Sunday, July 11, 2010

Isaiah 13-20: Hope in the midst of the storm

Union Missionary Baptist Church
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Opening thought:
It is no secret that we are living in desperate times. We have millions out of work in this country. We have millions whose unemployment benefits have run out. And we have millions more who have given up trying to find anything to do.

We have a world that is rife with extremism and hatred. We have nations led by madmen in places like North Korea, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Cuba, and Iran who are desperate to acquire means to destroy their enemies. We have terrorist organizations in the Middle East which have morphed into political parties and are taking over their nations.

We see movements around the nation of Israel that point directly to war in that part of the world soon. We are a nation fighting wars on two fronts already, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now fighting the longest war in American history. Yet we are still just as vulnerable to biological, chemical, and radiological warfare on our own soil as we were on September 10, 2001.

We have a region of our nation which still bears the scars of the worst hurricane in our history, Katrina, and is now dealing with the worst environmental disaster in history with the BP oil spill. When a quart of oil can make toxic thousands of gallons of ocean water, no one can tell how much oil is bellowing out of that hole each day, and no one seems to know how to stop it.

We have a government that is pushing socialism on its people against their will, which has no regard for the sanctity of human life, even this week making a recess appointment of a man to head Medicare and Medicaid who is the leading advocate of death panels and withholding care from elderly patients in order to reduce health care costs. We have a government whose judicial and executive powers are pushing a new definition of marriage on its people against their will, a definition that is not only contrary to God’s loving Word, but will open the door to marital anarchy and destroy the foundation of human society that has existed since the Garden of Eden.

The business world cannot make financial plans for the coming year not knowing how much they will owe in taxes when the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year, bringing the largest tax increases in US history, and while they wait to hear what actual costs and requirements businesses will have to carry under health care reform.

We have an economy that is showing not just signs of another double dip recession, but the same signs that we saw before the Great Depression. Our national debt stands at $13 trillion, enough to make every individual in America owe $118,000 each. And our debt is rising each day to the tune of $3.87 billion. Where is this train going? Our economists warn that at present rates, that our government could be insolvent in 18 months. That’s two Christmases from now.

We have a nation that would like to destroy us, and seeing our weakness, they are happy to sell us their goods with “Made in China” and let our government borrow more money from them to pay banks bailouts on their credit programs to cover losses sustained by Americans consuming products "made in China." We have fanatics from a false religion that would like to destroy us, and so they use our open borders and our open society to come in among us, make money from us, settle into our neighborhoods, even right here in suburban North Carolina, and wait for orders to attack.

We are living in a storm of geopolitical, environmental, economic, military, and civilizational proportions. But our passage of Scripture today teaches us that there is hope in the storm.

Contextual Notes: Judah was in the midst of a storm. The entire Middle East was being mauled by the cruel nation of Assyria. First little Judah was being intimidated by her small neighbors, northern Israel and Aram (Syria), to ally with them against Assyria or they would invade and destroy Judah. Now the superpower Egypt is sending envoys to Judah to ask them to ally with them against Assyria. After all, Judah would take the brunt of any invasion, keeping Assyria busy while Egypt could mount an attack to protect herself.

Isaiah is the man of God, and he counseled the king of Judah stay away from dangerous alliances with any other nation and trust the Lord. King Ahaz didn’t do that, but instead went from the frying pan into the fire by running to Assyria to ally with them! To voluntarily give up sovereignty and pay heavy taxes to ally with Assyria, the most ruthless of nations! What a fool! The Assyrians had not one honest bone in them to hold to any alliance. Instead, Ahaz caused trouble for everybody in the region because he refused to trust God.

Chapter 13 begins a new section as we see in 13:1 where a new superscription begins the series of judgments on the nations which are punctuated with the hope of a Messiah. We see judgments prophecies against Judah’s neighbors and enemies in chapters 13-20: Babylon (13:1-14:23), Assyria (14:24-27), Philistia (14:28-32), Moab (15:1-16:14), Damascus (17:1-14), and Egypt (18:1-20:6).

Four great themes dominate the OT’s vision of the end times, and we see them in all in the section of Scripture we have before us today. (1) World conflict, war, and divine judgment (Isa. 13); (2) A literal regathering of Israel to their Land (Isa. 14:1-3); (3) the glorious world-wide kingdom of Messiah (Isa. 16:5); and (4) a remnant of Israel returning to the Lord (Isa. 17:6).

Pray and Read: Isaiah 13-20, noting main sections.

Key Truth: Isaiah wrote Isaiah 13-20 to teach Israel that there is hope in the midst of a gathering storm.

Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about trusting Him in the midst of the storm.

Sermon Points:
  1. In the midst of war and terrorism, our hope is in Christ, our Compassion and our relief (Isaiah 13:1-14:3).
    1. Scriptures related to Israel’s literal Regathering to the Land: Isaiah 11:11-12; 14:1-3; 27:12-13; 43:1-7; 66:20-22; Jeremiah 16:14-16; 23:3-8; 30:10-11; 31:8, 31-37; Ezekiel 11:17-21; 20:33-38; 34:11-16; 39:25-29; Hosea 1:10-11; Joel 3:17-21; Amos 9:11-15; Micah 4:4-7; Zeph. 3:14-20; Zech 8:4-8

  1. In the midst of death and demonic attack, our hope is in Christ our Sovereign and our refuge (Isaiah 14:4-32).
    1. Some say that 14:12-15 is not a window on the person of Satan and his five “I will”s, but Jesus himself applied verse 12 to Satan in Luke 10:18, and the Apostle John does the same in John 12:31; 16:11; and Revelation 12:7-9, 11.

  1. In the midst of economic and environmental disaster, our hope is in Christ our King who calls a remnant (Isaiah 15:1-17:14).

  1. In the midst of civil strife abroad and at home, national defeat, economic and environmental disaster, and confusion in our government, our hope is in Christ our Healer and our peace (Isaiah 18:1-20:6).