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

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Isaiah Days 68 to 77

Isaiah Day 68 - The End

24:1 Behold, the Lord makes the earth empty and makes it waste,
Distorts its surface
And scatters abroad its inhabitants.
2 And it shall be:
As with the people, so with the priest;
As with the servant, so with his master;
As with the maid, so with her mistress;
As with the buyer, so with the seller;
As with the lender, so with the borrower;
As with the creditor, so with the debtor.
3 The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered,
For the Lord has spoken this word.

4 The earth mourns and fades away,
The world languishes and fades away;
The haughty people of the earth languish.
5 The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants,
Because they have transgressed the laws,
Changed the ordinance,
Broken the everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore the curse has devoured the earth,
And those who dwell in it are desolate.
Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left.

7 The new wine fails, the vine languishes,
All the merry-hearted sigh.
8 The mirth of the tambourine ceases,
The noise of the jubilant ends,
The joy of the harp ceases.
9 They shall not drink wine with a song;
Strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.
10 The city of confusion is broken down;
Every house is shut up, so that none may go in.
11 There is a cry for wine in the streets,
All joy is darkened,
The mirth of the land is gone.
12 In the city desolation is left,
And the gate is stricken with destruction.
13 When it shall be thus in the midst of the land among the people,
It shall be like the shaking of an olive tree,
Like the gleaning of grapes when the vintage is done.

14 They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing;
For the majesty of the Lord
They shall cry aloud from the sea.
15 Therefore glorify the Lord in the dawning light,
The name of the Lord God of Israel in the coastlands of the sea.
16 From the ends of the earth we have heard songs:
“Glory to the righteous!”
But I said, “I am ruined, ruined!
Woe to me!
The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously,
Indeed, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.”

17 Fear and the pit and the snare
Are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth.
18 And it shall be
That he who flees from the noise of the fear
Shall fall into the pit,
And he who comes up from the midst of the pit
Shall be caught in the snare;
For the windows from on high are open,
And the foundations of the earth are shaken.

19 The earth is violently broken,
The earth is split open,
The earth is shaken exceedingly.
20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard,
And shall totter like a hut;
Its transgression shall be heavy upon it,
And it will fall, and not rise again.

21 It shall come to pass in that day
That the Lord will punish on high the host of exalted ones,
And on the earth the kings of the earth.
22 They will be gathered together,
As prisoners are gathered in the pit,
And will be shut up in the prison;
After many days they will be punished.
23 Then the moon will be disgraced
And the sun ashamed;
For the Lord of hosts will reign
On Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
And before His elders, gloriously.

We've read about the destruction of each significant nation one by one and now it's come to final portrait of the end of the entire earth. Is there good news here? It doesn't seem like it.

First let me say that as much as I love good news (and we will find some), there is definitely a heaven to gain and a hell to escape. There are two very different kingdoms at war and good and right will triumph. Love will win. Sadly and by necessity the path to get there will be the darkest we have yet seen. The prophet Daniel describes it as a time of trouble such as never has been.

The question is why? Why can't God just fix it? Why can't He find a better way, an easier way? One of the key pillars of love is freedom. Love can't exist without it. Prior to Satan's rebellion God's kingdom was in perfect harmony and none of it was by force or the rule of law. It was all by free choice. God will restore His kingdom. He is doing it right now. It's been going on for a long time already and signs indicate the struggle is nearing the end. For the war to be over and love to win, everyone must come to the realization within themselves of the stark contrast between the two kingdoms and which one they belong to.

God is patiently and painfully waiting for the day to come. When it does every knee will bow, even Satan himself, and acknowledge that God was true, just, loving, and merciful from the very start.

That right there is the good news. This war will end. Another child will never be harmed. Never again will a life be snuffed out by an earthquake. Violence will cease. Abuse of any kind will never be seen or heard of again. They will not hurt nor destroy in all His holy mountain.

One last point. In the midst of chapter 24 we saw a portrait of people trying to flee the chaos and destruction. Those who try to escape the fear will end up in a pit. Those who escape the pit will end up in a snare. What does that mean? It means there are no answers here. We cannot save ourselves from what is coming. There is no third alternative. We are either His or we are from the kingdom of darkness where self is the king. Self-obsession destroyed Satan and it will destroy all others who worship at the altar of "I". Selfishness destroys. Love brings life and joy and peace.

God is not trying to scare us Home. He is not interested in servitude motivated by fear for love can't exist there. He only tells the whole truth because that is what love does. Just remember what we already saw. For those of us who choose the darkness, God will weep bitterly at our self-inflicted demise and will not be comforted. There is not an ounce of "I told you so" in Him. Only the deepest pain for children He must release to their own choices.

Not one of us need be among them. He is long-suffering, not willing that even one should perish. We have a Father. He loves us beyond our ability to describe or comprehend it. Good news indeed. 

Isaiah Day 69 - Good News!

25:1  O Lord, You are my God.
I will exalt You,
I will praise Your name,
For You have done wonderful things;
Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
2 For You have made a city a ruin,
A fortified city a ruin,
A palace of foreigners to be a city no more;
It will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore the strong people will glorify You;
The city of the terrible nations will fear You.
4 For You have been a strength to the poor,
A strength to the needy in his distress,
A refuge from the storm,
A shade from the heat;
For the blast of the terrible ones isas a storm against the wall.
5 You will reduce the noise of aliens,
As heat in a dry place;
As heat in the shadow of a cloud,
The song of the terrible ones will be diminished.

6 And in this mountain
The Lord of hosts will make for all people
A feast of choice pieces,
A feast of wines on the lees,
Of fat things full of marrow,
Of well-refined wines on the lees.
7 And He will destroy on this mountain
The surface of the covering cast over all people,
And the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;
The rebuke of His people
He will take away from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken.

Have you been waiting for some better news from Isaiah? Here it is. What I particularly want us to see is that chapter 25 resolves the issues that were highlighted in chapter one and onward. The poor, the needy, the marginalized, the exploited, the abused, the downtrodden will be rescued.

This morning someone sent me an article highlighting the massive child pornography bust that occurred in Toronto in 2013. 368 children were rescued. To our horror most of the adults involved in these unspeakable crimes were school teachers, doctors, nurses, priests, pastors, and even law enforcement personnel. It is a stark reminder of how the strong misuse their position and power to do horrific things to the weakest among us. It may seem like God takes no notice but He does. Every secret thing will be laid bare the Bible says. There will be a day or reckoning for the oppressors and a day or glorious rescue for the oppressed. 

Justice is coming. Deliverance is coming. Righteousness is coming. The Kingdom that Adam and Eve handed to Satan will be forever rescued and restored. One pulse of harmony will beat throughout His vast creation. They will never again hurt nor destroy in all His holy mountain. :)

Isaiah Day 70 - Yes!

25:9  And it will be said in that day:
“Behold, this is our God;
We have waited for Him, and He will save us.
This is the Lord;
We have waited for Him;
We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”

Can you picture this moment? Do you spend time thinking about it? Do you look up at the sky and envision it rolling open like a scroll with a small brilliant cloud approaching through the opening? That moment will come and this verse describes the reaction of those who have been waiting and longing for it. It is one of my favourite verses in the whole Bible.

What I am going to say now is not meant to be a downer. I just need to give the moment described here some context.

Here in Isaiah we have been plowing through some dark chapters leading up to this one. Nation after nation has fallen and/or been destroyed. Some have been running from nation to nation looking for help or refuge only to see that nation fall too. Then suddenly everything changed. A Rescuer came. Restoration began. Oppressors and evil were no more. The darkness turned to day. Everything was flipped upside down or more correctly right side up.

