Crisis of Leadership

Crisis of Leadership

Scripture: Isaiah 6:1
Date: 01/09/2021  Lesson: 2
Not only does God’s sanctuary throb with awesome power; it’s a place where weak and faulty people such as we can find refuge. We can be reassured by knowing that God is working to rescue us through Christ, our High Priest.

The Brook Dried Up - Paper or PDF Download

The Brook Dried Up - Paper or PDF Download
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Andrew: When I was eight years old, I brought home a five-foot rattlesnake, and it's gone downhill ever since-- rattlesnakes, sharks, cliff diving, free diving. I wouldn't call myself an adrenaline junkie. I just realized that the closest that I've ever been to being alive is when I'm so close to death. I was raised in the northern mountains of Mexico. I learned English because there was missionary groups that were coming from Colorado and then going to the northern mountains of Mexico, and they were all changed in these short-term mission trips, and they had these unbelievable experiences in their close encounters with God, and I would share their testimony. I would translate for them, and I was jealous. I was jealous because I didn't have a testimony. I didn't have something like that. I didn't have that life-changing experience, that close encounter with God. I knew He was there. I just...I couldn't understand Him, and I didn't really want anything to do with Him, and...part of me wanted Him not to want anything to do with me. I felt like I was unworthy of God's love.

I left Mexico to come to college. Once I got to college, I realized how expensive college was, and so in order to pay for college, I became a commercial salmon fisherman in Alaska, and the first time that I stepped on a boat, I knew I was going to be a fisherman for the rest of my life. I met this man in Tennessee in one of the rivers, and I found out that he had an orphanage in Honduras, and he said, "You know, you can come down to Honduras. You can help us put a support video together." And you know, it was like, "Maybe you can get some college credits out of it." I said, "You know, that'd be great. I would do that. I would love to do that." And so I flew down to Honduras, and one of the conversations that we had during the dinner, we were talking about this and that, and somehow, I brought up "Rapture." And they said, "Well, find us a place in Scripture where it talks about Rapture." And I said, "It's all over the Bible." He said, "Is it really, though?"

So they gave me a DVD that said, "Amazing Facts," and I remember coming back to America, and I started watching, and it said, "Amazing Facts Presents," and Doug Batchelor started talking. One of the things that he said is that the word "Rapture" wasn't in Scripture. And that was the first time that I actually heard Pastor Batchelor speak, and then I run into YouTube, a video series called "Prophecy Code," and I said, "Oh, this is going to be good, sweet," but it was just torture because everything I knew, it was just getting tossed out the window. He was just using Scripture after Scripture to take away everything and all--everything that I thought was normal and everything that I knew about the book of Apocalypses.

Ever since I've learned scriptural truth and I've seen the light, I feel like there's been a fire rekindled in my heart, and I have this knowledge that I want to share with people. It brings me peace, and I think that it does that for other people we've managed to share with. My name is Andrew. I am a fisherman and a dreamer. I want to thank you for changing my life.

Jëan Ross: Hello, friends, welcome again to "Sabbath School Study Hour," coming to you from the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California. We'd like to welcome our many friends who are joining us across the country and around the world. We know we have a number of online members who are tuning in, as well as our friends not only in the United States and in North America but actually in different continents, and I'd imagine all around the world. So a very warm welcome to all of you.

We're very excited about the series of lessons that we are studying. We started a new lesson quarterly on the book of Isaiah, and if you don't have a lesson quarterly, it's not too late to get one. Just go to the Amazing Facts website, and you'll be able to download the lesson that we're studying today, which is lesson number two, entitled "Crisis of Leadership." I want to encourage you to do that. You'll be able to study along with us, so take advantage of that. If you have a local Seventh-day Adventist Church, you can ask them for a lesson quarterly, and I'm sure they'll be happy to get you one, and then you'll be able to read and study along with us.

We also want to let you know about a free book that we have. It's entitled "When the Brook Dried Up," and this is our free offer today, and we want to send this to anyone who will call and ask to receive the book. All you'll need to do is, first of all, call the number 866-788-3966, and you can ask for Offer Number 171, and we'll get it to the mail, anyone in North America. Or if you'd like to receive a digital version of the book, text the code "SH074," to the number 40544. You'll be able to download a digital copy of the book "When the Brook Dried Up," as well as anyone outside of North America, if you'd like to read it, go to the website. It's AmazingFacts.org. You click on the Sabbath School tab, and you'll be able to download the free offer. So take advantage of that. Our lesson today is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug.

Doug Batchelor: Morning. I want to greet those who are studying the Word of God with us, and we're in the second section, a section, a lesson in a new study on the book of Isaiah, and I'm really excited about this because this is going to be dealing with Isaiah chapter 6, about the first 13 verses, which, really, is one of my favorite subjects. Whenever I teach an evangelistic program, I talk about this section of Scripture. I probably ought to say, by way of explanation here, we are still moving into our new facilities here, and behind me if--I just saw it on the monitor in there. It looks like there's this hypnotic pattern going across the screen. We just got these new screens. It's kind of vivid, isn't it? Got our new screen up, and I don't know that we realized it would look like ancient Aztec symbols going across the screen, but it's just kind of pixelating when you look up close. Anyway, we're going to be working on that, so don't anyone get hypnotized when you see those little boxes moving across. That's kind of like a moiré look. Did that make sense? I hope so.

