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Third in a Series from Isaiah February 13, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Isaiah, Sermons.
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AFTER YOU’VE SAID “YES!”
Isaiah 56:1-8

In chapter 54 God promises hope to those who live in a desperate situation and then in chapter 55 He invites them to come to Him for forgiveness. In these eight verses we see what happens to those who answer the invitation. This is important because not everyone who answers God invitation is transferred immediately into God’s presence. In fact most of us are like Abraham, we are looking for a city not made with hands whose builder and maker is God. So what happens after we accept God’s invitation to come and be forgiven?

A. We accept certain responsibilities when we answer God’s invitation, that is, accepting God’s invitation carries certain responsibilities (verses 1-2).

1. We are responsible to practice God’s justice and righteousness (verse 1). There are two sides of God’s justice and righteousness. The side that we need to look at first is that we as sinners cannot practice God’s justice and righteousness unless God does a work in us. We need to be transformed.

I’m thinking of a man who had no interest in Christ. His wife went to church and took his children to church but he was not interested. He drank way too much. He began to go to Bible studies and hear the Word of God. One Easter Sunday, he heard the message and realized that there was nowhere to go but to Jesus Christ. God put a hunger in that man’s heart for God’s Word. As God continued to work in his heart, he began to drink less and less. One day he was sitting in his living room with a beer in his hand and he said to himself, I don’t want this and I don’t need this. Why did he change his outward behavior? Because God did a work inside of him.

2. We are responsible to practice God’s justice in our actions (verse 2). The specific example given here is the keeping of the Sabbath. The Sabbath, however, could be used improperly. In Isaiah 1:13, God expresses displeasure with the observance of the Sabbath as well as with other ceremonial and sacrificial observances of the law. The reason given (in verse 17) is the propensity for injustice especially toward the oppressed, the orphan, and the widow in Judah. They were observing the Sabbath but not remembering what God had said in the Decalogue (Deuteronomy 5:15), “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” The ritual observance without remembering and practicing of the meaning of the observance is the sin of Judah (Isaiah 1:17) and the joy of observing the Sabbath will be destroyed by judgment of God (prophesied in Hosea 2:11; recorded in Lamentations 2:6).

B. Accepting God’s invitation gives a family to those who have no family (verses 3-5). In fact, later in Isaiah a blessing is promised to those who both keep justice and the Sabbath (Isaiah 56:1-2). This blessing is specifically extended to the eunuchs (verses 3-5) and the foreigners (verses 6-7) who keep the Sabbath and hold fast to the covenant of the Lord. Although eunuchs and certain foreigners had been forbidden to be a part of the assembly (Deuteronomy 23:1-8), they receive mercy when they enter voluntarily into the covenant of the LORD. Again, in a vivid and direct way, those who might not expect to be a part of God’s everlasting covenant with Israel are invited in with open arms if they fulfill the same conditions of the covenant that Israel also were given beginning in Exodus 19-20.

C. Accepting God’s invitation gives us the opportunity to worship God (verses 6-8). Isaiah emphasizes with the eunuch and with the foreigner that God is interested in reaching out to those who are outside of His family and His kingdom. Israel had a lot of trouble with foreigners. They would find themselves compromising their beliefs, adding other gods to their worship to the true God or they would isolate themselves in uncompromising self-righteousness, believing that they are somehow better than others.

This second trouble is a danger for us also. “A Christian worship service is beginning, and two young men come in who are clearly out of place. Their clothes are outlandish and not very clean. Their hair is lank and long. Their arms are covered with tattoos. They are clearly not of the evangelical subculture. Are they earnestly seeking salvation? Are they believers who have left all to follow Christ? Who knows? Who cares? They don’t belong because they are different from us…They don’t have the right family credentials, so they don’t belong” (Oswalt).

1. Worship begins with commitment to God (verse 6). We live as if being a Christian is really only a matter of birthright, of adoption, and has no real impact on how we live. It may change our ideals, but it does not change the realities. Thus, we see the spectacle in North America of persons claiming to be born-again’ Christians whose ethical lives are no different from those of a lost world” (Oswalt).

We tend build our spiritual lives on cheap materials. Years before any had died in the astronaut program, an astronaut was asked before he launched how he felt. “With a grin, [he] replied, ‘It really makes you think twice in here when you realize everything in this whole project was constructed according to the lowest bid!’” (Charles Swindoll in Living Above the Level of Mediocrity)

2. Worship is expressed through the means God provides (verse 7). The Sabbath in Leviticus 23:1-3 was emphasized as more than a day with no work. It was a holy convocation, that is, a day of assembly. This is the same type of assembly that God commanded Israel to observe in relation to the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Compare Exodus 12:16 with Leviticus 23:4-8). Such a day was called together for the purpose of delighting in God (Isaiah 58:13-14).

3. Worship looks forward in confidence and faith (verse 8). There is hope in both the promise of the covenant Leviticus 26:40-45 and in the carrying out of that promise. The removal from the land is temporary and serves a restorative purpose for the land. Ultimately, there is coming a day, as pictured in Ezekiel’s temple description when the Sabbath will again be observed with an understanding of what is holy (Ezekiel 44:24; 45:17; 46:1-4, 12). This ultimate restoration is also described in Isaiah 65:22-23 as the new heavens and the new earth, when “from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh will come to worship before [the LORD].”

First John 2:29-3:9 is the New Testament example of the teaching that we see in Isaiah 56. Are you abiding in Christ? Are you standing strong? Or are you like the world? The world believes that doing the right thing outwardly will outweigh or counteract any inner deficiency. The believer realizes we are helpless against our deficiencies and need to abide in Christ.

Next week: The Blind Lead the Blind – Isaiah 56:9-57:2

Second in a series from Isaiah February 6, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Isaiah, Parables of Jesus, Repentance.
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AN INVITATION IN DISASTROUS TIMES
Isaiah 55

In the last chapter, God proclaims hope in the midst of disaster. In this chapter we have an invitation to grab hold of that hope.

A. God invites us to satisfaction (verses 1-5). It should be noted that the invitation goes far beyond physical satisfaction. Notice in verse 3 Isaiah says, “That your soul may live.” In other words, the hope God offers goes beyond physical satisfaction. It involves our whole being.

1. Satisfaction cannot be earned (verses 1-2). Remember that Isaiah is writing to people who have lost homeland and homes, family and friends, dignity and livelihood. God offers forgiveness but only to those who come.

2. Satisfaction does demand a response (verse 3a). “A mother, a son, and a daughter are clinging to the upper branches of a large tree surrounded by raging flood waters. The rescue team in a boat cannot get right up to the tree because of debris, but the distance between the boat and the tree can be jumped with effort. The team in the boat shout[s] with urgency, ‘Jump, jump,’ but the family members are afraid. Finally, summoning up courage, the son jumps and lands safely in the boat. Then the daughter jumps. She falls into the water, but the rescuers are ready and quickly pull her into the boat. Now the rescuers along with the son and daughter plead with the mother, ‘Jump, jump, you can do it! We’’ catch you if you fall short.’…but she is afraid, and as she [hesitates], there is a terrible crack, the tree falls, and she is swept away…” (Oswalt’s commentary on Isaiah 55).

3. Satisfaction is found in Jesus (verses 3b-5). God made a covenant with David. This fulfillment, this “witness to the people, [this] leader and commander for the people” is Jesus Christ who came to save His people from their sin, as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world.

B. God invites us to take advantage of the opportunity we have now (verses 6-7). Jesus in Luke 14 was sitting at a meal when one of those there said, “Blessed is he who hall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Jesus told how that different ones were invited to a great feast but did not come because they had other things to do. At least, that was their excuse. “Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind…Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those [who made excuses] shall taste my supper.’’

1. God does not promise future opportunity (verse 6). Certainly the door of opportunity to respond to God can be closed by death but sometimes life circumstances can close that door. Sometimes our hearts can be hardened by bitterness or pride or shame. Today is the day to respond to God. If you need to be saved, today is the day to call to God. If you need to become a better disciple, today is the day. If you need to become a better witness, today is the day. If you need to forgive someone, today is the day. Today, today is the day.

2. God demands repentance in exchange for mercy (verses 7-11). Repentance is not self-improvement. Self-improvement is spending money on that which is not bread. Self-improvement is laboring for that which does not satisfy. We need to turn from our sin, from our relationships, from religious institutions and practices, and to the man on the cross who alone has purchased our pardon.

