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Only One risen Saviuor

Only One risen Saviuor
There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved - Jesus

Monday, 28 August 2017

Isaiah Day 39 - Eden Restored


11:6 

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,

The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,

The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;

And a little child shall lead them.


The cow and the bear shall graze;

Their young ones shall lie down together;

And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.


The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,

And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s 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.



Whenever I read this amazing promise of peace and harmony throughout all creation I think of Little Tyke. Enjoy.





The Lion that Wouldn't Eat Meat

From 1946 to 1955, A female African lion, born and raised in America, lived her entire lifetime of nine years without ever eating meat.1 In fact, her owners, Georges and Margaret Westbeau,2 alarmed by scientists’ reports that carnivorous animals cannot live without meat, went to great lengths to try to coax their unusual pet (‘Little Tyke’) to develop a taste for it. They even advertised a cash reward for anyone who could devise a meat-containing formula that the lioness would like. The curator of a New York zoo advised the Westbeaus that putting a few drops of blood in Little Tyke’s milk bottle would help in weaning her, but the lioness cub refused to touch it—even when only a single drop of blood had been added.

The more knowledgeable animal experts among the many visitors to the Westbeaus’ 100 acre (40 hectare) ranch also proffered advice, but nothing worked. Meanwhile, Little Tyke continued to do extremely well on a daily diet of cooked grain, raw eggs and milk. By four years of age she was fully grown and weighed 352 pounds (160 kg).

As Georges Westbeau writes, it was ‘a young visitor’ to Hidden Valley ranch who finally put his mind at ease in response to the question of how Little Tyke could be persuaded to eat meat (thought to be essential for carnivores to survive):

‘He turned to look at me with serious eyes, then asked, “Don’t you read your Bible’? I admitted I didn’t read it as much as I probably should. He continued, “Read Genesis 1:30, and you will get your answer.’ At my first opportunity I got my Bible and turned to the passage he had indicated. To my astonishment, I read these words: “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.’

The owners of Little Tyke, though apparently not Christians, were so reassured by this that they no longer worried about her refusal to eat meat, and turned their attention instead to refining her ‘vegetarian’3 diet further, learning of new grains to add to the lioness’s food. These numerous grains were ground and stirred together while in the dry state, then cooked and mixed with the milk and eggs. The lioness was fed this mixture each morning and evening, and sometimes at midday as well. (To condition her teeth and gums—as she steadfastly refused all offers of bones to gnaw—Little Tyke was given heavy rubber boots to chew on, which generally lasted about three weeks.) The lioness not only survived on this diet, she thrived. One of America’s ‘most able zoo curators’ apparently said that the lioness ‘was the best of her species he had ever viewed.’

As well as Little Tyke, the Westbeaus cared for a menagerie of other animals at their ranch. A large number of the many visitors to Hidden Valley were motivated by the prospect of seeing ‘the lion that lives with the lamb’—a situation similar to the prophecies of Isaiah 11:6. The sight of the lioness living placidly alongside sheep, cattle, and peafowl made a profound impression on many visitors. Television footage4 and newspaper photos of Little Tyke also moved many people, such as one who wrote, ‘Nothing has made me happier than your picture of the lion and the lamb. It has helped me believe in the Bible.’




There are evidences even now of how things were meant to be. You just have to look…

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Isaiah Day 38 - He's Coming...


11:
1

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,

And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.


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.


His delight is in the fear of the Lord,

And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,

Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;


But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,

And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;

He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,

And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.


Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,

And faithfulness the belt of His waist.



You can't go far in Isaiah without good news. Who is Jesse but the father of king David, the greatest king Judah/Israel had ever had. (They were still one nation then). David is the stem from Jesse and from David will come a Rod. A branch will grow from his roots. Whether it's the roots of David or Jesse the message is the same. Our roots in this context are our ancestors. How can our offspring come from our ancestors? Easy. God is our Creator and the Offspring, the Rod, the Branch is coming from Him. 



Think of the consistent imagery so far in Isaiah. Judah is a like an oak tree that is about to be cut down but the stump will remain. There will be a remnant and from those roots beneath that stump Another will arise. He shall be called Immanuel, Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of His reign and kingdom there will be no end. The glory of David and Solomon will pale into forgotten insignificance in comparison. Justice will be restored. The poor and marginalized will flourish then. 



My favourite part is that He won't judge by what He sees or hears. Man judges the outside appearance but God judges the heart. God is not fooled by lies, cover-ups, or the fancy arguments of slick lawyers. He sees past everything that is less than truth and judges with righteousness. Imagine a day when lie or liar will succeed. A day when only truth will triumph. 



When Jesus was here the lawyers, priests, and scribes did their very best to trick Him, to twist His words, to catch Him in a trap. None of it worked. He was way ahead of them. He gave their own words back to them, often in question form and they were silenced. It was all just a taste of a future kingdom where the nonsense and trickery of those who desire to oppression others for personal gain will no longer have a place to practice their foolishness.



What a day, glorious day that will be.

Isaiah Day 37 - He Sees and Knows


10:24 Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: “O My people, who dwell in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrian. He shall strike you with a rod and lift up his staff against you, in the manner of Egypt. 25 For yet a very little while and the indignation will cease, as will My anger in their destruction.” 26 And the Lord of hosts will stir up a scourge for him like the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb; as His rod was on the sea, so will He lift it up in the manner of Egypt.

