BOTH HANDS

Andy Hollifield 5-22-18
Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
Isaiah 5:20-25 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (21) Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! (22) Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: (23) Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! (24) Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. (25) Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
I have lost track of how many times I have changed the title of this piece already. I think I am on the third one and it would have been four if I hadn’t used that title back in August. I considered using the title “Lift Up Your Head.” That was from August and then I thought about, “Begin To Come To Pass” and then “Time To Look Up” and all of those out of the scripture in Luke. I settled on this title because of something I hadn’t really though about before that I will get to in a minute. One thing I noticed that I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to is how that Isaiah used a lot of exclamation points, or marks, in these few verses. Exclamation marks are used to express emotion and put a strong emphasis on the substance of what is written. For example it might be found after shocking statements, something exciting, or even terrifying! If you look at the scripture in Isaiah 5, it is not surprising that Isaiah was shocked and disappointed in the things he was seeing.
In verse 20, he gets right to the point when he pronounces a woe upon those that call evil good and good evil. There is no question that there is a woe pronounced upon our city of Asheville, NC. With all of the destruction and broken homes and lives caused by alcohol and especially drunk driving; we have it drilled into us by the media how great it is that Asheville is now known as beer city as well as for other lifestyles, the likes of which were the reason God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. And if there has ever been a time that folks are spreading darkness when we ought to be giving the light of the Lord to a world full of sinners. Even in the case of all the school shootings that have occurred this year alone, in the aftermath, rather than spreading sweetness to a world that needs it, the airwaves are full of the nonsense that people can’t just be sweet and instead have to spread all the bitterness they possibly can to support their agenda.
In verse 21 it speaks about putting too much emphasis on getting education. Verse 22 deals with drinking among the mighty men. Verse 23 deals with corruption and the abuse and alienation of Christians by the world. Verse 24 tells us where the problem actually lies. It says that they “have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” The first thing out of someone’s mouth if you mention anything about biblical standards is “You’re judging.” People don’t want to have to answer to the law. No one wants to live right anymore it seems and if you want to start an uproar, take a bible into a government building and see if you don’t get some attention. A statement I read recently is applicable here: If you want to see God move in our situations, we need to put him back in all of the places we have kicked him out of and banned him from. Taking down the ten commandments and any semblance of God in public places. There is already talk of taking the stones off of the national cemeteries for fear of non-christians being offended. Why don’t we worry about offending God by kicking him out of everywhere? God told Joshua to set up monuments so that, for ever and ever, they could be reminded of where he had brought them from and all that he had done for them. And when you don’t have to take your oath of office with your hand laid on a Christian bible, in a nation that was founded for religious freedom; we have arrived at a sad time in this country.
Verse 25 is what I really want to look at. It speaks of God’s wrath not being turned away but that he still has a hand of judgment stretched out against us. Now, the question is; where is the other hand? I preached on this one time but I saw it a little different when I read it this time. God’s hand may be stretched out in judgment, but his other one is stretched out with the invitation in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Had you ever really thought about that? I had preached that even with judgment he still had compassion. That is still true but it is the hand of invitation that is also extended just like it has been since Jesus opened up the way at Calvary when he gave his life on the cross for mine and your sin.
Even now, in the midst of this God-hating, unrighteous, perverted, world that we live in; God’s hand of invitation is still stretched out beckoning us to come unto him. Although God has pronounced “woes” on us because of a lot of the stuff we are doing, he is still bidding us to come unto him. Sometimes it is a lot of hard labor to walk as a Christian through this world, but I am glad that God said if we will come, he will give us rest. I could list a lot of things that I believe come about as part of the judging hand of God. I don’t know when in history that it has ever been more obvious than now, how much the bible is intertwined into our daily lives. In my lifetime, it has gone from prophecy to more like a schedule of events. The encouraging thing if you are a born again child of God, is what Luke said. He said when these things “begin” to come to pass, then it was time to lift up our heads and look up because Jesus will be preparing to return for his children. I don’t pretend to know the mind of God, but you can’t hardly dismiss a lot of things going on that are in accordance to the scriptures. It is comforting to know that even though his hand is stretched out in judgment, that his other hand is bidding us all, lost and saved, to come unto him. Just as Christ stretched out his arms and died for our sins, God is still stretching out his hands in mercy as well as judgment. I am thankful he is using both hands. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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