Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 1st - Jesus, Called Nazarene

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron traveling
Jud, Leon, and Lee preaching
Survey of World Religion (Friday nights)
Jenny's Mom's surgery
James' knee
Mall Witnessing

Text – Isaiah 3-4,11

Here ends another wonderful year of Bible study, I hope you’ve enjoyed being taught as much as I’ve enjoyed teaching. Next year we will go through Zechariah, I was so blessed just in preparing the calendar, and I’m sure you’ll be blessed by us going through it. What started out as an intimidating book has already started to come alive for me, and I’m sure it will soon to be your favorite book in the Bible.

Today, since we’re still waiting for our new 6th graders we get to look at something off-topic, but which is totally applicable in your lives because it deals with a huge sin which the whole nation is guilty of, and which Georgia is especially guilty of, which is nation-worship. As we went through First Peter I hope you saw explicitly that we are not citizens of the World or of the United States or of Georgia, but we are citizens of Heaven and are merely guests here under this government. I want to show you yet another reason why the Bible is relevant today and that we must know it.

Last week we looked at Manasseh; who was Manasseh’s prophet? Isaiah. What’d he do to Isaiah when Isaiah confronted him with his sin? Cut him in half. So that’s my transition…not a particularly good one. We’re going to be in Isaiah today, Isaiah 3 and 4. Do you think this book was written before or after Isaiah was murdered? This seems like a dumb question, but there are some people who think there were more than one author of Isaiah…but this book has such awesome continuity that I’m sure there is no way that could happen; Isaiah wrote this whole letter.

In chapter 1 Isaiah goes through the sins of Judah and why God is angry, chapter 2 describes eternal judgment. Both of those are awesome chapters, but I think if we only went through those you wouldn’t learn as much because you already know a lot about those topics. So we’re going to be in chapter 3 because this is God’s judgment on a living nation.

2v22 Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?

This transitional verse is after God shows the end of the wicked and is now telling the people to listen to him instead of the many false-prophets who were operating in Israel. Today we have hundreds of popular people who are saying we don’t need to be afraid of God or worry about our sins because there is no judgment to come. God is saying otherwise, he’s going to give proof through a temporal judgment so that if his people will repent and turn back to him, they will be saved.

Imagine a little boy whose father tells him to stay with him, but then the boy runs towards a busy street and his dad catches him and spanks him for putting his life in danger and disobeying. This is a temporary consequence, but if the boy still refuses to repent and runs into the street, he will face a permanent consequence. So chapter 3 is all about temporary punishment; it could be called a very stern warning.

3v1 For behold, the Lord GOD of hosts is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah support and supply, all support of bread, and all support of water;

The first thing I really want you to see is that this is to Israel specifically and not to America. America is not God’s chosen people, the people Israel were in the Old Covenant and the church has become Israel in the New Covenant. One of God’s judgments on Israel was famine and drought; I want t show you that we have an infinitely harsher punishment,

Amos 8:11 “Behold, the days are coming," declares the Lord GOD, "when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.

We don’t really have time to look at it, but this is exactly how Laodicea was described, not lacking anything physically, but hugely lacking in spiritual things. I sincerely hope you see how blessed you are to have had Dave as a youth pastor and myself as someone whom God has put in my heart to desire to teach you the Word and to spend so much time in preparation. Beloved, I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said this lesson took me more than ten hours to prepare. Honestly, Summit is an island of grace in a sea of apostasy. Please, please, please don’t take this for granted.

3v2-3 …the Lord God of hosts is taking away…the mighty man and the soldier, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor and the skillful magician and the expert in charms.

These are all specialists, people who take their careers seriously and know what they are doing. Our school system has done a fantastic job of turning our country into a people who know a huge number of useless facts and are utterly unable to be productive. This will be exacerbated in your generation as we gain people who can’t research because Google has destroyed their discipline, who can’t communicate because Twitter has killed their attention span, who can’t devote themselves to one spouse because television has glamorized fornication, who can’t read a map because GPS has washed their brains. And look, it ranges from noble professions like judges and preachers, to even people God hates, magicians and charmers. In a God abandoned society nobody does their job well.

This is what my sermon is going to be on when Pastor Aaron gives me the opportunity to preach it, and so I exhort you now to do whatever you do with all your might, as though Christ was your boss, because we are called to excellence.

3v4 And I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them.

When Isaiah was writing this, we can take it literally, because Manasseh would take the throne at 12 years old. But, see this as also figuratively that people in charge really never grew up. I considered not making this point, but it has to be made, that our president is the epitome of this verse. He acts like Justin Bieber on television, he’s totally in love with himself and takes every opportunity to exalt himself. Recently he showed his total lack of forethought when he was smoking on television on the beach in Louisiana and flings the cigarette right down onto the sand. The main point is that the leaders of the country will be uneducated, immature, and incompetent. Facebook keeps me in touch with high school and Air Force friends and they are all still 12 with no sign of maturing.

3v5 And the people will oppress one another, every one his fellow and every one his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the despised to the honorable.

This exists in America, I’m sure you see it, but I want to jump the pond real quick. When I lived in England I was not a Christian, but my analysis of the country was that everyone was out to steal from everyone else. The farmer sold his food for too much and felt he was getting one over on the store owner. The store sold the food for too much to customers and felt he was benefiting. The mechanics sold parts and labor for way too much. The police were totally corrupt and lazy, the taxes were through the roof, and nobody had any desire to help anyone else. It was a never ending cycle of no one being able to trust anyone or ever getting a fair deal or feeling right about how they treated people. I remember even as a non-Christian feeling that that nation was abandoned by God.

In the youth you could see an utter disregard for life, property, or authority. In the United States if your car is stolen is probably gets pieced out and the thieves make a decent amount of money…it’s still totally wrong, but at least they have a purpose. There is a pandemic in England of car theft, but most of the cars end up burned or driven into lakes or crashed, for no monetary purpose but just because. It is a MISERABLE way to live and the culture there reflects it in skyrocketing alcoholism, suicide, and depression.

The United States isn’t too far behind. Isaiah doesn’t mention financial collapse by name, but we see in the next verse that it is implied.

3v6 For a man will take hold of his brother in the house of his father, saying:"You have a cloak; you shall be our leader, and this heap of ruins shall be under your rule";

With the lack of trained leaders, we see the people desperate for any leadership, the credentials become someone who hasn’t lost their jacket. We see this in our last election where we were forced to choose between the lesser of two evils (which we failed to do), and the problem with choosing between two evils is that you’ll always end up with evil.

The upcoming response is tragic, he says, “I have lost my jacket…I can’t be in charge.”

3v7-8 in that day he will speak out, saying:"I will not be a healer; in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; you shall not make me leader of the people." For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence.

These people are not victims, they have willfully run into these situations by exalting themselves and ignoring and disobeying God. This next verse was true for Judah, but beloved when we compare America to them, we make Judah look like angels.

3v9 For the look on their faces bears witness against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves.

What was Sodom’s sin? Homosexuality. I think it is amazingly prophetic that Isaiah chooses the word “parade” to describe their sin. Part of God’s grace is shame, ironically, because it lets us know we are sinning and drives us away from sin, but when it is removed the people dive into sin, and from here we see the “Woe to them” which is a funeral lament, expressing that these people are counted dead. I don’t want you to think this only refers to homosexuals, but that you remember that we were ALL dead in sin before Christ raised us from the dead. But I also don’t want you to overlook that this is a sign of God’s judgment.

Paul was undoubtedly considering this verse when he wrote Romans 1:24-25, which we won’t read now for time’s sake, but it says exactly what Isaiah just said.

3v10 Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds.

Shall we all die and face the consequences? No, here we see that if we have received righteousness from Christ, we will be spared. Judah would have read this both temporally and spiritually, and so I hope you’ll also realize that our reward, won for us and provided to us on the cross, is in Heaven. What amazing grace it is that God would address his saints and reassure us even in the midst of him giving such harsh words to the reprobate.

3v11-12 Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him. My people— infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.

Isaiah speaks of the oppressors being infants. I don’t think this is spiritual or figurative at all, but he’s literally saying that kids are in charge. The reason I believe this is because I see this in our country, that children are in charge of the household and the parents live to serve them. It’s exactly opposite how it should be; it is a sign of judgment.

Another sign is that women are in charge. Here it is vitally important that our theology is right, that we see that God isn’t against women, but that he created them with the major purpose of them representing the church and men representing Christ. The church should never feel they are in a position to tell Christ what to do, and likewise it’s not that women are incapable of being in charge or are intellectually inferior, because there are plenty of verses that say exactly the opposite, that women and men are equal intellectually and spiritually. What we see here is a rejection of theology, of women striving (as it says in Genesis) to be over men.

And then we see that those who are in charge aren’t doing a good job, but are misleading the people and driving them to ruin. It’s all quite depressing. Look who God blames:

3v13-15 The LORD has taken his place to contend; he stands to judge peoples. The LORD will enter into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: "It is you who have devoured the vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?" declares the Lord GOD of hosts.

This is a continuing theme in the Bible that the people who represent God and are supposed to be teachers are found to be at fault for failing to teach the whole counsel of God. If we had more time we could spend a huge amount of time on this, but our major application here is to preach the Bible verse by verse and not skip things that are offensive or our hearers don’t want to hear. We might make more money and friends by preaching what unbelievers want to hear, but ultimately we’re lying to them and bringing destruction on them and dishonoring God. The vineyard idea is really expounded on in Isaiah 5, you might consider going home and reading it tonight.

We’re coming to the end of judgment, but look at something that I hope really convicts both the young men and ladies in this class to look to the inner person instead of the outer person for beauty.

3v16-24 The LORD said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, flirting along as they go, tinkling with their feet, therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will lay bare their secret parts. In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; the signet rings and nose rings; the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils. Instead of perfume there will be rottenness; and instead of a belt, a rope; and instead of well-set hair, baldness; and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty.

Ultimately I think it speaks for itself, that God is concerned with the inner person and not the outer adorning. Finally we see a major judgment which a cult in Kansas has made a whole ministry out of,

3v25-26 Your men shall fall by the sword and your mighty men in battle. And her gates shall lament and mourn; empty, she shall sit on the ground.

America loses far less soldiers in battle than most countries, but we’ve still been mired in impossible and unfruitful wars for decades now. Don’t think these have been outside of the scope or control of God. We see that America hasn’t reaped the full harvest of this judgment yet, as Judah had, as chapter 4 verse one attributes,

4v1 And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, "We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach."

Judah lost so many men in battle that there were seven women to every living man, and they were desperate to be married and forget that the population disparity was a punishment for their sin.

So with all of that sin and judgment are we hopeless? No, we still have a hope, one which was prophesied 600 years before it happened here in Isaiah’s gospel,

4v2 In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel.

Here is one of the strangest titles for Jesus in the Bible, he’s called a branch, or in Hebrew (Isaiah 11:1), a Nazar (or Netser).

Matthew 2:23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: "He shall be called a Nazarene."

With the little time we have left I want to read what Isaiah is introducing here in chapter 4, he really says it better in chapter 11, which is what he was intending to do from this introduction:

11v1-10 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

So, your application is that nations apart from Christ are doomed, but that he came into the very people whom hated him and he died for their sins, defeating death so that he will restore all things. Put your trust in him and not in a nation. When you see the judgment of God fall on a nation do not just point it out, but point people to the signal of hope, the Nazarene who was dead but is yet alive, who is mighty to save and abounding in grace and righteousness for all those who will come to him, but will defeat his enemies with a Word.