Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide!

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  Revelation 6:1-17

SINNER MAN –

I first heard this song on the car radio the year after my wife and I were married, in 1965.  I was struck by the question in the lyric, “Sinner Man, Where You Gonna Run To?”  I discovered later that the song originated from an African American spiritual song that had been recorded by a number of performers (Bob Marley, Peter, Paul and Mary, Les Baxter and more).

The lyrics go on telling the story with…He [the sinner man] runs to the rock, to the sea, to the Lord and ultimately to Satan because he comes face to face with the wrath of God and he’s so frightened he’s looking for ANY way to avoid God’s anger.  But there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide because he had rejected God for so long there was no longer hope.

I thought to myself, now where would the writer for this old spiritual song get his idea?

Right here in Revelation 6.

That’s pretty scary stuff!

These SINNERS are running from God.  They’re RUNNING from the wrath of the Lamb.

In my reading of John’s words here, something just didn’t seem to correlate with my knowledge of the bible.  John 3:16 tells us that “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

And Jesus spent His time among the tax collectors, and the prostitutes and the SINNERS.

Over and over again we read throughout the New Testament hearing the message repeated and it all seems to be summed up in 2 Peter 3:9.  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to yo repentance.”

BUT in our passage in Revelation Chapter 6, we have sinners running from the Wrath of the Lamb.  They are running from the wrath of the very One who died for them.  What’s going on here?

After re-reading and meditating on the previous verses in the chapter, the answer is found in verses 9 thru 10:

I see two things in play here.  1st – the scene here shows God’s vengeance on mankind.  As Hebrews 10:30 tells us and we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”

The major focus in Revelation 6 is GOD’S JUDGMENT on those who’ve persecuted and slain His people in the name of His Son Jesus.

Jesus, while on this earth, told us what was going to happen when He said “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.” (Luke 6:22).

AND Luke 21:17 – “And you will be hated (despised) by everyone because [you bear] My name and for its sake.”  [AMP]

John wrote in 1 John 3:13 – “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.”

DID IT HAPPEN?

Yes!  Within the first 3 years of the EARLY church’s existence.

  • The Apostle James was executed.
  • Peter was thrown into prison.
  • Philip was stoned to death.
  • And a man named Saul had Christians arrested, jailed, beaten and even killed.

And that was just the beginning.

Down through the ages Christians have been murdered and tortured for their FAITH.

In my research, for this study, I came across some statistics that shocked me. [See Footnote [i].]

Every month…

  • 255 Christians are killed.
  • 104 are abducted.
  • 180 Christian women are raped, sexually assaulted or forced into marriage.
  • 60 churches are attacked.
  • 160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned.

And this isn’t a new situation for BELIEVERS.  Christians have been suffering and dying for their FAITH for centuries!

And Jesus’ Revelation to John is telling us that God knew this would happen and it made Him angry.

And He was so angry that He said:  “Vengence is Mine”.

You REALLY don’t want to be on the receiving end of that kind of anger.

Paul wrote:  “God is just:  He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you”  (2 Thessalonians 1:6).

I literally feel sorry for the people who try to harm God’s people because I know the truth of Revelation 6.  You don’t mess with God’s people!

Hebrews 10:31tells us “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

So the 1st thing I see in Revelation 6 is THIS:

  • God will bring JUDGMENT on those who hurt His people.

But there is something else here that I almost missed:

God’s JUDGMENT isn’t just about VENGEANCE, it’s ALSO about reaching out to the lost!

In the Youtube video presentation at the beginning of this Blog, listen to this verse:

RUN TO THE LORD

“Lord, won’t you hide me?”

RUN TO THE LORD

“Lord, won’t you hide me?”

RUN TO THE LORD.

“Lord, won’t you hide me?”

“And the Lord said ‘sinner man’ – you shoulda been prayin.”

Do you know what this verse is saying?

It’s saying, it’s too late Sinner Man…you shoulda been a prayin!  BUT you didn’t, so don’t bother me.  You’ve messed up big time and now there’s no hope.

