God Spoke! Did You Listen?
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Isaiah 64 and 65:1-12
Judah's leaders have been carried off into Babylon. The temple that Solomon built has been destroyed. Those who love the Lord are discouraged and on the surface all is lost. Isaiah prays:
Oh, that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Thy presence — 2 as fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil — to make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Thy presence! 3 When Thou didst awesome things which we did not expect, Thou didst come down, the mountains quaked at Thy presence. 4 For from of old they have not heard nor perceived by ear, neither has the eye seen a God besides Thee, who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him. 5 Thou dost meet him who rejoices in doing righteousness, who remembers Thee in Thy ways. Behold, Thou wast angry, for we sinned, we continued in them a long time; and shall we be saved? 6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7 And there is no one who calls on Thy name, who arouses himself to take hold of Thee; for Thou hast hidden Thy face from us, and hast delivered us into the power of our iniquities. NASB
Isaiah is depressed. He longs for God to do something to show the world that He is real. He begs God to come down like He did in the days of Moses. Shake the world like He shook it when Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai when God wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger.
There is no other God besides the God the Jews served. Isaiah was heart broken because his people had been all but destroyed. The life they knew was gone and Isaiah knew it was their own fault. They had not really been serving God for quite some time. They were not truly seeking God. They went through the motions, but their heart had not been really seeking God for a long time. Isaiah knew this tragedy had happened because they had deserted God.
The people who were supposed to be showing the world how to serve the one true God had failed in their mission and God was going to find a way to show them their sin. Isaiah saw it, and he would share that message with his people.
What the Jews saw as righteousness was not what God had wanted. They only had a self-righteousness. They were not serving God, they were serving themselves.
Church, we must not be like the Jews. We must seek God and allow Him to lead us to be the people who know and love God and who love people enough to show them and tell them that God loves them and that HE is Lord of lords and King of kings.
God loves us. He is our Lord. Those must not be empty words, but must be what we truly accept as the truth. We must seek God and love Him with all of our being. We must choose to serve God for His sake, not for our own sake.
Life is not about what we want. It is about what God wants for us. We must seek Him and His will. Trust me. What He wants for you is much better than what you think you need.
Isaiah continues his prayer:
8 But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father, we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and all of us are the work of Thy hand. 9 Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord, neither remember iniquity forever; behold, look now, all of us are Thy people. 10 Thy holy cities have become a wilderness, Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. 11 Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised Thee,
Has been burned by fire; and all our precious things have become a ruin. 12 Wilt Thou restrain Thyself at these things, O Lord? Wilt Thou keep silent and afflict us beyond measure? NASB
Isaiah calls God “Our Father”. That was echoed years later by Jesus when He taught us to pray by giving His disciples the Lord's prayer. God desires that we see Him as a loving heavenly Father. Yes, He insists that we respect Him as Lord and serve Him as His bond-servants. At the same time He is our loving Heavenly Father. He cares for us.
He created us. We are the clay and God is the potter who shapes us into the beautiful and useful vessels He can use to bring Glory to Himself and to reach out to others who have not accepted His love and grace.
Jerusalem and the temple have been destroyed. Isaiah asks how long will the punishment for their sin endure? God allowed them to be defeated because they had forsaken Him and this was the only way to bring them back to heart felt service to God. This was the way God used to mold them once again into people who would give up their idols and serve God and God alone.
Then God answers:
65:1 "I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, 'Here am I, here am I,' to a nation which did not call on My name. 2 "I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, 3 a people who continually provoke Me to My face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks; 4 who sit among graves, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine's flesh, and the broth of unclean meat is in their pots. 5 who say, 'Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!' These are smoke in My nostrils, a fire that burns all the day. 6 "Behold, it is written before Me, I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will even repay into their bosom, 7 both their own iniquities and the iniquities of their fathers together," says the Lord. "because they have burned incense on the mountains, and scorned Me on the hills, therefore I will measure their former work into their bosom." NASB
God speaks of the judgment He has brought upon Israel. They would not serve God and God alone. Again and again, He did just as He said He would when He formed this people as a nation and gave them the law. They must love and serve God as God. The Creator had, by His own hand shaped them and made them to worship Him and to show the world how to be the people of God.
Again and again they had gone their own way. Again and again God had intervened and saved them when they had cried out to Him. He saved them from those He had used to wake them up.
Now, in Isaiah's time the judgment of God had come again. But... God was not done with them. Pick up with verse 8:
8 Thus says the Lord, "As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one says, 'Do not destroy it, for there is benefit in it,' so I will act on behalf of My servants in order not to destroy all of them. 9 "And I will bring forth offspring from Jacob, and an heir of My mountains from Judah; even My chosen ones shall inherit it, and My servants shall dwell there. 10 "And Sharon shall be a pasture land for flocks, and the valley of Achor a resting place for herds, for My people who seek Me. NASB
Isaiah foretells that God would again restore Israel to the land He had promised. But wait. There is something more here. He speaks of an heir coming from Judah. We who know the story of Jesus, know that this is not just another heir. God would send His only begotten Son. God would become a man and live among us to show us how to be the people of God. He would take God's wrath upon Himself. He would offer life to any who would believe Him, Accept Him, Trust Him!
God's people seek God! They cry out to God when they hurt. They put their trust in God and live for His glory and honor. They are willing to suffer for God if that is what God wants, but they also know the peace of God. They believe that God loves them and will not leave them. He will be with them through all the difficulties that life throws at them. This is what we can and must choose.
God's people seek God. They believe that God loves them. They also believe that He must be Lord.
God's answer to Isaiah continues. Verse 11:
11 "But you who forsake the Lord, who forget My holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune, and who fill cups with mixed wine for Destiny, 12 I will destine you for the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter. Because I called, but you did not answer; I spoke, but you did not hear. And you did evil in My sight, and chose that in which I did not delight." NASB
Isaiah shares about the love of God and points His people to seek God. He also reminds them that if they do not choose to accept God as God, He will do what He needs to do to remain as Lord. He will allow them to reap the results of their sin and be taken into captivity.
But when His people cry out to Him He will return and save them once again. We must always seek God. He will be found by those who choose to love Him and follow Him as He leads them through life.
Salvation and judgment. Both are from God, and both are evidence of God's love for us. He uses our suffering to point us back to him. I want to repeat Isaiah's words from the 35th chapter. He told his people:
3 Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. 4 Say to those with anxious heart,"Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you." NASB
The judgment of God will come. He insists on being our Lord, and for those who seek Him, He will be found. He will save you.
God has spoken. Did you listen?