:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Isaiah Chapter 5:8-19

Isaiah Chapter 5:8-19

vs. 8-12

- “What sorrow for you who buy up house after house and field after field until everyone is evicted and you live alone in the land. But I have heard the Lord of Heaven's Armies swear a solemn oath: 'Many houses will stand deserted; even beautiful mansions will be empty. Ten acres of vineyard will not produce even six gallons of wine. Ten baskets of seed will yield only one basket of grain.' What sorrow for those who get up early in the morning looking for a drink of alcohol and spend long evenings drinking wine to make themselves flaming drunk. They furnish wine and lovely music at their grand parties—lyre and harp, tambourine and flute—but they never think about the Lord or notice what He is doing.”

- footnote- “In this section (8-25) God condemns six sins:

1. exploiting others
2. drunkenness
3. taking pride in sin
4. confusing moral standards
5. being conceited
6. perverting justice.
Because of these sins, God punished Israel with destruction by Assyria. A similar fate was awaiting Judah if they didn't turn from these sins.”

- Judah was becoming greedy and selfish.

- The buying up of land around them was something they weren't supposed to do to their brothers. In Leviticus 25, the law was given that if you sold land to someone else whether to a tribal member or to someone else, then the seller was to keep the right to redeem the land back later. Or in the year of jubilee (which came every 50 years) the land would revert back to the original family owners. They weren't supposed to keep it for forever. They technically weren't buying the land itself. Verse 16 says “after all, the person selling the land is actually selling you a certain number of harvests.” They were buying the right to harvest the land for the number of years until the family could redeem it, or it reverted back at the time of Jubilee.

- Land laws were set up so that the land never left the possession of the tribal family or the family that the land was allotted to. Everybody got a fair portion and had the ability to care for their families. Nobody could be homeless with these laws. They provided a consistent place for each family to reside.

- In Leviticus 26, God said: “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land. I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land. In fact, you will chase down your enemies and slaughter them with your swords.... I will look favorably upon you, making you fertile and multiplying your people. And I will fulfill my covenant with you. You will have such a surplus of crops that you will need to clear out the old grain to make room for the new harvest! I will live among you, and I will not despise you. I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be My people.”

- This was the promise... However, Israel walked away... and although God tried many times to change their minds and get them back on the right path, they persisted in their sin. So they were taken into captivity and their cities were destroyed. They were so scattered that by the time of Jesus, the tribes of Israel had been swallowed up and they became known as the Samaritans rather than as children of Israel. They had intermarried enough that their past heritage was lost...

- Judah is following that same path. They have turned away from the decrees of God and broken the covenant that they made with Him.

- Hence the land will be deserted. The things that have strove to build up around them... will be taken away. All their many acres of crop land... will not produce even a tenth of what it's supposed to.

- Judah has started looking to their own pleasures instead following the decrees of God. When it talks about those who get up early looking for alcohol and then spend all evening drinking... and having grand parties with great entertainment for them. Worried more about their daily pleasures than anything else... it says that they never think about the Lord or notice what He's doing.

- They have blinded themselves to God and all the things of God.

- In Philippians 3:18-19 says: “....there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.”

- Colossians 3 warns us that we are to look to the things of heaven and stay focused on Christ rather than on earthly things.

- “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.... So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don't be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don't lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him.” (vs. 1-10)

- As Christians, we are to avoid lifestyles that pull us away from God... or that will make us focus on earthly things as opposed to heavenly things.

- Judah was long past the pulling away stage. They were entirely focused on the things of this earth. From their waking up, to their laying down again... from morning til night... totally focused on themselves.

- footnote- “These people spent many hours drinking and partying, but Isaiah predicted that eventually many would die of hunger and thirst. Ironically, our pleasures—if they do not have God's blessing—may destroy us. Leaving God out of our lives allows sin to come in. Pursuing our own pleasure while ignoring or exploiting the needs of others leaves us empty and under God's anger. God wants us to enjoy life (I Timothy 6:17) but to avoid those activities that could lead us away from Him.”

- Romans 1:18-2:16

vs. 13-17

- “So my people will go into exile far away because they do not know Me. Those who are great and honored will starve, and the common people will die of thirst. The grave is licking its lips in anticipation, opening its mouth wide. The great and the lowly and all the drunken mob will be swallowed up. Humanity will be destroyed, and people brought down; even the arrogant will lower their eyes in humiliation. But the Lord of Heaven's Armies will be exalted by His justice. The holiness of God will be displayed by His righteousness. In that day lambs will find good pastures, and fattened sheep and young goats will feed among the ruins.”

- Because Judah no longer knows her God... because she has walked away from the husband of her heart... He will send her away into exile.

- Have you ever heard the term “gold digger”? It refers to women who seek to marry men for their money... and then usually divorce them soon after if they can get away with it... or marry old men who the woman is hoping will die soon so that she can get all of his money...the last few years there has been a lot of young girls getting pregnant by old men on social security so their children will have the social security benefits!

- Judah had become that kind of wife. She was using God for His provisions... but not really loving Him for who He was. They had ceased to know God for Himself.

- Hebrews 3:5-4:7

- I've been reading a book by A. W. Tozer, “The Knowledge of the Holy.” He says that “[a]mong the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry, for idolatry is at bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is—in itself a monstrous sin—and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness. Always this God will conform to the image of the one who created it and will be base or pure, cruel or kind, according to the moral state of the mind from which it emerges.”

- In their minds they had made God into something that fit their idea of the kind of god that they wanted to have... one who wouldn't discipline them... one who wouldn't care if they sinned... one that would let things slide... one who would bless them no matter what they who created them and therefore accepted all their “faults.”

- And in doing so, they began to ignore the voice of God and the things they KNEW to be true about God... They forgot the past... or said that God had changed...

- This happens with us today as well... We change our mindset about God and in effect, change who He is to us... except that He hasn't changed... He is unchanging... everlasting...

- James 1:17 says: “He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” and Hebrews 13:8 says: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

- God doesn't change.

- I don't know how many times I've heard “Well... that's the God of the Old Testament... God's not like that any more...” or “God's getting older... He's getting soft in His old age.” or “God's out of date and He knows it so He's just letting us drift through because He knows He can't keep up with the times.'”God has gray areas for those special circumstances.”

- Seriously? I don't think so! GOD DOES NOT CHANGE! He's the SAME! So His thoughts on sin haven't changed. Just as He was going to expel Israel from the land because of their unbelief, so will He turn aside from us if we continually walk away. Just as He punished their sin, so will He punish ours. Just as their nation fell when their sin grew to huge proportions, so will our nations fall because of their sin.

- God hasn't changed... no matter how many centuries have passed...

- If we walk away and refuse to know God as Himself... His reaction to us... will be the same as it was to Israel...

- Malachi 3:6
- I Samuel 15:28-29
- Numbers 23:19
- Romans 11:1-36
- Ephesians 5:1-20
- Colossians 3:1-17

vs. 18-19

- “What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them with ropes made of lies, who drag wickedness behind them like a cart! They even mock God and say, 'Hurry up and do something! We want to see what you can do. Let the Holy One of Israel carry out His plan; for we want to know what it is.'”

- Dragging sin and wickedness... pulling it with you wherever you go... the burdens we carry...

- But it's not just that... it's that the sin and wickedness are displayed for all to see... it's not just in their hearts... they're taking it around with them everywhere! It's infected every area of their lives...(and everyone around them ).

- So whether they are dragging them around with guilty burdens... or whether they are flaunting them for all to see with pride in their sins... they are still carrying them around... maybe the lies are covering them up... or maybe the lies are what they tell themselves... maybe they keep telling themselves that they're alright... that there's no reason to repent. Maybe it's that kind of lie...

- And then they have the audacity to command God?! This echoes of the moment at the cross when they asked Jesus to prove that He was the Son of God by coming down off the cross. “Prove your existence and THEN we'll believe in you. When you prove that you are powerful... when you prove that you are worth following... THEN we'll follow...” But had He not already proved Himself?

- God has proved His existence a hundred times over... He has proven His love for us as His creation... and yet... we continue to throw up to God this command of “prove yourself.”

- I was reading a book by Lee Stroebel last week called “A Case for a Creator.” He had a couple of quotes from different scientists that went a little like “even though I'm an atheist I have to admit the probable existence of something outside the universe as creator.”

- In His creation, God has proclaimed His presence and His greatness.

- Through Christ's sacrifice, He has proven that He will do whatever it takes to save us... because He loves us THAT much. He loved us enough to come to earth and bear all the pain and humiliation... just for us... just for our sake.

- So why the hold up? Why do we still ask God to prove Himself?

- Well partly because our human minds just can't comprehend the incomprehensible... to rationalize God is to put Him into human terms and human boxes... and He doesn't fit... so therefore, our minds just can't wrap around the idea that is God.

- and partly, I think it comes down to our rebelling human nature. We want an excuse not to follow.

- I had a friend once who told me that when God came down and sat in his living room and told him that He was real and living and wanted him to follow... then he would... but until then... he wasn't going to follow some God that wouldn't talk to him or prove his existence...

- That's not how God works... He who seeks... finds... He who doesn't seek... won't find. God doesn't reveal Himself to people who don't care to listen. If you read through the gospels, you will find that God told the Pharisees the truth... He told them exactly Who He was... but it was with His disciples that He sat down to explain the parables and His teachings... not to the Pharisees...

- Luke 8:4-18
- Mark 7:1-23; 10:1-12
- Matthew 13:1-52; 15:1-20

- The gospel does go forth... and people do come to tell you about God... but God is not going to force Himself on you... and He's not going to throw His pearls before swine... He's not going to open Himself up for interpretation and explanation to someone who is just going to toss it aside as nothing.

- However... to a ready and willing heart... the seeker... will find.

- “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)