A Sermon based on Isaiah 2: 5-22, Preached July 10, 2016
In his commentary on the Gospel of John, Dr. G. R. Beasley-Murray, has made an important statement about the way the Resurrection of Jesus affects the rest of the Bible. I use it here to show how the Resurrection affects the whole of scripture including this particular text in Isaiah, Murray’s words:
“…in John the lifting up of the Son of Man on his cross reaches to the throne of heaven; and as the shadow of the cross marks the entire story of Jesus, so the glory of the Resurrection event suffuses every hour of his ministry, and even reaches back to the morning of creation. The eschatological glory for which creation was made was brought to actuality in the deeds and words of Jesus.”
Beasley-Murray is saying a wonderful thing here!
He is saying that all of scripture is suffused with the glory of the Resurrection of Jesus! He is saying that the glory and beauty of the Resurrection reflects back into the Old Testament, into all of scripture giving scripture its distinctive power, and amazing effect on all of life. We should therefore understand an expression like THE SPLENDOR OF HIS MAJESTY as appropriate to this Isaiah text. This is the way God put the Bible together, anticipating the beauty and power of the Resurrection of Jesus long before it happened. Just as the cross of Christ is anticipated in the Old Testament, so is the Resurrection of Christ, giving this text a powerful application in our lives. The theme of this passage is:
BY THE SPLENDOR OF HIS MAJESTY GOD IS LIFTING US INTO HIS ETERNAL GLORY
Notice that I am not trying to prove to you that there is such a thing as THE SPLENDOR OF GOD. Neither Isaiah nor any other author of scripture ever tries to prove such a thing. All these authors just assume not only the bare existence of God but the ABSOLUTE SPLENDOR OF HIS BEING.
We must insist “GOD and His SPLENDOR are the fundamental AXIOM of the universe.” t Why AXIOM?? Everybody works from Axioms, truth so obvious it doesn’t need proof t Mathematicians, Scientists, intelligent people in any field of science or ordinary work
That is what Isaiah is doing in this text: HE HAD SEEN THE SPLENDOR OF GOD’S MAJESTY. Remarking on this text, Alec Motyer, a great student of Isaiah states that “Splendor is glory visibly displayed.”
N.T. Wright, another Bible scholar says it even better: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”
King David Sang in Psalm 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork”
C.S. Lewis calls theis 19th Psalm “the greatest poem in all of human Literature.” Why? The greatest? Because it rings true in our hearts. It is an incontestable REALITY!
THEREFORE, We Must Insist that: BY THE SPLENDOR OF HIS MAJESTY GOD IS LIFTING US INTO HIS ETERNAL GLORY – I will make 3 supporting points
I. THE SPLENDOR OF GOD OPENS OUR EYES TO THE REALITIES OF GOD’S WORLD Vs 5 Challenging us to walk in the LIGHT OF THE LORD = The LIGHT of HIS Splendor
TWO ASPECTS OF THIS SPLENDID LIGHT FREQUENTLY SEEN IN ISAIAH LIKE TWO TOWERS,
- BUT NOT LIKE THE TWO TOWERS IN NEW YORK – Vulnerable to terrorist destruction:
Twin Towers of His Splendid Majesty: CRREATION and 2. REDEMPTION
- CREATION: Genesis 1 & 2 are Radiant with the Splendor of God’s Majesty Moses 5 times calls it “good”, then in vs 31 climax “very good” “Very Good” because it displays the “splendor of His Majesty”
- Ch. 1 Physical-material creation
- Ch. 2 Spiritual-Social institutions in Worship, Work, Wedlock
BEAUTIFUL because it displays the splendor of the CREATOR’S Majesty, as King David sang in Psalm 19 and other Psalms
- REDEMPTION: When Adam and Eve fell into sin in chapter 3, God was standing there. And What did He do? Did He send them into eternal death as they deserved? NO! Once again, He displayed the splendor of His majesty. This time by promising them a SAVIOR
- So does God display His Splendor in his Love for LOST MANKIND
Read Revelation 1:12-16. Here is the Splendor of His Majesty in His face and in his heart as he touches John.
II. THE SPLENDOR OF GOD REBUKES OUR IDOLATROUS PRIDE Vs
A major thrust of passage V8 Read, Remark: Refrain through passage and whole bookVss 11&17 Repeat “…Haughty looks of man…lofty pride of men humbled”
- “THE LORD ALONE EXALTED in that day” – Day of judgment coming with certainty
- IDOLS DEFINED: Instruments of our own self-centered PRIDe
- Anything and everything we use to lift ourselves above each other
- EVEN OUR TROUBLES, we use them as attention getting devices
- ENLIGHTENMENT THINKING = SELF-CENTERED THINKING, SELF-ESTEEM THINKING
Illustration: WATCH THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES
Like the Apostles before crucifixion: “Which of us will be greatest in kgdm of God?” Without the SHOCK of first the Crucifixion, then the Resurrection they would have become like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump trying to DOMINATE EACH OTHER. TAKE CONTROL OF THE KINGDOM!
Isaiah 44:12-16 explain 12-15, read 16, 17 ff>>19
III. THE SPLENDOR OF GOD IS HIS MESSSAGE TO A LOST WORLD vs 3-5
“The Splendor of His Majesty is a figure of speech for the “light” God is calling us to walk by, especially the words of v 3, “The LAW will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
- THE LAW given by God from Mt. Sinai was full of THE SPLENDOR OF HIS MAJESTY Not like an executive order given by a president, might be overruled by Court
- But an irrevocable law given to create beauty in our lives
- Another way to display his love for THE LOST WORLD
- Help us to Love Him, revere Him, adore Him,
- Hold Him as our most precious treasure
- While he teaches us to love one another.
CONCLUDING STORY OF A MAN WHO EXPERIENCED THIS – Book: DEATH ON HOLD, about Mitch Rutledge, by Burton and Anita Folsom
- Using dope with a group of friends he shot and killed a man, for no good reason.
- When apprehended by the law he made a serious politically incorrect move-Without getting a lawyer, He confessed His crime and apologized to everybody
MYSTERY HERE!! WHY? He wasn’t that ignorant! He knew what the world was telling him: LIE! BLAME SOMEBODY ELSE! POINT TO YOUR CHLDHOOD ENVIRONMENT
OUR ANSWER: GOD IN HIS MAJESTY TOOK THE INITIATIVE TOWARD MITCH
- Enabled Him to give the right answers
- Though he never went to church, had no parents to instruct him,
- No Christian witness ever spoke to him
FACT: GOD AND HIS MAJESTY WERE A WONDER AT WORK IN HIS LIFE The whole creation was singing its truth to Mitch – Psalm 19
God was lifting Mitch into a life-giving relationship with HIM so that
- Mitch determined to live an honest and moral life in prison
- Converted to Christ early in prison term, though details not specified
- His sentence was commuted from death to “Life without parole”
- He was named “community leader” in the honor dorm of the prison
- He was used as an inspirational speaker to troubled youth
- By His infinite Splendor God is raising Mitch into eternal communion with Him.
All of this is happening to Mitch because God Himself was and is at work in his heart, while Mitch remains in prison seeking to honor his beloved Savior