Back in the day…
Isaiah 23: 11-18
“Cross over to Cyprus even there you will find no rest…” In other words, if you’re trying to get away from what God has in store for you, you’re not going to be able to. “Look at the land of the Babylonians, this people now of no account, the Assyrians have no made it a place of desert creatures…” That’s the snakes and jackals. “They raised up its siege towers, they stripped it’s fortresses bare and turned it into a ruin. Wail you ships of Tarshish, your fortress is destroyed!” (Oh I wish I had a praying church.) But right there, there is an exclamation point because there is a break in the communication. It changes right there. You see because Tyre had once been a glorious city, but now it has fallen down. It has been punished by God. It has lost its beauty. Amen?
But here’s a break right here because at verse 15 it says, “at that time Tyre will be forgiven; and Tyre will be forgotten. It will be forgotten for seventy years: the span of a king’s lifetime. But at the end of those seventy years it will happen to Tyre, as in the song of the prostitute, take up a harp, walk through the city, oh prostitute forgotten, play the harp well. Sing many a song so that you will be remembered.” In other words Isaiah is saying to Tyre you’re just like a prostitute. You used to be pretty. But you’ve lost your beauty. And now that you’ve lost your beauty, you’re going around singing the old songs about how pretty you used to be. (I can see you all don’t like to help preachers here.) And says here that if you go around singing about how pretty you used to be people will remember you from the old days. Oh help me to preach.
And then it says, “at the end of seventy years the Lord will deal with Tyre and she will return to her hire as a prostitute and will ply her trade with all of the kingdoms on the face of the earth. Yet her profit and her earning will be set apart for the Lord. They will not be stored up or hoarded. Her profits will go before them that live before the Lord, and for abundant food and fine clothes.” (Amen? Amen.) If I can find some folk who will help me to preach, because I told y’all already I’m from the country and being a poor country preacher, I’m not a person who can preach by myself. I need a lots of help. So then if I can find 10 people who will help me to preach this morning, then I want to preach from the subject: “Back in the day”.
How many times have you been in a conversation, folk sitting around reminiscing; talking about how things used to be. And somebody would come up in that conversation and say, “oh we were quite something back in the day”. (Oh I feel my help coming. Oh but it ain’t time to preach yet.) I need everyone in here that’s gonna help me to preach, I need you to come and touch me and give me some of your power as we sing “Lord Send a Revival”.
This morning I want to tell you a story. Now the story isn’t about a little boy or a little girl. As a matter of fact the story doesn’t have to do with a person at all. But rather our story today is about a city. The city was named Tyre. You know about Tyre…it’s what happens to us at the end of the day. We get… The city of Tyre was a beautiful city. It was one of the most beautiful cities on the entire planet. What had happened is, because of its superior abilities, it was blessed by God. It had built up some beautiful houses. It had built up a powerful army. But the city of Tyre was best known for its sailing ships. It had the most beautiful, fastest, sailing ships in the entire world. And because it had these big beautiful, ships it had the world’s most beautiful harbor. When you’re sailing into the harbor at Tyre, oh it was the most gorgeous sight to behold. So you would see all these beautiful buildings and beautiful ships all lined up in the harbor. They had excelled. They had the best sailors in the world. And their trade was the biggest and best trade in the world. They were absolutely filthy rich because they had these big beautiful ships and excellent sailors. And they were known for their trade and their harbor. They had become famous all over the world. (So somebody say “famous”.)
But something happened. (Do you know the story?) But something happened to Tyre. Tyre decided that she was gonna become arrogant. She thought she was so big and so beautiful because of who she thought she was. She had become big and beautiful but she failed to give honor to God. She failed to give God the glory. So then, you may not remember anything else that I have to say today, but I just stopped by to tell you that whatever you may have and whoever you have become you have become that by the grace of the Lord God. You have what you have because God has blessed you. Not because you’re so wonderful, but because of the goodness of God. (And my 10 people are you with me this morning?)
Some of us once we get a new house you can’t speak to anymore. Some of us have become so arrogant that I think I’d hate for it to rain and you know why? Because if it rains, some of them might drown because their nose is too high up in the air. Some of us, we have become arrogant at the drop of a hat. We used to pick cotton. We used to be out in the fields chopping tobacco and following that mule train. Oh but we got a little promotion at the phone company… oh Lord… you notice how they just kinda float into the room now. And some of us we used to shoot around in a little Volkswagon, oh but now… oh but now… now we got us a Lexus… we got us a Mercedes-Benz. Oh don’t touch my ride. Don’t touch my ride. We become arrogant because we think that my car is better than your car. And we forget that the only reason that we have a car is by the goodness of God. The only reason we have a car is so we can give somebody else a ride to the House of God. Oh we get arrogant.
And not only people, but churches get a little arrogant. Our choir got eighteen colors in our robes and we got a new way of coming into the church. You all don’t come in like we come in. We have to hit both walls when we come in. Some of us become arrogant because some of us can hit a high note.
Some preachers they become arrogant simply because they are on the ticket. “Oh you ain’t on the ticket?” The only ticket that I’m worrying about is a ticket to glory. Some of us… oh here we come… here we come… here we come… I’m coming… I’m coming… I’m coming… right? Some of us we get arrogant because somebody told us we were cute. “I’m so cute that I’m too smooth to move honey. Oh I’m as smooth as a snake on the lake.” Come on now! You know some of us think we’re pretty we got a jerry curl, or a used to curl, or a don’t curl. “Oh honey you know you got it going on sugar. You all that and a bag of chips!”
I just stopped by to say that Tyre made a mistake because they didn’t give glory to God. And whatever we have, we only have it because God gave it to us. And we only have so somebody can say, “look what the Lord has done”; so we can bring honor and glory to God.