27 

It shall come to pass in that day

That his burden will be taken away from your shoulder,

And his yoke from your neck,

And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.

28 

He has come to Aiath,

He has passed Migron;

At Michmash he has attended to his equipment.

29 

They have gone along the ridge,

They have taken up lodging at Geba.

Ramah is afraid,

Gibeah of Saul has fled.

30 

Lift up your voice,

O daughter of Gallim!

Cause it to be heard as far as Laish—

O poor Anathoth!

31 

Madmenah has fled,

The inhabitants of Gebim seek refuge.

32 

As yet he will remain at Nob that day;

He will shake his fist at the mount of the daughter of Zion,

The hill of Jerusalem.

33 

Behold, the Lord,

The Lord of hosts,

Will lop off the bough with terror;

Those of high stature will be hewn down,

And the haughty will be humbled.

34 

He will cut down the thickets of the forest with iron,

And Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One.



Did you notice the detail? God tells Judah every place the Assyrian army will pass through on their way to Judah. He even tells that they will stop in Michmash to attend to their equipment. Perhaps some chariot wheels needed repair or something. It seems silly in a way to include all these details that have nothing to do with us. Why did the people back then need to know that Assyria would stop in Michmash to fix their equipment or that they traveled along the ridge and stopped in Geba? Knowing the details wasn't and isn't the point, at least not exactly. The point is to understand that He knows. He is telling Judah not to be afraid. He is promising them that the rule of Assyria will be short lived. That's easy to say. We do it all the time right? Someone gets bad news and we hug them and tell them everything will be ok. The sentiment is great but how do we know? We don't. We don't but He does. If my God can tell me where my enemies will stop to fix their gear before they ever leave home I can trust Him when He says their reign will be short lived.



I love God for many reasons but two of them are on display here in this passage. First He tells me the truth even if I don't want to hear it. He never said Assyria wasn't coming and that tough times weren't ahead. He told the truth. Then He made a promise. The tough times won't last. Freedom will come. And guess what? Both happened just as He said they would.



He tells me the truth even when it's not what I want to hear and He keeps His promises. Can we ask for more? 

Friday, 25 August 2017

Isaiah Day 36 - More Than Meets the Eye


10:13 For he says:

“By the strength of my hand I have done it,

And by my wisdom, for I am prudent;

Also I have removed the boundaries of the people,

And have robbed their treasuries;

So I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man.

14 

My hand has found like a nest the riches of the people,

And as one gathers eggs that areleft,

I have gathered all the earth;

And there was no one who moved his wing,

Nor opened his mouth with even a peep.”

15 

Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it?

Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it?

As if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up,

Or as if a staff could lift up, as if it were not wood!

16 

Therefore the Lord, the Lord of hosts,

Will send leanness among his fat ones;

And under his glory

He will kindle a burning

Like the burning of a fire.

17 

So the Light of Israel will be for a fire,

And his Holy One for a flame;

It will burn and devour

His thorns and his briers in one day.

18 

And it will consume the glory of his forest and of his fruitful field,

Both soul and body;

And they will be as when a sick man wastes away.

19 

Then the rest of the trees of his forest

Will be so few in number

That a child may write them.

20 

And it shall come to pass in that day

That the remnant of Israel,

And such as have escaped of the house of Jacob,

Will never again depend on him who defeated them,

But will depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.

21 

The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob,

To the Mighty God.

22 

For though your people, O Israel, be as the sand of the sea,

A remnant of them will return;

The destruction decreed shall overflow with righteousness.

23 

For the Lord God of hosts

Will make a determined end

In the midst of all the land.



Two key points today. First of all if the messages from God through Isaiah to Judah were only meant for them we wouldn't have them. We only have in the pages of the Bible the history that is relevant for us. Notice in verse 14 a reference to "all the earth". How can a historical issue between Judah and Assyria involve "all the earth"? Just as the child born and given a prophetic name and significance applied both to the son of Isaiah and Jesus centuries later, so the warnings to Judah applied then and now. God did not tolerate their injustice and abuse of power in then and He won't now either. What was a rather small and local issue then will involve "all the earth" at the end and from God's judgment against evil and those who persist in it, a remnant will emerge who trusted Him and upheld His kingdom principles of love, mercy, equality, and justice right through the darkness and corruption.



The second point is that God is watching over us. He blocks and permits events with a wisdom we can only catch faint glimpses of. At times everything seems upside down and backwards. Evil is permitted to win and we wonder where He is yet in His wisdom and perfect knowledge of all things from beginning to end it will all make perfect sense in the end when we get to see what He saw all along. 



Logically it makes no sense to have Judah fall to Assyria. Yes Judah was a mess but Assyria was no better and likely worse. However God had no plans to reward Assyria. He simply stepped back, removed His protection from Judah and let Assyria carry out what she would have done sooner had Good not restrained her. Then in turn Assyria reaped the harvest of her own evil. The play and counter play of history seems hard to figure out but we don't know all the what ifs. We know what did happen but not all the other alternatives had God prevented those events. This brings us to the crux of this point. God is not the ax or the saw. He is the Hand. We see what we see and we know what we know and we judge Him from our very limited perspective. When we experience victory we boast and feel proud. We think our victory proves we are worthy or deserving. Is it possible we are like Assyria and only "won" because of circumstances that had nothing to do with us or our strength, wisdom, or worthiness? 



