Sermon Series: Isaiah: Judgment & Hope
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 2:5-11
Sermon Title: Walk in the Light
Memory Verse: … if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
NOTE: “Scripture quotations are from the NASB." This manuscript is provided as a courtesy and is not intended for publication. The recorded audio/video message differs from the manuscript. Thanks for understanding.
The Broken Covenant
To best understand the book of Isaiah, we must understand the Covenant which God makes with the people of Israel.
The covenant begins with one man who has great faith in God. God tells Abraham that he will be the father of a nation. His descendants will be a blessing to all the other nations. Abraham has a son named Isaac and Isaac has a son named Jacob. God changes Jacob’s name to Israel. From that point on, the descendants of Abraham are called Israelites.
The Israelites become slaves in Egypt. The people cry out to God. God proves to be faithful to the covenant and sends a deliverer named Moses. God performs great and powerful miracles through the hand of Moses, and He leads God’s people out of Egypt. God makes another covenant with the Israelites which the Bible calls the Law of Moses or the Mosaic Covenant. The Israelites don’t deserve the covenant because within a month of being delivered from Egypt; they worship a golden calf, an idol. But, God is forgiving and makes the covenant with them anyway.
God promises to care for the Israelites, give them the choicest land, conquer all their enemies, bring peace to the kingdom, and that He will make them a great nation. In return, the Israelites must keep the laws of the Mosaic Covenant. The laws teach them to live in a way which is loving toward one another and loving toward God.
God proves faithful to the covenant with the Israelites and they become the richest, most powerful, and blessed nation on the earth. God gives them victory in battle over the surrounding nations and the victories bring all the bounties of war. God prospers them with abundant harvests and livestock. God’s law gives them an advantage with trade in the marketplace. Their family relationships are close-knit. God is very good to the people of Israel.
The covenant brings the Israelites great prosperity and blessing, so we expect the people will be thankful. We expect they will love God and worship Him for His faithfulness to the covenant. We expect them to love the covenant and observe all the commands.
The Israelites do just the opposite. The Israelites turn their back on God and the covenant. It begins with King Solomon who disobeys the covenant by accumulating wealth and having a concubine. The people abandon the covenant and no longer worship God or obey His commands. As a result, Israel begins a downward spiral of disobedience and a loss of God’s protection.
After the death of Solomon, the nation collapses into civil war. Israel splits into a northern and southern kingdom. The surrounding nations begin to move in to take advantage of the weakness. The fields become desolate and no longer produce a great harvest.
150 years after the nation splits conditions begin to become desolate. God sends a prophet named Isaiah to the southern kingdom, the kingdom of Judah.
In the first chapter, Isaiah proclaims to the people that if they continue to rebel, God will destroy them. But, if they repent and obey, if they return to the covenant, God will cleanse them of their sin and restore them to be a great nation.
Chapter two begins with Isaiah’s prophecy that God’s work of restoration and cleansing will result in Jerusalem being the attraction of all the nations of the world. A new King, the Messiah of Israel, will sit upon Mount Zion as Lord of the nations. He will judge people with righteousness and will teach people His ways. The Messiah will bring prosperity, justice, and an end to all war on earth.
Call to Walk in the Light
Immediately after proclaiming the beautiful vision of a future Jerusalem, Isaiah tells the people to walk in the light. He says, Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the Lord (Is. 2:5). Jacob is the grandson of Abraham, the father of all Jewish people. God is reminding them of their heritage and His covenant.
Light and darkness are used in the Bible to represent good and evil. God is telling them to stop doing evil and to do what is right. Stop the rebellion. Stop living in darkness and walk in the light.
Walking in the light
What is God asking? When we think about what the Bible says, we think of walking in darkness as being immoral. There are many times in the Bible when walking in darkness is committing adultery and sexual sins, stealing, murder, cursing, telling lies, and doing bad things to people. However, in this passage, walking in darkness is something very different.
To help us understand how they are walking in darkness, we need to look at verse 11 which is a summary of their sin. It says:
The proud look of man will be abased, and the loftiness of man will be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. (Is. 2.11)
They are living in pride. They are the god of their life because they as though they don’t need God. They are self-reliant and independent. They believe they don’t need a covenant relationship with God. Another way to say it is they think very much of themselves and very little of God. The Bible says that their arrogant disregard for God is idolatry (1 Sam. 15:23).
In verse six, Isaiah switches from speaking to the people and talks to God. He agrees with God the telling the reasons God is turned away from the people of Judah. He describes the sin of self-reliance.
6 For You (God) have abandoned Your people, the house of Jacob,
Because they are filled with influences from the east,
And they are soothsayers like the Philistines,
And they strike bargains with the children of foreigners.
They believe doing things their way is better than doing things according to the law of Moses. Instead of being influenced by God’s word, they are influenced by the surrounding nations. Prayer to God is replaced with the witchcraft of soothsaying; which the Law of Moses forbids.
