Not What You Ought to Be (Isaiah 1)June 5, 2022 | Brandon Cooper
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
You can go ahead, grab your Bibles and open up to Isaiah chapter one, as Kyle just mentioned, we’re gonna be in series in Isaiah, one to five for the month of June, brief series, kind of seeing the backdrop of Isaias ministry. So as you’re turning there to Isaiah chapter one, let me ask you a question. What did you expect? I’m not actually asking you that question. That’s the question we asked a lot, though, isn’t it? Usually, it’s a question when you went the cheap route or something like that. And the thing breaks right away. And well, what did you expect? Or there was no accountability or no oversight of something and everything goes, Hey, what did you expect? Exactly. But sometimes we actually expect more, then the question becomes a little bit more painful. What did you expect? I didn’t expect that. In fact, the closer the relationship you have with somebody, the higher the expectations, rightly. So parents who are gone for the evening might not expect the house to be spotless when they get home. But they certainly don’t expect to find a party, that they didn’t know what was happening or something like that. Or take an even more serious example, a a husband who deploys overseas for a year or something, does not expect to come home and find his wife on faithful. What did you expect? Faithfulness. That’s what I expected, living up to the love that we share. That’s what we should expect to find. What did you expect? In many ways? This is the question that God asks his people in Isaiah, one speaking to Israel, then of course, but speaking to us today, the spiritual Israel, the Church of God, it says, though, God is looking at us going, what should I expect to find? And then he seems to say, sadly, not this, not what I actually see, we’re going to look at three aspects of Israel’s moral and spiritual character, we’re gonna see that they’re found wanting in every respect. And so in many ways, this passage is about increasing self awareness, opening up your eyes to see who you really are. Let’s get some background of the book that I’m actually going to read Isaiah one, one, which is basically the title here, the vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah kings of Judah. So we’re around at 740 BC at this point, and Judah is still secure, reasonably financially prosperous, and safe from invasion only really, though, because a series had a couple of weak kings, and that’s about to change to glass pleaser. The third is on the throne guys like Sargon and cynic rabbit are coming. And these are invaders. So this is a a country that’s on a downward slope, militarily, politically, and most importantly, spiritually, and it’s onto this scene that Isaiah steps. Isaiah, by the way, whose name we don’t want to just skip past his name means Yabe saves.
That’s the message of the book in a nutshell, you just say Isaiah and that’s it. You got what this book is about God saves sinners is the purpose statement for the book of Isaiah. So he’s the one preaching now it’s a little bit interesting. We actually don’t get Isaias call to ministry until Isaiah chapter six, famous moment he sees the God on His throne, holy, holy, holy falls on its face all that. So why do we not get that into chapter six though it’s as though Isaiah, after his preaching ministry is complete, he go both back either he edits the book, or somebody else edits the book and decides to say, what was Israel like when he started preaching. And that’s what we get in chapters one to five, Isaiah has a vision that he sees vision implies beyond this world, a little bit like when Elijah is talking to his servant and servants freaking out because they’re whole bunch of Assyrians out there. And Alicia goes lower to open his eyes, and he has the vision of the hosts of heaven. And so it’s this vision beyond this world, is oftentimes very encouraging for us. But sometimes, is what say disruptive. This vision is one we’re going to need to brace ourselves to hear and so I gotta give you a quick word of warning before I start preaching here. Actually, I’ve said it before. I always make it my aim to match my tone, the tone of the message to the tone of the passage. I think that sort of means to faithfully expository scriptures if I’m preaching Isaiah 40 Comfort, comfort my people and you walk away dejected. I have not done my job faithfully. But if I preach a message like today and you walk out of here comfortable, I haven’t done my job either. So brace yourself because we need to grow in our self awareness. We need to experience conviction and engage in self examination. When God looks at the people he has called by name, what should he expect to find? What about when he looks at you? Well, here’s what he does find in Israel, at least first he finds a problem of people. We read verses two to nine. Hear me you heavens. Listen earth for the LORD has spoken. I reared children and brought them up but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its master the donkey its owners manger, but Israel does not know. My people do not understand. Woe to the sinful nation of people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption. They have forsaken the Lord they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion your whole head is injured your whole heart afflicted the soul of your foot to the top of your head, there is no soundness only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed your bandage are soothed with olive oil. Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you laid waste is when overthrown by strangers. Daughter Zion has left like a shelter in a vineyard like a hut and a cucumber field like a city under siege. Unless the Lord Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Saddam, we would have been like Gomorrah. So if one one gives us the historical backdrop, here’s the time here the king use all of that. We now get this spiritual backdrop to Isaias ministry. This is like the MRI, right? We’re peering inside here. We’re moving from skin to soul as it were. And it opens with God basically convening court, that’s what he’s doing here. And so he’s calling the heavens and earth as a witness to the charges he’s bringing against his people. And what is the charge simply stated, it’s this god reared children, who then rebelled against him and reared them. graciously. They were not his natural born children. These are adopted children that he he chooses Israel out of all nations covenanted with them, redeemed them. So for them to reject him at this point is just beyond comprehension, wholly unexpected, their sonship their adoption should matter more to them than it does they’ve taken it for granted. You know, how much of their adoption mattered to God? It matters so much that he says this is the reason he saved them out of Egypt. You want to know why I did that whole Exodus thing? It’s because of this exodus for 22 He’s speaking to Pharaoh than say to Pharaoh This is what the Lord says.
Israel is my kid. That’s why I’m doing this Israel’s my first born son, such love such redemption such goodness and bounty and provision towards this son who then a turns out as a teenager sulking and sassy and sneaking out at night. It’s just unthinkable. In fact, it’s so bad that Isaiah says they’re worse than animals at this point, because even animals get it oxen, donkeys, not famous for being the brightest creatures on God’s green earth. We’re not talking dolphins here are something and yet even they know their master, they know who feeds them. They’re happy to see him and all that but Israel’s biting the hand that feeds it. They’ve got less spiritual understanding than brute beasts. Alright, enough of the analogies then as as, as we verse four, he just he just dives straight to the point and he snacks up stacks up these synonyms to capture the comprehensiveness of Israel’s sin. There are three great sin words in Hebrew, one, often translated as sin itself is the act of wrongdoing. This is to miss the target. We get that right there. What are the sin for nation? There’s another word iniquity, it’s translated as guilt here in verse four, the root word is the idea of being bent. And so that’s dealing with the corruption of our nature, the fact that we’re bent in on our selves. And then a word that we saw back in verse two is rebellion. And that is the the will the desire to To disobey. So what is Isaiah saying? They’re bent nature leads them and frankly, our bent nature leads us away from God such that we willfully flout His laws and choose to act wrongly. But it’s even more subtle and breathtaking than that. Verse four. It’s this horrifying subtlety, because in verse four, we get four nouns of absolutely undeserved privilege. And attached to them are these four adjectives of just disgusting, corruption? Liquid he says, You’re a nation. And for Israel to hear that they would be thinking Exodus 19, verse six automatically calls you to be this royal precinct, right? a kingdom of priests a holy nation. And yet instead of a holy nation, what do we have a sinful nation of sinning nation? And then a people? How many times does God say you are my my people? And yet this is a people heavy with iniquity, laden with guilt. The word brood there is that word seed, which would make us think of Abraham, of course, the promise to see this is what the nation of Israel is, and yet now they’re a brood of evildoers. And then sons, which we’ve already talked about children, who are corrupted to the core. Now, before we judge Israel too harshly, as we’re apt to do when we read the Old Testament, have we been granted fewer privileges? No, the New Covenant privileges are much greater than the old covenant privileges, and yet we still rebel and sin how much greater than is our sin? The problem Isaiah says is that they’ve turned their backs on the Holy One of Israel, it’s quite possible that Isaiah is the one who invents the title Holy One of Israel, we don’t have it before him. He uses it a whole bunch of times. Why does he call him the Holy One of Israel God because he knows that holiness is the heart of God’s nature, which is why when he has the Throne Room vision, the angels are not crying out love, love, love, mercy, mercy, mercy. They’re crying out what Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty. This is the one the Holy One of Israel, the one before whom we fall in worship, and cover our eyes in fear and yet approach in love. Why because He’s worthy of all three. Israel’s been called into relationship with a God like this. And yet they reject Him. They spurn him for other lovers, idols, we may well wonder why,
except that we know the answer all too well, because we’re just as apt to spurn him for our own idols, they are probably not carved out of wooden stone and precious metals any longer, doesn’t make them any less false as Gods though, comfort and security and pleasure and power and status and all the rest. Why are we so prone to turn to idols because in idolatry, we get to maintain control. That’s what we want, and idolatry. You manipulate these lesser false gods to do what you want them to do, which means ultimately, you get to be God still, that’s not how it works for the one true God that God calls us to surrender. To surrender control in particular, the only reason we’d ever be willing to surrender our control that self will, is because we trust that this God has what’s best for us, in store, the riches of grace from the New Testament perspective, Christ Himself, even. But like Israel, we we often try to do both, don’t we? Like we love God’s love. We got our ticket to heaven, and that’s all great and stuff. But then we also just kind of want to choose our own way every day, but to do so is rebellion. And then we get some graphic imagery here to see that our rebellion will be met with painful but loving discipline, the Lord disciplines those who are His Hebrews 12. If you’re a legitimate child of God, He will discipline you when you go astray. But the problem with Israel is that they’re so foolish. They don’t actually pick up on the discipline They’re experiencing it they keep getting smacked over and over and over again again, why is this happening? So that at the end, they look like Rocky at the end of the movie, like beaten to a bloody pulp and he’s gone well, at least I didn’t fall down and you’re like, that’s not quite as impressive but boast as you think it is, because you lost and that’s what Israel looks like here. Now we see are found that five and six, those are analogies for this foreign invasion that they’re experiencing in verse seven. The land is what is bruised at this point. God allows nations like Syria and later Babylon to invade his people to invade Israel and Judah as a discipline. So that now the house of David, the glorious House of David is like a ramshackle cucumber hut. So what would happen is during the harvest, you know, you’d live in town and your fields were out there. And during the harvest, you couldn’t afford to waste time walking back and forth. So you’d build basically a glorified tent out in the field, you’d live in it during the harvest, what happens after the harvest? It’s abandoned, and very quickly dilapidated, it was not built to last right, it was built in temporary shelter kind of thing. And that’s what Israel has become. In fact, it’s so bad that had God not been gracious and preserved a remnant the true Israel spiritual Israel than the nation of Israel, the land of Israel would have looked like the salt plains of Sodom and Gomorrah, which are still desolate even today. So what should we expect to find? Here we have a gracious Redeemer who adopts us as His own, we turn our backs we rebel we pursue idols, that is unexpected. So let us examine ourselves, is this in us even now? Let us feel the weight of conviction, but not a burden, some guilt, conviction, not guilt. How do we do that? We keep our eyes on Jesus because the very one we’ve despised and rejected and forsaken is the very one who died to save us. And that might encourage us to do something about our rebellion. We got to be careful about what we do, because otherwise it will lead into the next point, Bad Religion. Not what God expected to find, but what he does find let me read verses 10 to 20, hear the word of the Lord you rulers of Sodom. Listen to the instruction of our God, you people have Gomorrah, the multitude of your sacrifices what are they to me, says the Lord, I have more than enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened animals.
