Isaiah 43 - 44:23
Dr. S. Lewis Johnson expounds the section of Isaiah's prophecy that describes the purpose of God's salvation of the saints.
[Prayer] Father we thank Thee for the privilege of the study of the word of God and we especially now thank Thee for the prophecy of Isaiah, for the great words which many centuries ago the Prophet wrote concerning the dealings that Thou didst have with Israel of old.
We thank Thee that these things are also the assurance of the ways in which Thou does deal with us today and that the same power that Thou didst manifest in their deliverance is available for us except that we have seen a greater demonstration of it in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. May in the affairs of our daily lives the truth that we study become a reality and the means of spiritual victory for us. We commit each one present to Thee for Thy blessing upon them in Jesus name, Amen.
[Message] Returning tonight to the 43rd chapter of the Prophecy of Isaiah and we are going to cover through chapter 44 and verse 5, and the subject is “After Discipline: Deliverance.” And just a word of review so that we will be sure to have the historical background of this section in mind, remember the historical background of chapters 40 through 66 is that of the Babylonian captivity and that captivity began in 605 B.C. by one chronological counting and ended in 535 B.C. when some of the exiles returned again to the city of Jerusalem.
Isaiah is a prophet and so he writes in the light of the future. He prophesized of things that shall take place 150 years after his time, for he lived and wrote in the eight century and was probably wrote these chapters around 700 B.C. So he is writing of events that are going to transpire 150 years in the future. Israel will be in captivity, they are not yet in captivity but they shall be in captivity than in Babylon. And he describes their release from the Babylonian captivity but also in his prophecy goes beyond the local return to the city of Jerusalem and rights of their ultimate return which is still future to us when they are restored to Jerusalem from the four corners of the earth. So their return to Babylon is the background of the prophecies of the book, which go on far beyond not only Isaiah’s day and Israel’s day but even beyond our day in the 20th Century. They look into the future when God shall bring Israel from the four corners of the earth back into their land. In God’s history for he controls all of history there is a pattern by which he works and over and over again we see this. So Isaiah writes as a prophet.
Now of course if we believe that it is impossible for anyone to prophesy then of course we cannot believe that Isaiah is writing of things 150 years before his time, but if we only allow that the prophet really was a prophet. It is of no essential consequence to which age he belonged and if he had belonged to the age 1,500 years before their return, he could prophesy of it if we grant that he is a prophet and that therefore he can write of the future by the inspiration of God. Remember we said that the theme of these last 27 chapters of the Book of Isaiah is the good news of the divine deliverance and its clarion cry is that statement of chapter 40 verse 9 in which Isaiah is told, “O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get Thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!”
Now we said that in the time of our Lord this prophecy came to pass in measure. Its greatest fulfillment of course will be when Jesus Christ comes again at his second coming to the earth and then there shall be the final cry which fulfills the prophecies of Isaiah, Behold your God. The appeal of these 27 chapters is for Israel to repent that they may experience the deliverance of God. We also pointed out that the 27 chapters fall into three nice divisions of nine chapters each 40 through 48 and the key statement, which marks off the divisions, is the last statement of each one of the nine chapters.
For example, if you look at chapter 48 verse 22, which is the first section of nine chapters, it ends with the refrain, There is no peace, saith the Lord unto the wicked, and then in the next division, chapter 49 through chapter 57, in the last verse of chapter 57 we have the same referring,
“There is no peace, saith my God to the wicked and the third division of nine chapters concludes the book and while the precise refrain is not mentioned, you can see that it is of the same essence. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched and they shall be an abhorrence unto all flesh. There is no peace, saith my God unto the wicked.”
So we have three divisions of nine chapters each and three times nine as even an adult knows is 27, so 40 through 48 is the first section of this last great division of the Book of Isaiah and the subject is the termination of the Babylonian affliction.
When we reach chapter 49 and go through chapter 57 the subject changes slightly and it is the expiation of guilt by the servant of Jehovah. And we saw last time that the servant of Jehovah was our Lord Jesus himself and the greatest revelation of his ministry is still to come and the last division contains the story of the exaltation of Israel and the inauguration of the Kingdom of God. We said that chapter 40 in verse 2 contains all three parts of the last of the Book of Isaiah, “Speak ye tenderly to Jerusalem and crying unto her, that her warfare is accomplished.” That is the termination of Babylonian affliction, that her iniquity is pardoned, that is the expiation of guilt by the servant of Jehovah, “For she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins and that speaks of the blessing that will follow when the kingdom comes.
