A GODLESS NATION

[SW393] 8/31/2019 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2019

“A Godless Nation”

Text: Isaiah 10:5-12, 20-27, etc.

When you see the title of the message the Lord has asked me to speak, you will not think that it pertains to believers. But it was against His own people that He sent an enemy. Why? To discipline and punish them, so they would return to Him. 

Think of it! The Lord calls His own nation godless! He established Israel. He made them His nation. But they abandoned Him, following the ways of the nations around them. 

I tell you the truth, it is the same in today’s fallen church and among today’s fallen believers. The Lord established the church. But the gospel preached from today’s pulpits has been perverted to such a degree that it now contains only lies and twisted interpretations that sound good to the ears of those who hear it. Today’s church and today’s believers have abandoned Him to follow the ways of the world system that defies God, to the point where the church calls evil good, and good evil.

This passage will show you that He is God over all time, all things, and those who are His but who rebel against Him by chasing after foolishness. He raises up the Enemy, Satan, against His church. 

Many in today’s church complain that they are undergoing persecution from factions in today’s society. But today’s fallen church and believers do not see that they are being judged by the Lord, and disciplined and punished by Him. Why does He do it? So you would return to Him, O believer!

You will say, “What? God would not send Satan against me!” But He Himself created Satan, and He says this of Satan —

Isaiah 54:16 “Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and brings out a weapon for its work; and I have created the destroyer to ruin.”

But for those who repent, who become His servants by obeying His command to be filled with His Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5), He promises this —

Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage (inheritance) of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication (declaration as righteous) is from Me,” declares the LORD.

Before getting into today’s scripture, the Lord asked me to say what I have just said. Now, I will show you how Isaiah 10 pertains to the church today.

Verses 5-6 —

Assyria and the king of Assyria, and the punishment meted out by them to the LORD’s people is a matter of history, but Assyria and the king of Assyria are also a type of Satan. And the LORD’s people in Isaiah’s day are a type of the church today.

The Lord speaks of Israel, through Isaiah. Woe to Assyria whom He uses as the rod of His anger and the staff of His indignation against the LORD’s godless nation. He calls them the people of His fury. 

The LORD commands Assyria to punish His people. So why does He say, “woe” to the enemy He uses? Because He knows they will go beyond the punishment He has ordered. They will boast because they will overcome His people, and they plan to utterly destroy His people, so none are left. They will also boast against the LORD Himself, and blaspheme Him.

What has He commanded Assyria to do to His godless nation, His people with whom He is furious? The enemy is to capture booty and to seize plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets — literally, to make them a trampling. Why? They worship false gods, whose root is the god of self, whose root is the sin nature.

The church is His godless nation today. Once again, they have resorted to worshiping false gods, but not only ones made of wood and stone and metal. They worship the god of prosperity, the god of success, the god of the world system that defies God. 

Again, the root of these gods is the god of self, and the root of the god of self is the sin nature you were born with, O believer, as the offspring of Adam. And the Lord has sent Satan to make them a trampling, so they would return to Him.

Verses 7-11 —

Assyria’s plan to utterly destroy is no secret to the Lord. He knew it before anything was — before the earth and the heavens were created by Him. He knows the hearts of all humans. Nothing is hidden from the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13). 

He knew before anything was that Assyria would boast that by their own power, they conquered nations and the gods of those nations. He knew before anything was that they would come to the wall of Jerusalem and blaspheme His name (see 2Kings 18:34-35, 2Kings 19:22). 

Verse 12 —

Therefore, when the LORD has completed His punishment against His godless nation, He will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria. As I have said, He will come as Judge (Revelation 19:11), and will punish the arrogance of Satan by sentencing him to be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).

Verse 20  

Now in that day, when the LORD destroys Assyria, there will be a repentant remnant of Israel who will survive the onslaught of the king of Assyria. There will also be a very small remnant who will survive the Babylonian captivity after Babylon destroys Jerusalem 150 years later. The LORD will strike 185,000 of the soldiers in the Assyrian camp (2Kings 19:35). And the LORD will destroy the Babylonian empire in one night (Daniel 5:30-31), using the Medo-Persians as His instrument of destruction.

