Sunday, November 30, 2008

November 30th - The Holy One of Israel

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Black Friday Preaching Results
Students Who are Sick
Pastor Aaron Preaching

Isaiah 6
As a follow-up from Disciple Now this class period will be devoted largely to Isaiah 6, but also to tie it back into 1 Thessalonians, we'll spend some time on Isaiah 6:13, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled." The holy seed is its stump.

There were some things that we skipped over during D-Now that I really think we should have spent time on. Overall I really enjoyed the weekend, I hope you did too.

Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

Isaiah was probably in the Temple when he had this vision. King Uzziah, the king who had brought Israel to a high level of prosperity and security had died and Israel was mourning his death. Isaiah looked and saw that God was high and lifted up, meaning God was higher than Uzziah, and that God was still seated on the throne. God was and is still in charge.

God's robe symbolizes a lot of God's attributes; righteousness, majesty, splendor, and that the train of his robe filled the whole temple, which was a HUGE building, shows that he has an overabundance of all of it.

Psalm 93:1 The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.

Compare a well known story of the prodigal son, who went and lost everything and was covered in filth and ran home, what was the first thing his father did after forgiving him?

Luke 15:21-22 And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.

God's righteousness is often referred to as a Robe and one that he clothes others in, compare a few others.

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

2 Chronicles 6:41 Let your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let your saints rejoice in your goodness.

Who is a priest? All Christians, it is a ministerial title for those who are ministers of the Most High God.
Who is a saint? Anyone who has been saved and is being sanctified.
Who is our Great High Priest? Jesus Christ.

Two of my favorite verses are Job 29:14 and Romans 13:14, they say, "I put on righteousness, and it clothed me, and my judgment was as a robe and a crown." In other words, the judgment is as the King. How do you put on righteousness? Paul said, "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, make no provision for the flesh, to satisfy its desires."

When Isaiah saw God's robe filling the Temple, it was symbolic of God's righteousness covering his people.

Isaiah 6:2-3 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"

Compare this picture to Revelation 4:8, And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"

The eyes that the angels are filled with are likely symbolic of their extensive wisdom, since they have eyes all around and within, they are able to see the grandeur of God as well as their own createdness. With their extensive wisdom, look at what they do, they worship God forever.

They are covering their faces and their feet. When covering their faces, I think they are specifically covering their eyes, acknowledging the Splendor of God. I think when covering their feet they are acknowledging their created-nature.

And which God are they calling to? They aren't just proclaiming any God, they give language to specify the God they are talking about, the Lord of hosts, the God of all the earth, the one who was before all things, is living, and is coming back to earth. They are talking about the One True God, the Triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 6:4-5 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"

Isaiah did the right thing when he encountered God, he recognized his sinfulness and God's holiness. Let's compare some other verses:

Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Isaiah 33:14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: "Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?"
Luke 12:5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

The reason that sinners are afraid of God is because he is big, and holy, and offended, and righteousness, and the just judge who by no means will clear the guilty. All of these things are great things, but if they are pointed at you then they are terrifying. Consider a police officer, who keeps the peace and punishes bad guys. If you're not a criminal, then he is on your side, but if you are a criminal, he is your enemy.

Why was Isaiah so afraid? His one admission was a big one, "I am a man of unclean lips...", James really expounds on this idea well,

James 3:4-12 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

This is the James who usually says things with precise and concise statements, and yet he goes on and on about the tongue both wrecking our soul and also a bad tongue proving the lostness of our soul. Jesus said that out of the mouth the heart professes. By Isaiah admitting to having unclean lips, he was proclaiming his absolute depravity.

The same thing with us, when we blaspheme God's name or swear or gossip, we're showing our sinfulness. Woe to Isaiah? Woe to us!

Isaiah 6:6-7 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for."

Notice who did wasn't Isaiah, it was the angel. There is nothing we can do to clean ourselves up, we need a working of God to regenerate and sanctify our souls. This coal touching Isaiah's lips didn't save him, since everyone who has ever been saved is saved by Christ's payment, but it did cause the cleansing of Isaiah's soul. His faith in God that God would take care of him led to his salvation and his sins were paid for 700 years down the road on the cross of Christ.

Notice also that this coal was probably painful. A lot of times the sanctification process is painful, nobody promised it to be easy.

Isaiah 6:8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

The outward indication of Isaiah's inward cleansing was his willingness to minister for God. Unfortunately, Israel was pretty far gone by this time, and the message Isaiah was given to preach wasn't one of redemption, but of punishment.

Isaiah 6:9-13 And he said, "Go, and say to this people: "'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears,and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." Then I said, "How long, O Lord?" And he said: "Until cities lie waste without inhabitant,and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, and the LORD removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again,like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled." The holy seed is its stump.

Israel had a thumping in store for them, first by Assyria, then by Babylon, and ultimately by Rome. Isaiah's message was just to deliver this message.

