Christ: A Sure Foundation

foundation

Isaiah 28:7-20

But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.  (8)  For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.

 (9)  Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.  (10)  For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:  (11)  For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.  (12)  To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.

 (13)  But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.  (14)  Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem.  (15)  Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:  (16)  Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

 (17)  Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.  (18)  And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.  (19)  From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.  (20)  For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.
Introduction

Isaiah speaks woe against the corruption in the land. Those trusted with the moral and spiritual health of the nation, the priests and prophets, had given themselves to debauchery and worldly excess, soaked through with wine and strong drink. When reproved by Isaiah and his corrective preaching, they mocked him and his message, dismissing his words as just so much blather. They would not hear the Word of the Lord. What is more, they grew furious that Isaiah would even dare call them to account! Isaiah proclaimed unto them the rest afforded in the promises of God. Yet, drunk and stubborn, they would not even entertain the notion.

Their hope for peace and prosperity rested in their alliance with Egypt to protect them in the short term against Assyria. Not seeing the forest for the trees, their shortsightedness and stubborn sinfulness was a potent recipe for disaster. They would reject the eternal rest in Christ for the expediency of fleeting worldly pleasures and short-lived political advantages.

Refusing the prophet’s admonition, trusting in their worldly alliances while forsaking the God of heaven and earth, Israel and Judah would face the coming judgment of God. The wicked leaders would soon see that their covenant with hell to be useless to them, incapable of shoring them up in time of distress, and impotent to shield them when the fire of God’s judgment falls.

The only steadfast foundation, the only sure footing, is Christ the Lord! Truly, the stone that the builder rejected has become the chief cornerstone! Those that find their resting place there will not be put to shame, will not have to flee! Praise the Lord.

Sermon

I. The Wicked Love the World

(7,8) But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.  (8)  For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.

The priests and prophets of the land had given themselves over to the pleasures of the world. So much was their pursuit of pleasure, that righteous leadership was no longer possible. They were corrupted by their drunkenness, one worldly thirst leading to another.

As if to illustrate the intensity of their rebellion and debauchery, the prophet writes in vivid detail concerning the vomit-covered tables and feasting halls. Their hall and tables were much like their hearts in that neither place was clean.

II. The Wicked Hate God’s Word

(9)  Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.  (10)  For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:  (11)  For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.  (12)  To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.

Imagine a drunkard who, having heard the prophet of God preaching the revelation of the Lord, openly and sloppily mocks the messenger of the Lord. This is exactly how we should read verses nine and ten! The religious elite mocked Isaiah’s simple and straightforward message! They would not be taught by the likes of a lowly prophet. They would not be spoken to like babies “weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts!”

Beloved, a major difference between a child of God and a child of wrath is put on display in this passage of Scripture. Ultimately, a child of God will yearn for God’s Word, will hunger and thirst to hear from God through the Scripture, will desire the message of God to be shared with them again and again! On the other hand, those who reject the God’s Word do so because they have no love for the things of God, no desire no hunger no thirst.

As if to answer the wicked cries for a better teacher in these matters, the Lord declares that those with “stammering lips and another tongue will speak to this people,” meaning the Assyrian invaders! They would not hear Isaiah. They would certainly hear the Assyrian army!

Isaiah’s message was the message of rest, eternal rest in the promises of God in Christ. But, the wicked would not hear it. The only thing left for the wicked is the certain judgment of God.

III. The Wicked Trust This World to Save Them

(13)  But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.  (14)  Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem.  (15)  Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:  (16)  Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

To the wicked, Isaiah may as well as said, “Blah, blah, blah.” Notice their attack on God’s word: “precept upon precept, precept upon precept.” In their estimation, Isaiah’s message was too simple to be useful to people with such high religious pedigree. Pride truly comes before the fall.

The end result of their rejection of Isaiah’s “Blah, blah, blah is to fall down, to be broken, snared, and taken, in this case, by the Assyrians.

Again Isaiah pleads with the leaders to “hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men!” They would not heed the call of the prophet because they trusted in their own earthly alliance with Egypt, their very own “covenant with death, and with hell.” The false assurance held by the wicked leadership exacerbated their already doomed state of affairs.

But for the true believers, God was preparing to perform a miraculous work! (v16) Isaiah proclaims, “I lay in Zion for a foundation stone, a precious corner stone!” The true sheep of the Lord rest in the corner stone for all hope and peace!

IV. The Wicked Face God’s Wrath

(17)  Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.  (18)  And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.  (19)  From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.  (20)  For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.

The prophet speaks of God’s judgments coming as if they were wielded by a precision craftsman. Both “line” and “plummet” refer to tools used to square a building. In much the same way, God’s judgment would straighten the crooked paths and put His own house in order.

Specifically, the alliance between Egypt and Israel would be of no use to them. Judgment would flow through their cities like an overflowing river, a scourge of God’s own judgment seeking them out with precise accuracy.

In setting their affections on the things of this world, the religious leaders fashioned a great bed, made it up with the finest of linens, only to learn at close of day that the bed arrayed in all the splendor this world affords, was too short, too little, and in all way insufficient. They made their bed with this world. Now they would have to lay in it.

Conclusion

Trusting in the things of this world, trusting in self, trusting in works or deeds: all lead to ultimate despair. The wicked leaders in Isaiah 28 partied non-stop, trusting in their earthly allies to save them should the dark times ever come. Loving the world while hating God’s word, they would not heed the prophet’s warning, mocking him and the Lord’s Word.

For all their pride, for all their confidence, they had to place to stand, no place to truly ground their assurance in the face of coming judgment. They paid the price for their wicked arrogance, a price meted out in fulness at the hands of the Assyrians.

Today, do you trust in the things of the world? Or has the Spirit of God opened your eyes to the truth of Scripture? Has He caused you to believe that Christ alone is the sure and steadfast foundation of the soul?

Christ, the stone rejected by so many, is to those whom the Lord our God shall call, the precious corner stone forevermore. Amen


Jason K. Boothe serves as Pastor of Horizons Baptist Church of Piketon, Ohio. For more information, please visit www.HorizonsBaptist.org.

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