A More Important Word
The most important news you can hear each and every morning isn’t found on any cable news program, and it’s not found through any online news outlet. The most important news you need to start your day is never on Fox News or CNN or WYFF or in the Greenville News. The most important commentary for your day isn’t found on social media or on your favorite podcast or talk radio show. The most important news you need at the start of each and every day is found in the pages of Scripture.
More important than the words of any news commentator is the word of God to man in Scripture, and therefore we need to let that word set the course of our day more than anything else. This is just as true for the words of Jesus in the Gospels, and the words of God through Paul in his epistles, and the words of exhortation throughout the New Testament, as it is for Old Testament history and the words of the prophets of Israel.
I’m writing this post shortly after my time alone with God on a Friday morning in early January. For at least the first few months of 2023, I’ve decided to slowly read through and study the book of Isaiah, and this morning I found myself reading the word of the Lord in Isaiah 2:6–22.
Isaiah 2 begins with the promise of a coming day when the house of the Lord will be lifted in the sight of all, when all the nations shall come to worship God, but Isaiah quickly pivots to warn his readers about that coming day. It is a day for God’s people to anticipate, but it is also a day of judgment, and Isaiah’s message is one of warning: if you’re not truly connected to God by faith, that day will be a day of judgment for you as well.
The people of Israel and Judah had been living with such pride that they only considered that day as a day of God’s judgment against their enemies, ignoring the fact that many of them were also living as God’s enemies themselves. Instead of walking “in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5), they were walking in the way of the nations around them. Instead of being filled with the things of God, they were filled with the ways of those who opposed God (Isaiah 2:6). They were filled with and trusting in their riches and military might (Isaiah 2:7), and all of this amounted to being filled with idolatry (Isaiah 2:8): they trusted in the work of their hands instead of trusting in the Lord. Therefore, the coming day of the Lord should be a day for them to fear, not to anticipate. God would come to judge his enemies, and by the way they were living, that meant them as well.
The day of the Lord is “against all that is proud and lofty” (Isaiah 2:12). On that day, “all the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted on that day. And the idols shall utterly pass away” (Isaiah 2:17–18). Everything that we have trusted in over and against God will be brought down.
The message of Isaiah 2 is that pride is the universal sin problem, and it inevitably leads to idolatry, and we are not immune. In light of the coming day of the Lord, the coming day of judgment, this is a warning. The people of Judah were not to assume that simply because they were born into the nation that had the temple, that had the Law, that had the promises, that they were safe from judgment. Isaiah warned the people of Israel and Judah that they were in danger of facing the judgment of God if they didn’t live by faith and repentance. And the same is true for us. We’re not to assume that simply because we were born in a culture that is still somewhat culturally “Christian” or that because we were born into a family that goes to church, that we’re right with God. No one is saved by her own family lineage, or his own works or effort, but only by God through faith in Christ (see John 1:12–13).
Therefore the question is, are we living by faith in Christ resulting in repentance? Like the people Isaiah warned in his day, do our lives look like the world around us, or are they being shaped and formed by God and God’s Word? Are we following the ways of the nations (even our nation), or are we following the way of God in Christ?
This morning, a prophet from 2,700 years ago reminded me that the most important word I need to start my day can’t come from the world, it comes from God.
I don’t need to begin my day by being shaped by anyone other than God. More important for my day today is not the latest word on a sports team that I follow, or the latest news on national or international events. It’s not the latest word on politics that’s often only designed to get me to live in anger at one side and in blind trust of the other. It’s not the latest cultural commentary that I can find in spades on social media. More important for my day today is the word of God, including the word that God spoke through Isaiah to the people of Judah around 740 BC.
Isaiah ended this section of his vision recorded in chapter two with these words: “Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:22). That’s a good word for us today. May we stop regarding the word of man, the opinions of man, the ways of man, and may we live as those who live by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.