I have no pleasure in the blood of bowls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me who has asked this have you this trampling of my core? Stop bringing meaningless offerings. Your incense is detestable to me, new moons Sabbath’s and complications I cannot bear your worthless assemblies, your new moon feasts and your pointed festivals I hate with all my being they become a burden to me. I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you. Even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood. Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight. Stop doing wrong. Learn to do right seek justice defend the oppressed, take up the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. Come now. Let us settle the matter says the Lord. Though your sins are like Scarlet they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red as crimson they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land. But if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. So the only possible response to what we saw in the last section is repentance. That’s that’s what we got to do. Right. But what sort of repentance? Isaiah heads Israel off at the pass in this moment, because he knows what they’re thinking, Okay, I gotta try harder to be more religious. And so he disabuse them of their false hope at this moment? What if we just go through the motions? No. Isaiah says, not good enough, that’s not going to do it. I love the way Ray ortlund summarizes this section he says like this, this is God speaking. I want you to repent of your worship. Your worship is unacceptable unless it is the overflow of repentance. It’s the connection between repentance and worship. If repentance is not the root from which worship is the flower, and the worship itself is corrupt. At the end of the last section, as he says, we would have become like Saddam, and here at the start of this section, as he just says, Well, no, actually you are Sodom and Gomorrah. No different, no less corrupt. And that’s true even if you’re trying to hide behind your religious shows the multitude of your sacrifices. That’s interesting. That’s God speaking. Remember, God commanded these sacrifices. But God’s going, Nope, those aren’t mine. That’s not what I asked for this is your doing the multitude of your sacrifices are worthless. In my sight. God says, the key to understanding why is verse 12. When God says, When you come to appear before me, that’s to be the heart of worship, intimacy with God. All three songs we sang to start the service involved are boldly approaching God, like that’s the wonder of the grace that we’ve experienced, we can be in relationship with him. But if you come to appear before God and don’t actually desire that relationship with Him, your heart isn’t in it. There’s no real surrender, then what are you doing? God says, You’re just trampling the courts, the temple by trotting and goats and lambs that accomplish absolutely nothing but a bit of barbecue afterwards. There are meaningless offerings, verse 13, says, literally offerings of nothing. Why? Because they didn’t bring their hearts. That’s what God wants. That’s the sacrifice he desires. It’s no wonder God hates them. And that’s what he says. I mean, look at verse 14. I hate them with all my being. They become burdensome, they’re weirding me what is here this so clearly, there is a type of worship service that God hates. Are you in one right now? Because that would depend on you. That might be different, a different parts of this room right now, because that depends on your heart. As you come before God. See, the danger we face is that as humans, when it comes to our religion, we always try to maximize the physical and minimize the spiritual in our worship, perfectly understandable in so many ways, because the physical is objective. It’s measurable, whereas the spiritual is very hard to discern. Did you love your enemies
today? I mean, I didn’t kill anyone. I don’t really I mean, okay, did you ties today? Well, that’s easy. What’s my income? What’s 10% of it? Did I give that amount? I gave 10.6%. So I’m like, Goldstar. student here. You see how we like to maximize the physical, the measurable, the objective, but the problem is that the physical without the spiritual is empty. It is an offering of nothing. It’s like, you know, your kids play soccer in these 90 degree days, and you’re in charge of the orange slices that day, and you just bring the peel? Well, it looks the same if you put it together. Yeah, but you know, the nourishing, sweet, refreshing part. That’s the key part, and that parts missing? Can I love you enough to tell you the truth? Robert said, Yes, I will tell Robert the truth. Anyone else? This was not a rhetorical question. I love you enough to tell you the truth. I see this here. And of course I do. I see it in my own heart. But I see this here. Absolutely. It is so easy to play church. You get that automatic offering that Kyle talked about earlier, which we do too, which is zips out of our account. It’s easy to show up. And of course, it’s easy to show up a few minutes late. But you know, what can you do? It’s easy to sing. It is easy to take notes on a sermon. It is easy to serve on connection team. It is easy to bring our bodies, but not our hearts. The fruit of repentance John the Baptist reminds us is holiness. Not activity. There will be activities Sure, but holiness. And that’s my concern because we practice a very comfortable Christianity here. Like when you show up and a morning like this, do you expect God to change you so that your life actually looks different afterwards? And radically different from the people around you who don’t follow Jesus? Or did you come here because this is just kind of what you do. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die. Die to the old self, to see the new self resurrected in his place. Does God have all of you? Like are you on the altar? Or are you just putting easy gifts on the altar? Because otherwise, it’s just religious shows, plus idolatry. We will know which master we were really Following when the road forks, that’s the time when you got to make a hard decision about which way to go? Do you follow Jesus? Or do you keep on the easy road? One of the places I see this too, of course, is some of these outer acts that we’re talking about that the religious shows are really important, because they are the means of grace. So you can show up in church and not really be in church. But if you’re really in Christ, you still got to show up to church. Because we need each other, we do a whole series on this, right? We need each other, to be building into each other. You can open your Bible every morning and not let the word of God get in you. But if you love Jesus, you open your Bible every morning so that the word of God can get in you. The problem, when we just do the bad religion thing, when we just do the outward is then you start to see the outwards, not doing anything. I’m not getting anything out of my time with the Lord. And word and purpose is not really the time with the Lord, it’s time with my checklist. And so then it becomes easier and easier to drop. This is one of the things that concerns me most, even coming out of pandemic, our attendance is still way down. You know why our attendance is down? It’s not because people still haven’t come back. It’s because the people have come back don’t come as often. What because it’s just gotten easier. It’s just gotten easier for us to drop, something that we don’t really hold as important. And so if you got basketball or soccer or wrestling tournament kids do, you know one time you just missed one a year or something and then it’s two and then it’s three, and then it’s four. And now you’re missing more often than you’re coming. Or the weather’s nice. Or you could sit in your PJs, the livestreams. Wonderful. And it just becomes easy. We just begin to drop it. And here’s where I’m especially concerned, by the way, is that stuff that you start to drop? What are your kids going to do with it? We are raising kids who will drop Christianity, because we’ve held it so loosely, with so little zeal and conviction. Look at the results of our sham religion, verse 15.
