“For the saying which he cried by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass.” 1 Kings 13:32 (KJB)
To get a better understanding of these events I would recommend reading chapters 11 – 13 of 1 Kings. Especially pay attention to the thirteenth chapter.
Because of King Solomon’s departure from the worship of GOD alone, and his love for his wives, and women, the kingdom is taken from him when his son Rehoboam is crowned king. A man by the name of Jereboam is God’s chosen king for the Northern kingdom of Israel, which is also called Samaria, Ephraim, and Israel. Samaria is made up of ten tribes, and Judah is of the tribe of Judah mostly, and Judah is faithful to the dynasty of David.
Jereboam rebels against God’s word, and sets up idols at Dan and Bethel, golden calves actually, which is actually an affront to GOD [Jehovah/YHWH].
An unnamed prophet comes on the scene while Jereboam is worshiping at Bethel, and speaks the word of the LORD. As a sign he has said that the altar will split in half, and the ashes be spilled on the ground, and it happens, seemingly under the very nose of Jereboam. He is angry at the prophet, and while pointing to the prophet to have him seized, his arm turns to mush (dries up), then the sign was fulfilled.
What is so special about this story? It is truly one of the unique stories of the Bible; and it teaches us a great lesson of faith, and hearing the word of the LORD ourselves, and testing all who claim to speak the word of the LORD.
In the above text of 1 Kings 13:32 we find the old lying prophet certain that the words of the prophet from Judah will be fulfilled. Just as that altar was split, the ashes spilled onto the ground, they were fulfilled just as the prophet said by the word of the LORD.
There are many people today looking for something sure, solid, and strong. Many are looking at other things other than to GOD and His word, and His Son. Look no further than the word of God. It is certain, sure, solid, and strong. God is faithful. He will not leave anything undone which He has spoken.
He has sent us His Son to die for us. His name if Jesus. He died on that old rugged cross, was buried, and He rose from the grave and forever lives. Because He lives those who call on His name in repentance will live eternally with Him. Call on His name.
“And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.” Revelation 5:1-4 (KJV)
In this chapter, we will be reminded of God’s warnings of coming judgment, that the wars, famines, diseases, death, cataclysmic upheavals of earth, and such that happen now are only small in comparison to what will happen when the Lion/Lamb takes the Book and looses the seals. Havoc, such as no one has ever seen will plague the earth, and it is done by the “…One to whom judgment belongs”.
As we continue this chapter, John is still in Heaven. The twenty four elders and the four living ones are gathered around the throne.
Chapter five is a continuation of chapter four. Whereas, the focus of chapter four was upon the One who was on the throne [God the Father], the focus shifts to the Lamb.
There is a book in the Father’s right hand – the side on which Jesus sits. This book is sealed. It has been sealed from the foundation of the world. It is the declaration of ownership – the “title-deed” to all the earth, and creation. It is the revelation of a Christ-denying, God-hating world that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is the “title-deed” to all that God promised Jesu before He went to the cross.
It appears in verse two that it had to be a man who would be worthy of opening the book, “and loose the seals”, but none was found. The “Loud voice” of the “Strong angel” (a prominent angel) – probably Gabriel – implies urgency, an immediate need. This reminds me of the message to Ezekiel, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” Ezekiel 22:30 (KJV).
What would happen if no one was found to open the book? This is why John wept:
1. All Old Testament prophecies of the Christ earthly reign would be voided;
2. Creation would remain under the curse of the fall;
3. The kingdom would never be restored to Israel;
4. The Bible would not be true.
No mere man is worthy to open the book the Father holds in His right hand. We are sinners, unrighteous and unholy before a righteous and holy God. Notice, that none were found who were even able “to look thereon” (v. 3).
In these verses, we also see that there is no man worthy to carry out the judgment of the following chapters. God has said throughout all of Scripture, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the LORD” (Deuteronomy 32:35; Nahum 1:2; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30). No judgment that is done for holiness or righteousness sake, can be done by sinful man. It belongs solely to Holy God. “O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.” Psalms 94:1 (KJV).
And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. Revelation 5:5-7
John’s weeping invokes one of the elders to say, “Weep not”. There is One who is worthy. The appointed One, the Anointed One. “The Lion of the tribe of Judah” – “Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Gen 49:9-10 (KJV). The lion; a symbol of royalty, of power and supremacy, “Hath prevailed to open the book”. “The root of David”, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:” Isaiah 11:1 (KJV). As Deity, He is the Root from which David came. As man, David is the root of His [Jesus’s] human genealogy, “Hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”
The “Seven seals” begin to open in chapter six; the last seal is opened in 8:1 with the beginning of the “Seven trumpets”.
Because of His position as God-man, He has authority and power to open the book. He is worthy because:
1. He is a near kinsman – He is the “Nearer Kinsman” – the God-Man;
2. He was a willing sacrifice for sin – willing to pay the price for our redemption (John 10:18);
3. He was able to pay the price.
When John turned to see the “Lion of the tribe of Judah”, instead he saw a Lamb. Where was the Lamb: He was in “The midst of the throne and of the four beasts and in the midst of the elders”. This is the position our Lord desires.
The Lord Jesus is referred to as “the Lamb” at least twenty-eight times in the Revelation. “Lamb” identifies Him as the sacrifice [God’s chosen sacrifice] for man’s sin. In verse six of our text He is mentioned as being resurrected from death; “…a Lamb as it had been slain”. This Lamb “Stood”. Dead lambs do not stand. “Had been slain” is in the past tense showing a dead lamb now living. There can be no doubt about who this is. It is Jesus the crucified, pierced, and resurrected One.
The “Seven horns” represent His perfect power. The “Seven eyes” His perfect sight to see all the affairs, thoughts and deeds of man. The “Seven Spirits” His perfect presence (John 16:7). These are all in the person of Jesus Christ, the Lamb. Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence are the theological terms used for the figures.
When the Lamb takes the book it will be the beginning of the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy of 7:13-14 and Psalm 2:8 as well as others. See Matthew 11:27 and 28:18. It is given to the Lamb of God to loose the seals of judgment upon the God-rejecting, God-hating world.
“Then came the word of the LORD unto the prophet Jeremiah, saying, ‘Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me to enquire of me; Behold, Pharaoh’s army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt into their own land. And the Chaldeans shall come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire.'” Jeremiah 37:6-8 (KJV)
There is a lot of talk about speaking “Positively”, and I like to be positive about things. The above verses do not sound very positive. Do they? If God is about to carry out His word of judgment on His people of Judah is that positive? My thought is – Yes it is.
If God’s word of judgment is fulfilled just as He says; then His words of promise, hope, life, and eternity will also be fulfilled.
What do I want for Christmas today?
I want to see the best in every situation, knowing that God is at work in me, all Christians, and the rest of the world; carrying out His will and purposes and letting the whole world know that He is the LORD.
“…Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem. This evil people, which refuse to hear My words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing. For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto Me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, says the LORD; that they might be unto Me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.” Jeremiah 13:8-11 (KJV)
Jeremiah had just been given a lesson on decay and ruin with a girdle (a sash), along side the Euphrates River, and a word from God for the people of Judah and Israel.
What do I want for Christmas today?
I want to learn from the events of life the word, and ways of God, to be obedient to His Word, hear Him, and do His will; and I want all who are God’s people through the death, burial and bodily resurrection of God the Son, the Son of God, to hear Him and do His will as well.
“For Jerusalem stumbled,
And Judah is fallen,
Because their tongue and their doings
Are against the LORD,
To provoke the eyes of His glory.
The look on their countenance witnesses against them,
And they declare their sin as Sodom;
They do not hide it.
Woe to their soul!
For they have brought evil upon themselves.” Isaiah 3:8-9 (NKJV)
This prophecy is a message directed to the city of Jerusalem in the prophets day, and the people of Judah. We can, however, see that the message would fit with the Christianity as well in the Twenty First century.
What do I want for Christmas?
Seeing that many sins, shame, and condemnation is within the lives of many who call themselves “Christian” and there is no remorse, no repentance; I want the power of the Spirit of God to come over every Christian, including myself, to make us aware of our guilt, our sins, unto repentance, and to embolden us to stand for Christ Jesus, His cross, His burial, His resurrection; and His second coming, and to tell others of His power, glory, and His glorious salvation through faith in Christ.
We have been looking at the prophecy of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a captive in Babylon when he was given this prophecy. He spoke much of the nation’s return to their homeland, but it would not take place until after a period of 70 years. In the Scripture and prophecy for today’s study we see a promise, and prophecy that they would return as not two nations divided; but as one.
“The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.” Ezekiel 37:15-19 (KJV)
The prophet does not use the name “Israel” in reference to the Northern Kingdom; but rather uses Joseph or Ephraim. The prophet Hosea refers to Ephraim rather than “Israel”.
This prophecy was only partially fulfilled with the return of the nation from captivity to their homeland. They have not had a king. When King Jesus came, they rejected Him, and crucified Him; and they paid the price for that in 70 A.D. with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, and the temple, and being scattered once again unto the four quarters of the earth.
As the Lord has renewed the nation of Israel (May 14, 1948) there are still numerous Hebrew people scattered around the world, but one day they will all be in their homeland; they will have a new temple, and they will recognize Jesus as their Messiah and King.
There is much that is going to happen between now and the time Israel will see Jesus as the Son of God; God the Son; and as their Messiah and King. Yet, because God has said it; it shall be done; it shall be done.
The point today is that you believe and receive Him as your Lord, your Saviour and your King.
Prisoners from Judah have been taken to Babylon. Jeremiah and a remnant of people have been left in Jerusalem and have been told by God through Jeremiah that they are to stay in the land and till, and tend it, and that God will bless them, protecting them, and keeping them from further harm from Babylon.
The people have asked Jeremiah to go to the LORD, and seek His direction as to what they are to do. They seem to mean by that: “Do we stay in Jerusalem, or shall we go down into Egypt?” God has told them to stay in Judah and trust Him. They have flat out rejected the word of the LORD, and said, “We are going to Egypt.” See Jeremiah 43:1-7.
“Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by My great name, saith the LORD, that My name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord GOD liveth. Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them. Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words shall stand, Mine, or theirs. And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, that ye may know that My words shall surely stand against you for evil: Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give Pharaohhophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life.” Jeremiah 44:26-30 (KJV)
After the people have arrived in Egypt God gives them a sign to show that it is His word that will stand; not theirs. That sign is that Babylon is going to come against Egypt, and the very thing that they feared will come to pass. All that refused to hear the word of the LORD, and obey will face famine, death, and pestilence.
Yet, there is a promise in these verses, “Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah…, and they shall know whose words shall stand, Mine or theirs”. That has part of the phrase that is mentioned throughout the Old Testament “They shall know…” mentioned so many times in Ezekiel’s prophecy.
Why is it so important for God’s people to know, to hear, and to do the word of God? So that we can better know Him, and live under His blessings and not His chastening, disciplining hand.
Jesus Christ is God’s living Word. When you hear Him, and follow Him you are cleansed, you are forgiven, you have eternal life through His death, burial and resurrection. His Word shall stand.
“Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.” Jeremiah 26:8 (KJV)
Jeremiah was not the only prophet of Judah or Jerusalem. There were others. There were others who were preaching the truth, just not as recognized as Jeremiah. There were also those who were popular with the people and the evil priests who were forsaking God, His word and the temple; but were ignorant of their peril.
These priests and people believed the temple was secure in God, that it would never be destroyed, and that Jerusalem would never fall. They believed that they could live any way they wanted to; going after the gods of the surrounding nations, with pagan temples, temple prostitution, and worship that caused the people to stray from God.
The prophet Jeremiah gave them the word of God, and did not hold back one word (26:2). He did it knowing it would not be popular. He preached because God called him to preach, not because momma called him. He preached because it was a fire in his heart, and he could not keep it back. He preached because he first of all loved God and His Word; secondly because he loved his people, and wanted them to be right with God; and he loved his country, and wanted the country to be delivered from its evil ways.
When a preacher preaches the word of God he will not always be popular. He will not always fill churches, or temples. He will most likely; especially when sin is running rampant around the world will be called a “Nut case”, laughed at, mocked, and even have his life threatened. Like Jeremiah, though, he will be faithful to the LORD and His Word.
Preacher, if God called you; and not your momma; not your career; but God called you, then you have one obligation, and that is to proclaim the Word of God; even if it hurts. Part of that obligation is to live that same word you preach. It can be hazardous. But you do it because of God, and His Son Jesus Christ.
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” 2 Timothy 4:2
“Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead. For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? But My people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:9-13 (KJV)
In these verses God speaking through the prophet Jeremiah says that the children of Judah, and Israel have done something that even the worshippers of false gods do not do; that is forsake their gods. Jehovah is the one true God, and they had forsaken Him, and turned to false gods.
The two evils: They had forsaken God, and the second, was they had made their own gods. They had “changed their glory for that which does not profit”. The glory of the follower of Jehovah is His glory.
The Psalmist has written,
“Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.” Psalm 106:20
Jehovah likens them as to having forsaken a living, flowing, fresh stream of moving clear, clean, cool, refreshing water for a dug out cisterns that collect runoff water, can become stale, stagnant, and smelly. Besides that the cisterns they have made are cracked throughout, and cannot even hold the water it collects.
Jesus is the Living Water who gives life. Why would anyone want anything, anyone else?
“God hath spoken in His holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim also is the strength of Mine head; Judah is My lawgiver; Moab is My washpot; over Edom will I cast out My shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of Me.” Psalm 60:6-8 (KJV)
One of the things people and nations need to understand is that God is the owner of all lands, and distributes those lands as He sees fit.
The land of Canaan was promised to Abraham, and His children through Isaac the promised son. He gave the land of Canaan plus land on the east side of Jordan to the people of promise.
Down through the ages there is still contention over that land. It is simply because the people will not submit to God’s ownership and division of that land. If the people would submit to God’s ownership, division of that land, and realize we are all only stewards of where we dwell; then there could be peace.
The Psalmist speaking the words of God notes this division. Shechem and Succoth are land on the east side of Jordan, and were given to two and one half tribes of Israel, because of their request for it (Numbers 32:1-5). Gilead, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Judah are God’s people. God says, “Gilead is Mine.” He also says, “Manasseh is Mine”; and “Ephraim is the helmet for My head” (NKJV), and “Judah is My lawgiver”.
To think about “Moab is My washpot” we are the surrounding enemy nations; along with Edom, and Philistia. We might consider Moab as the “washpot” in that when Israel strayed God uses them to discipline, chastise Israel for their waywardness.
Do we as Christians today understand that all God has given in our hand, under our feet, even on our back are His; and we are uniquely His stewards to care, and work it for His glory? The land is His and everything on it.
When we know God through His Son Jesus Christ we will understand this and will direct our lives accordingly. We will love the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We will love the Word of God, we will hear it and do what He says. When we fail, or fall we will trust Him to pick us back up; and we will continue on the path of holiness.
“Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities.” 2 Chronicles 31:1 (KJV)
Hezekiah was a godly king, and did that which was right in the sight of the LORD (29:1-2). He called the remnant of the northern kingdom to join with the people of the southern kingdom to restore the Passover, and proper worship to the Lord in Jerusalem; and many of the people came (30:1-12).
Both kingdoms were guilty of godless kings, leading the people away from God and the proper worship of Him who alone is worthy of worship. Ahaz; Hezekiah’s father was one of the worst of Judah.
As a result of the people of the remnant of the northern kingdom coming to Jerusalem and worshipping with the people of the southern kingdom was that they all returned to their lands, and destroyed the idols, images, high places, and done what was right and godly. They had a revival in the land.
People of God of any day when they get right with God will rid themselves, their land, their homes of anything that is an offense to God, the LORD. The greatest enemy to God’s people – To the Christian today is harboring, hanging on to that sinful thing that we want to hang on to. What is it? That thing that keeps you from a right fellowship with God.
Pride, greed, lust, lying, shedding innocent blood, wicked mind and thoughts, sowing discord among brethren: you can apply your own there. What is our greatest enemy? See 2 Corinthians 10:5. Throw it down.
“Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.” 2 Kings 22:13 (KJV)
The words of God’s book is the word of God. The most important book ever penned down by the hands of men; and sadly it is the most rejected book. Though it was written down by the hands of men the word of God is the verbally inspired, inerrant, and infallible word.
Josiah, the youngest king of Judah to begin ruling, saw the importance of the word of God. It is said of Josiah that “he did right in the sight of the LORD”; and that was due to his reverence, trust, and faith in God and His word.
Upon hearing the word of God Josiah took action. It would have first been upon his own heart and life. The first place of action for us today is to hear the word of God; then to act upon it.
We are sinners according to the word of God (Romans 3:23), and we need a Saviour if we are to be in fellowship with God, and that is Jesus Christ Son of God, and God the Son.
Turn to God, to His word, and to His Son.
“When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language; Judah was His sanctuary, and Israel His dominion.” Psalm 114:1-2 (KJV)
The Psalmist; probably not David, but another of a later time acknowledges GOD as the Ruler of the nation.
The LORD is the One who delivered Jacob [Israel] out of Egypt. Judah is the sanctuary of God’s abiding. It is from Judah which our Saviour Jesus the Christ came. It is in Judah where Jerusalem is.
Israel the new name for Jacob is the place of God’s rule; and covers the entirety of the kingdom.
It is Christ Jesus who is the King. It is within His people that He is abiding; His sanctuary. Yet He has a plan for Israel.
Just as the LORD delivered Jacob out of Egypt; so too does He deliver sinners out of sin, and death. He has sent His Son Jesus who died on the cross, was buried, and He rose from death, and forever lives. Believe Him and live forever with Him.
“In Judah is God known: His name is great in Israel.” Psalm 76:1 (KJV)
It is a worthwhile calling to make God known to the world. It is one thing for those who know God to know Him; but to know Him also calls for those to make Him known by others who might desire to know Him.
God desires that the world know Him. He is not into self-propagation of prophets who proclaim a god who gives us all good things, and is unholy. God is holy, and when we stand holy in Him gives us the desires of our heart; that is the things He desires become our desires.
The Bible from Genesis through Revelation 22 is about God making Himself known to the world. In the prophecy of Ezekiel the prophet uses the phrase, “…they shall know that I am the LORD” over 60 times in those 48 chapters.
It is a great honor to know God; and to know His name and it is a great name. It is a more wonderful thing to be known by Him. His name is great in His people.
The following is a quote from the Matthew Henry Commentary,
I. In the revelation God had made of himself to them, Psa_76:1. It is the honour and privilege of Judah and Israel that among them God is known, and where he is known his name will be great. God is known as he is pleased to make himself known; and those are happy to whom he discovers himself – happy people that have their land filled with the knowledge of God, happy persons that have their hearts filled with that knowledge. In Judah God was known as he was not known in other nations, which made the favour the greater, inasmuch as it was distinguishing, Psa_147:19, Psa_147:20.
Every child of God is given the privilege to reveal God to the world around us. They are responsible for their own choices. Live your life that others may see God at work in you.
God’s Controversy With His People 1
As we begin our study of Hosea 4 we find Hosea speaking in the gates of the city. This is the place where civil and religious meetings were held. There were probably some who were from the Southern kingdom present here as well.
The LORD is presented as having a “Controversy” with the people. The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER Dictionary defines “Controversy” as being “a clash of opposing views: DISPUTE”. It must of necessity be concluded that the one who opposes God is the one who is in error. The New International Version of the Bible uses the word “Charge”. The New American Standard uses the word “Case”. These latter two imply court actions. If then this is a court scene we see GOD as the offended party; and He is also the Judge, the Prosecutor; and since there is no defense mentioned He would also be their Defense. God has a legal case against Israel. It is a case He will win. A case where the guilty will in brokenness confess their guilt, turn from their evil, and seek His face, receiving His forgiveness.
In verse one through three God says all are guilty, then the priests and prophets are responsible for rejecting the Word of God, rather than teaching it, living it, and proclaiming it (vv. 4-6). They are all condemned for leaving God to follow the harlotry of Baal (vv. 7-10). The men are then told of their responsibility for the corrupting of their wives and daughters (vv. 13-14). Judah [the Southern kingdom] is then called on to heed the Word of Go, and not to forsake God and His ways following other gods (vv. 15-19).
“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.” Hosea 4:1-3 (KJV)
The land is greatly polluted. Sexual perversion and immorality always pollute the land of any nation.
God still contends with evil. He is contending with evil even now across the United States of America, and in all nations of the world. Sin is just as destructive today as it was in Hosea’s day; maybe more open and with greater influence; but “where sin abounds grace does much more abound”.
“Truth” is faithfulness. Faithful to God, His Word, and His ways. To walk in them is to walk in truth. To walk in truth is to be faithful to His Word. To depart from truth is to cease being kind. “Mercy” is kindness. When God’s people forsake His way sexual immorality increases, murders increase, all crime and criminal activities increase, and education slips into amorality. Evil becomes good, and good becomes evil. Because of this there is no knowledge of God in the land. God is seen only as non-existent, unavailable, or contained in a box to be used at our own discretion and for our own pleasures. Because of evil god is made in our own image. He is viewed as tolerating evil, and never judging it; putting Him on equal basis with the gods of men’s hearts. His Holiness, Righteousness, mercy, and grace are forgotten. What need is there of mercy and/or grace if God tolerates all kinds of evil?
When people depart from God to serve the gods of their hearts “Everyone does that which is right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25), the land becomes “Bloody”. The commandments of God become useless, despised, and rejected; tossed aside as fables.
In verse two Hosea declares that at least five of the Ten Commandments had been severely broken.
There are also ecological consequences to sin.
The land cries out to God for mercy (Romans 8:22). The man of God’s creation willfully sinned against God. Sin causes the creation to groan. Unless God keeps His hand of mercy on the land, then the land judges us.
The environmental crises that are known today; the upheaval of weather patterns, in the USA, and around the world; are evidences of a gross spiritual problem. God’s people have forsaken Him to serve the idols of pleasure, entertainment, and the sirens of comfort. Many of the gods of our day are science, technology, money and finance. All idols of man’s own making; leading to our destruction.
The world may laugh at such a simplistic answer, but the Bible is clear on the matter, and it is right. Someone has said, “The heart of the human problem, is the problem of the human heart.” (Matthew 15:16-20). The heart of man can only be righted when man confesses his sin/departure from God, repents, and asks for, and receives God’s forgiveness.
It is not gun-control we need to stop murders, or condoms to stop STD’s and/or AIDS. It is self-control, and especially Holy Spirit initiated self-control. To make it real the world needs the grace, mercy, and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the forgiveness only His atoning death, burial and resurrection supplies.
-Tim A. Blankenship
GOD Pursues the Redemption of His Wife
GOD is on a persistent quest to redeem the lost spouse (Israel), and reclaim her to Himself. Through the gift of His Son Jesus He paid the ultimate sacrifice to redeem all who will hear His voice believe the gospel of Jesus Christ and be saved.
“Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah. Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not My wife, neither am I her Husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.'” Hosea 2:1-5 (KJV)
God calls on Judah and Israel to refer to one another as brethren “Brother” and “Sister”. There is a contending on God’s part, with Israel. God has put away Israel: “She is not My wife” “I am not her Husband!” There is punitive judgment here – for the purpose of punishing and restoration.
If Israel would not quit hers sins then God would “Put them away” in order to show them, that is was He who was providing bountifully for them; not her “lovers” who are the Baals of pagan, godless worship.
“Wife” in the text, as is Gomer is representative of the corporate people [Nation] or land of the North. “Children” are representative of individuals within the nation or land.
There is a storn indication that there was a small group [remnant] within the nation who were not participative as individuals, but said or did nothing about it. Their toleration in essence; was approval for the actions of others while they were selling the nation to godless whoredoms and all kinds of immoralities.
In these verses God pleads with Israel (v. 2); He warns them of judgment (vv. 3-4); and the people obstinately reject God’s plea (v. 5).
“Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.’ For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.” Hosea 2:6-8 (KJV)
We are told by some Scriptures that God puts a “Hedge” about His people keeping them from harm, and from evil. Here the hedge has a different purpose. God says now how He will bring them back to Himself. He will build a hedge of thorns and “wall her in”.
By doing this God accomplishes three things;
- She would no longer be able to find the “Paths” that lead to the shrines and idols of Baal (v. 6);
- In seeking the idols they would not be able to find them (v. 7);
- They would begin to realize that they had it much better when they were worshipping God and Him only.
In God and in God alone they would realize the blessings they had received were from GOD alone (vv. 7-8).
“Therefore will I return, and take away My corn in the time thereof, and My wine in the season thereof, and will recover My wool and My flax given to cover her nakedness. And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of Mine hand. I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, ‘These are my rewards that my lovers have given me:’ and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat Me, saith the LORD.” Hosea 2:9-13 (KJV)
We can see by these things that God is on a relentless pursuit of His wayward “Wife”. He lovers her. Real and true love is harsh with a wayward loved one.
How would God pursue?
- Take away the grain at harvest;
- Take back the wool and the flax (linen);
- He would remove His hand of protection, and put on her a hand of judgment, which no one could deliver her from;
- All celebrations, feast days, would cease; along with laughter and joy;
- He would destroy her vines and fig trees, because she had given praise to the Baals for the fruitfulness of the land.
This judgment was God’s. She had gone after other gods following the paths of pagan cultures clothed in expensive jewels and dress. God says, “She forgot Me”.
This is a sad commentary about God’s people. The very fact that Israel was worshipping Baals shows they had forgotten, and departed from God. Any time any of God’s people begin to look to their wealth, blessings, or pleasures as coming because of their own goodness, or from anything , but God; she has forgotten God.
Has the United States of America depended upon idols? Is the pagan deity Baal still worshipped in the USA? Pleasure, wealth and convenience seems to be the cry of today’s society and culture. The saddest part of that is that many professing Christians have lined up with the world in these things too.
Yet our answer for freedom from sin and this world is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Hear Him, believe Him, repent and be saved.
When evil is in the world, and the world is in the Church; evil is progressing toward its maximum potential, and its end.
More on this chapter next time…
-Tim A. Blankenship
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, ‘Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, ‘For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions:’ then take another stick, and write upon it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:’ and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, ‘Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?’ Say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD; ‘Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in Mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD; ‘Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be My people, and I will be their God. And David My servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and My servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.'” Ezekiel 37:15-28 (KJV)
The LORD of hosts will accomplish His purposes for His people. No matter how difficult it may seem; or how far out the way His people may get; He will bring them to Himself again.
Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt. The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him. He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto Him: he found Him in Bethel, and there He spake with us; even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is His memorial. Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.” Hosea 12:1-6 (KJV)
Here are the words of the prophet who is telling the nation of Israel/Ephraim to trust, to expectantly wait for the Lord. They were to do that by keeping mercy and right judgment. “Wait on thy God continually” is to expect the coming of the Lord; to trust that He was coming.
For the Christian who is following Jesus today; that message is one we must heed as well. Jesus told the disciples and us; “Occupy until I come” (Luke 19:13). Though He says this in a parable, it is still a powerful command to His people. The command means to be busy living for Christ, as we carry on our daily duties, our labors, and our recreations. Do so, however, with expectancy of the soon return of the King of kings. He is coming.
And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods. Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till He come and rain righteousness upon you. Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.” Hosea 10:11-13 (KJV)
This verse reminds me of Galations 6:7,
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
A free society without this in mind is a condemned society. Sow in righteousness, and your fruit and harvest will be mercy.
In this post today I am attempting to post daily. My post will be from Scripture, the Word of the LORD. These be come from my reading of God’s Word for the day it is posted. Hear the word of the LORD.
The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; the which Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the LORD hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened. And the LORD hath sent unto you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear. They said, ‘Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever: and go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke Me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt. Yet ye have not hearkened unto Me, saith the LORD; that ye might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt. Jeremiah 25:1-7 (KJV)
I will be finishing up the study of Elijah when I can get my thoughts to putting it down in print form.
Judgment From The North
For the nation of Israel it seems that the North was the direction from which judgment would come. I think it interesting to note a Psalm that directs our attention to the North without naming the North. It is Psalm 75, and it says, “Do not lift up your horn on high; do not speak with a stiff neck.’ For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” (vv.5-7). You notice the silence concerning North? Does Judgment come from the North? In the case of Israel and Judah it does.
Hear what the LORD spoke to Jeremiah:
“Then the LORD said to me: ‘Out of the north calamity shall break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,’ says the LORD; ‘They shall come and each one set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around, and against all the cities of Judah. I will utter My judgments against them concerning all their wickedness, because they have forsaken Me, burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.” Jeremiah 1:13-16
The judgment of which Jeremiah warned was coming on all the inhabitants of the land. It seems that the noble people, those of notable birth, or those who have great wealth sometimes think, “Oh, that won’t happen to us” or “We can become a part of the upper society people, and we can just fit in”, but the prophet’s message from the LORD is judgment on “all the inhabitants of the land”. Judgment is not a pleasant thing to talk about, but when the LORD calls you and gives you a message to proclaim, and tells you not to withhold a word, then you better obey.
Every preacher, and especially pastors would love to spend all their preaching, preaching of the goodness, love, grace, mercy of God. We would be thrilled just to always be preaching about the good we see in our fellow human beings, because there are good things done, there are good lives lived, and people saving physical lives; and encouraging others. The preacher, the pastor is not the man of God he should be, if he preaches not that we are sinners; condemned, dying and that our only hope of salvation is through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. To preach the cross of Jesus you must tell why He died on the cross, that means talking about our darkness of sin. We must tell why the Father had to judge His own perfect, sinless Son, turn His back on Him; and why Jesus went through that horrible three hours of total darkness while He was stretched between heaven and hell. We must preach that God made Him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
The judgment coming on Judah was coming from the north. It was in fact, coming from God. It was the plan of Jeremiah’s father, his family, and Jeremiah that he would be a priest in Jerusalem. That was a ministry that was much respected in Jeremiah’s day, and that of his family. Jeremiah even had plans of marriage, but that was not to come about. We will see that in a later word from God to the prophet. Prophets of God do not choose to be prophets; they are called by God to be prophets. That is the prophet Jeremiah. Prophets who call themselves serve themselves, lead others astray, and despise God’s prophets.
The judgment coming to Jerusalem was like all the kingdoms of the north were coming to set up quarters, homes, or shop right in the gates of the city. They would be encamping all around. The people of Judah would no longer be free. Not only is this against the city of Jerusalem but all the cities of Judah. This would include Bethlehem and Bethel.
The coming of these people of the kingdoms of the north was God’s utterance against their forsaking the LORD. There were those who were worshipping the LORD, but few and far between. Those who were worshipping were probably remaining silent. The priests who were praising God in their hearts and worshipping him, must have been silent concerning the condition of the hearts and lives of the people; thus were allowing them to continue to live in their sin and rebellion. Therefore, they were not the priests of God that they should have been. Take the offering the people bring no matter the true condition of their heart, or that they had been to the temple of Baal, and participated in those rituals. They will be okay as long as they are faithful to the temple of God. LIES, LIES, LIES. God is not glorified except with total devotion, commitment, and worship to Him and to Him alone.
Even though a man and/or woman may attend worship on Sunday morning, evening, Wednesday evening, and anytime the church house door is open, but they live for themselves the other days of the week, the rest of the time, and glorify not God with their life and living; they worship not, and love not the LORD with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. They have, in fact, forsaken the Lord, and “worship the works of their own hands”.
-Tim A. Blankenship
Flame Of The LORD
2 Samuel 11:6-17
In this story of the fall of king David is also the story of a man who was faithful, to God, to his wife, to his country and to his king. In this event in the life of David, Uriah is a contrast to David, and gives those of us who aren’t born into a godly home, or godly atmosphere some hope.
It is very likely that Uriah, being a Hittite; had come to believe and trust in the God of Israel and David; and had given himself to the service of God, the people and the king. His name means, “Flame of Jah”, thus the title to the message being “Flame Of The LORD”. Oh, that the Christian of today had the fire of Uriah.
I. URIAH WAS FAITHFUL; THEY KNEW WHERE HE WAS (vv. 3, 6).
A. “It is 10-O-Clock. Do you know where your children are?”
B. Uriah was known as a good soldier, even a “mighty” soldier (23:39).
1. He is called one of David’s “thirty mighty men” (23:8-39).
C. God is faithful; He will always be faithful to His Word, His will, His children and His promises.
“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (KJV)
“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13
“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck…” 1 Timothy 1:18-19 (KJV)
II. URIAH WAS OBEDIENT TO THE KING’S COMMANDMENT TO RETURN HOME (v. 7).
A. Uriah was probably wondering about the purpose of his being called back to Jerusalem.
1. He may have thought, “The king desires that I get some rest and relaxation”, but his heart had no desire for it.
B. Uriah was obedient to the king’s call.
C. Christian, let us who have been called by our King, hear His voice, do His bidding and when He calls us home do so with the earnestness of this hero of Jerusalem, Israel and Judah.
1. We can rest assured that when our King Jesus calls us to His home He will not have some devious intent in His heart and mind.
III. URIAH WAS LOYAL TO THE KING AND ALL THE OTHER SOLDIERS WHO WERE FAITHFULLY FIGHTING THE BATTLES (vv. 8-13).
A. He is not only loyal to his king, but loyal and faithful to the other soldiers who are not getting the call from the king that he received.
1. Uriah would have made a good United States Marine Corp Officer or soldier. “Semper Fi” or “Always Faithful” is the motto of the Marine Corp, and that seems to have been Uriah’s creed as well.
B. Uriah would not go home to his wife, his heart was on the welfare of the king and his troops on the field.
1. The good soldier is thinking about the safety of the others, and their leader and nation.
2. The heart of Uriah at this point in time puts the heart of king David to shame.
C. David jumped headlong into this adulterous relationship with Uriah’s wife, because he was not doing what he should have been doing.
1. The first verse of chapter eleven includes the following words, “at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah.
2. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.”
IV. URIAH IS FAITHFUL TO GOD, HIS WIFE, HIS COUNTRY AND HIS KING EVEN UNTO DEATH – CARRYING HIS OWN DEATH WARRANT (vv. 14-17).
A. King David upon realization that he would not convince Uriah to get home anytime soon; sent a death warrant by Uriah’s own hand to the General in the field – Joab.
1. Unknowingly, most likely, Uriah takes the hand written message written by the hand of the king that would cause him to die.
B. We have a Savior who was faithful to His Father; all the way to Jerusalem; all the way to Calvary; all the way to the cross; all the way to the tomb; and all the way to His glory which He had with the Father from the beginning (John 17:5).
1. We by faith in Him and His finished work on the cross put on His righteousness, His garments, and take on the characteristics which led Him to the obedient, faithful, loving life that led to His cross; His place of death and dying for the sins of the world.
C. Uriah means “Flame of Jah” or “Flame of the Lord”, and surely he was the flame of God burning in Israel when the “man after God’s own heart” had plunged into darkness of sin.
D. Oh, Christian when we see a brother or sister in Christ; who has plunged headlong into sin; whether they be a church leader, leader’s wife, or the man or woman in the pew; that is the time to be the “Flame of the LORD”. (Galations 6:1-2)
1. Stand as an example of faith and light, be faithful to God, and don’t let the darkness of sin pull you in and down.
2. Jesus said, “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?” Luke 12:49 (KJV). His Holy Spirit within His followers are the possessors of that Fire; and that Fire possesses us as well. Let us walk in the light of that flame.
From a different setting of things two people can see the same thing or event in a slightly different way. That is the way of the gospels of the New Testament. It is also the way of the prophets we will look at today. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were men in two different locations. They are contemporary with the other. One, however, Jeremiah is in Judah or Jerusalem preaching and calling the people to repentance; while Ezekiel in in Babylon as a captive of Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom; along with king Jehoichin.
Jeremiah’s message in Lamentations seems to have taken place after the city of Jerusalem is defeated, the walls broken down, the temple destroyed, and the precious articles for temple worship taken away. We can see Jeremiah’s being known as “the weeping prophet” as we read the laments that are written there. Ezekiel speaks to the people as God gives him visions, and acts for illustration. Ezekiel’s message would be mostly to the people who are captive in Babylon, or the written message to be taken back to those still in Jerusalem.
My reading, if you have not figured it out by now, was Lamentations 1 – 5 and Ezekiel 1 – 9. These prophets being contemporary with the other are coming from different perspectives, yet pretty much with the same message. Jeremiah wrote his prophecy trying to save as many lives in Judah as possible, calling people to turn from their idolatrous worship, by turning back to the LORD of hosts. Ezekiel sees the need for the people of Israel/Judah to realize that the LORD is the LORD.
Jeremiah was allowed to stay behind with a remnant of people, and the laments are written as he sees the city broken down, destroyed and forsaken;
“How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits. The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness. Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy. And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed: her princes are become like harts that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the pursuer. Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and none did help her: the adversaries saw her, and did mock at her sabbaths. Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward. Her filthiness is in her skirts; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: she had no comforter. O LORD, behold my affliction: for the enemy hath magnified himself. The adversary hath spread out his hand upon all her pleasant things: for she hath seen that the heathen entered into her sanctuary, whom thou didst command that they should not enter into thy congregation. All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul: see, O LORD, and consider; for I am become vile.” Lamentations 1:1-11 (KJV)
The prophets heart is grieved because of the cities destruction, but he knows it is due to her transgressions. She has sinned against the LORD, been given many opportunities to repent and change, yet has continued in debaucherous rebellion against the loving, merciful LORD of hosts.
The prophet Ezekiel is taken by the hand of the LORD, in a vision to Jerusalem, and sees the wickedness going on there in the face of judgment,
“And He put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.” Ezekiel 8:3 (KJV)
By way of a vision the LORD took Ezekiel back to Jerusalem and showed him the evil that was taking place at that time in their previous “glorious city”. The “Ancients of the house of Israel were saying, “The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.”
We do see in these to priests and prophets that there perspective is different, their views are different, but the message of God is still the same. The people of the land have forsaken the LORD. There is a need for cleansing, healing and renewing.
A different view? One was viewing from Jerusalem [Jeremiah]. The other was viewing from Babylon [Ezekiel].
The LORD of hosts, who holds the world, the universe in His hands will not tolerate evil in His people. He will not allow His children to live successfully in sin. He will judge our sin. It has already been judged in His Son Jesus Christ. However, when a Christian sins willfully, there remains no more sacrifice for sin. As it is written, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
-Tim A. Blankenship
The reading of the prophecy of Jeremiah can be a difficult read; and even difficult to write about; especially if you focus on the judgment part of the prophecy. Jeremiah lived through much of the fall and destruction of Jerusalem, Judah and Israel. He also wrote many promises of God.
My reading today was Jeremiah 38 – 52 finishing up this portion of the prophecy of Jeremiah. I say this portion, because we have Lamentations to read yet, which is part of his prophecy.
“As I live,’ saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts, ‘Surely as Tabor is among the mountains, and as Carmel by the sea, so shall he come.'” Jeremiah 46:18 (KJV)
One of the things I learn as I read the Bible, and that I am reminded of everyday is that God is the Supreme Ruler over the earth. The phrase in the verse above, “…the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts” is used in two other verses in today’s reading – 48:15 and 51:57.
The LORD of hosts is King of every nation, tribe and tongue, and His will will be done. His name will be glorified. Egypt of the above verse was prideful. The remnant of Judah who had been left behind by Nebuchadnezzar, had asked Jeremiah to seek the LORD and they would follow His guidance about what they were to do. They were to stay in the land of promise; yet they disobeyed the LORD, and chose to go into Egypt seeking security from Babylon. They would, instead of finding security, find themselves a part of another captivity, because Babylon was going to come to Egypt conquering them. He is the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.
In the second verse the word is against Moab,
“Moab is spoiled, and gone up out of her cities, and his chosen young men are gone down to the slaughter, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.” 48:15
Moab, thinking themselves strong, mighty, and secure would fall by the “King, whose name is the LORD of hosts”. Egypt, Moab, Ammon, Bozrah, Edom, and even Babylon would fall by the decree of the King; “the King whose name is the LORD of hosts”
No king or president or senator or congressman or any leader can stand long against the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts. He is the King of kings, and the LORD of lords. One day every tribe, tongue and nation will bow before Him. The One whose name is above every name. The One to which every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).
-Tim A. Blankenship
It is written in Proverbs, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18). Pride even gets into the hearts and minds of the best among us; and that is never more clear to me than when I was reading in 2 Chronicles 23 – 36 this morning.
I read of several kings, three of which, Uzziah, Hezekiah, and Josiah were noted as “Doing what was right in the sight of the LORD”; and they did wonderful things to restore Judah and Jerusalem to the right worship of the LORD. The LORD prospered them, the nation and the city because of the fine works of these godly kings. The death of Uzziah is mourned by Isaiah the prophet in Isaiah 6.
Uzziah, however became prideful. Hear what the Scripture says of him –
“But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.” 2 Chronicles 26:16 (KJV)
In his pride he usurped the office of the priest; an office that did not belong to him; nor a work that was his. When Uzziah was approached, and rebuked by the chief priest Azariah it is like he had the attitude, “I am king. Who do you think you are correcting the king?”
“And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.” 26:20-21
Uzziah died a leper, due to his prideful fall.
King Hezekiah too is recognized as a king who did what “…was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done” (29:2). King Hezekiah brought back the Passover, and brought back a unity between part of the people of the Northern kingdom of Israel (30:1-12). Hezekiah did many wonderful things in Judah and Jerusalem, and God blessed him greatly; yet his heart became prideful;
“In those days Hezekiah was sick to the death, and prayed unto the LORD: and He spake unto him, and He gave him a sign. But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.” 32:24-25
We also see that God did something in the life of Hezekiah which we may find a bit puzzling;
“Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that He might know all that was in his heart.” 32:31 (See 2 Kings 20:12-19)
What I am referring to is the phrase, “God left him, to try him, that He might know all that was in his heart.” Have you ever had a time when it seemed the Lord had “left” you? It was probably a test. It is a time of God’s silence. Your real heart and mind will be revealed during those times. The warning here is be cautious, very cautious of pride.
Now, let us look at Josiah who was only eight years of age when he became king of Judah, and he too “…did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father…” (34:1-2). Josiah heard the word of the LORD, after the reading of it, called the nation to repentance, and was promised to die in peace (34:21-28).
For some reason, and I believe this to be an element of his pride, though it is not named; the king sees a battle that is not his, and he goes to war against Necho, king of Egypt. The Egyptian kings sends ambassadors saying to Josiah,
“After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him. But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, ‘What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.’ Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, ‘Have me away; for I am sore wounded.’ His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.” 2 Chronicles 35:20-24 (KJV)
Josiah goes against the word of the LORD by the prophet (34:21-28), and proceeds to war when he has none to fight. O, the futility, and death that pride brings.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God humbled Himself to the point of death, and went to the cross to die for the sins of the world; mine and yours; He was buried, and rose bodily from the grave, and He still lives, exalted at the Father’s right hand.
-Tim A. Blankenship
In reading through the Bible in 90 days there are passages which, to be honest, I find difficult to read; and today’s reading was no exception. I am speaking particularly of 1 Chronicles 1 – 9 which gives us a genealogy from Adam through the Babylonian captivity of Israel. I must admit that I cheat when I come to these and pretty much just scan the pages trying to take note of the main names. Ever once in a while I will notice something I had not seen before.
The one main thing I noticed this morning is that there is more mention of Bathsheba than I had noticed before, in the genealogy, and that may be due to the KJV use of “Bathshua” rather than Bathsheba. Bathsheba according to this text (1 Chronicles 3:5) is the daughter of Ammiel; who is known as Eliam in 2 Samuel 11:3. There is also the famous Jabez in chapter 4; who prayed and God answered his prayer (vv.9-10). His name [Jabez] means that he was a pain in birth.
My reading this morning started in 2 Kings 21 and extended through 1 Chronicles 9.
The statement in the title “What the LORD Does With Evil in His People” is answered in 2 Kings 21 – 25. The short answer to that question is – He judges it severely. I will not just leave it there though.
The first mention in the reading is of Manasseh, son of Godly king Hezekiah who was a man pretty much after the fashion of king David. Manasseh, however was a murdering, idol worshipping abomination to Judah. He led the people of Judah away from the worship of Jehovah/YHWH. He worshipped the sun, moon, stars, and all their supposed powers (21:5), he sacrificed his son to the fire (21:6), and to these things God will not turn away;
“And the LORD spake by His servants the prophets, saying, ‘Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of Mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; because they have done that which was evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.’ Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.” 2 Kings 21:10-16 (KJV)
In 2 Kings we get our first introduction to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He will be the instrument of God’s judgment upon Judah. One of the things we should see about these things is that God is not pacified with good deeds. We have seen a few kings of Judah who were pleasing to God David, Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah to name a few. God does not have a set of balances weighing our good on one side and evil on the other; He judges sin, because He hates sin. It separates us from Him.
God sent the Southern kingdom of Judah into Babylonian captivity because of their sin; but we find when we get through 2 Chronicles that He does bring them back to Jerusalem. That is not a balancing of things; that is, however, grace.
The Son of God made it possible for all will call on His name to have eternal fellowship with the Creator of the Universe. His name is Jesus
-Tim A. Blankenship
No one needs reminded of the times in which we live; I am pretty sure of that. Unless of course you are living on a deserted island somewhere and you would not be reading this anyway.
The economy is in ruins, and the only promises for change is in words of men, it seems at times. Except for those who find their comfort in the Lord of all creation. He is our Sustainer, Provider, Protector, Sword and Shield from the enemy who seeks to destroy, maim and kill.
The prophet Isaiah prophesied of judgment coming on Israel in the first 39 chapters of the prophecy; warning them of the coming wrath of the LORD of hosts. Babylon was coming as God’s agent of judgment on a nation that had forsaken God. Then we reach chapter 40 and the prophecy changes.
There are scattered words of hope and comfort in those first 39 chapters, however from chapter 40 through chapter 66 there is much more on comforting the people, encouraging the people, and the LORD encourages Isaiah to “Comfort My People!”
“Comfort ye, comfort ye My people’, saith your God. ‘Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.” Isaiah 40:1-2 (KJV)
The world right now is being judged slightly because of flagrant living, loose living, and God’s people forsaking Him and His word. When I say “God’s people” now I mean those who are Christians. Those who proclaim they are followers of Christ yet are indulging in the sins of the flesh along with the other bar hopping, lascivious living, and yet announcing to the rest of the world, “I am a Chrisitan”. If you can live like the world, enjoy its sinful ways, and never hunger for righteousness; you are no Christian. At the least you are a deceived Christian. At the worst you are yet in yours sins, and hell is your eternal resting place; unless you turn to Jesus Christ with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
Well, that does not sound much like comfort does it? There is comfort for those who live for Jesus.
Just as the prophet was told to comfort God’s people of that day; I can comfort those who are living for the glory of Jesus Christ today. There is hope in Christ and living for Him. There is comfort from the turmoil of this world and its economic distress, diseases, fears and failures.
If you are a Christian and you are miserable living in sins of the flesh, you have left your love for Jesus, His word, and have been disobeyed the leadership of the Holy Spirit; you are miserable, and the Lord Jesus is waiting for you to turn back to Him. He loves you. He died for you, and rose again from the dead. Sin no longer controls your life. Look to Jesus and be free.
The warfare is accomplished – Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death. Your iniquity has been pardoned – Jesus paid our sin debt on the cross. O, how marvelous is the grace of our God. Jesus Christ lives forever more.
Jesus is the only true comfort.
-Tim A. Blankenship
Chapter 28 of Isaiah the prophet begins a series of “Woe” against Israel and Judah, Jerusalem; and within these woes are also promises, encouragements to lead them back to YaHWeH the Eternal, Self-Sufficient One who called them to Himself.
The Northern kingdom called Ephraim in our text was prideful and fell. The “Woe” is warning Judah of her fall should she fail to repent and turn again to the LORD. The problem with Judah was they were putting more faith in the power of politics, and the politicians of their day than in the LORD, thus were failing to heed God’s leadership. Just as Israel’s pride brought them down so too would the pride of Judah bring them down; like the beauty of the fading flower.
“Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet: and the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up. In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people, and for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.” Isaiah 28:1-6 (KJV)
Ephraim had a problem with parties, drinking inebriating drinks, and their leaders all conspiring to do the same. Their judges, priests and others; along with their prophets in drunkenness (v. 7); making rule and law in their soberless state of mind. Is it much different in today’s USA? Not at all. Warren Wiersbe quotes a U.S. government official in his book on Isaiah “Be Comforted” as having said,
“We have three parties in this city [Washington D. C.]: the Democratic party, the Republican party, and the cocktail party.”
I don’t doubt that to be true. I wonder how many of our leaders go into their Congressional sessions, Senate sessions, and even investigations under the influence of alcohol? Is it any wonder that our nation is in the bankrupt condition it is in. The beauty of the United States and her glory is quickly fading and will continue until the Lord Jesus returns or their is revival in the land.
In verse sixteen we read,
“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.”
When God’s people are resting upon the LORD, trusting in Him there will be no need to fear or flee from what is coming into the world, or a nation. Our hope, our only hope is in the LORD. It is not in returning to new tax structures, political ideologies, or even only to making right laws. We need to return to the fear of the LORD, and set our hearts on Him alone.
The LORD has said, “I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation…” and that is not just an Old Testament thought, but one of Paul the apostle’s writings as well (Romans 9:33). That Stone was rejected, tried, beaten, mocked, and finally hung on a brutal cross where He bled and died for the sins of the world.
In verse 21 God says He will do a “strange work”.
“For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act.”
Just what is this “Strange work”, “Strange act”? It appears to be that God will allow His people’s own sin to be their judgment. Even the prophet Jeremiah says,
“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee…” Jeremiah 2:19a
Maybe like your mother letting you gorge yourself on that jar full of cookies, after telling you two or three times, “Only one!”, and then you end up feeling deathly ill, throwing up, and in bed the rest of the day. Moses said, “Be sure your sins will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
One thing we can be assured of, and that is that God does His work; His strange work, His strange act in the order it should be in. That is the prophet’s message in verses 23 – 29;
“Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech. Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground? When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place? For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him. For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod. Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen. This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.”
Isaiah uses the illustration of the farmer plowing and sowing seeds. It is done in an orderly manner. The ground is plowed and prepared then each type of seed is sown according to its own fashion. The fitches and cummin [seeds for condiment purposes] are scattered or broadcasted around on the ground. Wheat and barley are sown in rows. They are all threshed in different fashion as well. Some of the harvest grains are threshed by beating, some are rolled with a crushing wheel. I hope you see the picture.
God’s judgment will not always be the same for everyone. It will, however, come due, and there will be judgment according to God’s own grace and mercy. Remember that the judgment we are talking about is not on the world, but upon God’s own people. Peter the apostle wrote,
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17 (KJV)
Isaiah’s warning Israel and Judah is also a warning to those who are Christians. Get right with God, and be right with God always. Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love Him.
-Tim A. Blankenship
The title comes from Isaiah 13:6. Yes, I am doing some catch up work here. On Sunday nights at Carr Lane Baptist I have been preaching through the Prophecy of Isaiah, however, I have not been prone to publish on the blog until now. I pray you will be able to follow along and get them in order if you need to do so.
Chapter 13 begins a series of messages from the prophet to foreign nations who have not heard the LORD God; and mistreated the people of God known as Israel or Judah, and continues through chapter 23. From Babylon to Tyre, and includes God’s anger toward His people as well in chapter 22.
Chapter 13 and 14 deals with Babylon, which at this point in history was not considered a world power, yet it would become so, in about a hundred years. How did Isaiah know this? By the Word and wisdom of the LORD of hosts.
Babylon would be a proud and arrogant people; worshipping their own deities which were in signs in the stars, the stars, and idols made of human hands.
In many ways Babylon represents the world and its arrogance against God and His people. The world, its inhabitants, its governments often have no friendly hand toward God’s people; be they Christian or Hebrew. We see this quite often in many foreign lands today where Christians are persecuted for their faith. Where we are not free to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and many brothers and sisters die for their faith.
We see it often in history concerning the Hebrew people. One instance of great persecution against the Hebrew people is in the death camps of Hitler. The numbers of murdered Hebrews during that time of holocaust in Germany. It was a growing problem throughout the history of man. No one of the surrounding nations wanted the Jewish people around. They worshipped the one true God, and He is the only way to paradise or heaven.
“Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.” Isaiah 13:6 (KJV)
The warning is to Babylon and their destruction should they fail to heed God’s warning.
If you will notice the very things which they admire and worship are taken from them. “The stars of heaven and the constellations will not give their light…” (v. 10), the sun darkened. Now I don’t know how this was done; and it is most likely a prophetic word which has yet to take place and the prophecy is basically to the world itself for turning their back on the message of God, His Word and His servants and His people. With the same judgment they have wreaked out so shall they receive like judgment. Remember even Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1) and God will carry out His judgment to the fullest extent, and will let sin run its course (SEE verses 15-16). Babylon will fall by the power of the Medes (Daniel 5:30-31).
The kingdom of Babylon as it was known in that day has fallen, just as God has said. It was a glorious nation of wealth, gold, jewels, many riches. It was full of pride. God says, “…Her days shall not be prolonged” (v. 22).
The days of pride and arrogance of the world will come to an end. God’s glory will be seen by all, rejoiced in by all who love Him, His Word and His people. His kingdom will be prolonged for all eternity.
-Tim A. Blankenship
Though chapter twelve is a short one it is full of song. In fact it has two songs. They are songs of the deliverance of Israel for the final time. It is of a time yet future. The prophet Isaiah shares with Israel/Judah that there is coming a day when they will be praising the LORD of host; the Holy One of Israel.
“And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise Thee: though Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, and Thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon His name, declare His doings among the people, make mention that His name is exalted. Sing unto the LORD; for He hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.” Isaiah 12:1-6 (KJV)
Some things which I want to point out-
- The people recognize the LORD’s anger, now in that future day forgiveness;
- The people, the prophet recognize the LORD is their salvation;
- The LORD shows Himself doubly able to save in the phrase “LORD JEHOVAH” through this song.
- The people will “draw water out of the wells of salvation”
- There will be praise in the mouth of the people when they see the Holy One of Israel in their midst.
This is very relevant for the Christian of our day, any day as a matter of fact. We always need to remember that the LORD hates disobedience which is sin, and all sins committed or sins of omitted obedient acts; and with our Lord there is forgiveness. We must always remember that God is my salvation. Remember the name of the prophet Isaiah means “God is salvation”. The Lord’s use of the double “Jehovah” assures us that He is God, He is awesome, He is all powerful, all Present, all knowing, invisible, unexplainable, and immutable [unchanging].
According to John’s gospel chapter 4 we could see that those who know Jesus Christ are in a sense “Wells of salvation” –
“Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14 (KJV)
Until Jesus comes we have within us the water of everlasting life flowing from our hearts and lives because of the work of Jesus Christ on His cross.
We look forward to that day when Israel will look upon Him whom they have pierced and be saved. We are delighted, full of excitement, when one lost sheep comes into the fold of our Lord.
There will be singing in that glorious day. Let everyday of your life be a musical. Sing unto the LORD. Be that overflowing well of salvation you are called to be as a Christian.
-Tim A. Blankenship
The following is an outline of a sermon I preached in December of 2006, and posted at Wings As Eagles on December 11, 2006. I repost it here for this season of remembering His birth.
THE BIRTH FORETOLD
I. JUDAH/JERUSALEM WAS UNDER SEIGE, AND GREAT THREAT FROM THE SYRIANS WITH SUPPORT FROM EPHRAIM/ISRAEL (vv. 1-2)
II. GOD SENT ISAIAH TO AHAZ, THE GRANDSON OF UZZIAH TO COMFORT AND ENCOURAGE HIM CONCERNING THE TERRORISM AT THEIR GATES (vv. 3-7).
III. GOD’S WORDS CONCERNING THOSE WHO RISE UP AGAINST THE RIGHTEOUS REMNANT (vv. 8-9).
IV. GOD GIVES A SIGN, DESPITE THE ARROGANCE AND UNWILLINGNESS TO OBEY FROM AHAZ; OF THE GOD-MAN WHO WOULD COME BY WAY OF A VIRGIN (vv. 10-16).
I. Living In An Affluent Society As We Do; We Often Do Not Realize The Fears and Battles Which Others In the World Are Going Through; Yet, There Are Many In Our Own Country Which Suffer Due To Hideous Things, Threats, Sickness, and Other Things.
II. Some People Are Asking “Why Doesn’t God Intervene?”, and The Answer To That Is; He Has and Presently Is.
III. The Word Of God Gives Us The Way Of Life and the Way Of Faith, Comfort, Encouragement, and We All Need It In Our Lives.
IV. God Came Down and Dwelt Among Us, and He Is Still With Us.
Even though this is the Christmas season; the season, the time of the year when we remember our Lord’s birth. Those who are not suffering from delusion will readily admit that these are not pleasant times, but let’s not be disheartened, discouraged or downheartedd. Remember, Jesus, the one whose birth we celebrate is Lord over all.
Christmas is about God. It is about God sending His Son, born of a virgin, born to die for the sins of the world.
I. THESE MAY BE DAYS OF SEIGE FROM THE ENEMY AND DARK FORCES FROM EVERY SIDE, AND THESE CAN CAUSE GREAT FEAR (vv. 1-2).
A. Ahaz was surrounded by the trouble of his Sister Nation, and the Syrians, so we may be as well, surrounded by an enemy who is set to destroy us and our testimony for Christ.
B. When we are not right with God we will be fearful; if we are right with God, having our sins confessed and obeying His call and direction for our lives, then, we need not fear, nor will we be fearful.
Someone once said, “If we fear God; we need fear nothing else”.
II. GOD HAS SENT HIS MESSENGER TO GIVE US COMFORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT FOR FACING THE ENEMY WHICH TRIES SO HARD TO DETRACT US AND GET US AWAY FROM GOD AND HIS PLAN FOR OUR LIVES (vv. 3-7).
A. Every time we are afraid God sends a messenger by way of the Holy Spirit; the message is found in God’s Word.
B. God’s messenger will speak a relevant message for the time and place.
1. Notice, that God sent ‘Shearjashub’ with Isaiah as a message of comfort – his name means, “A remnant shall return”.
2. The land of Judah would not be forgotten by God – that promise is true of all those who are in the faith of the Lord Jesus.
C. The greatest messenger of all is God’s Son Jesus Christ.
The Psalmist has written, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” (Ps. 56:3). And, in verse eleven he wrote, “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”
D. Be assured; the enemy of our peace shall not prevail – Jesus Christ won the victory.
1. These “Smoking firebrands” may be hot, but they are going to burn out and burn up, and be nothing but ash.
III. GOD’S WORD IS HERE FOR OUR INSTRUCTION, REBUKE, CORRECTION, INSPIRATION, AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH TO MATURITY IN JESUS CHRIST (vv. 8-9).
A. God is in control of the matters of our lives; so let’s not let our troubles detract us from the will of God.
B. God’s Word is the means by which we can resist the lies, snares, pits, and deceit of the enemy.
1. The Word of God, with the Spirit of God gets us to the place God wants us when we hear and obey.
2. By the Word of God we know the afflictions are often, if not always, for our benefit.
“Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy Word” (Ps. 119:67).
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes” (Ps. 119:71).
C. Those who will not take heed to God and His Word will certainly be without help (v. 9b).
IV. FOR US GOD HAS GIVEN US THE SIGN OF THE GOD-MAN WHO WAS BORN OF A VIRGIN IN THE STABLE OF BETHLEHEM (vv. 10 – 16).
A. Like Ahaz, some do not want a sign from God, because it would humble them, and cause them to realize their weaknesses, and God’s strength.
B. Despite the unwillingness of some to request a sign, God has given us one anyway.
1. That sign is the birth of the God-man Jesus Christ to the virgin mother who was willing to risk her reputation, and future marriage, and possibly her own life, to bring the Son of God to earth to pay the price for the sins of mankind, and redeem us unto God.
2. That sign, even now, causes controversy in the hearts of many who profess Christ as their Savior.
C. The unwillingness does not negate the fact, though, it strengthens it.
1. He was born of the woman – a virgin – who had no seed.
2. He could not have had a human father, the sinful seed comes from the man.
3. He was born of the seed of God, thus, having no sin, and fully qualified to die for mankind’s sin and bring reconciliation between God and mankind.
D. This prophecy was fulfilled in the following verses,
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS” Matthew 1:18-25
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:1-7.
I. LOOK TO THE MESSENGER OF GOD’S WORD – AS JEREMIAH SAID, ‘THERE IS A WORD FROM THE LORD”.
II. LOOK TO THE SIGN WHICH HAS BEEN GIVEN US – THE SIGN OF HIS VIRGIN BIRTH AND THE SIGN OF HIS CROSS.
III. TRUST GOD’S WORD WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD TO GUIDE YOU, SECURE YOU, GIVE YOU PEACE IN THE MIDST OF ATTACKS AND AFFLICTION.
IV. THERE ARE ACTUALLY THREE SIGNS GOD HAS GIVEN US FOR ASSURANCE AND PEACE – 1) THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST; 2) CHRIST’S DEATH ON THE CROSS; 3) AND THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD.
V. CAN YOU TRUST SUCH A ONE AS THIS JESUS? DEFFINITELY.
-Tim A. Blankenship
In an economy which has lost many people millions of dollars for people involved in Wall Street, the stock market, investing, and housing you would think people would learn where to place their trust, but not yet; I guess. Trusting politicians; whether they be President, Congressman or woman, Senator, or dog catcher we need to constantly keep in mind that all things on this earth, of this earth are temporal or temporary; and do not endure forever.
The people of the prophet’s day were believing that the temple of Jerusalem would endure forever. Had they forgotten that it was made of earthly materials just as their own homes were made or were they vainly trusting the promises of God (Understand I mean their trust is vain; not that God’s promises are vain). In the prophet’s day the people would vainly worship God on the Sabbath day; then forget Him the other six days of the week.
The people of Judah would live for themselves. They would do their business and take advantage of the poor, the widows and orphans; and anyone else there was to take advantage of. During times of tragedy the merchants would increase prices on needed goods; and think they were doing God a service. They cheated people with weights and measures, and chalked it up to and would say, “It’s just business”. Their hearts were far away from God, godliness, and thinking Biblically. They thought rather of “business”, and making more and more.
The prophet Jeremiah tells us:
“Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.” Jeremiah 7:4 (KJV)
The prophet called by God, the door of the Temple, proclaimed to the people to “Amend your ways…” because they were going about their personal and business affairs as though they could get by with their evil deeds because God had promised that their kingdom, and the temple would be forever. Afterall they were the recipients of the word of God, the law of God, the ordinances of God; they need not worry about devotion to God or anything like that.
Lies, lies, and more lies is what the “gainsayers” were saying. “Gainsayers” could be those who are all for profit at the expense of godliness, Biblical living, and righteousness. They are out to make a profit at the expense of the public they supposedly serve. These false prophets are in the business for a profit, and to make as much profit as they possibly can, and to take advantage during times of trouble.
The prophet is calling for Judah to repent of neglecting godliness, repent of their listening to the lying words of the prophets for profit who would tell the people something like, “O, the temple will stand forever. Don’t worry about godliness, righteousness. We are sure and secure in the temple.” Lies, lies and more lies, and the people were perishing, headed for a captivity that would last for 70 years, and destroy the city of Jerusalem, and the temple.
Professing Christians, and deceived-sidetracked Christians of 2009, especially here in the USA can be found trusting in what we call capitalism. Capitalism is about profit; and the businesses of our country are in business to make a profit. There is nothing wrong with making profit; except when it begins to hurt others. When a profit making business does not pass its profits to its employees through bonuses, raises in wages, etc; or when they begin to raise their prices to make it hard or impossible for the poor, widow, orphan or lower wage earner to have a needed product they have become ungodly, and even greedy. Greed is not good. It may be American, but I personally want no part of greed.
Greed is officially taking trust away from God, His Word, and His ordinances, and putting trust in the power [seeming power] of wealth. Just as the people of Jeremiah’s day were trusting in the temple, because of the promise of God, they had made His promises vain by neglecting the right and godly things; trusting in the lies of the lying prophets. They did not amend their ways and ended up in captivity.
If the USA, and especially Christians, fail to amend her ways we too shall fall. We have received warning. We have fallen in status of world leadership to a small extent; but that will become greater. We are in captivity of sorts. Many are in captivity to debt.
The proper place to put our trust is in the Lord our God, the one who died for our sins on the cross of calvary, was buried, and rose again from the grave. He is coming again. Put your trust in Him. “Whosoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”. He is your RIGHTFUL TRUST.
-Tim A. Blankenship
In the world of 2009 there are many who desire “New Thought”, or I believe some are called “New Progressives” who desire new thought concerning life, life issues, religion, government, politics, news, family, law, or whatever. However, it appears to me that there is nothing that is new under the sun. I know of a man who told us that, and wrote about thousands of years ago. He is known as the wisest of men who ever walked on earth. His name was Solomon. His words were, “There is nothing new under the sun”.
As I read the prophet Jeremiah, and the other prophets I see nothing new in today’s world. People are still people; desiring their own way, turning from God’s way, and yet there are those who profess to be God’s people, even Christian, who will tell us we have to change to get people’s attention. How do we change? What do we change? Are we to change the message of God’s Word. God remains the same. His message remains the same. If we change it we become liars, and liars have no part with God, nor His kingdom.
Hear the prophet –
“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV)
The “Old paths” of which Jeremiah speaks of of walking with God. Walking with God means being in agreement with God. The people of the prophet’s day were attempting to worship YaHWeH on the Sabbath day, and worship their way of life, or other gods the other six days of the week. They had abandoned the “old paths” by doing so, and the prophet was trying to call the people back to God; to repentance.
At first the attempt was to call them to repentance to prevent their captivity; however when the captivity became inevitable then, for repentance, that they might learn to live for God in captivity and be a witness to the foreign government to which they were going. The people needed rest for their souls due to their torment.
People in the United States of America are living tormented lives due to failing health, failing finances, unemployment, or threats of unemployment; and many family issues. People of the world need rest for their souls. Many are seeking rest through yoga, meditations, even prayer, yet rest doesn’t come. The “old paths” or “the good way” is not found in these things. The “old paths” are found only in following the dictates of God’s law. The “good way” is only in God’s way.
The prophet’s call is “Stand in the ways and see…” The “good way” is in the “old paths”, and this is found only in the Living Word of God; that is the person of His Son. Rather than accepting God’s way, the “old paths” and living “the good way” people still seek the “New thought” of helping themselves, following the paths of false religion found in yoga, meditations, and even in prayers. Understand me when I mention meditations and prayer. Meditating upon God’s Word, hearing God speak through His Word is good; and that is good meditation; anything else is devilish thought. Genuine heart prayer, seeking God’s will, understanding of His word, gaining wisdom from God, and seeking His direction and glory is expected of us. The prayer I refer to is the reading of prayer, rosary, planned recitations, which are filled with religious and pious thought, but no connection to heaven.
The sort of meditation and prayer which allows you to consort with godlessness while supposedly maintaining a relationship with God is fruitless for God and His glory. That is what the world, Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s day was doing. That is what many of today’s world is doing as well. While wanting something new they follow the paths of the old rebels, rather than the “old paths” which we should follow in Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God.
The answer of the people to the prophet in that day was; “We will not walk therein”. If we choose to walk with the world, and take on their garments, we destroy our witness, our testimony of newness of life through Jesus Christ. We must put off the old man of flesh and sin; and put on the new man of life eternal (Ephesians 4:20-25); and also put away lying. The lying is done by confessing faith in Christ while also maintaining a life which is no different from the condemned and dying in sin.
I ask again, “Is anything really new?”
-Tim A. Blankenship
Being told that the word God gives you is going to be as fire and the people to who you speak as the wood would be a very serious thing. This is what has happened to Jeremiah. In verse 14 of chapter five Jeremiah is told just that; “…I will make My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.”
The weeping prophet I am pretty sure would have been weeping, sorrowing over these words. He had probably been weeping over the spiritual condition of His people. Their spiritual and moral condition was not good. They had an impending threat against them which they were oblivious of.
It is amazing how in a blessed society, of any age, or time how people begin wandering away from the One who has blessed them and begin attributing their blessings to human ability, or human achievements, or maybe even a religion of sorts, and their “faithfulness” to perform their rituals at the expense of truth and faithfulness to the One who has called for their faithfulness. Those things are what had happened in Judah, Jerusalem.
These things have happened in the world today in nations who once knew God, but have turned away from him. When they have done so they progressively become prone to dismissing evil actions as being good. Many of them will claim a rich history of faith, but have none now. It is a very sad thing when our Creator must speak words of judgment against us to call us back to Himself.
Hear the words of God to the prophet –
“Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the LORD: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say. Their quiver is as an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men. And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword. Nevertheless in those days, saith the LORD, I will not make a full end with you. And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the LORD our God all these things unto us? then shalt thou answer them, Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours. Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying, Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not: Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it? But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone. Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest. Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you. For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich. They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” Jeremiah 5:15-31 (KJV)
The LORD will not leave sin in the midst of those who profess His name. He will deal with those sins that offend Him. Those things which offend Him seem not to offend wayward people. Forsaking Him is the one thing that many seem to be doing today. It is, however, wonderful to know that there are many who are also coming to Him, and many who are faithful to Him. What is your relationship with the LORD today? How is your fellowship with the LORD today?
The prophet is being told that an army is coming which will destroy the nation, the temple, the way of life that they have grown so comfortable with, and yet so lax in sin. They have presented themselves as a godly people without worshipping God. They have turned their backs on fellowship with God.
Fellowship with God comes through faith in Christ Jesus. Fellowship with God is walking with Him. The prophet Amos asked the question, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3) That simply means that to walk with God we must walk in agreement with Him. You aren’t walking with Him when you aren’t walking obediently.
In the middle of this Scripture we do find a promise. It is this, “Nevertheless, in those days, saith the LORD, I will not make a full end with you.” (v. 18). Even with judgment lurking at the door; they have the promise of God that He is not finished with His people.
I have said it before, and believe it to be a quote from Charles H. Spurgeon that, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”. When we sin against Him the Holy Spirit within us will afflict us, make us very uncomfortable with our sin, and bring us back to Him. We cannot dwell/live with sin in our lives. To live with sin in our lives, and remain unconvicted, unrepentant, and unmoved would say quite loudly that we are not His. When we are His God will do whatever is necessary to bring us back into fellowship with Himself; even to the point of taking our wealth, our health, our family, our friends, or our freedom.
This is how the LORD worked in Judah and Israel. This is also how He can and does work in the lives of Christians. He is the One who is holy, righteous, and undefiled; and He will have His people to be holy, righteous and undefiled as well. When He speaks we better listen and obey.
How did Judah and Jerusalem end up with this looming threat over their heads? Verses 30 and 31 tell us; “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, the priest bear rule by their means; and My people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?”
People turning their backs on God because the prophet (preacher) and the priests (the spiritual leaders) do not proclaim the word of the LORD, but their own visions, dreams, hopes [empty] and desires. They have wanted a following for themselves rather than a holy people for God. They have feared the people rather than God.
Within Christianity every child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, His death, burial and resurrection; is a priest of God. We all have access to the very throne of grace, before the face of God. When we fail to have personal time before the throne we fail God, and the people we are witnesses to.
I wonder sometimes just how many churches and pastors there are in our country and the world who actually proclaims the word of God in the language of the people, from the throne of grace? By our silence of God’s word we condemn the people. We don’t help them with a message of prosperity, self helps, and or self praise. The word of God is what is needed in today’s world.
-Tim A. Blankenship
The prophet has given a very solemn, and somewhat discouraging words. The ministry of the prophet of God is to speak the truth of God’s Word, no matter to whom they are speaking.
When one is called by God to proclaim the Word of God it is to God, and to God alone that we are held accountable. Isaiah knew this and he never withheld a word. He warned the laid back, at ease people of Zion that, though they had it made at that present time there was judgment coming from Assyria, the Chaldeans, the Babylonians; that they would be taken into captivity, and then he also let them know that God would lead some – a remnant – back to their blessed land.
This prophecy is given at least 100 years before it would take place. Isaiah would not live to see it happen. We know from the records of Ezra, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Daniel that it did come to pass just as Isaiah had said.
As we journey through the Scriptures reading, meditating upon them, learning, we find that there are many times God is not pleased with Israel. They are divided into a Northern kingdom called Israel, Ephraim; and into a Southern kingdom called Judah, and this was an act of chastisement from God for their departure from the way of David, and overtaxing of the people. They were often afflicted by surrounding enemies, because they turned their back on God. Of all the kings named in the Northern kingdom there is not one of whom it is said, that he “did right in the eyes of the LORD”.
When God’s people turn their backs on God, His Word, His prophets and begin to hate and kill His prophets, and despise the way of God, then God will send judgment to chastise His people. With Israel (both Northern and Southern kingdoms) they would go into captivity, and Jeremiah the prophet says it would be for a period of seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11, 12; 29:10). After that seventy years are accomplished God would allow a “Remnant” to return to the land.
There are many who have given up on the nation of Israel today. Some say, “God is through with Israel as a nation”. One national ruler says, “We will destroy Israel”. At this time this man’s “kingdom” is in jeopardy due to charges of an unfair election process. The kingdoms of men fall. None of these things said by such rulers are so, nor will they come to pass. God has not given up on Israel. He still has a remnant who will one day call on the name of the One whom “they have pierced”, and call Him Lord, and the kingdom of David will be forever established with Jesus Christ as King.
Where the nation has trusted many times upon their captors, their “protectors” – such as those who are siding with Israel today; though their protection is like whitewash – they [Israel] will come to a place their hope and stay [trust] will be upon the LORD alone. Israel’s only protection is the LORD. Your protection; also mine is the LORD of hosts.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.” Isaiah 10:20-23 (KJV)
Paul the apostle writes of the promises and hope of Israel in Romans 9-11, and there he tells us, “All Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). Let us all pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), remembering that the only true and lasting peace will come when the Prince of Peace comes and sits on His throne in Jerusalem, and His name is Jesus.
-Tim A. Blankenship
God has spoken of grace and mercy to His people, and they have refused it. The prophet ever faithful to proclaim the truth of God’s Word to those people must surely grow frustrated. The prophet has told them of a light that is coming (9:2), he has told them of a Child that will be born, and His name will be called Immanuel (7:14), and yet there is no repentance; no returning to God
God is preparing to send judgment upon the nation of Judah and Israel; it seems in small doses at first, then what ever is needed. There are some who have a problem with the thought of “God pursuing His people”, but it seems to me that that is exactly what He does.
God is angry with sin. He hates sin. Not only does sin distract from the glory of God, but it also breaks fellowship between God and His people. Those who think that God does not judge sin does not know the God of the Bible. He will accomplish His purposes and fulfill His glory.
In chapter nine of Isaiah the following words are written three times, and one time in chapter ten:
“For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still.” Isaiah 9:12,17, 21 and 10:4 (NKJV).
The LORD will perform His Word. There will be nothing left undone which God has spoken. His anger will not be turned away until the people of God find their rest, peace, hope, and faith in Him (See chapter 12 of Isaiah).
God is never glorified by the sin of His people, but He will be glorified as He exposes it, judges it, and purges it from the lives of His people. The people of God should never reach a state of mind, or heart where they think they have gotten away with sin. The man Moses, inspired by God’s Spirit wrote, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
We are told in the Psalms, “God is angry with the wicked everyday” (Psalm 7:11). The wicked would be those who hear the Word of God spoken by the prophets, and the written word, refuse to hear it, refuse to obey, and refuse to follow the way of God. Does God get angry with His people? He gets angry with our sin, and He judges it.
“…But His hand is stretched out still” is a part of the verse that is somewhat mysterious. Jabez prayed, “…That Thine hand might be with me…” (1 Chronicles 4:10). The hand of God can be good or it can be bad. I would prefer His hand be good toward me. That hand of God can be used for gentle nudgings in the right direction, steering away from a wrong direction. That hand can be for a comforting, encouraging touch. The prophet mentions later in his writing “…I the shadow of His hand hath He hid me…” (49:2). That is a great place to be. That hand could be used for a good whipping for discipline, chastisement, and/or punishment.
I see in the statement, “God’s anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still”, that God will continue to be angry with their sin, and He will continue to judge it; His hand is stretched out in judgment even as Isaiah speaks and writes, even as I write today; and His hand is stretched out with an open palm, as an invitation to return to Him.
Why do God’s people continue in sin when they know God’s hand is judging, yet He has an open palm to take you back into His fellowship; and He will love you and nourish you and give you strength.
As long as you have breath to breathe, God’s hand is stretched out to you. To those who have never received God’s grace through His Son Jesus Christ that invitation is to believe in Him who died, was buried and rose again for your justification. Justification simply means that through the sacrifice of Jesus you are declared Just by God Himself.
Will you continue in your sin, or will you believe, repent, and be saved? God has given you the choice to make. Choose Jesus. The hand stretched out.
-Tim A. Blankenship
The people of Israel, including the Southern kingdom of Judah and Zebulun, Naphtali, and Galilee were a people who had been given great light. The light had shined brightly upon them when they were delivered from Egypt. They walked out of their captivity with great wealth given to them by their captors practically begging them to leave, and they left with payment for the 430 years of labor they had performed for the nation in which they had once found solace, food, and a home.
After their departure from Egypt they found themselves wandering in the desert, guided by the Pillar of Cloud by day, and the Pillar of Fire by night; which was the LORD God. There were times that the Fire took up the rear guard, and protected them from enemy assault. They had witnessed the power of God parting the Red Sea, and they crossed over it on dry land, and after safely crossing the walls of water came together crushing the Egyptian army which was pursuing them through the divide. After questioning God’s provision of the Promised Land, and its being the land of milk and honey, they took the advice of 10 men they had sent to survey the land, and had told them, “We can’t do it. There are giants in the land, and we are as grasshoppers in their sight” (Read Numbers 13). Then, because of their unbelief the whole nation, is condemned to wander through the desert for 40 years. Why? God had delivered the children of Israel from Egypt in a matter of a few days; He would take forty years to get Egypt out of Israel.
When the forty years were accomplished, they then, stood on the banks of the Jordan River, crossed over just as God told them, trusted the LORD God, and He gave them the land. However, their faith was not perfect. After many years of failing, and trusting; and trusting and failing, they found themselves separated from the land, and in the throes of enemy bondage, and that is the place they really find themselves to this day having never fully returned to their God given lands. Yes! There is a nation of Israel, but they are still dominated by Gentile rule (United Nations, and the United States of America).
They are a people to whom God gave a great light, and that light went dim, and even went out, at the least, covered by the ashes of the fire. Underneath there is a hot coal, waiting for the fuel to spring to life. O, how sad it is for a people who had light to find themselves in darkness. There is hope for the nation.
Hear the Word of God through the prophet Isaiah –
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2 (KJV)
Back in the land following the return from Babylonian captivity to the Roman invasion, they are a land still in darkness until One who came gave them the Light. The Light shined so brightly that they were blinded by His glory. It was one of those cases where they “could not see the forest for the trees.” All they had to do was listen, and receive the message which He proclaimed, but many refused, and even crucified the Light; thinking they had done God a service. Thus the nation remained and still remains in darkness.
Isaiah presents this prophecy as though it has already happened. Why does he do this? First of all because what ever God says will happen; will happen just as He has said, and in the way He has said. Not one word He has spoken will return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11). He will accomplish what He pleases. The prophet has not only given promise of the Savior coming, but there is promise of Him coming again in the verses which follow.
Matthew quotes these verses (1 & 2) as being prophecies of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 4:13-15.
With the power of Christ waning in many professing the name of Jesus would it not be a safe say that the power is fading because the light that shines is growing dim. Jesus told the Church at Ephesus, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Revelation 2:5 (KJV) Any church or professing Christian leader needs desperately to stand and demonstrate their love for Jesus Christ, His Word, His Church, and the Gospel of Christ.
We have been given great Light. However, if we give in to our culture, its pluralism, and begin speaking politically correct to win the hearts of the enemy of God, then, we become Biblically corrupt; and spiritually bankrupt, with no message that will convert a condemned people. When we do that the light has gone out. The salt is good for nothing but to be trampled under the feet of men (Matthew 5:13)
We were in darkness at one time, but we have the great Light of Christ. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”, Jesus said. We are told to let the light shine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that multitudes are going to notice, and surrender to God’s will for their lives.
The way the light continues to burn is by continually adding good fuel to the fire. The fuel is works of the Spirit of God — the reading and diligent study of God’s Word, fervent prayer, and an obedient life committed to the way of the Lord; done through the faith in Christ Jesus and His finished work on the cross.
Today is the greatest day to let your light shine, and the Light of Jesus Christ in us is the Light in the darkness of this world.
-Tim A. Blankenship
There are many people in this world who are living in darkness. In January of 2007, and December of that same year in the cities and counties surrounding the place I live, there had been ice storms which caused trees to fall, tree limbs to snap and fall onto power lines; and because of that thousands and thousands of homes, businesses, people were left without light and heat. These events happened again this past Winter (2009) in most of Northern Arkansas, and other areas. This type of darkness comes to an end by renewing electrical power. Sadly there were some who died as a result of these trials and icy circumstances.
There is, however, an even icier situation going on in the world. It is a situation where light is available, but no one wants it. Many turn cold-heartedly away from the truth of light and darkness, and choose the darkness and cold rather than sight and warmth. There is an answer to the distress of many people, and it can be found in the truth and light of the Word of God.
Hear the word of the Prophet:
“Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.” Isaiah 9:1 (KJV)
This, of course, is the beginning of a prophetic statement of One who will come and bring light to these two tribes who at a time before had been in great darkness. The MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE notes on this verse, “Zebulun…Naphtali…Galilee. Zebulun and Naphtali on the northern border in NE Galilee W of the Jordan River were the first to suffer from the invasion by the Assyrian king (2 Kin. 15:29), marking the beginning of dark days for Israel.” p. 968. The whole northern kingdom of Israel had been wicked from their beginning, turned away from God set up golden calves as idols for their gods in the cities of Bethel and Dan, and were plunged into darkness. They needed light, and they would receive light.
Zebulun and Naphtali may have been the first to experience the conquering power of the Assyrian king, but they would also be the first to experience the Light that was coming into the world. If you will remember, Galilee is the place our Lord Jesus was raised by a godly mother and a man who taught Him as though he were His father.
When you realize you are in darkness it is time to call the power company, inform them of your plight, and then they will come and help you. In the case of spiritual darkness you must first realize your spiritual darkness, and eternal plight, call on the Lord of Light who is Jesus Christ of whom the prophet preaches, and He will give you light.
The people in Springfield, Missouri; Joplin, Missouri; Harrison, Arkansas; Green Forrest, Arkansas, and surrounding cities, and counties eventually got their power back, had light, had heat, and were glad to get back into a warm bed at night and wake the next morning to a warm home. This thing called “electricity” is a wonderful thing for giving light to darkness, and heat to warm the cold, and cool the heat of a hot Summer day. It does nothing however for eternity. It is the greatest thing in the world to awake everyday in the Light of Jesus Christ, and know that your whole life is in His light, and that the power of eternity and eternal life is His.
-Tim A. Blankenship
I find it fruitless to discuss with some (especially those who have “left Christianity”) the elements of Christianity. If they had truly ever known Jesus Christ there would be no way they would leave. The people are still longing, looking for fulfillment, even though they say they have found it. Instead have become instruments of Satan; destroyers of that which is of God; and never destroying that which is godly. They are looking to their families for fulfillment. Maybe their jobs or careers, and yet they have no peace within. The only place for genuine peace is with God.
Hear the Word of God through the prophet:
“Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.” Isaiah 8:18-22 (KJV)
Why is it that a people of God would turn against Him, such as has been brought to our attention by Isaiah, and the other prophets. In the first place they have taken their eyes off Him and put them in the material. These mentioned in the verses above find more pleasure in going to the “Mediums and the necromancers”. All they get from them are the same you get from them today. Words that could fit anybody anywhere in the world.
There are television programs on the air now espousing the doctrines of speaking with the dead [necromancers and mediums]. You have the show “Medium”, and “Ghost Whisperer”. I have not seen either one of them. I will not watch them. They have no value whatever to a child of God; but then, there are not many TV shows that do. These are tools of the enemy of God; who is also the enemy of mankind, and who is seeking to destroy mankind, but knows his time is short.
If what the mediums and necromancers speak does not agree with God’s Word, then, you can know it is not of God and that there is no light in them. How is it that the popular atheistic authors are writing against something that does not exist [according to their thinking]. My question is how do you fight against a non-existent being. That sounds like an oxymoronic thought to me. They are not speaking according to the Word of the Lord. They are looking to the same things of the mediums and necromancers, trusting the same things, and the same person.
The people who have turned their back on God through their prideful heads [“turning their faces upward”] into the air as to say, “I will have it my way”. They do not believe God nor His prophet, and they will face the judgment coming looking to the things of earth, and they will fail them, and receive distress, darkness, the gloom of anguish, and, “they will be driven into darkness” (NKJV).
I used to believe that those who have rebelled against God will have their eyes opened in hell, but too late. I have changed that belief to be that even while they cursed and rebelled against God while living in earth, they will go through eternity cursing God, and all through the time of their eternal suffering. May eyes be opened and people come to faith in YHWH through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ the eternal God-man, Son of God.
-Tim A. Blankenship