The 19 Writing Prophets

CHAPTER 1   Preface to The 19 Writing Prophets 

 

There is no substitute for the reading of the Writing Prophets themselves even as there is no substitute for the actual reading of the NT {New Testament} and the whole Bible. Like one Bible teacher said many years ago, “Read your Bibles, they will throw a lot of light on the commentaries.” Then again with something as difficult as the Writing Prophets, especially in order to ascertain the relevance for today, some guidance is helpful based on hours with those Writing Prophets. When Philip the evangelists caught the Ethiopian reading from the queen of the Writing Prophets, Isaiah, Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The Ethiopian replied, “How can I except some man should guide me?” Thus each reader of the Writing Prophets or of a commentary such as this on the Writing Prophets needs to have some nudge like for the Ethiopian in the direction of Christ and other things most clearly known in the NT to help with the OT {Old Testament}. Often you will find in the pages of this commentary the statement “What God considers most important in the OT in order to quote in the NT”; and that is the real “study guide”, that and the ASPI for Authorized Semi-Public Interpretation. While this is a day of “itching ears” Bible teachers with either “private” interpretations of the Bible, out of the total context of the Bible; or even more popular Bible teachers and preachers who claim for themselves extra-biblical interpretations. {You know what I mean, those who say “The Lord told me” or “God gave me a word”, as if, like Apostle Paul wrote in Corinthians, either “the Word came out of them or came to them only.”} Yet Peter wrote in II Peter 1:20, and that Word of God still stands like a prophecy against any man or woman who would claim to have a private interpretation that glories themselves and makes a profit, “no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation”. God Authorized a more public interpretation consistent with all the Apostles and Prophets; and it would be the API if it were not for the fact that academic scholarship or credentials or even popularity is not sufficient for the understanding and teaching of the Bible, hence the ASI for Authorized Semi-Public Interpretation. Perhaps the biggest mess ever made with the Bible of the OT among any society was by the religious leaders of Judaism during the life of Christ; and while we will not repeat here the labels Christ had for these scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and priests of His day, you will recall that they were blind, they could not understand, and they had come to substitute the teachings of men for the commandments of God. Well, that is happening again today as we see an unbelievable number of men and women who teach the Bible for profit; and we appreciate some of the extent today of the popular “heaping up of teachers with itching ears” of II Timothy 4:3,4, which matches if is not greater than the present intolerance among church members and denominations of sound doctrine.

1-1:  God’s Efforts to Collect a People for His Name.

The history of the OT, indeed of OT and NT times, is a struggle on the part of God to get a people for His name that will keep His covenants. Since like the Apostle James said at the Great Jerusalem Conference, “known unto God are all His works from the beginning”, God knew that it would be a struggle from the 80 years in the wilderness to cull a real people from Israel through the periods of judges, the united kingdom, the divided kingdoms, captivity, restoration, the time of Christ, the termination of the Jews for new people in the kingdom three and one-half years after the crucifixion, the increase in number of Gentiles as His people, all the way to the Fullness of the Gentiles with the spreading of the Gospel to every nation, and then the Falling Away of the Gentiles except for a remnant, much like what happened to two-thirds of the Jews during Daniel’s period of the probational covenant. God expected all this; no doubt, He has a certain number of people in mind for His eternal kingdom, and perhaps one reason that the Second Coming has been extended so long is because God has determined that certain number.   Even as He designated early in history and in Genesis that man would populate the whole earth, so He needs a certain number of kingdom members to repopulate the new earth. In short, all of the rebellion against God’s covenants was expected by God, planned on by God, and God knew that it would take thousands of years to repopulate His kingdom while taking only a small remnant out of each generation that claimed some association with God.

1-2:  19 Writing Prophets.

The impression that this is only the 16 Writing Prophets is somewhat of a simplification in that there is an introductory chapter on Psalms also, from the Prophet David, with a little of the Prophet Solomon from Proverbs, and even a little from the Prophet Job as dictated by the Magic Outline of the Bible under 12 topics as used in all five volumes of the LEARN CHRIST commentaries. However, we no way can such a chapter do justice to the extent of the messages in this Bible literature of Wisdom and Praise. In short, the bulk of this volume is on the 16 Writing Prophets, the 4 so called major prophets because of the size of their books–Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, and the 12 minor prophets. Actually, to be more precise, this is on 19 Writing Prophets, the 16 major and minor with Moses, David, and Job.

1-3:  The Message of the Writing Prophets.

The message of the Writing Prophets, if we can consider that they have one most prominent and consistent message throughout all 16 books, as you will find discussed in the next chapter, goes something like this: “God’s people are not acting like God’s people; a more immediate disaster or disasters is here or on the way for punishment unless they repent as a nation, called a day of the LORD and Lord; and the ultimate and final day of the LORD and Lord is pending fulfillment with an eternal punishment for the unbelievers {this included God’s people that cultivate “an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God} and eternal reward for believers whose names are written in the book of life, the final disaster at the end of the Age after the Second Coming of Christ. Now all of this message is not in the 16 Writing Prophets per se; but the kernel is with slight explanations and further revelations to be given in the New Testament. As we study the message in these Prophets, having in this century as in the past two hundred centuries a complete Bible of 66 books, we reserve the right to use all of the Bible truth on each book.

There are two corollary messages to this “The Message” that we would seek to make clear from the writings of these 16 Prophets: (1) that God is in control of history, that God makes history on the daily and routine level as well as at the level of nations and the world, that God knows all His works of history from the beginning to the end, works on individuals and works on nations, and that God is actively and always involved in the making of history to the extent that the contemporary hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes with incidents also like 911 are under His immediate control {we will need to discuss how God has much of the natural and beyond world under automatic control, but always with the option of immediate intervention which He quite often exercises}; and (2) that the 16 Writing Prophets were writing words of God, and of Scripture, quite often they simply recorded words of direct dictation from God.

LEARN CHRIST commentaries  

You are welcome at any time in this series of studies on the Writing Prophets to free download the complete book in PDF.     

 

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Erosions of Sound Doctrine, Southern Baptist Convention, The 19 Writing Prophets

Paul and Erosions of Sound Doctrine.

NOTE:  About the photo, the colors are lovely only for scenery; however such a beautiful edifice is not functional as a church in all weather because of the erosions and a hole in the middle.  “what Happened to God’s people in the SBC”, Paul dealt with that also after the central message of the 19 Old Testament Writing Prophets.

CHAPTER 2     Paul and Erosions of Sound Doctrine.

I know that the Apostle Paul cried quite often about what happened to him before he became a Christian, how he persecuted the church. No doubt he confessed his sins, God forgave his sins, God forgot his sins; but to a certain extent–at least in Paul’s memories–the load was still on his back. Let us be careful here–this matter is very practical for daily Christian and church life–there is no need for Paul or us to carry around any “care” of any kind, including past weights and sins. The Apostle Peter made that clear.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”    (I Peter 5:6,7)

However, in spite of forgiveness; in spite of God’s forgetfulness; in spite of the getting of Paul’s cares off his back, something remained in his memory and on his back related to his persecution of the church. I don’t think we have all the answers, but we do not it clearly remained. Paul wrote that he was not any worthy to be called an Apostle because he persecuted the church of God. Of course, we did know that part of the problem was because Christians had difficulties initially accepting Paul as an Apostle. Some were afraid of him because they knew as Saul how he had dragged Christians into prison. Remember Ananias when God told him to go talk to Saul, “Lord, I’ve heard about this man, and how much harm he has caused the saints in Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:13)

Even though God forgives our past sins and forgets them, casting them as far as the east is from the west and promising to remember them no more, I think there are certain inevitable laws that exist here on earth such as the law of gravity, the law of supply and demand, the law of inertia, and the law of sowing and reaping. We simply continue to reap certain consequences of our past here on earth and in the history of earth. And no matter how much we cast our cares on Christ, realizing the assurance of forgiveness and forgetfulness, the memories even if in our subconscious remain. Listen to it straight from one of Paul’s letters.

“For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (I Corinthians 15:9,10)

When we consider doctrine, alias the teachings of the Bible, and especially as related to our past and present weights or sins, we need something of the attitude of the Apostle Paul as reflected in I Corinthians 15:9,10.

  1. By the grace of God, past and present I am what I am.

This assumes that he has confessed his sins, asked and received forgiveness and God’s forgetfulness.

  1. Considering himself the least in his group, the least of the Apostles, only made Paul work even harder to prove that the grace of God toward him was not wasted.

He worked harder than all the others. Even there, he pauses to acknowledge that in the work it was not really him, but the grace of God that was working in him.