A few years later Jeremiah would preach a similar message as Babylon was invading Israel. Jeremiah preached 50-some years without a single recorded convert, and at one point he got pretty angry at God for that, here is what he said,

Jeremiah 20:7-11 O LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me.8For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, "Violence and destruction!" For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. If I say, "I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name, "there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. For I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side!" Denounce him! Let us denounce him!" say all my close friends, watching for my fall." Perhaps he will be deceived; then we can overcome him and take our revenge on him." But the LORD is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.

When you're preaching, just like Isaiah and Jeremiah, you are not guaranteed converts, but we're preaching for the glory of God, not the conversion of men. It is a theme of Israel not responding to her prophets, and they got thumped by Assyria, and God saved them, then by Babylon, and God saved them, but finally by Rome, and God didn't save them.

So to get back to 1 Thessalonians 2:16 God's wrath has come upon the Jews at last.

There was a promise of salvation to Israel, so why weren't they saved?

Romans 9:4-8 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

I don't fully understand why Israel was cut-off, but they were certainly given ample opportunity to repent and be saved. The Israel that was promised salvation was spiritual Israel, not national Israel. This has worked out very well for the Gentiles.

Romans 11:11-12 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

There is a little circle, that Israel was cut-off so that the Gentiles could be saved, and the Gentiles were saved to make Israel jealous so they would repent and be saved. Now how did God do it?

Grafting was normal in Palestine/Israel. Wild olive shoots grow up everywhere. The major difference between an olive tree and an olive shoot is if someone has taken the time to prune the shoot to grow into a fruit-producing tree. An olive shoot will never produce fruit on its own though.

Romans 11:17-24 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

A dying branch on an olive tree can kill the whole tree, so it is absolutely necessary for the vine-dresser, also called a husbandman, to cut off dying branches. Once the branch is cut off, an olive shoot can be stuck to the tree and the tree will adopt the while shoot and then the shoot will produce fruit.

Who is the vine in all of this? Jesus.

Who is the vine dresser? God the Father.

John 15:1-6 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned."

The branches have to abide in the vine, because the vine is the source of all their nourishment and life. A branch apart from the vine is no good for anything other than to be burned in the fire.

So, Gentiles have been saved in place of the branches of Israel. Consider that we're all in prison, waiting for our ransom to be paid. The jailer comes in and says, "You're free to go, your $100 million ransom has been paid by Jesus Christ." Half of us get up and leave, the other half say, "That's not who we were waiting for, we'll wait for the next $100 million payment by someone other than Jesus Christ." There isn't going to be another payment, they are lost.

There are three kinds of Jewish person:
1. Messianic - Trust that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. The Old Testament prophets would fit in here. I'm certain Isaiah would rather worship God at Summit than at a Jewish Synagogue of today.
2. Orthodox - Claim to follow the Old Testament. They are waiting for the coming Messiah, they reject that it was Jesus. Most are expecting Elijah.
3. Talmudic - This is the majority of Jews today. They've abandoned the Old Testament and are following oral tradition. Of this type of Jew Jesus Christ was pretty harsh:

Revelation 2:9 I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

Ultimately salvation is only through Jesus Christ. The Jews that have rejected him are not the Jews of promise and will not be saved. One sign of the end of the age is that many Jews will come to salvation in Jesus Christ, the Bible says they won't even have to tell each other that Jesus is the Messiah, they will just know. (Hebrews 8 and Romans 11)

One of my friends sometimes calls the church of Jesus Christ, "Israel." We don't have the land promises and such, but we have been grafted into the promise of salvation given to Israel. It's not a term I'd use for a congregation, since it takes too long to explain...I think it's taken three class periods to get to this point...but it isn't wrong to refer to the church today as Israel.

Follow Up Question:

Why is God Jealous? I was asked last weekend why God is a jealous God, and I thought it was something that I should relay to this class.

Imagine I came to class and nobody was here, I sat down to wait, and Dave came by, and I asked, "Dave, where's my class?" and he said, "Oh, I had a new guy who wanted to teach, but I didn't have any students to give him, so I gave your class the option of where they wanted to go, and he offered them food, so I guess they went with him." So I thought...hmmm...well, ok, so I sat down and read my Bible and prayed some, but got bored and decided to go see what he was teaching.

I find the class, and he's got a Dr. Seuss book opened and I ask, "Dr. Seuss? Is there a theological implication to that?" and he answers, "No, I just like it, and I didn't have time to prepare a lesson." I ask, "Well where's the food you promised?" and he says, "We already ate it," and points to an empty bag of M&M's.

At this point, beloved, I would be jealous. Not because he stole my class, but because of the quality of instruction you were getting. I know you all are well on your way to being great ministers of God, and his teaching you fluff would stifle your growth. My knowledge of your abilities and burgeoning wisdom would lead me to want you to keep growing, which is why I try to challenge you with deep lessons.

That is why God is a jealous God, he has worked hard and knows what is best for his people, and when they run off to infinitely lesser things he gets jealous. I hope that makes sense.

See you next week!