Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes


Isaiah Speaks to America
Pastor Steve Schell
Isaiah 1:2-20
All through the prophecies of Isaiah we hear God speak to nations. Of course, most of the focus is on Isaiah’s own nation of Judah, but He also speaks to Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Aram, Samaria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Edom, Arabia and Tyre. He judges the sins of those nations and causes one to rise up and another to fall. He even names a ruler of one of them over 100 years before the man was born. So He is not just the God of Israel, He is the God of all the earth whether a nation acknowledges Him or not (Isa 40:12-26). Ultimately He controls the destiny of nations and the course of human history. This is not to say that He is responsible for the evil they do, we humans are responsible for that, but with remarkable patience He steers (and I think also brakes and accelerates) the course of history with the goal in mind of saving the greatest number of people. It is His unseen hand that has ensured that the Savior would be born, that the gospel would spread throughout the earth and that the antichrist spirit has not been allowed to take over the earth until the maximum number of souls is gathered into God’s kingdom. Obviously God allows an enormous amount of evil to be done by the nations of the world, but His patience with them is not infinite. At some point He says, “You’ve gone too far” and allows us to reap what we sow, which includes lifting His protective hand.

As we enter the new year I think all of us feel uneasy and are asking ourselves, Has America gone too far or is there still hope for our nation? That God’s hand of protection and blessing is lifting from us seems unmistakable to any objective observer, but we “who are called by His name” (2Ch 7:14) must ask ourselves, What is our role in this critical moment? Is it possible for our nation to halt its slide down the curve all nations seem to take? I think it is, but I also think many believers have been looking to wrong places for our rescue. Today, Isaiah will point us in the right direction.

Spiritual realities are the real cause of the physical realities we see around us.
• Read Isaiah 1:2-9
• Unbelievers laugh at this notion. They mock the idea that you could pray and change the weather or economy or crime rate or stop terrorists or hostile armies (Ps 14:1).
• There is no God in their world so all things must be the result of human effort, biology or chance.

God warns nations in time to avoid catastrophe
• Read Isaiah 1:16-20
• God is very patient, giving people time to repent and He waits for a particular threshold to be crossed (Ge 15:16).
• Isaiah warns the northern kingdom before the Assyrians (721 B.C.) and the southern kingdom (Judah) before the Babylonians (586 B.C.).

There are specific things that bring His judgment
• Injustice, violence, bloodshed, idol worship, abusing the poor, giving them no help (58:1-11), drunkenness (5:22), lying, calling good evil and evil good (5:20), human pride, being wise in our own eyes (not looking to Him) (5:21), bribes (5:23), mediums, spiritists (8:19), no pity on widows and orphans (9:17), false prophets, seers (30:10)…

How does God deal with a rebellious covenant nation?
• (5:5) Remove its hedge, break down its wall
• (5:6) Stop the rain (cut off its daily bread) (Dt 28)
• (8:22) Darkness, no revelation from God (He stops speaking)
• (9:11) He raises up adversaries

Is America a covenant nation or simply one more Gentile nation?
• Does God choose this or do we? In Israel’s case He chose them (Ge 12:1-3), but like Ruth we can also choose Him (Ru 1:16-18; 3:7-9).
• Uganda
• “One nation under God”
• We have always been a nation with two streams: gold-seekers (Jamestown) and God-seekers (Plymouth), and it remains so today.
• The size of our God-seeking minority and the fact that biblical righteousness went into our founding documents and laws have brought God’s blessings.

Isaiah warns that the ungodly will not repent even when confronted with the evidence that God is judging them.
• Confrontation only serves to harden their hearts like the plagues that hardened Pharaoh (Is 6:9-12; 9:13; 22:12-14; 26:10; 42:24, 25). They respond but their response is strange and misdirected.
• When God judges He starts gradually and intensifies. There are strange patterns in it which show He is behind it (Am 4:6-12).
• God does not call people to become more religious (Isa 1:10-15) but to repent (1:16-20). In other words, He wants us to surrender our independence and rebellion and come into a submitted, trusting relationship with Him.

How can America be rescued?
• Stop hoping human leaders or political parties or our military or our police (note: I didn’t say stop praying for them!) or education or the economy or…
• Remember: principle #1
• Remember: God focuses on what His people do, not what unbelievers do. Read 2 Chronicles 7:14: humble ourselves (focus on our sins not others’ sins); pray (ask for forgiveness and healing); seek His face (worship); turn from our wicked ways (repent and model godliness).
• Isaiah 41:27-29; 59:14-16; 63:5
• Ezekiel 22:23-31 “stand in the gap”

What’s the solution?
1) Pray for God to revive His church.
• Only transformed people can transform a nation (salt & light)
• Identificational repentance (Da 9:3-19)
• Stop criticizing and start praying in groups (1Ti 2:1, 2; Mt 18:19, 20)
2) Live prophetically
• Break with the cultural norms (greed, pluralism, sexual immorality, purposeless living…) (Rev 2:14; 3:17)
• Live together as a loving community (Jn 17:23)
• Do “good works” (Mt 5:16) so that unbelievers may see them and be drawn to God.
3) Live in a microclimate of blessing. Even though God may lift His hand of blessing from a nation, He will not lift it from individuals, families, churches, businesses, cities, etc. who walk in obedience to Him. Even though there are storms around us we can live in a “microclimate” of blessing. Certainly what our nation does effects us all, but the obedient have an unseen resource that becomes more and more amazing as the general circumstances around us decline. This is part of our prophetic witness to unbelievers who watch us.
• We can live in this microclimate if we: repent quickly, worship often, obey His Word, love one another, pray rather than worry, receive the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit (1Co 12:8-10), care for the poor (Isa 58:1-12) and tithe as an act of worship (Pr 3:1-12) and fellowship with God in a Sabbath (Isa 58:13, 14).
• Such obedience brings an unseen hand that guides and sustains us regardless of what our nation chooses. God’s care for us becomes a light that confounds the world and draws the humble to Christ.

Questions:
1) When we talk about the condition of our nation it’s easy to become negative, but let’s identify something good that we see God doing in our nation today. Each person name one thing.
2) Have you seen God care for you even when there is hardship around you? Tell us how He helped you.

 


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