Salvation in Isaiah 3 and 4
We are living in very dangerous times! That is not a reference to impending war in the Middle East, even though war is a dangerous thing and should be avoided at all costs by diplomacy and other means.
The dangerous times are here in our own country.
2 years ago our Prime Minister signed up to our country being subject to a whole range of laws that were made in Europe but have their force in Britain. Our Christian Liberties are seriously at risk! Laws are being changed not by Act of Parliament and the vote of British MP’s but by British Ministers acting under the power of the European Communities Act which allows them to make sure that European Laws are implemented whether the people want it or not. We are being regulated by short cuts.
Under the EUROPEAN convention of Human rights, which the Government signed up to, there is room for what is called a European Arrest Warrant. Under this if I publicly oppose false religions then I could be arrested and prosecuted. If I spoke, however carefully, against the Pope denouncing Him as a false shepherd of an apostate church, and I was reported to the Italian police, then they can issue and arrest warrant against me, a UK citizen, and I will have to be despatched by our police to Italy without any recourse to a UK court. I could be deported to Italy to stand trial. Furthermore because of another EU law, which has replaced English law, I could be held in prison in Italy without trial for up to 6 months.
Our leaders in Church and state seem to think that we need to rewrite laws as if some new path of enlightenment has been found. But the only result of this has been to drag our nation into more and more lawlessness, which will bring our people into the pit of despair and death.
And this state of affairs seems to creep up on us. We pray that we may give due obedience to those in authority – but it is only with the proviso that God’s laws are not being broken – we must resist those laws that cause any of us to sin against Christ the mighty law giver.
350 year ago Oliver Cromwell’s Parliament, with long periods of prayer between their sittings, delivered the nation from the corrupt government of King Charles the 1st. That framework of Law, founded on the scriptures and God’s divine laws has kept us until now. What happens from now on is in the Lord God’s hands – and in the hands of His praying people.
But I tell you these things because it has all happened before! It happened in Jerusalem where Isaiah the prophet had his ministry. We should be warned about what can happen when a nation turns away from God’s righteous and Biblical laws and adopts its own corrupt laws leaving God out of the reckoning. Isaiah 3 and 4 v 1 can be entitled
A DEVASTATING DESCRIPTION OF A SOCIETY GONE WRONG.
Judgement always starts with God’s people and Isaiah God’s messenger warns that the Babylonians were coming. Verse 1 – 8 describes
the EFFECTS of Judah’s national sins.
V 1 – 3. Every kind of support will be taken away from Judah, says the prophet – stay and staff here are the basic necessity of bread – bread which enables a body to stay alive; and a walking stick, that which holds a person up. Not everyone needs a stick or a crutch so it also refers to the basic necessity of water. So in the siege that will surely come the basic necessities of country and city will be taken away. The people of Judah have to remember that they are dependent on God for everything – but it will only be when he takes these things away that they will realise it. The parallel in our society is all too plain. Commerce and wealth are down to individuals to keep them alive by their own efforts, but with no reference to God at all. No acknowledgment that we are dependent on Him – He is left completely out of the picture. No one thanks Him for His blessings of weather or fruitfulness, or health to work.
V 2 –3 expands this point of decay – not only water and food will be taken away but protection, security, justice, prophets to give God’s word, elder statesmen to give their experience and wisdom and leadership; military leaders and skilful experts of all kinds will be gone! No one to speak, no one to encourage, to rouse every one in Churchillian fashion – they will be gone! Where will they go? Nebuchadnezzar will strip Judah of all these quality people with gifts and skills and abilities – so that organisation and power will be neutralised.
My friends it does not take a mighty king like Nebuchadnezzar only to have this effect on a nation. Hitler would have done this to us had not God intervened. But there are other means by which a nation may be undermined – and that is what we are seeing today in our nation. There are few men of integrity in Church or State. People in public life are easily compromised by worldliness and immorality so that they are not listened to.
The stay and the staff of verse 1 is also to do with grace – common grace and special grace – and both are being withdrawn from us gradually by the Lord God as a punishment and judgement – for we have ignored His ways and His word.
The initial result of this withdrawal in Judah’s case was in verse 4 – instead of worthy leaders and statesmen the nation would be led by immature youths and children. The literal rendering of this is “the childish things that they provide.” It does not necessarily mean young people and babes in age – but in their approach and government – childish adults. A recent illustration of this happened in Singapore during the last war when the Japanese invaded and occupied the nation. Most of the high and well-respected men lost their jobs – judges, lawyers and professors in the University. They were seen walking about the town in t-shirts and shorts trying to eke out a living doing odd jobs or doing a little black market business. On the other hand there were younger men some still in their teens, who swaggered around in cars provided by the Japanese military, because they were their henchmen. These youngsters literally flouted their elders as verse 5 of our chapter says –
the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.
The uneducated by enterprise and daring would suddenly mushroom into wartime millionaires while millionaires would be reduced to bankruptcy when their properties were commandeered by the military. The luminaries of that society being reduced to poverty receded into the darkness and the misfortunes of war.
We say again it does not necessarily need an invasion from an oppressing army to bring this about – when God withdraws His blessing and restraint then the invasion happens from the inside. Do we not see the same today?
V 6-7 shows the CONFUSION THAT PREVAILS
– No one knows what to do – people look at each other and say, “I don’t know what to do.” Parents say that they don’t know what to do with their children; they feel helpless, they cannot provide, they cannot rule.
Right across our society these themes are more than obvious – they are the description of a society gone wrong.
