Sermon – What God says about our idols (Isaiah 46:1 – 46:13) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
Plan your visit



What God says about our idols series thumbnail
Sermons in series

Show all Down arrow 75 sermons

Spotify logo Apple logo Google logo

Ben Read photo

Sermon 60 of 75

What God says about our idols

Ben Read, Isaiah 46:1 - 46:13, 16 April 2023

In this one-off special, Ben preaches to us from Isaiah 43:1-13. In this passage we see God’s message to the his people about their idols (things they were worshipping other than God) - and what it means for us today.

Isaiah 46:1 - 46:13

46:1   Bel bows down; Nebo stoops;
    their idols are on beasts and livestock;
  these things you carry are borne
    as burdens on weary beasts.
  They stoop; they bow down together;
    they cannot save the burden,
    but themselves go into captivity.
  “Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
    all the remnant of the house of Israel,
  who have been borne by me from before your birth,
    carried from the womb;
  even to your old age I am he,
    and to gray hairs I will carry you.
  I have made, and I will bear;
    I will carry and will save.
  “To whom will you liken me and make me equal,
    and compare me, that we may be alike?
  Those who lavish gold from the purse,
    and weigh out silver in the scales,
  hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god;
    then they fall down and worship!
  They lift it to their shoulders, they carry it,
    they set it in its place, and it stands there;
    it cannot move from its place.
  If one cries to it, it does not answer
    or save him from his trouble.
  “Remember this and stand firm,
    recall it to mind, you transgressors,
    remember the former things of old;
  for I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me,
10   declaring the end from the beginning
    and from ancient times things not yet done,
  saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
    and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
11   calling a bird of prey from the east,
    the man of my counsel from a far country.
  I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
    I have purposed, and I will do it.
12   “Listen to me, you stubborn of heart,
    you who are far from righteousness:
13   I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off,
    and my salvation will not delay;
  I will put salvation in Zion,
    for Israel my glory.”


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

We're taking a short break in our songs of Ascent series.

Ben will explain a bit more about that in a moment. But we aren't going to read this. I was high 46. Bale bails down. NEBO stoops low.

Their idols are born by beasts of burden. The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary. They stoop and bow down together unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity. Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he.

I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you. With whom will you compare me or count me equal to whom will you like and me that we may be compared. Some pour out gold from their bags and weigh out silver on the scales.

They hire a goldsmith to make it into a god and they bow down and worship it. They lift it to their shoulders and carry it. They set it in its place and there it stands. From that spot, it cannot move. Even though someone cries out to it, it cannot answer, it cannot save them from their troubles.

Remember this? Keep it in mind. Take it to heart you rebels. Remember the former things. Those have long ago.

I am god, and there is no other. I am god. And there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come. I say my purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.

From the east, I summon a bird of prey, from a far off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about, what I have planned, that I will do. Listen to me, you stubborn hearted, You who are now far from my righteousness. I am bringing my righteousness near. It is not far away.

And my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion. My Splendor to Israel. Okay. Well, good evening for me.

My name is Ben. 1 of the passes here at the church. Good to have you if you're new visiting or if you're joining online, it's good to have you tune in. There is an an official line on why we're in Isaiah tonight taking a break from the songs of ascent, and that official line is this. I'll give you the candid line later if you come up and ask me.

But the official line is we've been celebrating our twentieth anniversaries of church. We had a special day yesterday. We had a great time together. This morning, we had a fantastic the guest preacher. And in the theme of taking sort of a pause from our normal program, we are taking a week out in Isaiah, and that's the official line.

If you want the candid lie, you can ask me later. But it's great. It's fantastic. What an amazing passage actually. It's so many incredible things God says to us here in this in this chapter.

So let's pray. Let's ask for the Lord's help that he blesses us with his word, that he feeds us that he exposes sinning us and that he shows us Christ and heals our our wounds. By looking at him and knowing him. So let's pray that. Father, we thank you so much for your word.

That you are a god who speaks, and as you speak, you breathe life. I pray, pleased that your holy spirit would help us now to have eyes to see the truth of this chapter, the things that you want to deal in our hearts with, the things you want to show us about Christ, and and give us hearts that long for Jesus and love him as the kind king that we heard about this morning. So please help us now in Jesus' name, amen. Okay. I think a couple of weeks ago, not sure if it was mentioned last week, but a few weeks ago, Rory mentioned race across the world, this TV show.

