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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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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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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Who do you pay attention to…? listen to…?

Reflections from Jeremiah, Mark, Romans and 1 Corinthians:

[Jer 7:21-34 NLT] 21 This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Take your burnt offerings and your other sacrifices and eat them yourselves!

22 When I led your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them.

23 This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’

24 “But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward.

25 From the day your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have continued to send my servants, the prophets–day in and day out.

26 But my people have not listened to me or even tried to hear. They have been stubborn and sinful–even worse than their ancestors.

27 “Tell them all this, but do not expect them to listen. Shout out your warnings, but do not expect them to respond

. 28 Say to them, ‘This is the nation whose people will not obey the LORD their God and who refuse to be taught. Truth has vanished from among them; it is no longer heard on their lips.

29 Shave your head in mourning, and weep alone on the mountains. For the LORD has rejected and forsaken this generation that has provoked his fury.’

30 “The people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes,” says the LORD. “They have set up their abominable idols right in the Temple that bears my name, defiling it.

31 They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!

32 So beware, for the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when that garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. They will bury the bodies in Topheth until there is no more room for them.

33 The bodies of my people will be food for the vultures and wild animals, and no one will be left to scare them away.

34 I will put an end to the happy singing and laughter in the streets of Jerusalem. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard in the towns of Judah. The land will lie in complete desolation.

In Jeremiah we hear from God concerning his people.  I believe as God does not change, we can learn from this passage what pleases him and what doesn’t even for us today, for we are his people.  In one part he says: from verse 23 –

“Pay attention to what I say.  Then I will be your God, and you will be my people.  In everything live according to the way that I order you, so that things will go well with you.”  from CJB version.

He goes on to say they won’t /didn’t listen or pay attention.  My question from this is, “who are we listening to; what are we paying attention to?”  This calls for serious reflection and searching of the heart.  What is our source? News? Social Media? Friends? Co-workers? Instructors? or God?  Who do we spend the most time with?

This is a time of extreme need to know scripture; what God says…to pray; fight in the spiritual realm against the darkness that is taking over the land…How do we spend our time? energy?  That will show the truth to us of who we listen to.

God goes on to suggest we mourn for our lack of attention and what it has brought.  The actions of his people at that time brought disrespect, destruction, ruination.  In chapter 9 he speaks to the boaster; if you must boast let it be that you know and understand God…Can we boast in that?  The changes in our present society; even in the church say no…

Reading in Mark:

[Mar 12:28-34 NLT] 28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. 30 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” 32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.” 34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Yeshua brings us back to where we need to be; it is a restatement of what God has said in Jeremiah; we are to be centered on God with all our being.  Acknowledge who he is and what he requires.

“Sh’ma Yisra’el, Adonai Elohiemu, Adonai echad ( hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one), and you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your understanding, and with all your strength.’ …’You are to love your neighbor as yourself.” from CJB

In Romans:

[Rom 12:1-2 NLT] 1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Paul clarifies or adds that we are the sacrifice God desires.  Our bodies, a living sacrifice (that includes physical self, spiritual self, our mind, will and emotions).  We are to give all to him.  Do you see a thread of instruction here? What does the Lord require of you, oh man? All of you.

In Corinthians 1:

[1Co 10:14-23 NLT] 14 So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. 15 You are reasonable people. Decide for yourselves if what I am saying is true. 16 When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? 17 And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body. 18 Think about the people of Israel. Weren’t they united by eating the sacrifices at the altar? 19 What am I trying to say? Am I saying that food offered to idols has some significance, or that idols are real gods? 20 No, not at all. I am saying that these sacrifices are offered to demons, not to God. And I don’t want you to participate with demons. 21 You cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons, too. You cannot eat at the Lord’s Table and at the table of demons, too. 22 What? Do we dare to rouse the Lord’s jealousy? Do you think we are stronger than he is? 23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.

Paul reminds us that we are participating with Christ, in Christ.  With the participation comes responsibilities…  Again the questions:

Who are we listening to? Who are we paying attention to? How do we know? How does it manifest in our lives? Are we God’s people? Can the unbeliever tell? Can we tell?  What does God see?

 

speak the words of God…

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

From Jeremiah:

11The word of Adonai came to me, asking, “Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah), what do you see?” I answered, “I see a branch from an almond tree . 12Then Adonai said to me, “You have seen well, because I am watching to fulfill my word.”

13A second time the word of Adonai came to me, asking, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a caldron tilted away from the north, over a fire fanned by the wind.” 14Then Adonai said to me, “From the north calamity will boil over onto everyone living in the land, 15because I will summon all the families in the kingdoms of the north,” says Adonai,

“and they will come and sit, each one, on his throne

at the entrance to the gates of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem),

opposite its walls, all the way around,

and opposite all the cities of Y’hudah (Judah).

16I will pronounce my judgments against them

for all their wickedness in abandoning me,

offering incense to other gods

and worshipping what their own hands made.

17“But you, dress for action; stand up and tell them

(* Put on the whole armor of God… note by author)

everything I order you to say.

When you confront them, don’t break down;

or I will break you down in front of them!

18For today, you see, I have made you into

a fortified city, a pillar of iron,

a wall of bronze against the whole land —

against the kings of Y’hudah (Judah), against its princes,

against its cohanim (priests) and the people of the land.