When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you. You’re calling out to God but not really, of course, he hides his face and he stops up his ears you ever felt like God is not answering your prayers? There are a lot of reasons for why that could be. But one of them may be you’ve got blood on your hands, spiritually speaking. And so he’s not. Well, how did the priest bless the nation of Israel at the Lord bless you and keep you made the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to your middle Lord, turn his face toward you and be gracious you this is the highest blessing in the Old Testament. And here God is intentionally turning his face away from those who pray like this. Something needs to change. And so we get a string of nine imperatives and verses 16 to 18. Three sets of three, wash, make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight in a word, repent. Right? Make that term start to change. And then what stopped doing wrong learn to do right seek justice in a word, reorder your lives around the word of God so that his values are your values. And then we get practical, defend the oppressed, take up the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow, in a word reformed. Do the word work that you’re supposed to do? put into practice? What you started, repent and bear fruit in keeping with repentance. That is, that is a brutal section of Scripture, isn’t it? And here is the grace of your God. Look at the next verse. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. If it has no business being here, there’s not even like a transition or anything. That’s who God is. It should make us a week need to hear the offer of grace even now, and especially for us because now we know how this happens, and if not by the blood of goats and lambs. But as Caitlin read for us earlier, the blood of Christ the precious lamb who is without blemish or defect. Now when he says come on to settle the matter, maybe you’re in your translation it says let us reason together. This is an invitation just to think wisely. Like I say he’s just giving us the wisdom of obedience here. I’ve marked before I’ll probably mark again those really awful evangelistic presentations that you would do with kids especially we were like, so do you want to go to heaven and be with Jesus and your family forever or do you want to burn in hell? That’s not an evangelistic presentation. That’s emotional manipulation except that’s basically what Isaiah is doing here. But here are your options. If you’re willing and obedient, you’ll eat the good things of the land. But if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. This is a moment of decision. God is willing to make us clean and to bless us the alternative is death. To choose this day, repentance, or rebellion, those are the only two options. What should we expect to find? What would you expect to find in a temple and keeping in mind that our hearts are the temple of the spirit we expect to find in a church we would expect to find proper worship, not a dried husk instead. The last thing that the Lord did not expect to find then verses 21 to 31, corrupt rulers a corrupt society. Let me finish off the passage. See how the faithful cities become a prostitute. She was once full of justice righteousness used to dwell on her but now murderers. Your Silver has become dross your choice wine is diluted with water. Your rulers are rebels partners with thieves they all love bribes and chase after gifts that do not defend the cause of the fatherless, the widows case did not come before them. Therefore the Lord the Lord Almighty, the Mighty One of Israel declares, alas, I will vent my wrath on my foes and avenge myself on my enemies. I will turn my hand against you. I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities. I will restore your leaders as in days of old your rulers at the beginning. Afterward, you will be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city. Zion will be delivered with justice or penitent ones with righteousness, but rebels and sinners will both be broken and those who’ve sake the Lord will perish. You will be ashamed because of the sacred oats in which you have delighted you will be disgraced because the gardens that you have chosen, you will be like an oak with fading leaves like a garden without water. The mighty man will become tender and his work a spark both will burn together with no one to quench the fire.
So we’ve looked at the national and religious aspects of Israel, we now turn to the social even political life of Israel. And sadly, what we find in a nutshell was corruption instead of justice. Derek Kidner says like this, the theme of this section is vanished glory, even the metaphors tail off from the tragic to the trivial. You got an unfaithful life to corrupted silver to somebody spilled some water and your wife. That’s how the passage moved. What was the expectation that Jerusalem would be a faithful city, a city that makes right judgments. So justice is right and practices are righteous, but righteousness, but instead she has become a whore. She is now the unfaithful city prostituting herself to other gods. It’s so bad that the silver can’t be refined because it has become fully dross. There’s no silver left in it. It’s just the impurities. What’s to be done nothing in the same way that you can’t and dilute wine. There’s no way to get the water out of it once you pour the water into it. Ditto the corruption that we see in judo. There’s no justice in Judah, instead of doing what God has called them to do in verse 17. Defending the marginalized, they’re taking bribes. Well guess who doesn’t have money to pay bribes? The widows, the fatherless, the very people we’re supposed to be protecting. So it favors the rich inevitably, what is the Lord to do with this? He vents his wrath. Ah, I will vent my wrath that word can mean Whoa. Which is a word of rebuke. I think it means Alas, here. It’s a lament because God takes no delight in the destruction of the wicked and breaks his heart. But who are the enemies upon him? He’s venting his wrath. It’s Israel. It’s his people have become his enemies. What a glorious vision of God though that we have here. The Lord, the Lord Almighty, the Mighty One of Israel. His is the sovereign, mighty ruler. I don’t lie who is also the covenant God, that’s the Lord and all caps a yavi who has entered into personal relationship? Why would you reject God, a God like that. But then we get this really subtle turn in verse 25. It says, I will turn my hand against you. And that’s usually a statement of wrath. It looks like this. I will turn my hand. You know what comes next. Right? So this is about to be another one of those disciplinary blows that they’d received but it’s a very ambiguous phrase, I will bring back my hand upon you is a brutally literal rendering of the Hebrew there. Is it possible that he’s bringing back his hand upon them, not against them to bring them back because the same exact word is used in verse 26, I will bring back your leaders, as in days of old. We’re talking about restoration. So that as they actually ends where he began, they will become a faithful city, once more, they will return to the Lord. So as in the last two sections, we get this note of grace after a very difficult prophecy, deliverance, there will be verse 27, justice and righteousness for those who truly repent. And yet he ends on a note of warning, lest we presume upon grace. The choices still before us, rebels and sinners will still be broken. Let’s not be over hasty in assuming that we’re in the former group that were truly the penitent ones. Let’s stop and ask God, might we be those who are actually forsaking God, even though we’re in church right now? How can we tell? How do we know we go back to idolatry? That’s where Isaiah goes again, in what do we place our ultimate hope? In what do we seek ultimate significance? The key phrase, verse 29, you’ll be shamed, because the sacred oaks in which you have delighted there’s the question, Where is your joy? Really?