The Mosaic Covenant forbids them from entering business relationships with foreigners. They ignore God’s advice and bargain with the offspring of people with a heathen birth. The problem is not making bargains, but making a bargain which does not follow the covenant.
7 Their land has also been filled with silver and gold
And there is no end to their treasures;
The problem is not having silver and gold or treasures. When God rescues the Israelites from Egypt, He gave them all the gold of Egypt. The problem is the accumulation of wealth for personal use is forbidden. They are not obeying the law. Gold is to be used for the advancement of God’s kingdom. They are using gold and treasures for their personal benefit. They are greedy and selfish. Selfish people are very proud.
Trusting in self
Their land has also been filled with horses
And there is no end to their chariots.
The people no longer look to God for victory in battle. They look to the strength of the horse and chariot. They think they can win battles as long as they have enough horses and chariots. They forget how God made the walls of Jericho tumble. They forget how God gave victory to Gideon and 300 men over several hundred thousand Midianites. They forget what Psalm 20:7 says, “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.”
8 Their land has also been filled with idols;
They worship the work of their hands,
That which their fingers have made.
The people make little statues and put them in their homes and gardens, and they worship idols. They think they are so good that they can make a god with their hands. They fashion things with their fingers and spend their time thinking about their little idol that they made.
The result is the proclamation of Isaiah in verse 9:
9 So the common man has been humbled
And the man of importance has been abased,
But do not forgive them.
Everyone will be set straight. God will humble everyone; from the common man to those who are in important positions of power. God is not going to overlook their sin of pride and arrogance. God will put them through a furnace and cleanse them of their pride. The cleansing is for their good.
The Cleansing of God
From verse 10 until the end of the chapter, Isaiah proclaims what God will do to cleanse them from pride and make them humble.
All the things they think make them special, God will remove. They will realize how foolish they are to trust in idols. The idols will not protect them from the mighty hand of God.
God will reveal His mighty power, strength and majesty. At the sight of God, people will run and hide in caves. They will cry out for mercy and realize they are like dust.
Listen to the cleansing work of God:
10 Enter the rock and hide in the dust
From the terror of the Lord and from the splendor of His majesty.
11 The proud look of man will be abased
And the loftiness of man will be humbled,
And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
12 For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning
Against everyone who is proud and lofty
And against everyone who is lifted up,
That he may be abased.
13 And it will be against all the cedars of Lebanon that are lofty and lifted up,
Against all the oaks of Bashan,
14 Against all the lofty mountains,
Against all the hills that are lifted up,
15 Against every high tower,
Against every fortified wall,
16 Against all the ships of Tarshish
And against all the beautiful craft.
17 The pride of man will be humbled
And the loftiness of men will be abased;
And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day,
18 But the idols will completely vanish.
19 Men will go into caves of the rocks
And into holes of the ground
Before the terror of the Lord
And the splendor of His majesty,
When He arises to make the earth tremble.
20 In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats
Their idols of silver and their idols of gold,
Which they made for themselves to worship,
21 In order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs
Before the terror of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty,
When He arises to make the earth tremble.
22 Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils;
For why should he be esteemed?
God does just as Isaiah prophecies He will do. He humbles the people and then restores the nation of Israel. They cast away their idols and walk in the light of the covenant. The pride falls away and they stop trusting in themselves, but trust in God and walk according to the covenant.
The New Covenant
But, this is not the end of the story. God does something very special around 700 years after Isaiah. God makes a New Covenant.
The Old Testament is God’s Mosaic Covenant made with the nation of Israel. The first covenant is put in place to bring about the new, more superior covenant; the Covenant of Christ. Jesus is the Messiah who fulfills the Mosaic Covenant and brings in the New Covenant which is for all people of every nation and for all time.
God offers all of us to enter into the New Covenant.
Are you walking in the light of the New Covenant?
The covenant of Christ requires we surrender our life to God. People who do not commit to the covenant of Christ walk in darkness.
People who walk in darkness ignore God. They think they are successful because they are great, and God has nothing to do with it. They believe they put food on the table and never give God thanks. People walking in darkness ignore God’s commands. They trust in their self. They work to fill their bank account and accumulate treasure.
Don’t misunderstand. The Bible speaks well of people who are successful and work to put food on the table. Walking in darkness is being arrogant enough to think life may be lived without God.
Every time we sin, we walk in darkness. When we do not give God thanks, we walk in darkness. When God is not our treasure, and we do not worship God as our Almighty Creator, we walk in darkness.
There is a day when God will appear and judge people for living in darkness. Their pride will be their shame. Their worldly wisdom will turn out to be complete foolishness. They will face eternal judgment. In that day, saying, “I am sorry God,” will be too late.
God is loving and offers forgiveness. God is calling people to walk in the light and receive forgiveness in the New Covenant. Realize we are mere men and God is the Creator and judge. We are guilty and deserving of punishment. But, if we put our faith in Jesus, God forgives us of our sin and allows us to be in a relationship with Him. The judge is offering a plea bargain. Plead guilty and choose to give your life to Jesus and God will forgive your sins.
