Bricks and Sycomores

Isaiah 9:8-10. “The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel. And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart, The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.”

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This passage begins a section that takes us through to chapter 10:4. After the wonderful promises of vv. 6-7,  God speaks further denunciations of evil and warnings of impending judgments. The people had to be reminded that the promises of vv. 6-7 would not be fulfilled until things grew so bad that there seemed no hope at all of help and deliverance.

The reference to Ephraim, in this context, refers to all of Israel.They were guilty of persistent hardness of heart. Even after the failure of their alliance with with Syria, there was no repentance. They looked at the destruction and said, “Well, sure, the bricks have been taken apart, but WE will rebuild with stone hewn out of the quarry. We will replace the sycomore trees with cedars.”

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that suffering under the hands of Syria and Assyria would have brought them to some semblance of humility before God?  Not yet. They had to suffer more, a lot more, before they turned back to God.

Judgment and Justice

Isaiah 9:7. “Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from hence forth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

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When Jesus returns to establish His kingdom, the world finally experience the peace that so many are crying for today. The difference will be that no human ruler will be in charge. Jesus Christ Himself will sit on the throne of David, and the extent of His government, and the peace He will create, will have no end. This, by the way, is what a much loved Christmas carol is actually about:  Not His birth, but His return as King of King and Lord of Lords.

When Jesus establishes Himself on the throne of Dave, 2 Sam. 7:16 will be fulfilled. His judgment and righteousness will never end.

One of my sources indicates that the word zeal in this passage would better be rendered as jealousy.  W.E Vine says: 

His jealousy will have two goals. It is a fire of indignation against all who mistreated His chosen earthly people; it is also a fire that burns with such a love for them and zeal for their welfare that it must consume all unfaithfulness in their midst.


Sunday Morning Coffee:A Setback

I was doing so well. Got my staples out of the incision, was feeling really good. Then I went to a store with Terry, stayed on my feet for maybe half an hour, walked a little, stood still  a little. Knew I needed to get back to the car. Little pinchy twinges in the right lumbar.

“NO!”  says I to myself. ‘I’ll be fine once we get home and I can stretch out on my bed. This is just a temporary setback.”   But I knew.  Really, deep inside, I knew.

My right-side lumbar pain is back. Not the one the surgery targeted. That seems fine. The one that started this whole mess two years ago, that’s what is rearing its ugly head.

So I’m back to resting, not sitting much, using the bed Terry set up in the living room. And maybe I can get ahead of it. If I have to, I’ll start taking my pain meds again.

What did I do to cause this?  Probably nothing. I’m always careful these days.  I took my cane with me, even though I don’t use it at home any more. It just happened.

So, how can I make a spiritual application here?  Always, it’s  good to look for that. It helps me to understand that God knows all about it, and I don’t have to  try to figure out.

First, it’s yet another opportunity to trust Him.  He knows I’m supposed to go back to work in  just a little over a week. He knows  what I can tolerate as far as sitting is concerned, and He will make a way for me to be able to deal with my situation. In my head, I know this is true. My emotions, however, are less stable and will take more convincing.  That’s one reason why we need to follow what we know to be true, not how we feel. Feelings change from moment to moment. God’s truth is always the same.

Second, it’s  an opportunity  to give Him my fear. I don’t like pain. I don’t like knowing that I will be dealing with pain, at some level, for the rest of my life. I have a condition, not an illness that will eventually be healed. Conditions like mine don’t disappear. The pain can be treated and eased,  but the underlying problem will not disappear.  I have to  give that to the Lord on a regular basis. Give Him my fear, and grab the promise, again, that He will be with me through the valley of the shadow of death. I’m not being melodramatic here.  I’m just looking to the future. If I don’t learn to trust Him now, through the small stuff, then I won’t trust Him later.

Faith, I’m learning, is a step-by-step journey. One step, one hour, one day at a time.

Depression and the Bible

(First posted January 18, 2013)


Hoo boy.  This can be a really hot topic, and I’m sure there are many who would not agree with some of the things I’m about to say.  The attitude that depression is simply a sin problem is still alive and well out there.  Those who ascribe to that position will tell you that if you will confess your sin, forsake it, and get right with God, your depression will lift.

Is that ever really true?  Sure, I suppose it can be.  Clearly, living with hidden or overt sin in your heart will make you unhappy and out of sorts with both God and man if there is any sense of right and wrong in you.  The Holy Spirit moves in our hearts to convict us of sin.  When He does, we need to confess, repent, and forsake that sin if we are to be right with God and able to sleep peacefully.

However, I disagree strongly with the idea that all depression is simply a sin problem.  That’s an over-simplification.  I have known people both personally and professionally who have struggled with terrible depression and have begged God to reveal their sin to them, only to fall more deeply into misery when they hear no answer, drowning in a quagmire of guilt.

