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Isaiah22a A new creation - cleansing grace

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A new creation

Cleansing Grace

Announcements

Call to worship

Bible Verse

The LORD Almighty is the One you are to regard as holy, He one you are to fear, He is the one you are to dread,
and He will be a sanctuary.  (Isaiah 8:13-14)

The Lord’s Prayer
Blessing


Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:2)

Hymn :           “Meekness and majesty” – Screen (Mission Praise 465)

Invocation

Teach us, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then we will keep them to the end. Give us understanding, and we will keep your law and obey it with all our heart. Direct us in the path of your commands, for there we find delight. Turn our heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn our eyes away from worthless things; preserve our life according to your word. Amen. (Psalm 119:33-37)

Scripture Reading:                    Revelation 21:1-5, 22-27                   

Prayer of Adoration and Confession

O, Father in heaven, to You we sing a new song; we sing to the Lord with all the earth. We bless your name and proclaim the good news of you salvation day after day. We declare your glory among the nations, your marvelous works among all people. Lord, You are great and most worthy of praise; You are to be feared above all gods, for all the gods of the nations are idols, but You, Lord, made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before You; strength and beauty are where You dwell. (Psalm 96:1–6)

Father, we have sinned against You.  It is so easy to worship You the way we think is right in your sight, and we forget that You want to be worshipped according to your own standards.  Like king Saul, we do as we see fit, and we forget that You do not have as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying of your voice. Indeed, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. Father, your Word declares that the sacrifices you accept are a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart.  So we stand before You – our sin is before us.  We plead forgiveness.  Restore us to Yourself in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, by the purifying work of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Declaration of pardoning

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. (Joel 2:13)

Hymn:                            “Father, We thank you” – Screen (Scripture in Song 269)

Offering and Dedication

But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. (2 Corinthians 8:7)

All, remaining seated, sing Hymn 432 (verses 1-3)

Prayer for others

Scripture Reading                     Isaiah 4:2-6          

Sermon          New Creation – Cleansing grace

Introduction

My dear Brother and Sister in the Lord,

It is amazing how standards in a society can change.  What was good some years ago, is being looked down at these days.  What was bad some years ago is now regarded as a virtue.  Some comedy shows in television lead the way in this regard.  Certain things that were not laughed at in good company are now the talk of the show.

Watch some of these fashion shows and you really wonder what will be next.  The irony is that hardly anyone that I see around me wears the so-called creations of fashion designers.  As a matter of fact, it seems as if our ladies, and more so the young ladies, couldn’t care less what they wear – or not wear. 

The same corruption is seen on the front of the art and performing arts.  I honestly can’t see the way ahead.  What will this generation dish up for the next?  Am I just old fashioned?  No, I don’t think so.  Fact is our generation, in spite of all the technological advances and explosions in the area information technology, is left with a moral decay that leaves us holding our breath.  What does the future hold?

8 Nothing new under the sun

If you can remember what the Word of God taught us about the standard of society in the days of Isaiah, one can indeed say, “There is nothing now under the sun!”

8 In spite of the moral decay and decline national security and national economy, no to mention the spiritual corruption in Israel, chaos ruled the minds of people.  The reference to the “Daughter of Judah” is one of a hedonistic society where pleasure and hollow vanity was considered a virtue.  The womenfolk couldn’t care about the terrible state of the people, as long as they could dress up beautifully and looked good.  They walked around with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles.

The men abandoned their roles as heads of their families, leaving the leadership to the women and the inexperienced, yet arrogant youth, plunging society into a state of anarchy.

The worst part of it all was the fact that no-one seemed to care.  They were blind to their corruption and deaf to the words of warning coming from God through the prophets.  Indeed, the prophets of God were not even listened to because their message sounded so unloving and harsh.  The prophets of the court of the king just coaxed everyone with sweet words of peace, while there was no peace.