C. God invites us to rejoice (verses 8-13). Specifically, if we come and are satisfied, we will rejoice. Those who have no joy have no satisfaction in Christ.

1. We can rejoice in His ways (verses 8-9). We may not understand them but we can rejoice in them because we know that they are higher. God understands how all this works out and how to work it all out for the best.

2. We can rejoice in His word (verses 10-11). These verses do not mean that if we witness to someone, that guarantees they will be saved, although that is how they are often used. These verses guarantee that if God promises satisfaction and forgiveness, we can count on that satisfaction and forgiveness. Why? So that He will be pleased.

3. We can rejoice in His new world (verse 13). Last week in the Junior Sunday School Class we learned that God created, cursed, and will cure this planet Earth. This world will become new when Jesus returns and all who have trusted Him are eternally united with Him to rule and reign on this earth.

“A banquet table is worse than useless to the person who is either too proud or too ashamed to come and eat from it” (John Oswalt, Isaiah: The NIV Application Commentary, page 602, 2003).

As we prepare to partake of the Lord’s Table, are you too proud? When we partake we are proclaiming to the world that we are needy. We need Jesus. We need the water of life to quench our thirst. We need the bread of life to satisfy our hunger. We need the Lamb of God to take away our sin. We need the Holy One of Israel to endow us with splendor. We need Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life to give us eternal life. There is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

Are you too ashamed? You are a sinner. You are undeserving. You have failed this week, you may be conscious of having failed today. An old camp meeting song goes like this:

“Come ye sinners, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore. Jesus, ready, stands to save you full of pity, love, and power.
I will arise and go to Jesus. He will embrace me in His arms. In the arms of Christ my Savior, O, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome, God’s free bounty glorify; True belief and true repentance, Every grace that brings you nigh.

Let not conscience, make you linger nor of fitness fondly dream. All the fitness He requireth is to feel your need of Him.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden, Lost and ruined by the fall; If you tarry till you’re better, You will never come at all.

First in a series from Isaiah January 30, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Covenant, Forgiveness, Hope, Isaiah, Mercy, Promises of God, Prophecy, Righteousness.
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HOPE IN DISASTER
Isaiah 54

Introduction: One of the key principles in understanding the Bible is to recognize that it is not written to us but rather for us. Understanding that principle is why we don’t build a tent for animal sacrifices after reading the book of Leviticus. Most people want instant understanding of the Bible and don’t work to understand to whom and for what purpose it was written.

That does not mean that God’s Word was not given with future people in mind. The last half of the book of Isaiah is an excellent example of a book written with a future people in mind. Isaiah predicted that Babylon would take the Jews into captivity. Jerusalem along with the Temple would be destroyed and the people would be taken captive to a land with no hope of ever seeing their homeland again. They would have questions that Isaiah addresses. “Has God failed? Is He really as great as the law and the psalms and the prophets had proclaimed? Were His promises to Abraham and Moses and David in vain? Had their sin been too much even for God?”

Over the past few years we have seen serious economic problems. Although America has been a promised land to many for hundreds of years, many are fearful today, predicting the demise of America. What should we as Christians do as we look down the barrel of the gun of possible economic, moral, and political disaster? How can we prepare ourselves and how should we live when that disaster strikes?

A. When disaster strikes, turn to God’s promises (verses 9-10). David Jeremiah tells of some words written on the wall of a cave where a young Jewish girl in the Warsaw ghetto of Poland was hiding from the Nazis.
“I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love, even when I cannot feel it.
I believe in God, even when He is silent.”

Job put it this way, “Even if He slays me, yet will I trust Him.” When disaster strikes, we turn to God’s promises.

1. His covenant is as dependable as a rainbow (vs. 9). We think of the rainbow as being a promise that God will not destroy the world with water again. Verse 9 points out that every promise of God is dependable. As a kid there was a song we used to sing that ended like this, “When it looks like the sun wouldn’t shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the cloud.” The skeptic looks at the laws of nature and declares there is no God but we look at nature and understand there must be a God who holds this all together, who holds His children in His hand.

2. His kindness is everlasting (vs. 10). In Isaiah 43:2-4 the Lord says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you… I am the LORD your God…and I have loved you.” Jeremiah in Lamentations describes the death and destruction, the hunger and nakedness that these people endured when Jerusalem was taken. They recognized that God had allowed this judgment. In chapter 3:21-23, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Those are not the words of someone for whom it is going well but rather for those who are in deep despair. His kindness is everlasting.

B. When disaster strikes, hope in abundance from God (verses 1-3). “But we are in captivity! Our homes are destroyed! Our children are dead! We have no where to turn!” Isaiah reminds them that God will bless them abundantly. Paul in prison in Philippi put it this way, “My God will supply all my need through His riches in Christ Jesus.” What disaster do you see ahead? It is not forever. There is abundant blessing to be found in Jesus Christ. Hope in Him and in His riches.

Our problem comes when we try to dictate to God how His blessings should appear. We expect financial security, a healthy body, freedom from tragedy. Those are all wonderful things but none of them indicate God’s abundant blessings. His blessings are found in an eternal abundance. “Lay not treasures up for yourself on this earth where moth and rust corrupts but lay up treasures for yourself in heaven.”

C. When disaster strikes, depend on a restored relationship (verses 4-8). The picture here is of a woman who is forsaken because of her wickedness and is then received again to a loving husband (Read verses 7-8).

John Oswalt in his commentary on this chapter relates the story of an old man in a hospital, on his deathbed, wondering if the next life will be as bitter as the one he has just lived. In comes his daughter. Her life has also been hard but “out of her eyes shine eagerness, humor, hope, and love.” He says to her, “I know what you want to say to me, and you might as well save your breath. It’s too late.”
“But Dad, it’s never too late! Look what Christ has done for me! I was in the gutter, drinking myself to death…But he saw something in me to love! Everybody else said I was no good, and he told them to ‘shut up.’”
The old man replies, “…you don’t know what I’ve done. I was a preacher! … If your God is so good and loving, he wouldn’t have anything to do with me. I’m too far gone.”
His daughter demands, “Daddy, you look at me! Nobody is too far gone for Jesus Christ! … He died for Hitler! Do you think you’re worse than Hitler? No, you’re just like Hitler, too proud to get down on your face and ask God to forgive you. He will forgive you, Daddy! He will!”
“The old man turned his head to look at his grown daughter…he saw what was undeniably true-she was being transformed from the inside out…hesitantly, he reached his hand out from under the sheet and took hers. In the next moments … [he] confessed his sins… and disgrace became the welcoming embrace of the world’s Maker…”

D. When disaster strikes, trust in His deliverance from your enemies (verses 11-17). What danger is it that you fear? Turn in trust to the hand of God through Christ.

1. This is the heritage God will protect (verses 13, 17). What do you have that will last? People have been discussing this week what Joe Paterno’s legacy will be. In a hundred years few will remember him. Accumulate wealth. Those to whom you leave it may waste it. A heritage that will last is only to be found in Christ.

2. This is the righteousness we have in Christ (verses 14-17). Hebrews calls this the Sabbath rest we have in Christ. The angels proclaimed it as peace on earth, good will to men. When disaster comes, when the bankbook is empty, when cancer grips your body, when tragedy rains on your family, remember in Jesus Christ there is rest and peace. All is right in Him.

“There is nothing more God needs to do for his ‘covenant of peace’ to be ours forever” (Oswalt). Isaiah 53:4-6 tells us that Jesus has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions and by His stripes we are healed. Will you enter this new covenant that Jesus made for you on the cross? Will you turn to Him? Saved and unsaved alike, believer and unbeliever alike, turn to Him today!

Next week: An Invitation in Disastrous Times – Isaiah 55

Isaiah 9: What the New King Brings (A Christmas Sermon) December 20, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Christ, Christmas, Day of the Lord, Eschatology, Faith, Gospel, Incarnation, Isaiah, Jesus, Joy, Light, Matthew, Millenial Kingdom, Peace, Religion, Sermons, World Peace.
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This week:
Tuesday: Links concerning the Manhattan Compact
Wednesday: Thoughts concerning the Manhattan Compact
Sunday: Beginning a new series on the Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles.

