ISAIAH SESSION 21 –THE VALLEY OF LACK OF VISION

Text: Isaiah 22

If I were going to give today’s teaching a title, it would be “The Valley of Lack of Vision.” Isaiah sees the future Babylonian capture of Jerusalem. His people celebrated that the angel of the LORD killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night, but they do not see that their continued rebellion will lead to their destruction, 150 years later. 

He will send Babylon against them, but they are too short-sighted to see their own coming destruction. The LORD has sent Isaiah to warn them, so they would repent and return to Him.

Remember that Nebuchadnezzar is the LORD’s servant to discipline and punish His wayward people —

Jeremiah 25:8   “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Because you have not obeyed My words, 9 behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation.

Verses 1-2 —

In this oracle, Isaiah sees and speaks of the valley of vision. Jerusalem is on a hill, Mt. Zion. So why does he see them in a valley? From a mountain, you can see what is coming from a far distance. But they are in a valley of short-sightedness. Thus, they have no vision!
The LORD says to His people, what is the matter with you? You are on your housetops, trying to see what is coming. What has happened to your noisy, boisterous celebration? You were exultant, gloating over the death of the 185,000 Assyrians, struck down by Me — not you — in one night. 

But you did not repent, so now you are anxiously looking from your low rooftops, instead of from My high mountain. Oh world-loving, rebellious church, you are short-sighted. Your judgment is coming, but you do not see it! 

Because of your short-sightedness and rebellion against Me, says the LORD, you will be slain, not by the sword, nor in battle. Many of His people will die from hunger, when Babylon lays siege to you for three years. Access to food will be entirely cut off, when the Babylonians lay siege against them. 

Verse 3 —

Isaiah sees all of the rulers fleeing and being captured without the bow. They will not die in heroic battle, but as fugitives. Jeremiah records the rulers’ attempt to flee, 150 years later —

Jeremiah 39:4 When Zedekiah the king of Judah and all the men of war saw them (the Babylonian army), they fled and went out of the city at night by way of the king’s garden through the gate between the two walls; and he went out toward the Arabah. 5 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and they seized him and brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he passed sentence on him.

Verses 4-5 —

Therefore, Isaiah says to his people, Do not look at me! I am weeping bitterly for you! Do not try to comfort me concerning the destruction of the daughter of my people (Jerusalem)! He cannot join in their revelry, their celebration of victory over Assyria, for they continue to sin against the LORD. So, their destruction is coming.

He sees that the LORD God of hosts has a day of panic, subjugation and confusion in the valley of vision for short-sighted Jerusalem. Isaiah sees a breaking down of walls, and a crying to the mountain. The cries of His people will echo throughout Mt. Zion. 

Oh, beloved! There is a siege coming upon today’s church, and she does not see it because she is short-sighted. Already, there is a famine for the word of God . . . no one speaks the whole counsel of God, so no one hears it —

Amos 8:11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the LORD.”

Verse 6 —

Elam (Persia) took up the quiver, with the chariots, infantry and horsemen, and Kir (Babylon) uncovered the shield. The Persians were known for their archery, which is why the king of Babylon would have recruited some of them to serve under him, in those days.
The picture Isaiah sees is one of every warrior ready with his bow, and all weapons of war poised. The shields were uncovered — the battle is about to begin. 

Verses 7-9 —

Then Isaiah sees the invasion of Babylon. Jerusalem’s choicest valleys were full of chariots, and the horsemen took up fixed positions at the gate. The LORD removed the defense (literally screen, covering) of Judah, in the day they depended on their own strength — the weapons of the house of the forest — a reference to a part of the temple that was constructed of cedar and was used as a storehouse for weapons. 

O church, you are about to be overrun by the world system that defies the Lord. You are armed with nothing but man’s wisdom and man’s ways in your beautiful buildings, apostate seminaries, and massive libraries!

Babylon besieged and overran Jerusalem, as recorded by Jeremiah —

Jeremiah 39:1   Now when Jerusalem was captured in the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came to Jerusalem and laid siege to it; 2 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the city wall was breached.

And Isaiah’s people saw that the breaches in the wall of the city of David were many! The Babylonians had built a siege ramp, over about a three-year period, while they kept the people of Jerusalem from leaving the city. They were pinned down. If they tried to leave to find food, the Babylonians killed them.

Verses 10-11 —

Desperate measures were required by Isaiah’s people! But they did not repent before the LORD, though they had seen His salvation and His mighty works!

Instead, Isaiah sees his people counting the houses of Jerusalem and determining that there were enough to fortify the wall. So, he sees that they tore down the houses, and put the rubble in the space between Jerusalem’s double wall. It was like a shock absorber for Babylon’s battering rams.

They also stored water between the double wall. Where did they get water, when they were pinned down? King Hezekiah had dug a tunnel between the spring of Gihon at Kidron and the pool now known as Siloam, on the east side of the city, not far from the temple. 

But they did not consider (look intently to, have respect for) Him who made it, nor did they take into consideration Him who planned it (molded it, like a potter) long ago. They did not look to the LORD who created them and gave them the land, nor did they repent.

Verses 12-14 —

The LORD called them to weeping and to wailing, to shaving the head and wearing sackcloth — that is, repentance and mourning over their sin — when Babylon approached. But there was no repentance! As Isaiah had seen in Verse 2, they had feasted with gaiety and gladness, killing cattle, slaughtering sheep, eating meat, and drinking wine to celebrate the Assyrian defeat. 

It was a final mark of His people turning away from Him and to apostasy — they renounced Him, by their words and actions. Let us eat, drink and be merry, they said, for tomorrow we may die! There is nothing beyond the grave, so we do not need to fear the LORD’s judgment!

But Isaiah heard these words from the LORD of hosts — Surely this sin, Judah and Jerusalem’s apostasy shall not be forgiven them until they die, says the LORD God of Hosts.

Apostasy is never forgiven, beloved —

Hebrews 10:26   For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and “the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries (His people who blaspheme Him).”

And Jesus says to His people —

John 5:28 “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”

Verses 15-16 —

The Lord GOD of hosts instructed Isaiah to go to the steward of His people, Shebna, who was in charge of the royal household. And Isaiah was to speak these words from the LORD — 

What right do you have here, and whom do you have here, that you have hewn a tomb for yourself here, you who hew a tomb on the height, you who carve a resting place for yourself in the rock? 

The Lord would see to it that Shebna would be struck down, and would not be buried in luxury, as he had planned. Instead, he would die in Babylon, as a slave.

Verses 17-19 —

Isaiah describes what the LORD will do with Shebna. He will hurl him headlong, and grasp him firmly, and roll him tightly like a ball, to be cast into a vast country, a reference to Babylon. And there Shebna will die, and with Shebna will be his splendid chariots in which he trusted, instead of trusting in and obeying the Lord. 

That is why the Lord calls Shebna, “You shame of your master’s house.” The Lord will depose Shebna of his office, and pull him down from his station. 

Why? Shebna was a man who is in charge of the household of Judah. But he never exhorted the people to repent, nor did he tell them the consequences of their sin. 

He simply lived in luxury, with no thought of the LORD or of His judgment of His people. He lived and led without vision or understanding. It is the same today, in much of the church!

Verse 20 —

I believe this is not only a prophecy of a man, Eliakim, who was placed over the household of Judah (Isaiah 36:3), but also a prophecy of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. I will show it to you. 

Something will come about in that day when Shebna is deposed, but also, at the end of things. What will come about? The Father will summon His servant, for Shebna has not served Him.

Verses 21-22 —

The man named Eliakim will have the tunic and sash of Shebna, both articles of clothing representing Shebna’s authority as head of the household of Jerusalem and Judah. But that would be far too small a thing for God the Son! He will be clothed by His Father, with authority over His house! 

He will entrust His Son with authority over the house of Judah, as well. And His Son will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the house of Judah. And He will set the key of the house of David on His Son’s shoulder. The LORD spoke through Isaiah —

Isaiah 9:6  For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.

When He opens no one will shut, when he shuts no one will open. It is written of Eliakim. But God the Son has all the authority of God over all that happens, and He says to the angel (leader) of the church in Philadelphia —

Revelation 3:7   . . . He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: 8 “I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”

Verses 23-25 —

These verses speak figuratively of the crucifixion of God the Son. He will be driven like a peg in a firm place, and He will become a throne of glory (kabod) for His Father’s house. He will hang from spikes on a cross, but He will rise and ascend and be returned to the glory He had before He was sent by the Father. 

All of Jesus’ glorious deeds will be hung on Him. A sign on His cross will call Him “Yeshua Hanaseray, Vimelech Hayahuda,” which means, “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.” But note that the first letters of each title spell YHWH, God’s answer to Moses when he asked what he should call Him (Exodus 3:14). They crucified God, that is, God the Son! No wonder they objected to the sign Pilate had made, and wanted him to change it (see John 19:18-21)!

In that day, the peg driven in a firm place will give way, it will even break off and fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut off (He will die and be cut down from the cross), for the LORD has spoken. And when the LORD speaks, it will surely be done. 

Thanks be to God, for if He had not taken upon Himself the punishment we deserved for our sin, we would not be reconciled to God and saved from His wrath! 

But you are short-sighted, O church, O believer, if you have turned from Him and joined hands with the world system that defies God! If the world loves you, then repent, for they only love their own (John 15:19). If you are sinning against the Lord whom you say you love, repent! He knows you are disobeying Him and therefore do not love Him (John 14:23-24). If you do not repent, you will not see your judgment that is coming!

Lord Jesus, I pray You would open the eyes of Your short-sighted people, just as You opened my eyes. Let them see and hear, so they fear and repent. Let it be so, I pray. Amen.

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ISAIAH SESSION 20 — A LOSING BATTLE

Text: Isaiah 21

If I were going to give today’s teaching a title, it would be “A Losing Battle.” All who come against the Lord will lose the battle. In this chapter, Isaiah sees and hears three oracles: one for Babylon, one for Edom, and one for Arabia. We will see His correction and punishment of Judah and Jerusalem next time. Again, He does it so they will repent and obey Him.

Verse 1 —

This is an oracle (both a word and a vision), for Babylon, referred to as “the wilderness of the sea.” All who do not know the Lord are in a wilderness, beloved. 

He sees a windstorm in the Negev (desert) that sweeps on. It is unstoppable. It comes from the wilderness, from a terrifying land. What land could terrify Babylon? The land of the Medes and Persians, whose empire was about to completely destroy Babylon!

Verse 2 —

A harsh (cruel, hard) vision has been shown to Isaiah by the LORD! The treacherous one, Babylon, still deals treacherously. And the destroyer, Babylon, still destroys, just as King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Judah and Jerusalem and carried them off into a harsh and cruel exile, 150 years after this prophecy from Isaiah.

But the LORD is about to judge Babylon, by the hand of Media and Persia. He commands the Medes and Persians — Go up! Lay siege! When the Lord commands it, surely it must be done. He has made an end of all the groaning (mourning, sighing) that Babylon has caused for His people! 

Verses 3-4 —

In this vision, Isaiah feels what will happen, as well as seeing and hearing it. The vision of Babylon’s fall is so fearsome and causes such anguish (terror) that it causes Isaiah to physically feel cramping in his loins (stomach). The pain is equivalent to that of childbirth! 

In this vision, the LORD has caused Isaiah to feel and describe what Belshazzar, the king of Babylon and grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, will feel, when he sees fingers suddenly appear and write on the wall of his palace —

Daniel 5:5   Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing. 6 Then the king’s face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together.

Isaiah feels Belshazzar’s bewilderment (he bows down at the waist) and his terror (inward trembling). The vision is one of severe and speedy judgment. Belshazzar will not be able to see or hear because he is so affected by the impending doom it predicts. Isaiah experiences Belshazzar’s mind (his heart) reeling (panting), as horror (shuddering) overwhelms him. 

When Daniel is called to the scene to interpret the handwriting on the wall, he speaks for the LORD, telling Belshazzar why the LORD is judging him —  

Daniel 5:22 “Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this, 23 but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand. But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.

Beware, beloved. Many in today’s church “play house” with the holy things of God. Irreverence toward Him abounds. They will be judged by Him, unless they repent.

Then, Daniel interprets the handwriting on the wall —

Daniel 5:25   “Now this is the inscription that was written out: ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.’ 26 “This is the interpretation of the message: ‘MENE’ — God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it. 27 “‘TEKEL’ — you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient. 28 “‘PERES’ — your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”

Again, the repetition of MENE meant that the end of Belshazzar’s kingdom will come swiftly! The LORD will see to it that the world system (a type of Babylon), which defies Him and refuses to repent, will be judged.

Verse 5 —

Belshazzar set the table with the holy things of God. He spread out the cloth, they all ate and drank.  

But suddenly, the Medo-Persian army will burst into his dining hall! Belshazzar will cry, “Rise up, captains, oil the shields!” (NOTE: Shields were oiled so they could be turned toward the sun, so as to blind the approaching enemy.)

But it will be too late! The Medo-Persians have entered undetected, using the sluiceways under his palace! They will kill him and his nobles on the spot!

Verses 6-7 —

The Lord says to Isaiah, Go, station the lookout (watchman on the wall), let him report what he sees. Isaiah is the watchman on the wall, and reports that he sees horsemen in pairs, a train of donkeys, a train of camels — the Medo-Persian army! Who is to pay attention, close attention? Belshazzar, who is about to be slain!

Verses 8-9 —

Then Isaiah called. The original Hebrew says he called (roared) like a lion, which roars when it has found and captured prey to devour. Isaiah makes the sound that the Medo-Persian army will make, as they capture Babylon, their prey —

Amos 3:4 Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey? Does a young lion growl from his den unless he has captured?

But there is another lion’s roar, from the Lord GOD, that causes His people and their enemies to fear, and His prophets to prophesy!

Amos 3:8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?

Isaiah says, “O Lord, I stand continually by day on the watchtower, and I am stationed every night at my guard post.” Indeed, that is a watchman’s job description! He sounds a trumpet when he sees danger coming! But the Babylonian watchmen will not detect the Medo-Persians. 

Isaiah sees, and says, Behold! See! Here comes a troop of riders, horsemen in pairs, and one said, Fallen, fallen is Babylon! And all the images of her gods are shattered on the ground! 

Again, it is a picture of the Medo-Persian army’s destruction of Babylon. All that Babylon has trusted in — all their false gods — are shattered.

But it is much more, for it will be the same at the end of things, for Babylon, which is a type of the world system that defies the Lord —

Revelation 14:8   And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”

And it will happen quickly and suddenly —

Revelation 18:9 “And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, 10 standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, “Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.”

Verse 10 —

Now Isaiah addresses Judah and Jerusalem, who will be in Babylonian exile in 150 years. He has seen that His people have been threshed (have been trodden down). They are defeated, in ruins, and are in harsh exile! He says, O, my threshed people and my afflicted (my son, my seed, my people) of the threshing floor!

What I have heard from the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, I make known to you, Isaiah says to his people. He gives them the vision of Babylon’s destruction that he has seen, so his people will know that their Babylonian captors will be justly punished by the LORD. 

The LORD will redeem His people, after 70 years of exile —

Jeremiah 25:12   ‘Then it will be when seventy years are completed (after the exile) I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the LORD, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.”

Jeremiah 29:10   “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.” 

But as the LORD has spoken through Isaiah from the beginning, they must repent in order to be redeemed!

Verses 11-12 —

Now Isaiah receives an oracle concerning Edom, just to the south of Israel. Isaiah hears someone continually calling to Him from Seir (Mount Seir that demarcates the southern border between Judah and Edom). The Edomites were pagans who worshiped fertility gods.

The one continually calling says, “Watchman, how far gone is the night? Watchman, how far gone is the night?” He asks twice, they are desperate, they are beseeching! They need a rapid rescue! 

When will our night end? We are in darkness, besieged by Assyria. We and you are descended from the sons of Isaac! Esau (Edom) and Jacob (Israel) were brothers. Answer us, for you are our brothers!

But they receive a riddle from Isaiah for an answer. Morning comes, but also night. If you would inquire, inquire. Come back again. 

There will be an end to Assyria’s siege, but their night will return, at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. The answer is vague, really no answer at all, for they do not seek the LORD, but only seek relief from the siege.

Verses 13-16 —

Now Isaiah gives the oracle for Arabia. In the thickets of Arabia, caravans of the Dedanites, a tribe from central Saudi Arabia , must spend the night. They are hiding in the thickets, trying to escape from Sargon, king of Assyria, who has overrun their land. 

They have fled, carrying all their possessions with them. They have become fugitives.

Bring water for the thirsty, they cry to the inhabitants of Tema, a long oasis in northern Arabia. They are thirsty from fleeing. They seek to be met with drink, and with bread, from their brethren in Tema.
The Arabians have fled from the swords, from the drawn sword and from the bent bow, and from the press of battle. Sargon, king of Assyria, has overwhelmed their armies. They are broken, tired, hungry, and thirsty. 

But they will not be rescued, for the Lord said to Isaiah — In a year as a hired man would count it, all the splendor of Kedar (another name for Arabia) will terminate, and the remainder of the number of bowmen, the mighty men of the sons of Kedar, will be few. For the LORD God of Israel has spoken.

When the LORD speaks, it will surely happen. There will be just a small remnant of mighty Arabia!

