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Sermon #18 — Isaiah Series

 

Title:                           Understanding of the Times

 

Text:                            Isaiah 4:1-6

Subject:                     Understanding the Times

Date:                          Sunday Evening — January 8, 2017

Readings:     Mark Daniel and Larry Brown

Introduction:

 

Like children of Issachar, Isaiah was a man who had “understanding of the times” (1 Chronicles 12:32). God the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of prophecy gave him understanding of the times in which he lived, and gave him understanding of the times in which we live in these last days. The title of my message is — Understanding of the Times. My text will be the 4th chapter of the Gospel of Isaiah. — Understanding of the Times — (Isaiah 4:1-6)

 

As I preach the Gospel, I try to address those issues that are relevant to us. I try to answer questions that men and women are asking. Surely this is a question you and I should ask ourselves. —What’s going on in this world? How are we to understand the times in which we live. Open your Bibles to Isaiah 4, and I will show you. Here, God the Holy Ghost teaches us how we should see things, how we must view the things going on in the world around us, if would have an Understanding of the Times in which we live.

 

Context

 

Our text is the middle portion of Isaiah’s sermon concerning the last days. This sermon began in Chapter 2 and concludes in Chapter 5 verse 30. The subject in all four of these chapters is “the last days” (2:1-2).

 

(Isaiah 2:1-2) “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. (2) And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.”

 

Š      Chapter 2 — The Glory of God’s Church in the Last Days.

Š      Chapter 3 — God’s Providential Judgment upon the Wicked and His Blessings upon the Righteous in the Last Days.

Š      Chapter 4 — What We Can Expect to See in the Religious World in the Last Days.

Š      Chapter 5 — A Parable of a Vineyard Portraying God’s Church in these Last Days.

 

The Last Days

 

I remind you, again, that God the Holy Spirit tells us plainly that we are living in the last days in 1st John 2:18. Those who talk about the last days as being days of an imaginary seven dispensation of great tribulation period in which men will be saved by legal obedience, or a 1,000 year, millennial, age when people will be saved by being born in natural righteousness and worship God again at a temple in Jerusalem, with Jewish priests and carnal sacrifices, speak in direct opposition to the Scriptures. The Bible nowhere speaks of a coming

Š      Seven Year Tribulation Period.

Š      Thousand Year Jewish Kingdom.

Š      Rebuilding of the Temple.

Š      Gathering of the Jews.

 

We are living in the last days. When Isaiah speaks of “the last days” and “in that day,” he is talking about the Gospel Age in which we live. It began with the incarnation of Christ and will end at Christ’s glorious second advent. — “Then cometh the end!

 

Proposition: In Isaiah 4 the prophet of God shows us, by the Spirit of Inspiration, what we can expect to see in these last days, particularly in the religious world.

 

Have you found our text (Isaiah 4)? — Let’s read it together.

 

(Isaiah 4:1-6) “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach. (2) In that day shall the Branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. (3) And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: (4) When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. (5) And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. (6) And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.”

 

Divisions: Give me your attention. Here are five things which Isaiah prophesied would come to pass in these last days. And already we see them happening. Without question, “it is the last time.”

1. The Apostasy of the World (v. 1).

2. The Exaltation of Christ (v. 2).

3. The Perseverance of an Elect Remnant (v. 3).

4. The Purging and Purifying of Christ’s Churches (v. 4).

5. The Protection and Preservation of the Church (vv. 5-6).

 

Great Apostasy

 

1stIt has come to pass, as Isaiah prophesied, that the world has been engulfed a great apostasy. We live in an apostate world. The whole world is, by the just judgment of God, engulfed in apostate, free-will, works religion. That is what Isaiah speaks of in verse 1.

 

(Isaiah 4:1) “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.”

 

Without question, this first verse has immediate reference to the desolation which God brought upon the Jewish nation, because of their departure from him.

Š      The Babylonian Captivity

Š      Titus 70 AD

 

However, the whole passage is written for our instruction in these last days. And the instruction is of a spiritual nature.

 

These seven women represent the whole world. — Seven is the number of completion. These seven women represent the entire religious apostasy of the world (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).

