Sunday, January 22, 2012
Isaiah Chapter 1
Isaiah Chapter 1
- “These are the visions that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. He saw these visions during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah.
Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth! This is what the Lord says: The children I raised and cared for have rebelled against me. Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master's care—but Israel doesn't know its master. My people don't recognize my care for them. Oh, what a sinful nation they are—loaded down with a burden of guilt. They are evil people, corrupt children who have rejected the Lord. They have despised the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on Him.”
- God's children... His chosen people... rejected Him. They refused to acknowledge His voice. They wouldn't acknowledge His authority over them.
- For our youth meeting last night, part of dad's message was on the clay jars holding the lamps in the story of Gideon. The lights were in the clay pots... but in order for the light to shine out, the pots had to be broken. Now when we think of us as people being broken, we think of someone who is beaten down... discouraged... broken-hearted... ready to give up...
- But dad's analogy to go with this story was one of a horse. Breaking a horse, is not seen as being a bad thing. When a horse is broken... he learns to bend to the will of the master. He learns to obey the bit in his mouth... he learns to follow the master's leading.
- Without being broken, we are not useful. Until we bend our will's to the will of God... God can't use us.
- Israel's stubbornness was making them useless. They were turning away from the rule of God... They couldn't see that in wanting to live their own lives, they were condemning themselves to a useless existence.
- A horse that refuses to be broken... may still belong to the master... but he is of no use... and the master cannot build relationship with that animal. Sure he can live a great horse's life... running among the fields... free and unhindered... but... he is without much value.
- Israel was devaluing themselves. They were choosing to live outside the safety of the barn... God would have taken great care of them. He would have given them anything they needed... But instead, they are choosing to turn their fates over to the elements and scrounge for their sustenance elsewhere.
- Because of this, they are loaded down with their guilt. They have become evil and corrupt. They had broken their covenant with God. They had ceased to follow His Word.
- Oh they still followed many of the laws... but not the way God wanted them to. (this comes later in the chapter...)
- Deuteronomy 32:1-47
- Jeremiah 3:1-6:30
- “Why do you continue to invite punishment? Must you rebel forever? Your head is injured, and your heart is sick. You are battered from head to foot—covered with bruises, welts, and infected wounds—without any soothing ointments or bandages. Your country lies in ruins, and your towns are burned. Foreigners plunder your fields before your eyes and destroy everything they see. Beautiful Jerusalem stands abandoned like a watchman's shelter in a vineyard, like a lean-to in a cucumber field after the harvest, like a helpless city under siege. If the Lord of Heaven's Armies had not spared a few of us, we would have been wiped out like Sodom, destroyed like Gomorrah.”
- Because Israel is denying God access and rule over their lives... they are also denying His protection and help. So in doing so... they are inviting punishment to come down upon them. They are rebelling... and rebellion always leads to consequences and punishments.
- Jeremiah 44
- Teaching elementary school... I have seen this so many times lately...
- Earlier in the school year... I had an incident with... “Harry”. I absolutely love this kid. He's a kid that comes from a less than great home life. I don't know all the details... but I know there's some issues there. I've been teaching at this school for 4 years now. Harry is one of my best kids. He loves music and he works hard at it. He's enthusiastic. I know he has some behavior problems... but they always happen in other classes. I've never had to write him up for anything in 4 years. I sit down and talk to him for a minute and we talk about fixing the problem... and he's fine. If it's a problem with another student, we move him away from the student and talk about controlling our anger... Harry has always responded well to this.
- We started recorders this year with Harry's class. At the beginning of the unit they were told that if they played while I was giving instruction that their instrument would be taken away. After every song, they are instructed to place the instrument in their laps so we can talk about the next song and walk through any new concepts together. They get 3 chances. The third time they play during instruction, their instrument gets taken away.
- The first day was a free day. If it was taken away... it was just for the remainder of class. They would get one more try the following week.
- Harry got his taken away. Oh he SCREAMED! He threw a FIT! He was given... way more than his three chances and the last time... I asked him to put his recorder under his chair (for the third time) and he looked at me... and blew on his recorder. So I took it away.
- He walked to the front of the class and sat down to scream and cry... I gave him a choice... he could either calm himself down and sit through the rest of class and we'd talk about giving him his recorder back next class... or he could take a trip to the principal's office... He refused to answer... just continued to scream in my face... so I finally called the office to have someone come get him.
- About the time I called the office... it was like it suddenly dawned on him... that this was bad. This was not a fixable situation at this point.
- I had sat for about 5 minutes with this screaming child trying to convince him that all he had to do was get up, and go back to his seat. If he did that, then he got to start over the next week. But the situation was quickly getting completely out of hand...
- The rest of the class was getting worried... because they saw his unreasonableness. They started trying to convince him to calm down. “Harry... just go sit down... you'll get the instrument back next week...”
- There was a point... while we were waiting on the office to send someone down to get him... that he looked at me... and I saw in his eyes... He WANTED to fix it. He wanted to take it back... but he didn't know how to fix the problem. He didn't know what to do except to scream out his frustrations. And his crying... in that moment... turned from anger... to contrition. But he STILL refused to move. I thought we had almost conquered the storm... when the secretary came in to pick him up... and the moment was over... he just got up and ran out of the room. *sigh*
- The hard part is... I love this kid. And to feel like... over the years we've built such a good trust and relationship... we've worked on issues together and it was like... he was trying to manipulate that relationship in order to get what he wanted... and he'd never tried that with me. He's one of my kids who... I was always surprised when other teachers would tell me that they were having terrible problems with him... because he never gave me any trouble... at least not like this...
- What I got from this whole experience was how God sometimes looks at us...
- We get in these places where we just want to have our own way. We have a choice to either follow the rules... or accept a punishment... But in the case of “Harry”... sometimes... we think if we demand things of God enough times... that He'll eventually give in to us. But it doesn't work that way. God is not a parent who is easily won over with our melodramatic fits. He has standards that will not be compromised.
- God is asking us to get up and turn from our stubbornness... There is a way to fix our rebellion. He offers us free and open forgiveness... He offers a way out of our sin and guilt... we just have to bend to the bit. Even when it seems like we've gone past the point of repentance... God is still willing to save us.
- God is a God of justice. When we make decisions... consequences come. Even if God's heart breaks when He has to allow the consequences... He doesn't always shield us from them... If He did... we'd forever be demanding our right to do whatever we liked without consequences. Sometimes God will shield us from consequences... in the hope that His mercy and grace will convince us to turn from our sin... however... as we see with Israel and Judah... God only kept them from their enemies for so long.
- Soon after Isaiah made this prophesy, Israel was taken into captivity by Assyria. Judah followed about 130 years or so later into captivity to Babylon.
- II Kings 17:5-23
- Isaiah points out all the things that are going on around Israel... the cities lying in ruins... the foreigners plundering everything in sight... they have been beaten down... and you'd THINK that they would start to look for relief... that they would start to realize that they need God to do a work in their lives... however... instead... they just continue to rebel.
- Leviticus 26
- “If the Lord of Heaven's Armies had not spared a few of us, we would have been wiped out like Sodom, destroyed like Gomorrah.”
- Do you remember why Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed?
- Genesis 18:20-21 says: “So t he Lord told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know.”
- In His conversation with Abraham, God agreed not to destroy Sodom if there could be found 10 righteous people in the city...
- But they weren't there... and the cities were destroyed.
- Here Isaiah compares Israel with these infamously sinful cities... This is such a HUGE insult! I mean think about it! Isaiah is calling the chosen children of God out as equal to the most sinful cities in human history.
- “Listen to the Lord, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.”
- When Abraham tried to bargain with God for Sodom... it was because his nephew, Lot, was living there. A city or nation will reflect the kind of leader it has... and there was not a righteous person found in Sodom.
- The leaders of Israel were just as corrupt. They had led the people into idol worship and away from the worship of God.
- One of the first things that Jeroboam did when the northern kingdom split off from Judah was to set up golden calves for the people to worship.
- “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the Lord. I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure form the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting—they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.”
- In Acts 17, there's a story about Paul preaching in Athens... while in Athens, he saw a shrine dedicated to the unknown god. They were covering all the bases... they had all these gods to appease... but just in case there was one they didn't know about... they decided to pray to that one as well...
- Israel was kind of doing the same thing. They were worshiping all these idols... but they wanted to smooth things over with God as well. So they continued to bring their sacrifices and observe all the festivals etc. hoping to keep Him happy without actually having to commit to anything. But that's not what God wants from His people.
- Again it's like that horse that needs to be broken... we might be His people... but we have to learn to allow the Master to lead us where He wants us to go in order to be useful... And if we're not useful... well...
- In Revelation 3:15-16 says: “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”
- Something that is cold is refreshing. It soothes, it restores, it awakens. Something that is hot is healing. It restores and builds up.
- If we are neither refreshing in our walk nor healing towards others... what good are we? He goes on in that section to say that He sees all that we do and say... and that we don't realize our true need. He asks in verse 19 that we turn from our indifference.
- God doesn't want apathetic followers. Nor does He want haphazard or accidental faith.
- Israel was going through the motions. They were offering up tainted sacrifices from hearts that were bent on wickedness and sin. God was disgusted with their religion.
- Have you ever met someone like that? Or been like that yourself? So caught up in what songs you sing or the liturgical order of things that you leave God out of the church equation?
- I grew up in a church that just kinda had church until they felt like it was time to go home. There was no set end time...
- So now... to go to a church where they watch the clock, or get upset with the pastor for going over his set half hour... it's like... seriously? You're going to limit God to a time schedule?
- Sure... I don't want to sit there all day for nothing... but if God is moving and it's a message worth hearing... what's wrong with sitting a little longer?
- We can get so caught up in what is or isn't holy... or socially acceptable... that we lose sight of why we're really there.
- There's a song by Matt Redman called “Heart of Worship.” The chorus says “I'm coming back to the heart of worship and it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus. I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it, when it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus.”
- Our worship is about Jesus. It's not about what song we're singing... or how well we sing... or if we do or don't play an instrument. It's about communication with our God. It's about letting God speak to our hearts and letting Him touch something in us.
- Israel had made worship about themselves. They still observed their fast days... which were supposed to be a day of drawing near to God... except... now they were just fasting in order to look righteous. It wasn't because they wanted to... it was just a social practice.
- Christ rebuked the Pharisees in Matthew 6 when He told His followers to not be “like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don't be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!”
- God doesn't care how flashy you are. He doesn't care how proper or holy you seem when you're in public places. He cares about your heart. He wants to know that your heart belongs to Him.
- A husband and wife are not going to care so much about what kind of relationship they present to the public, if their home life is a terrible one. A married couple who fight all the time, who have no respect for one another... are not going to automatically slip into being a very loving, passionate couple in public... it's not going to be natural... and it's not going to feel quite right. And someone who knows them well... will know that something is wrong.
- God doesn't want our lip service. He wants our hearts and our devotion. He wants a vessel He can use to spread His light... not one that wants to run around care-free with no thought of anyone but themselves.
- “Wash your hands and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”
Allow the Lord to break you for his service and for your good.
- Micah 3
- Ezekiel 16:35-63
- Malachi 1:6-3:18
- Psalm 26
- Jeremiah 25:1-38