This is a word for all believers. If you trust in your own ability to escape from your enemy, Satan, you will fail. He is much more powerful than you, and if you have rebelled against the Lord, Satan will overwhelm your feeble attempts to fight him! 

When you find yourself a fugitive, your call to the Lord will not be answered, unless you repent and turn to Him. 

But, O believer, if you repent from the heart for your rebellion against Him and ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit, He will fight for you, and He always wins! He will crucify your sin nature, which Satan used to defeat you. He will purify your heart, and give you His divine nature.

The LORD never loses a battle! And when He has filled you with Himself, you will easily detect Satan’s schemes, and not take his bait! Because of Him in you, the enemy of your soul will lose every battle! Hallelujah!

Lord Jesus, may believers see their great need to cry out to You for the infilling of the Holy Spirit, so they are victorious over sin and so they approach You with the reverence You deserve. May they repent from the heart, for when they do, You will surely hear their cry! Amen!

THE THREE-SIXTEENS

[SW391] 8/10/2019 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2019

“The Three Sixteens”

The Lord has asked me to speak with you about many of the New Testament verses that are numbered “3:16,” and surrounding verses that clarify the “3:16” verses that I show you. Many believers are familiar with John 3:16, but that is only part of the truth. So I will show you a wider view.

Matthew 3:16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he (John the Baptist) saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

Matthew gives the account of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all seen and heard after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, whose baptism was an outward sign of inward repentance for sin. The Father and the Holy Spirit were all seen and heard separately, after Jesus commanded John to baptize Him in water.

Jesus was God the Son and was sinless, so He did not need John’s baptism. But these things were seen and heard according to the Father’s plan. The “dove” of the Holy Spirit was seen prior to the beginning of His earthly ministry so that all believers would understand that they must be filled with the Holy Spirit, in order to do the work the Father has prepared in advance for them to do (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus Christ commands all believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit (see Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5).

Luke 3:16 John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

John the Baptist was a powerful prophet of God. His role was to prepare the hearts of God’s people. In this passage, he said Jesus Christ, who is greater than him,   baptizes with the Holy Spirit and His purifying fire. John’s words reveal that Jesus’ baptism is a separate event, after water baptism.

The account of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4 reflects baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire. Peter’s testimony that the hearts of all who were baptized with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 were purified (Acts 15:9) reveals that baptism with the Holy Spirit purifies the heart.

John 3:16   “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

The expression of God’s divine love to His people who rebelled against Him, and even to a world that defied Him, is this — He gave  the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. It was His plan from before anything was, to give His Son as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Revelation 13:8, John 1:29). 

Whoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have everlasting life. But this promise is conditional, as I will show you in other passages.

Acts 3:16 “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man (at Gate Beautiful) whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.”

After Jesus Christ died, rose, ascended and poured out His Holy Spirit in Acts 2, all who stayed and waited boldly proclaimed Jesus Christ and continued His ministry. They could not stop speaking of what they had seen and heard (Acts 4:20). From that point on, the miracles they did were done through God the Father and God the Son, who fully and permanently indwelled them after they were filled (John 14:23).

When Peter says, “it is the name of Jesus,” he means that Jesus was in John and him, permanently and fully dwelling in them with His Father (John 14:23). So, they were filled with Jesus Christ’s name — His character and power. So, He worked His works through them. Before they were filled, Jesus’ disciples were unable to ask anything in His name (John 16:24), for they were not yet filled.

So, the 40+-year-old man who was lame from birth was able to leap up and walk and praise God (Acts 3:8) because of the name of Jesus — His character and His power — with which Peter and John had been filled. 

NOTE: During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He gave His disciples authority to announce that the kingdom of heaven was indeed near, and give proof of their words by doing signs and wonders (Matthew 10:7-8). But after they were filled, He worked His works, through them, for the kingdom of God was in them!

1Corinthians 3:16   Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

Paul asked this of the believers at Corinth. It was a rhetorical question. Of course they did not know, or he would not have asked. By their actions, they revealed that they had not experienced the infilling of the Holy Spirit. If they had been filled, they would have known by experience that their bodies were temples that were filled with God. So, as he did throughout 1 and 2 Corinthians, he showed them that they had not obeyed Jesus’ command to be filled with the Spirit, though they boasted that they were filled.

When you believe, you receive a measure of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). But He does not yet dwell fully in you, with the Father and the Son. It is when you stay and wait that you know by experience that you are God’s temple.

2Corinthians 3:15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

What great news for God’s people, the Jews! They cannot see Jesus Christ in the Old Testament (the Tenakh) until they first receive Jesus Christ as their Messiah. When they turn to Him, the veil over their hearts is removed, and they see all of the prophecies of the coming Messiah, and that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of them.

Glory to God!

But the world’s inhabitants also have a veil over their eyes (2Corinthians 4:4). Their minds have been blinded by the god of this world, so they do not see. 

I testify, from my own experience, that the veil was lifted from my eyes when I was drawn by the Father to His Son. But my eyes were not fully able to see until I was filled with His Holy Spirit — suddenly, in a moment of time, I saw Him fully!He is glorified by what He has done in me!

Galatians 3:16, 18 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise  (that is, the promise of sending His Christ). 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.

The promise of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law given by Moses. You are not thereby given free rein to sin, however. The Ten Commandments  are not negated when you believe into Christ, but are fulfilled in and through you when you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Then you find the Ten Commandments are easy to obey — they are written on the tablet of your heart (2Corinthians 3:3)!

But many of the believers in Galatia had been deceived by false teachers who taught that to be saved, you must believe in Jesus Christ and do all the Law of Moses, including circumcision. He warned that any who had believed and followed their teaching had fallen from grace and were severed from Christ (see Galatians 2:21, 5:4). So, it is possible to fall, and possible to be severed from the Lord.

Ephesians 3:16 . . . that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Paul prayed for the powerless believers at Ephesus to be strengthened with God’s divine power (dunamis). Then Christ would fully dwell in these believers’ hearts. They were not yet filled with the Holy Spirit. They were not yet filled with God’s divine love. So, Paul prayed for them to be filled up to all the fullness of God!

Philippians 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect (complete, full) have this attitude (be of one mind); and if in anything you have a different attitude (a misunderstanding of perfection), God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same  standard to which we have attained.

Paul was instructing believers at Philippi who had been filled with all the fullness of God. Though the infilling of the Holy Spirit purifies the heart and crucifies the sin nature (Galatians 5:24), believers continue to grow in grace (the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in the life), and in an ever-deepening, experiential knowledge of the Lord.

So, Spirit-filled believers continue to be transformed (2Corinthians 3:18). But like Paul, they no longer sin against God (see Romans 9:1). Paul reminded the Spirit-filled believers that if they did not understand their inward perfection correctly, God would correct them. I testify that the Spirit continually teaches me more and more deeply, and I am therefore more and more like Christ. 

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 

The Holy Spirit, Author of the Word of God — continually teaches you all things (John 14:26), when you are filled. He gives you God’s wisdom. With His wisdom, you teach, and admonish (warn, reprove) those who are straying because they are not yet filled. 

Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are all part of worship, as is thanksgiving to the Lord. The Psalms of the Old Testament instruct, hymns are written under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and spiritual songs are birthed by the Holy Spirit when you are filled. They may be in a known language, or in tongues and then interpreted.

2Thessalonians 3:16   Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance (way). The Lord be with (in the midst of, literally, inside of) you all!

Paul spoke this glorious benediction and prayer to the believers at Thessalonica. The Lord of peace — it is Christ who gives you His peace (John 14:27), filling you with His peace when He fills you with the Spirit. Therefore, He who fully indwells you continually gives you His peace. It is not peace as the world gives, but peace in every circumstance (way). 

2Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man (human being) of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

None of the Word of God is inspired by humans (see also 2Peter 1:20-21). Because the whole Word of God is inspired by God, it is helpful for teaching, reproving, correcting and instructing believers regarding righteousness; that is, to exhort believers to stop sinning, and instruct and exhort them to become the righteousness of God in Christ (see 2Corinthians 5:21), by being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.”  16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?

You are in Christ and remain in Him if you hold fast, if you continue in the faith by which you were saved. But the writer of Hebrews used the example of God’s people whose hearts were hardened against the Lord. He had delivered them from slavery to Egypt and had let them to the Promised Land, but they did not have faith to enter. During their wanderings in the wilderness, they continued to sin against Him, provoking Him to judge them  repeatedly, even destroying those who were unrepentant and rebellious. 

The writer of Hebrews speaks to today’s believers. If you continue to sin against Him, your heart will become hardened against Him. Therefore, He will judge you, just as He judged those who rebelled against Him in the Old Testament. And He will destroy you (that is, you will perish in hell), if you refuse to repent.

