Favor or Curse?

Sunday, August 27, 2017, 4:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Bless This House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 26 (Select vv. ESV).

In Perfect Peace (vv. 1-6)

In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

“We have a strong city;
he sets up salvation
as walls and bulwarks.
Open the gates,
that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
For he has humbled
the inhabitants of the height,
the lofty city.
He lays it low, lays it low to the ground,
casts it to the dust.
The foot tramples it,
the feet of the poor,
the steps of the needy.”

The day being spoken of here is a day of judgment on the inhabitants of the earth for their wickedness, including the wickedness of those who proclaim God Almighty as their Father and Jesus Christ as their Savior. It is a judgment of God against all sinful rebellion, immorality, arrogance, abuse, wickedness, idolatry, spiritual adultery and unbelief. Yet, the purpose of this judgment in these last days is not just to punish wickedness, but it is to revive God’s adulterous church and to bring many people to salvation in Jesus Christ before the day when our Lord returns for his bride.

In that day a song will be sung among the saints of God. It will be sung by those who survived the judgment and who honored the Lord by their lives and by their faith, endurance, steadfastness and faithfulness. They will sing a song of praise to God for all that he has done for them, and in them, and through them. They will thank him for his great salvation, and for bringing them into his eternal kingdom, the city of God, which is a spiritual city, not a physical one. They will acknowledge the Lord as their Savior, their helper, their Lord, and their strength. He alone is the one who saved them, who delivered them out of Satan’s grip, and who brought them from death to life, and out of slavery to sin to now live to Christ and to his righteousness.

Although the world is in utter chaos, and wickedness is spread far and wide, and there is much danger, sword, and strife all around us, we can live in perfect peace inwardly if we keep our minds focused on Jesus Christ, and we do not let the cares of this world or the wickedness of other humans undo us. We must always keep in mind that our God is absolutely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made, and he has a plan and a purpose for all that he allows, and through it all he will gain the glory and the praise. So, we need to rest in him, believe in his promises, trust his Word, and follow him wherever he leads us, and do whatever he instructs us to do.

Path of the Righteous (vv. 7-11)

The path of the righteous is level;
you make level the way of the righteous.
In the path of your judgments,
O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance
are the desire of our soul.
My soul yearns for you in the night;
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
If favor is shown to the wicked,
he does not learn righteousness;
in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly
and does not see the majesty of the Lord.
O Lord, your hand is lifted up,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed.
Let the fire for your adversaries consume them.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he did so in order that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. When we believe in Jesus to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-18). This is what it means to be born again of the Spirit of God. The old has gone. The new has come. We were walking (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but now we are walking by faith in the opposite direction, according to the Spirit of God. For, the Lord, through his death and resurrection, made the way for us to now walk in his righteousness and holiness, in all uprightness, honesty, integrity, and in undiluted (unmixed) faith and devotion to him.

Where we once craved the desires of our flesh and the pleasures of this sinful world, now our desire is for our Lord to please him in everything. Instead of yearning after what our flesh desires, we now yearn (long for) God and his holiness. I’m not saying we do this perfectly, though lack of perfection should never be used as an excuse for willful defiance against our Lord or for willful and continued sin against God. But, we should be growing in the grace of God, maturing in our walks of faith, and our desire for God should be daily increasing, while the cravings of this sinful world should be dissipating from our lives.

What we often consider to be the good things of this life are not always a blessing if having them means we are far from God, so sometimes favor can be a curse, and judgment a blessing. Sometimes having many possessions or affluences can be a curse and not a blessing. So, just because we have money and possessions, it is not necessarily a sign that we are being blessed by God. What good is it if we have much in the way of the things of this world but they keep us from following the Lord with our lives, or they don’t lead us to follow him in obedience? And, instead, we become lazy and wicked and rebellious because we have too much, and thus we don’t know what it means to really have to rely on the Lord and not on ourselves?

Other Lords (vv. 12-15)

O Lord, you will ordain peace for us,
for you have indeed done for us all our works.
O Lord our God,
other lords besides you have ruled over us,
but your name alone we bring to remembrance.
They are dead, they will not live;
they are shades, they will not arise;
to that end you have visited them with destruction
and wiped out all remembrance of them.
But you have increased the nation, O Lord,
you have increased the nation; you are glorified;
you have enlarged all the borders of the land.

The peace that we need is not world peace where everyone joins hands with one another and sings “Kumbaya.” True peace is not tolerance and acceptance of all religions and all walks of life. It is also not lack of judgment of what God calls sin. True peace never compromises with the world of sin nor does it compromise the Word of Truth in order to not make waves. The peace that we need, as the people of this world, is peace with God, which only comes through faith in Jesus Christ, which results in obedience to Christ and to his commandments, not a watering down (diluting) of the gospel in order to “make nice” with the world.

When we try to “make nice” with the world in order to be accepted by them or to join in with them, thinking that is the way we will win them over, or because we desire sin more than obedience, and thus we compromise our faith, we allow “other lords” to rule over us in place of Jesus Christ. These “other lords” can be other people, Satan, the things of this world, sin, fear, or whatever we have made to be our idols, such as entertainment, pride, position, influence, and/or reputation, etc. The Bible says that we are slaves to whatever or to whomever we obey, either to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness (Ro. 6:16).

But, it is the Lord’s will that we should live holy lives, pleasing to him, so if we will not do that of our own choosing, and if we continue to give ourselves over to idolatry and to spiritual adultery, because God loves us, he will discipline us in judgment in order to prune and purify us, and to revive us, and to put to death those idols in our lives so that we can walk in purity of devotion to him alone. Then, we will be able to say that those “other lords” are now dead and that they will no longer arise because God has put them to death in our lives in order that we might walk in his holiness and righteousness, and so that we might follow him in obedience to his will for our lives. And, then God will restore, revive and purify us and make us holy and fit for his service, so that we can be a light for him in a dark world.

Bless This House
Helen Taylor / May H. Morgan

Bless the people here within,
Keep them pure and free from sin . . .

Bless us all that we may be,
Fit O Lord to dwell with thee . . .

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