RPM, Volume 15, Number 46, November 10 to November 16, 2013

The Dire Consequence

Isaiah 5:9-10, 13-17, 24-30

By D. Marion Clark

9 The LORD Almighty has declared in my hearing:

"Surely the great houses will become desolate,
the fine mansions left without occupants.
10 A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a bath of wine,
a homer of seed only an ephah of grain."

13 Therefore my people will go into exile
for lack of understanding;
their men of rank will die of hunger
and their masses will be parched with thirst.
14 Therefore the grave enlarges its appetite
and opens its mouth without limit;
into it will descend their nobles and masses
with all their brawlers and revelers.
15 So man will be brought low
and mankind humbled,
the eyes of the arrogant humbled.
16 But the LORD Almighty will be exalted by his justice,
and the holy God will show himself holy by his righteousness.
17 Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture;
lambs will feed
among the ruins of the rich.

24 Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw
and as dry grass sinks down in the flames,
so their roots will decay
and their flowers blow away like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the LORD Almighty
and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25 Therefore the LORD's anger burns against his people;
his hand is raised and he strikes them down.
The mountains shake,
and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets.

Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
his hand is still upraised.
26 He lifts up a banner for the distant nations,
he whistles for those at the ends of the earth.
Here they come,
swiftly and speedily!
27 Not one of them grows tired or stumbles,
not one slumbers or sleeps;
not a belt is loosened at the waist,
not a sandal thong is broken.
28 Their arrows are sharp,
all their bows are strung;
their horses' hoofs seem like flint,
their chariot wheels like a whirlwind.
29 Their roar is like that of the lion,
they roar like young lions;
they growl as they seize their prey
and carry it off with no one to rescue.
30 In that day they will roar over it
like the roaring of the sea.
And if one looks at the land,
he will see darkness and distress;
even the light will be darkened by the clouds.


In our previous message we reviewed the types of wrongdoers that Isaiah was pronouncing his woes upon. There are those who covet and defraud others to fulfill their greed. Others delight in debauchery. There are those who engage in deceit. Some have gone so far as to reverse the moral order, calling what is evil good and what is good evil. And then there are still others who make a mockery of what is good.

That Isaiah introduces each of them with the expression "woe," means, of course, that they will be expressing that term some time in the future. Judgment is coming. I think in this context, Isaiah is speaking of the destruction and exile to come on the nation of Judah. Verse 13 speaks of his people going into exile, and verse 26 speaks of a doom that will come through other nations.

Let's see what we can learn about God through this judgment to come.

The Judgment

The first lesson we can learn is that he fits the judgment with the crime. God is just. For the coveters who defrauded their neighbors to amass property and wealth, their property will become desolate (because they will not be alive to live in them) and the value of what their land produces will become almost worthless. For those who are filling themselves with drink and pleasure, ignoring the role of God, they will die of hunger and thirst. Instead of swallowing food and drink, they themselves will be swallowed by the grave. For those of deceit and who in their arrogance turn evil into good and mock what is noble, they will be extinguished as dry grass by fire and dead flowers by the wind. By the measure sinners use, so God judges.

The second lesson to note is God's disdain of human pride. 15 cf 2:9,11,17 if anything God disdains it is man's arrogance
- not the pride of taking delight in pleasing someone else or in fulfilling one's gifts
- the pride that gives credit to self
- that causes one to live for one's own glory
- that causes on to compete with God

The third lesson is God's righteousness. 16
holy — to be separated; God separated from all other created beings in his purity
righteousness — holiness expressed in moral principles
justice — the application of righteousness

God relates out of his holiness
- he is exalted by his justice, i.e. he is truly exalted by carrying out the demands of righteousness
- he is not exalted by excusing sin or embracing us in our sin
- his holiness/righteousness is the essence of his being
- it is our failure to understand that that we ironically accuse him of being unjust
- we measure him by our standards which themselves are maladjusted

We have faulty scales;
- we are miscalibrated so that by our very nature we cannot discern appropriately the judgments of God

God judges because he is righteous

The fourth lesson is God's compassion. 17
- though a judge he is also a shepherd
- in the midst of ruins he provides for his sheep
- however severe God may be in judgment, compassion always comes through

When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, 2 and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, 3 then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Dt 30.1-3

36 The LORD will judge his people
and have compassion on his servants
when he sees their strength is gone
and no one is left, slave or free. Dt 32.36

15 "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you! Is 49.15

The fifth lesson is God's power. 25
the earth shakes under his power

The sixth lesson is God's sovereignty. 26
34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: "What have you done?" Dan 4.34-35

God does as he pleases & he uses whomever he desires for his purpose
- just as much as he uses his obedient servants so he uses the wicked who think they defy him

a good lesson to keep in mind during the elections
- is fine as citizens to promote our candidates
- is fine as Christians to pray that our candidates may win
- but never act as though we fear that God's will will be thwarted
- he in control
- even if we should suffer at wicked leaders' hands, it only by his design

What do we know about judgment?
- we fret over defending God' judgment to unbelievers & even to ourselves
- keep in mind what we know about God
- his righteousness & justice & holiness greater than ours
- his compassion greater than ours
- his power greater than ours
- let God be God & let us trust him to do what is good

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