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Sermon #19 — Isaiah Series
Title: A Song of Praise to
an Angry God
Text: Isaiah 5:1-30
Subject: The Wrath of God
Date: Sunday Evening — February 5, 2017
Readings: Mark Daniel and Mark Henson
Many today seem to think that vengeance, anger, and wrath are attributes entirely incompatible with a God of mercy, love, and grace. Many even imagine that God has undergone a great change. They suggest that in the Old Testament, under the law, God was angry and vengeful, almost to the point of cruelty. But in the New Testament, under grace, God is kind, gentle, and loving, to the point of being incapable of anger. If you entertain such vain imaginations, you are utterly ignorant of the Word of God and the character of God!
It is true, and we rejoice to know it, that ŇGod is love!Ó — Our God is merciful, gracious, kind, and good, beyond description. And he has demonstrated his love in an infinite way. God, constrained only by his love for sinners, gave his only begotten, well-beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die as a substitute in the place of his people, so that we might be eternally saved by his free grace (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-10).
ŇGod is love!Ó — I want you to know the love of God in Christ. But do not deceive yourself, or let yourself be deceived by others. God is also just. His holiness, justice, and truth demand that he pour out his wrath upon all who sin against him.
Proposition: The God of heaven, the God with whom we have to do, the God we must soon face in judgment, is a God of severe, inescapable, indescribable wrath.
ŇGod is angry with the wicked every day.Ó He will punish the wicked with everlasting destruction (Psalms 7:11-13; 11:5-7). Indeed, the wrath of God upon the wicked will be one theme of praise to him among the songs of the redeemed in heaven (Revelation 19:1-6). Judgment is GodŐs strange work. But it is GodŐs work, a work for which he shall have everlasting praise.
The title of my message tonight is A Song of Praise To An Angry God. I intend to speak to you as frankly and clearly as I can about the wrath of God. That is the subject of the song recorded in Isaiah 5:1-30.
I am confident that God has given me the message this song was written to convey. Now, I pray that he will give me the power and grace of his Spirit to deliver his message to your hearts.
Before we look at the chapter before us, I want to convey this message. — You and I must be punished for sin! God will not pass by iniquity. Every sinner and every sin must be justly recompensed. ŇThe wages of sin is death;Ó and God always pays up. Every sinner must be slain under the wrath of God. We all have to die (Ezekiel 18:20)É
á Either representatively, in a substitute (Galatians 3:13).
á Or personally and eternally in Hell.
Illustration: The Firstborn in Egypt
Divisions: Isaiah 5:1-30 reveals five things about the wrath of God.
1. Those who despise GodŐs goodness provoke him to wrath (vv. 1-7).
2. GodŐs wrath is always the response of his justice to the sins of men (vv. 8-23).
3. The wrath of God is thorough, irresistible, and irreversible (vv. 24-30).
4. The wrath of God is honoring to his character as God (v. 16).
5. Even the wrath of God is an instrument of his mercy toward his elect (v. 17).
1st — The first thing the prophet tells us in his song is that those who despise GodŐs goodness provoke him to wrath (vv. 1-7). This chapter is a song composed by Isaiah, under the inspiration of God the Holy Ghost, to the praise of his beloved, the Lord Jesus Christ. The subject of the song is the LordŐs vineyard. And the prophet tells us plainly that the vineyard he is describing is the Ňhouse of Israel and the men of Judah,Ó the visible church of the Old Testament (v. 7).
God blessed the nation of Israel above any people who lived upon the face of the earth. He did for the Jews what he did for no other people in the world. For two thousand years, they alone were blessed with the light of Divine Revelation. God sent his Word, his prophets, his priests, and his ordinances to no other nation. But they despised his goodness, provoking the Holy One of Israel to wrath. Therefore, God destroyed that nation in his wrath (Luke 19:41-44; Matthew 23:37-38).
Look at the great things God did for the Jewish church and nation (vv. 1-2).
(Isaiah 5:1-2) ŇNow will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.Ó
When all the rest of the world lay barren, unsown, and uncultivated, without any special revelation from God, Israel was his vineyard, the Jews were his peculiar people. He called them his own, and set them apart for himself. He planted them in a land of milk and honey, in a very fruitful hill, where they might have an abundance with which to serve him.
God fenced his vineyard (Psalms 121:4; 125:2). The Lord God was with these people, to protect them, guide them, and keep them.