It seems to me there has to be a more balanced explanation, and I believe there is.  If you will go back and read my other posts on depression, you will better understand what I’m about to say here.

Let’s look at the story of Elijah in I Kings 18: 17-19:15.  Please read it for yourself.  What you’re about to get here is my condensed version of this great story.


King Ahab had told Elijah that he, Elijah, was “troubling Israel.”Elijah’s response was direct and condemning;  Ahab and his ancestors were the ones to blame for the present drought, because they had forsaken God and turned to idols. Elijah then challenged Ahab to gather up all the   people of Israel, along with the prophets of Baal, the false God, and send them to Mount Carmel for a little contest.

When everyone had arrived, Elijah proclaimed himself to the only true prophet of God who remained.  You want to talk about lonely?

He then challenged the false prophets to make an offering, and to lay it on an altar stacked with wood, but to lay no fire under the altar.  He would do the same.  He then instructed them to call on the name of their god, and he would call on the name of the Lord.  The God Who answered with fire would then be proclaimed the true God of Israel.

Well, you know what happened.  Baal’s priests cried and prayed, moaned and wept; they even cut themselves so blood would flow, to impress their god.  Elijah mocked at them in 18:27, suggesting that perhaps Baal had taken a little nap, or was on a vacation.   It was all to no avail. They jumped up onto the altar, bleeding “copiously,” while Baal did nothing.  Silence.

Then Elijah ordered the people to come closer to him, and he built an altar with twelve stones to represent the tribes of Israel. He dug a huge trench around the altar, and commanded that four barrels of water be poured over the offering.  The water would be captured in the trench.  Then he told them to do it again.  Four more barrels. A third time, and the trench was filled, the meat sodden, the wood soaking wet.

At the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah prayed.  He said, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy  servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that Thou art the Lord God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again.”

And the fire of God came down and consumed the sacrifice, the stones, the wood, and the water!  Wouldn’t you love to see the video of that? The people repented, and Elijah told them to gather up all the false prophets, and he took them down to the brook Kishon, and he killed them all there. Not one of them escaped.

Do you think Elijah may have been a little weary after such a busy day?  Do you think he was spent emotionally, physically, even spiritually?  Sure he was.  We all would be.  This was a day-long trial.  He was exhausted, even though God had given him such a victory.

So what happens next?  Well, Elijah told Ahab to go get some lunch, because it was going to rain, children.  And Elijah went back up the mountain, sat down, put his head between his knees, and while his servant watched, he waited for the rain. When it came, God strengthened Elijah and we are told that he tied up his robe around his waist and raced Ahab, who was riding, and went to visit Queen Jezebel.

I’ve always wondered why he did that.  Jezebel wasn’t overly fond of Elijah.  When Ahab told Jezzie what had happened, she sent a message to Elijah that told him she would have his life by the next day. Our great man of God, who had won the day and conquered evil, then turned back around and ran for his life, fleeing to the wilderness.

Finally, he sat down to rest under a juniper tree and begged God to let him die.  He was weary to the bone, sick at heart, defeated and dejected because the queen wanted his head. The rest of the story tells how God revived him, spoke quietly to him, and set him back on his feet.

What was Elijah’s great sin?  I suppose you could say he lost his faith that God would protect him, and that would be true as far as it goes.  However, I believe that lapse of faith was based on more than simple unbelief.  Elijah’s great faith is clearly apparent in the preceding events, after all.  No, I think there was physical exhaustion, emotional emptiness, spiritual depletion that all played in to a  time of depression.  He wanted to die!

How quickly we can forget what God has already done for us, and fall into a period of wanting to give up, to just drift into nothingness, and leave all our worries and troubles behind!  When this happens, it is of course partially  spiritual.  But we cannot discount the impact of being completely physically spent.  When our bodies wear out, so does our ability to think biblically and logically.  We can be consumed with our emotional reactions, and lose sight of our faith for a while.

Even Jesus went aside to rest when he was constantly ministering to the crowds.  If He needed a time apart to restore His spirit, how much more do we!


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5 thoughts on “Depression and the Bible”

  1. Glenda

    I also agree with you. It’s too easy for us to tell people that they need to get rid of the sin in their lives, as if we ourselves are not guilty of having sin in our own lives. Thank you for your insight, and I’m enjoying this discussion about depression very much!

  2. Excellent post! We shouldn’t brush off the idea that depression can be a sin problem, but the Bible examples of godly men suffering from depression shows us that it isn’t always a sin problem.

