Sunday Morning Coffee: Rage

Proverbs 29:11

 “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.”

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I have learned (am learning), to my deep regret, that saying exactly what you think is not always such a good idea.

Granted, there are times when you need to do so.  Rare, but they do exist.   But if what you are expressing is nothing more than anger vented all over everyone who is unfortunate enough to be in the direct path of your eruption, then, God says you are a fool.

A stupid person.

A silly person who has no sense and cannot control himself.

And you don’t even know that everyone wishes you would just stop.  Just sit down and be quiet.  You embarrass yourself; you embarrass the people who care about you.

“But I’m RIGHT!” you may say.  And maybe you are. But in your anger and venting all over the place, you have won no one to your cause.  You have alienated people who might have been swayed by a calm conversation instead of a furious, red-faced, vein-bulging rant.

I do a lot of marital counseling.  There is usually one partner, sometimes both, who constantly vents rage; who constantly insists he/she is right; who cannot accept  being contradicted, and who must, MUST have the last word.

Love dies under those conditions.  It may take a long time, but eventually there’s just nothing left but the ashes of what was once a fire of new love and passion.

There is a reason that people who have been married 40 years or more split up.  One or the other of them just can’t tolerated another day of being locked in conflict with a rage-aholic. Couples who have been married that long rarely divorce over adultery.  It’s far more likely that one or the other of them just can’t take it any more.

I am learning that if I choose to contain my words for at least 24 hours, they probably won’t need to be spoken at all.  And I haven’t poured scorching fire all over anyone’s head.

Even when I really must speak up, I’m learning to do it with tact and a calm approach.

It just works better.


The Cup of God’s Fury

Isaiah 51:17-18.

17 Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of His fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out.

18 There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up.

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Jerusalem will have undergone the worst destruction ever, but still, even though it seems she will never recover, God has His hand on His people. Jerusalem, standing now for all of Israel, will have drunk the cup of God’s fury down to the dregs, and there seems no one is left to guide her, rescue her, or restore her to health.

This is a prophecy that follows the Great Tribulation, when Antichrist does all in his power to destroy the people of God, Jew and Gentile alike.  The devastation around the world is terrible when Antichrist’s evil is  unleashed.

It seems that with every President we have in America, someone wants to point to him as being the Antichrist.  We need to stop that.  We have no idea who that man is, nor when he will appear. Some believe he will be a Jew; others, that he will be accepted  by the Jews as a great political leader.   Either way, we do not know who he is; we only know that the evil he performs will make Hitler look like a nice guy.

The upheaval of our times has a lot of people declaring that it can’t be much longer before Jesus returns to earth, but I will tell you that it is foolish to make predictions. The Bible says that no man will know the day or the hour. Our job is to be busy reaching the lost for Jesus Christ.  The rest is in the hands of God.

I am the Lord thy God!

Isaiah 51: 14-16.

14 The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail.

15 But I am the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The Lord of Hosts is His name.

16 And I have put My words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of Mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art My people.

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v. 14:  The captive prisoner despairs of dying in prison;  hopes daily to be freed; wonders if he will starve.  God will deliver His people from all captivity forever more!

V. 15:  God again reminds Israel that He has always been their God, the One Who divided the waters so they could pass across the sea on dry ground.  He created the sea, after all; He could certainly make it do His bidding.

V. 16: Speaking of the blessings of the Millennium. God has turned the hearts of His people back to Himself. They are full of His words, and He is fulfilling His promise to a new heaven and a new earth, and reclaiming His people Israel.

As I  pondered these verses this morning, I could only say in my heart, “God, please, let it be today!  Take us out of this mess, where the ungodly are raised up for praise and the godly are scorned.  We’re upside down and inside out, Lord.  I’m ready. I want to go home to heaven.”

Of course, I’m speaking in my prayer of the Rapture, not the new heaven and new earth that God has promised.  I have to take comfort, though, that He has promised to walk beside me through whatever may come.

Everlasting Joy

Isaiah 51:11-13

11 Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

12 I, even I, am He that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;

13 And forgettest the Lord thy Maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?

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Following one of the major themes in Isaiah, this passage describes the return of a believing Israel to the land, and to the worship of Messiah during the Millennial Kingdom.

Verse 11 is what all our insignificant efforts at world peace want so badly.  It will not  happen until Jesus, Messiah, establishes His Millennial kingdom on earth.  THEN, and only then, can we truthfully sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come. let earth receive her King!” There will be singing; endless joy; gladness; and sorrow and mourning will disappear. It is hard to imagine such a time on this earth which has seen endless sorrow since Cain killed Abel way back in the Garden of Eden.

