Home thoughts from

Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


August 2014

Daily Bible thoughts 684: Monday 18th August 2014:

Isaiah 30:12-18.

Today’s passage starts with a ‘’Therefore’’ (12). I have heard it said that whenever you find a ‘’Therefore’’ in the Bible ‘’you need to look back and see what it’s there for!’’ Looking at what immediately precedes these words (8-10) , you have to say that the rejection of God’s ‘hard-centred truths’ in preference for softer, gooey, sweet and mushy lies is going to land a person in big trouble! If we will not have God’s way we will end up having our own, and then find it’s not what we wanted after all. I have heard it said that people don’t ‘backslide’ from the Christian faith in a single moment, but they tend to gradually, and perhaps almost imperceptibly, drift away from their moorings over a long period. Tom Hale has pointed out that spiritual decay often goes unnoticed for a long time. The ‘cracks’ and ‘bulges’ are ignored, and then suddenly there is a great collapse. The people of Judah rejected Isaiah’s prophetic ‘’message’’ (12). Instead of walking in the way of God’s truth, they chose to ‘oppress’ the poor and needy, and they preferred to believe ‘deceitful’ words which bolstered them with false confidence. Therefore they were heading for disaster (12-14): ‘’This perverse way of life will be like a towering, badly built wall That slowly, slowly tilts and shifts, and then one day, without warning, collapses – Smashed to bits like a piece of pottery, Smashed beyond recognition or repair…’’ The Message. Isaiah saw that the wall would be destroyed so utterly that none of its fragments would be big enough to even use as a scoop (14).

But it did not have to be this way (15-17). As we have seen often, this is the central call of Isaiah’s entire prophecy: to a quiet, calm, peaceful trust in God: ‘’Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me- The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.’’ The Message. Instead they trusted in their ‘’horses’’ (16). But their enemies were going to pursue them. Even one enemy would make a thousand run away (see Lev.26:8; Deut.32:30). Isaiah could see that, sadly and tragically, in the end there would be nothing left of Judah but a lonely ‘’flagstaff’’ on top of a hill (17).

Then, suddenly, as so often happens in Isaiah, the tone changes; the tempo becomes more upbeat (18). Judgment is coming, but God doesn’t take pleasure in judging His people. He ‘’longs to be gracious’’. But sometimes we have to ‘’wait’’ for His grace and mercy to be manifested. In this case the punishment for sin had to come first. ‘’GOD takes the time to do everything right – everything.’’ The Message. ‘’ The people had to come to the end of themselves.

‘’As long as the people tried to help themselves, sending ambassadors to Egypt, and seeking an alliance against the invader, God could do nothing for them; He could only wait until they returned to simple reliance upon Himself… At first they said No. They were opposed to the idea of simple trust in God. It seemed impossible to believe that if they simply rested on Him He would do better for them than their most strenuous exertions could do for themselves. And all the time God was waiting till every expedient failed, and they were reduced to such a condition that He could step in and save them…all the while God has been waiting…till like a spent struggler in the water, you ceased from your mad efforts and cast yourself back upon his strong everlasting love…The soul that waits for God will always find the God for whom he waits.’’ F.B.Meyer: Great verses through the Bible, p.280

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to cease struggling and start clinging.


Daily Bible thoughts 683: Friday 15th August 2014:

