Revelation, Rebellion, Ruin, and a Remnant

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Please remain standing for the reading of God’s word. This morning I begin
a new sermon series in the book of the prophet Isaiah. The sermon series is going to be entitled
Gleanings in Isaiah. We’re not going to go verse by verse through this entire book of
Isaiah. It is not my intention to begin a decade long sermon series, which is what I
would have to do if we covered every last verse of this wonderful portion of God’s word,
but we are going to be considering various portions of Isaiah, and this is a wonderful
rich portion of God’s word, and today we begin in Isaiah chapter 1 verses 1 through 9. You’ll
find that in your Pew Bibles on page 672, Isaiah chapter 1 verses 1 through 9. Dear friends,
this is the word of God. Hear it with reverence and awe.
The vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in
the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and give
ear, O earth, for the Lord has spoken. Children have I reared and brought up, but they have
rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel
does not know. My people do not understand. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly. They have forsaken the Lord. They
have despised the Holy One of Israel. They are utterly estranged. Why will you still
be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick and the whole heart
faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness in it, but bruises
and sores and raw wounds. They are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil. Your
country lies desolate. Your cities are burned with fire. In your very presence foreigners
devour your land. It is desolate as overthrown by foreigners, and the daughter of Zion is
left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city.
If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah. Dear friends, the grass withers and the flower fades, but the
word of our God endures forever. Let’s pray for the Lord to bless the preaching of his
word. O gracious Lord and Father in heaven, you are indeed the holy one of Israel. You
are the thrice holy God. We pray, Lord, that as we approach this text of your God-breathed,
inerrant, infallible, authoritative word, we pray that your Holy Spirit would open our
minds and our hearts to behold wondrous things from your word. Help us, Lord, to mine the
rich treasure that is found for us here in this section of Isaiah, and we pray that by
the illumination of your spirit, your word would find a lodging place in our souls and
bear much spiritual fruit in our lives. And we ask, Lord, once again, that you would set
a guard over my lips, that I, your unworthy servant, might declare that which is faithful
and true to the word this day, for the edification of your people, the salvation of the lost
and most important of all, for the glory and honor and praise of your holy name. We pray
these things in Jesus’ name and all of God’s people’s said. Amen. Congregation, you may
be seated. The title of my sermon today is Revelation, Rebellion, Ruin, and a Remnant.
And there’s quite a number of key words that the children can be listening for today if
you find that helpful to follow along in the sermon, in your sermon outline. Well, friends,
if you were to ask many folks today, what is the chief or central attribute of God,
the chief or central character quality of God, I suspect that many folks, including
many Christians, would answer that question by saying, well, of course, the love of God.
What could be more central to God’s being, God’s character, God’s attributes than the
attribute of love? Now, friends, certainly the scriptures indicate that God’s love is
indeed a glorious and a central attribute of the divine nature, and we believers, we
rejoice in God’s amazing love and grace that are given to us in our Lord and Savior, Jesus
Christ. But, friends, based upon this opening section of the book of the prophet Isaiah,
I suspect that if Isaiah were asked that question, that he would likely answer this question
by saying not the love of God, although certainly Isaiah displays and reveals the love of God
and speaks about it often in his book, but I suspect that Isaiah would say the holiness
of God. In verse four, the Lord, Yahweh, if you see the word Lord in all capital letters,
that’s an indication to the English reader that the translators are translating the Hebrew
word Yahweh, and Yahweh is God’s covenantal name. So in verse four, the Lord, Yahweh,
Israel’s faithful covenant-making, covenant-keeping God and gracious Redeemer is described as
the Holy One of Israel, the Holy One of Israel. This is a title for God that occurs some 25
or 26 times in the book of Isaiah, but it only occurs about six other times in the rest
of the Old Testament scriptures, which seems to show, friends, that Isaiah had a deep and
profound sense of the transcendent, majestic, lofty holiness of God. God’s holiness is his
transcendent set-apartness. He is set-apart, he is distinct from, he is distinct from the
transcendent set-apartness. He is set-apart, he is distinct from, he’s different from us.
As God says later on in Isaiah, my ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts.
As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great are his thoughts above our thoughts
and so forth. Friends, in this opening section of Isaiah, the prophet declares Yahweh’s covenant
indictment against his sinful people, a people who have forsaken the Lord and as a result
have begun to feel in their nation and in the life of their nation the ruinous effects
of their impenitence, unfaithfulness, and covenant-breaking. You see, in contrast to
the lofty, majestic, transcendent holiness of the God who is the Holy One of Israel,
who is the Holy One of Israel, in contrast to that stands the utter unholiness and corruption
of his rebellious, sinful people, a people whom Yahweh in this passage charges with
having forsaken the Lord and having despised the Holy One of Israel, as we’re told in verse 4.
In this opening passage, the prophet Isaiah in effect serves the Lord as his prosecuting
attorney against the people of Israel. That was often a function of the prophets in the Bible.
They served as God’s prosecuting attorneys to charge his people with their covenant-breaking
and to call them back to repentance and faith, to call them back into a faithful communion
with their faithful covenant-making God. And this passage, therefore, serves in effect
as Yahweh’s covenant indictment and lawsuit against his guilty and rebellious people,
a people who so richly deserve the Lord’s judgment. And so this is a judgment oracle.
This passage pulsates with the Lord’s holy wrath and judgment against his sinful people.
And yet, and yet, beloved, even in the midst of this opening passage of prophetic judgment,
a passage which reveals and displays the white-hot holiness of God and which condemns the unholiness
of the people, even in this passage, there are hints of grace. There are hints of a future restoration.
You say, where are the hints? Well, the very first hint is the prophet’s name itself.
Children, do you know what the name Isaiah means? And if you’re children, you better take,
I want you to take notes because I want your parents to ask you this later on.
What does the name Isaiah mean? The name Isaiah means the Lord saves.
Yahweh saves. Isaiah, Yahweh saves. And then another note of hope is found in verse 9.
In verse 9, it indicates that Yahweh, in sovereign grace and mercy,
has preserved an elect remnant of the faithful. See, even in wrath, the Lord remembers mercy.
So as we embark upon our exploration of this glorious portion of God’s word,
it’s important for us to understand the historical context into which Isaiah speaks the word of the Lord.
The details of verse 1 indicate that Isaiah was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah.
Let me again read verse 1. It says, the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos,
that’s not the same as the prophet Amos. That’s another individual.
Isaiah is the son of Amos, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Now the geographical details that are mentioned in this verse, namely the region of Judah and its capital city,
the city of Jerusalem, along with the Davidic kings that are mentioned in this verse,
firmly situate Isaiah’s prophetic ministry in the southern kingdom.
Remember at that time in covenant history, the people of God were divided into, the kingdom was divided.
So there were the northern tribes, the northern kingdom, which was typically called Samaria,
and then there was the southern kingdom, the kingdom of Judah, with the temple there in Judah,
at Jerusalem, in the capital city, and with the kings who were descendants of David.
And so this passage firmly situates Isaiah’s prophetic ministry in the southern kingdom.
The fact that Isaiah’s visions are recorded in this book cover a period of these four kings of Judah.
That fact indicates that Isaiah had a very lengthy ministry as a prophet of the Lord.
Dr. Derek Kidner in his commentary points out that the list of kings indicates that he prophesied
for at least 40 years, from about 740 B.C., which was the last year of King Uzziah,
until some point after the Jerusalem siege of 701 in the time of Hezekiah,
whose reign continued to about 687 or 686 B.C.
So friends, with this information in mind, let’s hone our attention into the text that we have before us today.
And the first thing I want to direct your attention to are the first two verses,
as we notice here the revelation of Yahweh’s covenant indictment.
That’s the first point in your sermon outline, the revelation of Yahweh’s covenant indictment.
Again, let me read these verses.
The vision of Isaiah the son of Amos, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem
in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord has spoken.
Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.
How does Isaiah describe his writing, what he is recording here?
It is described as a vision.
Now the term vision is a term that often refers to a particular mode by which God reveals his word.
Oftentimes in the scriptures God revealed his word to his prophets through dreams or visions and so forth.
But it seems that at this point the term vision took on a more generic meaning
and indicated divine revelation in general, not just a particular mode by which that revelation came.
