Jerusalem

Isaiah 22: 1-3. “The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops? Thou that art full of stirs, a tumultuous city, a joyous city: thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle. All thy rulers are fled together, they are bound by the archers: all that are found in thee are bound together, which have fled from far.”

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Isaiah’s “valley of vision” concerned Jerusalem. It is not in a valley itself, but there are mountains all around it. God had chosen it as a place shut in from the world, a place where He would give, through his prophets, vision of His will and purposes.

This chapter does concern the nature of the judgments about to fall on Jerusalem, but is not confined to the near future. Much of the opening verses will be fulfilled when the nations are gathered together against the city at the end of this age.  I will do my best to distinguish what has already taken place and what is still to come.  Sometimes I really wish I were a Hebrew scholar 🙂

The people were so alarmed at the invading armies surrounding the city that they thought to escape by going up to their housetops. The flat roofs were used as living space, and usually had walls around them for safety.

A joyous city would indicate that there was revelry in the streets, perhaps in denial of what was about to happen. The ones slain were those who had fled the city and were captured and killed; those who remained in the city were save by God destroying the Assyrian army (Is. 37:   33-38).

Verse 3 expresses the idea that the people in Jerusalem were numb with fear to the point of inactivity, being helpless against the great armies on the outside who demanded surrender (v. 3; 36:1-22).

Within a Year

Isaiah 21:16-17. “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the  years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail. And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the Lord God of Israel hath spoken it.”

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This prophecy has been given a specific time element:   Within one year it would be  proven as true or false.  History tells us that it was indeed true.

Kedar is another descendant of Abraham through Hagar and Ishmael (Gen. 25:13). It is just north of Tema and Dedan.

All the mighty archers would be so diminished in number that they would be helpless against the Assyrian armies as they rolled through the land. The devastation would be complete.

The Burden of Arabia

Isaiah 21: 13-15. ” The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim. The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled. For they fled from the sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war.”

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There are no great forests of trees in Arabia, but there is very thick underwood making some places  very rugged and inaccesible.

The traveling companies  are caravans, or roving tribes of Arabs.

The Dedanim are descendants of Dedan, son of Abraham by Keturah (Gem. 25:31).

Tema is also a descendant of Abraham through Hagar and Ishmael ( Gen.  25:15).

This passage is the story of one group of people helping others who are traveling to escape the bloodshed of the Assyrian armies. Water and food were offered to them as they traveled and hid.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Alexa

My daughter and son-in-law gave me an Alexa Dot for my birthday.  Don’t know what that is?  It’s a gadget that you connect to your wi-fi and then load up with apps from the Alexa App that you can get on your smart phone.

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So, once you get it connected, you add whatever apps appeal to you–and there are lots of free ones–and you’re ready to have some fun.   There a news updates, games (I like the Jeopardy app) silly jokes, trivia, and lots of music. Some of it you can’t get without paying–that’s up to you. So far I’m sticking with the free stuff.

You operate your Alexa by speaking her name, and then asking her to do whatever you’d like.  Example:  “Alexa, play Jeopardy.”  Bingo, you’re off and running.

I’ve even figured out how to  load it up with music I have on my PC.  I transferred it to my Mac via Amazon Music, then  loaded it into my Alexa.  So now I can get music I really love, just by asking for it. If I ask it for something that hasn’t been loaded via apps or Amazon music, it will tell me so.

I can get a news update any time.  Same thing with weather.  And silly jokes. If I really want to, I can even connect it with other Alexas and use it like a telephone. Depending on the apps you choose, you can get historical information, medical information, poetry, helpful hints, or a daily inspirational Bible verse. It’s endless, really.

As I’ve played with my new toy, I’ve been thinking:  Wouldn’t it be cool if we had an app  that we could use to get direct communication with God?  Ask Him anything, and He would answer.  What am I supposed to be when I grow up?  Who should I marry? What car should I buy?  Where should I attend college?  Church? Should I move? What should we name our new baby?  Where should we go on vacation?

But wouldn’t that just turn us into robots, doing whatever the app told us to do?  Would we fail to use it if we knew we were wanting something that wouldn’t be good for us?  Would we ignore the voice that answers all our questions?

