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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

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Isaiah Days 40 to 55


Isaiah Day 40 - What Does That Mean? Please Share



11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters that cover the sea.



We read the promises yesterday, this amazing picture of children playing with what are now considered dangerous animals without fear and animals that are now enemies playing and resting together. The specific promises/examples are summed up with this one final statement: They will not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.



Simple enough. Then it gives a reason, an explanation for why things will be so wonderfully different. "For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord..."



Today I want to do something different. I want to ask anyone who has any thoughts on this to share them. What do think God meant when He explained that perfect peace will exist throughout all creation because "the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD?



Specifically what is it to have a knowledge of the LORD and why would that produce peace and harmony? I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this.





Isaiah Day 41 - The Knowledge of the LORD

11:9 

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,

For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord

As the waters cover the sea.

10 

“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,

Who shall stand as a banner to the people;

For the Gentiles shall seek Him,

And His resting place shall be glorious.”

11 

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 who are left,

From Assyria and Egypt,

From Pathros and Cush,

From Elam and Shinar,

From Hamath and the islands of the sea.

12 

He will set up a banner for the nations,

And will assemble the outcasts of Israel,

And gather together the dispersed of Judah

From the four corners of the earth.



Yesterday we stopped to consider what the knowledge of the Lord was and how that fit the promises that nothing and no one will hurt or destroy anything in all His holy mountain. Today as we explore further it becomes a lot more clear. This past week I was asked why God chose Israel over all the other nations. It's a common question based on a misunderstanding. God never called Israel the nation. He called a man. His name was Abraham and far from being a nation, he didn't even have one child. In those times nations were essentially families that grew into nations. They started with a man of ambition, success, or notoriety and in time his "legend" became the name of his growing descendants. Ammon, Moab, Edom, Cush, Egypt, those are all names of a man and in time his descendants became a nation. 



So Good didn't choose a nation. He called a man. When He called him, it came with promises and the key promise what that he (Abram) would become a great nation, that a Seed would come from him and through that Seed (Jesus) all the nations would be blessed. The only thing that set the future nation of Israel (the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - whose name was changed to Israel) is that they were the people through whom the Seed would come, the Seed who would bless All the nations. Notice how Isaiah keeps calling the One who will come the root of Jesse and the root of David. That's because Jesus always was. He is the Creator and root all. 



When they asked me the question about Israel and how special and privileged they seemed to be I took them to the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 and showed them all the women that were mentioned. The only genealogy in the entire Bible there mentions women. I showed them how none of those women save Mary was from the tribes of Israel. Without exception, they were foreigners. In fact David, the greatest human king of Israel had more foreign blood in his veins that Jewish blood. 



Look at nature. The killing is all done to survive. Some kill to eat. Some fight to save themselves but it's all a struggle for self-preservation. The same is true among humans. Why do we fight and hurt and cheat? Is it not either fear based or an effort to survive or "get ahead"? Didn't Eve eat the fruit under the false idea she was missing something? Was it not an attempt to get ahead? 



When we have the full knowledge of the character of God and see that He is love and favours no one over another we won't feel the need to struggle or fight. We can rest in His ample provision. As we saw already lions don't need meat. Everything they need to survive is already here but the corruption and fear brought by the knowledge of evil has blinded us. We don't get it. We don't see God or our own situation as it really is.



Someday that will all be righted. The need to struggle will be over and we will be at rest. No fear. No struggle. No need to get. We will know Him and that will be enough to fix everything else. 



Isaiah Day 42



11:12 

He will set up a banner for the nations,

And will assemble the outcasts of Israel,

And gather together the dispersed of Judah

From the four corners of the earth.

13 

Also the envy of Ephraim shall depart,

And the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off;

Ephraim shall not envy Judah,

And Judah shall not harass Ephraim.

14 

But they shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west;

Together they shall plunder the people of the East;

They shall lay their hand on Edom and Moab;

And the people of Ammon shall obey them.

15 

The Lord will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt;

With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River,

And strike it in the seven streams,

And make men cross over dry-shod.

16 

There will be a highway for the remnant of His people

Who will be left from Assyria,

As it was for Israel

In the day that he came up from the land of Egypt. 



I wish I knew the significance of each statement here but I don't. What is clear is God's concern for and promises to all the nations. He will set up one banner for all of them. The book of Acts tells us that from one blood came all the nations of the earth and we know from the Biblical account of history that this is true. Adam and Eve are the parents of us all, and after the flood Noah and his family were again the ancestors of all people now living on the earth. The idea of races is a human construct. The idea that a white person is a different race than a brown skinned person is as foreign to the truth as saying a black Labrador retriever is a different race of dog than a white or brown one. The only reason why we are regionally separate is because we separated ourselves. We drew lines. We let hate and prejudice arise. We built walls instead of bridges. The national boundaries that exist in many parts of the world were first lines in a family feud. Egypt was not a country first. It was a person. He was the son of Ham, the grandson of Noah. The same is true for Canaan. The gross sexual sins of the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah can be traced back to Ham. They just multiplied and got worse with each generation. The fighting in the Middle East that never seems to end has been going on since before David killed Goliath. The nations of Ammon and Moab that were often thorns in the side of Israel were again individuals first and family. They were the sons of Lot, the nephews of Abraham.



