A Remnant of Hope in Israel (Isaiah 10:5-34)December 18, 2022 | Brandon Cooper
This sermon discusses Isaiah chapter 10, which talks about God using Assyria as a tool to judge Israel for its sins, even though Assyria itself is proud and wicked. The sermon contrasts God’s good purposes with Assyria’s evil intentions. It explains that God is sovereign over all, including sinful human actions, but humans are still responsible for their choices. The sermon emphasizes that God uses many tools, even painful ones, to accomplish his good purposes and build his kingdom. It finds hope in the fact that God will ultimately judge rightly and defeat all evil, leaving a repentant remnant who trusts fully in him.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Good morning church. Good to see you all. Go ahead, grab your Bibles open up to Isaiah chapter 10 will be in Isaiah chapter 10, verses five to 34. This morning as we continue in our series, the Jesse tree, as you’re turning to Isaiah 10. Here’s a question that almost certainly you have either asked yourself, or heard asked by other people probably multiple times. A question is, Where was God? Where was God when? Fill in the blank? In fact, I went to Google and typed in where was God when, and was curious to know what answers would pop up in their suggested search queries? Where was God when my son died? Where was God when I was being abused? Or are very generic one, where was God when I needed him? As a question we asked, not just at the personal level, though, but at the global level as well. Where was God when that earthquake hit that devastated a community? untold numbers killed? Where was God? When the terrorists attack? Where was God when that dictator was hanging protesters in the town square? It’s a fair question. Because God’s Will so rarely seems to be done here on Earth. Some of the promises that we read in this book don’t always seem to be kept. It seems like evil is often winning. It’s a question we expect that Israel and Judah at least the remnant within them might be asking at this point in history where we’ve been the past couple of weeks, because there is wickedness in God’s land. And now there is also a wicked invader, Assyria coming into it. So this is a dark moment. Remember, by the way, or if you haven’t been here last couple of weeks. I’ll try and catch you up a little bit. The tight structure of Isaiah as prophecy here we looked first at Judah, he had a word for the southern kingdom, Isaiah first it was that moment of decision, they chose poorly, and it meant judgment on them. And then there was a turn and there was a message of hope for the remnant. And then we started looking last week at Israel, the northern kingdom, same thing what we saw last week, a terrible decision made. And so judgment. And that’s where we ended. You guys remember last week? Last week was tough, wasn’t it? Anyone walk out of here angry with Kyle. That was just me, I guess. Why KNOCK KNOCK Kyle’s fault at all. He was preaching the text before him. Of course, the text ended his passage ended with God’s hand still raised in anger against Israel’s sin. The very last verse he read, get for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still up raised. Now we know there’s more to that story. Kyle even took us there kind of said, this is where the passage ends. But we got to keep talking. We got to get to Jesus, because God’s hand did come down in anger, but the full force of his fury, his righteous anger at our sin fell not on us, but on Christ, if we have put our hope in Him. So we know there’s a turn. And in our passage this morning, Isaiah actually turns that corner, as well. And so we get this hope for the remnant of Israel in our passage this morning. So here’s where we’re going. What I want you to have in your mind, as we read through this, when you ask, Where is God or even what is God thinking? That you would remember that His ways are above our ways that he is working on a scale, both time and space that is beyond us. But to have that in our minds, we need to look at God’s means and God’s ends or as I’ve got it as our structure this morning, God’s tools, and then God’s purposes. So that’s where we’re headed. Let’s start with God’s tools. Isaiah, chapter 10, verses five to 15. This is a dense passage, we’re gonna have to unpack a lot here. So I’m gonna read it slowly. As we go. I’m actually gonna start with verse five, and then pause and make some comments whoa to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath. So the Assyrians have been causing everybody else Whoa, out there in the ancient Near East, but now they are hearing a message of woe as well. They will be judged even as they’re the instrument of God’s judgment on his people. When it says that they are the rhod of God’s anger, it means that the Assyrians are actually the tangible expression of God’s anger against Israel because they rejected His word because of everything that we heard last week. So then how come there’s judgment coming on them? Couldn’t they just look at God and say, Hey, we’re just doing what you asked us to do? Not going to work, I’m afraid. And so we’re going to see why. And these verses to follow really we get a tale of two sovereigns here. What does the Sovereign Lord think? And what does the king of Assyria think we’re going to contrast as we go? So here’s the first contrast. The contrast is between the Lord’s intent and doing this and then a serious intent. Here’s the Lord’s intent, verse six, I