God's Message to the SBC People from the 19 Writing Prophets, The 19 Writing Prophets

Message of the 19 Writing Prophets to God’s People of the SBC.

Subtitle:  A Message from over 2000 thousand years ago and from God that speaks directly to my southern baptist friends.

We that have been active as southern baptist people for over 60 years do not need at this time, DTS graduates like John MacArthur and his disciples to explain to us what is happening today in the SBC, and in philosophical terms like Socinianism or theological liberalism.  The SB cup is already running over with theology, philosophy, and liberalism; what is demanded is more Bible and less philosophy and theology, especially from Scofield’s philosophers/theologians that have claimed a false literalism while they have torn apart the SBC.  The following message is Chapter 6 of the LCC commentary, volume 5 of The 19 Writing Prophets of the OT, desktop published 7 years ago in 2011 and free distributed on the Bible websites of SunGrist.

CHAPTER 6     Psalm 78: What Happened to God’s People?

While THE Message is consistent throughout the Prophets that “God’s people are not acting like God’s people”, and God will send disaster, the aspects of parts of that message have the many faces of vain worship, injustice and mistreatment of the people in the land, spiritual adultery, violation of the covenant with God of Mount Sinai, rebellion, and idolatry and covetousness. That the people called by God’s name would do these things is always difficult to face up to, then and now. And it is not that you have to take a part of the Message from one Prophet, say David, and then another part from Daniel, and so on through the Prophets until you have pieced the whole message together. Most of these faces of “God’s people are not acting like God’s people” are repeated in all the Prophets: that is the significance of THE MESSAGE. What is different is the eloquent means of expression chosen by each Prophet, something which today we call “style”. Also there is a shade of difference in the social and political circumstances of God’s people at the time of the delivery of the message from the Prophet. Even the worship of God’s people was bad and “vain”; and I hope we see an obvious comparison between then and today as we see God’s people putting on a show of mouth movement in active worship and lip movement in exciting praise and song, realizing that there is a superficiality to such displays as can also be called a vain worship while “the heart is far from God”.

6-1:  Vain Worship with Mouth and Lip Service.

The vain worship was with much mouth and lip service while the heart was far away from God. Isaiah said it was true in the Israel of the divided kingdom of approximately 760 A.D.; Jesus said it was still true of the religion of Judaism of His time; Paul tried to deal with in I and II Corinthians such excited worship of God in public where everyone had a word, a song, and a praise so that there was much disorder as each worshipper went their own way glorifying themselves {and it seems that this has always been a characteristics of the Pentecostal types–get holy and active and religious for 30 minutes on Sunday and then you will not have to worry about it during the rest of the week.}

  1. Vain Worship in Isaiah.

“Who said God’s people during the time of the Prophet Isaiah were practicing vanity in their worship services”, meaning they might as well not be doing it since vanity means that it counted for nothing in the sight of God? Well it is God Himself who expresses this, and Isaiah only records it.

“Therefore the Lord said: ‘Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men…’” {we must include this as an aspect of the Message which has been consistent throughout history, from the Prophets, from Jesus, and Paul dealt with such extra-biblical revelations with unequal respect for those revelations in the letter to Corinth–it is also related to an inadequate respect for the Word of God that came from the Apostles and Prophets whereby churches and some charismatic leaders develop the attitude that the Word of God “came to them only, or came out of them only”}. (Isaiah 29:13)

Dr. Charles Meister, late and president emeritus of ENMU, is respected both for his commitment to Christ and for his scholarship in American Studies; however when Dr. Meister would see in the greatness of America the many churches of America, I am afraid that he had conveniently overlooked the consistent message of the Prophets, of Jesus, and of Paul of how much–perhaps most of this time of the Falling Away–of that worship is useless, vain, and is paid no attention to by God at all. It fascinates me how some dedicated Christians today expect to receive benefits from the prayers of a local church that has long ago taken its heart away from God, selling out to unsound doctrine and even the intolerance toward sound doctrine. Except for a moment of fame in the public record for prayer, where did that prayer go? If the heart is far from God, how far do you think the prayers or going to be? Or is it that you think if enough people in a local church express enough heartless prayers to God, the combined effect will be good? Foolishness! It is about time we face up to the period of history that we are in: it is no longer the SBC of 20 years ago; America has drastically changed under the influence of sin and the waxing cold of the faith of many church members; and you just can longer expect the benefits of spiritual blessings that were once experienced in the churches. Israel had the same problem: there was the Temple God had blessed and for which God had given the instructions for building, and even the place where He agreed to have His name called, at one time, and where He could be met in worship in a special way; there was His city, Jerusalem, and from the time that He took the Hebrew children out of Egypt, they were not only lead in a special way with miracles, wonders, and signs, but also they were called by Him by His name; but now, this was “Ichabod”, times had changed. Israel had rebelled with no promise of repentance; Israel had forsaken the covenant that was made with a promise of either blessings from God if kept or curses from God if broken. In fact, you would have to say that with a very few and short exceptions, the whole history of Israel was a history of forsaking God and His covenant and of rebellion toward God. Especially is this true as we come to the 700 year plus history that runs from Isaiah through the rest of the 16 Writing Prophets to Malachi. Most of this time Israel to the north and Judah to the south {often still called as the one Israel by the Prophets} either faced the guaranteed disaster of captivity by Assyria or Chaldea, or were recovering form that Captivity, again in the intrabiblical period and into New Testament Times facing or dealing with Greek and Roman Captivity. {The Prophets state over and over the reason for these disasters of captivities was because they refused to heed the Word of God.} The problem is that the crossover point in American history and American History of Christianity, or call it American Church History, happened approximately 20 years ago, by and large undetected by the majority of churches and church members. And don’t you think it was the same way in the Israel of Isaiah, their worship was vain and yet they thought it was adequate; and we can only account for their in terms of “blindness”, then and now. A failure to really know what is going on. If you think this goes too far, try to find a message of teaching today on the Falling Away. The silence bespeaks of a lack of unsound doctrine itself! And this is another part of the message that we must consider in this chapter, the spiritual blindness to the real truth.

  1. The vain worship in Ezekiel takes on the aspect of showing “much love with the mouth”.

“As for you, son of man, {again I hope you realize that God is Himself talking to the Prophet Ezekiel, remember it previously was God speaking more to the people of Israel, although in both of these cases since the words were written down, both heard them}, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’  {Sorry but I think of this when I hear the people of Prestonwood in justification of a new satellite building in Frisco in order to go from 23,000 to 30,000 members, and overtaking both Bellevue and Lakewood, say it is “the message” that is important–isn’t that the equivalent of what we hear from many church member today, come to our church or synagogue and hear the Word of the Lord.  Sounds good, right; but they were not sincere, they really like many today went for entertainment, and that is exactly what God is telling Ezekiel that is happening to him.}

“So they come to you as people do {today and then they will fill the space}, they sit before you as My people {listen they sit before the preacher as if they are the people of God, and they do have some superficial reasons for such a justification}, and they hear your words {here is more wasted mouth and lip service, this time from the Prophet of God speaking the Word of God on deaf ears}, but they do not do them {this is another part of the message of the Prophets that we must list–they hear the words of the Prophets and Apostles but do not do them; and do we not immediately think of James where early Christians were also “hearers of the Word only and no doers”}

“…for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain…” (Ezekiel 33:31b)

If we add what Isaiah said about vain worship as mouth and lip service while the heart is far from God to what Ezekiel tells us about the same mouth and lip service which attempts to make a show of “much love” for God, then we realize where the hearts are while their hearts are far from God, they “pursue their own gain”.

“Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrumentality they hear your words, but they do not do them.” (Ezekiel 33:30-32)

Entertainment, that was what a lot of worship then and now was and is all about. People want to shout, and jump up and down, get entertained by the preacher and continue to entertain themselves. It is like a lovely song and how many lovely and exciting and excitable songs do we hear in worship today; it is like one with a pleasant voice, and so many do have well-developed and pleasant voices {even the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with their pleasant voices we could enjoy today, if we did not know by their doctrines and covenants that they are under two curses from God, that of substituting for the Gospel with their Gospel of Restoration and adding to the Scriptures with their four other Bibles, which they claim is Word of God, but which we know to be extra-biblical and of Satan}. Loud instruments and emotions played an important role in worship then as now! However the bottom line of this worship, in Isaiah and Ezekiel, is that it is vain worship: “they hear your words, but they do not do them.” Doctrine is not doctrine without applications even as teaching is not real teaching without results!

  1. The Prophet David in Psalms also spoke of vain worship of the mouth and lips, using the eloquent words of “flattered Him with their mouth” and “lied to Him with their tongue.

Would that we had time to look at all of Psalm 78 where the Prophet David first recounts all the blessings of God on His people in the wilderness, starting with rescue from Egypt and law and covenant on Mount Sinai, the care and guidance in the wilderness, and also recounting yet how they rebelled and when God slew thousands of them, they sought to return to God. Even then….”even then” the Prophet David writes in Psalms 78:35-37.

“Then they remembered that God was their rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer. Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouth, and they lied to Him with their tongue; for their heart was not steadfast with Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant.” (Psalm 78:35-37)

Can you imagine the vanity of any individual of God’s people that has the gall to attempt a flattery of the Most High God? Yet in vain worship with mouth and lips only, not matter how charismatic, where the heart is far away is within itself an attempt to flatter God. It also leads to the Falling Away as the children of Israel did in the wilderness after seeing the works and care of God for 40 years. It as Paul writes in Hebrews, a matter of “an evil heart in departing from the living God.” Does history repeat itself, in the wilderness and with the majority of God’s people there who were neither allowed to enter the promised land nor eternal rest, and in the Falling Away of this generation; yes, and Paul writes to caution against that in Hebrews, stating that this children of Israel were examples for us of what not to do, and then writes in II Timothy of the inevitable of the intolerance toward sound doctrine of the Falling Away, also in II Thessalonians of the inevitable of the Falling Away before the Second Coming. And church members, the hope of being saved from the Falling Away and the consequences of the Falling Away because of the young people is a false hope: when the time comes, and it is near, for the completion of the Falling Away–when in the words of Daniel the power of the Holy people is completely shattered–then the young people 19 years of age and younger are exempt, never having the 40 years of seeing the works and miracles of God as you have, that is, if the second Falling Away of our generation is like the first falling away of God’s people in the wilderness.

6-2:  Spiritual Blindness to What is Happening.

