Here we enter into the preparations of a great Monarch to forge a path through hostile desert places, perilous/treacherous mountain passes and murky low places, serpentine pathways and impassable routes. Why? So that the Monarch may be with the people of his/her kingdom.
“The Voice?“ A crier, lowly and hidden by the royalty and glory of the Monarch. The crier leads a great procession, legions of crews and engineers, to remove every obstacle hindering access of said Monarch to the people. Jehovah God, the Monarch, will move to deliver his people from the baneful hand of Babylon.
Just so, John the Baptist was a “voice” in the wilderness crying out, “Make way [clear the way] for the Messiah [our Monarch].” He is the deliverer of all men from sin (Jhn 1:23). The Lord Jesus has come to deliver us in these modern times and epochs from the curse of sin. Open the highway to your heart. Lord, may I tear down every obstacle that hinders the work of the most high God in my life (1Co 10:5).
Could there be any more consoling words than those spoken here by God to Isaiah. The prophet is told to speak tenderly to his people who will face punishment for their sin. Isaiah is to speak words of comfort and pardon for sin.
Oh sinner, rebellious child of God, the sovereign God‘s heart breaks for you. No God like the God of heaven bears his heart to sinners and rebels like our God. Lord, this sentry is in debt for your pardon of my sin and your heart towards me and all who have sinned against you.
Standing in apposition to those who have corrupted the Gospel are those whose lives clearly represent the kingdom of Heaven. They are ambassadors of Christ Jesus in this world. This is a temporary home and soon the savior from Heaven’s Kingdom, Jesus, will call us home.
Our mortal bodies will put on a immortality like that of Christ. He will, by his power, bring all things under his control and we shall be like him in our resurrected bodies. Lord, while I am in this world may my life be a true reflection of your Kingdom.
We have the written word of God to guide us. But faith is more than a book of code to follow. How that “Code“ is followed, lived out, is also important. Therefore, we have examples to follow. Paul says, “Follow my example” (follow me as I follow Christ – 1Cor 11:1). Paul says we may also follow the example of others (like Timothy and Epaphroditus).
I have had a lifetime of examples to follow – parents, teachers, pastors, mentors, associates, friends – many godly examples of the “Code,” the word of God. I in turn am an example to others of that “Code.” I have witnessed the “Code” at work In others. Lord, may I honor and live out the sentry’s “Code” for others to see.
Jesus Christ is the supreme example of humility. He was the Son of God. He did not surrender his deity to become a man…He set aside his rights as deity. He willingly put the needs of humanity for salvation ahead of his own rights as deity. Paul says we ought to have this same attitude towards others.
To set aside our rights in favor of another’s is not looking down on ourselves as somehow inferior. It is to simply put others first, out of genuine love for them and NOT demand our rights first. It is a choice we make. [What would America look like if everyone did that?] Father, may I honor you in my choices to serve others.
Dare I say that there is a moment, a slice of time in my day, when I come as close to perfection as humanly possible?
It is my Morning Watch, between the hours of 4:30 and 8 AM (or thereabouts). It is that time of day when I bring my broken and fallen self to the table of self-examination.
It is those moments when the Holy enters into my daily dialogue and from Scripture the Lord counsels me, comforts me and challenges me. He speaks perfectly clearly from his Word. His Spirit interprets perfectly clearly (Rhema) to my heart. His Son perfectly clearly calls me to obedience. These are moments unmolested by the trials and the challenges of the day which await me. They are crouching at the threshold just outside the closed door of sweet communion.
For these few unmolested moments I am free of sin (for the most part; I am human). Like a “storm chamber,“ to which one goes for protection and cover from the storm, I am sheltered from the elements outside which batter the humble shack above. I am free in these moments from the demands of the flesh. I am entirely focused upon my Heavenly Trio of Friends: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
Ah yes. For these few moments, when things are perfect, I can hear clearly, perfectly. Then, having put on a new self, with a bound, full of grace and truth, I step out from the chamber, my cathedral of personal praise and devotion. Then, standing watch at the end of my driveway, I courageously answer the call to give my all for Christ another day.
