Sunday Morning Coffee: Almost Afternoon

I had a couple of very bad days on Friday and Saturday. The pain in my back can take my breath away sometimes, and put me on the floor. Not a happy place. I’m better today, but Terry and I both felt it was too soon for me to sit through the ride back and forth to church, and to sit during Sunday school and the morning service.

So I decided to have my own church. I opened my Bible to James, where I’m reading right now.  Instead of reading just the designated passage, I decided to go back and read the whole book through.

James has always been a book that both convicts and blesses me. It gets right to the point, doesn’t it?

In the very first verse, James identifies himself as a slave of God. The meaning is clear. He does nothing without the Master’s approval and direction. That is how a slave behaves. He has no will of his own, but operates only on the authority of his owner.

Then, in the next few verses, he tells us to count as joy all the trials and temptations we experience in this life.  Really?  I’m supposed to look at this terrible pain  in my back as a joy?

So I’m still thinking about that, and I’ve decided that James knew what he was talking about.  There is no joy in the pain, believe me, but there is great joy in how much time I’ve been able to spend in the Word because I’m unable to do anything else.

There is also joy in knowing that I have friends and family who are praying for me.

And there is joy and great gratitude  in  the progress there has been in controlling chronic pain.  I don’t like taking medication all the time, but I’m very thankful for the relief it gives me. Usually.

Well, that’s just skimming lightly over a few of the opening verses in the book of James.  It’s rich, practical, and convicting.  I recommend it 🙂

Why Shebna?

So I got to wondering today why this story of Shebna is included in Isaiah 22.  I read this morning, again, to the end of the chapter.  Eliakim is chosen by God to take Shebna’s place, and he is a man of honor and integrity.  But my curiosity wasn’t satisfied, so I  did some searching.  I read several articles that all agreed with each other for the most part. Then I found this article, which i believe says it the most clearly and plainly:

http://www.ldolphin.org/shebna.html

There is no need for me to elucidate further. This article puts it all together in plain and simple terms.

The Bible says,

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Every word of Scripture has meaning and value. In the story of Shebna, we can find  so much truth to ponder.

Shebna

Isaiah 22:15-19. “Thus saith the Lord God of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say, What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou has hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock? Behold, the Lord will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee. He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord’s house. And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down. ”

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For more scriptures on Shebna’s story, you can go to Is. 36 and 37; also 2 Kings 19.

Shebna was a chamberlain over the king’s household, with specific responsibility over the treasury.  The use of the word this (Shebna) in verse 15 indicates that Shebna is out of favor with God. Inhis arrogance, he prepared a grave for himself, hollowed out in the rocks of the city, copying the high and mighty of earth.  He would never occupy that grave. Instead, he would be taken captive and the Lord would toss him violently, like a ball, into a far land that was very large. He had provided himself stately carriages which would go, too. He would die in captivity.

In captivity, God would “cover”him, or bring him down to a place of humility, stripping away his outer pretension to being a great man. He would die in obscurity rather than the pomp he had planned for himself.

The lesson here is clear. God will humble us when we aspire to places that do not belong to us. When we hold ourselves high in our own opinion, God will strip us of all pretenses and put is firmly in our right places.

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(Matthew 23:12)

 

 

Unrepentant

Isaiah 22:12-14. “And in that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink: for tomorrow we shall die. And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of hosts.”

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I tried to block out the line on the bottom, but I’m not tech-savvy enough. Yolo is You Only Live Once, so I guess it’s appropriate.  That is exactly the attitude the people of Jerusalem took.

In verse 12, “in that day” is not far future prophecy, but immediate.  God called the nation to repent of their sins, but instead they acted foolishly and abandoned all common sense. They feasted and partied and many were drunk. As far as I could find, “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” shows up for the very first time in this passage. I didn’t take a lot of time with it, so I could be wrong.

One wonders how the people could have a bacchanalia when thousand of their enemies stood just outside the door.  It seems they were having a little trouble with reality, doesn’t it?  They refused to acknowledge God’s call for repentance, and they partied as if there would be no tomorrow.  Did they really believe they would die on the next day?  Hard to say.  I just can’t imagine behaving that way with the visible threat of impending doom surrounding me.

Verse 14 is chilling.  Isaiah says that God told him the sin of the people would not be purged until they died.  No going back at this point. No more second chances.  They had used up all their do-overs, and horror was about to fall on them.

Defense Preparations

Isaiah 22:8-11.  “And he discovered the covering of Judah, and thou didst look in the day to the armour of the house of the forest. Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of David, that they are many: and ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool. And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall.  Ye made also a ditch between the  two walls for the water of the old pool; but, ye have not looked unto the Maker thereof, neither had respect unto Him that fashioned it long ago.

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The once-lovely city of Jerusalem was about to be destroyed. The people made some frantic last-minute efforts to prepare, but because they did not beseech God for His protection, their efforts were in vain.

He,  in the beginning of verse 8, is the King of Assyria. His uncovering of Judah was his complete disrespect. He destroyed their safety, their pride; and he heaped insults on the people. The “house of the forest” would seem to have been an arsenal or armory in which weapons were stored.

Thou in the same verse is the King of Judah, who looked to the armor in the house in the forest as a last resort. He saw how easily the city could be breached, and he tried to keep the enemy from having access to the water that supplied Jerusalem. He had counted all the dwellings in the city, and broke some of them down to use the bricks for reinforcing the walls around the city. .

Hezekiah was King of Judah during this period, and God had blessed his reign because he did try to remain close to God, in spite of the carelessness of his people. When we depend only on our own efforts and neglect to trust in God, we are doomed to failure.

Invaders

Isaiah 22: 6-7. “And Elam bare the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield. And it shall come to pass, that the choicest valley shall be full of chariots and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.”

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This is Persia, and Kir  is Media, indicating that the armies of the Medes and Persians were with the armies of Assyria in the invasion of Palestine and the surrounding countries. Two hundred years later, the Medes and Persians became independent   of Assyria and Babylon.

The choicest valleys being full of enemy armies indicates how huge the invading force was, and how utterly helpless Judah was without God (v. 7; 37:36-38).

Sunday Morning Coffee: Music

I set my coffee mug down on the table by my chair, sat down and pulled my computer to my lap. I said, “Alexa, play Abiding Radio.” I have it set on “instrumental” right now. I love beautifully orchestrated  sacred music.

The first song I heard was “As morning gilds the skies, my heart ,awakening, cries, ‘May Jesus Christ be praised!'”  As I listened, I  did an instant time travel back to when I was about eight or nine years old.

The music director at Fourth Baptist Church in Minneapolis had decided to start a children’s choir. Oh, my heart!  I was so excited!  I loved to sing, and I think I may have been first in line to audition!

Glory!  I was accepted into the choir, and under the director’s able leadership, we tackled some pretty hard music. This hymn was one that I clearly remember.  He went over the words with us, making sure we knew exactly what the song meant.  And by the way,  that’s a really good thing to do when your kids are memorizing scripture.  Helps them “get it” faster when they fully understand what the words mean.

That hymn was a paean of praise, and I have loved it ever since.  Here’s a beautiful version for your enjoyment: