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Sermon #100 — Isaiah Series
Title: “God is My Defence”
Text: Isaiah 31:1-9
Subject: God’s Protection of His People
Date: Sunday Evening — September 8, 2019
Readings: Mark Medley and Jimmy Bowman
When trouble comes, where do you turn for help? Where do you find your comfort? What is the source of your strength? Do you look to the Lord God and trust him; or do you lean upon the arm of the flesh? Do you say, with David, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth?” (Psalm 121:1-2); or do you go down to Egypt and seek help from earthly power, wisdom, and skill? Do you find your help in God or in this world? Do you go to the pill box or to the Precious Book? Do you run to the shrink or run to the Savior? Do you flee at the sound of trouble; or do you find your strength in sitting still, in quietness, and confidence before God?
“God is my defence.” — That is the title of my message. Our text will be the 31st chapter of Isaiah. — “God is my defence” (Isaiah 31:1-9).
David often sang, “God is my defence.” When he was in trouble, when his heart was heavy, when friends forsook him, foes pursued him, and darkness engulfed him, David sang, “God is my defence!”
(Psalm 7:10) My defence is of God.
(Psalm 31:2) Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me.
(Psalm 59:16-17) I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble. (17) Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.
(Psalm 62:2-6) He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved… (5) My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. (6) He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.
(Psalm 89:18) The LORD is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king.
(Psalm 94:22) The LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.
That is the message of Isaiah 31. — “God is my defence.” — The Lord God our Savior, the triune Jehovah (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), is our Defence. — “God is my defence”
Read the 31st chapter of the Gospel of Isaiah with me.
(Isaiah 31:1-9) Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD! (2) Yet he (the Lord) also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity. (3) Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together. (4) For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof. (5) As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it. (6) Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted. (7) For in that day every man shall cast away his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your own hands have made unto you for a sin. (8) Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited. (9) And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.
If we apply what Isaiah here tells us concerning Israel’s history and their looking to Egypt for help for ourselves and our horribly evil inclination to lean upon the arm of the flesh, this chapter is full of instruction for our souls. My God the Holy Ghost teach us by his Word to ever look away from ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is ever set for our defense.
The first commandment of the law is — “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” And it is a direct violation of that commandment, it is an act of idolatry, to take from God that confidence of faith that is due to him alone and place it upon any creature, myself or any other. The object of my trust is the object of my worship. And that which I trust and worship is my God! If I trust the Lord God, I worship him. He is my God. If I place my trust in myself (my works, my righteousness, or my will), or in anything or anyone else, I am guilty of idolatry. No wonder John was inspired of God the Holy Ghost to close his epistle with this plea, — “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
This is the sin of Judah which Isaiah reproves in our text. Sennacherib, King of Assyria, had come against Jerusalem with a powerful and, humanly speaking, irresistible army. When he did the Jews went down to Egypt to help. They should have looked to the Lord God for his promised merciful and gracious protection. But they rejected his counsel (30:7, 15).
(Isaiah 30:7) For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still.
(Isaiah 30:15) For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.
Therefore God sent Isaiah to Judah with this message. — It is a message of judgment (vv. 1-3).
(Isaiah 31:1-3) Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!
How foolish it is to trust in the arm of the flesh!
(2) Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity. (3) Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together.
The help that Judah hoped to gain from Egypt would be vain and useless.
Isaiah’s message is a call to repentance (v. 6). — “Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted.” — The Lord God calls his elect remnant among the people to repentance. He tells them that it is still their strength to sit still, be quiet and trust in him.
This is a message of grace to a people who deserve justice, a message of mercy to a people who deserve wrath (vv. 7-9). The Lord God promised Judah that if they would return to him and put their trust in him, as soon as they did so, he would deliver them from their enemies.
(Isaiah 31:7-9) For in that day every man shall cast away his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your own hands have made unto you for a sin. (8) Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited. (9) And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.
A Call to Faith
Before I go on, let me address you who are yet without Christ, under the wrath of God, held captive by sin and Satan. Would you be free? As soon as you repent, as soon as you look to Christ, as soon as you cast away your idols of carnal trust, the works of your own hands, and trust the Lord Jesus Christ, you shall be free!
Š Free from the Curse of the Law!
Š Free from the Tyranny of Satan!
Š Free from the Guilt of Sin!
Š Free from the Dread of God and His Wrath!
Š Free from the Fear of Death!
And the Lord God will be your Protector and your Defense forever!
Proposition: In these nine verses the Lord God calls for us to trust him alone and promises that he will effectually protect and deliver all who trust him from all their enemies.
Divisions: I want us to learn four things from this chapter.
1. God’s elect do not need and must not seek the help of this world.
2. Doubt and unbelief on our part is utterly unreasonable.
3. The Lord God is our almighty, unfailing Defense.
4. The believer’s strength and blessedness is his quiet confidence in God.
Arm of Flesh
1st — God’s elect do not need and must not seek the help of this world. — How dishonoring to God it is for his children to seek comfort, strength, and help from his enemies! Anytime Judah goes down to Egypt for help, Judah will suffer. Peter got into trouble when he warmed himself by the fire of the Lord’s enemies.
God’s servant does not need what the King of Sodom can provide (Genesis 14:21-23).
(Genesis 14:21-23) And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. (22) And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, (23) That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich.
God’s church does not need the help and assistance of this world. God’s cause, God’s gospel, and God’s preachers do not need and do not seek the help of God’s enemies (Matthew 10:9-14; Luke 22:35).
(Matthew 10:9-14) Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, (10) Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. (11) And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. (12) And when ye come into an house, salute it. (13) And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. (14) And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
(Luke 22:35) And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing.
God’s people do not need the help of God’s enemies. We must not lean upon the arm of flesh, but upon the omnipotent arm of God our Savior.
Š For Sanity.
Š For Domestic Tranquility.
Š For Help in Trouble.
Cast your care upon him, and you will not need anywhere else to cast it.
(1 Peter 5:7) Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
(Psalm 37:1-11) 1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. (2) For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. (3) 2 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. (4) 3 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (5) 4 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (6) And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. (7) 5 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. (8) 6 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: 7 fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. (9) For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. (10) For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. (11) But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
(Psalm 55:16) As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.
(Psalm 55:22) Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
We never have reason to compromise the gospel and dishonor our God
Š By fleeing from the world’s assaults.
Š By seeking the world’s assistance.
Š By operating upon the world’s principles.
Š By using the world’s methods.
(2 Corinthians 4:1-7) Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; (2) But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. (3) But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (4) In whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (5) For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. (6) For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (7) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-5) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (4) (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) (5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
2nd — All doubt and unbelief in us is utterly senseless, unreasonable, and shameful. — Judah had no reason whatsoever to fear Sennacherib and Assyria. Had they only listened to God and hearkened to his word, they would have avoided much sorrow and trouble (2 Chronicles 32:7-8).
(2 Chronicles 32:7-8) Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: (8) With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
When Peter began to consider the boisterous waves and winds of the sea, he began to doubt the Savior. And when he began to doubt, he began to sink. He cried, “Lord, save me.” And the Lord did. Then the Lord reproved his unbelief, saying, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:24-31). Our Lord Jesus said to his disciples on the Sea of Galilee, when they were so terrified, “How is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:35-41).
Now, I want you to do something. — Give me a reason for doubting God. Give me a reason for unbelief.
Š Has God ever broken a promise?
Š Have you ever known the Lord to be unfaithful?
Š Is anything too hard for the Lord?
Š Has God changed?
We have no reason to question God’s wisdom, goodness, grace, and power. Our doubts and suspicions of him are as unreasonable as they are sinful.
The fact is, except God the Holy Spirit give us grace, we cannot believe. We believe God only as God the Holy Ghost works faith in us. Initially, moment by moment, hour by hour, and day by day, faith in Christ is the gift and operation of God.
3rd — The Lord God our Savior, our almighty, unfailing, immutable, triune God is our Defense (Psalm 125:1-2).
(Psalm 125:1-2) They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever. (2) As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even forever.
Here, in Isaiah 31, we see Judah in extreme trouble and desperate need. And God called for them to trust him, promising to protect and defend them in four ways. Here are four ways in which the Lord God is our Defense.
The Lord God protects his elect with the firmness and resolve of a lion (v. 4). — “For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.”
“If God be for us, who can be against us?” — As all the shepherds of a village could never, by their impotent noise, prevail upon a lion to relinquish his prey, so none can prevail upon our God to relinquish his defense of his people.
God protects his own elect with the tenderness and persistence of a mother bird (v. 5). — “As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.” A mother bird will give up her life to a hawk rather than relinquish her little ones to the predator.
Where there is the mark of the blood God passes over and spares. And those whom God spares none can destroy.
God protects his people by his legions of heavenly angels (vv. 8-9).
(Isaiah 31:8-9) Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited. (9) And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.
(2 Kings 6:16-17) And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. (17) And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
(Hebrews 1:14) Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
The ensign, the insignificant flagpole, Judah, when God is with her, is an unconquerable army.
(Psalm 91:11-12) He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. (12) They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
(Acts 12:6-11) And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. (7) And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. (8) And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. (9) And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. (10) When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. (11) And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
(Acts 23:12-24) And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. (13) And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy. (14) And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. (15) Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you tomorrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him. (16) And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul. (17) Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him. (18) So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee. (19) Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me? (20) And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul tomorrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly. (21) But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee. (22) So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me. (23) And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; (24) And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.
God protects his Israel as a wall of fire (v. 9; Zechariah 2:5).
(Isaiah 31:9) And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.
(Zechariah 2:5) For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.
Illustrations: Israel at the Red Sea
Israel in the Wilderness
This is what I am saying, child of God, you belong to God. “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” God is with you. God will protect you (Isaiah 41:10; 43:1-5).
(Isaiah 41:10) Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
(Isaiah 43:1-5) But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (2) When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (3) For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. (4) Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. (5) Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west.
4th — The believer’s strength and blessedness is his quiet confidence in God (Isaiah 30:7, 15).
(Isaiah 30:7) For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still.
(Isaiah 30:15) For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.
Look anywhere else for help, and you make misery for yourself. The arm of flesh will fail you. You dare not trust your own. But God will never fail you. Trust him and him alone.
It is not possible for your confidence in God to be too strong.
(Romans 8:28-39) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (33) Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Calm, confident faith in Christ inspires gratitude to God (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Rejoice evermore. (17) Pray without ceasing. (18) In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Faith and gratitude promotes fidelity to the Lord our God our Savior. — Believing God, we have nothing to fear, nothing even to think of, except how we may best serve and honor him (Acts 20:24).
(Acts 20:24) But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Let us ever be conscious of God’s gracious interventions on our behalf and give ourselves daily to him (Romans 12:1-3).
Believe God! — “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?” (Isaiah 2:22) — Blessed Lord Jesus, make every renewed view of our nothingness, of man's nothingness, and of your all sufficiency, instruments by which you more and more endear yourself to our hearts.
(Isaiah 45:22-25) Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (23) I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, 1 That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (24) 2 Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: 3 even to him shall men come; and 4 all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. (25) 5 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.
(Romans 12:1-3) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (3) For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
(Proverbs 3:5-6) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.