Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Desolation of Zion's Rebels: Jerusalem's Ruin

"For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water, the mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, the captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator." (Isaiah 3:1-3)

The word stay means support, and a staff carries the same meaning. Through the future invasions of the Assyrians and Babylonians, the Lord threatened disobedient Israel with the elimination of life's basic needs - food and water. According to Lamentations 2:12, Jeremiah witnessed the groans of hungry children after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC. "They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mothers' bosom."

The Lord also promised to remove Jerusalem's citizens. After the deportation under the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, Jerusalem's occupants would be few in number. Sorcery characterizes three of the eleven people groups mentioned. The Hebrew participle behind the word prudent means one who divines. This is not a positive thing. A diviner is someone who utilizes sorcery in an attempt to see the future. The word behind artificer appears only here, and it means either magical or mechanical art. It may refer to someone who skillfully uses magic or to someone who is proficient in the art of manufacturing idols. Eloquent orator literally means discerning whisperer. In Jeremiah 8:17, the same word behind orator is translated charmed in reference to poisonous snakes which the Israelites were attempting to manipulate through sorcery. These discerning whisperers were snake-charmers. In their rebellion, the citizens of Jerusalem had degraded to the point of adopting Egypt's heathen religious practices.

"And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable." (Isaiah 3:4-5)

Children are capricious and inexperienced. Immaturity and the absence of life-wisdom prevents them from making desirable leaders. Because Jerusalem's citizens were proud people who preferred the powers of hell over the pure doctrine of Scripture, God promised to remove their rebellious leadership and to replace them with foolish children. After all, why should not they have child-leadership when they had behaved like rebellious children who refused to be corrected by the prophets?

Part of Israel's punishment would be the absence of respect for the elderly. God's displeasure would be evident through the presence of disrespectful people who cared nothing for giving deference to the gray head as was commanded in Leviticus 19:32. "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD."

As the world becomes more hateful toward God, this disrespect among young people becomes more evident. Parents are no longer parents; they are now the slaves of the children. Sadly, this same attitude is seen in many homes which profess to be Christian. When the children within a group of people have no healthy fear of their elders, sin rests at the door.

"When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand: In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people. For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of his glory." (Isaiah 3:6-8)

Isaiah warned of an approaching day in which the qualifications for leadership would consist of nothing greater than the presence of food and apparel. The future situation of Jerusalem would be so bad that the people would be looking for someone who had the basic necessities of life in order to make him a ruler. If Israel would not repent of her unholy direction, God would bring her to a place where she would be deprived of any legitimate leadership. She refused the greatest Leader of all; therefore, she would have none.

Though the wicked often prosper for a time, a tongue that speaks against the things of God will eventually be put to silence. This principle is valid in the life of a believer. The Christian who speaks against the things of God or refuses to follow Christ in holiness will be brought to a place of great distress.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The LORD'S Monarchy: The LORD'S Majesty

"Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day." 
(Isaiah 2:10-11)

As is often the case with the prophets (especially Isaiah), the remainder of the text bounds forward to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Much of what is pictured in this last part of chapter two parallels the prophecies of Revelation.

In God's chastening of Israel through the Assyrian and Babylonian armies, many of these things were fulfilled in principle; however, the context, language and parallels to New Testament prophecies strongly indicate that the main fulfillment is yet future.

When the Holy One of Israel returns, man's pride will be absolved. In the face of God's majesty, no man will be able to stand. Man is easily pleased with himself, and he is constantly attempting to rob God of His glory (an endeavor which is impossible - Isaiah 42:8). However, when God returns to punish the world and to redeem Zion, man will stoop to the lowest level in an effort to escape the Lamb's wrath.

"For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, and upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, and upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day." 
(Isaiah 2:12-17)

The items mentioned in this list would be things which represent strength and majesty. Lebanon (the area north of Israel) was and is known for its magnificent cedar trees. The area east of the Jordan known as Bashan boasted good pastureland and an abundance of oak trees. Tarshish was known for its wealth, especially precious metals. Solomon collaborated with the servants of Hiram to bring riches from this region once every three years (II Chronicles 9:21). The Lord promised to deal with this outlet of man's pride. Psalm 48:7 compliments this passage when it says, "Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind."