 Isaiah 30: 1- 11

This chapter shows the possibility of making plans without reference to God, and of trusting in that which is not God. Leaders in particular should take good note. But there is a warning sign erected for all believers. Let’s be wary about where we place our confidence. There came a time when the leaders of Jerusalem, under King Hezekiah, sought to make an alliance with Egypt, in order to defend their territory against Assyria (2 Kings 18:19-21). Isaiah foresaw the disastrous consequences of such a move and gave fair warning. In (4), he indicates that Egyptian envoys were already in the cities of ‘’Zoan’’ and ‘’Hanes’’ (in northern Egypt), waiting to meet with their counterparts from Judah. The repeated call of God through Isaiah (and through all Scripture) is to trust in Him; no-one else and nothing else. ‘’Going off to Egypt without so much as asking me…Well, some protection Pharaoh will be! Some hideout, Egypt!…Anyone stupid enough to trust them will end up looking stupid – All show, no substance, an embarrassing farce.’’ The Message. It is imperative that leaders of God’s people should seek the Lord to know His mind, and not just go off at their own whim. When we get any sense that something is not of God, let’s not be ‘’obstinate’’ (1; see also 8-11). If a warning light shows on the ‘dashboard’ don’t ignore it or you will pay a heavy bill. We do well to spend much time in heaven’s ‘consulting rooms’ (2a, 3). Let’s get our advice; our counsel from on high. Today, we can be like the people of Judah were back then (8-11), ignoring the ‘hard teachings of the Bible; cherry-picking God’s promises and largely ignoring His commands. ‘’Tell us what makes us feel better.’’ The Message.

(Compare verses 2 and 3 with chapter 25:4. The Lord would always be to them what they were looking for elsewhere, if only they would run to Him.)

Already envoys from Judah were carrying gifts to the Egyptians in order to buy their protection (6). It seems they were travelling secretly through the Negev, a barren desert wasteland to the south of Judah. But again Isaiah states that there will be no help found in Egypt. When will the church realise that the help of ‘Egypt’ is ‘’utterly useless’’? God uses the nickname: ‘’Rahab the Do-Nothing.’’ (7). Rahab was a mythical sea monster. It was also a symbolic name for Egypt. ‘’Thinking you can buy protection from that hollow farce of a nation? Egypt is all show, no substance, My name for her is Toothless Dragon.’’ The Message.

‘’Egypt was as helpful as a shadow (30:1-5), a wall about to fall down (30:12-13), or a broken clay vessel (30:14). The Egyptians were only men, not God (31:1-3). Are you trusting things that cannot help you while the Lord waits for you to come to Him for help (30:15, 18)? Those who wait on the Lord for help will experience blessings, such as answered prayer (30:18-19), God’s guidance (30:20-21), cleansing (30:22), fruitfulness (30:23-26), victory (30:27-33; 31:4-9) and a song (30:29). The horses of Egypt can never take the place of the chariots of God (Ps.20:7-8).Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, pp.469, 470

Prayer: Lord it is my sincere ambition to hear your voice and do your will. I never want to fight You or be trusting in anyone else. Help me Lord God for I know I need you. Thank you for hearing me.

Daily Bible thoughts 682: Thursday 14th August 2014:

Isaiah 29:13-24

We are undeniably living in troubling times. We are used to seeing and hearing bad news, disseminated by the mass media. But recently it has come cascading out of our televisions and radio sets on a daily basis, flooding our living rooms with stories of appalling evil being carried out just a short plane ride away. It is deeply unsettling. I believe a lot of people feel this. So it’s good to be able to affirm that a day is coming when evil will finally be overthrown. A part of today’s passage seems to anticipate this (20, 21): ‘’The castoffs of society will be laughing and dancing in GOD, the down-and-outs shouting praise to the Holy of Israel. For there’ll be no more gangs on the street. Cynical scoffers will be an extinct species. Those who never missed a chance to hurt or demean will never be heard of again. Gone the people who corrupted the courts, gone the people who cheated the poor, gone the people who victimized the innocent.’’ The Message.

Verse 21 relates to the perversion of justice in Isaiah’s day. It also strikes me that this was Jesus’ experience. He was crucified on false charges. His execution was the greatest miscarriage of justice in history. This leads me on to the further thought that we may not know why we suffer, but we do know that Jesus has suffered more than anyone, and he continues to suffer with us. Furthermore, He has suffered more than anyone. In the face of the enormous problem of mankind’s sufferings, one well-known preacher said that were it not for the cross of Christ he would find it difficult to believe in God. In this passage God expressed anger about a people who could go to ‘church’ on a Saturday (the Sabbath 13), and live badly for the rest of the week (20, 21). It didn’t add up, and it wasn’t true worship. It was a sham, a façade, a cover-up. ‘’These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their hearts aren’t in it. Because they act like they’re worshiping me but don’t mean it, I’m going to step in and shock them awake…’’ (13, 14a) The Message. God’s judgment will fall on all false worship. True worship leads to holiness of life, and ultimately this is going to come about (22-24). Following the exile the Jews did re-establish a godly community in Jerusalem. But first there would have to be a purging. (Ultimately, of course, these final verses in the chapter look forward to the Messianic age when there will be perfect holiness.)

The spiritual blindness we were considering yesterday (9, 10) is linked with lifeless formalism in worship (13; see verse 18, however, for the good end to the story. A day will come when the deaf will hear and the blind see.). But for now, the people of Jerusalem worshiped God with their lips but not with their lives. There was a ‘credibility gap’ between their talk and their walk. (See Jesus’s use of verse 13 in Mark 7:6, 7). Because of their blindness and hypocrisy, judgment was going to come to the people of the city. Their human ‘’wisdom’’ and ‘’intelligence’’ would ‘’vanish’’ when faced with the ‘’wonder upon wonder’’ of God’s judgments (see 1 Corinthians 1:19, 20). They thought they were wiser than God. They made their plans, and formed their political alliances and thought God didn’t know. Although they engaged in public worship they were practical atheists. In fact, they were like clay pots questioning the very existence of the Potter who made them (15, 16). ‘’You treat the potter as a lump of clay. Does a book say to its author, ‘’He didn’t write a word of me’’? Does a meal say to the woman who cooked it, ‘’She had nothing to do with this’’?’’ The Message. It is good that the chapter does not conclude at this point. We have a God who deals in turnarounds.

Prayer: I ask that my lips and my life will move together down the same road of godly living. Keep me from mouthing empty platitudes in your presence dear Lord.

Daily Bible thoughts 681: Wednesday 13th August 2014:

Isaiah 29:1-10

Destruction (1-4): Jerusalem is called ‘’Ariel’’ which means ‘’altar hearth’’ in the Hebrew language. This great city, with its prestigious past (1a) as David’s capital, and which was the site of God’s altar, would be turned into a hearth of burning embers. We cannot live forever off the spiritual capital of the past. Although armies such as those of Assyria and Babylon would besiege the city, it would actually be the Sovereign Lord working through them (2, 3). No amount of religion can save people from God’s judgment (1b). He wants something that affects the heart, and not mere rituals (13).

Deliverance (5-8): This speaks of a sudden and surprising divine intervention: ‘’Because, surprise, as if out of nowhere, a visit from GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies.’’(5b, 6a) The Message. In God’s good time, those who seek to destroy Jerusalem will themselves be destroyed. The attacking forces will ‘wake up’, as if from a dream, and discover that instead of being the attackers, they have become the ones under attack. Hold on to this truth today that God can turn bad situations around dramatically, and when He moves He regularly does so speedily. ‘’They will wake up and discover their dreams of success have become nightmares of defeat. God knows how and when to deliver His people.’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.469.

Dullness (9-12): But although the far off future looked bright, the present reality facing Isaiah was bleak. The people of Jerusalem were spiritually blind. In a spiritual sense, they were in a drunken stupor; they were asleep (9, 10). They were unable to see or read or hear what Isaiah was trying to say. Even the leaders, who were able to read, couldn’t read what Isaiah had written. It was ‘’sealed’’ – closed off from their spiritual eyes (11): ‘’What you’ve been shown here is somewhat like a letter in a sealed envelope. If you give it to someone and tell her, ‘’Read this,’’ she’ll say, ‘’I can’t. The envelope is sealed.’ And if you give it to someone who can’t read and tell him, ‘’Read this,’’ he’ll say, ‘’I can’t read.’’ The Message.

