Sunday Morning Coffee: Seasons Change

Fly across this country from coast to coast or border to border, and you will see a wonderful variety of climates.  Places where it’s always cool, or always warm, or always green, or always  brown.

One of the things I love about Pennsylvania is the green that we have three seasons of the year. Winter can be mostly grey and brown, but when it snows it’s glistening white for a few days.

From this: Our back yard in January

winter shadows

To this: Our front yard in spring


spring pink

Ecclesiastes 3

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

I think it is only as we accumulate  some years in our lives that we can begin to fully  understand this famous Bible verse. Farmers probably get it before anyone else does.  They understand that you have to plow, plant, cultivate, reap, and store all in the turning of the seasons. If you rush or delay, your crop won’t be as plentiful.

So it is in our lives. Childhood is the time to learn and grow. In the teens, we should begin to work, increase in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man. In young adulthood,  we focus on career and the establishment of our own families; in old age, should nothing take us to heaven too soon, we live to reap the rewards of our lives–grandchildren, family, friends, and a time to rest.

The same happens spiritually. We’re newly saved; we grow, learn,  increase in wisdom and knowledge; we reach out to others, planting the seed of the gospel; if we persist, we have spiritual children.  We understand God’s Word more clearly every year.  It permeates our lives, our hearts and minds,  and gives grace and wisdom to our thoughts and words. We begin to appreciate the beauty in the worn, wrinkled faces of the elders in our lives if they have invested time in prayer, Bible study, and service.

Just as the seasons of the year change, so do the seasons of our lives.

There is beauty in each one.

Peace and Quiet

Isaiah 14:7-8. “The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing. Yes, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.”

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In the Millenial Kingdom, the whole earth will be at peace. Animals will be at peace with one another, and with mankind; people will be at peace with one another. This is what happens when the Spirit of Jehovah permeates His creation.

The emphasis in these verses is on the fall of the rebuilt Babylon.  It will exist no more. In verse 8, the reference to the fir (cypress) trees and the cedars, is to be taken literally. The Chaldeans had cut down large parts of the forest to make use of the timber for rebuilding.

I’ve heard lots of jokes about “no feller is coming up against us,” but it’s actually a reference to those who cut down, or fell, trees.  A feller of that time would be called a lumberjack in America today.

The point is that even the forests are finally at rest, with no woodsman coming with an ax or a saw to cut down the trees.

We’ll look at the next three verses on Monday. They’re important, and will take some close examination.

Antichrist Defeated

Isaiah 14:5-6. “The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.  He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.”

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So many have tried to identify the Antichrist. So many have been wrong. We don’t know who this horrible person will be; we only know what he will be, and we know he will have authority over the entire world for a time. But when that time is over, He will be defeated.

A staff and a sceptre are symbols of power and authority.  Antichrist will use his authority to persecute everyone, but especially Jews and Christians. When his time is over, however, he who was at first worshiped and held above God Himself will not be saved from his doom. Once his evil nature is fully revealed, no one at all, not even his closest associates, will try to defend him.

He will stand alone and hopeless before Almighty God.

A Victory Song

Isaiah 14: 4. “That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!”

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Babylon was a wondrous sight!  I don’t think we can imagine how truly beautiful it was, how wealthy, how powerful. It was an exciting place to live–unless you were a captive there. Then you saw the corruption behind the outer beauty, because Babylon was a city full of idolatry and unspeakable sin.

All of that is going to be destroyed; Babylon will fall. This verse is the beginning of a song of triumph that Millenial Israel will sing at the fall of Antichrist and the destruction of Babylon.  Reference ch. 14: 4-23; 13: 19.


A Personal Note

The next section of Isaiah 14 should really be studied with no interruption, so I’m going to put this blog on hold until sometime next week, Tuesday or Wednesday.

Terry and I will be flying out to California to help my son and his bride-to-be to celebrate their wedding on Sunday.  I think I’m going to leave my electronics at home, except for my phone. I’ll need that for taking some photos.

Writing my two blogs nearly every day has become such a habit. I’m surprised at how much of a struggle it is for me to step away for several days.  Maybe that’s a clear sign that it’s time to take a little break.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend as we enjoy this lovely spring weather, and I’ll see you next week.

Rest from Sorrow and Fear

Isaiah 14:3. “And it shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve.”

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There will be peace.  Israel will be done with the arduous cycle of disobedience, punishment, and restoration.  Her enemies will be finally defeated, and there will be peace.

I love the promises of this passage. The Day of the Lord will be one of mercy, grace, and victory for His people.

Servants to their Captives

Isaiah 14:2. ” And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.”

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The Gentiles who survive God’s judgment will help Israel to return to her own country, and will remain there themselves as servants  in the households of those who were once taken captive by their oppressors.