I have a real problem with that thinking.

Isaiah 55:7 – “Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.  Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

As Long as the wicked are willing to REPENT…God will forgive. 

That’s the MESSAGE throughout Scripture.

Hebrews 9:27 tells us “And just as it is appointed for [all] men once to die, and after that the [certain] judgment”  [AMP].

But these guys (in Revelation 6) aren’t dead yet!  Until they die they still have the opportunity to REPENT.

And besides, it doesn’t say that the “Sinners” were appealing to God.  These folks weren’t running TO Jesus…they were running AWAY from Him.

Revelation 6:15-16 says they “hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains”

These folks aren’t appealing to God to hide them, they “called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne’.” 

They were calling on the rocks and Mountains to fall on them and protect them.

I remember growing up in a home where the punishment my folks dealt out to my brother and I definitely got our attention.  So much so, that even a slight look of dissatisfaction was all that was needed.

And there are times in Scripture where God disciplined entire nations in order to get their attention to REPENT–“turn from their wicked ways”  (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Psalm 32:4, we see David speaking about how God dealt with him after he had sinned with Bathsheba.  He wrote: “For day and night Your hand [of displeasure] was heavy upon me…”  (AMP).

It was a repeated theme throughout the Old Testament.  God would slap the people in order to wake them UP!

And God hasn’t changed.  He’s still working on sinners NOW as He did back then.

One of my favorite bible verses is where Jesus says:

What does Jesus mean when He says the Holy Spirit (“the Helper”) will CONVICT?

It means that someone has been convicted of their GUILT.

It means to make a person FEEL their Guilt.

AND that’s the Spirit’s job–to CONVICT people of their SIN.

CONVINCE them of the need of RIGHTEOUSNESS and remind them of the coming judgment.

Now, how’s the Holy Spirit going to do that?

As my mother would try to explain when I was a child:  “That small voice inside of you will make you very uncomfortable, Mel, when you are doing something you shouldn’t.”

Being AWARE…

Being aware of what the Spirit of the Lord is trying to get your attention for.

Be open to receiving His correction and what He is showing you that you need to REPENT of and change direction in your life.

The word REPENT means to turn in the direction you were headed; change the way we did something or the direction we are thinking of proceeding.  [See Footnote [i].]

Remember always, the Holy Spirit is CONVICTING and NOT CONDEMNING us! 

That’s what the enemy does.

HOLY SPIRIT is NOT going to badger or nag us about the same thing.  He is going to show us the MISTAKE–laying it on our hearts to REPENT and ask for forgiveness and then… He is going to expect us to move on.  He will keep on until we do something about it!  That’s not “nagging,” that’s the Father’s LOVE for us.

In reflection and asking myself the question. who do I know, or don’t know today who are living in the ‘spiritual caves’ right now while shaking their fists at God?

Should I be praying that the Holy Spirit might CONVICT them to REPENTANCE?

QUESTION:  “But aren’t these people really God’s enemies and if they are God’s enemies, they have to be mine too? And shouldn’t God’s enemies be put in place–PUNISHED?”

MY ENEMIES–GOD’S ENEMIES deserve to be punished!!

Well, here’s the deal.

If I rejoice when my enemy falls, I prove I’ve missed something.

You see, Jesus came to die for SINNERS.  Now–are my enemies…SINNERS?

Yeah!  I’m pretty sure that’s part of the reason they’re my enemies.

There’s an interesting passage of Scripture from Proverbs 24:17-18 (AMP).

[17] Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles or is overthrown.  [18] Lest the Lord see it and it be evil in His eyes and displease Him, and He turns away His wrath from him [to expend Thit upon you, the worse offender].

There’s a hint given in the verses at the fact that your ENEMY is being punished for a reason.

THE REASON is this:

God is punishing your enemy so that you can show them GRACE.  You see God punishes your enemies so that you can come into their lives and show them God’s LOVE for them which lends to REPENTANCE.

