Saturday, August 30, 2008

Our Great God cont. - Isaiah 45

Even more declarations from God as He declares Himself to His people.

Is. 45:9-10 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?

Striving against God, the Creator, is sure to result in woe/misery/sorrow. Isaiah is comparing men to pieces of pottery. The word picture—Can clay question the potter as to what he is making? In looking at the word for hands, the reference was to an open hand, a symbol of power. It’s like the pottery is questioning the potter regarding its worth or purpose. In reference to Cyrus, the point is being made that God can choose whomever He desires for positions of power. This, in turn, implies that He also determines who will be weaker vessels.

In his poetic style, Isaiah gives another word picture. The child has no right to question the father or the mother as to why he was born and why he is like he is. As I continue to look at this verse, maybe it is a child questioning his parents regarding the birth of another child.

In both illustrations the potter has no right to question the potter regarding his choices, nor does the child have the right to question the authority or purposes of his parents. God is obviously being referenced by both potter and parent.

Is. 45:11 Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.

God is basically saying, “Do you have the right to question Me regarding my parenting of Israel or regarding how I choose to use any person of My creation?

This is a question that comes up often in one form or another as men try to reconcile tragic or devastating events on planet earth with the concept of a loving God. In asking the question they are questioning His righteousness and His authority over His creation. In asking they are revealing their lack of understanding of the Creator just as surely as did Job. The problem is that most (in contrast to Job) refuse to humble themselves and acknowledge that God is righteous in ALL He does or allows and that He has complete authority over His creation. They cling to their own so-called wisdom and understanding in daring to question the righteousness of God.

Is. 45:12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.

The obvious answer is—No. I AM the Creator. I AM in control. I AM the authority in heaven and on earth.

Is. 45:18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

Again, emphasis is given to the fact that YHWH God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. In looking at the Hebrew for established, the phrases “provide, make provision and make ready” stood out to me. He made every provision necessary for the benefit of man because He made it to be inhabited by man.

The Hebrew for the word vain jumped out at me because of some fairly recent studies in Genesis. It is the same word used in Genesis 1:2 for the phrase “without form.”

Gen. 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void…

It means “to lie waste; a desolation (of surface), i.e. desert; figuratively, a worthless thing; adverbially, in vain:—confusion, empty place, without form, nothing, (thing of) nought, vain, vanity, waste, wilderness.” In other words, for the earth to be “without form and void” something had to have happened to bring that about; God didn’t create it that way. I believe it was the fall of Satan. (See journal on Genesis.)

Again that statement—I AM YHWH and there is no other.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Our Great God cont. - Isaiah 44

Even more declarations from God as He declares Himself to His people.

Is. 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Again, the prophet identifies YHWH as the King of Israel. He is the One who reigns in sovereign authority in Israel whether they choose to acknowledge Him or not. Again, He is identified as their Redeemer, their Deliverer, the One who will ransom them with the blood of His Son. I missed the word and the first time through. This message is from YHWH and His redeemer, Jesus the Son, the Lord of hosts; Jesus is the Commander in Chief of the armies of God. Both can identify themselves as the first and the last; Jesus identifies Himself that way four times in the book of Revelation:

Rev. 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

Rev. 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

Rev. 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

Rev. 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Again, YHWH identifies Himself as the One and Only God—there is no other. There is no room for debate in this statement; it is an absolute.

Is. 44:7 And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.

YHWH alone can bring forth witnesses to His unique ability to tell His purposes for the future and bring it to pass in just the way He foretold. No idol or false god can make that claim.

“since I appointed the ancient people” – This seems to be a statement that references the fact that God did not reveal this unique ability of His until He appointed/called out the ancient people, His chosen people who would descend through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God has often used His prophets to declare His actions concerning His nation (and/or their enemies), and history reflects the complete accuracy of His predictions.

Is. 44:8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

“from that time” = the time “since I appointed the ancient people”
“Fear ye not” – Beginning with Abraham, the man singled out by God to father the nation through which would come the Messiah, God has promised to bless His people.

