Out of Darkness Into Light

from Lynda Lindsey

And He shall stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they shall dwell secure, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth. And He shall be their peace.   Micah 5:4-5(a)

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon His vindication. Micah 7:7-9

Creator God, from the days of man’s beginning in the garden, has always told us His good plan for us. We’ve never been left in the dark nor had to guess what God requires. Be fruitful. Multiply. Fill and subdue the earth. Eat these plants for food, for life, but don’t eat from that tree lest death result. Even after the fall God spoke to Adam, Eve, and the serpent and explained His provision for them as a consequence of their sin and disobedience. God not only gave His people written commands, He also entrusted His clear life-giving message to leaders and prophets, priests and kings. 

Love, honor, obey, cherish, walk humbly with God. Do justice, love kindness, grieve and mourn over sin, repent, seek forgiveness, begin anew. The marvel and mystery of looking to the Lord and waiting for Him, is that the Lord pleads our cause and executes His judgment for us; He brings us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Jesus, the Righteous One, is our righteousness, strength, and peace; He is our Shepherd with whom we  dwell peacefully, safe and secure in His pasture. Jesus, born in Bethlehem, yet from of old, from everlasting to everlasting, is a trustworthy Savior.

God redeemed and saved His people from sin, from bondage, from Egypt and He still redeems and saves. God always cries out against injustice, wickedness, deceit, violence, greed and lies; thus He disciplined and rebuked the faithless Israelites, yet He preserved a remnant. God judges sin but He also hears the cries of repentant sinners. It we confess and forsake sin, if we look to the merciful and compassionate Good Shepherd, He will pardon and forgive. Forgiven, released from sin’s darkness, walking in light, we have true satisfaction, joy, and peace. Don’t delay; seek, and find, His light!

In That Day

from Lynda Lindsey

In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel. Isaiah 4:2

And he who is left Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who’s been recorded for life in Jerusalem, when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Isaiah 4:3-4

Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.  Isaiah 4:5-6

God, wearied by Judah’s complacent attitude toward sin, greed, idolatry, pride, self-indulgence and unjust treatment of the poor and needy, sent Isaiah to warn Judah of coming judgment and exile. Judah’s love for God had grown cold; instead of boasting in the Lord, Judah boasted about sin. Judah disregarded God’s presence, refused to submit to His authority, and stubbornly spurned repentance until God used severe measures to get His people’s attention. Isaiah warned of terrifying days to come when food, water, and even competent leaders would be scarce.

God would bring low the haughty and prideful, idols and false worship would be stripped away, and God alone would be exalted as Lord over all the earth. Isaiah’s warnings, although solemn and terrifying, still contained a message of hope, for God would preserve a remnant through whom the Messiah would come to rule, reign, and judge. Isaiah’s message called people to repent, to abstain from setting themselves against God, and to realign themselves with God, demonstrating obedience by their speech and actions.

In that great and coming day God’s purified people will be cleansed from filth, washed clean and made holy by the blood of the Lamb. Just as in Israel’s beginning when the Lord led His people in a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, so shall it be again. God’s radiant Presence will be our canopy, always shading, protecting, and sheltering us. In that day we shall no longer learn war nor shall we need swords, for we will eternally worship God with all the saints and angels, crying out, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” Rejoice and walk in the certainty of that glorious hope! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Melting Mountains

from Lynda Lindsey

And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel.  Micah 1:4-5(a)

Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hands.  Micah 2:1

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob  his transgression and to Israel his sin. Micah 3:8

Micah preaches about a coming day when the Lord God will march out in battle to judge His people for their spiritual unfaithfulness, a time of terrifying events that will lay waste northern Samaria and southern Judah and Jerusalem, a time when valleys will split open and mountains melt, flowing downhill like candles sitting too close to a fire or like waters rushing down from high places. Lament and mourn, put on sackcloth and ashes.  God’s sin-captivated people, perishing from sin-sickness will be taken captive by Assyria and Babylon and will go into bondage and exile.

God, angry at His people’s oppression of the vulnerable, the weak and downtrodden,  is poised for action. Haughty, powerful leaders have exploited and devised wicked plots against the poor, seizing their property and houses by force, denying their own countrymen rest and peace. Unfaithful kings, priests, and prophets have suppressed and rejected the preaching of God’s Word, substituting a doctrine of self-indulgence and overindulgence. Micah warns the wicked: none of their ill-gotten gain will benefit them, for in captivity they will have neither lands, houses, rest or peace.  

Micah, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power, declared God’s just retribution: wicked leaders who had silenced their ears to the cries of the oppressed and had refused to hear pleas for mercy and justice, would themselves experience God’s silence in exile. Micah, even while proclaiming judgment, offers hope and restoration: God will gather a remnant of sheep and provide a Shepherd King to lead them. Exile can be a place to think, to reflect, to consider and mourn sin, to repent. God can be found even in the silence of exile; repent and humbly seek Him. 

