Isaiah: Prince of prophets – The Remnant’s Response
In his book, In the Grip of Grace, Max Lucado tells the story of a man who adopted a troubled teenage girl. Everyone in town knew the girl’s reputation. She lied. She cheated. She refused to obey any authority. She often turned destructive. Why would anyone want to adopt her? Still the man took her into his house, gave her a special room of her own, and treated her like his daughter. She treated him just like everyone expected. One day she ran home from school, raced into the house, and started looking everywhere for money. Finding none, she went on a rampage, disrupting and destroying everything in sight. When the man returned home from work that evening, a ruined house greeted him. The entire place was turned topsy-turvy. Many precious possessions lay shattered on the floor.
The neighbors watched to see the girls expected expulsion. They came to him with advice: “Don’t finalize the adoption papers. Send her back.” The man steadfastly refused all such advice. “Send her back,” neighbors and friends repeated. “After all, she is really not your daughter.” “I know,” the man admitted. “But I already told her she was.”
Isaiah chapters 1 through 11 describes God’s people at their worst. They are liars, cheats, and disobedient to authority. Every sin we could imagine is laid out before us. Judgment has ruled most of Isaiah’s first 11 chapters—judgment on disobedient people, on greedy rulers, on luxury-loving women, and even a on cruel enemy nation called by God to punish God’s people. Sandwiched around most of the judgment speeches have been promises of hope. These promises centered particularly in a baby boy who would enter the world and be everything the present leadership of Israel was not.
The first part of Isaiah’s prophecy teaches me that, I am a sinner; that I deserve all the judgment God has described, all the punishment that he could possibly dole out, I deserve. Like the people of Israel, I turn to Yahweh and ask “Are you going to exile me from your presence for ever?”
The answer comes back, “No, my son. I told you, you are my child. I meant it. Come, see my salvation and celebrate with me.”
Isaiah chapter 12 teaches us how to celebrate God’s salvation. We sing!
The message comes in four parts:
- Singers need a song
- Singers sing of salvation with private jubilation
- Singers sing of salvation with public proclamation
I. SINGERS NEED A SONG
- “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2, NIV)
- somehow, many church goers seem to have picked up on the idea that “singing in church is for singers”
- nothing could be further from the truth
- the truth is that “singing is for believers”
- the relevant question is not, “Do you have a voice?” but “Do you have a song?”
- whether it's a praise chorus or a hymn, an anthem or an amen, whenever Christians gather together to worship God, you'll find them singing
- we know that singing must matter to God, because He talks so much about it
- the Bible contains more than 500 references to singing, including 50 direct commands to sing to God
- but why? What's the purpose of singing?
- the general answer is that singing is for God's glory and our good
- but let me give you some specifics ...
A. WE SING BECAUSE GOD HAS PUT A NEW SONG IN OUR HEART
- “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” (Psalm 28:7, NIV)
- Christians are a new creation in Christ
- the Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:1-5 that we were once dead in trespasses and sin, but because God is rich in mercy He has made us alive together with Christ and raised us up with Him
- in one great, supernatural act on God’s part, we have been regenerated by God the Spirit, atonement has been made for our sins by the sacrifice of God the Son, which has justified us in the sight of God the Father
- ILLUS. In the early 1920, Albert Ketchum wrote a popular song entitled, “Why Do I Sing About Jesus.” Listen to the first stanza: /"Deep in my heart there’s a gladness; Jesus has saved me from sin! Praise to His name, what a Savior! Cleansing without and within! Why do I sing about Jesus? Why is He precious to me? He is my Lord and my Savior; Dying, He set me free!"
- ". . . the righteous sings and rejoices." (Prov. 29:6, NASB95)
- "Praise the Lord in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth." (Isa. 12:5, NASB95)
- ILLUS. In his book, Psalms of the Heart, George Sweeting tells the story of John and Elaine Beekman. God called them to missionary work among the Chol Indians of southern Mexico. The Beekmans traveled first by mules and then by dugout canoes to reach this tribe. They labored 25 years with other missionaries to translate the New Testament into the language of the Chol Indians. Today the Chol Church is thriving. More than 12,000 Christians make up the Chol Christian community. What's interesting is that when the missionaries came, the Chol Indians didn't know how to sing. The culture had virtually no musical tradition. With the coming of the gospel, however, the believers in the tribe became known as "the singers". Sweeting writes: "They love to sing now, because now they have something to sing about."