You and I need to be constantly reminded by God’s Spirit that we were not SAVED so we could be pampered.

We were SAVED because we were going to HELL!

We were SAVED because we didn’t stand a chance without God’s MERCY!

It’s not that God doesn’t want you to have a better life than you’d have if you didn’t become a Christian; it’s just that God has SAVED us to become something more than just self-centered and self-serving individuals.

GOD SAVED you and I–and enlisted us to be His Ambassadors (His missionaries) to a lost world.            (2 Corinthians 6:20)

Now here’s the deal–you may be thinking that you are not qualified–not important enough to become a missionary–an ambassador.  But if you are willing to go to the “sinner man” during their struggles and SHARE with them the LOVE of God and HOPE of His forgiveness…then you have a chance to change the world!

Are you willing to take a chance?

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i] :  Statistics –  https://www.opendoorusa.org/christian-persecution/

Credit:  Charisma News – Discerning the Difference…Between Holy Spirit Conviction and Demonic Condemnation.

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  The New International Version (NIV), or elsewhere noted in the text.

Media:  Sinner Man by the Seekers, 1965.  Courtesy of YouTube. 

 

Divinely Supplied, Humanly Gathered

Scripture Study – Revelation 2:12-17 “The Church in Pergamum”

PERGAMOS –

Pergamum is located about 100 miles north of Ephesus with Smyrna located halfway between.  It still survives today as the Turkish city of Bergama.

Pergamos was considered Asia’s greatest city.  By the time the Apostle John received the revelation and wrote this section of the book, Pergamos had been the region’s capital for about 250 years.

Pergamos was an important center of culture and learning.  The city considered themselves as “the defender of Greek culture” in all of Asia Minor.

The city was also considered an important center of worship.  Four of the main deities of the Greco-Roman world had temples dedicated to Athena, Asklepios, Dionysos, and Zeus were located there.

But overshadowing the worship of all these deities of Pergamos’ devotion was the cult of emperor worship.  Christians of the day were in constant danger of harm from the emperor worship cult.  Elsewhere, Christians were primarily in danger of one particular day of the year where they were required to offer sacrifices to the emperor; in Pergamos, they were in danger every day.

The Church At Pergamos Was One That Lived and Served In The Shadow of Satan’s Headquarters.

Revelation 2:13 (a).

“I know where you live–a place where Satan sits enthroned.”

Notice the introduction Jesus used in introducing Himself to Pergamos as “the One Who has and wields the sharp two-edged sword”.

In ancient times, the highest symbol of authority was the sword.  It represented the greatest authority that people knew.  It represented absolute authority!

Jesus’ introduction leads one to believe that God wasn’t at all happy with the church at Pergamum.  So I found it quite interesting to what Jesus had to say to the Assembly.

The Church’s Dedication Observed (2:13)

Here was a church positioned on a hill, so to speak, that was in the shadow of Satan’s throne, and Jesus noted their dedication.  I can only imagine their struggle.

WOW!  How complacent we can get while sitting in church on Sunday’s feeling comfortable without obvious persecution by the community in the valleys of our culture constantly trying to blow out the candle.  “No LIGHT in shinning in that building!”

The headquarters of Satan is a strategic place best used by his influence.

Then Jesus goes on to say, “[Yet] you are clinging to and holding first to My name”.  That meant they had not denied the purpose for which Jesus came.  They had not turned their backs on the gospel.  And in spite of the difficult circumstances that surrounded them, the BELIEVERS at Pergamos courageously maintained their FAITH in Jesus Christ.

A Period of détente –

détente [a French word meaning release from tension] and a name given to a period of improved relations during the Cold War, between the United States and the Soviet Union that began tentatively in 1971.

Revelation 2:14-15

There was a problem in Pergamos.

It’s a problem that exists in our own backyards today as well, perhaps more strongly than ever in history.

Notice the church’s détente–détente meaning an easing of friction between two groups.  It means compromising so as not to muddy the waters.

