Sermon Series: Isaiah: Judgment & Hope
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 8:9-16
Sermon Title: The Lord Shall Be Our Fear
Memory Verse: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)
MAIN IDEA: Regard the Lord with fear and reverence; trusting in His deliverance.
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.
In the time of Isaiah, the Almighty Lord is right to pour out His wrath upon every living person in Judah. The idolatry and immorality are the worst in the history of God’s people. The people of Judah are just like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. But, God withholds His wrath. God’s last word is never judgment. God’s last word is grace.
Instead of condemning the people of Judah, God sends a prophet named Isaiah. The prophet announces the way to escape the judgment. The book of Isaiah is not a book about how God judges the rebellion of the people of Judah. Isaiah is a book about how God saves a remnant.
God instructs Isaiah to announce, “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool. If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” (Isaiah 1:18-20)
In chapter seven, it is the time Ahaz is king of Judah and the devouring sword announced in chapter one is at hand. Two nations, Aram and Ephraim, ally and stand ready to invade Jerusalem. God stands ready fulfill His promise of judgment to the rebellious and to save those who are His remnant.
King Ahaz represents the blatant sin of Judah. He does not worship the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. Ahaz is an idolater who sacrifices his son in the fires of a false god.
King Ahaz sees two nations readying to make war against him and Jerusalem. He does not fall on his knees to cry out to God for deliverance. Instead, Ahaz steals silver and gold from the house of the Lord and gives it to the king of Assyria, Tiglath-pileser, as payment for protection.
Despite his idolatry, God shows grace to Ahaz and gives him one last opportunity to repent. God sends Isaiah to tell Ahaz to trust God, but Ahaz refuses to listen to the prophet. God proclaims to Ahaz that his unbelief will be his downfall; he will not last.
God reveals to Ahaz that He ordains the future. As a sign of His sovereignty, God will bring about the birth of a child and before the child reaches the age of discernment, the two countries Ahaz fears will no longer be a threat. Instead, the threat will be the king who Ahaz allies. Assyria is the enemy who will overtake Judah.
In chapter 8 of Isaiah, we see God’s offer of grace extends beyond King Ahaz. The attention turns to the people of Judah. Isaiah brings God’s word to the people of Judah, and he gives an opportunity to repent and be saved.
Verse 13 is the defining message to the people of Judah. It says:
It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread. (Isaiah 8:13)
To have a fear of the Lord is to recognize the awesomeness of God profoundly. Fear of the Lord is to have the utmost respect for God. Fearing God is to be in amazement and astonishment. To fear God is to be in awe of Him.
What the Bible says about God should cause us to fear Him. God speaks and creates a universe. God needs no counselor because He is all-knowing. He exists in eternity. He is perfect in every way. There are countless reasons to be in awe of God. Hearing about the attributes and work of God should bring us to a place where we are in complete wonder and admiration.
The prophet Isaiah gives reasons why the people should fear God.
Imagine knowing someone who tells us that there will be an earthquake in NH lasting 7 seconds tomorrow morning at precisely 10 am. The earthquake will level Mt. Ascutney, nobody will die from the quake, and there will be no damage to any homes. And, all the predictions come to pass.
God goes beyond predicting the future. God ordains the future. In other words, God is the force behand all events. God’s prophecy is not Him is telling us that He knows the future. God’s prophecy is Him telling us that He controls the future. What comes to pass does so because He makes it come to pass.
God proves He brings about the future with the sign He gives to the people of Judah.
1 Then the Lord said to me, “Take for yourself a large tablet and write on it in ordinary letters: Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey. 2 And I will take to Myself faithful witnesses for testimony, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.” 3 So I approached the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. Then the Lord said to me, “Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz; 4 for before the boy knows how to cry out ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria.” (Isaiah 8:1-4)
Isaiah makes a billboard for all the people to see. He writes on the billboard in plain writing, not fancy characters, but in a font and style that can be read by everyone, “Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey.” Isaiah is writing the future on a billboard for everyone to see. When the armies march and arrive with speed, and they swiftly remove the spoils of war, everyone will know God is the one who ordains the invasion.
Two men witness Isaiah writing on the tablet, Uriah, and Zechariah. If anyone asks, “Did Isaiah write the tablet after the invasion?” Uriah and Zechariah will say no, they saw Isaiah writing the inscription beforehand. There is no room to question the prophecy.
