Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

A Yorkshireman's take on life, death, and eternity

Month: September, 2019

Government

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/isa.9.6.ESV

These words, so often quoted at Christmas time, don’t simply speak of a helpless baby in Bethlehem. They refer to who that Son has grown to be, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Isaiah looked forward to the day the government would be upon His shoulder.

Isaiah looked to the fulfilment of this verse. Many Christians still do. But I believe it is already being fulfilled. Do we not believe that God is sovereign over the world today? Or does He only assert His sovereignty when He returns?

I believe that though the nations rage and the peoples conspire against God, that He’s still on the throne, and that the government is upon His shoulder. Nothing in this world happens without His say so. He’s a wonderful counsellor to those who put their trust in Him.

He’s the mighty God, whether people acknowledge Him or not. He’s the Everlasting Father of all who trust in Him to adopt them into His family. He is the Prince of Peace, and we do look forward to a time when the prince of this world is cast out once and for all and Christ truly is established, and recognised, as the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

“Everlasting Father, how we praise You for adopting us into Your family. Please establish Your government in our hearts and in this world, for the honour of Your name, amen”

Brethren, pray for us!

Brethren, pray for us.
I Thessalonians 5:25 NKJV
https://bible.com/bible/114/1th.5.25.nkjv

Prayers appreciated brethren!

Is this quote true?

I thought up a quote which sounds impressive, but I’m not sure whether it’s true-

“You’re only as loving as much as you love the person you love least”

The idea is that if I claim to love my sister but hate my brother, I make myself out to be a hypocritical fraud.

Sounds a bit harsh, but I suspect there’s an element of truth to it.

I know there’s some people who just clash, and some people are unloveable. But Jesus commands us to even love our enemies.

He loved us while we were still sinners, in rebellion against Him.

If we claim to love God and hate our brother I seem to remember John saying in his first letter, we prove ourselves to be liars, and the truth isn’t in us.

Embers

And say to him, ‘Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah.

Isaiah 7:4 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/isa.7.4.ESV

King Ahaz of Judah was frightened, because the kings of Syria and Israel had allied against him, and were plotting to invade. This verse is God’s reply through the prophet Isaiah. When we face opposition, we need to be careful to remember that God is still on the throne.

God is sovereign. If we belong to Him, that truth should quiet our hearts. There’s no need to run round like headless chickens! The only legitimate fear is that of God who can cast soul and body into hell.

Do you ever feel faint hearted? It’s only natural sometimes when we consider the opposition and adversity we face. But God commands us not to be faint hearted: for He’s the King of kings and He cares for us.

I suspect we all face metaphorical smouldering stumps of firebrands in our lives! We can either get paranoid that they’re going to spark a raging inferno, or calmly trample them out. No one’s anger against us as God’s people can withstand the wrath of God against them.

“King of kings, help us to quiet our hearts before You, to be still and to know that You are our God. Don’t let us fear all that opposes us, in Jesus’ powerful name, amen”

Life

“Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”

Acts 5:20 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/act.5.20.ESV

If we have the life of which this verse refers- the eternal life that Jesus gives- this verse shouldn’t seem much of a big deal to us. Of course we would want to tell people how they can be made spiritually alive. But in the context, this verse is rather more surprising and challenging.

The apostles had just been imprisoned for speaking to the people the words of life in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus. This verse is the words of the angel who freed them from prison. There must have been an element of bemusement among the apostles.

If I was an apostle, of course I’d be grateful to have been released, but I would have wondered if preaching of eternal life would get me imprisoned again. I would also wonder if anyone would accept a message that would result in persecution if they accepted it.

As it is, the good news is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. What’s a lifetime of persecution in comparison to an eternal rest to come? The suffering may not be pleasant at the time, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

“God of the angel armies, may we be faithful to Your calling upon us to speak of the life that You bring in the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray, amen”

Sickness

Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

Isaiah 1:5 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/isa.1.5.ESV

Isaiah is prophecy. So when he wrote about being struck down, he was actually envisaging something that would happen many years later. He actually wrote at a prosperous time in ancient Israel’s history.

Just because Israel hadn’t yet been struck down yet, doesn’t mean to say they weren’t already rebelling against God. Similarly, we might see rebels against God prospering at the moment, but that doesn’t mean to say they don’t face God’s judgement and condemnation if they don’t repent. God works to His own timetable, not ours.

The world suggests that if you have faith in God, you’re sick in the head. Isaiah asserts that if you rebel against God, you’re sick in the head. So when He says later “by His wounds we are healed”- he’s referring to a spiritual realignment from rebel to believer, which is only done by the grace of God.

Biblical prophecy is largely poetry. So when we’re told that “by His wounds we’re healed”, we have to understand that this is a spiritual, poetic book which doesn’t mean to say we’ll never get a cold, or cancer. Thankfully though, God can replace our faint hearts with lion hearts that beat strongly for Him.

“God, have mercy upon us, and heal us from the terminal spiritual illness of rebellion against You. In Christ Jesus’ mighty name we pray, amen”

Eyes

Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm meβ€” Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead.

The Song of Solomon 6:5 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/sng.6.5.ESV

If you’ve been in love you’ll know the feeling: to be so overwhelmed by the beauty of someone’s look that you’re too shy to look them in the eye! Maybe that feeling has been and gone. Maybe like the Ephesian church we need to return to our first love for our Saviour and Lord.

Yes, the Song of Songs is, at face value, a romantic poem. But it’s inclusion in God’s Word strongly suggests that there’s a spiritual meaning too. Not only is sex a good gift of God (for within marriage of course), but it is a highly intimate picture of God’s love for His people.

In the new testament, it’s revealed to us that the church is the bride of Christ, in a spiritual relationship consummated in the new creation. So when we consider that this verse is probably the male lover referring to his female beloved, we can conclude that Almighty God feels that way about His people.

The thought of God being overwhelmed by *our* love almost seems blasphemous! But just as He knows how far gone we were in our sins, so He knows how wonderful it is that we might awaken to love. And as a P.S. – I love the vivid imagery in the Song of Songs- with the beloved’s hair likened to a flock of goats leaping down a hillside!

“Lover of our souls, how astounded we are that You- Almighty God- might be overwhelmed by *our* love! We are truly amazed at Your love for us, and though we can’t understand it, we appreciate it immensely, to Your glory, amen”

Ferrari’s House, Modena, Italy

Here’s my daughter looking rather bemused outside Enzo Ferrari’s house.

Apparently he sold it to buy his first racing car.

It’s now a museum.

We didn’t go in- I’m not into cars and I’m pretty sure my daughter isn’t! πŸ˜€

The flags from left to right are of Ferrari, Modena, Italy, and the European Union…

Wedding

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

The Song of Solomon 2:4 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/sng.2.4.ESV

The Song of Songs is a love song. Here, the beloved bride sings of her lover. The Song of Songs is poetry, so it can be rather abstract and hard to interpret, but I think we can assume that Solomon himself is the lover. There can’t have been many ancient Israelites with their own banqueting houses, but king Solomon would be a strong contender.

This verse gives me the image of a wedding feast. The banqueting hall had been decorated with wedding decorations, including a banner symbolising love. The banquet is set!

Maybe this imagery reminds you of your own wedding day. Or maybe it whets your appetite for a hoped for future event. But earthly marriage is only a pale reflection of a much greater spiritual reality.

Human marriage is a picture of the spiritual union of Christ and the church, consummated at the “marriage feast of the Lamb” He loved us so much that He gave His life for us. His metaphorical banner over us is resurrection love, victorious over death!

“Our Father in heaven, how we worship You for giving us Your Son to love us even unto death, and eternal, resurrection life. May we all know that love for ourselves, both now and forever, to the praise of Your glory, amen”

Dawn

Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.

Ecclesiastes 11:10 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/ecc.11.10.ESV

At the time of writing, my wife and I have been vexing about leaving our one year old daughter with our family, for a romantic night away. And then I read this verse. Solomon would tell us not to worry as though we’d done something wrong.

As Jesus said, we can’t add days to our lives by worrying, it’s a pointless exercise. Not only so, but it also stems from unbelief that God is sovereign and that he cares, so I would go as far as to say that worry is a sin, although God is gracious with worriers.

Another translation put the sense of putting pain away from our body as living healthily. We might be dealing with chronic pain in our lives. But we can do what we can to eat healthily and to exercise where possible. We don’t have to simply grit our teeth, or try to glibly laugh the pain away, but entrust ourselves to the care of Abba Father.

In the context of writing this, it seems a bit harsh to read that youth and the dawn of life are vanity. But in the grand scheme of things, our daughter isn’t going to be scarred for life by being apart from us for a night. Ultimately, as the very next verse reminds us, we are to remember our Creator before cares and concerns crowd in our days.

“Creator God, please give us a heavenly perspective on all that preoccupies us in this life. May we honour You in all we do, and may Your will be done in our lives. For the glory of Your name, amen”