Isaiah 10:5-19 Tools in the Hand of God

Destruction of Judah is coming because the people continued to rebel against God and would not repent. God is going to address the arrogance of Assyria who is just the instrument in the hand of God to punish the disobedient people. God is using Assyria to punish His people but that does not mean the Assyrian Government does not bear the brunt of Gods wrath because they are still responsible for their own actions. God is sovereign and He knows the desires of every person and because He knows their hearts He knows what they are going to do and so He uses it for His purposes.

Rod can mean one who holds power like a King (Amos 1:5, 8) a tool used for discipline (Proverbs 13:24) an instrument for punishment (Job 9:34) or the miraculous power of God (Exodus 4:2-4; 7:9-20; 17:9) In this passage of scripture the word ‘rod” is used to mean punishment.

Isaiah 10:5-6 Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury! Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.

1)   The Rod of Discipline against the Disobedient

The Rod of my Anger: Rod in this context is the rod of discipline from a teacher (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 26:3)

Many people deny punishment from the hand of God because He uses natural means to accomplish His will. God was using the Assyrian military to discipline His people who would not turn back to Him even after God warned them many times to turn back to Him. The Assyrians were a rod in the hand of God to discipline His children to get them to turn from their wicked ways and back into seeking God. God will use nations and even Satan to accomplish His purposes that go beyond our understanding. Martin Luther coined the phrase “God’s Devil” because even Satan is a tool in the hand of God even though Satan will be punished for all eternity for the evil he does.

Job 1:9-12 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Isaiah’s main point was that what we are walking through has passed through the Sovereign God who loves and cares for us. This is a very difficult concept to grasp because we have been taught that God does things to only bless us and anything bad is not of God but God uses things in our lives for purposes that go beyond our understanding. Isaiah 55:9 says that Gods thoughts and ways are higher than we can understand so we must remember that what does not make sense to us is understandable to God.

We are not given the reason why at the end of the book of Job why God allowed all the pain and suffering to take place but we must trust God through the pain that He is going to work things out for the good.

Romans 8:28  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose.

This verse does not say that all things are good but God is using all things for THE GOOD and even for our good. The problem is we have a different definition of good than God. Trusting God in the midst of pain or when life does not make sense is not easy but we can trust Him because there is nothing out of His control and there is nothing He is not allowing to happen that will ultimately be for the good.

Isaiah is letting the people know that the military attack from Assyria is from God and the people could be encouraged because God was in control of how much they would do but Isaiah also wanted them to realize the need to realize the reason for the pain was because of their disobedience.

Against the godless nation I send him

The word “godless “means to turn away from; or to pervert and pollute and the people turned away from God and they perverted and polluted His ways.  They were twisting scripture to fit their lifestyle instead of matching their lifestyle to obey God’s word. Isaiah is clear that God is sending the army because they are no longer seeking God but only their own selfish desires. The Assyrian army is where Judah placed their hope and trust and now the Assyrian army is going to turn on them and destroy them. The Assyrian army will come and take what they want and treat the people no better than mud on the road. God is allowing Judah to be punished because they looked to the ways of the world instead of looking to Him.

When it comes to suffering there are several reasons that we suffer. Sometimes we suffer because of our own sins, sometimes we suffer because of the sins of others and sometimes we suffer for purposes we will not understand this side of Heaven. Isaiah was letting the people know that they were suffering because of their sins and lack of repentance. The old notion that you only suffer because of sin in your life is not true. Jobs friends’ accused him of having sin in his life and that was the reason for all he was going through and God would rebuke them for saying that about Job.

God will discipline His children but He does so out of love as a father who loves his son.

Hebrews 12:7-11  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? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 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.

Is God disciplining you? If so you can know that it is because He loves you. If you are walking through something because of the sins of others you can rest assured that God is using it for something good even if you never understand this side of heaven.

Isaiah 10:7-12 But he does not so intend, and his heart does not so think; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few; for he says: “Are not my commanders all kings? Is not Calno like Carchemish? Is not Hamath like Arpad? Is not Samaria like Damascus? 10 As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose carved images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, 11 shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols as I have done to Samaria and her images?”12 When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he[a] will punish the speech[b] of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes.

2)   The Rod of Accountability

When God is done, he will punish the King of Assyria

This is the other side of the coin for God because on one side He uses people to discipline and even punish others but then He also holds them accountable for their own individual actions. Although Assyria is being used by God they will still be held accountable for their evil ways. God’s sovereignty and Mans responsibility are throughout the Bible and although it does not make sense to us we cannot play God and try and figure everything out. Just like Jesus being crucified on the cross was prophesied about and God knew exactly how it would happen but the people that went through with it are still responsible for their actions.  God knew every motive and every action that would take place before it ever happened. God is never shocked by the behavior of evil people; in fact He uses it to accomplish His will.

The King of Assyria thought his conquest was because of his strong military but the reality is God was punishing His people for disobeying Him and not listening to His warnings. The King of Assyria got caught up in the destruction and enjoyed destroying the nations and making a name for himself. He took no pity on anyone and became arrogant.  The King of Assyria thought that God was just like all the other gods he was able to overcome but He would soon find out that there was a true God who would hold him accountable.

Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Even though God will use other people in your life to grow you and turn you back to Him they will still be held accountable for how they treated you but you will be held accountable how you handle being wronged as well. We do not understand the full purposes of God when things are happening but knowing that God sees and hold others accountable helps us realize no one is getting away with anything.

Isaiah 10:13 -14 For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones. 14 My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken, so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing or opened the mouth or chirped.”

3)   The Rod of Punishment

By the strength of my own hand I have done it.

Punishment means divine judgment. The King of Assyria is bragging about his accomplishments and he even compares them to getting eggs when no mother bird is in sight which means “easy Pickens”. The King of Assyria use of the word “I” which shows that he thinks he is the mighty one or even a god. He sees himself as a self-made man and unstoppable. Jesus tells us not to live a life where we get the credit but a life where God does.

John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[e] anything in my name, I will do it.

Notice the King of Assyria wants the credit and Jesus tells us He will do things where God gets the credit.

So the question is, “Who is getting the credit in your life”? If it is not God then you may want to repent from your arrogance and the thought that you can be god of your life. We live in a culture where it is about my will and my way and “pulling yourself up by your own boot straps” that we have left God out of what we are doing. The boasting that takes place even among Christian leaders is amazing. No church or ministry has grown because of a certain individual or a certain program but only because God is doing something in the midst of the people. (1 Corinthians 3:6)

Isaiah 10:15 Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!

Should the axe or saw boast?

The reality is that these things are just instruments (tools) in ones hands with no right to brag.  They are lifeless objects that cannot move on their own or do anything of their own free will.  God is the one who holds the power and that is where we need to place our trust. The Assyrians were being used for a purpose but it was their arrogance and treatment of people that God would eventually judge them for.

None of us are anything without God and to think that we are something is the height of pride.

Isaiah 10:16-19 Therefore the Lord God of hosts will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors,
and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire. 17 The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day. 18 The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land the Lord will destroy, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away. 19 The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few that a child can write them down.

God will send sickness

Sickness and disease is one of those things that can take all of our pride away.  Everything the King of Assyria takes pride in will be wiped out because God will take him away. This is why we do not need to fret when we think that people are getting away with things when they commit evil.  God sees and God will judge them no matter how powerful they think they are they will all give an account to God.

There will be so few left after God is done with the Assyrians that a child could count them. The enemies that think they are a big deal are like wood for a fire to God that is quickly burned up. Fire is always about God’s divine wrath against sin.

The Lord will destroy both body and soul

Jesus gave us this warning as well when dealing with people on earth.

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.[a]

The rod of punishment is coming upon those who continue to deny the work of Jesus Christ and God will pay back those who have done evil.  Until that time we have to trust Him as we walk through the difficult times that He is using these things in our lives for good that goes beyond our comprehension.

 

 

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Isaiah 10:1-4 Weep for a Nation

It is easy for us to get to a point where we become calloused for our nation or at least those around us who are sinning. We can become so bitter toward how people are acting that we actually want God to pour out His judgment on them. Isaiah’s reaction was not to get made but he would actually weep for the people because of the sins that they were committing.

Weep: to express deep sorrow for usually by shedding tears

Isaiah 10:1-2 Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression,to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!

1)   Weep for them because of the Sins of the Nation

Woe to those who pass wicked decrees

This was not just poor leadership this was a leadership that was intentionally hurting others for their own gain.  Woe communicates a person’s deep sorrow over the death of an individual or a nation because of the unjust laws that leaders were putting in place for their own benefit. They were abusive to the poor which included anyone that had a disability that kept them from being able to get a wage. The Court systems were rigged in favor of the rich and they would prey on the widows and their vulnerability. The people that the leaders should have been protecting  took advantage of them for their own gain and this is a serious offense to God who will judge them for not caring for the people He put in their care.

Our nation is giving into more and more sins and we have a responsibility to not become angry or indifferent but to be broken hearted for them.  The world is walking in darkness and we are called to be a light but when people know that we are angry at their sin they stay away from us because most people cannot separate the anger over their sin from who they are. Our world teaches that who you are is what you do which is the opposite of what God teaches. Take homosexuality for example. Many will say that it is who they and for the first time we are designated by our sexual behavior rather than as an individual.  Christians, right or wrong, have a reputation for not being loving. We cannot change everyone’s opinion but time spent praying and weeping over our nation will change our demeanor of the people we work and live around and will enable us to have the tougher conversations with them about how the sin they are committing is destroying their lives.

Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Jesus wept over a nation that was killing the very people God sent to them because He looked past what they were doing and saw how they were being deceived by Satan.  What is your attitude toward our nation right now and some of the people you see on television?  What is your view of a relative or coworker who is throwing their life away because of sin?  Our hearts need to be broken for our world and not become so calloused that we no longer are sad when then their sins destroy them.

Isaiah 10:3-4 What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth? Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.

2)   Weep for them because of the Judgment of God

What will you do on the day of reckoning? Who will you turn to for help? Who will you leave your riches to?

Questions are to make us think and in this instance they are to make people think so that they can repent before it is too late.  Christians use questions to make people think when they are talking to them so that people will evaluate their lives.

“If you were to die today and stand before God and He were to ask you why He should let you into Heaven what would you say?”

A simple question that I heard a man make fun of because he didn’t know we were going to have to pass a test before we get into Heaven. The point of the question is to get the listener to seek the true answer not to get an answer correct so that you can get into Heaven.

How would you answer this question about God letting you into Heaven? Your response will tell what you really believe and then you can look and evaluate it according to God’s word.

“How many people today, if asked why they are sure of their salvation, would answer, “I was baptized,” or “I was confirmed,” or “I go to church,” or I walked forward at the end of a church service,” or “I prayed a prayer with someone,” or “I was raised in a Christian home,” or “I raised my hand in response to a sermon,” or “I take the Lord’s Supper,” or “I did so many good things to help people”?  (How Can I be sure I am a Christian, Donald S. Whitney, Pg. 15)

We may not think that death is around the corner and we may not want to talk about it but the reality is that each one of us is going to stand before God one day and so the ultimate questions that need to be answered is which religion is true and how can one make it to Heaven. One day every person will stand before God to give an account and there is only one way they will be acceptable to God and that is through Jesus Christ.

Acts 16:30-31 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

The foundation of Christianity is Christ and His work on the cross.  The only way we can be accepted by God is by accepting the work Jesus did for us instead of trying to work to be in God’s favor on our own.

To add anything to the work of Christ is to demean His sacrifice on our behalf.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

“Faith Alone” we believe that it is not by our works that we gain righteousness but by faith in Jesus Christ. Some religions say that it is not enough that Jesus died on the cross you have to do things to finish His work of redemption. This is simply not true and it goes against what God’s word says.

A day will come when every person will give an account to God (Hebrews 4:13)

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

If we are accepted not by all of the things that were mentioned then we need to know what the will of the Father is. The will of the Father  is not prophesying, casting out demons or doing mighty works it is believing that what Jesus did was enough.

John 6:28-29 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

People will stand before God and tell them all of the things they did but notice In Matthew 7:21-23 there is no mention of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The works mentality or at least not being a terrorist seem to make people think that they can get into Heaven on their own works or by being a decent person.  If we are going to say that we are Christ followers then we need to follow the sayings of Jesus and Jesus makes it clear that the work of God is to believe in Jesus.

Are works part of the will of God? Yes but our works flow from the grace that we have been given through Christ on our behalf. Matthew 25 is clear that people served Jesus without even realizing it because it was part of their nature and they will be rewarded at the end of time for things they did not really know they were doing.

Isaiah ask them; “Who will you turn to for help? “

As we have been saying many people look to their works as the thing that will let them into heaven.

Christians do not point to their works because they simply point to the work of Jesus Christ and so they turn to Him.

1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

An advocate stands between the judge and the person being tried.  As Christians we turn simply to Jesus Christ on the day that we stand before God who is the Judge and He will stand in on our behalf blocking us from the wrath of God.

Isaiah then ask them; “Where will you leave your wealth? “

The corruption that was taking place was to make some people wealthier and they were consumed with how much money they were making. We are a nation that is consumed with making money just like the nation of Judah and when our priorities in life become about making money for our own gain then we lose out on what our purpose is for the ability to make money. The blessings God gives us are always to be a blessing to others not just for our own benefit or gain.

Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

What is more important to you, your wealth or your relationship with Jesus?  Our treasures will wind up on the junk pile one day and the only thing that will last is our souls.  All our wealth will do nothing when we stand before God.

Isaiah warns them by saying; “For all this his anger has not turned away”

We talked about the wrath of God but the people will experience Gods wrath as He destroys Judah only saving a remnant of people. God’s hand of judgment is to first get people to turn to Him but when they don’t then He will keep the pain on in hopes that they turn to Him.

“If God cannot bring us to repentance through His word, then He must lift His hand and chasten us. If we do not submit to His chastening, then He must stretch out His hand and judge us. God is longsuffering, but we dare not tempt Him by our careless and callous attitude.” (Be Comforted, Warren W. Wiersbe, Pg. 48)  

We need to be careful to not take the discipline of God lightly.  God will warn us but the longer we refuse to listen the more He will increase the pain. We need to be careful to not get in the way of what God is doing in someone’s life by removing pain that He is causing to get their attention. The most important thing in anyone’s life is if they have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ by believing in Him and what He did on the cross for us.

Closing

The questions Isaiah asked we all need to think about. What will you do on the Day of Judgment? Who will you turn to for help when you stand before God? What are you going to do with your riches? Because our nation and many of our friends and loved ones answer these things in the wrong way we need to weep but also tell them the truth.  We need to have answers but we must also make sure that we do not become hard hearted toward the very people God has placed us around to help.

 

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Isaiah 9:8- 21 The Wrath of God

Even though Isaiah is trying to get their attention the people are still not listening  and now he is going to try and convince people to look at the mistakes of their brothers to the north (Israel)  God’s wrath is clear throughout the Bible and His wrath is not just an Old Testament concept but is something that is necessary because of His Holiness and His Justice.   Jesus death on the cross provided a way for God’s wrath to be removed from us but even Jesus Himself said that not everyone has God’s wrath removed from them just because He died for everyone.

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.

Notice that believing in Jesus means you will obey Him. You do not do good works to earn Christ favor you do good works because God pours His life in and through you and therefore you do the works He wants you to do. Religion says that you do good works to earn God’s favor but Christ died to put us in a relationship with God and from that our lives will do the works He desires us to do. Romans chapter eleven says we are grafted into the vine and now the vine, who is Jesus Christ, (John 15:5) flows through you. Never think that Christianity is about living right without first believing and then receiving the power of the Holy Spirit to do so.

The wrath of God was poured out on Jesus at the cross and you can accept it or you can take the wrath yourself by being eternally separated from God.  (Romans 2:5) If you go back to Isaiah chapter six we see that Isaiah was touched and his sin and guilt were removed it had nothing to do with his actions. When we humble ourselves before God and accept His free gift of salvation then we are freed from not only the sin but the guilt that accompanies it.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered[a] once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

We do not have to punish ourselves for our sins because Christ already did that for us. Yes, you will suffer consequences here on earth (Galatians 6:7) but we do not have to punish or try to do good works to make up for our sin because Jesus death on the cross is what makes us right in the eyes of God.

We are going to see why God’s wrath is still against them and why so that we, like the nation of Judah, have an opportunity to learn from it. We must remember that God’s wrath is not like our wrath because our wrath can be off of emotions,  lack of control or even wrongly given because of our limited knowledge. God’s wrath is always perfect because God is perfect and there is no injustice with God.

Many times when people think of Gods wrath they have the wrong view because they think God is like them. Isaiah is going to show them that God’s wrath is going to be poured out against an unrepentant people, a leadership that is leading people away from God and a nation that continues to ignore God.

Read Isaiah 9:8-13 The Lord has sent a word against Jacob, and it will fall on Israel; and all the people will know, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, who say in pride and in arrogance of heart: 10 “The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.” 11 But the Lord raises the adversaries of Rezin against him, and stirs up his enemies.12 The Syrians on the east and the Philistines on the west devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. 13 The people did not turn to him who struck them, nor inquire of the Lord of hosts.

1)   Gods wrath against prideful people

The people of Israel (Northern Kingdom, Judah was southern) were warned but they would not listen.

Isaiah was using the Northern Kingdom to show the Southern Kingdom that they did not have to have the same fate as them if they would turn to God. God does not make empty threats to scare us into good behavior His warnings are for us to heed so that we do not experience His judgments.  Judgment is a final sentence that is given out with what we deserve. Discipline is what God does to direct His children in the right direction. Many times we think discipline and judgement are the same thing but they are different because judgment can be an eternal decision where discipline gives the opportunity for change.

The bricks have fallen down but we will rebuild

Instead of looking at the destruction around them as warnings from God they arrogantly said whatever gets destroyed will be rebuilt and we will do a better job when we do rebuild it. They refused to turn to God because they believed themselves to be the rulers of their own destiny and in control of their own circumstances.

Have you ever looked at your circumstances as God trying to get your attention? How many times do we arrogantly plan our days with no thought about God or what He wants us to do?  We should always turn to God in good times and the bad but these people were not going to turn to God because of disaster they were arrogantly telling Him that whatever is destroyed they would make it better. We do the same thing when we do not pause and seek God in the midst of what is going on around us. It may be that the things that are happening in your life are there for you to turn to God, learn to rely on Him more or simply because He is growing an area of your life to be more like Christ.

