Summary: Isaiah’s prophecy about the "Day of the Lord" is a call to action - not just some fascinating information.
[Show movie trailer for 2012]
By now most of you are probably aware of the movie “2012” which was released this last Friday. Like other end of the world movies such as “Independence Day’, “Armageddon”, and “The Day After Tomorrow” which preceded it, this movie is intended to entertain us, but it really doesn’t require us to take any action in light of what we see in the movie. In fact, most of these movies do just the opposite – they leave us with a feeling of futility as we see how helpless that we are to deal with these catastrophic events.
And if we’re not careful, we can drift into that very same mindset as we continue our journey through the Old Testament prophets, and eventually the Book of Revelation. It is easy to look at these prophecies and the events that they represent and to view them only as a source of information, or even entertainment, but never be called to action as a result of what we are learning.
This morning we’re going to continue our journey by looking at Isaiah 34 and you can go ahead and open your Bibles to that chapter. While there is a great deal of significant and important information in that chapter, perhaps the greatest value of this passage is that it calls us to action as a result of what we learn here. In fact, the chapter begins and ends with action words- with commands to take action regarding the words that Isaiah is going to speak, and then write down, in between those calls to action. So it seems only appropriate for us to cover that material in that same pattern. We’ll begin and end with a call to action, and then view the material in between in light of those commands:
A CALL TO ACTION – HEAR! (v. 1)
Draw near, O nations, to hear,
and give attention, O peoples!
Let the earth hear, and all that fills it;
the world, and all that comes from it.
Isaiah 34:1 (ESV)
Isaiah begins this message with a call to hear. That call to hear is so important that Isaiah repeats the command twice. It is also a universal command. It is directed toward all the nations and all the earth and those who fill it and come from it. Therefore it is also a call to us as well.
The Hebrew word for hear that Isaiah uses twice in this verse is the word “shama”, a word that means to hear intelligently. It is not merely the passive accumulation of facts, but a thorough understanding that leads to an appropriate course of action. It is a concept that is embodied in this verse, which is known by the Jewish people as the “Shama”:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Deuteronomy 6:4 (ESV)
When Moses gave the command to hear, it was an admonition to consider the fact that God is one and then to live in light of that truth. And in the passages which follow Moses provides additional information that is intended to help his audience understand in practical terms how to do that.
So Isaiah’s admonition to “hear” calls us to consider very carefully the words he is about to communicate. We need to hear them intelligently so that we might make the proper determination about how to act in response to those revelations.
There is an important application for us to take from this verse before we proceed with the rest of the chapter:
• APPLICATION #1 – The hearing of God’s Word always calls us to the appropriate action.
The information that Isaiah was about to reveal was not intended to be like our current end-of-the world movies that are only intended to entertain, or possibly, in some cases, to make us think. The purpose of Isaiah’s prophecy was that people would adapt their conduct right then and there in response to this information. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to determine the original source for this quotation, but it is a great summary of this principle:
Information without application leads to fascination. Information with application is the only thing that leads to transformation.
This is a principle that we find throughout the Scriptures. The words of Jesus certainly confirm this concept:
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”