Isaiah: Prince of Prophets—“The Word of God Shall Stand Forever”

Isaiah: Prince of Prophets  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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In preaching through Isaiah’s Prophecy, we’ve entered a segment of the Foretelling where the Prophet has looked 140 years into the future and sees Judah in captivity in Babylon. The nation has been destroyed. The city of Jerusalem lies in ruins. The Temple of the Lord has been looted and torched. The people who have survived have been carried off as slaves to Babylon. There they hang their harps on the branches of the Willow trees because there is nothing to sing about. They weep and despair of ever seeing home again.

But God has given the Prophet a message of hope: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people.” Then there follows a marvelous, unbelievable prophecy that there will be a visitation of God. He will come to His people:

“A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:3–5, NIV84)

But how can the people be sure? How can they have confidence in the Lord’s visitation? Because God has said so, and His Word stands forever.

The verse that follows is one of the great passages defending The Authority of God’s Word. Because God’s Word stands, His prophecy that the people would be restored to their land was sure to be fulfilled.

The verse breaks into two natural parts, and makes a contrast: Some things are temporary—like grass and flowers, but some things are permanent—like God’s Word.


    • “The grass withers and the flowers fall ... “ (Isa. 40:8a, NIV)
            1. everything we see in this earth is temporal and transient
                1. we live in a dissolving culture
                    1. nations that were once powerful, are no longer
                    2. kings and potentates that once ruled, are in their tombs
                    3. economies that once dominated, have gone bust
                2. in verse 7, Isaiah reminds his readers that, like the grass, nations and their leaders fulfill their purposes and then fade away
                  • “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.” (Psalm 103:15–18, NIV84)
            2. more than any other book in the Bible, Ecclesiastes speaks of the futility of all the things we seem to value in this life
                1. anyone who has ever read the Book of Ecclesiastes will recognize that it has an almost haunting theme
                    1. it’s text seems melancholy and even cynical
                    2. the writer has taken a look at life and concluded that much — if not all of it — is meaningless
                2. and he tells us so in no uncertain terms! In the very first chapter, we read these words:
                  • “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2–7, NIV84)
                  • “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NIV84)
                  • “I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:12–14, NIV84)
                3. the rest of the book continues in the same bleak and disillusioned tone
                    1. the author tells us that he has carefully looked at life for meaning and found none
                    2. he tells us that wisdom, the pursuit of pleasure, toil and hard work, riches and material wealth are all meaningless because they are all transitory—they will wither like the grass and fade like the flower
                    3. Solomon reaches a crescendo of fatalism in chapters eight and nine when he says that all men, weather righteous or wicked, weather good or bad, weather spiritually clean or spiritually unclean, weather they offer sacrifices to God or not, all face a common destiny
                    4. that destiny is death
            3. Solomon has examined every area of life:
                1. his search covered all the Humanities: Literature, Law, History, Philosophy, Religion, the Performing Arts, Technology, Anthropology, and Cultural Studies
                2. he examined wealth, power, religion, relationships, work, and play and finds them all transient, temporary, and meaningless
                    1. ultimately, they do not fulfill
            4. is life truly meaningless?
                1. of course not
                2. Solomon concludes his book, not in cynicism but in faith
                3. he writes in “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, NIV)
                4. in the end, Solomon reminds us that God and His Word, as found in his commandments, alone holds the key, and he must be trusted
            5. Some Things—in Fact Almost All Thing—in this World Are Temporary


    • “ ... but the word of our God stands forever” (Isa. 40:8b, NIV)
    • “For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:24–25, NIV84)
            1. the close connection between God and his word means that the qualities attributed to God’s word also describe God’s own personal character
                1. the Old Testament is filled with descriptions of God’s Word
                2. God’s Word is ...
                    1. creative (Ps. 33:6),
                    2. good (Mic. 2:7),
                    3. holy (Jer. 23:9),
                    4. complete (Jer. 26:2),
                    5. flawless (2 Sam. 22:31; Pss. 12:6; 18:30; Prov. 30:5),
                    6. all-sufficient (Deut. 8:3; Isa. 50:4; Jer. 15:16),
                    7. sure (Isa. 31:2; 45:23; Jer. 44:28),
                    8. right and true (Judg. 13:12, 17; 1 Sam. 3:19; Ps. 33:4; Isa. 55:11),
                    9. understandable (Deut. 4:10, 12, 36; Neh. 8:12),
                    10. active (Hos. 6:5),
                    11. all-powerful (Pss. 68:11–14; 147:15–18),
                    12. indestructible (Jer. 23:29),
                    13. supreme (Ps. 17:4),
                    14. eternal (Ps. 119:89; Isa. 40:8),
                    15. life-giving (Deut. 32:46–47),
                    16. wise (Ps. 119:130), and
                    17. trustworthy (2 Sam. 7:28; 1 Kings 17:16)
                3. therefore, God is all those things as well