All this to say that God loves us all. We are one large family. A family He has watched grow and split and fight and split again. The promises here are that not only will there be peace between lions and lambs and snakes and children. There will be peace among the nations. Family feuds will be no more. Never again will a son never speak to his father or a brother rise up against his brother. No world wars. No cold wars. No nuclear threats. No fighting at all. Just as God swiftly and completely freed Israel from Egyptian tyranny, so will this planet be freed from Satan's tyranny once for all. What a day, glorious day, that will be. 





Isaiah Day 43 - Did He Change?



12:1   And in that day you will say:

“O Lord, I will praise You;

Though You were angry with me,

Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.


Behold, God is my salvation,

I will trust and not be afraid;

‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;

He also has become my salvation.’”


Therefore with joy you will draw water

From the wells of salvation.

4 And in that day you will say:

“Praise the Lord, call upon His name;

Declare His deeds among the peoples,

Make mention that His name is exalted.


Sing to the Lord,

For He has done excellent things;

This is known in all the earth.


Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion,

For great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!”



There is this theme in the Old Testament of God and His anger issues. If you weren't paying attention it almost seems like He is bipolar and I don't use that mental health reference flippantly. One moment He is angry and destroying everything and the next peace and restoration and everyone is singing His praises. However even the most casual observation says that can't be right. No one is going to praise someone and sing to them just because their temper tantrum has ended for a while. Anyone who has irrational bursts of anger doesn't receive praise. 



Trace the theme of God's anger or wrath through the Bible and you will find the same consistent theme as we have encountered here in Isaiah. God gets "angry" when people are mistreating other people. When it happens He intervenes but not with thunder bolts. First He appeals to us to change. He warns us of the consequences that will occur if we don't but those consequences are entirely or nearly entirely cause and effect. When it isn't cause and effect it is God proactively withdrawing His protection so we feel/experience life as we made it to be. Ahaz the king made the deal when the king of Assyria. He sold himself and Judah into servitude. God didn't do that. It wasn't a Holy fit of anger that caused any of it. God was seen by them as angry because He didn't stop it. He didn't deliver them. He didn't subsidize their evil choices.



The reason they sang after and the reason we will sing when all this is over is because we will be in awe, not of His anger ended, but His amazing mercy to see us through it all, inspite of how many bad choices we made along the way. 



You hopefully remember that Isaiah's name means 'Yahweh is salvation' and that's the essence of the song. The word salvation can also be translated as healing. Yahweh is healing. 



The Bible says in Revelation that the leaves on the tree of life are for the healing of the nations. That is all He wants. He wants us healthy and happy. He wants us making good choices freely. He wants us to find joy in bringing joy to others. He wants our fear to be gone and our need to save/protect/advance ourselves at the cost of others to melt away. For those who desire and choose this kind of healing that day is coming and when it does we will sing this song. We will be forever grateful that God chose mercy over revenge, that He chose healing over destruction. He always does because He is love. 





Isaiah Day 44 - Two Stories



13:1 The burden against Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.


“Lift up a banner on the high mountain,

Raise your voice to them;

Wave your hand, that they may enter the gates of the nobles.


I have commanded My sanctified ones;

I have also called My mighty ones for My anger—

Those who rejoice in My exaltation.”


The noise of a multitude in the mountains,

Like that of many people!

A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together!

The Lord of hosts musters

The army for battle.


They come from a far country,

From the end of heaven—

The Lord and His weapons of indignation,

To destroy the whole land.


Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand!

It will come as destruction from the Almighty.


Therefore all hands will be limp,

Every man’s heart will melt,


And they will be afraid.

Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them;

They will be in pain as a woman in childbirth;

They will be amazed at one another;

Their faces will be like flames.


Behold, the day of the Lord comes,

Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger,

To lay the land desolate;

And He will destroy its sinners from it.

10 

For the stars of heaven and their constellations

Will not give their light;

The sun will be darkened in its going forth,

And the moon will not cause its light to shine.

11 

“I will punish the world for its evil,

And the wicked for their iniquity;

I will halt the arrogance of the proud,

And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.

12 

I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold,

A man more than the golden wedge of Ophir.

13 

Therefore I will shake the heavens,

And the earth will move out of her place,

In the wrath of the Lord of hosts

And in the day of His fierce anger.

14 

It shall be as the hunted gazelle,

And as a sheep that no man takes up;

Every man will turn to his own people,

And everyone will flee to his own land.

15 

Everyone who is found will be thrust through,

And everyone who is captured will fall by the sword.

16 

Their children also will be dashed to pieces before their eyes;

Their houses will be plundered

And their wives ravished.

17 

“Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them,

Who will not regard silver;

And as for gold, they will not delight in it.

18 

Also their bows will dash the young men to pieces,

And they will have no pity on the fruit of the womb;

Their eye will not spare children.

19 

And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,

The beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride,

Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

20 

It will never be inhabited,

Nor will it be settled from generation to generation;

Nor will the Arabian pitch tents there,

Nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there.

21 

But wild beasts of the desert will lie there,

And their houses will be full of owls;

Ostriches will dwell there,

And wild goats will caper there.

22 

The hyenas will howl in their citadels,

And jackals in their pleasant palaces.

Her time is near to come,

And her days will not be prolonged.”



