An Exhortation to Those Who Give Ear to Him
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles to the book of Isaiah, chapter 51. We have been considering for the past several lessons what we have referred to as the Servant passages . There are four of them, and they all speak of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have considered three of them, and one yet remains to be considered.

We have noticed that between each one of the Servant passages there is, for want of a better term, what we have referred to as an interlude . It is made up of exhortations or words of encouragement.

In our last lesson, we began to look at the interlude which began with the first verse of chapter 51, and will conclude with verse 12 of chapter 52. We did not have time to discuss everything in this interlude, but we did begin. We are not going to have time to give a detailed review, but by way of a simple review, may we remind you that this interlude is divided into two sections built around two words, each of them used three times at least. There is the word hearken , and there is the word awake . You might fix in your minds these words and their locations, as I call your attention to verse 1 of chapter 51:

Isaiah 51

1Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.

Then you will notice in verse 4:

Isaiah 51

4Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.

Then, down in verse 7:

Isaiah 51

7Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.

You will recall that we considered these three paragraphs introduced by the word hearken , and we emphasized to you that they represented a special appeal from God to His people. This appeal is in the light of the fact that there would be some people, described in verse 11 of chapter 50, who wanted to walk in the light of their own fire, which fire they had kindled by themselves, and of course, could do no more for them than any human effort can do for anybody.

God addressed Himself in verse 1 to those who followed after righteousness, in verse 4, to those who give ear to Him, and in verse 7, to those who know righteousness. In the consideration of this interlude, we reminded you that it did represent meditation and communion with God. We reminded you that real communion is never one-sided. We make it that way sometimes. Sometimes in prayer we do all the talking, and we don't give God a chance. Sometimes, because we want to commune with God, we let God do all of the talking. That is, we spend all of our time in the study of the Word of God, and never one time talk to God about what we have learned, so that it might be incorporated into our lives.

In the paragraph which follows, we will realize that there is a communion that is not one-sided, but two-sided, and it is built around the word awake . The word awake is used twice in each instance. You will keep in mind that when we look at the word awake , we are looking at the second division of this interlude, remembering that the first division was presented by the word hearken and the second by the word awake .

A Challenge to God's People

We would like for you to get fixed in your minds the location of these words awake , so that you will be able to think clearly with us. We remind you of what we read in verse 9:

Isaiah 51

9Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?

We studied that together in our last lesson, and we recognized that it was a cry from the hearts of the people who had been listening to the voice of God, and it did seem to them as though God had fallen asleep. It seemed to them that God was not interested in their problems at all, and so they cried out:

Isaiah 51

9Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD…

We showed you how this phrase, “O arm of the LORD,” was another Old Testament name for our precious Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ. What we did not have time to consider, and what we want to consider in this lesson, is God's response to this cry. You see, it is two-sided. They look up to God, and they say, “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD,” and God answers them, as we learned in the paragraph at which we looked, and then He issues a challenge. The challenge is presented in verse 17:

Isaiah 51

17Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out.

This is God addressing himself to the nation of Israel in the name of His chief city, Jerusalem. I want you to notice, by way of introduction, how God addresses Jerusalem. He addresses Jerusalem in this particular instance as a drunken derelict .

Look over at verse 1 of chapter 52, and notice the word awake again:

Isaiah 52

1Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.

God again is issuing a challenge to the nation of Israel in the name of its chief city, Jerusalem, but the figure of speech He uses is different. Here, He addresses the city of Jerusalem as though she were a prostitute about to become a princess. If you will keep these two phrases in mind— a drunken derelict and a prostitute who was to become a princess —you will have the thought of these two paragraphs.

The Helpless State of Israel

Let's look together at the first picture presented in this paragraph—the picture of the nation of Israel as a drunken derelict. We refer to the nation of Israel as a drunken derelict because, in verse 17, we read:

Isaiah 51

17Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out.

Get the picture: Here is a man who has a goblet ordinarily full of wine. Two things have happened. He has drunk the goblet to the very dregs and all of it is gone; it is empty. He has so continuously drunk that he has the tremors. He is trembling from head to toe as he lies in the dust. That is the picture of the nation of Israel as God addresses her as inebriated as an alcoholic. She is as helpless as someone in a drunken stupor. That becomes even more evident if you will look at verse 23, as we read:

Isaiah 51

23But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: [notice this phrase particularly] and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.

So deep in this drunken stupor is the nation of Israel that as she lies in the street, so to speak, she becomes a doormat for the nations of the world. She becomes a bridge over the muddy puddles. She is used for whatever they wish to use her for, and she can do nothing about it.

