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First Reading: Isaiah Chapter 29 and 30

Isaiah 29

29:1 Woe to Jerusalem

"Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt!Add year to year;Let feasts come around. 2 Yet I will distress Ariel;There shall be heaviness and sorrow,And it shall be to Me as Ariel. 3 I will encamp against you all around,I will lay siege against you with a mound,And I will raise siegeworks against you. 4 You shall be brought down,You shall speak out of the ground;Your speech shall be low, out of the dust;Your voice shall be like a medium's, out of the ground;And your speech shall whisper out of the dust.
5 "Moreover the multitude of your foes Shall be like fine dust,And the multitude of the terrible ones Like chaff that passes away;Yes, it shall be in an instant, suddenly. 6 You will be punished by the LORD of hosts With thunder and earthquake and great noise,With storm and tempest And the flame of devouring fire. 7 The multitude of all the nations who fight against Ariel,Even all who fight against her and her fortress,And distress her,Shall be as a dream of a night vision. 8 It shall even be as when a hungry man dreams,And look — he eats;But he awakes, and his soul is still empty;Or as when a thirsty man dreams,And look — he drinks;But he awakes, and indeed he is faint,And his soul still craves:So the multitude of all the nations shall be,Who fight against Mount Zion."
9 The Blindness of Disobedience

Pause and wonder!Blind yourselves and be blind!They are drunk, but not with wine;They stagger, but not with intoxicating drink. 10 For the LORD has poured out on you The spirit of deep sleep,And has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets;And He has covered your heads, namely, the seers.
11 The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, "Read this, please."
And he says, "I cannot, for it is sealed."
12 Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, "Read this, please."
And he says, "I am not literate."
13 Therefore the Lord said:
"Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips,But have removed their hearts far from Me,And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, 14 Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work Among this people,A marvelous work and a wonder;For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden."
15 Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the LORD,And their works are in the dark;They say, "Who sees us?" and, "Who knows us?" 16 Surely you have things turned around!Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay;For shall the thing made say of him who made it,"He did not make me"?Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it,"He has no understanding"?
17 Future Recovery of Wisdom

Is it not yet a very little while Till Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field,And the fruitful field be esteemed as a forest? 18 In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book,And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. 19 The humble also shall increase their joy in the LORD,And the poor among men shall rejoice In the Holy One of Israel. 20 For the terrible one is brought to nothing,The scornful one is consumed,And all who watch for iniquity are cut off — 21 Who make a man an offender by a word,And lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate,And turn aside the just by empty words.
22 Therefore thus says the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:
"Jacob shall not now be ashamed,Nor shall his face now grow pale; 23 But when he sees his children,The work of My hands, in his midst,They will hallow My name,And hallow the Holy One of Jacob,And fear the God of Israel. 24 These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding,And those who complained will learn doctrine."

Isaiah 30

30:1 Futile Confidence in Egypt

"Woe to the rebellious children," says the LORD,"Who take counsel, but not of Me,And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit,That they may add sin to sin; 2 Who walk to go down to Egypt,And have not asked My advice,To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh,And to trust in the shadow of Egypt! 3 Therefore the strength of PharaohShall be your shame,And trust in the shadow of EgyptShall be your humiliation. 4 For his princes were at Zoan,And his ambassadors came to Hanes. 5 They were all ashamed of a people who could not benefit them,Or be help or benefit,But a shame and also a reproach."
6 The burden against the beasts of the South.
Through a land of trouble and anguish,From which came the lioness and lion,The viper and fiery flying serpent,They will carry their riches on the backs of young donkeys,And their treasures on the humps of camels,To a people who shall not profit; 7 For the Egyptians shall help in vain and to no purpose.Therefore I have called her Rahab-Hem-Shebeth.
8 A Rebellious People

Now go, write it before them on a tablet,And note it on a scroll,That it may be for time to come,Forever and ever: 9 That this is a rebellious people,Lying children,Children who will not hear the law of the LORD; 10 Who say to the seers, "Do not see,"And to the prophets, "Do not prophesy to us right things;Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. 11 Get out of the way,Turn aside from the path,Cause the Holy One of IsraelTo cease from before us."
12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel:
"Because you despise this word,And trust in oppression and perversity,And rely on them, 13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you Like a breach ready to fall,A bulge in a high wall,Whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant. 14 And He shall break it like the breaking of the potter's vessel,Which is broken in pieces;He shall not spare.So there shall not be found among its fragments A shard to take fire from the hearth,Or to take water from the cistern."
15 For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel:
"In returning and rest you shall be saved;In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."But you would not, 16 And you said, "No, for we will flee on horses" — Therefore you shall flee!And, "We will ride on swift horses" — Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift!
17 One thousand shall flee at the threat of one,At the threat of five you shall flee,Till you are left as a pole on top of a mountain And as a banner on a hill.
18 God Will Be Gracious

Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you;And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.For the LORD is a God of justice;Blessed are all those who wait for Him.
19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem;You shall weep no more.He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry;When He hears it, He will answer you. 20 And though the Lord gives you The bread of adversity and the water of affliction,Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore,But your eyes shall see your teachers. 21 Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,"This is the way, walk in it,"Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left. 22 You will also defile the covering of your images of silver,And the ornament of your molded images of gold.You will throw them away as an unclean thing;You will say to them, "Get away!"
23 Then He will give the rain for your seed With which you sow the ground,And bread of the increase of the earth;It will be fat and plentiful.In that day your cattle will feed In large pastures. 24 Likewise the oxen and the young donkeys that work the ground Will eat cured fodder,Which has been winnowed with the shovel and fan. 25 There will be on every high mountain And on every high hill Rivers and streams of waters,In the day of the great slaughter,When the towers fall. 26 Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun,And the light of the sun will be sevenfold,As the light of seven days,In the day that the LORD binds up the bruise of His people And heals the stroke of their wound.
27 Judgment on Assyria

Behold, the name of the LORD comes from afar,Burning with His anger,And His burden is heavy;His lips are full of indignation,And His tongue like a devouring fire. 28 His breath is like an overflowing stream,Which reaches up to the neck,To sift the nations with the sieve of futility;And there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people,Causing them to err.
29 You shall have a song As in the night when a holy festival is kept,And gladness of heart as when one goes with a flute,To come into the mountain of the LORD,To the Mighty One of Israel. 30 The LORD will cause His glorious voice to be heard,And show the descent of His arm,With the indignation of His anger And the flame of a devouring fire,With scattering, tempest, and hailstones. 31 For through the voice of the LORDAssyria will be beaten down,As He strikes with the rod. 32 And in every place where the staff of punishment passes,Which the LORD lays on him,It will be with tambourines and harps;And in battles of brandishing He will fight with it. 33 For Tophet was established of old,Yes, for the king it is prepared.He has made it deep and large;Its pyre is fire with much wood;The breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone,Kindles it.

Second Reading: Philippians Chapter 3

Philippians 3

3:1 All for Christ

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Pressing Toward the Goal

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
17 Our Citizenship in Heaven

Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Bible Background


Part 4 of 6

Some prophecy in the Bible is recorded with symbols instead of literal or common language. One principle of understanding prophecy is to assume that it is literal unless that is not possible. For example: Revelations 12 described a women clothed with the sun and with moon under her feet and a crown of 12 stars on her head. We know that this is not literally possible so it must be symbolic. It is important also that consistency is used when symbology is found. Parts should not be interpreted as literal while others as symbolic.

Another clue that symbols are being used is found in Daniel 2. The King of Babylon had a dream and Daniel interpreted it for him and for us. The dream consisted of an image with a head of gold, chest & arms of silver, belly & thighs of bronze, and legs of iron. Verse 36 starts the interpretation:

"This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.

The prophecy goes on to identify several subsequent kingdoms and now by looking at history we know what those kingdoms were. The book of Daniel has several other prophecies that use symbols.

The book of Revelations is also full of symbols. We're given some hint of that in these verses from chapter 4:

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.


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