All of these things, along with the other items mentioned in the list, were used of men to exalt themselves; therefore, the Lord promised that someday every occasion for pride in man will be abolished.

"And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" (Isaiah 2:18-22)

This chapter ends with the absolvement of idolatry. Again, the word used here for idols means worthlessness. In the face of Christ's return, men will find no comfort in the things which they have chosen over God. This passage parallels Revelation 6:14-17 which vividly describes the unregenerate's response to the Lord's return.

And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

The text says that each man made the idol for himself. This is the opposite of how God intended things to be. Man is not the creator; he is the creature. Human nature wants to be in control. The human heart does not want to be accountable to any higher authority. This is why people are willing to stoop to the foolishness of image-worship. However, at the return of Christ, this perversion of God's plan will be absolved.

God's wrath is kindled through man's abuse of His creation. God never intended for the earth to house wickedness. When He returns, His divine anger will cause the earth and its inhabitants to shake as He executes vengeance on those who have abused His spotless creation.

And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth (Revelation 11:18).

The text ends with an encouraging reminder. Despite his terror, man's existence is nothing better than temporary. Through this last verse, the Holy Spirit is encouraging every man, woman and child to choose the fear of the Lord over the fear of man. Godly fear leads to faith in His Person, but the fear of man always discourages faith in the Person and work of God.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The LORD'S Monarchy: The LORD'S Mandate

"Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers. Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots: Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not." (Isaiah 2:6-9)

The Lord promises to forsake all that forsake Him. Rather than find delight in the blessings of Christ's coming kingdom, the rebel will be cast out.

Instead of choosing repentance and the fear of God, Israel and Judah turned to their neighbors for help in time of trouble. They also had adopted their ways. The word replenished means filled. Judah had sought to fill her spiritual void by making alliances with her eastern neighbors. She also had adopted their idolatry and godless lifestyle. In the days of David, the pure worship of Jehovah had prevailed throughout Israel; but now Judah found herself adopting the cultic religious practices of the previously hated Philistines. Spiritual degradation often takes place rapidly.

The Lord declared the land of Judah to be full of three things: riches, horses and idols. Israel had gathered an abundance of physical wealth, but she was spiritually destitute. This indictment reminds one of Christ's rebuke to the church of Laodicea. "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17)." Israel's wealth had served to encourage a heart of ingratitude and foolish independence.

Israel's land was also full of horses and chariots. These things symbolize military power. The prophecies of Isaiah took place during a time of political and international turmoil. The Assyrian Empire was becoming a greater threat, and Judah was strengthening herself physically against her enemies when she should have been focusing on her spiritual foundations. These prophecies took place while king Uzziah still lived. Early in his reign, he strengthened Judah's armies and prepared numerous weapons of war. As long as he remained humble, God helped him; however, once he became powerful, pride got the better of him. The text would seem to indicate that Judah's citizens followed this same vein of pride. They had weapons of war, chariots and horses in abundance; why did they need God? The coming years would soon demonstrate the vanity of man's power.

Finally, Israel was full of idols. From Dan to Beersheba, the Holy Land was defiled with idolatry. Compromises rarely stay small. Judah had failed to follow God with all of her heart, and it had cost her dearly. The word for idols literally means worthlessness. In the Old Testament, this word is commonly linked with idols and idolatry, whether the idol be an image, riches or vain men. In Zechariah 11:17, the word is used an an adjective in the phrase "Woe to the idol shepherd...." Placing trust in anything or anyone other than God is a worthless endeavor.

Because everyone was an idolater at heart, Isaiah cries out, "Forgive them not." The word for forgive literally means to carry, bear or take away. No man is capable of removing the sin from his soul. God is the only One Who can take up and carry away sin. Isaiah's request is not a cruel plea against helpless souls. Judah and Israel knew better. In the face of God's goodness, they had chosen idolatry. Their decision was not made in ignorance. It was made in knowledge of the prophets' rebukes. It was blatant; therefore, it was unforgivable. They refused to repent; therefore, God refused to forgive.

