Where is his anger? - Isaiah 9:8 - 10:4

This is a sermon by Lee McMunn from the Riverside Church service on 2nd November 2014.

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Where is his anger?

 

Isaiah 9:8-10:4

 

Do you think it is possible to learn from the mistakes of other people? I know that not everybody does learn from the mistakes of other people but that’s not what I’m asking. I’m not saying “Do we learn?” but “Should we learn?”

 

So, for example, when the drug addict goes into a school and explains the tragic life choices that led them down the path of drug abuse, should you the kids learn from his or her mistakes? Of course they should. That’s the very point of the visit. Now whether they do or not is all about their attitude but it is certainly possible, and indeed wise, for them to make future life decisions based not on their personal experience but on the other person’s mistakes.

 

Now this section of the Bible is all about learning from the mistakes of others. Or to put it more precisely, this section was written so that we can learn lessons about God’s anger from the way God has treated other people in the past.

 

In order to see why this is the case we’ve got to realise two things. First, who these words were originally about and, secondly, who they were originally spoken to.

 

First, who were they originality about? Let me show you. Read vs 8-9a.

 

The words in this section are describing what was happening to the northern kingdom of God’s people, roughly during the years 730-720BC. By this stage in history God’s chosen people had been divided into two separate nations. One in the north called Israel or Ephraim, and whose capital city was called Samaria. And the one in the south, called Judah and whose capital city was Jerusalem. What we have in these verses is a description of what was happening up north.

 

But here’s what is very important for us to know. Although they were about the north but they were actually spoken by Isaiah to the people of God in the south. You see Isaiah was not a northern prophet. God had his northern prophets. But Isaiah’s job was to preach to the people in the south.

 

And so do you see the original purpose of these words? They were spoken so that God’s people in the south would learn from the mistakes of God’s people in the north. God wanted his people in the south to avoid bad consequences caused by bad choices. And to do this he sent his prophet Isaiah to tell them about the northern ‘drug addict’ so they would not follow the same course.

 

Now of course we don’t live in the southern kingdom of Judah. But our God is the same as theirs. And so therefore as we come to this section of the bible we should actively try and learn from the mistakes of God’s historical people.

 

What are we to learn? We are to learn 4 lessons about the anger of God.

 

  • The reason for God’s anger
  • The progression of God’s anger
  • The expressions of God’s anger
  • The certainty of God’s anger

 

The reason I’ve chosen 4 lessons is because there are 4 mini sections in this part of the Bible and each min-section is telling us something about the anger of God.

 

Now in this case it’s pretty easy to identify where each of the mini-sections are because each one of them ends with the same sentence. You’ll see it at the end of vs 12, the end of vs 17, the end of vs 21 and then again in 10:4.

 

“Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.”

 

Lesson number 1: The reason for God’s anger (Vs 8-12)

 

If you asked people why God might get angry with us they would give a variety of answers. Different commandments we may have broken. But underneath all these presenting decisions there is often one core attitude that leads to everything else.

 

And it’s mentioned in vs 9 and 10.

 

This is how they are responding to God’s first expression of his anger. But this pride is not a new thing. The people are just continuing as they started. And this attitude has roused the anger of God.

 

I think we understand this at a human level. Think about how you respond emotionally to someone acting in a proud way towards you. Someone who bigs themselves up and lowers you down. Inwardly you are seething. They have inflated themselves and insulted you.

 

The northern kingdom had acted like this in the time of Isaiah and God’s anger was roused. And this led him to punish them through enemy nations who surrounded them.

 

Or in other words, their sinful pride had painful consequences. And as the pride continued the pain got even worse.

Pride will certainly have painful consequences for those who do not bow the knee to Jesus.

 

But pride can also have painful consequences for those of us who are members of God’s family.

 

Our growth as Christians. Primarily through our encounters with the word of God. Progress is not fundamentally linked with academic abilities but with an attitude of heart.

 

James 4:6, quoting Proverbs 3:34, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

 

God expresses his anger against proud Christians by withholding understanding and maturity.

 

Why not pray as you walk through the entrance? Grant me humility so I can listen with great eagerness.

 

Lesson number 2: The progression of God’s anger (Vs 13-17)

 

We discover in vs 13 that despite the initial expression of God’s anger the people had not repented of their pride.

 

As a result, look at what happened next. Vs 14. Notice the connecting word – so. Read vs 14-15.

 

I could draw out many things from what is said here. The responsibility of the leaders and the people.

 

But the big idea I want you see from these verses is the truth that God’s anger against his people increased in severity. And therefore the judgement experienced by the people intensified.

 

In one sense this is good news for us, because when God gets angry at us when we disobey him he doesn’t instantly go to level 5 severity. He gradually increases the consequences we experience.

 

But my friends let’s not use this as an excuse for continuing to rebel. If there is no repentance then our spiritual condition will get worse and worse.

 

So don’t play with your soul. If you have been repeatedly sinning in a particular way then be grateful that God is slow to anger and is slow to increase the levels of his anger. But don’t make him out to be a fool. Because he has already shown that when his people do not return to him, he will increase the consequences.

 

This leads us nicely to our third lesson we should learn about God’s anger.

 

Lesson number 3: The expressions of God’s anger (Vs 18-21)

 

How does God express his anger against people who rebel against him?

 

We’ve seen two examples already.

 

  • Nations sent
  • National leaders are removed

 

But another very common expression of God’s anger is mentioned in vs 18-19. Notice how vs 19 describes the rapid spread of wickedness as the wrath of the LORD Almighty.

 

Wickedness will burn like a fire. Why? God removes the restraints of human wickedness.

 

People say to God. We don’t want you and your ways. We want to live as we want. And God in his anger says, okay then, have it your way. I will withdraw my gracious restraints and you will have to live with the consequences of your own sinfulness. And that won’t be pretty at all. A dog eat dog society is no fun to be part of.

 

This expression of God’s anger is not as dramatic as a thunder bolt from heaven but it is still devastating for the people involved.

 

And this is still something God does today.

 

If you read Romans chapter 1 then you will see this consequence mentioned again. 3 times it is said that God gave people over to their desires.

 

And of course we see it in our day. Churches and nations in their pride and arrogance reject God’s way. God is angry. How does he express it? Often by giving people over to the consequences of their sinful desires. And that is scary.

 

Lesson number 4: The certainty of God’s anger (10:1-4)

 

Key verse 10:3

 

How does this apply to us? The future day of judgement.

 

We cannot avoid this day. How can we get prepared for it?

 

Normally we would run away from danger. The only way to be safe is to run towards God. Take refuge in Jesus and his wonderful work on the cross.

 

Conclusion

 

Here are 4 lessons about God’s anger.  Should we learn? Yes. Will we learn? Let’s pray that God will give us the humility to believe his word and to respond appropriately.

Let’s pray.

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