Monday, July 16, 2018

spiritual battle, Mighty Warriors (Is.13)

Within the twofold prophecy for Babylon, we see that God will use His "mighty warriors" to help execute His anger. 

One of the prophecies has already happened in 539 B.C., when Babylon was overthrown.  As well, sometime in the future, the capital city and headquarters for the Antichrist will be called Babylon. 

We know that the Lord of Hosts will use both angels and people at the Armageddon Battle, so it is totally feasible that God did the same with the first incident...

(Isaiah 13:1-5)  The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.
Lift up a standard on the bare hill, raise your voice to them, wave the hand that they may enter the doors of the nobles.
I have commanded My consecrated ones, I have even called My mighty warriorsMy proudly exulting ones, texecute My anger.
sound of tumult on the mountains, like that of many people! A sound of the uproar of kingdoms, of nations gathered together! The Lord of hosts is mustering the army for battle.
They are coming from a far country, from the farthest horizonsthe Lord and His instruments of indignationTo destroy the whole land.

From this we see:
- angels are mighty warriors in God's army
- angels are called "instruments of indignation" (Is.13:5)
- angels are used to destroy and execute God's anger

Personal experience:  I'm just curious where the idea came from that angels were these cute little flying babies!  It probably feels "safer" to certain people when the world is filled with such adorable, sweet ideas, rather than facing the truth. 

Today's takeaway:   If people would understand how fierce and mighty God's army is - and that God is mightier than all of them put together - then - they would have to take God very seriously!   We ARE to fear God!!! 

(John 3:31-36)  “He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. 33 He who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

And yet, Jesus is so loving and patient.  At the time of our conversion is where we see the "baby" theme.  Right after becoming a believer - we - are babies!  And just like babies, new believers in Christ require a lot more attention and patience - nurturing and encouraging (NOT, "Hm, THEY became a Christian???  Well, let's just see how long THAT lasts!!!)...

(John 3:4-8)  Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

We can also get very impatient with ourselves in wanting to "grow up too fast". There is a danger to that, because when one is still immature (not knowing the Bible and doctrines well enough), our ideas of what that actually means can be distorted.  This is when we can struggle with pride and comparing ourselves to others...

(Matthew 18:1-6)  At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Then there are the believers who never want to grow up!  They remain spoiled little brats who feel entitled and want everything to be done for them.  As God is our heavenly Father, He wants the very best for us - and that includes wanting us to grow up!  For our own good, we need to start growing up!!!...

(1 Peter 2:1-2)  Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvationif you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

(Hebrews 5:11-14)  Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

When we "grow up" and mature, this is what success in our lives will look like...

(2 Timothy 3:10-17)  )  Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

spiritual battle, Do Not Consult the Dead (Is.8)

The Israelites were not relying on God, and although forbidden and warned, they were still relying on other things, including diviners and enchanters.  And so, the Lord of Hosts was not going to protect them from the Babylonians, but allow them to go into Babylonian captivity...

(Isaiah 3:1-3)  For behold, the Lord God of hosts is going to remove from Jerusalem and Judah both supply and support, the whole supply of bread
And the whole supply of water; 2  the mighty man and the warrior, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, 3  the captain of fifty and the honorable man, the counselor and the expert artisan, and the skillful enchanter...

Within the words that the Lord spoke to Isaiah, he was told that no matter what the others do, he was to fear the Lord of hosts and seek consultation from Him.  Even the mediums and spiritists - if they were honest - would say, "Why consult the dead on behalf of the living, when one can consult God, Himself?"...

(Isaiah 8:11-22)  For thus the Lord spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying,
12 “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ in regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it.
13 It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread.
14 Then He shall become a sanctuary; but to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, and a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
15 “Many will stumble over them, then they will fall and be broken; they will even be snared and caught.”
16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. 17 And I will wait for the Lord who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.
19 When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. 21 They will pass through the land hard-pressed and famished, and it will turn out that when they are hungry, they will be enraged and curse their king and their God as they face upward. 22 Then they will look to the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be driven away into darkness.

