2; Gods demand for a holy life, verses 10-19.
When sin was a fact, people were separated from God. Before sin, Adam and Eve were pure and holy and they lived in intimate communion with God. It is God, and only He, who can make something holy by His presence. After the sin, they were no longer holy, because they had removed themselves from God through their sin. God could well have ended the whole project with man, but then Satan would have won a great victory. Instead, God started the process we call the plan of salvation which can bring man back to God and give them as intimate a communion with the Creator as Adam and Eve had in the first time.
We all know what God wants from His people, and He has repeated this several times throughout the Bible. If we go to 2 Kings 17:13, we find the following text which tells us what the Lord has encouraged his people to do: Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, [and by] all the seers, saying, turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments [and] my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. There should be no doubt about what God wants according to this verse. Through all the prophets in Old Testament times, the message has been the same, live a holy life.
In this verse, God says that we must keep His commandments and His statutes. There are many who say that it is impossible for humans to keep God’s commandments. Many claim also that Jesus abolished the commandments when He died on the cross. The question is thus twofold. Are the commandments still valid and is it possible for us humans to keep the commandments? Keeping God’s commandments is something that is repeated in different ways throughout the Bible both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. God’s commandments are therefore valid for us in our time. They have eternal validity, (see Leviticus 18:5; 2 Kings 17:13; 1 John 2:3; Revelation 12:17; Revelation 14:12). But, can we in any way keep God’s ten commandments? Despite the fact that many, even in the Adventist Church, claim that it is impossible to keep God’s commandments, it is possible. God will not ask us to do something that is impossible. That is not the way God is.
Now I must add that the vast majority of people who have lived and are living today have broken one or more of God’s commandments, and even several times. But it is the way we live our lives that is decisive. We must humble ourselves before God, ask for forgiveness for our sins, repent what we have done wrong and, with God’s help, avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.
When we try to keep the commandments, it is the same as practicing faithfulness to God. Then we live so close to God we can come through daily prayers and Bible studies, that we will eventually develop a character that becomes more and more like Christs’ character. Then we keep God’s commandments. This is sanctification. Those who say that it is impossible to keep the commandments portray God as a tyrant and despot who asks us to do something we cannot do, and then punishes us afterwards because we failed to keep the commandments.
If we go to New Testament times, we see Paul saying the following in 1 Corinthians 7:19: Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Even so, God’s people in ancient times were unable to keep God’s commandments.
Another question is whether God’s people in the end times are any better than God’s people were in the old days. Are we living a holier life than those who went before us? But what does it really mean to live a holy life? This means that we must live so close to God that He lives our lives on our behalf.
As I have already said, it is only God, and God alone, who by his presence can make something holy, be it people or a day of the week. Sanctification is a lifelong exercise where we try day after day to become more like Jesus in the way we live, until God lives fully and completely in our lives. If we are persistent, we can experience keeping all God’s commandments without breaking them, and then we will be like Enoch. About Enoch, Ellen G. White writes this in Gospel Workers (1915 ed.):
In the midst of a life of active labour, Enoch steadfastly maintained his communion with God. The greater and more pressing his labours, the more constant and earnest were his prayers. He continued to exclude himself at certain periods from all society. After remaining for a time among the people, labouring to benefit them by instruction and example, he would withdraw, to spend a season in solitude, hungering and thirsting for that divine knowledge which God alone can impart, (52.1).
Communing thus with God, Enoch came more and more to reflect the divine image. His face was radiant with a holy light, even the light that shineth in the face of Jesus. As he came forth from these divine communing, even the ungodly beheld with awe the impress of heaven upon his countenance, (52.2).
His faith waxed stronger, his love became more ardent, with the lapse of centuries. To him prayer was as the breath of the soul. He lived in the atmosphere of heaven, (52.3). Enoch was sanctified before God retrieved him and took him up alive to heaven.
Here in Isaiah chapter 1, God tells us what He does not want. As we see from the following verses, God’s people have continued to worship Him, and God says He is tired of the sacrifices the people bring. Even the incense they offer is an abomination to Him. Why does God react this way? We will try to find that out now.
What God does not want.
Verse 10: Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
What was the case with Sodom, Gomorrah and the sister cities was that they displayed an immorality not seen since the days of Noah, and according to the Bible there was only one righteous man there, Lot. In this passage, God compares his people, those who call themselves Christians after the cross, with the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them.
