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Leviticus 23:15-21

The Feast of Weeks

15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: 16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD. 17 Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD. 18 And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the LORD, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the LORD. 19 Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. 21 And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.

The third annual sabbath was to be held fifty days after the sabbath of the passover. Although the Jewish writers believed that this referred to the first day of unleavened bread, I believe that it refers to the weekly sabbath during unleavened bread, because we have seen that Jesus Christ was risen to be the first fruits and that was the day after the weekly sabbath. If we count fifty days from the sabbath, or seven weeks beginning from the first day of the week, we will have a holy day that is always on the first day of the week. It is sometimes called the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Harvest, or the Feast of Pentecost.

The number one in scripture signifies a new beginning. So it was ordained by God that Israel should celebrate their first full harvest in their own land on the first day of the week. Furthermore, it appears that this was also the day that God made His covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai. It was a new beginning for the congregation, the time for a new covenant and a new relationship with their God.

The majority of Christian churches have ceased from celebrating these annual sabbaths, because they are supposedly Jewish holy days. This is not true. Israel did not ordain these days... God did! Furthermore, He said in verse 21 that it should be a statute forever. Jesus kept the annual sabbaths and He is our example. The Apostles kept them and they are also examples for us to follow.

Some might claim that Jesus was the fulfillment of these days, but that is not the case. Jesus was the fulfillment of all the sacrifices that were made, but each of these days represents a milestone in God's plan for us, some of which have not yet been fulfilled. Jesus said that not one jot or tittle should fall from the law until all of it has been fulfilled.

While we are no longer under the condemnation of the law, but under grace, we are not given the liberty to ignore it. In fact, we should rejoice in the celebration of these feasts, because of what they represent.

The Feast of Pentecost represents the harvest of God's people. At Sinai, they had come out of the bondage of Egyptian slavery and were gathered together into a congregation of God's chosen people. In Canaan the first complete harvest of their crops in the Promised Land was celebrated as the evidence of God's faithfulness to his promises.

But, what would have happened if the Apostles had not kept the feast? Beginning in Acts 2:1, we can read about them gathered together in one accord and there was another new beginning, a new harvest for the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit was poured out upon His people and they preached His word with a new power and authority. Three thousand new souls were added to the congregation on that day. What a harvest!

I have discovered in my personal life that faithful obedience to God's word always brings marvelous blessings, sometimes too awesome for me to comprehend at one time. So, I do not advocate keeping the law in any legal sense, because that is a worthless act. We cannot earn our way into heaven. Instead, be obedient simply out of love for the Savior and out of the joy that it brings to be living, thinking and working in harmony with Him.

Before The Throne:

Ask God to show you how you can begin to keep His holy days, even if your church does not. Ask Him to help you get your household in order, so that you and your own can experience the wonderful blessings that come from obeying Him. Ask Him to help you share the truths of these holy days, how they portray His entire plan for His people, to other Christians. Ask Him to help you present them lovingly and not legalistically. Thank Him for giving us these days of rest in which we can take the time to get to know Him better.

For Further Study:

(v.15) ** Lev 25:8; Exo 34:22; Deu 16:9-10;

(v.16) ** Act 2:1

(v.17) ** two wave: Num 28:26; ** leaven: Lev 7:13; Mat 13:33; ** the firstfruits: Lev 23:10; Exo 22:29; 23:16, 19; 34:22, 26; Num 15:17, 19-21; Deu 26:1-2; Pro 3:9-10; Rom 8:23; 1Co 15:20; Jam 1:18; Rev 144:;

(v.18) ** seven lambs: Num 28:27-31; Mal 1:13-14; ** with their: Num 15:4-12;

(v.19) ** one kid: Lev 4:23-28; 16:15; Num 15:24; 28:30; Rom 8:3; 2Co 5:21; * two lambs: Lev 3:1-17; 7:11-18;

(v.20) ** wave them: Lev 7:29-30; Exo 29:24; Luk 2:14; Eph 2:14; ** holy to: Lev 7:31-34; 8:29; 10:14-15; Num 18:8-12; Deu 18:4; 1Co 9:11;

(v.21) ** wave them: Lev 7:29-30; Exo 29:24; Luk 2:14; Eph 2:14; ** holy to: Lev 7:31-34; 8:29; 10:14-15; Num 18:8-12; Deu 18:4; 1Co 9:11;

Leviticus 23:9-14

The Firstfruits

9 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: 11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD. 13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. 14 And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

This portion of the celebration of unleavened bread was commanded to be kept after the children of Israel had entered the promised land. It was the harvest of the firstfruits, which could not be celebrated in the wilderness simply because they would not be planting and harvesting any crops during their journey.

The sheaf of firstfruits that was waved would have been a sheaf of barley. This was the main crop that was harvested during that time of year. Wheat would have been harvested around the time of the Pentecost. The feast of firstfruits was not one of the annual sabbaths but it is considered to be a holy day, because God commanded it to be kept.

In addition to the sheaf of barley, Israel was commanded to offer a he lamb without blemish as a burnt offering, a meat offering and a drink offering. They were not allowed to eat anything made with the corns of the barley, not even with the green ears, until these offerings were made.

When the first passover was kept in Canaan, the feast of firstfruits was also celebrated. "And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day. And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year." (Joshua 5:10-12)

But this feast also has a New Testament significance. The Jews have always thought that the "morrow after the sabbath" mentioned in verse 11 referred to the day after the first day of unleavened bread. This, however, does not seem to be correct. "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept." (1 Corinthians 15:20) Christ arose on the day after the weekly sabbath and became the firstfruits. We must, therefore, allow the New Testament to explain the Old and not the other way around.

This might then explain a mystery. When Mary was at the empty tomb, Jesus appeared to her. "Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." (John 20:16-17) He had just arisen a short time before.

Then, at what appears to be a very few minutes, perhaps less than an hour later, He appeared to the women who were headed back to tell the disciples of His resurrection. "And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him." (Matthew 28:9)

The mystery is this: "Why would Jesus forbid Mary from touching Him and then shortly thereafter allow the other women to hold Him by the feet and worship Him, which is probably what Mary had begun to do?" The student can read as many commentaries as he or she is willing to open, but it is doubtful that a suitable answer can be found. The only reasonable one is also highly speculative.

If the holy days of Leviticus 23 are a shadow of God's plan for the world and Jesus is the firstfruits, resurrected as the Word of God upon which every one of us should feed daily, then he could not be touched until waved (presented to the Father) for God's approval. During the time that he had spoken to Mary and the time that He met the others along the way, He could have ascended, presented Himself and returned.

That is, of course, just a theory, but a more reasonable one than most commentators have presented. It is not my theory, but a variation on others that I have read. The one thing, however, that we should learn from this is that God must always come first. We do not eat of His blessing until we give Him an offering of the firstfruits of our labors. "Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine." (Proverbs 3:9-10) By "substance," the scripture means everything that we think, say and do. It should all begin and end with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Before the Throne:

Thank God for the resurrection of His Son. It is the evidence that He shall do the same for us. It is our only hope. "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept." (1 Corinthians 15:19-20) Praise God for the joy that the thought of these things brings to your soul. Hold on to the feet of Jesus and worship him today.

