But Why Is The Mirth Gone? (Isaiah 24)

Normally I do not get involved in politics, but this time our state legislators have gone too far: California is going to ban Skittles candy.

Legislation that passed the assembly and is likely to pass the senate will prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution of products containing red dye #3, titanium dioxide, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil, or propyl paraben in the Golden State.

That will include Skittles. Stock up before you will no longer be able to “Taste the Rainbow.”

I found myself thinking of ‘rainbows and unicorns’ in verse eighteen of chapter twenty-four in Isaiah. We read, “…For the windows from on high are open, And the foundations of the earth are shaken.” 

Does that remind you of anything? In Genesis we read, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” (7:11). 

Similar language is used to describe the two global judgements:

  • In Genesis, the flood. 
  • In Isaiah, the future Great Tribulation. 

I went back through chapter twenty-four and noticed a few more subtle references to Noah:

  • Isaiah speaks of global destruction by “fire.” The LORD promised Noah and his descendants He would never again destroy the Earth by water. The apostle Peter, himself drawing from the account of the global flood, said, “But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (Second Peter 3:7).
  • Isaiah 24:21 reads, in part, “the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones.” These are supernatural beings who deserve special punishment. The days of Noah were marked by supernatural beings, fallen angels, sinning by impregnating human women. They were incarcerated in a special prison (Jude 6&7).

Then there is this: In Isaiah 24:5 we read that the human race has, “Broken the everlasting covenant.” 

Four-thousand years ago, Noah & his passengers survived the global flood and exited the Ark. 

God made a covenant with the human race called, appropriately, the Noahic Covenant: 

Gen 9:14  “It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the Earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud;

Gen 9:15  and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Gen 9:16  The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”  

Isaiah describes the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, but with emphasis on Gentiles. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes, “[Isaiah] will show the reason that the Great Tribulation will come upon the Gentile world and describes the consequences upon the Gentiles.”

The Noahic Covenant will be, in part, the righteous basis for God holding Gentiles accountable for sin. 

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 You Haven’t A Song Without Jesus, and #2 You Have Reason To Sing If You Are In Jesus. 

#1 – You Haven’t A Song Without Jesus (v1-13, 16-23)

Isaiah was definitely prophesying about the future Great Tribulation. The language he chooses is extreme and global in scope. 

Ordinarily we like to us the name Jeremiah gave those seven-years. He called them the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble.” It captures the primary purpose of those years, which is to bring all surviving Israel to salvation in Jesus Christ. 

Having said that, I will today mostly call it the Great Tribulation because the emphasis throughout this chapter is on Gentiles. 

Gentiles who suffer during that awful future time are not collateral damage. They will have violated the Noahic Covenant.


Isa 24:1  Behold, the LORD makes the Earth empty and makes it waste, Distorts its surface And scatters abroad its inhabitants.

Isaiah wasted no time setting the tone for his remarks. He is telling us about the terrible time that was coming upon the whole Earth. Jesus said, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). Those incredible years are described in detail in chapters six through eighteen in the last book of the Bible. 

Isa 24:2  And it shall be: As with the people, so with the priest; As with the servant, so with his master; As with the maid, so with her mistress; As with the buyer, so with the seller; As with the lender, so with the borrower; As with the creditor, so with the debtor.

God’s judgement will be universal, having zero respect for socioeconomic status. 

Isa 24:3  The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered, For the LORD has spoken this word.

“Depopulated” is what is meant by “entirely emptied and utterly plundered.” The places where depopulation numbers are given are in Revelation 6:7&8, and 9:15&18. 

  • The first reference indicates that 25% of the world’s population will die. 
  • The second mentions that 33% of the remaining population will die. 

Over 50% of the world’s population will die before Jesus returns.

Isa 24:4  The Earth mourns and fades away, The world languishes and fades away; The haughty people of the earth languish.

Everywhere you look on GOOGLE Maps the inhabited Earth will be “languishing.” It means wilting, weak, feeble. 

Isa 24:5  The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, Because they have transgressed the laws, Changed the ordinance, Broken the everlasting covenant.

The covenant” that all the “inhabitants” of Earth are subject to is the Noahic Covenant. The Jews derive seven universal laws for Gentiles from the Noahic Covenant:

  1. Not to worship idols.
  2. Not to curse God.
  3. Not to commit murder.
  4. Not to commit adultery or sexual immorality.
  5. Not to steal.
  6. Not to eat flesh torn from a living animal.
  7. To establish courts of justice.

According to modern Jewish interpreting, non-Jews are not obligated to convert to Judaism. They are required to observe these Seven Laws of Noah.

Is the Noahic Covenant in effect? Well, I guess “Yes,” since it is, after all, “everlasting.”

There was no nation of Israel when Noah exited the Ark. God would choose Abraham to father them. They received four covenants of their own: The Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant. All the elements of the Noahic Covenant are included in those.

Unsaved Gentiles are subject to the Noahic Covenant as a measure of righteousness.  

Most of the world is guilty of breaking or changing all seven laws.

Hence the pronouncement in verse five that they have “defiled” Earth, “changed the ordinance, [and] broken the everlasting covenant.”

The Church was born on the Day of Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection from the grave and the ascension into Heaven. We are a unique group of people in the Lord’s plan for redeeming and restoring all things:

  • The Church has not ‘replaced’ Israel. The covenants God made with Abraham’s physical descendants are still in effect toward them.
  • The Church is obviously not unsaved Gentiles. 

Summing this up over-simply, David Larsen writes, “The great promises of Messiah were given to Israel, and Jesus came through Israel; but Gentile believers have become the joyful beneficiaries of these promises without any loss whatever of the ultimate and final fulfillment of the Kingdom promises to Israel during a literal, thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth.”

Isa 24:6  Therefore the curse has devoured the Earth, And those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, And few men are left.

“Fire” is frequent in the last seven years (e.g., Revelation 8:5; 14:10). “Few men are left” matches nicely with Jesus’ description of the Great Tribulation, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive”(Matthew 24:22). 

We are not “those who dwell on the Earth.” 

We are the Church – the bride of Christ.

Jesus promised the church in Philadelphia (the one in Turkey, not Pennsylvania), “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from [meaning out of, not safe through] the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth (Revelation 3:10).

This cannot be a promise unique to one first century church. Otherwise, the Philadelphians would be in Heaven, while the rest of the Church was on Earth.

People like to say that the church needs to be purified, made ready. Please listen carefully to these words of Jesus, talking about His bride. “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27). 

We are purified by Jesus through the Word of God, not the Great Tribulation.

For sure, every generation of Christians, from the Day of Pentecost forward, has faced persecution. Jesus said we would have “tribulation” in the world, but that is tribulation with a little ‘t’, not the Great Tribulation.

Isa 24:7  The new wine fails, the vine languishes, All the merry-hearted sigh.

Isa 24:8  The mirth of the tambourine ceases, The noise of the jubilant ends, The joy of the harp ceases.

Isa 24:9  They shall not drink wine with a song; Strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.

This is what I mean when I say, “They haven’t a song.” No date nights; no clubbing; no save the date; no parting like it’s the end of the world. No karaoke. The unsaved will have an impending sense of doom. 

You find out your source of joy pretty quickly when some great trouble comes upon you. Death, disease, disaster, and the like – they reveal what is in the heart. You prepare by cultivating your relationship with Jesus so that, when “IT” happens, the joy of the Lord is like a spiritual adrenaline as you rush to Jesus first and foremost. 

Isa 24:10  The city of confusion [the desolate city] is broken down; Every house is shut up, so that none may go in.

Isa 24:11  There is a cry for wine in the streets, All joy is darkened, The mirth of the land is gone.

Isa 24:12  In the city desolation is left, And the gate is stricken with destruction.

Babylon makes the most sense in the context. We know future Babylon will be utterly destroyed and inhabited only by demons. 

Isa 24:13  When it shall be thus in the midst of the land among the people, It shall be like the shaking of an olive tree, Like the gleaning of grapes when the vintage is done.

“The people,” meaning the surviving Gentiles, the Gentile nations. Gentiles will be held accountable under the everlasting Noahic Covenant. 

We often mention that God has a testimony of Himself to everyone on Earth, both in creation, and in our conscience. We need to add to that list the Noahic Covenant. Creation scientists tell us that every culture has a flood story. Thus they would have known what God told Noah about righteousness. 

Skip to the end of verse sixteen:

Isa 24:16  … But I said, “I am ruined, ruined! Woe to me! The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously, Indeed, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.”

The inhabitants of Tribulation Earth worship the antichrist – which is essentially worshipping Satan. They took on his characteristics, like “treachery.” You tend to become like whatever it is you idolize. 

Isa 24:17  Fear and the pit and the snare Are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth.

“Inhabitant of the Earth.” The Revelation in several places calls these “those who dwell on the Earth.” It is not something you would say to describe Jews or the Church.  

Isa 24:18  And it shall be That he who flees from the noise of the fear Shall fall into the pit, And he who comes up from the midst of the pit Shall be caught in the snare; For the windows from on high are open, And the foundations of the earth are shaken.

Isa 24:19  The earth is violently broken, The earth is split open, The earth is shaken exceedingly.

Isa 24:20  The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, And shall totter like a hut; Its transgression shall be heavy upon it, And it will fall, and not rise again.

A disaster film about the Tsunami from a few years ago showed one family just standing there, waiting for it. Survivalists are making plans to endure whatever might come. You hear about the wealthy elite having an escape plan, with long-term shelters. That might work for localized disasters. But in the Great Tribulation, you may as well stay put. You won’t be better off anywhere. 

There will be one exception: The Jews fleeing from the wrath of the antichrist will be safe, supernaturally protected. We think they will go to the rock fortress city of Petra. 

Isa 24:21  It shall come to pass in that day That the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones, And on the earth the kings of the earth.

Isa 24:22  They will be gathered together, As prisoners are gathered in the pit, And will be shut up in the prison; After many days they will be punished.

The “host of exalted ones” are supernatural. They are involved with “the kings of the Earth.” 

The Bible describes evil, malevolent, fallen, satanic supernatural angels that seek to influence the Gentile nations of Earth. We must keep that in mind as we survey the chaos in the world that he is ruling over. 

Isaiah says they will be punished by being incarcerated. Jude wrote, “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (v6). 

The rise of Adolf Hitler, the Third Reich, all of that Nazi stuff, only makes some kind of spiritual sense when we factor for satanic influence behind the nations. Any murderous dictator, or genocidal maniac. It isn’t to say, “Satan made me do it.” But His influence cannot be overlooked or underestimated. 

Let’s pause to remember that the Time of Jacob’s Trouble will feature the greatest global evangelistic movement ever: 

  • God will provide and protect 144,000 Jewish evangelists to preach the Gospel to the whole Earth.
  • God will provide and protect, for a time, two special witnesses to preach the Gospel to the whole Earth.
  • A mighty angel will fly through the Heavens preaching the Gospel to the whole Earth. 

You know who isn’t named preaching the Gospel to the whole Earth? The Church. Odd, isn’t it, since we were given the Great Commission? We won’t be on Earth. 

The evangelism will produce multitudes of genuine conversions to Jesus. Believers will, for the most part, be martyred. 

#2 – You Have Reason To Sing If You Are In Jesus (v14-16 & 23)

No joy… No wine… No mirth… But wait; Do you hear something???

Isa 24:14  They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing; For the majesty of the LORD They shall cry aloud from the sea.

We know this is not in eternity, because the Revelation tells us that, then, “there will be no more sea” (21:1). This isn’t praise in Heaven, but on Earth. This is praise during that dark, deadly hour.

Isa 24:15  Therefore glorify the LORD in the dawning light, The name of the LORD God of Israel in the coastlands of the sea.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, 

Doth not all nature around me praise God? If I were silent, I should be an exception to the universe. Doth not the thunder praise Him as it rolls like drums in the march of the God of armies? Do not the mountains praise Him when the woods upon their summits wave in adoration? Doth not the lightning write His name in letters of fire? Hath not the whole earth a voice? And shall I, can I, silent be?

Isa 24:16  From the ends of the Earth we have heard songs: “Glory to the righteous!” 

I have a piece of advice for you, whenever you find yourself in trouble, in the midst of a trial, with everything closing in upon you, where there is no way out and you feel paralyzed. 

Sing; sing praise songs.

We tell believers to read the Word, and to pray. You need to sing, too. The apostle Paul commanded, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). 

Paul ‘walked the walk.’ In Philippi, falsely imprisoned deep in the dank, dreary, dark, disagreeable, daunting, depressing, disheartening, disgusting dungeon, we read of Paul and Silas that “at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).  

Isa 24:23  Then the moon will be disgraced And the sun ashamed; For the LORD of hosts will reign On Mount Zion and in Jerusalem And before His elders, gloriously.

“Elders” are in Heaven, mentioned no less than twelve times. There are twenty-four of them. Pre-Trib commentators go to great lengths to ‘prove’ they are the resurrected and raptured Church in Heaven. I can’t think of anyplace where the Church is synonymous with Elders. Churches on Earth have Pastors, Elders, and Deacons. Israel, too, had Elders. But there is nothing to help us id these guys as the Church. The Revelation often tells us what is meant by certain signs or names, but not here. 

