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:
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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!!!