The church was faithful; it believed in Jesus.  It was a strong church, an Orthodox church.

They had not denied His faith, BUT…they were tolerating false views.  They tolerated what should have been expelled from the church.  Don’t get me wrong here.  The church didn’t hold onto false doctrines.  It was a proper, orthodox, fundamental church in the city.  There are churches similar in communities today.  Perhaps you belong to a “fundamental” church like Pergamum. But the assembly in Pergamos held fellowship with those views ignoring the Truth laid down by Jesus.  That was the thing Jesus attacked.

What has this assembly of believers allowed in their fellowship?

First, they allowed the doctrine of Balaam.

Balaam was called by a king to curse Israel in Numbers 22-23. 

Balaam didn’t try to change the theology or to curse the nation.  He just encouraged them to COMPROMISE the purposes of God.  He polluted the people socially and spiritually.

THE END RESULT (vs. 14), A “stumbling block” before the children of Israel, resulting in the eating of things sacrificed to idols and committing immorality.

They taught that ORTHODOXY gave license to SIN.

What does the word, “Orthodox” mean in this context?  It means “conventional Christian beliefs” or “traditional beliefs and customs of the early church that Jesus had established”.  [See footnote [i].]

The church at Pergamum ‘new age’ thinking was “Believe in the right things, church, and you can do anything you want to do!”

I once had a pastor who rationalized celebrating Halloween activities in the church parking lot with this same reasoning, using 1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23 as his point of reference–“All things are lawful”; as a believer, we are free to do anything we please.”  He left out the rest of the verse:  “but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome…”  This isn’t to say that every Christian who uses this phrase “All things are lawful” has the wrong general idea.  But I think it’s fairly clear that this is an example of a legitimate intention from the wrong text, with wrong teaching. We don’t want to cause a wave with the world over issues like homosexuality or abortion so we will allow FALSE TEACHING to enter in and adjust our doctrine, keeping everyone happy and the attendance up.

Given Direction (vs. 16)

“Repent [then]!  Or else I will come to you quickly and fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”  [AMP]

NOTICE the direction Jesus gives to them, “REPENT!”

He’s not talking to the people who had the doctrine of Balaam.  He’s speaking to the CHURCH.  He was telling the church to repent.

As I pondered over Jesus’ words, I began trying to understand His words here on how the CHURCH could repent.  They weren’t guilty of believing those things.  Jesus essentially says to the church, exclude those people from fellowship.  Don’t give them false security.  They were wrong; they were destroying what the church believed, so the church should remove them.

Jesus was saying to the church to exercise discipline, people!

Do we realize the danger of someone who rebels, fights against the things of God?  The danger of someone in the midst of the fellowship who stands for that which contradicts the doctrine and gospel of Jesus?

Jesus said, you as a church better REPENT and ACT on this matter, or I will come and work against them.  Basically, you take care of them, or I will take care of them!

DELIGHT (vs. 17) –

Revelation 2:17 (The Message Bible)

“Are your ears awake?  Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blows through the churches.  I’ll give the sacred manna to every conqueror; I’ll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name, your secret new name.”

The hidden or sacred manna typifies the spiritual food provided by God in His Word.  Jesus is talking about individual feeding, not a church function.

The manna is something that you receive daily already in life.  It corresponds to your hidden life.  A place inside where no one knows what’s going on except for you and God.  It’s where you are tempted to impure thought, to pride, to lying, etc.  It’s where you fight and overcome those temptations.

The sacred (hidden) manna, is the help you get when you pray for it in those times.  It’s the nourishment you receive, by the power from heaven. It’s given to everyone who asks for it, everyone with a longing to be free from sin.

The hidden manna gives vitality and life.

But like the Israelites in the wilderness, God provided the MANNA for sustaining the daily physical life, but the people had to go out and gather it in daily.

Manna was divinely supplied but had to be humanly gathered.  

God gave it, but the people had to gather it!  God will not spoon feed you!!

 The “White Stone” (“clear stone”) and the “New Name” meaning: [See footnote [ii] ]

  • The WHITENESS represents the PURITY and the HOLINESS of God.
  • The NEW NAME represents the name that a BELIEVER (“overcomer”) receives one day in Christ.

Sometimes a white stone was given to a person after a trial.  The STONE symbolized NOT GUILTY,

Sometimes after a battle, the VICTOR (“conqueror”) was given a white stone representing total victory.

Sometimes a stone was given to an individual signifying CITIZENSHIP.

When we apply that to our Christian faith, it forms a beautiful picture.

But the Scripture is very clear here that the CHURCH must not tolerate those who lower the STANDARDS of the Truth.

It’s not a question of holding the TRUTH; Pergamos did that.

As a Church, we too face the same choice that Pergamos faced.

We can repent and receive ALL of God’s blessings, or, we can refuse to perform a spiritual self-examination and face the terrifying reality of having the Lord Jesus Christ declare war on us.

We need to remain to hold true to the Word of God and never compromising our position in Christ Jesus.

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CREDITS AND FOOTNOTES –

Credit:  ActiveChristianity – Hidden Manna, White Stone and a New Name – Revelation 2:17.

FOOTNOTES:  [i] The Christian Crier – “What Does Orthodox Mean?”; [ii] Word Detective’s White Stone, New Name blog – https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/a-name-change-at…heavenly-arrival/

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, settings advanced.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:  Amplified (AMP), New International Version (NIV), or where noted in the text.

 

 

 

 

Sizing Up the Real Estate Market – PART TWO

Sizing up the HOUSING MARKET

HAGGAI 2:6-9 (AMP) – THE GORY COMES!

[6] For thus says the LORD of hosts:  Yet once more, in a little while,  I will shake and make tremble the [starry] heavens, the earth, the sea, and the dry land;  [Heb. 12:26]

[7] And I will shake all nations and the desire and the precious things of all nations shall come in and I will fill this house with splendor, says the LORD of hosts.  [Isa. 60:5; Matt. 2:1-12]

[8] The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine, says the LORD of hosts.

[9] The latter glory of this house [with its successor, to which Jesus came] shall be greater than the former,  says the LORD of hosts; and in this place will I give peace and prosperity, says the LORD of hosts.

Our SERVICE will be better when we come with OUR PRIORITIES in order!

If the prioritized people will RISE UP…we ain’t seen nothing yet, folks!

PROVISION comes!

Right in the midst of famine FAVOR can fall.

PEACE comes!

In the midst of chaos, upheaval, and uncertainty.  We can be at REST!

While some argue over carpet color, music styles and whether to reach out or not, we can see God’s church packed from top to bottom and front to back  

IT IS HIS GLORY, not ours.

HAGGAI 2:18-22 – A SECURE FOUNDATION

[18] “From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought in the day when the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid.  Give careful thought;  [19] Is there yet any seed left in the barn?  Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not borne fruit. 

” ‘From this day on I will bless you.’ “

[20] The word of the LORD came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month;  [21] “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I will shake the heavens and the earth.  [22] I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms.  I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother.”

The day the foundation was secured their HARVEST changed!

BEFORE they had even planted a HARVEST was PROMISED!

BEFORE the first link in the chain was broken their BONDAGE was dealt with, on the DAY the FOUNDATION was built, VICTORY and DELIVERANCE were set in motion.

BEFORE the first punch was thrown or landed they found themselves in a fixed fight because of their RIGHT PRIORITIES!

I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of life I desire!

Let me throw open several questions:

  • Are you killing yourself trying to live BLESSED?
  • Are you seeking provision for you and your family?
  • Are you trying to secure your life?
  • Are you fitting battles that seem like you can’t win?
  • Are you working without God?

Matthew 16:26 (AMP):  “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]?  Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] life [in the kingdom of God]?”

Location, location, location

HEAR THE HOUSING REPORT AND RESPOND!