There is a theme in the Bible that has inspired more than one song writer. It even gave birth to this oft repeated quote which is believed to come from Thomas Fuller: "It's the darkest just before dawn." The theme is a simple one. We are living in the night but morning is coming. That's why Paul wrote that we who are followers of Jesus are children of the day, not of the night. Hebrews reminds us that we are pilgrims and strangers here. We are looking for a city with foundations whose builder and maker is God.

Morning is coming but before we can get to the morning we must pass through the blackest part of the night. We saw it in the previous chapters of Isaiah but we haven't lived it yet. Not in reality. What we are seeing now in the rising racial tensions, in the upheavals of nature, in the increasing angst between the nations is the beginning of the darkest part of the night. We must never forget that morning is coming but we must also never forget that getting to that morning requires patient endurance for those looking for the dawn. Jesus will come but He is long-suffering. The night will feel as though it will never end. My favourite author describes it as all of our senses will tell us God has forgotten us and morning will never come.

But it will and He will come. Those who were prepared for the delay, who clung to Him, who never gave up hope in our God who keeps all His promises will look up and proclaim "This is our God! We have waited for Him and He will save us!!!"

Isaiah Day 71 - There Will Be A Resolution

26 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

“We have a strong city;
God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks.
2 Open the gates,
That the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in.
3 You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
4 Trust in the Lord forever,
For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.
5 For He brings down those who dwell on high,
The lofty city;
He lays it low,
He lays it low to the ground,
He brings it down to the dust.
6 The foot shall tread it down—
The feet of the poor
And the steps of the needy.”

7 The way of the just is uprightness;
O Most Upright,
You weigh the path of the just.
8 Yes, in the way of Your judgments,
O Lord, we have waited for You;
The desire of our soul is for Your name
And for the remembrance of You.
9 With my soul I have desired You in the night,
Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early;
For when Your judgments are in the earth,
The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
10 Let grace be shown to the wicked,
Yet he will not learn righteousness;
In the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly,
And will not behold the majesty of the Lord.
11 Lord, when Your hand is lifted up, they will not see.
But they will see and be ashamed
For their envy of people;
Yes, the fire of Your enemies shall devour them.

12 Lord, You will establish peace for us,
For You have also done all our works in us.
13 O Lord our God, masters besides You
Have had dominion over us;
But by You only we make mention of Your name.
14 They are dead, they will not live;
They are deceased, they will not rise.
Therefore You have punished and destroyed them,
And made all their memory to perish.
15 You have increased the nation, O Lord,
You have increased the nation;
You are glorified;
You have expanded all the borders of the land.

16 Lord, in trouble they have visited You,
They poured out a prayer when Your chastening was upon them.
17 As a woman with child
Is in pain and cries out in her pangs,
When she draws near the time of her delivery,
So have we been in Your sight, O Lord.
18 We have been with child, we have been in pain;
We have, as it were, brought forth wind;
We have not accomplished any deliverance in the earth,
Nor have the inhabitants of the world fallen.

19 Your dead shall live;
Together with my dead body they shall arise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust;
For your dew is like the dew of herbs,
And the earth shall cast out the dead.

20 Come, my people, enter your chambers,
And shut your doors behind you;
Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment,
Until the indignation is past.
21 For behold, the Lord comes out of His place
To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;
The earth will also disclose her blood,
And will no more cover her slain.

Two great complaints against God are legitimate but contradictory. The first is that if God is all powerful and loving Theresa shouldn't be all the suffering that there is in the world. He should be able to fix it, stop it, etc... The second complaint is that the Bible paints a picture of a tyrant God who committed genocide etc...

The book of Isaiah answers both these complaints. First there is a solution coming.  Injustice and oppression will not go on unchecked forever. In fact He has countered it several times in history on a smaller scale but eventually He will deal with it on global scale and it will never return.

Secondly it isn't true that God favours one nation over another or commits genocide. Isaiah contains laments against all the nations and specifically against Judah. Why? Not because they belong to any particular nation. In fact He always promises a remnant. He wasn't withdrawing His protection based on national lines. He was refusing to continue to subsidize sin and rebellion.