Now then a couple of weeks ago, we looked at chapter 40 and remember in that chapter, God through the prophet pointed out to the nation Israel that he was the one true sovereign God. Then in the 41st chapter he called the nations to the bar we read in verse 1 of chapter 41, Let us come together to judgment. He called the nations, the islands, the coastlands to come near and listen to his voice and he spoke to the gentiles and he said to them, I am ye, I am the one true sovereign God. Then in chapter 42 in our last study, we saw that the prophet introduced us to the person who is going to accomplish all of these great blessings for Israel and he called him the Servant of Jehovah; he will achieve Israel’s salvation.
And then he went on in the latter part of the book to describe the moral meaning of Israel’s discipline. The reason that Israel was in captivity was because they have not responded to the word of God and as is often necessary, God sent his son Israel into the captivity on order that they might be disciplined, that they might learn of him but it took them 70 years to learn anything and some did not learn then. And he concludes the chapter; remember in verse 24 by saying, “Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? Did not the Lord, he against whom we have sinned? For they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.”
You know if we had 50 minutes to talk to Christians, we would not exhaust the significance of these words. Often the things that happen to us in our Christian life are attempts of God, remember, to get our attention. But when we disobey God, when we move away from his word, when we do not listen to his voice, we’ll know Him, we who belong to him by a covenant. It is necessary for God to discipline us. Oh, I am so thankful for discipline, you know why? Because it means I am his son. He doesn’t discipline someone else’s sons; he disciplines his own sons.
And Israel was his chosen nation and when they rebelled, when they would not listen to the word, when they became indifferent to the truth of God, it was necessary for the Father to take out the razor strop, and so he sent them ultimately into captivity for 70 years but he adds these plaintive words, Yet they laid it not to heart. So often, when God has been speaking to us, making it difficult for us, we’ve tried to rationalize, though it is not anything wrong really. It is just one of those things that has come into my life in order to teach me something positively. It is not that anything is really wrong and so often we will not face the fact that we maybe out of fellowship with God. It is true suffering comes from many sources. It may come simplify to glorify God, it may come to educate us, to make us a deeper kind of Christian than we’ve ever been before but often it comes to correct us and we should not forget that and Israel’s captivity came because God wanted to correct them.
Well now in chapter 43, he expresses, roman 1 in our outline, his purpose of redemptive restoration for Israel. You can see the prophet over and over speaking of Israel’s disobedience and he cannot speak of their disobedience without ultimately coming again to those wonderful promises of restoration. There are two parts to this section, the first 13 verses in capital A, I have put it up here alliteratively for you, his perpetual attitude as it is expressed in verses 1 through 7 and then his present aim as expressed in verses 8 through 13. These are the two parts of the section.
Notice that he begins with, “but now.” Now this but now is his sudden weep from reproach to consolation. After all if you do whip the saints too much they might get discouraged and so consequently amid his words of rebuke there are these glorious promises of restoration, But now, But in spite of the fact that they have had to go into discipline, But now saith the Lord who created Thee, O Jacob, and you form the O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed Thee, I have called Thee by Thy name; Thou art mine. Now you will notice that there are three movements in these verses, verses 1 through 7. First of all, the author looks at the past and on the basis of the past speaks to them in the present, Fear not. Notice the Fors, in verse 1, For I have redeemed Thee, verse 3, For I am the Lord, Thy God, verse 5 fear not, For I am with Thee, verse 7, Every one who is called by my name even every one who is called by my name: for I have created him. Now Fors of course give the reasons for the preceding statements and you’ll notice that as he speaks about the past and how it merges into the present he speaks about things that he has done and on the basis of which he will do other things. Now notice, “But now thus saith the Lord who created Thee, O Jacob, and he who formed Thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed Thee, I have called Thee by Thy name, Thou art mine.”
Now on the basis of what I have done for you, I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name, 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 shall not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon Thee. So on the basis of what he has done for them in the past, they may look to the future with confidence. It is a great principle in that too you know. If there was a day when you did not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, when you did not care, when you were overly indifferent or even unconscious of God as I was. And God has come into your life, when you were unconscious of him, did not care, did not come because you were good, came in spite of what you were, and caused you to see him, respond to him, come to know him, brought you life everlasting, and relationship to God.
