When people think of God they have many views of God from a loving grandfather to an evil taskmaster. Many people do not get these views of God from what the Bible reveals about God but from either parts of scripture or their own concept of what they think God is like. Jesus tells us that God is a loving father (Matthew 6:9) which was not the idea of those in Jesus day. Because God loves us some people leave out that God is also a God who disciplines and punishes. Some have even written books on how because of Jesus you will not face any punishment for any sin you have done. Yes for those who accept Christ God removes His wrath (Romans 8:1) but as a loving Father He will still discipline His children. We will be talking about the Hand of God and the reason is because God is going to discipline and punish people depending on His relationship with them. Our culture does not like to talk about a God who punishes but the Bible teaches it and we will see today that the people will have a warning if they choose to repent.
Read Isaiah 1:21-23 How the faithful city has become a whore,[a]she who was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers. 22 Your silver has become dross, your best wine mixed with water.23 Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow’s cause does not come to them.
1) The Hand of God is against Corruption
Most of us would agree that God is against things that we call corruption like politicians who lie and get away with it or people who murder or steal, but God is calling out corruption in people who think their lives are decent. Isaiah says they went “From Faithful to Un-faithful”. The first thing we notice is that in God’s eyes they have abandoned the relationship. Again, they did not see it that way because they did not see their actions as being detrimental to the relationship. God is not up in Heaven waiting for people to arrive He is actively participating in the world He created but also with humanity who He has made a way to be back in a relationship with. This is one area that separates Christianity from all other religions because when we die we do not just get Heaven we get God. My mom has moved several times and when I go and visit her I am not visiting her because of the house I want to be where my mom is. The God of the Bible is a relational God who longs for a marriage type relationship with His creation.
Revelation 19:7-9 and Isaiah 54:5 are two examples where we are called the bride and God is the groom. There is no more intimate relationship that can take place between humans than for a man and a woman to give of themselves fully to each other in marriage. God calls them a runaway wife who is no longer faithful to the one she was committed to.
Isaiah then says they went from Justice to poor treatment of people. How they were treating people went against just basic human concern. It was all about their gain without any thought of how they were exploiting people to make their lives easier. To drive the point home Isaiah says that they are Silver that has become dross and they are wine mixed with water. Isaiah is telling them they went from being valuable to something that was worthless. It may have still looked like silver and it may have looked like wine but it was worthless. Many church goers look like Christians but they have been so corrupted by the world that they are worthless. We are here to be salt and light to the world to point them to Jesus but when we have become just like the world we have nothing to offer the world that needs the truth not only told to them but lived out in front of them.
Matthew 5:13 You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
We can complain about the way the world is going but we as Christians are the ones who preserve society from rotting but when we become more like the world then we are the ones to blame because we are useless to a society that so desperately needs us. Isaiah calls them Lovers of money because they did not care about the orphans or the widows who suffered because of the people that took advantage of them and the money they kept for themselves.
Isaiah 1:24- 26 Therefore the Lord declares, the Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: “Ah, I will get relief from my enemies and avenge myself on my foes. 25 I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy. 26 And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.”
2) The Hand of God is for Cleaning
God calls them enemies which would have been shocking since they were considered the chosen nation of God. God is letting them know that he is going to treat them like His enemies because the way they are acting is not any different than those who reject God. Most people do not see themselves as enemies of God and many believe that everyone is accepted by God but that is not what the Bible teaches.
Romans 5:10-11 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
For people to go from being an enemy of God to His child than reconciliation has to take place. Many think that God loves them just how they are but if God could love us just how we are then Christ died for nothing. God does not overlook sin He did something about it and a cleaning has to take place in our lives in order for us to stand before a Holy God. Lye was a strong solution for cleaning and we must be cleaned in order to be in relationship with God. This is something God has to do in you and for you because you cannot do it yourself and Isaiah even says that ,”God will make you into a righteous city.” You cannot earn favor with God by your own actions and your own effort it has to be something that is done to you by Him.
“I will turn my hand against you”
The first way God turns His hand against us is in discipline like a loving parent.
Hebrews 12:5-8,11 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
God will discipline His own children if they continue to do things that go against His will. His goal is not to hurt you but to remove the sinful habits in your life that are actually hurting yourself and your witness to others. If you are walking away from God and you have not experienced any discipline then you might want to ask if you really belong to Him. Some of us wonder why God does not act against some of the people in our world and the simple answer is that they do not belong to Him. God will discipline His children because they belong to Him just like we discipline our children and not our neighbor’s child. (Although we want to) To avoid Gods hand of discipline we need to discipline ourselves.