WHAT THE NEW KING BRINGS
Isaiah 9:1-7

INTRODUCTION: This week when we celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we will be celebrating the birthday of a king. The past three weeks we have looked at the prophecies of Isaiah about His coming to the earth as the baby in Bethlehem as well as His future coming to rule and reign on the earth. Today I want to again look at Isaiah and again look at what Jesus brought with Him at the first Christmas and what He will bring to this earth in the future.

A. The New King Brings Light to Those in Darkness (9:1-2).

1. There is hope in Jesus, the Light of the World (John 8:12; 9:5). Matthew 4:12-25 records the fulfillment of this prophecy that Christ would begin His ministry in Galilee. The King brings light to those in darkness beginning – not in Jerusalem, the center of Jewish life; nor in Rome, the political capital of the Roman Empire; neither in Alexandria, the intellectual giant of Egypt; and not even in Athens, the home of Greek philosophy. It is in Galilee, specifically the city of Capernaum and the surrounding area in which the King brings light to men in darkness. It is not a center of importance. Does He ignore the others? No, but in Galilee is where He begins and He expands His light throughout a dark world.

Jesus being the Light of the World and bringing light to humankind is a very important part of the Christmas story. In Luke 1:76-79, Zacharias sang at the birth of his son, John the Baptist. He ended his song with, “You, my son are going to be the prophet of the Highest and you are going to prepare the way for the Messiah, the one who is going to rise like the sun in the east and bring mercy to the Jewish people, the one who is going “…(t)o give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

I am glad that light is not limited to the Jews. Repeatedly in Isaiah we have seen that He brings light to all humankind. Simeon, when Jesus was just eight days old in Luke 2:32, identifies Jesus as “(a) light to bring revelation to the Gentiles.” The Gentiles, because they did not know the God of Israel, lived in the land of the shadow of death. They lived there because they rejected the truth of God (Romans 1). They lived there because they have spiritually, even when going through tough times, shaken their fist in God’s face. They were in total darkness.

That was my situation and that was the situation of every person born, Jew and Gentile. There is, however, hope. The reality of eternal death, although certain, is not yet accomplished for you hearing this message this morning. Someone has already been executed for our sin. It is Jesus, the King and the Bringer of Light. It is through faith (John 1:4-8) in His death and resurrection that He proclaims light to the human race which is sitting in the shadow of death (Acts 26:22-23).

B. The New King Also Brings Joy to Those Oppressed (9:3-4). It is in these verses that we see not only the first coming of Christ as a man but also His second, future coming as the Prince of Peace. They are melded so closely to each other that one can hardly recognize where one begins and the other ends. That is so, even though there are at least 2000 years between the two comings.

1. What kind of joy does the King bring (9:3)?

The King brings multiplied and increased joy, exceeding joy. That is what Mary sang as she carried her Savior in her womb, “My spirit rejoices exceedingly in God my Savior.” Even before He was born, the King brought exceeding joy. The angels proclaimed to the shepherds tidings of great joy. The wise men saw the star and had exceedingly great joy.

This joy is multiplied and increased because it has been a long time coming. It is the joy of the harvest. The farmer plants in the spring. He works and waters the field through all kinds of weather. Heat and cold, sunshine and rain, all through the spring and summer and fall he works and waits and then the harvest comes. That is the type of rejoicing in this passage. Since Adam, humankind had been waiting for Jesus to be born. That is one reason why He was received with great joy. It has been two thousand years since Jesus returned to His Father’s throne. When He returns to earth again, it will again be a time of great joy for those who trust in Him.

This joy is also multiplied and increased because it is the joy that comes with victory. When the King comes He brings victory over His enemies and over the enemies of His oppressed people. In that there is great joy.

2. What kind of oppression does the King relieve (9:4)? This fourth verse refers to Gideon in the book of Judges. The Midianites were a great host of raiders, who would come and destroy the crops and plunder the Israelites and murder and wreak havoc. That is the type of oppression the Israelites were suffering. They labored, they worked hard, and they planted. As soon as they planted the Midianites came and destroyed the crops. The people started hiding food. One of those hiding food was a young man named Gideon. God told Gideon, “I want you to take an army.” Gideon did. God told Gideon, “Reduce your army to 300 men.” Gideon did. God told Gideon to attack at night with three companies surrounding the camp, to blow their trumpets in their right hand, to break the pitchers concealing torches in their left hands, and to cry out, “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!” The Midianites woke up to the sound, saw the lights, panicked, and began to kill each other in the confusion. It was the largest case of friendly fire in history and God is the one who caused it. He is the one who delivered Israel from the oppression of the enemy. The resulting joy is the joy that only the victorious King of Kings and Lord of Lords can bring.

C. Finally, The New King not only Brings Light and Joy but He brings Eternal Peace (9:5-7). Verse 5 describes for us how complete this peace will be. The market for army boots and uniforms will be depleted. There will be no use for them because through His victory the King brings peace.

1. This King’s Name is Wonderful Counselor — Isaiah clarifies what he means in 25:1 and 29:14. Isaiah 29:14a says, “Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder…” This King does things that no other can do. His works are past finding out. They are too great for us. When I think that the ruler of the universe came to die for me so that I might have light and joy and peace, it is too marvelous, too wonderful for me to understand. This King, Jesus Christ, is Wonderful.

2. This King’s Name is Counselor — It may be that “wonderful” and “counselor” are intended to be one name. Either way, the point is this. He has the wisdom to make and carry out a perfect plan of peace. If you return to Isaiah 29:14b, you will see why God felt that He had to intervene in His people’s affairs, “…For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.” Before the creation of the universe, Christ had a perfect peace plan for this earth. That’s why we can turn to Him. “…Christ is a Counsellor to us and with us, because we can consult with him, and he… counsel(s) and advise(s) us as to the right way and the path of peace.” (Spurgeon)

3. This King’s Name is not only Wonderful Counselor but also the Mighty God — He makes the plans work because He is God. Yes, He became man and was tempted as you and I but as God He also came. If you are weak, go to Him for strength to carry out what He wants you to do. He is the Mighty God.

4. This King’s Name is also the Everlasting Father (or Father of Eternity) — His plans are good because He cares like a father and because they are eternal. Only an eternal God can guarantee eternal peace. If you are scared, depend on Him. If you are worried, turn to Him. He will never leave you holding the bag. In fact, He’ll hold the bag for you and stick around to see what you might be facing.

5. Finally, this King’s Name is the Prince of Peace — His plans are focused on peace. If you are disturbed, He has you in His sights and is unconcerned because He has you and all around you in His grip.

*In the past, His coming made peace with God
*In the present, right now, those who come to Him find peace in their heart when they put their faith in Christ and the Prince of Peace comes to live within them.
*In the future, His second coming will usher in an eternal kingdom of peace.

INVITATION: “The most important part of our verse (9:6) is the first three words….…‘For to us’. The gift of Christ is a personal gift from God to us, (to you). A gift requires a response. If I put a gift under your tree, you may acknowledge it, may admire it, may even thank me for it, but it isn’t yours until you open it and take it for your own.”
“God has a Christmas gift for you……..not wrapped in bright paper and fancy ribbon, but in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger…….It is the gift of His Son. It is for you. The gift is still there. It must be personally received.”
“You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look in the Father’s Face and tell Him you have received his Christmas gift. Have you done that?” (Pritchard)

One thing about a gift, you can only give something once. You can only receive a gift once. So it is with the salvation of God. When you turn to Christ in faith and receive the gift of salvation, you never have to ask again. That gift is yours for all eternity. Only Christ, the Eternal Father, the Father of eternity can give an eternal gift. You may not have been enjoying the gift as you should but it is still yours. Perhaps you’ve received the gift of eternal life. That is a Christmas gift that you can never receive again but you can take it off the shelf and enjoy it not only every Christmas but every day for the rest of eternity. Christ wants you to enjoy the light and the joy and the peace that He has provided for you. If you haven’t been living for Him as you should, then tell Him as we pray that you are sorry. He is faithful and just to forgive you and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Turn to Him and start living for Him today.

Christmas Sermon on “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men” December 6, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Advent, Christmas, Isaiah, Jesus, Longfellow, Peace, Religion, Sermons, World Peace.
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This week on “Eternally Significant”
Tuesday: Going Beyond Saying “Merry Christmas”
Wednesday: Why Sport’s Commentators Condemn Tiger

THE HUMBLE BEGINNINGS OF PEACE ON EARTH
Isaiah 11:1-16

INTRODUCTION: One of the most obscure prophetic references of the New Testament is found in Matthew 2:23, where he writes of Joseph bringing his family back from exile in Egypt to the city of Nazareth. Matthew writes, “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.’” He is referring to this first verse of Isaiah 11. The word “branch” is the Hebrew word, “netser”, which means a sprout or a shoot. Matthew was trying to emphasize the humble beginnings of Jesus.

A. The twig or sprout symbolizes for us the humble beginnings of Jesus Christ (verses 1-9). Compare verse 1 with Isaiah 53:2-3 to see another description of the humble beginning of Jesus Christ. In that chapter we see that Jesus was despised so that He could make peace with God for us. He paid the penalty for our sins so that we could come to God. Why then did it have to be Jesus? Why could it not have been some other descendant of the royal line that provides the peace Isaiah describes in this chapter? What makes Jesus different from the other descendants of Jesse? Isaiah goes on to tell us in this chapter (Isaiah 11).

1. He has the Spirit of God continually on Him (verse 2). Now Jesus, as far as we know, was not born with the Spirit of God upon Him. He was God who became man but when it came time to begin His ministry, He went to be baptized publicly by John the Baptist. When He came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove and rested on Him, anointing Him as the Messiah. I do not understand how God the Spirit who is one with God the Son can do that but that is what happened. The reason it happened was to identify Jesus as the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Sent One, the Christ of God. (That is why the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit was such a serious crime, an unpardonable sin. The underlying foundation of that sin was a total rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and of the proof of the Holy Spirit in His life.) When Peter first preached the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles in Acts 10:38, he pointed out that this anointing of Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and the works that followed were what set Him apart from every other man. These works by the Holy Spirit proved His Messiahship.

Four times in the book of Revelation, Jesus is identified as having the seven Spirits of God. This is a reference to verse 2 of our text. Here is proof again that this not just another royal descendant but that this little sprout of which Isaiah writes, this little shoot is the Holy One of God, the Messiah.

2. Not only does He have the Spirit of God continually on Him but also He judges righteously and faithfully (verses 3-5). Our Lord Jesus Christ judges so righteously and so faithfully that His name is called in Jeremiah 23:6 and 33:16, “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” In other words, this is not some unknowable, untouchable King who will rule the earth but a Lord who becomes righteousness for His people. We are unrighteous and unfaithful by nature but He changes that for those who believe in Him. He comes as the gentle, loving healer and counselor of men and He comes also as the King of kings and Lord of lords. He comes as the hope of this world, the Prince of Peace, and as the Man that men cannot forget. Most precious of all to me though is that He comes as the LORD our righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it this way, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

As we continue to look at Isaiah’s description of Jesus as the righteous and faithful judge, we see, in the middle of verse four, another of those transitions that take us from the past when Jesus came, meek but Spirit-filled ministering to those who are weak, into the future, when He establishes His kingdom on this earth. There is a change and this change is identified by the destruction of Christ’s earthly enemy.

Who is His enemy? Of course, all those who reject Him, the earth, but the end of verse four singles out a particular person. He is called “the wicked” or “the Wicked One”.

“…(W)ho is this individual here called the ‘Wicked One’?… The apostle Paul quotes this very scripture in 2 Thess. 2:8: ‘And then shall that Wicked One be revealed'”; (Jennings). This is directly talking about the Antichrist. This little sprout, this little shoot is different because of the character and the power of His justice. He will judge His enemy, the Wicked One.

3. He brings peace to all of creation (verses 6-9). These are amazing verses. Could this literally happen? Could the predator and its prey become playmates? Is it possible that we need never fear danger to our children from the wildlife around us? According to Hosea 2:18 God will make it possible. “In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, with the birds of the air, and with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, to make them lie down safely.”

That passage as well as Ezekiel 34:25 teach us that God will make a covenant with the animals of nature that will make the world safe for His people, Israel. When God makes peace in the Middle East and throughout the world, it will be world peace. Both nuclear bombs and rabies will be eliminated. There will be no more need for satellites to watch other nations and no need for protection from wild animals. How will it happen? This sprout, this shoot, will make it happen.

B. Isaiah not only presents Jesus as a sprout but also as “the root of Jesse.” This shows us the eternal establishment of peace on earth through Jesus Christ, who was of the house and lineage of David (Compare Revelation 5:5-6 and 22:16 with verses 10-16 to see that these verses are talking about Jesus Christ). Yes, Jesus started as a sprout, as a shoot coming up out of the decaying stump of the royal house of David but He will take root, He will become a tree. When He does, a new day will dawn on the earth. Verse 10 uses the phrase “in that day.” Verse 11 states, “It shall come to pass in that day…” The question now is this. What will happen that will reveal Jesus in His power and His glory?

1. He will rescue His people, Israel (verses 11-16). The beginning of verse 11 shows that God will bring Israel for the second time into the land. The first was when he called them out of Egypt. They are in the land now but Christ has not yet called them there. They still have not accepted Christ as their Messiah. There is coming a day, though, when they will accept Christ as their personal and national Savior. That is the second time that God is talking about in this verse. This little sprout, this little shoot that was despised and rejected in Isaiah 53 will come back in strength and in power and will rescue His people Israel.

Notice that the root of Jesse brings change to the landscape of the Middle East (verses 14-16). I am not talking about the political landscape although that will also be true. Christ is going to change the geological landscape of the Middle East when He returns. I do not understand exactly why or how but it will be another proof to the nations of who He is. He is no longer the little sprout, the shoot but a mighty, all-powerful root, which changes the landscape of the world if it should suit His purposes.

2. Not only will He rescue His people Israel but He will be worshiped by the Gentiles (verses 10 and 12). Verse 10 says they will seek Him. Romans 15:12 translates this phrase, “In Him the Gentiles will hope.”

Let me clarify what a Gentile is for our young people. Before Christ came, God divided the world into two groups: his people, the Jews and the rest, the Gentiles. When Christ came and died He tore down the ethnic dividing wall and took from the Jews and from the Gentiles and made a new people, the Church. This is what is meant by “the Gentiles will hope.” We have hope in and through Jesus Christ. We were not Jews. We were not of His people but God made a way of hope for us through Jesus Christ. He sent a little sprout, a little shoot to die for us and become the root on which we can stand and draw strength.

The Gentiles will not only seek Him but they will also rally to Him (verse 12). The wicked are destroyed, the Jews are restored but there are those who are not Jews who have turned to Christ. He was a despised, overlooked sprout but now He is the rally flag for all who serve Christ both now and in the future and forevermore. At that time peace on earth will be complete.

“Tragedy struck both the nation and the Longfellow family in 1861. Confederate Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard fired the opening salvos of the American Civil War on April 12th, and Fanny Longfellow was fatally burned in an accident in the library of Craigie House on July 10th. The day before the accident, Fanny Longfellow recorded in her journal: ‘We are all sighing for the good sea breeze instead of this stifling land one filled with dust. Poor Allegra is very droopy with heat, and Edie has to get her hair in a net to free her neck from the weight.’ After trimming some of seven year old Edith’s beautiful curls, Fanny decided to preserve the clippings in sealing wax. Melting a bar of sealing wax with a candle, a few drops fell unnoticed upon her dress. The longed for sea breeze gusted through the window, igniting the light material of Fanny’s dress– immediately wrapping her in flames. In her attempt to protect Edith and Allegra, she ran to Henry’s study in the next room, where Henry frantically attempted to extinguish the flames with a nearby, but undersized throw rug. Failing to stop the fire with the rug, he tried to smother the flames by throwing his arms around Frances– severely burning his face, arms, and hands. Fanny Longfellow died the next morning. Too ill from his burns and grief, Henry did not attend her funeral. (Incidentally, the trademark full beard of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow arose from his inability to shave after this tragedy.)”
“The first Christmas after Fanny’s death, Longfellow wrote, ‘How inexpressibly sad are all holidays.’ A year after the incident, he wrote, ‘I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace.’ Longfellow’s journal entry for December 25th 1862 reads: ‘A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.’ Almost a year later, Longfellow received word that his oldest son Charles, a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac, had been severely wounded with a bullet passing under his shoulder blades and taking off one of the spinal processes. (Charles did not die but it was a serious wound.) (T)he Christmas of 1863 was silent in Longfellow’s journal. Finally, on Christmas Day of 1864, he wrote the words of the poem, “Christmas Bells.” We have part of this poem in our hymnbook. We call it, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

Christmas Bells
1. I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

2. And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

3. Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

4. Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

5. And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

6. Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!’

If you are a believer, you have peace with God. Do you have the peace of God? Philippians tells us in 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing but in prayer and thanksgiving let your request be make known unto God; and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.” Christmas can be a troubling time. We saw in Longfellow’s the difficulties sorrow brings. Eighteen years later he wrote in a poem that he still suffered from sorrow. In your sorrow, in your troubles, in your worries and difficulties you can have peace. The peace of God. He began as a little sprout, a little shoot in Nazareth but He can be a root of strength and nourishment in your life. Go to Him, throw yourself on Him for strength and insight and direction and help in the time of need.

This peace on earth, good-will to men began as a little sprout, a little shoot. It still is not fully grown. Christ is yet to be revealed as the Root. That will happen when He returns. Yes, hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men. The thunder of our weapons drown the sound of peace on earth, good-will to men. But God is not dead, He neither slumbers nor sleeps. Wrong shall fail and right shall prevail with peace on earth, good-will to men.

How is it possible to have this peace? According to Romans 5:1, “…having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is only possible through faith in Him. He died for you, so you could have peace with God.

Will you trust Him today? Will you let Christ make your peace with God for you by becoming your righteousness.

The Hope of Christmas (A Sermon for First Advent from Isaiah 8:1-22) November 29, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Advent, Christmas, Faith, Hope, Incarnation, Isaiah, Jesus, Messiah, Religion, Sermons, Signs and Wonders, Virgin Birth.
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THE HOPE OF CHRISTMAS
Isaiah 8:1-22

INTRODUCTION: This advent season we are looking at “Christmas According to Isaiah”. Chapters 7-11 of the book of Isaiah all come from the same time period of Isaiah’s ministry. It is about 700 years before Jesus Christ would be born. Ahaz, king of Judah is looking to Assyria for help against his two enemies to the north: (1) his relatives, the northern kingdom of Israel and (2) their ally, Syria. Isaiah’s message to Ahaz and to Judah is depend on God not man for help. You will be judged, in fact, God will use your ally, Assyria, to judge you. However, God will not forsake His people. There is hope but only for those of His people who turn to God.

This is the hope of Christmas. These are tough days for many but there is hope for a glorious future for those who turn to Christ.

I. God confirms this hope through a child (vs. 1-4). Now this is not the first sign that is given to Ahaz and the people of Judah. In Isaiah 7:13-17, Isaiah tells Ahaz to ask for a sign and Ahaz refuses. God, however, through Isaiah gives him a sign anyway. It is the sign of a child. We know that this prophecy is referred to in Matthew as the prophecy of the virgin birth of Christ. However, as is not uncommon in Old Testament prophecy, there is a double fulfillment: a near fulfillment and a far off fulfillment. The fulfillment through the virgin born Christ is still at this time 700 years in the future but God also gave another child, Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, to be born and the purpose of His birth was to confirm the prophecy and to confirm the hope that would be connected to that prophecy.

a. How the prophecy concerning the child is given is described in verses 1-2. Now there are several important things that we need to notice.

i. First, this prophecy was intended to be public. It was written on a large scroll so that it could be easily and readily read. Witnesses were named who would be able at the fulfillment of the prophecy to confirm that the prophecy had been given before the fulfillment.

It is very important to God that people have good reason to believe His message of hope. When God speaks of hope, He speaks of a certainty, a guarantee. If you purchased something this past Black Friday, you undoubtedly saved your receipts. If you decide to return an item, the receipt tells you whether your hope of getting your money back is a wish or a certainty. In the same way, God gave the sign of this child as a confirmation, an assurance that He would not forsake His people but would save them in the end.

Is this not one reason why the virgin birth of Christ is important? That Christ was born of a virgin confirms for us that we have hope in eternity. If it were to be proven that Jesus was not the far future fulfillment of this prophecy, then our hope in Him would be based on the lies of Matthew and Luke. He was, however, born of a virgin. Both Matthew and Luke point to verifiable eyewitnesses who could verify that Jesus truly was born of a virgin.

Once I spoke with an evangelical pastor who felt that it did not really matter if Jesus was born of a virgin. What was important was that one believes in Jesus. Why then did God give the prophecy? Faith in Christ must be based on the certainty that Jesus alone fits the prophecy of the Scriptures. Anything less is like going to the store without a receipt and wishing for an exchange.

ii. Let’s look now at the prophecy (verses 3-4). Isaiah and his wife, the prophetess, would have a son named Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. His name was actually the prophecy: “hurry to the loot, swift to the prey.” (verses 3-4). According to the prophecy, before this baby would speak his first words, the meaning of his name would come to pass.

b. The prophecy concerning the child is fulfilled. The beginning of the fulfillment of this prophecy is found in 2 Kings 16:9, “So the king of Assyria heeded [Ahaz’s call for help]; for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and took it, carried its people captive to Kir, and killed Rezin.” Chapter 17 then describes the fall of Israel to the Assyrians.

II. So what is the message of hope that is found in this prophecy? It is this, “God protects His people even in judgment” (vs. 5-10).

a. This judgment comes because of lack of faith in God (vs. 5-7). The northern kingdom depended on man rather than God as represented by their rejection of the waters of Shiloah and because of their rejection, the Assyrians came like a flood and wiped out their armies and took their people captive.

b. Mercy, however, is available to God’s people (verse 8a). We see this in that the flood of judgment would not overwhelm them but rather come up to their neck. This is exactly what happened. The Assyrians who defeated Syria and Israel were not able to overcome Judah. Judah suffered much because of the Assyrians but God delivered Judah from destruction.

c. Why? Because God is with them (verses 8b-10). Isaiah reminds them in these verses that Immanuel, “God with us,” will deliver them from their enemies. Because God is with His people, they can have hope. Their future, even in the day of judgment, is certain and victorious because “God is with us.”

“No wonder when John Wesley lay dying in 1791, he roused from his sleep long [enough] to open his eyes and exclaim, “The best of all is, God is with us!” Then he closed his eyes and died” (from Ray Pritchard’s sermon “Overcoming Loneliness”).

III. With this message of hope, God warns of the danger of rejecting His confirmed Word (vs. 11-15).

a. He tells Isaiah, “Do not fear those who reject Me” (vs. 11-12).

“Isaiah’s message must have seemed crazy: ‘Don’t fear the mighty army you see arrayed against you. Though they have far more soldiers, you have something they don’t. You have Immanuel on your side.’” (from Ray Pritchard’s sermon “Are You Prepared to Suffer for Christ?“). For that reason, many accused Isaiah and other prophets of the LORD of collusion with the enemy. This is similar to what Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 10:28 when He said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

b. “Do not fear those who reject Me but rather fear the One who is to be hallowed (vs. 13-14a).” To hallow God is to set Him above all others. No one can veto His Word. He is the LORD and there is none else.

c. Destruction is the end of His rejecters (v. 14b-15). It is not just that those who reject God, who reject Christ, will stumble and be offended. The picture in these verses is that they will be destroyed by the very one they stumbled over. The one who they found so offensive will be their judge.

IV. God gives hope only to those who trust His Word (vs. 16-22), that is, believe in His confirming signs. In those days it concerned Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz but today the sign in whom we must believe is the virgin born Son of God, Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us. The apostle Paul in Romans 9:33 took part of verse 14 and another portion from Isaiah to make this very point, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”*

a. Our hope is confirmed by His works (vs. 16-18). The signs that God gives confirm His word and give us the ability to wait, to hope. The difficult part of the certain hope of the Christian is the waiting. The first verse of one of the carols we sang today, written by John Wesley’s brother, Charles, describes very well the difficulty of waiting, of hoping.

“Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.”

Isaiah and his two sons (Shear-Jashub is mentioned in Isaiah 7:3 and means “the remnant shall return”) were signs of hope in their day but men had to wait 700 years before Immanuel was born. Immanuel, God with us, Jesus lived and died and rose again and returned to His Father’s side at the right hand of the throne of God 2000 years ago and we wait, we hope, we sing…

“Come, Thou long-expected Jesus…
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a Child, and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now (can you not hear the longing in this carol?) Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.”

That is the hope of Christmas!

b. Our insight, our ability to see the truth, to wait, to hope is conditioned by faith in His Word (vs. 19-22).

There were those who offered an alternative to God’s Word, God’s law, God’s signs. They said, “Go to those who can speak with the dead and find out what God is doing!”

As in those days, many “In our relativistic age… are offended by any suggestion that there is only one way of salvation. But that is precisely what Jesus meant when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Those words must be taken at face value. We have no right to water them down. Sometimes people speak of Jesus as if he were some kind of great moral teacher. The people who say that generally don’t like John 14:6. It doesn’t fit the concept of a great moral teacher. If Jesus isn’t the way, the truth, and the life–if there really is another way to the Father–then Jesus isn’t a great moral teacher. He’s either the most self-deceived man in all history or he is a liar. In either case, he’s not a great teacher. You can’t pick and choose with Jesus. Either take what he says at face value or reject him altogether. Those are the only two choices you have.” (from Ray Pritchard’s sermon “Stumbling Stone or Cornerstone?“).

That is what Isaiah is saying in this prophecy. Believe God and His Word and you will know the truth. You will not be plunged deeper and deeper into darkness but will be enlightened and will have hope even in a dark world.

CONCLUSION: Our Future is Absolutely Certain.
 There are many fulfilled prophecies related to Jesus Christ in Isaiah (that Jesus will be born of a virgin), in Micah (that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem), in the Psalms (that Jesus would suffer, die, and rise from the dead), in Daniel and Hosea and elsewhere. When we look at those prophecies we know that we can expect that our hope for the future will also be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

INVITATION: Would you bow your heads and close your eyes for a few moments? This is good news. Perhaps you have heard this good news before, perhaps many times. Is it not time that you believed it? Is it not time for you to say, I am going to trust Christ alone as my salvation. Would you do that today? Would anyone like to do that at this moment?

Perhaps you are here and you are interested but are not yet ready to make a commitment to Christ but would like me to pray for you today, that God would help you to know the truth. My prayer for you is nothing magical but the God who hears and answers prayer wants to bring you to Himself. If you would like prayer today, would you raise your hand?

If you raised your hand, you need to talk to someone you can trust. I would be glad to speak with you. There are others who would be glad to speak with you. Perhaps you would like to speak to the person you came with and ask them to show you how to trust Christ as Savior. Do it today!

Maybe you have a lot of questions. We can help you to get connected with someone who will take the time to meet with you weekly and answer your questions. Please let us know today, if we can help you in this way.

(Thanks to Ray Pritchard for the quotations from his sermons.)

Isaiah 53 (The Suffering Servant) – A Passion Sermon March 29, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Atonement, Crucifixion, Death of Christ, Isaiah, Jesus, Religion, Resurrection, Sermons.
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JESUS, THE SUFFERING SERVANT (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)

The LORD God wants your attention on the Glorious Deeds of His Servant, Jesus Christ. Again, it is important to identify who this Servant is.

1. As in Isaiah 42, the Servant here must be the Messiah. In Isaiah, sometimes the nation of Israel is called God’s Servant. In at least one place Isaiah himself is referred to as the servant of God but in verses 4-6, we find that the Servant has the sin of others laid on Him. Israel as God’s chosen people is not responsible to deal with our sin problem but the Messiah is. Isaiah also was not responsible to deal with the sin problem of his people but the Messiah is.

2.Since it is clear that this passage is talking about the Messiah, it remains to us to determine if Jesus fulfills this prophecy, is he the Suffering Servant, the Messiah. There are a number of prophecies in this passage and we will look at some of them this morning but I want to call your attention to Acts 8:30-35. Philip explained to the Ethiopian eunuch that this passage among others is talking about Jesus, the Suffering Servant, the Messiah.

I. Jesus, the Servant is honored by God because He acted wisely (52:13). This verse is an introduction to the details that are to follow. God wants us to pay attention to His Servant because He has acted wisely. He wants us to know what those actions are and He wants us see that His Servant is honored, is glorified by God based on the wise actions described later in these verses. As we read the following verses, the actions Jesus undertook may see foolish to us. It may seem like a huge mistake. God’s evaluation is different. God says, this plan of action that My Servant has undertook is a wise plan of action and I will honored Him accordingly.

II. Not everyone, however, honors Jesus, the Suffering Servant. The next verse indicates that Jesus, the Servant is not honored by men (52:14-53:3).

A. His life ended in shocking humiliation (52:14-15). Isaiah begins here with the end of the life of Christ. Here is a man whose disfigurement is astonishing. Now why would the disfigurement of a man be so shocking. Have we not all seen people whose bodies or faces are so ravaged by disease or disaster that we have been astonished? But to see God’s honored Servant so disfigured is shocking. To this day, many do not believe that God could have had a hand in the crucifixion. They prefer to think that Jesus had a different end in mind than His shameful death. That God would allow such a thing to happen is shocking.

It is like water being splashed in your face. The nations and their rulers when confronted with the humiliation of Christ are shocked, even repulsed by the horribleness of the crucifixion of the Suffering Servant of God.

B. His life began in unbelievable humility (53:1-3). Before He died in humiliation, He must first be born in humility. Again, hardly anyone can believe the message. That the Servant of God should be born into a poor, humble family, that God should come into the world in the weakness of infancy, that He should live and walk on this earth for thirty years in insignificance and that even when He begins His work there are no military victories won. Immediately after His crucifixion, the best that one might could say was that He simply was a fad for a year or so, who, when the fad was over, did not simply fade away but died, hated, betrayed, and forsaken. The life of Christ, even in the midst of the miracles He performed and the teachings He expounded, never rose above the life of a simple man surrounded by other simple men. So we see that Jesus, the suffering Servant is honored by God but not by man. His humility and humiliation is not honorable in the eyes of humankind but rather is despised by them, by us.

III. Yet, Jesus, the Servant was unjustly executed for the crimes of humankind (53:4-9), for the crimes of those who despised Him. This we recognize. There are few who would say that Jesus deserved the death He died. It is hard for people to recognize is that He died for their sins.

This passage explains to us what it means for Jesus to die for our sins. Verses 5-6 makes it clear that Jesus died for criminals. Our criminality is described in verse 6, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way.” We want to do, what we want to do; and what we want to do is criminal. “But He was wounded for our transgressions.”

So what? What does that accomplish? What good is it that Jesus died? Verse 5 tells us that our peace, our well-being, was accomplished through His bearing of our punishment. We are healed by the death of Christ.

Now it is important to understand what this means. There are those who teach that Jesus died so that we should be delivered from physical poverty and troubles and sickness. They turn to these verses to teach this. If, however, we look at the context, the picture is much different. It is the picture of a criminal, who is condemned but another takes his punishment. This peace, this well-being is not a two car garage and a freezer full of steaks. It is the release from the penalty of death. That is the well-being, the peace that the Suffering Servant provides. This healing is not the healing of our physical illnesses but rather the release from certain death through His death. The word “healed” means to be restored to its proper condition. Medically this meaning is obvious but it is also used when Elijah repaired the altar. He restored the altar to its proper condition. His successor, Elisha, later performed a miracle. The water in a certain city was unsuitable for drinking and unsuitable for irrigating. The properties of the water were poisonous. Elisha took a bowl of salt, tossed it into the source of the water, and “healed” the water, that is, restored the water to its proper condition. The psalms speak of healing of the soul and healing of the broken-heart. What Isaiah is speaking of here is the restoration of a condemned criminal. The criminal by the death of the Suffering Servant is taken off of death role and given his freedom. That is a healing that surpasses all medical healings.

Verses 7-9 describe in detail the death and burial of the Suffering Servant.

First, we find that He suffered silently. He did not try to defend Himself but rather submitted Himself to the death of a criminal. Matthew tells us three times that Jesus kept silent at the accusations made against Him, He answered not one word. Mark, Luke, and John also mention the silence of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:23 say that Jesus, “…when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Jesus, fulfilled the prophecies in verse 7 regarding the Suffering Servant.

Then, verse 8 tells us that He was killed. The Muslims may say that Jesus did not die but that another took His place but all the eyewitnesses are certain, without any doubt, that Jesus is the one who died on that cross. The soldier, who came to break His legs, so that He might die more quickly, found Him dead (and on finding that, took a spear and drove it into the side of Jesus Christ). Jesus’ died as predicted by this prophecy in verse 8.

The beginning of verse 9 tells us that Jesus died with the wicked. Between two criminals, Jesus died. Was He guilty of anything? No, but he died with the wicked as prophesied 700 years earlier by Isaiah.

