Isaiah04 Shelter in a vineyard1
A shelter in a vineyard
Doxology Hymn 337:1-3 “This is the day”
Call to worship and Greeting
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? (Psalm 113:3-6)
Grace to you form God, our Father, and Jesus Christ, our Lord and the Holy Spirit, our Comforter.
The Lord’s Prayer
Hymn no 152: “When morning guilds the skies”
One year when Christmas Day came on a Sunday, a farmer decided to go to church.
(Like some people, he thought he was fulfilling his religious obligation by going to church twice a year--at Christmas and Easter!)
The sermon that day was preached from the text, "The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel does not know, my people does not have knowledge" (Is. 1:3).
Isaiah is saying that man is sometimes dumber than the animals.
After church the farmer returned home and stood among his cows. One of them began to lick his hand--a practical demonstration of the sermon he had just heard.
Strong man though he was, the farmer began to weep as he thought, “My cow is far more grateful than I am. What do I ever give her other than grass and water? God did much more for me, and yet I never thanked Him.”
Hymn no 75: “For God so loved the world”
Prayer of adoration and Confession of sins
Our heavenly Father, we read about You as You have revealed yourself in the Holy Scriptures. We know about your immense love; your vast loving-kindness and your infinite mercy. We cannot fathom your compassion. But we can easily forget about your other characteristics. Your holiness demand that You are jealous and that You avenge; as Father You need to take vengeance and your justice demands wrath. You take vengeance on your adversaries, and You reserve wrath against your enemies. Yet, You O Lord, are slow to anger and great in power and will not leave the guilty unpunished. Sometimes your way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of your feet. (Nahum 1:2–3)
Can anyone hide in secret places so that You cannot see him? Do You not fill heaven and earth? (Jeremiah 23:23–24)
O Lord, do not rebuke us in Your wrath, and do not chasten us in Your anger. For Your arrows have pierced us deeply, and Your hand has pressed down upon us.
We confess this morning there is no health in our body because of Your wrath, nor peace in our bones because of our sin. Our iniquities have gone over our head; as a heavy burden, they weigh too much for us. (Psalm 38:1–4) Because of your Son Jesus Christ, and only because of his righteousness attained on the cross and by his resurrection, we beg for forgiveness. For the sake of your Son, Jesus, our Redeemer, we pray, wash us so we can be whiter than snow. Amen.
Declaration of pardoning
Christ has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for man to die once and after that to face judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly wait for Him. (Hebrews 9:26–28)
Hymn no 585: “Lord you will keep him in perfect peace”
Scripture Reading: New Testament: Romans 9:16-29
Offering and Dedication
Prayer of Intercession
Bible Reading Old Testament: Isaiah 1:5-9
Sermon “A Shelter in a vineyard”
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
All of us know the experience of building our own house. As children we used to build our own houses in the backyard. We built our own dwellings with tarps, sticks and pieces of planks, and we would play for days, thinking that we were the richest people in the world.
While we were in these dwellings, we enjoyed everything the world would have on offer. We were happy and content. We made our own rules, and we even cooked our own meals.
But then, when wind picked up, our dwellings would be blown away. All our dreams would be blown away from the face this earth too, for all we had was just a shelter in the wind. Nothing more!
This probably describes the situation of Israel in the time of the Isaiah. Isaiah in chapter 1:8 says that the daughter of Zion, that’s God’s church, was left is left like a shelter in a vineyard and like a hut the in the field of melons, like a city under siege.
On the outside everything was well. They still attended all their sacrifices, their Sabbaths, their New Moon Festivals. But something terrible has gone wrong. They had forsaken the Lord (“treat like a stranger”, or “to commit adultery”); they also had spurned (“to show contempt”, “to insult”, “despise”) the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs (the original refers to “discard”, “desert” or “neglect”) on the Lord. In short, they had rebelled against the Lord. This Lord is the Holy One of Israel – the One who is holy and to whom they belonged, because He called them into existence.
In verse four God now cries out with a pain in his heart: “Ah! my people.” “Ah!” is another word for “Woe!” This word is the opposite of “blessed”. He called his people to be free, and now they have become a people loaded with guilt. Instead of the holy people, they have become a brood of evildoers. Instead of being holy, they have become corrupted.
They were bound in doing what was wrong in the eyes of the Lord. Rebellion here meant the breaking of a legal contract. It is the legal reference for breaking with God. They broke God's covenant. The whole nation has transgressed and it was now in a state of being transgressors. This nation, not just any nation, was God's people, his own sons. They cast aside a loving father. Against the One that has given it all she had and was, they now rebelled. The frightening contrast stands out: God has done everything necessary to make Israel a unique nation; Israel, however, has chosen to act like a nation that did not even know God.