What an inflammatory prophecy this must be for those who hate Israel, wanting nothing more than to wipe that nation from the face of the earth and from the annals of history.  That hatred has existed since Abraham and Sarah thought they needed to help God fulfill His promise to them:  Sarah gave her maid to Abraham, and Ishmael was born. He was NOT the son of the promise.  Half-brother to Isaac, who was younger, Ishmael became the father of what we now identify as the  Arabian races. The enmity between Isaac’s seed, the Jews, and Ishmael’s seed, the Arabs, has never been resolved.

When we decide that God needs a little nudge, that we can help Him fulfill His plans, we always mess it up. We need to learn to let God be God.

It will be resolved, though, when Jesus comes to establish His kingdom for 1000 years. There will finally be peace in the Middle East.  Peace will not exist because of diplomacy or any man-made treaties, but because Jesus will reign.

It will be a totalitarian government.

Israel’s Future

Isaiah 14:1. “For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.”

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We’re moving again to the far future verb tense, and seeing Israel as it will be during the Millenial Kingdom. Following the cycle that Israel chooses for all of its history–self-will, rebellion, idolatry the causes God to use Gentile powers to punish them; the arrogance and cruelty of those Gentile powers brings His judgments upon them when Israel has once again chosen to return to God;His covenant mercy in the fulfillment of His promises to Israel ending in Israel’s final restoration; Israel becomes a blessing to the Gentile nations.

The Millenium is the final restoration of Israel, and the whole world will  enjoy the results of Israel’s obedience and restoration to God. This is the when we will truly be able to sing, Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her king! Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing!

Sunday Morning Coffee: Resurrection Sunday

You should know I’m writing this on Saturday afternoon. WordPress has a neat little option to schedule when you want a post published, and I use it when I know time will be short in the morning.

I love Easter. The weather has the definite feel of spring. Flowering trees are doing their thing. Several people in the neighborhood are mowing their grass right now.  Birds are thrilled.  You can tell by the trill 🙂  Our raspberry canes are greening, and the air is soft.  It could stay this way all year, except I would miss the fall. Could we just do spring and autumn, please?

Well, anyway.  There is no better season in which to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Without the resurrection, the crucifixion would  be meaningless.  Just another dead Jewish man killed by the Romans.  But Jesus wasn’t just another man. He made life meaningful, made eternal life possible, gave everlasting life to  those who could not provide it for themselves.

Last year, we planned to have Easter dinner here. My wacky back had another idea, though, and my daughter–an exceptional cook–made dinner at her house and brought it over here. This year, I’m going to be able to do it.  The house is clean.  Floors swept and mopped, bathrooms cleaned, furniture dust-free.  After supper tonight I’ll peel the potatoes for tomorrow and put them in cold water in the fridge. The ham will go in the oven before we leave for church in the morning.   Others are bringing dessert and veggies. Some old friends will join us, and it will be a good day. The weather is going to be perfect.

We will relax, probably play a game or two, eat and visit.  The kids will doubtless spend some time outdoors, and Andy the puppy, who is now a year old, will be all over the place.  He loves people, loves to be petted and played with and sometimes just held. I’m sure he will be very interested in any tidbits that may (accidentally) fall to the floor.

Aren’t we a blessed people?  Please take some time tomorrow to just be thankful.

Strange Creatures

Isaiah 13:21-22. “But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there: and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures, and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant places, and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.”

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“Wild beasts of the desert.” For me, that phrase conjures up some scary things. Snakes, spiders, weird creatures. The once beautiful city, a center of culture, trade, and idol worship, will be nothing more than a place for desert creatures to dwell.

Doleful creatures. Doleful, sorrowful, miserable. The Hebrew word for doleful would indicate a howler, a lonesome creature; the sounds that these creatures make are yells, and don’t refer to specific animals in this verse.

The owls in verse 21 could also be a reference to ostriches. Owls give a rather plaintive call, and I understand that the call of the ostrich is quite hideous, and that it can groan as if in great pain.

Satyrs were supposed to be half man and half goat, with horns on the man’s  head; the body was all hairy, with feet and tails like a goat.  The Edomites worshiped images like those described. The word probably refers to any rough, hairy animal that tends to be solitary and wild.

In verse 22, the wild beasts of the islands, or coastal lands, are beasts that are unknown and maintain a very superstitious reputation, something like the Loch Ness Monster.

The dragons?  That word has been variously translated.  My Dake’s Study Bible took me to Exodus 7:9, and the miracle of Moses’ rod becoming a serpent.  It’s the same word used in our passage today, and would seem more likely to indicate some type of marine/land animal, perhaps the  crocodiles that were ubiquitous in Egypt along the Nile. We don’t know for sure. It’s the entire picture we’re interested in, which in my mind ranks right up there with a really ugly horror movie.

And the time would not be prolonged before the fall of Babylon took place.

A friend reminded me of a song yesterday that includes these words: “Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away.”  And they have. What has remained is the Name of Jesus.