There Is No Other God

Our time today overlaps some of the Scripture from my last post.  Between Isaiah 44 and 46, the prophet made several references to Yahweh being God and the fact that there isn’t any God besides Him.  In between each of these declarations is a message for Israel.  These will comprise the focus of my post today.

In Isaiah 44:8, Yahweh refers to Himself as “no other Rock” – no other “God besides me.”  He describes the process of how man goes through the motions of creating idols for worship.  He says that those who create idols eventually worship them and pray, “Save me…for you are my god!”  The creators of idols fail to see or understand that their creation is not a god.  The reason for this is because a deceived heart has led them astray.  They can’t seem to grasp the fact that what they hold in their hands is a fraud!  This is a painful thing for some people to come to grips with.

People should worship the Creator, not that which they have created!  The Creator is always greater and worthy of more honor than creation.  Yahweh compares Himself with the idols made by man and points out to them that He’s the real and only God.

Israel is encouraged to keep these matters in mind and to return to the Lord.  Yahweh pleads with His people not to forget Him and He reminds His people to come back to Him because it was Yahweh who redeemed them.  Before repeating the fact that the Lord has redeemed Jacob, Isaiah 44:23 says, “Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it!  Shout, you lower parts of the earth; Break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it.”  The literary structure of these verses,  with verse 23 in the center, emphasizes the Lord should be praised because He redeemed His people.

By this time in history, the cities of Judah were in ruins but the Lord said they would be rebuilt; the prophet also said the city of Jerusalem would be rebuilt.  These two statements are two bookends that point to the one who will make this happen—Cyrus, the Lord’s shepherd.  Isaiah 44:26 indicates that the Lord will make streams run dry.  This appears to be a reference to the method by which Cyrus diverted the water in the moats surrounding Babylon so his men could enter and takeover Babylon.

Note that the Lord called Cyrus, “My shepherd” and referred him as “His anointed.”  These are terms also used to describe Jesus.  The Lord leveled the paths to prepare the way for Cyrus.  In a similar fashion, John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus.  The Lord anointed Cyrus and Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit as He came up out of the waters of baptism.  The Lord said Cyrus would do everything He wanted.  The gospels tell us that Jesus always did what His Father wanted.  Yahweh called Cyrus by name and gave him a title even though Cyrus didn’t have a clue who the Lord was.  Jesus’ name is “the Word of God” and His title is “King of kings and Lord of lords.”[i]  Jesus was fully aware of who His heavenly Father was.  The Lord armed Cyrus so that even though he didn’t know the Lord, those from the east and west would know that there is no God besides Yahweh.  When Jesus returns, those all over the world will know that there is no God besides Him.

As we just mentioned, the Lord introduced Himself as Yahweh and said there is no other God besides Him.  Long before Cyrus was born, the Lord said “I am arming you, although you don’t know me, so that those from the east and those from the west will know that there is none besides me—I am the Lord; there is no other.”  It’s quite possible that even though these words were written long before Cyrus entered Babylon, the prophet Daniel may have shown this prophecy to Cyrus so he would know who enabled him to be so powerful.  Today, these verses point to the fact that Yahweh controls the rise and fall of nations.

As Isaiah 45 advances, the Lord continues to reveal Himself; He re-identifies Himself as Creator of light, darkness, well-being, and woe. The Lord sends justice as well as salvation.   In Isaiah 45:8, the Lord says, “Rain down, you heavens, from above, And let the skies pour down righteousness; Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation, And let righteousness spring up together.  I, the Lord, have created it.”  Normally, righteousness is associated with that which is pure and holy—a result of obedience.  It’s associated with blessing but also associated with justice.  Since that is the case, it can also allude to the judgment of the seals, trumpets, and plagues mentioned in Revelation.  When the last plague comes, Israel will be saved by the Lord with eternal salvation.  Note, the Hebrew word for salvation here is yeshua. Jesus is the Greek name for Yeshua.  Surely, this is no coincidence; yeshua (salvation) is accomplished by Yeshua (Jesus).  When the end comes, righteousness (obedience to the law) which has been suppressed will be able to spring up and be practiced in the open.