            1. the prophet tells us that our Scriptures are the word
                1. the Bible is not just great literature
                2. the Bible is not just ancient history
                3. the Bible is not just a religious screed
            2. God seeks to reveal Himself to us—He speaks to us
            3. God is not some great Heavenly Hermit seeking to remain isolated from the crowd
                1. He activity seeks our recognition and our worship and so He reveals Himself and His glory to us
                2. the sweeping affirmation of Hebrews 1:1 is that God has spoken through a special and peculiar people
                    1. He has done so through sundry times and divers manners
            4. the phrase at sundry times literally means in many portions
                1. God did not reveal all things about Himself or full details about His redemptive plan all at once
                    1. He gave it our in portions –
                        1. sometimes in small bits such at Genesis 3:14-15
                        2. sometimes in large amounts such as Isaiah 53
                    2. you might say it was revelation on the installment plan
                2. theologians call this progressive revelation
                    1. bit by bit, attribute by attribute, statute by statute, prophecy by prophecy, supernatural act by supernatural act God revealed His character and His redemptive plan to the Jewish people
            5. the Old Testament, for example, was written over the course of 1,500 years by some forty different authors
                1. those authors included kings and peasants, philosophers and fishermen, poets and statesmen, scholars and herdsman
                2. to each one was committed a certain measure of revelation, but in every case it was incomplete
            6. not only has God spoken at sundry times, He spoke in divers manners
                1. that means that God spoke in many different ways
                    1. God spoke through audible voice
                    2. God spoke through dreams and visions
                    3. God spoke through angels
                    4. God spoke through natural wonders and through supernatural displays of power
                2. the Bible as a whole was written on three different continents: Asia, Africa and Europe
                3. it was written in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek
                4. the literary types include: History, Law, Religious poetry, Parable, Allegory, Biography, Prophecy, and Personal correspondence
            7. in spite of the time involved and the diversity of authors, and the various kinds of literature, the Bible's message is remarkable consistent
                1. it progressively takes us from God's initial promise of a redeemer in Genesis, chapter three, to the fulfilment of that promise in the Gospels


            1. Isaiah emphasizes that this is God’s Word to Judah and not his word
                1. though it is Isaiah’s pen that writes, it is God’s hand that moves the pen
            2. if God had not spoken, we simply could not know Him
                1. the senses of man, marvelous as they are, are incapable of reaching beyond the natural world
                    1. for us to know anything about God, He must tell us
                    2. we could never know God if He did not reveal Himself to us
                2. thus, we’re told by the Biblical writers, God . . . spoke
                3. repeatedly we hear the Old Testament prophets declare, “Thus saith the Lord!”
                    1. over 400 times we hear them say it
            3. every other major world religion is man’s attempt to discover God
                1. weather it’s Buddha sitting under a tree waiting for enlightenment or the modern Wiccan looking for God in a tree or rock, man by himself is incapable of identifying, comprehending, or understanding God
            4. Christianity, on the other hand, is the story of God bursting into man’s world and showing and telling man what He is like
                1. He did this through the word of the Old Testament writers
                    1. He used men as instruments, but God Himself was behind their literary efforts
                    2. through His Holy Spirit, God enlightened and energized the authors of the Scriptures
                      • "So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:19-21 NASB95)
            5. the Bible is a book we can totally trust because it is a word from God


