Beth Moore - Lift Up Your Eyes, Part 1
Wonderful people of the west, I have to tell you something, if you sense the power of God in the building, you need to know in case you came from a distant enough place that you did not realize that early afternoon, this whole entire area lost all power. I mean, we came for a soundcheck, and there was not one light in the building, except that which comes on when there's an emergency. And let me tell you, you talk about people praying this afternoon for this to take place.
There was talk of having to cancel tonight and just meeting tomorrow. We were just going, you know, every now and then when you just have to say, no. I mean, you know, just every now and then you're just going, in Jesus's name, no. Somebody say it tonight. It's like, in Jesus's name, no. Every now and then, we're just like no. This will not do. If we are gonna be fierce in the day in which we have been called on planet Earth, it's gonna take some kind of strength that only God could give us, some kind of determination that we will not be quickly discouraged and called down. Anybody stepping in that with me tonight? I gotta tell you something before we get into our lesson. And man, do we have some lessons this weekend. I flew from Houston, of course, that's my hometown, into San Diego, a three hour and one minute flight And the guy next to me took off his shoes.
I posted, but I'm not gonna put the picture up because I don't want this to end up on television and him to sue me for showing the bottom of his feet. But he sat like this the whole time with his bare feet and I'm right here, you know, so it's just like, man, I was reminded of souls. Do you know what I'm saying? But I felt a little defeated on the way over and, of course... I want you to turn with me, if you would please, to Isaiah chapter 40, Isaiah chapter 40.
Now, let me tell you a little bit about what's happened in the prophecy of Isaiah from 1:1 all the way up to 39 and the final verse of it, 39, verse 8. During that course of time, God has been prophesying to a people who are once again being overpowered by a superpower that should have had no authority over them whatsoever. Let me kind of put this in a nutshell for you. What God told the people of Israel from the very beginning when he made covenant with them, and in the Mosaic Covenant on Mount Sinai, he said at that time, "If you will be faithful to me, I will astonish you with blessing. I will practically run you down with blessing. But if you are unfaithful to me with the gods of the nations that are gonna surround you, I will warn you, and I will warn you. But if you do not turn away from that idolatry, I am going to let you be held in captivity to gods, to the gods of those nations who are not gods at all, and you will be under their tyranny".
Now, I'm paraphrasing that but you would find that throughout very distinctly, I mean, no bones about it, Moses was very, very clear. The Lord said. And so, they get to the Promised Land, they settle in. And after all of that, sure enough, over time, just one temptation after another, they begin, instead of impacting the nations, the nations begin to impact them, and they begin taking on the gods, the idols of the other nations around them, which as God would tell us over and over when he says, "I am without peer, I am the one and only God". They begin to go into all manner of idolatry.
And what happens when we don't have God as our God, the only thing that can possibly happen is godlessness and that's exactly what happened to them. They fell into all sorts of sin. They fell into every conceivable injustice. Their way of doing business, for the most part, was bribery. The shepherds of the flocks, in other words, the religious leaders, fleeced the flock. Everything you can imagine went awry. Everything turned upside down. They went under complete defeat and sure enough, sure enough, the superpower that was first over them in this rule after they had been settled in the Promised Land, and then they began to go into this idolatry, was the Assyrians.
So, the Assyrians had them under their rule, which God had said, "No, no nation will have ownership over you. No other authority will be over you but me, as long as you are faithful to me". Never ceased to love them, never gave up, but he did allow them to go under the tyranny of the very thing they had begged to have. And so, what we're finding now is he begins the prophecies of Isaiah by speaking to that, to that rule over them that had come by way of their disobedience and their rebellion. And so, all of these spurts, there are many, many exceptions. There are beautiful portions of it that speak on hope, but they are truly sections of it. For the most part, 1 through 39 of the book of Isaiah is, "I told you what was going to happen, and it will happen just exactly as I told you it would".
And so, I want you to look, before we look at 40, I want you to look at 39 with me for just a moment and let me give you a little bit of background here. Hezekiah is king at the time. And so, there is a power that is emerging that as Assyria began to disintegrate. Now, they had already taken the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity and at this time then, they begin to disintegrate and up comes mighty Babylon. And so, we're told in verse 1 of 39, it's only, it's only eight verses, so go with me there.
"At that time Merodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. And Hezekiah welcomed them gladly. And he showed them his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his whole armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah, and said to him, 'What did these men say? And from where did they come to you?' Hezekiah said, 'They have come to me from a far country, from Babylon.' He said, 'What have they seen in your house?' Hezekiah answered, 'They have seen all that is in my house. There is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.' Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, 'Hear the Word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.'"
Listen carefully, to a people who were told, "Your descendants will be more than the stars of the sky," to hear that they will have no future sons, those who were carried away and would become servants to the king because of this prophecy over there rebellion. Verse 8: "Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah," I want this just to land with us tonight, "'The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.' For he thought," whew, "There will be peace and security in my day".
God, I believe, is looking for a people who will understand lineage with a priority that Scripture gives it, that each generation does its thing in faithfulness to make sure that the next generation coming up is not in bondage to something that their own fathers and mothers, spiritually speaking, introduced them into the middle of. We have to care about the body of Christ long after we are gone. What are we doing today that we may not even see a harvest from? Would we be willing to do what it takes? Do we have something in us that says, "I would do the work of the Spirit now, I will labor hard in my field now. Even if I do not see a single sprout come up, I will do it for the next generation, or I will do it for the next generation".
Anybody know what I'm talking about? But instead, if we just give way to our own idolatry and just saying, "You know, listen, I'll be out of here soon. I mean, the church is in a mess, but I'm gonna be out of here soon anyway. They can deal". What generation will come along selfless enough in the things of the Spirit to say, "We will do the work for those coming behind us. We're gonna clean up some of what got messed up. We are willing to labor for somebody else's blessing". He was unwilling to do that.
And so, here's what I want you to do, I want you to take 40 and go all the way through Isaiah 55. And I just want you to hold those portions in your hand like this. So, you've got Isaiah 40 and to Isaiah 55, would you just hold this 'cause I just want you to get that section in your hands. Let me tell you something about it. This is the next section of the book of Isaiah, and it's extremely important because after 39 chapters, with moments here and there, speaking hope into it, speaking a future and a ransom into it, he is basically saying, this is what's coming, this is why it has come, and this is how much it's going to cost.
And then all of a sudden, 39 ends with, this is what will happen, Babylon will carry you off. You have flaunted your treasures to Babylon and they are going to come for every last one of them, and they did exactly that. They did exactly that. It would become a reality in 587 B.C., that city would be completely taken, that temple would be stripped bare of all its riches. They would go marching off with it and they would burn that thing, just like he said. Then 40 to 55 begins this wild response of God right in the middle of their rebellion when he begins to speak peace, and comfort, and salvation.
I want you to hear it with me. Going back to 40, verse 1, it starts just like this. "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: 'In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.'"
Now, let me pause here and say, he's now looking very forward. So, now in the prophetic timeline of God, now it's going quite forward past their captivity to Babylon, 70 years later when he would call those captives home. And so, what he's speaking to is comfort, comfort because he knows they're gonna get to Babylon, and they are gonna open their eyes and go, "What on the ever-loving earth have we done"? I just wonder is there anyone in the house that has ever asked your own self that in your own mirror, anybody besides me? You are in the right house because this is our God.
It says in verse 6, "A voice says, 'Cry!' And I said, 'What shall I cry?' All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, 'Behold your God!' Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young".
Look what he says now, after he's just talked about this shepherd who will come gathering his lambs in his arms he says, "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding"?
Jump down to verse 28. "Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint".
Anybody got an amen in the house tonight? Because this, this is the Word of the Lord. Now, I gotta to tell you something. One of the things that makes the book of Isaiah so important to us as New Testament believers is that it has got the most comprehensive, prophetic picture of Christ in one book in all of the Old Testament. If you collect one Scripture after another that is in great detail foretelling what Messiah will be like, you will not find a book in the Old Testament that can compete with Isaiah's prophecy.
So, it's important for you to know, and it's important for me to know because it boosts confidence in us, that to this point, God is batting a thousand with prophecy. I mean, he's doing magnificently, magnificently, which is why the evil in this world, and the powers and principalities of darkness, and why Satan were told in Revelation 12:12 is so furious because he knows his time is short. Because I'm gonna tell you something, the enemy knows God keeps his Word. He does not doubt for one moment that God will do what he said. We may doubt what God says, but let me assure you, the enemy of our souls has absolutely no doubt he will do exactly what he said he would do because he has done it to the detail hundreds, if not thousands, of times.
Till now, one of the beautiful things about it is that the whole big idea, if we were looking for, what is the big idea of the book of Isaiah? I mean, all of these chapters, what is the big idea of the book of Isaiah? It is actually tucked in the name of Isaiah. The name Isaiah means salvation of Yahweh. And I mean from 1:1 all the way to the very end of the book in 66 chapters over and over again, God is making known the message of salvation. I want to show you something that is so, so powerful.
I want you to go back with me to verse 9, Isaiah 40, verse 9. "Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, 'Behold your God!'" Do you see those references to good news, herald of good news? This is the tap root of what we know as evangel or evangelism. This is the good tidings. This is the good news. In the Septuagint, which is the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament, it is the word that we would see, if you think evangel, if you see E-V-A-N-G-E-L, that's the word that's being transliterated there in the Septuagint, and it is giving us salvation, what we know of as evangelism, that we take the good news to the ends of the earth. It starts coming.
It's been told, it's been foretold all of this time, and now it is being given a very specific name that becomes everything to us as New Testament believers. In fact, you just sit tight where you are, but I want to just read you the very beginning of the Gospel of Mark. "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, 'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: "'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight".'"
The way the blessing is gonna go all the way around the earth is through the message of Jesus Christ given on that mountain. There is a God who saves. Behold, your God. The spectacular beauty that individualizes, that sets Isaiah 40 apart from so many chapters, what is it about it that particularly shines in the way that we're gonna see it unfold? And it's gonna be through these two words. So, you're gonna see, first of all, on the screen, transcendent, exceeding usual limits. It's beyond comprehension. You'll see in the third definition, transcending the universe, or material existence. It says in short, this is my part, this is me putting it in a nutshell for you, existing outside of time and space. You'll understand it, if you don't already, you'll understand it better in just a moment when we contrast it with the other term.
Did you notice at the end of it, it says, "Compare immanent". That is our next term. Immanent is a word that means indwelling inherent, being within the limits of possible experience or knowledge. Is anybody already tracking with me in this? So, this is going to be what seems to us the antithesis of transcendence being within the limits of possible experience or knowledge. And it says compare what? Tell me again. Transcendent, so it's comparing the two terms because they contrast. If you want to understand what transcendent is, then it's gonna be what it seems antithetical to imminence. Imminence, the antithetical term would be transcendence. At the bottom of it, you'll see that I'd written you just a short little definition of it, in short, present within time and space, present within time and space.
Now, there are two words that sound a whole lot like the same word, and I want to make sure we've got those straight. You don't have to write these down. I just want you to understand it when you look at it so you know when you use the term, which term you mean because there's immanent, there's eminent and there's imminent, and I want to make sure that we're real clear on which one it is and which one it's not. So, I'm gonna bring that up on the screen so that you can see it.
Now, eminent, E-M-I-N-E-N-T means of high rank. That's a whole different term. It would be someone, I'll say that a ruler or somebody of nobility, especially in the ancient world would be called his or her eminence because a very high rank and nobility. Different word, great word, different word, different word. Imminent, you can see look how close they are together from the first one and the third one, that means impending.
For instance, I can remember after the flooding began in Houston, I can remember that we were told when the point was going to come that landfall of Hurricane Harvey was imminent, and it meant it is coming, it is on us. It is threatening or it is just happening very soon. Three great terms, three great meanings, but they're not the same. All right, you and I are gonna compile a list of points together that help us be able to wrap our minds around the beauty of Isaiah chapter 40 and it begins right here. Number one, number one is this, God is both transcendent and immanent because God is something that nothing else and no one else can be. He is both transcendent and he is immanent.