(Psalm 121:4) ŇBehold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.Ó
(Psalm 125:2) ŇAs the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even forever.Ó
He gathered out of his vineyard the stones of darkness, idolatry, and ignorance. He planted his vineyard with the choicest seed. He planted that nation with the seed of Abraham, Joshua, and Caleb. In the wilderness, he destroyed those who believed not, and kept only the precious seed to plant in Canaan. God planted his vineyard with the seed of:
á Pure Religion.
á His Perfect Law
á Ordinances of Divine Worship to Direct Their Hearts to Him.
The Lord built a tower in the midst of his vineyard. The tower he built was the Temple of God, wherein the priests were lodged, in which God promised to meet with his people. And there he gave them tokens of his presence, his power, and his pleasure.
And the Lord made a winepress in his temple. He set up there the altar of sacrifice, the place to which sacrifices should be brought to him, as the fruits of his vineyard.
Now hear the complaint God made against his people (vv. 3-4).
(Isaiah 5:3-4) ŇAnd now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?Ó
He looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. A farmer, having done such good work, reasonably expects fruit for his labor. And is it not right that God should expect fruit from those who enjoy the benefits of his goodness?
á Grapes here speak of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
á Wild grapes are the produce of nature, hypocritical acts of religion, without faith in Christ (Isaiah 1:11-14).
These people, being the recipients of such great goodness, are called upon to speak to their own condemnation (vv. 3-4). They were altogether without excuse (Romans 3:19).
ManŐs heart, by nature, is so thoroughly depraved that no amount of providential goodness will affect his heart. Nothing short of almighty, sovereign, regenerating grace can awaken the dead. Yet, men are responsible to respond to GodŐs acts of goodness; and if you would turn to him, if you would hear his voice, he would save you!
Because the Jewish nation despised GodŐs goodness, rejected his revelation, and received him not, they have been utterly destroyed (vv. 5-7).
(Isaiah 5:5-7) ŇAnd now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: 6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.Ó
God sent his prophets, his priests, and his Word to Israel, and at last he sent them his Son. He looked for judgment and righteousness. But he found oppression and a cry, ŇCrucify him, crucify him!Ó Therefore, that church was annihilated (Matthew 21:33-44); and God sent his grace to a people chosen from among the Gentiles (John 1:10-13).
What does all of this have to do with you and me? — I want you to turn with me Romans 11 and read verses 20 and 21. Now hear what I say — God will one day call you to account for what you have experienced of his goodness.
(Romans 11:20-21) ŇWell; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.Ó
á God has set you in his vineyard.
á God has fenced you about with his goodness.
á God has given you his Word.
á God has set a tower in this city (this local church) where he meets with men.
á If you do not give him the reasonable fruit of repentance and faith in Christ, you provoke him to anger, and yours shall be the greater condemnation.
It would be better for you never to have been born than for you to hear and see such things as you have heard and seen and willfully despise them. If you despise GodŐs goodness, you provoke his anger (Proverbs 1:23-33).
2nd — Isaiah shows us that GodŐs wrath is always the response of his justice to the sins of men (vv. 8-23).
(Isaiah 5:8-23) ŇWoe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! 9 In mine ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant. 10 Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah. 11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! 12 And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands. 13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. 14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. 15 And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled: 16 But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness. 17 Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat. 18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope: 19 That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it! 20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! 22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: 23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!Ó
I am not going to try to thoroughly expound these verses. But I want you to be certain that you hear and understand the message they contain.
Grace is altogether free and unconditional. Our works have nothing to do with GodŐs grace (2 Timothy 1:9).
á Election is free and unconditional.
á Predestination is free and unconditional.
á Redemption is free and unconditional.
á Regeneration is free and unconditional.
á Preservation is free and unconditional.
Grace is free. Salvation is free. Eternal life is free, the free gift of GodŐs sovereign grace.
But, judgment, wrath, and eternal damnation is the result of wilful, deliberate unbelief and sin. Men and women do not go to hell because of GodŐs sovereignty or because of GodŐs predestination. Men and women go to hell because of their sin.
á GodŐs will saves. — ManŐs will damns.
á GodŐs choice saves. — ManŐs choice damns.
á GodŐs work saves. — ManŐs work damns.
á The cause of grace is God. — The cause of wrath is man!
á If you go to heaven, it will be GodŐs work; and God alone shall have the praise for it.
á If, however, you go to hell, it will be your fault; and you alone shall have the blame for it.
Six Specific Crimes
In these verses (8-23) the prophet of God enumerates six specific crimes against God which are common to men for which the wrath of God falls upon sinners.
