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Entries in Salvation (34)

Tuesday
May232017

The Promise of the Father

Isaiah 59:19-21.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on May 21, 2017.

In Acts 1:4 it says of Jesus and his disciples, “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’”  We are going to take some time to answer the question, “What promise from the Father is He talking about?”  There are many promises throughout the Old Testament of the Bible, some of them promise blessing, and some of them promise judgment.  But Jesus is clearly referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Throughout the Old Testament we see at first hints of this promised giving of the Holy Spirit.  However several places in the prophets make a clear promise from God that this day was coming.  Just as people were baptized in water by John to point to a spiritual inward act of repentance, so at a higher level would be the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Repentance is good.  But, if the Holy Spirit does not take up residence in our heart and then also fill us with His enabling power, moment by moment, then the repentance will fall short and our faith will wither.  This baptism takes that initial connection to the Spirit of God and makes it a continual, empowering presence.

Now it is easy in this world to lose sight of the reality that God promises to place His Spirit upon us, and within us.  If we try merely to be righteous without a real, abiding presence of the Lord, we will find ourselves drained of any spiritual strength, and without a sustaining hope.  So let’s beware the trap of only living righteously in the natural.  But, let us live out that righteousness with the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

He promises to deliver

It would be good to read the whole chapter in order to get the context of these verses.  You will find two things in this passage.  First, you will see that Israel had turned from God and towards unrighteousness.  They had become such a wicked society that those who tried to follow the Lord made “themselves a prey” (vs. 15).  It was a dangerous time to be a person who followed the ways of the Lord.  The situation is so dire that the Lord is pictured in vs. 16 amazed that they had been taken captive by sin and there was no one who could step in and deliver them.  We could think that surely Isaiah could be the answer.  But, it takes more than a prophet to speak on behalf of God to save people from their sins.  Even Isaiah himself testified that, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”  Thus it transitions by saying that the Lord would bring forth salvation and deliverance by His own right arm.

This deliverance is described in verses 16-18.  There we see a dual deliverance.  Israel would be delivered from the wicked of the nations that surrounded them.  However, God would also judge Israel and deliver the righteous from the unrighteous within the land.  God recognized that not all Israel was righteous.  In fact, though it is true that the nations persecuted and oppressed Israel, the righteous of the land were even more oppressed by the wicked that rose up from within the nation.  This was not a national problem that could be fixed with a war to end all wars.  It was a problem that started in the heart of every man, woman, boy, and girl.  So what is a person who wants to serve God supposed to do?  They need to recognize the reality that we can easily see the sins of others and blame them for our struggle.  But, we rarely recognize the truth that our greatest persecution comes from with our own sinful nature.  Our hearts betray us and long for paths that lead to pain and destruction.  Ultimately the Bible makes it clear that God is giving people a choice.  You can either let God deliver you from your own sins, or you can reject him and join ranks with the rebels, both the heavenly ones (the devil and his angels) and the earthly ones (wicked humans).  This promise to deliver from our external enemies and our internal threat, both foreign and domestic threats, brings us to verse 19 where the whole earth will fear the Lord when He accomplishes this deliverance.  In some ways our Lord accomplished this deliverance at the cross.  He made provision for our own sins to be forgiven, and He secured for us an eternal inheritance that overcomes anything the wicked of this world could do to us (including kill us).  However, at our Lord’s Second Coming, the Scriptures are clear that he will remove the heavenly and earthly rebels and hand the administration of the earth over to the righteous.  So in a sense we are still waiting for this to be fulfilled, all the while enjoying the benefits of our Lord’s deliverance begun at the cross.

The second part of verse 19 has a grammar issue.  It is not clear just what is coming like a flood.  If it is the enemy then the clause states this, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up against it.”  However, it is possible that it is the Spirit of the Lord itself that comes like a flood.  And thus it would read, “The Spirit will come like a violent river against it.”  In the end both options leave us with the sense that no matter what the enemy does, God has a day in which He will judge them and remove them out of the way.  That day will leave the whole earth trembling in fear at His great power.  We must not forget, in these days when it seems that wickedness reigns in every nation on earth, and holds the reins of power in every aspect of our societies, that God has not forsaken us.  Through Jesus, He has taken up the task of delivering us as our representative champion.

