Straightening the Crooked Places
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Luk 3:5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;

Sept 13, 2006                Straightening the Crooked Places                    Kathleen Maples

Isa 45:1 Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;

This is an interesting story, about Cyrus. Though I rarely consult commentaries, for once I am glad I did on this one for I got some great background information of which I wasn't aware. It's historical in nature but it helped me understand what the Lord is saying here a little better. I read how they used to wear tunics which fit closely to their bodies and and long, flowing outer robes. When they prepared to travel, fight, or work, they tied these long robes up with a sash around their waist, hence the term "gird up the loins". To loose them, means that they would be comfortable, at rest, and unprepared for an enemy, in this case. We would do well to take that into consideration when we we remember what Peter said:
1 Pe 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

As I read that Scripture, I wondered, why would you need extra grace brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ? Immediately I thought of John, and went to the Scriptures in Revelation 1. What did he say and do when confronted with an unveiled Christ? He who had always been most secure in the love and light of the Lord the three years he was His did it affect John when faced with the revelation of Jesus Christ in His glory and majesty? And when I read how John reacted to the revelation of Christ, I thought, yes, when confronted with such might, such understanding of His glory, and power, and perfection, we will definitely need grace to survive the encounter. I believe it's possible to come to a better understanding of who He is NOW-this side of eternity. Before the rapture. But we have to die to self and flesh to have it. I know we do. We can't be casual about the things of God and get that close to HIM.

Rev 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

In 538 BC, as king of the Medes and the Persians, Cyrus brought his army against Babylon. At the time, the king of Babylon, Belshazzar, whose name means "prince of Bel, or Baal," was holding a feast. He was to be the last of the Babylonian kings that would rule over the people of God in captivity. He was still a young man and they were drinking and having a party, and drinking wine from the holy vessels taken from the temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar, his grandfather had carried away 70 years earlier when they conquered Israel. But on this night, they were celebrating, reveling, thinking they were in control of the holy things of God, and remember at this time the people of God were still captives in Babylon. They were making a mockery out of using the sacred vessels of God to drink their wine from. God had already stirred up Cyrus to go against Babylon. I did some checking, and the city was enclosed with outer walls, and there were even inner walls within the city on each side of the Euphrates river, and there were gates which gave the people access to the river. If these gates had been left closed, according to what I read, and if the inhabitants of Babylon had been on guard, and had a watch right there on the other side of the riverbank, at just that end of the city, they could have easily hemmed them in and defeated Cyrus and his army and destroyed them all. If they had known he was coming, or had been on guard, and prepared, they could have overcome. But they were caught unprepared. They were feasting, not watching, and reveling, and defiling the golden vessels of God. When the handwriting appeared on the wall, Belshazzar, according to Scripture, was very troubled, and "the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another." Dan_5:6. None of his astrologers or wise men could interpret the writing.

But, how ironic that Belshazzar offered up to a third of the kingdom he was about to lose to the one who could interpret the writing. Daniel refused his gifts, and stood there in the presence of this pagan king who was supposed to be his captor, as this king was trembling with fear and here stands the child of God, reminding this man about his grandfather, how God had honored him with the kingdom, the power, and majesty and glory. He reminded him about how God had humbled the proud Nebuchadnezzar by driving him from the men and giving him a beast's heart, and he dwelled in the fields with the animals 7 years. Knowing this, Belshazzar had not humbled himself, but instead had lifted up himself against God, by taking the vessels of the house of God and drunk wine in them while praising idols. "And the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified." (Dan_5:23 Then he informs him it's over that his kingdom would be taken from him. That night he was killed when Cyrus and his army took the city. God stirred up Cyrus to go against the Babylonians. It was God's timing that they were unprepared and careless. God knew Belshazzar hadn't learned from what had happened to his grandfather. Now, back to Isaiah 45.

