God Longs To Be Gracious

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June 24, 2018

Isaiah 30

Allen Burns

Repent Rebellious Children (v. 1-7)

Isaiah 30 is written for our benefit so that we may learn the consequences of living our life outside of God’s direction. In this chapter, we learn what happens to God’s children when they do not follow His advice. How God responds when those who He adopts as His own, do not trust His ways, And, we learn the heart of God toward His children who don’t seek His direction and go about life doing things as they see fit.

  • “Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the Lord, “Who execute a plan, but not Mine,
    and make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin (Isaiah 30:1)

The rebellious children, we learn in verse two, make a plan which is not God’s plan. The plan they made is to make an alliance with the Pharaoh of Egypt to protect them from invasion. They do not seek to make an alliance with God.

We may hear this and think we have heard this before, which we have. We need to remember that Isaiah will approach a subject from many varying vantage points. Each approach provides more detail and insight. In previous chapters, Isaiah spoke of how it is wrong to them to make alliances with other nations. This chapter is specific and tells us that the sinful alliance is with the nation is Egypt.

Assyrians are knocking on the door to Jerusalem. An invasion is imminent. Their way of life will be disrupted if the Assyrians conquer them. Crops and livestock will be lost because men will be fighting in battle and unable to tend to the farms. The enemy will take all the women and daughters to be their wives. All the gold and silver will be taken as booty. The conquering army moves into the nice houses, and the owners must find another place to live. Those who are not killed will become slaves. The language spoken will be that of the conquering nation. Their entire way of life is threatened.

Gone will be the plentiful meals, the soft furniture, and the comfortable lifestyle. If the Assyrian invasion succeeds, life will be nothing but doom and gloom.

The people of Judah want to do everything they can to prevent the Assyrian invasion. So, they go south to get help. Why is it considered rebellion for them to go ask Egypt for help? After all, think of our country. We have alliances in time of war. Is making an alliance such a bad thing?

Israel is a nation adopted by God. God chooses Israel to prove He is God and reveal His glory. No other nation shares in the covenant which God makes with them. The Covenant does not allow for alliances.

God’s covenant with Abraham promises that his descendants will be a mighty nation and that his descendants will forever inhabit the land God will give them (Gen. 17:8). God says the nation of Israel will be a blessing to the other nations. To prove His faithfulness, God miraculously delivers the sons of Abraham from Egypt. God leads them through the wilderness and God gives them nation after nation into their hand.

The people of Judah are prosperous and mighty because God is with them. Nobody comes against the Israel and wins. They have a proud history because God is on their side.

God makes a covenant with Abraham’s descendants so that He is known as glorious. All the nations of the earth will know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a mighty God. They will see His power and worship Him above all other gods. The other nations see how the Israelites are set apart. God prospers the Israelites. They are unique in their customs and dress. Their ways are holy. They are a peculiar people.

The decision to make an alliance with Pharaoh is a terribly bad thing. Egypt is a country whose culture centers on worshipping false gods. Pharaoh is considered a deity. Can we imagine what the Egyptians thought when the people of Judah knock on the door? They must have thought it is a joke. There is no way the Egyptians forgot about Moses and the God of Israel. The Egyptians must have wondered, did the God of Israel lose His power? Does our god win?

The people of Judah commit a great sin. They abandon God their Savior who proves Himself good, powerful, and faithful. And, they put their trust in people who formerly made them slaves, who made their life bitter, and went so far as to kill their newborn sons (Exodus 1:16). They turn to people who worship false gods for deliverance.

What should they do? They need to remember the situation David faces with Goliath. Goliath was threatening the armies of Israel and taunting their God. David steps up to King Saul and says, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine" (1 Sam. 17:37). David has faith and trust in God because God proves Himself in David’s life, so David trusts in God’s future deliverance.

David, who is no match for Goliath, looks at him and says, "You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD'S and He will give you into our hands." (1 Sam. 17:45-48)

During the time of Isaiah, God expects every citizen to have faith like David. They belong to God. God is their protector. They are to have confidence in God because God will act for His namesake. God’s reputation is at stake. But, they have no faith in God, and they forget God’s promises and covenant. They erase the long history of God’s deliverance from their mind. They turn to Egypt, of all people, for help and they don’t consult God and ask for His help.

Their alliance will become their shame, and they will endure humiliation. God promises there will be nothing profitable about their alliance with Egypt. Compared to the wealth of God’s power and goodness, Egypt is a vain and empty resource.

