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Signs, Seasons and Survivors! Isaiah 37:30-32

29/09/2016

Signs, Seasons and Survivors!

(Communion Sunday)

Text . Isaiah 27:30-32
This part of Isaiah is narrative – history unfolding. God has spoken again through Isaiah, describing the nature of those who ‘rage against God’ and the terrible fate that awaits them. In conclusion to that divine message, Isaiah tells Hezekiah that God will give him a sign…

1. Signs? 30a “And this shall be the sign for you:
Now there is no doubt that the bible is full of signs and references to signs. But biblical signs always point us to something specific, Exodus 4:8; Joshua 24:17, Matthew 12:38; John 2:18; Acts 2:22

  • Should we seek signs? Jesus said, Matthew 16:4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.
  • Signs in Isaiah: Certainly Isaiah has a fair ration of signs…. Isaiah 7:14 Isaiah 8:18. Isaiah 19:20. Isaiah 20:3. Isaiah 55:13. Do you remember the names of Isaiah’s children? She’ar-Ya’shuv, meaning “A remnant shall return” (Isaiah 7:3) and the younger, Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, meaning, “Spoil quickly, plunder speedily.” They were signs, their names meant something.
  • The Sacraments as signs. In the Bible, signs can have a sacramental significance. Circumcision and the Passover were signs, pointing to God’s redemptive acts and purpose. And of course, in the NT, baptism and the Lord’s Supper are signs, pointing us away from ourselves, to Jesus, reminding us of his redemption of his people, washing them in his own blood on the cross, where he bore their punishment and guilt and sin and shame, and sustaining them and feeding them. The sacraments are the truly reliable signs that God has placed in his church. Heidelberg: LD25, Q66

So, what exactly is this sign that God has given through Isaiah to Hezekiah, and what does it point to?

2. Seasons. 37:30b
Here is the sign…. The land in which you live shall once again thrive and be fruitful and people will be fed. V30 The restoration of the land.

  1. Restoration of what the enemy has destroyed. God will restore the land. Remember that the Assyrians were right at the very walls of Jerusalem. They had a ‘scorched earth policy.’ But God himself will begin to heal the land, and restore its health.
  2. The continuation of the seasons. But the natural restoration of the land destroyed by sin is God’s work, and he will do it. Genesis 8:22.
  3. A return to human endeavour and productivity. Once again, people would begin to till the ground, and sow crops and prepare for harvest.
  4. Eating and drinking to sufficiency. Not just the essentials, but the extras, the joy of eating! During a siege there is no food. When God has restored the land, they would start to enjoy their food again. They would have grapes and wine. Not just the essentials, but that little extra. A sign of prosperity and God’s providential blessing.
  5. A Sign for Israel. V31. Like the land itself, the nation would recover from the ravages of the Assyrians. The nation would prosper once again.

So, this restoration of the land was to be a sign. Now, signs always point to something, so what is it that these signs are pointing to?

3 Survivors. 37:31-32a
Here is the direction to which these signs are pointing. To a group of people referred to here as ‘the remnant’ or ‘a band of survivors!’ The sign to Hezekiah indicated that God would always have a remnant, a small amount of true believers, whom he would preserve in every age.
A Sign for the true Church. V32. A lesson that applies to the church in every age. The true church is described as:-
a. A Remnant. A remnant is a little piece left over. Right throughout the bible, we find talk of the remnant. A small number of people rescued by God. Isaiah 10, 20 Paul picks up this theme again in Romans 9:27
b. Soul Survivors! A band of survivors. And here we find the ultimate fulfilment of the remnant teaching. The remnant is the church, the bride of Christ, that number of people who will be gathered around the throne! Jesus said, 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14..
We take great heart from this.
How do we know that this sign will ever come to pass? V32B. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. There is a seal put on this sign. As always when signs are given in the Bible, they do not point to something that we have done, but to what God has done for us! God has his remnant and he will preserve them.

So, Isaiah brings God’s word to Hezekiah and it is reinforced by the sacramental sign. God has promised that he will preserve his people, and he will not break his promise, and just as sure as the sign appears and unfolds, so certain is God’s promise of deliverance and keeping. And, as we approach the Lord’s Table, God’s covenant sign to us, just as sure as we see the bread and wine, broken for us, so Jesus was broken and wounded and slain in the cross for us, and just as sure as we lift the elements and put them in our mouths, and inwardly take them, so we through faith alone take Christ. The sign, pointing to the substance. The symbol pointing to the reality. God has already decreed it.

© Bob McEvoy

From → Bible Study, Isaiah

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