Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2)
For the last couple of weeks, we have been following the life of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who was renamed to Israel by God. The new Jacob finally became the father of twelve tribes of Israel, and the promise of God given to Abraham was fulfilling. Jacob’s twelve son became the twelve tribes of Israel. It was a miracle, and from the beginning, the God’s promise came with His miracle. We know that when Abraham initially received the God’s promise, Abraham had no son, and his wife was barren. But Abraham believed, and God gave Isaac through the barren wife, Sarah.
Then was Abraham perfect before God? No, Abraham struggled because he had no son, which did conflict with God’s promise to be a father of great nations. His struggled led a temptation from his wife. Then he was trapped. Abraham heard Sarah, his wife instead of God. In a human term, Abraham succeeded because Ismael was born through Hagar. However, Ishmael was not the true heir of the God’s promise. Then Ishmael started to bring in conflicts and troubles. Abraham’s house got into chaos, which hurt Abraham’s heart greatly. The merciful God silently saw the pain of Abraham. Out of His infinitely goodness, which was much greater than Abraham’s disobedience and sin, God gave Isaac, the true heir by opening the womb of his barren wife, Sarah. It was a miracle, and reflected God’s mercy and goodness toward Abraham, whom He loved.
How about Abraham? Was he same as anyone whom lived at that time. No. He was different, although he was not perfect before God. He was a man of God, who truly trusted God, and he lived out a God-centered life. Wherever he went, first, he built an alter and worshipped God by calling up His name.
Abraham’s faithfulness was also seen by Isaac, his son and Jacob, his grandson. When Jacob was in the lowest part of his life. Jacob called on God. Then God protected and guided Jacob during the dark period of his life. God used the darkest part of Jacob’s life and transformed the old Jacob to the new jacob, i.e., Israel, the true heir of the promise of God. Indeed, the darkness coming into Jacob’s life turned into a blessing, which made Jacob closer to God. Can we see the pattern? Abraham’s God-centered life made a direct impact on Jacob, which is the secrete and the blessings available to all faithful believers who absolutely trust God. How grateful our God is! Our God was, is and will be faithful to us because God’s holy promise and His mercy endure forever.
God’s blessings passed down to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. As promised, they became a big nation and occupied the Promised Land. However, the sin nature in the Israelites did not leave them alone, and it acted on the hearts of Israelites. It tempted the Israelites to reject God and His kingship. Then the Israelites asked their own Kings who could rule over them instead of God. God warned them, but they did not listen. Yes, they got the first human king, Saul. Is this sound familiar? When our children keep whining, then sometimes we give what they want although we know the not-so-good outcome. As expected, the first human king Saul miserably failed before God by sinning against God. Out of love and care for the Israelites, God prepared a new king by anointing David, whom God pleased with.
But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 13:22)
God kept blessing David, protected David, and guided David through the paths of righteousness. Although David passed through the valley of the shadow of death including the edge of the sword of King Saul, who tried to kill David, David was in God’s bosom. David believed God and His faithfulness. Not just once, but multiple times, David was saved by God from the edge of the sword of King Saul. God’s mercy and grace were always with David. God finally made David the king of Israel. God loved David, and David followed God as a sheep followed its own shepherd. Under the kingship of David, the kingdom of Israel was strengthened and established securely on earth. It was the beautiful scene. The blessed scene did not continue forever though.
King David was not perfect like Abraham, before God. David also sinned by completely missing the target set by God. His sin was truly terrible, which should be called hideous. David secretly took Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, his own faithful office who fought at the fierce battlefield while risking his life for David and the Kingdom. Then David tried to hide the hideous sin. David called in Uriah to his palace and gave a big party for Uriah. Then David sent Uriah home to spend the night with Bathsheba, his wife. By the way, Uriah was a true solider. He refused to sleep in his home and slept with his solider with him outdoor. He could not take the comfort while the rest of his own men were fighting in the battlefield. Following morning, David realized that his plot failed. Then, he made an even more hideous evil plan which could get rid of Uriah while making him look good to people’s eyes (not God’s eyes). He wrote a letter and sent Uriah back to the battlefield with the letter. The letter was, in fact, an instruction to carry out David’s evil plan by sending out Uriah to where he would surely get killed by the enemies. Without this fact, Uriah carried the letter and gave to his superior. Then his superior ordered Uriah to move out the frontline and the place that Uriah could be get killed by the enemies. The plot worked as planned, and Uriah was killed at the battle. Upon hearing Uriah’s death, David officially comforted Uriah’s fellow officers and soldiers including Uriah’s superior. All looked wonderful. David was viewed as a generous king who cared for his own man being killed at battle. Then he quickly brought in Bathsheba to his palace. David’s evil plan was hugely successful. David did this in secret, but God was watching every step of David – sinning after sinning. Indeed, one initial sin produced another sin, and the latter sin led to yet another sin, which ultimately killed his own faithful officer, Uriah to steal Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba.
Even so, God’s love toward David did not change. God sent His prophet, Nathan to David. Prophet Nathan exposed the hideous sin that David committed without fearing of his own king, David. Then what was the David’s reaction?