Before He closes this section by identifying Himself as Creator/Maker, the Lord says “woe” to those who dare to question Him concerning His creation.  We aren’t supposed to argue with the Lord or tell Him what to do.  He chooses to do what He does.

The Lord chose to stir up Cyrus to righteousness (to cause him to do what’s right) and to make his paths smooth.   Note the change in the Lord’s title—Yahweh Tzva’ot.  The “Lord of heaven’s armies” chose Cyrus to rebuild the city, free the exiles in Babylon without taking a bribe or ransom.  Cyrus got the message.  Second Chronicles 36:23 says, “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia:  All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up!”  Cyrus gave orders and money for what was needed to carry out this task.  He also had the vessels that belonged in the temple of God to be brought out of the temple of his gods; he gave them to the captives who returned from Babylon to Jerusalem.  By doing these things, Cyrus did the opposite of what he had been doing—subduing nations, tearing down gates, and stripping kings of their robes. He did what pleased the Lord concerning Judah.

One day, Jesus will lead the armies of heaven to wage war on Israel’s enemies.  At that time, Israel will experience His salvation.  The next thing that will happen is the same as what took place when Cyrus allowed the captives in Babylon to assemble together to return to Israel– God’s people will be gathered from the four corners of the earth and will be brought to Israel.  Although many Jews are making aliyah now, the ultimate return to Israel is in the future.

The Lord said that every knee would bow and every tongue would swear about Him that only in the Lord are justice and strength.   This is reminiscent of Philippians 2:9-11 which says, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Isaiah 45:14 describes some events that may have future implication; we’ve seen this kind of prophetic shifting in the prophetic text before.   The Lord said, “The labor of Egypt and merchandise of Cush And of the Sabeans, men of stature, Shall come over to you, and they shall be yours; They shall walk behind you, They shall come over in chains; And they shall bow down to you. They will make supplication to you, saying, ‘Surely God is in you, And there is no other; There is no other God.”  Cyrus did not conquer Egypt or Ethiopia so this cannot be applied to him.  It must have future implications.

The Hebrew word, yitpallalu is often translated into the English phrase “they shall make supplication.”  What follows this phrase is not really a prayer.  It’s more of a judgment call or a conclusion; this is probably a better translation because the root word, palal means to entreat, judge, pray, or make supplication. The people will decide and declare, ‘Surely God is in you, And there is no other; There is no other God.” 

This is basically when Philippians 2:10-11 will be fulfilled.  It says, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

bullThis is reminiscent of the battle of sacrifices on Mount Carmel between the prophets of Baal and Elijah in 1 Kings 18.  Both groups killed a bull.  The prophets of Baal called on their god, Baal, to consume their bull with fire but nothing happened because Baal is a false god.  When Elijah’s turn came, he called on the Lord and immediately fire came down and consumed Elijah’s bull.  When the people saw what happened, they responded by saying, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”

Think of this story in a different way to see what it represents. The bull that was in the possession of the prophets of Baal represents Jesus.  The religious leaders could kill Jesus’ physical body but since His body did not decay, He was not consumed.  The religious leaders (and their god of traditions) had no power over Jesus; His heavenly Father did.  The bull that was in the possession of Elijah represents Satan, the coming beast, and/or false prophet.  The beast, false prophet, and Satan (Adversary) will be killed and their bodies will be consumed in the lake of fire.[ii]  The people who remain will realize and declare that Jesus is Lord, He is God!

Before that day comes, people will continue to sin because they are in bondage to the desires of their flesh.  They must decide what is true concerning the Bible and what it reveals concerning the Messiah.  They need to return to Torah and declare Jesus is Lord of their life.  They can only do this by the power of the Holy Spirit.  At the time of the end, the Lord’s people will be those who obey God’s commands and bear witness to Jesus.