Anyway, we're going to continue studying our lesson dealing with the subject of a "Crisis of Leadership," and this is based on Isaiah chapter 6, verses 1 through 13, and our memory verse is Isaiah 6, verse 1, and it says here, "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on the throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple." Now, I would like to begin our lesson today by reading the assigned verses we're supposed to study and then taking some time to go through them and explain it verse by verse because, really, in Isaiah chapter 6, even just verses 1 through 8, what you have here is an explanation of what is a conversion experience. And so this is really-- in these verses, it explains the science of conversion, and I'd like to go there, and I'm going to read this for us together.

If you have your Bibles, I invite you to look along with me, Isaiah chapter 6, starting with verse 1: "In the year that King Uzziah died--" now, Uzziah goes by a couple of names. He's both Uzziah, and he's Azariah. "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim. Each one had six wings. With two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory!' And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said, 'Woe is me, for I am undone. Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.'

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and he said, 'Behold, this has touched your lips. Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is purged.' Also, I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here am I. Send me.' And He said, 'Go, tell this people, "Keep on hearing, but do not understand. Keep on seeing, but do not perceive." Make the heart of this people dull, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.'

Then I said, 'Lord, how long?' And He answered and said, 'Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, the houses are without a man, and the land is utterly desolate, the Lord has removed men far away, and the forsaken palaces are many in the midst of the land. But yet a tenth will be in it, and will return and be for consuming, as a terebinth tree or as an oak, whose stump remains when it is cut down. So the holy seed shall be its stump.'"

All right, there's a whole lot here, and I'm hoping that we can get through the majority of it in the little bit of time we have allotted for this. First of all, I want to tell you what the seven steps of conversion are and explain to you that you see those seven steps in this experience of Isaiah. This was not the first time that Isaiah had been called to ministry, because it says, "This is in the year that King Uzziah died."

Well, you read in the very first verses of chapter 1, it says that his ministry went through the time of Uzziah, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Jotham, so forth. So he was already involved in ministry, but then he had this encounter with the Lord, and just like Moses, Moses was very much involved in ministry, and then later he said, "Lord, show me Your glory," and he had a special encounter with the Lord at that point. So he had already accepted the call to ministry, but he had a revelation of his unworthiness.

Now, if I was to ask you, "What is the first step in being saved?" You know, there are steps. How many of you have read the book? We have a few people here in our studio audience. How many of you have read the books "Steps to Christ"? There are steps, and understanding those steps, I think, is very important. Let me tell you what they are.

First step, it's not to repent. It's to see God. Notice, he sees the Lord, not only does he see the Lord, he sees the Lord in the year that his king dies. We not only need to see our Lord, we need to see Him in the year that our King dies, and that's Jesus, lifted up on the cross. And he sees the Lord high and lifted up. You see God, step one. You see yourself.

Step two. You then, as a result, because the goodness of God leads you to repentance, you repent.

Step three. Kind of--a second part of repentance is what you would call confession. It's sort of connected with repentance, but I list it as a separate step because it's verbalize your repentance, confess. You receive God. He sent the tong, the coal, the cleansing. He hears the voice of the Lord, that's six, and then he surrenders and goes for God. So it begins with seeing the Lord.

Now, as you look in the Bible, can you think of some people, some individuals, that their conversion begins with seeing the Lord? What brought about the conversion of Saul? Saw the Lord. What about the thief on the cross? He saw the Lord in the year that his King died. He saw Him high and lifted up. What about Zacchaeus? What does Zacchaeus want? He wanted to see Jesus. Did he see Him? What was the result of that? That encounter led to his conversion. And you can see these examples all through the Bible. And when they saw the Lord, they see Him in His holiness.

You know, it's when we see the holiness of God, we, by contrast, become aware of our unholiness. You see the light and the glory of God, and I think it says in the book "Steps to Christ," every spot of defilement becomes painfully distinct in the blazing light of that glory. And then the natural response is what you see happening to Isaiah where he says, "Woe is me. I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts," and when we see the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.

Well, just to give you a little bit of history, so this takes place, it says, during the time of Uzziah's death, "In the year that King Uzziah died." Now, Uzziah was the second-longest reigning king of Judah. Matter of fact, the two longest reigning kings of Judah or Israel is Uzziah and Manasseh. Isaiah's ministry begins during the reign of Uzziah, one of the longest-reigning, and it ends-- he's killed by Manasseh, the other longest-reigning.

Now, we have a president, or we at least have an election for president every four years, and ever since the days of Roosevelt, no president can serve more than two terms, which means you're going to get a maximum of eight years of the same president. Can you imagine having the same president for 52 years? Depends on the president, right? Well, they had just had the same king. See, Uzziah began to reign when he was 16 years old, and so they had had the same king. And you know, for the first part of his reign, he is a good king.