19They will fight against you,

but they will not overcome you,

for I am with you,” says Adonai,

“to rescue you.”

From <https://www.bible.com/bible/1275/jer.1>

*English translation for Hebrew are in parentheses placed there by this author

It is a hard thing to be told to speak the words of God “against the kings of Y’hudah,” symbols of religious and secular leaders; “against its princes, against its cohanim (priests) and the people of the land.” It is a hard thing to be told to speak the words of God to a people who do not want to hear truth but only what tickles their ears.  Harder yet is to also be told that what is said will not be received and more, will cause a fight against the speaker.  This calls for confidence that God has indeed spoken and given the commands.  God does not leave the speaker defenseless; he states, “they will not overcome you, for I am with you, to rescue you.

Those who speak out against what  does not agree with scripture can be confident in God’s protection, care and peace.  When God says “speak” and those faithful to hear him speak; even if it challenges what ‘the people‘ think is right; God is there to protect, to rescue from the attack that is sure to come.

Pray –  In God I praise his word – in Adonai – I praise his word – in God I trust; I have no fear; what can mere humans do to me?  Psalms 56:11-12

Repent – I repent for “wandering.” You have kept count of my wanderings; store my tears in your water skin – aren’t they already recorded in your book?  Psalm 56:9

Ask – Show me favor, God, show me favor; for in you I have taken refuge.  Yes, I will find refuge in the shadow of your wings until the storms have passed. Psalm 57:2

Yes – I call to God, the Most High, to God, who is accomplishing his purpose for me.  Be exalted, God, above heaven!  May your glory be over all the earth!  Psalm 57:3 and 6

Source: Jeremiah and Psalms

Armed, protected and ready…

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

From Ephesians:

10Finally, grow powerful in union with the Lord, in union with his mighty strength! 11Use all the armor and weaponry that God provides, so that you will be able to stand against the deceptive tactics of the Adversary. 12For we are not struggling against human beings, but against the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. 13So take up every piece of war equipment God provides; so that when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist; and when the battle is won, you will still be standing. 14Therefore, stand! Have the belt of truth buckled around your waist, put on righteousness for a breastplate, 15and wear on your feet the readiness that comes from the Good News of shalom. 16Always carry the shield of trust, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. 17And take the helmet of deliverance; along with the sword given by the Spirit, that is, the Word of God; 18as you pray at all times, with all kinds of prayers and requests, in the Spirit, vigilantly and persistently, for all God’s people.

From <https://www.bible.com/bible/1275/eph.6>

What to do?  How does one do the Word?  Grow powerful in union with the Lord.  Direct thoughts and questions toward Christ first.  Then put on and take up God’s armor.  It’s another set of gifts!  This armor is specifically designed to combat those in the spiritual realm that are always ready to attack the believer.

First, fasten the belt of truth around your core.  Here is the support needed to stand upright.  Truth is that spoken in the Word and truth is Christ, ” I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me..”  Next, put on righteousness as a breastplate, protecting the inner core of the believer.  This is God’s righteousness, able to do more than protect and supported by the belt.  On the feet fasten the shoes of peace, a unique peace hard to explain but there none-the-less.  Shoes designed to grip and dig in on slippery slopes of spiritually designed accusations and lies meant to make the believer trip and fall.   Now take up the helmet, shield and sword.

The helmet protects the mind and gives access to all God has spoken and done. With the uniform  on, the rest of the weapons available can be picked up for use in battle.  The shield of faith or trust will deflect the arrows of accusation coming often in the form of thoughts or words spoken by another.  God’s Word trumps all others and faith in that Word can be used a shield.  Which will the believer listen to and trust; God or other?  The sword is the Word given as truth and able to put to flight or final rest the attacks that come.

Finally, activate it all in prayer, with prayer.  There’s a scripture for every thought or word coming from the liar; it can be found and prayed against the lie.  And the lie will die its death, defeated by truth.  Search the scriptures daily for those healing words, those defensive words, words of recovery and words to take on the offensive which will attack and defeat the lie.  They are all there to be used.

When prayer rises, God activates his power on our behalf wherever we ask it to be directed.  His power activated is able ” to accomplish more than we can ask or imagine. ” His words spoken in prayer will “accomplish what they are set to do; they will not return empty, void.”

Pray – Help me, Father, to begin each day putting on the uniform You’ve given; that which identifies me as Yours.  Upon rising, may I speak Your truth putting on the belt, may I recognize the breastplate you’ve given of righteousness and be encouraged to get up and move forward, protected.  May I remember the shoes of Your peace that will help me stand firm.  I want that helmet to protect my mind; help me fill my mind with Your Word to be used as needed. I will take up the shield of faith for my trust is in You alone and I will follow Christ’s example and use Your Word, the sword of truth to fight the enemy.

Repent – I repent for waiting so long to fill up on Your Word when it is so vital to my success as Your child and servant.

Ask – May my ways be steady in observing Your laws.  Then I will not be put to shame, since I fixed my sight on all Your ways.

Yes – Praise Adonai, all you nations!  Worship him, all you peoples!  For his grace has overcome us, and Adonai’s truth continues forever.

Source: Ephesians and Psalms 119