Gen. 12:1-3 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

This promise was unconditional; there were no strings attached. It did not preclude, however, the need for God to chastise/punish His people when they blatantly rebelled against Him. Always the punishment came with a promise to preserve a remnant. There is coming a time in the future that Israel will no longer be rebellious, but will rejoice to live in blessing with Messiah on the throne. God’s dealings with the nation of Israel have served as a witness to the Gentile nations. His actions on behalf of His nation give proof that He is the One and Only God; there is NO OTHER. God is all-knowing, and He doesn’t know of any other “god.”

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Our Great God cont. - Isaiah 40 & 42

Even more declarations from God as He declares Himself to His people.

Is. 40:26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

The prophet encourages the people to look to the heavens and think about their Creator. Not only did He create them, He has a name for every star and every planet; He knows exactly how many there are. The heavens remain constant through the strength and force given them by the Creator. He is the Source of the laws of science and the power that sustains the universe.

Col. 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Not one heavenly body deviates from its designed path and/or purpose.

Is. 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

Again, God’s people know the answer to this question. They are being exhorted to remember the awesomeness of their God. He is everlasting—from vanishing point to vanishing point, without beginning or ending. “The LORD” is a reference to YHWH, Jehovah, the name that was significant to His relationship with Israel through His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Ex. 6:2-4 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.

Jehovah is the same God that created the heavens and the earth. He never tires or weakens. He is beyond our understanding.

Is. 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Is. 42:8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

I love this verse. YHWH is now addressing His people. It is another unequivocal statement of God as God—the One and Only. There is no other being that is His equal. This is not wrongful pride; this is just a statement of fact. It’s a statement that should strengthen our faith. Only YHWH is deserving of glory and praise.

Is. 42:9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.

This is a statement that supports the truth of the previous verse. Only God has the ability to predict the future. Every prophecy from the mouth of God has come to pass just as He has foretold. As He continues to foretell in the future (through later prophets and in the NT), they too will come to pass according to His word. The scripture is full of proofs of this declaration. History and science are full of proofs of this statement—from the declaration that the earth is round to the prophecies concerning the world empires in Daniel, to the coming of the Messiah, etc.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Our Great God cont. - Isaiah 40

More declarations from God as He declares Himself to His people.

Is. 40:21-22 Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

Verse 21 poses some questions meant to humble His people. They did know, had heard, had been told from the beginning that God is the Creator; there is no other God. I think establish would have been a better choice than sitteth in verse 22. This is a declaration from God that the earth is round; at this time, the earth was thought to be flat. From God’s perspective the people on earth are like grasshoppers, truly insignificant except for the significance that He assigns to them. God has spread out the heavens as a tent to provide a dwelling place for man. To the denial of many, I believe this is a statement that the universe was established to support the earth and its inhabitants even as it declares the awesomeness of Almighty God.

Is. 40:23-24 That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.

It is God who thwarts the purposes of rulers and leaders on earth according to His own purposes. Daniel affirms this truth:

Dan. 2:20-21 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:

Although God has given man the ability to choose and act independently, God is ever in control.

Is. 40:25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.

As I continue to read these verses, I can’t help but connect with God’s dialogue with Job. All He has to do is pose the questions to make Job understand that he should not question God’s actions. He is not capable of understanding God or of a character to question God’s righteousness or the rightness of His actions.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Our Great God - Isaiah 40

We now skip to chapter 40 and the beginning of some of my favorite scriptures in the Bible. I love to start reading in Job 38 to the end of the book and then jump over to Isaiah 40 and read through the next few chapters. It’s inspiring and faith strengthening to hear God declare His power and authority throughout His creation. Though not dealing with prophecy per se, it is important to recognize just Who these prophecies are coming from—Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, a Being without comparison. I think the scripture speaks for itself, but I will include some of the comments from my journals as I focus on selected verses. This section will take more than one post.

Is. 40:12 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?
At this point Isaiah begins to pose some interesting questions to God’s people. The content of these questions make statements of truth about God. They are intended to impress upon His people just how awesome their God is. The question is rhetorical; the answer is understood—God.

God has measured the waters of the earth in hollow of His hand (singular). Think about the quantity of water on earth; look at your own hand—staggering, unfathomable!

God measured the width of heaven with the span. This seems to be referencing heaven as the place that contains the clouds, planets, and stars. The span is a reference to the distance between the thumb and the pinkie finger when stretched to its greatest distance. Look at the sky; spread out the fingers on your hand and consider—awesome, unbelievable!

