I love the New Living Translation footnote on these verses. “God is just as thorough in his mercy as he is severe in his judgment. God‘s moral perfection leads to judgment and at the same time revealed in his love for all he has created.“ Like spring follows winter so his mercy follows judgment. A land laid waste by God will be turned to a land of refreshing.
All creation groans under sin (Rom 8:22). But God will return his creation to its once glorious beauty. The desert will rejoice, flowers will bloom and lavish meadows will sing with joyful praise (Luke 19:40). God will display his splendor and glory in all creation (Col 4:16). Father, this old sentry looks forward to seeing your splendor and glory.
I may take stock here, that the land of Edom WILL fall, be decimated by the Lord of Heaven‘s Armies. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau (Jacob’s twin brother – a son of Abraham). The Edomites were bitter enemies of Israel (Jacob).
Edom is a symbol of all who oppose God; stand against God. Their judgment will be severe and without end (v10). If you stand against God there will be no place to run, no place to hide. In the day of your judgment you will know only disaster and decimation. Lord, may I remain centered on you, live always for you.
God is not a compliant enabling father. He knows just when and how to discipline. He knows the limits of our ability to withstand testing and trials (1Co 10:13). Discipline is always an option (Heb 12:10,11). It is clear that God is always prepared to discipline his people to purge them from sin (though not every trial is for sin-Jas 1:12; 2Co 12:17; Rom 5:3–6).
In the end, like a loving father, God will come to his own and comfort them. You can count on that. The end result of God‘s discipline is to return to him, to love and worship him. Lord I have known your loving discipline and your comforting embrace. I look to you for the correction and reproof that I need.
Is there such a thing as an unforgivable sin? Yes, there is. This is it, pure and simple. When God calls a people to weep and mourn, to be ashamed and sorry for, remorseful of, sin (to repent) and instead that people just “PARTY ON!” ignoring, even scorning, God’s plea; that is the sin for which there is no forgiveness. How can there be?
The ultimate and unforgivable sin is the sin of rejecting God‘s love and mercy. Oh that I may never run aground of sin and unrepentance.
Jerusalem (people of God), is located between two mountain ranges. These mountains symbolize the presence and protection of God. It is in this valley that God speaks to the prophet and reveals his vision of things to come.
The vision given Isaiah is not a pleasant one. Jerusalem has rejected the God who has enabled her strength. While they revel, their foundation crumbles. Jesus himself will later lament the rejection of Jerusalem for her Redeemer (Mat 25:36, 37).
Isaiah is left to mourn over the vision of the fall of his people. It is heartbreaking to see a people reject the one who has so blessed there existence. It causes me to weep for America, as she thumbs her nose at God, rejects his love. Oh Lord, stir the heart of this nation (my heart), that she (I myself) would listen and turn again to you.
Be alarmed and turn your wayward heart back to God (Isa 28:18-22). #TurnToGod #RepentTowardGod #ForeWarnedIsForeArmed
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
It ought to cause the people of God to shudder, to hear and to know that God is willing to trample his own when they continue headlong into sin and the rejection of his word. Instead they think they have outsmarted the coming judgment. But God will strike out, cancel, the deal his people have made with pagan forces to avoid judgment. The bed his people have made to lay in securely is wholly inadequate. The bed blankets are too narrow to cover them.
Just as God defeated the Philistines (Jos 10) and the Amorites (2Sa 5), so he will deliver a defeating, crushing blow to his own people. God’s people ought to be jolted into a repentance and surrender to Jehovah God. But they are not and time has run out. Oh Lord, awaken your people (awaken me) to the disaster ahead if we continue to trust in our own schemes and ingenuity. Bring this old sentry’s heart into alignment with your will and purpose.
Father, would you bring the heart of America into alignment with your will. Would you send revival into the church of America. May your people be alarmed and jolted at the high stakes at risk when there is no humble repentance toward God. I pray your Spirit to awaken the sleepy heart of America from her long slumber. May we we see a sweeping renewal of hearts toward God.
Whatever the judgments of God on a people, there will always be a remnant. They often go unseen and unnoticed during times of spiritual squalor. While kings and priests and prophets and judges are lost in their filthy lifestyles, reel and stagger in their vision of self aggrandizement and judgments, the remnant of God stand watch.
While the nation falters, God’s remnant goes to battle in prayer and righteous living. The Lord is their pride and joy. He is their justice and their mighty courage. They are to God a “highway of holiness” a flowing “stream in the desert.” For God’s remnant, sorrow shall forever flee (Isa 35:1–10). Oh Lord, you give this old sentry hope in the worst of times.
Isaiah laments the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. The pride of her capital Samaria has shaken off the reins of a loving but holy God. Now she faces only sorrow and heartache. Her end will come at the hands of a mighty army. It will come suddenly as a “mighty hail storm and torrential rain.“ It will “burst upon [them] like a surging flood and smash it to the ground.“ It will be “trampled under the enemies’ feet.”
Let the southern kingdom of Judah be warned. Because of Israel’s pride, her once great beauty will fade into oblivion. She has arrogantly shaken her fist in the face of God. She unwittingly brings God’s wrath upon her. Lord, how sin does pervert the human heart. How the sin of pride dismantles good sense. Lord, may my oft wayward heart find its way quickly back to you.
When a nation flaunts its sin, judgement is not far behind. May the wayward heart of America, my beloved country, humble itself, repent and turn quickly back to God.
When pagan, godless Assyrian settlers took over the land of God (Israel) they dishonored him by worshipping other gods. God sent a judgment of wild animals on them. It was recognized as such. When the Assyrian king heard about it, he sent one of the captive priests of God back to Israel to teach the new settlers how to worship the God of the land, Israel.
This would not qualify as full on repentance to God. But it does qualify as a step toward God. It shows that the temporal, remedial judgments of God can get the attention of even a pagan King. But, unlike the nation of Israel, he sought to find peace with God. Reconciliation with God is at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus (Rom 5:1,2). Father, give me a heart to know that any temporal, remedial judgment in my life is your loving call, you talking to me, to repent.
Day 33 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, I pray that the seed of the Gospel take deep root in the hearts of my family and friends.
When the gospel seed is sown, spread, broadcast, it will fall where it will. Some will not get it (vv18,19). Some will join, then lose interest (vv20,21). Some will be too busy, too involved, to stay connected (v22). Some however, will truly receive the gospel message with much enthusiasm – they will go on to produce much good fruit (v23).
Those who truly receive the gospel seed, live by its message, will continue to grow and be energized by it. They will, through the years, influence many others for Christ. Lord, may the seed of the gospel continue to take root in my heart and produce good fruit.
Father in Heaven, America is in great need of the Gospel seed to take deep root. She is in deep need of embracing the message of the Gospel. I pray she not reject, ignore or overlook your message of grace and forgiveness. May she let that Gospel seed go deep into rich fertile soil. May she yield in repentance. May that seed then sprout forth in a bountiful harvest of good fruit.
Day 26 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, enable my family and friends to encourage the heart of God by being a blessing and not a burden to others.
The way to grieve the heart of God is to be a bitter, angry, harsh, slanderous and malicious person. Particularly since we know that the Lord Jesus has made his followers one with him. These attitudes and actions should never be counted among those who follow Christ.
Instead, Christ followers should show kindness, compassion and forgiveness, times without number, toward others. They do this out of a heart of gratitude to God for how he has loved and forgiven them for their bad attitudes, words and actions. Lord, my debt to you is repaid in part when I am kind and loving toward others.
Day 23 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, may my family and friends be quick to seek God in repentance.
In Psalm 51 we find king David’s prayer of repentance for his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11&12). No one, not even the greatest among us, is immune from sin. There are times without number that I have myself failed in so many ways. Yet God, in his grace and mercy, saw and heard in me a contrite, broken heart and he forgave me (v17).
It is no stretch to think that I may ask God to create (do something new) in my heart and renew in me a spirit of joy and faithfulness toward God. Jesus said in John 6:37 that all who come to him will never be rejected. Lord, you have never once denied this sentry the renewal, the refreshing, I have needed to remain loyal to you.
“I woke up super anxious for the state of our country. Fear of the future. Sad for the brokenness, the hate and sin. I was reminded of Proverbs 21:1: [The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice] I believe it is true. I ask what my roll is. I have peace that it hasn’t changed, to tell people about Jesus, to make disciples. I think about MLK. He stood up against the sin of racism. There are many sins our country celebrates.
But we are to be set apart. It can be very confusing, but very simple at the same time. [I am] resting in knowing that the Gospel is the only solution for any this. [I am] selfishly celebrating that this is not the end, only a stopping place till I get to my eternal home one day.”
I wrote him back:
“Your words are taken as words of the Spirit. I find that God often speaks to me in such ways. Then he reminds me that such things are are given me by him that I may pray and not lose heart.
I take great comfort in knowing that God is at work in and through all the affairs of men.
Some like to say, “God is in control.” Truth is, the men of this age are in control. BUT GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL. No matter what man does, God uses it to accomplish his purposes. That’s what Jesus said to Pilate, as he claimed to have power to deliver Jesus’ life. [Jesus said, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin” (Jhn 19:11)].
I also pray that God would intervene in the affairs of men. I pray that God would sweep across this land like a great prairie fire, ablaze with revival and spiritual awakening.
Psalm 121:1-8 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”
This sentry takes great comfort in knowing that God is at work in and through all the affairs of men.
Day 11 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, may my family and friends trust always the truthfulness of God’s Word.
The one place I can turn to every day for truth is God‘s word. I never have to question if what I am reading is truth or error (2Ti 3:16). As a follower of Jesus I may turn to this book, God‘s word, on any given day, at any time and find truth. [The truth about me; the truth about the world; the truth about men; the truth about God]
Why is this book so trusted? Because it reveals the Word of God, Jesus, the son of God. He himself is the truth sent from God (Jhn 14:6). When the times and epochs are uncertain, when men distort the truth, God’s word, in Jesus, will always point me to the way in which I should go. Lord, for me to abide in Christ is to abide in truth.
We need a revival of truth in America today. We need a revival of men who abide in the truth, believe in the truth and live by the truth of God.
What does it mean to come to the end of self? Isaiah answers by pointing Israel (pointing me) to symbols of failed earthly treasures. Treaties for security with powerful earthly kings turn to bitter disappointment. Lebanon, known for its stately cedar trees, wither and die. Sharon, known for its very fertile land, become a barren wilderness. Bashan, known for its abundance of grain and cattle, is plundered. Carmel, known for its thick forests, is utterly defoliated. Earthly resources collapsed around them.
When every earthly ally fails; every earthly resource withers, becomes barron and plundered; everything once thought to be mine by entitlement, deserved or taken for granted, is stripped away, I have come to the end of self. Now I am ready to listen and receive from God.
TESTIMONY: Oh, the battle scars of this aging sentry. They run deep and they run long. But they are every day reminders to me of the grace and the mercy of God in my life. It makes me tremble and weep. But the scars prove the worth of that final death blow to self, to the man I used to be. The scars embedded deeply in my conscience give evidence of battles won by my high and glorious Commander, The Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I must come before you today Lord, in humble repentance for trusting in anything other than you.
Russ Taff beautifully depicts this death to self (pictured in believers baptism) by this song Water Grave.
God will be merciful at the end of the discipline of his people for their rejection of him (vv2-6). But for now, they will weep and mourn. They must, and will have to, come to the end of themselves. They, as we, must realize that we have no righteousness, no goodness in and of ourselves.
It is of paramount importance that God’s people depend upon and trust in God alone who saves to the uttermost. Again we say with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him (Job 13:15). Lord, the end of myself is the beginning of my new life. This old sentry must die daily to the old self that he may be resurrected a new man in Christ. The man I used to be has finally died. Baptism is a picture of this.
*Russ Taff beautifully depicts baptism as symbolic death to self in the song, Water Grave.
It would be depressing if the words of Isaiah were ordered by an angry dispassionate God. But they are revealed by a God of love and compassion who is not willing that any should perish (2Pe 3:9). A day will come when God’s Spirit will be poured out on all men. Indeed his Spirit has already come and indwells every believer.
There will also come a day, at the end of time, when God’s Spirit will be poured out like never before (Joel 2:28f). The promises to Judah to restore justice and righteousness to the land, peace, quietness and confidence to the people of God, is also a promise for the coming kingdom of God. Lord, I stand in the promise of an outpouring of your Spirit on all men like never before.
The nation of Judah was facing a crisis (Assyrian conquest). For her sin of rejecting God she stood at the threshold of destruction. The prophet Isaiah clearly identifies the character of men and women who disdain and reject God (vv5-7). America needs to wake up, for her bulwark reveals similar vulnerabilities.
This is America’s National Disgrace. It is clear to the discerning eye. From Isaiah 32:5-7: Those who are ungodly and foolish are seen as heroes. Dishonorable men are exalted and respected. Fierce zealots make plans to further their own ends. They practice ungodliness; ridicule and marginalize those who trust in God. They make plans for their own self interests but they deprive the disenfranchised of basic needs in life. Smooth talkers appear honest/earnest, but mix sense with non-sense, scheming to mislead. They lie to convict the powerless, even when their is just cause. Can we see any of this in America today?
THERE IS HOPE AHEAD!
Isaiah speaks of a Redeemer who will come. Judah had suffered under unjust rulers and leaders, but “A righteous king is on the way. Honest princes will prevail under him.” Although Judah would be destroyed and taken into captivity, still there were many who act according to “generosity” (v8). They were hungry for a righteous ruler. That ruler, that “righteous king” would be Jesus Christ, who has already come and he will come again to rule.
WHAT WILL THE HOPE OF THIS RIGHTEOUS KING LOOK LIKE?
The coming Christ will provide, “Shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm.” His rule will be “like streams of water in the desert or the shadow of a great rock in a parched land.” In Christ’s rule “everyone who has eyes will be able to see the truth and everyone who has ears will be able to hear it. Even the hotheads will be full of sense and understanding. Those who stammer will speak out plainly” (vv1-4).
Lord, it excites the heart of this aged sentry to know the assurance of my once come, and coming again, righteous king. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Today would be as good a day as any to pray for a national repentance in America. That she would once again celebrate the Christ-child; the Savior of the world.
Lord, would you give the leaders of America a humble heart of repentance. I pray that they would no longer compare themselves to each other but see themselves in the light of a holy God.
Lord, would you begin the work of repentance and healing within the one square foot in which I stand this morning. Do a work of repentance and healing in my household. Do a work of repentance and healing in and among my neighbors, whom I know very well.
I pray for the leaders, the pastors and ministers in my city. I pray for those officials who carry out the will of the state in my county. I pray for the leaders of my state and the leaders of my nation.
From my house to the White House, Lord, may we have a humble heart of repentance. May you once again receive the honor and majesty due you in America.
Lord, this is a prayer from the heart of the sentry standing watch today. I join the sentinel call to prayer.
Because of God’s devotion to his people, Isaiah calls again for Judah to repent, return to God; renounce all idolatrous behavior. Even greater reason to turn back to God is his promise to annihilate Assyria by the sword of God (note 37:36).
God is devoted to his rebellious people and he promises to not only defend his people, but to lay waste their enemies. God’s assurance of love and protection should alter the behavior of his people toward him. Lord, you have captured and delivered my heart. I am yours.
Repentance in America begins with the person in the mirror.
Even in the midst of suffering God is not far from his sinful rebellious child. He stands by to teach us, to instruct us by his voice. When once we have surrendered to him it will be clear the way in which we are to go (vv19-21).
The way which we choose will reject all other gods. We will be happy to destroy the idols in our lives and put Jehovah God at the center. In response God will heal his people and cure them from the wounds he gave them. If this sentry is to know daily renewal then certainly he must daily surrender afresh to God.
If my beloved country is to know renewal and spiritual awakening then she must turn in repentance to the God of her fathers.
It is nothing short of naïve for the prodigal to think he/she can stand against the furious love of God. In verse 11, prodigal Judah says to God, “Butt out of my life.“ God says, “Thanks, I’ll take that challenge.“ Collapse will soon follow (12–14). The only way out is to turn back to God.
If you think you can out run God you do not understand his swiftness. He will batter your prideful self-will and make of you a tattered banner on a lonely hill. Then he will wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. God loves you. He will wait. Turn while there is yet time.
Lord, many years ago, this aged sentry was that tattered banner on a lonely hill. Ironically, I was on sentinel duty in a guard tower high above the Saigon River in Vietnam (Dec 28, 1968). It was in the early morning watch, in that guard tower, that my prodigal heart was turned to you. I haven’t heard from that wayward heart since. You are faithful.
The prophet points to a new generation who would rise up strong, with no fear or shame. They would recognize the holiness and blessings of Jehovah God, stand in awe of God. This new generation would pursue understanding and instruction from God.
Was Isaiah also pointing beyond his day to a church triumphant, the many [spiritual] children birthed by Abraham (Gen 12:1-3)? The church stands in the tradition of walking with God through all kinds of tribulation. She will stand today in the face of many trials. She will stand going into a future kingdom with God. The world will never be without a generation of those who serve God. Lord, raise up the next generation of sentries who will honor you and stand with you.
When once the wayward, rebellious, child of God surrenders, his/her whimpers of repentance are heard from on high (v4). Then, like the father greeting the prodigal home from the far country of sin, God is first on the scene to help. This is the message of the prophets.
The enemies, the attackers, God had used to discipline his child will be crushed. Their course of pain and suffering will come to a sudden end. They will be driven away by heaven’s armies. They will “vanish like a vision in the night.“ It is God‘s greatest delight to vanquish the enemy of the child of God. Thank you Lord, for hearing in the night this sentry’s prayer of surrender so many years ago.
FOR AMERICA: Lord, I pray that my beloved nation may surrender her heart fully to you. May she know the fires of revival & spiritual awakening from sea to shining sea. May the power of heaven’s armies be used to deliver her from the enemies that would seek to destroy her.
While God is a God of love and long-suffering, he is at the same time a “no-fool-around“ God. He is a loving God who is jealous for his people. He will do whatever it takes to bring his people back into a loving relationship with him.
God will become your fiercest adversary if necessary, to call you back to himself. Disaster may come your way. Pain and suffering may come your way. There will be no rest, only distress and unease. There will be no voice to console or guide. Take it from one who has been down that road. Lord, keep the dutiful sentry in a thriving, never fading, love relationship with you.
The day will come when the terrible swift sword of the Lord will fell the horrible evil monster of sin. Every abuse and rebellion known to man will be struck down. The wicked will know the swift and certain justice of God.
God will restore his people, those who suffered for their own rebellion against God (5:5-7). His people will produce fruit again and f Bt. V l nothing will overcome them. Salvation will come to those who turn to God for help and make peace with him.
“Now [today] is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation“ (2Co 6:2). “Today, if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts“ (Heb 3:15). May the Lord grip the heart if America in repentance toward him. Lord, may the heart of this old sentry remain tender and repentant toward you.
The lives of men will not be changed by providing a good environment. Although, that may help enormously. But even the most gracious of divine kindnesses, which God may display, are ignored by many. They take no notice of God’s daily mercies. They are taken for granted.
Men seem far more likely to respond better to judgment then to blessing. Judgment brings me face-to-face with my own inadequacies; my need to surrender to God. To this aging sentry this becomes far more evident. So, for me Lord, it is in the morning watches, before the dawn breaks, that I will earnestly seek you. In you I will find peace and accomplishment.