I thought I would share my first sermon ever given. This sermon was written with the help of the preacher working with my home congregation at the time (Doug Burleson). There is no "invitation" written out on this manuscript. I added it in by hand later. I just wanted to share and maybe get some feedback. Hope you enjoy!
*WARNING TO THE READER: This is my longest entry on this website as of today.*
God’s Amazing Offer
Do you know who this man is (show Billy Mays on screen)? You’ve probably seen him before even if you don’t remember his name. His name is Billy Mays. He is one of the world’s greatest salesmen. He is on TV every day and every night around the clock pushing products like Oxyclean, vegetable choppers, and the world’s sharpest knives. Why did I start tonight by talking about this guy? Because everytime you hear him talk it sounds as if he is making the world’s greatest offer. I mean it’s like if you don’t buy this product your life will not be complete. If you don’t have his knife or vegetable chopper your kitchen is insufficient. If you don’t have his oxyclean then those stains will never come out. Truth is…other products can cut vegetables, remove stains, and cut through an iron pipe, but he wants us to think that his product is the only one. SO tonight I want to spend some time talking to you about a product that we really do have to have to obtain life. The salesman you might have heard of: his name was Isaiah. He was a prophet.
A prophet spoke the message given to him by God. Isaiah is one of the most famous prophets whose name means “the Lord has saved.” He served as a prophet in the court of the kings of Judah. Context? Northern kingdom was about to fall (within about 20 years). Question for southern kingdom of Judah was whether or not they would learn from this. At the time he began to write, the Assyrians were breathing down their necks and the people felt threatened. God through Isaiah promised the people of Judah he would protect them if they stood strong in the faith. In the second half of the book (chapters 40-66) Isaiah turned to tell the people that God would bless them. Although they would fall to Babylon, God would preserve them and they would be exalted after their release. In spite of Israel’s sin God would bless them. The text we are going to be looking at tonight is from the section of Isaiah devoted to the sin of Israel (Isaiah 56:9-57:21). Good news will follow as we see that because of their sin and God’s preserving them God would be glorified. But the whole context is setting up two pictures: God on the one hand and humanity (especially Judah) on the other.
God was able to save Israel, but her sin had separated the nation from him. They had shed blood, told lies, and their feet were pursuing paths of evil rather than the righteous path that the Lord has instructed them to walk down. In other words, we see how bad things had gotten before we learn about how much better things would be once they were restored by God.
Tonight I want to tell you some about Isaiah, and hopefully we can all learn lessons from Isaiah.
A Summary of the Story of Isaiah:
- God made an offer to Isaiah and Isaiah accepted the offer. (Isa 6:1-13).
God specifically chose Isaiah to be a messenger and an example to his people of the righteous way to live. As explained before, the kingdoms of Judah and Israel were about to enter a time of trouble. Israel’s kingdom was about to fall, and the question was would Judah learn from this. God’s people needed to stay strong in faith and God saw this. God saw that his people needed guidance. He knew that people needed strong leaders to lead his people.
So God makes an offer to Isaiah.
- God makes an offer to Isaiah
In verse 6 of chapter 6, Isaiah’s lips were touched with burning coal and was cleansed by God. God then asks in verse 8Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then Isaiah accepts God’s offer to be His servant.
- Isaiah accepts God’s offer
Following the question asked by God, Isaiah replied in the same verse “Here am I, send me”. After Isaiah accepts God’s offer, God gives him further directions. Isaiah willing
- But if we notice what happened next God’s people rejected him and the prophets, choosing to take a different path (Isa 6:1-13; 56:9-57:21).
God delivered a prophet, Isaiah, to his people. Isaiah provided the light of God, showing the righteous way to live. However, unfortunately (this may not surprise you)just like many times before, the people left their first love (God) and instead turned to their own selfish desires, putting themselves first before God.
Just focusing on the second half of the book, we see many descriptions of God and Israel that contrast each other. Let’s just look at 3 verses. Turn with me to Isaiah 56:10-12. You can see how bad it got, and I would like to look at the difference tonight
|Contrasting God with Israel (humanity)|
|Descriptions of God in Isaiah 46-66||Description of Israel in 56:10-12|
|Sees it all (57:15)||Blind (v. 10)|
|Knows it all (57:15,18)||Ignorant (vv. 10 & 11)|
|Courageous (57:16)||Cowardly (vv. 10)|
|Determined (57:17,19)||Lazy (v. 10)|
|Generous (57:18)||Greedy (v. 11)|
|Prepared (57:14)||Short-sighted (vv. 11-12)|
As we see in Isaiah 56, Israel’s leaders were Blind, Ignorant, Cowardly, Lazy, Greedy, Short-sighted. Let’s take a closer look at the faults.
