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Sermon #65 — Isaiah Series

 

Title:                           Kedar shall Fail!

 

Text:                            Isaiah 21:13-17

Subject:                     The Burden of Arabia

Readings:     Mark Medley and Rex Bartley

Introduction:

 

Here are three of the sweetest, most comforting, soul-cheering words to be found in all the Volume of Holy Scripture, three words that should make our hearts dance with joy. — “Kedar shall fail!” That is the title of my message — “Kedar shall fail!” Our text will be Isaiah 21:13-17. — “Kedar shall fail!” (Isaiah 21:13-17)

 

In this short chapter God’s prophet faithfully declares…

  • The Burden of Babylon (vv. 1-10),
  • The Burden of Dumah (vv. 11-12), and
  • The Burden of Arabia (vv. 13-17).

The Burden of Babylon assures us of the fall of Babylon and the deliverance of God’s Israel from all bondage and evil. — The Burden of Dumah shows us the need and work of faithful watchmen in the dark night. — The Burden of Arabia assures us of the preservation, protection of, and provision for God’s elect in Christ in all things.

  • Prior to Conversion and
  • After Conversion

 

(Isaiah 21:13-17) The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim. (14) The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled. (15) For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war. (16) For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail: (17) And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the LORD God of Israel hath spoken it.

 

The Arabians

 

The Arabians spoken of in verse 13 were Hagarenes. They joined with Edom, Moab, and Ishmaelites in their hostility against the church and people of God, God’s Israel. They formed a confederacy with all who opposed God, determined to destroy his chosen people, his holy nation (Psalm 83:1-12). — Hagar the bond woman and her son Ishmael have always hated and sought to destroy Sarah the married wife and her son Isaac (Galatians 4:21-31). That’s the way it has been. That’s the way it is. And that’s the way it shall be until time shall be no more.

 

(Psalm 83:1-12) Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. (2) For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. (3) They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. (4) They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. (5) For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: (6) The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; (7) Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; (8) Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah. (9) Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: (10) Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth. (11) Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna: (12) Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession. (13) O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind. (14) As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; (15) So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. (16) Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD. (17) Let them be confounded and troubled forever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: (18) That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.

 

Dedanites Protected

 

The Dedanites were descendants of Abraham by Keturah (Genesis 25:1-4) among the Arabians, “travelling companies” lodging in the forest of Arabia. — I cannot help presuming that the Spirit of God here uses them to portray God’s elect in this world.

Š      A Travelling Company!

Š      Found Even Among Arabians!

Š      Lodging in the Dark Forest of Arabia!

Š      The Inhabitants of Tema[1] Bring God’s Chosen Bread and Water (v. 14)!

 

Proposition: Protecting his elect, preserving his chosen, God uses his most implacable enemies and ours for our good and his glory; and when their service to our souls is ended he promises to destroy them.

 

That is the message of Isaiah 21:13-15. Then, in verses 16 and 17, the Lord God gives us this sweet, sweet promise.

 

(Isaiah 21:16-17) For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail: (17) And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the LORD God of Israel hath spoken it.

 

Kedar shall fail! — Let me show you the sweetness, the joy, the blessedness of this promise. This is a promise of God that I had never heard him speak until just a few weeks ago. Until then, though I had read it dozens, if not hundreds, of times in the last 50 years, I had never seen or heard this promise before.

 

(Isaiah 21:16-17) For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail: (17) And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the LORD God of Israel hath spoken it.

 

Kedar

 

Kedar was the son of Ishmael. His name means “blackness” or “dark skinned.” The children of Kedar were a nomadic people who dwelt in tents made from the hair of animals. Those tents, with time, became dark. They had the appearance of a dirty blackness, horribly unappealing to the eye of anyone passing by them. Like Ishmael their father, they were a wild, barbaric, warring people. Muslim genealogists trace the descent Mohammed from Ishmael through Kedar. Throughout the Scriptures, Kedar speaks of…

Š      Darkness,

Š      Filth, and

Š      Trouble.

 

David lamented, “Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!” (Psalm 120:5) But I find no indication in Scripture that David ever literally dwelt among those people. If that is indeed the case, he uses the words “Mesech” and “Kedar” allegorically. In Psalm 120:5, he is saying, “Woe is me, for I dwell among ignorant, barbaric, warring idolaters!”

 

Divisions: I want to call your attention to four things in Isaiah 21:13-17. Using Isaiah’s words allegorically, as I believe the Spirit of God intends for them to be used, I want to show you how this prophecy speaks to us spiritually in four ways.

