A Message from Three Angels

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Based on the social media I see, it seems people like to, or want to concentrate on the negative, often bypassing a lot of the good, positive points in scripture. Like theses stories about Hezekiah and Manasseh. Many people jump over Hezekiah, the example of the good king, and jump to Manasseh, because something in that evil king may show them something prophetic about the world today. When people go into Hezekiah, their stories normally center on Assyria’s invasion, or the mistake Hezekiah made when diplomats from Babylon showed up. What about the good things Hezekiah did, and how he was able to achieve them? What about the struggles Hezekiah had to find God, and struggles God endured to reach Hezekiah? We could learn much more by dwelling on those details.

God wants us to go to Him for answers. God is waiting for us to go to Him like any son should be able to go to their father and say, “dad I need you.” God always has time for us. God wants to spend time with us. Everything in scripture points to the fact, God lives to spend time with us. So why don’t we fess up to the fact, the decision is in our hands. We need to decide if we are going to God with our problems, trying to solve them on our own, or like this example, too happy to go to human sources to see if they can offer a solution when we know, their concerns are really centered on this world trying to guess what is going to happen next. Why settle for second best, or the wrong answer when you can get the right answer in a moment, and immediately start on the solution? A major message in scripture teaches the lesson of going to God verses gong to this world for answers. This message is in one of the most popular Christians messages in our generation many people refer to as the three angels message.

And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world–to every nation, tribe, language, and people. “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6-7 NLTse).

Once again, social media tends to concentrate on the outcome of the last message, jumping over the first two messages they claim are in the past, skipping over present time, and trying to jettison onto the future. That mentality results in skipping over the good, positive aspects of this three fold message into the doom and gloom concept this world placed on this series of messages. As with Hezekiah and Manasseh, what do we learn by constantly concentrating on and throwing all our efforts into only the negative aspects? What do we hope to gain by looking at only one side to the total story, examining only a few choice pieces of evidence? We need to look at the whole scene, the entire series of stories. These three, short but concise messages will show us why we need to hone our Bible Study habits.

When we look at the first part of this three part message, we have to understand it in sections to understand the whole message. What is the GOOD NEWS? Is it the Gospels, the New Testament, or a combination of the Old and New Testaments? The fact, that angel is described as, “another angel,” gives us a clue. The first angel followed another, or other angels. This tells the wise student of the Bible, this first message is a continuation of another message. In short, another signal to look back. How far back? This is a small part of the plan of Salvation. Where is God telling you to look back to? The main point is, this first part of the message instructs us to look back in scripture, not forward in earth’s history for answers.

What does it mean to, “proclaim the GOOD NEWS?” Does it mean to deliver, or explain that GOOD NEWS? What does it mean to, “Fear God?” A quick study on fearing God will show, Abraham, Moses, and other people feared God when they first met Him. As that relationship grew, that fear was replaced with a personal relationship with God. Fearing God is the beginning of that relationship. The only way to understand any of those details is to look back at scripture.

Timing is important in every prophecy. Here we are given a specific time. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge.” This prophecy is set at the time in earth’s history when Jesus was preparing to begin the judgment phase of His ministry.

The first message in this series of three messages points to a relationship with God and to a specific time in earth’s history when new information will be made clear. This world was entering a learning phase. The first angel’s message pointed to this world learning scripture in a new light. A new light means, we missed something the first time, or the twenty times we read the Bible. Time to humble ourselves and look back over every detail we’ve studied.

Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen–that great city is fallen–because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.” (Revelation 14:8 NLTse).

This world has too many interpretations to what this message means. Most fail to see how the second message is linked to the first message. If the first message is linked to learning the GOOD NEWS in a whole new light, Babylon, used here as a symbol has to be linked to the old ways the Bible had been interpreted. Once those old ways and the walls they built fall, we are ready to receive that new light and understanding. Since the first message pointed to God as the source of creation, that creation included learning and instructions. The obvious contrast would tell us, Babylon symbolizes any learning method outside God and His Spirit. It should be obvious where that new light comes from.

