:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Isaiah Chapter 9:8-21
vs. 8-10
- “The Lord has spoken out against Jacob; His judgment has fallen upon Israel. And the people of Israel and Samaria, who spoke with such pride and arrogance, will soon know it. They said, “We will replace the broken bricks of our ruins with finished stone, and replant the felled sycamore-fig trees with cedars.”
- The people of Israel were putting themselves and their own wisdom above that of God. The cities that had been ruined because of their sin, they were going to rebuild... better than before... better than when God was with them. The sycamore-fig trees that had been cut down and destroyed... were going to be replaced with cedar trees.
- I was reading through some commentaries ( on this verse. Basically, it was talking about the history of the bricks and trees.
- The bricks were made of clay and straw, and eventually, being exposed to constant sun, they would just crumble and deteriorate. So the buildings had to be frequently fixed and/or replaced.

- Finished stone on the other hand would last longer. And would probably look nicer...
- The sycamore-fig trees were incredibly intriguing to me. They are a short tree that sounds like it's a little bushy. The wood is a kind of spongy. The Egyptians used the wood for the mummy coffins because of it's antiseptic properties. The fruit (get this... :) grows in bunches like grapes straight off of the TRUNK. Not the branches... the TRUNK. (
- These trees were not looked upon as valuable, but they were very useful. David appointed a special person over the head of all the care of the sycamore-fig trees just as he did over the olive trees.
- Sycamore trees also have HUGE root systems. It sends out roots in every direction and DEEP. When Jesus in Luke 17:6 that if you had faith you could tell the mulberry or sycamore (depending on your translation) to be uprooted and moved to the sea... it was not an easy feat.
- These trees were planted along side of the roads. Their leaves were huge and offered great places for shade and rest.
- The cedar trees on the other hand, were nice smelling, strong, and a wood that was straight. No knots in it. It was a wood that was held to be very precious. They were used in the building of the temple. In I Kings 10:27 it says that Solomon made the cedar trees to be as numerous as the Sycamore-fig trees. So apparently it was a sign of wealth or prestige of some sort. (The cedar is often used to portray Christianity in that it is strong and durable etc. However, unless it's being used to explain the second covenant... I don't think that's what it was in this particular passage. Here I think it is simply being looked upon as being a valuable wood.) (
- okay now... what has this got to do with anything else?
- We talk about Christ being the cornerstone of our faith. The building that was built on Christ, wasn't good enough for the people of Israel. This could also be related back to the two covenants. The first covenant was made to lead to the next one. It was built to give the outline so that when Christ came to fulfill the covenant and put into action the second one... it would be time to replace the bricks so to speak. However, Israel wasn't waiting for that. They weren't satisfied with waiting on the promise. They wanted their better house NOW.
- Now, the sycamore tree really got me going... If we look at the fruit as Christ, then things get REALLY interesting.
- This was a tree that was used and useful... but not looked at as anything valuable necessarily.

- Isaiah 53 says this “My servant grew up in the Lord's presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins. But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth....” (vs. 2-7)
- Jesus as the Sycamore tree... unloved. Used, abused, but not counted as valuable.

- Now, I said we were going to look at Jesus as the fruit... Before the Sycamore fruit could be picked, it had to be pierced with a sharp object or fingernail 3 or 4 days before picking. Otherwise, it wouldn't be edible.
- Now, also looking at the roots of the tree... deep strong roots, and the fact that the fruit grew directly from the trunk of this tree...
- God is our foundation. His roots run deep. He is our shelter.
- Christ is God's Son. He grew directly out from the trunk of the tree. He was a direct descendant. There was no branch in between them.
- In order for Christ's sacrifice to be finalized so that it would be for the good of all men, he had to die. He was pierced in the side and laid in a tomb... for 3 DAYS. Without His death and resurrection, we would have no hope. The fruit of all His labors would have been in vain without His death.
- Israel was tossing aside this tree of provision... their protection... for one that looked nicer and was held in higher esteem.
- Do we do the same thing? Do we toss God aside for something better looking? Something more valuable? All these things are temporary! And yet... we still find ourselves looking at those temporary things and thinking of them more highly than the things of God...
- How many times do we get caught up in our search or desire for something more? Like... money, or power, or love, or well... anything? Maybe we want a better house, or a better car. Maybe we simply just want something we can't have. Or don't have the resources to have right now.

