I woke up at 3am today and the Lord lead to me to read a few passages, all of which are about warnings on upcoming destruction and also a way of escape.
In Isaiah 28, the first few verses are all about warnings while the last few verses about a way of escape.
Let me start with the way of escape.
excerpts from Ray Steadman’s sermon from pbc.org)
Isaiah 28: 9-10
This verse sets forth the way to avoid being trapped by the seductive lure of the good life. Study your Bible! Read what God says. Look at life as he sees it. See through the allurement of the television commercials! Remember the words of Paul in Romans 12: “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed …” (Rom 12:2a KJV). Let your thinking be changed. Let the word of truth transform your view of life so that you see life as it really is. That is the way of deliverance.
Our Lord Jesus put it very beautifully in one verse in the Sermon on the Mount: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and [then] all these things will be added unto you,” (Matt 6:33 KJV). Many Christians have reversed that, giving themselves continually to efforts to get ahead, forgetting that they are to put first the things of God. Forget about status symbols and accumulation of wealth. Seek godliness first — concern yourself with being a righteous man or woman right where you are. The promise is that then God can trust you with the things of wealth.
In the US (and even in Singapore- though not as widescale as in the US), there is a sudden obsession on doomsday prepping. What really surprises me the most is that people seems to believe “doomsday” as it is described in the Bible, but never really heeded God’s warnings to those who disobey him and God’s promises to those who are faithful.
There are also those who try to look for signs through the Pyramids of Giza. People asking why God allows shooting in US Schools, the typhoons and diaspora in the Phillipines and the gendercide in India. In developed countries like Singapore people complain and murmur about social concerns such as losing their jobs due to immigrants. We all are trying to seek for answers at the wrong places and putting our trust on men or self instead of seeking God for help and guidance.
One only have to read the book of Isaiah, or the Old Testament, to see how the lives of Israelites parallels our lives today. The Lord also did not leave us without any warning for this time of great judgement (although no one can predict when it is happening – not even the makers of the pyramids of Giza)
Beginning with Chapter 28 the prophet introduces a series of six “woes.” These are like stop signs, warning of some danger that lies ahead.
However, in this entry I will just write my thoughts about the first of the six woes.
The word “woe” does not necessarily mean “You’re going to get it.” It really means “Beware, watch out; you are about to be drawn into a black hole of destruction.”
Most of us hate it when one warns us or asks us to watch out, its as if we are telling them a self-fulfilling prophecy. But I am always firm about my belief, that if you see a friend crossing a busy highway and is about to be hit by a speeding 10-wheeler truck, you will shout on top of your lungs right? However, most often the danger is not the so obvious, e.g. you are strolling by the beach, and you know that in that beach there are lots of “quicksand”, you will just say a very calm, warning, such as “beware, watch out, you are about to be drawn into a quicksand.”
Back to Isaiah and Ray Steadman’s interpretation:
While these “woes” focus primarily upon Judah and Jerusalem (picturing the time of trouble that awaits Israel before her hour of deliverance comes) let us also remember that the Apostle Paul tells us that all these things that happened to Israel are “written down for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come,” (1 Cor 10:11b RSV). What is literal and physical to Israel is a picture of the spiritual peril we face in our own lives. If we are not careful we too may be drawn into a time of terrible destruction. (I do not have time to develop the literal application to Israel, so I will focus solely on the spiritual application to our own lives.)
Most of us too seemed to feel that the problems we are facing now is unique, and sometimes we even think that no one understands. But the Bible was written for us as a book of instructions
The first woe:
– Described in Isaiah 28:1-3 and 28:7-8
Israel according to Ray Steadmen of pbc.org
At first glance these terrible words seem to describe the danger of alcoholism, picturing the ultimate fate into which one who has given himself to strong drink can be drawn. This is in line with many other Scriptures which warn about intoxication, drug abuse, or anything that takes over the body and the mind. But this is figurative language, primarily. This “woe” is pronounced on Samaria, the chief city of the tribe of Ephraim, and the capital of northern Israel, which stood like a crown, on a hill above fertile valleys. It is a picture of the moral condition of the inhabitants of Samaria. History tells us that these people were given over to the love of fleshly pleasures; they lived for luxury.
Our lives today according to Ray Steadman
This, then, is a warning against loving the good life so much that it becomes the chief aim of life. Such a lifestyle produces a paralysis of the spirit. People become dull and apathetic. They stagger about like drunken men, finally giving themselves over to shameful filth and debauchery. This is a description, then, of uncontrolled self-pleasing — the “self-actualization” we hear so much of today. The New Testament warns of times when “men shall be lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God,” (2 Tim 3:4 RSV). This is what Isaiah is warning about. He raises a “Danger Ahead” sign. Woe to those who go this route.
I have noticed that in some extent humanity tried their best to let go of certain desires.. like during the Hippie movement, a lot of people shunned civilization and tried to live as simple as possible, but did not realize that in so doing, they left a black hole in their spiritual lives, without the physical clutches, their spirits longed for something higher, instead of turning to God, they turned to drugs. Then came the Yuppies, realizing the folly of their parents and the generation behind them, decided to “have it all”, turning their backs behind Drugs, but used their careers as another form of intoxication and turned large corporations and the Warren Buffets of this world as demi-gods. Even in church there are both extremes, the Amish and the Prosperity Gospel preaching Churches. Both I guess have missed the point.
When God, warns us, He does not leave us without a way of escape READ
Isaiah 28: 9-10
“Whom will he [God] teach knowledge,
and to whom will he explain the message?
Those who are weaned from the milk,
those taken from the breast?
For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
line upon line, line upon line,
here a little, there a little.” (Isa 28:9-10 RSV)
Note again the word picture about weaning from milk and the mother’s breast (this means spiritual maturity). Precept upon precept this is God’s words, something we have to read and meditate on line by line so we do not have to repeat the mistakes of our forefathers (filling the gaps in their lives with either drugs or the rat race). Line upon line.. here a little, there a little.
Thank you, Lord, for these wonderful words of reassurance, that you know and understand life to the full and You tell us what it is like if we will but listen. Remove the blindness from our eyes. Open our hearts to the great riches that are waiting for us in fellowship with our living, loving Lord. Help us to pursue these, to become obedient to truth, to be searchers after the revelation that you have given that we may be effective and powerful in our witness in the world in which we live today. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.