Blind: Isreal’s leaders were very blind. They were not familiar with the scriptures. They were not living in God. And Because of this, not able to righteously lead the people. For we see in Luke 6:39 that the blind cannot lead the blind. While this is from the NT, this was nothing new, the same application applied for the OT leaders. God provided a way to see, for God sees it all and saw that the people needed better guidance. For we read in Isaiah 57:15 that God lives forever on a high and holy place with the lowly and contrite. God, out of his love for His people, sent Isaiah to help them see the way.
Isaiah 57:15—God lives forever on a high and holy place and with the lowly and contrite
Ignorant: The people of God were Ignorant. They ignored the help God sent, and were set in their own foolish way. They did not want to admit that they were wrong, and were not willing change their set ways. They were convinced that they were right; however, in reality, they knew nothing. They were blind to everything. God on the other hand knows it all. Looking at verse 15 again, he lives on a high and holy place, resulting in seeing everything and knowing everything. He knew the people and their needs. As we also read in verse 18 God has seen man’s ways and knows everything he has done. He also knew what was going to happen and warned he people of the approaching danger. But just like times before, they ignored Him.
Isaiah 57:15—high and holy place, able to know it all
Isaiah 57:18—I have seen his ways, know everything he has done
Israel’s leaders were also COWARDLY. They did not want to face the problems that were before them. Instead as we read in verse 10 of chapter 56, they loved to lie around and dream. This is what would help contribute to the fall of Israel. Not willing to face problems will ultimately destroy anyone. God, however, is very courageous. He never flees from a problem, but faces it. He will always prevail. God also is very courageous in other ways. He says in verse 16 that he will not always be angry and will forgive. God MUST be courageous to constantly forgive those who do not deserve forgiveness. These are just a few ways how God is so very different from Israel’s leaders.
Isaiah 57:16—I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry. Courage to forgive those who do not deserve it
Israel’s leaders were also extremely Lazy:
As a result of the cowardliness of the leaders, they became lazy. As we previously looked at, in verse 10 they loved to lie around and sleep. They ignored all their responsibilities and became power-hungry people in high positions. Once they were faced with a problem they ignored it or did not even acknowledge it. Being a leader did not mean you would lead the people, it just meant that you were in high position and were born into the wealthy class. God never took a break or gave up on His people. However we see in verse 17 that God will turn his face away from the unjust, determined to remain pure and holy. He was always determined to help His people. In verse 19 we read that God is determined to heal the sinner, never giving up hope. God will always
Isaiah 57:17—Determined to remain pure and holy, turned his face away from the unjust
Isaiah 57:19—Speaks about being determined to heal the sinner, to get to work in restoring the sinner
Israel’s leaders became very Greedy:The leaders AND people were after their own gain. They leaders were not very Godly, who should have strove after God’s commands and approval. Instead they were looking from approval of men. God, however, was very generous toward the people. Time and time again he forgave the people. He offered not just second chances but third, forth, fifth, and well you get the picture. As we read in verse 18, God will heal, restore, comfort, and lead his people.
Isaiah 57:18—I will heal, restore, comfort, leading
Israel’s leaders were also Short-Sighted: The people did not think ahead, did not plan for the future. Instead they lived one day at a time. While this may seem like a great idea, its not. They were completely unprepared for what was getting ready to occur (they were going to be attacked). God, on the other hand, sent Isaiah to warn the people. He saw the whole picture, he was prepared.
Isaiah 57:14, build up, build up, prepare the way. God is preparing the way trying to remove the obstacles even though the ppl do not see them
- God’s people would face serious consequences for their sin (Isa 6:11; 56:9-57:21).
As we read in Isaiah chapter 6, God knew that the people were going to be attacked. HE knew that they were going to be beat. God let this happen because of Israel’s lack of faith, lack of respect for God. In chapter 56 and 57, we see this. God tells his people in 57 that he is going to let this happen, and it will not be to their benefit. (Isaiah 57:12) God was and is a just God
Many times God’s people rejected God and his help. God’s help came in many ways, this time through Isaiah. However, the people rejected Isaiah’s warnings and teachings.
The result of the rejection of God and his help via Isaiah was punishment. In this case the punishment was the destruction of a great nation. God was allowing this to happen and to punish his people, showing his wrath.
After the destruction of the people, they were humbled. They would realize how they were wrong, and the power and authority of God. Time and time again we see this pattern, God’s people reject God, then they are punished, and the people are humbled. And time and time again, God forgives his people.