2 Peter 1:5-9 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,[e] and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities[f] are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
One of the ways you discipline yourself is by seeing yourself the way God sees you. Imagine you have a brand new outfit, you would not work in the yard in that outfit you get clothes that are older or that can be ruined. When we see ourselves as dirty and grungy then we tend to engage in activities that are fitting to how we perceive ourselves. Satan wants you to see yourself as being in the dirty clothes but God wants you to realize that He has made you something new and so He wants you to act according to who you are. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Isaiah 1:27-31 Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness.28 But rebels and sinners shall be broken together, and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed.29 For they[e] shall be ashamed of the oaks that you desired; and you shall blush for the gardens that you have chosen. 30 For you shall be like an oak whose leaf withers, and like a garden without water. 31 And the strong shall become tinder, and his work a spark, and both of them shall burn together, with none to quench them.
3) Receiving The Hand of God is a Choice you make
Those who repent will be redeemed, which means bought back, by righteousness. Again the terminology is that we are separated from God and we have to be restored. God is the one who purchases us back. (1 Corinthians 6:20) But those who rebel will be broken, which means they will Perish. This is not a popular idea that God would cast people away from Himself but since the point of God buying us back is to have a relationship with Him why would people want to be with Him for all eternity? Scripture repeatedly talks about Gods wrath so we cannot ignore that truth. (John 3:36; Romans 2:5, 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9)
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Only through what Jesus did on the cross for us can the wrath of God be removed from us. We cannot stand before God by our actions no matter how good we think they are but only by the actions of Jesus who died on the cross for us.
Malachi 3:2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.
Isaiah says that they will be ashamed. The people were worshiping other gods and they were gods that were represented in trees in a forest. They were seeking power from the trees instead of going to God for their strength. We all have a tendency to go to other gods even though it really is embarrassing when you think about it. As a glutton I have a tendency to go to food for comfort. Think of how sick that really is and how embarrassing that is that I go to food instead of going to God. Some of them were worshiping these gods in private where they thought no one would ever know but they will be revealed and they will blush when they realize God sees all that they did. Numbers 32:23 says your sins will find you out and as we talked about last week sins are leading you down a path you do not want to go. If they are not exposed on earth they will be exposed before God when we stand before Him. Christians will not have their sins exposed (Romans 8:1) they will only take with them into eternity the things they did for God. (1 Corinthians 3)
The ways of the world seem to bring life and pleasure for a time but they will eventually leave you dry and destroyed. Isaiah says these things will not make it and they will add to the eternal fire. Hollywood should show us that money and popularity are not enough to fulfill us as we watch them longing for something more while at the same time rejecting God. We tend to see people in the world and think that if we get some of the same things as them that we will be fulfilled.
Jeremiah 2:13 for my people have committed two evils, they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
The worship of false gods will make one feel foolish on the day they stand before the living God because only God can give life all other things you go after will seem to bring satisfaction but they will not last. In John 14:6 Jesus said He is the life. The only thing that will fulfill your thirst is Christ.
Both of them (the god and the worshiper of the god) shall burn together with none to quench them. The picture is painted of the gods they worshiped being burned up for all eternity with a flame that will not extinguish. This is not popular to talk about but Jesus talked about it to warn us.
Mark 9:45-48 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ (See Also Revelation 19:20; 20:15)
For those who choose not to turn to God then the wrath of God will be on them but for those who are His children Gods Hand of discipline will come when they turn back to the things of the world to fine fulfillment. For those who do choose the hand of God for salvation you can know that He will guide you for all eternity.
Isaiah 41:13 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand, it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
God wants His people to be pure and faithful to Him. We have to be careful to not allow the things of the world to creep into our lives which will corrupt us. What have you allowed into your life that is corrupting you that is making you worthless to the world? What needs to be cleaned in you? Do you have a relationship with God like a husband to a wife? The things of this world will not only be un- fulfilling to you but they will cause you to be separated from God for all eternity if you stay in your rebellion toward him. The Hand of God is for His wrath to be displayed, for disciplining His children and for reaching down to save us and for never letting us go.