Summary: Isaiah uses the rock of Abraham as a source of comfort and hope to the Israelites and us who face difficult times.
December 31, 2004 Isaiah 51:1-6
1 "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; 2 look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many. 3 The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. 4 "Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations. 5 My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm. 6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail. (NIV)
Dear friends in Christ awaiting the New Year,
For Christmas I bought my children two walkie talkies. When we returned to Norton this past weekend, we had all the cousins split up into two groups. Within about a quarter mile range, we hid two objects. The object of the game was for one team with the walkie talkie to find the two objects without being caught - at the direction of a person in the middle with the other walkie talkie. It was a glorified game of hide and seek to a point - but a lot more fun. Sometimes the teams found the objectives, sometimes they were caught before they could complete their tasks.
In today’s text, Isaiah addresses those who are seeking something that is impossible for man to find. They are seeking the LORD and pursuing righteousness. This is no easy task - for he can’t be purchased on isle six of Wal-mart - nor can righteousness be achieved by pledging to perform a new fitness plan at Wynmor. As a matter of fact - just seeking the LORD is no normal thing that is commonly found on this earth - for who would seek someone who can’t be seen, and who would pursue something that can’t be felt? Yet that is the kind of person that Isaiah is addressing this evening. He is talking to you who are seeking and pursuing righteousness from the LORD - to have what the Baptists would probably call a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” How is such a thing achieved? Can it be? We’ll address that today as we see that -
The LORD Offers Sight for the Seekers of 2005
I. Rocks can’t see
If you came to this worship service “seeking the LORD,” Isaiah says, Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; 2 look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many. The first place Isaiah directs your eyesight is to the rock from which you were hewn. A friend of mine used to tease our fellow classmate. He would say, “where’s the painting?” Our classmate would ask, “what painting?” He would then say, “the Norman Rockwell painting you climbed out of.” Our classmate (and friend, I might add), then laughed heartily, for he looked exactly as if he had climbed out of a Norman Rockwell painting. It wasn’t exactly a compliment, but it was all in jest. In today’s text Isaiah says - “look to the rock from which you were cut.” Is that a compliment or a cut? At first glance, it doesn’t seem much like a compliment. If our core base is rock - what is so attractive about a rock? Kids with pet rocks aren’t exactly the most spoiled children in the world. Rocks are cheap. They don’t do anything. They have no life. They just sit there. They don’t talk. They’re usually just grey. For the most part, they’re just dead and heavy objects.
Therefore, when God says, “look to the rock from which you were hewn,” in comparison with Abraham, what’s his point? From a negative point of view, like Abraham, we were all just like dead rocks. Paul put it this way, Ephesians 2:1, 12 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins . . . you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. It kind of reminds me of a movie my kids recently watched. It contained a father who used to be a frog - but who was turned into a king by a fairy godmother. The fairy godmother kept on threatening to turn him back into a frog if he wasn’t careful. So this king and father continued to live in fear of the godmother lest she turn him back. He lived with the constant reminder that he only had a frog’s beginning. God reminds us - remember where you came from - a rock - like Abraham and Sarah who were well beyond child bearing years - you were like a dead and lifeless ugly piece of stone.