Humility is perhaps the greatest quality a human can possess and is in short supply. Let God be God. Trust Him rather than judge Him. Remember that the greatest victory Jesus achieved occurred while His enemies were imagining themselves victorious over Him. Often it is the darkest just before the dawn. If you have been trusting Him but the darkness is squeezing the life from your faith remember God is infinitely wise and infinitely good and the Story isn't over.

Isaiah Days 31 to 35


Isaiah Day 31 - Let the Word Speak

Some feel the book of Isaiah is dread and gloom and darkness. Some feel it is a wonderful book of promises. Both are true. We live in a world of dread and gloom. Every day awful news comes from somewhere, be it the news of a loved one with some awful sickness or another terrorist attack, or racial tensions, or a suicide, or... the list is endless. We were born into this. We had no say and we have no power to make it better or right. Yet inside of us there is this hope. An expectation of better days. A longing for peace, for joy, for restoration. Today I'm just going to let the Word of God speak. I'm going to let it announce our Hope.

9:1 Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, as when at first He lightly esteemed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward more heavily oppressed her, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,

In Galilee of the Gentiles.

2 The people who walked in darkness

Have seen a great light;

Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.

3 You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; They rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

4 For You have broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.

5 For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, and garments rolled in blood, will be used for burning and fuel of fire.

6 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.



We have hope far beyond our wildest dreams. His name is Jesus.





Isaiah Day 32 - On His Shoulder



9:6



For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


Of the increase of His government and peace

There will be no end,

Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,

To order it and establish it with judgment and justice

From that time forward, even forever.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.



Sometimes pride and arrogance well up in me and I wonder how people can read the Bible and miss things in it that are so obvious. Well God has ways of humbling us and sometimes it's gentle and other times it hits like a baseball bat across the forehead. Today was thankfully gentle. You see Isaiah 9:6 is one of my favourite verses. In fact there's one particular phrase in the verse and today I noticed for the first time that it doesn't exactly say what I have always thought it said. The phrase is "and the government will be upon His shoulders". At least that's what I always thought it said. This morning I saw that there is no 's' on shoulder. I guess all these years I subconsciously added the 's' because we all have two shoulders. I even had to double check the Greek to make sure and there it was. Shoulder has no 's'. It is singular. One shoulder. Hmmm.



Before we get too far ahead what does this phrase mean anyway? I wish I could draw this for you since a picture is worth many words. Imagine a triangle. It's sitting flat with one corner pointing straight to the sky like an arrowhead. Sitting on top of this triangle is a king. Underneath him are his sons and daughters, the princes and princesses. Below them are the highest officials of his royal court. As we go down the triangle gets wiser and wider and each layer under the king represents larger and larger groups holding a lower and lower position until finally we come to the peasants at the bottom. The common people. The masses. The lowest subjects of the kingdom. What we have just looked at is the structure of earthly kingdoms. The bulk of the wealth and power is at the top and at the bottom there is little to no wealth and certainly no power unless there is a revolt and the triangle topples over.



Here in Isaiah 9 we are introduced to a future King. A very different King and a very different kind of kingdom. Rather than being carried on his throne on the shoulders of men, this King carries the government on His shoulder. In His kingdom the triangle is upside-down. He carries the weight of the world on His shoulder. He is not fanned by servants and treated as a royal celebrity. Instead he takes the basin and towel and washes dirty feet. He touches the outcast leper. He meets with a woman of ill repute who has no standing even among her own people. He travels to "heathen" lands. He crosses seas in storms to rescue one man from the grip of demons. He topples the mighty in order to free the oppressed. He says strange things like "the first will be last and the last first." and "Don't seek the best seat, take the lowest seat" and "Don't chase after positions and wealth like the Gentiles do. Seek to serve."



The government is on His shoulder...



Our True King is the greatest servant this planet has ever seen and our gift of gratitude was to place a Roman cross on His shoulder which He willingly took and dragged up a hill called Calvary. So complete was His surrender to servitude, and so great was the weight of our world on that shoulder that He couldn't make it the whole way. He spent Himself until there was nothing left to spend.



One cross, one shoulder, one world to carry. 



A King is coming. Coming to rescue and restore those who choose to be a part of this kingdom, a kingdom of grace, humility, service, love. I am nothing like my King but there is power in the blood and I'm holding to His promises. He who has begun a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. :)





Isaiah Day 33 - Hope and Darkness, Darkness and Hope...



9:8 

The Lord sent a word against Jacob,

And it has fallen on Israel.


All the people will know—

Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria—

Who say in pride and arrogance of heart:

10 

“The bricks have fallen down,

But we will rebuild with hewn stones;

The sycamores are cut down,

But we will replace them with cedars.”

11 

Therefore the Lord shall set up

The adversaries of Rezin against him,

And spur his enemies on,

12 

The Syrians before and the Philistines behind;

And they shall devour Israel with an open mouth.

For all this His anger is not turned away,

But His hand is stretched out still.

13 

For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them,

Nor do they seek the Lord of hosts.

14 

Therefore the Lord will cut off head and tail from Israel,

Palm branch and bulrush in one day.

15 

The elder and honorable, he is the head;

The prophet who teaches lies, he isthe tail.

