Christ in Isaiah
Beschreibung6 addresses about the books Isaish in regard to the Lord Jesus Christ.
… I shall read the greater part of the seventh chapter of the prophet Isaiah. Prophet Isaiah chapter 7. And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jopham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin, the king of Syria, and Pekah, the son of Ramaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. Then said the Lord unto Isaiah, go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou and Sha'ar Jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fullest field, and say unto him, take heed and be quiet. Fear not, neither be faint-hearted, for the two tales of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Ramaliah. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Ramaliah, hath taken evil counsel against thee, saying, let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tebiel. Thus saith the Lord God, it shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass, for the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin, and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, let it be not a people. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Ramaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God. Ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David. Is it a small thing for you to weary men? But will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. The Lord shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah, even the king of Assyria. Because I'm otherwise certain to forget at the end of the meeting, there's one thing that I'd like to say at this particular time for no better reason, and that is that if the brethren are agreeable, I propose, God willing, on Saturday to reverse the two subjects given, so that in the afternoon the subject would be the anointed one in chapters 61 and 63, and in the evening the subject would be the servant of Jehovah, that's the second part, and the reason I would like to do this is that I cannot escape by any means from the strong desire that I have that we should end our series on Isaiah chapter 53 in the evening, and I feel that the distortion of the order will not be too serious to arrange the meetings on Saturday like this. So unless I have some very violent protest about a breach of faith, this is how I propose to arrange it on Saturday, God willing. On the afternoon of the third day after Jesus died, two of his disciples were walking the seven miles, that's the distance from Newcastle to Ponteland, walking seven miles from Jerusalem to a village. There were no buses, and it was unlikely that they could thumb a lift from a Roman chariot, but they were used to walking, and so they walked on. But this time, accustomed as they were to walking, their feet were lead and their hearts were stone. So disappointed were they at the fact that Jesus, in whom their hopes had been brought to center, had died. And we can see them as they walk along, with their faces lined with grief, and trudging along with their heads close together, talking to each other. And they're so intent upon their talking to each other that they don't notice that a stranger has fallen in alongside them, and begins to walk with them, and soon enters the conversation, and says to them, what can you be talking about which makes you look so sad? And they said, we're talking about Jesus of Nazareth. He said, what about Jesus of Nazareth? What things are you talking about? And they suddenly stopped, and they looked at him and said, you must be the only person staying in Jerusalem at this feast time who doesn't understand the things that are happening there these days. There was Jesus the Nazarene, a prophet from God, whose sermons and his miracles were of terrific power in the sight of God and man. And we'd come to believe that he was the one who would redeem Israel. But our rulers have delivered him up to Roman court, and he has been crucified. And we thought he had been the one who would redeem Israel. And they said, but just listen to the rest of the story. This morning, some of our women folk burst in and caused us to be greatly excited by telling us that they'd been to the tomb, and they found the body wasn't there. And then they'd seen angels who'd said to them that he was alive, but they didn't see him. So some of our men went to the tomb, and they found it just as they'd said, but they didn't see Jesus. And so the stranger said to them, how slow you are to understand and believe. Those same scriptures which made you think that he was to be the deliverer of Israel, didn't you understand from those same scriptures that it must be, it had to be, that he was going to suffer and die? And while they were talking about this, he then began, at the book of Genesis, at the beginning of their ancient scriptures, and he began to go through the whole of those Old Testament books and explain to them in all the scriptures, all the things about himself, explaining how it was necessary that the Messiah should die, suffer death, and rise again from the dead the third day. And of course they arrived at the village, and he made that he was going to go forward. But they said to him, oh stay with us, it's evening now, and it'll soon be dark. And so they persuaded him, and he went in. And they soon had a meal ready, and they sat down to it. But then they got another big surprise, because the stranger became the host. And he took the food, and he gave thanks for it, and gave it to them. And in that instant, they recognized that it was Jesus. And in the same instant, in front of their eyes, he vanished out of their sight. And they looked at each other and said, it's just dawning upon us, that while he was talking to us, our hearts changed. Instead of being like stone, they began to warm up. And they began to burn within us, while he was speaking to us, by the way. And they got up that same instant, and walked those seven miles back to Jerusalem. If anybody, um, wants to know what is our object, in speaking of the passages that we are speaking about this week, then we are seeking for that experience of the burning heart. We're speak—seeking for that experience that our hearts will burn within us, as he speaks to us in all the scriptures of the things concerning himself. Would the Lord Jesus Christ speak to the mouth of the prophet Isaiah? He would indeed. And that's a very good reason why we should seek to find Christ in Isaiah. They arose, and they went back the seven miles to Jerusalem. Where did they get the energy from, at the end of that long, toilsome, sad road? It was the burning heart that gave them the energy. They knew the Lord in the midst, after having got to know him by the way. And in a very short time, their feet were beautiful upon the mountains, spreading abroad over the world the gospel of peace, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the crucified, and the risen Savior. And we would make no secret of the fact that what we are asking for the Lord this evening is the experience of the burning heart that provides the fuel for burning up the sadness that is upon so many of us, due to various kinds of disillusionment, that we also might know the Lord by the way. And in the midst, that our feet might become beautiful upon the mountains, spreading aboard the glad tidings of peace. An eminent prophet, I once heard say, that gives you to understand that it is a prophet of our own times, and not one of the Bible prophets. An eminent prophet, I once heard say, that the objectives of true ministry are two, to open up the scriptures and to engage the hearts of the Lord's people with himself. And that brings true to me, to open up the scriptures and to engage the hearts of the Lord's people with himself. Regarding the first, when as quite a young man, I first began to devote myself, not enough, but when I first began to devote myself to serious study of the scriptures, one of the first books that I tried, with the help of God, to delve into, as far as he would enable me to do so, was the prophet Isaiah. And I found there a pasture of such exceeding richness in the things of God and of Christ, that it has left a mark on my heart that has never left me. And it is for this reason, amongst others, that I have taken the presumption of inviting you to read with me in the prophet Isaiah. With, I trust, real humility, I want to think of myself as a very inferior under-shepherd, under the rod and the staff of the chief shepherd himself, so that we may walk together through this rich pasture of the prophet Isaiah. The second proposition that was made is that true ministry engages the heart with the Lord Jesus Christ. And truly, and surely, there is no portion of scripture which more stirringly and movingly and more with a greater charm presents to us the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and the thing that has been called by the poet Isaiah's wild page, so that we might be led by this to do like Thomas did, to fall at his feet and say, my Lord and my God. And it's a very interesting thing to see that the first clear reference to our Lord in the prophet Isaiah is the same name that has been written on the opening page of the New Testament, which is Immanuel, God with us, Immanuel, God with us. That's interpreted in Matthew chapter 1 to be fulfilled in the birth of Jesus at Nazareth. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and shall bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Immanuel. And this name says, that child that was to be born, it says, he is God, Immanuel. It adds with us, but it says he is God. I love to dwell upon those instances, and they're quite numerous in the Gospels, where in an instant, with one flash of impression, so to speak, we get the impressions. There are the twin pillars of the temple of revelation, the absolute deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the perfect humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. And the story of this birth of the Virgin Mary, and the story of the name given, is like this. There are certain marks which distinguish man as distinct from God, like, for example, weariness and sleep. But there is not a more striking one than being conceived, and being born, and being nursed, and being fed as a baby thus entering in the world. This was truly God. This was truly man. This child was to grow up, to enter the world in a manner which betoken absolutely that he was perfectly a man. And yet, on the same instant, the name given said that he is God. And we have there the absolute deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. You might say to me, does that mean that any person called Emmanuel must be God? Is Emmanuel Shilmul God? No, indeed. But in this case, the whole of scripture before and after demands the fullest possible meaning to this name given to this baby in Bethlehem, that his name was Emmanuel. He was, overall, God, blessed forever. And we have these twin revelations to us. The fact that the name goes on is a separate, I think, and an additional thing that it is God with us. And whatever else we may learn as we seek to find Christ in the prophet Isaiah, you can take this and I can take this and we can make it our pillow tonight that God, the Almighty God, is with us. In spite of all the things that there are to disillusion us and to disturb us and to make us sad, we can lay our heads down upon our pillows tonight and every night with the knowledge that springs out to us from this name given to the baby of Bethlehem, and that is that God is with us. There hasn't only been a Hiroshima and a Belsen, a Bermuda and a Belfast, but there has been a Bethlehem. And that Bethlehem assures us, the great event of Bethlehem assures us that God is with us. And we are entitled fully to reason, as the Apostle Paul does, from this event and all that sprang from it, if God before us, who can be against us? And all the facts which make it possible for us to say this, if God before us, who can be against us? Notably, the cross and the resurrection. They're all here in the bud as we contemplate the child in the virgin's womb whose name was to be Emmanuel. And they justify us in saying, if God before us, who can be against us? This is upon the opening page of the New Testament, and it's fitting, therefore, that upon the early parts of the prophet Isaiah, we should have this name brought before us as we have done. Now, I want to deal this evening with the first seven chapters of the prophet Isaiah. And you'll agree with me that there's something of a problem here. I cannot assume that we're all familiar with the pages, and that there must be some means whereby we turn over these pages together, and we first of all do something to get a general idea what are the contents of these chapters, so that we may then pick out the salient points. Now, the first large section of the prophet Isaiah is, of course, chapters 1 to 39. Everyone who reads the book can see the sharp division at the end of chapter 39. It's a kind of a second volume of the book after that. It's dominated by an entirely different set of circumstances. But from chapter 1 to 39, there is one particular situation in its developing stages, which dominates the book, and in it, the power of God and the promise of his Christ is developed. Now, within that, the first major division is the first 12 chapters. And I don't think there's anything more appealing to the heart than that 12th chapter, which brings this section to a close, when it says, Thou wast angry with me, but thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me. I will trust and not be afraid, therefore we shall with joy draw water out of the wells of salvation. Now, it seems to me necessary to divide that portion into two parts, and so I'm trying to consider this evening the first seven chapters. And for a few minutes, if you would open your Bibles, at the beginning of the prophet Isaiah, we would look over what it has to say. I won't read it. I'll hope that you are able to pick up the words as your eye stays upon the page, and you turn over the page as I go on, so that there will be coming to you a general idea of what the contents of the prophecy are before we come back to some details. Now, the first chapter stands clearly by itself, and it is a kind of preface or introduction. First of all, it specifies a particular period, and that is in the days of Isaiah, Jopham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. We shall have quite something to say, particularly about the reigns of Ahaz and Hezekiah, but there's no question at all about this portion of the book, and I presume that this refers to chapters 1 to 39. It fixes our attention upon the reigns of these four kings. Then in verse 8, this preface fixes our eyes upon a particular situation, and that is that Jerusalem is left all by itself, and the rest of the cities of Judah are overrun by a foreign power. Verse 7, strangers devour your land in your presence, it is desolate as overthrown by strangers, and the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. Now, that situation certainly did not arise until the story we have in chapters 36 and 37. It's in these chapters that the story comes to that point, when the whole of Judah is overrun by a foreign invader, except the city of Jerusalem, which is left alone. Now we might say, why is it that such a thing has happened? And the answer is given partly in verse 4, and that is that God's people have forsaken him. They were worse than the ox and the ass who knew their master's crib. But in verse 4, they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel, and to anger they are gone away backward. And in verse 23, we have an example of the kind of results, of a kind of actions in which their forsaking God have manifested themselves. Their princes are rebellious, and in the end they judge not the fatherless, neither does the cause of the widow come unto them. I don't know whether it strikes you how unchanging, in some ways, our God is, through all the progress of the revelation of himself that comes to us through Holy Scripture. Almost at the end of the book of God, it says, This is true religion, undefiled, to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. These are actions in tune with the deep compassion of God, that God missed from his earthly people, and in them they are a manifestation of their forsaking his will. God is still looking, but if his people are in tune with himself, they will have compassion on the underprivileged, and particularly on the people who are so described as the fatherless and widows again and again, both in this book and in other parts of the Word of God. They gave up judgment, and particularly the care of the fatherless and widows. In verse 18, we read that the Lord wants to reason with them about this, and perhaps this is the clearest indication of what the book is all about. It is God reasoning with them about the reasons for which his heart is sad about them, and he wants them to hear his voice, and he wants to bring them back into the ways of peace. Because we read that although in verse 25 he has to turn his hand upon them, yet in verse 27 we read that Zion will be redeemed with judgment after all. Now we shall find that the idea that he's turned his hand upon them to be a dominating idea in the rest of the prophet. Now chapter 2 to chapter 4 has some very precise indications. It seems to be a kind of second introduction, and it assures them that Zion and Jerusalem will be at the head of the nations in the end. Because although in chapters 1 to 39, Jerusalem is protected by the Lord from the foreign invader, it's a little later in the book, it does come. And in chapter 65, it says, Our holy and beautiful city is burned with fire and strangers devour it in our presence. So you only have to go further and you find that this city is overrun and destroyed. But God assures us in chapter 2, for example verse 2, It shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established from the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills. Now this description, and it's a very lovely one, if we had time we shall come back to it, ends with the words, Neither shall they learn war any more, in verse 4. But it goes on to say that the land at the present time is full of things that are distressing to the Lord. Verse 7, the land is full of silver and gold. Verse 8, the land is full of idols and they worship the work of their own hands. And because of this in verse 12, the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon everyone that is proud and lifted up. And through the rest of this passage, again and again, we read, in that day. Verse 17, the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. Verse 20, in that day a man shall cast his idols of silver and his idols of gold to the moles and to the bats and so on. Verse 7 of chapter 3, in that day. And so this is a description of the final blessing of God's beautiful city Zion. But in the meantime, God's judgment must be upon them. Now in chapter 5, particularly in verses 1 to 7, we have a song that the prophet sings about his beloved or his friend. And that gives in greater detail the reason why the hand of God is turned against his people. It describes the fact that he did all he could with Israel to bring forth fruit. But he found, when he came to it, he found wild grapes. It says that he came and looked for fruit. In verse 4, wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes. And because it brought forth wild grapes, God has broken down the fence and God has had to punish, to chastise his people. And from verse 8, almost to the end, down to verse 25, we have various woes in which the Lord is explaining to his people wherein they have grieved him. And in the end, he says in verse 25, therefore is the Lord, the anger of the Lord kindled against his people. He has stretched forth his hand against them and has smitten them, and the hills did tremble, and so on. At the end of that verse, for all this, his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. Now don't forget this, because it forms a refrain, which we'll come to much later. Again and again and again it's repeated, but the anger of the Lord, in spite of all the chastisements that have come upon them, the anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. And in verse 26, he says that he will carry out his chastisement, because they have so displeased him by hissing from a distant nation to come and overrun his land. Now this is the very bottom, so to speak, of the hill. This is the very lowest point, when God has sought to find fruit from his people, and he has found none. He has found wild grapes, and therefore his anger is turned against them. And when we get to the lowest point, then God begins by intervening himself. How does he intervene? He intervenes by bringing one man into his presence, and there, by conviction, confession, cleansing, and commissioning him, the Lord begins to recover again his people to himself. This is the story of what happened to Isaiah when he found himself in the presence of God. And although he is apt to pronounce woes against the people, he has to say in verse 5, in the presence of God, woe is me, for I am undone. And yet it says in verse 8, the Lord says, whom shall I send and who will go for us? And Isaiah said, here am I, send me. And he became Shiloh, he became Siloam, he became a sent one, with the lovely accents of the grace of God, who was to recover his people from their error, and to recover them to the ways of peace. And then, in chapter 7, we find that there's another intervention. There may be some, there certainly was a fairly considerable lapse of time between the two, but we find another intervention when God sends Isaiah to meet the king Ahaz. And when he finds that Ahaz is set upon not responding to God's overtures, then he gives him, on the one hand, a sign that Jerusalem will be delivered, and these people will be overcome, but God will bring upon him the one who will chastise him. From other passages we find that Ahaz had in fact already, probably already, invited the king of Assyria to come and help him. And it is in verse 17 of our chapter that we get an extremely dramatic situation. While all the time Isaiah has been asking Ahaz to ask for a sign, Ahaz is saying in his heart, presumably hoping that Isaiah won't know, my hope is in the king of Assyria. The king of Assyria is my hope. I refuse to commit myself to hope in the Lord. The king of Assyria is my hope. And when after he had been assured of the intervention of God for their immediate deliverance, as far as he himself is concerned, in verse 17, the Lord shall bring upon thee and upon thy people, upon thy father's house, days that have not come from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah, even, would he pause, even the king of Assyria, the very person that Ahaz in his heart of hearts has been reliant upon, because he was refusing to commit himself to trust in the Lord. Now it'll be necessary for me to explain a little about the background to these events. I would like to remind you that when the Lord Jesus Christ was speaking to Jewish disciples in Luke chapter 24, he was speaking to people who were absolutely soaked in the Old Testament history. And they knew what was the background to these events. I'm told that in the synagogues of the Jews, in the parts of the world where they're less restrained than they are in England, at the present time, when they read the book of Esther at the Feast of Purim, the whole congregation boos and shouts at the name of the man who tried to betray them. Whenever the word Haman is mentioned, they all boo and shout at the idea. They're well aware of the Old Testament story and who were the enemies of God. But we have to have it explained to us, and we have to have it reminded. Now in the world wherein these things happened, the dominant factors were the two superpowers of Egypt in the south and of Assyria away in the far northwest. Egypt is quite well known since the Exodus. They've been fairly peaceful and non-aggressive, although we do hear of them from time to time. But Assyria is a very different proposition. It's an interesting thing to see that for many, many generations of English people and others, knowing their Bibles and knowing something about the king of Assyria from them, the rest of profane history was an absolute blank to these people until the middle of the last century when their palaces and their cities were opened up by the excavators. And in most cases where they did cover the same grounds, their inscriptions on the walls of their palaces related to the same things, the same events, the same people, the same names of the Jewish kings, as are told us in our Bibles. And although Assyria is far away to the northeast, it was in fact the higher part of the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates, called Mesopotamia later. The higher part towards the sources of the rivers was Assyria, and the lower part down to the sea was called Babylonia. But of recent years, this great power Assyria has been stirring. King Uzziah died in 740 BC, and about 120 years before that, an Assyrian campaign appears in the inscriptions which began a sustained pressure against the west, and this was bound in the end to bring Assyria into conflict with Israel and Judah. The first Assyrian king to be mentioned in the Bible is called by two names, Paul and Tiglath-Pileser, and he first appears in 2 Kings chapter 15 and 19. But after that, chapters 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 of 2 Kings, then they're full of the king of Assyria. They're as full of the king of Assyria as the prophet Isaiah is, and page after page and page after page of Isaiah, the king of Assyria, occupies the greatest possible name. During the period that followed the death of Uzziah, and to the death of Sennacherib, of which we read in chapter 37, of course the Assyrian kings changed. Shalmaneser there was, and then Sargon, and then Sennacherib after Tiglath-Pileser died. And they had sacked many famous cities, including Babylon. And the great trouble was, of course, that if these two great powers, Assyria and Egypt, came to blows with each other, then they must reach each other by way of that narrow coastal strip which contained Judah and Israel. Now, a sidelight, of course, upon these considerations, which, while not entirely found in the scriptures, is absolutely at one with some, is the terrifying ferocity of the Assyrian army. In the Bible we read that they depopulated whole countries completely. And it was as part of their stated policy. The Rabshaker sent by Sennacherib said, Just you stay at peace until my lord and master sends and carries you away to a wonderful land that will be your own. They depopulated whole countries as part of their policy of conquest. But the inscriptions which reveal what would be known of them in the ancient world tell an additional story. I've myself seen in the British Museum and in pictures, pictures of the Assyrian army with their captives on the floor and their spears and having their foot upon the prisoner and simply poking out his eyes with the spears like this and going from man to man with their spears, putting their eyes out one by one. There was never until our own days such horrible ferocity as was shown by the Assyrian armies. And we can see what a terrifying prospect it was that they should have had the shadow of the king of Assyria over them all the time. Now it was in 734 BC, we read about it in 2 Kings chapter 16 verses 5 and 6. We read that Syria and Ephraim, that is the two little states immediately to the north of Judah, they formed a treaty, a confederacy in order to attack Judah. You know of course that Judah and Israel or Ephraim were once a united kingdom. But under Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, they broke away from each other and they were often at enmity with each other. And here Ephraim was confederate with Syria in order to attack Judah and Ahaz. And we read in 2 Kings what we don't read in Isaiah, that Ahaz had actually called for help to the king of Assyria. So far as size is concerned, it was something like Luxembourg calling in Russia to protect them against a combination of Holland and Belgium. Something very like that it was. And behind this story that we've read is the fact that Ahaz, who was of the house of David and was one of the line of David to whom the promises of God had been made, he had utterly refused to trust in the Lord. He had brought heathen idols found with the king of Assyria into the temple of the Lord. And refusing to commit himself to trust in the Lord, which Isaiah gave for his message day by day, he had actually called in the king of Assyria. And the chastisement that was to come was described like the waters of the river. We'll come to this in chapter 8. The Lord will bring upon you the waters of the river strong and mighty, the king of Assyria. And in chapter 28, like an overflowing scourge, the king of Assyria would come down upon them. This was what God was speaking about. Now Egypt, all this time, appears shadowly in the background as a possible ally, especially in the later parts of this part of Assyria, appears as a possible ally of Judah against the Assyrians. They brought in the Assyrians as an ally against Ephraim of Syria, and then they were constrained to call in Egypt as an ally. Now I'm going to turn aside at this point and ask you if you remember, because the two things are very closely interrelated, and one of them will cast light upon the other, and that is that in what we read about the last days, the end of the age, in Daniel chapter 11, we find at the end of the age that Israel would be attacked by the king of the north, or Assyria, in its part Syria. And the king of the north would sweep through them with a terrific invasion right down to the south against Egypt. Secondly, we learn that Judah, the Jews, would be relying in that day upon a treaty with a foreign power to protect them. And we also learn that although the mass of the people were committed to this alliance and refused to trust themselves to the Lord, there were a small number who had committed themselves to the Lord and who were trusting in him. And we shall find a great deal of light both cast upon the rest of prophecy about the end of the age and also upon the meaning of the book of Isaiah by the very obvious connection between Israel, Judah, attacked from the north by a terrific invasion and concerned also with the south and Egypt and whether they should rely upon another power, Egypt, to help them. In the later part, in chapter 10, in fact, of Isaiah, it says, When the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion, I will punish the stout heart of the king of Assyria. Has the Lord yet performed his whole work upon Mount Zion? No, he hasn't. Therefore, when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion, when the whole story is told, then the Lord will punish the stout heart of the king of Assyria. That means that the king of Assyria is an important element in the set up of the revolt against God of the last days. And this is another reason why these matters are of such interest to us. William Kelly has said that the Assyrian affects the same objects and in the same places as the king of the north. And he finds it always, therefore, perfectly acceptable and helpful to identify the two together. The Assyrian in the last days, who appears so plainly in this book, is the same personage in the same lands as the king of the north or the prophet Isaiah. And they will all be dealt with by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ when he comes again. Now, I must pass over the earlier passages about which I might have spoken a little and come in this chapter 7 that we read back just for a few minutes to it. If we look down the verses, we find that we have a reference to the fact that for which I refer to 2 Kings chapter 16 that Israel and Syria were confederate against Judah. Now, I want you to think of this passage as we go down it under the first 17 verses as it stands. Without bringing in the light cast by the New Testament, without bringing in the distant future at all, but we'll see how it's an epic of faith on the part of Isaiah against the most terrific odds which in the end are completely vindicated and they encourage us in the presence of whatever may be the difficulties that come upon us to put our trust in the Lord and his word and in the meantime to possess our souls in peace and in patience. We shall find that this is a lesson, a wonderful lesson even if the other more important meanings were not available to us. There was this confederacy in the first verse and someone told Ahaz, the house of David, that they were actually coming. It says, the heart of his people was moved as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. That's a very wonderful picture. If you look down from a distant place upon a wood you can see the wind sweeping over it and every tree bows its head as the wind passes by. The trees of the wood are moved by the wind. So were the hearts of Ahaz and his people with terror at the idea that these kings were confederate against them. Then the Lord, who has in the previous chapter identified and cleansed and commissioned his servant If you want to be the means of revival in the things of God then it's Isaiah 6 you must take your beginning to find yourself in the presence of the Lord confessing your sin and then being cleansed and commissioned by him to be in the way that we can be his sent one and then immediately the Lord has a work for Isaiah to do. He says to Isaiah, go forth now to meet Ahaz. Thou and Sha'ar Jashub thy son. Now that name, the names of Isaiah's children are very important as it tells us in Hebrews 2 quoting from these chapters. It says, I and the children that God has given me. Mershal al-Hashbaz in the next chapter and Sha'ar Jashub are very important names. And this one means a remnant shall return. It's almost the root of all that we read in Holy Scripture but the remnant of the Jews who shall return. God sends him to meet Ahaz at the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fullest field. This turns out to be exactly the same place that Rapshaker came and took his stand in chapter 36. Those who saw both events would certainly connect them together. And Isaiah said to him, take care, be careful, and be quiet. For he said, their confederate against you and their settlers go up against Judah. But in verse 7 Isaiah continues, thus saith the Lord God, it shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. And looking perhaps at the incredulity he sees in the face of Ahaz, but if you don't believe, if you don't have faith, then you shall not be established. And so because of this reluctance of Ahaz the Lord, presumably by Isaiah, in verse 10 and 11 offers a sign. Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God. There was no limit in its height or its depth, in heaven or on earth. He could ask a sign of the Lord his God. And Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. In other words, he will not commit himself to faith in God. And so Isaiah says, behold, a virgin shall conceive and shall bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel. And in verse 16, before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that thou abhor'st shall be forsaken of both her kings. Now that before makes it absolutely inescapable that there was to be a birth there and then, which was to be the sign. That child was to be the sign to Ahaz. Before that child would know to refuse the evil and choose the good, then Syria and Ephraim would be forsaken and abandoned. But the very one upon whom you have trusted, God will bring him against you. But just as certain as in this passage taken alone, the child and the son to be born were a sign there at that moment, by which they could be certain that the Lord would deliver Judah and Jerusalem. So we are assured in the 23rd verse of Matthew chapter 1, so very well known to us, that Joseph is informed that the child promised to him was promised in fulfillment of these very words that we know so well, a virgin shall conceive and shall bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel. Now, just in closing, it's a very important thing that at the very forefront of the whole New Testament story and uniquely amongst Old Testament prophecies, in the forefront so far as the prophet Isaiah is concerned, we have this emphasis upon the promise of the miraculous birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I'm sure that many Christians at times and young Christians very frequently ask themselves why it is so important that we should believe in the miraculous birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. I've said already that what I've called the twin pillars in the Temple of Revelation are here, the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and his perfect manhood. But what introduces them, what brings them in, what makes such a truth possible is the miraculous birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, a virgin shall conceive and shall bear a son and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel. If we were to think of other Old Testament prophecies, then the coming savior must be of the woman's seed, Genesis chapter 3. The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head and it shall bruise his heel. The seed of the woman must be the coming deliverer or messiah. The person born must be the son of God. It must be an incarnation of the eternal God himself. About this very event, a contemporary prophet Micah says about Bethlehem Ephrata, out of thee shall he come forth unto me whose goings forth are from everlasting. He must be God. He must be the son of God. And also we understand from the types of the Passover and from the types of so many sacrifices in the Old Testament story that the savior must be without taint of sin. There's only one way in which requirements like these could be met. It must be by that miraculous birth of the Lord Jesus Christ which permitted him to be the seed of the woman. The virgin Mary was his mother. But he must also be the son of God. Even Mary couldn't understand this but in the wonderful words of the angel to her, the Holy Ghost, the power of the highest shall overshadow thee. Therefore that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the son of God. God was the originator of that life and only thus could the one who was born and bore the name Jesus the savior and Emmanuel God with us only thus could he truly be the son of God. And also if he was to be a sinless savior and yet a man in every real sense of the term then this could only be brought about by his miraculous birth of the virgin. Well might we say all the depths, using the words that the apostle Paul used in another connection but they're very fitting in this connection all the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God how unsearchable is his wisdom and his ways past finding out to him glory and majesty forever and ever. Well for us the one who actually bore the name of Jesus when he was here amongst men his name is Emmanuel and we indeed pray that as we reflect upon the wonder of his miraculous birth which contained the bud of all that afterwards should come that he became in his life the son of God and in his death a sinless sacrifice all to be developed on these pages of Isaiah then we desire as I've said already we desire that at the word coming to us from the page of holy scripture about himself that our hearts should be caused both now and afterwards to burn within us and that that burning heart may lead to the kind of action which is glorifying to the name of him who is called Emmanuel, God with us. …
… Isaiah chapter 9, verse 1. Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. They that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy. They joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and the garments rolled in blood. But this shall be with burning, and fuel of fire. 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, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. Upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment, and with justice from henceforth even forever. The seal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. In my bookshelves at home there stands a small paperback, which in looking for other books I often come across, and take down, and dip into it, and it's always with profit. It's an account of the life of John Wesley, and I expect you know that amongst other places he came to, was very frequently Newcastle, and very frequently Stockton. When I think of my urbane and gentle-mannered friends in Newcastle upon Tyne, I often smile when I think of his description. He came and he says, I addressed a large crowd of the rude, staring blasphemers of Newcastle. And whether that takes the prize over the fact that when he came to Stockton once he said, I addressed a rude and barbarous multitude on the north side of the town's house. Well this book has, it's what really pleases me about it, is its title, and its title page. It's a picture of John Wesley on horseback, very cleverly superimposed upon a map of the roads of Britain. But the title is Knight, K-N-I-G-H-T, Knight of the Burning Heart. And that word knight is intended to make one think of high endeavor. When they made the knights in medieval times, at a certain stage in the proceedings, someone said to the knight in antique French, Fais ce que doit, c'est demander au chevalier. Do your duty, it is expected of a knight. Now John Wesley's life was a life under God of high endeavor. For many, many long years in proclaiming the word of God and the gospel. And that title is intended to remind us, and it does remind me every time I see it, to ask the question, from whence came the energy for such a life of high endeavor, pursuing such an enterprise as the kingdom of God, so selflessly as he did, over his life of something like 88 years to the very end. And the implication is there, that he found the energy for such a life in the service of the master in a burning heart. Now when we began yesterday evening, we tried to make it clear to each other, that our aim, as we read this week in the prophet Isaiah, our aim is to see ourselves in the position of those two disciples, who with flagging feet dragged their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus until the Lord Jesus came, the heavenly stranger, and spoke to them. And when afterwards in the house, when he broke the bread and gave it to them, and then on an instant they recognized him, and in front of their eyes he vanished out of their sight. They looked at each other and they said, didn't you notice that while he talked with us, our stony hearts began to go and our hearts burned within us, as he spoke with us by the way. And in the strength and energy of that burning heart, not only did they flood the seven miles back to Jerusalem with a new spirit, but they then came to meet with the brethren and the Lord. And soon afterwards their feet were swift and beautiful upon the mountains to bring the gospel of peace. And we prayed, declaring our aim this evening, that the Lord may speak to us and make our hearts burn within us, as in the pages of the prophet Isaiah, he speaks to us of all the things concerning himself, that he may give us the burning heart. And in the energy of that burning heart, all the flagging footsteps due to disillusionment and other sorrows may vanish away. And by the energy and power of that burning heart, we may not only know the Lord in the way, all the disappointments of our daily lives, and perhaps of our service too, but we might know the Lord in the midst, and we might follow out there upon the mountains with the gospel of peace. The burning heart is what we're aiming for this week, and nothing less. The burning heart, which is the response to the words of the Lord himself. Now, our particular subject this evening is, as David reminded us, is centered on the sixth verse of chapter nine. There, undoubtedly, we have a most heart-moving presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ. His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Now, since the three later members of this series, these names, are represented by pairs of words, I would like to suggest to you that we take this evening the first one also as a pair of words, meaning one title. Wonderful Counselor is the first name by which he shall be called. Wonderful Counselor. Second, the mighty God. Third, the everlasting Father. And fourth, the Prince of Peace. It's of great interest to you and me to know that this world will enjoy a golden age under the reign of the Prince of Peace. That peace will be founded upon what the world has never known before, judgment and justice. But we are still more interested in the fact that the one who sits upon the throne in that day is none other than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And it is in the representation of the character which fits him for the throne, for the diadems of character and worthiness that sit upon his head that make him fit to rule over all things in heaven as well as in earth. That we, the Christian heart, we find great interest and food for our hearts and our spirits in this picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. When the government shall be upon his shoulder and the increase of the increase of his government and peace, there shall be no end. When there shall be peace through judgment and justice and at the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Now, before we come to speak in detail of this and other heartwarming themes that are presented to us here, I want to return for a few moments to the theme of the background in history, largely Bible history, which is necessary to have in our minds to understand this passage aright. Because I would have failed in my purpose if we went away from this series of meetings or this meeting with still only a few texts out of the book of Isaiah as our knowledge of that book. It is our purpose, it is the purpose that we have before us, first of all to open up the book itself and secondly to seek to know more of Christ from its pages. Now it's necessary for us to understand the background and of course we have to remember always that these disciples to whom the Lord Jesus Christ spoke in all the scriptures of the things concerning himself, when he came to Isaiah, they didn't need to have the background explained to them. They were absolutely soaked in the history of their people. They knew it and it was all part of that instant understanding of what he said to them, that they could see this book in its setting in the history of their people. Now I'd like perhaps to make the matter a little simpler as well as a little shorter than I tried to make it last night. The world of Isaiah and his people, Judah and Jerusalem, in the seventh century before Christ, or the eighth century before Christ, was dominated by two superpowers, Egypt in the south and Assyria in the north. Since before very long we shall find that this book is transporting us into the last days, it's very interesting to us to find that this is exactly the same picture as presented by Daniel and his kings of the north and the south attacking the Holy Land, Palestine. In Daniel 9 we have a sweeping invasion from the north and we shall see that in Isaiah we have one of the most interesting and complete pictures of that sweeping invasion from the north and it's a very important part of Isaiah's story that it is so. Now if we turn over, please, to the second book of Kings, chapter 16, then I shall be able, I hope, to point out to you three critical points in the relations between Assyria and the little state of Judah in which Isaiah was prophesying. Because you only have to read the first 39 chapters of Isaiah to see that the Assyrian is a character who appears so many times that it's obviously quite impossible to understand the book unless we have some understanding of what was the relations over this period, what were the relations over this period between the Assyrian power and this little state of Judah and its neighboring states of Ephraim and Syria. First of all, then, in chapter 16, verse 5, we read of the first climax to these relations and that is that Syria and Ephraim made a confederacy against Judah. Then Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, son of Ramaliah, king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to war and there besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. Verse 7, So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pelaza, king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son. Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me. And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasure of the king's house and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria. Could you imagine such a lamentable state of affairs that the member, the king, of the house of David should so far forget himself as to take alliance and take up the idolatry, indeed, of a heathen king instead of trusting in the Lord. Secondly, the second great climax came twelve years later and we'll read about that in the next chapter, 17, verse 6. In the ninth year of Hosea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away into Assyria and placed them in Hala and in Hebo by the river of Gozan in the cities of the Medes. And then there's a long description of the fact that this came about because they had forsaken the Lord their God and had worshipped idols. So that the second great climax in the story of the relations between these powers was the deportation of the total population of the sister kingdom of Israel twelve years after this alliance between Syria and Ephraim. And finally, thirty-six years later, we read, I won't read it all because it's a very long story, it occupies the 18th and 19th chapters of 2 Kings, but it is told almost word for word in chapters 36 and 37 of our prophet. It's the story of how Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, swept through the northern lands and on into Judah and came right up to the point when all the cities of Judah were invested and only Jerusalem was left alone and besieged by that power. The Lord granted a deliverance but that's part of the story that's to come. Now, when we were reading yesterday chapter 7, chapter 7 was centered on the first of these events. The confederacy against Ahaz and it was in connection with that that Isaiah told Ahaz by special message from the Lord, now be careful but be quiet and trust yourself to the Lord. And it was in connection with this that he gave him a sign that the virgin would conceive and bear a son and his name would be called Emmanuel. Obviously, since it says before the child should know to choose the good and the bad, it was to be fulfilled there and then. There was a sign there visible, a child to be born and its birth would mark a date and from that time, after a certain passage of time, then her enemies would be destroyed. But, we have also the clear and ever-shining testimony of Matthew 1, verse 23 that that was intended to be and is indeed a prophecy of the miraculous birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and his name is called Emmanuel. This we meditated upon yesterday. Now, the deportation, the driving off into the darkness of the distant lands is really dealt with in chapter 8 that we are coming to this evening. And finally, the great sweeping into Judah by the Assyrian king, Sennacherib and how God, in connection with the words, the prophecy of Isaiah to his people all the time, delivered his people and that's the story of the 36th and 37th chapters and the other chapters lead up to it. And, of course, the great thread that connects them all together is that when everyone else was overcome with alarm at these terrible threats, Isaiah was quietly saying, Trust in the Lord. The Lord will deliver you. The Lord is even willing to give you signs that he will deliver you. Trust in the Lord. Trust in the Lord only. Depend not upon the arm of flesh. It will fail you. That's a later part of the story. Isaiah's faith was abundantly vindicated. Now then, it will be necessary for me to ask you to gird up the loins of your minds again and open your Bibles and look at the passages and turn over the pages because I'm going to attempt to survey chapters 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 rapidly as possible and briefly, but please attempt to follow in your Bibles looking at the verses and turning over the pages because I have to rely upon these few minutes given to this purpose to give you a view of the book in general and not only the few verses that you know so well. We did this yesterday for chapters 1 to 7 and we're going to try to do this today for chapters 8 to 12 just as briefly as we possibly can. Now chapter 8 to the 7th verse of chapter 9 where we finished our reading today it completes a larger section which includes the story of Isaiah's commissioning from the presence of the Lord in chapter 6 and the story of Ahab's confrontation by Isaiah in chapter 7 and we shall see afterwards how very clearly these passages stand together. Now most of our section this evening concerns, although it's addressed to Judah and Jerusalem, it concerns the northern, the sister kingdom also part of the people of God of Israel or Ephraim which constituted the ten tribes. Now if we look at the first four verses of chapter 8 we find that Isaiah once again intervenes remember this is probably sometime subsequent to chapter 7 he intervenes in a very striking way, he takes a huge placard writes upon it a name and takes two important men for witnesses and the name written upon it is Mir Shalal Hashbaz and when shortly afterwards his wife gives birth to a son that child is given the name Mir Shalal Hashbaz and the name and the child are also a sign to the people that they are going to be the spoil and the prey once again for the foreign invader. Before the child verse 4 shall acknowledge to cry my father and my mother you see how very much like that is chapter 7, before the child shall know how to distinguish the good and evil it said there, that was the first child Shaar Yashub this second child with this strange name, it says before he shall acknowledge to cry my father and my mother the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria and then in verse 5 to 8 there is a section to which I hope to come back because it does contain a very lovely passage with a very charming message for us it says for as much as this people refuses the waters of Shiloah that go softly and rejoice in Rezin and Ramaliah's son now therefore behold the Lord shall bring upon them the waters of the river, the king of Assyria because they refused the message of Isaiah, because they refused to trust in the Lord the Lord will bring judgment upon them and that judgment will be in the form of a terrible invasion flowing over the invasion by the king of Assyria if we look at verse 9 we find that Isaiah so to speak with the way the prophets had is turning to address distant nations and in the middle of the verse far countries and he's warning them that no plots they make no combinations of powers, no confederacies can possibly stand against the counsel of the Lord and it cannot come to pass regarding Judah why? because Immanuel God is with us and that gives us another idea why the word Immanuel was so distinct a sign to them at that particular time and then in verse 11 he down to verse 15 he says that the Lord has spoken to him particularly and specially and has instructed him that he should keep himself clear from the currents of opinion that are going about him and he should sanctify the Lord of hosts himself and let him be his fear because on the one hand the Lord of hosts will be a sanctuary and a protection for those who trust in him but for those who refuse to trust in him he will be a stumbling block and a rock of offense and then in verse 8-16 we find that Isaiah so to speak has finished his open testimony with these signs confronting the people and his retiring retiring within his own circle of his children and his disciples he's band up the law on the testimony and he's waiting upon the Lord that had at his face on the house of Jacob and then we find in verse 19 that he's issuing a warning against the people who since they were afraid of the Caesarean terror and it was a terror they were going in for spiritism and occult practices and it is a people should seek the Lord and not seek to know the dead for the living a people should seek the Lord and then at the last verse is the description of what will happen to these people they shall pass through it, that's the land hardly be stead and hungry and it shall come to pass that when they shall be hungry they shall fret themselves and curse their king and their God and look upward and the last words they shall be driven off into darkness now that is their fulfillment that is the description beforehand of the way the Assyrians deported Sargon king of Assyria deported the whole population of Israel and took them away and this should have been a warning to his people now in chapter 9 we obviously take several enormous leaps forward those of us who are accustomed to reading Bible prophecy will be well aware by this time that we must be ready for these enormous leaps forward he said these people in Zabulon and Naphtali the land of Israel they were driven off into darkness but it won't always be darkness for the people in Galilee of the Gentiles by the way of the sea they that sit in darkness shall see a great light and we know from Matthew chapter 4 that this is directly a prophecy of the fact it is amongst these people that the Lord Jesus Christ a great light should appear and then another tremendous leap forward and we find that that child born and that son given will be the universal king in the verses we read and to us a child is born a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder now once again we come back to read a little more about that later now from the 8th verse of chapter 9 down to the 4th verse of chapter 10 we have a very striking series of brief striking paragraphs each one of them ending with the refrain the anger of the Lord is kindled against his people and his hand is stretched out against them still in other words in spite of all these afflictions that have fallen upon his people that were going to fall upon his people the Lord was still with them now in order to connect with the part we spoke of last night and in order to represent to those who weren't here last night what this means after Isaiah in chapter 5 has explained to the people that the Lord was looking for fruit the heart of the Lord looking for fruit as it is looking for fruit today the heart of God is still looking for fruit from his people because they brought forth wild fruit because they didn't cleave to him and because they displeased him in their hearts verse 25 of chapter 5 therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people and he has stretched forth his hand against them and has smitten them and at the end of the verse for all this his anger is not turned away but his hand is stretched out still now we have this long parenthesis leading up to the 7th verse of chapter 9 and then from the 8th verse of chapter 9 we go on look at verse 12 although they had the Syrians before and the Philistines behind all kind of inflictions from the Lord for all this his anger is not turned away but his hand is stretched out still we come to verse 17 although other kinds of troubles ancient and honorable and the prophet they taught lies yet it says in verse 17 the end for all this his anger is not turned away but his hand is stretched out still verses 18 to 21 it says there is enmity between Manasseh and Ephraim and at the end of verse 21 for all this his anger is not turned away but his hand is stretched out still and so the last of these paragraphs ends in verse 4 of chapter 10 for all this his anger is not turned away but his hand is stretched out still do please keep this refrain in mind because the end of our section this evening is very lovely indeed about this again and again and again this reiterated statement coming from the heart of the Lord so deeply grieved by his people his hand is stretched out against them still the anger of the Lord is kindled against his people and that's the cause of all these afflictions because they have grieved him by forsaking him now in the fifth verse of chapter 10 we have an entirely new oracle or prophecy and that is that the prophet turns aside to tell them all about the Assyrian we might say well how is it that the Lord could use such a power as this how is it that such cruelty such ferocious cruelty as they showed towards the people they conquered could be under God well it's all explained when in verse 5 the prophet says O Assyrian the rod of mine anger and the staff of mine indignation now the Lord says about him presumably by Isaiah I sent him to chastise them I sent him I gave him a charge the middle of verse 6 to take the spoil and take the prey in verse 7 how be it he meaneth not so neither doth his heart think so but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few in other words whereas the Lord intended him to chastise his people it was in his heart to destroy and therefore the Lord takes up the fact that he had also done despite to the God of Israel by assuming that he was the same of the gods and the idols of the other kingdoms whom he had destroyed and then in verse 12 the most important verse wherefore it shall come to pass that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion and on Jerusalem now did that take place in the time of Isaiah indeed it didn't did it take place in the time of the gospel story indeed it didn't it hasn't taken place yet the Lord has not yet performed his whole work upon Mount Zion but when he has performed his whole work upon Mount Zion he says I will punish the stout heart of the king of Assyria and the glory of his high lukes so that we are told that the very important way in which the Assyrian is yet to come under the hand of God in punishment for his cruelty and ferocity and his blasphemous impiety in what he said about the Lord and so the king of the north or Assyria they are amongst those who in the last days are going to have to come under the hand of the judgment of God and the rest is largely concerned with the kind of boast that the king of Assyria made a very striking one in verse 14 it says he went and gathered eggs like a schoolboy truant I went and gathered eggs and not a bird dead chirp when I put my hand there he said not a bird dead open its mouth or peeped and so this is a is a statement that this is going to come to pass in verse 20 then the prophet once again speaks about his earthly people it shall come to pass in that day when the Lord takes up his controversy with the king of the north and there shall be a remnant such as escaped from the house of Jacob and there shall no more again stay themselves upon him that smote them because they did rely in the first place upon the Assyrian but they shall stay upon the Lord the Holy One of Israel and that remnant is the remnant referred to in the name of Isaiah's first child Shaar Shashu it will be a remnant of those who listen to Isaiah it will be a remnant in the days of Hezekiah when Hezekiah himself was one in spite of all the evil around him feared the Lord but above all as we know well from other passages in the crises of the future there will be a people, a Jewish people small in number yet their hearts are given to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and they will be the remnant of the future and the means of salvation to others therefore they are warned those who will be the remnant and listen to his voice not to be afraid of the Assyrian now if we turn over to verse 28 you have something very striking they can no doubt at all that our mind first of all runs to the invasion we read of in chapter 36 in the time of Hezekiah it is a series of newspaper headlines or else a broadcast summary moment by moment a running comment upon this terrific invasion flowing down from the north upon Jerusalem you see how it reads exactly like the punctuations of newspaper headlines he has come to Ayas, he has passed to Migron, he has laid up his carriages, they have gone over the passage, they have taken up their lodging at Geba and so on right down verse 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 behold the Lord of hosts shall lop the bow with terror and at the moment when he shakes his hand against Jerusalem then the stroke of the Lord will fall upon him not the hand of man and he shall be destroyed now since you go on immediately to the messianic kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ in chapter 11 it's quite plain that this staccato rapid comment upon the progress of that invasion rarely refers to the Assyrian invasion or the invasion by the king of the north in the last days and so we come in chapter 11 to the fact that a rod out of the stem of Jesse and a branch out of his roots shall reign you couldn't really have a more direct reference to the miraculous virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ you see, the life that he lived it stemmed back further than the throne of David it stemmed back further than that it was a stem right out of the roots of God's promise and upon him the spirit of the Lord would rest and he would judge the world in righteousness and then we are told as the second part of that account of the kingdom from verse 10 that the Lord all his people this is to me one of the mysteries of prophecy but it's very plain here it isn't only the Jews, it isn't only Judah and the remnant, but it's all the house of Israel will be gathered together and we are told that they will no longer be at enmity with each other. The envy, verse 13 the envy also of Ephraim shall depart and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off Ephraim shall not envy Judah and Judah shall not vex Ephraim therefore in that time of the future kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ then the ten tribes as well as the Jews will be restored to rejoice under the reign of the Prince of Peace now the last chapter that we are considering is chapter 12 now you'll forgive me for having stressed so many times, the anger of the Lord is kindled against his people and his hand is stretched out still because of their awful iniquity in forsaking him and in going in for idolatry and refusing the pleadings of his prophets to rely upon him for their salvation well, when that kingdom comes it will all be past and in the beginning of chapter 12 we have the song of salvation thou wast angry with me thine anger is turned away and thou comfortest me this is a song of salvation for the redeemed of the Lord back in his land under his king but it's a song of salvation for all those whose trust is in God through the Lord Jesus Christ we can say God was wroth with us but his anger is turned away and he comforts us and we can say I will trust and not be afraid for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song and he also has become my salvation therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation I've seen most of you at any rate striving very hard to follow that analysis and if you have done so I'm sure you'll take away an impression of something