Isa 45:2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:

The Scripture says the Lord is a man of war, a great and mighty God, Exo_15:3 and He will go before thee-ahead of you, to make the crooked places straight. What exactly does that mean? Crooked means that which exalts itself, swells up, claims honor and adorns itself, according the Strong's Hebrew Dictionary, and the Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Definitions. How much pride do you think was left in Belshazzar after he saw the handwriting on the wall and Daniel interpreted it to him? I'd say he was in denial, trying to bestow riches and things that were fast slipping through his fingers on a man who did not want them. Now apply it to your life. Consider those things that would exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, whether it's flesh, carnal minds, or the enemy of your soul. It may be attitudes of the heart, thoughts, proud in nature, that would seek to operate independently of God. And what does the Scripture say do with these?

2Co 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

2Co 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;)

2Co 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

We are to throw down every carnal reasoning, or thought that our minds could imagine that does not line up with the Word of God. And saints, we must have DIVINE HELP to do this on a daily basis-thought by thought. Every high place, every barrier that our carnal minds would throw up to protect flesh from the will of God, (for flesh doesn't want to be denied its own way and be crucified) all these we are to cast down in the mighty name of Jesus. At the name of Jesus, every knee must bow and every tongue must confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father. He said if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we could say to that mountain, move, and it will be cast into the sea.....

Everything in us that would exalt itself above God, our own thoughts above what the Word of God says-we are to cast it down on the authority of the Word of God, through and in the power of the Name of Jesus Christ. Every one of these that would lift itself up against the knowledge of God, we are to bind with the Word of God and bring into captivity. Render it helpless. The Lord said "Is not my word as a hammer that breaketh into pieces?" (Jer_23:29) He is a consuming fire, nothing can survive in His presence of the flesh. It has to be burnt up. Just as Dagon the Philistines' idol lost his head and his hands when the ark of God was placed in there with him, nothing can stand in the presence of the Holy God but that which He causes to stand-that which is holy, and clean. PRAISE GOD for the blood of Jesus!!!!!

He says he will make the crooked places straight! He will straighten out anything, make it right, and level! He will make what is crooked right, pleasant, and pleasing in His sight. Hallelujah!! Clay, do you hear what the Potter can do and will do? He will break in pieces the gates of brass!! Now why would that excite me so? Well, I was digging into these Scriptures carefully, thoughtfully. I have been stuck on these Scriptures for several days now, and haven't really been able to get away from them. I've prayed for understanding Luk_24:45; Psa_119:18; Jer_33:3. I've spent hours considering, pondering just verse 2 and 3 in Isa. 45, and I'll tell you why. I have been feeling (oh, not a good word-we walk by faith not feelings (*sigh*) I know) but God has been speaking some things into my heart this year that He wants to accomplish in me. And my heart has leapt with joy and thrilled at what He said but the closer you get to the Light, the easier it is to see the spots and wrinkles and blemishes-and the more you realize how helpless you are to achieve that which your heart desires-HIM-in HIS fullness-living and ruling in ME that which He will. That which He spoke to my heart-and if you read some of the notes I've written here, it's plain to see I've been studying from the children's journey through the wilderness into the promises of God. I have been so dissatisfied with me, and there are other circumstances, but the other night, Saturday night after I got home from church, I sure was fighting in my mind that spiritual warfare the preacher had preached on that night, and just feeling absolutely disgusted with myself. I went to bed as soon as I could get the children settled, and in my heart I just silently cried out to God for help. I lay there in the darkness, meditating on how wonderful HE is and longing for HIM, to be more like HIM, to not feel like I was feeling, and so many other things, things I know are in His will, that I haven't seen accomplished yet. And for just a brief period while I was sleeping I had one of the shortest dreams I've ever had. I saw a triangle. A steel triangle, about the size of this pc monitor on my desk. I saw a man's hand with a small replica of the triangle engraved on the back of the hand, thrust through the triangle and I heard the Lord say "I'm going to straighten out the crooked places." Now the triangle has to imply the Triune Godhead...the Precious Father, the Beloved Son, and the Wonderful Comforter...

That was it. Short, and too the point. But I can't tell you what it did for my peace of mind. My Father just amazes me-with just those few words, he refreshed and renewed my hope. Oh, I can't tell you how I love Him. He is the Desire of my heart. I long to see my loved ones come to know Him-He is so precious..... And then, when I went to the Word to find that, because what He said in my dream I knew I'd read in His Word, so I went looking.