Verse 8 shows that the whole situation, the ruin and fall of Jerusalem because of the people’s iniquity and that has provoked the Lord God to act.
In verse 9 “the show of their countenance” means glaring effrontery – an open display of sin with no shame, just as it was in Sodom, woe to their soul says the prophet. Hosea says something similar
Hosea 7 v 10 And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.
And do we not see in our land increasing behaviour that would have been utterly shameful 50 years ago? Stonewall and Gay pride marching in defiance of God’s clearly revealed word. Liberty to be what you want to be and behave as you want to behave is no liberty at all when God is not honoured in it!
Yet in verse 10 comes an encouraging word to a righteous remnant – and it is good to know that in a society going down hill there are a few that have not surrendered to the nation’s political correctness. “It is good – it is well for you who stick with the Lord and His righteousness unpopular though it is with your neighbours. They, the others, shall eat the fruit of their doings. This reminds us of Galatians 6 v 7
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
What seems so terrible for the ungodly v 11, will be found for the eternal good of the godly. The apparent prosperity of the wicked will result in his own destruction.
The passage that follows from verse 12 describes the
DEGRADATION OF THE PEOPLE
Children become the oppressors! Women rule over the society. This had happened before in Israel’s history – the woman Maachah in 1 Kings 15.
v 12 And King Asa took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. 13 And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.
This woman had a destructive influence in Judah – and Asa deposed his mother for this. In 2 Kings 11 there is the record of Athaliah, a nasty piece of womanhood who seized power and led the nation astray. These 2 queens had led the people to err and destroyed the godly pathways appointed for Israel obliterating the old paths.
Jeremiah 6 v 16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.
V 16 – 23 describes the worldliness of the women – luxurious styles of dress and adornment – they were wearing imitations of priests robes yet were involved in gross idolatry.
V 17 and 24 show that a kind of leprosy would result, with all of its disfigurement – all part of God’s judgement.
Chapter 4 v 1 In the judgement situation and after the men had been taken away to Babylon the situation mentioned here would occur – to avoid the reproach of being single 7 women would do everything they could to secure 1 man in marriage. We will supply our own bread, we will buy our own clothes – we want your name! Yet the Lord God had set a law that said that the Husband was to provide for his wife –
Exodus 21 v 10 … her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
Does this ring any bells with this society my friends? How things have changed – what independence women require today. This and the other situations of a society under judgement are becoming more and more common in our land – A DEVASTATING DESCRIPTION OF A SOCIETY GONE WRONG.
Thankfully we have the rest of chapter 4 before us tonight. And we can be glad that mercy rejoices over judgment.
A DIVINE DESCRIPTION OF A SAVIOUR’S GLORIOUS WORK.
Just when things seem to be at their worst Isaiah is given words to assure the remnant of Jerusalem and Judah about their restoration. He sees beyond their inevitable judgement he sees Jerusalem God’s people redeemed, cleansed and purified. The New Jerusalem will be made glorious by the presence of the Branch. Who is this branch? What is He the branch of – what tree what plant does He come from?
We are approaching springtime and already there are buds and shoots; sprouting new growth is evident on many things in our gardens. What has appeared to be dead all winter now shows signs of growth – the branch is a growing thing signalling vitality and abundant fresh life.
Verses 2 – 6 describe this but we will not consider these verses in detail.
The point is that the branch, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is beautiful and glorious, brings to His people new life – the work of salvation. God Himself has undertaken this work of new life for the good of His elect. In chapter 3 we saw the false beauty and worldly glory of mankind left to itself – and how devastating it was.
Now we are given a glimpse of the glory of the Gospel days when salvation is brought to the world through the Lord Jesus Christ. This feature of the Branch is developed further in Isaiah 11 v 1 – 10
1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. 10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
100 years after Isaiah Jeremiah said in 23 v 5
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
My friends we are here in history on the other side of the fulfilment of these prophecies. We are living 2000 years after the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Branch – whose pedigree is through Jesse and David.
What are we to make of this? What is the message to this nation in which we live that is taking on the same characteristics of a society gone wrong?
The message is this. God the Lord has sent His son to be the saviour of sinners. Jesus Christ said Himself that we must repent and turn from the same wickedness. We need to seek God’s pardon and forgiveness. And we need to trust in the work that Christ the Branch came to do. What was that?
He came to live a perfect and holy life to show who He was and to prove that he was the one qualified, the branch of the root of Jesse, who was the Messiah expected by the Jews. Only He could bring them restoration.
The sad fact is that the majority of Jews, people from Judah and Jerusalem refused Him. They refused to believe that He was God’s chosen redeemer. And they objected to His offer of salvation to all men and women from every tribe and nation in the world. The Jews wanted salvation for themselves. They refused to recognise their own scriptures that plainly said that Jehovah intended to save Gentiles too.
But it is true. God now calls all men everywhere to repent – and that call is to me and to you! That means it is to Britain, Europe and the whole world. Unless we repent and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and His work of the cross, where He suffered and bled and died for sinners, there is no hope.
Where do you stand tonight my friend? Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your saviour? Has He transformed your soul yet? What is your life like? Is it dressed up in the finery of what you think will be acceptable to God? God calls our righteous deeds and righteous beliefs, that are not centred in Christ, FILTH – verse 4 – the women needed to be washed from their filth. Sin is filth to God and it needs to be washed away – only the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ can do that for you or me.
So go to the Lord and confess your need of Him. Turn from sin and then seek His pardon and forgiveness. He has promised to forgive all those who honestly and sincerely come to Him for mercy. His blood can make the foulest clean!