Isaiah 51:1-6

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 12, 2000

Introduction

We saw last week Ė

(Isa 50:10 KJV) 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.

There are going to be times when we as believers, as those who "fear the Lord", who obey the voice of Jesus, that we will be walking through "dark" times in our lives. Iím not talking about darkness in the sense of sin (as in 1John), but darkness as in wondering where weíre going and why things arenít clear in my life.

Itís these times of "darkness" when we can become discouraged.

Discouragement comes from many places.

Sometimes we are discouraged because something weíve hoped for either isnít going to happen, or itís happening too slowly.

Sometimes we are discouraged because we feel like people are against us. Sometimes it seems as if certain people are "out to get" us.

Sometimes we donít even understand why we can be discouraged or depressed, we just "are".

Todayís message is in this context, to those who are going through "dark" times, those who may be discouraged.

:1 Hearken to me

God is going to be speaking, but the question is, are you going to be listening.

He may be going to say some things directly through His Word, some things through me, and some things He may want to even whisper directly to your heart.

But will you hear it?

Lesson

Are you listening?

Sometimes a room is just too noisy to hear another personís conversation. Sometimes when someone calls during dinner time, and I answer the phone in the kitchen, I simply canít hear what the other person is saying because the TV is on, the kids are talking loudly, and Iím just getting old and deaf. I have to get rid of the extra noise by going to another room where itís quiet and I can listen.

Are you in a place mentally and spiritually right now that God could speak to you?

Are there things youíre worried about right now? Are there arguments youíre still working on in your head right now?

I invite you to lay those things aside for a few minutes this morning and ask the Lord to be speaking to your heart.

:1 look unto the rock whence ye are hewn Ö

Look to the rock from which you were hewn, And to the quarry from which you were dug. (NAS)

Heís telling the Jewish people to go back to their roots to find encouragement.

:2 Look unto Abraham Ö I called him alone, and blessed him

When he was one I called him (NAS)

God called Abraham when it was just he and Sarah. God promised that He would multiply Abrahamís descendants to be more numerous than the stars or the sand of the seashore. Yet at first it was just Abe and Sarah. God blessed Him when it was just the two of them. And eventually a great nation came from them.

God may be encouraging the remnant that was left in Babylon, saying that even though they were few, He would still use them.

Lesson

God can do a lot with a little.

The prophet Zechariah lived after the Babylonian captivity, during the time when the temple was being rebuilt by a governor named Zerubbabel. Zechariah saw a strange vision of a lamp in the temple. It was a strange oil lamp hat wouldnít need to be refilled each day because it was being fed oil directly from two olive trees. When he asked what it meant, and angel said,

(Zec 4:6-10 KJV) Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

In the Bible, oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit. God was showing governor Zerubbabel that he was like this lamp that was going to be continually supplied with oil. He would be continually strengthened by the Holy Spirit.

{7} Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. {8} Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, {9} The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.

Because of Godís work, all the obstacles (or mountains) would be removed and Zerubbabel would finish the temple with people crying out about how awesome God was.

{10} For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven Ö

There were folks who were around during this time of rebuilding the temple who were not happy with what seemed to be a small, insignificant work being done by Zerubbabel. Yet those people would be blessed to see Zerubbabel finish the work.

Donít despise the day of "small things".

What you think may be a small, insignificant work may one day be something tremendous.

Illustration

Just as God is encouraging Israel to look back at their roots, we could look back at the roots of Calvary Chapel. When Pastor Chuck accepted the call to become pastor of a little country church in rural Costa Mesa, there were 22 people in the congregation. Chuck went where he felt the Lord had been leading him. He didnít go because he had a signed contract from God laying out exactly what would happen. He just went because God said "go". Today, his church ministers to over 30,000 people, with more than 750 Calvary Chapels around the country, and now all around the world.

Donít despise the days of small things. Just keep going.

Lesson

Follow Abrahamís example

When you are discouraged and looking for direction in life, itís not a bad idea to take someone elseís example and follow it for a while. Weíre encouraged here to look at Abraham.

(Rom 4:18-21 KJV) Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. {19} And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:

Abraham kept his eyes off of his circumstances. To the trained eye, it would be impossible for Abraham and Sarah to have children. Abraham chose to ignore the data from his "trained eye".

{20} He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; {21} And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

Abraham kept his eyes on who God was. He knew that if God made a promise, that God was big enough and strong enough to make it happen.

:3 For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden

comfort Ė nacham Ė to comfort, console

waste places Ė chorbah Ė a place laid waste, ruin, waste, desolation

Eden Ė `Eden = "pleasure", the first habitat of man after the creation

God is promising that He will take a Jerusalem that is a deserted wasteland and make it a thriving garden.

Lesson

Comfort is in your future.

God also promises comfort to us as well.

(2 Cor 1:3-5 NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, {4} who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. {5} For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

Sometimes God chooses to use other people in our lives to bring us comfort. But sometimes God wants to comfort us directly.

Whatís hard in life is to keep trusting Him until He sends His comfort. Yet thatís what we need to do. Thatís what we saw last week:

(Isa 50:10 NLT) Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God.

Keep holding on. Rely on Him. He will bring his comfort.