Isa 40:4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: (see also Luk_3:5)

Isa 42:16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

Every low place, every one who is walking in the valley will be exalted because He's going to lift up the valley. He's bringing us through! Every mountain, every problem, will be made low. Then, I found this one in Isa_43:2. It just seemed to stand out to me, because Isa_45:3 had been on my heart for awhile. God had a precious sister in our church get up and read this one Scripture 3 times over a period of weeks. It was on my heart before she started reading it. I was amazed when she got up and read it three different services, with no comment, just said the Lord had directed her to read this Scripture and she didn't know why. But it stirred up a hunger in me. And then I began to wonder "Lord, are you seeing if you have any takers on this? You are offering treasures of darkness, hidden riches of secret places," and I thought "Lord, I want this! I'll take it!" So here I am now.

He said I will break in pieces the gates of brass...and as I sat outside watching my daughter play in her sandbox the other day, chewing on this, digging, the Lord began to help me understand more. The gates are a door, an entrance, if you will. An entry and an exit place. Gates of brass? I considered brass very carefully. It's shiny on the outside, but inside, it's a mixture of copper, and zinc-the key word being "mixture". It's shiny yellow on the outside, like gold, but it tarnishes easily, because inside it is not pure, it is a mixture of other things. According to Easton's Bible Dictionary, "it is a symbol of insensibility, and obstinacy in sin, and of strength." It can also mean (figuratively) impudence or arrogance. Have you ever heard the expression "they sure had a lot of brass to say that to them!" Brass is a pale imitation of gold. In appearance, they look somewhat alike. But one is valuable, and has substance, and is pure. The other is not valuable and is not pure.

2Co 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

2Co 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

2Co 11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

I began to see and understand, that every inroad the enemy has made into the minds of God's children, if we will let Him, the Lord wants to break it in pieces. He wants to expose it for what it is and destroy that which has hindered us from going forward with God far too long. He said I will break in pieces the gates of brass and cut in sunder the bars of iron. What did John say in Matthew 3?

Mat 3:10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

In the original Hebrew that word sunder means to cut asunder, bring down, destroy, hew down. To cut that which binds!!!! BDB says it's to chop off or cut off. Glory to God! Can you see it?

Isa 10:27 And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.

(*Emphasis and underlines mine)

I believe the Lord is saying he's going to send the Word of God which is quick (alive) and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword (Heb_4:12) under the anointing that will break in pieces the lies and fear the enemy has sown in the minds of God's children. I praise Him for this because I have battled this myself for years! The enemy never gives up. We just have to look to God who is our shield, our defense and our strong tower! These strongholds that have hindered us, these places in our hearts and minds, where the enemy has found a place to lie to us, to condemn us, to accuse us, to frighten or intimidate us into not standing on the Word of ALMIGHTY GOD, just like he did when Israel was camped, ready to cross over Jordan and go into the promised land the first time, and he brought an evil report back in the mouths of 10 of their brethren.

These bars of iron, I looked that up and couldn't believe my eyes. It means tribulation, a fortress, like a prison. Iron is a symbol of a yoke of oppression and control. A rod, a stern government that rules, severe labor, fetters that bind. The Lord is our deliverer and He has promised to deliver us! If you are battling anything like this, then I encourage you to lift up your head and remember He said "Look unto me and be saved!" Trust Him! He will not fail or forsake you!

Isa 45:3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.

He wants us to know Him. He wants us to know of a surety HE's the One who called us and what He's called us to. To give something means to bestow, add to, bring forth, to pour out willingly. It also means to deliver up, distribute, without fail, to offer, restore, thrust, to strike or ordain. God is going to strike a blow to the kingdom of darkness. Lord help me, I am in over my head here-but that which is above my head is under His precious feet. Did He not say He was going to pour out His Spirit on all flesh? I believe the Lord is also going to spill the beans on the workings of the devil to those who have been blinded by what he's been doing to them for so long! I will give thee (remember He said WHOSOEVER WILL, COME) the treasures of darkness....

