As we continue our journey through the book of Isaiah this morning the big idea of our passage is one of action: Wake up to the good news! No matter what form our spiritual sleepiness takes today, we have received an invitation from God Almighty that is pure grace: Wake up to the good news. Now, to get to the bottom of the big idea, we’re going to take it in two parts:
1. The good news (51:17-2:6)
2. Waking up to it (52:7-12)

Citylight Manayunk | May 7, 2023 from Citylight Church on Vimeo.


Sermon Transcript

I want to talk to you this morning about waking up; about waking up. I want to talk to you about waking up because some of us have drifted into lukewarm, half-hearted Christianity, and God is inviting us to something so much better. He’s inviting us to wake up. I want to talk to you about waking up because some of you have been beaten down of late. Like Israel in our passage, you’re under what C.S. Lewis called God’s severe mercy. You’ve been beaten down, but God is inviting you to wake up. I want to talk to you about waking up because some of you, like me, are Christian leaders in one form or another. You hold out holy things to others, but if you’re honest you’re drowsy toward them yourself. I want to talk to you about waking up. And still others of you believe the wonderful news that Christ reigns and has set you free from sin and death, but if you’re honest, you’re not really awake to the joy and freedom of Christ in your daily life. I want to talk to all of us about waking up.

Over the past two seasons, my son Soren and I have taken up deer hunting. If you’re not into that sort of thing, don’t worry, the deer have proven to be completely safe with me – I’m open to help for this year. Deer hunting requires waking up VERY early in the morning, which is great for Soren and me – we have the Cohen curse. Now, when I wake Soren up very early to go hunting, he might be groggy and half-hearted for a moment, but when I whisper that it’s time to go hunting, all half-hearted grogginess goes by the wayside and he leaps into go mode. And that is a picture of what the Lord is inviting all of us to in our passage. He is inviting us to leave behind sleepy, half-hearted, beaten down, and personally disengaged Christianity and wake up to news that is far greater than a trip into the woods to hunt. I want to talk to you about waking up – it’s what we all really want, whether we know it or not. Listen to how our passage puts it. Isaiah 51:17 – “Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem…” Isaiah 52:1 – “Awake, awake, put on strength, O Zion…” Isaiah 52:7 – How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” The Lord is announcing good news and inviting us all – no matter where we are – to wake up to it even more. What a thrill! And that brings us to the big idea of our passage this morning: Wake up to the good news! No matter what form our spiritual sleepiness takes today, we have received an invitation from God Almighty that is pure grace: Wake up to the good news. Now, to get to the bottom of the big idea this morning, we are going to take it in two parts: 1. The good news (51:17-2:6) 2. Waking up to it (52:7-12).

THE GOOD NEWS (51:17-2:6)

The great Martin Luther once said, “We need the gospel everyday because we forget it everyday.” To increasingly wake up to the good news, let’s take a few minutes to hear it again. Isaiah 51:17-23 – Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering. 18 There is none to guide her among all the sons she has borne; there is none to take her by the hand among all the sons she has brought up…22 Thus says your Lord, the LORD, your God who pleads the cause of his people: “Behold, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering; the bowl of my wrath you shall drink no more; 23 and I will put it into the hand of your tormentors…” To wake up the good news, we have to reckon with the bad news. In Isaiah 51-52, the Lord is speaking to his old covenant people, Israel. Though God graciously called Israel to be his special people and a light to all nations, Israel disobeyed and ignored God. They failed to do and be what God required in his law. As a result of their rebellion, the holy, righteous, and good God of the Bible made Israel drink the cup of his wrath in the form of being conquered by the Babylonians and the few who survived the conquest were hauled off into exile in Babylon as slaves. It was a severe mercy. They drank the cup of God’s wrath down to the dregs in Babylon. But that time is over now. God has promised to take the cup of his wrath from Israel and put it to the Babylonians lips. God is going to rescue his people from his wrath by his mercy. As Psalm 30:5 says, “…his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” The Lord is inviting them to wake up to the good news that his wrath was for a moment, but now his favor has dawned for a lifetime. They’ve been beaten down, but it’s time to wake up to the good news that his wrath has passed. But it’s not just Israel to whom God’s wrath is revealed. In his New Testament letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul writes, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth…because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen (Romans 1:18, 25). Every one of us has exchanged the worship of the Creator for the creation. We were all once under God’s just condemnation and eternal wrath. But God has taken the cup of wrath and put it to the lips of his Son in order to save his enemies – us. When the Father’s sinless Son died on the cross, he drank the cup of God’s wrath that our sins deserve so that there is now no condemnation for you who are in Christ Jesus. This is called the doctrine of propitiation. As theologian Ligon Duncan puts it: Propitiation means “averting the wrath of God by the offering of a gift.” It refers to the turning away of the wrath of God as the just judgment of our sin by God’s own provision of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Because of the doctrine of propitiation, if you’re in Christ, your suffering isn’t punitive. Christ took your punishment. Your suffering is God’s severe mercy intended by Him to make you more like Christ. Wake up from your slumber to the good news.

