956.) Isaiah 17

December 31, 2012
Syria Violence Rages as Fierce Fighting Engulfs Damascus -- July 16, 2012.

Syria Violence Rages as Fierce Fighting Engulfs Damascus — July 16, 2012.

Isaiah 17   (ESV)

An Oracle Concerning Damascus

An oracle concerning Damascus.

Damascus was one of the great cities of the ancient world, and the capital of the ancient nation of Syria.  For centuries it has been  a commercial and political hub in the Fertile Crescent.  Damascus was destroyed by  the Assyrian invaders in 732 BCE, and Samaria (Ephraim) fell ten years later.

Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city
and will become a heap of ruins.
The cities of Aroer are deserted;
they will be for flocks,
which will lie down, and none will make them afraid.
The fortress will disappear from Ephraim,
and the kingdom from Damascus;
and the remnant of Syria will be
like the glory of the children of Israel,
declares the Lord of hosts.

And in that day the glory of Jacob will be brought low,
and the fat of his flesh will grow lean.
And it shall be as when the reaper gathers standing grain
and his arm harvests the ears,
and as when one gleans the ears of grain
in the Valley of Rephaim.
Gleanings will be left in it,
as when an olive tree is beaten—
two or three berries
in the top of the highest bough,
four or five
on the branches of a fruit tree,
declares the Lord God of Israel.

In that day man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will look on the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands, and he will not look on what his own fingers have made, either the Asherim or the altars of incense.

The faithful remnant look humbly to their Creator.

In that day their strong cities will be like the deserted places of the wooded heights and the hilltops, which they deserted because of the children of Israel, and there will be desolation.

10 For you have forgotten the God of your salvation
and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge;

Here the prophet names the true source of their trouble:  they have forsaken the covenant of their God.  Such a choice has consequences.

therefore, though you plant pleasant plants
and sow the vine-branch of a stranger,
11 though you make them grow on the day that you plant them,
and make them blossom in the morning that you sow,
yet the harvest will flee away
in a day of grief and incurable pain.

One aspect of the Lord’s judgment against Israel will be to bring their hard work to nothing. They will work hard to plant and grow crops (both literally and figuratively), but the harvest will be a heap of ruins.

This can be one of the most devastating aspects of the Lord’s judgment. Haggai 1:6 speaks of this work of the Lord: You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes. How much better it is to be listening to Jesus, and to have our service directed and blessed by Him (Luke 5:1-10).

–David Guzik

12 Ah, the thunder of many peoples;
they thunder like the thundering of the sea!
Ah, the roar of nations;
they roar like the roaring of mighty waters!
13 The nations roar like the roaring of many waters,
but he will rebuke them, and they will flee far away,
chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind
and whirling dust before the storm.
14 At evening time, behold, terror!
Before morning, they are no more!
This is the portion of those who loot us,
and the lot of those who plunder us.

These last two verses show a comforting principle:  that God will allow trouble only as long as he wishes, then he will rebuke it.  “Weeping will endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” We are not at the mercy of our circumstances or of our enemies.   We are at the mercy of God.

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Music:

I admit that too often I forget God’s mercy towards me, and so my thoughts, words, and deeds do not reflect his love and grace to the world.  I confess it as sin, and I ask you, Lord, to forgive me in Jesus’ name.  Let me remember the God of my salvation and the rock of my refuge, who has promised never to leave me or forsake me!  Your grace, Lord, is sufficient!

Click  HERE  to listen to “Your Grace Is Enough”  by Christ Tomlin.

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
embattled Damascus.   http://images2.naharnet.com/images/45433/w460.jpg?1342443521

955.) Isaiah 15 and 16

December 28, 2012

I15 map

Isaiah 15   (ESV)

An Oracle Concerning Moab

An oracle concerning Moab.

The founder of the people of Moab was the son born of the incestuous relationship between Lot and one of his daughters, when his daughters made Lot drunk, after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:30-38). The Moabites settled in the plains to the south-east of Israel, in what is modern-day Jordan.