Any earthly city in scripture forms a link between people and this world. That can include leadership in the city, walls built for protection, and any other physical feature of a city involving protection, socialization, organization, self reliance, and trust in any entity outside of God. Wine represents a mixture. In this case the mixture is placing reliance on the physical world and God. Combining that with the GOOD NEWS, and the new light placed on scripture tells us, Babylon is made up of any and every combination of earthly and Heavenly trust, influence, and information. This message is a call to trust totally on God and no one, or nothing less.

Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand must drink the wine of God’s anger. It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. The smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or night, for they have worshiped the beast and his statue and have accepted the mark of his name.” This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:9-13 NLTse).

Here is another part of scripture with a million different guesses at what it means. I’ve noticed one thing about this message. Most of the time I see people trying to interpret symbols like the beast and his statue using the world as their only source of information and proof. Or they mix a little bit of scripture with a ton of this world. People use news, history books, personal views on public offices, officials, companies, organizations, other religions, and hundreds of other sources, but not a shred of evidence their information came from Heaven.

That mark is another example of this world’s best guesses and that mixture of wine from Babylon. Forehead and hands are used for thinking, writing, and communicating. The problem is where that head gets the information from before the head tells the hand to record and share messages. Why do you think John recorded, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on.” That is the answer to all the questions in those three messages. Where did John get the messages from? Where did those angels come from? All of those point to Heaven, and God the Creator. They never have, and never will point to the wisdom of this world. But where does the world go for answers? This is really ironic. Where does the world go to interpret those messages? To Babylon when God told us to get out of Babylon, get out of this world, and away from their poisonous mixture of knowledge for answers.

As we can see, concentrating on negative aspects leads us to the wrong sources for information. When we only study negative aspects of stories or messages, we tend to stay in this world for answers, never reaching the heights of Heaven to approach God’s throne for the answers. After all, those messages and stories originated in Heaven. God never intended people to slice and dice His Word the way it is studied today. God formed those stories and recorded them in the order we have them in for a reason. God wanted us to learn from Hezekiah before we were ready to see a contrast in Manasseh. God also wanted us to see His promises of new light, and a greater understanding before this world entered a sever period of testing. Without studying the first two messages brought by those angels, Bible students are like school children taking a test without studying the subject, and concentrating on the possible outcome. The same is true whenever we take one story out of scripture without knowing what bearing the previous story has on the subject.

What can we learn when we combine the stories about Hezekiah and Manasseh? God fills the void absentee fathers create on all the levels they create. God has and always will be the Father we need to go to for answers whenever we need them. Why is it so difficult to see that answer?

Isaiah 28:5-22 Precious Cornerstone

Isaiah 28:5-22 NPF Proverbs to MalachiLTse Then at last the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will himself be Israel’s glorious crown. He will be the pride and joy of the remnant of his people. (6) He will give a longing for justice to their judges. He will give great courage to their warriors who stand at the gates. (7) Now, however, Israel is led by drunks who reel with wine and stagger with alcohol. The priests and prophets stagger with alcohol and lose themselves in wine. They reel when they see visions and stagger as they render decisions. (8) Their tables are covered with vomit; filth is everywhere. (9) “Who does the LORD think we are?” they ask. “Why does he speak to us like this? Are we little children, just recently weaned? (10) He tells us everything over and over– one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!” (11) So now God will have to speak to his people through foreign oppressors who speak a strange language! (12) God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.” But they would not listen. (13) So the LORD will spell out his message for them again, one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there, so that they will stumble and fall. They will be injured, trapped, and captured. (14) Therefore, listen to this message from the LORD, you scoffing rulers in Jerusalem. (15) You boast, “We have struck a bargain to cheat death and have made a deal to dodge the grave. The coming destruction can never touch us, for we have built a strong refuge made of lies and deception.” (16) Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken. (17) I will test you with the measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness. Since your refuge is made of lies, a hailstorm will knock it down. Since it is made of deception, a flood will sweep it away. (18) I will cancel the bargain you made to cheat death, and I will overturn your deal to dodge the grave. When the terrible enemy sweeps through, you will be trampled into the ground. (19) Again and again that flood will come, morning after morning, day and night, until you are carried away.” This message will bring terror to your people. (20) The bed you have made is too short to lie on. The blankets are too narrow to cover you. (21) The LORD will come as he did against the Philistines at Mount Perazim and against the Amorites at Gibeon. He will come to do a strange thing; he will come to do an unusual deed: (22) For the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, has plainly said that he is determined to crush the whole land. So scoff no more, or your punishment will be even greater.

When we look at Isaiah 28, we see there is a lot more than a prophecy about a foundation or cornerstone. Isaiah gets right to the point establishing the context as, “the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will himself be Israel’s glorious crown. He will be the pride and joy of the remnant of his people.” everything in this chapter as well as its parallel chapter will fit this context.

Immediately after his introduction, Isaiah added a contrast. “Now, however, Israel is led by drunks who reel with wine and stagger with alcohol. The priests and prophets stagger with alcohol and lose themselves in wine. They reel when they see visions and stagger as they render decisions.” The word however establishes a contrast. We have two sides of a story to look at, Israel’s glorious crown is God while its religious leaders act like drunks. What are aspects of a physical drunk? All their senses are impaired, especially judgment. That’s why Isaiah declared, “God will give a longing for justice to their judges.” Alcohol also gives a false sense of bravery. We see Isaiah explaining that aspect when he describes priests and prophets questioning God, saying they feelPRM Front Cover Book 6 Prov to Isa 32 like they are being treated like children. Alcohol also gives a drunk a false sense of pride. People get drunk to feel good about themselves.

Did you ever see a drunk pulled over for intoxicated driving? The officer administers a field sobriety test. One of those tests is walking a straight line. God was way ahead of them. I will test you with the measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness. Two of the aspects those religious leaders lack is justice and righteousness. Why are they missing those fundamental qualities every religious leader should have?

Isaiah pointed out the answer by repeating it. “Why does he speak to us like this? Are we little children, just recently weaned? He tells us everything over and over– one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there! So the LORD will spell out his message for them again, one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there, so that they will stumble and fall.” It seems those religious leaders couldn’t understand what God was trying to say. Notice the message is written one line at a time. Notice what their view was on God’s Word. They claim it is too simple to understand. If you think of it, this doesn’t appear to make much sense. In God’s view they don’t understand. In the view of those religious leaders it’s God’s fault because He speaks to them like little children. They reel when they see visions and stagger as they render decisions. In this case the physical characteristics of those religious leaders describes their spiritual condition. But remember, symbols always point to something greater. In this case, something far more off balance, rude, and with more misguided pride than a drunk. The only clue we have is their refuge of lies and deception.

Isaiah repeated another term. “Bargain to cheat death and have made a deal to dodge the grave.” Between the repeated terms is the main prophecy pointing to Jesus. “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.” The word cornerstone seems to point to a particular verse in the gospels which is found in three of those books as well as Acts. All of those have one detail in common.

Matthew 21:42-44 NLTse Then Jesus asked them, “Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.’ (43) I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit. (44) Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.”

Mark 12:10-13 NLTse Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. (11) This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.'” (12) The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away. (13) Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested.

Luke 20:17-19 NLTse Jesus looked at them and said, “Then what does this Scripture mean? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ (18) Everyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.” (19) The teachers of religious law and the leading priests wanted to arrest Jesus immediately because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the people’s reaction.

Acts 4:11-13 NLTse For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.‘ (12) There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (13) The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.

Psalms 118:20-24 NLTse These gates lead to the presence of the LORD, and the godly enter there. (21) I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory! (22) The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. (23) This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. (24) This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

As we can see, all four of those texts quoted Psalms 118 which is a little different than Isaiah 28. We can compare similar texts using the same key word to see how one author adds a unique piece of information. This helps us to understand what a symbol represents and gives us a broader view of the lesson. But that is far different than letting the Bible explain the fulfillment of prophecies. Many people look at a text or two that explain an aspect of a symbol before jumping to an unsubstantiated conclusion based on nothing more than a guess. That’s what’s known as circumstantial evidence. Most of it of course is not correct. At best it may be a dim view of a prophecy or a small part of the truth.

Over the past weeks I’ve seen a lot of people taking a fresh look at some of the prophecies in Isaiah and Jeremiah. One person claims they point to the United States. Another person says it points to a European country. Some may say Russia, China, or any number of other countries. The introduction of most of the chapters they are looking at begin by showing the prophecy is related to the world, Babylon, or Jerusalem. The world should be easy to figure out. Based on context, Babylon and Jerusalem may be symbols representing a number of things in relationship to time and context. One of the major mistakes some of those authors do is forget one of the basic patterns God used throughout scripture. Symbols always point to a greater fulfillment. When an introduction to a chapter points to the world, a single country less than the world can never be the fulfillment of that symbol. To understand symbols pointing to the world, we have to first understand the context of the chapter. Then we have to understand who claims to have control of the world. Later in this study we will see how the correct parallel chapter containing the fulfillment adds details explaining the proper interpretation of symbols used in the prophecy. But first we’ll take a closer look at the foundations stone in Isaiah 28.

Foundation H3245יסד yâsad yaw-sad’

A primitive root; to set (literally or figuratively); intensively to found; reflexively to sit down together, that is, settle, consult: – appoint, take counsel, establish, (lay the, lay for a) found (-ation), instruct, lay, ordain, set, X sure.

Stone H68 אבן ‘eben eh’-ben

From the root of H1129 through the meaning, to build; a stone: – + carbuncle, + mason, + plummet, [chalk-, hail-, bead-, sling-] stone (-ny), (divers) weight (-s).

The definition of foundation brings a whole new understanding to the entire prophecy. First the definition of foundation agrees with the theme of the chapter. Secondly it shows a deeper spiritual meaning to the entire chapter. God is not condemning drunken religious leaders, He is offering an invitation to sit down. Of course God is not offering an opportunity to negotiate. God wants to explain details to them. Enough details for them to build on.

Prophecy must be studied and accepted as a whole, not only in particular details you may see. Different parts of the world deal with merchants and taxes in different ways. Some parts of the world are effected by war while others see trials caused by weather. Where you live will effect the way you look at freedom. Some countries have no idea how freedom is viewed in other parts of the world. The threat of loosing a part of that freedom is viewed differently in all parts of the world. When we put all those details together we begin to see why God used different interpretations for the same symbols. Not only locations but time is a factor. Prophecies often see a fulfillment or portion of fulfillment in different times. This is why Paul gave specific worship instructions. Let two or three people prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said. But if someone is prophesying and another person receives a revelation from the Lord, the one who is speaking must stop. In this way, all who prophesy will have a turn to speak, one after the other, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged. Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. (1 Corinthians 14:29-32 NLTse).

This is one point where we see the effects of drunken religious leaders putting trust in someone or something other than God. Paul tells us we’re supposed to cooperate with one another, compare notes so to speak. One person will see one part of a message. Others will see additional details. But that’s not happening today. Too many are preaching as if they have all the truth and no one else knows what their talking about. They talk, talk, like talk, like drunks filled with pride, lies and deceptions, convincing people to put their trust in religious leaders and not directly in God. The invitation (foundation) to sit down and learn is a personal invitation. It was never intended for a chosen few. We see this explained in the parallel chapter containing the fulfillment.

Ephesians 2:17-22 NLTse (17) He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. (18) Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. (19) So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. (20) Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. (21) We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. (22) Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.

This is why finding the right fulfillment is important. See how Paul added details explaining how the prophecy was fulfilled? Jesus is the cornerstone. We are Jesus’ house. Jesus’ apostles and prophets are the foundation. This verse in Ephesians used the word foundation which means a sub base or foundation of a building. Paul is explaining the physical meaning of the symbol used in Isaiah 28. We know the apostles Paul is referring to are the authors of the New Testament and the prophets refer to the Old Testament which tells us to sit down with Jesus and learn from the Bible to fulfill the spiritual meaning of the foundation. Paul also repeats the word Gentiles to stress the fact, messages about God’s Good News is not locked away or given to only one group, which is what some denominations still claim today. Paul also used another spiritual symbol to link his letter to Isaiah 28. “We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.” Notice the lack of mortar? What is mortar? It is a mixture of cement, sand, and water. From a spiritual aspect it seems harmless, but what can sand represent? “And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out, “Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved.” (Romans 9:27 NLTse). Paul shows us sand is often used to represent people and as he reminds us in Romans 9, not all of them are God’s faithful followers. Mortar relates to another mixture, wine which is made from a mixture of grapes, water, sugar, and yeast to produce alcohol. Every time God’s Word is mixed with anything it becomes something else. It is no longer pure. When God’s Word is mixed with human thoughts and ideas it looses its flavor. The tainted message may as well be tossed out.

