God's Passionate Response to Sin Draws Forth Intercession - Part 1 (Isaiah Sermon 76 of 81)
January 22, 2017 | Andrew Davis
Prayer, Judgment, Return of Christ
I. An Urgent Call for Intercessors
I like to ask that you turn in your Bibles to Isaiah chapter 63. We're beginning a two-part look at these two chapters Isaiah 63 and 64. As we resume a study through the Book of Isaiah, which is nearing an end, we're coming to an end of this incredible journey that we've been on as a church, for many years now. Not unbroken but we've had opportunity to look at almost all the Book of Isaiah. Now we're studying Isaiah 63 and 64, somewhat in conjunction but just having the first part today.
And I believe that it's helpful to look at these two chapters in light of intercessory prayer. Really a call to intercession that God is calling on us to pray. This is a marvelous gift, it's a vast privilege that's blood-bought for us. We have the privilege of coming into the presence of God. Apart from the blood of Christ, we would not be welcome, but now through Christ's atoning work we have open for us into the Holy of Holies, a new and living way. To the throne of power, the throne of grace, the throne of the universe. And not only do we have an invitation, but we really have a command to draw near to God, and to pray.
It's a responsibility that we have, to pray for the church, to pray for the work of God among the nations, to pray for the unsaved around us who do not understand their peril. But we do, we who have been biblically instructed. And if you don't understand it as you should, this sermon today, I think will help make even more acute, the kind of peril that lost people are in. And the kind of peril we have been delivered from by the blood of Christ.
So why do I think that we are called on to intercessory prayer? Well you could see, even though I'm preaching on Isaiah 63, I had this scripture reading go back to chapter 62, which is the last chapter that I had the chance to preach on. So, look with me if you would at Isaiah 62:6 and 7, you heard the reading there, I'm going to read it in a different translation, but this is what it says, in Isaiah 62: 6 and 7, "I have posted watchman on your walls O Jerusalem. They will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest and give him no rest till he establishes his Jerusalem and makes her the praise of all the earth."
So what does he mean watchmen on the walls? What's he talking about here? Well, watchmen are those who deprive themselves of sleep, so they can stand on the city walls and look out, peer out into the darkness through the long watches of the night, and see if there's any encroaching danger, any enemy that might come on the city unawares. And they are to deprive themselves of sleep. And the idea of Jerusalem and Zion, I think is best seen not as the physical city of Jerusalem, but we have learned through these many chapters in Isaiah, to see the word Zion to be ultimately the people of God, the place where God dwells with His people, the heavenly Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the church of Jesus Christ, that work of God. And so I think that God has summoned us to the walls spiritually, to be watchmen on the walls, and to, the ESV says, "Put the Lord in remembrance." Can I tell you, God doesn't need to remember anything? But that's what we do, that's the human way of talking about prayer. Or another translation has, "You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest."
So this is the urgent call to intercessory prayer, until God has established the new Jerusalem, the church of Jesus Christ. And he's calling people who are dead in their transgressions and sins, out of darkness into this marvelous light, that's the work going on in the world and we're called on to put Him in remembrance about that. And to pray and to plead with Him to establish His kingdom to establish the church Jerusalem.
Now in Isaiah 63 and 64, we have a valuable pattern, I think on how to do this and in light of what we should do this intercession. So for two weeks, we're going to go to God School in fervent intercessory prayer. Now, why do I think these two chapters together should be seen in that light? Well, obviously we have 62:6 and 7, but if you look at 63 and Verse 15, which I will not cover today, we'll do it next week, God willing. But look what it says. 63:15 says, "Look down from heaven and see from your lofty throne holy and glorious." So that's a cry up from Earth to heaven, for God to look down from His throne. That's prayer friends, that's what that is, calling on God to look down on Earth. And again, verse 16, "You who are our Father", this is addressing God in prayer.