sent him against a godless nation. I dispatch him against the people who anger me to cease loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets, pause there. So God is saying, I sent I dispatch, meaning in one sense, at least this is God’s doing that a Syria has invaded Israel. Where is God? He’s right there. sovereignly reigning over history as it unfold. Now, how can God do this son, this wicked invader there because his intent is holy, and just and righteous and good. He’s punishing wickedness and evil sidenote, by the way, that’s usually what we mean when we ask Where was God? We’re asking, Why didn’t God intervene to stop this evil or wickedness and that is precisely what he’s doing. He has something against a godless nation. It says that’s Israel. This is supposed to be the nation of God and yet they are a godless nation. There’s no double standards with God. He doesn’t overlook the sins of His nation judgment. Peter reminds us begins with the house of God. Now what happens here this whole seizing loot and snatching plunder, that’s exactly what God said He was going to do. Like we shouldn’t look surprised when God judges he’s talked to us about this many times. Do you remember back in chapter eight verse one, God has Isaiah rent a billboard. And he’s supposed to write on it my Harish Lau hush boss. And that was that whole bit about being quick to the plunder, hasty to grab loot. Well, guess what words we just read there with plunder and loot shall all and boss they’re back. Okay, so God’s word has come to pass is a good word because God’s intent is good. It is a righteous judgment. That’s God’s intent, but it’s serious. Not so much. Let’s keep reading verses seven to 11. But this is not what he intends. Assyria the king of Assyria intends This is not what he has in mind. His purpose is to destroy to put an end to many nations are not my commander’s all kings, he says, has not camo fared like Carchemish is not Hemanth like our pod and Samaria, like Damascus, as my hand sees the kingdoms of the idols kingdoms, whose images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria, shall I not deal with Jerusalem and her images as I dealt with Samaria and her idols? So this is what Assyria intends. And it’s not what God had intended is serious intent is wicked, it is conquest and genocide. And they’re feeling really confident about their conquest, because, well, even his commanders are kings, he’s so important. He could call Him a king of kings as it were. And then what does this king do? He walks through his invasion route. This is how he’s come into Israel. He’s kind of saying, I conquered that kingdom. I conquered that kingdom, I conquered that kingdom and that King, why wouldn’t I conquer you? As well, this is like a football team boasting on the way to the playoffs. We dispatch the Eagles, we dispatch the bills, we dispatch the Vikings, so you’re gonna be worried about the bears now? Do you know their record not going to happen? Okay, feeling really confident as I go into the that’s what’s happening here. And he’s saying, Look, all those nations had images and idols. So you can pray to your images and idols, your heart’s content, I already took all of those down to Israel’s Judah’s images and idols are not going to stop us. Now that does raise attention. Because the God of Israel and the God of Judah is not like those other gods, because he is real. But they did have images. And they did have idols didn’t. That’s the whole problem.
I mean, he’s looking around going, yep, I recognize that shrine. And that one’s not to yavi. That’s to somebody else entirely. This is the whole reason God sent to Syria in the first place, because they had prostituted themselves to foreign gods who were powerless to save them. And why? Why would you ever do that? Why would you give up the one true God for an image that you’ve carved out of stone or wood? And you know why? Because you do it too. And I do it and it’s to give you the illusion of control? Because what happens in this sort of pagan religion is that you just do what they want so that they will do what you You want, which means you get what you want. Now, we don’t have idols like this today, we don’t carve them out of stone any longer for the most part, but still in what do you trust? Really? Is it wealth, or influence, or health? Those all have names in the Old Testament. I mean, it helps. That’s a scrape. Yes. Well, that’s mammon, you probably heard him if you remember the King James Version old, these are all gods. when trouble comes, where do you turn? I mean, are you thinking this can’t harm me because of my big bank account? And my excellent health insurance? Because I’ve got this promotion at work, which gave me a fancy new title. Or when trouble comes, are you they’re saying, you can take it all. Everything could be stripped from me. And if I have Christ, I still have everything. That’s the first contrast. It’s a difference of intent. The second contrast that we get here is the Lord’s view of Assyria versus a serious view of itself. And what exactly it’s doing. This is a great exercise, by the way, just to contrast what you think about yourself with what the Lord thinks about you. That can be positive or negative, like some of us got, like, self esteem a little too high. Like no wonder the Lord loves me. Have you seen me? I’m outstanding. And we probably need to remember that we are sinful wretches, filthy with sin, needing to be cleanse. We have nothing good in ourselves except for