Tyre became arrogant because she was ungrateful. And I just though that I’d remind us that whenever we become arrogant and ungrateful then our ships start sinking. Tyre’s ships were going down all over the world. She was so arrogant that her trade began to dwindle away. She was so arrogant that her sailors all became drunk. You see the Lord God will take us at the very point of our arrogance and make that the very point of our embarrassment. (You don’t understand. I know you don’t know what I’m talking about. You don’t believe that.) You see, I know you don’t have anybody up here that has this thing. But back home where I come from we have these things called extensions. You know weave? And so you got a little raise so you went and bought you some hair. Walking around talking about, “oh I have good hair”. What do you mean good hair? That ain’t your hair in the first place. You see because the God that I serve will take your arrogance and make your hair fall out. You see He’s got them numbered on your head. So honey you ain’t the only one that can buy some hair.
And you know I got some preachers back home where I’m from, walking around with their $100 shirts with these big ole gold chains hanging around their neck as if being a preacher is suppose to mean that you’re supposed to be rich. What are you doing with $5,000 in gold chains on your neck and the people you’re preaching to are still on welfare. Those chains will choke you in a heartbeat.
Some of my people back home get out in the sun and swear up and down that they have smooth skin. The Lord will turn that skin into a sea of zits. You better… you better chill on that.
So Isaiah says to the city of Tyre that if you are so arrogant and you refuse to give God the glory, here’s what God is going to do. And a whole lot of people are confused when bad things start happening to them, they start talking about the Lord is punishing them. The Lord isn’t punishing you. Whatever is happening to you, you’ve brought it on yourself. You don’t need to think that this is of the Lord you need to blame yourself. (Are you praying with me?) You see because when we love the Lord, and we have a relationship, He puts a fence all around us. And some of those things that ought to have happened to us, they don’t happen to us because He’s a protection… He’s a barrier… He’s a sword… He’s a shield… He’s a rock… He’s a buckler… I like the way that David said it, “He is a very present help in the time of trouble”. But when we start getting big headed, the Lord says alright just let me lift that barrier from around you. You got it by yourself.
Now you understand, see now the Lord said to Tyre, “I’ve blessed you, I’ve kept you, I gave you all those beautiful things. But instead you became arrogant and you didn’t give me the glory.” And I want to say to the young people, you ain’t all that. I know you think you’re the bomb. Well whatever you are, the Lord God made you. You didn’t make yourself. I know you might think that you’re God’s gift, but you better chill on that and give God the glory.
So because Tyre didn’t give God the glory, God lifted His barrier of protection. I hurrying… I’m trying just a quick as I can… And because God lifted His barrier of protection the city went into ruins. It fell down. And Isaiah says, “now that the Lord is not protecting you anymore, you’re gonna be just like a run down, broken-down prostitute; who used to walk around painting yourself up, she used to look so good so that she could attract some business”. (You know what I’m talking about.)
“Oh but she doesn’t look so good anymore. And she can’t attract business anymore. So she has to go around the city singing about how good things used to be.” “Back in the day I used to be so pretty. I used to have lipstick all on my face.” (You understand what I’m talking about.) And some of us go into the chests and look at the old pictures and we look and say, “my, my, my I was something back in the day.”
Don’t sit up here and act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. You know good and well what you used to do back in the day. When you hear the Temptations… when you hear that Little Stevie Wonder… and you go around the house talking about back in the day. We were something back in the day. I used to be slender and a lot more tender back in the day. And oh God when you take out some of them prom pictures…
And my teenagers think that they’re so old coming up talking about back in the day. What you talking about back in the day? That’s when P. Diddy was Puff Daddy… and Usher, and Destiny’s Child… and Lil’ Wayne was just Waymon.
Oh I’m taking my seat. I just stopped by here to say to every church that the black church, just like Tyre, we used to be God’s most powerful vehicle. Back in the day we knew how to praise God. Nobody had to stand in front of nobody and had to say, “say Amen”; because you came in to church just to say Amen. You came to say, “hallelujah”; because you brought the Holy Spirit with you. Nobody didn’t have to beg us to praise the Lord. Nobody didn’t have to tell us to sing.
You see when we was choppin’ cotton in Sous Care-a-line and we had to follow that ol’ mule name Pink over in Mis’sippee. And don’t be laughing ‘cause we had to catch watermelons here in Florida… and send them up north… And when were poor, but we could sing. When it became Wednesday night you could hear the church of God from two miles away. “Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah…” You could hear us singing from miles away. But now we got a Towncar… we got a Lexus… we got a duplex… and you can’t hear us two pews away. “Praise God from whom all …”
Pitiful. Pitiful. We have gotten pitiful now that we have gotten well to do. And when we start talking about the church, we used to get to church before church school started at 9 am, and have worship at 11, and get out on the lawn get a little brown bag lunch share with somebody in the neighborhood. And by the time we finished eating then you had to go back inside for 3 o’clock worship service and along would come Sister Gary with some barbeque chicken and some potato salad and we would have dinner. (Does anybody here know what I’m talking about?) Then we had to get back inside for 7:30… back in the day. But let me tell you when we used to sit in church all day, we built Edward Waters College… we built black colleges… we built Fisk University… we built churches… now we have bachelor’s degrees… master’s degrees… doctor’s degrees and we ain’t built nothing!
We go around talking about back in the day. And some of these young people if they had to sit in church as long as we had to sit, they’d have a conniption fit. And what about some of us? We know we used to worship from 9 in the morning ‘til can’t see at night. But when the preacher gets a little long for our taste…