SAFE PASSAGE

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BAB1

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.

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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…

IF

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SODOM 1

THE PARTY IS OVER

Solomon lived to write, ignore, and rediscover wisdom.  At the end he pointed to the way, and prophesied of a greater king who will make us righteous.  But his sins were the examples that led his sons astray, and brought Israel to judgment.  In the years that followed both Israel and Judah were punished by military defeats.  As they left the judges their kings grew worse, and prophets came to give them warnings.  Warnings are not bad if we heed them.  The biggest word in the bible is “if“.

In the 21st century we witness thousands of years of disobedience coming to a head.  In spite of the good example of Jesus offering salvation, we have found hundreds of ways to deviate from the truth into demonic denominations.  Governments have divided evil into camps of liberal or conservative sin, with no connection to righteousness surviving in the mixture.  We don’t need prophets today, because those of old have spoken in the authority of God.  His words are timeless and accurate to this day.  We are just as much his stiff-necked people now as Israel was then.  Can we expect a better result than the children of Abraham?  IF we hear his warnings, then yes.  Otherwise we will replace them in judgment while Israel inherits his promises to them.

Isaiah 1

1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.  2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.  3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.  4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.  5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 

The vision of Isaiah was addressed to heaven and earth, by God himself.  Even the domesticated livestock know their owner and his protection, but not Israel.  Evil parents and rebellious children are now a sinful nation who have provoked the anger of God.  God asks these backsliders why they should continue to earn a beating at his hand.  But they will continue in rebellion even as they are weak hearted and mentally ill from the beatings.  Does our modern world continue to sin even as they suffer sexually transmitted disease, unwanted pregnancy and broken homes?

6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.  7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.  8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.  9 Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.  10 Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

The nation and its people suffer open wounds and sickness from their sins without any way to heal or treat them.  The lands are depopulated, damaged by fire and drought, abandoned to strangers and stripped of its crops.  The holy ones of Israel are left like a destroyed dwelling in a city destroyed by war.  Unless God had spared a few souls this would be a city of total destruction like Sodom and Gomorrah.  Listen to God you rulers of these evil places.

After Jeremiah will come Ezekiel, another prophet in this time.  He points out the real reason of this destruction:

Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.  Ezekiel 16:49

Homosexuality was but one of the offenses of those cities.  Their sin  was also indifference to the needs of others.  I suppose we like to see the sins of the left in the former, but are not the sins of the right also seen in the latter?  Democrats and Republicans both have some self-examination to perform today.

11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.  12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?  13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.  14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.  15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

God says to us: “What is the point of your religious words and self-righteous works?  I am full of ritual sacrifices and have no need for the blood of your sacrifices.  Stop all of these vain rituals and assemblies which are evil.  I hate your feasts, and will hide from your prayers and raised hands.  Those hands are covered with blood!”

Baptism, communion, and observations of holy days are offensive to God if we are still promoting the oppression of the poor, honoring wealthy oppressors, and evil self-serving wars.  Our prayers will not be accepted coming from carnal greed, ignorance, or rebellion against  our scriptural instructions.  We have no grace in disgrace.

16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;  17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.  18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.  19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:  20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

“Repent of your sin, make yourselves clean, and turn from sinning before my very eyes.  Learn how to be good people, protect the weak, help the orphans and widows.”  God  says “come to be reasonable and I will change your sins from red to snow white, from crimson to woolly white.”  IF you are willing and obedient you will eat the good harvest of the land.  But IF you refuse and rebel, You will be eaten by warfare.”  Thus says your God.

Are we glad that we are his church, and not the evil people in that other camp?  It seems to me that they have a different God.  This one is our God, and he is speaking to us.  WE need to wash those things that we cherish because those things are offensive to God.  Look again at your own beliefs and compare them to scripture.  We just finished Proverbs, and we should not wait until we have all the regrets of the elder  Solomon before we repent.

21 How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.  22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:  23 Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. 

The faithful city, the church of Jesus Christ has become a whore in the eyes of God.  It was once a place of righteous judgment but now it is a home for assassins.  Oh we can find good people, but we tend to be blind to the faults that we vote to support.  How can we belong fiercely to a political notion that is only partially scriptural?  There is no lesser of two evils when the winner will be fed and grow.  Evil is evil.

24 Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:  25 And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:  26 And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.  27 Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.

Our God says:  “I will dump my opponents and get revenge on them.  I will turn my hand against you and make you clean and free of impurities.  I will restore the judges and your counselors as in the beginning times.  Then you will be called the righteous city, the faithful city.  Zion will be redeemed with wisdom and good judgment.”

We believe that Yeshua forgives our sins when we surrender our will to him.  But have we done so?  We are called to study to show ourselves approved, and yet we often still do actions that oppose his words.  The church is divided by the political views that oppose the Word of God.  And often both sides cling to righteous views that are compromised by alliances with evil ideas and men.  A house divided by alliances with sin will not stand.

28 And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.  29 For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.  30 For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.  31 And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.

Transgressors and sinners will be in unity and those who rebel against God will also be consumed.  They will be ashamed of the trees, groves, and gardens that they have chosen for their places of worship.  You will be like these oaks that are stripped of leaves in the fall, and as dry gardens.  The great shall be as dead wood, and God will spark their fire as they perish in eternal fire.

Few churches have come out from among the temptations of our carnal world.  Nothing shames the church more than affiliation with the failed political systems of this world.  They are polarized between communism and national socialism, with many flavors of failure in between.  The world cannot be saved by a church that repels sinners, and yet without sinners there is no church.  The law is dead, and the law kills.  Consider the ways we witness failure in our feeble self works:

Democrats seem to embrace free love without embracing the consequences of unwanted pregnancies, disease, and broken homes, but that is an easy bible target.  Republicans like to make bible laws even though the perfect law of God was made to kill us.  Liberal or conservative, there are ditches on both sides of the road.  Some can be pretty bad bumps.

In 2016 the Democrats cheated Sanders supporters in rigged primaries.  To this day evidence surfaces that the cheating continues.

https://theintercept.com/2018/04/26/steny-hoyer-audio-levi-tillemann/

https://steemit.com/politics/@caitlinjohnstone/pelosi-i-don-t-see-anything-inappropriate-in-rigging-primaries

Candidates from both parties claim to swear off corporate and foreign influence buying, but do they really?

https://theintercept.com/2018/04/27/pacs-democrats-campaign-finance-reform-pacs-big-money/

If abortion kills, what does chemical poison in our air and water do?  Oh; it kills adults who die in their sins…and workers.

http://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/385222-osha-fails-to-protect-workers-from-chemical-exposure?rnd=1524852668

Then there is slow death as watchdog agencies are populated by former violators.  We love the police and military, but hire crooks to protect our community health?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/05/01/trumps-former-health-secretary-americans-will-pay-more-because-gop-weakened-obamacare/?utm_term=.1ded85aae768

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ben-carsons-hud-proposal-would-raise-rent-for-millions-in-public-housing/

Are we helping the enemies of God?

https://www.thedailybeast.com/top-trump-fundraiser-caught-working-for-assad-ally

http://www.newsweek.com/republican-senate-candidate-free-jews-904652

Do we oppress the godly and the workers of good humane deeds?

https://thinkprogress.org/paul-ryan-asked-chaplain-to-resign-782b47e60750/

https://theintercept.com/2018/04/30/were-gonna-take-everyone-border-patrol-targets-prominent-humanitarian-group-as-criminal-organization/

How many animal rescues are needed only because of our own human cruelty?

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140818-elephants-africa-poaching-cites-census/

https://theintercept.com/2018/05/04/six-animal-rights-activists-charged-with-felonies-for-investigation-and-rescue-that-led-to-punishment-of-a-utah-turkey-farm/

Yes, the church is responsible too:

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/march-web-only/on-world-wildlife-day-reflection-on-thinning-of-life.html

And, can we support and follow a leader who is a habitual liar?

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/nation-politics/president-trump-has-made-3001-false-or-misleading-claims-so-far/

 

But don’t just believe the “fake news”, consider what Fox News had to say:

http://www.foxnews.com/transcript/2018/05/03/cavuto-is-trump-giving-media-very-real-ammunition.html

God still intervenes:

“Trenton said he believes he was in heaven while he was unconscious.  “I was in an open field walking straight,” he told WALA-TV. “There’s no other explanation but God. There’s no other way. Even doctors said it.”

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trenton-mckinley-regains-consciousness-after-parents-sign-papers-to-donate-his-organs-2018-05-06/

America and the world around us needs to change.  How can we return to this God who loves and heals with power?

16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;  17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.  18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.  19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:  20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

OUT OF WILDERNESS

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SONG13

THE MINE FIELD

The Song of Solomon can be a dangerous melody.  As a rose garden, it contains fragrance and beauty in the spiritual realm.  But like a rose garden it may be tempting to wander off the spiritual path.  If our mind attempts to embrace the carnal delights in it we may learn that roses have a very thorny defense.  The carnal mind can miss the entire point of the story.  But this garden is able to bloom for eternity, even after the harshest winters.  The promise of God runs through the darkest parts of the Old Testament, and survives beyond death itself.  We are invited to this garden as he recognizes our understanding of who he is.  He is a shepherd, but also a king, and he sees us as brethren and equals.

Song of Solomon 8

1 O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.  2 I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother’s house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.  3 His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.  4 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.

The bride wishing that her husband were a brother seems a bit unusual.  Does she want to have an incestuous relationship?  Brothers and sisters already have a lifetime of familiarity so their affection is not unusual.  They have a history knowing each other’s strengths and weakness, with love covering all.  Their common mother in this situation would be their teacher, and a sister could share her best wine with her brother.  But this is no fantasy, the bride of Christ is a relationship of brethren.  All of us had our faith born in the same mother, the church.  But here the bride of Christ is the church, also the mother, sister, and lover.  As God is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the bride is also gifted at multi-tasking.  So Jesus is our brother, and he is familiar with our weakness even as his love covers all.

5 Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.  6 Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.  7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned. 

Who is this woman who is coming out of the wild places with the support of her lover?  He claims that he himself raised her in the place where her mother gave her birth.  Jesus does teach us through the Holy Spirit in the sanctuary where our church gave us life.  He asks us to make him a mark on our heart that is visible to the world, more so than a tattoo that is only an outward symbol.  The nature of the un-devoted heart is distracted by destructive emotions and must be tamed.  True love floats us in the floods of life as the Ark that delivered Noah.  It cannot be purchased by worldly goods or wealth.

8 We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?  9 If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.  10 I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.

The church does have little sisters and brothers, indeed the church gives birth to new faith daily.  What will we do for them when they answer the knock of their lord and king?  Their callings differ, so our help will fit their person, we will give what they need to become a work of art.  Some are builders, others musicians, and others are a work of art themselves.  Some may be unnoticed for a season even as they blossom in this garden of life.  But a true palace will be noticed, and this queen has found favor in the eyes of her king.

11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.  12 My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.  13 Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.  14 Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

Solomon had vineyards and many workers to keep them.  This woman worked without complaint, even when doing her sister’s work.  It gave her mental, physical, and spiritual health; beauty that her lord could see.  None of the other workers had achieved his reward.  If her vineyard had value it was given for her lord and his servants.  He dwells in the gardens, not the wilderness, and their companions hear his voice.  She wants to hear his voice as well.  She asks him to come quickly, gracefully, as we witness in the deer and antelope of our world.

20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.  Revelation 22:20

FEARLESS YEARS

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LIFE LONG LOVE

This queen has experienced a trial by fire.  It will not matter if her world is fair and comfortable, or troubled by storms and madness.  She stands on the rock of ages by faith, knowing that her love is there for her.  He is there for her, and now they are prepared for everything that life will bring.  The honeymoon introduced their outward beauty, and now they have a lifetime to discover the beauty of the heart.  The winds of change will not move them.  The king celebrates her beauty here.

Song of Solomon 7

1 How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince’s daughter! the joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman.  2 Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies.  3 Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.

A young man may notice these physical charms, but a husband has time to savor them.  And only a husband should indulge such appreciation, and only of his own wife.  This is holy matrimony, as opposed to the unholy indulgence of our modern world.  We might notice the symbolism of life in sweet wine, grain, and newborn livestock.  The natural man may be inspired by carnal things, but the king sees the hope of life.

4 Thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim: thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus.  5 Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king is held in the galleries.  6 How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!

The king admires her features, and yet I doubt that her hair is actually purple.  But purple was a royal color, perhaps the honor in denoted by this comparison.  I would not tell your queen that her nose is like a tower of Lebanon though.  In their day these all surely compared to things of good stature and honor.  If your queen does have purple hair do make a big deal of it anyway!

7 This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.  8 I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples;  9 And the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.

The queen may be tall like the palm tree, and her breasts sweet and fruitful.  And breasts like clusters are scary because men are already half-mad over just two.  Their enthusiasm would be chilled if women had babies in litters like puppies.  It seems that the groom is vulnerable to wine, which can both make one drowsy, and still inspire courage to utter such prose to women.  If it is the wine that is talking, it is working because she is ready with her answer.

10 I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.  11 Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages.  12 Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves.  13 The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.

The queen knows that she belongs to her king, the Lion of Judah.  She invites him back to the villages where she tended the vineyards.  She knows that her work should yield sweet fruit and she is prepared to give him the fruit of her love.  She has laid up a garden of the fruit of her whole life work, and it is good.  She will inherit the salvation of faith and works.

Can we understand a life of faith and works that makes us the bride of Christ?  Can we understand that this early experience is only the entrance exam to an eternal garden?  The hatred of sisters, the abuse of lost watchmen, are only a brief separation from the Lord of eternal life.  There is a reward for the keeper of the garden.

SHIELD MAIDEN

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HORROR MOON TO HONOR MOON

The bride has been left behind by her bridegroom.  She is in a world that does not know their own king, and these women ask where her lover has gone.  They didn’t seem to know the king of Israel, and the watchmen before had attacked their queen.  Her world had descended into madness.  Can she stand in a world of chaos?

Song of Solomon 6

1 Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.

Have these women been converted to desire this king of kings, or are they only mocking her as if this king is only her fantasy?  She is prepared to answer them boldly.

2 My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.  3 I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.

Somehow she is confident that her lover is in a good place.  She has faith in the face of her loss, the substance of things hoped for, but not yet seen.  She had no idea if her king survived this madness, but she had the words of Job, who was also afflicted:

25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:  26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.  Job 19:25-27

Perhaps she understood as her king would later explain to others:

1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.  John 14:1-4

If he was in his garden, she trusted that he was hers, and she was his.  No conversation or mockery shook her faith.  She was certain of his faithfulness and the place that he was preparing for her.  With this he himself spoke up as he gives testimony of her faith.

4 Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.  5 Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead. 

The bride of Solomon is here presented as the bride of Christ, an army with banners, an irresistible force.  He is overcome by the eyes that are the light of her truthful soul.  He identifies her hair again by these goats, which must be graced with a fine coat that all would know.

6 Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them.  7 As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks.

Well, clean white teeth, perfectly matched and flawless are attractive.  Pomegranate has both white and red parts and offers lots of health benefits.  It is mentioned for a second time in this verse so I guess the bride would understand the value of this comparison.  Perhaps we should understand that he is using the highest praise of his time for his love.

8 There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.  9 My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.

When Solomon mentions all of these queens, is he recounting his own many wives and concubines?  In his youth he collected them, but in his senior years he had too many of them.  Still in this there is only one who stands out.  As God honored the sons of Abraham he made great nations of them, including Ishmael.  All of these are represented in religions today, and yet one is to stand out.  The sisters of this one once hated her, and now they bless her?  One day the sons of Abraham and the world will all bless the bride of Christ.

10 Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?  11 I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished and the pomegranates budded.

Who else?  The Army of the Lord, the bride of Christ.  Can you imagine looking in the mirror and seeing this image?  This is what he sees.  Or is it?  We can probably find a reason to repent on a daily basis.  But this is our motivation to pass the entrance exam that is this life.  Do indeed the fruit of the spirit flourish in this garden?  The bride of Christ was the tender of the vineyards and the flocks herself.  She knows they prosper.

12 Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib. 

Is she discovering that her status is elevated by her good soul here?  She was unaware of being compared to these chariots of Amminidib, who might be the same person as Amminidab, who was an ancestor of Christ.  So many bible “scholars” suggest that these were fast chariots, yet there is no support for that in the scriptures.  Wouldn’t it be fun to be an expert on things that are not in the bible?  Be pleased to see what is in the bible here, because the word is available to simple folk too.

13 Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.

The king, the faithful subjects, and the heavens want her to make an appearance.  And what is that appearance?  Will she be surprised to find that she is indeed, the Army of the Lord, and, in him, even two armies?  Are we surprised to be this bride, this wonder woman?

If this is not the prophetic vision of the church of Jesus, then Solomon married a shield maiden,  the precursor to a UFC fighting woman.  What a farm girl indeed!

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