crisis. But there are other of us who have self loathing. We need to remember what God says about awesome vile rhetoric. No, you are beloved son or daughter of God. Well, let’s see what God has to say about a Syria at least here’s a verse 12. As we keep reading, when the Lord had finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the Haughty look in his eyes. So God sees a serious pride that Assyria is worthy of judgment as a result. So once God’s work is done, he says the image there, by the way, is weaving. So this is if you guys do like sewing projects, you know that, that last mover, you snip that last thread, and you’re like it’s done. And that’s what God’s saying, or when I get to snip that last thread, I will punish a serious King for exalting himself to my place. He’s trying to usurp God’s role. So what does God see when he looks at a Syria he sees pride to be punished? What does the king of Assyria see, when he looks at himself, he sees a right to rule. Let’s keep reading verses 13 and 14. For he says, by the strength of my hand, I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding. I removed the boundaries of nations I plundered their treasures like a mighty one, I subdued their kings, as one reaches into a nest. So my hand reaches for the wealth of the nations as people gather abandoned eggs. So I gathered all the countries, not one flapped a wing or opened its mouth to chirp. So here he is exemplifying the very pride that God has just condemned, what does he say, Look at what I’ve done, by my strength, my wisdom, I have brought nations to heal, and have plundered lands upon lands. Now, we would never do anything like this. I know. You’ve never taken credit for your career, I’m sure. Even pastors especially because we’re so godly, we would never do this. No pastor has ever seen a church grow, and say, You know what I should do, I should write a book. Because this church grew by my strength. And if I could pass on my wisdom that other pastors could immediately grow their churches as well. That’s never happened, thank God, or parents, when your kids don’t wander from the face, and what happens in your heart pretty quickly. That’s because I was a good parent. And if other parents would be as wise as I was, when their kids wouldn’t have wandered, either, that’s not what Jesus says about us, though, is it? Jesus says, John 15, verse five apart from me, you can do nothing. And what we do for good we do in the strength that God supplies never by my strength, always by his strength. So why is it so foolish to boast like this? Especially by the way, if you’re boasting like this, and you’re Assyria, which is not Spirit empowered and not growing in God’s wisdom? Well, here it is. Verse 15. Why it’s so foolish? Does the X rays itself above the person who swings it, or the saw boast against the one who uses it? As if Arad were to wield the person who lifted up her club brand is the one who is not would. Why is it so foolish to boast like this because you’re the clay, not the potter and the clay doesn’t ever say, I made myself into an amazing vase didn’t die, or you’re the saw and God is the carpenter. That’s the language that God uses here. We are just instruments in the Redeemers hands. That’s a helpful reminder for us as we You scan the news headlines every day, isn’t it? Do you know what Vladimir Putin is? was using ping Donald Trump, Joe Biden fill in the blank tools in the hands of All Mighty God, that earthquake, or even your high blood pressure? You just can’t seem to get under control tools in God’s hands. So when you’re asking, Where is God, remember that you can only see the x, not the invisible sovereign who is wielding it. Nor can you see his good purposes, because you have a finite mind. I mean, what is the problem in the problem of evil? We talked about the problem of evil. What we’re saying is, I can’t see any reason why God would allow this. But why would you ever think you would be able to see the reason why God would allow this, you do not have his perspective. We’re overconfident, I think when it comes to evil. So I’m gonna use physics here. It’s not a physics person, I’m gonna lose your for like a minute, but I apologize for that. I think we expect Newton’s laws of motion. The white ball hit the red ball, and so the red ball moved. And so we expect to be able to say, God did this. And this is what came about. So now I know why he did it. Why should we expect that though, this might be a little bit more like quantum physics. This atom smashed into this atom, I think, and I don’t know where either of them are right now, because of the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. And we don’t even sure what’s going on there. We have no rules, we’ve got no understanding. So we’re pretty sure somebody does. And I’m going to drop out of my physics class and become a humanities major next time out. That’s what our approach should be to the problem of evil, we have a limit to our minds, we come to God asking questions like a three year old asking dad how the car goes, and Dad’s going, I can’t explain internal combustion to you. So I don’t know I push this. And it goes like that as much as you’re going to be able to get when it comes to these sorts of questions. We are so much closer to the three year old than we are to Almighty infinite all knowing God. And so in humility, recognizing that we are not God, we trust God. We say I don’t know what. And I don’t know why. But I know who at one point before we