2-1: Doctrine, often a Tight Shoe that Crimps our Style.

Now, I have mentioned all this in order to say that doctrine is often a “Tight Shoe” that puts a crimp in our walking and living style, especially that doctrine that I discuss now that seems to have become a major problem for us in the more recent years. It is by no means a new problem as I can recall it from the 1960’s in Tucumcari, FBC, and Portales at Emmanuel Baptist Church as well as other places. Which doctrinal problem am I speaking of? That of, marriage, divorce, and the biblical requirements for pastors and deacons. In particular we think of two scriptures in I Timothy 3:2 and 3:12.

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…”     (I Timothy 3:2)

“Let deacons be the husbands of one wife…” (I Timothy 3:12)

Now, before we proceed on the “Tight Shoe” of this doctrine, realizing that our nation is approaching the point where over 50% of marriages end in divorce and knowing that some of our most respected and active churchmembers have been divorced as well as close loved ones; and at the same time knowing that we must hold high the standard of marriage from our Creator from the beginning, in spite of the allowance in the time of Moses of a writ of divorcement because of the hardness of the peoples heart, we must preach, teach, and write the whole counsel of God, being concerned quite often about the totality of doctrine, You know what our most important concern must be: the erosion of our endurance for sound doctrine. This matter of marriage and divorce in general and specifically as related to the qualifications for pastors and deacons is just one example of the battles that we must fight today and in the future of the soundness of doctrine. As the Apostle Paul wrote in II Timothy 4:3,4.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (II Timothy 4:3,4)

Wow! I will come back to this latter as a main point; but before I pass on I want to ask you the question, “Are we there already?” Have we significantly eroded our endurance for sound doctrine, and do we continue to significantly erode that endurance. Do we often find what we want in the Bible instead of an exegesis of what is really in there? And do we go looking for teachers that will tell us what we want to hear? Clarence W. Kerr writes in GOD’S PATTERN FOR THE HOME.

“Decade by decade the problem of divorce becomes more and more acute. It is hard for us to realize that a century ago divorce was well nigh unheard of in this country. We are not saying that there were not marriage problems, but few of them reached the courts of the law. Now our divorce rate vies with death as a dissolver of the marriage relationship. If the rate keeps on increasing as it has, it will not be long until each license for a new marriage is counter-balanced by a certificate of divorce for the legal dissolution of another. The problem is more acute in Christian America than in many pagan lands.”

2-2:  Marriage, Divorce, and Qualifications of Leaders.

What do reliable commentators say on this Doctrine of Marriage, Divorce, and Qualifications for Pastors and Deacons? Okay, enough meddling, let us get into some comments for respected commentators. And I remind you, don’t change horses in mid-stream. Don’t change you reliable commentators when there is a possibility that you have encountered a doctrine that is a tight shoe on your feet. Now for me, the most reliable of all commentators is Dr. B. H. Carroll. Dr. Carroll was the founder of Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth where he established a seminary that would teach all the way through the Bible. Many of you know that Commentaries on those lectures have been written, published, and re-printed as AN INTERPRETATION OF THE ENGLISH BIBLE.

  1. Carroll, as a high school friend of mine presently teaching at Southwestern reminded me, is part of our Christian and Baptist heritage. Here is Dr. Carroll on I Timothy 3:3 and I Timothy 3:12.

“First, ‘the husband of one wife.’ Does that mean that he must be the husband of a wife–is that what it means? In other words, that an unmarried man ought not to be a pastor?…We had an old deacon once that put his foot right on it that it meant: ‘I am willing to give that young preacher a place, I am willing to recognize him and even ordain him to special mission stations to preach, but no unmarried man can be pastor of this church.” And continuing about deacons Carroll writes.

“The deacon. So far as moral qualifications go, there is little difference between the qualifications of preacher and deacon.”

  1. How about Barclay and his commentaries, I know many of you like him.

“The Christian leader must have been married only once. The Greek literally means that he must be ‘the husband one wife.’ Some take this to mean that the Christian leader must be a married man, and it is possible that the phrase could mean that…But in this context here we can be quite certain that the phrase mean that the Christian leader must be a loyal husband, preserving marriage in all its purity. In later days the APOSTOLIC CANONS laid it down: ‘He who is involved in two marriages, after his baptism, or he who has taken a concubine, cannot be an episkopos, a bishop.”

  1. How about your pastor as a Bible commentator?

He has labored as your overseer or pastor for 15 years, through the hard times and the easy. You listen to him teach and preach every Sunday and more. Why should you suddenly stop listening to him because you feel a tightness in your shoes? I don’t understand why any active member of this church, even if honestly persuaded of another interpretation can not say to the pastor, “I don’t agree on this matter, but I am willing to go along with your leadership.”

2-3: What Can Happen if We Erode our Tolerance of Sound Doctrine. Now, let me come to the main point of the message (chapter), and that is some of the dangers of tampering with this doctrine or any other doctrines of the Bible.

  1. It can hamper Friendship with Jesus.

Recall how that Jesus in John 14-16 in some of the most significant and last teachings to the Apostles emphasized how that He wanted them to pass from being servants, who did not know the will of the Master, to being friends who knew the plan of the Creator. And Jesus told what the qualifications are for being a “Friend”. Parenthetically, you know if I had to make a choice between being a pastor, a deacon, or a Friend of Jesus, I think I would chose being a friend of Jesus. For one thing Friendship with Jesus which comes from love and keeping the commandments or teachings of Jesus, gives great boldness on the day of judgment.

It is true that those that inherit the office of the deacon also inherit “great boldness in the faith”, but I think I would prefer boldness on the day of judgment. Just think about the matter of memories, sins, weights and the judgment day. The Bible tells us “it is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment”. We are told in the book of Revelation that all the books of our works are going be opened on the day of judgment, the recorded memories of all that we have done. And the world will be judged out of those books. But don’t fear! There is another book, the book of life, and if our names are written in book because of our faith in Jesus, the previous books will be set aside and the book of life with our name in it will be the only book that gives us basis for boldness on the day of judgement.

“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”  (John 15:14) “Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone love Me, hew ill keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make OUr home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words…”      (John 14:23,24)

  1. Eroding our tolerance for sound doctrine can deny our heritage in the New Testament Church, in Church History, in Baptist faith and beliefs, and in the Southern Baptist Convention.

I can recall at Quachita Baptist University in 1961 when writing a senior research paper. I asked the Professor, Dr. Blackmon, if I could write on “Baptist Distinctives”. I took a step back and thought to myself, “you old reprobate”, when his replay was “Is there any such thing?” But you know after over 40 years in the ministry as both a military chaplain, a pastor of churches, and a Bible professor he had a point, that on the practical level in talking to members of different denominations on doctrine it is quite often hard to tell the difference. And if this was true in 1961, with the trend obvious of erosion of tolerance for sound doctrine, what must be the situation in this day and time. You know that I have interim pastored approximately 16 churches in New Mexico from the size of Yeso Baptist Church, twice, to the size of First Baptist Church of Tucumcari, also twice; and I use to have the habit as a young man–don’t worry, I don’t do that anymore–of asking people in the congregation on Sunday night to list 10 major doctrines of the Bible. What I was looking for was the great truths on God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, salvation on the cross, heaven, hell, the second coming, the Holy Spirit as a Comforter, and so on; but what did I get: go to Sunday School, go to worship, tithe, be on time–all good practices but hardly major doctrines of the Bible. We can allow tolerance for sound doctrine to erode by (1) negligence, (2) ignorance, or (3) just plan purpose or desire.

(1).  Neglect of the Bible.

We just do not study the Bible itself as much as we ought to. As Dr. Wolber use to say, “Study your Bibles, they will shed a lot of light on the commentaries.” Large corporations are now telling their employees that whereas the reading level of the average American a few years ago was sixth grade, now it is the third grade; and that is the reason that you see USA TODAY written for a third grade reader level. That is also the reason we enjoy it so much. Now, do you think that this obvious lack of reading and reading skills does not affect also Christians reading of the Bible. Certainly it does.

(2). Ignorance of the Bible.

How many times have we heard things like a old farmer outside Hot Springs, Arkansas tell me. It is in the Bible that “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”. I don’t know where, but it is in there. The problem is that we do not take the effort to check of understanding of the Bible by reading and re-reading it. By looking it for ourselves.

(3). Desire to erode sound doctrine.

We hate to think it but some are in the category of the seared conscience of the Bible, who simply desire to distort, mis-interpret and mis-apply the teachings of the Bible. It was also the Apostle Paul who warned about this group of eroders. Isn’t it amazing that this is also in I Timothy, I Timothy 4:1,2.

