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Last in Isaiah Series February 21, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Uncategorized.

Isaiah 56:9-57:21

During the past three weeks we have discussed how that God offers hope to those going through disaster, how that He invites those without hope to come to Him, and that this offer is even for those who are outside of the covenant He has made with His people. In other words, we have hope in the midst of the darkness of disaster by coming to God on His terms.

There is another aspect of bringing spiritual light into darkness that we need to remember today. Jesus once told His disciples, “While I am with you I am the light of the world but I am going away and now you are the light of the world.” Unfortunately, those who actually should be the light of the world are spending much of their time groping in darkness.

A. We are blind leaders when we selfishly leave our sheep exposed to danger (56:9-57:2). We look to get ahead of others and really do not care how our actions might affect them. We are in darkness. We are blind leaders. “If the leaders continue to be self-centered and power hungry, the flock entrusted to them will continue to be overtaken by their spiritual enemies” (Oswalt on verse 9).

1. We are off guard (verse 10). Remember the battle of Chancellorsville. The Union troops were settling down getting ready to eat supper and turn in for the night. Suddenly out of the brush through their camp raced rabbits and deer flushed out of their hiding places. Some soldiers took their caps waved them in the air and cheered the running animals. Their cheers stuck in their throats as they look and realized that they were being charged by Stonewall Jackson’s Confederates. No guard had been set. There was nothing to do but run. The Confederate injuries were largely limited to burns that soldiers received as they tried to grab cooking meat out of the pots and pans of the fleeing Union soldiers. The battle was won because the Union army was caught off guard.

2. We are self-interested (verse 11). We are eaten up with greed. According to Charles Swindoll greed reveals itself in four areas. (1) Greed is an excessive motivation to have more money. (2) Greed is an excessive determination to own more things. “We never quite have enough furniture. Or the right furniture.” There is always something, whether big or small that we want. (3) Greed is also an excessive desire to become more famous, to make a name for self. (4) Greed is finally an excessive need to gain more control.

3. We are unaware of the times (56:12-57:2). “Once people said that cars would never replace the horse and carriage. Others said that the light bulb wasn’t really better than the kerosene lamp. Then there are the naysayers who said that movies could never entertain like vaudeville could. On the heels of that negative attitude came the condemnation of television, which people were sure would never supplant radio as the primary source of entertainment” (from Hans Finzel’s Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make).

In the same way these leaders were unaware that their nation was becoming wickeder with every righteous person who passed away. They were so involved with themselves that, as long as they were doing okay, there was no problem.

B. We are blind followers when we submit to that in which there is no hope (57:3-13a). Chuck Swindoll tells about a French artist who read the parable of Jesus about the rich farmer. “It’s one of the few paintings painted on both sides of the canvas. On one side there is this rather portly farmer sitting at his desk. In front of him are several bags bulging with money. Through the window behind him you can see crops glistening in the evening sun; they’re starting to lean over, heavy with grain…sitting on a long shelf above the farmer’s head are more bags of money…He’s got that faraway look in his eye like, ‘What will I do with it now.’

The painter read the story again…He frowned at what he had painted. Dissatisfied, he flipped the canvas over and began the same picture on the other side. Same man, same desk, same window and bumper crops, same little bags of money, same shelf above the man’s head. But this time he painted everything covered with a thin layer of dust. And something else has been added, too. The death angel is standing near with his hand on the man’s shoulder and his lips are pursed as if to be saying, ‘Fool.’”

1. We worship idols (verses 3-10a). It is easy for us to read this without seeing ourselves. We don’t worship rocks and trees. We don’t sacrifice our children to idols. Yet our only real desire is to manipulate power to our own advantage (adapted from Oswalt). We worship that which we think will give us hope. Some of you may have even come to church this morning, hoping by your presence that you can manipulate God to give you what you want.

Are you an idolator? Colossians 3:5 and Ephesians 5:5 remind us that “greed” is “idolatry.” If we can have what we desire, we will be happy. Usually it is tied to something or someone we can see, touch, and enjoy physically. The answer, however, is not self-denial but rather in finding our delight in God’s goals, God’s ways, and God’s desires.

2. We take God’s patience to be unconcerned silence (verses 10b-13a). We forget what He has done for us through Jesus Christ.

C. We are aware followers when we humble ourselves before God (57:13b-21). We, however, trust our own ability. “We can do it!” we say to ourselves. When I talk about humbling ourselves, I don’t want to fall into the trap of advising the “New Christian” to think that self-deprecation is the cure-all for the Christian life. Humbling yourself before God is not forbidding people to clap their hands after a musical number. Humbling yourself before God is not saying wiping a smile off our face. Humbling yourself before God is an awareness of our helplessness and living in dependence on Him for everything.

1. Our problem is not our circumstances (verse 14). “Today America is suffering from a failure of evangelical theology. The 1970s and 1980s were widely recognized as the age of the evangelical. The movement was large enough and influential enough to gain the attention of the national media; leading figures in the movement became forces to be reckoned with. Yet, concurrent with that popular recognition was the hastening moral decay of the nation…To a generation that wanted to “feel good” at all costs, we declared a feel-good religion. All one has to do to gain a heaven of bliss and an earthly life of abundance is to say “yes” to Jesus’ wonderful plan for life. This decision has no necessary bearing on a person’s behavior…We expect to continue in sin…” and we do! (Oswalt on Isaiah 57).

2. Our problem is our helplessness without God (verses 15-21). God says, “You need me, not to fill that void you have now in your heart but rather to avoid eternal turmoil and destruction.”

What is the answer? Humble yourself before God. Humble yourself for salvation, for satisfaction, for forgiveness.



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