And then again, Verse 17, "Why oh Lord?" He cries out, to the Lord, that's all prayer, verse 15, 16, 17. Then in 64:1. "Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you." That's the fervent prayer for God to descend. And then in 64:7, he talks about prayer, he says, "No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins." So the striving to lay hold of God, we do that in prayer. There's no other way to do it. So I think it's best to just couple of these chapters together for these two weeks, and talk about intercessory prayer. Isaiah is talking to us about calling on God to descend in power. But our tendency is to not do that, to give ourselves rest and give Him rest, and to cease from praying. That's our problem, in 64:7, we don't do it, we don't pray. We don't know why we should pray, we don't want to pray, we don't know what to pray for, Romans 8 tells us. And so, these are great chapters to answer those questions and tell us why we should pray, and how we should pray and intercede. So that's the approach I'm going to take, and we begin by understanding the terrifying danger of the wrath of God. This is a really overwhelming picture of God, here in Isaiah 63:1-4. Look at it with me, look down at the text Isaiah 63:1-4, didn't get read this morning. We're going to read it now. Look at it.
"Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save. Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress? I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come."
That's awesome. God is pictured as striding off the battlefields, after the battle is done. And his garments are spattered in blood. That's the picture here in Isaiah 63, this is the vengeance of the Lord, this is the day of God's wrath. It's approaching inevitably. And the danger here is just incalculable for the human race. We can't even conceive of this.
We wouldn't know it's coming, if the word didn't tell us. Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, rather be afraid of the one who has the power to destroy both soul and body in hell. Yes, I tell you fear him." So the people of God are called on to fervent intercession for the good of all people, in the light of this image, this picture of the coming wrath of God. That's the issue that we're dealing with here in intercession. Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah, most persistently. He gave himself no rest and he gave God no rest, as he interceded and pleaded that God would not sweep away the righteous with the wicked. Moses passionately interceded for Israel at Mount Sinai, at the time of the golden calf. When God said, "Now leave Me alone, and I'm going to wipe them out and I'm going to make of you Moses a great nation." And Moses plead with God in Exodus 32:12, "Turn from your fierce anger, relent and do not bring disaster upon your people." David interceded for Jerusalem, when his own sin, and the sinful senses, brought a terrifying plague on Jerusalem, and the angel of the Lord was between heaven and earth, and the sword was unsheathed, and he was slaughtering, he was literally killing Jews, and he interceded for the plague to stop.
Ezekiel interceded when God gave him a vision of angels that were commanded to go through the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of everyone that grieved and mourned over the wickedness and sins of the city. And they came back after a short time because it didn't take long. And then the angel, the avenging angel was send out to kill everyone that didn't have the mark. And at that point Ezekiel fell down before God. Ezekiel 9:8, "While they were killing and I was left alone, I fell face down crying out, 'Oh sovereign Lord, are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?'" So those are four different examples, when the godly see the wrath of God about to be poured out they fall down before God and intercede, they pray.
More than that, we are to warn slumbering people that are surrounding us here in Durham, of the eminence of their danger. We're supposed to warn them, we know they don't. We know what's coming, and they don't know. John the Baptist did this when he was baptizing and it says when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees, coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath." Produce fruit in keeping with repentance and do not begin to save yourselves, we have Abraham as our father. But I tell you that, out of these stones, God can raise up children for Abraham. The act is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So, a life of fervent intercession and light of the coming wrath of God, should lead inevitably to a life of faithful evangelism of warning people of the wrath that's coming, that they should flee to Christ. Those things are healthy for us as Christians, and that's what I think these chapters are. These chapters are a wake-up call first to the church, first to the church, and then through the church to the surrounding world.
Judgment day is coming. This chapter gives us a clear picture of it, we're going to see it in detail in a moment. It begins first with us to feel the weight of this vision to understand what these words are talking about, to feel it. As we search our hearts and our lives, and repent from sin in our lives, and be certain we're ready for the coming day of God's wrath, to prepare through Christ and then through us, we're called on to pray for the world that doesn't know the wrath that's coming. 1 Peter 4:17 and 18, gives that rhythm of first us then them. First us then them. 1 Peter 4:17 and 18 says, "For it's time for judgment to begin with the house of God. And if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"
II. The Lord’s Terrifying Day of Vengeance on His Enemies (63:1-6)
So these two chapters teach us how to pray in light of God's coming wrath. He will teach us the elements of intercessory prayer as watchmen on the walls and we have to begin by walking carefully through the terrifying image of the wrath of God in Verses 1-6. So walk with me through these verses. I didn't write them, but I stand under them like all of you. I want to know the truth. I want to be ready for what's really coming, I want you to be as well. Doctrine of the wrath of God is hard for sinners to accept. We don't like that picture, picture of God as a universally loving, universally accepting, patient, tolerant of all sin, ready to love, ready to welcome us at any time, that picture can become a partial truth which masquerades as the whole truth, becoming a complete untruth. That's J.I Packer in knowing God.
