Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Today's Devotional from Pastor Clay:  Isaiah Chapter 24 - You can run, but you cannot hide

Tuesday February 24, 2015
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Isaiah Chapter 24 - You can run, but you cannot hide

The innocuous-looking vans he helped to develop began arriving at the Third Reich's mental hospitals in 1940. Doctors in white coats herded patients, officially dubbed " useless eaters", into the hermetically sealed compartments in the back. The revs of engine could not conceal the screams. Within 20 minutes all those locked inside were poisoned to death by exhaust fumes.

Walther Rauff, the notorious SS colonel who was instrumental in creating the Nazis' infamous "mobile gas chamber" was held personally responsible for murdering at least 100,000 people during the Second World War. His victims included Communists, Jews, Roma and the physically and mentally ill.

Yet Rauff escaped to South America after the war. From there he travelled with impunity to Germany as a company representative until the late 1950s. Germany only issued a warrant for his arrest in 1961 and he was never brought to trial. Rauff died in Chile in 1984, and hundreds of old Nazis flocked to his funeral in the capital, Santiago.

How could this be? How could a man so evil seemingly get away with his crimes? Because live in a world where money can buy anonymity. The right connections can allow the guilty to go free.

But there will come a day when the evil will be held accountable for their crimes. Isaiah chapter 24 describes this day.

Behold, the LORD makes the earth empty and makes it waste, distorts its surface and scatters abroad its inhabitants.  (Isaiah 24:1)

Isaiah chapter 24 opens a new section in this great book. Chapters 13-23 issued a set of prophetic judgments against Judah and the nations around her. Chapters 24 - 27 deal with God's final judgment on the earth, otherwise known as "The Tribulation."

The Tribulation
The Tribulation is a future time period when the Lord will accomplish at least two aspects of His plan: 1) He will complete His discipline of the nation Israel (Daniel 9:24), and 2), and He will judge the unbelieving, godless inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 6 - 18). The length of the Tribulation is seven years. This is determined by an understanding of the seventy weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27).

In Matthew 24:21, Jesus says, "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall."

Revelation chapters 6-16 describe three sets of judgments that will bring death and devastation upon the earth that will surpass anything man has ever experienced.

The point of Isaiah's prophecy is that for those that dwell on the earth, there will be no escaping God's judgment.

And it shall be: As with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the creditor, so with the debtor. The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered, for the LORD has spoken this word. (Isaiah 24:1-3)

In other words, a high position in life will not allow anyone to escape God's judgment. There will be no special privileges given to the rich and famous.

The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away; the haughty people of the earth languish. The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left. (Isaiah 24:4-6)

Revelation 8:7-12 describe the devastating impact that the first four Trumpet Judgments have on the earth: 1/3 of the vegetation is burned up; 1/3 of the sea is destroyed; 1/3 of the freshwater is contaminated; and 1/3 of the light from the sun and moon are darkened. The sixth Trumpet Judgment kills 1/3 of the earth's population (Rev 9:13-15). This is truly a dark time on the earth. 

Why does this happen? Because the curse of sin has engulfed the entire earth and it's inhabitants. 

The new wine fails, the vine languishes, all the merry-hearted sigh. The mirth of the tambourine ceases, the noise of the jubilant ends, the joy of the harp ceases.
(Isaiah 24:7)

There will be no more parties, no more red carpet, no more celebrations. Next we're presented with a strange twist:

They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing; for the majesty of the LORD they shall cry aloud from the sea. Therefore glorify the LORD in the dawning light, the name of the LORD God of Israel in the coastlands of the sea. From the ends of the earth we have heard songs: "Glory to the righteous!" (Isaiah 24:14-15)

Does it seem odd that there will be praise during this time? Think of it this way: 

The angelic realm will praise Him - Consider that the angelic realm have witnessed all that God has done; Creating the heavens and the earth, creating mankind; offering His only Son as a sacrifice for the sins of man; bearing with the sin and rebellion of man; offering love and grace to all… The angels understand fully the power, the majesty, the love, and the mercy of God. For this they praise Him!

Saints in heaven will praise Him - Think of all the saints who have died and are with the Lord in heaven, watching all of this unfold. They've experienced Heaven, and they know what awaits those who are still coming to Christ on the earth, even in the midst of great tribulation. They see how God is bringing judgment to the wicked, and is sparing the redeemed in Christ. For this they praise Him!

Saints on earth praise Him - There will be many who will come to Christ during the tribulation. While we might wonder how they would praise God in the midst of all of the destruction, I believe they will! The Tribulation saints will be like a persecuted population of people that recognize that a great army is coming to their rescue. They're witnessing God's judgment being poured out upon the wicked, and they recognize that God is just in His judgment! Their immediate circumstances may be difficult, but they know that salvation is coming! For this they praise Him!

Fear and the pit and the snare are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth. And it shall be that he who flees from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit, and he who comes up from the midst of the pit shall be caught in the snare; for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth are shaken. (Isaiah 24:17-18)

This is perhaps the saddest part of this prophecy of judgment, for it describes a situation where there will be no place to run and hide.Revelation 20:11 describes this reality:

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. (Rev 20:11)

Throughout history there have been people who have successfully hidden from the law, but there will be no place to hide from God. 

The earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut; its transgression shall be heavy upon it, and it will fall, and not rise again. (Isaiah 24:19-20)

Revelation 16:18 describes a mighty earthquake, larger than anything man has ever experienced. Apparently this earthquake, in addition to meteor's striking the earth (Revelation 8:8-11), will cause the very axis of the earth to be shaken.

It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and will be shut up in the prison; after many days they will be punished. Then the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed; for the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously. (Isaiah 24:21-23)

Isaiah is referring to a reckoning described in Revelation chapter 20, where Satan and his rebellious angel followers are sentenced to 1000 years into a bottomless pit before receiving their final sentence of eternity in the lake of fire (Rev 20:10).

If you've stuck with me so far, you're probably thinking "I don't want to be anywhere near earth when this day comes." I feel the same way! The reality is that we cannot hide from God, but we can join Him!

That is the whole point of the gospel, it's why Jesus came to this earth; To atone for our sins, and save us from the coming judgment of God upon the wicked. Jesus told us:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

Jesus came so that we could escape the coming judgment, and have eternal life. The way to have eternal life is not by joining a church, or promising to be better people, but by entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It's a conscious decision, an intentional belief. How to have this? Simple...

Realize that you are a sinner.
No matter how good a life we try to live, we still fall miserably short of being a good person. That is because we are all sinners. The Bible says, "No one is good—not even one." We cannot become who we are supposed to be without Jesus Christ.

Recognize that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you.
The Bible tells us that "God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." This is the Good News, that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die in our place when we least deserved it.

Repent of your sin.
The Bible tells us, "Repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away." The word repent means to change our direction in life. Instead of running from God, we can run toward Him.

Receive Jesus Christ into your life.
Becoming a Christian is not merely believing some creed or going to church. It is having Christ Himself take residence in your life and heart. Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in . . ." If you would like to have a relationship with Christ, simply pray this prayer and mean it in your heart.

"Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank You for saving me. Amen."


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