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Janet's Corner

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Lesson 17 -- Look to the Cross

We’ve been looking at a section of Isaiah which are oracles pronounced by the prophet Isaiah which announced the coming judgment of the nations around Israel and Judah. Remember as a prophet, it was Isaiah’s full time job to speak the word of the Lord. Prophets were part of the everyday world in Judah and Israel.

 

As we look at Isaiah 22 today, we see that Judah is not exempt from being warned about the coming judgment of their sin. The people of God  were  behaving just like the pagan nations around them. The valley of vision named in verse 1, is a reference to Jerusalem.  As God calls Judah to repentance, we see the heart of God revealed. He, God, longs for a people that will display His splendor, His glory, His brilliance and He is the one who gives us the way and empowers us to do that very thing – to resemble him in the midst of a pagan world. How do we deal with sin as God’s people?

 

As we look at the scripture today, let’s observe the different responses to captivity or imminent death due to their unrepentant hearts. As we go through these responses, think how we, as believers, have the tendency to react or can react to the conviction of sin in the same ways. How they respond to coming captivity and judgment of their sin is often how we respond when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.

Responses of God’s people in Jerusalem to God’s warning against their sin:

 

1.     Bargaining with God - Verse 1- “You have all gone up to your roofs”- Many times the people used their rooftops as a place to offer incense to their gods, trying to appease them, to turn the anger of their gods away from them. How is that like a response that someone can have to sin? Some people start bargaining with God. “I’ll do this, if you just get me off the hook this time.” Have you ever found the tendency within yourself to do this. You make promises to God that you probably can’t keep or won’t keep. Is that what God is looking for?

2.     Flee to escape shame and consequences - Verse 3 – “All your leaders have fled together” – They were trying to escape judgment – fleeing the consequences of their sin. Rather than facing the truth of our sin and its consequences, we try to run away.
The people here, who were fleeing, got captured by the enemy any way. Have you seen that happen? There are some who will not face the fact of their sin and just get caught up in their sin more and more. Is that what God is longing for?

3.     Protecting ourselves - Verses 7-11 – “…the defenses of Judah are stripped away” – There’s nothing left to defend themselves, the enemy is at the gate. People look anxiously around them to find something to protect themselves with when sin and its consequences are staring them in the face. The people here built up their walls, fortifying their city, to be safe from the enemy. They have made supply for the long run by making another reservoir for water. How do we protect ourselves? Blaming others for our sin or finding an excuse or justification for our sin. Do we build fences around us to try to protect ourselves from facing the fact of our sin and escape the discipline of God that would shape us into a reflection of him?

4.     Ignoring the seriousness of sin - Verse 13 – “Let’s eat, drink and be merry, they say, for tomorrow we die” – Many deny that there is any God who would judge sin or who does promise forgiveness and eternal life. At the root of this response is disbelief of another life after this one, resulting in false security and sensuality. There’s nothing to live for except this life, so we might as well enjoy this one! Is that what God says?

 

When convicted of sin, any one of us can fall into these tendencies, whether it is to bargain with God, flee from the consequences, build fences to protect ourselves or deny that there is God who hates sin. Let’s not just look at others’ lives and judge their reactions, but let’s look at our own lives and our own response to the conviction of sin. In verse 11 Isaiah says the people did not look to God or have any regard for God and his plans. This must have been a great time of fear for God’s people, but did they have the fear of the Lord? Remember Isaiah 33:6 says that God is our stability and the key to the wealth of God in our lives, is the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord being the awe and respect of a loving, holy God as well as a resulting obedience to His revealed will which is in the Bible. The fear of the Lord is a respect of the truth that he longs for us to look and listen to Him, who des not want to punish us, but lovingly discipline us, training us in righteousness.

 

What do the scriptures say about our response to the conviction of sin?

1.     With our hearts we are called to Godly sorrow: God grieves over sin: Verse 4 – God’s heart is seen through Isaiah’s response to the coming destruction of his people. He “weeps bitterly.” He grieves over sin. In Matthew 23:37, Jesus cries out against Jerusalem who he longed to gather under his wings, and they were not willing.

 

God calls people to godly sorrow: Verse 11 – “called you…to weep and to wail” over sin. How many of you had cried over your sin? Have you ever thought about the analogy of physical tears and godly sorrow? Physically, tears wash out the dust in our eyes and have an anti-bacterial effect to protect our eyes. So can the tears of repentance. God is not calling us just to physical acts – like tears or words, but he clls us to give him our hearts.The Lord doesn’t just want us to give him our tears, but our hearts. Joel 2:13 another prophet reflects the heart of God to us. “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and he relents from sending calamity.” Godly sorrow leads us to repentance. God wants us not just to grieve over our sin, but to repent, to turn from our sin, confessing it and being cleansed from it.

 

2.     With our spiritual eyes we Look to the cross of Christ: Romans 8:1-2 gives us the hope of the gospel. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so condemned sin in sinful man in order that the righteous requirement of the law would be fulfilled.

 

The laws the people heard spoken didn’t stop them from sinning. They kept on sinning and ignoring the seriousness of sin from God’s perspective. Sin brings punishment and death – even to us, if it were not for the cross of Christ. Where do we find victory – through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. He took on the full wrath of God’s judgment of sin for you and for me. Did he gain victory over sin? Is he still hanging on the cross? NO! Is he still in the grave? NO! Was he defeated by sin or death? NO! He is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty as our Savior and LORD. We, now, through receiving the finished work of Christ on the cross, can have victory over sin!

 

We can acknowledge the sin in our lives without fear. We can respond to the conviction of sin not by bargaining, or fleeing, or protecting, or ignoring in unbelief the seriousness of sin, but by agreeing with God that we need a Savior…and there is one who will be there for you. Look to the cross!

 

The tree of Calvary has become a tree of life to me!!!