On Fasting at the Feast (Isaiah 25)

TLS MainThe Lord’s Supper is a feast. Too many come to the table as if to a wake instead of a wedding; a funeral instead of a festival. In this age we do fast, but the Lord’s Supper is a breaking in of the future, and thus, a feast (cf. Matthew 9:14–17).

This is why I don’t consider the issue of wine non-consequential to optimally partaking of the Supper. There’s no getting around it, the wine of the kingdom is wine (Isaiah 25:6). Drunkenness is certainly a sin, but wine is a blessing. Can we abuse wine? Of course. But as Luther quipped, we can abuse women; shall we abolish women?  The best abuse prevention is a holy joy in the gift as a blessing from God. Isaac blessed Jacob saying, “May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine.” Israel’s covenant obedience meant vat’s bursting with wine (Deuteronomy 7:13, Proverbs 3:9–10).

Wine was not only a symbol of blessedness, but of man’s joy in that blessedness. “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart (Psalm 104:14–15).” God gave wine, and He gave it to gladden man’s heart. “Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life (Ecclesiastes 10:19).” Oh that that verse would infect and ferment our coming to the Lord’s Table. If ever there were a bread made for holy laughter, tis the Bread of life. If ever there were a wine to gladden life, tis the blood of the new covenant.

The inverse of all this is seen in Isaiah 24:11, “There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine; all joy has grown dark; the gladness of the earth is banished.” The curse means no wine, no joy, no gladness.  At the Lord’s table, blessedness has swallowed up the curse. Wine and bread abound again. Wine isn’t inconsequential because it testifies that the Lord’s Supper is a feast and that our joy should be full. As we come to the table, let us sing like victors, eat like the married, and raise the glass in honor of the King.

Isaiah 66:1-6 & A Tale of Two Kings

Some words cause us to tremble; like when you are cheerfully carrying on at school as if it were any other day until your friend asks you if you are ready for that killer test or if you have finished that massive project. Originally you did not tremble when the test was announced but now you do. You cram, you sweat, you ask questions, you think of every possible excuse not to take it. You start to fake symptoms of a serious stomach virus that you say has been plaguing your family for decades and alas you also must be doomed for chronic diarrhea. But then again there are the kids who when asked about the test say no and just don’t care.

* * * * *

It’s funny how some people can be so closely related and so different. Bethany loves to watch John and Kate (and secretly to you [prior to this] I enjoy watching it with her). It is amazing how different the sextuplets are.

* * * * *

When Josiah was 18 years he made plans for the temple to be refurbished. While the repairs were going on Hilkiah the Priest found ‘the book of the law”, most likely the scroll of Deuteronomy, if not all the Pentateuch. Upon hearing the curse sanction invoked by God upon those who do not heed the words of the law and thereby breaking the covenant stipulations He tore his garments and wept; his heart was tender and penitent. His heart trembled at the word of God. He sent for prophets to inquire of the Lord, and though the curse would surely come upon the people, yet for Josiah’s reign there would be peace. This is the heart that draws the glorious light of the radiance of God’s gracious smile.

Jehoikim was his son. When he was 29 when Jeremiah sent Baruch to the temple to read all of his prophecies against Jerusalem. Again the word of the Lord against Judah came from the temple to the King, but the reaction was very different. The king burned the scroll, having cut off each column after having been read. The text says he was not afraid and that he did not tear his clothes. His lineage was cut off from the throne and He was carried off into Babylonian captivity by Nebuchadnezzar.

So how does one after initially responding in trembling repentance and faith upon hearing the gospel continue to tremble before God’s word. The thought of hearing some words causes me to tremble. I don’t ever want to hear Bethany say, “I hate you”, “I’m leaving you”, or “You don’t love me”, so I behave differently. I don’t ever want to disappoint God, although I daily do. When the work reveals to me both how grotesque sin is and how great my sins are it cause me to tremble.

And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God. …But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. – Deuteronomy 28:1,2,15

Isaiah 63:15-64:12 & Repenting of Bad Prayer

Isaiah is teaching us how to pray. We don’t learn to pray by listening to one another. We learn to pray by reading the Bible. God wants us to pray with boldness and passion for the growth of his kingdom. – Ray Ortlund Sr.

Ho do you talk in the presence of greatness? If that someone that you admire crossed your path today what are the chances that if you happened to be bold enough to say hello that an awkward silence would soon ensue? I wouldn’t know how to speak to a king, much less the King of Kings. Too often my prayers are repetitious, insincere, lazy, and without the proper degree of reverence. What if we talked to an earthly king in such a way? For how many of my prayers do I need to ask repentance? My heart comes full of greed, selfishness, and pride and I ask God to bless me? I ‘repent’ only so I can feel safe in between sins.

Isaiah teaches me how to pray, and oh how very unpopular is this kind of prayer. It is a lament. Lamenting is a lost art. This is why if we only take our cues from the prayers we hear we may never pray this type of prayer. Churches rarely have extended times of prayer in their services, less have regular meeting devoted to nothing but prayer, and fewer if any say lets get together to lament before our God.