1. The Love of the World, Covetousness (vv. 8-10)
2. The Love of Pleasure, Drunkenness and Sensuality (vv. 11-15) — Those who live for their own pleasure live to the injury of others, and Ňregard not the work of the Lord.Ó
3. Infidelity, Unbelief and Blasphemy (vv. 18-19)
4. Moral and Spiritual Perversity (v. 20)
5. Haughtiness and Pride, Especially Spiritual Pride (v. 21)
6. Oppression (vv. 22-23)
These things are contrary to God and contrary to the spirit of Christ. They are not to be found among GodŐs people (Ephesians 4:17-32). Though we are all, by nature, guilty of these and many other vile deeds of the flesh, God has been merciful and gracious to us. Though we fully deserve his wrath, he has saved us by his grace. Let us therefore glorify God our Savior (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 20).
Thank God, grace is free! But GodŐs wrath is always the response of his justice to the sins of men (Romans 6:23).
3rd — Isaiah shows us that the wrath of God is thorough, irresistible, and irreversible (vv. 24-30).
(Isaiah 5:24-30) ŇTherefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25 Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 26 And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly: 27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken: 28 Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind: 29 Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it. 30 And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.Ó
Because the Jews despised GodŐs grace, rejected his word, and refused to submit to his Son, God raised up a destroyer to destroy that nation, and cut them off in his wrath.
á The cause of wrath was unbelief (vv. 24-25).
á The instrument of wrath was a pagan Roman (Titus 70 AD — vv. 26-30).
á The executioner of wrath is God himself.
á The extent of wrath is utter desolation.
4th — Now, I want you to see this too. — GodŐs wrath is honoring to his character as God (v. 16).
(Isaiah 5:16) ŇBut the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.Ó
Wrath, judgment, and eternal condemnation is not at all contrary to the character of God. A holy, just, and good God must and will punish sin. God shall be glorified, even in his wrath.
á He shall be exalted as a God of irresistible power.
á He shall be sanctified, honored, as a God of unspotted purity.
á ManŐs unbelief and sin will not, in any way, mar or detract from GodŐs greatness and glory as God.
5th — Isaiah shows us that even the wrath of God is an instrument of his mercy and grace to his elect (v. 17).
(Isaiah 5:17) ŇThen shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.Ó
Blessed be his name, forever, in wrath God remembers mercy! He will be faithful to his covenant. He will save his people. And he will even use the unbelief of the wicked and his acts of judgment against them to save his elect (Romans 3:3-4). The casting away of the Jews brought salvation to the Gentiles.
ŇThenÓ — after God destroyed Israel — ŇThen shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eatÓ (Ezekiel 34:14-16). The lambs are GodŐs elect, scattered throughout the world. Though we were strangers, we have been brought nigh by the blood of Christ and given free access to God in him (Ephesians 2:13-22).
(Ezekiel 34:14-16) ŇI will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.Ó
Even as he lifts up an ensign to destroy his enemies, he lifts up an Ensign to save his people (v. 26). When the Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Ensign of his people comes, it is both for vengeance and for salvation (Isaiah 11:10; 63:4).
(Isaiah 11:10) ŇAnd 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.Ó
(Isaiah 63:4) ŇFor the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.Ó
(Isaiah 5:26) ŇAnd he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly.Ó
á Christ is the Ensign of Salvation to the nations.
á He hisses for his sheep from the ends of the earth.
á When the Good Shepherd hisses for them, his sheep come to him Ňwith speed, swiftly!Ó
I am calling for a decision from you. I hold before you grace and wrath, life and condemnation. Will you, or will you not bow to Christ? Whether you do or not, I tell you this —
á You will not hinder GodŐs purpose of grace (Romans 11:25-26).
á You will not rob God of his glory.
á If you refuse to bow to the Son of God, you cannot escape his wrath (Psalms 2:12).
á If you come to Christ, you cannot perish!
(John 3:36) ŇHe that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.Ó
Salvation and eternal life is promised to faith in Christ, nothing else. In fact, if you trust Christ, you already have Ňeverlasting life.Ó If you did not already have life you could not believe. Faith in Christ is not the cause of spiritual life, but the fruit and evidence of it. It is the fruit of God the Holy Spirit, produced in the heart by regenerating grace (Galatians 5:22). And it is the evidence of that unseen work of grace in the heart (Hebrews 11:1).
Faith is the matter of first concern. You must believe. You must trust Christ. If you do, everything else will fall into place. But as long as you set up any condition that must be met by you before you can believe and be saved, you are attempting to save yourself. And God will not allow that. He will not allow you to mix your works with his grace.
(John 3:36) ŇHe that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.Ó