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Isaiah: A Godly Man in a Nation in Crisis

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
June 14, 2022 4:00 am

Isaiah: A Godly Man in a Nation in Crisis

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Psalm 14 verse 1, the fool has said in his heart what? There is no God. Now listen, that is not a philosophical statement. That is saying this, I'm going to do what I'm going to do. God could care less.

That is not a logical conclusion of study. That is a way to justify evil. When your nation seems to be experiencing great prosperity and blessing, and at the same time it's accepting and even promoting all sorts of sin, you might wonder what God thinks of the situation, and more important, what He might be prepared to do. John MacArthur helps you consider just that in the study he begins today on Grace to You. Based on some texts from the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, it's called, God's Word to an Ungodly Society. John, when it comes to tackling the problems of today, I know there's a temptation for a lot of people to think that the Bible probably doesn't relate to every issue that we face. I mean, how reasonable is it to expect men like Isaiah and Jeremiah, who lived thousands of years ago, to speak effectively to the troubles of 2022? Well, the fact of the matter is that whether you lived in the time of Isaiah and Jeremiah or living now, the same issues existed. There are only so many issues that can exist in the created fallen world, and obviously they cycle.

I mean, I think it's in Acts 14 where Paul says, God allowed all the nations to go their own way. There's a repetition of the patterns of sin, there's a repetition of the effects of those sins on society after society after society. There's a sense in which there's technological advance, but there's no moral advance, there's no real spiritual advance. I'd hate to think that anyone would say, well, because I lived 2,000 years after the Apostle Paul, I'm a better Christian than he is because I have 2,000 years of spiritual advancement to build my life on. I just think we have to make sure that we understand that from the spiritual standpoint, which the Bible addresses, nothing changes.

And what the diagnosis on the cure is offered in Scripture for any of the maladies of fallenness in the world are timeless, and that is why the Word of God is still alive and powerful and doing its mighty work. So we're going to start a series today that is going to be from Isaiah and from Jeremiah, but the title of it is God's Word to an Ungodly Society. You're going to be able to make the connection very fast between what Isaiah said and Jeremiah said to the people of their day and what their word, inspired by the Holy Spirit and permanent and eternal, is saying to the culture today. It's one thing to be angered by what we see in the culture, and I understand that.

It's another thing to know what to do about it. This study can help you, motivate you, and instruct you to be a strength in your church, to be salt and light in a decaying world. Come as today of this look at God's Word to an ungodly society. Yes, what should you do when your nation completely rejects the Lord? How should you pray for it, and how can you help?

Find out now. Here's John with a biblical plan of action. Because the subject on my heart is of great importance, I want us to get right at our text and I'd like you to turn in your Bible to Isaiah chapter 5.

Someone has well said, if men have learned anything from history, it is that men never learn anything from history. And so history inexorably repeats itself. And I really feel that if you read the Old Testament, the Old Testament presents to the history of today a series of billboards all along the path of mankind warning about the inevitability of destruction when sin enters the society.

We want to look at one of those billboards, and there are many, one erected by the prophet Isaiah. It is a clear insight. It is a very lucid lesson of the deadly sins that destroyed Israel, readily applicable to our own society, and how a godly man reacted to that very crisis.

And it sets up for us a form in which we too should react. First of all, look at chapter 5 and I want you to notice the parable of the Lord. For in this drama, the main character is the Lord Himself. This is a parable. In fact, it is an exquisite elegy. It is a parable in the form of a plaintive, weeping song concerning what happened to that vineyard.

And what does it mean? Verse 7 tells us, "'For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His pleasant plant. And He looked for justice, but behold, oppression, for righteousness, but behold, a cry.'" And so says God, there is coming a judgment.

I want you to move with me then from the parable of the Lord to the penetration of the Lord beginning in verse 8. Now here the Lord penetrates to the very core of the problem, and I want you to see this. Six specific sins have led to the ruin of the nation. Six woes, and a woe, why that's a word used by John and by Jesus in Revelation, used by the Lord in the Gospels. A woe simply is this, an impassioned denunciation of some evil observed by the penetrating eyes of God. An impassioned denunciation of some evil observed by the penetrating eyes of God. And God penetrates the situation and marks out six sins. Now beloved, it is frightening to notice these six because they are so true of our nation, and may I hasten to add this sadly, they are even true of the church, the so-called church of Jesus Christ.