16 

For the leaders of this people cause them to err,

And those who are led by them are destroyed.

17 

Therefore the Lord will have no joy in their young men,

Nor have mercy on their fatherless and widows;

For everyone is a hypocrite and an evildoer,

And every mouth speaks folly.

For all this His anger is not turned away,

But His hand is stretched out still.

18 

For wickedness burns as the fire;

It shall devour the briers and thorns,

And kindle in the thickets of the forest;

They shall mount up like rising smoke.

19 

Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts

The land is burned up,

And the people shall be as fuel for the fire;

No man shall spare his brother.

20 

And he shall snatch on the right hand

And be hungry;

He shall devour on the left hand

And not be satisfied;

Every man shall eat the flesh of his own arm.

21 

Manasseh shall devour Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh;

Together they shall be against Judah.

For all this His anger is not turned away,

But His hand is stretched out still.



If it seems like the book of Isaiah flip flops back and forth between doom and hope, between promises of blessing and warnings of destruction it is because it does. God is trying to reach His stubborn people who are will fill blind and purposely deaf. Do you remember when Stephen was arrested by the religious leaders in the book of Acts? The very fact religious leaders were arresting people should be enough to tell the story. When they arrested him, he began to explain through the Story of the Old Testament why he believed in Jesus. He never finished his explanation. He never had the chance. The men blocked their ears. They refused to listen. Their "deafness" was not a curse or punishment from an angry God. It was a deliberate choice to not hear. His voice must be silence and it was. They stoned him to death right there just as Cain killed his own brother. 



There are two things I want us to note in this dark half of Isaiah 9. At first glance it appears to be punishment served up by God because His patience has reached an end. However that's not the case at all. The people are killing each other. Ephraim and Manasseh were the sons of Joseph and these are their descendants. They are turning against each other and against Judah. The descendants of Jacob are literally killing each other while Syria and the Philistines and the enemies of Rezin are coming in for the spoils. Consistently in the Bible the wrath of God is a term used to describe God withdrawing His protection from people who have completely rejected Him. Note that they proudly say they don't need Him. They will rebuild bigger and better than before all on their own.



They don't want God because they don't want love. They want selfish gain, power, possessions, etc... They want a kingdom but not God's kingdom. 



Finally in order to preserve a remnant (just like the flood on a smaller scale) God withdraws and leaves them to themselves. The result is anarchy and bloodshed, not by God's hand but by their own.





Isaiah Day 34 - No Mistaking the Problem



10:1 “Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees,

Who write misfortune,

Which they have prescribed


To rob the needy of justice,

And to take what is right from the poor of My people,

That widows may be their prey,

And that they may rob the fatherless.


What will you do in the day of punishment,

And in the desolation which will come from afar?

To whom will you flee for help?

And where will you leave your glory?


Without Me they shall bow down among the prisoners,

And they shall fall among the slain.”

For all this His anger is not turned away,

But His hand is stretched out still.



There is no mistaking why God was not happy with Judah. It wasn't because they has some weird theological idea or we're worshipping on the wrong day, or gender inequality or any of the issues we pretend are all important. It was pretty simple. Those who had power were using it to benefit themselves and oppress the vulnerable, even writing new laws to make injustice legal. 



I want to note something important here. God is often criticized and even written off for letting evil thrive. The truth is He does. He allows people the freedom to be and do as they choose and expose who they are. However the day will come when they will have to own those choices. God is going to be so complete, so balanced, so hands off and such a champion of personal freedom that when this world is over and evil is called to account that even the most wicked will bow and admit He was just and fair and more than merciful. 



So when you are injustice you can shake your fist at God or recognize that it is we who are unjust. Then you can decide if you will use the resources and influence you have to fight against it and relieve suffering or just live for yourself.





Isaiah Day 35 - Let It Be Known...



10:5 “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger

And the staff in whose hand is My indignation.


I will send him against an ungodly nation,

And against the people of My wrath

I will give him charge,

To seize the spoil, to take the prey,

And to tread them down like the mire of the streets.


Yet he does not mean so,

Nor does his heart think so;

But it is in his heart to destroy,

And cut off not a few nations.


For he says,

‘Are not my princes altogether kings?


Is not Calno like Carchemish?

Is not Hamath like Arpad?

Is not Samaria like Damascus?

10 

As my hand has found the kingdoms of the idols,

Whose carved images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria,

11 

As I have done to Samaria and her idols,

Shall I not do also to Jerusalem and her idols?’”

12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Lord has performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks.”



See how clear it is? God is not only telling the future of evil, self-obsessed, oppressive Judah. He is also telling the future of the nation coming against her. Two wrongs don't make a right. God is not a God of war. He takes no delight in violence or bloodshed. When the Scriptures speak of His wrath it is always a withdrawing of His presence and protection. 



Judah has been enjoying both. His presence filled the temple and His unseen protection enabled them to thrive in the midst of nations larger and mightier if measuring by population and military might. Often Judah was threatened but God kept a hedge around her. Now through the prophet Isaiah He is announcing that He won't subsidize their injustice and evil any longer. He is removing the invisible fences. Angels will no longer stand guard. The way will be opened for Assyria to march over them. 



