Naked and Obedient
1 In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it; 2 At the same time spake the LORD by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.
In this chapter, Isaiah describes the commencement of the destruction of Egypt and Ethiopia, which had been prophesied in the two previous chapters. The year that Tartan captured Ashdod was 711 B.C. which was during the reign of Hezekiah in Judah.
Shalmaneser V of Assyria had laid siege to Samaria for three years but he died during the siege, perhaps at the hand of his general, Sargon. Sargon subsequently assumed the throne and, with this change of leadership, many of the kings who had been forced to pay tribute to Shalmaneser saw it as an opportunity to revolt. Jaman, king of Ashdod in Philistia, was one of those kings. The Egyptians promised to help in the revolt, and many of the other Philistine cities, along with Edom and Moab, also participated. Judah seems to have stayed out of the controversy but had placed much of her trust in Egypt to protect her against an Assyrian invasion..
After taking Samaria, Sargon wanted to march on toward Egypt. Ashdod was an extremely well fortified city and needed to be captured before proceeding into Egypt. Therefore, Sargon removed the threat of Ashdod by sending Tartan to take it. The siege of Ashdod began in 713 B.C. and lasted three years until 711. It was in 713, therefore, that Isaiah actually received these instructions from the Lord (See v.3).
Yahweh delivered His message directly to Isaiah, who was to propagate it by acting symbolically. Isaiah was told to take off the sackcloth that he wore. The sackcloth was a coarse hairy garment often worn by prophets. Elijah in 2 Kings 1:8 wore it, and John the Baptist appears to have worn it (Mat 3:4; also see Zechariah 13:4). He was also told to remove his shoes and to go barefoot.
Now, the scripture said that Isaiah went naked and barefoot, and we must be careful how we interpret that. The prophet most likely wore an undergarment under his sackcloth. This was generally the custom. Therefore, he may not have been totally naked and would not have been viewed as immoral by the people to whom he was ministering. Yet, it was humiliating to walk around in only one's undergarment.
"What Isaiah was directed to do, therefore, was simply opposed to common custom, and not to moral decency. He was to lay aside the dress of a mourner and preacher of repentance, and to have nothing on but his tunic (cetoneth); and in this, as well as barefooted, he was to show himself in public. This was the costume of a man who had been robbed and disgraced, or else of a beggar or prisoner of war." (Keil & Delitzsch Commentary)
On the other hand, Isaiah was imitating the condition of the Egyptian and the Ethiopian when Assyria would lead them into captivity. In verse four, we are told that their "buttocks" would be "uncovered." Albert Barnes' Commentary on the fourth verse says, "...that in the figures on the remains of their (the Egyptians') temples, prisoners are often represented as naked, or only in aprons, with disheveled hair, and with their hands chained."
It is more reasonable to believe that Isaiah wore his undergarment, because the people of that region were extremely modest people. The important thing for us to remember is that either mode of dress, undergarments or completely naked, would have been extremely humiliating, but Isaiah obeyed Yahweh's command and went naked and barefoot for three years.
Had Isaiah not obeyed, he would have been left more naked and humiliated, for the Lord would have seen his disobedient heart and he would one day have to answer the Lord face to face for his disobedience.
How often have you put off doing the Lord's work, because it was difficult, inconvenient, not on your list of priorities, expensive, or humiliating? Perhaps the world looks favorably on you, but God sees your heart. Each of us needs to learn obedience. No one is perfect as long as we are in this flesh, and we must constantly strive to submit more of ourselves to the Lord.
Even Jesus learned obedience. "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." (Hebrews 5:7-9)
He has set the example and calls out to you, saying, "Follow me." Will you follow?
Before The Throne:
Confess your sins before the Lord and believe in your heart that Jesus has paid for each of them. You are forgiven. Ask God to help you learn to be more obedient. Ask Him to help you to make His work your first priority in life. Ask Him to keep you from doing self-righteous or self-serving works in His name and to show you what is His true and perfect will. Pray for the courage to obey like Isaiah, without questioning, without hesitation and with the willingness to suffer any humiliation, hardship or pain. Praise Him for every opportunity to serve in the kingdom of God.
For Further Study:
(v.1) 2Ki 18:17; ** Ashdod. 1Sa 6:17; Jer 25:20; Am 1:8; ** and took. Jer 25:29,30;
(v.2) ** Go. Jer 13:1-11; 19:1-15; Eze 4:5; Mt 16:24; ** the sackcloth. 2Ki 1:8; Zec 13:4; Mt 3:4; Re 11:3; ** put. Ex 3:5; Jos 5:15; Eze 24:17,23; ** naked. 1Sa 19:24; 2Sa 6:20; Job 1:20,21; Mic 1:8,11; Joh 21:7; Ac 19:16;
The Peace We Enjoy
5 And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, ye shall offer it at your own will. 6 It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire. 7 And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is abominable; it shall not be accepted. 8 Therefore every one that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the LORD: and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
The law of God is a dangerous thing.
"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith." (Galatians 3:10-11)
This principle is displayed very clearly in this passage, which applies primarily to the vow or voluntary peace offerings, which were to be eaten on the first two days. The emphasis here must be placed on the idea of a willingness. Worship should not be a mechanical or mandated function of the believer. Worship should be done voluntarily and joyfully, for the Lord loves a cheerful giver.
However, this does not give the worshiper the option to worship any way he or she pleases. The seventh verse tells us that, if anyone eats the meat of their peace offering on the third day, they commit a grievous sin against the Lord. They will have to bear the penalty of their sins and will be excommunicated from the congregation.
Once a sacrifice is made to the Lord according to the law, it becomes a very sacred and holy thing. Every detail of God's law must be observed with absolute perfection. That is why man has always failed in his attempts to live by it and why he remains under the curse of the law.
"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10)
But, why is this law repeated here with the first four commandments? Rev. S.H. Kellog, D.D. in his commentary for the Expositor's Bible suggests that the reason lies with man's worldly greed. He was very likely to break the Sabbath commandment, because his greed would drive him to work on that day in an attempt to gain more wealth.
Likewise, if he had food left over from the peace offering on the third day, he would be tempted to economize and eat it, instead of burning it. This same sort of greed was demonstrated when God blessed Israel with the manna from heaven as they traveled through the wilderness. They were only allowed to gather as much as they could eat each day, but many tried to save some for the following day. However, God caused the manna to melt during the night.
The depraved nature of man has prevented us from obeying God's ordinances, and has demonstrated our need for a Savior. Therefore, Paul wrote, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:" (Galatians 3:13)
This does not, however, give us the liberty to sin; it only removes the curse that is incurred when we stumble. Therefore, let us always remember the peace with God that has been made for us by the blood of his Son Jesus Christ.
Before The Throne:
Give thanks for the peace that you have with God. Confess your sins and then offer up the sacrifice of praise.
