"For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood,
contending only with physical opponents, but against
the despotisms, against the powers, against the master
spirits who are the world rulers (the driving force behind)
this present darkness...
"Pray at all times, on every occasion, in every season
in the Spirit, with all manner of prayer and entreaty.
To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose
and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints,
God's consecrated people.
Ephesians 6:12, 18
The Prophet Isaiah
This Sunday's meditation comes from the first
chapter of the Book of Isaiah.
The national and international developments during
the prophet's lifetime provide the essential background
for understanding his message to the nation and people of Israel.
The prophet's warning to his nation, which had succumbed to an unprecedented
level of depravity and lawlessness, remains a strong and relevant message for
the world today, and greatly expresses the need for the true believers in Messiah
to stand in intercessory prayer on behalf of their own individual nations and people
in these dark and troubling times, where acts of profound and appalling
human and spiritual wickedness are on the increase with every passing day.
THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
The vision, seen by spiritual perception of Isaiah, son
of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah, the kingdom, and
Jerusalem, its capital, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham,
Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Hear, O heavens and give ear, O earth!
For the Lord has spoken: I have nourished and brought up
sons and they have made them great and exalted, but they
have rebelled against Me and broken away from Me.
The ox instinctively knows his owner, and the donkey
his master's crib, but Israel does not know or recognize Me
as Lord. My people do not consider or understand.
Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers, sons who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised and
shown contempt and provoked the Holy One of Israel
to anger, they have become utterly estranged.
Why should you be stricken and punished any more
since it brings no correction? You will revolt more and more.
The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head there is no
soundness or health in the nation's body, but wounds and
bruises and fresh and bleeding stripes; they have not been
pressed out and closed up or bound up or softened with oil.
No one has troubled to seek a remedy.
Because of your detestable disobedience your country lies
desolate, your cities are burned with fire; your land-strangers
devour it in your very presence-and it is desolate, as
overthrown by aliens.
And the Daughter of Zion, Jerusalem, is left like a
deserted booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a garden of
cucumbers, like a besieged city, spared, but in
the midst of desolation.
Except the Lord of hosts had left us a very small remnant
of survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and we should
have been like Gomorrah.
Hear, O Jerusalem, the word of the Lord, you rulers and judges
of another Sodom! Give ear to the law and the teaching of
our God, you people of another Gomorrah!
To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me,
unless they are offerings of the heart? says the Lord.
I have had enough of the burnt offerings of rams and the
fat of the fed beasts without obedience; and I do not
delight in the blood of bulls or of lambs,
or of he-goats without righteousness.
When you come to appear before Me,
who requires of you that your unholy feet
trample My courts?
Bring no more offerings of vanity; your hollow
offering of incense is abomination to Me; the New Moon
and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot endure-
it is iniquity and profanation, even the solemn meeting.
Your New Moon festivals and your hypocritical appointed
feasts My soul hates. They are an oppressive burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing them.
And when you spread forth your hands in prayer,
imploring help, I will hide My eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers, I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood!
Wash yourselves, and make yourselves clean;
put away the evil of your own doings from before My eyes!
Cease to do evil.
Learn to do right! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, and
correct the oppressor. Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Come now and let us reason together, says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;
But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.
How the faithful city has become an idolatrous harlot,
she who was full of justice! Uprightness and right standing
with God once lodged in her-but now murderers.
Your silver has become dross, your wine is mixed with water.
Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves; everyone
loves bribes and runs after compensation and rewards.
They judge not for the fatherless nor defend them,
neither does the cause of the widow come to them,
for they delay or turn a deaf ear.
Therefore says the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the Mighty
One of Israel, Ah, I will appease Myself on My adversaries
and avenge Myself on My enemies.
And I will bring My hand again upon you and thoroughly
purge away your dross as with lye and take away all your tin or alloy.
And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as
at the beginning; afterward you shall be called the City of Righteousness,
the Faithful City.
Zion shall be redeemed with justice and her returned converts
with righteousness and in right standing with God.
But the crushing and destruction of rebels and sinners
shall be together, and they who forsake the Lord shall be consumed.
For you will be ashamed of the folly and degradation of the oak
or terebinth trees in which you found idolatrous pleasure, and you
will blush with shame for the idolatrous worship which you
practice in the passion-inflaming gardens which you have chosen.
For you will be like an oak or terebinth whose leaf withers,
and like a garden that has no water.
And the strong shall become like tow and become tinder, and
his work like a spark, and they shall both burn together,
with none to quench them.