At times, the Moabites were great enemies of Israel. It was the Balak, king of Moab, who hired Balaam the prophet, hoping that he could curse Israel (Numbers 22-25). It was Eglon, king of Moab, who oppressed Israel in the days of the Judges (Judges 3:12-30). During the time of Saul and David, Israel established a firm control over Moab, but later kings of Israel were not always able to keep them under Israeli dominance.

At the same time, there was a Moabite connection with Israel. First, they were related to Israel because Lot was Abraham’s nephew. Because of this, God told Israel in Deuteronomy 2:9 that they were not to destroy Moab and take their land. As well, David, Israel’s greatest king, was one-quarter Moabite. His paternal grandmother Ruth was from Moab, and David entrusted his father and mother to the protection of the king of Moab when he was a fugitive from Saul (1 Samuel 22:3-4). For these reasons, there is a great deal of sadness and empathy on Isaiah’s part as he describes the coming judgment on Moab.

–David Guzik

Because Ar of Moab is laid waste in a night,
Moab is undone;
because Kir of Moab is laid waste in a night,
Moab is undone.

Ar and Kir were two strongly fortified cities in Moab.

He has gone up to the temple, and to Dibon,
to the high places to weep;
over Nebo and over Medeba
Moab wails.
On every head is baldness;
every beard is shorn;
in the streets they wear sackcloth;
on the housetops and in the squares
everyone wails and melts in tears.

The customs of mourning included cutting the hair, shaving, wearing sackcloth, and weeping and wailing.

Heshbon and Elealeh cry out;
their voice is heard as far as Jahaz;
therefore the armed men of Moab cry aloud;
his soul trembles.
My heart cries out for Moab;
her fugitives flee to Zoar,
to Eglath-shelishiyah.
For at the ascent of Luhith
they go up weeping;
on the road to Horonaim
they raise a cry of destruction;
the waters of Nimrim
are a desolation;
the grass is withered, the vegetation fails,
the greenery is no more.

The beautiful plains of Moab were wonderful grazing land. But now, under the hand of God’s judgment, the grass and vegetation are gone.

Therefore the abundance they have gained
and what they have laid up
they carry away
over the Brook of the Willows.
For a cry has gone
around the land of Moab;
her wailing reaches to Eglaim;
her wailing reaches to Beer-elim.
For the waters of Dibon are full of blood;
for I will bring upon Dibon even more,
a lion for those of Moab who escape,
for the remnant of the land.

Even those who escape will be tracked down as by a lion.

ruins of Moab

ruins of Moab

Isaiah 16   (ESV)

Send the lamb to the ruler of the land,
from Sela, by way of the desert,
to the mount of the daughter of Zion.

Sela is Petra, Edom’s capital, not far from Moab.

Like fleeing birds,
like a scattered nest,
so are the daughters of Moab
at the fords of the Arnon.

“Give counsel;
grant justice;
make your shade like night
at the height of noon;
shelter the outcasts;
do not reveal the fugitive;
let the outcasts of Moab
sojourn among you;
be a shelter to them
from the destroyer.
When the oppressor is no more,
and destruction has ceased,
and he who tramples underfoot has vanished from the land,
then a throne will be established in steadfast love,
and on it will sit in faithfulness
in the tent of David
one who judges and seeks justice
and is swift to do righteousness.”

I16 Annunciation

Luke 1:30-33   (NLT)

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

We have heard of the pride of Moab—
how proud he is!—
of his arrogance, his pride, and his insolence;
in his idle boasting he is not right.
Therefore let Moab wail for Moab,
let everyone wail.
Mourn, utterly stricken,
for the raisin cakes of Kir-hareseth.

Once they were proud — now they are utterly devastated.