Now because he has done that, then you may look to the future without fear. If he has done all of these things for you, they are the greatest things that he could do it, are they not. Well then for the daily affairs of life as they meet you day-by-day, they are surely less than those things, the one who has redeemed you from Sheol, from the power of Satan from hellfire surely, the one who has done that much for you when you were his enemy will do these little lesser things of providing for you day-by-day, now that you belong to him. So, you see on the basis of what he has done, we may look into the future with confidence. But Israel has become so hardened, the God has to remind them of what he has done, he created them.
What does he means, when he says in verse 1, “For I have, he who formed thee or rather who created Thee O Jacob.” When did God create Israel? Well, of course, he is not speaking about Genesis 1 when he created Adam. He is talking about Israel, Abraham, right. He is talking about the day when he appeared to Abraham and Ur of the Chaldees, as Abrahamic or as Luke expresses it through the mouth of Steven. The God of glory appeared to Abraham and Ur of Chaldees. That was the time when he created Israel, by his word and by his promise that came to Abraham, their forefather.
Then he states, “And he who formed thee O Israel.” Now, we cannot be absolutely positive here. But, I think that this is a reference to his formation of the seventy members of the family of Jacob when they went down into Egypt into a great nation, for it was in Egypt that they became a great nation. So, he reminds them of Abraham, and how he created them in the call of Abraham, how he formed them into a great nation when they were in Egypt. And then he says, For I have redeemed Thee. What does he mean by that? Well, he means of course the deliverance from Egypt by virtue of the Passover and the Dead Sea deliverance. When they put the blood on the doorpost, and escaped the judgment of the destroying angel which caused Pharaoh finally to allow them to go forth. And then when they went out to the Red Sea, and God parted the waters, and they went through the Red Sea, with water on each side, and water above them, in the crowd, and completely encased in water, like an ancient baptism and came out on the other side, that was typical of their redemption. By blood and by power, and everybody is redeemed by blood and by power.
We are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross, for it is the blood that pays for our sins, that removes all of the penalty of sin, and it is the power of God, which on the basis of the blood brings us to new life, that creates us anew, gives us a new nature, makes us the children of God, makes us to stand before God perfectly righteous, puts us in the family of God. We are redeemed by blood and we are redeemed by power just as Israel was here. So they have a great history, and because they have a great history, they have a great future. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee.
When the Lord Jesus was here, some of the miracles, which he performed were miracles that were designed to stress to Israel in a new way, the experiences of the Old Testament days. For you see, it was our Lord, who led Israel out of Egypt. He was the Jehovah of the Old Testament. What better way to express to Israel when he was here that he was Jehovah, and their God than to perform miracles that should have reminded them of the power of their great God in the Old Testament, the God who brought them through the Red Sea.
You think that God is the kind of God who could still a storm? Well of course, that kind of God can still a storm. If he can cause the Red Sea to part, he has control of the waters. Do you think a God like that can walk on the water, oh yes, he can walk on the water too. Did you know by the way, I think I referred to this about three weeks ago? Did you know that that Passover time, this ritual that Israel used in the time of our Lord was a ritual that contains such texts as Isaiah chapter 43 in verse 2, When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee. That was designed to remind Israel down through the centuries that the God, whom they celebrated in the Passover supper was the God who did bring them through the Red Sea at that time.
Do you think it was an accident that at the close of the Passover day, it was Passover time I should say, at the close of that Passover season, Jesus should feed the 5,000 and then send the disciples across the Sea of Galilee, and when they were in the midst of the storm, should come to them walking on the water? Do you think that was an accident? No, that wasn’t an accident. Do you know why he did that? He wanted them to make the connection. He wanted them to realize that he was the Jehovah of the Old Testament. He was their God. He wanted them to see in this that the same God who brought them through the Red Sea is this God who walks on the water.
Now, what did he say when he met them? Fear not! Fear not! Even uses the terms that Isaiah uses. Fear not! And then do you remember what he said? “It is I.” What did he say? It is I. Well he said it is I, because “it is I” is Jehovah. That’s his little signature. If you ask who is the God, who is the God of Israel, he says I am who I am. I am. Now what did Jesus say to the apostles? Well really in the Greek text, that’s what he said, I am. He did everything he possibly could to get them to make the connection, you see. So, here in the Old Testament, think of what I have done for you and now know that I can do this for you in the future. By the way Christians, if God has spiritually created us, formed us as a new creation of God, redeemed us, brought us out by blood and power, now what about those little problems of life? What about those little difficulties? What about those perplexities? They are real. They are often very difficult to bear. They are often productive of all kinds of tears and anguish as we go through the experience but we can be sure that he is going to bring us through to the other side.
This past weekend, I was preaching is Houston. I went down to a church barbeque on Saturday afternoon at the Bethel Independent Presbyterian Church in Houston. I always accept that kind of an invitation. I just love barbeque. But we had a wonderful meeting and quite a few were there who were not Christians. And, I had the chance to preach salvation is of the Lord. Preached on the second chapter of Jonah. You heard me, speak on it here. And the Lord really blessed the word.
And then Sunday morning, I spoke on this changing world and the unchanging Christ, Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever. And Sunday night, I talked about the Everlasting Covenant and I got some interesting responses too by the way. The Everlasting Covenant, but last night I went to a home in which I had gone last but two years ago, when I went down for the same weekend conference. But this Sunday night a big difference in that home, the last two years ago they had an 18-year-old son, a real fine young man. Had an outstanding Christian testimony in his high school. As a matter of fact, he was chosen to be president of the senior class of the high school.
But in December he had been killed in an automobile accident. 20 years of age, a student at the University of Texas. It was not his fault. He was driving down the right side of the road. It was on a free way. He was going about 60 miles an hour but coming down the same side on the wrong side was a drunk in a car also going about 60 miles an hour and they hit head-on. He was killed and someone else was killed. When I went into that home last night, it was really a thrill. And I talked to his mother, she took me over to the side of their den and over there was framed a prayer. It was a beautiful prayer, and there was also a picture by it. It was a picture of the graduation of the high school players and this boy was dressed in his academic garb and this was the prayer that he prayed, a wonderful Christian prayer, really a genuine Christian prayer and then to hear mother and father speak about the fact without any sense of sentimentality without tears in their eyes, speak about how they had recognized that the hand of God was in this.
And I know that it must have hurt them an awful lot and it was still recent enough to admit a great deal to them. But I saw again what Jesus Christ really means to people in the trials of life and to be assured of his love, because of what he has done for us in the past; that’s the greatest thing in the world for the future. When Thy passest through the waters I will be with Thee and through the rivers they shall not overflow Thee. They may come right up to the neck but they shall not over flow Thee. When Thy walk us through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon Thee. Well now if the past merges into the present in the fifth verse the present assures us of the future. “For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy one of Israel thy Savior, I shall, this by the way should be future; I shall give Egypt for Thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for Thee.” Most of the commentators regard these perfect here I gave, oh, this prophet as a prophetic perfect; that is it’s so sure to come to past that it’s put in the past and we would render it in English, “I shall give,” for he is speaking of the future.
Now then verse 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. Fear not: for I am with Thee: and on the basis of this present, I will bring Thy seed from the east, and gather Thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;”
Now you can see here that as the prophet writes of Israel’s restoration to the land, his view has broadened from Babylon and now goes to the uttermost parts of the earth. He speaks about the north, the east, the west, the north, the south, and from the ends of the earth. So, against the background of the return from Babylon he describes the ultimate return, which is still future from our time when Israel shall be brought back into the land.
Now, in verses 6 and 7 when he speaks about the future, you will notice that he again turns them to past and he says he is going to do all these things in the future because of what he has done in the past, even verse 7, “Everyone who has called by My name for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him yea I made him.” Now, this is one of the most interesting climactic conclusions in the Book of Isaiah notice it, Even everyone who has called by My name. By the way, did you notice that in verse 1 he says, I have called thee by thy name. But here he says, Everyone who has called by My name. Why does it mean to be called by Thy name, what does that the God mean to be called by My name.