But and this is a huge but - God is not fighting with Assyria. They are not working for Him. They are not a tool of punishment in His hand. He is simply stepping aside so they are free to do what they would have done already if they could have. With the freedom to attack successfully comes a warning. Their evil will not go unpunished either. They are not innocent. Their day will also come.



It's easy to stand in judgement of God from a comfortable distance. We see Him as harsh yet we also judge Him when injustice goes unpunished.



The truth is He is always watching. No man is His enemy from His perspective. He loves every man, woman, and child. He longs to reach us, teach us, and win our trust and love. He gives us complete freedom and if we abuse that freedom beyond repair He withdraws His merciful protection and leaves us to the consequences of our own choices. 



On the other hand when I take advantage of others who have made bad choices and attack them or exploit them at their weakest point with the justification that they deserve whatever is coming to them I am but positioning myself for a similar fall. 



It may sound like God and Assyria are war partners but read the whole story. God does not partner with evil and when we turn on each other He weeps for both sides.

Isaiah Days 23 to 30


Isaiah Day 23 - Offer Rejected



7:10 Moreover the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.”

12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!”

13 Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. 15 Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. 17 The Lord will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father’s house—days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah.”

18 

And it shall come to pass in that day

That the Lord will whistle for the fly

That is in the farthest part of the rivers of Egypt,

And for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

19 

They will come, and all of them will rest

In the desolate valleys and in the clefts of the rocks,

And on all thorns and in all pastures.

20 

In the same day the Lord will shave with a hired razor,

With those from beyond the River,[c]with the king of Assyria,

The head and the hair of the legs,

And will also remove the beard.

21 

It shall be in that day

That a man will keep alive a young cow and two sheep;

22 

So it shall be, from the abundance of milk they give,

That he will eat curds;

For curds and honey everyone will eat who is left in the land.

23 

It shall happen in that day,

That wherever there could be a thousand vines

Worth a thousand shekels of silver,

It will be for briers and thorns.

24 

With arrows and bows men will come there,

Because all the land will become briers and thorns.

25 

And to any hill which could be dug with the hoe,

You will not go there for fear of briers and thorns;

But it will become a range for oxen

And a place for sheep to roam.



Remember the context from yesterday. Syria and Israel (the northern ten tribes that split off after Solomon died) have made a military alliance and are coming against Judah. Ahaz is terrified. Isaiah comes to encourage him with a promise from God that they won't succeed. Ahaz does not believe the promise. Now Isaiah goes a step further and tells Ahaz to ask God for a sign that will confirm the validity of the promise. Again he refuses. 

Isaiah goes another step further and basically says "Since you won't ask for a sign, here is what the sign will be."

A virgin (young maiden) will give birth to a son. His name will be Immanuel (God is with us). Before the boy is old enough to choose right from wrong the two kings you fear will be brought to nothing (Syria and Israel) and instead you will be under the yoke of the King of Assyria.

You probably recognize the verses about the virgin giving birth. We'll talk about that tomorrow. For now it's important to know that to save himself from the kings God promised wouldn't harm him anyway Ahaz made a deal with the king of Assyria and bondage God foretold Ahaz actually brought upon himself simply because he refused to believe God. 

Is it possible that our refusal to trust God and our obsessive self-preservation tactics are actually hurting rather than helping us? We'll dig deep tomorrow but think about it. What trouble have you gotten into just by not trusting God to keep His word?



Isaiah Day 24 - Important Things To Know



7:13 Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. 15 Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. 17 The Lord will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father’s house—days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah.”



As discussed yesterday Isaiah 7:14 is a familiar verse to us. Matthew quotes it to confirm that the birth of Jesus fulfills this prophecy. Mary was the virgin and Jesus the miracle child. This creates questions. How can a prophecy dealing with a nearly immediate situation in Isaiah's time be thrown 700ish years into the future and applied to another situation? Is that valid? Matthew says yes. Can we safely trust him? 



There are two things you need to know to understand this. First is a reality Jesus Himself taught in John 5:39. In rebuking the religious leaders He said "You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life, but these testify of Me."



The Scriptures at that point were what we call the Old Testament. That's all they had. They used them as a textbook/formula guide. They thought that if they could deduce from them exactly what God wanted from them and deliver it, then they would get what they wanted from Him. Jesus insisted they were missing it entirely. He taught that from the moment in Genesis 3 when Someone was promised to come and crush the serpents head, it was pointing to Himself. He was the animal killed to provide clothes for Adam and Eve. He is our wedding garment, our cloak of sinless perfection. He was the Lamb offered by Abel in chapter 4. Cain was rejected the moment he substituted the Lamb (Jesus) for vegetables (his own works/goodness). Jesus was the ark of safety in Genesis 6. He was the Seed promised to and through Abraham through Whom all nations would be blessed. On and on through the Old Testament story it whispers and sometimes shouts "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!!!"



What Jesus was saying is that every story, event, conflict, rescue, and key character was a foreshadowing of Himself. That in a sense the immediate situation was in a sense secondary to the greater Story.



Here's the second thing you need to know. Many prophecies had a dual application. They dealt with the immediate (in this case the plight of King Ahaz and Judah) and the greater Story (the birth of Jesus to a virgin and one of His names - Immanuel, God With Us). A familiar example of one prophecy pointing to two different times and places is Matthew 24. The disciples asked about the destruction of the temple and the end of the world assuming they would be one event. Jesus gave one prophecy that pointed to two different events separated by thousands of years. The temple was destroyed about 40 years later in 70 A.D. and we are still waiting for Jesus to return. One prophecy with two applications. 