Remember Warning of Punishment (v. 8-17)

Because they fail to honor God, God declares they will be punished. He tells Isaiah to write on a scroll what He will do so that in the future, the scroll will serve as a witness to everyone. God wants His children to remember that there is a promise of punishment to those who do not follow His ways. There will be no question that what comes upon His children is from God’s hand because they fail to trust Him.

What’s interesting is that God still calls them His children. They are a rebellious people. Nevertheless, they are still God’s children. In His grace, God keeps a remnant.

Isaiah does as God instructs. He writes on a scroll that the people of Judah are rebellious. The very words God gives to Isaiah are here in Isaiah 30. He writes that instead of listening to God, the rebellious children don’t want to hear from God. They insist that God’s prophet tells them what they want to hear. They want their ears tickled. They don’t want to hear words calling them to repent.

Isaiah writes that, because they reject God and trust in Egypt, their sin will bring great hurt. He gives two illustrations. They will be like a high wall that has a flaw and collapses and tumbles down in an instant. They will be like a potter’s jar which is ruthlessly shattered. It is smashed so badly, that not a single shard is found. It is smashed to look like sand.

The scroll reveals they could have been saved if only they trusted God and repented. But, they were not willing. God will not be by their side in battle. They will be on their own. As the enemy comes after them, one enemy soldier will chase one thousand Israelite men. Imagine what that scene looks like. That is what fighting against our enemies looks like when God is not by our side.

The punishment for God’s people is not the end of the story. Isaiah speaks of God’s continuing work with His children in verses 18-26. But, before we read that, let’s look at what Isaiah prophecies for the people of Assyria.

Rejoice in God’s Justice (v. 27-33)

Isaiah finishes chapter 30 by describing God’s wrath upon the nation of Assyria. Unlike God’s children who He punishes harshly, but keeps a remnant, the people of Assyria receive no grace. They are a godless people. They are ruthless and have no moral compass. History reveals the Assyrians commit terrible atrocities.

The word of judgment for the Assyrians is severe. Isaiah writes that God will come upon them with burning anger and great indignation (Isaiah 30:27). God will be a consuming fire and an overflowing torrent of downpour and hailstones. God will cast the king of Assyria in a pyre, which is an altar of sacrifice, and the breath of the Lord will set it afire by His breath. The result is ruin.

God will show Himself glorious and mighty. God’s people will see God’s mighty arm, and they will hear His voice of authority (Isaiah 30:30). The children of God will rejoice with gladness and song when they see the Lord shows Himself as great and mighty.

It is cause for God’s people to rejoice when He eradicates evil. God wants us to know, in our heart of hearts, that His ultimate justice always prevails. Evil does not win in the end. Just as God’s children rejoice when God brings victory to David and shows Himself as the One who is victorious, all His children are to rejoice when God defeats His enemies who taunt and blaspheme Him. 

Receive God’s Grace (v. 18—26)

God’s victory over evil is not the only reason we are to rejoice. We rejoice because of the goodness and faithfulness of God.

Verse 18 is a profound truth.

  • Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him. (Isaiah 30:18)

Think about this weighty truth. God longs to be gracious to His children. He waits in heaven for opportunities to be compassionate toward us. When God is gracious, He gives what we do not deserve. He gives us incredible blessings. This is His deep desire and longing. He continually looks for the opportunity.

In this passage (v. 18-26), God tells of a future day of goodness that He has in store for His children. God promises to heal their wounds. He says, the Lord will bind up the fractures of His people and heal the bruise He has inflicted (Isaiah 30:26). God brings punishment which leaves a bruise, but God brings the healing and binds up the fracture and puts on healing ointment. He is the balm of Gilead.

In that day, the people of Jerusalem will weep no longer. When the sound of His children cry out to God, He surely will be gracious at their sound. When God hears their cry, He will answer.

Although God’s children ignore God in the past, God is faithful to forgive them. He is faithful even though we are not faithful to Him. The days when the Lord gives His children bread of privation and water of oppression are not forever. His punishment always comes to an end.

There will come a day when God will no longer hide, but their eyes will be opened to behold their Teacher. God changes their hearts so that they hear the instruction from God. Their ears will hear a word, “This is the way, walk in it.” Whenever they turn to the right or the left, God will tell them to go straight.