If you take that partial truth of the acceptance and mercy and grace and love of God and say that's the whole story, that is a complete on truth. I've said before, I'll keep saying it. I think it's vital for us to keep these two seemingly contradictory images of God alive in our minds. First Hebrews 12:29, "Our God is a consuming fire." Secondly, in Luke 15, our God is the father of the prodigal son. We have to keep them together, they we don't do it easily, we think it's one or the other, but we must keep them together. And the church becomes corrupt and hardened. If we emphasize one and not the other, emphasize the other and not one. We have to keep them together.
Father of the Prodigal Son, it says, "while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him, and he ran to his son, and threw his arms around him, and kissed him." So the image of God as a consuming fire, shows Him as infinitely powerful, a God who dwells in unapproachable light, a God who will by no means clear the guilty, who's commitment to righteousness is like the immeasurable heat of the raging sun, He will do whatever is needed to purify this universe of all evil, all things in the universe belonged to Him because He made them and He will not overlook wickedness or sin. That's our God as a consuming fire.
The image of God is the father of the prodigal son shows His grace and His mercy and His tender love and His kindness, His incredible patience to sinners like you and me. Culminating ultimately in the gift of His Son Jesus who died in our place under the consuming fire that we might be delivered. Just the idea of this holy righteous God embracing a son who stinks with pig filth it just never leaves me, thank God for His mercy Thank God. But we can't thereby say because that's the God we love that He isn't also a consuming fire.
Now, this passage Verses 1-6 pictures God as a mighty warrior, striding victoriously from a bloody battle field, it's terrifying, these verses are simply terrifying. They should cause all faith build readers who believe that this is true to tremble, to tremble at His word, for when the great day of God's wrath comes who is able to stand. So, the passage begins in verse 10, with the word who, who is this? "Who is it coming from [the battlefield of] Edom, from Bozrah…" Now Edom are the descendants of Esau, the ultimate picture of the reprobate in the Bible, both Jews and Gentiles, Romans 9 says, Jew and Gentile alike can be Edom, Esau. Esau was the reprobate son that traded his birthright for a bowl of stew, remember? And he then becomes a symbol of all the godless people in this world that live for their immediate appetites, and have no concern for the things of God. Bozrah is the capital city of Edom, that's all. So the image is of the wicked who live for their stomachs. You know how Philippians 3, Paul says, "For as I have often told you before, and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ, their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame, their mind, is on earthly things." That's Edom, that's Esau. We're surrounded by people like that. Every day.
The Year of the Lord’s Favor Ends in Judgement
Now, here we have picture the year of the Lord's favor, or grace coming to an end and now it comes the day of vengeance of our God. You remember how we talked in Isaiah 61, how that predicted the ministry of Jesus, which He began in his home town of Nazareth, the synagogue there, and he rolled to this place, Isaiah 61, "The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He sent me to bind up the broken hearted, and to heal the captives... Set liberty to the captives, heal the broken hearted, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor…" stops there. But Isaiah said, "And the day of vengeance of our God," he didn't read it. And many scholars had commented that basically Jesus' first coming opened the year of God's favor. But now this is picturing the day of vengeance of our God, which is certainly coming. So now is the time of God's favor. I tell you today is the day of salvation, today. Now, is the opportunity, this is the year of God's favor, but it will come to an end. It's coming to an end at some point, and this is picturing it, the day of vengeance of our God.
