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Isaiah Insights #12

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

Send Me!

Isa. 6:8,9

“In the year King Uzziah died,” God “appeared” to Isaiah. The man was immediately struck by the holiness of God, confessed his sin and was forgiven.

God had a task that was urgent. He said to Isaiah, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us.” Isaiah responded, “Here I am! Send me.” Or, in older translations, “Here Am I. Send Me.”

Now, if you keep reading beyond verse 8, you discover this was no celebrity position or magnificent occupation from an earthly standpoint. In fact, people would not listen or be pleased with what Isaiah said.

His commitment was, “Here am I! Send me.”

A personal note here. I never read this without thinking of my father, who was in a men’s training class in the 1950’s. The preacher was teaching the men about various servant functions in the local church. He handed out cards to the men. The card on one side listed all the functions and there was place to check which one you would volunteer for.

I was seated next to my father and watched. He looked over the various functions, then wrote on the back of the card: “Here am I. Send me.”

What an impression that made on me. And at the time, I had no idea he was quoting Isaiah. Only later, when I was reading Isaiah, did I remember – that’s what my father wrote on the card to volunteer for various tasks in the local church.

But the expression takes me to another thought. What would people say today, in that circumstance?

Some might say, “here am I … but I’m just too busy.” Or, “here am I … but send someone else.” Or, “here am I … best wishes Lord.”

Isaiah becomes one of many examples in Scripture, of men and women who stepped up and out, on faith – to do whatever God might require.

“Here am I. Send me.”

 

Isaiah Insights #11

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

Holy, Holy, Holy

Isa. 6:1-3

With this podcasts, we move into Isaiah chapter 6. Isaiah’s vision of the Lord and His commitment to respond to the Lord’s call.

First, who is He responding to? “The Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up,” and identified by this declaration: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.”

One of the first steps one takes out of sin and into salvation is – recognition of who God is. He is holy. That means, He stands apart, “high and lifted up.” He is different, separate from man – absolutely powerful and perfect; deserving of man’s highest regard. Later in the book of Isaiah – this statement: “To whom they will you liken Me, that I should be his equal? Says the Holy One,” (Isa. 40:25).

Isaiah was tremendously impacted by the presence of the Holy One, distinquished in His spendor. And, not just holy – but for emphasis: “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

When one obeys the gospel, the person is not just complying with conditions, submitting to commands and changing his or her life. We must think of responding to the Holy and Almight God.

Reverence is, therefore, a part of conversion; an essential part. We are fearing God and keeping His commandments – when we first step out of sin into Christ through repentance and baptism.

Like Isaiah, we are stimulated by His holiness and responsive to who He is. We will put Him first now; we will be mindful of Him day after day; we will be daily disciples of His Son; we will embrace His people and reach the lost.

Because, we know who we are responding to. The Holy, Almighty God.

I like this quote from Ray Ortlund.

The holiness of God distinguishes him absolutely, even from the sinless angels. The Bible speaks of the splendor of God’s holiness (Psalm 29:2), the majesty of God’s holiness (Exodus 15:11), the incomparability of God’s holiness (Isaiah 40:25). His holiness is simply his God-ness in all his attributes, works, and ways. And he is not just holy; he is “holy, holy, holy,” each word boosting the force of the previous one exponentially.

Please take time to reflect on this and make certain your life is founded on your reverence for who God is.

Ortlund Jr., Raymond C.. Isaiah (Preaching the Word) (p. 77). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Isaiah Insights #10

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

“Woes” In Isaiah

Isa. 5:22-23

Perverters of Justice

This is Isa. 5:22,23– “Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.”

One way to get to the point of this form of evil is, imagine you are accused of a crime but not guilty. You and your attorney work together to collect and organize evidence, interview witnesses and set your case in good order.

The day of the trial comes, and as the judge enters to take his place at the bar of justice – you and others present discover, before he came to bar of justice, he visited the bar!

The judge appointed to consider your case is drunk and you realize that in this condition, he is not an administrator of justice, but a perverted of justice.

He is not only drunk with alcohol. His drunken state is a symptom of a deeper inner intoxication. He is high on his appetite, stumbling around in his ego and utterly lacking of good character and wisdom.

If he is a champion of anything, it is mixing drinks and consuming the product of his carnal talent.

Isaiah conveys from God, judgment against the judges, who were caught up in their power. The claim to renown was not justice but being heroes of drinking wine.

Let’s not turn this into an indictment against all who serve in the halls of justice. But let’s be aware that power can corrupt those with undeveloped conscience. While this propensity occurs across all classes and ages, it is especially repulsive  when men who are charged to lead, to judge, to enforce divine law, are champions of craving, carnality and evil.  God, through Isaiah, judges the judges.

Human Wisdom, Isa. 5:21

“Woes” Isa. 5

Isa. 5:21

Human Wisdom

This is Isa. 5:21 – “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight.”

This relates to an earlier podcasts, when I spoke to us about humanism. Exalting man, with arrogance, self-deceit – thinking man can make his own way very well in life without God.

That flawed view emerges again here in chapter eight, verse twenty-one. “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight.”

There are people in our age who seem to be “street smart,” but “life dumb.” By that I mean, they seem to know all the ways of the world, how to navigate the streets of temporal existence, but when it comes to real life, wisdom and eternal outcomes – they are not equipped, not capable and in fact, dumb.

Wise in their own eyes, and perhaps shrewd about the ways of the world in their limited view. But God is pushed away, His will rejected, His promises counted a loss.

It is similar to other indictments and descriptions in Scripture.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the ways of death,” (Prov. 14:12).

In the New Testament, 1 Cor. 3:18-20. “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their crafitness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile’.”

Then, in Jeremiah 10:23 – “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.”

Isaiah was speaking to people who were trying to find their way in life without God. His bold words were designed to shake them, to wake them up and take them to repentance about their dependence on their own wisdom. Let’s take need.

“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight.”

Isaiah Insights #8

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

“Woes” Isa. 5

Moral Confusion

This is Isa. 5:20.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

In the Bible, and therefore in reality and eternity, there is good and evil. We often talk about this as an absolute moral standard. It is defined and revealed by the Creator.

If man ignores it, edits it or renames it – there is trouble. Trouble here on earth and eternal consequence.

I want to point out, what you call something doesn’t change its nature. A label is a human assignment. It doesn’t change what God has said about an attitude, practice or lifestyle.

For example, you can call a lie – white or black. You can call a lie an innocent prevarication. It is what it is in the sight of God, no matter how man may rename it.

Such label editing and attempted reversals of reality do nothing but deceive, both the ones making the “changes” and those who listen to them.

Good and evil is fixed in the mind of God. Being made in His image, our obligation is to call things what they are according to His revealed standard.

The world we live in is turning defintions and labels upside down, yet the nature of the thing renamed isn’t changed.

Sexual immorality can be called “gay, affair, romance, fling,” or any other term or phrase. It doesn’t change God’s view of it.

Marriage will always be, in the eyes of God, a covenant between a man and a woman. Killing unborn babies may be called something else in the future. The nature of the act doesn’t change.

What is bitter can be called sweet, but it taste the same.

Calling evil good and good evil doesn’t change God’s mind about it. It doesn’t reduce the consequence of it, and only serves to promote a defiant absence of discernment and discipline.

When the standard of the Creator is rejected, there is no good outcome. Especially when considered in the light of this: “The end of the matter; all has been heard, Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil,” (Eccl. 12:13,14).

God will not – on that final day – ask what we called it, how we viewed it or what name we applied. His standard will be the basis of judgment.   

Isaiah Insights #7

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

“Woes” Isa. 5

Slaves of Sin

This is Isa. 5:18-19.

“Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes. To those who say, ‘Let God hurry, let him hasten his work so we may see it. Let it approach, let the plan of the Holy One of Israel come, so we may know it.”

Here is this graphic word-picture of people so loaded down with sin, it is like they are pulling around little wagons loaded with their transgressions. Picture that. Maybe not little wagons. Big carts filled with their wickedness. Tighly packed bundles of sin they cannot or will not get rid of.

And, with a mocking, demanding attitude toward God, the Lord of hosts.

Isaiah spoke to the people about their sin and God’s intention to be swift and decisive in His judgment against them. What was their reaction?

As they pulled along behind them their cart-loads of sin – they would verbalize their defiant attitude, as if to say: “Come on, Lord, show us what you have! What are you waiting for?” Or they might have said to Isaiah, “Tell the Lord to hurry up, so we can see what He will do.”

Sinful, deceitful, wicked people – holding fast to their sin – while mocking God and challenging  Him to show Himself or hasten His work.

To many people, God is just a joke. They are attached with glue to their vices. They cannot go anywhere without pulling along their cart full of sins. Their phones, tablets and computers are pushing the limits of digital storage to hold their apps, photos and messages reflecting their carnal hobbies and lewd pursuits. Their bank statements show regular debits for worldly pursuits which lead to spiritual and in some cases actual poverty.

When God is mentioned, they just laugh Him away. “Where is He. Bring Him on, that we may know it.”

What are we pulling around? What vices, weaknesses, off-color pleasures are we carrying through life?

“…let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurnace the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…,” (Heb. 12:1b,2).

Revelry, Isa. 5:11-17

Isaiah Insights #6

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

“Woes” Isa. 5

Revelry

We are again in Isaiah chapter five, exploring the statements of “woe” God gave to His people through Isaiah. This podcasts is based on Isa. 5:11-17.

Let me ask, have you known people who live for the party? Perhaps at your workplace, the excitement is pretty noisy as the week-end approaches. Around the water cooler or in the breakroom – the talk is centered around week-end plans that may involve activities you can’t endorse. They work all week with their hopes pointing to the week-end party, often involving alcohol.

Is that interests new? Isaiah said, “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. They have harps and lyres at their banquets, tamborines and flutes and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of his hands,” (Isa. 5:11,12).

The word is “Revelry,” and it is an irreverent, lacivious obsession for temporal pleasure. It is more than just enjoying a good time with people, playing a game or having a meal with friends. It is being ensnared by the party life style.