However, verse 20, uses the title of this champion, The Redeemer.  The word could be translated “Kinsman Redeemer,” like it is used in the book of Ruth.  The idea of the Kinsman redeemer was that close relatives were to safeguard the person, property, and posterity of their extended family.  Thus if someone was murdered then a close relative was to take up the role of Kinsman Redeemer.  They would take on the duty of seeking out who did it and getting justice.  In Ruth the issue is more about property and posterity.  Ruth had married an Israelite who had sold his land and moved to Moab because of famine.  When she comes to Israel, she is technically heir to his property, but doesn’t have the money to redeem it (buy it back).  Not only this but, they had no children before her husband died.  Thus his name or lineage was in danger of dying out.  Thus the story is about Ruth asking Boaz to be a Kinsman Redeemer to her.  He does this by marrying Ruth and restoring both her property and her posterity.  This gives us background to why Jesus becomes a human.  It is so that he can be our Kinsman redeemer.  He is one of us.  We are all under the threat of death due to our sins.  We have been plundered of all our inheritance that God has intended for us and are spiritually childless.  However, Jesus steps in and takes those who turn from transgression (vs. 20) as a bride.  In Him we now have eternal life, an eternal inheritance and an eternal posterity.  The deliverance is not just from external enemies, but also from a plight of powerlessness that have brought upon our self through sin.  In Jesus, all that the devil has done to spoil God’s kingdom is overturned for those who “turn from transgression.”  So the promise of deliverance is not to the wicked, but to those who are like Ruth.  They long to take their place in God’s kingdom but are powerless to do so.  These he buys back from their sin and its consequence of death.  These He redeems.

He promises a covenant with the redeemed

Verse 21 states that the Lord will make a covenant with those who are being redeemed.  This is clearly a covenant that is different from the covenant that God made through Moses.  This is why the Bible is divided into the Old Testament (or Covenant) and a New Testament (or Covenant).  The promise/covenant is basically God’s Holy Spirit.  The same Spirit, that was upon Isaiah in order to reveal to Israel the Word of God, would be upon all those who are spiritually descended from him, or have the same faith as him.  I say this because Jesus points out this line of argument in John 8, where the crowd in Jerusalem thought they were protected because they were Abraham’s children.  Jesus challenges this assertion and points out that they are nothing like Abraham.  If they were truly Abraham’s children then they would have rejoiced to see Jesus and embraced him.  But, they were nothing like Abraham.  They were like their true father the devil.  The point is not that Jesus thinks that they are biologically from the devil.  Rather, they may be biologically children of Abraham, but they are spiritually children of the devil.  They have turned their back on their earthly and heavenly father, and chosen to identify with an evil, fallen father.  So too in this passage, the descendants are not just biological descendants.  Yes, parents must endeavor to raise up their biological children to also become their spiritual children.  But, what is God’s promise to these descendants?  The Spirit of God will be upon them and fill their mouths with God’s Word.

It is important to recognize both aspects.  We are intended to walk daily with the Holy Spirit upon our life and filling our mouth with God’s Word.  This daily communion with the Spirit and this daily filling of our heart and mind with God’s thoughts and decrees is a promise that God has made available for us.  So the question is, “Are you spiritually a descendant of those who believed on Jesus, and if so, are you walking in harmony with God’s Spirit?”  May God help us to reject this world’s encouragement to pursue the things of the flesh and thereby losing the precious communion and empowering that He has for us.

Not only would the Spirit be in their life, but it would not be a momentary thing.  In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit only came upon certain individuals and only at certain times.  Thus the Holy Spirit’s presence was an uncommon event that came upon uncommon people at uncommon times.  This promise is that the Holy Spirit would become the common experience of the common, righteous person, without end.  It is this promise that enables us to live in a world surrounded by the unrighteous (both spiritual and natural), wrestle with our internal, fleshly nature, and be victorious.  Jesus not only overcame the world, but He enables us to overcome the world.  By the Holy Spirit we can go into our heart and mind and recognize the areas that need to be let go and the areas that need to be built up.  He can free us even from that inner unrighteousness that seeks to overcome us.  In Christ we are more than victorious over our own sin-problem.  We are enabled to be rescuers of others.  Let’s ask God for this promise each and every day.  Let’s seek the help of the Holy Spirit for our battles both internal and external.

Promise of the Father audio

Tuesday
May232017

The Promise of the Father

Isaiah 59:19-21.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on May 21, 2017.

In Acts 1:4 it says of Jesus and his disciples, “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’”  We are going to take some time to answer the question, “What promise from the Father is He talking about?”  There are many promises throughout the Old Testament of the Bible, some of them promise blessing, and some of them promise judgment.  But Jesus is clearly referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Throughout the Old Testament we see at first hints of this promised giving of the Holy Spirit.  However several places in the prophets make a clear promise from God that this day was coming.  Just as people were baptized in water by John to point to a spiritual inward act of repentance, so at a higher level would be the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Repentance is good.  But, if the Holy Spirit does not take up residence in our heart and then also fill us with His enabling power, moment by moment, then the repentance will fall short and our faith will wither.  This baptism takes that initial connection to the Spirit of God and makes it a continual, empowering presence.

