The Majesty of God (part two)
May 13, 2018
Sermon Series: Isaiah: Judgment & Hope
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 25:1-9
Sermon Title: The Majesty of God (part two)
Memory Verse: 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 25:8)
MAIN IDEA: Fear God’s just anger over sin and cry out to Him for mercy, forgiveness, and everlasting life.
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.
Anybody who desires to have a relationship with another person learns to avoid doing things which make the other person angry. We learn not to steal someone’s belongings. We don’t hit people or call them vile names.
We all desire to have a good relationship with God. We need to be sure we avoid doing things which make Him angry. Do we know what makes God angry? Isaiah 13-27 is full of information about what makes God angry.
Think of the message this morning as relationship counseling. God wants to reveal to us how to avoid conflict in our relationship with Him. We are going to learn what God hates. The best way to show our appreciation for God’s grace is to not offend God’s grace by continuing to live in ways which anger God.
In our walk with the Lord, we sometimes fall short of pleasing God. Jesus saves us to the uttermost. But, if we are wise, we will not offend the grace of God and continue doing those things which make Him angry.
The people in Isaiah’s day anger God so much, God says He will destroy the earth. God is so angry that He calls upon armies to march in and thrust swords into people. He calls the armies the “instruments of His indignation” (Isaiah 13:5).
- Behold, the day of the Lord is coming,
Cruel, with fury and burning anger,
To make the land a desolation;
And He will exterminate its sinners from it. (Isaiah 13:9)
The best thing we can do in our relationship with God is to fear God. The Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7).
Jerry Bridges says that a good working definition of the fear of God is something like this: to truly fear God means to be in awe of God’s being and character as well as in awe of what He has done for us in Christ. [i] To have a fear of God is to be amazed.
The people in Isaiah’s time, and people in our day do not fear God. They are not in awe of God’s being. They do not show reverence for God’s character. And, they do not appreciate or show reverence for God’s work of salvation.
God’s Judgment Teaches God’s People to Fear God
Chapters 13-27 of Isaiah’s prophecy is written to teach us how to fear God.
God’s people are to fear of God and look to Him to have their needs met and for their salvation. But, in that time, the people of Judah put their trust in other nations for deliverance and help. They do not look to God for joy.
These chapters are written to inform the people of Judah that Assyria and Egypt are not to be trusted nor are they to trust any other nation of the earth. God tells them, don’t’ fear Babylon, Assyria, Moab, Damascus, Cush (Ethiopia), Egypt, Edom, Arabia, and Tyre. These nations and cities representing the known world are God’s enemies because the inhabitants do not fear God. These nations, and the entire world will face the wrath of God. Their outcome is damnation.
We learn to fear God
Isaiah writes to God’s people saying, “I make known to you the God of Israel” (Isaiah 21:20).
What is Isaiah making known? He reveals the character of God, His ways, God’s judgment over evil. He reveals what God loves and what God hates. Isaiah makes known God’s champion of salvation, the Messiah. Isaiah makes known God’s purpose and plans to rid the world of evil and establish a kingdom in which the Messiah is the eternal king. These chapters are here for the benefit of God’s people throughout time. God wants us to know His glorious character and His plan of salvation. We are to be in awe of the revelation of God.
God is a great architect and planner. Isaiah reveals God’s building plans. God is building a kingdom. Isaiah reveals select pages of God’s master plan. The plans show God’s kingdom work in Isaiah’s time, around 750 to 500 BC, and the plans show pictures and schemes of God’s eternal kingdom. We are to look at His plan and marvel at God’s character and goodness.
We learn to fear God’s power over history.
God wants us to know that He is orchestrating history. We read and see how God’s plan comes to pass. We look at history and know that our confidence in God’s plan is right and good. God orchestrates all things, and God fulfills the prophecy in the time of Isaiah. Because of God’s faithfulness to His work in Isaiah’s time, we may know He will be faithful to fulfill His purpose and plans for the future.
God wants us to fear Him because He is controlling history. King’s and armies are not controlling history. God does.
We learn to fear God’s punishment of sin.
God is serious about punishing sin. He responds to sin with radical judgment. As Jesus says, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).
Fear God because of His determination to punish sin. There is no ambiguity. God is all-powerful. Nothing can stand in His way. Throughout these chapters, God proves that what He says will come to pass. Numerous times we see phrases such as, “I will,” and “declares the Lord God of hosts,” and, “what the Lord of hosts has purposed.”
Along with the many short phrases are more lengthy proclamations of God declaring His will:
- The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand” ... This is the plan devised against the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:24, 26-27; 19:17)
Isaiah proclaims that God’s plans are not formed on the spot, but they are “formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” (Isaiah 25:21)
We learn to fear God’s sovereignty.