For Further Study:

** When: Lev 14:34; ** and shall: Lev 2:12-16; Exo 22:29; 23:16, 19; 34:22, 34:26; Num 15:2, 18-21; 28:26; Deu 16:9; Jos 3:15; ** sheaf: Pro 3:9-10; Eze 44:30; Rom 11:16; 1Co 15:20-23; Jam 1:18; Rev 14:4;

(v.11) ** Lev 9:21; 10:14; Exo 29:24;

(v.12) ** Lev 1:10; Heb 10:10-12; 1Pe 1:19;

(v.13) ** the meat: Lev 2:14-16; 14:10; Num 15:3-12; ** the drink: Exo 29:40-41; 30:9; Num 28:10; Joe 1:9, 13; 2:14; ** the fourth: Exo 30:24; Eze 4:11; 45:24; 46:14;

(v.14) ** eat: Lev 19:23-25; 25:2-3; Gen 4:4-5; Jos 5:11-12; ** it shall be: Lev 3:17; 10:11; Deu 16:12; Neh 9:14; Psa 19:8;

Leviticus 23:5-8

Passover and Unleavened Bread

5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

The first month of the year is named Abib but, after the exile, it was called Nisan. Abib corresponds to the last part of March and early April on our calendar. It was chosen by God to be the first month of the year. It is still a mystery to me why men think they have the authority to change what God has ordained.

God chose this month to be the first of the year, because it was the month in which He brought Israel out of captivity from Egypt. It was a new beginning for the nation. After over four hundred years of slavery, they were led to freedom, and after being separated from their God during that time, they now found a new relationship with Him.

Their historical escape from Egypt occurred after they were told to sacrifice a lamb and mark the door posts with its blood so that the death angel would pass over their homes when he entered the nation to kill every first born son. This happened on the fourteenth day of the month and is called the LORD's passover.

The passover is not one of the seven annual feasts, or sabbaths. It is, however, the exact day of the month and year that Christ died on the cross for our sins. He was the Lamb of God sacrificed for us on the LORD's passover. "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:" (1 Corinthians 5:7)

The next day, the fifteenth of the month, is a day for rest and holy convocation. It is the first day of unleavened bread, which is a week long memorial to Israel's freedom and walk with the Lord in the wilderness. The first day of unleavened bread celebrates the nation's freedom from the cruelty of their Egyptian slave masters.

It also represents the first day of the new life of the church after Christ died for her. The captivity and slavery imposed on her members has been removed and the church has been set free, washed in the blood of the Lamb. She is free of sin, symbolized by the leaven. Thus, the week of unleavened bread may represent the church age.

The seventh day of the week is also a time for holy convocation and celebrates God's defeat of the Egyptian army at the Red Sea.

The charge for Christians is, as we saw above in 1 Corinthians 5:7, to "purge out... the old leaven." Put away the old man of sin and put on the new. Christ is our passover, sacrificed to give us freedom from sin. His death made all who believe in Him to be unleavened, and our job is to stay that way.

Examine your life and cast out anything that is polluting it. Begin a new life of holiness and righteousness. Purge out the old leaven.

Before The Throne:

Praise God for sending His Son to be your passover. Praise Him for all the blessings you have received as a result of your relationship with Him. Ask Him to help you identify the leaven in your life and to get rid of it. Seek first His righteousness and everything else that you need shall be given to you.

For Further Study:

Exo 12:2-14, 18; 13:3-10; 23:15; Num 9:2-7; 28:16; Deu 16:1-8; Jos 5:10; 2Ch 35:18-19; Mat 26:17; Mar 14:12; Luk 22:7; 1Co 5:7-8;

(v.6) Exo 12:15-16; 13:6-7; 34:18; Num 28:17-18; Deu 16:8; Act 12:3-4;

(v.7) Num 28:18-25;

Leviticus 23:1-4

Holy Days

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. 3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. 4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.

Who but God can make any day into a holy day? Man has set aside some days for celebration of certain events. Easter, July 4th, Halloween, Christmas and New Year's Day are a few examples, but nothing can make these days holy. God has set aside the days that He has proclaimed to be holy and the days that we should celebrate.

These days are called feast days or sabbaths, and Moses was to proclaim them to be holy convocations. A holy convocation is a day in which God's people are to assemble for worship.

The first day stands alone. It is the weekly sabbath, the seventh day of the week. This day was ordained before the law commanded men to keep it holy. "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." (Genesis 2:2-3) It was already holy, because God had blessed it and sanctified it. The law was given to Moses so that men would not neglect to keep it holy. In case Israel had forgotten which day was the seventh day while they were enslaved in Egypt, God taught them to keep it holy by not providing manna from heaven on that day all the time that they wandered in the wilderness.

There were also seven annual sabbaths, called feast days, given to the nation of Israel. They were also to be days of holy convocations on which no work was to be done. The first (v.6-7,) and the seventh (v.8 ) days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread; the Day of Pentecost (v.15-16,21); the day of the Feast of Trumpets (v.24); the Day of Atonement (v.27); and the first (v.35) and eighth (v.36) days of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Each of these days was very important in the history of God's work in Israel, and I believe that each of them also had a prophetic significance. One thing is certain, the observance of them is very important to God, because they mark several milestones in His ministry to His people.

Notice how God uses the plural form of the word sabbath in the following and many other scriptures: "Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them. But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them." (Ezekiel 20:12-13)

It seems that the breaking of God's sabbaths infuriates Him more than almost anything else, because they are days in which He is to be honored. He gave the sabbaths to us to be a sign between us. Our keeping of them demonstrates that He is our God. Perhaps the Christian community should take a closer look at the deep significance of these holy days. We will study each one in more depth during the next few sessions.

Before The Throne:

As we begin a study of these special holy days, ask God to open your understanding and to use this study to help you draw closer to Him. Ask Him how you can honor Him with what you will learn. Praise Him for being your God. Ask Him to forgive any negligence on your part when it comes to the keeping of His sabbaths.

For Further Study:

** the feasts Exo 23:14-17; Isa 1:13-14; 33:20; Lam 1:4; Hos 2:11; Nah 1:15; Joh 5:1; Col 2:1; ** proclaim: Exo 32:5; Num 10:2-3, 10; 2Ki 10:20; 2Ch 30:5; Psa 81:3; Joe 1:14; 2:15; Jon 3:5-9;

(v.3) Lev 19:3; Exo 16:23, 16:29; 20:8-11; 23:12; 31:15; 34:21; 35:2-3; Deu 5:13; Isa 56:2, 6; 58:13; Luk 13:14; 23:56; Act 15:21; Rev 1:10;

Leviticus 22:31-33

I Am the LORD

31 Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD. 32 Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you, 33 That brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.

The preceding two chapters set the standards of holiness for the priesthood. They were the commandments given directly from God's mouth to Moses but they were not the only commandments. The "Therefore" of verse 31 seems to be saying, "Therefore, because you need to be holy in order to serve Me, obey all of My commandments."

"I am Yahweh, I am the essence of your existence, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of all things. Do not take Me lightly." How difficult it seems to be for us to understand and obey this simple rule! Do not take God lightly. Even those of us who claim to have been redeemed by His shed blood spend most of our day thinking about other things. How lightly we take our relationship with Him!

We have invented more ways to justify our sins than we have logged minutes in prayer and we have learned to depend entirely on our own will and ingenuity, only coming to Him when those things fail us. As His priests, we preach a good gospel but do not live it. Every hour of every day we find ourselves taking Him lightly, but He desires and deserves much more.

"Neither shall ye profane my holy name..." Those who are called by His name must be aware of their actions so that His name is protected and hallowed. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

Christians should be constantly aware of what other people think of them. Now, I am not saying that we have to act like unbelievers to get their praises, but we should be careful to be godly people in the sight of others. Wicked people may not like us for acting like that, but whatever they would say against us would be a lie. We represent God and we must hallow His name. A hypocritical lifestyle does not bring honor to Him. Instead, it might justify what His enemies have to say.

"I am the LORD which hallow you." He is the God who sacrificed His Son for you, brought you out of captivity to sin, and adopted you as His child. He is the God who has set you aside for His service. He has made you a holy person and clothed you with the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

He only asks that you return His love. If ye love me, keep my commandments... He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him... If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (John 14:15, 21,23-24)

It cannot be made much clearer than that. Keep His commandments. Work to keep every sin out of your life. Honor His holy name with your every word and deed.