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…” (I Timothy 4:1,2)

Obviously this seared conscience is related to doctrine–in this case the doctrine of demons. In conclusion we will look at some doctrines from demons such as the doctrines of Balaam, of the Nicolaitines, and of the Prophetess Jezebel.

  1. Eroding our endurance of sound doctrine can put us in the category of those that desire to hear something new, seeking after other teachers. Boy, that scripture in II Timothy 4:3,4 should get our attention lest there be any hint that we may be doing the same thing. Here is a point by point summary of II Timothy 4:3,4 of the “every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”: (1). The time must come, or is already here, but God forbid that we are a part of it, when Christians and churches will have no, zero, endurance for sound doctrine; (2). At that time, or at this time, how then will Christians or churchmembers make decisions about what doctrines are valid. The answer is there! “according to their own desires”. What they want to believe because of a life style, or preference, they will come to believe; (3). Their ears itch, and this is rather difficult. You would think that the itch or hitch is in the conscience or in the heart or even in the mind. But since it follows the desire for different doctrine, we can conclude that there is an immediate link between the emotions, that is the desires for different doctrines, and the itch in the ear. (I wonder if tight shoes can cause an itch in the ears!) But it is a line of continuity: the emotions and the itchy ears lead to the next step; (4). They will heap up teachers that say what they want said. They won’t find just one, but call them, and elect them, and seek the preaching and teaching of preachers and pastors of a similar low tolerance for sound doctrine.
  2. Eroding our tolerance for sound doctrine can indicate that concretely we do not care that much for the Inspiration of Scriptures.

Our adherence to sound doctrine, even when the shoe is tight and hurts, really proves how much we believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures as the Word of God. We hear a lot in this day and time about “fundamentalists” and about being “conservative” on the Bible; and many give it lip service; but how do they stand on issues like this about marriage, divorce, and the qualifications of pastors and deacons. This is the proof of the pudding. This tells how much we believe the Bible is the Word of God!

  1. Such erosion of endurance from sound doctrine can put us in the category of the less desirable church examples of Revelation 2 and 3.

There were more churches in Asia Minor than the seven listed, but these were typical of all the churches in Asia Minor and typical of our churches today. If we erode our endurance for sound doctrine, we can place ourselves in the category of the five out of seven that were on the verge of having their pastor removed by Christ and having the churches place in the church (candlestick) removed.

(1). The church at Ephesus had left their first love even though there were many good things to say about, and recall that a loss of love can also mean a loss in the Friendship of Jesus. They did have enough endurance for sound doctrine to hate the doctrine and deeds of the Nicolaitans, a heresy of doctrine related to Christian behavior and to church leadership. Jesus threatens that if they do not repent to come and remove their candlestick, their place among the other churches.

(2). There were a lot of good things to say about the church at Pergamum, but there was among the minority a doctrinal problem, called the doctrine of Balaam, Balaam being the prophet of the Old Testament who showed for profit how Balak could seduce the children of Israel to go after other gods and to sexual immorality. And the second doctrinal problem was the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. If the church had voted on these two doctrines, it appears that the majority would have suppressed the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. Of course, in this church Christ promised to distinguish between the majority of sound doctrine and the minority, saying that He would fight against them with His Words.

(3). Likewise Thyatira had a doctrinal problem: Jezebel, as she called herself, a prophetess as she called herself, was being allowed to teach unsound doctrine in the church. There, Jezebel was playing the role in the church that Baalam played for Balak, misleading the church in false worship and sexual immorality. Again this must have been a minority that had lost this endurance for sound doctrine, because Christ threatened only the prophetess and the few who supported her, to the rest of the church (Revelation 2:24) that did not have this doctrine He would put on them no other burden.

(4). What can we say about the church at Sardis? Wow, there were in trouble! They had a name, a reputation in the community and possibly even in the association, state, and convention; but they were dead. It sounds like the attendance was good, which within itself can keep the spirits up; but that the doctrine was bad. It definitely looks like if that church had voted the majority would have voted in terms of holding on their reputation, ignoring the call to repentance from Christ and the call to hold fast to the sound doctrines which they had heard. Why do we conclude that? Because it said that there were a few, obviously a minority, that had not defiled their garments.

(5). The problem in the church at Laodicea was that they were neither hot nor cold, either a love problem or a doctrinal problem, or both. It is obvious that they were proud of their accomplishments, saying they were rich, that they needed nothing and nobody. It is hard to know how the vote would have gone in that church!

  1. The Erosion of Sound Doctrine can be an assist to the way Satan works.

Boy, how hard Satan tries. He was gullible enough to believe that he could erode Jesus’s confidence in the sound doctrines of God during the temptation in the wilderness. He even quoted Scriptures out of context.

(1). The Doctrine of the Priority of Word of God over physical well-being. Satan told Jesus prove that the are the Son of God by turning these rocks to stone. Jesus was out there to fast for 40 days and nights, and in doing so to concentrate on the Word of God. You remember Jesus famous reply, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

(2). The Doctrine on the testing of God. Satan said, “It is written in the Scriptures that the Son of God has been given angels to care for Him, if you are the Son of God throw yourself down from the temple to prove that you will be rescued and that you are the Son of God. (Matthew 4:5-7)

(3). The Doctrine of Worship of God over Satan. The last temptation, Satan took Jesus to a high place–here you see some of the power of Satan–and said “all that you see I will give you if you will worship me”. The supreme affront to God is to worship Satan. Jesus replied quickly, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.: (Matthew 4:10)

In short, if Satan were at work in your church today, he would not deny truth per se; for that is too obvious. What he would do would be to quote scripture out of context and mis-apply it! And don’t you think that any place that the work of God has been going on steadily for 15 years, that Satan is going to neglect it. The prince of this world, who is a lion that goes about seeking whom he can chew on, maim and destroy, will be active where Jesus is, where the work of God is going on. It simply remains for Christians who can discern the spirits to figure out where Satan is working!

  1. Erosion of sound doctrine is an assault on the character of God.

We often say and pray–and certainly it is true–that God forgives us when we confess our sins because it is recorded in the Bible; but ultimately the real reason is because it is based on the character of God. It is the character of God that wants to forgive sins when they are confessed. And you can say the same of any doctrine in the Bible. All the principles, doctrines, teachings, and instructions of the Bible are based on the character of God: that is the reason we call it the Word of God or the Book of God. It reflects what God is and what God wants us to be. Now when we in any way malign, distort, or erode the doctrines of the Bible we are making an assault on the character of God. God can certainly withstand the assault, but can we?

  1. Erosion of sound doctrine is an attack on the Bible as the Word of God.

Here is where we prove how deeply and sincerely we believe the Bible to be the Word of God. Do we believe it is inspired only in the sense of many books like Robert

Browning or the poets are inspired, or do we really believe that it is divine in origin, absolute in authority, and sufficient in its message?

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16,17)

Notice that if the first given reason for the existence of the Bible is heed, “for sound doctrine”, some of the others will follow like reproof and correction will not be needed, and the righteousness and Christian maturity will follow behind sound doctrine.

  1. Erosion of sound doctrine indicate superficiality, instability in the faith, and immaturity.

When a church changes it mind because of the practices of the people or because of the pressures of the world in the American Society, they start fitting into the category of those that are blown back and forth by every wind of doctrine.

“…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive…” (Ephesians 4:14)

You can quickly see what the opposite of this erosion of sound doctrine is, in what precedes 4:14. The very purpose that God sent pastors, teachers, apostles, and evangelists is for the work of the ministry–in which each member has a part–for the building up of the body of Christ, and to promote unity among all Christians.

  1. Erosion of sound doctrine isolate a church from church history, Baptist History, and the heritage of the Southern Baptist Convention; and at the same time it puts us more in the mainstream of American Society where now over 50% of all marriages end in divorce. You just cannot get away from the conclusion that all we trust as commentators, preachers, and statements of faith in church and Baptist history lead us to the sound doctrine of marriage for life and pastors and deacons as the husband of one wife, notwithstanding any teacher or preacher of itchy ears that we might dig up to justify our lives and desires.
  2. Erosion of sound doctrine is an affront to and grieves the Holy Spirit who came to take the place of Jesus on earth, reproving the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Where you can see that affront to the Holy Spirit most obviously is in the matter of righteousness. I am not talking about the legally declared and external righteousness of Jesus with which we are cloaked through justification by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but in the actual outworking of righteousness, or right doing, in our lives that is the natural consequences of the inworking of the Holy Spirit. It is ordinarily called sanctification, the process by which the Holy Spirit increases the actual righteousness in our lives.