- Are we throwing away our place of refuge (eternal) in order to gain more material (temporary) things?
- Proverbs 16:18
- I Samuel 2:3; 15:22-23
vs. 11-21
- “But the Lord will bring Rezin's enemies against Israel and stir up all their foes. The Syrians from the east and the Philistines from the west will bare their fangs and devour Israel.”
- In chapter 7 we first heard about King Rezin of Syria. Not much was said. Rezin joined forces with Israel to go up against Judah and failed. They laid siege to the city, but couldn't defeat King Ahaz of Judah.
- So now, apparently, Rezin's enemies, the Syrians and the Philistines were going to attack his new allies, Israel. (and I know Rezin was supposed to be the king of Syria and then it says his enemies were the Syrians... I'm not sure why. Sometimes it says that Rezin was king of Aram... so I don't know if there were two factions of Syria at this point, or what the deal was... sorry if that's confusing.)
- So now, because Israel made a pact with Rezin, now they were going to be in the hot seat so to speak. They had joined forces to make themselves stronger... and in the process... they made some enemies...
- “But even then the Lord's anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike. For after all this punishment, the people will still not repent. They will not seek the Lord of Heaven's Armies. Therefore, in a single day the Lord will destroy both the head and the tail, the noble palm branch and the lowly reed. The leaders of Israel are the head, and the lying prophets are the tail.”
- Even though the enemy nations were getting ready to attack... and would indeed attack... it wasn't enough. God wanted them removed from the land. He wanted them gone. They were polluting the land with their idol worship and their sins.
- Ezekiel 5:5-6:14
- “For the leaders of the people have misled them. They have led them down the path of destruction. That is why the Lord takes no pleasure in the young men and shows no mercy even to the widows and orphans. For they are all wicked hypocrites, and they all speak foolishness. But even then the Lord's anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.”
- Because these people were all evil... God would punish them all. Even the widows and orphans were hypocrites. So even though their status in life normally would have caused their to be pity felt on their behalf... now, because they are all lying hypocrites, God will strike. His anger WILL be satisfied.
- Psalm 94
- Ezekiel 22:23-31
- “This wickedness is like a brush fire. It burns not only briers and thorns but also sets the forests ablaze. Its burning sends up clouds of smoke. The land will be blackened by the fury of the Lord of Heaven's Armies.”
- The wickedness had spread so far and so vast that the only way to get rid of it was to also send judgment far and vast.
- Widespread wickedness calls for widespread judgment.
- Now, this place would blaze, not with the fire of wickedness, but with the purging fire of judgment and God's holy wrath.
- Proverbs 12:1-3
- Romans 1:18-2:16
- “The land will be blackened by the fury of the Lord of Heaven's Armies. The people will be fuel for the fire, and no one will spare even his own brother. They will attack their neighbor on the right but will still be hungry. They will devour their neighbor on the left but will not be satisfied. In the end they will even eat their own children.”
- Hosea 10:13-15
- Jeremiah 4; 5; 6
- When Israel and Judah fell... both times, both separately, they fell after a very long siege. 2 or 3 years apiece. I can imagine how high tensions ran at those times. Even before that... When God is absent... morals are absent. When morals are absent... there is no reason to want to do the right thing. Therefore, if you see something you want, take it. If you see something that makes you angry, act the way you feel... There's no guidelines if God is not present in a life. That life can choose to do whatever they want... and without God guiding their hearts... there's no reason to do good.
- Can you imagine the chaos? I can. Because it would be the way it is today. Random robberies over petty things. Murders over little meaningless arguments. Selfish acts built on selfish feelings and extreme emotions.
- Even to take things from your children or yourself... Some translations read that they would eat their own children, some read that they would eat their own arm. The idea is that they are willing to devour anything in their path if they think it will profit themselves. Even their own body.
- How about drugs? Alcohol abuse? The damage that is done to your own body just for a few moments of pleasure? A few moments that make you forget about life? Or a way to rebel against what others tell you is bad? That's a sin against your own body. It's a destroying of yourself... for what? *sigh* Not much of anything...
- (Also... perhaps because of the siege, quite literally people could have eaten their children... there are some references to such things... although I'm not sure if the time line lines up. There's references to women eating their children in a time of great drought. So I may be getting them a little confused and muddled together, but the Lamentations verse below also talks about women eating their children during a siege.)
- Lamentations 4
- One of the commentaries I was reading on these verses made the comment that “sin carries this (God's wrath) within itself as its own self-punishment.” (
- “Manasseh will feed on Ephraim, Ephraim will feed on Manasseh, and both will devour Judah. But even then the Lord's anger will not be satisfied. His first is still poised to strike.”
- Manasseh and Ephraim were the sons of Joseph... two tribes from one... As close as brothers. The brother tribes would fight against and devour each other... only joining together for one common enemy... another brother...
- And even still... God's hand will still be poised to strike.
- As I sit and write this... my heart is heavy. Right now, someone very near and dear to me is throwing their life away... *sigh* Our prayer has become that God would do whatever it takes to bring her back.
- The harsh truth of her situation, and the situation with Israel and Judah... is that God WILL do whatever it takes to bring His people back into holy communion with Him. And if that means showing a little tough love... then that's what He'll do. Sometimes love... is shown simply through discipline.
- The judgment that came upon Judah and Israel came because God had tried everything else to win their hearts... and nothing worked. So the last available option... was punishment. And hopefully through their punishment and discipline for their sin... the people will again turn to the God who gave His all for them.

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