1John 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

What is it to lay down your life? John teaches that to do so is the ultimate expression of God’s divine love. Christ laid His life down for you, taking the punishment you deserved on the cross. And He commands you to go to your own cross and lay down your own life, utterly rejecting yourself and your life (see Matthew 16:24). 

When you do so, your sin nature will be crucified and you will be filled with His Holy Spirit. Only then are you of benefit to your brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Revelation 3:15   “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit (vomit) you out of My mouth.”

Jesus Christ spoke this to the church at Laodicea, an actual church that existed during John’s later life. But it is also a type (symbol) of today’s church. Many go to church, but they have not yet been made powerful by being filled with the Holy Spirit. They have disobeyed His command to be filled.

Therefore, they are lukewarm Christians. They have no zeal for the Lord, because they are not filled with His Spirit. Yet they consider themselves to be in need of nothing. 

If they do not repent, He surely will vomit them out of His mouth — they will no longer be in Him. So, it is possible to be vomited from Jesus Christ’s mouth. You will no longer be in Him, and will have forfeited your salvation by your own actions.

So, I have these questions for believers in Jesus Christ. What will you do with the truths revealed in the Three-Sixteens I have shown you? 

Beloved, do you believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? I ask because some false teachers preach “Jesus only,” or teach that all gods are the same as the God of heaven.

Do you still sin, you who have been baptized in water by men? If so, repent and be baptized by Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit and fire!

Are you a temple in which God dwells fully and permanently?

Is God’s divine nature and character fully and permanently in you? 

Do you think your good works and your attempt to obey the Law of  Moses will get you to heaven. If you do, repent! No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6) —  not by works, and not by the Law, but by faith in Christ. He is the only Way!

Lord Jesus, may these truths shake those who have built their faith on the sandy foundation of false teaching, so they repent and build their faith upon the rock of obedience to Your words and commands.  Let it be so, I pray. Amen.

ISAIAH SESSION 19 — IN WHOM DO YOU HOPE?

Text: Isaiah 19 & 20

If I were going to give today’s teaching a title, it would be “In Whom Do You Hope?” These chapters are a prophecy of the worthlessness of false gods in whom believers and unbelievers place their hope, and of a time when all nations will turn to the true Hope, Jesus Christ. I am doing these two chapters together because they are linked by who hopes in whom.

Chapter 19

Verse 1 —

Isaiah begins with an oracle about Egypt. The LORD is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt. He Himself will inflict swift judgment on the false gods in which Egypt places its hope — in this chapter, He focuses on the Nile god. Hapi. But all of the idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence.

The Egyptians would have remembered Moses and the ten plagues with which the LORD struck them, judgments against all the gods they worshiped, recorded in the Book of Exodus — 

the Nile’s water turned to blood (7:20), 

the frogs (8:6), 

the gnats (8:17), 

the flies (8:24), 

the death of all livestock (9:6), 

the boils (9:9), 

the hail (9:23), 

the locusts (10:12), 

the darkness (10:21-22), 

and the death of the firstborn (11:4-5).

Verses 2-4 —

The LORD will incite (set) Egyptian against Egyptian, and they will fight each other, brother against brother and neighbor against neighbor, city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. Their social and political systems will be in continual upheaval.

The result will be that the Egyptians will be demoralized (made void, emptied). All their strategies will be destroyed. They will resort to their idols and ghosts of the dead, to mediums and wizards, but there will be no answer. Their idols, ghosts of the dead, mediums and wizards are nothingness and foolishness.

And the Lord will deliver the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel master — Assyria. A mighty king will rule over them, declares the LORD of hosts, the Captain of the armies of God! And it happened, from 673 B.C. to 663 B.C., during the reign of Esharaddon, King of Assyria, and then his son, Ashurbanipal. 

If the LORD says it, surely it will be done! That is a glorious word to believers who love and obey Him, but should strike terror into the hearts of those who feign obedience to Him.

Verses 5-10 —

The striking of the Nile, a judgment on the Nile god Hapi, is described by the LORD of hosts —

Waters from the sea will dry up

Canals will dry up and stink

Streams will thin out and dry up

Reeds and rushes rot

Bulrushes by the Nile’s shore (the source of their paper for writing) will dry up

Sown fields by the Nile will dry up, be driven away (by wind), and disappear

The fish will die

The fishermen who fish in the brooks will mourn

Those who cast nets into the Nile will pine away (droop, be feeble)

There will be no flax with which to make linen, and nothing to weave, so the manufacturers will be utterly dejected

And the pillars of Egypt — all they trusted in — will be crushed

All the hired laborers will be crushed and crumble

Verses 11-13 —

The LORD judges the princes of Zoan, where Moses performed wonders before the Pharoah. Those who lead in Zoan in the days of Isaiah are mere fools, relying on false gods and man’s wisdom. The advice of the current Pharoah’s advisors has become like fire that consumes.

The LORD mocks each prince, for one says to Pharoah, I am wise, a son of ancient kings! The LORD asks, “How can he say that?” 

Then He says, If you are so wise, where are your wise men? Let them tell you wisdom. Here is what they will understand and tell you, if they are really wise — they will announce what the LORD of hosts has determined for judgment against Egypt.

The princes of Zoan have acted foolishly, the princes of Memphis are deluded (led astray by their false idols). Though they are the cornerstone in which Egypt hopes, the foundation upon which they rely — the leaders of Zoan and Memphis — have led Egypt astray! How foolish are many leaders in today’s church, men and women who place their hope in man’s wisdom and man’s ways, instead of the LORD!

Verses 14-15 —

The LORD has mixed into Egypt a spirit of distortion (perversity)  — an evil spirit to mislead those who seek counsel from ghosts and mediums and wizards. So it is in much of today’s church, where perverse behavior is celebrated and elevated.

So, they have led Egypt astray in all that it does — in every way! They are like drunken men that stagger in their own vomit. 

There will be no work for Egypt — their wisdom, in which they place all their hope, will not work. It will not make any difference if they are a head or a tail (great or small), even the palm branch (held as sacred by the Egyptians) or bulrush (used to make paper for their sacred writing) will fail them. All their great ancient writings are foolishness, and all they hold sacred is nothingness.

Verses 16-17 —

All it takes is a wave of the hand of the LORD of hosts, to make the Egyptians like weak women, trembling and in dread. The land of Judah will become a terror (source of awe) to Egypt — they will stand in awe of Judah, for Judah belongs to the LORD, the One who is coming against Egypt.

Verses 18-20 —

Now Isaiah sees and speaks of the future conversion of the remnant of Egypt. Conversion? Yes! They will come to Christ! But Isaiah also sees mass conversion of the Egyptians before the final judgment (see Revelation 7:9-10).

The Christian Coptic Church of Egypt was founded in 42 A.D. — just a few short years after Christ died and rose. But now Islam is the predominant religion, and Christians are severely persecuted. 

Yet there will be a day when ALL Egyptians worship the Lord! In that day of the conversion of all Egyptians, five cities (the meaning here is “all cities”) of Egypt will be speaking Hebrew and swearing allegiance to the LORD of hosts. 

One of the cities will be called the City of Destruction (demolition, utterly thrown down), for all of Egypt’s gods will be utterly thrown down, cast away to the moles and the bats (Isaiah 2:20)!

In that day, the Egyptians will build an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD near its border. The altar will be for worship, and the pillar a sign and a witness indicating to all who enter Egypt that all Egyptians follow the LORD and no other.

The Egyptians will cry to the LORD because of their oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them. Who is this Savior? Jesus Christ! The remnant of Egypt will become believers. 

Verse 21 —

Through all that the LORD does to judge Egypt, He will make Himself known to them, and the Egyptians will know the LORD! This “know” is intimate knowledge of Him. They will be filled with His Holy Spirit! 

They will worship with sacrifice and offering — even offering themselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing (Romans 12:1) — and will make a vow to Him and perform it. They will be obedient to Him.

Verse 22 —

The LORD’s purpose in striking Egypt is to heal the Egyptians of their sin. They will return (convert) to the LORD, and He will respond to them and heal them in their relationship with God, fill them with His Spirit, and crucify their sin nature (Galatians 5:24). He will do the same for you, if you will believe and obey Him, O believer!

He died on a cross not just for the Jew, but for all who would believe into Him — whosoever! And He was glorified and poured out His Spirit to anyone who would obey His command to stay (Luke 24:49) and wait (Acts 1:4-5)!

Verse 23-25 —

In that great day, Egypt and Assyria will no longer be enemies. They will worship the Lord together! This is the first mention of Gentile salvation in Isaiah!

In that day, Israel will not be the only people who worship Him, but Egypt and Assyria will worship with them! Jew and Gentile believers will worship the LORD together! 

They will all be purified, filled with the Holy Spirit! And Israel, Egypt and Assyria will together be a blessing on the earth!