2-4: “The Office Should Seek the Man, not the Man the Office.” When Paul wrote that he was not worthy to be an Apostle but by the grace of God that is exactly what he was, he was saying in another way what I read from B. H. Carroll, “The Office should seek the man, not the man the office.” Paul did not seek to be an Apostle. The only thing he was seeking was to do the service of God, and he thought by persecuting Christians he was doing exactly that. Jesus on the road to Damascus struck him down, spoke to him, caused him to temporarily be blind until Ananias came to talk to him; and then let Paul know that he was a chosen vessel to deliver His message.

  1. Paul practiced what he cautioned over Christians on the attitude about yourself in the church, writing for each member not to think more highly of themselves than they should.

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly that he ought to think, but to think soberly, as

God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)

We need to be able to see ourselves in the eternal perspective of God’s truth and timeline. All of this truth and doctrine in the Bible existed long before we were born. We have, by the grace of God, inherited the Word of God from over two thousand years of writing, interpretation, teaching, and preaching. We are inheritors of Church History, Baptist History, and the History of the Southern Baptist Conventions. Primarily, we are Creators and re-creations of God. It is nothing personal, and it should not be taken personal, if doctrine is a tight shoe that we must wear; for it existed long before we were on the face of this earth!

  1. Pride is what can serve to mislead us on doctrine.

What Paul was talking about when he said that he was not worthy to be an apostle was humility and pride: what he was talking about in urging Christians to think soberly of themselves was pride and humility. Pride is the internal enemy that can mislead us to do what we desire or want to do on the matters of doctrine. It is true that we live in a changing world. Each decade now we seem to live in a new world of technology and information explosion. Our friends change, we lose many of them to death. Our environments change; but we must remember that in a world where truly there is a social evolution, God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever more. And there are certain things that God hates or despises: those things do not change. At the head of the list if pride, or a proud look.

(1). “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy; the one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, Him I will not endure.” (Psalm 101:5)

(2). “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12)

(3). “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

(4). “These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness that speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19) Notice how connected the proud look at the beginning with the sowing discord among brethren in the church at the end are and with the matter of the erosion of sound doctrine!

  1. We can easily put ourselves in the category of the religious leaders of the time of Christ who had substituted the commandments of men for the doctrines of God. It was on the very issue of marriage and divorce where Jesus condemned the Pharisees, Sadducees, and their historical traditions of the world of putting the commandments of men in the place of the doctrines of God.

“The Pharisees came and asked Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ testing Him. And He answered and said to them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.’ And in the house His disciples asked HIm again about the same matter. So He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:2-12)

God does the joining; and no matter how we may desire or rationalize or seek other teachers, God intended that there be no separation of what He joined together.

2-5: Creations, Christians, and Christian Leaders.

We naturally expect a progressive of expectations from God as history developed from all humanity to Christians to Christian leadership. You would think normally that the requirements, standards, or expectations from God would become more stringent.

  1. God’s expectations for all Humanity.

As far as we can tell, since before Moses recorded it in the Pentateuch, there were only two requirements that God placed on all humanity, before the recorded of the written law. It was word of mouth or custom and tradition that carried those two requirements forward until Moses wrote the book of Genesis.

(1). Both requirements were given by God so close together that it is almost difficult to tell which was first; however it appears at least the germ of the first great expectation for humanity is given first.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27)

The full explanation of all the implications comes later in the recorded Word.

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

In a few paragraphs we will find that Jesus amplified on this, re-enforced it, laying the requirements once again on the chosen people of God and Christians in particular in spite of the lapse on the requirements by the nation of Israel as Moses for generations allowed a “writ of divorcement”. Surely the standard that Christ and God placed on Christians had to be greater than that on all humanity. However, first and briefly, let us look at the other great expectation that God placed on all humanity, a commission for dominion over all the universe.

(2).  Second Great Commission to all Humanity.

This great expectation follows immediately behind the first. In fact, in the next verse.

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thin that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

  1. Clyde Turner in THESE THINGS WE BELIEVE calls man (man in the generic sense of male and female) the “crown of Creation. Notice that immediately after the first great expectation from God in Genesis 1:17–the joining by God of the man as a male and female–the record states that “God blessed them”. Do you think this is incidental? Don’t you think that somehow the blessings of God on societies of history in their efforts to have dominion over all creation is contingent of how well they live up to the first great expectation. Look at the United States for example: no other country on the face of the earth in inventions and creative efforts has extended humanity’s dominion of the earth as has the United States, and in such a shorter period of time; and surely we must see the connection to the Christian heritage and roots (biblical foundations) where the marriage vows were honored–up until recent history where over 50% of marriages end in divorce–in respect to the great expectation of God.
  2. Jesus in His teachings on earth re-enforced the original expectation of God, and surely we will find for the chosen people of God and for Christians in particular a greater expectation from God about marriage than on all humanity. Indeed as we have read the history of the chosen nation of Israel, often the prophets would warn them against polygamist marriages; and what distinguished the people of God from the heathen (Gentiles) around them was often God’s great expectations for marriage. Moses at one historical point did allow a “writ of divorcement” because the people out of their own desires were bugging him out of a hardness of heart. {NOTE: I would caution you to see that this was probably due to a majority vote or will from the nation of Israel.}

(1).  The Writ of Divorcement Under Moses.

“When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; her former husband, which sent her away, may not taker her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)

How Moses must have travailed before the law was passed to allow for these divorces, and how that the people must have murmured. You can see the “hardness of heart” in the indifference to the feelings of the wife who is flippantly given a piece of paper and passed around the land from one household to another. [1]. Even here in the case of a divorce, God does not recognize the right of the first husband to re-marry the wife he divorced.

[2]. Such an act of re-marriage, like pride and a proud look, is considered an abomination to God. You see, He sees and knows.

[3]. This is not a personal preference: the husbands and wives have an objection to society–”not cause the land to sin”.

(2). Even then the law was not completely insensitive to the needs of a wife, Deuteronomy 24:5. Immediately after the giving of the law of the “writ of divorcement”, consideration was given for a new wife.

“When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one years, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.” (Deuteronomy 24:5)

(3). How Jesus dealt with the original requirements of marriage, and surely we would expect for the chosen people of God during the life of Jesus and for Christians in particular for the expectations to be greater than those originally on all human humanity.

“The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:3-6)

At this time there were two groups of rabbis divided on the issue of divorce, the

Shammais that advocated divorce only in cases of sexual immorality and the Hillels that allowed divorce for any trivial reason (which sounds like the United States now). Once again Kerr writes in GOD’S PATTERN FOR MARRIAGE:

“Jesus had already expressed himself briefly on this matter. We find it in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:31,32: ‘It was said also, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: but I say unto you, that every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery.”

And on fornication and adultery Kerr adequately summarizes the Bible and church history for us.

“Let us note, however, that in the Bible, the word ‘fornication’ is not used in the restricted sense that we use it. (Unlike the dictionary definition of fornication as committed by unmarried couples.) Jesus used the word ‘fornication’ twice, in the passage already quoted, and in Matthew 19:9, ‘And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery.’ Quite evidently Jesus used the word ‘fornication’ in a class sense as referring to all illicit sexual intercourse, including both fornication and adultery as we understand the terms. Such is the general Biblical use of the word. It is for this reason that such modern translators of the Bible as Weymouth, Goodspeed, Moffatt, and those of the Revised Standard Version use such words as ‘unchastity’ or ‘unfaithfulness’ rather than ‘fornication’ in the translation of these verses to which we have referred.”

But Jesus goes back to God’s original and great expectation. God made a man to be male and female; they become one flesh; and the union between husband and wife takes priority over parents. Also Jesus cautions them again that no judge, or law, or society should allow a divorce on a marriage that God has joined together. Is this last part–”what therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder”–a more stringent requirement than what was originally laid down by God at Creation in Genesis. Yes, we can not find no other statement so that we appears to be a higher standard placed on man and societies.

(4).     Now surely you would expect the most stringent requirement of all to be placed on Christian leaders, on pastors and deacons.

[1].  I Timothy 3:2.

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…”

Blameless is certainly a highest of all expectations from God, and comparable is the

“husband of one wife” Here we must consider what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.

[2].  John 4:16-18.

“The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.” (John 4:16-18)

What does this mean plain and simple? It means that Christ and God do not accept any wives or husbands past the original, except in the case of sexual immorality. Does it mean that person can not be a Christian, and receive forgiveness? No, we notice that all the indications is the record of John 4 is that the woman believed, and furthermore she had a good Christian testimony in that many of the Samaritans believed because of what she told them about Jesus. You see it would not matter how we interpreted I Timothy 3:2 above, or mis-interpreted it, or the similar requirement for a deacon, the most strict standard of one wife would still be on Christian leadership. (This is a basic principle of Bible interpretation, to compare scripture with scripture in order to get the full meaning; and this is part of the reason that the Bible states that we will know of the doctrine if we do His will.)

[3]. Titus 1:6.

“If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.”

Once again blameless is right in there with the husband of one wife. Don’t you see the connection that there can be no possible grounds on which a pastor or deacon can be accused as related to any doctrine. In the book THE CHRISTIAN PASTOR, Wayne Oates has a chapter on “The Personal Qualifications of the Pastor” in which he discusses these scriptures. By the way, Wayne Oates was years was Professor of the Psychology of Religion at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, also this book has been used at southern baptist colleges and seminaries to teach pastors and prospective pastors. Wayne Oates thoroughly discusses the three possible interpretations.

“First, polygamy and concubinage were prevalent practices in the communities of which the early churches were a part, and the writers evidently were insisting that their leaders be an example of the Christian principles of monogamic marriage.” “Secondly, this passage may be interpreted less directly to mane that the early Christians preferred a married minister to a single one.” “Thirdly, this passage may be interpreted in the light of another prevalent social problem at the time of the writing: divorce.”

Then Wayne Oates gives us a good and short history of the church on this matter as well as Baptist beliefs.

“The statements of Paul in I Corinthians, chapter 7, reflect that the early churches were very tender and sensitive to the plight of people who became involved in pagan marriage prior to having become Christians.

They most certainly did not consider divorce or even remarriage as an unpardonable sin for which they would break fellowship with an individual Christian. However, the early Christians had a higher standard, and seemingly legalistic attitude about divorced persons, especially those who had remarried, becoming the shepherds of the rest of the ‘flock of God’. By their word, no divorced man who had remarried could hold such a place of responsibility. This seems to be a harsh measure, but the study of the present-day experience of divorced men in the ministry vindicates it as the kindest measure in the long run.” [4]. I Timothy 3:8-13.

“Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be proved; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Wow, those are most stringent requirements on deacons; and you will notice once again the “blameless” and “husband of one wife”.

  1. Since this chapter is on Paul and Doctrine, we must also give Paul another say about marriage.

“For the woman that hath a husband is bound by the law to the husband while he liveth; but if the husband die, she is discharged from the law of the husband. So then if, while the husband liveth, she be joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress, but if the husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is no adulteress though she be joined to another man.” (Romans 7:2,3)

Kerr can be used again to summarize much of what Paul wrote on marriage.

“Marriage was designed of God to be a monogamous, holy institution. In I Corinthians 7:2 Paul writes of each man having ‘his own wife,’ and each woman having ‘her own husband.’ The holiness of the relationship, under God, is likened to that existing between Christ and His Church. (Ephesians

5:31,32) Christian believers are admonished to marry only believers. In I Corinthians 7:39 Paul writes of marrying ‘only in the Lord.’ His admonition in II Corinthians 6:14, ‘Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers,’ surely applies to marriage. Marriage is designed above all else to be a holy relationship.” 2-6. “Believe” in the Letters of Paul Continued.

The numbering of these references below takes up where the believe references in the writings of Paul left off at the end of chapter 1.

  1. Romans 6:8. Here is something we “believe” as disciples. We believe that we shall only live with Christ to the extent that we have also died with Christ. Of course, the died with Christ like in Galatians 2:20 is another way to say repentance or to express the one salvation of the one baptism. {NOTE: Isn’t it amazing that we have so many problems related to these major doctrines of faith, believe, baptism, and salvation when the Bible is so straightforward and repeats itself so often. It is another sign of the contemporary departure of Christians and church members from God, Christ, and the Bible. The Falling Away is not from church, church attendance will no doubt go up as more see end events; however the Falling Away from God, Christ, and the sound doctrine of the Bible will escalate.
  2. Romans 9:33. Wow, what a statement of faith here! “Whoever” believes in Jesus will not be ashamed; God will not allow that individual to be ashamed in His presence and eternally; and this confidence–the opposite of ashamed–is based on the words and Word of God.
  3. Romans 10:4. Sure, today you do not seem but a few Jews who believe in Christ. Paul says they have much religion and zeal, but they need salvation. Further they are ignorant Paul says, ignorant of God’s way of acceptable righteousness through faith in Christ. Everyone who believes receives the righteousness.
  4. Romans 10:9. What is necessary for the salvation of the one baptism, only. To believe in your heart the Gospel story of Jesus, that which requires the most faith is to believe that God raised Him from the dead–this is faith in God and Christ; and two to confess with your mouth that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
  5. Romans 10:11 and Isaiah 28:16. How about that the “whoever believes in Christ shall not be ashamed” is a quote from long ago in the book of Isaiah, noting that faith in Christ has always been the plan of God for the one baptism of salvation.
  6. Romans 10:14. Praying or calling on Jesus for salvation demands “believing” first; and “believing” demands the hearing of the Gospel of Jesus.
  7. Romans 10:16. Very few Jews of Old Testament times believed the reports of the Gospel of Jesus and the Jesus of the Gospel given to them by Prophets like Isaiah.
  1. Romans 13:11. Yes, even more true today than when Paul wrote: our completed salvation of glorification and heaven is much nearer now than when we first believed.
  2. Romans 14:2. There are some fine points of distinction on beliefs like on the eating of certain meats and other religious practices, not on major doctrines.

Feel free for free to download this chapter 2 of volume 3 of the Learn Christ commentaries, “BELIEVE AND BE BAPTIZED, the Life and 14 New Testament Letters of the Apostle Paul.

(1) In Word or other .doc at http://www.biblecombibleman.com/ErosionSoundDoctrine.pdf.docx

(2) in PDF at www.biblecombibleman.com/ErosionSoundDoctrine2.pdf .

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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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4-4a: God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ Demands to be Recognized as the only Real God.

Volume 5:  Message of the Writing Prophets

 

God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ Demands to be Recognized as the only Real God.

 

“I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me. That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:5-6)

4-4:  Isaiah 40-55, A Message of Hope for People in Exile.

  1. Historical events of the world between 605-539 B.C.

While the 40-55 section of Isaiah is not tied to historical events like 1-39, we can easily recognize from the message and messages the God’s people are in exile; and while in history no nation has ever returned from exile, it was predicted in Isaiah and happened in 539 B.C. During this 605-539 period of history world dominance shifted from Nineveh and Assyria to Babylon. In 609 a coalition of Babylon and the Medo-Persians dominated Assyria to become the world power. {Medes were a more north eastern group from Assyria and the Persian more eastern.} This world empire of 605-539 is generally called in history the Neo-Babylonian empire, primary under the leadership of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon made famous in Daniel from the writing on the wall, but partly because of weaker kings which followed him {and the workings of God in history which determines the bounds of all nations, and over which angels are placed} the Persian Empire took over in 539. Jerusalem feel captive to the Babylonian Empire in 586 with a subsequent deportation of princes and other leaders like Daniel to their Empire {a foreign policy that had also been practiced by Assyrian against Israel in order to eliminate continued opposition}, with an earlier deportation in Judah of 598 as told in II Kings 24:8-17. {You will again recall that the Writing Prophets are divided into the two broad categories of first the Assyrian Captivity period and then the Chaldean period, Chaldea being the southern most part of Mesopotamia and where Abraham came from originally, Ur of Chaldea.}

“In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim {the present king of Judah} became his vassal for three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him. And the LORD sent against him {notice that the Bible claims, and if we have the faith of the Bible and in the Bible we must believe it also, that God Himself sent the army of Babylon against God’s people in Judah and Jerusalem because they had long ago ceased to act like God’s people} raiding bands of Chaldeans {up to this point in the Prophets the impending disasters on God’s people have been more so-called natural disasters, but now God sends “raiding bands of Chaldeans”, seeing that there was more than one invasion}bands of Syrians, bands of Moabites, and bands of the people of Ammon {and more than country sent bands}; He sent them against Judah to destroy it {the purpose of God here is clear–to destroy Judah as a nation, and the reason is to follow, but first we must be reminded as stated in Amos that God never does anything without first telling His people through the Prophets, and the Prophets did warn the people of Judah}, according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken by His servants the Prophets. Surely at the commandment of the LORD this came upon Judah {the writer of II Kings under the leadership of the Holy Spirit wants to remind us that this Captivity was commanded by God, the Great Maker of History}, to remove them from His sight because of

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the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the LORD would not pardon.” (II Kings 24:1-4)

  1. A Message of Isaiah 40-55 from God and through the Prophet Isaiah is that far from complete abandonment of His own people, God has chosen them through whom to show His power over the deities of Babylon. God can and will: (1) destroy the idols of Babylon, (2) redeem His people from their sins, always a personal message to individuals and more important than the prosperity of non-captivity, and (3) to bring the people back to their homeland which has never happened in history. God chose the first king of the Persian Empire, Cyrus, through whom to do this in 539 when the Medo-Persians completed the conquest of the Neo-Babylonian Empire that they had been working on for 75 years rebuilding. From the perspective of Cyrus, he adopted a foreign policy of soliciting obedience from dominated subjects by pleasing them, thus as recorded in Ezra 1:1-4 he granted exiles the right to go home and provided money for the rebuilding of their national shrines.
  2. God as in Isaiah 40-55 has always demanded that His people recognize Him as the only real God, and further that His activities through His people should lead the rest of the world to know that there is no other god such as Marduk, Ashur, Bel, and Amon-Re.

