The Book of Isaiah
James J. Barker


Lesson 26
GOD’S STRANGE WORK

Text: ISAIAH 28:14-21


INTRODUCTION:


1.     Isaiah 28 deals with the invasion of Ephraim (Northern Kingdom of Israel) by Assyria, their neighbor to the northeast.  God allowed these wicked Assyrians to vex Ephraim because Ephraim had become an ungodly nation of drunkards (28:1-3, 7, 8).

2.     When one studies the book of Isaiah (and this is true with most of the other OT prophets as well), one should understand that we see here a combination of past and future events – we find both the near and far, past and future.

3.     Ephraim was soon to go into Assyrian captivity, but Isaiah looks beyond all of that to a future day when the nation of Israel will make “a covenant with death” (28:15), i.e. they will enter into a covenant with the antichrist. This is still future, yet it could be very near.  Certainly the stage is being set right now.

4.     So Isaiah 28 should be understood prophetically as well as historically. 

5.     One of the great themes of the prophet Isaiah is the judgment of God – judgment upon Israel, and judgment upon her oppressors.

6.     Here in Isaiah 28 we find an interesting phrase – “his strange work” (Isa. 28:21).   Judgment is God’s “strange work.”

7.     John 3:17 says, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

8.     Our Lord said in John 12:47, “for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.”

9.     Judgment is God’s strange work.  God would rather show mercy than punish.  He would rather save than condemn.

 

I. ISRAEL WILL MAKE A COVENANT WITH DEATH (28:15).

1.     This “overflowing scourge” (28:15, 18) refers to Assyria (cf. 28:2, 3).  However, the prophet Isaiah looked way beyond the near future to the coming tribulation when Israel will make a covenant with the antichrist.

2.     Daniel 9:27 says the antichrist “shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease…”

3.     Daniel calls him “the prince that shall come” and “the little horn” and “the king that shall do according to his will.”

4.     The apostle Paul refers to him as “that man of sin” and “the son of perdition.”

5.     In the book of Revelation, John calls him the “beast.”

6.     Because of all the terrorism from the Muslims, Israel will soon turn to the antichrist for help. Jesus warned them that they would.  He said to the Jews in John 5:43, “I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.”

 

II. CHRIST IS OUR SURE FOUNDATION (28:16).

1.     In contrast to trusting a deceiver like the antichrist, the Lord Jesus Christ is our only sure foundation (28:16).

2.     People are easily deceived.  I believe the masses are being prepared today for the coming antichrist.  There is only way to avoid being ensnared by the devil and that is by putting your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ (28:16).

3.     Some people say their church is built upon Peter but Peter himself said that Christ is the chief corner stone, and a rock of offense (cf. I Peter 2:6-8).

4.     The apostle Paul says in I Cor. 10:4, “And that Rock was Christ.”

5.     But sinners reject the Lord Jesus Christ.  How sad – after what He has done for them!  

6.     Scornful sinners reject the Gospel of Christ and they make lies their “refuge” (28:14, 15).

7.     What kind of lies and falsehoods are sinners hiding behind?        (A) Evolution – the lie that the world and all existing things came into being through a process of gradual change and progression. People hold on to evolution because they do not want to accept the Bible.    Cf. Revelation 4:10, 11.

(B) Humanism – sometimes referred to as “secular humanism.”  Humanism has been around for a long time. The ancient Greek philosopher, Protagoras, said, “Man is the measure of all things.” Humanists believe that man (and not God) is the ultimate standard by which all life is measured and judged.  This humanistic philosophy permeates our public schools and universities, the media, entertainment, etc.  Humanism has produced abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality and all sorts of horrible sins.

(C) Liberalism – Political liberalism is basically political humanism, and religious liberalism is basically religious humanism. The two are intertwined.  Liberals generally support abortion and homosexuality and all sorts of wickedness.   Way back in 1923, J. Gresham Machen wrote a book called Christianity and Liberalism.  In that book he demonstrated that liberalism is no more Christian than Hinduism or Buddhism.

8.     For over two thousand years, all expositors – even Jewish and RC expositors – agreed that Isaiah 28:16 referred to the Messiah.  But modern liberal expositors insist this prophecy has nothing to do with Christ.

9.     But Psalm 118:22 says, “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.”

10. In Matthew 21:42, our Lord quoted this Scripture when He said, “Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?”

11. In Acts 4:11, Peter says, “This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.”

12. Our Lord and Peter were quoting Psalm 118 in reference to Christ.  But in Romans 9:33, the apostle Paul is quoting Isaiah 28:16 when he says, “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

13. And in Ephesians 2:20, Paul wrote, “Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”

14. And in I Peter 2:6, Peter wrote, “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.”

15. You better make sure you are on the right “foundation” (Isa. 28:16).  The hymnwriter put it this way, On Christ the solid rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

16. Another great hymnwriter wrote these famous words: “Rock of Ages, cleft for me; let me hide myself in Thee!”

17. Beloved, Jesus is the Rock of Ages.  This sure foundation, this tried stone, this precious corner stone is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ (Isa. 28:16).  Unsaved friend: why don’t you come to Jesus?

 

III. JUDGMENT IS GOD’S STRANGE WORK (28:17-29).

1.     While holding out grace to those who put their trust in Christ the solid rock, God also judges those who reject the Gospel (Isa. 28:17).

2.     When someone starts out to build a foundation, they need to use a “plummet,” i.e., a plumb line (28:17).

3.     Beloved, God has a plumb line and it is always accurate (28:17).  Sinful men cannot see it but we can be sure that God will do exactly what He says He will do (28:17-21).

4.     I used to work in construction work and I can remember foremen who would tell carpenters, “Get rid of that old level and use a plumb line!”  God is telling us the same thing today.

5.     Right now, the Lord Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father, but soon “the LORD shall rise up” in judgment (28:21).  “He shall be wroth” (28:21). 

6.     In the past, God used Israel’s enemies to chastise Israel.  This was God’s “strange work” (28:21).   He could do the same thing to America today.

7.     The Bible teaches there will be many mockers and scoffers in the last days.  The prophet Isaiah warns, “Now therefore be ye not mockers…” (28:22; cf. II Peter 3:3-9; Jude 19).

8.     This is a worldwide judgment.  Isaiah 28:22 says it is “determined upon the whole earth.”

9.     Oftentimes in the Bible, judgment is spoken of as the harvest (28:22-29).

10. Hard sinners are very much like hard grain, and their judgment will be very severe.  The threshing will be hard to bear. 

11. Our Lord said in Matthew 13:40, “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.”  Let me ask you?  Are you with the wheat or the tares? 

12. God’s judgments are always reasonable and just because the LORD “is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working” (28:29).

13. God is holy and just and righteous.  He must judge sin, and the worst sin of all is the sin of unbelief.  “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18)

14. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). 

 

CONCLUSION:

1.     The hail of God’s judgment shall sweep away the refuge of lies (Isa. 28:17b).  I have seen hail coming down from heaven bigger than golf balls.

2.     Remember, Isaiah looks beyond his day and looks way down the corridors of time to the last days (cf. Revelation 16:21). A “weight of a talent” is almost 100 pounds!

3.     Can you imagine a storm like that (cf. Rev. 8:7; 11:19)?  And yet sinners will still refuse to repent!  In fact they will blaspheme God (Rev. 16:21).

4.     Sinner friend, God’s strange work is His judgment.  Now is the time to repent.



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