All — Jew and Gentile — who convert and believe into Jesus Christ will not only bless, but Gentiles will be blessed by the LORD by becoming His people. Gentiles will be seen as the work of His hands, and Israel will remain His inheritance (possession)!

The Father says of His Son, Jesus Christ —

Isaiah 49:6 “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Chapter 20

Verses 1-2 — 

Isaiah records the particular time when he received this next vision; specifically, in the year when an Assyrian commander was sent by Sargon, king of Assyria, to Ashdod, a coastal city-state in Philistia. Ashdod had rebelled against Assyria and was captured.

At that time, Isaiah was instructed by the LORD to loosen the sackcloth which he wore around his hips, and take the shoes off his feet, as a sign to Egypt and Cush. Sackcloth was a sign of mourning, and Isaiah mourned with the LORD, who does not want any to perish, but all to come to repentance (2Peter 3:9)!

Isaiah obeyed the LORD by performing this sign, going naked (nude) and barefoot. I believe he was entirely naked, because of the prophecy the LORD then gave Isaiah, to interpret his actions. Exiles were taken captive and stripped completely, to shame them.

The LORD sometimes commands His prophets to act out a future event, and then speak a prophecy to explain their actions. It was the same with the prophecy by Agabus of Paul’s arrest (Acts  21:11), and many times, Ezekiel and Jeremiah did signs and then prophesied by the Spirit.

Verses 3-4 —

And the LORD said, even as My servant Isaiah has gone naked and barefoot three years as a sign and token against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead away the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Cush, young and old. They will be naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, to the shame (nakedness) of Egypt. 

It is a warning to Egypt and Cush. Egypt will be naked, stripped of its power. They fought against Assyria and continually were defeated, until they were carried into exile, with just a remnant remaining. But Isaiah is a prophet for Judah and Jerusalem, so it is also a warning to Judah, who will go into Babylonian exile the same way, 150 years later.

Verses 5-6 —

Who did Ashdod hope in? Egypt and Cush. They did not know nor did they seek the LORD. Instead, their hope was in Cush and Egypt, to defend them against the Assyrian onslaught. Cush was their hope, and Egypt was their boast. Whenever you hope in man, you will find that man will fail you, sooner or later.

It is true today, O believer, O church. If you hope in and boast about man’s wisdom and man’s ways, and rely on them to protect you and make you prosper, you will be exiled from the presence of the Lord (Isaiah 59:1-2) and become a captive of the enemy of your soul, Satan. Beware! I see it happening even now. 

Ashdod, the inhabitants of the coastland, hoped in Egypt and Cush. But Egypt and Cush will fall to the Assyrians. Therefore, Ashdod will be led away. And as they go, they will say, Behold, such is our hope! They hoped in those who could not save them. They will say, We fled to Egypt and Cush for help, to be delivered from the king of Assyria, but now we are captured. How shall we escape?

Indeed, beloved, if your hope is in anything but Jesus Christ, you will find yourself a captive. How will you escape? First, you must repent from your heart and ask the Lord to forgive you! 

But hear this. Just like Ephraim and Judah, you cannot depend on His deliverance while you willfully disobey Him. Repent, while it is still today. 

He will heal you of your sin, and set you free from captivity to your sin nature by crucifying it and filling you with His Holy Spirit and His divine nature. Then His kingdom will be established in you! And no one defeats Him! 

Lord, may believers hear this word and take to heart Your warning that hoping in man’s wisdom and man’s ways — idolatry of self — is hopeless and foolish. You are their Hope, if they will simply repent of their idolatry and return to You. So be it, I pray. Amen.

BE MADE POWERFUL

[SW390] 8/3/2019 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2019

“Be Made Powerful”

 Text: Ephesians 6:10, 1:19ff, Revelation 3:17-18, etc.

I prayed on Monday night for the Lord to tell me what He wanted me to speak next. Tuesday morning, I awoke with this phrase, “Be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.” So I knew He wanted me to speak from Ephesians 6:10.

You may say, “Pastor Sue, can’t you speak about something else? You are always exhorting us to repent and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” But I must speak what He gives me. Wouldn’t you? So, for your sake, I will not keep silent until your righteousness goes forth like brightness, like a torch that is burning, and you become a praise in all the earth (Isaiah 62:1)!

The church and individual believers are commanded to work the works of God, which He has prepared in advance for them to do (Ephesians 2:10). But many of today’s churches and believers are unable to work the works of God — works that would glorify Him!

Why? They are sinning, in many ways. Their greatest sin is this — they have not obeyed Jesus Christ’s command to be filled with the Holy Spirit, so they would be permanently set free from sin! Because they are sinning, they do not possess His power.

But the Lord promises to make them powerful, if they will repent from their sin and agree with Him that they have no power.

The situation was the same among the believers at Ephesus. So, Paul gave them this final command, at the end of his letter to them —

Ephesians 6:10   Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

The NASB translation weakens Paul’s command significantly. So I will explain what those words really mean. Here is Ephesians 6:10, with the Greek words defined — 

“Finally, be made powerful by being bestowed with the Lord’s power and the manifested power and strength of the Lord.” 

Paul gave them this command because they did not have the Lord’s power, they did not possess the manifested power of the Lord, and they did not have His strength. Otherwise, it would have been unnecessary for Paul to command them to obtain it.

The situation was the same among the believers in Laodicea. Jesus said to them —

Revelation 3:17 “Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched (miserable) and miserable (to be pitied) and poor (a beggar) and blind (spiritually) and naked (not clothed with power from on high, per Luke 24:49), 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you be clothed (Greek-to-English), and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.”

I tell you the truth, O sinning church, O sinning believer, you are like the believers at the church at Ephesus, who had not become powerful, and you are like the believers at the church at Laodicea, who were blind to their spiritual condition. Only from the Lord can you obtain what you are commanded to possess. He warns that if you remain as you are, He judges you as being lukewarm, and will vomit you out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16).

So, Paul and I command the church, “Finally, be made powerful by being bestowed with the Lord’s power and the manifested power and strength of the Lord.” 

What is this Lord’s power, and this manifested power of God? Paul prayed for the believers at Ephesus to see their need to receive it —

Ephesians 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might . . .” 

Using the Greek-to-English word definitions and better sentence structure clarifies the meaning of this passage —

Ephesians 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart be made to see, so that you will intimately know by experience what is the expectation of His calling, what is the praiseworthy bestowment of His inheritance given to His holy ones, 19 and what is the super-exceeding greatness of His miraculous power and the working of His manifested power and strength in us who believe.

Paul continues —

Ephesians 1:20 (His miraculous power and the working of His manifested power) which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (thorougly).

The manifested power of His strength was seen when God the Father raised His Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but the one to come.

Beloved, have you been made powerful by being bestowed with His power? Are you doing His works, so He is glorified? Is His power being manifested in and through you?

Oh, beloved, your Father in heaven is able to raise you from the deadness of your sin, and seat you in the heavenly places, with Him —

Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus . . . 

But today’s church and believers do not believe that the Lord can do what says He can do. So they muddle along, with their sin nature alive and well, and are powerless and wretched, indeed (Romans 7:24)! 

What is the cure? Paul alludes to it in the final two verses of Ephesians 1 —

Ephesians 1:22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness (the completion) of Him who fills (up) all in all (thoroughly).

So, His body — the church and all believers — must ask Him to complete them by thoroughly filling them up! Then they are cured of their blindness and sin. He fills all in all. He fills everyone who cries out to their Father in heaven (Luke 11:13)! He fills everyone who obeys Jesus Christ’s command to stay and wait (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5)!

But many teachers in today’s church say that you receive everything when you are baptized in water, but they teach that you will continue to sin because God cannot deliver you from your sin nature. But their teaching is proven to be false by Peter’s words —

Acts 15:8 “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them (Cornelius and his household), giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing (purifying) their hearts by faith.

And . . .

2Peter 1:4 . . . He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

If you are a partaker of the divine nature, will the sin nature still remain? No! 

Many of the believers in Rome were taught that the more they sinned, the more God’s grace would increase. Therefore, Paul strongly corrected them —

Romans 6:1   What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

Paul says to the believers at Rome, “Do you not know you are supposed to die to sin?” He expected — and the Lord expects — all believers to die to the inborn sin nature! Then sin is no longer in you. Therefore, you do not sin any more.

Beloved, have you died to sin? This “dying to sin” is a crucifixion (Galatians 5:24), It a moment-in-time event that happens when you are filled with the Holy Spirit! 

Yet many in today’s church teach that believers will always struggle with sin, but gradually overcome sin more and more. That is simply not scriptural. You cannot purify yourself — only the Lord can do it! 

Now THAT is the manifested power of God, in you! You are bestowed with His power, in you, and His power and strength is manifested in and through you! And God the Father and God the Son receive the honor and praise they deserve!

