Isaiah 31 Focus on the Unseen

The things in our lives can consume our minds and cause us to focus on them instead of focusing on God. This is exactly what the people of God were going through as they were told to put their trust in God while watching an army approach them that could destroy them. Many times, we make what is seen, bigger than God and so we must make sure that we focus on God and who He is rather than on the circumstances we are facing.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[d] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Isaiah wanted to get their attention and remind them of who God is and to focus more on the eternal and the unseen things instead of making the things we can see bigger than God.

Isaiah 31:1-4 Woe[a] to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord! And yet he is wise and brings disaster; he does not call back his words but will arise against the house of the evildoers and against the helpers of those who work iniquity. The Egyptians are man, and not God, and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall, and they will all perish together. For thus the Lord said to me, “As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey, and when a band of shepherds is called out against him he is not terrified by their shouting or daunted at their noise, so the Lord of hosts will come down to fight[b] on Mount Zion and on its hill.

  1. God is Wise

“He also is wise” The people who were making the decisions for the country thought that they were wise and so Isaiah reminds them that God is wise, and He is the one who should be sought for advice. In the past a priest or prophet would seek God to see if this were a war they should get involved with. (1 Samuel 23; 2 Samuel 5; 1 Kings 22) The people should have known that it always lead to failure when the people of God did not seek God. (Joshua 9:14; 1 Chronicles 10:13-14)

Many times we rely on our own wisdom or the wisdom of the world rather than turning to God. Their wisdom was going to bring disaster upon their nation because they were going down to Egypt and relying on the military might of Egypt to save them. This is the fifth warning that Isaiah is giving them trying to get them to stop putting their faith in worldly wisdom and turn to God.

Egypt was known for their fighting chariots, but the chariots would not have worked in the mountainous areas of Judah. They were willing to sacrifice a lot of time and money bargaining with Egypt for help, but they were not willing to spend time pleading with God about their situation in prayer. They were also ignoring the scriptures that talked about not relying on a foreign power (Deuteronomy 17:16; Psalm 20:7; Proverbs 21:31)

We spend so much time and money trying to do things by our own wisdom and power instead of going to God and taking the time and effort to seek His wisdom.  We lose sleep, we become stressed and anxious because we do not go to God

Philippians 4:5-6 Let your reasonableness[a] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

He does not go back on what He says” Have you ever decided on something and then you realized that you made the wrong decision? God is not that way because whatever decision He makes it is the correct. When we seek God, we can know that God will guide us to the right decision because He does not make mistakes.

2) God will punish Evil

“Rise up against the house of the wicked, and the allies of evildoers.” Sometimes it feels in our world that those who commit evil do not get punished but God will rise and act. God’s punishment was not just for the Assyrians because He was also going to punish those who helped them which included those in Judah.

“Egyptians are men, not God, their horses are flesh, not spirit” No one can stand up to God although they may arrogantly think they can and God compares Himself as a lion growling over his prey.God is now compared to a lion that cannot be chased away by the shepherds because He is not scared by them

God is viewed as a roaring lion (Jeremiah 49:19 50:49; Hosea 5:14; 11:10; 13:7; Amos 1:2; 3:8) The picture is still that God is coming to fight His enemies and destroy them.

Yahweh of Host or Lord of Armies WE forget that in the unseen there are a Host of angels at God’s disposal.

2 kings 6:15-17 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

We must be careful that we do not become infatuated with angels and we especially should not pray or worship angels but remember they are at God’s disposal for His purposes. God is the one who has command over all of them even though they themselves are great and mighty creatures. Our prayers should always be directed to God directly and not to the creations He created. Ephesians 6:10-20 reminds us that we are in a spiritual battle with the unseen every day and we need to prepare for it.

Isaiah 31:5 Like birds hovering, so the Lord of hosts will protect Jerusalem; he will protect and deliver it; he will spare and rescue it.”

3) God is my protector

The protection of God is compared to birds that fly over bringing a shield to anything that tries to come in and harm their young chicks. The language is feminine and so it shows the motherly care of God and how He will compassionately save His people. We pray to God as Father because that is how Jesus taught us to pray (Matthew 6:9)  so do not get wrapped up in the movement that says God is woman because God is Spirit (John 4:24) and both male and female are created in His image. When they heard the word “Passover” they would immediately think of the Passover where God’s protection protected them from the death angel that God sent to Egypt. The Passover would also remind themthat they are seeking help in the wrong place by reminding them of what God did in the past to Egypt and how they should not return to them for help. (Exodus 12)

Hebrews 13:6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can  man do to me?”

Isaiah 31:6-7 Turn to him from whom people[c] have deeply revolted, O children of Israel. For in that day everyone shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which your hands have sinfully made for you.

4) God is a Forgiver

“Return to the One you have rebelled against” Isaiah is saying God is wise, He will punish evil and He will protect you so you should turn back to Him and ask for forgiveness. This was an urgency to repent because time was running out. Remember this is their fifth warning about the judgment to come and yet God is still asking them to repent from their rebelliousness.Repent is just turning around or returning to God.  

“They had deeply or greatly revolted” We all have deeply or greatly revolted against God by our sin but many people do not see it that way. They do not see themselves as the prodigal son who has rebelled against his father by wishing he were dead, taking his inheritance and squandering it all.

They were rejecting God as their Father and as their King. We have to remember these were people that were still worshiping God and doing the festivals, but they had mixed in other religions and ran to other idols for things they should have been going to God for.

“For on that day you will Reject the Gold idols your hands have made” Our Idols will always seem ridiculous when we compare them to God and who He is. Idols will always leave you empty just as the prophet Jeremiah (2:13) said that they committed two sins in that they left God and went to things that could not satisfy. Our idols always leave us longing for more and that is why whatever you fill your life with besides God will leave you wanting more. Yes, it will satisfy for a time but in the end it will leave you dry just like a well that does not hold water.

Silver and Gold Idols: Notice these are expensive, fine crafted idols.  Not only are our idols worthless and do not do what they promise they also cost us a lot of money. Our idols can bankrupt us because we believe the lie that we have been told that our wholeness comes from the things in this world.

Isaiah 31:8-9 “And the Assyrian shall fall by a sword, not of man; and a sword, not of man, shall devour him; and he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be put to forced labor.
His rock shall pass away in terror,  and his officers desert the standard in panic, “declares the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.

5) God is a Deliverer

“Assyria will fall but not by man” The next area where God is not seen is in how He fights for His Children. What God is going to do will not be able to be done by human hands and only God will be able to get the credit. God is going to not only deliver them from their enemies, but God is going to deliver them from their idols and all their sins. The Assyrians will be psychologically shattered losing their nerve to function let alone to fight and will turn and head home.

Psalm 33:17-19 The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.

Are you trusting God for your deliverance or your own abilities? When God does not come through the way we want or in the timely manner we want we tend to rely on our own wisdom and power to deliver ourselves, but we must seek His wisdom and His deliverance.

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Isaiah 30:27-33 The Anger of God

Many people only have a one-sided view of God that He is loving, kind, patient and merciful. Although all of that is true the Bible is clear that God also has wrath because of His holiness, righteousness and justice. God is who He is and we cannot just take the parts of God we like without taking the ones we might be offended by or even try to ignore. God has let us know who He is and because of His holiness His hatred of sin will eventually bring His wrath. God never changes and so the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. Many people have been taught or believe that the God of the Old Testament was wrath and anger, but the God of the New Testament is mercy, grace and love.

Those who do not want there to be a God have a problem with the Anger of God and have even taken all the passages in the Bible and lined them up and called God a “Moral Monster”. Paul Copan wrote a book called “Is God a Moral Monster?” and so people have taken his title and agreed with some of his premises. Just as it is not good to focus on just one aspect of God and leave the others out, so it is dangerous to leave out a characteristic of God that He has revealed to us.

Isaiah 30:27-28 Behold, the name of the Lord comes from afar, burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke;[d] his lips are full of fury, and his tongue is like a devouring fire; 28 his breath is like an overflowing stream that reaches up to the neck; to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction, and to place on the jaws of the peoples a bridle that leads astray.

  1. God’s Anger for His Children

His Anger burning” In our terminology if we said someone is “hot” we would know that means they are angry at us or about a situation. We are called on to “Look” to see or behold this attribute of God and not ignore it as some in our culture try to do. We like the attributes of God when His mercy, grace and love apply to us, but we may not like when God applies His mercy, grace and love to our enemies. The Anger of God in this case is good because His anger is coming to take vengeance against the Assyrians for what they have done to His People. Hosea 13:8 calls God’s anger like a bear robbed of her cubs and God is protecting His children from the Assyrians who are hurting them.