            1. it’s a word that was founded, fixed, and established forever in Heaven before the foundation of the world
              • “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89, NAS)
              • “Of old I have known from Your testimonies That You have founded them forever.” (Psalm 119:152, NAS)
              • “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” (Psalm 119:160, NAS)
              • ILLUS. In a vault in Paris, France sits The International Prototype Kilogram (IPK) or “Le Grand K,” made in 1889. It is a bar of platinum-iridium alloy which is the most corrosive-resistant metal in the world. It sits under two glass globes that are vacuum-sealed. This ‘official kilogram’ is the base standard for the metric system. But there’s a problem. The kilogram is losing weight—about 50 micrograms at last check—and that's not so good for a standard the world depends on to define mass. Many international scientists agree that it’s time to redefine it. Specks of dust are the culprit and these are affecting the weight of the kilo.
                1. in a world where even the seemingly perfect object changes, God proclaims that His eternal Word is absolutely fixed
                2. the Word was fixed in Heaven before Jesus was born
                  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1–3, NIV84)
                  • ILLUS. Thousands of years ago there were thirty-nine books in the in the Old Testament. There are still thirty-nine books in the Old Testament. In the first Christian centuries there were twenty-seven book in the New Testament. There are twenty-seven books in the New Testament today. They do not change. They are forever settled. They are fixed in Heaven. Some of you are familiar with the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were the most significant archaeological discovery of the 20th century. They provided us great assurance in the transmission of the Word of God. Up until they were discovered in the late 1940s, the old manuscripts we had for the Old Testament were written about A.D. 900. But the Dead Sea Scrolls are scrolls written before Christ. The most famous of these scrolls is The Great Isaiah Scroll and it is virtually identical to the tests written 1,000 year later! The transmission of the Word of God has been faithful and true. It is fixed by almighty God.

III. Lessons from Isaiah 40:8


            1. the Bible has God for its author, salvation for its end and that it has truth without any mixture of error for its matter
                1. that statement comes right out of our congregation’s Confession of Faith and I believe it’s a statement that supports the inerrancy, infallibility, and authority of the Bible
            2. we believe this because the Scriptures themselves maintain that they are inspired by God alone
              • /"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"? (2 Timothy 3:16, KJV)
                1. through the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, the writers of the Bible wrote exactly what God wanted us to know
                2. God used each writer’s unique writing style, cultural background and vocabulary, but the true author of the Bible is the Holy Spirit
                    1. you might say those men and women who penned the Bible are really Holy Ghost writers
            3. because the author of Scripture is God Himself, the Bible does not merely contain God’s revelation, it is the revelation of God to men
                1. it is completely true from Gen. 1:1 through Rev. 22:21


    • “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. 11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:7-11, NIV)
    • ILLUS. Charles H. Spurgeon, a great English pastor of the 19th century, wrote of the Bible: “The Bible is a vein of pure gold, unalloyed by quartz or any earthly substance. This is a star without a speck; a sun without a blot; a light without darkness; a moon without paleness; a glory without dimness."
            1. if the Bible is God’s true revelation, then that means it is an infallible document
            2. what do I mean by the word infallible?
                1. I’m glad you asked, let me explain it to you!
                2. it means that the Scriptures will do what they are designed to do – lead men and women, boys and girls – into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ
            3. the Bible tells us everything we need to know about the One in whom are deepest trust should be placed
                1. in its passages and through its pages, you will meet the living Lord
                  • “Search the scriptures; for . . . they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39, KJV)
                2. when the apostle John writes, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (John 1:12), you can know without a shadow-of-a-doubt that what he says is true


            1. the Bible is authoritative for our lives
                1. it warns us of dangerous behaviors and guides us safely through life
                  • ILLUS. In the early 18th century, Mr. John Thorpe was a member of an 'infamous' society known as the "Hell Fire Club". Among their amusements was that of holding imitations of religious services, and mimicking the popular ministers of the day. Thorpe went repeatedly to listen to George Whitfield preach, that he might caricature him before his profane associates. He listened to Whitfield so carefully that he perfectly caught the great evangelist's tones and his manner, and rhythm and gesture of preaching. When the "Hell Fire Club" next met, Thorpe launched into his impersonation of Whitefield. He opened the Bible that he might take a text to preach from it after the evangelist's manner. When he did, his eye fell on the passage, "Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish." As his friends laughed, Thorpe actually came under conviction, and was the means of his own conversion! He became an exemplary Christian leader in Bristol, England.
            2. The Bible Is Truth Without Any Mixture of Error
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