Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Foundations of the Earth to Shake - Isaiah 24

As we come to chapter 24, Isaiah’s message, though directed to the people of Judah, seems to reach out to embrace the whole earth. He describes this as a time in which the land of Judah/earth appears to be empty since so many have been killed. The land has been destroyed to the point that the earth appears to have been turned upside down. Verse 6 declares that the “inhabitants of the earth are burned.” Again, in this nuclear age that phrase brings up frightening visions.

Verse 18 indicates that there will be no escaping the horror of this destruction for those living on planet earth at that time.

“And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake.”

This judgment will involve the forces of nature (as discussed in a previous post)—probably hail and earthquakes. Verses 19-20 paint a very specific picture of what is happening.

“The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.”

Verse 21 seems to indicate that this time of judgment on planet earth will also result in punishment and defeat of the spiritual forces of evil, Satan and his demonic forces.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.”

The chapter concludes with Jesus on the throne in Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Point is made that His glory will put the sun to shame. This ties directly to the prophecy of John in Revelation 21:23:

“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”

I thought it was also interesting that the prophecy made a point of stating that the “ancients” will take pleasure in seeing the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom in great glory. Though the Hebrew does not specify, I believe this is a reference to the ancient fathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.—all those listed in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11 of whom it was said: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them….”

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Christian Nation of Egypt - Isaiah 19

I think we should take time to note that the once mighty nation of Egypt was prophesied to become a base kingdom in chapter 19. In verse 17 of that chapter we read Isaiah’s prophecy that “the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt.” I think we have seen foreshadowing of that very prophecy being fulfilled in the past 60 years through the miraculous defeats Egypt has suffered in their attempts to destroy the nation of Israel.

In verse 19 we read that Egypt will one day cry out to God for a savior and He will deliver them, and they will “know the LORD” and worship Him in obedience. Considering that Egypt is a Muslim nation, that seems quite improbable from today’s viewpoint. In fact, the chapter closes declaring that Egypt and Assyria will form an alliance with Israel. It would seem that they will have a special place of blessing in Messiah’s kingdom according to the word of the Lord in verse 25, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Destruction of the King of Babylon - Isaiah 14

Chapter 14 is a continuation of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Babylon. It begins with a prophecy that declares that Israel will one day “rule over their oppressors.” That certainly seems like a pipe dream today.

The prophet then directs his attention to the “king” of Babylon. He declares that God will destroy his wicked kingdom. In my study of this section I got the distinct impression that the reference was to Satan in possession of Antichrist. When God removes this king from power, “The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.” (verse 7) This sounds like the time that Jesus assumes His throne and does away with war and fighting as described in previous posts.

The next section describes the response of those in Hades when this king joins the ranks of the wicked dead. While on earth, He seemed invincible; in death he was revealed to be nothing more than an evil man as stated in verse 16, “Is this the man that made the earth to tremble?” The prophet even singles out Lucifer, one of the names of Satan, as the evil source of power that weakened the nations by leading them further and further into sin in an attempt to accomplish his goal. In the pride of his heart he actually thought he could overthrow God’s kingdom.

Evidently Satan’s final attempt to prevent the Lord from establishing His kingdom on earth will be set in motion from his stronghold in Babylon, the place where he first worked through evil men to establish false religion and reject their Creator. God declares that He will destroy all those who have joined with Satan’s forces and ensure that “they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.”

This section closes with a statement of the surety of God’s word. Verse 27, “For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?”

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Picture of Grace

Music is truly the language of the soul. My heart is always moved by the words of beautiful worship music. As I was listening to some of my favorites last night, I was touched anew by the words of one song, A Picture of Grace, sung by the Gaither Quartet. Some of those words follow.

How skillful the hands of the artist
Who painted this picture of me.
He saw with the eyes of a Master
How beautiful my life could be.

Where once was a portrait of gloom and despair,
This masterpiece hangs in its place.
It's signed with His blood and it’s framed with His glory,
This beautiful picture of Grace.

The ashes and ruin that once filled the picture
Had vanished and faded from view.
And beautiful touches of mercy adorned
This picture he painted anew.

Such peace filled the eyes of the man He created;
A smile gently rests on his face.
Since Jesus erased all the guilt of my past
And painted this picture of grace.

As I thought about my life, I realized that God has and still is truly working a miracle of grace. How and why is that possible, why am I so blessed? It’s because He loved me so much that He willingly gave His Son who willingly endured the cross in judgment for my sin.

It’s easy to gloss over all that the cross represents. All the physical pain He endured is what is most often emphasized when that section of scripture is taught. I don’t want to minimize the sacrifice and love that His endurance of such pain pictures—but that wasn’t the worst of His suffering. The worst of His suffering came when He bore the wrath and judgment of His Father in my place—in judgment of my sin. He was forsaken by the Father for the first and only time ever. I know that I yet have only a tiny bit of understanding of the suffering that caused the Lord. Yet, He looked beyond all that and saw you and me. He saw victory over sin and death. He saw His Father glorified in His submission and obedience. He saw Himself glorified by His Father.

May you be blessed anew by the value of that gift. It is priceless. It means eternal life for those who choose to accept it. All He asks is that we show our love to Him through submission and obedience. The gift is free, but those who understand its value can’t help but respond in love to the Savior.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Judgment of Babylon - Isaiah 13

As we reach chapter 13, we encounter one of the major prophetic sections in scripture regarding Babylon. The time being referenced is identified as a time when “the kingdoms of nations are gathered together” to do God’s bidding in destroying the land. These forces are identified as coming from far away—“the end of heaven.” This is not an accurate description of the takeover of Babylon by the Medo-Persians in 539 BC; and as we read on in the chapter, it appears to be referencing a time yet future.

In light of the coming attack, the people of the land will be overcome with fear and will experience agony that is compared to that of a woman in childbirth. Verse 8 even describes them as having “flaming faces.” This description carries a bit more significance in this day of nuclear weaponry.

In verse 10 reference is made to the lights in heaven being darkened. This seems to make a direct correlation between Isaiah’s revelation and that of the Apostle John in the book of Revelation regarding the seal and trumpet judgments. Verse 11 implies that the destruction of Babylon will have worldwide repercussions and is a direct judgment against its evil and pride. This would indicate that at this time of judgment Babylon possesses great influence on the worldwide stage.

In verses 12-13 the implication is that the attack that results in Babylon’s destruction is part of a much bigger conflict among the nations. God even declares His intent to take part by causing an earthquake so great that the earth “removes out of her place.” Again, this coincides with revelation that was given to the Apostle John.

The closing verses of the chapter describe the violent, wicked deeds that men will do to one another. The final result—“And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.” This is obviously not true of Babylon today and must be referencing a destruction yet to come.

Obviously, I don’t think that God is the author of man’s evil actions against others. I do, however, believe that in His omniscience God developed His plan to utilize many (if not all) of these actions for His purposes. As I have stated previously, in my mind this is just another amazing demonstration of God’s power and authority. His plan has taken into account the actions of billions of people over thousands of years—and it was established before the foundation of the world.

As a side note, it is always interesting to me how people are so quick to jump on anyone who alludes to the possibility of God as the cause of any type of natural disaster, such as an earthquake, in an act of judgment upon sin when the scripture is clear in stating that God has done so since the beginning of creation. Why would He all of a sudden take total hands off? The problem is that our thinking is so grounded in the world that most of us don’t know how to begin to look at things from His perspective. God is much more concerned about our spiritual well being than our material well being; He is focused on our eternal destiny. There is a section in Job worth considering at this point; I liked the phrasing from The Complete Jewish Bible.

Job 37:5-13 “God thunders wonderfully with His voice, He does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth!’ — likewise to the light rain, also to the downpour. He brings all human activity to a stop, so that everyone He has made can know it. Then the animals go into their lairs and hibernate in their dens. “Out of its chamber comes the storm, with cold out of the north. By the breath of God, ice is given, and the wide waters freeze over. He weighs the clouds down with moisture, and they flash forth His lightning. He, by his plans, turns them around, so they do what He commands them anywhere on earth; He brings them forth on the earth sometimes to punish, sometimes to express His grace.

As The Creator, we have no right to question His judgment or His methods. Everything He does is right and good. Consider the following words from the prophet Daniel.

