ISAIAH 54
    The last several weeks i've spent a lot of time talking about the responsibilities of the kingdom of God. But there is another side of the story also, the benefits! There are a lot of people who teach on this subject so forgive me if i don't as often but there seems to be no lack in the body of Christ of words on this subject. However, this week we are going to take a look at some of my favorite words in the Bible, outside of the ones in red that is. : )
  Some people have called the book of Isaiah the most beautiful book in the Bible. That may be debatable but it is a remarkable book and contains some of the hottest rebukes as well as some of the most comforting words ever written. As for me, there are some passages in this book that the Lord used to get me through some really rough times and in the middle used them to reveal to me His faithfulness. This chapter is one of those passages. It begins in utter barrenness and quickly expresses that this condition is not permanent and not because the individual has been abandoned.
  Here are the first 3 verses of the chapter.  Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.  
  In the culture of that time there was little that was worse for a woman than to be barren. Yet here we see the Lord saying sing, cry aloud. He said that it is better to be barren than desolate. In fact He said to get a bigger tent and let THEM pay for it. Think back to Abraham, when he left his father and went to see the land God had promised him. His wife was barren yet God had promised him children like the stars. There must have been many days when he wondered when the promise would come true, yet he continued to believe and God proved His faithfulness. And as the 3rd verse says his seed did inherit the gentiles.
  There was a time in my life that i thought the promises of God would never happen. In this instant world we live in the ways of God are getting harder and harder to fathom but God doesn't care about days, weeks, or even years. God knows that there are more important and longer lasting things than our schedules. He works in us as fast as we let Him, His pleasure. Rare if ever is the person that trusts in Jesus, who doesn't need a little tune up of character. I needed an overhaul and the process left me feeling like the first verse, barren.
  Lets look at the book of Hebrews for a moment.   Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 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. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.  Hebrews 12:4-11
  The very fact that you have been chastened is a strong indication that the Lord loves you. I suspect that the severity of the chastening depends on the stubbornness of the individual and i am stubborn. This can be a good trait IF properly governed. Perhaps one reason the Father choose the stubborn Hebrews (Shalom, i love ya) is because it takes a stubborn people to overcome all the junk the devil throws at a believer. So stubbornness is not a bad thing if it is controlled properly and not directed against God.
   Isaiah 54: 4  Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.  
  Some other verses that come to mind here are; the end of Isaiah 49 (another wonderful chapter) verse 23   for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. Joel 2:27  And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. You may know the next verse which is quoted quite a bit 28.  And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:  Notice the word afterward in the above verse, the promise comes AFTER the people KNOW that the Lord is in the midst of them, that He is God and none else.
  Above a widow is referred to but now in verses 5-8 the Lord reveals that He will be the husband and redeemer to the broken hearted. For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.   For a small moment, in a little wrath, we are fortunate that when we provoke the wrath of God it is tempered with the blood of Jesus and that because of our faith in that blood and God's fidelity His every intention toward us is to build us up, even if He must take us to the wood shed to do it. In Revelations the vials of wrath are described as being without mixture to those who reject salvation. Thank God for the everlasting kindness to those who accept it.
   In verses 9 and 10  For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. The Lord promises, in some of the strongest terms, the eternal rewards of those He has chosen. Notice that he refers to the flood of Noah and His promise to never destroy the inhabitants of the earth with a flood again, then declares that the mountains WILL depart and the hills WILL be removed but neither His covenant of peace nor His kindness would be removed from His beloved.
 The times in which this was written were troubled times for those who loved God. Much as in our day, God's people could see their fellow countrymen descending to depths they could hardly believe. The first two thirds of this book are full of scathing rebukes at the apostasy the people were involved in and it would get worse after Isaiah's time. Isaiah would live to see the northern kingdom destroyed by the Assyerians, and he would even see them surround Jerusalem, and see God deliver His chosen city.
  The barren of his day and ours are often those who will not follow the crowd and sometimes they pay a heavy price for this. Isaiah put it this way, verse 14, by the way, was quoted in Congress during the fiasco of 98.   And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. Isaiah 59: 14 and 15. In that context it is comforting to know that even if the worst happened, and to them it would, the Lord had not forgotten those who loved Him. He was saying through Isaiah that it was going to get rough but that He was in control. I am saying today that it may look bleak right now, but we must remain faithful and leave the results in the hands of God. However bad it gets here this is only a temporary condition and we have a wedding to look forward to ; ) !
  Now look at the next two verses and go read Revelations 21:9 through the rest of the book sometime. O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. Isaiah 54: 11,12. And then verse 13  And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.  
  NOW WAIT JUST A MINUTE, i thought this gal was barren, where did these kids come from? You know, you hang around the Lord long enough and you will become fruitful, hey he even makes old walking sticks to bud, just ask Aaron!!
  The final four verses contain some good teaching and outstanding benefits. Almost all of you will have heard the first part of the last one and when we get there i'll share some insight the Lord taught me about it but the three leading up to it contain some seldom heard information and lets not skip it. Isaiah 54: 14 In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.  
 
Remember the story of Job, how God bragged on him in front of the devil and his life was turned upside down? There is an interesting verse just after all the calamity happened. Job 3:25  For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I believe that Job's fear contributed to God's willingness to let satan test him. For another example of a man of God who feared turn to 1st Kings 18 and 19 which i won't include here but is the story of Elijah and how he faced down all the false prophet by himself, then ran away when Jezebel threatened to kill him. He met the creator at the mountain of God and would return and never run again.
  It is said that the worse thing you can do to a wild animal is show fear and the demons are the wildest of animals. If you think about it, when you fear, it is the same as, a byproduct of in fact, doubt. Once you reach the place God is trying to get us all to, you will be certain beyond doubt that Jesus was no liar when He said, " I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." John 11:25,26  Also if He can take the dust that used to be a living body and resurrect it sometime in the future, how much easier is it to heal someone that is still alive? Actually it is no harder or easier, a miracle is a miracle, anyone that can speak the universe into being can do anything.
  One more verse on fear and we'll move on. Revelations 21: 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.  Look at the company that the fearful has, also notice that liars, ALL liars are included. These two we hardly pay attention to now days, as if it didn't matter, it does to God however and His promise is "thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee." If you will endure the chastening and come to know Him not just about Him.
  Isaiah 54: 15  Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.  Look at those first words, here is what they don't say. You will never face opposition, you will never have those who persecute you, it will be smooth sailing all the way, no troubles. No they say just the opposite. He says they will SURELY gather, but it's not my idea, and those who do gather against you will fall for your sake. The last thing the devil wants is to have people running around exposing him and his lies. People who know that the NORMAL thing is to talk with God.
  Here is something He gave me a couple of years ago, that i wrote down, it makes sense to me.{ The world says whoever talks to God is Ok but whoever hears God talk back is crazy. I say whoever continues to talk to God without ever hearing back is crazy or has the wrong God.} The kingdom of darkness will pull out all the stops to prevent you from becoming a mature servant of God and you can allow them to prevent you from that or you can believe God and see the need, and lay aside the things of this world that the devils use to distract you and know the joy and the suffering of being a servant. Though i'm not where i want to be yet, i don't think i could know Jesus as well as i do if i hadn't experienced the oppression of the enemy or the rejection of loved ones.
  Verse 16   Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.  Here God says that the tools of destruction that would come were of his making. Just as the in flood and the destruction of Sodom there are times that God in His wisdom sees that it is the only way to preserve His people. When it gets like verses 14 and 15 of Isaiah 59, which we saw above, where those who repent do so at their own peril, the judgment of that land is not too far away, at least not by God's reckoning. Perhaps in our time, like in Isaiah's judgment can be delayed. It was twice then, once because of good king Hezekiah, and once in Josiah's days. By Josiah's time though the mold was set and it was just a matter of time because of the innocent blood that was shed in his father Manasseh's time. They killed their babies in those days to.
  Verse 17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.  
  See i told you that it would be familiar. Here are a few thoughts about weapons. We think of guns and knives, bombs and rockets when we think of weapons but we are not in that kind of a war. Paul said that we wrestle not against flesh and blood. That the weapons of our warfare are not carnal and though satan and his demons certainly use people with the implements of war mentioned above, his weapons are much different.
  The devil uses things like deception, slander, hatred, greed, lust, and thirst for power, both against you (his preferred method) and in those around you to maneuver them against you (his last resort). In my life i have experienced both, enjoyed neither at least not in the long run, and survived it all because of the mercy and faithfulness of God.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.
 Just a few of the benefits of knowing God and serving Him, my prayer is that each of you will get to know Him more intimately as the days go by. Until next week, the Faithful Master bless and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you and give you ( and your children!) peace.
7/18/01
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