You make application as we go. Number one, first Isaiah says, as God penetrates their sin, verse 8, you are guilty of a grasping materialism, verse 8. Woe unto them who join house to house, who lay field to field till there's no place that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth.

Now here you have the sin of avarice. It isn't enough to have one house. It isn't enough to have one piece of land. They add house to house and land to land until they have consumed the goods and stand alone, isolated from everyone. The insatiable greed of the landowners of Isaiah's time caused a great amount of poverty because what it did was it kept putting all of the resources in the hands of the few, making the gap between the very rich and the very poor wider and eliminating almost altogether anybody in the middle. Amos speaks of it, Hosea speaks of it, Micah speaks of it, and they were all Isaiah's contemporaries.

Wealthy men ruthlessly acquiring property, amassing fortunes, squeezing out the poor and the helpless and making them buy at inflated prices to fill their own coffers. You have to think of 1 Kings 21, don't you, and Ahab. Ahab who had everything.

Ahab who was the king and yet there was one man, Naboth, who just had one vineyard and Ahab wanted that vineyard and he took it. Greed. I don't believe God ever intended people to stockpile like that. I believe that's why in God's plan in the book of Leviticus there was a Jubilee year when everything reverted back to its original owner, all the slaves were set free, it just washed out the whole economy and everybody started from scratch.

God never intended people to amass those kinds of fortunes out of greed. In Micah chapter 2 and verse 2, Micah writes, they covet fields, they take them by violence and houses, they take them away, they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage, a grasping materialism. Verse 9, he says, in mine ears said the Lord of hosts of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant. You know what he says? There's going to come a time when all those great houses are going to be empty.

Nobody home, desolate. And it happened, you know. For example, in one invasion in Judah in the days of Ahaz recorded in 2 Chronicles 28, in one day when the nation invaded, Pekah was the king and the country was Samaria, in one day they killed, get this, 120,000 men who were soldiers and 200,000 men, women and children were carried off into captivity.

In one day, a third of a million people. Now God can move in judgment when He wants to. The great houses that are being amassed will be swept away. There are people in our country who have contributed to the demise of this country by grasping materialism. Verse 10, he says, there's going to come a day when I bring famine in the land. Your houses are not only going to be empty, but your fields aren't going to produce. Ten acres of vineyards shall yield one bath and the seed of an Homer shall yield an ephah. What it means is ten acres will produce about four gallons of wine. That's famine, folks. Four gallons of wine out of ten acres? A Homer of seed is about 48 gallons of seed. And he says 48 gallons of seed will produce 4.8 gallons of result.

One tenth. Famine. What a picture of America. Time Magazine says America is like an unloved child with an ice cream cone, fat, full of pimples and screaming for more. We're materialistic. We're indulgent.

We're possessive. I even saw a book written by a Christian who's on television. The name of it is Jesus Wants You Rich. We worship the golden cow. We seek worldly status. The church is prostituted for gain.

There are people floating around who will give their testimony for fifteen hundred or two thousand dollars a night. The nation has gone into materialism and let me tell you something, the church is riding the crest. It's a sad thing to see Christians caught up in that grasping materialism. Secondly, Isaiah says Israel is characterized by a drunken pleasure seeking. Verse 11, woe unto them who rise up early in the morning that they may follow strong drink, who continue until night, till wine inflames them.

And the harp and the lute, the timbrel and flute and wine are in their feasts, but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of His hands. Listen, they don't have any time for God. They're too busy getting drunk and having entertainment.

Let me tell you something, people. I can't think of anything that's more characteristic of our society than a drunken, entertained characteristic. People blindly migrate from one rock festival to another, from one nightclub to another, blasting away at their brains with the music of the world, all the time concocting drinks, all variations of mixtures to dull their senses and the end of it all is a life reeling and rocking with insensibility to the very God who upholds the universe.

That's what Isaiah is saying. We live in a stupor in our society. It's not just drugs, PCP and sniffing and snorting coke and heroin and all of this, it's alcohol. We are a drunken society and we are a society gone mad on music. No wonder in Revelation 18, God says I'm going to wipe out music. Read it.

The music of the world. And what He says at the end of verse 12 is that men are practical atheists. They don't regard the work of the Lord. They don't give any thought to God.

Our country knows about God. Every Christmas and Easter they throw a little bone to Him, but basically our world is drunk and lustful. You know what happens when you drink wine and listen to the world's music? Pretty soon it leads to sex, sin.