For all his anger has not turn away and his hand is stretched out still

The initial wrath of God was not met with repentance or humbleness and so God continues to raise His hand against the nation. Outstretched hand: A symbol of Gods power which is ready to act either for good or for punishment. (Exodus 15:12; Zephaniah 2:13) The bible uses the symbol of a hand for God to show the personal involvement of God it does not mean He has actual hands. The people chose not to seek God or to look for assistance from Him because spiritual insensitivity makes us oblivious not only to God but His warnings as well.

1 Peter 5:5-7 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Are you the type of person who does not need God?  Do you live your life as if God does not exist?

Isaiah 9:14-17 So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed in one day—
15 the elder and honored man is the head, and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail; 16 for those who guide this people have been leading them astray, and those who are guided by them are swallowed up. 17 Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men, and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows; for everyone is godless and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly.[a] For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.

2)   God’s wrath against false teachers and leaders

The prophet that teaches lies is the tail

The people were being led astray by two sets of leaders, Politicians and Religious Leaders. The Politicians and Religious leaders were more concerned with getting rich rather than what was best for the people.  The  leaders were more concerned with teaching what people wanted to hear rather than telling them the truth.  Jesus warned us about false prophets and it is something we have to be aware of today because not every preacher is called by God but some have called themselves into ministry for their own gain.

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Beware or to be aware of because Jesus says these will be people that look like good teachers. Every teaching needs to be scrutinized by the word of God. If they tested what the Apostle Paul said (Acts 17:11) then every pastor should have his message scrutinized to see if it lines up with the word of God.

“for those who guide this people have been leading them astray”

As a leader I have a responsibility to God to point people to the truth.  Many false pastors will continue to raise up false teachings even to the point of denying the work of Jesus Christ.  When anyone tells you that Jesus Christ is not the only way to Heaven (John 14:6) or that He is not God in the flesh (1 John 4:2) then they are a false prophet.

2 Peter 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

What is being taught in churches is not always the truth. The reason we have tried to be diligent against certain teachings is because of the destruction they do to people. Health Wealth gospel teaches a false gospel by telling you that you can earn Gods favor and His blessings by your faith. Hebrews chapter eleven tells us that people who had faith did not see the things they were promised because God had something better for them. Romans 16:7 and Ephesians 5:11 says to watch out for false teachers but to also avoid them and mark them for others to know.  Colossians 2:8 says that we should not follow the traditions of man and the teachings that can draw us away from Christ. We need to be aware that there are always false teachers leading the masses away from the truth and it is up to us to know the truth and test their teachings with God’s word.

Isaiah 9:18-21 For wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke. 19 Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land is scorched, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no one spares another. 20 They slice meat on the right, but are still hungry, and they devour on the left, but are not satisfied; each devours the flesh of his own arm, 21 Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim devours Manasseh; together they are against Judah. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.

3)   God’s Wrath against the Nation

Surely wickedness (Wrongdoing) burns like a fire.

Two fires are burning in the nation the first is the destruction caused to themselves by wickedness. Israel and Judah were a society like ours that wanted to live however they wanted to live but they did not realize that their sinful behavior was hurting themselves and others.  They were turning on each other out of their selfish gain because they had no regard for anyone else but only their own satisfaction.   When God tells us not to do something it is for our good and it is not to rob us of some pleasure we think we deserve.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The destruction of their nation was  because of the sins they were committing. Sin has consequences and not just for those who are committing them but also for everyone who is associated with them. Isaiah calls the people briers and thorn plants that would quickly be burned up in a fire. (Isaiah 5:6, 7:23-25)  If you remember the people were proudly displaying their sins for all to see even being accused by Isaiah of having parades to sin in public. (Isaiah 5:18)

They eat but are not satisfied

Sin never satisfies us because it is it the exact opposite of what God has given to us to enjoy. If you pay attention you will see that our nation will start asking for more and more sins to be normalized and the reason for that is because the more they give into sins the more they will see that those sins will not give them what they are longing for.

Jesus visited a well where He meets a woman who had five husbands and the one she was with was not her husband. She was trying to find fulfillment with the things of this world and she thought the next relationship was the one that would bring her fulfillment. Jesus then tells her the only place she can find the fulfillment she is looking for is in God.

John 4:13-14  Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.[b] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Only a relationship with Christ can give you what you are longing for because we were created to be in a loving relationship with God. All the things of this world that you try and get to bring fulfillment will leave you looking for more. This is why the biggest house, the nicest car the new wife, the better job never leave you satisfied. They cannot give you what you need because only God can with a relationship with Him.

By the wrath of the Lord the land will be scorched

The second fire is the wrath of God against the sins they are committing and refuse to repent of. Part of God’s wrath is simply allowing people to live with the consequences of their own decisions and rebelliousness.  The destruction that happens in their own lives by their own doing is one way God pours our His wrath before He pours out His wrath for all eternity.  (Romans 1:18-32)

Closing

You do not have to experience God’s wrath at all because of Jesus Christ.

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

God is patient with people and He wants them all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) but He will also allow you to live with the decisions you make that harm yourself and unfortunately others. Christ died for our sake because we could not meet the requirements of God through works (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Galatians 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

If any of our own works could make us right with God then Jesus died for nothing.  The grace of God is a very difficult concept for people to accept because even if they believe Jesus died for them they believe they still have to do something in order to earn Gods favor. The only way you can be in a right relationship with God is through His grace that was given through Jesus Christ.  Grace is not grace if you have to do anything to earn Gods favor.  Have you accepted the free gift of salvation through Christ Alone? If not then I would encourage you to ask God to call out to God to be saved from His wrath that is coming upon you through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:13  For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

 

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Isaiah 9:1-7 Focus on the Future

One ways for people to keep focused on a difficult task or when they are in a difficult situation is to remember what they are going through will pass.  Isaiah is going to encourage the followers of God to remember their future as they walk through the trials that are going to be caused by others.  God does not promise us that life will be easy in fact He tells us the opposite will be true because sin has infected the world and because of sin people act selfishly and even evil at times.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Our peace comes not from what happens to us but the fact that Jesus died and rose again from the dead so that we could live eternally with Him.  God will communicate through Isaiah about a glorious future that we can count on and a future that does not put us in denial about the trials we are facing but a future that puts our trials in perspective.

1)   The Future is Bright

Isaiah 9:1-2 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.[b 2 [c] The people who walked in darkness  have seen a great light, those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

Gloom and anguish are two words people are familiar with in this world. Pain and suffering can make it seem like the misery will never end. When you have a gloomy outlook the world seems dark and there seems to be no hope not only in the present but the future as well. Isaiah wants the followers of God to know that no matter how dark the world will become around them there is a bright future ahead.  Isaiah mentions areas of Israel that were the most war torn, pagan and overall the least likely area that would have a bright future. These areas were overrun by the Assyrian army months after Isaiah met with King Ahaz. We have to remember that no matter how dark our individual world or the world in general gets there is always hope in Christ because a glorious future waits for us.

“Walking in Darkness or a land of deep shadows.” The Bible equates darkness with being separated from God. (Matt 25:30;1 Peter 2:9) We cannot forget that people are blind to the ways of God and walking in darkness and therefore we need to have grace and mercy on them and pray for them. Darkness brings fear, uncertainty, danger and it also makes you not see everything correctly. The ultimate darkness is death but even that we do not have to be afraid of.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[a] I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Death is but a shadow to Jesus because He has already died and conquered death. As Christians we need to treat death as a shadow that might look scary but it really isn’t because we do not face death like the rest of the world. (1 Thess. 4:13)

“A Light has shined” If you have ever been in total darkness then you know any light is welcomed even if it is not that bright. Jesus is the light according to Matthew 4:13-16 which quotes this verse as proof that Jesus was God in the flesh. God is light (Psalm 27:1),  God’s word is light (Psalm 119:105) Jesus is the light (John 8:12) and with Christ we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16)  God has us here because we are the ones to help people get out of the dark by letting our light shine. Just like in Isaiah’s day not everyone will listen that Jesus is the way.

John 3:19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

People run from the light because they do not want to give up their evil deeds. We are called out of darkness to face the truth about ourselves and all of our sins and give our lives over to Jesus who is the one who can save us and put us in a right relationship with God.  No matter what we face on this earth we will experience the light of Christ for eternity

Isaiah 9:3-5 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you  as with joy at the harvest,  as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood  will be burned as fuel for the fire.

2)   The Future is Joyful

“They shall be joyful before you” They is plural for God’s people not a single nation. Where do we rejoice? Before the Lord. Our joy comes when we place our hope and trust in God and not in our leaders, military or financial institutions.  Just like King Ahaz many peoples joy is dependent on things that will let them down. Joy at the Harvest: When the people would have an exceedingly great year they would break out in joy in singing and dancing because they knew that God had blessed them. It was a wild celebrative Joy like when you favorite team wins.  Divide the Spoil: The enemy will be defeated the war clothes will be burned.  Yoke of his burden: when sin and death will no longer be an issue anymore. The yoke was used on animals and people so they could carry more weight. They were not free but enslaved. The rod: used to punish will be taken away.

Are you looking forward to the day when your burdens are gone?  We will work in Heaven but it will return to Gods original design. (Gen 2:15; Matt: 25:20) It will be paradise or also called “The Garden of God .”

John 8:34-36Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave[b] to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Our world believes they are free if they are able to give into every desire they have but it only leads them to more bondage.  Jesus is the only one who can really free us from slavery and then we are no longer slaves but sons and daughters of the King.

Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder, and his name shall be called[e] Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace  there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

3)   The Future is Jesus

Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given The one prophesied about in Isaiah 7:14 is now further described.  Born: the prophecy clearly states that God will come in the flesh. Given: to us because it was for our sake that Jesus came to die on the cross for our sins. We cannot earn our own salvation. The government will be upon His shoulder: He will be the ruler in the future and we will no longer have to worry about corrupt governing officials. Wonderful Counselor: Beyond human understanding with complete knowledge and wisdom. Wonderful also means miraculous meaning that He would show the miracles of God. One of the signs the people should have looked for was the miracles. They saw them but they still did not believe in Him. (John 3:2) Mighty God: A warrior who was also God. Everlasting Father: The Old Testament does not expressly talk about the trinity. Father is a King (1 Samuel 24:12) the one who will rule and everlasting because Jesus was before the world began. Everlasting cannot apply to any human ruler and Jesus can give us eternity with Him. Prince of Peace: Again as ruler but also peace is not meant to show Jesus demeanor it is more a keeper of the peace or one who can make peace happen.  The future will be peace because there will be no more wars, pain, suffering or separation from those we love.

The focus on the future was to give hope to the people in Isaiah’s day that no matter how bad things got a better day is waiting for those who put their trust in God and specifically Jesus. No politician or government will ever bring about the future that we have waiting for us.  This future is God initiated and He will bring it to pass.  The people in Isaiah’s day were going through a very dark period of life and for those who trusted in God it was important that they looked toward the future and not their present circumstances.  Do not allow the things that are taking place in our world detour you from focusing on what God is doing.  His promises are true and one day all the things of the world will be gone. I would encourage you to Focus on the future as you live your daily lives because it is by focusing on the future that it will keep this life in perspective.

 

 

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Isaiah 8:16-22 The Testimony

When the world is set on ignoring God what are we supposed to do as followers of Christ?  Many people complain about what the world and especially America is becoming but we have a responsibility in how we are to live in the midst of a world that is ignoring God. Isaiah knew what it was like to have his message ignored and his warnings to people who kept rejecting God and following after other gods and seeking solutions through political means. God called Isaiah and He is calling us to live in such a way that our very lives point people to Jesus Christ. The way we live is called our Testimony.

Testimony; a statement made by a witness under oath especially in a court or a public declaration of a religious experience

We are all called to have a testimony to not just speak words but to live our lives as a testimony to the truth. Today we will see that Isaiah and his family were called to do just that among people who were ignoring God.

Isaiah 8:16-17 Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching[a] among my disciples. 17 I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.

1)   The Testimony of God’s Word

“Seal up the testimony “  The act of storing and sealing the scroll so no changes could be made to it.

The first thing that should be a testimony to the world is that the Bible is spoken from our lips and shown through our lives.  The Bible is God’s revelation to us about Himself and His salvation from our sins.  No book in history has been more scrutinized and banned than the Bible and the reason it comes under so much criticism is because if people want to ignore God they have to also ignore the Bible.

God wanted the people to see that the things that Isaiah prophesied about will come true and so God had Isaiah make a legal document that could be verified later. The Bible has never been proven untrue and you have to twist the scriptures or distort its meaning if you want to say that it is untrue. Followers of Christ preserve the Word of God by remembering its promises that God will make all things new in the end. As we trust in the promises of God we will not give into the ways of the world.

Psalm 119:11 I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

We need to seal up and store Gods word in us so that people see the testimony of God through us.  We can count on the testimony of God’s word because it has never been wrong and God’s word is more than just a book because it is from God Himself. This is why people can read the Bible and be convicted of sins and even change by surrendering their wills to God through Jesus Christ. The Bible is special and unique because God made it that way. The prophecies in the bible have come true time and time again and the prophecies that are still to come can be counted on to happen as if you are reading tomorrow’s news headlines.

To “wait” means that we are to patiently look for divine intervention We are people of action and we do things even if they are wrong because we do not trust what God can do. When our world seems to be ignoring God we need to just wait on Him to act because what He has promised will come true.

God is hiding His face from the people because of their rejection of Him even though He has reached out to them through His prophet Isaiah.  To hides ones face means to withdraw favor from them.

To Hope: means to have eager expectation. When the rest of the world rejects God the disciples (followers of Christ) are to put their trust in His promises as they patiently wait with the Hope that He will do what He says He will do. You have to decide to be faithful to God when the majority of the world walks away from Him.  Is your life a living testimony of the word of God?  In order for the word of God to speak through your life you need to store Gods word in your heart by reading, memorizing and meditating on it.

Isaiah 8:18 Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.

2)   The Testimony of your Family

“I and the Children are signs” Isaiah was letting them know that their family would be a reminder of who God is and what He expects from His people. Isaiah name means Yahweh is salvation so even his name would be a reminder. Isaiah and his family would live and walk among people and how they lived would tell others that God is the true source of salvation. Our families are to be testimonies to the rest of the world in how we live and where we put our faith and trust.  When we are living like the rest of the world by placing our faith and trust in other things but God then we are not a testimony to them. How we handle disappointment, how we handle getting cut from a team, how we handle a job loss and so forth all are testimonies to where we place our hope and trust.

“Some church parents fearful of the world try to isolate their children from the lost. Those same parents probably hope their children will grow up to be strong adults who then will try to win the world to Jesus. Unfortunately, there is no magic switch a parent can throw to change an older teen’s mindset from avoid lost people at all costs to “draw all people to Christ”. Parents who have reared the family with a bunker mentality probably will get young adults content to live out their lives in that bunker. … How many days or years has it been since you joined with your child to pray by name for a lost friend? …What is a step you can take this week to lead members of your family to have hearts for the lost? (Youth Ministry that Last a Lifetime, Dr. Richard Ross, Pg 104-105)

We have to remember that God left Isaiah and his entire family in the midst of a people who had rejected God to be a testimony to the truth.  Your family is a testimony or a declaration about God that the world cannot ignore because what you make a priority in your life will be seen by others.

Isaiah 8:19-22 And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. 21 They will pass through the land,[b] greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against[c] their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. 22 And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.

3)   The Testimony of where to find the Truth

“Should not a people inquire of their God?” When we seek our answers from God and not the answers the rest of the world has to offer we give testimony to who God is. The world seems to seek everyone and everything else while ignoring God and unfortunately we seem to do the same thing as Christians.

“Should they inquire of the dead among the living?”  It was culturally acceptable to call upon the dead Seeking out mediums or fortune tellers or anyone who gets in contact with the dead is forbidden in scripture. (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18:9-12)

“Why would anyone want to talk to a dead person’s spirit about the living? It’s illogical for God’s covenant people to seek advice from anyone other than their own covenant God. He knows them, loves them, protects them, and guides them, so why would they go elsewhere? It also does not make much sense to go to the dead to find out about the living. The spirit of a dead person does not become a divine being with supernatural knowledge about the future. (The New American Commentary, Gary V. Smith, Pg 230-231)

Hebrews 4:14-16  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

1 Timothy 2:5 says there is one mediator between God and man and there is no need to go to anyone else but Him. We have access to God through Jesus Christ and we have been given the ability to approach God directly so why go anywhere else? The people in Isaiah’s day were ignoring God and turning to the dead for answers but it is only going to plunge them into deeper darkness.

“They will look to the earth… thrust into darkness.”  All the answers the world has do not lead to light but only to darkness. Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death but so many people do not believe that.

“The person who does not believe that God exists has every reason to be depressed because he has no absolute standard for determining anything in his life; values are relative and events are random. There is not, nor can there be, any purpose for his life, and sooner or later he discovers that. As a result, a logical and consistently thinking unbeliever cannot help but be depressed.” Out of the Blues, Wayne Mack, Pg 34)

It is truly a sad day when a person is following the patterns of the world to only discover it leads them to more darkness.  Life without God leads to destruction of one’s life not just in this life but also the one to come.  People are lead astray by the lies of the world and we need to testify to the truth which is God’s word (John 17:17) and Jesus Himself. (John 14:6).  2 Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light which means what seems to be the correct way to lead to light will eventually destroy you. This is why it is important that we let our light shine in the darkness so people can find the way home. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Ephesians 5:11-16 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

“They will speak against their king and their god.” People may hate you simply because you expose them for how they are living. They will blame everyone and everything, the gods they worshiped and even God Himself for how miserable they are. Spiritual darkness is a dangerous place to be because you can lose all hope that is why we are called to be light (Matthew 5:16) and Share the light with them. This is why it is important that we do not follow the ways of the world that lead to darkness because some people do not even know they are on the wrong path.

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path

Where are people going to turn when they realize they believe a lie? If Christ followers continue to say that it does not matter how you live or what you believe then people will have no hope of finding that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6)

1 Peter 3:15  but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

We have the responsibility to have ourselves and our families be a testimony to the rest of the world. In order for our lives to be a testimony we have to make sure that we are not looking to the world for answers but only to God Himself through His word and prayer. Where do you go when you do not have the answers, to God and His word or to the ways of the world? How are people going to know the truth unless we share with them and live a life in front of them that shows them that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the LIFE (John 14:6) Your life is giving a testimony either toward God or away from Him.

 

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Isaiah 8:1-15 True Peace

Isaiah will now leave King Ahaz and his court and now make a plea and a prophecy to the people. King Ahaz has hardened his heart against God and now Isaiah will plead with the people to place their faith in God and not their governing officials. Peace is something our world will talk about until the end of time and many people are looking for peace but they are doing so by looking to people and circumstances to gain that peace.People think finances or government can bring them peace but as the people in Isaiah’s day will be warned those things cannot bring you peace because only God can.