You know how Jesus also had much to say about this spiritual blindness to truth of perhaps the most religious generation and people that have ever lived, the people of Israel during the lifetime of Christ. You know how Paul had even more to say about it in the book of Romans, lamenting how “brethren, my hearts desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved…”, also writing in Romans how “blindness in part as happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in”. {By the way part of our blindness in America today is that we missed the transition in history between the Fullness of the Gentiles where the Gospel is spread to every nation, and the beginning of the Falling Way where church members: (1) become intolerant toward sound doctrine; (2) massively on TV and in church pulpits pile up a fortress of itching ear teachers with extra-biblical revelations;

(3) are motivated in the choice of their church leaders and in particular worship leaders by their own “wants” and “desires”–most often to feed their “cares of this world”; (4) they turn away from the truth, and I might add the truth about the truth in favor of baldness, they “blind yourselves and be blind” (Isaiah 29:9); and (5) they turn into the fables of Mormonism, Roman Catholicism, special revelations, and fundamentalism.}

  1. “Blind yourselves and be blind” in Isaiah.

“Pause and wonder!” {Yes, that is what it is time for the church in America to do today–pause and wonder, if there are still enough eyes to see and hears to hear left in the churches! Did I warn you of the eloquence of Isaiah and others of the Prophets?} Blind yourselves and be blind! They are drunk, but not with intoxicating drink. For the LORD has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, namely the prophets; and He has covered your heads, namely the seers.” (Isaiah 29:9,10)

You know the number of foreigners who came to American years ago to tell of the American character, and of how America was good because her pulpits were ablaze with the righteousness of God and for man. No more, history has changed; and our churches are blind to that massive change in history. I don’t know how they can be completely blind except the extent to which and the areas in which they chose to be blind; for there is still extensive “cover-up” of what is wrong in churches, especially is there a cover up of church splits, divisions, arguments, bad church behavior, and the oft running off of men of God who will truly preach sound doctrine.

Recently I heard a message from Frank Graham, pastor of the 23,000 member Prestonwood Church and former president of the SBC, on “The Truth about Grace”, or some similar title. I had become interested from the objections expressed on the interned to his coming to deliver a speech to Southern Seminary, since it was purported the writer that Graham was anti-Calvinist and Southern Seminary had Calvinism as an official doctrine. I think almost everything Graham said from the Scriptures was true, except perhaps his misapplication of a verse in Romans to maintain that every man on the face of the earth is given “a measure of faith”; but the problem with Graham is the same as with other fundamentalists like Falwell, Adrian Rogers, and Charles Stanley, it is with what they live out of Scriptures, even while claiming a stance of moderation and balance on Scriptures. The plain truth from Scriptures is that both Arminianism and Calvinism is true. You can see that from one single incident in the life of Paul and as recorded in the book of Acts. Paul was on the way to prison in Rome; the ship was in a storm; and God appeared to Paul to tell him positively that no a soul on board would be lost, which Paul repeated to the crew. {You see this is the foreknowledge and fore ordained of God, in short Calvinism.} However when some members of the crew decided to abandon the ship in favor of a life raft, Paul told them if they made that decision {Arminianism} then they would not be saved. How can both be true? Based on the Scriptures, they are; and both are to be preached as part of the Word of God, in spite of the puny natures of our minds that can not likewise understand many other paradoxes like how light can be wave and particle. And I wonder if the person like Graham or his fundamentalists buddies are not as guilty of disrespect for the Word of God by preaching partial truth as is the man who teaches extra-biblical revelations. To distort the Word of God is to distort the Word of God whether you do it by omission or by extra-biblical revelations. And you know, I just can not see why this message on grace was so important, and defensively to be preached, to Graham unless what he did not say was more important. If he is trying to claim that there are certain periods during which God does not withdraw the gift of grace from certain peoples, then he is missing much of the message of the Prophets to God’s people and much of the message of the Falling Away.

(1). Isaiah presents several reasons for this blindness among God’s people, one of which is that the Word of God is a sealed book.

Oh yes, they read the Scriptures each Sabbath in the synagogue; and it was part of the worship service to read from the Word of God–they heard it often and was even part of what came out of their lips and mouth in worship, singing some of the words of the Psalms if not expressing other Scriptures. However, then as today, especially in the famous Bible belt where they is much carrying around of the Bible, classes to supposedly study the Bible–which most often turn into apologies for ignoring those verses and an expression of extra-biblical opinions much like the Gnostics who had their select groups that received wisdom which other church members could not from the Bible. In short, the Bible today is a sealed book in the face of much discussion “about” the Bible. It is possible to teach and preach “about the Bible” without actual teaching and preaching the Bible; and Americans today at the same time of the unsound doctrines of the Falling Away have become expert at talking about a Bible whose truths are really sealed away from them. What makes you think you are any better or more religious than God’s people in the day of Isaiah, or the religious of Jesus’ time, or those in the church at Corinth, and Galatia, and others to whom the Apostle Paul wrote?

