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“Behold Your God!” (Part 4 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
January 12, 2022 3:00 am

“Behold Your God!” (Part 4 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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January 12, 2022 3:00 am

Uncertain times may tempt us to despair and question whether God really cares. Find out why we can confidently rest in God’s promises, even in the midst of chaos. Be sure to listen to this encouraging message on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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Music playing... So God the Creator, without any outside help, God the Counselor, in no need of advice. And then God created the universe and keeps the universe under his control. Look back up at verse 21. And here the questions come. Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning?

Now, what is Isaiah doing here? Well, he's essentially saying, listen, you know this. You know this. You've heard it.

You've seen it on display. You know that this is the case. So you know better—he's speaking to the people of God, the ones who are complaining and who are saying, My way is hidden from God and so on. He says, You know better than that to despair of the power of God, to doubt the care of God, to deny or to despise the wisdom of God.

Now, how does he address this? He says, Well, you know these things. You know.

You heard. You know it's been true from the beginning. You've understood this, if you like, from the foundations of the earth. This is foundational truth to you. And you know that it is he—that is, the living and true God—who sits above the circle of the earth.

Here's another amazing picture. It's a picture of the fact that God is so transcendent, and he is above and beyond everything. He's eternal. He's not trapped by time. He's not trapped by space. He sits above, beyond, around, if you like, the circle of the earth. What is he doing? Well, he's upholding and maintaining that which he has made.

That's what he's doing. Remember we said this morning, you know, big thoughts of God and small thoughts of ourselves? The first time you fly, that's what someone says to you. Have you flown before?

No! And you look down, and you say, Look how small everything is! He sits above the circle of the earth. How small!

What's he doing? Well, Colossians tells us that in Jesus, all things are holding together in him. This, you see, is the basis of our security. The picture of grasshoppers doesn't appear there for the first time. In actual fact, if you remember from Sunday school days, your old twelve men went to spy in Canaan, ten were bad and two were good. You remember that the bad fellows said, It's a terrible place, it's full of great giants, and it's not a good idea to go there. But two fellows—that was Caleb and Joshua—said, Well, it is full of great giants.

In fact, they are so big that we appeared to ourselves as grasshoppers. You can read that in Numbers and in chapter 13. And that's exactly what is happening here. Don't you know? Haven't you heard? You do know this. It's foundational. The same God who stretches out the heavens like a curtain—what a picture that is! The very fineness of the heavens, if you like, like a gauze.

You know, you have to be… He just stretches it out. And who is this God? Well, he is the God who brings princes to nothing and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Those who serve in office, of any kind of office—pastors, policemen, politicians, schoolteachers—will never spend one hour longer in that position than that which God has intended.

It's impossible. Because the God who upholds everything according to his power is the God who controls all things. And so it is that when we think as we think at the moment of all that is going on, we realize what a salutary and necessary reminder this is. He makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. The word that is used there is the same word that is used at the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis 1, where it says, The earth was without form and void. That is the word that is used. In other words, the earth in that condition was unfit for the purpose for which it was created. Unfit for the purpose for which it was created. And that's what God does.

He makes them unfit for the purpose. Now, you will notice that it is just a breath. It's just a breath. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely are they sown, scarcely is their stem taken root in the earth.

When he blows on them and they wither, the tempest carries them off like stubble. If this were another context, we could have a sidebar and talk about it in very practical terms. I don't want to do that. But here's the point. Just as the stars remain in place, not according to some kind of mechanical necessity, but on the basis of, if you like, the creatorial purpose of God, man looks up in the sky and says, We can explain this.

No. God's Word makes things very, very clear. They are not held in place by mechanical necessity, and neither are the rulers of the world. They will come to an end. Now, I want you, if you have your Bible, to turn for a moment to the forty-fifth chapter. We're in forty-four, but now forty-five and five.

Here we go. I am the LORD. This comes again and again, doesn't it? I am the LORD, and there is no other. Beside me there is no God. I equip you, though you do not know me, that my people may know… This is a word, incidentally, to Cyrus, who is going to be the instrument of God in the unfolding of his purposes. I equip you, though you do not know me.

Do you get the point? That God raises up people. Surprising people. That people may know from the rising of the sun and from the west that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness. I make well-being and create calamity. I am the LORD, who does all these things.

Now, here's the point. The will and purpose of God from all eternity stands behind everything—light and darkness, pain and pleasure, peace and calamity. In fact, if you're using a King James Version, it doesn't say calamity. It says evil, which is a good verse to go off for coffee and talk to your friends about.

But here's the point. Nothing—nothing can spring into action without God's say-so. And nothing can run beyond the boundaries of his purposes.