Beloved, that is what you are called and commanded to do! Be made powerful by being bestowed with the Lord’s power and the manifested power and strength of the Lord!

What will you do with the truth the Lord has asked me to show you? I know what I did when I found out that Christians are called to know the Lord, experiencing Him in a holy, intimate way— I said, “Lord, I want to know you that way!” I prayed that prayer every day for six months, stretched out on the rug, face-down. I was hungry! 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6)! Six months after I had prayed to know Him that way, I encountered Him in the middle of the night September 1, 2001, and was healed of progressive multiple sclerosis, an incurable disease. And two months later, on November 1, 2001, He filled me with His Holy Spirit! 

Finally, I was bestowed with the Lord’s power and the manifested power and strength of the Lord. Finally, I was filled with His Spirit and His righteousness! Finally, He is glorified by what He has done in me, and what He now does through me!

I am nobody special. This is a requirement for all believers, a command from the Lord Jesus Christ. Will you obey His command and become powerful, or will you disobey His command and thus reveal that you do not love Him (John 14:24)? Repent and believe!

Lord Jesus, may these words pierce hearts like a double-edged sword, and judge the thoughts and attitudes of the hearts of Your church. So be it, I pray. Amen.

ISAIAH SESSION 18 — THE LORD WILL JUDGE THOSE WHO DEFY HIM

Text: Isaiah 17 & 18

If I were going to give today’s teaching a title, it would be “The LORD Will Judge Those Who Defy Him.” These chapters are a prophecy of judgment on the people of Isaiah’s day, but also are a prophecy of the end of things, when the Lord judges all dwellers on the earth who have defied Him.

In Chapter 17, Isaiah speaks the prophecy of the LORD’s judgment of Damascus and Jacob (northern Israel), who have defied the LORD. And in Chapter 18, when Cush is threatened by Assyria, they attempt to make an alliance with Judah. But their attempt will fail, because Cush has defied the LORD.

Be careful to note Jacob belonged to the LORD. But He judges those who defy Him. It is the same for those who belong to the Lord today, but defy Him. He warns you today, through Isaiah’s words.

Chapter 17

Verses 1-2   

Damascus is the capitol of Syria, with whom northern Israel/Jacob/Ephraim had allied themselves, in order to defeat Judah. But they would not succeed, and the LORD would ultimately destroy both Syria and Jacob, as Isaiah prophesied in 7:1 and 7:8.

Now Isaiah gives an oracle — both a word and a vision — of Syria’s pending destruction. He sees that its capitol, Damascus, is about to be removed as a city, and will become a fallen ruin, at the hands of Assyria.

The city of Aroer are forsaken. Its only inhabitants are flocks of animals who use them as a safe haven, lying down in them. No one frightens them away, for the city is abandoned and empty.

Verses 3-4 —

And in idolatrous Ephraim, there are no longer any fortified cities. There is no more kingdom in Damascus, no more royal power. 

And the remnant of Aram (Syria) will like be the “glory” of the sons of northern Israel, with whom they made an alliance. In this passage, the LORD uses the word “glory” sarcastically. The remnant of Syria will be just a faint shadow, as will be the remnant of Ephraim. 

Those who worship idols — including the idol of self — boast about themselves and glorify themselves. But at the end of things, their glory will vanish.

Together, Syria and Ephraim will be crushed, declares the LORD of hosts, the Captain of the armies of the LORD. Surely, that will be the judgment for all who defy Him, rebel against Him, and refuse to repent — even those who are His people, and His church! 

How does the church defy Him? Believers defy Him by following the strange gospel that is preached, and by greedily seeking the Lord for what they declare He must do for them!

In the day when the LORD crushes Jacob, his glory will fade (be thin and feeble). Again, it will be a faint shadow. And Jacob will no longer be fat (rich) and prosperous, but lean and famished.

Verses 5-6 —

Isaiah sees a harvest — Assyria harvests Jacob. When grain is harvested, the stalks are wrapped tightly, so they can remove many heads of grain with one sweeping cut. In the same way, the Assyrians will cut and gather Jacob like standing grain that cannot escape the sickle. They will wrap Jacob tightly in their arms so they can remove their heads (their sovereignty, and perhaps their heads, literally) with one sweeping cut. 

Gleanings will be gathered in the valley of Rephaim, which is southwest of Jerusalem, for the Assyrians will invade Judah, too, and even come to Jerusalem’s wall! But as I have told you, 185,000 Assyrians were slain in one night by the angel of the LORD, and the Assyrians returned home (2Kings 19:35).

And gleanings will be left in Jacob (northern Israel), like the shaking (striking) of an olive tree. The Assyrian harvesters will beat the branches thoroughly, to leave as little as possible for the gleaners. But a sparse gleaning will remain —  two or three olives on the topmost bough, four or five in the branches of a fruitful tree. 

Who declares this judgment against Damascus and Ephraim, and much of Judah, even to the gates of Jerusalem? The LORD, the God of Israel! He is God alone, and there is no other. And no one can reverse His judgments upon His rebellious people, and upon all who defy Him!

Verses 7-8 —

In the day when the LORD judges Ephraim, man will have regard for his Maker. They have had regard for the idols they made with their hands, but not for Him!But their idols are emptiness and nothing. Now, they will look to the One who created them.

And at the end of things, all that worship the god of self, the ones that want the Lord to bless them while they defy Him, will have regard for Him at the end of things. But it will be too late! While it is still today, repent, O church, O believer!

Ephraim is overrun. There are just a few stragglers left in the land. Now, instead of looking to their idols and false gods, Isaiah sees them look to the Holy One of Israel. 

The false gods they had worshiped required them to do evil acts — child sacrifice, orgies, self-mutilation, homosexuality, and so on. In contrast, the Holy One of Israel requires that His people be holy as He is holy — completely different from the world around them (Leviticus 22:2, Matthew 5:48, 1Peter 1:15)! 

No longer will Ephraim have regard for the altars to the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, which he made with his hands. Instead, he will have regard for his Maker.

After their punishment, Ephraim will no longer look to that which his fingers have made. He will no longer look to the Asherim (wooden statues of the mother of Baal), and the stands on which they burned incense to Baal. He will finally see that Baal and the golden calves could not save him, for they are false gods. 

It will be the same at the end of things. Those who have worshiped a false Jesus, one who does not command them to be holy by being filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5), will see that they have been listening to false prophets who appeal to their greed. They will see that they have worshiped the god of self. 

Verses 9-10 —

Isaiah sees the coming desolation of Ephraim. Strong cities will be like forsaken places in the forest. 

What are the abandoned branches? When Israel was given the land and they conquered the peoples in it, they took over the abandoned buildings in their cities.

But now the tables have turned. Ephraim’s buildings will be abandoned and lived in by those who Assyria brings in from their world empire. And the land will be a desolation (laid waste) by Assyria.

Like Ephraim, today’s church is being overrun by the god of this world. Many abandoned church buildings have been bought for the use of the world system that defies the Lord. Such buildings stand as a witness against today’s church. 

Why is Ephraim abandoned? They have forgotten their God, the One who saved them from slavery to Egypt, and brought them into the land! They have sought refuge in false gods and in an alliance with Syria, instead of the LORD, who is the rock of their refuge, their Strength. David sought refuge in Him, and no other 

Psalms 18:2  The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

What is your foundation? In whom do you trust? Is it the Lord? Do you claim to be His, and yet disobey Him? Listen to Jesus’ warning —

Matthew 7:24  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.”

Ephraim suffers because they have rejected the LORD who planted them, and instead have planted vine slips of a strange god. The LORD speaks 

Psalms 81:8 “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you; O Israel, if you would listen to Me! 9 “Let there be no strange god among you; nor shall you worship any foreign god.”

Isaiah sees a vision of Ephraim’s futile efforts as they plant emptiness and foolishness. With their own hands, they carefully fence in these foreign vine slips. Ephraim sees the blossoms that promise coming fruit. 

But the harvest will be a heap, mounded up and spoiled, in a day of sickness and incurable pain. He judges them, for they have refused to repent for their idolatry.  

What are you planting and tending? Beware! A gospel is being taught that is strange to the ears of Jesus Christ! And its harvest will become a heap!

Verses 12-14 —

Alas! Woe! Isaiah hears the uproar of many peoples! They roar like the roaring of the seas! Their armies are vast, comprised of Assyrians and soldiers from lands they have conquered. Assyria has conquered Assyria’s army are so great that they make a rumbling noise, like the rumbling of mighty waters!

Again, Isaiah hears them, like the rumbling of many waters! Anyone who hears them will be terror-stricken! They rumble on, unstoppable. But the LORD will rebuke them and they will flee far away. 

