Isaiah 33 - God is Our Only Hope. Even When He is the Last Thing We Put Our Hope in.

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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Good morning brothers and sisters,

The following is from my morning devotions on the book of Isaiah.

In Isaiah chapter 33, the very backslidden Jerusalem is terrified by the Assyrian army that God has sent against them. They finally learn to trust God as their only hope, but they do so in a very, shall I say, half-assed manner.
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We can imagine the scene—the hordes of the Assyrian army surrounding Jerusalem, filling the landscape out to the horizon. The officials of Judah stand there on the city wall, watching nervously as the chests filled with gold and silver are carried on carts out through the city gate to the Assyrian command center off at a distance. It is humiliating to Judah and doubly dishonoring to God. His people treat him as a worthless ally and then make him pay the bill for their disloyalty. But they don’t see it that way. Not yet. What they see is hope: “Finally those Assyrians will let up on us! This will all be over soon.” So there goes God’s money, God’s honor, and their integrity in the form of payment to the Assyrian mafia.

But as they watch from the wall, waiting for the foreign army to pack up their weapons and disassemble their battering rams and fold up their tents, the leaders of Judah begin to realize that the Assyrians aren’t going anywhere. It’s a double-cross. Assyria plans to attack anyway. Judah has made a bargain with the devil. As the truth dawns on them, they finally admit, “We’ve miscalculated. In fact, we’ve done everything wrong. Our whole strategy has been wrong. We’ve offended God. We’ve weakened ourselves and gained nothing in the deal.” They finally realize that they have nothing left but the grace of God. Therefore, to God they go. They can’t tell him that they value him as the One from whom all blessings flow. They only value him as their backup plan. But God receives them even on those terms.

That is the setting for Isaiah 33. And what Isaiah reveals here is God’s answer to overdue human repentance. What does God say to people who have failed him and are only beginning to get it? Isaiah 33 tells us that the mess we’ve made of our lives is the very place where God meets us afresh. He isn’t put off by the disproportion between our paltry repentance and his overflowing grace. He accepts it, at cost to himself.

Isaiah 33, therefore, is for people who haven’t been trusting God. It’s for people who are seeing in a new way that they can’t treat God as a rabbit’s foot and experience his power; they can’t marginalize God and live in the flow of his blessing. Isaiah 33 is for people who’ve given themselves to all the wrong things and are only now seeing that their lives are fast becoming a lost opportunity. And the message of Isaiah 33 is this: It is too late to think that you really honor God. But even now, if you’ll come to him just as you are, “your eyes will behold the king [God] in his beauty” (v. 17).

The outline shows us the way back to God: trust (33:1–6) and brokenness (33:7–12), leading to renewal (33:13–24).

1. God makes a difference, when we trust him (33:1–6)
A1 The destroyer destroyed (33:1)
B1 The Savior prized (33:2)​
A2 The nations scattered (33:3, 4)
B2 The Lord exalted (33:5, 6)​

2. When we own our failures, God asserts his glory (33:7–12)
A We say, “We have failed” (33:7–9)
B God says, “Now I will arise” (33:10–12)​

3. Listen! The King will save his people (33:13–24)
A1 The renewing power of practical repentance (33:13–16)
B1 The gladdening vision: the King (33:17–19)​
C The trusting church at rest (33:20)​
B2 The saving presence: the King (33:21–23)​
A2 The healing power of forgiving grace (33:24)

Our repentance is imperfect—itself a reason for even deeper repentance. But still, repentance does take us back to practical trust in God, it pulls his blessing down upon us, and it replaces our chronic impulses toward self-salvation with the peace of full salvation in Christ alone.
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Ortlund, R. C., Jr., & Hughes, R. K. (2005). Isaiah: God saves sinners (pp. 188–189). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 

deleteduser99

Puritan Board Junior
The Lord's magnificent goodness to us, foolish and slow of heart, and unprofitable servants. Refreshing. In the same Zion where there were hypocritical sinners...

But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us. - Isaiah 33:21-22
 
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