As a child I recall my mother saying, many times, "Steve, I'm not going to tell you wrong!" She didn't mean that she already had all things figured out, but she had been around the block enough times to have a much better grasp on things than I did ...whether I wanted to believe that or not. Growing up, I thought I had things figured out. Some of my friends and I were card-carrying members of the Craighead County Philosopher's Club! In all our "experience" as young men, we concluded, on a daily basis, that we could really make sense out of life. As I grew older, however, there was a bit of a paradox in my thinking. I realized that the more I learned ...the "less" I knew. Put that in your philosophy-box. You see, in just a few short years I went from the "path of enlightenment" right back to the "dirt road of discovery". As a result, as I continue to get older, it seems that I have less and less tolerance for vague idealism and self-appointed opportunism. STRAIGHT-TALK is a valuable commodity! In a world full of spin-doctor-ing and pointless-promise-making straight-talk is more than valuable. It is rare and priceless!
Chapters 40-66 have often been called the New Testament section of the book. While the first half of Isaiah focusses on God's "judgment" on His people, the later half speaks of "redemption" ...and not vaguely! Isaiah 53 is considered the greatest OT prediction of Christ' death on the cross. This last half begins with prophecy of the ministry of John the Baptist. It was written to encourage the Jewish remnant that would be delievered from Babylonian captivity after 70 years. While the Pagan deities supposedly spoke from within caves, and with murmuring utterances, Jehovah God spoke from places like Mt. Sinai! Isaiah wrote this prophecy over 150 years before they (Jews) would need this encouragement. God means what He says, and says what He means!
I have not spoken in secret,
In a dark place of the earth;
I did not say to the seed of Jacob,
‘ Seek Me in vain’;
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
I declare things that are right.
So, right here in this singular verse God, through the prophet Isaiah, reassures His chosen people that He is a God who says what He means, and means what He says! Just as God made this promise to the chosen people of Israel, He has made a promise to you and I ...and He means it!
Today, I want to show you at least four means, from Isaiah 45:19, by which God reminds His chosen that He is not only speaking to show His Righteous Justice, but to also display His Redemptive Justification!
1. He Is ,By No Means, Hidden
"I have not spoken in secret", says the Lord. God didn't spin the universe into existance, create all the beautiful things, which we've only scratched the surface of, and then plop us down in the middle of it all ...only hold out on us! Let me ask you something. When you tell someone a "secret" ....how many people do you want to know? Just that one person, right? Parents, if a child is misbehaving do you call your spouse off into another room and proceed to tell he / she that this behavior needs to stop, and that there will be consequences for the actions? No, of course not! You tell the misbehaving child that what he is doing is wrong, and that his behavior must change, and how it must change! When we are un-pleasing to the Lord, do you sense His righteous conviction? His redemptive mercy? He speaks, and he wants you and I to "hear"! 1 Cor. 2:12, the apostle Paul said, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God." Friend, God is, by no means, "hidden"! It is not His will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance! That's why He sent His only begotten Son, to die on a tree; that you and I might know of His redemptive justification!
2. He Is ,By No Means, Vague
"In a dark place on the earth" ;He has not spoken in secret, nor in a dark place! You've walked through your house with all the lights out before. When I was a teenager, just old enough to go "up town", as we used to call it, I was sneaking in late one night. Not terribly late, but late enough that I knew if I played it cool, kept quiet, and got stright to my room ...all things would be well. Well, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." My brother, who is 6 years my senior, was sneaking "out" of the house at the same time. Now, he was old enough that he didn't have to sneak. He was just being quiet and didn't turn on every light in the house on his way out! Nor, was he even considering the fact that I might be sneaking "in". As you have already figured out .....we met in the hallway. While I was quiet as a mouse, going toward my bedroom, he jingled his keys while exiting his bedroom. I must've had flashbacks to Dickens Christmas Carol, or something, but that jingling sound scared the soup outta' me! I let out some gutteral yell / moan ...and my brother responded in kind. He then proceeded to mumble words, under his breath, which I"m sure weren't in the bible, and went on his way.
In my current house, there is a library just off the garage; farthest from our bedroom, at the opposite end of the house! Someone always leaves a light on in there, so it is a nightly ritual that I wander to the library to turn off the light. You'd think I'd have learned, by now, to leave some sort of illumination to find my way back! But night after night, I feel my way back up the path ....navigating through the smal foryer between the library and living room, hanging a right, anxious of the corner of a credenza which I've had confrontations with before, feeling my way around the sofa, in great anticipation of the long, but straight, stretch of road down the hallway, to safely arrive at our bedroom! A safe trip always assumes the absense of a skateboard or a hot-wheels car, upon which disaster would ensue! All that ...because I never turn on a light on my way to the library in the first place! God is not vague! He doesn't speak in dark places! We simply forget to turn the light on so that we can see where we're going ....which should be where God is going! The Psalmist said "thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Ps. 119:105 NKJV) My God doesn't hang out in "dark places"! He is the light of the world! Whoever follows Him shall not abide in darkness, but have the light of life. (John 8:12 NKJV)
3. He Is, By No Means, Misleading
"I did not say to the seed of Jacob, 'Seek me in vain';" Why use Isreal, here, as "the seed of Jacob"? Isaiah frequently used this terminology for Israel. But it causes one to ponder ....why would God do what He did, through men such as Jacob, only to have no ultimate purpose or point? Well, the answer is ..He did have a purpose and a point! Jacob's life and surrender to the Lord was not in vain. It could have been! Jacob, remember, was "the deceiver". He deceived his brother (Esau), his father, for a birthright. Later on Jacob, himself, was cruely deceived, by Laban. But he knew that God had a purpose and a plan for his life! He wasn't crazy about the means of getting there, only because those ways didn't satisfy Jacob's fleshly desire! But God had a plan back in Jacob's day. That plan was to increase Jacob's seed, to establish Israel. God's plan, here, is to prepare Israel for freedom from their present bondage! God did not set things in motion only to fulfill half of His promise, or even only 99% of His promise. A touchdown is only a touchdown when you've crossed into the end-zone. That means "almost" isn't good enough. Arrival at the 1 yard line only means there is, potentially, another play to enact! God's promise for Jacob's seed was not in vain. His promise for you and I is not in vain. He told Jeremiah "...I know the plans I have for you", declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jer. 29:11 NIV) The Lord has a plan for you. He is not vague or misleading. God also told Jeremiah that he would seek Him, and would find HIm, when he sought Him with all his heart! Are you seeking Him? I don't mean a casual, or passive, "God, here I am and I shall not be moved 'til You move me" type of "seeking". I mean, are you ACTIVELY SEEKING HIM? Are you searching for the Lord where He will be found?
4. He Is, By All Means, Righteous!
"I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right." Another thing my mom used to tell me is "mean what you say, and say what you mean!" There is only One who can claim perfect ownership of such a priceless commodity. It is the LORD God Himself!! He said "our righteousness is as filthy rags!" "There is none righteous, not even one!" But that is "our" problem, our "sin problem"! It is not God's nature to declare things that are not right! He is all that is good! And through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, we have been made "righteous" as well! We didn't earn it, and we don't deserve it! This is just an example of His Redemptive Justification! "God made Him, who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor. 5:21 NIV) Friend, God doesn't break His promises. He doesn't speak loosely, or flippantly. He doesn't even have "good intentions" but fails to follow through. NO! He is the God of Abraham, the God of Jacob, the Father who led His Son, like a lamb to the slaughter, so that you and I might be made "righteous"!