Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty-one verses of the fourteenth chapter. WHEN THE TESTIMONY REACHES THE PALACE! WHEN THE REPORT REACHES THE PALACE! WHEN TRUE AUTHORITY REACHES DELEGATED AUTHORITY! When you come to the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find Matthew shifting away from the teaching of Jesus—specifically the teaching of Jesus in and through parables—to now writing concerning the report of Jesus reaching the palace of Herod the tetrarch. In fact, the opening verse of the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel opens up with the words “At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus” (Matthew 14:1). Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous significance of those words, for up until this point we have read of Jesus’ fame spreading throughout Judaea and the surrounding region. In fact, if you journey back to the fourth chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find the apostle Matthew writing how the fame concerning Jesus spread as far as Syria. As a direct result of the fame of Jesus spreading all the way to Syria, Matthew records how many who were sick and dealing with infirmities and diseases were brought before Jesus in order that He might heal them. Consider if you will once more the words which are found and recorded in the final few verses of the fourth chapter of this New Testament gospel:
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those had the palsy; and He healed them. And there followed Him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan” (Matthew 4:23-25).
In the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find Jesus going about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. As a direct result of the mighty works which Jesus was performing in the region of Galilee, there went out a fame surrounding Him, and concerning the mighty power and authority He was exercising within and upon the earth. So great was the fame surrounding Jesus that it would reach Syria, and cause masses of people to come out of Syria and into the region of Judaea in order that all those who had need of Jesus would receive healing from their sickness, from their diseases, from their illness, and from that which plagued them. When you come to the fourteenth chapter of the same New Testament book you will find the fame of Jesus now spreading into places of authority and power—namely, within the palace of Herod the tetrarch. Please don’t miss the awesome and incredible significance of this fact, for it brings us face to face with the wonderful and powerful reality of the authority of God reaching and touching the authority of men—namely, the authority which Herod the tetrarch had over Jerusalem and over Judaea during that day. What’s more, is that we must recognize and understand that when Matthew records the fame of Jesus reaching the palace and reaching the ears of Herod the tetrarch, it was a wonderful and powerful manifestation of the kingdom of God reaching the kingdom of men. In all reality, one might dare say that the kingdom of heaven had finally made its way to the kingdom of men, and the authority of God had finally made its way to the authority of men. Oh how absolutely wonderful it is to think about and consider the fact that the authority of the Son of God which had been demonstrated over all manner of sickness, over all manner of disease, over leprosy, over blindness, over deafness, over the palsy, over demonic forces and evil spirits, and even over death itself had finally reached the very place of the one who was given authority of those who were living and dwelling in that particular region. Oh how absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to read in the fourteenth chapter how the fame concerning Jesus had spread within and throughout the region until it eventually reached the ears of Herod the tetrarch. It’s almost as if the fact that Matthew writes and records concerning Herod hearing of the fame of Jesus is a powerful demonstration and declaration that there is absolutely no containing the authority and the power of the true and living God.
THERE IS NO CONTROLLING THE AUTHORITY OF THE LIVING GOD! THERE IS NO CONTROLLING THE POWER OF THE LIVING GOD! What we read when we come to this particular passage of Scripture is a wonderful and powerful display of the authority of God, and the report of that authority finding its way into the places of the authority of men. One of the things that strikes me as incredibly curious and intriguing is what took so long for the fame concerning Jesus to finally make its way to the palace of Herod and to the ears of Herod. Here we are in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, and we are just now reading of the fame of Jesus Christ reaching the palace of Herod. What caused the report of the fame concerning Jesus to be so delayed in the earth and from reaching the palace where Herod would govern, rule and reign over Judaea and the surrounding region? The more I think about and consider this, the more I can’t help but think that this would be the first time the fame concerning Jesus would reach the palace and ears of Herod the tetrarch, but it would not be the last. If you study the New Testament gospel of Matthew—as well as the three other gospels which were written by the New Testament authors—you will quickly discover that later on in the gospel, it would not merely be the fame and report concerning Jesus that would reach the ears of Herod, but it would be the very person and presence of Jesus. What would at this time be the report and fame of Jesus reaching the palace of Herod the tetrarch would eventually result in Jesus Himself appearing before Herod—and not only appearing before Herod, but also before Pontius Pilate as well. Consider if you will the account of the trial of Jesus, and how not only would Jesus stand trial before Herod the tetrarch, but He would also stand trial before Pontius Pilate as well. In the twenty-sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find the following account of Jesus being led to the house of Ciaphas the high priest at that particular time:
“And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But Peter followed Him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council sought false witness against Jesus, to put Him to death; but found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. And the high priest arise, and said unto Him, Answerest thou nothing? What is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held His peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto Him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of titnesses? Behold, now ye have heard His blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death” (Matthew 26:57-66).
Within this particular passage we find Jesus being brought into the house Caiphas the high priest on the night He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot in the garden when he led an insurgence in the midst of the garden in order that they might overtake Jesus. It’s interesting to note and point out that Jesus was first brought into the house of high priest—into the house of religious authority if you will—before He would be brought into the palaces of carnal and worldly authority. When we find Jesus standing in the house of the high priest at the time, we find the testimony of Jesus arriving and making its way directly into the house of religious authority where it would stand on trial before all those who would gather there to see what would come of Him. It would be there in the house of religious authority Jesus would not only stand trial, but He would also be falsely accused by men who sought to utterly and completely destroy Him. While it is true that Jesus was brought into the house of Caiphas the high priest at that time, Luke records for us how Jesus was brought before two other men who held tremendous authority and power during that day. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke you will find that Jesus was first brought before and unto Pontius Pilate who was appointed by Rome to oversee the affairs of Jerusalem and Judaea, and was also brought before Herod the tetrarch. In the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find the fame concerning Jesus reaching the ears of Herod in his place, while in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke we find not the fame of Jesus reaching the ears of Pilate and Herod, but Jesus Himself standing and appearing before both men. What an absolutely incredible thought it is to think that the One in who all authority, all dominion, all power, all majesty, all strength, all honor, all glory belongs to and is due was standing before authorities which were appointed by men, and authorities which were permitted by the true and living God. In order to understand the tremendous significance of the authority of God standing before the authority vested in man, it’s necessary to consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle which was written unto the Roman church and congregation. If you turn and direct your attention to the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament epistle of Paul unto the Romans you will find the following words concerning authority:
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: Tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Ow no man any thing, but love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:1-8).
It is within this particular passage of Scripture where we find the apostle Paul writing how all authority that has been set up and established within the earth has been ordained, appointed, and permitted by the true and living God. It’s important for us to recognize and realize that the authority which we find in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke was authority that was permitted to be in place according to the predeterminate counsel and will of the eternal Father and living God. With that being said, when we come to this particular passage of the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke we find the ultimate authority within the universe standing trial before the authority that was vested in and upon mere men. Pause and consider the incredible reality that what we have in this passage of Scripture is true and ultimate authority standing before authority that has been designated and appointed by the living God of the universe. What we find in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke is more than just the fame and report of Jesus standing before the authority of Pontius Pilate and Herod, but the authority, the power, the glory, the love, the mercy, the grave, the compassion, and the salvation of God standing before them authority of men. Consider if you will the words which are found and recorded in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke beginning with the first verse:
“And the whole multitude of them arose, and led Him unto Pilate. And they began to accuse Himself, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a King. And Pilate asked Him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And He answered Him and said, Thou sayest it. Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. When Pilate hear do Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who Himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, He was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves. And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverted the people: and behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: no, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. I will therefore chastise him, and release him. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)” (Luke 23:1-17).
In the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find the fame of Jesus and the many mighty and wonderful works He performed reaching Herod the tetrarch. What is unique about the fame of Jesus which reached Herod the tetrarch is that upon hearing concerning the mighty works which Jesus had performed in the region at that time, Herod immediately thought Jesus was John the Baptist resurrected. When you read the first twelve verses of the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find that although it begins and opens up with aa declaration concerning the fame of Jesus, it wasn’t about Jesus at all. This particular passage really doesn’t have anything to do with Jesus—at least not on the surface—for this particular passage of Scripture describes John the Baptist and how at this time John the Baptist was still in prison. In this passage of Scripture we find the fame of Jesus reaching the ears of Herod in the palace, and Herod immediately thinking it was a man whom he had sentenced to death by beheading at the behest of his wife who had convinced her daughter to ask him for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. One of the most interesting realities concerning this passage of Scripture is that not only did the fame of Jesus reach the palace of Herod the tetrarch, but if you read just a few chapters prior to this, you will find the fame of Jesus reaching John the Baptist in prison. WHEN THE FAME OF JESUS REACHES THE PRISON! WHEN THE FAME OF JESUS REACHES THE PALACE! Within the New Testament gospel of Matthew—not only do we find the fame of Jesus reaching John the Baptist in prison, but we also find the fame of Jesus reaching Herod in the palace. In fact, I would dare say that in order for us to truly understand that which is written and recorded in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel fo Matthew, we must first turn our attention ack to the eleventh chapter of the same New Testament book. It is in the first six verses of the eleventh chapter of the gospel of Matthew we find the account of John the Baptist in prison, and there in prison hearing of the mighty works which Jesus was performing within the earth. What’s more, is that the account of John the Baptist begins before the eleventh chapter of this New Testament gospel of Matthew and is actually first found in the fourth chapter of this New Testament book. Beginning with the twelfth verse of the fourth chapter we find the following words:
“Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esais the prophet, saying, The Land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up” (Matthew 4:12-16).