You read what it says here-- matter of fact, I probably ought to-- just to give you the background-- this also gives you some good background in the beginning of-- let me mark Isaiah 6-- so I don't lose it--real quick. In the beginning of the book of Isaiah, it just helps you understand the context of what's going on. Go to 2 Chronicles 26, and I just want to read something to you. Start with verse 1. 2 Chronicles 26, verse 1, "Now all the people took-- people of Judah took Uzziah, who was 16 years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah. And he built Elath, and he restored it to Judah and after the king rested with his fathers. Uzziah was 16 years old when he became king, and he reigned 52 years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord," most of the time, "according to all that his father, Amaziah, had done. He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in visions of God, and as long as he sought the Lord God, the Lord made him prosper."

Now, do you underline in your Bible? That's a great principle there: As long as you seek God, He will make you to prosper. "As long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper. Now he went out, and he made war against the Philistines, and he broke down the walls of Gath--" and David killed the giant of Gath, and Uzziah broke down the walls of Gath-- "and the walls of Jabneh, and the walls of Ashdod, and he built cities around Ashdod and among the Philistines. And God helped him against the Philistines and against the Arabians who lived in Gur Baal, against the Meunites, and also the Ammonites, and they brought tribute to Uzziah. And his fame spread as far as the entrance of Egypt, for he became exceedingly strong. And Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem and at the Corner Gate and at the Valley Gate, and at the corner, the buttress of the wall, and he fortified them. Also he built towers in the desert. He dug many wells, for he had much livestock, both in the lowlands and in the plains. He had farmers and vinedressers in the mountains and in Carmel, for he loved the soil."

Some kings are bookworms, and some kings are warriors, and some kings are poets like David, but Uzziah was a farmer. He loved the soil. "Moreover, Uzziah had an army of fighting men who went out to war by companies, according to their number on their roll as prepared by Jeiel, the scribe; and Maaseiah, the officer, under the hand of Hananiah, one of the king's captains. The total number of chief officers of the mighty men of valor was 2,600." These are the officers. "And under their authority was an army of 307,500, that made war with mighty power."

So they had these rotating groups of soldiers that were on duty. They went out with mighty power, and that's how they conquered these different nations, and all this tribute and money was flowing in. See, Israel is located as a land bridge between three continents. That's why everyone always fought over the land of Israel because--you know, before they had airplanes, the way you got there usually was on foot, and it connected Africa, Asia, and Europe. You had to go through the Jordan Valley and charging tribute, for those who pass through there, they became very wealthy doing that. That's why Solomon was so wealthy.

So Uzziah is conquering all these surrounding nations, all the tribute's coming to him, and he's becoming very powerful. "Then Uzziah prepared them-- for the entire army, shields, spears, helmets, body armor, bows, and slings to cast stones. He made devices--" now, that word is "machines" in Jerusalem-- "invented by skillful men--" that's engineers-- "to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows--" he made devices to shoot arrows-- "and large stones. You've probably seen some of these catapults. And so he made war machines, and he had armaments, and the country--you see the strength of what's going on?

The country is very strong, but you know, with prosperity and with success sometimes comes pride, and the country began to drift from God spiritually towards the latter end of Uzziah's reign, and this is what Isaiah had to deal with. "But--" verse 16, what does that word mean? Everything's going great, "but." You read about Solomon and all of his wealth and all of his wisdom, and it says, "but." He loved many women, and then, from there, it's a downhill. And here it says, "But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar.

So Azariah the priest went after him, and with him 80 priests of the Lord, valiant men. And they withstood the king, and they said, 'It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense. Only the sons of Aaron should be doing this. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed. You have no--you will not have honor from God.' And Uzziah became furious, and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of the Lord, besides the incense altar." He never should've gone in there. "And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and there, on his forehead, was leprosy, and they thrust him out," because he was unclean. "They thrust him out of that place. Indeed he also hurried to get out, because the Lord had struck him. And King Uzziah was a leper till the day of his death."

All right, so that was the latter end of his reign. Other than that incident, he's listed as a good king, but you can see that, because of their prosperity, not only pride was entering the heart of the king, it entered the country. Now, when it says, "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord," Jewish commentators and even some translations of the Old Testament say that year was the year that he got leprosy, because he died as the leader. He had to live in a separate house, and his son took over the affairs of the kingdom. So we don't know, but I typically think it's the year he physically died, but some commentators say, no, that was the year when he was struck with leprosy is when Isaiah had this vision. The reason that God is giving Isaiah the vision is because the whole nation is now worried, "Who is going to be in charge? We've had the same king. We've had this constant leadership for 50 years, and now who's going to take care of things? What will our enemies do?" And so there was a lot of trepidation about that.

