Beth Moore - Lift Up Your Eyes, Part 3
Throughout the 40th chapter of Isaiah, there are two things, two attributes of God that are both being showcased and are being showcased gorgeously in juxtaposition, I mean, going back and forth, volleying between them, and they don't seem like they could belong to the same person, but they belong to the one and only God, and what are those two things? Tell me the words. Transcendence and immanence. And I want you to tell me in short form what is the definition of transcendent? Existing outside of time and space. Immanent is what? Present within time and space.
So, in all this wildness we see in Isaiah chapter 40, he is going back and forth between telling us that he is the transcendent one over and over, and I love it in the NET, in that translation when it says over and over. It says it in more of our ESV and NIV terminology. "There is no other". "There is none like me," and the NET is "I have no peer". "I have no peer". So, he's telling us, "I am Creator of all things. I sit and view the world and the universe from my throne. I am above all things, and I am completely self-existent". When he gave his name to Moses when Moses said, "What am I to tell them that your name is"? He said, "You tell them I am, that I am that I am," and it means, "I am the self-existent one. I have no need"...
God is not contingent. Does anybody know what I'm talking about when I say that? He is contingent upon nothing, he needs nothing to exist, he needs nothing to do his job, he is complete in every way. Here's the thing, it does not change him one iota whether or not we believe him or believe he is who he says he is, not one iota. It does nothing to take away from him. However, it changes us completely. We are contingent upon what we think about God and what he has done for our souls, so God in, number one, how do you put those together? Tell me what our first point was, number one. God is both transcendent and immanent, and then number two is what? God is both Creator and Sustainer, and we're gonna find out today in our lesson that he's not just talking about sustaining the universe.
We talked about Hebrews 1:3, "He sustains all things by his powerful Word". We talked about Colossians chapter 1, that he created all things and by him all things hold together. But I just want you to count yourself among those things, 'cause I'm gonna tell you who holds me together? Anybody else? Now, you're gonna remember that we zeroed-in as much as we were able in an hour's time. It does not do justice to the whole concept and attribute of transcendence, but we did the best we could for the time we had, so today, we're going into what? Immanence, everybody say it again, so go with me, Isaiah 40, and I'm gonna read verses 1 through 11 again.
Remember, get your context of what had just happened in Isaiah 39 so that you can feel the power of, after they had gotten themselves in that big mess, here comes God with this Word, verse 1, "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem", he's gonna speak tenderly to somebody today, "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, 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.'"
So, "A voice says, 'Cry!' And I said, 'What shall I cry?' All flesh is like grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, and the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are like grass. The grass withers, and flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever". And then here is the call of good tidings, of good news, of evangel, of evangelism, of take the good news, and I just wanna remind you today it is still good news. Could I hear somebody say amen? Reason why I wanna make that point is that I don't think it does a lot of good in our witness when we share the good news in a bad mood.
If what the world sees from Christians is hatefulness, why in the world would they want to be like us? Mom, if we are so overbearing trying to stuff things of religion down the throats of our children, why in the world are we confused when they don't want anything to do with it because they see someone it has made miserable instead of joyful? Do we have the fruit of the Spirit that gives us love, joy, peace, and patience, that gives us some goodness and kindness, that gives us some gentleness and some faithfulness and a little bit of self-control? Those are things people are looking for.
Listen, there's nothing, nothing on this earth that will spread your witness like love and joy... nothing, nothing. And we love people and we have a lot of joy. Now, they are attracted to that. Say to somebody close to you, "It's still good news," and so say back to them, "So don't give it in a bad mood". Amen, amen, I think that works. Now, where in the world was I? "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".
Okay, remember, what is our key word today? Tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me. All right, here it goes, because he's got his arm, this is the mighty warrior, conqueror, King coming, and it says his strong arm is lifted up, and his arm rules for him, and then listen to 11, because you're gonna see this spectacular juxtaposition right here. "He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms". We are not to miss it. Those two verses are going together. The warrior, who comes to save and will plow through the darkness to get to you and to get to me and then when he gets to us, gathers us in his arms. It says he holds gently to his chest. In the shepherd's robes, there was a fold where they could put that little ewe lamb right next to their heart and right next to the warmth of their own skin, and it's giving us that picture. He will, "Gently lead those that are with young," and it gets into, "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand"?
We've got one, two, and let's build on point number three. God is both going before us and coming to get us. I don't know why this just flashed in my mind that I think maybe it will bless you. I have a very good friend whose mother lived well into her 90s, but unlike Travis's dad, she was not of good health. She mostly just laid in the bed a lot, and she loved Jesus, so, you know, she's like ready for him ten years ago, and so my friend Rogers said that she'd lay in the bed, and she even got to where she could hardly talk, you know, just the effort it took to talk, so he says she'd lay in the bed, and she'd go like this... I mean, like, laying flat, and she'd reach her arms up to Jesus, like, "Come get me. Come get me," and the day that I heard that she'd gone home to be with him, I just thought, "What a sweet thing," that I just, oh, maybe this is too cheesy for you, but I just sorta felt like Jesus was leaning over going, "I'm coming to get you. I'm coming to get you", such a precious thing.
God is both going before us and coming to get us. I want you, oh God, please, I'm asking with all that is within me for this to come with power and the profound weight that it is meant to carry in Isaiah. I want you to look at 3 through 5, Isaiah 40:3 through 5, and try to get this with me, "A voice cries: 'In the wilderness prepare the way of,'" who? Tell me, of who? Tell me again. "Make straight in the," what? "'In the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, 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.'"
Listen to me, listen to me. This next section and so much to come in the book of Isaiah is about him calling the exiles home. Remember, they had gotten themself in the biggest mess, in the biggest mess. The pain that they were in that... there's two kinds of pain. There's pain we go through that is just because there is suffering on this earth. This is a broken world, and things happen that we could not possibly have called on ourselves, be it sickness or tragedy, all sorts of heartbreaking things that happen to us that were none of our own doing, but it took me such a long time in my life to ever figure out that really was a thing that I could experience, because I had experienced so many consequences of my own poor decisions.
Does anybody know what I'm talking about? That I just assumed every single time when I was going through something rough. Well, this is consequences, and so, I mean, I was well into adulthood when I went, "What a foreign feeling that I did not cause this to happen," that it wasn't a consequence, but here is the majestic part of it, is that God's coming to comfort and speak tenderly in either case. I mean, who does that? Who does that? And when we've been victimized or when we've been idiots, here's God going this impossible thing for you to understand called grace, and I want you to understand in this picture that there is, and I'm quoting Word Biblical Commentary right here, "The intensity and fullness of Exodus symbolism in Isaiah 40-55 is unique".
In other words, I mean, it's expounding on it, and it's purposeful. So, I mean, it is, like, "This is about to be a second Exodus, and I will come get you. I will come get you," and the power of it, because what he's saying, we would be anticipating him, and it's going to happen. We would see it in Isaiah 55 if we were able to study it as well today. We would see that there is a place where then he calls the exiles home and that he's going to make the way for them to come home, but do you realize right here this is God saying, "Make a way for me. I'm coming to you. I am coming to you"? When he's saying, in these Scriptures, the picture here is "There ain't no mountain high enough. I will flatten it. There is no valley low enough. I will raise it. Though you have caused all manner of calamity to come crashing down on you, I will come and rescue you". Now, if you got a better deal going than that, go right ahead. I mean, go right ahead. I don't know, it doesn't get better than that.
Now, let me tell you something. So much about the Scriptures, one of the things I love to study in Scriptures is a principle, something that you see over and over from beginning to end. Now, all of it is God's Word, all of it inspired, breathed on the page. That's a glorious thing, and so we'll see, like, this verse, it seems so out of left field for the Scripture, but we just love it, we just absolutely love it, but there are other things that's just all the way though, all the way through, all the way through, and one of them is this whole idea of God coming to man, over and over.
First little glimpse of him we get in Genesis after he has created the man and the woman, we see in Genesis chapter 3 that he came walking among them in the garden, and then we see after the fall of man, we see then in the very next book of the Bible, well, of course we see him pull out Abraham in Genesis chapter 12 and begin to raise up a people through him, but come Exodus when the people are in slavery to the Egyptians and have been for hundreds of years, here comes God saying, "I have heard your crying. I have heard your oppression," and he begins to rescue them using his mighty servant Moses, but next thing you know he's going, "Build a place for me that I may come and dwell among you, and I will walk among you".
They would not be able to see his form with their eyes. Oh, but he would make absolutely sure they knew he was there, then captivity, all manner of thing. He has them build a temple. He does the same thing again. They go back into captivity and rebellion, and after all this, after all of the turning to every conceivable kind of God but the true God, going through the silence, and then here he comes again, only this time in flesh and blood. He then comes again after he leaves through the Holy Spirit. Do you remember in John chapters 14 through 16 when he's talking about the coming of the Comforter, the coming of the Holy Spirit? He says, "Listen, it's good for you", John 16, verse 7, "it is good for you that I'm going away. Because when I go away, I'm gonna send him to you".
In other words, "he will not just walk beside you. My very Spirit will now walk inside of you. I will dwell in you," and sure enough, Acts chapter 2 comes, and he pours out his Spirit, and then guess what else we learn? We learn that he's coming back. Just like he came the first time, he is coming back again, and he will right all the wrongs of this world, so the whole thing is about this whole God coming, God coming, God coming, then is everybody with me, is everybody with me, is everybody with me? Okay, then we get to Revelation 22, and guess what he ends the Scriptures with? The Spirit and the bride say, "Come, come," and so here's what's happened. He goes, "I've done all this coming to you so that you can come to me," and Spirit and the bride say, "Come".
Do you know what it means to be called? This is what it means. I need, oh, Stephanie, I'll use your name. Stephanie! When it says, and you have a calling. It means that somewhere, another, Carole! Kimberly! Lauren! That our name, he's called our names. Listen, if you know him, you didn't hear him with your ears, but you must've heard him with your spirit, because here your tail is. Anybody? And that's a gorgeous thing: known by name, known by thumbprint, known by God. And so, I just want you to go with me here. Just keeping this in mind, try to let this find a place here. John 1, I wanna read verse 1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God". Do you see that capital W there? If you are looking in any of the major translations, you're seeing a capital W there.
Okay, so the Word here, there is a gorgeous, gorgeous thing going on there, where, of course, there is the written Word, but Jesus is called the Logos, that he himself came as the full expression of the communication of God to man, and so he is who is being referred to here. "And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it". 14, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, 'This was he of whom I said, "He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me".') For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ".
I know somebody wants to "amen" that today. We are not under the law, we are under the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. "No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known". I want you to just try to wrap your mind around this for a second. He has made him known. Jesus will later tell his disciples, "Listen, if you have seen me, you have seen the Father. You've seen him". Do you remember when we looked up the iconic verse on Creation that says that God created the earth to be inhabited, that it is what separates it from every other planet? It's what leaves us slacked-jawed to realize that here we are, the universe, God made the heavens and this tiny little earth, and we're spinning on this thing and for whatever reason, he made us...
Do you remember the nickname I told you that many scientists give it? What was the girl's name? Goldilocks. Because it's not too hot, it's not too cold, it's what? It's just right. But here's what I want you to hear. He did not only create the earth to be inhabited by us. Is anybody staying with me today? He created the earth to be inhabited by his own self. Can someone get that with me? That God literally put on flesh and blood and came and walked among us to show us what love and truth looks like, to show us how to walk in his likeness, what Christ-likeness looks like in action, what his love fleshes out like, and then he gave his life for us and was raised from the dead. I want you to see with me in 29. It says, and this is John the Baptist. It's speaking of John the baptizer.
You know, Doug, I have to tell you, now, when we were growing up, Doug's family, we lived across the highway from one another out in the outskirts of Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Their family was Presbyterian; our family was Baptist. And I always found it so confusing, all these denominations. I just was, this was the most confusing thing to me as a child because in our small town there was literally, there was a part of town where there was a church on every corner, wasn't there, Doug? I mean, they were all, like, they'd all just about been built there together, and you'd think that isn't this nice? But aren't you just sure that they were just nailing that up going, "Oh, I'm gonna put my church right here". "Well, I'm gonna put my church right"...?
You know, but it was just, like, church circle. They're all in there together, all in there together, and I always found it so confusing, but the thing that I try to get a little bit, 'cause I thought, "How do we know that we even know what we're talking about"? And, you know, in a lot of ways, I had to realize that, no, indeed, we did not know what we're... that's another story entirely. I love my heritage. I'm just teasing with you about that, but as a little girl, I thought, "Well, John was Baptist, and Jesus liked him, so it can't be all bad. It can't be all bad". So, in case someone else is confused about that, that you're going like, "I've had the same thought". It actually means John is a baptizer. He really was not, like, Southern Baptist or Progressive; he wasn't any of those things. He was a baptizer.
Now, it says in verse 29, "The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'" Remember when it said, "Go up and proclaim the good news. Jerusalem, be the herald of the good news. Lift up your voice, lift it up, fear not. Say to the cities of Judah, 'Behold your God.'" So here he is. Behold your God. What the Jews could not possibly have expected was that he would come as a Lamb to give his life for their sins. They were expecting that Lion warrior, and we will see the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and he will roar in glory and holy affection, but it was imperative that he came as the Lamb of God.