Don't know if anyone's been watching it. Yeah. Kerry has been having it on repeat. She's doing this thing where she's I think season 3 is coming out and it's like every week there's a new episode. So she's doing this thing where she's watching season 2, sort of back to back, and then waiting for the season 3, season 3, and then she's back to season 2 carrying on.

Waiting for the next episode to see. So sometimes I'm like, who am I watching here? You know, are they going to cross Canada or somewhere else? Anyway, race across the world. The premise is these people are sort of teamed up in couples and they're trying to get other side of the world as quickly as possible on a limited budget.

And it's very fractured because people are in these tense tough situations. They have to make split second decisions. They're under a lot of pressure. And what you see is cracks start emerging. In the character of these people.

We know that, don't we? When we're in positions of stress and difficulty, we crack and cracks that we're always there but kind of hidden politely behind our nice social exterior suddenly get blast open. I don't know if you've ever seen those amazing ball structure things that you see in toy shops that are like cages. And you throw them up in the air and they expand like that. But if you've ever seen that and then you catch them in this, they they sort of crumple down again.

Well, that's what happens to us when when we come under pressure. We like that ball. And all of our little sort of gaps and cracks explode open. And you can see what you're like sort of on the inside. And having a baby is an amazing big moment where you see.

Oh my goodness. I thought I had dealt with that. But it's huge. It's absolutely massive. So I don't know what you think about me.

I don't know whether you think I'm a nice person. And I've only met some of you a couple of times. I know some of you know me a bit better. I can tell you there is a limit to my nicest. Yeah?

I'm very good at being very sort of polite and nice and smiley, but I have learned that there is actually a limit to my niceness. I'm sort of sad to say because, you know, the first time that Kerry is is sitting down feeding LED and asked me to, oh, Ben, can you just get me that? And I'm like, yes, darling. I will lay my life down for you. I will go and get that thing.

I go and get the thing and I bring it back and then she's like, oh, can you also get this done? Yes, darling. I will lay my life down for you. And I get up and get that thing. And then the third time, I'm like, yes, darling.

I will lay my life down for you and I'll get another fourth time, my heart starts thinking surely I've laid my life down enough. Isn't my life just on the floor? And so what I've learned actually is my heart doesn't actually really believe what God says. It's quite shocking. I thought I did in my head.

I know in my head. I hear God's word. I hear what he says to me. I go, I I agree with that Lord. I believe it.

You know, when Jesus says, it is more blessed to give than to receive. I I hear that and I agree with it. But actually, what my heart says is is no. That's the wrong way around. Jesus got that wrong.

It's way better to receive than to give. Surely. So I have realized I have the idol of self, and that's been very clear to me as I've been under this new pressure of having a newborn. I I've seen that really the god that will rescue me and satisfy my heart what my what my my sinful heart says is myself. That's what my heart has shown me.

So, you know, when I'm gladly serving in the temple of self, and I'm I'm a priest in my own temple of self and I'm trying to get my football team ready for my fantasy team and Carrie asked me to do something again. I think, surely, I've done enough here. Surely, you know. Surely, I've laid my life down. And I've said that's what it's been for me.

It's been very interesting. As as a Christian, when these moments in your life, you get to look at yourself and you say, whoa. Hey, I thought I'd dealt with that. That's much bigger in my heart than I thought it was. So that's that's what it's been for me recently, but I wonder, what is it for you?

What pressure in your life is exposing those cracks in your heart? Is it maybe a stable few I just want control over my future and pressure has come in my life. My future is now uncertain. And whoa. Suddenly, I see this massive crack.

In my heart or or worldly success. Maybe you've got a friend or someone you know who's just absolutely boss in life at the moment. I've got a friend who at Uni was like this guy. He's gonna what is he gonna do in his life? He's gonna trouble along.

And now he's literally playing gigs in front of thousands of people. And you look at him online and you go, wow, mate, you've made it. How how we could count the heads in here compared to 7000 people that he's got, wow, success. Oh my goodness. Maybe a happy marriage.

Maybe your marriage is not as happy as you thought it was. That's the pressure. Maybe your children, you hoped so many things for them. I'm right at the beginning of my journey, so I'm not disappointed yet. And as he hasn't let me down once yet, except for pooing all over my lap at a wedding a couple of weeks ago.

But an idol is anything that we look to aside from god as our foundation of joy happiness, security, hope, or even justice. And if you want to know what temple you serve in, you know, what idol do you have? What cracks have you got in your life? I think there's there's quite a simple test, and the simple test is this. When was the last time you felt a sense of injustice against yourself?

And and I don't mean, you know, genuine sort of abuse or neglect, you know, put those things to a side where someone's genuinely hurt you. But when was the last time in the normal course of life? You're just getting on. Something happens, which shouldn't, but enrages you because you feel like you're in you're in the temple of of yourself. You're trying to do something.

And someone's come and demanded something of you where you have to put it down. When was the last time you felt, hang on a minute. Wait. Wait. Wait.

Finish this sentence for me. I deserve. What do you deserve? Or I have a right to, well, wait, no, no, 5 more minutes. I have a right to.

That's the temple that you worship in. And there's a major problem with idols. There's a major problem with these idols and these cracks that appear in our heart because what we see is that these idols that we look to for a sense of fulfillment satisfaction joy, they don't deliver. So me sitting down thinking, oh, I wish Kerry wouldn't ask me to get it 1 more time because then I would be happy is wrong. That idol doesn't deliver.

And God in his great love for us shows us that in this passage. That's what he shows us. Really clearly, that's what this chapter of Isaiah is all about. It's about the foolishness of idolatry, and it's about what God says to us. To us through it.

So look at verse 5. He says, with whom will you compare me? Where else are you gonna look for fulfillment, satisfaction, and peace? Then do you honestly think that getting your fantasy football team? Is good at perfect and getting the highest score in the Cornerstone football league, which I think by the way Chris Bradshaw is leading at the moment.

Do you honestly think beating Chris Bradshaw at fancy football league It's gonna make you happy. It's gonna satisfy you. It's gonna give you meaning and contentment and peace. Well, maybe a little bit. But it won't.

Fancy football is a false idol. No. Okay. So bit of context for this passage here in chapter 46, Belle and Nebu. Great great names aren't they?

They were the premier gods of the premier nation on earth at this time. Babylon was this amazing nation. Nothing else in the whole world like it. And their premier gods were Belle and Nevo. So Belle is it means Lord.

It's where Bale comes from. And Nevo was interesting. He he was like a word. Interestingly enough. He was like the god scribe.

He was the god who created writing and he acted as like a prophet. An interpreter for a bell to the nations. So you've got this kind of pseudo lord and word in Babylon, which is interesting. These are the premiere gods of the day. And together, as they operated together, they were like the gods of order and destiny.

So if you wanted good crops, you would pray to Belle and Sonnebo. If you wanted a happy marriage and lots of children, you would pray to Belle and Sonnebo. You wanted to control your life, you know, whatever idol you had in your heart wanted to achieve, whatever you thought would satisfy, you would pray to them, and they would give it to you. That's the idea. So what God does here in this chapter is he takes the 2 greatest idols on earth as an example, for all other idols, whatever they may be, and he's gonna preach to us.

Show us how pathetic they are, how they don't fulfill our desires, and then really what does fulfill our desires. And I've got 3 points tonight. The first 1 is listen. You see that in verse 3. Listen.

The second 1 is remember in verse 8. And the third 1 is listen in verse 12. Listen, remember, listen. And the first point is listen. God carries you.

God carries you. There's a really stark contrast here in this chapter between what God does and what idols do. I wonder if you noticed it as we were reading. Because in verse 1, we see bell bowels down. Nevo stoops low.

Their idols are born by beasts of burden. So this is kind of foretelling what's gonna happen to these idols. God is saying even, you know, as grand as they are, as high as they're raised up, they're gonna bow down low. And he's actually foretelling what's gonna happen in the future. They're gonna be brought down these idols, and they're gonna be carried off by beasts of burden.

So they're gonna be physically carried away. These idols. And they're heavy loads. They're born by beasts of burden. You can't carry these statues and these idols away yourself.

You can't just have a couple of blokes there. Yeah. Come on. Give me a hand with Bell. Let's take them away.

They have to be dragged away and pulled away by beasts of burden. So they're heavy these idols, they're heavy physically, but also spiritually, if you look at the second half of verse 1, The images that I carried about are burdensome. They're a burden for the weary. That's ultimately what idols do. They stand up and look pretty.

They promise you freedom. They promise you liberation. They promise you join contentment. But in the end, they don't fulfill and they're actually a burden. For the weary.

They crush you. They pin you down. So when money is our idol, you just are enslaved to work on you. Just want a bit more money. Okay?

