Friday, February 27, 2015

Israel Reunited

Isaiah 11:11-12:6

“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.  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.” (Isaiah 11:11-12)

Since the reestablishment of Israel in 1948, there has been a massive return of Jews to Israel.  Because of the terrorist threats, and freedom in other countries many still do not return.   The tribulation period is to be a time of special judgment on Israel much like what was going on with the Assyrians in Isaiah’s day.   When it ends and the Lord sets up his Millennial kingdom, even survivors from the most welcoming countries around the world will choose to return to Israel.

“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.  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.” (Isaiah 11:13-14)

After Solomon’s death, Israel split into two countries, Israel and Judah.  Israel’s capitol was in the area originally given to the tribe of Ephraim.  The two countries regularly fought for control and there was a great deal of jealousy between them that continues even to this day.   When the Lord builds his millennial kingdom, they will be united and the old jealousies forgotten.  They will control the land of the Philistines or as we know them the Palestinians on the west and the land of the Moabites and Edomites on the eastern side in present day Jordan and Saudi Arabia, with the Jordanian people (Ammonites) as tributaries, fulfilling the promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:18.  “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”  Israel has never yet had all that land, and understanding the prophecy explains much of the political tension in the Middle East today. 

“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.  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.” (Isaiah 11:15-16)

Revelation 16:18-20 tells us there will be a huge earthquake just before the lord sets up his kingdom that will shake down the mountains.  “And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.  And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.  And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”

When that happens the tongue of Red sea known as the Gulf of Suez will cease to exist, apparently rising.  The Nile River, which presently splits into two main branches, will spread oud dividing into seven streams across the delta that can easily be crossed.  Apparently at the same time the Gulf of Aqaba will deepen,  connecting with the Dead Sea, and the Mount of Olives will split, allowing ships access from the Red Sea all the way to Jerusalem, according to Zechariah 14:4-5.  “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.   And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” 

At about the same time the course of the Euphrates River will change leaving the road open for the eastern nations to attack Jerusalem according to Revelation 16:12.  “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.”  Once the Antichrist’s army has been defeated and the Millennial kingdom set up the way will be open for the Jews to come to Jerusalem. 

“And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.  Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:1-2)

When that day comes. Israel will praise the Lord for saving them, recognizing that he has kept his promise to them despite their constant rebellion throughout the centuries.  They will finally learn to trust him fully, realizing he will keep his promises to them.

“Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.  And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.  Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.  Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.” (Isaiah 12:3-6)

Throughout her history, the Jews have thought their salvation was through ritually keeping God’s law.  Finally they will understand that as Ephesians 2:8-9 says, salvation is by trusting God, not through their efforts.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  The works are the result of their faith, not the means of obtaining salvation.   There is nothing they can do to save themselves.  As they understand that, they will no longer complain that what they are doing doesn’t work and will recognize that it is God who has cared for them all along. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Millennial Kingdom

Isaiah 10:24-11:10

“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.  For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.” (Isaiah 10:24-25)

God has clearly stated that he is going to use the Assyrians to chasten Israel, but once their job is finished they will be destroyed for their refusal to acknowledge Him.  The people of Judah and Jerusalem have no need to be afraid of the Assyrians.  While they will make a brief attack, it will be like Pharaoh threatening the children of Israel when they fled to the Red sea.  After just a little while they will forget their anger against Judah, and God’s anger will be assuaged by their destruction.
“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.  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.” (Isaiah 10:26-27)

Assyria will be judged and destroyed like the Midianites were in Gideon’s day as described in Judges 6.  Just as Moses held the rod over the Red Sea and caused the Egyptian army to be destroyed.  When it happens they will no longer be under the power of the Assyrians, nor will they ever have to fear them again.    

“He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages: They are gone over the passage: they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled.   Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim: cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth.  Madmenah is removed; the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee.  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.” (Isaiah 10:28-32)

At the time of the prophecy, the Assyrians had invaded Israel and were in control of Syria.  Having established a base camp in Israel they had invaded the land of Benjamin and spread across the northern border of Judah threatening a full scale invasion.   It looked like defeat was certain. 

“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.  And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.” (Isaiah 10:33-34)

God will deal with Assyria like a farmer clearing out brush to prepare a new field.  He will chop off the branches and cut down the big trees, and pull out the small ones by the roots.  The old kingdom of Tyre, in present day Lebanon will be taken over by the Phoenicians and later the Greeks.

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 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; 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: 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.  And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” (Isaiah 11:1-5)

Though he doesn’t talk about it here, David’s family will be deposed when the Babylonians conquer Jerusalem, but his family would continue until Messiah came, about 10 BC.  Later he will return and set up his earthly kingdom for a thousand years, as described in Revelation 20.  Isaiah describes the Lord’s government during the millennial reign.   He will not judge just on what he sees or hears, but on the whole truth, guaranteeing totally fair treatment for the poor and the common people.  He will be strict and consistent killing those who do wickedly.  He will surround himself with what is right, and a reputation for consistency. 