Or to turn it to human side, what does it mean to be called by My name by God, and what does it mean to be called by his name by God. Those expressions are not the same. I have called Thee by Thy name, what does that mean? Well, I think that means intimate knowledge. If you are still calling me Dr. Johnson, you don’t really know me as intimately as you ought. I really would be happy about it if most of you would call me by my first name. When you call me by my first name, well that means that you feel you know me a little better. I think I know you a little better. So, for God to call me by my name connotes intimacy. It also denotes friendship. I have called Thee by Thy name, just think of that God calling me by my name. I have the sense of God saying to me, Now Lewis, that is very wonderful isn’t it? He has an intimate knowledge of me and also he is my friend, he calls me by my name. I think also you will discover that when God uses the expression, I have called Thee by Thy name, he usually has some work in mind, some task to perform. For example, when he speaks of Bezaleel, who worked on the Tabernacle he said, I have called Thee by Thy name, and then he tells him he wants him do a little work.
And in the 45th chapter he will speak about Cyrus and he will say he has called Cyrus by his name and he has a great task for Cyrus to perform. And in the 49th chapter in the case of the Messiah himself he says he has called him by his name and his task is for the Messiah, the servant of Jehovah to be the redeemer and so he has called him by his name, that’s usually a call to some ministry, but it’s a ministry that he provides the power for.
But what does it mean when God calls us by his name, not by my name? When he calls me by his own name, well of course I think it means that he possesses me; I belong to him, if he calls me by his name. I call my son by my name because he is mine, he is Samuel Lewis Johnson III, and I called him by that name Johnson because he is a Johnson, he belongs to me. Now, I remind you all of these human illustrations introduced obvious contrasts, which are not very favorable because Johnson is not the same as the name Jehova, but the principle is there. It also indicates that I and he are related and when God calls me his name he possesses me and we are related. As a matter of fact I am a member of his family. That’s why Israel is called Jehovah’s son. I have called my son out of Egypt, and I think also it implies some likeness, because usually there are family likenesses.
But now notice those words in verse 7, which climaxed the first 7 verses. For I have created him for my glory I have formed him, I have made him. I have created him, I have fashioned him and I have finished the job. He has created a new thing, he’s shaped it, he’s completed it. That is what he did for Israel. When Israel was made into this nation formed and then the job was finished. That was a pattern that was a type.
You remember the other day when we were talking about Hebrews chapter 13. And chapter 13 and verse 20 in which we have these words, Now Thy God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant, I pointed out that the those words that Great Shepherd of the sheep, brought again from the dead were words that were taken from Isaiah that the writer of the Epistle of the Hebrews had in mind a specific passage. He was talking about the 63rd chapter when in the 11 verse we read “Then he remembered the days of old Moses and his people saying where is he who brought them up out of the sea.” The God who brought again from the dead, our Lord Jesus, is the same God who brought up Moses out of the sea not only that. With the shepherd of his flock Moses, was the shepherd of the flock, and so the prophet looks back at the past to the Exodus. And he sees Moses going out as at the head of the flock of the children of Israel as their great shepherd taking them down into the midst of the sea through the water and bringing them up on the other side. In other words, he looks at the Exodus deliverance, as a deliverance out of the sea by means of a shepherd. Now this of course was designed to express to Israel the great power that was exhibited in their behalf.
Now the writer of the Epistle of the Hebrews, using that language says, Now the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus that great shepherd of the sheep. He looks at our Lord’s death, burial and resurrection of which water baptism is the figure that’s why by the way, it is immersion because it is a going down into death, burial and resurrection the waters completely encompass them as the waters encompass the children of Israel when they went out. Paul says they were baptized onto Moses and the cloud and in the sea. But he has taken our Lord Jesus down into death and our Lord was at the head of his flock by virtue of the Everlasting Covenant to which all of the redeemed are part and parcel and he has gone down into death as their great shepherd and has come out on the other side and has led all of his flock into the life that is offered in that Everlasting Covenant.
And just as the in the Old Testament the great deliverance in the Exodus is the measure of the power which God will give to Israel in all of the affairs of their lives. So, the resurrection is the power, the measure of the power that God will manifest in our lives as we call upon him. Now isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t it wonderful to realize that the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is available, as Paul puts it in Ephesians chapter 1, it is to usward who believe? According to that mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places. We don’t have any need for power because we have it in our Lord. So he has created us, he has formed us, he has made us, he has finished the work.
