Friday, March 24, 2017, 8:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Look to God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 30:1-18 (Select vv. NASB).
Rebellious Children (vv. 1-3)
“Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the Lord,
“Who execute a plan, but not Mine,
And make an alliance, but not of My Spirit,
In order to add sin to sin;
Who proceed down to Egypt
Without consulting Me,
To take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh
And to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
“Therefore the safety of Pharaoh will be your shame
And the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation.
The Lord is showing me two ways in which this applies to the church today. The first has to do with individual Christians (or professing Christians) who are holding on to old sin patterns, like they are personal treasures, and who are not willing to relinquish them. They are willfully going against God’s design and purpose for their lives. And, they are plotting out how they might continue in their sin when they think no one is looking, i.e. when they are behind closed doors, while outwardly they are putting on a façade that all is well, and that they have no sin issues that are presently plaguing them.
Rather than putting their faith and trust in the Lord to meet all of their needs, they are going after idols of men or the things and pleasures of this world to satisfy them. Instead of embracing the truth of God’s Word and his holiness and righteousness, they are holding on to the sinful desires of their flesh, i.e. to the sins which so easily entangle them. As an alternative to trusting in the Lord and in his deliverance from slavery to sin, they covet their chains (bondage, addiction to sin) because the sins are emotionally comforting to them. Thus, they don’t want to let them go. Yet, this will be to their shame and humiliation. Their sins will not profit them at all.
The second way the Lord is showing me that these truths apply to the church today has to do with the church collectively, as the body of Christ, though not all the church. Much of the church here in America has incorporated the church under the authority (head) of the federal government of the USA. The government is, in essence, the church’s “Egypt,” who they went to for protection rather than to God. They thought that incorporating under the 501c3 non-profit tax status would provide them a tax shelter so that they would not have to pay taxes, but all churches were already tax exempt. So, what this did was it turned the church, which is Christ’s body, into a business, with the government as its head, in place of Christ. Yet, this will be to their shame. The government will be of no help.
Who Refuse to Listen (vv. 8-11)
Now go, write it on a tablet before them
And inscribe it on a scroll,
That it may serve in the time to come
As a witness forever.
For this is a rebellious people, false sons,
Sons who refuse to listen
To the instruction of the Lord;
Who say to the seers, “You must not see visions”;
And to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right,
Speak to us pleasant words,
“Get out of the way, turn aside from the path,
Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”
Yet, this is not speaking of those who don’t know any better. They have the Word of God. They can read what it teaches them, especially about sin and about unholy alliances. They have the Word of God taught to them, too, though not all are hearing the truth in their gatherings, because not all preachers are teaching the truth. But, many of them do know the truth, but they just aren’t listening. They have the instructions of the Lord, but they don’t want to hear them, so they close their ears to them. And, they don’t want to hear those who are speaking the truth, either, because it makes them uncomfortable, because it challenges them to obey the truth.
And, so they persecute, falsely accuse, reject, hate and malign those who are telling them the truth of what God’s Word says about sin. They don’t want to hear the gospel as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, but they want a sugar-coated half-truth gospel which requires no death to sin, no repentance, no submission to Christ, and no walking in holiness. They want to believe they can say some magic words and they have their salvation and their promise of heaven guaranteed no matter how they live their lives from this point forward. So, if someone teaches the truth that, if we hold on to our old lives of sin, we will lose them for eternity, then that person is hated and rejected. Yet, that is what Jesus and his NT apostles taught (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-10).
In Repentance and Rest (vv. 15-18)
For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said,
“In repentance and rest you will be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength.”
But you were not willing,
And you said, “No, for we will flee on horses,”
Therefore you shall flee!
“And we will ride on swift horses,”
Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift.
One thousand will flee at the threat of one man;
You will flee at the threat of five,
Until you are left as a flag on a mountain top
And as a signal on a hill.
Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.
So, God is saying here that, if you are holding on to sin (patterns, addiction, i.e. the practice of sin), or if you are clinging to unholy alliances, whatever they may be, and if you are looking to these things (or people) to meet your needs, rather than looking to the Lord, then you need to forsake your sins (repent) and turn to follow Jesus Christ with your lives.
Yet, many are responding to such words with “No!” Maybe they don’t do this (say this) with their words, but they say it (do it) with their actions. They will not yield to God, and they will not forsake their sinful practices or their unholy alliances, because they want to hold on (cling) to them, because they give them some false sense of security and/or comfort. Although God has taught them to flee sin, and the temptation to sin, they are not fleeing. Instead, they are giving the devil a foothold in their lives by making provision for the flesh. They are playing with temptation rather than running from it, and then they wonder why they can’t gain victory over sin.
The Bible, though, teaches that God disciplines his children, and that he scourges and reproves those he loves. “He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (See Heb. 12:1-11). So, we should not be surprised if God sends some divine discipline our way in order to correct wrong behavior, to get his children to repent of their sins, and to get them to return to their Lord as their only God (treasure). Yet, not all discipline is to correct sinful practices, but it is to prune us so we will be more fruitful, and to mature us in Christ, and to make us into Christ’s image.
The bottom line in all this is that God longs to be gracious to you, if you will respond to his pleas to you to repent of (turn from) your sins, and if you will trust him to meet all of your needs. He wants to have compassion on you, which is why he waits, and why he is patient with you. His Word teaches us that if we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin) or according to our flesh, or according to our old sinful lives (patterns) that we will die in our sins. We have to take this very seriously! Our eternity depends on it! He will not wait forever. One day he is going to come as judge, and he will keep his word. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and if we lose (forsake) our old lives, and follow him, we will live with him for eternity.
Look to God / An Original Work
November 11, 2016
Fear not. Look to God.
He will strengthen you. He is your Rock.
He’ll meet all your needs.
Rest in Him, and be filled with His peace.
When sorrow fills your life, pray to the Lord.
Believe His promises. Trust in His Word.
He’ll lead you each day.
Give your life to Him. Follow His ways.
Lean on Him today.
He will comfort you. Trust Him always.
Read His Word and pray.
Tell the world of His love and His grace.
When trials come your way, be not afraid.
God watches over you. Be not dismayed.
He’ll work all for good,
For the called of God. Jesus, they love.
Sing songs. Praise your Lord.
Lift your voice to Him. Shout out His Word.
He forgave your sins,
Cleansed your heart. You are made new within.
When you are faced with temptation to fear,
Remember God will be with you. He’s near.
He’ll take care of you.
He will keep you in His love, tis true.