How Long?

Isaiah 6: 11-12. “Then said I, Lord, how long? And He answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.”

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I imagine Isaiah seeing the heaviness of the message he must preach, and calling out to God, “Lord!  How long do I have to preach all these things?” Isaiah knew the scriptures, and he knew that God would not cast off His people forever. He was just like all the rest of us; he wanted to know the end point.

God’s answer was clear. There would be utter waste and desolation.  Most of the people would be removed to far away places. The houses would stand empty.  The fields would become overgrown, and the vineyards would die.

But the next verse gives hope.  There is always hope.

Hear and See

Isaiah 6:9-10. “And He said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes: lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”

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God no longer referred to Judah and Jerusalem as “My people,” but instead as “this people.” This change of reference appears frequently throughout the book, as God sees the hardness of their hearts and knows they are no longer truly His people.

This command to Isaiah was for the immediate future, but it also points to the time when Jesus Christ Himself, when He walked the earth, pronounced this very doom upon the apostate nation (Matt. 13:14,15.)

In verse 10, we see the punitive acts that God would carry out. The hearts of the people would be fat, or dulled;their ears would be deaf, their eyes would be blind. Isaiah’s message would be God’s instrument in doing it.  They had gone so far past the limit of God’s patience that He is ready to bring judgment down on them for their hard hearts and godless behaviors.  They had gone beyond the possibility of conversion and healing. It is possible to so harden one’s heart in evil as to render his condition without remedy, and in doing so he will endure God’s judgment on him.

America stands on the precipice.  If we do not turn our hearts back to God, His judgment is sure to follow.

Send Me!

Isaiah 6:8. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then said I, Here am I: send me.”

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This is perhaps one of the most well-known verses in all of scripture. It is the final result of the preparation of the heart of mankind to answer the call to service; to share the gospel with those who need to hear, and with those who have never heard.

What a profound moment this must have been for Isaiah, to actually hear the voice of God asking that question. “Who will go for Us?”  And his immediate, unhesitating response was “Me, Lord!  Send me!  I’ll go!  I’ll preach and prophesy and speak to the people in Your Name!”

There was nothing prideful in his response.  Remember, he’d been brought to his knees, face to the ground, by the vision he’d had. He knew only that God was calling him for a job that God would give him the power, the strength, the words, to do.

This verse has often been used in missions conferences.  When I was in in college, I first heard a song based on this verse.

Sunday Morning Coffee:This and That

I don’t have anywhere particular to go this morning for this post, so let’s just see what comes up.

Castro is dead.  It’s amazing to me how some people want to see this evil man as some sort of hero. He wasn’t.  He murdered, stole, and repressed an entire nation, and he managed to keep it going  for all these years. Amazing. Sadly, there will probably be very little change in Cuba. Should be interesting to see what happens next.

 

You know, I just wrote a whole page and then deleted it because it was so negative.  No more politics. No more Black Friday nonsense.

So what am I thankful for today?  I’m not going to give you the usual list. We’re all thankful for our families, our friends.  Many of us are thankful for our jobs. I’m thankful for my church and the people there. And I’m even  thankful for this long season of inactivity. The rest has decreased the pain level in my back so that I rarely need my pain medication. I wish that meant it was healed, but it’s not. It’s just not hurting right now. That’s a LOT to be thankful for!

I’m thankful for a husband who takes such good care of me. This is so much more than a week of two of filling in for me.  It’s turning into months, certainly not what I expected. He’s been a rock, taking care of every need. It’s frustrating to be so useless, but he keeps reminding me that I’ve done the same for him when it was necessary. I wouldn’t trade him for anything or anyone.  He’s one of God’s biggest blessings on my life.

I’m thankful for the things God is teaching me  through this present trial. It’s not wasted time.

Have a blessed Sunday, everyone. Be thankful.

 

 

 

 

 

As November Draws to a Close

I’m feeling a little nostalgic this morning. I guess that always happens at this time of year.

November has surely been an interesting month here in the States. A long and bitter election campaign finally ended on Nov. 8,  but the fall-out, I’m afraid, is going to continue for a very long time.  This whole ordeal has been hashed over and talked about ad nauseum, and I have nothing new to add that hasn’t already been said.  I do have some concern that the ugliness will affect the inauguration, and I’ll be glad when that’s over, too.

America is like a heaving ocean in a terrible storm.  Our police officers are in danger in a whole new way in this hate-engendered racial strife.  I pray often for their safety. Racial strife; class hatred, poor against rich; the rhetoric of socialism that has divided so many in our nation; fear of almost everything–all these factors are contributing to a breakdown in the fabric of our nation. I don’t know if it can be healed. As long as our colleges and universities are teaching our young people to hate America, there just doesn’t seem to be any good outcome.