What happened in Sodom and Gomorrah is a type of a future event. In the end times, conditions on earth will be as they were in Sodom and Gomorrah and as they were in the days of Noah. All kind of abominations will be permitted, which is already well on its way to being fulfilled, and the fear of God will be a thing of the past among most people.
When Christ returns to deliver His people, which is the antitype of what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah, God’s faithful remnant, in the same way as Lot and his family, will be taken out of the ‘Sodom’ of our days, in other words, be caught up in clouds to meet the Lord there (1 Thessalonians 4:17), before all the wicked are annihilated.
Verse 11: To what purpose [is] the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats.
Verse 12: When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
Verse 13: Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; [it is] iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
Verse 14: Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hated: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear [them].
Verse 15: And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
There are many who will interpret this text as a contradiction. Just look at the first sentence of verse 11: To what purpose [is] the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? says the Lord, and then we compare this text with what is written in the Book of Leviticus about all the different types of sacrifices God requires of people. Here we have the sacrifice of burnt offerings (chapter 1), the sacrifice of meat offering (chapter 2), the sacrifice of peace offering (chapter 3), the sacrifice of sin offering (chapter 4). The first lesson God gave mankind about the plan of salvation was when God himself slaughtered a lamb and made clothes for Adam and Eve.
But is it really a contradiction? God has wanted people to come to Him with their sin offerings and thank offerings since the time of Adam. This has not changed. When God says that He is not pleased with the sacrifices of His people or the blood of the sacrificial animals, it is connected with the way the sacrifices are presented.
In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:23-24, we find an explanation of what is meant by verses 11-15 in Isaiah 1, when Jesus says: Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
It does not help to present all the world’s offerings if we have not asked God and our neighbour for forgiveness for the sins we have committed. Then our sacrifices will be counted as useless. If we have something unsettled with someone, this must be rectified first, and then our offerings will please God.
But what is in the word vain? When God says that our sacrifices are in vain, it means that they are wasted, useless, or of no use.
This can be put into a further context. It is not only sacrifices that are covered by these verses, also the way we preach the gospel comes under these five verses. It is perhaps more relevant in the end times than it was before, because now we have a church, both the fallen Catholic and the fallen Protestant churches that preach human commandments. Jesus said about this in Mark 7:7: Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men, (this is a direct reference to Isaiah 29,13).
It is appropriate to add that in our day it is not necessary to offer animals as sin offerings. In our time, it is our prayers that are our sacrifices. In Revelation 8,3-4 this is explained by John in this way: And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.. On the basis of these two verses, it should be beyond any doubt what our sacrifices are in the end times.
Here in Isaiah 1:11-15, the prophet addresses the fallen churches and asks them to respect God’s law. They violate God’s law in every imaginable and unimaginable way, and we have a couple of words and expressions in our day that describe the conditions in the cities on the Jordan Plain, and these are: sodomy and sodomite.
Sodomy is used for sexuality between persons of the same sex, for example male or female homosexuality or a man’s or a woman’s sexual intercourse with young boys or girls, and paraphilia*. In other words, sodomy describes deviant sexual orientations of all shades.
* Paraphilias are sexual preferences that are not based on attraction to people. Paraphilias are unusual routes to sexual ignition and erotic pleasure. This may include fantasies and sexual acts linked to objects, which are not otherwise associated with sexual activities or situations.
Sodomite describes people who perform sodomy. If we look at what almost all churches and congregations around the world have done in the last few years, we see that they have created their own liturgy for same-sex marriage, despite what the Bible teaches about this.
God calls them the rulers of Sodom and the people of Gomorrah and says that if they present their sacrifices in their churches – in the form of services, prayers, and the like – He will not accept this because they are sacrifices made with hands full of blood. This is an abomination to the Lord, and nothing that is done in the fallen churches is acceptable to God. God himself is very clear on which criteria are the basis for His acceptance. Jesus talks about this in Luke 11:14-23, a section called «A house at odds with itself will not stand«, where He says in verse 23: He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.
There are only two ways to go, either we go wholeheartedly the way God wants us to go, or we go the way we ourselves want to go. If we go the way God wants us to go, our house will stand, because it is built on a rock, and God himself protects it. If we go the way we ourselves want to go, our house will fall as soon as there is a bit of debris because we have built the house upon the sand.
