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Sermon #4[i] Isaiah Series
Title: A Remnant
Text: Isaiah 1:9
Subject: God’s Elect Remnant
I have a very dear friend who is now with the Lord, Bro. Bill Carver. He made his living by selling remnants. He bought remnants from factories at bargain prices, because factories have no use for remnants. He sold those remnants to thrifty housewives at bargain prices, because thrifty housewives will gladly purchase what wealthy people throw away. With men remnants are of no great importance. With men remnants are odd pieces, leftovers, things that must be disposed of. With men remnants are really a nuisance. But my friend looked upon them as very precious things. He only dealt in remnants. Bill Carver travelled all over the country gathering up remnants. What other men regarded as trash was his treasure. He was always looking for remnants. He built his house with remnants. He raised his family on remnants. When they were grown, he put his sons into business with remnants. He built a church building and assisted in the regular support of several pastors and missionaries with remnants.
Did you know that God is like that? He deals with a remnant. He only deals with a remnant. He is always seeking a remnant. Everything he does is for a remnant. He builds his house with a remnant. God looks upon a remnant as the greatest treasure in the world. Indeed, his remnant is to the triune God the only treasure there is in the world!
In this message I want to show you what the Word of God says about that remnant. Turn to Isaiah 1:9. We will begin there — Isaiah 1:9. The title of my message is — A Remnant (Isaiah 1:9). Let’s begin reading at verse 2.
(Isaiah 1:2-8) “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. (3) The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. (4) Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. (5) Why should ye be stricken anymore? Ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. (6) From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. (7) Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. (8) And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.”
Now, here’s our text — verse 9.
(Isaiah 1:9) “Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.”
The Apostle Paul tells us that among the fallen, depraved, lost, condemned ruins of humanity “there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5). And he assures us that the “remnant shall be saved” (Romans 9:27).
With men a remnant is something leftover, waste material, material for which there is no plan, purpose, or intended use. With God it is exactly opposite. God’s remnant is the kernel, everything else is husk. God’s remnant is that for which all things were planned and purposed. Without that elect remnant, everything else would be meaningless and useless.
It was true in Isaiah’s time and it is true today, that the Church and people of the living God are a poor, needy remnant, a remnant scattered among the nations, an elect remnant, a redeemed remnant, a protected remnant, but a remnant still. We are God’s remnant in Christ’s hands, under Christ’s care. — The God of all grace deals with a remnant. He seeks a remnant. He builds his house with a remnant. His treasure is a remnant.
Proposition: This remnant is Christ’s seed in the earth that shall serve him, the generation accounted to the Lord to serve him (Psalm 22:30), Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. — The remnant is God’s elect, all those who must and shall be saved by his grace, the whole Church of God, the whole Israel of God, all who have been, all who are, and all who shall be saved in Christ. — Blessed are they who are included in the number of that remnant!
Let’s look at the description Micah gives of this remnant in Micah 5:7-8.
“And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men. 8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.” (Micah 5:7-8)
God inspired his prophets to speak of his people as a “remnant.” God’s people are a remnant, a “little flock” of God’s choosing (Romans 9:27; Isaiah 10:21-22; Luke 12:32). This remnant is distinguished from the world around it by Divine blessings, as Gideon’s wet fleece was distinguished from the dry ground by the dew of heaven upon it (Judges 6:36-38).
We are a remnant; but we are God’s remnant, a remnant in a covenant relationship with the Triune God in Christ. As such, this blessed remnant is distinguished and separated from the rest of the world.
They are a people that dwell alone, and are not reckoned among the nations. This remnant is in the midst of the world, but never a part of the world. It is in the midst of many people, but belongs to none of them. For though living in the world, God’s elect are not of the world, but chosen, redeemed, and called out of the world.
This chosen remnant is described by Micah as “a dew from the Lord.” — What a beautiful picture! As the dew is from heaven, so believers in Christ are born from above, not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
This remnant, the prophet tells us is “as showers upon the grass.” Remember, my brother, remember my sister, this remnant is you. God’s prophet describes the Church and people of God as “as showers upon the grass,” telling us that as the Lord Jesus is promised to come down as showers upon the mown grass to revive and refresh his people, so his people live in a constant dependence upon him and receive out of his fulness all that we need, while all the earth is empty, barren and dry as stubble to our souls.
The dew and the rain are free. They wait not for man, but fall from God and at his appointment. So grace is not dispensed according to our deserving, but according to God’s free bounteous and super-abounding mercy! — “Oh, precious promise, or rather precious cluster of promises, — and all in Jesus!” (Robert Hawker)
(Micah 5:8) “And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.”
Here Micah adopts another figure to tell the same thing. In verse 7 God’s remnant is passive in receiving blessings from the Lord. Here they are very active, going forth in the Lord’s strength to the Lord’s cause. Acting under the name and authority of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, “the worm Jacob is enabled to thresh the mountains” (Isaiah 41:14).
Divisions: I want to show you five things revealed in the Book of God about God’s remnant.
