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Seeking The Lord

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Text

Isaiah
Isaiah 55:6–7 KJV 1900
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, Call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts: And let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; And to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Introduction

Context & Background
Isaiah (739-692 B.C.)
The prophet Isaiah lived in a very stormy and difficult time for the nation of Israel. The country was divided between Israel in the North and Judah in the South. Israel had been overtaken by the Assyrians in viscous fashion and Judah was not far behind in being overrun by Babylon. Isaiah’s prophetic days were dominated by the terror of the Assyrian empire. They were a brutal and evil empire, never hesitating to torture and brutally destroy anyone who stood in their path.
The Assyrian’s days were numbered and even at the pinnacle of their power and domination, Isaiah foretold of their downfall and of the rise of Babylon. At times Isaiah seems to describe a scene of darkness and destruction and at other times his words break through with the most uplifting and glorious scenes of Christ and his eventual reign on this earth.
He is known as the “Evangelical Prophet” and for good reason. He boldly proclaims the dreadful condition of his countrymen, but then pivots to the delightful compassion of the Messiah. As we approach this section of his writings (chapters 40-66), he looks forward to a coming day.
He sees two comings - the Messiah’s coming to redeem and the Messiah’s coming to reign.
Israel had turned their back on God
He was their God and had proven himself faithful and reliable and they had gone their own way.
“All we like sheep have gone astray...”
Isaiah 53:6 KJV 1900
All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one to his own way; And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
God had delivered the nation from their bondage in Egypt
He had provided for their every need in the wilderness
He had stood to defend them and shield them from their enemies
He had proven himself faithful!!
Isaiah 25:1 KJV 1900
O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; For thou hast done wonderful things; Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
Psalm 36:5 KJV 1900
Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; And thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.
Psalm 89:1 KJV 1900
I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: With my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.
Israel’s Sin
(This needs to be developed)
What was their sin?
What had they done, that had driven Isaiah to such distress and anguish of soul?
Isaiah 1:2–4 KJV 1900
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: For the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, And the ass his master’s crib: But Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, A seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: They have forsaken the Lord, They have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, They are gone away backward.
God’s Mercy
As rational humans with reasonable logic, it would be fair to say forget Israel. We might say...“God, you have given them every chance and many chances more to receive your love and Lordship, yet they have refused. Let them alone, leave them to their own devices”
However God says:
Isaiah 55:8 KJV 1900
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

Transition

Declaration: Israel turned her back on God yet in his mercy he called for them to return and to seek him
Transition: Although we may be far from the Lord today, although we may be distant because of our sin - he is calling us to seek him! He want’s to know you and develop an intimate relationship with you.

I. Isaiah’s Cry

Isaiah 55:1 KJV 1900
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, And he that hath no money; Come ye, buy, and eat; Yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
In spite of the Nations outright rebellion and rejection of God verse one of this chapter begins with a clarion call “Ho” (Or “Hey” as we might say it today)
Notice secondly he says “every one”. This is not some sort of exclusive call. Of course Isaiah is speaking to his countrymen 700 years before the birth of Christ and so the invitation is to Israel. However, there is an evangelistic tone to his message that transcends the original intent.
Consider what the New Testament says:
Matthew 11:28 KJV 1900
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Mark 1:17 KJV 1900
And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
Mark 10:14 KJV 1900
But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
It’s a universal invitation - “every one that thirsteth”, “he that hath no money”,
It’s a

II. Isaiah’s Condemnation

Isaiah 55:2 KJV 1900
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, And let your soul delight itself in fatness.
What was Israel’s real problem? --- Idolatry and self sufficiency- are we really any different?
Idolatry and self sufficiency- are we really any different?
Illustration: The lame man at the pool of Bethesda
vs 7 “...I have no man” (remember who he was speaking to)
John 5:1–8 KJV 1900
After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

III. Isaiah’s Challenge

Isaiah 55:6–7 KJV 1900
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, Call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts: And let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; And to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

A. The period of the challenge

“while he may be found”
Illustration: One of our Gospel Tracts says “Tomorrow may be too late” - why did we use that title??? because it’s true - tomorrow may be too late. Who is guaranteed tomorrow?
Proverbs 27:1 KJV 1900
Boast not thyself of to morrow; For thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
James 4:14 KJV 1900
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
James 4:145
Psalm 102:3 KJV 1900
For my days are consumed like smoke, And my bones are burned as an hearth.
It would do us well to notice all of the verbs in this passage, espesually as it relates to the challenge Isaiah is posing. What exactly is he suggesting that we do?

B. The particulars of the challenge

B. The particulars of the challenge

Thirst - Thirst is a very basic human desire - necessary for life -
John 7:37 KJV 1900
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
Matthew 5:6 KJV 1900
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Come -
James 4:8 KJV 1900
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Buy - This does not cost anything in terms of earthly money - but a transaction must be made - we must step up to the counter and make the purchase
Illustration: It would be like going to the grocery store with no money - filling your cart and heading to the checkout - having the cashier ring it up and then letting you know someone has paid the bill!
Hearken diligently, Hear - listen intently
Romans 10:17 KJV 1900
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Incline - to bend down - Here is another reference to humility
Hear -
Romans 10:17 KJV 1900
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Behold - look, pay attention
Seek -
1. To go in searh or quest of; to look for; to search for by going from place to place.
2. To inquire for; to ask for; to solicit; to endeavor to find or gain by any means.
Psalm 34:10 KJV 1900
The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: But they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.
Seek -
Psalm 105:4 KJV 1900
Seek the Lord, and his strength: Seek his face evermore.
Lamentations 3:25 KJV 1900
The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
Amos 5:4 KJV 1900
For thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:
Forsake - To leave behind - “his way”...”his thoughts”
Forsake - To leave behind - “his way”...”his thoughts”
Return - here is a reminder to Christians - the Lord is ever waiting to forgive and to open his arms in embrace for those who have forsaken their own way and truly returned to God.
Isaiah 53:6 KJV 1900
All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one to his own way; And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 52:6 KJV 1900
Therefore my people shall know my name: Therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.
Return -

C. The profit in the challenge -

What is the result of doing these things?
“he will abundantly pardon”
Isaiah 55:7 KJV 1900
Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts: And let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; And to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Conclusion

This message is primarily a message to the nation of Israel to return to God. We have made an appropriate application as we have allowed the prophet to challenge our spiritual walk and personal desire to follow God.
We seek many things today with the utmost diligence: better job, nicer home, better investment returns, cheaper prices on gas and groceries, time to watch our favorite television shows or participate in our favorite hobbies, side business dealings to earn extra cash, the latest and greatest phone or computer, the biggest tv, a nicer faster car, SEEKING WE GO.
Illustration: “Millions call themselves by His name, it is true, and pay some token homage to Him, but a simple test will show how little He is really honored among them. Let the average man be put to the proof on the question of who or what is ABOVE, and his true position will be exposed. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the man may protest, the proof is in the choice he makes day after day throughout his life.” ― A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
But the scripture still stands, staring us in the face like an unmovable marker - “seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call on him while he is near:”
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