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Isaiah: Prince of Prophets--"God's Future Society"

Notes & Transcripts

In the 30th chapter, Isaiah utters a woe upon the nation of Israel for establishing a Treaty of Mutual Protection with her former oppressor—the nation of Egypt. Instead of relying on God’s supernatural intervention on the behalf of His people, His people turn to worldly alliances.

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help And rely on horses, And trust in chariots because they are many And in horsemen because they are very strong, But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD! ” (Isaiah 31:1, NASB95)

God’s people had turned to Egypt for help during dangerous times. As a result, their society and economy would go from bad to worst. Yet in the worst of times, God continues to promise a way of salvation for society and for His people through His Messiah’s righteousness. Isaiah promises that an era will come when the Jewish people have a king who reigns over them in righteousness.

This time of deliverance will be an era when leaders perform their God given functions and responsibilities for the benefit of society rather than to benefit themselves or their party. In this passage we see a glimpse of what the reign of Christ will be like during our Lord’s Millennial Kingdom. But we also catch a glimpse of how civil and political leaders should rule and how God blesses the people they govern when they rule righteously. A society is transformed by leaders who practice righteous and justice.

    • WHEN THE RIGHTEOUS RULE, 1-2.
    • THE BLESSINGS OF RIGHTEOUS RULE, 3-5.
    • LESSONS

I. WHEN THE RIGHTEOUS RULE vv. 1-2

    • “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice. Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.” (Isaiah 32:1–2, ESV)
            1. at the beginning of its history, the nation of Israel was a theocracy, with God as King
                1. it was not a monarchy led by human rulers like its neighbors
                2. unfortunately, Israel as a theocracy would not last long
                  • “But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.” Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Everyone go back to his town.” ” (1 Samuel 8:19–22, NIV84)
                    1. Saul was head and shoulders above his brethren
                    2. he was a man whose personal courage matched his physique
                    3. he was kingly to his friends and generous to his foes
                3. Saul was the man chosen by God to institute the monarchy, and in doing so was to represent within himself the royal rule of Yahweh over his people
                    1. yet three times over he was declared to have disqualified himself from the task to which he had been appointed
            2. from the beginning, God was clear about the kind of king Israel should demand if they ever came to that point
              • ““When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman. “Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’ “He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself. “Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. “It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 17:14–20, NASB95)
            3. unfortunately, outside of a few examples, the people of Israel knew only kings who were spiritually bankrupt
                1. after the nation of Israel divided under Solomon’s son Rehoboam both Northern and Southern Kingdoms experienced days of spiritual darkness in their leaders
                    1. Judah had a total of 20 kings – only 8 were godly
                    2. Israel had a total of 19 kings -- none were godly
            4. when a nation’s leaders do not acknowledge the Lord as God, evil will stalk the land

A. AN IDEAL KING REIGNS IN RIGHTEOUSNESS

            1. having suffered much injustice from foolish evil rulers, many in Judah were hungry for a king strong enough to be just in His decisions and actions
                1. but in order for one to be just he must first be righteous
            2. regardless of the era in world history, the mark of a good king or government official is in his or her willingness to discover right and to do it
              • “A king who sits on the throne of justice Disperses all evil with his eyes.” (Proverbs 20:8, NASB95)
              • “Loyalty and truth preserve the king, And he upholds his throne by righteousness.” (Proverbs 20:28, NASB95)
              • “The king gives stability to the land by justice, ... ” (Proverbs 29:4, NASB95)
            3. Isaiah looks for a day when government leaders will be divinely enabled to do what people through the ages have instinctively known they should do
                1. that day will come at the end of the age when the messiah is on his throne
                2. Isaiah anticipates a day when a just king would reign over the land, assisted by competent rulers who would protect, rather than exploit, the people
                    1. that just King is none other than Jesus
                    2. the competent rulers Isaiah refers to are God’s people
                      • “‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;” (Revelation 2:26, NASB95)
                      • ““You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” ”(Revelation 5:10, NASB95)
                      • “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6, NASB95)
            4. during the Millennial Kingdom evil will be banished and righteousness will reign because the Righteous King will reign!