 “His lips are full of fury and His tongue like a consuming fire. Smoke and fire were symbols God used as He led the Children of Israel through the desert. (Exodus 13:21; 19:18) and God is also described as a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; 9:3; Isaiah 33:14; Lamentations 2:3; Hebrews 12:29). Just like a fire will consume everything in its path so God will destroy the Assyrians for how they treated His people.

“His breath is like an overflowing stream.” It will be like a flooding river that comes up to their neck and God will sift out those who are against Him. “To sift the nations with a sieve of destruction.” To sift out was a farming term meaning to remove all the worthless things from the good and to put them in a pile to be burned or to be blown away by the wind. “TO put a bridle on their jaws and lead them astray” God will literally take them where they do not want to go like animals who must be led astray. These were not terms that were to be taken lightly as God was going to show His wrath.  

“ We cannot serve Him “acceptably” unless there is due “reverence” for His awful Majesty and “godly fear” of His righteous anger, and these are best promoted by frequently calling to mind that “our God is a consuming fire.” (Knowing God, J.I. Packer, Pg. 157)

To dismiss a part of God that He has revealed Himself to be is careless and dangerous because it means we are worshiping a God of our making instead of how God has revealed Himself. We respect God because of who He is and He is described as  awesome. Awe is an archaic word which meant to bring terror.

Isaiah 30:29 You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel.

2) God’s Anger Leads to Joy

“Your singing will be like a night of a festival.” How can God’s Anger lead to Joy? We like when people get what they deserve when they are doing wrong. If a person is passing everyone by driving on the median and they get pulled over by law enforcement there is a part of us that is joyful because we know they are getting what they deserve. The people of God will be rejoicing over what God has done to protect them and bring justice to those who have been doing wrong. Another attribute ofGod is that He is described in the Bible as a Judge. A judge who knows all and has perfect discernment but brings the correct verdict and the proper punishment to every situation.

Genesis 18:25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (See also; Genesis 18:25; Psalms 75:7; 82:8; Hebrews 4:13; 12:23)

Because there is a God there are morals or things we call right and wrong. Atheist cannot have a moral code because they only dance to their own DNA and therefore who can fault them for how they act? God will hold everyone accountable because He has put in everyone of us the ability to know right and wrong.

Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

God’s anger against His enemies will lead to us singing and rejoicing. Think about all the people who have done evil by murdering, stealing, ruining people lives and yet there was no justice on earth. God is going to hold them accountable and God will judge all people according to their works (Matthew 16:27; 25:14-30; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; Revelation 12:11-15) A Christian will not be judged by his works but rewarded for the works they did built on the foundation of Christ.

 A Non- Christian will be judged by the works they did because they refused to accept the gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Does that bring joy and hope to your life knowing that no one is getting away with anything?

Matthew 25:21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[e] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

“To the Rock of Israel” God is now called a rock which means He is a source of strength and protection. They will go up to the Rock of Israel which shows the personal side of our relationship with God.When all is said and done the thing that makes Heaven great is being in the presence of God and the joy we will receive by being with our creator forever. Our joy will come when God makes all things right and we will call out to Him day and night for the victory He attained on our behalf.

Isaiah 30:30-33 And the Lord will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and storm and hailstones. 31 The Assyrians will be terror-stricken at the voice of the Lord, when he strikes with his rod. 32 And every stroke of the appointed staff that the Lord lays on them will be to the sound of tambourines and lyres. Battling with brandished arm, he will fight with them. 33 For a burning place[e] has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it.

3) God’s Anger leads to punishment

Because God is God His anger is not like our anger which can be uncontrolled or even unfair. God is a God of mercy longing to show mercy to all those who humble themselves to Him but if they do not then people will leave God no choice but to punish them for their actions. God’s voice is compared to fire, lightning, thunder and hail and a voice that will bring terror and destruction. God’s voice is a Majestic Voice which means a voice that is awe inspiring. With His voice He created and with His voice He will destroy because it is the voice of God that is powerful. “Every staff the Lord brings down will be to the sound of a tambourine.” God will destroy the Assyrians to the beat of music.

Topheth has been ready for the King for a long time.” Topheth is the place where people sacrificed their children to Moloch (2 Kings 16:3; 21:6; Jeremiah 7:31-32 19:6-14). It was turned into a garbage dump by King Josiah (2 Kings 23:10) and called Gehenna which is the New Testament word for Hell.  They would also burn the bodies of their enemies. We know an angel strikes down 185,000 of the Assyrian army in one night and we are not told anything about what they did with all the bodies but more than likely they burned them. The King of Assyrians body would not have a royal funeral, but his body would be thrown into a garbage dump and be burned. Hell is a real place in the Bible and although we may not think certain people should be there, we also will say that other people deserve to be there.

Because we do not understand the Holiness of God, we do not understand why everyone cannot just go to Heaven. Hell is described as a place where the fire never goes out (Mark 9:43) and where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30) We know God is love (1 John 4:8) but He is also just (Deuteronomy 32:4) and because we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans3:10) and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), we all deserve to go to Hell. The ability that we have through Jesus Christ to go to Heaven is what is unfair. In Luke 16 is the story of the Rich man and Lazarus and the Rich man was in the place of torment and his only thought was for his brothers not to come where he is and not once does he say it was not unfair for him to be there. Habakkuk 1:13 says that Gods eyes are pure and 1 John 1:5 says there is no darkness in God, and therefore we cannot be in His presence if we have sin in our lives.

“The idea is hard for us humans to take because we do not have the kind of revulsion from sin, evil and wickedness that God has- or that we indeed should have. Even the best of us flirt with sin. We smile and sink at it. We too often forget that one single sin equates to death.” (The 10 Most common objections to Christianity, Alex McFarland, PG. 168)

 We do not understand the concept of Hell because we do not see sin the way that God sees sin. God hated sin so much that He did something about it and that is by dying on the cross for our sins. We remove the anger of God from our lives when we accept the gift of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross on our behalf. (John 3:36)

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Isaiah 30:18- 26 The Mercy of God

Because of the people’s rebelliousness they are missing out on God’s blessings for their lives. The people lived in a covenant relationship with God and if they followed His ways, they and their land would be blessed, but if they rebelled then God would bring punishment upon them as a loving Father to get them to repent. God is bringing punishment to His people for their disobedience but He wants to show them His mercy. With all the warnings that Isaiah is giving to hopefully get the people to repent Isaiah now turns to show the advantages of following God.

Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

  1. God is a God of Mercy

“The Lord is waiting to show mercy” Just like every other attribute of God, mercy is who He is. Just like I am a father, husband, son, Pastor and so forth God is Love, Just, Grace, Mercy and so forth. You cannot separate God from who He is just like you cannot separate all those different attributes from me. The word Mercy appears more in the Old Testament than in the new and I say that because many people have bought the lie that God has changed from the Old Testament to the New Testament but that is not the case.  God was not one way in the Old Testament and another way in the New God has never changed. (Malachi 3:6)

“Mercy: to stoop in kindness to an inferior, to have pity upon and to be actively compassionate.” (The Attributes of God, A.W. Tozer, Pg 79)

God wants to show them mercy, but He also wants them to turn from their sinful ways so He will continue to try and get their attention until they turn back to Him.

Exodus 34:6-7 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands,[a] forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

God wants to show compassion which is a deep bond of love and deep affection that He has for His people by meeting all their needs, but they were seeking help from other countries, other gods  and ignoring God’s instruction through His prophet Isaiah.

For the Lord is a Just God” God is just meaning that how He acts is fair and unbiased. When we are seeking justice, we are seeking fairness for the situation we are in because we believed we have been wronged. God does not act haphazardly but is deliberate in all that He does based on His Justice. The fact that we believe in a right and wrong are attributes of God that we as His creation received from Him. We all believe in a right and wrong and that is because we were created to know that. (Romans 2)

“All who wait patiently on Him are happy” Many times, we think if we can make a few decisions or if people would change or our circumstances will change, we would be happy. It is only when God intervenes will we be truly happy because only God can accomplish the ultimate change in our circumstances. Most of the time it isdelayed gratification is the problem not that what God has is best for us. We want what we want when we want it but relying on God means relying on His timing.

See also Lamentations 3:22-23  

Isaiah 30:19-21 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

2) Humbleness Leads to Mercy

“The sound of your cry, as soon as He hears it, He will answer you. God hears their cries because they cry out to Him in despair knowing that there is nothing, they can do on their own to change their situation. We tend to not cry out to God until we have exhausted all of our resources when He should be the first one, we go to every time.