"I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety." (Psalms 4:8)
For Further Study:
** a sacrifice: Lev 3:1-17; 7:16; 22:21; Exo 24:5; 2Ch 31:2; Eze 45:15-17; Eze 46:2, 12; Eph 2:13-14; ** ye shall: Lev 1:3; 22:19, 23, 22:29;
** Lev 7:11-17;
** abominable: Isa 1:13; 65:4; 66:3; Jer 16:18; ** it shall: Lev 7:18-21; 22:23, 25;
It is Nothing!
4 Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God.
What do you worship beside the one true God?
The Hebrew word elyil
(pronounced el-`eel) is translated as "idols" but literally means, "Nothings!" Was that your answer? The word is used to bring a contrast between idols, elyil,
and God, elohiym
There is only one God. "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:2-3) All other gods are elyil.
They are powerless figments of man's imagination, which is always evil (Genesis 6:5). When you worship them in any way, you are bringing them before, i.e. into the presence of, the LORD.
Let me ask you again. What do you worship beside the one true God? Some who claim to be Christians have told me, "Oh, horoscopes are nothing. They are just fun!" I agree. They are elyil.
A few weeks ago I overheard a lady who comes to church only occasionally speaking about her Tarot card readings. Elyil
Be careful what you think about those people. How many times have you neglected your daily devotions, because you overslept or you got caught up in a television program and forgot about your time with God? Elyil
! You may have had visitors arrive at your house right when you were ready to leave for church. Instead of inviting them along, you stayed home and spent precious time with them. Elyil
You see, we place too many nothings between us and God. He has brought us out of the land of Egypt, out of the captivity to sin, by the sacrifice of the passover Lamb. He has set us free from the condemnation of His law, has forgiven us our sins, has clothed us in the robes of His righteousness and has granted us eternal life. Yet we waste our time on nothings. When will we begin to serve Him?
The Catholic church does not like the second part of our passage, "...nor make to yourselves molten gods." This refers to the second commandment against graven images and likenesses. They bow down to statues of Mary and pray to statues of their many saints. They even worship pictures (likenesses) of Jesus. How do they know who they are worshiping? We do not know what Mary, most of their saints or Jesus looked like. These graven images and likenesses are nothing, yet they bow down and pray to them.
I know many protestants who also have pictures and statues of Jesus or the crucifix in their homes. And, every year I must resist the people in the church who want to erect an evergreen tree in our church and decorate it (Jeremiah 10:3-4 KJV) or a crèche, and in the spring want to scatter colored eggs around on the lawn. These are all nothings which distract our people, especially the children, away from the gospel message.
We are all guilty to some extent of breaking the first and second commandments. That is why we need a Savior. Fifteen times in this chapter alone, God says, "I am the LORD your God." There is a good reason why He keeps repeating it. We still don't get it!
Before The Throne:
Alright! You had a busy day and did not do your daily devotions. Maybe you've had several such days. Repent and ask God's forgiveness. Every day is a new beginning for His people. Pray that He will help you to make Him the priority in your life. Ask Him to show you all of the nothings in your life, so that you can lay them aside and focus on Him. Thank Him for giving you a Savior to cover your sins when you stumble.
For Further Study:
Exo 20:3-5; 1Co 10:14; 1Jo 5:21; ** not unto: Lev 26:1; ** molten gods: Exo 20:23; 32:4; 34:17; Deu 27:15; Hag 2:18;
23 In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. 24 In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, [even] a blessing in the midst of the land: 25 Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed [be] Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.
Finally, our chapter climaxes with all the blessings of the Messianic salvation being poured out upon the world, which since the beginning of time has stood in opposition to Him. These last three verses are a perfect testimony to the power of God's grace. They demonstrate that there is nothing His love cannot overcome.
"In that day shall there be a highway." Undoubtedly, man's desire to travel and to conduct commerce would eventually drive him to build a super highway from Egypt to Assyria, but this is not the meaning. Isaiah speaks of a spiritual super highway, built upon the gospel of Christ who is the way, the truth and the life. (See our study on 11:16) He is speaking of a time when there will be unity between the world powers; a time when age-old enemies would mingle as brothers; and a time when the world's greatest powers would unite themselves in service to the LORD.
Israel would be one third of the world's powers, but they would no longer oppress her. Instead, Israel would be a blessing to them. Israel would become what God intended her to be. She would be the center from which God's blessings would flow to the rest of the world.
Isaiah describes a time in the messianic age that is difficult for us to imagine. Even today, these nations are sharply divided. They comprise the nations that are most likely to draw the other nations of the earth into a world war. Israel is hated throughout the Middle East. She is at peace with Egypt but is an enemy of Egypt's other allies, the nations of Islam. Those nations want to destroy all signs of Judaism and Christianity. Can God's grace overcome these obstacles, which have existed for millennia?
Isaiah says that God will surely bring these nations together to serve Him and that God would call Egypt, "My people." Until that time, Yahweh had called only Israel "my people". Now, they would be grafted together on the same vine. "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." (Ephesians 2:13-16)
And, He would call Assyria, "the work of My hands." All peoples are the works of God's hands. "Know ye that the LORD he [is] God: [it is] he [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves; [we are] his people, and the sheep of his pasture." (Psalms 100:3)
However, the Assyrians would become more than merely a creation that rebelled against its Creator. "Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new... For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:10)
Israel retains the title of "Mine inheritance." Yet, each of these titles will belong to all three groups, because they will be united under one God. They will all be heirs, children of God, and a new creation in Christ Jesus. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name." (John 1:12)
These three nations represent the whole world in the messianic age. There will be at that time one glorious kingdom in which all people will serve the Lord Jesus Christ. All who have entered in will be God's children, and heirs according to His promise. God's grace will overcome the age-old hatreds that exist between the many people groups of the world. His grace will overcome their idolatry, murders, and all other sins to reconcile them to Himself.
If He can do this on a worldwide scale, imagine what He can do in you. Receive Christ and become a child of God. Surrender everything to Him and serve Him. Look forward to the day when Jesus will return with anxious anticipation, because you will see God's blessings go out to the entire world.
Before The Throne:
Pray for that day to come quickly. Thank God for His grace and His blessings upon your life. Pray for His witnesses who are suffering to bring the gospel to the people of the Middle East. Continue to pray that the lies of Islam would be exposed by the events that are taking place over there today. Ask God how you should serve Him today. Promise Him that you will do what He asks. Sing a song of praise and worship to the Savior who will make all these things happen.
For Further Study:
(v.23) Isa 11:16; 35:8-10; 40:3-5; Eph 2:18-22; 3:6-8;
(v.24) ** shall. Isa 6:13; 49:6,22; 65:8,22; 66:12,19-21; De 32:43; Ps 117:1,2; Zec 2:10,11; 8:20-23; Lu 2:32; Ro 10:11-13; 15:9-12,27; ** a blessing. Isa 65:8; Ge 12:2; Eze 34:26; Zec 8:13; Ga 3:14;
(v.25) ** the Lord. Isa 61:9; 65:23; Nu 6:24,27; 24:1; Ps 67:6,7; 115:15; Eph 1:3; ** Blessed. Isa 29:23; Ps 100:3; 138:8; Ho 2:23; Ro 3:29; 9:24,25; Ga 6:15; Eph 2:10; Php 1:6; Col 3:10,11; 1Pe 2:10; ** and Israel. De 32:9;
Smiting and Healing
21 And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it. 22 And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.
