Isaiah 9:8-12 ESV
“The Lord has sent a word against Jacob,
and it will fall on Israel;
and all the people will know,
Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria,
who say in pride and in arrogance of heart:
‘The bricks have fallen,
but we will build with dressed stones;
the sycamores have been cut down,
but we will put cedars in their place.’
But the Lord raises the adversaries of Rezin against him,
and stirs up his enemies.
The Syrians on the east and the Philistines on the west
devour Israel with open mouth.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.”
The people of God were under the judgments of God, but instead of calling on the Lord during this time of disaster, they were arrogantly declaring how they were going to rebuild what the enemy had destroyed, not on a spiritual level, but on a physical level. Only they were going to make things better than they were before, therefore despising the very reason for the judgments in the first place.
So, the Lord put them in their place. He let them know that he was still God and that he could and would bring even greater disaster upon them, and that his anger against them had not turned away, but that he would continue to bring judgments against them.
In the New Testament we read that those whom God loves he disciplines (reproves, chastises). He said that if we are left without discipline then we are illegitimate children and not sons (and daughters). For, God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. Although the discipline is painful, later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb 12:1-11; cf. John 15:2).
But not everyone responds well to discipline and to correction. Especially if they are living in spiritual adultery against the Lord they may balk at any form of divine discipline and correction and continue on as though it did not phase them one bit. Or they may not even realize that what is happening to them is God’s way of trying to get their attention and so they may just go on with their lives, business as usual, rebuilding what was torn down.
Isaiah 9:13-17 ESV
“The people did not turn to him who struck them,
nor inquire of the Lord of hosts.
So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail,
palm branch and reed in one day—
the elder and honored man is the head,
and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail;
for those who guide this people have been leading them astray,
and those who are guided by them are swallowed up.
Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men,
and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows;
for everyone is godless and an evildoer,
and every mouth speaks folly.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.”
When the Lord disciplines us we need to immediately call out to him in prayer, seek his face, and inquire of him as to what he wants us to learn and to do and to hear from him. We should ask him if there is a lesson to be learned or if we need some correction in any particular area because we are not living to please him or if we are displeasing him in one specific area.
One thing that comes to my mind is when Covid hit us all in March of 2020 and we were placed under lockdown and church gatherings were closed down for a period of time. Not too many people I heard from at that time were thinking that God caused or allowed this to happen for a purpose and that he had a lesson for his church to learn.
Backing up here a little: March 3, 2020, a tornado ripped through Nashville, TN, and it caused an enormous amount of damage to houses and buildings, including to some buildings where Christians met together for worship, which are called “churches.” And since we had friends and family who live there I wanted to know what was going on so I checked it out in the news.
A building where a gathering of Christians met was damaged and their steeple which had a cross on top of it was now lying on the ground pointing to a handicap parking space (1). The video I watched and recorded for myself had the camera panning down the steeple away from the building to the cross while my husband was playing “All the Way My Savior Leads Me” in the background (unknowingly of what I was recording).
I felt strongly that the Lord was giving a message here that he is leading away from these buildings called “church.” Most of these “church” gatherings have become secularized, worldly, partnered with the world, with the government, and with big business, and they have altered the gatherings of the church and the gospel of Christ to make them both more acceptable and palatable to the world and to human flesh. He is leading us away from these.
Where was he leading to? To the cross of Christ which is presently on the ground in a handicapped (a circumstance that makes progress or success difficult) parking (motionless, not moving) space (place, condition). The message to me could not be more clear.
I believe God used this tornado to get the attention of his people to show them that through this he was leading them away from institutional religion back to the cross of Christ and to the true gospel which is suffering right now at the hands of those who are diluting it to make it more acceptable to the world. He wants his people to come to him to find their only hope and not to these institutions of men who are leading them away from the cross.
Now this was March 3, 2020 that this happened and that same month a pandemic was declared globally and we were put under house arrest and ordered to wear masks and to social distance from people and the doors were closed to these institutional churches and people could no longer go to them. Coincidental? I don’t believe so. I believe God orchestrated it all to let his people know that he wanted them to come out of Babylon and to be separate and to lead them back to the cross of Christ as their only hope.
But did a great revival break out when all of this happened? No! At least not that I am aware of, and I certainly don’t know everything. From where I sit and observe they did not miss a beat and as soon as they could they reopened the doors to these institutional churches and the people returned to them, but not all of these congregations survived. They were thinking about how they were going to rebuild or get back together and most, as far as I can tell, were not thinking that God may have a message for them.
And now look at where we are today. It has continued to spiral downward and Christians are mainly still going on with business as usual talking about what is going on in their lives and in their communities but not many who are really seeing the hand of God in what we are going through. They are not seeing that God is doing all this because his people are living in spiritual adultery against him, and they aren’t getting it that he doesn’t want them in these institutional market-driven gatherings called “churches.”
The Lord Jesus is calling all of his children back to the cross of Christ, back to purity of devotion to him, back to repentance, back to renewed faith and commitment, back to walks of obedience to him, and back to making Jesus our only Lord and Master and to living our lives to please him in all ways.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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