This is basically one of the biggest deceptions of our time. Many people are trained to believe what the priest or pastor says. There are probably some who do not have a Bible, and most of those who have a Bible may not read it. Here Satan has succeeded in seducing millions of people who are sincere in their search for peace with God, but they do not find it. It says in Isaiah 1:15 that God will not hear your prayers, which is the same as not accepting your sacrifices. This is very sad, but there is still hope for a lost human race.
Call to repentance and remorse.
Verse 16: Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Verse 17: Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Verse 18: Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Verse 19: If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
Here God tells what is needed to restore the broken relationship. This is a process in two acts that involves each one of us, and that shows the relationship God wants to have with each and every person on this earth.
1) First we, the sinful man, must cleanse ourselves from our impurities, then we must ask for forgiveness from the sin we have committed and finally, stop doing the evil deeds that we do. This is without a doubt the most difficult part of the process. It is then that God and we will be right with each other, and our sins will be forgiven. In Isaiah 43,25 God says: I, [even] I, [am] he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake and will not remember thy sins. What a great promise! God will not remember our sins if we seek Him with all our hearts and repent.
2) Then we must learn to do good. This will usually be a result of the repentance that took place when we cleansed ourselves, confessed our sins and stopped breaking God’s law on purpose. Then we will keep God’s commandments instead of breaking them, and then the fruit of our repentance will teach us to love – first God and then our neighbour. When we have done this, then God promises us that one day we will reap the fruits of our repentance. In Isaiah 58:14 the prophet says this: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it].
Verse 18 is a gospel in itself. Isaiah is the book of the Old Testament most quoted or referred to in the New Testament. Isaiah is quoted about 600 times in the New Testament, among these are many well-known messianic prophecies. That is why the book of Isaiah is called the fifth gospel, or the gospel of the Old Testament. As we have seen above, God punishes His people because they are unfaithful to Him, and the way He refers to them is anything but pleasant reading. But in the middle of it all, God stretches out his hand to help those who have gone astray. If we want to do what the Lord says in verse 17, then it is the same as repenting of the evil we have done, turning to the Lord, and asking for forgiveness for our sins.
If we do this, God will forgive us and erase all the sins we have committed, no matter what we have been guilty of, He will remove them and He says He will not remember them.
Such wonderful promises God gives us. God says He will not remember our sin. It is not that God can forget, but God will not remember our sins if we turn to Him, ask for forgiveness, and repent of our sins. Even if we have lived a sinful life but repented of our sins, we will remain before God as if we had never sinned. Ezekiel says it this way: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God, (Ezekiel 37,23).
Even if God’s people do everything wrong, and even if they break God’s law and commandments, even if they go their own way, God calls them out of love. He does not want anyone to perish, but He does not force anyone. He leaves it up to the individual person to decide where they will spend eternity. God wants our love, but only if we understand that God loved us while we were still sinners – not of fear of being lost – but because we have seen God’s love and want to respond to it. This urgent call in Isaiah 1,16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; has sounded throughout history from Adam and Eve’s fall into sin in the Garden of Eden, and «Adam … … where art thou?» (Genesis 3:9) will sound until Christ has finished the investigative judgment in the heavenly temple.
3; Redemption or destruction, verses 20-31.
As mentioned, God wants us to repent, turn to Him and confess our sins. God is no tyrant who rejects us if we stumble and fall. The best picture drawn of God the Father is the picture Jesus drew when he told the parable of the prodigal son which we find in Luke 15:11-32. This son asked to have his share of his father’s inheritance while his father was alive. In Jesus’ time, this was understood as the son wanted to see his father dead. That is probably how most of us view God today as well. Most people, even most Christians, also wish God were dead.
When this son came to his senses and discovered that he had lost all the good things he had when he lived at his father’s house, he repented, and he began to go home. The father, who was sick with longing for his son, was out scouting for him every single day, late and early. One day he sees a figure he recognizes. What the father is doing now is exceptional. It was beneath the dignity of an elderly man to run he should not even walk fast. But, when the father saw that his son was returning, he threw all inhibitions overboard and ran to meet his son, threw himself around his neck and welcomed him home. Such is our God. The Ruler of the universe stands outside and scouts for anyone who has gone astray. When He sees them coming home to Him, He runs to meet them, forgives them their evil deeds, dresses them in the finest clothes and does everything He can to show His infinite and boundless love. There is no love stronger than the love God has for you and for me.
The punishment is meted out.
Verse 20: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it].
