20150920FBCPM & 20150924FBCTH
The most terrifying class for me in seventh and eighth grade was PE. Physical Education class was horrible for a geeky, gawky, uncoordinated country boy who just wanted to disappear into the background. The worst of the PE classes was when we played Dodge Ball in the gym.
In Dodge Ball, two teams would throw rubber balls of various sizes at each other. If a ball hit someone, that person was out—meaning knocked unconscious. Well, if a macho boy threw the ball, that would be the case, because they could throw the balls at high speeds that really stung when you got hit.
Us geeky boys, well, it looked like we were just throwing the balls back to our opponents to catch—we weren’t, those really were our best high-speed throws.
My strategy for Dodge Ball took into account two things: (1) I couldn’t throw worth a hoot and (2) I really, really didn’t want to get hit. Therefore, I, and a few of my select friends, would hang out on the back wall of the gym.
It gave us the maximum amount of time to react to an incoming ball, which meant that we could barely cover our face and pray a last prayer.
The strategy, however, had a terrible consequence—we would be the last ones left on our team. We would be the remnant. A remnant is whatever is leftover, like carpet remnants. It can be a terribly difficult place to be, whether in Dodge Ball, or, as we’ll learn here, the remnants of God’s faithful people.
All through the Bible you see the Lord working with a remnant. How many people were on the ark with Noah? Eight!
One of my favorite remnant stories is Gideon. Gideon had an army of 32,000 men, but he had to fight a much larger army of 135,000 men.
Talk about a remnant! Any field general worth his salt knows that 4 to 1 odds are a disaster waiting to happen. But not with God, no sir, he knew what to do, he had Gideon send most of the troops home. So Gideon was left with only 300 men and 400 to 1 odds. And God made sure that Gideon won! You can check it out for yourself in Judges 6-8.
Elijah experienced the loneliness that can come with being in a remnant. The Lord encouraged him:
18 …I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. (1 Kings 19:18)
On and on through the Bible, you can find God working with just a few people because the rest had abandoned him. God uses remnants. Do you, as a Christian, feel alone in the world sometimes? Like everyone else is walking away from Jesus Christ and no one cares about living for the Lord?
In Isaiah , God was about to use Assyria to punish and discipline his own people for their disobedience. I wonder what some of the true believers felt in those days. Did they feel alone? This passage was encouragement for them and is encouragement for us who feel alone in today’s world.
We will learn three truths about the remnant in this passage: The Remnant Depends on the LORD; The Remnant is Disciplined By the LORD; The Remnant is Defended By the LORD.
THE REMNANT DEPENDS ON THE LORD
Isaiah 10:20 And it shall come to pass in that day, That the remnant of Israel, And such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, Shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; But shall stay upon the LORD, The Holy One of Israel, in truth.
Isaiah 10:21 The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, Unto the mighty God.
The Hebrew word for “stay” (שׁען) means “to support one’s self:—lean, rely, stay, or depend.” It’s used other times in the Bible, like in, ”Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
Have you ever thought about why the Lord would want his remnant people to depend on him—to be stayed on him?
Once there was a rich man who had a son to whom he promised an annual allowance. Every year on the same day, he would give his son the entire amount. After a while, it happened that the only time the father saw his son was on the day of allowance.
So the father changed his plan and only gave the son enough for the day. Then the next day the son would return. From then on, the father saw his son every day. This is the way God dealt with Israel. It is the way God deals with us. (Galaxie)
Assyria was the superpower nation of the day, and Israel was going to make a treaty with Assyria to protect them, instead of depending on the LORD and staying close to him. The LORD said that was foolishness because Assyria would turn and smote them. So verse 20 tells us that they would no longer “stay upon him that smote them.”
The remnant would be stayed upon the LORD instead. They would rely or depend on the LORD for their life, their protection, their everything. They would trust the LORD, but not just in their heads or with their words, they would actively lean upon him through tough times. They would be close to him, as the father wanted his son to be close to him.
It’s one thing to say that you trust in Jesus Christ, but are you stayed upon him, do you depend totally on him for your salvation and your life?
We humans like to think that we can do something to earn our salvation. We like to think that somehow when God takes a look at our works, he’ll say, “Well, you did pretty well, you can enter Heaven.” I’m sorry, but that won’t happen.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)
Salvation is by grace, through faith, to remove any notion that we can boast about getting to Heaven. Faith is trusting the LORD, it is relying on the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf for our salvation.
Have you entrusted your life to Jesus and become part of his remnant?
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13–14)
THE REMNANT IS DISCIPLINED BY THE LORD
Isaiah 10:22 For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, Yet a remnant of them shall return: The consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.
Isaiah 10:23 For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, In the midst of all the land.
The “consumption” here means destruction. God was going to take Israel and reduce it from being as many as the “sand of the sea” to just a remnant.