Verse 12 asks a very difficult question:  Why is it that man trusts in man, and is afraid of men who are powerful on this earth. Those powerful men and weak and temporary, as every dictator, tyrant, and merciless ruler has learned and will learn. There is no joy for them. Yet, in spite of the temporary nature of human rulers, we turn to them and forget God.

Verse 13 reminds us just Who we are dealing with.  This is the God Who created man. This is the God Who stretched out the heavens and created the foundations of the earth. We are not to fear man, or trust in man’s weakness. God has promised to protect His own, and will bless those who fear (honor, respect, regard with awe) Him.

This is the solution to the horrible mess America is in right now. Don’t trust in man, who will fade like a blade of grass.  Turn to God.  Trust Him.  Honor Him. He is the only safe place, the only Rock in a weary land.

A Call to God

Isaiah 51:9-10

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art Thou not It that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?

10 Art Thou not It which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?

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 Here, the people were calling upon the Lord to awake and put on strength as in  ancient days when He supernaturally intervened  at the time Israel was in danger of extermination. They were so desperate that they made their request in the form of a command to God, as He had told them to do (45:11). Then, they asked questions concerning His identity with the  miracles of the past in leading Israel out of Egypt, and concluded that since He was Deliverer in those days He would rescue them again, bring them back to Zion, and restore them as an eternal nation under their Messiah.

 The arm of the Lord  is figurative of His power, as in many  scriptures.  You may find it a blessing to do a word search on that phrase.

Rahab is the poetic name of Egypt (Ps.87:4; 89:10).

The dragon  in v. 9  is a crocodile,  which infested the waters of the Nile in Egypt.

His Righteousness is Forever

Isaiah 51:7-8.

Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.

For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but My righteousness shall be for ever, and My salvation from generation to generation.

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Those who know righteousness not only have knowledge of it, but they understand it, and hold God’s Word in their hearts. They do not have to fear when absurd accusations are made against them, or when they are reviled by men who do not know righteousness.

Those who mock at God, and persecute the righteous, are weak compared to God’s righteousness.  They are like clothing that the moth chews up, and the worm that destroys the wool.  His righteousness is eternal, and will far outlast the scorn of evil men. When the unrighteous have fallen, God’s righteousness will still be there.  It is impossible to overthrow His righteousness.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Instruction and Knowledge

Proverbs 23:12. “Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.”

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Do you remember, when you were little, thinking that once you were an adult you would understand everything, and have all the answers to the questions of life?  You would be sure of yourself, confident, always know what the right decision is.  There would never again be a problem you couldn’t solve.

Alas, what I’ve learned is that the only time all that will be true is  when God takes me home to heaven.  Why? Well, because I’m human, and therefore prone to error, as are all of us.  Even my dad,  which was very hard for me to accept the first time I was with him and he got lost.  I’ve told that story here, written six years ago for Father’s Day.

Sometimes my human fallibility is problematic.  I’m a professional counselor, or more grandly, a psychotherapist.  My clients come to me expecting me to have the answers that will magically make their lives better.  That almost never happens, because change is a process, not an event. And, of course, because I don’t have all the answers all the time. Also because when I do know the answers, my clients don’t always like them.  It’s not unusual for my clients to want me to fix everyone else, not believing that change needs to come from them as well as from the other people in their lives.

The one time I’m sure beyond a shadow of a doubt is when the clear answers come from the wisdom in God’s Word.  That is the most important source of knowledge and wisdom I use in my counseling office. Instruction and knowledge come from God.

And He does know all the answers, all the time.


Lift Up Your Eyes

Isaiah 51:4-6.

Hearken unto Me, My people; and give ear unto Me, O My nation: for a law shall proceed from Me, and I will make My judgment to rest for a light of the people.

My righteousness is near; My salvation is gone forth, and Mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon M, and on Mine arm shall they trust.

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but My salvation shall be for ever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished.

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Hearken in  v. 4 is a stronger verb than in v. 1.  It means attend to me –  – attend, and hear of a greater blessing than the restoration of the land of Judah to cultivation and fruitfulness. God, enthroned anew in Zion, will from there send forth His light and His truth to the nations, will make His Law known to them, and allow them to partake of His salvation. 

O my nation. Some manuscripts have “O ye nations.” But that reading is undoubtedly a wrong one. He is specifically addressing Israel, although later He makes it clear the ALL nation may partake of His salvation. 