“I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, through you have not known Me. That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:5-6)

(1). The same God who created light and darkness, yea all the universe, also rules over human history creating nations and the boundaries of nations.

(2). God controls history by bringing calamities and by subverting calamities.

(3). God brings both natural disasters and the calamities of warfare from other nations. If you do not see this, then the God of your mentality is only half a God of the Bible, therefore not God at all but more like the idols. Of course, this is only in your mind; and like Phillips said years in his book, “Your God is too Small”. What has developed beyond Phillips is that American Society with a Christian and Bible influence has created an American Conscience, where the social and political conscience itself as become a god–summarized as I do what I think is right and what my conscience tells me is right–and based on the American Democratic Faith. This Faith, unlike the faith of Christ and the Bible, (one) adheres to the majority as right, (two) adheres to a toleration that allows intolerance toward the sound doctrine of the Bible, (three) that promotes the peace which the world gives over the peace which Christ gives and which divides society into two groups–tares and wheat, sheep and goats, believers and nonbelievers. You can bet that in the recent

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disasters in this nation of Katrina, tornadoes, and earthquakes as well as other manifestations of “blood, fire, and vapor of smoke” that must come before that great and notable Day of the LORD and Lord, are denied by the American Democratic Faith as calamities from God, even as is 911.

  1. The Message in Isaiah 40-55 is more the redemptive aspect of God’s chastisement of His people. Still God’s people must act like God’s people without false gods, the first of the Ten Commandments exist as always and as from God, not to make graven images even if in the mind, not to worship other gods but to worship the Lord your God with all your heart mind and soul as explained by Jesus and as quoted form the OT, and not to take the name of the LORD your God in vain, a practice that we see increasingly in American even among church members and which is one of the primary signs that we are in the Falling Away of God’s people from God, Christ, and the Bible. It is also an immutable law of God that ruin, or calamity or disaster, follows wickedness as surely as the night follows the day.

The Disciples Study Bible summarizes 40-55 as “God’s Word for His Confused People” with the aspects of (1) God comes to His people when judgment has passed, 40:1-31, (2) God holds His people by the hand, 41:1-29, (3) The light of truth in darkness, 42:1-25, (4) God alone is Savior of His people, 43:1-28, (5) Homemade gods can never save {we would include in that the idols which God’s people tend to make today in their own minds, according to their own desires, and based on the collective American Conscience with the American Democratic Faith for justification}, (6) God may use an unbeliever, 45:1-25 {after God is the creator of all and the ultimate controller of the universe, although He allows certain natural laws like gravity and certain freedoms to Satan without His intervention except when necessary in the answer to pray or guidance}, (7) False gods make life’s load heavier, 46:1-13, (8) Ruin follows wickedness as night follows day, 47:1-15 {this is also an immutability law of God which is based on His character, personality, and holiness}, (8) Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, 48:1-52:15, (9) Healing comes to many through the suffering of One, 53:1-12, (10) God keeps His promises (54:1-17), and (11) God’s finest invitation of Return to Me, 55:1-13.

 

At in time in this series, you are welcome to free download this chapter 4 which is the short form of the Message of the Writing Prophets.

 

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SHORT FORM OF THE MESSAGE OF THE 19 WRITING PROPHETS PART IV:

4-3:  Isaiah 1-39.

Now in 739 to 701 we come to Isaiah 1-39 which is the history and message of Isaiah of his own lifetime, and once again looking for The Message for his generation which is the same message for our generation. First a little history of this 39 years of the lifetime of Isaiah: the period of the rise of the last greatness of Assyria, ended finally in 609 BC by the Mede-Babylonian coalition {recall how commentators like Carroll like to summarize the before and after of the Assyrian period as first the Prophets of the Assyrian Period and then as the Prophets of the Chaldean period, Chaldea being a summary territory of both the Medes and the Babylonians, also of Persia}; the beginning weaknesses of Assyrians rulers gave all their neighbors including Judah and Israel relief from their expansions, the two kingdoms therefore enjoying a period of peace and prosperity not known since King Solomon; Jeroboam {the second King by that name} was King in Israel and Azariah or Uzziah was king in Judah; this long period of peace and prosperity lead the kings and the subjects to think that God was pleased with them; Amos and Hosea had been sent by God to counter the false sense of security; Judah was a little less corrupted by apostasy; apostasy was defined as spiritual and actual prostitution with idolatry, adultery, and oppression of the people; King Menahem of Israel as early as 752 BC had to pay tribute to Assyria (II Kings 15:19-20), and in 731 the Assyrian King {Pul} took possession of Galilee which was north of the Jezreel Valley (II Kings 15:29); Judah called together her court to decide about being pro or anti-Assyrian, but with Ahaz as King in Judah (735 BC), the foreign policy became Pro, prompting an attack the same year from the King of Israel and Damascus which lead Ahaz in turn to seek help from King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria (II Kings 16:7-9); Isaiah launched out in 1:21-23 and 2:12-17 that Judah should be rather pro-God than pro or con Assyria; they according to Isaiah would take all offered and the rest by force (Isaiah 8:5-8); after Tiglathpileser destroyed Damascus, King Ahaz was forced to make a more binding treaty (II Kings 16:10-16 and Isaiah 7:14-16) which demanded recognition of the gods of Assyria, which gave Ahaz and Judah rest for a time but which Isaiah insists they would have had anyway since Tiglathpileser III died in 727; King Hoshea of Israel, a former vassal, made insurrection against the then king of Assyria, Shalmaneser and in 724 BC started a three year siege against Samaria, the horrors of which are described in II Kings 6:24-29, and the forecasts of their disaster by Amos (3:9-11) and Hoses (8:5-6;14:1) came true though approximately 50 years before the actual event; after Shalmaneser died, the king of Assyria was Sargon who experienced revolts all over his kingdom including one to the south in Babylon and especially in Chaldea, the southern part of Mesopotamia, also problems to the north with the Medes; the son of Ahaz in Judah, Hezekiah reigned with a foreign policy that was anti-Assyrian, shifting toward dependence on the weak Egypt {Isaiah denounced this policy also in 29-31 since Egypt was weak}; Hezekiah, according to the Bible was a good king, purging the land of idolatry and the temple of paganized worship, also a revival of the Mosaic law and an aggressive ruler who extended the borders of the kingdom of Judah; Hezekiah attempted to lure some from the northern kingdom of Israel, captive to Assyria; Sargon having achieved dominance over the kingdoms north and south, and as described in Isaiah 14 deemed himself to be “lord of the universe”; Sargon died on the battlefield in 706, being replaced by an also powerful King Sennacherib against whom Hezekiah made an alliance with Philistia, Judah, Edom, and Moab with the coalition attacking the Philistines, also encouraged by Egypt {Isaiah all this politics and scheming as an affront to God, Isaiah 22:5-14; 29:15-16; and 30:1-18}; in the campaigns of the first three years of Sennacherib he defeated Babylon, restored his eastern border, and stood at the gates of Jerusalem in Judah; he attached the frontier fortresses of Judah, later Hezekiah paid him tribute, in spite of which he came against Jerusalem demanding surrender and deportation (Isaiah 36:16-18); Isaiah told Hezekiah of deliverance from God, and a plague destroyed the Assyrian Army on the northern border of Egypt while they sought to pursue the Egyptian army.

