Persecution of The Tremblers…Isaiah 66 pt 5

Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed. (Isaiah 66:5)

Isaiah predicted that the larger, more staid and respectable congregation, whose religion was active, busy and very aggressive, but which wasn’t individually spiritually searching, would inevitably persecute those whose religion was acceptable to God, approved of the Holy Ghost.

Your Brethren hated You… Why did they hate them?

It is an age old Biblical pattern which goes all of the way back to Cain and Abel. Remember that neither Cain or Abel were atheists. Nor were they idolaters in an obvious sense.

Both of the Brothers were worshippers of the only True God, The creator and Lord of the Garden. Both of them had been taught to worship by Adam and Eve and both  of them knew that because of the fall, all worship requires blood(death) and sacrifice.

But Cain was a will worshipper. He decided that his fruits and vegetables were sufficient. Abel came near to God with a broken body of an animal from the flock and blood streaming down his fingers. He worshipped according to the God appointed sacrifice and His offering was openly accepted by God.

Every offering is actually a statement of faith, a theological truism, so also is every sacrifice. When Cain offered fruit but not a blooded substitute, He was saying in effect, “I acknowledge God as my Creator who has blessed the fruit of the ground and the works of my hands”. He was owning God as Creator.

But Abel was saying something different, when he drew near with the best of the flock and with tears running down his eyes. He was saying, ” I come to my God knowing I deserve to die because of my sin, please accept this substitute for my life s you have ordained and be propitiated unto me, Oh God!”.

By owning God as Creator but not Redeemer, Cain was ignoring the fall and the requirements wrought by it, therefore His sacrifice was unacceptable to God.

When God called out to Cain, seeking to bring him to repentance and into right relationship with God,  there was no answer.

Instead Cain slew Abel. Why? Because His (Abel’s) works were Righteous. We are told this in First John 3 ,

For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.  Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.  Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.( I John 3:11-13)

Ironically when it says “Cain slew His brother”, the Word “Slew” is a sacramental Word. In a sense He didn’t just murder him. Cain offered his brother up as a sacrifice, not to Gd, but to his own wounded pride and because of the fact that God openly accepted Abel and not Cain.

Such is ever the story with false and insufficient religion, it is violent. If we won’t let Jesus pay for our sins, we will make someone else pay for our sins. Look at Islam, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism and so many other of today’s false but obscenely violent religions.

Consider also the testimony of the times of Saul, when King Saul drove out David and his little flock of outcasts, pursuing them all over the deserts of Judea.

Your Brethren which hated you and cast you out for my name’s sake…

Isaiah is specifically predicting what would happen with Judaism itself, for centuries the only repository of true religion and worship on earth, the custodian of the scriptures and Temple and witness to all of the nations through so many dark and persecuted centuries.

Eventually the religion would calcify into a “Temple Establishment”, a ruling elite for whom the worship became a private enterprise which  kept the secrets and dark sayings of the Kingdom of God to themselves, and which developed an oral law and commentary system which literally made void the scriptures themselves.

To this establishment, with its corrupt high Priests, and exploitive scribal class and even to the collapsed Pharisaic revival ( it started as a reaction to Hellenism and to get Israel back to the Bible) came the Messiah in the first century.

The Messiah would gather a congregation around him, mostly of the poor and afflicted outcasts, publicans, prostitutes and societies’ losers. They heard the Word of God and trembled at it through the teaching and preaching of Jesus and John Baptists who preceded Him.

Thus within Israel we had a congregation within a congregation. At first almost all believers were Jews. Christianity is Jewish because Salvation is of the Jews. We have a Jewish Messiah, a Jewish testament, the apostles were Jewish and the Scriptures they treasured were the Law of Moses and Hebrew Prophets.

Most early believers in Jeshua(Jesus) were Hebrews who still observed synagogue worship and temple services, well into the first century. Christianity was considered a sect of Judaism.