And that's the way it is in our world. Sad thing about it is it's even tolerated by Christians. I read about a Christian cocktail party. I'd hate to tell you all the Christians that I know who are in the ministry who are living in sexual immorality. A well-known Christian musician in our own community.

I confronted him about the fact that he's living in immorality. An evangelist well-known in our country living in immorality who's been doing it for five years, at least. A well-known Bible teacher whose name all of you would know who has lived in immorality for years, all the time trading on the name of Jesus. It's not just in our society, but the church has fallen prey to it. Verse 13 says, therefore my people are gone into captivity because they have no knowledge and their honorable men are famished and their multitude dried up with thirst.

Why? You abandoned the Word of God and there's no resource. The church long ago gave away to entertainment, social comment. There is no word from God. So verse 14, therefore Sheol hath enlarged herself and opened her mouth without measure.

What a vivid image. Here is the picture of the grave literally opening its mouth wide. And all their glory, the glory of the world, and all their multitude, and all their pomp, and he that rejoices all the good time Charlies, shall descend into the grave and the common man shall be brought down and the mighty man shall be humbled and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled but the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in justice and God who is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness. God isn't going to tolerate it. I'm telling you people, as someone once said, if God doesn't destroy America, he'll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. Verse 17 says, then shall the lambs feed after their manner and the waste places of the fat ones shall sojourners eat. What it means is roaming the once beautiful land ravaged will be an uncultivated heap where stray lambs will graze and roaming strangers scavenge.

It's coming. And for centuries in Israel, Arabs fulfilled this and still do in some of the land originally given to God's people. Third sin, a defiant sinfulness, a grasping materialism, a drunken pleasure seeking and a defiant sinfulness. Verse 18 says, woe unto them who draw iniquity with cords of vanity. In other words, they're proud about it. They are like oxen pulling a cart. They rope themselves up and they drag their iniquity. In other words, they work hard hauling it around.

You know, being really gross is hard work...hard work. The figures of a beast, a stupid dumb beast roped to a wagon and dragging around the burden of iniquity in the vain delusion that this is really living. In verse 19 they say, let him make speed and hasten his work that we may see it and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come that we may know of it. If there is a God, let him say something here.

Let him do something. Come on, if there's a God, do your thing. In other words, they mock God. They taunt God. I think the most common swear word in America is either God or Jesus or Jesus Christ, don't you? That's a taunt at God.

That's a mockery of His holy name, open, flagrant, defiant, mocking, sinfulness. The world is so blatant about its sin, filthy television programs, filthy movies, dirty music, rotten magazines and books. It's blatant on the sign boards. It's blatant in the night clubs.

It's blatant everywhere. And they mock the name of God. They don't even think God can respond.

They're like the fools in 2 Peter who said, well, all things continue as they were from the beginning. God's never gotten upset about this in the past. Certainly He won't in the future. In fact, in Psalm 10, 11 it says, He says in His heart, God has forgotten. He's hiding His face. He'll never see me. God's not looking.

In Psalm 14, it says, in Psalm 14 verse 1, the fool has said in his heart, what? There is no God. Now listen, that is not a philosophical statement. That is saying this, I'm going to do what I'm going to do. God could care less.

There's no God checking on me. That is not a logical conclusion of study. That is a way to justify evil. And our society mocks God.

You can't do that and get away with it. Grasping materialism, drunken pleasure seeking, defiant sinfulness, fourthly a moral perversion. Isaiah's time and even...it's hard to imagine that Israel was doing this. This is God's covenant people. Verse 20, woe unto them who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those people who have totally reversed morality, who have perverted right and wrong, who say adultery is okay, fornication is okay, marriage is prudish, abstinence is prudish, drunkenness is the way to go.

Homosexuality is just an alternate lifestyle. Those who have twisted, inverted and perverted what is right and what is wrong. Malachi says your sin is this, you have lifted up evil people. Who are the people we pay a hundred thousand dollars a word to sing yeah, yeah, yeah?

Who are the movie stars we fill our coffers with our money? They live an amoral, godless life, a subversion of moral principles. Oh, I tell you people, I see that in our society. Everything has become perverted and twisted and dirty. And even in the church, there are people who preach and sing songs and play instruments and they're living vile lives.