This may be Paul’s most tender greeting of all his epistles. His affection for the Philippians leaps off the page. “God will most certainly finish his work in you at Christ’s return.” Paul appeals to God himself as a witness of the deep and abiding love he has for these believers. Why? Because they have drunk deeply together at the well of faithful ministry (good times and hard times).
It has been my honor to serve with some of God’s choicest servants. We have in common great ministry opportunities to defend the gospel and to introduce others to Christ. That also includes men and women who have generously donated such ministry. Our love for each other was forged in the crucible of ministry. Our affection for each other can only be described as an encounter with the compassion of Jesus. Thank you Father for the extraordinary bond we share.
Our union with Christ (v10) is exemplified in the signs of circumcision and baptism. Circumcision signifies that the old sinful nature is dead (v11). In baptism, having died to sin, this union is pictured as a spiritual burial and resurrection unto new life.
Baptism pictures one being buried (down into the water) with Christ into a “water grave.” Then, by God’s transforming power, that believer is raised (up out of the water) with Christ in his resurrection onto new life. Neither circumcision nor baptism saves us.* They merely picture our spiritual transformation from death to new life. Lord, I shall trust fully in the transforming power of Christ and my union with him.
* Some believe that one must be water baptized in order to be saved. It follows then that they ought also to be circumcised in order to fulfill Paul’s complete analogy. Don’t see anyone standing in line for that. Just sayin’.
Our Union with Christ (v10) is seen in two significant signs – circumcision and baptism. In circumcision our union with Christ is likened to the cutting off of the flesh. Christ, in his death on the cross, effected a “spiritual circumcision,“ the cutting away of the sinful nature (flesh).
We were once dead in our sins, controlled by the sinful nature. Death is separation from all that is living. We were once separated from God by our sin. In “spiritual circumcision” God made us alive in Christ. Believing on Christ we are freed from the control of the sinful nature. God forgave us and canceled the penalty for our sin when Christ was nailed to the cross. Thank you Father for my union with Christ and freedom from control of the sinful nature.
We came to Christ by trusting the truthfulness of God (that’s “faith”). So when we are confronted with all the philosophies of the world we reject them and continue to trust in him and his word. His word is true, it will lead and guide me.
We must sink our roots down deep into Christ. That is, we draw nourishment from him and let his teachings inform our way of living. We must not be derailed by human reasonings. Do this and the truth in which we believed/trusted God in the first place, will grow strong within us. We will be overwhelmed by thankfulness. Lord, this old sentry would never trade new life in Christ for the world of human reasoning in which he used to live.
When Paul prays for the strength of the Colossians, coming from God’s power to them, he expects to see three results:
1) Their PATIENCE – the persistence to pursue the goal of following Christ in spite of any difficulty;
2) Their ENDURANCE – the virtue of quiet determination in the face of vitriol. It will not retaliate, but shows mercy and forgiveness;
3) Their JOYFULNESS – joy fuels patience and endurance. Joy is often seen In contrast to afflictions. It is the confident assurance of the soul, a state of mind, that rests fully in Christ. Even in the worst of circumstances.
Lord, the duty sentry depends fully on you to deliver unto him/her the patience, endurance and joy I need for every circumstance of life.
Here is the second of three elements in Paul’s prayer for the believers in Colossae. He prays that they would be strengthened by the glorious power of God. To what ends does this second request lead us? Paul explains: that these believers might endure, have patience in their need and be filled with joy.
The nature of this “strength“ from God is it’s durative quality. It is not an initial gift given at regeneration that must last the believer for his/her entire journey. No, it is a continual flow that is new every moment of every day. My resources are not at the mercy of the crisis at hand. They are measured by the only power (κράτος-kratos) in the universe ascribed to God. Lord, the abundant supply of strength that empowers me (those I pray for) lies in the glorious, infinite and interminable power of the One who created the universe.
When Paul says, “We have not stopped praying for you…“ he is not making some impromptu, casual remarks. He intends with all earnestness to point the Colossian church to the great God of all creation. Prayer is not a bargaining chip, an after thought or a therapeutic exercise in meditation. Prayer is the means by which God achieves his purposes in this world.
Paul speaks in the tradition of Jesus who instructed his disciples to “pray earnestly” (Luke 10:2); who taught that “men are always to pray and not faint” (Luk 18:1). Lord, prayer and the reading of your word is essential to sentry’s growth and effectiveness as a follower of Christ; to the advancement of the Gospel in this world.