So the point here, beloved, in the very first verse, in this opening verse right out of the gates,
this verse which likely is intended as an introduction to the entire book of Isaiah
and not merely to this opening section of Isaiah,
here in this opening verse the prophet claims divine authority and inspiration for his message.
And that ought to affect or impact the way that we read this.
Isaiah is not just jotting down his own personal thoughts or ideas or reflections.
Isaiah is recording the word of the Lord.
Now even though Isaiah, as the human author, he has his own peculiar writing style,
a writing style that distinguishes him from the other writing prophets of the Bible,
like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, both of which have their own peculiar writing styles.
But nevertheless, though Isaiah is the human author of the book that bears his name,
nevertheless, as a divinely called and inspired prophet of God, his message ultimately comes from God.
In other words, the book of Isaiah is not ultimately Isaiah’s message.
Rather, we need to remember that this is God’s message.
This is God’s word.
And like all true prophets, Isaiah is God’s divinely inspired messenger.
A prophet was a mouthpiece of God.
A prophet was one whom God had called to declare his word,
to give new and fresh divine revelation to the people of God.
And Isaiah was just such a man with just such a calling.
But who is Isaiah addressing?
To whom are his prophecies relevant in terms of to whom they are directly addressed?
Now all of the Bible is for all of God’s people.
This entire book is the word of God.
It’s the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
So all of God’s word is written for us, but not all of God’s word is written directly to us.
Isaiah addresses matters concerning what?
Concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
And again, this identifies Isaiah, as I mentioned, as a prophet to the southern kingdom,
the Davidic kingdom of Judah.
Jerusalem, of course, was the capital of Judah.
And not only that, more significantly, Jerusalem was the holy city,
the city where God’s temple was.
The temple being a symbol of God’s presence with and reign over his covenant people.
And he writes this, he records this prophecy in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.
His prophetic utterances that are recorded in this book cover the period of these four kings.
Again, the kings of Judah who are mentioned here helped to situate Isaiah’s ministry
within the covenant history of God’s people.
It is clear that Isaiah’s ministry as a prophet of God was quite lengthy
as he carried out his ministry under the reigns of four kings.
And he was faithful in that ministry for all that time.
And how does he start off this covenant indictment that the Lord calls him to bring
against the Lord’s unfaithful people?
It says this in verse 2,
What are we to make of the Lord’s address to the heavens and the earth?
Why this language? Why this cosmic language?
Well, God, as he brings his indictment against his covenant-breaking people,
he calls for witnesses.
And the witnesses he calls are the entire creation,
the entire cosmos.
The whole creation is called upon to bear faithful witness to the truthfulness
of Yahweh’s covenant indictment against his sinful people.
This cosmic language hearkens back to the words of Moses
that I read for you earlier in the service, back to Deuteronomy 30, verse 19.
Let’s go back to that verse very briefly.
Deuteronomy chapter 30, verse 19.
Where we read these words, as Moses confronts the people of Israel
and as they’re preparing to go in and take the promised land
and he confronts them with the choice of either life or death, he says this,
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today
that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.
Therefore choose life that you and your offspring may live.
Since God’s professing people in Isaiah’s day had sadly chosen death
and chosen the curse due to their persistent impenitence and unbelief and idolatry,
the cosmos is again called upon, this time by Isaiah the prophet,
to bear faithful witness against the Lord’s unfaithful people.
And then, what do we have here?
As God summons the heavens and the earth, summons all of creation to bear witness
to the truthfulness of his covenant indictment against his people,
what does he say? He says, for the Lord, for Yahweh has spoken.
The Lord has spoken.
This language again underscores that this is the sure and certain word of God.
It is not the fallible and untrustworthy words of man.
So right out of the gate, in the opening section of Isaiah,
which introduces the whole book of Isaiah, right out of the gate,
Isaiah claims divine authority.
He claims to be bringing the very word of God to the people of God.
Now what do we learn from these opening verses?
There’s a couple of points of application I’d like to make.
First of all, beloved, we learn from passages like this
that the true and living God is not a mute deity.
Many people today who claim they believe in God, they want a God who is silent,
a God who will not speak into their lives and tell them what is right and wrong
and tell them what they must do to live for him and what they must do to be saved.
They want to invent their own religion, and so they want a mute deity.
But the God of the Bible, the true and living God, he is not a silent being.