I'm not just talking generalities. I'm about one step from starting to give names. I'll tell you something. I identify with Psalm 69, the reproaches that fall on the Lord are falling on me. I can't stand this stuff. And I don't know whether the Lord...why the Lord gets me so excited about this thing and nobody else because it seems like I'm out there sometimes fighting this deal all alone.

But I've gotten to the place where I started confronting some of these people because I can't let the name of Jesus Christ be profaned when I know it or I stand in the point of chastening from the Lord as one who is called to speak His truth. We can't tolerate that. We can't tolerate a generation given over to a reprobate mind, a twisted perverted sense of morality, a fifth sin, and this one is inevitable to the others, grasping materialism, drunken pleasure seeking, defiant sinfulness, moral perversion, add an arrogant conceit.

Verse 21, woe unto them who are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight. You know another characteristic of our society? They have all the answers.

They got it all. Never has there been so much stupid talk. We never had so much media capacity, but it just goes on all the time. You turn on the radio, talk, talk, talk, talk.

Turn on the television, blah, blah, blah, blah. discussions, analyzations, viewpoints, theories, books, I'm telling you, ad infinitum ad nauseam. Everybody's got the answer. Paul said, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. You want to know something inevitable? When men live vile rotten lives and abandon an abandoned God, they'll put themselves on his throne. The greatest sin of man is that he really worships himself.

He's the ultimate idolater. We have in God we trust on our coins and me first in our hearts. Isaiah chapter 29 similarly says in verse 14, therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden, woe unto those who seek deeply to hide their counsel from the Lord and their works are in the dark and they say, who sees us and who knows us?

He says, I'll unmask them and I'll turn their foolishness aside. Finally this kind of a society was characterized by corrupt leadership. Verse 22, woe unto them who are mighty to drink wine, men of strength to drink and mix strong drink, who justify the wicked for reward...in other words, they're bribed...and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him. Now what this is talking about is drunkenness and unbridled luxury. But more than that, it is directed at the leaders of the country, the rulers and the judges who were perverting justice two ways, one by their drunkenness, two by taking bribes.

They could be bought. The leadership is corrupted. How can these people make sensible moral judgments? How can these people lead a right, a nation? The word mighty there in verse 22 means men of renown, famous leaders.

We see it on a local level, I tell you, the scandals never end on a state level, a national level. And your heart just aches, you cry out for somebody with some sense, somebody with a trust in God, somebody with some standards to lead this people. And what do we get in our society?

Just what Israel gave, a grasping materialism, a drunken pleasure seeking, a defiant sinfulness, a moral perversion, an arrogant conceit and the main thrust of it all just comes down from a corrupted leadership. What's the result? Verse 24, therefore...therefore, now you know it's a result. As the fire devours the stubble and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness and their blossom shall go up as dust. Now listen, he says it looks really good but the roots are rotten and the blossom looks beautiful but it's fragile and when the wind blows, it'll blow as dust. We talk about the great heritage of America, the roots go down, great Christian heritage, they're rotten folks, just like Israel's. We talk about the flower of American beauty, we talk about the wonderful country we live in with its glories, that with one puff of the breath of God will blow itself away like the most fragile dandelion.

It's an illusion. Superficial prosperity, superficial strength, but it's fragile and about to disintegrate. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. Today John looked at God's word to an ungodly society. That's the title of the series he started today. And friend, a great complement to John's series is a book he wrote called Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong. It cuts through secular worldviews that saturate our culture and helps you apply God's truth to current moral, ethical, and political issues. To order Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong, get in touch with us today. You can call our toll-free number, 800-55-GRACE, or go to our website, gty.org.

Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong can help you develop and maintain a biblical worldview in an increasingly ungodly culture, and it makes a great gift for a student going off to school this fall. Again, to place your order, call 800-55-GRACE, or go to our website, gty.org. And friend, if you believe this ministry changes lives, if you can point to a specific time when our broadcasts fed and strengthened you, maybe even transformed your family or a friend, consider if the Lord would have you help support Grace to You. When you give, you help us take God's word to His people in your community and communities like yours all around the world. You can make a donation at gty.org, or call us at 800-55-GRACE. And our website one more time, gty.org. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for making this broadcast part of your day, and join us tomorrow when John looks at what happens when a nation abandons God and His word. That's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-05 12:31:30 / 2023-04-05 12:41:53 / 10

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