Exodus 2:23-25 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

God pitied them because of their situation, and it is His mercy that moved Him to act.  In Mark 6:34 Jesus was moved with compassion because the people were helpless and in need of a caring shepherd to lead them. It is one thing to have compassion it is another thing to act because of the compassion. Many people feel compassion for people or things but that does not mean they will get involved with the situation. God acts compassionately toward His children which means He is personally involved in their lives.

It is the mercy of God that gives us hope in a hopeless situation and it is a very humbling act to receive the mercy of God but one we must all ask for. WE too often rely on our own salvation and our own wisdom rather than calling out to our God who wants to help us in our time of need. God will not pour out His blessings on the rebellious children until they cried out to Him. I think we do not call on God because He does not do it the way we want it done or in our timing we would like it done in.

“The Lord will give you adversity” (vs20) because that is the way to spiritual renewal. We want God to move in our lives without adversity, we want spiritual renewal with no pain.  Bread and Water which was the equivalent of prison food but enough to sustain you is how God describes the adversity in our lives. It also demonstrates that in our rebelliousness that God is going to make sure that all our needs are met.

“But your teacher will no longer hide” If you can imagine a parent peaking around the corner waiting for the result of a stubborn child who refused help on a project only later to call on the parent for help, then that is the idea God is giving here. They would not listen to God, so God decided to let them learn from their poor decisions, but He was close enough to them to come to their rescue when they called out to Him.

“And your ears will hear a word from behind you, saying, this is the way.” Just like a child who is ready to listen after their own stubbornness has caused frustration, pain and loss of time and energy so God is ready to talk to His children when they get to the point of listening. After the people have exhausted their abilities then God will come behind them and instruct them in the way to go. The idea of coming behind is the idea of a shepherd. Shepherds lead from the back as well as the front (2 Samuel 7:8) A shepherd would do that to make sure that any stragglers, injured or just slow would all make it where they needed to go. This is a comforting fact of God since I am a slow, rebellious sheep who needs constant care and knowing that God cares enough to stay with me till I get to where I need to go.

“When you turn to the right and to the left” We all tend to get off track and yet God says that He will prompt you to stay on the straight path as you start turning to the left or the right. Jesus promised us the same thing with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

We must be careful when interpreting our circumstances because your circumstances are not always an indication that you are not being led by the spirit.  Paul was in prison and all the disciples, but John were martyred. Sometimes people look at what is happening physically to them and think that they are missing out on being led by the spirit. Yes, some people suffer because they are ignoring God, but some people suffer because they are in the will of God. Some people were suffering because of the disobedience of Religious leaders and politicians and many in Judah would walk through terrible things because of the disobedience of others.

Isaiah 30:22 Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!

3) God’s Mercy Leads to Sanctification

“You will defile your idols and throw them away” Sanctification is simply the process in which we participate with God toward being Holy like Him until we reach Heaven. We all face pressure to turn to the things of the world rather than to God and those daily battles to do what is right when we want to do wrong is part of our sanctification process. We have idols we turn to instead of turning to God and we must throw them out along with the unclean things we have allowed into our lives. When we experience the mercy of God then we will see the things we turned to as they really are which are filthy and gross. The things we were drawn to will now disgust us because we have developed our relationship with our Holy God. They will not only be disgusted by them but now they will get rid of them and grind them up so that they are no longer able to be sought after again. When we truly grasp the Mercy of God then we will want to get rid of the things in our lives that He hates because we will grow to hate what He hates.

“Don’t think for a minute that when you repented and came back from the swine pen to the Father’s house that mercy then began to operate. No, mercy had been operating all the time.” (The Attributes of God, A.W. Tozer, Pg 85)

Psalm 103:13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

Proverbs 9:10 says that Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. To fear God is to have a reverence for who He is and His will. When we learn of the Mercy of God it should bring us into a reverence of God who does not owe us anything. We tend to not destroy our idols but only put them away in case we might need them again. We must be careful to not test God and His Grace and Mercy because God is also a loving God who disciplines His children. (Hebrews 12:9-11)

Romans 2:4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Isaiah 30:23-26 And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures, 24 and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. 25 And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26 Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

4) God’s Mercy is also a Future Promise

“In that Day” This section is a future promise of the New Earth that some believe will be part of the thousand-year reign of Christ. Just because we do not seem to be experiencing God’s mercy does not mean He is not demonstrating it and it surely does not mean He will not demonstrate it later. One day all the things that have caused us grief, pain and sorrow will be gone and the earth will flourish with cattle, water, and food. There will be no shortage of water or sunlight to make things grow and the earth will operate the way it should.

“When the towers fall” God’s enemies will be destroyed, and the worldly system will be gone forever and We will enjoy the mercy of God.

The lord bandages His people’s injuries from the wounds He inflicted. Even in his discipline of us it is done out of His mercy to keep us from destroying our lives. The teacher will also be the healer who will bring everything back into His original design.

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Isaiah 30:8-17 Rebellious Children

The people are choosing to rebel against God and to not listen to Him and God wants Isaiah to reveal to them what will happen if they continue to rebel. Rebellious simply means to be in  opposition to one in authority. The reason people rebel against God is because they want to be the rulers of their own lives. Many rebel against God not outwardly where others can notice but through not surrendering different areas of their lives to Him. We will see how not to become a rebellious Child toward God.

Isaiah 30:8-9 And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever.[a] For they are a rebellious people, lying children,
children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord;

  1.  Rebellious Children ignore Instruction

“Write it on a tablet and inscribe it on a scroll” The verbal message has been ignored but now Isaiah is going to write it out in front of them so they can see clearly what Gods instructions are. Isaiah wrote a sign and carried it around with a short message but then also wrote it out so that the word of God would be shown to be true when the prophecy came true. Employers are encouraged to write out their expectations to make sure they are clear for their employees so there is no misunderstanding and God is making sure that the people will clearly know His will. By rebelling against the instruction of God it showed the relationship they had with God because they not only rebelled against the instruction of God, they were also untruthful or deceptive because they said one thing but then did another. In other words, they said they would do what they were supposed to but only said it but they never had any intention of actually doing it.

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

We need to make sure we learn from the mistakes of those who were before us so that we do not do what they have done. Many people ignore what they know God wants them to do so it is not about having the information it is about obedience. The question you need to ask yourself is, what areas of your life are you ignoring the clear instructions of God? You may obey God in many areas of your life but if we really examine our lives, we will see that there are some areas where we are being rebellious.

 Isaiah 30:10-11 who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, 11 leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”

2)  Rebellious Children hear only what they want to hear

“Do not prophesy the truth to us” When you are a rebellious Child you only hear what you want to hear and ignore the rest. The people were not saying these things out loud, but God was revealing their heart to them through the prophet Isaiah.  You can imagine the shock on their face when Isaiah was revealing their hearts to them and exposing the lies, they thought no one else knew about.

“Do not prophecy the truth to us” (10) can be interpreted to say “Right things” They did not want moral correction because they wanted to live their lives as they saw fit. If you are a parent you understand what they were doing because you have children that will hear only what they wanted to hear. So, if a mom says, “If you eat your broccoli you can have ice cream.” The Child only hears Ice cream. The Children of God focused on the promises of God but not the warnings of God. Many people in the church today want all the benefits of being a child of God without the obedience, discipline and responsibility of being a child of God. Because we focus only on messages of God’s grace, mercy and love we tend to forget that God is Holy and with that He calls us to Holiness.

“Tell us flattering things” or “Smooth things” (vs10) They were saying, don’t challenge us with things that are unpleasant only tell us what we want to hear.Some of the things of God are not things we want to hear but they are things we need to hear.  Don’t tell us our lives are not living up to God’s standard just tell us how much He loves us and about His mercy and grace.

“Leave the way, turn away from the path” (11)  The prophet Isaiah was trying to block them from going in the wrong direction, but they were so rebellious they just wanted him out of their way. The difficultly of pointing out the full counsel of God (Acts 20:27) is that many people do not want to hear certain things because it would mean a change in their lifestyle.

Isaiah 30:12-15 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Because you despise this word
and trust in oppression and perverseness and rely on them, 13 therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out and about to collapse, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant; 14 and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found with which to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern.” 15 For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning[b] and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,

3) Rebellious Children suffer consequences

Decisions have consequences and all of us must live with the choices we make no matter what the consequences. The Holy One of Israel” was a term Isaiah uses 25 times in the book and it shows who God is, the standard of what He expects His children to live up to and His hatred for sin. In Mark 10:18 Jesus said no one is good but God. Our standard of good must be God not each other or even our own standards.