Now, is it much different in our day?  Is the church making progress with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, or are we slipping back?  And in times like this, we need an answer about the future.  So were there people in Israel, wanting to hear some word of comfort from God through his prophets.  And so were there a church in the days of the Apostle John living in Asia Minor, feeling and seeing the scars meted out to the believers in Christ and the message of the cross.  8 Is there hope?  Is there a future?

The Bible is clear:  “Yes!” – a thousand times “Yes”.  And not only is it “a pie in the sky when you die”.  Let’s say it loud and clear, let’s proclaim it from the roof tops:  Because of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have indeed a bright future. The effect of the victorious work of our Lord means the restoration of the dominion of God in the Headship of Christ. Let’s call that the restoration of Jerusalem, the kingdom of Christ. Further, not only do we fix our hopes on this world and this age, but we fix it on a new and everlasting home with God – the New Jerusalem.

8 Jerusalem restored

I am using this term “Jerusalem restored” in a very specific way.  I oppose the idea of a millennial Jerusalem that will be rebuilt some day in the future in preparation for the return of Jesus Christ to reign in it for a thousand years.  Some good theologians believe this, but I believe it is not what the Scriptures teach.

The restored “Jerusalem” the passage from Isaiah 6 is not the literal Jerusalem.  It refers to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is the church, but it is also far more than the church.  “All authority in heaven and on earth”, Jesus said, is given unto Him.

8 We have seen in chapter 3 that restoration is only possible through judgement.  Judgement is referred to by the term “in that day”.  It is a day of punishment, but it is a day of refinement and deliverance.

8 This verse talks about the “Branch of the Lord”.  It is not a foreign term for the prophet.  Every time it is used, it refers to the coming Messiah.  It is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  He, then, is both Redeemer and Judge.  So it was at the time of his birth, his ministry and so it will be when He returns.  The notion of a “loving, meek Jesus” is not to be found in the Scriptures.  This is the message of the Scriptures.  Jeremiah wrote about it.

In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. (Jeremiah 33:15, see also Jer 23:5)

Our Lord is described as both Redeemer and Judge.  He purges his people from sin, but He condemns the wicked to everlasting hell and destruction.

8 But the message for the “remnant”, those whose names are written in the Book of Life (see verse 3) is a message of hope.  They will not be spared the tribulations and trails of the refining process, but by the grace of God they will survive gloriously.  There names are written in with the blood of the Lamb even before the creation of time. That is the very reason for their survival.  Yes, the devil will seek to destroy them, but God will shorten the days.

The Messiah, Jesus Christ, would fulfil what David was referring to in 2Samuel 23.  David’s last are recorded here.  He said:

The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me: ‘He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain.’ Although my house is not so with God, yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For this is all my salvation and all my desire; will He not make it increase? (2 Samuel 23:3-5)

David acknowledged that there will come another King who is just, ruling in the fear of God.  God made that true in Christ.  He was King like no other. And what was his mission?  To purge the elect of God from their sins, and to judge the wicked.

8 He, the sinless, came into this world to become that Root of Jesse; to be King along the line of David; to be the fulfilment of the promise God made to David that there will always be a king on his throne. 8 He is from God, but He was also man – and in that sense one can understand the two references about Him in verse 2.  He was the Branch of the Lord who is beautiful and glorious, but He was also the fruit of the land who is the pride and glory of the elect.

8 Another possible way to understand the second part of verse 2 is that He, in restoring the land and removing the filth and curse of sin, will bless the work of the hands of the elect. The fruit of their labour will be their pride and glory.  Both these explanations are possible in the light of the covenantal theology of the Scriptures.

8 He is called “Beautiful” and “Glorious”. This is in contrast with the false beauty of the daughters of Judah.  Here is the real beauty:  a righteousness brought about by the perfect Mediator between God and man.  He sacrifice on the cross was acceptable before; his sacrifice was the last ever needed to remove the filth of sin; his priesthood is an everlasting priesthood.  “O, Lord, You are beautiful”, the song goes.

