HOPE IN THE NIGHT

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GRECO

FROM DESPAIR, HOPE REMAINS

While Isaiah knows that Israel will face punishment from God, he also knows that mercy will come.  The pain of God’s wrath will be replaced by a great promise and healing.

Isaiah 11

1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:  2 And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;  3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:  4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.  5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.

Many Christians recognize this as a prophesy of the coming messiah, who we know as Jesus, Yeshua.  Descended from Jesse and David, he will be gifted in godly knowledge and understanding.  He will not jump to conclusions based on limited seeing or partial hearing.  He will have righteous judgment to protect the poor and punish the guilty.  While guided by righteousness, he will slay the evil.

6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.  7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.  9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.  10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

Since the curse of Adam and Eve nature has shared the pain of violence.  Eve today there are glimpses of possibility when humans are humane to even the most dangerous wild animals.  We have witnessed relationships between humans and lions, wolves, crocodiles, sting rays, whales, and even sharks.  Some have made the mistake that some unearned trust may exist, only to suffer death or injury for a “selfie”.   When messiah returns there will be peace in the animal kingdom again.  He will bring this supernatural peace with the knowledge of God.  He will be the symbol of godly hope and the people of the world will honor him and prosper in his reign.

11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.  12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.  13 The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. 

At that time the Lord will re-gather the Jews from all the nations to which they were dispersed.  Messiah will raise a flag to the world as he brings the Jews home.  There will be no division among the Jews, no divisions of the tribes of Israel.  They will become a force to recon with.

14 But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.  15 And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod.  16 And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.

Israel will prevail against their enemies in the strength of the Lord.  While God has promised to punish Israel, they are still his people.  In his season they will learn to regret their rebellion and gain his mercy.  God will drain the ancient waters to allow his people to return as they did in the day of Moses.

In our day the enemies of Israel are still at their door.  Persia may be called Iran, and the Philistines are known as Palestinians.  The name Palestine may have been a Roman joke after they drove the Jews out.  The joke will be on these enemies once God has finished his process of educating Israel.  The work is in progress today.

Israel announces nationwide military drills amid war preparedness on northern and Gaza fronts

Syrian government targets rebels near Golan Heights

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CERTAINTY

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Assyrian 2

HIS WILL BE DONE

God knows when evil is being done.  He will clean his house, then he will cut down the enemies that threaten his people too.  He knew about the sins of Israel, and used Assyria to punish them.  Then he saved the faithful remnant of Israel and Judah from their enemies.  He is still prepared to do this today.

Isaiah 10

1 Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed;  2 To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!  3 And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?  4 Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

This predicts doom for those who pervert justice and oppress the poor, orphans, and widows.  So what will they do when God comes to hold them accountable?  Where will they run for help, who will they turn to?  They will be brought low with the prisoners of war, and be buried under dead bodies.  Even then the anger of God will not end for them.

5 O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.  6 I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.  7 Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.  8 For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings?  9 Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus? 

Assyria is assigned the role of the weapon of God against Syria and Samaria to punish their plans against Judah.  God will send their king against his rebellious nation to trample them down in the streets.  That king is not aware that he will also be led to cut off many more nations by God.  The king of Assyria sees his history of conquest as confidence that will keep him going.

10 As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria;  11 Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?  12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.  13 For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man:  14 And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.

As God has found the idolaters in their kingdoms will he not also find them in Jerusalem as he did in Samaria?  When he is then done punishing Jerusalem, he will also punish the king of Assyria for his pride.  That king thinks that he has conquered his enemies by his own courage and strength.  This king thinks that he has had a free hand to rob the nest of eggs and young birds.  God will disagree with him.

15 Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.  16 Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.  17 And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day;  18 And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth. 

Will a tool brag about his power over the man who uses it?  Can a stick stand up by itself as if it was more than a piece of wood?  For this god will send them starvation, and he will spark a fire that will devour this wooden leader.  God will burn the stick and his forest, leaving the nation fallen like the flag bearer of a defeated army.

19 And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.  20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.  21 The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.  22 For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.  23 For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.  24 Therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt.  25 For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.

God will level the forest of trees to so few that children’s math will know their count.  At that time God’s people will not fear the king that defeated them, but rather they will fear the Lord.  The people of Israel will return to Jerusalem even if they were only a small remnant of the once great nation.  While God will consume many, it will be for righteousness that they will survive.  God tells his people not to fear the Assyrian anymore because he will destroy the destroyers.

26 And the Lord of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and as his rod was upon the sea, so shall he lift it up after the manner of Egypt.  27 And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.  28 He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages:  29 They are gone over the passage: they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled.  30 Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim: cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth.

God will strike the Assyrians as he struck the Midianites and the Egyptians in the past.  God will remove the oppression of the Assyrian king from Israel by his anointing.  He describes the approach of the Assyrian army through the cities of Israel.  As God sees their arrival at Jerusalem, he is ready for them.

31 Madmenah is removed; the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee.  32 As yet shall he remain at Nob that day: he shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.  33 Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled.  34 And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.

The people of Israel abandon their cities before the invading army of Assyria.  As the Assyrian king threatens Jerusalem God will cut off the branch of terrorism.  The great warriors who threaten Judah will be stricken down by God himself.  God will cut the mighty forest of opponents and those who came out of Lebanon against his people.

These events all came to pass, and are described in other places in scripture in detail.  These prophesies may be completed, but many others are yet to come to pass.  Archeology has been uncovering the evidence of ancient history, confirming the truth of God’s word.  By sight we may witness the increase of evil in our modern world.  By faith we can know that God witnesses the advance of darkness against our sanctuaries.  God has left a legacy of protecting his people through the ages.  With that our faith offers us substance for all we hope for, even when we do not yet see it.  Faith will encourage us to stand and to wait for God to cut down the works of terror in our world.  Faith in God will overcome the fears that tempt us to lose hope.  He is still faithful to deliver us in our day as he was in theirs.

UNCHANGING

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HUMANITY

THEY DO NOT CHANGE; HE DOES NOT CHANGE.

Isaiah previously named a coming sign, a child born to a virgin.  But that hope was not to come until Israel and Judah were to experience some very hard times.  There is the opportunity to repent, to cease from rebellion, and to receive forgiveness.  But the habits of the flesh are predictable, so this hard road is becoming a way of life for the people and their kings.

Isaiah 9

1 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.  2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.  3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.  4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.  5 For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.

Isaiah has warned Israel and Judah to resist the false prophets and yet they chose evil against all of his warnings of destruction.  Still that destruction will not be as painful in the end.  They would not yet know about the armies of destruction that would come even from Rome later.  But though they were in darkness, a great light was coming.  While Israel had grown in number, they suffered in those years of conflict.  When Messiah comes they will have access to great joy like no other.  Comparison to the defeat of Midian by Gideon illustrates a victory of the weak that could only come from God.  This victory should be from some kind of (spiritual?) fire.

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.  8 The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel.  9 And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart,  10 The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.

Isaiah heralds the gift of messiah, the Prince of Peace, the everlasting Father.  This savior will be the government of peace that continually grows on the throne of David forever.  Only the power of God can do this.  This will be a clear message even to the stubborn people who think they can repair their fortifications with the work of their own hands.  Ephraim and Samaria may be deceived, but only God can deliver them from their enemies.

11 Therefore the Lord shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him, and join his enemies together;  12 The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.  13 For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts.  14 Therefore the Lord will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.  15 The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.

While Rezin the king of Syria plotted against Judah, God has turned his enemies against him.  His alliance with Israel against Judah will be devoured.  Even during this the anger of God is not done because they will not return to him.  God will finish Israel because he alone is the head, while all false prophets are the tail.

16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.  17 Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.  18 For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke.  19 Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother.  20 And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm:  21 Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

The warning here is that the leaders of nations are guilty of leading their nations to destruction.  For this God will have no love of their men, orphans or widows.  This because all sin and speak foolishness.  For all the anger of God through the ages, his anger still burns hot against them.  His anger will darken the sky with the smoke of their burning, even as the dry brush in a western wildfire.  They will cut themselves and devour each other’s flesh and remain unsatisfied with hunger.  Even so they will continue to fight against Judah and provoke the wrath of God.

Even when some men may receive God’s mercy, their nature will still continue to walk in cruelty.  Their lust for flesh will have them cutting each other with knives.  Messiah has come and yet the human race is still causing unlimited suffering.  Nations are divided between many religions that kill each other in God’s name as guided by false prophets.  The opportunity for the greatest joy is ignored for the opportunity to cause suffering.  Even  the faithful have no discernment of right or wrong.  Can we not still see this in our daily news headlines?  There will be more judgment from God against this rebellion.

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.

STORM WINDS

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IMG_3565

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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FIRE1

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/

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