The God of the Bible has been told to leave much of our world – Venezuela, North Korea, university campuses, public schools, even churches. He has been minimized and mocked – “God Is Not Great” (Hitchens), “The God Delusion” (Dawkins), “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason” (Harris). “We welcome people who identify with and draw inspiration from Atheism and Agnosticism, Buddhism, Christianity, Humanism, Judaism, Paganism, and other religious or philosophical traditions.” (http://www.uua.org/beliefs/welcome/index.shtml)
We think, “Oh, the world’s gone downhill so much; somebody has greased the skids and it’s getting worse faster now.” Shake our heads in sad wonder – how foolish can people be to try living without God, how arrogant to think that’s even possible. How could we go from the Revolutionary War era slogan “No king but Jesus” to our present “No king but self”? But wait, isn’t that what Adam and Eve tried? Believed Satan’s lie, God was holding out on them, followed their own plan to take care of themselves. Then,…. after they’d made a new wardrobe the last thing they wanted was a run-in with God. If only He would just stay away, leave them alone, not try to talk to them or anything else.
Isaiah’s contemporaries no different, simply following the example of generations of fallen men and women. Really only two categories of people – those who: run to or run away from God; love God or hate God; saved by God or condemned by God. No middle ground, no third option; songwriter A B Simpson said it right, “What will you do with Jesus? Neutral you cannot be.” Precisely what is described in our text: those who had their own plan exclusive of God, those whose hearts and wills God changed.
A. their planv.1-17
I’ll take care of myself, thanks (1-7)
trusting in human counselors rather than God, had already sent emissaries to Egypt to seal the deal
making alliances that encourage sinful behavior – with people who are God’s enemies, those (Egyptians) determined to fight against him and pursue idolatry
were going to great expense and through great danger to invest in a hopeless future – like buying expensive fire insurance policy from company that files for bankruptcy the day your house burns flat. To add to the shame, God announced through his prophet that was exactly as it would happen but you bought the policy anyway. In fact God had given Egypt a nickname: “Rahab Who Just Sits”, a useless ally.
Tell me what I want to hear (8-10)
Isaiah instructed to write out an accusation against Judah – rebellious liars, they refuse to listen to God and tell the prophets to fudge the truth, spin the news, make it sound good. Don’t wish to be confused with the facts, their minds are made up, they want to hear only what reinforces their decision.
I don’t need you or want you, go away (11)
Like wilful bullheaded child determined to go in particular direction, Jewish people plow ahead toward utter ruin. Bulldoze all the warning signs off the road, threaten all the sign-twirlers into giving wrong direction, demand that everybody just stop talking about God. Make Him Go Away!
unforseen consequences (12-17)
God’s response: if you insist… here’s what will happen
carefully built up plans collapse under their own weight, suddenly devastatingly complete; like a clay pitcher smashed to bits – not a piece big enough to pick up a coal from the fire, scoop up a sip of water
repeatedly rejected God’s extended hand of warning and help
their plan for deliverance took them headlong into trouble, captivity, fear and flight.
B. God’s planv.18-22
God will show mercy (18-19)
God will patiently wait, will deliver the remnant of his people in a way that makes it obvious it was a “God thing”. He doesn’t always listen to man’s requests to be left alone; he does move in his own way at his own time to show mercy to whomever he chooses.Ex. 33:19;Rom 9:15-16Almost always happens when man’s resources have completely run out, he has no other place to turn than to God, no other choice than to cry out to God.
God gives understanding (20-21)
doesn’t remove pain and suffering, instead his people are given ability to understand he has purpose in it. In Judah’s case – purpose was to change their direction, point them in a new one that was pleasing to God and ultimately safe for them.
People repent (22)
people’s heart and desire will be turned 180 degrees – it’s the idols who are rejected, thrown out, told to “go away”. When people experience God’s overwhelming grace, respond by complete abandonment of idolatry, showing utter contempt for what they once worshiped.
C. good newsv.23-33
God will heal the broken and wounded (23-26)
time of hardship and destruction will be replaced by one of great blessing – harvest bountiful enough that even farm animals eat best quality food, “people food”
blessing upon blessing, God not only attends to simple things like food and water, he “binds up the brokenness of his people”ESVa thought finished inIsa. 61:1“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” text read publicly by Lord Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry.
man isn’t sovereign (27-29)
Yahweh will be present with his people to protect them, subdue their enemies – just as promised Moses to be with him when confronting Pharaoh, delivering from bondage in Egypt, would now be with and deliver his people from bondage in sin
Enemies will fear when God shows up in his battle array, God’s people rejoice at their deliverance, display of God’s justice and righteousness
all man’s plans are nothing when God determines to overrule: Yahweh has final say in all things – salvationandcondemnation
God works his plan (30)
” The Lord will give a mighty shout and intervene in power, with furious anger and flaming, destructive fire, with a driving rainstorm and hailstones.”NETGodintervenes, God doesn’trespond; God moves proactively, carrying out his plan despite what man might attempt. God continually advances human history, at the same time bringing his purpose regarding salvation to completion.
the Holy One wins (31-33)
vanquishing his enemies
powerless to resist the all-powerful sovereign Lord, God’s enemies will be completely vanquished. Here, Assyria and Egypt; at the end, human enemies PLUS spiritual enemies.
drawing his people
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”Jer. 31:3Even though Yahweh is consuming fire, he does not consume indiscriminately. The same fire that destroys enemies purifies his children.
the same message often has opposite effects – see v.12 and v.21; the difference is God
matters not whether message is alluring or threatening, gentle or fierce, soft or loud. Same word from God will further harden some in their wilful rebellion and will comfort and encourage others. Man’s response to God’s entreaties is man’s responsibility. However, the one sensitive to their need for God (not God’s goodies but God in his goodness), having a desire to know and love God more – ah, that dear one is experiencing the drawing power of God’s loving-kindness.
Are you in need of God’s healing – is there brokenness, are there wounds that need his loving care? Come to the cross where the Lord Jesus was wounded and broken for you, there to find healing today. Have you experienced that healing in your soul? Commit to giving yourself wholly to Christ as he gave himself for you, your response of love to the one who first loved you.