“Like a breach in a high wall” (13) Although the wall may stand for a while it will eventually collapse and when it does the brokenness will be so bad that you cannot use the broken pieces for anything. Broken lives are a consequence when people reject the things of God and live against His will. Moral failure leads to broken lives and broken relationships and they seem to crumble quickly although the warnings of the failure can be seen by the cracks that have existed for a long time.  The things that God tells us not to do are not to be a restricting but from a loving God who knows what is best for His children.  If they turned to God, they would have found rest but instead they were working their plan to overcome their problems on their own.  They were literally wearing themselves out by rebelling against God.

To Rest in God means to be calm and have patient reliance on God’s provisions. Instead of worrying they could have been calm as they trusted in God to provide. Instead of wearing themselves out trying to do things on their own they could have rested knowing God was going to take care of everything. This applies to our salvation as well because many people want to frantically work to earn their way God instead of accepting the gift of salvation that is found in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Quiet: Untroubled by external events

Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

“Trust in the Lord God is frequently expressed through prayer. But sometimes it is better exhibited though a wordlessness before the Lord that, by its quiet absence of anxiety, communicates trust in His sovereign control. (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald S. Whitney, Pg 230)

The promise of God fighting for you is not for His rebellious Children but only His obedient Children. For Rebellious Children you are called to repent (turn from the path you are on) and begin obeying God.

Isaiah 30:16-17  and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift. 17 A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill.

4) Rebellious Children continue their own path

“You say NO” or “You were not willing” They wanted to rely on their own schemes while ignoring God and put themselves in a panic. They thought the horses they had received from Egypt would be fast enough to escape to Egypt before the war started but God warns them that they would be overrun by the Assyrian army. Rebellion toward God would lead to them being destroyed.

Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Trusting in God is difficult but as His children we are called to not go down our own path but to follow Him and trust Him. God gave His children a promise in Leviticus 26:8 for those who were obedient.

Leviticus 26:8 Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.

Because of their rebellion every one of their enemies would make a thousand of them to flee to the point that the only thing left is a flagpole standing where the city used to be.

“Isaiah’s sermon sets a challenge that many believers will face sometime in their lifetime: Should they calmly trust God’s strength and deliverance in a time of difficulty against insurmountable odds, or should they do everything humanly possible to bring victory through their own (along with others’) strength? God’s way offers life; and other choice will bring failure and death.” (The New American Commentary, Gary V. Smith, PG 517)

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Isaiah 30:1-7 Ignoring the Will of God.

Will: To follow one’s desire or choice.  We all have a decision to make in our lives if we are going to follow the will of God or our own will because it is one thing to know the will of God, but it is another to trust Him by following it. The people Isaiah was addressing were in a difficult spot and the outcome was not looking good for them and it would be easy to see why they acted the way they did. They could submit to the Assyrians through a peace treaty and see how they treat them, wage war and face certain death or make an alliance with another Nation and hope they can defeat the Assyrians.

To Submit to God’s will means we must wait and trust Him with the outcome even though we may not see any humanly possible solution. Although this happened thousands of years ago, we can find ourselves in similar circumstances as we look to the world and it’s resources instead of looking to God.

Isaiah 30:1-7 “Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance,[a] but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my direction, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation. For though his officials are at Zoan and his envoys reach Hanes, everyone comes to shame through a people that cannot profit them, that brings neither help nor profit, but shame and disgrace.” An oracle on the beasts of the Negeb. Through a land of trouble and anguish, from where come the lioness and the lion, the adder and the flying fiery serpent, they carry their riches on the backs of donkeys,  and their treasures on the humps of camels, to a people that cannot profit them. Egypt’s help is worthless and empty; therefore I have called her “Rahab who sits still.”

  1. Their Plans Went Against God’s Will

“They carry out a plan but not mine” We carry out plans everyday sometimes without even thinking about if they are part of the will of God. Just think about how many times you have made decisions without consulting God. There is nothing wrong with making plans and there was nothing wrong with King making a treaty with another nation but in this instance, it went against the will of God. Without even talking to God about it they decided they were going to go down to Egypt and see if they would help them with the Assyrians. The reason that the plans went against the will of God is that the people were placing their protection under the Pharaoh of Egypt which was forbidden by God. In Deuteronomy 17:16 the Kings were forbidden from seeking help from Egypt and were told to never send people that way again.  For 40 Years Isaiah has been telling the Rulers, and leaders to place their trust in God but they were ignoring Isaiah and they were ignoring God in order to do what they desired to do.

We can justify our actions even when they clearly go against the word of God because we want our will to be done and not Gods. Isaiah is rebuking the leadership by their defiance in ignoring the clear teachings that God has placed on His people through His written word. The plans we make must be in line with the will of God and we must first seek His written word (Bible) and see if what we are doing goes against His will.  When we make or execute plans with no thought to the will of God that is when we say” MY will be done” not “Your will be done”

“They make an alliance, but not of my Spirit” As Christians we were given the Spirit of God to guide and strengthen us to do the will of God.  1 Corinthians 2:10-11 says that it is the Spirit of God that knows the will of God and that is why we must be guided by God’s spirit and not anything else. The Holy Spirit is not a force it is God Himself who comes and lives in His Children to teach them and guide them in His ways.

Galatians 5:16-18 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

  • God’s will is for you to find refuge in Him.

“They go down to Egypt to seek shelter and protection” They were literally running back to Egypt which should have alarmed people who knew what God’s word said.  Isaiah saw the animals weighed down with goods to buy Egypt’s help and the dangerous territory they would have to cross and Isaiah saw it as a reverse Exodus. We all tend to run back to the very things that God has freed us from because we are comfortable with those things even though they go against His will. When life gets too much for you to handle by your own strength, where do you run to? This answer will show you where you are putting your trust and whose will you are following.

Many people turn to many things in this world for their comfort and for coping with the problems they are facing. (Food, alcohol, drugs, entertainment, etc.) Unfortunately, these things we run to instead of running to God lead to us being humiliated and ashamed because they will eventually ruin us physically and/ or financially. Addictions begin as coping mechanisms that lead many people to ruin their lives when the coping mechanism begins to control them. Your Egypt will always let you downor in other words what you turn to besides God will always let you down. God brought His people out of Egypt and He does not want them to look back but that is what they always seem to do. God has also brought us out of bondage from sin, but we tend to always look back at the very things God saved us from and we hope they will bring the comfort we desire.

“They are of no benefit; they are no help; they are good for nothing but shame and disgrace.” (5)

Rahab Sits Still: Egypt is all promise but no action. Judah erred by being determined to arrange for their own survival and by not seeking God.God cares about all you are going through, and we must remember that God is a God of relationships whose desire is for you to involve Him in everything you are doing. It is easy for us to look at the people of Judah and judge them for not following the will of God but how many times do we allow the pressures of this world to drive us to go and seek other things for relief besides running to God?

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

I think the reason we do not like doing the will of God is because it is humbling. It is humbling waiting on God and for His ways to be shown true especially when the rest of the world is telling you to go another direction.

  • How can we know God’s Will?
  • Look to what God has already revealed

As mentioned earlier Deuteronomy 17:16 already told them what to do and so they could have known not to go to Egypt and work any deals with them. You do not have to pray about if you should lie, steal, kill or slander people because God has made that clear to us. So anything that God has made clear to us we can start there and do those things until we get answers for specific things we are looking for His will for.

Matthew 22:37-39 Love God and Love Others

Colossians 1:10 Live a Life worthy of the Lord

1 Timothy 2:3-4 Gods will that all men be saved.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says it is God’s will to rejoice in all circumstance

1 Peter 2:15 says we are to do good works

1 Thessalonians 4:13 says it is Gods will that you are free from sin

1 Peter 3:17 says that sometimes it is God’s will that you suffer for doing good.

  • Ask Yourself: “Is this something God would desire to happen?”

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect

Psalm 37:4 says delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. The reason you must delight yourself first in the Lord is that He will make His desires (will) your desires (will). This verse is not saying that God will make all your desires come to fruition it is saying that as you spend time with God you will want to do His will. As we fill our minds with the word of God then we will be better able to know what His will is for the areas in our lives that are not written in the Bible. Because we know God loves us and because we are seeking His will and not our own then we can trust that He is going to guide us through the power of the Holy Spirit. So, if you are seeking the will of God and not breaking any commandments of God, then you can trust Him to guide you in the way you should go.

  • Seek Godly Counsel

Proverbs 15:22 Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.

If the people you talk to are in God’s word and know God’s word, then talk to them but listen to what they say about the direction you are seeking. You must be careful because even some well-meaning Christians have not given Godly advice because they were not listening to God. Also be careful to not go to people just to get the answer you want, go to them to listen in order to follow the will of God. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says that God is not a God of confusion so when in doubt, pray it out. God is our loving Father and He will direct you to do His will. Jesus said it best in Mark 14:36 “ Not my will but yours be done” and in  Matthew 6 Jesus taught us to pray “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”

Whose will or desires are you following?  Are you turning to other things besides turning to God?  God’s desire is that you turn to Him for everything in life and that you rely on Him. There will be times when it will be difficult to trust God especially when those around you are giving advice that is opposite of what God is asking you to do and you will have to decide whose will you are going to follow.