You might be saying, “Well, if she was in a drunken stupor, why should it matter? Why shouldn't the nations of the world use her as a doormat?” God hastens to remind us and her that she is not drunken with wine as is an ordinary drunkard, but she is drunk because she has drunk to the dregs the cup which God hath placed in her hand, which is designated in verse 17 as the “cup of his fury.” It is the cup of God's fury. The reason that she is in the sad state which she in is that God is angry with her. God is furious with her, and He is dealing with her in wrath. You will recognize that more definitely if you will look at verse 20, where we read:

Isaiah 51

20Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as a wild bull in a net: [notice] they are full of the fury of the LORD, the rebuke of thy God.

Hitler may have thought that he had his problems against the Jews because he was a Nazi and they were used, but the reason that he persecuted the Jews as he did is that the Jew still holds in his hand the cup of the fury of Almighty God.

Pharaoh of Egypt may have thought that when he gave the order that the Israelites would not only make the brick, but they would go out and gather the straw that was in the brick, that he was getting even for some petty disturbance of his own character, but he wasn't. God had placed in the hand of the Israelites the cup of fury, and they were drinking of it.

Future Suffering for Israel

Everywhere in the world today where they are suffering any persecution, it is not because of some political power with some idea. It isn't because somebody is stirring up anti-Semitism. It is because God has placed in their hands the cup of fury.

They have not really drunk of the dregs yet as a nation. The Bible tells us there will come a day when the individual whom the Old Testament refers to as the Assyrian and whom the New Testament refers to as the Antichrist , will make his appearance on the earth, and when he does they will suffer tribulation such as this world has never known. So great will be that tribulation at the hand of the Antichrist that God said, “If He himself did not step in and shorten the days, there would not be one person among the Jewish nation alive.” They have yet to drink the cup to the very dregs.

He said this cup was full of the fury of God, and Isaiah, voicing the sentiments of God in this paragraph, indicates the kind of fury of which they were to partake. First, in verse 18, you will notice what he says:

Isaiah 51

18There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up.

There is no leadership among the Jews. Now, wait just a moment. I didn't say that there were no brilliant minds among the Jews. There are brilliant minds in the nation of Israel. Many of the great discoveries, awesome and wonderful, which we know today, came out of the minds of Jews, but there is no national leadership among them in the sense that they are binding together a nation that is among the nations of the world in its entirety. Someone may say, “Are you not forgetting that there is a nation of Israel? Are you not forgetting that men such as Ben-Gurion have been outstanding national leaders?” I'm not forgetting that, but I am saying to you that the nation that you see in the land of Israel today, according to the Word of God, is not occupying the land of Abraham. The nation that you see there today, according to the Word of God, is unbelieving, and there is no leader among them who can deliver them from the fury that God has marked out for them.

Look at verse 19, where God says:

Isaiah 51

19These two things are come unto thee; who shall be sorry for thee? desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword: by whom shall I comfort thee?

The grammatical construction of the phrase, “are come,” is an indication that these things will be continuous things. It would seem, if you look at this verse, that He named four instead of two; but He doesn't. Desolation and destruction refer to the land, and famine and sword refer to the people. God says that upon the land of Israel there shall come a desolation and destruction, and among the people there shall come the famine and the sword.

They are still drinking of the cup of the fury of God. They will eventually lie in the street, figuratively speaking, as a doormat for all the nations of the world. If you are familiar with the prophetic Word, you know that eventually all the nations of the world are going to converge on the little land of Israel. They are going to be completely surrounded, and life will not be worth a thing. It will be then that they will look to Him whom they have pierced, as we will learn in Isaiah, chapter 53. It will be then that He will return for their deliverance, but until that time they are and they will be drinking of the cup of fury.

God Pleads the Cause of Israel

Notice that I have repeatedly said, until then . That indicates to us that this is not a permanent thing. They may think so. For thousands of years the Jewish nation has drunk of the fury of God's wrath, but it will not be a permanent thing. Notice in verse 21:

Isaiah 51

21Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine:
22Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people…

Oh, that is a wonderful statement. If He hadn't said anything else, this is a wonderful statement. Did you notice that every one of the Old Testament names of God are used in that one sentence? This implies that the entire Godhead is back of this statement. The word Lord that is first mentioned has the first letter capitalized, and the other letters are small. We have reminded you that that means it is a translation of the word Adoni . If you will look at the next word LORD , you will recognize that each letter is capitalized. That indicates that it is the translation of the Hebrew word Jehovah . Then if you look at the word God , it is the translation of the Hebrew word Elohim .

If you are familiar with Hebrew, you know that the word Elohim is plural, and though it is not evident in our English translation, each one of these other names is in the plural, which emphasizes what I have been saying. There is one God, a blessed three-in-one: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit says to the nation of Israel, “We are pleading your cause.”

