Sunday, March 13, 2011

Isaiah 63 - Who is this, Robed in Splendor?

Isaiah seeing the vision of chap. 6
Contextual Notes:
Bible scholars make a great deal out of Isaiah’s prophecies, saying they are a simply collection of unrelated sermons. Nearly everyone agrees that we cannot say they are written down in chronological order. Some say they were slapped hodgepodge together and have meaning only within each sermon, and they interpret them strictly within their historical context which with prophecy often leaves them guessing and speculating as to the actual time the message was spoken or for what time, perhaps hundreds or thousands of years later it was intended to be fulfilled.

I think we have established the wisdom of reading the text of Isaiah as a flowing theology that reveals the Messiah. Is Isaiah a collection of prophecies? Yes, of course. Are they put in a particular order as literature to teach us? Yes, I think we would agree they are. So while we pay attention to the historical context of the prophecies of Isaiah, we don’t allow it to overshadow the literary and linguistic power of the prophecy.

Isaiah’s prophecy focuses on one Royal, Priestly, Suffering, Divine Son of David. For 39 chapters He is the King coming to judge sin, then beginning at chapter 40, He is the comforting Servant who through suffering, dying, and rising (53), fulfills all God’s covenants (54-55), changing our future despite our present sinful condition (56). All we need to do is repent of our sin (57), and he will make us like Himself (58).

Sin destroys our relationships between with God and others (59:1-15a), but the Redeemer’s intercession (59:15b-21) we have hope, honor, transformation (60) -- the Messiah Himself in royal robes of righteousness proclaiming favor, prosperity, and joy (61).

The bridegroom (61:9-10) now turns to his delightful bride, his people, (62:1-5) and urges them to be watchmen in prayer for Messiah’s purpose (62:1-7), people (62:8-10), and proclamation (62:11-12).

Now the watchman sees Someone coming: Who is it, robed in splendor? He is a righteous, mighty Savior (63:1-6), a compassionate, kind Savior (63:7-14), and a zealous and mighty Redeemer (63:15-19).

Key Truth: Isaiah wrote Isaiah 63 to teach Israel about the Savior their Messiah.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about the Messiah.
Key Verse:
Pray and Read:  Isaiah 63

Sermon Points:
1.   He is a righteous and mighty Savior (Isaiah 63:1-6)
2.   He is a compassionate and kind Savior (Isaiah 63:7-14)
3.   He is zealous and a mighty Redeemer (Isaiah 63:15-19)

