We like to think that the United States represents the best country on the earth today. Certainly we enjoy freedoms and a standard of living that compare with the best. We think that our democratic form of government offers the best checks and balances against the corrupting forces of political power. But however patriotic you might be in assessing our country, at best we still exhibit the same type of overall lousy government and upside down social values when compared to the Kingdom of Righteousness that the Messiah will usher in during His Millennial reign.
The problem is that we have strayed too far from the standards and principles revealed in God’s Holy Word. Where is the hunger to know and implement divine truth? Where is the discernment to value what God values and to be totally sold out to knowing and doing His will? We are governed largely by fools and rogues from God’s perspective. In fact God’s ideal government is not a democracy – it is a monarchy with a righteous king who cares about His people enough to lay down His life for their welfare.
Where do we turn for help when we are in danger? Instead of putting confidence in the flesh or seeking the help of sinful men, we need to put all of our dependence in the Lord who alone is the Righteous Judge and the Victorious Warrior. He will conquer all enemies and deliver us in the day of trouble. One day in the future the nation of Israel will repent and turn back to the Lord and experience complete deliverance.
A lot of people today would dismiss any preaching characterized by Fire and Brimstone as too severe. Yet the prophet Isaiah was no stranger to relaying such communication from the mind and heart of God. Of course he was careful to balance such intense descriptions of judgment with open invitations to blessing based on God’s gracious character. But make no mistake. Fire and Brimstone can be appropriate messages in some circumstances.
The world is full of religious frauds. These are folks that profess to be Christians; they claim to love the Lord Jesus Christ; they speak highly of His moral example; they want others to view them as religious and spiritual. They get together in churches on Sunday just as we are doing and listen to messages on Sunday and say a bunch of prayers and even give some money to good causes. But they can’t stomach the hard truths of divine revelation. In our passage today, Isaiah calls these people false sons because they take the name of God as their Father when in reality they refuse to submit to His Word and obey His teachings.
James warns his readers: “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (4:4) Nothing confusing about that warning. Do you really want God as your enemy? Do you want to declare war on God?
Likewise the Jews in Isaiah’s day certainly understood the dangers of forsaking their covenant marriage relationship with Yahweh and returning to trust in the land of Egypt from which they had been delivered. God’s Word could not have been clearer on this crucial point.
Deut. 17:16 “nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’” But what if the pressures mount to the point that they did in Isaiah’s day where the threat of Assyria was so great that they had nowhere to turn? Stand fast and see the salvation of the Lord – slaying 185,000 in one day and sending Sennacherib back to his home base without capturing Jerusalem.
Egypt represents the way of the world = everything that stands in opposition to God’s holiness and His righteous paths. Egypt represents the place of bondage under the yoke of sin; the place from which the precious grace of the Lord Jesus Christ has redeemed us forever. How can Christians forsake their spiritual liberty and return to the yoke of bondage of the world? It doesn’t make any sense, but it happens all of the time.
We should not be surprised at the level of mocking and scoffing that Christians are subjected to today. It is the height of arrogance for the Creature to exalt himself and imagine that he is smarter than his Creator – but such is mindset of those in positions of power today – those in the media, in our universities, in our government. Mocking Christians and God and the Bible has reached new levels of abuse in our society.
It doesn’t take very long for dead religious traditions to replace vibrant biblical convictions. It happens all the time.
- It happens in families as children attend the same worship services as their parents but never experience the internal transformation of being born again by the Spirit of God. They can’t identify with the truth that is proclaimed because it doesn’t resonate with their own experience of just going through the motions of religious activity. Their spiritual eyes are closed.
- It happens in churches as people fall away from the faith and end up perpetuating just a religious carcass of rote tradition. Look at the hypocrisy in the Roman Catholic Church and the parallels to the leaven of the Pharisees in the gospel times. Look at the deadness in the mainline Protestant churches. We drive by their magnificent structures every day and marvel at the apostasy of such churches. The truth is no longer being preached from those pulpits. Look at the void of spiritual life over in Europe where the Great Reformation took shape.
- It happens in educational institutions like universities (Princeton and Yale) and seminaries and social ministry frameworks like the YMCA. Here in Isaiah 29 we see it happening in the very City of God, Jerusalem.
We have studied this entire chapter in context. But this verse deserves special treatment. It is the 2014 Year Verse for Solid Rock Community Church. It speaks to me of the true peace that comes from relying solely on the Rock which God the Father has provided — the promised Messiah — our Lord Jesus Christ. There is much that would unsettle and disturb our hearts in this life; cause us anxiety and fear and concern. But the message which the Jews rejected back in Isaiah’s day was the offer of peace and rest:
He who said to them, “Here is rest, give rest to the weary,” and, “Here is repose,” but they would not listen. Isaiah 28:12
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27
Outward physical circumstances can be so deceiving. The wicked can have that Hollywood glitter attached to them. They look so successful and so beautiful. But inside they are no different than the white washed sepulchers like the Pharisees which Jesus lambasted. That is why we make a huge mistake when we try to wrestle with the age-old question: “Why do the Wicked Prosper?” If you were able to get inside the hearts and minds of the rich and famous who have rejected the rule of God and rely on their own abilities and wisdom – you would find nothing but rottenness and moral failure. That’s just the human condition apart from the righteousness which only the Lord Jesus can supply. God’s judgment will quickly sweep away all superficial aspects of false hope and security.
Is your life built on the sure foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ? As we head into this New Year, let’s examine our life’s foundation. Will your anchor hold in the tumultuous days that lie ahead in the year 2014?
Today we are completing another major section in the prophecy of Isaiah – chapters 24-27 – the Mini Apocalypse that prepares God’s people for worship in the Millennial Kingdom. [unveiling of God’s plan for the future] Ultimately, what God desires from us is not just that we are people of discernment who know Him and understand the times and the outworking of His program in history. He desires a people who love and worship Him in united harmony in accordance with His truth. This section is similar to the Hallelujah Chorus – emphasis on songs of Praise to God.