What does the LORD mean when He says His people will never again rely on the one who struck them? Ahaz, king of Judah, had made an alliance with Assyria to defeat Syria and northern Israel (see 2Kings 16:7). 

But when He destroys Assyria, the repentant remnant who have escaped death will never again rely on the one who struck them. Instead, they will truly rely on the Holy One of Israel, and no other.

And today, there is a repentant remnant of believers who will not bend to the tremendous pressure to conform to today’s church and today’s believers who have gone far from the Lord and have joined hands with the world system that defies the Lord. The repentant remnant of believers will not capitulate, but will stand steadfast and immovable, truly relying on God their Father, and on Jesus Christ, who fully and permanently indwells them (John 14:23).

Verses 21-23 —

A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob (that is, all of Israel, including Judah). First, they will repent and return to Him, the mighty God. And then, He will return them to the land, and they will become His godly nation.

It is the same today, for all believers who will repent and who will return to Him and obey the Lord’s command to be filled with His Holy Spirit. Then, they will become His godly nation.

Why does the LORD say, “only a remnant? Israel was so numerous, they were like the sand of the sea. But only 48,942 returned from Babylon, per Nehemiah 7:66-67. 

Why will so few return to the land after they have returned to the LORD? Because a destruction is determined by the Lord, overflowing with righteousness. His judgment is always right, because His very nature is righteous. He does not punish the obedient, or the repentant, but those who refuse to repent.

Against the unrepentant, the LORD of hosts (God the Son) will execute a complete destruction — the entire destruction of Jerusalem, and of His rebellious people, in the midst of the whole land. He will do the same, in the church, and among today’s rebellious believers who refuse to repent and return to Him.

Verses 24-25 —

To the repentant remnant, the LORD GOD of hosts says, “Do not fear the Assyrian who will strike you with the rod and lift up his staff against you.” For in a very little while, the LORD’s indignation will be spent and His anger will be directed to Assyria’s destruction, as He has already said in Verse 12.

The LORD of hosts will arouse a scourge against him. As I have said, He sent the angel of the LORD to destroy 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night, in the Assyrian camp, so the king of Assyria withdrew from Jerusalem and Judah, and returned to Assyria. 

But the LORD had further plans against Assyria. Babylon overran Assyria’s armies and became a world empire, until Babylon was overthrown by the Medo-Persians.

In the same way, the LORD will deal with Satan. As I have said, Satan will be sentenced to the lake of fire, as will all who follow him. 

As I have shown you, the LORD knows everything and is over everything. Nothing happens without His permission. He uses Satan today to discipline and punish believers so they will return to Him. 

But of all who are in the church — His godless nation — only a small remnant will return to Him and become His godly nation. Many will disregard and mock the words He has given me to speak. But the Lord has not changed. If you rebel against Him, He will punish you. If you continue to rebel, you will perish (Hebrews 10:26 and elsewhere). 

It is not that His promise in John 3:16 is a lie. It is that you have taken lightly the salvation He has given to you. You have continued to sin against Him, though you should have asked Him to fill you with His Spirit, thereby crucifying your sin nature that chases after the foolish teaching in much of today’s church. 

Repent now, O believer! Become part of the repentant remnant, become part of His godly nation.

Lord Jesus, may today’s believers both hear and heed the truth of the words You have given me to speak. Let it be so, I pray. Amen.

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ISAIAH SESSION 22 — TYRE’S DESTRUCTION

Text: Isaiah 23

If I were going to give today’s teaching a title, it would be “Tyre’s Destruction.” This is the last of the judgments of the nations. But from the outset, it also has parallels in Revelation and in Ezekiel, so I will occasionally speak from that perspective. Next week, we will see the judgment of the earth.

A little background — Tyre and Sidon were prosperous port cities of Phoenicia, and as such, they had a monopoly on sea-borne business. Thus, many countries relied upon them for transportation and trade. But the LORD is about to judge them. 

Isaiah’s prophecy again emphasizes that the LORD is in charge of all history. Only He will stand at the end of things. The wisdom and ways of man, and the natural things and false gods on which His rebellious people have relied, will fall. The world system that defies the LORD, and Satan Himself, will fall. So, now is the time to turn to the LORD and serve Him, and Him only.

