He Bore our Iniquities

Isaiah 53:11

11 He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.

Image result for Isaiah 53:11 KJV

The travail, or anguish, of His soul was for the restoration of man and his dominion  as before the fall ( I Cor 15:24-28).

It is by the knowledge of God’s plan that mankind is blessed (Luke 1:77).

The Messiah is called righteous  because He did and always will do that which is perfectly right in all things commanded by God. It emphasizes His personal holiness ( I Peter 2:21-22).

To justify  means to declare not guilty. Faith comes by knowledge of the Word of God, and such knowledge will justify when obeyed (Rom. 5:1; 10:17).

Jesus has born all our sin.  He, and He alone, by the shedding of His blood and His resurrection, has made it possible for us to be reconciled to God.

 

It’s Not Helpful!

I’ve been having a rather lengthy  Facebook conversation with some former students of mine, including one of my sons.  I guess it’s not surprising that it has taken  the form of a blog post in my head, so here it is.

Believers, Christians, often experience awful, horrible, heartbreaking events. Babies die, husbands or wives leave, life-threatening illnesses occur,  violent crime takes away our feelings of safety, value, and belief in God Himself. Severe persecution in some parts of the world  threatens believers every single day, and there is no escape from it.

These hurting people often cry out, “Why?  Why are these things happening?  Where is God?  Why is He allowing this?”  Some will get answers from well-meaning people, but those answers only serve to increase their sense of helplessness and abandonment.

One of those answers, which has become ubiquitous  lately, is,”Well, everything happens for a reason.”  And that is supposed to heal the wounds, soothe the heartache, and remove the grief.

It’s a vague, formless answer that carries very little power to help. In fact, it can create even more hurt because the suffering ones can’t find that elusive reason, and they just don’t understand. It has a sort of  New Age kharmic feel about it, because it is non-specific and indicates a vague faith in. . . . well, I’m really not sure. No person, no god, no ultimate arbiter of life events is mentioned.  Just that somewhere out there sits something or someone who orchestrates terrible events in our lives for some non-specified reason.

It makes no sense to me.

So, why DO bad things happen?

For me, the answer is both simple and complex.  My worldview is biblical.  I believe that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. He is holy, just, and sovereign; He is loving, merciful, and gracious. He cannot look on evil, so He provided the only possible perfect sacrifice to cleanse sin in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit of God, born of a pure, virgin girl who was in the line of King David.  Jesus was the One Whose blood could cleanse sin, and Whose resurrection could provide victory over sin and death. You can read all about Him in the four gospels:  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Why did God do all that?  So that we could find salvation and spend eternity with Him, because He loves us.  All of us.

Why doesn’t He, then, protect us from terrible events?

Because it’s not His job to do so. He never said He would.  What He did promise is that He would walk through the valley of the shadow of death with us (Psalm 23).  He promised never to leave us or forsake us (Heb, 13:5). He promised to be with us to the ends of the earth (Matt. 28:20).He never promised to prevent harm; He did promise to help us endure it.

Bad things happen because we live in a sinful, fallen world (Genesis 1-3). Satan is real. Evil is real. Jesus said that the rain will fall on the just and the unjust ( Matt: 5:45).

To accuse God of bringing evil into our lives is to believe the exact opposite of His true character. To demand that God should have prevented whatever happened is to demand that He conform to our wishes.

The Apostle Paul suffered greatly for his faith. Near the end of his life, knowing he was facing a painful and horrifying death, he said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).  He did not complain about all the beatings, the stoning, the shipwreck, the snakebite, the imprisonment.  He accepted it as the price for his preaching the gospel wherever God sent him, and he rejoiced always because he knew God was always with him (Phil 4:4-5).

I know this is longer than my normal posts.  Just one more thing, and I’m done.

Instead of asking “Why,” we would do much better to ask for the what and the how. 

What can I learn from what has happened?  How can I begin to heal, or if necessary, to forgive, and move on from here? How can I use this to learn and grow, and to help someone else who is hurting?  How can I be a channel of blessing, showing the love of God to those around me in spite of the trouble that has beset me?

After all, no one suffered more unjustly than Jesus did.  He was the perfect Man, Who never sinned. Yet God allowed Him “to become sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21).

Please don’t accuse and blame God for the work of Satan.  Put the blame squarely where it belongs.  Satan’s whole purpose is to destroy all that God loves.  Evil does exist, and it finds all of us to one degree or another.  No one is immune.  God’s job is NOT to prevent all believers from ever suffering harm and evil. It is not His fault that we suffer.

“Everything happens for a reason”  is not helpful. It just makes the sufferer feel more confused, and removes permission for that person to grieve. Instead of saying that, tell the person how sorry your are for his pain, and find some way to be helpful, to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

 

Antichrist Judged

Isaiah 33: 10-12. ” Now will I rise, saith the Lord: now will I be exalted: now will I life up Myself. Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble; your breath, as fire, shall devour you. And the people shall be as the burning of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire.”

Related image

The time will come when God has had enough of the arrogance and rebellion of Antichrist and his followers. When He rises and takes His proper position of authority, Antichrist and his armies will be like chaff that blows away in the wind when grain is threshed. They will be devoured by their own breath, burned like thorns that have been gathered when fields are cleared for plowing.

Antichrist will have no power to withstand the  power of the Lord God of Israel, the Holy One of Israel, the Lord God of Hosts.