The story of John’s imprisonment begins in the fourth chapter when Jesus hears of John being cast into prison, although at that point in time we aren’t given any information as to why John the Baptist was in fact cast into prison. The first introduction to John being cast into prison comes simply by Jesus hearing that he was cast into prison, and Jesus departing from Nazareth and coming and dwelling Capernaum. What’s more, is that it isn’t until the eleventh chapter of the same New Testament gospel that we are even reminded that John was in prison—and not only in prison, but still in prison. Please mark the thought of John still being in prison in your minds, for from the fourth chapter through to the eleventh chapter we find absolutely no mention of John the Baptist being in prison. It isn’t until we come to the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we again learn that John was still in prison, and that he hadn’t been released. In fact, in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find John still in prison, and there in prison hearing the works of Christ, and all that He was performing and doing within the earth. THE FORGOTTEN MAN IN THE CELL! THE FORGOTTEN MAN IN PRISON! HEARING OF THE WORKS BUT STILL IN PRISON! HEARING OF THE WORKS, YET SEEING NO MANIFESTATION OF THOSE WORKS WITHIN YOUR OWN LIFE! There was John the Baptist—still in prison—and yet he was hearing about all the wonderful and mighty works Jesus was doing in the earth. What we find in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew is not only John still remaining in prison, but also by this time wrestling and struggling with hearing of the works of Christ in the earth, and yet still being in prison. In fact, we tend to get the strong sense that John the Baptist was struggling and wrestling with his own expectations concerning Jesus the Christ, for at the very least Jesus—his own cousin nonetheless—would have come and visited him in prison. Perhaps John the Baptist heard of the mighty works which Jesus was performing in the earth, and expected that those works would ultimately make their way to where he was in that prison, and perhaps even secure his release. Hearing about all the works which Jesus performed and completed in the earth, surely Jesus could bring John forth from that prison cell and back into the world again. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if by this time John’s faith, John’s trust, John’s confidence wasn’t beginning to come under fire and wasn’t beginning to be tested, for here he was still in prison, and hearing of the many mighty works which Jesus was performing in the earth.
I mention the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, for it’s in the eleventh chapter where we not only find John the Baptist still in prison, but we also find the fact that he was still in prison producing within him a great struggle internally. It’s one thing to still be in prison after such a tremendous length of time, but it’s something else entirely to still be in prison and to have your faith come under fire, and your confidence and trust in the Lamb of God being shaken. This same man who emphatically proclaimed and declared “Behold the Lamb of God” was now in prison asking if this was the One who was to come, or if they should look for another. Jesus—upon hearing the question within John’s heart and soul, responds by sending the disciples of John back to him reminding him of the works which he had heard while in prison. Jesus—instead of going to visit John the Baptist in prison—instead sends his disciples back with a reminder of the works which he had already heard while there in the prison. What’s more, is that not only does Jesus remind John that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them, but He also declares unto him, staying “Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Him.” Jesus knew the struggle that was taking place within the heart and soul of John the Baptist, and what He did was respond to him by reminding him again of the works which were being performed and completed within the earth. Please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of what is taking place here, for in the eleventh chapter we find John the Baptist struggling while in prison—struggling in his faith, struggling in his trust, struggling in his confidence—while in the fourteenth chapter we find John the Baptist actually dying there in that prison cell. In the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find John being cast into prison; in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find John still in prison and struggling; and in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find John the Baptist dying in that same prison. In essence, once John was cast into that prison, he would never again taste freedom, nor would he ever emerge from that prison cell. That prison cell was going to be where he would spend his final days, his final weeks, his final months, and perhaps even his final year of life before being beheaded by Herod.
I am convinced that what we find in the eleventh and fourteenth chapters of the New Testament gospel of Matthew not only bring us face to face with the awesome and incredible fact that John would still remain in prison, but John would die and perish there in the prison. This is in all reality a tough pill to swallow, for how do we reconcile a God who would not only allow us to be cast into prison in the first place, but to remain in prison while He continues His work in the world around us? How do we reconcile a God who would not only allow us to remain in prison, but would also not permit us to be released from the prison and to ultimately die within that dark prison cell? The account of John the baptist isn’t only about declaring the kingdom of heaven, baptizing men and women in the waters of Judaea and the surrounding region, and preaching repentance, but it is also a story and account of one who was cast into prison, and one who would never be released or set free from that prison cell. This goes against every fabric of our being and against everything in the very core and depths of our heart and spirit, for we would like to think that not only would Jesus come and visit John in prison, but we would also think that Jesus would release John from prison. Oh, how do you justify the will of God when it not only allows you be cast into prison, but to also remain in that prison cell? How do you justify the will of God that would allow you to remain in that prison cell, and not only to remain in that prison cell, but to ultimately die within that prison? I can’t help but wonder what it was like for John when he knew that his fate had been sealed, and that he was going to be beheaded. What’s more, is that I can’t help but wonder if John the Baptist had taken to heart the words which Jesus sent back to him through his disciples and had actually come to terms and made peace with remaining in that prison cell. What’s more, is that one can’t help but wonder if John was offended at the time he sent his disciples unto Jesus, and if he was somehow still offended with Jesus at the time of his death. Is it possible that John might very well have taken that offense with him to the grave? Is it possible that John remained in offense and bitterness, and remained as such up until the moment of his death? I would absolutely love to know what was going on in the heart and mind of John once his disciples returned with the only words Jesus would give him, and with Jesus’ admonition not to be offended with him. In that moment when John knew that he was going to be beheaded and killed at the request of Herod the tetrarch, was John still offended with Jesus, or had John made peace with his fate and his remaining there in that prison cell?
I can’t help but read the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew and be directly confronted with the reality of how many men and women might be offended with Jesus, and even with God the Father because of their present situation and circumstances. How many men and women among us are presently offended with Jesus because He has somehow not lived up to our expectations? How many of us are presently in a place where our faith is being sorely tested and tried, and where we are finding ourselves unable to understand God’s will and God’s plan for our lives? How many of us right now find ourselves in our own prison cell—perhaps a prison of offense, perhaps a prison of bitterness, perhaps a prison of shame, perhaps a prison of condemnation, perhaps a prison of of guilt, and the like—and in that dark place we find ourselves growing offended, and perhaps even angry and bitter with and toward God? In the fourteenth chapter we don’t find John still in prison, but we do discover that John never saw the light of day after being cast into prison. In the fourteenth chapter we learn that not only did Herod cast John into prison, but Herod also had John beheaded there in the prison cell, and his head brought unto Herodias and her daughter for sport. WHEN GOD ALLOWS YOUR HEAD TO ROLL IN THE PRISON CELL! WHEN GOD ALLOWS THE SWORD TO CONSUME YOU IN PRISON! The fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew is incredible interesting and intriguing, for we learn the ultimate fate of John the Baptist, and we are forced to wonder if John ever came to terms with the offense that so sought to grip and consume his heart and soul. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to deal with and confront the offense and bitterness that might be present within our hearts, and whether or not we are willing to deal with it before the sword consumes us. Oh, please note and please understand that I am not speaking in terms of you or I being beheaded by and with the sword, but rather our going the way of the earth, and our going the way of our fathers and ancestors, and ultimately passing from this life to the next. Are we willing to deal with and confront the bitterness, the anger, and the offense that is present within our hearts? DEALING WITH THE OFFENSE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE! DEALING WITH THE BITTERNESS BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE! DEALING WITH OUR UNMET EXPECTATIONS AND OUR UNMET DESIRES BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE! I would leave you with this all important and all encompassing question at the end of this writing—ARE YOU WILLING TO DEAL WITH THE STRUGGLE WITHIN YOUR HEART BEFORE IT CONSUMES YOU, OR BEFORE YOU YOURSELF ARE CONSUMED? ARE YOU WILLING TO DEAL WITH THE BITTERNESS WITHIN YOUR HEART BEFORE THE SWORD COMES UPON AND CONSUMES YOU?
We don’t know what happened within the heart and soul of John when his disciples returned to him with the words of Jesus, and we don’t know if he ultimately made peace—not only with his expectations of Jesus not being met, but also with his never being released from that prison cell. I am completely and utterly convinced that for John, the greatest release he could have experienced was not his release from prison, but the release of his expectations, the release of his disappointment, the release of his possible offense, and the release of his possible bitterness with and towards Jesus the Christ. As you sit here and read the words which are found and contained within this writing, I would strong encourage you to confront whatever disappointment you might be feeling and experiencing within your heart and soul at this moment in time, and especially your disappointment when your expectations go unmet and unfulfilled. John the Baptist would never see the light of day again, and would ultimately die in that prison, but I find myself wondering if in those final days before his death he dealt with his unmet expectations, and even his disappointment with God. BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO REALIZE THAT GOD DOESN’T OWE US ANYTHING! BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO REALIZE THAT GOD DOESN’T ANSWER TO US! GOD DOESN’T OWE US ANYTHING AND GOD DOESN’T ANSWER TO US! Oh that we would examine our hearts and that we would truly understand the depths of the disappointment we might be experiencing in and with God—particularly and especially if our desires are going and have gone unmet and unfulfilled. We would be incredibly wise to recognize and understand that God does not answer to us, nor does God operate according to our agendas, our plans, our desires, our needs and our wants. I leave you with the words of the prophet Isaiah, which are found in the fifty-fifth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book which bears his name:
“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith he Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returned not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please” (Isaiah 55:6-11).