Vexation of Spirit

Isaiah 65:13-14.

13 Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, My servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, My servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, My servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed:

14 Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.

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The result of ongoing, unconfessed sin is nothing to laugh at. Those who repent and return to God will be blessed; those who do not will experience sorrow and “vexation of spirit.”

Well, you may say, vexation of spirit doesn’t sound so bad.

Here are some synonyms for you to ponder:
annoyance, irritation, irritability, exasperation, anger, rage, fury, temper, bad temper, hot temper, wrath, spleen, chagrin, pique, crossness, indignation, displeasure, discontent, dissatisfaction, disgruntlement, ill humor, peevishness, petulance, testiness, tetchiness, gall, resentment, umbrage.

“That’s not fair! How can a loving God allow people to feel that way?”

The answer is easy, really. It’s the way they’ve chosen. They have NOT chosen God; they have chosen self, and they have chosen idolatry. We reap the result of our choices. They were warned over and over again, but they paid no attention. It’s not God’s fault.

Doom of Babylon, cont.

Isaiah 47: 3-4.

Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.

As for our Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel.

Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms.

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Again, nakedness is a mark of shame and humiliation. The last clause in verse 3 indicates that Babylon won’t be allowed to stop or oppose the Divine vengeance.

Verse 4, in the middle of the prediction of Babylon’s destruction, is a reminder that the Israelites had a Redeemer, but the Babylonians did not.

In verse 5, Babylon is pictured as sitting in the silence of darkness, in sorrow and humiliation instead of having the distinction of being “The lady of kingdoms.”  Sitting in darkness was a sign of mourning,

 

Israel’s Future

Isaiah 45 14-17.

14 Thus saith the Lord, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.

15 Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.

16 They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.

17 But Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.

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These promises speak of the Millennial Kingdom when Jesus reigns over the whole earth from Jerusalem.

Verse 14:  Sabeans and Ethiopians were men of extra height. Herodotus says that they were the tallest among men. Solinus affirms that they could be up to 12 feet tall!

The conversion of Egyptians, Ethiopians, and other nations is foretold in many scriptures (Is. 2:2-4; 19:19-22;  66’19-21; Ps. 67:4; 68:31; 72:10; Zech. 3:10; 8:23; 14:16-21).   During the Millenium, all mankind will confess that there is no other God but Israel’s God.

Verse 15: He is a God that hides many of His plans from man, though He is the Savior.

Verse 16:  Again, idol worship is condemned; makers of idols  and those who worship them will  experience shame and confusion.

Verse 17:  Israel’s salvation will come just as every other person’s comes:  through the Lord Jesus Christ.  It  will be an eternal salvation.  Israel’s history of turning aside to idols will be ended.  They will never again experience shame, nor will they be struck dumb with fear and confusion because of God’s judgment, for all eternity.

Idol Worship

Isaiah 42:17  They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods.

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Remember this story from the book of Exodus?  The people grew impatient waiting for Moses to come back down from the mountain, so they made  an idol to worship. When Moses  confronted them, they said, “Well, we just threw a bunch of gold into the fire, and out popped this golden calf!”  Reminds me of a little kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  His huge, innocent eyes and a shrug of the shoulders  would seem to imply he had no idea how his hand got there.

Moses was not impressed.  Neither is  Jehovah, LORD GOD of HOSTS, the Holy One of Israel impressed with all the myriads of gods that humanity has created  to their own specifications, to be worshiped according to the ideas of man.

Such foolishness will cause great shame when Messiah establishes His kingdom.

Don’t forget that idols can be more than images of people or animals or trees or whatever.  They can also be idols of the heart:  Pride, vanity, anger, jealousy, lust–that list is endless.  Anything we love more than we love God is an idol.

No Alliance

Isaiah 30:3-5. “Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion. For his princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes. They were all ashamed of a people that could not profit them, nor be an help nor profit, but a shame, and also a reproach.”

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The results of Judah’s false trust in man would be shame, confusion, lack of profitable relationship, reproach, vain hopes, purposeless.  Egypt had no interest in helping Judah. They certainly did not want to be considered Judah’s ally when enemy troops came thundering through the land.  They were ashamed at the possibility of being allied with a people who could be no profit to them, and would only bring them reproach.

