Exhortation - Punchbowl - 26 August 2007
Posted 26 August 2007 - 10:56 AM
Reading – Isaiah 29
29:1 Woe to Ariel! Ariel, the city where David encamped! Add year to year; let the feasts come around; 29:2 then I will distress Ariel, and there will be mourning and lamentation. She shall be to me as an altar hearth. 29:3 I will encamp against you all around you, and will lay siege against you with posted troops. I will raise siege works against you. 29:4 You will be brought down, and will speak out of the ground. Your speech will mumble out of the dust. Your voice will be as of one who has a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and your speech will whisper out of the dust. 29:5 But the multitude of your foes will be like fine dust, and the multitude of the ruthless ones like chaff that blows away. Yes, it will be in an instant, suddenly. 29:6 She will be visited by Yahweh of Armies with thunder, with earthquake, with great noise, with whirlwind and storm, and with the flame of a devouring fire. 29:7 The multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all who fight against her and her stronghold, and who distress her, will be like a dream, a vision of the night. 29:8 It will be like when a hungry man dreams, and behold, he eats; but he awakes, and his hunger isn’t satisfied; or like when a thirsty man dreams, and behold, he drinks; but he awakes, and behold, he is faint, and he is still thirsty. The multitude of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion will be like that. 29:9 Pause and wonder! Blind yourselves and be blind! They are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. 29:10 For Yahweh has poured out on you a spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, the prophets; and he has covered your heads, the seers. 29:11 All vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is educated, saying, “Read this, please;” and he says, “I can’t, for it is sealed:” 29:12 and the book is delivered to one who is not educated, saying, “Read this, please;” and he says, “I can’t read.” 29:13 The Lord said, “Because this people draws near with their mouth and with their lips to honor me, but they have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men which has been taught; 29:14 therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the understanding of their prudent men will be hidden.”
29:15 Woe to those who deeply hide their counsel from Yahweh, and whose works are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us?” and “Who knows us?” 29:16 You turn things upside down! Should the potter be thought to be like clay; that the thing made should say about him who made it, “He didn’t make me;” or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding?”
29:17 Isn’t it yet a very little while, and Lebanon will be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field will be regarded as a forest? 29:18 In that day, the deaf will hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind will see out of obscurity and out of darkness. 29:19 The humble also will increase their joy in Yahweh, and the poor among men will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 29:20 For the ruthless is brought to nothing, and the scoffer ceases, and all those who are alert to do evil are cut off— 29:21 who cause a person to be indicted by a word, and lay a snare for the arbiter in the gate, and who deprive the innocent of justice with false testimony. 29:22 Therefore thus says Yahweh, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall no longer be ashamed, neither shall his face grow pale. 29:23 But when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in the midst of him, they will sanctify my name. Yes, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. 29:24 They also who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who grumble will receive instruction.”
World English Bible - (WEB) - Public Domain
Posted 26 August 2007 - 11:04 AM
At short notice my son rang me because of an illness and asked if I could fill in. I chose Isaiah 29 as the basis of the exhortation. I was phoned last evening to request the hymns for this morning – and I said that the exhortation would be on Isaiah 29 and he said that you had looked a little at Isaiah 29 yesterday at your study day. I find this chapter quite hard to work out. The prophet speaks against Jerusalem, or those that are living in Jerusalem verse 1 “Ariel” – is another name for Jerusalem. He tells about what is going to happen. There is evidence to suggest that this prophecy was given one year before the invasion by the Assyrians and that the statement here is that the nation is about to suffer a great catastrophe and that the multitude of the Assyrians are going to come and besiege Jerusalem and they will shut up the city of Jerusalem so that God can show his mighty power against the Assyrian and to save the nation. There were 4 groups of people in Jerusalem at this time – the faithful like Hezekiah and Isaiah who depended on God for their salvation. There were those that thought it would be better to “pay off” the Assyrian by giving them the gold from the temple – which they did, but Sennacherib still came to fight and destroy the city. The other group thought they could go down to Egypt and get the Egyptians to come and help them (in chapters, 30-31) chapter 30:1 – they decided the best way out of the problem was to try and buy help from Egypt. They did this, they had sent people to Egypt to meet with Pharaoh and ask him to help them. Pharaoh did eventually but he got beaten by the Assyrians – a great slaughter. Chapter 31:1-3. There was another group that decided the best way out of the situation – was to lay all their treasures on camels, horses etc and run away to Egypt. When the invasion came they would go to Egypt where they would be safe. These are the 4 groups.
This prophecy is given about 1 year before and is designed to strengthen and encourage those that trust in God – the first group. Isaiah 29 is unique – it is quoted 4 times in the New Testament. When we look at something say in Corinthians that refers back to the Old Testament – we go back and look at where it is quoted from, but we don’t always look at the context of the chapter that it was originally in. We need to think about why the New Testament writer chose this particular verse to quote.
Also the use of certain words is unique in Isaiah 29 – look at verse 23 “holy one of Israel” “God of Israel” – chapter 30:12 “holy one of Israel”, verse 11 “holy one of Israel”, verse 15 “holy one of Israel” – this phrase “holy one of Israel” – is repeated over and over in Isaiah – referring to the God of Israel as the “holy one of Israel” – in Isaiah 6, Isaiah sees a vision while he is in the temple and the proclamation made by the Seraphim was “Holy Holy Holy” – this word repeated 3 times to show that God is absolutely, totally completely, HOLY in everything He does. Isaiah keeps repeating this over and over again that the “holy one of Israel” is doing all these things and will not overlook the children of Israel.
I have a word written on the paper you have 3 seconds to see what it is:
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Posted 26 August 2007 - 11:05 AM
Imagine Isaiah the prophet stood up on this platform this morning – what would he say of us? Would he look at it and see good, or would he look at it and see in the middle of the good, there is also evil. Isaiah the prophet went to the feasts of the people and they were observing the Passover, the day of atonement, the feast of tabernacles and they heard the words of God being spoken to them – and said “we are doing the right thing, we are keeping the law, we are keeping the feasts” – but along comes the prophet and he says “No – your sacrifices stink – God will not accept them because you see them as being the worship of Yahweh, God looks at them and says that He takes no notice of any of them – away with you, rebellious children” – if Isaiah stood up here and said all these things this morning, what would we say? Come to chapter 30:8-9 If I said that I had been told by God to say these things to this ecclesia – what would you say. What did the children of Israel say to Isaiah? Verse 10 – they wanted to hear smooth things, things that would make us feel nice and comfortable – we don’t want to be agitated or stirred up, change the point of what you have to say, tell us good things. Verse 11 they said “get down off the platform, go away, stop saying those things, we don’t want to hear that, we want to hear smooth things that make us feel good”. Chapter 29 he makes a contrast between Israel and Lebanon verses 1-9 then verses 15-16 the people of Jerusalem are drunk with their own faults, they try and buy off the king of Assyria or buy help from Egypt. God says ‘no’. Verses 10-11 the prophet has a book and he has written down all the prophecies about what God is going to do, what God thinks about the nation. It is written in a book and is given to the learned men of Israel – they look at it and say “it is a sealed book, I don’t understand what it says in this book, I can’t interpret that” – so it went to those that were not learned and they said “no this is too hard for us, we can’t read that”. Verse 13 – this people draw nigh with their lips, they have all the apparent outward trappings of a religious people serving God but when the basis are delivered to them they say “we can’t understand that” – they didn’t want to hear about the issues that really count. This verse is quoted in Mark and in Matthew. The interesting part is that Isaiah is here talking to Israel but he contrasts them with Lebanon. Come to Matthew 15 – this is the same record that is in Mark 7 that we dealt with yesterday. Matthew 15 talks about “washings” – the commandments of men, how to wash your hands when you come from the marketplace in case you have touched a gentile. Verse 3 then he lists things that they do then verses 7-9, verse 13 – Isaiah 28 is about the planting of plants by God and how God plants the seed in the ground – teaches about how God works among his people – this is another connection between the two. Verse 14 then Jesus goes to Tyre and Sidon in verse 21 – on a map that is a long way, a couple of days journey into the land of the Gentiles – and there is a certain woman that comes and is healed “it is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs” – then Jesus comes to the sea of Galilee and great multitudes come to be healed verses 30-31 “they glorified the God of Israel” – this is an unusual expression – these were Gentiles that glorified the God of Israel, not Jews, they were blind and maimed and dumb. Here in Israel they preached the traditions of men, he calls them hypocrites, he leaves Israel and goes to Lebanon and there Jesus finds faith in God and from there multitudes followed him back into Israel – he travels for 3 days and has compassion on them and feeds them.
Posted 26 August 2007 - 11:06 AM
The first point is that I have a very deceivable heart – I can convince myself that evil is good and good is evil, I can justify anything that I have done or said. I can make it into something different than what it is – a totally selfish reason and I can convince myself that I am doing the right thing. By reasoning enough I can deceive myself. When Paul wrote to the Philippians he said “I will send Timothy to see you, there is no man better able to do this work, he will care for you as I care for you – not all men are like that, most men care for themselves, they are selfish”. Selfishness is a basic human factor, we are born selfish. As a child I woke up at 3 o’clock in the morning and demanded I be fed, that I stayed awake and play. My mother had to do what I wanted then, I only had to cry and she would come. It is only through learning as we go through life that it is not good to show selfishness – we learn to hide this selfishness, but we are still selfish people. I can justify my selfishness – we are all selfish people. The children of Israel who were keeping the feasts and the Passover said “the best we can do is go to Egypt, or buy off the Assyrians” – many from Lebanon also came down and hid in Jerusalem – God didn’t just save the Jews he saved Gentiles also.
Sometimes we need to turn our thinking upside down. There is a section in Isaiah that I don’t really understand where it talks about Egypt and Syria being a 1/3 part of Israel, they are all enemies, I don’t think it is possible that this could happen, but God will turn things upside down, God is going to do things that we think is impossible. God is going to do a marvellous work, He was going to let Gentiles in. The Jews thought that this could not be right, God wouldn’t do this. But God is letting the Gentiles in – you and me. But the basis on which Gentiles are accepted is not on the basis of what is here in the time of Isaiah – not the washing of hands, and keeping feasts. The attendance at the meetings – are these holy things, do we come here from habit. What is our attitude – this is what is important. Chapter 30:15 – this is the recipe, you can’t buy off the Assyrian, you can’t get Egypt to help you, you can’t flee to Egypt with your riches. The returning and rest you will be saved – in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. This idea of running away is out – you have to stay in Jerusalem, sit quietly, don’t get upset, sit and trust in God. God will do it right.
Of all the things in our life in the truth, things we have to do, often we forget this. Our confidence is to sit quietly and have confidence in what God is doing, to trust him and examine our thoughts and motives, our selfishness. What are our real motives in life? If I told you in a year’s time the Lord will be here, but in the days of Isaiah this is what they were saying – in a year the Assyrians would be here – you have a year to fix yourself up. What happened? Nothing, they didn’t listen, they wouldn’t hear. I hope this morning you are listening."
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