Newsletter for June 2007
Not long ago as I was praying I began reading the book of Isaiah. The moment I started reading the first chapter, the Lord began to speak. This is not the "perfect interpretation" of Isaiah chapter one, but rather how He used it to illustrate what I am calling "The Cycle of the Church, where we started, where we've been, and where we're headed. He did not give this to me as an indictment of all Christians, but of the general state of the church. For the most part, this was given as though the Holy Spirit were speaking a narrative. I strongly encourage you to read Isaiah chapter one before going any further in this letter.
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(Isa 1:2) Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
(V2) When the church was first established in the book of Acts, God gave His children everything they needed to grow and mature spiritually. Through the Apostles He established the doctrine by which the church was to live. He fed them with "spiritual manna" and, for the most part, the church was very strong and healthy. It was growing and feeding off the word God was giving. But over time, as the children approached "spiritual adolescence" they began to drift away from the "old timers," the Apostles through whom God had raised and trained them. They saw less and less need to stay focused on the things God had established and began developing their own methods of spiritual development according to what they wanted to do. In short, the church rebelled against God and His proven methods.
(V3) The ox knows who it is that cares for him and the ass knows who it is that feeds him and where to go for his feeding, but the church does not really know God as a loving Father and does not consider that where it is feeding is not the crib the Father has built.
(V4) God sees the church as a sinful nation [1 Peter 2:9 reveals the body of Christ as a nation] with its citizens "laden" (Hebrew "kabed": "burdened and greatly slowed down and made stupid") with the iniquity of their self-developed religious formats. They are doing evil and sowing the seeds of their religion to each subsequent generation. They are children who have become corrupt and are corrupters of God's truth. They have turned their backs on the words of the Lord and through their error, provoke Him to anger. They are in a terribly backslidden condition.
(V5) God has continually sent "voices crying in the wilderness" to deliver truth and chastise them in their rebellion. But they have rebelled even more. Their whole head, or religious leaders, is spiritually sick and their hearts are in a troubled state with spiritual weakness.
(V6) From the sole of the foot, (those sitting in the pews) to the head (those in the pulpits and in positions of authority in the religious organizations) there is no spiritual stability. In the spirit, their doctrines have greatly injured and have spread putrefying "spiritual infections" which have not healed. They have rejected the anointing of the Holy Spirit which could bring about a healing to their injuries (a correction to the error).
(Isa 1:7) Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.
(V7-8) The country represents man's denominations and neo-denominations, those groups which are not officially called denominations. The cities represent the churches in these organizations. Though some denominations number in the millions, in reality they are desolate and empty of the things which produce a healthy, spiritual garden. Though many of their churches number in the tens of thousands, they are as dead as a burned-over field. In the natural, all may look beautiful; but in the spirit they are desolate. In some of these churches, they are so spiritually dull that strangers, people who aren't even born again, are working destruction in their midst. All of this results in my lambs being left in an open field to be attacked by the enemy.
(Isa 1:9) Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
(V9) In the midst of all of this, there is a very small remnant who are holding on to and seeking truth. [These people in verses 2-8 are not rejecting God or Jesus as Savior. They still love Him, but they are so dead in their religion that truth seems like error. The remnant is very, very small in proportion to the entire Body of Christ.]
(Isa 1:10) Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
(V10) God sees the church as a type of Sodom and Gomorrah. What were those cities known for? They were known for their abominable sin and sexual perversions as men and women burned in lust for like genders. In acting out and fulfilling those lusts, life cannot be produced. God sees the church as guilty of doctrinal abominations and perversions. The church has burned in lust for teachings which cannot in any way produce life.
(V’s 11-14) In verses 11-14 the multitude of sacrifices, the blood of the animals, the vain oblations, the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, the solemn meeting, and the appointed feasts all represent the humans efforts and works demanded by the religions of the church. It is all of the form and formality that people are taught will produce great things from God. But He says these religious works bring Him no delight and He is greatly displeased with the Christians living by those works and expecting Him to honor what they do. God declares He is greatly troubled by and hates the fact that they put faith in their works; and that to Him, trusting in these religious works is iniquity. He puts forth the questions, “Who has told you that you must do these things and bring these offerings before you can come before my presence? You did not get these things from me.” He is saying “Stop living by your works and expecting me to answer your prayers that are based on these works.” [It is important to note that at the time this was written, all of these things in verses 11-15 were still required by the Law. Thus, the prophetic nature of this chapter as it relates to the Church can be seen even more clearly.]
(Isa 1:16) Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
(V16-17) God is saying that the church must wash itself of this works-and-performance mentality; that this is an evil way and it must be stopped. The church must be retaught and learn to do only that which is approved of Him. The people must learn to judge teaching by what is truth. The oppressed are those Christians who have been burdened down with wrong teaching. The fatherless are those Christians who have not been taught to know God as their loving, merciful and compassionate Father. The widows are those Christians who, as the bride of Christ, have been separated from the Lordship of Jesus and the understanding of the inheritance they have in Him. God says all of these things must be corrected.
(Isa 1:18) Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
(V18) The blood of their “works sacrifices” has covered the purity of their God-given righteousness. But for those who turn from religion and embrace the fullness of a relationship with God, their righteousness shall come forth.
(Isa 1:19) If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
(V19-20) Those in the church who willingly obey what He is saying will receive the blessings He has promised, blessings their religious works will never produce. But if they continue in their rebellion, the day is coming when God's word, as a two-edged sword, will cut in pieces their religious beliefs which have never produced the Father's will.