But the older congregation persecuted and rejected the early church as Jeshua constantly wanted his little flock,

These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.  They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.(John 16:1-3)

And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.   (Luke 12:11-12)

The religious establishment will earnestly be able to say “Bless the LORD!” while they zealously throw out of the synagogues the only truly God fearing remnant of the congregation.

In summary, I believe Isaiah was predicting the church, (which was a mystery) . The church was a congregation despised and rejected by the broader congregation, and ultimately expelled out of Israel.

But when God literally came in the person of Christ , an actually called out to them, who answered?

Isaiah is here predicting the same things Zechariah predicted of the “little flock” of the Messiah.

And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me. Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another. And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the Lord. And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.  And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.(Zechariah 11:7-13)

Forty years before the most extractive judgment which ever befell Israel, God sent John the Baptist and then the Messiah himself to literally call out to them pleading repentance,  and a return to the faith of Abraham,Isaac,Jacob,Moses and the Prophets.

Jesus became a kind of touchstone, a revelation of the secrets of men’s hearts. Who really loves God?

When God came unto Israel in the person of Messiah, true Holiness exposed fake holiness. Those who truly wanted God turned unto Christ, those who secretly hated God but pretended piety, turned on Christ with all of the vehemence of their own God hatred, culminating in the cross, the sham trial, the attempt to suppress the resection and the attack on the church.

For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:  Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.(I Thessalonians 2:14-16)

The little flock of cast offs clung to Jesus and found forgiveness nd reconciliation and eventually rebirth!

But the High Priestly establishment, the pharisees and scribes  for the most part, chose their own delusions, and suffered judgment an a long night of exile.

I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.(Isaiah 66:4)

 

 

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They Tremble At his Word…Isaiah 66 pt 4

And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.  And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.   And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.  And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying,  Go ye, enquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.( 2 Kings 22:8-13)

Isaiah 66 presents a sermon given by God himself to his congregation, Israel. He predicts that though Israel is one, God speaks to His people as a duality. There is a congregation within the congregation. The wider and more respectable congregation is very busy, doing things for God, such as sacrificing, building and furnishing a “house for Gd”, holding elaborate services of worship.

But He rebukes their faith as being on the level of the grossest idolatry. Why? They had come to think that they were doing these things for God, as though God needed their efforts. In fact they had reduced the whole enterprise of the Kingdom of God into a man made system of “will worship”, i.e. worship on their own terms and to their own glory, void of any real response to God himself. “When I called, none answered…”, saith the LORD. 

Then God adresses a poor and despised remnant within the nation, and treats their worship as saving faith, approved of the Holy Spirit and the genuine article, although their brothers had cast them out.

They have these characteristics…but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word…(Isaiah 66:2).  

They know their utter bankruptcy of Spirit, they are living in a state of true sorrow for sin, and they “Tremble at the Word of God”.

King Josiah offers an example of this same characteristic.

Josiah commissioned a remodeling project for the Temple had fallen into disrepair as had the worship of the people of Judah. The nation was definitely in decline morally and spiritually.

A scroll was found during the remodeling, which had long been forgotten. It was the book of Deuteronomy, the scroll of the covenant of God. When The King commanded it be read aloud to Him, He saw the implications of the broken law of God for the nation, and immediately instituted a series of national reforms based upon the Word of God.

This man trembled at the Word of God.

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

True spirituality trembles at the Word of God. This expression describes those who see the Word as authoritative, and who receive it with meekness as the last Word on any subject. Paul commended the Thessalonians on this point,

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.( I Thessalonians 2:13)

Because they value it, they put the Word above their own thoughts, opinions or traditional ways of looking at things. The Word is committed to memory, meditated upon, and the one who “trembles at the Word” is eager to understand the teaching derived from it, and is in fact hungry for the Word, ever feast in upon it.

Negatively, they don’t pick it apart, question, deny or loophole it. They do not presume to judge it, for they know that by the Word it is we who shall be judged.