8 His Kingship assures the “pride” and “glory” of the elect. That He is our glory before God has a marvellous follow-on effect:  God now looks upon the remnant, those whose names are written (or recorded) among the living, and He calls them “holy”.  They are holy, not because they are without sin; they are holy, because God declares them holy in the Redeemer.  To be holy, is to be given a status, a rank, a citizenship by God.  God calls us holy.  He makes us holy in Christ, and now He calls us by the new nature in Him, which is holy.

8 This remnant, these elect people of God, who have their names written in the book, are washed and cleansed.  They are God’s Jerusalem.  They are the Bride of the Lamb.  They are dressed in white robes, washed in the blood of the Lamb.  There deeds are righteous in Christ.  He saved them.  But He judged, and is judging the wicked, the sinful and the rebellious. 8 As He is still gathering his elect, so He is still judging the sinful.  This is a process the will gain momentum, because He is King and He is victorious.  He is gathering the Jerusalem, the remnant.  He is restoring Jerusalem.  And as we are part of that growing kingdom, we must look up with joy.  8 We must shed the frown and pessimism.  We must keep ourselves holy, not blemish our selves with the filth of the world.

8 He gave us his Spirit, referred to in verse 4 as the Spirit of judgment and the Spirit of fire. It is not by accident that His name is Holy Spirit.  Christ promised to send Him, and He convicts the world of guild in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). 

8 And then, as verse 5 promises, our Messiah will give us not only protection, but free and direct access to God.  Listen:  not only the most holy in the temple is a place of communion with God, but all of Mount Zion.  Zion here is the church, new creation.  And the pictures of the people on their way out of Egypt and their stay in the wilderness are used here in the most glorious way.  Remember how we spoke about 8  “the-Glory-of-the-Lord” some Sundays ago?  It symbolised God’s holiness, as well as his presence with his people.  It also symbolised God’s protection over his people.  The pillar of smoke (cloud) and the pillar of fire went out before the people.  God was with his people.  Here the same symbols are used.  Glory, cloud of smoke, glow of flaming fire – 8 and now even more clearly: the canopy of protection.  It tells about the shelter against the heat of the day and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.  Thus is our Messiah to us.  Thus is God’s provision for his elect.  Thus God is rebuilding Jerusalem – his church.

Brother and sister, let’s cast away the pessimism and cynicism.  God is rebuilding his Jerusalem, not a literal one in Israel.  He is gathering unto Him his elect.  He gave us the Messiah according to the promise to David.  Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords.  To Him all authority is given.  And in that authority He is sending his church with the Great Commission to conquer the world and the gather the harvest.

The world around us is filthy, but there is a remedy:  the message of hope in the Messiah.  He cleanses from sin and filth.  He is our beauty and our glory.

8 The New Jerusalem

 Just a few words on our final home:  the New Jerusalem – heaven.  The passage we read from Revelation 21 combines themes from paradise, the temple and the restored Jerusalem.  Here God dwells with his people.  He wipes the tears from there eyes.  There is no more death or mourning or pain.  The old order of things does not apply here. There is no temple in this city, because the Lord Almighty and the Lamb, the Messiah, are its temple.  There is no moon, sun or stars, because the glory of God gives light, and the Lamb gives light. In it will be gathered all the elect from all tribes and nations. Nothing impure will ever enter it, although the gates will never be shut.  Now, listen to this, the glory and honour (same words used in Isaiah 4 as work of the Messiah done for the elect) will be brought into the New Jerusalem. No filth in this everlasting city of God, because only those whose names are in the Book of the Lamb will enter it.

8 Conclusion

You ask:  is there hope?  You say: look at what is going on around us.  The Scripture says:  Look at what the Messiah has done.  Roll up your sleaves, and start working; rebuild Jerusalem.  Your reward is an everlasting city in the presence of God. Praise be to God.  Amen.

Prayer

Hymn No 258:                            “Come and see the shining hope”

Benediction

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Hymn 636

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