Saturday, August 6, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 39

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 39

We will spend some time today looking at the "I will" statements from yesterday concerning the king of Babylon, concerning the spirit of rebelliousness in man, and concerning the attitude of Satan himself. In his prophecy regarding the downfall of Babylon's king and the eventual downfall of Satan, Isaiah presented us with five "I will" statements which the king of Babylon and Satan had said in their hearts.

1. "I will ascend to the heavens." The ancient king of Babylon believed he was going to achieve world domination, that his kingdom would be better and brighter and bigger than any on earth. He thought of himself as high above all other men, right up there with the gods, and he expected to be worshiped as a god. Likewise, in the end times, Satan will have his day during the Great Tribulation when a world dictator known as the Antichrist will achieve what the literal king of Babylon did not. He will dominate all nations in those days. Daniel said of this king, "The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every God and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place." (Daniel 11:36) As we saw in our study earlier this week, the Apostle Paul had this to say about the man of sin, the lawless one, who will "oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God." (2 Thessalonians 2:4) The same spirit that was in the ancient king of Babylon is the spirit of pride and rebellion found in the devil. It's a spirit that wants to lift the creature up to the level of God, to exalt the creature over the Creator, to disregard the laws and the will of God and say, "I will do as I please."

2. "I will raise my throne above the stars of God." Some Bible scholars believe this is the king of Babylon declaring his dominion over the people of Judah whom he has conquered, that they are the "stars of God" indicated here. This is possible, although I'm not sure the king considered a conquered people as stars or as a people precious to the Lord. More likely he looked down on them and on their God. He would have looked down on all the heavenly beings created by God as well, so I tend to think, along with many scholars who know far more about it than I do, that these stars refer to angels. The literal king of Babylon would not have held the God of Israel nor His angels in reverence, nor did Satan himself. There are several places in Scripture where the angels are symbolized by stars. We have already seen Satan (or Lucifer) referred to as "morning star, son of the dawn" in our current chapter of Isaiah. Job appears to somehow equate angels with stars when he speaks of the creation of the world, a time when the created beings of heaven rejoiced at the handiwork of God and "the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy". (Job 38:7) The Apostle John, when given prophecies of the end times by the Lord Jesus, saw seven stars in the hand of the Lord, about whom the Lord said, "The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches". (Revelation 1:20) There is a supernatural being referred to as a star in Revelation 8, whose name is Wormwood, who falls to the earth and turns the waters bitter. There is a supernatural being referred to as a star in Revelation 9 who falls to the earth and has the key to the abyss to let a plague of locusts loose. In Revelation 12 we see the rebellion of Satan described in which a third of the angels, symbolized by stars, rebel with him against God, Here the Scriptures compare Satan to a dragon whose tail "swept a third of the stars out of the sky", meaning the angels who followed him into sin. So we find here the desire of Satan to be elevated above all the other angels, to be special, to be chief among all the angels of heaven. It wasn't enough for him to share equally in the magnificent ministry of angels; he wanted to be set above them and be looked up to by all the other angels.

3. "I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon." Mount Zaphon was in Canaanite territory. The Canaanites believed their pagan gods dwelt on Mount Zaphon, much as the Greeks believed their gods dwelt on Mount Olympus. The ancient king of Babylon not only believed he was greater than the Israelite God, but also believed he was greater than any god of the nations. His throne was going to be greater than the throne of any god of any nation he had conquered or expected to conquer in the future. We find the same type of mind-set in the world dictator of the end times, whom the Apostle Paul told us would even enter the mount of assembly of Israel to place a throne for himself in the very temple of God and there to declare himself God. This is the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, when the man of sin desecrates the temple. (Daniel 9:27) When the Antichrist establishes a covenant of peace in the Middle East, something no one before him has been able to accomplish, the temple will be rebuilt. Then he will break the seven-year treaty by cutting off worship at the temple and setting himself up there as God. He will thus desecrate the temple of the Lord. His actions there will be an abomination, will defile the temple, and make it unfit for service to the Lord.

4. "I will ascend above the tops of the clouds." Babylon is the original seat of sin, where man first rebelled against the Lord and did not believe His promise to never again bring a flood like the flood of Genesis. They sought to build a tower to reach into the heavens, to make a name for themselves, to exalt and magnify mankind rather than the Creator. This same attitude was found in the king of Babylon who set up what was probably an image of himself, ninety feet high and covered in gold, which he demanded the people worship or be sentenced to death. (Daniel 3) The same attitude is found in Satan who thought more of himself than he should, who believed himself superior to his fellow angels, who dared to consider himself superior to the Lord. He believed he should reign. He believed he deserved to rule over all. Having failed to achieve dominion in heaven, Satan will seek it on earth and will find a temporary success when his man sets up an idol of himself and insists on being worshiped as God. 

5. "I will make myself like the Most High." When the king of Babylon made an image of himself that all the people were required to bow before and worship, he was declaring himself to be like the Most High. He was putting himself in place of every god known to the nations, including the God of Israel. Unlike Christians who point mankind to Christ and not to themselves, and unlike the holy and faithful angels who point all worship to Christ and not to themselves, Satan wants all the attention on him. He has endeavored throughout the ages to point the angels and mankind away from God and to himself. He desires to be worshiped like the Most High, indeed to be worshiped in place of the Most High. At its most basic core, this is what every idol is: something set up in place of the Most High. In ancient times and in some cultures of the world today, there are literal carved or molded images representing false gods that people bow down before, to whom they bring offerings and praise. But there are also idols which are less visible. There are idols of the heart, things which mankind has put in place of God, things such as relationships that mean more to us than God, things such as status or money or power, addictions such as sex or pornography or drugs or alcohol. An idol is anything we revere more than our relationship with God, anything we have set up in place of Him. If Satan cannot entice us to actually bow down before him, he is satisfied with enticing us to bow down before anything and everything other than the Most High God.

What consumes the majority of our thoughts during the day? Is there someone or something occupying more space in our heads than the Lord? If so, maybe we have idols we need to cast down. There are times I catch myself thinking about someone or some type of problem more than I've been thinking about my Redeemer. Doing so gives a person more power over my life than he or she was intended to have. Doing so makes my problems seem bigger than my God. If we keep God in His proper and exalted place in our hearts and minds, we will never become unhealthily dependent upon our fellow man. We will not fall victim to perpetual panic over the circumstances of life. We will not find ourselves overcome by addictions from depending upon something other than God to get us through the hard times. If Satan can't get us to worship him, he will continually strive to get us to make someone or something bigger in our lives than the Lord, so we have to be on our guard. We have to examine our hearts to see if there is anyone we depend on more than our Savior. We have to examine our lives to see if there is anything we rely upon more than our Lord. I've been guilty of it and have had to repent. I will probably be guilty of it again and have to repent. But I'm so thankful for God's mercy in forgiving us over and over, for remembering that He formed us out of the dust of the ground and that we are weak and imperfect. I'm thankful for His faithfulness when we ask Him to reveal any sin in our hearts, that He so kindly shows us areas where we need to step up our faith and then gives us the ability to do so. God is so good to us! He is so patient and kind and loving! We thank You, Lord, for Your unfailing love and for Your great mercy toward us!

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