1. There is a remnant according to the election of grace.
2. God’s longsuffering, goodness, and mercy to all men is the result of his love for this remnant.
3. Everything God does, he does for this remnant.
4. God’s remnant in this world is always small.
5. This blessed Book is full of good news for a remnant.
An Elect Remnant
First, I want you to see that there is is a remnant according to the election of grace. God will not save all men. It never was his intention, purpose, design, or desire to save all men. But God has chosen some, a remnant, according to the election of grace. And that elect remnant shall be saved.
God, from eternity, has chosen to save some of Adam’s fallen race, which he calls a remnant. None of us deserve God’s mercy. We all deserve God’s wrath, because we are all sinners. Had it not been for God’s eternal election of some to salvation in Christ for the glory of his name, we would all have perished long ago under the wrath of God (Isaiah 1:2-9).
“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: [but] Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head [there is] no soundness in it; [but] wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. 7 Your country [is] desolate, your cities [are] burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and [it is] desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, [and] we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:2-9)
Isaiah tells us that man’s sin is so great and the justice of God is so inflexible and strict that had it not been for God’s election of a remnant we would all be completely destroyed. Thank God for election! This is one of the most blessed themes of Holy Scripture.
Look at what Isaiah tells us about God’s elect remnant. — There are many other places in the Bible which speak of this remnant, revealing God’s purpose of grace toward his elect. But, for the sake of brevity, let’s just look at what Isaiah says. He tells us six things about this elect remnant.
1. Though ruined and scattered by the fall, the remnant shall return to the Lord (Isaiah 10:20-22).
“And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 The remnant shall return, [even] the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. 22 For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, [yet] a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.” (Isaiah 10:20-22)
That is exactly what Micah said. — “The remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people” (5:7). — “The remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people” (v. 8). — But, this scattered remnant shall return to the Lord (5:3).
2. The remnant shall return, because Christ shall recover that which was lost (Isaiah 11:10-11).
“And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. 11 And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.” (Isaiah 11:10-11)
3. Christ is the Way by which “the remnant of his people” returns to him (Isaiah 11:16).
“And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.” (Isaiah 11:16)
4. God’s elect remnant ought to be the object of our fervent prayer (Isaiah 37:4).
“It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up [thy] prayer for the remnant that is left.” (Isaiah 37:4)
5. This remnant, God’s elect, shall escape the judgment of God (Isaiah 37:31-32).
By his almighty grace this remnant, God’s elect, shall take root downward in the earth and bear fruit upward to heaven.
“And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward: 32 For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.” (Isaiah 37:31-32)
6. God will preserve and keep his remnant in the midst of all their troubles (Isaiah 46:3-4).
“Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne [by me] from the belly, — which are carried from the womb: — 4 And [even] to [your] old age I [am] he; — and [even] to hoar hairs will I carry [you]: — I have made, — and I will bear; — even I will carry, — and will deliver [you].” (Isaiah 46:3-4)
We see, then, by the Word of God that there is a remnant according to the election of grace which must and shall be saved.
Second, let me show you from the Scriptures that God’s longsuffering, goodness and mercy toward fallen men is the result of his love for this remnant according to the election of grace. — The only thing that keeps God from destroying this world in his wrath is the fact that he has an elect remnant among the fallen sons of Adam whom he is determined to save. — Is that not what we read in our text — Isaiah 1:9?
“Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, [and] we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:9)
God is longsuffering with men because He is not willing for even one of his elect to perish (2 Peter 3:9).
Š Lot in Sodom (Genesis 19:22)
Š The End Time (Matthew 24:22)
Š The Seal of God (Revelation 7:2-3)
God’s longsuffering with man is no indication that he is not willing to punish sin, or that he is not able to punish sin, or that man does not deserve to be punished. God’s longsuffering with men is for the salvation of his elect. As the Holy Ghost puts tells us in 2nd Peter 3:20, — “the longsuffering of our God is salvation.”
God’s goodness to men in general is the result of his goodness to his elect remnant, “the remnant of Jacob,” in particular. As God blessed Egypt for Joseph’s sake and blessed the house of Obededom because the ark was there, he providentially blesses the men and women of this world for the sake of his elect remnant.
If God gives power to Cyrus and riches to a pagan nation he does it for the sake of his elect (Isaiah 45:1-4).
“Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; 2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: 3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call [thee] by thy name, [am] the God of Israel. 4 For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.” (Isaiah 45:1-4)
In a word, God is merciful to men in general because he is merciful to his elect in particular. God spared Adam in the garden that he might save Abel. He spared Adam because in Adam’s loins there was the woman’s Seed and his seed, “the remnant of Jacob.” God gave Manasseh life so that he might raise up Josiah. And God spares many here for a time, and even blesses them with temporal good, that he might be merciful to his elect.
Were it not for “the remnant of Jacob” God would have destroyed the world in his wrath long ago, as he did Sodom and Gomorrah. God’s elect are truly the salt of the earth, the preservers of the whole world. As God spared Sodom for Lot’s sake, God spares the world today for his elect’s sake, that they all might be saved.
