Smooth Stones

Isaiah 57:6. “Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion; they, they are thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering. Should I receive comfort in these?”

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Smooth stones taken from streams were used to make pillars and monuments. these were anointed; and sacrifices were offered upon them or by them.  Isaiah is pointing out here that the people have spent far more time creating altars for their heathen idols than they have in worshiping God;  God receives no comfort, no honor, no glory in such behavior.

Sometimes God directed His people to build a monument to help them remember His providence and protection.  Here, the people are using  the altars and monuments for the exact opposite purpose, and direct rejection of the sovereignty of God.

 

Wickedness

Isaiah 57:3-5.

But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore.

Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood,

Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks?

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In vv. 3-12, twenty specific sins of the wicked are brought to light.  It’s not fun reading; and digging into the actual customs and behaviors is not fun research. ‘

The ungodly of Judah were commanded to gather to hear God’s indictment upon their behaviors, most of which had been adopted from the surrounding nations.

Sorcery, adultery, whoredom, and falsehood were so common to Judah that the nation was accused of being the offspring of such parents.  In v. 5, the prophet asks, “Who are you mocking?  Against whom are you making hideous faces, stretching your mouths and sticking your tongues out?”

It sounds like childish behavior, doesn’t it?  But it went far deeper than simply childishness; it was deliberate mockery of God and righteousness. Isaiah tells them that they are the result (seed) of sin and deceit.  Harsh words, but he’s just getting started.

Verse 5  describes some of the behaviors that took place in lovely, hidden-away places where there were green trees,  water,  and lush vegetation.  Groves were often used for idol worship by the surrounding nations. places that were not right out in public view.

The burning lusts and passions, the adulterous acts with whores consecrated to idols in order to attract more devotees, the murder of children offered to Moloch and other gods, and the practice of every other vice and sin are what the prophet referred to. The chief places of idolatry  were under green trees, in shadowy groves; in the valleys; in caves and caverns of the earth, and on mountains.

 

 

Taken Away from Evil to Come

Isaiah 57:1-2.

 The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.

He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.

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These verses speak of the righteous being destroyed and the ungodly not taking it to heart or understanding the blessed end of the godly.

There are four blessing of the righteous at death mentioned here:

  1. They are taken away from the evil sufferings to come
  2.  They enter in to eternal peace
  3.  They rest from their sufferings
  4.  They continue to walk uprightly even in the life to come.

It always pays to live Micah 6:8. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

It’s simple, really.  We are the ones who have complicated matters, not God.

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: December

In spite of the fact that it feels like it came way too fast, December is here. And there’s no escaping it. Not that I want to.  I love Christmas and all that it stands for, especially to those of us who love God and truly celebrate the birth of His Son, and not just all the other tinsel and tales that accompany Christmas now.

I don’t remember how my parents did it, but even when they took us to a big department store in Minneapolis to have our pictures take with Santa, I knew he was just a normal man dressed in a costume.  I never believed he was real, even as I learned to read and enjoyed ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

What I remember far more clearly are my early Christmases at Fourth Baptist Church in Minneapolis.  I had to memorize the story in Luke 2 one year.  I must have been six or seven, no older. I remember the pretty gold corduroy jumper Mom made for me, and that my hair was done in two pony tails just above my ears.  I remember being in front of all those people and, for some reason, not being nervous at all as I said all those verses into the microphone. I remember the singing, and then the ushers passed out bags of Christmas candy and nuts to all the kids.  Remember ribbon candy?  There was always either a big shiny apple or an orange, too.  I was SO excited to get an orange, a luxury that was rare for us.

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I remember the holy, hushed atmosphere as everyone stood at the end and sang Silent Night as the organ and piano softly played.  Even back then, I would get teary-eyed.  I still do.  Of course, it took me awhile to figure roundjonversion,   but still the meaning of the song was clear.  I also loved Away in a Manger,  and the little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.

Some things you treasure far longer than the tales of Rudolph, Frosty, or a one-horse-open sleigh. You value what is real.

