Things started out well: perfect place, perfect creatures and people, perfect relationships all around. Perfect communion between man and God, man and woman, man and the rest of creation. No hostility in act or thought, no deception, nothing hidden from sight, no conflict; no sense that something good and necessary was missing from human experience. Then all changed: disobedience, shame, guilt, accusation, blame. Closeness, intimacy, communion lost in a moment of time, never to be fully regained during life. Not content to give sole credit to Eve for what he had lost, Adam pointed finger at God, too. “The woman you gave me”.
What was it that moved Adam to such an outrageous response to God’s questions? Most important thing in Adam’s experience had been wrenched away, pulled out by roots, leaving wounds, scars, empty hole in place God had designed to be center of life. Except that’s not entirely accurate – wasn’t God who uprooted himself from intimacy with Adam and Eve; they tore themselves away from God. Then tried to fill in hole with themselves. Problem was, didn’t work. Adam was left with keen awareness of utter loss, immediately angry and frustrated with own inability to solve problem.
Since he couldn’t fix it, maybe it wasn’t his fault. Maybe he didn’t move away from God; perhaps was God that moved. Must be it: lack of response from God must be God’s fault. Too busy, too much to look at, too many things to listen to, too far away to reach, that’s why Adam couldn’t hear God or see God or sense his caring presence. That model with minor variations what generations of Adam’s descendants have followed. It’s what encourages people to ask “Where was God on 9-11?”; “If There’s a God, Why…?”; “If God is Good, How Come…?”; “How Could God Allow the Great Tsunami?”
Isaiah called his contemporaries on their wrong way of thinking; bluntly set them straight on true nature of the problem. Made clear what needed to change, one source of their only hope for change.
A. separation v.1-8
you’ve blamed it on God
he’s powerless (1a)
he’s inattentive (1b)
dumb things to think; it is God after all, if that were true, wouldn’t be God.
Were right to suspect a problem, blaming it on wrong person
it’s real, black and white, night and day kind of separation (Gen. 1:14, 18) (2a)
without change, outside power, impossible to bring the two together
God has hidden himself, not allowing himself to be found, refusing to hear pleas with intent of acting (2b)
people need to hear truth: problem is sin, not sickness
5 times Isaiah calls problem “iniquity”, willful and purposeful planned acts of disobedience against God. (2,3,4,6,7)
sin a whole body experience
hands, fingers, lips, tongue (3)
feet, thoughts (7)
sin leaves trail of wreckage behind
hurtful (3a), malicious (3b), unjust (4), violent (6b), destructive (7c), dishonest (8b) toward others
mankind’s attempts to make it all better fail to deliver (6a)
don’t even make it up to standard of fig leaves – best they can achieve is spider webs
only one way to fix – get to the root, deal with the sin; that’s what corrupts and defaces and frustrates everything else.
Often is a process – doesn’t happen all at once. Begins with
B. sorrow v.9-15a
over consequences (9-11)
I don’t like my life, I want things to change.
takes more than wave of magic wand to bring someone far from God close to him.
often begins with life getting reeeaaalllly painful, hopeless, fearful
recognition that all of own efforts lead to dead ends
everything going wrong; everything touched breaks, ends in disaster (9a)
no light, only darkness (9b)
no sense of direction (10a)
no strength or energy to move on (10b)
complete frustration – harder you try, worse it gets; at the end of rope (11a)
utterly hopeless, but still haven’t identified / acknowledged real issue (11b)
basically good fellow on road to conversion, suddenly contracted typhoid fever. Soon face to face with death: “I found fear in me for the first time, and when I faced leaving this world and entering an unknown realm, pangs took hold of me, such as I had never felt before. Thank God my parents were not there to take that fear from me. Thank God that human sympathy did not blind me to eternity.” Rees Howells, Intercessor
over sin (12-15a)
I don’t like my sin. Now we’re making real, substantial progress. Situation no longer hopeless.
not only being sorry for consequences; it’s godly sorrow that has led to repentance (2 Cor. 7:10); evident in true confession
repentance – change of mind, way of thinking about previous behavior; confession – agreeing with God about sin
not minimizing: transgressions – sins – iniquities (12)
real guilt – “sins testify against us” (12a)
right object – sins are against God, rebellion and revolt (13)
right source – “from the heart” (13d)
real lack – righteousness / godliness is far away (14a)
C. salvation v.15b-21
judgment first (15b-18)
God won’t / can’t overlook sin (15b)
even though sinners are helpless (16a)
cannot provide worthy intercessor for themselves
God graciously provides his own intercessor, later revealed as Lord Jesus (16b)
God makes first move to deliver (16b)
operates on basis of his character: righteous, desiring to deliver, executing justice (17)
deliverance requires battle against sin; Divine Warrior takes field and thoroughly conquers enemies (18)
eventual deliverance from penalty of sin does not relieve of all consequences
truly repentant who turn to Christ in faith will be delivered from penalty of sin
1 John 5:13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
cannot expect deliverance from natural results of sinful behavior – “way of transgressor is hard” (Prov. 13:15, KJV)
poor health, prison, hardship and loss
possessions, relationships, employment
God may graciously choose to restore; can’t count on country song getting played backward
then deliverance (19-21)
results of great work God has done
fear (obedience) of the Lord from east to west (19a)
recognition of the Lord’s glory (worship) (19a)
natural response from one delivered from bondage in sin – love, praise and worship deliverer
security for all those marching under his banner (19b)
doesn’t matter what enemy or what tactics; God delivers those who are his
redemption applied to the repentant (20)
nothing here about self-help / 12-step / power of positive thinking programs
redeemed have responsibility to do all in their power to please God
at same time depending on God for strength and grace to please him
promise of Spirit and Word (21)
new covenant and its promises not limited to Jeremiah and Ezekiel – here in summary form
promises are to all those who turn from their sin, those who are spiritual descendants of Jacob
Spirit and word granted in fullness to Lord Jesus first – upon you, in your mouth
participation in covenant blessings only available through Lord Jesus
empowering, sanctifying of Holy Spirit
fullness of wisdom and knowledge – in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” Col. 2:3
covenant promises address more than simple quality of life issues
focus not on circumstances, how God might change them
emphasis on individual – guided by God’s Spirit, instructed by God’s Word
effect of covenant relationship – metamorphosis of individual
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Cor. 5:17
Does your life need to change? More to the point, do you need to change? Is there one thing or whole bucket full of somethings separating you from God? Follow example given in our text:
change your mind, way of thinking
agree with God about your sin, call it what it is
acknowledge guilt and need for God’s forgiveness
ask God to give you a desire for Him
depend on God to change you and help you do what is right
Here’s what Lord Jesus promises:
Matt. 11:28Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
John 6:37 the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.