Hervey Bay Presbyterian Church

The new creation in Christ (Advent)

Scripture Reading

  • Isaiah 11:1-9

Introduction

The prophet Isaiah opens his prophecy with these words:

Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against Me… Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” (Isaiah 1:2–3, NIV)

In the vision Isaiah saw of the Lord, he heard that his sin was atoned for, and immediately he was compelled to be God’s spokesperson.  He commissioning was not exciting at all:  God send him with these words:

Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:10, NIV)

For how long?  Until there’s nothing left and the land Isaiah “utterly forsaken” and “everyone is sent far away.” (6:12)

But there was a promise:

“But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.” (Isaiah 6:13, NIV)

The blind did not see, and the deaf did not hear

Isaiah stood before King Ahaz and declared God’s offer of grace to him, but he did not hear and he did not see.  He was not healed!

God sent the Assyrians against the northern kingdom, also known as Israel, and their homes and cities were “devoured with open mouth” (9:12).  But arrogantly they just made plans to rebuild what was destroyed, without even thinking of repentance.   “But the people have not returned to him who struck them, nor have they sought the Lord Almighty”. (9:13)

They did not hear and they did not see.  They were not healed!

God was not finished with them.  He struck their leaders, elders and prophets alike—even young men, widows and children did not find mercy in God’s eye.  Why?  “Everyone is ungodly and wicked, every mouth speaks folly.” (Isaiah 9:17, NIV)

They did not hear and they did not see.  They were not healed!

God was not finished with them.  Widespread bloodshed, born out of hatred for one another, devoured the country. Civil unrest led to unbridled violence in which people were “fuel for the fire” (9:19).

Yet, they did not hear and they did not see.  They were not healed!

God was not finished with them.  When they deprived the poor of their rights and the innocent was oppressed, they did not thing about the justice of God, his law, and the justice He demanded.  The word of God came to them:

What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches? (Isaiah 10:3, NIV)

Yet, they did not hear and they did not see.  They were not healed!

Judgement

God then sent the king of the Assyrians, as it says in 10:6, “I send him against a godless nation, I dispatch him against a people who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets.” (Isaiah 10:6, NIV)

But, as God’s promise to David and his house stood firm, He did not allow the Assyrian king destroy unbridledly.  There was a limit to how far he could go; for his arrogance God held him accountable—his heart was driven by premeditated pride.  “By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding.” (Isaiah 10:13, NIV)  He had to deal with the living God:

The Light of Israel will become a fire, their Holy One a flame; in a single day it will burn and consume his thorns and his briers. (Isaiah 10:17, NIV)

Oh, the mercy of God!

“My people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians… Very soon My anger against you will end and my wrath will be directed to their destruction.” (Isaiah 10:24–25, NIV)

Application

For hundreds of years God’s grace went out through the prophets to God’s people, calling them to repentance; for the same length of time they rejected that grace—only a small group of faithful believers served God with a pure heart and believed in his promise as they kept looking forward to the birth of the Messiah.

When the time of grace ran out God used kings to remove his people from the Promised Land to serve as slaves. But, a remnant did return.  They rebuilt the city and the temple, but they soon again forgot.  They did not hear and they did not see.  They were not healed!

Darkness fell upon the people of God.  The people lived in distress and in the shadow of death. After the last prophet of the Old Testament and the opening verses of the New Testament there were 450 years of silence.  The nation was plundered by foreign kings and empires. Every form of rebellion against these empires led to further destruction and loss of lives.  Their temple was destroyed, and eventually a godless king, Herod (the same Herod who wanted to kill Jesus), offered to build them another!  What a shame!

History repeated itself:  a rebellious godless people hung onto outward formal religion, but there was no hope, no life.

The holy seed sprouted!

Trampled by the Roman Empire, and paying taxes to the Caesar became a lifestyle.  Godlessness abounded, and Satan had a field day, even being present in the synagogues.

It all called for a new beginning, almost like the first creation.  Genesis 1:2 tells us—

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:2, NIV)

An angel appeared to a young girl in Nazareth in Galilee, part of the area described by Isaiah as the “people who lived in darkness”.  She was pledged to be married.  The angel said to her,

The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35, NIV)

Now we hear the fulfilment of the promise:

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:32–33, NIV)

John writes about Christ:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1–5, NIV)

Do you see the connection with Genesis 1, with the announcement of the birth of Christ, who He is and how it ties in with Isaiah 11?  The promise of God to create a new mankind, not an earthly kingdom, but a kingdom of God’s people.  All other kings failed; the priests and the sacrifices of the old covenant were mere shadows of the real which was to come; the prophets pointed forward to this King.  Someone had to come to be perfect sacrifice, the perfect king, the perfect prophet—to prepare the perfect people for God.  Who was He?

The One promised 700 years before He was born.  Isaiah spoke of Him:  He was like the shoot of the terebinth and the oak.  Yes, when there seemed to be nothing left, when it seemed all was over and forgotten, that shoot shot up:  he was more than David, but He was along the line of David.

Born of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God rested upon Him.  When he was baptised, “the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’” (Luke 3:22, NIV)

Like the wisdom of God when He created everything “very good”, Christ received the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. Christ declared in Luke 4:18 about Himself:  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…” (Luke 4:18, NIV)

He is the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, He would not speak anything else than what the Father commanded Him, He would delight in doing the will of the Father.  This word delight is connected with a fragrant aroma.  One can think of the words of Paul in Ephesians 5, “Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Be not mistaken:  He is indeed the promised Messiah.  In Galilee of the nations He took the verse from Isaiah’s prophecy upon Himself:  “… the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:16, NIV)

A new creation

In the beginning God created through the Spirit. He then spoke a word and called creation into existence.  Now He is recreating through the Spirit:  Christ is the Word through whom He creates.  In the beginning God said, “Let there be light!”; now He gives his Son as the light.  The same Spirit declares that He is the Son of God.  The scope of the first creation was the whole world; so it is with the second:

In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10, NIV)

Who then are his children?  Listen to John 1:12-13:

Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in his name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12–13, NIV)

That’s why He declared, “You must be born again.” (John 3:5)  The apostle Paul writes,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

A warning

Those who do not bow before Immanuel, the Child who is Mighty God, “He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.” (Isaiah 11:4, NIV)  As Revelation puts it,

Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron rod.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Revelation 19:15, NIV)

Conclusion

Not all in the time of Isaiah were saved; most did not hear and they did not see.  They were not healed—they were lost in sin.  Then there were others who lived “in Zion”, expecting God to fulfil his promises; they heard, they saw, and they believed.  What about us?  How many times have you heard the Christmas story?  Maybe today you will really hear, and you will really see the light—and live!

Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 10 December 2017

 

Advertisements