It is impossible. Because he is God. Now, you see, unless we get a hold of this, then we will inevitably fall into the great pit which suggests that somehow or another, God is only sovereign in our lives when everything is pleasant. I get this all the time from people who say, Well, the devil must have done this one, because I know God is only on the side of pleasure. He has got nothing to do with pain. He's got nothing to do with calamity. My loved ones, he's got everything to do with calamity. My friend, Mattia, my good friend, my much-missed friend, he said, If God were only sovereign in life's pleasantness, what an endangered species we would be! He leads us in paths of righteousness for his name's sake, right?

Psalm 23. What are the paths of righteousness? Well, green pastures. Yes?

What else? The deep valley of the shadow of death. Both the valley of the shadow of death and the green pastures are the paths of righteousness. God knows what he's doing. He knows what he's doing on the macro level, and he knows what he's doing on the little level. Oh, we shouldn't be discouraged, then, if things appear to us to be out of control. They're not out of control, from our perspective, maybe, but not from the one who sits outside the circle of the universe. Not the one who has called the galaxies into space. No!

They can't be. He's the Creator. He's the Counselor. He's the Controller.

And finally, he's the Comforter. Why then, verse 27, why do you say, Jacob, and speak, O Israel? You're my people. Why are you saying this? Why do you keep saying things like, It seems that the LORD has forsaken me, or that he has forgotten me?

Now, again, let's be honest. Surely there are times in our lives, in the journey of faith, when we find ourselves more leaning in this direction than in the triumph and assurance and joy of things. We know we can identify, I think, with the word of the people in the Psalms, you know, by the rivers of Babylon, we sat down and we wept.

How are we going to sing the Lord's song in a foreign land? And people come to me and say, You know, America actually is beginning to feel like a foreign land. Well, now, here's a real danger, and let me tell you what it is. The danger is—and it's a real danger if we're not careful and we need to nudge one another continually on this—this notion we are constantly in danger of applying in merely political, social, and national terms.

The issue is not about our nation. Who are we? We are the people of God, called by his name, called from the dark and delivered from shame.

One holy race saints everyone because of the work of Christ Jesus the Son. We are the community of Jesus. That's who we are. And that's who we are first of all. And that's something that we're gonna have to learn as Christians for as long as God spares us in this twenty-first century. Because otherwise, we will continue to ride the roller coaster, socially, politically, and nationally, up to the top and down to the bottom, up to the top and down to the bottom, with every passing cycle such as the one we've just been through. Now, it is not that we disregard that.

We don't. But it's not the issue. Christ is a King, and his kingdom is an international community. And we, by his grace, are made part of that. So, what should be our concern? Here's the concern we ought to have. We ought to be concerned about the sluggishness of our worship. We ought to be concerned about the feebleness of our own personal prayer lives. We ought to be concerned about the lack of zeal and the manifold cowardice which fills so many of our hearts in relationship to evangelism. Cowering away, hiding behind religious platitudes and statements that really mean very little to anybody at all.

Because we're not prepared to say that the Word of God is fixed in the heavens, and if we live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, that means what God says about gender, that means what God says about marriage, that means what God says about everything. And that, you see, is the issue. Far easier just to take it on some kind of political level. Oh, we'll get this and that fixed and so on. I've been here now for goodness knows how long. I don't… So long, I cannot believe that we're still at the same program that we were at in 1983, when the people began to give me all the political leaflets. You've got to do this, pastor.

You've got to fix this, pastor. This will go down, and so on and so on. No. Absolutely not. People have misunderstood my comments. I recognize that. I shouldn't make half of the comments.

But if you knew the ones I kept back, you would applaud me for the few that I've actually made. No! Oh, God, why'd you forget us?

Look at us here! What's going on, Lord? I don't think you can see what's going on. Have you disregarded us?

No. Can a woman forget her nursing child? And the answer to that, of course, is, by God, even she may forget.

Yet he says, I will not forget you. I have actually graven you on the palms of my hands. Now, who says this?

Well, this is where we end. The everlasting God says this. Haven't you known? Haven't you heard?

Of course you have! The Lord is the everlasting God. He's the creator of the ends of the earth. Well, he doesn't faint or grow weary. Of course he can grow weary. Wouldn't it be terrible if he grew weary of us?

Wouldn't that be quite dreadful? Then God says, I'm fed up with you, Alistair. I'm weary of your this and your that and the next thing.

I'm weary of that, church. No. No. It would be understandable, I think. Actually, it would be justifiable, at least in my case.

Because we grow weary of God. No, I don't want to. No, I don't think so.

No, it's very demanding. He doesn't grow weary. He gives power to the faint.

The one who has no might, he increases strength. So when we're bewildered by life, when we're tempted to lie down in the grass in the middle of the thing, where the track goes round four hundred meters or whatever it is, and we say, You know what? I think I'm going to chuck this now. Well, he says, Well, come on.

Come on. It can happen, because we know that youths faint, and they grow weary. Even athletes, they get tired. They have to go and get that Gatorade or whatever else it is.

And those who went through the Marine School, they actually know what it is to be exhausted. But here, those who wait for the Lord, those who wait for the Lord, strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord. How do we explain the weakness of the contemporary church? An absence of waiting. Waiting. In other words, resting in the assurance that the promises that God has made, he will fulfill. It is the expectation of the fulfillment of the promises of God to the people of God in the experience of the exile that allows them to keep their chin up and to keep going forward.

And it's the same for you and me. Soaring. Like eagles. Running. Walking. I don't know. I don't know if I've done much soaring.

Not that good at running either. I settle for walking. Just help me, Lord. Help me walk. Help me help to walk for another week.

That'd be good. And then maybe if I can get running after I get a walking down, maybe we could soar. It says we can soar. Our congregation could soar? You mean, even with my son?

Oh yeah, definitely soar with my son. You see, it's the expectation of the fulfillment of the promises of God that keeps us going, that keeps us on our toes. But we understand this. You look forward to your birthday and so on.

You say, Well, it's not much of a day, but whatever your birthday is, or something like that might be. You know me well enough to know that for seven years I wrote letters to a girl in the hope that, you know, I might manage to triumph over all the American boys who had access to her while I was far away—American boys who had muscles in places that I don't even have places. And so it was the hope. It was the expectation. So, was she worth the wait?

Yeah. Fifty-two years later, I'm telling you, definitely worth the wait. Some of you are young people. Some of you are just not even twenty years old.

Listen to those of us who are older. God is worth the wait. To wait upon him, to trust him, to rest on him, to be prepared to say, You can have the totality of me. I'll go wherever you want me to go, and I'll stay there for as long as you tell me to stay, and I'll do whatever you want me to do, and I forsake every idol that I have raised up that says to me, No, you can't do that because of this, and you can't do it because of that, and so on. I'm done with that, Lord.

I want to wait upon you, and I want to see your promises fulfilled. And the same for us as a church. Well, there's the poem. We began with the word of comfort. We were introduced to the gentleness of the shepherd God, the vastness of God, and we end with the shepherd God.

I find myself singing to myself, which I sometimes do. Imagine the shepherd God singing this to me. Alistair, when you're weary, fearing small, When tears are in your eyes, I'll dry them all. I'm on your side when times get rough, And friends just can't be found. When you're down and out, when you're on the street, When evening falls so hard, I will comfort you. I'll take your part when darkness comes. And pain is all around, Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.

It's that lay-me-down that kills me when I think of Paul Simon. You've got to be crazy to think that he can write that lyric without knowing who it is who lays down his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The awesome God steps down into time and bids us cast our all upon him. And if we will, he will keep us all the way to the end, and through the end, because he's promised to do so. And the promises he makes, he keeps.

And so we can trust him. That's Alistair Begg reminding us that God will never forget or forsake his people. You're listening to Truth for Life. Thousands of Alistair's sermons can be listened to, downloaded, and shared for free on the Truth for Life mobile app, also on our website.

The teaching library is completely free to access because of partners like you who give monthly to help offset the cost. In fact, it's the monthly giving from listeners we call Truth Partners that makes the free archive possible. So if you are one of our Truth Partners, thank you for giving the gift of solid biblical teaching to others. If you're not yet a Truth Partner, today is a great day to join the team, and it's easy to do. Just visit truthforlife.org slash truth partner. You can establish your Truth Partner giving right online.

It only takes a few minutes, or you can set up your giving over the phone when you call 888-588-7884. As our way of saying thanks for being a Truth Partner, we invite you to request both of the monthly book recommendations. Today we're featuring a book titled The All-Sufficient God written by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. This book is a perfect supplement to the series we've just concluded. When you read this book, you'll get to know God as he is revealed to us in Scripture, and you'll learn to rest securely in his provision.

Again, the title is The All-Sufficient God. The book is yours by request today when you sign up to become a Truth Partner. You can also request the book with a one-time donation. Just click the image on our app or visit our website at truthforlife.org slash donate.

I'm Bob Lapine. Would your neighbors be surprised to learn that you're a Christian? Tomorrow we'll see how our lives ought to reveal the truth about our membership in the family of God. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-28 21:49:23 / 2023-06-28 21:57:37 / 8

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