Trust and Obey God
11For Jehovah spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, 12Say ye not, A conspiracy, concerning all whereof this people shall say, A conspiracy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be in dread thereof. 13Jehovah of hosts, him shall ye sanctify; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread (ASV, 1901).
The Lord continues to instruct Isaiah regarding what to do relative to apostates, referred to as “this people” in verse 11. It is important to recognize the intensity in which this message is conveyed. The Hebrew text for “a strong hand” is cehchzkat haiyad, and it connotes the intense strength, force, and urgency with which the Lord is imparting a prophetically inspired command for Isaiah to stay away from the apostates. While God is revealing awesome visions to Isaiah, He is also instructing him not to even be influenced by those rebellious individuals at the time of this prophecy. In Isaiah’s day it was King Ahaz who did not trust God, and instead sought military help from Assyria. He was fearful of a threat of the conspiracy between the Northern Kingdom of Israel and a Syrian military alliance. Isaiah was told to not allow the fear of Ahaz influence him. Fear is contagious, and God wanted Isaiah to continue to trust in Him alone, and not an earthly, rebellious unbeliever.
God says to “neither fear ye their fear, nor be in dread” of“this people” in verse twelve. The Hebrew words for “ye are not to fear” is yārēʾ. He is challenging Isaiah and his followers to focus on fearing God, not man. In the next verse, thirteen, they are to treat Him alone as holy, for He is the One to truly fear. When we treat God as holy we do not ignore His words, dishonor His name, or fail to trust in Him. We give Him due reverence, and in faith, obey what He says. When we allow ourselves to be influenced by the fears of unbelievers, regardless of the way we are treated, we do not honor God, nor do we trust His promises and commands. Believers must follow God and do things differently than others within society. Today we call these people apostates, and the apostle Peter severely condemns them and warns us to avoid them:
II Peter 2:1–22
1But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2And many shall follow their lascivious doings; by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of. 3And in covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose sentence now from of old lingereth not, and their destruction slumbereth not. 4For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5and spared not the ancient world, but preserved Noah with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, having made them an example unto those that should live ungodly; 7and delivered righteous Lot, sore distressed by the lascivious life of the wicked 8(for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their lawless deeds): 9the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment unto the day of judgment; 10but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of defilement, and despise dominion. Daring, self-willed, they tremble not to rail at dignities: 11whereas angels, though greater in might and power, bring not a railing judgment against them before the Lord. 12But these, as creatures without reason, born mere animals to be taken and destroyed, railing in matters whereof they are ignorant, shall in their destroying surely be destroyed, 13suffering wrong as the hire of wrong-doing; men that count it pleasure to revel in the day-time, spots and blemishes, revelling in their deceivings while they feast with you; 14having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; enticing unstedfast souls; having a heart exercised in covetousness; children of cursing; 15forsaking the right way, they went astray, having followed the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the hire of wrong-doing; 16but he was rebuked for his own transgression: a dumb ass spake with man’s voice and stayed the madness of the prophet. 17These are springs without water, and mists driven by a storm; for whom the blackness of darkness hath been reserved. 18For, uttering great swelling words of vanity, they entice in the lusts of the flesh, by lasciviousness, those who are just escaping from them that live in error; 19promising them liberty, while they themselves are bondservants of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he also brought into bondage. 20For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first. 21For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22It has happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog turning to his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire(ASV, 1901)”
Reading through this passage, it is clear Peter displays no love or tolerance toward the apostates. The Bible, and particularly the Lord Jesus, does not display any toleration toward apostasy, and both castigate it very severely as these verses clearly show. Peter also tells us what the “mark of an apostate”is. They teach “destructive heresies”, or denials, because their content entails “denying even the Master that bought them”.In other words, the content of apostate teaching involves denies the Person (“the Master”) and work (“bought them”) of the Lord Jesus.
The Bible tells us to “separate out from them” in no-uncertain terms, and we must separate from them because the Lord has commanded it throughout the New Testament. Separation is not mean or unloving; it is obedience to God. Separation is not an optional part of Christianity, it is a commandment. Here are several of many references stating that:
“Mark them . . . avoid them” (Romans 16:17)
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
“Have no fellowship with” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
“Come out from among” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
“Withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:5)
“Shun” (2 Timothy 2:16)
“Purge oneself from” (2 Timothy 2:21)
“From such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5)
“Reject” (Titus 3:10)
“Receive them not into your house neither bid them Godspeed” (2 John. 10)
We are also to separate even from brethren who are walking in disobedience (2 Thessalonians 3:6). Separation is a wall of protection against spiritual danger. Failure to separate from an error, or erroneous teaching, leaves one open to the influence of error (1 Corinthians 15:33).
