Archive for November, 2010

Isaiah 1:24-26 God is Sovereign

Posted in Isaiah on November 22, 2010 by paulthepoke

Isaiah 1:24-26 Therefore, the sovereign Lord who commands armies, the powerful ruler of Israel, says this: “Ah, I will seek vengeance against my adversaries, I will take revenge against my enemies. I will attack you; I will purify your metal with flux.  I will remove all your slag. I will re-establish honest judges as in former times, wise advisers as in earlier days. Then you will be called, ‘The Just City, Faithful Town.’”

v. 24 The first phrase is very offensive. At issue is the idea of a sovereign God. Sovereignty is defined as the definitive ruler of the universe. Yes, this is saying that despite all of the billions of free wills on this planet, God is in charge. Sovereignty does not mean we have any choices. We do have choices. This same God created us with a free will to make our own choices. However, God is in absolute control in spite of all of us and our decisions. He is in charge of man (1 Samuel 2:6-8), nations (Habakkuk 1:6), history (Psalm 115:1-3), and Satan (Job 1:6-12).

The context of the passage is military in nature. All the military personnel in the world could agree to fight God (and they will as noted in Psalm 2 and Revelation 19:19-21) and they don’t stand a chance. This ruler is definitively in charge of the military and Israel. This is not a peace negotiation.  The Lord will comfort and console Himself by delivering a profound, vengeful defeat to His enemies. There are many examples of the decisive and bloody defeat that is coming. Two of these include Isaiah 63:3 “I have trodden the wine trough alone, And from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger And trampled them in My wrath; And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, And I stained all My raiment. Notice, He does not require any help. He does it all by Himself. Revelation 19:15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.

v. 25 The idiomatic language returns with the metals. The impurities of the flux and slag will be removed. The heat will be turned up and the bad stuff will be separated and removed from the good. The corrupt city officials will be replaced with honest judges and wise city leaders. Can you imagine a government entity with honesty and wisdom?

Notice that honesty and wisdom are equated with faith. So according to God’s Word, character does matter. This mindset is clearly at odds with today’s culture and politicians. We have politicians today who lecture us that character does not affect job performance and political decisions. I am not naming names, but understand that aspects of today’s culture are in direct opposition to what the Bible says.

Isaiah 1:21-31 Contrasts

Posted in Isaiah on November 14, 2010 by paulthepoke

Isaiah 1:21-31 How tragic that the once faithful city has become a prostitute! She was once a center of justice, fairness resided in her, but now only murderers. Your silver has become scum, your beer is diluted with water. Your officials are rebels, they associate with thieves. All of them love bribery, and look for payoffs. They do not take up the cause of the orphan, or defend the rights of the widow.

Therefore, the sovereign Lord who commands armies, the powerful ruler of Israel, says this: “Ah, I will seek vengeance against my adversaries, I will take revenge against my enemies. I will attack you; I will purify your metal with flux.  I will remove all your slag. I will re-establish honest judges as in former times, wise advisers as in earlier days. Then you will be called, ‘The Just City, Faithful Town.’”

Zion will be freed by justice, and her returnees by righteousness. Rebellious sinners will be shattered, those who abandon the Lord will perish. Indeed, they will be ashamed of the sacred trees you find so desirable; you will be embarrassed because of the sacred orchards where you choose to worship. For you will be like a tree whose leaves wither, like an orchard that is unwatered. The powerful will be like a thread of yarn, their deeds like a spark; both will burn together, and no one will put out the fire.

In Isaiah 1:21-31, the focus of the passage is on the city of Jerusalem. The verses can be divided into three parts. The first part deals with the corruption of the leadership of the city. The second part is the Lord informing the city that he will destroy His enemies. The last section discusses the inhabitants of Jerusalem. There are two groups of people, the righteous and sinners.

Contrasts dominate the following verses.

v. 21: Jerusalem is figuratively called a harlot. This is a reference to the idolatry. Idolatry is often equated with harlotry is Scripture by God.  In the past, the city was “filled” with justice and fairness.  Jerusalem was once faithful but wonders at this time from the Word of God. In contrast, now the city is full of murderers.

v. 22: The contrast continues with silver. The silver was once pure. Now the silver is like dross, full of impurities. These are the little floaties that come to the top of melted metal. Their drink, beer or wine, is diluted. The contrast continues with their alcohol. This has to be disturbing to the people of Jerusalem. They pride themselves on their drinking prowess.

v. 23: In this verse the leaders of the city are discussed. The leaders have turned away from God and choose thieves as friends. In the Hebrew the idea is that the leaders pursue payoffs or gifts. As a culture, they do not take care of orphans or widows. This is in direct opposition to God’s Word. God sets the example of how orphans and widows should be treated in Deutoronomy 10:17-18. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who is unbiased and takes no bribe, who justly treats the orphan and widow…

Psalm 82:3 Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.

The same care for widows is noted in the New Testament as well. 1 Timothy 5:3: Honor widows who are widows indeed; See 1 Timothy 5 for greater detail and context of treatment and expectations toward widows in the church age.

Isaiah 1:18-20 Washing Away Sin

Posted in Isaiah on November 1, 2010 by paulthepoke

Isaiah 1:18-20 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. “If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; “But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword.” Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

In the previous verses (16-17) God appealed to a sense of morality and personal will. In these verses God chooses to appeal to the intellect of man and gives them a choice. And as a good parent, God instructs Israel of their consequences if they should choose to disobey. Note their future is not set in stone. God has not made up His mind as to the course of history. There is a choice.

God does equate the color red with sin. He uses metaphorical language to express this concept. The color or sin can be washed away but there is a condition.  They must change their mind and change their actions. God reminds them two times that their sin can be washed away.

In comparing the two options, there is obedience or rebellion. Not only will their sin be washed away but the land will become productive and they will have the best. If they choose to disobey, death will occur by war. The last sentence of the verse seals the deal as an established fact. The Lord has spoken. One of these two options is going to happen.

In our case, we are on the other side of the cross. We have a choice to make regarding this same metaphorical language. We have crimson stained sins that are the issue. And our sins can be washed away as well. Our choice is to believe that Jesus washed away those scarlet sins once and for all.

1 Corinthians 6:11  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Revelation 1:5  and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—

Not only is this true for us, but it will also be true for those in the future who are living during the great tribulation. People will find cleanliness in the blood of Christ.

Revelation 7:14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Past, present, and future, God has always been interested in washing away our sins.

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