Ephraim and Jerusalem

Isaiah 28-29 and Psalm 102

One of the many things that Francis Chan included in his talk yesterday at the end of Exponential East 2017 was A.W. Tozer’s assertion1 that this country has lost its “lofty concept of God” that is, “the high concept of God”

We’ve suffered the loss of that high concept of God, and the concept of God handled by the average gospel church now is so low as to be unworthy of God and a disgrace to the Church. It is by neglect, degenerate error and spiritual blindness that som are saying God is their “pardner” or “the man upstairs.” One Christian college put out a booklet called “Christ Is My Quarterback”–He always calls the right play. And a certain businessman was quoted as saying, “God’s a good fellow and I like Him.”

Somehow we’ve lost the view that we read throughout Isaiah, well, the entire Bible, that God is all powerful, the Creator of all.

But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.
The children of your servants will live in your presence;
their descendants will be established before you.”
Psalm 102:27-28

Lord, as we read through Isaiah, may we see clearly that you are the all powerful, all knowing, all gracious God of All! While we aren’t focused on scaring the hell out of everyone, help us to stand in awe of all you are.

Isaiah 28: Woe to the Leaders of Ephraim and Judah

Perhaps we don’t like to read the words of the prophets because of how they portray our God:

See, the Lord has one who is powerful and strong.
Like a hailstorm and a destructive wind,
like a driving rain and a flooding downpour,
he will throw it forcefully to the ground.
Isaiah 28:2

But here is the great news:

So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it
will never be stricken with panic.
Isaiah 28:16

The one sure foundation we can rely on is Jesus Christ. In him we will no longer panic, no longer be tossed about.

Hear the words of the Lord through Isaiah, God is working his plan according to each person. The process is painful, but the rewards are great:

Caraway is not threshed with a sledge,
nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin;
caraway is beaten out with a rod,
and cumin with a stick.
Grain must be ground to make bread;
so one does not go on threshing it forever.
The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it,
but one does not use horses to grind grain.
All this also comes from the Lord Almighty,
whose plan is wonderful,
whose wisdom is magnificent.
Isaiah 28:27-29

God’s plan is better than mine, though there are times when I feel like the caraway or cumin or even the grain that is ground into flour. Whatever the case, my hope is to be useful to the Lord in this life, these few days I have.

Isaiah 29: Woe to David’s City

The painful truth expressed by Isaiah so long ago is still seen in our churches today:

The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
Isaiah 29:13

That which we think is hidden is in plain sight to God. He sees our masks we wear to hide our true motives and identities. Transparency is covered with words and promises, probably because we don’t do well with authenticity. I pray for a day when we can let these guards down and simply be ourselves, the day when we will lean on each other for help and support without shame or restraint. We may not ever be perfect here on earth, but we can move in the direction of authentic worship, even if for brief moments. These pure offerings pierce through the armor built to hide our true feelings. Help us, Lord, to be the community of faith you truly desire.

Hear these words as a benediction of hope for that day:

Therefore this is what the Lord,
who redeemed Abraham,
says to the descendants of Jacob:
“No longer will Jacob be ashamed;
no longer will their faces grow pale.
When they see among them their children,
the work of my hands,
they will keep my name holy;
they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob,
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding;
those who complain will accept instruction.”
Isaiah 29:22-24




1 The Attributes of God, Volume 2, Deeper Into the Father’s Heart, A. W. Tozer, Moody Press, ISBN: 978-1-60066-791-6

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