Isaiah 8:1-4 Then the Lord said to me, “Take a large tablet and write on it in common characters,[a] ‘Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz.’[b] And I will get reliable witnesses, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, to attest for me.”And I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, “Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz; for before the boy knows how to cry ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria.”

1)   Peace by remembering the Promises of God

“Write this down” God just gave a long term prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 but now God will give a short term prophecy so that the people can have faith in Him. This time God will talk about a child that Isaiah and his wife will have that is a reminder to the people that God is in control. God calls on Uriah the priest and Zechariah who were probably not supporters of Isaiah and probably skeptics about the prophecies that Isaiah was making to be witnesses to this short term prophecy. Even though people are spiritual like a priest they can still deny the power of God in this life. (2 Timothy 3:5) They will now be the witness to the things of God is going to do as Isaiah writes the name of his son Maher-shalal-hash –baz who will be born nine months later. The child would be a reminder that God is going to have the spoils of Samaria (capital of Israel) and have Damascus (Syria) plundered by the King of Assyria.  Israel and Syria were both going to attack Judah so this was good news for Judah who thought they made the right decision by placing their faith in Assyria.

Isaiah already talked in Chapter 7 about their destruction but many of the people may not have heard that part of the prophecy. God not only said what He was going to do He even gave them a time frame that it would happen before Isaiah’s child can say mother or Father. When tragedy strikes we must remember what God has already said and rely on Him for our salvation rather than on other people, politicians, military power. We can have peace when we exercise faith in the promises of God.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Peace is more than the absence of conflict it is first about being at peace with God. Isaiah wrote down the prophecy for all to see and we need to write down the promises of God so that we also can have peace when our lives are in peril.

Isaiah 8:5-10 The Lord spoke to me again: “Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River,[c] mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.”Be broken,[d] you peoples, and be shattered;[e]give ear, all you far countries; strap on your armor and be shattered; strap on your armor and be shattered. 10 Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing;  speak a word, but it will not stand,  for God is with us.[f]

2)   Peace comes through the ways of God

“Because the people have rejected”The issue was that the people who should have been placing their faith in God and God alone were seeking out other means to deal with life’s problems. They put their trust in another countries military rather than placing their trust in God. Because they rejected God they will suffer consequences by God by allowing them to get what they wanted. When tragedy strikes or life does not go the way people think it is amazing how quickly they give up on God. The peace in their life they hoped to attain through other means will come back and bring them more problems.

Gentle waters of Shiloah is God who is the river of Life. This is who Jesus compared Himself to as the woman at the well. She had 5 husbands and now was with another man who was not here husband. She was looking for peace and happiness that would not be found by the ways of the world.

John 4:13-14 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.[a] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The things that we think are going to bring us peace seem to leave us longing for something more and just like the woman at the well we keep filling our lives with other things hoping that it is the solution. The waters of the River are the Assyrian army which instead of bringing peace it is going to flood till they are neck deep. O Immanuel was a short prayer or reminder to the followers of God that regardless how bad things became God was with them.

Proverbs 21:30-31 No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord.31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.

We can rest assured that what seems to us as a tragedy God is working for purposes that go beyond our understanding. One of the promises we have as Christians is that God is with us.  My only disclaimer I will give is that some people think they are Christians when they are not.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Those who are not truly followers of Christ cannot claim the promises of God. Just because you say you are a Christian does not mean you are one. Are you following or just giving lip service? Matthew 21 Jesus said the one who was the obedient son was the one who the work not just said that he was going to do the work.  Many of the people Isaiah was talking to were not followers of God but worshiped other gods and so the people Isaiah was encouraging with the phrase “Immanuel” were the ones who were going to go through tragedy for no reason of their own.

Strap on your armor and be shattered, Take counsel together but come to nothing. How many times do we do our best and leave God out of our plans? God is letting them know that their best efforts and their best plans are going to fail them because they have rejected Him and placed their trust in other things. Shattered means inner psychological stress which drains people of the will to resist. They Give up. Although it looks like the enemy will win God is assuring them that His plans will not be overtaken.

Isaiah 8:11-15 For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”

3)   Peace comes by Fearing God not People or Circumstances.

“Do not follow the way of this people ““This People” was a distinction from those who did not follow God. We are not to follow the wisdom or the ways of the world. Isn’t amazing that what is happing in our day has been happening 700 years before Christ was even born? Ahaz may have been spreading false news to cover his poor decisions and people were buying into conspiracy theories. We are not to get caught up in foolish talk that leads to fear. Do some conspiracy theories come true? Of course but that is not supposed to be our focus. We should be in “Awe” (reverence/ fear) of God and not in Awe of people or circumstances.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart which means your mind and emotions. Do not lean on your own understanding. (You do not have it figured out)  He will guide you.

“The Lord of Host let Him be your fear “Nothing should bring you fear more than God if it does than you made the problem bigger than it is and you made God smaller than He is.

“The Rock of Refuge” Refuge a place where you can go to escape from harm. If you can imagine a flood and you find a Giant rock to climb up on for safety that is what God is for those who put their faith and their hope in Him.

Psalm 18:2-3 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,  my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

Gods promise to the people that followed Him is that the waters would only get neck deep but would not destroy them. God’s promise of a Messiah that would save the world will still come through Judah no matter how bad things look.

“A Stone that causes men to stumble” For those who continue to trust themselves or others then the rock becomes something that destroys them.

Matthew 21:42-44 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;[d] this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”[e

The rock can save your or destroy you the choice is yours. Trap is something that destroys you when you least expect it. When we give into the ways of the world then we become trapped and taken captive by its lies. We should not be caught in the same traps the world is in because our peace is in God.

Do you only have peace when your circumstances are going your way or do you have peace because you have placed your hope and Trust in God through Jesus Christ?  Do you fear what the rest of the world fears? If so you are not trusting in God.  Do you trust the promises of God?  Have you placed your hope on the Rock which is Jesus Christ?  The peace Jesus gives is first with God because He takes His wrath away.  Peace then comes when we see the world from God’s perspective and do not rely on the ways of the world for our peace.

 

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Isaiah 7:10-25 The Sign

Even though King Ahaz was not putting his trust in God, God still sent Isaiah to him to let him know that he did not need to fear but to only put his trust in God. God had already determined that Jesus would come through the line of Judah and so although it looked as if Judah could get permanently wiped out God is going to keep His promises and Judah will survive.

God is getting ready to do something for King Ahaz that many people would love to happen to them because God is going to tell Ahaz he can ask for any sign from God that he wants.

If you could ask God for a sign to increase your faith in Him what would it be?

God does give us all a sign that proves not only that He is God but that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah, Immanuel (God with us) The sign that God told King Ahaz about was a promise for the people to look for and it is a core theological belief in the Christian faith. The passage we are going to look at today has a lot of controversy surrounding it and there is much debate about it because if Isaiah 7:14 is true then Jesus is the Messiah that was predicted in this verse. My goal is not to go into all the controversies but to simply show what this sign means to our faith as followers of Christ.

Isaiah 7:10- 11 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: 11 “Ask a sign of the Lord your[f] God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.

1)   A sign to build your faith

“Ask a sign of the Lord your God “ King Ahaz did not have any limitations on what he could ask for and could ask for any miraculous sign he wanted from a sign in the sky to even raising someone from the dead. (Sheol) Signs are given as a confirmation of the promises of God and they are things we look for in order for us to understand what is getting ready to take place. The prophecies that God has given to us that were met by Jesus Christ were signs to watch for and the signs about the end times are signs to help us with our faith as we see the day approaching. Signs point to something and the sign that God is going to give King Ahaz is a sign that points directly to Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 7:12  But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.”

King Ahaz, who has not been putting his trust in God but in himself, now speaks as if he is above doing what God has asked him to do. King Ahaz knows what the scriptures says and because he does not really want a sign to trust God in he looks to the Bible to back him up.

Deuteronomy 6:16 “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.

King Ahaz knew the scripture but it did not affect his daily life until he wanted to sound spiritual in front of Isaiah. (He sacrificed his son to another god)

Matthew 16:4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

Jesus said this after feeding 4000 people and healing many people (Sign of Jonah Matt 12:39) For some people no matter how much God has done it will never be enough to convince them to put their faith and trust in Him. God has given us enough to see that He is the true God and that Jesus is the only way to Heaven and so we should not ask for a sign.

Why was King Ahaz wrong?

King Ahaz did not ask for a sign he was offered one by God. King Ahaz was not testing God by having him give a sign God was freely offering to help his faith. King Ahaz was now disobeying God by refusing to do what God asked him to do. King Ahaz probably did not want a sign because he already had a plan in place to accomplish his mission of keeping Syria and Israel from attacking him by pleading with Assyria to protect Judah. King Ahaz probably did not want to be convinced of the power of God because then he would have to acknowledge that he was not in control.

2 Timothy 3:2-5 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

King Ahaz had a form of godliness but denied Gods power and relied on his own resources. Do we really believe in God or do we just give lip service while we go and try and control our lives? Every sign God has given us from the prophecies that have been fulfilled to the ones that will take place are to build our faith so we place our trust in Him and not in our own abilities or strengths. We do not have to ask for new signs we just need to see the signs God has already given and how they have been met perfectly in Jesus Christ. (300 plus prophecies in O.T. Fulfilled by Jesus)

Isaiah 7:13 And he[g] said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also?