And with this brief historical background of Isaiah 1-39, we are ready to pursue the main purpose in this chapter of The Message of Isaiah 1-39. If we select from John Oswalt’s outline on Isaiah 1-29 in the NEW INTERNATIONAL COMMENTARIES, we find most of what applies to The Message in Roman Numeral One, “The Present and Future of God’s People, 1:1-5:30.

(1). Israel has forsaken God and provoked His anger, 1:2-9.

“Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoken to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward.” (Isaiah 1:4)

(2). God Desires Justice, not hypocritical worship, 1:10-20.

“Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear…Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke he oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:15b-17)

(3). The Before and After of Jerusalem, 1:21-23.

“How the faithful city has become a harlot! {Sounds Like Hosea} It was full of justice; righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers. Your silver has become dross, your wine mixed with water. Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; everyone loves bribes, and follows after rewards. They do not defend the fatherless, nor does the cause of the widow come before them.” (Isaiah 1:21-23)

(4). Judgment and Restoration for Jerusalem, 1:24-26.

“Therefore the Lord says, The LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, ‘Ah, I will rid Myself of My adversaries, and take vengeance on My enemies. I will turn My hand against you, and thorougly purge away your dross, and take away all your alloy. 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.” (1:24-26)

We know that while there was a few years of respite in order that the Messiah might live, die, and be resurrected before Israel and Jerusalem were completely cut off with blindness, the theme by and large has passed from earth to eternity, from the old Jerusalem to the new Jerusalem which be lowered from heaven after the Second Coming of Christ. You see this judgment to be on all people of the earth as well as on God’s people, the two being divided by “adversaries” {and you know that to be a term for God’s people who are not acting like God’s people and the “enemies” for the rest of the world}. You also see that in the following verses of 1:27-31 where the “destruction of transgressors and of sinners shall be together, and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed (1:28), also in the “both will burn together, and no one shall quench them (1:31b).

(5). Eternal Honor in the “latter days” for Judah and Jerusalem, 2:1-4.

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains…and all nations shall flow to it….nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:1and 2:4b)

I feel sorry for the disciples of Darby and Scofield who try to read into this another revival for Israel, past the momentary respite with return from Persian Captivity in order for Christ to be born…that is try to read into this another time on earth past now and before eternity, a millennium of peace and the restoration of Jerusalem. Stay in context, how can you miss that time is over when all the above takes place. Herein is the major problem of the fundamentalists and others, taking such Scriptures out of context they read in an Age between the Falling Away and the Second Coming with rapture of believers and judgment of the world with rewards and punishments for the wheat and the tares. It takes far more imagination, running everywhere with a verse of Scripture, picking and choosing from the Bible, than to just admit that this is for the very end of this Age, the time of Eternity.

(6). That you must see this in the context of the end of all time and the beginning of eternity is further carried forth in context with the famous Day of the LORD of the OT which starts in 2:5 and runs through 2:22. First in 2:10 with the call for the house of Jacob as well as the whole earth to get inside the rock and to hide in the dirt in order to get away from the terror of the LORD, from the glory of His majesty. What is going to happen on the Day of the LORD? Well, 2:11 the lofty looks of man caused by pride are going to be humbled; the haughtiness of man is going to be bowed down by the reigning and returning Christ, even by the angels as having gathered men from the four corners of the earth they separate the sheep from the goats and tell them why; and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that Day of the LORD. Is that clear enough for you? Further characteristics, second of the Day of the LORD in 2:12 and following as that Day comes upon all proud and lofty, upon all lifted up which will be brought low, even upon the high trees and high mountains–you see it is on nature as well as humanity, on buildings, on other structures of man, on ships and sloops, on the loftiness of man and their haughtiness; and as all idols are abolished, the LORD alone will be exalted in that Day. Men will run into the caves of the rocks from the terror of the LORD at this Day “when He arises to shake the earth” (2:19 & 2:21b, repeated twice).

(7). Then the Day becomes a closer Day of Judgment in chapter 3 and following, a Day of near Judgment for Judah and Jerusalem as compared to the judgment of eternity and on the whole earth which was previously the province of the Day of the LORD. This is the nature of the Prophets, the Day of the LORD in the OT Prophets has two aspects: a day of more immediate and localized judgment with characteristics of the final Day, and a final Day of Judgment and justice with some characteristics of the more immediate and localized judgment. I like to call it sweeps rather than a duplicity of meaning and predictions. God has the same intentions in each case, to right the wrong and to reward the right. In one case, it is eternal justice at work and in the other case it is immediate and rectifying justice at work.

NOTE:  You may wish to download free the complete chapter 4 of The Writing Prophets, the Prophet’s Message.

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Short Form THE MESSAGE of the Prophets Part III:

 

4-2:  Pre-Isaiah Prophets.

Amos, and Hosea predate Isaiah. Once again if we approximate with Ussher, then Hosea wrote 785 and Amos 787. {Obadiah and Jonah will not be discussed now as they deal with the sins of other than God’s people.} Most of this can be verified by the historical books such as I Kings and the habit of the Prophets of dating their books in reference as to who were the kings. {For Amos in verse 1:1 speaks of writing concerning all of Israel when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam was king of Israel, two years before the great earthquake.} However dates are very secondary to us as compared to the message of the prophets, and what we are after is to briefly find the specifics in each Prophet of the Message of the time for God’s people. Exegesis here is just like good Bible expositor’s will demand of the book of Revelation that primarily the message had to be first of all a message to the people to whom it was written. That The Message will be the same “The Message” for us! And we will turn to the New International Commentaries for help in outlining, which have remained up-to-date and conservative while scholarly, as compared to most commentators like most Bible teachers have gone astray, missing the ASI and carried away with historical criticism; also to the outlines of the Writing Prophets in the DISCIPLES STUDY BIBLE.

amos best

  1. Part of an Outline of Amos on The Message.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, the whole book of Amos deals with THE MESSAGE, primarily the first half which we will quickly look at in the outline of the study Bible mentioned above. It outlines Amos 1:1 through 6:14 as “God confronts the sin of His people.” {First, we should mention that this study Bible finds as the gift of Amos, “God’s Call to Practical Righteousness”, and isn’t that the equivalent of saying that “God’s people are not acting like God’s people”?}

(1). God’s Word is revealed in human words, 1:1-2 and following.

“The LORD roars {you know immediate that God is unhappy with His own people} from Zion, and utters His voice from Jerusalem (1:2)…Thus says the LORD (1:3)…Thus says the LORD (1:6)…Thus says the LORD (1:9)….” and so on through Amos so that you get the idea that Amos like other books of the Bible claim to be the very word of God. Here is the phenomenon of a book of 66 books in the world, a piece of historical evidence, which claims to be the very Word of God; and on which there is no middle ground, since it claims to be the Word of God, you must accept it for what it is or as a fraud of false claims that can not be trusted, and I make this latter statement rhetorically to show the foolhardiness of the alternative argument to accepting the Bible as the Word of God. Just like on Jesus of Nazareth who claimed to be the very Son of God, the claim itself leaves no middle ground between complete acceptance and compete rejection. Unfortunately, most of God’s chosen group people rejected both claims to the Word and to the Son of God.

(2). The specific four sins of God’s people in Judah and Israel are enumerated with a little of their history to justify the impending judgment, 2:4-15.

“For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because {one} they have despised the law of the LORD, {two} and have not kept His commandments. {three} Their lies lead them astray, {four} Lies which their fathers followed. But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.” (Amos 2:4,5)

NOTE:  Browse how Amos predicted, or really God through the Prophet Amos predicted the destruction of Jerusalem 163 years before the actual event, Domesday in 163 years.

Here the impending disaster that God will send on His own people is “fire” on Judah and on Jerusalem. Is this literal fire or destruction represented by fire? I think you can answer that immediately as the literal fire of an earthquake, since Amos according to the introduction and for a reason mentioned the great earthquake that would come in two years. The part that people have trouble accepting today is that God the Father would send an earthquake on His own people, but it is true; and we deserve far more than that, as for example the first total destruction of the earth by God in the flood and the final destruction, which by the way is also by fire. The above is for the southern kingdom of Judah, how about for the northern kingdom of Israel?