The Church most assuredly is resurrected and raptured before God’s wrath falls upon Earth. The twenty-four Elders, however, are most likely supernaturals who have their own ministry to God and to His throne. 

Have you ever been chastised by a pastor or worship leader about not ‘worshipping’ with enough exuberance? It’s ugly. I don’t know what is in a person’s heart. We want to reveal to believers what the Bible teaches, then give opportunity to participate in it. 

Having said that… We read that the glory of Jesus will outshine the moon and the sun. 

I’ve got a home in gloryland that outshines the sun,

I’ve got a home in gloryland that outshines the sun,

I’ve got a home in gloryland that outshines the sun,

way beyond the blue.

Do Lord, oh do Lord, oh do remember me,

Do Lord, oh do Lord, oh do remember me,

Do Lord, oh do Lord, oh do remember me,

way beyond the blue.

Prophecy Update #744 – WHO Wants To Be First

Christians are encouraged to look for to “the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). We are encouraged to look forward to tomorrow, living with the awareness Jesus could come today.

One of the ways we look forward to tomorrow is to consider the hundreds of unfulfilled prophecies in the Bible. We can expect the world to be moving in the direction predicted for the End Times.

We reserve a few minutes Sunday morning to suggest news, or trends, that seem to be predicted by our futurist reading of the Bible.

To avoid sensationalism, we are careful to use recognized, reliable sources for news.

We’re not saying the things we report are the fulfillment of prophecy. We’re saying that they are the things you’d expect to be happening in the build- up to the future seven year Great Tribulation.

The Bible describes the future government of the Earth to be global. Global government, global economy, with power residing in one coalition of nations, then in one man – the antichrist. 

Certain powerful people are trying to rush global government along. They say it is for our own good that we surrender national sovereignty. 

Case in point: I read an article titled, Largely Unnoticed, WHO Moves Forward With Global Governance Plan.


Former congresswoman Michele Bachmann sounded the alarm Monday about developments coming out of the World Health Assembly that suggest that the World Health Organization (WHO) is intent on establishing “a platform for global governance through health care” in the wake of the COVID pandemic.

Observers are also pointing out that the Biden administration is working to enable the organization to “centralize authority not just for pandemics, but for any health emergency in the hands of the director-general.”

“There’s a dual track process that they’re following,” Bachman explained. “One is through a global pandemic treaty that they’re calling an accord.’ The second is through a package of about 300 amendments to the international health rules. Both lead to the same result. Both lead to the creation of a platform for global governance through health care. And it is a web that locks us in … the likes of which we’ve never seen before.”

Bachmann then laid out the WHO’s plans going forward. “One year from this week, they will take a vote. And so they intend to vote for a platform for global government and to give themselves the power that no one has ever seen before.”

“I heard from Secretary Xavier Becerra, the head of our Health and Human Services [who] said he wants more ‘bio surveillance,’ in other words, surveillance of our bodies. And then they want to share that data with everyone else in the world. This is highly invasive. They were very clear today. They want very bold language. They intend to have surveillance over every citizen on earth, and they intend to control us through health care.”

They’ve got this concept they talked about today called ‘One Health.’ They’ve got graphics on it that show humans, animals, the Earth – ‘One Health.’ So when decisions are made about health care, they have to take into account the Earth and what the impact would be on climate change.

At the same time, she underscored, the WHO’s emphasis seems to be on “equity” rather than innovations in medicine.

The number one word that they use besides ‘urgent’ was ‘equity.’ They want to have equal outcomes for everyone on earth with universal health care. And for those countries that are producing health products, they need to produce more health products and give them away to the world.”

We are witnessing the stage-setting for the seven year Time of Jacob’s Trouble, the Great Tribulation, that is described in the last book of the Bible.

We will not be on Earth during that terrible Time of Jacob’s Trouble. The resurrection and rapture of the church are imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it.

Jesus will come, in the clouds, and raise the dead believers of the Church Age. He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies.

We will join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

Stick To The Savior (Ephesians 2:6-10)

Ephesians 2:6-10 – He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. 

Delo Adhesive makes the strongest glues in the world. In 2019 they used one teaspoon of their Monopox glue to lift a truck weighing 38,000 pounds off the ground with a crane for an hour, setting a Guinness world record. Quite a feat for a little bit of glue. 

In the opening chapters of Ephesians, Paul talks about what a great feat salvation is. He’s been showing its amazing scope in the past, present, and future. As he wraps up this section of thought, he gives us insight into the nuts and bolts of how a person receives God’s salvation. It will culminate in that familiar verse: “You are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift.”

All the power and the blessings and the relief and the promises and the eternal inheritance we’ve been reading about since the book began are part of the fantastically generous work of a gracious God Whose. It’s all a gift held out to each human being on earth who can receive it by faith. 

What is faith? We often think of it as believing certain truths. But, faith is more than an intellectual recognition that God exists. There are plenty of things I “believe” but don’t care about. I believe the clocks are three hours ahead on the east coast, but it makes no difference to me. I believe that if I exercised more I would be healthier, but apparently I don’t believe it enough to do it.

The faith that lays hold of salvation is not like that. The Bible describes it as something we walk in and live by. We’re told that without faith it is impossible to please God. And then that passage goes on to describe a faithful person as one who not only believes that God exists, but draws near to Him and seeks Him, obeying what God says as it is revealed.

Klyne Snodgrass writes, “Faith has an adhesive quality to it; it binds the believer to the one who is believed. Salvation does not come from believing ideas or an emotional decision, but from being bound to Christ.”

This is why, on the one hand, you can see a person like Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8 “believing” certain ideas, yet not being truly saved. His heart didn’t stick to Christ. On the other hand, we see a Apollos in Acts 18 with great passion and zeal for Jesus, yet needing to be instructed more accurately in truth. Apollos was bound to Christ, though he lacked significant knowledge. 

As Paul brings this section to a close, we should be encouraged to have a stickiness in our faith – sticking to the Savior and sticking to His plan for our lives as we grow in strength and knowledge.

Ephesians 2:6 –  He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus,

God wants us to totally adhere to Christ now and forever. Paul talks about us being in Christ and walking with Him. Elsewhere we’re told to let His mind be in us. This letter talks about how Christ and His Church are like a Head and a Body. God’s desire is total attachment between us and Him.

We have here more of that now-and-not-yet tension that we’ve seen before. Paul speaks in the past tense: We’re already raised up, already seated with Christ. It’s done. There’s no stopping this ultimate result. Of course, despite this being immutable fact, most of the time we feel far from this reality. We recognize that salvation is working out in the present as we progress toward the final fulfillment. It’s a process. That term raised is defined by Strong’s as being “revivified spiritually, in resemblance to” the Lord. We are being conformed into the image of Christ as God accomplishes salvation in us. Don’t get me wrong – if you’re a Christian, you’re saved. You don’t have to ripen to a certain level in order to get into heaven. But the process continues on and on from now till glory. 

Meanwhile, since God has raised us and seated us with Christ, that means we have authority now. We have blessings now. We have power now. We are no longer subject to death. We are dead to sin. We can overcome any temptation. We can walk as children of light.

Verse 6 also has important ramifications for our lives, many of which Paul is going to explain in the coming chapters. Because we are raised up and seated with Christ our relationships and our goals and our attitudes are going to be very different than what they were. Paul said to the Colossians, “Since you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” There is a total perspective shift, a total change in the orientation of our lives.

Ephesians 2:7 – so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 

God is going to put the Church on display in eternity. That is a mind-boggling revelation, but this verse has a lot of encouragement tucked inside of it. 

The first is that you are a display piece. Some of you are collectors. Your collection might be quite large, but you probably have a piece or two that is the crown jewel – the one you wouldn’t ever part with. For God, that is saved humanity. Think of all the creatures, all the cosmos, all the expansive accomplishments that an all-powerful God could amass for Himself. In eternity, He’s going to put you on display as His prize possession. 

We also can see an important aspect of God’s personality. He wants to display His kindness. Dane Ortlund writes, There is “one place in the Bible where the Son of God pulls back the veil and lets us peer way down into the core of who He is, and we are not told He is ‘austere and demanding in heart.’ We are not told that He is, ‘exalted and dignified in heart.’ Letting Jesus set the terms, His surprising claim is that He is ‘gentle and lowly in heart.’” And we see the Father’s desire to display kindness forever and ever through us and to us. He will keep showing us kindness in eternity.

But now we remind ourselves what Paul has already said – that Christ is the Head and we are the Body empowered by God to display Christ to a lost and dying world. What does God want on display? His kindness in Christ Jesus. 

Kindness means love in tender action. Now, Christ’s love was never divorced from the truth or calling sinners to repentance – it always included those things – but we want to take this reminder to heart. We are the Body, called to represent and imitate Christ. Therefore a faithful Church and a faithful Christian will be tender and kind as they move through the world. Not perfectly, because we are still sinners, but in a cultivated and growing, fruitful way.

Ephesians 2:8 – For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—

What is God’s gift? Scholars debate this. Is grace the gift? Is faith the gift? There are some Calvinistic interpreters that say the gift Paul is talking about is faith, meaning you have no free choice in the course of salvation. By the way, that was not how John Calvin interpreted this verse.

Contextually and grammatically, Paul is saying that salvation is the gift God gives. His point is that there is absolutely nothing a person can do to earn, merit, or bid for salvation. Every world religion is based on the idea that salvation is earned. I work off my debt, I show God I am worth saving, I claw my way into Paradise through one effort or another and thereby my reward is salvation. 

That’s not Christianity. Salvation is not won by keeping the Law or being baptized or converting a certain number of people or by speaking in tongues or by any other activity to show God how serious you are. Salvation is a gift of grace, offered to those who in no way deserve it. 

For something to actually be a gift, it must be given out of love and generosity. We’ve all bought what we called “gifts” for an event we didn’t want to go to, but in reality those weren’t gifts – they were obligations. God’s gift of salvation is something He wants to give. And the way a person receives it is through faith. 

Here is another quote about Biblical faith: Faith is “relying on something or someone believed [to be] reliable…Faith is relational, describing reliance on a reliable God. Faith is…[covenantal]…expressing the commitment and trust that bind two parties together.”

The Bible goes out of its way to say that faith is not a work. There are those who criticize the idea that people can exercise faith to receive salvation. They say, “That’s a work!” But it isn’t. In Romans 4, Paul explicitly talks about how faith is not a work, especially when it comes to receiving a gift. If I did an Oprah thing and said, “Everyone look under their seat and there are keys to a brand new car for each of you,” would any of you leave this place saying, “I, in my power, got myself a new car!”

It’s also important for us to note that there’s not a magical amount of faith that merits you salvation. How much faith did the thief of the cross have? A few minutes before he died he was blaspheming the Son of God. But then he stopped and believed and said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” He knew so little, but it was enough because he adhered himself to the Lord.

Our faith is meant to grow and deepen and strengthen. But to receive the gift of salvation the bar is pretty low, thank God! We remember how Jesus was blown away at how much faith a centurion had. He said, “This is the biggest faith I’ve seen.” But it’s not a competition. I remember in 8th grade science our teacher set up an experiment to test lung capacity. It was one of those machines where you blow and it lifts up the ping pong ball. Everyone in the class did it and, because I’m so full of hot air, I won. It was, I think, the only physical contest I’ve ever won in life. But receiving salvation isn’t dependent on having faith strong enough to hold up the ping pong ball for however long. Remember – this gift is offered to us generously and graciously by a God Who wants us to have it.

William Arp writes, “Grace is the basic ingredient in God’s dealing with mankind; everything else comes from and builds on grace.” God is a lavish gift-giver. He wants people to have salvation.

Ephesians 2:9 – not from works, so that no one can boast. 

No works, period. R. Kent Hughes says, “If salvation came by works, eternity would spawn a fraternity of…chest-thumping boasters — an endless line of celestial Pharisees.” But Jesus was clear to the Pharisees, especially, “Your boasting is a problem. You guys are not headed toward the Kingdom unless you actually get saved!” And many of them did in the book of Acts. 

Just as salvation is not won by works, neither is it maintained by works. Now, in a moment we’re going to see that good works, spiritual works, are to be the focus of our lives, but you do not do works in order to hold onto salvation. God is the One Who holds you tight in His grip of grace. 

Paul reminds us here of our fallen nature, that human propensity to boast and to class ourselves above other people. Ephesians reveals that we’re all equal – we’re all dead in trespasses and sins. Now, having been saved, Paul is going to show how we’re all equal in God’s sight and equal recipients of His love and grace and power. So, Christians should not be boasters in ourselves anything we’ve done. It’s wholly inappropriate. “So let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord., For it is not the one commending himself who is approved, but the one the Lord commends.”

Ephesians 2:10 – 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. 

The word “workmanship” means “masterpiece.” What an astonishing thing to consider: The stars, the heavens, the planets in orbit – those are just God’s handiwork, but Christians are His masterwork.

A born again Christian is a magnificently unique creature. In fact, they alone are the double created – the twice baked potatoes of the spiritual world. In all seriousness, first, as a human being, you are created in the image of God. A human being is not an animal. They are a special creation, set apart from all others, both natural and supernatural. And then, to be born again means you are made into a new creation, the second birth. And that brings you into this masterpiece category. 