Verse 1 —

Isaiah sees and hears a vision concerning Tyre, a port city in Phoenicia. The merchant ships of Tarshish, across the Mediterranean Sea, regularly traveled to Tyre. But now a report comes from the island of Cyprus, off the coast of Phoenicia, that Tyre is destroyed, even its houses and harbor! 

And so will Satan, the figurative king of Tyre, and the world system that defies the LORD. Ezekiel sees the destruction of Satan, who was in the garden of Eden, in Ezekiel 28:12-19 (NIV) —

Ezekiel 28:11  The word of the LORD came to me: 12 “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you 14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones . . .”

Ezekiel 28:15  “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created

till wickedness was found in you. 16 Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,

and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. 17 Your heart became proud . . . 18 So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching.’”

Verses 2-4 —

All inhabitants of the coastland of Phoenicia will be silent, upon hearing of Tyre’s destruction. The merchants of Sidon crossed the sea, and were paid handsomely to bring to other nations the grain of the Nile. Tyre and Sidon’s ships were the marketplace of nations. 

How does this relate to Satan? He is always involved in international trade, but his trade is lies and deception. And now, with television and the internet, he reaches more than ever before with what he sells. He is, after all, the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:1-2).

Sidon is commanded to be ashamed of the stronghold of the sea, possibly a reference to the false god Yam, in whom she relies. Yam is barren — she no longer has any offspring. Her trade has ceased. She is warned that she should not become complacent, for the hand of the LORD would reach her, with His divine judgment! No kingdom could reckon itself immune from God’s righteous wrath.

Verses 5-7 —

The report of Tyre’s destruction reaches Egypt. They are in anguish (writhing in pain) over the news. When they sail by other harbors to Tarshish, across the sea from Tyre, they wail. Tyre, the ancient city, which was once jubilant because of its prosperous shipping and travel industries, has been destroyed. Her feet (ships) cannot carry her trade to other nations, for her harbor and city are completely destroyed. 

Just as with Tyre, the LORD will destroy Satan’s trade and Satan himself. He allows him to roam for now, but his time is coming, and his followers will wail, indeed!

Verses 8-9 —

Who planned the destruction of Tyre, who bestowed crowns of prosperity to those who used her port, who called her merchants princes, whose traders were called the honored of the earth? Who planned the destruction of Satan, whose trade of lies and deception were carried about by his children, whom he called his princes and traders, and honored of the earth? 

The LORD of hosts has planned it, to defile (dissolve) the pride (arrogance) of all beauty (splendor), to despise (bring into contempt) all the honored of the earth. They are neither beautiful nor honorable in His sight. And so He judges the world system who defies Him, and Satan who defies Him. 

Verses 10-12 —

So, the daughter of Tarshish — Tyre, the apple of the eye of Tarshish, is judged, and Tyre flees, overflowing Phoenicia like the Nile overflows its banks in a flood. Tarshish sees there is no more restraint (strength) in Tyre, upon which it has relied. 

The LORD has stretched His hand out over the sea, and He has made the kingdoms tremble. He has given a command concerning the whole land of Caanan, to demolish its strongholds. All of its fortified places will fall. It is the same with the world system that defies God, and Satan who is prince of that system.

The LORD has said, “You shall exult no more, O crushed one. Arise, pass over to the island of Cyprus. Even there you will find no rest.” 

O rebellious believer, O unbeliever, if you do not repent but stubbornly continue in your sin, you will not escape the Lord’s pursuit of you, and you will be judged. It will be the same for Satan, in the last day. 

Verse 13 —

Tyre and Sidon should have taken note of the destruction of Babylon by the Assyrians, who besieged Babylon and stripped its palaces in 647 B.C., making it a ruin. [NOTE: Babylon later rebounded under King Nebuchadnezzar, defeating Assyria and ruling over it.]

But as with His own people, the Phoenicians paid no heed to the LORD’s judgment of other nations. 

