How many of you have ever been near a fire that was raging uncontrollably? This is a scary sight. I can recall at least two such occasions in my life. One occurred when I was a boy. A fire burned about 20 acres of pasture land on our family farm. We had to fight that fire. It was a scary scene. The other occasion was the time I found a neighbor and fellow church member’s home burning. The house burned to the ground before the fire department could get to the fire. I have also read stories of fire fighters who have fought forest fires out west and in America’s northwest. Sometimes those fire fighters lost their lives in such blazes. Fire is a frightening thing.
In the Bible, we find wickedness compared to a fire. We understand the analogy. Isaiah used such a comparison. Look at Is. 9:18-20. “For wickedness burns as the fire; It shall devour the briers and thorns, And kindle in the thickets of the forest; They shall mount up like rising smoke. Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts The land is burned up, And the people shall be as fuel for the fire; No man shall spare his brother.” The reason I use this text is because we celebrate independence day this week. However, I wonder how long this will continue. I see wickedness burning like a flame across America.
Join me in making the comparison. Isaiah had witnessed the corruption and degradation of the Israelite people. He had seen the jaws of sinful pride sink her teeth into this great people. As he witnessed her downfall he described what he
saw as burning like a fire. I believe that the same fires which destroyed Israel may well be flickering in the background in America. Let’s examine God’s word and think about the comparison for a few moments.
I want to share a simple outline tonight. I want to examine four conditions that were present when God judged the nation of Israel. These conditions were present when the fires of judgment were ignited. We will pull these principles directly from the text.
1. The first condition was a people filled with pride. Look at verses 9 & 10. The people “say in pride and arrogance of heart: The bricks have fallen down, But we will rebuild with hewn stones; The sycamores are cut down, But we will replace them with cedars.” (NKJV) God was sending judgment on the Israelite people. They made two mistakes. First, they ignored the cause of the calamities. Second, they arrogantly boasted that they would rebuild. It is as if they thought they did not need God.
The Bible says “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Prov. 16:18 NKJV) The Bible tells us “God is opposed to the proud.” (I Pet. 5:5 NKJV). “A man’s pride shall bring him low.” (Prov. 29:23 NKJV)
Illustration: I once read a story about a little frog that wanted to go south for the winter. It was too far to hop and he did not have wings to fly. Two birds felt sorry for the frog and together they came up with a plan. The birds would hold each end of a stick in their beaks, the frog would clamp down on the stick with his mouth and and the birds would