press on, by the way, because this raises some questions for us this whole idea that there are tools in God’s hands, yes, but they are not inanimate tools, are they? These tools possess desires and wills, they make choices. And that does complicate our theology a bit. Because we’ve got two statements that exist in tension. God is absolutely sovereign over everything, even sinful human choices. And humans are absolutely responsible for those sinful choices that they make. Why? How does that work? Exactly? Again, give me a little bit beyond us. That’s fine. But we know this, at least is because God has not put a gun to our heads. We do what we want to do. And therefore we are responsible for those choices. You can see this throughout Scripture, by the way, here’s Acts chapter four. This is the early church praying after a bit of persecution. They say this, indeed, Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Who’s responsible according to this text? Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, the people of Israel, they conspired together and murdered the Son of God, but they did that according to God’s purposes. In his sovereign rule, what an illustration for us, by the way, because of where it was God, when they crucified His son,
he was watching his plan of redemption unfold. Nothing’s changed. That’s exactly what’s happening even now. Can God bend evil means to good ends? Well, apparently, because he turned the murder of the Christ into the possibility of salvation for all people. So if you remember nothing else from today, and I’m a little worried here, cuz this means I’m peeking really early in the sermon, but if you remember nothing else, remember this quote from John Erickson Tada who has experienced some evil means in her lives, she wrote this, God ordains what he hates to accomplish what he loves. That’s it. That’s what Isaiah chapter 10 is. God ordains what he hates to accomplish what he loves. God uses painful tools. To build beautiful works, it’s like going to the dentist and you hear the drill. Right and your eye twitches and you you know some of you are like freaking out right now you’re like, that’s it. I’m leaving the church turned into my membership. It’s okay though, because they already jabbed the needle into your gums. So now it doesn’t hurt as much when they drill or something like the guy is not a sadist, though. He’s doing it for your good. Like we’ve had some surgeries in our congregation recently. Do you know what they do in surgery? Do you know what the scalpels for? It’s not for massage? Okay, like, where’s the Hippocratic oath as they’re slicing? You open this seems like harm, except of course, it’s to bring about your healing. That’s the purpose. So it is with God. He uses many tools, even wicked ones like Syria to accomplish his good his perfect purposes. So what are those purposes? Let’s keep reading here. So God’s purposes, verses 16 to 34. I’m gonna just I’m gonna do something I don’t normally do. But I’m gonna point out the structure here in advance, you can see as we go, if you’re the kind of person who writes in your Bible, you might want to note these couple of things. We get to their fours, and in the middle of them we get to in that days, so look at verse 16, begins with therefore. And then in verse 20, in that day, numbers 24, therefore, and verse 27, in that day, so that’s our structure. That’s what we’re gonna follow as we go through this chunk here. What is it as a result of what just happened or what Isaiah just said, here’s what’s coming, here’s what God is going to do. And he’s gonna be pointing us toward that future hope for the remnant. So the first thing God is going to do is an act of holiness. The second one is an act of power. Let’s start with that first. Therefore, in this act of holiness, let me read verses 16 to 19. Therefore the Lord the Lord Almighty will send a wasting disease upon his sturdy warriors, under his pomp of fire will be kindled like a blazing flame, the light of Israel will become a fire, their holy one a flame, and a single day it will burn and consume his thorns in his briars, the splendor of its forests and fertile fields that will completely destroy as when a sick person wasted away, the remaining trees of his forest will be so few that a child could write them down. So God acts in holiness, to judge his instrument of judgment. Because they’re responsible for their sin, the pride and violence they have displayed. As a uses two metaphors to describe what’s going to happen here, sickness and fire, sickness, meaning this is gonna be a slow wasting disease that renders the strong, weak, and then the fire that consumes everything before it. In fact, Isaiah goes out of his way to show how comprehensive the destruction will be. It’s the forest and the field, the cultivated lands, as well as the wild ones. The devastation is so complete, then verse 19, that even a child could do a census of the warriors who remain. This is like the end of a really bad garage sale, will you let your five year old total up the amount of money that you got not a good sign, right? That’s what we have here. Interestingly, this is historical fact. By the way, despite being a bold prediction at the time, we’re in, say, 725 BC, over the next century, about a decade from here, Assyria enters this period of slow decline, like it’s getting sick until eventually 612. Babylon wipes it out almost completely. Now, you saw in this section, I hope you notice and we’ll keep seeing as we keep