Good evening church. Welcome, and I’m glad you chose to spend your evening with us tonight, investing in your relationship with the Lord. Someone suggested to me that when we begin growth groups again that we shake everything up and mix the groups, the leaders, put the people in different places, to create more relationships. So, I want to remind you that you do get to pick where you land, and if you want to try a different group, do it!
I kinda feel like we do that when we gather on Wednesday nights as we fellowship, and assigning groups is a lot like having assigned seats at a wedding reception. Who wants to get stuck sitting next to the pastor at a party?
Tonight we are in Isaiah chapter 30. Remember we are in a section here where God is laying out a series of woes against the southern kingdom of Judah, who has at this point been distracted by other things. God has taken a back seat in their lives, and this makes them subject to having blessing removed and judgement put in their place. You guys have heard me say often, that I want to learn the tough lessons from other peoples lives. I don’t want to suffer, so if I can learn that lesson from watching other people make choices, or take a road that doesn’t lead to life, it leads to death, my hope is that I’ll learn from those observations and not have to repeat painful things God gave me the opportunity to learn through observation rather than experimentation.
Remember that Isaiah is broken up into two major sections the first 39 chapters are part prophecy, part historical. In fact we are approaching chapters 36-39 about the Assyrian conquest which is largely repeated or very similar to what we read in Kings. Once we get to chapter 40, the whole of the remainder is prophetic.
Let’s pray - give us understanding of application in our own lives. Isaiah 30:1
1 “Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, That they may add sin to sin;
What God is telling me, is not what I want to do. I have chosen my way, and it is continuing to lead me down a path that is adding sin to sin. Governed by appetites, governed by flesh, governed by popular opinion. We need to be very, very careful of this. Proverbs tells us... Pro 14:12
12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
At this point in Israel’s history, this is not the first time God has given them instruction and they have chosen their own way. It is not the first time that they have faced a horrific enemy, that God made a way of escape from, but they rejected it, they rejected God, and received the judgement for doing so. The most valuable thing we can learn from reading the stories about God interacting with Israel, or God interacting with anyone in the Bible, is how to hear to the voice of God and to heed to it, to obey it. Not weigh it among other opinions as if God was one of your social media friends.
Right now, the context of what we are reading is there is a terrible enemy coming from the East. The Assyrian armies are coming and they have defeated and destroyed everyone and everything in their path. The northern kingdom of Israel, the 10 tribes to the north have already fallen into idolatry and they fall to Assyria, the people are driven from the land.
Every village and town in between has fallen, and Assyria really has their eyes on the treasure trove that lays in Egypt. And historically, we can see that they didn’t stop there, but there was an even more formidable force in norther Africa, were modern day Sudan would be, and the Assyrians with their professional warriors conquered them as well. Jerusalem is like this little island sitting in the middle and directly in the way, and they know it.
The wise thing to do would be to repent and cry out to the Lord. The wise thing for America to do would be to repent and to cry out to the Lord. The wise thing for the church to do would be to repent and to cry out to the name of the Lord. To reject all that they church has put before God. We look at the nation of Israel historically and the judgement that God brought on His own people. What about our own country. What about all the innocent blood we have on our hands. Killing our own children, trafficking, abuse, injustice. How much longer until God judges our land? God will not allow this to go on without judgement. Pride will be punished. Even within the church, there is a self centeredness that is not of God, it is nothing like God, that needs to be corrected. We don’t want to be rebellious children. We don’t want to be on a path that seems right to a man, but we want to be fully submitted to God and the Word of God. That means so radical change needs to happen so we are not adding sin to sin.
2 Who walk to go down to Egypt, And have not asked My advice, To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, And to trust in the shadow of Egypt! 3 Therefore the strength of Pharaoh Shall be your shame, And trust in the shadow of Egypt Shall be your humiliation.
Now we know historically this is exactly what happened! The Assyrians came down the Egyptians came to meet them in battle and who won? The Assyrians. So they couldn’t protect them, only God could. Look at the description here of Egypt (a shadow) it looks like something, but in reality, there is nothing there for you in the way of protection.
Lots of times it is the same way in our lives. It may not be a physical battle, it may be a spiritual one. Where God puts His finger on something in our lives that we know is wrong, we know is sin, and we say, no God. I don’t want to change that, or I don’t want to acknowledge that what I am doing is not honoring you, so I’m going to do this other thing instead…and we are adding sin to sin…and consequences to come. This just feels right, look out! Jesus instructed us to deny ourselves. We are going to have an opportunity to do that together as a church in January, I’ll share more with you about on Sunday morning. Hoping the Lord uses it to put some things in order.
So God is telling Judah to repent and turn to Him, and they say, I don’t want to hear that, I want to try this other way. The truth is offensive to me, so I will go my own way, seek my own counsel, I know if I ask enough people, someone will tell me what I want to hear,…you don’t have to look far for that today, someone will surely agree with you. This all reminded me of Jehoshaphat, you guys may remember he was a King of Judah before this time. Currently, they are under the rule of Hezekiah, who was probably the best king they ever had, to be followed by Manasseh his son who was probably the worst. We will see that Hezekiah basically works to rescue them, before we get to chapter 40,...
