Isa 44:6-8, 43:3-4 God's Purpose in Predestination 8/31/2003
#1. God's Purpose in Election (Isa 44:6-8, Rev 1:11, John 14:6, 6:44)
#2. God's Purpose in Reprobation (Isa 43:3-4, Prov 11:8, 16:4, 21:18)
#3. What Then Must We Preach? (Acts 20:26-31, 1Sam 2:6-8)
Please open your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians 1:3 (2X). The title of the present sermon is "God's Purpose in Predestination" (2X). This is sermon #3 in a series for which I have found a name. This series is called "The Wisdom of God". We must be very careful students of the Bible when we dare to speak about The Wisdom of God. God does not like to be misrepresented.
When we speak about the Wisdom of God, do we dare to speak about God's Purpose in Predestination? Is Predestination in the Bible? Of course it is. The passage that speaks most plainly about Predestination is here in Ephesians in chapters 1, and 2, and 3. We read in Eph 1:3-6,
Eph 1:3 ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Eph 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Eph 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
This passage tells us that God has a people for Himself, whom God has chosen to be holy and without blame before Him, and God made that choice before the foundation of the world. It means that God predestinated those people to become saved. It also means that the sin of Adam and Eve did not catch God by surprise, although God was not the author of that sin. Was God aware that there would come into existence many other people whom God would not choose to be saved? Absolutely yes! God does not become wiser as time moves along, because God is already infinitely wise. Therefore, we see that God's Counsel concerning Predestination must be split up in two parts: #1 God's Counsel concerning Election and #2 God's Counsel concerning Reprobation. The first sermon in this series on the Wisdom of God was titled: "God's Eternal Purpose for This Creation". It is God's eternal purpose that all the Elect end up with God in the NH&NE, and all the Reprobate end up with Satan in Hell. This entire plan existed in the mind of God at any time before the foundation of the world. The second sermon in this series on the Wisdom of God was titled: "The Providence of God", or "the hands of God". God's Providence is working out all those things that God in His Counsel before the foundation of the world has determined to do. God's hands are going to finish what God already purposed to do in His mind. And God does that without making any of us robots.
I have been asked several times by different people: "Pastor, why do you speak so much about Election and about Predestination?" The answer is given here in verse 6: "To the praise of the glory of his grace". The glory of God's grace is being praised when we speak about Election. God likes it when we speak about Election, because it brings praise to the glory of the Gospel of grace. And thus it brings glory to the Lord Jesus Christ when we give Him all the credit for our salvation, because "He must increase and we must decrease". He must be lifted up as high as we possibly can with the information that we have received from the Word of God, the Bible. That is why we praise so much God's business of Election. Hereby God will get all the glory. This is the way it should be.
Why did I call this series The Wisdom of God? It bears this name because God in Christ is the Master Builder, who is in the process of constructing a project of infinite beauty. Presently we are only allowed to see a glimpse of the beauty of God's handiwork, as it is revealed to us in the Bible. From what is revealed to us we can already see the Wisdom of God on display. God's plan as conceived in the mind of God before the foundation of the world is being worked out. I can represent it as a big jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces fit harmoniously together as one unit. Everything is connected to everything else, and therefore to lift out one piece of the puzzle and elevate it by itself is an insult to God. That is why I must preach about all the pieces of the puzzle, and show how they intermesh with each other. For example we cannot speak about Heaven without speaking also about Hell. We cannot speak about Election without also speaking about Reprobation. We cannot speak about the Grace of God without also speaking about the Sin of man. We cannot speak about the Love of God without also speaking about the Wrath of God. We cannot speak about Blessings without speaking also about Cursings. And so on. I hope I will be able to give you a good overview of the entire tapestry that God is weaving. Please turn now to the Prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 44:1 (2X).
In the first sermon of this series I have touched on the mind of God in Isa 46:9-11, where God says that He is the One who is declaring the end from the beginning. In the second sermon of this series I have touched on the hands of God in Isa 45:6-8, where God says that He is the One who forms the light and creates darkness, and He is the One who makes peace and creates evil circumstances. In the third sermon, which is today, we are introduced to Isa 44 and Isa 43, where God introduces us to the concepts of Election and Reprobation. Today we read in Isa 44:1,
Isa 44:1 ¶ Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:
Isa 44:2 Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun (= Israel), whom I have chosen.