Nor do they see the Word of God as a means to an end, something they can use to their own advantage, or to dominate others.

The Word has shattered them in their own sense of self righteousness, it has prevailed over their own thoughts, and the Word of God takes every contrary thought captive…rejecting the knowledge that exalts itself against the Knowledge of God.

Personal experience is always subordinated to the Word, in the true,God fearing piety. The Word is never denigrated as “mere head knowledge”, “the letter which kills” or “Doctrine”(as if doctrine is a bad thing. The whole approach of much of current evangelicalism smacks of contempt for the Word, not trembling before it.

The Book of the Acts of the Apostles begins with the preaching of the Word by the Holy Spirit, and the response,which illustrates this concept-

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?( Acts 2:37)

When was the last time your own heart was pricked?

 

 

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Believers in The Rapture (shouldn’t fight about it…)

But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.  For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.  But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,( I Thessalonians 5:1-9)

I Do believe we are really close now. Certainly closer than when we first believed.

But I think it a really bad idea(and witness) for believers in the Rapture to fight about it. The goal should be to alert people utterly asleep to wake up and see that Jesus is coming very soon. That is surely something we can all agree with, right? Jesus is coming!!!!

Many do not believe this, even in the church, so we should rejoice in that remnant which does believe in the second coming and the Rapture.

The issue, is to be ready.

Be ready for the Rapture (make sure your sins are forgiven, and your heart is right with God, keep short accounts) and remain ready for the difficulties of the last days. Even if you insist that we will not be going through the great Tribulation, you have to admit that scripture teaches that as we draw near to the end, all believers will be exposed to some greater levels of difficulty and rejection.

“All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution….”

Why fight over the timing? I know, it seems so clear to you, (your particular position) , but is it not possible that people of equally good will can think they see something else (as clearly)?

Someday soon it is all going to happen, and on this point one or maybe all positions currently championed will be proven to be in the wrong. Will we not all rejoice together anyway, and praise the LORD in his presence for coming to rescue us all?

Or do you have to be precisely right on the rapture to get to heaven? (the answer is no, thank God).

This all gets really ugly when disagreement descends into personal attack.

Disagreeing with a particular position on the timing of the Rapture is not necessarily a “Satanic Attack” of the enemy.

Shouldn’t  we all go back to this assumption;  we are brothers and sisters, and we all desperately want Jesus to come back?  Besides this we all share this burden, we want as many as possible to wake up and be saved before the terrors to come descend upon the earth.

I am all for scriptural discussions, and I don’t believe someone has to be a PHD level scholar to engage in them. I do believe that there are people who know more than others, who have a greater education in scripture or capacity to understand Greek and Hebrew which is no doubt a tremendous help. But God can speak to anyone who seeks him and show them things out of his Word.

How about just dialing back and entering into civil and loving discussion ? It is not too late to recover our first love and remember that simple disagreements about issues which are non salvific,  should not make enemies or expose the church to the charge of lovelessness.

Paul tells us that we know in part…(but I thank God for the part I know). Grace and Peace and the Love of the Father be multiplied to you…Maranatha!

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Who Are The Faithful Remnant?…Isaiah 66 pt 3

Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?  For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.(Isaiah 66:1-2)

The LORD addresses his congregation,in Isaiah 66. He speaks to them as a whole people, but within his address, he speaks to them as a duality, there are actually two groups within that one congregation.

The first people the LORD addresses are the majority of the congregation. Among them are the ones who run the business of worship, they keep the Temple going, they offer sacrifices and imagine that they are doing all of those things for the LORD. I refer to the religious establishment and their constituency which consists of the bulk of the ‘people of God’.

This is religion in the sight of man. It is respectable and even impressive, it evokes ethereal feelings of piety and otherworldliness.

But this same expression of religion is rejected in the harshest terms by the Holy God, he likens legitimate sacrifices they have offered as being similar to gross paganism.

