Damariscotta Baptist Church
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

05/27/18 Sermon - New Choices Made in the Light of Old Truth

“New Choices Made in the Light of Old Truth”

Isaiah 10:20-34


Isaiah’s message from the Lord last week addressed the Assyrians and as we continue on this week in chapter 10, He returns his attention again to Judah, in regards to their misplaced trust.  You may recall that back in chapter 7 the LORD reminded Judah that He was their deliverer, not Assyria, when they received a threat from Syria and Israel. The LORD promised Judah that He would be there for them. But, King Ahaz, failed to follow God’s instruction and trusted in Assyria anyway. As a result, the Lord chose to use Assyria to judge Judah, and in today’s Scripture God reminds Judah that they need to prepare for the attack from Judah but that they also need to remember that He is the one who is still in charge and they can still trust Him. This is the definition of Love, here God was revealing not only His grace, but His longsuffering.

I suspect, that had it been up to any of us, we would have been up to about our necks in frustration with Judah, and would have thrown in the towel long ago and have thought something like,


“Okay, you want to trust in the Assyrians and not in me? Fine. Go right ahead. See where that gets you. You are on your own. Good Luck!”


Now, for sure, Judah and King Ahaz, admittedly did deserve such treatment, but that is not what God is like. God loves His children, and wants them to do what is right, and desires to bring them comfort and hope. Just like any good parent would do.


The next verse claims that a remnant of Israel will depend on the LORD. It’s like God knew there were some of Israel who were not like Ahaz. There were some who truly loved the LORD their God with all their heart, and soul and mind and their neighbor as themselves.

So the LORD promises His people, that because they chose not trust Him, they would go through this invasion. But there would be those who would come through in the end. God was allowing the destruction, because it was righteous, it was never unfair. The judgement of God overflows with righteousness.


God goes on to tell the people of Zion, that even though they will experience a hurt and pain from Assyria, that it will not last for long. Because, not only is God slow to anger, His anger does not last for long, and very soon His anger towards Judah will end, and He will turn His wrath towards the destruction of Assyria.


We need to be reminded, that God is just, and requires a payment for injustice, but at the same time, is gracious and ultimately in charge, and will never leave His children to the mercy of their enemies.


Isaiah then assures Judah that just like He took care of Midian at the rock of Oreb, He would indeed take care of them. The story of Midian can be read in Judges chapter 7. But the Israelites of Judah had been told this story since their childhood. They had listened as their parents told them how their God had required Gideon to reduce his army to just 300 men and then miraculously they slaughtered Midian. Isaiah wanted them to realize that again, God would miracuously work and He would strike Assyria, which we can read about in 2 Kings 19:35

“That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!”

If you continue to read in verses 36-37 of chapter 19 you will read that God even took out the king of Assyria.

“So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.

One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisrok, his sons Adrammelek and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king.”


The yoke of burden would exist, Assyria would indeed give Judah trouble and oppress Judah, but this would not last forever because God would break the yoke and set them free.


Up to this point, the Israelites may have thought they were going to get away from destruction. It was beginning to sound good, that God may spare them from the Assyrian destruction. However, in the next four verses Isaiah gives a prophetic description of the arrival of the army of Assyria. He specifically mentions the cities of Judah through which the Assyrians will march, from north to south, describing their very course of invasion. The Assyrians would end in the city of Nob, right on the outskirts of Jerusalem. This was where the LORD killed the 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night.


All of this comes down to the Lord making humble the proud among the people of Judah. The Lord knows who is who, and regardless of the power or stature one has on earth, with God, judgement is given equally. Just as a mighty forest may seem invincible and capable of standing forever, the Lord has the ability, and will choose to cut the proud down. Isaiah mentions the forest of Lebanon, which was known for its large, mighty cedar trees. But Isaiah states that the proud will be cut down to stumps, regardless of their size and stature. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, but fall they will.


We might leave church today thinking that we have read an interesting story in Isaiah and in the end God gives everyone their just deserves. I encourage you to think deeper, and to use this Scripture to make new choices in light of old truth.


Today’s Scripture demonstrates the lordship of God over history and over human pride. Yet, how does God’s lordship manifest itself in His church today?


One of the issues the Israelites had was that of their security of their relationship with God. They were God’s chosen people, He promised to take care of them. Isaiah did his best to assure the people of Judah that they could be assured that the Assyrians would not annihilate them. So they should not surrender their trust in God in order to secure their outcome. However, this did not allow them to behave any way they felt like. A similar issue exists in the church today, it is known as the security of the believer. Some churches have been influenced by Calvin and have an “eternal security.” Calvin’s fifth and final point in his theology. Unfortunately many skip Calvin’s first four points which lead up to point five as a logical response. Instead, many live as if it doesn’t really matter, because heaven is certain.


Or there are those who have been more influenced by Arminius, and live as though we have an “eternal insecurity,” and our eternal state depends on whether or not we have confessed our latest sin, which focus’ more on one’s behavior than on one’s relationship with Christ.


All this to say, that our confidence in the future must never make us think that our present behavior will not have consequences. Isaiah prophesied and it still holds true today, the future of the nation of Israel and of the church, is secure, but this does not mean that individual Israelites or Christians can sin without consequences for that sin.


God’s church will survive, whether individually we choose to be a part of it or not. Individually, if we have entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ, we do not need to live in a constant state of anxiety as if that relationship depends on our performance, because it doesn’t.

It depends on our continual faith, and it is God who makes that continued faith possible. The trouble comes in our concept of faith.


Faith in Christ, is demonstrated, in our way of life.


If you think that you can live your own way, doing what you want to and you remain the central focus, and  you think that you should be able to go to heaven, because at some point in junior high school you accepted Christ, and you go to church when you are able, then you have missed the point.  Christ came to be an example and Paul caught on when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:27 The Message

I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”

 

Which leads me to think,

Yes, but how?

 

This is where the gift of memory comes in. Today’s Scripture relied on the gift of memory when Isaiah reminded Judah what God had done with Gideon at Midian. The Bible declares that God had made himself known in ongoing relationships. God had stepped into human existence and done some things for Israel which demonstrated the central truths of human existence along with the truth of divine existence. The Bible shows us that God wasn’t just demanding things from up above, He was interacting with humans within their daily life. He didn’t just say He was dependable, He actually showed up and demonstrated He was dependable. He gave people the evidence they needed before He called them to believe in Him.

 

The same goes for us today.

In order for us to keep the faith in times of stress, and difficulty and perhaps even real persecution, we need to have a memory of God in our minds. It begins with remembering sacred history. There is a reason we teach our children the “Bible Stories.” Just as the Israelites shared the stories of God with their children, by reading the stories of how God intercepted into human lives in the past, and made a difference we can trust that He would do the same today.

Hebrews 13:8

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

 

For those of us in living after the New Testament, we can remember the life, death and resurrection of our LORD along with the history and founding of the church.

 

We also have our personal history. The spiritual journey we have taken to get us where we are today.

Oh that we would not get a type of spiritual Alzheimer’s disease where we forget the times God has intervened, provided for, guided and sustained our lives. Should we look at the Assyrians that cross our paths, as ones who may be there in order to teach us or discipline us or refine us in the way God wants for us. May we see their certain doom and be reminded that we need to make new choices in light of the old truths.

 

Let’s pray.