The next phrase is a little more difficult. The word measure in this phrase is yet a different Hebrew word; it seems to include an emphasis on three, such as a three-fold measure (length, width, breadth?). Just try to imagine all the dust of the earth gathered into one spot—impossible!

Most scales in biblical days operated on a system of weights and balances. Try to imagine scales large enough to weigh the hills and mountains.

This verse definitely gives a description of Someone far beyond our comprehension or understanding.

Is. 40:13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?
Another rhetorical question; the obvious answer—no one.

Is. 40:14 With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?
Isaiah seems to be repeating the previous question, but with reference to more of God’s attributes. God is the source of all counsel, instruction, judgment, knowledge, and understanding.

Is. 9:6 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.

Psa. 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

Psa. 89:14 Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

Prov. 2:6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

Friday, August 15, 2008

God's Vengeance on Behalf of Israel - Isaiah 34

I’m skipping over to Chapter 34 for this next posting. This chapter starts with God addressing His message to all nations and people on planet earth. He describes a time when He will destroy their armies, and my mind quickly connects to the campaign of Armageddon foretold in Revelation. The wording of verse 4 makes a direction connection to Revelation 6.

Is. 34:4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.

Rev. 6:13-14 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

In verse 8 the Lord explains that this time will be the day of His vengeance on the nations for their treatment of His people, the nation of Israel. It would seem that one of the first victims of God’s sword will be the land of Idumea or Edom where He has a sacrifice prepared in Bozrah, known today as Petra. I personally believe (due to enlightenment from the teaching of Arnold Fruchtenbaum) that is because the Lord will begin His defeat of the forces of Antichrist with those positioned around Petra who are threatening the preserved remnant of Israel whom God is protecting there as they await His coming to establish His kingdom. The destruction will be so thorough that man will no longer find it suitable for habitation; it will be overtaken by the wild animals.

Verse 16 is a declaration by God that His word is sure. He challenges the people to seek out His book (the Bible) and read His prophecies. He boldly declares that not one prophecy will fail—not one will be listed that is not fulfilled.

This same message is continued in chapter 35. In contrast to the destruction of the nations, the land of Israel will experience healing. She will “blossom as the rose” with abundance. When the Lord is on the throne, both man and the land will experience physical healing.

In the closing verses the Lord declares that Zion, Jerusalem, will be a place of rejoicing. The redeemed will seek to gather there for worship, and they will not have to fear the attack of the enemy on their journey. It is obvious to me that this passage is definitely one that is awaiting its mate (34:16).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Itching Ears - Isaiah 30

Chapter 30 continues with the prophet hammering home God’s message to His people. He seems to be incredulous that His people would seek help from other men/nations rather than from Him and at great expense and sacrifice to themselves. He makes a point of having Isaiah record for posterity His thoughts regarding their actions. He identifies them as rebellious liars that refuse to hear His truth to the point that they urge their spiritual leaders to speak to them with lies and deception according to what they want to hear. They don’t want to be answerable to God. I couldn’t help but think of Paul’s words to Timothy and how applicable they are to the “church” today.

2Tim. 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

God is very clear that He would prefer to be gracious and show mercy if they would but repent and turn back to Him in faith and obedience. The sad response from the people was “No,” so they would be judged accordingly. God always tempers His message of judgment with hope—They would one day come to a position of repentance and would once again experience God’s hand of blessing.

The prophet delivers a very strong statement of God’s coming vengeance upon the nations and their leader, the Assyrian, who I believe is a reference to the Antichrist because of the method God employs to accomplish His purpose as recorded in verses 30-31.

“And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones. For through the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod.”

He obviously intervenes supernaturally with a storm (from the Hebrew for scattering), an overwhelming rain or flood (from the Hebrew for tempest), and hailstones. He also specifies that the Assyrian will be defeated by the “voice of the Lord,” which corresponds specifically to John’s prophecy in Revelation.

Rev. 19:11-13 &15 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God….And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations….

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Spiritual Adultery & Hypocrisy - Isaiah 29

I think it is important to make note of Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 29 since the truths presented there are so applicable to the church today. In this chapter Isaiah is warning Jerusalem of coming judgment. By the time you get to verse 6 the reference seems to clearly reference the 70th week of Daniel, the time known as Jacob’s trouble.

“Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.”

