Summary: This is the 1st sermon in the series "God’s Care For His People".
Series: God¡¦s Care For His People (Isaiah 40)[#1]
1. Who here enjoys riding roller coasters? If you like riding roller coasters, why? You would probably say things like, ¡§I enjoy the loops, or the curves, or the fast speeds¡¨. But let me ask you another question, ¡§Would you like to be on a roller coaster 24 hours a day, 7 days a week¡¨? Of course not, you would be sick.
2. Often times, life is like a roller coaster that you can never get off of. Just about the time things smooth out you go into another loop or curve. Spiritually, these loops and curves are our own fault. We fall to sin and God allows us to go into a ¡§tail spin¡¨ or ¡§tight curve¡¨ in order to get our attention.
3. This is what was happening in Israel. The people would sin, God would punish them, they would repent, and God would forgive them. This still happens today with Christians. In the first 39 chapters of Isaiah, the prophet was warning the Israelites of their pending captivity because of their sinfulness; but all of a sudden in chapter 40, the theme changes.
1. Isaiah lets us know that the theme has changed by going right to a word of forgiveness. Isaiah announced to the people the promise of everlasting forgiveness had been made by God and they were just awaiting the coming of the Messiah so this promise would be fulfilled. Isaiah is instructed by God to speak to the heart of Jerusalem (that is what ¡§tenderly¡¨ means), ¡§and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD¡¦S hand double for all her sins.¡¨
2. Does this mean that God made them pay for their sins twice? No, God doesn¡¦t just keep punishing us over and over for one thing. God is consistent. So what does this mean? It was an Eastern custom that if a man owed a debt he could not pay, his creditor would write the amount of the debt on a paper and nail it to the front door of the man¡¦s house so that everyone passing would see that here was a man who had not paid his debts. But, if someone paid the debt for him, then the creditor would double the paper over and nail it to the door as a testimony that the debt had been fully paid. This picture is the announcement to Israel as a nation that in the death and resurrection of her Messiah her debt has been fully paid. We are given the same announcement concerning our sins.
3. This is the gospel, the Good News. There may be someone here this morning who feels burdened about the mistakes, the wrong things they have done, or the hurt they have caused. This word of forgiveness and reconciliation is directed to you. All you need to do is confess your sinfulness to God and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for your sins on the cross and was raised on the third day. Once you are saved things should begin to change.
1. These are the same words spoken by John the Baptist who was the forerunner of Jesus Christ. John was the fulfillment of this promise of God.
2. These two passages define the ministry of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He was to declare that when the Messiah came, His ministry would not only be one of reconciliation, but also one of reconstruction. He declared there would be a highway, built in the heart, for God to travel on. Four steps would be involved in the building process: ¡§Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain¡¨. Construction engineers know that this is exactly how highways are built even today.
3. In this symbolic language the prophet is saying that this is what God undertakes when He comes into our lives. When we have received his forgiveness, the next step is that He begins to change us, to reconstruct our lives.
„« ¡§Every valley shall be raised up.¡¨ In the low places of life, the discouraging times, times when you feel crushed and defeated, there will be comfort and encouragement from the Lord.
„« ¡§Every mountain and hill made low.¡¨ All those places where our ¡§ego¡¨ comes out, our times of boasting, our grasping for power; these must be cut down. We must be humbled.
„« ¡§The rough ground shall become level.¡¨ God ¡§straightens us out¡¨.
„« ¡§The rugged places a plain.¡¨ We must be ¡§straightened out¡¨ so that God can build upon our lives the things He needs there.