Can you see that God again speaks about Election? But who are God's Elect? All the Jews? No way! God's Elect are all the people for whom Christ suffered and died on the cross, because we read in Matt 1:21, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins". If this means that His people are "the Jews", then WE would have no portion in the Atonement of Christ. But the nation of Israel remained mostly unsaved throughout time. We read in Heb 3 that God was not pleased with them, because they had an evil heart of unbelief, and in Jer 14:11, we read, "Pray not for this people", … and, "I will not hear their cry", and in Gal 4:25 we read that "Jerusalem which now is, is in bondage with her children", and so on. There are many, many references which indicate that the nations of Israel and Judah were for the most part unsaved throughout time. Why then did God write here and there so lovingly to the nations of Judah and Israel? Why then did God write about the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt as If He had saved them? God did that because in the history of the nations of Judah and Israel God was setting up types and figures of the NT body of believers, the true Bride of Christ, for whom the Lord Jesus suffered and died on the cross. Thus the deliverance of the thirteen tribes out of Egypt in the year 1447 BC was a grandiose picture of what salvation really is. Also here in verses 3 and 4 God gives a picture of salvation of the NT body of believers,
Isa 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
Isa 44:4 And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.
Here again are types and figures of salvation in the NT era. Who is thirsty for the water of the Gospel? No one! God says, "There is NONE that seeketh after God" (Rom 3:11). If being thirsty for salvation is a condition for God to pour the Gospel upon people, then No One will ever become saved By nature we are enemies of God and "by nature we are children of the wrath of God, even as others" (Eph 2:3). But God has mercy on His Elect, which are those whom He has chosen to become saved. Therefore at some point in their life God has given them a new soul, which causes them to repent of their sins, and to be drawn to believe the Gospel of Christ crucified for their sins, when they hear it. This is the meaning of God pouring water upon him that is thirsty. God pours "floods upon the dry ground" so that the once dry soul is beginning to blossom and bring forth spiritual fruit in abundance. This is the evidence of God's mercy on His Elect. But now, let us look at:
#1. God's Purpose in Election (Isa 44:6-8, Rev 1:11, John 14:6, 6:44)
First, let us understand what God is saying here in verses 6, 7 and 8.
Isa 44:6 Thus saith Jehovah the King of Israel, and his Redeemer (= Kinsman) Jehovah of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Isa 44:7 And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? And the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.
Isa 44:8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I "told thee" from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God (= Rock); I know not any.
Verse 6 is of interest when we want to witness that Jehovah of the OT is here described as at least two Persons: There is a Person who is called "Jehovah the King of Israel". "And", and the word "And" is really there in the Hebrew text. The second Person is called "His Redeemer (= Kinsman) Jehovah of hosts". God the Son became our Kinsman by taking on a human body. Both the first person and the second person are called Jehovah, and they are clearly two distinct persons. This is nothing new in the NT, but it is unusual to find such a reference to the Triune God in the OT. When God says in verse 6, "I am the first, and I am the last", we are reminded of the words of Christ in Rev 1:11 when He said: "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last". Without any doubt, the Lord Jesus Christ claimed here to be one and the same as Jehovah of the OT. Thus when God says in Isa 44:6, "And beside Me there is no God", we must interpret this in the words of Isa 43:11, where Jehovah says, "And beside Me there is no Savior". Do we really believe this? Which Savior is this verse referring to? Do we believe this Savior when He says, "No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6), and He also said, "No man CAN come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him" (John 6:44). This is a Savior who accepts no compromise in the way we come to Him; therefore no compromise in believing what the Bible says about salvation. This is a Savior who is insulted and sends people to Hell if anyone worships a different God than whom the Bible proclaims. Is this really the Savior whom we worship? Or do we like to compromise because we have a family member, or a good friend, or a son who believes differently? Paraphrased God says, "Watch out".
