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Current study: Spiritual Warfare

21 July 2012

Week 29 Review

July 15 Isaiah 18-22
July 16 Isaiah 23-26
July 17 2 Kings 18:1-8; 2 Chronicles 29-31; Psalm 48
July 18 Isaiah 27-30
July 19 Isaiah 31-35
July 20 Isaiah 36-37; 2 Kings 18:9-19:37; 2 Chronicles 32:1-23; Psalm 76

This week we heard from Isaiah – and saw his words fulfilled in part through our readings in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. The theme for the week was trust and rest.

Isaiah reminds us that God will bring the fraudulent and unrighteous low. During this period of history, God revealed that He alone is in command and reminded the people that their plans were nothing. Isaiah speaks against various cities and countries…

Babylon – reminds us that human treachery leaves God’s people no earthly hope. We must look to Him when we are bombarded by treacherous acts and remember that those who act dishonestly are sinners just like us who have yet to see the need for Jesus in their lives.

Egypt – Isaiah 19 “contains the most important prophetic utterance concerning Egypt in all of the Old Testament” (Dr. Wilbur M. Smith, Egypt in Biblical Prophecy p. 77). As we look through the lens of current newscasts, it’s hard to believe that Egypt, Israel and Assyria (modern Iraq) will someday unite and worship God together! (Isaiah 19:1-20:6). But before that happens, God will both judge and save Egypt. When Jesus establishes His kingdom on earth, Egypt will fear Israel (19:16-17) and worship the true God (19:18-19). Hard to believe, isn’t it? But it’s in God’s Word – and it WILL come to pass.

Dumah (Edom) – means silence or stillness in Hebrew. God wants us to continue to inquire of Him even during the darkest hours. Morning will come!

We also see a picture of God’s final judgment of the world. The entire world is judged because every man is a sinner. Mankind has no hope, and no one can hide (Revelation 6:15-17) but there is a remnant that remains faithful, joyful and worshipful. God promises to rebuild the earth and keep His followers in perfect peace. At that point, God will banish evil and everyone will worship the Lord on His holy mountain (Jerusalem).

But the worship (then as now) must be right worship. Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13 in Matthew 15:8-9. In Matthew 15 Jesus is discussing the traditions of the people. They had strayed from God’s instructions for worship and Jesus told them quite plainly that the heart and the mouth could be defiling. God wants us to worship Him with our whole heart. Do you go to church joyously, ready to meet God? Do you have a time of daily study and fellowship with God? Or, like me, do you sometimes do well and sometimes do poorly when you think about your patterns of worship? Don’t rebel against God – listen to His instruction and worship from the heart!

In the saga of the kings of Judah, we met Hezekiah (“the Lord strengthens”). He ruled for 29 years and was complimented for: removing the high places, breaking down the pillars, cutting down the Asherah, breaking the bronze serpent (Nehushtan) which Israel was making offerings to. Hezekiah was one of Christ’s ancestors.

Hezekiah was faithful to and trusted in God, and God prospered him. Hezekiah repaired and restored the temple, then reconsecrated it and restored temple worship. As permitted by God, he celebrated Passover late so the temple could be finished. The people gave generously to the temple reconstruction, and from this we learn a great lesson:

A worshiping people will always be a generous people.

Are you generous to God? Do you give Him His tithe and your offerings? Do you help around the church? Or do you feel that the bills won’t get paid if you give God what’s His? Don’t do it! He has given us a promise:

Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9  You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10  Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. Malachi 3:8-10 (ESV)

Make it a point to put your tithes and offerings in an envelope first. It will do two things for you. By “paying” God before anything else, you will be certain to give Him what belongs to Him (remember that it really all belongs to Him and you are just a steward). Second, it shows God that you are worshiping in obedience to Him. He does not promise to make your financial worries disappear, but He does promise blessings. His blessings are worth more than any money I might have!

When I decided to give my tithes and offerings first, it changed my life! I can’t imagine not giving to God first anymore. It’s now a habit. When I knew I was losing a source of income, I continued to give first, and God has not failed me yet. I may not have what I want, but God provides me exactly what I need.

Isaiah’s writings can be very confusing. It is sometimes difficult to tell whether he is writing for his contemporaries or for the future, but in 32:10, we see a very clear warning that the Assyrian invasion will come within a year. He warns the people that they need to get over their complacency, and at the end of the week, we see Sennacherib invading with his Rabshakeh, or high ranking military officers.

An interesting aspect to Isaiah 36:4-20 is that in the original Hebrew, the word trust is repeated seven times (4,5,6,7,9) and the word deliver is also repeated seven times (14, 15, 18, 19, 20). King Hezekiah publicly declares that he will trust in God and take’s a stand on God’s ability to deliver.

God blesses Hezekiah’s belief in an unusual way. Instead of sending a resounding military defeat, which could be credited to man, God sends a spirit of rumor. Sennacherib and his people have blasphemed and mocked God, and God shows that He is in control – Sennacherib falls! (37:38)

Who do you trust? Do you think you can do it on your own, or is your faith in the One Who can do it all? Do you give Him what’s due in worship (wholehearted obedience) and in deed (tithes and offerings), or do you hold back God’s portion of your income, thinking that He can’t possibly know how bad your situation is?

Who do you trust?

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