Notice verse 3. God will keep in perfect peace anyone whose mind is stayed on God because He trusts in Him. What that verse is really saying is that despite all the dark prophecies we have nothing to fear if we are in harmony with God. The coming judgements are to finally bring an end to sin. If anyone is destroyed it is simply because they chose evil over good.

If you think God is bad because He won't deal with evil and is bad when He does you aren't thinking straight. You can't have it both ways. Evil persists because He is merciful and patient and unwilling for even one person to die but when waiting longer won't change anyone He will bring this war between light and darkness to an end.

Choose you this day Whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we choose the One who demonstrated His love on a hill called Calvary.

Isaiah Day 72 - Can You Relate to This?

26:8 O Lord, we have waited for You;
The desire of our soul is for Your name
And for the remembrance of You.
9 With my soul I have desired You in the night,
Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early...

Can we say this is our experience? Will we stand and proclaim "This is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us!" on the day He returns?

Yesterday if you weren't at the community Hall in Rycroft Alberta you missed out. You really did. I haven't wept while someone preached in years. I can't share it all here but we discovered the great problem of the Bible Story is that God is separated from us and doesn't want to be. Everything He has been doing since Genesis 3 is to get rid of that unwanted separation. When He sent Jesus, His Son, He was welcomed by few and hated by many. Those who hated Him most were those who should have been proclaiming "This is our God, we have waited for Him and He will save us."

Instead they cried out "Crucify Him, crucify Him!!"

A poor grief stricken mother in Tyre knew Him and embraced Him. So did a Roman centurion and many others who one would never expect.

But what about you and I? Can we truthfully say: "O Lord, we have waited for You;
The desire of our soul is for Your name
And for the remembrance of You.
9 With my soul I have desired You in the night,
Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early."

Why did I weep yesterday as the truth of the Story was held up so plainly for all to see? I wept at His staggering love. I wept at how we have treated Him and misrepresented Him from almost the very start. I wept because His professed followers have often been foremost in making Him look bad. I wept because in spite of all this He kept going. He kept healing, helping, loving. I wept because as He hung there beaten to a bloody pulp and carrying the literal weight of thousands of years of all our garbage on Himself He prayed "Father forgive them..." He said "John take care of my mom." He said to the thief who not long before had been cursing him "I'm tell you right now, you will be with Me in paradise". He looked Peter in the eye after the rooster crowed not with an "I told you so" stare, but an "I still love you" look of mercy and compassion.

May we all experience this Love that refuses to let us go unless we insist so deeply that His love must grant our freedom to reject Him.

I don't know what you will do but I will wait for Him. I will seek Him early, and I will ask Him daily to let me die rather than smear His Name.

Isaiah Day 73 - Recognize him, Resist him, but Don't Fear him #Edmonton #Vegas

Could today's passage be any more  fitting?

27:1 In that day the Lord will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent,
With His fierce and great and mighty sword,
Even Leviathan the twisted serpent;
He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea.

Isaiah was a prophet. The things he wrote about pointed forward as well as applying to his time. The issues and struggles then we're a springboard to reveal the distant future also.

What too few realize is that we live in a war zone. Every day we have unseen forces trying to draw us to their side and in this invisible war only one side fights fair. God is love and is restricted by the bounds of it by His own nature. He is the LORD and He never changes. Satan and his followers have no boundaries. They fight in any way they deem most effective. They lie. They manipulate. They play on our emotions, our lack of wisdom, our lack of perspective, and any other place their lies can get a foothold.

Satan is known as the serpent because he used one to deceive Adam and Eve from the start. Since that time the serpent has been symbolic of him - stealthy, deadly, hated.

Today we get a clear glimpse at the end of the story. Last night in Vegas Satan had a field day. Somehow he got inside the head a man so deeply that he had full control of him and we have seen the horrific result. Saturday night it was another man in Edmonton but it was the same shadowy serpent behind the scenes.

Make no mistake, there is a reason why this war must play out. Evil must be fully exposed. Look at the death of Hugh Hefner. Some mourned the death of some kind of icon. Others said good riddance to a man they deem we are better off without. Clearly we still aren't able to discern where the evil really likes but when this war is over even the serpent himself will confess that God was good and right and love from the start and never wavered once.

On that day the great serpent, symbolized as Leviathan who lives in the sea (humanity) will meet his well deserved end and peace and harmony will be finally and forever restored.

Ask for eyes that see the war, for a mind that can discern between the evil and the good, and for a heart that will keep loving as we plunge deeper and deeper into Earth's final war. Love will win. The end of the Story has already been written and victory was sealed two thousand years ago on a hill called Calvary. The serpent crusher wins. 

Isaiah Day 74 - In That Day

2 In that day,
“A vineyard of wine, sing of it!
3 “I, the Lord, am its keeper;
I water it every moment.
So that no one will damage it,
I guard it night and day.
4 “I have no wrath.
Should someone give Me briars and thorns in battle,
Then I would step on them, I would burn them completely.
5 “Or let him rely on My protection,
Let him make peace with Me,
Let him make peace with Me.”
6 In the days to come Jacob will take root,
Israel will blossom and sprout,
And they will fill the whole world with fruit.

For this passage to come alive we need to know something else. The night before He was crucified Jesus shared the Passover meal with His disciples. During that meal He took the bread and wine (juice from grapes.)
He offered the bread as a symbol of His body and the grape juice as a symbol of His blood. Then after the meal was finished He said "I will never drink this again until I drink it with you in my Father's kingdom."

Do you see the connection? Jesus is refusing to drink any grape juice until He can drink it with us, but in the meantime look at the glimpse Isaiah has given us. Jesus has a vineyard. He is caring for it everyday. He has a vision of the future. He is making everything ready. Can you imagine the moment? For the first time in over two thousand years He will put the juice to His lips. He is waiting. It's not really about the juice though. It's about His insatiable desire to be with us. That's what the Story is all about. 

So there He is, daily tending a vineyard, a vineyard that will host the greatest reunion of all time when Jesus can finally, literally, and figuratively enjoy the fruits of His labour at last.

One Book. One Story. One God. One Serpent Crusher. One incredible reunion.

Isaiah Day 75 - I Have No Wrath

27:4  “I have no wrath.
Should someone give Me briars and thorns in battle,
Then I would step on them, I would burn them completely.
5 “Or let him rely on My protection,
Let him make peace with Me,
Let him make peace with Me.”
6 In the days to come Jacob will take root,
Israel will blossom and sprout,
And they will fill the whole world with fruit.

Where is the angry God with smoke coming from His nostrils? Where is this God who supposedly stomps on anyone who steps out of line? Many people struggle to reconcile that God, often referred to as the God of the Old Testament, with Jesus. Some even feel that Jesus really loves us and has to convince His anger loving Father to not be so harsh.

Here's the problem. We are in the Old Testament. We are hearing from that God. Jesus said "the Father and I are One" and "If you have seen Me you have seen the Father". This means either Jesus is a liar or this angry God of the Old Testament doesn't exist.

Notice what God says here: "I have no wrath."

Follow the imagery. "If someone gives me thorns in battle I will step on them, I will burn them completely."

Thorns never existed on this planet until after Adam and Eve chose to doubt God and trust Satan. They are a symbol for sin. The ram that was a substitute for Isaac on Moriah was caught in a thorn bush. Jesus wore a crown of thorns to Calvary. Thorns represent sin. God's war is against sin and in that war He is not willing that any person should perish. In Jesus a way was made to eradicate sin while saving every single sinner. Note that the thorns will be burned completely. Sin will be forever dealt with. The Bible says it will never rise up a second time.

Read the language. God is asking us to put down the thorns and make peace with Him. He is promising to deal with the thorns Himself while restoring us completely.

Why are we fighting Him? Why do we lamenting the direction our world is going in and yet refuse the One who has the answers? Have you been presented with a God by your parents or your religion, or by your culture that doesn't exist? Are you avoiding Him and looking for answers everywhere else because you are convinced He is not the answer?

Look again. Taste and see that He is good. Watch Him tending His vineyard eagerly waiting for the day you come Home. He has no wrath against you. He just wants to burn away the thorns that keep hurting us.

Isaiah Day 76 - Do We Really Know How Good He Is?

27:7   Has He struck Israel as He struck those who struck him?

Or has He been slain according to the slaughter of those who were slain by Him?
8 In measure, by sending it away,
You contended with it.
He removes it by His rough wind
In the day of the east wind.
9 Therefore by this the iniquity of Jacob will be covered;
And this is all the fruit of taking away his sin:
When he makes all the stones of the altar
Like chalkstones that are beaten to dust,
Wooden images and incense altars shall not stand.
10 Yet the fortified city will bedesolate,
The habitation forsaken and left like a wilderness;
There the calf will feed, and there it will lie down
And consume its branches.
11 When its boughs are withered, they will be broken off;
The women come and set them on fire.
For it is a people of no understanding;
Therefore He who made them will not have mercy on them,
And He who formed them will show them no favor.

12 And it shall come to pass in that day
That the Lord will thresh,
From the channel of the River[c] to the Brook of Egypt;
And you will be gathered one by one,
O you children of Israel.

13 So it shall be in that day:
The great trumpet will be blown;
They will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria,
And they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt,
And shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.

Again some of the language isn't how we would tell the story but here is what I see. God is asking questions. He frames the judgment of the wicked and the mercy received by those who make peace with Him in the context of the treatment of Jesus. But where is Jesus you ask? Jesus is the real Israel. He is the promised One. He is the Seed. He is Mount Zion. He is the Lion and the Lamb. How did we treat Him. Has God treated any of humanity, either those who have sinned and turned back to Him, or those who insist on rebellion as badly as we treated His only begotten Son?

"Has He struck Israel(Jesus) as He struck those who struck him? Or has He (Jesus) been slain according to the slaughter of those who were slain by Him?"

In simple terms where was the most injustice? Who got the most mercy? If we are going to put God in trial for how He must deal with sin and sinners in the end should we not frame it in proper context? He who never did a single thing wrong came here and lived among us. He healed our sick. He lifted up the fallen. He gave hope to the hopeless. He revealed the true character of God, rather than the shadowy, angry, paganism laced picture we see through the Old Testament eyes of a people who knew Him not. He was mistreated by us. He was ridiculed by us. He was misunderstood by us and finally rejected and killed by us. No human has ever suffered such injustice, such malignity, such shamefully undeserved treatment. Are we sure we want to stand in judgment of His character, question His motives, or tell Him or others He should have done things differently?

He as one relentless purpose. He has one unwavering goal. "Who for the joy that was set before Him (having us back Home) endured the cross, despising it's shame, and is sat down at the right hand of His Father" Hebrews 12:2

The very next verse says: "3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Consider Him. Think about Him. Watch Him. Look at Him. Ponder Him. Study Him. Talk to Him. Talk to others who know Him. The world is dying inside because we have lost perspective. We have no compass. We don't know how loved we are, how far God sent His Son, how far His Son went. We wallow in self-pity, or in anger, or in pride, or in all kinds of warped thinking because we haven't considered or answered the question "Has anyone suffered more than My Son in this war with the Serpent."

God will end sin. In that destruction those who insist on clinging to sin will go down with the ship but it is not what He wants. Calvary is more than sufficient proof.

Isaiah Day 77 - This Could Be Uncomfortable...