The problem was that there was an independence of spirit in the sum of their efforts. They “ran” the religion, but weren’t really seeking or responding to God on his terms. “When I called no one answered”, saith the LORD. They have “chosen their own ways”, in spite of the elaborate apparatus of worship they had built…for God.

But the LORD then addresses a congregation within the congregation. These would be the despised and rejected remnant, for the most part the ones who were actually hated and cast out by the respectable majority, in a similar manner to the way Cain slew Abel.

The characteristics which mark this ‘little flock’ but which the participants of “respectable religion know nothing of, are threefold.

*They are poor in Spirit- Jesus drew from this passage in the beatitudes of the sermon on the mount, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit…”. Blessed are those who know how utterly bankrupt and poverty stricken they are without God.

These people do not imagine they are doing anything “for God”, they are well aware of their own spiritual impotence. God has shown them, that “without Me you can do nothing…”

They are also ever painfully aware of the fact that they are never very far from defecting from God in their heart and mind. They no longer trust themselves. Like Jacob, they walk with a limp, having first wrested with and then simply reduced to clinging to their maker.

Therefore they cling to him, their worship of God is an expression of that complete need for Him. Real Faith is based upon the sense of that need. This is the true spirituality of the Remnant, devoid of self confidence,”confidence in the flesh” as Paul would put it.

Do you remember the Proverb which is a prayer?

Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:  Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:  Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.(Proverbs 30:7-9)

What is this man really saying to the LORD? I believe he is saying “Lord, Help Me! I no longer trust myself…I am liable to do anything…ever ready to defect, if  given the right circumstances…”. 

The poor in Spirit have given up on themselves, they see nothing good within, nothing to boast of, nothing to be self confident or self satisfied in… these are the remnant.

*They are contrite- Contrition is a word that has come on hard times these days. But it is an essential element of true spirituality. It is a word which simply means “sorrow for sin”.

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.(Psalm 34:18)

Blessed are those who mourn…

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.(Psalm 51:17)

Various strains of Psychology have all but wiped out any sense of contrition in our generation. It treats all guilt as a malady to be dealt with, and to be removed through therapy and self esteem.

Even in the church there is very little teaching on the horror of sin, the damage sin does to the soul and to God’s order, and almost none on the idea that all sins are a direct affront to God.

If God has mercy on a soul He will unveil to that person the enormity of sin.

How evil is sin? Look at what God has had to do as a remedy to it… it took nothing less than the crucifixion of the Son of God, at the hands of sinful men, as well as his temporary rejection and banishment from fellowship with the Father to remove it’s stain and power.

All sins are against God. Let that fact sink into your soul. David pled in Psalm 51,

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. (Psalm 51:1-4)

All sins are against God primarily, and secondarily they damage and hurt men. Murder is a sin against God, because a man bears the Image of God. Adultery is a sin against God, who is the author of marriage.

Any real conversion has this element, deep sorrow for sins committed.

To this day I cringe at times forty years later at the remembrance of the things I had done in my wayward youth, or even indwelling sins such as pride, lust, or wrath, since the commencement of my discipleship.

Had I not been forgiven for those things when I called upon Jesus? DefinitelyI have and joyfully received his forgiveness.  But there is forgiveness of sins and there is the lifelong transformation wrought by the Holy Spirit which seeks to eradicate entirely any and all sympathy for sin in my life.

I Love God and hate the fact that my sins have offended him.

None of my sins have ever brought me any joy either.

A true worshipper hates and fears sin in his own life. He has an ever growing awareness of what He is being delivered from, and cannot get far enough way from it.

The lack of this attribute of contrition is a sign of false conversion.

*The true remnant  trembles at His Word  –  The Word is a means to an end, to the main congregation. They often consult experts on the text, who explain away the uncomfortable parts of the Word of God, they are not afraid to correct the Word whenever it runs counter to current popular presuppositions. Their whole approach to scripture guarantees that they will never really be able to “get it”.

They may admire the Word, they may even make a public show of reverence and preference for it, but whenever the Word of God says one thing and the “Experts” say another, They go with the “experts”, for they have no real reverence for the Word of God, it has never made them tremble.

When Darwin recycled and gave scientific respectability to the theory of Evolution, countless pastors and teachers defected from the Biblical teaching, because they didn’t want to seem ‘primitive’ and unlearned. They denied Christ and destroyed the faith of many, because they put worldly respectability over the Word of God.

The same thing is happening now with issues like Homosexuality. So many ‘ministers’ dread being accused of being unloving and irrelevant. Oprah Winfrey asked Rob Bell, who claims to be an evangelical, “how close is the church coming to accepting Homosexual marriage?”

“I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other and just want to go through life,” https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/20/rob-bell-oprah-gay-marriage_n_6723840.html

But the true remnant trembles at the Word of God.

The Word of God came to me as a nineteen year old student. Reading the sermon on the mount rocked my whole world. I didn’t understand most of what I read, but the Words hit me so hard, I just knew I was liable to Judgment, and came under conviction of my sins.

The same Word which convicted me so, eventually revealed to me the doctrine of substitution, that Jesus took my place on the crds and bore my sins and condemnation before God himself.  I trembled with sheer joy when I learned 2 Corinthians 5:21.

For He made Him to be sin, who knew no sin, that we might be made the Righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

The remnant doesn’t bring the scripture up before their own bar of judgment, for they know it is the Word that judges and searches us. We believe the scriptures are the Word of God. We don’t “use’ the scriptures, or “work” them. We believe God will speak to us though them.

One of the things which make the remnant “tremble”, is the searching power of the Word. under the preaching of the Word, the secrets of our hearts are revealed. We love the messenger of the Word who convicts us of our sins.

We can  never merely dismiss the threatenings of the Word, they make us tremble even though we know  we are being saved.

We search the scriptures, seeking Jesus in them, and listening to what the LORD shall speak, we love the Bible, and the God revealed in the Bible.

Deuteronomy tells us what it means to have a God,

Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.  He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.(Deuteronomy 10:20-21)

To Him shall you cleave and swear by His name…

God is the one I primarily quote, His Word is my “expert”, I go by what he has said in other words, Scripture settles all arguments, the Word is authoritative, the final Word on anything is scripture.

To Love God is to Love His Word, to fear God is to Tremble at His Word.

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They Have Chosen Their Own Ways… Isaiah 66 pt 2

Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?  For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.  He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.  I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. ( Isaiah 66:1-4)

The Most High addresses a congregation, in Isaiah 66. They are the same congregation, and consider themselves to be brothers, sharing the same religion, but there is a dualism within the message. there are really two congregations, or there is a congregation within the larger congregation.

To the larger congregation, God rebukes their worship in the harshest terms. Though they are very busy about their religion, building the Kingdom, erecting a large sanctuary, offering the sacrifices prescribed by God,.

But it is obvious that the Holy God rejects and rebukes their entire religious enterprise. Not on the basis of improper sacrifices, but on the state of their hearts. These people had come to actually believe that God needed their efforts, and that in a sense, it was God that was the dependent, and they who kept the business of religion going.

Furthermore these attributes exalted and corrupted these worshippers, into an approach of  de facto independence from God. The show would go on, with or without seeking God’s will or preference. They were self willed, and eventually fit the New Testament description of “Will Worshippers”. “They have chosen their own ways”.

Jesus taught a parable about this in the New Testament, which was a variation of Isaiah’s own song of the Vineyard,(Isaiah 5). In Jesus rendering of it, the Vineyard is leased out to tenants,

And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.  And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty.  And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.  And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.  Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.  But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.’  And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.  What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.  (Mark 12:1-9)

Notice how those working in the Vineyard had gotten to the point where they forgot that they were but tenants? They ran the Vineyard as though it were their own, and came to the point where the actual owner of the Vineyard, could elicit no response, when he came for his dues.

Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations… because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear…

In spite of all of the good works and elaborate worship services, there was no real response to God Himself… .

God speaks to us, as long as we have ears to hear. God would direct and guide those who see their need for such direction. “Seek and Ye shall find…”.

How did it all begin for you and me? God spoke to me, through personal conviction of my sins. There can be no doubt in my mind, God called me, and I answered Him. The Word of God staggered me, it hit me in the heart, I heard clearly what He was saying to me, in every verse and sermon, all was tremendously personal. Right?

How long has it been, that you can say God has spoken to you?

The danger the prophet and Jesus himself warned of, is that at some point people quit listening (really listening) to God, and lose the capacity to so much as perceive his call.

This can happen in every facet of spirituality; It is not uncommon for  one to involve himself in worship, or in discernment, apologetics, or church organization, (they have made a science out of  church growth), demonology or eschatology,  all of which have their place, as do other wider secular pursuits, i.e. politics culture wars etc.

One can immerse themselves in any and all of these pursuits, completely absorbing yourself in them, without sensing any personal need of God whatsoever. Years can pass by quickly without any sense of God speaking anymore, and very little reflection upon it.

Real faith is a matter of hearing God speak, and responding from the heart. Real faith is based upon a tremendous sense of personal need.

Thus the true congregation is described as being “even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. ” 

stay tuned….

 

 

 

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Where Is The House You Will Build For Me? …Isaiah 66 pt 1

A Sermon from Isaiah 66

Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?  For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.  He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.(Isaiah 66:1-4)

 

In this text we have the LORD address a group of his own confessing people. Yet within this address it is obvious that he is really addressing two peoples, a congregation within the congregation.

The larger congregation is impressively active , going about the business of worship. They are building an elaborate temple for the LORD and offering multitudes of sacrifices also. But their entire  enterprise is rebuked and rejected by the LORD in shockingly harsh terms.

For example, the LORD himself ordained that oxen be sacrificed, but here he tells the larger congregation that their sacrificial killing of the oxen was similar to the sin of murder! We all know that lamb also was the God ordained offering for certain aspects of worship, but He tells this congregation that their lambs were no different than if they hd offered dogs, with broken necks!

Perhaps the harshest condemnation of their worship, was when he likened the lighting of incense (as proscribed by the LORD) to pagans blessing an idol. How could doing so many right things be found to be so wrong?

The passage begins with a God given glimpse into the doctrine of the immensity of God himself. Heaven is His throne…do we even have an idea of what that means? There are three “heavens” in Creation, the atmosphere around the earth, outer Space and the place called Heaven, the abode of God.

How immense is the second heaven, outer space?  The late Dave Hunt gives us an idea of it in his book Cosmos,Creator and Human Destiny,

Even if we could build space vehicles that might travel at the speed of light, it would take 100,000 years to cross The Milky Way, our relatively small galaxy, and billions of years to reach the trillions of galaxies beyond. These facts show how foolish is man’s dream of “space exploration.”

But God made the heavens and calls each star by name. He doesn’t merely number them, He knows them ll by name.

When Solomon was used to build the Temple of the LORD, he dedicated it with a prayer,  part of it being a humble acknowledgement that there is no way possible for any man to truly build a house for God,

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? ( I Kings 8:27)

The Holy House was a God ordained concession to man, God needs no House, and man would be inadequate to build Him one in any other sense.

But the larger, busier congregation actually imagined that they were building for God, and doing for God and that their activities were a credit to God and something which He needed and they were providing. Man centered religion is intoxicating, it feels good but isn’t based on reality, and particularly it is ignorant of the reality of the Majesty of God.

Such man centered religion is corrupting, it is based on confidence in the flesh, and a sense that ‘we are doing something for God’ as if the Most high needed us!

