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Have you Heard about the LORD’s Arm?

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Isaiah 53:1 (NIV, emphasis added): Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

This passage is renouwned, due to accuracy and controvery
Don’t Fight; You Don’t Have What it Takes, to Take on Sin
I saiah was commissioned to a ministry of failure, calling a nation to repentance which would not repent—because they could not repent.
---> Isaiah realizes early on that that he is contending against a SIN problem, and not a mere BEHAVIORAL problem.
In Isaiah 5, the prophet accounces six woes (5:8, 11, 18, 20, 21, 22) against Judah. In Hebrew “woe” is onomotopaeia for mourning cries. In other words, Isaiah is announcing that Judah is going to die in judgement due to their bad behavior.
Then in Isaiah 6, the prophet finds himself directly in the presence of the LORD. Confronted with His holiness, Isaiah realizes that the problem is much deeper than behavior. He suddenly notices his own deep sinfulness and pronounces a 7th woe upon himself (6:5)
He suddenly notices that despite his former idea that he was ok, while they were rebels, that he is also part of the problem. His behavior may have been in some sense superior to theirs, but in light of God’s holiness, he too was in deep, deep trouble.
Bad Behavior vs. Sin
BB is an effect; but S. is the cause
BB is an acute symptom; but S. is the deadly disease
BB can sometimes be limitedly modifed; but S. always does the modifying
BB is subjective and situational; S is concrete and always wrong
BB is something we do; S is something we are
BB robs us a little; S takes everything
---> When Adam ate the fruit, the lion ate the lamb.
---> Sin costs us even when our own behavior is not bad. Sin is the reason for death, heartbreak, lonliness and sorrow.
---> In Isa. 52:13 the Servant is revealed to be God Himself by the description He is given. Therefore in Isa. 52:14, we see God victorious, but beaten to a bloody pulp when he went to war against sin. If God’s victory came at such a high price, then we have no chance if we try to battle sin in ourselves.
BB can be trained and treated, counseled and cured; S must be executed!
Treating behavior is a bit like trying to root our stage 4 cancer, with a couple aspirin; or cardiac arrest with a bit of ointment and a bandaid. It is sin that must be dealt with and Isaiah hints throughout his text that it is God Himself who must do the dealing!
---> Isa. 6:6-7 —Isaiah pronounces a woe upon Himself, but rather than starting the funeral, God fixes the problem by touching him (through His seraph) with a coal from off the altar of heaven.
---> Isai. 9:7 —promising a bright future for Judah, despite her deep sinfulness, Isaiah explains that “the zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”
---> Isa. 11:6-9 —in a call back to this same promise of a bright future accomplished directly by the LORD, Isaiah essentially describes an “Edenic” world without sin: Isaiah 11:6–9 (NIV): “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
---> Isa. 24:21-23 —the LORD will visit sinful oppression at its source(s) and put these sources to shame.
---> Isa. 25:6-8 —the LORD defeats sin’s heir, Death.
The LORD is looking for a fight; He has a Really Strong Arm
Isaiah 53:1b (NIV): “and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
Make no mistake: the arm of the LORD is his ability to fight!
I’ve heard Pastor Omar say that because he liked to fight before he came to Christ, today he does not enjoy even the thought of fighting. That’s okay, because the message of Scripture and of Isaiah is that in the struggle against sin, we are not the warriors. That task belongs to the LORD alone.
Exodus 15:3 (NIV): “The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name.”
Ps. 18:3-19 describes God embarking on a military operation to rescue David from Saul. The description of the encountes is nothing less than awe-inspiring.
Isaiah 27:1 (NIV): “In that day, the Lord will punish with his sword— his fierce, great and powerful sword— Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea.”
Again, like a champion, the arm of the LORD describes his power to win a fight!
---> Isaiah 40:10 (NIV): “See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him” describes the LORD’s preparedness to deliver Judah from exile.”
--- > Isaiah 51:5 (NIV): “My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.”. Because the problem is a sin problem effecting the entire world, and not only Judah’s behavioral problem, the LORD is coming our swinging to save all the world.
---> Isaiah 51:9–10 (NIV): “Awake, awake, arm of the Lord, clothe yourself with strength! Awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through? Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made a road in the depths of the sea so that the redeemed might cross over?”
---> Isaiah 51:16 (NIV): “I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand—” This is essentially the same analogy, of the LORD’s power to rescue His people.
---> Isaiah 52:10 (NIV): “The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.”. The LORD is essentially rolling up His sleeve, ready to do battle!
---> Isaiah 53:1b (NIV): “and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” The arm of the LORD is identified as the same Servant of the LORD who Isaiah 52:13, looks just like the LORD, because He is the LORD! In the fulness of time this was fulfilled in Jesus!
Can you Believe that He Won the Fight?
Isaiah 53:1a (NIV):” Who has believed our message...”
This is a strange question, and very much ahead of its time.
In an age of law, of doing, Isaiah asks about believing—not what did you do, but can you believe in what he did?
In other words, are you willing to trust that God’s arm defeated sin? (Just like Isaiah Himself earlier had to trust that he was cleansed with the coal from the altar.)
---> John 6:26–29 (NIV): “Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.’
Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’
Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’
Trace the LORD’s arm through these chapters, and invariably you will find nearby in the text that an announcement is made, words are spoken, or that a call to believe is issued.
---> It is as if the prophet is saying, ‘In my decades of ministry I’ve learned that we mere humans are powerless against sin. But the LORD Himself went to war against sin on our behalf, and He won! The battle left him bloodied and bruised, but He won! Now your part is to believe.”
And so I join the prophet Isaiah in asking you today: Do you believe the report? In the midst of heartbreak and pain caused by a world infected with sin, do you believe that the LORD won?
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