We can stand firm because the Bible stands forever
Isaiah chapter 40 marks a new section in the book of Isaiah. Up to this point, Isaiah had been warning the Jews of his own time to obey the Lord (cf. Isaiah 1:18-19).
But in Isaiah 40, he shifts to the future. In just a short while, the Jews would find themselves taken captive to the land of Babylon. There they would languish for 70 years.
Questions would certainly flood their minds, like, “Has God abandoned us?” “Will we ever return to our home?”
Isaiah, guided by God’s Holy Spirit, would write for those Jews living decades later, to comfort them. Isaiah 40 begins on this note: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God” (Isaiah 40:1).
Part of the comfort he gave was that they would return to the Promised Land (Isaiah 43) and Babylon would fall (Isaiah 46).
How could they know that this would be true? Because, Isaiah reports, God’s Word stands forever. Through any trial or change, God’s people can be assured that the Bible stands. That God’s promises are always true.
But before we come to this great theological bedrock to base our lives on, God, through Isaiah, reminds us that…
All of us have had problems in our lives that we could not solve by ourselves. It may have been medical or mechanical; it could have been mathematics or something else, but we simply couldn’t come to the solution by ourselves.
Turn to Isaiah 53. The truth is, all of us are born in a situation where we have a problem—a spiritual problem—that we cannot solve by ourselves. We need help. Isaiah 53 describes our problem and God’s solution.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs,
And carried our sorrows:
Yet we did esteem him stricken,
Smitten of God,
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities:
The chastisement of our peace was upon him;
And with his stripes we are healed.
6 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.
I want to come at this passage from two different angles. First, I want us to see how it describes our problem. Then, we’ll back up and take another run through to see God’s solution.
20160619FBCAM [Father’s Day]
For some folks, Father’s Day can be a sad day. There are those, like Tami and I, whose father has died. We have only the memories left. There are others whose memory of their father is not so good—he was abusive or alcoholic or he left or he was never there.
For them, the relationship of a father is marred so badly that they even have a hard time dealing with God as a Father. They’ve only experienced a father as someone who was self-centered and temporary.
I hope I can help by showing:
The text that we need to turn to is Isaiah 9:6—
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: And the government shall be upon his shoulder: And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
This is normally a text that we use at Christmas. Now, we want to just look at one of these names of Jesus—“everlasting Father. ”
20160124FBCAM [Sanctity of Life Sunday]
THE GUILT OF ABORTION
Abortion is wrong, and the Bible is very clear about that. I am not going to go into much detail about why here, but I think the Bible’s biggest argument against abortion is in the first chapter of Genesis.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27)
Every human is made in the image of God and is therefore valuable at any stage of life—whether in the womb or confined to a nursing home bed with Alzheimer’s. God did not make us the same as animals; he made us in his image; he made us special. David would proclaim in Psalm 139—
13 For thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Marvellous are thy works; And that my soul knoweth right well. (Psalm 139:13–14)
Our society is inconsistent in their value of a human being. We have fetal homicide laws that make it murder for someone to kill a baby in the womb by, for example, killing the mother, but abortion isn’t murder.
Doctors will move heaven and earth to save babies that are 22 weeks premature and weigh less than a pound. But in the next room, they will abort a baby the same gestation.
The Bible says that all human life is special and valuable, no matter how old or in what condition.
Now, the reason I bring this up is because there are thousands upon thousands of women and men, who have been involved in an abortion and have come, later, to see the Biblical truth and experience great guilt.
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.
Roughly 2,600 years ago, the army of the Babylonian Empire finally broke through the walls of Jerusalem after a two and a half year siege.
Judah’s king, Zedekiah, fled with his nobles under the cover of darkness, but they did not make it far. The Babylonians captured him, and made him watch while they killed his sons and all the nobles of Judah.
Then they gouged out his eyes and put him in chains.
The Babylonians burned the Kingʼs house, and all the houses in Jerusalem. Then they broke down the walls of Jerusalem.
Finally, they gathered all the Jews who were left and marched them across the desert sands to Babylon, where they and their descendants would remain in captivity for 70 years.
One person who lived through these events was Jeremiah. He recorded his struggle with what was happening in the book of Lamentations. Listen to a couple verses:
8 Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. (Lamentations 3:8)
18 And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: (Lamentations 3:18)
Jeremiah felt like the Lord was distant. He may have even felt abandoned by God. That is something that Isaiah, who lived a century before Jeremiah, anticipated. The Holy Spirit who inspired Isaiah knew that the people would struggle with the feeling of being abandoned by God.