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Sermon Date

July 8, 2018

Bible Passage

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Author

Why preach from the book of Isaiah?

The Lord’s indictment to His people at the beginning of Isaiah’s prophecy is, “My people do not understand.” God’s people. Those who are called by Him. They do not understand. To remedy the ignorance, God gives Isaiah words to write. We are going through the book of Isaiah, so that we, God’s people, may understand.

We do not want to be among the category of people who God says, “My people do not understand.” We undertake the book of Isaiah because it is incredibly important to understand. We need to commit to endeavor to understand this book. The goal is that all of us may open the book of Isaiah to any chapter and say, “I know and understand this book.” Hopefully, we are all in a better place than we were when we first began looking at this book back in October of last year.

Isaiah often speaks of Jesus Christ. His book is referred to as the fifth gospel. He paints a picture of Jesus which is almost as complete as all the gospels put together. Jesus is King of kings, and He is establishing an eternal kingdom. Isaiah speaks more about the coming kingdom of Jesus than any other book in the Bible. The majority of what we know about living as citizens of heaven is in Isaiah’s prophecy.

There is no doubt that on the road to Emmaus, and in teaching His disciples before His ascension, Jesus uses Isaiah as part of His explanation of how the Scriptures speak of Him. As a result, every Gospel writer includes multiple references to Isaiah.

The book of Isaiah is the Old Testament theology bridge we cross to go from the Old to the New Testament. Isaiah is referred to by name 22 times in the New Testament. Passages from Isaiah are quoted over 65 times, far more than any other prophet.

How to Listen to Sermons From Isaiah

Listening to sermons in Isaiah is not easy. The Hebrew prose style makes the book difficult to interpret. Knowledge of the historical context is required to draw accurate conclusions. But, most challenging is knowing how to connect the dots from Isaiah to our modern-day life. The goal of the sermon today is to bridge the gap between Isaiah’s words and our walk with the Lord.

I take full responsibility for not bridging the gap as clear as I should. I have assumed people were aware of the bridge between the Old Testament and the New. Today’s message is a map to point out the bridges between the Old and the New Testament.

I came tp realize the bridge between the Old and the New Testament is not obvious to everyone based on feedback over the past nine months. Here are a few things that show the bridge is unclear.

  1. “How does Isaiah apply to us when God is writing to people who are not saved? They are a rebellious people who disobey God and follow idols.”
  2. “The book of Isaiah is depressing because it is filled with the judgment of God. When I come to church on Sunday, I want to leave church uplifted. Hearing about judgment is not uplifting.”
  3. “We live under a different covenant. Isaiah is written to people who are living in the Mosaic Covenant. We live in the New Covenant. The teachings do not apply to us in this present church age.”

My goal is to address these comments and questions with the hope that going forward, the bridge between the Old Testament and the new is more evident which will make listing to sermons about Isaiah much richer.

The Intended Audience For the Book of Isaiah

“How does Isaiah apply to us when God is writing to people who are not saved?”

Audience during the time of Isaiah

When the book is written around 740-680bc, the immediate audience falls into two categories, the remnant who are God’s chosen saints, and the disobedient condemned. Isaiah begins by addressing both audiences.

He writes:

  • “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.” Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 1:18-19)

Saints

There are people in Isaiah’s time who God saves. They are the remnant spoken about in Isaiah 1:9. They hear the words of the prophet and they consent and obey. From chapter one through the end of the book, these people listen to the warnings of Isaiah. They persevere because God offers them hope with words about the coming Messiah. Their faith is in God’s deliverance and the coming Messiah Savior King.

Condemned

Others hear Isaiah’s words and scoff at God’s prophet. Isaiah tells of their judgment in detail. When the judgment comes, everyone looks at history and knows the judgment is from God’s hand. God shows Himself as sovereign by directing the evil nations to do His will and bring destructive judgment upon the condemned who refuse to obey.

Audience After Isaiah

The elect take Isaiah’s book and preserve it as part of the canon (considered inspired) of Scripture. After Isaiah’s time, the audience is basically the same. It is book for the elect to know God’s plan of salvation and for the condemned to know God’s judgment of sinners.

The audience response is the same as in the time of Isaiah.

Saints

There are people after Isaiah’s time who God saves. We are among those people. We hear the words of the prophet, and we learn of God’s call to repent and obey. We hear the warnings and seek to avoid the sins of the Israelites. We read about the coming kingdom of the Messiah and our faith and hope in Christ helps us persevere.

We read the words of Isaiah, and our soul rejoices. We believe that all Scripture, including the book of Isaiah, is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. We read the words knowing that, we, as adopted children of God, may conform satisfactorily in the eyes of God and please Him by bearing fruit (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

In Isaiah’s prophecy, we see God’s faithful fulfillment of the Messiah. We witness how the Messiah is born of a virgin, is a descendent of David, and how He is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. We look to God’s future promises of the coming Kingdom with great joy and hope.

Condemned

Those who are condemned, hear Isaiah’s words and scoff at God’s prophecy. They have no excuse because they see how God brings judgment upon sinful people in Isaiah’s time. The sovereign hand of God is evident, but they fail to fear God’s judgment and repent of their sins. People today hear Isaiah’s prophecy, know of the historical fulfillment, and yet they still refuse to bend their knee to God.

Bridge for #1

Here is first bridge to Isaiah. The statement, “Isaiah does not apply to us because God is writing to people who are not saved,” is simply not true. The book of Isaiah is written for God’s chosen people who rebel against the Covenant. It is a call to repentance (more on this later).

Isaiah is the inspired word of God written for our instruction and to encourage our faith. We bridge the book of Isaiah to today by knowing the elect rebel and God calls them to repentance.

Regarding the Judgment of Isaiah

The second bridge address the topic of the many chapters of judgment in Isaiah.

  1. “The book of Isaiah is depressing because it is filled with the judgment of God. When I come to church on Sunday, I want to leave church uplifted. Hearing about judgment is not uplifting.”

Yes, the book of Isaiah is full of judgment. But, if God gives us Scripture, what is His intent? Here are a few truths we may think about whenever we encounter the numerous passages about judgment.

Rejoice in the sovereignty of God

Isaiah’s writing proves that God is sovereign over the destructive acts on the earth. As God’s elect, we find joy in knowing that destruction does not take place outside of God’s control. Imagine living in a world where destruction happens, and God is not involved? We may take great solace in knowing God is accomplishing His purposes in all things, including destruction.

God works all things for good.

God’s judgment is necessary for bringing about the kingdom of the Messiah. Jesus Christ is God’s right hand. He is the one whose tongue is a consuming fire. It is by the rod of His mouth that evil is vanquished. Removal of evil is necessary for establishing a kingdom of righteousness. Rejoice knowing God is working all things for good.

God is serious about sin

Sin is not a trivial matter. God judges sin throughout the Scriptures. The Torah speaks about a flood killing all men except Noah. God annihilates Sodom and Gomorrah. God brings great plagues upon the evil people of Egypt. God opens the earth and swallows thousands of sinful Israelites in the wilderness. As the nation enters the Promised Land, God leads His people to conquer and kill entire nations of people.

The New Testament speaks often about judgment. Jesus speaks more about hell than heaven. The judgments of Isaiah pale in comparison to horrific destruction taking place in the book of Revelation.

It is wrong for us to read the word of God and skip over passages about judgment. We learn we need to fear God who judges sin. Without God’s judgment, there is no need for preaching a gospel of salvation.

Let’s be mindful that the most incredible judgment is found in the New Testament when God crucifies His innocent, beloved Son as judgment for our sin.

Bridge #2

Sermons of judgment need to be heard with ears of rejoicing. We are to leave uplifted knowing we are saved by grace alone, and not by any works we have done.

When we encounter the judgment passages of Isaiah, rejoice in the sovereignty of God. Praise Him for His holiness. Be thankful knowing that, while we were sinners, Christ died for our sins. The grace of God shines all the brighter and with greater glory against the backdrop of God’s judgment of evil.

Listening for Relevant Application

This brings us to our third feedback comment.

  1. “We live under a different covenant. Isaiah is written to people who are living in the Mosaic Covenant. We live in the New Covenant. The teachings don’t apply to us in the present church age.”

God is a God of Covenants

God’s people are always living in a covenant relationship with Him. There are seven covenants in the Bible. Without getting into the details of all seven, let’s focus on the two major covenants, the Mosaic Covenant (the Law of Moses) and the New Covenant of Christ.

All the covenants of the Old Testament find their fulfillment in the New Covenant of Christ. To help us understand the New Covenant as it relates to the Covenant of Moses, let’s look at the similarities between the two covenants.

Both covenants are an expression of God’s glory. Both are given to express God’s demand to come to Him on His terms. In other words, the only way to be in a relationship with God during the time of Isaiah is to participate in the Mosaic Covenant. Today, the only way to be in a right relationship with God is to participate in the Covenant of Christ.