We too often forget Who He is. Sovereign, holy, omnipotent God. No one has more authority than He; no one can stand against Him when He unleashes his judgment on them for their rebellion against Him.

The Righteous

Isaiah 3:10. “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well  with him; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.”

Image result for Isaiah 3:10

In the midst of all these dire prophecies that will fall on Judah and Jerusalem for their sin, it is comforting that this verse is there. God will always honor those who are righteous. They may have to suffer with the entire nation, but they will be rewarded in some way for their determination to continue to do right, to follow the Lord, no matter what everyone else may say or do.

It is sad when the few who take a stand for righteousness do so against the desires of everyone else. Many times, the one who chooses godliness stands alone, and is accused of being judgmental, self-righteous, and proud. Sin can infect a whole culture, so that wrong becomes right, and right becomes wrong. It is happening again, now, here in American. Political correctness is almost always unbiblical in its inception. A good example of that would be our country’s law that legalizes the murder of babies in utero.  Hillary Clinton has stated that she believes a baby up to 36 weeks’ gestation is not yet human, and has no rights under the constitution.

And that, my friends is political correctness.  There are those who take it as far as saying that the baby isn’t a baby until the parents choose to take it home.

I shake my head.  God’s heart is grieved.

Further Explanation

Matthew 13:40-43. “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

Image

As Jesus continued His explanation of the parable of the sower and the seed, He spoke of the events that will take place at the end of this world, or this age.  I believe that these events include the final judgment on all who have refused Jesus Christ. It includes those who may have operated under the auspices of Christendom, but they were not true believers.  Some would have been apostate; that is, knowingly teaching false doctrine while appearing to be men of God. These are they who “offend, and them which do iniquity.”  They will be cast into the fire, and there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

I heard a sermon years ago in which that last phrase, “gnashing of teeth,” was described as what we do in anger and frustration.  If that portrayal is correct, then it would seem that even in the midst of hell, there will be those who will scream out their hatred and betrayal of Jesus, blaming Him for their final end.

Verse 43 says that “the righteous shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”  I think it is important to clarify here that there will be NONE who are righteous in their own actions.  There will be only those who are made righteous (put into right standing with God) through the blood of the Lamb. That righteousness is not of our own making, but only because of our acceptance of and dependence upon the she blood of Jesus Christ, through Whom we have salvation.

I sang in a church choir that learned a song I’ve love ever since.  I can’t remember the title, and very little of the song, actually.  The sentence that stays in my mind is this: “The only view God has of me is through the blood of Jesus.”

Amen.

In Much Affliction

Verse six tells us that the Thessalonians received the Word “in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.” Doesn’t that seem like a strange juxtaposition of words– affliction and joy? In our pain-free society, where every twinge has a pill or other remedy, I don’t think we have much understanding of how affliction and joy can be used in the same sentence.  So let’s take a deeper look and see if it makes sense (of course it does!).

The Greek word used for affliction  is most often translated to mean trouble, persecution, distress caused from outside the body. So it’s clear that we’re not talking about a headache or some other bodily ill, but actual persecution caused both by the preaching of the Word and their acceptance of it. When the Thessalonian believers made it clear that they had indeed received into themselves the gospel of Jesus Christ, they were subject to “much affliction” from those who rejected the Word (Acts 17:5-6). This was not mild discomfort, but severe difficulty.  It seems clear from historical writings that all new believers in this period of time understood that if they became Christians, they were in for a very hard time; yet, their faith was so strong that they accepted the trials, along with the Word, with great joy.  Amazing.  They knew that the missionaries had experienced terrible beatings and imprisonment at Philippi (Acts 16:23-24; I Thess. 2:2). They knew they were risking the same treatment when it became known that they had become followers of Paul, and of Christ. 

We in America do not face this type of violent persecution—yet!  I believe we will, and I don’t think it will be long before God’s hand of protection is lifted as we allow our nation to drift quickly into moral decline and depravity.  Can I just dip my toe into the waters of a rant here? 

Do you know why I used words like moral decline and depravity?  It’s because all around me people who claim to be followers of a holy, righteous, and sinless God are indulging in all sorts of worldliness that in no way reflects the moral character of the God we claim to worship.  Examples, you say?  Well, what movies have you watched recently?  Was there cursing, profanity, sexual talk, and nudity?  Really?  And you think that’s okay with God?  Really?  What have you read recently?  Are you caught up in the vampires, the children killing other children for food, the slightly moderated pornography that I saw on the shelves of my local Walmart tonight? I picked up some of those books and scanned the promo on the flyleaf, and I quickly looked around hoping no one who knew me would think I was buying any of it. 

Take a look at Ephesians 5:11-12. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.”

We have lost our way.  Instead of hearing the Word with joy, we are sitting through church services thinking about the next fun activity we’re doing that afternoon.  We have lost our understanding of the nature of the God Who so loved us that He sent His Son to redeem us from our sin.  We give lip service to our faith, and then go live just like all the unbelievers who have no knowledge of God. 

I can’t help but wonder if, when persecution comes, we will have the character, courage and faith to face it with joy as the Thessalonians did.  Our joy is in the Lord because of our salvation, and because He loves us and has promised to walk through all our troubles with us. 

Please don’t go away from this post today feeling like I’m just being legalistic.  That’s not what this is about.  We have clear instructions from God to avoid all appearance of evil, to live Godly in Christ  Jesus, to be pure and holy and separated from the world. 

How are we doing?

 Perhaps we find so little joy in our faith because it costs us so little to claim it.