Assyria will get its due punishment at the hands of Babylon. They will be chased upon the mountains and will blow to and fro by the wind of Babylon’s army. They will no longer march in order, but will flee here and there, seeking safety. They will be chased, surrounded and blinded by the flying dust from Babylon’s many foot soldiers, horses, and chariots!

Isaiah sees that mighty Assyria is terror-stricken at evening. Before morning, they are no more. It will be just as when they attempted to breach Jerusalem’s wall. 

The LORD has used Assyria as His servant to discipline punish Ephraim, so His people might repent from their hearts. But those who plunder and pillage God’s people will meet ultimately meet a bitter end.

Chapter 18

 

Isaiah now sees Assyria’s invasion of Cush — Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Sudan. They also have defied the LORD. Woe to them! Their punishment is just as thorough as that of Assyria and Ephraim!

Verses 1-2 —

Alas! Woe! Pay attention, land of whirring wings (a reference to the abundance of flying insects there), which lies beyond the rivers of Cush. Historically, they were frequently ruled by Egypt. But now, Assyria was a threat to Cush, the land where the tall, handsome, clean-shaven Nubians dwell.

So, Isaiah sees Cush send swift envoys by boat to Judah, to seek an alliance with Judah (from The Expositor’s Bible Commentary). Their purpose is to gather as many nations as they can, to help them withstand the onslaught of Assyria. They travel up the Nile on lightweight craft that are able to move swiftly across the water.

The emissaries swiftly travel to Judah, Judah refuses the alliance, and Cush swiftly returns to their land. They are desperate, and in grave danger!

Cush had recently defeated Egypt, and were a people feared far and wide, a powerful and oppressive nation whose land the rivers divide. But the LORD did not fear Cush, nor did Judah. In those days, Judah was led by King Hezekiah, who was faithful to the LORD, and would not make an alliance with those who defied God.

Verses 3-4 —

Now, Isaiah speaks not only of Assyria’s fall, but of the end of things, when all the inhabitants of the world and dwellers on earth — that is, all who have defied the Lord and who have persecuted and slain believers — will fall. 

The whole known earth will see the demise of Assyria. And all mankind will see the demise of those who have defied the Lord.

At the end of things, martyred believers will cry out to the Lord from beneath the altar in heaven —

Revelation 6:10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 

Oh, Cush! O inhabitants of the earth who defy the LORD! O believer who has defied the LORD and refused to repent! 

Cush, you will see your end as soon as you see the standard raised by the Assyrian army on the mountains, and as soon as you hear the trumpet that sounds when the battle begins. 

At the end of things, those who defy the Lord will see the banner of the Righteous Judge, Jesus Christ, and will hear the battle cry of the armies of heaven —

Revelation 19:11   And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 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. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Thus the LORD has told Isaiah — the LORD will quietly look upon the destruction of those who have defied Him and refused to repent. He had judged them. Now, He watches his judgment unfold, from on high.

He dwells in unapproachable light (1Timothy 6:16)! His light is so bright that it is like dazzling heat, not only bright white and plainly seen, but hot. His light can be felt AND seen. But all those who defy Him have refused His light.

He is a like a cloud of dew that would have given them shelter from the heat of their spiritual desert, but they have refused to repent. So there will be no shelter for them, from His judgment.

Verses 5-6 —

Before the harvest, as soon as the bud blossoms and the flower becomes a ripening grape, the LORD will cut off the sprigs with pruning knives. The Vinedresser (John 15:1) will cut off Sennacherib, king of Assyria, before he can bear the fruit of further nations conquered. 

He will ruin Assyria’s harvest. He will also cut away the spreading vine of the Assyrian Empire. 

At the end of things, He will do the same to Satan, and to the earth dwellers who have defied Him and even to His own people who have defied Him and set the vine slips of strange gods in their hearts. They will be cut off forever, consigned to the lake of fire!

The Assyrians will be left for mountain birds of prey to eat. The beasts of the earth will devour their bodies. The slaughter will be so great that birds of prey will spend the summer devouring them. Even into harvest, the beasts and birds will continue to feast, just as at the end of things —

Revelation 19:17   And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God;  18 in order that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.” 

Verse 7 —

At that time, at the end of things, a gift of homage (honor) will be brought to Jerusalem. All the people who have defied the LORD will come and bow down to Jesus Christ, His Son, before they are judged and sentenced —

Philippians 2:9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So, what should be the response of the nations, and of all humankind? And what should be the response of believers who have rebelled against Him and willfully disobeyed Him?  

As David prophesies and warns —

Psalms 2:10  Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. 11 Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. 12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Amen, Lord Jesus! May many believers repent and ask You to change their hearts. And may many earth-dwellers turn from their wicked ways and take refuge in You, while it is still today! 

ABOMINATIONS OF THE LORD’S PEOPLE

[SW389] 07/27/2019 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2019

“Abominations of the LORD’s People”

 Text: Ezekiel 8, etc.

The LORD asked me to use this passage to show today’s believers and today’s church the things which are abominations to Him (that which is repulsive to Him). Why? So you might see and repent. That is always His desire!

In Ezekiel’s vision from the LORD, I will show you the abominations that the LORD showed him. The abominations pervaded every aspect of the temple in Jerusalem. From the altar gate of the outer court of the temple, all the way to the inner court of the LORD’s house, each abomination was worse than the prior one. It is the same today, among believers and in churches.

Verses 1-2 —

In the sixth year of Ezekiel’s exile in Babylon, on the fifth day of the sixth month, Ezekiel was sitting in his house in Babylon. The elders of Judah, who were in Babylon, were sitting before him. 

The hand of the LORD fell on Ezekiel, as he sat with the elders. He saw a vision of a likeness as the appearance (shape, form) of a man. 

From His loins and downward, His body looked like fire, and from His loins and upward, a brilliance, like glowing metal. Note the capitalization here! He is the LORD, the same one Ezekiel saw at the beginning —

Ezekiel 1:27 Then I noticed from the appearance of His loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him.

Verse 3 —

The LORD stretched out what looked like a hand, caught Ezekiel by the lock of his head (side locks worn by Jewish men, per the Law of Moses). And the Spirit lifted Ezekiel up between earth and heaven, and brought him, in visions of God, to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court (of the temple). 

What was there? An idol of jealousy, placed at the entrance of the north gate (the altar gate, per Verse 5). So the idol obscured the view of the altar, if you stood at the gate.

 

What was this idol of jealousy? Likely a statue of the false god, Baal, the weather god, a god of sensuality who required orgies and child sacrifice, in order for his worshipers to prosper. 

Whom did it provoke to jealousy? YHWH, Yahweh, the LORD, the one true God. The idea of child sacrifice had never entered His heart —

Jeremiah 32:35 “They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech (another name for Baal), which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind (heart) that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”

So, the first abomination Ezekiel was shown was a statue of a god that caused Judah to sin, by offering their children in the fire. 

And the next abomination was that the idol obscured the view of the altar.

To today’s church and believers, the Lord says that the idol of self, which is the root of all worship of false gods, is an abomination to Him. The root of the idol of self is the inborn sin nature. 

And the idol of self obscures the view of the altar upon which all believers are commanded to offer themselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing, as Paul exhorted the believers in Rome, and the church as a whole —

Romans 12:1  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 

What did he mean? It is a whole burnt offering, in which Jesus Christ purifies your heart with the fire of the Holy Spirit, as Peter described (Acts 15:9).

Verse 4 —

Ezekiel’s vision continued. He said, “And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the appearance which I saw in the plain” —

Ezekiel 1:28 As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory (kabod, weighty presence) of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.

Verse 5 —

And just as in Chapter 1, the LORD spoke. “Son of man, raise your eyes toward the north.” As Ezekiel’s raised his eyes, they became fixed upon the idol of jealousy that was at the altar gate, through which the altar was supposed to be visible. But the idol of jealousy blocked the view.

Again, in today’s church, the idol of self blocks the view of the altar upon which believers are to offer themselves as a living sacrifice, so their hearts are purified. So, the Lord’s promise to purify believers’ hearts and destroy the sin nature is ignored and unspoken and unseen, and today’s church and believers continue in their sin.

Verse 6 —

And the LORD said, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations which the house of Israel are committing here, so that I would be far from My sanctuary? But yet you will see still greater abominations.”

Again, the idol of the false god Baal represented all that was involved in Judah’s Baal worship — sexual perversion, child sacrifice, and more. And the idol of Baal obscured the view of the altar just outside the temple. His people could not see past Baal. They could not see the altar at which those who repented made atonement for sin.

Therefore, these great abominations caused Him to stand afar off from the sanctuary His people had built for Him. He had left the building!

Sin separates God’s people from Him —

Isaiah 59:1  Behold, the LORD’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

I tell you the truth, Jesus Christ has left the building! I say this to the sinning church. 