that lies behind the odd verses that we've known up to now and there lies behind it brooding over it all the great desire of God in all ages the desire of God that cannot and will not be turned aside to have fruit for his own heart from his people fruit really, fruit of character if we were to take the one thing that's referred to again and again in the social life of his earthly people they did not judge they did not give their rights and their true compassion to the fatherless and the widow and we are brought right back to that in the New Testament it is this compassion of the heart of God that we should show to each other as brethren and in the like sense the children of God we should show this same compassion that God has ever required to see in his people this is true religion and defiled to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world I know the fruit of the spirit in the New Testament to which we ought to come if we wanted to go into the matter for it is very much wider than this but oh how much we do despite to the compassionate heart of our father if we forget that amongst the saints there should be seen this mutual care, the one for the other the heart of God in all testament days longed for it and he has now said he has taken the kingdom away from them and given that kingdom into a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof it is because God has started anew but this time put his very spirit within us so that walking in that spirit we may bring forth the fruits of the spirit and so God can have ascending to his heart the fragrance of Christ produced in the character of Christ seen in his people the fruit that he desired now let us go back I'm assuming that I'm permitted to close the meeting about quarter to nine I want to go back to speak more particularly about one or two highlights and first we have this passage in chapter 8 verse 5 the Lord spake also unto me again saying for as much as this people refuses the waters of Shiloh but go softly now notice in this passage a very distinct mark of the prophet the use he makes in his poetry of the various images of running water this is one of the things that makes the reading rather strange to us because it's poetry and that means there's a kind of magic in the words themselves there's a kind of loveliness and beauty that the spirit of God has put into the words themselves and in Isaiah's poetry he makes a great deal of use of the various aspects of running water first of all there's the waters of Shiloh that flow softly the very wonderful representation of the gentleness of the grace and kindness of God pleading with those who've turned away from him and forsaken with him it's the waters of Shiloh now in the direct meaning of this passage this is quite plainly Isaiah Shiloh means sent and Isaiah in chapter 6 has said in answer to the Lord whom shall I send the Lord will go for us Isaiah has said here am I send me and when God wants to put things right and put a new life into his people he wants to begin with an individual it might be you it might be me God can deal with all of us but God deals with individuals and like Isaiah there must be conviction and confession and cleansing and then there can be the commission and he had sent Isaiah the first meaning of this that they refused the waters of Shiloh that flow softly it was Isaiah the storm might be roaring all around and there might be panic stations everywhere and everybody charging about and getting excited but Isaiah of whom you can say that in quietness and confidence the Lord will be his strength was quietly saying to them trust in the Lord be quiet don't be afraid of these smoking firebrands these tales of a worn out stick burning don't be afraid of them be quiet and trust in the Lord but they refused and because they refused the waters of Shiloh flowing softly then the terrible waters of judgment like a tremendous overflowing river charging down upon them would come because this people refuses the waters of Shiloh that go softly and rejoice in Rezin and Ramaliah's song now therefore behold the Lord bringeth upon them the waters of the river strong and mighty even the king of Assyria isn't that you know taken in its general principle isn't that a lovely picture of the grace of God in long suffering mercy holding out his hand when you preach the gospel when you accepted the gospel what was it but it was the waters of Shiloh the gently flowing stream and the words and the persuasion of the lovely grace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ it was the waters of Shiloh that flowed gently when we see the love of the compassion of God in the Lord Jesus Christ when we know it still because Jesus is seeking the wonder as yet it's the softly flowing grace of God in the waters of Shiloh but if the waters of Shiloh are effused than the terrible overflowing stream destroying all of the wrath of God must be looked forward to by those who refuse the waters of Shiloh that flow gently oh how this might animate our tone and our attitude in the presentation of the gospel that what God is doing now is a facet of this that the waters of the sent one are flowing softly and gently with accents of love and grace seeking to rescue men and women from the wrath to come and bring them to himself in chapter 9 I won't say any more about the the people in darkness saw a great light because I want to concentrate just for a few minutes upon this verse chapter 6 where we read these names of the prince, perhaps we might call him the prince of four names wonderful counselor the mighty God the everlasting father, the prince of peace and I'm sure what interests you and me in this is that these names portray a character these names portray the fitness of our beloved saviour to have the government upon his shoulder he is our lord and they portray his wonderful fitness that our lives should be committed to him he's worthy to rule them he's worthy of every diadem that sits upon his brow wonderful counselor now perhaps the most striking indication of what the word wonderful means in this connection we bandy it about and I'm as bad as anybody else just as though we didn't know any other word than wonderful but it has a very special definite meaning especially in the Old Testament language and there isn't a place which more decidedly shows what that meaning is than the story in Judges chapter 13 of the parents of Samson Manoah and his wife his wife received a visitation from an angel and we read in the 13th chapter of Judges how that particular episode ended when Manoah himself was brought to meet this representation of the lord verse 9 of Judges chapter 13 God hearkened to the voice of Manoah and the angel of the lord came again unto the woman as she sat in the field but Manoah her husband was not with her so she went to call him verse 11 Manoah arose and said unto the man Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman and he said I am and then they asked about ordering the child and how his he should be brought up and in the end Manoah wanting to be recognizant of the blessing that had come to them Manoah verse 17 said unto the angel what is thy name that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour and the angel of the lord said unto him why askest thou thus after my name seeing it is wonderful so Manoah took a kid with a meat offering and offered it upon a rock unto the lord and the angel did wondrously that's the same word secret wonderful the angel did wondrously for it came to pass when the flame went up towards heaven from off the altar the angel of the lord ascended in the flame of the altar and Manoah and his wife looked on and fell on their faces to the ground in other words the word wonderful and this can be supported in the widest sense by studying other uses in the old testament it means something so remarkable as to be outside the possibility of man to do it at all it's wonderful in the sense that and marvelous in the sense that it's something beyond the scope of man it's something that can only be done by God and the first name of our savior as the king is that he is wonderful counselor now I love to compare all these wonderful statements I love to compare them with the gospel of Matthew which as we know is the gospel of the king and I suggest to you that we have wonderful counselor in the so called sermon on the mount here is counsel applied to human life and for the formation of a human society such as if it existed everyone would want to live in such a society it's totally different from the society we know it has been said that a society is revealed in its true qualities by its heroes what will future ages say of a society like ours which worships the idols of entertainment and sport in the manner that it does it shows what kind of society it is that it heaps upon them all its honors we don't covet these honors but it reveals the society now the lord Jesus Christ says blessed are the poor these are the really happy men the poor in spirit the mourners those that hunger and thirst after righteousness these are the ones who are the happy characters why because they will be fulfilled by the lord and they will have their reward in that kingdom and so without going into detail we know that the wonderful counsel of the lord Jesus Christ applying to rule and that applies to rule over us as well as what will be manifested in the world to come for he is our lord and it manifests himself as the wonderful counselor there are many rights that men have to rule there is the right of birth there is the right of conquest there is the right of wisdom the right men even approximately the right men don't always get their rights but these rights exist in theory and every right to rule sits upon the lord Jesus Christ every diadem of royal splendor rightly sits upon him and him alone he is wonderful counselor now the next pair which make up the name is the mighty god now I tried to dwell a little yesterday upon the way the deity the perfect splendid pure deity that rests upon that is the lord Jesus Christ he possesses it it shines out absolutely clearly in these pages of Isaiah Emmanuel means god with us in that child born of the virgin it says here that he is the mighty god it means the god of mighty acts and many of you have heard the fact that I have been meditating a great deal lately upon the later chapters in Matthew especially chapters 8 and 9 the real falls of mankind that either very little or no progress is made in bringing them under subjection like disease and natural disasters like tidal waves and terrific storms at sea these appalling scourges of mankind under the part of which mankind can never be really happy they were instantly at the mastery of Jesus there was no long period of trial in disease of ours he was concerned there was no trial and error and going up the wrong road and then finding the new disease root stock and branch instantly yielded to him and was he not the mighty god was he not the god of mighty deeds for the deliverance of those who came into contact with him yes if mighty acts are necessary as well as wonderful counsel then that crown also sits upon the brow of our lord Jesus Christ he is the mighty god and even if for his good purposes spring his love of discipline he does not at this moment display these mighty acts upon his people here in the world yet the power is with him and in his good time it will be manifested not only upon earth here but in the saints transformed into his likeness and taken to glory but he is the mighty god and absolutely uniquely among all the kings who have ever been known the diadem of mighty acts fit for the ruler sit upon our lord Jesus Christ then it says the everlasting father now what do you think about this it seems to me it is quite hopeless to bring confusion into the trinity by making this a statement that the king is god the father it seems to me I'm humbly suggesting to you that it will be hopelessly confusing to try to make this although the translators have put and the printers have put a capital F here it would be quite wrong because it would bring confusion into the doctrine of the trinity if we made this into a statement that the one who occupies the throne is god the father I suggest that we have to take it in the in the context and in the context you see a king doesn't only want to have wisdom and counsel a king doesn't only want to have the mighty arm that can set his people free but a king needs to have a father's compassion and in superlative and inexhaustible because it's everlasting in superlative and inexhaustible degree our saviour has a father's compassion for those who are under his hand and I suggest to you that if we look again through the gospel of Matthew we'll find four or five times again he had compassion he had compassion upon the suffering he had compassion upon the multitude and when in chapter 18 he talks about the debtor who was forgiven and the other debtor refused to forgive he said you ought to have had compassion and it reminds us that we ought to show to each other the compassion that god has shown to us in forgiving us our sins and setting us free the lord Jesus Christ showed this compassion for all those who were in need of any kind and this also this great great quality of kingship that is so seldom seen in the real men of action that quality sits in superlative and inexhaustible degree upon the lord Jesus Christ he is the everlasting father and he's the prince of peace well now peace is a tremendous theme in Isaiah and it's a very wonderful thing to me to realize that god in all ages in the past and in the future god in all ages want to give his people peace and I hope we shall have opportunity of saying a lot more about this peace that is so often found in the pages of Isaiah but I just want to close with chapter 12 the song of salvation and I want you to look at verse 2 you'll think of the world shattering events that tore apart these little kingdoms that were the people of god was there not cause for them to be afraid when we think of the world shattering events that roar around us today when we think of how many of our brothers and sisters are in trouble and distress and pain and sorrow when we think of the afflictions of life that may lie ahead for us if the lord tarry is there not room for fear to creep in as a dominant crippling sensation in the heart of every believer there is indeed the person who says I'm not afraid is a person whose eyes are fast shut on life inside and around but these people when all the story is told in this song of salvation they'll say I will trust and not be afraid you can say that you can put your head upon that pillow tonight and no one who isn't in the hand of the saviour will ever be able to say it but we can say it may the lord by his spirit teach us in real truth to be able to say regarding the pathway of life be it short or long that stretches before us I will trust and not be afraid you …
… We'll read to begin a few verses in the 28th chapter, Isaiah chapter 28. Verse 2, Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which, as a tempest of hail, and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. And then, verse 14, Wherefore, hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men that rule this people which is in Jerusalem, because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement. When the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us, for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tritestone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation, he that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place, and your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand, when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. Now just let us sing a short hymn, number 368, There is no other name than thine, Jehovah Jesus, name divine, on which to rest for sins forgiven, for peace with God, for hope of heaven. There is no other name than thine, Jehovah Jesus, name divine, on which to rest for sins forgiven, for peace with God, for hope of heaven. Name above every name, thy praise shall fill your courts through endless days. Jehovah Jesus, name divine, from all salvation above, mine. A very famous preacher, not very long ago, overheard a conversation between some people leaving the meeting, and as the story retelled by him, a conversation between two broad Yorkshiremen, and one of them was overheard to say, it's no good trying to follow this chap, I give up, it's no good trying to follow any more, and the next evening the preacher confessed that he had heard this conversation, and he said, I've got a piece of advice for my Yorkshire friend, it's this, don't give up love. I have heard myself, one or two especially younger people address to me the information that, well we haven't been able to follow it all, and I have heard of some also younger people who have said, it's a bit too deep for me. Now I would like to say how our hearts are rejoiced to see younger people here with us seeking to share the things of God, and I would like to encourage you in good Yorkshire, don't give up love, however you feel about it. It is of course an open secret that I don't understand it all, lots of things are hidden from me, but one very important lesson that the Lord I think has taught me, and that is, that I try never to let what I don't know spoil what I do know. And I think that's a very important lesson to learn, I'd like to pass it on to you. You can seize by the Spirit of God some things that are said, and some things I think it will almost always be true, throughout your life some of the things will pass you by. But I remember my father used to use a parable of this kind of thing, and he used to say, if you see a good meal on the table, and there's one dish you haven't seen before and it looks a bit doubtful, you surely wouldn't be foolish enough to let that one dish spoil your enjoyment of all the others, simply because you didn't understand that one. And so we need to thank God when we can pick up here a little, and there a little. And of course it's of this very chapter that this expression comes. It doesn't come with a very attractive sound in this chapter. Nevertheless I think what does come out is, whether it's for good or for ill, this is the way of human learning. You have it in verse 10 of our chapter 28. Precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little and there a little. And in verse 13, But the word of the Lord was unto them, Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little and there a little. And if at the end of any session that you spend over the word of God in general or listening to the ministry of the word of God, it's always worth at the end trying to seize in your mind, more definitely trying to seize the things that the Lord has taught you, the positive things. It might be only here a little and there a little, but these littles, as life goes on, will make much. And this is the way that you will, like all the rest of us, learn. And we got to remember that just as we have been, all of us, seeking to pray this week for the experience of the burning heart that came to those disciples to whom the Lord spoke on the resurrection day on the way to Emmaus, it was in that very connection that in the latter part of the chapter it says, Then opened he their understanding that they might understand the scriptures. And so, being satisfied with the Lord giving us here a little and there a little, let us always join in praying that the Lord will open the eyes of our understanding, himself by his spirit, that we may understand the scriptures. Now, the section of chapters that we are particularly concerned with this evening is chapters 28 to 37. But the central thought, the central point, which has given us our title for this evening and to which I hope to return again, is this familiar verse, which is verse 16 of our chapter. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a trident stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation, he that believeth shall not make haste. Most of us know that this verse is, although there are many references to a foundation, and still more references to the Lord Jesus Christ as the stone, this exact verse is twice quoted, and in particular it is quoted in the second chapter of 1 Peter, in a passage which I hope is well known to us. But I just read what it says. We are spoken of as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word. It goes on, If so be that ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious, to whom coming as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious, ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual house and holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he that believeth in him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious. And so we learn that every one of us who has tasted that the Lord is gracious and has come to him, in doing so we have come to a foundation upon which God is erecting a house devoted to his worship. And whatever the verse may have meant in its original setting, this is the way that it's used for our good, for our blessing, by the Apostle Peter. And it goes on to point out that in one verse in Isaiah, particularly this one, it says that he is a precious stone. In another place it says he is a stone of stumbling. And the Apostle says now, to whom therefore is this preciousness? And for whom is he a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense? And it goes on to say, to you therefore that believe is the preciousness. Now that's a wonderful statement of Holy Scripture. To you and to me here this evening who believe, to us and for us is the preciousness. Let us pray that when we come back to this verse, as we find it in Isaiah chapter 28, that the Lord will grant that there may come into each one of our souls some fresh sense of the wonderful preciousness of this stone laid in Zion, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now I have just a little more to say about the background with this evening's section. We shall leave altogether the King of Assyria. We hear no more about him. But it's more than ever essential if we are to understand the oracles that form this section of the book. It's more than ever necessary that we shall understand what the background is. We have seen how there is a tiny cluster of states, notably Judah and the other ten tribes here called Ephraim and also Syria, but there are several other tiny states forming this cluster of tiny states on the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean. But their world is dominated by two superpowers to the south, Egypt, and away to the east and the north, the tremendous, ferocious, cruel, conquering power of Assyria. I pointed out, reminded you yesterday, and I'll remind you for the last time now, that the three points of climax are what is called the Syro-Ephraimitic War, which we hear in chapter 7, when Ahaz, the King of Judah, was so alarmed as to call in the King of Assyria and refuse the Lord's sign, and therefore Isaiah had to inform him that the Lord would bring the waters of the river strong and mighty, the King of Assyria. In chapter 8 we read, regarding Ephraim, that because they refused the waters of Shiloh that flowed softly and rejoiced in Rezin and Remeliah's son, therefore God would bring upon them this terrific scourge. And then we took note of the fact, and take note of the fact again tonight, that even when we come to the section we read tonight, the depopulation of Ephraim by the Assyrians was evidently still future. But 36 years after that depopulation, then another Assyrian king, Sennacherib, came with a furious onslaught against all the walled cities of Judah, and only Jerusalem was left. But in the end, in accordance with the word of Isaiah, he was turned back and there was a great deliverance. Now the interesting thing is this, for our purposes this evening, that in the intervening period between the earlier pair of events, the war with Syria and Ephraim, and the depopulation of Samaria and Ephraim, there was an absolute welter of parties forming to try to find some means of protection for Judah against the now certain invasion by the Assyrians. And the dominant party was all set to bring in the other great power, Egypt, for help. Instead of doing what Isaiah had said from the beginning, and that is going on in quietness and confidence in the Lord and realizing this would be their strength and their protection, it appears that they actually did make a treaty with Egypt for their protection against the Assyrians. Now I must do what I can again this evening to go through these chapters, asking you to gird up your minds and to look at the verses and the chapters and turn over the pages, because there's no other way of our getting an overall impression of the contents of this book than this way. Now there of course is quite a big gap in chapters between chapter 12, The Song of Salvation, which we had last evening, and chapter 28, where we've begun this evening. Now at various periods in the intervening years, because in chapter 28 we must be somewhere close to the Assyrian invasion, the great fulfillment, the great climax, the great vindication of Jehovah and his prophet Isaiah. Over those years, Isaiah was from time to time issuing, proclaiming by some means or other, perhaps by word of mouth but more probably by the written word published abroad, he was giving various oracles on the other smaller nations mostly surrounding, and they are on Babylon, on the Philistines, on Moab, on Syria, on Egypt, on Edom, on Arabia, and Tyre. I'm afraid we shall have to pass these by altogether, practically altogether. Chapter 18 is of particular interest, and it's just possible that we may have time sooner or later to come back to it, but for the time being we'll pass these chapters by altogether and come immediately to chapter 28. Now 28 is the first of what are conveniently called the section of five woes. This is chapter 28 to chapter 35. It's conveniently called the section of the five woes, but at the end of it, as usual, there is a celebration of the kingdom of Christ. Now the first woe, beginning in chapter 28, woe to the crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim. Although this particular oracle was almost certainly delivered in Jerusalem, yet it is an oracle against Ephraim, and it says in verse 2, the Lord has a mighty and strong one, as a tempest of hail and destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing and casting down, and the leaders of Ephraim will be overcome by it. Now it's quite easy to see that this is almost the last reiteration of the warning given in chapter 8, which we read last night, where the Lord says by Isaiah, Now therefore behold, the Lord bringeth upon them, that is, this people who have refused the waters of Shiloh, the Lord bringeth upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory. He shall come up over all his channels and pass through into Judah. So we've come, after all these years, come much nearer, and it turns out very close now indeed to the fulfillment of these prophecies, when this terrible storm of hail and destroying flood would come upon the people of Israel. But we read in verse 7, that the leaders of Judah are also implicated in this matter, and in particular when Isaiah comes to speak to them, he says to them in verse 14, Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men that rule this people which is Jerusalem, because ye have said, we have made a treaty with death. Now all the context indicates what this really means is that they had signed a treaty with Egypt for mutual protection. Egypt was out looking for allies against this murderous power to the northeast, and even the smaller states that would be buffers in between were worth having. And the prophet says to the elders, the leaders of Judah, that they had said to him, we have made a treaty or a covenant with death, and with hell we are at agreement. They had made a treaty with Egypt. When the overflowing scourge, there it is again, shall pass through it shall not come unto us, for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves. But the Lord had a message in view of this particular form of judgment, that is an overflowing scourge, a terrible flood of waters. The Lord had a refuge. Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a trite stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation, he that believeth shall not make haste. When a flood comes upon a city, then there is tremendous scurrying about in haste to find a place of safety. But those whose heart was already set in faith upon the Lord's salvation would not make haste in that day, because they would be saved. He that believeth in him shall not make haste, because he shall be saved. But the overflowing scourge should pass through, and would make absolute nonsense of their covenant with Egypt. It would all be nothing. And yet this overflowing scourge is said by the Lord to be judgment. But it's a lovely phrase in verse 21 to say that he is doing his work, his strange work, and bring to pass his act, his strange act. Such judgments, though there be upon the unbelieving and ungodly, there are no happiness, no pleasure to the heart of God who loves mercy and lovingkindness, and therefore he calls judgment his strange work, his strange act. The second woe is in verse 29, in chapter 29. And this time, of course, it is a woe against Jerusalem. It's called Ariel, or the Lion of God, but it evidently indicates Jerusalem, because it goes on to say the city where David dwelt. But we read in the first few verses that it will be visited by thunders from the Lord, and would be brought very low, because of the enemies surrounding it. But in verses 7 and 8, we find that all the nations, because the Assyrian hordes were composed of many nations confederate with Assyria, all the nations who fight against Ariel should be brought to nothing. Just as though, verse 8, a hungry man dreamed, he thinks he eats, and behold he awaketh and his soul is empty. In other words, those enemies of the Lord would simply vanish overnight. But there is a reproof for those who are spiritually asleep. And in particular, we have to note verse 13, for as much as this people draw near me with their mouth, with their lips to honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men. How often, by the way, this kind of, um, this sorrow of the Lord over his people literally applies to us. How often we find ourselves in the situation when we draw near to God with our lips and our hearts are far from him. How near home this comes to us. How, uh, in themselves alike the people of God have been, in spite of his grace, in all ages. And we always have to be on the watch that we are not amongst the people who draw near to him with our lips, but in our hearts we are far from him. In any case, in the end, these enemies of the Lord would come to naught. Now, the next woe is in chapter 30, and this time it is absolutely plainly, um, about going to Egypt to make a treaty. In verse 2, after saying woe to the rebellious children that take counsel but not of me, it says, woe to them that are walking at this moment, woe to them that are at this moment walking to go down to Egypt, and have not asked in my mouth to strengthen themselves. They are going to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh and trust in the shadow of Egypt. We are, they are warned that this confidence of theirs would let them down. Verse 13, this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant. But it's very remarkable that although this has actually taken place, yet in verse 18 the Lord still desires to act in grace toward them, and says, therefore will the Lord wait that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted that he may have mercy upon you, for the Lord is a God of judgment, blessed are all they that wait for him. Now it's very interesting that at the, um, end of this chapter, we have what is plainly, uh, the last final end of the Assyrian and the King of the North in the future. We have some points that are exactly like Daniel chapter 11, which talk about the attacks of the King of the North on, um, Jerusalem. You remember, for example, all of you who have read this chapter 11 of Daniel remember how quite suddenly, as it were, out of the blue, the King appears, who shall, um, be worshipped and take the place of God in the temple of God. The King appears, and then we read that the King of the North comes against him, and eventually they're all destroyed by the coming of the Lord. Well, it is evidently exactly the same that is foretold here. In that last invasion, verse 32, in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be with tablets and harps, and in battles of shaking will he fight with it. For Tophet, that is the burning, hell, Tophet, the judgment of fire. For Tophet is ordained of old, yea, for the King, in exactly the same way the apostate King, the Antichrist, appears suddenly there. For the King it is prepared, he hath made it deep and large. The pile thereof is of fire and much wood. The breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it. The next war, in chapter 31, also deals with going down to Egypt for help, but this time it's dealing plainly with the vanity of trusting in the horses and the chariots of Egypt. First verse, woe to them that go down to Egypt for help, and stay in horses and trust in chariots, because there are many, and in horsemen, because they are very strong, but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord. And the vanity of trusting in Egypt is given. Now there's an extremely interesting section in verse 5. It's for the comfort of the hearts of those who are not disposed to trust upon Egypt, but it's what the Lord will do in these desperate days for those who trust in him. As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending also he will deliver it, and passing over he will preserve it. Now I call that interesting because of its light upon the true meaning of the word Passover, going back to Exodus 12, so far away. When we read there of the Passover, we're not right in simply thinking that the destroying angel would leap over and miss the houses of Israel. We're told it means something quite different, because the words here are exactly the same. As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem. And the Lord would pass, like a bird defending its young and its nest, the Lord would pass over his people and grant them the protection of his name and his power and his hand. That's what happened in Egypt so long ago. That's what Passover means. The Lord would pass over them with a protective hand of power, would protect them in the day of judgment. Why? Because the blood was upon the doorpost. To the protection of the blood was also granted the protection of the name of the Lord and his promise to pass over, thus defending them from the destroying angel. And so it will be here. The main interest, I think, is in the meaning of the word Passover, which is clearly told there. But so it will be when Jerusalem is attacked. As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem. And then, in the last two verses, you have the final end of the Assyrian in the prophetic part for the last time. Not the end as it would appear here in the story, but the final end. Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man, and the sword not of a mean man shall devour him. In other words, it will be no human hand that will in the end destroy the king of Assyria, the king of the north. It will be the hand of the Lord. And then, of course, after that final deliverance in chapter 32, we proceed as we did in chapter 11. The destruction of the Assyrian is followed by the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom when God's king should reign in righteousness. And see what a lovely verse we have in verse 2. A man shall be as an hiding place from the wind and a cover from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. Just as we took great pleasure in the names of the king in a previous chapter, chapter 9, so we take great pleasure, we who have the Lord Jesus Christ as our savior and shepherd, in reading here that he is a man who is a hiding place and a cover from the tempest, rivers of water in a dry place, and the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. In verse chapter 33, we have the last of these woes, and it's a woe against the Assyrian, the one who was the spoiler. But the Lord intervenes in verses 16 and 17, and we have a wonderful statement, so far as the Old Testament is concerned, of the real hopes of those who trust in the Lord. The one who trusts in the Lord and walks righteously, it says he shall dwell on high, verse 16. His place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks, bread shall be given him, his water shall be sure, and I shall see the king in his beauty. They shall behold the land that is very far off. Well, presumably there is a reference to the earthly king of David's house, but no Christian heart can fail to see a very wonderful promise for us. Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty. Chapter 34, which I just mentioned in passing, is a very interesting one, because it tells us that when all the nations shall be assembled for the last attack on Jerusalem, then, so far as these nations are concerned, the final place of decision is Edom and Bosra, and the day of vengeance is here. In verse 6, the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bosra, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. Verse 8, for it is the day of the Lord's vengeance. Well, when we come to chapter 63, we'll have to come back and remember that we are already being told that the final destruction will take place in Edom and Bosra in the day of the Lord's vengeance. And then finally, once again, in the loveliest language, we have the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ celebrated, the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as a rose. Now, this is the end of our summary of these prophetic chapters which set the situation for the hearts of God's people true and false relative to that judgment, and that was coming relative also to the prediction of the Lord. But in chapters 36 and 37, we have the fulfillment of all these previous chapters. There is a tremendous, dramatic, dramatic unity over all from chapter 1 to chapter 36 and 7. In chapter 1, we read that Zion, Jerusalem, is left like a house in a garden, all isolated and alone. And that comes about in chapters 36 and 37. All the walled cities of Judah are overrun and own the Jerusalem. It begins by saying that Sennacherib, king of Assyria, took all the walled cities of Judah and sent Rabshaker and a great army to Jerusalem. Now, there is the stage set. From the very first words of the prophet, this is what he's been looking forward to, that all Judah will be overrun with its fenced cities taken and Jerusalem standing alone. And so it all turned out in the end just as Isaiah had said. Now, the highlights are these. If we've got our eye on chapter 37 particularly, when Rabshaker came and threatened the city and the people and the king, what did Hezekiah do? No longer a faithless king like Ahaz, perhaps not as firm as he should have been with those who wanted to make this treaty, but he was a man of God who comes in for great commendation in the other parts of Holy Scripture. And I love these words about him. It came to pass when King Hezekiah heard it that he rent his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth, went into the house of the Lord, and then he sent a message to Isaiah, who was staying quietly at home in all this. In verse 4, the message says, it may be the Lord thy God will hear the words of Rabshaker whom the king of Assyria, his master, has sent to reproach the living God and will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard. Wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant, here it is again, the remnant that is left. So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah and Isaiah gave them his answer. He said, ye shall say unto your master, thus saith the Lord, be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him. He shall hear a rumor and return to his own land. I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. In other words, just the same as he always said, Isaiah said, be quiet and trust in the Lord, and here in Zion there will be a great deliverance. But Rabshaker returned and this time sent a very threatening letter into the hands of Hezekiah. And here is a very wonderful little incident upon which we might always model ourselves in moments of difficulty. Verse 14, Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it. And Hezekiah went up unto the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed unto the Lord and said, let us always remember what Hezekiah did in a moment of the most critical difficulty. He went in and he spread it before the Lord. And he prayed, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, incline thine ear, O Lord, and hear. And so on appealed against them. Now in verse 21, Isaiah sent the Lord's answer to the prayer of Hezekiah. Verse 21, Isaiah sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib, the greatest king in all the earth, with his thousands of furious, cruel warriors encamping there, whereas thou hast prayed to me against the king of Assyria, this is the word which the Lord has spoken concerning him. And at the end of this long answer that Isaiah gives in verse 33, Therefore thus saith the Lord, this is the end of Isaiah's message concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow here, nor come before it with a shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it for thine own sake, and for my servant David's sake. And the angel of the Lord went forth. No one could have foreseen how it would happen. The angel of the Lord went forth and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and eighty-five thousand, and when they arose in the morning they were all dead. So dramatic a moment has come by Byron into English literature. Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green, that host with its banners at sunset were seen. Like the leaves of the forest when autumn hath blown, that host on the morrow lay scattered and strone. The angel of death spread his wings in the blast, and breathed in the face of the foe as he passed, and the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, and their hearts but once heaved and forever grew still. There is an immense lesson in this for us, and it stands alongside the lessons of Elisha and Elijah. For the man of God and of faith in any age, when the conditions of utmost confusion obtain amongst the people of God, and evil seems to prevail amongst them, it was the man who had been in the presence of the Lord, convicted, cleansed, and commissioned, who knew how to act and speak. He was able to be the single salvation of God's people by his faith and his trust in the Lord, and this is because he was habitually so near to God in his prayers that such quietness and confidence were his strength. He must have been a very young man when this took place, when we take account of the rest of this book. Young men and women, read this story, go over it in detail, and let every word be engraved in your heart and memory, and you also can be men and women of God, prepared by nearness to God and faith in his word for every kind of challenge that will come against you. I have a feeling that this part of the story, on which I've been only able to deal very briefly because there has to be so much build up to understand it, but I have a feeling that this part of the story is one that we nearly always miss. The lessons of Elisha and Elijah are an open book to us, but the tremendous triumph and vindication in deliverance for God's people and peace and quietness to them that was achieved by Isaiah's faith in God, it passes us by because there's a greater thing here. It is undoubtedly a greater thing to have here the things directly concerning the Lord, but don't let us miss this lesson of the wonderful triumph of the faith of Isaiah in days of deepest confusion and darkness that by this fact are very much like our own days. Now, I have two special points to go back to and to draw your attention to in this passage before we close. If you turn your pages back to the 26th chapter, which is the usual celebration of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of God's Christ, after these oracles on the surrounding nations, which I said we would pass by for the time being, in verse 3 we have this wonderful promise given out by Isaiah. Now, one of the most wonderful threads that pass through the writing of Isaiah is this theme of peace. Just as we were speaking yesterday about the use that he makes of running water, the waters of Shiloh, the gentle murmuring of the peaceful brook, representing the gracious way that God speaks when he does speak in grace. He has spoken above all through Shiloh, his sent one. It's the gracious message, the gracious tenderness of the Lord Jesus Christ in his offers of mercy and grace. They are the waters of Shiloh that flow softly, and the murmuring brook with its peace and quietness is a picture of the grace and the tenderness of the Lord Jesus Christ bringing God's grace to men. And then immediately afterwards, the roaring tempest, a river in spate, destroying all before it, bringing down buildings and destroying every kind of shelter. That's in the next verse. This is the picture of the judgment of God. But in the end of Isaiah, there's yet a third very wonderful picture arising from the observation by the prophet of running water. If they had kept my word in chapter 48, verse 18, I would have extended to them peace like a river. And almost the last words of the prophet, I will extend to her, to the blessed Zion, when all the judgment is passed, and God's blessing rests upon his city and his people, I will extend to them peace like a river. And it's a very wonderful picture. You see, in these Mediterranean and eastern lands, a mere brook dries up completely in the warm weather. All the water courses, the small water courses, are dry and hard and barren. But a river can still continue flowing with a smooth piece of its surface, and therefore being an emblem of the peace of God. Our hymn writer has it, when peace like a river attendeth my way, or sorrows like sea billows roll. You see, he's using the same kind of pictures that the prophet Isaiah is using. Well, it is to me a most wonderful thing that in all ages, the Lord has been disposed to give his people peace. What is peace? Well, of course, primarily, and even in the Bible primarily, it's an absence of war. But that is an emblem of such in deeper. The peace of God, given to us men and women, is that tranquility which settles upon the spirit of the children of God because of the knowledge that every vital issue is settled. What gives men, robs men of their peace? They have no sure knowledge of the future. None of the vital issues of life in this world and death and entrance into the dark future, none of these issues are settled for them. But for the Christian, for the child of God, every vital issue is settled and he walks with the Lord and therefore making his requests known unto God, the peace of God which passeth all understanding keeps the heart and mind through Christ Jesus. We were speaking yesterday about the idols of sport and entertainment upon whom our society lavishes its honors and its rewards. But you could go to these men and women, young and old, and you would find that not for one moment have they experienced true peace. But you are promised by the living God his peace if you only make your requests known to him and rest in him. And I think it's never been more wonderfully summarized than it is in this third verse. Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon thee because he trusteth in thee. You know this is very closely allied to the song of salvation we had yesterday. I will trust, the writer says, and not be afraid. And it's only because I can trust that I can say I will not be afraid. And so it is here. Thou will keep him in perfect peace because his mind because he trusteth in thee. Well here is a pathway and a habit of mind and thought which is presented to us by the prophet here. God speaking to his people so long ago with the same accents of peace that he is speaking to us in the apostle Paul in the New Testament. We are promised this perfect peace and the conditions are that our minds are stayed upon him. Well we could spend a fortnight trying to explain what it means to have the mind stayed upon the Lord. But when you think of the rock-like stability of God and his absolute mastery over all things in heaven and earth, if only our minds are resting upon his greatness and his wisdom and that he has committed himself in grace to a relationship with us that never can be broken. How wonderful it is and how obviously true it is that for those of us whose minds are stayed upon him and his wisdom and power and grace and the absolute finality of the relationship we now stand in him into him which can never be broken we can easily see that if our minds stayed upon him this promise is fulfilled to us we shall be kept in perfect peace. God will extend to those who rejoice in his salvation. God will extend peace like a river. Now if we come back to chapter 28 and look again at this verse and the surroundings of it, verse 16. If the imagery that is being used is of a roaring torrent, of a flood overflowing rivers, then what is required is some foothold of stability that can resist this tempest. And the circumstances will certainly be that if this news breaks suddenly then there will be a tremendous alarm with people running hither and thither to try to find how they can get onto solid ground away from this. Up in the north here, not so very many years ago they had it. Didn't they in the border country around grant houses? In the middle of the night the news comes that the rivers are flooding and the waters are roaring down the valleys. What alarms! What rushing about to find a place of safety. What is required is a rock on which they can stand and they can rest and it will be able to resist the flood. And therefore it's absolutely true to this imagery that the Lord here speaks of his salvation as a rock that's able to save them when the overflowing scourge of God's judgment comes. And it's very easy to see with what lively exactitude the Spirit of God takes up this figure and applies it to our Lord Jesus Christ who is to be our salvation against the storms of judgment. They shall never reach the one who are resting upon that rock. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, behold I lay in Zion for a foundation. That's what we want. We want something that won't be moved in view of that approaching storm of judgment. A trite stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation he that believeth shall not make haste. A trite stone. Now what can it mean to say that our Lord Jesus Christ is a trite stone? Well there are two possible meanings for this that spring to my heart. One is that he has already withstood the storm. And the other is that multitudes have rested upon him and they have been kept in perfect peace. And it is true indeed that our Lord Jesus Christ has withstood the storm. All thy waves and billows passed over me, he said by the psalmist. It says, deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy water spouts. The deep of God's demands against sin and wrath of God on sin. They were met and sustained by the deep of the capacity of our Savior to stand in our place and to bear on our account that storm which broke upon him. He is indeed by Calvary's cross. He is the trite stone. And if our faith is in him, we shall never even come into judgment. He is a trite stone. And then think of all the multitudes of those in all ages and especially since first he came. All those who have tasted that he is gracious. All those who have come to him as to the living stone. They have indeed tasted that the Lord is gracious and they've experienced the peace that comes from those who are absolutely certain that they're cleared of all suspicion of the application to them of the judgment of God that's coming on the unbeliever. Our Savior is a trite stone and with absolute security we can rest our souls upon him. It says he is a precious cornerstone. A precious cornerstone. Well, in Peter this is applied and it is said to us that although the Lord Jesus Christ is in other places called a stone of stumbling and rock of offense, this is for the unbeliever. But the preciousness of that stone is for the believer. All about him, especially in Peter there, is precious. The precious faith that he's given that rests in him. The precious blood which has redeemed us and made us his own. But there is a lasting satisfaction of heart and mind for those who know him which comes from the realization of his preciousness. Is it not a striking transformation that the same stone can be on the one hand the granite to withstand the flood, the overflowing scourge, on the other hand a precious stone to be for the everlasting delight of all those who know him and rejoice in him. Unto you therefore that believe is the preciousness that belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. A preciousness that God has always seen in him to the full. He is a precious cornerstone and in the end it says he is a sure foundation. Well of course in this verse this obviously means that he is a sure foundation against the overflowing scourge. Against the storm of judgment he is a sure foundation. But in the New Testament it's taken further and that sure foundation which we first meet in our liberation from the fear of judgment, it becomes something upon which God is building. And we can become stones by contact with the living stone. We can become stones in God's building and we can become part of that house that is surely being erected and is already certainly functioning for the worship of the Father in spirit and in truth. We, that is everyone who has come to him and tasted that he is gracious, they are being built up a spiritual house and holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. When we think of the last phrase of this verse then the different ways in which the Holy Spirit not perhaps translates it but interprets it to others is very striking. Here it says he that believeth in him shall not make haste. He that believeth in him shall not make haste. When I was very young and presumed upon my privilege to reprove an old workman for not making haste he said you ought to know your bible. It says that believers shouldn't make haste and I was absolutely stumped in those days. What can it mean? Well in its setting it's quite plain what it means. When the flood comes and people suddenly become aware of it then there's a tremendous making haste to find the means of safety. But for those who are on this rock there never will be that alarm. There never will be that need to hasten here and there. Why? Because we have an eternal salvation which nothing can ever shake in the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the ways it's put in the New Testament is he that believeth in him shall not be ashamed and another place he that believeth in him shall not be confounded. And the issue of the matter is for us here taking the words of Isaiah to ourselves and seeking to see in them our blessed savior the Lord Jesus Christ. What it's saying to us is this that once our faith is in him, once our lives are committed to him and to the tremendous enterprise of his service we shall never in time and eternity have cause to be ashamed of the fact that our trust is in the Lord. He that believeth in him shall not be ashamed. Now let us sing hymn number 99. We'll sing the whole hymn and I'll read the last verse. But most adore his precious name his glory and his grace proclaim for us condemned despised undone he gave himself the living stone. He gave himself the living stone. …
… The reading tonight, again from the book of the prophet Isaiah, is taken from chapters 40 and 42. Chapter 40 of the book of Isaiah first, from verse 25 to 31. Prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 40, verses 25 to 31. To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal, saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number. He calleth them all by names, by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power, not one faileth. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, my way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might, he increaseth strength. Even the youth shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint. And now in chapter 42, verse 1, Isaiah 42, verse 1, Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, and whom my soul delighteth. I have put my spirit upon him. He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flux shall he not quench. He shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail, nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth. And the Isles shall wait for his law. That's all we're going to read tonight. Book two of the Prophet Isaiah is divided by the Spirit of God. I mean by that that we are not dependent upon the modern chapter makers for the division. Book two of Isaiah, from chapters 40 to the end, chapter 66, is divided by the Spirit of God into three equal sections of nine chapters, the first of which forms our theme for this evening, chapters 40 to 48. The first and second of these two sections are both ended by the words, there is no peace saith my God to the wicked. It's perhaps the last of those very vivid allusions to moving water that Isaiah uses to paint his word pictures and give us his impressions, that the wicked are like a troubled sea, all the time casting up dirt and everything that's objectionable. The wicked are like a troubled sea. There is no peace saith the Lord to the wicked. In the first two cases, then the section ends with this, and we take this as part of the arranging of the Spirit of God. Now in this whole part of the book of our Prophet, that is from the whole book from chapter 40, the most interesting subject to every Christian heart is the appearance there, and only there, of the personage who is called the Servant of Jehovah. This might appear to us to be a fairly common kind of designation for a person in Holy Scripture, a Servant of Jehovah, but when we gather together the things that are said in these four Servant poems, then we very quickly realize that this is no ordinary person. The Servant of Jehovah is himself the living God, come down in order that he might do a work, perform a tremendous work on the part of the Lord who sent him. And I do pray most earnestly that the great object that we have before us in these meetings might in a very particular way, today and tomorrow, if it please the Lord to tarry, that our hearts might be made to burn within us as we meditate upon these beautiful Servant poems. The first one we read this evening, the first few verses of chapter 42, Behold my servant, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth. And then there's quite a gap, and it's in the next major section of the book, in chapter 49, beginning, Listen, O Isles, unto me. The Lord hath called me from the womb, from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. This is the second of the Servant poems. In chapter 50, especially when we come to verse 4, The Lord God hath given me the tan of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. We have the third of the Servant poems, and then, I need hardly say, the last and the highest and the most wonderful, beginning in verse 13 of chapter 52, Behold my servant shall deal prudently. And going on to the passage we all know so well in chapter 53. These are the four Servant poems. Now, if there was any need to do so, we could very easily confirm, most indisputably, if there was any need to do so, that it is the intention of the Spirit of God that these passages to speak to us of none else than the Lord Jesus Christ. The first passage that we read in chapter 42 is quoted with the usual differences that, changing from one language to another, make in Matthew 12, verses 18 to 20. And for the moment, passing over the others, chapter 53 is frequently quoted, we know so well, By whose stripes we are healed, Peter says, who his own self bear our sins in his own body on the tree, by whose stripes we are healed. Or the familiar story of the Ethiopian eunuch, how he was reading, how his life was taken from the earth, the life of this servant of the Lord. And he asked the question, Of whom speaketh the prophet, of himself or some other man? And beginning at that scripture, Philip preached unto him, Jesus. We hardly need, most of us, to have it pointed out to us that we're an absolutely solid ground in detaching these four passages from their context, however vile as that may seem, and allowing them to speak directly to our hearts of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now it would appear, since it's the intention of the Spirit of God that we should apply this title, the servant of Jehovah, in a very special and distinctive way to the Lord Jesus Christ, it's worthwhile to stop, although the question is simple, and ask what exactly is the idea of a servant? It must be given its pure and full significance in passages like this. And we must think, I suggest therefore, as the word servant does, meaning a person who undertakes a commission or commissions for another, and that commission involves toil and hardship. We shall see how, in a sense, far deeper than any such definition could present to us. This definition, as it enerates, gives us a beginning to understand the way it's applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. He was the servant of Jehovah. He came to fulfill a commission, and in the end we find that that commission involved, in the deepest, deepest sense, it involved the trouble of his soul. Now one of the puzzles of this particular chapter 42 that we have in our passage this evening, one of the puzzles is that there isn't the slightest doubt that in the first place, the term the servant of Jehovah applies to God's earthly people, Israel. Look at chapter 41, the chapter before the one we read, verse 8, chapter 41, verse 8, But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen. If we look in the latter part of the chapter of which you read the first four verses, chapter 42, verse 19, Hear ye death, verse 18, Hear ye death, and look ye blind, that ye may see who is blind, but my servant, or deaf as my messenger that I sent. Who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord's servant, seeing many things, but thou observest not, opening the ears, but heareth not. Now it's very plain, right through to the end of this section that we're speaking of, although the concept occurs nowhere else than in these particular nine chapters, yet it's very plain that in these chapters, in the first place, first approach to the subject, in these chapters, the servant of the Lord is Israel, his earthly people. In the very last verses of the section, in verse 20 of chapter 48, in calling the captives to come out of Babylon, the word says, The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob. So not only before this passage, first four verses of chapter 42, but right through to the end of this whole section, the servant of the Lord is Israel. And we shall see very plainly how, although called to be the servant of the Lord, and given that great honor to be his witnesses in the world, yet they lamentably failed. They were deaf, and they were blind, and their hearts were dull, and they failed altogether to fulfill the work that's involved in being the servant of the Lord. How then can we understand, amidst all these plain statements, how can we understand chapter 42, verses 1 to 4, as applying to the Lord Jesus Christ? Well, I suggest, can do no more than suggest, but it certainly is a thought that has given great satisfaction to myself at any rate in mind and heart, and that is that in those four verses in chapter 42, we have the outline of what the servant should be. We have the statement of what the servant is in ideal, so that, since it says that Israel was a failure as the servant, and blind and deaf, both they could see, when the words were addressed to them, and we can see what the servant of the Lord ought to be. That explains the presence of this passage amongst the others that apply the term to Israel, but it also makes it very plain how the passage was fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. It removes all difficulty, so far as I'm concerned, to think of these first four verses as being the Lord's servant in ideal, and therefore, obviously, they are to be fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. And the only way to understand another puzzle, when we come to the next servant poem in chapter 49, is that in that chapter, we read of the moment when the Lord Jesus Christ is substituted, or substitutes himself, for Israel as the servant of the Lord, and from henceforth, there's no doubt at all, the one who fulfills this delineation is the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, a little later, I hope we shall come back to this particular delineation of the Lord's servant in ideal, recognizing and just immediately going to the fact that it was fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ. These particular verses in chapter 42, they present to us his work, what the job was for which the servant came and was sent, and his character. The wonderful character of the Lord Jesus Christ, seen here in a series of negatives, to which we shall come a little later. But certainly, how very sweetly, this point of view, that here we have the servant in ideal, an outline which can only be fulfilled by one, and that is the perfect blessed Son of God, how sweetly it speaks to our hearts to think of this chapter 42 and its first four verses like this. Now, I must again spend a few minutes on the background to these chapters, because it presents to us how vastly different the circumstances are from the circumstances which dominated the story in chapters 1 to 39. In the first place, in these chapters, Israel is captive. If you like to look in the same chapter 42 and verse 7, then it says the Lord, in verse 6, the Lord has called his servant, going on to verse 7, to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. If we look at verse 22, we find the people who are the subject of these chapters described similarly. But this is a people robbed and spoiled, they are all of them snared in holes, and they're hid in prison houses. They are a prey and non deliverance for a spoil and non self-restore. And of course other verses could be quoted to indicate that in these chapters, God's people Israel are regarded as prisoners in captivity, in exile. Not only so, but we find that the power that has captivated them is named. There are several cases in these chapters which we will make reference to, but in particular in the end of chapter 48, at the very end of the section, the point to which in its first meaning everything goes forward is, go ye forth from Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it, even to the end of the earth, say ye, the Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob. And one final thing, in chapter 44 verse 26, we find that their