Jesus alone is our True North and we must learn to call upon His name!
2 Chronicles 7:14
New King James Version
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Father Abraham is the father of our faith:
The apostle Paul said “that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.” (Gal. 3:7).
We are the children of Abraham, because we have the same quality of faith that Abraham had.
Abraham believed that God was able to fulfill His promises, vows, and oaths, and so his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness (Romans 4:21, 22).
We too understand His promises, and we believe that God is able.
Our faith is in His ability to fulfill His vows, not merely in His ability to help us fulfill our vows to Him.
As children of Abraham, our overall calling is to bless all nations (Genesis 12:3).
The true interpretation of this is found in Acts 3:25-26…
25 It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham,
“And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
26 For you first, God raised up His Servant [Jesus] and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.
Biblically speaking, then, to bless means to turn people from their wicked ways.
When we ask God to bless someone, it does not mean that we ask God to condone their wicked ways.
Rather, we ask God to cause them to repent.
We have faith that He is able to do this, because He has promised to fill the whole earth with His glory.
That cannot happen apart from turning everyone from their wicked ways.
Wickedness will not be glorified, nor will it endure forever.
Repentance precedes glory!
Isaiah received his calling as a prophet…
New Living Translation
Isaiah’s Cleansing and Call
1 It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.
2 Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.
3 They were calling out to each other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
The whole earth is filled with his glory!”
4 Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.
5 Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.
7 He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
8 Then I heard the Lord asking,
“Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
9 And he said,
“Yes, go, and say to this people,
‘Listen carefully, but do not understand.
Watch closely, but learn nothing.’
10 Harden the hearts of these people.
Plug their ears and shut their eyes.
That way, they will not see with their eyes,
nor hear with their ears,
nor understand with their hearts
and turn to me for healing.”
In verse 8b, Isaiah responds to God’s request:
“Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah’s calling as a prophet started at a time of great political unrest.
An imminent threat of invasion looms over the nation of Israel as the Assyrian army overtakes one nation at a time.
National leaders scrambled for political and military solutions, yet God has consistently pointed out the real cause of their problems: the spiritual decay of the nation.
God had revealed to Isaiah that He was behind all the political turmoil in the region.
And that it was at God’s direction that the feared Assyrian army had been summoned to punish the nation of Israel.
Why was God determined to bring judgment on His own people?
Israel was committing rebellion against God by its idolatrous practices, social inequality, injustice, corruption, and neglect of the poor, the fatherless, and the widows.
As a result, the LORD refused to accept their offerings.
He would not even acknowledge their prayers.
The LORD declared, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood!” (Isaiah 1:15)
History tells us that whenever God turns His face away from His people, judgment and punishment is sure to come!
The idea that God judges and punishes people and nations, has long been set aside by modern-day preachers as if these were heretical teachings.
Our age is easily reviled by the idea of divine judgment and finds this theme “politically incorrect,” when portraying the Christian God.
The problem with Christians today is in the way we read the Bible. We love to “cherry-pick” only the portions that we like and leave the rest of the truth behind.
And from those portions of Scripture we’ve collected, we paint a caricature of God that is more consistent with what we like than it is with the Bible.
In Isaiah chapter 21, God is speaking of the Judgment on Babylon, Dumah (Edom) and Arabia:
There are three oracles in chapter 21 that bring bad news for Babylon, Edom, and Arabia.
The Wilderness of the Sea is Babylon, perhaps that portion of Babylon adjacent to the Persian Gulf.
Destruction will roar upon it like whirlwinds … from the desert.
Because it still plunders and despoils, it will be laid low by the Persians (Elam) and the Medes (Media).
No more will Babylon cause others, like the Jewish captives, to groan.
The vision is so terrible that it causes Isaiah acute anguish.
While the rulers feast and carouse in supposed security, suddenly the call to arms rings out (“Anoint the shield!”).
The reference, of course, is to Belshazzar’s Feast (Dan. 5).
The Lord instructs Isaiah to appoint a watchman to describe the attacking hordes, especially the numberless cavalry units.
After waiting for days and nights, he reports the advance of riders in pairs.
This may suggest the Medes and the Persians.
Then, with a lion-like roar, he announces the fall of Babylon and of her idolatrous religion.