And so God basically says, "All right, Isaiah, don't fret. I am still on My throne." Uzziah may not be on his throne, but I'm on My throne." And he was given a picture of God in the temple of God. Now, you realize that Isaiah may not have been in the temple when he had the vision. You can see heaven's open. Did John have a vision of the temple of God on an island in the Greek Mediterranean, a Greek section of the Mediterranean? Yeah, so God can give you a vision of the temple without your being in the temple, and so we don't know where Isaiah was when he had this vision, sitting in the holy of holies, on His throne. The pillars are shaking. He's not got golden cherubim. He's got the living cherubim, so it's like the heavens are open, and he's seeing right into the very holy of holies of God's dwelling. And now, to see that, most men would be struck dead by that sight. Only a handful of people have seen God in His glory, and no man have seen the Father in His unveiled glory. But God is saying, "Don't worry about the throne of Israel because I am the King, and I am still on My throne." And he saw the majesty of God. "He's heard the angels saying, 'Holy, holy, holy,' and the posts of the door were shaking at the voice of Him who spoke."

Now, do you know that Jesus actually refers to this experience in the Gospel of John? And where did I put that here? I thought that I put this in my notes. Yeah, John 12, verse 41, "These things Isaiah said when he saw the glory of the Lord and he spoke of Him." And so even Jesus--and John referring to the statement of Jesus when Jesus said, "They have eyes, but they don't see, ears, but they don't hear." Jesus is quoting Isaiah chapter 6, when he says that.

And so, first step, you see God. You see Him in His holiness, and you know, a picture of God is essential to our conversion. You will ultimately become like the one you look at. Why is idolatry a sin? Because you end up becoming like what you worship, and your concept of God is going to, you know, no doubt be lowered if you think that God is a frog or a bird or a cow or some of the things that people worship. It's why God forbids idolatry. God is not a porcelain picture of Jesus on the cross or Mary on the dashboard of your car, and anything like that will lower your concept of the exalted nature of God. If the heavens should be open, and you see God, you'll never be tempted again to make a little plastic figurine of God or make Him, like, a tree stump or a rock that you pray to. He's a living God, and we become like what we worship. And so he sees God in His glory. He sees God in His holiness.

Having a good picture of God brings about our conversion. If you look in 2 Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." That's a powerful verse. You know that song, "Turn Your Eyes on Jesus"? If we continue every day to look at Christ, not just looking at Him but looking at Him in the year that our King died high and lifted up, and we see His love, we see His goodness, we see a His sacrifice, that has a transforming influence. We are being transformed by glory to glory.

You know, with a lot of animals, they have a period of time, right when they're born or when they hatch, where they bond with what they look at. You probably know that if these little baby ducks hatch out and the mother is not on the nest when they hatch and if they see the family dog, they will follow the dog, and they will act like a dog. And how many of you have seen this before? It's just they bond with whatever it is. And we, through looking at Jesus, begin to imitate Christ. It's just natural.

I could always tell-- my mother, you know, she was an actress, and she was a ham. She was. And whenever she talked to anybody, she would assume the voice of the person she was talking to. My mother had friends in England. He had friends in New York that had heavy New York accents, you know, and whenever she was on the phone, my brother and I would say, "Oh, she's talking to Casey," "Oh, she's talking to Shirley," "Oh, she's talk--" because she would immediately start talking like them, and I think she just did it for fun. She'd be on the phone with her friends from England. All of the sudden, she had an English accent, just like that. She was using English words. But it is true. Can you sometimes tell when kids are hanging around the wrong group by the way they talk? We all start imitating the people that we are around. Choose your friends very carefully. You'll become like them. He that would be wise, you should hang around the wise. So by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, we are transformed.

So the first thing you see happening here is we see God. The next section is "Holy, Holy, Holy." Now, is there another place in the Bible you find the creatures around God's throne saying, "Holy, holy, holy"? Revelation, that's right. Revelation, in chapter 4, verse 8, "For the four living creatures, each have six wings, and they're full of eyes round about and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying, 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.'" Why do you think the angels say it three times? How many persons in the Godhead? "Holy" for the Father, "holy" for the Son, "holy" for the Holy Spirit. Also in the Bible, whenever something was said three times, it meant it was eternal. Have you noticed in Genesis, when talking about the Sabbath, it says, "The seventh day, the seventh day, the seventh day"? Three times. Now, sometimes you just want to get someone's attention and emphasize something, you say, "Surely, surely." You know, you might repeat something twice, but when it says it's something three times in Hebrew, it's settled in heaven. And so the angels say, "Holy, holy, holy."

Something else I just think it's interesting, you know, Ezekiel has a vision of God on His throne, and He's got these creatures with four faces. Now, in Isaiah's vision, the creatures only-- they got one face per cherubim or seraphim. They got six wings. In Ezekiel's vision, they got four faces and four wings. You get the Revelation, they got four faces and six wings. So two of the wings are used for covering the face. They veil their faces from the glory of God. These are angels. Two of the wings they use for veiling their feet.

Why do you think that is? It's hard for us to understand in our culture, but if you go to the Middle East, I've heard it said that, you know, if you're in, like, India, if you should accidentally walk into a lady's room and she had been changing, she will cover her face. If you're in some countries, well, maybe Burma or in Middle East somewhere, if you were to walk into a room, they would cover their feet. If you're in California, they don't cover anything. But--so there's different places-- you know, when you wash a person's feet, it was supposed to be, you know--it's dirty.

