God makes all the difference.
Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the LORD rises and appears over you. (Isaiah 60:2)
Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. (Matthew 13:43)
For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. (Colossians 1:13)
Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD. (Isaiah 2:5)
Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. (Isaiah 4:5)
And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. (Isaiah 58:10)
Once again the scene shifts. The exile is receding in the past and the remnant of Israel—those who survived God’s judgment and Babylon’s cruelty—are working hard to rebuild their lives and communities. But life back in Jerusalem under Persian rule is not faring as well as they hoped. So once again a prophetic voice breaks the silence to address a discouraged population. Most people are facing terrific difficulties. Despite what their prophets have spoken, Jerusalem is a mere shadow of the great city their parents and grandparents knew. People doubt whether God is really alive, or really all that powerful, or really even cares. But the faithful know that God is powerful and does care; they are determined to convince their countrymen that He has their well-being in mind. He can make this people and this place great again, if they just trust and follow Him. Soon the whole world will be caught up in this brand new thing God is doing.
This section of Isaiah is written to a singular female as if she is the mother of the Jews. But this woman isn’t just any woman—she is Jerusalem. Cities are often described as female because they are like mothers supporting a brood of children (the population). This capital city of God’s special favor, of God’s presence, is filled with His people of the promise and is poised to become something new and glorious.
Arise, shine, for your light has broken through!
The Eternal One’s brilliance has dawned upon you.
See truly; look carefully—darkness blankets the earth;
people all over are cloaked in darkness.
But God will rise and shine on you;
the Eternal’s bright glory will shine on you, a light for all to see.
Nations north and south, peoples east and west, will be drawn to your light,
will find purpose and direction by your light.
In the radiance of your rising, you will enlighten the leaders of nations.
Don’t be shy; don’t be doubtful; lift up your eyes and look around.
They have gathered all around you, eager to come and be close to you.
And your children will come back to this land:
your sons from the farthest places of wandering,
and your daughters gently carried home.
And when you see it, your face will glow;
your heart will race and be filled with joy;
For great ships will arrive with gifts from across the sea,
and the wealth of nations will make their way to you.
Herd after herd of camels will cover the land,
caravans arriving daily from south and southwest: Midian, Ephah,
Even Sheba with gifts of gold and frankincense.
They will announce for all the world to hear, “The Eternal be praised!”
Kedar’s flocks will be gathered for you;
Nebaioth’s rams will be available for sacrifices.
Eternal One: When they are offered on My altar, I will accept them.
I will make My glorious house even more glorious.
Who are these sailing to our ports like clouds through the sky,
like doves winging their way home to their window sills?
Breezy coastlands will wait expectantly for Me; the ships of Tarshish arrive first
to bring your children back from distant lands
Carrying in their holds the silver and gold—
to honor the name of the Eternal your God,
The Holy One of Israel who has made you beautiful.
People will come from different countries and different cultures
to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls and make her strong again.
Their kings will help you however you need.
Eternal One: I punished you because I was furious with you,
reduced you to little on account of your persistent wrongdoing;
But I will restore you, reclaim you, and rebuild you because I cannot help but love you.
Now your gates will stay open to a constant stream of gifts;
all day and night they will not be shut
As the wealth of nations is brought to you
with their kings leading the processions.
Any nations that abstain, any peoples who decline from serving you
will simply disappear;
they will be destroyed.
Eternal One: Meanwhile, the most beautiful materials will arrive from Lebanon—
cypress, box, and pine—to rebuild and decorate the place where I promised to be,
My house where I will rest in glory among you.
And all the children of those who had bullied you, attacked and abused you,
all those who hated you will come crawling on their knees and bowing at your feet.
And they will address you as “city of God, place of the Eternal,
the Holy One of Israel’s Zion, sweet heaven on earth.”
Eternal One: Although you have suffered abandonment, hatred, and hopeless despair,
and no one dared to pass through,
I will make you a place of lofty beauty for all time,
filled and overflowing with joy from generation to generation.
You will be enriched by the world and its kings,
and you will know for certain that I am the Eternal,
Your Liberator, your Redeemer, the Strong One of Jacob.
I will bring you gold instead of bronze, silver instead of iron,
bronze instead of wood, iron instead of stone.