- God’s people still had hope in spite of their failures (Isa 59:9-21).
But even after that, God’s people still had hope. Because of God’s forgiveness and grace, His people had great hope. In Isaiah 59 God explains how if they have faith IN Him, and live WITH Him, he will never disown them. In chapter 60 verses 20 and 21 it reads Then all your people will be righteous; they will posses the land forever. The branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified. The smallest one will become a clan, and the least one a mighty nation. I, the Lord, will hasten it in this time. These are such powerful words, showing the mercy God has on His people.
- Repentance and confession
However, they must repent and confess our sins to God, before they were forgiven. They must not only confess their sins but turn from them. Repentance is vowing to stop the evil act you have just done. The people needed to make a 180 degree turn, to head in the right direction.
- Armor of God: In verses 17 of chapter 59 we see the beginnings of the idea of the Armor of God written by Paul in the letter to the Ephesians. So even starting with Isaiah God’s people were being warned and told to be prepared arming themselves with the “Armor of God”
How does the story of Isaiah challenge us?
- God has told us how to live and reminds us in many ways.
Just like God sent Isaiah to tell His people how to live righteously, He sent His only son, Jesus to die a horrible death on the cross for our sins. Jesus lived the perfect life, living the perfect example. By Jesus’ ministry, teachings, and by the inspired scriptures, we are constantly reminded of how to live righteously.
- We have all rejected him and some are still on that path.
Just like Israel, we all fail God in many ways. We suffer many of the same temptations that Israel also suffered.
Maybe some of us are Blind. We are not familiar with the scriptures, and are unprepared for the temptations of the evil one. And we cannot expect to successfully lead others to Christ, because as we read in Luke the blind cannot lead the blind. But God is our eternal light, and he will show us the way if we live in Him.
Maybe some of us are ignorant, set in our own ways. We need to read the scriptures and listen to what God tells us through his Word. God knows everything. Sometimes it is best to change your ways.
Many of us may struggle with being afraid. God says over and over “Be strong and courageous”. We have no reason to worry or be afraid. God will always be with us, and he is not afraid. He is ready to face any problem with us and WILL help us through it.
Now this will take effort, and we, unlike Israel’s leaders, must not be lazy. We have to work to fix our problems. Temptations are things that appeal to us, that’s why they are so hard to stand up to. But we must remember what I Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as in common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
God is determined for you to be saved. He cares for each and everyone of you. He loves you and will never stop trying to help you come closer to Him, closer to Christ, closer to Heaven.
Or maybe some of us struggle with greed. We are after our own gain. We are more focused on gaining approval of man rather than God. We put our own wants before God, and essentially they become idols for us. There should be nothing you put before God. God makes it clear that he should be your top priority.
Maybe many of us are Short-sighted. We don’t see the whole picture and we live one day at a time. God however knows everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen. We must put our trust in God.
- If we make the same mistakes that Israel’s leaders made, we too will fall.
All of us will fall short of the Glory of God. We will sin, we will give into temptation. However, to be forgiven, we must ask for it and He will grant it. God forgives and forgets. But if we do not ask for forgiveness and continue in our life of sin we WILL be punished.
We all will sin, rejecting God. Then if we continue in rejection of God, continually sinning we will be punished, God will not forgive us, until we ask. If we realize our sin, we are humbled, like Israel was and must ask for forgiveness. However, if we never do this, God will not forgive us and we will be subject to his wrath. But we must do more than just confess our sins. WE must turn away from it. Turn 180 degrees around.
For example, if a murderer kills someone and says “Yeah I did it, I’m sorry” but the next day kills again, all he has done is confess. He has not repented. This is the same situation as us when we sin. Say we lie. If we lie then tell the person we lied to I lied and I’m sorry but lie again to that same person. WE have not repented.
- Until death or judgment, God still offers us a hope that we don’t deserve.
However, when we ask for forgiveness God forgives us every time. This shows great mercy, love, compassion and grace. God is a forgiving God and will take us back every time we fail. God says that if we confess our sins and repent of them he will forgive us. Like Israel lets do that, but unlike Israel lets not return to the same sin and truly repent of those sins.
As we read in Isaiah, we see the beginnings of the Armor of God. This was not a new teaching that Paul used in Ephesians. However, lets put on the FULL ARMOR OF GOD. In doing so we will be fully prepared for whatever the devils throws at us.
We must be truthful to keep all our armor on and together
To protect the heart we must be righteous
Footgear-readiness to spread word
We must have the right foundation to spread the word with eagerness
Depending on how strong our faith is how well we can defend all temptations that come our way
Sword-word of God