We also learn that the destruction would “overflow with righteousness.” No one will be able to legitimately shake their fist at God and say “this is unfair.” The LORD would simply roll out the evidence that they had it coming.
For many people, it’s hard to believe that God disciplines his people. But it is a very clear biblical teaching; for example, when Paul addressed problems with communion in the church at Corinth, he said:
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (1 Corinthians 11:28–30)
Hebrews 12, the most important biblical passage on the Lord’s discipline, says:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Hebrews 12:6)
And a few verses later, we see why the Lord disciplines his people—to make them holy, to make them more like him:
10 For they [our earthly fathers] verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for [the Lord] our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (Hebrews 12:10)
God disciplines believers to get them back on the track of being like him. Tony Evans tells a story about a little boy who…
…had his little toy boat floating on the pond and the boat began to drift way out. He couldn’t get it. A man came by and saw the boat way out in the pond and he did something very interesting. He picked up stones and threw them on the other side of the boat. He threw them beyond where the boat was. The boy didn’t understand what the man was trying to do. The stones were causing quite a disturbance in the water. Something very interesting began to happen. As the man threw the stones out in the pond, they created ripples of water that moved backward toward where he and the boy were standing. Those ripples slowly pushed the boat back to shore.
That’s how God’s discipline is. When we wander away from Him in the “Sea of Sin” or the “Pond of Unrighteousness,” He throws the disturbing actions of His loving discipline in order to create a disturbance to push us back onshore. God wants to push us back to where we should never have wandered from in the first place. (126-7)
If you are harboring sins in your life, you would do well to repent of them and ask the Lord to help you break those ungodly habits. Otherwise, the Lord may start the painful process of discipline.
When the LORD disciplines it is because he loves his people. He does care for the remnant that will follow him. Finally, we see also that…
THE REMNANT IS DEFENDED BY THE LORD
For those who will truly be his followers, he will defend them. That is what happens in the last part of Isaiah 10.
Isaiah 10:24 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, Be not afraid of the Assyrian: He shall smite thee with a rod, And shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt.
Isaiah 10:25 For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, And mine anger in their destruction.
The LORD tells them that his anger is but for a moment. When the discipline is done, he will defend the remnant from the mighty Assyrian army.
In verses 28-31, Isaiah lists all the cities on the route of the Assyrian army as they approached Jerusalem. In verse 32, we find the Assyrians at the city of Nob, just a short distance from Jerusalem.
Isaiah 10:32 As yet shall he remain at Nob that day: He shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, The hill of Jerusalem.
They would close in on Jerusalem, but as we learned last time, they would not conquer Jerusalem. Instead, God wiped out the Assyrian army, 185,000 of them, before they could destroy Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:35).
Isaiah 10:33 Behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, Shall lop the bough with terror: And the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, And the haughty shall be humbled.
Isaiah 10:34 And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, And Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.
A few years ago, we got a late Christmas letter from a former pastor of ours. Much of the letter detailed a very bad month for their son, Tim, who was a squadron leader in Iraq.
On December 2nd, his Humvee hit a land mine. Two of his squadron were killed; his best friend lost both his legs. Tim was banged up, but was back to duty December 14th.
On December 20th, his truck stopped to check a road block they had set up. Five seconds later they heard the whining scream of a Rocket Propelled Grenade as it whizzed right over their vehicle and slammed into a building behind them.
Two more army units pulled up to help as another RPG whizzed past them and hit the same building. This time they got a fix on where it came from. They began maneuvering for for a better position and in the process they hit another land mine—but only the blasting cap went off, causing minimal damage.
A third RPG missed them and got stuck in the wall of a building. Once they were inside the building, they called in the artillery.
In the letter, Tim’s mom wrote, “See Psalm 91.” Turn there with me.
1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: My God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, And from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, And under his wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; Nor for the arrow that flieth by day; (Psalm 91:1–5)
The Remnant is defended by the LORD.
Sometimes, well, maybe more often than not, when I look around this world, and the decline of godly living, I feel very alone.
When I am at a restaurant or in a store and hear people using my Lord’s name in vain, I feel alone.
When I read an article about the fascinating dinosaurs, and it insists that they lived millions of years ago, I feel alone.
When I see other Christians walk in the world’s ways and busy themselves with the temporary business of this life so much that they can’t come to church, or spend time alone with Jesus, I feel alone.
Frankly, there are many times that, as a Christian who wants to want to live for the Lord, I instead go back to my Dodge Ball strategy: I retreat to the back wall and hope that no one hits me.
But I am encouraged when I remember that God has always used the remnant; I remember that:
1. The Remnant depends on the LORD, so as long as I rely on him, it doesn’t matter what falls apart around me.
2. The Remnant is disciplined by the LORD, because he loves me and he wants me to be holy like his Son Jesus Christ.
3. The Remnant is defended by the LORD, he will be my refuge and fortress in this world till the day I die.
Evans, Tony. Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009. Print.
Galaxie Software. 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press, 2002. Print.