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The Israel of God
Because the nation of Israel never completely fulfilled the prophetic
predictions of Isaiah it leaves us in a dilemma, either God's word
failed, or the prophet under divine inspiration had more than one
people in view. As Christ is undoubtedly the Servant in chapter 53,
so His offspring the Ecclesia those which have been wrongly been called
Church 112 times is the true Israel referred to by Isaiah. They are
the final instrument to fulfil His purpose in the earth. To this end
He has pledged His word; ("I will build My Body of called out
ones and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.").
And He gives to us His grace and power; ("I give you power over
all the power of the enemy") to guarantee our success.
Let us look back one more time in hindsight at this parabolic people.
In spite of all that they had suffered in exile, for the second
time they failed to realize their destiny and begin to fulfil their
great commission to the world. Instead under the reigning ecclesiastical
class of Pharisee and Scribe they settled down to become a nation
of legalistic bigots and straw splitting racists. So Jesus Christ
came and assumed the responsibilities they had neglected and fulfilled
them by the Gospel He preached; and the Body He formed. What He
was and what He did, the whole nation ought to have been and done.
The Apostle Paul fully understood this.
Acts 13:45-48. "But when the Jews
saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spoke against
those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
(Yes that's right blaspheming.) Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold,
and said, it was necessary that the word of God should first have
been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves
unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so
hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light
of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends
of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad,
and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained
to eternal life believed."
People who don't read history stand in grave danger of repeating
Does God have a plan for the natural Jew? Most decidedly yes! Has
He forsaken them? No He has not! Any Jew at any time may enter through
the door Jesus Christ at any time in like manner to every believer.
This however is not our consideration here, but let it suffice to
say that He has not finished with them as a nation.
SUMMONED TO AN EXODUS
Isaiah 58:12 "And they that shall
be of thee shall build the old waste places, thou shalt raise up
the foundations of many generations; thou shalt be called, the repairer
of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in."
Isaiah 61:4. "And they shall build
the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and
they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations."
The desolations of many generations:
Sin is devastating in all its deadly forms. For the Jews in captivity
the sins of their fathers over many generations weighed heavily
upon them. They were not only bearing their own burden of sin, but
the sin of a whole nation, who apart from a revival here and there
under pitifully few kings and judges, had been in rebellion for
hundreds of years.
The history of the church has followed a similar path. Its birth
on the day of Pentecost was an exciting event as we read about it
in the sacred record. It promised so much as it moved in wondrous
power and conviction, and yet before the death of the last of the
apostles tares sown by the enemy were beginning to manifest themselves
in the church. By the third century the church and state had settled
their differences. This was due to the fact that Emperor Constantine
had accepted Christianity. From here on it was all-downhill. Priest
craft practiced and prospered. Gradually an ecclesiastical hierarchy
arose like a pyramid, with popes and cardinals, archbishops, bishops
and priests, mediating between God and men, holding through the
confessional the power of life and death.
Approach to God in the most trivial matters of faith and morals
could only be made through those who were appointed by the order
of a carnal commandment. Indulgences and favours were freely sold.
Many popes, cardinals, and bishops accrued to themselves fabulous
wealth. Living in luxury they indulged in every excess at the expense
of their flocks. In reaction to this new Religious Orders arose
headed up by men and women who took vows of poverty swearing never
to touch the gold of the sanctuary, but to live a simple life style
as did their Lord and Saviour. Then the reformation broke out and
God began the process of restoring all that had been lost through
design neglect and ignorance.
OUR PERSONAL CAPTIVITY
On a personal level our lives in many cases started with such great
hope and promise, and as we look back over the years for reasons
that are all to plain, we find ourselves in captivity to wilful
decisions made with little thought to their consequences.
It's the double captivity of our lives. I can remember so vividly
my deliverance from my first captivity. Bound by Satan and sin God
forgave me, set me free, and took me just as I was. It was an exodus
of epic proportions. Perhaps your salvation was not as dramatic
as mine was, or it may have been even more so. But what one of us
doesn't look back on that wonderful event with a warm feeling in
our spirit. The joy that filled our hearts enveloped us as we began
our journey. Our lives completely turned around as we moved in a
new direction, our hearts full of gratitude to our blessed Saviour.
Then after many years we look back upon our lives at some of the
decisions which we made that have come back to haunt us. Things
that brought us much heartache and sorrow
Eccl 12:1. "Remember now thy Creator
in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the
years draw nigh, when thou shalt say; I have no pleasure in them."
It seems unfair that some of the most important decisions of our
lives have to be made when we are young, naturally and spiritually,
such as the choice of a life partner. Fifty years is a long time
to live with one person, so you need to be sure you get God's choice.
The career we choose will decide what we study and what we will
be doing for a great portion if not all of our lives.
We are called upon to make these decisions when we lack the wisdom
that only years can bring, and while we have so little or no experience.
Though the question of our salvation may have been settled these
are decisions of major importance that will affect our lives for
years to come. Once they have been embarked upon there's no turning
back. The decision was made, and the course of action that followed
cannot be reversed, even God can't do that. We cannot turn back
The young man who for a moment of unbridled passion finds himself
enveloped in circumstances that will exact their toll for years
to come. As the ever broadening circles of a stone thrown into a
pond reach far and wide, so also do the consequences of our actions.
The hopes and aspirations of a dream to serve God are now left seemingly
Living in secret sin and bound by a habit that you cannot seem
to overcome. Carrying a secret close to your breast and every time
it comes to mind you die a thousand deaths. The young woman who
had an abortion, wondering if she should tell her future husband
what she did? What will happen if he ever finds out? The dreaded
fear of being caught out for what ever reason. The blinding, binding,
terror, of concealed and unforsaken sin; the baby that you had to
give away. You lie in bed at night wondering how she or he is, and
what's become of your child.