So Isaiah 7:14 is no problem. It is a local event pointing to a child from Isaiah's time and also a prophecy pointing to Jesus. Matthew understood. He understood Jesus is the Story and all stories written in Scripture in some way point to Him. This is the first obvious one in Isaiah but it won't be the last. See you tomorrow :)



Isaiah Day 25 - Faithful Witnesses



8:1 Moreover the Lord said to me, “Take a large scroll, and write on it with a man’s pen concerning Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. 2 And I will take for Myself faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.”

3 Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, “Call his name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz; 4 for before the child shall have knowledge to cry ‘My father’ and ‘My mother,’ the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be taken away before the king of Assyria.”



Here's a summary of the events from a commentary:



"It was during this national crisis that Isaiah’s second son was born as prophesied as a sign to Ahaz and Judah. Before the boy was conceived God had Isaiah draw up a legal document with the four words of his future son’s name, Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Isaiah 8:1–2). The name literally means “Speed-spoil-hasten-plunder” or “Swift to the spoil, quick to the plunder.” God’s message to Ahaz was that both of Judah’s enemies would be defeated and plundered. Judah would be saved. The document containing the name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz symbolized a property deed transferring the wealth of Damascus and Israel to the king of Assyria.



Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, Isaiah’s future son, named with the same four words of the document, revealed the time frame of Israel’s and Syria’s defeat: sometime between the conception of Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz to “before the boy knows how to say ‘My father’ or ‘My mother’” (Isaiah 8:3–4). That is, Judah would be saved before Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz reached age 2, a total of less than three years, counting the child’s time in the womb.



The prophecy was fulfilled in 732 BC when both Syria and Israel were conquered by Assyria. A decade later Assyria removed Israel’s wealth and many of her people, obliterating their national identity. Those Israelites who remained in the land intermarried with a variety of foreign occupiers sent by their conquerors (2 Kings 17:24), eventually giving rise to the despised race of Samaritans (see John 4:9; 8:48).”



I believe it's important to understand history. It helps to see where the animosity between Judah and Samaria began. Were we born into that mess we would likely have been drawn into the same toxic thinking.



That being said, what jumped out at me today some might consider off topic but the Bible includes it and I have lived it, so here it goes:



Isaiah wanted to make sure that the prophecy Ahaz refused to believe was written down accurately ahead of time so that Ahaz and the people would see that God knows the end from the beginning. In order to accomplish this it says he needed faithful witnesses to record it. Not just witnesses, faithful witnesses. 



If you have ever served on a board of any kind you know that one person has the task of recording the significant decisions etc... made by the board at every meeting. Those records become "minutes" and before the next meeting can take place those minutes must be reviewed and approved as an accurate account of the previous meeting. The reason for this is a sad one. Those who record the minutes have been known to "modify" or record the meeting details in a way that supports their agenda and/or views. The reviewing of the minutes is a way to help prevent false minutes from being recorded. 



I'm thankful that with Jesus I don't have to double check His Words. I'm thankful He never changes. I'm thankful He never goes back on His Word and keeps all His promises. As one who claims to follow Him it is my prayer that I will have the integrity and strength of character to be more than a witness. I want to be a faithful witness. 





Isaiah Day 26 - Names



8:3 Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, “Call his name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz; 4 for before the child shall have knowledge to cry ‘My father’ and ‘My mother,’ the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be taken away before the king of Assyria.”



This baby was Isaiah's own son. He now has two children we have been told about. The first Shear-Jashub which means "The remnant shall return" and now Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz which means "Hurry to the spoils". 



So not only is Isaiah preaching and writing down by the hand of faithful witnesses events that are soon to take place, but his own children are preaching every time someone speaks their names. 



This is not new in Scripture by the way. Names often carry significant meaning. Both Noah's grandfather and father had names that pointed to and proclaimed the coming flood, showing that God was making events known generations in advance, before He ever told Noah to build a boat. 



In previous blogs we have covered the name change of Jacob to Isreal, where his first name described his character (underhanded) and his new name his change in character (overcomer). Isaiah's own name is a message also "Yahweh(God) is salvation".



What about the multiple names of Jesus? Jesus means "Jehovah Saves", very similar to Isaiah's name and identical to the name Joshua. Joshua brought the people into Canaan and Jesus will bring us into heaven, saving us from this broken world.



Immanuel means "God Is With Us". 



He is also our King, Judge, High Priest, Mediator, Advocate, Shepherd, Door, Bread, Water, Light, Father, I Am, Elder Brother, Servant, Lion, Lamb etc... and each name or title designates one of His many roles. Just as I am a Father, son, husband, uncle, pastor, teacher etc... So Jesus is not just many things to us but all things to us and to convey this without lengthy explanations God wraps it all up in names. Track the names in the Bible and you will be tracking the unfolding Story.



Just look at these three names in the Book of Isaiah: Yahweh is salvation, "A remnant will return" and "rush to the spoils."



