OPENING PRAYER THOUGHT
Before engaging in a season of prayer, I shall read from The Mount of Blessing, pg. 154, beginning with the first paragraph:
M.B., pg. 154 – “Jesus teaches us to call His Father our Father. He is not ashamed to call us brethren. So ready, so eager is the Saviour’s heart to welcome us as members of the family of God, that in the very first words we are to use in approaching God, He places the assurance of our divine relationship, – ‘Our Father.’
“Here is the announcement of that wonderful truth, so full of encouragement and comfort, that God loves us as He loves His Son. This is what Jesus said in His last prayer for His disciples, Thou ‘has loved them as Thou hast loved Me.’
“The world that Satan has claimed and has ruled over with cruel tyranny, the Son of God has, by one vast achievement, encircled in His love, and connected again with the throne of Jehovah. Cherubim and seraphim, and the unnumbered hosts of all the unfallen worlds, sang anthems of praise to God and the Lamb when this triumph was assured. They rejoiced that the way of salvation had been opened to the fallen race, and that the earth would be redeemed from the curse of sin. How much more should those rejoice who are the objects of such amazing love!”
To say “our Father,” not My Father, especially when praying in public, helps us to realize that we all are brothers. God loves us all as He loves Christ, and He will not disappoint us if we pray and live as Christ’s prayer and example teach. He cannot deny us the answer to our prayers if we know what we are praying for, – if we ask for the things we really need to have, the things He Himself is anxious that we have. Before praying for anything, we must study it over first, so that our prayers, too, may stand forever and ever. Let us kneel.
You remember that in our last Sabbath’s study, we found that the prophecy of the third chapter of Isaiah actually begins with the second chapter, continues on through the third, and ends with the fourth chapter. And you also recall that the concerns therein, are for the church “in the last days,” in the latter part of the time of the end. In other words, you recollect that in these chapters God is speaking directly to His people who are living at this very time.
Since the concerns of these chapters are addressed to Judah, Jerusalem, and Zion of the last days, let us briefly transpose these titles into the language of today.
The title “Judah” (kingdom of Judah), of course, takes in the nation as a whole. Applying this title to the church in our time, it means the Denomination as a whole, the people that are to make up the antitypical kingdom of Judah. The title “Zion,” the ancient palace grounds personified as is in this chapter, and away from the promised land, means the General Conference, the headquarters of the Denomination. According to Nehemiah 11:1, the title “Jerusalem” anciently meant the city of the rulers of the nation. Applying this title to our time, and away from the father land, as Inspiration does, means the under-rulers of the General Conference. To repeat, Judah takes in the laity; Jerusalem takes in the local and union conference officials; Zion takes in the General Conference officials. These are the only possible and logical applications that can be made of this titles.
Knowing now that chapter 3 presents the Lord’s concerns for us today, we shall begin our study with Verses 16 – “Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet.”
Besides the concerns which we considered last week, the Lord has today this message for “the daughters of Zion.”
In this particular verse, therefore, God is especially addressing the daughters of the highest officials in the Denomination, the ministry, those that are at the head of the work. Accordingly, He is about to do something because the daughters of Zion are “haughty,” proud. Their pride is made manifest in the fact that they walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes; they are unrestrained, licentious, vain. Then, too, while walking, they mince and tinkle with their feet, – they do not walk naturally, they perform as it were, to attract public attention. As God sees them they are on the streets, not to get where they have started for, not to get their work done, but they are there to be seen. This is the way God sees the state of affairs that exists among the daughters of Zion. He sees them as ringleaders in licentiousness in the church.
You remember in our previous study what the Lord has against the ancients of His people, against the mighty man, the man of war, the judge, the prophet, the prudent, the captain of fifty, the honorable, the counsellor, the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator (verses 2, 3). They are “soothsayers,” He declares (Isa. 2:6); they “have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in [their] houses.” Isa. 3:14. Thus Inspiration points out that they are wickedly spending the spoil of the poor. Strong language, indeed, but it is God that says it.
Verse 17 – “Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.”
Because the daughters of Zion are on the one hand at the expense of the poor making fools of themselves, and on the other hand professing to represent Heaven, the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of their heads. No, they are not getting away either with the spoil of the poor, or with their own foolish, wicked, vain fiddle-faddle.
“The Lord will discover their secret parts” if they do not now repent. They are proudly misusing their heads and their necks, their wrists and their feet. They are proud to make a display of their wares. For this reason the Lord will put on display those parts which they do not wish to have exposed. He will make them naked. He will make a public example of them.
Verses 18-23 – “In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, the chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, the bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, the rings, and nose jewels, the changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, the glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.”
