Thursday, September 29, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 93

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 93

We are in the last portion of Chapter 34 and Isaiah is using the nation of Edom symbolically to represent all who have rebelled against God and who have been cruel to His people. Yesterday we closed with the Lord proclaiming He has a day of vengeance set aside "to uphold Zion's cause". In Isaiah's day it looked as if there might be a permanent end to Zion but the Lord wants the people to know a day is coming when their enemies will not be found. God judged literal Edom when her people rejoiced over the downfall of Jerusalem by allowing the Nabateans to overthrow them and push them out of their territory. And He intends to judge the "Edom" of the end times: the apostate church of the Antichrist and the corrupt world system which will exist at that time.

Isaiah predicted yesterday the desolation of the literal Edom of history and the spiritual Edom of the end times. The beautiful rock-cut city of Petra in southern Jordan was originally Edomite territory, known as Seir in the Bible, in the area where Jacob's brother Esau founded his dynasty. It was overtaken by the Nabateans and the Edomites were pushed further south. The area was later taken into the Roman Empire, during which time the neo-Persian Empire is thought to have invaded it, disrupting economic and building enterprises there and causing its expansion to halt. At least two major earthquakes struck the region before the Arabs conquered it. Today it is uninhabited and is merely a tourist attraction, so we find that what Isaiah said about it has come true. The mountain fortress of Seir, stronghold of Esau the founder of Edom, lies deserted. 

This is what Isaiah had to say about the fate of Edom and its citadels and fortified cities, "The desert owl and screech owl will possess it; the great owl and the raven will nest there. God will stretch out over Edom the measuring line of chaos and the plumb line of desolation. Her nobles will have nothing there to be called a kingdom, all her princes will vanish away. Thorns will overrun her citadels, nettles and brambles her strongholds. She will become a haunt for jackals, a home for owls. Desert creatures will meet with hyenas and wild goats will bleat to each other; there the night creatures will also lie down and find for themselves a place of rest. The owl will nest there and lay eggs, she will hatch them, and care for her young under the shadow of her wings; there also the falcons will gather, each with its mate." (Isaiah 34:11-15) The animal kingdom was doing fine until man sinned. Animals lived in peace with each other and with man, but sin entered the world and it became a fallen planet, with disease and death entering the picture, with cruelty and neglect and carnivorous appetites rising up. When man fell, he brought the creation down with him, as the curse of sin spread throughout the world like an especially toxic pollutant. Edom's downfall will be the good fortune of the animals. They will inhabit the citadels and mountain fortresses, the palaces and high towers. The Lord will make the desolate cities a safe place for animals to breed and raise their young. Owls will nest where kings once ruled from judgment halls. Hyenas will raise their young where princes once lived in luxury. 

The animals who take over the uninhabited cities of those whom the Lord has judged will be fruitful and multiply. He will provide a mate for each one and will supply their needs. "Look in the scroll of the Lord and read: None of these will be missing, not one will lack her mate. For it is His mouth that has given the order, and His Spirit will gather them together. He allots their portions; His hand distributes them by measure. They will possess it forever and dwell there from generation to generation." (Isaiah 34:16-17) We learned earlier in the book of Isaiah that the Lord instructed him to write all the words of prophecy in a scroll. Later, when Edom falls, the people will be able to look back at Isaiah's scroll and know that his predictions came from the Lord. And if Isaiah's prophecies against Edom came true, they should be able to determine that all his other prophecies are true as well. Isaiah was speaking the word of the Lord faithfully. 

I love the image of the Lord feeding the animals with His own hand! In a world filled with cruelty and inhumanity, God's eye is on the sparrow. As an animal lover this comforts me, to know that God has seen and will judge every inhumane act, that He loves and cares for all His creatures and is concerned with their welfare. Since the creation of the world, kingdoms have risen and kingdoms have fallen, but when God decides a kingdom is too wicked to be allowed to rise again, He cuts it down and gives it to those creatures who are without sin. Out of all that the Lord created, only man has rebelled against Him, and there is Scriptural evidence to support the ability of animals to be aware of and to acknowledge their Creator, "But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:7-10) 

I've learned a lot about God through my pets. Their trust and confidence in us is the type of trust and confidence we are to have in the Lord. Their unquestioning obedience is a beautiful example of how we are to obey God. Our pets are alert to our every move: they rest when we rest and they follow us when we rise up. This is the alertness we should have for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our eyes should continually be on our Savior, ready to move when He says move, happy to simply rest in His presence when He says to rest. Our pets want to be in our presence every second of every day. They crave our nearness. They flourish in our friendship. They rejoice in our love. They feel safe and secure in our care. As Job said, we can learn a lot from the animals. The relationship of a pet with its owner wonderfully illustrates what the relationship of the believer should be with the Lord. If the animals could read the Bible, I believe they would wholeheartedly agree with the lovely attitude of this passage, "One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple." (Psalm 27:4) 

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