God with Us
Context about why Isaiah wrote this chapter.
One theme in this chapter is a warning.
Isaiah is warning the people of the evil that is all around them.
Enemies surround them.
The nation of Israel is split.
Israel to the North and Judah to the south.
Isaiah is living in Judah.
The Northern Kingdom is being swollowed up by evil.
The people are being carried away to exile and slavery by a ruthless and violent nation.
Pressure from other nations around Judah are attempting to cause the leadership to cave.
The people are turning against God.
The Temple is desecrated and has fallen to ruin.
Isaiah is giving warning to repent.
To turn back to God as He is the only Deliverer who can save.
It is in this context that Isaiah writes:
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Isaiah is calling for God to come down from His throne.
1. Isaiah calls for God to come down in judgement against those who oppose truth.
He calls for God to judge as fire that sets twigs ablaze and boils water.
Isaiah is calling out to God for judgement of sin so that the people can be set free.
Isaiah remembers the time when God rested atop Mt. Sinai and set the Mountain on fire.
The people trembled at His presence.
Isaiah is calling for God to deliver again, as He did when He brought the people to Sinai.
Nations trembled at the power of God as He led His people through the desert.
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved?
Isaiah admits that there is no other god who hears the cry of His people.
Click #2 and #3
2. It is only the One True God who acts on behalf of those who call out to Him for help.
3. Isaiah takes comfort in this truth.
God comes to the help of those who remember your ways.
Verse 5 transitions:
In this verse Isaiah recognizes that people have strayed.
They chose not to remember.
They chose to live in their sin.
Isaiah asks the question, how can we be saved?
How can a people who turn their back on the source of Salvation be saved?
There is no hope apart from God.
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins.
Everyone has become like one who is unclean because the voice of God has been rejected.
4. All the righteous acts that we attempt to do in our fallen human nature are like filthy rags.
c. Filthy rags: “Filthy rags is ‘a garment of bodily discharges were considered a defilement because they were the ‘outflow’ of a sinful, fallen human nature. So, even what we might consider to be in our favour, righteous acts, partake of the defilement of fallenness.” (Motyer)
i. Preachers of previous generations thought this passage so extreme in its graphic description of sin’s likeness that it should not be preached honestly. “If preachers knew properly the meaning of this word, would they make such a liberal use of it in their public ministry?” (Clarke) “The expression, ‘filthy rags,’ in the Hebrew, is one which we could not with propriety explain in the present assembly. As the confession must be made privately and alone before God, so the full meaning of the comparison is not meant for human ear.” (Spurgeon)
Sin sweeps us away in human desire.
Isaiah cries out that no one calls for the Lord.
No one strives to take hold of Him.
Therefore God’s face has been hidden.
And the people are given over to sin.
We need to relay on the covering of Righteousness.
5. Our covering of Righteousness is Jesus.
Click for Jeremiah 17
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
Essentially what Jeremiah is saying is that the Lord allows us to reap the fruit of our desire.
He gives us the reward of our heart.
Click #6 and #7
6. If our heart is wicked, we reap wickedness.
7. If our heart seeks to draw closer to God, we reap fruit of righteousness.
Think back to what Isaiah is lamenting.
Turn back to Isaiah 64 verse 6
No one seek the Lord.
Those who choose to dwell in sin are taken away by it.
They are consumed by it.
Isaiah is lamenting the reality that so many people are giving themselves over to the vile condition of the unrepentant heart.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people.
We can have confidence that in our repentance, God does not remember our sins.
Meaning, we are covered by the blood of Jesus so that we can find reconciliation.
But the prayer is also to help us to remember.
Help us remember vitality of our faith in Jesus.
It is only in Christ that we can be set free form the penalty of sin.
Your sacred cities have become a wasteland; even Zion is a wasteland, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and glorious temple, where our ancestors praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins. After all this, Lord, will you hold yourself back? Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?
The people have forgotten.
Isaiah looks upon a desolate landscape.
Isaiah is echoing the heart of god as God looks across the desolate landscape of the human heart.
8. Holiness is desecrated by a people who do not care to remember.
The treasured things of God lie in ruin.
Then to close this chapter, Isaiah call upon the Lord to act.
This is the heart if Isaiah.
This is the heart of God as He looks upon a people who choose not to remember.
We are in the same situation.
We live in a world that is running toward evil.
We live in a world that is governed by corruption.
The voices which are predominant in the culture call to silence God.
9. These loudest voices in our world call for the exaltation of evil, sin and perversion.
So many people choose to harden their heart toward God.
The proliferation of sin in our world has caused the heart of many to grow callosed.
This is what the enemy wants.
He wants hope to be lost.
Click for #10 and #11
10. The enemy wants us to feel like it is pointless.
11. No chance of victory or overcoming sin.
He wants us to give up and give in.
He wants us to let go of conviction and morality.
The landscape that we look upon is not that much different than when Isaiah cried out to the Lord.
Isaiah cried out for the Lord to act.
He cried out for the people to remember.
He called for the Lord to come down from His throne in heaven and bring order from chaos.
Isaiah looked forward.
Isaiah had a different hope.
He looked forward to a time when the Messiah would come.
12. Isaiah looked forward to a time when Jesus, our Savior would be revealed.
Brothers and sisters,
13. We live in this day.
We live in the day our our Messiah.
We live in the age of grace.
God with Us.
God with us.
God with us, AMEN!
The world may seem bleak, we have hope
Turn to Isaiah 9
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
This is our hope.
Those who walk in darkness have seen a great Light.
Light has dawned.
14. The Savior has come.
Rejoice and be glad because Jesus is born.
We remember the time of His appearing and we find hope.
Our Savior has shattered the yoke that burdens us.
Our oppressor has been defeated.
A child has been born.
A son has been given.
And upon His shoulders rests a Kingdom.
He is wonderful
He is our Counselor.
He is Almighty God in the flesh who has come down to shake the mountains.
He is our everlasting Father and the source of our peace.
GOD WITH US!
Turn to Luke 2
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
A child is born.
Our Savior is born.
Luke tells us that the angel of the Lord appeared to a group of shepherds who were tending their flocks.
The angel says to them.
Luke 2:10–12 (NIV)
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
The promise of God gives us this same hope in this day.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Do not be afraid.
Do not be afraid, the good news has come.
Our Savior has come.
He is our Messiah and our Lord.
Choose this day who you will serve.
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Glory to God.
15. Glory to God because He is with us.