“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.  And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.  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.” (Isaiah 11:6-9)

During Christ’s millennial reign, there will be no animals preying on others, which leads me to believe it will be like the earth was created, before Adam’s sin.  Lions, leopards, baby calves and baby lambs will all play together without fear, following little child like a puppy.  Bears and lions will eat grass and hay just like the cows, and snakes, scorpions and spiders will no longer pose a threat to children.  There will be no vandalism or assaults in the entire land, because God’s standards are as thoroughly familiar as sea water is to the fish of the sea.

“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.” (Isaiah 11:10)

During the millennium, Christ will be king and will represent the people of Israel.  All the peoples of the earth will come to Jerusalem to worship him.  Having completed his work of redemption and established his kingdom, his reign will be magnificent.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Assyria To Be Judged

Isaiah 10:1-23

“Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; 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!  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?   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.” (Isaiah 10:1-4)

God will judge those who pass laws or rules that are not fair or right and cause others to suffer because of their power.  He will punish those who take advantage of the poor and favor the rich and powerful in court.  He will judge those who rip off and take advantage of those who are not able to defend themselves.  What will they be able to do when that judgment comes and the land is destroyed?  God will not listen and there is no one able to stop him.  What will their pride and power amount to in that day?  Without God’s help they cannot escape being taken as prisoners or being killed.  His anger has been stirred up and nothing has been done to appease him.

“O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.  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.

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.  For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings?  Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus?  As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria: Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols? ” (Isaiah 10:5-11)

God will use the Assyrian nation to punish the Jews for their rejection of him and his law.  He will direct the Assyrians to destroy them and take what they have, destroying whatever they don’t want.  The Assyrians will not even realize they are doing what God has said.  Their concern will be building an empire that rules over other groups.  They will think it is because they are smarter and better than others, and that there is really no difference between the Jews and the Assyrians or other groups.   They will believe that they can wipe out Judah and Israel just as they have the other nations they conquered.  After all, some of those other countries had more idols and fancier temples and statues than what they found in Jerusalem.  

“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.  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: 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.” (Isaiah 10:12-14)

Though they are accomplishing his purpose, when they finish, God will punish the Assyrians and take away their pride because they take all the credit for their accomplishments rather than giving God the credit.  They brag about what they have done, never realizing it was God who made it happen.

“Shall the ax 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.” (Isaiah 10:15)

Assyria is the tool God is using to punish Judah and Israel.  Their bragging about their power and accomplishments is like an axe deciding  the guy who used it had nothing to do with cutting the wood or a saw deciding it did all the work without considering what he carpenter did.  It’s like a club or walking stick trying to scare away its owner by shaking itself at him. 

“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.   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; And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standardbearer fainteth.  And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.” (Isaiah 10:16-19)

Because they have ignored and rejected God, he will turn on the Assyrians when he is finished with them.  Where they were fat and powerful they will be starving.  He will become like a fire among them, destroying the things they counted on for protection proceeding to the very core of the nation.  When he gets done it will be like a huge forest fire, with so few trees left standing that a little child will know how to write the number down. 

“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.  The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.  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.  For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.” (Isaiah 10:20-23)

When God overthrows Assyria, he will also save a small remnant of Israel.  They will never again turn to someone who hates them for protection but will stay focused on God himself.  Though Israel was a great nation, those who turn to god will only be a small group.  God will cause those who do not believe to be consumed right in the land where they are. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Isaiah’s Family a Warning to Israel

Isaiah 8:18-9:21

“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 8:18)

Isaiah and his two sons were all given to do miracles and give signs to Israel and Judah.  Shearjashub’s name means a remnant shall return, referring to Judah’s return to the Lord in the last days.  Mahershalalahashbaz’s name referred to Pekah, king of Israel and Rezin, king of Syruia rushing to destruction at the hands of  the Assyrians.   Isaiah would many miracles as a sign to both Israel and Judah. 

 “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?  To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:19-20)

Israel had completely rejected God, worshipping various other gods and following Shamans or other religions instead.  Judah’s rebellion was less complete but they were encouraging others to do the same thing, although they professed to be serving God.   This would become steadily worse with only a few brief respites until the return of Christ.  Isaiah thought if they worshipped God, they should seek his help instead of that of the spirits of dead people or some carved idol.  They should study his law and the agreement he had made instead of settling for what some magician or medium told them.  If they didn’t, it was because they had no understanding of who God was. 