The middle of the verse reminds us that He was buried with the rich. Joseph or Arimathea, a wealthy man, begged the body of Jesus from Pilate and took it and buried the body in his own tomb, the tomb of a rich man. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the Suffering Servant being executed for our behalf, freeing us, healing us from condemnation.

IV. These are the actions, for which Jesus is honored. Jesus, the Suffering Servant is honored by God because He atoned for our crimes (53:10-12).

A. God honors Jesus with long life (53:10). The implications of the resurrection are not dealt with in this passage but Isaiah predicted that this Suffering Servant, who died for us criminals and was buried in the tomb of a rich man would see His seed. Now Jesus never married. How is it that He can see His seed? He must rise again from the dead and see men and women turn to Him for salvation. Those who trust Christ become the sons of God, by believing in His name. This is an honor that only God can offer. Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world, if He would only bow down to Him. He did not, however, and could not offer life. God honored Jesus with life, God raised Him from the dead.

B. God honors Jesus with a portion among the great (53:12). What portion did Jesus get? Hebrews 1 tells us exactly. It tells us that Jesus, “…when He had by Himself purged us from our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels has He said at any time, ‘You are my Son, this day have I begotten You…” Do you understand that Jesus does not sit on the right hand of God because He Himself is God but because He is being honored for dying on our behalf for our criminal acts. He atoned for our crimes and for that wise action, God has honored Jesus Christ in our behalf.

When Philip preached this passage to Philip, he asked about being baptized. Philip’s reply was simply this, do you believe? Do you believe that you are a criminal before God, deserving of death but that He was executed on your behalf and that through Him you can have spiritual healing, that is, be freed from the penalty of God? The eunuch answered, “Yes.” Philip then baptized Him as a testimony of His faith in Christ. This message is worthless to you if you do not believe it and follow Christ. Will you believe today?

NEXT WEEK: Zechariah 9:9-17 – The Coming King

Easter 2009 (Jesus in the Old Testament) – Isaiah 42 The Servant of the LORD March 22, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Isaiah, Jesus, Promises of God, Prophets, Religion, Sermons.
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JESUS, THE SERVANT (Isaiah 42:1-9)

The LORD God Father wants your attention on His Chosen Servant, Jesus Christ. It is important to identify who this Servant is. There are several reasons why we know that this passage is speaking of Jesus Christ.

1. First, the Servant here must be the Messiah. In Isaiah, sometimes the nation of Israel is called God’s Servant but in verse 6, we find that the Servant is given to Israel as a covenant. That is, ultimately who the Messiah is, the one through whom the various covenants, which God made with Israel through Abraham and Moses and David, will be fulfilled. Since it is clear that this passage is talking about the Messiah, it remains to us to determine if Jesus fulfills this prophecy, is he the Servant, the Messiah; and, secondly, to understand what His task as the Servant involves.

2. Verse 1 prophesies Jesus’ baptism. Although the actual baptism is not predicted in the Old Testament, the events surrounding His baptism are in this passage. When Jesus came up out of the water, a voice from heaven proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased,” that is, the one in whom I delight, and then the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove came upon Jesus. First, the Father identified Him as His well-pleasing Servant and then anointed Jesus with His Spirit. Anointing was a way of identification of a prophet or a priest or a king. It is a way of setting them apart for specific service. It was usually done with an olive oil mixture. With Jesus it was a bit different. Jesus was identified by the Father as His well-pleasing Servant, better known to us as the Messiah, the Christ, and then was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Servant at His baptism.

I. Jesus, the Servant will establish justice on this earth (verses 1, 3-4). We often think only in terms of personal salvation when we think of the work of Christ, but there is much more involved. Jesus came and will come to establish justice on this earth. Psalm 37:1, 7, 12, 14, 21, 35 describes for us the injustice that presently reigns on this earth. During these hard economic times we are constantly hearing of those who take advantage of others. Some are caught and brought to justice but many are not. What is God’s answer to the injustices of the world. It is not natural disaster nor is it cataclysmic financial disaster that will bring justice into the world. God will one day take things in hand through His Servant, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who will bring justice to the earth. God’s law will be established on this earth.

A. He will not be swayed in His task (verse 2-4). These verses describe again the first coming of Christ. We find them quoted in Matthew 12:14-21. Jesus did not enlist others as testimonials of His greatness. He does not walk through the streets proclaiming Himself as God’s gift to mankind. Rather we find that His task as the Messiah involves preaching truth and righteousness and mercy and repentance and the kingdom of God. The God of the universe, who needs no humility, exhibits humility in His life here on earth.

We have in verses 3-4 a beautiful picture of Jesus character. The picture is this:

He will not break a bruised reed.

He will not quench the last embers of a little flax fire.

He will bring justice for truth.

His fire will not go out.

His spirit will not be bruised.

Until justice is established.

Jesus truly was meek and lowly. The common people, the oppressed, the sick and hurting heard Jesus gladly. He did not oppress them. He did not side with the rulers who oppressed His people. Yet it appears that Jesus’ death on the cross was a failure. Justice did not appear on the earth with His crucifixion nor with His resurrection. He is, however, coming back and when He does, justice will be established on this earth.

B. He will be welcomed by many (verses 4, 6-7). Verse four describes the hope of the coastlands, that is, the nations of the earth. While it is true that most if not all nations will be set against God when He returns to this earth, there will be those scattered throughout the world who will looking for His coming. He is, after all, there only hope. This group of people is described for us in Revelation 15:1-4. Many of them will be martyred for their faith. Others will be thrown in prison or left destitute and homeless because of their faith in Christ but they will be victorious in Christ Jesus. The servant is their hope. He is not, however, just the hope of those believers among the nations at the end of time.

The Servant is the hope of Israel because He fulfills the covenant God has made with them (verse 6). Jesus refers to this when He instituted the Lord’s Supper. Jesus said, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” In other words, this covenant that God originally made with Israel through Abraham, Moses, and David is ultimately made possible through the death of Christ. Romans 11:26-27 quotes Isaiah 59:20-21and makes it clear that ethnic Israel will be saved through their Deliverer but this deliverance will be deliverance from sin. Now I am convinced from the Old Testament prophecies and from the book of Revelation that national, ethnic Israel will receive their promised land when Jesus returns to this earth but their deliverance from their physical enemies is a secondary part of their covenant. The Jews will, when the Servant returns to this earth, turn to their Messiah, to their Christ, they will renew their covenant through their faith in Jesus Christ. Now Jews can do this now. They do not have to wait until Christ the Servant, the Deliverer returns to trust. The Jewish person can trust Christ now and if and when he or she does, they immediately enter into the covenant with which God has made with the Jews through Abraham, Moses, David and has brought into fruition through Jesus Christ. There is, however, coming a day when the nation of ethnic Jews will turn to Christ.

The servant brings light to those Gentiles in darkness (verses 1, 6-7). They are in darkness for two reasons.

First, they were originally outside of the covenant that God had made with Israel (verse 6b). The Servant’s light is not limited to the Jews. Repeatedly, Old and New Testaments tell us that He brings light to all humankind. Simeon, when Jesus was just eight days old in Luke 2:32 identifies Jesus as “(a) light to bring revelation to the Gentiles.”

They were imprisoned in darkness, they could not help themselves. The Gentiles, because they did not know the God of Israel lived in the prison of darkness. They were in total darkness. This world is in darkness. Jesus brings light. This world is full of injustice. In Christ there is justice and righteousness and truth and law. As with the Jews, this will happen when Jesus the Servant returns to the earth but also like the Jew we do not have to wait to be released from our darkness.

I was hopeless and helpless in darkness and that is the situation of every person born, Jew and Gentile. There is, however, light. The Servant was executed for a covenant to Israel and for a light to us. It is Jesus, the Servant who establishes the covenant with the people of God as well as the Bringer of Light who brings out the prisoners of darkness into light and He does both of these through His death, burial, and resurrection.

II. Jesus, the Servant is guaranteed success by the LORD God.

A. The guarantee is based on God’s sustaining power (verses 1, 4-6). In verses 1 and 6 we have God’s promise that He will uphold, sustain, and keep the Messiah. Verse 4 tells how long God will keep that promise. Verse 5 God reminds us that His creative power, the power that gives you and I life and breath is the power that sustains His servant. Now this may not seem very important to us but it was vitally important to those looking for the Messiah. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan, the second temptation recorded by Matthew had Satan taking Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple. Satan said, “Let’s assume you are the Son of God, the Messiah. God has promised to protect the Messiah. The Psalms say that the angels will keep you from being hurt. Jump off this building and prove your Messiahship by fulfilling this prophecy.” Jesus answer was this, “The Law commands us not to tempt God.” Yet it is important for us to understand that even Satan Himself recognized that God had promised to protect His servant.

B. The guarantee is based on God’s righteous calling (verses 1 and 6). We have already seen how that God has confirmed the choosing and calling of His Servant. This calling is also the guarantee that the Servant will accomplish the work that He was sent and will be sent to do.

C. The guarantee is based on God’s unique position (verses 5 and 8). There is no god like our God. He is the Creator. He is unique in His position, which He shares with no other. Because there is no one like Him, He can guarantee the success of His Servant.

D. The guarantee is based on Gods’ past record (verse 9). Isaiah points out, God has kept His promises in the past, He will keep these also. We being further down the timeline can see how God fulfilled some of these prophecies during the life of Jesus Christ. We can rest assured that He will fulfill what remains in the future. More importantly this morning is the assurance we can have that if we put our faith and trust in Christ, He will save us.

Do you want to be free from the slavery of darkness and sin? Do you desire a future where true justice reigns? Do you want Christ to serve you? It is possible through faith in Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection.

NEXT WEEK: JESUS, THE SERVANT SUFFERS (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)

Unto Us a Child is Born and the Government Will be on His Shoulder (Christmas Sermon from Genesis 49) December 21, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Genesis, Isaiah, Religion, Sermons.
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THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE ON THIS CHILD’S SHOULDER

(Genesis 49:8-12 with Isaiah 9:6-7)

 

Jacob has lived many years. He has twelve sons. As the head of his clan, he has the responsibility and opportunity to give the prophetic blessing (Genesis 49:1. He calls his sons to him and they gather around him. There is Reuben, the oldest, the first of Leah‘s sons. It is he, who should have the much coveted birthright, but lost it to the sons of Joseph because he committed incest with one of his father’s concubines (1 Chronicles 5:1-2).

 

Then there is Levi and Simeon, vengeful murderers of the men of a whole city, who then with their brothers plundered the city, probably selling the women and children of the city into slavery and keeping their goods for themselves.

 

Next is Judah. A failure as a father and as prone to the temporary pleasures of sin as his older brother and his uncle, Esau. It was his idea to sell Joseph into slavery in Egypt.

 

Leah’s fifth and sixth sons, Zebulon and Issachar. Overshadowed by their older brothers, insignificant.

 

Then the four sons of Jacob’s two concubines: Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. It is their wickedness that Joseph reported to his father, that started to ball of dissension and hate among his brothers.

 

The youngest is Benjamin, Joseph’s younger brother, the baby of the family.

 

Then finally there is Joseph. Prime minister of Egypt. Until Solomon, no Israelite would ever wield as much world power as this man. He has learned to be used by God. Jacob has given his sons the birthright.

 

These twelve men are gathered together to receive the blessing. There is every expectation that Joseph, through his youngest son, Ephraim‘s descendant, will receive the permanent position of head of the clan.

 

Jacob begins. Reuben receives no blessing but rather condemnation. For Simeon and Levi it is even worse. Their descendants are cursed because of their murderous anger.

Then God unexpectedly through Jacob chooses Judah over Joseph (Compare Genesis 49:3-4, 8-11, and 22-26 with 1 Chronicles 5:1-2). This is a shock (Hebrews 7:14). That the three oldest sons would be bypassed was no surprise. Why Judah? His sin of passion differed from Reuben’s only in that he did not know with whom he had sinned. He was no spiritual leader. God had killed his two oldest sons because of their wickedness. Joseph was the righteous one. He had delivered his family from starvation. His sons had the birthright but Jacob gave the ultimate blessing, the head of the nation, to Judah (Psalm 78:67-68). Eventually there was a boy named David. He is the first of the line of Judah to sit on the throne but the promise and the blessing goes beyond David and Solomon and their descendants…

…the child, Jesus, is the fulfillment of the blessing on Judah.

He will be worshiped in victory (verse 8-9). His brothers shall praise Him because He has His enemies by the throat. The victory has been won. All that remains is the deathblow. This baby is named Jesus, for he will deliver His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). His people will bow themselves before Him. They will worship Him. This Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5). There is no one who dares to rouse Him when He is resting. This is the victorious Jesus Christ, the one who will bring everlasting peace on earth, when He comes to establish His kingdom. This baby will be worshiped, when He returns as the victor over Satan, sin, and death.

He will rule throughout eternity (Read verse 10). This is the core of the blessing. Moses won great victories. Joshua was a conqueror. Under the judges like Gideon and Samson, the enemies of God were defeated. Saul became king and fought many successful battles. David’s victories were so complete that there was peace, not only at the end of his reign but well into that of Solomon. Moses, however, is dead. The victories of Joshua and the judges after him are forgotten. Saul eventually went down in defeat. Solomon’s sin resulted in the kingdom being divided. The line of Judah no longer sits on David’s throne. In Bethlehem, one was born who should be the king of the Jews. They rejected Him but He is still their king and one day He will come and they will recognize Him as the political and spiritual ruler. Their hearts will be transformed and He will rule throughout eternity over the whole universe.

In Isaiah 9:5-7 we have both a further prophecy concerning this child, Jesus, and a description of the eternal peace that His kingdom will bring to the world. Then Isaiah describes the Child through the names with which He will be called. This Child’s Name is Wonderful — this Child does things that no other can do. His peace is beyond understanding. It is too great for us. When I think that the ruler of the universe came as a baby in order to die for me, that is too marvelous, too wonderful for me to understand. This Child, this King, Jesus Christ, is Wonderful.

This Child’s Name is Counselor — He makes the Plans. Before the creation of the universe, Christ had a perfect peace plan for this earth. If there is anything that we should learn from the book of Genesis, it is this. That’s why, if you are confused, you can go to Him to find out what to do.

This Child’s Name is the Mighty God — He makes the plans work, because He is God. Yes, He became man and was tempted as you and I but as God He also came. If you are weak, you can go to Him for strength to carry out what He wants you to do. He is the eternal, Mighty God.

This Child’s Name is the Everlasting Father (or Father of Eternity) — only an eternal God can guarantee eternal peace. If you are scared, depend on Him. If you are worried, turn to Him. He will never leave you nor forsake you, that is His promise to those who serve Him.

This Child’s Name is the Prince of Peace — His plans are focused on peace, not peace like the world gives but a peace that is free from the potential for war. If you are disturbed, He has you in His sights and He has you and everything around you in His power.

He will bring prosperity with Him (verse 11-12). These two verses are an amazing description of plenty. There crops will be so good that the donkey can be tied up in front of the grape vine and no one will worry about him devouring the vine, even the choice vine. Wine, the drink of the wealthy will be used to wash clothes in. The point here is not that wine is a good choice for washing clothes but that the prosperity of God’s kingdom will be beyond our comprehension. The most expensive wines and cheeses and caviars and truffles and golden chocolate leaves will be regular dollar store items. Maple syrup will be as plentiful and as cheap as the sugary imitations that most of the world uses on their pancakes. The earth will be a land truly flowing with milk and honey.

 

I know that this hard to believe but this is the promise we have in the Christ Child. Isaiah 55:1 calls those who have nothing to come to Him and buy milk and wine without money. Jesus Christ offers a prosperity that the world cannot offer.

 

In verses 6-7 he says, “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”

 

How can God have mercy on the wicked? Do they not deserve to be punished? Oh, yes! They do. But this Child not only brings eternal prosperity and peace through His rule but He has won the victory over sin. Not just future sin or past sin but all sin. This Child died so that we can seek Him. Will you seek Him today? Put your faith and trust in Christ alone for salvation and you can be saved?

 

 

 

 

Links to Christmas Sermons and Devotionals based on Isaiah December 18, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Incarnation, Isaiah, Religion, Sermons.
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Ray Pritchard on the name Emmanuel.

A Four Part Series Entitled “Christmas According to Isaiah”

Spurgeon on Isaiah 9:6 “The Mighty God” For other Christmas sermons by Spurgeon on Isaiah 9 click this link.