reading, Isaiah has a rich use of the names of God, man, just in these verses I read, we get the Lord the Lord Almighty, the light of Israel, the Holy One of Israel. This is not just rhetorical flourish on Isaias part, this reminder of who God is is necessary to keep kindling hope and to keep answering those hard questions. God, why did you bring a Syria into the land? What were you thinking? That’s a wicked thing to do? No, no, no, no. He’s the Holy One of Israel, he would never do wrong, it would be impossible for him to do. I think this is a good exercise for us. We have an Advent tradition in our family where each day in December leading up to Christmas we have 24 gold ornaments that we hang up kind of one at a time and each one has a name for Jesus on it. Why do we do that? Because it’s important that we know the fullness of who God is. And different titles bring out different pieces of God’s character. Like the God who sees tells us something different about God than the Lord who provides but we need to know both of them. When Jesus says I am the bread of Life that speaks to my soul in a different way than when he says I am the true vine but I need both of those I need to know all of who God is. Well, God acts in holiness here in judging a Syria but also in judging Israel, just while he used to Syria, and in His holiness, then he accomplishes His holy purpose of leaving a repentant remnant his true people behind let’s keep reading verses 20 to 23. This is your in that day. In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of Jacob will no longer rely on Him who struck them down, but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, a remnant will return a remnant of Jacob will return to the mighty God. Your people be like the sand by the sea, Israel, Only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed overwhelming and righteous the Lord the Lord Almighty will carry out the destruction decreed upon the whole land. God’s tools have accomplished God’s purpose, like Michelangelo’s chisel, drawing David out of the marble, so that they no longer rely on arrow, which is how all this started. Remember, Israel seeing the threat of Assyria forge an alliance with Aram their erstwhile enemy, the one who had struck them down at one point, they trusted air and they trusted their alliances instead of trusting in the Lord. But now instead, even in the face of world superpowers, they will trust the Holy One of Israel, the one who does right because He’s holy, they will trust the light of Israel, The mighty God, The one who is able to accomplish his purposes. So what do we see here, we see that when Providence washes away your house built on sand, you can rejoice. It is a hard joy. It is a severe mercy. But you can rejoice because you are being taught to build on the rock instead in that moment. And that’s what the remnant has learned here. That’s what makes the remnant the remnant. We talked about this before when it says a remnant will return that word return is also the word for repent. And the two are the same thing. They returned because they’ve turned because they’ve repented. And this too is the fulfillment of God’s Word. You remember Isaiah as other son Shourya shoe, a remnant will return. Trade shows up twice in these verses right here. All God’s promises come to pass. But take heart, take heart, all God’s promises come to pass. Advent is a season of waiting for what for God’s word to be fulfilled. And it certainly will be as we’ve seen over and over again, we come to verses 22 and 23.
And the translation gets tricky. So we gotta get into the weeds here for a moment, I’m sorry about that. The word that’s translated here as destruction is a difficult word, it certainly can mean destruction. It also carries with it the sense of a finished work. In fact, if you’re looking at the ESV, one of the two instances of this word is translated as full end, you’re looking in the KJV. It’s translated as consumption, which is kind of an interesting translation because consumption meaning reached its fullness, and at the same time also destroys kind of gets both nuances. So it could mean finished work or full end. And then the word though in verse 22, is possible. But the usual meaning of these two connectors here is but so throw all that together. But what exactly Isaiah is here countering the idea that the remnant will be few in number, which is why he quotes from Genesis 22 The promises to Abraham, your descendants are going to be like the sand of the seashore. That seems like a lot of people not and there’s gonna be a little remnant that returns it doesn’t make sense to quote this here. So here’s what I think Isaiah saying, it’s very difficult Hebrew, though, so could be wrong. But your people will be like the sand of the seashore, or remnant will return because their consumption is decreed the full end is decreed I will finish my work. And that last part is key. God’s might His power is what guarantees that His Word will come to pass. Because look at what we’re reading here. It is so unlikely that a multitude would come when we just see people walking away from God in this story all over the place, so that there is just this tiny little remnant and yet God’s saying no, it’s gonna be a multitude. There will be a multitude of the redeem live, it’s so unlikely because God because God, that’s the only reason the only reason any of us have come. And it’s the reason why there will be a multitude in the end. Would you do me this favor? Would