So who is this? Who is this person coming from Edom, with his garments spattered in blood, he is robed in splendor, he is striding forth in the greatness of His strength? Back in those days when there was a battle, a big battle, it was a vicious hand to hand thing. How did one soldier kill another soldier back then? There weren't weapons of mass destruction, they didn't exist. It was generally by the sword. So, you're spilling the other man's blood and it's spilled down on the ground, and just one after another... So when that enemy is dead the next one comes on you, and if you go on with that for an hour or whatever, the field is a bloodbath. It's just disgusting and it's covered with gore, but even more you look at the soldiers that survive and they are utterly exhausted. There's nothing left, they have nothing left to give, they've come to the edge, the limit of their physical strength.
You remember how Samson killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey, and at the end of it, he cried out that God would open up water because he thought he was about to die of thirst. It was not a minor thing. He really thought he was about to die, just from exhaustion and thirst. But this warrior, he's not like that at all. He's not like that at all. He has just slaughtered all of these people and he's striding off the battlefield every bit as energetically as he entered it, it didn't drain him at all.
Who is this Warier? It is Jesus!
Who is this? Who is this warrior striding forth in undiminished strength, robed in glory, with a robe spattered in blood? Who is this? Well, the answer in verse one comes out bold and strong, "It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save."
Who? Well, the approach I've taken in Isaiah 61 and then again in Isaiah 62, I'm going to carry over here to Isaiah 63. Isaiah 61, "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me," first person, "because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor," it's Jesus. And then I preached the last time we were in Isaiah in December, Isaiah 62 verse 1, "For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet till her righteousness shines forth like the dawn." Who is it that's not going to be quiet until Zion is radiant? I think it's Jesus. Zeal for the bride once so beautiful and radiant. That's how I preached it.
Now we get to 63, who is this coming off the battlefield soaked in blood? "It is I," it's the same person, it's Jesus. And this is confirmed for me, this image is confirmed in Revelation 19, with the second coming of Christ depicted there in the book of Revelation. Don't turn there but just listen, you've heard this before, Revelation 19:11-16, "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse whose rider is called faithful and true. With justice He judges and makes war." Isaiah says, "It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save." Speaking in righteousness, justice. Right? So Revelation, "With justice He judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but He, himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the word of God. The armies of heaven were following him riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean." Listen to this, Revelation 19:15, "Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty." So, treading a winepress is you're in a big vat there's all these grapes and you're just walking on them until they're all squished, and you get all of this slurry of grapes and all that up to however deep, and then you come out of that and you're just soaked in that.
Here in Revelation 19:15, it says, "He treads the winepress with the fury of the wrath of God Almighty, and on His robe and on His thigh, He has this name written, 'King of kings and Lord of lords.'" So note plainly two things about Jesus Christ in Revelation 19, first, He wore a robe, stained in blood, which came from trampling the winepress of the fierce anger of God Almighty. And secondly, He destroys His enemies without mercy by a sword that comes from His mouth, that is from His word. Now, if you look at Isaiah 63, he says, "It is I speaking in righteousness, mighty to save," and notice that He speaks in righteousness. This is essential to the teaching of the day of God's wrath. It is perfectly just, there's no unrighteousness here at all. This is perfectly righteous what God is doing, what Jesus is doing. He's not in any way ashamed of this slaughter. He's not sheepish about it, he's not pulling back from it. He wants us to know about it before it happens. He's not hiding it from us. Note also that this bloody conquest is a form of salvation, "It is I," he says, "Speaking in righteousness, mighty to save." So, "By this slaughter I am working salvation," that's what he's saying, by this righteous slaughter.
I think the only way I can really understand this, is this is Jesus rescuing His bride from all of her enemies. She's going to live in a world where there are no enemies at all. The world, the flesh, and the devil will be gone forever and the only way that's going to happen is by this bloodbath, that's what the Bible is teaching us here. But it is a work of justice and of salvation, that's what it says, "It is I speaking in righteousness, mighty to save."
Why are Jesus’ Garments Soaked in Blood?
Verse two, "Why are your garments red like those of one treading the winepress?" Answer, "I have trodden the winepress alone. From the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath, their blood spattered my garments and I stand all my clothing." Verse four, "For the day of vengeance was in my heart and the year of my redemption has come." So Christ is splattered with the blood of His enemies because the time has come to exact justice. He does this to work the vengeance of God. You know how God says, "Vengeance is mine. I will repay"? This is the repayment.