The term Paul uses here also means “work of art.” Salvation is more than a clean up, more than a remodel, more than a repurposing, more than an upgrade. It is the greatest work of the greatest Artist. 

Once, while Michelangelo was pounding away on a great, shapeless rock, someone asked him what he was doing. His reported answer was, “I’m liberating an angel from this stone.” In a much more profound way, God is shaping us. Chipping away edges. Bringing life where there was death. Bringing out the image of His Son through our lives in a beautiful, meticulous, artful way.

That work sometimes takes a great deal of time. Michelangelo took 3 years to carve his statue of David. He wasn’t the artist originally hired for the job. In fact, he was the third. The second fellow took a look at the block of marble that was to be used and said the quality was too poor and quit. For decades that slab sat out in the elements until Michelangelo finally took up the chisel. A number of years later, an Italian artist and biographer described Michelangelo’s work on David as, “the bringing back to life of one who was dead.

This is what God has done for us in salvation. To put us on display as the masterpiece of His art. But, unlike the David, we’re made for more than standing in a room. Paul closes this section by telling us we were “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” 

We’re not saved by works, but we are definitely saved for works. God says He has special activities for each of us – things He’s planned specifically for us to discover and accomplish. Ok, so does that mean I’ve got some checklist? A spiritual “to-do” list in order to be a “good” Christian? 

The NKJV renders this phrase: “created for good works…that we should walk in them.” The ISV puts it this way, “works…to be our way of life.” God isn’t giving us quotas, He’s giving us a new life to live. This is what you do now, instead of bearing the fruit of the Devil, you bear the fruit of the Spirit. 

So, how do I discover these particular plans God has prepared beforehand for me? Hebrews 13 tells us that the God of peace will Shepherd us and equip us with everything good to do His will. As we walk with Him, sticking closely to His heart and His mind and His word, we discover where He wants to lead us and which opportunities He has set aside for us. 

And so, Paul encourages us to walk in this new life. To have a sticky faith that understands more and more what salvation really is and responds by adhering to Christ and staying on the path He has placed us on. To walk out of our graves of sin and shame and temptation and walk in the newness of that resurrection power. 

Sometimes I forget that when Jesus rose from the dead, Matthew 27 tells us that there were a number of saints who also rose and came out of their tombs and went into Jerusalem, appearing to many people. Imagine if they would’ve said, “I’m good. Gonna just stay here in my tomb.” What a waste that would’ve been! No, they were raised and came out for a good work. 

Many of you are fans of Elf. Remember that sad moment where Buddy has his etch-a-sketch and he has this itinerary planned out of things he wants to do with his dad. He has it because he loves his dad and just wants to spend time with him. His dad just dismisses him and says, “I’ve gotta go to work, Buddy.” He has no interest in Buddy’s plans and as viewers we see the heartbreak. 

The Lord has plans for us that flow from His kindness and grace and affection and tenderness for us. Paul gives us this perspective and says, “Here’s what God has been doing for you since before time began, here’s what He’s doing now, here’s the certain goal He is bringing you to.” So stick to the Savior and stick to His plan. You may feel like you only have a teaspoon of faith, but that is enough because it is God who works His power through you. All we have to do is receive His grace and submit ourselves to this ongoing process of salvation and He will finish His masterwork in us.

Goodness, Gracious, Great Falls Of Tyre (Isaiah 23:1-18)

Emperor Palpatine is the embodiment of the “man behind the man.”  

His influence extended far beyond what the public and even the Jedi initially perceived. Through careful planning, manipulation, and a deep understanding of the Force, he orchestrated his rise to power, ultimately becoming the tyrannical ruler of the galaxy.

Another example of the “man behind the man,” a comedic one, would be the Wizard of Oz. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” 

We can’t fully appreciate what Isaiah has to say about the city of Tyre unless we acknowledge the “man behind the man.” 

Except, in this case, the “man” wasn’t a man; It was Satan.

  • The prophet Ezekiel describes “the prince of Tyre,” saying things like, “you say, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, In the midst of the seas,’ Yet you are a man, and not a god, Though you set your heart as the heart of a god,” and “But you shall be a man, and not a god, In the hand of him who slays you” (28:2&9). Historians tell us this was Ithobaal III of Tyre. 
  • Then Ezekiel describes “the king of Tyre,” saying things like, “Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God… You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you” (28:12-15). 

It seems Satan lived in Tyre for a while. He apparently moved after the fall of Tyre because we are told in the Revelation he had his throne in the city of Pergamos.

Commentator Andrew Davis writes, “Isaiah speaks an oracle against the wealthy, powerful trading city of Tyre, a symbol for the worldly lust for material things that still dominates our world.”

Our own “worldly lust for material things” will be under the proverbial microscope.

I will organize my comments around two points: #1 The Wealth Satan Offers You A Harlot, and #2 The Wealth Jesus Gives You Is Holiness. 

#1 – The Wealth Satan Offers You Is A Harlot (v1-17)

Satan is the devil behind the man in the city of Tyre. Though he is not named, he was the King of Tyre.

In verse one and in verse fourteen Isaiah repeats the phrase, “Wail, you ships of Tarshish.” That bracketing alerts us the first fourteen verses are about a single event, a particular fall of Tyre. 

The city was conquered by Assyria, Babylon, and Greece under Alexander the Great. Others, too. Which fall are we looking at? 

Tyre will recover “after seventy years” and then fall again. When Babylon conquered Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah indicated the captivity would last “seventy years.” They conquered Tyre at approximately the same time they conquered Jerusalem. Seventy years later, Babylon would fall to the Medo-Persian Empire. 

King Cyrus would issue a decree that the Jews were free to return to Jerusalem. It makes sense that other conquered peoples would also be released. Thus we are to understand that in these fourteen verses, we see Tyre’s fall to Babylon.  

Isa 23:1  The burden against Tyre. Wail, you ships of Tarshish! For it is laid waste, So that there is no house, no harbor; From the land of Cyprus it is revealed to them.

Not sure how “the ships of Tarshish” received news of world events. Could be they encountered ships from Tyre as they were on their way there. 

News now is instantaneous. We can watch, on our phones, live events anywhere on Earth. It is a fulfillment of prophecy. In the Revelation, we read about the two witnesses of God, who travel the globe during the first 3½ years of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. They are eventually killed by the antichrist, but as their dead bodies lay in the city of Jerusalem, life returns to them, they ascend to Heaven, while the entire Earth watches.

We’ve seen the potential to spread disinformation and misinformation. With the ability to produce deep fakes that are impossible to debunk, soon we won’t be able to trust any news. 

Satan is a liar. What stronger lies than to create your own truth? Mass amounts of people can be mobilized by the technologies of today. It’s a liars paradise.  

Isa 23:2  Be still, you inhabitants of the coastland, You merchants of Sidon, Whom those who cross the sea have filled.

Commerce came to a sudden “be still-ness.” COVID19 gave us a taste of that, as cargo ships backed-up in harbors waiting to be ‘approved’ for entry. It spread fear as shelves were laid bare, stocking up on goods. It was a dramatic example of worrying about tomorrow, which is a lack of trust in the Lord. 

Isa 23:3  And on great waters the grain of Shihor, The harvest of the River [the Nile], is her revenue; And she is a marketplace for the nations.

Egypt depended upon Tyre to carry her harvests. In general, it’s not a good idea to have a dependence on only one source. Too volatile. Satan loves it because it leads to compromise of values. You end up doing business with shady characters. 

Isa 23:4  Be ashamed, O Sidon; For the sea has spoken, The strength of the sea, saying, “I do not labor, nor bring forth children; Neither do I rear young men, Nor bring up virgins.” 

Albert Barnes wrote, 

The sense is, “My wealth and resources are gone. My commerce is annihilated. I cease to plant cities and colonies, and to nourish and foster them, as I once did, by my trade.” The idea of the whole verse is, that the city which had been the mistress of the commercial world, and distinguished for founding other cities and colonies, was about to lose her importance, and to cease to extend her colonies and her influence over other countries. Over this fact, Sidon, the mother and founder of Tyre herself, would be humbled and grieved that her daughter, so proud, so rich, and so magnificent, was brought so low. 

Tyre was called, “the strength of the sea,” on account of its situation. Tyre was on the coast, but farther out, they also occupied an island fortress. Think Alcatraz & San Francisco. Her situation made it seemingly impossible to conquer them. Assyria, then Babylon would conquer the coastal city, but the island was untouched. 

Isa 23:5  When the report reaches Egypt, They also will be in agony at the report of Tyre.

Isa 23:6  Cross over to Tarshish; Wail, you inhabitants of the coastland!

Isa 23:7  Is this your joyous city, Whose antiquity is from ancient days, Whose feet carried her far off to dwell?

They had a proud heritage, and a long history. Then, suddenly, it was too late to repent.

No Gentile nation can look back at its heritage, no matter how godly, and think God will overlook their ongoing, unrepentant sin. 

It was the custom of those days to chain together captives and lead them naked on foot to the land of their captors. 

Isa 23:8  Who has taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, Whose merchants are princes, Whose traders are the honorable of the earth?

Tyre was admired by the nations of Earth. They were treated like royalty, wined & dined. Who counseled Babylon to destroy the coastal city?

Isa 23:9  The LORD of hosts has purposed it, To bring to dishonor the pride of all glory, To bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth.

The destruction of Tyre traceable to the LORD. It was His doing. He ‘owns’ it, as we say. 

God chooses Gentile nations to carry out His will on Earth. Instead of remaining humble, pointing to God and away from themselves, they say, “Look what we have built.”

Success, being blessed, prosperity is a much greater threat to you than buffeting and bankruptcy. 

The merchant activity swelled them with “the pride of all glory.” 

Ezekiel tells us this about Satan: “Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor” (28:17). Satan wanted to be like God. We would say that pride seeks glory; they go hand-in-hand 

We want credit; we want recognition. Decreasing so that Jesus can increase goes against our pride. Satan exploits that. He may not offer us all the kingdoms of the world as he did Jesus. But he has a way of appealing to us right where it’s sin. 

Isa 23:10  Overflow through your land like the River, O daughter of Tarshish; There is no more strength.

I’m sure you’ve been following the rising of Tulare Lake. Keep that situation in prayer. If levees and barriers prove insufficient, water is going to flow. 

Once the last defenses were breached, the inhabitants of coastal Tyre would pour forth from their city like an overflowing lake.

Those who survived would take refuge in Tarshish. The city would have “no strength,” meaning it was conquered. 

Isa 23:11  He stretched out His hand over the sea, He shook the kingdoms; The LORD has given a commandment against Canaan To destroy its strongholds.

This mention of God’s hand reminded me of a Star Trek original series episode. A huge energy field in the shape of a glowing green hand appears and grabs the Enterprise. The “hand of God” is a metaphor that suggests omnipotence controlled by compassion as God sovereignly provides for His plans to move forward. 

Isaiah’s mention of “Canaan” refers to Judah, Jerusalem in particular. 

Isa 23:12  And He said, “You will rejoice no more, O you oppressed virgin daughter of Sidon. Arise, cross over to Cyprus; There also you will have no rest.”

This is a bitter analogy. The citizens of Tyre would be like a young virgin who had been assaulted. Many would seek safety in Cyprus, but they would “have no rest.”

There are, at minimum, over one hundred million refugees in the world today. Another thirty million abductees are being trafficked. It is just the kind of suffering Satan loves to inflict on God’s creation. 

Isa 23:13  Behold, the land of the Chaldeans, This people which was not; Assyria founded it for wild beasts of the desert. They set up its towers, They raised up its palaces, And brought it to ruin.

The names “Babylon” and “Chaldea” are often interchanged. The Chaldeans were the populace of the kingdom of Babylon. 

Didn’t Assyria come before Babylon as a world power, and get conquered by Babylon? Yes, but not before Assyria had ruled over the Chaldeans for a time.

We need to be reminded that Isaiah was writing 150 years before Babylon was the world power. At the time, Assyria was dominant over Babylon. The fact that Babylon was not powerful at the time Isaiah spoke made the prophecy all the more remarkable. 

God is not arbitrary. He doesn’t ‘use’ nations only to discard them once they are no longer needed. He, in fact, wants them to walk in His righteousness. “The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it” (Jeremiah 18:7-10). 

Isa 23:14  Wail, you ships of Tarshish! For your strength is laid waste.

Some of their merchant ships must have been in the harbor of Tyre. They were destroyed alongside those of Tyre. Collateral damage. 

You might be familiar with the line, “You ride with outlaws, you die with outlaws.” Think about your ‘posse’ so you don’t get caught in some crossfire or stand-off.

Isa 23:15  At the end of seventy years it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the harlot:

Isa 23:16  “Take a harp, go about the city, You forgotten harlot; Make sweet melody, sing many songs, That you may be remembered.”

Isa 23:17  And it shall be, at the end of seventy years, that the LORD will deal with Tyre. She will return to her hire, and commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth.

Tyre would have seventy years to contemplate the pride that had caused her downfall, and to repent. She would, however, immediately return to all the trappings of her former life, prostituting herself for possessions and power. She would fall harder. 

We mentioned Alexander the Great. He figured it out. High on speed, he would raze the coastal city, then use its debris to build a causeway to the island. Tyre’s 30,000 inhabitants were either massacred or sold into slavery. 