No, my friends.
The Bible reveals a God who actually speaks, a God who desires to communicate
and in fact has communicated with his people.
For the believer, that is a great comfort, because brothers and sisters in Christ,
God has spoken a sure and certain word to us.
And in the gospel, he speaks a sure and certain word of grace and salvation,
and we can stake our lives and eternity upon that word.
God has communicated, the Lord has spoken, and he has done so in his word.
Praise God that the Lord, Yahweh, the faithful covenant redeemer God, has spoken.
And praise God that he has blessed us with access to his word.
Let me just, as an aside, brothers and sisters,
have you ever considered just how incredibly privileged you and I are?
We are so incredibly privileged because we all have our own copies of this book.
We all have our own copies of the word of God.
For most of redemptive history and most of church history,
most of God’s people could not afford to have their own copy of the Bible.
If you were a Christian living in the days of the early apostolic church,
you couldn’t afford, unless you were very wealthy,
you couldn’t afford to have your own copy of the word of God.
You would have to go to the synagogue or after the resurrection of Christ
and the pouring out of the Spirit on Pentecost,
you would depend on the apostles and the preachers of the early church
to proclaim and to read the word publicly and proclaim the word.
And that’s a wonderful thing.
It is a wonderful thing to come and hear the word of God as it is read publicly
and as it is proclaimed publicly.
But we have the gift of the inscriptuated word.
We no longer have to rely upon just hearing it orally and with our ears.
We can read it with our very own eyes.
That is a great and tremendous privilege.
But remember, brothers and sisters, with greater privileges come greater responsibilities.
And we have no excuse for not knowing the word and being into the word.
So praise God. He is not silent. He has spoken.
Another truth that we can glean from these opening verses is that our rebellion
and unbelief are not hidden from the Lord.
He knows all. He sees all as the omniscient one, the all-knowing one.
He sees our sins.
And there’s a sense in which all of creation bears faithful witness
against our unfaithfulness, just as it does here to Isaiah’s contemporaries
as the Lord brings this covenant lawsuit against them for their covenant breaking.
Friends, let us not continue to walk in folly and unbelief.
Instead, let us turn to the Lord in repentance and take refuge in the mercy
that he freely offers to us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We, too, have been unfaithful. We, too, in our sin have rebelled against the Lord.
We, too, are deserving of the Lord to have the Lord bring His indictment against us.
But praise God, Jesus, our Savior, took that curse upon Himself.
He died in our place, in our stead, as our sin bearer, as our substitute.
And so we have hope.
And so we see here God’s revelation.
But next, notice what we learn here about the rebellion of God’s covenant people
as we consider verses two through four.
Let’s consider next the rebellion of God’s covenant people.
And how does God describe His covenant people in verse two?
He says, children have I reared and brought up.
Children, I believe in the Hebrew that word is emphatic.
Children have I reared and brought up.
But they, shockingly, horrifically, they have rebelled against me.
Though they are my children, though I have reared and brought them up.
What is that referring to?
Probably what Isaiah has in the background of his thinking as he conveys the Lord’s message to the people,
where it refers to the Lord rearing and bringing up the children of Israel.
That probably has in view the fact that God had redeemed them from slavery in Egypt,
had brought them miraculously out of Egypt, brought them through the Red Sea on dry land,
given them His holy law, His Torah, His covenant instruction from Mount Sinai,
and had planted them in the promised land.
And not only had He planted them in the promised land, He had pitched His tent among them.
He had come to dwell in their midst.
God had done all of this for the children of Israel.
He had redeemed them. He had brought them up.
He had reared them.
But in spite of all that He’s done for them, what do they do?
They rebel against Him.
Now this language serves to highlight the shocking, unspeakable nature of Israel’s rebellion.
It was not mere slaves or servants of the Lord who had rebelled against Him,
but rather it was those whom He had taken into His divine household as redeemed children.
In spite of all God had done for them, they had rebelled.
In spite of God’s grace in rearing and bringing them up as His children,
they had the arrogance and the audacity to rebel against Him,
the very One who is their holy Creator and gracious Redeemer.
Now what does He mean when He charges them with having rebelled against Him?
In what way had they rebelled?