Treasures means a depository, a store house. A place in which to put something valuable. (Are we not the temple of the Holy Ghost?) It's to store supplies of food and drink (in this case Spiritual food and living water!) Also an armory in which to store weapons. (BDB + Strongs's) Darkness: (Hebrew "chosheck" pronounced "khoshek") the dark, misery, destruction, death, ignorance and sorrow, wickedness, night, obscurity. Folks, the Word of God says weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. The Joy of the Lord is our strength. He is the Bright and Morning Star! He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He started it and he will finish it. Our job is to listen, seek Him, and obey what He shows us. And trust Him for the strength to do what He has commanded. We can't do it in our own strength. Darkness and light are alike to Him, according to Psalms 139.

Psa 139:12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, he's going to expose the weapons of the enemy that we haven't understood. He's going to give us the victory-at least He's going to help us see for ourselves the Victory has already come. Satan was defeated by Christ long before you and I were born. But he doesn't want us to know that. The hidden riches of secret places....

I want to look at the word secret for a moment. In the Hebrew the word is "mistawr" and I figure that's where we get our word "mystery" from. It means a concealer, covert, secret place.

Mat 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

Are you smiling yet? I am! There is a secret treasure, and weapons, buried deep in the Word of God, truths so profound, but not visible to the natural eye. It requires eyes anointed with spiritual eye salve, prayer and meditation and digging into this Word. Somebody who casually reads the Word of God will never see it. If you read this Precious Book hurriedly, without stopping to consider what you read, and pray about it to God when you don't understand and ask and seek for revelation, you cheat yourself out of treasures the likes of which this world could not ever match or even compare...

Pro 31:16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

Remember the virtuous woman of Prov 31? What a beautiful picture of the Bride of Christ this paints. I did a study on that once, as the Lord helped me see that these Scriptures mean a lot more than just something to read for the moms in church on Mother's Day. (See the article "The Bride of Christ". ) You take this Word of God in your hands and you are faced with a choice as a believer. You consider it. Will you take it as the Constitution that completely governs your life, as the Love Letter from your Father to you, as the ROAD MAP-He said He was THE WAY, will you consider the Field, and buy it? Will you forsake the world, the flesh, the carnal, and eagerly embrace the Word of God and sell out completely to It? With the fruit, or work of your hands will you dig into His Word and let Him sow righteous seed in your life and your families' lives? You will have to have it to stand in these last days. When the heat is turned up, and the storms are raging, and wars and disasters increase, and the pressure mounts, the chaff will be blown away. This Word of God in us is what will hold us up. It's that simple, saints. You can't just take your Bible to church with you and wait until then to read it. Or worse, trust that whomever is in the Pulpit is reading it right and let them do your reading for you. It doesn't work like that. That devil will steal it from you before you make it out the door of the church.

"That thou mayest know that I, the LORD which call thee by thy name am the God of Israel."

He wants us to know HE is the One who has called us and He's called us by name, and He wants us to know HE IS GOD ALONE. The devil can't destroy us or pluck us out of HIS hand, the gates of hell cannot prevail against the Bride of Jesus Christ. Just as God moved and cleared the way for Cyrus to invade and destroy Babylon, He's moving even now, preparing the way, and strengthening His people, arming us to fight and to stand in these last days!

There is an unprecedented onslaught against the minds and hearts of Christians. You can't even walk in the grocery store without facing it. The magazine racks are almost pornographic. The headlines blaze with sensuality and carnal passions designed to inflame flesh. Every godly woman who desires to live holy and pure, every young girl who desires to remain pure until marriage, and dress with modesty, and hold her integrity is pressed by a society who is casting off what little restraint has remained, and it's in your face sensuality, and sexuality. Society tries to convince women they need to look a certain way, to act a certain way, dress a certain way. Every man who would live godly is faced with this bold temptation of all this exposed flesh and sensuality. It's a thinly veiled ploy of the enemy of your soul to pull you away from the straight path. It caters to the lost crowd, who are already in darkness and think this is okay. But it is an assault against the heart of the child of God, both male and female. In our schools our children are taught lies. There is tolerance for everything except Christ. You can mention God, but don't you dare pray in Jesus' name, they say. TV has degenerated so badly almost anything goes now. Only God by the power of His Holy Spirit can keep (guard and preserve) the hearts and minds of His children, of our young people, from the plans and devices of the wicked one. God is able to smash to smithereens the devices of the world, the flesh and the devil.