The seed finally will have matured and the kingdom of God will have enveloped all of Egypt. It began with an altar and a stone. Five small cities believed and the kingdom grew.
"Yahweh shall be known to Egypt." He would literally make Himself known to all of Egypt. The testimony of the five cities, the evidence of Yahweh’s presence and the preaching of men who were sent by God would combine to do this. In this manner, God would reveal Himself to those who were once strangers and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God. Now they would be fellow citizens with the saints.
The Egyptians would then know God on a personal level. These once heathen people would have a relationship with Yahweh, the true God of creation and of their salvation. They would worship Him through sacrifice and oblation. The original language is emphatic, indicating that both blood sacrifices and bloodless offerings would be made.
If we looked for the fulfillment of this part of the prophecy during the Old Testament dispensation, we would be disappointed. Of course there were many Jews in Egypt. The country had much to offer, and Jewish people had been moving there since Solomon's reign. Surely these Jewish immigrants had an influence on the Egyptians and many Egyptians were converted to Judaism, but it was nothing close to the scale mentioned in these verses.
This is a Messianic prophecy. The blood sacrifice represents the worship of Jesus Christ by those who have been cleansed by the blood, which He shed for them. He is the passover Lamb. The bloodless sacrifices represent the people of Egypt who would present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God.
These committed Christians will make vows and keep them. Isaiah is not speaking of legalistic vows such as a vow of celibacy, a vow of poverty, or a vow of silence. These things have nothing to do with service to God. Instead, he speaks of vows that are made from the heart and from an understanding of God's will. They are vows that are a joy to keep, because they spring from a close relationship with the Lord.
"And the LORD shall smite Egypt." This is the promise that the Egyptian converts will have eternal security in Jesus Christ, like every other Christian. "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." (Hebrews 12:6-8)
God smites and heals. He punishes us for our transgressions; we return to Him and pray for relief; and He heals our wounds and makes us stronger from the experience.
In the story of the exodus, Egypt is symbolic of the sinful world, with its false gods and its enmity toward God's Son, Israel. God brought Israel out of that sin and separated her into her own land, just as He has brought every Christian out of a life of sin and sanctified him for His purpose. In the end, God will reconcile the world to Himself. "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:" (Ephesians 1:10)
Do you belong to Him? Then understand that He will chastise you when you err. He will bring you back to Him, but you must turn and pray for Him to help you. The most wonderful thing about being a child of God is knowing that Jesus heals. He will heal our infirmities, our relationships, our finances and, best of all, our sins.
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)
Before The Throne:
Thank the Lord for this picture of the awesome work that He is doing in this world. Continue to pray for nations like Egypt, which are under the influence of wicked spiritual forces. Pray for the Christians in Arab countries. Ask God to make their testimonies heard and understood. Pray that the dangers of being a Christian in those countries will be removed and that many people will get saved. If you are going through a time of chastening, thank the Lord for showing that He loves you. Pray for relief and thank Him in advance for healing you.
For Further Study:
(v.21) ** Lord shall. Isa 11:9; 37:20; 55:5; 1Sa 17:46; 1Ki 8:43; Ps 67:2; 98:2,3; Hab 2:14; Joh 17:3; Ga 4:8,9; ** and shall. Zep 3:10; Mal 1:11; Joh 4:21-24; Ro 15:27,28; 1Pe 2:5,9; ** shall vow. Isa 44:5; Ec 5:4; Jon 1:16;
(v.22) ** he shall smite. De 32:39; Job 5:18; Ho 5:15; 6:2; Heb 12:11; ** they shall. Isa 6:10; 55:7; Ho 14:1; Am 4:6-12; Ac 26:17-20; 28:26,27;
Pillars of Faith
19 In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD. 20 And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.
In that day, the day when the seed of the kingdom of God would be planted in the five Egyptian cities, the kingdom would begin to grow like a mustard seed.
An altar would stand in the midst of the nation as a sign that Yahweh was worshipped there. This would not be a temple that competed with the one in Jerusalem or an altar upon which sacrifices were made, although Onias, under the reign of Ptolemy IV in the second century BC, obtained permission to build a temple and an altar at Leontopolis. Instead, it would be best to interpret this "altar" in a more figurative sense, meaning that it would become obvious that Yahweh was worshipped in the land of Egypt.
The pillar (Hebrew: matstebah) is what Jacob erected as a memorial to the presence of the LORD. In most places in scripture the word means, "idol or image," but in this context it is used to mean a memorial to the presence of God. Centuries later, there were many memorials to the LORD erected throughout Egypt, and the city of Alexandria played an important role in the history of the church. However, the significance of the pillar and the altar in Egypt is that it would be obvious that Yahweh was worshipped there.
When God is worshiped and honored by someone, whether by an entire nation or a single individual, there is an unmistakable holy presence about him that cannot be ignored. One day, people would enter Egypt and know that God was worshiped there. They would come from Israel but know that they were in the Holy Land. Likewise, when you meet a Christian there is something about that person that testifies that God's presence is with him.
Throughout its history, Egypt had been an oppressor of other people. She had kept God's people, Israel, enslaved for over four hundred years. Now she would learn what it was like to be God’s people, because the world would be at enmity with her. She would become the victim. Egypt would cry out to the LORD for relief from her oppressors, and He would respond.
What a difference! In 19:3 we saw that Egypt cried out in vain to her idols, soothsayers, and magicians but now she is able to seek help from Yahweh, and He answers her prayers. He would send a Savior, a great one, who would deliver them. There are several people who could have filled the role of deliverer for Egypt. Alexander the Great could be meant or Ptolemy Soter (the savior) could have fulfilled the prophecy. However, the true fulfillment of the promised Savior can only be found in the person of Jesus Christ.
Only Jesus can bring true salvation, and only His presence will put the world at enmity with someone. The world hated Him and it will hate all who belong to Him.
As Christians, we stand out among others. We make them uncomfortable, because they sense the presence of God, although they may not know what it is. We have different interests, different habits, and speak about things that sound like foolishness to them. They feel threatened by the foolishness of Christ's people and they respond by persecuting us.
Isn't it good to know that any Christian can call out to God and be comforted in the face of oppression and persecution? We know that we have a Savior, the same Savior promised to Egypt, who will deliver us from the cares of this world into an eternity of peace, love and perfect understanding.
If you do not know Christ as your Savior and you think that your sins have been too great, look at Egypt, one of the world's worst nations, spiritually and politically. However, God's grace was able to overcome all of that and provide a Savior. He can do the same for you. He wants to do the same for you. Surrender your life to Him and experience the joy of His grace.