This warning is also sounded in verse 7, where God says: "And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me?" God calls His Elect, & His special call to salvation is irresistable and effective, because God has declared it so from the beginning. And God appointed the ancient people for His purposes, a people like the ancient Chinese, or the ancient Indians, or the ancient Egyptians, and so on, who were not called to salvation, and they remained unsaved, because God has declared it so from the beginning. There is no one among the gods of the people of the world who is so powerful as the God of the Bible. God warns us that we must not worship other gods.
Now we read in our KJ Bibles in verse 8, "have not I told thee from that time?". This is a fairly liberal translation. Literally the Hebrew text says, "Have not I made you hear from that time?" Which time is God referring to? God is referring to the moment in time that He infused into us a new soul, which was the time that we were "Born Again". It was at that time that God gave us spiritual ears to hear. God made us hear the Gospel. That is why the words following this say, "Ye are even My witnesses". When God has made us hear, God also commands us to be witnesses of the Good News. This is one of God's purposes for saving His Elect people, so that they be His witnesses.
Then in the second half of verse 8 we read, "Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God (= Rock); I know not any". That second word translated "God" is actually the word "Rock". Here, like in many other places in the Bible, God uses the symbol of a great big Rock as a metaphor for God, indicating that God is as solid as a Rock. He can be depended on. What He has said in the Bible is true and will absolutely come to pass. That is why we have to read the Bible very carefully.
Please turn in your Bibles a few pages to your left, to Isa 42:8 (2X). There we read:
Here is another purpose in Election. When people are born into this world they all are born "dead in trespasses and sins". We all were that way at one time. Our conduct was according to the course of this world, and according to the prince of the power of the air, Satan. We all were obedient servants of Satan. That was our nature. Therefore we were by nature children of the wrath of God, even as others who never become saved. Is it possible that any good act can come out of such a wicked person? Is it possible that any of these children of wrath will of themselves repent and turn to the Lord Jesus? Absolutely not! That is not possible, because God says in Job 14:4, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one". How then can anyone be saved? Humanly speaking it is impossible. But God is able to do what we cannot do for ourselves. When Christ suffered and died for us on the cross in AD 33, and when God makes us "Born Again" in our lifetime we will, in our gratitude, give God all the credit and all the glory for saving us. That is why we read in Isa 42:8,
Isa 42:8 I am Jehovah: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
Look at the context. God says this in the context of the Lord Jesus Christ saving His people. Christ saved us when He hung on the cross and when He cried victoriously, "It is finished". Christ did all the work for our salvation. We did nothing! When anyone claims that they are saved because they have accepted Christ as their Savior, they are usurping the glory that belongs to God alone. Nobody is able to accept Christ, because we all were dead in trespasses and sins. Only if God chooses to save us can we be saved. There is no other way to salvation than this. "No man CAN come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him". That is why God says, "my glory will I not give to another". We cannot accept Christ. He must accept us. If God had not elected us from before the foundation of the world, we would never believe the Gospel, and we would never be saved.
But we do believe, and thereby we do show the signs that God saved us. God elected us for the purpose so that all people who belong to the Body of Christ shall be gathered together in perfect unity under the one head, Christ, and also that all creation shall be most intimately united with God in the NH&NE. In Christ, God joins Himself most intimately with us through the bond of the Covenant. In Christ, God's tabernacle will be spread over us and we will forever be glorified. Then the glorified creation shall eternally lie close to God's heart in Christ Jesus. Therefore, God's Counsel of Predestination assumes a pivotal place, around which all the rest revolves, and in which all finds its unity, according to the all-wise Counsel of God. Let us now look at the other side of the coin:
#2. What was God's Purpose in Reprobation (Isa 43:3-4, Prov 11:8, 16:4, 21:18)
What is the place of Reprobation in all of this? God has chosen some as well as reprobated others. This is most clearly demonstrated in Isa 43:3-4. Please turn one page to your right to Isa 43:3,
Isa 43:3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
Isa 43:4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
In the first example God referred to the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt in 1447 BC.