Before the Throne:

Sin is everywhere. Pray that God will examine your heart and cleanse you of every sin that He finds there. Pray that He will keep you from temptation. Don't pray, "Hallowed be thy name." Instead, pray, "Lord, let me demonstrate to the world how holy your name truly is."

For Further Study:

(v.31) Lev 18:4-5; 19:37; Num 15:40; Deu 4:40; 1Th 4:1-2

(v.32) Lev 18:21; ** I will: Lev 10:3; Isa 5:16; Mat 6:9; Luk 11:2; ** hallow you: Lev 20:8; 21:8, 15; Exo 19:5-6; Joh 17:17; 1Co 1:2;

(v.33) Lev 11:45; 19:36; 25:38; Exo 6:7; 20:2; Num 15:41;

Isaiah 23:15-18

Her Hire Shall Be Holiness

15 And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot. 16 Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered. 17 And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth. 18 And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the LORD: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the LORD, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.

The end of Isaiah's prophecy about the city of Tyre begins in a beautiful prose style, switches to poetry (v.16) and then moves back to prose in verses 17 and 18. It describes the restoration of Tyre and its eventual dedication to Yahweh during the church age.

"In that day..." In the day that Tyre was to be destroyed, she would be forgotten for seventy years, "according to the days of one king." This phrase, "the days of one king," has been hotly debated. Tyre was not forgotten for seventy years and few kings have ever reigned for seventy years. Some scholars believe that this meant the "life" of a king, which could have been an average of seventy years. However, it seems more likely that this meant the length of a king's dynasty.

Nebuchadnezzar, his son Evil-Merodach and his grandson Belshazzar reigned seventy years after which the dynasty came to an end. Albert Barnes points out that, "Tyre was, indeed, taken toward the middle of that period, and its subjugation referred to here was only for the remaining part of it. ‘All these nations,’ says Jeremiah (25:11), ‘shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.’ Some of them were conquered sooner, and some later; but the end of this period was the common time of deliverance to them all."

There was nothing worse for a harlot than to be old and forgotten. After seventy years, Tyre would be like an old and forgotten harlot. Verse 16 is like a song that might have been sung by an old harlot. "Take a harp," to attract attention to yourself. "Go about the city," looking for men, because they will not be looking for you. "Sing sweet songs," to get their attention and arouse their desires.

However, it would come to pass, that Yahweh would visit the city and restore her prosperity. She would begin having commercial intercourse once again with distant places. Her merchants would trade with the cities of the world, desiring only their own wealth and the satisfaction of their flesh. Yet, she would not be lost, because Yahweh had visited her.

Verse 18 looks ahead to the time of Christ, when Christianity would spread throughout the city, and her people would dedicate their wealth to the work of the church.

"The Christian religion was early established at Tyre. It was visited by the Saviour (Matthew 15:21), and by Paul. Paul found several disciples of Christ there when on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 21:3-6).

"Eusebius (Hist. x. 4.) says that ‘when the church of God was founded in Tyre, and in other places, much of its wealth was consecrated to God, and was brought as an offering to the church, and was presented for the support of the ministry agreeable to the commandments of the Lord.’ Jerome says, ‘We have seen churches built to the Lord in Tyre; we have beheld the wealth of all, which was not treasured up nor hid, but which was given to those who dwelt before the Lord.’" (Albert Barnes' Commentary) Wealth was not stored up or hoarded away where it would do no one any good. It was brought to the church to support those who were doing God's work.

Out of this passage, we can learn two good lessons. First of all, we should see that, no matter how far we stray from God and no matter how greedy or selfish we have been, God can use what we have done for the working of that which is good. He has ordained each of us to play a role in His redemptive work and, although we may stray from it, although we may have to be punished for our pride and selfishness, and even though we may not learn our lesson from that punishment, God's plan for us will be accomplished.

Secondly, God blesses us with love and wealth that is undeserved. We call it "grace." In return, we should be willing to use all of our blessings to further the work of His church. Those who are doing God's work need to be fed, clothed and housed like anyone else. In fact, their work is more important than any other work that is being done on earth. Yet, they do not ask for rewards, because they know that their rewards are laid up in heaven. That is no reason, however, for us to reward them with so little when God has given us so much.

Before The Throne:

Meditate on some of the truly sinful things that you have done in your life and see whether or not you can determine how God has used them for good. You need to pray and give thanks for that. You need to praise God for preventing your sins from hampering the growth of his kingdom and for turning them into something good. You need to thank Him for the redemptive work that Jesus Christ has done in your heart. How would you respond to such loving kindness? Will you take your blessings and use them as you see fit or hoard them away where they benefit no one? Pray about how much you will give back to the work of the Lord. Then, look for the windows of heaven to open and pour out more blessings.

For Further Study:

(v.15) ** Tyre shall. Jer 25:9-11,22; 27:3-7; 29:10; Eze 29:11; ** one king. Da 7:14; 8:21; Re 17:10; ** shall Tyre sing as an harlot. Eze 27:25; Ho 2:15;

(v.16) ** Pr 7:10-12; Jer 30:14;

(v.17) ** visit. Jer 29:10; Zep 2:7; Ac 15:14; ** and she shall. De 23:18; Eze 16:31; Isa 22:13; 27:6-36; Ho 12:7,8; Mic 1:7; 3:11; 1Ti 3:3,8; 1Pe 5:2; ** shall commit. Na 3:4; Re 17:2-5; 18:9-14; 19:2;

(v.18) ** her merchandise. Isa 60:6,7; 2Ch 2:7-9,11-16; Ps 45:12; 72:10; Zec 14:20,21; Mr 3:8; Ac 21:3-5; ** it shall. Mt 6:19-21; Lu 12:18-20,33; 16:9-13; ** for them. De 12:18,19; 26:12-14; Pr 3:9,10; 13:22; 28:8; Ec 2:26; Mal 3:10; Mt 25:35-40; Lu 8:3; Ac 9:39; Ro 15:25-27; Ga 6:6; Php 4:17,18;

Isaiah 23:10-14

Without Rest

10 Pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish: there is no more strength. 11 He stretched out his hand over the sea, he shook the kingdoms: the LORD hath given a commandment against the merchant city, to destroy the strong holds thereof. 12 And he said, Thou shalt no more rejoice, O thou oppressed virgin, daughter of Zidon: arise, pass over to Chittim; there also shalt thou have no rest. 13 Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin. 14 Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste.

There is some confusion over the interpretation of this passage. Some scholars believe that the "daughter of Tarshish" refers to the people of Tyre who would flee across the Mediterranean to Tarshish. Others believe that it refers to the people of Tarshish. I am of the latter opinion, since there is no evidence to substantiate the former.

The people of Tarshish are told to pass through their land as a river would flood its banks, because there was no more strength (Hebrew: belt or girdle) to restrain it. Tyre, the ruling power of the seas had fallen and she no longer had the power to control or restrain her colonies from moving out and doing business for their own benefit.

The same God, who had sovereign authority over the ruling powers of the land, also had authority over the seas. He had stretched out His hand and had shaken the kingdoms. His command had brought down the strongholds of the merchant city of Tyre and had set her colonies free. The seas were no protection from the power of the Almighty.

Sidon, the city that founded Tyre, had not previously been defiled by conquering armies. Thus, she is called the virgin daughter of Sidon. She would now be oppressed and would be forced to flee across the Mediterranean like the people of Tyre. Their flight, however, would not bring them any rest.