:3 joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

joy Ė sasown Ė gladness, joy, exultation, rejoicing

gladness Ė simchah Ė joy, mirth, gladness; pleasure

thanksgiving Ė towdah Ė confession, praise, thanksgiving; give praise to God; thanksgiving in songs of liturgical worship, hymn of praise

melody Ė zimrah Ė music, melody, song, literally, "psalm".

Lesson

Joy is in your future.

Ultimately, when we get to heaven, we will experience joy like never before. Yet we donít have to wait for heaven to be joyful.

Lesson

Joy is in the Lord.

We will be talking more about joy next week (51:11), but for now I want to say that itís important to know where joy starts.

(Phil 4:4 KJV) Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

The little letter to the Philippians is interesting because of the mixture of two things. First, the letter was written by Paul from a prison cell. Second, the major theme that comes through over and over is that of joy. Paul is full of joy and is encouraging the Philippians to rejoice.

How could Paul rejoice when he was in prison? Because his joy was "in the Lord" and not in his circumstances.

If Paulís joy was in his circumstances, he would be depressed beyond belief.

Too often our joy is dependent upon our circumstances. Weíre happy because some problem worked out. Weíre happy because some good thing just happened to me. Itís not wrong to be happy about those kinds of things, itís just that our joy needs to be based on something a little more reliable than our circumstances.

Paulís joy was in his relationship with Jesus.

Knowing that Jesus loves me, that Jesus knows about me, that Jesus understands me, that Jesus is powerful enough to help me, that Jesus has plans for me Ö itís all these things that can bring joy.

:4 and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.

And I will set My justice for a light of the peoples. (NAS)

:5 my salvation is gone forth

God is saying through Isaiah that salvation is already on the way.

I believe this is talking about the salvation that we find in Jesus Christ. As weíll see in verse 6, this isnít just temporary salvation from a national enemy, but something that will last forever, even longer than the earth is going to last.

From the very beginning of manís history, weíve had the problem of sin.

It was manís sin that caused him to be driven from the Garden of Eden and from the very presence of God (Gen. 3).

God, knowing that we have a problem, has always had a solution. God had always intended on sending His Son to be a sacrificial payment for our sins. Weíll see this clearly in Isaiah 53, that God had always planned on Jesus dying for us. John calls Jesus the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8), meaning that Jesusí death for us was no mere accident, it was planned on from the start.

:5 the isles shall wait upon me

Even the distant lands, including us, will come to the Lord.

:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment,

Every once in a while, Hollywood comes out with one of those big disaster flicks where the whole earth is facing destruction. Usually the good guy gets the bad guy, and the earth survives, at least until another movie comes out. Occasionally thereís a movie where thereís great disaster, and it terrifies us to see the possibilities of nuclear war or an asteroid colliding with earth. But then the movie is over, we walk out of the movie theater and breath a sigh of relief, saying to ourselves, "Well Iím glad that could never happen!"

Iíve got news for you. Some day, it will.

(2 Pet 3:10-11 NLT) But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and everything in them will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be exposed to judgment. {11} Since everything around us is going to melt away, what holy, godly lives you should be living!

There will be a day when even the heavens, meaning the solar system, the galaxies, everything in our physical universe will be destroyed.

Donít get too upset when you get a scratch on your new car. Itís all going to burn.

:6 and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner:

manner Ė ken Ė gnat, gnats, gnat-swarm

The people of the earth will die like flies (NLT)

:6 but my salvation shall be for ever

forever Ė `owlam Ė long duration, futurity, for ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual

Iíve often wondered about the concept of salvation between the Old and New Testaments. It often seemed as if "salvation" in the Old Testament was a concept that had to do with immediate deliverance from earthly enemies, while "salvation" in the New Testament talked of eternity in heaven. Here we see "salvation" in the Old Testament as being something that is more permanent than even the heavens and earth.

Salvation has to mean more here than just taking care of the "bad guys". Itís more than just having your current problems go away. Itís something that will last forever. Itís talking about being with God.

Lesson

Invest in lasting things.

(Mat 6:19-21 KJV) Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: {20} But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: {21} For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Are you spending your time investing in things that are one day going to burn?

Illustration

There is a part of me that doesnít enjoy jigsaw puzzles. I do enjoy the challenge of putting each piece into its place, and I enjoy seeing the finished product, but the part I donít enjoy is when I have to put the puzzle away. My wife says that having the finished puzzle hog the dining room table for six months is long enough. And then all that great work weíve done is destroyed and put away.

What are you investing your life in?

Illustration

There is a story about a sailor shipwrecked on one of the South Sea islands. He was seized by the natives, hoisted to their shoulders, carried to the village, and set on a rude throne. Little by little, he learned that it was their custom once each year to make some man a king, king for a year. He liked it until he began to wonder what happened to all the former kings. Soon he discovered that every year when his kingship was ended, the king was banished to an island, where he starved to death. The sailor did not like that, but he was smart and he was king, king for a year. So he put his carpenters to work making boats, his farmers to work transplanting fruit trees to the island, farmers growing crops, masons building houses. So when his kingship was over, he was banished, not to a barren island, but to an island of abundance.

What are you doing with your life? Are you ready for the next island?