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Isaiah 45-46

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“See you in two hours honey.”
These seemingly sweet words stung like a slap in the face to Henry as his wife kissed him and hopped out of the car and ran up to the door of her friend for what she said was a scrap booking event.
Though he wasn’t really expecting something big for his 50th birthday, he thought his wife would at least acknowledge it and offer to go out to dinner.
Henry drove back home and spent the next two hours moping around the house while mulling over in his mind his wife’s forgetfulness.
When it came time to pick her up, he pulled up to the house of her friend and held the horn down a little longer than usual. To his dismay, his wife came out happy as ever and invited him to come inside to see what she had done. This drove the dagger of pity even deeper into his heart. He turned of the car, slammed the door when he got out, and shuffled his feet up the driveway.
“Hon, I really don’t want to look at scrap booking. I’m sure it looks nice, but....”
“Surprise! Happy Birthday” a group of familiar voices shouted out as he walked into the house.
Henry looked over to his wife and saw her tear-filled eyes and her beaming smile and could only whisper “ Thank you hon, and I’m sorry.”
Henry’s resentment was growing over his wife’s uncaring ways all the while his wife was feverishly planning to give him a party he would cherish for years to come.
God has announced peace and comfort to his people in exile, but they are growing disgruntle toward his ways. They declare “My ways are hidden from God.” They are a people that though hearing of God’s saving plans in the past and in the future, they are actually deaf to the care of God. The sting gets even greater when God announces that He is going to use the pagan king of Cyrus to deliver them from the captivity of Babylon and bring them back to Jerusalem. This was not the kind of deliverance that they expected. They would still be under a pagan ruler. Their deliver was not from the line of David. What kind of good news was this?
As we look briefly at this scenario tonight, I think you will see that:

God Surprises us with His ways

It is easy to resist His unexpected ways
God reveals his methods
Cyrus my shepherd and my anointed (Isaiah 44:28-45:1)
Isaiah 44:28–45:1 NKJV
Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.” ’ “Thus says the Lord to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held— To subdue nations before him And loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut:
He will use a pagan king to rescue his people, but all nations will one day come and worship the God of Israel. (Isaiah 45:14)
Isaiah 45:14 NKJV
Thus says the Lord: “The labor of Egypt and merchandise of Cush And of the Sabeans, men of stature, Shall come over to you, and they shall be yours; They shall walk behind you, They shall come over in chains; And they shall bow down to you. They will make supplication to you, saying, ‘Surely God is in you, And there is no other; There is no other God.’ ”
God is transcendent above man. He does not work withing their boundaries (Is. 45:15)
Isaiah 45:15 NKJV
Truly You are God, who hide Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior!
Israel responds with questions of God’s forgetfulness, challenges to His authority, and rebellion toward His care
Isaiah 46:8–9 NKJV
“Remember this, and show yourselves men; Recall to mind, O you transgressors. Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,
Isaiah 46:12–13 NKJV
“Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted, Who are far from righteousness: I bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off; My salvation shall not linger. And I will place salvation in Zion, For Israel My glory.
Go back and contemplate what perspective was blinding Henry before he walked into the house. Things weren’t lining up with his timing. His wife was not using the day well. He was operating from a deserving mindset.
God’s ways are to grand to fit inside our small thinking, but that must be a call to trust not accuse.
What are God’s unexpected ways in our life?
He calls us to gain life by losing it
He calls us to freedom by subjecting ourselves to Him.
Listen in on a speech that Chief Justice John Roberts gave at his son’s ninth grade graduation.
“Now, the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you,” he said. “I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.”
Transition: When things don’t fit into our way of thinking, we must remember that God's surprising ways are not disconnected from His revealed character or saving history. We can now add

Though God surprises us with His ways, we should really not be surprised.

Think back to Henry. He was irritated with His wife the first part of the day, but as he was standing in the house with all his friends and his wife by his side, it was probably fairly easy to start interpreting the events of the last week.
“That’s why she was up late the last three nights”
“She’s never forgotten one of my birthdays, she was just setting me up for the surprise.”
Transition: Though there is much about our transcendent God that we do not understand, He has revealed plenty to show how He has acted and will act. We will be able to say: “I couldn’t have guessed it, but it doesn’t surprise me.”
In this declaration concerning Cyrus, God makes very clear purposes that He is about doing. Let consider a couple of those purposes

He acts so you will see His uniqueness rather than Your ability.