They say, in the Middle East, they used to tell American businessmen, "When you go talk to the Saudis and you sit in a meeting with them, the last thing you want to do is cross your legs and aim your foot." That's an insult. And some of you remember when, I think, President Bush was in Iraq, and one of the reporters threw a shoe at him, and he was very fast. He ducked, and it missed him, but that was considered the greatest insult. And when they knocked down the statue of Saddam Hussein, they all took off their shoes and hit his statue with their shoes because a foot was considered a very low spot. So these angels cover their feet and cover their faces.

By the way, when we come into the presence of God, should we be adequately covered? You know, there's a lot of churches that, as we travel around the world, that they take off their shoes when they go in. And Jëan and I and Karen, we were in India. We went to visit a friend. He's actually a pastor of one of the largest churches in the world. He's got, like, 190,000 people come every week. And they got cubby holes in India for everybody's shoes, and we just think, "How will they ever find their shoes again?" Not only that, they don't let the men and women sit together, so they got all the men's shoes, all the ladies' shoes, and men sit on this side. Ladies sit on this side, and they come and they sit on the floor for the service. Then after the service, they go find their shoes. And other places we go, when we are in Russia, ladies all cover their hands when they're in church, and they take, you know, those verses in 1 Corinthians very literally. But the reason is they're trying to demonstrate reverence for God, and that's something I think we all should be mindful of--excuse me.

All right, so they cry, "Holy, holy, holy," and, now, after you see the goodness of God, then by contrast you will see yourself. What does Isaiah say after he sees himself, in verse 5? "Woe is me--" in the Hebrew, that's "Oy, oy." Have you ever heard a Jewish person say, "Oy vey"? Matter of fact, my grandmother spoke fluent Yiddish, and she was always saying, "Oy vey iz mir," and so, like, "Oh, no, woe is me." And the term there, "oy," it means, "I am undone. I am speechless. I have nothing to say." Now, that's very important point to notice because he says, "I am a person of unclean lips." So he specifically refers to his lips, and he says, "And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King." And then, later, when the angel comes to wash away his sin, where does he put the coal? On his lips. So the emphasis in this verse, he says, "I am speechless. Oy, oy vey iz mir." "I am a man of unclean lips. I dwell in the midst of a people with unclean lips," and the angel takes a cold to clean his lips.

Why the emphasis on the lips? Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. How can ye, being evil, speak good things?" Unless your hearts are changed-- your speech cannot be changed unless your hearts are changed. Karen and I were talking this morning as we were getting ready for church, and we were listening to a testimony online, and I said, "I was talking to a man, and he said, 'My father never could say a bad thing about anybody.'" And I said, "Boy, that would be a great legacy to have on your tombstone, wouldn't it"? Said, "I'd like to be that person." I'm not now, but it'd be nice if you could be accused of never saying an unkind thing about anybody. When the heart is changed, the lips are changed. So the other thing you notice is he sees God in His holiness, then he becomes aware of his sinfulness.

Now, if the first step in salvation is to see God, you can't repent--you can't be saved without repentance. First thing that Jesus said when He starts preaching, "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." John the Baptist begins his ministry--what does he say? "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." You must repent, but how are you going to repent? Should preachers just yell at people that walk through the door, and say, "Repent"? When Peter told people to repent in Acts chapter 2, what did he first do in his sermon? He showed them Christ lifted up in the year that the King died. He showed them Jesus dying on the cross for their sins. They saw the goodness of God. They saw the holiness of God. They saw the exalted nature of Christ. They saw their guilt for condemning Him wrongfully. Then they were convicted. Bible says, "Their hearts were pricked," and they said, "Men, what shall we do?" Peter said, "Repent." Basically, they were saying, "Woe is me. What shall we do?" It's like the jailer at Philippi, "What must I do to be saved?" He was brought to a sense of conviction and repentance. That comes from seeing God lifted up.

So if you want people to be brought to the place of repentance where they accept Christ, what do you do? Show them Jesus. Show them the holiness of God in His Word and show them the holiness of God in your life, amen? And when they see that, they're going to say, "Wow, this person is happy. They're holy. There's something different." And they'll say to you what the Philippian jailer said, "What must I do to be saved?"

I remember going to visit, and I was giving a Bible study to a couple. We weren't very far into it, and the lady of the house, a young mother, she just stopped me right then. She started crying. She said, "What do we need to do to be saved?" I thought, "Wow, that's just like the Bible. She asked me." These weren't--she didn't know the Bible, and she said, "What do I need to do to be saved?" That's wonderful when you hear that question, amen? But she just was overwhelmed with a sense of conviction after hearing about the goodness of God. So Peter, he lifts up Christ. Christ--what did He say? "If I am lifted up, I will draw all men." "And in the year that Uzziah died, I saw the Lord high and--" what? Lifted up. Christ said, "If I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me." And that's what brings about those conversions.

