Exhortation 05/20/2007 Reading: Isaiah 10 Bro Carl Parry
2007年5月20日讲道词 读经：以赛亚书第10章 卡尔派瑞弟兄
Isaiah chapter 10 outlines two main issues for us to consider this morning as we remember the work of salvation that God has achieved in His Son. Firstly, how does God’s providence work amongst His people? Secondly, how does God look after His people when they are confronted with the most frightening of circumstances?
Judah was facing the brutal and fearless Assyrian power. We might not face an invasion like this but we often face difficult circumstances which test our faith to the very limit.
So what can we learn from Isaiah’s words in this chapter that will help us to remain steadfast to the end? The prophet explains the way in which God manipulates nations like Assyria for His purpose and focuses on how He cares for and preserves a small remnant of faithful people despite this terrible adversity.
It is a fitting chapter to draw our minds to God’s work today in Christ in preserving a small remnant of believers in these last days.
Imagine living in Jerusalem in Isaiah’s day knowing that your country was about to be invaded by one of the most evil nations of the period. You would be asking yourself many questions - how can God maintain His righteousness and still use such excessive evil to achieve His purpose? Is God punishing His people or is He putting their faith to the test? What will happen to the faithful during all this time? Will the innocent be destroyed along with the wicked?
想一想生活在以赛亚时代的耶路撒冷人们知道自己的国家将被当时最邪恶的民族之一入侵。你可能会问自己很多问题 – 神怎样保守他的义并仍然用这样超级的恶来达到他的目的？神是在惩罚他的民或者是试探他们的信心？在这个时代那些有信心的人会怎么样？那些无辜的人会被邪恶摧毁吗？
These questions are still relevant today. Whether we live in a prosperous country or in a country devastated by warfare and hardship, we must believe “that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). Isaiah’s words in his 10th chapter will assist us in appreciating this truth a little more clearly.
One of the first points that the prophet makes is that God does use evil to carry out His purpose. Assyria was like a rod in God’s hands (v5), and it should be noted that a rod is used to correct people, not destroy them. Hence we read in Prov 29:15; “the rod and reproof give wisdom” and again in Prov 13:24; “he that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him quickly.”
We all need correction, even though we may be grown up adults. Hence Paul wrote this:“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb 12:5-11)
God loves us and therefore scourges us. (It is the same Greek word used of Pilate flogging Jesus in John 19:1). Our part is to endure these trials and to be exercised by them so that we can produce fruitfulness in our lives. The reassurance we have is that God knows how much pressure to apply and how long the pressure needs to continue for.
How God rewards people
Assyria had no idea that it was being used to achieve this end. In fact its motive in attacking Judah was simply to “destroy and cut off nations” (v7). It boasted in its ability to conquer the world, when in reality God had paved the way for its success by raising up weak nations (v13-15, 2 Kings 19:26).
As a result of this arrogance God would punish Assyria. As v12 states: “Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.”
When God visits people to punish them it is more akin to giving them a reward than punishing them as such. He rewards people in precisely the same way in which they have behaved or in exactly the same way in which they have rewarded others. Take, for example, the following quotations:
· Jer 17:10 - ‘I Yahweh search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.’
· Jer 50:29 - ‘recompense her (Babylon) according to her work; according to all that she hath done, do unto her’
· Ps 28:4 - ‘give them according to their deeds and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of heir hands; render to them their desert.’
· Ps 62:12 - Also unto thee O Lord belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.’
诗篇62：12 - 主啊，慈爱也是属乎你，因为你照着各人所行的报应他。
· Rev 22:12 - behold I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be’
启示录22：12 - 看哪，我必快来。赏罚在我，要照各人所行的报应他。
These references teach that God’s response to people’s lives can be immediate and amounts to a just reward in recognition of their behaviour. Perhaps the clearest example is the way in which God responded to David’s sin with Bathsheba and Uriah in 2 Sam 12:9-14. David’s sin was classified as despising the commandment of Yahweh and doing evil. Because he had sinned secretly, slain Uriah, destroyed a household and taken Uriah’s wife, he would experience the same in full repayment - evil in his house, the defiling of his wives and open condemnation.
Hence God’s response to our lives is perfectly just. What we do to Him and to others, God repays in kind. Even the New Testament message was the same. In 1 Cor 11:30 Paul spoke about those who had neglected the importance of the spiritual feast at the memorial table. ‘For this cause,’ wrote Paul, ‘many are weak and sickly amongst you and many sleep.’ Their physical sickness could be traced back to a poor spiritual diet of the Word of God.
因此, 神对我们是完全公平的。我们是如何对待神和他人的, 神会同样报应我们. 即使在新约的信息中也是一样的. 在哥林多前书11:30,保罗说那些忽视纪念仪式上精神盛宴重要性的人会因此软弱, 保罗写道：“在你们中间有好些软弱的与患病的,死的也不少。”他们肉体的软弱是因为缺乏神的话语的滋养.
God is absolutely just in the measurement of these rewards. It should be noted that Jer. 17:10 teaches that God rewards a person according to a person’s ways and ‘according to the fruit of their doings.’ That is, the reward may not necessarily relate to an isolated incident, it is more likely to be a response to a whole way of life. Furthermore the consequences of the action, or the fruits of our deeds, are weighed and rewarded as well.
