Judgement and Hope – Isaiah 1 Sermon

In this sermon Tim introduces us to our brand new 12 week series on Isaiah! Tim unpacks the themes of judgement and hope in the book of Isaiah, how they apply to us today, the historical context, the fact that Isaiah is often called the fourth gospel and much more! But ultimately Tim asks for us to sense where God might be calling us to repent and find life, hope and forgiveness in God!

Sermon Preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday October 3, 2021.

05/02/23 – John 12:20-33 Following Jesus & Intro – by Tim Giovanelli – The Farewell Discourse Series Manly Life Church Podcast

In this sermon Tim introduces us to our first sermon series in 2023, The Farewell Discourse Series – messages from John 12-17! Tim helps us understand who John is and the book itself leading up to chapter 12, before diving into chapter 12 vs 20-33 and what it means to follow Jesus! We can't wait for this series so make sure you stay tuned each week! SERMON NOTES: https://manlylife.org/2023/02/07/john-1220-33-sermon-following-jesus-series-intro/ Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday February 5, 2023. Find out more here: https://manlylife.org Find us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ManlyLifeChurch
  1. 05/02/23 – John 12:20-33 Following Jesus & Intro – by Tim Giovanelli – The Farewell Discourse Series
  2. 29/01/23 – The Glory of Christ – Greg Beech
  3. 22/01/23 – Luke 15:1-8 God's Heart for the Lost – by Lani Daniel
  4. 15/01/23 – 1 John 4:11 Friendship In Church by Tim Giovanelli
  5. 08/01/23 – Philipians 3:17-4:4 Stand Firm in 2023 – by Peter Brooks


Isaiah Week 1 – Judgement and Hope

Welcome and Introduction

  • Great time at the cooking night, thank you to Alex and Marc!
  • Not long until we reopen. Encourage you to get vaccinated. 
  • Philippians 2:3 says “in humility value others above yourselves.” That’s a challenge for all of us as we reopen. 
  • Whatever solution we come up, and God give us wisdom… Mutual uncomfortableness. All in this together. 

Starting our new series in the Old Testament Book of Isaiah, the 8th century BC prophet to the people of God. 

  • I’ve really enjoyed preparing… I’m in the midst of 36 hours of lectures on Isaiah from Regent College with Prof Rikk Watts. I’ve really enjoyed that!
  • Encourage you to take some notes… otherwise in one ear and out the other…
  • And I have found it incredibly challenging and incredibly hopeful. That’s a good mix! The bible should do that. It is no cheerleader to our comfortableness or sinfulness. 
  • My hope, like in studying all scripture, is that it will draw us into a closer revelation and relationship with our God. 

Interestingly, there is no other book that is more influential on the NT and Jesus thinking than the book of Isaiah. 

  • They have reconstructed the 3 year, 1st century synagogue cycle readings of the Torah and Prophets. 50/50, and 2/3rds of the prophets readings were Isaiah.
  • 2nd most quoted OT book in the NT and we are majorly influenced by Isaiah… particularly the last third of the book.
  • For Jesus self understanding… it was huge. At least 13 times we see specific fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecies about the coming messiah in Jesus. 

Think Luke 4 where Jesus is in the synagogue. They hand him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, he finds what we call Isaiah chapter 61.

  • He reads “the Spirit of the Lord is on me, to proclaim good news to the poor and set the oppressed free.” And his mission of proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favour… 
  • He then rolls up the scroll and says “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
  • For me that’s one of the great moments of the Gospels. Jesus is saying, I’ve arrived to fulfil God’s promises!
  • So not only were these Jesus scriptures, this was his story that he believed he was fulfilling. 
  • And that will become really important as we come across all the amazing prophecies in Isaiah that come true in the life of Jesus. 

Some people call the Book of Isaiah the 5th Gospel. 

  • Jerome the church Father (c. 342–420) also lauds the Prophet Isaiah, saying, 
  • “He was more of an Evangelist than a Prophet, because he described all of the Mysteries of the Church of Christ so vividly that you would assume he was not prophesying about the future, but rather was composing a history of past events.”
  • I guess particularly the messianic prophecies like the virgin birth, the child who will be called everlasting God, prince of peace, the suffering servant motif and much much more. 
  • But it’s not just a proof text for apologetics that Jesus is the messiah. 
  • This book speaks more broadly to humanity. To the cry for justice. To the longing for peace. To the hope of forgiveness. 

Well a reminder too, first and foremost the Book of Isaiah is a word to Israel. Into their story and covenants and the context they found themselves in. 

  • And we will try and do that. We will try and understand not just what is it saying to us, but also what did it say to Isaiah’s contemporary’s. 
  • They were facing the threat of annihilation and exile… which raises the question…
  • How is humanity meant to come and know God through their story if they are about to be judged for getting so much wrong?
  • And we may ask that of ourselves? If God is going to use us to spread his glory… how on earth can that happen through broken, fallible us?

So who was Isaiah and what is an Old Testament Prophet?

