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Sermon #125 — Romans Series
Title: Isaiah’s Bold Prophecy
Text: Romans 10:18-21
Subject: God Stretching Out His Hands to Sinners
Date: Sunday Morning — August 13, 2017
Reading: Isaiah 65:1-25[i]
The title of my message this morning is Isaiah’s Bold Prophecy. You will find my text in Romans 10:18-21. — Isaiah’s Bold Prophecy — (Romans 10:18-21). Throughout this 10th chapter of Romans the divinely inspired Apostle gives reason after reason for faith in Christ. Here, the Spirit of God calls poor, lost sinners to faith in Christ. The Lord God here stretches out his hands to stubborn rebels and calls us to trust his dear Son. More than that, he gives us reasons and arguments, telling us why we should do so! Imagine that! — God calls us to faith in Christ, promises us everlasting salvation to all who believe on his Son, and stoops to reason with us, urging us to trust the Lord Jesus Christ! Throughout this chapter, the Lord Jehovah says…
(Isaiah 1:18) “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Have you found my text — (Romans 10:18-21)? Let’s begin at verse 18. In verse 17, we are told that “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” But for multitudes, for the vast, vast majority of people who hear the gospel, the hearing of the gospel of God’s free grace is utterly meaningless and useless! It is worse than that. If you hear the gospel and refuse to believe, if you hear the gospel and refuse to trust the Lord Jesus Christ, trampling under your feet the mercy and grace of God, trampling under your feet the precious blood of Christ, the gospel you have heard shall be your greatest torment forever in hell.
Illustration: Barnard’s Sermon
The Hounds of Hell
(Romans 10:18) “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.”
The Jews heard the gospel, but despised it. Now, for 2000 years the nations of the world, the Gentiles, have heard the gospel, and have despised it. Now, you have heard the gospel. Will you despise it; or will you trust the Son of God? God cast off the Jews and sent the gospel to the Gentiles. I pray that he will graciously cause you to hear his voice and live, giving you faith in his dear Son. — Blessed are they to whom God gives hearing ears and a believing heart!
There is a people in this world who must and shall be saved. God’s purpose stands and will be accomplished.
If you refuse to trust the Lord Jesus, if you refuse to believe the gospel of the grace of God, the Lord God will forever provoke you to jealousy and stir up your anger in hell by sending the gospel to someone else and saving them. That’s what Paul tells us in verse 19.
(Romans 10:19) “But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.”
That is a direct quotation from Deuteronomy 32:21. If you will just look across the page of your Bible to Romans 11:11, you will see that the Spirit of God tells us plainly that Moses’ words were intended as much for you and me as they were for Israel. — God uses even the stubborn unbelief of reprobate sinners who despise the gospel to send the gospel to chosen, redeemed sinners who must and shall be called by his grace. — You’re no hindrance Almighty God! — You’re not going to get in his way or alter his purpose!
(Romans 11:11) “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”
Now, let’s read Isaiah’s bold prophecy in verses 20-21. We read Isaiah’s prophecy in the 65th chapter of Isaiah just a few minutes ago. That is the specific prophecy Paul is talking about here.
(Romans 10:20-21) “Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. (21) But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”
A Bold Prophecy
God the Holy Ghost tells us that this was a bold prophecy. This is a prophecy that required much boldness in Isaiah as he declared it and much boldness in the apostle Paul to expound it. Indeed, it is a prophecy that to this day requires boldness in the one who will faithfully deliver it. The man who declares that which is here revealed must have a God given boldness to do so for two simple reasons.
First, this prophecy is a bold denunciation of self-righteousness. — The Jews thought, like many in our day, that they had a monopoly on God. They had the idea that God was somehow obliged to bless them, that they were a superior race. Because their fathers were chosen and blessed of God, they presumed that they would be. When Paul spoke of his commission from the Lord to carry the gospel to the Gentile nations, they were furious. — “They gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live” (Acts 22:22). If that was their reaction when Paul preached this message, imagine how the Jews must have responded to it in Isaiah’s day! Therefore, Paul says, Isaiah was very bold to have delivered this word of prophecy to that nation.
That man who is called of God to preach the gospel must be a man with God given boldness. Men and women do not like to have their sin exposed, their self-righteousness condemned, and their pride abased. God’s servants do not deliver their own words. They deliver God’s Word. Such men dare not alter their message, soften their tones, or speak smooth things. They speak with boldness, as God’s ambassadors. Any preacher who is ashamed to speak the truth ought to be ashamed to speak and will one day be ashamed that he ever spoke! It is nothing less than treason against God for a man to speak in God’s name who refuses to speak God’s truth!
Second, this is called a bold prophecy because it is a clarion declaration of God’s free, sovereign, discriminating grace. Our text speaks of God’s rejection of one people and the calling of another. It speaks of both reprobation and election. It speaks of God justly casting off the Jews and of him calling his elect from among the Gentiles. In this day of Arminian, freewill, works religion, that man who proclaims the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ has to have a backbone of steel and the boldness of a lion. In this day of cultured, well educated, religious reprobates, it takes boldness for a man to stand against the tide and preach plainly that “Salvation is of the Lord,” that God almighty saves whom he will, and that he does the whole work, without the assistance of man. May God be pleased to bless those men around the world today who dare to do so. May God be pleased to raise up men like Isaiah and Paul, who will dare to proclaim the message of his grace and glory in Christ.
Proposition: In this bold prophecy of God’s Prophet, we are very plainly taught that God bestows his grace and his salvation upon those people that men consider the least likely candidates for it.
Divisions: I want to show you five things in this message.
1. No one by nature can or will seek the Lord.
2. God himself comes to sinners in the preaching of the gospel.
3. When the Lord God makes himself known to sinners by the gospel, he causes them to seek him.
4. It gives God great pleasure and delight when sinners come to him by faith.
5. The Lord God finds his elect in the most unlikely of places.
None Seek the Lord
1st — No one by nature can or will seek the Lord. Our text describes those who do ultimately seek the Lord and find him as a people who sought him not and asked not for him. The fact is, man by nature never can or will seek the Lord. It does not lie within the realm of possibility that a sinner, left to himself will seek the Lord and come to him in repentance and faith (Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:10-12).
(Psalm 14:1-3) “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. (2) The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. (3) They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
(Romans 3:10-12) “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
5:39) “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have
eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (40) And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
(John 6:44) “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
(John 6:63) “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (64) But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. (65) And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”
Before Adam sought God he was sought by God; and before the sons and daughters of Adam seek the Lord they must be sought by the Lord.
Illustration: The Story of St. Dennis
Some of you here today simply will not seek the Lord. You may have come here for any number of reasons; but it was not your intention in coming to seek Christ.
It is my prayer that God may be pleased this day to seek you, causing you to seek him and find him.
Illustrations: The Young Man in Peru
The Jogger in Australia
God Comes by the Gospel
2nd — God himself comes to sinners in the preaching of the gospel. In Romans 10:21 the Lord God says, “All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” I do not know how to say this forcefully enough. If God is now speaking by me, the message which you now hear is God speaking to you by the gospel. If the gospel you now hear blesses you, it is not the me blessing you, but God. God himself has come to you. Here is the awful solemnity of hearing the gospel. If God speaks, you are responsible to hear his voice and harden not your heart. If you really understood that, some of you would listen to the gospel in a very different way than you do now.
Illustration: The Little Boy Listening to Spurgeon
Will you hear me? Will you hear what God says about this? If God speaks to you by the gospel, to accept and obey it is to accept and obey him; but to ignore it is to ignore him. To reject it is to reject him. To despise it is to despise him (Proverbs 1:22-33; 2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2).
(Proverbs 1:22-33) “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? (23) Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. (24) Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; (25) But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: (26) I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; (27) When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. (28) Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: (29) For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: (30) They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. (31) Therefore, shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. (32) For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. (33) But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.”
(2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (6:1) We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (2) (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”
God almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, have come to you this day, stretching out the hands of mercy and grace in the gospel! What amazing mercy! What an astonishing responsibility!
The work of grace proclaimed in the gospel is God’s own, personal work. We live in a society today in which men, even religious men and preachers, try to shut God out of everything.
Š We are told that the universe is a great product of evolution rather than the result of God’s creation (Genesis 1:1).
Š We are taught that providence is governed by undefined laws of nature, blind fate, or superstitious luck, rather than the decree and hand of God (Romans 8:28; 11:36).
Š We hear preachers talking about salvation as the result of something sinners do (Their Works — Their Will — Their Ceremonies, etc.), rather than the work of God almighty.
That salvation revealed in the Bible, that salvation proclaimed in the gospel is the personal work of the Triune God himself (Ephesians 1:3-14).
Š God the Father planned it.
Š God the Son purchased it.
Š God the Holy Spirit performs it.
It is God himself that is be desired. Read the text again.
(Romans 10:18-21) “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. (19) But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. (20) But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. (21) But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”
Everything centers in and around God. Everything directs you to God. Everything comes from God. Everything goes back to God.
(Exodus 15:2) “The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”
(Psalms 27:1) “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
(Psalms 35:3) “I am thy salvation.”
(Psalms 38:22) “Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.”
(Isaiah 12:2) “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.”
(Luke 2:30) “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”
(Revelation 19:1) “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God.”
It is the Lord God himself that we need. He says, “Behold me, behold me!” We look to God in Christ and find all that we want, all that we need in him. To use the words of Spurgeon, “God is the sum of our necessities.”
Illustration: Should you find a little abandoned child, starved, naked, dirty, and sick, one that has obviously been abused, frightened and perhaps frightful to look upon, and you wanted at once to supply its every need, what would you look for? — A Mother!
I am telling you that everything sinners need is to be found in God our Savior! Every lost soul needs a thousand things; but no sinner needs more than is to be found in Christ our God and Savior.
Caused to Seek
3rd — When the Lord God makes himself known to a sinner by the gospel, he causes the chosen, redeemed sinner to seek him. Paul translates Isaiah’s words like this: “I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.” This is very important. You must seek the Lord; but your seeking him is the result, not the cause of him seeking you.
“I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me;
It was not I that found, O Saviour true,
No, I was found of Thee.
Thou didst reach forth Thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea, —
‘Twas not so much that I on Thee took hold,
As Thou, dear Lord, on me.
I find, I walk, I love, but, O the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee;
For Thou wert long beforehand with my soul,
Always Thou lovedst me.”
The method, or the means by which God makes himself known to sinners is the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:13-17).
(Romans 10:13-17) “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (14) How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (15) And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (16) But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? (17) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
In expounding this passage of Scripture, Martin Luther said, the Holy Spirit here reveals and declares four impossibilities.
1. No one can call upon the name of the Lord, no one can worship God, who does not believe on Christ.
2. No one can believe on Christ until he hears the gospel of Christ.
3. No one can hear the gospel of Christ without a preacher.
4. No one can preach the gospel, truly preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, unless he is sent of God to do it.
If God the Holy Spirit speaks to you by the gospel, if he is pleased to issue to you the irresistible, effectual call of his grace, he will make you willing to come to Christ (Psalm 110:3). When God comes in saving power to a sinner, he makes that sinner...
(Isaiah 1:18-20) “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (19) If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: (20) But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”
Gives God Great Pleasure
4th — Now hang on to your seats. I want you to see this fourth thing. It is utterly astonishing. The more I think about it, the more astonishing it appears. — It gives God great pleasure and delight when sinners come to him by faith in Christ.
Please understand that I am speaking after the manner of men; but I make no apology for that. How else could we know God, if he did not condescend to make himself known to us after the manner of men? Our text appears to me to be an utterance of delight. God almighty is glad to be sought and found by sinners who once refused to seek his face. Imagine that! It gives the Lord God pleasure to see sinners turning to him.
(Ezekiel 33:11) “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”
(Luke 15:7) “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
(Luke 15:10) “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
Illustration: The Father Receiving the Prodigal
Do not ever imagine that you will find God unwilling to receive you. It is written, “He delighteth in mercy!”
5th — The Lord God finds his elect in the most unlikely of places. God saves those very sinners we think are the least likely to be saved. —Those who are saved by God’s grace were once a people who sought him not, a people who asked not after him, and a people who were not called by his name.
The objects of grace are all chosen vessels of mercy, prepared unto glory, from the ruined clay of fallen humanity, by the Potter’s own hand (Jeremiah 18:1-6). Usually, God’s elect are those whom we least expect to be saved.
Š “Arise, anoint him: for this is he” (1 Samuel 16:12).
Š 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
The message by which God saves his elect is so simple that most people miss it altogether. Listen to God’s word to you by his prophet. Listen carefully. You will miss it, unless you are listening. God says, “Behold me, behold me!” He does not say, behold yourself, or behold your sin, or behold your deadness, but “Behold me, behold me!” That is the message (Isaiah 45:22).
(Isaiah 45:22) “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”
Illustration: Spurgeon’s Conversion
Here I stand as God’s ambassador. This is what the Lord Jesus Christ, my God and Savior has sent me to declare unto you: “Behold me, behold me!” Behold him as...
Š Your God!
Š Your Righteousness!
Š Your Sacrifice!
Š Your Salvation!
Š Your Lord!
No preparation is needed. No works are called for. No feelings are demanded. He simply says, “Behold me, behold me!”
(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.”
If you refuse to hear his voice, if you will not behold him now, if you will not believe on Christ, the day will soon come when he will say to you, “Depart from me, depart from me, ye cursed!”
[i] Isaiah 65:1-25
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.
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.
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.
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.
11. But ye are they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number.
12. Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not.
13. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed:
14. Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.
15. And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen: for the Lord GOD shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name:
16. That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.
17. For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
18. But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
19. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
20. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
21. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
22. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
24. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
25. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.