Our hope is that we shall awake from our sleep in the dust, at the appointed time, to participate in the reality, in the interest, in the joy and the glory of that higher, renewed life than that of this, our probation. That is Brethren and Sisters, if it be Yahweh’s desire that death is our lot before the return of our Lord.

This is all written and explained in the Word of Yahweh that abides forever.

It is in the sleep that is the difference between the believer and the unbeliever, as the believer, to again quote bro. Roberts, “sleeps just as well as the unbeliever; but he sleeps the briefest sleep that he ever slept, to awaken to the sweetest aspirations realised – a sweetness all the sweeter for the weariness of the deferred hope of a life of faith now. The unbeliever goes to the grave with rebellion in his heart, and deprives himself of the blessing that the future holds.”

Even worse he – the unbeliever, may have laid up for himself, to quote our Bro. Paul in Romans 2:5:

“But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of Yahweh”

Therefore, we see that the difference between the two classes may not be so evident now, (although we would hope that our way of life would differentiate between ourselves and the world around us), but what I mean is that the unbeliever seems to walk in his folly with impunity and no apparent harm in this life, and the righteous believer seems to deny himself without result in this life.

The great day of reckoning will manifest the result of both, to all, for it is written in Malachi 3:18:

“Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth Elohim and him that serveth him not.”

What a great day for those of us who have taken the Word that endureth forever to heart, and walked acceptably in the sight of the Most High, manifesting and glorifying His glorious Name.

Back in Isaiah 17, our chosen reading, we are shown that the desolation is not only to effect Damascus, but verse 4 tells us:

“And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.”

The verses following verse 4, through to verse 11, are taken with a description of the adversity spoken of in verse 4, and the statement at the end of verse 9 shows that there was to be desolation, the reason for which is given in verse 10.

The reason should occupy our attention for more than a cursory glance, because as Paul so wonderfully explains in 2 Timothy 3:16:

“All scripture is given by inspiration of Yahweh, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”

Therefore, it is in our best interests to read, listen and comprehend these amazing lessons that cram these pages open before us, and the lesson given here is one of true wisdom, capable of individual application.

What was the reason given that Israel was to suffer these deprivations? verse 10 of Isaiah 17:

“Because thou hast forgotten the Elohim of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength”

We all are fully aware that the people to whom this statement was directly addressed have been occupying their graves for many long years, yet we have this living Word in our hands, so graciously given, and so immediately relevant today.

Our Ecclesias are surrounded by the world, as we have been painfully reminded so many times, and they (the world) are not aware of the Rock of their strength, nor are the vast majority even interested in anything which will restrict the desires of the flesh.

Yahweh is not in their thoughts; they are taken up with what they have, and what they are, to the exclusion of anything Divine.

The so-called wise man (of this world) claims and receives the credit for his wisdom, the rich flaunt their wealth and put on airs, as if the control of a little more substance than his peers were a reasonable ground for glory.

That, Brethren and Sisters, is the unrighteousness of the world, and that should be the insurmountable barrier to our friendship with it, or its representatives.  We are separated by the Word to be the sons and daughters of Yahweh Elohim of Israel.

The world robs Yahweh of the recognition, and reverence, and praise, that are so rightly His. Just have a look at the theory of evolution or the philosophy of humanism to see how much credit the world allows Yahweh in their scheme of things.  If they profess to know Yahweh, as some do, in their works they deny Him;  2 Corinthians 6:14:

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

Our Lord Jesus Christ, him whom we are here to remember and revere, gave us such a perfect example, especially that of refusal to join with the world. Shall we unite in friendship with those for whom the Lord Jesus Christ would not pray, — he tells us “I pray not for the world” in John 17:9, a message which should put us on our guard.

Bro. Roberts explains in the same exhortation from which I quoted earlier, “We must be on our guard, the beginnings of things are insidious, little slips lead to greater ones. Resist the Diabolos and it will flee, give in a little, and it will soon push the door open and force itself into the house.”

That leads us back to the ever-enduring Word, through which we can daily meet with our Elohim, and through which we will be strengthened to be able to see and walk in the right way.

If we neglect that daily meeting with Yahweh, we will lose ground and become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. A passage in which Paul tells us the consequences of not being on our guard is in Hebrews 3, where the brethren especially are encouraged to be on the alert and to assist each other to do the same.