Now then, in roman II, his punishment of Israel foes in verse 14 through verse 21, I am going to skip a few verses there in which his present aim is set forth. In verses 14 through 21 we have his punishment of Israel’s foes and against the background of this past Egyptian deliverance, which was a type in pledge, he proclaims this new deliverance from Babylon in which the Chaldeans shall be frustrated. Verse 14, let’s read through verse 21, Thus saith the Lord your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles and the Chaldeans, whose songs is in the ships, I am the Lord, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King.
By the way in all of these verses have you noticed that it is all of grace? The God does not say now I have saved you because you have faith. Did you notice that? Have you noticed the complete absence of that? That’s the way we are inclined to put it, but he doesn’t put it that way he just says what he is going to do. What he has done in the past, what he is going to do in the future and it is all together of his grace he doesn’t want any self righteousness to intrude itself in it in anyway.
“Thus saith the Lord, Who maketh a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters, just as our Lord did. Who bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power, they shall lie down together and they shall not rise. They are extinct. They are quenched as a wick. Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth, shall you not know it: I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honor me, the jackals and the ostriches: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise. And so the foes of Israel shall be punished and out of this marvelous deliverance that God will exhibit in Israel’s behalf bringing them out of Babylon back into the land and ultimately from the four corners of the earth back into the land and the future. Out of that, people shall express their praise of Jehovah. This people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise.”
When you look back in verse 12, I’ve declared and I’ve saved and I’ve shown when there was no strange God among you therefore ye are my witnesses saith the Lord, that I am God.
What do you think is the natural response of this great deliverance that God accomplishes for the children that belong to him? What is the natural response? Well, I think the natural response is that we should be a means of testimony isn’t that the natural response. As we respond to his great power and as we come to know him is it not natural to assume that as a result of what happens to us, we shall praise the Lord and others shall be able to see the power of God in us. That’s what he means here. This people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise. Ye are my witnesses.
May I read you something? I’m going to read you the conversion of a cannibal. Three years ago, Norman Deck came to Dallas Seminary chapel. Dr. Northcomb Deck was a very close friend of mine. He and his family a generation before and his family a generation before him, and then Dr. Deck worked in the Solomon Islands. I think that was one of the most remarkable mission works that has ever been done. They went out into those islands, some women and some men and one of the most remarkable Christian works took place, it was so remarkable that when many of our soldiers were in the south seas in World War II, many of them were converted by the natives in the Solomon Islands, such an amazing testimony.
Dr. Norman Deck is a man about 84 years of age now, and Dr. Northcomb Deck his older brother, whom I knew was a real close friend of mine, and one of the godliest men I’ve ever known, but he told the conversion, are you surprised have on my glasses. This writing is not only small, but it is British. [Laughter] And, if you have ever read any British handwriting, you know what I am talking about. I am not sure I can read every word of it yet. It’s worse than some of the students’ writing that I have to read at the seminary. But he told us the story of a conversion of a cannibal, which really touched me and I think will touch you. I ask him to write it up for me and he did.
He said this to me. He said, “One day, I’d anchored by a launch in one of the landlocked inlets on the East Coast of Malaita, one of the islands in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. An old gray haired native came off in a canoe and approached me with the words, “Mr. Deck, will you let me walk about in your launch to One Pusu.” That’s the Bible School of the South Sea Evangelical Mission is located there. By the way, they speak Pidgin English in the islands. And you’ll recognize some of the terminology here in a moment. “‘Me want to see it,’ this man said. He had seen the changed lives of some of our Christians in the Koyo District where he was living and where he had been acting as a native priest, a witch doctor for years. I replied that I would be going around to One Pusu in three weeks and would take him if he would come down to the shore. He was there when I arrived, going around my boats crew where — going around my boats crew where singing a chorus.” Couldn’t quite make that out, a chorus. I started to make up something – I started to say hymn – but it’s a chorus.
“Come and listen, while I tell you what the Lord will do for you. If you bring your life to Jesus, you need only trust him true. In his precious blood, he will wash you and your sins he will forgive. And he put his spirit always in your heart to live. On the cross, he died for you from sin to set you free. He did not understand all that, this meant. But the last word free caught his attention. His name is To’onah. He said we want to flee from devil-devil. That’s what they call devil-devil. In due time, we arrived at One Pusu. Some of his compatriots explained the gospel to him carefully. He came underneath conviction of sin and could not sleep. He came to the principal of the Bible School in distress. I was sent for. He was sitting on the floor and I asked him, To’onah, ‘What do you want?’ He replied, ‘Me want Jesus.’ I said, ‘That’s very good. Why do you want Jesus?’ He replied, ‘Because me a big sinner.’ I said, ‘We everyone are sinners.’ But he said, ‘But me most worse’, more worse — most worse.
