3/31/2015

Refusing to Rest and to Rely on God (Isaiah 28-29)

Isaiah 28:1-29; 12, 16

"God has told his people, 'Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.' But they would not listen" (Isa 28:12, NLT). "So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic'" (Isa 28:16, NIV). "Therefore the Lord God said: 'Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable'" (Isa 28:16, HCSB).

Why is "woe" pronounced on God's people, Ephraim [northern Israel] (Isa 28:1) and Ariel [Jerusalem] (Isa 29:1)? It is because they were:
  1. Remaining in pride (28:1-6).
  2. Rejecting rest in God and his word (28:7-13).
  3. Refusing to rely on God (28:14-22).
  4. Resisting instruction (28:23-29).
  5. Relying on ritualism and politics and hiding their plans from God (29:1-24).

References:
  1. We Reject God's Sure Foundation by Our Faulty Reliance on Man (Isaiah 28). My daily bread from Dec 2010.
  2. Empty Ritualism, Clandestine Politics (Isaiah 29:13,15). My daily bread from Dec 2010.
  3. Motyer, J Alec. Isaiah. The first woe: The word of God and the purposes of God (28:1-29).
    • Samaria: a surprising hope (1-6).
    • Jerusalem: the inescapable word (7-22).
    • The discriminating Lord (23-29).
  4. Webb, Barry G. The Message of Isaiah. Foolish leaders and false counsel (28:1-29; 29:1-24).
    • The drunkards of Ephraim (28:1-13). Too proud to listen to God and his Word.
    • The covenant with death (28:14-22). Determined to depend on Egypt.
    • The parable of the farmer (28:23-29). Insistent on being stupid.
    • Fire in the fireplace (29:1-24). Depending on politics, the real world and human wisdom, rather than God.

3/30/2015

Human Schemes and God's Plans (Isaiah 28-35)

Isaiah 28-35; 28:16; 30:18; 31:1; 33:17

"So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic'" (Isa 28:16, NIV). "Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you..." (Isa 30:18a). "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord" (Isa 31:1, NIV; Ps 20:7). "Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar" (Isa 33:17, NIV).

Whom will you trust and rely on? Isa 26:4 says, "Trust in Lord Forever." The key issue in Isaiah 28-35 (and one of the key themes of the entire book of Isaiah) is whether Judah--in particular its leaders--will rely on Egypt or on the Lord in the face of the growing threat posed by the ever-increasing power of Assyria. This is immediately before the account of Sennacherib's invasion of Judah in Isaiah 36-37. This invasion was a punitive action taken by Sennacherib in response to a revolt led by Hezekiah (Isa 37:9ff). He had refused to pay any further tribute to Assyria and had annexed the Philistine cities as far south as Gaza which, like Judah, had been part of the Assyrian empire (2 Ki 18:7-8). Chs. 28-35 show how strongly and consistently Isaiah had opposed the foolish counsel of those at court who counseled Hezekiah to rely on Egypt, as the crisis deepened leading up to the events recorded in ch. 36-37. Isaiah 30-31, which stand more or less centrally within the unit (chs. 28-35), are wholly taken up with this issue, as pointedly and succinctly pointed out in Isa 31:1.

3/29/2015

Trust in the Lord Forever (Isaiah 24-27)

Isaiah 24-27

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal" (Isa 26:3-4, NIV). "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock" (Isa 26:3-4, NLT).

Trust in the Lord (Isa 26:4)--which results in perfect peace (Isa 26:3)--is the practical challenge that Isaiah lays down for God's people throughout the entire book (Isa 7:9; 10:20; 12:2; 30:15; 31:1; 32:17; 36:15; 42:17; 50:10; 57:13).
  • "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all" (Isa 7:9b, NIV).
  • "In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel" (Isa 10:20, NIV).
  • "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation" (Isa 12:2, NIV).