Propitiation leads to the wonderful news of redemption. Again, Ligon Duncan says that Redemption means to secure the release or recovery of persons or things by the payment of a price. We’ve been set free. Isaiah 52:1-3 – Awake, awake…Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. 3 For thus says the LORD: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.” To redeem something is to set it free. And the Lord is the Redeemer. He redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt through the exodus. He promises to redeem them from exile in Babylon. But all those acts of redemption are mere shadows and the redemption that we have from the slavery of sin, dominion of death, and the oppression of Hell through the price of Christ’s blood and the victory of his resurrection. The good news in our passage is progressive. It begins with propitiation: Christ drank the cup of God’s wrath for us. It progresses to redemption: by his propitiation Christ has set us free from everything that can ultimately and eternally hold us down. And the good news culminates in resurrection, as Isaiah 52:7 says, “…Your God reigns.” Propitiation, redemption, and resurrection. That’s the good news that we are invited to wake up to.

Are you drifting in sleepy, half-hearted Christianity? Wake up to all that Christ has done to forgive your sins because he who is forgiven much loves much. Are you beaten down by God’s severe mercy? Wake up to the good news that none of your suffering is punitive and even your suffering is under God’s hand of grace. Are you growing too familiar with holy things that don’t produce awe in you anymore? Wake up to the eternal victory that is yours through the resurrection of Christ. Are you struggling to live in the joy and freedom that is yours in Christ? Wake up to your redemption bought at the price of Christ’s blood. Wake up to the good news. Ok – how do we practically do that? That brings us to our second and final point. We’ve looked at the good news, let’s turn secondly to…

WAKING UP TO IT (52:7-12)

No matter why we might be spiritually groggy, our passage provides three practical ways to wake up to the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ. First, sing for joy! The second part of our passage opens with a lone messenger running from the battlefront, emerging on the mountains near the city, and announcing a great victory. The image reminds me of the mythical origins of the modern marathon race. Legend has it that after the Greeks won an improbable military victory over the Persians, a Greek messenger named Pheidippides was dispatched to run the twenty-six miles from the battle in Marathon to the Acropolis in Athens to announce the great victory. That’s the image in Isaiah 52:7. A lone messenger emerges on the mountains announcing good news, “Your God reigns!” Christ is risen! And the people awaken to it by singing for joy. Isaiah 52:8a – The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy… And it’s not only the watchmen who lift up their voices, but they command the rest of God’s sinful and suffering people to join them in singing for joy. Isaiah 52:9a – Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem… Our lives may be waste places, but the good news is that the waste places are temporary, but redemption is forever. Wake up to the good news by singing for joy. “Sing!” Is the most common command in the Bible because singing is not a personality type – it’s the rightful response of a redeemed people, even when they’re in the waste places. How should we sing? Remember the watchmen?
Lift up your voice – it should be loud even if you’re bad.
“Together they sing for joy.” It should be done together. Sing loud enough to sustain each other’s faith.
Break forth into singing – sing in response to the wonderful news, not on the basis of how you feel. Sing for the sake of your joy.
Sing you waste places – Sing your way through your trials because they can only last a lifetime. Be, as Paul Tripp says, sad celebrants.

Second, announce the good news to others. I told you about hunting with my son. Something that I’ve learned is that hunters love to tell their hunting stories to others. We’re all that way with the things we love. Whether it’s an amazing trip, or a new accomplishment, or a wonderful meal, we really come alive to the things we love by sharing them with others. Similarly, there may be no greater way to awaken to the good news than sharing it with others. Last year I had the privilege of praying with Nick Scott at The Corner Bakery when he received Christ for the first time. That woke me up to the good news as much as anything and now he has unstoppable joy. And you don’t have to be good at announcing it to others. God’s sees our feeble attempts at announcing the good news that Jesus died for sins and says that they’re beautiful. Isaiah 52:7 – How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Wake up to the good news by announcing it to others. Who can you announce it to, to the ends of the earth?

Third, leave worldliness behind. One reason we may experience spiritual slumber is simply worldliness. Isaiah 52:11 – Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the LORD. What does it mean to depart from Babylon? Ray Ortlund rightly describes Babylon this way – “In the Bible, Babylon is more than an ancient culture; it represents everything in this world that is humanly impressive but opposed to God.” So, departing from Babylon is leaving worldliness behind. And, as David Wells has concisely said, worldliness is when sin looks normal and righteousness seems strange. Waking up to the freedom of our redemption means leaving the slavery of worldliness behind. 1 John 2:15-16 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. Our calling is not to be isolated, but distinct, for God’s glory. If you’re feeling spiritually sleepy, in any of the ways I described earlier, worldliness may be the cause. You’ve been called to freedom, don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery. Of course, leaving worldliness behind will cost you. Full-throttled Christianity will cost us everything we aren’t meant to keep. But, don’t be afraid. The Lord will be with you on your pilgrimage from this world. Isaiah 52:12 – For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Leave worldliness behind, but not like someone running for their life. Leave like Floyd Mayweather. Floyd Mayweather is a retired boxer who travels with a large group of bodyguards who surround him on all sides at all times. And if you’ve ever seen a video of Mayweather walking in public, because of his bodyguards, he walks like a man without a care in the world. When you walk away from worldliness, the God who made Floyd Mayweather goes before and behind you! To wake up to the good news, walk away from worldliness without fear.


Review fallen condition, application.
Review the two points.
Wake up story – Castaway