Like Matthew 24 we have interwoven here prophecies which applied directly to the time and circumstances of Isaiah, Judah, and the surrounding nations as well as the great day of the LORD which is yet to come. 



Judah will be overthrown as we have already read earlier, not because God wanted it, but because they made helping them impossible. God could no longer subsidize or protect their evil. This prophecy exposes the end of those who would destroy Judah. As we already read previously, God was not in the army or leading the attack on Judah. In His "anger" He simply was forced to withdraw His protection. However the act of those who destroyed Judah were equally evil and here in chapter 13 is portrayed both the ultimate end of all who choose evil over good and specifically the end of Babylon as a punishment for her acts against Judah (and many other nations). So here in one chapter we have incredible prophecies that history has proven accurate. 



1, Babylon did destroy Judah

2, Babylon was herself destroyed by the Medes

3, That great city, still considered one of the great wonders of history was leveled and never inhabited again. This is by far the most compelling prophecy of the three. In recent history Saddam Hussein attempted to rebuild ancient Babylon which sits inside the borders of modern day Iraq. He has a palace built next to the ruins which he never slept in. It was never completed. The ruins themselves had begun to be excavated but that too came to a sudden halt. Saddam viewed himself as the new Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty monarch who overthrew Judah and famously had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego put in the fiery furnace. 



Saddam tried to defy this ancient prophecy but he is now dead and gone and the truth of God's word stands timeless and unchangeable. 



The same question remains for us. Will we stand with Him or against Him? Do we cherish a kingdom of love, mercy, equality, peace, and harmony, or do we want a kingdom where everyone is always climbing over others to rise "higher".



Times change but the two kingdoms continue to struggle until at last only love remains. :)





Isaiah Day 45 – Are We God’s Slaves?



14 For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. The strangers will be joined with them, and they will cling to the house of Jacob. 2 Then people will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them for servants and maids in the land of the Lord; they will take them captive whose captives they were, and rule over their oppressors.



The concept of servitude is an interesting one. Before we get to that I want us to note that in spite of all Judah is about to go through she will be restored. God promised "I will still choose Israel". He said the Deliverer would come through Judah. The promise will be kept. However he immediately adds "The strangers will be joined to them". Every time God makes a promise to Israel it is enjoined with a blessing for all people. Again it is critical to understand that the only thing special about Judah above all other peoples is that Jesus is coming through that family but He is coming to bless and benefit everyone. This a truth that as you can see was there all along but Judah missed it. They saw themselves as better than and/or God's preferred people. God has no favourites. We are all His children.



That being the case, what does it mean that Judah will possess other people and rule over their oppressors? On the surface it looks like payback. It seems God is promising that the tables will turn. History does not support this view and neither does the truth about God's character and the equality of all people. So what then does it mean?



Jesus called His disciples servants. In fact there are three words used to describe our relationship to God. The first is slave. Paul called himself God's slave. A slave is owned. A slave has no rights or freedom of his own. A slave is property. The next is servant. Servant is similar in many ways to slavery but with one huge difference. A servant is free. A servant is not owned. He or she may fulfill the same tasks as a slave. To the casual observer there may seem to be no difference but the difference is as great as the east is from the west. A servant chooses to work and who they work for. A servant is paid to labour. Again Jesus called His disciples servants. They were not owned by Him. He did not force them to follow Him. He invited. They chose. Peter even admitted they had an expectation of payment: "We have left all for You. What will we get?"



The third descriptor for the relationship between us and God is friend. God called both Abraham, Moses, and David His friends. Just before Jesus laid down His life He said to His disciples "I no longer call you servants, I call you friends."



Friends are very different from servants. Friendship is a relationship. 



I had the privilege once of visiting a key stop on the underground railroad in Pennsylvania. It was the farm of a Quaker named Thomas Rudder. The main house was in the process of being turned into a museum and we were given a private tour. Harriet Tubman was an amazing woman who many see as the chief conductor of the underground railroad. She risked and dedicated her life to setting slaves free. A quote from her was hanging in one of the rooms. It read "I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they weren't free."



I understand what she meant but I'm not sure she understood what they meant. You see some slaves weren't interested in freedom. Even after the civil war was over and slave ownership was abolished many slaves chose to stay with their masters. Why? 



Let's understand something. We will never be God's equal. In eternity forward no matter how much we heal, learn, and grow we will never come close to what He is. There will always be a technical imbalance in the relationship. He is God. We are His creation. Now are we slaves, servants, or His friends? 



And what did God mean when He promised or predicted that Judah would rule her oppressors? 



We'll continue tomorrow...





Isaiah Day 46 - Slave, Servant, Friend



14 For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. The strangers will be joined with them, and they will cling to the house of Jacob. 2 Then people will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them for servants and maids in the land of the Lord; they will take them captive whose captives they were, and rule over their oppressors.



We ended yesterday with the question of whether or not we are God's slaves, His servants, or His friends? The second question we asked was what did God mean when He predicted that Judah would rule over her oppressors?  



First we can't be God's slaves. Slaves are owned, controlled, etc... Clearly even though God made us and has the right to "own" us we are not controlled by Him. We are free to do as we please. When Paul described himself as God's slave or bond-servant he meant it as by choice. Paul chose to make himself a slave of God, to go and do and be as God directed him.