As Isaiah prophecies to Ahaz in chapter 7, he has a son. Nobody sets out to have a child and does so with 100% confidence. But, God tells Isaiah it will happen, and it does. Isaiah names his son with the same name as the billboard. Maher-shalal-hash-baz lives as a reminder that God is in control. The people of Judah may know God is sovereignly controlling the future.
Fear the Lord who ordains the future.
Another reason we are to fear God is that He rules the armies of the world.
5 Again the Lord spoke to me further, saying, 6 “Inasmuch as these people have rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoice in Rezin and the son of Remaliah; 7 now therefore, behold, the Lord is about to bring on them the strong and abundant waters of the Euphrates, Even the king of Assyria and all his glory; and it will rise up over all its channels and go over all its banks. 8 Then it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass through, it will reach even to the neck; and the spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel. (Isaiah 8:5-8)
God uses two rivers as a metaphor. One river is Shiloah, which is a small, gentle river flowing from Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Shiloah represents God’s gentle and kind rule. Because the people reject the rule of God which flows from Mount Zion, God will send other rulers.
The second river God uses as a metaphor is the Euphrates. It flows through Assyria. If the people of Judah refuse God’s rule, they will be under the rule of the king of Assyria. His rule is not a gentle stream, but like raging waters. The new ruler will not put the needs of the people of Judah first.
The armies of the new ruler will flood the land. The river of the king of Assyria will fill the land up to its neck. God will bring in this army, just as He said earlier:
He will also lift up a standard to the distant nation, and will whistle for it from the ends of the earth; and behold, it will come with speed swiftly. (Isaiah 5:26)
The ruler of armies of the king of Assyria is God. The Lord raises a signal flag and whistles for the army to march and they come. Isaiah refers to God 49 times as Lord of hosts. God is Lord over every multitude which gathers in the universe.
Don’t fear men who are kings or captains. Fear God who rules the armies.
Fear God who ordains the future. Fear God who rules the armies. And fear God who casts souls into darkness.
Even though God does much to show He is sovereign and that the people should obey Him and worship Him alone, there are still people in Judah who do not obey God.
19 When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. 21 They will pass through the land hard-pressed and famished, and it will turn out that when they are hungry, they will be enraged and curse their king and their God as they face upward. 22 Then they will look to the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be driven away into darkness. (Isaiah 8:19-22)
As trouble falls upon the land, some people will turn to anything but God for their help. They will consult mediums and spiritists who are dead. They will not look to the scriptures. In the time of adversity, they will look up to the sky and raise their fist and curse at God. But, when they look down again, their future will be darkness. In the end, they will only find gloom and anguish because God will drive them into eternal darkness. Their fate of darkness is just as sure as the incoming armies of Assyria.
Jesus says, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul, but rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
Isaiah’s message is simple. Those who choose to disobey God, disobey Him who ordains the future, rules the armies, and judges the souls. They make a reckless, uneducated, foolish, and soul-condemning decision.
Those who humble themselves and choose to repent and obey God are wise. God loves and cares for those who submit themselves to God.
God plans on bringing difficulties to Judah. Thousands of men will die in battle. Women and children will be humiliated and taken captive by the enemy. Food will be scarce. Poverty will sweep the land. It will be the worst time ever to hit the nation of Israel. It is hard for us to imagine the conditions the people of God will face.
As these times hit, God is saving a remnant. The remnant is made up of the people who repent and cry out to God for help. When God saves a remnant, it doesn’t mean that He hides them in a cave until the bad people have gone away. God saves them eternally, but they are not spared from the grim times to come.
God saves, and God keeps those who He saves. To help prepare the remnant to persevere, God gives Isaiah five principles which will help them in times of adversity. Those who do not know God will hear Isaiah speak and his words will fall on deaf ears. But, to those who have ears to hear, Isaiah’s words will give hope, strength, and comfort.
Listen closely. Do you have ears to hear? At any moment, we may face extreme adversity. We have an enemy who seeks to undo us. The trouble may come on a personal level. The trouble may be cancer. We may lose a loved one. We may suffer the loss of all our possessions. There are many ways we may face extreme adversity.