The children of God will love Him and hate their idols. God says that in that day, they will defile graven images overlaid with silver, and their molten images plated with gold. They will take their idols and scatter them as an impure thing, and say to them, “Be gone!”

God longs to be gracious. So, God will give them rain for the seed which they sow in the ground. They will have bread, and it will be rich and plenteous. The livestock will graze in a roomy pasture and will have plenty of fodder to eat. Every lofty mountain and every high hill will have streams running with water. Instead of living in darkness, the children of God will see the moon as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter.

God longs to be gracious to His children. Even though they commit the sin of turning away from Him, God will show compassion. God made a covenant with the children of Abraham because He desires to prove to the world that He is good. Even though the people of Israel turn against God, He seeks to show Himself as the one true God. His purpose with Israel is to reveal His glory.

Remain in the New Covenant

Around 700 years after Isaiah, the Covenant God made with the Israelites became obsolete. God enacted a new covenant. The Covenant of Moses is replaced with the Covenant of Christ. The purpose of the Old Covenant is to bring about the New Covenant. God’s purpose with Israel is to bring about His Messiah and to usher in a New Covenant. The Old Covenant reveals God’s glory through the nation of Israel. The New Covenant reveals God’s glory through the Messiah of Israel, Jesus Christ. In the Old Covenant, God is glorious. In the New Covenant, God is spectacularly glorious.

The New Covenant is far superior and far-reaching than the Old. In the Old Covenant, God’s chosen people are the Israelites. With the New Covenant, God’s chosen people are from every country and every tribe. We are adopted as God’s sons and daughters, and we are no longer children of disobedience.

With the Old Covenant, God reveals His glory with Israel by rescuing them from slavery in Egypt and bringing them to the Promised Land. The New Covenant reveals God’s glory by rescuing people from the domain of darkness and transferring His children to the eternal paradise of the kingdom of His Son.

With the Old Covenant, God gives His children the Law of Moses to guide them and give them prosperity. With the New Covenant, God gives His children His Holy Spirit and the Law of Christ which is a law of love. The Law of Christ blesses our soul and provides prosperity of inner-peace, comfort, joy, and great satisfaction in knowing Christ. The New Covenant grants all the blessings of heaven, and we are together alive, risen, and seated with Christ in the heavenly places.

With the Old Covenant, God defeats the enemies of Israel in battle, and with the New Covenant, God shows His glory by defeating the enemies of sin and death on the cross of Christ.

God longs to be gracious to us. He desires that we listen to Him as we gaze upon our Teacher, Jesus Christ. Whenever they turn to the right or the left, God gives us His word which tells us to go straight.

Learn from Isaiah 30

As the children of the New Covenant, God wants us to learn the lessons from Isaiah 30. It is written for our benefit. Here is how we may apply this chapter to our lives.

The people of Judah had the Assyrians surrounding Jerusalem seeking to take God’s children captive. Today, our enemy is not flesh and blood. Satan is seeking to devour us. Sin is crouching at the door. God wants us to remember our Covenant with Him. He longs for us to cry out to Him in repentance and faith. When we do, God will hear our cries and help us.

God shows us what happens when His children look to the world for their deliverance. The people of Judah look to Egypt to rescue them and to maintain their way of life. They want to have a life of joy. They forgot God is their joy. They forgot the Covenant.

We must not make the same mistake. Every one of us has a different way of turning to the world and not turning to God. It shows up in relationships, at work, finances, or how we spend our leisure time. I trust God’s Holy Spirit will reveal to you how you are not following or seeking God’s counsel in specific areas of your life.

We often turn to the ways of the world for our joy. We make the mistake of not seeking God’s ways to find joy, but we turn to alcohol, drugs, video games, careers, music, entertainment, education, or politics for our joy. We turn to the fleeting pleasures of sin. We make unholy alliances. When we do, God promises that, as a loving Father, He will discipline us so that we will learn. God’s discipline and correction yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

God gave us His word as a guide. We also have the counsel of people in the church. God longs to be gracious, but we must repent from not following Him.

We must remember from where we come. We must remember God is the God of our exodus from slavery to sin. He longs to give us the bread of life, so our soul will never hunger. God longs to give us to drink the water of life Christ offers, so we will never thirst. God wants us to follow His ways of righteousness and holiness to find our satisfaction.

MAIN IDEA: Repent from the ways of the world and trust in God who longs to be gracious to His children.