When we turn our backs on God, we tend to think we’ll be accepted by the world. Usually, just the opposite is true. Even godless people have no respect for those who desert the God they say they serve.

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.

 

 

No Escape

Isaiah 13:7-8. “Therefore shall alll hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt: And they shall be afraid; pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another: their faces shall be as flames.”

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The judgment of God is nothing to be shrugged at. It will be terrible. There will be great fear, such fear that people will experience pain similar to that of a woman in childbirth.  Their faces will be red with shame as their sin is dealt with. There will be no escape.

Flies, Bees, and a Razor

Isaiah 7: 18-20. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes. In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard.”

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Lots of metaphors in this passage, and very interesting ones. Egypt, a confederate of Assyria, is called “the bee,” and Assyria is “the fly.”  I’m going to quote  you a note from my Dake’s Study Bible:

The invading Assyrian and Egyptian armies are compared to flies and bees in number, and the trouble, and destruction that such creatures cause. The fly referred to here is the dog-fly, which is a little larger than the bee. The head is big, the upper jaw is sharp and has a pointed hair about 1/4 inch long attached to it. The lower jaw has two such hairs and when joined together they are as strong as a hog’s bristle. Flies of this kind are a deadly plague in certain places and when their buzzing is heard cattle run wildly about suffering from fatigue, fright, and hunger. Even elephants, camels and other animals cannot withstand the terror of these creatures which puncture the skin with their pointed proboscis, causing the body to swell and break out with sores, and the beast to die. Bees are also troublesome creatures. The land spoken of as being filled with flies and bees illustrates the multitudes of foreigners who would destroy Judah. In the same day–when Judah would be invaded and the land destroyed by the armies of Assyria and Egypt the destruction would be as clean as a man shaving with a razor.  The Assyrian king is compared to a razor that is hired, referring to Ahaz hiring him to help destroy Syria and Ephraim. After this he turned on Judah and became a bigger scourge than the others would have been.

It is also important to understand that nothing was more shameful for a Jewish man than  to be shaved of his beard, indicating the removal of kingly authority, national independence and the priesthood. This shaving would be complete, including the head and even the hair of the feet. Complete shame, complete destruction.

Say Nothing!

Ephesians 5:12. “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.”

Please don’t think I’m making light of the scripture.  I used this picture because it’s exactly how I feel when something I shouldn’t say seems to come sliding right out of my face.  Conversation provides so many opportunities to sin!

We may feel we’re doing okay because we don’t do all the evil things that people who do not walk with God are prone to do.  This verse warns us that we need to be careful not to even mention the evil that takes place under cover of darkness–and these days, a lot of that evil is right out in plain sight.

The strength of a Christian is in his separation from the world and his devotion to Christ.  For many believers, what comes out of our mouths can destroy our testimony in a hearbeat. The tongue is an unruly muscle, and one that we exercise far too often.

Yesterday I made reference to the stories I hear in my work. I pray that God will protect me from thinking about those stories, and that He will put a guard on my mouth so that I don’t repeat them.  I will share something that is funny, or that is applicable to all of us; however, I never speak of that which is evil.  Better to let those things die in my own brain than to share them and infect others with evil thoughts.

I’m learning, always learning, that it’s often wise to just shut up.

Faint Not

Ephesians 3:13. “Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.”nasb_ephesians_3-13

 

Another translations says, “Do not be disgraced by my sufferings for you.” We need to remember that Ephesians is one of the “prison epistles,” written while Paul was incarcerated because of his fearless preaching and his outspoken defense of the gospel.

One thinks of Saeed Abedini, who was recently released from a three-year incarceration.  I watched the video that has been on Facebook, observing the difficulty he seemed to have in coming down the steps from the airplane to meet his parents here in the States. He would have said the same thing.  It is not a shameful thing to be persecuted for Christ. It is not a shameful thing to be identified with someone who is being persecuted.  Rather, we should glory in knowing that God was there during the whole ordeal. and the cause of Christ is alive and well today just as it was in Paul’s day.

It will never be defeated.