Come, Reason, Go Up, Walk

from Lynda Lindsey

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.”  Isaiah 2:3(b)

O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord. Isaiah 2:5

Most terminally ill patients, consumed from the inside out by disease that manifests itself in observable symptoms from the head to the feet, if offered a healing cure would be quick to accept; Judah was an exception. Judah, having abandoned God, the Holy One of Israel, was sick, unsound, very seriously ill. Even though her sin-sickness was clearly evident to God, Judah adamantly denied anything was amiss and refused the cure of repentance. “Come, now, let us reason together,” implored God, yet Judah spurned the cure to come, go up, enter into the Rock, repent and walk in His ways. 

God offers grace to repentant sinners. When we repent and turn to Him, abandon our stubborn pride, humble ourselves under His mighty hand and do the work of good deeds, we eat the fruit of those good deeds. If we refuse repentance, refuse humility, refuse grace and continue to walk in darkness, we eat the fruit of our wicked deeds. It’s the law of sowing and reaping. God will not be mocked, what we sow, we will reap. Judah indulged her every whim, sowing to her fleshly desires and she reaped a harvest of corruption. God entreated and implored but His people chose to walk in darkness. 

Come, reason, go up to the highest heights with God and walk in His light. The choice is ours. Sow to the Spirit and reap life eternal and a harvest of God’s love, goodness and kindness. Sow to the Spirit, walk in Jesus’ light, and have fellowship with God and with one another. God implores us to be in an intimate, familial relationship with Him, to trust and obey Him, and to stand with our feet planted firmly on Jesus, the rock of our salvation. Come, learn from Him and walk in all His ways. There is no recovery from sin-sickness except humble confession and repentance. Don’t wait. 

Come Now, Let Us Reason Together

from Lynda Lindsey

“The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.  Isaiah 1:3-4

When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers I will not listen; your hands are full of blood, wash yourselves; make yourselves clean…  Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. 

Isaiah 1:15-17

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;” Isaiah 1:18-19

Isaiah prophesied against Judah at a time when Judah had despised and spurned  God, the Holy One of Israel. Judah moved away from God to follow foreign, wicked kings and adopted, even reveled in, the despicable practices that went along with worship of pagan gods. Isaiah’s message from God: a time of terrible judgment is coming, a time when God will punish His people for their evil. Still, God eloquently  pleads for His people to return to Him, to reason together with Him, to accept His offer of grace, so that even though their sins are like scarlet, they shall become like wool. 

God’s children were so inured to sin that they no longer understand how far away from God they were. With no understanding of God’s purity and holiness, they cast off all restraint, abandoning God, casting Him aside as something useless, in pursuit of their hedonistic ways. God, wearied by His people’s sin, rebellion, and unfaithfulness hid His eyes and covered His ears to their hypocritical prayers. Yet, if God’s people would repent, cease to do evil, learn to do good, begin to seek justice and correct oppression, God’s grace would abound. 

God, the righteous judge, desires our repentance, our return to Him, and He designs every circumstance to smelt away our dross, to purify and cleanse us. God’s grace, always on offer to repentant sinners, always astounds: the vilest of sinners, once submerged in the scarlet flow of Jesus’ blood, is washed clean! Restored to God, we once again eat the good of the land and are useful for His purpose. We, His sent-out-ones, stand for righteousness and justice, seek the highest good for all, and promote Him in the land.  Come now, reason together with the Lord!

Despicable Practices

from Lynda Lindsey

And he (King Ahaz of Judah) did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done, but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. II Kings 16:2(b)-3

Ahaz’s message to the king of Assyria: I am your servant and your son. Come up and rescue me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are attacking me. II Kings 16:7

When Ahaz went to meet Assyria’s king: He (Ahaz) saw the altar that was at Damascus. And King Ahaz sent to Uriah the priest a model of the altar, and its pattern, exact in all its details. And Uriah the priest built the altar…  II Kings 16:10-11(a)

Generally speaking, kings of the northern kingdom of Israel were more wicked than were the kings in southern Judah, but Judah’s King Ahaz was an exception. Ahaz did not do what was right in the Lord’s eyes as David had done; moreover, Ahaz behaved more odiously than the rulers of the northern kingdom. Ahaz defiled the temple, polluted worship, spurned God’s help, and burned his son as an offering, a despicable “worship” practice adopted from the surrounding pagan nations. The king’s despicable compromises encouraged the belief that the unacceptable was acceptable. 

Participation in a despicable practice is to be actively involved and complicit in something heinous and vile, something detestable and wicked. For governmental and spiritual leaders to embrace the unacceptable as acceptable, to call wrongdoing right, confuses and misleads those under their care. How could a nation who considered the fruit of the womb as God’s reward, a nation who considered children a gift from the Lord’s hands, be so deceived, so depraved, as to willingly place their babies into red-hot fires? 

An unwillingness to be different from those around them and leaders who countenanced evil brought sin and compromise. Ahaz, needing rescue, spurned God’s help and allied himself with pagans. Ahaz called himself a servant, a son, of a pagan king and led people deeper into apostasy. Uriah, unlike the priests in King Uzziah’s day, willingly went along with the travesty. Has the unacceptable become our acceptable? Are we aligned with God or the world? Is our worship pure or despicable? When the Lord returns, will He find us faithful, holy, a people for His own possession?