Either you and I need to change our priorities or the HOUSE will be in ruins and our PROVISION will be wasted.  We need to REPENT–change course–do an about-face.

Paying so much attention to your own house you have no regard or thought to His HOUSE!

Our PRIORITIES are messed up and the result is finding ourselves barren; our lives are meaningless and unblessed!  I believe that we’ve either forgotten or don’t really believe the words in Matthew 6:33 anymore!

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

When we get the ORDER right–the KINGDOM first–as His house flourishes our houses will spring to life once again!  REVIVAL has always been there if we know where to search!

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CREDITS

Photos:  Google Image Search

Bible Translations:  Nnew International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

 

 

 

“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.

The God Who Made the World Wants to be Known

THE TEXT:  Acts 17:24-31 (NIV). [24] “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  [25] And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.  [26] From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  [27] God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.  [28] For in Him we live and move and have our being.  As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’  [29] Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design or skill.  [30] In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent.  [31] For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed.  He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.” How Can GOD Become Known? 4183279204_f5cd4d9110His creation is but one way.  The starry universe, planet Earth, plant and animal life, birds and bees, the human body, the birth of a baby:  ALL OF THESE AND MORE…speak loudly and clearly that GOD exist and is the Great Creator! If it takes someone to build a simple dog house [The “Big Bang Theory” didn’t build it], then to look around you–to see the starry, starry nights, it couldn’t have just happened… not without a Creator GOD! But there are other ways GOD reveals Himself to mankind.  Someone said:  “It is illegal to read the Bible in the public schools of Illinois, but a law that requires the state to provide a Bible for every convict!” So don’t worry, kids, if you can’t read the Bible in school, you’ll be able to when you get to prison! We Believe in the Book! The Book I’m referring to is the BIBLE–the Word of God. GOD’s Word not only reveals who GOD is, but also motivates us to live for Him!  My studying, my detective work in Scripture daily, is what makes my day!  His Word, by the Holy Spirit, inspires me to write this blog: The WORD Detective.  It brings joy to my heart which in turn makes me want to SERVE the Lord.  I WONDER WHY? GOD is constantly revealing Himself through His creation, through His Word, and in all kinds of ways:  music, giving, kindness, all through people!  And He does this for one main purpose:  HE WANTS ALL PEOPLE TO BE SAVED IN JESUS! THE GOD WHO MADE THE WORLD NO LONGER OVERLOOKS IGNORANCE: “Such [former] ages of ignorance God, it is true, ignored and allowed to pass unnoticed; but now He charges all people everywhere to repent (to change their minds for the better and heartily to amend their ways, with abhorrence to their past sins).    Because He has fixed a day when He will judge the world righteously (justly) by a Man Whom He has destined and appointed for that task, and He has made this credible and given conviction and assurance and evidence to everyone by raising Him from the dead”  (Acts 17:30, 31 AMP). WOW!  Pick out some specific words in the verses as I did: “but now…all people everywhere”; “repent”; a “fixed day” ahead; Jesus will “judge righteously”; God has given and made plain for all to see, “credible evidence” and “conviction,” “assurance” because of the risen Savior.  See if you can see some words that might influence others. “We’re Not Stupid, you know”– My wife and I were visiting my mom in a rest home in Georgetown, Texas five years ago.  Mom had Alzheimer’s disease, and dad couldn’t take care of her the way he wanted.  We were waiting in the lobby for dad, to take him out for dinner, when my wife noticed there was a group of people playing Bingo in the dining hall.  She took a stance behind an elderly lady seated at a small table, when a number was called out:  “N-3, N-3”.  Dianne leaned over the lady’s shoulder and said softly,  “I believe you have that number on your card,”  pointing to the place on the Bingo Card.  