Posts Tagged ‘Isaiah’

Woe to those who join house to house; They add field to field, Till there is no place Where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land…Woe to those who rise early in the morning, That they may follow intoxicating drink; Who continue until night, till wine inflames them…to those who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, And sin as if with a cart rope; That say, “Let Him make speed and hasten His work, That we may see it; And let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come, That we may know it.” Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight! Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away justice from the righteous man! Isaiah 5:8, 11, 18-23

Woe vs. Whoa

The word woe in the ancient Hebrew, means ‘alas’ or ‘lo,’ however in today’s Bible passage we can also appreciate the overt interpretation of ‘a passionate cry of grief or despair’ as spoken by God through His prophet Isaiah — we can say without a doubt our wicked behavior grieves our Lord.

Whoa, take ‘er easy there, Pilgrim.

That of course is not an excerpt from the book of Isaiah, but a quote from the character Tom Doniphon, as portrayed by John Wayne in the 1962 classic, ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.’ The quotation reminded me that although God grieves for His children, He also lovingly warns us to whoa; that is to stop those behaviors that will ultimately lead to our harm and destruction. For that reason this section of Isaiah, at its core, is a call to repentance, not just for historical Israel, but for us today.

The Six Woes

This might be an over simplification of the six woes, but essentially we get a glimpse of the aberrant social activities that were prevalent in those days. Take note that we haven’t changed much as a society in the three thousand years since this prophesy was given.

  1. Piggish Capitalism: consumptive hoarding at the expense and oppression of others.
  2. Hedonism: the excessive pursuit of selfish and perverse pleasure, rejecting all moral values.
  3. Spiritual Apathy: the false notion that God doesn’t care about sin or that He winks at our sin.
  4. Relativism: a concept that maintains there are no absolute truths; what’s wrong for you may be right for me.
  5. Intellectualism: the notion that man is wiser than God; evolution of species is our prime example.
  6. Substance Abuse: the addiction that always follows unrestrained perversity.

The Warnings

God is not mocked and (it’s a promise of God), we will reap that which we sow — those who practice these things and similar will suffer greatly – ancient Israel suffered and we will also suffer. We are already feeling the birth pangs of consequence. Corporately and individually, the unrepentive have these things to look forward to:

Desolate homes
Scant vineyards
Spiritual isolation
Spiritual blindness
Moral bankruptcy

Therefore the anger of the Lord is aroused against His people; He has stretched out His hand against them And stricken them, And the hills trembled. Their carcasses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this His anger is not turned away, But His hand is stretched out still. Isaiah 5:25

Our Hope

But His hand is stretched out still. Isaiah 5:25

To those who would say that our God is a condemning God, we share this hope – the God who warns is the God who also saves. He came with outstretched arms to provide our escape and His hand He has never retracted. Ours is Jesus who willingly endured the cross for all humanity, for all who would confess, repent, and believe to receive His gracious gift of salvation and submit themselves to His loving and refining authority.

“…If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
  1. How does this relate to the United States?
  2. How does this relate to you individually?
  3. Do you see the way of escape?
  4. What is your prayer today?

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Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. Ezra 1:1-3

Israel has been held in brutal captivity for 70 years and the Lord had raised up a leader to set her free. Miraculously, 150 years earlier, the Lord through the prophet Isaiah foretold of these events. Cyrus, this non-Jewish liberator, had no idea these prophesies existed until Daniel had pointed them out to him

Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid…Thus says the Lord to His anointed, To Cyrus…I have raised him up in righteousness, And I will direct all his ways; He shall build My city And let My exiles go free, Not for price nor reward,” Says the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 44:28; 45:1a + 13

Wow. If Cyrus wasn’t mentioned by name in this passage from Isaiah, I would swear it was about Jesus Christ! God’s ‘shepherd’, His ‘anointed,’ His temple re-builder; sure sounds like Jesus to me. Well it isn’t Jesus, but in Cyrus we do have a representation of the One to come, for Cyrus, in the typology is a picture of Jesus. Oh yes, and the rebuilding of the temple is a picture of us!

Who Wants to Go HOME?

The Babylonians were an atrocious people. At this juncture Cyrus no doubt figured that when he asked, “Who wants to go back to Jerusalem,” all of the two million or so Jews would have caused a stampede. The fact is only about forty two thousand; less than four percent of them, responded to the invitation to go home. The others, well they had become comfortable in their situation and decided to stay put. How about you; are you comfortable in your situation; are you ready to go home?

Like these Jews, most of America is comfortable in their circumstances. Sure, we might have uttered a salvation prayer a few years back, but now we see church as a legalistic inconvenience. “After all,” we might say, “it’s not about religion; it’s about a relationship…and I choose to relate to Jesus as I watch the football game.” Second Timothy 3:1-4 provides a stark revelation on the issue:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.

Form of godliness

I suppose the question is, “Are you a born again believer or a reasonable facsimile; are you in fact just a poser?” Look at the 2nd Timothy list—which of those components apply to your situation—in which of those things are you finding comfort? The good news is that the invitation Cyrus gave to Israel is the same invitation Jesus gives to us today, “Do you want to go home?”

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?

Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
Coming for you and for me.

Oh, for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

Will L. Thomson

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These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at Calvary Chapel Coastlands.

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Also you shall have a place outside the camp, where you may go out; and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse. For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you. Deuteronomy 23:12-14

When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go

There are critical issues being addressed in this seemingly insignificant passage. The first revolves around the matter of privacy and/or those things we do that we think God knows nothing about. God knows. What better way to drive that fact home by His addressing this particular subject. Our God is omniscient–all knowing, omnipotent–all powerful, and like it or not, omnipresent–always in attendance. The biblical application is not that we merely cover-over the refuse of our lives, but we bury it as if it were worthless and as if it were dead.

It is in our gratitude and reverence of Him we clean-up after ourselves, reckoning our old man dead and buried. He is in our midst; therefore we should not subject Him to an untidy home, filthy language, and/or inappropriate television programming. And that’s just the short list. If our Lord is concerned with our basest functions (and He is), is it not safe to assume He cares deeply about purity in all these other areas of our lives.

But it Doesn’t Make Any Sense

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, ” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

To the Jews of this day, the idea of going outside the camp in order to do one’s business, and then burying it, was ludicrous. Today, we see the wisdom, but to Israel [then] it made no sense whatsoever. This passage demonstrates, as do so many others, that although we may not understand the reasoning behind our Father’s mandates, it is still a wise thing to execute them.

Consider for example the mom signaling her child from the road because she sees the truck barreling closer. She perceives the eminent danger, but in the time it might take to explain the circumstances, the child would be exposed to a great danger. Similarly, and with greatest accuracy, God sees down a much bigger road and the dangers that loom ahead for all humanity. God provides direction that may seem illogical in the present, but will be proved righteous in the passing of all time. Sometimes, God does take the time to explain, but when He does not we must trust His counsel.

Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right; The righteous walk in them, But transgressors stumble in them. Hosea 14:9

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At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release. Deuteronomy 15:1-2Timeout, But No Jubilee

Every seven years God ordained that His people take a break. His land would rest, His people would take it easy, and the bill collectors would take a break and in so doing, everyone would have the opportunity to catch-up. When the eighth year rolled around, everything would pick-up where it left off in year six. Therefore, the release of debts spoken of here (I believe) is not a forgiveness of a person’s obligation, but rather a twelve month sabbatical towards any debt owed. True release (or forgiveness) of debts came in the fiftieth year, or the Year of Jubilee.

Not so Good News

The bad news is that there is no historical record whatsoever of Israel (or any other people group for that matter) ever having celebrated the Year of Jubilee and exercising God’s directive to forgive debt. How come—why didn’t Israel do as God told them to do? For the same reason we probably wouldn’t—it doesn’t make any sense; it’s not good business; it’s too costly a venture to practice and there’s always the ‘what if’ factor, “What if I forgive you your debt, but my debtors don’t forgive me mine?” Faith and obedience always suffer when we factor in the world.

God’s Acceptable Year

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord… Isaiah 61:1-2

When Isaiah referred to the acceptable year of the Lord, it was an allusion to the Year of Jubilee, that festive commemoration that Israel perpetually failed to celebrate. In essence Isaiah’s prophecy was pronouncing that which man has fouled will be fulfilled by Jesus Christ—forgiveness and salvation for all who would believe.

Our Jubilee: Jesus Christ

And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:17-21

Lovingly, Jesus told the crowd that they failed. Mercifully He proclaimed that He would not. The acceptable year of the Lord had arrived; the imprisoned would have their freedom, the blind would have their sight, and the hopeless would have their forgiveness. Jesus is our triumphant Jubilee and the resolution towards any man’s debt. Only Jesus could be the Good News for He alone is good.

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And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ’You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Exodus 19:3-4

God had broken Egypt’s yoke of oppression upon Israel and He accomplished the feat in a style miraculous. No one else could have possibly achieved this compliment for Israel in the manner or for the purpose it was done and now God wants Israel to remember. This reminder comes just prior to the receiving of the Law; the mirror that reflects our sinful character and the road sign that points us to the only solution in Jesus Christ. In this recount, God makes application to an eagle and her fledgling; an analogy that He will return to over and over again in His word.

As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, Spreading out its wings, taking them up, Carrying them on its wings, Deuteronomy 32:11

Stirring up the Nest

For the baby eagle the nest is a very comfy place, but as it matures that once cozy respite becomes less and less comfortable—by design. When the fledglings become restless and fidgety with their surroundings, it is a sign to mama to stir things up. As we are likely familiar, one by one each bird is thrown overboard. We also know that after a brief free-fall, mama swoops in and rescues each one, but on one of those occasions, baby bird will spread his wings, catch a draft, and rise spectacularly. No other animal creature on earth captures this maturation process more dramatically than the eagle and why God makes use of the imagery repeatedly.

But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

In many ways Egypt was a nest for Israel. When they had arrived there four hundred years earlier, it was a safe, albeit temporary haven, but as they matured as a nation it became a bit rough and scratchy to say the least. The trials Israel endured up until this point were akin to being shoved out of an uninhabitable aerie, only to be caught into the loving arms of God and given safe passage to the other side. Sadly, Israel has yet to realize the process that they are undergoing, despite God’s continued explanation. The question for us is do we grasp God’s methodology in this our sanctification?

Waiting on the Lord

“Those who wait on the Lord,” is an oft misunderstood Bible verse. While ‘waiting’ most certainly applies to long-suffering and patience, its primary application (as it pertains to the Isaiah passage) is revealed in what a waiter does in the performance of his duties—he ‘waits’ on his customer. When we are told to wait on the Lord, we are being directed towards Christian service so that He may renew our strength, so that we might mount up with wings like eagles, so that we may run and not grow weary, and so we can walk and not faint. Oh, these are not things we must do towards salvation (Jesus finished that work), but rather things we ought to do in order to further God’s Kingdom according to God’s perfect plan. We can squawk and complain, or we can do as James suggested in his epistle…

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

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Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried out to Pharaoh, saying, “Why are you dealing thus with your servants? There is no straw given to your servants, and they say to us, ’Make brick!’ And indeed your servants are beaten, but the fault is in your own people.” Exodus 5:15-16Woe is Me

Have you ever had a problem or issue so grievous, you felt compelled to plead your case to the most significant person you knew or could find? I have had a few of those in my life and I have handled them in a variety of ways. I have penned letters to editors, spoken to attorneys, and have even sought the assistance of local politician; anyone who might rally behind my cause.

I can now say without any prevarication that all those endeavors were humongous wastes of time and effort—especially those involving politicians. It would appear by today’s text that these early Jewish leaders would agree. They had a problem and soon discovered that presenting the case to Pharaoh achieved two negative results: the problem got worse and their recovery was delayed. What should they have done and to whom should they have brought their troubles?

“Woe to the rebellious children, ” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, That they may add sin to sin… Isaiah 30:1

Reading the words of the Lord through His prophet Isaiah should give us pause. God has made it extraordinarily clear that we are to bring our issues to Him and He will give us guidance. Perhaps God might counsel us to go to another, but to do so without first seeking His blessing is sinful and with that comes consequence. Don’t be mistaken, it’s not a curse God imposes upon us, but rather one we bring upon ourselves. When we know what is right and act contrarily, there is always a cost—rebellion is an expensive luxury the Christian cannot afford. Let all our cries be brought before our Mighty Counselor.

“Present your case, ” says the Lord. “Bring forth your strong reasons, ” says the King of Jacob…For I looked, and there was no man; I looked among them, but there was no counselor, Who, when I asked of them, could answer a word. Indeed they are all worthless; Their works are nothing; Their molded images are wind and confusion. Isaiah 41:21, 28-29

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“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” Revelation 3:7-8You Gotta Love Philadelphia

In Jesus’ letter to the church of Philadelphia there is one thing [that is] missing that makes it notable; there is no criticism of the church. Does that mean this church (which still endures to this very day) was perfect? Certainly not, but when we read the praise that our Lord has for her, we might better understand what the writer of Proverbs 10:12 meant when he penned…‘love covers all sins.’

Key Club

Jesus also makes mention that He possesses the ‘Key of David.’ I find that fascinating, because Jesus had earlier said in Revelation 1:18 that He also possessed the ‘keys of Hades and Death.’ What is with all the keys?

The first thing we need to remember (particularly as it pertains to hell and death) is that Jesus is not the one throws us in hell, locks the door, and then tosses away the key. To the contrary, Jesus is the only One who possesses the key to unlock the door to hell and release us from certain bondage. If you or I wind-up in hell, it is only because we have refused to ask Jesus to unlock the door.

The ‘Key of David’ was previously spoken of in Isaiah 22. In that time a fellow named Shebna had access a key to the treasury (representative of this key) and he royally abused his authority, spending excessive amounts of wealth on chariots and a hewn grave for himself. Needless to say, the key was taken away from Shebna and Isaiah records this incredible prophesy that wonderfully coordinates with our opening Bible passage (generally) and Jesus Christ (specifically).

The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open. I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, And he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house. ’They will hang on him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the posterity, all vessels of small quantity, from the cups to all the pitchers. In that day, ’ says the Lord of hosts, ’the peg that is fastened in the secure place will be removed and be cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it will be cut off; for the Lord has spoken.’ Isaiah 22:22-25

Three Things to Latch Onto

The church at (or of) Philadelphia is still active to this day, therefore, in these words from Jesus there is an application for us–there are three things that church was doing (and is currently doing), that we need to align ourselves with.

First we notice that Jesus reminds us that we have ‘a little’ strength. It implies a few things in combination. The strength we have is from above, we do not need a lot to accomplish that which He desires, and that those huge, miraculous events of years gone by have in fact ‘gone by’. Does that mean there are no miracles today? Do not be ridiculous, of course there are, but just not to the magnitude and frequency of years past.

Second, this church is a church that keeps God’s Word–this church opens its Bible together, reads God’s Word together, believes the Bible in its entirety, and desires to be obedient to it. If that is not your church, then get out (you are likely in one of the previous churches that Jesus addressed earlier).

The third attribute goes with the second in one regard; for this church does not deny His name. In other words, this church recognizes Christ’s deity and singular purpose. This is a church that stands upon the Rock and will not falter.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:13

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