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.
Oh the beautiful valley in which the city of Jerusalem sits; it is now filled with enemy chariots of war (vv6,7). Why? Because the people of God rejected him. Judah trusted in her own self-made plans. She built her war chests against the Assyrian enemy. She ran to her armories. She sought to shore up her breached walls. She stored up her reservoirs for war. She did everything but ask God for his help.
Today, I hear much rhetoric from politicians, educators, corporate, media and activist leaders, yea, even the citizenry. There is much talk of war against their perceived enemies. Like Jerusalem against her Assyrian enemy, America runs for her political arsenals, she seeks to shore up her walls of political advantage. She works furiously to fill her political reservoirs. But defeat on all sides will be as swift and sure as was Jerusalem‘s. Why? History teaches us. Because, like Jerusalem, in all of America’s self made plans, her leaders have abandoned the people (v3). She arrogantly pursues her own interests. She never stops to ask for God’s help. He is the one who sets her back on her heels; and though rejected by her, loves her and would save her. If she would only ask.
All of this presses this old sentry to his knees in prayer and mourning for my beloved country. Oh that she might seek for God’s help.
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.
Even in punishment and judgment the God of Heaven’s Armies will not pulverize the weakest among us. No, Isaiah introduces the metaphor of a husbandman who ploughs his field, loosens the soil and meticulously plants various seed. Then he thoughtfully and wisely goes about the harvest, carefully threshing according to the heftiness of the fruit; heavy threshing for some, light threshing for others.
This is a picture of the gracious wisdom of God in his judgments. Ploughing is followed by benevolent planting. Then after the threshing, the harvest, there is rest. His punishments do not last interminably. He punishes that he might bless by grace. Lord, there may be weeping as the consequence of my sin, but there will be joy in the comfort of your mercy and grace.
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.
At times the people of God do not want to hear from the “intolerable moralist“ among them. They have become overconfident in their religiousity. They mock the man or woman of God and so, the message of God is also made a mockery. Such was the reaction of Israel and Judah towards the prophet Isaiah
How does that feel? I once told a brother that his lack of spiritual concern about some circumstances would lead to a bad outcome. I was told that my comments were simply an overreaction. They were not welcomed. Sadly, it turned out I was right. It took several years for that brother to recover.
To the religious know-it-all, God’s correction is all just baby talk to them – they do not wish to hear such repetitious and condescending gibberish. So God will oblige them. He will speak to them in another language. The language of an oppressor; the language of judgment. Perhaps then they will listen. Lord, may I always have an open and willing heart toward you.
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.
The land taken captive by Assyria was God’s land, the land of Israel, the land of promise to God’s people, his “covenant” people. Genesis Chapters 12-15 tells the story of Abraham‘s covenant encounter with God. God chose Abraham through whom to deliver his messianic redemption. God chose Abraham, not because Abraham was so special. God chose him because he needed an instrument through which to reveal his grace.
The covenant spoken of here is a reminder of God‘s unilateral, unconditional love and grace. This covenant bound God alone to his plan of redemption. Men could never nullify God‘s plan of redemption by their lack of commitment. God seeks for men and women to come to him of their own free will and worship him. Lord, I come freely to offer you my love and devotion, imperfect as it is. I give you thanks for the blood you spilled at Calvary for my sin.
The nation of Israel had fallen to Assyria. A captive priest of Jehovah God was sent to teach the new settlers how to worship God in the land. But they did not worship Jehovah God alone. They continued to worship their own gods as well. Israel had done the same and left many pagan shrines in the land that the new settlers used to worship their pagan deities. Makes me wonder about the heart of the priest who was sent to teach them of Jehovah God.
Today I am mindful of the Country & Western music I hear. Country & Western singers have no problem mixing Jesus, barstools and neon lights, like they all just go together. Get drunk on Saturday night, repent on Sunday morning. To call the name of Jesus is not the same as believing in Jesus (Mat 7:22). Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of true Jesus followers in country music. But Lord, this ol’ sentry don’t want no “country song Jesus” to command his life. Give me the real McCoy.