In Romans 6,23 Paul says that the wages of sin is death … … and in Ezekiel 18,20 the prophet says: The soul that sins shall die … … This is far from news to people. Already at creation, God told Adam and Eve that they would die if they broke His commandments, Genesis 2,16-17: The Lord God commanded Adam and said: From every tree in the garden you may freely eat, but from the tree of knowledge of good and bad you shall not eat. For in the day you eat of it you shall surely die. Humans were created to live eternally with their Creator, but the condition was that they kept God’s commandments. We see around us that Adam and Eve broke God’s commandments. Everywhere there is death and misery as a result of sin entering the world.
One day God will make a final and final settlement with sin and the problem of sin, but God in his wisdom has allowed the son of perdition, Satan, to reveal himself to all the sinless beings living in the entire universe and show his true face.
The Bible tells of a judgment, a judgment that is held in the same form as in earthly courtrooms. The defence attorney investigates the circumstances before a verdict is handed down and finally the verdict is implemented, either you are acquitted, or you are found guilty. In Daniel’s book, it is told about the investigation that Christ does before the actual trial. We call this the investigative judgement.
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment [was] white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne [was like] the fiery flame, [and] his wheels [as] burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened, (Daniel 9:9-10).
What we see here is God the Father, the Ancient of Days, taking his place on his throne. We are thus in heaven, which we also see from everyone who witnesses this investigative judgement. It continues in Daniel 7:13 with this: I saw in the night visions, and, behold, [one] like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. Here we see the Son of Man, who is Jesus Christ, approaching God the Father.
In Revelation 20,12 John says: And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
The investigative judgment is complete, and the sentence has been meted out. Jesus will return to earth, and everyone will be punished according to their deeds. King David says in Psalm 28:4: Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert. About 11 centuries later, John writes in Revelation 20:12-13 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. In Isaiah 3:11, God warns through the prophet: Woe unto the wicked! [it shall be] ill [with him]: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.
God’s people are led to repentance after the fall.
Verse 21: How is the faithful city become a harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
Verse 22: Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:
As we see from the text, God once had a people, here called the faithful city, who were faithful to their God, and who served Him as God should be served. They did right by themselves in all respects, they rejected no one who needed help, but fulfilled God’s commandments in every way by showing love to all people they met. One day something happened, and the faithful city, God’s people, or congregation, had been seduced and corrupted by Satan’s lies. The congregation that once was faithful to the Creator, and that showed righteousness and that was filled with love, had become a harlot. As we know, a woman is an image of the church, but when this woman is portrayed as a harlot it shows that she – the church – is unfaithful to her God.
In the message to the congregation in Ephesus, God says: Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent, (Revelation 2,5). In these two verses, contrasts are set up, how it once was, and how it has become. The faithful city is an image of the pure church, but now she has become a harlot. A harlot is a prostitute, it is a woman who is unfaithful to her husband, and here she is an image of how the faithful city, which symbolizes the congregation, has been unfaithful to God.
God’s church used to be a centre for worshiping God, but now it has become a centre for adultery against God. We see that in the way verse 22 explains the change that has happened to the faithful city. Everything that was pure and valuable has become dross and as wine mixed with water.
The princes of the earth are unfaithful.
Verse 23: Thy princes [are] rebellious, and companions of thieves: everyone loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
As this passage is about the faithful city, or God’s congregation, it is unlikely that the expression ‘princes’ in verse 23 is the political, secular leaders of the city or country. As you know, most Hebrew and Greek words can be translated with different words. The first thing we need to do is look at what the Hebrew word H8269 sar which has been translated princes means: H8269 sar; from H8323 sarees; a leader (of any rank or class), captain (who ruled), chief (captain), general, governor, warden, lord, ([-task-]) master, prince (-ipal), ruler, steward. H8269 points to H8323, and H8323 sarar, is a primitive root; to have (transitively exercise; reflexively obtain) dominion, make oneself a prince, (bear) rule.
It would have been easier to understand the text if H8269 had been translated with church leaders, elders, those who rule in God’s church, but as always there is an agenda behind the various translations. I call this the battle over the Bible. This is a battle to change the Bible until it no longer points the way to Jesus Christ as our Creator and God, Savior, and Redeemer.