1.    God’s elect in this world are like the traveling companies of Dedanim (Isaiah 21:13-17).

2.    So long as we are in this world, God’s people must dwell in the black tents of Kedar (Psalm 120:5).

3.    Though we dwell in the black tents of Kedar, every heaven born sinner in this world is comparable to the golden curtains of Solomon (Song of Solomon 1:5).

4.    Kedar shall fail (Isaiah 21:16-17).

 

Traveling Company

 

1stGod’s elect in this world are like the traveling companies of Dedanim (Isaiah 21:13-17). God’s church, though one, is here spoken of as companies (plural) because…

Š      Some are already called and others are yet to be called (John 10:16).

Š      God’s church travels through the earth in all the ages of time.

Š      God’s church is found in all nations.

Š      God’s church is made up of many congregations (companies).

 

Even before they are born again and called by his grace God’s chosen are under his care, “sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called” (Jude 1). But here Isaiah is talking about those who already numbered among the saints. Let us never fail to remember the blessings that are ours in Christ by the grace of God.

Š      Chosen in Everlasting Love!

Š      Redeemed by Christ’s Precious Blood!

Š      Born of the Spirit!

Š      Kept in Christ!

 

Here, Isaiah describes us as a people passing through hostile, enemy territory, as the “traveling companies of Dedanim (v. 13). God has his elect in every nation, kindred, tribe, and tongue. Christ has his redeemed out of all the families of the earth, even the sons and daughters of Ishmael. — We are all warring Ishmaelites by nature. But we have been sought out by Christ and called (Isaiah 62:4, 10-12).

 

(Isaiah 62:4) Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.

 

(Isaiah 62:10-12) Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. (11) Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. (12) And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.

 

Thanks be unto God, this world is not our home. We’re just passing through. We ought to act like it. — We are pilgrims, passing through a land that does not want us and we do not want.

 

But, so long as we are passing through this land, the very people of the land who so greatly despise us are made by our God to be our protectors and providers (v. 14). Our great God displays his providence in a very special way here. He causes the very people who despise us and seek to destroy us to be our helpers in all things

 

(Isaiah 21:14) The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled.

 

Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagarenes, Gebal, Ammon and Amalek, and the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre were Israel’s constant foes. — Yet all were instruments by which the Lord God did his people good (Revelation 12:1-17).

 

      Illustrations:       Egypt Providing for Israel

                                                                                    Paul’s Shipwreck at Melita

 

(Revelation 12:1-17) And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: (2) And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. (3) And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. (4) And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. (5) And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. (6) And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. (7) And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, (8) And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. (9) And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (10) And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (11) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (12) Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. (13) And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. (14) And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. (15) And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. (16) And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. (17) And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

 

Still, we must never imagine that those who oppose our God are our friends. God’s church is always the object of implacable anger and hatred. While we live in this world, swords are drawn against us, bows are bent toward us, and we are relentlessly involved in “the grievousness of war” (v. 15). — But only for a set time (vv. 16-17). Our foes are but hirelings for a set time. When their service is done, when their appointed time is finished, “within a year according to the years of an hireling,” they will be gone!

 

(Isaiah 21:16-17) For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail: (17) And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the LORD God of Israel hath spoken it.

 

Tents of Kedar

 

2ndSo long as we are in this world, God’s people must dwell in the black tents of Kedar (Psalm 120:5). We are in Kedar and Kedar is in us. That’s just the way it is. Everyone acknowledges that we are in Kedar. But most religious people pretend that Kedar is not in us. — You and I know better. We dwell in the blackness, darkness, and filth of our sinful flesh and all the blackness, darkness, and filth of the flesh dwells in us. That’s just the way it is.

 

(Psalm 120:5) Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!

 

Mesech was a son of Japheth. Kedar was a son of Ishmael, whose hand was against every man, and every man’s hand against them (Genesis 1612). There is no geographical connection between those two peoples. Mesech was from the North and Kedar from the South. The connection is one only of character. They were both fierce, warring barbarians. David here laments the fact that he lived constantly with savage, barbaric, ignorant men of Mesech and Kedar.

 

Calvin calls them “false brethren and a bastard race of Abraham,” by whom David was relentlessly molested and tormented. — That is a pretty good picture of our flesh. — Is it not?

 

In the Song of Solomon, God’s church speaks honestly about herself. She says, “I am black, as black as the tents of Kedar.” And so we are.

 

(Song of Solomon 1:5) I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.

 

I am black.The people of God are charged by both the world and by self-righteous religionists with many evils. But none of our enemies have such a loathsome view of us as we have of ourselves. Do any charge us with evil? It is true. “I am black…My own vineyard have I not kept.” I am black in myself, by nature. I am black in the eyes of others, because of my actions. I am black in my own eyes. True faith does not defend herself. She does not seek any excuse for sin. True faith acknowledges and confesses sin (Job 40:3-5; 42:5-6; Psalm 51:4-5).

 

(Job 40:3-5) “Then Job answered the LORD, and said, (4) Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. (5) Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.”

 

(Job 42:5-6) “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. (6) Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

 

(Psalms 51:4-5) “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. (5) Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

 

Illustration:         The Believer’s Inward Warfare

(Romans 7:14-24; Galatians 5:17).

 

(Romans 7:14-24) “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (15) For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (16) If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. (17) Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (18) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (19) For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (20) Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (21) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: (23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

 

(Galatians 5:17) “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

 

  • We are sinners by nature.
  • We are sinners by choice.
  • We are sinners by practice.
  • We are sinners at heart.

 

Sin is not to be measured only by our actions, but by our attitude as well. Sin is not to be measured only by our deeds, but by our principles too. Sin is not so much what I do as it is what I am.

 

Sin is mixed with all we do. Old man Adam is still present with us. He is no longer master. But he is still present. That is a fact from which we cannot escape. Sin is so much a part of us that it is mixed with all we do. — Prayer — Bible Reading — Worship — Service — Preaching. —— Truly, I must confess, “I am black.”

 

      Illustration:         Hot and Cold Water from One Faucet

 

Like Lot in Sodom, God’s saints vex their righteous souls day by day with the evil that is around us in this world, sojourning in Mesech and dwelling in the tents of Kedar. But we are vexed even more by the fact that all the blackness, darkness, and filth of Kedar that is in us! Living in this body of flesh called sin, we dwell in the tents of Kedar. We are compelled to acknowledge, “I am black as the tents of Kedar!” — But that’s not all…

 

Solomon’s Curtains

 

3rdThough we dwell in the black tents of Kedar, every heaven born sinner in this world is comparable to the golden curtains of Solomon — “I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon” (Song of Solomon 1:5). — “I am comely as the curtains of Solomon!” In ourselves we are black; but in Christ we are comely (suitable, beautiful, seemly). In our own eyes we are black; but in the eyes of God our Savior we are comely (Song of Solomon 4:1; Ezekiel 16:9-14).

 

(Song of Songs 4:1) “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.”

 

That is Christ’s own estimate of his Church. Here our dear Savior tells us exactly how he sees us. A loving wife does not find her joy and comfort in what her friends and neighbors may think of her. And she does not find joy and comfort in what she thinks of herself. If she truly loves and reverences her husband, she will always think herself to be an unworthy wife. But she finds all of her joy and all of her comfort as a wife in her husband’s high opinion of her. If her husband loves her and honors her above all women, in his thoughts, in his speech, and in his conduct, she will be happy. She desires no more than this.

 

Even so, the true believer finds no joy and comfort in the opinions of others about him or in his own opinions about himself. But if he can be persuaded that the Lord Jesus Christ holds him in the highest esteem of love and honor, there he finds all the comfort and joy his heart can crave.

 

(Ezekiel 16:9-14) “Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. (10) I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. (11) I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. (12) And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. (13) Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. (14) And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD.”

 

The Lord Jesus Christ has made us beautiful in the eyes of God through his righteousness and shed blood. And we trust his merits alone for our acceptance with God.

  • In Christ every believer is perfect and complete (Colossians 2:10; 1:28). — “In him is no sin!”
  • Through the merits of his own blood and righteousness our blessed Savior will present us before the throne of the Triune Jehovah in the perfection of holiness (Ephesians 5:25-27; Jude 1:24-25).
  • We trust the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ alone for our entire, complete, absolute, and everlasting acceptance with God.
  • I am nothing. I have nothing, and I can do nothing in myself which God will accept.
  • All my hope before God is in Christ (Lamentations 3:22-26).

 

(Lamentations 3:24-26) “The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. (25) The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. (26) It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.”

 

There is one more thing I want to remind you of…

 

Kedar’s End

 

4thKedar shall fail (Isaiah 21:16-17). Soon, very soon, we shall be delivered from Kedar! This warfare between flesh and Spirit will soon end. And it will end in glorious triumph for us. — “The glory of Kedar shall fail!

 

(Isaiah 21:16-17) For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail: (17) And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the LORD God of Israel hath spoken it.

 

(Romans 7:24-25) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (25) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

 

(Romans 8:16-18) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (17) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (18) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[1] Tema is Teman. You will remember that Habakkuk prayed for God to come again from Teman (Habakkuk 3:3), as he has done before, for the salvation and reviving of his church, remembering mercy for the glory of his own great name.