 

(2 Thessalonians 2:1-12) “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, (2) That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. (3) Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (4) Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (5) Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? (6) And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. (7) For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. (8) And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: (9) Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, (10) And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (11) And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (12) That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

 

(2 Thessalonians 2:13-17) “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (14) Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (15) Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. (16) Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, (17) Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.”

 

(2 Timothy 3:1-5) “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2) For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, (3) Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, (4) Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (5) Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

 

The apostate religion of antichrist is free-will, works religion. — These seven women want nothing but the name of a man, to take away their reproach. And the religious world wants nothing but the name of Christ to soothe their consciences.

 

Š      The religion of this world is initiated by man, not by God. — Free-willism — Decisionism — “Seven women shall take hold of one man.” — True salvation is initiated by God taking hold of man!

 

Š      The religion of this world is a religion of works and rewards. — “We will eat our own bread.” — True Christianity is the religion of grace, feeding upon Christ, the Bread of Heaven, eating his flesh and drinking his blood.

 

Š      The religion of this world is a religion of self-righteousness. — “We will wear our own apparel.” — True godliness is wearing Christ’s apparel.

 

Š      The religion of this world wants nothing from Christ, but his name. — “Only let be called by thy name.” — They have no regard for his Word, his doctrine, his ordinances, his will, or his glory. — Vital godliness is knowing Christ, having Christ, living in Christ!

 

I have no desire to be contentious or offensive. But I must be faithful to God and to you. I warn you have nothing to do with free-will, works religion, in any form (Revelation 18:4).

 

(Revelation 18:4) “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”

 

In the religion of the world, Christ is nothing but a name. In the church of God, Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11).

 

Christ’s Exaltation

 

2ndThough the world despises Christ and his Gospel, in these last days there is an evident exaltation of Christ among his own people (v. 2).

 

(Isaiah 4:2) “In that day shall the Branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.”

 

I am a student of history, especially of Church History. And I relish the works of God in the past. I love to read the old writers. I regularly read sermons by the old preachers. I have read Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, Owen, Bunyan, Watson, and Goodwin, Edwards, Whitefield, Gill, and Spurgeon. But I am going to tell you something. — I have never read better sermons than I have heard preached in my life-time.

Š      Frank Hall

Š      Clay Curtis

Š      Eric Richards

Š      Todd Nibert

 

There has never been such a day of spiritual darkness as this. But there has never been such a day of spiritual light as this. Christ has never been more beautiful and glorious than he is in the Gospel we preach in this day.

 

Christ is called, “The Branch of the Lord.” — That speaks of…

Š      His Divine Origin. — “The Branch of the Lord!

Š      His Humiliation. — “A Tender Plant!” — “A Root out of Dry Ground!

Š      His Davidic Ancestry. — “David’s Son!

 

I love the way Robert Hawker spoke about this second verse of Isaiah 4. He said…

 

“The Holy Ghost is still harping upon that blessed string, the Gospel Day, and comforting the church with the view of it. Jesus is the righteous Branch, which Jehovah declared he would raise up in Zion.”

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ is beautiful in his glorious person.

Š      God-man

Š      Savior — Prophet — Priest — King

Š      Substitute

Š      Sovereign Lord

 

Our all-glorious Christ is glorious in his saving power.

Š      His Satisfaction.

Š      His Sovereignty.

Š      His Salvation.

 

The Christ of God, our crucified Savior, being raised from the dead, is the fruit of the earth. He is excellent and comely to his elect. — “Unto you, therefore, which believe he is precious!” The more men revile him, the more we adore him. The more others mar the beauty of his Gospel, the more clearly we must preach the Gospel. The more others detract from his glory, the more we must exalt his glory.

 

A Remnant

 

3rd — Though many apostates abound, departing from the faith (I John 2:19), there is an elect remnant who shall persevere, steadfast and immovable, in the midst of wholesale apostasy (v. 3).

 

(Isaiah 4:3) “And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem.”

 

The righteous shall hold on his way.” — Those to whom Christ appears beautiful will not forsake him. Blessed be God, there is a remnant according to the election of grace! — God’s elect shall remain steadfast in the truth of the Gospel.

