Consider This!

Isaiah 5:3-4. “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?”

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The question is clear, and the results are inevitable. God asks the people of Jerusalem and Judah, “What more could I have done for you, that would have kept you in right relationship with Me?”

The answer is so sad. He had given them everything, including protection from their enemies, and still, all they had to offer Him in return was sour grapes.

Judgment would come.

Again, the parallels with America are unavoidable. We are protected on both sides by mighty oceans; on the north and south by usually friendly nations. We have had more access to the Word of God and the knowledge of His will for us than any other nation in the history of the world, and yet we have nothing but bad fruit to offer Him.

Judgment is coming.

A Song of My Beloved

Isaiah 5:1-2.” Now will I sing to My Well-Beloved touching His vineyard. My Well-Beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And He fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and He looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.”

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God has directed Isaiah to soften his appeal to Israel. The hard preaching is necessary. So is the clear picture of the deep love of God. So God gives Isaiah a song, a poem, concerning His vineyard.

The vineyard belongs to Jehovah, and there is an intimation that His Well-Beloved is Christ. The vineyard is the house of Israel, and the vine is “the men of Judah, His pleasant plant ( literally, the plant of His pleasures).

God had given His people everything they could desire that they might be blessed, glorify His Name, and fulfill His will. He had fenced in, protected, His vineyard with the Law, separating them from all other nations.  He had removed the stones, the Canaanites, who had made the land barren. He had planted the  choicest vine,  a word found only in Gen. 49:11 and Jer. 2:21, where it is rendered as noble,

He built a tower, the central city of Jerusalem, where He would place His Name (Prov. 18:10), a tower from which His appointed priests and prophets could watch against spiritual foes.

He had made a wine-vat to receive the juice of the grapes, symbolic of the Temple where the offerings, worship and praise would be rendered to Him by the operation of His Holy Spirit.

And He looked (waited) for the prosperous outcome of all His work, and instead there was nothing but small, bitter berries from a wild vine (verse 2).

Smoke and Fire

Isaiah 45-6. “And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from the storm and from rain.”

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When Israel wandered in the wilderness, God provided a pillar of cloud by day, and of fire by night, to guide their wanderings and to reassure them of His presence.  In the Millenium, it will not be a pillar, but a canopy. The picture here is of a wedding canopy  carried over the bridegroom.  In verse 5, covering is a better translation than defence.

The term gives the idea of the Lord’s joy over His returned and redeemed people, just as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. There is also a suggestion of the close association of the Church in its Heavenly position with the restored earthly nation.

The tabernacle  in verse 6 is actually a pavilion.  Nature’s activities will not stop during the Millenium.  There will be storms, rain, and wind.

W.E. Vine says, “The most glorious feature of the whole scene will be the conjoint existence of the restored and glorious Jerusalem on earth, the city of the Great King, and the Heavenly Jerusalem,consisting of all the glorified saints, and described figuratively in Rev. 21:10-22:5, the great City-Bride, the wife of the Lamb, the “Light-Giver’ of which is Christ Himself.” (Isaiah, W.E Vine, pp. 23-24)

Someone recently posted a lengthy comment supporting the idea that the Church is Spiritual Israel, and that God is finished dealing with Israel. This position claims that all the promises to Israel are transferred to the Church. I disallowed the comment, which was excessively long, because I absolutely do not believe it is true. If you have any questions on this issue, here is a good article: http://graceambassadors.com/prophecy/israel/does-the-bible-teach-a-spiritual-israel.

God is NOT finished with Israel. Nowhere in scripture are we told that Israel has disappeared from the picture. If nothing else, we can see prophecy fulfilled in the naming of Israel as a nation in 1947, setting the stage for a massive return of Jews to their homeland. This is a fascinating study for me, and I’m loving seeing the truth in Isaiah that Israel is very much a part of end-time prophecies.

By the way, I will not debate the “spiritual Israel” issue with anyone.  If you really need to write about it, maybe you should consider starting your own blog🙂

Sunday Morning Coffee: Circuses, Cats, and Fleas

Several weeks ago we were at a farm show that was featuring a flea circus off in one of the sideshows.  We were hot and tire and didn’t want to take the time, but Terry and I were talking about it lat night. I did some googling, and came up with several videos featuring fleas and some of the circus acts that are set up around them.

There was one in which Ben Hur Flea was in a chariot race with Messala Flea.  Ben Hur, of course, won the chariot race.