A law shall proceed from me. The Christian “law” – the new covenant – is probably intended. This became, by the preaching of the apostles, a light of the people, or rather, of the peoples.

Verse 5.My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth. “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and. a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Isaiah always speaks as if the Messianic kingdom was to  arrive almost immediately on the return of the exiles to Palestine. It was not revealed to him that there would be an interval of from five hundred to six hundred years between the two events.

By God’s “righteousness” here we must understand His righteous plans for the redemption of His people through Christ, and for the punishment of those who resist his will and remain impenitent.

The salvation and the judgment are the two parts of the “righteousness.” The isles shall wait upon me(comp. Isaiah 41:1, 5Isaiah 42:4, 10, 12Isaiah 49:1Isaiah 60:9, On mine arm shall they trust. God’s “arm” is His executive power – that might by which He accomplishes His purposes. The “isles” or “countries” that have been expecting the coming of a Deliverer will have faith in his power to redeem and save them. Christianity was received with more readiness by the Gentiles than by the “peculiar people” (Acts 11:21Acts 13:42, 46Acts 14:1, 2Acts 17:4, 5Acts 18:6 ).

Verse 6. Lift up your eyes to the heavens. Look to that which seems to you most stable and most certain to endure – the vast firmament of the heavens, and the solid earth beneath it, of which God “bears up the pillars” (Psalm l25:3). Both the heavens and the earth, and man too, are in their nature perishable, and will (or may) vanish away and cease to be. But God, and His power to save, and His eternal law of right, can never pass away, but must endure for evermore.

Let Israel understand that the righteous purposes of God with respect to their own deliverance from Babylon, and to the conversion of the Gentiles, stand firm, and that they will most certainly be accomplished. The heavens shall vanish away like smoke (comp. Psalm 102:26Matthew 24:352 Peter 3:10-12)And the earth shall wax old like a garment. So also in Psalm 102:26 and Hebrews 1:11. The new heaven and new earth promised by Isaiah (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22),  Peter (2 Peter 3:13), and  John (Revelation 21:1) are created in the last times, because “the first heaven and the first earth have passed away.” They that dwell there shall die in like manner. But the Hebrew text does not say, “in like manner,” but as in like manner.” Man is not subject to the same law of perishing as the the physical heavens and the earth, but to a different law. External things simply “pass away” and are no more. Man disappears from the earth, but continues to exist somewhere. He has, by God’s gift, a life that is to be unceasing.

Call to Righteousness

Isaiah 51: 1-3.

 Hearken to Me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.

Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.

For the Lord shall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

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In the next several verses, we will see a call to righteousness alternated with comfort for the righteous.

In this first one, Jehovah pleads with His people who do pursue righteousness to pay attention, listen to what He says. Then He reminds them of Abraham and Sara, calling them “the rock” from which Israelis quarried.  The same God Who created a great nation from Abraham and Sara can restore and comfort Israel again.

The God Who created a great nation, through the miracle of Isaac’s birth, could again make Israel a great nation.  Looking at the world situation today, it is clear that it will take another miracle of God to fulfill His promise to restore His people. God had called Abraham alone, and blessed him. He can, and will, restore His people

There is some teaching out there that Judah refers only to Jerusalem, Zion, and that the other ten tribes are not mentioned; therefore, they will be destroyed.  This is very hard to support biblically.  The name Judah has historically stood for all twelve tribes.  The entire nation will be restored, not just Judah as a tribe, but Judah as it stands for all Israelites.

In verse 3, we see that not only will the original contracts with God and Jerusalem and Zion be comforted; all the waste places, of all the land ruled by Judah and the Messiah of the house of David will be comforted and blossom as a rose, like the garden of Eden.

These prophecies are yet to be fulfilled during the Millennium, although there is already a reclaiming of land that had gone barren and is now thriving and producing much food.





His Reception

Isaiah 50: 10-11.

10 Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.

11 Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of Mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.

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This chapter ends with an appeal by the Messiah  for those who fear God and obey His servant to trust in the Name of Jehovah and depend  upon Him, for all enemies that kindle their own fires of accusation and judgment against the Messiah shall reap what they sow, to their own sorrow.

There are many thoughts crowding my mind right now. Watching the political scene here in America is a horror show, with accusations and counter-accusations flying through the air endlessly.  Ugly, damaging accusations that can destroy good people have no place in Christianity, and yet we do need to stand for righteousness. Doing so without being ugly and contentious takes great reliance upon the Lord.

We need to pray for our country.