This sermon is on Isaiah 43:14-28. It was preached at Red Mills Baptist Church on March 22, 2020. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it was meant to be live-streamed, but we had problems with the connection.
I’m going to take this somewhat out of order here, but in this passage, we see a God of astonishing kindness, and we see that the people of God, filled with sin.
First, how have God’s people sinned?
They have sinned because they have not called on The Lord but grown weary of Him in verse 22. To not call on the Lord is to rely on SOMETHING ELSE. But God’s people are to RELY on God for help, and to trust in it, as if it were all we had. Because brothers and sisters, if the Lord does not build the house, they that labor, labor in vain. And if God does not save us, we will not be saved.
Today the entire world is facing a terrible crisis. It is not unlike the plagues that struck the ancient world time after time. And while we must all make wise decisions; we like our brothers of old must call on The Lord in this time of crisis. Because, in the end, He is the one in control.
Trust in The Lord for the outcomes!
In verses 23 and 24 we see that God’s people did not bring in the sacrifices due to The Lord. And it is not as if God was burdening them with demands for excessive sacrifices. They were simply to show their dependence on God and to support the priesthood. Just as our tithes and offerings are not burdensome. Our tithes and offerings are to support our shepherd, and kingdom work around the world. And they are an act of worship, coming from a joyful heart of thanksgiving, and a desire to acknowledge God as first in all things.
But they were not even bringing him that token of recognition. They failed to acknowledged HIM as their source and their provider. Instead, they were burdening him with their sin.
Brothers and sisters, does your giving reflect the primacy of God in your life? Are you holding on to hidden sin? Repent of it.
But now, let us turn to God in our passage. We begin in verse 14 with God declaring that FOR THE SAKE OF HIS PEOPLE, he will carry away the Chaldeans by bringing in the Babylonians.
For the sake of his people!
Our God LOVES his people.
And throughout this passage we see that our God is a God of blessing, showering his people with good things.
He is the God “Who makes a way through the sea” in verse 16, reminding us of how he brought his people through the Red Sea.
And he is the God “Who brings forth the chariot and the horse…not to rise again” in verse 17, reminding us of how for benefit of his people, he destroyed the Egyptian army.
But then in verse 18 he says “Do not mind the former things”, that is forget what I did in the past because in verse 19 “I will do something new”. God is not done blessing his people. Something so great that “The beasts of the fields will glorify me” in verse 20. And his people, in verse 21, will declare his praise.
We know he is talking about sending Jesus, the messiah, but that is only hinted at in verse 25 “I am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my Own sake”
In verse 26, we see just how tender is God the father. Because despite our sin, and how his people have treated him, instead of wrath, which would be quite deserved, he says “Put me in remembrance”, REMEMBER what I have done. Such a gentle reminder. Then, “let us argue our case together … State your cause, that you may be proved right.” He is so gracious to us. It reminds me of how God spoke to Jonah when he asks him “Do you have good reason to be angry?” Just like a father, teaching his son, so does our heavenly father speak to us.
And then we come to verse 28.
While our loving God does not bring his wrath upon his people, he will chastise them with a ban and revilement.
So despite the sinfulness and forgetfulness of his people, God reminds them of all the good that he has done for them, along with the promise of even greater blessing in the future, after a time of chastening.
Brothers and sisters, we do not know God’s purpose or purposes in this pandemic. It might be judgement. And we must consider the real possibility that It might, at least in part, be a chastening. And it might be neither, just as Job’s sufferings were neither. But we know that our God loves us with a fiery passion that knows NO LIMITS. We know this because Jesus died for you and for me. And so, as pastor has reminded us, and as the word of God declares, Trust in the Lord!
Proverbs 3:5,6 says:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
And while we may not know the reasons or purposes God has for the present situation, we do know what he wants of us. Micah 6:8 says:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
And 1 John 4:7 tells us:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
Let us turn to the Lord in this time of uncertainty, trusting him for our provision, our safety, our very life.
And let us share the love of Christ with one another, and with our neighbors, because by so doing we show forth the truth of the Gospel.