For the fields of Heshbon languish,
and the vine of Sibmah;
the lords of the nations
have struck down its branches,
which reached to Jazer
and strayed to the desert;
its shoots spread abroad
and passed over the sea.
Therefore I weep with the weeping of Jazer
for the vine of Sibmah;
I drench you with my tears,
O Heshbon and Elealeh;
for over your summer fruit and your harvest
the shout has ceased.
10 And joy and gladness are taken away from the fruitful field,
and in the vineyards no songs are sung,
no cheers are raised;
no treader treads out wine in the presses;
I have put an end to the shouting.
11 Therefore my inner parts moan like a lyre for Moab,
and my inmost self for Kir-hareseth.

12 And when Moab presents himself, when he wearies himself on the high place, when he comes to his sanctuary to pray, he will not prevail.

It seems to be too late even for prayers.  God says the time of judgment is sure to come.

13 This is the word that the Lord spoke concerning Moab in the past. 14 But now the Lord has spoken, saying, “In three years, like the years of a hired worker, the glory of Moab will be brought into contempt, in spite of all his great multitude, and those who remain will be very few and feeble.”

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Music:

From chapter 16 verse 5 —

a throne will be established in steadfast love,
and on it will sit in faithfulness
in the tent of David
one who judges and seeks justice
and is swift to do righteousness.”

Click  HERE  to hear “To Him Who Sits on the Throne.”  Our God is the King of the Universe, even when he is a baby in the manger.  That should give us all encouragement as we walk into a new year!

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
map.   http://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/images/gospel-library/manual/34189/143-1.gif
ruins of Moab.   http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_QbrZupV_Q-k/S_3JPD-83sI/AAAAAAAADng/OjsKGUhaqGM/s400/ruins+of+Moab.jpg
Angel comes to Mary.    http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/bible-images/hires/Luke-Chapter-1-The-Annunciation-to-Mary.jpg

954.) Isaiah 14

December 27, 2012

I14 24

Isaiah 14   (ESV)

The Restoration of Jacob

Isaiah 13 ended with the desolation and gloom that would come upon Babylon. Since Babylon was Judah’s great enemy, any judgment on Babylon was an expression of mercy on Israel. So, Isaiah follows the pronouncement of judgment on Babylon with the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel.

–David Guzik

This is not simply a promise of temporal deliverance.  This is an assurance that the preservation of the chosen people is the means for the fulfillment of God’s purposes of mercy to all mankind.  Israel is given a song of triumph over their oppressor.  Even the trees of the forest sing!

–N. E. Constance

For the Lord will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will set them in their own land, and sojourners will join them and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob. And the peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them in the Lord’s land as male and female slaves. They will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them.

Israel’s Remnant Taunts Babylon

When the Lord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:

“How the oppressor has ceased,
the insolent fury ceased!
The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked,
the scepter of rulers,
that struck the peoples in wrath
with unceasing blows,
that ruled the nations in anger
with unrelenting persecution.
The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
they break forth into singing.
8 The cypresses rejoice at you,
the cedars of Lebanon, saying,
‘Since you were laid low,
no woodcutter comes up against us.’

I14 trees sing
Sheol beneath is stirred up
to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
all who were kings of the nations.

Sheol is the place of departed spirits.  It can means the “grave” or “the place of torment.”  The prophet pictures the unseen world as disturbed at the arrival of the fallen tyrant, the king of Babylon.  He is met by other kings already there, amazed that one so great and powerful would arrive at the same destination and in death be deprived of a decent burial.  Before they had flattered him as a mighty lord; now they mock him.

–N. E. Constance

10 All of them will answer
and say to you:
‘You too have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!’
11 Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
the sound of your harps;
maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
and worms are your covers.

12 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!

I14 me

The pride, the grasping selfish ambition, the self-will of the king of Babylon is powerfully expressed in five “I will” statements. This is the essence of the self-focused and self-obsessed life:

13 You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
15 But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
16 Those who see you will stare at you
and ponder over you:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms,
17 who made the world like a desert
and overthrew its cities,
who did not let his prisoners go home?’

