“Do You Hear What I hear?”

THE “FOUR VOICES” OF ISAIAH REVEALED IN STUDY

Scripture Study:  ISAIAH 40:1-11

VOICE #1,  “Comfort God’s People” – (40:1, 2).

“COMFORT, COMFORT my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”  [New International Version, NIV].

God Loves to Comfort His People!

Follow along with how the apostle Paul refers to God in 2 Corinthians 1:3:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…(and here is the description) “the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [who is the Source] of every COMFORT.”

And this isn’t the only place in the bible where we find God described as a COMFORTER…

PSALM 23, the psalmist says of God the Good Shepherd,  “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

“As one whom his mother comforts, so will I COMFORT you; you should be COMFORTED in Jerusalem.”  (Isaiah 66:13)

So God does love to COMFORT His people.

And…He is a great source of comfort…BUT…God recognizes we need someone with skin on them too!

"Sometimes we need someone with skin on them"
“Sometimes we need someone with skin on them”

A Mother’s Words of Comfort (See Footnote [i]):

Dr. George W. Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas for 50 years, told a story of a young, unbelieving couple in a sermon.

The young couple, who had lost their baby, came to Dr. Truett, asking him to conduct the funeral, so he did.  He said later, he had such joy of seeing them both trust the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many months later, he said the young mother who had lost her child stepped forward, went to a young girl’s side and said, “I passed through this and I know what you’re passing through.  God called me, and through the darkness I came to Him.  He’s comforted me, and He’ll comfort you.”

God recognizes that just like that young girl in the story, sometimes we need someone in the FLESH to come and sit with us, hold our hand and listen to our heartache.

In the first verse of the text, God says,  “Comfort, Comfort My People…”

This command [“comfort” spoken in succession] is of God to comfort His people is directed not only to Isaiah, but to ALL of God’s prophets.

BUT before COMFORT can come…SIN was dealt with–that God calls His prophet to comfort.

The first 39 Chapters of Isaiah…

God doesn’t call Isaiah to “comfort” His people.  It’s only after “their” sin has been absolved that He can send the prophet Isaiah with words of COMFORT.

So in reading Chapters 40-66 of Isaiah, the words will show TRUE COMFORT consists (not in telling people what their ‘itchy’ ears want to hear), BUT in presenting the whole truth concerning their tragic condition.  AND…in causing them to SEE GOD as their only HOPE.

It is only when reality and ugliness of SIN raises its head that the announcement of DELIVERANCE can be made.

There’s A Prerequisite for COMFORT…

Apart from the Declaration of Judgment found in Chapters 1-39 of Isaiah, the WORDS OF COMFORT in 40-66 are without much point.

The prerequisite for comfort seen here in Isaiah is much the same as JESUS taught on the Sermon On The Mount–(Matthew Chapter 5).

He too talked about people being “comforted”–But before they could be comforted, JESUS SAID, they must be “poor in spirit” and acknowledge their absolute dependence upon God–and then they mustmourn” over their sin and hopeless condition…

“Blessed are those who mourn for they will be

COMFORTED”

VOICE #2 – “PREPARE THE WAY FOR THE LORD” – Isaiah 40:3-5

[3] “A voice of one who cries: Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord [clear away the obstacles]; make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God!  [4] Every valley shall be lifted and filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked and uneven shall be made straight and level, and the rough places made plain.  [5] And the glory (majesty and splendor) of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”

Pope Francis was visiting the USA this past week, and as I watch all the proceedings on TV, I thought what preparations must have been made ahead of time for his arrival.

Isaiah here, pictures the scene played out by the Royal Road Builders–smoothing the way for their King, working diligently, removing barriers and obstacles in order to make the King’s journey somewhat easier.

The PROPHECY…

Though all the prophets had a part in preparing the way for JESUS’ entry into the world–this PROPHECY ultimately was fulfilled in the person of John the Baptist.

Three of the Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke quote this verse from Isaiah and apply it to the Baptizer.

JOHN the Baptist Prepared the Way…

john-the-baptist2

John prepared the way by shouting out in the wilderness that the only way to get right with God–was to REPENT and be IMMERSED in baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

John also helped prepare the way by grooming some of JESUS’ first disciples – Peter, John, Andrew, and James.

Once John prepared the way–removed the obstacles–showed the futility of religious ritual–preached repentance–

Once John did this, then…the GLORY of the LORD was revealed.  John the Baptist prepared the way “FOR” (“I AM the way, the Truth, and the Light”)…

We still got some “PREPARING” to do today!

Is there now no more PREPARING for the Lord–since John the Baptist, clothed in camel’s-hair, eating wild locust, shouted in the wilderness?

In a way, YES.  But, in the way, NO.

