Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What the Lord says I shall speak...

I Kings 22: 13-14 | NASB

“Then the messenger who went to summon Micaiah spoke to him saying, “Behold now, the words of the prophets are uniformly favorable to the king. Please let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I shall speak.”

After Ahab, the king of Israel, had gathered and consulted with about four hundred prophets that were found in Israel and was given an answer that was favorable by all of them Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah asks “Is there not yet a prophet of the LORD here that we may inquire of him?”  Four hundred men and not one of them was a prophet of the LORD.  Micaiah is spoken of as the “yet one man by whom the LORD may be inquired of.”  Just one.  Why wasn’t he called to begin with?  Because he speaks what the Lord says to him.  Ahab did not like hearing what the Lord had to say.  In the previous chapter we read:

 “Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him. He acted very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the Lord cast out before the sons of Israel.”

This is why Ahab did not call this one man left, this only prophet of the Lord.  He already knew that the Lord had nothing good to say to him.  He already knew that the Lord had cast judgment on him for his evil ways. 

But to appease Jehoshaphat he calls Micaiah.  Can you image coming before the kings of Israel and Judah to speak what they do not want to hear after four hundred men have already prophesied favorably to them?  How alone he must feel?  Micaiah must have known not only that his answer would be unfavorably met, but also that king Ahab already hated him.  Yet, even when the messengers ask him to speak favorably, he makes this oath that as the Lord lives, what He says is what he will speak.  In spite of the position that he found himself in, the possible fear that he may have felt, the pressure to give a favorable word, this last prophet of the Lord spoke the word of the Lord.  Micaiah swore to do the one thing he had been called to do.  As a prophet of the Lord he was called to speak the words of the Lord and this he would do.  It did not matter to whom he was speaking; he must speak the word of the Lord.

I am reminded of a story I have heard several times.  A man was preaching the gospel in England contrary to the edict of the king and he was called before the king to give an account.  As he walked into the throne room he said to himself “be careful what you say the king is here!”  He thought not even a moment more and said to himself “be careful what you do not say the KING OF KINGS is here!” 

Far too often we forget that we are in the presence of the KING OF KINGS and that we need to echo the words of Micaiah “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I shall speak!” 

God has said much to us; He has spoken to us through His word and in these last days through His Son.

Hebrews 1:1-2a | NASB
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son”

Let us speak all that the Lord has said to us boldly before all men.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

There is No Other

Isaiah 46:5-11 | NASB

“To whom would you liken Me
 And make Me equal and compare Me, 
That we would be alike?  Those who lavish gold from the purse
 And weigh silver on the scale
 Hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; 
They bow down, indeed they worship it.  They lift it upon the shoulder and carry it; 
 They set it in its place and it stands there. 
It does not move from its place. 
Though one may cry to it, it cannot answer; 
It cannot deliver him from his distress. Remember this, and be assured;
 Recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past,
 For I am God, and there is no other;
 I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning,
 And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
 And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; Calling a bird of prey from the east, 
The man of My purpose from a far country. 
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. 
 I have planned it, surely I will do it.”

“For I am God, and there is no other;” indeed there is no other.  This and similar phrases are found frequently in this and the surrounding chapters.  The nation of Israel was divided and both Israel (the northern ten tribes) and Judah (the southern two tribes) had forsaken the Lord for idols, for the gods of the nations whom they had disinherited, for the gods of the nations that surrounded them.  These idols were carved images, made by men.   I’m reminded of what David says of them in Psalms. 

Psalm 135:15-18 | NASB

“The idols of the nations are but silver and gold, 
The work of man’s hands.  They have mouths, but they do not speak; 
They have eyes, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear, 
Nor is there any breath at all in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, 
Yes, everyone who trusts in them.”

God reminds Judah of Who it is they serve.  REMEMBER!  Remember Who I am, what I have done, how I have delivered you, how all that my prophets have declared has come to pass, how I have been faithful!  Remember the impotence of the idols you served, their inability to do anything for themselves let alone save you from your distress, remember and be assured! 

We, like Judah, need to remind ourselves Who it is that we serve.  What has our God done, how He has declared what the end will be from before the beginning, how He establishes His purposes, accomplishes His good pleasure, how He will always do exactly as He has planned.  There is no one like our God, there is no other beside Him, He swears by Himself, for there is no other greater by which He can swear.

Isaiah 45:23 | NASB

“I have sworn by Myself, 
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
 And will not turn back, 
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.”