The reason a shepherd separates the sheep from wolves is to protect them. Likewise, a faithful and godly Bible teacher will seek to separate his flock from spiritual dangers that are even more destructive than wolves. The Doctor of Souls will do all He can to keep heresies out of the Church. Heresies are to the Church of Jesus Christ what disease is to a medical doctor that cares for human bodies in time and space. Both doctors will do all they can to prevent or stop heresies (diseases) in their respective bodies. Unfortunately, there are more quacks in the spiritual realm than in the physical temporal one. This is because the prize for pure spiritual truth is eternal life. It is the greatest prize anyone on earth can receive. Nothing has greater value. As evidence of this we see many false prophets, corrupt denominations and seminary teachings that result in few finding eternal salvation. Then Satan has accomplished one of his goals, which is the eternal destruction of human souls.
The origin, or reason, to enforce the protecting of our faith is: “He is faithful that hath promised” (Hebrews 10:23). God has made great and precious promises to believers, and He is a faithful God, true to His word. There is no falseness or wavering with Him, and there should be none with us. His faithfulness should excite and encourage us to be faithful, and we must depend more upon His promises to us than upon our promises to Him. So, take the grace He has promised because His grace is sufficient for us.
God is The Rock of Stumbling for The Apostates
Christ praying on a rock in Gesthemene
14And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15And many shall stumble thereon, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken (ASV, 1901).
The holiness of the Lordcan save or destroy. For those who fear the Lordand honor His holiness, the Lordwill be like a place of refuge or a “sanctuary”. A sanctuary is a holy place set apart as a place of safe refuge (1 Kings. 1:50–53; Psalm 27:5). It is a place of blessings, peace, and joy in the fellowship of the Lord(Psalm 65:4). It is the place expected by all who believe in Him to find true comfort (Psalms 27:4; 43:4; 84:2). But, on the contrary for those who are apostate or unfaithful toward the holiness of the Lord,He will become a “stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense” or a “snare,” causing them to stumble, fall, be caught, and brought into exile. Deuteronomy 6:15 tells us God is “a jealous God” (Hebrew el qannaʾ), and He will not be replaced by mere man. In Isaiah’s day the “stone of stumbling” was the impending exile of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the yet future Babylonian exile of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. They already had their own history and the Mosaic Law that had shown them to rest on God’s promises to them. The apostle Paul characterizes this as a blessing on “that spiritual Rock”, who is Jesus:
1 Corinthians 10:1-4
1Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ (KJV).
Seal the Law Up Against the Apostates
16Bind thou up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. 17And I will wait for Jehovah, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from Jehovah of hosts, who dwelleth in mount Zion.
In verse 16 a command is given to Isaiah by God that was to be inscribed in the hearts of Isaiah’s disciples, who were other believers. He is commanded to “bind”, or tie up the roll or scroll, and to “seal” it which essentially closes it, and it was to be given for safe keeping to his disciples, or others to securely preserve it. After Isaiah had completed the sealing of the prophecy, he said in verse 17, “I will wait for Jehovah, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.” He declares that he will obey God and wait on Him to see what He will do according to His prophecies and promises.The phrase “that hideth his face from the house of Jacob”is a reference to how God will distance Himself from the apostates and unrepentant by denying them any spiritual awareness of who He is. The light of God’s face is not hidden from believers and it brings them the spiritual realization of Him, like the sun shines on the material world. All life, health, joy, and happiness, come from God’s light, and from Him not hiding His face.
On account of the people’s sins, that light was now to be withdrawn for a time, but Isaiah would wait for its reappearance. In fact, the names of Isaiah’s sons were given to him by God for prophetic signs. Shear-Jashub means “A remnant shall return” and also held out two hopes. The first hope was that a remnant of Israel would return to God and become His true servants, and the second hope was that a remnant would return from the captivity that had been prophesied (Isaiah 5:13). Another son’s name was Maher-shalal-hashbaz, and means “Plunder speeds, spoil hastens”. His name was a sign of a different kind than his brother’s name. Primarily this name referred to the spoiling of Damascus and Samaria, and indicated a time of general disturbance, plunder, and ravage which was coming on the both the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdomdue to apostasy and sin.
Characteristics of the Apostates
19And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living should they seek unto the dead? 20To the law and to the testimony! if they speak not according to this word, surely there is no morning for them. 21And they shall pass through it, sore distressed and hungry; and it shall come to pass that, when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse by their king and by their God, and turn their faces upward: 22and they shall look unto the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and into thick darkness they shall be driven away (ASV, 1901).
God continues with instruction to Isaiah regarding avoiding the apostates. He begins to tell him how they will approach him in order to draw him into their wicked, occultic practices. In a time of panic and severe distress due to the wrath of God, unsaved people turn to mediums and wizards for answers to questions related to their circumstances. The practice of consulting mediums and wizards was always a temptation for the people in Israel, even though it was prohibited by the law (Deuteronomy18:11; Leviticus 19:31; 20:6–7). It is clear that God is very much opposed to all forms of spiritism, such as was practiced by Saul at Endor (I Samuel 28:3–11; Isaiah 8:20).