And He does it to work redemption for His people. He is unashamed of His actions. There's no squeamishness at all about this, there's no embarrassment, no sense of shame. This is the just action of God on sinners whose time has run out, the day of salvation has ended. The year of God's grace has come to an end. It's the day of vengeance of God. So also for eternity, God will in no way be ashamed of the fact that a vast multitude of people that He created are suffering in hell. He's not ashamed of that, He's warning us now, it's going to come, but when it comes, it will be perfectly just. Now, Christ alone can work salvation at the cross. Christ alone can work vengeance at the second coming. He's the only one that can do this.
I was talking to my kids about this as we drove in this morning. It's the same reason why God alone could shut Noah's ark, the door. Only God has the authority to end the opportunity of salvation for the Earth. And so He's the only one that has the right to effect this slaughter. Look at verse 3-6, "I have trodden the winepress alone, from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath, and their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come. I looked, but there was no one to help. I was appalled that no one gave support, so my own arm worked salvation for me and my own wrath sustained me. I trampled the nations in my anger, in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground."
So Jesus treads the winepress alone, no one from the nations could join Him in this action. He looked for anyone righteous enough to join him and the text says He was amazed or appalled, filled with wonder at the fact of the universality of sin, the whole human race, there's no one righteous, not even one. No one can join Him from the nations. Ultimately, Jesus alone could address the issue of God's wrath, and that He does in the bible in two ways. He does it at the cross by dying under the wrath of God for His people on the cross. He's the only one that could do that. He was alone on the cross, the only one that could redeem.
Secondly, He's the only one that can bring about this slaughter at the end of the world, He alone. Jonathan Edwards in his sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, meditates on just how overwhelming this image is. He's meditating there on Revelation 19, but Revelation 19:15 comes from this image, from Isaiah 63. This is what Edward said,
"We read of the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. The words are exceeding terrible. If it had only been said the wrath of God, the words would have implied that which is infinitely dreadful, but it is the fierceness and wrath of God, the fury of God, the fierceness of Jehovah, oh how dreadful must that be. Who can utter or conceive what such expressions carry in them? But it is also the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, as though there would be a very great manifestation of His almighty power, and what the fierceness of his wrath should inflict, as though omnipotence should be as it were enraged, and exerted, as men are want to exert their strength and the fierceness of their wrath. Oh, then what will be the consequence? What will become of the poor worms that shall suffer it? Whose hands can be strong in that day and whose heart can endure? To what a dreadful inexpressible, inconceivable depth of misery must the poor creature be sunk who shall be the subject of this!"
Just words. It's all I can do right now is just words, that's what this text is, it's words, but there's a reality coming behind the words, and by faith alone will we take these words seriously.
Why All This Wrath?
Why is this wrath coming? Verse four, "The day of vengeance was in my heart. God had stored up His wrath against the sinners, not forgetting any of their wicked acts, especially those done to harm His chosen people." The meticulous record keeping of God is behind the justice of this action. It says in Romans 2:5-6, "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you're storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed. God will give to each person according to what he has done."
Well, immediate application right in the middle of this, I just want to plead with you to flee the wrath to come, flee, find refuge in Christ now by faith. You don't see any of this now, not with the eyes, but you hear what these words say, you can get an image in your mind then you'll either believe or you won't. If you believe this is coming then that's a gift of the Holy Spirit to you, to take this seriously. To flee. To not live like Esau, like Edom, not live for your stomach, not live for your passions, your earthly passions, eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die, don't do that. Flee by faith to Christ, come to Christ. He alone can avert the wrath of God. He has done so at the cross for any who call on His name. So this is it, the day of salvation is still here, this is the day. This is the time of God's mercy and grace, this is the window of opportunity we have, come to Christ.
Now, to the Christian, if you know you've already done this, understand the wrath you deserved to experience, you should be humbled by this, it's very humbling. Grow in your estimation of the incredible grace of God and the love of God that He has shown to you, how God has forgiven you so richly. Meditate on the truth of what is coming and let it affect how you're living. Embrace the fact that God will have His day of vengeance. Don't minimize this, but feel the weight of it. Now, let's transition, pray in light of this coming wrath, pray.