From this we see:
- diviners, enchanters, mediums and spirits consult "the dead" for people who believe this will help them in some way, but most of it is fake, and if it is real, the words received would be from demons
- engaging in the world of enchanters, mediums and spirits only leads to darkness
- demons cannot shed any light and  do not speak truth, only God's word is truth and is the only absolute and trustworthy standard as the final authority (Is.8:20)
- we are to fear the Lord of hosts who is all-knowing and all-powerful, and is enthroned over all angels and demons

Personal experience:  over the years, I have met a few people who have admitted to being witches.  A few of these believed and claimed that they were GOOD witches.  Yet there was still a darkness that hung over them. 

How can one use evil and curses and spells in order to bring about good?  These are just very dark attempts to manipulate situations and other people.  And the "goodness" that they are trying to conjure up (or out) is what?  And to what end?  To what purpose?  It is all self-serving and self-appointed.

Today's takeaway:  even God does not manipulate!  With God's love, there is patience and kindness and selflessness and goodness...

(Romans 5:6-11)  For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

(James 1:16-17)  Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

(Psalm 31:19)  How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You, which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men!

Friday, July 13, 2018

spiritual battle, Seraphim (Is.6)

Throughout this book, Isaiah keeps referring to the Lord of hosts as he goes over the Israelites' history, as well as gives prophecies of what will happen to Israel in the future.

In chapter 6, we see an amazing vision of heaven.  While reading through the entire Bible leading up to this, we have only come across cherubim (angels who guard the holiness of God).  Now we see another type of angel described with some detail:  the seraphim (a name which is derived from a verb "to burn" as in an agent to cleanse)....

(Isaiah 6:1-4)  In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said,
Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.”
And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.

As Isaiah stood before the Lord, he felt his sinfulness and unworthiness.  God took the initiative to have a seraphim proceed with a temple ritual.  Isaiah's sins were not "cleansed and forgiven" as God would forgive our sins now (which include all sins: past, present and future).  This would have been more familiar to the Israelites' sacrificial system and their cleansing rituals (a constant and temporary forgiveness of specific sins as it was before Christ's death and resurrection).  Even in heaven, fire is used for cleansing.

And just like the Israelite priests back then, the seraphim was only acting as the agent to facilitate the cleansing of sins.  It is always God who does the forgiving.  Observe the angel's words carefully, he never said, "I" have forgiven...

(Isaiah 6:5-7)  Then I said,
Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

From this we see:
- seraphim are a type of angels with  6 wings, 2 to cover their face, 2 to cover their feet, and 2 to fly
- seraphim are agents to cleanse, thus far, we know that they are in heaven near God's throne
- their voices are powerful and cause foundations to tremble

Personal experience:  the television sitcom "Friends" is definitely NOT a Christian show by any stretch of the imagination, and none of the characters portray a Christian.  But every so often, Hollywood unwittingly trips over a truth (like the unconditional love that all the friends seemed to have). 

There was a particular episode where Joey insisted that selfless good deeds don't exist, so Phoebe was determined to prove that they do.  She tried many things but failed at every attempt!  To succeed, she finally donated some money to PBS - which was a station she really hated - therefore it was a good deed without any reward to her.

The problem is that most often people do something good in order to get something back in return, whether it is praise, or a gift, or to look good to other people, or to feel good about ourselves so we can pat ourselves on the back...

Today's takeaway:  we can see that in this fallen world, it would be impossible to do a good deed while keeping one's motives pure.  When all unbelievers stand before God at the White Throne Judgment, they will be judged for all sins committed.  They will not be seen as holy and their "good deeds" will not be seen as worthy...

(Isaiah 64:6)  For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

But as Christians, we will be judged and rewarded according to our good deeds done with pure motives.  How is this possible?  The answer is always -  God!

The following scripture is a glimpse into what is waiting for all believers when we get to heaven.  When we stand before Jesus, because of His work on the cross, we have been totally forgiven of all sin and God chooses to remember them no more.  Therefore we will be seen as holy and worthy.  There will be no need for further cleansing. 

Below is a description of the Bema Seat (judgment), where all our good deeds will be tested by fire and we will be rewarded for those works done with pure motives...

(1 Corinthians 3:9-17)  Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.