Tyre would remove their treasures and valuables to the island during a siege of the coastal town. Their wealth was secure… Until it wasn’t.

Financial security is an illusion. I’m not saying it happens to everyone, but Satan loves to get you engrossed in your earthly future, then rob your money. If things go, the way, they currently are, one morning we are going to wake up to find that the government has seized all of our assets. It’s all part of what the Bible says will happen in the future.

Warning signage is important. I’ve discovered an Instagram account named OSHA Is it safe? It shows folks doing all manner of unsafe things. The signs may say Flammable, or High Voltage, but workers ignore them, cutting corners, at their own peril.

Everything about our world should bear the warning,Touched by a Fallen Angel. 

Since the devil is described as a murderer, a liar, and a thief, it should occur to you that he is constantly attempting to rob you, to lie to you, and to kill you. Or, like we sometimes say, to do something worse that kill you. 

We are commanded and encouraged and empowered to, “Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). We resist him by holding our ground wearing the armor of God. If he seems to be gaining ground on you, check your armor. Maybe you forgot to use the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and preferred some carnal method… Or you left your breastplate of righteousness at home so you could dabble with sin.  

#2 – The Wealth Jesus Gives You Is Holiness (v18)

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That we need to read Psalm 45:12. “And the daughter of Tyre will come with a gift; The rich among the people will seek your favor.” 

Tyre is invited to a king’s royal wedding and brings a gift. The way Psalm 45 is quoted in the New Testament reveals it as a type. 

The King is a type of Jesus, the bride is His Church.

I should pause to give a quick overview of the future as presented in the Bible:

  • Jesus is coming to resurrect the dead believers of this Church Age. Those of us who are alive when he comes will be raptured, immediately transformed into our eternal bodies. We accompany Jesus, to Heaven, to the place He has prepared for us.
  • At some point after the resurrection, the world leader we call the antichrist will sign a peace pact with Israel. It marks the official start of the Great Tribulation. We prefer to call those seven years, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. That is the name Jeremiah gave it to emphasize its purpose, to bring all Israel to salvation.
  • At the end of the seven years, the Lord Jesus returns to defeat the armies of Earth gathered in Megiddo for the Battle of Armageddon. We come with Him. 
  • The Lord establishes the Kingdom of God on Earth promised to Israel. A one-thousand year kingdom of peace and prosperity ensues. 
  • Today, we are betrothed to Jesus; it is our engagement. After the rapture, we will be wed to Him. At His Seconds Coming, we will feast on Earth with Him. 

Psalm 45 is a Jesus-is-coming psalm. It describes the majestic beauty and righteousness of the King and His eternal kingdom. The psalm celebrates the King’s marriage to a beautiful bride, representing the union between Christ and His Church. It also foretells the King’s victorious rule over His enemies, bringing judgment and establishing His kingdom on Earth, the future Millennium. The psalm exudes hope, praise, and anticipation for the triumphant reign of Jesus in the age to come. 

Tyre is mentioned, “And the daughter of Tyre will come with a gift; The rich among the people will seek your favor.” (v12)

Tyre will be a Millennial nation. 

With that fuller understanding, we read Isaiah 23:18, “Her gain and her pay will be set apart for the LORD; it will not be treasured nor laid up, for her gain will be for those who dwell before the LORD, to eat sufficiently, and for fine clothing.”

I think this is about the human subjects of Tyre in the Millennium.

They will serve as caterers and tailors for the human subjects of the future Kingdom on Earth. 

Let’s key in on, “Her gain and her pay will be set apart for the LORD; it will not be treasured nor laid up…” No one will need a savings account, or investments, or pensions. Their labor will be its own reward. They will bask in the joy of serving others. 

That can’t happen in our current dispensation. It can’t happen until Jesus is ruling, and Satan is confined. Today he is the ruler of this world. In the future Millennium, the devil will be bound and incarcerated.

There are things we can do now that embrace the spirit of future Tyre:

We can seek first the Kingdom of God… Not worry about tomorrow… Store up treasures in Heaven… Live to earn eternal rewards at the Judgment Seat of Jesus… Always build for God using the very best spiritual materials… See ourselves as stewards in God’s household on Earth… Give to God’s work regularly, sacrificially, and cheerfully… Etc., etc. 

The NKJV says “set apart,” but most versions say, “will be holy.” Set apart is the definition of “holy.” True wealth is to belong to the Lord, set apart for Him and therefore holy, enjoying all spiritual blessings.

The final phrase is, “… for her gain will be for those who dwell before the LORD, to eat sufficiently, and for fine clothing.” The word “gain,” according to Strong’s Concordance, means “profit from merchandise.” Tyre, once rich from trade and commerce, will find true profit & wealth in giving everything to others. The “gain of giving” I guess we could call it.  

I’ll close with quotes about this kind of giving from five saints:

  • Cory Ten Boom said, “The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.” 
  • Henry Drummond said, “The most obvious lesson in Christ’s teaching is that there is no happiness in having or getting anything, but only in giving.”
  • Adrian Rogers: “It’s what you sow that multiplies, not what you keep in the barn.”
  • Randy Alcorn: “God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.”
  • George Muellar: “God judges what we give by what we keep.”

Here is a bonus quote from Tim Keller, who went home to be with the Lord this past week:

“The human heart is an idol factory that takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them.”

Prophecy Update #743 – What Homeless Crisis?

Christians are encouraged to look for to “the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). We are encouraged to look forward to tomorrow, living with the awareness Jesus could come today.

One of the ways we look forward to tomorrow is to consider the hundreds of unfulfilled prophecies in the Bible. We can expect the world to be moving in the direction predicted for the End Times.

We reserve a few minutes Sunday morning to suggest news, or trends, that seem to be predicted by our futurist reading of the Bible.

To avoid sensationalism, we are careful to use recognized, reliable sources for news.

We’re not saying the things we report are the fulfillment of prophecy. We’re saying that they are the things you’d expect to be happening in the build- up to the future seven year Great Tribulation.

Governments are going green in a big way. World leaders have prioritized climate change over just about any other function of government. It is proving disastrous. 

Case in point, a recent news story was titled, South Africa slashed emissions and beat their climate goals and the country is about to cease to exist as a result.


South Africa, against all odds, managed to reach their Paris Agreement climate goals.

The nation has already slashed enough emissions to have reduced output between 350 and 420 megatons of carbon dioxide by 2030, meeting their goal of between 398 and 614 megatons. 

How did South Africa do what so few have been able to manage? By initiating a nationwide energy crisis with rolling blackouts due to a multitude of catastrophic technical failures at electrical stations. 

These power failures have brought the once-modern nation to its proverbial knees.

Power rationing is being conducted to keep the national grid from collapsing, leaving people without power for 10 hours or more per day.

Most of the people of South Africa have lost access to refrigeration, education, communication services, medical services, and work. Over two-thirds of businesses have laid off employees or closed because of the power outages. 

They are facing mass starvation, their businesses are failing, and they have little access to healthcare. But their falling emissions are saving the planet.

The green people keep bringing up the Earth’s population. They claim our planet cannot sustain 8b people. While no one wants to say it outright, the solution to the suggested over-population is euthanasia and assisted death:  

  • Euthanasia is the act of intentionally ending a life to relieve suffering. It is further described as voluntary, involuntary, active, or passive.
  • Intentionally helping another person to kill themselves is known as assisted death, or physician assisted death.

Canada is emerging as the world’s leader in murdering people. They call it, MAiD – Medical Assistance in Dying. Proponents originally said that assisted suicide would only be used in end-of-life circumstances to relieve the pain of the elderly. Then it expanded past the elderly to any adult who is dying painfully. Then it became ANYONE experiencing pain, including mental anguish, and that includes children.

Over 30,000 people have been assisted in dying since MAiD was first legalized in 2016.

 The most recent news is in an article titled, One-third of Canadians are fine with “prescribing” state-sponsored “suicide” for homeless people.


The poll also revealed that 73% of Canadians are big fans of the country’s current MAiD system, which allows people to commit suicide legally and medically for almost any excuse whatsoever.

For example, the current system recommends veterans commit suicide because they can’t get the government to take care of them by installing wheelchair ramps.

The poll disturbingly found that just over a quarter of Canadians think that poverty is a sufficient reason to apply for MAiD. Even more Canadians believe that homeless people should be automatically qualified for medically assisted suicide.

A full 20% also said you don’t need ANY reason to commit suicide by doctor.

Commenting on the statistics, the author wrote, “All it takes is a little crack in the door. If a third of Canadians think the homeless should qualify now, how long before it’s mandatory?”

This isn’t really about the climate. It is about control. The governments of the world are hurtling toward surrendering their individual sovereignty for the so-called “greater good” of the human race. 

The Bible describes the future government of the Earth to be global. Global government, global economy, with power residing in line group, then one man – the antichrist. 

We are witnessing the stage-setting for the seven year Time of Jacob’s Trouble, the Great Tribulation, that is described in the last book of the Bible

We will not be on Earth during that terrible Time of Jacob’s Trouble. The resurrection and rapture of the church are imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it.

Jesus will come, in the clouds, and raise the dead believers of the Church Age. He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies.

We will join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

The Walking Dead (Ephesians 2:1-5)

Ephesians 2:1-5 – And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!

Who doesn’t love a good rags-to-riches story? It’s especially enjoyable when it’s not just about money, but there’s a positive transformation for the character. Steve Rogers is a great example. His story starts with him being weak and sick and ineffectual, but then he is transformed. Steve is no longer the powerless kid getting beatdown by every passing bully. Now he’s Captain America, empowered to fight the good fight and win with a strength and vitality that seems impossible.

In our text tonight Paul gives us a rags-to-riches story. But it’s not really a superhero tale. It’s more in the zombie/horror genre. He speaks of the walking dead and dark powers that control the world and infect the people in it. But a hero emerges – it’s the God of the Bible – Who overcomes all this evil and turns back the fatal effects of sin, rescuing people and giving them new life. 

Paul still wants us to think about the significance of salvation because he’s convinced that will make a huge difference in our lives and our relationships with the Lord. In chapter 2, he has us think about how bad our prospects were before we were rescued by God’s grace. 

Ephesians 2:1 – And you were dead in your trespasses and sins

The problem couldn’t be more direct or more dire. You were dead. Not “you were less than ideal.” Not “you were sick.” You were dead! There’s no middle ground between life and death. If you’re dead, you don’t go to a doctor to try to get better. There’s nothing that can be done. 

Death wasn’t part of God’s original purpose for His creation. It came about through trespasses and sins. Adam and Eve were told very plainly, “If you eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in that day you will surely die.” They decided to go the death route instead of the obedience route, and so they brought sin and death into God’s perfect creation. All of Adam’s descendants inherit that death. And then we commit individual acts of rebellion and disobedience against God, because we are sinners and we are stuck in this state of death. 

This spiritual death is a big problem. We need help beyond diet and exercise. We need help beyond doctors or philosophers or the spiritualists of this world. The only thing that could possibly help us is if there was Someone Who had power over sin and could raise the dead back to life. But no human religion can do it. No regime can do it. No philosophy can do it. Because all of those things come from dead sinners, therefore they are also dead in sin. No, we need outside help.

As we’ve seen before, these opening chapters in Ephesians are hotly contested battlegrounds when it comes to Calvinistic doctrine. This verse in particular is often seized upon as proof that human beings have absolutely no part in the process of their salvation. You’ll hear quotes like, “Dead people can’t do anything.” “A dead man cannot exercise faith in Jesus Christ.” “A dead man cannot cooperate with an offer of healing.”

This leads to a shocking statement of doctrine held by Reformed scholars like R.C. Sproul who say, “Regeneration precedes faith.” That phrase is called the “essence of reformed theology.” And they will often point to Ephesians 2:1 and say, “There it is. You were dead. A dead man can do nothing, so God does everything with zero input or cooperation from the person.”

The problem is that assessment of this analogy doesn’t work in the context or in the rest of Scripture. Paul is going to say in verse 2, “you were dead…but here’s all the things you were doing. You were walking and pursuing passions and being energized by the devil.” The dead are very active in these verses. They do all sorts of things. 

Second, when Adam and Eve committed the very first sin, they were told “in the day you eat of it you will die.” God was right. They immediately died spiritually, they began to die physically, and they would’ve gone on to die eternally had God not intervened. But, even in their state of death, they were able to talk with God and answer Him and receive grace from Him. 

Third, when Jesus told the parable of the lost son, the father uses the very same word for dead that Paul uses here. It’s the word nekros. The father said, “This son of mine was dead and is alive again.” When did that transformation happen? When he “came to his senses” and chose to fall on his father’s mercy, asking for forgiveness.

Fourth, and this may be the most important. If this verse is saying, “You were dead, so you have absolutely no part in salvation, because a dead person can’t do anything,” then we run into a real problem when we get to Romans 6:11 which says that we Christians are dead to sin. Once again the same word. So, if the person in Ephesians 2 cannot act in faith toward God because they are dead in sin, how is it that we Christians are able to still disobey God if Romans tells us we are dead to sin? It’s a problem. It would suggest that if we sin we are not actually Christians. After all, to be in Christ is to be nekros to sin. 

