Sins of Judah

Isaiah 30: 1-2. ” Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of Me: and that cover with a covering, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at My mouth, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!”

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Verses 1-17 of this chapter have been fulfilled.  Verses 18-33 remain to be fulfilled.

Judah  just keeps turning her back on God, hoping to find “covering” (protection) in Egypt,  the enemy of old that kept their ancestors enslaved for 400 years. They took  counsel from Egypt, but not from God.

Adding sin unto sin:  Sin can rarely stand alone. It requires another sin to cover it up, or to bring it to fruition.  Sin always takes you farther than you intended to go. It grabs you like a whirlpool grabs a piece of wood, taking it slow and easy at the top, but spiraling downward faster and faster until there is no escape.

Judah was like that piece of wood, always looking for protection and alliance, and finding nothing but despair.

When people refuse God and look to man for redemption, the result is always, always dire.  Always.

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The Holy One of Jacob

Isaiah 29:22-24.  “Therefore thus saith the Lord, Who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of Mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify My Name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.”

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These verses continue the Millennial prophecy. When Messiah sets up His kingdom on earth, Jacob (Israel) will  no longer deny Him. It is important to note in v. 22 that God redeemed Abraham by faith, just as He has redeemed every believer throughout history.

The promises in these verses have never yet been completely fulfilled, but in the Millennial Kingdom, they will be. There will never again be reason for Israel to fear; they will recognize Jesus Christ as Messiah; and those who refused to understand, those who murmured against Jesus, will learn and accept the doctrines of Jesus Christ.

The Terrible One

Isaiah 29: 20-21. ” For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all the watch for iniquity are cut off:  That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.”

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Last week we read about the restoration of Lebanon, which will become a fruitful field, an example of the Gentile nations who turn to Jehovah. In these two verses, we see the reason for this restoration. Again, this is a Millennnial prophecy having to due with Antichrist, the Terrible One, who will be brought to nothing. The scorners and wicked ones will be condemned with him, and their influence and their lives will be cut off.

They have made others to offend in word, or give false evidence. They laid traps for the righteous, and they corrupted judges.  They turned the just, the upright, aside for financial rewards, and they defrauded men for nothing.

The saying, “He does it because he can” comes to mind.  Yesterday, in Texas, in a little Baptist church, 27 people were killed and many more were injured by a lone gunman who entered the building and started shooting. He was indiscriminate as to age or sex of his victims. Little children and older people died at his hands.

Why?  Well, it’s not because of the gun. You can make all the laws your want. People who want guns will always find a way to get them, and they will use them to commit heinous crimes.  So, WHY?

Because evil dwells in the heart of mankind. The spirit of antichrist, if not the man himself, exists in the world today, just as it always has. It is simply becoming more obvious as our society finds ways to protect these offenders and make sure they get their “rights.”

There really is nothing new under the sun.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Depression

It is of particular concern to me when I meet a teen boy or girl who is struggling with depression.  It just makes me so sad to know the battle that is being waged, and how unexpected it is for a lot of kids and their families.

Because I work in a Christian counseling office,  I usually ask  sometime early in our work together about my clients’ spiritual relationship with God. One of the things that confuses them is that they have often been taught that a good Christian doesn’t experience depression. Feelings of strong guilt grow along with the depression, and it’s one of the first things we need to discuss.

It is so damaging, no matter a person’s age, to be told that he just needs to get right with God, just needs to trust the promises of God. The implication, then, is that he is NOT right with God, that he has NOT been trusting God. The feelings of despair will continue to grow if this negative pattern of thinking is not confronted with the truth of God’s Word.

 

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It is true that there is always a spiritual piece in depression. David, whose Psalms often reflect the struggle he had with depression, made it clear that he knew when he had sinned against God, and he wept and repented, and sought for restoration.  I am not overlooking the possibility of sin lurking in a person’s heart, but I also know, from walking with my own husband through a terrible depression,  that he did search his heart, begging God to show him if there was some hidden sin.