B. AN IDEAL REIGN IS A BLESSING FOR THE PEOPLE

            1. Isaiah uses four vivid similes that paint a picture of refuge and refreshing
                1. the first pair paint a picture of refuge
                2. the second pair paint a picture of refreshment
            2. Godly leaders are like a refuge: Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm
                1. righteous rulers are protective of others like a shelter from the wind and a refuge in a storm
                2. the welfare of the people is their chief concern
            3. Godly leaders are a refreshment: like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land
                1. righteous leaders provide refreshment from burdensome laws and regulations that oppress the people
                    1. this was one of the issues that Jesus criticized the Pharisees for
                      • “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” (Matthew 23:1–4, NIV84)
                    2. the Pharisees demanded that the people of God live out all the spiritual laws that they prescribed, but they in turn rarely lived out those laws themselves
            4. Isaiah offers hope and comfort to a people yearning for righteous leaders
                1. a time is coming in the life of Israel when such leaders will arise a be a blessing to God’s people

II. THE BLESSINGS OF RIGHTEOUS RULE vv. 3-5

    • "Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen. The mind of the rash will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear. No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected.” (Isaiah 32:3–5, NIV84)
            1. during our Lord’s Millennial Kingdom things will be as they actually should be
                1. Isaiah contrasts how things are now with how they will be during the Messiah’s earthly reign
                    1. now, the eyes of the people are closed to seeing the truth—but in that day they shall be opened wide
                    2. now, the ears of the people are closed to hearing the truth—but in that day they shall truly hear and will understand the truth
                    3. now, the minds of men are reckless and cannot perceive the truth—but in that day they will know and correctly interpret truth
                    4. now, the language of men is like babbling and makes no sense—but in that day men will speak clearly
                2. what does the Prophet imply in this
            2. in the day of righteous rulers, people will see and hear and understand and speak spiritual things clearly
                1. when rulers are righteous and provide protection and refreshment for God’s people, God begins a spiritual transformation within society where blindness, deafness, irrationality, and terseness are taken away

A. SPIRITUAL CLARITY AND PERCEPTION FOLLOW ONE’S SUBMISSION TO GOD’S WAYS

            1. if political leaders are going to reign righteously, they must first be submissive to God’s authority in their lives
            2. refusal to submit to God’s sovereignty and authority is the surest prescription for an ultimate inability to discern any difference between good and evil
                1. this is why Israel is in the spiritual malaise that it finds itself
                  • “You are in for trouble! The lies you tell are like ropes by which you drag along sin and evil. And you say, “Let the holy God of Israel hurry up and do what he has promised, so we can see it for ourselves.” You are headed for trouble! You say wrong is right, darkness is light, and bitter is sweet. You think you are clever and smart. And you are great at drinking and mixing drinks. But you are in for trouble. You accept bribes to let the guilty go free, and you cheat the innocent out of a fair trial.” (Isaiah 5:18–23, CEV)
            3. when political leaders are fully submitted to God and have the people’s best interest at heart, their people have no difficulty submitting
            4. another blessing flowing from godly rulers is that a man will be seen for what he actually is and not for what he appears to be
              • “No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected.” (Isaiah 32:5, NIV84)
                1. I really like the way the New Century Version translates this verse: “Fools will no longer be highly respected, and crooks won’t be given positions of honor.” (Isaiah 32:5, CEV)
                2. when minds are blinded they do not see the true character of other men, but merely judge appearances
                3. but in that day—the day of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom—the redeemed will no longer be among the undiscerning and society’s perception will no longer be turned upside down
                4. one result of that clarity which comes from walking in God’s ways is the ability to evaluate persons on the basis of character

III. Lessons from Isaiah 32:1-5

A. Righteous rulers are First and Foremost Is Concerned about the Things of God

            1. it is obvious that a Godly leader must first of all be concerned about the things of God
                1. a Godly leader’s faith is not simply a part of his life, it is his entire life and everything else revolves around it and emanates from it
            2. while it is true that every Christian should be a “man (or woman!) after God’s own heart”, it is especially necessary when we are in the role or circumstance of leading because we have the added responsibility of our influence on other people
              • “After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ ” (Acts 13:22, NIV84)
                1. David was a man after God’s heart
                2. while he made many mistakes, God could look down into the deepest parts of his heart and see that ultimately David wanted to please and obey Him
                3. no matter how talented or gifted a leader may be, if he is not primarily concerned first about godliness, his leadership skills will be wasted on self-pursuit

B. Righteous Rulers Realize That God Is the Source of Our Strength

            1. one of the reason for impending judgement upon the nation of Israel is that they are counting on the strength of Egypt to protect them and not the strength of the arm of the Lord

C. Righteous Rulers Are More Concerned with Truth than Political Spin

            1. vv. 3-4 are all about people perceiving the truth
                1. that implies that our leaders speak truth

Righteous Rulers Appoint Qualified Princes to Rule Over the People

            1. v. 5 reminds us the fools and scoundrels have no place in reigning over people
                1. this is where God’s people have a huge responsibility
                  • ILLUS. "Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. . . . [I]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation . . . it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces." -- President James Garfield

Isaiah proclaims a future time when "a king will reign in righteousness. Though the ultimate fulfillment will be established in the Reign of Christ in His millennial kingdom, it is a promise and a principle for us today also.

Leaders who trust in God bring justice, clarity, integrity and spiritual life back into society. Those who trust in human resources bring injustice, blindness, corruption and eventually destruction into society.

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