The Pen of the Prophet

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Isaiah was not your average card carrying prophet of the times.  His message flew towards the hearts of Israel like keen edged arrows.  They were sharpened with anointing and launched with zeal, yet, these words were often scorned and ridiculed but in time they would proven to be frightfully true.  Then it would be too late.

From his quill he worded divine phrases that originated far from his desk.

“Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and writers who keep writing oppression to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right; that widows may be their spoil and that they may make the fatherless their prey. “ 

Israel had left her moorings in YHWH.  What had begun as a weak tribe that cared for its members and took care of each other had become a metropolis of unfettered greed and secularism. She had slowly but very consistently wandered from the paths of His righteousness to the point that recovery was impossible. Legislators composed laws that would oppress the people and steal their lands through a form of “Eminent Domain.” The powerful preyed on the widow, a signal of the poor, and would abuse the worker with unjust wages.

The dearth of genuine pursuit of God resulted in an internal weakness that formed a kind of “imperial rot” among this once noble nation. The Power that once guided them through impossible difficulties would now turn against them and the only defense they had for that was DENIAL!  “YHWH would never turn on his people, we have the temple! We have the law. We are the chosen ones.” And so denial was well entrenched in the hallowed halls of politics and religion.

But the prophet is about to shatter their illusion. An army is coming from the north that will undo everything achieved over the past three hundred years. The history of their great leader David and the magnificence of Solomon’s empire will be swept away by a cruel and vicious people who will show no mercy but most surprisingly of all, they will be a people equipped and sent by YHWH himself.

“Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury!  Against a godless nation I send him and against the people of my wrath I command him…”

Here is what seems a strange thing indeed – God enforces Israel’s enemies to come up against her and to conqueror her and all with the strength provided her by YHWH.  Assyria will come and repay for what Israel herself is guilty of; she will take the spoil, seize the plunder and tread down the residue.

This ambition does not come from Assyria herself but rather YHWH births it.  He is behind the scenes prodding Assyria to come to Israel to render His judgment.

But in Assyria’s’ victory he is destined to become proud and arrogant, assuming falsely that he was the one who did this great feat.  He boasts that his own hand has gotten him the great victory and YHWH will punish the “Speech of the arrogant heart.”  .

The prophet foresees that when God has finished his will on Mount Zion having used Assyria to accomplish his will, he then will punish the arrogant heart and the boastful look of the king of Assyria.  He too will be judged.

Now give close attention to the following!

The United States in a similar way has been used to right injustice, tear down evil regimens, topple ruthless dictators, liberate the oppressed and in so doing build an accord with those rescued countries for profit and gain.

But it would seem that our victories have been annulled by our arrogance.  We have forsaken God, only calling on him when we want a divine endorsement for our conquest or to protect our cherished barns of riches, which one could call our economy. Our alliances with long-term allies are deteriorating, as they feel increasingly used by the Great Eagle.

God is not just forgotten in our country but rather he is wholeheartedly rejected.  We scorn him and make light of him.  We do not consider nor declare that it was He who used us to topple evil.

Now, we have become that evil!    Everything is imploding around us.  Government cannot govern. Our Chief Executive appears to play more than lead. The economy is driven by greed and not helping others.  Our enemies are attacking from all sides and our borders are no longer borders but rather open gates.

The moral fabric is in a state of rapid extinction as this once great nation proudly declares, “By the strength of my hands I have done it.”

But the ax has no right to boast against the one who uses it. This “imperial swagger” opens the way for a wasting sickness among his stout warriors and a consuming fire beneath the glory that was once shone by her citizens

Assyria had a divine role in the scene of Israel’s history  – but then the powerful one committed national suicide by boasting that it was from himself that the victory came.

America could learn from Assyria… but she will not.


10:1 Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees,
and the writers who keep writing oppression,
to turn aside the needy from justice
and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
that widows may be their spoil,
and that they may make the fatherless their prey!
What will you do on the day of punishment,
in the ruin that will come from afar?
To whom will you flee for help,
and where will you leave your wealth?
Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners
or fall among the slain.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.

Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger;
the staff in their hands is my fury!
Against a godless nation I send him,
and against the people of my wrath I command him,
to take spoil and seize plunder,
and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
But he does not so intend,
and his heart does not so think;
but it is in his heart to destroy,
and to cut off nations not a few;
for he says:
“Are not my commanders all kings?
Is not Calno like Carchemish?
Is not Hamath like Arpad?
Is not Samaria like Damascus?
10 As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols,
whose carved images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria,
11 shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols
as I have done to Samaria and her images?”