‘’God’s people were like drunken sleeping blind men trying to read a sealed book! They had no understanding of spiritual things nor did they worship God in the Spirit (Matt.15:8-9).’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.469.

As we will go on to see tomorrow, this blindness is associated with a dead formalism in worship (13). Tom Hale says some sobering words about this which we will do well to take to heart: ‘’The spiritual condition of many churches today is similar to that of Jerusalem in Isaiah’s time: people today engage in lifeless worship; they are not able to see God or to understand his word. When we close our hearts to God, He makes our eyes blind and our ears dull. As a result, our worship becomes mechanical and lifeless. But if we seek God with all our heart, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13); and He will open up our spiritual eyes and ears and enable us to know His will and to worship Him aright.’’ The Applied Old Testament Commentary, p.1028.

Prayer: Help us Father God, to worship you in spirit and in truth. I want to be the kind of worshipper that you are seeking.

Daily Bible thoughts 680: Tuesday 12th August 2014:

Psalm 106:40-48

Today we conclude our long journey through this Psalm of confession.

‘’Many times he delivered them…’’ (43a). These words could be taken as a summary of Old Testament history in totality. Verses 40-43 refer not only to the period of the Judges (see the book of ‘Judges’), but also to the time of the monarchy (see the books of ‘1 and 2 Samuel’ and ‘1 and 2 Kings’.) For hundreds of years the Lord endured the Israelites’ recurring idolatry and rebellion. (There is a repetitive cycle in the Old Testament of sin leading to oppression leading to repentance leading to deliverance, and then more sin…and so on and so forth!!) Finally God’s longsuffering reached its limit and He ‘’handed them over to the nations (41) – especially Assyria and Babylon finally.

Like the Israelites, we too have a ‘’bent’’ toward rebellion by nature, and we need to learn from them the lesson that sin, unchecked, leads to wasting away (43). ‘’Over and over God rescued them, but they never learned – until finally their sins destroyed them.’’ That was their story. It could be ours, if we don’t heed the powerful lessons of Biblical history

But the captivity in foreign lands was not the end of the story! God preserved a remnant of His people, who, in their exile, sought Him and He heard them and remembered the covenant He had made with this people (44, 45). That doesn’t mean that God’s memory had been failing Him and He’d forgotten all about it for a time. He isn’t subject to our human frailties. Rather it means that He had regard to the covenant in what He did. So, some of the captives began to return (see the books of ‘Ezra’ and ‘Nehemiah’). ‘’ He remembered his Covenant with them, and, immense with love, took them by the hand. He poured out his mercy on them while their captors looked on, amazed.’’ The Message.

But there were others still exiled, like this psalmist (some think) and he cried out to God: ‘’Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from the nations…’’ (47). (It’s important to say that not every commentator agrees that there is a reference to the great Assyrian/Babylonian captivity in verses 44-47)

‘’That is also our cry, the cry of the Church in our generation. We too stumble and sin and compromise. We too need to be continuously ‘’gathered from the nations’’ – consecrated, set apart – so that we might fulfil our calling to be Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Tom Hale: The Applied Old Testament Commentary, p.903.

‘’The psalm is best simply heard as the song of the church in the world, subject to its enticements, overcome by its powers, losing its identity by compromise, but longing and praying for a better day and praising the God who, amid the fluctuations of his people, is the same from everlasting to everlasting.’’ J.A. Motyer: The New Bibkle Commentary, p.557

Prayer: Lord God, have mercy on your wayward and compromised people. Please forgive our sins, break our chains and restore us to fulfil our God-given destiny.

Daily Bible thoughts 679: Monday 11th August 2014:

 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: ‘’We must form our estimate of men less from their achievements and failures and more from their sufferings.’’

It is thought that in this passage Paul was probably talking about his own experience, in a humble way. In the opening verses he talks about knowing ”a man in Christ” who had a glorious visit to ”the third heaven” (2), but then he seems to identify himself as this man in (7). There are times when preachers may feel it is wise to give personal sermon illustrations in such a fashion. It appears to be the case that along with great privilege there also comes great responsibility, and there can be great cost too(7). Paul got to see ‘’surpassingly great revelations’’ but at the same time he paid no small price. There are gifts from God that don’t feel like gifts: ”there was given me” (7). There are things God gives His children that are like medicine; they leave a nasty taste in the mouth but they are for our benefit. I remember a preacher quoting someone who said: ”We weep at blessings clothed as sorrows”. That may take a little bit of thinking about , but the longer you have been a Christian the more likely it is that you will have experienced some of these ‘blessings’. ‘’Because of the extravagance of these revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty!’’ The Message.

No one can say with certainty what Paul’s ‘’thorn’’ was (7). Clearly, it was something Satan was allowed to do to Him (see also Job 1, 2 and Luke 22:31-34), but Paul knew that the devil was not in charge and that the Lord could remove it if He chose to do so (8). It may well be that the ‘’thorn’’ can take many forms, but it is something that comes our way to keep us humble and dependent on God, trusting in His power and not our own strength. I can think of difficult experiences that have driven me to prayer and fasting and caused me to cling harder to ‘the Rock who is higher than I.’ I’m sure you can too. A close relative once wondered out loud in conversation with me, ‘Why is it I have to face suffering to really have the prayer life that I should?’

Paul’s intercession was earnest (8). It was intense and heartfelt. He ‘’pleaded’’. ‘’At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it.’’ The Message. It is important to take note that Paul’s prayer was answered, but the specific request was denied (9). He got a very clear answer from God. He knew precisely what the Lord had said. There would not be a removal of the cause of weakness but an infusion of divine strength (9a). Do we fail to see some answers to prayer because they arrive in a different guise to the one we expected?

Paul’s response was not to kick back at God’s answer and complain (9b, 10). He wanted to know ‘’Christ’s power’’; he wanted to live and work in true strength. So he fully submitted to God’s work in him, even though his initial response was to say, ‘Please could I not have this?!’ (8). We might say that it was a blessing ‘clothed’ as a sorrow, and Paul came to see that. ‘’Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size…I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.’’ The Message.

R.T. Kendall says that ‘’suffering is the key to anointing.’’

Prayer: I thank you Lord that you turn our weaknesses into your ‘’opportunities’’ so that the glory goes to you.


Daily Bible thoughts 678: Friday 8th August 2014:

 Isaiah 28:19b – 29

We have seen how the people of Israel would not listen to God’s message and would not trust in His Word. Therefore they were about to experience worse than their worst nightmare (19b).  There is coming a disaster, says Isaiah, in which ”There will be no place where you can rest, nothing to hide under” (20). The Message. As someone said, you have as much protection from lies as you do from a blanket that is too short. The more we resist God the harder we make it for ourselves (22a). ”Sober up, friends, and don’t scoff. Scoffing will just make it worse.” The Message. Just as the Lord fought against Israel’s enemies at ”Mount Perizim” and in the ”Valley of Gibeon’’ (see Joshua 10:10-12; 2 Samuel 5:20) so He is now going to fight against His own (21). Surely there is something ”strange” and ”alien” about this task for God. It’s not what He would want to do to His people. But their stubborn refusal to trust Him; their resistance of His Word and Spirit have made this inevitable. The rejection of God is serious. It breaks His heart, and brings the very worst kind of trouble upon us. 