After comparing the prophecy to the fulfillment, we still have to compare introductions and summations in the two chapters. It’s just not a matter of finding the fulfillment of a prophecy. Our goal is to understand how the prophecy was fulfilled. We can only do that after we review and understand the context found in the introductions. This is a pattern God followed in all the prophecies His prophets recorded, in all those books they wrote. It is a pattern God followed from generation to generation. That consistency is evidence of its Author.

Isaiah 28:1-4 NLTse What sorrow awaits the proud city of Samaria– the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel. It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. It is the pride of a people brought down by wine. (2) For the Lord will send a mighty army against it. Like a mighty hailstorm and a torrential rain, they will burst upon it like a surging flood and smash it to the ground. (3) The proud city of Samaria– the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel– will be trampled beneath its enemies’ feet. (4) It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. Whoever sees it will snatch it up, as an early fig is quickly picked and eaten.

Since Samaria fell before Isaiah wrote this prophecy, he is using Samaria as a symbol. Samaria was Israel’s capital. Israel consisted of ten northern tribes when God separated Judah and Israel into two kingdoms. Israel soon turned to paganism brought in by Jeroboam after he returned from Egypt. Israel fell further and further away from God. With no communication with God and no interest in listening to God’s prophets, Israel was lost. Judah formed an alliance with Assyria who finally conquered Samaria. Isaiah is using Samaria as a symbol to point out how far Jerusalem and the two tribes of Judah separated from God. After Israel and Judah separated, most of the priests from the tribe of Levi left Israel to serve in Jerusalem. You would think a collection of priests leaving one country to escape pagan influences would put in an extra effort to ensure the same thing wouldn’t happen again. But history showed it just took a little more time to repeat those mistakes.

Isaiah added the symbol of a drunkard early in this chapter to compare it to the mistakes Samaria and one of its kings, Ahab made. Like a praise to God, Isaiah reminds us of the gifts Israel received and ignored. Many of the stories about Samaria and Israel tells us how God kept calling them back. But they wouldn’t listen. There is something spiritual about the Levite priests leaving Israel, but that may be a long study. Isaiah repeated terms glorious crown and beauty, also pointing out pride lead to their fall.

Ephesians 2:1-7 NLTse Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. (2) You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil–the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. (3) All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. (4) But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, (5) that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (6) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. (7) So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

Paul begins at the bottom and builds upward. “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.” This looks back at Isaiah’s introduction and offers a solution. “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” Isaiah and other prophets in his time only had symbols pointing to Jesus as the promised Messiah. It was their role as a prophet to turn people to God so He could reveal additional details about the Messiah. God never gave any of those prophets a complete picture of Jesus. God never gave any prophet the responsibility of explaining every detail about Jesus to the king, people, or a church in any way, shape, or form. Isaiah’s role as a prophet was to lead people back to God and let Him fill in the details. Paul followed the same order of a prophet. This time he explains more about the Jesus the Messiah, pointing out how His sacrifice freed us from sin’s condemnation as well as providing the ability to change our nature. What do we get when we compare our relationship with God with the example of Samaria Isaiah gave?

The introduction to these two chapters build a higher level of teaching. Using Samaria as a symbol, Isaiah established a foundation. One thing that makes a good foundation is digging down to bedrock or at the very least, undisturbed soil which has been compacted since the flood. That is where the foundation is set. There is a difference between a foundation stone and a cornerstone. Foundation stones are underground. Cornerstones are the first layer above ground level. Think about that on a spiritual level for a few minutes. Better yet, ask God about it next time you sit at the foot of God’s throne.

Isaiah told us how much God blessed Israel then followed up by reminding us how the blessing faded like a flower. What causes a flower to fade? Age with some. Lack of light and water will wither an entire plant. Once a plant dies at cannot reproduce. Think of it. Should God allow a weed as evil as Samaria to flourish and spread? How many more people could God sit and watch go over to Samaria and her from of worship? Sooner or later something had to be done.

Ephesians 2 starts off with the same spiritual subject, “Once you were dead.” Notice the first word in this chapter – ONCE. Paul begins this chapter with hope and a promise of an opportunity to rebuild. The word once denote a coming change both literally and spiritually. This is another writing process God used and repeated. “ You used to live in sin.” Paul build on the promise of once to the next step in the process – used to. This is a clear indication of a change. Also notice how understanding context brings out related words you didn’t notice at first. “Just like the rest of the world.” Paul lets us know we’re not the only people in the game. The whole world is effected by sin. Paul also tells us the cause of all those problems, the devil. This is the detail most self proclaimed prophets forget – to place blame where it belongs. But think of it. Placing blame on the devil, identifying the devil as the cause of problems, telling the world the devil is planning the next reduction in freedom, writing new laws for higher taxes, causing severe weather, influencing world leaders, instilling greed in industry leaders, and all the other problems those prophecies concentrate on does not sell books. Sermons on the devil don’t pack halls. Telling the truth about the devil doesn’t fill donation plates. Telling people the simple truth strikes fear in the hearts of preachers for one reason – they are afraid when people see how complete God teaches and how easy it is to understand, why would people keep going back to preachers, paying them for answers? Experience has taught self proclaimed prophets they can change answers as often as they like, and people will keep coming back. Their answers can stagger around like a drunkard and people keep coming back for more. Why? Look at Paul’s description of the devil. “He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.” It don’t get any simpler than that.

Did you notice the connection between the glorious crown in Isaiah and rich mercy and love in Ephesians? Another spiritual connection going by unnoticed until the two chapters are compared in context. This is what Paul is building up to. Paul’s main message in Ephesians is as clear as his description of the devil, an quite the contrast. “We are united with Christ Jesus.” This takes us right back to the requirement to share information with one another which testifies to our union with Christ. Isolation, claiming to be a remnant church, bragging your the only one with the right answers, and trying to set yourself above the rest is nothing short of drunken pride which has no place in a union of Christians standing together united with Christ. Pride is not the proper foundation to build upon. Repeating the same message over and over again is not an alternative. We see that message in Isaiah’s summation.

Isaiah 28:23-29 NLTse Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention. (24) Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? (25) Does he not finally plant his seeds– black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat– each in its proper way, and each in its proper place? (26) The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding. (27) A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin; rather, it is beaten with a light stick. A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin; instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail. (28) Grain for bread is easily crushed, so he doesn’t keep on pounding it. He threshes it under the wheels of a cart, but he doesn’t pulverize it. (29) The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher, and he gives the farmer great wisdom.

I love the way Isaiah begins summing up chapter 28. If we used language like that we would have people complaining we offended them. Listen and pay close attention is not what the world wants to hear. The world wants a message they can pick and choose details they want to believe, accept, alter, and reject. The world wants options. The world wants to believe they serve a God who gave them freedom to choose and all God wants is for them to be happy, no matter how it effects other people. Isaiah wants us to see the message in his summary. In his introduction Isaiah used Samaria to show how far people drift away from God. Isaiah told us how religious leaders messed up on pride. At the end Isaiah offers a solution. Isaiah is giving the same message God has been trying to get His followers to understand since Noah began building that boat. We have to finish the job we were given and we have to do it right.

Look at the series in Isaiah:

pay close attention

never sow

finally plant his seeds

each in its proper way

each in its proper place

knows just what to do

God has given him understanding.

never used

never rolled

easily crushed

doesn’t keep on pounding it

doesn’t pulverize it

The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher

We first see a problem with planting. Each seed is in it’s proper place when you know what to do because God gives you understanding. But that’s not always the case. People have their own ideas about how and when to plant spiritual seeds. That’s why God is trying to meet us with an understanding.

A farmer plowing, planting seed, and harvesting all deal with building. Isaiah reminds us God gave the farmer knowledge of how and when to plant, how and when to harvest. Farmers gain knowledge through God’s creation. They gain understanding through prayer. Otherwise they place themselves at the mercy of trial and error. A position where pride creeps in to take control. Isaiah is also using symbolism to draw our attention to the harvest, a subject Paul covered in Ephesians. “He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near.” The Good News Jesus brought is meant to prepare people for the harvest of this world.

The question many people can’t answer is, what is the Good News? The New Testament identified the Good New as the life and ministry of Jesus. The KJV used similar words such as preached, gospel, declared, witnessed, righteousness revealed, and peace. For the most part the KJV used the word gospel where other translations used Good News. This may be why most people will say the Good News is the gospel. But most times they answer without giving it much thought to what the gospel is. The gospel is a collection of records about Jesus’ life and ministry. In essence the gospels are a record of the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. For some reason each of the gospel writers recorded their message with the emotions and insight they had when events were unfolding. None of the gospels writers wrote in a manner to make us think they understood what was happening as prophecies unfolded before their eyes. Each of the gospel writers wanted us to see how little they understood, how slow the learned, so we could see and feel the impact the cross had on them. There is a very important reason this lesson is recorded four times. To show the world how little people will understand before Jesus returns. People don’t understand, “all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”

Isaiah witnessed wars. In every war innocent families pray for their children. All parents want is to be left alone, invading armies to leave, taxes to end, and to work as hard as they can to make a better life for their children. That’s what God wants for us. The difference is, God can fulfill all His promises. I am seeing some people with a new understanding of the prophecies in Isaiah, Jeremiah, a little bit in Ezra, and one or two of the other books written between Jerusalem’s fall and the temple being rebuilt. That was one of the largest learning times for God’s people. Sad to see they understood less than Jesus’ disciples. Misconceptions, misunderstanding, a belief nothing bad was going to happen, and lack of communication with God were consistent between the two periods, and is alive and well today. On the spiritual side, nothing has changed. People still take God for granted. People still prefer to place common people between themselves and God. People still don’t understand Jesus’ ministry, and appreciate His sacrifice less. I can’t understand how people can be fed scraps of bread then act like their satisfied. I hear people say how enlightened they feel after listing to a preacher go over nothing more than a few basics in the Bible. If people are amazed with the obvious, how would they react if they approached God to listen to the amazing truths He has to share? How fast do you plan on seeing the Good News spread if left up to one preacher addressing a hundred or so people? How far has that been spreading out? How well has that plan been working? Where did that plan come from? It’s not in the Bible. Playing church these days is another example of Sarai talking Abraham into rushing the plan of salvation or Rebekah thinking Isaac’s blessing was more important than God’s Word.

Those wars Isaiah saw were only the tip of the ice berg in Satan’s relentless battle against this world. He’ll do anything to slow down God’s plan of salvation or stop it. Satan knows he can’t stop God’s plan, but there is a lot he can do to mislead people. Many times people thought they were serving God to the best of their ability when in fact they were working for the enemy. That’s not something that’s gong to stop in our time. That’s why it’s so important to study the prophets as a whole. Look at all the books written between Jerusalem’s fall and the rebuilding of the temple. You’ll see much more when you put all the details together and you’ll see much more than you’ll ever hear in a church of on a video when you get your information directly from God’s throne. You’ll be able to see how prophets received their information and how they delivered messages. You’ll see explicit steps God used and appreciate His consistency. You’ll see how one prophet supports another. You’ll begin to understand what messages were given to who and why. Once you spend time with God’s Spirit putting the events in proper sequence, you’ll start seeing similar sequences happening today. Hopefully you’ll understand where we are in earth’s history and begin spreading the Good News the way it’s supposed to be shared. The Good News is a one on one experience. You learn details from Jesus on a level you never imagined through a one on one experience with Him. You’ll share the gifts you’ve been given on a one on one experience. God’s plan has never been for one person standing at a pulpit preaching to hundreds. God’s plan has always been for thousands to reach thousands more, pointing them to God so they will reach thousands more.