Sunday, 23rd January 10.30 am Order of Service

You Tube Live Link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUXqSPpmvi0FrIfSLUqiCEA

WELCOME

HYMN Lo He comes, with clouds descending

Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
once for favoured sinners slain:
thousand thousand saints attending,
swell the triumph of his train;
Allelujah!…
God appears on Earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold him
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at nought and sold him,
pierced, and nailed him to the tree,
deeply wailing…
shall their true Messiah see.

Those dear tokens of his Passion
still his dazzling body bears,
cause of endless exultation
to his ransomed worshippers:
with what rapture…
gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, Amen! Let all adore thee
high on your eternal throne;
Saviour, take the power and glory,
claim the kingdom for your own;
Allelujah!…
Thou shalt reign, and Thou alone!

PRAYER

Children’s Address

Show DVD (Part 1) of Introduction to Isaiah

Song I’m insight, outright, upright, downright

I’m inright, outright, upright, downright

Happy all the time

I’m inright, outright, upright, downright

Happy all the time

Since Jesus Christ came in

And cleansed my heart from sin

I’m inright, outright, upright, downright

Happy all the time

READING Isaiah 1

The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

A Rebellious Nation

2

Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!
For the Lord has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.

3

The ox knows its master,
the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”

4

Woe to the sinful nation,
a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord;
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him.

5

Why should you be beaten anymore?
Why do you persist in rebellion?
Your whole head is injured,
your whole heart afflicted.

6

From the sole of your foot to the top of your head
there is no soundness—
only wounds and welts
and open sores,
not cleansed or bandaged
or soothed with olive oil.

7

Your country is desolate,
your cities burned with fire;
your fields are being stripped by foreigners
right before you,
laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.

8

Daughter Zion is left
like a shelter in a vineyard,
like a hut in a cucumber field,
like a city under siege.

9

Unless the Lord Almighty
had left us some survivors,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah.

10

Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the instruction of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!

11

“The multitude of your sacrifices—
what are they to me?” says the Lord.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.

12

When you come to appear before me,
who has asked this of you,
this trampling of my courts?

13

Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.

14

Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.

15

When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening.

Your hands are full of blood!

16

Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.

17

Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.

18

“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.

19

If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land;

20

but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

21

See how the faithful city
has become a prostitute!
She once was full of justice;
righteousness used to dwell in her—
but now murderers!

22

Your silver has become dross,
your choice wine is diluted with water.

23

Your rulers are rebels,
partners with thieves;
they all love bribes
and chase after gifts.
They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
the widow’s case does not come before them.

24

Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes
and avenge myself on my enemies.

25

I will turn my hand against you;
I will thoroughly purge away your dross
and remove all your impurities.

26

I will restore your leaders as in days of old,
your rulers as at the beginning.
Afterward you will be called
the City of Righteousness,
the Faithful City.”

27

Zion will be delivered with justice,
her penitent ones with righteousness.

28

But rebels and sinners will both be broken,
and those who forsake the Lord will perish.

29

“You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks
in which you have delighted;
you will be disgraced because of the gardens
that you have chosen.

30

You will be like an oak with fading leaves,
like a garden without water.

31

The mighty man will become tinder
and his work a spark;
both will burn together,
with no one to quench the fire.”

SERMON WARNING and PROMISE.

Isaiah is a key book in scripture. The New Testament is filled with Isaiah’s insights and his prophetic understanding of both the facts about and the significance of Jesus Christ, and the plans God has for the world. It quotes Isaiah 418 times. Chapter 53 alone is quoted 41 times. No wonder it is called the 5th Gospel.

It was also written at a key time in salvation history. During Isaiah’s ministry, as he warned, Israel the northern kingdom was conquered by Assyria and most of its inhabitants were deported. Isaiah likewise foretold both the rise of Babylon which took place about 60 years after he died, and its fall to Cyrus of Persia – whom he names – 90 years after that. He predicted the Babylonian exile and the people’s return when Babylon fell: watersheds in the life of Israel and in their preparation by God for the birth of Jesus.

But Isaiah’s stature rests on far more than knowing things in advance, miraculous as that was (and irresistible evidence for the existence of God who inspired it). His grasp of how God runs the world; and his understanding of God’s plan and climax is breath-taking. Isaiah is the Romans of the Old Testament. More than that, it is expressed in magnificent poetry. Even in translation you can feel its power.

Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.

I will sing for my Beloved a song about his vineyard.” “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.”

How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star.”

And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.”

All we like sheep have gone astray, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

I don’t reckon there is a page without a memorable and momentous verse.

It is fascinating that just as the Bible has sixty-six books – 39 in the old Testament, 27 in the new – Isaiah has sixty-six chapters normally classified into the first 39 and the remaining 27. And those twenty-seven tell a similar story to that of the new Testament.

Both start with the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord.”Both have Christ’s cross at their heart.