Exposition:   Note well,

a.   Now a watchman cries out to a Warrior approaching who is drenched in blood. Who is He? The Warrior is the Messiah, who has personally defeated the world powers that stood against him and now he has come to save His people (63:1-6).
b.   ILLUSTRATION: This passage of trampling out the vintage is the reference made in the politically infamous song about destroying the American South, the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
c.   ILLUSTRATION: Edom is singled for mention because of their treatment of the Jews when Jerusalem fell to Babylon in 586 B.C. The Edomites, cousins of the Jews, helped the Babylonians destroy the city and Solomon’s Temple (Psalm 137:1, 7ff). But it is widely agreed, even among liberal scholars that their name “Edom” sounds like “adam”, the word for the peoples. It is a pun. The NT supports this idea (Revelation 19:15).
d.   APPLICATION: In this day where there are people who cannot conceive of a God of love taking vengeance, this image of God’s Servant, the Messiah, putting down the rebellion of men to establish justice is fully in keeping with the OT’s revelation of God’s character. This vision of divine judgment should not give us pause – our own insensitivity to the injustices God hates should shock us.
a.   Beginning at 63:7 through 64:12, is a prayer for help, corporate intercession of the watchman of 62:6-7. Isaiah reminds the Lord of his covenant faithfulness in the past. The structure is similar to Psalm 44 and its content is comparable to Lamentations. The bloody image of 63:1-6 is balanced by the image of a compassionate shepherd in 63:7-14 who hears a confession of faith in God’s loyalty to His covenant with Israel at Sinai despite Israel’s frequent disloyalty (63:10). We see the value of covenant and the security of the believer.
b.   Isaiah breaks out in praise to God for His kindness (hesed), his Covenant faithfulness (63:7-10). It reminds Isaiah of God’s deliverance of Israel in the time of Moses (63:11-14).
c.   Note the Trinitarian references to God here. There is one YHWH: 63:7, but The Father (63:16); The Son (63:8); The Holy Spirit (63:11b, 14).
d.   APPLICATION: God punishes the rebellious but He is quick as a Savior to those who repent and he has chosen, even when they wander from Him.
e.   As believers in Jesus Christ and his righteousness, we look the other way from gambling in our own community, as a few people enrich themselves while families suffer under the poverty it creates. We keep our opinions to ourselves for business and political reasons when same-sex marriage is pushed on us and our children’s world.
f.    We complain that we should not send our money and certainly not our children as witnesses to the ends of the earth where there is no hope to hear the message of Christ when those dollars can stay here and be spent on ourselves, on a nice church-wide meal to feed our fat bellies or on buying Sunday School curriculum that we will lose or throw away before the quarter is gone.
g.   We spend our money eating in Asian restaurants where the staff’s lives are controlled through debt peonage and slavery wages. We walk in a bookstore and with an embarrassment of wealth get to choose what kind of Bible translation we want to buy while there are several thousand people groups without one Bible translation in their language.
h.   We have lost interest in our spouses because we have this thing for internet pornography, to watch somebody’s sex-trafficked daughter, locked in some room perform acts for our enjoyment. We dare someone to say something about the fact that we sleep with our girlfriend or boyfriend regularly. In our deception of ourselves, we think it is our business and our right to privacy. We think God is ok with it, but he is not.
i.    With a stench of self-centeredness, we matter-of-factly inform some stranger on Sunday morning that they are sitting in our seat, unaware that the stranger had decided that day to give God one more chance in their life. We claim to be pro-life but do business with pro-choice companies because we need to pay the bills.
j.    We want to present ourselves as the young person that is popular as a Christian but we also will do or say whatever is necessary to be popular at the parties, too. It doesn’t matter what new Kingdom area the Lord might lead our church in, we oppose it, claiming to be wisely managing our (I mean God’s) money.
k.   We take business trips, but when our meeting is over, what we participate in, what we drink, what we smoke, the sex-trafficked girls and boys we use -- in infidelity to our spouses and families -- all that stays in Vegas – and unfortunately it’s also recorded in heaven.
l.    We claim to be against abortion and be pro-life, but we choose to use chemical forms of birth control that our Christian doctor recommended (because it is the most lucrative part of the business) so that we can kill our own children whom we have conceived because we value convenience over life, and we rationalize it by calling it “being responsible.”
m. We butcher the waitress or the cashier with our tongues because we didn’t like their attitude with no idea that she might have had a miscarriage that morning. We have good information that a child is being molested at their home, but instead of contacting authorities and establishing righteousness, we say it’s none of our business, and the abuse goes on. We charge 25 and 35% interest to poor people and call it business.
n.   Our own sensitivity to the injustices God hates are shocking. And we are the evangelical, conservative believers! And we live this way actually believing nobody knows about it. And we live this way expecting God to answer our prayers because we are Christians! We actually expect revival in our community. Ha.
3.   HE IS A ZEALOUS AND MIGHTY REDEEMER (Isaiah 63:15-64:12)
a.   Why has God waited so long to act on Israel’s behalf? (63:15-19). Isaiah yearns for God to act (64:1-3), but is so terribly aware that His people continue to sin. How can God save a people whose righteous acts are like filthy rags in God’s sight? (64:4-7). God is not just a moral governor. He is like a Father to his people. In His love an grace the Lord will save those who appeal only to his mercy (64:8-12).
b.   63:16 – You, O Lord, are our Father. This is an awareness of a personal relationship with the Lord that Paul expresses in Romans 8.
d.   APPLICATION: Until we know God as “our Father” in a personal relationship, he will not be real to us, nor will we be bound to him permanently.