Lament is the lover’s song of loss. People may lament the loss of health, wealth, or position, but the greatest lament occurs at the loss of a parent, a child, a spouse. If there is no lament, was there love?

Do we really want God in our lives, our churches, our communities? Sadly I think I would often be satisfied with really good music, and entertaining sermon, good media, nice lighting, friendly people, and lunch together after services. Would we be sad if God wasn’t there?

Is He?

What do you leave church impressed with?

All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down,
Brethren pray and Holy Manna will be showered all around.

Being biblical is not enough; we must be a people after God’s own heart, a people who do not merely want to know about God, but a people who know God, a people who desire a knowledge of the Holy.

God teach me to pray. Teach me to lament.

Isaiah 62:1-12 & At the Tree

I had a tree house. My dad helped me build it. Actually he mostly built it and I watched and suggested. Although after he built it I properly accessorized it such that it was no longer just a tree house; it became a fort, a command center, a hideout, a bunker, and an armory all in one. It was there I was no longer known as Josh King; I took on several aliases: Dutch (Stolen that from the Schwarzenegger hit “Predator”. If ever he should have won an Oscar…), Snake Eyes, and Rambo (not the new-old version, but the old-young version). I became a ninja / commando / superhero / assassin in that tree… um… I mean fort / secret base / armory thingy.

We long for another identity as a child, is it because we know something is wrong with the one we have? Though made in the image of God we are seriously marred by sin.

But in Christ we are made new.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

At the tree house I imagined a new identity.

At the tree Jesus bore the sins of my real identity.

In Christ I have a new identity, it is real, and it is better than anything I ever imagined. Here I am known by names such as: Holy, Saint, Child, Redeemed, Loved, Chosen, and Righteous.

Isaiah 61 & 2nd & 3rd Generation Christians

One of my favorite chapters in Minority Report warns how forgetting history disempowers us. Today we fail to recognize false teaching because we are unaware of the heresies that the church condemned in the past. The Shack would not have been tolerated by Athanasius or the rest of the council of Nicaea.

*****

Do you remember David Platt speaking about his mission trip to China a couple of years ago at student life? These Chinese Christian would stealthily travel for miles to a remote location, sitting on small uncomfortable chairs in a room lit by one bulb chairs to hear the word of God taught for hours a day, weeks at a time. There would always be someone on guard, as they were risking their lives to hear the Word of God, evidently to these Chinese Christian the rewards of studying the Bible outweighed the risk.

Let’s say a few migrate to the United States. Every time they now gather an atmosphere of joy and thanksgiving abounds. They are deeply thankful to God for the freedoms they now enjoy. But a shift slowly takes place. The second generation vaguely remembers the past, it has become a shadow, and as the shadow grows, the light of yesterday shines less brightly. With the third generation the shadow of the past is all that remains, and their joy is less for it.

You cannot survive of the faith of your fathers, it must be your own. Their history must become your reality. Do you see yourself as the captive Jew in this text? The Hebrew who has sinned greatly against God, who has been driven out from the His presence, outside the place of His blessing? Do you see how sin has devastated you, placed you in bondage, abused you, and left you in tattered slave garments? Or have you always assumed His saving love and mercy?

A beautiful headdress only comes to those who have covered their heads with the ashes of repentance. A bright, healthy face shining with joy belongs to those who have mourned and wept over sin. Those who are clothed with praise are those who first wore the clothes of a desperate beggar.

Is the history of the saints your history? Is the faith once delivered to the saints your faith?  If this text does not come as the most joyful of news, if you do not leap at the concepts of liberation and freedom – then perhaps liberation and freedom are not yours.

Isaiah 58 & Suggestions

Adopt a child from Compassion, as a family or with a group of students. They also work with you so that you can visit your sponsored child.If you are thinking about a career as a doctor, nurse, dentist etc. start looking for ways to donate you time now for medical missions and the poor.

If you are a pilot donate you skill, time, and plane to the mission field.

Write a card to encourage and uplift those in difficult times.

Spend less and give more to your church and charities.

Visit a nursing home, orphanage, or widows.

Develop a relationship with a missionary. Pray for him. Send him gifts. Ask what you can do to help.

Volunteer at John 3:16 and support the Food Bank.

Befriend the friendless person at school or work that no one else will.

If you want to go into law volunteer your services for the needy in your area and abroad with someone like IJM.

Mow your neighbor’s lawn when they are gone for vacation.

Listen to the hurt, depressed, grieving, and lonely.

And most of all seek that they might know and forever enjoy the one true God. For what good is it if we seek the healing of the body while they loose their soul. It is good to patch the hole in the kitchen wall, it is better to put out the violent fire threatening the whole house, it is best to do both. Pray over their souls. Listen to their thoughts and beliefs. Share the blessed gospel of Jesus Christ.

Any other suggestions?

Isaiah 57:14-21 & peace

What I think and feel are not the greatest gauges. For instance in my opinion there is a type of person who mows their lawn in very few clothes thinking they are really cute when they are not. If it is a woman she may be in a bathing suit or sports bra; if a man it is short shorts, a mesh shirt, or no shirt. The only reason I think thus of such persons is because I know I have caught myself at times thinking I was pretty cool only to look back and realize I was a goob. How do we know if we stand in genuine peace with God or are only self deluding our own souls? Here is a rehash of the four ways John Owen gives in “The Mortification of Sin“.