King Ahaz must have been one of those people who just wore people out with his personality. He not only wearied people out but now Isaiah says he is wearing God out. When Employers get weary with an Employee they eventually remove their responsibility from them and come up with another solution. God is weary with King Ahaz and is going to go in another direction. King Ahaz has failed to stand firm in his faith (7:9) and has failed because he placed his faith in another army rather than trusting in God.

Isaiah even says “you weary My God” not “you weary Our God” because King Ahaz has no proof in his life of being a follower of God.

Isaiah 7:14-15  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.[h] 15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.

2)   The Ultimate Sign

“Behold the Virgin will conceive and bear a son and shall call Him Immanuel “  Behold calls attention to the matter and it has to be something worth seeing, something out of the ordinary and something that demands our attention. A normal birth does not warrant the attention of Behold. If you study this verse there are those who do not want to make this a prophecy and they try and prove that Jesus was not the one who fit this profile and they say the verse is talking about a child of Ahaz or Isaiah. The verse does not say “Your Wife, or your young woman” which is how it would have been written if Isaiah would have been talking about that being the sign. The verse was written as something that would take place in the future and we must remember this is dealing with God’s promise made that the messiah would come through the line of Judah (1 Chronicles 17:11-14) which was being threatened to be wiped out by invading armies.

She will call him Immanuel is unusual because it was the responsibility of the father to name the child but it was given to the woman to do. Matthew uses this verse in his gospel which was written to show the Jews that Jesus truly was the Messiah.

Matthew 1:18-25  Now the birth of Jesus Christ[e] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[f] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (See Also Luke 1:30-35) This was a sign not just to King Ahaz but to all the generations that trusted in God.

Immanuel which means God with Us. Jesus was more than a prophet or a good teacher He was God in the flesh. This is a crucial teaching of the church one in which all other religions deny but the Virgin Birth is crucial to not only our beliefs but to our salvation.

“Of course, the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy is in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is “God with us” (Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:31-35)The virgin birth of Christ is a key doctrine; for if Jesus Christ is not God come in sinless human flesh, then we have no Savior. Jesus had to be born of a virgin, apart from human generation, because He existed before His mother. He was not just born in this world; He came down from Heaven into the world (John 3:13; 6:33,38,41-42, 50-51,58) Jesus was sent by the Father and therefore came into the world having a human mother but not a human father. (Be Comforted, Warren W. Wiersbe, Pg. 43)

Jesus was born sinless something we cannot do (Psalm 51:5), lived a sinless life (2 Cor. 5:21) which made Him a perfect sacrifice (1Peter 1:19, Hebrews 9:14) to atone for our sins.

Jesus is called Immanuel, God with us, because God does not save from a distance. One of the promises we have is that God is always with us not matter what we are going through. (Matthew 28:20)

The virgin birth is important because without it we deny the deity of Jesus Christ something  that all other religions do and it is also important to show that Jesus was not born into sin like the rest of humanity. The sign God gave us all is the supernatural birth of Jesus, God in the flesh, Immanuel, God with us, a sign you have to accept or ignore. In verse 15 Isaiah even tells him that Jesus will be born during a time that Judah would be under political oppression which is what was happening when Jesus was on the earth. The Virgin birth and the sign of political oppression were two signs the people should have looked at when Jesus was on the earth. Instead they just accused Jesus of being born out of wedlock. (John 8:41)

3)   Consequences of Ignoring the Sign

Isaiah 7:16 -25 16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. 17 The Lord will bring upon you and upon your people and upon your father’s house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria!”18 In that day the Lord will whistle for the fly that is at the end of the streams of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. 19 And they will all come and settle in the steep ravines, and in the clefts of the rocks, and on all the thornbushes, and on all the pastures.[i]20 In that day the Lord will shave with a razor that is hired beyond the River[j]—with the king of Assyria—the head and the hair of the feet, and it will sweep away the beard also.21 In that day a man will keep alive a young cow and two sheep, 22 and because of the abundance of milk that they give, he will eat curds, for everyone who is left in the land will eat curds and honey.23 In that day every place where there used to be a thousand vines, worth a thousand shekels[k] of silver, will become briers and thorns. 24 With bow and arrows a man will come there, for all the land will be briers and thorns. 25 And as for all the hills that used to be hoed with a hoe, you will not come there for fear of briers and thorns, but they will become a place where cattle are let loose and where sheep tread.

If a road sign says sharp curve ahead and you ignore it there are consequences that could be deadly. When we ignore the signs God has given there are consequences as well. Many think that the prophecy switches from a long term prophecy of the coming of Jesus to another prophecy (Terminology goes from saying “Son” to “Boy”) and Isaiah is known for giving short term prophecies so that people had confidence in the long term prophecies.

Isaiah now switches back to the lack of faith of Ahaz because of his treaty with Assyria they would later demand heavy prices and bring a burden to the land of Judah and it would be a time of suffering that could have been avoided if Ahaz would have trusted in God. We suffer sometimes simply because we do not place our faith and trust in God but in our own resources and ingenuity. IF King Ahaz really believed in God then he would have cancelled his treaty with Syria and placed his faith and hope in Gods promises. Because King Ahaz put his trust in another the consequences are listed in vs (18-25)  The Land will be devastated, the people humiliated and only a few will remain.

God has given us a sign by sending Jesus (God in the flesh) to earth and everyone has to do something about Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 1:1-2 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  

There are consequences for not paying attention to the sign and that you will be eternally separated from God.

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.

The ultimate sign is Jesus Christ and there is enough proof that He was God in the flesh on earth.

Everyone ask for a sign and God has given one but just like King Ahaz they are ignoring it. God has given us enough signs to build our faith and trust in Him but we still have to stop trusting our own works and trust in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation from your sins? Have you forgotten that Immanuel means God with us a promise Jesus reiterated after He died and rose from the dead? You do not have to look for a sign because God has given us plenty already to look at and look forward too.

 

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Isaiah 7:1-9 When Fear Rules

Because Isaiah saw the Holiness of God he then realized how big of a sinner he was and that he had not reason to be in the presence of God. God then touched Isaiah removing his sin and guilt something Isaiah could not have done on his own accord. It was because of the love and grace of God that Isaiah was willing to serve God willingly. Isaiah served out of love for God’s grace not in an effort to win Gods love or grace.

Isaiah accepted his assignment from God even though it would not be met with positive results and God is leaving us here on this earth with the assignment of going and telling others about the free gift of Jesus Christ. Some of Jesus final words are found in Matthew twenty eight where He tells us to go into the entire world and tell people that He died for them.  It will not be easy, it will not be popular but we have the responsibility to tell and teach others.

War is getting ready to break out because God is punishing the people for continuing to ignore Him. God’s people are divided into two kingdoms, Israel to the North and Judah to the south.  Syria and Israel want Judah to join the alliance against the Assyrians to try and stop them from destroying them. The two Kings are mad at King Ahaz for not joining their alliance and so they are going to attack him and then set up another King to take his place. What they do not know is that King Ahaz has already made a treaty with the Assyrians to keep them from invading Judah. Although Ahaz is not a king who is following after God, God sends Isaiah to Ahaz to tell him about what is going to come and basically how those kings will not succeed when they attack Judah together.

King Ahaz had many things going on and the threat of war was real and it would be easy for him to have fear. Fear an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. We all face fears from time to time and so we must know what we must do when these emotions come upon us. The advice God gives King Ahaz is good advice and encouragement for us all because we will all face situations in our lives that can cause us to fear the unknown. (For more about  King Ahaz see 2 Chronicles 28 and 2 Kings 16)

Isaiah 7:1-2  In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not yet mount an attack against it. When the house of David was told, “Syria is in league with[a] Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz[b] and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.

1)   Fear can cause undue physical stress

“The Heart of Ahaz and the heart of the people shook as trees in the wind.” It is easy to say that we should not be ruled by fear but most of us allow fear to rule us because we focus on minds on the wrong things. The King and the people heard about the attacks to come and they knew that they were outnumbered by two armies and so doom was on the horizon and there was nothing physically they could do to stop what was going to take place.

Ahaz the King and the people had their minds in the wrong place because they were focused on the situation and not on the true God. When we focus on our situations in life rather than looking to the God of the universe it causes fear to rule in our hearts and it causes many health problems as well. Sixty diseases are known to be caused by worry and fear. (None of these diseases S.I. McMillan)  The people shook like trees in the wind because of their fear and stress of what could happen. But God tells us that we do not have to live like that if we stay focused on Him.

Isaiah 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

If you are not at peace the first thing you need to do is find out where you are placing your thoughts and then where you are placing your trust.  Philippians 4:8 Tells us to think about what is true and most people have fears that are about things that will never take place. If you allow fear to rule you then the physical toll on your body will eventually show and cause all sorts of undue stress that could have been avoided.

“…proud people want to control every situation and they experience anxiety when they cannot. Proud people think that whatever is not in their control is doomed to failure.” (Down but not out, Wayne A. Mack, PG. 51)

Ahaz was a proud man who was trying to control his destiny through political and physical means. He was not even looking to God for help but God sent him help because of promises of Jesus coming through the line of Judah.

Isaiah 7:3-4 And the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub[c] your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. And say to him, ‘Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah.

2)   Fear can lead us to make bad decisions.

“Be careful, Be calm (quiet), and Don’t be afraid” are Gods advice to the King.  Isaiah takes his son Shear-Jashub which means “A remnant will return” which would be a message of hope for the future to king Ahaz. God tells Isaiah that King Ahaz will be by the upper pool where Ahaz was trying to secure the water supply so that their water would not be cut off by the armies.