Verse 23 tells us that even the leaders of the church are among the rebels, those who rebel against God and break His commandments. Jesus comes with a crushing judgment on ‘the princes of the faithful city’ in Matthew 23,1-7 where He deals with the Pharisees and the scribes, in other words the spiritual leaders of God’s people: Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne and lay [them] on men’s shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
It is not without reason that Jesus makes this criticism, and it applies to the leaders of our day as much as the religious leaders of Jesus’ time. In this way the princes of the faithful city have become murderers, (see verse 21).
We see that Jesus recognizes the authority of the scribes and Pharisees by saying that the people should do what they say, but at the same time He rejects their way of exercising their faith by saying that the people should not do what the leaders do. We, the faithful city, in the end times, we must be careful not to fall into the same trap as the church leaders in Jesus’ time. It would probably be very easy to instruct others how to live their lives and tell them what they can do and not least what they cannot do. Then we can quickly lead our siblings away from God instead of getting them to cling more firmly to God. Then we will be left «with their blood on our hands».
Judgment on the wicked.
Verse 24: Because of this, thus says THE LORD OF LORDS of Armies, The Mighty One of Israel: ‘Woe! I am repaid by my haters, and I am avenged of my enemies! (Aramaic Bible in Plain English.)
Verse 25: And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:
We all have a choice to make. Either we choose God and life, or we choose Satan and perdition. Even so, the people who have chosen God’s enemy are not lost – not yet – because God in his love for humanity has built a bridge over the abyss that people created between themselves and God when they broke God’s commandments and sinned against Him. This bridge is the cross of Jesus. When we sin, we choose Satan’s way, but God has given us hope, and this is the bridge Jesus provided when He died on the cross. Those who live without God still have the opportunity to return to God the Creator. But it is urgent, because we do not know how long the door of mercy will be open. When this door closes, the bridge over the abyss is gone, and those people who have not chosen God have condemned themselves to perdition.
We can look a little at the concept of «the door of mercy«. This is a two-sided concept.
1) All people, regardless of where they live, who they are and what they have done, have a certain time to be able to repent and turn to God and be saved. In Exodus 12:40, it is told that Abraham’s descendants will live as strangers in the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan for 430 years, but they will be allowed to return to Canaan after the 430 years have passed. And the sojourning of the children of Israel, while they sojourned in the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan, was four hundred and thirty years, (Brenton Septuagint Translation).
From the day this was said to Abraham and until Israel took Canaan was the time of mercy for the Amorites and the other peoples who lived in Canaan. This was the time the door of mercy was open to them, but when Israel left Egypt and was on its way to Canaan, the door of mercy was closed. In this way, the door of mercy for the entire world’s population will be closed once before long. Then it’s too late to ask for forgiveness. We can call this the universal grace door.
2) All people have the opportunity to turn to God as long as they live. If they do not, the opportunity to repent will disappear on the day they die. This is the individual grace door. We find confirmation of the principle of the door of mercy in Revelation 22:11: 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.
Those who are pronounced a woe in verse 24 are those who, when the door of mercy has closed, are still Satan’s prisoners. These are the apostates of God’s people. But before the door of mercy is closed, God will offer salvation in Jesus Christ, and this is what happens in verse 25 when God turns his hand towards the apostate. Then these will have one last opportunity to be cleaned so that all the slag is cleaned, and the lead is separated. This is a picture of forgiveness and purification.
In Revelation 22:12 Jesus says the following: And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. This verse tells us that there must have been an investigation in heaven before Jesus returns. We call this the investigative judgement. In our days, the investigative judgment is held in the heavenly temple, and before long, Jesus Christ will return to earth to implement the judgment that emerges during the investigative judgment.
This judgment comes to all people. But note that it first comes to God’s house then the wicked. Just look at what Peter writes in his first letter chapter 4 verse 17: For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?
A cry of woe, which we find in verse 24, heralds judgment and destruction, and in Revelation we find the cry of woe spoken in seven different verses, and they are directed at the world in general and to one power factor in particular. In Revelation 8:13 it says: «Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth … …«. This is a warning about the coming acts of judgment that will fall upon all who live on earth in the form of plagues.
In Revelation 8:13; 9:12; 11:14 and 12:12, the woes are directed against those who live on earth, that is to say the whole of humanity, while in Revelation 18:10; 18:16 and 18:19 it is the special factor of power that the cries of woe are aimed at: Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: «`Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come! (verse 10 New International Version 1984) … and cry out: «`Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones, and pearls! (verse 16 New International Version 1984) … and … and with weeping and mourning cry out: «`Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin! (verse 19 New International Version 1984).