"All unrighteousness is sin (I John 5:17)," but unrighteousness committed in the knowledge of God's Scriptures is doubly frightening.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The LORD'S Monarchy: The LORD'S Mountain

"The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." (Isaiah 2:1-2)

As with many passages in Isaiah, this passage is millennial in nature. It deals with the Lord's return and the establishment of Christ's earthly kingdom.

The "mountain of the LORD'S house" speaks of Mount Zion which once marked the place of God's temple. Since the Lord's withdrawal of His divine presence in Ezekiel 11:23, Mount Zion has been destitute of her true glory; however, when Christ returns, Zion will become the resting place of the most glorious temple yet known (Ezekiel 40-48).

The text says that the Lord's mountain will be exalted above all. If one takes this literally, the new temple mount in Jerusalem will be the highest point of the surrounding area. This would seem to indicate that some geographical changes will take place which is very likely based upon Ezekiel's description of the millennial Jerusalem and its temple.

Psalm 48:1-2 says,

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.

The millennial temple will someday be the most beautiful place on earth. This is difficult to imagine with Jerusalem in its present state. Although the holy city is currently a place of strife and tension, God will transform it into a place of unimaginable beauty and peace. Above anything else, the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ will serve to make the future Jerusalem the most desired of all cities.

The Hebrew word for flow is the verb form of the word river. Just like a flowing river, the nations will pass through the holy city, each citizen offering reverence to the King of kings and each receiving the invaluable teaching of His holy Law.

"And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD." (Isaiah 2:3-5)

"For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14)." Instead of being void of the knowledge of God, most of the earth's inhabitants will have a heart to seek after God. The terrors of the Great Tribulation will have passed. The rebellious armies of Armageddon will be dissolved, and the surviving inhabitants of the earth will be given a heart to seek after God.

The Law of God will be primary in the future kingdom. Though rejected by the world and lightly esteemed by carnal Christians, the Law of God will someday be feared and heeded as the great Schoolmaster for which it was intended to be (Galatians 3:24). The Law of God was never meant to save a man's soul. It was ordained to lead the repentant sinner to the spotless Messiah who will someday personally expound the heart of His Law to the obedient ear. If God's Word will have such a prominent place in the future kingdom, how much more should it be studied and obeyed in this current dispensation? Regardless of the liberal's wishes, the Law is not going away. "...The word of our God shall stand forever (Isaiah 40:8)."

The book of Revelation promises that the worst of wars is yet to come; however, when such things have passed, the world will once again know absolute peace. The future generations of the millennial kingdom will have no concept of the art of warfare. People struggle everyday to find peace. They look for it in better living conditions, better education and increased governmental control. They search for it through inward reflection and meditation. Everywhere, people are desperately trying to find the answer to peace; but they will not find it apart from God. God is love and peace and wellness. War exists not because God is cruel but because man is sinful. God is a Man of war (Exodus 15:3) only because of a need to deal with the rebellion of men. God loves peace. He is called the Prince of peace, and He has promised a blessing upon the peacemakers of this world (Matthew 5:9). The man who professes belief in Christ yet has no heart for peace is displaying a heart that is not right toward God.

This passage ends with a beautiful invitation to forsake the dark wisdom of the world and to walk in the light of the knowledge of God. Jesus Christ gave a similar invitation to all when He said, "...I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life (John 8:12)."

Micah 4:1-5 parallels these passages almost word-for-word. This fact has been the victim of needless debate among many. The question has been asked, "Who copied whom?" "Did Isaiah steal these prophecies from Micah, or did Micah copy Isaiah?" Why should it be unimaginable that the Holy Spirit would move two different men to write nearly the exact same thing? Would not such a divine work serve to compliment the fact that the Bible has many penman yet only one Author? The God-fearing man need not waste time with such useless questions. He need only remain focused on the faultless nature of God's Word. The double appearance of these encouraging prophecies need only spark rejoicing, not confusion and doubt.