I saw an article yesterday in which a black educator said, “We send our young people to universities, and they come back to us as babies.”  He’s right.  Who ever heard of such silliness as young adults needing a “cry room,” a safe place, a comfort dog, canceled tests, and so on just because they get their feelings hurt?   Because their candidate didn’t win? Because they’re being taught that their way is the only acceptable way, and everything else is to be feared and protested, and that it’s okay for them to destroy property and other people’s  safety because they’re unhappy?

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My dad was a WWII veteran.  I’m glad he’s not here today to see, only three generations later, how today’s young people have desecrated the freedom he pledged to fight and die for. I’m glad he’s not here to see an American university remove the American flag because it “represents terrorism.”  The flag itself is not sacred.  What it stands for, however, is sacred. America is not a perfect nation, because it is comprised of human beings.  It is, though, a place that has been a refuge since its inception for so many who were fleeing persecution in other places around the world.  It was the place to come where anything could happen, the poorest immigrant could rise to wealth and influence. It has also been the place people come to when they need medical help that is unavailable to them in their socialist systems.

Immigration has always been part of the American picture, and I’m not opposed to people coming here to improve their safety, their status, their health.  I am, however, opposed to people coming here with the openly stated purpose of taking over and changing us to their repressive, violent, and freedom-sucking way of life. They are not coming here to become Americans.  They are coming here to make us bow to them.  They are not hiding their purpose.  They are defiantly waving it right under our noses, and still we think we have to let them in.

Well.  This is not really the direction I was planning to take this morning, but there it is.

I love America.  I am proud to salute the American flag. I respect the policemen who have been colored with the black crayon of hatred.  I pray for them and their families. I love the freedom I have to worship God without fear, and I see the very real possibility of that freedom being destroyed.

It makes me sick, frankly, to see Thanksgiving and Christmas turned into nothing more than shopping opportunities. How much my country has changed, and how sad it makes me.  As God becomes less important and selfishness rules, we need to pray.  Christians, people of God, people who say the love the Word–we need to pray as we’ve never prayed before.  He is still God, no matter who says He isn’t.

Thy Sin Purged

Isaiah 6:6-7. “Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is take away, and thy sin purged.”

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Isaiah’s contrite heart brought an immediate response from God. In his vision, a seraphim picked up a hot coal from the altar of incense, using tongs. He then brought the coal to Isaiah and, in the vision, laid the coal on Isaiah’s lips. The fire was a symbol of the purging of sin, and a cleansing that would make him able to preach the messages that God would give him.

I’m going to quote Mr. Vine again.  The man just has a wonderful way of making things clear:

The whole vision and the Divine dealings were the appointed preparation for the solemn testimony he was to deliver. This was not the beginning of his witness, the occasion was a special one. If we are to engage in any particular service for the Lord, we can render it effectively only as we freshly appropriate to ourselves the efficacy of the atoning sacrifice of Christ for the cleansing of our hearts from sin. For each occasion we must come to the Throne y way of the Cross. We must come the the Mercy-Seat (Christ Himself) “that we may obtain mercy.”

Humility

Isaiah 6:5. “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone: because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell i the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

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I  suppose that there are people who, after seeing Isaiah’s vision, would have written a book about their fantastic experience and made a lot of fame and money for themselves.

Isaiah was not that kind of person. He fell to the floor, face to the ground, in humility before the perfect holiness of God Almighty. He recognized his own sin, and that of his people. He knew he was unworthy.  I wonder how many of us know very well how unworthy we are. Every now and then I get a client who tells me she just doesn’t feel worthy of God’s love.  I tell her, “That’s because you’re not.  No one is.  If we could be worthy, then Jesus didn’t have to die. That’s what makes God’s gift of salvation so amazing–we are not worthy, yet He loves us. That’s amazing grace, amazing love, amazing mercy.”

W.E.Vine says, “The nearer we are to the Lord the greater the sense of our utter unworthiness. Further, in this our own rightful attitude before Him we learn to identify ourselves with the condition of those fellow-members of the Body of Christ who have proved unfaithful and have lapsed into evil ways, and to confess their sins, as ours. Only so can we really be prepared to give an effectual testimony.  It is one thing to condemn the saints; it is quite another to take upon ourselves the confession of their sins as ours.  It is that which causes the Holy Spirit to use us for real blessing amidst them.”

There’s a lot to think about in that paragraph. It surely denies the validity of self-righteousness, of finger-pointing, of condemnation toward other believers. It should make us all stop and think.