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Isaiah 29:15- 24 Practical Atheism

What do you think of when you think of Atheism? When people hear the word Atheist or Atheism, they think of someone who does not believe in God or a god. The problem with most people who profess to be Christ followers is that they live their lives as practical Atheist because they live as if God does not exist. They do not involve God in their daily lives and only when a crises occurs do they begin to seek God with all of their heart, soul and mind. If we really examine our lives, we will see that there are areas in our lives that we leave God out of and so for the most part we have become Atheist in that area of our lives.

When we look at this passage of scripture, we can see how they acted during a crisis and see similarities to some of the ways we handle our lives and live as Atheist.  A Practical Atheist is a person who believes in God but lives their life as if He doesn’t exist.

Isaiah 29:15 Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?”

  1. Practical Atheist live their lives as if God cannot see

“Hide their plans from God and do deeds in the dark” The people Isaiah was talking about were making plans out of the sight of people and were having conversations about what to do while the entire time they were ignoring God and His wisdom and counsel. The devious plans they were making they thought no one would know about and yet Isaiah calls them out because God knows and sees them and God used His prophet to reveal to them that He knew. These people did not say “Who can see us” they simply thought it in their heads and so they were probably shocked when Isaiah said what they were thinking.

These people knew the way of God, but they chose to go their own way and do what they thought was best. Many times, we live our lives the same way when we make our plans thinking that God is either not interested in what we are doing or that He simply does not know “How the real-world works”

When we are dealing with issues, we tend to think God is not looking in our direction as our world is falling apart and that is when we begin to use our own abilities or the worlds strategies instead of relying on God. It is “in the dark”, which are areas in our lives that we think no one else knows about, where we must be careful to not think that God is not present or that He does not see.  If we are honest, we all have areas in our lives we hide from others and we foolishly think we can hide them from God just like Adam and Eve hid from God. God asked Adam and Eve where they were not because He did not know where they were but for them to see how foolish it was to hide from God. (Genesis 3:9)

John 3:19-20 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

Practical Atheist acknowledge God but do not submit every area of their lives to Him. Not only do they conceal their sins they condone their sins by saying that God approves of what they are doing. The people making the plans in the dark that Isaiah was addressing believed that God approved of their sinful ways. As foolish as it is to believe that God would approve of anything sinful many people have sin in their lives that they even think God approves of. This is how deceived we can become even while attending church every week. We all have areas in our lives that are known as blind spots and just like blind spots on a car are dangerous so is having blind spots in our own lives. Therefore we need each other because it is only as we have relationships with other Christians that we can have them lovingly show us the areas in our lives that do not meet Gods standards.

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

Yes, our sins are forgiven but we as Christ followers will still give an account to our Father for how we lived and how we used the resources He gave us.  When you realize that “There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) it should spark gratitude in your heart not that you can sin all you want because it is already forgiven.  

What areas of your life do you leave God out of?

Isaiah 29:16 You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

2) Practical Atheist put themselves above God

“should the potter be regarded as the clay? Making pottery was considered a high skill position that took a vision and the ability to be able to take a lump of clay and turn it into a useful object. The idea that Isaiah is discussing goes back to how God created man from the dust of the ground and formed him the way He wanted him to be. (Genesis 2:7)  Many of us would not say out loud that God made a mistake or that He does not know what He is doing but, in our hearts, and in our actions,  we assert that our intellect and ability is superior to His.  Have you ever questioned God and what He is doing or why He allows certain things to take place?

Should the object that was made question the one who made it? The politicians in Isaiah’s time were putting their wisdom and counsel above God’s counsel and the nation that was supposed to rely on God would no longer seek Him for His counsel because His counsel did not make sense to them. God already revealed His plans that He was going to crush Assyria, but they still believed they had to take matters into their own hands.  Christianity does not make sense because we believe that Jesus lived, died and rose again to remove our sins from us so that we do not have to earn our own way to heaven.  Many people think they must earn their own salvation because that does not make sense to them that Jesus took our sin and gave us righteousness.

“You have turned things around” or “Your Perversity” We can confuse the relationship with God when we think the created thing has the right to demand anything from the Creator. God has purposes that go beyond our understanding and just because we do not understand, or it is not the way we would have done it; we still must trust Him. The politicians believed they knew what was best for the country and they were not going to listen to God and they were also being led by false teachers who were leading them astray by making what they believed sound as if it was from God.

What areas in your life are you ignoring the counsel of God?

Isaiah 29:17-21 Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest? 18 In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book,
and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. 19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel. For the ruthless shall come to nothing and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off, 21 who by a word make a man out to be an offender, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate,  and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the rig.

3) Practical Atheist forget the Future Promises

In a Short Time” or “In a Little while” We cannot forget the future promises that God is going to make everything right in His timing. When we forget that God is going to be the one who is going to right the wrongs and renew all of creation then we try and control our circumstances. Practical Atheist are control freaks who think they are the ones who must make things happen instead of trusting in their creator. God will finish His complete work in us, and He will make a New Heaven and a New Earth and what Isaiah is describing is identical to what the book of Revelations says.

Revelation 21:1-4 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

We must keep the Divine Perspective when it comes not only to our lives but the world as well.  The Scoffer who ridicules the word of God and the wicked will be removed and all their evil dealings and all their deeds done in the dark will be exposed. They will be removed and the one who falsely accused someone will be done away with.

Isaiah 29:22-24 Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall no more be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale. 23 For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst,  they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. 24 And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmur will accept instruction.”

One day it will make sense all that God is doing, and we will rejoice at the works of His hands and we will praise Him because we will no longer be confused because we will have understanding.  We will praise Him because we will no longer grumble but humbly accept what God has done.  What we need to learn to do now is to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18) even when they are difficult to walk through because God has a plan for everything that is taking place.  We need to learn to thank God for all the good things He has done and not just grumble over the things we do not like or do not understand. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says we will see fully and be fully known when we get to Heaven and see God in His full Glory.  We may not understand what we are going through today but one day we will see the hand of our creator who not only had a plan but was involved in His plan for our lives.

The potter who is molding the clay is apart of our lives in a way we may not fully understand. The times that seem to be the most difficult are when God is molding and shaping us into what He wants us to be. But one thing we  can always be assured of that during our shaping process is that it is God’s hands who is molding and shaping us. When a potter would get done molding the clay you could see the potters fingerprints all over it and one day we will look back and see that God has had His hands and fingerprints in our daily lives.

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Isaiah 29:1-14 When you are going through the Motions Spiritually

If we are honest whether it is showing up at church, reading our bibles or going to Bible Studies can become more of a routine in our lives instead of authentic worship and a personal relationship with God.  Isaiah was dealing with people that had become spiritually insensitive to God Himself even though they were worshiping Him regularly. It is scary to think that you can sing about God and listen to messages about God and not be worshiping God. Even though that is the case for the people Isaiah is dealing with and that is the case for many people who call themselves Christians there is hope because God turns their hearts back to Him. Unfortunately, for many of us it takes difficult moments for us to get our hearts back in tune with God and that is something we can learn from the people of Isaiah’s day.

Isaiah 29:1-3 Ah, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David encamped! Add year to year; let the feasts run their round. Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be moaning and lamentation, and she shall be to me like an Ariel.[a] And I will encamp against you all around, and will besiege you with towers
and I will raise siege works against you.

  1. Allow the heat in your life to transform you

Wow to Ariel was a warning to Jerusalem that there was going to be consequences for their actions and the city of David was in jeopardy of receiving wrath from God.  Why was God upset? They were going through the motions in their religious practices and their worship was not personal, and their lifestyles reflected that they had no desire to do the things of God outside of the times they showed up to the temple.  King Hezekiah had purged the temple of all the false idols (2 Chronicles 29) but the people still had some of their pagan thinking and false idols in their lives that they incorporated into their worship of God. Because they were going through the motions of worship without putting their heart into it, God was going to turn up the heat in their life.

“It will be like an Ariel” which is the top of the altar where the fire was placed when the sacrifices were burnt. God is going to turn up the heat in their lives to show them the areas in their lives that they are disobedient in or the ones which they are not trusting Him. Heat reveals what you are made of and what comes out of your mouth shows what is really going on inside of you. (Matthew 15:18)

They were taking advantage of their relationship with God which something that has been called  “Cheap Grace” because we believe in the love, mercy, grace and forgiveness of God and so we go ahead and live our lives the way we want with no regard for God.  In Romans 6 Paul ask the question “should we go on sinning so grace could abound?” because the people were saying if it is by grace then we should sin more so God’s grace would be more.  If we go to a worship service , give our tithe, serve in a ministry but live however we want the rest of the week then that is going through the motions.

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]

Hebrews 12:28-29 says “for our God is a consuming fire.”

How we live our lives every day is an act of worship to God not just showing up and singing songs and saying scripture together as important and commanded by God that those things are. (Hebrews 10:24)

We need to be grateful for the love relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ and not treat God as ungrateful children who have taken advantage of His love, mercy and Grace.

“And I will encamp around you all around” To get them to change God will allow their enemies to come around them and put the pressure on them. God is the one who is saying He is going to allow this to happen and He is going to use their enemy to bring them back into an intimate relationship with Himself.It is strange to think that God can use evil people for the sake of His children, but we see God do this time and time again in scripture. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 even Paul said God sent a Messenger or Satan to keep him humble. Have you ever thought that the people you hate God is using to show you areas in your life that you need to give to Him?

God allowed their place of worship to be destroyed because they gave Him halfhearted worship because God is more concerned about His children’s hearts rather than the place of worship. Is God turning up the heat in your life? What do you think God is trying to show you about your own life or your relationship to Him?

Isaiah 29:4 And you will be brought low; from the earth you shall speak, and from the dust your speech will be bowed down; your voice shall come from the ground like the voice of a ghost, and from the dust your speech shall whisper.

  • Humble yourself

You will be brought low” The people had pride in their military, their wisdom and with the alliances they had made with foreign countries and thought that they could not be defeated. The people of God turned to everyone else but God Himself in their daily lives and only acknowledged God at the Temple.

The people will no longer be arrogant and proud but now their speech will be a whisper as they realize all their plans will not work.

We have too much confidence in our own abilities and we fail to turn to God because our own abilities and wisdom get in the way. The only time we turn to God is when all of our resources and abilities run out and that is exactly what happened to the people in Isaiah’s day.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

To Humble oneself is to make yourself lower. When you humble yourself before God then you are acknowledging that He is God and you are not.

Isaiah 29:5- 8 But the multitude of your foreign foes shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the ruthless like passing chaff. And in an instant, suddenly, you will be visited by the Lord of hosts
with thunder and with earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire. And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, all that fight against her and her stronghold and distress her, shall be like a dream, a vision of the night. As when a hungry man dreams, and behold, he is eating, and awakes with his hunger not satisfied, or as when a thirsty man dreams, and behold, he is drinking, and awakes faint, with his thirst not quenched, so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.

  • See What God does to your Enemies

We tend to focus on our enemies instead of what God is doing in our lives and the people He has placed around us we are supposed to tell about Him. “Your many foes will be like fine dust” Although God used their enemies for His purposes it does not mean God is not going to punish the people who acted against His people. God’s enemies are like Chaff which are light and have no value to them. (Psalm 1:4) and in an instant God will be the one to right all the wrongs. God’s enemies are living in a fantasy land if they think that they will defeat Him and God says that they will be like a hungry man who dreams he has eaten only wake up hungry or a thirsty man who dreams he drank to only wake up thirsty.  To show His grace God will destroy their enemies after He is done using them for His purposes. You do not need to ask God about your enemies and when He is going to deal with them, just trust Him through it all that He loves you and is using your enemies to work on you.

Isaiah 29:9-12 Astonish yourselves[b] and be astonished; blind yourselves and be blind!
Be drunk,[c] but not with wine; stagger,[d] but not with strong drink! 10 For the Lord has poured out upon you  a spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes (the prophets), and covered your heads (the seers).11 And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” 12 And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.”

  • Remove your spiritual blinders

“Make yourselves Stop The people are called to reevaluate themselves in their relationship with God because they were spiritually blind but did not realize it. The people were shutting their eyes or covering them so they could not see so their spiritual blindness was caused by themselves and they could no longer trust in God.  Because they blinded themselves to the things of God, He allowed them to be put in a deep sleep as part of His judgement on them. To be put in a deep sleep means that they are in a spiritual coma because they refused to listen to God’s Word. The prophet’s eyes are shut, and the seers have their heads covered so now the religious leaders cannot even give guidance to the people. Some refuse to open it and some cannot read it and the nation that was privileged to have the word of God could no longer follow it. Although the people blinded themselves God allowed them to continue in the blindness. Romans 1 is a scary chapter where God allows people to be turned over to more wickedness and blindness. The phrase “God gave them up” is repeated three times in the chapter showing that the more the people ignored the things of God the more blind they became. The people sang the songs and repeated the scriptures but were blind to the things of God and that is because we can become so ingrained in our sin patterns that we do not even see them as sins anymore.

Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

The Galatian church was being deceived by false prophets but even worse they were deceiving themselves. We mock God when we sin deliberately without caring about what God thinks and God will discipline His children and He will show them the blind spots they have in their lives. (Hebrews 12) We are also called as brothers and sisters in Christ to lovingly show people their sins they may not see as sins as well. (Matthew 18; ) This is why being a part of a church is important because we need other people to sometimes point out the sin in our lives.

Isaiah 29:13-14 And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, 14 therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”

  • Check your Heart

“Their hearts are far from me” On the outside their worship looked great but God was looking at the heart. The heart represents the persons entire being, their thoughts, motives, desires and emotions. Our motives can be hidden from others but not from God. Everyone may have looked like they were worshiping God in the temple and maybe even on the outside, but it was not true worship from the heart. Reverential worship is more than just singing songs and proclaiming Gods glory it is an entirety of our lives lived out for His glory. In Matthew 15:8-9 Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13 to the religious leaders to show them what God really looks for in worship. The religious leaders had all the outward appearance, but Jesus knew their heart.

If your mind, will and emotions could be shown on a screen what would they reveal about you? We all tend to be deceived either by others or by ourselves and we must do a heart check. Like a check engine light on a car we either ignore the warning or we choose not to fix the problem it is indicating we have. You have a check “Your Heart light” which is your mouth. What comes out of your mouth shows what is going on inside of you.

Matthew 15:18-19 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander

Are you worshiping God with some areas of your life but not with others?

Are you showing up on Sunday but the rest of the week you do not acknowledge Him?

Are you willing to talk to someone about the blind spots in your life?

What warnings has your mouth given you about things that need to be checked?

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Isaiah 28:23-29 Are you Listening?

We are all listening to someone whether it be our friends, our family, or even our own thinking. Unfortunately, even people who love us can steer us in the wrong direction and our own thinking can be our worse enemy when trying to follow what God wants. Isaiah was warning the people to trust in God by not listening to bad politicians and drunk religious leaders and Isaiah is going to continue to encourage them to not listen to the wrong people.

Isaiah 28:23 Give ear, and hear my voice; give attention, and hear my speech.

  1. Decide who you are going to Listen to.

“Listen and hear my voice” Isaiah was trying to get their attention and it would be equivalent to “Listen UP”  We are living in a day of information overload and there are many voices trying to get our attention and it can be overwhelming at times when you get so much information that you do not know what to listen to. I delete many emails about leadership in the church that are good things for ministry, but the reality is I can only listen/ read   so many people and so I have to make a decision who I am going to listen to and read.

We all must decide who we are listening to and of course it seems that in our busy lives God is the last one we listen to.  Isaiah was trying to get the people to not follow the ways of others (28:1-4) the drunk religious leaders. (28:7-13) and to not listen to their politicians who were leading them toward death (28:14-22)  A famous passage from the book of Joshua sums up the decision we must all make because we are all listening to someone

Joshua 24:15  And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

You must make a conscience effort to follow the ways of God because there will be many people, including those in church work, who will lead you astray.

Isaiah 28:24- 26 Does he who plows for sowing plow continually?  Does he continually open and harrow his ground? 25 When he has leveled its surface, does he not scatter dill, sow cumin,
and put in wheat in rows and barley in its proper place,  and emmer[a] as the border? 26 For he is rightly instructed; his God teaches him.

