Sunday, March 02, 2008

Weekly Meditations: Is. 3 (1)

For behold, the Lord God of hosts is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah support and supply, all support of bread, and all support of water; the mighty man and the soldier, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor and the skillful magician and the expert in charms. And I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them. And the people will oppress one another, every one his fellow and every one his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the despised to the honorable.

For a man will take hold of his brother in the house of his father, saying: “You have a cloak; you shall be our leader, and this heap of ruins shall be under your rule”; in that day he will speak out, saying: “I will not be a healer; in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; you shall not make me leader of the people.” For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence. (Is. 3:1-8)

We continue with our look through the book of Isaiah. In this chapter, the focus shifts to a more present reality of judgment. As opposed to the apocalytic nature of the previously announced judgments, the judgments pronounced here are actual and actually in action. God is seen hammering home the reality of judgment here, by concretely pressing the point that judgment is not in some far away future, but is even here now

In verses 1-3, we have God pronouncing judgment in removing key items and personnnel from the people and country of Judah. God touches the key essentials of basic living (v. 1). Beside famine, which will result in removal of supply of bread and water, God threatens to remove even the support for it, thus this shows that even the infrastructure for the economy will be touched. Even though there may be in reality plenteous food and water elsewhere in the country, yet such will not reach them, and thus they will perish of hunger and thirst in a place full of abundance. God next touches the key civil personnel involved in basic governance, without which there would surely be anarchy (v. 2). First, God removes their mighty man and the soldier, thus they would be left defenseless against aggressors. Next is the judge and the prophet — those who give wise counsel and proclaim the Word of God. The diviner and the elder go next, or those who can discern the times and those with wisdom to counsel others. And continuing on in verse 3, the competent military leaders are removed (captain of fifty and man of rank), and the counserlor and skilled magician or artificer (literally from the Hebrew charash) and the expert in charms. So in these two verses, the military compentcy is removed, the civil government next, the prophetic office proclaiming the voice of God also, and those involved in technology and the arts (expert in charms). No society can take such a blow removing all the key personnel essential to her well-being, and such indeed is the mighty judgment of God upon a sinful and adulterous generation. As it is written,

“God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” (Rom. 11:8)

The removal of godly people, the removal of good political leaders, judges, preachers, artisans and creative personnel are judgments upon any people and any society, and Judah will reap this bitter judgment in full. Already, God has started to remove all the godly people from their society. Already, they are facing judgment. But yet worse is to come! God will hand them to boys who are their princes, and to infants to rule over them (v. 4). This does not mean actual boys and infants doing such jobs, though that may well be the case, but that the nobility and the leaders of the nation are mentally no different from immature boys and infants, who will make decisions foolishly and recklessly, focusing on their immediate personal gratification rather than the good of the people and the country. In place of the godly leaders who have been taken away, God gave them useless, cowardly leaders who are not interested in the people and would use their leadership to better themselves and the country's wealth for their personal enjoyment. In society meanwhile, chaose reigns as the law of the jungle comes into effect (another judgment of God), where every man is for themselves and everyone oppresses each other (v. 5). Disrespect for the elders will reign, as God will pay those elders back for their rebellion by giving them rude and disrespectful offspring.

As seen, such lawlessness has already started in the relatively godly reign of King Uzziah. And soon it will take fruition as God removes the godly kings and the kings of Judah will grow progressively more and more wicked, starting with King Ahaz to his grandson King Manesseh and down society distintegrates. And in this chaos, men will desperately attempt to find a leader, even a person who has a slight edge over others (having a cloak) to rule over what is essentially ruins (v. 6). In desperation, they will search for any man who can heal them of their disasters, even those who in reality are no healers with neither bread nor cloak to help them (v. 7). And yet they will not turn to God, who has brought about this diasaster upon them for their rebellion against Him. As verse 8 proclaims, the speech and deeds of Judah and the capital Jerusalem are against the LORD and defy the glorious presence of their God, and as such judgment will come upon them. God's judgments are always just, and this is no exception.

As we look at the description of the calamities which will be poured out on Judah and Jerusalem, the people of God, let us learn and see the judgments of God upon our land. When wickedness prevail, there God has poured out His judgments on the nation and people. When godly preachers and office bearers are decreasing in number, such is a judgment of God against the Church for her compromise and waywardness. When societal order breaks down, this is a judgment from the Lord. All of these visible present manifestations of the reality of God's judgments against the wicked are being displayed in the churches, the nations and the peoples today, and they serve as a promise of future judgments against the ungodly, for us to see, understand, and fear.

In the situation of the Singapore Church, the compromise rampent in the churches are reaping the judgment of God. Already, the Word-faith heresy has entered to rob the flock of their money for the enjoyment of the "pastors". Christians are declining in numbers and influence; our government is getting more and more liberal and amoral, and the various heresies of the West has entered in including the homosexual fascist agenda. This is present judgment against the Church for their compromise and even apostasy from the Gospel which they claim to believe and proclaim. Not to mention the scarcity of good preachers, no thanks to the dumbing down of doctrine and the unbiblical emphasis on feelings, which will make the flock susceptible to every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14) unto their destruction. If anyone dispute that, how many younger church leaders are there in the churches in Singapore? Are they godly, or wordly like the former 'pastor' turn pop star Sun Ho (He Yeow Sun)? O God, help us. Do not treat us as our sins deserve. For we have sinned heiniously against You, and You have handed us over to our own devices and destruction. Forgive us and grant us revival, O Lord, in Your great mercy Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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