B. WE SING BECAUSE GOD WAS ANGRY WITH US BUT IS NO MORE
- “In that day you will say: “I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.” (Isaiah 12:1, NIV)
- the opening verse of Isaiah 12 is startling—it literally reads: “I thank you, O Yahweh, because you were angry with me”
- one day the citizens of Judah when they will acknowledge that God was rightfully angry with them
- there was a time when He afflicted them for their unbelief and idolatry
- only by afflicting them could He help them understand their need to turn to Him in true faith
- “It may be that their plea for mercy will come before the LORD, and that every one will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and wrath that the LORD has pronounced against this people.” (Jeremiah 36:7, ESV)
- that day is the day when The Anointed One will reign over the remnant of Jews who have survived the harvesting of Israel
- this is not a reference to a single day, but a period of time at the end of the age referred to by the prophets that will include judgement in the Tribulation and blessing in the Millennium
- in that day Israel will praise Yahweh for ending His discipline of them and for comforting them
- previously in Isaiah’s prophecy that day was one to be dreaded because it was a reference to the winnowing of the nation by the Assyrians
- now, that day is to be anticipated
- like Israel and Judah we were guilty of unbelief and idolatry
- like Israel and Judah we were under God’s wrath
- “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31, NIV)
- “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Romans 2:5, ESV)
- because of His love for me, God provided a way for me to turn away His anger
- “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9, NIV)
- “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:36, NIV)
- “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:9, NIV)
II. SINGERS SING OF SALVATION WITH PRIVATE JUBILATION
- “In that day you will say: “I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:1–2, NIV)
- in vv. 1-2 Isaiah writes in the first person singular—it’s his personal song of praise and adoration for God’s marvelous, infinite, matchless grace
- the turning away of God’s wrath arouses five responses within Isaiah
A. ELICITING PRAISE – ... I will praise you ...
- if you remember, Isaiah’s name means “Jehovah is salvation,” and “salvation” is a key theme in this song
- it is what elicits praise from the mouth of the prophet
- the refrain in Isaiah 12:2—“The Lord, even Jehovah, is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation” was a ‘tune’ I guess you could say every Hebrew knew ... it was a top-20 hit
- it was first sung by Moses at the Red Sea after the Jews had been delivered from Egypt by the mighty hand of God
- “The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” (Exodus 15:2, ESV)
- “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” (Psalm 118:14, ESV)
- they will recognize Him as “the Holy One of Israel” and willingly obey His holy law
B. EXPERIENCING FORGIVENESS – ... although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away ... Surely God is my salvation ...
- what better reason for breaking out into praise?
- God was angry with Israel and Judah, (this included Isaiah) but He will not harbor His anger forever
- “The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.” (Psalm 103:6–9, ESV)
C. EXPRESSING TRUST – ... I will trust and not be afraid ...
- ILLUS. In 1886 Daniel B. Towner, director of the music department at Moody Bible Institute, was leading the music for evangelist D. L. Moody at a series of revival meetings in Brockton, Massachusetts. At the end of the service, a young man rose to give a testimony, saying, “I am not quite sure—but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey.” Mr. Towner jotted down this statement and sent it to his Presbyterian minister friend Rev. J. H. Sammis. Sammis wrote the present five stanzas of the hymn Trust and Obey.
- salvation is God’s responsibility; our responsibility is to trust in that salvation and then to obey its truths
D. ENJOYING STRENGTH – ... the LORD, is my strength ...
- ILLUS. “Fear not, I am with thee—O be not dismayed, for I am thy God, I will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by my gracious, omnipotent hand.”
E. ENCOUNTERING JOY – ... the LORD, is my ... song ...
- ILLUS. Christianity is a singing religion. It has been estimated that over the last 2,000 years over 500,000 Christian hymns have been written. The psalm-singing of Christian martyrs going to their deaths in the arena alerted the Roman Empire to the fact that a new and revolutionary force was coming into being. When the pleasure-bent populace saw the Christians singing as they fearlessly entered the amphitheater where hungry lions awaited them, they were filled with awe.
- Heaven will be vibrant with song: “And they sing the song of Moses … and the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3).
- vv. 1-2 are all about Isaiah’s personal devotion before God
- you and I need that daily time with God that ...
