We will take heed to the opening words of this passage. “Behold, my servant,” Isaiah 52:13.
In this portion you have one of the most wonderfully detailed portraits of the Lord Jesus. His name is not mentioned but we can be sure that the prophet is speaking of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus. 1. Proof that this is the Lord Jesus pictured here. Please turn to Acts 8:26-35. Note especially the verse 30. “And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?” He was reading where we have been reading today. Boys and girls we all need help to understand the Bible. This man was a very learned and intelligent man, verse 27. But listen to his words. “And Philip . . . . said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?” Acts 8:30-31.
Man is the same today as he was back in the times of the OT.
The Lord remains the same because, He is “infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. ”
The sin of men today therefore brings the same response from the Lord as ever it did. The analysis of man’s condition and the only cure given by the Lord was accurate a thousand years ago and more and remains effective still.
That being so, we can scan the future in the Bible’s records of the past. What happened to Israel following its backsliding and sin will likewise happen to the converted Gentiles today.
It is for this reason that we can look at these verses and see what lies ahead of Ulster’s Christians if there is not a taking heed of the lessons laid down for us. We may say with Paul: “for our sakes, no doubt, this is written, ” 1 Corinthians 9:10.
The consequences of backsliding and defiance of God is most terrible indeed! Hear what God says. “I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage, ” Jeremiah 12:7-8.
The wonderful promise of Hebrews 13:5 must never be abused. That is not a promise without conditions. Disobedience of God is not ignored by Him.
The true believer will never be so wholly forsaken of God as to lose his soul but sin will cost us the presence and blessing of God just as it cost David such. Psalm 51:11-12.
That is the inevitable cost of sin in this life! Ulster’s Christians are facing a future void of these joys and blessings if there is not a heeding of the decline taking place amongst us.
“And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch,” Acts 11:26.
(A message preached by Rev Ivan Foster in Kilskeery Free Presbyterian Church on Lord’s Day evening, April 30th, 2006)
I suppose there is no more abused term in the English language than that of “Christian”!
So abused is the term that the true Christian must takes steps not to be associated with those who would describe themselves as “Christians”.
The term is commonly applied to that which is, in truth, anti-Christianity. The blessed name of Christ is thus used to veil that which is born of the devil.
Of course we recall the words of Israel in the day of their departure from God. “And he (Aaron, the High Priest) received them (ornaments of gold) at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt,” Exodus 32:4. The very thing forbidden of God just a short time earlier, is now called God! “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,” Exodus 20:4-5.
Little wonder then that we have this abuse of the term Christian.
But let us see from God’s Word just what a Christian is.
There is nothing new under the sun. Here is the record of a discussion very similar to the many that have taken place in Ulster over the last thirty years. Some are speaking to the Saviour about a politically-motivated massacre of Galilæans by Pilate. Notice what He has to say in response the words of those who were speaking to Him and learn some lessons relevant to Omagh’s tragedy.
I. THE WRONG PRESUMPTION MANY MAKE.
These people were not slain by God in judgment or because the especially deserved to die. This is a common mistake.
1. Man makes many mistakes when contemplating eternal matters. Man is blind and in the dark.
He is wrong about himself, his sin, the way of salvation and so much more.
2. He is never more wrong when trying to fathom the workings of God’s providence. Job 9:1-10; Rom 11:33. Omagh calls for a humble bowing before the wisdom and greatness of God and say: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Gen 18:25.
II. TROUBLE CAN COME TO ANY ONE OF US AT ANY TIME.
1. It came to the Galilæans while they worshipped. Verse 1. They were sacrificing when killed by Pilate.
2. It came to those of Siloam while they worked. Verse 4.
3. This being so we should live with eternity ever in mind. James 4:13-15, Ps 2:11.
III. THE MOST IMPORTANT MATTER IS TO REPENT.
That is what the Saviour underlined out of the two tragedies He referred to.
1. Repent is the gospel in one word. What an endorsing of this definition of the gospel we have from the Saviour. How false is a “gospel without repentance”.
2. It is not the manner of our death that matters it is where we go after it. Heb 9:27
3. The “perishing” of the body and soul in hell is far worse than the most horrible of deaths. Matt 10:28.
Statement from the Free Presbyterian ministers in Co. Tyrone following the bombing of Omagh, issued on Saturday, 15th August at 10.30 p.m.
As ministers of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, we offer our heart-felt sympathy to all those who sorrow and grieve over the loss of loved ones and all those who are suffering from injuries, inflicted by the cruel and wicked act of republican murderers in our county town of Omagh today.
May the God of all mercy draw near to the broken-hearted and touch the broken bodies of those injured in hospital.
We condemn the murderous action of those who planted the bomb and who planned the maximising of the slaughter by deliberately misleading the security forces as to the location of the bomb and thus ensuring that many had gathered in the area of the explosion. Such cunning displays a satanic cruelty, unmatched in the long period of Ulster’s terrorist troubles.
We accuse our Government and in particular the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam, of pursuing a policy in Northern Ireland that has encouraged this atrocity and the many others that have gone before, by seeking to placate terrorism through immoral concessions such as the present early release of convicted terrorists. Yesterday’s murderous monsters have become today’s ministers-inwaiting! We have already heard words of condemnation from the lips of those politicians, who favour the release of convicted murderers and bombers, that are but an echo of the words employed to condemn the actions of those terrorists they are now determined to release.
