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God’s Remnant

Sermon Date:February 18, 2018

Sermon Topics:Isaiah 10:20-34

Author:Allen Burns

Sermon Series: Isaiah: Judgment & Hope

Scripture Reading: Romans 9:22-29

Sermon Title: God’s Remnant

Sermon Text: Isaiah 10:20-34

Memory Verse: For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. (Ps. 103:11)

MAIN IDEA: Put faith in God alone who miraculously saves by His mercy.

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.

 

As we dig into the book of Isaiah and search through the mine of words, sentences, paragraphs, and pages, what do we find? We find the reward of sparkling gems with unspeakable value. The gems reveal the richness and beauty of God.

Isaiah’s portrayal of God is glorious. God is the Lord of Hosts who sovereignly directs nations and kings. God is the Holy One of Israel who judges sin and iniquity. God is the Light of Israel who leads people to worship. God is the Mighty One who delivers people and saves. God is the Messiah named Wonderful Counselor, Eternal Father, Mighty God, and the Prince of Peace who rules in Zion with righteousness and holiness.

The fourteen verses which finish chapter ten unveil the gospel. The main truth of this passage contains a simple, but profound life-giving message: Put faith in God alone who miraculously saves by His mercy.

Let’s venture once again into the mine of the book of Isaiah to behold the gems!

Faith in God Alone

20 Now in that day the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. 21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. (Isaiah 10:20-21)

In that day is a reference to when Assyria surrounds Jerusalem, ready to conquer the people of Judah. After all of the devastation brought upon the people of God described in the previous chapters, we find that a remnant, some of the people, return to God. They stop putting their trust in false hopes.

They will never again trust Assyria who strikes them. Remember how King Ahaz paid money to the King of Assyria and bowed to the false gods of Assyria to bring deliverance? They put their trust in Assyria, but Assyria attacks and plunders them. After they lose their houses, crops, and belongings, the people realize their folly. They repent. They no longer trust in Assyria but return to the Mighty God. They truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.

Throughout the Old Testament, we see God always preserves a remnant. The remnant is a spared portion of people saved by God to worship Him. God is finished punishing the people of Judah. God’s plan of salvation falls into place. The people learn their lesson and repent and truly rely on God for all their needs. They realize only God may save them. There is no other deliverance. There is no other place to find joy and satisfaction.

This principle holds true throughout all of history. It is true today. People don’t see God as their Lord and Savior. People put their trust in many things to save them. Some people trust in their education to find joy. They get degree after degree but find no fulfillment. Others trust their job to make them happy. The world offers fame and fortune. God saves people from false pursuits.

Friends, learn from the people of Judah. We will only find our joy and satisfaction in serving God. He alone can save us. Only God provides the comfort and peace our heart desires. Don’t put your faith in the things of the world. Don’t trust in anything but God. If you know God, don’t be fooled into taking another path. Pursue hard after God, and you will find what your heart desires. Be like the remnant and truly rely on the Lord.

There is Only One Way – Trust in God’s Mercy

The Bible teaches us that there is only one way to be saved, and that is to trust in God’s mercy.

In the very beginning of the book of Isaiah, the prophet expresses how it is only because of the mercy of God that God saves some, but not all the people of Judah from His wrath. If God did not choose to save a few, there would be no one left. God would destroy them just as He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness. Isaiah tells the people that the LORD of hosts will mercifully save some. (Isa 1:9).

In this passage, Isaiah repeats what he spoke about at the beginning of the book.

22 For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, only a remnant within them will return; a destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness. 23 For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord God of hosts will execute in the midst of the whole land. (Isaiah 10:22-23)

Isaiah often repeats himself. He has already spoken of the remnant. When he repeats himself, he does so to add more detail. With this mention of God saving a remnant, Isaiah references God’s promise to Abraham. God told Abraham that He would multiply his descendants so that they will be as numerous as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore (Gen 22:17).

The descendants of Abraham do not fully understand God’s promise to Abraham. They believe that their Abrahamic bloodline gives them a free pass and God is obligated to save them. Isaiah is telling them that the blood running through their veins will not save them. The only thing that saves them is God’s mercy. It doesn’t matter how numerous they are; God will save only those who put their faith in His mercy.

In the first century, the Jews have the same mentality as those in Isaiah’s day. They believe being a descendant of Abraham gives them a free pass in the eyes of God. In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul states salvation is based solely on God’s mercy and nothing else. Salvation is not as a result of a person decreeing it to be so. Charitable deeds do not save. Our lineage does not save. Salvation depends on God’s mercy (Rom 9:15-16). Isaiah 10:22 is a verse Paul uses as part of his biblical argument that salvation depends solely on God’s mercy.

Ever since the beginning of time, there is only one thing that saves people, and it is the mercy of God. The Bible repeatedly states this truth from Genesis to Revelation.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

God only saves those who put their faith and trust in God’s mercy.

God is sovereign over our adoption. We do not become adopted children of God because our parents go to church. God has no grandchildren. We do not become adopted children of God because we do good works. We do not purchase our adoption. We cannot sign the papers telling God to be our Father. God decides to show mercy.

The only way to become a child of God is to believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. Jesus gives a gift of mercy. He pays the price for sin.

God Works to Cleanse His people

Those who God saves, God cleanses. He finishes what He begins.

The people of Judah lost their way and turned away from God. They put their faith in everything else but Him. They were busy enjoying life and all the trappings of life. All they could think about was their gold and silver, nice houses, having a big army to keep them safe, eating good food from their gardens, and how their idols were helping to make life better.

What they did not think about is their God; the Holy One of Israel. God knows He is the only one who may meet their needs. So, He teaches them a lesson. God’s intention with the army of Assyria is that they strip away everything from the people of Judah until they desire God. His anger intends to cleanse His people from their sin. When God finishes sanctifying them, God will turn His anger against Assyria the enemy.

24 Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts, “O My people who dwell in Zion, do not fear the Assyrian who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you, the way Egypt did. 25 For in a very little while My indignation against you will be spent and My anger will be directed to their destruction.” (Isaiah 10:24-25)

God is Faithful to Save Miraculously

Isaiah tells the people of Judah that God will save them just as He has done in the past. It will be totally by His power and not theirs. It will be a miracle.

26 The Lord of hosts will arouse a scourge against him like the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb; and His staff will be over the sea and He will lift it up the way He did in Egypt. (Isaiah 10:26)

God reminds them of past events. God wants to remind them that He is faithful. He reminds them of Midian and Egypt so that they conclude that if God miraculously saves them in the past, He will miraculously save them in the future. God preserves His word, so we may see that He proves Himself faithful. God always keeps His promises. God is faithful to save in the past. God is faithful to save in the present. And, God is faithful to save in the future.

God tells His people to remember His work in the past. There are many battles God might ask them to remember. But, these two are known for the miraculous work of God. The people did nothing in those battles. In the battle of Midian, the enemy got confused and killed one another as Gideon, and his army stood by and watched. And, God brings to their remembrance of how He parted the Red Sea so that they could cross over, and the sea collapses upon the Egyptian army. God is saying, “Remember Midian and Egypt? I will do it again.”

God’s work of salvation is always miraculous. The greatest miracle of salvation is the resurrection of Jesus. He is laid dead in a tomb, and three days later, God’s Spirit awakens Him, and He walks out eternally alive. There is no mistaking God’s work. God miraculously give us a new heart and a new life.

God’s Mercy is Accompanied by Grace

27 So it will be in that day, that his burden will be removed from your shoulders and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be broken because of fatness. (Isaiah 10:27)

God spares them from the punishment they deserve. They deserve condemnation, but God saves them by His mercy. But, God’s mercy is not the end of God’s goodness. His mercy is the first drop out of the ocean of God’s grace.

Grace is undeserved favor. The people of Judah deserve to have the same fate as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, but God decides to shower them with blessings. God removes the yoke of servitude from their necks. No longer do the people serve their enemy. The yoke will break because they will get fat serving God.

They do nothing, and God does everything. God pours out on His people the blessings of heaven. They will live richly, not because of material possessions, but because they will have the riches of God. They will find all their heart desires. God will be their joy, peace, satisfaction, comfort, and happiness.  

God shows us the same grace He shows His people in the time of Isaiah. Before salvation, sin blinds our eyes so that we don’t see Jesus as our treasure, so we look for other treasures. The world teaches we will find happiness if we buy the right car. We think that if we get physically fit, we will live longer and have an appealing body like our hero on the movie screen. We go on that incredible vacation to find joy in Tahiti.

Sinful hearts distort the meaning and purpose of life. Sinful hearts tell us that meaning of life is dying with the most toys and having higher degrees of education. Glory comes from winning a gold medal or being the boss at work. Satisfaction, peace, comfort, and joy is always around the next corner or in the next achievement.

Before the touch of God’s grace, we are blind and lost as we try to fill a void that is impossible to fill without Jesus. Grace opens our eyes to see and experience Jesus meeting our deepest needs. Are you discontent? Find satisfaction in the riches of Christ. Are you anxious? Find in Christ the peace that passes all understanding. Are you in despair? Allow Christ to be the anchor of hope. Our soul craves Jesus, and God’s grace opens our eyes to the treasure we seek.