Well, I was tired and I went off to bed while Terry watched a bit longer. This morning, when I lifted the lid to my laptop, I was greeted with a video of a cat getting a flea bath. Intrigued because the cat wasn’t fighting the process, I watched for a while. The man who was bathing the cat gave clear directions while he worked. Wet the cat down with warm water, avoiding the head and face. Then soap him up really well with something Irish Spring soap, which is what he uses on himself, after all.  So glad to know that.  While this process was going on, the fleas began to surface.  I guess they don’t like soap, and especially scented deodorant soap. It was amazing, really, how easy it was for the guy to pick off the fleas and send them to  their maker.  He says he has to do this every day during the hot weather and into autumn, so apparently this was an indoor/outdoor cat. And I must say, a very patient cat.

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So why am I sharing this?  Well, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Psalm 51:7:

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

It takes a daily cleansing for my heart to be free of nasty little critters of sin that can infect my thinking and my behavior. Daily, coming to God and asking Him to show me where the “fleas” are so they can be cleansed away.  And even as a cat can accept this daily cleansing ritual with composure, so I can come to look forward to my times alone with the Lord while He seeks out the hidden corners of my heart and cleanses me with His grace, forgiveness, and mercy.

Sometimes we don’t like the process. We squall and hiss and try to break free. But His loving hand holds us steady until the process is complete. And it feels so good when it’s finished! Knowing your heart is clean before God is a wonderful thing.

We just can’t stop those cleansing moments, though, because the fleas come back when the cat goes back outside, just like sin does when we go back out into the world we live in. Sadly, sin isn’t just an outward influence. It comes from within. We can never stop being vigilant, just as we can never stop being thankful for a God Who forgives whenever we ask Him to.

A Thought for Today

“Good government generally begins in the family, and if the moral character of a people once degenerates, their political character must soon follow.”
― Elias Boudinot

History has shown this statement to be true over and over again.  So instead of calling our leaders ugly names, instead of becoming way less than Christ-like in our words and attitudes about the present sad offering of Presidential candidates, we need to do some self-examination.

Was there “good government” in your family? Were you grounded in God’s Word?  Were you taught manners, respect, the value of hard work, and the good stewardship of your finances? Were you taught to be decent toward others, even those with whom you disagree?

No family is perfect, but we do tend to pass on to our children what we learned growing up.

So if you were allowed to set your own boundaries as a child; if you were permitted to throw tantrums, if your parents were obedient to your every whim, then that’s most likely what you are passing on to your children.

Or, if there were things you felt were unfair when you were growing up, you’re probably not requiring that thing of your own children.That philosophy teaches them pretty quickly that if there’s something they don’t like, then they shouldn’t have to do it.

I’m not completely sure when good government in the home fell apart in America. Some would point us back to the permissive parenting styles of child psychologists like Dr. Benjamin Spock. His book does seem to have been something of a landmark in parenting practices.

I never read it. Neither did my parents.

I’m about to make a very general statement here that will probably get me into a lot of trouble, but here goes:

If you came from an orderly, Christ-centered,  well-governed home, you’re probably not out there with screaming, looting, rioting, angry people who know no other way to express themselves and wouldn’t care if they did.

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Government, as Hillary believes it should, must NOT be the primary molder and shaper of our children. No government ever gave birth to a baby. Parents conceive babies together in an act of mutual love and caring, and no government should ever have the right to snatch that baby and leave the parents with nothing more than a guardianship role to play in the child’s life.

In America, government was designed to serve and protect, not to  control and supervise us in the smallest details of our lives.

When that balance of power shifts, and government becomes primary in influencing families and children, then any nation is in deep trouble.

America is no exception.

 

Israel Cleansed and Restored

Isaiah 4:3-4. “And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion and he that remaineth in Jerusalem shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of burning.

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(This is Jerusalem today as seen from the Mount of Olives)

When God comes in all His wrath and splendor to deliver the remnant in Israel from their enemies, that remnant will finally turn to God. God will fulfill Is. 1:18, to “wash you, make you clean” that the people themselves failed to fulfill. He will do so by the spirit (or blast) of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.

Fire cleanses.  Judgment restores.  This baptism of fire is foretold by John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11. Israel will finally come into her own right relationship with God, and the promises of her greatness and restoration will be fulfilled.

The Branch and the Fruit

Isaiah 4:2. “In that day shall the Branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the Fruit of the Earth shall be excellent and comely, for them that are escaped of Israel.

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Jesus is the Branch of the Lord; He is the Fruit of the Earth. These two titles denote His deity (His is God) and His humanity (He was man).  The words beautiful and glorious are the same words that described the priestly clothing in Exodus 28:2, 40.  He will be excellent and comely,   having majesty and splendor. When He comes to receive the dead saints and to change the living, He will be “our Deliverer from the coming wrath”–that is, His destruction of the world at the end of this age. He will come with the angels and the Church. He will be the Deliverer of the godly remnant in Israel who have finally turned to Him as Messiah.

Cross references: I Thess. 1:10;Romans 11:2 ;Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3; Heb. 12:23; Lev. 17:8., Exodus 19:6.