So you see yourself, and then you go to repentance. You know, in Number 17, the people came to Moses, and they said, "Behold--" this is Numbers 17:12, "Behold, we perish. We are undone." What did Isaiah say? "I am undone." You know, another way you might say that, he said, "Woe is me." Oy vey, "I am undone." "Undone" is kind of like I've suddenly discovered I have no clothes.

You know, I remember once or twice, when I was in a hurry to get dressed and, you know, I went out the door and I forgot something or I didn't have socks that matched or something like that, and you say, "Woe is me." You look down. I was doing--I don't know if any of you ever saw the "Millennium of Prophecy" program in New York that we did in 1999. The dressing room they had for me was in the back. It was a--one of the apartments, and it was very dark, no lights in there. Just like, you know, kind of an amber bulb in the room. I had a pitiful mirror. And I remember getting dressed, and I was ready to go out on the stage and do Bible questions with Karen, and I walked out on stage, and here you're on the lights like we got here, and I looked down, and I realized-- [gasps] I grabbed the wrong pants for my suit, but the cameras were rolling, and it's live, and I just said, "Woe is me, I am undone," because I was too late. I can't go change now.

So if you ever look at that program-- I don't remember which one it was-- you say, "Doug's jacket and pants don't match." That's because I was in the dark, and I came into the light, and I repented. So he said, "I am undone." It's kind of the same thing you would say if you suddenly discover you have no clothes.

You know, there's a statement in "Prophets and Kings," in page 308, "Standing as it were in the full light of divine presence within the inner sanctuary, he realized that, left to his own imperfection and inefficiency, he would be utterly unable to accomplish the mission to which he had been called." Said, "I am undone." "All who exalt themself will be humbled, but those that humble themselves will be exalted." So he humbles himself. He repents of his sin, and when he does that, as soon as we repent, how long does God make us last? Not only does he repent, part of his repentant--is he articulates it when he says, "I am a man of unclean lips. I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." He's confessing. You notice, is he just confessing other people's sins? We're all pretty good at confessing the sins of others. Or does he confess his sin first? First, he confesses his sin.

But something should be said at this point-- I'm looking at the clock and thinking, "Boy, I got a lot-- should be said--" about corporate repentance. When Peter--I'm sorry. When Daniel is praying in Daniel chapter 9, and he confesses sin, does he just confess his sin, or does he say, "While I was confessing my sin and the sin of my people"? And you look all through the Bible. The prophets not only confess the sin, their sin, but they sought our sins. And so in the Lord's Prayer, does it say, "Forgive Me, lead Me, feed Me," or does it say, "us"? We should care about each other. Said, "While I was confessing my sin and the sin of my people." So he confesses. He repents. The thief on the cross, he repented for his sin, didn't he? And did he publicly confess? He said, "We are getting the just dues for what we have done."

Now, why would you confess your sins to God? Is it because God doesn't know? No, God knows all things. You would confess your sins to God because you are acknowledging that something is wrong, and you then give him permission to cleanse and to heal you at that point. Now, when you confess, you may not remember everything, but you could start with the Ten Commandments and just say, "Lord, I've broken Your law. The penalty for sin is death." And do we need to confess our sins to a man, or do we confess them to God? Yes. So he says, "I'm a man of unclean lips." How long does God make Isaiah wait for cleansing? You said, "Okay, you confessed. You've repented. I'm going to put you on probation." What happens? You look here in Isaiah chapter 6. After he confesses his sin, then, verse 6, Isaiah 6:6, "Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having taken in his hand a live coal that he had taken with the tongs from the altar."

By the way, God is on His throne. He's in the holy place. In the heavenly temple, is there also an altar? Doesn't the Bible say, "The earthly temple is a model of the heavenly temple"? The heavenly temple is real. Don't believe what you're hearing people say that "It's all symbolic. There is no real heavenly temple." The Bible is pretty clear it is real." And it says he takes one of these tongs from the altar. That's the altar of incense that was in the holy place. "And he touched my mouth with it, and he said, 'Behold, this has touched your lips. Your iniquity is taken away. Your sin is purged.'"

Isn't this wonderful? As soon as he confesses, God forgives. When Zacchaeus wanted to see the Lord, he climbs a tree so he can see the Lord, and Jesus says, "Today I must abide at your house." Zacchaeus jumps out of the tree, or falls out of the tree, and he says, "Lord, the half my goods I give to the poor, and if I've taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold." He repents. He confesses, and Jesus said, "I tell you what, Zacchaeus. We're going to put you on a probation program, and you've done a lot of stealing. Let's see if you can go a month without stealing." Is that what he says? As soon as he does that, he says, "Verily, this is a son of Abraham." He's immediately forgiven and adopted, and Christ says, "I want to abide at your house."

The thief on the cross, when he confesses and he repents, how long does he have to wait? Jesus turns to him immediately, says, "I'm telling you, today you will be with Me in paradise." So that's wonderful. You know, when you think about it, that means whenever we sincerely repent and confess our sins, God cleanses us. If we confess our sins, 1 John chapter 1, verse 9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us out sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That needs there needs to be a true sorrow for sin and a willingness to turn away from it, amen? So he does that, and God says, "You're cleansed."