“The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate {oh, we have our literate college and seminary graduates, and even the doctors of the Jesus Seminar}, saying, ‘Read this, please’. And he says, ‘I cannot, for it is sealed.’ Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, ‘Read this, please’ And he says, ‘I am not literate’” (Isaiah 29:11,12)

Recently I heard the pastor of the FBC of Dallas lament how “nothing significant had happened in that church for the last twenty years”. {Isn’t that amazing that it approximately canonicity with both the beginning of the Falling Away and the takeover of the SBC by the fundamentalists.} At least, he was honest, and on the radio too, not trying to cover-up which is the more common practice of pastors today, and other church members; but also lamented how much Bible study actually went on in his church. “Oh”, he pleaded, “there is no shortage of Bible study”. Well, this is also what Isaiah is talking about here among God’s people of his own time. {And you will notice that this is Isaiah himself speaking, of course under inspiration, as contrasted to the Isaiah 29:13 and on, where the Lord God Himself is speaking.}

(2). Another reason for the blindness among God’s people is that they no longer listen to the real Prophets and seerers. There were many other prophets during the time of Isaiah that preached “peace, peace, while there was no peace” that were listened to more than Isaiah, and especially was this true of Jeremiah who ever day made the trip over to the temple gates to preach a message to God’s people that they refused to listen to. Jesus reminded Israel of “which of the Prophets did you not persecute”. Not only did God’s people not listen to the Prophets but quite often they showed their disdain for the message and the messenger by outright persecution. We think of Fox’s Book of Martyrs, well we should also think of God’s Book of Martyrs, and of how many of the Writing Prophets were both ignored and persecuted. Today that bespeaks more of them than of the Prophets; and yet we are repeating history during this time of the Falling Away of unsound doctrine and the love of many waxing cold as sin and lawlessness abounds.

  1. Jesus taught in parables that these blind people of God might not understand or see.

Jesus even introduced the concept Paul had to develop more fully that the Scriptures of the Bible itself are written in parables, “all things come in parables” (Mark 4:11), in order that only a few selected by God may have the grace to see and understand. {Once again Frank Graham is in trouble for a failure to admit of the sovereignty of God, not overcome by any Arminianism or Calvinism, whereby God gives by measure some faith and some grace to differing men.} By the way on the matter of blindness and seeing what Prophet do you think Jesus quotes from? Yes, Isaiah, and Isaiah 6:9,10 as if in this subject of blindness of God’s people we are dealing with both a major theme of Isaiah and the other Prophets, but also of Jesus and the whole Bible. {Somebody has to explain why most of Israel rejected Jesus, and how as Paul said in the reading of the OT itself, even though God ordained them as custodians of the same, their is a veil over their eyes.}

“so that ‘seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.’” (Mark 4:12 and Isaiah 6:9,10)

We are enlightened a little more here on the process of how one can see and not see, in that another kind of seeing is added to the second seeing, that is a matter of perception “see and not perceive”–the worse kind of seeing which really does not allow a perception of what is being seen. In our times, it is the seeing of many Scriptures in the Bible belt and in best sellers even in New York, without either the perception of the end of the Fullness of the Gentiles, nor of the perception of how far our church are into the Falling Away. The Second Coming will still catch us unawares because we fail to perceive the prerequisites–the Falling Away, the visual of the man of sin, the son of perdition, the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit, and how the present intolerance toward sound doctrine, with an unhealthy superior tolerance for the American Democratic faith with a confidence in the majority, is so a great sign of the Falling Away with rebellion against God in churches and out toward God’s own teachings on marriage, also reinforced by Jesus and the Apostles, how the taking of God’s name is so common among church people, and so on.

What a shame here in Mark and Isaiah that it is not the heathen or even the Gentile that is being addressed: it is God’s people that see but do not perceive; it is God’s people that often and in many worship services hear and yet do not understand, likewise read the Scriptures and do not understand as the reading and study is not consistent with the ASI; it is God’s people who do not exercise the turning around of repentance, the opposite of rebellion; and the tragedy of all tragedies, it is God’s people who do not have their sins forgiven.

6-3:  Substituting for Doctrines the Commandments of Men.

Jesus in the quoting from Isaiah 29:13b added the word “doctrine”, which is nothing less than “teachings with results”. Isaiah recorded the heart rendering words from God Himself as to how a proper fear or respect for God had been replaced by the teachings of men.

  1. The Commandments of Men in Isaiah 29:13b.

“And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.” (Isaiah 29:13b)

So many ways there are that the commandments and traditions of men {Jesus Himself added the traditions to the commandments} can be substituted for true worship and for the true Word of God: (1) like at Corinth when everybody has a song, and a word, and a praise and with disorder; (2) when the ladies in the church break their silence demanded by Scriptures in the home and in the church, to come up with extra-biblical revelations and a select and unique wisdom beyond that of the Word {you know I think that if you investigated closely the messages of women like Joyce Meyer who rebels against God’s Word on silent women in the church, and in their messages on the everyday life, or the extraordinary life, or even delve more closely into the good life from the best selling book of Joel, you would find that the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and other things, especially the forbidden “pride of life” as well as other covetousness has been added back to the Gospel; (2) the superficial and superfluous teachings that came out of a church or a church member when they think, contrary to what Paul wrote them in Corinthians, that the Word of God either came to them only or came out of them; and anytime “we have always done it this way”–that is tradition–takes the place of the authority of the Scriptures.

  1. Jesus condemned in His own time the common practice among the religious of God’s people to substitute the teaching of men for the doctrines of God as given in the Revealed Word of God.