Hollywood wants us to believe we deserve or have earned a night at the club; a time to be loose and fun-loving, without the discipline of good character.

What accompanied this revelry? Verse 12 says, “they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of his hands,” reminding us of Paul’s statement in 2 Tim. 3:4 – about “lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God.”

I’ll leave you with this, from 1 Pet. 4:1-5.

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.  With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 

Peter said to Christians – Arm yourselves with the same way of thinking as Christ. This will prevent us from hearing the woe against revelry in our lives. Thank you for listening.

Isa. 5 Unholy Ambition

Isaiah Insights #5

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

“Woes” Isa. 5

UNHOLY AMBITION

 

Your first thoughts about the book of Isaiah may be about his marvelous prophecies of the Messiah and the future glory of God’s kingdom.  Yes, that is a prevailing theme.

But Isaiah and the other prophets also spoke to the people in their time, about their sin and the judgments of God against them. This holds value for us, in learning what to avoid personally and what to speak against in our preaching and teaching.

The next few podcasts will be about the “woes” in Isaiah chapter five. You’ve heard the expression “woe is me” rather cavalierly in modern discourse.

Well, Isaiah spoke bold condemnation against the people for their sins – and expressed it with this word “woe” which conveys guilt and trouble. “Woe unto you,” he said.

There are five of these in chapter five. The first is in verses 8-10. Here’s verse 8: “Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midsts of the land.”

This is not just building, expansion or growth. This is not the equavilent of adding on to your house.

This reflects aggressive acquisition that displaces people. It is a symptom of selfish grasping and greed.

Micah brings this up, in Micah 2:2 – “They covet fields, and seize them; and houses, and take them away; and they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.”

This is not simply buying land, expanding, progress or building. This is expansion that is oppressive, drives people away and makes families victims of self-exalting progress.

It might be called “unholy ambition,” and the opposite is – love your neighbor as yourself.

Isaiah Insights #4

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

Stop Regarding Man

Isa. 2:22

In Isaiah, chapter two, the last verse, may I call attention to this curious statement, that would have no meaning without historical context. Isa. 2:22 – the prophet said, “Stop regarding man, in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?”

So, when you factor in literary context from this section of Isaiah, and the broader historical context of the conditions of the people in Judah in the time of Isaiah – this makes sense as an admonition, really a prohibition.

Instead of trusting God, depending on Him, doing His will and embracing His promises – the people had turned away from God to man, to themselves, to their own inventions, devices and resources.

We have a word for that in our post-modern world: HUMANISM. That is no longer a narrow philosophical category or one of many worldviews.

It is the way of the world in our time, to not look to God; to consider Him either non-existent or irrelevant. Then, to put man in His place. To worship man, trust in man, and deceive the next generation into thinking that man has the answers, not God.

The Jewish people in Judah and Jerusalem in Isaiah’s time were trusting in idols, forming political alliances with heathens, turning to fortune tellers and celebrating men who were drunk and women who were worldly.

Humanism marks out the way, from God to exalted but empty human wisdom. Isaiah describes their sin of exalting human wisdom, then calls upon them to stop it.

“Stop regarding man, in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?”

Earlier in Isaiah chapter two, the people are warned. Back in verse 17 – “And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.”

This should ring true for us today, as we approach the year 2020. Humanism isn’t just a school of thought peddled by atheists. It isn’t just a footnote in a philosopy class. It is becoming a way of life, acclaimed, in some cases enforced as law and imposed on our children.

We must not let who God is slip from our hearts. In Isa. 45:5, the Lord of Hosts declares, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me, there is no God…,”  

Isaiah Insights #3

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

Telescope & Microscope

Isa. 2

 

In the book of Isaiah, in the section beginning with chapter two, over through the next few chapters – there is something for readers to be aware of and careful about.

The text shifts from (Isaiah’s) present to future, back and forth. Sometimes Isaiah is talking about the present sins of the people during the reigns of the kings identified in verse one of chapter one. In other places, the prophet speaks of the immediate future punishment coming, or the distant future coming of Christ.

One way to think of this is – Microscope and Telescope. This study device is not unique to me, or originated by me. It is helpful.

By Microscope I mean, Isaiah is enabled by God to look right at the people in his time and see in detail their sins. This happens in chapter one.

By Telescope I mean, think of it as God giving the prophet a Telescope to see the immediate future judgments against the people. But also, to see the distant blessings that would come to pass through Jesus Christ.

In Isaiah 2:1-4, I believe Isaiah is using the Telescope – to see “the house of the Lord” that would be established “as the highest of the mountains” for people of all nations. People would be taught and invited to walk in the paths and live by the word of the Lord. There would be peace for these people. This is about Christ and His kingdom, the church.

Once Isaiah uses the Telescope and issues this statement of what God let him see, he says to his contempories: “Let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

At verse 6, he takes up the microscope to report what he observes as the errors of the present: evil compromises with foreigners, covetousness, idolatry, “the lofty pride of men.”  Using the Telescope again, he reports there would be, as a result of these evils, “a day,” of God’s response to their sin. God would express Himself “against” them.

So the prophet said, “Stop regarding man, in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” (Isa. 2:22). This is where we plugin self-examination.

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