John Carter – December 17, 2017
Text(s): Isaiah 59 & 60
Series: Advent 2017
Title: Light and Darkness – Advent 3
Location/Event: Fortuna Baptist, CA
Main Point: God’s Saving Light Will Never Grow Dim
Light and Darkness – Advent 3
|59 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
2 but your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not hear.
3 For your hands are defiled with blood
and your fingers with iniquity;
your lips have spoken lies;
your tongue mutters wickedness.
4 No one enters suit justly;
no one goes to law honestly;
they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies,
they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.
5 They hatch adders’ eggs;
they weave the spider’s web;
he who eats their eggs dies,
and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched.
6 Their webs will not serve as clothing;
men will not cover themselves with what they make.
Their works are works of iniquity,
and deeds of violence are in their hands.
7 Their feet run to evil,
and they are swift to shed innocent blood;
their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
desolation and destruction are in their highways.
8 The way of peace they do not know,
and there is no justice in their paths;
they have made their roads crooked;
no one who treads on them knows peace.
9 Therefore justice is far from us,
and righteousness does not overtake us;
we hope for light, and behold, darkness,
and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
10 We grope for the wall like the blind;
we grope like those who have no eyes;
we stumble at noon as in the twilight,
among those in full vigor we are like dead men.
11 We all growl like bears;
we moan and moan like doves;
we hope for justice, but there is none;
for salvation, but it is far from us.
12 For our transgressions are multiplied before you,
and our sins testify against us;
for our transgressions are with us,
and we know our iniquities:
13 transgressing, and denying the Lord,
and turning back from following our God,
speaking oppression and revolt,
conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.
14 Justice is turned back,
and righteousness stands far away;
for truth has stumbled in the public squares,
and uprightness cannot enter.
15 Truth is lacking,
and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.
The Lord saw it, and it displeased him
that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
and his righteousness upheld him.
17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
18 According to their deeds, so will he repay,
wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies;
to the coastlands he will render repayment.
19 So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west,
and his glory from the rising of the sun;
for he will come like a rushing stream,
which the wind of the Lord drives.
20 “And a Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord.
21 “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.”
|60 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
3 And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
5 Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6 A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you;
the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
they shall come up with acceptance on my altar,
and I will beautify my beautiful house.
8 Who are these that fly like a cloud,
and like doves to their windows?
9 For the coastlands shall hope for me,
the ships of Tarshish first,
to bring your children from afar,
their silver and gold with them,
for the name of the Lord your God,
and for the Holy One of Israel,
because he has made you beautiful.
10 Foreigners shall build up your walls,
and their kings shall minister to you;
for in my wrath I struck you,
but in my favor I have had mercy on you.
11 Your gates shall be open continually;
day and night they shall not be shut,
that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
with their kings led in procession.
12 For the nation and kingdom
that will not serve you shall perish;
those nations shall be utterly laid waste.
13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
the cypress, the plane, and the pine,
to beautify the place of my sanctuary,
and I will make the place of my feet glorious.
14 The sons of those who afflicted you
shall come bending low to you,
and all who despised you
shall bow down at your feet;
they shall call you the City of the Lord,
the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15 Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
with no one passing through,
I will make you majestic forever,
a joy from age to age.
16 You shall suck the milk of nations;
you shall nurse at the breast of kings;
and you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior
and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
17 Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
and instead of iron I will bring silver;
instead of wood, bronze,
instead of stones, iron.
I will make your overseers peace
and your taskmasters righteousness.
18 Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise.
19 The sun shall be no more
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give you light;
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun shall no more go down,
nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of mourning shall be ended.
21 Your people shall all be righteous;
they shall possess the land forever,
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
that I might be glorified.
22 The least one shall become a clan,
and the smallest one a mighty nation;
I am the Lord;
in its time I will hasten it.
So far in our advent series, we have seen the following themes of Darkness and Light:
- Genesis 1 – God created Darkness and Light
- Psalm 27 – Even in the Dark We are Waiting for God’s Light
- Isaiah 9 & 11 – The Messiah is God’s Light
This week the theme of Darkness and Light continues as we hear the prophet Isaiah teach us about the coming Worship of God’s Salvation in the Light.
- Isaiah 59 & 60 – God’s Light Will Bring Salvation and Worship
We Are to Blame for our Loss
In Isaiah 59:1-2,9 God declares that reason, why there is so much darkness around us, is that we have rejected God. Contrary to popular theology, collectively, humanity’s biggest problem is humanity. We blame God, we blame others, we blame institutions, governments, education systems, and other environmental issues. But fundamentally the reason why there is war, social disorder, political chaos, and the many other cultural woes is that people just like you and me have made a mess of our lives. It is unpopular to say this, but humans are basically evil, NOT good. Our heart and minds are inclined to do what is wrong, not right. Even without turning to the Scriptures this can be seen in our daily life in a variety of ways. We have to motivate ourselves to eat healthily. We have to motivate ourselves to fulfill promises we make. We even have to motivate ourselves to find nice things to say about others.
In the Letter to the Romans Paul quotes a list of Old Testament texts when he writes,
10as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16in their paths are ruin and misery,
17and the way of peace they have not known.”
18“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Nevertheless, we still blame God and accuse him of the brokenness in our society. When in all reality we are the contributors to the brokenness, not just victims. But it is precisely because we are victims of the very injustices we create that we beg for a solution. Blindly we grope in the darkness (59:10) hoping for a salvation (59:11), realizing that it is against God we have sinned (59:12).
God Saw there was none to save but himself
Too often we not only blame God for our current state of misery, but we also accuse him of being blind to the situation. Or worse, we act as if even he is incapable of finding a solution. But as Isaiah shows us (Isaiah 59:15b-20), God not sees the injustice; he is also displeased by it. Further, God knows that he is the only viable solution. And best of all God promises to act on that solution and become the savior and redeemer of those who turn from their evil (transgressions).
God Promises a Visible Salvation for All to See
And this is the promise of his salvation; God will make a covenant with his people and will shine his light for all to see. The covenant was a common public promise and legal agreement between two parties. All throughout scriptures, we discover that God, as YHWH, is eternally loyal to the covenants that he makes with His people. Not only is he faithful to his covenant, is able to enforce the fulfillment of his covenant agreements.
This covenant includes God’s Spirit being poured out on his people, the public proclamation of God’s word through the mouths of his people, God’s light made visible for all to see and finally the obedient worship of all nations in the coming age. This covenant is first mentioned by the Prophet Joel in Joel 2:30-32 about 100 years earlier (Isaiah 740’s – Joel 830’s).
This is groundbreaking, not only does injustice displease God, but he has promised to personally end all injustice through his own intervention— ultimately ending in the worldwide worship of the living God, YHWH.
Israel and Foreigners will Worship God in the Light
Earlier in our study of Matthew, we read in Matthew 2:11 that gentiles of great wealth came to give expensive gifts (gold, frankincense, and myrrh) to a Jewish king, born in Bethlehem. This event is foreshadowed in 1 Kings when Queen Sheba, an Ethiopian, comes to bestow gifts on the King of Israel. About 200 years after Isaiah, Haggai (520’s), prophecies of gentiles bringing gifts to the people of YHWH in obedience and worship of YHWH. This all supports what Isaiah speaks of here in 60:10-11. The proper response to God’s salvation will result in the sacrificial giving of material possession to God. Worship in the Bible is consistently in connection with the sacrificial giving up of earthly riches and resources for the glory of God.
God’s Saving Light Will Never Grow Dim
This is the climax of the Old Testament; a future where God’s people dwell in a holy city in the very presence of God (Hebrews 8:8-12; 10:16; 11:8-10; 13:14-15). A visible presence no longer limited to the most inner area of the temple. But a visible presence that actually, physically lights the entire city 24/7, every day of the year. What the world does not see is that an end to injustice is too low of a dream for the future. While most people around the world are striving for financial and political stability God has promised something greater. Peace and righteousness will finally be seen for all to enjoy. Further still salvation will come to all who desire. Zechariah 14:6-7, 17-19 and Jeremiah 31:31-34 speak in concert with Isaiah 60:19-22 about this promised city. But when we turn to Revelation 21:23-22:5 we finally have a clearer picture of this city and what it means. It means salvation for those who repent of their sins, transgressions, and injustices. It means unity among those who are called by the name of the lord, Jesus. It means that believers, both Jews, and Gentiles (non-Jews) will be welcomed into the presence of God to worship the lamb. The living sacrifice. The only righteous savior. Jesus Christ, the God-Man.
Connection to Communion