Most often it was the religious leaders of God’s people that Jesus condemned for a substitution of Scriptures, the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees. You see what danger you are in when rather than read the Scriptures for yourself as God and Jesus and the Apostle ordained, you allow other men’s interpretations and commandments, even customs, to come between you and the God of the Bible, between you and your own “priesthood” as a believer. {We can mark much of both the fundamentalists takeover of the SBC, with all the subsequent problems of warfare in the last 20 years such as between Bailor, Southwestern Seminary, SBC leaders and the Texas Baptists, and the Falling Away from the time we also find the disappearance of the “priesthood of believers” as a taught and preached Bible doctrine as well as a full understanding of both Inspiration of Scriptures and applied respect for those Scriptures.} It is prayed that the five volumes of the LEARN CHRIST FROM THE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS, with a blessed by God spiritual understanding of both the real way to learn Christ, and of how the Scriptures must be those biblical, not extra-biblical, that come from the 12 Apostles and 16 Prophets. {Of course, we would add the others like David, Solomon, Moses, Job, etc.} Jesus condemned this practice of too much respect for the teachings and commandments of men so often, and in so many ways, that it is difficult to know where to start and where to end. However, our real problem today is that we have difficulty in dealing with any hypocrisy, especially a hypocrisy that would come form those we have respected as religious leaders, the same religious leaders that comfort us by convincing us in some form that we are the very elect of God. {It is on the twin doctrines of the “Priesthood of Believers” and “Proper Respect for the Word of God” that the SBC was allowed by God to make a significant contribution not only in the one church, its certain members supplying at one time a head or mouth to the total body, but also to the Fullness of the Gentiles and the preaching of the gospel to every nation which will bring the end of time and this age; and it is the disappearance with intolerance toward sound doctrine that has brought down the SBC beyond possible hope of restoration, the final nail in the coffin coming as the fundamentalists, not even real southern Baptists, brought their spirit of warfare into what we once had and appreciated.} Oh yes, they try to make up with their mouths and lips what is lacking in heart, and they try to divert you from where their hearts went when they drifted from God to personal gain, with the Gospel of Prosperity, extrabiblical revelations, and dynamic worship services for show more than substance! I remember approximately 15 years ago when the effects of the fundamentalists takeover started hitting the local churches like in Alamogordo, New Mexico. You remember about the same time southern Baptist rejected the leadership of men like Winfred Moore in favor of the fundamentalists like Charles Stanley and Adrian Rogers {not even real southern Baptists} went after the seminary professors, forcing many of them to go to Bailor or form a new Seminary in Arlington. Well, a good ole fundamentalist boy from an El Paso church, interested more in getting his retirement from the retirement board than for the total body of Christ, and in the furtherance of his own career, told the church members at Alamogordo, “Just be patient and it will work out”. They did, and it has worked out in a detrimental way. I am sure by now, he has his career and retirement completed; and participates in the gigantic effort to cover up what has happened to perhaps the all-time most evangelical and dedicated to Christ denomination, the late, great SBC.  Do such preachers, pastors, and denominational leaders not remind you of the false prophets of the time of Isaiah and Ezekiel? {The same ones who said “peace, peace, while there was no real peace”.}

Yet back to the teachings and preaching of Jesus, with OT quotes, on the substitution of the teachings of men for doctrines of God. I just do not know how we have been able to ignore them and overlook them!

(1). Jesus words and quote to the scribes and Pharisees who came from Jerusalem, Matthew 15:1-9.

These religious leaders started the quarrel with the disciples, who did not according to “the tradition of the elders” wash their hands elaborately before the eating of bread; and then when Jesus entered the fracas became a matter of how they had distorted by their tragedians the OT Scriptures on something as basic as honor for mother and father. They had actually found a way for convenience and profit to negate the commandment itself in that name of a teaching of men to replace the commandment. Jesus took them on with, “Thus you have made the commandments of God of no effect by your tradition”. Then he calls them hypocrites!

“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:7-9 and Isaiah 29:13)

Would that today we had the intolerance, counter to the toleration of the American Democratic Faith, to call such religious leaders “hypocrites” {you see I guess, that history does not repeat itself and that we in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, could not possible have any denominational leaders who we would chose to call “hypocrites”–I understand a listener at one of Bush’s speeches called Bush such, and they almost arrested him}; would that we had the respect for the minority over the majority–also counter to the majority emphasis of the American Democratic Faith–to call false prophets and false teachers these extra-biblical revelators with itching ears. Even as we do not have the Learn Christ of the Apostle Paul, and the respect for the Bible of the Apostles and Prophets unless it is modified by the tragedians of men, we also do not have the courage of the Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith; and likewise we have a false concept, also borne on the wings of the American Democratic Faith, where peace is not the peace of Jesus, but rather the peace of the world.

(2). Jesus had to tell the religious leaders of His day, in this case especially the Sadducees, who based on the OT Scriptures denied a resurrection form the dead, that they neither understood Scriptures of the power of God.

Isn’t it tragic when you need to tell those who have specialized in religion and the Bible, some at the best and most prestigious of colleges and seminaries and with doctors degrees, that in all their effort and their studies they have failed to understand the very Scriptures on which they tried to specialize. Herein, we often fail in that we have regard for education and specialization for religious leaders even as for doctors and lawyers. This will not work, because the Bible is unlike any other avenue of skill and knowledge. Rather than help in understanding the Bible, as Paul makes clear in Corinthians, the wisdom of this secular world actually makes it impossible to understand the Bible. What you will find is that those with doctors degrees and other credentials of schools are more concerned about how they fit into the academic community than they are with faithfulness to the Word of God; and to think that the academic community is isolated from the world and the wisdom of the world is very foolhardy indeed. It does not take long for a Seminary, even the Southwestern Seminary with the good beginnings of Carroll teaching through the Bible and then Scarborough, that must respect the academic community to fall under the influence and control of that academic community. Hey, they can not continue to earn their salaries if they do otherwise! When Carroll left the death bed message for Scarborough to keep the Seminary attached to Christ, it was noble and worth a goal; but with the dominance of the fundamentalists control of the SBC and the advent of the Falling Away, like the largest churches, the seminaries have become leaders in the Falling Away.