  • Well Isaiah was one of the 3 major prophets with Ezekiel and Jeremiah who wrote during 8-6thcentury before Christ. 
  • Verse 1 or chapter 1 tells that Isaiah was written during the reigns of Uzziah, Ahaz and Hezekiah, the Kings at the time of the Southern Kingdom of Israel. 
  • And Isaiah received a vision of God’s glory and began to speak out against the wickedness of the people of God, while also bringing a message of hope and restoration. 

Now unlike Ephesians which was a letter from Paul to the church, probably written over a short period of time…

  • Isaiah is a collection of his visions, poems, sermons and prophecies over the course of his life. 
  • And a plain reading can be quite intimidating… 66 chapters and it assumes you know the events going on behind the scenes that it is referring to…
  • But if you take a step back, you would say in general, that Isaiah’s role was to speak on behalf of God in regard to the people of God’s failure in keeping of covenant.
  • So let’s just grasp this idea of covenant? OK?

A covenant is like a binding contract between two parties. All the lawyers in our church just got excited!

  • We know covenants as Christians from what we believe Jesus secured for us through his death on the cross. It secures and binds us in relationship to God. 
  • Or think a marriage. At the ceremony we make vows including “to death do us part.” We enter into a covenant with our spouse about faithfulness. Its our way of saying “I’m not going anywhere!”
  • And similarly in the OT the people of God were in a covenant with the God who had revealed himself through Abraham, Moses and David. 
  • Think Exodus 19:5 “I will be your God and you will be my people.” So Isaiah speaks into how this relationship or covenant is going!

And remember, in the Abrahamic covenant, all nations were to find salvation and blessing through God’s people. 

  • The nations were to come and learn and it would bring peace and healing to the nations…
  • Reality is a far cry from that – so we will see lots of railing against Israel’s sin, their injustice, their lack of concern for the poor. 
  • But in the midst of that a promise that God will move through a King in the line of David, who will rule Israel and all the nations (any guesses who that might be?)

So as we study the Book of Isaiah there is the bigger context of Israel’s story… and then there is the immediate context within which it was written.

So the big story is creation, covenant, exodus, Kingship, exile…

  • So God has created a good world that has been damaged by sin
  • He forms a family with Abraham whom he will bless and through whom all nations on earth will be blessed.
  • They end up in slavery, but with his mighty hand, God frees them from slavery 
  • And they are given the law by Moses. Maybe best summed up by Deuteronomy 30:15-20 because this is really important to understanding what Isaiah will say. 
  • Again this is the covenant passages…. Think of it as a family contract or a marriage… 

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

So that is their covenant with God. Choose to love God and obey his commands which bring life and you will be blessed. 

  • But disobey. Break covenant and you choose death and curses. 
  • And then finally for the big picture they ask for a King, who at their best is to shepherd them well to keep covenant, but at worst will lead the people astray. 
  • And a lot of Isaiah will deal with the leaders and Kings of Israel. 

And then there is the immediate context… right? Isaiah spoke into a particular point in the history of God’s people. Around 740 BC and the next 60 or so years.

  • By this stage the twelve tribes of Israel had been split into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom due to their rebellion have already fallen to the Assyrian empire
  • But Isaiah speaks to the two tribes of the southern Kingdom within which lies the city of Jerusalem.
  • And they too are being threatened by the Assyrians. And Isaiah will link this impending threat to the judgement of God on the southern kingdom for their breaking of covenant. 
  • And we will get to God’s specific charge against them in chapter 1 in just a minute. 

Finally, before we get into chapter 1, lets just quickly consider how the 66 chapters of Isaiah are set out. There will be a quiz… haha!

  • So there are three main sections to the Book of Isaiah. And they are relevant to three periods of time in their history.
  • Firstly we have chapters 1-39 which deals with judgement and hope before they go into exile. Within that, chapter 1-12 are about God’s people, and chapters 13-39 addressed the nations.
  • You will know if from famous passages like “unto us a child is born…”
  • Secondly we have chapters 40-55 that is written in the context of being dragged off into exile by the Babylonians. 
  • You will know this section from the very famous passages about the suffering servant “he was pierced for our transgressions…”

Finally chapters 56-66 which paint a picture of return from exile, and ongoing judgement when the people of God continue to fail…

  • But and also incredible hope for what it can look like when the people of God reflect their God’s character. 
  • You will know this section for “the spirit of the Lord is on, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor…”

Well let’s get a taste of the message of Isaiah from chapter 1. Got a bible? Open it up!

  • Many scholars believe that what we see in the first 2 chapters is God prosecuting his case against his people for breaking covenant. 
  • So we hear Isaiah vision of a heavenly court room, and God is going to bring judgement and hope. The prophets role is to prosecute God’s lawsuit against Israel. 

2 Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”

4 Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can hear God’s heart breaking in these first few verses…

  • God’s people are described as children he reared and brought up… but they have rebelled against him. 
  • It says even animals know their masters, but God’s children are sinful, a brood of evil doers, given to corruption. 
  • They were meant to be a blessing and choose life but instead they have turned their backs on the Holy One of Israel – their God. So it’s not a great start!
  • So what is the problem?

11 “The multitude of your sacrifices, what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings… I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
Verse 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me.