Daniel 9:13-14 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.

In these verses Daniel is praying for His people and is acknowledging that they deserved God’s judgment. Therein lies the main problem for most people in considering the possibility of God’s hand of judgment regarding some events on planet earth. They do not recognize that they are deserving of judgment. The first words out of the mouths of many concern “the innocent” who suffered. This projects a pious spirit and assumes that such action by God would be unrighteous. In reality God is trying to get the attention of His creation. He is a God of love and exhibits great longsuffering before exercising judgment. The Apostle Peter tells us clearly that God’s heart is for all men to repent and be saved.

2Pet. 3:9 ¶ The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The prophet Jeremiah shared God’s heart clearly in a message to the people of Israel. God deals with nations as well as individuals.

Jeremiah 18:7-10 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

Scripture is full of examples of God’s actions for and against individuals, cities, nations and kingdoms in accordance with His purposes.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A World at Peace - Isaiah 11

Next we turn to Isaiah 11. This chapter begins with a prophecy concerning a descendant of Jesse, the father of Israel’s King David, who will be a future King in Israel.

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD….”

This future King will not rely on what He sees or hears to judge among the people. Our eyes and our ears can deceive us. He will possess the understanding and righteousness of God and will rule accordingly.

His kingdom will be unlike any other this earth has ever known. Even the animals will live at peace with one another—wolf and lamb, leopard and goat, young lion and calf, cow and bear. Indication is that all animals will feed on vegetation. Children will be able to treat these animals like pets, and babies will even be safe among the poisonous snakes. God declares through the prophet that “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord,” and hurt and destruction will not be allowed.

The prophet goes on to foretell that His kingdom will include the Gentile nations; in other words, He will rule the world. All the people of the twelve tribes of Israel, however, will be brought home to live in Israel as a united nation.

Isaiah 11:11-12 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Eternal Kingdom - Isaiah 9

The next section I want to address is found in Isaiah 9:6-7.

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."

In these two verses both the birth of Messiah and His establishment on the throne of David as ruler of an everlasting kingdom are foretold.

Once Jesus assumes His throne on planet earth, He will never relinquish it. There will be no elections to choose a successor. These verses describe His kingdom as ordered (stable, prosperous, and perfect from the Hebrew). Its foundation and constitution will never be subject to amendment. It will be perfect from the beginning, and sin will not be tolerated.

Rev. 19:15-16 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

God’s kingdom will continue for eternity—time without end. How will this be accomplished? By God’s zeal, His jealousy; He will not share His authority with another.

Is. 42:8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another….

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Calling Evil Good and Good Evil - Isaiah 5

As I came to chapter 5, I felt compelled to make reference to verses 18-23:

"Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope: That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it! Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!"

Although in context, they are spoken in reference to the people of Judah, they express God’s heart in response to the sin of His people in any nation. He first denounces those whose lives are so bound up in evil it is like they are being held to their sin by a strong rope. They have gotten to the point that they call evil good and good evil. The comparison to today’s society is growing every day. I was born in 1951. The change in what is recognized as acceptable behavior and acceptable entertainment in just that short span of time is mind boggling. It’s quite obvious that these values are getting further and further from the Christian standards upon which our nation was first founded.

The prophet next denounces those who are “wise in their own eyes”; they are proud and arrogant. It is my opinion that pride is the root of all sin. It is an attitude that declares one to be wiser than God and gives one a platform to justify his/her sin.

The last group denounced includes those who are alcoholic and those who are prone to take bribes to make judgments that let the wicked go unpunished and deny the innocent or the victim a just verdict. I think that these were grouped together because the impaired judgment caused by alcohol would make one more likely to accept a bribe. Again, this is becoming more dominant in today’s society. I would tend to think that, in America at least, more injustice has been served through the rulings of unjust judges who in their pride and their own wisdom have taken the law into their own hands to promote their own purposes than has resulted from alcohol and bribery.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Prophecies from Isaiah

In the next set of blogs I will look at prophecies from the prophet Isaiah. We have already addressed his prophecy concerning the city of Damascus, but he has much more to say regarding the “last days.” Instead of trying to put all the scripture together regarding a given subject, I am going to go through the book of Isaiah and comment on some of the prophetic sections in the order they are recorded.