Now, after he's cleansed, now, God sets him up, you might say. And God, He says, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" God the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. "Whom shall We send, and who will go for Us?" And he said, "Here am I. Send me." You know, he gets the invitation right after he makes the confession. So we come to God, and then we go for God. You notice, after he repents of his sin, says, "Then I heard the voice of the Lord." After Jesus came out of the waters of baptism, did He hear a voice? There's a voice from heaven. When we repent of our sins and we're washed from our sins, we will hear God's voice speaking to us in a special way and guiding us. And what does God tell him? "Go."

You know, I like the gospel. It begins with, "Come to Me," in the great invitation, and it concludes with "Go and tell all nations. So, Isaiah, he comes to the Lord, and then God says, "Now I want you to go for Me." The whole plan of salvation is all about we come to the Lord, and then we go for the Lord. "Go and tell this people who 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand, keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' Make the heart of this people dull, that their ears may be heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed."

Now, what does God want? He wants Isaiah to preach so that they will be lost? He's saying, no, the people are going to respond like the Pharaoh did. You know, the Bible says nine times God hardened Pharaoh's heart, and folks have a big problem with that. They say, "God made Pharaoh hard-hearted so he would be lost? God wanted him to be lost? Why would God want to be an accomplice to sin?" No, God sent circumstances, and He knew that those circumstances would harden Pharaoh's heart. There's also nine times where it says Pharaoh hardened his own heart. So when He says to Isaiah, "Go preach to this people," and in preaching, he'll be saying, "In hearing, you will hear and not understand," He knew they were going to harden their hearts because they had become proud during the latter years of Isaiah because of prosperity and abundance and wealth. The people felt they didn't need the Lord.

What did Moses say over and over? You read in Deuteronomy, Moses said, "Be careful when you enter into the Promised Land and you chase out all the Canaanites and you move into houses you did not build," nice, big houses, two-story houses, "and you drink from wells that you did not dig, and you eat from trees that you did not plant, and you eat from vineyards that you did not plant," and he says, "and you become fat." That's what he says. Beware that you do not forget the Lord, who gave you all these things. It's human nature that when-- that's why it says it's harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

We can become self-sufficient where we think we don't need God or we don't think about God. You know, we really think about just ourselves and our earthly pleasures and our goals and ambitions, and we don't really make seeking first God's Kingdom a priority. There's prosperity can be a blessing. Prosperity can be a curse. There's a statement in the "Spirit of Prophecy," and you'll have to look it up because I don't remember the reference, but I know what it says.

Sometimes the devil will cast prosperity into a person's path to destroy them. Some of you are praying you'd win the lottery. I hope you're not playing the lottery, but I think the devil helps some people win the lottery, and they're destroyed by abundance. I think it was Benjamin Franklin-- it's true even if it was Franklin. He said, "More people are destroyed by abundance than want." "More people are destroyed by abundance than want." "Want," meaning "scarcity." And so this is what had happened. They had become so rich and so wealthy that He said, "I know, as you preach to them, preach, but you'll preach, and they're just going to turn away their-- they're going to have eyes; they won't see. They'll have ears; they won't hear."

This is what Jesus encountered when He was preaching to the religious leaders. Some believed, but the vast majority of the scribes and the Pharisees, they closed their eyes, and what did they do when Stephen was tried? They plugged their ears when Stephen was preaching about Jesus, didn't they? They stopped the ears. The very thing that he said. In Isaiah 6, verse 11, "Then I said, 'Lord, how long?' And He, God, answered, 'Until the cities are laid waste without inhabitant--'" He's talking about the Babylonian destruction. "The houses are without a man, the land is utterly desolate."

This is what it says in Jeremiah chapter 4, that there'd be no man. The land would be desolate. "That the Lord has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are in the midst of the land. But yet a tenth will be in it--" there was a remnant that remained-- "and return and be for her consuming--" the remnant that remain, they ended up becoming unfaithful, and they went to Egypt where they were consumed. But God promised-- He says, "But as a terebinth tree or as an oak, whose stump remains when it is cut down--" doesn't that sound like Daniel chapter 4? Tree that is cut down, that it comes back again. Israel would come back again-- "whose stump remains when it's cut down. So the holy seed shall be in its stump."

They would return and flourish again as a nation, which the people of Israel have done on several occasions. And so this is an amazing-- this is a great prophecy. Talks about what the conversion experience is, and it explains the seven-- want me to review those seven steps with you real quick? See God, one, then you see yourself, "Woe is me." You repent, see God in His holiness, see yourself, you repent, three; four, confess. Five, you receive God then hear the voice of God, and then you go for God. And this is what all of us need to do in the steps of salvation.

Well, I hope you learned something along the way. For those who are tuning in, you didn't catch us earlier, I'd like to make sure you know about the free offer today. It's called "The Brook Dried Up: Why Do Christians Suffer?" And if you'd like a free copy of this, just text "SH074" to 40544 and ask for Offer Number 171 if you call in. If you call, it's 866-788-3966. God bless you, and Lord willing, we'll study His Word together again next week.