Now it is easy in this world to lose sight of the reality that God promises to place His Spirit upon us, and within us.  If we try merely to be righteous without a real, abiding presence of the Lord, we will find ourselves drained of any spiritual strength, and without a sustaining hope.  So let’s beware the trap of only living righteously in the natural.  But, let us live out that righteousness with the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

He promises to deliver

It would be good to read the whole chapter in order to get the context of these verses.  You will find two things in this passage.  First, you will see that Israel had turned from God and towards unrighteousness.  They had become such a wicked society that those who tried to follow the Lord made “themselves a prey” (vs. 15).  It was a dangerous time to be a person who followed the ways of the Lord.  The situation is so dire that the Lord is pictured in vs. 16 amazed that they had been taken captive by sin and there was no one who could step in and deliver them.  We could think that surely Isaiah could be the answer.  But, it takes more than a prophet to speak on behalf of God to save people from their sins.  Even Isaiah himself testified that, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”  Thus it transitions by saying that the Lord would bring forth salvation and deliverance by His own right arm.

This deliverance is described in verses 16-18.  There we see a dual deliverance.  Israel would be delivered from the wicked of the nations that surrounded them.  However, God would also judge Israel and deliver the righteous from the unrighteous within the land.  God recognized that not all Israel was righteous.  In fact, though it is true that the nations persecuted and oppressed Israel, the righteous of the land were even more oppressed by the wicked that rose up from within the nation.  This was not a national problem that could be fixed with a war to end all wars.  It was a problem that started in the heart of every man, woman, boy, and girl.  So what is a person who wants to serve God supposed to do?  They need to recognize the reality that we can easily see the sins of others and blame them for our struggle.  But, we rarely recognize the truth that our greatest persecution comes from with our own sinful nature.  Our hearts betray us and long for paths that lead to pain and destruction.  Ultimately the Bible makes it clear that God is giving people a choice.  You can either let God deliver you from your own sins, or you can reject him and join ranks with the rebels, both the heavenly ones (the devil and his angels) and the earthly ones (wicked humans).  This promise to deliver from our external enemies and our internal threat, both foreign and domestic threats, brings us to verse 19 where the whole earth will fear the Lord when He accomplishes this deliverance.  In some ways our Lord accomplished this deliverance at the cross.  He made provision for our own sins to be forgiven, and He secured for us an eternal inheritance that overcomes anything the wicked of this world could do to us (including kill us).  However, at our Lord’s Second Coming, the Scriptures are clear that he will remove the heavenly and earthly rebels and hand the administration of the earth over to the righteous.  So in a sense we are still waiting for this to be fulfilled, all the while enjoying the benefits of our Lord’s deliverance begun at the cross.

The second part of verse 19 has a grammar issue.  It is not clear just what is coming like a flood.  If it is the enemy then the clause states this, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up against it.”  However, it is possible that it is the Spirit of the Lord itself that comes like a flood.  And thus it would read, “The Spirit will come like a violent river against it.”  In the end both options leave us with the sense that no matter what the enemy does, God has a day in which He will judge them and remove them out of the way.  That day will leave the whole earth trembling in fear at His great power.  We must not forget, in these days when it seems that wickedness reigns in every nation on earth, and holds the reins of power in every aspect of our societies, that God has not forsaken us.  Through Jesus, He has taken up the task of delivering us as our representative champion.

However, verse 20, uses the title of this champion, The Redeemer.  The word could be translated “Kinsman Redeemer,” like it is used in the book of Ruth.  The idea of the Kinsman redeemer was that close relatives were to safeguard the person, property, and posterity of their extended family.  Thus if someone was murdered then a close relative was to take up the role of Kinsman Redeemer.  They would take on the duty of seeking out who did it and getting justice.  In Ruth the issue is more about property and posterity.  Ruth had married an Israelite who had sold his land and moved to Moab because of famine.  When she comes to Israel, she is technically heir to his property, but doesn’t have the money to redeem it (buy it back).  Not only this but, they had no children before her husband died.  Thus his name or lineage was in danger of dying out.  Thus the story is about Ruth asking Boaz to be a Kinsman Redeemer to her.  He does this by marrying Ruth and restoring both her property and her posterity.  This gives us background to why Jesus becomes a human.  It is so that he can be our Kinsman redeemer.  He is one of us.  We are all under the threat of death due to our sins.  We have been plundered of all our inheritance that God has intended for us and are spiritually childless.  However, Jesus steps in and takes those who turn from transgression (vs. 20) as a bride.  In Him we now have eternal life, an eternal inheritance and an eternal posterity.  The deliverance is not just from external enemies, but also from a plight of powerlessness that have brought upon our self through sin.  In Jesus, all that the devil has done to spoil God’s kingdom is overturned for those who “turn from transgression.”  So the promise of deliverance is not to the wicked, but to those who are like Ruth.  They long to take their place in God’s kingdom but are powerless to do so.  These he buys back from their sin and its consequence of death.  These He redeems.

He promises a covenant with the redeemed

Verse 21 states that the Lord will make a covenant with those who are being redeemed.  This is clearly a covenant that is different from the covenant that God made through Moses.  This is why the Bible is divided into the Old Testament (or Covenant) and a New Testament (or Covenant).  The promise/covenant is basically God’s Holy Spirit.  The same Spirit, that was upon Isaiah in order to reveal to Israel the Word of God, would be upon all those who are spiritually descended from him, or have the same faith as him.  I say this because Jesus points out this line of argument in John 8, where the crowd in Jerusalem thought they were protected because they were Abraham’s children.  Jesus challenges this assertion and points out that they are nothing like Abraham.  If they were truly Abraham’s children then they would have rejoiced to see Jesus and embraced him.  But, they were nothing like Abraham.  They were like their true father the devil.  The point is not that Jesus thinks that they are biologically from the devil.  Rather, they may be biologically children of Abraham, but they are spiritually children of the devil.  They have turned their back on their earthly and heavenly father, and chosen to identify with an evil, fallen father.  So too in this passage, the descendants are not just biological descendants.  Yes, parents must endeavor to raise up their biological children to also become their spiritual children.  But, what is God’s promise to these descendants?  The Spirit of God will be upon them and fill their mouths with God’s Word.

It is important to recognize both aspects.  We are intended to walk daily with the Holy Spirit upon our life and filling our mouth with God’s Word.  This daily communion with the Spirit and this daily filling of our heart and mind with God’s thoughts and decrees is a promise that God has made available for us.  So the question is, “Are you spiritually a descendant of those who believed on Jesus, and if so, are you walking in harmony with God’s Spirit?”  May God help us to reject this world’s encouragement to pursue the things of the flesh and thereby losing the precious communion and empowering that He has for us.

Not only would the Spirit be in their life, but it would not be a momentary thing.  In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit only came upon certain individuals and only at certain times.  Thus the Holy Spirit’s presence was an uncommon event that came upon uncommon people at uncommon times.  This promise is that the Holy Spirit would become the common experience of the common, righteous person, without end.  It is this promise that enables us to live in a world surrounded by the unrighteous (both spiritual and natural), wrestle with our internal, fleshly nature, and be victorious.  Jesus not only overcame the world, but He enables us to overcome the world.  By the Holy Spirit we can go into our heart and mind and recognize the areas that need to be let go and the areas that need to be built up.  He can free us even from that inner unrighteousness that seeks to overcome us.  In Christ we are more than victorious over our own sin-problem.  We are enabled to be rescuers of others.  Let’s ask God for this promise each and every day.  Let’s seek the help of the Holy Spirit for our battles both internal and external.

Tuesday
Apr182017

Jesus, The Suffering Servant

Isaiah 53:1-12.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on Resurrection Sunday, April 16, 2017.

The death and the resurrection of Jesus is one of the most substantiated facts from ancient history.  So generally it is not because of the facts that people reject its veracity.  On one hand it seems impossible to our minds, especially in this modern age.  On the other hand, if it is true, then I would have to admit that I am a sinner and guilty before a holy and just God.  Thus this moral claim upon a person’s life is not always acceptable. 

Written about 700 years before the life of Jesus, our passage today is mid-stream in a series of visions and revelations that God gave to Isaiah.  The truth that Isaiah reveals was and still remains a shocking thing regarding the Messiah.  The Messiah was to be the Anointed One that God would send to save Israel and eventually the whole world.  Israel had been waiting for this heaven sent savior and had given lip service to the promise since at least 700 years before Isaiah.  Thus Isaiah makes several things clear:

  • God would be faithful to send the Messiah.
  • But Israel would not be faithful to receive Him.

The story doesn’t end there because God always has the last word.  Thus the unjust death of Jesus becomes the means by which we can be saved from our sins, and even more, that we can become the children of God.  Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Yes, Jesus would be rejected.  But our Lord’s acceptance of this rejection becomes the very demonstration of God’s love for us.  He cares even for the sinner, and makes a way back to Him for those who will yield to the graceful drawing of the actions of His Son and the work of His Holy Spirit.  So let’s look at this passage in Isaiah 53, where we see God’s Anointed One coming forth as the Suffering Servant.

His Life, vs. 1-4

Isaiah starts out verse 1 with the question, “Who has believed our report?”  This question is somewhat rhetorical. The rejection of Jesus makes sense when we see it on the backdrop of the lives of the prophets who predicted his coming.  They were generally rejected during their lives and many times killed by the leaders of Israel.  Later, after their word proved to be true, they honored them as prophets and kept their words.  This highlights a strange tension within us as humans.  We want a word from God, but we tend not to like what we hear.  So there has been an ever-present conundrum that God is faithful to speak and reveal Himself to mankind, but our flesh tends to push back against what He has to say.  There is a sense of frustration in Isaiah as he opens up this passage.  He has an unbelievable revelation to make clear to His people.  Yes, the Messiah would come, but we will mistreat Him and put Him to death.  Jesus came as the final word of God before Judgment Day.  Christians carry on this tradition of speaking this final word to the rest of the nations.  Here we too see a somewhat stormy welcome.  So let’s face the reality that our natural self doesn’t want to believe the message of Jesus.  We need to have our eyes and ears opened spiritually before we can see who Jesus really is.

In verse 2 Isaiah uses the image of a tender plant growing out of a hardened desert.  This spiritual imagery shows Israel to be a place devoid of any moisture.  Typically it is strong, prickly plants that can endure in such harsh environments.  However, the Messiah would be like a tender plant.  Somehow it miraculously grows in this harsh environment.  He is not what they expected.  He was humble, gentle, and not on the warpath against Rome.  Or, at least, he wasn’t in the way they expected.  Even today we must recognize that Jesus is not what most people are looking for.  We want something that changes the world and its systems they way that we want it, rather than a humble, gentle Jesus.

Isaiah goes on to point out that the Messiah would be without physical attractiveness.  One of the weaknesses of mankind is that we are easily drawn by that which is outwardly extraordinary.  We want to be on the team of the powerful athlete, the savvy business person, or the beautiful and glamorous of this world.  This is not meant to be a slam against those who find themselves to be powerful and beautiful externally.  Rather, it is a recognition of how easily we are seduced by that which is beautiful on the outside, and yet, a world of horrors on the inside.    We are often seduced by that which is strong and powerful on the outside, and yet, filled with every weakness imaginable on the inside.  So don’t get Isaiah wrong.  Jesus is strong and beautiful, powerful and desirable.  But these were all internal virtues.   God was not sending a Greek demi-god to wow the crowds and win them over through external, fleshly means.  God refuses to seduce mankind, or deceive mankind into following Him.  He presents the Messiah in a way that stands all the hopes of our flesh on their head, and forces us to turn away from them.  Of course, Satan and the world that he controls has no problem manipulating us in these ways.

Then Isaiah says that the Messiah would be a man of sorrow from whom we hide.  Jesus technically held the rights to the throne of Israel and the throne of heaven, and yet, he would live a life of sorrows.  He would know the sorrow of a leader trying to help his people, who refuse to be helped.  He would know the sorrow of a teacher trying to teach students, who refuse to be taught.  He would know the sorrow of a rich man whose wealth and power could not fix the problem.  He would know the sorrow of the poor man who has nowhere to lay his head.  He would know the sorrow of an innocent man unjustly maligned by people with wicked intentions.  When someone is being executed, you tend to keep your distance from them.  Thus when Jesus is seized and crucified, all those who claimed to follow Him hid their faces from Him.  The cross and the resurrected savior that God offers us can only appeal to our souls.  No one gets excited about picking up a cross and following Jesus.  If we are to do so, it will be because our inner man is made aware who He is.

Lastly in this section, Isaiah points out that the Messiah would look more like God is against Him rather than for Him.  To those who rejected Him, the death of Jesus would serve as proof that God was not on his side.  They believed that they were being used of God to strike this blaspheming heretic down.  There is no way that God would allow the Messiah to be killed.  However, not only in Isaiah 53, but many other places like Daniel 9:26, we are told that the Messiah would be executed.  And so, the sign of the cross and what happened on it, the picture of Jesus as he goes into the grave, each of these are abhorrent to our flesh and something that we will seek to avoid at all costs.  Yet, verse 4 also has a change to it.  Yes, he is a man of sorrows.  But, he is bearing “our” grief, and carrying “our” sorrows.  If you have ever felt like God doesn’t understand your grief and sorrow, you only have to look to Jesus and quickly you will see that He more than understands it.  He has done more than just join us in our grief and sorrow.  Even more, he dove headlong into it, and that is what scares us about Jesus.  Our flesh does not want to follow Him, but our spirit knows that he is the only way.

His Death, vs. 5-9

In verse 5 Isaiah moves to talk about the death of this Suffering Servant that God would send.  Verses 4-6 have two sides to them.  First is the aspect that this is happening because of our sins.  He is wounded because of our transgressions, and bruised because of our iniquities.  The Lord has laid on Him all of our iniquities.  In our pride we are tempted to reject such a message.  But if we think that we have been good enough, or that somehow we should be acceptable to God on our own merits, then recognize just who it is you are arguing with (i.e. God).  Can you really win an argument with Him?  Are you not just holding up a pretense to Him in hopes that He won’t see through it?  We only need to read the words of Jesus in the New Testament in order to recognize that even the best of us fall short, and that we are sinners in the end.  We want to redefine sin so that we can tell ourselves that we are good.  But that kind of logical magic will not work when we stand before our Maker.

The second side to verses 4-6 is that his death is for our benefit.  Yes, it is because of our sins, but it is also for taking our sins away from us.  Yes, he is wounded for our sins, but so that we may be healed from their wound.  This word “healed” in verse 5 applies to both physical and spiritual things.  It is a healing of everything that is wrong with us.  Yes, in the garden, a spiritual entity (the devil) tricked our ancestors into rebellion against God, and so has inflicted the wound of sin upon all mankind.  But, in Jesus God has provided for the healing of our lives, both between each other, and with Him.  God would rather do what Jesus did than let us die with an eternal wound.  He has provided for your healing in every way.

The sheep imagery in verses 6 and 7 is important because Jesus is the Lamb of God who is being offered as a sacrifice for our sins (vs. 10).  But, he does so without protest.  In a world that rages against the authorities and demands justice, as we dictate, before God, there is Jesus.  This tender lamb is not just being sacrificed against his will and over the top of his bleating protest.  Rather, in a surreal manner, he unflinchingly takes the bitter pill and puts his faith in this plan of salvation.  He is not silent because he is broken and knows it will do no good to protest, like some kind of Hebrew Socrates standing before the men of Athens.  Rather, he is silent because this is his plan and his heart.  This is why he came down from heaven and took on flesh, to do this for us, to save us.  He is not sitting aloof in the heavens, untouched by the things that ail us.  Instead, he has come down and done for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  This is the Savior that God offers to the world, and to you.

In case it wasn’t clear yet, vs. 8 slams the point home.  He would be cut off, or executed.  It is shocking enough that he would suffer, but that he would also be executed is unthinkable.  As I said earlier this is an unbelievable story to our flesh.  But it is the Truth.  Not only would he be humiliated with death, but he would unjustly be associated with the wicked and the rich in his death (vs. 9).  He would be treated as a criminal.  Even though he is without sin, he is crucified between two thieves.  He ends up buried in the tomb of a rich man who was a secret follower of Jesus.  Yet, he is no criminal.  He is crucified because he testified that their deeds were evil and unacceptable to God.  He did not have great wealth in this life and yet he ends up in the tomb of a rich man.  Yes who ever said life was fair?  But in the end we would not want it to be fair.  If life were fair then we would all be held accountable for our sins and punished.  Yet, Jesus steps forward and pays the price for our sins and willingly associates himself with those sinners who will simply repent and put their faith in Him.  This isn’t fair, but, it is love.

His Glory, vs. 10-12

Praise God that the death of Jesus is not the end of the story.  This is what Resurrection Sunday is all about.  It is the reversal of the most heinous event in history.  The savior of the world is killed, but God overrules the wicked and their plots against him.  And, yet, even the glory of Jesus is something we don’t always understand.

The words in verse 10 seem horrific, “it pleased the LORD to bruise Him.”  However, we must understand that both Father and Son are in agreement and unified in this plan.  Thus, just as it pleased the Father to bruise, so it pleased the Son to be bruised.  It is pleasing because of what it will accomplish and not for the sake of bruising and death alone.  The age of animal sacrifice comes to an end with God’s sacrifice of his own perfect lamb, His Son, for our sakes.  Thus the glory of Jesus is that he becomes that One who fully pleased the Father, the perfect Son.