12 When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. 13 For he says:

“By the strength of my hand I have done it,
and by my wisdom, for I have understanding;
I remove the boundaries of peoples,
and plunder their treasures;
like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones.
14 My hand has found like a nest
the wealth of the peoples;
and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken,
so I have gathered all the earth;
and there was none that moved a wing
or opened the mouth or chirped.”

15 Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it,
or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it?
As if a rod should wield him who lifts it,
or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!
16 Therefore the Lord God of hosts
will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors,
and under his glory a burning will be kindled,
like the burning of fire.
17 The light of Israel will become a fire,
and his Holy One a flame,
and it will burn and devour
his thorns and briers in one day.
18 The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land
the Lord will destroy, both soul and body,
and it will be as when a sick man wastes away.
19 The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few
that a child can write them down. (ESV)


10:1 Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees,
and the writers who keep writing oppression,
to turn aside the needy from justice
and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
that widows may be their spoil,
and that they may make the fatherless their prey! (ESV)


Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger;
the staff in their hands is my fury!
Against a godless nation I send him,
and against the people of my wrath I command him,
to take spoil and seize plunder,
and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. (ESV)


12 When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. (ESV)

Seasons

 

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Here in Mexico we live with basically two seasons, dry and wet.  On the one hand there is apocalyptic drought while on the other there is constant rain, flooding and travel detours.  But somewhere between these two extremes for a brief few months we live in the “moderate middle.”  This is when the flowers are at full bloom, the temperature very pleasant, the birds are happy, the grass green and the sky clear. There is a feeling that makes one think, “This is it.”  The days become almost idyllic. During these times if a cloud comes over the Lake one would think it is an event!  But…. “Perfection” can be boring! After awhile we start looking for the smell of rain or, writing our names on the back windows of our cars in the dust.

The point I want to make here is that life is not one continuing straight line of tranquility or struggle.  It is a wonderful mixture of both high and low moments, gains and losses, joy and sadness.  To put it succinctly, life is seasonal! We enter one while leaving another but it seems we are always in transition: fixed towards the goal but ever changing as we approach it.

I am changing!  You are changing! Does that scare you?  Would we prefer to remain the same and know what we are dealing with, or would we take the risk to change and discover the next season with all its adventure?

It would seem to me that the only danger we face is to stop the journey, make camp, and put down roots where we are.  I think then we would discover what real prison is.

Stoppage!

But these seasonal changes inserted into life by Him are not repetitions of the past. They are  paths to newness, a higher communion, a stronger divine hug.  They are the discovery of what did not serve me in the days behind and an entrance into an “other life.”

Take my hand O Lord. Let’s do this together!

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord when he delights in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, of the Lord upholds his hand!” 


23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way;

Psalm 37:24

23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way;

Psalm 37:24

24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand. (ESV)

Welcomed Struggle

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Self-imposed struggle has become an apostrophe, a footnote of sorts in this modern age of the church. We strive to reduce our efforts by diligently searching the easiest way to a goal or by using purchasing power to acquire a lifestyle of relative ease and comfort. Yet such weak pursuits give evidence all the more for our need for self-imposed struggle.

Paul does not seem to be focusing mainly on eating less or planning more exercise. He is pointing to the voluntary negation of entitlement, that laying aside what is lawfully his for the better good of others.

It is a rare thing indeed to see someone put aside his privilege in this day of acquisition and consumerism for the sake of someone else.

Perhaps the times cry out once again for such strange people!


22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. (ESV)

The Lap

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He is not a champion, no ribbons, no medals, but he occupies a place above multitudes because he is mine.  He came to us by way of the Veterinarian. Living in the streets of Guadalajara he was hit by a car and crawled into a friend’s restaurant broken, skinny afraid and alone.

His family was never found so he came to us and became a “Whitener.”  Meals were welcomed but such abundance was hardly known. You could tell by his protruding ribs.

He walked around those first few days in a daze.  Not really knowing who we were, cautious of the other dogs (who welcomed him to their bowl) he slowly began to adjust.  Through the process he latched on particularly to me. He would walk with us up the mountain and find his place at my feet.  But feet were not enough for him.  He soon found what he was looking for, a lap.

Now he owns it.

Bud is constantly by my side. He is there when I wake up and when I go to bed.  When we walk the mountain, Mandy, our Standard Poodle, will lead the way but Bud lags behind walking always by my side. The speed of the climb is not determined by Mandy but rather by his master.

When it comes time for a bath he grudgingly submits but when it is all over the play begins.  Nothing feels so good as being clean!