But in a previous time, when they had ongoing skirmishes with Syria, Jehoshaphat goes to the king of the north and says we should unite against our enemy, maybe lets ask God. You can turn there if you’d like, I’ll read it to you, out of 1 Kings 22:4
4 So he said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight at Ramoth Gilead?” Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”
5 Also Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Please inquire for the word of the Lord today.” 6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go against Ramoth Gilead to fight, or shall I refrain?” So they said, “Go up, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king.” 7 And Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?” 8 So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say such things!”
This has become the nation that we live in, sadly it applies to much of the church in America as well. I know what the Bible says about this, I know what God says about this, but I want to do this instead, or yeah but, I think this, or I feel this way. This is exactly what Isaiah is dealing with here! But it didn’t end in Judah back in the day. 2 Tim 4:3-4
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
Let’s continue in our chapter with verse 4, Isa 30:4-5
4 For his princes were at Zoan, And his ambassadors came to Hanes. 5 They were all ashamed of a people who could not benefit them, Or be help or benefit, But a shame and also a reproach.”
Those that they turned to in Egypt looked at Judah with shame, because there was no profit in a relationship with them, there was nothing that Judah could do for them.
6 The burden against the beasts of the South. Through a land of trouble and anguish, From which came the lioness and lion, The viper and fiery flying serpent, They will carry their riches on the backs of young donkeys, And their treasures on the humps of camels, To a people who shall not profit; 7 For the Egyptians shall help in vain and to no purpose. Therefore I have called her Rahab-Hem-Shebeth.
No in my Bible there is a little note at the bottom of the page explaining this name to literally mean Rahab Sits Idle…meaning that they brought their treasure, they placed their faith in a people and it was all in vain, Egypt did nothing for them, but just sat by and watched. Rahab is a name, but it also is the Hebrew word for pride, and that gives additional application here.
8 Now go, write it before them on a tablet, And note it on a scroll, That it may be for time to come, Forever and ever: 9 That this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who will not hear the law of the Lord; 10 Who say to the seers, “Do not see,” And to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. 11 Get out of the way, Turn aside from the path, Cause the Holy One of Israel To cease from before us.”
They are saying, OK, we want religion, but not the right things, not the truthful things, we want prophets and advisers that will tell us the things that we want to hear that agree with the way that we feel. Truth being irrelevant. So He gives them this warning… Isa 30:12-14
12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel: “Because you despise this word, And trust in oppression and perversity, And rely on them, 13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you Like a breach ready to fall, A bulge in a high wall, Whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant. 14 And He shall break it like the breaking of the potter’s vessel, Which is broken in pieces; He shall not spare. So there shall not be found among its fragments A shard to take fire from the hearth, Or to take water from the cistern.”
Total destruction comes from turning away from the Lord, but even in this pronouncement of judgement…in the middle of this woe, God says let me remind you, this is not my desire for you. I’m not angry and unwilling to hear your repentance and once again embrace you…look at it, verse 15
15 For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not,
Stop justifying your sin, and allowing compromise in your life turn to me, return to me and rest. No more chaos, no more crazy, confidence shall be your strength because it is no longer in you, but in the Lord and there is peace there, only there. But you would not… You see the enemy all around and all you have to do is turn to me. Can God save when the odds and the circumstances say it’s too late? Of course He can, and He does. One angel does as they come in and 185,000 of the Assyrians are wiped out in a single night. Why? Repentance, they finally, finally did. But how much suffering, death, and misery did they incur before they finally did?
16 And you said, “No, for we will flee on horses”— Therefore you shall flee! And, “We will ride on swift horses”— Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift! 17 One thousand shall flee at the threat of one, At the threat of five you shall flee, Till you are left as a pole on top of a mountain And as a banner on a hill. 18 Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him.
If you know the history of Israel. You know Israel falls, all except for Jerusalem. They fall away again, about 140 years later the Babylonians come in and take them into captivity where they remain for 70 years. And they come back into the land and begin to rebuild. I talked about this at a men’s breakfast not long ago. And I bring it up again because this occurred after these events.
They come back and they have rebuilt the wall, but they are filled once again with compromise and doing certain things that they aren’t supposed to be doing. I’m going to be in chapter 9, but I want to start with some background from chapter 8. Neh 8:1
1 Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel.
What is interesting to me, is clearly, God is looking for a generation that will hear His voice and obey. When you look at the timeline in Isaiah. This battle with the Assyrians happens, about 140 years later they are taken captive by the Babylonians for 70 years before they begin to come back into the land. So a little over 200 years, 2020, or 30 I didn’t do the math, but where does that put us on God’s patience calendar? I’m not saying He has one of those, I do believe that God deals with us individually and with the nations as well. But how old is America now? How long have we turned away from our heritage?