We can flee the destructive forces that sin brings upon us but we cannot find rest until the wages of sin have been paid. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death, not just a physical death, but an eternal separation from God, which is a horrible spiritual death. God has purposed to stain the pride of all glory and to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth (v.9). His activity in this purpose did not end with the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, or with Tyre. Instead, it will continue until all sin is abolished from the earth.

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The residents of Tyre had no such gift, no hope, no place to flee and no rest from their torment. We, however, can accept God's gift and run to the Lord Jesus who will cleanse us of our sins and give us rest.

Isaiah pointed out who would be the invading power that would bring down the walls of Tyre. The Chaldeans were not a powerful people until the Assyrians founded their empire in the desert. They set up the towers of their cities or built the towers that were used in the siege of cities. "They raised up the palaces," more accurately translated means, "They destroyed (or stripped bare) the palaces."

Verse 13 ends with the statement that God appointed it for ruin. We do not know if this refers to Tyre or to the Chaldean Empire, but both of them were appointed by God to be destroyed. Therefore, the city is once again commanded to howl, because its fortifications have been laid waste.

History has proven over and over again that great, powerful and proud empires will fall at the command of our God. It has also proven that individual sinners, like you and I, will fall, if we try to bring glory to ourselves instead of to God. Like the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, who were told to flee across the sea, we too are told to run to the Lord Jesus Christ. Unlike Tyre and Sidon, we can find rest.

Many people in Tyre and Sidon did not run and they perished at the hand of the enemy. Your enemy, Satan, spends all of his time seeking to destroy you. Will you wait for him or will you run for shelter to the person of Jesus Christ? You have a choice to make, and your decision has eternal and irrevocable implications. What will you do?

Before The Throne:

Have you been tormented by guilt, felt hopelessly lost, or been oppressed by the consequences of your sin? Only death or the return of Christ will take away the opportunity to be saved. Pray right now, before it is too late, to receive the gift of God and you will find rest. If you have already received the gift, give thanks. Commit yourself to the work of carrying His light to a world that lives in darkness. Pray for Him to make you like a lighthouse on the coast of Tyre, guiding others to the safe coasts of Jesus Christ.

For Further Study:

(v.10) ** no more. 1Sa 28:20; Job 12:21; La 1:6; Hag 2:22; Ro 5:6; ** strength. Ps 18:32 ;

(v.11) ** stretched. Isa 2:19; 14:16,17; Ex 15:8-10; Ps 46:6; Eze 26:10,15-19; 27:34,35; Eze 31:16; Hag 2:7; ** the Lord. Isa 10:6; Ps 71:3; Jer 47:7; Na 1:14; ** against the merchant city. Ho 12:7,8; ** the merchant city. Ge 9:25; 10:15-19; Zec 14:21; Mr 11:17; Joh 2:16; ** strong holds. Zec 9:3,4;

(v.12) ** Thou shalt. Eze 26:13,14; Re 18:22; ** thou oppressed. Isa 37:22; 47:1,5; Jer 14:17; 46:11; La 1:15; ** daughter. Ge 10:15-19; 49:13; Jos 11:8; ** pass. Nu 24:24; Eze 27:6; ** there also. De 28:64-67; La 1:3; 4:15;

(v.13) ** land. Isa 13:19; Ge 11:28,31; Job 1:17; Hab 1:6; Ac 7:4; ** the Assyrian. Ge 2:14; 10:10,11; 11:9; 2Ki 17:24; 20:12; 2Ch 33:11; Ezr 4:9,10; Da 4:30; ** for them. Ps 72:9; ** and he. Eze 26:7-21; 29:18;

(v.14) Eze 27:25-30; Re 18:11-19;

Isaiah 23:6-9

To Stain Her Pride

6 Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle. 7 Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn. 8 Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth? 9 The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.

Isaiah continues with his prophecy against Tyre in this passage. After predicting the destruction of the city, he now proceeds to emphasize that the calamity had come under the sovereign dictates of Yahweh, LORD of hosts.

"Pass ye over to Tarshish..." The Tyrians had founded many colonies in Spain and North Africa. Among them were Tarshish, Gades, Abdera and Carthage. Isaiah's message to them was that they should go to their colonies, because Tyre was going to be destroyed. Those who stayed behind would howl with grief over what they would see.

Tyre was a joyful, bustling and extremely prosperous city. It was also one of the oldest cities in the area and it was a crowning city, or one that colonized and gave birth to new civilizations. The princes of the world and the most honorable men traded with her and relied on her shipping industry.

Isaiah's question is this: "Who hath taken counsel against Tyre, the crowning city?" Would the destruction come because men had plotted it or because some higher power had planned it? Jesus answered the question in a very simple way. "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father." (Matthew 10:29) God is involved in and concerned with even the tiniest matters. How could such a great city be destroyed without the involvement of our sovereign God?

So, Isaiah answers his own question. "The LORD of hosts hath purposed it." But, why? Why did God want to destroy this great city that seems to have been a blessing to everyone around her, a city that built new colonies and enriched everyone who did business with her? The answer is, " stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth." No man, group of men, city, state, or nation shall ever glory in the presence of the Lord. Tyre represented the best of men's efforts to build beauty and wealth. It represented man's efforts to build something that would last from antiquity.

Tyre was the portal to the world. Its people were proud of their accomplishments, but, "... whatsoever is not of faith is sin." (Romans 14:23) If it was not built for the glory of God, it was built in vanity and it had to be destroyed. If its business, shipping, colonizing, beauty, and joy were not for the glory of God, it had no place in God's creation.

Tyre has a lesson for each of us. How much of your life is dedicated to your own vanity and pride? You might think that you are being kind to someone, providing for your family, enriching those around you, contributing to the welfare of society or doing any number of good things, but who is getting the credit for all of those things? "... whatsoever is not of faith is sin." God will stain your pride with all sorts of trouble, because no man shall glory in His presence... ever!

Dearest reader, you and I must begin right this minute to change the way we think and act. We must begin to do everything for the glory of God. If we truly love Him, if we truly reverence His power and glory, and if we have truly submitted ourselves to our Savior Jesus Christ, we will begin immediately to do all things for His glory. It is very dangerous to savor even one minute of glory for ourselves, because only He is worthy.

Before The Throne:

Confess your sins of pride. Cast your crowns at the feet of the Lord Jesus and confess to Him that He alone is worthy of your worship and praise. Ask Him to help you point everything in your life to the honor and glory of the Savior. Dedicate your home, your car, your children, your time, your labor, your talents and everything else to the glory of the Lord. Tell the world what He has done in your life. Make others see what a wonderful God you serve. Pray for success and God will guarantee it.

For Further Study:

(v.6) ** Pass. Isa 21:15; ** howl. Isa 16:7;

(v.7) ** your. Isa 22:2; ** whose. Jos 19:29; ** her own. Isa 47:1,2; Ec 10:7;

(v.8 ) ** Who hath. De 29:24-28; Jer 50:44,45; Re 18:8; ** the crowning. Eze 28:2-6,12-18; ** merchants. Isa 10:8; 36:9;

(v.9) **Lord. Isa 10:33; 14:24,27; 46:10,11; Jer 47:6,7; 51:62; Ac 4:28; Eph 1:11; 3:11; ** to stain. Isa 2:11,17; 5:15,16; 13:11; Job 40:11,12; Da 4:37; Mal 4:1; Jas 4:6; ** bring. Job 12:21; Ps 107:40; 1Co 1:26-29:

Isaiah 23:1-5

Be Still

1 The burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them. 2 Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle; thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished. 3 And by great waters the seed of Sihor, the harvest of the river, is her revenue; and she is a mart of nations. 4 Be thou ashamed, O Zidon: for the sea hath spoken, even the strength of the sea, saying, I travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish up young men, nor bring up virgins. 5 As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre.

Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon were the great world military powers during their respective reigns of glory. They had ruled over all of the known lands in the biblical world, but one small city was the dominant power of the seas. The city was Tyre, an important economic portal to the riches of distant lands.

Tyre was a Phoenician city. The oldest section, known as Palaetyrus, was on the coast, while the newer section of the city was built on a rock island about three quarters of a mile from Palaetyrus. It is probable that this prophecy describes the destruction of the city during the reign of Manasseh, Hezekiah's son.

"Esarhaddon's destruction of Sidon and subjugation of Tyre in 677 B.C. was a step toward his invasion of Egypt in 674 and 671. Ashurbanipal followed the same procedure in 667. Manasseh was forced to supply forces and participate in the invasion of Egypt in that year (ANET, 294)

"Baal I of Tyre apparently supported Tantamani in Egypt's ill-advised rebellion of 664 B.C. Ashurbanipal repaid him by capturing Tyre on his return trip and turning the entire Phoenecian area into Assyrian provinces with severe restrictions on her ability to profit from the sea trade which had traditionally been her exclusive province." (John D. W. Watts, Word Biblical Commentary, vol 24, pg 296, 1985)

"Howl, ye ships of Tarshish..." The ships were commanded to howl, because they would no longer sail from the city of Tyre. Tarshish is believed to have been a Phoenician city on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, but the phrase "ships of Tashish" seems to have been used for any ships that sailed to distant ports. These were instructed to mourn the loss of their port city of Tyre, which would be laid waste. There would be no houses left standing, no entering into the city and no one left to purchase the goods imported from exotic places (Read Ezekiel 27 for a detailed list of the many places with which Tyre did business.) Word had gone out to Chittim, which is a name used to describe the islands and coasts of the Mediteranean as far east as Italy.

"Be still..." When the hand of God has come down upon you and you have been severely punished for your sins, be still. There is nothing more to say or do. God has spoken.

Tyre was a colony of Sidon and profited from the merchants, who used the port and its ships for their trade. This was a busy, noisy trade center... the Walmart of the ancient world, but it was also a place full of pride and dependence on its own wealth and power. Her glory is described further in the third verse. Sihor means, "black," and is probably referring to the dark waters of the Nile. The harvest of the Nile, the wealth from trading with Egypt, was the revenue of this great city. Now, God commanded her to be still, and it was so.

The pride of Sidon was turned to shame. Without the commerce of Tyre all of the Phonecian cities would suffer. Its fall meant that the sea would no longer bring forth the society and culture of wealth that had formerly been known... no more children, young businessmen, and no more young ladies to marry.

Just as the fall of Egypt alarmed the world, so would the fall of the city of Tyre send out economic distress to the surrounding cities and states. Consider what the fall of the United States would mean to the rest of the world. We are a nation that relies on the power of our wealth, full of pride and secured in our borders like an island. We trade with every nation on earth, and so many of them are dependent on our business. What would happen, if God commanded the United States to be still?

Then, personalize the thought. What would happen to you, if God commanded our nation to be still? You see, when we do not spread the gospel of Christ and call our fellow citizens to repentance, we are allowing our nation to become a modern day Tyre. When God commands it to be still, and the hustle and bustle of business ceases; when the grocery stores and fast food restaurants close; when the malls go out of business; when the stock market is silenced; and when the electrical power plants shut down it will affect every one of us. Our society will be changed and our pride will be turned into shame. We have the ability to avoid such a thing. Will you help?

Before The Throne:

Look at the blessings that God has given you; count them one by one. Are these the source of your pride and security? Confess your faults to the Lord. Pray about your efforts to spread the gospel. Are you doing everything you can? Ask God to help you improve. Pray for our nation and for our leaders. Ask God to keep us from becoming a modern day Tyre. Pray for the gospel to spread, for His kingdom to come and His will to be done here, just as it is in heaven. Humble yourself in His presence and ask Him to erase the pride that is on your heart. Give Jesus Christ the glory for the great things He has done.

For Further Study:

(v.1) ** Jer 25:15,22; 47:4; Eze 26:1-28:25; Joe 3:4-8; Am 1:9,10; Zec 9:2,4; ** Howl. Isa 15:2,8; Re 18:17-19; ** ye ships. Isa 2:16; 60:9; 1Ki 22:48; 2Ch 9:21; Ps 48:7; Eze 27:25; ** for it is. Isa 15:1; Jer 25:10,11; Re 18:22,23; ** the land. Nu 24:24; Jer 2:10; Eze 27:6; Da 11:30;

(v.2) ** still. Isa 41:1; 47:5; Ps 46:10; Hab 2:20; ** the isle. Eze 27:3,4; 28:2; ** the merchants. Eze 27:8-36;

(v.3) ** Sihor. 1Ch 13:5; Jer 2:18; ** the harvest. Isa 32:20; De 11:10; ** she is. Eze 27:33; 28:4; Joe 3:5; Re 18:11-13;

(v.4) **I travail. Jer 47:3,4; Eze 26:3-6; Ho 9:11-14; Re 18:23;

(v.5) ** at the. Isa 19:16; Ex 15:14-16; Jos 2:9-11; ** so shall. Eze 26:15-21; 27:29-36; 28:19; Re 18:17-19;

Leviticus 22:26-30

Compassion At All Times

26 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 27 When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 28 And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her young both in one day. 29 And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will. 30 On the same day it shall be eaten up; ye shall leave none of it until the morrow: I am the LORD.

Does it not seem strange to you that the very people who fight for animal rights are frequently the ones who would also fight to allow human abortions? It is a very strained dichotomy, to say the least. It can only be explained if those persons have no conscience but are motivated purely by political ideology... a godless ideology.

Even in the use of animals for sacrifice, God has commanded us to show mercy and kindness. The death of any creature under God's divine care is a tragic loss. That is why animals could temporarily satisfy God's demand for justice and be substituted for the life of a man. An ox, sheep or goat should not, however, be killed until it is at least 8 days old. It has not yet gained enough strength and independence to stand on its own and it is still very close and dearly protected by its mother.

Some say that such a young and immature animal is considered to be blemished. Others say that it was a matter of compassion to allow the animal to see at least one sabbath of rest.

"It was necessary for the mother's health that the young one should suck so long; and prior to this time, the process of nutrition in a young animal can scarcely be considered as completely formed. Besides this, it may justly be asserted, that the flesh of very young animals is comparatively innutritive. There is something brutish in eating the young of beast or fowl, before the hair and hoofs are perfect in the one, and feathers and claws in the other; and before this period, their flesh is not good for food, consequently they were not fit for sacrifice, which is termed the bread or food of God " (The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge)

Furthermore, the mother animal could not be put to death, whether for sacrifice or for other reasons, on the same day as her child. That would be an act of unusual cruelty that would not set a very good example for the children to follow.

God had even mandated that wild animals be treated with compassionate respect. For example, "If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young:" (Deuteronomy 22:6) If the person was hungry, the young birds or eggs could be taken but not the mother. If only the mother were taken, both would be lost, because there would be no one to feed the young.

Anyone who understands the importance of such kindnesses toward animals should also plainly see the application to the way we treat our fellow humans. If the feelings of even a wild bird are important to God, why would He not be concerned about the 50,000,000 children who have been aborted in the USA?

The most outstanding characteristic of our Savior was that of compassion. It is incredible that any of His followers could support abortion, could vote for a candidate who supports legalized abortions, or could ignore the plight of both the mother and unborn child that drives this damnable practice. Are these so called Christians truly offering themselves as living sacrifices, holy, and acceptable to God? I think not!

Before The Throne:

We have whole generations of young people growing up without consciences, totally unable to show compassion. Pray for them. Pray for everyone who supports abortion, asking God to place in them a new heart. Pray that our public servants and the judges on our Supreme Court will see the devastating effect that baby killing has on a society.

