“God’s Great Army” ( Joel 2: 25, ESV ) by Carley Evans


God promises, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, My great army, which I sent among you.” God tells us that He sends His great army against us, to swarm, eat, and destroy. As God comes against us, we cry aloud in despair,”Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us: look, and see our disgrace!” (Lamentations 5:1) “Our pursuers are at our necks, we are weary; we are given no rest.” (Lamentations 5:5) “The joy of our hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned to mourning. The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned!” (Lamentations 5:15-16)

After our near total destruction because of our unrecognized sins, the Lord restores to us all He has taken — “what the swarming locust has eaten.” With this restoration, God pours out His Spirit. His great promise comes true: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh: your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out My Spirit.” (Joel 2:28-29) “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Joel 2:32)

“Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong, fear not!'” (Isaiah 35:3-4) “‘He will come and save you.’ Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water.” (Isaiah 35:5-7)

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

“Dead Works” ( Hebrews 9: 14, ESV ) by Carley Evans


“How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

What are these “dead works” the author of Hebrews mentions? I want to travel back to Job, and suggest that the good things Job did in his life are “dead works.” “All our good deeds are as filthy rags” to the Lord God.

“Only in the Lord, it shall be said of Me, are righteousness and strength.” (Isaiah 45:24) “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I Am God, and there is no other; I Am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all My purpose.” (Isaiah 46:8-10)

“Woe to him who strives with Him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’ ” (Isaiah 45:9-10)

Do not argue with your Creator. Don’t be fooled into believing that if you do this and don’t do that, if you strive with all your might to be good, you somehow please Him. Believe instead that Christ “entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12) Believe that “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10)

As we have been delivered from “dead works,” we are now free “to serve the living God.”

“Fierce In Wrath” ( Nahum 1: 2, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


God is an avenging and jealous Lord; taking vengeance — “fierce in wrath.” Though He “is slow to anger;” He is “great in power” and “never leaves the guilty unpunished.” (Nahum 1:3)

The Lord proclaims, “I kill them with the Words of My mouth. My judgment strikes like lightning. For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. But they, like Adam, violate My covenant; there they betray Me.” (Hosea 6:5-7)

“I depart,” says God, “and return to My place until they recognize their guilt and seek My face; they search for Me in their distress.” (Hosea 5:15)

The Lord says, “Seek Me and live!” (Amos 5:4) “Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and the Lord, the God of Hosts, will be with you, as you claim. Hate evil and love good; establish justice.” (Amos 5:14-15)

Then, we repent. “Come,” we say to each other, “let us return to the Lord. For He tears us, and He heals us; He wounds us, and He binds up our wounds. He revives us after two days, and on the third day He raises us up so we live in His presence. Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is sure as the dawn. He comes to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land.” (Hosea 6:1-3)

His Name is Jesus, and He is “the One who comforts.” (Isaiah 51:12) He is the One who “is pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities, punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.” (Isaiah 53:5)

By His sacrifice, God’s fierce wrath is satisfied.

God’s Purpose ( Isaiah 14: 24, ESV ) by Carley Evans


“The Lord of Hosts swears, ‘As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand… This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the Lord of Hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:24,26-27)

God has a plan. He has a purpose concerning the whole earth. No one is able to annul God’s plan. No one is able to turn God back from His intention.

What is God’s purpose?

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul says God’s purpose is to bless us — that is, Christians — “in the heavenly places. even as He chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless in His sight.” (Ephesians 1:3,4) God’s purpose is also to “put all things under [Christ’s] feet” and to make Christ “head over all things” to the benefit of His church, “which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22,23)

God’s purpose is to “bring many sons to glory” through Christ “for whom and by whom all things exist.” (Hebrews 2:10) God’s purpose is for us — the sons of glory — to “enter His rest.” (Hebrews 4:1) “For we who believe enter that rest.” (Hebrews 4:3)

Now God “desires to show convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable nature of His purpose, [so] He guarantees it with an oath.” (Hebrews 6:17) He swears by Himself in that “it is impossible for God to lie.” (Hebrews 6:18) Therefore, “we have this sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.” (Hebrews 6:19,20)

Who can annul God’s purpose; who can turn Him back?

“Who Has Measured God?” ( Isaiah 40: 13, ESV ) by Carley Evans


I admit I am disturbed now and then by persons who seem to have figured out God — who speak as if God talks to them personally, directly on a regular basis, telling them big secrets, revealing Himself to them in some peculiar manner. Before you protest — I’m not saying that God is not known to speak to His children with that still voice, leading us to turn one time to the left, another time to the right. However, one of my cautions is checking that still voice against the Word; for there are times I hear a voice inside my mind, telling me something or other. I am always fearful it is my own self speaking and not my Lord at all. I am concerned that “behold, they are all a delusion; their words are nothing.” (Isaiah 41:29) After all, “to whom will [we] liken God, or what likeness compare with Him?” (Isaiah 40:18)

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the Word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:1-2,3)

We live in “the last days,” in the time in which God “speaks to us by His Son.” In these last days, there is no special knowledge reserved for only a few. Rather God has fully revealed Himself in His Son, Jesus Christ and through His Holy Spirit.

“Whom did [God] consult, and who made [God] understand?” Do we really believe we can measure the Lord of Hosts, that we can encapsulate Him inside our idea of His Truth? “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.” (Isaiah 40:28)

“Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord?” No one.

“The Cast Image” ( Habakkuk 2: 14, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord’s glory, as the waters cover the sea.”

“What use is a carved idol after its craftsman carves it? It is only a cast image, a teacher of lies. For the one who crafts its shape trusts in it and makes idols that cannot speak. Woe to him who says to wood: Wake up! or to mute stone: Come alive! Can it teach? Look! It may be plated with gold and silver, yet there is no breath in it at all. But the Lord is in His holy temple; let everyone on earth be silent in His presence.” (Habakkuk 2:18-20)

With the talk of the ‘rapture’ – the supposed taking of one over another at the Lord’s second coming – I rather doubt the Lord is pleased with the attention this has taken from His glory. Some of us have created an idol with no power to save us and followed after it. The cast image is the myriad ideas of the ‘end of time.’ We speculate and call it prophesy. Our idol is a teacher of lies.

Rather than worry over what we are not allowed to know – for no one knows the day of the Lord – we ought to remember “the Lord God comes with strength, and His power establishes His rule. His reward is with Him, and His gifts accompany Him. He protects His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment. He gently leads those that are nursing. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand or marked off the heavens with the span of his hand? Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or who gave Him His counsel? Who did He consult with? Who gave Him understanding and taught Him the paths of justice? Who taught Him knowledge and showed Him the way of understanding? Who will you compare God with? What likeness will you compare Him to?” (Isaiah 40:10-14,18)

Certainly we ought not to compare God to the feeble cast images that consist only of our ideas of His return.

“You Turn Things Upside Down!” ( Isaiah 29: 16, ESV ) by Carley Evans


“And the Lord says, ‘Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, while their hearts are far from Me, and their fear of Me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men perishes, and the discernment of their discerning men is hidden.'” (Isaiah 29:13-14)

God says we follow Him with our speech while not with our hearts; we are in awe of Him only because we have been told to be by our spiritual leaders; therefore He is doing “wonderful things, with wonder upon wonder.” He seems amused that we try to “hide deep from the Lord” both our counsel and our deeds; that we pretend He is unable to see or know us.

“You turn things upside down!”

I Am the potter; you are the clay. “Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of Him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding?” (Isaiah 29:16)

Rather than reacting with anger, God says: “In that day the deaf hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind see. The meek obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the poor among mankind exult in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 29:18-19) “And those who go astray in spirit come to understanding, and those who murmur accept instruction.” (Isaiah 29:24) No longer are we ashamed and pale faced. Instead, we “sanctify His Name and stand in awe of the God of Israel” (Isaiah 29:23) not because someone in authority tells us we must. Rather, we know we are clay and He is the Master Potter. We trust His hands and His skill. We recognize how we have turned things upside down, and how God uprights.

“The Lord Himself” ( Isaiah 33: 22, NEB ) by Carley Evans


We come to “a land of comfort, a tent that shall never be shifted, whose pegs shall never be pulled up, not one of its ropes cast loose. There we have the Lord’s majesty; it will be a place of rivers and broad streams.” (Isaiah 33:20-21) “No man who dwells there shall say, ‘I am sick’; and the sins of the people who live there shall be pardoned.” (Isaiah 33:24) “The wilderness will become grassland and grassland will be cheap as scrub; then justice shall make its home in the wilderness, and righteousness dwell in the grassland; when righteousness shall yield peace and its fruit be quietness and confidence forever.” (Isaiah 32:15-16) Then,”the wolf will live with the sheep, and the leopard lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion shall grow up together, and a little child shall lead them; the cow and the bear shall be friends, and their young shall lie down together. The lion shall eat straw like the cattle; the infant shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the young child dance over the viper’s nest. They shall not hurt or destroy in all [God’s] holy mountain; for as the waters fill the sea, so shall the land be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:6-9) “[We] shall say on that day: [We] will praise You, O Lord, though You have been angry with [us]; Your anger has turned back, and You have comforted [us]. God is indeed [our] deliverer.” (Isaiah 12:1-2) “For the Lord our judge, the Lord our law-giver, the Lord our king — He Himself will save us.”

“A Narrow-Minded Man Makes Gods” ( Jeremiah 17: 20, NEB ) by Carley Evans


When I was 22, an acquaintance told me she’d taken the best of Buddhism, the best of Hinduism, the best of Christianity, the best of humanism and rolled these “bests” into one god. Her god was a mighty conglomeration. She spoke delicately about – but with no particular love for – this god. She’d even designed a symbol for her god, one she wore on a chain around her neck. She never recognized she was worshiping her own creation.God, through His prophet Jeremiah, asks, “Can a man make gods for himself? They would be no gods. Therefore I Am teaching them, once for all I will teach them My power and My might, and they shall learn that My Name is the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:20-21)

Through Isaiah, God declares:

“If a man makes a god or casts an image, his labour is wasted. Why! its votaries show their folly; the craftsman too are but men. Let them all gather and confront Me, all will be afraid and look the fools they are.” (Isaiah 44:10-11)

From a cedar or an oak tree planted in his yard, a man cuts wood for his fire while simultaneously carving a god to worship beside that same fire. He says, “Good! I can feel the heat, I am growing warm.” (Isaiah 44:16) And to the same piece of tree, he says: “Save me, for thou are my god.” (Isaiah 44:17)

God says, “Such people neither know nor understand, their eyes made too blind, their minds too narrow to discern. Such a man will not use his reason, he has neither the wit nor the sense” to recognize that he has created his own god from “a log of wood.” (Isaiah 44:18-20)

My acquaintance was a smart person; unfortunately she was also narrow-minded.

“A Wonderful Purpose” ( Isaiah 25: 1, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“O Lord, Thou are my God; I exalt Thee and praise Thy Name; for Thou accomplish a wonderful purpose, certain and sure, from of old.”

 

“[God] makes known His hidden purpose — such is His will and pleasure determined beforehand in Christ — to be put into effect when the time is ripe: namely, that the universe, all in heaven and earth, might be brought into a unity in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:9-10) “Through [Christ] God chooses to reconcile the whole universe to Himself, making peace through the shedding of His blood upon the cross — to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, through Him alone.” (Colossians 1:20)

 

“The Lord is to be trusted, and He fortifies you and guards you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

 

Jesus says, “Set your troubled hearts at rest. Trust in God always; trust also in Me. There are many dwelling places in My Father’s house; if it were not so I should have told you; for I Am going there on purpose to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I shall come again and receive you to Myself, so that where I Am you may be also; and My way there is known to you.” (John 14:1-5)

 

Then, Jesus says: “I Am the way; I Am the truth and I Am life; no one comes to the Father except by Me.” (John 14:6)