This whole world will be plundered and ravaged by sin and it's deadly effects but Yahweh will save and a remnant will return. :)





Isaiah Day 27 - Conspiracy Theories



8:5 The Lord also spoke to me again, saying:


“Inasmuch as these people refused

The waters of Shiloah that flow softly,

And rejoice in Rezin and in Remaliah’s son;


Now therefore, behold, the Lord brings up over them

The waters of the River,[b] strong and mighty—

The king of Assyria and all his glory;

He will go up over all his channels

And go over all his banks.


He will pass through Judah,

He will overflow and pass over,

He will reach up to the neck;

And the stretching out of his wings

Will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel.


“Be shattered, O you peoples, and be broken in pieces!

Give ear, all you from far countries.

Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces;

Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces.

10 

Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing;

Speak the word, but it will not stand,

For God is with us.”

11 For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying:

12 

“Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’

Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy,

Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.

13 

The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow;

Let Him be your fear,

And let Him be your dread.

14 

He will be as a sanctuary,

But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense

To both the houses of Israel,

As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

15 

And many among them shall stumble;

They shall fall and be broken,

Be snared and taken.”

16 

Bind up the testimony,

Seal the law among my disciples.

17 

And I will wait on the Lord,

Who hides His face from the house of Jacob;

And I will hope in Him.

18 

Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me!

We are for signs and wonders in Israel

From the Lord of hosts,

Who dwells in Mount Zion.



God's folding of the future of Israel and Judah continues with the repeated prediction that Rezin and Ramaliah (Syria and Israel) will fall and Assyria will destroy them and invade Judah. It's important to keep in mind that Judah is not in trouble because they are small and weak or because Assyria is strong. If it were a matter of military might only there never would have been a nation of Judah or Israel to begin with. There source of strength and prosperity was never the sword. In fact when David was having some military success and began to trust in horses and soldiers God rebuked him for counting his fighting men. It was David who learned his lesson and penned a Psalm that said "Some trust in horses and some in chariots but we will remember the name of the Lord our God." (Psalm 20)



He also wrote: "



Psalm 118 

8

It is better to trust in the Lord

Than to put confidence in man.


It is better to trust in the Lord

Than to put confidence in princes.



There is a different kind of self-trust that doesn't involve chariots or horses or princes and God tells Isaiah how to deal with it. God tells Isaiah not to get involved in everything they call a conspiracy. Note that there are conspiracies but most of what falls in that category is a bunch of paranoid self-preservation theories. Don't follow the rabbit trails. I did it for a bit many years ago and some of what I dug may have even been true but not everything that is true is relevant.

It's important to remember that we all have tendencies that will lead us away from putting our full confidence in God. For some of us it is trusting leaders too much and depending on "horses, chariots, and princes." Some feel as long as "their guy" is in power all will be well and "the other guy" is in power the sky will surely fall. Others don't trust government at all. They look for evil and conspiracies wherever they can imagine one. This is the same trap of self-obsession from another angle. One feels man/government is the answer and the other feels man/anti-government is the answer. Both are looking to man and mens ideas. Neither have their faith in God and what He is saying. 

Typically these conspiracies lead to fear over ideas and potential scenarios no regular person has any control over anyway. Taken to the extreme it leads to building underground bunkers and storing food and guns like squirrels hide nuts. And for what? If North Korea goes nuclear on us will our stash see us through? Will fretting about it do anyone any good?

Did Elijah need a bunker and a stash of food and supplies to survive the drought in Israel? Was it careful planning and rationing of supplies that fed the Israelites in the wilderness?

God is for us not against us. Look how many times and ways He tried to reach Ahaz and help him. In the end God gave him all the information he needed and kept His Word to the letter. If He did all that for an evil stubborn king will He do less for us? 

I'm growing tired of the conspiracy theories in society and in the church. We will not be lost because of women in leadership or because of the LGBT movement or because of Trump in power or because the Lutheran Church is returning to the Pope. The illuminati will be the down fall off no man. Every person who finds themselves against God in the end will have gotten there by the same path. A refusal to trust Him. 

"Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus or in life, but to trust and obey."





Isaiah Day 28 - Hope In the Darkness



8:12 

“Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’

Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.

13 

The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear,

And let Him be your dread.

14 

He will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense

To both the houses of Israel,

As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

15 

And many among them shall stumble;

They shall fall and be broken, be  snared and taken.”

16 

Bind up the testimony, and seal the law among my disciples.

17 

And I will wait on the Lord, Who hides His face from the house of Jacob; and I will hope in Him.

18 

Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, Who dwells in Mount Zion.

19 And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

21 They will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22 Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness.



There is no denying that there is a lot of darkness, or doom and gloom in this passage. Israel and Judah are both headed for trouble. The sad part is that it was all self-inflicted and completely avoidable. If I go to my doctor and he looks me in the eye and says "Dan if you don't change your diet, start a regular exercise program, and lose weight you are headed for diabetes, a heart attack, stroke or worse." is he to blame? If any of those things come to pass did he cause them? Should I change doctors and find one who will have more positive things to say about me and my future? 



Look at Judah. Look at Israel. Lots of religion but lots of ignoring the poor and vulnerable. Conspiracy theories were abounding and increasing. People were professing to believe in God but seeking the counsel of mediums and psychics. They trusted military might far more than the God of Abraham and Moses. Does any of this sound familiar? 



Yet in the midst of all that Isaiah and many others continued to cling to God. Their hope and trust was firmly in Him. His law of love was sealed in them. Even as God was withdrawing (being pushed out) of their nation they continued to seek Him. 



