Summary: God is with me, but I must choose to be with Him
This last week, we’ve all seen the horrible destruction that Hurricane Harvey has inflicted in Texas and Louisiana. Because that has dominated the news cycle, many of us might have missed some of the other news this week. On Monday, a teenager armed with two handguns entered a library in Clovis, New Mexico and killed two people and injured four others. On Tuesday, North Korea launched another missile – this time right over Japan and overnight they claimed to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. And despite the way our nation, and especially the state of Texas has come together to help each other out in the wake of the hurricane, the deep divisions in our country continue to fuel protests and counter protests, which seem to increasingly become violent.
Closer to home, we see loved ones diagnosed with cancer, or dealing with other serious health issues. We see marriages that are on the rocks and families struggling with serious financial problems.
And when we see those things all around us, I think we’re all tempted to ask, “Where is God?”
The simple answer to that question is that God is with us. But let’s face it – in the midst of all these things going on around us, in the midst of our own trials and difficulties - it doesn’t always feel like it, does it? But, as we’re going to learn this morning, that is not God’s fault, it’s our fault. I know this meme is rather clichéd, but it nonetheless is true.
[If you ever feel like the distance between you and God is getting bigger, just remember that God hasn’t moved an inch]
Or, as we’ll discover this morning…
God is with me,
but I must choose to be with Him
Last week we looked at the account of Elijah, who prophesied to the northern kingdom of Israel under the reign of King Ahab. If you still have your handout from last week, you’ll see that today we’ll go forward about 125 years and move our focus from the northern kingdom of Israel to the southern kingdom of Judah under the reign of King Ahaz.
As we discussed last week, and as you can see on your handout, while all of the kings of Israel were evil, the southern kingdom of Judah alternated between kings who followed in the steps of David and obeyed God and those who did not. There is little doubt about which of those camps Ahaz was a part of:
In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, began to reign. Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God, as his father David had done. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.
(2 Kings 16:1-4 ESV)
But this morning, rather than looking at the account of his reign as recorded in the books of Kings or Chronicles, we’re going to study one chapter in the book of Isaiah, the prophet whose ministry spanned about a half century during the reigns of four different kings of Judah, including that of Ahaz.
Isaiah’s name means “YHWH is salvation” and that name proves to be quite appropriate since that is the theme of his ministry and the book that he authored.
The book of Isaiah is one of the longest in the Old Testament. It contains the most comprehensive picture of the Messiah in the entire Old Testament, which is why it is quoted more times in the New Testament than any other Old Testament book except the Psalms. When Jesus preached His first sermon, it was from the book of Isaiah. So obviously it is an important book for us to study. Unfortunately, however, our schedule is only going to permit us to look at one chapter, albeit a very important one.
Before we do that, let me give you a brief overview of the entire book, which answers the question – Who can deliver Israel? – and the one that is even more relevant to us – Who can deliver us?
OVERVIEW OF ISAIAH
• Chapters 1- 5 – Israel in need of deliverance
• Chapter 6 – Isaiah’s prophetic call (pattern for Israel’s deliverance)
• Chapters 7-39 – It is YHWH who delivers
o Chapters 7-12 – Historical account of King Ahaz (who doesn’t trust God and Judah is defeated)