Isaiah 8:5-8 ESV
The Lord spoke to me again: “Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.”
Here we are in 2020, living in various countries throughout the world. And, the world around us appears to be falling apart at the seams. People’s lives are in disarray. Many people are confused about what is coming next, for the messages keep changing. Gatherings of the church have been cancelled, some indefinitely. Stores and restaurants are shutting down. Parks are closing, as are public schools. People are out of work, incomes slashed.
Grocery shelves are completely empty or supplies are greatly limited. And, most everyone appears fearful of getting a novel virus, so people are being told to separate from one another. Gatherings of people can’t be more than a group of 10, or in some places the people have been commanded to remain in their homes and to be with no one else until further notice. Travel plans, weddings, graduations, and the like have been cancelled. It is like the world at large is on hold until the “powers that be” tell us otherwise.
A lot of people, I would imagine, are questioning God, and they are wondering where he is in all of this. Well, he has an answer for that, I believe, and it really comes down to the question of where he has been in our hearts and lives for the past so many years.
Has he truly been Lord (owner-master) of our lives? Has he been the one directing the affairs of our lives? Or, have we largely been ignoring him while we have gone our own way? Have our lives been committed to him, to walks of obedience to his commands, and to leaving our sinful practices and our idols behind us? Or, have we largely been making our own plans, deciding our own future, while giving him a “passing hi” on a consistent basis?
The Lord, I believe, is answering those questions for us. He is saying that his people, at large, at least in the western world, have been living worldly lives with little regard to him and to his commands and to his will and purposes for their lives. He is an afterthought, if on their minds much at all, for many are all caught up in their own plans and in being entertained. But, they have not been honoring him as Almighty God, and they have not consistently been walking in his ways, and in his truth, and in his righteousness.
Isaiah 8:9-10 ESV
“Be broken, you peoples, and be shattered;
give ear, all you far countries;
strap on your armor and be shattered;
strap on your armor and be shattered.
Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing;
speak a word, but it will not stand,
for God is with us.”
And, so he is allowing all this disaster to come upon us in order to turn hearts back to him in full surrender to his will and to walking in his truth and in his righteousness. For, he is getting us all ready for his return, I believe.
So, during this time of trouble and hardship he is calling out to his people to be broken and contrite in heart towards him, to humble ourselves, to pray, to seek his face, and to turn from our wicked ways, and then the healing will come. But, the healing may be of heart and mind and spirit and not a promise to return life to us as “normal,” especially since “normal” meant the vast majority of his church was living in idolatry and adultery towards him.
And, if all we are looking for from God is for him to take away our suffering and to return life to us as it was before, then we are not really broken and contrite of heart, and we have totally missed the point of all of this. For, the point is to get us all back in pure fellowship with our Lord, despite what is going on in the world all around us.
Isaiah 8:11-15 ESV
For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”
Again, this is the object of our present suffering, to get us all to not walk in the ways of the world, but to get us to walk in the ways of our God in pure holiness and righteousness and in his power and strength at work within us.
Now, regarding “conspiracy,” this calls for much spiritual discernment. For, we may be calling things “conspiracy” that are, in fact, based in reality, and so we may be closing our minds to the truth while embracing the lies. But, on the other hand, we may be ignoring voices of reason who are warning us of true conspiracies because we have been brainwashed to ignore such cries.
So, how do we know what is true and what is a lie? Well, if what is being said is contrary to the teachings of scripture under the New Covenant, taken IN CONTEXT, then we might assume that what we are hearing is a lie. But, we have to be so careful here for lies can appear to be very biblical, too. So, we need to still call on God and pray for wisdom and discernment and not fall back on what humans have taught us, but to hear the wisdom of God.
Now, if what we are hearing is not discernible via scripture, such as someone might tell us that we are all going to be quarantined for up to two months, then we need to take it to the Lord in prayer, seek his face, and ask for wisdom. For, it may be true, but it may be a lie. But, what is the bottom line here? True or a lie, we still need to trust in the Lord and not fear.
For, we are not to fear our circumstances or what men may or may not do to us or when they may or may not do it to us, but we are to walk in the fear of God. We are to commit our ways to the Lord, and walk in them, daily listening to what the Lord would want to say to us, and then do what he says to do. Just test everything you hear against the teachings of scripture, and against the divine nature of God, and then rest in the Lord in all things.
Isaiah 8:16-22 ESV
Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?
To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.
It may seem that God is hiding his face from us right now, but I guarantee he is not. He is a loving dad who is correcting his children so that they might revere him, honor him as the holy God that he is, and so that they might leave their idols behind them to follow him in obedience to his commands.
In these troubled times, we should not be seeking the counsel of men, or of our government leaders, or of some preachers or counselors, etc, all of whom may not be listening to the Lord at all. We need to be in the Word of God while it is still available to us, pouring out our hearts to God over his Word, drinking in what it says, and then doing what it teaches us.
Instead of just waiting and hoping for this situation to end so we can resume business as usual, we need to surrender our all to the Lord and do what he says to do with what time we have remaining on this earth.
Soldiers of Christ Arise
Lyrics by Charles Wesley, pub. 1741
Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies, through His Eternal Son.
Strong in the Lord of Hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.
Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last.
Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul;
Take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole.
From strength to strength go on; wrestle, and fight, and pray;
Tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well-fought day.
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