I'm gonna get a second job. I just want a bit more money. Okay? I'm gonna kick that person out the way so I get promotion. I want a bit more money, so I'm gonna go gambling.

That idle crushes and weighs upon you. When popularity or self images your idle, that's crushing, isn't it? It's exhausting keeping up an appearance. Trying to look the best on social media, trying to present yourself perfectly all the time. I don't know if you've seen, I think it's on ITV.

There's this I'm TV series. There's 1 called I'm Victoria. It's just exhausting to watch. There's a woman who's just obsessed with her image and how her kids dress and how her house is and how people outside see her and her makeup and her hair and what food she cooks for guests who come to, it's exhausting to watch. That idling her life is just crushing.

It doesn't bring her freedom. It's crushing. What about success? I've already told you about my friend. It's got 7000 people watching them amazing.

If if that's an ideal, it crushes you because 7000 is not enough. I want 70000. The things that we thought would satisfy us and bring us rest are actually they're a burden and they make us weary. Now here's the difference with God. Here's the really amazing stark contrast that this that this that this chapter is just beautiful at painting.

Notice the difference with God. Look at verse 3. Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob. Remember, these idols are carried and they're burdensome. This is what God says.

Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob. All the remnant of the people Israel. You whom I have upheld since your birth and have carried Since you were born, even to your old age and grayheads, I am he. I am he who will sustain you. I have made you an I will carry you.

I will sustain you and I will rescue you. There you see? An idol is a lifelong burden that has to be carried. God is the lifelong burden bearer who carries you. Amazing difference.

Maybe you come across the the poem footprints in the sand. You come across that 1. Sort of a quite famous Christian poem. If you don't know it, the premise is that a man or someone walks along a beach and as they're walking along a beach in the sand, they're seeing various scenes of their life play by. And when they get to the end of their life, They they say to God and they look back over their life and they see 2 2 pairs of footprints in the sand where they've walked as God their whole life.

But They noticed that in the difficult and dark times of their life, there's only 1 pair of footprints. And they say, God, In the darkest moments of my life, why did you abandon me? Why did you let me walk those moments by myself? And God says to the person. No.

No. In those moments, that's when I carried you. That's when there's only 1. For Prince in the sand because I was carrying you. That's a nice poem, isn't it?

But I actually want to say it's wrong. When you look back over the course of your life, you will only see 1 pair of footprints in your life. There is only 1 pair of footprints in the sand. Then that's what God is saying to you here because from the moment you were conceived, God was carrying you. The the word born here is actually the word womb.

So it's it's like it's saying from from from the moment that you were in the womb, I have carried you. You haven't walked by yourself without me. I have carried you. The ESV puts it really beautifully. It says, you who have been born my born by me from before your birth carried from the womb.

Before you belong to your parents, you belong to God and he carried you. I mean, something Kerry says often about Melody. Our new baby girl is, I didn't make that. I didn't make her. Give me a say, well done.

Congratulations, girl. Amazing. You did it. You did it. Carrie's like, no, I didn't.

Gotta knit hair together in my womb. I just sat here and ate popcorn. Labor is not just sitting there eating popcorn. But God made her, and that's what God says here. He said, I made you.

I made you. It's an amazing warmth that God shows here in this passage. Listen to me, he says, you whom I've upheld since your birth since carried since you were born. It's so fatherly, isn't it? It's so I I made you.

I love you. I formed you. I'm the 1 who carries you. I've carried you. And it's also to the day you die.

It says even to your old aging gray hairs. And the implication there is not just to old aging gray hairs and then God drops you, but even through and into death. God will carry you through death. You know, we change through life. We we're born.

We grow older. We die. Doesn't change. He carries us from the moment. We're in the womb all the way to our death.

When we look back, we will see 1 pair of footprints, the Lord's, as he's carried us. I am he who sustains you. I think sometimes we think of God as being up there and we're walking along and something bad happens, so we say Lord come and help. But actually, he's the 1 who sustains us. He's the 1 who who is who has given us the breath in our lungs at this very moment.

That is not just something that God has put into motion and let lets you get on with. But he has given you that breath in your lungs, that beating of your heart, the food in your bellies, everything, the clothes on your back, everything is given to us by God, he has sustained us. We're like Frodo's imagining this. We're like Frodo, if you know the scene, we're we're being carried up the mountain by Sam Wise Ganji. We're weak.

We can't do it on our own. But Sam who loves Frode picks him up and carries him. That's what the Lord does for us. Even our salvation is achieved through god carrying our sins on himself. He says at the end at the end there.

I will sustain you and I will rescue. I have made you. I will carry you. I will sustain you. I will rescue you.

Turn a few pages with me to Isaiah 53. Just flick a few pages on to to page 741 in the church bible. Isaiah 53. And then look from verse 4. Surely, he took our pain.

And bore us suffering. Yet, we considered him punished by God, stricken by Him and afflicted, but he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was on him and by his wounds we are healed. We are all like sheep, have gone astray.

Each of us has turned to our own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. And then look at verse 12. Do I mean verse 12? I don't mean verse 12. I'll do right at the end.

Right at the end of verse 12. For he bore the sin of many and made intercession for transgressors. We sing a song here. We sing we sing all our sickness, all our sorrows. Jesus carried up the hill.

It's a song that we sing. And he didn't look at us and say, I'll I'll carry you, but I won't carry that. I'll carry you, but I won't carry your sufferings. I'll carry you, but I won't carry your your rebellion and your idolatry. The weight of Jesus picking us up and carrying us was the weight of the cross on the back of Jesus.

The ESV says I have made and I will bear, I will carry, and I will say, what an amazing picture that is of God carrying our sins on his back. There's much more to this than just I'm gonna carry you through life. It's I will bear your sins myself. I will pay for that sin. I will carry it.

I will save. And so listen, God says, where does satisfaction come from then? Where does happiness come from? Where does salvation come from? Not from idols that are just gonna crush you and make you weary?

But from God who made you, who's a father, who loves you, who is carrying you, who has carried you, by the way, whether you knew it or not, all the way to today and is gonna carry on carrying you through life even to death. And so the question is, what Idyll is crushing you at the moment? What I do is a burden on you. What are you carrying every day that's heavy? What burden do you have in your life will come to back to Jesus who was crushed for our iniquity, who bore your sin It's amazing.

Jesus says come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. So listen, God carries you. That's the first point. The second point. Remember, God has a plan.

You can just click the slide on down. God has a plan. Look at verse. So if you go back to Isaiah 46 and look at verse 8. Remember this?

Keep it in mind. Take it to heart your rebels. Remember the form of things those have long ago. I am good. And there is no other.

I am god and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come, I say, My purpose will stand. And I will do all that I please. From the east, I summon a bird of prey from a far off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about, what I have planned, that I will do.

And here again, God is contrasting himself with the idols of Babylon because remember Belle and Nephew together were the gods of destiny and order. And so you would pray to them if you wanted your crops to grow or your children to be well and healthy. If you wanted to change the the course of your life and alter the future, you prayed to them. Your plans were in their hands. They were idols of control.

And nowadays, it might be I want a nice house. I want kids. I want good health. I want a stable income and job. I want friends that don't move away.

And to that, To our desire for control, God says remember the form of things. I am god and there is no other. He says I am l and there is no other. You shall have no other gods before me. That's what we think of.

Have no other gods before me. Remember remember what God has given his people the commandments. You shall have no other gods before me. There is no other. Stop looking for idols.

So thinking, Belle will make your crops grow. He won't. There is no other god beside me. And then he says it again. It's interesting.

God is punctuating this. But the second time, he doesn't say I am l. He says I am Elohim, which is the plural for l. And it's actually the word used in Genesis 1. So we're we're thinking back to Genesis the maker of heaven and earth in the beginning God, Elohim created.

So, you know, remember who you're dealing with in other words is what God is saying. Remember who I am. The God, the only God, the plural unity, the maker of heaven and earth, your future is not in your hands. Your future is not in the hands of an idol. It's in the hands of the 1 who made you and who loves you.

And who made all things. Look at verse 10. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come. Now how is it that God can make knowing the end from the beginning? Is it just because he can see the end?

So he you know, God is outside of time. He sees every moment as a present moment. Is it just that God sees the end and says, I'm gonna make that end known? Or is it more than that? Is it because he's shaping the future?

Do you see how confident God is with the future? Look at the second half of verse 10, he says, I say, my purpose will stand and I will do all that I please. God is a purpose. He has a plan. And he does that which pleases him.

Verse 11 b, look at the second half of verse 11. What I have said, that I will bring about, what I have planned, that I will do. So, you know, go ahead and pray all you want to an idol. Go ahead and work as hard as you can in this life to control various parts of your life and elements, and what you will find is that God is the only 1 who does as he pleases. God is the 1 with the plan.