And both end with a startling combination of invitation and warning, glory and solemnity:

Compare Isaiah 66.22-24 with Revelation 22.17-21:

  • Isaiah: As the new heavens and earth will endure before me, so will your name . . . but the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me will be loathsome to all mankind.
  • Revelation: The Spirit and the bride say ‘come, take the free gift of the water of life . . . but anyone who takes words away from this book, God will take away his share in the tree of life.

BUT – Who was Isaiah? It becomes repeatedly clear that he was well-connected. According to the mediaeval Jewish commentator Kimchi, his father Amoz was brother to Amaziah, King Uzziah’s father. If so, he was minor royalty and cousin to the king. He was a Jerusalem man, married with at least two children.

The historical situation. Isaiah preached from 740 BC to about 695 or a little longer (Sennacherib was assassinated, ch.37 v.38, in 681). Assyria was the dominant empire from 800 to 625 when it fell to Babylon, then Babylon until 538 when Cyrus of Persia conquered it (Dan. 5:30f). Both of these events were predicted by Isaiah.

Assyria conquered the northern kingdom Israel, taking its capital Samaria in 724 and exiling most of the population, during Isaiah’s lifetime, just as he warned. Later Babylon steadily conquered the southern kingdom Judah, deporting the people in groups from about 605BC (Daniel and friends) with the final fall of Jerusalem and exile of most of the population in 587. Then when Cyrus took Babylon in 538 he arranged the return of the people to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple (Ezra ch. 1) – exactly as Isaiah had prophesied 190 years earlier (44.24 – 45.13). What God says… He does!

And what does God say?

Here is Isaiah in four paragraphs:

Ch. 1 – 12: The State of the Nation and the Plans of God

‘Judah, God hates the cruel way you are living. His plan is for the nations to live at peace under his reign. You will bring on the Assyrian invasion for ditching him and for your terrible behaviour; but God will send Someone to bring about his reign and a better world.

Ch. 13 – 35: God’s dealings with nations and the day of Judgement.

‘The same cruelty, and worse, is going on in many places. It is partly because of such behaviour that God brings about the rise and fall of nations. So for security don’t turn to them, turn to him. He will indeed send that promised Someone, and people’s response to him will decide their destiny.

Ch. 36 – 39: Three events to prove the point (historical and in prose; the rest is prophetic poetry).

‘Here are three dramatic examples of this activity by God in history. Unlike earlier kings, Hezekiah trusted God and the Assyrian army was destroyed. Hezekiah was healed but brought on the Babylonian invasion. God can be trusted. What he says, happens.

Ch. 40 – 66: Be comforted. God will return you, redeem you and finally resurrect you. ‘You will be exiles in Babylon after I’ve died. But be comforted: God will bring you home, using a person called Cyrus. There’s no-one like God! Later the Someone of ch. 7-12 will be His servant to bring about the better world.

That will involve his redeeming death and resurrection (i.e. they do a rescue job), with huge benefits available. All who choose him will be part of the new heavens and earth that God will finally make. But He will respect the choice of the impenitent.’

There is a repeated warning in this prophecy against HYPOCRISY. The trouble was that, while staying religious, they had abandoned real faith in God. God says: “I have reared children, but they have rebelled against me” (1:2-4)

When you turn away from God, standards are loud to drop.

They all love bribes and chase after gifts, They do not defend the cause of the fatherless.” (1:23)

Isaiah is writing about things that we all understand only too well. Do we let our trust in God determine every area of our lives – what we do with our money, what we do in the office at work, what we do with our family.

Chapter 1

The opening chapter sets the scene for us and also sets out the central themes of the whole Book of Isaiah. He probably wrote this chapter last! We read here of the people of God (Judah) rebelling against Him and, as a result, God is no linger involved in their services of worship. In the light of this Isaiah calls for 2 things: they need to put right their wrongs; and they need to turn seriously to God.

This first chapter raises questions not just about our personal morality, but also about our commitment to social justice.

We have a 3-word summary in verse 26ff of the kind of conduct God requires of us:

Righteous – refusing to do wrong

Faithful – dependably walking with God

Just – our civil, legal and personal lives need to be in line with God’s character.

Structure of chapter Lessons here

The People’s sin, 2-9 Sin weakens us

God’s rejection, 10-15 Sin deafens God

God’s offer, 16-20 Mercy is ever offered

The People’s choices, 21-31 The choice we all face

Basically, Isaiah is saying: “Here is what I’ve preached: your wrongdoing is both weakening you and also deafening God to you. How about having a new start?”.

In light of all of this, we need to examine ourselves – and come RUNNING to God for His help and salvation.

PRAYER

Hymn Standing on the promises

  1. Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
    Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
    Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
    Standing on the promises of God.
    • Refrain:
      Standing, standing,
      Standing on the promises of God my Saviour;
      Standing, standing,
      I’m standing on the promises of God.
  1. Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
    When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
    By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
    Standing on the promises of God.
  1. Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
    Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
    Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
    Standing on the promises of God.
  1. Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
    Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call,
    Resting in my Saviour as my all in all,
    Standing on the promises of God.

Benediction

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