Yes, human beings are dead in trespasses and sins. They are separated from God and totally unable to save themselves. But God frees the will in order to give us ability to either accept His offer of salvation by faith or to reject it. The majority of us here tonight have accepted this free gift and so we were dead. Now we’re alive. But if you are not a Christian, if you’ve never been born again, then you are dead in trespasses and sins. You may feel alive – You may feel like there is no problem, but the fact is this: You are dead! Sin is a fatal poison working its way through your life. You are like a zombie and there is no happy ending unless you are cured from your sin and death.

Ephesians 2:2 – in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient.

Zombies don’t know they’re zombies. They just stumble around doing whatever they do. That’s exactly what life is for those who aren’t Christians. But Paul goes deeper and reveals that, on top of being dead, the unsaved are enslaved to the ruler of this world. He’s identified later in the book as the Devil himself. The Devil is real. He’s called the god of this world because Adam and Eve were supposed to have dominion over the earth but instead they traded it to Satan. Now, he uses his sinister power to bring as much suffering and death and ruin to the people of earth because God loves people and Satan hates God. In 2 Timothy 2, we learn that human beings are trapped by the Devil and taken captive to do his will. 

If you’re not a Christian, the Bible is trying to help you. You may think you’re living life just fine – sure you’re not perfect, but you’re doing the best you can – but the reality is that you are a dying slave being ground into this system of sin and death. The ways of the world lead only one place and that is the grave. If you don’t repent and receive salvation in Jesus Christ, you’re going to perish.

This is why utopia is impossible, by the way. Because the world and its systems are ultimately ruled by the Devil whose whole goal is death and disobedience toward God. This is why the Lord Jesus is going to physically return one day and establish a literal Kingdom, reclaim this world and redeem it through and through, where righteousness will reign instead of sin. 

Meanwhile, people on earth think that if we just have the right laws or the right balance of powers or the right distribution of goods everything will be perfect. But it’s impossible because humanity is a bunch of corrupt, enslaved zombies living in ways that are in opposition to the goodness of God.

As Christians, this gives us an important perspective. We need to be thoughtful about how we interact and involve ourselves in the world’s systems. Don’t get me wrong – we’re supposed to go throughout the world shining the light of the Gospel and demonstrating the love of God. But we are not going to make things better unless our primary goal is to rescue the dead as we have been rescued. In a zombie movie, the living cannot cooperate with the zombies. They can’t work together to make a better tomorrow. What the zombies need is a cure. So, if you’re a Christian, Paul would have us take a look at our political action, our social engagement, our interaction with culture and society, and run it through this perspective where we realize that this world is not our home, it is ruled by the Devil who is working constant disobedience in all the ways he can. So, as we engage, our main goal is to rescue the dead, not gussy up the graves. 

Ephesians 2:3 – We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.

Previously Paul spoke to Gentiles, but he includes Jews here. This is a universal problem. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

When Paul talks about the “flesh,” he doesn’t just mean the tissue that makes up your body. He means “the whole [person] oriented away from God and toward its own selfish desires.”

The flesh is a tyrant over the unsaved person and we’ve already seen that it is infected with Satan’s power. Paul is contrasting the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a Christian, leading to life and the work of the Devil, the “unholy spirit” in the heart of an unbeliever, leading to death.

It’s important that we recognize that not every outworking of the flesh looks bad. Paul uses himself as an example. He says, “I was a dead man, doing sinful, zombie stuff, just carrying out the inclinations of my sinful flesh.” But what was Paul doing before he became a Christian? He was totally dedicated to religion. Everything he did he did because he thought it was honoring God. He was a scholar and an expert, willing to dedicate himself to his faith. But what was his life, really? It was war against Jesus Christ. It was selfish sin. It was devilish activity dressed up as piety. We too.

Again, someone who isn’t a Christian might say, “This is all a little too much. I’m not a depraved evildoer. I could be much worse than I am. I’m just a regular person.” But this is why you need to hear what God is saying in His Living Word. You are a slave to sin. Your flesh has taken over your life. Your legitimate human needs have been distorted and corrupted and now are leading you to eternal death. Because when we live outside of God’s salvation, we are under wrath. 

Wrath is not God throwing a tantrum. It is His response to injustice. He must avenge it. He must punish evil. He must put down rebellion. Ecclesiastes 12 says, “God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.”

So, the situation is dire. We were dead. Condemned. Powerless to climb out of our graves. And then Paul utters what has been called “The greatest short phrase in the history of human speech.”

Ephesians 2:4a – But God…

Despite the failure of man, despite the power of the Devil, despite the hopelessness of our situation, we read “But God.” The main point of Ephesians 2:1-10 is that God will not stay out of the picture. He will not write us off or start over with a fresh sheet of paper. Why?

Ephesians 2:4 – But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us,

This all-powerful God is a Being of love and mercy. How rich is is His mercy? It is so great that even though we infected ourselves with sin and death, He is willing to come down and rescue us. Even though we were His enemies, He gave His own Son to die in our place so that we could have the chance to be saved. Even though we have nothing to offer Him and He has to do all the work to beautify us and remake us and restore us, He’s willing to do it because of His great love for us. 

Imagine you’re on Amazon tomorrow, buying a product you’re interested in. I’ll use a guitar pedal as an example. There it is: it’s the ugliest guitar pedal imaginable. Also it doesn’t work. It’s completely busted and ruined and inoperable. The price? All the money you have. You’ll have to sell your house and your car and empty your accounts and cash out your retirement to get it. And, even if you buy it, and even if you fix it up, a lot of the time it’s still not going to work right. It’s going to give a bunch of static at random times. Would you buy a product like that? 

The Lord did. Millions upon millions of times over. He bought you and me with His blood. That’s how rich His love and mercy are. Scholars tell us that the word Paul uses for mercy here is the same word the Septuagint uses for that Hebrew term we learned about in Genesis: hesed. That steadfast, loyal, active love that God has for us. It’s a merciful love, meaning God didn’t have to do it. With this great love and mercy, here’s what He did:

Ephesians 2:5 – [He] made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 

One of the main themes of zombie moves is that, once you’re infected, it’s over. But the Lord does the impossible: He brings us back to life. This is why Paul has been marveling about salvation for more than a chapter now. And it’s not just a future thing. You were dead, now you are alive, you are saved. It is a completed action with ongoing effects. It’s all a work of His grace. We do not save ourselves. But we have the opportunity to understand what God has done and respond in faith. As the letter continues, we learn more and more about how that response works out in our lives. 

We could break this passage down and look at it from three angles. The first is for unbelievers. You need to be advised about your spiritual condition and the danger you’re in. You are dead and dying, headed for eternal death in the lake of fire. God doesn’t want you to go there, but you have to go there if you refuse to let Jesus be your substitute for sin because the wages of sin is death.

But, you too can be made alive, saved from the guilt of your sin, saved from the eternal death you are headed for. The way out is very simple: You receive God’s gift of salvation by faith. “This is the message of faith that we proclaim: If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

The second angle is for us who are in Christ. We should be amazed at what was. We were dead. Hopeless. Helpless. Guilty. Trapped and enslaved. God cut through all of that to pull us out of the grave and lift us up to a place where death no longer has power over us, sin no longer has power over us, the Devil will no longer control us, he will flee from us if we resist him. This is the most amazing rags-to-riches story of all time and we should celebrate in our hearts what God has done. 

But then there’s the third angle of these verses. It’s also for we who believe. We should be aware of what could be. The truth is, we do still sin. We can still fall into the Devil’s traps when we make the same mistake Adam and Eve made and that’s to disobey God. Paul was talking to Christians in Romans when he said, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God.” It is possible for us to turn off the road of righteousness and take steps on the way of the world. The result is ruin and disaster. What did Jesus say to the church at Sardis? “You have a reputation for being alive, but you’re dead. Nekros. So, be alert and strengthen what remains and is about to die.” Christians must recognize that there is a war and struggle in our hearts and in this world and we have to cooperate with the sanctifying power of Christ so that we don’t turn back to sin and death. 

One way to keep our minds right on this is to evaluate whether we follow the standards of the world or if we instead see this world as dying and in need of saving through Jesus Christ. If we agree with culture, if we pass all the current standards of coolness or acceptability or open-mindedness, then we do not understand the situation properly. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We want to dedicate our lives to help save the dead out of their death and to walk with the Lord, not in the flesh which drags us into captivity. We have all the life and all the power and all the direction we need because God has given it to us. Be alive in Christ, fight the good fight, and walk worthy with Him until we finish our course and are ushered into glory. 

Eat, Drink, And Be Wary (Isaiah 21-22)

Pop culture pop-quiz: Which of these is NOT the title of a James Bond film.

No Time to Die… Die Another Day… For Tomorrow We Die… Live & Let Die… Tomorrow Never Dies…

“For tomorrow we die” is not a Bond movie. It is a partial phrase found in Isaiah 22:13. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” 

We expect unbelievers to mouth these words. Ricky Gervais said, “It’s a strange myth that atheists have nothing to live for. It’s the opposite. We have nothing to die for. We have everything to live for.”

The truth is that believers have everything to live for, and everything to die for. The apostle Paul put it this way: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). 

It is troubling, therefore, that it was God’s people in Jerusalem who were saying, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”  

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 You Expect Unbelievers To Live As If There Is No Heaven Tomorrow, and #2 You Expect Believers To Live As If They Will Be In Heaven Tomorrow.

#1 – You Expect Unbelievers To Live As If There Is No Heaven Tomorrow (21:1-17)

Many ancient cities believed their wall to be impregnable to assault. Clever conquerors always found a way. Can you say, “Trojan horse?”

Babylon found out just how pregnable their mighty wall was one prophesied night. 

We pick-up Isaiah in the middle of a long stretch of chapters in which God reveals some of His dealings with nations. Chapter twenty-one highlights Babylon, Edom, and Arabia. 

Bear in mind that Isaiah wrote 150 years before Babylon was a world power.

Isa 21:1  The burden against the Wilderness of the Sea. As whirlwinds in the South pass through, So it comes from the desert, from a terrible land.

Babylon is identified in verse nine. “Wilderness of the Sea” is a descriptive nickname. There are differences of opinion as to what it refers.

Babylon’s conqueror is compared to a “whirlwind,” “terrible” in power and destruction. 

Isa 21:2  A distressing vision is declared to me; The treacherous dealer deals treacherously, And the plunderer plunders. Go up, O Elam! Besiege, O Media! All its sighing I have made to cease.

Treachery and plundering were the political atmosphere of those centuries. It’s like in Pirates of the Caribbean, when someone betrays someone else, and simply explains it by saying, “Pirate!” In this case, maybe they said, “Pagan!”

“Elam” is an ancient name for Persia (modern Iran). The Medes (Media) and Persians (the Medo-Persians), would conquer Babylon.

Isa 21:3  Therefore my loins are filled with pain; Pangs have taken hold of me, like the pangs of a woman in labor. I was distressed when I heard it; I was dismayed when I saw it.

Isa 21:4  My heart wavered, fearfulness frightened me; The night for which I longed He turned into fear for me.

Future Babylon would deserve conquering, but Isaiah was nonetheless overcome with emotion by it. He would not live to see Babylon rise and fall, but prophecy was so true to him that he reacted as if he was there. 

I had a weird thought. What if the visions the prophets had were like virtual reality? 

Being heavenly minded helps you to see everyone, your enemies, even the wicked, in need of God’s gracious salvation. It becomes much harder to be offended by someone when I realize that they have no power from God the Holy Spirit to do otherwise.

Isa 21:5  Prepare the table, Set a watchman in the tower, Eat and drink. Arise, you princes, Anoint the shield!

Isa 21:6  For thus has the Lord said to me: “Go, set a watchman, Let him declare what he sees.”

Over a century before it happened, Isaiah saw what is recorded in the fifth chapter of the OT Book of Daniel. The Medes and Persians were encamped outside. Trusting in their wall, the Babylonians were hosting a drunken feast during which they mocked the God of Israel. The Medes and Persians changed the course of the River Euphrates that ran under the massive, now pregnable, wall. It was too late to “anoint [their] shields” for a battle. 

The sober Medo-Persian army rushed in and overcame what little resistance there was.  Ta, ta for now, Babylon.

We were introduced to a “watchman” in verse six. He was appointed by the Lord. In Isaiah’s vision he was an observer who reported to the Lord. 

We are watchmen in the sense that we ‘see’ future history as it will unfold in the unfulfilled prophecies of the Bible.  

Isa 21:7  And he [the watchman] saw a chariot with a pair of horsemen, A chariot of donkeys, and a chariot of camels, And he listened earnestly with great care.

Isa 21:8  Then he cried, “A lion, my Lord! I stand continually on the watchtower in the daytime; I have sat at my post every night.

Isa 21:9  And look, here comes a chariot of men with a pair of horsemen!” Then he answered and said, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen! And all the carved images of her gods He has broken to the ground.”

His shout was like a lion’s roar. A good watchman needed a strong voice that could be heard and understood. We should always speak clearly and plainly when we talk about Jesus to others. I don’t think I’ve ever used this, but Chuck Smith would often say, “Simply teach the Word simply.” We can trust that God the Holy Spirit will empower our sharing of God’s Word.

A watchman is faithful, always alert at his post. You can be faithful. There are many encouragements to be awake and alert, to stay sober and serve the Lord.     

The watchman saw soldiers, and they had horses, donkeys, and camels to pull their war machines. 

