The Fall of Jerusalem

“The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me; The ox knows its owner And the donkey its master’s crib; But Israel does not know, My people do not consider.” Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, They have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward. Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, There is no soundness in it, But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; They have not been closed or bound up, Or soothed with ointment. Your country is desolate, Your cities are burned with fire; Strangers devour your land in your presence; And it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, As a hut in a garden of cucumbers, As a besieged city. Unless the Lord of hosts Had left to us a very small remnant, We would have become like Sodom, We would have been made like Gomorrah. Hear the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law of our God, You people of Gomorrah: “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, To trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭1‬:‭1‬-‭20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Just as God promised Abraham, a great nation was formed, and in order for God to be with them, He instructed them to build a tabernacle by which He was with them in the wilderness. Then finally, He led them to Canaan, namely Jerusalem to settle there. In Jerusalem, they built a sturdy temple using stones and wood, for they no longer had to move around.

The moment when this was finished, the people of Israel exclaimed that all the promises which God had made to their forefather Abraham were fulfilled and had pride because of the fact that God became their God and they a chosen people, a nation above all others. And they lived up to their pride, for at that time, Israel became the most powerful nation in the surrounding region so that neighboring countries could not dare touch them. Furthermore, people from other countries like Egypt and Ethiopia came to see the glory and wisdom of Israel. The queen of the South, the queen of Sheba, came with tributes of all kinds of precious gifts and went back with the seed of Israel so that descendants of Israel spread throughout the land. That was the fame of Israel.

Therefore, in those days, Israel was known as the most powerful country in the world. It was a confirmation of the fulfilment of God’s promise to them. What were they like from then on? They lived with the strong faith that their kingdom would never fall or be shaken and the throne of David will last forever since the great and most powerful God, who is the Creator, established their kingdom. And they endeavored to obey God’s words.

However, their old ways and customs, which were evident during their time in the desert, were still apparent despite their effort to eradicate them. They were not obedient to God’s words. Yet they were courageous. Why? Because they were already married. Before they got married, they had to act nicely. But once they got married, they were different. They had no fears since they already got married, and God will never leave them. Because God said He will never forsake them, they became relieved and started doing whatever they wanted. They sinned, and just as it said in this passage, they did not plead for the widow. They oppressed the weak, and so on. But it was not for these things they were being condemned, but it was their fear of God which manifested in such conduct.

So all they had was the pride from the fact that God was with them; they gradually forgot about the need to obey God’s commands. Yet, they still had a strong sense of pride. Why? Because God was in their midst. For God was in the midst of them in the temple physically and His ark was with them, they believed that no one would dare come against them. They believed that the power of God was in the ark. Hence, they even took the ark with them when they went to war. They thought they would win as long as they had the ark. But they lost the ark once. And when the Philistines realized they were cursed on account of the ark, they returned it to Israel, and that is how they recovered it. So then they became complacent again and became arrogant, thinking that they were invincible because of the ark. They became puffed up with arrogance, that they were the best nation and no other nation would be able to overthrow them. All they had to do – so they thought – was to just slaughter bulls and sheep and offer them to God. All the while, they paid no attention to the word God spoke to them. They believed they were fine since God was with them and they had a sacred and spiritual place.

However, later on, the nation was divided into north and south. The people in the north departed from the spiritual place and thus became their weakness. They believed that as long as they worshiped God sincerely according to the Law, where they worshipped did not matter. “Do we have to have the temple in Jerusalem? Do we have to have the ark?” This was their attitude. And what was their end result? They were destroyed early on by Assyria. After witnessing their fall, the people of Judah and Benjamin thought, “They were wrong. We are right. Being spiritual is important. As long as the temple of Jerusalem is with us, we won’t perish.” These people also did not learn from their own brothers’ fall. They thought they were different. Because God was there, the temple was there, the ark was there, and the angel of the Lord Jehovah appeared there to meet them, they believed they were never going to perish and became complacent. While doing this, they were uninterested in God’s word. They had no intention of obeying.

If they had truly ruminated over the promise given to Abraham, they would not have done that. What did God say to Abraham? “I will bless you.” And He did. And what was promised next? “Through you all nations on earth shall be blessed.” If they had known this, they would have understood God’s will – that it was not for them to be blessed and become the best in the world but that through them, all nations on earth should be blessed. If they had known God’s will, they would have done something about to fulfil that. However, they did not have that in their hearts but were filled with the idea that they were different from others, better than others and that the rest of the people were dogs and pigs. They despised other nations. All the while doing so, they disobeyed God’s word. Finally, the prophet Isaiah warns them. ‘You will perish if you continue in your ways.’ And a few chapters later in chapter 3, he prophesies of the fall of Jerusalem. Yet the people refuse to listen. Rather, they tried to kill Isaiah. They did not think they would perish. But in the end, they did.

This time, they fell into the hands of Babylon and how horribly and atrociously they were treated that even the king was killed in a wretched and horrible way. He watched his own children dying before him. He had to see his pregnant concubines’ wombs being cut open, the babies taken out and struck against rocks. He had to witness that happen. Afterwards, his eyes were gouged out. That was the final memory he was left with. I am talking about King Josiah. And then he gets taken to Babylon, where he is brutally killed. If that is how the king was killed, how much worse are the people? So they went through hell.