Ezra brings the book, he opens the book, the people wanted to hear it and were attentive to the book of the Law, verse 4 says,
4 So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.
It says they lifted up their hands and they began to worship God with their faces to the ground, they began to weep. Why were they weeping? Because their lives, their history was all right there in the Scriptures! Neh 8:9
9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.
If you read chapter 9 the people repented, they confessed their sins, they continued to read, and confess, and they worshiped. It’s interesting as we read on in Isaiah, we will see that they repent under Hezekiah, but it is only temporary. And they allow compromise back in and the cycle is repeated. And now you have these people in Nehemiah's day, hearing the Word of the Lord repenting, and looking back on their history. IF you look at chapter 9 starting in verse 26, Neh 9:26-27
26 “Nevertheless they were disobedient And rebelled against You, Cast Your law behind their backs And killed Your prophets, who testified against them To turn them to Yourself; And they worked great provocations. 27 Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies, Who oppressed them; And in the time of their trouble, When they cried to You, You heard from heaven; And according to Your abundant mercies You gave them deliverers who saved them From the hand of their enemies.
28 “But after they had rest, They again did evil before You. Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies, So that they had dominion over them; Yet when they returned and cried out to You, You heard from heaven; And many times You delivered them according to Your mercies, 29 And testified against them, That You might bring them back to Your law. Yet they acted proudly, And did not heed Your commandments, But sinned against Your judgments, ‘Which if a man does, he shall live by them.’ And they shrugged their shoulders, Stiffened their necks, And would not hear.
30 Yet for many years You had patience with them, And testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; For You are God, gracious and merciful.
So they are now looking back a few hundred years and seeing what they people did, with the realization that now is their time, it is their day and how are they going to respond to God. What are they going to let come before God? Are we willing to allow the Word of the Lord to rebuke the way that they think, and the way that they feel? Are we? The rest of chapter 30 and 31 continue on with the truth of how foolish it is to place trust anywhere but with God. verse 19
19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; When He hears it, He will answer you. 20 And though the Lord gives you The bread of adversity and the water of affliction, Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, But your eyes shall see your teachers. 21 Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left. 22 You will also defile the covering of your images of silver, And the ornament of your molded images of gold. You will throw them away as an unclean thing; You will say to them, “Get away!”
23 Then He will give the rain for your seed With which you sow the ground, And bread of the increase of the earth; It will be fat and plentiful. In that day your cattle will feed In large pastures. 24 Likewise the oxen and the young donkeys that work the ground Will eat cured fodder, Which has been winnowed with the shovel and fan. 25 There will be on every high mountain And on every high hill Rivers and streams of waters, In the day of the great slaughter, When the towers fall. 26 Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, And the light of the sun will be sevenfold, As the light of seven days, In the day that the Lord binds up the bruise of His people And heals the stroke of their wound.
27 Behold, the name of the Lord comes from afar, Burning with His anger, And His burden is heavy; His lips are full of indignation, And His tongue like a devouring fire. 28 His breath is like an overflowing stream, Which reaches up to the neck, To sift the nations with the sieve of futility; And there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, Causing them to err.
29 You shall have a song As in the night when a holy festival is kept, And gladness of heart as when one goes with a flute, To come into the mountain of the Lord, To the Mighty One of Israel. 30 The Lord will cause His glorious voice to be heard, And show the descent of His arm, With the indignation of His anger And the flame of a devouring fire, With scattering, tempest, and hailstones. 31 For through the voice of the Lord Assyria will be beaten down, As He strikes with the rod.
32 And in every place where the staff of punishment passes, Which the Lord lays on him, It will be with tambourines and harps; And in battles of brandishing He will fight with it. 33 For Tophet was established of old, Yes, for the king it is prepared. He has made it deep and large; Its pyre is fire with much wood; The breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, Kindles it.
Lets take just a couple of minutes in chapter 31 because it is tied together with chapter 30.
1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, And rely on horses, Who trust in chariots because they are many, And in horsemen because they are very strong, But who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, Nor seek the Lord! 2 Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster, And will not call back His words, But will arise against the house of evildoers, And against the help of those who work iniquity. 3 Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; And their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out His hand, Both he who helps will fall, And he who is helped will fall down; They all will perish together. 4 For thus the Lord has spoken to me: “As a lion roars, And a young lion over his prey (When a multitude of shepherds is summoned against him, He will not be afraid of their voice Nor be disturbed by their noise), So the Lord of hosts will come down To fight for Mount Zion and for its hill.
5 Like birds flying about, So will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it; Passing over, He will preserve it.” 6 Return to Him against whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted. 7 For in that day every man shall throw away his idols of silver and his idols of gold—sin, which your own hands have made for yourselves.
8 “Then Assyria shall fall by a sword not of man, And a sword not of mankind shall devour him. But he shall flee from the sword, And his young men shall become forced labor.
When the Word of the Lord confronts or corrects you, my counsel is to receive it, to repent, to fast and to pray, and to seek His face, to return and to rest in Him, allowing Him to restore and to be your strength in quietness and confidence.
Grace and Peace