The truth for a lot of people who experience depression is that they are worn out, body and soul. Exhausted.  Often, their personality type is that of the melancholy, who is an analytical, detail-oriented perfectionist who easily falls into feeling of guilt and even shame when things don’t go perfectly. These thoughts and emotions can lead to insomnia, or to a need to sleep ALL the time.   Slowly, the person’s supply of the “feel-good chemicals” created in the brain and the gut become depleted, and a serious depression follows.

Treatment, to be the most effective, needs to address body, soul, and spirit.  Proper diet, hygiene, exercise, maybe medication, and good talk therapy to help replace the negative thinking patters with  positive, biblically-based thinking all work together to bring the person back to normal.  Done well, therapy gives him tools to recognize  negativity and take steps to turn it around.

It is so important to encourage, not to scold. To focus on positives, not to preach. To use prayer as a positive force, not an opportunity to lecture.

Starting with my husband’s experience, and all during the 17 years since I started working in this field, I’ve seen dozens and dozens of depressed believers who feel they’re the most sinful people on earth. I’m so thankful to have a different understanding of the whole subject now, and to be able to offer help and hope.

I love my job.

 

 

Millennial Lebanon

Isaiah 29: 17-19. ” Is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful  field shall be esteemed as a forest? And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the Book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”

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Sometimes, someone else says it so clearly that I don’t feel I can improve it by putting it into my own words.  Here is a commentary from John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible: 

Isaiah 29:17

[Is] it not yet a very little while
In a short space of time, in a few years, what follows would come to pass; when there would be a strange change and alteration made in the world, and by which it would appear, that the Lord not only knows, but foreknows, all things: and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field;
the forest of Lebanon should be as Carmel. The meaning is, that the Gentile world, which was like a forest uncultivated, and full of unfruitful trees, to which wicked men may be compared, should through the preaching of the Gospel be manured, become God’s husbandry, and be like a fruitful field, abounding with people and churches, fruitful in grace and good works: and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest?
the people of the Jews, who once had the word and ordinances of God, and were a fruitful and flourishing people in religion; through their rejection of the Messiah, and contempt of his Gospel, should be deprived of all their privileges, and become like a forest or barren land: this was fulfilled, when the kingdom of God was taken from them, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits of it, ( Matthew 21:43 ) . See ( Isaiah 32:15 ) ( Isaiah 35:1Isaiah 35:2 ) .

There are days when it truly seems that the evil overcomes the good. The horrible attack by a jihadist in New York this week has brought all of us to awareness, once again, that Satan is on the move and has not given up. The arrogant, godless man who killed eight and injured many more has had the effrontery to “ask” (I read demand) for an Isis flag in his hospital room. I truly hope no one is so foolish as to allow that desecration to happen.

Then I read passages like this one today, and God reminds me again that He is still in charge.  Things are going to get worse before they get better, but He still holds the reins, and we do not have to fear the evil that seeks to destroy all that is good.

Take heart.  It’s not over until GOD has the victory!

Hiding Our Sin

Isaiah 29: 15-16. ” Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of Him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of Him that framed  it, He had no understanding?”

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The warning in these verses, given to the people of Lebanon in Isaiah’s day, are just as applicable to us today. We are so foolish to think that what we do in secret is not seen by God!  Computers and the internet have given rise, for instance, to an epidemic of pornography that has infected millions of people around the world, Christians included. It can be done in secret, in the middle of the night or during the day when no one else is home.

What we forget is that God sees, and knows our hearts.

When we forget Who has made us, we are turning things upside down. We question His ownership, even denying that God made us; that He did not frame us and construct us and that we owe Him nothing.

We will not escape judgment.

We need a revival.

Lip Service

Isaiah 29: 13-14. “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”

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Here’s what my Dake’s Study Bible has to say about v. 14:

This marvelous work and wonder was none other than the gospel work of the New Testament–teaching, preaching, and healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people; the creation of new lives; and the full program as demonstrated and recorded of Christ and His followers. . . . Not only did the miracles and signs of the gospel make men wonder, but they caused some to resist to the point of seeming madness and their own destruction; and the new doctrines taught caused the wise of the world to stumble, harden their hearts, and be lost ( I Cor. 1:18-31). Such a program was a savour of life unto life in those who conformed to the gospel, as well as a savour of death unto death in those who rejected it (2 Cor. 2:15-17).