2) Listen to God’s Instructions

“His God instructs him and teaches him the right way” A farmer would be successful if they would listen to God’s wise counsel about how to farm but a farmer who decided to ignore the laws of God and what He established would only find ruin.God has designed us and this world to follow certain patterns that many call nature but the reality God is a God of order and has established how we should live. It is God who gives the farmer the wisdom to live the “Right Way” and If there is a “Right Way” then that means, there is a “Wrong Way”.  Every crop would be planted by what it was but also depending on soil type it was planted in the soil where it would see the best results.  God instructs us in how to live but many decide that God does not know best or that God does not exist at all.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death

Every rule God has established is for our good and for what is best for His creation. Not only does God have a plan on how we should live but it also means that everything we are going through has a purpose.  Isaiah then asks a series of questions that give the same answer to show them that just like a farmer God knows what He is doing.  Does He plow continually? Does he keep on breaking the soil? Does he sow randomly? Just like a farmer who knows how to work the soil God must till up our own wrong thinking and habits and break them up so that God’s word can be planted in our hearts. It’s tough to get through at times because we have preconceived ideas and thoughts that have been ingrained in our heads about how things are and how they should be. We must decide if God is worth listening to and then we must make a concerted effort to make the changes necessary. Change is not easy to make in our lives just like farming is not easy when the soil needs to be prepared.

Luke 8:11-15 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

This is exactly what takes place with people in church as they forget what they have even listened to so we must make an effort to allow the word of God to work on our heart long after we have heard it. Satan will distract you with the busyness of life and literally rob the word of God from you.

Isaiah 28:27-29  Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin,
but dill is beaten out with a stick, and cumin with a rod. 28 Does one crush grain for bread? No, he does not thresh it forever;[b] when he drives his cart wheel over it with his horses, he does not crush it. 29 This also comes from the Lord of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.

3) Listen to God’s Advice

“He gives wondrous advice; He gives great wisdom” Isaiah is describing the unique ways that each seed must be treated for it to not be useless and we must remember Gods ways are not on a whim but are carefully planned out and specific. We listen to every ones advice in our culture from sports to  fashion and we have all these talk shows that tell us advice and opinions but it is God who gives us the good advice. In Matthew 5:38-40 We are told to turn the other cheek, but the world tells us that if we do that then people will take advantage of us. We must ask ourselves if we are going to take God’s Advice or the Worlds Advice?  In Proverbs 15:1 WE are told that a soft answer turns away wrath, but the world tells us to not back down or to let people walk all over us. So, we must ask ourselves if we are going to take God’s Advice or the Worlds Advice?

Psalm 32:8-9 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.

God’s counsel is intimate as He is watching over us, but He does warn us to not be like a stubborn horse or mule who will not stay the course unless they are forced to. God is not just winging it with your life and so we can trust Him but many times we are like stubborn mules who fight Him while He is leading us the way we should go.

Psalm 119:105-106 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules.

The enlightened path is not whatever we want it to be but it Gods way of righteousness which keeps us out of the snares of life.  Hebrews 12 says that sin entangles us and many people ruin their lives by getting entangled in sin because they did not listen to God and His instruction.

Who are you listening to? Is there areas of your life that need to be tilled up so that the word of God can be planted in that area of your life? Are you making time to listen to God on a daily and maybe an hourly basis by reading His word?  Do you believe God watches over you with a careful eye and believe that “He will never leave you nor forsake you”? (Hebrews 13:5)

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Isaiah 28:14-23 Scoffers

There is a group of people who the Bible calls scoffers and to scoff means to show great disrespect with mocking laughter or behavior. All of the warnings of Isaiah about how the people should live is not only being ignored they are also making fun of Isaiah and his message. Jesus told us that the treatment Isaiah received that we will receive as well if we live for Him.

Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

This is difficult for us when we want to tell someone what we believe but we get ridiculed for it. With statements like “You are on the wrong side of History” of “you believe in fairy tales; I believe in science”. These statements can silence us because we are told what we believe is outdated and for the uneducated. We will face people who not only ignore what we are trying to tell them but there will be some who will scoff at us as well. The main reason for this is because they want to be the god of their own lives and live how they want without having to submit or surrender their lives to the God who is the creator of all.

Proverbs 21:24 Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man    who acts with arrogant pride.

It is pride that keeps people from accepting the truth but a truth we must share no matter how much they make fun of us.

Isaiah 28:14-15 Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem! 15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter

1)   Scoffers refuse to be corrected

“We have made lies our refuge and in falsehood we have taken shelter” (Vs 15)

Proverbs 13:1 A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

This was not people that rebelled occasionally, scoffers are ingrained with a habit of mocking and ignoring God’s principles.  The problem with scoffers is that they were using their power and influence to lead others with them down the wrong path. Through intimidation and lies they deceived others into following them. They reject what God has provided because they place their hope in deceptive covenant with death.

What they thought would bring hope Isaiah interprets it as bringing death. The people were placing their trust in Egypt for protection just like many people turn to other people or things for salvation instead of turning to Jesus Christ.  What the people in Isaiah’s day were ignoring is the warnings of the destruction to come. People today ignore the warnings of the destruction to come as well and that destruction is their souls separated from God. Many people falsely believe that they are on “Good Terms” with God when the Bible tells us we are separated from Him. They believed that” When the whip passes through it will not come upon us” (15) “I’m good with God” “We all go to Heaven” “We are all God’s Children” are common things you will hear from people.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death

Since people are refusing the life that Jesus offers (John 10:10) they are choosing and making a covenant with death. (A legal contract that is binding) Some believe that this goes further than their military agreement with Egypt but also the faith and hope they had put into foreign gods. They were mixing their worship of the true God with religious practices of other religions believing that praying and offering sacrifices to other gods was just as good as praying to God Himself. Scoffers do not want to be corrected so they search out people who tell them what they want to hear and not people who will tell them the truth. 2 Timothy 4:3 says they look for teachers that agree with them because some people are not deceived some people purposely give into the deception so they can live how they want.

Isaiah 28:16-21 therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am the one who has laid[a] as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation:‘ Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ 17 And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line;
and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter.”18 Then your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol will not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through, you will be beaten down by it. 19 As often as it passes through it will take you; for morning by morning it will pass through, by day and by night; and it will be sheer terror to understand the message. 20 For the bed is too short to stretch oneself on,
and the covering too narrow to wrap oneself in. 21 For the Lord will rise up as on Mount Perazim;  as in the Valley of Gibeon he will be roused; to do his deed—strange is his deed! and to work his work—alien is his work!

2)   Scoffers reject God’s gift

“I am the one who has laid a foundation”

What God builds is built on a steady foundation that will not crumble or fall, it is a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, and a sure foundation. The architect would be sure that the foundation could handle the weight of the building. Of course we know that the foundation that Christianity is built on is Jesus Christ.  Isaiah 28:16 is quoted three times in the New Testament and each time the foundation refers to Jesus Christ. (Romans 9:30-33; 10:9-13; and 1 Peter 2:6-8)

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Salvation is free and cannot be earned only accepted (Ephesians 2:8-9) because all of the works we do are nothing if not built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. When people say they do a bunch of good works what they must realize is that if they are not built on the foundation of Jesus Christ then they are going to crumble and fall just like a beautiful building that is built on a faulty foundation.

The reason for this is because what God requires is “A plumb line of Justice and righteousness “and because most people have a wrong view of sin and a wrong view of God they think that they can build a house by their own standards. We cannot meet the standards on our own doing or by any other way than through Jesus Christ. The standard to be in the presence of God is no sin and guilt and Romans 3:10 tells us that no one is righteous and Romans 3:21-22 tells us that we obtain our righteousness not from the law but from accepting Jesus Christ.   2 Corinthians 5:21 says that Jesus took our place because we could not meet the standard of God.Jesus was the only one to walk the earth sinless but became sin for us so we could be made (Not become) righteous. Matthew 5:17 says that Jesus came to fulfill the law something we could not do on our own but people still believe that by their works and their good behavior they can earn it.

 “Your agreement with Sheol will not stand and when the scourge passes through you will be beaten down by it.” (18)

Matthew 7:24-27 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Both houses looked identical but in the end only one was built on the rock which is Jesus Christ because no other foundation will last when they stand before God because only Jesus life is acceptable to God.

“As often as it passes through, day and night it passes through and it will be sheer terror to understand the message” (19)

The scoffers will understand the message but by this time it will be too late. The Assyrians would not just attack once but they would come through several times destroying people and their land and just like in Luke 16 the story of the rich man and Lazarus the rich man knew his terror would not end .

For the bed is too short to stretch oneself on and the covering too narrow to wrap oneself in”(20)

In a bed you find rest, but Isaiah is telling them the bed they are making will not bring them rest or comfort because what they were looking to for comfort will be a bed they will not find rest in.

For the Lord will rise up… to do His deed… strange is His deed… Alien is His work (21)

This is not something that God wants to do but His Holy and righteous character cannot ignore their rejection of the foundation. John 3:36 says the wrath of God is still on those who do not accept Jesus Christ but the wrath of God was put on Jesus for those who do accept Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 28:22-23 Now therefore do not scoff, lest your bonds be made strong;
for I have heard a decree of destruction from the Lord God of hosts against the whole land.

23 Give ear, and hear my voice;  give attention, and hear my speech.

3)   Scoffers still have time to repent

“Hear my voice.. Hear my speech” (23) Isaiah is pleading with them to not ignore the warnings of God about what is to come. The Scoffers believed that God would not judge them and that God would not use their enemies to punish them.  Again, because of the wrong view of God and the wrong view of our sins people do not think that the wrath of God applies to them.

Romans 2:4-5 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

As we will see this story ends with King Hezekiah repenting and turning to God and God accepts His heart change but later generations did not and the full wrath fell on Jerusalem in 586 BC God is always willing to accept a willing heart no matter how much they have done on this earth and no matter how close to death they are. The reason why God can accept a person no matter how they have lived and how much time they have on earth is because it is not our life that makes us righteous but only the life Jesus.

John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

 “If someone is scoffing at your loving words of truth, don’t take it personally- they’re scoffing at God. When we get bent out of shape and react as though people are rejecting us, were operating under a bit of a god complex. We aren’t God, so we need not act like people are disrespecting us when they turn their backs on truth. .. On judgment day, people aren’t going to answer to you and me. They will face the Lord. We need to keep that in mind and not personalize disagreement.” (God, Greed and the Prosperity Gospel, Costi W. Hinn, PG 207)

Who do you know that needs to hear the truth that God’s wrath will be poured out one day? Regardless of how we are treated we have to speak the truth in love and warn people of the wrath that is to come.

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Isaiah 28:7-13 False Teachers

God is going to continue His rebuke through his prophet Isaiah, but this time God is turning His attention to the religious leaders and their failure to lead the people in the ways of God. Just because someone has a title does not mean that they are leading you in the right direction and we have to make sure that who we are listening to are really messengers of God so we are not led in the wrong direction.

Acts 17:10-11 The brothers[b] immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

The Teachings of the Apostle Paul and Silas were examined through scripture to make sure what they were saying was true. The word Examine is a judicial investigation but many times we do not take the time to examine or question what we are hearing from people who are considered spiritual teachers.

It was after the people examined the scriptures after listening to Paul and Silas that many of them believed in Christ because they compared the Old Testament prophecies with what Paul and Silas were saying about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This should be the habit of all of us no matter what talks or even music we are listening to as we might write down a key phrase or saying and look up what is being said. The problem is most people are happy with what they believe so they do not want to find out the truth but as we get closer to the end of time there will be more deception and more false prophets for us to look out for. (Matthew 24:24; 1 Timothy 4:1-2)

2 Timothy 4:3-4  For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

With that being said let’s look at some of the warnings that we can learn from Isaiah and what we can look for when seeing false prophets.

Isaiah 28:7-8 These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink; the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are swallowed by[c] wine, they stagger with strong drink, they reel in vision, they stumble in giving judgment. For all tables are full of filthy vomit, with no space left.

1)   False Teachers minds are confused

“They stagger with strong drink they reel in vision”

There is some debate whether they were really drunk or just confused in their thinking but the main point is that the advice they were giving was clouded and misleading just like drunk people who make poor decisions so were the priest and the prophets who were supposed to be guiding the people. Like a drunken person who thinks they are giving great advice their speech is ridiculous. If they were drinking wine, then that was forbidden for them to do according to Leviticus 10:8-10 which shows that they have given into the ways of the world and have disregarded their duties as priest.

Ezekiel 34:1-6 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

“For all the tables are full of filthy vomit with no space left” I cannot handle vomit and that is exactly what God calls their teaching and instruction of His people. The job of the shepherds was to feed the sheep and God compares those who are in ministry to shepherds with the responsibility of caring, feeding and protecting the sheep from predators. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 that man is not to live by bread alone but by the word of God, but God says that their teaching is not only worthless but disgusting and unprofitable. Just like if you showed up for dinner and there was vomit all over the table is the dramatic way that this is being said. Many people are being led astray by false shepherds today who are steering people in the wrong direction and give them what the people want to hear instead of what they need to hear.

“Stagger” Isaiah describes them as those who are unable to carry out their task that they have been assigned. They were not caring for the sheep but they were only caring for themselves and their own needs and only cared about their own popularity

Isaiah 28:9-10 “To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message?
Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast? 10 For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”

2)   False Teachers reject the simple teaching of God.

“To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain his message?” There is some debate as to who is speaking here and if Isaiah is addressing the false Teachers or the False Teachers addressing Isaiah. Since there is no indication then I am leaning toward that Isaiah is continuing to speak. Isaiah addresses them by showing them the simple word of God by using repetition and he points out their knowledge and asks why anyone would want to listen to their message.  Unfortunately, people did listen to them just like people listen to false teachers today.

Isaiah answers his own question by saying that those who are not strong in what they believe are the ones who are listening to them and those are the ones they are leading them astray. For false teachers there is always a deeper level of knowledge rather than the simple truths explained by God in His word. False Prophets will point you away from the simplicity of God’s word and point you toward sensationalism of experiences in order to convince you that you can have a deeper walk with God and this is why the Eastern religions as well as mysticism is being found in the churches today. 

“Historic Gnosticism was the belief that some people retain a secret, higher knowledge of spiritual matters and are, therefore, elite in their understanding and power. … Gnosticism contradicts and undermines the Gospel truth that every man and woman can have Christ to the fullest regardless of race, color, or creed. (Defining Deception, Costi W. Hinn and Anthony G. Wood, PG. 105)

Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:21 quotes this passage from Isaiah showing the people that God does not use unknown tongues to communicate to His people and we can say the same thing about unknown sources or experiences.  False teachers do not like for you to address their teaching and many people even believe that to point out false teaching only causes division in the church. They use the passage in Revelation 12:10 which calls Satan the accuser of the brethren and so they take that to mean that any rebuke or questioning is from the devil. They also use Psalm 105:15 which says do not touch my anointed is used to say that we are to do nothing to those who are called Gods anointed but that verse is referring to physical harm and not questioning their teachings.

1 Timothy 1:3-4 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship[a] from God that is by faith.

The Gospel is good news because there is bad news. When false teaching comes in it robs from the simplicity of the good news of salvation and people believe that there are certain things, they have to do to be in a right relationship with God other than accepting the free gift of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 28:11-13 For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the Lord will speak to this people,12  to whom he has said, “This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose”; yet they would not hear. 13 And the word of the Lord will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept,  line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little, that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

3)   False Teachers place burdens on their followers

“This is rest… yet you would not hear” The reality is they have made God into their own image and have not accepted the God who has been revealed in Scripture and because of that they find no rest

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

When anyone adds to the work that Jesus Christ has already done then they are adding a burden upon you that will cause you to not find rest. Because we believe we must earn God’s salvation people will add requirements to the gift of Jesus Christ. We are created to do good works, but those good works do not put us in a right relationship with God only Jesus can do that.

Because of their rejection of God, God will now allow them to be invaded by foreigners who will lead them where they do not want to go and many people would suffer because of the leadership of the religious teachers. Many people are still in bondage today by religious leaders because they are blamed for their problems because they do not have enough faith or because they spoke something into existence into their lives. False teachers believe “You declare your own reality” instead of relying on the sovereignty of God. Joel Osteen says, “If you are not receiving the blessings of God you might need to step it up a notch and get the Angels working for you”. When we put faith in our faith, we are putting our hope and our trust in ourselves for our healing and worse, for our salvation. Faith is not a prerequisite for healing (See John 9 and the man born blind) and Jesus did not heal everyone because the ultimate healing He brought was us being in a right relationship with God.

“Be broken, snared and taken” Unfortunately, false teachers cause people harm and brokenness and poor countries are being exploited by false teachers making promises they cannot keep and blame the people for their lack of faith for why they are not healed or wealthy. Can you imagine as a parent praying for a child and being told that they died because you did not have enough faith? This happens all the time and people walk away from God because they have been taught lies about Him.

The people would suffer because the spiritual leaders of their day were looking out for themselves and not teaching the people the truths of God’s word. They were ignoring the elementary teachings of Christ and the fact that those things should have been taught repeatedly so that people would not only follow God but would stay out of the traps of sin. Sin has consequences and when the religious leaders stop calling sin what God calls sin then it traps them into deeper cycles of that sin to the point of brokenness. When False Teachers teach things separate from the word of God then people suffer and many people have stopped seeking after God because of the lies they were taught about God.

One of the best things you can do is to take what anyone is teaching and or singing about and test it with scripture. What makes false teachers so dangerous is that the majority of what they teach is truth mixed in with a lie. I think it is best to end with Jesus own words about false teachers.

Matthew 24:4-5 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.

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