own land is now desolate, with the cities broken down. Chapter 44 verse 26, he confirms the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers, that saith to Jerusalem, thou shalt be inhabited, and to the cities of Judah thou shalt be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof. In other words, Jerusalem has been depopulated, and the cities of Judah have been burnt down, and that land is decayed and desolate. So that the first great point about the circumstances of the background of these chapters is that God's earthly people, for the very reason that they fail to be the witnesses for the Lord, they're captives in the distant land of Babylon. The next thing that can be seen very plainly about the background is that the chapters make a very plain reference to a great conqueror who has appeared, and he's very quickly named as Cyrus. In chapter 41, for example, the Lord is addressing a concourse of peoples, and he says, Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings. He gave them as dust to his sword, as driven stubble to his bow. He pursued them and passed safely, even by the way they had not gone with his feet. In other words, there is a tremendous conqueror. At the same time as God's earthly people were in captivity, a great conqueror had gone out, and he's very soon named as Cyrus, who is the person, as we know, who eventually delivered God's people by bringing down Babylon. Now if the people are still captives, and yet this great conqueror Cyrus has gone forward, then there's no question at all that all this took place very close to 200 years after the death of Isaiah. You remember the first verses of the book tell us that Isaiah was the first person, the first ruler of Judah, in whose reign Isaiah prophesied, and we have the reference in chapter 5 to the death of King Isaiah. These events took place very close to 200 years after the first messages that the Prophet wrote. Now, how is it possible that this should be so? Well, since these chapters name the deliverer Cyrus, then of course the hostile critic has had to have resource to believing, or pretending, that someone else wrote these late chapters. Well, the whole of the New Testament so utterly and simply disposes of that, and assures us that these chapters are part of the book of Isaiah, and part of the work of the Prophet Isaiah, we don't need to stop and think about this, but it does involve the fact that 200 years before he came, or nearly 200 years before he came, God named beforehand the great conqueror who would set his people free, bring down the great city of Babel on the Lady of Kingdoms, and set free his people. And it's not surprising that we shall see that again and again in this section. The Lord is appealing to the fact, I told you long before, I'm telling you long before. When they come to read it, he says, I told you long before, and this proves that I am God, and there is none else. Ask your false gods to tell you 200 years before. It cannot be done. I am God, and there is none else. Now, this is a very straightforward situation. It's not the way we would normally imagine it, but evidently the fact of the matter is that by the power of the Spirit of God, Isaiah took his place in spirit amongst the captive exiles in Babylon, 150 to 200 years later, because they were captives for 70 years. He took his place amongst them in the spirit, and he wrote to them, he wrote to them words which would apply directly to them, and encourage them in their captivity, and present to them promises and encouragement of their deliverance, and he wrote it all 150 years beforehand. This is absolutely so miraculous as to be outside the mind of man to admit that such a thing took place. But for us, we realize full well that the future is an open book with our God. And he does indeed show, not only in this, but in many another page of Holy Scripture, that since he tells from olden times that it will come to pass, he has proved, I am God, and there is none else. Now, once again, I must ask you to put your eyes down to the pages of the Bible, and to turn over the pages, and we shall go as rapidly as we can, consistent with a measure of clarity, go through these chapters to indicate what they mean. In chapter 40, from verse 1 to verse 11, we have an introduction which has often been called the four voices. First of all, comfort ye my people, speak ye comfortably, or speak to the heart of Jerusalem. That's the first voice. The second one, the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord. The third voice, in verse 6, the voice said cry, and he said, what shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is the flower of the grass. And a fourth voice, in verse 9, O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain. O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength. Lift it up, be not afraid, say unto the cities of Judah, behold your God. Now, if ever there was a passage which obviously had a minor meaning for the present time, and yet a far greater meaning for the future, this is it. Because when you remember that the Prophet is addressing the desolate city, rubbed of all her people, broken down and in ruins, when you remember that the Prophet, under these circumstances, is addressing Zion, he is saying to her, look, your long sorrow is over. The first voice that breaks the stillness after all these years, although written so long before, is the voice that comforts you, and says, look, your long trial is past, because God has indeed sent his afflictions unto you for your sins. And then the next voice talks about that great journey across the desert, that the exiles would take as they were coming back, and a highway was prepared for the Lord, who himself was bringing his people back again. And finally, when those captive exiles are returned in verse 9 to Zion, and the great rejoicing was caused, then it was just as though God himself appeared there. But of course we know that each one of these, with a far greater truth, is speaking for the future. John the Baptist, announcing the coming of the Saviour, in verse 3, and the presence of Jehovah God amongst his people, according to the other voice. Now in verse 12, we have a most magnificent representation of the incomparable majesty of Jehovah. And I hope we should come back and think about this very particularly. The language of Isaiah in these parts is in itself incomparable, because it has a theme so absolutely magnificent as to surpass altogether the ordinary subjects of human words. It's talking about the incomparable majesty of Jehovah, and there can be none like him in heaven or in earth. And this representation of the incomparable majesty of Jehovah is made to show how foolish are those who make idols to bow down to them. But the wonderful part of the passage is that this tremendous majesty and wisdom and power of Jehovah is brought down in the end to the comfort of those who feel themselves to be abandoned. They say, in verse 27, they say, the Lord has forgotten us. Here we are, captive exiles. It's long since we had a word from the Lord. The Lord has forgotten us altogether. My ways hid from the Lord, and my judgments passed over from my God. But they are assured that although they are faint and weary, yet the incomparable strength and power of the Lord is for them to renew their strength. And here is a promise that has sounded out to the people of God and sounds out to us especially this evening. Are we faint and weary? Does the thought sometimes creep into our hearts unbidden, but with unbelief that the Lord has forgotten us? He's not aware of our afflictions. Well, under these circumstances, the word says to us today, absolutely directly, speaking straight out of the sacred page, they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint. Now, as I said before, chapter 41 addresses a great assembly of the nations about the sudden brilliant appearance of a great conqueror. That's quite plain. I read part of it in verses 1 to 7, and I won't repeat it again. But after verse 7, we find another revelation, another delineation by the prophet of the utter folly of idols. When all the peoples of the world, all this great assembly of nations, heard of this tremendous conqueror who'd been let loose, then they turned to their idols. But the Lord says to his servant in verse 8, but thou, Israel, art my servant. As much as to say, as my witness, you won't turn to idolatry. Thou art my servant whom I have chosen. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth and called thee from the chief men thereof. Thou art my servant. I have chosen thee and not cast thee away. And there again, I repeat, we find Israel as a servant of the Lord. Verse 25, when the question has been raised in the beginning, who raised up this great man from the east? And Cyrus, by the way, did arise in the far east of the Persian territory, territory of the Medes. Verse 25 gives the answer, I have raised up one from the north. He was, of course, from the northeast. Could be either north or east. I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come. From the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name. He shall come upon princes, upon mortar, and as the potter treadeth the clay. And then once again, who has declared from the beginning that we may know, and before time that we may say, he is righteous? Well, it was the Lord who had declared from long beforehand that this would come. In chapter 42, considering the question has been raised about idols and witness against them, we have in the first four verses, to which we shall return, a statement of the ideal delineation, the object and the character of the servant of the Lord. After this, we find, from verse 5 to verse 17, that the Lord pledges his righteousness, that he will in the end restore his sanctuary. He pledges his righteousness to do so. He then speaks in verse 14 as though, during the captivity, the Lord has been silent, as though inactive regarding his people. But this time is past. The time of his afflictions upon them is past. I have long time hold in my peace. I have been still and refrained myself. Now will I cry like a traveling woman. I will destroy and devour at once. I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all herbs, and so on. The Lord was going to come in and act. At the end of that chapter, we have the statement I've already referred to, that in the face of all this, then the servant of the Lord is blind and deaf. He has not been able to perceive the words that the Lord has spoken to him, and this is why he has failed as the Lord's servant. Now in chapter 43, and the greater part of 44, in the face of their long experience of desolation, and in the face of the rapid approach of their deliverance, then the people of God are given comforting promises to support them. Look, for example, at verse 2. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee. When thou walkest through the fire, they shall not be burnt, neither shall they flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy servant, and so on. You have through that chapter the most encouraging promises. Once again, in the middle of chapter 44, you have, that's the next chapter, you have one of the most terrific of these passages about idolatry. Why is the Lord so keen about idolatry here? Well, because, of course, it's the greatest possible despite to the revelation that he made himself to his people, and through his people. Against this, above all things, there should have been his witnesses for the unique majesty of Jehovah, the God of Israel, and their greatest failure was not doing this. Although they had fallen into idolatry before, they were in great danger of learning idolatry again in Babylon, and therefore it's witnessed that the Lord witnesses against it. But when you see, say, from verse 10 of chapter 44, but especially the irony, the folly of idolatry, it speaks out in verse 16. A man chooses, in verse 14, a piece of wood, and then it says in verse 16, part he burneth in the fire, part he uses to roast and eat flesh, and is satisfied. He warms himself and says, aha, I'm warm, I've seen the fire, and the rest thereof he makes a god. Even his graven image, he falleth down into it and worshipeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, deliver me, for thou art my God. The utter folly of idolatry is represented in those verses. Of course, we have to remember that there are very, very explicit references in the New Testament to the danger of idolatry for the people of God, for taking that which is of ourselves and our own desires, and falling down and worshipping them. The greatest statement of this, of course, is ye cannot worship God and mammon. And after the revelation of the true God, and eternal life, in the end of the epistle of John, little children, keep yourselves from idols. So we have to be on our guard against something equally stupid and foolish, as well as equally and desperately sinful, of putting some other thing which is really from ourselves only, in the place that God only should have in our hearts. In the end of chapter 44, we have Cyrus named. 44, in verse 28, the Lord is describing himself and his works. Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, he has done these things, confirms the word of his servants. Verse 27, that saith to the deep, be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers. Verse 28, that saith to Cyrus, he is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure. Even saints of Jerusalem thou shalt be built, and to the temple thy foundation shall be laid. Now when you reflect upon the fact that this was written 150, 200 years, 200 years beforehand, what a wonderful prophecy this is, and how clearly it locates what the circumstances of the people of God are. And chapter 45 is very largely about Cyrus, and the fact that he would deliver God's people by coming upon Babylon, in verse 14, we find, thus saith the Lord, the labor of Egypt, the merchandise of Ethiopia, and of the Sabaeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine. The work of Cyrus was going to be to liberate his people from all their afflictions, and that occupies chapter 45. Now in chapter 46, we have the downfall of Babylon's gods. As a matter of fact, when Cyrus was beginning his conquests, then the king of Babylon carried away all their gods in order to rescue them from the conqueror. And this utterly absurd situation is made the purpose of a most touching appeal to his people, which also has its application to us. First verse of chapter 46, the names of the principal gods and idols of Babylon were Bel and Nebo. Bel bowed down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts and upon the cattle. They are a burden to the weary beast, and themselves have gone into captivity. These gods, whom they worshipped and to whom they prayed to support them and help them, they themselves were a burden to weary beasts, and they themselves were carried away into captivity. But the Lord goes on to say, hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are born by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb, even to your old age I am he. Even to whore hairs will I carry you, I have made, and I will bear, even I will carry and will deliver you. This is a wonderful representation to the hearts of the people in all ages, the people of God, that God, being our creator, those who trust in him, those who are really his people, worship and serve him, he will carry them and bear them and support them and strengthen all the days of their life. He says, as the Lord Jesus said, I am with you to the end of the age. And then in chapter 47 we have a kind of long ode on the fall of Babylon. In verse 1, Babylon is addressed, come down and sit in the dust, O daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground. In verse 5, we learn that she had called herself the Lady of Kingdoms, but it says, thou shalt be no more called the Lady of Kingdoms. In verse 11, we're told in the end of it, desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know. And in the end, verse 15, it says in the last words, there are none to save. And so we have it clearly brought to a point when what the Lord is leading to regarding his captive people in these verses is the destruction of Babylon and their liberation from it. And in the end of chapter 48, we have the call, come out of Babylon. It was soon to sound forth. We know that the permission was given by the Persian king to Shesh-Bazar, and they did return. As many as wished to do so, they did return to their own city. Go ye forth of Babylon, flee from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth, say ye, the Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob. And they thirsted not when he led them to the desert. He caused waters to flow out of the rock for them. He cleaved the rock also and the waters gushed out. And then the refrain, because of the wickedness of many and the obstinate refusal of many to hear the word of the Lord, there is no peace, saith the Lord to the wicked. Now I feel that it has been necessary for us to see very plainly what the circumstances are. I want to go back for some minutes now to three particular parts which are of great help to us, and in them I trust we may hear the Lord speaking directly to us. There is the one passage which directly speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ, and certainly it would be one of those things in all the scriptures concerning himself that he spoke of. But the others are things that were addressed to the piety of the people of God to strengthen them in their day. Would you doubt that although their horizon was earth, and we have realized ourselves since we are united to Christ by the Holy Ghost to be a people for heaven with him, would you doubt that while we are on earth all the promises of God to the godly can be taken to ourselves? If in Hebrews the writer can say, the Lord hath said, I will not leave thee nor forsake thee, and then goes on to say, therefore I may boldly say, if the Lord is my helper I will not fear what men shall do to me, that opens the door to all the promises of God of this kind, to the pious and the righteous of his people upon earth. And it's with this particular thought in mind that I direct your attention once again to the latter part of chapter 40. Now I was pointing out how the real subject here is God's heart. Although his people were in affliction, yet his heart is to them. And especially now that the moment is coming when he calls them to action, then he finds that many of them are unbelieving, and they feel that the Lord has forgotten them, their ways hidden from him. They are faint and weary, but it's to these people that God gives this promise. They that wait upon the Lord. There is a way whereby in faintness and weariness our strength can be renewed. Do you want to know by what means when you are faint and weary you can have new strength from God? Do you want to know how when you feel like not moving a step further in the way, you can mount up with wings as eagles and run and not be weary, you can walk and not faint? The promise is this, they that wait upon the Lord shall do these things. And everything comes down really to what kind of a person is this Jehovah upon whom his people are called to wait, to give time to come to him. Well, I use the expression again and again because I don't know anything better. The incomparable majesty manifested in a measure of wisdom and power that absolutely beyond all human thought is represented in these verses in so magnificent and exalted a manner as I suppose appears nowhere else in the Holy Scriptures. We would all do well to learn these expressions because they are the word of God to represent to people here upon earth the incomparable exaltation and majesty of Jehovah whom his earthly people were privileged to worship and serve, and indeed they are also part of the character and power of the Father who has revealed himself as the same God through our Lord Jesus Christ. A fuller revelation, a revelation of his grace that proposes far greater things since the coming of Christ, a revelation of his love, a revelation that he wants to take us into relationship with himself, but not a witless in the incomparable majesty of his wisdom and power than under his name of Jehovah the God of Israel. Verse 12, who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand? You take the vast waters of the earth, the waters in all their depths covering the greater part of the globe, and so far as the Lord is concerned it is as though a man were to take a few drops of water in the palm of his hand and measure them like that. All the waters of the earth, the waters above and below, the Lord can be like a being who measures those waters in the palm of his hand. He comprehends the dust of the earth in a measure, and with the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance. Verse 15, the nations, you think of the 400 millions, is it, of China and something like an equal number of India, all the nations, the mind boggles at the numbers concerned in our day with all the nations. The nations are like the smallest of the balance. When I was a laboratory worker, this is one of the things on my first days which struck me. Of course, this was a long time ago, and balances in those days worked very different than what they were in Isaiah's day, although they're very different nowadays. But one of the first things that struck me is, the chemists are already smiling at this, but you could look at the pans of a balance and swing them, and they would not be equal, nothing at all to see. But you restore them to stability and brush the one that appears to be heavier, you can see nothing, but you swing it again and you find that they are indeed balanced. The smallest of the balance, too small to see, yet it has put the balance right to remove it. And all the nations of the world are like the small dust of the balance in the eyes of God. Verse 15, and so it goes on, verse 18, to whom then we liken God, or what likeness will he compare to him? And in this earlier part, it talks about his counsellors. Who were the counsellors of the Lord when he made all these things and established them all, when he set the stars in their courses? Who were his counsellors? The point is that there were no counsellors, that it's the wisdom of God and the power of God that shine out so uniquely in the creation of all things and the preservation of all things, that there's nothing at all that would possibly happen to the people of God here upon earth that could for a moment stand beside the measureless wisdom and power of that God who's speaking to his people. And yet, in the end, after saying to them, he's like the God who sits as a seat upon the circle of the earth. He says in spite of all this majesty, which you have again in verse 26, lift up your eyes on high and behold who hath created all these things. With the unaided eye, you can see the massive content of the heavenly sphere. Who created all these things? Who bringeth out their host by number? He calleth them all by names in the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power not one faileth. Why is it that the heavenly bodies never go wrong? Why is it that mathematically they preserve absolutely the course that has been set for them? It is because God is strong. It's not simply can be passed off by a law of nature. It is because God, Jehovah, is strong that they are preserved in their courses. And he commands them and they stand to attention when he speaks to them. The God whom Israel was called to worship and the Father whom we worship is a God of incomparable majesty and wisdom and power. There's no plumbing the depths of that wisdom and that power. And we know there's no plumbing the depths of that compassion and that grace and that love to his people. Well, they were found faint and weary. Do you feel that your ways hit from the Lord? I'm quite sure that with a small number of Christians together like this there will be some who within a measurable time of this have had the thought creeping into their heart, God has forgotten me. So great are the troubles that have passed over my head and afflicted me. You thought the temptation is encompassing that God has forgotten you. And that's what the Lord says to these people. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, my ways hidden from the Lord? How is it possible that a God who gives such care and maintains with such wisdom and power the heavenly bodies in all their their vast number? Our way cannot be hidden from God. My ways hit from the Lord and my judgment is passed over from my God. And the prophet goes on, hast thou not heard that the everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary, and there is no searching of his understanding. He cannot be weary, and he cannot forget his people. He gives power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increases strength. What a, what a reservoir beyond our highest imagination of renewal, of power, and of strength there in connection with every individual one of the people of God in all ages. He gives power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increases strength. Even the youth shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. That indicates that nature, with all its powers at its best, is liable to failure and to decay. It's got neither the wisdom nor the power to maintain its sense. The youth shall fail, faint and be weary, and the young men shall fail. But here is a point of contact between you and me, and the incomparable majesty and wisdom and power, as well as the compassion and the grace and love of God. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. What does it mean to wait upon the Lord? Well, I suppose it's very plain in the first place that it means give time to him. Give time to linger in his presence, that the impress of all these attributes that belong to him might have time by his grace and his spirit to impress themselves upon us. If we wait in his presence, then I think this will happen. And then of course to wait upon the Lord means to seek his blessing. And in the New Testament we have the particular point put like this, make our requests all unto him. Well, a God of such wisdom, a God of such knowledge, cannot possibly be ignorant of our requests, but he does invite us to make our requests all unto him. And in the New Testament he promises us his peace, but here he promises that we shall renew our strength. I feel, and you feel, sometimes of all the things that you need is a need for a renewal of strength, the kind of strength that only the Lord can give. That promise is given, and that promise stands tonight. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall have an eagle's view, seeing things down there in their true perspective. They shall run and not be weary, run with endurance the race that before us, looking often at Jesus. And they shall walk and not faint. Now we turn over the pages. In chapter 42, the first four verses, we have the first of these servant poems. And we're not bringing in the greater scope and depth of the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ, which you will all notice has been pretty well absent from the representations of the Messiah that we've had in the past. It's the majesty of his person as God and man. It's his wisdom and power as the wonderful counselor and the mighty God, which enable him to be the Prince of Peace. But we're now just treading in the vestibule of the scriptures which present to us all that he would achieve and could only be achieved by his death. But his person, his work, and his character are here displayed. Now we can see that the object of the servant's toil in the setting of the prophets is given us by one word which occurs in practically every verse. Verse 1, he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. Verse 3, he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. Verse 4, he shall not fail nor be discouraged till he has set judgment in the earth. Now we tend to think, of course, of judgment as an outpouring of the wrath of God, either here upon earth or at the great white throne. But of course judgment, in its widest sense, we saw, for example, in the earlier parts of the book, it represents holding the balance fairly and justly, and making sure that the poor and the widows and the fatherless and the underprivileged have their rights, which have always been neglected in the world. That was a facet of what is meant by judgment. We know that in the end judgment does include an outpouring of the punishment of God, for the correction of what is evil. But I suppose that a definition which might include all is that judgment means the regulation of human conduct by the will of God. In the Old Testament, the regulation of human conduct by the law of God. In the New Testament, the regulation of human conduct by the Spirit of God, which comes down to us from the Lord Jesus Christ. But judgment, I think, could be—an approach could be made to understand what it means, that the object of this person, so far as this earth is concerned, is that all human conduct should be regulated by the will of God, and that will be to the truest blessing of man. It will involve social justice, which has never been really seen in the world, and it would also involve the glory of God, because this is what his law was directed to do. Now, this servant is going not to fail or to be discouraged till he has established judgment on the earth. The horizon of the prophets is the earth, and in Christianity we have a far greater and more wonderful horizon, as I've said, being joined to Christ in heaven, and destined to share his heavenly home and place with the Father. But so far as the earth is concerned, and the prophets' horizon, then the servant must come to set judgment. Now his character is given in negatives. Verse 2, he shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. That's the first one. Verse 3, a bruised reed shall he not break. That's the second one. And the smoking flax shall he not quench. This is the third one. And they're very wonderful indeed. Then, in order to bring about such a result, with the earth filled with violence and corruption, then hostile men and nations are going to have to be ridden over and brought low. The lofty looks of men shall be brought low in those days. And the strength, which is divine strength, will be needed to overcome and to put away what is evil. But when the Lord Jesus Christ appeared here upon earth, then we read that this was fulfilled in him. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. I think one of the most striking indications of what this means is in the end of 2nd Timothy. Because we shall find that although Israel, as the servant of the Lord, has to be displaced, yet we'll find in the end of the book that the Israelites are again called the servants of the Lord. And we find in Christianity that we are called, we have the privilege of being called the servants of the Lord. But in verse 24 of 2nd Timothy, chapter 2, these words occur. The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach patient. Now, of course, this is one of those ways in which we have to compare Scripture with Scripture. We do have to strive and contend earnestly for the faith once delivered for the saints. There is one sense in which there must be, with the help of God and the power of his Spirit, a striving, a contending for the faith. But the manner of that contending is not to be the strident calls that shriek across the world in the headlines. No, the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach patient. This is the representation of that great servant of the Lord. In meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves, if peradventure God will give them repentance, the acknowledging of the truth. The point is that it is not anything else than the power of the Spirit of God that can bring about the change the servant of God requires to bring forth. And it is this, not striving, and being gentle unto all men, and patient, which is indicated in this character, he shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. When the Lord Jesus Christ was here, these words were quoted of him, and they were shown by him. A bruised reed shall he not break. The idea of the reed, I mean the original word which is translated reed, is something which betokens basically a straight, tender growth. An upright, straight, tender growth. But as we have it here, the foot of man or beast has ruthlessly crushed it. It's a broken reed. It's bruised, it's not broken, it's a bruised reed, ready to be broken. But we hear of this, the Lord Jesus Christ, that when a reed is bruised, he does not break it. How often do we feel, although brought by the Lord to be that upright growth, yet so fragile are we in every way that we can easily be bruised by the ruthless cruelty or thoughtlessness of others around us. But we have to do with one who binds up in these circumstances, and he will not break the bruised reed. The smoking flax shall he not quench. Well, in the lives of the people of God, there are always moments when, according to all human sight, the temper of a touch means all, the difference between extinguishing and being brought again to flame. Simon Peter is surely the best example. After he had denied the Lord with oaths and cursing, surely he was a smoking flax, to all appearances, on the very edge of extinguishing altogether. But the servant of the Lord was his master. The servant of the Lord was for him the tender shepherd, and the Lord Jesus, seeking him out with tender and strong words. And the Lord Jesus, by praying for him that his faith did not fail, he was restored again, and the flame of his love and devotion and witness brightened again. Why? Because he had to do with a master who will not quench the smoking flax. The Authorized Version obscures a very striking statement here in verse 4. He shall not fail, nor be discouraged. Now, if we were to translate that, translating the same words as we have in verse 3, we would say like this. He shall not burn low or be bruised. The Lord Jesus Christ is one who, though he was meek and lowly, and though he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, there was never any question with him that he would be bruised in the sense of being near to being broken, nor would he burn dim in the sense of appearing to be extinguished. He will never, he shall not be bruised, and he shall not burn low. This is a wonderful element in the character of our Saviour. So far as earthly masters and kings and friends are concerned, it's very often only the weak who themselves can show sympathy with the weak. The strong are often devoid of sympathy for the weak, but our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, he is the mighty God. He is the one who holds all power in his hand. He is the one who will certainly set judgment in the earth, but he is the one who has compassion on the feeble. He's the one who will not break the bruised reed or quench the smoking flax. And it's a very wonderful thing that we have contact with such a Saviour before ever we come to speak of the deeper things that the servant of the Lord presents. And finally just one word about verse 2 of chapter 43. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee. When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. We have spoken about the experiences of the past, and we've often been called, caused to feel faint and weary, a very frequent experience. And the heart of the Lord in all ages has looked down with sympathy and comfort and strength upon these feelings of his people. But we also have the promises for the future. And this verse, which is given to describe the Lord's strength for his people in that terrifying journey back from Babylon to their own land and to their own city, when they're, if even if they came to pass through the waters or through the fire, then they would not be harmed because he would be with them. And that promise is for us. Whatever, if the Lord tarry, may be the experiences that lie ahead for us, then we have this promise that when we pass through the waters, he will be with us. When we pass through the fire, they shall not kindle upon us, for we have the Lord Jesus Christ who has said on the part of God, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, and therefore also we can boldly say, I will not fear. Now let us sing number 174. Oh, fix our earnest gaze so wholly, Lord, on thee, that with thy beauty occupied we elsewhere none may see. Number 174. …