But God asks them: “should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living should they seek unto the dead?He tells them He knows they are pursuing idols, necromancers, and communication with the dead. God is where you should place your trust and communication.Him is who we should seek, not communication “to the dead”. The necromancers pretended to have intercourse with the spirits of the dead. The Lord strongly exposes the absurdity of this. What could “the dead”know of this? How could they declare the future events respecting the living? Where was this authorized? God is a living God, not a dead idol, therefore men should seek God who is alive, and not pretend to hold seances with the dead. The Law of God containedeverything the nation needed to know about their future. A person’s failure to heed God’s Word means he has no spiritual light (John 3:19–20). Spiritists and mediums, and those who consult them, will eventually be judged by God (Isaiah 8:21–22). In their distress they will look up to God and curse Him, and then look to the earth where they will face distress and then be thrust into … darkness (II Peter 2:17). Ironically those who seek to consult “the dead” will be forced to join them.
Today’s visible church has many manifestations of these forbidden practices. The emergence of “experience”, usually a personal experience, as an equally valid communication with God is actually a connection to the occult. Certain denominations have made these “experiences” a priority over the Scriptures, and this is how they do it. If the Bible contradicts a particular practice which man has characterized as a “new move of the Spirit”, they diminish the text of Scripture by actually saying it can be contradicted by this “new experience”. This appears to be a more “spiritual” way of denying the truth of God, and is far more deceptive. In turn, this has led to strange and diverse doctrines,causing many to be truly tossed aboutresulting in total spiritual instability (James 1:6–7). The Bible must be the final and only authority on all matters of what we believe and what we practice. Most people will defend a particular practice, not on the basis of Scripture, but on their own experience. The most common expression from them is that it makes them feel happy and joyful. Satan would not be a very good deceiver if he made one feel badly. He and his demons of the occult can give people joyful and happy experiences. People will choose this happy, feel good experience rather than hear what they need to confront their sin and turn from it to God.
In verse 19 God gave Isaiah a warning not to go after counterfeit spirits and teachers “that chirp and that mutter”. In other words, Isaiah is warning people not to pursue supernatural things that cause them to make the strange sounds of chirping and muttering, for while these experiences might come from the supernatural, not all that comes out of the supernatural is of God. Verse 19 clearly shows these are “familiar(occultic) spirits”. The closing phrase of verse twenty should not be missed: “if they speak not according to this word, surely there is no morning for them.” Isaiah makes it quite clear. Regardless of the supernatural experiences the others may have, if it does not align with the written Word of God that was already present in Isaiah’s day, then it is not from God. If pursued, it will result in a Godless eternity. Here are contemporary examples of these forbidden practices:
- Rome’s prayers to Mary, a dead person. This is nothing short of necromancy.
- Rome’s prayers to the saints. They claim that these prayers to the dead saints will intercede on our behalf. This is also necromancy.
- Sanctioning “new” fruits of the Spirit, such as Rodney Howard Brown and the Toronto Blessing do. There people engage in a practice called “holy laughter” where they laugh uncontrollably and writhe around on the floor, supposedly being led by the Holy Spirit. There is no example of this fruit of the Spirit in the Scripture.
- Repudiation of separation from apostates.
- Replacing separation from apostates with dialogue to come to an “agreement” through negotiate.
- Repudiation of the more negative aspects, such as sin and Hell, of biblical Christianity, and emphasizing instead a love for positivism, a judge-not philosophy, and a dislike of doctrinal controversy.
- Exalting love and unity above doctrine.
- Adopting a pragmatic approach to the ministry by utilizing marketing techniques and business practices.
- Exhibiting an attitude of anti-fundamentalism.
- Avoidance of doctrine as too “divisive”.
- Dividing biblical truth into categories of “important” and “not important”.
- Exalting social-political activity to the same level as the Great Commission.
- Promoting a mood of softness, which is a desire for a less strict Christianity.
- Dependence on secular psychology instead of Scripture for guidance.
- Appealingto the carnal nature of man through entertainment instead of instruction.
- Avoiding clear and accurate teaching of the Word of God, and instead present teaching characterized by an over emphasis on application.
Paul warned us that the end times would be characterized with a departure from sound doctrine and a departure from the truth. An over emphasis on application and departure from doctrine is a direct path to the Humanist’s world betterment philosophy, and away from God:
II Timothy 4:3-4
3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (KJV).
It is extremely important we understand correct teaching of doctrines in the Bible. Here are some verses from the New testament about doctrine, also called teaching:
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. (Romans 6:17, KJV)
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Romans 16:17, KJV)
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (Ephesians 4:14, KJV)
3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. (1 Timothy 1:3-4, KJV)
16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (1 Timothy 4:16, KJV)
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, KJV)
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2, KJV)
9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:9, KJV)
24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. 26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. 27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (1 John 2:24-27, KJV)
Daniel E. Woodhead