Isaiah 53:8

By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

What do you think of when you think of oppression?  The word “oppression” brings a lot of negative things to mind for me – slavery, arpartheid, the holocaust, communism, etc.  I think of persecution, torture, murder – all for no reason other than someone’s sick desire to own or destroy.  Which is exactly what the religious leaders of the day wanted to do – destroy Jesus.

Sadly, we have seen many religious leaders, and even religious people, attempt this same thing through the years since Christ walked the earth, even today……  The thief truly does come to steal, kill and destroy, and he’ll use any means – even those we are trained to trust.  Add to that, we who are in Christ are not exempt from his lies, temptations, deceiftul ways.  We must guard our hearts at all times, and rely on the truth of who we are in Christ.

“Who can speak of his descendents?”  WE are his descendents, if we believe in him!  We have become children of God through the redeeming blood of Christ, and by believing in the one God sent!  The enemy will try and tell you otherwise, tell you you’re arrogant or single-minded in thinking this way.  But you must remember what you know.  I love how Peter reminds us not to forget, over and over in his letters.  Here is a passage from 2 Peter 3 that I love:

Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.  I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.  They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”  But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.  By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

The enemy will also come as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, attempting to destroy the church that Christ built.  When you ask many what church is, they often give an answer like “a building where a bunch of religious people go”, or “Sunday morning ritual”, or “a place for hypocrates to hang out”.  When religion is talked about, it’s often talked about with disdain, and maybe even anger.  It’s important to note two things:

1.  Christ formed the church.  WE are the church.  The body of Christ.  Not some building, or some ritual – WE are.  So if we aren’t doing what Christ called us to do in this capacity, we are helping to make this negative image about the church a truth…..

2.  God hates religion too.  I scoured his word, looking for the words “religion” and “religious”.  This is the only verse I could find that was a positive one – and it’s a charge to us, really, on how we are supposed to respond to God’s love:

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Are we keeping a tight reign on our tongues?  Are we looking after orphans and widows?  Are we keeping ourselves from being polluted by the world?

Or are we decieving ourselves, rendering our religion, and ourselves, worthless?  Are we following Jesus’ commandments to love God with all that we have and to love our neighbors as ourselves – or are we taking him away with oppression and judgment?

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

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