Gods Advice to Ahaz was to Be Careful, Be Calm, and don’t be afraid is great advice for all of us. Be Careful or watch yourself because fear could cause you to not only make the wrong decision but also tempt you to sin. Fear and anxiety can lead you to sin by ignoring God by putting your trust in yourself instead of looking to God for His wisdom and His direction for your life.  Fear can also cause you to sin by having you turn to one of the many coping mechanisms we turn to calm ourselves down or to get through life. Things like food, drugs and alcohol get turned to in order for people to cope with what they are dealing with. Many people have made bad decisions out of fear or emotions and so when you are feeling the emotion of fear you need to be careful. We will see later that Ahaz turned to other gods for comfort similar to what we do when we turn to the god of drinking, eating, tobacco, and entertainment.

Be Calm or quiet because we are commanded to listen and wait on God.

Psalm 46:8-11 Come, behold the works of the Lord,  how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

When fear strikes we think we have to make quick decisions because we are putting our trust in our own abilities rather than trusting in God. Have you ever heard Just don’t stand there do something? Sometimes we need to calm down and really pray and think through the decisions we need to make knowing that God is sovereign and that He will guide us. As Christians we should be known as the calmest people on the planet because our trust is in God who is the sovereign ruler of the Universe. 1 Peter 3:15 says we should be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have but we cannot give that hope to others when we are turning to the same coping mechanisms and giving into the same fears as they are. Our lives should be so different that people ask us about them and we get to tell them about our trust in God through Jesus Christ.

Do not be afraid or do not lose heart because fear is paralyzing and discouraging. Fear is paralyzing especially when you do not see life from God’s perspective because you can only see the problems and not the solutions that God can provide. When you focus only on the problems and not on God then you lose heart and you have no desire to keep going because you become very discouraged.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,  and he will make straight your paths.

Isaiah does not condemn Ahaz worship of other gods or even the fact that he offered his son in an offering to a foreign god. (2 Kings 16:1-4) Isaiah focused on Gods instruction to guide Ahaz in order to place his trust in God. I find it interesting that Isaiah did not rebuke King Ahaz because when life does not go the way you planned you do not need people bringing up all the reasons that this is happening to you but a simple message to them to place their trust in God  through Jesus Christ.  Ahaz did not trust God during his rule but Isaiah did not throw that in his face Isaiah just simply offered advice to Ahaz that putting his trust in anything but God would lead to fear. When we or other people allow fear to rule them we have to make sure that we are reminded that God is in control (on the throne) so that we will not lose heart.

Isaiah 7:5-9 Because Syria, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has devised evil against you, saying, “Let us go up against Judah and terrify it, and let us conquer it[d] for ourselves, and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it,” thus says the Lord God: “‘It shall not stand,  and it shall not come to pass.For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin.
And within sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered from being a people. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you[e] are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.’”

3)   Fear makes your problems bigger than they are

God calls them smoldering stick or used up fire wood. To King Ahaz these kings were a giant threat to God they were like wood that had already been burned in a fire that was just smoldering.

Blowing smoke is a term we use when people are all talk but no action. The kings were going to invade and set up their own king but they forgot that God was in charge. The kings say they were going to go up against Judah and terrorize it which means to fill with fear. Most of our news outlets are smoldering sticks that fill us with fear if we let them.  We cannot allow the world to put us in a panic by all the news and social media sites that are stirring up fear. Do not allow your family or friends to put you in a state of panic because they are not trusting God. Our problems, no matter how big we think they are, are nothing to God.

God says “Son of Remaliah” because the son was not even worth mentioning from God’s perspective. The son was of no significance to God that’s why he did not even mention his name. Two years after Isaiah talked to King Ahaz both the kings who were threatening Judah were dead. The person that is a big deal to you may not even have their name mentioned by God or they may not even be around long enough to cause you all the problems they say they are going to cause. “It will not stand, it will not come to pass” because the threat did not happen. The very threat that Ahaz was worried about did not happen and many times the things we worry about do not happen either. How many times have we worried about things and they did not even take place?

“If you do not stand firm in your faith you will fall”: What you are focusing on is where you are placing your faith. If your happiness is based on people, money or job situation then that is where you are placing your faith and all of those things can let you down. If your faith is on God then you know that you will never be let down. The choice for Ahaz and those in his court was simply to put their trust in God and not the surrounding armies or the situation. We need to view everything from God’s perspective knowing that He is going to use all these things we encounter for the good. God is not surprised by what takes place and He is not threatened by anyone and we can trust Him.

James 1:2-6 Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

For us it is not when we will face situations that can cause fear but how we will face them. John 16:33 Jesus said we will have troubles but to not fear because He already overcame the world. Fear does not have to control us because we believe in and trust in the one who died on the cross for our behalf.

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

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Isaiah 6:8-13 Accepting our Assignment

Isaiah saw the Holiness of God and His response was humility because he realized he did not deserve, nor could he earn to be in the presence of God. “Woe is me” is the only thing Isaiah could say because he knew that he deserved death because he was a sinner in front of a Holy God. God did not leave Isaiah where he was but God took away his sin and his guilt something that Isaiah could not remove on his own accord. Because of the mercy and grace of God our response should be lives that are Holy because God is Holy.

Many people are looking for purpose for their lives and many people ask questions like what is my purpose, why do I live in this city and why am I at this job?  God has bigger purposes for us than just the temporary situation we are in right now and God has a bigger purpose than making our short lives on this earth better. Isaiah experience with a Holy God and the forgiveness and mercy he received made him see that his life is not what is important but the assignment to do whatever God has asked of him.

Assignment: trusting someone with a certain task or responsibility.

God has given us all an assignment that He is entrusting us with and because of that all of us have a purpose for our lives that goes beyond this world and that will last for all eternity.

 

Isaiah 6:8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

1)   The Assignment is from God

Who shall I send and Who will go for us? This is plural because it is God speaking to the Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and some say even those who are gathered around His throne. The word “Send” is used because an assignment or task has to be done on God’s behalf. Do you see yourself as being sent by God to go to others for Him or do you just see God as someone who should bless your life? Christians have always been known to be sent people.

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

These verses are known as the great commission or command from Jesus. Barna Research says that 51% of church goers do not know the term the Great Commission. The great commission is just our assignment from Jesus Himself and we need to know it.

Our Assignment

  1. A) Make disciples by telling them about Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf.
  2. B) Baptizing which is a time when people declare their loyalty to Jesus in public
  3. C) Teaching them how to live as a follower of Christ.

This is the responsibility of every person who calls themselves as Christian not just for those who are in full time Christian ministry.

2)   The Assignment has to be accepted

“Here am I send me” It was after Isaiah realized how full of sin he was and after he received the grace and mercy from God by having his sins taken away that it did not matter what God asked him to do he was going to do it. Today we hear mostly about how God is going to bless me so instead of “Here am I send me” we say “We say Here am I bless me” The reason for this is because we have the wrong view of God and the wrong view of ourselves.

 Instagram Christian pages sound like fortune cookies. Here are a few examples of what Christianity has turned into.

“There’s about to be a shift in your life. Get ready for your blessings. You’ve been through enough and a breakthrough is on the way.”

“God has not forgotten about you. You are next in line for a miracle. Claim it and receive it.”

“That job application that you thought has been overlooked, has been approved! Expect a call any day now! Get ready for your blessings and breakthrough.”

“I speak abundant blessings over your life. I speak unusual favor that will promote you to the next level of your destiny. I declare that open doors and opportunities this weekend will chase you down. Type “It’s my season.”

One of these sights on Instagram is from trustgodbro and has 1.3 million followers ant giftofgod_jesus has 18 thousand followers.  Because of these false teachings about God existing for us even Christianity has turned into a group that no longer comes to serve God but looks for God to serve and bless them. All these sayings are about me not about others or the will of God other than if it is Gods will to bless me. Jesus said everything boils down to love God and love others as yourself. (Matt 22:37-40)

Isaiah does not hesitate and at this moment and he does not even know the assignment that God will give him because it did not matter because God forgave him of his sins. Isaiah went from being a spectator of the Heavenly vision to being an active participant. Is your response to God “Yes Lord” or “tell me what you want and I’ll let you know Lord?” One of the ways to make sure you respond properly to God is to first understand the grace and mercy that you received and that will only happen as you understand the Holiness of God. You will serve God more willingly when you focus on His love, mercy and grace after you realize the separation you had from God because of your sin.

Isaiah 6:9-13 And he said, “Go, and say to this people, “‘Keep on hearing,[a] but do not understand; keep on seeing,[b] but do not perceive.’10 Make the heart of this people dull,[c]and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste,12 and the Lord removes people far away,  and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 13 And though a tenth remains in it, it will be burned[d] again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed[e] is its stump.

 

3)   The Assignment does not always have positive results

“Keep on hearing but not understand” Jesus quoted this passage in Matthew 13:13-15. The people that Isaiah was trying to warn had become so spiritually dull that they no longer could hear what God was trying to say to them but Isaiah was supposed to keep telling them. God was giving the people every opportunity so that when they denied Him and spent eternity separated from Him they could only blame themselves. Hearing the word of God is never a neutral exercise it’s either positive or negative. According to the Bible the hardening of the heart comes from God and the individual.  Does God harden hearts? Yes and do people harden their own hearts? Yes.There is nothing in the Isaiah passage or the passage from Jesus that says people did not have an opportunity to repent but it does say the more they hear and the more they see the less likely they will repent and be healed. What happens is over time and the longer you ignore the word of God the more callous you will become toward it therefore hardening your heart.

