The Majesty of God (part four)
Sermon Series: Isaiah: Judgment & Hope
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 11:1-10
Sermon Title: The Majesty of God (part four)
Memory Verse: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
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.
This sermon is the fourth and last from these chapters speaking on the judgment of God upon the nations of the earth. Let’s take a moment to review.
We have come to know and understand the character of God. He is sovereignly in control over all things. We don’t read these chapters to feel good about ourselves and to build our self-esteem. We read these chapters to know and understand the holiness, righteousness, justice, and majesty of God.
God’s verdict is that men have no fear of God and they are filled with exceeding pride and arrogance. Sin is an affront to the glory of God. As a result, God’s fury and burning anger will bring ruin against the entire earth. In the end, all the rebellious inhabitants of the earth and rebellious heavenly host face sure destruction.
Almost 90% (169 of the 194) of the verses in these 14 chapters are about sin and destruction. Today, we will look at the remaining verses. There is a small number of verses sprinkled throughout these chapters speaking about hope. Although there are only a few, the verses speak volumes about the spectacular promises to God’s elect.
As the people of God watch destruction taking place in the world, they will remember Isaiah’s words of hope. God intends these few, but powerful, words of hope will sustain His elect and help them to persevere. As they see the world collapsing and crumbling under the weight of God’s tremendous wrath, they know theirs is a bright future. Here is God’s intent with Isaiah’s prophecy (the main idea of the message):
MAIN IDEA: Persevere in the faith by setting your hope on living eternally in the New Jerusalem.
Setting our hope on living in the New Jerusalem with Jesus as King, will help us remain faithful when the going gets tough. Faith and hope are interrelated. The stronger our faith, the more joyous is our hope. And, the more we have a clear vision of our future hope, the stronger our faith will become.
Hope in the New Jerusalem
The words of hope are scattered throughout these chapters. These are familiar truths to most Christians. They bring joy to our hearts as we think about the promises of God in our future.
The Bible teaches that all of God’s promises find their yes in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Every promise God makes in Scripture is fulfilled because of Jesus ministry to us as High Priest and King. Our Savior, Champion, Messiah, Deliverer, and Redeemer makes God’s promises obtainable to the Saints.
(turn to Isaiah 26:19)
- Your dead will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits. (Isaiah 26:19)
There will be a great resurrection. There are a few implied references to the resurrection. Most refer to raising Jesus from the dead. This verse is the most explicit mention of the resurrection of the Saints in the Old Testament.
If you have lost a loved one who is in Christ, place your hope on the future day when we will all awake and shout for joy as the earth gives birth to the departed spirits.
No death, no tears, no reproach
The resurrection is not temporary, but permanent. In the New Jerusalem, all of God’s Saints are given eternal life.
(turn to Isaiah 25:7-8)
- “And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 25:7-8)
When God wipes away our tears, we will have no sorrow or pain. The tears are gone forever. Imagine living in a world where there are no tears. No children are crying from hunger. No parent is crying over the loss of a child. No crying because of pain or sickness. That will be an amazing experience.
This verse says God will remove the reproach of His people. The reproach is the accusation of sin. Those who worship God in the gates of the New Jerusalem are forgiven of all their iniquity. Another verse in Isaiah says that the full price for the pardoning of sin is made. (Isaiah 27:9). Our debt is paid in full by the blood of Jesus Christ.
If you long to live without pain, sorrow, and free from sin (ours and others), place your hope on the day when God removes the veil of death covering all people when He wipes the tears from our eyes, and when we stand blameless before Him free of the guilt of sin.
Trumpet welcome to Mount Zion
“A great trumpet will be blown,” and the remnant will come and worship the Lord at the New Jerusalem on Mount Zion (Isaiah 14:32; Isaiah 18:7; 27:13).
One thing is clear from Isaiah; Mount Zion is the place of the future celebration. A trumpet will blow signaling God’s people to gather. It will be a great occasion. It is the end of the age of evil and the beginning of the time of perfect existence as we spend eternity enjoying the unfathomable riches of Christ.
Place your hope on one day hearing a trumpet announce the appearing of the New Jerusalem.
There will be universal worship. A highway is made, and people from all over the world gather to worship the God of Israel (Isaiah 19:23-25). There will gather people from every tribe, nation, and tongue. There is no prejudice on Mount Zion.
If you long to live in a place where people of all cultures get along, and there are no wars, and Jesus is treasured, place your hope on the universal worship in the New Jerusalem.
- The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine. (Isaiah 25:6)
God knows how much we enjoy eating. He made us with eyes to look at food, noses to smell it as it is being prepared, taste buds to enjoy the flavor, and ears to hear people tell us about what to eat next.
The Law of Moses commands God’s people to celebrate feasts. Each feast is not a celebration of what the people did, but a celebration of what God does. God’s people celebrate God’s salvation. When we get to the New Jerusalem on Mount Zion, we will celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb. We will have a lavish banquet.
If you hope to live in a place where there is no hunger and no starving children, but there is a lavish banquet, place your hope on sitting around a great table where we may enjoy God’s provision.
Lord our Vinedresser
(turn to Isaiah 27:2-6)
- 2 In that day,
“A vineyard of wine, sing of it!
3 “I, the Lord, am its keeper;
I water it every moment.
So that no one will damage it,
I guard it night and day.
4 “I have no wrath.
Should someone give Me briars and thorns in battle,
Then I would step on them, I would burn them completely.
5 “Or let him rely on My protection,
Let him make peace with Me,
Let him make peace with Me.”
6 In the days to come Jacob will take root,
Israel will blossom and sprout,
And they will fill the whole world with fruit. (Isaiah 27:2-6)
The Lord will watch over and care for us. We will be the vineyard, and He will be our keeper. Jesus will water His vineyard and will guard it night and day. He will not allow briars or thorns to live in our midst. The vineyard of the Lord will take root, blossom, and sprout, and it will fill the whole world with fruit.
If you long to blossom and bear fruit, if you desire to have Jesus personally watch over you and care for you, then hope for the day, sing of it, when the Lord is our vinedresser who protects us and cares for us intimately.
- “Those who are most helpless will eat, and the needy will lie down in security …” (Isaiah 14:30)
There will be no neglect in Christ’s vineyard. There are no poor houses, no orphanages, no soup kitchens in heaven because Jesus cares for all and nobody falls through the cracks.
If you grieve over the poor and needy and you have sorrow because it is too difficult to care for them all, then place your hope in Jesus. The hungry will not always be hungry. The needy will not always be needy. Hope for Mount Zion, God’s kingdom to come.
- “And it will be in the day when the Lord gives you rest from your pain and turmoil and harsh service in which you have been enslaved” (Isaiah 14:3).
Last, but not least, there will be eternal rest. We are too busy. We are tired. We are tired of the failure of our bodies to sustain life. Fighting illness is tiring. Work is tiring. The emotional stress of relationships bound up by sinful people is tiring. God wants to give us rest.
Do you long for rest? Is your desire to never feel tired? Place your hope on the day when the Lord gives rest.
How should we respond?
All these truths are glorious! They all are something to look forward to and long to take place. But, what do we do today? How does our hope in these glorious truths of tomorrow impact the way we live today? How does our hope strengthen our faith?
For that, we turn to the book of Hebrews.
1) Have faith
- 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old gained approval. (Hebrews 11:1-2)
We have not seen the New Jerusalem. We do not see ourselves seated with Christ at the right hand of the Father. We do not see our sins removed as far as the east is from the west. But, we have a conviction these things are true. Our conviction is from reading God’s word.
- 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:3)
The writer gives an example all the saints may understand. We were not present at the creation. We did not see with our eyes how God made all things out of nothing (ex nihilo) by speaking His word. We have conviction and assurance it is true.
- 6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Having faith is necessary to please God. He expects us to believe what He says. Not believing God’s word is the original sin in the Garden of Eden. This verse gives two conditions. We must believe God exists and we must believe God is a rewarder to those who seek Him. Believe these, and we please God.