And he gives an example of it. He gives an example. Very illustrative. God, he gives an example in verse 11. From the east, I summon a bird of prey from a far off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.

Now that's talking about Cyrus, we learned about him in in the earlier chapter 45. Cyrus was the leader of the rising Persian empire. And what God is doing is summoning the Empire from a far off land to come and invade babylon and to bring judgment against them for what they've done to God's people. And, you know, it says I summon a bird of prey. Birds of prey circle, don't they?

They're up in the air. They're circling because they see a corpse or they see a wounded animal that's about to die. And so they're circling above. They know that there's blood and they're gonna feast too. And so that's what Babylon is.

Babylon, this great epic empire, nation on earth, as as grandiose as it thinks it is, as un sort of shakeable as it believes that it is, as confident as it is that it is the way in the salvation It's just a corpse, really. And God is gonna bring judgment upon it. And the gods of Babylon themselves are going to be carried off into exile when Persia invades that we saw that in verse 2. If you look up at verse 2, the bell and Nevo, they stooped down, they bowed down together, they're unable to rescue the burden. They themselves go off into captivity.

And so God is displaying to us whatever ideals you have, they themselves are going to be brought under judgment and carried away. Even your gods not just the the people, but even the gods of the people are gonna be carried away. Belle is not lord. You see how clearly God is showing us this. Belle is not lord.

Neville is not the word, but he is a God. With a plan to save his people from captivity, and he's disclosing this plan to them. He's he's proving this point God He's saying, I make known the end from the beginning. And here's an example, in about a hundred years' time, I'm gonna raise up a bird of prey to come and he's gonna deliver Israel from captivity in Babylon. And that's exactly what happens.

So here is an example of where God is not predicting the future, but saying this is my plan. It will happen and it did happen. Verse 5 again, with whom will you compare me or count me equal. God says, God is the 1 with the plan. But what about when you don't like God's plan?

I've spoken to someone once, you know, and and they've gone through a tough time in their life and you say, well, you know, the Lord has a plan. He's he's working things out for your goodness. Yeah. Well, I don't like God's plan. I don't like this thing that's happened.

I have a complaint to make against God's plan. If you've ever asked that, then the last point is another lesson. God saves. God saves. In verse 8, God is speaking to rebels.

He says listen you rebels. In verse 12, he speaks to the stubborn heart that you are far from his righteousness. You rebels. Listen, you rebels. Listen, you stubborn hearted.

That's pretty much the summary of the the old testament. God's people in the old testament. They're rebels. They're stubborn hearted. They're sinners.

They constantly turn to idols. It's amazing. As soon as God saves his people from Egypt, they're in the wilderness. And they wished they were back in Egypt. They missed the cucumbers.

They missed the way things used to be. Even though God saved them from it, how quickly they turn their rebels, they're stubborn hearted. Now that summary from God, you rebels, you stubborn hearted, it's quite a scary summary. Given what God has just reminded us about himself. He's just reminded us that he is the only God, the maker of all things.

He's reminded us that he has a plan and whatever he says goes, and he's reminded us that he's carried us our entire lives even when we've neglected that. But what God shows us here is though we are rebels and though we are stubborn. His plan for us However, it's being worked out in our lives through joys, through sufferings, it's to bring his righteousness near to those who are far from it. So look at verse 12. Listen to me.

You stubborn hearted. You who are now far from my righteousness. I mean imagine what God could say after that sentence. Listen to me, you stub and hearted, you who are now far from my righteousness. Sounds like he's about to bring the hammer down in judgment, doesn't it?

Verse 13, I am bringing my righteousness near. Is not far away. My salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zai on my splendor to Israel. I will brought my salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel.

And now in the short term, in the context of what's going on here, That salvation is is Cyrus and the Persian empire coming to invade Babylon and free God's people from captivity. That's the short term. My salvation will not be delayed God says, and he does bring that salvation in history. Persian Empire comes, invade Babylon and God's people go free back to Israel. But in the long term, what God is doing is ultimately summoning a man from a far off land, not just Cyrus, but a man to fulfill his great purpose who's the lord Jesus Christ.