“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.  And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.  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.” (Isaiah 8:21-9:1)

Because they know nothing of the Lord and will not listen to him, they will go through the trials to come starving and having no security.  When they get hungry, they will get upset and curse both God and their government, seeing nothing but despair to come and going even farther from God, hiding from him.  This time it will not be like it was before when God just sent a few trials to get their attention in Zebulon and Naphtali, only increasing it when they wouldn’t listen.

“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.  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.   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.  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 9:2-5)

In the last days, those who have been through great suffering and trials will see the glory of God at a time when it seems death is imminent.  This time God will intervene on their behalf and they will rejoice like a farmer harvesting his crops or an army gathering the fruits of victory because God has destroyed their enemies like he destroyed the Middianites in Gideon’s day.   Other battles are won in the middle of confusion and struggle, but God will win that battle with fire from heaven as described in Revelation 20:9.

“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.  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.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Jesus Christ would come, almost seven hundred years in the future, and one day would establish his eternal government.  He would be the omnipotent God and the everlasting father, but he would come as a descendant of David born in Bethlehem.    God himself would make this happen.

“The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel.  And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart, The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.” (Isaiah 9:8-10)

God has sent the message of Christ’s coming and eternal kingdom Jacobs’s descendants, the nation of Israel, and it would come on every Jew, even those who would be carried away and dispersed among the other nations before it happened, although in Isaiah’s day the northern kingdom, known of Israel, and centered in the land of Ephraim and led by Samaria under Pekah thought they were immune to God’s power.  In their pride they proclaimed that they would rebuild no matter what God did. 
“Therefore the LORD shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him, and join his enemies together; 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.  For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts.  Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.  The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.  For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.” (Isaiah 9:11-16)

Because they have rejected God, choosing to go with the Syrians under Rezin instead, God will cause Rezin’s coalition of Syrian kings to collapse and they will turn on him.  With the other Syrian kings attacking from the north and east and the Philistines attacking from the south and west,  Israel will easily be defeated.  Despite their rebellion, God was still reaching out to them in love.  Because they would not listen he would destroy them all, from the most respected leaders to the prophets who told them everything would be okay, because the leaders were encouraging them to sin and disobey God. 

“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.  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.” (Isaiah 9:17-18)

Though their leaders were encouraging them all the people were at fault, hypocritically claiming to love God while disobeying his commands, and focusing on foolish things.   His anger is great against them and he will not stop until they listen to him.  Their wickedness is spreading like a fire in a patch of dry weeds that will spread to even the strong trees if not stopped. 

“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.  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:  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.” (Isaiah 9:19-21)

Because of God’s anger, the land was no longer a pleasant place to live.  They are taking advantage of each other, even of their own families with no concern that others may be starving.  They will become so greedy they even flaunt what they have in the faces of those they took it from.  Nobody will be satisfied and ultimately they will destroy themselves as if they were eating their own arm, not realizing they are destroying their ability to produce more.  Instead of taking responsibility, they will blame each other, uniting only to attack Judah.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Committed To Serving God

Isaiah 8:1-17

“Moreover the LORD said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz.  And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.
And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.  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.” (Isaiah 8:1-4)

God commanded Isaiah to name his son Mahershalahshbaz, which means an enemy rushing to get the spoil, referring to Israel and Syria’s attempt to overthrow Judah.   He was to write a prophecy about the results, declaring that before the baby was old enough to say Mama and Daddy, they would be spending all they had trying to defend themselves against Assyria.  Isaiah’s prophecy will be a warning to Israel of the consequences of their attempts to overthrow Judah.

“The LORD spake also unto me again, saying, Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son; 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: 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.” (Isaiah 8:5-8)

Because the people of Israel have chosen to follow the leadership of Rezin, king of syriah and Pekah, king of Israel instead of the quiet commands that God had given them in the Law that were engraved on the monument at Shiloh, God was going to bring the Assyrian army against them like a flood overflowing the river banks.  They would invade and sweep through Judah, not stopping until they got got control of Israel and most of Syria and occupying the entire region. 

“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.  Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.” (Isaiah 8:9-10)

Any country or group who allied themselves with Israel and Syria in their attack on Judah would be conquered along with Israel and Syria.  No amount of planning or increase in military power would succeed.  God would protect Judah.

“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, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.” (Isaiah 8:11-12)

God specifically warned Isaiah that he was not to do like the people around him.  He was not to worry about the conspiracy between Syrian and Israel.  He was not to worry about defeat or economic collapse or anything else. 

“Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.  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.  And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.” (Isaiah 8:13-15)

Instead, Isaiah was to put God ahead of everything else, worrying only about pleasing Him.   God would be their source of protection, but for both Judah and Israel his commands would be a source of conflict, forcing them to choose whether to trust God or human logic and leadership.  Many would choose human logic and leadership, resulting in their being taken captive or killed. 

“Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.  And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.” (Isaiah 8:16-17)

A copy of this warning was to be kept by Isaiah and his followers and they were to seal up and keep God’s commands.  Isaiah was committed to just wait and trust the Lord, seeking him even though he was no longer dealing with the Jews as a whole. 

It is the same attitude Christians should have as we watch oru world getting farther into trouble.  We need to commit to serving God as he commanded regardless what happens around us.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ahaz Warned to Trust God

Isaiah 7:1-25

“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.  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.” (Isaiah 7:1-2)

Ahaz, the third king Isaiah prophesied under was Uzziah’s grandson.  He did not serve the Lord, and this prophecy is a warning to him about things to come.  Syria and Israel had both been attacking Judah but neither had been able to defeat it.  When Ahaz received word that they had formed and alliance to work together, he and the people were upset and emotionally tossed around like the branches of a tree in the wind. 

“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; 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.
Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, 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: Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.  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.  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.” (Isaiah 7:3-9)

God sent Isaiah and his son Shearjashub to meet Ahaz near the end of the tunnel which carried water to the upper reservoir.  They were to tell Ahaz not to be worried about the actions of the two trouble makers, Rezin of Syria or Pekah of Israel.  Though they had agreed to unite and defeat Judah and install their own government, God said it would never happen.  Syria was depending on the power of Damascus and her king Rezin to get the victory, and Israel was depending on their government in Samaria and king Pekah to win the victory.  Even united they were no match for God’s power.   In fact he told them that Israel would go completely out of existence within sixty five years.    He went on to warn that if Ahaz could not trust God’s promise, his kingdom would not last. 

“Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.

But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.

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?” (Isaiah 7:10-13)

God offered to show Ahaz whatever sign he might choose to prove that the promise that Syria and Israel would not succeed.   In a burst of fake spirituality, Ahaz rejected the Lord’s offer saying it would be wrong to ask, even though God had offered.  God said it was bad enough when they tried to fool people with their fake spirituality, but it was foolish to think they could fool God as well.  Because they were not interested in a sign about what would happen in the near future God would give them a sign for the more distant future. 

 “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” (Isaiah 7:14-15)

About seven hundred years in the future, Christ would be born of the Virgin Mary.  He would be called Immanuel, or God with us.  He would experience some of the blessings of god and learn to make proper choices between good and evil.

“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.  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.” (Isaiah 7:16-17)

Long before the Messiah came, both Israel and Judah would lose their kings because they didn’t consider the land worth enough to follow God.  Judah itself would go through worse things than they had experienced since Israel separated into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah just after Solomon’s death, some two hundred fifty years before.  The immediate threat would be the King of Assyria. 
“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.  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.   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.” (Isaiah 7:18-20)

Both Egypt and Assyria would buzz around Israel and Judah looking for opportunities to gain control, seizing any open areas for their own.  The Assyrians would be hired to protect Judah, but would turn on her instead taking away everything.  II Kings 16 and II Chronicles 28 describe the events.  II Chronicles 28:20-21 describes what the Assyrians did.  “And Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not.  For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the LORD, and out of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria: but he helped him not.”  It was exactly what God had warned would happen. 

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep; 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.  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.

With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.  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.” (Isaiah 7:21-25)

When both Israel and Judah were destroyed, ther e would be a period when the cultivated fields would revert back to a natural state.  Lands that had once supported a thousand huge old grape vines, worth  a thousand silver dollars apiece would produce nothing but wild briars and weeds.  The cultivated fields would be completely overgrown with grass so that even the weeds didn’t grow, and th eland would be used solely for grazing.  The herdsmen would live well because there was no place their livestock could not graze.

This last part of the prophecy would not be fulfilled until after Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, and the Jews he left to care for the fields fled to Egypt, over a hundred fifty years later. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Isaiah’s Commission

Isaiah 6:1-13

“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.   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.  And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.  And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.” (Isaiah 6:1-4)

Uzziah was one of Judah’s good kings, and he was the one in power when Isaiah started his ministry.  Near the end of his reign, his pride led him into sin and punishment by God, and the people followed his example.  His son, Jotham followed the Lord, but he was never able to get the people to turn completely to the Lord.  Isaiah spent most of his ministry warning the people to turn back and serve the Lord.  This vision seems to have been to focus Isaiah’s attention on his job so he didn’t get discouraged. 

In the vision, Isaiah saw the Lord on a very high and exalted throne.  His retinue filled the entire temple or throne room.  Hovering over the crowd were the Seraphim, a six winged type of angelic being.  They each use two wings to cover their faces, apparently to keep from drawing attention to themselves and with two they cover their feet, while using the last pair to fly. 

The Seraphim praised God in voices that shook the walls, declaring his holiness and glory.  The entire building was filled with glory just as the tabernacle and the Temple had been when they were first dedicated, as described in Exodus 40:34-35 and in I Kings 8:10-11.