She thinks that she is rich and has become wealthy and is in need of nothing (Revelation 3:17)! But He is outside, knocking at the doors of the hearts of individual believers in the pews, just as He wrote to those in the pews of the church at Laodicea

Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

Verses 7-9 —

Next, the LORD brought Ezekiel to the entrance of the outer court of the temple, through which the temple is entered. Ezekiel looked, and there was a hole in the wall of the temple.

The LORD commanded him to dig through the wall, and when Ezekiel did, he saw an entrance. It was a room unable to be viewed from its exterior — a hidden room. And the LORD said, “Go in and see the abominations that they are committing here.”

I tell you the truth, many abominations against the Lord are done behind closed doors in many of today’s churches, and in the homes of many believers. Yet nothing is hidden from the eyes of He with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13)!

Verses 10-11 — 

So Ezekiel obeyed the LORD and went to see the abominations in the room the LORD showed him. He entered and looked, and saw upon the walls of the room a vast array of carvings of every kind of unclean things and all the idols of Israel, all around.

Standing around these carvings were seventy elders of the house of Israel. These represented the Sanhedrin, the supreme religious body of Israel. 

Each man had his incense censer in his hand, and from the censers, a fragrant cloud of incense arose. They were burning incense to all of the false gods and unclean things they had carved into the wall. The LORD said of Judah —

2Kings 22:17 “Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place, and it shall not be quenched.”

So, the next abomination was that the Sanhedrin, who were supposed to give just and righteous judgments on the Law of Moses given by the LORD, were defying the LORD by carving impure and perverse images on the walls, and worshiping carved images of false gods.

Today’s believers and today’s church commit the same abomination. Among their leaders, the ones who are supposed to oversee their denominations, there are many leaders who have carved impure and perverse things, and images of the god of self, on the walls of their hearts. And they teach their followers to do the same.

These leaders and their followers do so because they do not know the LORD, but only know about Him. Therefore, they have never asked the LORD to write His Law on their hearts (Psalm 40:8). Instead, with their own hands, they carve images that please their own lusts and desires.

Verses 12-13 —

The next abomination was that the members of the Sanhedrin were not afraid to do these abominations, but said, “The LORD does not see us; the LORD has forsaken the land.” He had forsaken them because they were worshiping false gods. But there was no repentance. They simply thought that since He had left, He could no longer see their sin. Their actions showed that they never knew the LORD. They did not believe in Him!

It did not trouble them that His presence was no longer in the temple. They assumed that because He was not there, He could not see, so they could worship whatever false god they thought would give them what they wanted, and carve on the walls of their hidden rooms whatever abominations they wanted to carve! But again, nothing is hidden from the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13)!

Today’s believers and today’s church commit the same abomination. The LORD has forsaken many churches, but that does not mean that He cannot see what they are doing! Just as with the Sanhedrin, the leaders of the church are completely aware that He has forsaken them. It does not trouble them at all. 

They foolishly assume that because He is not there He cannot see that they are teaching falsehood and worshiping themselves. They foolishly assume that He cannot see that they have joined hands with the world system that defies God. They foolishly assume that He cannot see that they call evil good and good evil. They foolishly assume that He cannot see that they exalt sinners to high places in their churches, even pulpits and board rooms.

So, they worship themselves, as well as many perverse things that please their sin nature, with its lusts and desires. Their actions show that they never knew the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not believe in Him! 

The LORD said to Ezekiel, “Yet you will see still greater abominations which they are committing.” He has shown me still greater abominations which His church is committing.

Verses 14-15 — 

Then the LORD brought Ezekiel to the entrance of the gate of the LORD’s house which was toward the north, and behold, women were sitting there, weeping for Tammuz, a false god who was the son of Baal. This was the gate of the LORD’s house — just outside the temple.

Tammuz was though to be a god of agriculture and fertility. Tammuz died every late summer, when vegetation dried up in the land. So, the women were weeping because Tammuz had died. 

So, the next abomination that the LORD showed Ezekiel was His people’s dependence upon a false god for prosperity and fertility.

And the LORD said, to Ezekiel, “Do you see this, son of man? Yet you will see even greater abominations.”

Today’s believers and today’s church commit the same abomination. They depend on the world’s wisdom and ways, which please the god of self. They think they are wiser than the Lord!

When many of today’s believers do not get what they want, and the prosperity and success they greedily seek dries up and fails, they mourn, for their lusts and desires are not met. They do not see that the Lord is disciplining them so that they will return to Him. 

Instead, they even more eagerly and urgently worship the god of self, and chase after false teachers who preach the god of self, because they are assured by such false teachers that the Lord wants to make them successful and prosperous! All they have to do is believe it, and oh, by the way, sow seed (money) into the false teachers’ ministries, and they will get back a hundredfold more money!

Verse 16 —

Now the LORD shows Ezekiel the greatest abomination against Him. He brought Ezekiel into the inner court of the LORD’s house, to the very entrance of the temple of the LORD, between Solomon’s porch and the altar. 

There were 25 men standing there, with their backs to the temple of the LORD, and their faces eastward toward the east. And they were prostrating themselves eastward toward the sun. They were worshiping the sun god!

So, the final abomination that the LORD showed Ezekiel was that by turning their backs to the temple, the leaders turned their backs toward worship of the LORD. They openly rejected Him, and openly worshiped that which was false.

It is the same among many believers and churches today. They turn their backs on the Lord, in favor of worship of the god of self, from whom they believe they will receive all that they lust and desire to have. 

They turn their backs on the truth that they are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit so they become temples of the Lord, as Paul exhorts the believers at Corinth (1Corinthians 3:16). They turn their backs on the truth that they are commanded to offer themselves completely to the Lord, as Paul exhorts the believers at Rome (again, Romans 12:1).

They refuse and refute Paul’s exhortation to the believers at Corinth, in whom the god of self still ruled and reigned —

1Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

Paul asked a rhetorical question. By their actions, the Corinthians did not know, because the Holy Spirit was not in them. If He had been in them, they would have known that indeed, their bodies were the temple of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit! There would be no need for exhortation by Paul.

But they only knew about the Lord; they did not know Him — they did not have a holy, intimate relationship with the Father and the Son — because they did not obey His command to be filled with His Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5). 

Yet in today’s church, believers are taught that the believers at Corinth had already been filled with the Spirit. At best, that is a misinterpretation, but I believe it is a purposeful one. 

The actions of the believers at Corinth belied their claim that they were already filled, for their sin nature and worship of the god of self were in full view! And it is the same today!

False teachers in today’s church teach believers that they cannot help but sin. But Jesus Christ says He will free you from slavery to sin —

John 8:31   So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

John 8:34  . . . “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

And He teaches that those who do not obey Him (that is, those who sin against Him), do not love Him —

John 14:24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”

Verse 17 —

The LORD’s response to those in Judah, and to today’s believers, is shown in the last words the LORD speaks to Ezekiel, in this vision. “Do you see this, son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah (and the church) to commit the abominations which they have committed here, that they have filled the land with violence and provoked Me repeatedly?” 

What violence? Crimes against their fellow man, whom they encourage to do as they do, and perish in hell! 

And how did they provoke Him repeatedly? With worship of false gods! The LORD says, “For behold, they are putting the twig to their nose.” It is an act that signifies they worship the creation (the twig) instead of the Creator (the LORD). By putting creation to their noses, and inhaling the aroma of it, they worship it and thereby defy the LORD.

All of what I have shown you is the fruit of the god of self — both then and now. The church has obscured worship of the LORD and the call of Romans 12:1. With what have they obscured worship of Him, and the offering of believers as living sacrifices? The church has obscured that truth with the abominable idol of the god of self. The leaders, as well as many believers who follow their false teachers, have become an abomination to Jesus Christ. 

Many in the church are led by false teachers down the wide way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). But the fault is in themselves, for they worship themselves, and love the ear-pleasing words of false teachers. 

They choose to refuse the narrow gate, the one where they are commanded to ask their Father in heaven to fill them with the Holy Spirit, so their sin nature, with its lusts and desires, is crucified (Galatians 5:24). I tell you the truth, when the sin nature dies, so does the god of self. 

Verse 18 —

“Therefore,” says the LORD, “I indeed will deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor will I spare, and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet I will not hear them.”

O sinning church and believers who are worshiping the god of self, repent and be restored, while it is still today! A day will come when He can no longer be found or called upon. It will be the day of the Lord, the day of judgment.

Isaiah 55:6  Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, 

for He will abundantly pardon.

Turn from your sin, return to the Lord from whom you have so deeply defected! Call on Him to forgive you and fill you with His Spirit.  He will do it, if you return to Him.

Lord, may believers hear these truths and throw to the moles and the bats the false god of self. Let it be so, I pray. Amen.