What happened with God being with them? Was God really with them? They were in anguish. They were in a panic attack. That is when they realized and came to their senses. What was the reason for this happening to them? How were they going to seek God all the way in Babylon? God was in Jerusalem. How were they supposed to seek God, and where can they draw nearer to Him? The only thing they could rely on was the word. From afar, they reminisced over the old days, longing for God and began to read the scriptures. They repented for about 60-70 years of how they did not obey God’s word. When they finally realized that everything which happened was the result of their disobedience to God’s word, they were finally brought back to Jerusalem after about 70 years.

The word. The word. The word. Although they realized that they needed to live according to the word, they did not have the power to. Despite their realization they were lacking in power. Thus, they get cursed later again. Through this, we see that God was definitely with them physically. But that was not enough. They had to obey the word He had spoken.

Similarly, we receive the Holy Spirit today. The Holy Spirit abides in us. We are temples. But that is when people become complacent. Such people are no different from the Israelites back in those times.

‘Since God is within me, I won’t go to hell regardless of what I do. I won’t perish no matter what. God is with me.’ Yet these people do not obey the word, nor are they mindful of what God actually wants. What they do have is a strong belief that God is with them. But this is the same attitude that the people of Judah had when they perished in the hands of Babylon.

Even today, people rely only on the fact that they received the Holy Spirit. Because it says the Holy Spirit never leaves us once He comes, they make this a doctrine. As a result, they claim that if one received the Holy Spirit, but he still goes to hell, that means the Holy Spirit also goes to hell because He is supposed to never leave us. Therefore, they claim that it is impossible for one to go to hell once he receives the Holy Spirit. Thus, they become complacent.

Presbyterian doctrine and Pentecostal doctrine are combined together to create this kind of doctrine. That is why people become self-assured. They think they are okay to do whatever they want. Hence, they become morally corrupt and spiritually depraved. However, what is the reason the Holy Spirit came into us? The Bible says He is the Spirit of truth who teaches us the truth. That means we have to listen to the words of Jesus to have the truth. If we simply receive the Holy Spirit but ignore Jesus and His words – the Son’s words – how can the Holy Spirit guides us into the truth?

People hate listening to the truth, which is why they do not read the Bible or try to obey. Such people may claim to be saved but have the potential to forfeit their salvation. Why? They claim that they believe in Jesus, and yes, if one believes in Jesus, he will go to heaven. He definitely will not go to hell. He will not go to hell on account of his moral sins. However, if he hates the truth and keeps living that way, God will not leave him alone. God will send him a delusion so that, ultimately, that person departs from the truth. Despite having received the Holy Spirit, if he himself did not desire and love the truth, refusing to have the truth in his heart, he will continually sin and act according to the lust of his flesh. In the end, he will be unable to give his ways and his desires that he forsakes the truth. At that moment, he forfeits the salvation he had. Hence, the Bible warns us against that. Let us read 2 Thessalonians 2. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.

“and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

A person who had once received the Holy Spirit spoke in tongues and testified about Jesus suddenly goes over to maybe Shincheonji where they believe Jesus has already come, or to the Eastern Lightning Church of China, where they deny Jesus. It is debatable whether or not such a person did receive the Holy Spirit, but the persons who claim to have received the Holy Spirit and spoken in tongues turn out like that. They were not satisfied with receiving the Holy Spirit. If one does not love the truth and does not receive the love of the truth, God will make them believe the lie so that they are subject to judgment later. Hence, we cannot become complacent. We must not ignore the truth simply relying on the fact that the Holy Spirit is within us.

The reason we cannot act rashly, even in the smallest matter, is because of this delusion. But some would say, “Because I am chosen, and I’ve been saved, I won’t ever perish.” They claim that though they might become corrupt, in the end, God will lead them to pull them out of it, and therefore they would never perish. However, what the Bible warns is that if we do not love the truth and do not retain the truth in our hearts, God will send a delusion so that we believe the lie and thus perish. We are warned.

We are not only warned with words, but the history of Israel in itself is a warning. They became complacent, relying on the fact that God was with them and did not obey the word, which brought about such consequences. And this is a metaphor for the spiritual.
Today, we need to be more careful because we received the Berean mission. If we were to think that we are more superior than others and the rest of the people deserve to perish because we have the Berean mission and the word of truth and think that we will not perish because of the mission to spread this precious word to the rest of the world, we are no different to Israel. God did not give this to us to feel a sense of superiority; we are the people who have the duty to quickly let others know God and be blessed, and therefore, we have more to sacrifice and have to bear more suffering. All because we received more. But if we start to feel superior and consider ourselves better than others, we may perish one day without even realizing it. The lampstand may be removed.

Thus, if we know we are blessed, then we need to quickly let others be blessed. Our focus should not be on anything else but on God’s word. Jesus said that whoever pays attention to God’s word, has the word in his heart and obeys is the one who loves Him. Let us pray that we will be those who are obedient to the words of Jesus; that we will not be self-satisfied at the fact that we have received the Holy Spirit but become those who obey Jesus’ words and testify about God.

Our Heavenly Father, the blessings and joy we have received from you are so immense that we cannot contain them. We are also entrusted with the responsibility and mission to share these blessings with all people, as you have commanded. Heavenly Father, grant us the power and blessings to fulfill this work completely. May we hold on to the truth of the Holy Spirit and not be satisfied, but rather help us discern your will and be obedient to it. There are many challenges, but our Heavenly Father, please be with us, and show us the evidence of your presence, giving us the strength to overcome all these difficulties. Furthermore, help us serve in your holy work in a peaceful environment. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on November 19, 2012
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team