The children of Israel were slaves in Egypt for many generations and were subject to severe bondage and genocide. This was physical bondage and physical genocide. But we should apply this to the spiritual bondage to sin and Satan wherein we all were subject to from the time we were born, until the time God set us free by making us Born Again. And we committed spiritual genocide by dragging our children with us into the worship of false gospels. But then Christ set us free at the time of our spiritual rebirth, which can be compared with the time of the Exodus out of Egypt in 1447 BC. God delivered all the children of Israel out of Egypt, not leaving one behind. This demonstrates that God will save all His Elect, not leaving one behind. And remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is also called Israel. Therefore we, who belong to Christ, are also called Israel. And then God said, "I gave Egypt for thy ransom". God is saying here that in order for Israel to be delivered, God had to abandon Egypt and leave Egypt in the hands of Satan. This happened both physically and spiritually. Physically perhaps 10% to 20% of Egypt was struck dead when the Angel of the Lord went through the land of Egypt on the night of Passover. But from the spiritual vantage point we see that God led Israel to Mount Horeb where they received the Covenant of God, and then God led them through the wilderness of this world to the Promised Land. On the other hand Egypt was totally abandoned by anyone who was associated with Jehovah. The Egyptians were left to die in their sins, they will stand before God's Judgment throne on the Last Day, and they will all be cast into Hell. But Egypt served their purpose of enslaving and murdering the children of Israel, which they did gladly. Israel had to be brought low before God would raise them up. Israel had to become slaves as a perfect picture of the salvation that God had in mind. This is how God generally operates. First He brings us low before He raises us up. Israel was here a picture of the Elect and Egypt was a picture of the Reprobate.
Why did God leave the Reprobate in their sin and misery? We come to the conclusion that reprobation exists in order that election may be realized. God loves His people with an infinite love. In His great love He determined to lead them to the glory He had appointed for them in Christ. This includes suffering and persecution, because persecution is of great value to the growth of the church. Therefore, if God determined to attain this greatest glory and lead the Elect into it, it was necessary for Him to create the Reprobate. And so the Potter does with the clay as He pleases and according to His Wisdom. God makes vessels unto dishonor in accordance to His appointment. God sovereignly destined some to destruction, but never as if this reprobation is based on foreseen sin. Reprobation, like Election is entirely and sovereignly free. And Reprobation is not an equivalent counterpart of Election. Reprobation serves Election. You could say: They gave their lives that we might live.
Now look now at Isa 43:4 where we see God's motive. God says, "Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life". In order to lead His people to the highest possible glory in His eternal inheritance, God has to give up other people in their place. This is how great His love is for His Elect. Please turn about 100 pages to you left, to the Proverbs of Solomon, chapter 11:8 (2X). You find Proverbs right after Psalms. Here God applies what He proclaimed in Isa 43:4, "therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life". God says in Prov 11:8,
Pr 11:8 ¶ The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.
For example at the Red Sea Israel was in deep trouble. They were about to be destroyed by the Egyptian army. But God arranged it so that Israel was delivered out of trouble and Pharaoh and his entire army were destroyed. Now look at Prov 21:18. This again is an application of the love of God for His Elect as expressed by Isa 43:4, "therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life".
Pr 21:18 ¶ The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.
We cannot question the Wisdom of God in all these arrangements, but according to the Bible, here is the purpose of Reprobation. Therefore we agree with God when He says in Prov 16:4,
Pr 16:4 ¶ The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. (2X)
Please turn again to the Prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 49:24 (2X). God does not forget any sin. The wages of sin is death, and the death that God has in view is an eternity in a place called Hell. God s:
God avenges every sin. Here is a passage that refers to the deliverance of the Elect by Christ on the cross, and this passage also refers to the just penalty of the Reprobate in Hell:
Isa 49:24 ¶ Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?
Isa 49:25 But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty (= Satan) shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible (= Satan) shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.
Isa 49:26 And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.
