Making The Link to Isaiah – Words of Grace – August 4, 2023

Making The Link to Isaiah – Words of Grace – August 4, 2023

J.I. Packer wrote about the feeling of distance we often have when we read the Bible with its unfamiliar places, names, customs, and history.

“Some Christians seem to resign themselves to following afar off, believing the Bible record, but neither seeking nor expecting for themselves such intimacy and direct dealing with God as the men and women of the Bible knew. The sense of remoteness is an illusion which springs from seeking the link between our situation and that of the various Bible characters in the wrong place. It is true that in terms of space, time, and culture, they and the historical epoch to which they belong are a very long way from us. But the link between them and us is not found at that level. The link is God himself. For the God with whom they had to do is the same God with whom we have to do.” (1)

These words will be helpful to us at Grace Community Church as we begin a sermon series in the book of Isaiah this Sunday.

Isaiah is a prophetic vision giving us the word of the Lord to his people and to the nations who lived 2700 years ago. It is a message in time, but it is timeless. The connection we have to Isaiah in our time is not, as Packer said, to its culture and historical setting, but something else. As we read, preach, and pray our way through Isaiah, here are three connection points to keep in mind that will help us experience the intimacy and direct dealing with God that Isaiah himself did.

Isaiah reveals God. God is unchanging. The God of creation, history, Israel in the Old Testament, and the church in the New Testament is the God we know today through Jesus Christ his Son. God is still holy. The rightful demand of God for holiness from his creatures and his people remains the same. The call to trust God still goes out today. Isaiah shows us the God with whom we have to do.

Isaiah reveals human nature. The people of Isaiah’s day were prone to wander, just as we are. They were proud, distrustful, and relied on themselves. They forgot God and took to idol worship. They treated others according to their own sinful desires. We must not think them to be barbaric and ourselves to have evolved to a higher morality. In many respects, they were more religious than we are. But religion is not the point. The heart of a human remains sinfully fickle as it moves from one lover to another seeking to fulfill its needs, and in so doing forsaking God. We find our heart in Isaiah.

Isaiah reveals the way of grace and faith. Finding the holy God and our sinful nature in Isaiah can lead us to despair unless we find God’s way. In all the pronouncements of sin and judgment in the book of Isaiah, we hear the gracious call of God to his people and to the nations to come to him in repentance and trust to be saved. The prospect of judgment is the means by which God directs his people back to himself to experience his saving grace. Where sin increased, grace increased all the more (Romans 5:20). By grace you are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

This Sunday at Grace we will take up the book of Isaiah and find our link to this ancient text in the unchanging God, our own human nature, and the way of grace and faith. Join me in asking God that we may have the direct and intimate dealing with him that leads to life.


(1) J.I. Packer, Knowing God, InterVarsity Press, 1973, pg. 76