Sunday, November 21, 2010

Isaiah 54-55 - Come to the Waters

Meissonier's Isaiah
Contextual Notes: Since chapter 40, Isaiah has offered comfort to his people and the nations. In Isaiah 53, we reached a peak in the prophecy where Isaiah identifies the Suffering Servant as the Branch (4:2), the stump (6:13), the Royal Child (7:14), and root of Jesse (11:1), and the Servant who is a divine-human king (42:1-9; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12). Now the work of the Servant who suffered our rejection (52:13-53:3), died for our salvation (53:4-9), and arose for our justification (53:10-12) is complete. It is done. It is finished.

Now Isaiah bursts into praise (chapter 54) that the future is secured with great benefits. Isaiah invites whoever will to come and be satisfied (55:1-5), but that choice involves submission to his Word (55:6-13).

Key Truth: Isaiah wrote Isaiah 54-55 to show Israel that the Suffering Servant offers an unshakeable, unfailing love and a free and abundant pardon.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about the benefits of submitting to the Servant-Messiah.
Key Verse: Isaiah 55:1-2
Pray and Read:  Isaiah 54-55

Sermon Points:
1.   His love for you is unfailing and unshakeable (Isaiah 54)
2.   His pardon for you is free and abundant (Isaiah 55)

Exposition:   Note well,

a.   Because of the completed work of the Servant, Isaiah bursts into praise. The future is assured. A new age has dawned. God’s covenant of peace is at last in force forever (54:1-10) with great benefits (54:11-17).

b.   54:1 O barren woman: The barren woman suffered shame as well as a terrible void in her life (cf. Hannah in 1 Samuel 1). Because of the Suffering Servant (chap. 53), we who have been barren (Sarah – Genesis 19), empty without God and have fallen short morally will know joy.

c.   54:2-3 – Your tent: The tent imagery and language recalls their father Abraham who dwelt in tents, calling to mind the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17:15-19). It also refers to the children of Israel in the Wilderness. His promise of the Land will be fulfilled (Exodus 3:8; 34:10-11) and the nations (Post-exilic Israel may be very small, but one day they will fill the Promised Land.

d.   54:5 – Divine Servant: For your husband (He has an intimate relationship) is your Maker (He is Creator). YHWH (personal name of God) Sabaot (Warrior) is his Name. Your Kinsman Redeemer (goel) is the Holy One of Israel.

e.   54:6-8 – Your husband: Isaiah has used this image before (50:1-2). Prophets used the husband/wife analogy often to portray God’s relationship with Israel. Israel is the unfaithful wife who runs after pagan deity lovers in idolatry (cf. Hosea, Isaiah’s contemporary, Hosea 3:1). In anger, God was forced to abandon her for a time (Jeremiah 31:31-34). God is a faithful and compassionate husband who will restore His people to their special relationship with Him.

f.    54:8 – compassion: The Hebrew word here is raham, a term that means ‘to love deeply,’ thus to be compassionate. Isaiah uses it frequently (Isaiah 13:18; 27:11; 30:18; 49:10, 13; 54:7, 10; 60:10). The verb is used a total 47 times in the OT. In 35 occurrences, it is used to describe God’s love for human beings. Some other examples are found in Exodus 33:19; Deuteronomy 13:17; 30:3; 2 Kings 13:23; Psalm 102:13; 103:13; 116:5; Jeremiah 12:15; 13:14; 31:20; 33:26; Lamentations 3:32; Ezekiel 39:25; Hosea 1:6-7; 2:23; Micah 7:19; Zechariah 10:6.

g.   54:9-10 – Covenant with Noah: The last picture is of the covenant with Noah, in which God promised never again to destroy the earth (Genesis 9:8-17). God transforms this commitment into a promise that God will never again destroy Israel.

h.   54:10 – Covenant of Peace: This expression is also found in Ezekiel 34:25-31 and is linked with the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31. Its benefits become possible only after the Messiah forgives the sins of God’s people and makes them righteous. God will Himself teach his people, and they will be established in righteousness (Jeremiah 31:31-34). But the focus of this covenant is on security. God will throw a protective covering over His people so that they will be safe. While this covenant speaks to the end-times, it has present application for us.

i.     APPLICATION: God the Holy Spirit is Himself “a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (Ephesians 1:14). Because we are God’s own, we are safe and secure. Paul understood it this way (Galatians 4:21-27).

j.    54:11-17 – Benefits of peace: This peace will bring three consequences:

                 i.    Prosperity – precious stones to build Jerusalem (54:11-12; Revelation 21:18-21).
                ii.    Serene faithfulness to the Lord (54:13-14)
              iii.    Absolute security because God will provide impregnable defense (54:15-17).

a.   55:1-5: A voice cries out to the thirsty, urging them to respond, inviting them to come and be satisfied. Isaiah associates this banquet with eternal life (25:6-8).

b.   55:1 – Without cost: It costs us nothing. It cost Christ everything.

c.   ILLUSTRATION: Bonhoeffer “cheap grace.”

d.   55:3-5 – Davidic covenant: Not only does the Servant make complete the Abrahamic covenant, but he fulfills the Covenant with David (2 Samuel 7:11; 1 Chronicles 17:14; Matthew 1:17; Acts 13:34) and invites the thirsty to a royal banquet, a picture of the end-time feast of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Matthew 22:1-14). The aspects of the Messiah (55:4-5; cf. 52:15; 53:10b, 12a).

e.   55:6-7 – freely/abundantly pardon: It is in the free pardon that God offers the wicked that the sharpest difference between God’s thoughts and our thoughts are seen. We feel anger and outrage and call for revenge. God feels compassion and love and extends mercy. There seems to be a time limit on this offer (55:6). The day will come when we will no longer have the option of turning to the Creator in repentance (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7)

f.    Are all saved? No (Matthew 22:1-14). Isaiah makes it clear that a moral choice is involved. The wicked are welcome, but they must give up their way. The Hebrew word here for “turn, return” is shuv, the word for repent, to turn around in direction. The decision to come to God also involves submission to Him, to the Servant.

g.   55:8-9: Submission: We must abandon the arrogance that leads us to stand in judgment on God’s ways and submit to Him whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours. Jesus, repeated this message of forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35).

h.   55:10-13: Because God’s thoughts and ways are so far above our own, his words are life-giving and like gentle rain. Those who do submit to that Word of God, which is like life-giving rain from heaven, will share in a harvest of everlasting joy.