(Isa 1:21) How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
(V21) In a spiritual analogy, the Body of Christ is as the citizenry of Zion. But its purity has been soiled as the people prostituted its truth for the approval of religious structure and order. At the first, righteousness, holiness and truth were the standards for the church. But this standard has been destroyed in the churches where man's pursuits and self-approved teachings have killed the voices of spiritual judgment and discernment.
(Isa 1:22) Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:
(V22) Pure silver is as a highly polished mirror and will reflect an image in perfection. The silver represents the image of Christ to which the church is to conform. But man has mixed the dross of what he decided a Christian should look like with the purity of Christ. The result is that Christians take on the soiled, dirty image of religious corruption. The wine represents the born-again nature a person receives directly from God the moment he accepts Jesus as Savior. But the church has watered down the fullness of the reality of what it means to be born again. For example, many Christians truly believe that even though they are born again they still have a sin nature. This is not what the church believed in the beginning.
(Isa 1:23) Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
(V23) A prince is someone who is not a king, but just underneath the king in authority. The princes in this verse are those behind the pulpit who claim to represent the King of kings, but are in rebellion to truth; for anyone who stands in a pulpit and does not preach and teach what was taught to the early church is in rebellion. God sees them as companions of thieves: some of them love the prosperity that is produced as they steal from people with their twisted doctrines; some of them seek the rewards of notoriety, popularity and recognition as they build their churches and ministries with the religion they have married. They do not teach people to truly know God as Father and neither do they teach people the truth about the Lordship of Jesus and a Christian's inheritance; for you cannot teach what you have rejected as truth.
(Isa 1:24) Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:
(V's 24-26) In the last days, there is going to be a great turn-around. God sees those who have polluted His word as enemies and He is going to get vengeance against them. His hand upon the church represents His presence and anointing resting upon Believers. The dross of religion will be removed from the purity of the image of Christ. Tin is a metal which, when highly polished, can look almost identical to silver. Tin in this verse represents that which is false being presented as true and genuine. God is saying that the false is going to be exposed and removed. The "judges at the first" and the "counselors at the beginning" are symbolic terms in reference to the Apostles and Prophets who ministered when the church was established. Their doctrine was pure, as were their motives. God is revealing that there are ministers rising up even now who will be like the Apostles and Prophets in the early church: their doctrine will be pure, having all the dross and tin removed, and their motives will be pure. Unlike the ministers produced by religion, God's hand of anointing and glory will be upon these "judges and counselors." This revival of truth and purity will result in a renewal of true righteousness and genuine, scriptural faith in God and His word.
(Isa 1:27) Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness
(V27) In this revival, truth shall be "redeemed" back to the church through the spiritual judgment and discernment which comes from the Holy Spirit. Fewer and fewer new converts will be led astray from truth.
(Isa 1:28) And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
(V28-31) Those who choose to hold on to their religion and reject the revival of truth and doctrine that is even now being released will be judged as though they are sinners. This is not to say that they will be judged as a lost person, but that when they are judged, they will realize that they never knew the Lord the way they thought. The consuming spoken of here is explained in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15,
(1 Cor 3:10) According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
(Isa 1:29) For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.
(V’s 29-32) An oak symbolizes great strength, and gardens symbolize that which has been planted and is supposed to produce beauty and/or sustenance. Here, the oaks represent what the church has trusted to be great strength in their lives. They have allowed gardens of lies to be sown in their hearts. That in which they have trusted will bring them great shame; for the oaks of their supposedly solid doctrines will be found to be weak, dried out and hollow. What they thought was producing great spiritual sustenance will be exposed as unwatered; for a garden of lies cannot be watered by the river of living water flowing from the throne of God. They thought they were nourished and healthy, but will discover that they were terribly weak. The oaks of their doctrines will be shaken, and just like a dried-up tree that begins to crumble when violently shaken, their doctrines will splinter and fall apart before their eyes, becoming like kindling. Once ignited by the fires of truth and holiness, there is nothing that can salvage them, they will be totally consumed.
These last four verses are a warning to the church that people had better make a choice to reject religion and embrace truth, or they will be facing severe judgment.
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I would call the above a "preliminary judgment" that is taking place here on earth and I liken it to the following verses,
For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. (Hag 2:6-7)
Symbolically and relative to this teaching, the Lord is shaking the "nations" (churches, denominations, and "neo-denominations") of that which did not originate from the "Desire of All Nations," Jesus. He is doing this through His "voices" (ministers) who are not afraid of fewer speaking engagements, losing members in their churches, or a drop in offerings as a result of speaking truth. The anointing on the truth they speak will "shake" the religious traditions of man to reveal the rotten fruit of their doctrines.
In spite of this shaking and ensuing revelation of error, some Christians are going to steadfastly hold on to the traditions they have come to trust. They will identify themselves more with their organization than they will with the fullness of Christ in them, their hope of glory. They will continually scratch their itching ears (2 Tim. 4:1-4) with teachings enabling them to live in their religious comfort zones.
The reason I refer to this as a preliminary judgment is because God is giving people a chance to correct the error before they have to stand before Him on that final Day of Judgment. He loves us so much that He wants us to have every opportunity to “clean house”. While some people might read this letter with trepidation, I find what God is saying to be exciting. It means that as long as I keep seeking Him, He is going to spend as much time with me as needed to help me correct whatever needs correcting. I want His help so I can run my race with all confidence.
Just like the Apostle Paul turned away from the Jewish Law to embrace the fullness of Christ, we must be willing to turn away from the laws of religion to embrace the same fullness. He is always there to help us, and we are always welcome at His throne of grace to find mercy and grace in any time of need. Praise God, we serve a wonderful, mighty and merciful Savior!
Your fellow laborer,