Your government will be founded and grounded;
I will make peace your governor, and righteousness your ruler.
You’ll never hear again, “Help! Call the guards!”
Violence, destruction, and ruin will be things of the past in Jerusalem.
You will name the city walls Salvation, and the city gates Praise.
You won’t need the sun to brighten the day
or the moon and lamps to give you light.
This Hebrew title “Messiah” is based on a verb rightly translated “to anoint.” Kings and priests are “messiah-ed” during this period. But prophets like Isaiah and those who stand in the tradition of the great Hebrew prophets are also anointed. Living and working in Jerusalem in these days is much different than in earlier times. Wracked by the ages and ruined by overt destruction and covert neglect, the citizens of the holy city face disillusionment and disappointment. The people who come back after exile in Babylon do not return to a gloriously restored city and temple, but to a difficult land and contentious neighbors. The prophet is inspired by the spirit of God to restore hope, to help, and to comfort. As a spiritual guide he is compelled to convince people that God remains with them and that He still desires what is good, right, and true for and within them. Centuries later, in a synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus will pick up the scroll of Isaiah and read these inspiring words. He will say in no uncertain terms that the Scriptures are being fulfilled right then and there in their hearing (Luke 4:16-21). The year of jubilee will have arrived.
The Eternal One will be all the light you ever need.
Your God will provide your glory, brilliance for all time.
Your sun will never set;
your moon will never be eclipsed in shadow,
For you’ll bask in the Eternal’s light and silver splendor forever.
Never again will you suffer the dark night of despair and gloom of mourning.
All the people will be right with God,
and they’ll stay in the land they possess forever.
Eternal One: I will plant them there like a sturdy sapling with My own hands.
I will tend them and take pride in their growing.
Just watch, they will develop robustly;
from so small a beginning, they will multiply and become a mighty nation.
I, the Eternal One, will make it happen soon.
But God’s word is not chained!
Message: May peace and prosperity be yours!
I am pleased to be able to tell you about all the signs and miracles the Most High God has done for me.
How great are His signs;
how powerful are His miracles!
His kingdom will endure forever;
His reign will last from generation to generation.
I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace; things were going well, and I was prospering. Then one night I had a dream that terrified me. As I rested that night on my bed, the images in my mind—the visions in my head—disturbed me greatly, and I could not shake the fear. So I ordered my servants to gather all the wise men of Babylon and bring them before me in order to tell me what this dream might mean. So they came: magicians, enchanters, Chaldean astrologers, and diviners. And though I told them the dream, they could not tell me its meaning. Finally, Daniel came before me. This man had been given the Babylonian name Belteshazzar after the name of my own god, Bel, and it certainly seems the spirit of the holy gods is with him. I told him my dream:
“Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, it is clear to me that the spirit of the holy gods is with you and no mystery is too difficult for you to figure out. Listen to my dream, then tell me what it means. Here is the vision I saw as I lay upon my bed:
“A tree stood in the middle of the land;
it was huge, rising high in the sky.
The tree grew tall and strong,
and it reached right up to the top of the sky.
It was so large that it could be seen
from one end of the earth to the other.
It had beautiful leaves and plenty of fruit.
In fact, it provided sustenance for everyone.
Wild animals came and rested in its cool shade.
Birds flew in and built nests on its sturdy branches.
Every living creature plucked its fruit and was satisfied.
“But that was not all. The visions kept coming as I lay there on my bed, and I saw a heavenly messenger, a holy watcher coming down from heaven. He shouted out orders regarding the tree.
“‘Cut down the tree, and lop off its branches.
Strip off its leaves, and scatter its fruit.
Let all the wild animals beneath it run away
and all the birds on its branches fly away.
But leave its stump intact,
its roots in the ground,
Strapped down with iron and bronze,
surrounded by the tender grass of the field.
Let the dew of heaven fall heavy on it every night and make it wet,
and let him live off the plants of the earth among the wild animals.
Let his human heart be changed, exchanged for the heart of a wild animal
until seven times have come and gone.
The verdict comes down as the watchers decreed;
the sentence is passed by order of the holy ones
So that all who live on the earth
may know that the Most High God is the true sovereign over all kingdoms of the earth;
He grants authority to anyone He wishes
and installs the lowliest of people into positions of power.’
(to Daniel) “This is the dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, dreamed, the vision I saw. None of the other sages and wise men in my kingdom are able to tell me what it means. But I believe you, Belteshazzar, can because the spirit of the holy gods is with you and you have a special gift. Now tell me what it means.”
As the interpretation of the king’s dream became clear, Daniel (who was also called Belteshazzar) became visibly upset for a while. His thoughts troubled him. The king noticed, and he spoke to Daniel.
Nebuchadnezzar: Belteshazzar, don’t let my dream or its meaning alarm you. Tell me what you know.
Belteshazzar: My lord, I wish the dream described those who hate you and its meaning concerned the fate of your enemies! The tree you saw in your vision, the one which grew tall and strong so that its top reached up to the sky and could be seen from one end of the earth to the other, the tree whose leaves were beautiful and fruit plentiful and provided sustenance for everyone, the tree under which the wild animals came to rest in the cool shade and in which the birds built their nests on its sturdy branches— that tree is you, O king! You have become great and strong. Your greatness has grown tall and reached the sky; your authority and power extend to the end of the earth. But that is just one part of your dream. The king saw the messenger, the holy watcher of heaven come down from heaven and declare, “Cut down the tree, and destroy it, but leave its stump intact, its roots in the ground, strapped down with iron and bronze, surrounded by the tender grass of the field; let the dew of heaven fall heavy on it every night and make it wet, and let him live among the wild animals off the plants of the earth, until seven times have come and gone.” Here is the interpretation, O king. It is a decree the Most High God has issued against you, my lord and king. You will be driven away from all that is human and live in the company of wild animals; you will be forced to eat grass like oxen, and night after night the dew of heaven will fall on you and make you soaking wet. Seven times will pass until you learn your lesson and acknowledge that it is the Most High God, and no other, who is the true sovereign over all kingdoms on earth, and He grants authority to anyone He wishes. The watcher’s order to leave the stump and roots of the tree intact means that your kingdom will be restored to you when, and only when, you acknowledge that Heaven alone is sovereign over the earth. So, O king, please accept my advice to you. Make a clean break with your sins and invest in what is right. Bring an end to your wicked deeds and show mercy to those you have beaten down. If you do, perhaps your future will be different and your prosperity will continue.
But King Nebuchadnezzar forgot Daniel’s advice, so everything Daniel had predicted happened. Twelve months later, as the king was strolling across the roof of his royal palace in Babylon, the king uttered foolish words:
Nebuchadnezzar: Isn’t Babylon a great city? I have built this royal residence from the ground up with my own might and ingenuity to honor my own majesty.
The words had scarcely left his lips when another voice thundered from heaven.
Voice: King Nebuchadnezzar, these solemn words are for you. The kingdom has been taken away from you. You will be driven away from all that is human, and you will live in the company of wild animals. You will be forced to eat grass like oxen. Seven times will pass until you learn your lesson and acknowledge that it is the Most High God, and no other, who is the true sovereign over all kingdoms on earth, and He grants authority to anyone He wishes.
Instantly the heavenly decree against Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from all that is human and began to eat grass as oxen do. The dew of heaven fell and drenched his body. In time his hair grew as long as the feathers on an eagle and his nails grew long and curved back on his hand like the claws of a bird.
Message: When these days of exile came to an end, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up toward heaven and came to my senses. I blessed the Most High God and praised and gave glory to the One who lives eternally:
“His reign will endure forever;
His kingdom will last from generation to generation.
Among all the people of the earth,
there are none who compare.
He does as He wishes with the armies of heaven
and those who live on earth.
No one can stop His hand from acting;
no one dares to ask, ‘What have You done?’”
It was in that moment that I came to my senses. Soon my honor and splendor were restored as Daniel predicted, and the former glory of my kingdom returned. Those who had served me before, my advisors and officials, sought me and returned me to the throne of Babylon. In time my kingdom and power grew even greater than it was before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, acknowledge the true King of heaven. I praise, lift up, and glorify Him because all He does is true, all His ways are just, and He is able to cut down those who strut about in their pride.
Grace and Perseverance
…Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.
So, first and foremost, I urge God’s people to pray. They should make their requests, petitions, and thanksgivings on behalf of all humanity. Teach them to pray for kings (or anyone in high places for that matter) so that we can lead quiet, peaceful lives—reverent, godly, and holy—all of which is good and acceptable before the eyes of God our Savior who desires for everyone to be saved and know the truth. Because
There is one God and one Mediator between God and us—
the man Jesus, God’s Anointed,
Who gave His life as a ransom for all
so that we might have freedom.
The testimony was given to me at just the right time. This is exactly what I was appointed to do—tell everyone His story—as a herald, an emissary, a teacher of the outsiders in faith and the truth. (Listen, I promise it’s all true. I’m not lying.)
So here’s what you tell them; here’s what I want to see: Men, pray wherever you are. Reach your holy hands to heaven—without rage or conflict—completely open. Women, the same goes for you: dress properly, modestly, and appropriately. Don’t get carried away in grooming your hair or seek beauty in glittering gold, pearls, or expensive clothes. Instead, as is fitting, let good works decorate your true beauty and show that you are a woman who claims reverence for God. It’s best if a woman learns quietly and orderly in complete submission.
Now, Timothy, it’s not my habit to allow women to teach in a way that wrenches authority from a man. As I said, it’s best if a woman learns quietly and orderly. This is because Adam was formed first by God, then Eve. Plus, it wasn’t Adam who was tricked; it was she—the woman was the one who was fooled and disobeyed God’s command first. Still, God, in His faithfulness, will deliver her through childbearing as long as she remains in faith and love and holiness with self-restraint. (1 Timothy 2)
This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD.”
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, … to save much people alive (Genesis 50:20).
Then they will set up the very sinful manmade god. He will speak well of those who sin against the agreement. But the people who know their God will show their strength and stand against him. (Daniel 11:31b-32)
Then I saw the Lamb break the first of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures call out with a thundering voice.
First Living Creature: Come!
Then I looked, and what a sight! There was a white horse carrying a rider with a bow. He wore a wreath and came riding like a conqueror, intent on complete victory.
The Lamb broke the second seal, and the second living creature called out.
Second Living Creature: Come!
Then another horse, fiery red, sped forth. Its rider was granted the power to steal peace from the earth and received a large sword so that people would slaughter each other.
The Lamb broke the third seal, and the third living creature called out.
Third Living Creature: Come!
Then I looked; and behold, there was a black horse! Its rider held in his hand a balance scale. And I heard a voice emanating from the middle of the four living creatures.
A Voice: A quart of wheat for a whole day’s wage, three quarts of barley for a whole day’s wage, but do not harm the olive oil and the wine!
And when the Lamb broke the fourth seal, the fourth living creature called out.
Fourth Living Creature: Come!
I looked; and behold, there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades accompanied him. Together they were granted authority over one-fourth of the earth to kill with weapons, with famine, with disease, and with wild animals that roamed the earth.
The breaking of the seals releases the four riders and a series of disasters and plagues. Even though what follows appears to be extreme violence unleashed against the earth and its inhabitants, there is a limitation to what follows. Death and Hades have the authority to kill, but their authority extends only to one-fourth of the earth. The slaughtered souls cry out for vengeance, but they will have to wait a little longer until more martyrs are killed for their testimony.
When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the heavenly altar the souls of those murdered for holding fast to the word of God and their testimony. They cried out in a great, singular voice.
Murder Victims: How much longer, O Lord, the holy One, the true One, until You pronounce judgment on the inhabitants of the earth? Until You avenge our blood?
Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest for a little while longer—soon their number would be complete. In a little while, more of their fellow servants, brothers, and sisters would be murdered as they had been.
When the Lamb broke the sixth seal, a great earthquake shook the earth and the sun grew dark and became black (like mourning sackcloth) and the full moon became red like blood. The stars of heaven fell to earth as a fig tree drops its fruit during a winter storm. The sky snapped back as a scroll when it is rolled up. Every mountain was shaken off its foundation, and every island melted into the sea. The rulers of the earth, the important and the great, the generals, the wealthy and the powerful, the slave and the free person, all hid themselves in the caves and among the mountains’ rocks. 16 They pleaded with loud suicidal requests to the rocks and mountains.
People of the Earth: Fall on us. Hide us from the fierce presence of the One who sits on the throne, from the wrath of the Lamb. The great day of their wrath has come. Who can withstand it? (Revelation 6)
Nevertheless the Lord thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee (Deuteronomy 23:5).
And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s (2 Chronicles 20:15).
Our True God, won’t You judge them? We can do nothing to stop this huge army from attacking us; we don’t know what to do, so we are asking for Your help.
All Judah (men and women, children, and infants) were waiting in front of the Eternal’s temple when Jehoshaphat asked this. There, the Spirit of the Eternal descended on a Levitical singer, Jahaziel (son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite son of Asaph).
Jahaziel: Listen to me, all Judah, citizens of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. The Eternal has responded to your pleading: “Do not fear or worry about this army. The battle is not yours to fight; it is the True God’s. Tomorrow, they will travel through the ascent of Ziz. Meet them at the end of valley before the wilderness of Jeruel. There, I will be watching. Stand and watch, but do not fight the battle. There, you will watch the Eternal save you, Judah and Jerusalem.”
Do not fear or worry. Tomorrow, face the army and trust that the Eternal is with you.
Jehoshaphat bowed his head low, and all the assembly fell prostrate before the Eternal and worshiped Him with reverence. They trusted the Lord completely. Meanwhile, the Levite families of the Kohathites and Korahites stood up to praise the Eternal One, True God of Israel, with very loud voices.
Early the next morning they went out to the wilderness of Tekoa. There Jehoshaphat’s message to Judah was not about courage in battle.
Jehoshaphat: Listen to me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Trust in the Eternal One, your True God, not in your own abilities, and you will be supported. Put your trust in His words that you heard through the prophets, and we will succeed.
Having addressed his people, Jehoshaphat asked those who sang to the Eternal to lead the army and praise His magnificence and holiness.
Chorus (singing): Give thanks to the Eternal because His loyal love is forever!
As they sang and praised, the Eternal was ready to cause great confusion in battle for the men from Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir (in Edom) who had come to attack Judah. They were utterly defeated, turning on one another. The Ammonites and Moabites attacked the men from Mount Seir, destroying them completely. Then, the Ammonites and Moabites turned on each other. When all was quiet, Judah looked out of the watchtower in the wilderness and saw a great army of corpses fallen on the battlefield. No one had escaped. Then Jehoshaphat and his people took various goods, clothing, and valuables off the dead bodies and seized the abundant livestock. There was so much that it took three days to recover it all. On the fourth day, they assembled in the valley of Beracah, where they had blessed the Eternal and where He had blessed them with a victory, and named the place, “The Valley of Beracah,” as it is still known today.
(2 Chronicles 20)
Although Jehoshaphat is fully committed to God, his reign is not without trials. He fights many battles against his neighbors and is successful because of his reliance on God. God uses these battles to give him greater power and more territory in the region.
- With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah (2 Chronicles 32:7,8).
- My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever (Psalm 73:26).
And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord–that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”
Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. (Psalm 34:11)
May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works–(Psalm 104:31)
Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. (Psalm 119:98)
He chooses which way He bends it.
Everyone may think his own way of living is right,
but the Eternal examines our hearts.
To do what is right and to seek justice—
these please Him more than sacrifice.
The lamp of the wicked lights his way;
a proud look, an arrogant heart—all sin.
A well-thought-out plan will work to your advantage,
but hasty actions will cost you dearly.
The fortune made by a swindler
is a fast-burning fog and a recipe for death.
Wicked people will be swept up in their own violence
because they refuse to seek justice.
Dishonest people walk along the crooked path they have made,
but the innocent travel the straight course they have laid.
It is better to dwell outside on the corner of your roof
than to live inside your house with a badgering wife.
Wicked people delight in doing bad things;
their neighbors never see even a hint of compassion.
A naive person wises up when he sees a mocker punished.
A wise person becomes even wiser just by being instructed.
The right-living understands how evildoers operate;
he subverts them and ruins their plans.
If you ignore the groans of the poor,
one day your own cries for help will go unanswered.
A gift given in secret soothes anger,
and a present offered privately calms fierce rage.
When justice is done, those who are in the right celebrate,
but those who make trouble are terrified.
People who wander from the way of wise living
will lie down in the company of corpses.
Those who live to party, who pursue pleasure, will end up penniless;
those who enjoy lots of wine and rich food will never have money.