28:1 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, (Ephraim is a reference to God's people or at least those who claim to be His people)
Whose glorious beauty is a fading flower
Which is at the head of the verdant valleys,
To those who are overcome with wine!
2 Behold, the Lord has a mighty and strong one,
Like a tempest of hail and a destroying storm,
Like a flood of mighty waters overflowing,
Who will bring them down to the earth with His hand.
3 The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim,
Will be trampled underfoot;
4 And the glorious beauty is a fading flower
Which is at the head of the verdant valley,
Like the first fruit before the summer,
Which an observer sees;
He eats it up while it is still in his hand.

5 In that day the Lord of hosts will be
For a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty
To the remnant of His people,
6 For a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment,
And for strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.

7 But they also have erred through wine,
And through intoxicating drink are out of the way;
The priest and the prophet have erred through intoxicating drink,
They are swallowed up by wine,
They are out of the way through intoxicating drink;
They err in vision, they stumble in judgment.
8 For all tables are full of vomit and filth;
No place is clean.

9 “Whom will he teach knowledge?
And whom will he make to understand the message?
Those just weaned from milk?
Those just drawn from the breasts?
10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little.”

11 For with stammering lips and another tongue
He will speak to this people,
12 To whom He said, “This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest,”
And, “This is the refreshing”;
Yet they would not hear.
13 But the word of the Lord was to them,
“Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little,”
That they might go and fall backward, and be broken and snared and caught.

14 Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scornful men,
Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem,
15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
And with Sheol we are in agreement.
When the overflowing scourge passes through,
It will not come to us,
For we have made lies our refuge,
And under falsehood we have hidden ourselves.”

This may be uncomfortable for us but truth is truth and tradition and falsehood must never stand in the way of truth. The theme of this chapter is wine and drunkenness. It follows chapter 27 where we found "God's people" swept away in judgment while many from Egypt and Assyria were rescued. Why? Because God has no favourites and He saves only the willing who desire to be rescued.

Now here in chapter 28 we are told why so many of "His people" will be lost. They chose wine and intoxicating drink over the milk of God's truth or the truth about God.

All through the Bible you will discover a theme of milk representing truth and wine representing lies, error, and deception. Even without the rest of the Bible it's plain right here in this chapter that the topic is really truth and error symbolised by milk and wine.

Here's the uncomfortable part. We (Christians) often quote from this chapter out of context. Study the writings of Ellen White and you will find she uses the double reference to "line upon line, and precept upon precept" positively in some cases but when she discusses this chapter in context it is negative. Why?

When she uses it positively she speaks of feeding people truth as they can handle it. When a baby is weaned from milk and transitions to solid food it needs to be a gentle process. There are children's stories we take from the Bible and then at some point we must gently lead them to wrestle with the entire messy story of David's life, not just the victory over Goliath or other positive high points. In that sense line upon line and precept upon precept is wise counsel.

However, in context those lines are not positive. In fact they are quite negative. Those who prefer drunkenness to truth use the Bible in this way. They take a line here and a line there, here a little, there a little and create "truth" that is appealing to them but far from the Truth. They write books that are sprinkled with Biblical references taken from here and there only to support some error which they have deceived themselves into believing is true and they want you to join them in their drunken stupor.

Without fail when someone comes to me with "new light" they have taken information from all over the place and strung it together in some haphazard way. Then they invariably quote these verses about line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, to justify what they have come up with.

The Bible is not a dart board and studying it is not throwing darts until you are pleased with the pattern. There is but One Story that runs consistently from front to back. There is but One Hero in the Story and it isn't us. The Story is for everyone no matter race, nation, language or any other divisive factor. The only ones who will never see the fulfillment of the Story and never get to drink the pure wine from His vineyard at the great reunion are those who took the Story and twisted it into something else of their own making and consumed their version for so long that they were too drunk to see or hear the real Story any more.

Start with milk if you need. Transition gently to solid food, just make sure the Story Teller is the Author and not an imposter.

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