- Elicits Praise
- Experiences Forgiveness
- Expresses Trust
- Enjoys Strengthening
- Encounters Joy
- but our private devotional time is not enough
III. SINGERS SING OF SALVATION WITH PUBLIC PROCLAMATION
- “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” (Isaiah 12:3–6, NIV)
- in v. 3 the song turns from the individual “I” and “me” and “my” to the plural “you” of the second half of the song
- worship is never a private matter only ... it is a public matter, too
- public worship, according to this passage entails four events
A. APPLY GOD’S REMEDY
- “ ... draw water from the wells of salvation ... “
- when the prophet referred to wells of salvation, Isaiah’s readers doubtless thought of how God had satisfied the physical thirst of their ancestors first in the land of Palestine in the days of the Patriarchs and later in the Wilderness of Sin during their desert wanderings (Ex. 17:1–7)
- the same provision will apply for their descendants when the Messiah comes to deliver the nation
- wells in the land of Palestine are important commodities—they took great effort to locate, dig, maintain and were frequently the points of contention
- wells brought and sustained life
- in Jesus’ day, one of the more popular Jewish festivals was the Feast of Tabernacles
- it was a feast that celebrated the Hebrew’s days of wondering in the desert where God supernaturally provided for their needs—particularly water
- it was a feast in which the whole body of the Israelite people dwelt for a week in leafy booths
- over the centuries, the celebration developed a number of additional symbolic observances which were tacked on to it
- amongst these there was a very memorable one: that on each of the days of the Feast of Tabernacles, at a given point in the ceremonial, the priests went from the temple, winding down the rocky path on the temple mountain, to the Pool of Siloam in the valley below, (which archeologists have recent found and excavated). There in golden vases they drew the cool sparkling water, which they bore up, and amidst the blare of trumpets and the clash of cymbals poured it on the altar, whilst the people chanted the words of Isaiah 12:3, ‘With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.’
- that ceremonial had been going on for eight hundred years from Isaiah’s time; and once more the Feast of Tabernacles had rolled around
- on this particular occasion, Jesus was in Jerusalem during its celebration
- on the last great day of the feast, the same ceremonial went on right up to the point where the water is about to be poured over the altar
- at that moment, a young rabbi named Jesus stepped forward and cried, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” (John 7:37–38, ESV)
- God’s remedy for a thirst life is Jesus!
- salvation is found in only one well of salvation—He is Christ the Lord
- the second act of public worship is ...
B. APPLAUDING GOD’S GOODNESS
- “ ... Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted ... “
- applauding God’s goodness means expressing thanksgiving, expressing our dependence on Him, giving public tribute of His deeds, and venerating His deity
- God’s name must be exalted internationally and that means taking the name of Jesus into ‘all the world’
- the third act of public worship is ...
C. ANNOUNCING GOD’S GLORY
- “Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world ... “
- announcing God’s glory is accomplished by singing to the Lord and letting all the world know the glorious things our God has done
- “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11, ESV)
D. ATTENDING GOD’S PRESENCE
- “ ... Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you."
- God is among us and we acknowledge His presence as a congregation with loud praise and songs of joy
IV. LESSONS: Five Things to Pray for from Isaiah 12:1-6
- 1. That I would grow in gratefulness and not forget that God, who was angry with me, has now turned his anger away and given me comfort through Jesus Christ. verse 12:1 The reason that God’s anger was averted was because of Jesus who took upon Himself the judgment of God that was to come upon me. I was an enemy of God and under His wrath. The temptation is always to forget just how gracious God was toward me and that my salvation was costly to God Himself.
- That I might grow in faith, that my trust in God might increase, demonstrated by a proportionate decrease in fear. 12:2 One of the reasons we have such rich prophesies that we see fulfilled in Christ, is to increase our faith. We can look at how God was faithful in the past and say, since God does not change, I know that He will be faithful toward what He has promised. This is a fear-buster. An increase in faith fueled by God’s actions in His Word, is an antidote to fear based living. So make it a point, when you see an answer to prayer, not only to be thankful to God, but to use it as an opportunity to grow in faith. To say in effect “see, there is another evidence of God’s faithfulness!” and to store these up in our hearts that we might increase in faith.
- That I would see an increase in joy in my life as a direct result of the salvation I have received. 12:3 Paul writes in Romans 14 that the kingdom of God consists of righteousness, peace, and joy. Joy is not an optional accessory for the Christian life. It is a direct result of the salvation we have received from this Great Savior we have.
- That I would more intentionally and boldly make known His deeds among the peoples and proclaim Him. 12:4 When we see the Messiah, when we see Jesus Christ clearly, we should desire to let others know about Him. To whoever will listen! Let them hear about our Savior. Let us resolve to speak more plainly and openly about God’s work in our lives and who He is to those we speak to who we know do not know Him.
- That I would understand more fully that a life of worship (which includes song) involves every area of my life. 12:5,6 What God has done in giving Jesus Christ is glorious and deserves worship. Worship by giving Him every area of our lives- not just our voices in song. What we do on a Sunday morning is wonderful, but if that is our full picture of worship, worshipping in song, we are missing out on a full worship filled life. We can worship God by beholding the Savior, and delighting in the Savior, and learning about our Savior. Oh may the promised Messiah, who showed himself in Jesus Christ, become all the more precious to us day-by-day so that we might behold him rightly, and love him more dearly as a result of His glorious character and work.
Conclusion: When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well in John Chapter four, he offered her living water, and said those whose thirst is quenched with this water, out of their bellies will flow living water. Once we taste it, we should tell it. It should flow out in songs of salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.