Monday, November 14, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 139

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 139

The Lord continues disparaging Babylon for her sinful attitudes. "You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, 'No one sees me.' Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, 'I am, and there is none besides me." (Isaiah 47:10) Wickedness can reign in the heart for so long that the owner of the heart prefers to believe there is no God. If there is no God, then we are answerable to no one and there is no coming judgment. If one has lived in sin and cruelty as deeply as the desperate human heart desires, how comforting it must be to believe there will be no day of reckoning, to say, "It doesn't matter what I do. No one sees me. There is no God." 

The Lord says their wisdom and knowledge have misled them, not that they have been led astray by their ignorance. They have become so intellectual they believe God is beneath them. In the United States today there are those who believe Christians are a bunch of backwoods rednecks, that we are uneducated fools. But the Bible tells us that God's knowledge is higher than man's knowledge and that His ways confound the wise. The Bible describes what it means to be a fool, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" (Psalm 14:1a) And when our hearts become so depraved we denounce the existence of God, we make gods of ourselves and say along with the Babylonians, "I am!", (taking a title that belongs to the Lord), and saying, "There is no god besides me." 

Because of Babylon's overweening pride, the Lord foretells, "Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away. A calamity will fall upon you that you cannot ward off with a ransom; a catastrophe you cannot foresee will suddenly come upon you. Keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries, which you have labored at since childhood. Perhaps you will succeed, perhaps you will cause terror." (Isaiah 47:11-12) The people of Babylon trusted in their astrologers and sorcerers to warn them if trouble was coming, yet on the night Cyrus of Persia and his army conquered Babylon, no one saw it coming. No protective spell was able to keep the capitol city from being captured. Cyrus would not accept a ransom in exchange for leaving Babylon alone, for he was on a mission for the God who said of him, "I will raise up Cyrus in My righteousness; I will make his ways straight. He will rebuild My city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the Lord Almighty." (Isaiah 45:13)

"All the counsel you have received has only worn you out!" (Isaiah 47:13a) This is in contrast to the counsel we receive from the word of God, "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." (Psalm 119:105) The counsel of Babylon's wise men brought only weariness and confusion, but the word of the Lord gives us renewal of strength and a light for our path. "It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze." (Psalm 18:33-34) 

"Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you." (Isaiah 47:13b)Those of you who have followed the blog for a long time may have heard this story before, but I know someone who got so deep into astrology that Satan gained a stronghold over their life. It began innocently enough, as these things do, with an interest in daily horoscopes, but it progressed to casting charts and allowing their life to be guided entirely by such predictions. No decision could be made without consulting the charts. This person's entire life was in shambles and they suffered the loss of many material things, of relationships, and of a good name. At a point when this person was so deep in a pit no human strength could pull them out, God reached down and took hold of them, and one reason He reached down was because of the intercessory prayer that kept going up for this person. I don't mind if this makes me sound silly or old-fashioned, but we have no business messing with things that are marketed as "for entertainment purposes" but which have behind them a demonic spiritual force. We have no business playing around with astrology, fortune telling, ouija boards, or anything of that nature. On the surface it seems like harmless fun, but behind the facade lurks something wicked.

The astrologers and sorcerers of Babylon led the people astray and the Lord says of them, "Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. These are not coals for warmth; this is not a fire to sit by." (Isaiah 47:14) False religion does not offer the comfort of a campfire. It masquerades as a pleasant light, but in truth it is darkness. All who sit by it, hoping to be warmed, will be burned instead. All who are drawn to it, hoping to be enlightened, will end up stumbling about in the darkness.

"This is all they are to you---these you have dealt with and labored with since childhood. All of them go on in their error; there is not one that can save you." (Isaiah 47:15) The people have labored in their religion. Their religion wasn't a joy to them, but an obligation. It demanded rituals and offerings and gave nothing in return. No one in Babylon could save them from being conquered: not the wise men, the astrologers, the sorcerers, or the idols. Salvation is found only in the living God who created us and calls us to a higher purpose. Serving Him is a joy. There is warmth by His fire and comfort in His light. 

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