God’s people throughout history may read these words and know when these things come to pass, it is because God is sovereign. These things do not come to pass because of chance. What happens in this world is not because of man’s intervention and control. All that takes place, takes place because it is God’s will; plan and purpose.
God’s Judgment Reveals Man does not Fear God
God looks at the heart and sees man’s lack of fearing Him is extensive. It permeates life and shows itself in a myriad of ways. Everywhere we go, we will encounter the fallen condition of men.
The Guilt of Pride
Those who do not fear God are lacking in humility. They see themselves in control of life. They are arrogant and have excessive pride. Pride is revealed in a pompous appearance and the pride of beauty. Prideful people make idle boasts which they are unable to fulfill (Isaiah 13:11; 14:11; 16:6; 23:9).
Prideful people lack reverence for God. They see no need to make decisions according to God’s will. As they live, they do not fear disobeying God. They have no fear that there may be a consequence for their disobedience to God.
For example, being deceitful is against God’s law. When we are deceitful, and we don’t care about the consequence, we commit two sins. The first sin is deceit. The second sin is not caring about God. The second sin is far worse.
The Pride of Ignoring God
Prideful people live as though God does not exist. God is ignored or forgotten (Isaiah 17:10). People do not consider Him or depend on Him (Isaiah 22:8, 11).
When people live without depending on God, man becomes big, and God becomes small. We start looking at ourselves and think we are quite something. We forget we are nothing without God.
God gives us our bodies and our intelligence. May we be prideful in our accomplishments when everything about is a gift of God? Does anyone exceed the intelligence given by God? May we add a cubit to our height? May we take the gifts and talents given us by God and exceed what He has given? Who may say, my eyes and my hair, my smile, and my nose are my design? Who may boast and say my intelligence is of my doing? Who may say I am faster or stronger because I made myself this way?
The Pride of self-rule
The people of the earth are guilty of ignoring God’s authority and doing as they please. Isaiah says that the earth is polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgress laws, violate statutes, and break the everlasting covenant (Isaiah 24:5). When God’s commands are broken, it is because people believe they rule over themselves. They don’t see God as Creator who has authority over how to live life. God is not seen as Judge who holds the keys to heaven and hell.
Not obeying God is the same as saying, I know what is best. I shall live by my rules first and by God’s rules when it is convenient. I may be deceitful when it is to my benefit. I may gossip because it pleases my ego. I am justified in not looking at God’s word for guidance. I need not study God’s word, so I may live a life of obedience. Ignorance of God’s word is bliss.
Pride of self-protection
Pride shows itself in how we try to protect ourselves and find safety. People build a fortress and believe it will defend them in times of trouble (Isaiah 17:3). People don’t pray and ask God for protection. They take their safety into their own hands not realizing true safety and protection comes from God.
Who in this world can build a fortress which will protect them from every evil device of men? God is the only one able to protect us from evil. Who may create a home free from the ravages of an earthquake, flood, or volcano? It is foolish to think we can protect ourselves without God’s help.
Pride of self-prosperity
People take pride in being manufacturers and merchants of trade (Isaiah 19:9; 23:8, 14). People look to the works of their hands for prosperity. They think of themselves as great fishermen or a master of agriculture and livestock (Isaiah 16:7, 9; 17:8 18:4-6; 19:8; 24:7, 13). And, when they are successful, they love to show off their success by living in luxurious palaces (13:22) without giving God the glory.
Who among the people of the earth can take a seed and make it sprout by controlling the rain clouds or by keeping locusts away? Who makes the chicken lay the egg? Who makes a cow’s milk increase? Who stops the tornado from tearing apart the manufacturing plant? Only God may guarantee prosperity upon the earth. It is foolish to take on any endeavor without giving glory to God for our increase.
Pride of ruling others
People on the earth are ruthless to others (Isaiah 13:11). Men capture other men and treat them harshly and force them to work. “The treacherous one deals treacherously, and the destroyer destroys” (Isaiah 21:2). Oppressors strike people with unceasing strokes and unrestrained persecution (Isaiah 14:6; 18:2; 19:20). People are harsh masters because they feel justified in having others serve as their slaves.
When people treat others unfairly, do they not know that people belong to God? As a man whips and beats another, does he ask who gives him the right to destroy what God creates? When we speak critically of others, do we stop and think that we may be speaking badly about people who are servants of the most-high God?
Pride of living outside of God’s judgment
People live life with disregard for God. In Isaiah’s time and ours, there is a party attitude of eating and drinking. People say, “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die” (Isaiah 22:13). He who dies with the most toys wins. People love entertainment which flaunts God’s moral laws.
Pride to be like God
People in the world ignore God and say prayers to statues made with their hands. The people of the world create gods (Isaiah 15:2; 16:12; 17:10; 19:3). They put statues in their cars to make their travel safer. They put statues in their restaurants to bring prosperity. They make pilgrimages to holy sites and say prayers to mountains.
The pride of men is so far-fetched that there are those who claim to make themselves like the Most-High God, sitting in a higher place than He (Isaiah 14:14). People get so intoxicated with their success; they begin to think they are untouchable by the Creator.
How much pride is too much pride?
As we point fingers at the world, do we examine our own lives? How much pride is acceptable to God? How much pride makes God angry? God desires for His people to be humble and to fear Him. When we live with a fear of God, we are pleasing God and we will bear fruit. Our fear of God shows we value our relationship with Him.
Know that God’s Punishment is a Surety
God wants us to know He is to be feared. There are severe consequences for those who do not fear Him. God will judge those who do not worship Him nor see Him as most-valuable.
The eyes of God look to and fro upon the earth. Nothing escapes His notice. He sees the people on the earth do not fear God. They give more thought to themselves and the work of their hands. The don’t see Him as all-powerful judge of good and evil. They don’t see God as capable of inflicting punishment. They don’t see themselves as guilty of sinning against a holy God.
God wants us not to be lulled into thinking that this world and its evil will continue unabated. God hates sin, and God will judge sinners. This truth is surer than the moon rising tonight and the Sun shining tomorrow. God says that those who do not fear Him fall into His hands.
The time of God’s anger is called, “the Day of the Lord.” It is His day. His day of being glorified.
- 6 Wail, for the day of the Lord, is near!
It will come as destruction from the Almighty.
7 Therefore all hands will fall limp,
And every man’s heart will melt.
8 They will be terrified,
Pains and anguish will take hold of them;
They will writhe like a woman in labor,
They will look at one another in astonishment,
Their faces aflame.
9 Behold, the day of the Lord is coming,
Cruel, with fury and burning anger,
To make the land a desolation;
And He will exterminate its sinners from it.
10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not flash forth their light;
The sun will be dark when it rises
And the moon will not shed its light.
11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil
And the wicked for their iniquity;
I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud
And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. (Isaiah 13:6-11)
The judgment of the earth concludes with:
- 19 The earth is broken asunder,
The earth is split through,
The earth is shaken
20 The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard
And it totters like a shack,
For its transgression is heavy upon it,
And it will fall, never to rise again. (Isaiah 24:19-20)
God is to be Feared
God knows those who fear Him. We will look at these chapters one more time and see the glorious future for those who fear God.
God is the Creator of the universe. We are created beings. He is the Potter, and we are the clay.
God is sovereign and holds complete authority over all things. He directs the path of all Creation. He determines the beginning and the end. He directs the armies of heaven and the armies of the earth. The heart of the king is in God’s hand. His commands may not be refused or dismissed, but they must be obeyed fully. All created beings must obey God. God is Lord, and all creation is made to serve Him and His purposes. God made all things and all things belong to Him.
God is all-knowing and all-wise. Nothing is hidden from Him. He sees all and knows all. There is not an action or a word that goes forth that escapes His notice. He knows when He is obeyed or if His creature is in rebellion to His authority.
God is the Provident benefactor. He dispenses good and withholds good at His discretion. From His hand, we receive life, breath, talent, ability, strength, and all that we need for life. It is God’s prerogative to give or not give.
God is holy and perfect. God will not allow that which is imperfect to exist. God is the Judge. He determines what is holy and good and what is impure and evil. He judges all things perfectly. God keeps all that is holy and good, and He destroys all that is evil. Because God is all-wise, He judges according to His timing. He determines the place and method of judgment.
God dispenses all things and controls all things for His glory. God judges all things for His glory. God’s glory is the best thing for the universe. When God is glorified, all things are good.
As created beings, we need to see our place in creation. God is Creator, and we are created beings. God is Lord and Master, and we are to obey His commands. God is Provident, and we are to thank Him for His provision of life.
Because God is the Creator, Sovereign authority, all-wise, all-powerful, and dispenser of all that we need for life, we are to value Him above all things. We may remove anything in creation, and creation will continue. If God is removed, creation fails to exist. There is nothing more valuable than God. He holds all things together and gives all things the energy, power, and strength to exist.
To value God is to worship God. Worship means to have reverence, respect, adoration, devotion, and love for an object. An important aspect of worship is to fear. Having a fear of God means we are reverent of Him. We see Him, and we say, wow.
Those who know God, fear God. Those who fear God, recognize His immense power and authority and fall on their knees. We are to look at these pages and be like Isaiah who says, “Woe is me.” Those who fear God will see that He holds the future in His hands.
When we fear God, as Isaiah fears God, we cry out for mercy and forgiveness. God sees that we fear Him, and He grants us forgiveness and mercy. God touches our lips and makes us clean.