Let the people of Ulster remember that, had this bombing taken place two or three years ago, the perpetrators of today’s atrocity in Omagh (if indeed they had been convicted and jailed) would now be on the list of republicans due for release under the terms of the “Peace Agreement.” The politicians who have supported the present policy of appeasement that underwrites the “Peace Agreement” cannot escape having blood on their hands after today’s evil. We would earnestly seek to warn the Protestant people not to be swept further from the teaching of the Bible by the wave of ecumenical propaganda that has already begun in the wake of the bombing.
Surely by now we must see that more of the same evil medicine that has brought such depravity on to our streets cannot possibly cure it! For over thirty years, we have been told that the abandonment of the Biblical creeds of the Protestant Reformation is the way forward to harmony and peace. Rather it has been the way that has led our Province into judgment. A return to God’s Word, rather than greater abandonment of it, is the way to peace and safety.
We call on all who love Christ in truth to humble themselves before God and pray for a spiritual awakening to be granted to this land. Perhaps, as the afflictions wrought upon the Israelites by the Midianites promoted repentance and a seeking of God and ultimately a return to obedience by Israel with its consequent blessings for the nation, the evil of this day’s tragedy will bring home to us all the need for a seeking of God with the whole heart. If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land, 2 Chronicles 7:14.
The synopsis of a sermon preached in Kilskeery Free Presbyterian Church on Sabbath evening, September 11th, 1994, By Rev Ivan Foster
(A warning issued 23 years ago of the deceit and lies at work on the subject of ‘peace’ in Ulster!!)
There are times when the finger must be pointed and the lie exposed. The cause of truth in a time of deception demands that a most vigorous witness be maintained. When there is a babble of voices proclaiming the lie the servant of God must be all the more strident in order to ensure that his voice rises above the lie. We live in just such a day. The fabric of national life is riddled with the woodworm of deception and falsehood. Politics, religion, business, every strata of the nation’s affairs is corrupted by untruths. A great deception is being wrought especially upon the Ulster people in the realm of religion and the constitutional future of our province.
1. It is deceitful to claim that no deal has been done with the IRA.
I say that on the basis of the past history of London’s dealing with us. There has not been a prime minister or secretary of state but has lied about us and to us. Deals have been done with the IRA before in Whitelaw’s time and again just recently by Major’s government. Both deals were strenuously denied at the time. I find no comfort in the assurances of Archbishop Eames. He is a perjurer par excellence. As a minister of the Church of Ireland he has broken his ordination oath repeatedly by his affiliations with Rome. His word is no bond.
I say it on the basis of the informed opinions of very many people. The press is filled with reports from those who have the inside track on such issues that indicates a deal.
I say it on the basis of the activities since the cease-fire was declared. They confirm the reports of the contents of the deal struck between Major and the IRA. Prisoners brought over to Ulster, IRA armed escape, in which a prison officer was shot and wounded, but which was deemed no breach of a ‘cease-fire’, army reducing its presence, border roads being opened. Newsletter reports – 10/9/94.
2. It is deceitful to say that the IRA cease-fire forms the basis of future peace.
A ceasing of terrorism is not the same as peace. Maybe if that was better understood there might not be the foolish tendency to swallow all the hyperbole uttered by the horde of deceivers that sit behind the microphones in the studios of the broadcasting media.
I wish to speak about the true nature and character of peace.
I. TRUE PEACE IS FOUND ONLY WHERE CHRIST IS OBEYED.
Lev 26:6. Peace was promised to Israel when she obeyed the Word of God. While there is a continuing of the rejection of God’s word that we witness today, there can be no peace in Ulster. The word peace means— safety, quiet, tranquillity, contentment. Do you see any of those characteristics braking out on the Falls or Shankill roads?
1. The disturber of peace is sin. The harmony, tranquillity and contentment of heaven was disturbed by Satan’s sin, II Peter 2:4. Sin ruined the peace of man in the Garden of Eden, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” Romans 5:12.
2. As long as sin rules in the heart there will be rebellion in the life and behaviour of men. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” Pro 23:7. Isaiah 57:20-21. The word ‘rest’ means peace, Joshua 11:23. For peace to prevail there must be obedience to God.
3. Obedience of the gospel is the first peaceable act man will perform. True obedience is accompanied by surrender to Christ, a yielding up of all arms and resistance. The gospel is God’s peace terms, Isaiah 1:18.
II. TRUE PEACE FLOURISHES ONLY WHERE CHRIST REIGNS.
Psalm 72:7. In the day of Christ peace shall abundantly flourish. The day spoken of here is a specific reference to the millennium reign of Christ upon the earth. But it is seen at least in part in that day when the sinner comes under the rule of Christ.
1. There is peace in the soul regarding the past. The pardon of all sins has brought peace.
2. There is peace in the soul regarding the present. Having God’s mercy rest upon you leaves you desiring no more. It is enough.
3. There is peace in the soul regarding the future. It is well with our souls.
III. TRUE PEACE FLOWS ONLY FROM CALVARY.
1. The blood of the cross is the basis of all peace. The blood-shedding of Christ dealt with the source of the sinner’s unrest — his war with God, Rom 5:10.
2. Peace is bestowed by the application of the blood to the heart of the sinner. Reconciled by the blood. Home of the Israelite marked by blood escaped judgment.
3. It is maintained by recourse to its cleansing power. I John 1:7-9. The sins of believers are dealt with by the blood. “My 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: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” I John 2:1-2. It is to the blood we look and to it alone for deliverance from sin and the unrest and strife that it creates.