1) Men certainly speak peace to themselves when their so doing is not attended with the greatest detestation imaginable of that sin in reference whereunto they speak peace to themselves, with abhorency of themselves for it.

Sam likes to eat facial tissue and toilet paper. Last night Bethany was in her chair reading her bible and I was in my chair reading John Paton and Sam thought we were so engrossed in our reading that we wouldn’t notice his swapping a used tissue sitting on an end table. He quickly put it down, sorry only that he had been caught. Occasionally I will come down from my shower in the morning to find the tissue box on the floor with a slobbery tissue hanging out the box. Yeah, I’m sure you will now never again use a tissue when you visit our casa. Do we want forgiveness while still harboring a love and a desire for sin in our heart? Not that sin is no longer enticing, but is there a hatred for sin now alongside it?

2) When men measure out peace to themselves upon the conclusions that their convictions and rational principles will carry them out unto, this is a false peace and will not abide.

Is the act of repentance nothing more than a mental, cerebral exercise whereby we follow a formula we knkow we are supposed to follow? Is there true spiritual conviction, or are you simply wanting to escape a guilty conscience and feel better about yourself, looking for a prescription so that you can go on about your own business? Do you want to cease sinning, kill the sin, make right your wrongs, and walk in obedience, or do you merely desire a relieve conscience?

3) We speak peace to ourselves when we do it slightly.

“Oops…I’m sorry, I won’t do it again”, said with a slight grin and tiny laugh after “accidently” hurting our friend. Do we see our sins as cosmic treason or comical oopses?

4) Whoever speaks peace to himself upon any one account, and at the same time hath another evil of no less importance lying upon his spirit, about which he hath had no dealing with God, that man cries “Peace” when there is none.

When you cry out in repentance seeking forgiveness and peace, do you hate all sin as sin? Do you see God as holy and long to obey Him perfectly in all your life or only wish to get rid of this nagging sin because of its irritating side effects?

Do you seek peace with God so that you may fellowship with him, or only peace within your own soul?

Isaiah 55 & My Way

The wisdom of this world:

My Way by Paul Anka and Frank Sinatra

And now, the end is near, and so I face, the final curtain.
My friend, I’ll say it clear,
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.
I’ve lived, a life that’s full, I’ve traveled each and every highway.
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.
I did, what I had to do, and saw it through, without exemption.
I planned, each charted course, each careful step, along the byway,
and more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew,
When I bit off, more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up, and spit it out.
I faced it all, and I stood tall,
and did it my way.

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried,
I’ve had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing.
To think, I did all that, and may I say — not in a shy way,
“Oh no, oh no not me,
I did it my way”.

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things, he truly feels,
And not the words, of one who kneels.
The record shows, I took the blows —
And did it my way!
I did it my way.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vua8wka5Cys]

The Wisdom of God:

My Savior, My God by Aaron Shust

 

I am not skilled to understand

What God has willed, what God has planned

I only know at His right hand

Stands one who is my Savior

 

I take Him at His word and deed

Christ died to save me; this I read

And in my heart I find a need

Of Him to be my savior

 

That He would leave His place on high

And come for sinful man to die

You count it strange, so once did I

Before I knew my Savior

 

My Savior loves, My Savior lives

My Savior’s always there for me

My God: He was, my God; He is

My God is always gonna be

 

Yes, living, dying, let me bring

My strength, my solace from this spring;

That He who lives to be my King

Once died to be my Savior

 

That He would leave His place on high

And come for sinful man to die

You count it strange, so once did I

Before I knew my Savior

[www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvBG-FVbGFs]

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 

Sermon Quotes from More than Slavery

No matter how well we speak of Jesus as a pattern we have done nothing unless we point him out as the substitute and sinbearer. – C.H. Spurgeon in Death for Sin, and Death to Sin

He himself dying while he made our sins to die; Himself crucified while He crucified our sins once for all. – C.H. Spurgeon in Death for Sin, and Death to Sin

What looked like (and indeed was) the defeat of goodness by evil is also, and more certainly, the defeat of evil by goodness. Overcome there, He was himself overcoming. Crushed by the ruthless power of Rome, He was Himself crushing the serpent’s head (Gen 3:15). The victim was the victor, and the cross is still the throne from which He rules the world. – John R.W. Stott in The Cross of Christ

Isaiah 54 & “Ken Lee”

As one journeys out of Isaiah 53 into Isaiah 54 a song should be birthed. In fact, we are commanded to sing, and not just sing, but to break forth into singing. This breaking forth is not a cute, pretty little song in our hearts either; we are to cry aloud or wail this song.

Is your singing properly birthed? Does it flow from properly thinking about the glorious salvation wrought by the mighty arm of God? When you read rich theological content does it stir your heart as you reflect and meditate on it causing you to go musical? When you sing is it the atmosphere and the music that excite you or the precious truths about which you are singing?

(Thanks for the video Dbro)

[youtube.com/watch?v=FQt-h753jHI]