to bring their sacrifices and observe all the festivals etc. hoping to keep Him happy without actually having to commit to anything. But that's not what God wants from His people.
- Again it's like that horse that needs to be broken... we might be His people... but we have to learn to allow the Master to lead us where He wants us to go in order to be useful... And if we're not useful... well...
- In Revelation 3:15-16 says: “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”
- Something that is cold is refreshing. It soothes, it restores, it awakens. Something that is hot is healing. It restores and builds up.
- If we are neither refreshing in our walk nor healing towards others... what good are we? He goes on in that section to say that He sees all that we do and say... and that we don't realize our true need. He asks in verse 19 that we turn from our indifference.
- God doesn't want apathetic followers. Nor does He want haphazard or accidental faith.
- Israel was going through the motions. They were offering up tainted sacrifices from hearts that were bent on wickedness and sin. God was disgusted with their religion.
- Have you ever met someone like that? Or been like that yourself? So caught up in what songs you sing or the liturgical order of things that you leave God out of the church equation?
- I grew up in a church that just kinda had church until they felt like it was time to go home. There was no set end time...
- So now... to go to a church where they watch the clock, or get upset with the pastor for going over his set half hour... it's like... seriously? You're going to limit God to a time schedule?
- Sure... I don't want to sit there all day for nothing... but if God is moving and it's a message worth hearing... what's wrong with sitting a little longer?
- We can get so caught up in what is or isn't holy... or socially acceptable... that we lose sight of why we're really there.
- There's a song by Matt Redman called “Heart of Worship.” The chorus says “I'm coming back to the heart of worship and it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus. I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it, when it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus.”
- Our worship is about Jesus. It's not about what song we're singing... or how well we sing... or if we do or don't play an instrument. It's about communication with our God. It's about letting God speak to our hearts and letting Him touch something in us.
- Israel had made worship about themselves. They still observed their fast days... which were supposed to be a day of drawing near to God... except... now they were just fasting in order to look righteous. It wasn't because they wanted to... it was just a social practice.
- Christ rebuked the Pharisees in Matthew 6 when He told His followers to not be “like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don't be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!”
- God doesn't care how flashy you are. He doesn't care how proper or holy you seem when you're in public places. He cares about your heart. He wants to know that your heart belongs to Him.
- A husband and wife are not going to care so much about what kind of relationship they present to the public, if their home life is a terrible one. A married couple who fight all the time, who have no respect for one another... are not going to automatically slip into being a very loving, passionate couple in public... it's not going to be natural... and it's not going to feel quite right. And someone who knows them well... will know that something is wrong.
- God doesn't want our lip service. He wants our hearts and our devotion. He wants a vessel He can use to spread His light... not one that wants to run around care-free with no thought of anyone but themselves.
- “Wash your hands and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”
Allow the Lord to break you for his service and for your good.
- Micah 3
- Ezekiel 16:35-63
- Malachi 1:6-3:18
- Psalm 26
- Jeremiah 25:1-38
Well... I've debated over doing Isaiah for so long. I've never felt ready to tackle it... but I REALLY want to study through it. I still don't know that I can get through the whole thing or if I can really get at ALL there is in Isaiah... but I'm going to try it.
66 chapters of prophecy.
Isaiah is considered one of the greatest prophets. He is known as one of the major prophets. He was a prophet to Judah. When Israel's kingdom was split, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained under one king, and the rest of Israel elected another king. This split remained for the rest of Israel's history.
So Isaiah was a prophet (mostly) to those Southern two tribes. There are times when Isaiah prophesied to Israel, or even to the nations surrounding Israel and Judah, but for the most part, he was centered in Judah.
So what is a prophet? A prophet was someone whom God sent to speak to a people with a specific word straight from the lips of God. When we think about prophecy, a lot of time we think of something along the lines of a fortune teller... but not always did a prophet come to tell someone their futures. Sometimes it was a rebuke, as in the case of David and Nathan after David sinned with Bathsheba.
As we saw in the book of Jonah, sometimes a prophet was sent as a warning to a city, a nation, or a specific person. Isaiah prophesied during the time of the following kings: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh. His ministry spanned about 70 years. According to tradition, Manasseh had Isaiah executed by having him sawed in half. This was a terrible execution. The person was placed inside a hallow log... and then the log was sawed in half while they were in it and couldn't move.
The thing I find most interesting in reading and studying Isaiah is that, much of his prophecy had three implications.
1. for the people and time in which he was living.
2. For the time of Christ and the people of that time.
And 3. For us today.
When God spoke through Isaiah it was in such a way that it has forever remained relevant. There is something in the way that it is written that makes it applicable. Which could not have happened by chance.
As Isaiah speaks God's warnings to the nations of Judah and Israel... I want to take a look at our own nations... and I want to begin to pray that God would raise up a people who are willing to stand as Isaiah stood against the sin in his nation... no matter what... so that the Word of God would go forth in truth and might. In many ways, I feel that we as a world are standing on the precipice of judgment. We cannot go on as we are much longer without God taking action against the rising amount of sin... which just seems to spread like a highly contagious disease... amongst the young and the old...
I hope that the words of Isaiah awaken our hearts to desire repentance as an immediate necessity within our world. I hope that God will once again speak to our nations... that we will be given one more chance to come to a place of repentance... that the people of our world... will be given one more chance to be saved from the wrath of God...