Archaeologists have discovered the animals were  were led by Francis, the talking mule. Didn’t Festus ride a mule? Ruth, I think, was her name. 

A future Babylon occupies two entire chapters in the Revelation (17&18). She will be rebuilt on the ancient site and serve as the religious and commercial capital of the world ruled by Satan through his antichrist during The Time of Jacob’s Trouble. As a watchman, you see, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!” (18:2). 

Isa 21:10  Oh, my threshing and the grain of my floor! That which I have heard from the LORD of hosts, The God of Israel, I have declared to you.

In Jeremiah 51:33, in describing the destruction of Babylon, we read, “The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor; it is time to thresh her.”

“I have declared to you.” God trusted them to know His future plans. 

We know a great deal more about God’s future plans than any previous generation.

You know a great deal about your future, too. Maybe not the minutiae (as Rocket Raccoon would say), but the broad strokes are enough to reduce you to tears of joy.

The last few verses of chapter twenty-one describe two other nations, Dumah and Arabia. They were geographically between Judah and Babylon. 

Isa 21:11  The burden against Dumah. He calls to me out of Seir, “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?”

Harold Bultema wrote, “This brief burden has always been a great burden to expositors!” These nations are somewhat obscure and their history not well known. They were well known to God. So are you.

“Seir” is an alternate name for Edom because the mountains of Seir were given as a possession to Esau and his descendants. 


Isa 21:12  The watchman said, “The morning comes, and also the night. If you will inquire, inquire; Return! Come back!”

An enemy has caused Edomites to flee. They are encouraged to “inquire,” of God. His answer will be to “return” and “come back.”

Isa 21:13  The burden against Arabia. In the forest in Arabia you will lodge, O you traveling companies of Dedanites.

Isa 21:14  O inhabitants of the land of Tema, Bring water to him who is thirsty; With their bread they met him who fled.

Isa 21:15  For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, From the bent bow, and from the distress of war.

Isa 21:16  For thus the LORD has said to me: “Within a year, according to the year of a hired man, all the glory of Kedar will fail;

Isa 21:17  and the remainder of the number of archers, the mighty men of the people of Kedar, will be diminished; for the LORD God of Israel has spoken it.”

In one year Arabia would be attacked. Refugees would flee seeking provisions and protection. I wonder if they prepared?

The Babylonians felt secure behind the walls they had built. So secure that they could revel while a determined enemy pressed upon them. 

Determined enemies press upon us. The world… The flesh… The devil. Feeling secure in Jesus, do I party like there’s no tomorrow? Am I succumbing to the devil using the world to incite me to indulge my flesh? 

#2 – You Expect Believers To Live As If They Will Be In Heaven Tomorrow (22:1-25)

It should not surprise you when unbelievers act like unbelievers. It should surprise you when believers act like unbelievers.

Jerusalem acted like Babylon by trusting in their own preparations, including fortifying the wall. 

Isa 22:1  The burden against the Valley of Vision. What ails you now, that you have all gone up to the housetops,

“Valley of Vision” is a reference to Jerusalem, though I do not know why. 

I remember one time in the Philippines when we had lunch on a flat rooftop patio. The Jews weren’t having a picnic. They were watching for danger. 

Isa 22:2  You who are full of noise, A tumultuous city, a joyous city? Your slain men are not slain with the sword, Nor dead in battle.

God had many times supernaturally protected His chosen, and against impossible odds.

Isa 22:3  All your rulers have fled together; They are captured by the archers. All who are found in you are bound together; They have fled from afar.

This jumps to a different occasion, one in which the “rulers fled together,” but would be found and bound. 

Isa 22:4  Therefore I said, “Look away from me, I will weep bitterly; Do not labor to comfort me Because of the plundering of the daughter of my people.”

Jeremiah is called The Weeping Prophet, but Isaiah is a strong runner-up. I can’t tell you to weep more, and bitterly at that. All of us should be challenged to measure our compassion for the lost. It may be undeserved, but evangelical Christians have a reputation of lacking true compassion.

Isa 22:5  For it is a day of trouble and treading down and perplexity By the Lord GOD of hosts In the Valley of Vision – Breaking down the walls And of crying to the mountain.

Isa 22:6  Elam bore the quiver With chariots of men and horsemen, And Kir uncovered the shield.

Isa 22:7  It shall come to pass that your choicest valleys Shall be full of chariots, And the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.

Little is written about Elam and Kir. It seems an attack comes out of nowhere. 

Have you ever been ambushed by the devil? He employs people, both unbelievers and (sadly) believers, to tackle you on the narrow road and push you into the ditch. He’s playing a long-game. 

Isa 22:8  He removed the protection of Judah. You looked in that day to the armor of the House of the Forest [an armory];

Isa 22:9  You also saw the damage to the city of David, That it was great; And you gathered together the waters of the lower pool.

Isa 22:10  You numbered the houses of Jerusalem, And the houses you broke down To fortify the wall.

Isa 22:11  You also made a reservoir between the two walls For the water of the old pool…

There must have been a meeting to adopt strategies to combat the siege that was occurring outside the wall. These were the things that the Jews would do in order to be protected. The sad truth is that they were already fully protected by the LORD. They did not turn to Him, indicating they did not trust in Him. 

I have mentioned several times in our studies in Isaiah that when the Assyrian army besieged Jerusalem, the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 soldiers in one night. It was a lot more effective than digging a mote, don’t you think?  

“The houses you broke down To fortify the wall.” They tore-up their homes to pile debris against the wall. 

If we look at this devotionally, we might say that Christians sometimes break down their homes, their families, their lives, in pursuit of worldly things that they believe will fortify them. I can’t tell you all the ways you can do that. Some of you immediately recognize what I’m saying because you’ve experienced the destruction of your family because of spiritual neglect while in the selfish pursuit of material things. Christians regularly blow-up their lives. 


Isa 22:11  … But you did not look to its Maker, Nor did you have respect for Him who fashioned it long ago.

Let’s stay in devotional mode. Looking back on my life, I can see times I looked to the Lord, respecting Him. It can also see times I thought I was looking to Him, but was pressing upon Him my own agenda. 

In a more general sense that touches all of us, we like to remind ourselves of the warning in the NT Book of Galatians, to the effect that having begun in the spirit, we will try to continue the Christian life in our own flesh, applying our own wisdom.

Isa 22:12  And in that day the Lord GOD of hosts Called for weeping and for mourning, For baldness and for girding with sackcloth.

Isa 22:13  But instead, joy and gladness, Slaying oxen and killing sheep, Eating meat and drinking wine: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

I don’t think Isaiah was saying that the Jews partied like there was no tomorrow at the time they were besieged. When God called upon them to repent, to weep and mourn, shaving their heads and wearing rough clothing, they blew it off. They ate and drank like there was no tomorrow. So God disciplined them, allowing other nations to conquer them. 

Isa 22:14  Then it was revealed in my hearing by the LORD of hosts, “Surely for this iniquity there will be no atonement for you, Even to your death,” says the Lord GOD of hosts.

This isn’t a forfeiting of salvation, an unforgivable sin. It is a strong reminder that sin, even when forgives, carries this-life consequences. As our good friend Dennis Agajanian says, “You can’t unscramble eggs.”

Isa 22:15  Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts: “Go, proceed to this steward, To Shebna, who is over the house, and say:

Isa 22:16  ‘What have you here, and whom have you here, That you have hewn a sepulcher here, As he who hews himself a sepulcher on high, Who carves a tomb for himself in a rock?

Isa 22:17  Indeed, the LORD will throw you away violently, O mighty man, And will surely seize you.

Isa 22:18  He will surely turn violently and toss you like a ball Into a large country; There you shall die, and there your glorious chariots Shall be the shame of your master’s house.

Isa 22:19  So I will drive you out of your office, And from your position he will pull you down.

Shebna was a servant of King Hezekiah, both a steward… over the house and a scribe.  

Shebna had built for himself a fancy and prestigious tomb. It was a display of significant power and wealth. There are believers who desire monuments, their name on things, so people can see that they built something great. Others are more subtle about wanting power and influence and position. 

Isa 22:20  ‘Then it shall be in that day, That I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah;

Isa 22:21  I will clothe him with your robe And strengthen him with your belt; I will commit your responsibility into his hand. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem And to the house of Judah.

Remember, this was a prophecy. Made known to Hezekiah, it may have been the impetus to deal with Shebna. 

God will get His work done. If a Shebna is unfaithful, the LORD will remove him from his office, strip him of his authority, and give it to another. 

Isa 22:22  The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open.

The chief steward would have the large master key of the palace fastened to the shoulder of his tunic. The key was a picture and demonstration of the authority of the chief steward. Here, the LORD gives Eliakim the authority to open and shut as the LORD’s representative, which no man can oppose.

Jesus applied this to Himself in the Revelation (3:7). 

Isa 22:23  I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, And he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house.

Isa 22:24  ‘They will hang on him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the posterity, all vessels of small quantity, from the cups to all the pitchers.

Isa 22:25  ‘In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘the peg that is fastened in the secure place will be removed and be cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it will be cut off; for the LORD has spoken.’ ”

We sometimes use inanimate objects to describe people. “He’s a rock” describes someone solid and dependable. Eliakim would be like a “peg,” and a “throne,” able to bear the burdens of his office as he represented his master. Shebna is the previous “peg” of verse twenty-five. 

Next time I’m asked to fill-out a letter of recommendation, and they ask if there’s anything I’d like to add, I’m going to say that he or she is “a peg.”

“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” The apostle Paul quotes it in the great chapter of the NT where he explains that believers will be resurrected from the dead or raptured. He uses it to argue that, if there is no resurrection or rapture, no eternal life in Heaven, you may as well abandon yourself to seeking physical pleasure in this life. There would certainly be no reason to sacrifice and suffer as a believer for a future that will not exist. 

“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”  The last half is great – “For tomorrow we die.” We are not afraid to die; it is “gain.” Quote: “Death only frightens those who have their mind exclusively in this world.”

We need to erase “Let us eat and drink,” and replace it with things of the Lord:

  • “Let me be transformed by the renewing of my mind, not conformed to the world – for tomorrow I die.”
  • “Let me serve the Lord as a steward in His household – for tomorrow I die.”
  • “Let me suffer with patient endurance – for tomorrow I die.”

George Whitefield said, “Take care of your life and the Lord will take care of your death.” 

We know a glorious future does await the believer. Tomorrow we may die, but death is not the end. As Chicago sang, “It’s only the beginning of what I want to feel forever.”

Prophecy Update #742 – Explosion

Christians are encouraged to look for “the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). 

We look ahead to tomorrow, living with the awareness Jesus could come today.

One of the ways we look ahead to tomorrow is to consider the hundreds of unfulfilled prophecies in the Bible. We can expect the world to be moving in the direction predicted for the End Times.

We reserve a few minutes Sunday morning to suggest news, or trends, that seem to be predicted by our futurist reading of the Bible:

  • To avoid sensationalism, we are careful to use recognized, reliable sources for news.
  • We’re not saying the things we report are the fulfillment of prophecy. We’re saying that they are the things you’d expect to be happening in the build-up to the future seven year Time of Jacob’s Trouble.

Elon Musk has been on the leading edge of Artificial Intelligence. He said, “The pace of progress in artificial intelligence is incredibly fast. Unless you have direct exposure to groups like Deepmind, you have no idea how fast – it is growing at a pace close to exponential.”

There is a fascinating prediction at the end of the OT Book of Daniel. The last chapter is about the last days, looking beyond today. An angel told Daniel, “knowledge shall increase.” 

It is a sign that we are accelerating towards the fulfillment of the rest of the Bible’s prophecies when a human knowledge is growing at a pace close to exponential.

Eliezer Yudkowsky said, “Anything that could give rise to smarter-than-human intelligence – in the form of Artificial Intelligence, brain-computer interfaces, or neuroscience-based human intelligence enhancement – wins hands down beyond contest as doing the most to change the world. Nothing else is even in the same league.”

Futurism Magazine said, “The common SyFy trope where AI tech creates its own AI until it reaches human levels of intelligence and eventually surpasses us is quickly becoming a reality. Many believe that it is really only a matter of time before the AI that we create can create AI more intelligent than us.”

Another article was titled, Artificial Intelligence: The Dawn of Humanity’s Greatest Invention.


Artificial intelligence has been called the new electricity by Andrew Ng the co-founder of Coursera and the founder of Landing AI and DeeplearningAI. Research by scientists at Oxford University showed that AI will exceed human capabilities at conducting surgeries by 2054, at selling online goods by 2031, and writing school essays by 2026. Companies are rushing to get ahead of the curve to maximize potential benefits promised by this new technology. 18% of all patent applications received by IBM were AI related.

You may have heard that Hollywood writers are on strike. They are concerned about Artificial Intelligence taking over their jobs. “They’re demanding that use of artificial intelligence in the production of literary materials – scripts, treatments, outlines – be restricted, whether that AI is used to write works or to generate story ideas.”

Then there’s this. DailyMailUK posted a story titled, World is on the verge of a contemporary faith started by an AI writing its own sacred texts, historian claims. 

There is a lot we could say about AI. My point today is this: the Bible predicted about 2500 years ago that the last days would be characterized by an exponential growth of knowledge. We have reached the point with AI where it can’t get much more exponential.