Hebrews 6:13 | NASB

“For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,”

How can we, when we know our God, when we remember Who He is ever have any cause to fear or doubt?  Our God, Who fashioned us in the womb, Who channels kings hearts wherever He wishes, Who does whatever His soul desires, Who appoints each circumstance of our life and performs it accordingly.   Does this not put you in utter awe of the God you serve?  Does this not fill you with all confidence that He is sovereignly orchestrating our lives, and not just the courses of nations and kings, but our personal lives?  This magnificent and awesome God has His hand in our individual lives.  Does this not fill you with wonder and awe, with grateful and worshipping hearts?  

Proverbs 21:1 |NASB

“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; 
He turns it wherever He wishes.”

Job 23:13-14 | NASB

“But He is unique and who can turn Him? 
And what His soul desires, that He does.”
“For He performs what is appointed for me,
 And many such decrees are with Him.”

Indeed to whom shall we liken our God, He is God, and there is no other, He is God, and there is no one like Him!

Isaiah 44:6-8 | NASB

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
‘I am the first and I am the last, 
And there is no God besides Me.

‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; 
Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, 
From the time that I established the ancient nation. 
And let them declare to them the things that are coming 
And the events that are going to take place.

‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid; 
Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? 
And you are My witnesses. 
Is there any God besides Me, 
Or is there any other Rock? 
I know of none.’”

Monday, March 2, 2015

two men...

Jeremiah 17:5-8 | NKJV
Thus says the Lord:  “Cursed is the man who trusts in man
 And makes flesh his strength, 
 Whose heart departs from the Lord.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, 
And shall not see when good comes, 
 But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, 
 In a salt land which is not inhabited.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, 
 And whose hope is the Lord.

For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, 
 Which spreads out its roots by the river, 
 And will not fear when heat comes; 
 But its leaf will be green, 
And will not be anxious in the year of drought, 
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

I came to this passage today roundaboutly; I was reviewing the passage in I Samuel 16, where the Lord reminds Samuel that He does not look at outward appearances, that He “beholdeth the heart (GNV)” The word translated beholdeth means to not only see, but to also perceive, to understand.  And as I was pondering what it meant for the Lord to behold our hearts, to see and understand them, I went looking for the verse that said, “who can know it?” referring to our hearts.   And as I found the verse I was looking for, I was drawn into the passage just above it and so here I am.

I was drawn to the contrasts that God makes here; God often delights in painting contrasting pictures for us.  I find that the contrast can be helpful in our understanding. 

The first man that we look at here is the one who trusts in the power of man, who does not trust in the Lord, but whose heart departs, not departed, past tense, as if it happened at one time in the past, but it is in a simple present tense which is used in English grammar to represent a habitual action.  This man’s heart habitually departs from the Lord.  And it is this continuous action of departure and continuous act of trust in his own strength that is his downfall.  The picture painted by God through the weeping prophet is that of a shrub, in a dessert, a man who lives in parched places, and in an uninhabitable salt land.   High salinity in soil has detrimental effects on plant life, when there is too much salt nothing can grow or live, there is no life, not even the possibility of life.  This is indeed a sad state.

But God is a God who loves to magnify and accentuate through contrast.  The second man that we look at is the man who trusts in the Lord (again the present tense, showing a habitual trust).  His hope is in the Lord!  This man is depicted as a tree, planted by waters, a continual source of life for the tree, its roots are by the river and because of this there is no fear for whatever comes its way.  It is not only able to live, but it thrives, its leaves are green and it does not cease to yield fruit!   

What a contrast there is between the man who trusts in himself and the man who trusts in the Lord!!  On one hand you have a shriveled shrub in the dessert, who is parched for water, does not see when good will come, and lives in a dead land without hope for life or growth.  Then you have the man whose habitual trust is in the Lord, who places his hope in Him, this man is sturdy, solid, continually being fed, without fear in times of drought and danger, he thrives, he is fruitful. 

Take hold of the promises of God, the man who trusts in the Lord is indeed blessed, has no reason for fear or anxiety, despite trials and persecution that will no doubt come.   God promises to be a continual source of life so that when trials come there is never danger for harm to this man.  And not only this, but he will not cease from yielding fruit even during heat and drought.  The man who trusts in the Lord will always yield fruit.  Does this not give you confidence?  The God who does not change, the God who keeps His promises and covenants to all generations says this of the man who places his hope and trust in Him!  There is truly no safer place to be.