God’s grace defeats our enemies and removes the yoke of sin and death. Grace frees us from the captivity and slavery of sin and darkness. We are free from the captivity of sin. God forgives us with His mercy, and He blesses us with grace so that our soul is made fat with the riches of Christ our Lord and Savior.

God Alone is Exalted

God’s purpose in salvation is that He alone is exalted. His purpose in all that He does is to cut down everything which stands in the way and blocks the view of His goodness. The army of Assyria and her king is one of those things that seek to take God’s rightful place. Isaiah tells of the path the Assyrian army will take as they march their way to overtake Jerusalem.

28 He has come against Aiath, he has passed through Migron; at Michmash he deposited his baggage. 29 They have gone through the pass, saying, “Geba will be our lodging place.” Ramah is terrified, and Gibeah of Saul has fled away. 30 Cry aloud with your voice, O daughter of Gallim! Pay attention, Laishah and wretched Anathoth! 31 Madmenah has fled. The inhabitants of Gebim have sought refuge. 32 Yet today he will halt at Nob; he shakes his fist at the mountain of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. (Isaiah 10:28-32)

God will let them get as far as Nob. But they will get no further. Then, as the Assyrians dare shake their fist at the city of God, God takes His stand.

33 Behold, the Lord, the God of hosts, will lop off the boughs with a terrible crash; those also who are tall in stature will be cut down and those who are lofty will be abased. 34 He will cut down the thickets of the forest with an iron axe, and Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One. (Isaiah 10:33-34)

Multiple times in the book of Isaiah, the Lord declares that the pride of man will be humbled and brought low and the Lord will be lifted up and exalted (Isaiah 2:9, 11, 12, 17; 5:15-16; 10:15).

God has said that the reason He is destroying the king of Assyria is that he has an arrogant heart. The king believes it is by his power, wisdom, and understanding that he removes boundaries and gains the plunder of treasure (Isaiah 10:12-13).

Think about God’s wisdom in this historical event. The people of Judah are threatened by two nations, Ephraim and Aram. So, King Ahaz decides, not to seek God, but to seek help from Assyria. The mighty people of Assyria and their king are filled with evil and have no intention of helping the people of Judah. God shows mercy and stops the Assyrians.

Isaiah uses the metaphor of a forest being chopped down by an axe. How ironic that the king of Assyria and his army were formally an axe in the hands of God (Isaiah 10:15), but now they are the ones being chopped.

The people of Judah turn to God. Assyria is no longer exalted; God is exalted.

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 (Isaiah 2:17)

God does the same for us. We exalt everything in life that we think will bring us happiness. God shows us mercy and grace. He opens our eyes, so that we may savor Jesus Christ.

God’s purpose in all things is that Jesus Christ is exalted. Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. He is not only exalted as King but exalted as the highest of value. When Jesus is exalted, He is enjoyed. He is the chief treasure. We desire Him and find in Him everything we need.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. (Psalm 73:25)

Sometimes, we get off track like the people of Judah. We look away from God to have our needs met. God, as a loving Father, disciplines us with a rod and a staff so that we take our eyes off the world and put our eyes back on Christ.

God gives us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), so we may enjoy Jesus to the fullest. The blessings of heaven allow Jesus Christ to be enjoyed, valued, and treasured in the fullest way possible. God adopts us as His children so that we may be in union with Jesus. We are redeemed from our corrupt flesh, so we are no longer slaves of sin, but may serve Christ in holiness. God makes it possible for us to enjoy and exalt Jesus Christ by opening our minds and giving us His truth and wisdom so that we may comprehend His worth.

God makes it possible for us to enjoy Christ in the fullness of time by giving us eternal life. We may enjoy Christ in this life, and in the age to come. Our enjoyment of the exalted Jesus will never lose its shine or diminish, but we obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away (1 Peter 1:3-4).

God’s Character on Display

We began speaking about how when we dig in the mine of the sentences, paragraphs, and pages of Isaiah we find sparkling gems of unspeakable value. The gems reveal the richness and beauty of God. Isaiah’s portrayal of God is glorious. In just this short passage, think about what Isaiah reveals about the character and nature of God.

God is merciful to His people as He saves a remnant.

God is a loving Father to His children and teaches them and guides them with His rod and staff.

God is faithful to His promise of salvation.

God is wonderful (full of wonders) accomplishing miracles.

God is generous with His goodness, making them like a fat ox, as He blesses them with grace.

God is all-wise as He takes the evil of men and uses it for His purpose.

God is righteous in His judgment of the wicked Assyrians who use evil and destruction for their gain.

God is all-powerful and sovereignly in control of all things.

God is of supreme value and exalted above all things.

Put faith in God alone who miraculously saves by His mercy.