Many will not do this; they prefer to reject truth.  They are angry with those who believe but they are also angry with the Lord.  They just don’t know it.  Isaiah continues; the Lord said that all who rage against Him will come to Him ashamed and disgraced.  The descendants of Israel will find justice and glory in the Lord; they will never be ashamed or disgraced.  Who will rage against the Lord?  They are idolaters; they worship the gods of this world who come in various forms, and they give in to their fleshly desires.  They are Israel’s enemies.

The Lord tells them to come together.  He calls them refugees from the nations and ignorant idolaters.  Refugees are people who are fleeing from some kind of danger or persecution.  They are fleeing from the Lord who wants them to come to Him and to take counsel together; He’s willing to give them a chance to present their case.  Again, He reminds them that He is God and there is no other God besides Him.  Before repeating this yet again, He emphasizes what’s most important, “Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth!”  Whether they did so in the past or not, the Lord said one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that justice and strength are only found in the Lord.

The Babylonians worshipped Bel and Nebo.  These idols had to be carried by animals and people.  Opposite of this is the way Yahweh carries His people.  He will never have difficulty doing this.  He will carry His people forever.  He will not only carry them but save them.  Idolatry is completely opposite; idols must be carried and they have no power to save anyone.  Obviously, Yahweh is nothing like idols or false gods.  Yahweh is God, there is no other.  No one and nothing is like Him.

As we look to the future, we must remember the past.  From beginning to end, Yahweh is God.  There is no other.


[i] Revelation 19:13-16.

[ii] Revelation 19:20; 20:10.

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The Cornerstone and Stammering Lips

As I think of Israel today, my heart mourns for its people.  I long for the day when Jacob will take hold of the Lord’s strength and make peace with the Lord as mentioned in Isaiah 27.  I want the Lord to guard Israel and care for it.  I dread the thought that it will be trampled and burned.

I want Jacob to take root and for Israel to bud and flower so that it fills the whole world with a harvest.  That would be an awesome sight although many in the Middle East would hate to see that happen at this point in time.

Unfortunately, my desires are out of my control.  In this passage from Isaiah, I see that God is not just a god of love; though He is merciful, He is also just.  He executes judgment at the right time with the right amount of force or discipline.

According to Isaiah, the Lord wanted the idolatrous altars removed from the land of Israel forever.  The desire to worship idols and offer incense to foreign gods also needed to be removed from the hearts of God’s people.  In Isaiah’s time, this may have been accomplished to some degree through exile in Babylon.  The idols have taken different forms now.  What will it take now to bring people to the Lord?

Isaiah 27:10-13 describes the desolate city of Jerusalem. The prophet said dead tree branches will be broken off and burned.  These branches represent people who were spiritually dead.  These people had no understanding of spiritual things.  They were pursuing lives of lawlessness and the Lord was not willing to show them mercy.  The same can be said of people throughout the world today.

A harvest of souls will be separated; some are wheat and some are weeds or tares.  In Matthew 13:30, Jesus said, “Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”” Isaiah indicates this will be in the day that the great trumpet is blown–the day of Christ’s return. 

People will come to Israel from the surrounding nations such as Egypt and Assyria.  This is not referring to the aliyah (return) that people are making to Israel today but to a time yet in the future—the time of the end.  When that time comes, people will worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.  No one will forbid or stop them from doing so.

The Lord will remove the priests and prophets who are drunk from drinking wine, erring in vision, and stumbling in judgment.  Isaiah 28:5-6 says, “In that day the Lord of hosts will be For a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty To the remnant of His people, 6 For a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, And for strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.”

If the priests and prophets are drunk on wine, how can the people learn anything?  Merciful acts of charity are wonderful but the Lord wants us His people to learn knowledge and understand the message He is trying to convey too.  Everyone, including young children have to learn “precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”

Is this how the Lord had to teach Israel in the past?  It seems so but it also sounds as if the Lord will bring foreigners to teach His people in this manner now and in the future.  They will teach with stammering lips and another tongue to speak to His people so that they can be saved (Isaiah 28:11).

