ISAIAH 31:1 – 33:24 and HEBREWS 6:1–20
Isaiah is speaking to a similar theme concerning those who turn to Egypt for help. This will be an area of testing for all believers in the days to come. When pressures come and we are in a positon of having to make a choice will it be the resources of the world we turn to or will it be God? In the days of King David, they boasted of not trusting in chariots and horses or the ways of the world. Their boast and trust was in the name of the Lord (Psa 20:7). A daily walk of intimacy with the Lord will prove essential in the days to come. Do we make time for Him now when things are not as pressing or challenging? The Lord personifies wisdom and He so desires for His own to seek counsel from Him. He goes on to declare that He will punish those who do not seek after Him and insist on looking to (Egypt) the world for help.
The Lord reminds Israel that the Egyptians are but men and not God yet they continue to go after them. We read about these accounts and wonder why Israel always suffered under this malady yet we oftentimes do the very same thing. Is God the God of all flesh or isn’t he? Is God the one who can do all things or isn’t He (Jer 32:27)? We sing about Him, testify to others about Him but in the end do we really trust Him? If our trust and reliance is not upon God, then the things we do put trust in will one day be removed. Somehow, someway we must let this message of Isaiah sink deep down into our spirit because the cycle is about to repeat itself.
As seen before the Lord is the preserver and defender of His people. Yes, they come to know great judgement due to their sin and transgression but God holds forth the promise of Restoration. This will be seen when the Assyrians begin their siege of Jerusalem and it will be seen in the last days when Israel turns again to the Lord. What a glorious day of rejoicing that will be.
In verses 6-7 we see Israel casting away their idols of silver and gold. This did take place at the time of the Restoration era under Joshua and Zerubbabel but again is only a small token of a greater fulfilment in the last days. In verses 8-9 reference is made concerning the great defeat of the Assyrians by an angel with the sword of the Lord in hand. This defeat was not by man but by God Himself on behalf of Israel. It is so important to examine closely this sequence of events because as mentioned the cycle is coming full circle. There is much that can be drawn from this period that will help in our ability to discern the times. May the Holy Spirit instruct and help to bring it all into modern day perspective.
This chapter is a bit out of sequence from the related judgements covered in chapters 28-31 as well as chapter 33. Here we see Christ depicted in His millennial reign. The prophetic insight into the millennium gets right to the point. The reign of the King will be one of Righteousness. We also see that those who are aligned with Him will be ruling in judgement. This group with the Lord are not ordinary believers but those who chose to allow God to do a work of righteousness within them. If we are going to have a ministry of judging alongside the Lord, we will first have to allow God to exercise righteous judgement within us. This is a work that many refuse to be a part of. A Gospel of inconvenience keeps them away from the probing surgical knife of the Lord that deals with heart related issues. In verses 2-4 there are a people who are strong and able to give strength and perspective to others (vs 2). In addition, it will be a people who are clear in their vision and speech. Even today there are certain members in the church who have an authority and anointing upon them that others seem to lack.
The millennium will be free from Satan’s influence (until the very end of the 1000 years) yet there will be sin and perversion amongst those who are born during this period. Those born during the period of the 1000 years will have to battle against original sin and seek redemption through Christ like all others. Still, you will not see vile men being placed into positions of influence like it is today. Just look at some of the leaders who hold high position today. They are not only evil but they are honoured and celebrated. This will not be the case during the millennium (vs 5).
True liberality will always be rewarded as seen in verse 8. We also see this promise reiterated in Proverbs 22:9. Our motive of heart should always be disposed in seeking to meet the need in the lives of others. The more one gives the more one opens themselves up to receive (Luke 6:38). The prophet presents an indictment against the foolish women of Isaiah’s day making clear that they have no idea what is coming. They were not tending to the vineyards or being diligent in the responsibility and roles expected of them. How does this compare with today? All one needs to do is to look around and see how the godly attributes that characterize women have been redefined. Of course, men bear a large part of the responsibility for this problem in failing in their own roles. Where are the virtuous women as highlighted in Proverbs 31; The ones who prepare and plan ahead of time for the benefit of their families, the ones who are proactive with the interests of their husbands and children in mind as well as the church? These are the women who can be likened to the 5 wise virgins who paid a price ahead of time in the lead-up to the call of the bridegroom. These are the women who know how to walk circumspectly in the Fear of the Lord.
The fruits of a righteous reign are depicted in verses 15-18. When the truth of God is released it puts into motion the attributes of God. What are the fruits of the kingdom? They are righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). We can observe these qualities in the above verses. It is a beautiful picture of the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. Can you imagine a period of time when men will live peaceably with each other? The key is seeking the Lord now that we might be a part of that company of believers. Remember, Paul, after all he had accomplished was still praying that he would be worthy to be a partaker of the fruits of the 1st resurrection.
The prophetic Word now returns to a declaration of judgement after the beautiful picture of the Millennial reign of Christ. The focus of judgement is upon Assyria; the instrument God used to judge Judah’s northern neighbours (The 10 tribes) and who will soon seek to destroy Judah. It is God that raised them up in great power to serve as a scourge to Israel and several other nations. The spokesperson of Sennacherib even recognized that God’s hand was upon them.
2Ki 18:25 Am I now come up without the LORD against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.
Once their time is finished in executing the judgements of God they will be destroyed in like manner. We must never forget that it is God that raises up a nation and brings down another. In our own lives we may come to know seasons when we are on the mountain top where everything is going well. This can be dangerous because there may come that sense of invincibility. It is so important to learn and live by the prophetic words of Micah.
Mic 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
The Words are clearly directed against Assyria in verse 1 seeing that they were a nation that afflicted others when there was no reason to do so. When they were sought after for help they instead poured contempt and ridicule upon the needy. In verses 3-4 the devastation was going to be extensive; their spoil would be gathered and spread over a large area. Once again we see a picture of what it will be like at the time of the 2nd coming when the Lord comes with His saints at Armageddon. The spoil will provide a feast for the ravenous birds and animals for months to come.
In verse 5 we see the power that resides in Mt. Zion. It is filled with righteousness and judgement and it is from the position of Zion where this magnitude of woes takes place. The privilege and opportunity to enter into Zion and the truths it represents is afforded to all. The primary qualifications are found in both Psa 15 and 24.
One of the more familiar verses in this chapter is found in verse 6. The prophet declares that wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of the times. One of the best precedents for this verse is seen in the life of Daniel. The king had a troubling dream that resulted in his demanding both its interpretation as well as the dream itself. The response of all the King’s magicians was that there was no man that could do such a thing (Dan 2:10). There was a man and it’s a good thing there was because they were all going to be dead men. Daniel had the knowledge of what the dream was and the wisdom to know how to manage it. This level of wisdom and knowledge was given to Daniel due to purposing in his heart to seek the Lord and not allowing his heart to be defiled. He, along with his three friends made the decision to pray and fast for 10 days in seeking the Lord. This is the magnitude of commitment required in order to grow in the Spirit of knowledge and wisdom. In verses 7-9 there is an attempt made to appease the Assyrian King (Sennacherib) with money to keep him from wasting the land and going to battle. He broke the agreement and continued on with his purges in now setting his sights upon Judah. The Lord speaks and makes known that their time of judgement is at hand. At the moment the Assyrians are very much in the ascendancy but not for much longer. David has this realization concerning the overwhelming prowess of the enemy.
Psa 37:35 I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
Psa 37:36 Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
Psa 37:37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
In verses 13-14 we have reference to the people of God who are not walking uprightly. The fear of God comes upon those in Zion when God is moving in holiness and revival fire. This is a reminder of the verse in Malachi that speaks as to who may abide in the day of the Lord. (Mal 3:2) He is like a refiner’s fire who sits as a refiner of silver. The purpose for the fire and cleansing is that an offering of righteousness may be presented to the Lord. The Bible constantly pleads for us to seek Him while He may be found; pay the price now for the anointing so that we are ready for the cry of the bridegroom. Let judgement first begin in the house of the Lord and in our own lives so that we may be able to stand and abide in the day of His appearing. Let us never forget that our God is Holy and Righteous in all His ways. We all long to see God but are we really ready to stand before His presence? A few of the qualifications that enable for us to rule from the position of Zion are reflected in verse 15.
There are added blessings in being established in Zion such as protection and having the ability to see His beauty (vs 16-17). The blessings of a pure heart are that we see God in his fullness. There is a covering of safety that becomes the portion of those who dwell in Zion. The glory of the Lord becomes the shield and defence. The time to pursue Zion and all it entails is now. This chapter speaks of Assyria as to their prowess and future destruction. It also speaks of the Lord’s deliverance and protection for their day and the day to come (vs 18-21).
Interestingly, verse 22 is a three tiered branch of governance that covers aspects of the Lord. These three tiers were the basis for the American Constitution when the nation was birthed. Christ as the lawgiver(Legislative ) Judge (Judicial) and King (Executive) who will save and deliver His people. This chapter concludes with the enemy’s power being stripped and destroyed with the promise of the weak and feeble being able to take the prey. When a person is lame his strength is reduced to nothing yet it is God who will restore and revive His people in the end.