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Doug: Friends, if you're scared of snakes, this may not be for you. I'm here at a reptile park outside of Durban, South Africa, and I'm holding my friend here who's a Red Tail Boa. Snakes are found all over the world, and they come in all sizes. Snakes can be found through the trees. They crawl on the ground. They live under the ground, and they swim in the water. Very interesting creatures.

Some snakes are venomous, not my friend here, but the black mamba-- very poisonous. [hissing] Matter of fact, their bite is often referred to as "the kiss of death." They can grow 15 feet long and can travel up to 7 miles an hour. They don't call them black mambas because of the color of their skin, but the interior of their mouth is black. Snakes also come in all sizes. Like this boa or a python, they can grow to great sizes. Matter of fact, in South America, they found some fossils of a snake that they call "Titanoboa." They believe it was as big as 50 feet long and weighed as much as a car. Say "cheese."

A lot of people are scared of snakes. I used to live in a mountain in a cave, and I ran into snakes frequently. They never bothered me unless I was bothering them. In the Bible, the snake is often a symbol of the devil. In reality, it's just a symbol. They're animals like other animals. But it says they were cursed to go upon their belly because they were the first medium that the devil used to tempt Adam and Eve. In the book of Numbers chapter 21, it tells a story of how, when the children of Israel were going through the wilderness, they began to complain about God's manna, and it says, "The Lord allowed these fiery serpents to go among the people, and many were bitten," and the venom was deadly.

I should probably mention, at this point, that bread they were complaining about is a symbol for the Word of God. As many of the people were dying from this plague of serpents, they went unto Moses, and they said, "What shall we do?" God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole and lift it up, that whoever looked upon the serpent, they would be healed of their venom. This is why it's so important because Jesus says in the Gospel of John chapter 3, verse 14 and 15, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that whoever believes in him might not perish but have everlasting life."

They needed to look and to live. You see, those ancient shepherds, when they would kill a venomous snake, they would carry it off on their staff and bury it. So a serpent on a pole represented a defeated snake. It's talking about defeating the devil, friends. Have you been bitten by the serpent? We all have. The only cure for the venom of Satan is to look in faith at Jesus. He then defeated the devil. He took the venom of sin in His body to provide the antidote in His blood. So, friends, I encourage you to look today and live.

Ashley: I grew up in Northern New Jersey, just about 35 minutes out of New York City, and I grew up in a famous family. And so my father played for the New York Giants for nine years. That's how we ended up where we were. He also played for the San Francisco 49ers, and he was in the Pro Bowl. He won two Super Bowls. And I also had an older brother who played professional baseball, so I had a lot to live up to. Everything we did was based around sports. That was my life, and I loved it, but inside I was-- I struggled daily with insecurity, lacking confidence. You know, I would look at myself in the mirror and not-- and would not see good things about myself. I started to put all my energy into soccer, and I decided that I was going to go far with that.

So I ended up getting a scholarship to play in the University of Miami. I was being pulled in these, like, two directions of, you know, wanting to live this party lifestyle with my teammates, and I was so engulfed in soccer and school, but I also had this, like, strong, yearning desire to serve God, and I was just struggling to figure out the balance and how to do that. I was in Sin City, in Miami, and I couldn't-- I felt like I was swimming upstream. And I just felt like I couldn't breathe. I had everything everyone would've wanted. I had everything. I had a scholarship to pay for school. I was playing a sport. I was the captain of my team. I was in Miami. I was--I had a great family. I had a lot of friends.

But where was God? It was--all of that is meaningless unless I had Him. And the lifeline that He gave me was this soft whisper in my ear, saying, "Go." I just remember, "Go." So I decided to go, and I spent two months in Kenya and two months in Uganda, and God was saving me by sending me there. It was God's prescription for my life, for my existence. When I returned from Africa, I went back to school. I finished school, finished soccer. I went to the University of Tennessee to get my master's when I met my husband.

Our motto in life was we wanted to live in reckless abandon for our Creator and whatever that was, whatever that looked like, and, you know, we've traveled, and we've done mission work, but we've mostly been in Tennessee, and when we spent the summer apart a year after that we were married, and it was the summer of 2015, when we came back together, he's like, "I have some things I want to share with you. I want you to listen to this." And we were on a 14-hour car ride, and he just started playing this "Prophecy Code" all the way back from 2005, and it was so clear, and I just was comprehending it so well. You know, after a couple, like, three or four, I was like, "I need a break. My mind is going to, like, explode from all this, information overload," and everything that I thought I had known about the Bible and about Scripture is just completely different. I was in shock.

Everything that I was hearing, it was like Scripture is proving Scripture is proving Scripture. My heart was, like, changing in that car ride because it's like learning more about God than I ever had before. After that car ride and after listening to the whole "Prophecy Code," my life was completely changed. He's become more real to us than He ever had been before, and that has pushed us to disciple and to minister to others and share with them what we know. My name is Ashley, and I want to thank you for changing my life.

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