GOD'S LAST PHONE CALL
Isaiah 66:1-4 says, Heaven is My throne and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” says the Lord. “But on this one I will look , on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word. He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man. He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog's neck. He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine's blood. He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol. Just as they have chosen their own ways, and their souls delight in their abominations, so will I choose their delusions and bring their fears on them because when I called, no answered. When I spoke they did not hear, but they did evil before My eyes and chose that in which I do not delight.” This language suggests to me the parabolic thought that the the kingdom of Christ is like a man who receives a call, answers the phone and to his great joy learns how to live forever; but another man receives a call, hears the same voice but refuses to answer and loses his soul.”
My first thought about this passage of scripture is that, in a manner of speaking, God had His own telecommunication system with Israel. God was very displeased with Israel in the days of the Prophet Isaiah, and the reason given is that God called but no one answered; God spoke but they did not hear. God phoned, but Israel would not answer the phone. The human race has been doing this to God from the very beginning. For 4,000 years God has constantly communicated with mankind, but for the most part man has not answered, and when God spoke they did not hear.
This language God used of calling and no one answering cannot but remind us of the marvelous technological telecommunication systems we enjoy in the 21st century. We communicate by telephone, radio, telegraph, television and computers. The latest telecommuncation marvel is the world-wide Network system. The technician who created my Website on the Net, www sanfernando churchofchrist.com, tells me that China can receive commnications from my Website.
It all began with the invention of the telephone that was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1875. He gave the word telephone to the world.
Tele means far away and phone means voice. The word telephone thus literally means, “a far away voice.” When we pick up the phone, we hear a far away voice. Another remarkable fact about the Bible is that the word, “phone” is first used in the Bible. Genesis 3:8 says Adam and Eve, “heard the voice of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” The New
King James version says they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden. In this passage the Hebrew word for voice or sound is, “qal.” But this Hebrew word was translated into Greek when the Old Testament was translated into the Greek language about 270 B.C. The Hebrew word for voice or sound comes out in Greek by the word, “phone”-- -pronounced, “fonee or fone.”
I believe the great inventor of the telephone would be shocked if he could know what new inventions our High Tech culture has been able to devise and create from his telephone system. Already the telephone makes available, features far more complicated than I am capable of understanding. Kids in High School understand more about these inventions than many of the Senior generation. There was a time when the telephone operation was simple with a number pad of 0-9. Now, we must be familiar with many complicated features, such call waiting, screening calls, last number redial etc. How many of you seniors are acquainted with these features? They are here to stay, so get used to it. Let's be thankful for the marvels of technology.
My second thought on the text is that the Bible, metaphorically speaking, is God's Telephone-- His telecommunication system with the human race. Mankind has its own high tech communication systems, and God has His own comunication system for mankind, a marvelous system indeed. The text says that God calls and God speaks to mankind. The Bible says that the human race is the offspring of God. . A lot of people in this High Tech world are not aware of this great discovery. God's telecommunication system is of far more value to the human race than any communication system created by genius of man. When God calls, we can pick up the phone or leave it lay. We can answer or refuse to answer, or we may refuse to hear when He speaks. In the days of Isaiah, most Israelites refused to answer the phone. God said, “When I called, no one answered; when I spoke they did not hear.” Israel is doing the same thing in the 21st century, and so are most Gentiles. What He meant was that, comparatively speaking, most of the nation refused to pick up the phone. They didn't want to talk with Him..
The telephone is not the only far away voice in the world. It can truly be said that the Bible is the greatest far away sound, the most far away voice that ever has been heard in this world. When the Bible is being read, taught or preached in your hearing, you have picked up God's phone, and you are listening to the voice of God Himself. Hebrews 1:1,2 says, “God who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by
His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the world.” God has called; will you answer? God has spoken, will you listen? Before Christ came to this world from heaven, God spoke and made His calls through Hebrew prophets in the Old Testament, but since Christ came to earth, God calls and speaks only through Jesus Christ, His divine Son. And in that call in Hebrews 1, God said He made the universe through the creative work of His Son Jesus Christ. God has called but many will not answer. He has spoken but many refuse to hear Christ who is God's Spokesman. Thus anywhere you turn in the Bible you hear the voice and sound of God. We should look on the Bible as God's telephone, and when we read it or hear it proclaimed, we are listening to the far away voice of God speaking from heaven. This is one the greatest reasons why everyone should go to church. All who do that pick up the phone and listen to the far away voice of God, just like we do when we use the telephone in our house. We go to church to hear the sound of God's voice, and we communicate with God through the appointed avenues of worship: singing, praying, hearing His word, observing the Lord's Supper, and bringing our financial gifts to God.
My third thought about the text is that it expresses a truth that has prevailed from the beginning of time to this very day. Listen to it again: “When I called no one answered. When I spoke they did not hear.” God was speaking here in general terms of the nation Israel as a whole. Some in all generations and all centuries have heard God's call and answered. . God has always had a remnant of faithful people in the very worst of times, but for the most part it can be truthfully said by God to mankind in all ages, “When I called no one answered. When I spoke they did not hear.” This has been the general attitude of mankind from the beginning.
The first call God ever made to mankind was to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Genesis 3:8 tells us about a call that Adam and Eve. received from God one beautiful day. There was no Bible at this time, so God made a personal manifestation to Adam and Eve. Most likely, God was represented by the marvelous appearance of an angel or perhaps in some other form. Whatever the manifestation, Adam and Eve knew God had appeared to them in Eden. They heard the voice of God walking in the Garden. The phone was ringing, and God was calling, but they didn't want to pick up the phone because they thought it might be God. They really didn't want to talk with Him at this time. They had broken one of God's commandments and didn't want to answer for it. As I stated, our English word phone is derived from the Hebrew-Greek word voice in this passage. Adam and Eve heard a voice, the sound of uttered words. When they heard the voice of Jehovah, they knew He was calling; but they knew
they didn't want to speak with Him. The call from God said, “Adam, where are you? Pick up the phone Adam. I want to talk to you.” But Adam and Eve had disobeyed Him, and one of the results of disobedience is rupturing the line of communication with God.