The wicked become a ransom for those who live right,
and the faithless pay the penalty for their treachery against the upright.
You would be better off living in the middle of the desert
than with an angry and argumentative wife.
The wise have a generous supply of fine food and oil in their homes,
but fools are wasteful, consuming every last drop.
Whoever pursues justice and treats others with kindness
discovers true life marked by integrity and respect.
One wise person can rise against a city of mighty men
and cause the citadel they trust to collapse.
Guard your words, mind what you say,
and you will keep yourself out of trouble.
The name “mocker” applies to one who is proud and pompous
because he is defiantly arrogant.
What slackers crave will surely kill them
because they refuse to work.
All day, every day the greedy want more,
while those who live right give generously.
The offerings of wrongdoers are despicable to God;
it’s even worse when they bring them with evil motives.
The testimony of a false witness is eventually impeached,
but the person who truly listens will have the last word.
The wicked wears a defiant face,
but the right-living plans his path.
No one is wise enough or smart enough,
and no plan is good enough to stand up to the Eternal.
No matter how well you arm for battle,
victory is determined by Him.
The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind (Isaiah 17:13).
Eternal One: Pay attention! I am sending My messenger,
and he will clear the road ahead for Me.[a]
The Lord you seek will suddenly arrive at His temple.
And the Messenger of God’s covenant, your soul’s delight,
Watch, because He, too, is coming.
God declares His Anointed One will come, and the way will be prepared. Notice has been given: be ready.
Can anyone live through the day when He arrives?
Will anyone be left standing when He appears?
He is a purifying fire;
He is like lye soap.
Like a refiner of silver,
He will purify the descendants of Levi—
Until they are pure, unalloyed gold and silver.
Then they will draw near to the Eternal One,
Presenting offerings with righteous, clean hands.
Then the Eternal One will unequivocally accept the sweet offering of Judah and Jerusalem as He did in the days of old, as in the former years when the covenant was new.
Eternal One: Then I will approach you for judgment, and I will be a swift witness against the constant sorcerers; the chronic adulterers; the habitual liars; those who continue cheating wages from their hired laborer, a widow, or an orphan; and those who always reject the immigrant, not fearing Me, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies. Because I am the Eternal One, I never change; as a result, you children of Jacob have not been destroyed though your blessing may have been delayed.
From the days when your ancestors served Me, you have turned from and ignored My statutes. Return to Me and I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, will return to you. But you shameless people ask, “How will we return? Will someone steal from God?” Yet you are always stealing from Me! But you self-centered people still ask, “How have we stolen from You?” In the tithes and the offerings you have not given Me as the law requires! You are cursed with a curse, for as an entire nation you are stealing from Me. To rectify this situation, you must bring the entire tithe into the storage house in the temple so that there may be food for Me and for the Levites in My house. Feel free to test Me now in this. See whether or not I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, will open the windows of heaven to you and pour a blessing down upon you until all needs are satisfied. I will rebuke the swarm of locusts devouring your crops, and the devourer will not cause the produce you have grown in the earth to decay or the vines in the field to drop their grapes. And all the nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight. I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, promise you this.
Your words of rebellion against Me have been strong. Yet you ask, “What have we said against You?” You have said, “Serving God is a waste of time,” and, “What benefits have we received by following Him as we mourned on our journey before the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies? Now we believe the bluster of the arrogant and agree they are blessed; we encourage the wicked who also test God and escape.”
Then those who fear the Eternal One consulted each other about God’s charges, each one to his neighbor, and the Eternal One paid attention and heard. A book of remembrance was written before Him for those who honored the Eternal One and valued His name and the good reputation.
Eternal One: And they will be Mine on that day when I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, make My unique treasure—which is the kingdom of Israel. I will have pity on them as a man has pity on his son who serves him.
And you will return and notice the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those serving God and those not serving Him.
And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God (Luke 12:19-21).
And [Jesus] said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:15).
- For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty (1 Corinthians 1:26,27).
- I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6,7).
- There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
And this is why you need to be head-to-toe in the full armor of God: so you can resist during these evil days and be fully prepared to hold your ground. (Ephesians 6:13)
- They took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulchre. But God raised Him from the dead (Acts 13:29,30).
- For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:7,8).