Just as this passage ends with an invitation to walk in God's light, Micah 4:5 says, "For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever." Revelation 22:11 declares, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still." Some people will never change. They want nothing to do with God, and nothing will bring them to repentance. God encourages those who hunger and thirst for Him to keep following. The God-fearing individual need not be distracted or discouraged by those who do not follow. In the end, it will be well with the righteous.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Israel's Rebellion: Jerusalem's Purging (Part III)

"And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed. For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen. For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water. And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them." (Isaiah 1:28-31)

Too many people view God as the security man who is trying to monitor twenty or more cameras all at once. Such an individual is likely to overlook a thief. God sees all at once. He does not have human limitations. He sees all and knows all. Every apostate and false professor will receive what his works have bought him.

Idols and shrines were often erected near strong trees and gardens. These places represented strength and life. They gave the false impression of well-being and prosperity. God promised Israel that He would dry these places up and confound their abuse of His creation.

The Lord says they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired. Speaking of future generations which would see the chastening of Judah and her cities, the Lord used the third person plural. He then switched to the second person plural for the second verb. The choices of the people in Isaiah's day were setting the groundwork for the spiritual failure of future generations. Rebellion has far-reaching consequences.

Israel could choose to worship her idols while pretending to serve God, but the end would be destructive. The spiritual ground of the rebel is dry and barren while the spiritual ground of the righteous man is "like a tree planted by the rivers of water (Psalm 1:3)."

Although the wicked often appear strong, God promised that both the idol worshiper and the one making the idol would burn together. They would destroy one another. Tow represents the small threads of flax and other such materials. The rebel and his companions are as volatile as dry grass and matches. The unquenchable fire ultimately represents the everlasting fires of hell. The man who turns from God and pursues something else will be consigned to the flames.

While he cannot receive condemnation in hell, the believer can be distracted by the various idols of the world. Idolatry is the worship of anyone or anything other than God. It is easy to get one's eyes off of the Lord. Practicing the principles of idolatry is just as destructive as the physical act itself. Perhaps this is why John commanded the Christian Church, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols (I John 5:21)."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Israel's Rebellion: Jerusalem's Purging (Part II)

"Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness." (Isaiah 1:27)

God's redemption consists of judgment and righteousness. Man's sin must be judged. In Christ's suffering, death and resurrection, God has fully judged sin. In Christ, each believer has received what his sin deserves (II Corinthians 5:21).

In Christ, each believer also finds the righteousness he so desperately needs. Through simple faith, the righteous character of God is imparted to the repentant sinner (Romans 4:3).

By God's grace, the Messiah has fully dealt with the judgment of man's sin as well as the need for God's righteousness. The individual seeking to be saved need only flee in faith to Christ's payment in order to escape his rightful condemnation. At Christ's return, Israel's eyes will be opened to the reality of these things and the hearts of her citizens will join the ranks of the spiritually circumcised.

The Hebrew participle behind converts might well be translated the ones who turn. The King James translators translated the exact same participle as them that turn in Isaiah 59:20. God is not asking men to give only mental assent to the supremacy of Christ, He is asking them to change their minds concerning their sin and God's holiness. Repentance (turning) is an inseparable part of saving faith.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Israel's Rebellion: Jerusalem's Purging

"Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:" (Isaiah 1:24)

The Holy Spirit now turns to Jerusalem's purging. The Hebrew word behind ease carries with it the idea of comfort. God promised that He would comfort Himself by bringing retribution upon lost Israel.

When the Lord's doctrine is devalued and diluted by disobedient and rebellious people, God is greatly disturbed. As the professing church becomes more and more liberal, it becomes bolder in its disregard for the need to maintain pure doctrine. This disregard is accompanied by an attitude of apathy concerning the reality of God's displeasure. The end result of such things is always disastrous.

"And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city." (Isaiah 1:25-26)

God promised Israel that He would not tolerate but rather remove the devalued and diluted religion which they had adopted. Contrary to the liberal's beliefs, God will not permit the indefinite continuance of disobedience to Scripture. Payday is coming.