YES, there is no preparing in the sense of preparing for the Lord’s earthly arrival.  JESUS has already come in the flesh.  John the Baptist prepared the way.

But in another sense, this PRINCIPLE still applies today.

The LORD still wants to REVEAL Himself in Glory to His church.  

But, before He can do this, there are OBSTACLES that must be removed; BARRIERS that must be torn down and ROUGH PLACES that must be made smooth again…So that JESUS can arrive and be EXALTED–LIFTED UP!

TODAY’S BARRIERS, OBSTACLES, AND ROUGH PLACES REVEALED: What has to be removed before the LORD’S GLORY shows up!

Making The Way Smooth…

Women labourers throw dust on a road tarmac under construction at Bharadva village in the western Indian state of Gujarat April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Amit Dave
Women labourers throw dust on a road tarmac under construction at Bharadva village in the western Indian state of Gujarat April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Amit Dave

What are we in the CHURCH lifting up rather than Christ Jesus?

We are lifting up…

  • Personal Sin,
  • Pride,
  • Prejudice,
  • Indifference,
  • Opinions,
  • Comfort,
  • Convenience,
  • Worldly Pleasures.

In a word, we are lifting up SELF.  If we want to see the Lord’s Glory revealed in His Church, we too must LISTEN to the voice of God and prepare the way…there is way too much talking and not enough listening to God’s Spirit.

We must make a straight path/raise valleys/lower mountains/level the rough ground and make the rugged places a Plain.

VOICE # 3  Is Crying, “Invest in the Eternal” – Isaiah 40:6-8:

[6]  “A voice says, Cry [prophesy]!  And I said, What shall I cry?  [The voice answered,  PROCLAIM:]  All flesh is as frail as grass, and all that makes attractive [its kindness, its goodwill, its mercy from God, its glory and comeliness, however good] is transitory, like the flower of the field.  [7] The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely [all] the people are like grass.  [8] The grass (a) withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

(a.)  The apostle Peter quotes this verse (1 Pet. 1:24-25) and then adds, “and this Word is the good news which was preached to you” –which confirms as fact that Isaiah is here referring to the times of Christ the Messiah, the Anointed One *** (Amplified Bible footnote, Page 1029.).

PETER then goes on to say,

“SO BE done with every trace of wickedness (depravity, malignity) and all deceit and insincerity (pretense, hypocrisy) and grudges (envy and jealousy) and slander and evil speaking of every kind.  Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation”  (1 Peter 2:1, 2).

Since God’s Word is ETERNAL and everything in this world is NOT–we should rid ourselves the things of the world and crave God’s Word.

Unfortunately, we find that many people more often than not are CRAVING the temporary…craving the things of this world (money, looks, physic, career, pleasure) with passion.

While they pursue God’s Word with casual indifference…“I’ll get God’s Word from my pastor on Sunday.”  God says INVEST in something that will last!

Making Foolish Investments In The Temporary, Ignoring the Eternal…

JESUS addressed this issue in a parableLuke 12:16-21:  “What good is it to gain the world, yet lose your very soul?”

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?  

DO YOU HEAR THE VOICES?

The VOICES are calling God’s people and they’ve been calling for centuries…

  • “Comfort, Comfort My people”
  • “Prepare the way for the Lord”
  • “Invest in the eternal”

And there is one more voice, and the VOICE IS CRYING out to us,

“GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN” – Isaiah 40:9-11:

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[9] You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain, You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”  [10] See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and His arm rules for Him. See, His reward is with Him and His recompense accompanies Him.  [11] He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those who have young  (NIV Bible).

The Announcement of the Presence of God Must Be Proclaimed Far and Wide…

GOD’S PEOPLE are not to be silent; keeping the Good News of the Lord’s arrival to themselves.  We are to go up on a mountain, but not just any mountain.

We are to go on a HIGH MOUNTAIN.  And we are not to just softly speak about the Lord’s presence, we are to SHOUT!  Lift up our VOICE…

We are not to be intimidated but rather to shout…  

Here’s your God!!!  He is powerful and mighty!!!  He is a God who rewards greatly!!!”

The VOICE compels us to “Go Tell It On The Mountain” –

Matthew 5:14-16:

[14] You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  [15] Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  [16] Let you light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.

ISAIAH began the second half of his ministry by hearing the VOICES OF GOD calling him to:

#1.  Comfort My people…

#2.  Prepare the way for the Lord…

#3.  Invest in the eternal…

#4.  Go tell it on the mountain.

And ISAIAH WAS FAITHFUL and answered those VOICES…

And the voices, are they still calling today?

Do you hear the voices?

Will you respond to what you hear?

Or, will you ignore them?


Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i] – https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/comfort-someti…h-skin-on-them/

Photo Credits- Google Image Search & Photo Pin.

Bible Translation:  The AMPLIFIED BIBLE, except where noted in the text.

JESUS Is Calling AMERICA! (Year of JUBILEE-Part 2)

The Bell Is Ringing Again!

THE UNITED STATES, LIBERTY, AND THE SABBATH JUBILEE YEARS

The Liberty Bell, currently located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is an iconic symbol of American independence.

The first line cast into the bronze metal of the Liberty Bell is quoted from Leviticus 25:10 (King James version):

“PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT [ALL] THE LAND AND UNTO ALL INHABITANTS THEREOF”

On July 8th, 1776 the bell rang out to summon the people to hear the Declaration of Independence.

Unfortunately, the United States has not obeyed the Law of Jubilee. Some fifty-nine years later, in 1835 while the bell was being rung. it cracked.  Never to rung again.

THE HISTORY OF THE JEWS IN RELATION TO THE SABBATICAL AND JUBILEE YEARS

In Josephus’ book Antiquities (History) of the Jews, historical events are recorded during Sabbatical years.

Antiochus besieged Judas Maccabeus and the Jerusalem Temple during a Sabbatical Year.  The war between Ptolemy and Hyranus and taxes not paid to Caesar happened during the seventh year. Josephus states that Herod the Great’s plundering of the wealthy and the dead for silver and gold to give to Anthony, was during a Sabbatical Year.  In Whistan’s footnotes to Josephus, he says “the great famine and pestilence occurring during Herod the Great reign was worse than the famine of the day of Ahab”.

WHY DID ISRAEL GO INTO CAPTIVITY?

In Leviticus 26, the verses tell us plainly, that one of the reasons was Israel had not let the land rest. Also in Jeremiah 34:8-17, Israel reneged and didn’t free their Hebrew servants in the Year of Release. God would proclaim “liberty” to the cruel taskmasters; to the sword, pestilence, famine and captivity.  2 Chronicles 36:14-21 describes how Judah mocked God’s prophets and so were carried away to Babylon, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths. The land of Israel rested seventy years before the Jews returned from captivity.

PROPHECY IS LIKE AN ONION

When we read through the Old Testament, often the prophecy has already been fulfilled. But not all things have come to past yet. There is still more to be revealed in the last days.

“That which is now already has been, and that which is to be already has been; and God seeks that which has passed by [so that history repeats itself]” (Ecclesiastes 3:15).

“The thing that has been–it is what will be again, and that which has been done is that which will be done again; and there is nothing new under the son”  (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Although the Old testament Prophets saw God’s Word revealed to the people in their day, there were prophecies they knew were true and had faith in God’s words but never realized them; not manifested before them.  It was like peeling an onion one layer at a time.

WHEN WILL THE NEXT SABBATICAL AND JUBILEE YEARS OCCUR?

My detective work for answering the question was again found in William Whistan’s footnotes to Josephus’ Antiquities.  How accurate the dating is might be controversial but I am sticking with it to get your attention.

24 B.C. was a Sabbatical Year and 23 B.C. was a Jubilee Year.  This would mean that A.D. 27 was a Sabbatical Year and A.D. 28 was a Jubilee Year.  If this is true, then Sabbatical Years would occur in 2013, 2020, and 2027 (every seven years) with the next Jubilee Year in 2028.

JESUS IS CALLING THE CHURCH

Gallup Research Organization recently said,that 40% of all Americans, 118 million people say they attend worship services the previous week. THAT’S A LOT OF PEOPLE IN CHURCH!  But, Kirk Hadawe and Penny Marler found that only 20.4 % of the population actually attended. Their reasoning?  People simple lied about their attendance!

I discovered some interesting facts from the Schaeffer Institute by Dr. Richard Krejcir on church growth today:

“These Churches were marked with solid Bible teaching and treated each other and outsiders with good hospitality.”

— Churches that practiced 80% to 100% of the 44 grew 18.8 %

— Churches that practiced 60% to 79% of the 44 grew 10.2%

— Churches that practiced 50% to 59% of the 44 grew 3.8%

These Churches were marked with gossip and conflict and poor Bible teaching:

–Churches that practiced 10% to 29% of the 44 decreased 1.2%

–Churches that practiced less than 10% of the 44 decreased 17>6%

I need to point out from the study, even the highly successful churches; the rate of growth by converting new Christians was only up to an average of 5% to 10% of their increase.  Most people came from other churches [“church swappers”].  But in comparison, the lower stat churches had few to none in conversions.

JESUS is calling America!

