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Salvation in Isaiah 19 & 20

Last Friday we remembered with fondness the departure into God’s presence of our sister Betty Davis – our oldest member of this church. Betty, as we remarked in the funeral service was prepared and ready to meet the Lord God when her soul departed from her body. She was completely different from one of the Kings of England called ETHELRED. This man was never ready to meet his enemies when they came. All he could do when the enemy was at his door was to try to buy them off with gold and silver. During his reign the Danes often raided these shores – very successfully. He earned the nickname “Ethelred the unready”.

There was an Admiral in the last century named Admiral Fisher. He made the claim that the Royal Navy never required time for preparation for war – because the Navy has always been ready to strike – for the Royal Navy was always at war fighting fog and storm at sea. Readiness is the Navy’s watchword, looking out at all times for danger.

The foolishness of not being prepared for disaster was in our passage from Isaiah a fortnight ago – from Isaiah 19 v 1 – 17.

It is about a country, and Egypt is the example of such a country, which is subject to the judgement of Almighty God – and is not ready and prepared for it. Several disastrous calamities come on the Kingdom of Egypt according to Isaiah the prophet.

Political and physical disaster; and a Leadership disaster.

This chapter in Isaiah continue from verse 18 in a different direction. Now we hear the prophet Isaiah speaking of a change in Egypt – conversions!

18 In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction.

This remarkable prediction was fulfilled when Greek became the common language of Palestine, Egypt and Assyria. Alexander the great the mighty conqueror who annexed these countries brought the Greek language as the common tongue. We can recall that the Old Testament was translated from the Hebrew into Greek and we know it as the Septuagint – following the work of the 70 Hebrew Greek scholars who completed the work in the 3rd Century BC.

The influence of Judaism in this time is mentioned in the City of Destruction – probably referring to Heliopolis the city of the sun and a centre of Egyptian idol worship. Isaiah predicts that the idolatry rather than the city itself would be destroyed – which in effect came to pass. The Prophet Jeremiah corroborates this with his words in Jeremiah 43 v 13

He shall break also the images of Bethshemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire.

The HE referred to here is King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon whom Jehovah calls “my servant.” And we know that Nebuchadnezzar came to Egypt after successive invasions of the Assyrians. But even later than Nebuchadnezzar the Persians and Alexander the Great came – by which time the destruction of idolatry was complete.

Verses 19 & 20 refer to a spread of Judaism in Egypt during these centuries leading up to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. There were no actual altars raised in Egypt – that would have been against the Jewish law, there being only one altar – in Jerusalem. So it means that there were synagogues built and founded with Judaism spreading in many lands. Now this is significant because Isaiah predicts that Jews would cry to the Lord because of the oppressors – which brings us up to Roman days and the wide Empire that was built by the Caesars.

“They shall cry and He shall send them a Saviour, and a great one, and He shall deliver them.”

Here again we find the Gospel in Isaiah.

1. People cry!

When people cry to the Lord because they are under oppression then the Lord hears their cry and sends them a Saviour.

God’s people cried to Him many times in Bible history.

Exodus 3 v 7 And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

Under terrible oppression the Children of Israel called out to God – oh Lord save us from the terrible situation that we are in under the iron grip of the Egyptians. God knew their sorrows and used their distress to call them out of Egypt.

Often it is not until a person realises the seriousness of his or her position as a sinner against a Holy God that a cry comes from the lips – O Lord save me!

What is the sinner’s position?

Romans 3 v 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 1 v 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; (list of sins…)

Romans 1 v 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Romans 11 v 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Ecclesiastes 7 v 20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

Galatians 3 v 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin,

Have you realised the seriousness of your position tonight my friend?……

Then call on God to save you – as others have done!

2 Kings 13 v 4 And Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him: for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them.5 (And the LORD gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime.)

Seek the Lord while He may be found!

God has promised to hear those who genuinely cry out to Him in the hopelessness of their sins.

“They shall cry and He shall send them a Saviour, and a great one, and He shall deliver them.”

2. He shall send them a Saviour – a great One.

This is what the Lord God has done! He has sent His people a saviour – the Lord Jesus Christ – who came to Bethlehem – who was raised in Nazareth – and all the time of His first 30 years the people continued to cry to God by reason of their oppressors – in this case the Romans. Consider these texts that tell us of His coming, this saviour –

Isaiah 45 v 21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.

Isaiah 45 v 22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

Luke 2 v 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Titus 2 v 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

My friend what are you waiting for? The promised saviour in Isaiah’s time has come. He came 2000 years ago to purchase salvation for His people with His precious blood and His sacrificial death. Loves redeeming work is done – Hallelujah. Not only is he the saviour – but He is the saviour who is the great God! God Himself became the saviour! What a wonderful thing!