As you prepare for your Christmas, however you celebrate, keep your eyes on what is real.  Have fun, enjoy yourself, but remember to worship.  Christ was born!

Blind Watchmen

Isaiah 56:9-12.

All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest.

10 His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.

11 Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.

12 Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.

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Verse 9 gives us an unpleasant picture of wild animals invited to devour the corpses of His enemies after they lay dead on the field of battle.  This is such a sudden change from the rest of the chapter that it’s rather startling. The point, though is that in His promises of release from bondage,  He was speaking both of the immediate future and the far future. Both would include mighty battles with the enemies of Israel and of God.

Revelation 19:4 is the description of  the result of the great Battle of Armageddon that is yet to come:  Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.”

The last four verses in this chapter and in chapter 57, we will see a lot about the downfall of Israel due to corrupt leaders.  It’s no different today, for we can impose the same evils on today’s shepherds–pastors, political leaders and so on, who have grown lazy and greedy in their given tasks.

I am thankful that my own pastor does NOT fit the description in vv. 10-12.

Twelve flaws of character are given in vv. 10-12:

They are (spiritually) blind.

They are ignorant.

They are like dumb (voiceless) dogs.

They cannot bark in warning.  (What good is a guard dog who cannot bark?)

They love sleep.

They are lazy.

They are like greedy dogs.

They are  covetous.

They are ignorant,  mentioned for the second time.

Everyone is dedicated to gaining wealth.

They live in pleasure, drunkenness, and increased revellings.

There are so many parallels today in every area of life.  Too many churches that are ineffective, and fail to preach the whole counsel of God.  People in leadership who openly renounce God and praise sin.  Too much entertainment that takes our minds completely off of God and righteousness, focusing instead on the lusts and desires of the flesh.

America and Israel, both blessed with the knowledge and leadership of God, both allowing the things of God to recede far, far away from the front ranks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Injection

It didn’t hurt to get out of bed this morning.  It didn’t hurt when I sat down for my coffee and breakfast. The only little twitch I’m still feeling is just above my right hip, but the doctor said it could be two  weeks before the medicine  takes full effect.

The thing that bothers me is that it was two weeks after my first injection that I started to feel the ominous pinching and aching.  It’s been only six weeks since that first injection. I could hardly walk upright when I got to the  doc’s office yesterday.

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Well, much better today, and praying the improvement continues.  I can have only one more injection between now and Oct. 2019; you can have three in a calendar year.  Limited because it’s a very heavy-duty steroid.  Too much isn’t good for you.

The bottom line, for me, is to be thankful that this treatment exists; that it does give me relief from the pain, if only for a few months at a time. There is no cure for what’s happening in my back. Pain treatment has improved a great deal since I remember my mom going through what I’m experiencing now. Both my sister and I inherited her crumbling back; neither of us remembers her getting these injections.  She died at 87, about 6 1/2 years ago, and before they put her on morphine, she would often flinch, close her eyes, and say something about the pain shooting across her lower back. well, Mom, I truly understand now.

Anyway.  Today I’m off to teach my homeschool class on The Constitution and current events.  Fun, interesting, good bunch of kids.  And I can teach sitting down 🙂

Gathering of Israel

Isaiah 56:8-9.

The Lord God, which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to Him, beside those that are gathered unto Him.

All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest.

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Again, please remember that we are looking at the end times here, and particularly the events around the Second Advent of Christ.  The gathering of Israel started before the Millennium.  In fact, it has started in our lifetime.  The Jews are already returning to Israel from all around the world.  They are gathering, though, not in the Name of Messiah but as Zionists.  It is more a gathering of the politically-minded who want to see Israel defeat the nations around them who want them destroyed.

Verse 9 seems to be the beginning of a new message, which will take us through the end of chapter 56 through the end of chapter 57. Every source I’ve consulted agrees  that 56:9 needs to be seen as the beginning of the text that includes all of ch. 57.  For that reason, I’m going to leave verse 9 for tomorrow.