REPETITION

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Assyrian

IT WILL COME

Isaiah issued God’s warnings in the last chapter, and perhaps Israel has not seen any proof yet.  He may be mocked by those who do not believe him.  He has a son and gives him a name that will refresh their memory.  God has spoken and Isaiah will not fail to keep the message alive.  As they continue to trust in their own strength and in alliances he reminds them of their destiny, a date with destruction.

Isaiah 8

1 Moreover the Lord said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man’s pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz.  2 And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.  3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the Lord to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.  4 For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.

God tells Isaiah to publish a large public prophetic announcement.  So he got help from two others for that assignment.  At the same time he conceived a son by a prophetess which they named Mahershalalhashbaz, meaning that destruction was coming quickly.  This name was to testify that the Assyrians would come against Syria and Samaria and spoil their prosperity.

5 The Lord spake also unto me again, saying,  6 Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son;  7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks:  8 And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.

King Hezekiah in Judah provided a pool of water supplied by an aqueduct in case Jerusalem came under siege.  That quiet source in Judah was of the house of David, and was rejected by the people of Samaria who admired the great leaders of Samaria and Syria like wild rivers instead.  Against them the king of Assyria would overflow like an even greater river, even over much of Judah but not over Jerusalem.  The Assyrian raptor would spread its wings over much of the promised land, but not all.

9 Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces.  10 Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.  11 For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,12 Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.

Alliances and associations will not save the rebellious from destruction.  They can put on their armor and prepare for battle, but they will still be defeated.  They may hope for God to help, but he says he will not.  Isaiah has been warned not to encourage them to make alliances or follow false hope.

13 Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.  14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.

God alone is to be their only fear, as in rebellion he will not be a shelter, but rather a stumbling block.  God becomes a trap, a snare to the rebellious, even in Jerusalem.  Although the city will survive, many of Judah will fall.

16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.  17 And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.  18 Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. 

Isaiah offers to the faithful the law and the testimony of truth.  He promises to wait on God, and to seek his face.  He and the faithful of Israel are to be a testimony of the mercy of God in Mount Zion.

19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?  20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.  21 And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward.  22 And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.

Isaiah warns them to ignore those who would tempt them to turn to witchcraft when they should be seeking their own God.  If the living do not consider the living God, it is because they do not have the light of life in themselves.  If these whose words are not as this word of God hunger and weary enough to curse God and king, they will see only evil.  These will find themselves surrounded only by trouble and darkness in their defeat.

I am not a prophet, but in this book the prophets have given the world a warning.  Great nations that form alliances still face unfulfilled prophesies of destruction.  As we read the headlines, we can see people claiming to be people of God even as they defy his word.  Nations trust in military alliances even as they cut their ties with God in favor of superstition and prejudice.  Many are comfortable in the assurance that these prophesies are from long ago and still unfulfilled.  God himself sent a son to us, and his name should remind us to be true to him.  We should seek him, and ignore the temptation of false hope and witchcraft.  Our leaders are not on the path of truth, so we are accountable for our own faith.

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STORM WINDS

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LONG RANGE FORECAST

This week in Wyoming is a strange one.  We are under the remnant of a hurricane that wore itself out in Mexico.  Ordinarily a week of non-stop rain might be depressing, but we need it.  A long dry spell inspired forest fires here and in Colorado.  The rain is giving the fire fighters a good break.  God sent a little rain to Israel when they were coming under fire by the Assyrians too.  Isaiah was sent to encourage this kingdom that had split from Judah.  Israel was in rebellion in that, but God does not forget his people.  They did  need patience though because some of this prophesy was not to be delivered until the New Testament!

Isaiah 7

1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.   2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.

Long after king David, his descendants faced challenges that came in part because of the bad examples of Solomon.  The people were divided between Judah and Israel, and the Syrians used their division against them.  Ephraim was part of an alliance of Syria and Israel against Judah, whose king Ahaz was one of the sons of David and Solomon.  So when news came to Judah it was like the wind in the trees before a storm.  There was uncertainty, or even fear in the land.

3 Then said the Lord unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field;  4 And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.  5 Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying,  6 Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal:

God had the news already, and sent Isaiah to speak to king Ahaz of Judah.  The rebellion of Israel against Judah took them away from the worship God had ordained in Jerusalem.  God gave a message to Isaiah to encourage Judah.  God tells them to be quiet and not to fear.  Their brothers of Abraham’s sons were preparing to work with their Syrian enemies to war against them.  They were plotting to break through their defenses and put their own king over Judah in place of Ahaz.

7 Thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.  8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within  threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.  9 And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. 

God promised that this conspiracy would fail and be defeated.  Rezin, the king of Syria was the source of this plan that would destroy their allies, the Israeli tribe of Ephraim.  Pekah, the son of Remaliah was the leader of the tribe of Ephraim in Samaria.  You may remember that Samaria refused to worship in Jerusalem, and were hated by the Jews even in Jesus time.  To this day that group is separated, but dying out as a people.(1)  Ephraim was doomed to dy out as a tribe too.  God warns Ahaz that he must believe and trust God or he too would fail.

10 Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying,  11 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.  12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. 

God offers king Ahaz the opportunity to have a sign that proves this promise to be true.  But king Ahaz did hear the warning to be calm and trust God.  He chooses to walk by faith rather than by sight, and declines the proof that might tempt God to repent of this deliverance.  Those who believe without evidence have the substance of things that are hoped for but not yet seen.

13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?  14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.  16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

Now Isaiah is presumed to be bringing this which is a dramatic prophesy.  To the kingdom of Judah he warns them not to tempt God to provoke his anger.  There would be a sign to all of Israel when a virgin would conceive a son who would be known as Immanuel.  He would live a normal mortal life, learning the difference between good and evil.  But before the child would have that good judgment these two enemy lands would be stripped of their kings.  If we remember the later Roman conquest of Israel, Samaria and Syria were all under the Emperor as Jesus matured.  They have their sign now.

17 The Lord shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah;  even the king of Assyria.  18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.  19 And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.  20 In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard. 

For that time God warns that times will be the hardest since Samaria rebelled against Judah.  At that time God would call for the swarms of Egypt and Assyria to fill the land.  These represent two huge new armies from Egypt and Assyria that would defeat them and shame them like having their heads shaved.

21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep;  22 And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.  23 And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns.  24 With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.  25 And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle.

At some point those enemies of Israel will transition from good harvests to bad.  The vineyards will fail and the land will fall to briars and thorns.  Instead of cultivation, the land will be abandoned to grazing by the cattle they don’t really care about.

Judah was not under a truly good king, but Ahaz avoided offending God in this case.  God saw a greater conflict when Ephraim came against their brethren in an alliance with the Syrians.  He helped an unworthy king to protect Judah against this conspiracy.  He gave assurance to Judah and to all of us that the evil would be punished, and a great savior would appear when all of their kings were removed.  In our world our nations and leaders are unworthy, but there is still hope in this promise.  Israel was divided into two unworthy kingdoms under bad kings at this time.  Jesus found Pharisees and Sadducees divided about their confused religion.  Today we have Democrats and Republicans dividing our nation.  Jesus doesn’t care about your tribe because he wants your love to forgive the unworthy.  We cannot afford to war against our own people now.   No one can win souls over to the truth by anger and conflict.  We need to develop the diplomacy of love; the hope of caring for others.  We must lose our life to gain it.

(1)  Clinging to ancient traditions, the last Samaritans keep the faith…to this day!

https://www.timesofisrael.com/clinging-to-ancient-traditions-the-last-samaritans-keep-the-faith/

SERIOUS SIGNAL

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ISA 6

INCOMING MESSAGE

Does anyone remember the comedy “Third Rock From The Sun”?  Harry (French Stewart) was designated to receive messages from the “Big Giant Head”, played by William Shatner.  It was a pretty big deal, but Harry was the one who never got to hear the message.  Seriously, God has designated men to relay messages from him to his people.  In this case, Isaiah got the message very clearly, but we never seem to get it right.  To this day the power of God and his warnings are overlooked and ignored.

Isaiah 6

1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.  2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.  3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.  4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

Another prophet, Joel prohesied that God would offer gifts of knowledge to men.

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.  Joel 2:28

As this king lived in Isaiah’s younger life, I expect that this was a waking vision, not just some wild dream.  This was a dramatic revelation to happen while wide awake.  To see God in his glory in heaven per his own revelation would be an awakening, even if he were dreaming!  If God opens your eyes to the seraphim alone we might be terrified.  There are no creatures like this on earth today, and even in paleontology there have never been more than four wings on advanced life forms.  For these to have a face and a powerful voice in human language is not a familiar sight.  A temple full of smoke, shaken by this voice and filled with God’s glory is a powerful vision.  Seeing heaven or its power is limited to only seven in the bible:  Elisha and his young servant, Ezekiel, Jesus, Stephen, John, and Paul.  We only read about it, but these were swept up in the experience itself.