One of the most wonderful thoughts in relation to the response of God towards the faithful is contained in Ps 103:8-18. Here the psalmist states that God ‘hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.’ When God contemplates our shortcomings in all our struggles He is fully aware of all our circumstances and takes into account our frailty. Hence he never fully rewards the righteous according to the full measure their sins deserve. His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear Him. This is not so with the wicked.
The Preserving of a Remnant
In Hezekiah’s time only a fraction of the nation really understood the purpose of the Assyrian invasion. This small group of faithful brethren and sisters were called in v20 “the remnant of Israel” and those that “are escaped out of the house of Jacob.”
In actual fact they were two small groups - one from the north which had responded to Hezekiah’s invitation and had moved south - and the other living in Judah. For the first time in many years they were together and God addressed them both as they faced the brutal onslaught of the enemy.
Whilst the remnant were faithful they had allowed themselves to be caught off guard by putting their trust in the powerful nations of the day. And so Isaiah recorded: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon Yahweh the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.” (Isa 10:20-21)
They had wandered off the path and now it was time to lean upon God and return to Him. How important it is to trust in Yahweh with all our heart and not to lean upon our own understanding (Prov 3:5). This is what it means to lean upon God in truth. If our mind is stayed upon Him after this fashion, perfect peace will follow (Isa 26:3-4).
We have to believe that God is mightier than the powerful Assyrian. Our problems sometimes seem so powerful that we feel like giving up, but we have to trust in the fact that our God is greater than all these things. He can do more than we can ever think possible (Eph 3:20-21). All we need to do is to believe this and act upon it.
Hence Isaiah continues to offer great words of encouragement to this faithful remnant. “Therefore thus saith the Lord, Yahweh of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt” (v24).
The words He used to encourage the remnant were very simple, be not afraid of the Assyrian, but in saying this He was making a direct allusion to the offer He once made to Ahaz in chapter 7:4. God encouraged Ahaz many years before and now He was encouraging the remnant with the same thoughts - fear not, believe in my care and you will be established. Ahaz failed through unbelief. What now would the remnant do? Could they believe that God was dwelling in their midst? Could they believe that the Assyrian would be decisively removed?
神用来鼓励这些剩余的人的话语非常简单：不要怕亚述。但是神在说这些的时候直接引用了曾经给亚哈斯的比喻。神多年前鼓励亚哈斯，现在鼓励剩余的人，用的是同样的思想 – 不要怕，相信我的看护，你将会有所建树。亚哈斯因为不信而失败。现在这些剩余的人会怎样？他们能相信神在他们中间吗？他们能相信亚述被打败？
Every encouragement was being offered. Yes, God’s anger was evident in the invasion. Yes, they would be subject to the rod of discipline, but they had to believe it would soon pass. Could they endure for just a little longer? “For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction” (v25). Here is the wonderful thing about the God whom we serve. ‘His anger endureth but a moment; in His favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning’ (Ps 30:5).
Assyria would share the same fate as all oppressors who blaspheme God and attempt to destroy His people. God would brandish a whip over them and destroy them (v26-30). The taskmaster was about to become the slave and the slave was about to be set free.
This exhortation ‘be not afraid’ is one that is constantly before us in the Scriptures. Human fear is a barrier to faith. Faith and trust in God cannot grow when we are afraid. This is evident from the incident recorded in Exodus 20 when the children of Israel stood before mount Sinai and received the law.
The whole mountain was enshrouded with cloud and darkness. It also shook violently as the voice of God crashed over the plain. Israel’s reaction was one of pure fear. “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Ex 20:18-19).
But what is important to note is Moses’ reply to this fear. He said, “Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not” (v20).
Now there are two kinds of fear mentioned here - human fear and godly fear. The first is a natural human reaction to danger, but the second is based on knowing and understanding God (Prov 1:7). Human fear drives out our ability to trust in God. Godly fear allows us to draw near to Him in absolute trust.
在这里提到两种恐惧 – 人的恐惧和神性的恐惧。第一个是人类对于危险的自然反应，第二个是基于对神的了解和知识 （箴言1：7）。人性的恐惧给了我们相信神的能力。神性的恐惧使我们以绝对的相信来靠近神。
This is why we so often read the phrase ‘Fear not’ in the Scriptures. It is God’s way of saying that there is no need to be afraid of the difficulties that we face. When Jairus approached Jesus for help, the Lord responded by saying: “Be not afraid, only believe” (Mark 5:22).
We are a small remnant of believers living in the last days and often we face great trials and difficulties, just like the remnant did in Isaiah’s day. May we have the same courage to banish fear from our lives and to lean upon the mighty God of Jacob in truth.
· God describes how He uses the wicked (like the Assyrian) to forward His purpose and how He will punish then if they manifest cruelty, blasphemy and pride.
· Assyria is a tool in God’s hand to correct and chastise Israel even though it has no comprehension of this role (v5-7).
· God replies that once He has finished using Assyria in the chastisement of His people, He will return to punish it (v12).
· God rewards people according to their deeds and way of life - either for good or bad.
· As for the remnant (represented by the survivors in Jerusalem) they will turn to God in faith (v20-21).
· God exhorts the remnant in Zion against showing fear. Instead they need to believe that He will destroy the Assyrian and release Judah from bondage (v24-27).
· It is important to banish fear and develop faith instead.