In chapter 2 Isaiah is given a revelation from God about Judah and Jerusalem. In context, the reference to the “last days” in this revelation pertains to the millennium, the time when Jesus sits on David’s throne to rule the earth for 1000 years after defeating the forces of evil at the final battle of Armageddon. He gets a vision of the temple on Mt. Zion. There is a big difference regarding the use of this temple, however. Not only will the Jews worship there, people from all nations will come there to worship.

Isaiah also tells us that the Lord will be the ultimate political authority on earth. He will establish law and serve as judge among the nations. He will not allow nations to go to war—in fact, He will see that weapons of war are destroyed. In today’s terminology He will rule as Dictator of the world, but He will be very unlike any dictator this world has ever known. He will rule with complete righteousness and holiness. In today’s media He would be tagged as infringing upon the rights of individuals, intolerant and very politically incorrect.

Friday, July 4, 2008

My Part in God's Prophetic Puzzle

It's so good to finally be back home! The past few weeks were spent making many new family memories, but I also found time to read Joel Rosenberg's very disturbing yet believable series of books. I was reminded again of the truth that "all that the Father gives to Me [Jesus] shall come to Me" (John 6:37). In other words, not one person is going to miss out on salvation whom God in His foreknowledge has predestined to be part of His family. It is this truth that frees me to eagerly pray for Jesus to return and take us home. I know that my prayer will not be answered until each lamb is in the fold. I don't have to worry about someone I love "missing out" because of my prayer.

I was also reminded of the truth that every child of God is supernaturally protected until he/she has completed his piece of the massive prophetic puzzle that began being pieced together in Eden. Some people have pieces to complete that make up the primary parts of the picture and their positions are more obvious. Others of us have pieces to complete that are just as necessary to the completion of the whole but are not so obvious. It is this truth that motivates me to embrace life without fear and with a sense of true purpose. My part may be small, but it has been designed just for me; and the puzzle will not be complete without it.

May these thoughts be an encouragement to you too! If you do not yet know Jesus as your Savior, please go to www.momsbiblejournal.com and click on the slideshow link on the homepage to learn about God's precious gift.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Rapture - Part 18

• Jon Courson had some interesting thoughts. In Numbers 10 we are told of two silver trumpets.

Num. 10:2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.

Silver is associated with redemption in the scripture. In Exodus 19:10→ we are told that Moses was to sanctify the people two days, and on the third day the Lord would come down on Mt. Sinai in the sight of the people. Verse 13 brings in the trumpet-- Ex. 19:13 “…when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.”

He associates the first trump with the “law, Israel and the Father.” The second, and last trump, is associated with “grace, the church and the Son.”

• Renald Showers gave some other insights in the area of trumpets. 1Corinthians 14 talks about the trumpet from a military perspective, so it would appear that thought would be continued in chapter 15. In Bible times, “when they went to war, they had a “last trump” that would be blown that would tell the fighting men, ‘Your time of fighting is over. It is time for you to go home and rest.’ A ‘last trump’ ended their time in the warfare.” Obviously, Christians are participating in spiritual warfare. “When the rapture takes place and the trumpet is blown at that time, that will be a signal to them that their part in the warfare is over…It is time for them to go home to be with the Lord and rest together with Him in heaven.”

There were also two trumpets related to guard duty. “They had a first trump that signaled when a man was to start his watch…then they had a ‘last trump’ which signaled that his time on guard duty was over and it was time for him to go home.” The comparison to the Christian is obvious.

“The fact that Paul, when he mentions the last trump, doesn’t explain to the Corinthians what he meant by that indicates that they understood what he meant by ‘the last trump.’ They were very familiar…with that terminology of ‘the last trump’ signals used for Roman soldiers, whether their fighting is done or their tour of duty on the watch is over for that day.”

The message of the prophet Hosea also included some thought-provoking verses:
Hos. 6:1 Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
Hos. 6:2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.

Using the formula one day = 1000 years, this seems to indicate that Christ will heal His people Israel after 2000 years of spiritual sickness. This leaves a lot of leeway regarding the timeframe, but we would definitely be in the third day.