III. Persistent Intercession and Lamentation by God’s Watchman (63:7- 64:12)
Now, the first thing the intercessor does here in verses 7-9, is recount God's history of love. Look at verses 7-9, "I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which He is to be praised according to all that the Lord has done for us. Yes, the many good things He has done for the house of Israel, according to His compassion and His many kindnesses. He said surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me, and so He became their savior. In all their distress he too was distressed, and the Angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them, He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old."
Now, right away do you see the movement from verse six to verse seven? I mean this is kind of hard to follow, but there it is. Look at verse six, "I trampled the nations in my anger, in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground." Verse seven, "I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which He is to be praised." Wow, but I'm just saying, you have to see the goodness and mercy of God in light of this averted wrath. That's how we celebrate what God's done for us. We have been saved. If you say, "Saved from what?" Saved from this, saved from hell, saved from justice, what we deserved. So, we deserved as much as anyone else to be trampled as any of these wicked and their destruction was to benefit us, so that they wouldn't trouble us anymore. We don't know much about the persecution the way that our brothers and sisters in Christ do, but it's been a bloody 20 centuries. It's been persecution by the devil and his people against the true people of God for 20 centuries. And in the end, it's going to get much worse when anti-Christ comes and when there's all this organized persecution and beheading and martyrdom and all that.
When all that comes, He's going to come to deliver his bride and rescue her from all of her enemies. So we should just be thankful for that. And so, He begins by telling of the kindnesses, plural, of the Lord, the many acts of kindness. And so as we begin to pray, start with this, in light of God's justice, thank you God for saving me. Thank you for my salvation. Thank you that I can call you Father. And so he goes over all of God's covenant love, Hebrew is hessed covenant love, and His praiseworthy acts on behalf of Israel. And they flowed from God's compassions.
And look at the basis of all of these kind acts, the deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt, when God destroyed Egypt and her gods and destroyed Pharaoh's army at the Red Sea. The basis of it is verse eight. He said, "Surely, they are my people, sons who will not be false to me and so He became their savior." So the foundation here is the adoptive love of God. He has become their adoptive father and they have become his sons and daughters. The adoptive love of God.
Remember how God said to Pharaoh, "Israel is my firstborn son… let my son go," that adoptive love. And for us as Christians, now we understand the fullness of that adoptive love. Ephesians one, it says, "In love he predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with His pleasure and will, to the praise of His glorious grace." We have been adopted into His family, and so that's His commitment to us, as our loving Father, He protects us.
And He suffers with us, look at verse nine, "In all their distress He too was distressed," that's incredible. Do you know how happy God is being God? He's happy all the time. He's not troubled. Psalm 115:3 says, "Our God is in heaven He does whatever pleases Him," He's a happy God because He has within himself the seeds of all of His own, His self-sufficiency, His happiness, His contentment comes from being God, and God is enough for Him. But His sadness, His sorrow, His pain comes from compassion because He links His heart with His suffering people on earth. Isn't that incredible? So God chooses to hurt, He chooses to suffer, like the Jews when they were in bondage in Egypt.
It says in Exodus 2:24, and 25, "God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them." He cared about them. So we should see the outpouring of wrath on the enemies of God as a form of His loving protection for the people of God. And He sends the angel of his presence, look at verse nine, "In all their distress he too was distressed and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them, he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old." Oh, this dear friends is none other than the Angel of the Lord who rescued Israel from bondage to Egypt and led them out, symbolized by a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire, led them through the Red Sea, led them for 40 years, and then into the promised land. This is the angel of the Lord.
The very one that appeared in the flames of the burning bush, to Moses. I believe it's the pre-incarnate Christ, why? Because Exodus 23, this angel was described. Exodus 23:20-22, "Behold I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to him, and do what he says. Do not rebel against him for he will not forgive your rebellion. Listen, since my name is in Him." It's Jesus friends, that's Jesus. This is the angel of his presence, who lifted up the people of Israel and brought them out of bondage through the Red Sea, through the desert wanderings and into the Promised Land.
