Judgment Begins Here

In chapter 3, Isaiah brings God’s judgment and charges against His covenant people in national Israel. In the same fashion for His New Covenant people, judgment begins within the household of God.

Note his charges – a common one of abusing the poor and weak within their community. Note His judgment – lack of order and chaos as the community is set up-side down. AS was Israel, so it is in the USA.

Isaiah 3:4-5 (HCSB) “I will make youths their leaders, and the unstable will govern them.” The people will oppress one another, man against man, neighbor against neighbor; the youth will act arrogantly toward the elder, and the worthless toward the honorable.”

Isaiah 3:8-9 (HCSB) “For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen because they have spoken and acted against the LORD, defying His glorious presence. The look on their faces testifies against them, and like Sodom, they flaunt their sin. They do not conceal it. Woe to them, for they have brought evil on themselves.”

See who is responsible for this judgment? Those who rebelled against YHWH, spoken and acted against Him. They flaunt their sin and brought evil upon themselves.  Whenever you see “gay pride,” ANTIFA riots, or celebration of murdering babies you see those who flaunt their sin and bring evil upon themselves.

Isaiah 3:13-15 (HCSB) “The LORD rises to argue the case and stands to judge the people. The LORD brings ⌊this⌋ charge against the elders and leaders of His people: “You have devastated the vineyard. The plunder from the poor is in your houses. Why do you crush My people and grind the faces of the poor?” ⌊This is⌋ the declaration of the Lord GOD of Hosts.”

Again, we see that there is no escape from God’s view, His judgment. Our charge is to proclaim the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and plead with the nation to restore order for the sake of the poor and weak. We must walk as children of the light and be consistent in pointing saint and reprobate to Christ.

That Great and Terrible Day

Isaiah chapter 2 is full of warning and rebuke, foretelling of that great and terrible day when Christ returns to judge the nations. National Israel is warned that their long record of rebellion against YHWH and friendship with the world will bring judgment. God has turned His back on them.

Isaiah 2:6 (HCSB) “For You have abandoned Your people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of ⌊divination⌋ from the East and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines. They are in league with foreigners.”

Here the prophet speaks of YHWH, how has abandoned the house of Jacob. They were in league with foreigners. Verses 7 & 8 describe these foreigners: rich, self-satisfied, idolaters. Verse 9 brings the first of three declarations that man will be brought low on that Day. Isaiah 2:9 (HCSB) “So humanity is brought low, and man is humbled. Do not forgive them!” There will be no forgiveness when the Lord makes His second advent (Heb 9:28).

Those who have not been reconciled to God will seek a hiding place: Isaiah 2:10 (HCSB) “Go into the rocks and hide in the dust from the terror of the LORD and from His majestic splendor.” But creation cannot hide creatures from the Creator!

Isaiah 2:11-12 (HCSB) “Human pride will be humbled, and the loftiness of men will be brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted on that day. For a day belonging to the LORD of Hosts is ⌊coming⌋ against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up—it will be humbled” The second time we read of humanity being brought low. For when the Lord of glory returns, ALL will kneel before Him, some in worship and adoration; others in terror beyond human description.

Verses 14-16 describe the symbols and signs of the worldly riches that will crumble on that Day. And then the third time of man’s undoing. Isaiah 2:17-18 (HCSB) “So human pride will be brought low, and the loftiness of men will be humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted on that day. The idols will vanish completely.”

Those who have been reconciled to God will seek a hiding place: Isaiah 2:19 (HCSB) “People will go into caves in the rocks and holes in the ground, away from the terror of the LORD and from His majestic splendor, when He rises to terrify the earth.” But creation cannot hide creatures from the Creator!

Isaiah 2:21 (HCSB) “They will go into the caves of the rocks and the crevices in the cliffs, away from the terror of the LORD and from His majestic splendor, when He rises to terrify the earth.” This verse and verse 10, above, ought to bring to your mind the scene in Revelation 6, when the sixth seal is opened:

Revelation 6:12-17 (HCSB) “Then I saw Him open the sixth seal. A violent earthquake occurred; the sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair; the entire moon became like blood; the stars of heaven fell to the earth as a fig tree drops its unripe figs when shaken by a high wind; the sky separated like a scroll being rolled up; and every mountain and island was moved from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the military commanders, the rich, the powerful, and every slave and free person hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of Their wrath has come! And who is able to stand?””

Carnal man will not willingly surrender to Christ on that Day, for the day of salvation has passed. He will return when the last spiritual stone has been mined from the earth and placed in the celestial city of New Jerusalem.

What is the bottom line? Isaiah 2:22 (HCSB) “Put no more trust in man, who has only the breath in his nostrils. What is he really worth?”

There is only One in whom we can find safety on that great and terrible day. Christ Jesus is a strong tower of refuge, and advocate for all who are in Him. If you hear His voice, do not harden your heart, for the day of salvation will not last forever. He is coming back. To judge the nations, gather His people, and make all things new.

One Man’s Walk with God

This is one of the most intriguing books I’ve read. Jeremy Strang has delivered a book written in a most engaging fashion: a first person devotional that reveals the heart of humble man looking to walk obediently. It is full of phrases that ring with God’s truth, as the man in the book talks to his Creator, asking for help in various areas of life. This book has three sections with twelve chapters that each delve into the depths of God’s redemptive work for His own, plus a bonus (Bits of Gold) at the end.

Chapter 1 is How shall I come to you?, which begins with: “Oh Lord my God, for how shall I come to You? You are O holy, righteous, just and good; apart from You I am not. And yet for your namesake, the love of the world, and for my life and eternal spirit, You have reckoned and accounted to me through Christ alone, His righteousness – giving unto me new life and joy unspeakable.” This sets the tone for the entire book: a man raised up to new life in Christ should never lose the awe of being reconciled to Holy God. The reason for God saving sinners is not primarily for the redemption of His chosen ones; it is that He would be glorified by His creation. What a privilege and joy to be a trophy of His saving grace! “Oh what amazing and unfathomable grace You have powerfully worked and effectually given me. This new heart is feeling and pliable, regenerated and justified, nothing short of miraculous, and this without any works of my own. Oh Your grace! How great is Your love that I should be called Your child?” Do you get a sense of how the author approaches this work – Scripture drenched words that reveal a heart that beats with gratitude for the Lamb Who gave His life for wretched sinners.

The second chapter describes our greatest need, recognizing man’s desperate condition. “Prior to having You as my treasured joy and everlasting prince of peace, I was ignorant and dead, grasping firm the lies of Satan and steeped in my own narcissistic and deceptive heart. I believed, as all fallen men are born to think, that my nature was not that bad and that in some way, in some strength, or by some religious duties, I could be found favorable to attain some form of grand abyss when I die – what damnable foolishness was this prison of thought.” So marvelous is the work of God in redemption, yet so easily allowed to become accustomed to our new state. To guard against this deplorable condition, we read, “Lord, I pray that I will never forget how You have powerfully redeemed my soul and have patiently worked in me these last years. Oh that I would show patience towards those who have yet to experience and understand such freeing grace and freedom found in absolutely knowing that salvation is a work completely of You. Hallelujah, for You have shown me the foothills of such wonderful glory – oh, for what could I ever bring to You as a gift that you would exchange in pardon for my depraved nature, or what can I add to the unsearchable riches of Christ? Absolutely, ten thousand times over, nothing! Lord, I also ask of You, never let me become lax or lazy, or sleepy and dull regarding the faith You have given me.” This last sentence needs to be our daily prayer, recognizing our need of His mercy.

Each chapter is like this, examining an aspect of the life of the saint, using Scripture as the only foundation for what is right, seeing the child of God gloriously new in Christ, yet fragile and weak in this age.

Section 3 is entitled, When in Fear – Look to Jesus. This is the answer to all the Christian’s dilemmas, for there is not one single trial we encounter where the answer lies elsewhere. “When I think of Your truth given to me, I cannot help but wonder why I allow fear to creep in and arise in my heart. When I really start to investigate my situation, the answer seems always to come back the same – my vision is gazing somewhere else. And how often I find that the majority of the time the fear is not due to some close line of death nor due to severe persecution chasing me down, but rather it is my eyes have wandered onto secondary things.”

When Jesus was crucified, all of His disciples were afraid and discouraged. When the women went to the tomb to perform their religious rituals, they found it empty and an angel of God told them He was not there. He told them to remember His words, for He had told them what would take place. His words – remember them, think on the One Who spoke them. He is trustworthy and His promises are sure. When your world is crumbling, look to Jesus. When everything is going your way, look to Jesus. Poverty and riches, illness and health; all and each can distract us from the One Who has to prepare a place for us.

“Praise You God that You are faithful and powerful to redirect my paths, grant me repentance yet again, and daily give me new mercies; You get sweeter and sweeter as You rekindle my desires to walk earnestly, humbly, and powerfully with a contrite heart, oh how wonderful Your salvation and how amazing Your grace! Yet, Lord, if I say that I love Your grace and long for Jesus, then shall I not also be changed in my thinking, in my response, in my private life and my inner and outer strivings? – Oh, my yes!”

Chapter 10 warns about Satan’s deceptive ways; chapter 11 reminds us our hope is in Christ when we walk in darkness, which begins, “Father, You have been so very good and patient towards me, so much more than anyone could ever know or imagine. You know my struggles, my battles, and my weaknesses, and yet You have such patience and such tender care. Oh, how great is Your love and faithfulness! You hear me Lord, for truly You are a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

He goes on, “I must seek You and know You more so that I would always, especially in times of trials and fears, make You my sure trust. My lack, oh Lord, is always and only because of me and not You; for You do not change but I am the one prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love. And when I feel a lack of sorts, a coldness or dryness of heart, or even a sort of deadness in my desires and emotions to set my face towards You – but You oh God! You again revive me demonstrating Your perfect love, divine grace and unfailing mercies. You answer my cry when I pray: “Help me and give me a desire, a clean desire, a desire to know You, to read Your word, to be godly and sanctified, to continue and to stand with You.” You are so very wonderful!”