There is no record of God intervening in the way described at the time they were conquered by Babylon. There is, however, direct connection to John’s prophecy in the Revelation.

Rev. 8:5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

Rev. 11:15 & 19 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

No one can deny the persecution of the Jewish people throughout history and the amazing determination of the gentile nations to destroy this people and their tiny nation. They will evidently think that they are finally about to accomplish their purpose when they gather at Armageddon. God boldly declares through the prophet that the result will be comparable to that of a hungry man who dreams of eating only to awaken to hunger and of a thirsty man who dreams of drinking to quench his thirst only to awaken still thirsty. This is a vivid picture to me of the attempts of Hitler to destroy the Jewish people through the Holocaust and of the surrounding nations to destroy Israel in the last 60 years of Israel’s rebirth as a nation and will once again be applicable to the armies of Antichrist in their final attack on Jerusalem.

Beginning in verse 13 the Lord declares through the prophet that His people are being judged because in spite of their vocal declarations of worship, these expressions of worship are not coming from hearts of faith and love. They were more concerned about following God’s law as taught by those in positions of spiritual leadership than in obeying and serving Him with a heart of love and devotion. These so-called spiritual leaders were perverting God’s law and His truth to suit their own purposes. Isn’t the application to the church today obvious? If Israel didn’t escape God’s hand of judgment in light of their spiritual adultery and hypocrisy, do we honestly think He will not judge the church for practicing the same sins? The Apostle Peter answers that question.

1Pet. 4:17 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?

The Lord goes on to declare through Isaiah that these spiritual impostors actually think that God isn’t aware of their actions. They seem to have no clue to understanding the sovereignty and power of their Creator. That seems to be the way today’s false teachers/prophets think. They continue in their selfish, deceitful ways while accumulating wealth at the expense of those who are needy and without discernment. They seem to have no thought of future accountability before God.

The prophet’s message goes on to declare that God will once again bring the people of Israel to a place repentance and restoration so that they will once again understand God’s law and choose to obey it. We know that will happen when they recognize the Lord as their Messiah and He establishes His earthly kingdom.

Zech. 12:9-10 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Zech. 14:9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Leviathan & the Dragon Destroyed - Isaiah 27

Chapter 27 continues in reference to “in that day,” the time of God’s punishment of the wicked on planet earth and the subsequent establishment of His kingdom. Verse 1 is a prophecy of the destruction of “leviathan that crooked serpent” and “the dragon that is in the sea.” I believe this is a reference to Satan and the Antichrist.

Rev. 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world….

Rev. 13:1-2 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

Following the judgment of these two evil beings, all Jewish people will return home to settle in Israel; and Israel will “blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit” (v6). Isaiah goes on to say that the idols of Israel will be destroyed and the people purged of their sin through a coming judgment that will precede this time of prosperity.

The chapter ends with a declaration that when Israel is gathered back into the land, her people will once again worship the Lord on Mount Zion in Jerusalem along with men of faith from other nations. This is a truth echoed by the prophets Jeremiah and Zechariah.

Jer. 3:17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.

Zech. 14:16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Rapture in Isaiah - Isaiah 26

In chapter 26 the land of Judah is described as a place that finds protection in God rather than in walls and fortifications. Isaiah goes on to speak of the peace available to those who trust in God and the destruction of those who reject Him. Verse 15 makes reference to Israel as being a nation restored after having been “removed far unto all the ends of the earth.”

When we get to verse 19 Isaiah is speaking of a time when those who have died as men/women of faith, including himself, will be resurrected to new life. In the very next verse God calls His people to enter into “thy chambers” until the Lord is through punishing the sinful inhabitants of earth. This triggered my thoughts to connect with John 14:1-3, 1Corinthians 15:52, and 1Thessalonians 4:16-17. In John 14 Jesus is telling His disciples that He is going home to the Father to prepare a place for them among His many “mansions.” In 1Corinthians 15 Paul reveals the truth that a time is coming when all people of faith, those alive at the time and those who have already died, will be changed and resurrected respectively to be clothed in their immortal bodies. In his letter to the Thessalonians Paul also clearly states that the “dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

Jack Kelley ( made another interesting observation. In the phrase “Come my people, enter thou into thy chambers,” the word come includes the idea of vanishing in the Hebrew. There are just too many interesting connections for me not to think there is reference to the rapture here.