Verses 14-16 —

Again, as in Verse 1, Isaiah cries, Wail, O ships of Tarshish! Your stronghold, that in which you trusted, is destroyed. 

For 70 years, the usual reign of a king, Tyre will be forgotten. But then it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the harlot, for like Babylon, Tyre is a harlot in the LORD’s eyes. The song goes like this —

Take up your harp, O forgotten harlot. Draw people to you with your music, so they commit immorality with you. Pluck the strings skillfully, sing many songs, play the harlot so all the kingdoms of the earth who traded with you will return to you, and to commit immorality with you.

Verses 17-18 —

After her 70 years of desolation, Tyre will be restored by the LORD. But she will be His servant, as a supplier of sufficient food and choice attire for those who dwell in the presence of the LORD. Her harlot’s wages and her financial gain will be set apart to the LORD — holiness to the LORD, set apart for those who dwell in His presence. It will not stored up or hoarded by her. 

Historically, Tyre is like a colony of Israel. Her wealth flows to Jerusalem. It is set apart now for God’s use, and He gives it to His own. Though the LORD will restore her for His purposes, in the end, Tyre will be destroyed entirely by the LORD, just as with Satan —

Revelation 20:2 And he (an angel from heaven) laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

But Satan’s final end is swift —

Revelation 20:7   When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

As the New International Commentary on the Old Testament concludes

The glory of the nations is nothing, the wisdom of the nations is nothing, the vision of the nations is nothing, the wealth of the nations is nothing. So, why rely on the nations? Turn to the One who is over all things —

Colossians 1:15   He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Does He have first place in you? Are you trusting in and loving the world system that defies God? Or do you love the Lord who saved you, and obey Him, and serve Him only?

I tell you the truth, you will listen to Satan’s lies and deceit until you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Then you will discern his lies and have power to reject his temptations. That is why Jesus commands you to be filled. 

Lord, may Your people hear and heed, for You are worthy of immediate and complete obedience. May they seek to be filled with Your Holy Spirit, so they are able to defeat Satan. Amen.

FORGETTING GOD

[SW392] 8/25/2019 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2019

“Forgetting God”

Text:  Psalm 50, Romans 12:1

The Lord has asked me to speak to today’s believers, mostly through Psalm 50. In this Psalm, God, the Mighty One, the LORD,  is speaking to believers, then and now. He contrasts two kinds of believers — those who have remembered Him, and those who have forgotten Him. 

I will show you what it is to remember God, and what it is to forget Him. And I will show you how He judges those who remember, and how He judges those who forget. 

Why am I showing you this? Because a day of judgment is coming for believers and unbelievers. He wants to gather you to Himself. He does not desire that you perish, per Peter’s letter to believers, but that you would come to repentance (2Peter 3:9).

Believers who remember the Lord

Such ones do these things —

Psalm 50:5 “Gather My godly ones to Me, 

Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.”

Psalm 50:14  “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving 

And pay your vows to the Most High . . .”

They pay a vow to Him. What vow? They offer themselves to Him, as a sacrifice of thanksgiving for His great mercies to them —

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. (NIV)

Those who remember God and His mercies have cried out to be baptized by Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit and fire, and He has answered their cry. They have lost their lives, and gained His (Matthew 16:25). 

Therefore, they proclaim His mercy to believers, and to those who do not yet believe. They cannot stop speaking about what they have seen and heard (Acts 4:20).

They honor Him by no longer sinning against Him. Their sin nature has been crucified (Galatians 5:24), and their hearts have been purified (Acts 15:9). They say with Paul —

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

They do not think God is like them (Psalm 50:21), but when they have offered themselves, He makes them like Him, because the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit fully indwell them (John 14:23), and they are partakers of His divine nature (2Peter 1:4). 

Therefore, the Lord judges them, declaring that they are His godly ones, and He gathers them to Himself (Psalm 50:5). He hears them when they call on Him in the day of trouble. He rescues them, because they honor Him (Psalm 50:15)

His people who forget God

His people who forget Him know about Him but do not know Him. So, they offer only external sacrifices. He does not judge their external sacrifices. He judges the condition of their hearts and their disobedience to Him. 

He warns His people who have forgotten Him —

Hosea 6:6 “For I desired mercy (chesed, New Testament equivalent agape), and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God (intimately knowing, as in a marriage) more than burnt offerings.”

Beloved, God requires that you ask Him to fill your heart with His divine love. He requires that you know Him intimately, as in a marriage. That is why Jesus Christ commands you to be filled with His Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5). 

But if you have not done what He requires, you reveal that you have forgotten God and are not thankful for His great mercy (chesed, New Testament equivalent agape, God’s divine love) toward you. Therefore, you do not proclaim His mercy to fellow believers, and to the world, and you do not offer yourself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing, which is the definition of true worship.

He judges you for not making a covenant with Him by sacrifice. Instead of sacrificing yourself in view of His great checed, you sacrifice time and your natural resources. He judges you because you sniff at and complain about the time and money you spend, telling others that these things are your sacrifices (Malachi 1:13). Thus, you boast in your outward sacrifices like the Pharisees that Jesus rebukes in Matthew 23:13 and forward, and like the Pharisee in Luke 18;9 and forward. 

He judges you because you disobey His command to be filled with His divine love (Romans 5:5) by offering yourself as a living sacrifice, so you would be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5), and cleansed of your sin nature (Galatians 5:24). 

He judges you for dishonoring Him by not dying to your sin nature by asking Him to crucify it. He judges you for continuing to sin against Him —

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?

He judges you for being merciless toward others (Psalm 50:16-20). He judges you because you think He is just like you, and thus believe that He will not judge you (Psalm 50:21). 

Because of your actions, and because He knows the content of your heart, He judges you, O believer, as wicked.

He commands you to consider this (understand and discern it). He commands you to repent. If you do not, He will tear you in pieces and there will be none to deliver. 

But if you repent and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, if you offer yourself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing, if you cry out to be filled with His Holy Spirit, He will show you His salvation (freedom), freeing you from slavery to sin, just as Jesus Christ promises in John 8:31-36.

If you refuse to repent, you reveal that you have chosen your own ways —

Isaiah 66:3b  . . . As they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations, 4 So I will choose their punishments and will bring on them what they dread. Because I called, but no one answered; I spoke, but they did not listen. And they did evil in My sight, and chose that in which I did not delight.”

I have heard in the public forum that the reason this nation is in such turmoil is because this nation has forgotten God. But unbelievers do not forget God, for they do not know Him or know about Him — it is many believers, church leaders, pastors, teachers, and prophets who have forgotten Him. 

I tell you the truth, when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you will never forget God, because the Father, the Son and the Spirit fully indwell you, and you know God intimately! But the ones who forget Him know about Him, but do not know Him. If they knew Him, they would not say what they say and do what they do.

He asks wicked believers, leaders, teachers, preachers and prophets who have forgotten Him —

Psalm 50:16 “What right have you to tell of My statutes and to take My covenant in your mouth?”

They claim they are saved, despite their actions. But their actions reveal that they have forgotten God and are not thankful for His great chesed. 

They have chosen their own ways, twisting the Word of God so it says what they want it to say, so they can continue to sin.

He judges them because they think He is just like them, and thus believe that He will not judge them. And He judges the false leaders, preachers, teachers and prophets who have taught foolishness to His sheep —

Malachi 2:8 “But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of hosts. 9 “So I also have made you despised and abased before all the people, just as you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality (speaking only pleasant words) in the instruction.”

In His great mercy, He offers you the opportunity to repent today. He commands you to consider (understand and discern) what He has asked me to speak to you today.

If you repent and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, if you offer yourself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing, He will save you (Psalm 50:23), freeing you from slavery to sin. If you do not repent, He will tear you in pieces and there will be none to deliver. 

O believer! O leaders! Turn back to the Lord —

Jeremiah 18:11 “So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying (and today’s church and today’s believers), ‘Thus says the LORD, “Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds (do good and not evil).”’

Behold! These truths are just as applicable today as in the days of the Old Testament prophets. He has asked me to speak them to you, that you would hear and heed them.

Lord Jesus, may today’s believers see, hear and heed Your truth, and repent. Let it be so, I pray. Amen!

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.

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.