Saturday, February 14, 2009

Is Anyone Listening? - Isaiah 28

"To whom would He teach knowledge?
And to whom would He interpret the message?...
For He says, 'Order on order, order on order,
Line on line, line on line,
a little here, a little there.'
Indeed, He will speak to this people
Through stammering lips
and a foreign tongue,
He who said to them,
'Here is rest, give rest to the weary,'
And, 'Here is repose,'
but they would not listen."

Judgment and Mercy.
Judgment and Mercy.
Here we go again. What a stiff-necked people they were. What a stiff-necked people we are! How beautiful is the promise of the vineyard and how frightful is the curse of the false grape! How foolish we are to choose anything other than to be firmly planted in Christ's vineyard.

In chapter 28 Ephraim is full of pride and drunkenness. They love their sin and they wear it as a crown - "Woe to the proud crown on the drunkards of Ephraim" (vs 1). Here is the truth of Isaiah 26:13 fleshing out before us - "O LORD our God, other masters besides You have ruled over us." The "lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life" is the trinity they worship, and their false god is about to ruin them. How often do I worship the same pseudo-trinitarian idol?

The LORD has a "strong and mighty agent" on the way. Sennacharib of Assyria will knock the crown of pride from their heads and will be used as the rod of God to deal justly with this wayward and stubborn lot. "The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim is trodden under foot" (vs 3). The wages their sins have earned are coming. So is it with us. Our day is coming as well. Those wages will be paid to us if we remain in our unrepentant pride. They have been paid to Christ on Calvary's cross if in faith and repentance we are resting in Him alone to save us. How thankful I personally am for the applied power of the gospel to my own sinful life. My sin, His righteousness - "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Co 5:21) I am humbled!

Realize that the Ephraimites have been taught the truths of the gospel since they were on their mother's breasts. The "gospel was preached before hand to Abraham" (Gal 3:8) and they had been commanded to "teach [it] diligently to [their] sons" (Dt 6:7). They were to talk of these things when they were sitting and walking and lying down and rising. The truths of God's law and of His grace were to be proclaimed always and everywhere in the life of Israel. The hope of covenant mercy was not a foreign thing to them -in their stubborn, selfish pride they just didn't want it!

"Order on order and line on line" the hope of the Messiah has been held forth to them. "Their prophets designed to teach them knowledge - the knowledge of God and of His will. This is God's way of dealing with men, to enlighten their minds first with a knowledge of His truth, and this to gain their affections, and bring their wills into a compliance with His laws." (Matthew Henry)

The prophets proclaimed the truths that would lead them into rest and repose. "Here is rest, give rest to the weary, and here is repose" (vs 12). God's word and God's way are the only sure way to rest and repose. Christ Himself says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Mt 11:28-30)

Line upon line the prophet held forth the promise of rest to those who would flee to the God of grace - "but they would not listen" (vs 12). They would not listen to the call. They would not heed the warning. They would not flee into the vineyard and soon the Assyrian army would storm into them and desolate their land. "Those that will not hear the comfortable voice of God's Word shall be made to hear the dreadful voice of His rod" (Matthew Henry). Line upon line mercy had been held forth. Act upon act they stored up judgment for themselves instead. Pride makes us stupid!

The prophets still speak. Each Lord's day I hear the voice of God, through the ordained ministers of God who are rightly proclaiming the Word of God. I am told to "come." In Christ I will find rest and repose. Each morning I read the Word of God in the pages of the Bible and the Holy Spirit speaks to me as He illumines that written Word. Am I listening?

Praying for an open ear,

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