Gary W. Ritter
(Isaiah 22-23; Ephesians 3)
In Isaiah 22, the prophet gives an oracle – a vision – for Jerusalem. I could be wrong, but it appears to me that this is both a lament for what had already occurred and a warning of what was to come with the destruction of the daughter of my people (Isaiah 22:4). A great threat of invasion was hovering over Jerusalem. Prudently, they did what anyone would do in seeing such a menace approaching. Weapons were available elsewhere, so they collected them. They prepared for the attack by assuring they’d have water. In order to keep the enemy hordes from breaching the city walls, they reinforced them. (Isaiah 22:8-10) All that they did in preparation was good and sound planning.
However, they neglected one thing to their ruin. Isaiah 22:11 tells us:
… But you did not look to him who did it, or see him who planned it long ago.
They did all the earthly things they were supposed to do, but had no regard for the One who could truly save them.
The Lord God of hosts called for them to come humbly before Him, seeking His mercy in this situation (Isaiah 22:12); instead they reveled, thinking they were safe, or if not, believing they’d die in merrymaking, as Isaiah 22:13 says:
… and behold, joy and gladness,
killing oxen and slaughtering sheep,
eating flesh and drinking wine.
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
Their fatalism angered God. He declared in Isaiah 22:14:
The Lord of hosts has revealed himself in my ears:
“Surely this iniquity will not be atoned for you until you die,”
says the Lord God of hosts.
How they approached this coming catastrophe was the worst thing they could do in the eyes of the Lord.
He goes on to foretell that one who served Him, because of his attitude of preparation without spiritual guidance, would be uprooted. This man had carved out for himself a place of refuge, but Yahweh had no use for his earthly arrangements; they wouldn’t stand (Isaiah 22:15-19). God would honor another and give him much authority (Isaiah 22:20-25).
This narrative makes me think of what’s happening in the world today. Many secular people see that something is coming that will be bad, but they don’t have wisdom and insight into what that is. They’re preparing for calamity, but have no sense of the ultimate disaster that will claim their soul.
Conversely, there are three groups in the church.
One: those who seemingly have little discernment or regard for Bible prophecy and what’s happening all around them. They’ve buried their heads in the sand and are proceeding to do church as if nothing is going on that will touch them.
Two: those who certainly know the times just as the men of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32). The problem is that they have misread the Word of God. However they got to this point in their walk of faith, they’ve been completely deluded as to what happens next in these end times.
These are the preppers. They’re storing away food and guns, perhaps arranging for an underground bunker or a bolthole to which they can flee. The coming Tribulation is the reality they apprehend and want to make sure they can endure those awful seven years. Some mock the idea of the Rapture; others appear to ignore it. In all cases, they seem to be looking for the soon appearance of great evil in the world, perhaps seeing and preparing for the approach of the Antichrist as the culmination of the coming lawlessness. In the Christian community, there are many who think this way.
Three: the minority of us who place our confidence in the soon return of Jesus through the Rapture of His church. Through wisdom and discernment, we see all that the preppers do, except our approach is entirely different. We may have small quantities of supplies on hand, since we know that times could be rough prior to when Jesus comes. However, we are looking up. Our desire is for the Lord to return so that we can join Him in the heavenly realm as His Bride. This doesn’t mean – as so many scoffers declare – that we are avoiding engagement in the world until that time. On the contrary, those I know with this belief in the accuracy of God’s Word as to the Rapture, are engaged furiously in doing what we can to bring others into the Kingdom. To that end, we are doubling down in how we seek the Lord so as to grow closer to Him. At the same time, we’re grieving and praying and reaching out as God allows in these darkening days.
Rather than be like the steward Shebna that God rebuked in Isaiah 22:15-19 because he was looking to his own self-sufficiency, our desire is to be like Eliakim, to whom the Lord said about in Isaiah 22:22:
“And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.”
Shouldn’t our prayer and desire be to wholly serve God in these treacherous times? Should we not respond in the same manner we see that the prophet did in Isaiah 6:8?
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
[Author Note: Briefly, I want to set the stage for you as to the nature of most of my articles in this season. Each year I read the Bible through completely at least once – that has been my practice since I came to the Lord in 2005. I remain astounded at what God has done in my life because of that discipline! Each day I read from both the Old and New Testaments. I choose a verse from one of those passages and write my commentary and reflection based on that. In the title of my article, you’ll see the verse I chose. In addition, you’ll see the reading for that day if you’d like to follow along with greater context.]
Gary W. Ritter is a lay pastor, Bible teacher, and prolific author. His Whirlwind Series comprises three books: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind, and There Is A Time. These books are contained in the collected volume of the Whirlwind Omnibus. Gary has been given the Christian Redemptive Fiction award for three novels: The Tattooed Cat, Alien Revelation, and for his collaboration with Terry James in writing The Minion Protocols, the third book in James’ Second Coming Chronicles. Earlier this year Gary released a four-volume set of Awaken Bible Study Notes that comment verse-by-verse through Scripture from a Biblical prophetic lens. He is currently editing a sequel to Alien Revelation called Alien Zombie Plague, which he plans to release later in the fall of 2021. Recently, Gary wrote a novella for the new Kindle Vella platform. That story is called Tribulation Rising: Seal Judgments – The Coming Apocalypse. This seven-part short work can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099Z462WD. Each day this year Gary has been writing commentary and reflections based on his reading through the Bible in a year. The intent in all his writings is to bring a strong Christian witness to what people read. You can see all his books and blog articles and reach him at his website: www.GaryRitter.com or his Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/gritter3390. You can also see his older video Bible teachings on his Gary Ritter YouTube channel – look for the fish symbol, and more recently on Rumble on his Awaken Bible Prophecy channel: https://rumble.com/c/c-783217.