Third, I cannot miss this opportunity to tell you once more that everything God does, he does for a remnant “the remnant of Jacob.” All providence is for “a remnant.” All men benefit from God’s goodness to his remnant. He sends rain and sunshine, plenty and pestilence, drought and darkness, war and peace upon all men alike. But they come for and belong to the remnant (1 Corinthians 3:21; Psalm 57:2). — “All things are yours!” — “I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth [all things] for me.” — Blessed are they who know and understand “all the works of the LORD, that he has done for Israel” (Joshua 24:31). — They go to “their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the LORD has done for Israel his people” (1 Kings 8:66).
“I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.” (Isaiah 46:13)
There is a remnant according to the election of grace. — God’s longsuffering, goodness and mercy to all men is the result of his love for his elect remnant, “the remnant of Jacob.” And everything God does, all his wondrous works of providence and grace, are for the remnant. Now, in the fourth place…
Let me remind you that “the remnant of Jacob” in this world is always a very small remnant (Isaiah 1:9; 16:14). In the end, it will be a number which no man can number, a great multitude, ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands. But at any one time in this world, in any society, in any place, God’s remnant is small. As it is written, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). Only a few go in at the strait gate and walk in the narrow way.
(Isaiah 1:9) “Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, [and] we should have been like unto Gomorrah.”
(Isaiah 16:14) “But now the LORD hath spoken, saying, Within three years, as the years of an hireling, and the glory of Moab shall be contemned, with all that great multitude; and the remnant [shall be] very small [and] feeble.”
God has always done His work with a small, feeble remnant.
Illustration: Gideon’s Army — 22,000 whittled down to 300 men too scared to stoop down and drink water (Judges 7:5-6).
Š In Noah’s day, one man found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
Š In Abraham’s day, one family obtained mercy.
Š In all the ages of the Old Testament, one nation was called.
Š After three years of preaching, our Lord had only 120 who worshipped in his name.
Throughout the centuries God has used a small, feeble remnant to build his kingdom.
Š Athanasius, a Lone, Isolated Voice.
Š Luther, a Crude, Rough Man.
Š Calvin, a Thin, Feeble Man.
Š Bunyan, a Tinker.
Š Spurgeon, a 19 Year Old Boy.
Š You and Me!
God works through a small, feeble remnant, so that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). — Let us never despise small things!
Š A small girl showed Naaman the way of life.
Š A small boy was used to feed 20,000.
Š A small woman, whose name I do not know, by her ardent prayers, gave the world John Newton.
Fifth, this blessed Book is full of good news for God’s remnant, “the remnant of Jacob!” The good news I have to proclaim is a threefold message of grace.
1. Be assured of this — God has a remnant still, “the remnant of Jacob” (Romans 11:2-5).
“God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, 3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to [the image of] Baal. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” (Romans 11:2-5)
2. “The remnant of Jacob” shall be saved (Romans 9:27; 11:25-36)
Not one of that great remnant, for whom God made, rules, and disposes of this world, shall be lost. God the Father loved them. God the Son redeemed them. God the Spirit calls them. And God, by his great grace, will preserve them unto life everlasting.
“Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved.” (Romans 9:27)
(Romans 11:25-36) “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this [is] my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28 As concerning the gospel, [they are] enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, [they are] beloved for the fathers’ sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God [are] without repentance. 30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.”
“33 ¶ O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable [are] his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, [are] all things: to whom [be] glory for ever. Amen.”
3. God is not angry with his elect remnant (Isaiah 40:1-2). — He sent me here to tell you that. God is not angry with “the remnant of Jacob.”
“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:1-2)
Application: Thank God, there is a remnant according to the election of grace. Because there is a remnant, there is hope. Because it is a remnant chosen by grace alone, there is hope for me.
(Jeremiah 32:37-41) — “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: 39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. 41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.”
Thus you have God’s Word to and for “the remnant of Jacob.” — “The remnant shall return, [even] the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God” (Isaiah 10:21).
When fearful clouds around us rise,
And mortals dare our Christ despise;
God’s remnant is His special care,
Though chased and scattered, here and there.
They are th’ election of His grace,
Though but a remnant of our race,
Forever dear to Jesus’ heart,
And with them He will never part.
The choice of His eternal love,
Shall reign with Jesus Christ above;
He calls, and conquers them by grace,
And they shall see His lovely face.
Blessed of God, forever blessed, are all who are numbered among “the remnant of Jacob!” Do you ask, “Pastor, how can I know whether or not I am one of those blessed people?” — Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. As surely as you trust Christ, your name was written in the Book of Life before the world began! — Faith in Christ is the evidence of that blessed fact!
[i] Danville — Sunday Evening — May 22, 2016
Sovereign Grace Assembly, Cornelius, NC — (SUN AM – 05/15/16)
Readings: Allen Kibby and Rex Bartley