For Further Study:

(v.27) ** seven days: Lev_12:2-3; 19:23-24; Exo 22:30;

(v.28) ** ye shall not kill it: Exo 23:19; 34:26; Deu 14:21; 22:6-7;

(v.29) ** Lev 7:12-15; Psa 107:22; 116:17; Hos 14:2; Amo 4:5; Heb 13:15; 1Pe 2:5;

(v.30) Lev 7:15-18; 19:7; Exo 16:19-20;

Leviticus 22:17-25

The Perfect Sacrifice

17 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 18 Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the LORD for a burnt offering; 19 Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats. 20 But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you. 21 And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein. 22 Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the LORD, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the LORD. 23 Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted. 24 Ye shall not offer unto the LORD that which is bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut; neither shall ye make any offering thereof in your land. 25 Neither from a stranger's hand shall ye offer the bread of your God of any of these; because their corruption is in them, and blemishes be in them: they shall not be accepted for you.

We have studied the law concerning the animals that were allowed to be sacrificed for each type of offering in the previous chapters of Leviticus, so I will not explain them again. The primary point of this entire passage is that the animals must be without spot or blemish. God expects and deserves only the best that we have to offer in daily living and in worship.

These offerings were to serve as types of Christ. They were made as payment for the sins of the worshiper, but the wages of sin is death, and no animal's life could be an acceptable substitution for that of a man. Yet, God allowed them to be made as temporary solutions for man's sin problem and to teach man the seriousness of his sin. A better, more appropriate substitution would eventually be necessary.

"For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:13-14)

Thus, it took the sacrifice of the divinely perfect Son of God to permanently redeem men from the condemnation to which they had made themselves subject. "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:" (1 Peter 1:18-19)

The redeemed sinner becomes a part of God's church, which is called the body of Christ. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) The blood of Christ has cleansed us of our sins and made us perfect in His righteousness, a condition that we are expected to maintain.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1) Our only reasonable means of worship now is to commit our bodies, our entire being, as a sacrifice, because we are part of Christ's body and our life is hidden with Him in God.

The sacrifices that we are studying in Leviticus were to be perfect and without spot or blemish, because they also typified the hearts and minds of those who would come to make up Christ's church.

Lastly, it is a sin to give God less than the very best. It is a sin to give Him our leftovers instead of our firstfruits. "And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 1:8)

It is often the case that we give God less honor, less respect, and less sacrifice than we would give to men whom we think are to be honored. By refusing to take the gift of a threshing floor for a place to build an altar, King David demonstrated to his servants and to the people that a sacrifice to God was worthless if it did not cost the worshipper anything. (2 Samuel 24:24)

When we present our bodies as living sacrifices to our God, let each of us be certain that we have sacrificed our old lives and have put on the new man who is ready to serve our Lord, a new man who is holy and acceptable unto God, a man who, through Jesus Christ, has been cleansed of every spot and blemish.

Before The Throne:

Pray for holiness. Ask God to examine every inch of your soul and to cleanse it from even the most minor or hidden sins. Ask Him to help you sacrifice your life for Him. Pray for the ability to bring glory to His name through everything that you do. Do this and your worship will be acceptable to Him. Give him thanks in advance for answering this prayer.

For Further Study:

** Whatsoever: Lev 1:2, 10; 17:10, 13; ** of the strangers: Num 15:14-16; ** vows: Lev 7:16; 23:38; Num 15:3; Deu 12:6; Psa 22:25; 56:12; 61:5, 8; 65:1; 66:13; 116:14, 18; Ecc 5:4; Jon 1:16; 2:9; Nah 1:15; Act 18:18; ** freewill: Num 15:3; Deu 12:6, 17; 16:10;

(v.19) Lev 1:3, 10; 4:32; Exo 12:5; Mat 27:4, 19, 24, 54; Luk 23:14, 41, 47; Joh 19:4; 2Co 5:21; Eph 5:27; Heb 9:14; 1Pe 1:19; 2:22-24; 3:18;

(v.20) Deu 15:21; 17:1; Mal 1:8, 13-14;

(v.21) ** peace: Lev 3:1, 6; 7:11-38; ** to accomplish: Gen 28:20; 35:1-3; Num 15:3, 15:8; Deu 23:21-23; Psa 50:14; Pro 7:14; Ecc 5:4-5;

(v.22) ** Blind: Lev 21:18-21; Mal 1:8; ** an offering: Lev 1:9, 13; 3:3, 5;

(v.23) ** superfluous: Lev 21:18;

(v.24) ** broken: Deu_23:1;

(v.25) ** a stranger's: Num 15:14-16; 16:40; Ezr 6:8-10; ** the bread: Lev 21:6, 8, 21-22; Mal 1:7-8, 12-14; ** because: Eph 2:12; 1Jo 5:18;

Leviticus 22:10-16

Holy Things Are For Holy People

10 There shall no stranger eat of the holy things. A tenant of a priest, or a hired servant, shall not eat of the holy thing. 11 But if the priest buys a soul with his silver, he shall eat of it. And one born in his house shall eat of his food. 12 And a priest's daughter, when she belongs to a man, a stranger, she may not eat of the heave offering of the holy things. 13 But if the priest's daughter is a widow, or put away, and has no child, and has returned to her father's house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father's food. But no stranger shall eat of it. 14 And if a man eats a holy thing without knowing it, then he shall put the fifth part to it, and shall give to the priest with the holy thing. 15 And they shall not profane the holy things of the sons of Israel which they offer to Jehovah, 16 and so load on them the iniquity of the guilt offering in their eating of their holy things. For I am Jehovah who sanctifies them."

Now, understand this: God has placed a holy fence around His holy things to protect them from being polluted by sin. They are holy only because He has set them aside for His use and for His purpose, but God has no use for polluted men or polluted objects.

Therefore, He says that no stranger should be allowed to eat the food from the altar, and by this He does not mean only a foreigner, but anyone who is not a priest. Priests and their families had their portion of all the sacrifices and offerings except the burnt-offerings and the offerings they made for their own sins. The question that this passage answers is, "Who should be included in the family?"

The first answer to that question is that tenants in the priests house and hired servants were disqualified from eating the food from the altar. These people had not been cleansed and made holy according to the laws for the Levitical priests.

It was not uncommon in those days for a person to be so poor that he would sell himself into slavery. If a priest were to buy such a person, that person would live under his roof permanently and would be considered a part of the family. The slave's children and any other children born in the priest's home were also treated as part of the family. This is another circumstance in which God, while allowing slavery, teaches that there is to be the utmost compassion for the poorest among us.

The other situation discussed in this passage is that of a divorced or widowed daughter. When the daughter married, she became one flesh with her husband and started her own family. She would not be allowed to eat of the holy things. However, if her husband died or "put her away" by divorce and she had no children, she was allowed to return to the father's house and be part of his family again. If she had children, she was the head of her own household and not a part of the father's family.

The last circumstance occurs when a man accidentally or unknowingly eats of the holy things. As soon as he discovers his sin, he must return what he ate plus twenty percent.

Jesus pointed out that there was an exception to these laws, demonstrating the principle that mercy is more important to God than sacrifice. In 1 Samuel 21:6, the priest gave the shewbread to David and his men, because they were extremely hungry. Jesus used this example when defending His disciples for picking grain on the Sabbath. He said, "But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless." (Matthew 12:7)

Nevertheless, the holy things of God must be kept holy. Jesus also said, Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." (Matthew 7:6)

What are holy things under the gospel dispensation? John Gill wrote, "Here the phrase is used in a metaphorical sense; and is generally understood of not delivering or communicating the holy word of God, and the truths of the Gospel, comparable to pearls, or the ordinances of it, to persons notoriously vile and sinful: to men, who being violent and furious persecutors, and impudent blasphemers, are compared to "dogs"; or to such, who are scandalously vile, impure in their lives and conversations, and are therefore compared to swine;"

By giving holy things to the wicked, we would be heaping more sins upon their already guilt ridden souls. The 16th verse could also mean that, by eating the holy things, the vile and wicked persons would be assuming the role of a priest and taking on themselves the sins of the persons making the sacrifice.