So the issue doesn’t seem to be that they have stopped temple worship or making sacrifices to atone for their sins…

  • The issue is that they are doing this while committing evil deeds and oppressing the poor and not seeking justice!
  • There is a disconnect between their religious observance and the conditions of their hearts, their deeds and their wrong doing.
  • Now, as I preach, let the Spirit of God speak to you… I wonder if you have ever known this disconnect? I at know at times I have. 
  • So what’s the problem, let’s have a look, God says to his children…

16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.  Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

And I think in these two verses we get to the heart of why God is bringing judgement on his people. 

  • They have ceased to be a light to the nations in the way that they treat other people! And this is the breaking of the covenant! 
  • This is the pain of raising a child to reflect you… only for them to turn away and live like the bad neighborhood kids… 
  • And then they have the gumption to come and pray and worship?

It’s the same reason Jesus has a go at the pharisees. Right? 

  • They were good at outward religious observance…
  • In Matthew 23 Jesus says to them, “woe to you hypocrites. You have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness.”
  • Far out I love Jesus… and don’t his words challenge us!
  • Rikk Watts whose lectures I have been listening to provocatively said: “if there is unforgiveness and injustice in our church communities… we may as well urinate on the communion table… because how we treat one another is how we treat God.”
  • Ouch!

In Leviticus 19:2 God says; “Be holy because I the Lord your God am holy.” 

  • And then so much of the law in Leviticus, the framework for keeping covenant has to do with how we treat people.
  • That’s what it means to be holy like God. To be his children is to be like the Father.
  • And over and over we are told to treat refugees and foreigners with kindness. We are to care for the orphan and the widow. We are to give to the poor and are to seek peace.
  • Leviticus 19 “don’t defraud your neighbour.” “don’t slander people” “do not pervert justice”
  • Verse 18 “do not seek revenge or bear a grudge… but love your neighbour as yourself.”

So because we are made in the image of God, to deface another human being is to deface God. 

  • This could be done sexually, or economically, or abuse of children, or profiting from slavery… 
  • And so to live rightly is to put Yahweh at the center… and thus to treat people as created in his image. 
  • Isaiah says, because you despise Yahweh, you have begun to defile each other. 
  • Right? Isaiah 1:15 “your hands are full of blood.”

And you know, think of Jesus, he sums up the law and prophets how?

  • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbour.”
  • It is always linked. You want to love God… love your neighbour. You want to love your neighbour… well to be honest you have to love God!
  • I think that is why in John 15 Jesus says people will know you come from God because of your love for one another. It is how you treat people that most accurately reflects your faith. 
  • So we are meant to be set apart…
  • Instead, In Isaiah, we are told the people of God are laden with iniquity. 

Well is it going to be all judgement? Is it all gloom and doom? No… Verse 18 Isaiah says;

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Well we have spoken about this idea of chapter 1-2 being like a lawsuit…

  • And so God, as usual makes an incredible offer of reconciliation. 
  • If you are willing and obedient, says God, we can settle this matter… and your sins will be washed away.
  • And once again, you will find yourself in the blessing of God, eating the good things of the land. 
  • But if they do not repent… if they don’t stop oppressing people and perpetuating economic injustice… their judgement will come through the sword of the Assyrians. 
  • I think we are back to echoes of Deut 30:15

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

Right? Once again, God is saying choose life! Choose me!

  • This time through his prophet Isaiah as the threat of destruction at the hand of Assyrians hangs over them. 
  • And this will be repeated over and over throughout this series…
  • You can be handed over to destruction, or you can trust God and keep his ways and receive life. 
  • This is an appeal to alter the way you live. Matthew 3:8, Jesus would call this “produce fruit in  keeping with repentance.”
  • Cease to do evil, defend the orphans… abandon old pattern of life and embrace God’s way/heart, and you will be restored!
  • Good huh? God has a lot to say to us through Isaiah!

Well as we finish today… and I know it has been a huge amount of material to get through…

  • I just wonder what the Lord is saying to you today?
  • Of course the extensions of God’s mercy and forgiveness and grace is always the main theme of the bible…
  • But it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of what the Lord requires of you and me.
  • What is the lord saying to you today?

I wonder what covenantal faithfulness looks like to you?

Isaiah 43:1-2 (slowly)

43 But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;

What’s the Lord saying to you? How is He calling you to respond, what is he calling you to do?

  • One of the wonderful things about the Spirit of God is he gently convicts us of our sin…
  • And he calls us back into faithful covenant… 
  • Where do you need to respond? Where is your life, our life together, not reflecting the life of our Heavenly Father?
  • Are you defacing others, created in the image of God by using them or not caring for them?
  • Did you stop giving to the church and the poor? Did you stop caring about the plight of the widow and orphan?
  • Produce fruit says Jesus, in keeping with repentance. 
  • Let’s pray… let’s ask the Spirit of God to draw us back into faithful covenant with our gracious God.

Published by timgiovanelli

My wife Victoria and I are planting a new church in Manly, NSW

One thought on “Judgement and Hope – Isaiah 1 Sermon

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: