(08-03-09) Worthless Saviours and True Salvation - Isaiah 30.1-22
Worthless Saviours and True Salvation
o Judah (southern Kingdom) under threat from Assyria
o weak, vulnerable and divided nation
§ no control of their future
§ bound to be overrun
· Isaiah has been speaking God’s ‘words of woe’ to surrounding nations
o is Judah been expecting it’s own name to come next?
§ what do they think of their own conduct?
§ not a great track record!
Part 1: Warning and Rebuke
1“Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord,
· These are God’s children, and it is against Him that they are sinning by their obstinacy and rebellion (v9)
o put in their rightful place
§ not derision, propriety
§ this is our place, too
· God disciplines His children
· Hebrews 12:7-11
“…to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
· Complete disassociation with God and His plan
· His was are the best ways
o of course we have our own plans/ideas
§ do we act on them?
§ are they what we live by?
“…heaping sin upon sin; 2who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh's protection, to Egypt's shade for refuge.
· What was wrong with looking for protection in Egypt?
o forbidden since the Exodus (Ex 13:17 and Deut 17:16)
§ getting them out of Egypt and getting Egypt out of them!
§ not just at the Red Sea – the ten plagues/gods
§ the gods = protection, and now protection in Egypt is what they are looking for themselves
§ looking to go back to the place of the mistakes of their forefathers…
o this was/is God’s role
§ He provides shade and shelter for his people
§ He alone is our refuge
o not be to their benefit
3“But Pharaoh's protection will be to your shame, Egypt's shade will bring you disgrace.
· Turning their collective back on God
o the God ‘who brought [them] up out of Egypt’; now they want to go back
§ Blackie story – actions
§ seeking to be transformed by the renewing of our minds… (Romans 12:2)
4“Though they have officials in Zoan and their envoys have arrived in Hanes, 5everyone will be put to shame because of a people useless to them, who bring neither help nor advantage, but only shame and disgrace.”
· They go ahead and do it anyway!
o Zoan/Hanes are Egyptian locations – possible capital
· Shame and disgrace
o interesting choice for negative outcome
§ destruction of Judah would be shameful to them
§ God is concerned with bringing glory to His Name
· Ezekiel 36:22, 26-7
6An oracle concerning the animals of the Negev: Through a land of hardship and distress, of lions and lionesses, of adders and darting snakes, the envoys carry their riches on donkeys' backs, their treasures on the humps of camels, to that unprofitable nation, 7to Egypt, whose help is utterly useless. Therefore I call her Rahab the Do-Nothing.
· We can be so blind to signs
o yet we are determined to do things ‘My Way’
§ hardship doesn’t always mean ‘this is not God’s way’
§ but the message is often more clear than we accept
· God knows best
o Egypt as an ally would be unstable and unreliable
8Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. 9These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord's instruction. 10They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. 11Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!”
· We hear what we want to hear
o the blindingly obvious seems obscured
· When we start to hear what we don’t want to hear…
o we cover our ears or change the record!
o selective deafness
§ rebuke/counsel against our selfish desires is one of the hardest things to hear
· however wise and pastorally sensitive that rebuke/advice may be
§ we can find ourselves turning our backs on God sooner than we could possibly imagine
12Therefore, this is what the Holy One of Israel says: “Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, 13this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. 14It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.”
· Isaiah is shown the future of this plan
o when it fails, there will be no strength or support for Judah
§ it will be alone, in ruin and at the mercy of its enemies
o looking for strength in the wrong place
§ “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation” – Psalm 118:14
· quoting Exodus 15:2, when God had led them through the Red Sea
15This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. 16You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! 17A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.”
· Judah’s doom appears sealed and finalised
Part 2: Active Compassion
18Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.
· God’s desire is to be gracious
o the whole Bible is the story of God’s grace
o God is active in His world, even when we don’t see it!
For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
o “Give me patience now!”
o Martha and Mary in John 11
§ “…if you had been here…”
19O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.
· Heb – He will already have answered you!
o answers before requests
o the salvation of Judah is at hand
· Jesus was God’s plan from before creation
§ He is no ‘plan B’!
o He who will raise Lazarus later… is already here!
20Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
· Discipline/guidance continues
o God is the way, but we need to be kept on the path
§ ‘bread of adversity’
§ ‘water of affliction’
22Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!”
· Holiness flows from obedience
o glory to God’s Name!