Is it in the gifts? power, status pleasure? Or is it in the giver? Sacred oaks are those places of pagan worship? Why? Because trees lose their leaves, and then they get the leaves again. And so this is all about, you know, death and rebirth, the harvest fertility, everything that you’d be seeking at that time, you can kind of see in the trees, and so you’d set up your pagan temple, they’re seeking control. These gardens, by the way, are Gardens of evergreens because evergreens were especially revered, because they don’t ever lose their leaves. And isn’t that what we all want? Just blessing all the time, if only we could manage to twist God’s Armand to giving us that. But then Isaiah says, trusting in that which is no God, which is not real is folly of the highest degree. It’s like trusting in a garden without water, because even evergreens have no life in themselves, especially in the desert, by the way, they are dependent upon irrigation, water, these gardens that have been set up. Same with the idols we worship, they have no life in themselves, they depend on something else. Have you made an idol of security? Do you see how dependent that is? On your circumstances? Which are always under threat? Have you made an idol out of beauty? Do you know how dependent that is on your genes, first of all, and also youth. You made an idol out of love. And think how dependent that is on people who are fickle, and also often faithless. So again, Isaiah saying it’s not just rebellion, it’s folly. The choice is still the choice between wisdom and just idiocy. It’s just a bad choice. Because these gods can only dry up with her from the inside out and those who follow them also, they’ll be left as tinder for a raging forest fire can’t be refined, they will just burn. So what should we expect to find? It’s clear, faithful city, not a prostitute, not dross, not dilution and impurity. Israel is not what she ought to be given her status as God’s family, chosen people in a holy nation. And so often we are not what we ought to be. It’s easy enough to confess that right, as those redeemed by the blood of Christ. So this is a time for self examination. It is a time for conviction. It is a time for becoming self aware. But it is a time for grace and mercy and forgiveness as well. We have to remember that or we will not face our sin squarely. We will not be free to confess we don’t know what happens when we do it. Richard Lovelace, who’s written a lot about spiritual revival writes this he says psychoanalyst speak of the resistance patients have toward the discovery of traumatic material hidden in the unconscious. The same automatic fear of having repressed problems uncovered, will grip and bind Christians unless they are deeply assured that they are accepted in the Beloved, received by God as if they were perfectly righteous because their guilt is canceled by the righteousness of Christ laid to their account cards. simply wants honesty, openness and a trusting reliance on Christ our Savior. We have no need to hide behind sham religion. Come as you are, come and receive grace in Christ maybe for the first time. You know so interesting in verse 25, when Isaiah says, God says through Isaiah, I will thoroughly purge away your drawers. Remember, all that was left was drawers, he’d already said that. So what God’s saying is not just that I’m gonna refine you a little bit, I’m gonna make you something entirely new. Even though you are all dropped, become silver, that is the miracle of rebirth. When a picture of how God deals with us. We bring nothing into our salvation, but the sin from which we must be saved. And yet he restores us to glory transforms us bit by bit. The only condition is heartfelt repentance, which manifests always in devoted obedience. Will you turn, even now, come again to Christ, if you will, just know that God looks on you with favor, welcomes you, as a friend and as a father, like the prodigal coming back against the robe throne about him gets the ring back on his finger. If you have humbled yourself and confessed, you don’t need to fear and upbraiding coming later, God does not keep long accounts like an unforgiving spouse who brings up your sin and every argument.
Think about Peter, when you think about this, when Peter confessed, Jesus never mentioned the denial again. He never came back and said, Well, you remember you said you’re gonna do this, and then you didn’t? So maybe I shouldn’t trust you this time, right? Pete? No, he gets the immediate restoration, to fellowship and ministry, if you love me, Feed my sheep. And it’s so interesting, the difference when Peter first meets Jesus, and Jesus hasn’t tossed than that over the side of the boat, and it’s a miraculous catch. Peter gets out of the boat, he falls Jesus’s feet and he says, What? Go away, Depart from me because I’m unclean. I shouldn’t be here in your presence. But after he knows who Jesus is, and the salvation that Jesus has come to bring, what happens? What happens after the resurrection, Peters fishing, they don’t catch anything. Jesus says, throw your net over the boat. They catch 133 fish. What did Peter do then when he realizes it’s Jesus? And now he knows what a sinner he is because he just denied Christ. He jumps in the water, and swims as fast as he can to to for Jesus. It’s not that his sin was less is that his understanding of God’s grace was greater when we get grace, understand and receive grace. It was finished upon that cross, right? Well, we just say, we don’t fear appearing before God. Because what should we expect to find? When should we expect to find mercy, grace, love, and the welcoming arms of our Savior, let’s pray. Father, we are so grateful for the grace that is available to us in Christ because it allows us to come before you openly and honestly. And so Lord because we know that forgiveness is offered through Christ’s finished work upon the cross, the empty tomb. We confess our sins even now, in the quiet of our own hearts. We confess how we’ve turned from you to idols, how we have practiced Bad Religion, each of us in our own way here the confessions of our hearts, even now Lord.
We confess these openly Lord, because we know that though our sins are like Scarlet, by grace, you can make them white as snow. We pray that you would do that in us even now, amen. Amen.