I14 Ozymandias
Ozymandias

by Percy Bisshe Shelley (1792-1822)

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

18 All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own tomb;
19 but you are cast out, away from your grave,
like a loathed branch,
clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
who go down to the stones of the pit,
like a dead body trampled underfoot.
20 You will not be joined with them in burial,
because you have destroyed your land,
you have slain your people.

“May the offspring of evildoers
nevermore be named!
21 Prepare slaughter for his sons
because of the guilt of their fathers,
lest they rise and possess the earth,
and fill the face of the world with cities.”

22 “I will rise up against them,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity,” declares the Lord. 23 “And I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the Lord of hosts.

An Oracle Concerning Assyria

I14 purposed

24 The Lord of hosts has sworn:
“As I have planned,
so shall it be,
and as I have purposed,
so shall it stand,
25 that I will break the Assyrian in my land,
and on my mountains trample him underfoot;
and his yoke shall depart from them,
and his burden from their shoulder.”

26 This is the purpose that is purposed
concerning the whole earth,
and this is the hand that is stretched out
over all the nations.
27 For the Lord of hosts has purposed,
and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
and who will turn it back?

I14 control

My mother used to say, “There is nothing that comes to pass but that which He has purposed, and everything He has purposed comes to pass.”

An Oracle Concerning Philistia

28 In the year that King Ahaz died came this oracle:

29 Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of you,
that the rod that struck you is broken,
for from the serpent’s root will come forth an adder,
and its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent.
30 And the firstborn of the poor will graze,
and the needy lie down in safety;
but I will kill your root with famine,
and your remnant it will slay.
31 Wail, O gate; cry out, O city;
melt in fear, O Philistia, all of you!
For smoke comes out of the north,
and there is no straggler in his ranks.

32 What will one answer the messengers of the nation?
“The Lord has founded Zion,
and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.”

I14 David

Today is my ninth wedding anniversary.  I thank God for my wonderful husband, David, and his kind heart — and even more for the open arms of the Lord, in whom we all may find refuge and forgiveness and joy and peace and love everlasting.

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Music:

An oldie but goodie — Maranatha Singers and “He Is Exalted/Great Is the Lord.”  Click  HERE  to hear it and praise the Lord!

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English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
YHWH Almighty.    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7238/6965317080_c8707a234d_z.jpg
Psalm 96:11-13.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-53Zfx83tsu0/TfytXiiE6TI/AAAAAAAAAwY/KrGaWVa8f3M/s1600/nature5.bmp
It’s all about me.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_f5966Tx6ki0/TRt_7nolfZI/AAAAAAAAABE/ZqhodhdPjJw/s1600/il_fullxfull.74850331.jpg
Ozymandias.   http://junecaldwell.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/ozymandias13.jpg
Isaiah 14:24.    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_J5N-WFYHVsQ/SufLMyZvDaI/AAAAAAAAAXw/LAF7dGMB8k4/s400/isaiah+14.24.jpg
God is in control.    http://thomasdirk.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/god-is-in-control.jpg
Keep calm.   http://sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/i/keep-calm-and-love-david-229.png

953.) Isaiah 13

December 26, 2012
Isaiah's Vision of the Destruction of Babylon,  by G. Dore.

Isaiah’s Vision of the Destruction of Babylon, by G. Dore.

Isaiah 13   (ESV)

This is the beginning of a new section of the book.  Isaiah chapters 13 – 23 contain prophecies against the nations.  It is fitting for cleansing to begin at the house of God, so the Lord has first spoken to Israel and Judah, condemning their sins and outlining his judgment against them. But now the Lord speaks against the nations, beginning with Babylon.

The Judgment of Babylon

The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.

Why is God speaking to Babylon? This prophecy was probably never published in Babylon, so it wasn’t really given as a warning to them. Instead, the reason was for the help of the people of God. First, by showing them that God was indeed just, and would judge the wicked nations around them. Israel and Judah were feeling the sting of God’s discipline, and in those times we wonder if God is unfairly singling us out. This is assurance to them that He isn’t. Second, Babylon (and other nations in this section) were nations that had come against Israel and Judah, and God showed His love to His people by announcing His vengeance against their enemies.

–David Guzik

On a bare hill raise a signal;
cry aloud to them;
wave the hand for them to enter
the gates of the nobles.
I myself have commanded my consecrated ones,
and have summoned my mighty men to execute my anger,
my proudly exulting ones.

The sound of a tumult is on the mountains
as of a great multitude!
The sound of an uproar of kingdoms,
of nations gathering together!
The Lord of hosts is mustering
a host for battle.
They come from a distant land,
from the end of the heavens,
the Lord and the weapons of his indignation,
to destroy the whole land.

Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;
as destruction from the Almighty it will come!
Therefore all hands will be feeble,
and every human heart will melt.
They will be dismayed:
pangs and agony will seize them;
they will be in anguish like a woman in labor.
They will look aghast at one another;
their faces will be aflame.

In 539 BC, the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, with an unprecedented military engagement known as the Battle of Opis.  The famed walls of Babylon were indeed impenetrable, with the only way into the city through one of its many gates or through the Euphrates, which ebbed beneath its thick walls. Metal gates at the river’s in-flow and out-flow prevented underwater intruders, if one could hold one’s breath to reach them. Cyrus (or his generals) devised a plan to use the Euphrates as the mode of entry to the city, ordering large camps of troops at each point and instructing them to wait for the signal. On an evening of a national feast among Babylonians (generally thought to refer to the feast of Belshazzar mentioned in Daniel V), Cyrus’ troops diverted the Euphrates river upstream, causing the Euphrates to drop to about ‘mid thigh level on a man’ or to dry up altogether. The soldiers marched under the walls through the lowered water. The Persian Army conquered the outlying areas of the city’s interior while a majority of Babylonians at the city center were oblivious to the breach. The account was elaborated upon by Herodotus, and is also mentioned by passages in the Hebrew Bible.

–Wikipedia

Behold, the day of the Lord comes,
cruel, with wrath and fierce anger,
to make the land a desolation
and to destroy its sinners from it.
10 For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
will not give their light;
the sun will be dark at its rising,
and the moon will not shed its light.

I13 end

Jesus quoted from verse 10 as he spoke to his disciples about the future:

Mark 13:24-25   (NIV)

“But in those days, following that distress,

“‘the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’”

11 I will punish the world for its evil,
and the wicked for their iniquity;
I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant,
and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people more rare than fine gold,
and mankind than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,
and the earth will be shaken out of its place,
at the wrath of the Lord of hosts
in the day of his fierce anger.
14 And like a hunted gazelle,
or like sheep with none to gather them,
each will turn to his own people,
and each will flee to his own land.
15 Whoever is found will be thrust through,
and whoever is caught will fall by the sword.
16 Their infants will be dashed in pieces
before their eyes;
their houses will be plundered
and their wives ravished.

17 Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them,
who have no regard for silver
and do not delight in gold.
18 Their bows will slaughter the young men;
they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb;
their eyes will not pity children.
19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,
the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans,

I13 gardens

The Hanging Gardens  — one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, in the city of Babylon.  “In addition to its size,” wrote Herodotus, a Greek historian in 450 BC, “Babylon surpasses in splendor any city in the known world.”

Legends says that the Gardens were built by King Nebuchadnezzar so that the queen, his wife, would have a lovely, private, terraced garden to enjoy and to remind her of the landscape of her childhood home. 

will be like Sodom and Gomorrah
when God overthrew them.
20 It will never be inhabited
or lived in for all generations;
no Arab will pitch his tent there;
no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there.
21 But wild animals will lie down there,
and their houses will be full of howling creatures;
there ostriches will dwell,
and there wild goats will dance.
22 Hyenas will cry in its towers,
and jackals in the pleasant palaces;
its time is close at hand
and its days will not be prolonged.

I13 Ishtar Gate

Babylon was a great city that was never rebuilt.

In the Pergamon Museum in Berlin there is a reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate, the eighth gate into the inner city of Babylon.  It is built from materials excavated from a dig in the ancient city in the early part of the twentieth century.  It is stunning — 47 feet high and 100 feet wide.  I saw it when I was 17; I was a foreign exchange student in Germany for the summer and I took a day tour into East Berlin to see the museum.

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Music:

The judgment is severe, the devastation is far-reaching — but we who know the truth of God — that He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son — need not fear.  We can rest in “The Mercy of God.”  Click  HERE  and listen to Geoff Bullock sing one of my favorite praise songs!

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Dore.    http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/bible-images/hires/Isaiah-Chapter-13-Isaiahs-Vision-of-the-Destruction-of-Babylon.jpg
falling stars.    http://heavenawaits.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/early-earth-ocean-moon-asteroids-art-desk-1024.jpg
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, by Lars Rune.    http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2009/356/0/3/The_Hanging_Gardens_of_Babylon_by_LarsRune.jpg
Ishtar Gate.   http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m9ftw943BP1retgeoo1_1280.jpg

952.) Christmas Day

December 25, 2012
"Nativity" by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622.

“Nativity” by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622.

Christmas Day 2012

To all of my readers –

I wish you a most blessed Christmas Day, with the prayer that our DWELLING together in the truth of the Word of God is transforming us all, day by day, more and more, into the likeness of this Child, the Christ.

With love in Jesus’ Name,

Rebecca Mitchell

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Luke 2:1-7  (Contemporary English Version)

The Birth of Jesus

About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books.[a] These first records were made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.[b]

Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David’s hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David’s family.

Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, and while they were there, she gave birth to her first-born[c] son. She dressed him in baby clothes[d] and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Footnotes:

  1. Luke 2:1 names. . . listed in record books: This was done so that everyone could be made to pay taxes to the Emperor.
  2. Luke 2:2 Quirinius was governor of Syria: It is known that Quirinius made a record of the people in A.D. 6 or 7. But the exact date of the record taking that Luke mentions is not known.
  3. Luke 2:7 first-born: The Jewish people said that the first-born son in each of their families belonged to the Lord.
  4. Luke 2:7 dressed him in baby clothes: The Greek text has “wrapped him in wide strips of cloth,” which was how young babies were dressed.

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"The Nativity"  by Federico Fiori Barocci, 1597 (Del Prado, Madrid)

“The Nativity” by Federico Fiori Barocci, 1597 (Del Prado, Madrid)

Christmas turns all wise souls from the surface, which is time,
to the center, which is eternity.

–E. Merrill Root

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from The Apostles’ Creed:

We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary . . .

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Music:

“You’re Here”  by Francesca Battistelli.  Click  HERE  to praise God for the gift of His Son, our Savior!

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Images courtesy of:
Honthorst.   http://christmasnativity.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Gerard_van_Honthorst_001.jpg
Barocci.    http://www.lib-art.com/imgpainting/2/3/4532-the-nativity-federico-fiori-barocci.jpg

951.) Isaiah 12

December 24, 2012

I12 4

Isaiah 12   (ESV)

The Lord Is My Strength and My Song

You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.

Romans 5:1  (NIV)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

I12 well

John 4:13-14  (NIV)

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

And you will say in that day:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

This gives two reasons for great praise. First, because of who God is: the Holy One of Israel. Second, because of where God is: in your midst — Immanuel, God with us. Each of these gives everyone reason to praise God!

–David Guzik

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Music:

The chapter instructs us to “Sing praises . . . shout, and sing for joy.”  We can gladly obey with this rendition of “Joy to the World.”  Click  HERE  to hear the Bach Choir sing Isaac Watts’ hymn.

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Images courtesy of:
In that day you will say.   http://www.christianmingler.com/wp-content/uploads/Isaiah124a.jpg
Jesus and the Woman at the Well.   http://newprotest.org/projects/theology/images/20090115_samaritan.jpg

950.) Isaiah 11

December 21, 2012

I11 stump

Isaiah 11   (ESV)

The Righteous Reign of the Branch

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

Isaiah 10:33-34 left with the idea of the Lord chopping down the proud as if they were mighty trees. Now, the Lord is looking over the stumps, and causes a Branch to grow out of one of them, the root of the family of Jesse, David’s father.

