Reading through the Bible together

Saturday, March 29, 2014

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Throughout the Bible we find a number of the Lord’s  “woes” to us.  The majority of these “woes” are found in the book of Isaiah. These “woes” rebuke everything from personal sins, to the wicked, to the righteous who have become proud and are calling evil good. Isaiah even says “woe” to himself, as he recognizes that he is a man of unclean lips. (I recommend studying out all the “woes” further, as it will help us make sure we do not fall under one of them.)

In the previous few chapters (starting in Isaiah 28 and concluding in chapter 31), Isaiah prophesied “woes” against Israel and Judah for their rebelliousness and pride. Now we find Isaiah speaking a serious “woe” against King Sennacherib and the Assyrian army that have come to spoil Jerusalem. While the chapter seems to start on a negative note, it’s actually a chapter of hope and mercy for Jerusalem. Although Israel had so often walked in their own counsel, and sought help from others rather than God, when they do cry out for mercy, this prophecy reminds them (and us today) that God still hears and answers prayer. In fact, we are told that the kingdom that came to spoil Jerusalem will instead be plundered (vs. 4).  (We will review this story in more detail in Isaiah chapters 36 and 37.)

There’s a gold mine in this chapter, but first let us focus on verse 14 and what comes after. Seeing how the Lord rescues Israel from Assyria, the sinners and hypocrites in Israel (including false professors of religion) cry out in anguish, “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” In Psalm 24:3 we find a similar cry, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in his holy place?”

The answer comes in the following verses in both passages. “He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” (Ps. 24:4). “He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil” (Isa. 33:15).

But how can we, sinful human beings, have a pure heart? How can we, the unrighteous by default since birth, walk righteously? We cannot; not that is, without Christ. “Without Christ we cannot subdue a single sin nor resist the slightest temptation. It is connection with a power that is almighty which will make us overcomers. Then let everyone who comes to Jesus walk humbly, and feel daily that he needs a power out of and above himself, to soften his stony heart; that he needs to be melted over, that the dross of self may be consumed. The same power that turned the water to wine at the marriage feast of Cana is able to eradicate all evil from our nature, and to make us partakers of the divine nature. The very same power that made the leper clean can make the heart pure, fit for the society of God, of angels, and of the redeemed host. Holy obedience will be found only in the righteousness which Christ imparts to the believing soul. ‘As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.’ And every soul that abides in Christ and has Christ abiding in him, is as dear to God as is his own beloved Son. Accepted in the Beloved, he is an object of the Father’s tender care, and he will bear much fruit as the result of his union with the True Vine.” Signs of the Times, August 10, 1891, par. 2.

Praise be to our almighty LORD. What a glorious God we serve! Let’s repent and turn to Him today that He will forgive our iniquities and subdue all our enemies. Yes indeed. As we recognize who we are in comparison with who God is, our utter inability to meet the divine requirements will become more and more obvious. Yet, Isaiah 33:22 sums it all up beautifully, “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.” 

Melodious Echo Mason
ARME Bible Camp Ministries