Thursday, May 18, 2017, 5:14 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Near the Cross.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 56 (ESV).
Hold it Fast (vv. 1-2)
Thus says the Lord:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my righteousness be revealed.
Blessed is the man who does this,
and the son of man who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
In the book of James, we read that we need to not be just hearers of the Word, but we need to be doers of the Word. We need to not just read the Bible and then walk away and forget what we learned, but we need to be putting into practice what it teaches us. In Romans we read that Jesus died for our sins that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk (conduct our lives), not according to our sinful flesh, but according to the Spirit. For, if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. So, it is essential that we not only believe with our minds, but by doing what we say we believe, we show that we believe also in our hearts – in the center of our being.
We need to be people who practice righteousness, holiness, honesty, integrity, fair dealings with people, and impartiality. We must do what is righteous, i.e. what is pleasing (or approved) or is right in the eyes of the Lord, i.e. what is pure, upright, honest, moral, just, and decent, etc. Not only must we be people of integrity, living holy lives, pleasing to God, and practicing what is right in the eyes of God, but we must hold it fast. In other words, we need to stand on the Word of God, and on the truth of the gospel, and on the teachings of Jesus and of his NT apostles. It is absolutely necessary that we hold fast to godly character and to holy living, and not forsake these to run after false gods, but that we remain steadfast in doing what is pleasing to and approved by God, and is right in his eyes.
The book of Isaiah is in the Old Testament. The Jews of this time period were required by God to keep the Sabbath, which was every Saturday. This was to be a day in the week set apart for God, for worship of him, and for resting from their work (their labors). In the New Testament, believers in Jesus Christ are not given the same command. In fact, it appears that we are not to judge those who do keep it or those who don’t (Col. 2:16). Yet, we do read in the book of Hebrews about a Sabbath-Rest (Heb. 4:1-13). We enter into that rest when we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, with God-given faith. This rest is our salvation, and it is eternal life with God. And, it is conditional upon our obedience to Christ and to his Word, yet not in absolute perfection, but in regular practice, keeping our hands from doing evil. For, one day Jesus is coming back to judge and to take his bride to be with him forever. We need to be ready for HIM.
A House of Prayer (vv. 6-8)
“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
and holds fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.”
The Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
“I will gather yet others to him
besides those already gathered.”
To a Jew, a Gentile (non-Jew) would be a foreigner, I believe. We, who are true followers of Jesus Christ, have joined ourselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love his name, and to be his servants. Thus, we are to live out the truth of the gospel in our everyday lives, keeping to (obeying) the Lord’s commandments (his instructions) to us, his followers. And, this is not just Old Testament. This is what the New Testament writers taught, as well. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we don’t live by the truth. If we don’t obey Jesus’ commands to us, we don’t love him, we don’t know him, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God. We have to be not just hearers, but doers of the Word.
When we walk in obedience to our Lord, we submit to his will for our lives, and we walk in his ways, and in his truth, abiding in him and in his Word. We, thus, experience much in the way of spiritual blessings. We are joyful in him, for we know there is no better place to be than right in the center of his will for our lives. We give our lives to him, as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our reasonable and acceptable worship of him. We no longer conform our lives after the pattern of this sinful world, but we are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, so that by our lives we show what is God’s perfect and pleasing will (Ro. 12:1-2).
His house, which is now in our hearts, is a house of prayer, if we are truly following him with our lives. It may not be that we have formal times of prayer each day where we read a list of requests to him, but that we have hearts that are in an attitude of prayer all day and night. We can talk with him throughout the day, and this way our Lord can speak to us 24/7, as we go throughout our days, because we are in tune to his voice, and we are listening for him to speak, and we respond to what he says with obedience. Yet, again, this is not to say we will live in sinless perfection, or that we will never fail, but that our lifestyles should reflect Christ and our salvation from sin, and our commitments to him as owner-master of our lives.
All You Beasts (vv. 9-12)
All you beasts of the field, come to devour—
all you beasts in the forest.
His watchmen are blind;
they are all without knowledge;
they are all silent dogs;
they cannot bark,
dreaming, lying down,
loving to slumber.
The dogs have a mighty appetite;
they never have enough.
But they are shepherds who have no understanding;
they have all turned to their own way,
each to his own gain, one and all.
“Come,” they say, “let me get wine;
let us fill ourselves with strong drink;
and tomorrow will be like this day,
great beyond measure.”
Yet, not all who call themselves Christians live like we just described. Many make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but they are not doers of the Word; they are not doers of Christ’s righteousness, even though Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). They are not keepers of justice, nor do they hold fast to the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles. They don’t refrain from practicing evil. They don’t love the Lord and honor his name as holy. They don’t minister to him, but to themselves (See: Ez. 34). Their sacrifices to God, if there are any, are for selfish purposes, and not the kind God desires, anyway. Their hearts and lives are not given over to the Lord, but to please self, so the house of prayer does not live inside them. Their character has not been transformed of the Spirit of God, but has remained the same as before.
Some of their characteristic traits may be that they are charming, deceitful, entertaining, amusing, frivolous, shameful and vile. They come up short on submission to Christ, because they want to go their own way. They like to escape life via what is not real or via what is a cheap substitute for pure intimacy with God, rather than stand for what is righteous and holy. Some of the ways in which they are involved are crooked, twisted, immoral, abusive, and manipulative, while denying their sin, and covering it up with lies. They perform in order to try to appear righteous on the outside, while inside they are weighed down with sin, but they will not let go. So, they hide their sin, and do their evil deeds in secret, thinking no one knows, but God knows.
The Lord is pointing me particularly today to the US government and their political allies as fitting this description. The US government likes to present an image on the outside that they are the ones being persecuted by the nations of the world, but it is the other way around. They like to act as though they must protect us, American citizens, from terrorists and from wicked regimes, but they are the world’s worst terrorists, and the most wicked of regimes, for they go throughout the world killing at will, murdering innocents, attacking followers of Jesus, confiscating property and lands, and destroying and taking over other nations, and all in the name of good will and democracy, but that is a bold-faced lie! And, then they cover-up all their evil with made-up news stories which are to deceive the American public.
Our leaders are good at utilizing false flag operations, too, in order to have an excuse to bomb “the tar out of” other nations. They are using such tactics as this within the USA, too, in order to advance their New World Order agenda. The US government is not the actual government in America, anyway, for they are under the authority of a shadow government of the Elite of the world, who are the de facto government of the USA. Our leaders work for them, and much of what we read of our leaders in the news, or hear from them, are merely performances, carefully acted out by skillful actors who are just playing their parts in a play. All the while, they are in the process of handing this nation over to the New World Order “beast.” And, they will then desert us, the people, including Christians.
The message of this New World Order is one of UNITY, i.e. that we, as a people, need to rid ourselves of all which divides us, which includes the kind of commitments to Jesus Christ described in this writing, so that we can join together in harmony with people of all religions and all walks of life. And, the US government has served as this N.W.O.’s messengers in forcing compliance or pressuring people and nations and even professing Christians to bow to this “beast.” They want to stomp out individualism and for us all to think alike. They also want to stomp out “religious extremism,” which includes Christians surrendered to Jesus Christ. Yet, God plans a day in which he will judge these evil doers, so don’t be caught among them living a secret life of immorality, while hiding your wickedness behind a façade. Repent of your sins today, turn to Jesus, and follow him in obedience.
Near the Cross / Fanny J. Crosby / William H. Doane
Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.