Prophecy against the Earth: Isaiah 24 (3)
Pray Psalm 73.25-28.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish;
You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.
But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord God,
That I may declare all Your works.
Read Isaiah 24.7-13.
1. Fun can take various forms. What forms did it take in these verses?
2. Why did God consider it necessary to bring an end to His people’s fun? What did He bring them instead?
Ours is not the first fun-seeking generation.
These days, even within the Christian community, we can hardly conceive of doing anything that isn’t fun. Fun is the opposite of work – which we do throughout the week, and from which we retire as soon as possible, so that we can get on with more fun. Being a Christian must be fun. Worship that isn’t fun doesn’t draw “worshipers”. Church activities that aren’t fun don’t succeed. Everything has to be fun – Bible study has to be fun, mission trips have to be fun, even the Lord’s Day needs some fun activities for us to do together. If it ain’t fun, it’s work, and we are not a generation who wants to work any more than is necessary, and especially not where our faith is concerned.
We’re right where the people of Judah and Jerusalem were in Isaiah’s day. Our fun may not be as raucous, ribald, rank, and wretched as that of the merry-hearted, wine-guzzling, mirth-seeking people of ancient Israel, but we’re on the same spectrum as they were.
And it’s all fun and games until God decides He’s had enough. Fun had become the god of the people of Judah and Jerusalem, just as it is rapidly becoming the god of putative Christians in our day. Take away the fun of going to church, and, frankly, we’re just not going to go. If church involves work, or sacrifice, or sorrowing for sins, or devoting ourselves to seeking the Lord for revival, or risking mockery and scorn for our witness, or giving up anything of fun in our lives, then we’ll find another church, or simply stop going.
God may shake down this fun-seeking generation of His people, but if He does, a gleaning will remain (v. 13), a remnant of the poor, the humble, the repentant, and of all those who cry out to God for mercy (vv. 14-16).
1. God is not opposed to our having fun. He’s opposed to making everything befun. Explain.
2. God turned Jerusalem’s fun into bitterness (v. 9), yet the people sought it still (v. 11). If having fun is not the goal of our Christian faith, what is? What do we have to go through to achieve that goal?
3. God likened His judgment on Jerusalem to a violent “shaking of an olive tree” (v. 13). If God were to shake His Church violently in our day, what would that look like? Who would be among the remnant that survive such a shaking?
…the Prophet does not censure joy simply considered, but excessive and immoderate mirth. When men are merry, they lay no restraint on themselves on account of that dissoluteness or love of disorder (ἀταξίαν) which is natural to them. The Jews, having behaved insolently and lived luxuriously, are deservedly threatened with the vengeance of God, because most justly is joy taken from us when we know not how to make a right use of the Lord's benefits, or to rejoice in him. It thus becomes necessary that he should take away our pleasures and delights, and compel us to sigh and groan. John Calvin (1509-1564 AD),Commentary on Isaiah 24
Help me to delight in You, Lord, to rejoice in Your mercy, grace, and goodness, and in my daily life to…
Pray Psalm 73.
The psalmist shows us various ways of escape (1 Cor. 10.13) through temptation. Pray that God will help you recognize and resist temptation in all its forms today.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 73 (Ellacombe: Hosanna, Loud Hosanna)
To us our God is only good, to all the pure in heart!
But as for me, I nearly stood in sin from Him apart.
I nearly stumbled, nearly slipped as I the proud observed,
How they with ease and riches dripped while I, impoverished, served.
The wicked know in death no pain; with fat their bodies surge.
The plagues and trials of other men their ease do not disturb.
In fury, wrath, and pride they dwell; their minds run where they will.
Their tongues of sin and mocking tell; with earth their mouths they fill.
They never change but fill their soul with earth’s abundant charms,
And laugh to think that God might know or do them any harm.
For thus do they themselves appease with riches and good health;
The wicked ever dwell in ease, in pleasure and in wealth.
“Surely in vain have I kept pure my heart, or cleansed my hands!
What troubles daily I endure while thus with God I stand!”
But had I spoken thus I would Your children have betrayed.
When this at last I understood, my troubled soul obeyed.
Into Your presence, Lord, I come and see the sinner’s end:
In slippery places they must run; to judgment them You send.
Destruction all at once must fall when You Your anger raise;
And terror will beset them all both now and all their days.
When my poor sad, embittered heart was pierced within by grace,
I saw how beastly was the part I chose before Your face.
But I am ever with You, Lord, You hold me by the hand,
And guide me daily by Your Word; in glory I e’er shall stand.
Then what have I in heav’n above but You, my God and Lord?
And on this earth what shall I love besides You and Your Word?
My flesh and heart shall surely fail, and death my soul release;
Your strength for me will e’er avail and grant eternal peace.
Then let them perish who depart from You and from Your Word.
All those unfaithful in their heart You shall destroy, O Lord!
But as for me, Your presence, Lord, is where I e’er will dwell!
I hide myself within Your Word, Your wondrous works to tell
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).