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27/07/2009 / Test All Things

A Study Of Isaiah 55:10-11

Isaiah 55:6
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

Isaiah 55:7
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Isaiah 55:8
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

Isaiah 55:9
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:10
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

Isaiah 55:11
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Isaiah 55:12
For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:13
Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

God’s call to seek Him is very urgent, because we are never sure when He may not be found any more. This opportunity to find Him ends when our body dies, or when our church goes apostate, or when the end of the Final Tribulation Period will be upon us. This is an urgent call that goes out into all the world, and in verse 7 this call is accompanied by the call to repent of our sins. There is no salvation without repentance.

However, we want to keep in mind that repentance is also a gift from God. Therefore no one can repent and turn to Christ out of their own free will. No one can do that, because it is absolutely contrary to human nature. All those who have come to realize that they are sinners, and fear God because they know that they are in trouble with God, will God save from their slippery slide into Hell. All those who abhor their sins, and confess their sins to God, will find mercy with God because our God delights in mercy. We thank God that we have a merciful God, for He will abundantly pardon.

Who are all those who come to realize that they are sinners?

They are all those who have been drawn by the Father to the Lord Jesus Christ, for no one will come to Christ except the Father draw them.

We read in John 6:44, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him”. This is God’s way of planting His beautiful garden. And look what a variety. Every one of His plants is different. And when we read about God’s great forgiveness in verse 7 we realize that the cross is in view. God’s pardon for our sins is only possible through Christ crucified. That was the only day in the history of mankind that sins were put away. This was the day when we could most clearly see that

God’s Ways Are Not Our Ways (Isaiah 55:8-9, John 4:24, Acts 2:23)

And then God continues to emphasize how different God is from us, creatures. We read in verse 8,

Isaiah 55:8
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

Isaiah 55:9
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

And not only are God’s ways different from our ways, but God Himself is totally different from us. God said that He has made man in His likeness. Many people conclude from this that God must be like us, yea high, with a head, and arms, and legs.

And since He is a compassionate God, does He not feel our infirmities like we do?

They have brought God down to our level. They have made a caricature of God. They have made themselves an idol. When God said in several places in the Bible that He has made man in His image, it means that God has given man certain of His communicable attributes, like wisdom. Man has received some wisdom from God. Hopefully we grow wiser as we age, but that does not always apply to everyone. We can think and we can continue to learn and to teach. We can speak and reason with each other, and with our own selves. And we can learn to speak, and read, and write in other languages. Man has received some feelings from God. And by that I mean the ability to love, and to hate, and to have compassion, and to have mercy, and to laugh, and to cry. Man has received from God the ability to comprehend abstract knowledge, such as linear algebra, and trigonometry, and calculus, and invent new tools such as radios and computers, and to meditate on things such as creation, and intelligence, and poetry, and music. And God has given man also an abstract knowledge of spiritual things pertaining to God, such as worship, and prayer, and faith, and hope for the future, and love for God, and sin, and retribution for sin, and righteousness, and grace, and Heaven, and Hell, and a host of other things. All these things are reflecting what God said, that He has made man in His image. But God is not yea high. The Lord Jesus Christ is God, but He is not yea high. Jesus is not your buddy. Get that idea as far from you as possible. Christ never ceased to be God. And therefore when He came to this earth as the carpenter of Nazareth, he was seated in heaven at the same time, and He ruled this universe at the same time. The Lord Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, in John 4:24, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth”.

This is the principle we always must have in mind: God is Spirit!

God made this universe, which is so large it has almost become incomprehensible, which means beyond our ability to understand. If God created this universe then God is greater than this universe. That is how different eternal God is from mortal man. God gave man some wisdom, but the wisdom of God is infinitely greater than our wisdom. God is infinitely wise. It means that God does not improve His wisdom over time. God does not continue to learn and become wiser. It also means that God will not be surprised by things that are happening in history. God is omniscient, which means that God knows everything that has occurred and everything that will still come to pass. Also, God does not have to wait for mortal man to make a decision to turn to Jesus, for that would make God dependant on man’s decisions, and that would make God less than omnipotent. Therefore from before the beginning of time God chose whom He will save, and in the course of history God actually saves those He wanted to save, by His irresistible grace. God does not have to wait for mortal man to see who will become saved, but God laid on Christ the guilt of all the sins of all those whom God elected unto salvation; not one sin more, and not one sin less. Therefore those who hold to the premise that Christ paid for the sins of every human being on this earth are making God less omniscient than He really is. God saves whom He wants to save, and God saves to the uttermost. Those whom God has saved will never again fall into the hands of Satan. God has sworn that with an oath. God has given man some feelings like the ability to love, but God’s love for His elect creatures is so infinitely greater than we can imagine that God gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die for them the equivalent of them spending an eternity in Hell. We just cannot comprehend such a great love of God for His creatures. That is why God could say in Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts”.

This verse starts with “For”, or “because”, and thus it refers back to verse 8. But verse 8 also starts with “For”, and thus this verse refers to verse 7. And here is the reason why God says that His ways are higher than our ways. God ended verse 7 with the words, “for He will abundantly pardon”, which translated literally says, “for He will multiply forgiveness”.

This says that God will multiply His forgiveness for our sins to such an incredible height that we simply cease to understand how great His forgiveness is. We cannot understand that God gave His only begotten Son as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of those who murdered His Son. It becomes even more incomprehensible when we understand that all this did not catch God by surprise, but that decided all this from before the foundation of the world, and that God arranged all the events so that Christ was “delivered and crucified by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God”, according to Acts 2:23. In other words, God’s hands, or God’s providence, made these things come to pass because God, in His counsel between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit before the foundation of the world, decided to have it so. This is what we see developing here in the following verses in Isaiah chapter 55.

It is:

The Providence of God (Isaiah 46:1, Isaiah 46:9-11, Ezekiel 39:17-20, Isaiah 55:10-11, John 1:13)

In Isaiah chapter 46 God reached into the future and God assured His children, and US, that He has carried us in the past and He will carry us in the future. In Isaiah 45 God spoke of Cyrus. In Isaiah 46 God tells us what will happen when Cyrus defeats Babylon.

Isaiah 46:1
Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast.

Bel and Nebo were the chief idols of the Babylonians. Since Bel and Nebo were made of gold and silver the Medes and the Persians carried them away in carriages. They were a burden to the weary beasts pulling the carriages. And while the carriages hobbled over the uneven roads Bell and Nebo wobbled, as if Bel was bowing down and Nebo was stooping to worship Jehovah, who caused them to be dethroned. And then God uses the backdrop of the overthrow of Babylon to describe Himself.

Isaiah 46:9
Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

Isaiah 46:10
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Isaiah 46:11
Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

What is God saying here about Himself?

Paraphrased God says, “Remember, I am God, and there is none like Me”. I am unlike any other concept of god that came out of man’s imagination. Remember how I am described in the Bible. This is how I want to be remembered and this is how I want to be worshipped. I am the one who declares the end from the beginning. Not because I am omniscient, not because I know the future, but because I will do it for My good pleasure. “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure”. I shall call a ravenous bird from the east, referring to Cyrus, My servant, who shall overthrow the kingdom of Babylon and shall proclaim to the slaves who are Jews that the House of Jehovah in Jerusalem must be rebuilt.

Was Cyrus a saved man?

No! That is why God calls him a ravenous bird, like the ravenous birds of Ezekiel 39:17-20.

Was Cyrus then a pawn of Satan?

Absolutely not!

God says in verse 11, “I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it”.

Is anything left to just the foreknowledge of God?

Absolutely not!

God says, “I have purposed it, I will also do it”. And so we see that the God whom we worship has the reigns of this world firmly in His hand. He has a purpose for everything that occurs in the history of mankind, and He will bring it to pass. God had a purpose for the attack on America by the terrorists of September 11, in the year 2001, when they destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. O yes, Satan might have a hand in it too, but Satan cannot do anything without God’s direction and God’s approval.
Our God reigns and our God reigns absolutely over everyone and over everything. This then is the principle that God develops in Isaiah 55:10. Let us read this beautiful passage.

Isaiah 55:10
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

Isaiah 55:11
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Verse 10 begins with “For”, indicating that My ways are much higher than your ways in this manner: First God paints a wonderful metaphor, which portrays the providence of God: Water like rain and snow is coming down from heaven, fully under God’s control. Then before the water evaporates and returns to the hands of God, it waters the earth and causes it to sprout forth all kinds of plants, and it brings forth seed for the sower and bread for the eater. We can’t help but think of the spiritual implications of water, and seed, and the sower, and bread, and the eater. In other passages of the Bible water represents the Gospel that flows like water from those whom God has saved and sent out to preach the Gospel. Such an evangelist is compared to a sower who sows seed into a field, according to Matthew 13. The seed represents the Word of the Kingdom, or the Gospel, and it provides bread for the eater. When someone hears the preaching of the Gospel and becomes saved, he or she becomes an eater of the Word of God. The Bible is the Word of God, and it provides the Bread of Life for those who partake of it. And then the water returns into the hands of God.

Is this not a marvelous introduction to the next verse?

There in verse 11 God actually speaks about the evangelist and his message. God says, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth”. God spoke His Word, it is written in the Bible, and God says that the evangelist who speaks these messages from God is actually the mouth of God at that moment. And about these messages God says, “it shall not return unto me void”, which means, like the water in the previous verse, it shall not return to God empty, “but it shall accomplish that which I please”.

Is God pleased if everyone who hears these messages will be saved?

Absolutely not!

That is not God’s plan at all. A man is not saved because he lends a listening ear to the evangelist. That would be a works gospel. A man is not saved because the evangelist desires that he will be saved. That again is a works gospel. Remember that God said in John 1:13, “Not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man”. And yet, in most churches this is how verse 11 has been explained to me: “Just preach the true Gospel to them and leave it alone, and in time God will draw them and save them, because God has promised it here in Isaiah 55:11”. But that is not at all the promise of God. What God has promised here is, “it shall accomplish that which I please”.

It pleases God to save His elect, for to this end He created the world and all that is therein, and to his end the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross. God intends to save the remnant, chosen by grace. Out of all the nations of the world God chose only a remnant. And God’s providence, the hands of God, is at work to save this remnant, and only this remnant. Not one will be added, and not one will be forgotten. God does not change His mind later in history, because He is God. Not only does He know the end from the beginning, but He says, “I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it”.

Those whom God wants to save under the hearing of the Gospel call, He will save. And those whom God does not want to save under the same Gospel call, will be hardened in their soul. That too is the purpose of God. When we preach the Gospel we should not feel bad when someone does not want to believe what God has said so plainly in the Bible. We must simply accept that God did not intend to save this one, and leave it at that. To us God has a far greater promise. God says at the end of verse 11, “and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it”.

In other words, your task is done; you are 100% successful.

How would you like a job like that?

How would you like a Boss like that?

He sends you out with the task of preaching His Gospel, don’t leave out Hell, or any other essentials, and whatever you do in the execution of your task, your Boss says, “Well done good and faithful servant; you have done exactly what I wanted to accomplish”.

Now this is the providence of God, for you and for those who hear. Some of those who hear will be infinitely better for it, and others who hear will be worse off than before they heard the Gospel. The Gospel will go out into all the world, both to the elect as well as to the reprobate. For the elect it will be a great blessing. It will be the grace of God that is showered upon them.

But what about the reprobate?

Can we also say that the grace of God is showered upon them when they hear the proclamation of the Gospel?

Can we say that they share in the common grace of hearing the Gospel?

Is there such a thing as common grace?

Let us see what shape the grace of God takes when we take it into the entire world, both to the elect and to the reprobate.

The Grace of God (Matthew 5:48, 2 Peter 2:21, Matthew 11:23-24, Matthew 5:44-45, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:28, Luke 12:16-20, Psalm 92:7, 2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

God’s grace stands for God’s “unmerited favor”. The word “common” means “it is shared by all”.
And thus the common grace of God means the unmerited favor that God bestows upon all without exception. When we study the word “grace” in the Bible we find that there is no such monstrosity as “common grace”.

According to the Bible, grace is only in Christ Jesus. There is no grace that is shown outside the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is infinitely holy, and righteous, and just, and thus He does not show favor or love to anyone who has anything less than perfect righteousness.
The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”.

Since God demands perfect righteousness, the only way we can be righteous in the sight of God is when the Lord Jesus Christ covers all our sins and gives us His righteousness. That is exactly what He did in His atonement for our sins, which includes His cross and His resurrection together, as one act of God. Therefore for all those who show less than perfect righteousness God has only wrath.

Why then do people hold to the heresy of common grace?

It is a heresy indeed.

They are unaware that they are agents of Satan busy destroying the Gospel.

The true Gospel is the Gospel of grace, the one and only grace of God which is given to us through the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so we have to ask ourselves:

When the reprobate are under the hearing of the Gospel, is God doing what is better for them or what is worse for them?

Is God blessing them or is God cursing them?

Let us hear what God says in 2 Peter 2:21, “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them”

For example, in the days when Jesus walked on earth the people at Capernaum were greatly blessed by being the city where Jesus had His headquarters.

But what does God say about the people at Capernaum?

He says in Matthew 11:23-24, “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee”.

Was God doing what was better or what was worse for Capernaum?

Was God blessing them or was God cursing them?

Why do people hold on to the notion of common grace?

Primarily they show as their proof text Matthew 5:44-45, which reads as follows, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, …… That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust”.

But if it is true that the sun and the rain are evidences of God’s love and God’s favor upon the evil as well as on the good, what then are droughts and hurricanes and tornados and earthquakes and floods evidence of?

Well, to be consistent they have to say that natural disasters are evidence of God’s hatred, God’s curse upon the evil and upon the good. According to this scheme, when God brings good things on the wicked He shows He loves them, and when God brings calamity on the wicked He shows He hates them. And when God brings good things on the righteous, He shows He loves them, and when God brings calamity on the righteous, He shows He hates the righteous.

But this is utter nonsense!

The moods of God are not like a yoyo, up and down, up and down. That is not the God whom we serve. God’s people know that God works out everything for the good of His people, out of love and grace for His people, and God works everything out for the curse of those He never intended to save, out of hatred and wrath for them.

What then does Matthew 5:44-45 mean?

The Lord Jesus commands His people to love their enemies as God loves His enemies. By nature WE were the enemies of God. We read in Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.

God loved us when we were His enemies. And so, we are to love our enemies as God loved His enemies for whom Christ died.

Today in the Sunday School the children discussed the question if bad things happen to us when we have done something wrong, or if good things happen to us when we have done something right. This again is related to the common grace heresy that is floating everywhere through the churches. God is not a yoyo. Let us hear again Romans 8:28, and please pump this verse into your memory. God says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”.

Who then are “the called according to his purpose”?

The elect. If you are one of His elect, then all things work together for your good, and that includes the so called “good” and the so called “bad” things that happen to you. If you are one of the wicked, then all things work together for your judgment, and that includes the so called “good” and the so called “bad” things that happen to you.

Why does God give good things to the reprobate?

Is it out of love and grace toward them?

Absolutely not!

It is to harden them for destruction. In Luke 12:16-20 the Lord Jesus tells us the parable of the rich man whose land brought forth much fruit, and he was able to rest and have fun.

Was this common grace?

His physical needs were met and he had even more than he needed.

Did God show grace for this man?

“But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee”.

Why does God give good things to the reprobate?

Psalm 92:7 gives us the plain teaching of the Bible. God says in Psalm 92:7, “When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever”.

That is the purpose of the wicked’s flourishing and blossoming, so they will be hardened in their sin and in their unthankfulness toward God. Here is the plain teaching of the Bible. Good things for the reprobate are to harden them for destruction. There is no common grace for the wicked here.

Likewise God does not show common grace by proclaiming the Gospel into all the world, both to the elect and to the reprobate. The truth is that the preaching of the Gospel to the reprobate is meant to harden them for destruction. God says in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish; To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life”.

Let us now return to Isaiah 55:12 where we are faced with the bringing of the Gospel into all the world. And then God holds this promise in front of us:

Ye Shall Go Out With Joy (Isaiah 55:12, Psalm 1:3)

Isaiah 55:12
For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

What is the joy with which we shall go out to bring the Gospel?

It is the joy of knowing that we are saved, and that we are doing a work that is pleasing in the eyes of the Lord. It is the joy of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, and knowing that we are certain of our salvation, because we know Him from the Bible, the personally spoken Word of God. We are sure that we are not being led by the nose by some fake gospel, because we have every spoken Word from God at our disposal, and we can check out everything we hear from the pulpit. Therefore we are “led forth with peace”.

What is that peace?

It is the peace with God that we have, because God has wrought a work of faith within our hearts.

Can there be anything more glorious than to know that we are on our way to heaven?

Before we were saved this earth was a dark place. This earth was a place were big dogs eat little dogs. It was a place were there was no God and it was a place for the survival of the fittest. It was a jungle here, and we could be killed by anything bigger and more powerful than we were. The boss at work was mean. The drive to work was mean and the drive home was even more terrible and exhausting. We came home into an atmosphere that was tense, and there was a stack of mail most of which was generated by people who made mistakes at our expense. And so on. It was one calamity after another. But after I became saved my outlook on life also changed. The drive to and from work was not so bad. Given the right radio station, I was singing hymns all the way. A mean boss at work did not make me nervous, because I was working for my Father who is in heaven. As long as I got His approval, it really did not matter what my earthly supervisor thought about it. He thought to get me by lowering the annual raise in salary. That is OK. He will be held accountable by God; I would not want to be in his shoes. As long as I am in Christ and Christ is in me, all earthly problems fade by comparison. And so on. God expressed this changed outlook on life in Isaiah 55:12 by saying, “the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing”. That really is the meaning of verse 12.

How wonderful!

And then God says at the end of verse 12, “and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands”.

What is this?

Trees do not have hands. People have hands. God uses the metaphor of trees to indicate people who are elect of God. For example, in Psalm 1:3 God also speaks of His elect as trees. God says in Psalm 1:3, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper”.

And then God speaks in verse 13 of:

An Everlasting Sign (Isaiah 55:13)

Isaiah 55:13
Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

What do the thorns and briers represent?

They represent people who remain unsaved. But in their place God causes the fir tree and the myrtle tree to come up. These are not the plantings of the evangelist, but these are the plantings of the Lord. He caused these trees to come up and He causes these trees to sow their seeds so that more trees will come up; just like He causes people to become saved and they in turn sow their seeds of the Gospel into the world and cause other people to hear the Gospel, and God saves them.

Why then shall they be to Jehovah “for a name”, and “for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off”?

Who is God speaking about?

He speaks about these trees who are representing elect people.

What is the status of the elect?

They are the Bride of Christ, both in this life and in the New Heaven & New Earth.

What is their name?

The Bride of Christ.

What is “the everlasting sign that shall not be cut off”?

Christ shall never divorce His Bride. This is truly a marriage made in heaven. What a glorious hope we have, and what a glorious future we can look forward to.

What will we be doing and will we ever be bored by listening to long sermons?

Absolutely not!

Is God ever bored?

We will be like God, because we will be the adopted sons of God.

AMEN.

By Alfred J. Chompff

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