“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.” (Isaiah 6:5)

Like others who saw a vision of God and his glory, Isaiah immediately recognized his own sinful and undeserving state.  He was not even fitted to speak the Lord’s name in praise nor were the people of Judah, despite their great religious affectations.   The vision of God made him aware of his own unrighteousness.  It was a humiliating experience, but it is vital for those who are going to serve God. 

“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: 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.” (Isaiah 6:6-7)

When he recognized and confessed his sinful state, one of Seraphim used a coal from the altar to disinfect his mouth, taking away the sin, just as we are promised in I John 1:8-9.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Until we accept responsibility for both our mistakes and our deliberate sins, they cannot be corrected.   If we accept the responsibility, God is willing to forgive us for them.

“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.” (Isaiah 6:8)

Having seen the glory of the Lord, and been forgiven of his sin, Isaiah wanted to serve the Lord.  I believe that attitude will appear in everyone who truly receives God’s forgiveness.

“And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.  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.” (Isaiah 6:9-10)

God told Isaiah he was to go and tell the people, knowing full well that they would hear what he said and yet would only have a superficial understanding of what he was saying.  They would only see the surface results of his actions without understanding it was the power of God that made it happen.  They would be satisfied with their superficial understanding and not delve any farther, so that the message never got into their heart or resulted in their being converted and having their lives straightened out.

“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, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.” (Isaiah 6:11-12)

Learning that his preaching was going to produce little fruit, Isaiah asked how long he should continue to preach.   God said he was to keep on until the land was desolate and the people had all left leaving the land uninhabited.  His job was not finished as long as there was anyone left to tell, even though they would not listen. 
“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 6:13)

While it might seem a total waste of time, there would be a small part, a tenth, which would eventually return to the land and to God.  It would be like deciduous trees such as oaks, which shed their leaves in the fall and are bare all winter, but in the spring send out new leaves.  Though they seem dead there is still life in the tree, and though Judah might seem to have completely forgotten God, there would still be a few who had not.   Isaiah’s preaching would not be wasted even though he saw no results.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

God’s Forbearance

Isaiah 5:18-30

“Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope: That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!” (Isaiah 5:18-19)

There are people who deliberately try to provoke others to do something wrong just so they can see them get into trouble.  They are like the little girl or boy who keeps picking on their brother until he gets angry and hits them, then run to their parents accusing him of being mean to them just to get him into trouble.  God will not ignore what they are doing, but will punish them as well. 

“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!” (Isaiah 5:20)

God’s curse is on those who deliberately twist things to make what is wrong seem right and what is right appear wrong.  There are several common examples in our day, with the most obvious being the promotion of homosexual behavior and accusing those who oppose it of hate crimes.  Others include the death penalty for murder, the abortion debate, and many others.

“Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:21)

God’s curse is on those who think they know everything and do not need god’s or anybody else’s advice or instruction. 

“Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!  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. ” (Isaiah 5:22-24)

God’s judgment is upon those who devote their time to drinking wine or alcoholic beverages.  Bathsheba told Solomon, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.” In Proverbs 31:4-5Their perceptions are distorted as a result of the alcohol they chose to drink and they end up rewarding those who did the wrong and punishing those who were in the right, accusing the good of being evil and taking bribes.  As a result of their distortion and rejection of God’s commandments, their entire system is rotten and will fail.

“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.” (Isaiah 5:25a)

Because they had chosen to do so many things that angered God, he had sent judgment on them, in the form of the Assyrian army attacking them like they had attacked Israel.  Israel had been destroyed. And Judah was terrified they would be as well. 

“For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.  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: 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: Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind.
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.  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.” (Isaiah 5:25b-30)

Despite all their sin, God still loved Judah, and would not let them be destroyed by the Assyrians like Israel had been.   When Hezekiah led the people to turn to God, he would send other forces that would attack and destroy the Assyrian army.  Though the prophecy was made during Ahaz’ reign, it would be fulfilled in Hezekiah’s day.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

God’s Vineyard

Isaiah 5:1-17

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: 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.

And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.  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?

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: 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.  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.” (Isaiah 5:1-7)

Isaiah compares Judah and Jerusalem to a carefully developed vineyard, been planted on a fertile hillside to be sure the soil will drain well and prevent the roots from rotting.  The rocks have been removed to allow free growth and the vineyard has been fenced to keep animals from damaging the vines.  The owner has selected the very best and most productive grape vines he could obtain and set up a place for a caretaker where he can readily spot any vandals or animals that get past the fence.  He built a winepress on site so that there would be no losses in transporting the fruit.  After doing everything he could to ensure maximum production he got very little return.  Instead of the large crop of large sweet grapes he expected. The vines had reverted back to the wild state producing only a few small, unpleasant tasting grapes.  He has invested a lot of money and several years of work for almost no return. 

