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THE REJECTED REPORT

(SERMON NUMBER 2 ON ISAIAH 53)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, March 3, 2013

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1).


Isaiah is speaking of the Gospel of Christ. Last Sunday I preached from the last three verses of chapter 52, where the prophet foretold the suffering of Christ, whose appearance, “was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 52:14). This is a picture of Jesus, beaten and crucified for our sins, then raised from the dead, “exalted and extolled, and…very high” (Isaiah 52:13). But now, in our text, the prophet bewails the fact that few would believe that message of the Gospel.

Dr. Edward J. Young was an Old Testament scholar, a classmate and friend of my former pastor, Dr. Timothy Lin. Commenting on our text,

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed,”

Dr. Young said that this “is more an exclamation than a question. It does not demand a negative answer, but is designed simply to call attention to the [small number] of true believers in the world…the prophet [is] representative of his people, speaking and expressing dismay that so few believe” (Edward J. Young, Ph.D., The Book of Isaiah, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972, volume 3, p. 240).

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”

The word “report” means “the message proclaimed.” Luther translated it as “our preaching” (Young, ibid.). “Who hath believed our preaching?” The parallel expression in the text is, “and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” The “arm of the Lord” is an expression that refers to the Lord’s strength. Who has believed our preaching? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? To whom has the saving power of Christ been revealed?

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1).

This verse shows that you must first believe the preaching of the Gospel, and then be converted by the power of God in Christ. And yet the prophet’s very question shows that very few will believe and be converted.

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1).

I. First, few believed and were converted during Christ’s earthly ministry.

Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus. This man had been dead four days. Jesus said to them, “Take ye away the stone” (John 11:39). The sister of Lazarus wanted to stop Him. She said, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days” (ibid.). But they obeyed Jesus and took away the stone that covered the mouth of the tomb. Then Jesus “cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:43-44).

“Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? [What shall we do?] for this man doeth many miracles” (John 11:47).

They saw how many miracles He did, and were afraid that all the common people would follow Him instead of them.

“Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death” (John 11:53).

The chief priests and the Pharisees began to hold meetings together to figure out the best way to get rid of Jesus, “to put him to death.” The Apostle John said,

“But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (John 12:37-38).

They saw Him miraculously feed the five thousand. They saw Him heal lepers and open the eyes of the blind. They saw Him cast out demons, and raise the paralyzed to vigorous health. They saw Him raise a widow’s son from the dead. They not only saw Him turn water into wine, but also heard Him

“teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matthew 9:35).

And yet, when He raised Lazarus from the dead, “they took counsel together for to put him to death” (John 11:53).

“But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (John 12:37-38).

Yes, only a few people believed and were converted during Christ’s ministry on earth.

II. Second, few believed and were converted during the time of the Apostles.

Please turn to Romans 10:11-16. Let us stand and read that great passage.

“For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias [Isaiah] saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?” (Romans 10:11-16).

You may be seated.

Notice that this passage of Scripture says, in verse 12,

“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him”
       (Romans 10:12).

This was written by the Apostle Paul a little less than 30 years after Jesus ascended back to Heaven. Thus, Paul wrote the Book of Romans during the latter part of the Book of Acts. He was speaking to both Jews and Gentiles, whereas Jesus had spoken almost exclusively to the Jews. Paul said, “There is no difference between the Jews and the Greeks.” All men need Christ!

And yet, to his largely non-Jewish audience, Paul said the same thing that Jesus said, quoting from Isaiah 53:1, bewailing the fact that only a comparatively small number of Gentiles believed – and quoting Isaiah 53:1 to show that the prophet had said, by application, that most Gentiles would be only slightly more responsive to the Gospel than were the Jews. Paul quoted from Isaiah’s complaint to show this.

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1).

The Gentiles were more open to the Gospel than the Jews. Yet, even so, only a comparatively small number of Gentiles believed in Jesus during the time of Paul and the other Apostles. There were great revivals in the time of the Apostles, as we see in the Book of Acts. Yet even those mighty revivals brought only a comparatively small number of Gentiles to salvation in Christ. Evangelism was difficult, even among the Romans!