(Screen with Blessing and curses: Blessed-Cursed; Freedom-Guilt; Holy-corrupted)
Covenant curses provoked
That's why prophet starts with the question in verse 5: Why should you be beaten any more? Why do you persist in rebellion?
In the service of last week and the weeks before that, we made mention of the covenant the Lord made with Israel. In this covenant the Lord promised to be the Saviour of his people. He called them out of all the other nations to be his own people. He acquired them to live according to his rules. They had to obey his commands and do his will. As a result, God promised to bless them. But if they didn't obey, the Lord would turn against them and curse them.
The disobedience of Israel astonishes one. It was not as if they did not know the commands of the Lord. It was not as if the Lord was coming down upon them with something new. They knew in the commandments of the Lord. It was nothing new to Israel. Over and over again the prophets of the Lord repeated the message of God's holiness and his righteousness.
8They chose to disobey
That was exactly what and the Prophet Moses told the people just before they entered the holy land. Then, when they renewed the covenant once again, Moses gave them God’s stipulations for a life in relationship with Him. If they disobey and broke covenant with God, this is what the Lord promised will happen:
The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. The LORD will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. The LORD will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. The LORD will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. Deuteronomy 28:22, 27,28, 35
God's people had turned against Him, now He turned against them. There is the possibility that one always and only thinks of God as the loving God, but we forget that He is also righteous and just in what He does. His holiness demands that He does what He warned his people against.
(Screen: Is God always loving?
8 Yes, but – disciplines)
He punished his people. He beat them, and struck them almost like He struck the Egyptians with the Exodus. There He struck the firstborn, He killed the stock of the Egyptians, He struck them with diseases. As a matter of fact, this term "strike" occurs in Exodus over and over again as God dealt with the enemy of his people while he saved Israel because of his grace. “Strike” or “beat” is a term for God’s punishment. There were times that He blessed his people; they then became the rod of punishment in God’s hands to expand the Kingdom of God as they struck down the godless nations. But in their time of disobedience, God used the surrounding nations as a rod of punishment upon them to express his covenantal wrath.
(Screen: 8 Yes but righteous
8 Yes but just
8 Yes but Sovereign
Yes, they were struck from the their foot for the top of their head. They were wounded and there was no one to bound them up. The result of the sinfulness also struck the country. The cities were burned with fire. God allowed the enemy to come in and strike the lands. There was no crop. The land laid waste and the enemy took whatever they wanted.
Israel became the weak nation. Many of them were taken away in captivity, and only a remnant remained. So hopeless were they that they were described as a shelter in a vineyard. The once proud and beautiful city of Jerusalem is now described as hopeless and helpless, a shelter. Almost like the ones in our backyard, ready to be blown over by the wind. The once green fields of Israel have now become a cucumber patch with only a hut, unprotected and dilapidated. Jerusalem was a city under siege, but this time their enemy was God Himself.
A lesson for today
The history of Israel is also a lesson for us today. God calls to church to be holy. God calls us to be his nation, his own people. If we'd neglect his Word, turn away from him, turn our backs on him, then we should know that we have become covenant breakers worthy of the judgment punishment of God.
God's blessing cannot rest upon his church while they are covenant breakers. God's blessing cannot rest upon the people when they turn against his Word. In fact, the whole world will not make any sense to us for as long as we turn our backs upon God.
God is holy. God is just. God punishes the sins of his people
The grace of God
We have learned that the faithfulness and the holiness of God. The Holiness of God demands justice. But this verse out of Isaiah also teaches us about God's mercy. We read in the verse nine:
Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah. Isaiah 1:9
Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors! We can be unfaithful to God, but God cannot be unfaithful to Himself. His covenant is an everlasting covenant. He could have destroyed his people long ago if He wanted to, but because He is faithful to his covenant, there was a remnant that survived.
And so it is with us. God could have wiped us from the face of this earth if He wanted to, long ago. But He is faithful to his covenant, and today even He is calling us into the covenant relationship with Him. There is still mercy with God.
He is cleansing his church. Many of those who are members of the church, with their names written on the rolls, are not members of church of Christ. With the return of Christ they will be purged. But the number of God’s elect is certain; they are washed in the blood of Christ Jesus and no one can snatch them out of his hand.
Christ is the head of the new covenant, in his blood He payed the price for our iniquities. He became our righteousness. In Him is forgiveness and new life. Let us confess our sins before Him; let us ask Him to restore our land and to restore our church and to restore our personal lives.