In the Last Days

This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

2 In the last days

the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.

3 Many peoples will come and say,

“”Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

5 Come, descendants of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Isaiah 2:1-5

Isaiah was speaking to the southern kingdom of Judah and its capital Jerusalem in this passage.

Most believe ‘last days’ is a reference to the days after Jesus returns. It could mean up to and including the millennial reign.

In any event, we get some insight into what will transpires: the temple, truth, worship, judgement, absence of war, peace, and righteousness.

That was the future for Judah if they followed the Lord and his ways.

Then Isaiah turns to the present with an admonition for Jews to walk in the light, to seek the light. What follows is a laundry list of sins, evils and judgments because of their ways.

We dream about the future but live in the present.

As believers we are confronted with sin and temptations as well as ways to please Him and ways to bless Him.

For now, though, we get to dream about the last days when there will finally be peace and righteousness.

As Isaiah said, “Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

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Thirsting and Hungering After God

24 Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes
and avenge myself on my enemies.
25 I will turn my hand against you;
I will thoroughly purge away your dross
and remove all your impurities.
26 I will restore your leaders as in days of old,
your rulers as at the beginning.
Afterward you will be called
the City of Righteousness,
the Faithful City.”

27 Zion will be delivered with justice,
her penitent ones with righteousness.
28 But rebels and sinners will both be broken,
and those who forsake the Lord will perish.

29 “You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks
in which you have delighted;
you will be disgraced because of the gardens
that you have chosen.
30 You will be like an oak with fading leaves,
like a garden without water.
31 The mighty man will become tinder
and his work a spark;
both will burn together,
with no one to quench the fire.” Isaiah 1:24-31

Isaiah now turns his attention to prophesying against Judah.

It’s as if the leaders within Judah considered themselves foes against the Lord. That’s never a good thing and will always be met with justice.

Isaiah also talks about shame and disgrace. When a people no longer are ashamed of their sin, it also means they are not repentant of that sin and may even flaunt it in public. That’s true with any sin in any culture. It’s a mockery of all things that are holy.

Essentially, Judah had become spiritually dry, as the last few verses suggest.

It’s one thing to be hungering and thirsting after God, but it’s something different to be in a barren wasteland, looking for water, looking for hope and a way out.

Be the one hungering and thirsting after God. He can certainly use that for His glory.

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Helping the Vulnerable

21 See how the faithful city
has become a prostitute!
She once was full of justice;
righteousness used to dwell in her—
but now murderers!
22 Your silver has become dross,
your choice wine is diluted with water.
23 Your rulers are rebels,
partners with thieves;
they all love bribes
and chase after gifts.
They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
the widow’s case does not come before them. Isaiah 1:21-23

The Lord saw Jerusalem as unjust and wicked. Its political and religious leaders were full of injustice and corruption.

Money, sex, and power all corrupt when allowed to continue unrestrained. That principle applied then and it’s continued through the centuries.

They needed a fresh dose of the Holy Spirit to show them the true meaning of being faithful.

Already in this chapter he’s spoken about the fatherless and widow so it’s obviously important to God. Those who can’t help themselves and are vulnerable have always had His ear.

Let’s not forget that as we continue through this year. As inflation and joblessness continue to grow, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet the needs of more vulnerable people.

They may show up at your door or in your church. There may be more people on the streets begging. Be prepared to help in the best ways that you know.

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A Stark Contrast

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 1:18-30

Isaiah was in the midst of condemning the nation of Israel and he pauses to give us a “but if you do this” statement. A few verses later, he returns to the compelling vision he has for the Israelites.

This very familiar passage gives us a word picture of what it will be like for sinners to repent, and the brief consequences for not repenting.

From the darkest of sins to the brightest of the righteous life awaits the repentant sinner.

The contrast couldn’t be starker, both in terms of dark and light, and life and death.

We don’t like to consider the ultimate doom for those we love who do not believe. That thought drives us to our knees more, this eternity without Christ.

We pray for those openings, for those opportunities to reach out to them yet again, for others to reach out.

After all, you’ve probably done all you can do face to face. They have to come to the end of themselves and that’s difficult to witness in real time, but in the end worth it greatly!

Keep pressing in; it’ll be worth it.

Continue ReadingA Stark Contrast

Weary of Meaningless Celebrations

New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening.

Your hands are full of blood!

16 Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.

Isaiah 1:14-17

For the Israelites, New Moon festivals were marked with the blowing of trumpets, offerings, and cessation of normal work. A new moon marked the beginning of the Jewish month.

In this text, though, the Lord is weary of all the festivities, mainly because they’re doing it for the wrong reasons. There was no justice or mercy. They were merely going through the motions of worship.

These verses still speak life today because of the lack of mercy towards the oppressed, widow, and fatherless. Those are the categories of people that you we help who probably will not be able to pay you back if you help them. Even today those three groups of people exist, though in different forms.

Consider ministries like these you can support. We know that God blesses those who do support these forgotten people. Nursing homes, orphanages, rehabs, and those enslaved in human and sex trafficking would be great places to pitch in for ministry. Not easy places to pitch in due to the work but well worth it.

Continue ReadingWeary of Meaningless Celebrations