Isaiah 1:1-27 This Could Be Our Nation Today!

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

Reflections on this reading in Isaiah:  This applies so perfectly to our nation at this time!  Lord have mercy!

 

This is the vision of Isaiah, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.  Replace the terms of Judah and Jerusalem, Israel with the US of A and sense the place we are in at this time.  Sense the impending judgment for rebelliousness and deliberate engagement in unrighteous actions according to the Word of God as stated.

“I raised and brought up children,

But they rebelled against me.

An ox knows its owner

And a donkey its master’s stall,

But Israel ( US of A) does not know,

My people do not reflect.

 

Oh, sinful nation,

A people weighed down by iniquity,

Descendants of evildoers,

Immoral children.

They have abandoned Adonai,

Spurned the Holy One of Israel,

Turned their backs on Him!

 

Where should I strike you most,

As you persist in rebelling?

The whole head (leadership) is sick,

The whole heart diseased,

From the sole of the foot to the head

There is nothing healthy,

Only wounds, bruises and festering sores

That haven’t been dressed or bandaged

Or softened up with oil.

{Is not this a description of our nation?  Sick leadership, hearts of the people failing them evidenced by an upsurge in depression and suicide, wounds and sores, lack of healing for the oppressed, homelessness rampant in our streets.}

Your land is desolate,

Your cities are burned to the ground;

Foreigners devour your land in your presence;

It’s as desolate as if overwhelmed by floods.

{We see drought, flooding, strong storms, rioting in streets, the burning and destroying of property, an influx of a people foreign to our nation unwilling to adapt to our laws}

Picking it up after a comparison with Sodom and Gomorrah:

“Why are all those sacrifices

Offered to me? Asks Adonai.

“I’m fed up with burnt offerings of rams

And the fat of fattened animals!

I get no pleasure from the blood

Of bulls, lambs and goats!

Yes, you come to appear in my presence:

But who asked you to do this,

To trample through my courtyards?

Stop bringing worthless grain offerings!

They are like disgusting incense to me!

Rosh-Hodesh, Shabbat, calling convocations—

I can’t stand evil together with your assemblies!

Everything in me hates your Rosh-Hodesh

And your festivals;

They are a burden to me—-

I’m tired of putting up with them!

 

When you spread out your hands,

I will hide my eyes from you:

No matter how much you pray,

I won’t be listening;

Because your hands are covered with blood.

{These festival were ordained by God, yet He turns away from them because the hearts of the people are not in the right place, they are in rebellion.  We have services, we have fasting and praying, we have holidays to remember and even in our worship of Him He turns from us because He says our hearts are not toward Him, it is ritual, form, tradition, public show.  Our hearts are in rebellion, following our own will.}

Wash yourselves clean!

Get your evil deeds out of my sight!

Stop doing evil, learn to do good!

Seek justice, relieve the oppressed,

Defend the orphans, plead for the widow.

 

“Come now,” says Adonai,

“let’s talk this over together.

Even if your sins are like scarlet,

They will be white as snow;

Even if they are red as crimson,

They will be like wool.

If you are willing and obedient,

You will eat the good of the land;

But if you refuse and rebel,

You will be eaten by the sword”;

For the mouth of Adonai has spoken.

{There is hope, even for the rebellious!  With the promise of redemption and forgiveness comes a requirement of turning from the evil ways, the rebellious nature, the following after self-will.}

How the faithful city has become like a whore!

Once she was filled with justice,

Righteousness lodged in her;

But now murderers!

Your silver is no longer pure,

Your wine is watered down.

Your leaders are rebels, friends of thieves.

They all love bribes and run after gifts.

They give no justice to orphans,

The widow’s complaint doesn’t catch their attention.

{Again the description fits our nation at the present time.  We are guilty of the blood of the innocent, murderers, our leadership gets fat on the bribes and gifts of the corporations, the laments of the widows of the fallen, the murdered, fall on deaf ears.}

“Therefore,” says the Lord, Adonai-Tzva’ot,

The Mighty One of Israel,

“I will free myself of my adversaries,

I will take vengeance on my enemies.

But I will cleanse your impurities as with lye

And remove all your alloyed base metal.

I will restore your judges as at first

And your advisors as at the beginning.

After that you will be called

the City of Righteousness, Faithful City.

Tziyon will be redeemed by justice;

And those in her who repent, by righteousness.

{This promise is two-fold; first the cleansing, purging of evil and then the restoration of justice and righteousness}

My prayer for my nation and fellow believers in this place: Lord have mercy!  We bow before you, we repent, we turn away from the evil allowed to exist in our land.  May we as individuals cleansed by the blood of Jesus be found righteous; may we never cease to stand in opposition to the bloodshed of the innocent, to the immoral practices of the rebellious, to the deaf ear of justice in our land.  May we go down as having stood firm on the principles taught us by God’s Word as it stands; not changing it to suit our whims and selfish ways.  Forgive our sin of self-love, create in us a new heart, a clean heart obedient to your will, O God.

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Notes on reading Exodus 25

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

taken from google images

taken from google images

It appears that God appreciates art; the details on the menorah highlight this.  I see this in the following verses:

[Exodus 25:31-40 RSV] 31 “And you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The base and the shaft of the lampstand shall be made of hammered work; its cups, its capitals, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it; 32 and there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; 33 three cups made like almonds, each with capital and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almonds, each with capital and flower, on the other branch–so for the six branches going out of the lampstand; 34 and on the lampstand itself four cups made like almonds, with their capitals and flowers, 35 and a capital of one piece with it under each pair of the six branches going out from the lampstand. 36 Their capitals and their branches shall be of one piece with it, the whole of it one piece of hammered work of pure gold. 37 And you shall make the seven lamps for it; and the lamps shall be set up so as to give light upon the space in front of it. 38 Its snuffers and their trays shall be of pure gold. 39 Of a talent of pure gold shall it be made, with all these utensils. 40 And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.

 

It appears that God appreciates gold. Note the use of gold in the lampstand. How this contrasts with those equating a plain life with holiness!  The plain, shaker-style in contrast with the ornate work of the lamp provides a picture of the soil versus the shine of metal.  We are dust and to dust we will return.  God is holy and eternal.  This clearly shines a light on the command; “walk humbly with your God.”

It would seem there are conclusions to draw from this.  So often we hear and see those among us taking something simply stated and making it into something more than what was said.  The contrast between plain and ornate might be one.  There are groups who take the ornate to the extreme in their religious furnishings and then there are those who prefer the opposite, the plain; they are those who forbid all expression of intricate design.  Is this even important? It must be in some sense because the last verse cautions the builders of the lampstand:

see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.

If we apply even these seemingly small details to our lives, how careful must we be to follow the directions given by God for our benefit, directions to live according to His will and not our own?  The principle then might be to be sure we follow God’s directions as given not our ideas of what he meant.  Think on that…

The pictures posted above are examples of an artist’s interpretation of the instructions given, maybe…  They are not the original. They are different from each other.  They do have similarities.  How do we know which is accurate?  We go to the Word of God and read the instructions given. How closely are the instructions followed?   We do the same with the instructions given to us to live according to his will.  How closely are those followed?

“walk humbly with your God.”

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Our Ways…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

Proverbs 16:7  When a man’s ways please Adonai, he makes even the man’s enemies be at peace with him.

In this verse what is meant by man’s ways?  Strong’s # H1870 : a course of life or mode of action; course of life; of moral character…

The question is What is the condition attached to the promise of God’s provision?

Answer:  It would seem our ‘ways’ must please the Lord to receive the promise of God’s provision to see to it that our enemies will be at peace with us.  These are defined as how we act, our moral character, our manner of living which includes how we treat others.  Would it be fair to ask when we find ourselves not at peace with others how much is due to our own actions?  Something to chew on…

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Living pure lives

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

Psalm 84:11

[ RSV] 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly.

 

Question:  What is the condition attached to the promise of God’s provision?

Answer:  One who walks uprightly; another version says ‘whose lives are pure’.

Definition of uprightly or pure could be several possibilities such as; accord with truth and fact; wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, having integrity; purged, purified, pure, clean.

This would imply then, that our lives should demonstrate all these qualities.  They are the fruit of wholesome living according to the commands given by Father God Almighty and repeated by Jesus Christ his Son.  This living way is out of respect and love for the Father and Son. The promise is do this you receive this.  Live with truth, integrity, cleanly and receive favor, honor, any good thing from the Lord God.

Take away:  I cannot do this alone.  I need His help and thankfully the Holy Spirit is here to do just that.  With His help I can succeed, I can overcome the tendencies to be dishonest because it might be convenient, or engage in falsehood to manipulate another, and on it goes.  As Paul says, there are times I do what I don’t want to and I don’t do what I do want to…so glad the price has been paid for this, the strength to overcome is available upon request and forgiveness is freely given.  Let us strive to live holy, pure lives empowered by the Holy Spirit in our lives.

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From study of Elijah; We are warned…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome
Image result for fire from heaven

taken from Google images

Reflections from 2 Kings 1:

  1. The description of Elijah matches the description of John the Baptist given in the New Testament.

(the king) He asked them, “The man who came to meet you and told you these things, what kind of man was he?” “He was a hairy man,” they answered him, “with a leather belt around his waist.”  He said, ” It was Elijah from Tishbe.” 2 Kings 1

John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. – Matthew 3:4

2.  “Man of God”  used the first two times by the commanders of fifty was done sarcastically.  Man of God is a representative of God to us…calls for the same respect one would give an all-powerful God.  The lack of respect was what was punished…with death!  Study of the Old Testament highlights God’s disgust with arrogance and smugness.  Disrespect brought judgement many times.  Something to be very wary of.

Then the king sent a commander of fifty to Elijah, together with his fifty men….The commander climbed up to him(Elijah) and said, ” Man of God, the king says to come down.”  Elijah answered the commander of fifty, “If I am in fact a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and burn you up, along with your fifty men.” Fire came down from heaven, and it burned him up and his fifty men.

The king sent another commander of fifty, together with his fifty men.  He said to him (Elijah), “Man of God, the king says , ‘Come down immediately!’ ” Elijah answered them, “If I am in fact a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and burn you up, along with your fifty men.”  Fire came down from heaven, and it burned up him and his fifty men.

3.  God’s word is powerful…it accomplishes what it sets out to do.  This is done with or without humanity’s belief.  We can participate in it or be at its effect.  Sobering.

Take away:

Israel belongs to God.  When they stray he will not ignore it but take steps to bring them back into alignment with Him and His ways.

Our country has strong foundations in the Judeo-Christian beliefs.  It was founded by deeply religious people whose faith in God led them here to give him honor and practice His ways.  Their primary concern was to have a place where they could do so without hindrance or persecution for their faith. As we continue, as a nation, to honor Him we are blessed.  As we leave His ways and disrespect Him we are faced with the consequences not much different than that faced by the Hebrew nation.

Our history bears the truth that those who serve the Lord bring blessing.  Those who disrespect Him and His commands, bring cursing. We are warned.  What course of action will we take?  Our prayers can make the difference.

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Correct in humility…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

Reading from Zechariah 2:

Then I looked up and saw four horns.  I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these?” He answered, “These are the horns that scattered J’hudah, Isra’el and Yerushalayim.”

Next Adonai showed me four artisans.  I asked, “What are these coming to do?”  He said, “Those horns that scattered Y’hudah so completely that no one could even raise his head–well, these men have come to terrify them, to overthrow the nations that raised their horns against the land of Y’hudah to scatter it.”

Related image

Image from google images

There’s more to this chapter, but this portion spoke to me and I wish to share those thoughts.  The explanation in the study Bible states the horns are the nations who came against the Hebrews and defeated them, scattered them as judgment from God because the Hebrews turned from God to other gods.  The artisans are agents sent by God to defeat those nations and therefore allow God to rebuild his city, Yerushalayim. Other writers see the craftsmen as agents who also assist in the rebuilding of the Hebrew nation.

Reflections on this passage noted that those used by God to punish his people who have turned away from him are in turn destroyed for coming against his people in such a way.  It is fearful to be used by God to discipline another.  That same discipline may come back around on the one who was used.  Beware of pride which can falsely elevate one’s sense of being more than one actually is.  A key phrase in scripture is to “walk humbly with your God.”* It is tempting to become smug at another’s correction.  No arrogance will go unpunished.

[Proverbs 17:5 NKJV] 5 He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.  (emphasis mine)

Note also, those used here in this passage were not ‘believers’ but outside the family of Hebrews.  Judgment against God’s people, his ‘church’ may come from outside the family of believers; it will still carry the curse of God, ‘anyone who injures you injures the very pupil of my eye.’  Whether or not the judgment comes is not based upon belief.  God’s word does not return void, or empty, it does accomplish what it sets out to do.

When one is used by God to correct another it would be wise to remember to do so humbly; not in weakness but with the knowledge that the correction comes through them not from them; it comes from God…this might help those who often say to ‘correct with love,’ since our definitions of love have been corrupted.

*[Micah 6:8 NKJV] 8 He has shown you, O man, what [is] good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (emphasis mine)

Correction has an objective and that is to change direction or purpose; it also has an end goal and that is one of rebuilding something anew.  When one is going in the wrong direction, it is good to be redirected. It may protect from future harm; it may enable one to have an increase in purpose.  In this portion, the horns destroyed the old ways and paved the way for the craftsmen to rebuild.  Those giving correction and those receiving correction can more easily move through the process if they keep in mind the purposes of correction.

Any thoughts on this?

 

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Psalm 56; timely for today

Psalm 56

Have mercy on me, O God,

For my enemies are hounding me;

All day long they assault and oppress me.

 

Our government leaders, our religious leaders, our neighbors…all stand on both sides of this fence.  Some call for the harassment; some are at the effects of the harassment. Some call for violence; some are at the effect of the resulting violence.  Stand back and listen, read the comments, listen with open ears and read with open eyes.  What does the Lord God Almighty have to say about this?  Do some soul searching…are we truly enlightened?  Then where do we stand in this picture? Do we join in with language that is demeaning or do we answer softly, kindly, gently or not at all?

 

They hound me all the day long;

Truly there are many who fight against me, O Most High.

Whenever I am afraid,

I will put my trust in you.

In God whose word I praise,

In God, I trust and will not be afraid,

For what can flesh do to me?

 

All day long they damage my cause;

Their only thought is to do me evil.

 

They band together; they lie in wait;

They spy upon my footsteps;

Because they seek my life.

 

Shall they escape despite their wickedness?

O God, in your anger, cast down the peoples.

 

You have noted my lamentation;

Put my tears into your bottle;

Are they not recorded in your book?

 

Whenever I call upon you, my enemies will be put to flight;

This I know, for God is on my side.

 

In God the Lord, whose word I praise,

In God I trust and will not be afraid,

For what can mortals do to me?

 

I am bound by the vow I made to you, O God;

I will present to you thank offerings.

 

For you have rescued my soul from death, and my feet from stumbling,

That I may walk before God in the light of the living. Amen

 

What is your position? Where are your eyes and ears looking and listening?  Where is your understanding?  Are you in the light or functioning in the dark?  What is your fruit?  Is it encouraging and building or tearing down and hurtful?  It is time to turn the tide of evil in the land; one at a time.  Relying on the Lord God for truth, strength and wisdom.  By your love they will know you.  That is the love of God and neighbor.  Not love as our society sees it today.  It is time to do some soul searching and praying in the Father’s will and wisdom.