It is called “Will worship” in the New Testament. Worship indeed, but willful, and self oriented and exalting. The Will-worshippers have created for themselves a religious system, run on their energy and zeal.” We have built a house for the LORD!”,

Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,  (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.( Collossians 2:20-24)

We see a similar admonition given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount;

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.(Matthew 7:20-23)

Once again these people are busy. They run about casting out demons, prophesying and performing signs and anders, but they are utterly shocked to find out, at the judgment day, that Jesus disowns them! They would have sworn up and down that they were in the cutting edge of God’s work on earth, they were the warriors, the end times company, the real “inner court”Christians, better than the more staid and quiet Christians around them.

This verse frightened me when I realized as a young Christian, saved in the charismatic movement, that these manifestations were all charismatic. It seemed as though Jesus was describing everyone I knew! The Power people! How could we be disowned by God after serving him so powerfully?

What is he saying here?

Perhaps help comes to us when we look closer at the phrase “Depart from me, you that work iniquity…I never knew you”. The Word ‘Iniquity’ is another name for “lawlessness”.

Jesus isn’t repudiating the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit here. What He is saying, in our own vernacular is simply this,

“When it comes down to it, You people always did your own thing, you never submitted to me  (Jesus) for your approval.”

The sin is called WILL WORSHIP.

Have the followers of Todd Bentley or Bill Johnson seen a lot of powerful things? Definitely? They have seen healings , miracles, heard prophecies, spoken ‘words’ over each other, and many other manifestations in the name of JESUS.

Do they submit to JESUS? No! If they really submitted to JESUS they would insist that all of their ‘teachers’ be biblical, and they would test their ” Prophets” biblically, but they don’t and won’t.

They do what they want to do, hear what they want to hear and pursue power, because they want power.

Yea they have chosen their own ways…   

As Jeremiah once warned the congregation in His day…

A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? (Jeremiah 5:30-31)

In the end…what will come of the Will Worshippers? Are they even saved?

stay tuned

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Frogs Out Of Their Mouths…Euphrates 10

And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.(Revelation 16:12-16)

This vision has several components which we will break down a piece at a time.

 

  • The Great River Euphrates drying up-  We have already been considering the significance of the Euphrates. The Euphrates river is where four end times Angels are bound, awaiting a specific Year, Month, Day hour and minute to be loosed. They will then wreak such judgment upon the earth, that one third of men will be killed.
  • Turkey has claimed control of the Euphrates, and has even used that control to cut off the flow of the Euphrates into Syria, as this Middle East Monitor article reveals,Criticism of the Turkish government has been voiced by civil society activists in Northern Syria concerning Turkey’s control of the River Euphrates. In recent weeks, the Turks have stopped the flow of water into Syria from the mighty river, which has its source in Turkey’s Taurus Mountains before flowing into Syria and on into Iraq. The Euphrates is the main source of water for the Northern Syrian province of Raqqa.( Turkey’s Control of The Euphrates might Lead to Disaster)
  • The Kings of The East-  The Euphrates river was considered the frontier of the Roman Empire. Rome was never able to conquer the lands beyond it and feared any Persian incursions from East to West. Who are the Kings of the East? This could mean an Oriental confederation coming over in the very last days, engaging with the Kings of the North and South and the Beast of the Revived Roman Empire.
  • Unclean Spirits like Frogs- The plagues coming on the whole world in the book of Revelation, resemble the plagues which once came upon Egypt, in the days of the Exodus. But these ‘frogs’ are Spiritual beings, ‘unclean spirits’, intelligent entities who come straight from the Dragon (Satan), and head for the Kings of the earth to deceive them.
  • The Mouth of the Dragon, Beast and false prophet-  Satan, the AntiChrist and the false prophet all spew the same rhetoric, they are all  communicators, as in the garden of Eden, when Satan seduced our first parents by lying words. Here the words of the unholy Trinity become the vehicle of unclean Spirits, luring and deceiving the Kings of the Earth into full scale war.

We have seen this phenomenon in the book of Kings when we are given a glimpse into the counsel of the Most High and his Angels. Two Kings wanted to seek God for council of war. False prophets assured both to go ahead into battle, but neither Ahab nor Jehoshaphat bore witness to the false utterances. They wanted a real prophet.