The Lord wants the people of Israel to hear the word of the Lord but they scorn the teachings.  Instead, they’ve made a covenant with death.  They don’t fear the scourge that’s coming because they have trusted in their deceitful lies to be their refuge.  Israel shouldn’t do this, they should trust the Lord. 

The Lord Jesus is the precious cornerstone.  Everyone who puts their trust in the Lord will not be put to shame.  Jesus used the law to make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line.  He spoke clearly and taught with authority.  He did not teach them anything they weren’t supposed to already know.

Isaiah said that hail will sweep away the refuge of lies which they trusted in.  I believe the hail being referred to in Isaiah 28:17 is prophesied in Revelation 8:7, 11:19, and 16:21.  In addition to hail, water will overflow their hiding place.  When Israel’s trust in lies is removed, they must reach out to Truth.  They must reach out to Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and live righteously.  Before they do that, their covenant with death will be annulled and they will be attacked and terrorized. One thing is sure; the Lord plans destruction to fall upon the whole earth.

The end has been predetermined from the beginning.  No one can bring about the end of days or force the fulfillment of prophecy.  It will come according to God’s time-table.

We must be teachable.  We must listen to what the Lord wants us to hear.  We must ask Him to help us understand His word, give us counsel, and to guide us in these last days.

Don’t Eat Blood Or Meat Sacrificed to Idols

When the Jerusalem council met regarding what to require from the new Gentile believers, they basically summarized the requirements from Leviticus 17–18.  Leviticus 17 deals with the sanctity of blood and idolatry (offerings to demons) while Leviticus 18 focuses on forms of sexual immorality.  Today, we’ll only focus on Leviticus 17. 

Leviticus 17:1-7 basically teaches that all clean animals must be brought as korbanot (offerings) and must be offered in the Sanctuary.  The location of the Sanctuary varied in the early days but eventually, the only place sacrifices could be made was in Jerusalem.  If anyone killed a clean animal and didn’t offer it to the Lord, he was guilty of bloodshed.  Sacrifices could not be made in the open fields or somewhere in the camp other than the Sanctuary.  These sacrifices were offered to goat-demons.  Since the Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E., no sacrifices to the Lord have been made because of this commandment. 

Deuteronomy 12:13-16 re-emphasizes this commandment but gives permission to slaughter and eat clean meat in a manner similar to gazelle or deer whereas previously, the Israelites had to offer peace offerings when they wanted to eat meat.  From this point on, no matter where the Israelites lived they were permitted to eat meat whenever they wanted as long as they didn’t eat the blood. 

Even though people could slaughter and eat meat where they lived throughout the Promised Land, offerings were still brought to the Temple in order to draw near to God.  You may be surprised to know that as Jews became believers in Jesus Christ, they still offered sacrifices at the Temple and made pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the feasts until it was destroyed in 70 C.E.  This was long after Christ’s death and resurrection.  This is evident in Acts 21 when Paul purified himself and took the men into the temple so they could finish their period of purification. 

As church history evolved, anti-Semitism sprang up and Constantine’s creed forced Gentile Christians to renounce and stop observing the new moons, Sabbaths and the Feasts of the Lord.  Gentiles also had to stop performing purifications, saying the Jewish prayers, and fellowshipping with Jews.  All of this did not end with the Reformation which was started by Martin Luther.  His writings indicate he was anti-Jewish as well.  This separation of Gentile Christians from Jewish practices has continued through the Reformation to the present. 

Today, Christians have begun seeking their Hebraic Roots.  God is moving His people to read the Scriptures for themselves so they will choose to obey them despite the errant teachings of Christian churches.  Christian pastors can either find their Hebraic Roots and lead their congregations back to the truth of God’s word or continue to deceive their laypeople by continuing to teach what the seminaries and numerous commentaries have errantly taught them. 