This power factor is called Babylon, the mighty city, and this city is clothed in fine linen, purple and scarlet and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls. Well, now a city cannot dress in this way, but verses 10 and 16 refer to verse 19 where the city is referred to as «her«. Her is therefore a woman, and then this concerns a church, the Catholic Church (see verse 24). Anyone who has been inside any of the great Catholic cathedrals has been overwhelmed by that beauty, the rich decorations embellished with gold, silver, and precious stones. And we have all seen the Catholic Church’s bishops, cardinals and popes dressed in purple and scarlet. It is thought-provoking that John could describe this more than 400 years before this church was established as we know it today.
Gods people will be redeemed.
Verse 26: 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.
Verse 27: Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.
It says that the judgment will begin with God’s house, (see 1 Peter 4,17). The righteous will be acquitted by God in this judgment because they have been clothed with the righteousness of Jesus. Then again God’s people will be called The city of the righteous and the faithful city. And as verse 27 alludes, many will respond positively to the last warning message in Revelation 18:4: «Come out of her, my people«. This is those who repent, and who seek the church which has always been God’s faithful remnant, where we find those who have called «the other of God’s people» out of Babylon where they had their abode.
It is said in Daniel 11:41 (Basic English 1964) that «he«, who is the papacy, «will come into the beautiful land, and tens of thousands will be overcome«, which means that the papacy will try to infiltrate God’s pure end-time church. In Daniel 11:45 it says that «he» (still the papacy) will «shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain» which also means infiltration and false teaching.
But no matter what the papacy will try, it will not succeed for him because God is with his people. In Daniel 11:45 it says that «none shall help him«.
In Zechariah 8:3 God says to his people: «… I am returned unto Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain«, and in Malachi 3:12 God says, «All nations shall call you blessed*, for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts«. <* shall call your blessed.>
Destruction and judgement.
Verse 28: And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners [shall be] together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
Verse 29: For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.
Verse 30: For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.
«Both transgressors and sinners, and they that forsake the LORD», sounds a bit like butter on pork, but as always there is a special reason why the prophet uses his words the way he does. A transgressor is a sinner, and a sinner is a transgressor in a certain sense, but it may lie in the fact that a transgressor does this with full intent, while a sinner may not be aware of what he is doing. Both the transgressor and the sinner forsake the Lord as long as they do not ask for forgiveness for their actions, which must be done before the door of mercy, both personal and universal, is closed forever and ever.
The judgement is eternal.
Verse 31: 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].
The Bible is clear that destruction awaits the wicked. Perdition is the same as death. Death is the same as the absence of life, and eternal perdition is eternal death and the eternal absence of life. No matter who you are and what you have done, no matter how high a position you have held, you will fall short in the judgment. In Isaiah God says to the wicked:
For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I [am], and none else beside me. Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, [which] thou shalt not know. Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from [these things] that shall come upon thee. Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: [there shall] not [be] a coal to warm at, [nor] fire to sit before it, (Isaiah 47:10-14).
Not even those who were your help and comfort and perhaps your strength when you defiantly turned away from your God and Creator, can help you, because they are in the same situation as you. They shall be destroyed in the second death, which is eternal death.
But there is a way out of this situation. In Jeremiah 4:4 the Lord says: «Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem …». That is, turn to the Lord and atone for the evil deeds you have done.
Ask your Savior to create a new heart in you, a heart that is steadfast so that you can love God and your neighbour. Then you will avoid the penalty that has been given. Isaiah continues with this: «… lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench [it], because of the evil of your doings«.
Where do you want to spend eternity? Do you want to enter into life, which is the eternal life we get by the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection, or do you want to enter into death, which is eternal death. You have to make a choice, and the sooner you choose God’s way, the better it is for you.
Yesterday is gone, tomorrow no one knows, so today is YOUR day. Turn to Jesus, bow your knees to the King of the universe, ask for forgiveness so you can share the promises and hope that lie in the second coming of Christ. Then you will join Him in heaven where He has a mansion for you – yes, just for you. It’s your choice, and yours alone.
Choose today because tomorrow may be too late. Jesus says in Matthew 24:36 «But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only«.
It is urgent if you want to enter into life, because four times in the Book of Revelation, Jesus says, «Behold, I come quickly«.
Dare you wait?
What are you waiting for?
It is your choice.