  3. Reblogged this on COW PASTURE CHRONICLES and commented:

    My blog, from which these posts on depression are being reblogged, is a Bible study blog. Just about everything I write has to do with God’s Word, or is at least influenced by my faith. That is true of the depression posts. I just wanted to be sure you’re aware of what you’re about to read 🙂

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Prince of Peace

Isaiah 9:6. “. . .the Prince of Peace. . . ”

I’ve thought about this Name for several days. Why Prince of Peace, and not King of Peace?  Why Prince of Peace when we know that there will be rebellion even during the Millenial Kingdom?

I think the answer to my first question lies in the fact that Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Kings, will sit on David’s throne. the Son of the King is the Prince.

Even though there will be rebellion, it will be quickly destroyed. It will be a peaceable kingdom because no one will try to support or protect those who would lead a rebellion against Jesus.

And finally, the best kind of peace:  the deeper, more foundational meaning of peace is “the spiritual harmony brought about by an individual’s restoration with God.”  There will be peace in our relationship with God. We will experience the peace of unity and restoration with Him. There won’t be political parties, elections, and all the surrounding fanfare of human politics.

Peace. Shalom, in Hebrew. I can’t wait.

Everlasting Father

Isaiah 9:6.”. . . .the Everlasting Father. . . ”

Eternal:  Everlasting, having no end or beginning.

Father:  He Who is Creator, He Who owns all that was, is, and ever will be.  He Who chooses to send His Son, Jesus, to die for the sins of all, that all may have eternity in heaven with Him if they believe in Him.

A father is a seminal being, the beginning of a new family, the head of that family. He is the one the family relies upon. A godly father welcomes that responsibility and glories in what he is able to do for his loved ones.

We have an Everlasting Father Whose delight is to give us what we need.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  James 1:17.

The Mighty God

Isaiah 9:6. “. . .The Mighty God. . .”

To be mighty is to be powerful, strong, invincible.

Through the ages, the forces of evil have done their best to destroy Christianity. They crucified Jesus, but that didn’t work.  They persecuted early believers, but that didn’t work. They burned the Book, but that didn’t work. They made laws against the practice of Christianity, but that didn’t work. They tried to forbid prayer in public places, but that didn’t work. They’ve tried to close down God’s church, but that didn’t work. They’re still trying all these things today, and such thinking is even infecting America.  It won’t work.

It may seem as if there is victory, but God is The Mighty God. He will not be defeated. He will conquer every foe who rises against Him, in His own time. He will rule the earth. He will rule eternity.

He is Wonderful, Counsellor, the Might God.


Wonderful, Counsellor

Isaiah 9:6. “For unto  us a Child is born, unto us  a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

I wonder if they’re singing this glorious piece of music in heaven.

Verse 5 left us with a dire scene, one of battle, noise, blood, fire, and defeat.  But then Isaiah jumps ahead, and describes the time when Messiah will return to earth and finally assume His rightful position in Jerusalem, on the throne of David, and as ruler of the whole earth. This is the the Child Who was born in a lowly stable in the little town of Bethlehem, Who suffered and died an ignominious and incredibly painful death in our behalf; but Who then rose victorious over sin and death so that we, too, could have eternal life.

Here are some other references that deal with the coming of Messiah and the establishment of His kingdom:

Jer. 23:30, 33; Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14; Zech. 14; Luke :33; Rev. 20.

Over the next few days, we’re going to spend time looking at all the names mentioned in this verse. Today, Wonderful, Counsellor.

Some believe there should be no comma between these first two names. He is the Wonderful Counsellor. Either way, He is wonderful–full of wonder. No king in history has ever been like Him before. No ruler has ever, in spite of his best efforts, been able to bring complete peace to the entire world. Not even Antichrist could do that, and it will appear for a while that he has done so. But he is soon revealed as the fraud that he is, and Jesus Christ becomes King of Kings, Lord of Lords. There will be those who will try to rise up in rebellion, but they will be quickly revealed and punished for their sin.

Jesus will be a wonderful Counselor. This one truly intrigues me, because in my own bumbling way, this is what I do for a living. I give counsel.  I offer advice, encouragement, a better way to think; a biblical way to think. What I do, however, and all of those others who share my profession, will be like nothing compared to the incredible, perfect, wise counsel the world will receive from Jesus Christ. Every word that comes out of His mouth will be full of grace and truth, with no deceit at all. He alone can truly, always, speak the truth in love. How wonderful it will be to have a world ruler Who never lies, never deceives, is never unjust, and Who never abuses His power.