Hebrews 3:13:

“But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

Continuous exhortation Brethren and Sisters, is both healthy and necessary for our spiritual wellbeing. It is not that we should be continually looking for fault in each other, or in other meetings and continually deriding the efforts of others, that is not exhortation.

Yet the voice of exhortation may at times be harsh, and the standards demanded very high, but those who think the voice too harsh and the standards too high will change their minds when the shadow of death passes over them, and the glory of the judgment seat is in view. They will then see that the constant exhortation affirming the Truth and endurance of Yahweh’s Word was very necessary, — and a great kindness.

In verse 6 of Isaiah 17 we have Israel’s condition, at some stage in their history, likened to a plucked vine, with only the occasional grape on the extremities of the branches left for gleaning, and at that day “shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel.”

There is a parallel in that statement to one made by the Lord Jesus Christ whilst he was talking to the woman at the Samaritan well, as found in John 4.  Both these records refer to a time when Israel was in desolation, and both records affirm the same point.

The woman, in answer to the Lord Jesus Christ’s true statement regarding her personal affairs, said John 4:19-24:

“Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.  Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.  Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. Elohim is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

Back in Isaiah 17:7-8 we have:

“At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel. And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images.”

When we look at these two statements, we must recollect that at both times these statements were given, the Mosaic system of worship was in effect, there was a very visible ritual of worship in place, and Yahweh chose the place in which to place his Name.

The time was at hand when this service was to be suppressed and the Divinely appointed Mosaic system done away with, it as the schoolmaster had done its duty.

Does that lead us to the question, would worship therefore cease?

The statements of both Isaiah and Jesus Christ show that it would not cease, but would definitely continue in a simpler yet very personal form.

This is the worship we offer, is it not?

We have, at present, no Temple to which we can go to worship.

We have no mortal priest to whom we can take our very visible tokens of submission and confession.

We have no structured ritualistic manner to which we must strictly conform for our worship to be acceptable.

We can only worship as individuals, yes, we can worship as a community in our own hall and to a set standard and pattern, but those are of our choice, and our individual worship is only self-effecting.

What we have Brethren and Sisters, is the comfort that our individual worship is acceptable to Yahweh, IF offered in spirit and in truth.

We are assured that Yahweh SEEKETH us to worship Him so.

What a glorious consolation that the Creator and Possessor of the Heavens and the Earth finds pleasure in the supplications and approaches of those that believe in him, and who approach unto Him in Truth and not in pretence.

To make such an approach we need not to go to a particular physical place or building, or don certain robes of office, or perform any specific ritual. We need not to be with the rest of our community, although that is recommended, — we know Paul exhorts us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, in Hebrews 10:25 although that refers to those who left the Truth altogether, but what I am saying is that we can worship without human assistance.

Yahweh and His Spirit fill both Heaven and Earth. He is not far from any of us.

How close are we to Him?

He knows our thoughts before they are even our own. What we need to do Brethren and Sisters is to turn our thoughts totally towards Yahweh, to turn the thoughts of the flesh off, a process which seeks, and needs, solitude, as we cannot serve Yahweh and man at the same time.

We know that our dear Lord took himself away from even the Apostles at times to seek the solitude he needed to be able to fully commune with his Father, and he even spent whole nights in prayer.

In our individual worship we need absolute privacy as did our dear Lord, away from all distraction to allow us full the concentration needed to allow Yahweh the reverence and honour as is his due. As we have had shown unto us in this short chapter, Yahweh’s word does endure forever, and in it He has given us much through His great grace and mercy.

The chapter concludes with a reference to the destruction of the nations and the wicked world around us, another of Yahweh’s great comforts, assuring us that the Diabolos has very limited days.

Therefore, let us Brethren and Sisters be comforted and reassured by that everlasting, true and all powerful Word of Yahweh as Peter has written, “But the word of Yahweh endureth forever.”

We can do this Brethren and Sisters because we are “kept by the power of Yahweh through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein we should greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be we are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of our faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, we love; in whom though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: and we pray, we will receive the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.” (1 Peter 1:5-9)

Even so, Come Lord Jesus!

Colin Tiley-Evans