There's a man from a far off land coming to fulfill his great purpose. And the great purpose is this. The father is summoning this man to carry us into the cross. That heavy load that Jesus bore on his back and Jesus is gonna pay the penalty for our rebellion, for our stubbornness, for all of those cracks that appear in our heart when pressure is put on us. And we see them, we so arms, so ugly.

Can't believe that's still a crack in my heart. Jesus takes all of that upon the cross and he pays the penalty for it. And he brings me his righteousness to us. That's an amazing line. This is so good news.

This is such good news for me personally because as as pressure comes in LED, exposes the cracks in my heart. The the good news is this. Jesus has paid for that idolatry. So when I'm sat there going, oh, I've laid my life down enough. I see how rebellious I am.

Jesus has paid for that rebellion. That stubbornness of heart. But also, God has granted salvation to me. Not because I don't have any cracks in my heart, but precisely because I do have cracks in my heart. He has brought his salvation near to me.

He's brought his salvation near to me. Because you see who's doing the work of salvation here. God says, I am bringing my righteousness near. Ben, you're not gonna have to go to my righteousness. I'm gonna bring it near.

It's not far away. My salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion. My Splendor. To Israel.

God is the 1 who does it. He's the 1 who brings righteousness near to me. He takes he carries my sin on the cross in Jesus. And he brings his righteousness near to me. That's good news for me when I see the cracks in my heart.

And the result of this salvation is the splendor, amazing line to finish on. I will grant my salvation design, my splendor to Israel. That word is it means beauty, glory. My my Spanish granddad used to say the best thing about the glory of God is the God of Glory. The best thing about the glory of God.

Your God is gonna grant his splendid to us. He's gonna grant his glory to us. What's the best thing about God's glory? It's God. He's the best thing about his glory.

And so that's what God is gonna grant us, not just forgiveness of sins and an eternal life to live, but he's gonna give himself. Us who were rebellious and stubborn hearted, he's gonna give us himself. And so if you're looking around your life, good. I'm not sure what God's doing here. Not sure what the plan is here, God.

What is the plan here? That's you. The plan of God is to grant you salvation through faith in his son. And to carry you through the joys and sorrows of this life, to make you ready to receive him. And his glory and his splendor and his beauty.

That is what God is doing. That's his plan. However, that's being worked out in your life. That is the plan. Let me just finish by saying, reflecting on this line where God says, I am bringing my right business near is not far away.

In the context of Isaiah 46, when God says my righteousness is near, it's not far away. He meant I'm bringing this Persian empire to invade and to free. It's not physically far away. It's not that long away. That's what he meant then.

But this idea of of god's righteousness not being far away now is different for us here in today. Acts 17 says this God is not far from any 1 of us. God is not far from any 1 of us. But in him, we live and move and have our being. And so the distance between us and God's righteousness isn't time.

So if you're thinking, oh, God will save me at some point in the future, or if God's righteousness is not far away from us in the sense of I have to do lots to retain it. The distance between God's righteousness and us is faith. Now, so when God says, my righteousness is not far away, the distance is faith. And so the question for us is, do we trust him? With our lives.

Do we have faith in the lord Jesus Christ? So will you trust him with your life? And will you join me in turning from the idols of our hearts laying down our lives truly, asking God to change our hearts that we would love him, And will you join me in following the Lord Jesus Christ, who doesn't crush us, but he himself was crushed. And he invites us up to see the glory of God and to know God himself in his face to see him. And so these are the 3 points I wanted to share.

He carries us. He's got a plan, and he saves. Let's pray. Let's thank the the Lord for these things. Father, we thank you that you've spoken to us through your word.

We thank you that you show us clearly that idols will never satisfy us or save us. And Lord's yet so many times we we follow them and we we think they will satisfy us. We thank you that you show us and you say listen Thank you that you've got us to listen. Help us to remember that you are the god with the plan. Thank you for that that plan is salvation and it's glory.

And father, I pray for us that we would hear these words, that you are the God who saves as we've been singing. You are the god who in all of our sufferings and difficulties are the ones who taking us from this life to the next to see your splendor. Father, thank you that you are the 1 who is in control. And I pray that you would work these things into our hearts, that we would follow you and trust you, and have faith in the lord Jesus, and we ask this in his name, amen.

Preached by Ben Read
Ben Read photo

Ben is a Trainee Pastor at Cornerstone and lives with his wife Ceri who is a youth leader and helps run the women’s ministry in the church.

Contact us if you have any questions.

Previous sermon Next sermon

Listen to our Podcasts to help you learn and grow Podcasts