WHEN NATIONS OBSERVE GOD’S WORD

If a nation or groups of people observed the Sabbatical and Jubilee Years they would be tremendously BLESSED instead of CURSED;

1.  NO CRUSHING DEBT

2.  NO IMBALANCE OF THE VERY RICH AND THE VERY POOR

3.  LAND VALUES WOULD BE RELATIVELY STABLE

4.  INFLATIONS AND DEPRESSIONS WOULDN’T OCCUR

5.  THE LAW OF GOD WOULD BE TAUGHT IN DETAIL –every 7th year resulting in good government and prosperity.

If we Christian believers will observe the practices written in Leviticus 25, in the 7th year God promises us that we will dwell in the promised land.  God also says in Leviticus 25:20, 21:

“And if you say,  What shall we eat in the seventh year if we are not to sow or gather in our increase?    Then [this is My answer:] I will command My [special] blessings on you in the sixth year…”

According to Josephus book Antiquities (History) of the Jews, next year (2012) is the sixth year. A year of gathering in the “fruit of the land”.  A time for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the land.

In 1910 on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California, a black man by the name of William Seymour sat on a small platform with an empty box on his head. He said that he wouldn’t remove the box until God spoke to him.  Can you even imagine a man sitting with his head covered in church this next Sunday? 

He eventually removed the box from his shoulders an prophesied that in a 100 years, there would be an outpouring of God’s Spirit and His Shekinah Glory that will be greater and more for reading that what was experienced at Azusa.

Well, 2010 has come and left. Has Pastor’s Seymour’s prophesy shown up in our land?  Maybe, but the world is a large place and the church is hearing stories of the outpouring of Holy Spirit everywhere.  In Yoido Full Gospel Church, a Pentecostal church in Yeoiudo in Seoul South Korea, they had 1,000,000 people on the membership roles (2007).  In 2010, their membership dropped to 780,000 members. What happened? The Pastor, Young Hoon Lee said it has been good for the church to reduce its membership by over 300,000 people. They now have 20 Satellite congregations and more than 1000 new converts are being added to the church…EVERY MONTH! 

In 1975, John W. Peterson and Don Wyrtzen wrote a cantata called “I Love America”.  The Church Choir that I was singing in at the time decided to perform the music at Organ Power Pizza for the 200th anniversary of America in July 1976.  In the cantata, was a song called “Jesus Is Calling America” which was appropriate then and at anytime. And since we as a country, on September 27-28, 2012 will enter the 6th year in the Sabbatical Year at Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), I thought I would give you a few lines from the song; the ones I remembered.

Jesus Is Calling America” 

Jesus is calling America  Calling her back to the fold

Jesus is calling America  Calling the young and the old

Jesus is calling America  Back from her sinning ways

NOW IS THE TIME: “FOR SEED, TIME AND HARVEST”

If the sixth year, the year before the Sabbatical Year doesn’t begin until September 2012, can we start preparing now? Good question if that is your thought. And the answer is YES!  Now is the time of preparation.

PERSONAL PREPARATION:

1.  If you don’t have a freezer, NOW IS THE TIME to purchase one.  The size will be determined on the size of your family and the ages of the children.  When there is a meat sale, start freezing now.  Meat, berries, vegetables, cheeses, butter, etc.

2.  Do you have a pantry inside the house or one in the garage? Stock it with can staples and rice.  Beans, sardines, tuna, tomatoes, etc.  WARNING! Don’t become a ‘hoarder”. When the Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years, God provided Manna [manna bread like coriander seed, white, and it tasted like wafers made with honey–Exodus 16:15, 31].  God also provided meat in the evening, or quail for His children to eat. However, according to Scripture, each one was to gather the food provided;  “each, gathered according to his need” (Exodus 16:18). If they gathered too much bread and meat during the day, it would spoil.

3.  Water storage. Start filling clean 3-liter empty bottles with good filtered water.  Don’t wait for next year; NOW IS THE TIME to start.  Water is a neccessity of life. You can abstain from food for a time, but water…?

CHURCHES SHOULD PREPARE–NOW IS THE TIME

1.  If you don’t have a large closet or small room to store extra food for your community, NOW IS THE TIME!  Promote it to your membership in bringing in staples to the storehouse; have a list made and someone who will lead in the ‘gathering’.  Remember Joseph’s leading in Egypt in the Book of Genesis.

2.  Relationship building with non-believers. NOW IS THE TIME!  I once heard a story about a church who was going to have a one day women’s conference and luncheon. They were encouraged to invite an un-churched friend or non-believer to the meeting.  One lady voluntarily said, “I don’t know any women like that. I just have relationships with ladies in the church”.  Will your church be ready for the outpouring of the Spirit in 2012-2013?  JESUS IS CALLING AND HE IS CALLING YOU!  Don’t wait. Start building new relationships TODAY! Ask God to send you someone.