Sermon #1812 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: “A BLESSING IS IN IT”
Text: Isaiah 65:8-10
Readings: 2 Peter 3:1-18
Bob Duff and James Jordan
Subject: God’s Elect Remnant
Date: Sunday Evening – August 16, 2009
Tape # Z-70b
In the first part of this chapter the Lord God told the people of Israel why he would destroy them and their nation. In doing so he declared to us the cause of reprobation and judgment. The cause of reprobation and judgment is man’s willful rejection of God and his truth. I want us to look at verses 1-7 for just a moment.
Here is a fact which is set before us frequently in Scripture and confirmed in history. Idolatry always arises from and promotes self-righteousness. All idolatry involves what the apostle Paul calls “will worship” (Col. 2:23). Idolatry, every form of idolatry, teaches sinners that salvation is ultimately determined and accomplished not by the will, work, and worth of Christ, but by the will, work, and worth of man. Such doctrine, while boasting of self-righteousness, always promotes ungodliness. When God gives men and women up in reprobation, he gives them over to the corruptions of their own hearts. He measures back to the reprobate their own iniquity.
Isaiah 65:1-7 “I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. (2) I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; (3) A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; (4) Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; (5) Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. (6) Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom, (7) Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom.”
In divine judgment, in reprobation, the Lord God gives obstinate, persistent rebels the fruit of their own ways. In fact, those are the very words he uses in Proverbs 1. – “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof — Because — They hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord, — Because They would none of my counsel; they despised my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own ways, and be filled with their own devices” (Pro. 1:24-31).
Now, listen to Romans 1. Here the Holy Spirit tells us the very same thing.
Romans 1:20-28 “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (21) Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (22) Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, (23) And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (24) Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: (25) Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (26) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: (27) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. (28) And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”
This is the judgment God threatens to execute upon all who refuse to bow to Christ, all who willfully despise and reject the gospel, all who cling to their own righteousness and trample under their feet the blood and righteousness of Christ. As I read these words of Inspiration, I tremble. I tremble for this generation. I tremble for you who hear the gospel, but resolutely determine not to submit to the righteousness of God. I fear for you, lest God should cast you away in reprobation, as he did the nation of Israel (Rom. 9: 31-10:4).
Romans 9:31-33 “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. (32) Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; (33) As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”
Romans 10:1-4 “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. (2) For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (3) For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
Now turn back to Isaiah 65. Let’s look at verses 8-10. Here the Lord God gives a word of comfort and assurance to his people. Lest true believers should be overwhelmed by God’s denunciation of the nation lest we should be distressed by the foregoing prophecy of his wrath, in these verses (8-10), he promises to preserve and save an elect remnant from the general ruin of the nations of this world.
Isaiah 65:8-10 “Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all. (9) And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. (10) And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.”
These verses are expounded by the apostle Paul in Romans 11:1-5. There the apostle asks, “Hath God cast away his people?” Then he answers the question by saying, “God forbid! For...at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”
Proposition: The unbelief of men will never make the purpose and promise of God according to election of none effect (Rom. 3:3-4).
Romans 3:3-4 “For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? (4) God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.”
The title of my message tonight is found in verse eight — “A Blessing is in It.”
Does anyone ask, “Why did God not destroy the entire nation of Israel? Why do some survive unto this day?” Do any ask, “Why has God not yet destroyed this nation and the rest of the world?” We live in such a wicked, perverse, degenerate society that anyone who reads the Bible has to wonder why God has not swept away the entire world in his wrath. Our society is so degenerate that I do not doubt it would make Sodom and Gomorah blush. If God destroyed those cities, why does he allow us to continue? Here is the answer — “A blessing is in it.” Let me show you what I mean. More importantly, let me show you what this text means.
Divisions: Hold your Bibles open at Isaiah 65:8-10. I want you to see three things in these three verses. Here are three lessons the Holy Spirit here teaches us.
1. The blessing of God is often found in that which appears to be good for nothing (v. 8).
2. God’s elect shall inherit all things with Christ (v. 9).
3. Grace experienced and possessed in the soul here is the pledge and hope of everlasting glory hereafter (v. 10).
Blessing in the Cluster
First, the blessing of God is often found in that which appears to be good for nothing.
Isaiah 65:8 “Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all.”
Do you see the picture that is drawn before us here? When a gardener is about to cut down a dried up vine, or about to prune away some of its unfruitful branches, the owner of the vineyard passes by and notices a cluster of new grapes on it. When he does, he cries out to the vine dresser, “Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it!”
It looked worthless. It appeared to be needlessly occupying space. Ugly and dried up, the gardener would have cut it down and would have thought that was the only thing to be done with it. Nothing in the field is uglier than a dried up vine. But the owner saw a blessing in that which appeared to be worthless.
The Holy Spirit does not leave us there, forcing us to draw out the parallel that is most applicable. He gives us the parallel. Do you see it? — “So will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all.”
Note: Both the chosen and the reprobate are referred to as “my servants” because all men, indeed all things are the servants of our God (Pro. 16:4).
God’s elect in this world are the blessing hidden among the nations of the world for which he preserves them.
Read 2 Peter 3:9 one more time. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
The only reason why God does not destroy this world right now is this — There is yet a remnant according to the election of grace who must be saved. Everything God does in this world is for the elect’s sake. Every benefit of providential mercy that reprobate men enjoy in time is because there lives among them God’s elect, of whom he says, “Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it.” This is not my opinion. This is what God says. — “So will I do for my servants’ sakes.”
Š Once Noah (the blessing) was safely in the ark, God destroyed the rest of the world.
Š Once Lot (the blessing) was delivered unto Zoar, God destroyed Sodom.
Š Joshua and Caleb (the blessings) entered into the land of promise, though all those who came out of Egypt with them perished under the wrath of God.
Š The rest of the world exists and is used by God for his elect, the blessing in it (Isa. 43:1-5).
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.”
In our text (Isa. 65:8), the reference is to this present gospel age, the day in which we are privileged to live and serve our God. It is a prophecy of the fact that there would be few among the Jews in our Lord’s day and today who would called by the grace of God and brought into a saving union with Christ. Indeed, among the nations of the world God’s elect are always a remnant, few among many.
Š Matthew 22:14
Certainly, this eighth verse is also a declaration that wherever the blessing of God’s grace is found in a sinner’s heart it shall not be destroyed.
Š Like new wine in the grape, grace is a new thing in the heart of man.
Š Like new wine, grace is delightful both to God who gives it and to believing sinners who profit by it.
Š Like new wine in the cluster must be pressed out, so all grace must be tried.
Š But the grace of God, once bestowed and wrought, in a sinner’s heart cannot be destroyed.
Š Ecclesasiastes 3:14
Š Romans 11:29
Ecclesiastes 3:14 “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.”
Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
Frequently the object of God’s grace, the blessing of God in the earth, is found in that which we consider worthless. God often gathers jewels for his crown among those who are counted the off-scouring of the earth.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence. (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
Illustrations: The Woman who was Sinner
The Rich Man and Lazarus
These chosen ones scattered throughout the earth are a people concerning whom the Lord God says, “Destroy them not.”
Š God the Father says, “Destroy them not,” for he has loved them, chosen them, and found a ransom for them.
Š God the Son says, “Destroy them not,” for he has redeemed them by his blood. – Illustration: Treasure Hid in a Field
Š God the Holy Spirit says, “Destroy them not,” for he has pledged to regenerate them and make them the willing servants of the Most High.
Inherit All Things
Second, God’s elect shall inherit all things with Christ. Let’s look at verse 9 line by line. Everything in this verse has a double application. It speaks first of Christ and then of God’s elect in Christ.
“And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob.” — This must be applied to Christ. He is the Seed of woman, the Seed of Abraham and the Seed of David. He sprang from Jacob, out of the tribe of Judah. He is very beautifully represented as a cluster of grapes in which the new wine of all the blessings of God and his grace are found.
Š Clusters of divine perfections are in him (Col. 2:9).
Š Clusters of grace are in him (Eph. 1:3).
Š Clusters of promises are in him yea and amen (2 Cor. 1:20).
Š Our great Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man, our Redeemer is that Seed in whom all the nations of the earth are blessed (Gal. 3:16).
Yet these words have an application to God’s elect in Christ. We who believe are God’s chosen seed in him, brought forth out of Jacob and Judah, for we are one with Christ. The grace of God in us is as a cluster of new wine.
Š The Benefits of Grace (Eph. 1:3-14)
Ephesians 1:3-14 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (8) Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; (9) Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (10) That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (11) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (12) That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
Š The Fruit of Grace (Gal. 5:22-23).
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
“And out of Judah,” God says, I will bring forth “an inheritor of my mountains.” — Certainly, this is true of Christ. He who is the Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2) is the inheritor of God’s mountains.
Š Christ is the inheritor of all things by nature as the Son of God, the Creator of all things.
Š He is the inheritor of all things by divine appointment as our Mediator (John 17:2).
Š The Lord Jesus Christ has all creation, all things, all men, all angels, and all devils in his hands (Matt. 20:15).
Š And he has inherited all the blessings of the heavenly inheritance as the Forerunner for his people (Heb. 6:20).
Yet all God’s elect are also heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. – “All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s.”
Š Romans 8:17
Š John 17:5, 22
Š All the Blessings and Benefits of the Covenant.
Š All the Fullness of God’s Grace.
Š All the Perfection of Righteousness.
Š All the Bliss, Glory, Happiness and Fullness of Heaven.
Note: God’s mountains speak of those mountains upon which Jerusalem and his temple were built. They represent the fullness of heaven’s glory, both the throne of God and the temple of his presence.
“And mine elect shall inherit it.” — Christ is God’s first and chief Elect. We were chosen in him by the grace of God unto eternal glory. That is the meaning of the next line “And my servants shall dwell there.”
Š God’s people are his servants.
Š They shall dwell in his holy mountains, in his churches in this world.
Š And they shall dwell in his holy mountains of everlasting glory.
The Pledge of Glory
Third, grace experienced and possessed in the soul here is the pledge and hope of everlasting glory hereafter.
Isaiah 65:10 “And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.”
Sharon was a rich, fertile land around Joppa and Lydda in which shepherds found rich pastures for their herds and flocks (1 Chron. 27:29). Perhaps, as Gill suggests, this is a prophecy of the conversion of some in those parts which was fulfilled during apostolic times (Acts 9:35). There Christ had his sheep; and there he established a fold for his sheep.
I rather think that Sharon is to be looked upon allegorically, representing the Word of God and the ordinances of the gospel, which are green pastures for Christ’s sheep (Ps. 23:1-2).
Psalms 23:1-2 “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”
The valley of Achor was the place where Achan was stoned because of his sin. This valley of Achor the Lord promises shall be given to his people for a door of hope (Hos. 2:15). Here, in this land of destruction, death, and sin, the Lord God gives us hope.
The valley of Achor was also the very first spot of ground upon which the children of Israel set their feet after crossing over the Jordan River into the land of promise. As such, it represents the beginnings of salvation and grace in us, the earnest and firstfruits of the Spirit, which is the pledge, promise, and hope of glory to come.
Š Ephesians 1:13-14 and 4:30
Ephesians 1:13-14 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
Ephesians 4:30 “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
Grace experienced and possessed in the heart is the pledge of everlasting glory with Christ.
This promise from God is for a specific people. It is given “for my people that have sought me.” Notice how these people to whom God gives this door of hope are described by him.
Š They are called “My People.”
Š They are a people “Which have Sought Me.”
Š These are the people who have been sought and found by God’s almighty grace (v. 1).
Isaiah 65:1 “I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.”
Application: Now, let me wrap this message up by calling your attention to the sevenfold description here given of God’s saints in this world. Starting at verse ten and going back up to verse eight, we are described as...
1. His People — His because he adopted us in Christ.
2. His Flock — Christ is our Shepherd.
3. His Servants — Christ is our Master.
4. His Elect — Chosen in Everlasting Love!
5. The Inheritors of His Mountains — Heirs of Heaven’s Fullness and Glory with Christ!.
6. His Seed — A Seed Sprung from Christ, the Son of God.
7. A Blessing in this Reprobate World — A Blessing because Blessed of God.
God’s people are “blessings to the places where they live; and sometimes God spares whole cities and nations for the sakes of a few such men. How ambitious we should be of this honor, not only to be distinguished from others, but serviceable to others!” Matthew Henry
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