That leaves two options - servants or friends. 



Which of those we are is up to us because it's clear from the words and actions of Jesus and evidence from the Old Testament that God desires to be our friend and we His friends. What prevents this? I propose to you that we prevent and what holds us back is a picture of God that is enslaving. Satan wants us to see Him that way. Religion more often than not promotes this view. God is demanding, His rules are arbitrary, and you better obey or else. 



Yet where in sacred history did or in the present day does God enslave anyone? What rules are arbitrary. When did He use fear to control and manipulate us? If He is this way He has an awful lot of uncooperative slaves running around unpunished. 



Jesus didn't demand, He invited. So compelling was His love that His disciples gave everything willingly even after He was gone. To men born and raised in a religion of cold servitude He announced "I don't call you My servants, I call you My friends."



Now can you see how Judah would rule over her oppressors? After the Babylonian captivity Judah never had another king in the line of David. They never ruled anyone. Only one King came. He did rule but never oppressed. He did conquer but never with weapons or war. 



The new Judah with a new King is a whole different kingdom. The new King travelled everywhere. He healed everywhere. He served everywhere. He loved everyone. His Kingdom is still being built. Some day it will be the only kingdom. Love will have no competition. Hate will never rise again.



Are you His servant? His friend? Or are you holding onto a dark kingdom of selfishness that has no future?





Isaiah Day 47 - Here and Beyond



14:3 It shall come to pass in the day the Lord gives you rest from your sorrow, and from your fear and the hard bondage in which you were made to serve, 4 that you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say:

“How the oppressor has ceased,

The golden city ceased!


The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked,

The scepter of the rulers;


He who struck the people in wrath with a continual stroke,

He who ruled the nations in anger,

Is persecuted and no one hinders.


The whole earth is at rest and quiet;

They break forth into singing.


Indeed the cypress trees rejoice over you,

And the cedars of Lebanon,

Saying, ‘Since you were cut down,

No woodsman has come up against us.’


“Hell from beneath is excited about you,

To meet you at your coming;

It stirs up the dead for you,

All the chief ones of the earth;

It has raised up from their thrones

All the kings of the nations.

10 

They all shall speak and say to you:

‘Have you also become as weak as we?

Have you become like us?

11 

Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,

And the sound of your stringed instruments;

The maggot is spread under you,

And worms cover you.’

The Fall of Lucifer

12 

“How you are fallen from heaven,

O Lucifer, son of the morning!

How you are cut down to the ground,

You who weakened the nations!

13 

For you have said in your heart:

‘I will ascend into heaven,

I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;

I will also sit on the mount of the congregation

On the farthest sides of the north;

14 

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,

I will be like the Most High.’

15 

Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,

To the lowest depths of the Pit.

16 

“Those who see you will gaze at you,

And consider you, saying:

‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,

Who shook kingdoms,

17 

Who made the world as a wilderness

And destroyed its cities,

Who did not open the house of his prisoners?’

18 

“All the kings of the nations,

All of them, sleep in glory,

Everyone in his own house;

19 

But you are cast out of your grave

Like an abominable branch,

Like the garment of those who are slain,

Thrust through with a sword,

Who go down to the stones of the pit,

Like a corpse trodden underfoot.

20 

You will not be joined with them in burial,

Because you have destroyed your land

And slain your people.

The brood of evildoers shall never be named.

21 

Prepare slaughter for his children

Because of the iniquity of their fathers,

Lest they rise up and possess the land,

And fill the face of the world with cities.”



There are no fixed rules for understanding people. Each is unique and as you get to really know a person you start to see things you never saw before. You pick up on things you didn't notice before. Certain looks mean something. Tone of voice is a huge clue to what they really mean. Body language communicates too. Sometimes if you ask a person if they need help they will say no but they mean yes. You can only know this if you really know them. You might ask how they are and they will say everything is ok but if you really know them you'll know if that is true or not.



Life is about interpretation. Seeing what isn't immediately obvious, hearing what isn't said, learning to understand what isn't always clearly communicated. 



The Bible is like getting to know another person. At first some of it is easy and obvious but lots of it is not. As you get more and more familiar with it you start to make connections. Sections that had no meaning to you start to come alive. You see things you never saw before. You find meaning where before there were just words. 



One of the important things we need to discover and understand about the Bible is that it often uses the immediate and familiar to teach and talk about the unknown and unfamiliar. We have seen this a couple of times in Isaiah already with prophecies that applied to Isaiah's time and to the future far beyond his time. Today is another example. God uses the future fall of the literal City and empire of Babylon to pull back the curtain on Lucifer(Satan) and his issues and eventual fall. 



Babylon was a real place and played a major role in history but in the Bible Babylon is much more. It is a metaphor or symbol for all evil systems as well as for the shadow empire of Satan. That's why even though literal Babylon that sits in ruins in the Iraqi desert will never again be anything, symbolic Babylon is alive and well. Revelation 14 predicts her doom and Revelation 18 tells all of us to come out of her before she is finally and completely destroyed.



Tomorrow we'll take a closer look, both at the history and future of Lucifer the fallen angel. In the meantime remember the Bible isn't just about the past. The past opens a window to both the unknown and the future. 



"What has been will be again. There is nothing new under the sun." Eccl. 1:9 





Isaiah Day 48 - Lucifer



14:12  “How you are fallen from heaven,

O Lucifer, son of the morning!

How you are cut down to the ground,

You who weakened the nations!

13 

For you have said in your heart:

‘I will ascend into heaven,

I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;

I will also sit on the mount of the congregation

On the farthest sides of the north;

14 

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,

I will be like the Most High.’

15 

Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,

To the lowest depths of the Pit.

16 

“Those who see you will gaze at you,

And consider you, saying:

‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,

Who shook kingdoms,

17 

Who made the world as a wilderness

And destroyed its cities,

Who did not open the house of his prisoners?’

18 

“All the kings of the nations,

All of them, sleep in glory,

Everyone in his own house;

19 

But you are cast out of your grave

Like an abominable branch,

Like the garment of those who are slain,

Thrust through with a sword,

Who go down to the stones of the pit,

Like a corpse trodden underfoot.

20 

You will not be joined with them in burial,

Because you have destroyed your land

And slain your people.

The brood of evildoers shall never be named.

21 

Prepare slaughter for his children

Because of the iniquity of their fathers,

Lest they rise up and possess the land,

And fill the face of the world with cities.”



Lucifer means bearer of light or morning star. We know from clues here and elsewhere that he was an angel. He was created by God. He was perfect. He was an exalted angel, perhaps the highest of all the angels. He was a great musician according to the book of Ezekiel. We know he fell and convinced a third of all the angels to follow him. We know he slandered God's character to accomplish it. We know some of his names including Satan which means accuser of the brethren. Devil. Great Red Dragon. Serpent. Father of lies. Jesus said he is a murderer. 



Aside from all that perhaps the most important thing to know/understand is what happened to cause his fall. Isaiah tells us right here. He wanted to be like the Most High. He had an 'I' problem. He became self-obsessed. Nothing was enough. It wasn't sufficient to be close to God. It wasn't satisfying enough to be above most, if not all, of the other angels. He had to be the top. 



Last night for a precious few minutes before bed Nathaniel and I played hockey in the yard. He lost a close game and was lamenting that he isn't as tall as me or as strong. I told him he needs to learn to maximize his strengths and minimize his weaknesses. He is what he is. Some NHL players are shorter and weaker than others. They can't change that. They have to learn to play within who they are rather than obsessing over who they aren't. Nathaniel is shorter and weaker than I am but he's younger and faster and more creative. 



I point this out to illustrate how easy it is to overlook the strengths and benefits and blessings we have and focus on the negative or wish we were something or someone else.



That's what happened to Lucifer. He let negative thoughts take over his mind. "If only I was higher, better, more adored etc..."



I have learned that happiness is a state of mind, not a set of circumstances. If we aren't happy with little we won't be happy with much either. Practice thankfulness. Embrace who God made you to be. Thoughts of who we imagine we could be or ought to be or deserve to be will only drag us down and destroy us. 



The recipe for joy is Jesus first, others second, and you last. Make a fresh batch of joy every day :)





Isaiah Day 49 - Evil Won't Continue 



14:22 

“For I will rise up against them,” says the Lord of hosts,

“And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant,

And offspring and posterity,” says the Lord.

23 

“I will also make it a possession for the porcupine,

And marshes of muddy water;

I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” says the Lord of hosts.

24 

The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying,

“Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass,

And as I have purposed, so it shall stand:

25 

That I will break the Assyrian in My land,

And on My mountains tread him underfoot.

Then his yoke shall be removed from them,

And his burden removed from their shoulders.

26 

This is the purpose that is purposed against the whole earth,

And this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations.

27 

For the Lord of hosts has purposed,

And who will annul it?

His hand is stretched out,

And who will turn it back?”

28 This is the burden which came in the year that King Ahaz died.

29 

“Do not rejoice, all you of Philistia,

Because the rod that struck you is broken;

For out of the serpent’s roots will come forth a viper,

And its offspring will be a fiery flying serpent.

30 

The firstborn of the poor will feed,

And the needy will lie down in safety;

I will kill your roots with famine,

And it will slay your remnant.

31 

Wail, O gate! Cry, O city!

All you of Philistia are dissolved;

For smoke will come from the north,

And no one will be alone in his appointed times.”

32 

What will they answer the messengers of the nation?

That the Lord has founded Zion,

And the poor of His people shall take refuge in it.



I have to come right out and say I don't enjoy these verses. My instinct is to skip over them. However it is God's Word so there is truth, importance, and treasure in it. This is what I got this morning from reading these dark passages of the destruction of Babylon, Assyria, and Philistia:



Evil will be dealt with and never return. 



One of the great accusations against God that I have heard over and over J's why He allows such evil, injustice, and suffering. This past week I was leading a group Bible study and a young woman in the group blurted out "Why didn't God just kill Satan in the beginning? Good question. A great question actually. It seems like it would have solved all this mess before it ever got started. 



I turned to her and then gestured to everyone else in the room and said "What if I told you that someone in this room is pure evil and if I don't kill them tonight we will all live to regret it. What would you think of me?" Immediately she got it. 



God's kingdom is built on love and the key pillar or at least one of the key pillars of love is trust. For trust to be restored and love to reign again over the universe Satan had to be permitted to demonstrate the real truth behind his fancy lies. He had so much influence. So many angels trusted him and would have never believed where his leadership was headed. Now the angels know and the earth is figuring it out. When we have fully learned our lesson and are ready to trust God no matter what, the reign of Satan will end and when it does sin and evil will be gone forever. No Babylon, no Assyria, no Philistia, no hunger, no anger, no tears, no disease, no anything of the sort.



"They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain." – God





Isaiah Day 50 - A Common Thread



15 The burden against Moab.

Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste

And destroyed,

Because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste

And destroyed,


He has gone up to the temple and Dibon,

To the high places to weep.

Moab will wail over Nebo and over Medeba;

On all their heads will be baldness,

And every beard cut off.


In their streets they will clothe themselves with sackcloth;

On the tops of their houses

And in their streets

Everyone will wail, weeping bitterly.


Heshbon and Elealeh will cry out,

Their voice shall be heard as far as Jahaz;

Therefore the armed soldiers of Moab will cry out;

His life will be burdensome to him.


“My heart will cry out for Moab;

His fugitives shall flee to Zoar,

Like a three-year-old heifer.

For by the Ascent of Luhith

They will go up with weeping;

For in the way of Horonaim

They will raise up a cry of destruction,


For the waters of Nimrim will be desolate,

For the green grass has withered away;

The grass fails, there is nothing green.


Therefore the abundance they have gained,

And what they have laid up,

They will carry away to the Brook of the Willows.


For the cry has gone all around the borders of Moab,

Its wailing to Eglaim

And its wailing to Beer Elim.


For the waters of Dimon will be full of blood;

Because I will bring more upon Dimon,

Lions upon him who escapes from Moab,

And on the remnant of the land.”



Yesterday it was Babylon, Assyria, and Philistia. Today it is Moab. Tomorrow we'll read even more about Moab. All of them have something in common. They have been a consistent thorn in the side of Judah. Going back to David and Goliath and beyond these nations have harassed Judah. If that were the only problem it would seem to be a case of national favouritism. However it's much more than that. I could bore you with a history from each nation but let's make it simple. They are all family. Their historical roots are the same. Moab was the son of Lot, the nephew of Abraham and the nation is his descendants. That these nations harassed Judah was not just a military or political issue. It was all rooted in rebellion against God. Just as Cain killed Abel for no other reason than to attempt to silence his own rebellious conscience, so too have these nations come against Judah in an attempt to expel God from their midst. They had turned their backs on God and had become puppets for Lucifer. Instruments in his hand to work against any who served the One True God. 



These prophecies in Isaiah applied locally but are also pointing to a much larger Story. The day will come when Satan and any who are His will be no more. There will be no remnant to recover and rise up again. As the Bible boldly declares "sin will not rise up a second time". God is being so patient and so thorough that no one will ever be tempted by "the knowledge of evil" again. As my favourite author puts it: "One pulse of harmony will beat throughout the vast creation".



:) 





Isaiah Day 51 - Send the Lamb



Send the lamb to the ruler of the land,

From Sela to the wilderness,

To the mount of the daughter of Zion.


For it (the lamb) shall be as a wandering bird thrown out of the nest...



Chapter 15 was all about the fate of Moab. Chapter 16 continues the same way except for this one and a half verse "interruption".



If you wonder why Moab gets such a bad rap worse than Babylon and Assyria there is a reason. Moab was more closely related to Judah. Moab knew God more than they did. When they were travelling from Egypt to the Promised Land they had to pass by Moab. Moab had the opportunity to help them. The Bible says they knew all about them. They knew what God had done for them. However instead of helping them the king of Moab hired Balaam, a prophet of God, to come and curse them. The king knew what was the right thing to do but he did the opposite. He could have chosen the Lord's side and His people but instead he set himself against them. 



So what is this verse about a lamb sent to the ruler of the people? A lamb who would be like a bird cast from the nest? 



Jesus said the Scriptures are about Him and indeed they are. Sometimes obvious, other times very subtle but He's always there. He the Lamb. He was sent the ruler of the people at the beginning of His life here (King Herod) and Herod set himself against Jesus, even attempting to take His life. Jesus was like a bird thrown from it's nest. He never had a house, never had a place to lay His own head that belonged to Him. 



At the end of His life He was again sent to the rulers of the people. Again He was rejected, Pilate even going so far as to publicly wash his hands of Him. 



Jesus comes to all of us. Some embrace Him, others reject Him. Our fate is our choice, not His. He is long-suffering and not willing that any should perish that's why He misses no one. Even in the midst of this dark message to Moab, the lamb came...





Isaiah Day 52 - God Is So Much Better Than Good



16:1 Send the lamb to the ruler of the land,

From Sela to the wilderness,

To the mount of the daughter of Zion.


For it shall be as a wandering bird thrown out of the nest;

So shall be the daughters of Moab at the fords of the Arnon.


“Take counsel, execute judgment;

Make your shadow like the night in the middle of the day;

Hide the outcasts,

Do not betray him who escapes.


Let My outcasts dwell with you, O Moab;

Be a shelter to them from the face of the spoiler.

For the extortioner is at an end,

Devastation ceases,

The oppressors are consumed out of the land.


In mercy the throne will be established;

And One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David,

Judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.”


We have heard of the pride of Moab—

He is very proud—

Of his haughtiness and his pride and his wrath;

But his lies shall not be so.


Therefore Moab shall wail for Moab;

Everyone shall wail.

For the foundations of Kir Hareseth you shall mourn;

Surely they are stricken.


For the fields of Heshbon languish,

And the vine of Sibmah;

The lords of the nations have broken down its choice plants,

Which have reached to Jazer

And wandered through the wilderness.

Her branches are stretched out,

They are gone over the sea.


Therefore I will bewail the vine of Sibmah,

With the weeping of Jazer;

I will drench you with my tears,

O Heshbon and Elealeh;

For battle cries have fallen

Over your summer fruits and your harvest.

10 

Gladness is taken away,

And joy from the plentiful field;

In the vineyards there will be no singing,

Nor will there be shouting;

No treaders will tread out wine in the presses;

I have made their shouting cease.

11 

Therefore my heart shall resound like a harp for Moab,

And my inner being for Kir Heres.

12 

And it shall come to pass,

When it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place,

That he will come to his sanctuary to pray;

But he will not prevail.

13 This is the word which the Lord has spoken concerning Moab since that time. 14 But now the Lord has spoken, saying, “Within three years, as the years of a hired man, the glory of Moab will be despised with all that great multitude, and the remnant will be very small and feeble.



Did you catch it? I know it isn't easy smooth reading but did you see it? God is talking to Moab. Moab was south of Judah. Judah was being oppressed both from within and from enemies to the north. The Assyrians were in the north. Babylon further north and east. Those fleeing from Judah would have to go south. They would have to go to or through Moab. 

Even though the instruction to send the lamb to the ruler is a call to share the compassion and mercy of God with him and was a foreshadowing of Jesus there is a local application for the time of Isaiah. Judah is also figuratively the lamb. God is the Good Shepherd and we are His sheep. Judah was being sent by circumstance and necessity south into the hands of the Moabites. That's a problem. They are enemies. 



Note God's message to Moab. 



4 Let My outcasts dwell with you, O Moab;

Be a shelter to them from the face of the spoiler.

For the extortioner is at an end,

Devastation ceases,

The oppressors are consumed out of the land.



God is asking Moab to receive and protect the outcasts from Judah. Isn't the theme of Isaiah so clear?!?! There are humans who exploit humans and God sees it. He knows. The point comes when the oppressor is past the hope of reform and when that point comes (and only He knows when that is), God turns the tables. He takes the power from the unjust. He sets the captives free. 



Notice the promise to Moab. The extortioners are at an end and the oppressors are consumed. It is safe to bring the remnant of Judah because those coming are the oppressed not the oppressors. They are the outcasts, not the extortioners.



God has people in Moab who hear His voice. He has people in fallen Judah who hear His voice. He talks to everyone. He watches over us all. There are no borders in His kingdom. We made those. God only draws one line and it is between love and hate. 



The question God is asking me to consider this morning is "Am I a safe place? When outcasts are fleeing, when the weak are stumbling from the clutches of their oppressors am I a person they can find refuge in? Are my doors truly open? If God sends His lambs to me will I care for them as He would? Even my perceived enemies? Even those coming from a place I never go and don't understand? 





Isaiah Day 53 - Hopeless Hope



16:12    And it shall come to pass,

When it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place,

That he will come to his sanctuary to pray;

But he will not prevail.

13 This is the word which the Lord has spoken concerning Moab since that time. 14 But now the Lord has spoken, saying, “Within three years, as the years of a hired man, the glory of Moab will be despised with all that great multitude, and the remnant will be very small and feeble.”



Here at the end of the counsel and warnings to Moab God paints a picture of what will happen to their spiritual lives. All through the Old Testament there are references to high places. Pagan temples were often built in a tower formation. The thinking was that going to a high place brought them closer to the gods. God condemned this practice. We don't need to climb to find God. He has promised to always be with us wherever we are. 



There is actually a well-known Psalm that is misunderstood. It states "I will look to the hills, where does my help come from? It comes from the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth." David is not saying he seeks God from the hills or high places. Rather he is saying he looks at the high places where Baal, Asherah, Molech, and various other pagan gods are worshipped and he asks "Where does my help come from?" and then answers his own question "My help comes from the LORD, the Creator of Heaven and earth." He is not a distant God. He made the mountains yes, but He made the valleys too and He is accessible everywhere. 



So what is God saying here about Moab and what does it have to do with us? Moab has high places. When the king of Moab paid Balaam to curse Israel/Judah he took Balaam to a series of high places to do it. However there are no others gods. Baal is a human idea. So is Asherah, Molech, Marduk, and all the rest of them. Elijah was being gracious when he organized the contest with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. It was a high place. He didn't want them to have any excuses for why Baal didn't hear them. He met them "on their turf" as it were but in the end they grew weary trying to get the attention of a non existent god. That's what God is saying here in Isaiah. As Moab falls apart they will go to their high places and even to their sanctuary to pray and seek the help of their gods but nothing will happen. 



If I am seeking peace, comfort, security, safety, protection, blessings or anything else from a source other than my Creator, my prayers will come to nothing. There is nothing more hopeless than to place my hope in something that is actually nothing.  





