Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

02/18/18 Sermon - Repercussions of a Sinful Nation

“Repercussions of a Sinful Nation”

Isaiah 3:1-12

Up to this point in Isaiah, we have been reading how the two Jewish nations, Jerusalem and Judah have been replacing their trust in God with their trust in humans. Human wisdom and human values have been exalted and the outcome was idolatry. Isaiah, the prophet has a difficult job. He has to tell the truth, and the truth isn’t always easily accepted. Isaiah describes the behavior of the Israelites and it is not pretty. We have read about human arrogance, which has led to contemporary idolatry and the idolization of human leaders. Although it may seem like those in authority rarely are called to accountability, chapter 3 begins by describing what a society looks like that has come under judgement, due to their sins.

Verse 1 begins with the words, “See now, the Lord, the LORD Almighty,” this is an example of the way two Hebrew words, which are each translated “Lord” may be used. The first word Lord, which has only the L capitalized, is the translation of the Hebrew word, adonai, which means, “master, owner, sovereign.” It is a word that can be applied to any type of master, whether human as well as the LORD God, the ultimate Master. The second time the word LORD is used, you will see that all of the letters are capitalized. This word is the translation of the Hebrew word Yahweh, which is the sacred name of the God of Israel. The Hebrew Bible uses the phrase adonai Yahweh which would then be translated, Lord LORD, but would mean, “Master Yahweh” and in fact, that phrase appears more than 300 times in the Old Testament. In this verse, Isaiah calls God the “LORD Almighty” as much to say that God is “Commander in Chief” of heaven’s armies. Isaiah is more than likely trying to get their attention.

Here he is telling Judah and Jerusalem, “The Master of All, Yahweh, of Heaven’s Armies” is about to take away food and water, so you had better get your act together and repent. It’s a tactic that will hopefully shake them up and get them thinking.

Yet God’s judgment doesn’t stop with the taking away of their food and water. He plans to bring judgement on the two Jewish nations by switching out their godly, competent leaders, Check out the list of leaders from the mighty man of war, the judge, the prophet, the soothsayer, the elder, the captain of fifty, the honorable man, the counselor, skilled craftsman and clever enchanter - gone,

and replaced them with mere children.  

The actual fulfillment of this prophecy can be found in 2 Kings 24:14,

He carried all Jerusalem into exile: all the officers and fighting men,and all the skilled workers and artisans—a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left.”

There is an interesting aspect to prophecies. They have dual purposes. There is the direct fulfillment of a prophecy and then there is the principle of the prophecy. The principle of this prophecy is just as valid today as it was then. God continues to bring judgment on nations and one of the ways He does, is by giving people what their wicked hearts desire. But for the mercy of God, how low must people go, before they repent?

We continue to read in verse 5 the results of the ungodly incompetent leadership, people will oppress each other and the order of things in society will be broken down. The child will show no respect for their elders, and those who remain honorable will be slandered and brought down.

Basically society will run amuck. I feel like I am reading Newsweek.

The breakdown of societal norms will be so desperate, the only qualification necessary for someone to be a leader will be if they something to wear! And even then, that person will argue not to be put in charge, knowing full well that they will not be able to help.

Did Isaiah realize he would be prophesying another historical event, in which there was a total collapse of a state? The reading of this passage may bring to mind the months that followed May 1945 in Germany, wikipedia describes it like this -  “At the end of the war, there were in Germany some eight million foreign displaced persons; mainly forced laborers and prisoners; including around 400,000 from the concentration camp system, survivors from a much larger number who had died from starvation, harsh conditions, murder, or being worked to death.

Over 10 million German-speaking refugees arrived in Germany from other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Some 9 million Germans were POWs, many of whom were kept as forced laborers for several years to provide restitution to the countries Germany had devastated in the war. Another example of what happens when people put their faith in a human leader to save them from their difficulties.

Isaiah continues by explaining just what behaviors Judah and Jerusalem were exhibiting that warranted such judgment. They were sinning in both what they said and what they did. Their actions and words were so prevalent Isaiah said they provoked the eyes of His glory. We need to pay attention to what is written here. So often we are focused on our sin as something we do. Isaiah reminds us that we are also commanded to glorify God by what we say, as well. Matthew 12:36-37

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

It gets worse. Verse 9 reads that “The look on their faces testifies against them:” It is a fact that impure tendencies are particularly legible in ones eyes. There was a TV drama series called “Lie to Me” which was built around this premise.  The world's leading deception researcher, Dr. Cal Lightman, used his ability to read one’s eyes, facial expressions, body language and tone of voice to determine when a person was lying, and why. Many a mother has the same ability. How many of you had a parent say to you, “Look me in the eye and say that.”

The Scripture goes on to say, not only can you see it in their eyes, like the sin in Sodom, people will not even try to hide it.

Oh how our society today is so much like that of the society of Isaiah’s day. There are sins today that are approved of and defended in the name of “frankness” and “honesty” and “I refuse to be a hypocrite.” We live in a society where no one is “allowed” to proclaim a standard unless they live up to it perfectly. Just for the record, it is not hypocritical to promote a standard you don’t perfectly meet. Hypocrisy is when you pretend to keep the standard when you do not, or think it is fine for you to not keep the standard, when you think others should.

Isaiah rightfully places the responsibility of their judgment on Judah and Jerusalem. God only had to leave them alone and they “brought disaster upon themselves.”

Yet in the midst, Isaiah recognizes, there are still those who remain righteous. And God continues to be faithful and will protect and bless them and they will not have the same fate as the wicked.

It may be only in perspective of eternity, but we like Abraham can say to the LORD, Genesis 18:25

Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

Isaiah goes on to say, that we reap what we sow. God gives the righteous what they deserve, just as He will give the wicked what they deserve.

Isaiah again states God’s dismay with the incompetent and ungodly leadership for both Judah and Jerusalem. Because of this, the godly were being terrorized and bullied. Eugene Peterson puts it like this in “The Message,”

“My dear people! Your leaders are taking you down a blind alley. They’re sending you off on a wild-goose chase.”

There is a silver lining in this dark cloud. When all seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, when leaders are doing their own thing, regardless, we can be assured, by reading verse 10 and remembering,

“Reassure the righteous

   that their good living will pay off.”

And Deuteronomy 7:9 reminds us:

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God,keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”

Basically, we have a choice. We can join society and make life a bit more easy, for the time being, or we can remain faithful to what the LORD requires of us,

“To act justly and to love mercy

   and to walk humbly with your God.”

It’s not the popular choice, but the rewards are worth it.

Let’s pray.