In a manner of speaking, Adam said to God , “I'm not available for your call right now, please leave a message after the “beep.” Have you ever heard something like that when making a call? It amounted to that for Adam hid himself when he heard the voice of God and did not want to talk with Him. I see here another somewhat similarity between our High Tech telephone communication system and God's comprehensive communications system. About twenty years ago, a new feature was added to the telephone service. It is the answering machine. As a result, the words, “After the beep,” have become one of the household phrases in the English language. Personally, I have had problems with the. “After the beep.” message. Half the calls I get on my answering machine, I can't make heads or tails of some of the words I hear. I often put my ear down on the answering machine and listen four or five times just to get the phone number. Sometimes, they add one or two extra numbers more than belong to any phone number. Others talk so fast and indistinctly their words run together. Adam didn't say, “I'm not available for your call right now; please leave a message after the beep,” but he made a similar response to God y hiding from His presence.
It was Israel's unfaithfulness to the law of Moses that caused God to say, “When I called no one answered. When I spoke they did not hear.” Jesus said that about the same thing happened to Him during His earthly ministry. He gave the call to Israel that the Messianic kingdom was about to begin on earth. He called on them to prepare for it by repentance and baptism., but most of the nation screened Him out and would not answer Him. Jesus said, “Seeing they do not see and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”(Matthew 13:13). Jesus made a very important statement in Luke 8:18, “Take heed how you hear.” In other words, be careful how you respond when God calls and speaks. God has given a clear call and a clear word that homosexuality is a low base desire, contrary to nature and stands condemned, but some churches that profess allegiance to Christ screen Him out and refuse to discuss the subject with God or His faithful followers.. Like Adam they take the call, but they don't want to talk with Him.
My final comment is that God has made His last phone call to mankind, and has spoken His last word to the human race. He will never again call or speak to the sons of men. His last calls and spoken words are
all in the twenty seven books of the New Testament. However, all these words can be summed up in few key passages. One is, “God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Another is, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life.” Then Titus 2:11,12 says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world, looking for the blessed hope and appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. In I Peter 2:9 God spoke these words to Christians, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, My own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” God has spoken and informed us that He has no special class of priests on this earth, but all Christians are His priests; for He sanctified and made them holy by the blood of Christ. Priests in all ages have never had the power to forgive sins. Only God can forgive sins, and Christians can represent God as priests to all mankind because God has sanctified and made them all holy by the blood of Christ. God's final call to all mankind is to come out of an evil world of moral and religious darkness and become priests to God in the kingdom of Christ. All who answer the call of God to come out of an evil world into the fellowship of His chosen people and holy nation are said to be, “the Called Out.” This is the actual meaning of he word, “Church.” The only chosen people God has on this earth are people who answered His call to come out of an evil world to serve Him, and . God calls us by the gospel of Christ. Man has changed the name of God's people by calling them the church in instead of, “the called out.” The word church in no sense conveys the meaning of “called out.”. Leaving the world of darkness and evil, these people enter the holy Kingdom of Christ or the Church of Christ or the Church of God, to live according to His laws. The name God gave them is, “Christians.”.
There is much confusion in the world as to the identity of God's called out people because of the denominational concept of the church. . Many are worried about the doctrine of predestination. It has been claimed that at the beginning of the world God predestinated or pre-appointed who would be saved and who would be lost. This number supposedly cannot be increased or decreased. If God pre-appointed you to be saved you will go to heaven. If He pre-appointed you to be lost you will go to hell. There is no need to be concerned about this doctrine, for it is not true and the Bible does not teach it
How people become God's called out people who will go to heaven is clearly revealed in the New Testament. Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He gave this command to the apostles, “Go into all the world and peach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is immersed shall be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned(Mark 16:16).
Christ alone and His gospel determines who will go to heaven, and that is what God predestinated before the world began. The way to be called out of the world into the Church or Kingdom is to become a penitent, immersed believer in Christ.
Peter said to thousands of believing Jews who asked what they must do to be saved, “Repent and be immersed every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins(Acts 2:38). 3,000 Jews on that day obeyed God's voice through Peter and they became the first, “called out” people of God in the Christian religion. God's called out people are people who believe Jesus is the Lord of heaven and earth and who have repented for the sinful way they had been living in the past, and have submitted to Christ's command to be immersed for the forgiveness of all sins that go back to the childhood of the believer. If you ask why I used the word immerse instead of baptize, the reason is that Jesus used the word the Greek word that means immerse and not anything else.
If you will ask any preacher of any church the question, “Will you please tell me the exact meaning of the word baptize in Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38, if he has any knowledge of the Greek language he will tell you the word literally means to immerse. However, he might add that he believes sprinkling or pouring is just as good as immersion. However, that is an opinion, and is not what Jesus said to do. All who have been sprinkled or poured for baptism must take the chance that Christ will accept substitutes for what He commanded to do. Why not be safe and do exactly what Jesus said to do, and be immersed which symbolizes Christ's death, , burial and resurrection (Romans 6:1-6). Jesus used the word immerse for that is the only form of baptism that can symbolize the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and at the same time symbolize the believer's death to his past sinful life, the burial of the past sin life in the watery grave, and his resurrection to the beginning of a new life in Christ. Immersion carries a very important symbolical meaning.