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29)

(3). Do we have religious leaders today, like the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus called hypocrites in Matthew 23:13, who shut up the kingdom of God for themselves and their hearers?

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against me; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:13)

Would it not be a marvel, even a miracle, if religion and the religious leaders, did not repeat in this day and time. Can you not think of any religious leaders who by their very religious teachings, doctrines, and practices actually hinder their church members from salvation. Rather, they place on their listeners much vain legion and unnecessary loads. Where are we and what are we doing? Either taking it because they comfort us on our sins, which we intend to continue anyway, or they convince us that in spite of all we are the very people of God, the elect; and how many ways do such religious leaders today have to say that!

(4). Do we have religious leaders and groups today who will come into the homes of widows and others in need to make loud and charismatic prayers, in pretense and with vain worship although much mouth, for personal gain and status. {It seems that the charismatic fundamentalists have found a new way to worm into homes at the death of loved ones to make long pretenses prayers, even expecting immediate healing of the loved ones form their prayers which hardly ever happens, and for the loved ones to sit up in beds to speak in tongues, and to tell marvels of heaven. Somehow these charismatic fundamentalists, more the kind that we use to call missionary Baptists, have gotten in bed with hospice organizations, and are repeating the havoc of their unsound doctrine on unsuspecting widows and their relatives.}

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses {yes, that is exactly what this new breed of fundamentalists are doing}, and for a pretense make long prayers {yes, they will prayer as long as you will allow, and sing, and shout and make it down right miserable for the poor sinner that is suffering and dying on their death bed–perhaps one of the greatest hypocrisies of all time}. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.(Yes, your day is coming!} (Matthew 23:14)

(5). What extent some of these fundamental instant new birth advocates go to in order to make one convert to their extra-biblical teachings, that convert becoming as bad as their example, or worse. You know we can fill a pew and a church with empty people, and the Mormons and Roman Catholics are testimony alone to the fact that though evangelistic and fervent, this is not sufficient to overcome any and all extra-biblical teachings.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” (Matthew 23:15)

(6). Why is it all times and all nations through history have had blind guides for leaders in the Scriptures, and yet we in our day and in the US have none? Those who go to church, worship, are active even with matters of outward performance like the paying of the tithe; and yet they use such religiosity and church membership as a clique to “neglect the weightier matters of the law”, the matters of “justice, mercy, and faith.” And you will find that also as a consistent part of the message of the Writing Prophets.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say…For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”  (Matthew 23:16,23)

6-4:  Hearers of the Word and Not Doers.

Perhaps before reading this volume on the message of the Prophets, you thought that being a doer of the word as well as a hearer was only part of the message of the Apostle James. Not the Prophet Ezekiel ha the equivalent message as God actually tells him the secret of what God’s people are really doing: “they hear your words, but they do not do them.” (Ezekiel 33:32) They seek personal gain in their worship. They show much love for God only with their mouth, with instruments, with song and pleasant solos and choirs. The Prophets as part of their the message recorded the disasters themselves, and also the reason for the disasters as part of the message. In spite of very religious practices, such as the giving of the tithe and temple attendance, the weightier matters of the law like justice, mercy, and faith have been neglected.

6-5:  Restoration and Promised Blessings.

McComiskey in his “introduction” to volume 3 of the Minor Prophets–where Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi are discussed–after words of “how can the gloomy forecasts of captivity for Israel and Judah lift the heart today” speaks of the good parts in the Message of the Prophets.

“They speak of the love of God as well as his justice. Their prophecies are not all doom, but are often rich with hope. Hosea based his hope on God’s compassion. Joel envisioned a new era for the people of God. Amos spoke of the restoration of David’s collapsing monarchy. And Micah foresaw the coming Ruler whose hyperbolae would be the insignificant town of Bethlehem.”

6-6:  Joel as a Launching Pad for the Good Parts of the Message.

Like we used Jonah and Amos for a launching pad for the bad parts of The Message of the Writing Prophets, we will use Joel as a launching pad for some of the good parts. We are reminded of the message of Joel previously discussed, and in particular the words of Joel 2:12 — in spite of the impending judgment of the invading army, if they will repent, who knows if He will change His plan of Judgement.

“‘Yet even now, says the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil. Who knows whether he will not turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, a cereal offering and a drink offering for the LORD, your God?” (Joel 2:12-14 RSV) While we are groveling with all the parts of The Message that God’s people are not acting like God’s people in many ways, we should also consider such positive matters as (1) There can be a return to the Lord at any time unless He has made a cutoff decision, like He did after 40 years to the children of Israel in the wilderness, or as after the time of Christ when He cutoff Israel by blindness unto the Fullness of the Gentiles is complete, or like He can do for any individual when with “an evil heart of unbelief” they go beyond the now time of he Holy Spirit, and when the period of the Falling Away comes for Gentiles with sin and lawlessness when they really can no longer hear, heed, or endure sound doctrine; and (2) We must consider the whole character of God as gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and does relent of His decisions for punishment. You will recall even the message of Jonah, no doubt the oldest of the Writing Prophets while Job as the oldest Prophet; and how that message continued the element of God relenting when He heard the prayers and repentance of the city of Nineveh.

  1. Relenting of punishment in Joel.

God promised several disasters, like locusts, and then relented. Of course, we have a history of God for that in Jonah and when seeing repentance in the great city God relented of the punishment of destruction.

  1. If God’s people who are called by His Name will repent, they can know that He is in the midst of them and that He is our God.

“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied {the material prosperity that God promises is really more like a lack of hunger, we might call it a prosperity of daily bread, quite unlike the Gospel of Wealth and Prosperity with success of today}, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the LORD, am your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.” (Joel 2:26,27) This is not only a promise that follows repentance and calling on the name of the LORD by the chosen people, but it is a promise and prediction that will come to pass; however, it becomes more spiritual than physical. Although there is a promise of physical blessings on a nation as that nation honors God, there is the spiritual blessing that starts with Joel 2:28 as the Holy Spirit is democratically poured out on all flesh.

  1. The Promise of a all God’s People Blessing of the Holy Spirit {this is also an historical event, the Coming of the Holy Spirit on earth in a special way, and to stay until withdrawn during the Falling Away} at the Beginning of the Last Days. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out of my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions {perhaps Obadiah was a young man as he saw a vision}. Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out my spirit.” (Joel 2:28,29 RSV)
  2. The Promises of the New Heaven and the New Earth, after the Day of the Lord destroys the old heaven and the old earth.

Quickly even as the “last days” of Joel 2:28-32 and Acts 1 end with the old heaven and earth rolling up like a scroll and the advent of the new heaven and earth, so from that point on in Joel (2:30) the emphasis is on the end time.

“So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who dwell in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy and strangers shall never again pass through it. And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the stream beds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD and the water the valley of Shittim.” (Joel 3:17-18 RSV)

It amazes me that we don’t readily see that with a new heaven and a new earth that John saw in the book of Revelation, and the new Jerusalem that John saw lowered down from heaven to earth, that there is the new Zion of the holy mountain; and a new chosen people of God, complete in number of Jews and Gentiles. This is the wrap up of all time as we know it. Where we have so much difficulty with the Prophets is in the failure to realize the message of Romans as to who the real nation of Israel is, consequently also the new Jerusalem, Zion, and etc. Restoration to the Lord is individually available most of the time, and available to nations of God’s people at certain periods and for certain intervals as determined by God.; for we know: {Many of these things God told Moses about Himself at the renewal of the covenant on Sinai as Moses had requested to know God better, to see God, and to hear the proclamation of the name of God, which God permitted all except seeing Him face to face, which no man could do and live!} (1) God is Gracious and Merciful; (2) God is Slow to Anger; (3) God is Abounding in Steadfast Love; (4) God in response to repentance and prayer does “relent” of a judgment for punishment passed on individuals, cities, and nations; (4) God promises Spiritual Prosperity and Material Prosperity {daily bread} in the Message of the Writing Prophets; (5) the greatest blessing from God besides Christ and salvation is the Coming of the Holy Spirit, also related to salvation, to planet earth to take the Place of Jesus; and (6) then there is the everlasting promise of the New Heaven and the New Earth, with a new temple and a new Jerusalem and a new government, the government of Christ’s kingdom.

6-7:  Acts of God, Disasters as part of The Message of the Prophets.

While we like to talk today, at least in legal terms, of physical disasters in terms of “acts of God”, we as a people of God today are not convinced truly that drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes are sent by God; and especially do we not want to believe that military disasters at the hands of a foreign enemy like 911 are brought by God as more immediate punishment for the sins of God’s people in a nation. But is it true? If we are faithful to a conservative and Spirit led interpretation of the Writing Prophets, do we come to see physical disasters like a plague of locusts or a volcanic eruption as an effort by the God of the Universe to get our attention, if not a specific punishment for a specific period of sins. And how do we fit such immediate acts of punishment from God in natural disasters into the giant scheme of the universe falling to pieces immediately before the Second Coming, a process that I like to call “slow destruction by automatic control”, that spoken of by Paul in Hebrew as “the whole creation groaneth” until now, and also in the punishment of God sent on the whole world in the Flood which was a “shaking” of the earth only as contrasted to the final shaking which will be of the heavens and the earth. {You know what I mean as you read often in Scriptures of continuous signs throughout history of “blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke”, and even more often of the diminished lights of the stars, the sun, and the moon.}

But should we not be looking more in the NT for such guidance on disasters from God: say for example as from the Apostle Peter as he writes of how “all the elements will be destroyed with a fervent heat”; as for example from those parts of Hebrews (chapter 12) mentioned above from Paul; and even from Jesus in Matthew and Mark where He also teaches of how “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers (even gravity and gravitation attraction) of the heavens will be shaken {we might call it the final and great shaking of heaven and earth}” (Matthew 24:29), immediately after the tribulation of those days caused by: (1) the Falling Away; (2) the increase in sin and lawlessness with a subsequent waxing cold of the hearts of God’s people; (3) the withdrawal by God of His Holy Spirit from the earth with the loosing of Satan; and (4) the increased physical and natural tribulations caused by the disintegration of the universe {physics likes to call it entropy whereby the organization of the universe runs down, but they like think of it in terms of many more years than indicated by the history of the Scriptures}. Well by answer to look to the NT more than the Writing Prophets for insight on disasters from God is twofold: (1) we will simultaneously look at the OT and NT, goodness let us utilize all that God has given us in full truth; and (2) we have not begun to fathom the benefits of God’s revelations in the Writing Prophets on physical disasters, and we are far from convictions that God yearly works to control history through many means, including physical disasters. For example, you may be surprised to realize how descriptive, even far beyond the NT, is a chapter of Isaiah on the final shaking of heaven and earth.

6-8:  The Final Shaking of the Heavens and the Earth in Isaiah 24.

All of Isaiah 24 {you may find in some of it an more immediate punishment, but you can not miss the words of “all the earth” in most of it} is of the impending and inevitable judgment of God on the whole of the earth, the whole of which you will want to read for the real details of the final shaking, although now we briefly look at only a few verses.

“Behold, the LORD makes the earth empty {you do not see limited emptiness in those words, and this work of destruction by the LORD reminds one His work of creation at the beginning in the sense that God speaks and it happens–isn’t it strange that the same “wise of this world” that find millions of years as a necessary explanation for Creation, also find millions of years as necessary for the running down of the universe, all precipitated by an inward desire to eliminate God from the formula} and makes it waste {well, you have little doubt as to the ultimate outcome of the old heavens and the old earth even before you read of the “elements melted with a fervent heat” of the Apostle Peter}, Distorts its surface {God distorted the surface of the earth during the Flood, starting from an eruption of a mountain range in the Ocean with a subsequent continent drift as once all the continents were attached, and it will be distorted again in some marvelous way that we can not fully comprehend as God ushers in a new heavens and a new earth} and scatters its inhabitants {the inhabitants of the whole earth will be scattered}…” (24:1)

“The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered”  {while you can see a little immediate punishment and disaster from God on Judah and Jerusalem, recall it was the Prophet Isaiah that got the ball rolling on prophesies of doom for Jerusalem, taken up also by Jeremiah and then also by Ezekiel who was already in Captivity in Chaldea before the Fall of Jerusalem, you must see also the “entirely” and the “utterly”, and keep it in the context of the whole earth started in verse 1}. The LORD has spoken this word. “ (24:3)

It is “the earth” that mourns in 24:5, also the earth that fades away; the world in 24:5 also has the same fate as the earth {we might think of the world as the organizations, buildings, and all creations of man}; it is the “haughty people of the earth” (opposite of humility, that is it is the prideful people} that languish; and when we read of how “the earth is also defiled under its inhabitants” in 24:5 we think of both how the population of the world destroys through global warming, etc., and also of the curse that God placed on the earth in Genesis when sin first entered His creation; and you see this in 24:6 in the words “the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate {isolated from God}; and you can learn what was revealed to Peter also in the 24:6 where “the inhabitants of the earth are burned”, and in fact you have a little more insight in that “few men are left”; and while it would be quickly agreed in the nature of most OT prophecies of disaster that have both an immediate fulfillment and a more distant one, the 24:7 through 24:16 would apply to the impending disaster form God on Jerusalem and Judah, you can not miss the transition back in 24:17 to all “inhabitants of the earth”.

Why does God through His Word do that, that is pass the judgment of a disaster that is both more immediate and at the end of time? Well, I think one reason is that God wants His people to realize that little comes suddenly or without prior warning; that God is not fickle, and that what He does is consistent and has a plan that started even at the initial stages of the earth.  In other words, there is an automatic plan of control for the continuous shaking and ultimate destruction of the this earth with the heavens above, under the positive and direct control of God; and even immediate judgments with natural disasters is a small part of that automatic go to the end destruction.  In other words, the destruction by God as punishment for sins of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. was just a small part of His overall plan to punish at the end of time the sins of all people.  God in all cases and in the big case is the same! (Isaiah 24:19-23)

The Physical Disaster of all Physical Disasters to God’s People in the Writing Prophets was in 586 B.C. with the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and the scattering of the people of the southern kingdom of Judah into Captivity. There is the Locusts of Joel, Amos, and Nahum, some of which we have already looked at. The disasters as guaranteed from God to get attention and for threats are early in the history of Israel, as God tells through Moses and the Song of Moses  (Deut 32) how “I will heap disasters on” the people of God when, as they inevitable will, based on their inclinations and behavior, break God’s covenant.

6-9:  The Destruction of the Universe in Zephaniah.

Isaiah with Joel and Amos were not the only Prophets to speak of the ultimate disaster brought by God of the destruction of the universe, Zephaniah did also and that is the bulk of His message. It is as if by the time of Zephaniah, that people had bought on the inevitable judgment through Daniel that there would be a probational covenant of a probational time to start at the Crucifixion of Christ, and run for three and one half years. Surely the people in reading their own history must have known that always and continuously broke the covenant of God, that God punished them, and they were also always asking for forgiveness, at least a few, in order to be rescued from the punishment. Already the remnant of the remnant, that only a few of God’s people of every and each generation would be put in the book of remembrance must have begun to dawn on them, although Zechariah and Malachi would near the end of the OT times make it clear. It is as if no longer looking for justice, faith, and mercy in more immediate days of the LORD, they were looking for consolation and blessing in the ultimate Day of the LORD, at the end of the age.

 

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