Sunday Morning Coffee: A Little More on Politics

Once I get this off my chest, I think I can promise you I won’t be posting much more about this past election cycle. None of what I’m about to say is brand new; it’s just that I need to say it. So here goes:

The Electoral College:  It is NOT outdated. It works much like our House and Senate, a system that was a compromise worked out among the first 13 or so states so that there was some semblance of equality for the less-populated states.  Think about it this way:  If you are a member of a family in which everyone over 18 has a vote, and 2/3 of the family is over 18, and you were only 12, guess who wins every single time?  Not you! In fact, even if you were to  palaver with every family member and managed to persuade one or two to vote your way,  this is a pure democracy where the majority always rules. You lose. ALL the time. The Electoral College is made in each state according to population.  One elector per 100,000 people. Each state’s rules are pretty much the same, barring some differences about whether or not the votes are bound by the way each state votes in its primary. What this system does is make for parity among the populous and less-populous states. In other words, New York and California do not get to make all the rules for all the rest of us all the time. This is a good thing.(By the way, pure democracy, historically, has always led to anarchy.  America is NOT a pure democracy, was never intended to be so.  It is a democracy IN A REPUBLIC–and that means representative lawmaking.)

Trump is not a real President:  I have to scratch my head about this one.  Maybe what people mean by that is that he’s not a real politician. I won’t argue with you there.  As far as being a legitimate President, though, he jumped through all the hoops; and the map of Red vs. Blue from his recent election is overwhelmingly Red.Major exceptions include New York and California. Are you seeing a pattern here yet?

Are you a Trump supporter, Linda?  If you’re asking me if I voted for him, that’s not really any of your business. I don’t have a lot of respect for him in the way he’s lived his life. Three wives isn’t a particularly positive thing. I don’t know much about how he’s run his businesses.  I do know that a lot of the people (big money people, especially) who are now crying “Foul!”  used to be on his party list, and he was on theirs. That would include the Clintons, by the way, who now refer to him in extremely vulgar terms. Honestly, I wish there had been a candidate whose moral character I could admire, like Ben Carson or Ted Cruz.  I am a “Trump supporter” now only in the sense that he IS my legally-elected President. Time will tell if he can overcome great resistance in his own party to accomplish what he has promised.

Protests: Sure, everyone has the right to peaceful assembly to protest something they see as completely wrong. Remember how the Conservatives demonstrated when Clinton was elected?  Obama?  Remember how they smashed windows, set fires, looted stores, and just generally created chaos?  NO? You don’t remember that?  Right. It didn’t happen. The Party of Tolerance hasn’t been very tolerant.  I’m not impressed.

Hillary: She came off like a little sweetheart when she wasn’t pitching a temper fit, but from everything I’ve read, the temper tantrum is more her usual style. I don’t think we need a cursing, screaming lamp-thrower in the White House. And we certainly don’t need Slick Willy back there, cruising for interns. But putting that all aside, my problems with Hillary are that she stands AGAINST everything I stand FOR. Here is just one example, which you can listen to if you have a strong stomach.  If not, you’ll get the kernel of her position on abortion in the accompanying copy:

So if people like me MUST change their convictions and beliefs, my question is:  Or what?  What if I don’t?Are you going to start sacrificing Bible-believing Christians to the god of Sex Without Consequences? Throw us in jail and feed us bread and water until we change our minds? Are you going to make it illegal for Christians to  talk about what they believe?  Everyone else can, but not us?

How is that okay?  She says she will never stop believing in our government.  I think she stopped believing in it long ago. She’s on a radical, feminist train that is pulled by the engine of socialist, godless philosophy where only the duly brainwashed liberal is allowed to make any decisions about where all the rest of us go. And she has never hesitated to lie, cheat, and possibly be complicit in murder to accomplish her goals. I’m wondering if the body count will continue to grow, or if she’ll just give up now that she’s lost. Again. And I have to ask, don’t you Hillary supporters get it, that she did this to herself?  And you, with your sniffy “We know what’s best, Hollywood is the cornerstone of American society” attitude?  You helped defeat her. You really did.

The best thing I can say about her, and Obama too, is that they both seemed to behave themselves with decorum and grace at the inauguration. It can’t have been easy for either of them. I’m pretty sure it was a bitter pill for some so-called Republicans, too.

Burning and Fuel of Fire

Isaiah 9:5. “For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.”

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The battle mentioned in versed 4 , “in the day of Midian,” is a reference to the time of Gideon’s victory (Judges 6 and 7). God saved the nation, but it was not by great military power. He used a small company, and the power of His own strength.

So it will be in the coming day.  The nation will be completely outnumbered as the entire world circles around Israel like vultures waiting for the kill so they can swoop down and feast on the carrion.God says that when we are weak, then we are strong (2 Cor. 12:10).  In 2 Chron. 28:21 we read that his own self-efforts “helped him not.”

The battle is the Lord’s!

Verse 5 points directly to the Battle of Armageddon, That climax will see “all the armour of the armed man in the tumult” (Joel 3:9-14; Zech. 14:13), “the garments rolled in blood” (Isa. 63:3; Rev. 14:20). “burning.” and “fuel of fire” (Isa. 66:15,16; Joel 2:30).

But all that depends on one overarching event.