Good evening church! One important announcement that I haven’t yet decided if I’ll announce on Sunday, or just let the Wednesday faithful know…next week is our last Wednesday night service for 10 weeks as we enter into our Growth Group Fall Kickoff. Since it is our last midweek service for awhile we will break break in two ways. We will be sharing communion together…and we will be sharing hamburger and hod dog buns together!
So at 6 p.m. we will have what we call an Agape Feast, in your family it might be a pot luck. The church will provide burgers and dogs (buns and condiments), and if you are able maybe bring some baked beans, a salad, a Freshies pizza, or a dessert. If you’d like something to drink besides water or coffee, maybe bring something to share in that regard.
So 6 pm for that, and our regular Worship will begin at 6:30 for those that are unable to join us for the meal.
As we began with prayer tonight, I was reminded that we left off with a prayer of Isaiah last week. I say a prayer of Isaiah, certainly, He said it, or wrote it and in a sense it was his prayer, but remember this was written about 150 years before the Babylonian captivity, so it also could have been the prayer of the remnant that was in captivity. It absolutely could have been a prayer that Daniel would have prayed.
But this prayer began back in chapter 63, around the middle of the chapter, and continued on all throughout chapter 64. And if you recall, there was an acknowledgement, after first blaming God, they said, oh, but we are an unclean thing. Our iniquities have taken us away from you. And then really a plea. God you are the Potter, we are the clay. So you made us, formed us, we bear your image, yes we are a mess, but we are you’re mess…so will You restrain Yourself and hold Your peace because of these things O’ God?
In Chapter 65 God answers their prayer. Well more accurately, God responds. When I say He answers their prayer, I don’t want you to get the impression that many do. When you hear someone say, I prayed and prayed and prayed and finally, God answered my prayer. What is your assumption? He gave me my prize! Or whatever it was, He said yes and gave me what I wanted. So here, I think we should more accurately say God responds. Lets look at it together.
1 “I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ To a nation that was not called by My name.
This is such a great chapter for us to see the importance of studying the entire Word of God! First of all, I always think people’s impressions of this topic is a bit comical. If I were to ask you if you pursued God, were you diligently seeking, and then you suddenly found God, or did He find you? Which one of you was lost? I think the Gospel of Luke kinda settles the argument when it says that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Maybe that’s too simple of an answer, but I know that me personally, am too simple to have even known that I should have been searching for Him.
I do know that people were praying for me. And that seemed to make be a little less done. I think it helped develop a consciousness inside of me of my sin. I started to feel guilty about things that I never felt guilty about. I know know that that was the Holy Spirit of God drawing me in. Allowing me to recognize my need for a Savior.
He says here, Here I am, Here I am, to a nation that was not called by My name. The value of the rest of the Bible here…The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans chapter 9 that this is talking about the Gentiles. Why does that matter, or why is it important to us today? Because most of us here in Old Town are not Jews, if you are not a Jew, you are a Gentile.
I love how simple God keeps things for us, Jew or Gentile, male or female, sinner or Saint, Heaven or Hell. Nice and simple so we call all understand it. Even if we don’t like every part of it, or even if that’s not the way we would do things if we were God. I like it simple. So in Romans 9 he tells us this includes us and then in Romans 10 he actually quotes this whole section saying Isaiah was very bold and said to God…and God responded as he quotes this. Now in verse 2
2 I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts;
Again, this is God’s response to that prayer and He responds righteously. He responds in one way towards the remnant. Those that were true worshipers of His and a completely different way to those who were just practicing religious ritual. Those who walk in a way that is not good. He is referring to those who are a rebellious people. Those who do things their way rather than God’s way. Not according to the Scriptures, but according to their own thoughts.
There is so much in the Scriptures that address this, because we need to see it and be reminded of it. Some of you have as your favorite verses Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
When you read about the depraved conditions that we are told about in the book of Judges the bible tells us. Judges 17:6
6 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
That is America’s utopia. I’ll do it my way! Not just I’ll make my own way, I don’t want to be dependent, but to be a rebellious people and do everything according to my own thoughts. God says this, but I’m going to do this. We see it with non-believers all the time. Proverbs 14:12
12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
But the bible tells us that this should not be the heart of the believer in anyway. That is what it means to make Jesus your Lord. He is the boss. His will is written on your heart. If you love Him, you do what He commands, not things according to our own thoughts. But we are to have a complete renewing of our minds. Paul tells us Romans 12:2
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Where where we, verse 3 Isa 65:3-4
3 A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face; Who sacrifice in gardens, And burn incense on altars of brick; 4 Who sit among the graves, And spend the night in the tombs; Who eat swine’s flesh, And the broth of abominable things is in their vessels;
This looks like a whole bunch of houses I drive past on my way to church. Skeletons, and witches, and tombstones on display in their front yards…in celebration of the day of the dead? That doesn’t honor God! That provokes God. It’s doing things according to your own thoughts. God is very clear in the Bible about not trying to communicate with the dead. Actually, read the story about Lazarus and the rich man in Luke chapter 16. It tells us there that between us and them there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’
That means that if someone says they can connect you to a dead relative, they are a liar, and if there is the appearance that they can, it is nothing more than a demon posing as an angel of light.