Through the inability of kings to stand before Cyrus, overcoming of obstacles, and the discovery of hidden treasures God intended for Cyrus to see that He is the One who called him to the task. It is the the God of Israel alone who does such a thing. God gives opportunity for Cyrus to turn to Him. He doesn’t need Cyrus permission however, He will direct Him whether He submits or not
He acts for His chosen nation. They cannot claim that their status earned His favor.
He acts so the world may see that there is no one besides God.
Isaiah 45:1–6 NKJV
“Thus says the Lord to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held— To subdue nations before him And loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut: ‘I will go before you And make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze And cut the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant’s sake, And Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me, That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting That there is none besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other;
Transition: In a different setting of comparison with Babylon’s gods, God is once again showing his unique ability in comparison to human effort. Look at Isaiah 46:1-4
He shows us that relying on our efforts only add more burden. There is only one who carries you.
Isaiah 46:1–4 NKJV
Bel bows down, Nebo stoops; Their idols were on the beasts and on the cattle. Your carriages were heavily loaded, A burden to the weary beast. They stoop, they bow down together; They could not deliver the burden, But have themselves gone into captivity. “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, Who have been upheld by Me from birth, Who have been carried from the womb: Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.
Transition: It is fun to watch a kid who sits behind a steering wheel and makes all the noises of of driving somewhere. It would be sad if at 15 he is still doing the same thing. God graciously makes known that our ability gets us no where, but He doesn’t just show us our inability...

He creates you in a world of purpose and shows you how to live in that world

Illustration of kids asking parent: “Where are we going?” It doesn’t matter what the parent says, the child has determined that it has no point because it doesn’t line up with what he wants.
Isaiah 45:18-19
Isaiah 45:18–19 NKJV
For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, In a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in vain’; I, the Lord, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.
Consider one final characteristic of God’s known ways. In considering this final characteristic, see if you can picture this scene and fill in the rest of the sentence. “Come on little one jump, Daddy ___________.” As dad is treading water, he usually follows up with some important statements about his record of never dropping the child. He is calling the child to a scary step, but calling him to something so much more secure. So with God.

He reveals His righteousness and calls you to abandon yours

All other gods cannot save. They fail the worshiper and leave him in shame.
There is only one God and He is a saving God; therefore salvation is only in Him.
His invitation is simple- Look. It is to all
It is a call to abandon one’s own way of being made right with God. It is turning from your thinking that you know what is best.
That abandonment leads to right standing before God and the strength to live in the relationship with Him. They then glory in Him rather than themselves.
Isaiah 45:22-25
Isaiah 45:22–25 NKJV
“Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, And shall not return, That to Me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall take an oath. He shall say, ‘Surely in the Lord I have righteousness and strength. To Him men shall come, And all shall be ashamed Who are incensed against Him. In the Lord all the descendants of Israel Shall be justified, and shall glory.’ ”
The only thing that keeps people from God’s saving purpose is their stubbornness. Idolaters fashion something that looks glorious and end up ashamed. Submission to the true God brings glory to the people of God.
Isaiah 46:12–13 NKJV
“Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted, Who are far from righteousness: I bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off; My salvation shall not linger. And I will place salvation in Zion, For Israel My glory.
This points to our Christ. Those who go about seeking to establish their own righteousness, do not submit to the righteousness of Christ. To those who look to their own effort, God has revealed that He is the only God that can save and He has made the only provision. Turning to his means of salvation is declaring that He alone is God and you are not.
To those in Christ, there is a continual look to Christ and away from your resources. Christ is the author and the finisher of your faith.
May I call us to consider God’s sure and surprising ways when we say or think :This is working out exactly as I planned, or conversely “This is such a waste or a nuisance.” Turn to Christ who did not consider the cross that was before him a waste. He looked to the joy before Him. Turn to Christ who intent on “I must be about my Father’s business.”
Consider what happens when you submit to the surprising but sure ways of your one and only God who saves. Things you would view as waste or blessing turn into great opportunities to see your God at work.
It happened at a Cracker Barrel, of all places. As the security camera shows, Dailey (Army Seargant) entered the restaurant on Feb. 7 for an early lunch. At about the same time, 8-year-old Myles Eckert came in with his family.
Myles was very excited. He'd just found a $20 bill in the parking lot. He'd started thinking of what he could spend it on.
"I kind of wanted to get a video game, but then I decided not to," Myles says.
He changed his mind when he saw the guy in uniform.
"Because he was a soldier, and soldiers remind me of my dad," Myles explains.
And so, with his dad in mind, Myles wrapped the $20 in a note that read, "Dear Soldier -- my dad was a soldier. He's in heaven now. I found this 20 dollars in the parking lot when we got here. We like to pay it forward in my family. It's your lucky day! Thank you for your service. Myles Eckert, a gold star kid."
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