Telling others about Jesus Christ also becomes a judgment against them just like a speed limit sign becomes a judgment against the one speeding. God was telling Isaiah that he is going to have the opposite reaction that Jonah experienced.  Jonah told them to repent and they did but God warned Isaiah you will tell them and they will not listen, at least not all of them. Our job is to speak the truth no matter what the outcome.

 

Mark 4:3-9 Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Our Job according to 1 Corinthians 3:6 is to plant and water. Maybe you have been sharing about Jesus Christ with family or with coworkers and friends and you have not seen the results you would like. Your job is to be faithful and keep sharing.

“Yahweh is determined to maintain his integrity and holiness. To be sure, healing is graciously offered, but only on divine terms and in God’s way. If these are rejected, then neither the prophet nor the ongoing prophetic ministry of the church has any right to modify the message of judgment until its terms are acceptable to a human audience.” (Isaiah, John L. Mackay, Pg 180)

How long, Lord? God has given the people many chances to repent of their sin but because they continued to ignore Him and His warnings His wrath will be poured out on them from armies He will send. Isaiah wants to know how long this is going to last. This is not him backing down from his assignment but a concern for the people and the destruction they are getting ready to face. How much time do I have Lord to share your truth? God will pour out his wrath because of the rebelliousness of the people but God always does so with a hope for the future Some assignments last longer than others but we know wherever God has assigned us that He has a purpose and a plan for what we are doing. We cannot be so result oriented that we deny what God has called us to do. You may be in a “how much longer Lord”, place in your life but know that your job is to be faithful to Him and faithful to your assignment because judgement is coming.

4)   Our Assignment has eternal significance

“The Holy Seed is its stump” God reminds Isaiah that He has not forgotten the promise of the messiah to come and take away the sin and guilt of everyone. The Holy seed is the promise God gave in the garden (Gen3:15) and again to Abraham(Gen 22:18) that Jesus would come and take away our sins.

Judgment of God is coming and the only ones that will remain are the ones who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It will be total destruction for everything and everyone else. We need to make sure that we are focused on what is most important and that is things that will last for eternity. Your job, your sports career, your bank account and your house do not matter unless they are used for eternal purposes.

Matthew 6:19-21 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[a] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Have you ever asked yourself why you are following Jesus? Are you following Him for what He can do for you physically or are you following Him for what He can do for you spiritually? Isaiah’s life was changed because no matter what he faced he knew his sin and guilt was removed so that he could be in the presence of a Holy God. Many people follow Jesus as long as the miracles are right and the food keeps coming but as soon as He does not do those things then they walk away. We are called to an assignment with eternal significance because peoples eternal lives are at stake simply because they accept or reject the good news of Jesus Christ. Never underestimate the importance of your assignment no matter how difficult it may be. Your family, work, school, neighborhood and extracurricular activities are not just things you do but are assignments by God with eternal significance. Isaiah understands what you are going through and you may even be asking “How long” but for their sake hang in there and keep planting seeds in their lives.

 

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Isaiah 6:5-7 The Response

God just gave Isaiah a vision from Heaven’s point of view showing Isaiah that God is still on the throne even if it seems our world is falling apart. Isaiah saw that God is perfect as  the seraphim were singing  “Holy, Holy Holy to God. Isaiah also saw how powerful God was as His voice shakes the foundation of the world. Until we have the right view of God we will not have the right view of our situation and ourselves.

Many people talk about having an experience with God but most of those do not sound like experiences that are recorded in the Bible. (John fell on his face as if dead Rev.1:17) Many leave worship services claiming a certain experience with God but if we truly have an experience with God it will change us forever. What should our response be when we see the Holiness and Power of God? Isaiah’s response to his vision of God sitting on His throne is a response we all should have if we truly have an encounter with God.

Isaiah 6:5-7 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

1)   The Response of Humility

Woe is Me” “I am Lost” I am a man of unclean lips” Isaiah was only given a vision and a glimpse of the presence of God and he was overwhelmed by how much of a sinner he was.

Psalm 15:1-2 O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;

Isaiah was the one who was calling out the rest of his people for how they were living. Isaiah would have been known as a righteous or even a Holy man by the rest of the people but now the small glimpse of God he received showed him that he was not worthy to be in God’s presence.

“I am a man of unclean lips” Isaiah does not say anything about his feet or hands but what is coming out of his mouth. Isaiah looked like a very moral man on the outside but his lips would reveal something about himself that he knew and that he was really a terrible sinner.

Matthew 12:34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

You can fool some of the people like the religious leaders but the reality is you cannot fool God The religious leaders looked good but Jesus saw them for who they were by how they spoke.

We might be surprised at how many “ GOOD PEOPLE” we went to church with that are not in Heaven.

“I am lost or I am ruined”  Isaiah was devastated because what he experienced he knew he was as good as dead because of his filthiness before God who is Holy (Perfect without Blemish)  We do not see our own sinfulness because we see ourselves as good people with a good heart but that is not how God sees us without Christ.

Romans 7:18  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

We said last week that in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus first wants us to acknowledge Gods Holiness because until we get a grasp of the Holiness of God we will not understand how sinful we really are. We make excuses for our sin like saying “You made me angry” or “That is just how I was raised” instead of acknowledging that our behavior was sinful. We rename our sins and say “it’s a lifestyle choice” or “It’s a bad habit” instead of going by the standard that God has set by His own nature and character. Isaiah realized that he was not even worthy enough to sing praises to God like the Heavenly beings were doing and he just sat there knowing he was doomed and deserved death. Because God is Holy He hates all sin and Isaiah realized the extent of his sin compared to a Holy God.

Isaiah 64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

When Isaiah says he is unclean it is very significant because that is the word the lepers were to yell out to someone if they were approaching them. (Leviticus 13:45) Lepers had to be separated from the rest of the nation and it was a painful experience to realize you would not be able to be around and especially touch your loved ones ever again.

How do you see yourself in front of a Holy God? The reason most people do not accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ is because they believe they can stand before God in their current condition or they believe that through good works they can earn acceptance with God. We all must realize, as did Isaiah that we need to be cleansed in order to be in God’s presence.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you

Isaiah realized that no amount of good works was going to change his status with a Holy and perfect God and the only thing he could do is cry out in anguish.

2)   The Response of Atonement

Your Guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for”

Atonement: The reconciliation of God and humankind through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ (Meriam Webster Dictionary)

God did not leave Isaiah to be in this state of dismay but God acted on Isaiah’s behalf. God is the only one who can remove our guilt so that we can be in His presence and we cannot earn our ability to stand in God’s presence it is something only God can do and He has done through Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

Our sins have separated us from our Creator because He is Holy and we need our sins and guilt taken away. We do not need to make too much about the coal and the process used for Isaiah to be cleansed because it was a vision and a representation of what God would do through Jesus Christ. We know that the act of Jesus Christ on our behalf makes us worthy to stand before God. God forgives sinners but He does not forgive sins because our sins had to be dealt with and Jesus paid for them on the cross. We are forgiven because Jesus paid our debt not because God just overlooked the sins we committed. Isaiah will later prophesy about the coming of God to the earth to remove our sins from us.

Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

Transgression: infringement or violation of a law, command, or duty

Iniquities: a wicked act or thing : sin

Would you describe yourself as being a person who has committed a wicked act? If God did not respond for Isaiah then he was doomed and if God did not act on our behalf we were doomed. But God did act on our behalf through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 3:18  For Christ also suffered[b] once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

3)   The Response of Holiness

As we realize the depth of separation we had with God and the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf it should lead us to live different lives than the rest of the world.  Holy means to be separate from and we are called to be separate from the world in how we live.

“Many Christians have what we might call a “cultural holiness.” They adapt to the character and behavior pattern of Christians around them. As the Christians culture around them is more or less hol, so these Christians are more or less holy. But God has not called us to be like those around us. He has called us to be like Himself. Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.” (The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges, PG. 22)

1 Peter 1:13-16 Therefore, preparing your minds for action,[a] and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Peter is saying because of the grace we received we look forward to Jesus second coming and we should live as if it is going to happen at any moment. Our desire to be Holy is because we have a relationship with a holy God but we must remember you do not try and be holy to have the relationship you have to be declared Holy by the work that he has done and then live according to your new nature.

Yes we will still sin on this earth even the apostle Paul struggled. (Romans 7) but our desire should be to live lives pleasing to God.

“Like fish immerse in water, we become so immersed in ways of thinking and patterns of living that we become unable to recognize them. … As we live in culture, we become committed to its vision of life, unless we’re intentional otherwise.” (A practical guide to culture, Stonestreet and Kunkle pg. 26, 36)

We are called to be in this world but not live as the rest of the world. (1 John 2:15-17 and Romans 12:2)  Only a proper view of God will help us have a proper view of ourselves and the world around us.

We live in a corrupt world and we have to make sure we are not corrupted by it.

Satan wants you to believe one of two lies. Either I am good enough to stand before God on my own or he wants you to believe that God sees you as guilty even though God took the guilt away. When we understand the Holiness of God our response should be humility because we are unworthy to be in the presence of God. When we understand the Atonement of God our response should be gratitude by living lives that are Holy and pleasing to Him.  Do you understand that it is not by your works or by your effort that you can be in the presence of God? Only by the grace and atonement of Jesus Christ payment for our sin can we be made Holy.

 

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