Both Christ and the Apostles saw only a few converts. Thus, the Christians of the first century were in a decided minority, and a persecuted minority at that! And so, both John and Paul quoted our text to explain the resistance of most people to the Gospel – to explain why most of those who heard them preach remained unconverted.

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1).

And this has been true down through the ages of Christian history. Always, at all times, only a small minority of people have believed the Gospel and been truly converted. And that is still true in the world today. Nothing has changed. Which brings us to our last point.

III. Third, few believe and are converted today.

In our own time we are often confronted with the reality of Isaiah’s lament, in that sorrowful question,

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1).

Sadly, we must say that few people today believe Gospel preaching, and few are saved by the power of Christ. Even our dearest relatives often reject Christ. And most of you know that only a few of those we bring to church to hear the preaching ever get converted. I would make three comments on that:

(1)  First, where does the Bible tell us that most people will be saved? It doesn’t. In fact, Jesus said just the opposite. He said,

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”
      (Matthew 7:13-14).

Few there be that find it! We must always keep that in mind when our evangelistic efforts result in fewer conversions than we had hoped for.

And, then, the second thing I would say is this.

(2)  Our motive for evangelizing is not based on how many will be converted. Whether the response is great or small, our eyes must never be fixed on how many are converted. Our motive is based on obedience to God. Our eyes must always be kept on God, and our obedience to Him when we go to evangelism; and our eyes must always be kept on God, and our obedience to Him when we preach the Gospel! Christ told us,

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

That is what Christ told us to do, and we must do it whether people listen or not; whether they are converted or not. We must evangelize because Christ told us to do it! Our success does not depend on human response! No! Our success depends on being obedient to Christ. Therefore we shall go to evangelism whether they believe the Gospel or not!


And, then, there is a third thing that flows out of this.

(3)  Do you believe on Christ? Are you converted to Christ? Will you come to Christ by faith? Even if no one else in your family and none of the friends you have are converted, will you seek Christ? Will you come to Him? Remember that Christ said,

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

Will you come to Jesus, be converted, and then baptized? Or will you be among the vast multitudes who reject the Saviour, and perish eternally in the flames of Hell?

“But he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

It is my prayer that you will not be among the multitudes who perish in Hell, but that you will join with us in this local church. Come out of the world! Come to Jesus by faith! Come into this local church. And be saved for all time and for all eternity by Jesus’ Blood and righteousness.

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1).

May you be one of those who believes and is converted! May you be one of the few who believe the Gospel when it is preached. May you say, “Yes, Jesus died to pay for my sins. Yes, He arose from the dead. Yes, I come to Him by faith.” May you be one of the few to whom the arm of the Lord is revealed, as you experience salvation by trusting Jesus, “The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). May you be one of those who come to Jesus, and is washed clean from your sins by His precious Blood. May God grant you grace to believe our report and experience salvation from sin through the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!

Please stand and sing “I Am Coming, Lord,” number seven on your song sheet.

I hear Thy welcome voice, That calls me, Lord, to Thee
   For cleansing in Thy precious blood That flowed on Calvary.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
   Wash me, cleanse me in the blood That flowed on Calvary.

Though coming weak and vile, Thou dost my strength assure;
   Thou dost my vileness fully cleanse, Till spotless all and pure.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
   Wash me, cleanse me in the blood That flowed on Calvary.
(“I Am Coming, Lord” by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).

If you would like to speak to us about being cleansed from your sin by Jesus, please step to the back of the auditorium now. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place where we can talk. Dr. Chan, please come and pray for those who have responded.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Isaiah 52:13-53:1.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“A Crown of Thorns” (by Ira F. Stanphill, 1914-1993).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE REJECTED REPORT

(SERMON NUMBER 2 ON ISAIAH 53)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1).

(Isaiah 52:14, 13)

I.   First, few believed and were converted during Christ’s earthly
ministry, John 11:39, 43-44, 47, 53; 12:37-38; Matthew 9:35.

II.  Second, few believed and were converted during the time of the
Apostles, Romans 10:11-16.

III. Third, few believe and are converted today, Matthew 7:13-14;
Mark 16:15, 16; John 1:29.