God reveals His righteousness also in rewarding the reprobate what they deserve. The reprobate do not serve the salvation of the Elect willingly, but as godless, wicked criminals. For this reason they become guilty in serving this purpose, and are worthy of condemnation. Thus, in serving God's purpose they become ripe for Hell. The best example of this is in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. For the glorification of the Elect, the blood of the Savior must flow. But if His blood must flow there must be a wicked and reprobate world to shed it. There must be a Judas who betrays Him. There must be a Sanhedrin that condemns Him. There must be a godless Roman power that brings Him to the cross. And in all this the Reprobate serve to glorify the Elect. Without that ungodly world the event of the cross cannot be imagined. But at the same time, in crucifying the Savior through which the world serves to glorify the Elect, the world becomes ripe for condemnation. The ungodly shall be righteously condemned, in sin having served God's Counsel.
At this point let me summarize what we have learned so far. Predestination includes God's Counsel concerning Election as well as God's Counsel concerning Reprobation. This is to fulfill God's eternal purpose for this creation. Election is that decree of God by which He sovereignly and freely, out of pure grace, without respect to merits, chose to give some a place with Christ in eternal glory. The primary purpose is the glorification of God. The motive is His deepest love. Reprobation is the decree of God in which He has determined, as sovereignly as in Election, that some individuals should not enter eternal glory, but are destined for eternal condemnation. Why has God reprobated some? God did that because He loved His Elect so much that He was willing to give up people for the glory of the Elect. Reprobation exists in order that Election may be realized. Reprobation is a divine necessity. The reprobate are in a certain sense the price which God pays for the higher glory of His E
Now we have come to point #3, and you know what that means. This is the Application.
#3. What Then Must We Preach? (Acts 20:26-31, 1Sam 2:6-8)
We must preach the whole counsel of God. Please put a sticker here in Isaiah and please turn to the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 20:26 (2X). In this passage the Apostle Paul is speaking to the elders of the church at Ephesus. This was a church where Paul had served at least three years. This was also the city where Diana of the Ephesians was worshipped. The Apostle Paul says here to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:26,
Ac 20:26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.
Ac 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
Is it not amazing that Paul says here that he is not guilty from the blood of all men? As the former Saul of Tarsus, the Pharisee, he was responsible for the death and torture of many Christians. But that is not what he is talking about here in Acts 20. Paraphrased, Paul says that he is not guilty of leading anyone to Hell. For what reason does He say that? He says in verse 27, "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God". This is how we must preach when we bring the gospel to the heathen. We must declare the whole counsel of God. We may not shove the wrath of God under the carpet. We may not leave out Election. And when we talk about Election we must also talk about reprobation. According to Eph 1:6, God is glorified when we speak about Election. According to Rom 9:17-21 God is glorified when we speak about reprobation. Then the Apostle says:
A 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Ac 20:29-30 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Ac 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
We are called to feed the church of God with those things that are in the Bible, not hesitating to speak about anything that is mentioned in the Word of God. Paul warns the Ephesian elders that out of their midst shall men arise who will not preach the whole Counsel of God, but they will leave one or two things out to make their gospel more attractive for evangelism. But the Apostle warns us that such preachers are ”speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them". Our God is an omnipotent God, and He reigns absolutely sovereign. For example, God says in 1Sam 2:6-8,
1Sa 2:6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.
1Sa 2:7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
1Sa 2:8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them.
These words speak without any ambiguity about God's sovereignty over life or death. But our God is not a ruthless dictator. The reason for reprobating people is God's love for His Elect. Please turn again to the Prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 43:1 (2X), and read here about:
In the same passge where God speaks about the reprobate, God speaks about His great love for His Elect people. God says in Isa 43:1-2,
Isa 43:1 ¶ But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
Isa 43:2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
It does not mean that Christians cannot be burned at the stake. History proves that thousands of true believers have been martyred and have been burned at the stake. But it means that God is with us anywhere we go, and our salvation is not in danger even when we are burned at the stake. When we read about this love of God for His people, we are drawn to reflect on the Wisdom of God as stated in Rom 11:33-36,
Ro 11:33 ¶ O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
Ro 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
Ro 11:35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
Ro 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Think about these things: "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things". We worship a God who is infinitely wise, and infinitely powerful, and infinitely loving toward His Elect.
Amen. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.