Continuing on in verse 5, Isa 65:5-7
5 Who say, ‘Keep to yourself, Do not come near me, For I am holier than you!’ These are smoke in My nostrils, A fire that burns all the day. 6 “Behold, it is written before Me: I will not keep silence, but will repay— Even repay into their bosom— 7 Your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together,” Says the Lord, “Who have burned incense on the mountains And blasphemed Me on the hills; Therefore I will measure their former work into their bosom.”
See why I say this is more of a response to the prayer, rather than an answer to prayer? Imagine the pride of man, to respond to God, God with arms outstretched to you in your rebellion and say, keep to yourself, don’t come near, I’m holier than you! We live in such a time as this! The the pride of man is so great and the blindness so deep and dark, that they say this with sincerity. With belief that it is true. They don’t like the things that God says. He doesn’t do things the way that they would do them, so they say, stay away, my way is better, I’m be my own Savior.
And God says, you are like smoke in My nostrils. That’s awesome. Ever go to a campfire, and no matter where you sit, you just can’t get rid of the irritating smoke drifting right in your face, in your eyes, up your nose, so that even when you leave it, the smell stays with you? God says, that’s you rebellious people, I won’t keep silent, I will repay. Another important reason for us to have the rest of the bible, because we see that the payment is an eternity in hell, if we don’t accept the payment that Jesus made on our behalf. And that He still stretched out His arms, inviting repentance. Now we see this back and forth between the remnant and the rebellious.
Isaiah 65:8–10 (NKJV)
8 Thus says the Lord: “As the new wine is found in the cluster, And one says, ‘Do not destroy it, For a blessing is in it,’ So will I do for My servants’ sake, That I may not destroy them all.
9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, And from Judah an heir of My mountains; My elect shall inherit it, And My servants shall dwell there.
10 Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, And the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, For My people who have sought Me.
This is really God picking through a completely rotten cluster of grapes. Covered in fruit flies, digging around and finding a couple of good grapes. Isaiah, Daniel, those that are a part of the remnant. The few that were faithful and true worshippers of God, doing it His way, not their own way.
11 “But you are those who forsake the Lord, Who forget My holy mountain, Who prepare a table for Gad, And who furnish a drink offering for Meni. 12 Therefore I will number you for the sword, And you shall all bow down to the slaughter; Because, when I called, you did not answer; When I spoke, you did not hear, But did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.”
Have you ever stopped to think about the emotions of God, or how God feels? I won’t ask for a raise of hands, but consider how many of us in this room have experienced heart break. How deeply that wounds us. Now consider how imperfect and selfish our love is compared to the perfect agape love of God. How deeply is must hurt we we rebel against Him. When we chose to worship other things. Or even ourselves, putting our ways above His ways.
So when He sees us going off the rails, He doesn’t just cut us off, but calls out to us. You Christians know that when you are tempted to sin. When you know something is wrong for you to do, and your flesh is calling out to you, and the devil is tempting you to do it even though you know it’s wrong and God says don’t do it. I love you. Well this is saying God called, you recognized it was God and you hit the red button instead of the green. You dismissed His call and you did not answer. When He spoke you didn’t hear. God calls it evil.
Maybe you were considering doing something that doesn’t honor Him, or something you knew to be sin, and a brother or sister came along side, not in an accusatory way, but in love and said, hey what are you doing? Come with me instead. But rather than listen, rather than hear, these guys chose evil and the things in which God does not delight.
13 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, My servants shall eat, But you shall be hungry; Behold, My servants shall drink, But you shall be thirsty; Behold, My servants shall rejoice, But you shall be ashamed; 14 Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, But you shall cry for sorrow of heart, And wail for grief of spirit. 15 You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen; For the Lord God will slay you, And call His servants by another name; 16 So that he who blesses himself in the earth Shall bless himself in the God of truth; And he who swears in the earth Shall swear by the God of truth; Because the former troubles are forgotten, And because they are hidden from My eyes.
Now, to me this is where things get really interesting.
17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem, And joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying.
13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
20 “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labor in vain, Nor bring forth children for trouble; For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord, And their offspring with them.
24 “It shall come to pass That before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” Says the Lord.
Grace and Peace