And Jesus is going to come back in the end and this bloodbath is the final act of His protection and deliverance for His bride, the church. That's how we see it, that's what we understand it. Thank you God for loving me, thank you God for saving me.
The Intercessor Confesses Sin
But, tragically, and in confession we have to go to it, look at verse 10, you have to confess that you have grieved Him. Look at verse 10, "Yet they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit, so he turned and became their enemy, and He Himself fought against them." Israel consistently rebelled against God, from the desert after the Red Sea crossing through the history and through Joshua, judges, and the kings, their rebellion was deeply grievous to God, and the Lord mourned over the sins of His people, just as he suffered because of their afflictions in Egypt. Because of Israel's rebellion God turned and became their enemy, and dealt with them as an enemy almost as pagans.
In verse 10, "They rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit, so He turned and became their enemy, and He Himself fought against them." By the way that one verse, verse 10 is one of the three references in the old testament to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God mentioned many times, but the Holy Spirit mentioned twice, in this one verse, one other time in another place. So this is God's Holy Spirit and He delights in the purity of His people, but He also grieves. He's an emotional being and when we sin, He's grieved by our sins.
So as we're beginning intercession first verses 1-6, we think about the wrath of God, verse 7-9, we give thanks for the deliverance we have received from God through the cross of Jesus Christ, and then verse 10, you confess your sins. You ask for forgiveness for the way that you have grieved the Holy Spirit of God. That's how we intercede, we grieve and mourn and wail and change your laughter to mourning and our joy to gloom. We humble ourselves before the Lord and He lifts us up.
Now, we're not going to suffer God's wrath. But when we sin, God in some other sort of way turns and somewhat acts like our enemy. He isn't our enemy, He loves us, but He will discipline us. And so it says in Hebrews 12, "Do not make light of the Lord's discipline or lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines or smites everyone that he receives as His son." So it could be that because of your sins, He's going to discipline you, because of that grief, but He's never going to cast you off because he has set his adoptive love on you.
So, in this chapter, we have seen the powerful striding of the Lord in wrath after slaughtering His enemies represented by Edom, by Bozrah the capital city. We have seen how this wrath is righteous and holy, and that it is a terrifying slaughter. We have seen how no one but Christ could address God's wrath at the cross, no one but Christ will have the right to pour out God's final wrath at his second coming, he trod the winepress alone. We also have acted out for us, the attitudes and words of a watchman on the walls. And we've begun that intercession by recounting the goodness of God to us, thanking God for our salvation, for His love for us in Christ. And we've begun to see how we can give ourselves no rest and give Him no rest, until He establishes Jerusalem as the praise of the earth. Now, next week, we're going to finish the lessons of these two chapters step-by-step.
Just a couple of words of application and we'll be done. I think I've already said it, but I say it again, just immerse yourself in these verses, and stand in awe of the coming wrath of God. Don't shrink back. This is the truth, I would be tickling your ears if I didn't preach this, if I skipped Isaiah 63, or got to the happy things and didn't tell you the truth. You know this is true, if you're a Christian, you know this is true. So tremble at it, God esteems, He'll say later in Isaiah those who tremble at his word. Tremble at this, this is serious.
And don't shrink back from it yourself. Don't be ashamed of it as though it's something ugly or shameful, this is true, warn people about it, plead with sinners to repent in light of these things. Plead with them while there's still time. At the end of his Pentecost sermon, Peter, it says in Acts 2:40, "With many other words he warned them and pleaded with them, 'save yourselves from this corrupt generation." We should plead with people. Or Isaiah 55:6 and 7, I love this, say to people this, "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake His way and the evil man His thoughts. Let Him turn to the Lord and He will have mercy on Him, and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon Him." Plead with people in light of that. And then, begin, maybe even this afternoon interceding. Give yourself no rest, give Him no rest, intercede in light of these things. Intercede for people you know that are lost in light of the things that we've learned here. Take up this challenge. You say, "Lord, I don't know what to pray for." Next week, we're going to go line by line and see what we can pay for, but begin even this afternoon and say, "I want to spend some time interceding for God to establish the new Jerusalem for His glory." Close with me in prayer.