you carry that confidence in God? might not your cleverness, would you carry that confidence in God’s power into your evangelism this Christmas? Like as you grab some bags on the way out, it is so unlikely that anyone would come Saturday night, who doesn’t already love Jesus. But God, but God, only reason you’re here today is because God stirred in your heart to begin this. Next therefore, let’s keep going. We’ll be starting in verse 24. So in light of what was just promised, now we’re gonna see God act in power. Here’s verses 24 to 26. Therefore, this is what the Lord the Lord Almighty says, My people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians who beat you with a rod and lift up a club against you as Egypt did. Very soon, my anger against you will end and my wrath will be directed to their destruction, the Lord Almighty will lash them with a whip is when he struck down Midian at the Rock of orb, and he will raise the staff over the waters as he did in Egypt. This is the first command we’ve gotten in our passage so far today. And it’s kind of a strange one, do not be afraid, not strange, that command shows up all the time in Scripture, but strange because of the context. God just said, do not fear the one currently beating you with a club. I love that. I love this book. It’s so funny. Sometimes. It’s reminding us that biblical peace is so different than the world peace. Because it doesn’t depend on circumstances, so that we could have peace, the absence of fear even as we’re being beaten by a club, why? Because our peace depends on our faith, that God will carry out His Word. We know the end of the story, we have hope in the end of the story. It’s right there in verse 26, the Lord will defeat his and our enemies in the end as he’s done before, like when Gideon defeated the Midianites, 300 guys took out there’s a whole invading army, or like the Exodus, and even better example, because Israel didn’t even have 300 Men, then they were just standing at the shore going, I guess we’re going to be mowed down here at this point. But God steps in opens the waters and they are saved. And this side of the empty tomb. By the way, this is even clearer for us. Because God didn’t just defeat our enemies, some superpower, God defeated sin and death, and the devil. We know it, it’s done. That’s why we can fear not even in the midst of the most trying circumstances. You remember last week, again, we already mentioned this this week to his hand was still up raised. But then verse 25, God says, it’s almost time for me to put it down. God’s wrath is never the last word. In his righteous anger, He will discipline his people those whom he loves, which is why a remnant turns and returns without judgment, that discipline that is his strange work. We talked about this at the end of the people God killed series. It’s his strange work. It’s like his second language. He is fluent in the language of grace, His mercy, He displays with his whole heart. This is the strongest reason we do not fear by the way, it’s because God loves us. If we belong to Him by faith, He loves us. Why would we fear when grace abounds, like you might feel anxious at the dentist or the doctor, but you don’t truly fear that dentist or doctor why because you know that they’re for you and not against you. And God is surely for us, and fights our enemies and triumphs over them. In fact, let’s look at his power here. As we finish with the passage verses 27 to 34. In that day, their burden will be lifted from your shoulders there yoke from your neck, the yoke will be broken because you’ve grown so fat. They enter if they pass through mid ground they store supplies that Nick mash they go over the past and say we will camp overnight at Gabe ah from our trembles gubbay of Sol fleas cry out daughter galim listen Leisha pour on a mud minnows and flight the people have been take cover this day they will halt it knob. They will shake their fist at the Mount of daughter Zion at the hill of Jerusalem. See the Lord the Lord Almighty will lop off the bows with great power. The lofty trees will be felled the tall ones will be brought low. He will cut down the forest thickets with an axe Lebanon will fall before the mighty one. The yoke of slavery the burden of captivity is lifted from them and it is broken. How many of you stumbled over this phrase when you read it in your reading this week? Because you have grown so fat. I almost cut this part of the sermon because I knew I was gonna go long. And then I listened to my family read this on Friday at their morning time. And they all giggled and said we have no idea what this means. So here you go, what it says. And it could be translated because you’ve grown so fat for sure literally says because of the oil yield that help you, I can move on now? No. Okay, because of the oil, oil. Certainly, if you’ve got an abundance of oil, it means you’re probably gonna be a little bit pudgy back then because it means you have enough wealth to have this there. So yes, this is a fine translation is translated that way in other parts of the Old Testament as well. But this is Hebrew poetry. And you know what poets like to do, right? They like to make the reader work. So they’re just going to say something like oil, and then you got to sit there and go, Why oil? What does oil make you think of? Especially when you think the Old Testament makes you think of anointing? Doesn’t it? As in the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ, the anointed one? Is that