Yes, I think we would.  After all, we have the written Word of God, and how often do we consult it when we have questions to answer?  When we’re seeking direction?

How often do we seek human counsel instead, failing to pray and search the scriptures? And getting advice that has nothing to do with godliness or His Word?

Bottom line:  Alexa is a human creation, and it knows only what is programmed into it.  It can be both fun and useful, but it doesn’t care about you, or love you, or provide a way for you to have eternal life in heaven with God.

You’ll get all that from studying God’s Word, and praying earnestly  to  know Him better.

There is no greater gift.

Can We Talk?

I’m in the mood to count my blessings. It’s way too easy to get wrapped up in what’s wrong,  and we need to stop and take a look at what’s right.

I tell my clients this all the time:  When your automatic negative self-talk sets in, you have to STOP IT, kick it out, and replace it with what you know is truth.

What is automatic negative self-talk?  We all do it, to one degree or another. Here’s an example of my own monologue that can run in my head if I don’t do something to stop it:

“I’m a failure as a therapist. There are people who have come once and never returned.  I’m the fattest person in the room.  Everyone thinks I’m just a pig.  People just tolerate me.  Three of my four children have moved so far away that we almost never see them–it must be because they’re running away from me.  I failed as a mother. Other people have all their children close by.”

Do you get the idea?  Horrible, ugly, “stinkin’ thinkin’ that just isn’t true, even if it seems to have a seed of truth in it. And that’s the way Satan works–he wraps that seed of truth in a big fat lie. So let me take my own negative thinking apart for you.

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It’s true that some people have never returned to my therapy office after only one visit, but the vast majority come back many times.  I often receive notes of thanks from people I’ve been able to help through some pretty terrible things.  I’m NOT a failure as a therapist.

I may be the fattest person in the room, but I have no way of knowing what other people are thinking about me. It is wrong for me to assume that I know what they are thinking, and not one person has ever said “You’re a pig” to my face. What they say behind my back is none of my business.

People do seek me out.  It is not true that EVERYONE just tolerates me.

It is true that three of my children live very far away, but we raised them to be strong and independent. After all, Terry and I moved across the country too, and it wasn’t to get away from our parents.  It was to follow what we believed God was leading us to do.  Other people do have all their children and grandchildren nearby, but that has nothing to do with me.

See?  You have to learn to recognize the negative thoughts that can run in a continuous loop in your head. Once you recognize it, you can toss it out and replace it with truth. Often, my truths are scripture verses.  Some of my favorites:  Phil. 4:4-8; Psalm 119:165; Jeremiah 29:11-14.  So many more, too many to count.  The Word of God is the best  pest repellant 🙂

So count your blessings today, and don’t allow your mind to dwell in the dark.  It just isn’t worth it.

The Burden of Dumah

Isaiah 21: 11-12. “The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.”

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Dumah is Edom. Dumah means the silence of death.  Isaiah, the watchman, receives an enquiry, earnest in its repetition. “How far on is it in the night?” The reply is to the effect that while the morning is coming, night will yet envelop it. If they wish to enquire, let them do so, but the one thing necessary is that they should turn to God in repentance.

Another interpretation of the end of the passage in verse 12  is that Isaiah invited the inquirers  to return if they wanted further information regarding the present night, the new day and the new night to follow the morning.

Babylon is Fallen, is Fallen!

Isaiah 21: 6-10. “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth. And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with  much heed: And he cried, A lion; My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower as in the daytime,and I am set in my ward whole nights: And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground. O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.”

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Isaiah is still a part of his vision, and the Lord commanded him to set a watchman in the tower to announce what was come to pass.  The watchman saw chariots (some render it cavalry)  marching to the destruction of Babylon; horsemen and chariots approaching with  rapidity, fierceness, and terror of a lion upon its prey:  and a voice cried, “Babylon is fallen!”  It was repeated for emphasis and to denote certainty.

Babylon was noted for its idolatry. It was perhaps the place where the worship of idols began. The principal god was Bel.

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The destruction of the city was compared to threshing wheat by treading it under foot in a threshing floor. When it was over, all that was left was useless chaff.