3/28/2015

But You Did Not Look To God (Isaiah 22-23)

Isaiah 22:1-15, 11; 23:1-18

"The Lord stripped away the defenses of Judah, and you looked in that day to the weapons in the Palace of the Forest.You saw that the walls of the City of David were broken through in many places; you stored up water in the Lower Pool.10 You counted the buildings in Jerusalem and tore down houses to strengthen the wall. 11 You built a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the Old Pool, but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago. But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! 'Let us eat and drink,' you say, 'for tomorrow we die!' 14 The Lord Almighty has revealed this in my hearing: 'Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for,' says the Lord, the Lord Almighty" (Isa 22:8-14, NIV).

Theme: Where do you find your security? The charge against Jerusalem is her self-sufficiency (Isa 22:8-11). In Isaiah 22, when the city (1-14), individual (15-19) and family (20-25) become self-sufficient, they have committed the unforgivable sin (Isa 22:14).

3/27/2015

You Have Forgotten God Your Savior (Isaiah 17-21)

Isaiah 17-21; Key Verses: Isa 17:7-8, 10-11

"In that day people will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands, and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles and the incense altars their fingers have made" (Isa 17:7-8, NIV).

"
You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though you set out the finest plants and plant imported vines, 11 though on the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud, yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain" (Isa 17:10-11).
Theme: Idolatry causes us to depend and rely on our idols for our human security, and thus we forget that only God can be our Savior (Isa 17:10-11; 31:1; Ps 20:7; 118:8-9). Repentance involves turning away from our idols and turning to God (Isa 17:7-8).

3/26/2015

Pride Rejects God's Gracious Promises of Salvation (Isaiah 15-16)

Isaiah 16:1-14; 4b-5

"Make up your mind," Moab says. "Render a decision. Make your shadow like night—at high noon. Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees.Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer." The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land.In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it—one from the house of David—one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness. We have heard of Moab's pride—how great is her arrogance!—of her conceit, her pride and her insolence; but her boasts are empty
(Isa 16:3-6).

Theme: Despite God's gracious offer of justice and righteousness, pride rejects it.

3/25/2015

What Happens to You After You Die (Isaiah 14): The Destiny of the Arrogant

Isaiah 14:9-21; 12

"How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!" (Isa 14:12, NIV)

What happens to you after you die? What happened to the king of Babylon after he died? By extrapolation and inference, could we not say that this is how Isaiah explains what happens to all people after they die? If anyone is proud or arrogant, oppressive, violent, cruel or unjust like the king of Babylon, will this not be what will happen? Let us draw this out from Isa 14:9-21:

3/24/2015

How You Have Fallen (Isaiah 13-14)

Isaiah 13-14 (Isa 13:1-19; 14:1-2, 9-17, 22, 24-27)

"I, the Lord, will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their sin. I will crush the arrogance of the proud and humble the pride of the mighty" (Isa 13:11, NLT). "How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!" (Isa 14:12)

Theme: God, who is sovereign over all, will triumph over the self-sufficient, the proud and the arrogant; they will be humbled and brought low.

3/23/2015

The Whole World in His Hands (Isaiah 13-27)

Isaiah 13-27; 13:11; 26:3

"I, the Lord, will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their sin. I will crush the arrogance of the proud and humble the pride of the mighty" (Isa 13:11, NLT). "You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You" (Isa 26:3, HCSB).

2 part outline of Isaiah (4+3=7 parts):
  1. Judgment (1-39): Assyrian period. God is the Holy One of Israel.
    1. The Lord is King (1-12). Prophesies concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
    2. Lord of the nations (13-27). The whole world in his hand. Prophesies concerning the nations.
    3. Human schemes and God's plans (28-35). The source of true deliverance. God pronounces woe on human alliances. The Lord of history.
    4. In whom shall we trust? (36-39) Good and bad Hezekiah. Historical interlude.

3/22/2015

A Glimpse of Heaven (Isaiah 11-12)

Isaiah 11:1-12:6; 12:2; 11:9

"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation" (Isa 12:2, NIV). "Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord" (Isa 11:9, NLT).

Theme: Despite his people's rebellion, God faithfully keeps his promise to bring forth his salvation.

3/21/2015

Destruction and Deliverance (Isaiah 9-10)

Isaiah 9:8-10:34; 10:21

"A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God" (Isa 10:21, NIV).

3/20/2015

The Dimensions of Love (Ephesians 3:14-21)

Ephesians 3:16-19, 18b "...grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ."

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Eph 3:17b-19, NIV).

Christ's love has many dimensions: width, length, height and depth. No matter how much and how far one knows the love of God, he or she will never get to the end of it. For Christ's love is:
  • wide enough to encompass all mankind.
  • long enough to last for eternity.
  • deep enough to reach the most broken person.
  • high enough to exalt him or her to heaven.

3/19/2015

The First Sermon at West Loop UBF, Jan 6, 2008

Where is Your Vision? (This is the unedited sermon I preached at our first Sun service at West Loop UBF on Jan 6, 2008. I happened to come across this as I was searching through my email.)

"Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint…" (Prov 29:18, NKJV).

The theme of this message is vision. Our key verse, Proverbs 29:18a says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish…" (Prov 29:18, KJV). Why is this? It's because if a man has no vision, he will live as he feels, and he will perish in obscurity. But with a vision, he can face hardships, overcome any difficulties and struggles and even conquer the world. In history, all great men were men of vision who overcame impossible odds. Here are a few stories.

In 1975, at the age of 20, Bill Gates dropped out of college. In 1986 at age 31, he became the richest man in the U.S. How did he do it? He had a vision that every household would have a PC. In those days a computer was slow, huge, costly and impractical. But when he had a vision, he realized his vision. Even a lunatic like Hitler, when he had a vision of a superior German race, was able to shake the world for a brief time in history. Martin Luther King's speech "I have a dream," is mesmerizing. King's vision was that his 4 children will "live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." His vision forever distinguishes King as a great 20th century American hero.

3/18/2015

See The King in His Beauty (Isaiah 9)

Isaiah 9:1-7; 6-7

"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" (Isa 9:6-7, NIV). [Alternate Titles: A Great Light Shines {Webb}; The Royal Hope {Motyer}; The Glory of God's King; The Child with Many Names.]

Theme: Everyone needs a friend and a counselor who is wonderful, strong and stable, fatherly and peaceful.

3/17/2015

Is God Your Sanctuary or Your Judge? (Isaiah 8)

Isaiah 8:1-22; 13

"The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread" (Isa 8:13, NIV). "And he will become a sanctuary..." (Isa 8:14, ESV).
Coram deo, not coram hominibus. Christians are called to live their lives coram deo (before God), rather than coram hominibus (before man). To do so, we must always recognize that our ultimate audience is God. The Bible thus calls us to fear God and not man (Prov 1:7; 9:10; 29:25). But this is a great challenge when our circumstances and what we see and feel make us fear what others think and do. Thus, we must regain Isaiah's perspective: "do not fear" what the world fears (Isa 8:12), but "The Lord Almighty is ... the one you are to fear" (Isa 8:13).

3/16/2015

Trust or Bust (Isaiah 7)

Isaiah 7:1-25; 9b, 14

"Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm" "All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us')" (Isa 7:9b, 14, NLT). [A Call for Faith and the Sign of Immanuel.]
How is your faith? Isaiah 7 is a message that challenges our faith. Is our faith strong enough to see us through crises? Are we secure in our faith? If not, perhaps we do not fully understand the Word of the LORD or the confirming sign He has given.

3/15/2015

Honesty


Some quotes on Conscience, Courage and Honesty posted in July 2014. Here are more verses and quotes on honesty.
  • "An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips" (Prov 24:26, NIV).
  • "An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies" (Prov 12:17, NIV).
  • "An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies" (Prov 14:5, NIV).

3/13/2015

I Saw The Lord (Isaiah 6)

Isaiah 6:1-13; 8

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isa 6:8, NIV)
  1. Despite Your Failures, Let's Meet and Talk (Isaiah 1).
  2. The Ideal and The Reality (Isaiah 2-4).
  3. A Worthless Vineyard (Isaiah 5).
Hearing the voice of God calling you. Isaiah 6 towers like a majestic peak over the surrounding terrain and is clearly of central importance for the message of Isaiah. The theme and the topic of Isaiah 6 is the call of Isaiah. It was his encounter with the Lord that Isaiah's understanding of both God and his own mission was crystallized. It is intimately related to what precedes and what follows.

3/12/2015

A Worthless Vineyard (Isaiah 5)

Isaiah 5:1-30; 1, 7

"
I will sing about the one I love, a song about my loved one's vineyard: The one I love had a vineyard on a very fertile hill" (Isa 5:1, HCSB). "The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress" (Isa 5:7, NIV). [Alternate titles: The Vineyard of the Lord Destroyed; Judah's Sins Condemned; When Grace is Exhausted]

  1. Despite Your Failures, Let's Meet and Talk (Isaiah 1).
  2. The Ideal and The Reality (Isaiah 2-4).

Theme: Despite God's people producing bad stinky fruit resulting in utter darkness, God sings a love song to them.

3/11/2015

The Ideal and The Reality (Isaiah 2-4)

Isaiah 2:1-4:6; 2:2

"In the last days, the mountain of the Lord's house will be the highest of all—the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship" (Isa 2:2, NLT). "In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it" (Isa 2:2, NIV). [Alternate titles could be "Glorious Hope, Painful Reality;" "Hope in the Midst of Judgment."]

Previous sermon: Despite Your Failures, Let's Meet and Talk (Isaiah 1).

Theme: Our glorious hope is that despite our utter sinfulness (Isa 1:4) and even God's people's rottenness (Isa 1:10-15), Isaiah sees a vision of the coming of the kingdom of God.

3/10/2015

Despite Your Failures, Let's Meet and Talk (Isaiah 1)

Isaiah 1:1-31; 18

"Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool" (Isa 1:18, ESV). [Alternate titles: Failure; A Complete Comprehensive Failure; A Call to Repentance.]

Theme: Despite our multitude of failures, God wants to reach out to us, have a conversation with us and restore to us the joy of having an intimate relationship with him.

God is my salvation. Isaiah is often regarded as the apostle Paul of the OT and the Shakespeare of the prophets. Most of Isaiah is written in poetry, not prose. The name Isaiah means "the salvation of the Lord" or "the Lord is salvation" (Isa 12:2). Isaiah is the second most frequent quoted book in the NT. The NT quotes Isaiah 66 times, surpassed only by Psalms (79 times).

There are many ways to outline Isaiah. A simple way is to consider this large prophetic book of 66 chapters in 2 parts:

3/09/2015

Isaiah Outline 2015

Key Verses: Isaiah 6:8; 12:2; 45:22; 48:11; 53:5
  1. Judgment from the Holy One of Israel (1-39): The Assyrian period. Conflict and victory.
  2. Salvation from the grace of the Suffering Servant (40-66): The Babylonian period. Hope in troubled times.

  1. The Holy Judge (1-12).
  2. The Sovereign King (13-39).
  3. The Suffering Servant (40-55).
  4. The Final Conqueror (56-66).


3/08/2015

Orphans and Slaves or Adopted Sons and Daughters

"Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir" (Gal 4:7, NLT).

3/05/2015

Isaiah: God Is My Salvation (Isa 12:2)

Key Verses: Isa 6:8; 12:2; 48:11; 53:5

Isaiah is the St. Paul of the OT and the Shakespeare of the prophets. Isaiah is universally regarded as the greatest OT manuscript written by the greatest OT prophet. In unsurpassed eloquence Isaiah describes the greatness, grace, and glory of God, the virgin birth, dual nature, earthly life, sufferings, and resurrection of the promised Messiah. Isaiah also writes extensively regarding the terrors of the coming judgment and the wonders of the new heaven and the new earth. The nation Israel is one of Isaiah's main themes as he denounces the sin of his people, pronounces future judgment, and announces Israel's restoration.