Let’s be clear about the reward. Some people object to thinking about God as a rewarder because it sounds like a prosperity gospel message. It isn’t. The verse says God rewards those who seek Him. Think of it this way. If I seek a bowl of ice cream, don’t give me anything but ice cream. When we seek God, God rewards us with what we seek, which is Himself. He is the reward we seek. It pleases God for us to live in a way which we desire Him, want Him, and we will not accept anything but Him.
- 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:8-10)
Abraham’s eyes were not on this world. He lives in the promised land, not as belonging, but as an alien. What Abraham seeks is a city built and designed by God. It is the same city described in Isaiah and the book of Revelation. Abraham seeks to live in the New Jerusalem where Jesus sits on the throne and is the vinedresser.
Abraham believes with conviction that the city exists. He has not seen it, but he hopes for it. Abraham’s hope is to one day, walk through the gates and wrap his arms around his Savior and dwell forever in His loving presence. He lives with his eyes on the city of God and not on the city of this world.
- 13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
All these, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah died in faith having never received the promises of God, but, in the way they lived, it was clear they had faith and conviction in their hope of God’s promise. They sought a heavenly home with God. Because of this, God is not ashamed to be called their God. (What an incredible statement!) God prepares a city for us, just as Isaiah tells us.
1-Have faith in the heavenly city Jesus prepares for us.
We are to add to our faith perseverance. We are not to let go of our faith when the going gets tough. Life is full of challenges with trials and tribulations.
Earth is covered with a blanket of sin and destruction. A battle rages all around us. People today are no different than the people in Isaiah’s time. Murder is everywhere. Corruption fills the government. Our society is godless. People curse God openly, and His word is ignored.
As we live In the midst of this, God wants us to focus our minds upon His promises which give us hope. He wants us to know we are in His hand. He is our protection and security.
Our faith is not in our present circumstances but our future glory. We are to be a people of hope.
- For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance, we wait eagerly for it. (Romans 8:24-25)
2-Be a people who, by faith, persevere because we eagerly wait for what we do not see, but know is true.
We can look to Jesus as our example. Jesus endured the cross and despised the shame because He was looking for the joy set before Him.
We can look at others as well.
Living as people who have faith and persevere shows in many ways in how we live. Some people are better than others in different areas. Some people show they have faith and hope for God’s kingdom by how they pray. Others show by how they give. Others show in how they serve. We may all look to one another and learn from how we demonstrate our faith in our hope of receiving God as our reward.
How we handle persecution for our faith
Do people make fun of you because you are a Christian? Allow hope to sustain your faith.
Hebrews 11 finishes by describing those who have faith and are willing to die because of their faith.
- 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (menof whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. 39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised (Hebrews 11:36-39)
On this Memorial Day, let’s remember those who gave their life for the sake of the gospel. Stephen, Peter, Paul, Huss, Wycliffe, Tyndale, Bonhoeffer, Eliott, and thousands more.
How we handle finances
Watch the story of Charles Mulli. In the 1970s, Mulli becoming very wealthy, with assets valued in millions of dollars. In 1989, Mulli sold all his property and businesses, and dedicated the proceeds to helping street children. Charles and his wife Esther have taken in more than 23,000 abandoned children. All these children call Charles Mulli their father.
How we speak
Those who know of a future vacation of rest tomorrow, do not complain of the work today. Those who know their bellies will be satisfied with good food on Mount Zion tomorrow, do not despise the hunger pains of today. Those who will inherit the New Jerusalem tomorrow, do not speak about building mansions and palaces today. Those with hope speak of their hope, not their present condition. We are to live with such hope that people ask of the hope within us and we are always ready to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15). Our hope does not disappoint.
How we let go
We recently lost our sister in Christ, Sandy Moxley. Sandy demonstrated to us in how she died that she hopes to live eternally in the New Jerusalem with Jesus. She did not hold on tightly to this world, but let it go. Her courage in the face of death shows us how to live. Her testimony gives us strength in our faith.
With Sandy, we think of the word of Paul who says:
- For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)
MAIN IDEA: Persevere in the faith by setting your hope on living eternally in the New Jerusalem.