“I asked him, ‘Do you think Jesus can save you?’ He answered, ‘Why you ask that?’ Him, he saved these men at One Pusu, and me want him to save me. I said, ‘Yes, he can do it. You cannot see him, but you can talk to him and he will hear you. You tell him you are a sinner and ask him to take away your sins and you thank him because he died on the cross for you and ask him to give you his spirit.’ I shall never forget his prayer. ‘Master, me stink with sin; me been killed six men; me eat six men; me worship devil-devil; me tell lie; me swear; me dirty talk; me steal.’ But me know what a man. Me want you Jesus to take away my sins; me thank you because you die for me on the cross; me take you for master belong me. We ask you, you put your Holy Spirit in heart belong me Amen.’
“The change in his face after praying was remarkable. Instead of the old heathen beside it appearance, it was radiant. The miracle of the new birth had taken place. I took him back. Instead of sacrificing to the Otolos, the heathen spirits, he went about telling others of his joy in Christ. The heathen noted that he no longer used filthy sexual talk, and he explained dirty talk does not come from the mouth, but from the heart and Jesus has given me a clean heart. He witnessed for six months and the effect was marked. Later an epidemic of influence was swept through the island and he died of pneumonia, but his death was remarkable.
“The government headman, a heathen unbeliever told me all about his death. He said, ‘The man had a big sick. The man had a big sick. Wind belong him go, go out. I made his spirit — his breath went. The wind belong him go, go out and I belong him shut. Then we take a map to tie up body belong him to put him in a grave. We bring the mat and I belong him open and wind belong him comeback and he say to us, I belong me see Jesus just now. Me see hole in hand belong him. Him he let come back to tell you that everything missionary tell me about Jesus is truth. You must take Jesus for master. Now me good-bye to you, me go to Jesus.’ and he passed away.
“Dr. Deck who was very sound in his theology made this interesting point. He said this illustrates a fact that in the initial preaching of the gospel, God sometimes as in the Book of Acts grants scope to authenticate his message. Science, which seem to be withdrawn when they have the written word available to faith they are to walk by faith in the word of God rather than by sight. But what he means by that was that in those places where they do not have the word of God, that apparently occasionally God permits a sign like the sign of the early church in order that they may authenticate the message.” This people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise.
Well our time is just about up. Roman III contains a plea, which is addressed to Israel by God in verses 22 through 28. Let’s just read the verses,
“But Thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but Thou hast been weary of me, O Israel. Thou hast not brought me the sheep of Thy burnt offerings; neither hast Thou honored me with Thy sacrifices. I have not caused Thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied Thee with incense. Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast Thou filled me with the fat of Thy sacrifices: but Thou hast burdened with Thy sins, Thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.”
You can just hear Israel saying, I am so tired of offering these sacrifices over and over again. Then verse 25,
“I, even I, am he who bloteth out Thy transgressions for mine own sake. Did you see that, not for your faith not for your goodness, not for your religion, for mine own sake, and will not remember Thy sins. Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified. Thy first father hath sinned, and Thy teachers have transgressed against me. Therefore I have profaned the princes of the sanctuary, and have given Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches. And, finally the promise of the spirit, Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus saith the Lord that made Thee, and formed Thee from the womb, and will help Thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen. 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: And they shall spring up as among the grass, like willows by the watercourses. One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall write on his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.”
And the promise of the Spirit, which renews Israel, is the occasion for the heathen turning to the Lord to. Well, our time is up we must stop. Let’s close with a word of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee for the word of God and we thank Thee for these experiences, which Israel had in the past which are types of the way in which Thou does deal with us and we pray also that Israel’s hard heartedness and indifference may be admonition to us to not be hard hearted and indifferent to the word that has been spoken to us in the 20th Century.
May O God others so see Thy work in us, that gracious work of redemption, that they too may praise Thee for all that Thou has done through the cross of Jesus Christ. Go with us as we part for Jesus’ sake. Amen.