This is the 2nd of the 3 Wake Up calls in this section of Isaiah.
THE PROCESS OF DELIVERANCE INVOLVES EMBRACING THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD –
DIVINE DELIVERANCE FOLLOWS DIVINE DISCIPLINE
Before the new technology of alarms on our cell phones, when we would stay overnight in a motel, most of us probably took advantage of their wake up call service in the morning. You could always use the radio alarm clock in the room – but you just weren’t convinced of its reliability … so at least for myself I would put in that request for a wake up call at a certain time in the morning. If you were enjoying a good, sound sleep there was nothing more jarring than the ringing of that phone in the darkness of the motel room.
We have arrived at a section in the prophecy of Isaiah that is structured around 3 WAKE UP CALLS: 51:9; 17; 52:1
[follows directly after the 3 Calls to Pay Attention – Listen to God’s Word of Encouragement About the Past, Future and Present]
The first is addressed to the Lord Himself; the other 2 are addressed to the people of God – designated as Jerusalem and Zion. In each case the outline is the same:
- Call to Action
- Comforting Response from the Lord
Oswalt: Thus the thread of thought in the three segments is from question to affirmation: Will God, can God, really deliver us from our enemies (51:9-16); it is the enemies who will suffer now, not you (51:17-23); yes, God has delivered us from our enemies (52:1-12).
The tone is one of gentle and gracious encouragement from the Lord. We are building up to the great climax of that most famous chapter in the book of Isaiah – Chap. 53 which clearly describes the work of redemption by God’s Servant/Messiah – who came to suffer on our behalf and bear in his own body the punishment for our sins so that we could enjoy the blessings of God
God goes to great lengths to get our attention. He wants to communicate to us His plans for the future. He wants us to patiently trust Him and rely on His faithfulness to His promises despite the bleakness of our present circumstances. He does not want us to be paralyzed by fear. Here God calls on His people 3 times to pay close attention and listen to His encouragement regarding the future.
I always like the song “The Voice of Truth”
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
And the voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth
Book heading toward a major climax – lots of imperatives used in this section; some of the commands in the more intensive doubled form; references back to earlier sections in the prophecy – building to a climax
Oswalt: there is more reason to see vv. 1-8 as a unit separate from what follows than there is to see it as united with what follows (in particular, the thrice-repeated command by God to listen; the repeated emphasis on righteousness and salvation; and the identification of the hearers as those who are seeking God).
Young: God had called Abraham with the understanding that he would bless him. This He has indeed done, in that the nation of Israel has sprung from Abraham; but the epitome of blessing and increase is yet to come. Thus, comfort and encouragement are given to those despairing ones who hear the words of the promise. The ancient promise looks forward to its most glorious fulfillment: God will bless Abraham and multiply him in bringing blessing and increase to his descendants.
Motyer: the three oracles [strophes] form a sequence. The first (1-3) makes promises to Zion, but promises which, with their Abrahamic and Edenic orientations, have implications wider than Zion. The second (4-6) reveals the true extent of the promises, they are for the world; and the third (7-8) asserts that no power can prevent the Lord’s righteous and saving purposes from being fulfilled. All three sections have in common the topic of “righteousness.”
Common 3-part Outline used by many commentators (Wiersbe, etc.):
Look Back / Look Forward / Look Within
Next sections: “Awake” (v. 51:9, 17, 52:1, 11 “Depart”)
PRESENT PRESSURES MUST NOT DISTRACT US FROM LISTENING TO GOD’S WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT REGARDING THE CONSUMMATION OF SALVATION AND RIGHTEOUSNESS
Our daughter Jenny worships at Capitol Hill Baptist Church – one of their key ministries is
9 Marks of a Healthy Church : might be helpful to review them – check out their website
II. Biblical Theology
III. The Gospel
Important to check up our church and see how we are doing in each of these areas
Focusing in on the area of Discipleship this morning from Isaiah 50
Motyer: The third Servant Song (4-9) is autobiographical like the second, but unlike both its predecessors it contains no reference to the Servant. It is the attached comment (10-11) that reveals who the speaker was. . . contradistinction moving from verses 1-3 to verse 4 . . . There is no single parallel or identity between the Servant and Zion; they are the many, he is the one. The distinction between them has become a gulf.
Also 42:1-9 – Successful mission of the Servant – bringing Justice on earth;
49:1-6 – God’s Secret Weapon Unveiled – strength, scope and success of His mission; 52:13-53:12)
Marks of an Obedient Servant / Disciple – what does the ideal Servant of the Lord look like? The Messiah is actually our Model for being a faithful Disciple – Do you want to know what true Christian discipleship looks like? Look at the earthly walk of the Master!
Business training: importance of mentoring – spend time with someone who has the traits you admire
FOLLOW THE LIGHTHOUSE OF GOD’S INSTRUCTION OR TORCH YOURSELVES –
THE VICTORIOUS SERVANT/DISCIPLE HAS GOD AS HIS HELPER IN EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION AND PERSEVERING COMMITMENT
Stories of abandonment tug at our hearts. We might hear in the news of some poor newborn child that has been abandoned by its mother and found in some isolated spot. Our culture has trivialized abandonment when it comes to marriage vows – today a spouse can forsake their covenant partner and obtain a divorce whenever they please. I hate the radio commercial for the law firm Cordell & Cordell that pledges to help men in securing their assets during divorce proceedings – their slogan: “A partner men can count on!”
Illustration: During WWII six Navy pilots left their aircraft carrier on a mission. After searching the seas for enemy submarines, they tried to return to their ship shortly after dark. But the captain had ordered a blackout of all lights on the ship. Over and over the frantic pilots radioed, asking for just one light so they could see to land. But the pilots were told that the blackout could not be lifted. After several appeals and denials of their request, the ship’s operator turned the switch to break radio contact–and the pilots were forced to ditch in the ocean.
Talk about a feeling of hopelessness and despair
People can have a lot of fear and anxiety regarding the possibility of spiritual abandonment.
They look at their difficult circumstances and wonder if God has forgotten them and forsaken them. The southern kingdom of Israel, the people of Jerusalem – the city of Zion, found themselves in that position on a number of occasions throughout their history. During the Babylonian Captivity they will be tempted to imagine that the Lord is finished with them. As the end times approach and God brings in His harvest from among the Gentiles, the nation may be tempted to think that God has written off His people Israel forever. This account from Isaiah provides the Lord’s response to the insecurities and fears and anxieties of His people.
THE LORD GOD IS A PARTNER BELIEVERS CAN COUNT ON TO NEVER LEAVE US OR FORSAKE US
The nature of Progressive Revelation (God making His plans known over time in an increasingly detailed manner) means that God doesn’t lay all of his cards face-up on the table from day one. That should be no surprise to those who have studied God’s Word for any length of time. Think of all of the prophecies that we have seen just in the book of Isaiah. Think of the concept of mysteries – truths previously not disclosed by God in the OT but now revealed in the NT for our benefit.
In our passage for today we see the unveiling of God’s Secret Weapon.
We are in the second of 4 servant songs:
42:1-9 Servant Song #1 – Justice on Earth is Coming
49:1-13 – today’s passage
Oswalt: In subtle but nevertheless clear ways the focus has shifted from the physical captivity of the Judeans to the moral and spiritual captivity of Israel and the whole world.
GOD’S SERVANT-KING WILL SUCCEED IN HIS MISSION OF BLESSING ISRAEL AND BRINGING LIGHT TO A LOST WORLD
- STRENGTH FOR HIS MISSION
- SCOPE OF HIS MISSION
- SUCCESS OF HIS MISSION
As parents we have all experienced situations where are exhortations to our children fell on deaf ears. We might repeat the same warning over and over but there is no response. Teachers in the classroom can testify to the same frustration. They might as well be speaking to the wall. Sometimes people just don’t seem to have ears to hear. That was certainly the case for God’s people back in the days of Isaiah. They could be characterized as Hearing Deficient. Chap. 48 concludes this first of 3 sections in the final 27 chapters of Isaiah. [this section began in Chap. 40] Each section ends with a similar warning to those in Israel who remain stubborn in their refusal to turn from their rebellion and trust fully and only in their God: “’There is no peace for the wicked’ says the Lord.” (57:21; 66:24)
Look at how often words associated with hearing and listening and paying attention are used in Chap. 48. Isaiah is trying to grab the nation by the throat and shake them and tell them to wake up and pay attention to God’s Message before it is too late. Remember how the Lord Jesus characterized His disciples on many occasions as being hearing deficient. Sadly the same can be said of all of us at certain times in our spiritual journey. Hopefully this message will help clean the wax out of our ears and open up the auditory passageway to receive God’s message of truth.
THE HEARING DEFICIENT WILL NEVER EXPERIENCE PEACE AND PROSPERITY UNTIL THEY HAVE EARS TO HEAR –
4 KEYS TO SPIRITUAL LISTENING
Scripture teaches that God is the one who raises up world powers and God is the one who brings them low. We have seen this worked out in history time and time again. Here we come to the example of the Divine Humiliation of Babylon. If ever there was a nation that thought it was autonomous and all powerful and beyond the reach of any conqueror, it was the nation of Babylon (present day Iraq). Yet the Book of Daniel records the suddenness of its fall at the hands of Cyrus, king of Persia. Daniel 5 – maxim = Pride goes before a Fall
What does this teach us about the mighty nation of the United States of America today? Our leaders would be foolish to imagine that they ascended to power on the basis of their own strength and wisdom. Likewise, our leaders would be foolish to imagine that the United States will not be held accountable before God for its pride and wickedness and false delusion of self sufficiency. No nation has the power to perpetuate itself forever. Pride still goes before a fall and the Lord is still in the business of raising up and bringing low as He sees fit.
FALSE RELIGIONS CANNOT DELIVER EVEN THE MOST POWERFUL OF NATIONS FROM THE HUMILIATION OF DIVINE VENGEANCE FOR ARROGANT PRIDE AND WICKED BEHAVIOR
So largely this is a chapter of judgment; but there is an important sub theme here as well – that of the Lord’s protection of His elect people
Some heavily promoted fights end up being huge mismatches. I didn’t stay up to watch the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout (couldn’t afford it anyway and Karen would have been disgusted with me) but I hear it ended up fairly one-sided. Both fighters are expected to make well over $100 million from the welterweight unification bout with 60 percent of the purse going to Mayweather and Pacquiao collecting the other 40 percent. A limited number of tickets in the over 16,00 seat arena —maybe only 500 – were made available to the general public — priced as high as $7,500 with the cheapest going for $1,500. At StubHub, a secondary ticket seller, a seat on the MGM Grand floor was listed at $128,706 Friday morning and the cheapest upper-deck seat was priced at $5,826.This fight was a pretty bid deal!
When the true God enters into conflict with the false gods of Babylon – No Contest. Talk about an undefeated record. Nobody can compare to the only true God – the God of Israel. That is the message that Isaiah has been trumpeting as he prepares God’s people to withstand the pressure of being corrupted by false gods when they are in bondage in Babylon. They need assurance that their God is able to judge their enemies and ultimately deliver them.
Where do you look for relief from the burdens of this life? Where do you find your fulfillment and your value system? Whose agenda are you pursuing with your time and your talents? When times get rocky, where is your anchor and solid foundation? False religions and the allure of idols can make a lot of promises about happiness and prosperity and pleasure and future bliss, but:
ONLY THE TRUE GOD CAN CARRY HIS PEOPLE AND DELIVER ON THE PROMISE OF SALVATION
I. (:1-4) FUNDAMENTAL CONTRAST
II. (:5-7) FUTILE COMPARISON
III. (:8-11) SOVEREIGN PURPOSE
IV. (:12-13) SALVATION PROMISE
Brian Borgman has some good material on this passage …
Our culture of pluralism with its naïve foundational tenet of tolerance for all religions finds the Christian doctrine of an exclusive gospel to be absolutely repugnant. How can you say that there is only one way to God . . . or even that your concept of God is the only correct one? Yet didn’t Christ Himself testify: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by Me.” Sounds pretty narrow to me … and that should be expected if there is one true God and He is the one who dictates the pathway of salvation.
Our passage in Isaiah 45 today hammers away again at some of the common themes that have been recurring throughout the book –
- God declares that He is the Lord and there is none else
- God presents Himself as the absolute Sovereign of the universe since He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things
- God presents Himself as the only Savior of men – the Savior not only of the Jews but of the Gentiles as well … if they will but turn and look to Him alone for salvation
THE UNIQUENESS OF GOD DETERMINES THE EXCLUSIVITY OF SALVATION
Two sections – each begins with the same announcement formula: “Thus says the Lord”