What will we do in these times? Be religious but ignore the truly needy? Chase after the latest conspiracy websites and radio programs? Look for enemies and shadows everywhere while ignoring the enemy within? Look for a political hero? Hope our military is stronger than "theirs"? Go to psychics and mediums to get advice or talk to our dead loved ones? Ignore His simple laws of compassion and curse Him when our prosperity turns to dust?



Or will we be an Isaiah in the darkness. Will we declare in spite of the doom and gloom around us that Yahweh is still our Hope and Salvation?





Isaiah Day 29 - In That Day...



8:19 And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

21 They will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22 Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness.



Have you ever noticed that it's most often the person in the wrong in any situation who gets angry at the person who did nothing wrong? In traffic car A doesn't see car B and cuts them off and when they see how close they were to having an accident they glare or give the finger to the person they cut off. A student doesn't study or do their homework and hates the teacher when they don't do well. A child is explained the consequences of certain choices and then gets angry at mom or dad when they make the choice and the consequences come.



Logical? Hardly yet it happens all the time. 



Now notice what Isaiah says. The future will be dark. "God's people" will be seeking mediums and looking to talk to the dead. When things get really bad those who were oppressing the poor and marginalizing the vulnerable will be hungry themselves and when the suffering reaches their door and their supper table they will curse their king and their God.



They will throw a temper tantrum. They will flip the bird at God. They will kick and scream and blame Him. Yet didn't He warn them repeatedly. Didn't He chart a path that could have avoided this darkness? So why are they angry? Why were they seeking mediums in the first place?



The behaviour I'm about to describe I hope never applies to you but as a leader and human being I have seen it over and over. People come seeking advice. They are either considering an unwise choice or are in the midst of unwise choices. They profess to want counsel. You give it. They ignore it and pursue their unwise choices. In addition they continue to look for people to give them counsel until they find someone who will approve the choices they have made or want to make.



God had already laid out the present and future. He called them on their hypocrisy and cruelty to the disenfranchised. He warned them where it was all headed. He offered a brighter alternative. They shut their ears. They closed their hearts and minds to Him. Instead they went off to seek other counsel to see if they could find a way to keep being self-obsessed religious hypocrites and avoid trouble. That's why they went after mediums. 



The trouble was going to come and when it did Isaiah said they would blame God...



If any of this thinking and behaviour seems uncomfortably familiar perhaps it's time to chart a different course. Perhaps we should seek to follow the law and the Testimony. We have no right to be angry at God unless we did our part and He never fulfilled His...





Isaiah Day 30 - Sanctuary Or...



8:12 

“Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’

Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy,

Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.

13 

The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow;

Let Him be your fear,

And let Him be your dread.

14 

He will be as a sanctuary,

But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense

To both the houses of Israel,

As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

15 

And many among them shall stumble;

They shall fall and be broken,

Be snared and taken.”

16 

Bind up the testimony,

Seal the law among my disciples.

17 

And I will wait on the Lord,

Who hides His face from the house of Jacob;

And I will hope in Him.

18 

Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me!

We are for signs and wonders in Israel

From the Lord of hosts,

Who dwells in Mount Zion.

19 And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

21 They will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22 Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness.



Technically we finished chapter 8 two days ago yet it keeps drawing me back. These verses are pivotal. They are a message to those who claim to be His. Look specifically at verse 14. That word "but" is there again. It's like a line in the Sand between two very different things. In the midst of all the impending chaos God will be a sanctuary to some but a rock of offense to others. Why? Is it because God has favourites?

In Luke 21 the return of Jesus is described. Luke writes that those who are waiting for Him will look up and see the cloud, they will recognize it as the sign of His return and they will cry out "This is our God! We have waited for Him and He will save us!" They waited in the darkness. They believed when there appeared to be nothing and no One to believe in. Like the true prophets of God hiding in caves during the time of King Ahab these men and women held on to hope when it seemed entirely hopeless. Now they see Him with their eyes. They hear the distant trumpets. It's Him. It's really Him!



Meanwhile John paints a very different scene in Revelation. He sees another group. They look up and see the same cloud. They too recognize Who it is but there are no shouts of joy from them. Instead they cry for the rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of Him who sits on the throne.



Again why? Does Jesus have favourites?



Not according to both His Word and His actions. When He was here He served the rich and poor, the Jews, and the foreigners, men and women, the religious and the heathen. His hands of healing and hope were extended to all. 



Paul wrote that God is no respecter of persons, that He has no favourites, and that with Him there is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no male or female. His invitation is simple: "Whosoever will let him come... For God do loved the entire world that He sent His Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have life everlasting... and Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the whole world."



Notice how this dark passage ends. Those who did not make God their sanctuary are enraged! The first person to be enraged in the Bible was Cain. Why? Because God wouldn't accept his fruits and vegetables as an offering. Cain wanted to do his own thing, be his own man, make his own way, and deny the grace of God represented in the lamb. His self-obsession grew so deep and toxic that his fury lead him to kill his own brother. He was a professed follower of God who was really worshipping himself. God loved him. God reached out to him just as he reached out to king Ahaz. God wanted to help him, heal him, and save him. Cain refused. Ahaz refused. 



Make God your sanctuary.