The tender mercies of God towards His own sheep are new and never ending! As Strang reminds us, He is so very wonderful! How thankful I am that God stirred up this brother to write this book, full of truth about us and God, calling us to be faithful even as we recognize that faith as a gift from Him! And written in a style that ought to stir your soul as you consider how faithful Jesus is even when you and I are faithless.

“Lord, I never want to be tired of Your word; I never want to be too quick to pass by and move on; let me dwell here forever and ever as You know and see fit for me. There are just so many truths, so much help, so much victory and so much depth in Your word above. So when all ‘hell’ seems to be breaking out around me, help me Lord to remember, this is not the final hell that awaits the wicked, those who refuse to bow the knee, refuse to acknowledge You now and turn to You.”

Chapter 12 reminds us, “Lord please, I ask of You a thousand times over, and thus praise Your holy name, may I be marked by grace, bruised by love and matured in devotion, prayer and obedience. Lord grant this poor man that I might press in and on, and when Jesus comes, He will find in me a resolve in prayer and a faith persevering for Your glory. I am reminded today, and I cannot help but to agree, with what one preacher recently past often used to say: “The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world and make him holy, then put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.” Oh Lord, what an amazing miracle it is that Jesus Christ would shed His own blood for me.”

Saints – do you still see it as a miracle that Jesus reconciled you to God? Do you see a daily need to Him, by His Spirit, to continue to work in your soul while you travel about as a pilgrim seeking his homeland?

“Oh Lord, how true it is that I need You far above all else. You call me to obedience and to work out my salvation with fear and trembling, and although the duty, this being the responsibility to read, heed and obey Your word is mine, I know that all the power to do so is Yours. I know Lord, that should I become boastful in myself and sin, there is absolutely no way I could ever repent and truly obey apart from Jesus. So, I ask that you increase my singleness of eye, my knowledge and my desire to be attentive to my duties, and at the same time, increase Your conviction, Your strength and Your faith in me.” We are to be faithful stewards of what He’s given us, but even our faith is His – it’s alien to our nature to believe in the supernatural Creator and Lord of all.

Our brother finishes up with this: “Oh, that the secondaries and insignificant areas of my life would be put in their correct places, with all self-control and wisdom, so that You would be seen correctly as most magnificent above all else. Lord, to You be the glory, the power and the praise. Lord, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth? In me and all who read, may the answer be an astounding – YES!”

“’Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”

This is an easy to read and easy to understand book. It is not an easy book to accept and see the truth of our own lazy, sinful, ways. But the One Who called us is faithful – He will do it!

1 Thessalonians 5:23-28 (HCSB) Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. Brothers, pray for us also. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I charge you by the Lord that this letter be read to all the brothers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Is the Decalogue the rule of life for Christians?

The beloved Puritan, Thomas Watson, described the Decalogue as a golden chain hung around the necks of the saints, a rule of life for God’s children. And he called all who disagreed with him, antinomians.

One can search the Scriptures to see if YHWH describes these tablets in such terms, but that search will be in vain. He describes the Decalogue as the Tablets of Testimony of the Mosaic Covenant; as the ministry of death. His Word tells us the law was given to INCREASE sin.

Laws given to natural, carnal, unregenerate man are normally written against certain behaviors – do not murder, do not steal, etc. The Decalogue is MAINLY such law: do not make idols, do not worship idols, do not murder, do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not covet what ain’t yours.  8 of the 10 words on the Decalogue are against something. The two positive words command people to rest in their homes and to obey their parents. Which of these commands require faith in God to perform? None of them. They are fit for the unregenerate community (yes, there were some believers therein, but only a few) to which they were given.

What instructions are given to the saints? We read that we are to worship God in spirit and truth; love one another as Christ has loved us; bear one another’s burdens; be humble; weep and rejoice with one another; etc. Against these things, Paul said, there is no law. Such commands CANNOT be kept by those without the Holy Spirit. New Covenant, new priesthood, new law.

The Spirit’s law of Life has set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8). The Law of Moses could not bring about obedience because it was limited by the flesh. The Spirit of God brings obedience, willing and equipping us to do what is pleasing to Him.

Contrary to Andy Stanley’s view, we do not throw away or “unhinge” the Hebrew Scriptures. All of what was written is for our benefit (Romans 15, 1 Cor 10). Contrary to Thomas Watson’s view, the apostles declared it was contrary to the faith to require the saints to keep the Law of Moses (Acts 15).

I do not understand why so many people claim we must go back to the Mosaic Law to know what morality is, to live by it as rule for life. Paul had perfect opportunity to make it clear, if living by Mosaic Law was our charge:

Titus 2 gives qualifications for elders, encouragement for godly living to young men, exhortation to slaves to be faithful, and finishes with this:

Titus 2:11-15 (HCSB) For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works. Say these things, and encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Not a smidgen of Moses. It’s all grace. All the work of the Spirit in our lives. No written code of death that was given to an unregenerate community.

The right path is to fix our eyes on Christ, trust Him, seek wisdom to walk as Children of the light, and take care not to fall into the ditch on either side of the road.