It is possible we may experience hardship together. Every day we face the possibility of a terrorist attack, mass-shooting, a nuclear warhead, natural disaster, economic disaster, or persecution for our faith. These are very real, present-day threats.
Some of you are very fragile in your faith. The slightest hardship will make you crumble. You are faint-hearted. Please, take this passage to heart. God wants us to be strong in times of trouble.
The words Isaiah give hope, strength, and comfort. We need to take these principles and make them part of our life. We need to practice applying them in the little trials so that when real difficulty comes, we are well-prepared and know how to handle a tough time.
If we desire to persevere in difficulty, we will take Isaiah’s words to heart. There are five principles to help us to:
MAIN IDEA: Regard the Lord with fear and reverence; trusting in His deliverance.
“Be broken, O peoples, and be shattered; and give ear, all remote places of the earth. Gird yourselves, yet be shattered; gird yourselves, yet be shattered. Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted; state a proposal, but it will not stand, for God is with us.” (Isaiah 8:9-10)
Isaiah is speaking to all the people of the world, the remote places of the earth. They may gird themselves for battle all they like. They may make the best plans or state their best proposal for overtaking God’s people, but their plans and boast will be for naught. Isaiah has confidence that God is with them.
Isaiah is proclaiming the same principle which Paul tells the Roman church, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. (Rom 8:35-37)
What is the worst that can happen? According to Paul, nothing. In every circumstance and trial, we may boldly proclaim that through Christ, we overwhelmingly conquer.
In times of difficulty, persevere by proclaiming confidence in God’s protection of His children.
11 For thus the Lord spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, 12 “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. 13 “It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. 14 “Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 “Many will stumble over them, then they will fall and be broken; They will even be snared and caught.” (Isaiah 8:11-15)
Isaiah is telling people not to proclaim that there is a conspiracy, meaning, don’t take the side of the enemy like Ahaz. At the same time, don’t be afraid of the armies of kings Rezin and Pekah. Fear God and God alone.
God is the host of the armies He is perfect in every way. We are to fear Him knowing, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
Fearing God is right and good. It gives us the right perspective. God is our Lord, and we are His servants. When God sees that we have the right relationship with Him, that we are in humble submission to His authority, He becomes our refuge.
The people of Judah do not fear God, but they fear man. Fear of man causes them to give in to the enemy. God becomes their stumbling stone. The way of salvation is so close that they trip over the one who will save them as they scurry about trying to find a way out.
God never wants us to surrender to our enemies as Ahaz gives in to the king of Assyria. Fear God, and He will be your sanctuary in times of trouble.
Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. (Isaiah 8:16)
Isaiah knows great calamity will fall upon the kingdom. He doesn’t tell people to put food and water in storehouses. Instead, he instructs everyone who has any scripture to preserve the word of God. Seal the law in clay jars. Hide the testimony of God in places where the enemy may not find it. They will need the law and testimony of God to survive more than they will need anything else.
We do well to store up the word of God in our lives. The best way to store up the word is to hide the word in our heart. There is no better use of our mind than to commit it to the memorization of Scripture. There are countless stories of people in prison being persecuted who write memorized words of Scripture on scraps of paper.
The word of God is our most valuable treasure. Seal the word among the disciples.
And I will wait for the Lord who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him. (Isaiah 8:17)
Isaiah does not know how long the Lord will hide His face. But, Isaiah knows it will not be forever. In times of difficulty, Isaiah will keep his eyes on the lookout for His redeemer. He will never give up waiting upon the Lord and will do so until his dying day.
We are to be the same way. We may know God will deliver. He promises that He will. God’s promises are always fulfilled. We put our life in the hands of a faithful God who promises never to leave us or forsake us. We are to look for God’s deliverance even as we are dying, knowing God will be there when all is said and done.
Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. (Isaiah 8:18)
Isaiah and his sons are signs for the people of Judah. God places them in Judah, so the people will know God is at work. We have signs we may believe. We have the sign of a virgin birth. More important, we have the sign of the resurrection. Jesus death and resurrection are signs we may believe that God loves us and that there is life after death.
We don’t know what tomorrow has in store. But, we do know God is sovereign over all things. God ordains the future. God is sovereign over all the armies of the world. God is the judge of souls. And, God saves and keeps those who regard Him with fear and reverence; trusting in His deliverance.