… The subject this afternoon will be the Anointed One and our reading will be from Isaiah chapter 61 verses 1 to 3, the book of the Prophet Isaiah chapter 61. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek. He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all that mourn, to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy of mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that he might be glorified. Chapter 63 verse 1. Who is this that cometh from Edom with thy garments from Bozrah, this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine-fat? I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with me. For I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stay in all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help, and I wondered that there was none to uphold. Therefore mine own arm brought salvation to me, and my fury it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth. And lastly one verse in chapter 57 and verse 15. For thus saith the High and Lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy. I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Those of you who have not been here at earlier meetings may be surprised to find that we are considering this afternoon the subject at first announced for this evening, that is, the Anointed One, the Messiah, in chapters 61 and 63. And this involves the fact that the section which we shall be studying this afternoon is chapters 58 to 66. I did take the liberty of announcing this at the beginning for no better reason than that I felt most urgently pressed upon my spirit that we should bring our meetings to a close on the subject of Isaiah chapter 53, which so strongly speaks to our hearts now and always. So if this is a surprise to you, I trust I shall be forgiven. Another thing which I haven't mentioned before is that I would like to draw my remarks to a close early enough this afternoon to allow time for questions or for comments, as the case may be. I mention it now so that you could at least give some thought to it as you are listening in the meantime. But quite a number of questions have been addressed to me during the week, and I would only ask if possible that the questions should not lead us away from Isaiah, but be directed towards helping us to open up the book and to find in it our Lord Jesus Christ. Now we have, for the purpose of this afternoon's meeting as I have said, we have omitted the section which begins with chapter 48, 49 rather, and ends with chapter 57. We shall speak about these, if the Lord will, this evening, but we all understand how they complete the marvelous picture begun in the earlier chapters when the Servant of the Lord appears, and this ultimately turns out to be one of the most heart-moving representations of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, that the Word of God contains. And it brings us, after this confession and repentance by God's earthly people, it brings them once again, as they've been brought many times in the promise of the prophet, to the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Now the chapters that we have read, from which we have read this afternoon, and which we shall be considering, that is chapters 58 to 66, it will be necessary for us to do as we have done for previous sections, and that is consider what is the background to them. We saw that we took a great deal of care to see what were the backgrounds to the sections composing the first 39 chapters, that is book 1 of the prophet Isaiah, and we gave quite a deal of care yesterday to seeing what was the circumstances, the background, lying behind the first nine chapters of the book of Isaiah, Isaiah book 2. And it's necessary to ask this question about this section also. And the answer is that as we read it through, we find that it is almost entirely independent of background circumstances, except for one particular verse or couple of verses, it might have occurred anywhere within the times covered by the prophet. And that one section, that one little collection of verses, which perhaps supplies us with the means of saying what kind of time these verses are to be understood to refer to, is chapter 64, verses 10 and 11. Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy, our beautiful house, where our father's praise be, is burned up with fire, and all our pleasant things are laid waste. Perhaps we would not be surprised at the general air of sadness and intense longing and prayer that permeates these chapters if we were to take it, that they apply to some part of the time when Israel were captive in Babylon, and their holy and beautiful city lay desolate and burned with fire. Many words are addressed by the prophet to the people who would be willing to listen to him, who were captives in Babylon, and this is a part of them. Now from this point we must plunge straightaway into an attempt to go through these chapters from chapter 58, and once again I would ask you to open your Bibles and bend your heads and put your eyes on the page, and because I shall not be able to read many of the passages concerned, we are going to go through these chapters together and try to seize the general import of them, and the general message which comes through to God's people of those days, with all the time words that can be applied directly to ourselves, and words which present to us the Lord Jesus Christ. I see this is in fulfillment of our declared objective of opening up the book of Isaiah, and in particular to find therein that which will feed our souls and cause our hearts to burn the things concerning himself. So we begin with chapter 58, and in chapter 58 we find that the Lord is denouncing amongst his people a spurious superficial observance of fasts and sabbaths in a manner which does not please him, because it is with the spirit that elsewhere spoken of as being they are drawn near to him with their lips, but their hearts are far from him. Verse 2, He seek me daily and delight to know my ways as a nation that did righteousness, and forsake not the ordinance of their God. Verse 3, Wherefore have we fasted, saith they, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our souls, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife, and debate, and to smite with a fist of wickedness. Ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is this a fast that I have chosen? And so on the Lord is remonstrating with his people, but they are devoting themselves to the superficial observances of religion, whereas their hearts were far from him. But on the other hand, when the time comes that their light breaks forth as the morning, in verse 8, in the end, then they will truly keep his sabbaths, and they will truly devote themselves to obedience to his law. Verse 13, If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable, and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, and so on, then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord. If they, with their hearts in subjection to him, and seeking his will, if they kept his ordinances, then they would delight themselves in the Lord. What a wonderful promise to them. In chapter 59, once again, the Lord denounces the fact that the fact that they are in oppression and desolation is not because the Lord's hand is shortened. Whenever the people of God feel under it, feel overcome and defeated, and cast down and desolate, it is not because the heart of God has changed. It is not because the heart of the Lord has changed, but it says here, your iniquities have separated between you and God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. The Lord, whatever may be the covenant relationship between himself and his people, can never tolerate acknowledged, known iniquity and sin amongst his people. It must be the cause of separating them in heart from himself. There is in fact an extremely vivid picture here, which I think forms the background to the armour of God, the whole armour of God in Ephesians chapter 6. It begins in verse 14, and the Lord is describing the way in which their behaviour is hateful to himself. It's a vivid picture of a city, and people watching at the gate. Verse 14, judgment is turned away backward, justice standeth afar off, truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter, truth faileth, and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey, and the Lord saw it and so on. Now you see there, once again, very vivid, these things, in a very vivid way, these qualities that the Lord requires in his people in all times are personified. And when the people have allowed themselves to be separated from God by their iniquities, then these things are turned away from the city of God and the community of God's people. Justice is turned away, judgment is turned away, truth lies wounded in the street, and equity cannot get in, and truth faileth. Now what a deplorable situation this is amongst the people of God. But when we come to a little later, verse 17, after there is deploring that there was previously no intercessor, therefore the Lord's arm brought salvation unto him, and his righteousness it sustained him. Verse 17, what does the Lord do when these qualities that he loves are excluded from his people? He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head. He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak, according to their deeds, accordingly he will repay. Fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies, to the islands he will repay recompense. So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. Now this is a very wonderful picture of the Lord coming in with the armor of light on the right hand and upon the left. The qualities that go together to make his name and his fame, he's armed with these. And this ensures that evil will be put down, and the kingdom of light and truth will be established. And I suppose we are clearly to take this verse 17 as being the real background of the armor of God. If we want to be with God, and like him, then we also shall want to put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon heads, and so on. In the case of God, they had to come first, as we shall see a little later, vengeance, but then the restoration of those who feared his name. In chapter 60, we have a song of Zion and its future salvation, right through. Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Whenever the Lord comes, when the time comes for him to put on these weapons, this armor, and intervene, and that time will result in a time of real blessing for the Lord's people. Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising, and so on, right through to the end of the chapter, it deals in this way. And then in chapter 61, there is the fulfillment of a verse at the end of chapter 59 that says, and the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob saith the Lord. Now this, is the verse quoted in Romans chapter 11, but in chapter 61, it's not surprising that we have the person of the Messiah introduced here. And he speaks, the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, and sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, and so on, as our brother read to us. Now, the two passages that Mr. Bajer read to us are joined together, as we can easily see, by the recurrence of a phrase, which you've already heard, in the middle of verse 2, the day of vengeance of our God. So the predominant character is that this Messiah, who had brought such good tidings and comfort for the mourners, has now come for the day of vengeance. And we have the same expression, when the day of vengeance is more clearly here, in chapter 63, verse 4, the day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. Because in the circumstances of his people Israel, the time of vengeance, the answer to the cry that the blood of Christ arouses for vengeance upon such deeds, it is also the time of liberation and salvation for the people of God. In between, we have one of the marks of these closing chapters, which present to us the spirit that the Prophet, and the Lord God by the Prophet, wishes to leave with his people in response to all the wonderful things that have been disclosed to them. And that is in chapter 62, the most fervent prayer by the Prophet, in view of the blessing that's to come. For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And it goes on to speak of the time that is being prayed for. Verse 6 is a very special verse I hope to come back to. I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day or night. Ye that make mention of the Lord keep not silence, and give him no rest till he establish, until he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. So the Prophet, for the people, is praying for the moment when by the intervention of God, salvation comes, and the righteousness of Zion shines forth as the morning. In the latter part of chapter 63, beginning at verse 15, we have another most intensive outburst of prayer. You see, I said already that the people are reminded, those who are the Lord's remembrances, those who make mention of the Lord, they're not to keep silence. And we have this wonderful example of the deep and burning intensity of the desire that these things are awakened in the heart of God's people. This is the kind of spirit that such things are intended to arouse in the spirits of the people of God. The burning intensity of this prayer could never be surpassed. Verse 15 of chapter 63, Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness, where is thy zeal and thy strength? Verse 16, Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not. Thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer. Thy name is from everlasting. And then right on to the end of chapter 64, the first verse of chapter 64, All that thou wilt render heavens. Every one of the children of God in all ages who have prayed in times of difficulty have sometimes felt that the heavens are as brass, and the heavens are like a closed door preventing access. But of course this isn't true, there is access. And this prayer asks that the Lord will burst the dome of heaven and appear as a savior. Thou wilt render heavens, and thou wilt come down, that the mountains may fall down at thy coming. And then the prayer, the person praying, reminds God of interventions in times past. Since the beginning of the world, men have not heard nor perceived by the ear. Neither hath the eye seen, O God, besides thee what he has prepared for them that waiteth for him. I just pause to say that this is the verse quoted in 1 Corinthians chapter 2. But in verse 8, But now, O Lord, thou art our Father, we are the clay. Verse 9, Be not wroth, very sore, O Lord, neither remember our iniquity forever. We beseech thee, we are all thy people. Verse 12, Wilt thou refrain thyself of these things, O Lord? Wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore? Now, surely one of the great lessons, and I repeat, I hope to come back to this, of such a passage as this, is the deep intensity of desire after the Lord, and after his intervention, for the putting down of every four of his people, and for their bringing them into the full light of their blessing. That spirit is represented for us here in this prayer of the prophet for the blessing of God. And then, in verse chapter 65 and 66, the last chapters, we have the Lord's answer to that prayer. I am sought of them that ask not for me, I am found of them that sought me not. We know also that these verses are quoted in Romans. But the Lord still explains to them that it is not with him that there's been the distance. I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good after their own thoughts. A people that provoketh me to anger continually, and so on. But, although there are, verse 7, your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills, therefore will I measure their former work unto their bottom. But in the end, God would intervene. Verse 13, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye who persist in resisting the Lord, ye shall be hungry. My servants shall drink, that ye shall be thirsty. My servants shall rejoice, that ye shall be ashamed, and so on. Now the only striking thing here, because the great subject of the first 18 chapters of the book of Isaiah, is the single person called the Servant of the Lord, who has undertaken on behalf of the Lord this great work of salvation, and has carried it through. He has borne the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. He's the Servant of the Lord. He replaced Israel as the failed Servant of the Lord. But the wonderful thing about the end of this book, is that the character of that person is reproduced in those amongst the people who hear his word, and are before the Lord in humility and contrition. And that applies to us. Quite clearly, we had the verse yesterday, in 2nd Timothy, chapter 2, the Servant of the Lord must not strive. Now I could not be persuaded myself, that there isn't a direct reference in that expression, 2nd Timothy, to the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah. Especially when it said, he should not strive, nor cry, nor lift up his voice in the streets. The Servant of the Lord must not strive, but be up to teach, in meekness instructing them that oppose themselves. In other words, for those who do heed the word of the Lord, for those who really are converted to him in repentance and faith in his people, they are given the privilege of replacing the character, representing the character of that great Servant of the Lord, and continuing his character, representing it here upon earth. This, the remnant of Israel separated, my servants should be blessed, but ye who refuse should be outside. And then right on into the New Testament, where we know very well that the remnant of Israel was the nucleus of the church, so we have the Servant of the Lord must not strive. It's therefore our privilege, when we read of these chapters, it is our privilege to recognize ourselves in some tiny measure as being, representing the character of the Lord Jesus, as being the Servant of the Lord. In verse 17, we have the most remarkable part of the promises of the Old Testament, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. That is to be an absolutely new beginning for the earthly blessing of those who have, who are receiving the blessing of God in a new heavens and a new earth. And at that time, there will be the kind of blessing that has been promised throughout this book. The wolf and the lamb, verse 25, shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock, and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord. When we think of the days in which we live, and you and I might be sometimes tempted, as I confess I am, and I expect you are, and I've heard many people, truly the people of God, who are tempted to turn aside to do something about the frightful corruption that's involved in the horrible violence of the days in which we live. Should we be tempted to turn aside to do nothing, to do something? No indeed. No indeed. Our work is to present the gospel of Christ, the power of God unto salvation, that gives men and women a new life, and sets them with Christ apart from the world. Does that mean we are careless about the needs of the world? It does not. But we are absolutely certain that the time will come when the nations will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. We are quite certain the time will come when the nations will learn war no more, but we leave it to Him, our Saviour. In His good time He will put all things right, and in the meantime it's our privilege to represent His message by the gospel. When His time comes, when we think of our world, think of these words, they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain. In verse 2 of chapter 66, there is an echo of the verse in chapter 57 that Mr. Beatty read for us, to which I hope to come back. Very striking verse, appealing to the hearts of the saints, I'm sure. In verse 2 in the middle, to this man will I look. For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord. But to this man will I look, even to him that is a poor and contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. And so on we have the time of blessing brought, and I sometimes think as I contemplate the end of this book, although at the very end we have a reminder, as we have in the book of Revelation at the end, that the punishment, the fire that falls upon the ungodly is everlasting fire. Yet we have a wonderful representation of what it's all directed to. Just go back in thought for a moment to Isaiah chapter 53, which we haven't yet considered in detail. By his stripes we are healed. That's what the remnant of God's people in the future day will say. By his stripes we are healed. And in the end, those people who are healed are sent out into all the world with a new gospel to preach. Verse 19, I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to tarshish, pull, blood, that draw the bow, and so on. They shall declare my glory among the Gentiles. Those who have been healed and blessed, they are sent out into the world. What's the end of it all? Is that going out with the gospel that belongs to their time, declaring the glory of the Lord, is that the end of the matter? No, the true end of the matter is in verse 23. It shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. The true worship of Jehovah is the end to which all the disclosures and all that we have about God and his Christ, the true end of such revelations is, that they should be spread abroad amongst all flesh. The true worship of Jehovah in his holy mountain of Jerusalem. And so it is with us. We are to be devoted to the gospel. We are to be like those whose feet are swift and beautiful upon the mountains with the gospel of peace. If we have forgiven, been forgiven, then it's our privilege to declare the message of forgiveness through the Savior's blood to all the world. But this is not the end of the matter. This is not the end in itself, but just as all the wonders of this book end in all flesh, worshiping Jehovah at the holy mount of Jerusalem, so so far as we are concerned, in our time and place, if we are cleansed and forgiven, we are indeed sent out into all the world to preach the gospel. But let us never forget that the end of the matter is that the Father seeketh those who will worship him in spirit and in truth. And we can easily read our own Christian New Testament truth into these words when we find that the end of it is that all flesh comes up to the holy mountain of Jerusalem to worship Jehovah. Now let us turn back to, just for a few minutes, to one or two, what I have previously called one or two highlights, and in particular the verses that we have, from which we are given a title to this afternoon's meeting, in chapter 61 and chapter 63. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord hath anointed me. Now we often use the term Messiah, and we have given a title here, the Anointed One, but here we have the Messiah, because as we all know the word Messiah means the Anointed One. The Redeemer who has come to Zion is the Messiah. And it's a very remarkable the way, even though the activity of the moment, so far as the setting of these chapters is concerned, even though the activity of the moment is the day of vengeance of our God, is it possible that God should altogether overlook the fact that the hands of wicked men have been placed upon his beloved Son? He has been scorned and despised and crucified and cast out of the world. Well, first of all, that precious blood of Christ speaks better things than that of Abel. It speaks mercy to all who will hear and repent and believe. And we can thank God that most of us here today have indeed heard that the blood of Christ has spoken to us better things than the blood of Abel. But when in God's long-suffering love has lingered over the world and the day of salvation is complete, be assured, and let all the world be assured, that the day of vengeance will come. And in that one who spoke these words in his own city of Nazareth in Galilee, the time will come when the day of vengeance will be in his heart. The first verses certainly specify the person and the grace of that person. I've often thought of the dramatic situation in Nazareth of Galilee that day. Now, Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth, he wasn't only the son of the carpenter of Nazareth. I think it is in Mark that he is called the carpenter of Nazareth. Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth, went into the synagogue, and they delivered him the book to read. And I have every reason to believe that the portion designated in the ordinary course of reading for that day was this verse from Isaiah chapter 61. And the very words of the Messiah himself uttered these words, the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me. Who would have thought, when we asked the question in Isaiah 61, why is it the first person? Why does the Messiah speak? Because the time would come when he would take the very words upon his lips and say, the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he has, oh, beautiful words, he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, the opening of prison to them that are bound. We are told that he delivered the book up again and sat down. And then we can imagine the blank incredulity with which these faithless men heard the words, this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. There isn't the slightest doubt in anybody who reads this Bible how these words were fulfilled. They were fulfilled at that very moment in Nazareth of Galilee and the synagogue when Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth, said, this day are these words fulfilled in your ears. And he proceeded to manifest forth in words of grace and deeds of mighty power. He proceeded to demonstrate the good tidings to the meek and the binding up of the brokenhearted by his word, and the proclaiming of liberty to the captives, and the opening of prison to them that are bound. It was then the acceptable year of the Lord. But you see, it is in the light of our knowledge, after the event that we know, that all the long extent as it has turned out of the church period comes between the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God. Don't let us forget that day of vengeance of our God was the manner and the moment of the liberation of God's people from Soldom. That day of vengeance was upon those who held them captive. That day of vengeance was upon those who had persecuted them and destroyed them. And therefore, the day of vengeance of our God was not only the day of vengeance, but it was the day of salvation and the day of liberation for his people. And we have to reckon, and it is very well indeed that we have to reckon with the fact that God's arm is not shortened, that God can deal with the evil, the violence and corruption that's in the world. It's a heartbreaking thing to contemplate, but on the other hand, what a stabilizing thing it is to contemplate that God will and can, can and will deal with the violence and corruption that's in the world. We look around and we see it in our own country and we see it in other countries. How is it possible to find a person wise enough to know how to reconcile in the seemingly equal claims of conflicting parties? Where's the wisdom going to come from? And if it's done, who's going to have the power to put in an execution? And who's going to be able to rule with judgment and with equity? Well, we have it all here. Our Savior is the wonderful Counselor and the mighty God, as well as having the compassion of the Everlasting Father, and he is the Prince of Peace. And therefore, we shouldn't be stumbled or amazed at the fact that he is here represented as treading the winepress of the wrath of God upon earth in order that the guilt of man might be avenged and that his people might be liberated. The figure of the winepress, as we all know, which comes alongside the figure of the grain harvest in the Revelation, the grain harvest is a discriminating judgment. It's so presented to us by the Lord Jesus Christ. There will be gathered out that which is good and there will be the destruction of that which is evil. But the winepress is the casting of the whole mass into the winepress and it's trampled with judgment. And that's the figure that's given to us here. In chapter 63, it is as though you have a watchman at the gates of Jerusalem. And he says, who is this who is coming from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah? Edom, we have already had, and Bozrah, in chapter 34. We won't take the time now to refer to them, but we have had them. Edom and Bozrah, these are the places where the enemies of God's people in the immediately surrounding countries will be brought down and trampled on the foot and brought to acknowledge that the Lord is God. Armageddon is the place where the Western powers and their head will be brought to nothing. The valley of Jehoshaphat, the valley of decision, may be the place where the king of the North or the Assyrian is brought down. But here in Edom and Bozrah is the place where these nations immediately surrounding Palestine, who have been so treacherous at various times to the people of God, it's there that they in the end will be brought to destruction. And he comes from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah. Who is this glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength? Although the moment is one of judgment, doesn't the majesty of the words appeal to us, describing the majesty of our Saviour? Who is this that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength? The answer, the answer, I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. That reminds us that this destruction is a destruction to result in salvation. We often take those two words and use them for our salvation. He's mighty to save, we say, and we do it rightly. But in their setting, it means that he's mighty to save his earthly people by the destruction of their enemies by his righteousness and his judgment and his equity and truth. I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. I'm the one who's coming from Edom. Verse two, wherefore art thou red in thine apparel and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine fat? Answer, I have trodden the wine press alone and of the people there was none with thee. Verse four, for the day of vengeance is in my heart and the year of my redeemed is come. Verse six, and I will tread down the peoples, not the people, the peoples who immediately surrounded the land of Israel. I will tread down the peoples in mine anger and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth. How much on the one hand we must rejoice at the fact that violence and corruption and evil will ultimately here upon this earth be dealt with by our Savior. But it's all in order that he may go on to speak of the loving kindness of the Lord. Now I have just two other points that I want to draw your attention to. I've mentioned them already. In chapter 62, verses six and seven, this is part of the call to prayer. But in verse six, it says, I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day or night. Now let us read the margin. Ye that are the Lord's remembrances, keep not silence and give him no rest till he establish and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Well, this is a most striking call to prayer and a most striking indication of the kind of rationale, the true spiritual rationale of prayer. We must not think that we can change the mind of the Lord by our importunity, that we can fix our minds on some particular thing and decide to pray for this and change the mind of the Lord. The Lord's remembrances, those who really continue steadfast in prayer in this day, the Lord's remembrances were the people who knew what God desired to do and entered into fellowship with him by giving him no rest day or night until his purposes are established. And although the matter comes to us in a more spiritual guise, yet did it not strike you that this is a very lovely word to us? Ye that are the Lord's remembrances, keep not silence, give him no rest until he establish, until he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Of all the verses, and there are many verses, and there are difficulties, as no one knows better than I do, there are difficulties about the rationale of prayer. We don't need to worry too much about being able to understand them, but it seems to me that one of the most striking lights upon prayer is the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, if ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done for you. In other words, the conditional prayer is given us, we shall certainly ask what we will, but it supposes that we are abiding in Christ. And if we are abiding day by day and moment by moment in Christ, and his word is abiding with us, then what we will will be what he wills. And this great miracle will have taken place that God has produced in my heart and your heart, in the ordinary details of life, a request that is according to his will. And then we are to remind him of that request. Whatever we may think about the rationale of this, ye that are the Lord's remembrance, keep not silence until he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. And one of the great messages that I suggest that we might take away from this prophet Isaiah is this verse, ye that are the Lord's remembrances, keep not silence. Let us read over, when we go away, the burning intensity of desire that is in this prayer of chapter 60. For all that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, now that dost deliver thy people in days of old, all that thou wouldst come down and deliver us now, ye that are the Lord's remembrances, keep not silence. About all the details of what the Lord has promised us in our individual daily lives, of all that the Lord has established and given us to understand about his will regarding the church in the present and in the future, we must never weary in prayer. In the old and new testament, for the people of God in all ages, when all is said and done, it comes back to a call to prayer. No Mohammedan Muezzin from the minaret of the mosque ever gave a more constant call that comes to us from holy scripture, in answer to the things that God has revealed, ye that are the Lord's remembrances, keep not silence, and he will make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Now finally, you see I'm casting a side eye on the clock this time. Finally, I want to put together these two verses in chapter 57. I'll read it again because it's so short. Thus saith the high and lofty one that inhabited eternity, whose name is holy, I dwell in the high and holy place with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit. And the second verse of chapter 66, so closely parallel, to this man will I look, even to him that is of a poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. One of the things that I failed to mention, of many things that I failed to mention, is that one of the predominant names of God used by Isaiah is this, the holy one of Israel. It's used about 30 times altogether, almost equally divided between books one and two, and one of the marks that they were both written by the same prophet Isaiah, although the subjects are so widely differentiated in time and in subject. The holy one of Israel, and here he speaks to himself as the high and lofty one that inhabited eternity, whose name is holy. I suppose the root idea of God's holiness is the fact that he's separate. Separate in the incomparable majesty that he has declared, for example, in the 40th chapter. Separate in his utter rejection and distance from all that is unclean and evil. This is the God revealed from cover to cover of the book of God. He's the holy one. He inhabits eternity. I read a very striking sentence about this, which I will endeavor to give to you verbatim. Man might be said to inhabit three score years and ten. Call on him during that time when you will, and you may find him at home. But then he is gone, and his place knows him no more. But Jehovah dwells and is alive from everlasting to everlasting. I am the high and lofty one. I dwell in eternity. There never will be a moment when God is inaccessible to us. We may knock at the door of our closest friend and find that they're not available. And in the end, a man's place knows him no more, and those who have looked to him for help cannot find it. But here is one of whom he says in this context that he inhabits eternity. But there's one other place where he dwells. One other place where he dwells. Be it that we take into account all the truth about the dwelling place of God in time and eternity, all the truth about the church in which dwells God by the Spirit, this remains true. There's one other place that God dwells in, and that is with him who is of a humble and contrite spirit. If you and I desire to take anything away from this book which is really of God, and we want to be close to him and realize his dwelling with us, then that which ever comes to us from all parts of scripture is that God resists the proud. Oh, how much of pride, how much of self-importance is mixed in with the very best that is in our hearts as the fruit of the Spirit. You know, we are creatures of such terribly mixed motives. One sometimes tries to analyze the action of ourselves or another and say, he did it for so-and-so, he did it because of so-and-so. The fact of the matter is not only is it impossible for us to analyze the motives of others, but nothing is ever done from a pure motive. Nothing is ever done, so long as we're here in creatures of flesh and blood, with the very best of motives in our hearts, there will always be that whisper of pride and self-importance. But God, by the example of him who was meek and lowly in heart, he took the lowly place and he did not resist when others gave him the lowly place. By the contemplation and the feeding upon him who is meek and lowly in heart, we shall by this means and no other be of a humble and contrite spirit. And if we turn over to chapter 66, what else does it say? What have we got to do about this word that we've been reading? How often we might be satisfied with being informed in our minds and having a clear outline of truth and a proper understanding of the skeletal structure of the truth presented by the Word of God. All this is good, but amongst many other manners of response and manners of reception that is here suggested and enforced to us is this, that we tremble at this word. If God is going to deal with evil, if God resists and hates evil, he hates it in you and me. And it's therefore necessary for us right to the end of our days that we go on as well as begin in what the scripture truly means by the fear of the Lord, and we want to be amongst those who tremble at the Word of God. This is what God says, and we'll leave it at this for this afternoon. I am the holy, high, and lofty one that inhabits eternity, but with this man also who is of a humble and contrite spirit and trembles at my word. Now, as far as I understand what I said to the sisters who asked me what time to have tea, there is at least 20 minutes or so when we could deal with questions relating to any part of the book of Isaiah. I said to you at an earlier stage, there are very many things I don't understand about it, and more than ever I feel the danger of exposing myself to questions, but it isn't only questions, it's contributions of any kind we may have, and we will seek humbly to speak of them together. So please let us spend these few minutes in questions and perhaps suggestions about the prophet Isaiah. I don't need somebody to give us a start, and we shall never be able to stop. We've lived, some of us, to see Judea restored and other powers come into existence, but we don't see much of the Assyrian world. Can you give us any light on that? I did mention before, and would like to say it again for the sake of those who were not here, that if we remember what we have previously talked about in Daniel chapter 11, which talked to us about the kings of the north and the king of the south, we read there at the very end, before the coming of Christ, of a sweeping invasion from the north, and when we were reading the first 39 chapters of this book, we realized that this is exactly what is said of the Assyrian in the future day. The Assyrian scourged the people of God in the past, in the days of Ahaz and Hezekiah, but we also read that when the Lord has finished his whole work, he's going to deal with the Assyrians. Therefore, the Assyrian is one of the evil personages of the last days, and we, for the time being, took it that he was synonymous with the king of the north. But he's one of those who will come streaming down upon Palestine for the crisis immediately preceding the coming of the Lord. Now, your question, Mr. Irwin, is that although we see the other nations, many of them, on our maps and on the headlines, that is Egypt and Israel and Syria, for example, we don't yet see the name Assyria on the headlines or in the news. That's the particular point it is. Well, the Assyrian area, whether we regard it as being in the time of Isaiah or whether we regard it as being in the time of Daniel chapter 11, when he was first of all speaking, then there was a great arc, a great curve of territory, which began in the east in what we now call Iraq and curved away to the north and then came down from the north onto Palestine. Now, the particular part of that great curve coming over from Syria in the east, Mesopotamia, the particular part of that curve which comes down to impinge upon Israel was from the time between the testaments called Syria. So for our purpose, the name Syria is the name of that part of the ancient Assyria which actually touches on the people of Israel. So that the present picture that we have of Israel being threatened not only by Egypt from the south but by Syria from the north is the thing that's in line with this. Now, considering that the scripture talks about the king of the north and the scripture talks about the Assyrian and the scripture talks about Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshach, and Tubal, there are various names that are used in describing in prophetic terms this great power who will sweep down from the north. We already, it is suggested, and I believe it myself, we already see the name Rosh in Russia. We already see the name Syria, and it could very well be that this is the nearest that we shall ever get to the word Assyria, both historically and in language. They're both very closely associated with each other. It's not the nearest we shall see, but it is possible, of course, just as in so miraculous a way others of these ancient names have reappeared, Assyria may do so. We wouldn't be surprised if it did, but because of the variety of names used in scripture for this great power, it may be that one of the others will still be the predominant name. The point is this, if we, am I making it clear? I did think of using maps, but I haven't done so. If we think of starting our sight of the map in the upper part of Mesopotamia, coming up in Iraq, that is the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates, we think of a curve of land coming over and coming down onto the Mediterranean seaboard and impinging upon Israel. Well, both in ancient times and in the times of Daniel, that is the time of Alexander the Great, this was one kingdom, it was one authority, and it was all called Assyria, after the part of it that really originated in Mesopotamia. But for the part of it, immediately in contact with Israel, the name Syria, the Greek name Syria, was invented in the time between the Testaments, taken presumably from the word Assyria, but it was invented to represent that particular part of the ancient Assyrian power which directly impinged upon the land of Israel. So without doubt, both by language and by geography, the two names are very closely associated with each other. Yes? Yes, there's a confusion here which is easy enough to explain, but you have to take it away and think about it. The Old Testament word Syria, you see, is the word that the translators used because they lived after Alexander's time. But the Old Testament word which is translated Syria is Aram, and we ought completely to forget Syria in the Old Testament in the context of the Syria that is now attacking and is to be part of this Assyrian power. It's just one of these strange language confusions that the Old Testament word Aram was seen to represent that bit of territory, and therefore the translators called it Syria. But there's absolutely no justification except for the usage of hundreds of years afterwards for doing so. The Bible name for the place where Naaman lived is Aram and not Syria. But that's not an easy point to take, and I think a little bit of reflection upon it will be needed. I should like to ask a question. You referred us in Isaiah 28 to what you said was a covenant which the Jews would make for the Assyrians, the king of the north, under the heading of your covenant with death and with love. You also made a remark of the effect in these prophecies, you often get a leap forward, and whilst there might have been a partial fulfillment historically of the king of the north and his historical past, would you agree, or would you not, that Isaiah 28 would look on to the day when a treaty should be made between the Jews under the king of the east and the north? Yes, Mr. Anderson, this must have been one of the moments when I was spluttering with eagerness, because you've misheard me, I'm afraid. What I said was that they made a covenant with death, and then in brackets, so to speak, Egypt, not Assyria. They made a covenant with Egypt against Assyria, but the Spirit of God does not say Egypt. All the surroundings of the passage would give us to understand it was Egypt to which they were looking for help from Assyria. But I believe the very reason why the Spirit of God doesn't say Egypt, it says a covenant with death and a covenant with hell, is because it has not only this reference to the past, but it has a reference to the future. The people were in wickedness and unbelief relying upon a covenant, both in the past and in the future. In the past it was Egypt, in the future, as you say, it will certainly be Rome. And I think that's why it doesn't specify. They were relying upon a covenant, and it's that fact that they were relying upon a covenant or a treaty in a complete lack of fidelity and confidence and trust in the Lord that is the thing deplored, one might say, there. They were relying upon a covenant, a treaty, instead of trusting in the Lord, when in quietness and confidence they could have had their strength. So with a little bit of explanation of what I'm afraid I must have spluttered out somewhat indistinctly, I do entirely agree with what you say. And the prophetic leap forward is what is given first in beautiful language in Isaiah 25. Yes, yes. Now, this, Mr. Anderson, I'm very delighted with this point because it's one of the things I had to miss out, and I should love to get you to turn to Isaiah 25 and have a look at what it says there, all of us, Isaiah chapter 25. It's talking, of course, about the future kingdom, and it's after the various passages in which the prophet is dealing with the surrounding nations, and the chapters before it talks about the Lord making the earth empty and the Lord reigning, the last verse of chapter 24, the Lord reigning on Mount Zion. And then the prophet turns to praise the Lord in chapter 25, he praises the Lord on behalf of his people. And in verse 6, in this mountain, now that means the mountain which is the future kingdom, the millennium, the kingdom of Christ, in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the leaves, and so on. Verse 7, in this mountain he shall destroy the face of the covering cast over all people and the veil that is spread over all nations. Then verse 8, he will swallow up death in victory. First Corinthians 15, the full meaning given to it, he shall swallow up death in victory. The Lord God shall wipe away tears from off all faces. This is twice quoted in the New Testament, and what a lovely statement of the end, one facet of the end to which our God is working, what no other power has ever been able to bring about. There have been comforts here and there in the mercies of God for the sorrowful and the weary, but no one has ever conceived of such a thing except the word of God, that he will wipe away all tears from off all faces. There will be no more crying, no more tears, no more sadness. The Lord God shall wipe away all tears from off all faces. This is the kind of God in whom we trust. And the prophet puts into the people, the mouth of the people, the response in verse 9, and it shall be said in that day, they will say, Lord this is our God. We have waited for him. You know, without the slightest doubt, this is what we want to say for ourselves. What are we doing about the sadness in the world and the injustice? We are preaching the gospel of peace, the gospel of peace and life and freedom. But we are preaching the gospel of one who is absolutely certainly going to wipe away all tears from off all eyes. And when the time comes with these people, we can well be able to say, lo, this is our God. We have waited for him and we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. I think it's one of the most wonderful passages in Isaiah, to think that we can ourselves rejoice in the fact, in the character and the aims and the heart and the power of the God for whom now we are waiting while we seek to please him and to serve him in his gospel and in all the ways that he puts to us. This is our God. We have waited for him and we shall be glad and rejoice in his salvation. I think you're quite right, Mr. Anderson, and I'm very pleased that you have drawn our attention to that very wonderful passage. This is our God. This is the kind of God of whom we shall never have cause to be ashamed, that instead of putting out our own efforts to rectify things in the world, we have waited for him. Yes, it could be, the veil there could be, the fact that the knowledge of God is hidden from them as well as all these other things, death and tears. Then this could be, I quite agree, connected with the fact that there's a veil over those who don't believe, and it's for this reason that they do not know this God for whom we wait. Thank you. No other question for a last one? Well, let us close our meeting this afternoon with hymn number 318. O Lamb of God, still keep us close to thy piercing side. It is only there in safety and peace we can abide. With foes and snares around us, and lusts and fears within, the grace that sought and found us alone can keep us clean. Number 318. …
… We are going to read together Isaiah chapter 52 verse 13 to the end of 53. Isaiah 52 Isaiah 52 verse 13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently. He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. As many were astonished at thee, his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men. So shall he sprinkle many nations. The kings shall shut their mouths at him. For that which had not been told them, they shall see. And that which they had not heard, they shall consider. Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall go up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground. He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from him. He was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. 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. 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. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is done, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death. Because he hath done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him, he hath put him to grief. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied. By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoiled with the strong. Because he hath poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, and he bear the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. For the beginning of our meeting this evening, I should like to go right back to the very beginning. At the point where we started last Tuesday evening, in going over again the story of those two who were walking out from Jerusalem to Emers, seven miles. They were accustomed to walking, but this particular afternoon, the third day after Jesus died, their feet were led and their hearts were stoned. And we can very well imagine them with their faces lined with sorrow, and trudging along with their heads together, and talking with each other about their sorrow. And so engrossed were they in this that they didn't see a stranger who came, and coming alongside them, fell in step and joined in the conversation. What can be the things that you're talking about to make you, Luke, so sad? And the stranger said, What things? And they stopped and said, You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem these days who hasn't heard about the things that are happening there. And he said again, What things? And they said, The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene. We had hoped that he would be the deliverer of Israel, but our rulers delivered him up to the Romans, and he was crucified. And all this took place three days ago. But this morning, some of our women made us very surprised by saying they'd been along to the sepulchre, and they had found it empty. And someone else, the men had gone to see, and they came back and said that they'd seen an angel who had said to them that Jesus was not there. He was risen, and it was very true that they did not find his body. And that's the rest of the astonishing story that we have to tell. And the stranger said to them, Oh, how foolish, how slow you are to believe those very scriptures that you've been telling me about. You said that they had led you to think that he would be the redeemer who would deliver Israel. And beginning at the beginning of the scriptures in the book of Genesis, he went through all the Bible, telling them of the things concerning himself. By this time, the afternoon had worn on, and they said it will soon be dark. And although he would have made to go on, they persuaded him to come in with them, and they soon had a meal ready. But then they got the last big surprise, because the stranger became the host. And he took the food and blessed it and gave to them. And suddenly they knew him. It was Jesus, and in an instant he vanished out of their sight. And they sat looking at each other and said, Did you realize that while he was talking to us, our hearts of stone suddenly began to warm up, and they began to burn with fire. And at that same instant, tired though they were, they arose and they walked back the seven miles to Jerusalem. Now I wonder if you can, like I can, see myself in those two believers trudging along from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They were terribly disillusioned with the faith that they had embraced as they saw things at that moment. And their disillusionment made them sad, and their hearts of stone were so depressing that it gave them feet of lead. Where did they get the energy to walk that seven miles back to Jerusalem? They got it because of the burning heart. And the fact that when Jesus spoke to them, it made their hearts burn within them, by the way. This was what gave them the energy to burn up their disillusionment and to send them back to meet again with the disciples. And very shortly afterwards, in the power of that same heart of burning love, responding to the Lord, they were amongst those who went out into all the world to preach the gospel. And we might well ask ourselves, can we have an experience like that? Do you think that the Lord Jesus Christ included the book of Isaiah in the things in all the scriptures concerning himself? Indeed he did. And what we have prayed for this week, and I am thankful to say that I believe that in some measure the Lord has already granted our request, what we have prayed for is that we might have the burning heart. We ask him to give us the burning heart, to burn up our disillusionment and the fact that we are so often sad and cast down. And to make us, enable us to know him by the way along life's journey. And in the midst, in the church, where there is so much privilege and at the same time often such disappointment. And also out there in the world, to use the language of this book, beautiful upon the mountains are those who preach good tidings of peace. And so what we are aiming for, what we have been aiming for this week, and what we are aiming for and praying for tonight, is just this simple thing that the Lord may make our hearts burn within us as he speaks to us by the way of the things in the scriptures concerning himself. Now we have, in order to attain that aim for which we have asked the Lord, we have tried to go together through the book of Isaiah, to open up the book and especially we have sought to see in it the Lord Jesus Christ himself. And believe it or not, except for these eight chapters, which are the subjects of our meeting this evening, we have dipped into every chapter in the whole book of Isaiah. And I don't know whether you have ever heard of a marathon, but it seems to me that the brothers and sisters who have been here, they have really done a marathon in giving their prayerful attention to dip into every chapter in the book of the prophet Isaiah, seeking to have the book opened up to them and seeking to find the Lord Jesus Christ therein. Now the chapters that surround this central chapter that we have, Mr. Vernon was just reminding me during the interval what I have read before, that if we take the last part, the twenty-seven of the sixty-six chapters of the book, then chapter fifty-three, where our eyes behold the Savior in his suffering love, this is the central chapter of these chapters, and of that chapter itself, if we take the proper confines of it as he read it, then the central verse of that central chapter, and indeed something which every believer must recognize, lies at the very heart of our knowledge of the Lord. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the justicement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. Now regarding these chapters that form this particular section, chapters forty-nine and fifty-seven, I want to contrast this section, just for a few minutes by way of background, with the chapters we had before us on Friday evening, that is chapters forty to forty-eight. In a couple of sentences, in chapters forty to forty-eight, we saw God's people, the Israelites, in the rigors and sorrows and hardships of their captivity in Babylon, and crying to the Lord, thinking that he had forgotten, we saw them unable to look forward to their liberation from that city where they were captives, and their restoration to their holy and beloved city, Zion. We saw that in announcing this to them, the prophet, in announcing this to them, delivering his message from the Lord, he entered into God's controversy with his people when he thought about that backward look, about idols. And we saw that this, although we may not immediately be able to cause a matter to spring to mind, there is always a possible controversy between the Lord and his people about idols. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. I had a letter from a brother in Germany the other day in which he said that one of the causes of the weakness amongst us, is what he said, is the materialism that has swept over the Western world and is adored by everybody. He saw the point. He cannot serve God and mammon. There is a controversy now between God and his people about idolatry. Little children, keep yourselves from idolatry, from whatever takes the place in your love and your devotion and the employment of your time, that only God in Christ Jesus ought to have. The people were taught to look forward in these chapters to their liberation from bondage, and in looking forward, the prophet opened up the controversy that they had forsaken God and they turned to idols. Now in these chapters, and this may surprise you, but I would like to ask you to make an effort to take the point. In these chapters, they're looking backward to Calvary. Have you ever wondered why this story of Isaiah 53 is in the past? He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The reason is that it is primarily the confession and the affliction of soul to which God's earthly people will give expression when they look upon him whom they have pierced, and therefore they're looking back and seeing what they saw in him and confessing their dreadful error, but in the end saying he was wounded for our transgressions and by his stripes we are healed. So they're looking backward to Calvary, and the prophet is opening up a far greater controversy between God and his earthly people in that they rejected the Messiah. When he came to his own people and stood at his own door, they refused him, and this matter had to be gone into between God and his people, and it resulted in this conviction and this confession, and then the fact that through his stripes and their faith in him they were healed. Now that's the general aspect that this section of the book presents to us. It is that God's earthly people are looking backward to Calvary, and they in the end are brought to confess their sins. Now, once again, I must ask you, open your Bibles, chapter 49, and bow your heads to look at them, and please strive to follow with me while I assume that you've got the words under your eyes, and we go through the remaining nine chapters of the prophet Isaiah to complete the tally of 66 chapters of mighty privilege. In chapter 49, Israel speaks first and says that he is Jehovah's servant. He says, Israel says in verse 1, The Lord hath called me from the womb, and in verse 3, And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. Now, one of the difficulties of understanding this book is in the question, who is the servant of the Lord? Again and again, we are assured that the servant of the Lord is Israel, but it's perfectly plain from every word of quotation in the New Testament that the servant of the Lord in these wonderful four servant poems that we've begun to study, the servant of the Lord is undoubtedly the Lord Jesus Christ, undoubtedly the one who came here to do a work on the part of the Lord. He was undoubtedly the one who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities and by whom we can be healed. But at this point is where the explanation occurs and the transition takes place. In verse 3, Israel says, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. In verse 4, Christ speaks and says, I have labored in vain, I've spent my strength anote, yet surely my judgment is with the Lord and my work is with my God. And now saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, there is Emmanuel again, that formed me from the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob again to him. It would very well, might very well be concluded by those with an external view who saw the lifetime of the Lord Jesus Christ upon earth, that he had labored in vain. He had spent his strength anote. It might have looked so, but then the Lord said to him, the true servant, the Lord Jesus Christ, verse 5, Though Israel be not gathered at that time, this emphasizes the backward look, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord and my God shall be my strength. And he was going to be in the future, not only the restorer of the tribes of Jacob, but in the end of verse 6, he was going to be for God's salvation to the end of the earth. In verse 7, he speaks very wonderful words about himself. It says, He was the one whom man despised, whom the nation abhorred. And this was the description of him when he was here amongst men. In verse 8, after the servant poem is finished, the Lord speaks and he indicates that Israel will come from afar and they will come back to Zion. Verse 9, Go forth, he says to them that are in darkness, show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways and their pastures shall be in high places. They shall not hunger or thirst. In verse 12, These shall come from far and lo, these from the north and the west and these from the land of Sinim. In other words, a universal recovery, not only of the Jews, a universal recovery of all God's earthly people in that future time are going to come back to Zion. And then we have a very remarkable part indeed when Zion is likened to an astonished widow who has lost all her children. And she says, verse 18, Lift up thine eyes round about, the Lord says to her rather, Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold, all these gather themselves together and come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee as a bride doth. For thy waste and thy desolate places and the land of thy destruction shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. The children which thou shalt have after thou hast lost the other shall say again in thine ears, The place is too straight for us, give place to me that I may dwell. In other words, Zion is being addressed as a mother bereft of all her children. And then to her astonishment, she suddenly finds children she never dreamt of gathered to her so that her habitation is too small for them. And that is very plainly explained when the Lord addresses her when she says, Who hath begotten these, seeing I have lost my children? Verse 21. The Lord says in verse 22, Behold, I lift up mine hand to the Gentiles and set up my standard to the people and they shall bring thy sons in their arms and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. In other words, the explanation is that God himself has set the nations to restore all the dispersed of Israel back to their mother, Zion. Now in chapter 50, once again, very definitely from the standpoint of that future gathering, the Lord said, Why were you away from me, seeing I did not put you away? Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement whom I have put away? Or to which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? No, he says, it's your iniquities for ye have sold yourselves and your transgressions. Wherefore when I came, was there no man? There's the controversy, you see. When Jehovah, as the humble Nazarene, appeared and spoke to them, when he came, there was no one to answer him. But when we come to verse 4, we find the voice with which the Lord Jesus Christ spake when he came on the part of the Lord to be his servant. Verse 4, The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. Verse 5, Not only his tongue, but his ear. The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the slighters, smiters, and so on. Verse 9, Behold, the Lord God will help me. Now let us notice very particularly the last two verses, in the verse 10 and 11 of chapter 50. Who is among you, this is addressed once again to these restored people, who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light. Let him trust in the name of the Lord and stay upon his God. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled, this shall ye have of mine hand, ye shall lay down in sorrow. So that these people of God, in view of their restoration, they are divided, you see, into some, we know by other passages, the majority, who walk in the light of their own fire and the sparks they had kindled, but there were some who listened to the voice of his servant. And here, we have very plainly, the remnant of the Jews in a future day. We read about them in Matthew 24. We find that just as the disciples were these people in the gospel story, so there will be in the future people in exactly the same situation who will be Jews but believers in Jesus and they will be the remnant through whom God will bless his people in a future day. So just as in Matthew 24 you deal with the disciples of the past and the remnant of the future, the instructions to the disciples of the past become word for word the Lord's instructions to the remnant of the future who will be his disciples immediately prior to the coming of the Lord and then from that point, that remnant here in chapter, beginning in chapter 50 verse 10, that remnant is taken on to the point of their full salvation when they look upon him whom they have pierced. Now, it's a very remarkable piece of symmetrical poetry in which this is done. You notice the three times hearken unto me. Chapter 51 verse 1, verse 4 and verse 7. Three times hearken unto me. The first one says your father Abraham and Sarah they were alone but I increased them until there were many and so that remnant that are only a tiny few when they first believed in the Lord they will be increased until they made a blessing to the whole of God's people. And so the second hearken verse 4 hearken my people a law shall proceed for me and I will make my judgment a rest for a light of the people. My righteousness is near my salvation is gone forth. Verse 6, lift up your eyes to the heavens and look upon the earth for the heavens shall vanish away but my salvation shall be forever and my righteousness shall not be abolished. And lastly in verse 7 hearken unto me and once again it ends by saying my righteousness shall be forever and my salvation from generation to generation. In other words these few tiny few believers of the future who are Jews they're encouraged step by step to establish and increase their faith in the Lord. And then you have three times over awake, awake. Verse 9 of chapter 51 verse 17 of chapter 51 and verse 1 of chapter 52. In verse 9 of chapter 51 it is the arm of the Lord that is addressed. Now this is very important because of the occurrence of the expression the arm of the Lord in chapter 53. To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? What does the arm of the Lord mean? It tells us here awake as in ancient days in the generations of old. These few are calling upon the power that liberated Israel from Egypt to liberate them and to bring them into blessing. Awake O arm of the Lord as in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab or Egypt and wounded the dragon? And so on. They're calling upon the strength of the Lord personified as the arm of the Lord to be their deliverer. And then Zion is addressed in verse 17 and again in verse 52 Zion is addressed. And just see what it says to them there in view of the salvation that's so soon coming. Put on thy beautiful garments O Jerusalem, the holy city. For henceforth thou shalt no more come unto thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust. Arise O Jerusalem. Verse 7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings. What are the good tidings? The good tidings is that the Lord Jesus Christ as the King is reigning that saith unto Zion Thy God reigneth. When that moment comes as far as his earthly people are concerned they shall see eye to eye. They shall sing together when the Lord shall bring again Zion. And so they are called to depart from the place of their dispersion and captivity and to come together. And so we come to the part that we have read Behold my servant shall deal prudently. And there we have the last of these four servant poems. And we have the Lord speaking saying my servant behold my servant oh this is what we want to do this evening we want to look to him we want to behold him we want to contemplate him he'll be exalted and very high. But then Israel speaks and they say who hath believed our report and they're looking back to his earthly life which occupies the first three verses and then in the verses four to six we have this central point where they do recognize the fact that it was for their transgressions just as we can say for our transgressions that he was bruised and by his stripes we were healed and so we find that it goes on to speak about his death and his burial and yet the fact that he shall prolong his days and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand and he shall see of the trouble of his soul and shall be satisfied. Now chapter fifty-four returns again to the idea of Zion as a mother who has been bereft astonished at the restoration of all these children all the people of Israel to her sing oh barren thou that didst not bear break forth into singing and cry aloud thou that didst not trouble this child for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife and this goes on to call them to enlarge the place of their abode to make room for all the children who have been given to her and this goes on to encourage them although they have been afflicted in the past verse eleven for thou afflicted, tossed with tempest and not comforted, behold I will lay thy stones with fair colors and lay thy foundations with sapphires and so to the end no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and the righteous is of me, saith the Lord Now the remaining three chapters fifty-five, fifty-six, and fifty-seven they come, change entirely in order to impress upon God's people the behavior that is in accordance with what God is going to give them and of course there are words that spring out of the page to us take for example in verse two wherefore do you spend money for that which is not bread and your labor for that which satisfieth not it has been said that this might be written large over all the world at the present time and why are you spending your money on that which is not bread and how we need to face such a word as this to make sure that we are not spending the precious currency of our life's treasure upon that which is not bread when there is presented to us old and young the very delights of the bread of God and the bread of life and so it calls upon the people to seek the Lord while he may be found and call upon him while he is near there's a very interesting part which is well known to us in verse eleven so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth it shall not return unto me void but it shall accomplish that which I please and it shall prosper in the thing to which I send it and so we have right on to the end in the last chapter of fifty-seven there is a warning to the wicked the wicked are like the troubled sea when it can't rest whose waters are cast up mire and dirt verse twenty and so to the end there is no peace saith my God to the wicked now I would like to come back and to consider these three servant poems that we have in these chapters in a little more detail very little indeed for the first two but afterwards in more detail as I've said in back to chapter forty-nine in the second of the servant poems the first one being in chapter forty-two then in verse four and five the Lord Jesus Christ substitutes himself for Israel as the Lord's servant now of course there are several parallels for this if we find it difficult in other parts of the word for example when the Lord Jesus Christ says I am the true vine that's a very important parallel because Israel was the vine brought out of Egypt we have had in our own book this song in chapter five of the vine that the Lord planted and how he tended it that it brought forth wild grapes and because it brought forth wild grapes God tore down its fences and the wild boar of the forest tried it and it failed altogether to be the vine for Jehovah's pleasure giving joy to him and when the Lord Jesus Christ said I am the true vine it meant that he took the place of Israel where they had failed and he would not fail in rendering true joy and delight by his fruit to God and to his people or in another case in a similar kind of way concerning the Lord Jesus the evangelist quotes I've called my son out of Egypt rehearsing again the fact that the history of failed Israel is to be taken up and their work is to be done by the one who would not fail but in the meantime although it is certain that he is going to be for God's salvation unto the ends of the earth in the meantime think of these amazing words to him whom man despiseth the Lord said this to him whom man despiseth and to him whom the nation abhorreth to a servant of rulers that's what it was in the past he was despised what a fate what a lot to come to the very king of heaven what a thing to befall the one who came to earth as the father's delight it would have been a terrible thing to say that they rejected him but they set him at naught they made him of no value they despised him the king of heaven the one whom man despiseth that's the estimate of man we can never be sure that the estimate of man is of any worth whom man despiseth to him whom the nation abhorreth then the future will hold that kings shall see and arise and princes shall worship because of the Lord who is faithful and the Holy One of Israel now let us take out of this second of the servant poems this point he is going to raise up the tribes of Judah the middle of verse six and to restore the preserve of Israel it's going to be his work and he won't fail in it and the rest of the verse he's going to be for a light to the Gentiles that he might be God's salvation unto the end of the earth now when we come to the third of the servant poems we find that there is a contrast with the way the Lord can speak he can clothe the heavens with blackness in verse three of chapter fifty he can make sackcloth their covering but when the Lord's servant came verse four the Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary oh right out right beyond stretching to the very bounds where mankind can be found is this that that servant is able to speak here is the tongue of the servant of the Lord he was and he is and he ever will be able to speak a word in season to him that is weary the class of weary is very wide indeed there's physical weariness there's heart weariness there's the weariness of the slave at his toil there's the weariness of those over whom the afflictions of life have trampled and torn their hearts very wide indeed is the class of the weary and some of us here this evening are bound to be feeling ourselves amongst those weary in spirit and cast down it is true and all the thousands and millions of those who've proved him have found that it's true our master, our saviour, our lord to speak a word in season to him that is weary and these sentences that spring out of this old writing to us how many times have there been already words in season to us when we are weary to speak a word in season to him that is weary he wakeneth morning by warning he wakeneth mine ear to hear us the learned we might suppose that the lord Jesus Christ didn't need to learn but we can only take holy scriptures we find it he did increase in wisdom and in stature with God and man he never ceased from his conception and his birth from the manger at Bethlehem he never ceased to be fully God but the same word that assures us that he was Emmanuel, God with us assures us that he increased in wisdom and stature and favour with God and man and this verse tells us that morning by morning morning by morning his ear was opened to hear so that he became the one who had learned oh what a lesson for us we might be able to speak words in season on the part of God to bring words of comfort to the weary that only God himself could bring if only morning by morning by morning our ears are opened so that we may learn the comfort that we could then pass on to others verse 5 the lord God hath opened mine ear and I was not rebellious neither turned away back oh the sadness of the words that speak to us of the way he suffered at the hands of men I gave my back to the smiters and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair I hid not my face from shame and spitting we are so familiar with what happened to the lord Jesus Christ that the wonder of such a prophecy can pass us by seven centuries before he came this is what it says about the saviour the divine comforter the one who will be God's salvation to the ends of the earth he gave his back to the smiters and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair and hid not his face from shame and spitting the lord God will help me therefore shall I not be confounded there have I set my face like a flint and I know I shall not be ashamed it's our habit and it's surprising how wide the habit has become and there's absolutely no harm in it but it's our habit to put together two scriptures one from Isaiah chapter 50 and one from Luke chapter 9 and say and I've surprised more than one Christian looking for the passage that said he set his face like a flint to go to Jerusalem in the gospel story it says when they saw that he was set to go to Jerusalem it's true he was set to go to Jerusalem but the two aren't the same scripture although there's no harm in our putting them together but here it is he set his face as a flint the one who was so gentle the one so ready to comfort the weak he was the one who says he set his face as a flint I remarked when we were speaking about the first servant poem in chapter 42 how he did not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax but he would not fail nor be discouraged till he had set judgment in the earth there is this delightful this lovely combination of tender sympathy for the weak and the suffering and the most gigantic strength when it comes to the establishment of the will of God on earth and in heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ the same one who spoke a word in season the same one who gave his back to the smiters he set his face like a flint when the moment came to go and be offered at Jerusalem in obedience to the will of God as a sacrifice for our sins now turning over to chapter 52 verse 13 to the end of chapter 53 I did remark before how this chapter is really the confession of Israel now although we do deeply desire that our hearts may be reached and touched by this I think a little word of explanation is perhaps permissible I don't know whether you remember the feasts of the Lord in Leviticus chapter 23 you had first of all the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread then we had the Feast of Firstfruits then after fifty days the Feast of Weeks then in the seventh month a new beginning we had the Feast of Trumpets and after this the Day of Atonement when Israel were called to afflict their souls and finally the joy and rejoicing of the Feast of Tabernacles you see how this is very plainly a summary of the prophetic future from that time the Lord Jesus Christ when we think of the Passover we read even Christ, our Passover is sacrificed for us therefore let us eat the feast not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness but the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth all our knowledge of what the cross means is tested by this that we are not to eat the feast all our lives long with the leaven of malice and wickedness but the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth that's what the cross really means for us if we see it for our lives as God sees it then the Feast of Firstfruits represents the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead he's the firstfruits of them that slept the Feast of Weeks which is Pentecost is exactly the moment when the Holy Ghost was given and the church was formed and this concludes you might say the events relative to Christianity that these feasts of the Lord foretell but there is a second series applying to God's earthly people, the Feast of Trumpets when they would be gathered from all the world including the land of Sinim they would be gathered, the Lord would call and they would come that's the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets and then when they come they would have a day of atonement they would afflict their souls in another passage they would look upon him whom they pierced and they would mourn for him and here in Isaiah chapter 53 we have God's people afflicting their souls when they say we saw no beauty in him that we should desire him he was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief and we hid as it were our faces from him then they realized that it was our sins and our griefs and our sorrows and so they were healed and they were able to rejoice in his resurrection now this poem begins by in the end 13th verse of chapter 52 I've already referred to it, we'll begin there again behold my servant and there for the last time in the fourth servant poem where the whole thing is brought to its climax and conclusion the Lord Jehovah is saying to his people as he said to us behold my servant one of the most wonderful beholds of which there are so many in scripture comes to us sitting here this evening the Lord God Jehovah we may well say our father he urges us to look at to contemplate his servant at the moment of his suffering before it all begins we are assured of his victory but we are assured of his victory in the most tremendous terms relative to his suffering as you have in verse 14 and so you have in verse 15 as many were astonished at thee was not that Roman centurion when the people went over beating their breasts were he not astonished at what he had seen as many were astonished at thee and then in brackets his visage was so marred more than any man in his form more than the sons of men those sufferings of the saviour whether we understand it from the straight forward record in the gospels or not I believe that this verse out of the page of Isaiah tells us that so intense were the physical sufferings of the Lord Jesus that he was bruised and beyond recognition as a man his face would marred more than any man's and his form more than the sons of men if it be indeed true that the physical sufferings of the Lord Jesus had such a result what can we think of the moment of the hours when darkness came upon the scene and when he cried my God why hast thou forsaken me deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy water spouts the deep of the divine love that gave him the deep of the divine justice that had to be satisfied called to the deep of the saviour's sufferings and all God's waves and billows passed over him that was what took place when he passed out of the situation when the eyes of man could see him and there darkness shrouded the scene and from it came my God why hast thou forsaken me but just as we have this as in verse 14 so we have the so in verse 15 just as those who saw there were astonished at the unbelievable sufferings that came upon him even in the bodily way so shall he sprinkle and I am assured that this word signifies also astonish so shall he astonish many nations kings shall shut their mouths with astonishment at him for that which had not been told them shall they see and that which they had not heard shall they consider why because the one who was so despised the one who so suffered the one who was so bruised and smitten he shall be exalted and he shall be very high and so we begin by the assurance that the one who stooped so low shall be with all the meaning that God himself puts into the words he shall be exalted now if you come back to the first verse of chapter 53 it's plain isn't it that the first three verses of chapter 53 represent Israel those who pierced him looking back and recollecting what those who pierced him saw who could have believed that in the lowly form of Jesus the carpenter of Nazareth there could be the arm of the Lord it was the arm of the Lord that had smitten Egypt and dried up the sea and made it away for the ransom of the Lord to pass over and a few chapters back they're calling upon the arm of the Lord to come to their rescue and the deliverance but they didn't know they didn't see only the eye of faith which few possessed could see under the lowly form of Jesus the carpenter of Nazareth the very arm of the Lord that had destroyed the sea and destroyed the enemy and liberated and redeemed his people with power who hath believed our report and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed the Lord Jesus Christ was here for all his meekness and lowliness for all his gentleness and his words of comfort he was the very arm of the Lord come down for the liberation of all who trust in him he shall grow up before him as a tender plant and as a root out of a dry ground now that's a very wonderful statement about the earthly life of our Saviour he grew up he grew up in a place where there was absolutely nothing to sustain the divine life he grew up as a plant that can grow without sustenance from the ground but gets it from somewhere else as a root out of a dry ground but with his ear wakened morning by morning and where within he read the secrets of the divine comfort that was never absent from his heart as a man he grew up as a root out of a dry ground but there was no form nor comeliness that they could see nor should desire him he was despised and rejected I often think of these two pairs of participles and how transiently they speak to our hearts as we meditate upon them despised that's the estimate in which they held him our beloved Saviour the very treasure of heaven he was despised this is what man does he also rejected him but the answer is that he will be exalted and we shall come to the fact that he shall be satisfied in times past despised and rejected but in the future exalted rather exalted in the past and in the future satisfied now let us look in the middle of verse three a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief this is what they thought of him now these are very striking expressions aren't they they've passed over our minds so many times that they can pass over without our attending to them properly a man of sorrows that doesn't mean a man who at a moment experienced a sorrow it doesn't mean a man who was frequently experiencing sorrow it means a man the principal mark of whose life in the eyes of those who saw him was that he was a man of sorrows he wasn't a man of laughter he wasn't a man of rejoicing except in the inward sense that we read of in the private way but he was seen to be by others a man of sorrows and just think of this acquainted with grief that doesn't mean a passing nod that doesn't mean that he knew it occasionally but acquainted all the time again and again it was seen that grief was his companion every day and every moment by those who saw him that's what they saw but what was the truth they're now beginning to see the truth it says in the middle of verse 3 a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief were our faces from him but did you ever notice in verse 4 it refers to griefs and sorrows again the first two lines of verse 4 griefs and sorrows again this was the thing that now staggers them when they come to verses 4 to 6 they're now realizing the truth the griefs that they saw in him were our griefs and the sorrows that were his hourly companions they were our sorrows surely he hath borne our griefs and our sorrows and it was our griefs and our sorrows that made him a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief in him was the well of everlasting joy, in him was the well of unmovable peace but it was our griefs and our sorrows that made him a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief in these two verses of their affliction then it dawned upon them that the sorrows they saw and the griefs they observed were our griefs and our sorrows although they esteemed him stricken smitten of God and afflicted but the truth is 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 we've already spoken about the the distinction that we are bound to make between the outward sorrows and they saw that he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and that which he sustained at the hand of God in order that we might be justified and that we might be healed but it's all here in this verse all the terrific afflictions, strokes that can fall upon man, the whole of languages ransacked in order to let us know what he there suffered he was bruised, he was wounded he was smitten but it was for our sins and our transgressions and the immediately joint result is that we are healed. I often think of the Ethiopian eunuch it's not surprising is it when he was reading this passage and Philip directed by the spirit of God joined up with him in the chariot and said understandest thou what thou readest, this was his question this he, him his, who is this he that the prophet speaks about is it himself or of some other man, but when you look down it, it's not surprising that he said this he hath borne our griefs 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 and although all we like sheep have gone astray, the Lord hath caused to meet on him the iniquity of us all oh what a load is hidden in that little expression caused to meet upon him the sins of all who trust in thee, not for ours only but for the whole world there were caused to meet upon him oh what a load we say was thine to bear, no thought of ours can extend to the width or plumb the depths of what came upon him there when the Lord caused to meet upon him the iniquity of us all he was oppressed, he was afflicted, he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter you know this word slaughter in English and I believe it's quite true to the original languages this word slaughter is the is the same class of words as the word slain if a beast was slain then the act was called slaughter the two words belong to each other slain is one form, slaughter is another form, and when I read in Revelation chapter 5 that the lamb there appears as a lamb as it had been slain directly paraphrased that is he was a lamb fresh from the slaughter, here we read he was taken like a lamb to the slaughter but there in heaven where there is every crown upon his brow he is there from the slaughter and we know the result of this that the one who was there so abased is now crowned with glory and so I must hurry on to the familiar statements that they appointed his grave with the wicked presumably the common grave of the crucified felons but he was in fact with the rich in his death in the grave the new tomb of Joseph of Arimathea and then in the last three verses we have a summary of the results but first of all the assurance that hasn't directly occurred before that the sufferings by which we have been healed the sufferings that have dealt with our sin they were inflicted by Jehovah, it was under his hand that the real suffering was endured by which we are set free, I pointed out a few minutes ago how he was to be God's salvation to the end of the earth now there are many schemes for salvation to the ends of the earth but without exception they ignore the facts of the situation and they are sin and sorrow and death you know there are some people who are benighted enough to think that Christianity is dope that it ignores the real facts of life and the human plight did you ever hear such nonsense as this? hear in these words of a prophet written so long ago planted right down at the heart of the human plight in sin he was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our sins in sorrow he was a man of sorrows unacquainted with grief, in death because he died and they appointed his grave with the wicked but he is God's salvation to the end of the earth because these mighty problems the mighty deep enemies of men have been overcome by what he suffered in the manner that's described in this passage and therefore only can he be God's salvation to the end of the earth there's no chance of any human scheme for the salvation of the world it has no chance of success not even in part but this really has got success we can now proclaim on the basis of this the liberation of men from the sins that bring them to condemnation and bring them comfort from the saviour who died for them and bring them absolutely certain of salvation in the end and we know we know we don't need to do anything about that because our saviour will be on this ground God's salvation to the ends of the earth and in verse 11 he shall see of the trouble of his soul and shall be satisfied we've often meditated upon this is it not a matter of the deepest wonder and the greatest joy to us every time we contemplate his passion and his suffering that the story does end like this the one who had the human sadness of being despised and rejected and the one who suffered the appalling stroke of Jehovah's wrath falling upon him we are assured not only that he is exalted but that he will be satisfied not only within the horizon the earthly horizon of the prophet when Israel is gathered and they acclaim him as their king and they make this confession that he was wounded for their transgressions and now lives to be their intercessor but I suppose we are entitled to say that God in his love and wisdom has made a provision whereby in pursuance of his own word that it is not good that man should be alone in the bride of Christ to be with him to be ready for him in the day of his joy and the day of his power in these ways perhaps in a manner far exceeding the horizon of the prophet but open to us and made good to our souls and made our rejoicing by the spirit of God in the new testament we rejoice tonight in the fact that our savior will be satisfied and by the infinite mercy of God he has picked us up and given us to be amongst that body that will contribute in that day to the satisfaction of the one whose travel was so deep and so we come in the last words to say he makes intercession as we have thought about the disciples in Luke chapter 24 and how they met with him and how he commissioned them in the end of the story we read how in front of their eyes with his hands uplifted he went into heaven and there with those uplifted hands of blessing and also of intercession we can now think of him and know him day by day as the one who can save us to the uttermost because he ever lives to make intercession for the saints according to the will of God now shall we sing number 162 and I'll read the last verse our joy unhindered then with thee our eyes undimmed by glory see whilst worthy praise we give through that eternal cloudless day our burning hearts with rapture say he died that we might live number 162 the great eternal God of grace shall freely unfold through endless days when the mind shall cease to be round and around the Lord shall stand as each people joined together by all to love and be free he shall the Savior's blindness bear a royal crown his crown shall bear and his crown shall be his crown shall be his crown shall be his crown his crown shall be his crown shall be his crown shall be his crown …