Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

01/07/18 Sermon - Rebellion Has Its Consequences

“Rebellion has its Consequences”

Isaiah 1:1-9

 

We are starting a new year and we are starting to look at a new book of the Bible. For the year of 2018 we are going to work through the book of Isaiah. I say “work” because the book consists of 66 chapters, so even if we were to read through one chapter a week, we would not read through the entire book. So prepare yourself to spend a year or so, getting to know the prophet Isaiah, and how God used him to speak to not only the people of Israel, but to us today.

 

I began praying and asking God where we should study next while were were celebrating the birth of His Son and the prophecies of Jesus kept coming to mind, and the majority of those prophecies are from Isaiah. So, here we are.

 

I have been reading & studying Isaiah for a week now, but already I can see how what Isaiah wrote during the last half of the eighth century B.C. surpasses time, cultures, and economic circumstances and continues to speak to us today.

 

The book of Isaiah has a multitude of themes and throughout the book there will be a pairing of opposites. At the outset of the book the opposite pair is Judgement and Hope. The accusations in verses 1-15 give way to a promise of restoration if there is a genuine repentance in verses 16-20. The opposite pair will come up again, not only in chapter one, but throughout the the first five chapters. And the book as a whole repeats this theme with chapters 7-39 giving a primary emphasis on judgement and a minor emphasis on hope, while the ending chapters 40-66 emphasize hope with a secondary emphasis on judgement. Isaiah proclaims that hope is available regardless of our choices, if repentance exists.

 

The book begins by introducing the author, Isaiah, the son of Amoz. All the information we have on Isaiah comes from this book. We can deduce that he was of royal blood, as he had easy access to the kings with whom he spoke. Isaiah was married and the father of at least two sons. He lived in Jerusalem and prophesied to both the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). I have copied three charts to help you get the big picture of where Isaiah fits into the Old Testament. (go over the bottom chart, entitled “Old Testament Timeline”, and subsequently the other two charts)

 

Even after the Northern Kingdom’s fall to the Assyrians in 722 B.C. , Isaiah continued to prophesy to Judah. Isaiah’s prophecies began during the reign of King Uzziah, and continued through the reign of Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah and Mannaseh, when according to Jewish tradition, Isaiah hid himself in a hollow tree, only to be sawn in half, by Mannaseh, an angry king.

 

The prophecy of chapter one was given during the reign of Ahaz, King of Judah, who was an evil king that had been invaded many times by surrounding nations.

 

Verse two begins the complaint the LORD has against Judah. The LORD charges them with rebellion, and calls upon the heaven and earth to be witnesses to the facts. You may recall that Moses too called upon heaven and earth to witness that if the people continued to sin, they would be expelled from the promised land. Humanity cannot compare to the obedience of nature as we read in verse 3, where Israel is said to be less intelligent than an ox or a donkey, for at least they know where their barn is located. And even after being chastised for its bad behavior, Isaiah uses two graphic pictures to demonstrate the nation’s spiritual condition. In verse 5-6, there is a bruised and wounded body, left unattended and in verse 8, Isaiah describes an abandoned hut in a harvest field. How sad, that even through all of this, Judah would not repent, it would not change. Even though their sin had brought them great distress, they still preferred their sin, with all its troubles, rather than submitting to God.

2 Chronicles 28:22

In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord.”

We read in verse 9, just what kind of God, our God really is. As bad as things were for Judah, due to their own sin, it could have been worse. They could have ended like Sodom and Gomorrah. God had every right to wipe them out completely, what good were they? Yet, here is the proof that God is a God of mercy and grace, and that our salvation is not of our own making, but a gift from our maker. Even though Judah deserved annihilation God left some survivors.

 

The central theme of this passage has to do with rebellion combined with ignorance. Rebellion has its consequences, and the people of Judah chose to not recognize the connection between their actions and the consequences, thus they were ignorant.

 

Rebellion is basically the refusal to abide by boundaries. God, the Holy one of Israel, had placed some boundaries on Judah, and through their refusal to live by them, Judah was stating they did not believe that God had the right to establish such boundaries. This passage gives us four reasons that God has to provide boundaries.

 

  1. There is only one “Holy One.” In the ancient world, the “holy” equated to deity. For Isaiah, there was only ONE who was defined as “Holy.” The neighbors around Israel worshiped idols and things that were anything, but holy. Isaiah called them “detestable” chapter 44:19. Therefore, if there be only one real deity in the universe, it is understood, that this deity would have the right to draw some lines for the rest of the universe.
  2. This Holy One, is also the creator of everything in the universe. He has set up boundaries for earth and the cosmos, in order for them to be maintained. Does it not make sense that He would do the same for humans?
  3. The Holy One, isn’t some cosmic entity that sits on a throne dictating how things should be done according to his whim and fancy. He is a covenant Lord. He established a covenant relationship with humans. He committed himself to the human race and in turn calls on us to commit ourselves to him.
  4. The Holy One is also our Father. Humans are created in His image. Not as objects, not as subjects, but as His children, verse 2, “I reared children and brought them up,  whom He loves and for whom He cares. Any boundaries He may establish would be done so out of love.

 

Rebellion has its consequences. Just as there are consequences for physical choices, should you fall off a ladder, you will hit the ground, due to the law of gravity. There are consequences to our spiritual choices as well. We live in a world today that seems hostile to any kind of spiritual norms. Our society is consumed with defending one’s personal freedom to do and say whatever is best for the person who is doing and saying. Regardless of the consequences to themselves or to those around them. Pushed to its extremes, personal freedom produces entrapment.

 

Our society has been brainwashed to think that we have the right to our personal freedom regardless of the effects or our choices. Studies have continually demonstrated that the number one common denominator for delinquency is an absent father, yet men continue to father children whenever and wherever they want regardless of the consequences. Our society promotes sexual promiscuity and has even legalized the killing of any unwanted circumstances. The United States economy is built on the fact that as a society we are encouraged to to acquire an endless string of material goods, without any impact on our sense of priorities in life. Because God sees the bigger picture and gives guidelines our society sees Him as a killjoy. When in fact, the character of God is just the opposite. The character of God as defined in Isaiah, is one of mercy. And in His mercy He does not call us out of rebellion into mechanical obedience. Instead, He offers us the outer limits needed so that we know where not to go to keep from hurting ourselves. Just as a railroad engine needs to stay on the tracks, not as an infringement on its basic rights, but merely to define the circumstances under which it may operate to its maximum potential, we too are called to live a life to its maximum potential. We can do so best, if we remember:

  1. There is one Holy One
  2. Who has set up boundaries for his children
  3. Because He is in a covenant relationship with those who chose to covenant with Him
  4. Who is defined as “love”

 

And no greater love has anyone than this, than to lay down one’s life for another. Which is what we set aside each first Sunday of the month to celebrate.

 

The Lord’s Supper.