“In that day,” the day in which these conditions prevail among God’s professed people, He will take away their bravery, take away the boldness with which they make fools of themselves. He will remove the wicked ornaments of their feet, legs, and necks. These daughters of Zion, right at the head of the work, are challenging the Lord, and misleading His people at the expense of His Truth, of His vineyard, and of the sweat of the poor. But now He will turn the tables. He will challenge them.
What can round tires like the moon be? – Well, they may be the high heels under their feet, the heels that make their necks long and their backs weak, but most likely, the round tires like the moon may be the fancy things which they put on their heads, and which they call hats probably only because they are put where the hat ought to be.
To so extremely follow the fashions of the world is perfectly proper for unbelievers, but it is certainly all wrong for those whose religious profession condemns their practice.
This catalogue of ornaments takes in everything imaginable, everything useless one may put on for display. Why not now, Brother, Sister, remove from your bodies the vanities that degrade your professed reputation, and that make God’s message of no effect? Why not now dress neat, clean, decent, modest – in harmony with your profession? Why wait until the Lord smites you with some curse from which you can never recover? Why not work out your welfare of life with God, the One Who is your only true Friend, your only Deliverer, the only One Who knows all your problems, the only One Who can blot out your sins?
Why not take the advice of the all-wise God? Why let hypocrisy bring you down to the level of the wicked, the indecent, and the disrespectful, – hypocrisy that leads down to the valley of indecision, of uncertainty, of calamity, of disgrace? Why should you in the name of the Lord spin devilish webs for unwary feet to be entangled in? Why should you serve your Enemy while professing to be Christ’s representative?
Do you suppose that we can convert the heathen to Christ’s high and exalted way of living when we dress no better than they, especially when they know that our dress is not in harmony with our own profession? So far, it looks as though the heathen are heathenizing the church, rather than the church Christianizing them.
Had God wanted you to be different from what you already are, He could have made you different. Had He wanted you to be like a turkey bird, He would have as easily given you a nose jewel, ear rings, and a brooch. Had He wanted you to be like a peacock, He would have given you a peacock tail and a peacock crown. Had He wanted you to have a stretched-out neck, He would have given you a giraffe neck. Had He wanted you to tinkle as you go, He would have given you a rattler’s tail. He could have made you any way He wanted to. But are you not glad that He has made you just what you are?
Not many years ago if one of the daughters of Zion should have appeared on the streets attired in the kind of dress they wear today she would have been rushed into jail. But if one of them in a dress of that day should appear on the streets of today, no one would bother her. What does that mean to you? Does it not mean that the dress of today is indecent? that the world’s fashions are growing worse?
Are you Davidians, too, going to fall after the manner of the haughty daughters of Zion? Have you come into this world to gratify the eyes of the street idlers? or are you here to do the world good, and to please the Lord? Which one of you brethren wants to have your wife or your daughter on exhibition to please the wanton eyes that fill the streets?
Why is God to strip the daughters of Zion of their vanities? – Let us hear Him answer: “…Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet.”
The fashionable way of dressing makes them haughty, proud; makes them stretch forth their necks, and makes them tinkle with their feet; makes them do anything to attract attention – yes, everything with which to make themselves appear indecent, hypocritical, and of questionable characters. Is it any wonder that there is so much wickedness in the church? One must as it were, carry a gun to protect his wife on the streets. How can it be otherwise when the women’s way of dressing in itself invites trouble?
Moreover, if you sisters do not dress in harmony with the Lord’s will, in harmony with His advanced Truth, even the world, if it knows anything of your profession, will not think much of you. They are looking for hypocrites anyway, and if you are not faithful to your religion, you will in their eyes appear to be the best of hypocrites.
Verse 24 – “And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.”
Dress properly and you will find not only that wicked men will not hang after you, but neither will the Lord’s curses fall upon you.
Verse 25 – “Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.”
If the daughters of Zion fail to reform, then their men shall fall by the sword. Do you want me to tell you why their men will fall by the sword? – Because no sincere Christian boy in his right senses, will ever as much as consider marrying a girl that dresses as a hypocrite dresses. And so if such a worldly-minded girl is ever to get married, what kind of man will she get? – Not an informed Christian in present Truth, I am sure. She will get the kind of man that does not have God’s protection over him, the kind that is to fall in the war, the war that is fought while God’s people are being delivered. (Re-read Tract No. 14.) If you want to save your men, then quit fooling with the Devil. Get to be God’s true representatives.
What would you think if the angels came down on the streets dressed like these daughters of Zion? Would you think they were angels, or would you think they were devils? Would you think that Heaven is a good place to live in? Honestly, now, just what would you think? Would you give them the respect they deserve? No, I am sure you would not. Then why not dress as would the angels dress if they were in your place? If the angels should now appear, they would not be ashamed to be seen, but many a woman would be ashamed to be seen by the angels. Truth is Truth, and sense is sense; let us have them both.
Verse 26 – “And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.”
The very thing that sifts out the unconverted, because the standard of her profession is cast to the winds, her gates of gathering places, shall lament and mourn. Desolate shall sit on the ground, not on a throne. Why suffer such a loss?
Of course people will look at you, but they will not regard you as an evildoer, or as a vain or a lude person, but rather as a respectable Christian. If they hate you, it will be because your behaviour is making them ashamed. And, moreover, how else will you win them to your religion which they must have to be saved, unless you rightly represent it?
When I go out with my wife, people that have never seen me before, that have no idea who I may be, with but very little hesitancy call me “Reverend” because they take her to be a preacher’s wife. That shows what the people of the world think when they see properly well-dressed women. Better to have them think that you are a preacher’s wife or daughter, than to have them guessing what you could possibly be.
Why not heed the Lord’s rousing cry? Do not put off heeding this urgent call until tomorrow, Brother, Sister. If you fail today, the morrow will never come. This is your opportunity.
As aforementioned, just as Isaiah chapter 3 is a continuation of chapter 2, chapter 4 is a continuation of chapter 3. We shall therefore continue this study through chapter 4.
Isa. 4:1 – “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by Thy name, to take away our reproach.”
That is, in the last days, the time the daughters of Zion are haughty, then seven women (all the churches of that day) shall in heart say to Christ, the one Man, “We shall eat our own bread, we shall wear our own clothes, We shall be entirely independent of Thee. There is but one thing that we want from You: Only let us be called by Thy Name, Christian, so as to take away our reproach.” This is the way God sees His church enslaved by the world.
Now, to this end, I want to read a poem to you. It perfectly tells how the fall has come about.
THE CHURCH WALKING WITH THE WORLD
I do not know the author of this poem, but it seems as inspired as what I have read to you from the Bible. The poem tells the same story as the Bible does. Those who like to dress and look like the world, do so only because their hand is, as it were in the world’s hand, and because the world refuses to walk with them unless they dress as the world dresses. Ironical indeed – the world is true to its profession, but the daughters of Zion are not true to theirs!
The world kept on pleading. The church at first kept on backing out. But the world kept on pleading and pleading until it finally won. Those who give in by a fraction of an inch, day by day, are, therefore, the very ones who by their influence Satan is using to cause the church to fall. Awake Brother! Awake Sister! lest the Devil make everlasting fools of us all.
God is not asking us to put on anything that will roast our bodies. But He is asking us to put on something decent that will represent Him and His message of the hour. Unless we do this, the world will not believe that He has sent us, and we ourselves will begin to doubt. Our manner of dress speaks louder than words.
The Devil, of course, works both ways – he himself cares not which, but he is careful to accommodate the sinner so as to win him to his side. If one extreme will not do, the Enemy lets him have the other – anything to keep him from the middle of the road, anything to keep him from following the Lord.
Verse 2 – “In that day shall the Branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.”
In that day, – in the day the daughters of Zion become haughty, in the day the seven women take hold of the one man, at that time the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth excellent and comely for them that are the escaped of Israel. From what are His people to escape? Here is the answer:
Isa. 3:1-3 – “For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water, the mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, the captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.”
It is obvious that they escape the destruction of these sinners in the church.
Isa. 4:3 – “And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem.”
Only the holy ones, those whose names are left written in the Book escape the destruction that falls upon the wicked in the church. Only they constitute “the remnant,” the ones that are left. When is this to be? – The Lord Himself has the answer:
Verses 4-6 –”When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.”
It is to be when the purification of the church takes place, during the Judgment for the Living in the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17), during the separation of the wheat from the tares, in the harvest time, the time the good fish are separated from among the bad, the goats from among the sheep (Matt. 25:32).
In this time of trouble, when every element is at work to bring the time of trouble such as never was (Dan. 12:1) God is to cleanse His church in order to protect His people from the trouble that she is headed for. The people that are left after the sinners are taken, “the remnant,” shall have perfect peace.
The Lord is now calling for men and women “to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto 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. And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
“And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them. For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in Truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
“For Zion’s sake will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt 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. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee. I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall 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. The Lord hath sworn by His right hand; and by the arm of His strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast laboured: but they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the Lord; and they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of My holiness. Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.” Isa. 61:1-11; 62:1-12.
Why not return to God? No matter how bad a sinner you may be He will gladly pardon you. Why not accept now His call? You cannot afford to lose out eternally, you certainly do not want to miss this future glory that is projected by the prophets, and now freshly brought to light. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:15-17. “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:).” Heb. 3:7, 8.
This is your opportunity. Today you may take it or you may pass it by, but tomorrow you will either leap for joy, or gnash your teeth in the outer darkness. It now all depends on you.
Surely you will not sell out so cheap as to forsake all this unsurpassing glory and God’s heart-rendering plea to drop the world and to return wholeheartedly to Him now at His final call.