Verses 23-29 are a parable, showing that God chooses the right instrument at the right time to carry out His judgments. Just as a farmer employs different methods for the various crops and seasons, so the Lord has a special plan for each nation, for each generation, and for each person. ”Listen to me now. Give me your closest attention. Do farmers plough and plough and do nothing but plough? Or harrow and harrow and do nothing but harrow? After they’ve prepared the ground, don’t they plant? Don’t they scatter dill and spread cumin, Plant wheat and barley in the fields and raspberries along the borders? They know exactly what to do and when to do it. Their God is their teacher. And at the harvest, the delicate herbs and spices, the dill and cumin, are treated delicately. On the other hand, wheat is threshed and milled, but still not endlessly. The farmer knows how to treat each kind of grain. He’s learned it all from GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies, who knows everything about when and how and where.” The Message 

Why would anyone not listen to the God of verse 29? I know I need His ‘wonderful counsel’ and ‘magnificent wisdom’ today. There are nuts I need to crack and I don’t know how to resolve these issues.  From out of His knowledge about everything I need His insight on some things. I am thankful that I can count on God helping me if I ask in faith (James 1:5-7). This also applies to you as well of course! 

Prayer: From out of the unfathomable ocean of your Divine wisdom, I pray that I may be touched by those splashes of insight that I need to live my life for you today.


Daily Bible thoughts 677: Thursday 7th August 2014:

 Isaiah 28:11- 19a

We saw yesterday how the people of Israel would not listen to Isaiah. They accused him of babbling at them as if they were children (9, 10). God says, ‘Okay, I will send you some real ‘babblers’; people of a foreign tongue (the Assyrians that is.) You will listen to them (11-13). Sadly, it would be through pain that they would hear God’s message (13b); through injury and captivity. Then this message – the one they rejected from Isaiah’s mouth – would get through to them (13a; see 10). We so often insist on having our learning the hard way. But it didn’t have to be like this for them (12), and it doesn’t for us, if only we will listen to God and respond to Him today. What is God saying to you now? Why would you resist Him and push His Word away? If you do, you are walking in the direction of unnecessary trouble and heartache.

”But that’s exactly how you will be addressed. God will speak to this people In baby talk, one syllable at a time – and he’ll do it through foreign oppressors. 

These are powerfully pertinent words to today’s world (14, 15) where people still readily take refuge in lies and falsehoods. Even Christians can bury their heads in the sand and refuse to face unpleasant facts! It was like the leaders of Jerusalem had made a bargain with death whereby death had agreed not to touch them. They were self-deluded, living in a fool’s paradise. While they had their heads in the sand, the wild animal was heading towards them with teeth bared. ”Now listen to GOD’s Message, you scoffers, you who rule this people in Jerusalem. You say, ”We’ve taken out good life insurance. We’ve hedged all our bets, covered all our bases. No disaster can touch us. We’ve thought of everything. We’re advised by the experts. We’re set.” ” The Message. 

As God was going to apply the standards of ”justice” and ”righteousness” (17), anything that did not match up to those standards was going to be swept away. That included the false ‘foundation’ laid by the leaders of Jerusalem. They had put their confidence in themselves and their political alliances, and so they were on an exceedingly ‘sticky wicket’. Throughout, God had been calling through Isaiah, to the people, to place their confidence in Him. ”And this is the meaning of the stone: A TRUSTING LIFE WON’T TOPPLE.” The Message. With faith in God they would be safe. But without that trust they were headed for disaster . ”A hailstorm will knock down the shantytown of lies, and a flash flood will wash out the rubble. Then you’ll see that your precious life insurance policy wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Your careful precautions against death were a pack of illusions and lies.” The Message. 

The only sure foundation that can withstand the surging torrents of judgment is the one laid by God. According to the apostles Paul and Peter, that ‘foundation’; that ‘stone’ God established is none other than Jesus Christ (1 Cor.3:11; 1 Peter 2:4-8). Ensure that He is your refuge, and that you are not relying on an extremely palatable lie. The devil has a plateful of falsehoods to set before you, if you will only care to sample them. Don’t! They will destroy you. 

Prayer: Lord God, I choose to hide in you. You are my only secure Refuge from the storm.


Daily Bible thoughts 676: Wednesday 6th August 2014:

Isaiah 28:1-10

There are tough words in the Bible we may not always want to hear. In a letter to ‘Christianity Today’ (June 2014) someone wrote: ”The marketing that’s plaguing much of the evangelical church isn’t working. We need to tell the truth: Following Jesus will cost you everything, life will still be hard, you’ll need to find your identity in Christ alone and die to yourself daily – but living for him is so worth it.” The people Isaiah was preaching to had an unteachable spirit. They didn’t want to hear his sermons (9, 10). They told him not to speak to them like children.

Verses 1-4 are about Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom. It was a beautiful and prosperous city. Its inhabitants were proud of it. But the people of Samaria had a major drink problem (and that was especially true of the leaders, who were setting an appalling example: verses 7, 8). So this ”glorious beauty, set on the head of a fertile valley’’ had become a ”fading flower” (1, 4) That happens to people who drink too much. They wilt like cut flowers. Places and people get ruined in a haze of dissipation. ”…shabby and washed out and seedy – Tipsy, sloppy-fat, beer-bellied parodies of a proud and handsome past.” The Message. An excessive use of alcohol lies at the back of many (if not most) social evils. We see again how pride goes before a fall. They were so proud of their lovely capital. But this city, weakened by much sin, would be easy pickings for the Assyrians (4). Taking Samaria would be as simple as plucking a ripe fig from a tree. (See also the reference to God’s use of the Assyrian army in verse 2). ”Samaria, the party hat on Israel’s head, will be knocked off with one blow. It will disappear quicker than a piece of meat tossed to a dog.” The Message. Too much drink lays people low (1b). This happens physically, but in other ways too. In these more liberal days in the church, we need to ensure that the pendulum doesn’t swing too far in the opposite direction. Wine is a gift of God to be enjoyed and used wisely. But drunkenness is expressly forbidden in the Bible (Deut.21:18-21; Prov.20:1; 23:20, 21, 29-35). Leaders in particular need to be careful about their example, and ensure that their liberty doesn’t destroy a weaker brother. Some may still find good grounds to be total abstainers, even though strictly speaking they don’t have to be. We must respect that. If we insist on living too close to the ‘border’ with the world, we may find that we all too easily slip over it.

What an appalling picture Isaiah paints in (7, 8): ”These also, the priest and prophet, stagger from drink, weaving, falling-down drunks, Besotted with wine and whiskey, can’t see straight, can’t talk sense. Every table is covered in vomit. They live in vomit.” The Message. Look at the language. The problem isn’t whether a leader (or follower) takes a drink, but whether he consumes such a quantity that he (or she) becomes ”befuddled” and they stagger and stumble out of control. When people come to their spiritual leaders for instruction they need a different Spirit to be controlling their speech and behaviour. A Japanese proverb says: ”First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes the man.” I like the words of a man who had been a drunkard. He said: ”I have no problem believing Jesus turned water into wine, for He turned beer into furniture in my house.”

 God wants our confidence to be in Him, and not in our ‘Samarias’, our beautiful man-made objects of pride (5, 6). What people are seeking through getting drunk etc is really to be found in God alone. He will be ”the beautiful crown on the head of what’s left of his people…” The Message. Even in the middle of a prophecy about judgment, God spoke blessing promises to the remnant who would come through this ‘furnace’ of testing. Here are things we can take encouragement from too. ”He will be a spirit of judgment,…when you will be in judgment. Submit your judgment to Him, that He may think through your mind or direct you to a just conclusion.” F.B.Meyer: Great verses through the Bible, p.279. It is also good to know that in Him we will find strength as we seek to ”turn back the battle at the gate.”      

Prayer: Lord let me always find my true satisfaction in you and never turn to the ‘fading’ substitutes this world offers.


Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: