Monday, May 03, 2010
Today’s Topic: Impacting Our World for Christ
Today’s Text: Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah. (Isaiah 1:9)
What a marvelous spring it has been, at least here in Wisconsin. It was the first time in over 100 years that we went through March without any snow. For the first time in 23 years the lilacs were blooming by May 1st. The rhubarb in my garden is already full grown. Golf courses have been open since March. Very few people I speak with remember the winter. Spring flowers and rains have a way of erasing our memories. We love to watch everything be made new again.
Today we begin a study of the book of Isaiah. It is like springtime to me. After long prophecies about the impending judgment of God on a sinful society, the book closes with a glorious vision of the Kingdom of God on earth when Jesus reigns on the throne of Jerusalem. The splendor of that vision brings hope and joy to those who study it and believe it.
We will not take a lot of time going verse by verse through the book, but we will point out the highlights and significance of Isaiah’s prophecies and relate the relevance they have to our modern culture. I pray it will be meaningful for you.
Isaiah’s ministry as a prophet of Almighty God spanned the period from 740 B.C. until the last years of Hezekiah (687) or the early years of Manasseh (687-642). The prophet lived during the reigns of the Judean kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and perhaps the first years of Manasseh. He was contemporary with the last five kings of Israel: Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hosea. The tragic fall of Samaria to the Assyrian King Sargon II in 722 B.C. occurred during his ministry.
He was the son of Amoz, was born in Judah, no doubt in Jerusalem, about 760 B.C. He enjoyed a significant position in the contemporary society and had a close relationship with the reigning monarchs. His education is clearly evident in his superb writing that has gained him an eminence in Hebrew literature hardly surpassed by any other. He had a thorough grasp of political history and dared to voice unpopular minority views regarding the state and the economy. His knowledge of the religious heritage of Israel and his unique theological contributions inspire awe. He was alive to what was transpiring in the court, in the marketplace, in high society with its shallowness, and in the political frustrations of the nation.
Isaiah was about 20 years old when he had a vision of God’s glory and holiness, and was called by God to be a prophet (Isaiah 6). The elements in that vision forecast the major themes of his preaching, particularly the transcendent nature of God. God warned him that his ministry would meet with disappointment and meager results but also assured him that forgiveness would ever attend the penitent (Isa. 6:5-7; 1:19-20) and that the ultimate promises of God would be realized (Isa.6:13d).
So much for the historical background. Now, for today’s connecting point. Isaiah begins his book with an honest evaluation of what society was like in his day. It’s also very relevant to our day. But in the middle of this picture of a sin-sick society is an incredible statement of the grace and patience of God. Read verse nine of chapter one – Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.
This is so simple, yet so profound and challenging. God’s incredible grace has provided a way for our culture to escape the judgment of its sin. That’s the simple part. The profound and challenging part is this – you and I are responsible for impacting our culture with the grace of God. In the midst of continued corruption and overt oppression stand God’s people as the lights of hope for a sin-sick society. You and I are here because God has chosen to place us here as His witnesses and to provide an escape for people from the coming judgment of sin.
Now the all-important application point – What kind of an impact for Christ are you having on your society?