“For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, {one} Because they sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals {taking advantage of the poor in the land by the rich is as always in the Prophets and in the US a sin against God}. {Two} They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor {they covet their land and houses}, and pervert the way of the humble {they actually mislead the humble in order to achieve personal gain}. {Three} A man and his father go in to the same girl, to defile My holy name {adultery is always twofold in the Bible, adultery toward God and adultery and fornication toward a fellow human being}. {Four} They lied down by every altar on clothes taken in pledge {the poor borrow against their clothing, and the rich confiscate and enjoy it}, and drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god {a constant habit of God’s people of injustice in the courts while the rich judges and their friends have the gall to drink the very wine of the condemned in the house of God itself–they go to church to celebrate and rejoicing in their prosperity from God when the prosperity has come through injustice and perversion of the poor, and does that remind you of Enron and other executives, all active church members, who fleeced their own poorer employees of their 401K’s in order to line their own pockets?} (Amos 2:6-8)

The impending punishment for God’s people in Israel not acting like God’s people is given in Amos 3:11 as (one) an “adversary shall be all around you”, (two) the adversary will sap all of Israel’s strength, and (three) the palaces will be plundered. This was predicted in 787 B.C. and we know it happened approximately 65 years later in 722 B.C. with the Assyrian Captivity of the northern kingdom. As background for this punishment, a little history of the blessings of God is given in Amos 2:9-12 with the disappointing response of God’s people: (one) God destroyed the mighty Emirates who were in the land of Canaan before them in order to make room for His people; (two) God brought His people before that out of the land of Egypt and led them for 40 years in the wilderness; (three) God raised up in the land some of their sons to be Prophets and some to be Nazirites; (four) but God’s people perversely influence the Nazirites with wine and (five) commanded the Prophets not to speak.

(3). God condemns empty religion, 3:1-15.

Even as Paul condemns a “form of godliness without the power of God” in II Timothy, so also the Prophet Amos, but really God through Amos, condemns a similar “empty religion” in Amos 3:1-15.

“For they do not know to do right, says the LORD, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces.” (Amos 3:10)

It is bad enough for God’s people, today and then, to not do right by fellow citizens and the strangers in the land; but to be so blind as to not “know” how to do right is the greater sin!

(4). God’s love confronts His disobedient people in judgment, 4:1-5:3.

“Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring wine, let us drink!’ The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness: Behold, the days shall come upon you when He will take you away with fishhooks, and your posterity with fishhooks….” (Amos 4:1-2)

“The virgin of Israel has fallen; she will rise no more. She lies forsaken on her land; there is no one to raise her up…The city that goes out by a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which goes out by a hundred shall have ten left of the house of Israel.” (Amos 5:2-3)

(5). Examples of mistreatment of the people by God’s people and yet a ray of hope for a remnant after Captivity, 5:4-27.

“Therefore, because you tread down the poor and take grain taxes from them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink wine from them for I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sin: afflicting the just and taking bribes; diverting the poor from justice at the gate….Seek good and not evil, that you may live….it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.” (Amos 5:11-15)

hosea

  1. Part of an Outline of Hosea on THE MESSAGE.

The part of the study Bible outline pertinent to the message is the outline of Hosea 4:1-9:9 and entitled “unfaithfulness is the basis of God’s controversy with His people” with the 13 divisions of (1) unfaithful people break covenant commitments, (2) unfaithful ministers bring judgment on the people and on themselves, (3) an alien spirit dominates unfaithful people, (4) God chastises His unfaithful people, (5) surface repentance does not satisfy the sovereign God, (6) sharp judgment comes upon fleeting loyalty, (7) loyal love and personal knowledge of God meet His requirements, (8) covenant-breaking hinders restoration of God’s people, (9) making leaders by power politics shuts God out of the process, (10) compromise leads to loss of strength and alienation from God, (11) diplomatic duplicity interferes with God’s redemptive activity, (12) religious perversion ends in apostasy and bondage, and (13) God’s unfaithful people reap more than they sow. Now we only have time and space to look at the subheadings under the outline of (4). Under (4), “God chastises His unfaithful people”, God through Hosea lists (one) God disciplines unfaithful leaders in 5:1,2; (two) God disciplines because He knows His people fully in 5:3; (three) Pride prevents repentance and promotes stumbling in 5:4,5; (four) extravagant giving is no substitute for lapses in living in 5:6-7, and (five) God is the agent of punishment for His people in 5:8-14.

(4). God chastises His unfaithful people, Hosea 5.

One, God disciplines the unfaithful leaders, 5:1,2.

“Hear this, O priests! Take heed, O house of Israel! Give ear, O house of the king! For yours is the judgment…” (Hosea 5:1)

Two, God disciplines because He knows His people, 5:3.

“And Israel is not hidden from Me…Israel is defiled.” (Hosea 5:3)

Three, the people of God has misdirected their deeds and have the wrong spirit, 5:4,5.

“They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the LORD.” (Hosea 5:4)

Four, Extravagant giving is no substitute for lapses in living, 5:6-7.

“With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the LORD, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn Himself from them. They have dealt treacherously with the LORD…” (Hosea 5:6,7)

Five, God is the agent of punishment for His people, 5:8-14. And can you buy that, that God Himself is the mover and maker of disaster for His own people?

“I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue.” (Hosea 5:14b)

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Short Form of the OT Message Part II:

4-1:  Isaiah Summarizes the History of Israel by Witness and Prediction.

Also you will find that Isaiah is easily divided into three parts, Isaiah 1-39 where that Prophet describes Israel and Judah during his short lifetime of only 38 years and from 739 – 701 B.C., Isaiah 40-55 describes the history of Israel {I am using it in the sense of the northern and southern kingdoms} BY PREDICTION from 605 – 539 B.C., and Isaiah 56-66 predicting the events and disasters of the period of from 539 – 400 B.C. The actual Biblical history and spiritual welfare of God’s people of this last period of the OT comes to us in the books of Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi, the three Prophets of which will form part of this chapter outline, immediately after Isaiah 56-66. {Likewise the preceding Writing Prophets–Jonah, Amos, and Hosea as a grouping will precede the Isaiah 1-39 division of 739 -701 like they preceded the life and writings of the Prophet Isaiah; the 40-55 division of the predictive Isaiah of 700 to 604, 605 to 539 will be followed by the chronicles of the history and the messages of the time–Daniel, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah; and so on.}

We now know that Bishop Usher in his dating scheme was a little off, especially on the exact date of the birth of Jesus, however it is still a good approximation. Approximately 1500 B.C. the children of Israel were in and rescued from Egyptian bondage to start their 40 years of wilderness wanderings; approximately 1420 B.C. under the leadership of Joshua God’s people came into the promised land of Canaan; approximately 1095 after years under the judges and priests the people chose their first king, Saul, of the kingship of David from approximately 1048 to 1018 and then Solomon {Solomon reigned 40 years, I Kings 11:42} and then in approximately 975 the divided kingdom with Judah on the south and Israel on the north, so that when in 739 we come to the history of Isaiah, we are still in the divided kingdoms and facing captivities from Assyrian and Babylon.

                  God predicted history through Isaiah.

 

historical timeline with Isaiah

As general mental guidelines, we can summarize the history of God’s group people, the nation of Israel, as truly beginning with the people in the land of Canaan approximately 1420, then (1) 125 years under judges and priests before a king; (2) 120 years under kings and the United Kingdom; (3) a passage of united kingdom history of approximately 236 years before Isaiah started writing the current history of the kingdoms. And for further perspective if you would consider the Pre-Isaiah history of Israel as before 739, starting with into the land of Canaan that would be in the ballpark of 700 years, and post-Isaiah period as another 700 years; so that what you might call the official existence of Israel as a nation and a divided nation is centered around Isaiah. And after in Isaiah 1-39, as presented above, Isaiah records the history in Israel of his own times, then first in 40-55 Isaiah predicts accurately the history for the another 66 years {from 605 – 539} and beyond that to still another 139 years {539 – 400 B.C} bringing up to the end of Malachi and the beginning of the 400 year before Christ intra-biblical period. Of course the ability of the Prophet Isaiah to accurately predict the subsequent history of Israel, with correspondingly accurate predictions on the life and death of the Christ, has caused many, especially those of historical criticism, to doubt Isaiah until a complete copy was found in the Dead Sea scrolls dated far before the life and death of Jesus. However, what we should really say is that God predicted history through Isaiah; for what you find often in Isaiah is “thus saith the LORD”, or words like “God said” or the LORD spoke. We must think of the words of Isaiah on this subject.

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10,11)

{Oh to be among the remnant of God’s people of any time, the sowers who receive seed and the eaters who receive the bread of life, those who beyond living by bread alone live by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God. Those people of God of Israel for the most part were blind, completely cutoff from the knowledge and salvation of God a few years after they cutoff the Messiah. Yet Paul in answer to his own question in Romans of “what profit is it then to be a Jew?” Answers because to them were given the Oracles of God. Israel became custodians of the Word of God, written by a few believing Apostles and Prophets, in spite of the majority opinion which rejected faith in God and Christ.}

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