Paul has been addressing the need for the Christians to mature in their development as opposed to remaining as babes in Christ. He now is going to establish the foundations of the Christian faith and encourage his listeners to build upon them. It can be likened to a building with a strong established foundation that is never built upon. We are not to shun these elementary teachings but to move on by building upon their structure. These foundational doctrines are as follows: repentance from dead works, Faith towards God, Water Baptism, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Laying on of hands, Resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
Our Christian journey is very much like our journey in the natural. We are born as babies being dependent upon the parents in the early years. The diet taken in is light and one that is easy to assimilate so that we can grow to take on stronger meat. As we grow older we take on greater personal responsibility in looking after ourselves. We learn to step away from the comforts of home so as to experience and meet the challenges in life. The same pattern should apply to us as believers. Paul, in an earlier chapter identified the brethren as yet being spiritual babes in Christ. This speaks of believers today who choose to be spoon fed in what they take in spiritually. The foundational doctrines or teachings listed above are meant to contribute to one’s spiritual growth. If we come to know true repentance, we are in effect turning 180 degrees in the opposite direction from the way we have been living. The fruits of true repentance are visible by the way we live. In other words, we walk the talk.
In appropriating Faith towards God we are demonstrating a love and obedience to the Word of God. Faith is the fruit of knowing and confessing the Word of God (Rom 10:17). The Waters of Baptism is not something that saves us but it is an act of obedience that enables us to go the next level in our relationship with God. It is an identifying with the resurrection power of God and renunciation of the ways of the world. The Baptism of the Holy Ghost allows for the third person of the godhead to fully indwell a believer and bring him or her into places and positions of overcoming they could not do on their own (John 21:18). All of these foundational doctrines are vital components of a believer’s arsenal but they are meant to propel into greater Christian maturity and stature. Paul in his letter to the Hebrews is showing a greater way, a greater covenant, a greater high priest and calling for the church. It is a message that needs to be heeded today. What is it that Christ is truly looking for? He is looking for a mature son and daughter or put another way He is looking for a bride; one that is like Him and loves Him for who He is.
In verse 3 Paul is going back to verse 1 where he speaks about going on towards perfection. This is only achieved by seeking and doing the will of God in accordance to His sovereignty. There is our part and God’s part. It is the grace of God that enables us to go on and have the ability to absorb fresh truths. If we are unwilling to commit ourselves to that which God has placed before us, then God will limit our ability in going on. There must be a daily surrendering to His will so that grace can be made available to help bring us forward. Paul now makes the point that we are responsible for the truth and enlightenment that has been given. If we have come to know truth and then go about disregarding it there will then be consequences. We are judged according to light; after all Jesus is the Light of the World. We cannot play games with God, we are accountable. This is the reason why God sometimes shields people from the truth; he knows some will abuse it resulting in severe repercussions. God is always looking for fruit from that which He has sown. The condition of our heart will determine the measure of fruit, if any. If there is not fruit the time will come when the planting will be cursed and burned. Paul expects far better of the saints than this (vs 9). This should be our desire as well both personally and for those whom we have shepherding care over.
Paul informs that God is one who rewards those who faithfully serve Him (vs 10). He knows that many have undergone severe trials and hardships. The Lord takes note of each individual life and He is more than a rewarder of those who maintain an allegiance towards Him. Paul warns in verse 11 to never give up and to keep pressing onwards to the end. We have an eternity to look forward to and this life is but a mere blip on the radar screen of life. This is not to minimize the trials and suffering that many endure but when weighed in the balance of eternity it is but a light affliction. This was a truth that Paul fully understood and it’s a perspective we need to apprehend as well. The life of Demas is reminder to us in how one can run well for so long only to turn away at the end. What a horrible regret that someone like Demas must now endure for an eternity. May God help to ever keep this sobering truth before us so that we finish strong and well.
There is no room for slothfulness in the kingdom of God. The fruit of diligence and hard work is one of the hallmarks of true believers. We are called to emulate the life of those who through faith and patience inherited the promises. We can look to many Biblical and personal examples of saints we have known through life. We live in an instant gratification based society. Sadly, this quick fix mentality has slowly crept into the church. It is reflected in many of the doctrines and teachings that are taught today. The church is separating and the basis of separation generally comes down to what is in the heart of man. Abraham patiently endured in seeing the promises come to pass in his life. Some of those promises have yet to be realized but they will be fulfilled. Let Abraham ever serve as our example of one to emulate and take after.
Abraham was a man of vision. We will later see that he sought for a city that was not made with hands but a city whose founder and maker was God (Heb 11:8). He had a vision that distinguished him from Lot (Gen 13:10). What took place between Abram and Lot when that separation took place is occurring in similar fashion today. The question we can ask is simply this. Are we like Lot or like Abram when it comes to vision? The Apostle Paul is speaking from the position of Abraham to a group who can be likened to Lot. He is revealing to them the bridge that can take them from Lot to Abraham in vision. What is that vision? It is to have the privilege and opportunity to be led into the Holy of Holies beyond the veil (vs 19). It is Jesus who is the forerunner who has made a way. How was that way made? He was able to do so as a high priest after the order of Melchizedec. It is this Melchizedec that Paul will elaborate upon in chapter 7. Can you see the genius of Paul and how he is able to build his teaching thrust one step at a time?