One final quote. James Barrat, author of Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, told the Washington Post, “I don’t want to really scare you, but it was alarming how many people I talked to who are highly placed people in AI who have retreats that are sort of ‘bug out’ houses, to which they could flee if it all hits the fan.”

The resurrection and rapture of the church are imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it.

Jesus will come, in the clouds, and raise the dead believers of the Church Age.

He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies. We will join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven- year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

Power To The People (Ephesians 1:20-23)

Ephesians 1:20-23 – 20 He exercised this power in Christ by raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens—21 far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given,, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he subjected everything under his feet, and appointed him as head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way. 

The city of Ephesus was a seaside port on the west coast of modern Türkiye. A little more than 300 miles to the east was Ankara, today the nation’s capital city. In Ankara stood the most famous augusteum – a temple of worship for Rome’s first emperor. Built around 25 AD, on both walls of this temple, in Latin and Greek, was inscribed a copy of The Deeds Of The Divine Augustus – a 35 paragraph testimony that Caesar wrote about himself before his death. It begins with this line: “A copy below of the deeds of the divine Augustus, by which he subjected the whole wide earth.” He goes on to list the money he spent, the wars he won, the gifts he gave, the temples he built, and the titles he enjoyed.

The emperor cult was one of many religions in first century Asia Minor, but it was an important one to Rome. It was part of the government’s unification of the vast empire. 

Now, here you are, a Gentile Ephesian. For years the emperor cult was part of your life. Maybe you also joined a mystery religion, or even dabbled in sorcery which was so prevalent in your city. 

At some point, someone shared the Good News of Jesus Christ with you. You believed and were born again. Suddenly, you were a monotheist – unlike most everyone else in your city and neighborhood. At church one Sunday night, you hear a letter from the Jewish Christian who founded your local fellowship – an apostle who speaks with authority and finality. In this letter, Paul tells you about just how great the One true God is and how great the salvation which flows from God’s love and grace is. But, as Paul explains these things, the fundamental truths of life are being rewritten in your mind. Things like there is One God, not many gods. There is a coming Kingdom that Christians have a place in. There is an order when it comes to family, employment, citizenship, that is quite different than what the world around you practices. 

While Paul’s letter is incredibly good news, it was also incredibly countercultural. Eventually, the truths of Christianity would be considered criminal by the unbelieving world. Listening to Paul explain that Caesar is not God, Rome is not the ultimate Kingdom, you might realize just how radical Christianity was. In fact, you’d probably start piecing together why Paul was in jail – why Christians were sometimes seen as seditious traitors.

These were incredibly encouraging words, but these were ideas that shook your old Gentile understanding to its core. But Christians didn’t have to be afraid because God has limitless power – power that is presented to God’s people so that they can grow and strengthen as they walk with Him. Paul’s great desire was that these believers would become more and more spiritually enlightened to understand this hope, this power, the wealth of our salvation. 

We pick back up in verse 20. If you’re using the New King James Version, you’ll see it’s mid-sentence. That’s because, in the Greek, verses 15 through 23 are all one long sentence, so translators have to make choices about punctuation to assist the ease of reading in English. 

Paul is in a section where he’s talking about the exceeding greatness of God’s power toward those who believe.

Ephesians 1:20 – 20 He exercised this power in Christ by raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens

The resurrection is the most important event in human history. Paul told the Corinthians, if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless.

R. Kent Hughes writes, “The cross is the highest display of God’s love…the resurrection is the ultimate display of His power.”

The best news is that it wasn’t a one-time display. Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection power of God. Paul said it plainly: “Just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive…Christ the first fruits, afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ.”

The resurrection of Jesus was God exercising His immeasurably great power. That power is also exercised for us, not only when we come out of the grave one day, but in the present. Ephesians 3:20 speaks of God’s power “that works in us.” Same word for works as is seen here for exercised. God’s power is meant to energize our lives – to bring spiritual life where there was deadness. Today we think of power and how it brings energy and heat and electromagnetism. God’s power brings life and grace and love and endurance and glory and honor and strength as we are energized by it. 

Paul also explains that Christ was seated at God’s right hand in the heavens. When Jesus came out of the grave, He didn’t come out in weakness, but in power.

Sometimes in popular culture we see a character that comes back from the dead. Most often, they come back in weakness – they come back incomplete. In The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio did not come out of his scrape with death in great strength. The word revenant means “a person who has returned, especially from the dead.” Or think of Wesley in The Princess Bride. He comes back from being mostly dead, but he can’t move. He has to be carried into the third act. Emperor Palpatine is back from the dead in The Rise Of Skywalker, but there’s not much of him left.

Christ came out of the grave in absolute power and glory and strength and ascended from earth to the right hand of God the Father where He rules and reigns forever. 

Now, this verse has revealed some significant truths already, but one of the most important is the fact that there is, indeed, a world beyond this one. Heaven is real. Eternity is real. We will occupy them one day. Sometimes you hear notable people debate whether they think we’re in “the matrix” – in some computer simulation or not. I saw a video of Neil Degrasse Tyson telling someone that there’s really no difference between our world and the world of Super Mario Brothers the game. And he’s supposed to be an expert on what is real and what is true. These are important, fundamental issues from which we build our lives. It matters whether this is true or not.

As a first-century Ephesian, you were told Caesar is God or that Diana is God or that there are these geographical deities or you can control otherworldly powers through magic. And Paul cuts through all of these follies and says, “There is one God. He has revealed Himself. He is in charge and He has extended an invitation for you to join His family. There is a supernatural realm and this life leads to the next one. And here are the proofs so that you can know all of this is true and here’s how you can benefit from these truths today as you live out your days in this temporal world.” 

As Paul lays out these things we learn that we live in a tension between this world and the next. Bible commentators sometimes refer to it as the “now and the not yet.” We see it here: Christ has been seated in His position of rule and authority, and yet the physical Kingdom is not yet encompassing the earth. So, Christ is King, and we Christians serve in His Kingdom, but there is also a not yet aspect to it. There is still more to come in the fulfillment of these truths. 

The tension grows even greater when we get to chapter 2 of this letter and read, “He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus.” Past tense. It’s done. Yet, here we are in bodies of flesh in a temporal world with all its difficulties.

The process of God accomplishing His powerful plan isn’t over. But the important part is that it cannot be stopped. God has done these things and so they will unfold according to His glorious will. And we should remind ourselves that God is so powerful that it isn’t hard for Him. 

In every superhero movie, there comes a moment where the hero can barely overcome the problem. He has to use all his ability to hold up the bridge or fight back the enemy who is just about as strong as him. But God’s power isn’t like that. It’s immeasurably great. There’s no contest.

Ephesians 1:21 – 21 far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

In every category, in every place, in every time, Christ is above and in charge. And it’s not even close. He is far above every ruler, every power, every being in every age. 

Now, this was seriously counter-cultural. Archaeologists have discovered a house in Ephesus that had this written on the wall: “Rome, the ruler of all, your power will never die.” But here’s Paul saying ideas like that simply aren’t true. Rome was not the authority, Christ was. Caesar was not ultimately in charge, Christ was. And is! Not only does that give us comfort since this ultimate Authority is our Friend and Savior, but it also gives us a mindset. Because, in the end, we answer to this Lord and Savior more than we do to any earthly ruler. God has given government for the good of human society, but human government will often operate in contradiction to God’s truth and while we live as good citizens we must remind ourselves that we ultimately answer to Christ Jesus and must honor His commands. 

Paul’s reference to the age to come reminds us again that we have a place in that age. As Christians, we’ve been invited to be a part of Christ’s Kingdom. And the Bible explains that the life we live now helps prepare us for that coming age. So, we should ask ourselves: Am I dressed for that coming age? Am I saved up for it? We prepare for vacations, right? Even if you don’t use a budget normally, most people budget for a vacation. They pack and prepare and plan. Jesus says, “store up treasures in eternity. Adorn the robes of heaven. Prepare and plan for the age to come.”

Ephesians 1:22-23a – 22 And he subjected everything under his feet and appointed him as head over everything for the church, which is His body.

This stands in bold, defiance of Caesar’s claim, “I (Augustus) subjected the whole wide earth.” No, you didn’t. Christ did. And this has been the plan all along. Paul is quoting multiple Psalms in these verses, which have revealed God’s plan hundreds of years before this letter was written. Caesar was a pretender. Christ is the real deal. 

We’re told that God did this “for the church which is His body.” This continues the incredible message that Paul has been getting at for the whole chapter: Do you know what God has done for you? Here, we find that Christ is given as the Head over us as a gift to us and that we are set apart to operate as the Body of Christ, He in heaven, we on earth, working together by His power.

We are terribly unqualified for the job! But the Lord says, “That’s ok. I’ll build you up. I’ll empower you. I’ll lead you. I’ll gift you. I’ll help you and protect you. But you are My Body now.” 

In Augustus’ Divine Deeds scroll he said, “[I] subjected the whole wide earth to the rule of the Roman people.” But did he, really? Did he actually share his throne? The Lord Jesus does! 

In the Millennium we will govern with the Lord. He shares His Kingdom with us. We’re told we’re going to judge angels! And when we see glimpses of the Millennium in the prophetic books of the Bible, we see that it’s a time of great activity. All sorts of things are happening. Paul has us thinking about the age to come and the power of God and how we operate as His Body. It’s good to remind ourselves that the coming age is not a time of inactivity. We’re going to be very busy as God continues to energize us and as we finally are able to live as sinless, glorified people. 

So, if this is already done, as Paul says, and if everything that is subjected under Christ is also subjected under His Church, since we are His Body, why do we experience so much difficulty and frustration and feel powerless in this life?

Thomas Neufeld writes, “God’s order of creation and salvation is still in the process of being realized in Christ. Such transformation is neither momentary nor without conflict and struggle.”

It’s not that it might not happen, but that it is still happening. And so Paul wrote, hoping the Ephesians would understand more of what is true, what is given to us, what is possible as we walk in the power of God so that we could grow in strength and hope and effectiveness. 

The whole point is that Paul wants us to know the incredible potential and privilege we have as saved people in the church, but also that this great privilege comes with important, counter-cultural, right-now responsibilities. And so, in this salvation, full of blessings and benefits and power, we are called to complete participation with what God is doing, allowing Christ to be our head in every way, operating as His Body, filled with His power but subordinate to His leading.

Verse 23 continues:

Ephesians 1:23b – the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way. 

Scholars call this the hardest phrase in the book, maybe in all the New Testament. The Greek grammar is vague and Paul even rhymed many of these words. Who is filling and who is being filled? There’s debate, but the overall message is this: The Church is the special beneficiary of God’s powerful filling, and the Church is implicated in the filling work of God.

Paul will go on to show us how we live in this cooperative relationship with Christ. He fills us and we fill up with Him. God is filling us full, He is accomplishing His glorious, sanctifying work by His power, but at the same time, we cooperate by using that energy to “build up the body of Christ…growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.”

The picture he uses is a head and a body. The head with the central nervous system, with the directing power, the place of thought and understanding and and personality and decision, but then those directives being carried out by the body, which has life and strength and mobility. 

In this analogy, it’s the head that matters, right? I read an article titled, “How Many Organs In The Body Could You Live Without?” It said this, “You can still have a fairly normal life without one of your lungs, a kidney, your spleen, appendix, gall bladder, adenoids, tonsils, plus some of your lymph nodes, the fibula bones from each leg and six of your ribs…If you allow yourself artificial replacements and medication, we can go further and remove your stomach, colon, pancreas, salivary glands, thyroid, bladder and your other kidney. Still not enough for you? Theoretically, surgeons could amputate all of your limbs, and remove your eyes, nose, ears, larynx, tongue, lower spine and rectum.” But there’s no living without the head. The head is all-important. But the head wants eyes and kidneys and salivary glands and lungs. 

This is an amazing revelation: God wants to act, He wants to express His powerful work on the earth. And to accomplish that, He’s decided He wants you as part of His body – a representative group of people that act in His place on the earth, with His power and authority. It’s amazing that He is willing to limit Himself in this way. God the Son took on a body forever because of His great love for us. And now, He goes further and says, “I’m not going to stay on the earth and walk around as the Risen GodMan. No, I’m going to ascend to heaven and now YOU are My Body on the earth. I will act through you. And so that you can be My body I will give you power and filling and gifting and all the directives you need.” We, the assembly, the ekklesia, are called out to live as the Body, energized by the mighty power of God, filled with His fullness and filling with Him according to His purposes. Filling the earth with His grace. Filling up in our flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ. Filling our little spheres of influence with ministry and generosity and endurance in suffering and with Gospel truth. Filled full with this power that has been given to us, not by a dead Caesar, but by the Living Lord. 

Our hostile world refuses to believe in this Savior, despite proofs like the resurrection. The world settles for building empty memorials for dead men who claim to be great. Augustus was decaying in the dirt while they carved on wall of an empty temple how powerful he was and how grateful the Roman people should be for all he did for himself. 

Meanwhile, Christ Jesus lives in heaven and says, “I am building you as My Temple. And My Temple isn’t full of dead men’s bones, it’s full of life and power.” What a complete re-understanding of reality for the Ephesians. This was a radical change in their understanding of reality. That’s what the opening of this letter is all about. You Christians, do you realize what God has done? Do you realize what that means? Do you realize what is possible because of God’s power given to you? It’s Paul’s hope that they would understand and that we would understand so that God’s truth and power and goodness could be made known through us, the church, as the Lord energizes us and builds us up. 