Both covenants have commands to obey. The Mosaic Covenant has 613 laws. The Covenant of Christ has over 800 commands (1050, but some are repeated). Both covenants may be summed up with the same basic commands that we are to love God and love others.

Both covenants demand God’s people be a peculiar people, set apart to God through holiness. We are called to be different from the world by our character and our conformance to the image of Christ. When we stray from the covenant, God calls on us to repent.

God forgives those who disobey in the Old Covenant, and their sin is covered by blood atonement offered by the priests. God forgives us when we disobey in the New Covenant, and our sin is covered by the blood atonement of our High Priest, Jesus Christ.

There are many more similarities, but let’s talk about what is most important, and that is God’s work of salvation.

Salvation is the same with all of God’s covenants

There are many covenants in the Bible, but there is only one gospel. The gospel in the time of Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, and Isaiah is the same gospel of the New Testament.

God reveals our sin nature and declares judgment upon sinners. All people need salvation.

Salvation is offered by faith alone through grace alone. We put our faith in God’s deliverance. We are not saved by keeping the law, by our good works, or because our parents are saved, nor are we saved by our desire to be saved. In other words, God dictates how people are saved. The sole factor of salvation is faith.

God chooses those who will be saved by granting them faith.

Christ is the Savior who provides salvation. There is no other name by which people are saved. All who are saved from Genesis to Revelation receive the unfathomable riches of Christ. All share the same hope of the resurrection and blessings of eternal life.

Satan Tempts Us to Stray from the Covenant

God has an enemy who seeks to supplant God. Satan seeks to destroy the covenant relationship God has with His people. God is faithful, but people are not. The people of God during the time of Isaiah stray from God by giving in to temptation. They stray from the covenant with the same temptations we face today.

In 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Paul tells the church to be aware of the Israelites in the wilderness (different era, but same issue). Paul bridges the New Covenant people of Corinth with the Old Covenant Israelites in the wilderness. Paul tells the Corinthians the their Israelite fathers ate the same spiritual food and drink as the Corinthians. They were drinking from a spiritual rock, and the rock is Christ.

But, God is not well pleased with the people in the wilderness. He lists four sins of the Israelites: idolatry, immorality, putting the Lord to the test, and grumbling. Paul says these sins happen as an example to the people in Corinth. The scriptural account describing their sin is written for our instruction. Paul writes, “Now these things happened as examples for us so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.”

Let’s say this another way. The chosen people of God, during the time of Moses, sin against God and their sin does not please God. Scripture tells us what they did so we purposefully avoid craving the same sin. Those who drink from Christ in the wilderness commit the sins of idolatry, immorality, testing the Lord, and grumbling. We, who also drink from Christ, are to read about what happens in the wilderness and avoid committing the same sins.

In the same way, the Corinth church learn about the Israelites in the wilderness, we may look to the Israelites living in the time of Isaiah. As we read about their pride, idolatry, worship by rote tradition, living like the world, not trusting God, complacency, rebellion, and so forth, and we think we are not susceptible to those sins, we are wrong and we deceive ourselves.

Paul says the temptations God’s people face in the Old Testament are common. Their temptation is not unique, and neither is ours. The temptation of idolatry is common. The temptation of pride is common. All the temptations and cravings for sin are common for every believer and occur in every age.

Paul makes a strong statement. He says, “Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” If we think we stand differently than the Old Testament people of God, take heed. As soon as we think we are not susceptible, we are in danger of grave sin and falling away.

Bridge #3

Therefore, the applications for us in the New Testament is the same for those in the Old. Do not sin and stray from the covenant relationship with God.

Summing it all up

How should we then listen to sermons taken from the Old Testament? We may summarize by looking at what Paul tells the church in Rome. He writes:

  • For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

There are two valuable lessons we learn from the Old Testament.

First, it is given for our instruction so we persevere in the faith. The instruction shows us of the need to resist temptation. We need to hold fast to our covenant. When we sin, we need to repent and return in faith. God longs to show grace to His people.

Some people in the church do not persevere. They are tempted and walk away from God. We may know of people who never repent after being tempted.

God’s instruction teaches us that repentance and faith is a daily pursuit and not just something we do on the day we get saved. It is a lifetime of repentance and believing in Christ.

The second lesson of the Old Testament is the encouragement of hope. We have the hope that God is working all things for good. We see how He works good for His people in the Old Testament. God does the same for us in the New Covenant. We all have the hope of one day living in the kingdom of the Messiah.

MAIN IDEA: Allow the book of Isaiah to instruct your walk with the Lord, so you persevere with hope.

 

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.