Frustrated by the lack of return, he will not invest any more labor.   Instead of pruning and cultivating the around the plants, he will tear down the fences and let the weeds and grass grow so his livestock can eat the leaves and weeds that grow and give at least a little return for his effort.  He won’t bother to irrigate it anymore.   It will not be what he wanted but he can salvage a little of his investment. 

God had placed Judah in the Promised Land to represent him to the world around them and to do the things he had commanded.  Instead of making sure everyone was treated fairly, they had deliberately taken advantage of the weaker people.  Instead of doing what was right they were hurting and killing each other, trying to gain the advantage.

“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!  In mine ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.  Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.” (Isaiah 5:8-10)

God is going to bring sorrow, suffering, and judgment on those who have become greedy, trying to get control of all the homes and farmland so that people are forced to come to them and do what they want.    They will be unable to find renters and lose their investment as the houses deteriorate.  The crops will not produce enough to even pay for harvesting them.  Instead of a couple of thousand gallons of grape juice, ten acres will only produce about six gallons.  Six bushels of seed will only yield about a half bushel of grain.    

“Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!  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.  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.” (Isaiah 5:11-13)

God would also judge those who were spending their lives enjoying themselves, partying and drinking throughout the day.  Though they incorporated a lot of music in their worship they weren’t concerned with what God had commanded or how he was working to get their attention.  Because they don’t know or understand God’s plan their leaders are poor and their common people are starving. 

 “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.  And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled: But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.  Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.” (Isaiah 5:14-17)

Because God’s people have ignored his commands and working, the forces of evil have expanded and their pride and ceremony will fall into sin along with multitude of their people and the ones who are celebrating what they are doing.    Everybody from the least important beggar to the most powerful rulers will be shamed by what happens.  Only god will get any glory out of what happens, making it clear he will not put up with the evil.  The defenseless, like little lambs, will be free to enjoy whatever they want, and what had been reserved for the rich and powerful will be available to people they never heard of.   

Friday, February 13, 2015

Changes To Come In the Last Days

Isaiah 3:16-4:6

“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:  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.
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, The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, The rings, and nose jewels, The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils.  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.” (Isaiah 3:13-24)

The young women of Judah and Jerusalem took great pride in how they appeared.  They cultivated a sexy walk and seductive poses, with lots of sparkling or tinkling jewelry to draw attention.   They had to have the newest and most fashionable clothing.   They were not concerned with their relationship with the Lord, but only in getting people’s attention. 

To destroy their pride God would send rashes on their head to detract from their beauty and reveal problems they tried to hide.   In addition he would cause them to lose the fancy jewelry and force them to wear unfashionable clothing.  They wouldn’t even be able to obtain the perfumes and deodorants they were accustomed to, and the clothing they got would be of the cheapest materials and fit badly, with torn places.   Instead of being finely made up, their faces would be sunburned and dried out, and they wouldn’t be able to get their hair done.  It might even fall out do to scalp infections. 

“Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.  And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.  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.” (Isaiah 3:25-4:1)

So many of the men will be killed as a result of crime and wars that the entire nation will be in sorrow.  Instead of picking which guys they want the young women will be competing for the few that survive.  The moral climate will change completely and to dispel any suspicion of lesbian practices or other sexual sin, as many as seven women will try to get one man to claim them as his wife, offering to support themselves if he will. 

“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.  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: 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.” (Isaiah 4:2-4)

Christ will set up his millennial kingdom and rule here on earth for a thousand years as we saw in Revelation 20:4.  During that time the crops and fruit will bear bountifully for those who have survived the attacks on the Jews.  Those Jews who survive will be holy to God after he has punished and destroyed those who have refused to obey God and killed his people. 

“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.   And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.” (Isaiah 4:5-6)

Like he did when he led Israel out of Egypt, God will display his leadership by putting a pillar of cloud and smoke over Jerusalem during the day and a pillar of fire by night to show where he wants them and to provide protection.   There will be protection even from the sun so they can focus on the Lord rather than being distracted by the heat.   

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Listen to God Rather Than The Leaders

Isaiah 2:22-3:15

“Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?  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.  The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.” (Isaiah 2:22-3:2)

Like many today, Judah had placed their focus on their leadership and human government rather than on God.  Isaiah is warning them to get their focus off of man because he is going to take away the things they have taken for granted.  There will be a drought and famine and government collapse.  The legal system, the military forces, the religious establishment, the educational system, and the economic system will all collapse, destroying the society they have known.   

“And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.  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.  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: 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.” (Isaiah 3:4-7)

Their leaders will be like capricious little children with no concern or awareness for the consequences of their decisions, but only for what they want at the moment.  Social restraints and moral standards will collapse, with people taking advantage of others, and a loss of respect for other people.  they will look for someone to take the responsibility and blame for the state they are in.  Those who are mature will refuse to take the responsibility, realizing that if they can’t even take care of their own business, it is certain they don’t know how to fix things for the whole nation. 

