Prince of the ProphetsBy John Stembridge
Editors Introduction: In this time of national crisis there is also an entirely different story, giving us a break and a balance to the bad news that insults our ears and contaminates our minds at each newscast. Reference: the almost miraculous restoration of the true spirit of our national sport - baseball! The Lord knows we need a bit of humor to save the day and keep us sane! The following article offers a bit of lighter reading and yet carries an engaging allegory and comparison of the record breaking home runs of our "restored" sport, to the great restoration of Israel found in the Book of Isaiah. Read and enjoy!
It was my joy and thrill to see Mark McGwire hit home runs 58 and 59 at Pro Player Stadium September 2, 1998 in Miami. While driving to the stadium that night I thought, "Could there be a parallel between Mark McGwires home runs and the writings of Israels Messianic Age Prophet Isaiah in chapters 57-66?" Well, lets just see.
No. 56 & 57
McGwire had just hit numbers 56 & 57 the night before. In Isaiah 56:1, God commands us, "Keep judgment, and do justice: for My salvation is near to come, and My righteous to be revealed."
V. 2, God speaks of our honoring His Shabbat which is His eternal covenant with Israel and all mankind. When we keep the Sabbath, He promises to bring us to His holy mountain and make us joyful in His house (V. 7).
In verse 8, God speaks about gathering the outcasts of Israel, plus others with them. These "others", I call Arab and Gentile Zionists. These are the ones like Ruth who choose to live with the Jewish people and who choose Israels God as their God.
Chapter 58 of Isaiah begins with a command from God to His prophet to: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet and show my people their transgression and the house of Jacob their sins." McGwire hit his # 58 in the Miami stadium so high it went 493 ft. into the upper deck. Chapter 58 of Isaiah begins with a command from God to His prophet to: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet and show my people their transgression and the house of Jacob their sins."
After His concern and command, God tells His prophet what is not acceptable to Him in fasting. Then He tells Isaiah the kind of fast that IS acceptable to Him, "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens and to let the oppressed go free and that ye break every yoke?"
Have we obeyed this command for ourselves, our families, the Middle East and the world? If not then perhaps this Yom Kippur we should fast an Isaiah 58 fast until God looses ...the bands of wickedness, undoes heavy burdens, lets the oppressed go free and breaks every yoke from Abrahams, Noahs and Adams families. After this type of fast and spiritual breakthrough, God promises in verse 20 that "the Redeemer shall come to Zion and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob...."
Isaiah 59 speaks of the iniquity and depravity into which humanity has fallen. Vs 14 & 15 state: "and judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street and equity cannot enter.
"Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no judgment."
Sounds like todays headlines!
But in verse 20, God promises that "...the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob...." Notice to whom the Redeemer Messiah comes: "to those in Zion who turn from transgression".
Isaiah 60 speaks of Gods glory that shall be revealed and how its light shall be seen by all nations.
V. 1, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee."
V. 3, "And the nations shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."
Vs. 21-22, God says, "Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time."
This means when Israel is regathered from the nations, redeemed and "all righteous", that is when Israel will inherit all the land from Damascus to Baghdad that God promised to Abraham and to his descendants. This is Gods requirements for this land transfer to happen and not that of the Oslo accords.
Isaiah 61:1-2, God speaks of His Spirit anointing His prophet "To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [This is Israels Jubilee - fiftieth year in the land since 1948] and the day of vengeance of our God." Neither the President of the United States, the late Princess Diana, nor any other person is above Gods law. Everyone will give an account for every unrepentant sin.
V. 3 Here is something else very interesting: Who is mourning in Zion today and that have ashes in their lives? The answer is survivors of the Holocaust whose loved ones were burnt into ashes at Auchwitz and other Nazi death camps. And now, as well, the families of those burned alive by terrorists bombs. Verse 3 is Gods special promises to the survivors of the Holocaust and all who mourn in Zion today. He promises them,"... beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified."
V. 9, "And their seed shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed."
Zion & Jerusalem
No. 62 (6 + 2 = 8)
McGwires 62nd home run was hit at 8:18 PM, September 8, 1998 in St. Louis, Mo. and was the one that placed him ahead of Roger Mariss 37 year record. The number six and two added together equals eight. Eight in Hebrew means "New Beginnings." McGuires 62nd home run began a new record. Again 8 is new beginnings and 18 in Hebrew means "life".
Significantly, Isaiah 62 speaks of Zion and Jerusalem. Could this mean that Zion and Jerusalem will have a New beginning of "life" from God during this year of Jubilee? I hope so.
V. 4, "...shall no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married."
The chapter begins in verse 1 with God saying: "For Zions sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalems sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth."
In Vs. 6&7, God instructs His watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem today to "...never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth."
Maybe during this High Holy Day season each of us should fast and cry out to God day and night for Him to establish His righteousness and praise - that from Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur of this year, Jerusalem will be a praise on the lips of every Jew, Arab and Gentile upon the earth.
Isaiah 63 ends with a holy prayer. "O Lord, why hast Thou made us to err from Thy ways, and hardened our heart from Thy fear: Return for Thy servants sake, the tribes of thine inheritance."
V. 17, Would to God this prayer for the regathering of the tribes of Jacob to Zion become a daily priority upon the hearts and lips of every Jew, Arab and Gentile.
Isaiah 64 is a chapter of sorrow and repentance of sin. ". . . there is none that calleth upon Thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee: for thou hast hid Thy face from us, and has consumed us, because of our iniquities" (V. 7).
This chapter ends with a longing lament over the desolation of Zion, Jerusalem and the holy cities. The last lament of the chapter, is about the Temple. "Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised Thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste" (V. 11).
Unfortunately very few Jews, Arabs or Gentiles really care that the Temple, Zion or Jerusalem are not fully restored as God has promised to do. Hopefully more and more will take this cry as a litany from their hearts.
Isaiah 65 is the chapter where God reveals the new heavens and the new earth. "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth . . . for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy" (V. 17-19). When God completes this promise, Jerusalem and the Jewish people will be a rejoicing and a joy to all people, Arab and Gentile alike.
As we go to press, McGwire and Sammy Sosa have tied for the record. Will either or both of them hit 66 home runs this year? Isaiah 66 is the chapter of finality upon the age of evil and the beginning of the Messianic Age of holiness, justice and peace throughout the earth. This is the chapter when God comes to destroy the wicked, verses 16 & 17, in order to establish a new heaven and the new earth with His glory and holiness.
"At that time it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the LORD. and they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."
Holiness is one topic unknown and unexplored by our secular and gratuitous generation. Therefore when God suddenly shows up in the brightness of His glory, very few, as Moses at Sinai, will be ready to meet Him. Most of us will be like the rest of the Hebrew children who were unprepared and that God had to warn not to come near the mountain lest they be destroyed.
Unfortunately for the majority of our generation who have never taken time to make peace with this awesome God of Israel, they will be among the slain at His appearing. But for those who like Moses have made peace with the Awesome, this minority number will share in His glory at His appearing.
Are there any among those who read this message who really care about the following?
1. That Israel is still scattered among the nations? ungathered and unredeemed from the nations?
2. That Jerusalem is yet a burdensome stone about the necks of the nations of the world and is not yet a praise on their lips?
3. That Israel is yet without the Temple, the Temple Mount, the Levitical Priesthood, the red heifer for the cleansing of the Temple mount and the new Leviticus priests?
4. That Israel, like America, is a secular nation without a Prophet, Priest and King?
5. That it is impossible for us to have the Messianic age without the above?
May each of us during the Holy Days of this special Jubilee year, repent first for our own sins, then the sins of Israel and our own nation, and finally, the sins of all people and nations everywhere. Then let each of us commit ourselves to fasting and to selfless acts of faith and courage in the year ahead to seek to do our part in helping to bring in the Messianic Age of universal justice, health, peace and well being for all people everywhere.