5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.  6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:  7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

Was Isaiah humbled and fearful to stand in the power of God?  We know that we were all born in sin, and only accumulate more as we age.  Unclean flesh cannot stand with God without his help, so God sent the seraphim with the his fire to cleanse Isaiah.  None of our paintings can show us this vision, as the human mind could not embrace all the power of this scene.  For Isaiah to be engulfed in it was sure to be a powerful experience, beyond imagery.

8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.  9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.  10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

God asks for a volunteer to carry a great message, and Isaiah doesn’t hesitate to step forward.  This is a message and a pronouncement of doom at the same time.  He observes that the people do indeed see and hear, but they do not truly understand or believe.  Now he condemns these people to their doom.  God commands that the heart, hearing, and sight of these people be made even less sensitive to this warning.  He bars them from understanding the warning in time to be saved from judgment.  Their time has run out.

11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,  12 And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.  13 But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.

Isaiah asks God how long this curse will be in effect on the people.  God responds that it will curse them until cities are abandoned, buildings empty, and until the land is barren.  The curse will last as God takes the people far away and the land shall be abandoned.  But he will allow a trace of life, as the trees that appear dead in winter, and revive in the spring.  God has a plan for life to return in his time.  Another prophet also offered hope:

And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.  Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.  Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:  And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.  Ezekiel 37: 3-6

As the world cannot avoid judgment without God’s help, he had a plan for his messiah to cleanse them once they awaken to their unclean need.  The drama of their fate would do that, and their salvation would come from God.  Now we know the name of their messiah, and we call on him for hope.  But do we truly hear and see with our heart today?  Consider the manner of rulers that we elect and measure our understanding against that of God.  Forget the demands of those who seek wild undisciplined pleasures and review the wisdom of God.  Cry out for his help, his discernment, and his deliverance.  The nations of this world are moving towards the desolation of these yet unfulfilled prophesies.

COME AGAIN

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WILDFIRE

Solomon lived in sin long enough for Israel to learn his evil ways.  He may have repented in time to save himself, but Israel was lost.  Their kings and people ignored the warnings of the prophets and the judges before them.  God sent these prophets to let people make clear choices that could save them.  These warnings were ignored and punishment came.  But the warnings are not yet all fulfilled.  Who will be delivered in the end?

Isaiah 5

5 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:  2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. 

Isaiah seems to be bringing the Song of Solomon into remembrance here.  But this vineyard is not tended by the Shulamite, but by our God, who prepares the ground himself.  After all the work he expected sweet fruit and discovered bitter wild grapes instead.  God has given a good place for mankind, and he sees less than good fruit from his children.

3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.  4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?  5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:  6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

So god asks Judah what he could have done better for them.  He asks why his vineyard should give bad fruit.  But he has a plan that he shares.  He will remove the hedge of protection and allow it to be eaten up and trampled underfoot.  He will make sure it never be re-planted or watered again.  Isaiah knows that the people of Israel have turned far from godly lives and God speaks against them here.

7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.  8 Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!  9 In mine ears said the Lord of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.  10 Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah. 

God sees Israel as his vineyard and how righteousness is not growing in it.  Instead of justice there is the cry of oppression.  There is no hope for those who form alliances that crowd out the poor from their lands.  The result will be that God will make the great homes desolate as they are punished.  The promise is that the fields of the evil will deliver a pitiful harvest of no value.

11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!  12 And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands.    13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.  14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.

There will be bad news for those who start drinking early and party into the night.  For all the music and celebrations they have no memory of the work of the Lord.  Because they are ignorant of the real knowledge of God they are destined to  captivity.  Because honest men suffer the punishment of hell is opened up on the oppressors.  Those who celebrate their own pride and greed will be devoured by the teeth of hell.

15 And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled:  16 But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness. 

17 Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat. 

Cruelty, money, and power will have no power as God will humble the rule of sinners.  In this God alone will be celebrated and acknowledged as being divine and righteous.  The meek will feed as they should while the treasures of the wealthy will be devoured by stgrangers.

18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:   19 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 nigh and come, that we may know it!  20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!  22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:  23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! 

This word of the Lord promises suffering to those who create suffering that is whitewashed in the vanity of a man, that drag the innocent along on a rope.  Those who demand that others work, and actually think that the judgment of God will be good for them who oppress the weak will be disappointed.  They are doomed who misrepresent evil works as being religious, who call evil things good.  These are so deceived that they invite the wrath of God by pretending to serve him!  There is destruction for those who place their own version of wisdom higher than that of God.  There is judgment for the powerful men who celebrate with drunkenness.  There is judgment for those who pardon the guilty for profit or bail money while condemning the innocent.

24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.  25 Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.  26 And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:

For this reason the evil will be devoured like a summer wildfire in dry underbrush.  The foundations of their works will be tinder to the fire because they scorned the word of God.  Because of this God punished Israel and Judah, and their bodies littered the streets in that day.  And yet his judgment has not ended yet, and they are still smitten.  God has promised to raise a standard that invites far away nations to come against them.  Those enemies will be swift to come on the attack.

27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:  28 Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:  29 Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it.  30 And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.

These warriors will not be given to fatigue or weakness in their stride, their energy will need no rest.  Their gear is strong and their weapons are sharp as the most advanced weapons of war.  This army will roar and pounce like a young lion, seizing the victims of Israel like prey, and carrying them off.  The roar of war shall be like the ocean waves as destruction, grief, and sorrow darken the land.

As Isaiah states, this judgment came to Israel, yet he indicates that it is not over yet.  The behavior of Israel may retain some of the errors found in Isaiah’s time even now.  But if Israel was, and yet may be punished, are other nations exempt from such judgment?  Another prophet will follow Isaiah with warnings that have not yet been fulfilled.  In Revelation, John promises the destruction of a nation like Babylon.  Much of the promises of God are still to come.  Have we seen leaders pretending to be Christians while doing evil today?  Are we free to pardon ourselves for our sins?

When Jesus came he found Sadducees and Pharisees.  Did he honor either sect for their purity, or did he find that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God?  Today he will find Democrats and Republicans.  Will he find either sect ready to repent?  Or will they claim the power to forgive themselves in their own version of wisdom?

https://spiritspacecadet.wordpress.com/2018/05/13/america-the-bute-full/

SAFE PASSAGE

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ISRAEL MISSED THE WARNING…WILL WE?

God promised to judge Israel and every nation that gets involved in their punishment.  Are we on a path to join them in this promise?  If we have had a real relationship with God should we seek his wisdom to avoid this?  Has he given us wisdom to discern truth and turn away from liars?  Isaiah reveals the destiny of those who remain deceived, and those who are faithful.

Isaiah 4

1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.  2 In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. 

One man who is known for truth and holy living is considered a way of salvation to these women who are fallen in sin.  They will throw themselves at him without cost to find safety in that day.  At that time the faithful believers will prosper and stand above the despair of the world around them.  Those who remain true to God will have this reward of good life in Jesus.

3 And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:  4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. 

Whoever is true will be holy, written in the book of life for eternity.  Only the Lord can wash the sin from the people of Israel and cleanse the blood by fire.  His judgment will be painful but purifying.

5 And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.  6 And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.

As God was a pillar of Smoke and a flame by night for Moses, he will again provide this protection to his people.  He will provide a tent of shelter from the heat of the day, and from the showers of storms.

There is hope for mercy even in the times of harsh judgment.  Again we are called to stay true to his word so we will be found righteous and live in his shelter.  With so many forms of storm and shaking in the world around us we should be motivated.  The cost of obedience is so much less than the cost of rebellion.  Consider the wealth of God’s salvation.

AT RISK

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RICH4

DO SO AT YOUR OWN PERIL

God offered an end to war to Israel, but he seems to know that they will chose not to obey his commandments.  They had the bad examples of Solomon for too long, and his sons will do no good.  God continues to lay out the end that rebellion will produce.  When the prophets speak, their words are from God who knows the end of the future.  Their predictions are without error, and some have been fulfilled already.  There are more to come that we may yet live to witness.

Isaiah 3

3 For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water.  2 The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, 3 The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.  4 And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.  5 And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.

God promises to empty Jerusalem of food and water, and all the powerful leaders and warriors.  He will take away all the great and wise men who provide wisdom as rulers.  In their place he will leave only immature and foolish leaders.  The people will treat each other with cruelty and children will rebel while evil men insult the honest.

6 When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand:  7 In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people.  8 For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory.  9 The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.  10 Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.

When a man finds a brother who still has decent clothing, he may demand that he be a leader of the people.  But that one will turn him down, saying that he will not heal the land as he too has no bread or clothing.  He will observe that Jerusalem is destroyed by their own sin against God.  He will declare that the evil of the people testifies of their sin and provokes the wrath of God.  They earned the evil that they suffer from, but the righteous will enjoy rewards for their labor.

11 Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.  12 As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.  13 The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.  14 The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.   15 What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts.

This is his warning to evil people, they will see punishment; it will come.  Children and women will rule over them.  The leaders of the people (like Solomon) cause them to go the way of sin by their bad examples.  God rose up to urge the people to turn back to him, and also to judge those who did not.  God will judge the elders and the leaders of his people because they have destroyed the prosperity of the land and the poor people.  He  demands an explanation from the leaders who have beaten the people into poverty and misery.

16 Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:  17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.  18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,  19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,  20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,  21 The rings, and nose jewels,   22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,  23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.

Now God turns his attention to the wanton women of Israel.  They move in seductive ways and are not pleasing to their righteous God.  He promises to send disfiguring disease to them in public and private places.  He will take away all their ornamentation, garments and enticing decorations.  And he has more in store for them.

24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.  25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.  26 And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.

Now the perfumed ladies will have a new smell, the stench of their diseases.  Torn garments, baldness, rough garments, and flaming rashes will replace their former beauty.  Their men will die in a war, even the great warriors.  These women will know only sorrow and mourning as they are left in homeless poverty.

These things did come to Israel as the Babylonians and Persians took them into defeat and captivity.  In the Old Testament God was not a joke.  After the world witnessed the resurrection of Jesus one might expect a more serious reception.  But the world targets Christians both in comedy and in such tragedies as church bombings and shootings.  Why shouldn’t they?  Who knows what a real Christian is today?  Which God should we let back into our schools?  The God of Catholics, Mormons, or Neo Nazis?  Should we listen to politicians who claim Christ while they abuse the poor in every possible way?  What God promised and delivered to Israel should be expected for our world today.  The worldwide revival of Nazi hatred will get his attention.  Is that not one head of the beast that was dead and now lives again?

And just yesterday we witnessed an American preacher reminding us that God is love during a royal wedding in England.  A nation that once participated in slave trading is giving the world a lecture about love.  Now is the time to repent for those who wish to hear that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.

IF PEACE…

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SWORD-PLOW

NO MORE WAR…?

Last week we considered the importance of the smallest word “if”.  The little word keeps getting bigger.  If you trust the word of God, this bible, then his words provide us with both opportunities and threats.  For people of faith you might think that a threat from God would provoke some fear.  Having experienced the voice of God we should prefer to live in the promise of his protection.  God opens by offering his love in this chapter.  This is a good place to start.

Isaiah 2

1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.  2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.  3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.  5 O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Isaiah has a word of hope for the world in the last days.  The mountain of the Lord will be established and exalted above all others.  Many nations and people will want to go to the mountain and learn the ways of the God of Jacob.  People will want to follow his wisdom.  God will judge the nations and rebuke many of them.  After correction from God they will convert their weapons to tools of agriculture and there will be no more wars.  He appeals to Israel to walk in the light of God.

6 Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.  7 Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots:  8 Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made:  9 And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.  10 Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty.

Will they turn to the Lord and learn his ways?  Not the children of Jacob.  Therefore God has forsaken them because they worship the gods of the Philistines and they follow strange pleasures.  They are obsessed with wealth and have endless treasures.  They worship statues of false gods they made themselves.  By these misdeeds the great and small men shame themselves, so they are unforgiven.  They should hide in a cave for the fear of the Lord is on them.

11 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.  12 For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:  13 And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan,  14 And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up,  15 And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall,  16 And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures.

The pride of man will be humbled by the power of God.  The day of the Lord will target every prideful person on earth.  The proud will be shamed before the truth of God.  Great trees, mountains, towers and fortresses will be humbled.  The great ships, great works, and pleasant things that we treasure will be diminished before God.

17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.  18 And the idols he shall utterly abolish.  19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.  20 In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;  21 To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.  22 Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of ?

The self-important and prideful will be humbled as only God will be exalted then.  False gods and idols will be destroyed as men will be forced into hiding in caves.  When God comes he will shake the earth in the show of his power.  Finally men will awaken to  discard the lifeless gods of wood and metal they have made.  They can only hide in the rocks and caves against the power of God’s anger.  He commands us to cease from man who is only mortal and has no real claim to greatness.

We have not seen the day when the mountain of the Lord is established.  We still have wars, so this has not yet come.  God knows that his people live in unbelief with various ways of religious idolatry.  Israel will be found in darkness, behaving as heathens instead of the faith of their God.  Prosperity and pride will take them to the ways of the world, far from their God.  These warnings were true to their punishment in the Babylonian captivity.  Before the return of God will they return to their ways of evil?  Will our own nation and church be found with them?  IF only…

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