Have I Got Nude For You (Isaiah 18:1-20:6)

Oh, yes, they call him the Streak

(Boogity, boogity)

Fastest thing on two feet

(Boogity, boogity)

Ray Stevens’ song was #1 on the music charts at the height of streaking. In February of 1974 the press labeled it an epidemic. By the first week of March, college campuses across the country were competing to set streaking records.  

The most memorable streak occurred on national television at the 46th Academy Awards in April. During one of the presentations, Robert Opel streaked naked across the stage of The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles flashing a peace sign.  

Appearing naked in public has a storied history, including religious protests and warnings. Seventeenth century Quaker Solomon Eccles walked nude through London with a chafing dish of fire burning upon his head, crying, “Repent!”

He was doubtless influenced by Isaiah.

“The LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet.” And he did so, walking naked and barefoot… three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia” (20:1-2). 

Isaiah’s nudity was a visual of “the king of Assyria lead[ing] away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt” (20:4). 

When you saw Isaiah’s ‘newsflash,’ you were seeing Egypt and Ethiopia as naked captives. 

Unbelievers today are naked captives.

Jesus told the Laodiceans in the letter He wrote them in the Revelation, you “do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (3:17). 

Should we be walking around naked today? No. 

Spiritually, however, we are told to “bear [Christ’s] reproach,” “partake of Christ’s sufferings,” share “the fellowship of His sufferings,” and “fill up in [our] flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” 

With the help of God the Holy Spirit, people can “see” their spiritual captivity and nakedness and their need to be clothed as we are, with the righteousness of the sinless Son of God.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 God Has A Message For The Naked Nations, and #2 You Are The Messenger To The Naked Nations.  

#1 – God Has A Message For The Naked Nations (18:1-19:25)

We are in a long section in which God reveals His future dealings with nations who are not particularly interesting to us. He mentions Assyria, Babylon, Moab, Damascus (Syria), Ethiopia, and Egypt. 

What if Isaiah was talking about 20th century Czechoslovakia? We likely would still be uninterested. But that’s only because we are not prone to look into the unseen realm to discover God’s remarkable providence.

Israel officially became a nation in May of 1948. They received aid from an unusual source. Russian strongman Joseph Stalin supported Israel because he thought the Jewish state would be communist. Russia supplied Israel arms through Czechoslovakia. This infusion of weapons was crucial to Israel’s survival. 

It was God, using nations to accomplish His purposes. I wonder how he set that one up!

God has different purposes He has purposed for each nation, but there is one message for all of them: The Savior of the world promised in the Garden of Eden came in the fullness of time through His chosen nation, Israel, in order to redeem and restore His creation and redeem mankind. God provides for His plan by His providence using nations. Whether a nation cooperates or not, God’s program will succeed to its completion. 

Isa 18:1  Woe to the land shadowed with buzzing wings, Which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,

Isa 18:2  Which sends ambassadors by sea, Even in vessels of reed on the waters, saying, “Go, swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth of skin, To a people terrible from their beginning onward, A nation powerful and treading down, Whose land the rivers divide.”

Their motto, on their “vessels of reed” was, “The land shadowed with buzzing wings.” Insects were aplenty. 

Epic description of Ethiopians. They were taller than Jews, and not genetically inclined towards facial hair. They enjoyed a good reputation as patriotic, fierce when necessary. 

Ethiopia had sent ambassadors to Judah, seeking to form an alliance with them against Assyria. Isaiah said, “Go away,” sending them home treaty-less. 

Isa 18:3  All inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the earth: When he lifts up a banner on the mountains, you see it; And when he blows a trumpet, you hear it.

I love that scene in The Return of the King, when Pippin lights the beacon to call Rohan to help Gondor. God needed no such help. When the time came, God with deal with the Assyria on his own terms.There would be no “banner,” no “trumpet,” calling for aid.  

Isa 18:4  For so the LORD said to me, “I will take My rest, And I will look from My dwelling place Like clear heat in sunshine, Like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”

While nations make their political alliances and conduct back room diplomacy, God rests. 

The indication is that God’s people can rest with Him.

Face it – We may well believe the weapons God has provided us are powerful, but when it comes to it, we are more comfortable with the weapons of the world. Otherwise the apostle Paul would not have needed to warn us that having begun in the Spirit, we ought to continue in the Spirit. 

Isa 18:5  For before the harvest, when the bud is perfect And the sour grape is ripening in the flower, He will both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks And take away and cut down the branches.

Isa 18:6  They will be left together for the mountain birds of prey And for the beasts of the earth; The birds of prey will summer on them, And all the beasts of the earth will winter on them.

Two metaphors describe the severity of God’s dealings with Assyria:

  • God would “prune” back the Assyrians. 
  • Their carcasses would be food for beasts. 

Isa 18:7  In that time a present will be brought to the LORD of hosts From a people tall and smooth of skin, And from a people terrible from their beginning onward, A nation powerful and treading down, Whose land the rivers divide – To the place of the name of the LORD of hosts, To Mount Zion.

We see a partial fulfillment of this in the Book of Acts when an Ethiopian came to worship the LORD at Jerusalem, and then trusted in Jesus at the preaching of Philip.

Further out, Isaiah saw the Millennial Kingdom when Ethiopians and peoples from all nations will worship the Lord.

Nations don’t always survive. Czechoslovakia, for example. I don’t know its history, but I think it’s safe to say that God had His hand of providence on it so that they could be available in 1947. 

Isa 19:1  The burden against Egypt. Behold, the LORD rides on a swift cloud, And will come into Egypt; The idols of Egypt will totter at His presence, And the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst.

Isa 19:2  “I will set Egyptians against Egyptians; Everyone will fight against his brother, And everyone against his neighbor, City against city, kingdom against kingdom.

Isa 19:3  The spirit of Egypt will fail in its midst; I will destroy their counsel, And they will consult the idols and the charmers, The mediums and the sorcerers.

Isa 19:4  And the Egyptians I will give Into the hand of a cruel master, And a fierce king will rule over them,” Says the Lord, the LORD of hosts.

Satan constantly tries to infiltrate the Church with occult influences and practices.  He’s gotten pretty good at it. 

Grave soaking. It’s not what happens when the cemetery groundskeeper forgets to shut the water. Also known as grave sucking, it is the act of lying across the physical grave of a deceased preacher or evangelist for the purpose of pulling out the residual power of the Holy Spirit, a power that was purportedly trapped within the body upon the person’s death. Perhaps you’ve heard of the wildly popular Bethel Church in Redding. Grave soakers. 

Isa 19:5  The waters will fail from the sea, And the river will be wasted and dried up.

Isa 19:6  The rivers will turn foul; The brooks of defense will be emptied and dried up; The reeds and rushes will wither.

Isa 19:7  The papyrus reeds by the River, by the mouth of the River, And everything sown by the River, Will wither, be driven away, and be no more.

Isa 19:8  The fishermen also will mourn; All those will lament who cast hooks into the River, And they will languish who spread nets on the waters.

Isa 19:9  Moreover those who work in fine flax And those who weave fine fabric will be ashamed;

Isa 19:10  And its foundations will be broken. All who make wages will be troubled of soul.

It would not take much for Egypt to fall from power to poverty. In their case it was their dependence on the Nile. 

We depend upon electricity. Renowned author and military historian William Forstchen told the Washington Examiner that the blast from an EMP would devastate the US because America’s electrical infrastructure is outdated and ill-equipped to handle the sudden loss of electricity caused by the blast.

In a linked article, intelligence officers said, “High-altitude balloons are considered a key ‘delivery platform’ for secret nuclear strikes on America’s electric grid.”

Isa 19:11  Surely the princes of Zoan are fools; Pharaoh’s wise counselors give foolish counsel. How do you say to Pharaoh, “I am the son of the wise, The son of ancient kings?”

Isa 19:12  Where are they? Where are your wise men? Let them tell you now, And let them know what the LORD of hosts has purposed against Egypt.

Isa 19:13  The princes of Zoan have become fools; The princes of Noph are deceived; They have also deluded Egypt, Those who are the mainstay of its tribes.

Isa 19:14  The LORD has mingled a perverse spirit in her midst; And they have caused Egypt to err in all her work, As a drunken man staggers in his vomit.

Isa 19:15  Neither will there be any work for Egypt, Which the head or tail, Palm branch or bulrush, may do.

What was that? “The LORD has mingled a perverse spirit in her midst?” There is a similar incident described in First Kings 22:19-23.

1Ki 22:19  Then [the prophet] said… “I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of Heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left.

1Ki 22:20  And the LORD said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.

1Ki 22:21  Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’

1Ki 22:22  The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’

1Ki 22:23  Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.”

Do you know who or what is meant by “spirit,” or a lying spirit, or a perverse spirit? It doesn’t seem to be a fallen angel. Or a demon. If it was a demon, that wouldn’t help us because the Bible nowhere tells us what a demon is. We can’t reverse the words and call it “the spirit of lying.” All we are sure of is that the “spirit” is some kind of supernatural entity. 

The word for “spirit” is the common Hebrew word for wind or breath. Notice, too, and this is important: This spirit is not described as evil. We assume that it is because of the strategy he suggests. Is it, though? God permitted the “spirit” to provide misinformation so that wicked King Ahab would be fooled. It’s a common military strategy.  

In the next few verses, sixteen through twenty-four, feature the phrase, “In that day” six times. William MacDonald writes, “The first fifteen verses have already been fulfilled. The rest of the chapter is still unfulfilled.” 

Isa 19:16  In that day Egypt will be like women, and will be afraid and fear because of the waving of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which He waves over it.

Isa 19:17  And the land of Judah will be a terror to Egypt; everyone who makes mention of it will be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts which He has determined against it.

Isa 19:18  In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the LORD of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction.

Isa 19:19  In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border.

Isa 19:20  And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them.

Isa 19:21  Then the LORD will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the LORD and perform it.

Isa 19:22  And the LORD will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the LORD, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.

The LORD will wound them and then heal them and bring revival – a revival which will be intimately connected with Israel.

Isa 19:23  In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians.

Isa 19:24  In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria – a blessing in the midst of the land,

Isa 19:25  whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”

This is mind-blowing, futurist prophecy. Israel, Egypt, and Assyria (modern Iraq) will be the three Mideast Amigos. Finish this thought: “A Jew, an Egyptian, and an Assyrian walked into the Temple…”

Egypt & Assyria will be nations in the future Kingdom.  

What about us? Are we in Bible prophecy?

We are, but only in the sense that every Gentile nation is. I keep returning to Jeremiah 18:7-10. 

God told Jeremiah, “The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it” (18:7-10). 

Is the US doing evil in God’s sight? Tragically, Yes. Where is Solomon Eccles when you need him??

#2 – You Are The Messenger To The Naked Nations (20:1-6)

It was not unusual for God’s prophets to dramatize prophecy. Ezekiel and Jeremiah did some wild stuff. With Isaiah, God pushed the limits. 

Isa 20:1  In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him, and he fought against Ashdod and took it,

Isa 20:2  at the same time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet.” And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.

Isa 20:3  Then the LORD said, “Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia,

Isa 20:4  so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.

Isa 20:5  Then they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation and Egypt their glory.

Isa 20:6  And the inhabitant of this territory will say in that day, ‘Surely such is our expectation, wherever we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria; and how shall we escape?’ ”

Isaiah exchanged his normal business attire of sackcloth for his birthday suit. Yes, he was totally naked. The word means naked, and it only means naked. Critics don’t like that, citing the fact that it is so shameful. But that is the whole point. There would be no mercies when the nations were taken captive and led away naked by the Assyrians. 

Unbelievers are slaves to sin and to Satan. They are captives, and like all captive slaves, they are naked. No amount of this earth’s goods can cover the kind of spiritual nakedness we are talking about.

A naked person needs clothing.

The Bible says that when Jesus died on the cross, He took upon Himself your sin and shame, and gave you His righteousness in exchange. His righteousness is often illustrated by Him giving you a perfect, pure, white robe of righteousness. It is the garment you need to be recognized by the Father, as being in Christ, and to gain entry into Heaven.

We are not called upon to walk around nude. However, God does ask us go naked in this sense: We must be willing to bear His shame. 

The apostle Paul told us to follow him as he followed Jesus. He provides great examples for us:

  • Arrested in the city of Philippi, Paul and his companion, Silas, were beaten and thrown into the dungeon. The next morning, when the officials came to release them, Paul declared that he was a Roman citizen with rights, and that they had violated his rights.
  • On another occasion, he demanded his rights as a Roman citizen to plead his case before the Cesar.

Paul did not always demand his rights, nor did he always surrender his rights. He was led by God the Holy Spirit to act in the way that would bring the most good attention to Jesus and the Gospel.

Paul used a clothing metaphor to encourage us about how to reach naked captives. “Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). 

He went on to say we can remove “wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking… with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (4:31-32).

Think of some of the situations of your life. How did you respond? How are you responding?

As a rule of thumb, ask yourself what answer, or behavior, or course of action, will bring the most good attention to Jesus and the Gospel; then do it.