There were times when my work would cause me to be gone sometimes for weeks and weeks.  But he never despaired. Coming home after a long absence I would see his head outlined against the dark room peering out the window like he never left the whole time.  His head would begin to sway as his tail danced!  It looked like he was grinning. The door opens and I am greeted by pure joy!

Bud was not bought in a store or from a breeder, he was found and he seems to know it.  Always thankful for the slightest attention he lives for one thing, me!

My friend has taught me much. For many of us there were no accolades in our past to warrant being chosen.  Instead, for most of us we came by way of the “Veterinarian,” broken, malnourished, afraid and abandoned.  Colliding with cruelty we found refuge by a stranger who took us in.  There were others that we found different from ourselves but they shared their “bowl” with us.  We had become one of them.

In this new environment it was evident that something mysterious had happened to us.  We didn’t know what it was called but we knew it was real. Things were different. But most of all, the one thing that stood above all the rest was this “Stranger” who took me in.  We began to hear his voice.  His smell became familiar.  His spanking was hard but so were his hugs.

At times we could not find Him.  Long periods of absence were dark times but hope kept us at the window. There was no interest in the “bowl” or in the fun of “walking the mountain.”  All that mattered was “When will I see Him again?”  And then….  From the dark street emerges the One I love!  Our hearts skipped a beat and we could hardly wait for the door to open.

In He walks.  Majestic, filled with hugs and kisses we sit without formality rolling on the carpet. The long wait is over. He is here!

The lap!

It is on the lap where His hands just rest upon you, were you kiss them. It is there where you smell His breath, hear his breathing and stare at His face.

On the lap I am safe!

On His the lap I am home!

Controlled Substance

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TEXT:
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight”
( ESVST)

This verse is deeply profound, filled with meaning that we may all to frequently over look. It announces the unimaginable riches of His grace being lavished upon us beyond all limits. This gift super abounds! It exceeds a fixed number and speaks of extravagant excess. It is the amply Divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in daily living! And… it leads to redemption through a sacrifice, namely, the sacrifice of Christ’s blood.

It was the ”Riches of His grace” that inundated earth to bring men to Christ. No back alley, no homeless shelter, no corporate boardrooms, no elementary or college classroom, no place on earth finds escape from this divine invasion!

Yet, this infinite grace is not haphazardly cast upon us. It is not just a general “blessing” of sorts that is poured out without consideration. As a matter of fact Paul points out that great attention has been given to its distribution. Paul says it like this, “…In all wisdom and insight.” In other words He has given the abundance of the riches of His grace within the boundaries of His wisdom and insight. It is clearly seen that this gift was a deliberate and wisely calculated one.

You might call it a “Controlled Substance.” Given to aid, given to heal, given to save but given under strict guidelines and limitations, namely His wisdom and insight.

Looking at this I stand in even greater awe at the substance of His grace. It puts my salvation in a new perspective; I see what I did not see. Perhaps that is what Paul means in the next verse when he says, “Making known to us the mystery of His will…”

Mystery is uncovered and revealed to be Christ Himself.

So grace is not like a Christmas gift that was bought as a second thought or because of a sale. It is a gift with immeasurable thought behind it. This lavished grace is calculated and corralled by infinite wisdom, divine insight and mysterious love.

Enjoy it. Revel in it and… handle it carefully.

Controlled Substances require great care!

JWIII


In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight (ESV)

Going to Bethany

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 Perceptions are quirky things. They are conclusions formed through our personal experiences – history – prejudices – fears – knowledge and hopes.

Sometimes they are accurate and sometimes they are not.  Nevertheless these perceptions are the end results of a unique filtering system that each one of us has, even Thomas!

The scene.  Jesus has been told that his friend Lazarus is dead. He deliberately waits two more days before starting out to Bethany. Earlier in the week Jesus and his disciples had escaped out the hands of an angry mob that tired to arrest him and kill him.  The event of the angry riot is still fresh on everyone’s mind.  The “mob” is an unpredictable thing.  It can be a passive assemblage of people and then turn into a dangerous weapon within minutes.  The disciples had seen its fury before and now Jesus says, “We’re going back!”

When Jesus speaks there is no discussion, no arguments to change the Master’s mind.  They know by now that He is not following the “whims” of man or desires of His own but rather His steps are to fulfill the will of His Father.

Vs. 16, “Then Thomas called the twin said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us go that we might die with Him.”

Perception!

His mind filters the Master’s command and all he sees is the crowd’s anger, Jesus bent on returning and a funeral for thirteen men.

But Thomas has yet to learn that Jesus is no ordinary man.