Before The Throne:
Ask God to make His presence in you obvious to those around you. Pray for Him to change you so that you will be a walking memorial to Him and so people will know that Jesus Christ is worshiped within your heart. Pray for Egypt, a predominantly Muslim country today, which is still in need of a Savior. Ask God to use the recent terrorist acts to expose the vanity of Islam and to cause the Arab world to believe in Jesus Christ. Ask Him to set pillars at the borders of Egypt to let other Arabs know that Jesus is worshiped there.
For Further Study:
(v.19) Isa 66:23; Ge 12:7; 28:18; Ex 24:4; Jos 22:10,26; Zec 6:15; Heb 13:10;
(v.20) ** for a. Isa 55:13; Jos 4:20,21; 22:27,28,34; 24:26,27; ** they shall. Isa 20:4; 52:5; Ex 2:23; 3:7; 2Ki 13:4,5; Ps 50:15; Jas 5:4; * he shall send. Isa 37:36; 45:21,22; Lu 2:11; Tit 2:13;
18 In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction."
"In that day..." During the same period of time about which we have been reading, the day when the Egyptian people would begin to realize that God was controlling their destiny, five cities would be converted.
Scholars have pondered the reason for the number five. Five was a very small number when compared to the many cities of Egypt. Some think that, since five is half of ten (The number of completion), it is symbolic of a large number of Egypt's cities. On the other hand, the number five seems to be symbolic of the beginnings of spiritual warfare. In Numbers 31, God instructed Moses to war against the five Midianite Kings who had sent their women in to seduce the Israelites and lead them into idolatry. Yet, the Moabites, who were also guilty, were spared. When Joshua entered Canaan, he began by defeating five kings of the Amorites. (Joshua 10)
The significance of the number five, therefore, is probably to show us that God would plant a small seed in Egypt and it would grow. "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." (Matthew 13:31-32)
We should never forget the principle of the mustard seed as we attempt to spread the gospel. A small Bible study in your living room with two or three friends could grow into a mighty church; it could result in those friends winning many other souls to Christ; or it might inspire others in your church to begin a similar outreach. It is impossible for us to see the many ways that God uses our small efforts to grow His kingdom.
In Egypt's five cities, the kingdom of God would be firmly planted. They would speak the language (Hebrew: lip) of Canaan, the Holy Land. In other words, they would understand the ideas of redemption, sanctification and other terms that define the way God interacts with His people. This is the language of the church, which the lost souls of this world do not understand.
At one time, "the whole earth was of one language (lip)" (Genesis 11:1), but God changed it and scattered the people. In the last days, we will all speak again with one lip. "For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent." (Zephaniah 3:9)
And, the residents of the five cities would swear their allegiance to the Yahweh of hosts, the sovereign God who commands all things. This is the essence of salvation. They would not only believe in God and fear Him, but they would love him enough to vow their full allegiance to Him. He would be both Savior and Lord.
There are many theories about the phrase "city of destruction," which would become the name of one of the five cities. Space does not allow us to pursue all of them, and the serious student should look them up, because there is not one favored over the other. For our devotional purposes, it is good to understand this to mean that one of the cities would be known for having destroyed all of the idols in order to encourage the worshipping of Yahweh.
The kingdom of God does not only grow from small seeds among the nations. It also grows from small seeds within the hearts of men. You may have received Christ as your Savior, but have not grown much in your relationship with Him. Let this scripture encourage you to begin to serve Him in some small way and watch your work grow. If you are already His servant, don't let yourself become stagnant. Understand that the kingdom is growing as a result of your work, even though you may not see the growth. Stick to it and let God take care of the results.
Before The Throne:
Pray for spiritual growth and maturity. Ask the Lord to help you draw closer to Him in your prayer, Bible study and work. Pray that He will help you to destroy the idols in your life. Ask Him to help you plant mustard seeds all over your community and to allow you the joy of seeing the kingdom grow as a result of them. Pray for spiritual growth and maturity within the congregation of your church and denomination. Pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
For Further Study:
(v.18) ** that day. Isa 2:11; Zec 2:11; ** shall five. Isa 11:11; 27:13; Ps 68:31; ** speak. Zep 3:9; ** language. Ge 11:1; ** and swear. Isa 45:23,24; De 10:20; Ne 10:29; Jer 12:16;
Stand in Awe
16 In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shaketh over it. 17 And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it.
Verses 16 and 17 stand as a bridge between the judgments that fall upon Egypt as God rides in upon the clouds and the blessings that result from those judgments. Thus, the passage cannot be entirely separated from what has come before or what follows.
"In that day." refers to the time when Egypt will experience the judgments that have been prophesied in the first part of this chapter. The problem with the whole chapter is that it does not tell us how or when these judgments would come, so it would be purely speculative to apply them to any specific events.
The one thing that is made certain from this passage is that Egypt would somehow recognize that the hand of God was the cause of their problems, although their understanding of this might be far from perfect. As God waved His hand over Egypt, it would become like a nation of frightened women. The Hebrew text uses a noticeable assonance to emphasize the fear. The words "afraid" and "fear" are translated from "charad" and "pachad." Egypt would "shudder with terror" and "stand in awe" because God was shaking His hand over the nation.
"And the land (soil) of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt." There may be a reminder in this phrase of the time of the exodus and the destruction of the Egyptian army at the Red Sea. There was no mistake that the hand of God was involved in getting Israel to the land of promise. Since that time, Egypt had waged war against Israel and invaded their sovereign soil on several occasions.
Now, the very mention of the name of Judah would strike fear into the hearts of the Egyptian people. But, what role does Judah play in the problems and fears of the Egyptians? At the time that this was written, Judah and Egypt were allies, and Judah did not have the military might to be a threat against Egypt.
Some scholars believe that the thought of what Sennacherib had done to Judah was the cause of the Egyptians' fear. Sennacherib had destroyed most of the cities in Judah and it was no secret that he wanted to conquer Egypt. Others believe that this refers to the destruction of Sennacherib's army by the angel of the Lord outside of Jerusalem.
Whatever the circumstances, Egypt would recognize that it was Yahweh whose sovereign hand was causing her problems and striking fear into the hearts of her citizens. This is the first step to her redemption and the blessings that would follow.
The recognition that there is a sovereign God who is in control of our circumstances must be the first step to any man's salvation. Until that occurs, there can be no admission of sins, no visible need for a Savior, no repentance and no submission to the Savior.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. Blessings will always follow after wisdom, because wisdom guides us to make the right decision between life and death. Which one have you chosen?
Before The Throne:
Praise God for His awesome power. Praise Him for His judgments and for His blessings. Praise Him for the Son whom he sent to die for you. Use this prayer time to stand in awe of your sovereign Lord. Use it to submit yourself totally to Him. Make a sacrifice of those things that keep you from doing His works. Pray that He will joyfully accept your sacrifice of praise and worship and that the meditations of your heart would please Him.
For Further Study:
(v.16) ** like. Isa 30:17; Ps 48:6; Jer 30:5-7; 50:37; 51:30; Na 3:13; ** the shaking. Isa 10:32; 11:15; 30:30-32; Zec 2:9;
(v.17) ** the land. Isa 36:1; Jer 25:19,27-31; 43:8-13; 44:28-30; Eze 29:6,7; ** because. Isa 14:24,26,27; 20:2-5; 46:10,11; Da 4:35;
Princes or Fools
11 Surely the princes of Zoan [are] fools, the counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say ye unto Pharaoh, I [am] the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings? 12 Where [are] they? where [are] thy wise [men]? and let them tell thee now, and let them know what the LORD of hosts hath purposed upon Egypt. 13 The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; they have also seduced Egypt, [even they that are] the stay of the tribes thereof. 14 The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken [man] staggereth in his vomit. 15 Neither shall there be [any] work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush, may do.
Political turmoil, a serious natural disaster and, thirdly, the lack of wisdom would combine to make Egypt a very undesirable place to be. A nation can recover from political upheaval, if it has wise counselors to help it restore law and order and to bring credibility back to the government. Likewise, many nations have recovered from natural disasters and have become economically stronger than ever before when they were able to use their resources wisely.
Egypt, on the other hand, was to be led by a band of fools. The princes of Zoan and the counselors of the Pharaoh would be like brutes. Zoan, later called Tanis, was the capital of Egypt at the time. Its princes were there to give wise counsel to the Pharaoh but were nothing more than "yes men," telling the Pharaoh whatever he wanted to hear. They assured him that they were descendants of wise men and of ancient kings but they had no useful advice for him.
Isaiah, therefore, poses the question to the nation. "Where are they?" There would be no wise counsel although there were those who claimed to be wise counselors. Where were they? A truly wise man would know what God had planned for the nation. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, but these people did not know God. They did not recognize His anger, they did not understand His power and sovereignty and they had no hint of what His plans were for their nation.
Noph is believed by most scholars to have been the city of Memphis, another very important city in ancient Egypt. It is mentioned in the thirteenth verse to show the extent of the deception that had taken place. From Zoan to Memphis, the leadership of the tribes (or "castes"), who are called, "the stay," have deceived the nation into believing that she was safe, secure and right in everything that she did.
But, Yahweh had mingled a perverting or distorting spirit into the midst of this nation. It was a spirit that distorted the reality of their situation and caused them to err in all of their decisions. Thus, the nation reeled like a drunkard and convulsed as though vomiting up the sins they had drunk. Neither the head nor the tail, the branch or the rush (See 9:14 for the meaning), were capable of any productive work. Egypt would become a drunken, paralyzed nation.
Egypt's situation should not be so difficult for us to understand. Any nation that is hit with political chaos, anarchy, famine and economic collapse, yet has no effective leadership, would be a terrible place to live. What is often difficult for people to accept is the fact that God is the architect of these things. He has a purpose and a plan for every nation, every leader, and every citizen on the face of this earth. Everything that happens in this world is moving us toward the fulfillment of His purpose.
Wise counsel would understand that "... all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose." (Romans 8:28) Wise counsel would lead the people back to God when disasters strike. They would tell them to seek God's purpose for their lives and follow it. Egypt's leaders did not know God's purpose for the nation, because they did not know God.
What is God's purpose for your life? If you know this one simple fact and strive to achieve it, the nation can collapse around you, but you will be fine. Your purpose will not change; God's plan will not change; and you will not be able to fail. If you do not know God's plan for you, begin by obeying Romans 12:1-2. "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. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:1-2)
Do this, and He will certainly reveal His plan to you.
Before The Throne:
How will you present yourself to God today? Will you submit yourself to His purpose? Do it in prayer. Ask Him to help you be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Pray that He will keep you from trusting your own foolish wisdom and that He will teach you to turn to Him for all of your decisions. Pray that He would give you the ability to wisely counsel the people around you. Pray for godly leadership in our government and its allies. Pray about the ungodly Muslim threat that now hangs over our nation. Will God use them to punish us the same way He used the Assyrians to punish the ancient world? Our nation is wholly dependent on our prayers today. Please do not neglect to lift us before the Lord.
For Further Study:
(v.11) ** the princes. Isa 29:14; 44:25; Job 5:12,13; 12:17; Ps 33:10; Jer 49:7; Eze 7:26; 1Co 1:19,20; ** Zoan. Isa 30:4; Nu 13:22; Ps 78:12,43; Eze 30:14; ** brutish. Ps 73:22; 92:6; Pr 30:2; Jer 10:14,21; ** I am. Ge 41:38,39; 1Ki 4:30; Ac 7:22;
(v.12) ** where are thy. Isa 5:21; 47:10-13; Jud 9:38; Jer 2:28; 1Co 1:20; ** let them. Isa 40:13,14; 41:22,23; 44:7; Job 11:6,7; Ro 11:33,34;
(v.13) ** princes of Zoan. Ro 1:22; ** Noph. Jer 2:16; 46:14,19; Eze 30:13; ** stay. Nu 24:17; 1Sa 14:38; **marg: Zec 10:4; 1Pe 2:7;
(v.14) ** hath mingled. Isa 29:10,14; 47:10,11; 1Ki 22:20-23; Job 12:16; Eze 14:7-9; 2Th 2:11; ** as a. Isa 28:7,8; 29:9; Job 12:25; Jer 25:15,16,27; 48:26;
(v.15) Isa 9:14,15; Ps 128:2; Pr 14:23; Hab 3:17; Hag 1:11; 1Th 4:11,12;
5 And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up. 6 And they shall turn the rivers far away; [and] the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither. 7 The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no [more]. 8 The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish. 9 Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded. 10 And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices [and] ponds for fish.
The first section of this prophecy described the political turmoil that Egypt would experience when Yahweh would come to execute judgment. This second section addresses a natural disaster and a great spiritual disappointment, which the nation was going to suffer. Natural disasters bring economic problems and, when combined with spiritual disappointment, bring a feeling of complete hopelessness.
The natural disaster being described is the drying up of the Nile. It was customarily referred to as the sea, because of its enormous width and power. The Nile was the lifeblood of the nation of Egypt. When it swelled its banks, it fertilized the farmland and provided an abundance of crops. The cycles of the river were in a delicate balance with the needs of the land. "The great peculiarity of the river is its annual overflow, caused by the periodical tropical rains. 'With wonderful clock-like regularity, the river begins to swell, about the end of June, rises 24 feet at Cairo, between the 20th and 30th of September, and falls as much, by the middle of May. Six feet higher than this is devastation; six feet lower is destitution.' -- Bartlett." (Smith's Bible Dictionary)
If the river rose to only six feet below its normal levels, famine would strike the nation. Imagine the effect it would have, if it were nearly dry! The smaller rivers and streams that feed into the Nile were prophesied to dry up. These not only fed the larger body of water, but formed a network of defenses across the southern end of the country. An invading army would have difficulty attacking swiftly and unexpectedly when it had to cross those rivers but, if the rivers were dry, there would be nothing to slow them down.
