Isaiah14 Man's Trust_Superstition
Autonomous man: to know the future
Doxology Hymn 23: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord”
Call to worship and Greeting
Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)
Invocation and the Lord’s Prayer
Our gracious and merciful Father,
Great and marvelous are your deeds, O Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.
Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:3-4)
The Lord’s Prayer
Hymn (screen): “We praise You O Father”
Scripture reading: 2Corinthians 6:14-18
Prayer of adoration and Confession of sins
Declaration of pardoning
Hymn no 75: “For God so loved the world” (repeat)
Offering and Dedication
While the Offering is taken up, all (remaining seated) sing) Hymn no 609 “For the fruits of His creation”
Prayer of Intercession:
Bible Reading Old Testament: Isaiah 2:6-14, 22
Hymn 562: “Master, speak for I am listening”
Sermon: “Autonomous man – to know the future”
Dear Brother and Sister,
By now we understand that the message of Isaiah centres on the theme of God’s covenant with his people. He called them out of nothing to be his people. In the beginning they were faithful, but they turned against God and rebelled against his law.
True to God’s faithfulness and righteousness brought upon them his judgment. He promised them restoration, but it demanded repentance and a holy life. He promised them, by the mercy of his covenantal grace that He will not utterly wipe them out; from them a remnant will remain. Out of them the Messiah would be born, and out of his work of complete salvation, the message of salvation and the covenant of grace would flow across the world and the church, now called the nation, or people, or new Jerusalem will be victorious in the Name of the Victor, Jesus Christ unto whom is given all authority in heaven and in earth.
We need to, first of all look at what one would call contextual markers in the chapter. In studying a discourse or a context, one is usually led by the phrases that are repeated. Those of you who are interested in the study of the meaning of words would say that contextual markers are words that operate in the same semantic domain within a given paragraph.
8 If we now study this chapter certain recurring phrases stand out:
a. 8 “the land is full of”. This phrase is repeated four times. So the next few weeks we will study these phrases. 8 It actually constitutes the contents or substance of the rebellion of the Israelites. Man wants to be in control. 8
b. The next major theme in this paragraph is the contrast between “Man” and “God”. 8 Words describing “Importance of Man” on one hand and humiliation on the other hand: “brought low”, “humbled” (:9); “arrogant”, “humbled”, “pride”, “brought low” (:11); “proud and lofty”, “humbled” (;12); “arrogance”, “brought low”, “pride”, humbled” (:17). This is summarised in verse 22:
Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he? (Isaiah 2:22)
c. 8 Words describing splendour and exaltation; “splendour of his majesty” (:10, 19, 21); “the Lord will be exalted” (;11, 17);
d. 8 Words describing fear of retribution: “dread of the Lord”, “The Lord Almighty has a day in store” (:12); “that day”, “totally disappear” (:17); to “rise and shake the earth” (:19, 21)
8 If we sum it up and paraphrase this paragraph of Isaiah 2:6-22 we can put it this way:
8 In his arrogance man wants to cut himself loose from God. He substitutes God with something else in an effort to become his own god.
8 But God will rise up against arrogant man and destroy arrogant man and what he put his trust into.
8 Let us take this lesson from history: Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he? (Isaiah 2:22)
8 Rebellion – the source
To say that God’s people rebelled against Him, is to refer to the over-arching problem. The question now is: What constituted that rebellion. We know by now that Chapter 1 of Isaiah forms an introduction to the rest of the book. Let’s now look at the specifics and then apply it to our lives today.
8 Rebellion: Man wants to be autonomous
· 8 A desire to know his own future
· A desire to secure his own future
· A desire to protect his own future
· A desire to control his own future
8 Today then: the desire of man to know the future.
Autonomous man cannot really be autonomous. Although he wants to be his own god, he very early in his journey alone, substitutes the only true God with something else. Because God knows the future, which is good and enough for the child of God, the Christian is content to know God knows. So-called autonomous man quickly runs for something else to provide that security. He invents gods and is led astray be may-be and so-called gods. This time autonomous man is happy: he finds a god that is under him, a god he can control. And if that is possible, he be in control of his life.
Verse 6 says: “You have forsaken your people, the house of Jacob”, the reason: 8 “They are filled from the east.” The word fill here has in mind a ship so fully laden that there was no room for any thing further. It can, to bring to the fore what the Hebrew wants to state, be paraphrased by, “The nation was filled up with the east.”
8 The problem therefore was a worldview-problem. 8 (Biblical worldview: God provides, God’s thoughts, God’s way, Exportation/mission, Victory). 8 (Non Biblical worldview) God’s people began to share the worldview of the pagans with whom they traded. (8 Economic Rationality). The trade was good for the economy, but along with it, it brought a way of living, 8 a way of thinking, which saturated the thinking processes of God’s people. 8 (neutrality) And instead of them being the Holy City to which the nations were supposed to flood to learn more about the Creator God, the nation of God became the pit into which each of the nations dumped their filthy philosophies and superstitions. 8 (Invasion) Instead of God’s people thinking God’s thoughts after Him, instead if them being filled with the knowledge of God, they found themselves filled with the knowledge of other gods. 8 (Defeat) And before they knew, they were worshipping these gods.
One of God’s prophets once said to king Asa 8 :
“Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 2 Chronicles 15:2
On another occasion the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said:8
“This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey the LORD’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.’” 2 Chronicles 24:20
This is where God’s people found themselves. But how did it happen? The answer lies in the reference “the east”. The nation was filled with what comes from the east, which is always represented as 8 the source of superstitions.
Moses, in his instruction, to the people, even before they entered the Promised Land, while it was still inhabited by godless people, practicing divination, idolatry and superstition and worshipping idols, said:
Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. Exodus 34:12
Their rebellion first of all lied in the fact that Israel, 8 little by little, allowed others in to bring with them their superstitions and idolatry. And the result:
“Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. Exodus 34:15
God, through his prophet Ezekiel reprimanded his people by proclaiming his judgment upon them 8:
And you will know that I am the LORD, for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you.” Ezekiel 11:12
8 Rebellion – the substance
8 Our time will probably know not by the fact that people are a-religious. Quite the opposite is true. Our time is a time of great religious awakening. People all of a sudden became interested in religion. You only need to wander up the down the isles of open-air markets to see what I mean by that. Every second stall wants to tell you something about the stars, palm reading, life on other planets, etc. But what alarms my most is the influx of exactly the cause of Israel’s downfall: the interest in eastern philosophies. Interest in Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism are growing. With it comes the necessary outworking in beliefs of environmentalism and pacifism. People have themselves tattooed, bangled, studded. They begin to show the outward appearance of believers of what these religions have on offer. They begin to follow certain diets, certain exercises, meditations and philosophies. With that comes crystals, pyramids, etc.
8 But what about the old-time superstition? Black cats, no 13’s, broken mirrors, etc.
Verse 6 refers to “soothsayers like the Philistines”. Soothsayers, what were they? Another word is divination.
Divination is roughly the attempt to discern events that are distant in time or space, and that consequently cannot be perceived by normal means. God’s people are forbidden to use divination and enchantments as the pagan world did.
Lev 19:26 commands: “Do not practice divination or sorcery.” In another passage we read:
Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God. The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so. (Deuteronomy 18:9-14)
2Kings 17:17 declares that people practicing these things have sold themselves to evil in the eyes of the Lord.
The following forms are mentioned in the Bible.
· 8 Rhabdomancy. Ezk. 21:21. Sticks or arrows were thrown into the air, and omens were deduced from their position when they fell. Ho. 4:12 could also be a reference to this.
· 8 Hepatoscopy. Ezk. 21:21. Examination of the liver or other entrails of a sacrifice was supposed to give guidance. Probably shapes and markings were classified, and the priest interpreted them.
· 8 Necromancy, or the consultation of the departed. This is associated with divination in Dt. 18:11; 1 Sa. 28:8; 2 Ki. 21:6, and is condemned in the Law (Lv. 19:31; 20:6), the Prophets (Is. 8:19–20) and the historical books (1 Ch. 10:13). The medium was spoken of as having ‘a familiar spirit’, or in modern terms ‘a control’. An associated term, which presumably refers to the supernatural knowledge, claimed by the spirit and in a secondary sense by its owner.
· 8 Astrology draws conclusions from the position of the sun, moon and planets in relation to the zodiac and to one another (Is. 47:13 and Je. 10:2
· 8 Hydromancy, or divination through water. Or the old tea leaves in the cup? Here forms and pictures appear in the water in a bowl, as also in crystal-gazing. The gleam of the water induces a state of light trance, and the visions are subjective.
· Lots or lottos . The discovery of a lucky day by Haman (Est. 3:7).
· Dreams are often counted as a means of divination, but in the Bible there is no instance of a person’s deliberately asking for guidance or supernatural knowledge through dreams, except perhaps the false prophets in Je. 23:25–27. The spontaneous dream, however, is often a means of divine guidance.
It is important for the NT church to take heed of these things, even in our day. And specially on this day, the day of Holy Communion. Why?
Paul in 2Cor 6 warns:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?8 For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-17
Our God is a jealous God. He is holy, and demands our life and our trust. He knows the future. Your life is in his hands. Amen.