He subdued nations before Cyrus. He can subdue anything that needs subduing before His children. Remember, He loves us, He paid an unspeakable price for us. You consider the Catholics who trust more in Mary and the Priest than Jesus and His shed blood. The Buddhist's trust a small fat statue of a man who claims peace can only be found through self effort and meditation or something like that. The Mormons hold Joseph Smith high as Christ-and He will not share His glory with another. The Hindus starve while worshiping animals God made to feed people. The wiccans worship the earth they live on, and the elements of the winds and nature. The Moslem crowd worships a man who tells them to kill everyone who does not agree with their militant beliefs. Many Americans worship fame and fortune and self-they have their idols by the thousands. And Christianity-so called, stamps the name of Jesus Christ on tee shirts, book bags, Bible Covers, candles, jewelry, and numerous other things, making merchandise out of that which is HOLY and it's all idolatry.  It is taking His Holy Name in vain. His name is to be revered, not marketed and sold. Do I think it's wrong to have a Bible Cover with a Scripture on it? No. Do I think it's wrong to pay 50 bucks for an elaborately typed Scripture with a pretty picture in the background just to hang on the wall when there are starving children around the world, and people who would love to have a Bible but can't afford one or aren't allowed one because of corrupt governments? Where do you think the Lord would prefer I spend that 50 bucks? On something religious that doesn't really profit, but looks nice on the wall, or invest in the souls He died to save? I recently was online, and ordered some things from a Christian website-so called. I say that because they are selling a book by a man who pastors a church in Kansas, Paul Smith. He has written a book "Is it okay to call God Mother?" And then he sets forth with Scriptures, the ad said, to explain how there are depths to God we haven't yet seen and it's okay to call Him mother." Now, this book belongs in one place-the garbage. No wonder the world takes Christianity so lightly. There should be a guard set up against this. Anything does not go. You can't stamp the name of Christ on something-that HOLY name-and mass market it to make a buck and call it Christian.     People, beware.

Out of all the idols in the world, of the peoples in the world, there is only ONE true GOD. He lowered himself and took on flesh and came into this world and endured shame, torture, mockery and blasphemy and let wicked men kill Him. He knew the grave could not hold Him. I can't imagine the love this took...but I am so grateful. Mohammad did not sacrifice for the people-he slaughtered those who got in his way. The religions of this world, their idols or the men they built their theology on, they did not suffer and sacrifice for men. Many slaughtered and shed innocent blood. Many have made such unreasonable demands on people in the name of money and power. Only God, who had everything, sent His Beloved Son, to die for us. He showed us what it was about-love and sacrifice for others. Fellowship with HIM. Do any of these idols compare? No and I don't care what "ancient manuscript" is unearthed that disputes the Word of God, they never will.

Well, I don't want to get on a soap box, but I do want TRUTH. All we need is in Jesus Christ. God help us get weaned from this world and turn our eyes toward HIM, and help us have discernment not to fall for these things. Through faith in His Name alone can we be saved. The world's idols can't save. If there are any ties that bind you to this world, that would cause you to not want to leave here at a moment's notice and go home to be with HIM, I pray you will go to HIM and ask HIM to cut the cords. He is merciful, gracious, and He is worth giving up everything. What can compare with such a Matchless, Glorious Savior who HAS EVERYTHING WE NEED? I don't want to be one of those on the wrong side at the Judgment who see HIM in His beauty, and understand at last the awesome love He has always offered them, wanting them to take by faith, and they see it when it's too late to have it and are forever separated from HIM. I can't bear the thought. I can't bear to consider my loved ones being separated from HIM for eternity. He is worth making time for. He is worth reading about and learning. He is worth reaching out to, and praising and living for. He thought you and I were worth dying for. I KNOW He is worth living for. He alone is worthy of glory, honor and praise.

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And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32