For Israel, the full restoration of her judges and the complete purging of her people will take place upon the second return of the Lord Jesus Christ. After her national conversion at Christ's return (Romans 11:26, Isaiah 59:20-21), the nation of Israel will serve her Messiah in righteousness.

The Holy Spirit describes the future Jerusalem as the city of righteousness and the faithful city. Righteous and faithful are two adjectives which describe the Lord Jesus Christ. Jerusalem will someday be righteous and faithful only because the Lord is righteous and faithful. Were it not for the Redeemer's presence, His saints would have nothing in and of themselves.

In reference to the Jerusalem of the millennial kingdom, Ezekiel 48:35 says, "...and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there." The saint is indebted to the merciful presence of God for all that he possesses. In Isaiah's day, Israel trusted in her own righteousness. In the days of the Lord Jesus, nothing had changed; and in the present day, the Jewish people are still convinced that God is found through human goodness and ability; however, the Scriptures are clear. Righteousness is of God, and it is graciously imparted to the one who is willing place his trust in the righteous blood of Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Israel's Rebellion: Jerusalem's Apostasy (Part II)

"Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them." (Isaiah 1:23)

Israel's leadership had become covetous. No longer were they content with God and what He provides. Each one had to have just a little bit more. In Jeremiah's day, this defect in leadership had become so prominent that the Lord said, "Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it (Jeremiah 5:1)."

The covetous nature of Israel's princes had led them to pass over the righteous judgment which they were employed to exercise. Because of an uncircumcised heart, they cared nothing for the lovingkindness of God. The poor widow and the fatherless child could offer them no rewards; therefore, their judgment was trampled by those who desired to have what little they had.

Covetousness always ends in a failure to exercise righteous judgment. Demas fell in love with what the world had to offer. This led him to forsake Paul in his time of need (II Timothy 4:10). Demas failed in righteous judgment. Judas' covetousness led him to betray Christ. When he should have been standing behind the righteous King, he found himself handing Him over to men who cared nothing for judgment. Judas' joy was short-lived. The thirty pieces of silver did not give rest to his tortured soul.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Israel's Rebellion: Jerusalem's Apostasy

"How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:" (Isaiah 1:21-22)

The Lord begins this next section with Jerusalem's apostasy. The city's flesh-focused religion had left it as spiritually destitute as a prostitute. God was no longer her focus nor her authority. Jerusalem had committed both physical and spiritual adultery; therefore, the term harlot is befitting.

In the days of David, Jerusalem had been the home of biblical judgment. Although he too had faults, David was a God-fearing man who understood the need to rule in obedience to the Scriptures. Before his death, David penned these words under the Spirit's direction,

The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain (II Samuel 23:2-4).

Yes, at one point, Jerusalem's soul had enjoyed the undefiled judgment of God; but now, the daughter of Zion cried, "Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers (Jeremiah 4:31)."

Israel's doctrine had become valueless and diluted. Dross consists of the impurities found in silver and other metals. It must be removed in order for the full value of silver to be realized. Through disobedience, Israel had devalued God's Law in the eyes of a lost world. There idolatry, oppression, immorality and lack of separation from the heathen had left them with a hypocritical religious structure which was laden with impurities.

The Lord is not condoning the enjoyment of wine as an alcoholic beverage, but rather, He is simply using the concentrated nature of wine as an example of biblical doctrine's undiluted potency. Any of the people hearing this prophesy would understand the unappealing nature of diluted liquor to the one who chose to use it. Rebellion had left Jerusalem with a watered-down doctrinal system. God's truth was no longer the only standard. Obedience had become optional and subjective. Such a religious structure was nothing different than what the heathen nations had; therefore, how could Israel ever hope to attract the lost nations to a holy God Who is supposed to be different than the subjective and ever-changing gods of men?

God does not want His people to be on the fence. He does not want His doctrine to be devalued and watered-down through hypocrisy. Christ told the Christian church at Laodicea, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth (Revelation 3:15-16)." A man cannot have both God and the world (James 4:4, Matthew 6:24).