“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.  The show 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.” (Isaiah 3:8-9)

The collapse is to be the result of turning away from God.  They openly speak out against God’s standards and refuse to obey his commands.  They adopt the symbols of their sin and flaunt it in public, like the Gay Pride marches in the United States today.  By their actions they have condemned themselves to God’s judgment. 

“Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.  Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.” (Isaiah 3:10-11)

God has promised to take care of those who do right, because they will receive the reward for what they have done.  The wicked will also be rewarded for what they done, but the rewards will ultimately be destruction, rather than blessing.

“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.” (Isaiah 3:12)

God’s people had reached a point where their lives were controlled by the demands of their children or dictated by their wives rather than being directed by God.  By encouraging them to let these control their lives, the preachers and political leaders were teaching them to do wrong and follow other paths than God had intended. 
“The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.  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.  What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” (Isaiah 3:13-15)

God will plead with the people to turn to him and judge them accordingly.  He will pronounce judgment on the older people and leaders who have used their positions to take advantage of the poor and weak to rip them off and enslave them, holding their nose to the grindstone. 

While people will be held accountable for their own actions, their leaders will be accountable for how they have led the people.  James 3:1 warns, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.”  Leaders will be held to a higher standard of behavior because they have been given a higher level of responsibility.   Punishment for wrong doing will be more severe.  One should consider the level of responsibility before undertaking a position of leadership.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Last Days

Isaiah 2:1-21

“The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

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.  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.  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.  O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.” (Isaiah 2:1-5)

The prophecy in Isaiah 1 was about Judah and Jerusalem during king Ahaz’s reign, about 700 BC.  The prophecy in chapter 2 is about Judah and Jerusalem in the last days, specifically during the thousand year period known as the Millennium, mentioned in Revelation 20:4-7.  During that period, the Lord will reign in Jerusalem and all the nations of the earth will come there to worship.  We are told he will rule with a rod f iron and wrongdoing will not be tolerated.  For a thousand years there will be no wars, and the stockpiles of weapons will be reclaimed and put to domestic use.  Knowing what will come in the future, Isaiah calls on Judah and Jerusalem to turn to the Lord in his day.
“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.  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: Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.” (Isaiah 2:6-9)

Judah had turned to the Assyrians and Chaldeans for support and had adopted their astrology and magic so that they were little different than the Philistines, trusting their wizards and witches and educated men instead of God.  Judah was a very wealthy country with huge military buildup so that they were confident they could not be defeated.  Convinced they no longer need God’s blessings. They have turned to many other gods, building idols everywhere.  Almost everyone, from the poorest and least respected to the most powerful leader is involved in worshipping the idols.    It is an unforgiveable affront to God.

“Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty.  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.  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: And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures.

 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.  And the idols he shall utterly abolish.   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.” (Isaiah 2:10-18)

In the last day, just before the Millennium all mankind’s pride will be destroyed.  Judah and Jerusalem will be forced to spend several years in hiding as described in Revelation 12:14-16.  Revelation describes the destruction of the trees in Revelation 8:7.  Revelations 16 describes a great earthquake that sinks the islands and flattens the mountains, destroying cities around the world. a third of the ships will be destroyed according to Revelation 8:9. And all the art work from the past will be wiped out so that people can no longer take pride in their wickedness or worship those old idols.   People will flee to the mountains looking for a place of safety, according to Revelation 6:14-17.

“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; 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.” (Isaiah 2:20-21)

The things people cling to today will be thrown away as worthless when God’s power is revealed in the last day.  All the wealth and false religion will mean nothing to them.   

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Commitment Is Required

Isaiah 1:16-31

A wife may well refuse to accept flowers as evidence of an unfaithful husband’s regrets,  She has every right and even an obligation to demand a sincere and concerted effort to make things right and demonstrate his commitment to her before trusting him again, for her own self-respect and emotional health.   Before God forgave and accepted Judah’s advances, He demanded evidence of a sincere commitment to him.

“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.  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.   If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 1:16-20)

If they were to experience the blessing from God, Judah needed to eliminate the known sin from their lives and begin to do the things they had promised to do in exchange for God’s blessings and protection.  Not only did they need to stop their sin, they also needed to proactively seek to set things right, seeing that justice was done, and that provision was made for those who could not protect themselves.    In effect is much like the betrayed wife demanding that her husband get rid of the other woman’s phone number and picture and  come straight home in the evening, doing things around the house and spending time with her instead of going off where she has no way of knowing what he is doing. 

If the husband is willing to listen to his wife and make a commitment to do as she asks, and then follow through with it, the marriage can be saved and eventually become as good or better than ever, but if he refuses to take her seriously, the marriage is doomed to fail.   God promised Judah that if they would sit down and talk it over, and take action, they would be forgiven the relationship could be restored or become even better.  If they refused to listen or rebelled against the agreement, they would be destroyed.  It was their choice what happened because God would not change his mind. 

“How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.  Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: 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.” (Isaiah 1:21-23)

How could a faithful wife whose husband has provided a nice home and give as much as he could prostitute herself out to other men for a few dollars or a temporary pleasure.  Her actions will destroy the peace and happiness they once had, and the pleasure they once found together will be diluted by the memories of relations with someone else and the purity severely tarnished. By worshipping the Syrian gods and turning to the Assyrians for help, Judah had religiously prostituted themselves, betraying God.  As a result, the moral standards had changed, with their leaders accepting bribes, and using their position to take advantage of the people, ripping them off and breaking the laws.   There was no concern for those who were less fortunate. 

“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: And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: 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.” (Isaiah 1:24-26)

If the unfaithful mate refuses to accept responsibility and make efforts to restore the relationship, the betrayed one will probably seek a divorce and repayment for their emotional distress by legal and sometimes physical attacks.   God promised Judah he would destroy those she had messed around with and punish them until they returned to a proper relationship with him, until every remembrance of the other gods was purged.  When they finally did, they would again be known as God’s people.  God will not ever give up on them.

“Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.  And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.  For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.  For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.  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.” (Isaiah 1:27-31)

Jerusalem will be restored by judging and correcting the things that are wrong and those who turn to God as a result will live in righteousness.  Those who refuse to obey God’s law will be destroyed.  Everyone would be embarrassed about the choices Judah had made, choosing some on they thought was strong instead of the Lord, and another source of provision instead of him.  The ones they have counted on for strength will be like a piece of frayed rope or loose cotton just waiting for a spark to set it off, and the ones who made it seem so desirable will serve as the spark, Like the Assyrians coming to help Israel ut turning on them instead.  Ultimately it will result in the destruction of both.  

Monday, February 9, 2015

Israel’s Rebellion Against God

Isaiah 1:1-15

“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.” (Isaiah 1:1)

Isaiah prophesied from about 750 BC. until about 670 BC, during the reign of four kings.   Uzziah, Jotham, and Hezekiah served the Lord, while and Ahaz did not.   During this period there was a general movement away from serving God by the people. although there was a resurgence of following him during Hezekiah’s reign.  After Hezekiah’s death, the downward spiral began in earnest with only a few brief interruptions until the time of Christ.  Knowing this gives us a basis for understanding much of Isaiah’s prophecy.  The prophecies are not in chronological order.

“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.  The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.  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.“ (Isaiah 1:2-4)

Even donkey or a cow knows to come when their owner goes to the feed trough so they can get food.  Israel doesn’t seem to understand that, acting like an animal that has never been handled, fighting to escape and spilling the food all over the ground.   Such behavior may be expected from one who has been abused or never been in a corral, but from one who grew up in constant contact with the owner it is really frustrating.  God had done everything for Israel and Judah for seven hundred years, and their behavior was frustrating to God.

“Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.  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.  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.  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.” (Isaiah 1:5-8)

Judah was like an animal that goes into a panic, kicking and fighting and injuring itself in its efforts to get away.  The more they hurt themselves, the worse their panic gets, and nothing you can do really gets through to them.  All you can do is let them wear themselves out and hope they don’t hurt themselves too badly.    Under Ahaz, Judah was defeated by Israel and two hundred thousand were taken as captives.  Ahaz hired the Assyrians under Tilgathpilneser to help defeat Edomite and Philistine invaders.  Instead the Assyrians took the opportunity to spoil them further.  Panicked, Ahaz turned to the Syrian religion. 

“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.” (Isaiah 1:9)

If it hadn’t been for God’s intervention to protect them, Judah would have been completely destroyed as a result of their rebellion against God.  They would have been as completely wiped out as Sodom or Gomorrah. 

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.  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.” (Isaiah 1:10-11)

Like an unfaithful husband who goes and buys his wife as flowers to distract and mollify her, Judah was offering sacrifices to try to mollify God.   In such a case, the flowers become a reminder of the husbnd’s infidelity instead of a token of his love.  In the same way, Judah’s sacrifices were a reminder of their infidelity and gave God no pleasure.
“When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?  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.  Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.  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.” (Isaiah 1:12-15)

After a few times, the wife learns that her husband bringing flowers for no obvious reason probably indicates another infidelity and begins to see them as an insult to herself as being too dumb to figure out what is going on.   God saw Judah’s sacrifices the same way and refused to accept any more.  They had become and insult to his intelligence rather than an indication of love.   Until real changes are made, there will be no forgiveness.