was being talked about here? Do we have this really elusive oblique reference to the son of David to the coming Messiah? Okay, I don’t know. We’re gonna have to ask Isaiah when they get there kind of thing. But we know that that is true, regardless of what this poem means right here anyway, God loves us in Christ, in the one anointed with oil, and what piece that should give us because the here’s the truth, then about that, unless God stops loving Christ. He can never stop loving us, if we have hidden ourselves in Christ, if we are united to Christ by faith. So even when things look really bad, in the bleak midwinter, like say, when the enemy is at the gates, we still have this confidence. God loves us in Christ, the enemy is at the gates. And we know that because this list of names that we don’t know. And it doesn’t really matter. The point is, they’re drawing close. They’re getting closer and closer to Jerusalem. In fact, close enough we see near the end of the passage that they can shake their fist at Zions Hill. So let me give it to you. In contemporary terms, this is like the Message version. Let’s pretend the goat TAS aren’t here. So I can say this. Okay, that Canada is getting a little feisty. And so some army in Toronto is making their march on Chicago, how would they go? Well, they’d go through Detroit, and then Ann Arbor, and then Battle Creek, and then Michigan City, and then Gary, and then they’re on the Sky Way, shaking their fist at the Sears Tower. That’s what Isaiah just said. But here’s the thing, they may be on the Skyway, but they’re stopping there, because the Lord the Lord Almighty will defeat them. And he will clear cut the forest of these wicked warriors, only stumps left in the land. Although, of course, if there’s a stump left in the land, there’s always the possibility that a chute will spring forth from it.
But I’m going to head myself, that’s Saturday. So you’re gonna want to come back and really get the hope that we’re looking at, for now, when we pull the pieces together, the means and the ends, the tools and the purposes. Here’s the main idea. Here’s what to take away from this morning. God uses many tools to build his perfect kingdom. God uses many tools to build his perfect kingdom. But he is building he is always at work and always working for good, even when it doesn’t seem like it, even when global actors seem to have usurped his place, like a Syria here, and 700 BC. Or here’s another one, because it’s Christmas. This is a bonus illustration, or Caesar Augustus, when he decreed that a census be taken. Now he thought he was really powerful. He could make everyone move, just by ordering a census be taken. Do you know why Augustus ordered that census? Because seven centuries earlier, the prophet Micah had said that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, who Augustus was not powerful. Augustus was just a pawn on God’s chessboard. He was just a tool in God’s hand to accomplish God’s purpose to get Joseph of Nazareth, to Bethlehem with his fiancee, Mary. Even when the tool is rusty, or sharp, or inflicts pain, like a dentist, drill, we still have this hope. We have if I’ve read this passage, right, we have the hope of judgment. It’s an ominous time for the door to close. Couldn’t plan that we have the hope of judgment? You heard me right. That’s what I said. We have the hope of judgment because that’s what we’re longing for at Advent. Judgment. And you’re all like, no, that’s not what I’m longing for judgment is not a bad word. Not necessarily, because what does it mean to judge it means to render a just decision, like courts will often hand Around judgments that award damages to an innocent victim. So the hope of judgment is the sure and certain hope that God will set all things right in the end. That’s what it means that he judges justly, God wins. He triumphs over his enemies sin, death, the devil are defeated, and they will be defeated in us to, so that we are truly the remnant of God, a holy remnant. You know what that means? It means addiction doesn’t get the last word means that besetting sin in your life doesn’t get the last word, tears and pain and mourning, they don’t get the last word God’s anger isn’t the last word either the last word is grace. Hope, mercy, love. So here’s what I want for you, as we leave here today, to see, to open your eyes to see what God is building in your life, and what he is building you to be. Because that is a good thing. Even if the tool that he is using is a bad thing. And maybe even a really bad thing. Even still, you can trust him kindled hope, because God uses many tools to build his perfect kingdom. You pray with me now. Lord, we come before you in humility, knowing that we are not God, that we don’t understand everything that we can’t always see what you are doing or even that you are there. We got questions. And yet, Lord, we come before you in humility, because we know that you have the answers. We know who you are, we know that you can be trusted. And so in humility, we count that as enough more than enough, because we know what we need to know. We know that we are loved by you in Christ, and we know what you are doing for us and for this world in the end in Christ and we welcome it in our lives, Lord, would you use whatever tools necessary? And I pray that knowing the weight of those words I just spoke, use whatever tools necessary to build your kingdom in us and to advance your kingdom through us. We pray to the glory of Christ our Lord, Amen.