Micaiah was sent for and was told by Ahab’s counselor to give a favorable word to the Kings.

And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. And the Lord said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.  And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.  Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee.( I Kings 22:19-23)

The Lord used a ‘lying spirit’ to lure the evil Ahab into war. We are told in 2 Thessalonians 2, God will send “strong delusion’ in the end, upon those who reject the ‘love of the Truth’.

  • The Spirits of Devils Working Miracles-  The deception will not only be limited to Words, there will be World leaders who will actually perform miracles, as though they were prophets of God or in the end, they will claim to be God. We already have begun to see this phenomenon, for example  Pope Francis has been credited with several miracles and signs…                                                                                     Performing miracles is nothing new to Pope Francis. Last March, authorities attested that he turned the dried blood of St. Gennaro into liquid in Naples, Italy. Just last month before he began his visits to Cuba and the US, Pope Francis abruptly stopped his motorcade in the rain and asked his aide to bring to him the baby he saw being lifted at the barricade by her parents at St. Peter’s Square. The Pope briefly placed his palm on the chest of the three-month-old girl who was suffering from Down’s syndrome and had two holes in her heart. Later when the doctors checked on the baby, they found one of the two holes had completely closed while the other one was reduced to half its former size. (The Healing Pope)
    I am a charismatic Christian who believes in the gifts of the Holy Spirit as described in the New Testament, such as Healing and deliverance of those afflicted, I have no problem believing in healing. But what kind of miracle is  turning an ancient vial of dried blood into liquid? Did Jesus ever do anything like that?

Muslim Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey also is known for miracles,

THE Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was making a campaign speech in Istanbul last week when he noticed a woman in the crowd had fainted.After ordering supporters to bring her to him, he reached down to touch her, at which point she recovered, seizing his hand.“God is great!” the woman shouted. The crowd roared in approval.To his supporters, Erdogan is a miracle worker and the saviour of Turkey. For his opponents, however, the adulation has gone to his head. After 11 years in power as prime minister, there seems no limit to his ambitions.(Miracle Worker Erdogan Poised For Presidency)      

The World is slowly being conditioned to seeing their political leaders as something far more than mere public servants or even successful politicians. We saw in people like Obama, an almost Messianic expectation, and in the case of the POPE and Erdogan, they have broken over into the working of ‘miracles’.

The Mystery of Iniquity is already working. Scripture will lead us to know that this is the nature of the coming deception-

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.  And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.(2 Thessalonians 2:7-12)

Newly elected Emmanuel Macron of France revealed this shift into a pseudo spiritual expectation of political leadership, when he announced days after his election, that he wanted to have a “Jupiterian rule”, i.e. he wants to tule as the Roman god Jupiter. Who thinks this way?

This is not your father’s political talk, right?

  • .They go forth unto the Kings of the Earth-   These unclean Spirits are sent to the Kings of the earth, an oft used designation in scripture, which refers to far more than mere political leaders. The Kings of the earth are the ruling elite, the experts and pundits , the opinion shapers and molders, the educators, political and entertainment powers, those who fill our most formative institutions such as law, education, medicine, and religion.
  • We are told in the second Psalm that the Kings of the earth have “Taken council together against the LORD and his Messiah…” and have sought to cast off the bondages and restrictions of the Judeo /Christian God. Now evil Spirits are sent to them, that they might lead the earth into the destruction of the Day of the LORD.

Everything begins in Euphrates. The garden was there, Humanity fell there, four major Spirits are bound there, and four ancient world powers there are currently being revived as restive, violent Beasts, (interestingly, all of them happen to be Muslim).

I hope you can see it clearly now, the vision is soon to be fulfilled. I pray we all take to heart the ancient prophecy of Isaiah,   “Seek ye the LORD while He can be found and call upon Him while He is near!”

 

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