Verse 10 also says that these things will prosper in His hands.  Thus it is the glory of Jesus to prosper over the top of all that is done to him and done against him.  They can kill him, but he will be resurrected.  They can reject him, but God will accept him.  They can put him with the criminals and even in Hades, but God will raise him up to sit at the right hand of the throne of God.  They can use their authority to punish him, but God will take their authority from them and give it to Jesus, who waits for the day when he will be sent back to earth in order to remove the powers of wickedness, both natural and spiritual.  Yes, Jesus is enjoying the glory of prosperity and it is only going to increase.  The question is, “Will you join him in that glory?”  Or, will you side with the wicked against him?

Verse 11 shows that it will be to the glory of Jesus that he will justify many through his knowledge.  No one else understood how to save Israel and even the whole world, but Jesus.  The beautiful truth is that though I am not righteous, I can be justified.  And, though I am a sinner, I can be made righteous by what Jesus did all those years ago.  All I need to do is to confess my sins and repent of them.  Then I must turn towards Jesus and put my faith in him, not just that he died, but also in the words he spoke.  He must become both savior and Lord of our life.  Jesus wants to share his glory with whosoever will.  Won’t you surrender to his call today?  “Come follow me!”

Jesus, Suffering Servant audio

Tuesday
Aug092016

A Song of Salvation II

Isaiah 26:16-21; 27:1.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on August 7, 2016.

As this song of chapter 26 comes to a close, it focuses on a problem that is universal for people who put their trust in God.  People who trust God live with great promises that are future within a context that often seems like those promises will never come true.  Countless millions have died waiting for the complete promises of God.  Yet, God has incorporated this into His plan.  His people must simply wait for His deliverance and the time of jubilation that will follow, even in death.  This sets up the key idea that this life is not all there is.  There will come a day when all the Righteous of all times will be resurrected and see the completion of God’s promises together.  Thus, we will all experience this jubilation as a family of the Redeemed at the same time.

At the same time, this life is still incredibly important.  It is the testing ground of where we will stand in the day to come.  Will I be swept away by judgment, or will I be singing with the Righteous after the judgment has gone by?  The Resurrection is God’s plan to set everything on its head and then set all things in order.

The Dependency of the Righteous

Verse 16 continues the theme of how the righteous are dependent upon God.  In verse 13 Isaiah had mentioned that other masters had ruled over Israel.  We pointed out then that this was God’s discipline for their disobedience.  Here in verse 16 the theme of discipline is picked up again.  In the midst of “trouble” (their discipline) they turned towards the Lord in prayer.  The word “visited” here is interesting because normally the Scriptures talk about God visiting us.  Sometimes He visits in the sense He is showing up to help us (like Israel being delivered from Egypt).  Other times, He visits in the sense of bringing discipline.  You could say that though God had visited them in discipline, they were visiting God with prayers of mercy.  It is easy to get angry and retreat from God in the times of our discipline.  But that will not lead to healing and deliverance.  We need delivered from our sins and God’s discipline is intended to point us in His direction.  Thus the righteous humble themselves and seek God even in times of discipline.  They know that they are completely dependent upon Him.

Verse 17 compares their times of “chastening” to labor pains.  Israel felt like all their labor pains had been for nothing and had accomplished nothing.  In a way this is true.  If it was only up to Israel (or us for that matter) nothing would be accomplished.  But God always intervenes and does through us what we cannot do on our own, if we will trust Him.  Israel had been through many times of not trusting God, being disciplined, repenting, and turning back to God.  This cycle seemed to never end.  Imagine a woman going through 9 months of pregnancy, a day or more of labor, and then the doctor says, “I’m sorry ma’am but there isn’t a baby.  You’ve just given birth to wind.”  That is the feeling Isaiah is describing into verse 18.  In our attempts at God’s things we are unable to produce any deliverance in the earth without God.  Also, the “earth dwellers” are still ruling over the earth.  Remember they are those who live without thought for God. 

The thing to keep in mind in the midst of all this is that we are not alone.  God is with us and He is also for us.  Even when it looks like the enemy has completely won, God has promised to stand up on our behalf.  The New Testament connects this idea of labor pains to how the earth will be in the Last Days leading up to the Second Coming of Jesus.  Things will become increasingly painful and the pains will come faster and faster.  This may make us feel like serving God is for nothing.  But that is not true.  God has not abandoned us.  How can we know this?

Verse 19 is the answer.  All of this emotion and fear will be overturned by the Resurrection.  Those who have perished without seeing God’s ultimate deliverance will be resurrected.  Also, that resurrection is not just a spiritual thing; it is a physical thing (“with my dead body”).  You can read “my dead body” as referring to Isaiah, which would be true.  Isaiah could be saying that they should take comfort because they will all be resurrected.  However, all prophets speak what God tells them to speak.  Thus the “my dead body” could be a reference to God Himself.  This would be pointing forward to a time when God Himself would take on human flesh and die, only to be resurrected.  So this could be a reference to what Jesus would later do.  He told us that He was the resurrection and the life.  Ultimately the resurrection of Jesus gives us the proof of this coming reality and strengthens our faith so that we will never give up even in the face of death.

The phrase “you who dwell in the dust” refers to those who are in the grave.  Just as a physical grave is made in the dry ground, the Hebrews pictured the spiritual side of the grave as a dry and dusty place.  So we have a poetic picture of the resurrection.  The dead will awaken out of a dry and dusty place to sing in the midst of the dew of a new morning.  He is basically saying you were dead and your bones were dry.  But you will rise with green bones and sing to the Lord.  Thus the earth will cast out the dead.  Daniel 12 also points to this by saying, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting shame and contempt.  Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the heavens and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”  All has been recorded in the earth, none will be lost.

The Promise of the Lord to the Righteous

Verse 20 picks up the idea of the resurrection and gives an instruction and a promise to God’s people.  First there is the call to enter your chambers.  In the context this must be referring to the death that they fear will rob them of victory.  God is in a sense saying, “Don’t see death as a failure.  Rather, see it as a time of rest and peace from the struggle.  Let Me rise up and struggle for you.”  Of course this is not an excuse for suicide.  At the proper time, we will all come to the end of our life.  We need to be faithful to God in how we live this life.  But when the day of death comes, we can enter into it with peace instead of fear.  Is it true that death can actually be a “grace” to the believer?  Yes.  First, death keeps us from living forever in bodies that have been damaged by sin (both ours and others).  Second, death gives us rest from the oppression of a world bent on rebellion (imagine how Adam would feel if he were still alive).  Third, death was designed to be overcome by God.  It is only a temporary condition of a person.  Of course the resurrection is connected to the Rapture in the New Testament because when the dead are raised there will still be some believers alive.  They too will be transformed in the twinkling of an eye into glorified bodies and caught up to be at the Lord’s side.  So death is the refuge of the righteous until the day of deliverance.

Notice the phrase “the indignation.”  This is another way of referring to the Wrath of God.  Verse 21 makes it clear that there will be a final day of judgment for the whole earth.  God Himself will come out of the heavens and judge the earth.  In the New Testament it is revealed that this is Jesus.  Yes, Jesus loves us and died for us.  But He will also come back to judge those who have rejected His offer of grace and mercy.  The wrath of God will be poured out on all the earth.  Thus the righteous are protected not just from the wicked, but also from the wrath of God.  It says that God will “punish the earth dwellers for their iniquity.”  The word “punish” is the idea of settling accounts.  It reminds me of King Belshazzar in Daniel 5.  He is in the middle of throwing a party and using the holy cups and bowls from the Jerusalem Temple.  God tells Him, “You have been weighed in the balances and found lacking.  Your kingdom will be divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.”  Thus God will remove the kings and the armies of the earth.  They are lacking in any ability to support godliness and righteousness on the earth.  Their kingdoms will be taken away and given to the Righteous.

The last phrase is that the Earth will disclose her blood and will no more cover her slain.  We are told in the book of Revelation that the raising of the righteous will happen before Christ comes back (or at the same time.  It isn’t quite clear).  After 1,000 years of reigning with Jesus on this earth, the wicked dead will be raised up for a final judgment.  At this point God will create a new heavens and a new earth where no wickedness will ever be.  This is God’s promise to those who put their trust in Him.

I believe that the first verse of chapter 27 should really go with this chapter.  Regardless, let’s finish with looking at that verse.  We are told that the ancient serpent, Satan, will be slain.  He is called Leviathan because this is a sea creature the ancients were familiar with.  In fact many of the religions had mythologies about a sea creature that ruled the seas.  Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 tell us that the ancient serpent that the Bible references is in fact the Devil or Satan.  He is pictured as being in the sea because the sea was a metaphor for all the peoples of the earth (thrashing and tossing to and fro).  Satan has ruled the seas of mankind like a great sea serpent throughout history.  But God will come down and slay Him.  Though he is an immortal being, he will be slain as if he were mortal.  But the righteous that are mortal, will be raised up with immortal bodies.  This is the ultimate victory that God has planned for us all.  So let’s trust in God.  He will slay our enemy and redeem us from our own frailty because He loves us.

Song Salvation Audio