Paul also applied this to the elements of the Lord's supper, as he considered them to be holy. "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)

Therefore, we should strive everyday to keep ourselves holy and fit for contact with holy things. If you are one of Jesus' people, you have the Holy Spirit living within you. Keep His temple Holy.

Before The Throne:

Give thanks to God for the sacrifice of His Son whose shed blood is the only thing that can make you holy. Ask Him to help you live a life of purity and righteousness, keeping yourself fit for holy things. Ask God to help you become more involved in doing His holy work.

For Further Study:

(v.10) 1Sa 21:6; Mat 12:4;

(v.11) ** his money: Gen 17:13; Num 18:11-13;

(v.12) ** a stranger: Heb. a man Lev 21:3; Isa 40:13

(v.13) ** returned unto her father's house: Gen 38:11; ** as in her: Lev 10:14; Num 18:11-19;

(v.14) Lev5:15-19;27:13, 15;

(v.15) Lev 19:8; Num 18:32; Eze 22:26;

(v.16) ** suffer them Lev 7:18; Psa 38:4; Isa 53:11-12; 1Pe 2:24; ** for I: Lev 20:8;

Isaiah 22:20-25

The Nail in the Wall?

20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: 21 And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. 22 And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. 23 And I will fasten him [as] a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house. 24 And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons. 25 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that [was] upon it shall be cut off: for the LORD hath spoken [it].

This passage, like the previous one, was spoken to Shebna who, as we have seen, was to be removed from the office in which he ruled over the house and affairs of the king. Its purpose is to illustrate the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men and the weakness of men when trusted with the affairs of God. Using the image of a nail in the wall becoming overloaded and falling to the ground with its burdens, Isaiah perfectly illustrates his point.

God would remove Shebna from office and God would exalt Eliakim to the same office. We are told that Eliakim was the son of Hilkiah. Perhaps this is mentioned to contrast the legitimacy of Eliakim's claim to the office as compared to Shebna who was either a foreigner or a commoner.

God himself would clothe Eliakim in the official garb of the office, place the reponsibility of administering the government into his hands and make him a father, or counselor and leader, to the people of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Eliakim would govern with strength derived from God, thus assuring his success.

Eliakim's authority would be visible to all that met him, because he would have the key of the house of David affixed to the shoulder of his garments. Access to the king or the appointment to any office in the kingdom would only be possible with Eliakim's consent. He was ordained by God to be the keeper of the theocracy over which the descendants of David reigned.

A similar expression to verse 22 was used by our Lord in granting authority to His apostles. "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19) But, the true keeper of the keys is Jesus himself, as He said to John, "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth." (Revelation 3:7) These are the keys to the kingdom of heaven for which the house of David was merely a type.

In those days when they built their houses, they would place into the soft mortar something called a cramp-iron. This iron would serve two purposes. It would strengthen the walls and it would protrude from the wall and be useful for hanging things. It has been said to have been used to hang curtains or drapes, suits of armor, shields, spoils of war and items made of gold, such as pitchers and cups. Eliakim would be that cramp-iron, or "nail," that God had fastened securely in the government, and all of his family from the poorest to the wealthiest would hang their glory upon him.

This is where we find the weakness of man in managing the affairs of God. All of the blessings that Eliakim would gain from this position appear to have been too much for him. It is apparent that he misused them by favoring his own family. He was to be "a glorious throne to his father's house," and his whole family would want to sit upon his accomplishments instead of their own. Eliakim would yield to their requests and/or demands and compromise the integrity of his position.

In that day, the LORD said that the nail would be removed and everything that was hung on it would fall to the ground. The burden of his own family would become too heavy for Eliakim and the nail would be pulled out of the mortar. Some scholars think that verse 25 is referring back to the removal of Shebna from his office, but the language is consistent with how Eliakim's fortune has been described.

Our sovereign God exalts all that will humble themselves and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He will raise them up to positions of significance and of abundant blessings. Yet, many will find themselves lying on the ground under a heap of burdens, because they misused or neglected the blessings that God has entrusted to them. It could be that they were blessed with knowledge, which they would not share, or that they yielded to temptation and brought disgrace to the name and office of Jesus.

Each of us is a steward over the house of God. That is our significance in this life. We serve as ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ. Like the man over the house in Isaiah's day, we speak with the authority and power of our King. There are many around us, however, who would take advantage of that. They will try to twist our words to their advantage or they will attempt to get us to say something that is wrong. They might also try to use our influence within the body of Christ to gain a position of power. These people can become heavy burdens, if we do not face them with the truth of God's word.

Take your position in the kingdom of God seriously. Be careful about what you say, about whom you admit into the church and about fellowshipping with those who would use you. Don't waiver from the truth and don't let sin get its foot in the door, or you might find yourself on the ground one day.

Before The Throne:

Meditate on the marvelous way that God has exalted you from a condemned and rebellious sinner to an ambassador for the King of kings. Think and pray about what you deserve and what you have been given. Pray about the responsibilities that come with your position. How should an ambassador behave and what are his or her responsibilities? Ask God to help you to do your job wisely, to keep you from yielding to the pressures and temptations of the people around you. Ask Him to keep your burden light and to strengthen your ministry. Pray for those who would despitefully use you.

For Further Study:

** Eliakim. Isa 36:3,11,22; 37:2; 2Ki 18:18,37;

(v.21) ** clothe. Ge 41:42,43; 1Sa 18:4; Es 8:2,15; ** a father. Isa 9:6,7; Ge 45:8;

(v.22) ** And the key. Mt 16:18,19; Re 1:18; ** so he. Job 12:14; Mt 18:18,19; Re 3:7;

(v.23) ** I will. Ezr 9:8; Ec 12:11; Zec 10:4; ** a glorious. Ge 45:9-13; 1Sa 2:8; Es 4:14; 10:3; Job 36:7; Lu 22:29,30; Re 3:21;

(v.24) ** hang. Ge 41:44,45; 47:11-25; Da 6:1-3; Mt 28:18; Joh 5:22-27; 20:21-23; ** vessels of small. Eze 15:3; Ro 9:22,23; 2Ti 2:20,21;

(v.25) ** the nail. Isa 15,16; ** the burden. Es 9:5-14,24,25; Ps 52:5; 146:3; Jer 17:5,6; ** for the. Isa 46:11; 48:15; Jer 4:28; Eze 5:13,15,17; Mic 4:4;

Isaiah 22:15-19

What Have You Here?

15 Thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say, 16 What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock? 17 Behold, the LORD will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee. 18 He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord's house. 19 And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down.

This passage should be considered a separate prophecy from that which came before it. In it, Isaiah shifts his focus from the spiritual state of the nation during Zedekiah's reign to one of its earlier leaders who typified the people of Zedekiah's day. Like the previous prophecies, it was probably spoken during Hezekiah's rein, but its fulfillment would have occurred much earlier than that of the previous verses.

Isaiah was directed by God to go to the treasurer whose name was Shebna. This was probably the same Shebna who is mentioned in the 18th and 19th chapters of 2 Kings. The name of Shebna's father is not mentioned anywhere in the scriptures, and his name seems to be of Aramaic origin. This has led many scholars to believe that he may have been of foreign descent, although others dispute the possibility.