The reeds and flags would wither along with all of the other crops. The reeds were used to make papyrus from which were made a great variety of products important to the economy. "And, besides paper, of this rush or reed were made sails, ropes, and other naval rigging, as also mats, blankets, clothes, and even ships were made of the stalk of the papyrus; and the Egyptian priests wore shoes made of it " (John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)
Any culture that is dependent on a river for its subsistence is going to have a vibrant fishing industry. The Egyptian diet was very dependent on the Nile and the fisherman who worked her. This was another industry, which would of course suffer in such a crisis.
Verse 9 speaks of the fine flax. Flax was an important product in Egypt, and the people were very skilled at making expensive, fine linen cloth from it. They also made "networks" or fine fishing nets from the flax, but these craftsmen would also be "confounded" or ashamed for their lack of production.
The nation would literally be broken in its purposes, in the foundations of its socio-economic structure. There are a great variety of translations for the final verse. I prefer, "...all that make wages (the common laborers) shall gather (be grieved in) their souls." It will be a time of serious grief and self-examination.
The Nile was so important to Egypt that it was one of their most important gods, named Hapi, and was often on an equal footing with Ra, the sun god. This great god was going to abandon its people, proving the vanity of everything for which Egypt and her people had lived. Their lives had been built on a fantasy that had dried up at the approach of the one true God, Yahweh.
We should all think about the things in which we have placed our trust. Ask yourself what you would do, if you suddenly lost your job and there was no one to help you. What will happen to you when the Social Security system goes broke or the stock market crashes? How would you eat, if all of the supermarkets and restaurants closed? What would you do, if the US dollar suddenly became worthless? (It is already worthless, but we trust in it as though it were some kind of god)
All these things are under the control of our Lord Jesus Christ. When He comes in the clouds, everyone who has been dependent on worldly possessions will be like the people of Egypt. The very foundations of their lives and purposes will crumble and they will have nowhere to turn. Hopelessness is the absolute worst feeling that anyone can experience, but we have our hope in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Make Him your source of life, your purpose in life, your provider and your shelter.
Before The Throne:
Do some self-examination and determine how dependent you are on worldly comforts. If you were to lose your home, would it matter? What about your job? Are you so totally focused on Jesus that major disasters would not radically affect your work or purpose? Pray about that. If you cannot completely dedicate yourself to the work of the gospel, ask God to help you. Jesus does not want part-time disciples. "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33)
For Further Study:
(v.5) Jer 51:36; Eze 30:12; Zec 10:11; 14:18;
(v.6) ** and the. Isa 37:25; 2Ki 19:24; ** the reeds. Isa 18:2; Ex 2:3; Job 8:11;
(v.7) ** every. Isa 32:20; Jer 14:4; Eze 19:13; Joe 1:17,18;
(v.8 ) Ex 7:21; Nu 11:5; Eze 47:10; Hab 1:15;
(v.9) ** work. 1Ki 10:28; Pr 7:16; Eze 27:7;
(v.10) ** make. Ex 7:19; 8:5; De 11:10;
1 The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. 2 And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. 3 And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. 4 And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.
Chapters 18-20 of Isaiah all deal with the same kingdom, Egypto-Ethiopia. Chapter 18 dealt with the kingdom under an Ethiopian Dynasty and prophesied the downfall of the kingdom to the advances of Senacherib, king of Assyria. This nineteenth chapter deals with the nation after the Assyrian domination when there was internal chaos, civil wars, and anarchy until Psammetichus, "the cruel lord" (v.4), gained control of the country.
Albert Barnes' Commentary on these four verses says, "... the more probable interpretation is that which refers it to Psammetichus. Twelve kings were in contention, of whom he was one. He called in the aid of the Arabians, the pirates of Caria and Iona (Herodot. ii. 152; see the Analysis of the chapter; Diod. i. 66). This was in the twentieth year of the reign of Manasseh. Psammetichus reigned fifty-four years and was succeeded by Nechus his son, called in Scripture Pharaoh-Necho, and often mentioned under that name. Psammetichus, during a considerable part of his reign, was engaged in wars with Assyria and Palestine. He is here called a ‘cruel lord;’ that is, an oppressive monarch, probably because he secured the kingdom by bringing in to his aid foreign mercenaries - robbers and pirates, and because his wars made his government oppressive and burdensome." (Barnes has a very good history of Egypt during this period in the introduction to this chapter.)
Isaiah begins by announcing that this is the burden that Egypt will have to bear. The first half of this chapter, therefore, once again bears bad news for the nation, but the second half finishes with exciting promises.
"Behold, Yahweh rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt." This is always bad news for sinners. The LORD is frequently pictured as coming in the clouds to bring judgment on the wicked and oppressive people of the earth. (See below, For Further Study.) In this instance, however, He comes into Egypt to accomplish a specific purpose, and the whole place would shake at His presence. The idols would tremble (figuratively) and the very heart of Egypt would literally be poured out. The things that the nation valued, worshipped, and prided themselves on would be destroyed. God was going to rip out the nation's heart.
This is a declaration of God's sovereignty of the affairs of men and nations. He would set or "entwine" the Egyptians against the Egyptians. There would be absolutely no unity within the country. Families would turn against their own members, brothers would fight their brothers, and neighbors would be against neighbors. Political foes within the country would stir up wars between cities and between the smaller kingdoms that would arise.
The nation's spirit would be poured out and there would be no one to give them wise advice. The people and their leaders would turn to the things that they had always mistakenly trusted... their idols, soothsayers, necromancers, and magicians. These had failed them many centuries before when Moses led Israel out of the country to be free from the Egyptian slavery. Yet, the Egyptian culture was still dependent on the worthless and empty promises of false gods and false prophets.
Finally, Yahweh would "give them over" to a tyrant. This was easily within His power to do, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings.
The nations of the modern world should observe what happened to Egypt. World leaders, including the leaders of our nation, should understand that God is in control of everything and that there can be no unity without Him. As we take even the mention of God completely out of public life, remove His commandments as the foundation of our legal system, and legalize everything that He hates, we will fight against ourselves, our brothers, our neighbors and eventually states against states. There is already a desire of many people to separate themselves from the US and to form another nation.
The Muslim terrorists are not our worst enemy. We are our own enemy. The Muslims are mere tools in the hands of God whom He will destroy for their evil deeds when He is finished with them.
Therefore, it is our job, as God's people, to call our nation to repentance and to declare the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must stand separated from the infighting and preach Christ, and Him alone, or lose our nation.
