Andrew Fountain - The God who Carries us

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Sermon notes - The God who Carries us

  • You all know what is meant by a “shock headline”. Its a newspaper headline designed to grab your attention
  • It’s written in a way that
  • I once saw a headline that said something like:

SRI LANKA DESTROYS ENGLAND

  • read all about it...
  • I didn’t know we were at war! I’d better go and see what this is about.
    • And then you read “England’s cricket team were demolished in the 3rd test match agains Sri Lanka when the entire team were dismissed for 92 runs.”

DISASTER

DISASTER

Image source: dailymail

Rout of Africa

Rout of Africa

Image source: The Guardian

  • Here is a shock headline from the prophet Isaiah

Isaiah

BEL BOWS DOWN!

NEBO STOOPS!

  • read all about it...
  • is this a shock to you?
  • To appreciate why the people that heard Isaiah say these words would be shocked, we need to know who Bel and Nebo were.
  • They were the chief gods of the great Babylonian Empire.

Nebo

Nebo

Image source: chestofbooks.com

  • 6 kings named after Nebo ? Nebuchadnezzar (Nebo, protect my frontier)

Bel (Marduk)

Bel (Marduk)

Image source: Wikipedia

  • Bel any names? Belshazzar “May Bel protect the king”
    • They trusted these gods to help them at war, and because they always won, they gave Bel and Nebo all the credit
  • Imagine what this must have sounded like to the Israelites
    • Who is the most powerful country today—the USA
    • American army surrenders. President Obabma begs for peace.
  • That is how shocking it must have sounded.
  • So how does this worship of Bel and Nebo work?
    • We don’t see a lot of explicit idol-worship here in the west, so we can be unaware of what’s happening.
    • It is all about trying to get power by manipulating spiritual forces
    • Sometimes a person would be possessed
    • but very often they would carve some representation, and do things to invite the evil force to associate itself with the object
      • e.g. sacrificing to it & worshipping it
    • they knew the object was not the god, but they also knew by experience that you could encourage a demon to associate itself with it.
    • you can think of it as an attempt to control the god
  • God was so concerned that they should not try to do that to him
    • He was totally different to these evil spirits
    • He refused attempts to manipulate him in this way
  • So beware of objects, like wooden carvings, that come from a culture where there is active demon worship
    • The object might just be a piece of wood, but if it has actually been used for worship, then a spiritual force might have become comfortable associating with it.
    • It might look to you like a cute art object, but be careful
  • We don’t know a lot about how the spirit world is organized, but probably there was a powerful spirit who took the place of Bel
  • Let’s turn to our passage in Is 46:

Isaiah 46

  1. Bel kneels down,
    Nebo bends low.
    Their images weigh down animals and beasts.
    Your heavy images are burdensome to tired animals.
  2. Together they bend low and kneel down;
    they are unable to rescue the images;
    they themselves head off into captivity.
  • This is a prophetic prediction of what was to happen

Walls of Babylon

Walls of Babylon

Image source: wikimedia

  • inpregnable city of Babylon
    • 10km of walls around the city, 8m/25 feet thick
    • Towering up to 100m/320 feet above the city
    • Fields within city for growing food
    • could not run out of water because the river Euphrates ran through the city
  • Captives are led out of the city
    • The treasures of the city are loaded onto donkeys

Donkey

Donkey

Image source: Naciketa Datta

  • Here is the poor donkey that would be weighed down by the weight of the idols
    • Stumbles and bends under the weight
    • The idols look like they are bowing up and down!
  • And here is the single message for today:
    • These idols have to be carried,
    • But God says: “I will carry you, from the cradle to the grave”
  • Let’s look at the whole passage: (read 1–4)

Isaiah 46

  1. Bel kneels down,
    Nebo bends low.
    Their images weigh down animals and beasts.
    Your heavy images are burdensome to tired animals.
  2. Together they bend low and kneel down;
    they are unable to rescue the images;
    they themselves head off into captivity.

  1. “Listen to me, O family of Jacob,
    all you who are left from the family of Israel,
    you who have been carried from birth,
    you who have been supported from the time you left the womb.
  2. Even when you are old, I will take care of you,
    even when you have gray hair, I will carry you.
    I made you and I will support you;
    I will carry you and rescue you.

  1. To whom can you compare and liken me?
    Tell me whom you think I resemble, so we can be compared!
  2. Those who empty out gold from a purse
    and weigh out silver on the scale
    hire a metalsmith, who makes it into a god.
    They then bow down and worship it.
  3. They put it on their shoulder and carry it;
    they put it in its place and it just stands there;
    it does not move from its place.
    Even when someone cries out to it, it does not reply;
    it does not deliver him from his distress.

  1. Remember this, so you can be brave!
    Think about it, you rebels!
  2. Remember what I accomplished in antiquity!
    Truly I am God, I have no peer;
    I am God, and there is none like me,
  3. who announces the end from the beginning
    and reveals beforehand what has not yet occurred,
    who says, ‘My plan will be realized,
    I will accomplish what I desire,’
  4. who summons an eagle from the east,
    from a distant land, one who carries out my plan.
    Yes, I have decreed,
    yes, I will bring it to pass;
    I have formulated a plan,
    yes, I will carry it out.

  1. Listen to me, you stubborn people,
    you who distance yourself from doing what is right.
  2. I am bringing my deliverance near, it is not far away;
    I am bringing my salvation near, it does not wait.
    I will save Zion;
    I will adorn Israel with my splendor.”

based on NET Bible


  • Are you carrying burdens right now
    • Sometimes immediately, sometimes a delay
  • Story of the projector remote
  • Read 5–7 (even if there is a supernatural power behind, it, it still can’t even lift it’s own weight)
    • but we are probably not engaged in open idolatry, yet we have our own idols
    • Used to know someone who had a boat—constanly requiring attention and money
    • Another guy has a swimming pool at his home and has vowed that if he ever buys another house...
      • “You’ve done so much work on the pool this last week, cleaned it, disinfected it, fixed the leaks
        Now maybe the pool will look after you for a bit!”
  • So this person wants a top-quality idol. No expense spared
    • Dumb and paralysed! What a god!
    • Funny, but it’s the reality for a lot of us today
  • Read 8–11 God summons the armies of an empire, like a man calling a bird
    • Anne and I saw an amzing demonstration at the African Lion Safari near Guelph
  • Read 12–13 In the short term this is about restoring the nation, but in the longer term about sending Jesus
  • Do you think... (hand notes)
  • When I first started studing this passage it was in the middle of an internet disconnection
    • Ultimately I don’t need the internet
    • It’s not good, but ultimately I don’t need the internet. Or a phone. All I need is God
    • I know that nothing God wants me to do will be hindered by not having the internet.

Message

  • These gods had to be carried
  • But God will carry his people
  • We have burdens that we carry
  • But God says he will carry us

The God who Carries us

The God who Carries us

Image source: Andrew

  • Why is this a difficult message?
    • Because we like to be in control
    • What God is really asking us to do is to surrender control
    • v.3b-4 gradle to the grave
      • Isn’t God amazing!
  • Story of Luther’s kidnapping
  • Go back three chapters (very similar message to Is.46)

Isaiah 43:1-5

  1. Now, this is what the LORD says,
    the one who created you, O Jacob,
    and formed you, O Israel:
    “Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you.
    I call you by name, you are mine.
  2. When you pass through the waters, I am with you;
    when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you.
    When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
    the flames will not harm you.
  3. For I am the LORD your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your deliverer.
    I have handed over Egypt as a ransom price,
    Ethiopia and Seba in place of you.
  4. Since you are precious and special in my sight,
    and I love you,
    I will hand over people in place of you,
    nations in place of your life.
  5. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

based on NET Bible


  • You are more important to me than whole nations of people!
    • Do you believe that?
    • What burdens are you carrying right now
    • Can you give them to God right now?
  • This is what becoming a Christian is all about
    • No longer trusting in the things around you to carry you
    • But trusting God to carry you
    • Take the step of renouncing the things that can’t carry you and trusting God.
  • End by standing and reading together:

Isaiah 46

  1. “Listen to me…
    you who have been carried from birth,
    you who have been supported from the time you left the womb.
  2. Even when you are old, I will take care of you,
    even when you have gray hair, I will carry you.
    I made you and I will support you;
    I will carry you and rescue you.

Updated on 2016-03-13 by Andrew Fountain