Perhaps he considers, “Who is this Lazarus fellow that would put us and our Master at such high risk? Is this man worth dying for?”

But perceptions as we mentioned earlier can be flawed.  Jesus commands His death. He will give His life at the right time but not now!

Thomas doesn’t understand and neither do we.

Jesus goes back to the danger of the crowd to raise the dead not be the dead!

A whole different perspective has been discovered. The filter systems are unreliable.

This all so different!

This is no ordinary man!


Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (ESV)

High Seas

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Headed Home

Zechariah is commissioned to prophesy to the over 40,000 people who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and its city after 70 years in Babylon.  Other prophets were used to encourage the weak to be strong and finish the task of rebuilding but it seems Zechariah’s task was different.  His message was one aimed at the heart more than the hands.

The people are hard at work. They have left everything to come back to their homeland; there is sweat, aching muscles and daily challenges, not to mention being surrounded by enemies that want to put a stop to the work.  Here enters Zechariah with a different word.

“Return to me … that I may return to you.”  ()  I can imagine the people wagging their heads thinking, “What! We have left it all to return to the promise land and you still want more?”

It appears that Zechariah saw something that we often miss.  Namely, you can be about the work and still do it alone!  The temple was a showcase of sorts, evidence of a people who had been hand picked by God for a distinct purpose, but Zechariah would not let that purpose be substituted by a lesser work.  Their purpose in all of their travels, rebuilding and hardships was to return to YHWH!  The message was clear, this task speaks of rebuilding, not one of stones but of the heart. It is the rebirth of a nation that has been given a second chance.

But these who hear his voice are not the only ones who will return.   There are others in distant lands that will hear the “Whistle” and come home, much like the prodigal son.  Yet, their return will not be easy.

   “ And he will pass through the sea of distress and strike the waves in the sea.”

In other words, coming home won’t be easy!  It never is.

My Prodigal child, do you think that that the sea will part, the devil applaud and all your old friends admire your response to the “Whistle?”  Be certain, they will not!  You have sailed these waters before but now they are unkind, harsh, and dangerous.  The prophet called it the “Sea of Distress.” But the One who whistles will not leave you floundering like a ship wrecked sailor in the storm.  You WILL PASS THROUGH and you will learn to STRIKE THE WAVES and arrive to your appointed destiny!

There you will learn to swim in the “High Seas,” not  in a child’s placid swimming pool.

Peter could have something to say about that!

Those at “Home” are waiting for you!

 


Therefore say to them, Thus declares the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. (ESV)


10:1 Ask rain from the Lord
in the season of the spring rain,
from the Lord who makes the storm clouds,
and he will give them showers of rain,
to everyone the vegetation in the field. (ESV)

The Genesis of the Cry

 

 

The_Scream

Sometime between 1893 and 1910 Edvard Munch was inspired to paint the painting you see.  These are his words…

“I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature. “

Arriving home he began painting “The Scream,” an icon of sorts for modern man’s anxiety. It is the wail of common folk in the midst of economic uncertainty, global confusion and political tyranny and incompetence.  The scream is increasingly becoming more intense, more raw.

But it is not new!  It appears as a re-occurring theme in the Psalms most clearly seen in .

Here the lyrics sing a song of an encounter between need and infinite supply, torment and hope.  It is a cry from the gut, not a swift eruption of fear or reaction to pain; it is something much deeper than that.  It is a cry of anguish, pathos, and torment: one of exhaustion. It is quite frankly very human!

The writer goes through four stages, layers you might say, to come to this painful honesty with YHWH.

is a remembrance of the times when…. It is more than nostalgia but rather a rehearsing of a history that reverberated with the great exploits of God in the past.  But accurate history detonates genuine praise.  Following the history review you see phrases like,

“You are my King O God,”

“Through you we push down our foes,”

“In God we have boasted continually.”

“We will give thanks to your name forever.”

Remembrance of the past exploits of God sets the stage for and explosion of genuine, heart pumping praise! But even in praise there can be pain.

The second stage found in is one of honest strain.  The distress is not removed by memories of the past but actually propelled by them.  This strain is the natural emotion that harbors the cry.

“You have rejected us”

“You have made us turn back”

“You have made us like sheep for the slaughter”

“You have sold your people for no profit”

Such honest admissions find little room in today’s contemporary church because we think it is a denial of faith.  Yet the Psalmist answers this accusation in “ I believed even when I spoke, ‘I am greatly afflicted.’” I would propose that in the depths of affliction faith arises like a “phoenix” out of the ashes and overcomes despair! Faith transforms the anguish to solid hope that is yet to be seen.

But the song continues. Now comes forth a defense, not an excuse but a solid defense based upon fact.

“All this has come upon us though we have not forgotten you?”

“…We have not been false to your covenant”

“Our hearts have not turned back nor have our steps departed from your way”  

It is almost as if the Psalmist is saying “Lord we have remained faithful but you’re not showing up like we thought!”  “We have done everything right according to plan but its not working out!”  One can feel the unprocessed emotion in such a dialog. 

The “genesis” continues. A question arises, a question that the Psalmist is not afraid to utter.

“Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?” (: 24)

This is no cheap shot at God!  It is a serious inquiry launched from a heart of pain but at the same time filled with distant hope!  It is a question that all of us at one time or another has dared to ask.  But, as often is the case questions convert to screams.

“Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!”

Now, anguish is released!  The cry is born! The scream is liberated!  The heart is honest!

In my own experience I have found that God is not offended by such brutal frankness. Unbelief is another thing but YHWH welcomes this sincere inquiry. It is welcomed so the One who rules all might answer it.

Jesus, the One acquainted with pain and grief hears and is ready to answer the scream of Edvard Munch and yours as well!

Parents always hear the screams of their children!

 

JWIII


44:1 O God, we have heard with our ears,
our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations,
but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
but them you set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them.

You are my King, O God;
ordain salvation for Jacob!
Through you we push down our foes;
through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes
and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah

But you have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies.
10 You have made us turn back from the foe,
and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You have sold your people for a trifle,
demanding no high price for them.
13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
the derision and scorn of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
15 All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face
16 at the sound of the taunter and reviler,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.

17 All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten you,
and we have not been false to your covenant.
18 Our heart has not turned back,
nor have our steps departed from your way;
19 yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
and covered us with the shadow of death.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
22 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

23 Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
24 Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly clings to the ground.
26 Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love! (ESV)


44:1 O God, we have heard with our ears,
our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations,
but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
but them you set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them.

You are my King, O God;
ordain salvation for Jacob!
Through you we push down our foes;
through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes
and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah (ESV)


But you have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies.
10 You have made us turn back from the foe,
and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You have sold your people for a trifle,
demanding no high price for them.
13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
the derision and scorn of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
15 All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face
16 at the sound of the taunter and reviler,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger. (ESV)


10 I believed, even when I spoke,
“I am greatly afflicted”; (ESV)


44:1 O God, we have heard with our ears,
our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations,
but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
but them you set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them.

You are my King, O God;
ordain salvation for Jacob!
Through you we push down our foes;
through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes
and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah

But you have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies.
10 You have made us turn back from the foe,
and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You have sold your people for a trifle,
demanding no high price for them.
13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
the derision and scorn of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
15 All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face
16 at the sound of the taunter and reviler,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.

17 All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten you,
and we have not been false to your covenant.
18 Our heart has not turned back,
nor have our steps departed from your way;
19 yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
and covered us with the shadow of death.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
22 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

23 Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
24 Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly clings to the ground.
26 Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love! (ESV)

The Prophets speak in 2014

The prophets 1

Recently I was with a group of men who were discussing the Old Testament Prophets and how their message relates to our present times.  The conversation followed the path that I have heard many times before, attempting to interpret current policies, world economy, political figures and military might.  No doubt these prophetic announcements of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the rest, spoke beyond their times all the way to us but the temptation we face seems to be to fixate on explaining what is happening around us today.  We are deeply ingrained with the question “Why is this happening.” We want answers to what is happening on the news. Yet in our attempt to answer this we may miss the whole point of the prophetic narratives.

It would seem to me that the prophets spoke of the nations such as Babylon, Egypt, Assyria more as backdrops to the main character of the narrative namely Israel.  Why do I say this?

Peter gives us a hint as to how to approach such matters.  In 2Peter3:11-14 he speaks of the last days , a new heaven and a new earth, the burning of the elements and a promised new righteousness to come.  But then in he states “ Therefore beloved since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish and at peace.”

The message is clear. The emphasis is not on what is going on around me; it is on what is going on in me!  The focus is on the heart rather than the alignment of nations and despots.

These words of the Seers give us hope and strength in these unstable days.  How? By knowing we are not the first to feel the oppression of Egypt or the rage of Babylon.

The prophets do indeed speak today.

They warn.

They strengthen,

And they point to absolute victory!

Modern day prophets would fare well to do the same.

“ Therefore beloved since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish and at peace.”

JWIII


14 You have made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples. (ESV)