God Rules

Isaiah 66:1-14

Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervours, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills.” John Brown, Nineteenth-century Scottish theologian

What does that have to do with our text and the principle that “God Rules”? When we think as the world thinks and desire what the world desires, we forget who is in charge. And what he requires. God is the “Holy One of Israel”, thrice-holy as attested by Isaiah in chapter 6, high and lifted up. Our holy God demands that we be a holy people. That we worship him and live for him and depend on him now and forever. And he requires that we do it his way, if we are to receive his promised blessing.

To the extent we think like the world, we convince ourselves that man is in charge – you know the line Timothy McVeigh quoted, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” God doesn’t think that way. Whether it appears like God is in charge or not, he rules. If you are his enemy, that’s a source of incredible frustration. If you are his child, that truth provides immeasurable comfort and confidence.

It means we don’t have to guess or try to figure out by trial and error how to please God in worship. It means we shouldn’t be discouraged when we see how things are going in the world – those aren’t problems, they’re opportunities for God to work and be glorified. It means we need not fear the future but can rejoice confidently in what God has stored up for us.

A. worship v.1-4

place (1)

God, the Sovereign Ruler of the universe; He chooses where he will meet with his people, not other way round

He isn’t obligated to be present just because it’s a place devoted to him; certainly can’t and won’t be confined to one sanctuary on man’s say-so

place of worship that has known God’s presence in past may forfeit it; he will not bless where he is not honored

people (2)

God does not accept worshipers indiscriminately – he has made all things, deserves worship from all

but… looks favorably on those who fit his definition of true worshipers

humble – opposite of proud; having a sense of God’s awesome greatness, beauty and holiness, of own personal insufficiency and sinfulness

contrite in spirit – brokenhearted over sin; our own, not our neighbor’s; coming to worship with a keen sense of need, not a feeling of accomplishment

submissive to his word / authority – have a holy reverence for God, desire to please him that causes them to love God’s smile and tremble at his frown

perversion (3)

will not accept worship from those who do right thing with wrong spirit

offer right kind of sacrifice but with bad heart

sing hymns, recite along with everyone Lord’s Prayer, harbor ill-will toward brother or sister

God equates it with breaking his commands, worshiping idols

not just unacceptable to God, it’s downright offensive

will not accept worship from those who do their own thing to please themselves

decided to worship God in own way, expecting God to accept it

we’ll do this or that and call it worship – God, Jesus, the Bible in there a few times; feels good to us, like worship, God’ll be cool with it

don’t need church, can worship God in my special place by myself; I feel close to God, he must be there

God calls that “abominations”, will not accept it; remember Nadab & Abihu

God’s way of dealing with transgression may have changed, basic rules haven’t; God still decides

punishment (4)

what they most feared, hoped to avoid by their false worship – God makes sure they experience it

willful rebellion exacts painfully high price, especially when it comes to worship

just because God doesn’t strike people dead today like previously doesn’t mean he’s pleased

means he’s longsuffering and patient, calling and speaking to people, urging them to worship him his way

B. the world v.5-9

enemies ashamed (5)

in this case it’s God’s enemies, the faithful remnant’s countrymen – friends and neighbors

those who have persecuted believers for the cause of the Gospel

same kind of attitude as those passing by the Cross, soldiers, first thief: Luk. 23:35-39

prove to us you’re really God

the godly, pursuing holiness by faithfulness to God’s Word – the object of God’s special care

those who persecute the godly – the object of God’s special attention / punishment

opposition punished (6)

whether in society at large (the city) or within organized religion (the temple)

God will deal with his enemies

even though it might look like they’re winning

just because we don’t see God moving doesn’t mean he’s sleeping

he’s promised to make all things right in his way in his time

God’s delay is opportunity

for evil people to add to their evil and eventual judgment

for God to conquer his enemies by making them friends – conversion

sudden reversal (7-8)

when it looks like God’s people are at point of extinction, God will do the impossible

Christ will build his church – will grow by leaps and bounds

not dependent on time – if you bring 2 people and I bring 2 people then 4 people will know; if we bring 2 people and they bring 2 people then God’s family will grow

besides the ones God brings!

when God works in his church results are unexpected, mind-blowing even

clearly a “God thing” (9)

ever start a project, not finish it? ran out of time, material, interest, wasn’t coming out like you thought?

never happens with God – never starts something he can’t or won’t finish

the church Christ said he’d build: will be completed

no shortcuts, no missing pieces, no last-minute substitutions, no adjustments to building plans

God’s purpose can not and will not be frustrated

will be obvious when it’s all done that God did it

C. the future v.10-14

rejoicing (10)

even though: church isn’t in best shape, enemies of Christianity seem to be winning – public schools, Supreme Court, other levels of government here and abroad

God says rejoice, be glad, rejoice for joy

he’s got it under control and gives cause for joy to his people

each person who comes to faith in Christ – one more victory for Christ and his church, one more loss for Satan – cause for believers to rejoice

each new true church planted, faithful translation of the Scriptures, pastor or missionary commissioned to serve in Gospel ministry – cause for joy

knowledge that Christ will win final victory for his people, bring them safely home – great cause for joy

here’s a test: somebody asks you how’s it going; do you respond “wonderful; God is so good, have so much to thank him for”? If not, you need an attitude adjustment, change of focus: God first and his blessings, then where he has placed you to serve him.

nourishment (11)

God provides nourishment for his people – drink deeply with delight

no lack, no need to hold back, enough for every one and every need

your soul a little parched, undernourished? Supply for your need is here – God present among his people when they worship and serve him

look everywhere else – you won’t find satisfaction for your soul; only found in God, serving and loving him

we’re just like babies – unable to nourish themselves, dependent on someone else

God promises to supply all our needs, not stingily, but according to his riches in glory

and he’s committed to providing that supply only through his Son, Lord Jesus

only as we are joined to him by faith that we tap into that nourishment

peace (12)

world is full of turmoil, conflict; so are families and so is the church

it ought not so to be!!

those who are at peace with God should be at peace with each other

if we’re not at peace the fault is ours, not God’s

he extends peace like a river

not a shower, not a stream, not even a fountain – a river

sufficient for all situations

comfort (13)

experiencing discouragement? trials? hurts? fears?

God will comfort

just as tenderly as best mother in the world

intensely focused and individual

hurting one receives full and exclusive attention

victory (14)

both friends and enemies will know God has won

his friends by display of his power

his enemies by display of his righteous anger

Who can count on God’s blessing?

him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word” (2);

“You who tremble at His word” (5)

“His servants” (14)

Does that describe you? If not, no time like the present. If yes, take comfort from truth that God rules. And,… willingly because we love him submit to his leading. Humbly surrender all we have and are to his use.

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