Well, the particular nature of this rebellion is not explicitly stated in this verse,
but as we read on in Isaiah,
we infer from the rest of Isaiah that the people had rebelled against the Lord,
that this rebellion included such things as idolatry, idol worship, and syncretism,
mixing the true religion, mixing the worship of the true God
with the pagan gods of Israel’s gentile neighbors.
It also included rebellions such as social injustice and oppression.
The Israelites were oppressing one another.
It includes, overall, a disobedience to God’s law and a lack of trust in the Lord.
And then he goes on to say in verse 3,
The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib.
But Israel does not know, my people do not understand.
They are willfully ignorant. They do not understand at a spiritual level.
Here Isaiah uses illustrations from the animal world
to contrast God’s rebellious children with beasts of burden,
which are compliant and content, at least for the most part,
and in comparison to the children of Israel.
Beasts of burden, as long as you treat them well,
as long as you feed them and house them and provide for their basic needs,
they’ll do what you direct them to do.
But God’s children, who ought to have known better, they rebel.
Dr. G. W. Grogan in his commentary says,
Here nature serves the purposes of prophecy.
The heavens and earth witness God’s complaint against his people,
and the ox and donkey dumbly, or without words, rebuke Israel’s ingratitude.
What is it referring to when it talks about the donkey knowing its master’s crib?
Well, that is a language that indicates a feeding trough.
And so basically what this is saying is that Israel does not submit to Yahweh’s lordship,
nor do they find spiritual sustenance in him, for they go after other gods.
So do you see the contrast here in these verses?
God’s children, on the one hand, God’s children, think of it,
they rebel, but speechless animals comply.
How pathetic, how tragic.
And then verse 4, God brings his charge into further focus when he says,
Ah, sinful nation, a people laden or burdened, weighed down with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly,
they have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged.
Do you notice in this verse Isaiah uses a rich array of language
to describe the rebellion of the people.
Their rebellion is described as sinful, as iniquity,
they are described as evildoers, guilty of corruption, and so forth.
Dear ones, we learn from this and other scriptures like it
that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
as we’re told in Romans chapter 3, verse 23.
We have all rebelled against God by breaking his holy laws
and by giving our ultimate allegiance to idols,
even idols that we’ve erected in our own hearts.
Only through Christ and by faith in him can we be forgiven
and restored into a right relationship with God.
Have you turned to Christ? Is he your Savior, your Lord?
But does this rebellion, does it impact the people negatively?
It sure does.
Next Isaiah describes the ruin of the rebellious,
the ruin of the rebellious as we consider verses 5 through 9.
And in verse 5, Isaiah says, or the Holy Spirit through Isaiah says,
why will you still be struck down?
Why will you continue to rebel?
Why are you digging in your heels when such ruin has come upon you?
And then he describes this ruin.
He says, the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint
from the sole of the foot, even to the head there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores and raw wounds.
Do you get the picture here?
They’re not in a good way.
They are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.
Here is a figurative description of the ruinous condition
of God’s rebellious nation, his rebellious people.
Dr. Derek Kidner explains that the picture is not of a sick man,
but of someone flogged within an inch of his life yet asking for more.
What does this highlight?
This highlights, beloved, the utter irrationality
of unrepentant rebellion against the Lord.
That’s what’s being highlighted here.
And then verse 7, he goes on to say, again,
as he continues to bring their situation into focus,
he says, your country lies desolate.
Your cities are burned with fire.
In your very presence foreigners devour your land.
In other words, there’s been foreign invasion
and it’s been destructive, it’s been desolating.
Foreigners devour your land.
It is desolate as overthrown by foreigners.
And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard,
like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city.
You’ve been humbled.
The nation has been humbled and desolated
and bereft of its former glory.
Now in verse 7, in this verse,
the figurative language of the preceding verses
gives way to a more literal assessment
of Judah’s current condition as a nation.
In terms of the particular historical circumstances,
the particular foreign invasion,
that is that Isaiah may be referring to,
scholars have often have offered various possibilities,
but one possibility that is quite possible,
that’s kind of being repetitive there,
one possibility that is very likely, I should say,
is that this verse reflects the aftermath
of Sennacherib’s invasion in 701 BC.
But friends, whichever particular foreign invasion
may be the backdrop of this passage,
it’s clear what the result was.