That is wonderful, isn't it? That is the only reason that I can say to you that the cup of fury will someday be taken out of the hand of the Israelites and placed in the hands of someone else. It is because God is pleading their cause.

We have pointed out to you often enough that I trust you have learned the lesson that every Scripture has one interpretation and then as many applications as is consistent with the Word of God. It rejoices my heart to be able to apply this Scripture to us. Though it is referring primarily to the fact that the triune God is pleading the cause of the nation of Israel, I know from other passages of Scripture that God is pleading my cause too. Aren't you thankful for the advocacy of the Lord Jesus Christ?

The Advocacy of Jesus

Do you know what we are talking about when we talk about the advocacy of the Lord Jesus Christ? Turn with me to I John, chapter 2, verse 1:

I John 2

1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

You have read this passage of Scripture many times, but don't let the very familiarity of it breed contempt in your hearts in relation to it. This is a tremendous thing. The phrase, “My little children,” literally means, “My little born-again ones,” so this is written to believers. What does God say to our hearts as believers? He says, “I don't want you to sin. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.”

Listen to me. If you sin without concern, as a child of God, you have a misconception of the grace of God. If you sin and are not concerned that you sin, if you shrug your shoulders and say, “I'm saved, and it doesn't matter what I do,” you have missed the message. God said, “My little children, I don't want you to sin.”

I never will forget what a dear man of God said one time, by way of illustration. He was teaching in a Bible class at John Brown University and teaching the truth related to God's grace. One of the students raised his hand and said, “Doctor, do you mean that if I am a Christian, I can sin all that I want to?” And this dear man whose very humility, as far as I'm concerned, is a mark of grace upon him, paused for a moment. Then he said, “My dear young man, you may sin all that you want to, but I sin more than I want to. I sin more than I want to.”

I have thanked God for that illustration from the day that I heard it long ago, for that is the way that I feel. You can sin all that you want to but, Beloved, you have missed the message. I sin more than I want to, and that is the reason I am so very thankful for the advocacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice what He said:

I John 2

1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

The word advocate is a good Old English word. We don't use it much any more. It means “a lawyer.” They still use it in Britain quite a bit where we would use attorney or lawyer . It is saying, “You have a lawyer. You have someone to plead your case.” Who is He? “The Lord Jesus Christ.”

What was it we read in the book of Isaiah? “The cup of fury will be removed from your hands because God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is pleading your cause.”

John takes up the refrain in the New Testament, and says, “You have someone who is pleading your cause.” Who is it? “It is the Lord Jesus Christ. ”

I am glad today that He can plead my cause, but you know the success of any lawyer depends upon the kind of case that he has to present. I was speaking to someone the other day about an individual who was supposed to take a lie detector test, and I said, “Well, does it matter?” The individual said, “Well, the prosecuting attorney's case will be greatly weakened if the individual concerned doesn't take a lie detector test.” Beloved, our advocate, our attorney, doesn't ever need to be concerned about success based upon the kind of case He has to present, because He has presented the best argument of all. Look at verse 2:

I John 2

2And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

What does it mean? It means that when Joe Temple sins—not all he wants to, but more than he wants to—my lawyer steps up before the bench. The Lord Jesus Christ says, “My Father, Joe Temple is My client, and I can't let that be said about him. I died for him.” Though they can say a great deal about me, they cannot say anything about my lawyer, and the case is dismissed for lack of evidence. That is the advocacy of the Savior, and how I thank God for it.

The Intercession of the Holy Spirit

I said that in this Old Testament passage of Scripture three were involved in pleading the cause. Turn to the book of Romans, chapter 8, verse 26, and notice as we read:

Romans 8

26Likewise the Spirit also [notice the word also ] helpeth our infirmities…

Infirmities is in the plural. There are many of them. One of the infirmities in particular is related to prayer, but please don't miss the message of this verse with talking only about prayer. The inability to know what to pray for as we ought to pray is only one of our infirmities. There are many of them, but who pleads our case in relation to all our infirmities? The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes intercession for us. How greatful I am for the intercessory work of the Holy Spirit. Do you realize what it means? Do you enjoy it? Are you greatful for it?

I like to illustrate it this way: Have you ever been talking with someone and they just rattle off a lot of things? Oh, they talk in your language, but somehow or other they are not getting the message across. You just shake your head and say, “I haven't the slightest idea what they are talking about.” If it's not very important, you let it go at that, but if it is very important you say, “I don't know what they are saying, but I wish I did.” Then someone who knows them steps up and says, “Let me tell you what they are saying. This is what they said, but this is what they meant.” Why do they say that? It would be so simple if they had just said it.

I don't want to belittle my God, but the Bible speaks of God in human terms. For example, it speaks of the hand of God, and God is a Spirit. He doesn't have a hand, but the reason that the Bible speaks of the hand of God is so we can conceive of that and know what it is. I don't belittle God, but I want to speak of Him, for the purposes of illustration, on human terms. How many times have I rattled off to God? How many times have I just gone on and gone on, and God said, “I don't know what in the world that boy is talking about, and I don't think he does either.” He is so right; I don't know. But, you see, God loves me so He doesn't just dismiss it. He doesn't shrug His shoulders and say, “Oh, forget it.” He says, “What is he trying to say?” Then the Holy Spirit, who searches the hearts of men and who knows the mind of God, says, “Let Me tell you what he said.”

I put it this way: The Holy Spirit takes my words, feeble and awkward as they may be, and translates my words into the language that is acceptable before the Throne. Isn't that wonderful?

God is Our Defense

What was it God said in chapter 51 of the book of Isaiah? He said, “I am pleading your cause—Adoni, Elohim, Jehovah, pleading your cause.” Then in the New Testament God is doing the same thing for believers. The Lord Jesus Christ is our advocate, the Holy Spirit our intercessor, and God our defense. We have to have a defense, you know. Look down at Romans, chapter 8, verse 33:

Romans 8

33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Now, wait just a moment. Did you notice the phrase, “who also maketh intercession for us.”? The Lord Jesus Christ does not only perform the ministry of an advocate at the right hand of the Throne of God, He provides as well the ministry of interecession. In this instance it is a ministry of strengthening. Yes, God listens to His Son. How foolish can you get to think that He would listen to the mother of His Son more than He listens to His Son? The Son says to the Father, “Father, don't be too hard on Joe Temple.” I say this reverently, but I say it for the sake of emphasis. He says, “Father, you never lived in a fleshly body. You have always been a Spirit. You have always been Holy God. You have never lived in a fleshly body, but I, your Son, went down in a body of flesh, and I know what it is to live in a body of flesh, so don't be too hard on Joe Temple.” He makes intercession for me.

Somebody comes along and says, “Well, so and so ought to happen to Joe Temple. He is a sorry outfit.” Do you know what Jesus says? “He doesn't say, “Joe Temple isn't a sorry outfit,” because He can't say that and be honest, but He says, “Did you die for him?” Then it has to get quiet, because they didn't die for me. Jesus says, “Did you die for him?” When they realize how foolish their condemnation is—I say this reverently—He says, “You be quiet. I did die for him. If anybody is going to condemn him, I will. Not you.” He is saying, “Who is he that dares to condemn? It is Christ Who died and Who makes intercession for us.” Let's read this next paragraph:

Romans 8

34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Who loved us? You say, “Jesus did.” Yes, He did. He died for you, but who loved you so that Jesus could die for you? What do you read in John, chapter 3, verse 16:

John 3

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Jesus Christ was a willing sacrifice, but I say this to you reverently without detracting from any glory belonging to my Lord: God originated the idea of redemption, and He did it because He loved us.

Nothing Separates Us From the Love of God

What is this we are reading? Through Him who loved us, none of these things that we have mentioned can seperate us from the love of God. Notice verse 38:

Romans 8

38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Don't a lot of us give up too quickly? How many of us have been separated from His love through tribulation? Are you listening to what I am saying? Oh, His love is still there, but you have let the cloud of tribulation come between you and His love like the cloud comes between the earth and the sun; and for all practical purposes, though His love is there, you are not experiencing it. Many of you let a little cloud of tribulation come between you and His love.

The reason that I am putting it that way is that the Apostle Paul mentions these things that are ordinary, though they may seem extraordinary to you—such things as tribulation, distress, persecution, hunger, nakedness, peril, war, etc. He goes on to bigger things, and He says, “Not even those bigger things can separate you from the love of God—things like angels, principalities and powers.” That refers to the Devil and all of his demons. Not even they can separate you from the love of God. Whatever they find in outer-space and whatever they find in the depths of the sea, you can be sure they will not find anything that will separate you from the love of God.

Then, He tops it all off with the phrase, “any other creature.” That is so weak. The real meaning of the original text says, “Nothing that shall be created shall separate you from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Beloved, God said, in the book of Isaiah, to the nation of Israel, “I'm pleading your cause.” More accurately, let's put it the way that He actually said it. “We are pleading your cause.” The nation of Israel will know ultimate victory, by and by, because the blessed Holy Trinity is pleading their cause. I rejoice that as believers we enjoy that victory now. The blessed Holy Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—is pleading our case. I thank God for that. I am glad that it is more than an empty theological fact. I am glad that it is a precious living truth. I hope it is for you.

Believe it or not, that wasn't in my outline. I didn't intend to get that far afield, but we trust that it is what the Lord directed.


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