David confessed his sin! Yes, he immediately and openly confessed his sin. This truly separates David from the rest. Please imagine how difficult it would be for a king to confess his own sin before all his people in his own palace. As a king of the entire kingdom, David could have defended himself, but he did not. God saw David’s humility and truly repentance of his sin with his contrite and authentic heart. Then God forgave David. God also restored David. This reflects the true nature of God whom we believe. Our God always loves us, and His mercy toward His own people is unfathomable!
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
David’s kingship was inherited to Solomon, David’s own son. God blessed the nation also with even greater wealth and prosperity. In fact, King Solomon was known as the most blessed king in the entire history of Israel. His kingdom was rich and powerful. Many nations brought offerings. Thus, in Jerusalem, silver and gold were as plentiful as stones.
The king made silver and gold as plentiful in Jerusalem as stone. And valuable cedar timber was as common as the sycamore-fig trees that grow in the foothills of Judah. (2 Chronicles 1:15)
However, the sin nature of human beings got into the heart of Solomon. He also sinned against God by following his own heart and love of the world. Why? The world was seen by eyes and touched by hands, but God was not visible. Then God divided the kingdom into two. Only were two tribes of the kingdom given to Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, and the rest ten tribes were given to Jeroboam, who was not born of Solomon. This was the warning of God given to the people of Israel, but very few understood their sins. Yes, the Israelites sinned and were short of God’s glory and sinners, which are common to all human beings.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)
What were actually happened in the two kingdoms? Were they getting better by getting closer to God? Or did they move away from God while sinning more and more? The answer is that they did get away from God by sinning more and more. As a result, their lives were getting worse and worse. They suffered more and more. Even so, they did not return to God while committing sins, although God sent prophets who told the truth and repentance. How different from David who returned to God after sinning! Again, this truly separates David from the rest. The northern Kingdom of Israel fell by Assyria, and the southern Kingdom Judah was under a constant threat and invasions from Assyria. All inhabitants in the southern Kingdom, Judah were in fear. Then their trusted King Uzziah died. Their hearts were melting, which drove them into extreme fear. Externally the there was an eminent threat of Assyria, and internally, King Uzziah died, whom they trusted. The entire nation was trembling. There was no hope. Chaos and fear were prevailing among the people in the kingdom. The future was uncertain.
Prophet Isaiah was also under an extreme stress and in fear. Thus, Prophet Isaiah went up to the temple. He threw himself before God and prayed. Then Prophet Isaiah saw the Lord, God.
God was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending Him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies!
The whole earth is filled with his glory!”
Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.
Then Isaiah said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to Isaiah with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched Isaiah’s lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
God forgave the sins of Prophet Isaiah. Who could stand before God as a man or woman of sins? Nobody. God, who was merciful and gracious, removed the sins of Prophet Isaiah by touching Isaiah’s lips. How gracious God was! Please imagine the moment that God touched our own lips full of sins, deceits and lies when we present our prayer of confession and repentance. Surely our merciful God forgives our sins as He mercifully did to Prophet Isaiah.
Then Prophet heard the Lord asking,
“Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8b)
Then Prophet Isaiah said,
“Here I am. Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8c)
And God said, “Yes, go, and say to this people,
‘Listen carefully, but do not understand.
Watch closely, but learn nothing.’
Harden the hearts of these people.
Plug their ears and shut their eyes.
That way, they will not see with their eyes,
nor hear with their ears,
nor understand with their hearts
and turn to me for healing.” (Isaiah 6:9b-10)
God told what’s going on. The world was chaotic. The hearts were hardened, and they did not hear the truth, and closed eyes to protect and justify what they wanted to do and their sins. King David did exactly the same. He hid his sin and even beautify his sin with another lie and deception. How much different now? Do we plug in our fingers to our ears not to hear the truth of God, and close eyes to ignore God’s warning?
Then Prophet Isaiah said,
“Lord, how long will this go on?” (Isaiah 6:11b)
Prophet Isaiah asked how long will continue what he saw? It was a heart-breaking question of Prophet Isaiah. This should be a question of all of us, who are always waiting for God’s restoration of His Kingdom that will stand forever in His righteousness.
Them God replied,
“Until their towns are empty,
their houses are deserted,
and the whole country is a wasteland;
until the LORD has sent everyone away,
and the entire land of Israel lies deserted.
If even a tenth—a remnant—survive,
it will be invaded again and burned.
But as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down,
so Israel’s stump will be a holy seed.” (Isaiah 6:11c-13)
Yes, the evil will continue on earth, but it will not be forever. There is the time set by God. The worldly orders will cease, and God’s promise will come upon us. For this God saved the holy seed of Israel’s stump, although it might be seen cut off. Instead, the world would continue as it had been. However, it is not true. God has a holy plan to fulfil His holy and glorious promise given to Abraham. Not like the earthly kingdom of Israel failed due to sins, but the New Kingdom that will never fail and stay forever as promised,
Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.’” (2 Samuel 7:16)
Then there will no more war between peoples and nations. Instead, people hammer their swards into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. Instead there will be one true King, Jesus Christ, our Savior, who will be our king forever. This is our hope and faith. Praise God, who is infinitely merciful to us! His mercy will endure forever. Give Thanks to God!
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)