God will not forgive people who ignore His offer of forgiveness and continue in life as if God doesn’t exist. People who ignore God’s call to walk in the light will face eternal punishment.
If you are here today and you have not given your life to God, God is calling you to stop living in darkness and to walk in the light. If you receive Jesus as your Savior, God promises that He will be our Father and we are His children. Don’t leave here today without making that decision to walk in the light.
Are you already walking in the light of the New Covenant?
Most people here are members of the church. And for us, we need to look at this passage in Isaiah as a warning. We must be very careful to remain in the light.
We might listen to how the people of Judah walked away from the Covenant and thought they are foolish to think that, once they arrive and are established in the Promised Land, they are good to go without God. We might think they are stiff-necked and arrogant live as though they don’t need God. How foolish those Israelites are to stray from God after He has been so good to them.
Beloved, ours is a better covenant than the covenant God makes with the Israelites. Yet, we so easily stray from the New Covenant purchased with the blood of Christ. We can be guilty of the same sins.
We walk in darkness when we allow the world to influence our thinking more than the Word of God. Dare we compare our knowledge of Scripture narrative with our knowledge of Star Wars movie plots? Are we better at explaining how to play cribbage or Settlers of Catan than we are at explaining the gospel? Can we recite more Pinterest recipes than bible verses?
Humble Christians make every effort to please God. They never want to disappoint their Father in heaven. The only way to know what pleases God is to read God’s word. The Bible says we are to study to show ourselves approved unto God, by rightly understanding the word of God.
We are not just to understand the Bible, we are to proclaim the Bible and influence the world. We are to be the influence. Be careful of worrying about what people in the world might think of us because as share the Gospel.
Lack of obedience to God’s word is to commit the prideful sin of idolatry.
The Israelites were more concerned with gathering treasure than they were advancing the Kingdom of God. Whenever we fail to be generous toward the things of God, such as giving to missionaries or the church, we are just like the Israelites.
Trusting in self
Walking in the light of the New Covenant is characterized by humility of not trusting in self, but leaning upon God. When we walk in the light, we make it known that we need God for all things. We need God for salvation. We need God for bread on the table. We need God to keep us healthy, safe, and secure.
The sign of humility before God is prayer. Prayer is the number one way we walk in the light. Prayer is continual confession of God as being holy and sovereign. Prayer acknowledges dependence upon God. We pray for strength and our daily bread. We pray for wisdom. We are to pray for all things. When we do not pray, we are walking in pride. We are saying, “I got this.”
Be on the alert. Be careful not to prefer sleep rather spending time with God in the morning.
Prayerlessness is to commit the prideful sin of idolatry.
The people of Israel worshipped things made with their hands. If we invite an Israelite from Isaiah’s time to our culture, would they think of us having our faces glued to electronic screens such as cell phones, video games, and televisions? For some, reading a text message is more important than a conversation with a friend.
In our culture of materialism, our idols may be our cars, hunting, houses, hobbies, politics, and a host of other things. Pray and ask God to show you your idols so you may cast them aside. Be careful about forsaking assembling with God’s people to spend time with your idols. Be careful about allowing our personal pursuits to interfere with God’s calling of being a servant of all.
The drifting from walking in the light to walking in the darkness happens one step at a time. How many steps away from the light is too many steps? How much worldly influence is too much worldly influence? How long does it take to go from being an effective influence to being an ineffective influence? Listen to this warning Jesus gives to the church in Laodicea:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Rev 3:15-21)
MAIN IDEA: Avoid the prideful sin of being self-sufficient by living a life of dependency on God
Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.
Questions for Home Fellowship
Understanding the text:
What is the primary cause of the downward spiral of the nation of Israel? In other words, what causes them to go from being a great and mighty nation to being desolate and weak?
What comes to mind when thinking about walking in the light compared to walking in darkness? How does walking in the light in Isaiah 2:5 differ from walking in the light in Ephesians 5:8? What does Isaiah 2:11 reveal about the Israelite sin of walking in darkness?
In verses 2:6-2-9, Isaiah tells of why God abandons His people. What are ways the people of Judah are arrogant and prideful?
What will God take away from the people of Judah (verses 2:12-18) to make them humble?
God makes many covenants with the people of Israel (e.g., Edenic, Noahic, Mosaic, Davidic). We are now living in the time of a new, more superior covenant. How would you share the news of the New Covenant and how to be in a covenant relationship with God with: a) A Jewish neighbor B) A real estate agent C) a business person?
In what ways may we commit the same sins described in verses 2:6-9?
How are prayerlessness and lack of obedience to God’s word idolatry (1 Samuel 15:22-23)?
The drifting from walking in the light to walking in the darkness happens one step at a time. How many steps away from the light is too many steps?
Discuss why God exalting Himself while making us humble is for our good.