Š      Total Depravity

Š      Unconditional Election

Š      Limited Atonement

Š      Irresistible Grace

Š      Perseverance of the Saints

 

This blessed remnant shall be called holy, because God has made them holy by his grace in, by, and with Christ.

Š      Holy by Redemption

Š      Holy by Imputation

Š      Holy by Regeneration

Š      Holy in Conversation — “What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness! (2 Peter 3:11)

 

Our security is our election. — Who shall persevere to the end? — “Even everyone that is written among the living in Jerusalem!” — (Revelation 13:8; 17:8).

 

(Revelation 13:8)And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

 

(Revelation 17:8) “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”

 

Made Clean

 

4thIn these last days, we can expect to see the purging and purification of Christ churches by the Gospel (v. 4).

 

(Isaiah 4:4) “When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.”

 

This verse might be interpreted as a prophesy of our redemption by Christ. Who can read these words and not think immediately of the accomplishments of Christ at Calvary?

Š      Redemption by Judgment!

Š      Filth Washed Away by Blood!

Our blessed Christ has washed away our sins by his precious blood’s atonement!

 

But both John Gill and Matthew Henry say that “the daughters of Zion” are individual local churches. I think they are right. — The Lord Jesus purges his church by the preaching of the Gospel, separating the wheat from the tares. — “Judgment must begin at the house of God!

Š      He washes away the filth of false doctrine and false worship by the pure preaching of the Gospel.

Š      He purges oppressors from our midst by the same means.

Š      The Spirit of Judgment” is wisdom, justice, and truth.

Š      The Spirit of Burning” is zeal for the glory of God.

 

The fire of God’s Word will burn up the wood, hay, and stubble of falsehood within the church of God. By the preaching of the Gospel, the Lord Jesus separates the wheat from the tares, the precious from the vile, the sheep from the goats. — Gospel preachers are the angels of God sent into his kingdom to bind up the tares for burning and gather his wheat into his garner (Matthew 13). — This purging is God’s work, not ours!

 

Churches Protected

 

5thIn these last days of wholesale religious apostasy, we can expect to see the continued protection and preservation of God’s church (vv. 5-6; Matthew 16:18).

 

(Isaiah 4:5-6) “And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. (6) And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.”

 

Š      Our God shall be a cloud to protect us from the heat of persecution.

Š      The Lord himself shall be a flaming light to guide us in the midst of darkness.

Š      The glory of God shall be our defense.

Š      The Lord himself shall be a tabernacle, a refuge, and a covert for sinners to flee for refuge to him.

 

Application

 

(2 Timothy 1:6-14) “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. (7) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (8) Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; (9) Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (11) Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. (12) For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (13) Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. (14) That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.”

 

“Glorious things of thee are spoken,

Zion, city of our God!

He, whose word cannot be broken,

Formed thee for His own abode.

On the Rock of Ages founded,

What can shake thy sure repose?

With salvation’s walls surrounded,

Thou may’st smile at all thy foes.

 

See, the streams of living waters,

Springing from eternal love;

Well supply thy sons and daughters,

And all fear of want remove:

Who can faint while such a river

Ever flows their thirst t’assuage?

Grace, which like the Lord, the Giver,

Never fails from age to age.

 

Round each habitation hovering,

See the cloud and fire appear!

For a glory and a covering

Showing that the Lord is near.

Thus deriving from our Banner

Light by night and shade by day;

Safe they feed upon the manna

Which He gives them when they pray.

 

Blest inhabitants of Zion,

Washed in the Redeemer’s blood!

Jesus, whom their souls rely on,

Makes them kings and priests to God.

`Tis His love His people raises,

Over self to reign as kings,

And as priests, His solemn praises

Each for a thank offering brings.

 

Savior, if of Zion’s city,

I through grace a member am,

Let the world deride or pity,

I will glory in Thy name:

Fading is the worldling’s pleasure,

All his boasted pomp and show;

Solid joys and lasting treasure

None but Zion’s children know.”

John Newton

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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