Shebna was "over the house." This was the position of steward over all of the king's affairs. Thus, Shebna was second in command to the king. Evidently, he was having a sepulchre carved for himself high in the rocks where only holy men or royalty were buried. While the entire nation was worried about the threat from Sennacherib, Shebna was using the occasion to memorialize himself.

"What have you here," Isaiah asked? He wanted to know what right Shebna had to this burial place. He was neither royalty nor priest. He also had no ancestors buried there. Shebna was either of common ancestry or of foreign ancestry and was misusing his office, his authority and the country's unfortunate situation to exalt himself and his legacy.

Isaiah warned him very emphatically (v.17) that he would be carried away captive. Yahweh would "surely cover" him. The Hebrew word translated as "cover" is repeated for emphasis and means, "to wrap, to wind, or to roll." This would be done violently (v.18), as the word "turn" is also repeated for emphasis in the original manuscripts. Shebna would be wound up and violently tossed like a ball into a large country where he would die. He would not be buried in Jerusalem among the kings, but in a foreign country as a common slave. The glory after which he sought would make him the disgrace of his master's (Hezekiah's) household.

Before that time, God would drive him from his office (v.19) and from the position that he held in the king's government. He would be pulled down.

Verse 19 helps us establish the time of the prophecy, because, when Shebna is first introduced in 2 Kings 18, it appears that he has already been reduced to the level of scribe; and Eliakim, whom Isaiah writes about next, has become the steward of Hezekiah's household. We do not know how or when Shebna was carried away captive.

Jesus said, "For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." (Luke 14:11) Shebna's sin was that of self-exaltation. While the nation was in serious jeopardy, he thought only of his own fame and fortune. He typified the people of Jerusalem who would come after him and would be similarly self-absorbed. Taking opportunities to enrich themselves, celebrating and partying while the city was under siege, and caring more about their own physical safety than the spiritual condition of their nation.

It is something about which every Christian, including the pastor's, deacons, elders, worship leaders, choir members, Sunday school teachers, and individual church members, need to concern themselves. God has given each of us an important position in His house. We Christians make up the priesthood of the believer, and our nation is in serious spiritual trouble. Will we neglect or misuse our position in God's house to benefit or exalt ourselves or will we humble ourselves and serve the household of God, as we have been chosen by Him to do? That is a very serious question.

Before The Throne:

Before you do something for yourself today, ask yourself, "What have you here?" What right do you, as a child of God, as a member of His priesthood, have to whatever it is that you are after? Will doing that thing or getting what you want necessitate that you neglect your duties as God's appointed priest? Perhaps you have already recognized your neglect. Pray about it. God will forgive you, of course, but He will also begin to use you in very significant ways. Humble yourself before Him today and commit yourself to His service. If you have been struggling with the sin of pride, ask Him for help and be ready to accept His way of humbling you. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.

For Further Study:

** treasurer. 1Ch 27:25; Ac 8:27; ** Shebna. Isa 36:3; 37:2; 2Ki 18:18,37; 19:2; ** which. 1Ki 4:6; 2Ki 10:5;

(v.16) ** What hast. Isa 52:5; Mic 2:10; ** hewed. Isa 14:18; 2Sa 18:18; 2Ch 16:14; Job 3:14; Mt 27:60;

(v.17) ** cover. Es 7:8; Job 9:24; Jer 14:3;

(v.18) ** surely. Isa 17:13; Am 7:17;

(v.19) Job 40:11,12; Ps 75:6,7; Eze 17:24; Lu 1:52;

Isaiah 22:12-14

The Unpardonable Sin

12 And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: 13 And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die. 14 And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

"And in that day," in the day that the city was about to be taken and the people were dependent on their own devices to defend it, God would be calling them, as He is always calling us, to repent. There should have been weeping and mourning, not for the loss of the city or for the dangers that they faced, but for the spiritual state of their nation. The people should have been putting on the sackcloth and turning to God in confession and in prayer for forgiveness of their sins.

Instead, they were partying with a defeatist's attitude. We spoke about this sort of behavior in our section on verse 2 where it was merely implied by the phrase, "a joyous city." Now, however, Isaiah is addressing the problem directly. It is perhaps the most despicable attitude that one can have toward his Creator.

In the Apocrypha, the book of Wisdom identifies this mindset with pure wickedness. "For the ungodly said, reasoning with themselves, but not aright, Our life is short and tedious, and in the death of a man there is no remedy: neither was there any man known to have returned from the grave. For we are born at all adventure: and we shall be hereafter as though we had never been: for the breath in our nostrils is as smoke, and a little spark in the moving of our heart: Which being extinguished, our body shall be turned into ashes, and our spirit shall vanish as the soft air, And our name shall be forgotten in time, and no man shall have our works in remembrance, and our life shall pass away as the trace of a cloud, and shall be dispersed as a mist, that is driven away with the beams of the sun, and overcome with the heat thereof. For our time is a very shadow that passeth away; and after our end there is no returning: for it is fast sealed, so that no man cometh again. Come on therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are present: and let us speedily use the creatures like as in youth. Let us fill ourselves with costly wine and ointments: and let no flower of the spring pass by us: Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds, before they be withered: Let none of us go without his part of our voluptuousness: let us leave tokens of our joyfulness in every place: for this is our portion, and our lot is this." (Wisdom 2:1-9)

This is a mindset that shows a complete disregard for the existence of God; for even, if a person only suspected that there was a God, he would be more inclined to seek Him as death approached. Instead, it is the general tendency of mankind to try to enjoy life while they have it, because tomorrow they shall die. "Life is short. Enjoy it while you can."

The people of Jerusalem were enjoying it while they could; knowing that Nebuchadnezzar's forces would soon overrun their city and murder many of its inhabitants. They had no God and, thus, no hope for life after death. It is the unforgivable sin, and Isaiah knew that the people would not repent. The LORD of hosts whispered the words in his ears. "Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die!"

Death does not purge our sins, and we should not think that this is the meaning of the passage. It says that their sins shall not be purged until they die, not by their death. At the time of death men shall be judged for their sins and cast into outer darkness, into the blackness of hell. Only faith can justify the sinner, and death ends all chances of acquiring faith.

God provided for our justification by sacrificing His Lamb on the altar of the cross at Calvary. Except we have faith in the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, there will be no forgiveness, no pardons, and no second chances given on the Day of Judgment.

Faith is a gift from God. It changes the way we look at life; it changes our purpose in life; and it allows us to plan for eternity. With true godly faith, who could waste their time partying? Life on this earth is short. There is precious little time for us to serve our Lord and to lay up our treasures in heaven where we will spend eternity. Our greatest joy will come when we are able to see the Lord's magnificent face and worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

Before The Throne:

Thank the Lord for providing you with sufficient understanding of His word and with the saving faith that assures you of eternal life. Praise Him for the work that He has done in your life, changing you, using you, and bringing you closer to maturity. Pray for those poor souls who have no hope and are merrily partying themselves into hell. Ask the Lord to help you be the light of their world who leads them to faith in the Lord Jesus. Go out today and be about your Father's business, because you do not know when He will call you home.

For Further Study:

** call. 2Ch 35:25; Ne 8:9-12; 9:9; Ec 3:4,11; Joe 1:13; 2:17; Jas 4:8-10; Jas 5:1; ** to baldness. Isa 15:2; Ezr 9:3; Job 1:20; Am 8:10; Jon 3:6; Mic 1:16;

(v.13) ** behold. Isa 5:12; 21:4,5; 56:12; Am 6:3-7; Lu 17:26-29; ** let. Isa 56:12; 1Co 15:32; Jas 5:5;

(v.14) ** it was. Isa 5:9; 1Sa 9:15; Am 3:7; ** Surely. Nu 15:25-31; 1Sa 3:14; Eze 24:13; Joh 8:21-24; Heb 10:26,27; Re 22:11,12;