The announcement is a message of comfort to Israel, a nation that has been threshed and winnowed by Babylon.
It is good to remember that this prophecy was made about two hundred years before Babylon’s fall.
We too can be watchmen for God’s kingdom:
The watchman is one who stands in God’s counsels, knows what is coming and looks out for the event.
So now, he who learns from the completed Scriptures what God has foretold, discerning His purposes, not by speculative interpretation, but by comparing Scripture with Scripture, and accepting what is therein made plain, is able to warn and exhort others.
He stands upon the watch-tower (verse 7) in fellowship with God.
Judgment on Dumah (Edom) (21:11, 12)
Dumah is Idumea, or Edom. An anxious Edomite asks the watchman how far gone the night is, that is, if the Assyrian menace is almost over.
The answer is: The night of your present turmoil will end, and a new day will follow, but soon another night will come.
If you seek a comforting answer to your anxious inquiries, you must first “return,” a word which also means “REPENT.”
Only then will the answer be such as you hoped for; the night of your suffering will end, and a new bright morning of deliverance will dawn upon you.
Judgment on Arabia (21:13–17)
There is trouble ahead for Arabia, too.
The caravans will hide (lodge) in the forest from the Assyrian army, and those who escape from the carnage will suffer intense hunger and thirst.
The LORD has decreed that Arabia’s glory will fail in a year, and only a few of her famous warriors will survive.
The expression “the year of a hired man” means not one day longer than a year.
The message here is that God always has the last word, and God’s judgment day will ultimately bring defeat and destruction to every military power that misuses their strength to decimate and humiliate other peoples.
Isaiah reminded Israel not to make alliances with pagan nations.
If the people sought God, His strength would be adequate to protect them.
God promised to punish each neighboring country for their arrogance, rebellion, and immorality.
God expects His people as a group to stand up for truth.
God’s TRUTH (Who is Jesus – see John 14:6) never wavers.
We’ve learned to season our words with salt, because we eat them so often.
Our opinions change like Rodeo Drive fashion trends.
Weren’t your convictions about child rearing stronger before you had kids?
Do you know any Republicans who used to be Democrats and vice versa?
Our convictions tend to change.
It’s good to know that God never changes, but that He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
His view of right and wrong is the same with you and me, as it was with Adam and Eve.
“The word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
“Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. . . . All Your commandments are truth. . . . You have founded them forever” (Psalm 119:89, 151, 152).
Your outlook may change. My convictions may sway, but “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).
And since it can’t, since His truth will not waver, God’s ways will never alter.
He will always hate sin and love sinners, despise the proud and exalt the humble.
He will always convict the evildoer and comfort the heavy-hearted.
He never changes direction midstream, recalibrates the course midway home, or amends the heavenly Constitution.
God will always be the same.
(From It’s Not About Me by Max Lucado)
Monday, April 25
Be a Watchman
“Put a watchman on the city wall […] ‘Day after day I have stood on the watchtower, my lord. Night after night I have remained at my post. Now at last – look! Here comes a man in a chariot!'”
— Isaiah 21:6-9
The watchman performed critical functions for cities in biblical times.
In those days before electronics, people needed to rely on their natural senses and be good observers with discernment.
These watchmen were to be always on guard and alert, always at their post, always looking out for potential danger.
They observed everything around them, always ready to warn people of any threat.
Their function was important for the safety of towns and even nations.
They also played a spiritual role by warning of beliefs that could weaken their resolve and poison their faith.
They were alert to ideas that could creep into minds and hearts.
Our families and churches still need watchmen.
The Bible warns that we face a dangerous enemy who can appear as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), but whose goal is to kill and destroy (John 10:10).
We are in a spiritual war. As believers, we are called to be spiritual watchmen, constantly on guard.
We are to be people of prayer, filled with the Spirit, sensitive to the Spirit.
Are you being a watchman? Are you at your post “day after day” and “night after night”?
Or are you taking your safety for granted?
You need to be on guard. Seek God in dedicated prayer.
Ask Him about your role. Listen to His Spirit.
If you are sensitive to Him, He will help you be a watchman for your family and your church.
Father, help me to be a watchman, sensitive to attacks.
Show me how I can warn others and be ready myself. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Come join the Adventure!