The Sin of Idolatry #1483

6 Return to Him against whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted. 7 For in that day every man shall throw away his idols of silver and his idols of gold—sin, which your own hands have made for yourselves. (Isaiah 31:6–7, NKJV)

God is a jealous God. Therefore, Israel was not to make any carved images, bow down before them and serve them (Exodus 20:3-5). Idolatry has always been rebellion against the one true and living God (Acts 17:22-31; Romans 1:18-23). Gods that people make with their own hands are powerless – an utterly futile and sinful endeavor. Make no mistake, there are other idols that we can make that are just as revolting against God as those made of stone and metal. Covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Have we not made an idol of the pleasures of sin when we choose them rather than the will of God (Hebrews 11:24-26)? Does not our own prideful and selfish will become our idol when we follow our own will instead of the Lord’s way of truth (Jeremiah 10:23)? Whatever idol is in your heart, remove it now. Tear it down. Throw it away. Honor, worship and serve the only true God. He will not give His glory and praise to idols carved by the imaginations of men (Isaiah 42:8).

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“This Was Done Three Times” #1482

13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” 15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again. (Acts 10:13–16, NKJV)

Wouldn’t it be grand if parents could tell their child to do some chore only once, and the child would forever do the parents’ will? Of course, that rarely happens. Repetition is important to the learning process. We should not expect it to be different with teaching and learning the will of our Heavenly Father. God sent Peter a vision telling him to do the same thing three times, thereby emphasizing God’s determination in the matter, as well as His expectation that Peter accept the lesson and obey Him (which he did, Acts 10:28-29). God’s word patiently teaches, but we must be willing to learn. Let us learn quickly and obey fully. God’s patient teaching of His word is not our license to disobey Him or otherwise neglect His commands. Repetitious teaching also helps breakdown objections in the good and honest heart (as it did with Peter here). Repetitious teaching also gives us protection from falling back into sin (Philippians 3:1). Furthermore, repetitious teaching helps us remember what we have previously learned (2 Peter 1:12-15). Let us not get bored with hearing God’s word repeated time and again. Such instruction is for our learning, our exhortation, and our spiritual safety.

“We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation” #1481

And it will be said in that day: “Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9, NKJV)

The day of which Isaiah speaks is the great day of spiritual feasting for all people in the mountain of the Lord (Isaiah 25:6; 55:1-7). It is the day of redemption, the time of Messiah’s sovereign reign (Isaiah 2:1-4). It is the day of salvation that now exists in the kingdom of God, the church which Jesus built (Matthew 16:18-19). We rejoice in the day of salvation made by the Lord (Psalm 118:22-24). Today’s verse foretells the celebratory praise of salvation given to God by the redeemed – those who inhabit His holy mountain (Isaiah 11:9; 56:7). These “have waited for Him” and His salvation. We will share in future glory with Jesus when we continue to trust God and do not falter (Colossians 3:1-3). We are full of joyful expectation; therefore, we will wait on the Lord for the salvation He faithfully gives us in Christ (Isaiah 40:27-31). While we wait for the Lord we “rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,” confident that we will receive the goal of our faith, even the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:8-9). The prophet’s expectant praise of God by His people is fulfilled by the church as Christians worship Him “in spirit and truth” for the great salvation He has given us in the Son (John 4:23-24; Acts 2:40-42, 46-47; 1 John 5:11-13).

“I have seen that you are righteous before Me” #1480

Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation. (Genesis 7:1, NKJV)

God called Noah and his family into the ark after Noah built the ark “according to all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22). Why was Noah allowed to enter the ark and saved from the impending flood? God said, “Because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.” Does God see your righteousness? Some would have you believe there is no righteousness ever to be seen in men and women by contorting Isaiah 64:6, “all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” Was Noah’s righteousness like filthy rags? Obviously not. Nor was it self-righteousness as in the Pharisee who trusted in himself (Luke 18:9-14). His was “the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7). This is the kind of righteousness we must practice to be born of God and righteous in His sight (1 John 2:29;  3:7). God counts righteous the person who exercises obedient faith. Without such faith, there is no grace from God. Otherwise, all would have been allowed into the ark and saved from the flood. But, only the righteous are saved. Just like Noah and his family obeyed God and were saved through water, baptism “now saves us” (1 Peter 3:20-21). When you believe and obey the gospel of Christ, you will be saved and righteous – like Noah (Romans 10:10; 6:16).

“Hold fast what you have” #1479

Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (Revelation 3:11, NKJV)

The Christians in Philadelphia are highly commended by the Lord (Revelation 3:7-13). He had confidence they would use the opportunity He had opened for them to persevere and to prevail in their faith despite faithless opponents (Revelation 3:8-10). Christ would come with quick and complete justice upon their enemies. For their part, they were to “hold fast” what they had “firm unto the end” (see Hebrews 3:6). Their steadfastness was necessary in order that “no one may take your crown.” Jesus is crystal clear here. If they did not hold fast it would be possible for someone to take their crown (to prevent their victory). The doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy is absolutely obliterated by this passage. Why hold fast your faith if no one can take your crown? Why anticipate the coming judgment of the Lord against evil as an incentive to remain steadfast in the face of enemies of the faith? The truth is, if Christians abandon holding fast their faith, then they are not victors. They are among those who fall from grace (Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 6:4-6). Let us hold fast to the strength of faith, keep Christ’s word and not deny His name (Revelation 3:8). This is the victory of faith in Christ (1 John 5:4). Be warned. There is no victory in unfaithfulness.

“Be Following Me” #1478

After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.” (Luke 5:27–28, NKJV)

Just like He saw Levi (Matthew), Jesus observes us going about our daily business. He sees and knows where we are putting our attention, our energy, and our goals each day. Like us, Levi was doing his job (which happened to be collecting taxes). Jesus fixed His gaze on this tax collector and said, “be following me” (Lenski, 307). Whatever job you are doing, Jesus calls you to be following Him. He must be your priority above all else. Levi undoubtedly experienced financial loss when he followed Jesus – which he did without hesitation. Do you have that resolve? Are you prepared to follow Jesus, whatever it costs you? Faith compels us to do what Jesus says. We cannot legitimately claim to have sufficient faith in Jesus without readily doing what He says. Jesus acknowledged this when He asked, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say” (Luke 6:46)? Resolve to be like Levi. Jesus is calling you. Be following Him.

Swords into Plowshares #1477

He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4, NKJV)

As Isaiah lifted his eyes to gaze into the heavenly realms of God’s kingdom (ruled by Christ and announced to the world in the gospel), the prophet turned his attention to the effects the gospel would have when it was preached to the world (Mark 9:1; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 36-41). The gospel of Christ pronounces God’s judgments and rebukes against sin and error (John 16:8-13). The result is glorious when sinners are convicted of sin and converted to Christ by the gospel of the kingdom. The house of God, the church, is a kingdom of peace with God and among men (Ephesians 2:14-22). Swords and spears – weapons of war used due to animosity and hatred – are turned into plowshares and pruning hooks – instruments of cultivation and harvest. Isaiah’s prophecy is not predicting a futuristic paradise earth. It is a portrait of enemies reconciled in the church, the kingdom of Christ. Instead of war, peace reigns as the Prince of Peace rules. In Christ’s kingdom we plant the seed of the gospel into hearts for a harvest of souls (Luke 8:15; Matthew 9:35-38; 1 Corinthians 3:6).