We should constantly seek the truth now because during Christ’s reign, God’s commandments will be regularly performed including sacrifices which will be offered only in the Temple.  They will not be performed in vain but with a sincere heart full of love and devotion to the Lord while remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made for the sins of mankind.  If you doubt this, read the description of the third temple shown to Ezekiel for more details.

As previously mentioned, the Israelites were commanded not to commit idolatry or offer sacrifices to demons (Leviticus 17:7-9).  In Acts 15:29, the Gentiles were specifically commanded by the Jerusalem council not to eat meat which had been sacrificed to idols.  In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul emphasized that non-believing Gentiles participating in idolatry were really sacrificing to demons and not to God.  This was probably because the new Gentile believers were still somewhat ignorant of the Torah.

Paul said some people had the knowledge that idols did not have any real existence in the world nor could they affect the meat which was sacrificed to them while others believed differently.   Paul suggested that believers should not eat meat sacrificed to idols so they won’t cause someone else with a weak conscience to stumble; however, this was not the primary reason to avoid meat sacrificed to idols. 

Many Christians believe that believers are free to knowingly eat food sacrificed to idols when someone weaker in their faith is not around.  This could not be further from the truth.  Paul finally gives a better reason to avoid meat sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 10.  In this chapter, Paul equates eating food sacrificed to idols to having fellowship with demons.  Clearly, we are not to eat at the table of demons. 

Is this something we should be concerned about today?  Some think not.  Without the knowledge of the general public, meat packers in America are putting out meat that is ‘halal’ (lawful).  What is this?  This is meat that has been ritually slaughtered according to Islamic law – slicing the jugular vein with a sharp knife while reciting the name of Allah and allowing the blood to drain from the animal.  Even though a portion the meat was not burned as a sacrifice, shall we consider this a sacrifice to Allah?  It is obviously slaughtered in the name of Allah.  You will have to decide for yourself.  While you are at it, let me know what you think.

If you don’t know whether or not your meat was offered to idols (demons), don’t ask.  Just eat it with thanksgiving to God.  If you hear your meat was offered to idols, don’t eat it.  Whatever you do, do everything to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:27-31).

Leviticus 17 also prohibits Israelites and foreigners living with them from eating blood.  This is because blood sustains life and it is to be used to make atonement for sin.  Blood is contained within our circulatory system.  Normally, it is circulated through our bodies and is not eliminated.  The cells carry oxygen to the cells to sustain life while the plasma carries other substances necessary for life.  The kidneys filter the waste products from the blood which pass out of the body in urine while the clean blood re-circulates to continually give life to other parts of the body.  Blood was not intended to be eaten and eliminated by our intestinal tract.  When life-giving blood is destroyed and excreted from the body this way, it is a picture of blood-loss and death.    

You might be surprised to know that ordinary people eat blood in various places around the world.  Some people actually make sausage out of it.  I understand that it tastes very good but I have never eaten it.  Many eat blood without realizing God has forbidden it.  On the other hand, those who are involved in demon worship drink blood as part of their Satanic rituals.  Those who eat blood regardless of the reason will be cut off from the community of God’s people.

Remember, hunting and killing clean animals to eat is fine but the blood must be completely drained onto the ground and covered with dirt.  I suspect this is because God formed Adam from the dust of the earth.

Leviticus says that if someone eats meat from an animal that died naturally or that was torn to death by wild animals, he will be unclean.  Israelites or foreigners who became unclean because of what they ate had to be extremely careful to immerse themselves and wait for evening to come in order to avoid defiling the temple.  If they didn’t they had to bear the consequences of their wrongdoing.

All of this comes down to the letter of the Jerusalem council to the Gentile believers which upheld the Levitical laws: 

But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that [they should observe no such thing, except that (this phrase is not in the Greek text)] they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality (Acts 21:25).

Since the phrase “they should observe no such thing, except that” is not included in the Greek text, we should understand that since Paul kept Torah, Gentile believers should also be free to observe Torah (Acts 21:24), especially Leviticus 17-18 which is the core of Torah.