The lady looked my wife right in the eye, and at that point, instead of saying “Thank you”, she loudly exclaimed,  “I’m not STUPID, you know!” Walter Heller, a leading American economist of the 1960s, an influential advisor to President Kennedy said one time: “While I was speaking to the Denver Independent Banker’s Association, one of the bankers suddenly hollered out, ‘You’re stupid!’  Well, that may be true, but you don’t like it publicly acknowledged.  Five minutes later, I tried to keep my composure when he said the same thing.  I noticed a slight slur in his voice.  So I was ready for him the third time when he said, ‘You’re stupid!’  I retorted, ‘Yes, and you’re drunk!’  He replied, ‘Yes, but tomorrow I will be sober and you will still be stupid.’ I believe that many Americans aren’t to bright.  How can a person living in America the Beautiful, not believe in JESUS– where there are so many churches and so much preaching of Christ on TV? There is a point, when God will no longer overlook ignorance.  It’s beyond me how anyone living in this country and most parts of the world, where anyone could say, “WHO’S JESUS?” Ignorance and Apathy–What is the difference?  I don’t know and I don’t care. Many people don’t know about JESUS and don’t care to know about JESUS.  BUT THERE IS A TIME WHEN GOD WILL NO LONGER OVERLOOK IGNORANCE AND INDIFFERENCE.  And I think, we’re living in that time! “NOW IS THE TIME!” Right now, in the communities we are living in, now is the time for people to believe in JESUS and become a follower of His.  A time for people to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” Are we GUILTY of not doing as JESUS tell us to do recorded in Scripture?  That is a rhetorical question.  We are ALL GUILTY.  It’s relatively easy to say, “I believe in Jesus,” but it could be a different matter when it comes down to the “doing it”; what we know He wants us to do. YES, It’s Time! It is time people quit playing IGNORANT.  I’m confident in saying that many people in America believe in JESUS but…they just don’t want to commit to Him in any form.  Probably because they’re having too much fun right now where they are in life.  They may fear, by making a public confession of faith in JESUS …the FUN MAY END!  But that’s when the real fun begins! THE GIVEN PROOF--(verse 31): “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he raised him from the dead”  (KJV). GOD’S WORK CONFIRMS HIS WORD:  What Word? In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. GOD CONFIRMS HIS WORD WITH ANOTHER PROOF:  What’s that?  Why are we here today? Further Evidence– It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that PROVES… the God who made the world we live in today.  One writer put it this way:  JESUS predicted His own resurrection; the Old Testament prophesied it; the tomb was empty; the grave-clothes were vacant; many people saw the resurrected Christ–looked on His face; touched Him, heard His voice, saw Him eat. The disciples lives were changed forever, as my life was changed forever when I became “born-gain” in 1972.  The RESURRECTION was the central message of the early church and still is today!. Men and women today are testifying to the risen power of Christ (or should be), that transformed their lives.  I love Old Hymns as some of you faithful readers of my blog know.  I use the lyrics of the music to illustrate a Biblical truth (you can add the tune in your own heads). Alfred Ackley wrote a song with a practical example of how God wants to be made known in the ‘right now!’:

He Lives

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today;

I know that He is living, whatever men may say;

I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,

And just the time I need Him  He’s always near.

He live, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!

He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.

He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know He lives?

He lives within my heart.

“Why is it thought incredible, by any of you, that God raises the dead?”  (Acts 26:8):

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If God, who made the world, who flung the stars into the sky, who made planet earth keeping everything together, He can make you and me...why should anyone think it’s incredible that He could raise JESUS from the dead?

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The GOD who made the world, does raise the dead; He raised JESUS and He will raise us from the dead while giving us eternal life through our faith.

The EMPTY Tomb
The EMPTY Tomb

BELIEVE IT… STAND ON IT…TRUST IT!

Believe  it with ALL your heart.

PREACH IT…TELL IT…LIVE IT!

IT’S TRUE!

The GOD who made this world wants to be made known.  He no longer overlooks our ignorance and has PROVED HIMSELF CONVINCINGLY.  Now is the time, if you haven’t already made the decision to follow Him.  For a time is coming…and then, it will be too late to repent.