Isaiah Day 54 – “I Will Repay” says the LORD



17 The burden against Damascus.

“Behold, Damascus will cease frombeing a city,

And it will be a ruinous heap.


The cities of Aroer are forsaken;

They will be for flocks

Which lie down, and no one will make them afraid.


The fortress also will cease from Ephraim,

The kingdom from Damascus,

And the remnant of Syria;

They will be as the glory of the children of Israel,”

Says the Lord of hosts.


“In that day it shall come to pass

That the glory of Jacob will wane,

And the fatness of his flesh grow lean.


It shall be as when the harvester gathers the grain,

And reaps the heads with his arm;

It shall be as he who gathers heads of grain

In the Valley of Rephaim.


Yet gleaning grapes will be left in it,

Like the shaking of an olive tree,

Two or three olives at the top of the uppermost bough,

Four or five in its most fruitful branches,”

Says the Lord God of Israel.


In that day a man will look to his Maker,

And his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel.


He will not look to the altars,

The work of his hands;

He will not respect what his fingers have made,

Nor the wooden images nor the incense altars.


In that day his strong cities will be as a forsaken bough

And an uppermost branch,

Which they left because of the children of Israel;

And there will be desolation.

10 

Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation,

And have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold,

Therefore you will plant pleasant plants

And set out foreign seedlings;

11 

In the day you will make your plant to grow,

And in the morning you will make your seed to flourish;

But the harvest will be a heap of ruins

In the day of grief and desperate sorrow.

12 

Woe to the multitude of many people

Who make a noise like the roar of the seas,

And to the rushing of nations

That make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!

13 

The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters;

But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away,

And be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind,

Like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.

14 

Then behold, at eventide, trouble!

And before the morning, he is no more.

This is the portion of those who plunder us,

And the lot of those who rob us.



Bear with me for a bit of history and them we'll see what any of this has to do with us. 



Under Moses all the way to king Solomon the nation of Israel was united. Judah was only a tribe within the nation of Israel, one of twelve. When Solomon's son became king there was a showdown over taxation that split the nation. Ten tribes in the north started their own kingdom known as Israel while Judah and Benjamin in the south became known as the kingdom of Judah. 



The prophet Isaiah is mainly addressing Judah and predicting their fall but in recent chapters has been predicting the fall of all the enemies of Judah as well. Israel (the ten tribes in the north) and Syria have become allies and enemies of Judah. Sad to think that Ephraim was the home of Joshua and for centuries was regarded as the spiritual heartbeat of the nation. Now Ephraim is an enemy of Judah working with the Syrians. 



Now let's apply this:



If Judah is so bad, so corrupt within, so unjust and utterly lacking compassion for her own widows, orphans, etc... why is God being so hard on her enemies? Why is He going to permit the destruction of any nation that messes with Judah? 



My brother is older than I am by a couple of years. We used to fight all the time. I remember my mom threatening to put us in a room until only one of us was left alive. I also remember my brother getting in a fight on the playground at school. For the first bit I just watched. I was a lot smaller at that point. What was I going to do? Then I saw blood on my brother's face and that was it. I leaped on the back of my brother's "enemy" and did what I could to take him down. I was allowed to beat on my brother but nobody else was.



There is a verse in the Bible that says "'Vengeance is mine, I will repay' says the LORD."



Yes Judah was in bad shape. Yes she was way out of line, yes she needed a "time out". However none of that gave permission to other nations to run roughshod over her. Two wrongs do not make a right. Sometimes we see others doing wrong. Their issues are obvious. Sometimes we jump in to "straighten them out". 



Correction is God's job. The holes in the characters of others are His to deal with. When we take over the role of God and start policing our fellow man God has a message for us. It is the same message we find here for Syria and Israel. 



"This is the lot of those who plundered us..."



Let God deal with the faults of others. Jesus said "In the same way you judge, you will be judged." 





Isaiah Day 55 - Still Digging



Today is very different. I'm left with no answers and lots of questions. I have been looking at some commentaries and they didn't agree with each other. Lots of speculation. Nothing firm. Some contradictory. What they did all have in common is that none of them saw what I saw but I need to do some more digging before I share what I think I see. 



For now I leave you with what it is I am pondering:



18:1 Woe to the land shadowed with buzzing wings,

Which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,


Which sends ambassadors by sea,

Even in vessels of reed on the waters, saying,

“Go, swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth of skin,

To a people terrible from their beginning onward,

A nation powerful and treading down,

Whose land the rivers divide.”


All inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the earth:

When he lifts up a banner on the mountains, you see it;

And when he blows a trumpet, you hear it.


For so the Lord said to me,

“I will take My rest,

And I will look from My dwelling place

Like clear heat in sunshine,

Like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”


For before the harvest, when the bud is perfect

And the sour grape is ripening in the flower,

He will both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks

And take away and cut down the branches.


They will be left together for the mountain birds of prey

And for the beasts of the earth;

The birds of prey will summer on them,

And all the beasts of the earth will winter on them.


In that time a present will be brought to the Lord of hosts

From a people tall and smooth of skin,

And from a people terrible from their beginning onward,

A nation powerful and treading down,

Whose land the rivers divide—

To the place of the name of the Lord of hosts,

To Mount Zion.

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