Before The Throne:
Pray for your nation. Ask God to raise up His people and to let their voices be heard, shouting, "Jesus Saves!" Ask God to bring unity to our nation under the ensign of Christ, to restore the national faith and to build us into a nation that will once again bring glory to His name. Pray for the enemy, the nation of Islam. Ask God to steal the hearts of their people and to win them to Christ. Pray about the role that God wants you to play in this. Each of us must accept his or her part in the spiritual warfare that is now escalating to a level that has never been seen before.
For Further Study:
(v.1) ** Egypt. Jer 25:19; 43:8-13; 44:29,30; 46:1-28; Eze 29:1-32:32; Joe 3:19; Zec 10:11; 14:18; ** rideth. De 33:26; Ps 18:10-12; 68:4,33,34; 104:34; Mt 26:64,65; Re 1:7; ** the idols. Isa 21:9; 46:1,2; Ex 12:12; 1Sa 5:2-4; Jer 43:12; 46:25; 50:2; 51:44; Eze 30:13; ** the heart. Ex 15:14-16; Jos 2:9,11,24; Jer 46:5,15,16;
(v.2) ** I will. Isa 13,14; 9:21; Jud 7:22; 9:23; 1Sa 14:16,20; 2Ch 20:22,23; Eze 38:21; Mt 12:25; Re 17:12-17;
(v.3) Isa 57:16; 1Sa 25:37; Ps 76:12; Jer 46:15; Eze 21:7; 22:14; ** and I. Isa 14:27; 2Sa 15:31; 17:14,23; 2Ch 25:16-20; Job 5:12,13; Pr 21:30; 1Co 3:19,20; ** destroy. Ps 107:27; ** marg: and they. Isa 8:19; 15:2; 44:25; 47:12; 1Ch 10:13; Da 2:2; 4:6,7; 5:7;
(V.4) ** give over. or, shut up. 1Sa 23:7; Ps 31:8; ** a cruel lord. Isa 20:4; Jer 46:26; Eze 29:19;
The Family and Worship
3 Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.
The beginning of holiness
is found in the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12), the first with a promise, and is partially repeated here. "To fear" your mother and father is to reverence them and to give them honor and respect.
The family was ordained by God as the foundation of society from the time of the creation. "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth..." (Genesis 1:28) There could be no social order, however, without governing authority, which was given to the parents.
Parents stand in the position of God to their children. Children learn first to respect and obey their earthly father and, through their relationship with him, grow to understand the heavenly Father and the relationship that He desires to have with them. They also learn to love and respect their mother who is the father's bride, so that they will someday hold the same love for God's bride, His church.
The parents are given the responsibility of raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
If children do not respect their parents, they will not be willing to learn the things that their parents have to teach them. This is the problem in our society today as parents are trying to be their children's friends instead of their mother and father. There is a loss of authority, a loss of respect, a loss of moral guidance and a lack of the ability to draw upon the wisdom of the parent's experiences.
"Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths:" The ordinance of the sabbath was also instituted at the time of creation. This commandment is important to our relationships with both God and family. The sabbath is a day of rest, something that a godly person desperately needs to relieve the pressures of living in a world of sin and temptation.
The sabbath gives the family an opportunity to worship together, to learn God's word and to renew their unity as a family that is devoted to the same cause, i.e. to glorify God. This time together reaffirms the father's position as the head of the family and as God's designated teacher.
It is also a time when the mother can share her knowledge with her daughters. "The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." (Titus 2:3-5)
The sabbath is for God and family, a wonderful time for children to learn respect for their parents and God. There is nothing more beneficial to the upbringing of children than for them to sit next to their parents in worship on the sabbath.
Before The Throne:
Pray for your family. Ask God to strengthen it in the bond of His love. Ask Him to help you have a Christ centered home. Pray for the morality of our nation in which the social fabric is falling apart, because the concept of family is rapidly dissolving.
For Further Study:
** fear: Exo 20:12: 21:15, 17; Deu 21:18-21; 27:16; Pro 1:8; 6:20-21; 23:22; 30:11, 17; Eze 22:7; Mal 1:6; Mat 15:4-6; Eph 6:1-3; Heb 12:9; ** keep: Lev 26:2; Exo 16:29; 20:8; 31:13-17; Isa 56:4-6; Isa 58:13; Eze 20:12; 22:8;
1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.
If we ask nearly any atheist
whether it is right to steal or to murder, he will answer, "No!" If we ask him why it is wrong to do these things, we might get any number of reasonable sounding answers... "It is against the moral conscience of man." Or, "It is against the moral standards of our society." These and others might be valid reasons for not killing or stealing, but they have never been sufficient reasons to keep men from doing them anyway.
However, when a child asks the same question, we answer, "Because I said so!" We think the child does not need to know the reason why it is wrong; he simply needs to know by whose authority it is considered to be wrong. Authority enforces obedience.
God's authority is the basis for the moral laws by which He commands us to live. He is a just God and will enforce His laws according to His own will. Therefore, He does not always tell us the reasons for His commandments. Only the fact that He has the power and authority to enforce them is necessary for us to know.
However, the fear of God's authority has never been sufficient to restrain men from sinning against Him. So, He gives Moses this commandment: "Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy." In order to keep God's laws, there must be a change in the person. He must be holy, separated from the world, and sanctified for God's purpose. This is a theme that is repeated throughout the Bible, but man just did not get it until after the ascension of Jesus Christ.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:20) The scribes were the most righteous of all people. The people of that day would have been aghast at this statement. Who could have possibly entered the kingdom of God, if the scribes and Pharisees were not going to make it in?
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
Holiness is godliness, and godliness is not possible for a man to achieve. "When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:25-26)
Although God has the power and the authority to enforce His laws,, i.e. punish the offenders, only by a change in their nature can men ever become obedient. We are to be holy as He is holy. Only through the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus Christ can any person have His sins forgiven, be cleansed from all unrighteousness, and be acceptable for service to God.
"Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3) Make sure that you are holy as God is holy. Be perfect, even as your Father is perfect. Be not conformed to this world but be transformed into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, and you will walk together with God.
Before The Throne:
Pray for a revival of your own soul. Ask God to transform you into the image of His Son. Confess your sins and beg His forgiveness. Pray to be holy by His righteousness, not in your own.
For Further Study:
** Ye shall: Lev 11:44-45; 20:7, 26; 21:8; Exo 19:6; Isa 6:3-4; Amo 3:3; Mat 5:48; 2Co 6:14-16; 7:1; 1Pe 1:15-16;
A Defiled Nation
24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: 25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. 26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: 27 (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) 28 That the land spew not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spewed out the nations that were before you. 29 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.
What are the consequences
of sexual promiscuity? They defile in every imaginable way, sexually, ceremonially and religiously, the persons who engage in them. They are an abomination to God and defile everything around them. Such promiscuous persons must be "cut off from among their people" (verse 29). This means that they should be excommunicated from the congregation, although some of these sins had much more severe penalties attached to them specifically.
We will read more about these specific penalties in Leviticus 20, but a good example is, "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." (Leviticus 20:13)
Promiscuous sin, when tolerated, contaminates the entire nation and even the land that it occupies. There is no excuse for it, because God has implanted in our consciences a natural repulsion for it. That is why He was able to hold the Canaanites and the Amorites responsible for their lewdness, even though they had never been given any written law concerning it. That is why He will hold our nation responsible for tolerating and even promoting the violation of these laws.
The casting out of the people from the promised land was a fulfillment of prophesy. When God sealed the Abrahamic covenant, He told Abraham that his descendants would serve the Egyptians for four hundred years, "But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." (Genesis 15:16)
Albert Barnes wrote, "This age or generation ran parallel with the life of Moses, and therefore consisted of one hundred and twenty years. Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. Four such generations amount to four hundred and eighty or four hundred and forty years. From the birth of Isaac to the return to the land of promise was an interval of four hundred and forty years. Isaac, Levi, Amram, and Eleazar may represent the four ages."
The Amorites were perhaps the most populous people in the region of Canaan and appear to have been totally destroyed when Israel entered the land, because they are never mentioned again.
We can see that God will allow sin to flourish until the nation's iniquity is full. Then, the very land that they are on will vomit them out. Such phrasing is designed to show how disgusting a promiscuous nation is to the LORD and how suddenly He will act to clean up the land.
The modern church seems to think that it is safe from such acts of God or that it is free from the penalties of sin; but churches who willfully tolerate, encourage or promote promiscuity to any degree are at best only lukewarm churches. They should be reminded of Jesus' message to the church at Laodicea, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:15-16)
How much time does our nation have left before God considers our sins to be full, and the land spews us out? How much more will He tolerate from the apostate church that is like Thyatira? "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works." (Revelation 2:20-23)
This chapter closes with another reminder of the authority that lies behind its words. "I am the LORD your God."
What about yourself? Have you been sold on the evil spirits of tolerance and compromise or will you begin to speak out? How much more of your precious time will you continue to waste?
Before The Throne:
Pray for your church. Ask God to help your church leaders to understand the importance of church discipline and the proper way of conducting it. Ask Him to help you find ways to speak out against the wave of promiscuity that is sweeping our nation. Ask Him to also help you to resist any temptations to sin against Him that might be placed in front of you.
For Further Study:
** Defile: Jer 44:4; Mat 15:18-20; Mar 7:10-23; 1Co 3:17; ** for: Lev 20:22-23; Deu 12:31; 18:12;
** the land: Num 35:33-34; Psa 106:38; Isa 24:5; Jer 2:7; 16:18; Eze 36:17-18; Rom 8:22; ** therefore: Psa 89:32; Isa 26:21; Jer 5:9, 29; 9:9; 14:10; 23:2; Hos 2:13; 8:13; 9:9; ** vomiteth: Lev 18:28; 20:22;
** keep: Deu 4:1-2, 40; 12:32; Psa 105:44-45; Luk 8:15; 11:28; Joh 14:15, 21-23; 15:14; ** nor any stranger: Lev 17:8, 10;
** Lev 18:24; Deu 20:18; 23:18, Deu 25:16; 27:15; 1Ki 14:24; 2Ki 16:3; 2Ki 21:2; 2Ch 36:14; Eze 16:50; 22:11; Hos 9:10;
Lev 20:22; Jer 9:19; Eze 36:13, 17; Rom 8:22; Rev 3:16;
Lev 17:10; 20:6; Exo 12:15;
** abominable: Lev 20:23; Deu 18:9-12;
Like the Sun's Warmth
4 For so the LORD said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest. 5 For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches. 6 They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them. 7 In that time shall the present be brought unto the LORD of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the LORD of hosts, the mount Zion.
In this passage, Isaiah justifies his prophecy by declaring that Yahweh spoke these words to him. In so doing, he gives us a wonderful insight into the way that God deals with wickedness. He shows us the dramatic contrast between the chaotic hustle and bustle of the Egyptian Empire and the tranquility of the mind of God.
Yahweh said, "I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place... (the wickedness of the people)." God knows what is going on in this world. There is nothing that escapes His attention and, yet, how many of us have thought something similar to the words of Asaph in Psalm 73?
"For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches." (Psalms 73:3-12)
Yes! God does know what is happening and He sits in His dwelling place peacefully watching and waiting for the right moment to intervene in the affairs of men. Like the heat of the sun warming the plants, "He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:45) Everything is under control and God is not rushed. Like a cloud of dew peacefully hovering over the fields of harvest, God is there, waiting for the perfect moment to act. He waits, because He is not willing that any man should perish. He waits and He watches to give them a chance to repent, but He will not wait forever.
When the time is right, when the bud of a plant matures and ripens into a grape ready for the harvest, God will cut the plant down. He will wait until evil matures to its greatest height, until the wicked ones think that they have conquered life itself. Then, He will strike.
"He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure." (Psalms 2:4-5)
The birds will feed on the carcasses of this people in the summer and, in the winter, the beasts of the field will feed upon them.
In that time the Egyptians would become a gift to the Lord and would be brought to Mount Zion. We do not know exactly how or when this prophecy was fulfilled. We know that the Assyrians under Sennacherib conquered them and, in due time, there was a strong Christian presence in Egypt. Many of its people could have been converted and become part of God's church, while many others may have actually come into Jerusalem to worship.
Christians should never envy the prosperity of the wicked nor ever think that God does not know what is going on. The wicked already have their reward, but our treasures are waiting for us in heaven. The wicked will be cut off at the height of their prosperity, but the righteous will go on to receive riches that are beyond comprehension and everlasting.
Meanwhile, we are also receiving the benefits of His sunshine and His rain, so let's be thankful. God looks on our problems and needs with the same kind of tranquility with which He sees the prosperity of the wicked. In due time, when the harvest is ripe, He will intervene and justice and righteousness will prevail.
Before The Throne:
Knowing that God takes no pleasure in seeing any man perish, confess your envy of others and pray for those who despitefully use you. Ask the Lord to bring them to repentance before it is too late. Give Him thanks for all of the wonderful blessings that He has given you. Pray that He will make you to be content with what you have. Praise Him for the promises of your future reward. Keep the watch, because Jesus will have every man's reward with Him when He returns.
For Further Study:
(v.4) ** I will. Isa 26:21; Ps 132:13,14; Ho 5:15; ** consider. Isa 12:6; 14:32; 31:9; 46:13; Joe 3:17; ** like a clear. 2Sa 23:4; Ps 72:6;
(v.5) Isa 17:11; So 2:13,15; Eze 17:6-10;
(v.6) Isa 14:19; 34:1-7; Jer 7:33; 15:3; Eze 32:4-6; 39:17-20; Re 19:17,18;
(v.7) ** shall the. Isa 16:1; 23:17,18; 45:14; 2Ch 32:23; Ps 68:29-31; 72:9-15; Zep 3:10; Mal 1:11; Mt 2:11; Ac 8:27,28; ** to the. Isa 60:6-9; Mic 4:13; Zec 14:16,17;