In calling the Messiah a Rod from the stem of Jesse, the Lord is emphasizing the humble nature of the Messiah. Jesse was the much less famous father of King David. It is far more humble to say “from Jesse” than to say “from King David.”

–David Guzik

And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom

1 Corinthians 1:30   (NIV)

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

and understanding,

Hebrews 4:15-16   (NIV)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

John 8:52-55   (NIV)

At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word.”

And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

"The Peaceable Kingdom"  by Edward Hicks, 1826 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)

“The Peaceable Kingdom” by Edward Hicks, 1826 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

I11 Romans

What a glorious day it will be — when sin no longer rules creation!

Romans 8:19-21   (NIV)

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

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Music:

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Click  HERE  to hear “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”  performed beautifully, hauntingly, by The Piano Guys on piano and cello.  This is an early Christmas gift to you!

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11 In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.

I11 kingdom come

The glory and the peace of the reign of the Messiah will be for the whole earth.

12 He will raise a signal for the nations
and will assemble the banished of Israel,
and gather the dispersed of Judah
from the four corners of the earth.
13 The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart,
and those who harass Judah shall be cut off;
Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah,
and Judah shall not harass Ephraim.
14 But they shall swoop down on the shoulder of the Philistines in the west,
and together they shall plunder the people of the east.
They shall put out their hand against Edom and Moab,
and the Ammonites shall obey them.
15 And the Lord will utterly destroy
the tongue of the Sea of Egypt,
and will wave his hand over the River
with his scorching breath,
and strike it into seven channels,
and he will lead people across in sandals.
16 And there will be a highway from Assyria
for the remnant that remains of his people,
as there was for Israel
when they came up from the land of Egypt.

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I11 sea

God is working His purpose out
As year succeeds to year;
God is working his purpose out,
And the time is drawing near;
Nearer and nearer draws the time,
The time that shall surely be,
When the earth shall be filled
With the glory of God
As the waters cover the sea.

From utmost east to utmost west,
Where’er man’s foot hath trod,
By the mouth of many messengers
Goes forth the voice of God:
Give ear to Me, ye continents,
Ye isles, give ear to Me,

That the earth may be filled
With the glory of God
As the waters cover the sea.

What can we do to work God’s work,
To prosper and increase
The brotherhood of all mankind,
The reign of the Prince of Peace?
What can we do to hasten the time,
The time that shall surely be,
When the earth shall be filled
With the glory of God
As the waters cover the sea.

March we forth in the strength of God,
With the banner of Christ unfurled,
That the light of the glorious Gospel of truth
May shine throughout the world;
Fight we the fight with sorrow and sin
To set their captives free,
That the earth may be filled
With the glory of God
As the waters cover the sea.

All we can do is nothing worth
Unless God blesses the deed;
Vainly we hope for the harvest-tide
Till God gives life to the seed;
Yet near and nearer draws the time,
The time that shall surely be,
When the earth shall be filled
With the glory of God
As the waters cover the sea.

–Arthur C. Ainger, 1894.

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Images courtesy of:
stump.   http://www.razzberrypress.com/uploads/Branch_root_of_jesse_Effler.jpg
Hicks.   http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/62/Edward_Hicks_-_Peaceable_Kingdom.jpg/350px-Edward_Hicks_-_Peaceable_Kingdom.jpg
Romans 8:19.   http://hbiblecommentary.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/romans8_19-creation-space.jpg?w=400&h=300&h=300
Thy Kingdom come.   http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ho_d89Ve8ao/TzDLhV2C9kI/AAAAAAAAAGw/StJaxTG7M6A/s1600/Thy+Kingdom+come.jpg
as the waters cover the sea.   http://s3.freefoto.com/images/05/40/05_40_3_web.jpg