What was the result?
What was the result of their rebellion?
What did they gain by abandoning the Lord
and going after other gods, by breaking his holy law,
by living and hardening themselves
in their impenitence and unbelief?
What was the result?
Were there any benefits that came from it?
No, there was desolation.
And that’s brought out in verse eight.
Now, what does he mean by the daughter of Zion?
Well, this is a personification of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem has been left weakened,
deprived of its former glory.
Again, to quote from Dr. Kidner,
the booth is the field workers’ or watchman’s shanty,
a forlorn relic of the harvest.
That’s what Israel’s been left like.
The mighty nation of Israel,
the God’s people who during Solomon’s reign
had been so prosperous and so wealthy
and so strong in the League of Nations,
now they are deprived.
They are isolated.
They are humbled.
They are weakened.
But they’re not yet destroyed.
Look at verse nine.
It says,
If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.
So there is hope even in the midst of this desolation.
But again, so much, so much for the former glory of Zion.
Now, what do we learn from this?
As we wrap up our time in the Word,
there is one more brief point I want to make,
but one point of application I want to make.
We learn from this, that sin, three words,
write these words down, underline them,
put exclamation points around behind them.
Sin is stupid.
Sin is stupid.
Rebellion is irrational and ruinous,
but as we will see, repentance leads to restoration.
Again, Isaiah had asked in verse five,
why will you still be struck down?
Why will you continue to rebel?
You’re not gaining anything by your rebellion.
It’s irrational. It’s stupid.
And it’s amazing to me how otherwise intelligent,
rational people can become so irrational
when it comes to their seeking of autonomy from God,
their rebellion against the Lord.
The lesson of this passage is that sin is stupid,
rebellion is ruinous, but repentance leads to restoration.
Restoration, that brings me to my final point
based on verse nine.
We see here in this verse,
a faithful remnant preserved by grace.
A faithful remnant preserved by grace.
It says, if the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors,
we should have become like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.
Now what is this title for God?
Lord of hosts, what does that mean?
Yahweh of hosts.
Well, this is military language.
This is military language.
It’s military hosts.
And so Lord of hosts has in view Yahweh, the Lord,
as the divine warrior, the divine warrior who leads his hosts,
whether angelic or human, into battle and on to victory.
And why this comparison to Sodom and Gomorrah?
Let me ask you this.
Brothers and sisters, when the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah,
were there any survivors?
Was there any remnant left for Sodom and Gomorrah?
The answer is no.
But the Lord is leaving survivors for his people Israel
because God is faithful to his covenant.
Even though the Lord’s covenant indictment exposes the people
as deserving of God’s judgment,
we find here in the midst of this divine lawsuit
against a rebellious people a note of hope
and a hint of grace.
After all, though the survivors will be few,
there will at least be survivors.
God will preserve for himself an elect remnant.
And the Apostle Paul uses this language
and he employs it in that famous discussion of his
in Romans chapter 9 on the mystery of divine election
and how the Lord promises to keep an elect remnant.
Even in wrath, God remembers mercy.
God’s grace shines through even in the midst
of the most desperate, desolate of times,
such as the times in which Isaiah lived.
And that should give us hope, brothers and sisters.
The Lord is gracious.
Here at the beginning of Isaiah,
his grace and the hope of restoration,
it’s like a little trickle.
But by the time we reach the end of Isaiah,
that trickle has become a great ocean of grace
that flows out to all of the nations of humanity.
And brothers and sisters and dear listeners,
that grace flows out to you if by the grace of God
you embrace and receive Christ
as your very own Lord and Savior.
May God give you the grace to trust in him today.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, we praise you and thank you, O God,
for your grace and goodness to us.
Lord, we thank you for difficult
and challenging passages like this one.
For Lord, you speak these hard truths
not because you wish to crush us or to wear us down,
but because you desire to restore us.
And so we pray that in your grace we would be preserved
and that we would be strengthened to follow you,
the one who is the Holy One of Israel,
the one who is Yahweh of hosts,
the captain of our salvation.
In Jesus’ name we pray,
and all of God’s people said, Amen.
As we close our time today,
let’s rise and close our service
by singing together Psalm 129,
from youth they have afflicted me, 129.