Is He your saviour? Is He your great God? Have you called upon Him to come and to save you from your sins?

3. He is a saviour who delivers.

“They shall cry and He shall send them a Saviour, and a great one, and He shall deliver them.”

Nahum Tate has written –

Of His deliverance I will boast till all that are distressed From my example comfort take and charm their griefs to rest The hosts of God encamp around the dwellings of the just Deliverance He affords to all who on His succour trust.

And Timothy Dwight –

Jesus thou friend divine Our saviour and our King, Thy hand from every snare and foe Shall great deliverance bring.

From what do we need to be delivered?

The wages of sin is death – we need to be delivered from what comes after death – deserved hell for sinners. Yet I am a sinner and deserve the wrath of God – How can the Saviour Jesus Christ deliver me or anyone else?

He can deliver my soul because He has paid the penalty for my sins. He has atoned for me. He has substituted for me. He took my place on the cross dying when I should have died. What a mighty deliverer He is.

This is what you should do if you are still not a Christian – Call on God to help you to realise that you are a sinner.

Call on God to deliver you through the merits of His holy Son the Lord Jesus Christ so that you can be saved from a terrible eternity in hell.

Call on God to forgive you – plead with Him to pardon you – ask Him to deliver you. He or she who comes to God like this will never be rejected – he has promised it!

This is how to be prepared to meet the Lord God.

In Chapter 20, in just 6 verses, Isaiah comes back to the conquest of Egypt by Assyria. Sargon was King of Assyria from 722 – 705 BC. In 711 BC Tartan, one of Sargon’s generals captured a place called Ashdod. Ashdod was one of the principle ports and strongholds of the Philistines. Ashdod was representative of the whole land of the Philistines similar to the fall of Baghdad being a turning point in the war with Iraq. Ashdod was on the way to Egypt – the enemy came closer and closer to them from the North – so Egypt’s overthrow was impending.

But God had a strange message for Isaiah at this time.

20 v 2 Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.

Let us get the picture here. Isaiah was a man who was used to moving amongst the courtiers, senior army officers, politicians and ambassadors from other countries in the King’s presence. God calls him to strip himself of his usual clothes that normally indicated his status as priest and prophet. Isaiah was called to be seen in public clad only in his underwear, with no shoes! And this was not merely a day, nor a week, nor even a month – but for three whole years. What a sensation this caused in Jerusalem – Isaiah was the talk of the town. “Have you heard about Isaiah what he was wearing, or rather what he was not wearing? Has he gone mad?”

Isaiah was not insane – and we need to go back to Chapter 8 to remind ourselves of the Prophet’s job –

18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.

Isaiah was doing EXACTLY what God had commanded him to do. In order to get the message across to the people God sometimes adopts some very unusual means. And before someone suggests that Isaiah gives permission for a little bit of drama to get a message across – let us notice a significant fact. In the whole of the prophecy of Isaiah, in all its 66 chapters, this is the ONLY occasion when the Lord God tells his prophet to put on a symbolical demonstration. The short tunic that Isaiah wore was usually the attire of a slave or a captive. And the significance of the sign is explained in the text.

Isaiah 20 v 3 And the LORD said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia; 4 So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.

The countries that were looking to Egypt and Ethiopia for protection from the invading Assyrians would be completely let down. Assyria would lead away the mighty coalition of Egypt and Ethiopia as captives dressed only in tunics and barefoot into captivity in Assyria. The significance of three years is uncertain because it was to be a further 12 years before the prophecy came to pass. Nevertheless Isaiah succeeded in preventing Judah from trusting in Egypt and Ethiopia.

Verse 5 – 6 have the further message that if Egypt and Ethiopia could not be trusted then who could?

Isaiah’s answer is ‘Trust the Lord God!’ Put your whole trust in Jehovah alone. God controls the destiny of all men and the only source of help is in Him.

And this is the message that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ should have for the rest of the world today. The Lord Jesus Christ can be trusted in everything. He will deliver from sin and He will preserve and protect His people from all manner of things that could alarm them.

Fear Him ye saints and you shall then Have nothing else to fear, Make you His service your delight, Your wants shall be His care!

Are you trusting the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart my friend tonight? Is He your constant assurance that you are safe for all eternity?

Or are you in danger of forgetting the Lord and turning to your own ways to cope in life?

We read of King David in 2 Samuel 22 v 1

And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: 2 And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.

May we all know how to trust in our dear saviour alone for everything in life!

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