Broken vows; becoming unequally yoked with an unbeliever, continually
crying to yourself "if only I had listened to God and my parents."
Whether all or none of the above has been our problem, what wouldn't
any of us give to be able to turn back the clock and change decisions
we did make that have caused us so much pain. But it's too late
now, you can't change what took place, not even God can do that.
Christians whose marriages have failed the first time and simply
go on repeating the same mistake for the second and third time.
With each successive marriage the chances of success are greatly
A professional Christian counsellor recently told me that 80% of
all the Christian women she had counselled over many years who had
been married twice or more told her, that had they followed the
teachings of the Bible they would never have left their first husband.
The basic problem has always been our determination to go our own
Proverbs 1:31. "We have eaten
the fruit of going our own way."
It eventually always leaves a bitter taste in our mouths.
"Who gave Jacob for a spoil and Israel to the robbers? Did
not the Lord, he against whom we have sinned? For they would not
walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law."
God may hand us over for a season, but He never gives us completely
up to our enemies. The God, who gave us into the hand of the enemy,
is the God who will most assuredly deliver us from the hand of the
enemy when we turn to Him. He gave Job over, but only for a short
season, He never gave him up. When Israel had served their seventy
years sentence in exile they were legally free to return. Our wonderful
Saviour has served our sentence. Time we should have served He has
served for us, and He wants us to come home right now, this minute,
to righteousness and peace.
DELIVER US FROM EVIL
"Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name:
and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake. Wherefore
should the heathen say where is their God? Let him be known among
the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants
which is shed. Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee;
according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that
are appointed to die."
"Forgive me Lord." Three most powerful little words.
"When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his
He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their
prayer. This shall be written for the generation to come: and the
people who shall be created shall praise the Lord. For he hath looked
down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord
behold the earth; To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose
those that are appointed to death; To declare the name of the Lord
in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem; When the people are gathered
together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord."
Changed character is caught, not bought or taught. You catch it
Eternal life is not something we earn, it is something we accept.
If it is by self-effort, then it is self-salvation, and the end
is self-righteousness. One must come into contact with the Saviour
to get it. Transformation then is not an attainment, but an obtainment.
Religion is man's search for God; the gospel is God's search for
man. There are many religions, but only one gospel.
THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT
"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye
comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is
accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received
of the Lord's hand double for all her sins."
Is there no answer to my pain you may cry? Is there no help, or
must I live out the rest of my days in pain and sorrow.
Your life can change no matter how hopeless it may seem.
Wherever the stinging nettle is found the dock leaf is close at
hand. The antidote, the counteracting remedy, is never far from
where the pain is. The same Jesus that came to seek and save the
lost also came to bind up the broken hearted, to heal, and to set
the captive free. He is the cure for all our ills, and is ever near,
closer than we usually imagine. Though we may not see Him, what
is better still is that He sees us. Yes dear one there is Hope,
you can come home and find righteousness and peace, yes you can,
and you can come now, just as you are. Life becomes barely tolerable
when we bitterly resent things as an unwanted intrusion into our
lives. We can never be at peace with ourselves and those around
us when all we are is resentful of our situation.
Don't let your failures make you despondent. The world is not against
you. God hasn't abandoned you, He understands you completely and
better still He loves you. Self-pity is a dead end street that ends
in loneliness and rejection. You will drive all your friends away
and become an angry, lonely person. You can't keep reacting to life's
problems by always getting mad. If you do you'll turn into a bitter,
resentful, awful kind of a person. Don't develop this kind of attitude,
it only makes you miserable to live with and be around. Righteousness,
joy, and peace are not unattainable goals.
The present is not your destiny:
Time and again the Lord is seen wooing and encouraging the exiles
to come home. Urging them to depart from Babylon and return to Jerusalem.
But the poor captives can't stop feeling sorry for themselves saying
that their circumstances are absolutely impossible.
The curse of depression:
"But Zion said the Lord has forsaken me, my God has forgotten
me.” To which the Lord replies, "Can a woman forget her
child, and not have compassion on the son of her own womb? Yes she
may, yet I will not forget you. Behold I have engraved you upon
the palms of my hands, you are continually before me."
Romans 8: 1. "There is therefore
now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not
after the flesh but after the Spirit, for the law of the spirit
of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and
The chapter commences with "no condemnation" and ends
with "no separation." There are many unanswered questions
in the Bible but in this chapter we are left in no doubt about two
Firstly there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ.
Secondly Paul declares that there is nothing in heaven or earth,
or under the earth, that can separate us from the love of God. Still
not satisfied the captive asks in Isaiah 49:24-25. "Shall the
prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?”
To which the Lord replies, "Even the captives of the mighty
shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered,
for I will contend with them that contend with you."
It sounds too good to be true, I don't deserve it, please don't
build up my hopes, and I've tried so often to escape, to find an
answer and found nothing or nobody to help. I guess I will just
have to bear my cross; I know I'm guilty, and I deserve what's happened.
Let me commend the Saviour to you. He took divine initiative and
became like us that we might become like Him. He saves you from
the penalty of sin and from the stinging memory of the guilt. It's
buried in the sea of His forgetfulness. And if He has forgotten
it, then we must forget it too. It's a sin against the forgiveness
of God to keep dragging up memories of what God has blotted out
To receive forgiveness you must confess, and when God forgives
you, you must forgive yourself. A great many receive forgiveness
from God and then fail to give it to themselves. They keep lashing
themselves for what they have done, hoping to pay God back by their
own suffering. Don't try to make atonement for what has already
been atoned for.