On Various Subjects
By Pastor Ron Thomas
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040
Text: Isaiah 46:1-4. "Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast.
2 They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity.
3 Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb:
4 And even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you."
Introduction: There was a hit song first sung and released in 1969 by the Hollies, entitled "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother." The lyrics are moving and inspiring.
The road is long, with many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I'm strong, strong enough to carry him
He ain't heavy, he's my brother
So on we go, his welfare is my concern
No burden is he to bear
We'll get there
For I know, he would not encumber me
He ain't heavy, he's my brother
The title came from the motto for Boys Town, a community formed in 1917 by a Catholic priest named Father Edward Flanagan. Located in Omaha, Nebraska, it was a place where troubled or homeless boys could come for help. In 1941, Father Flanagan was looking at a magazine called The Messenger, when he came across a drawing of a boy carrying a younger boy on his back, with the caption, "He ain't heavy Mr., he's my brother." Father Flanagan thought the image and phrase captured the spirit of Boys Town, so he obtained permission and commissioned a statue of the drawing with the inscription, "He ain't heavy Father, he's my brother." The statue and phrase became the logo for Boys Town. In 1979, girls were allowed and the name was eventually changed to Girls And Boys Town. The logo was updated with a drawing of a girl carrying a younger girl added.
In our text passage, we are presented with somewhat the same image and message, except this time, it is God who is doing the carrying. It is easy to observe that this is a partnership passage! God as our Senior partner is ever present to carry us over the rough spots in life!
The prophet Isaiah looks into the future to a time when Israel would be conquered and carried away by Babylonians. The Babylonians worshiped and served false gods that were represented by idols. Two of these so called "gods" are mentioned in verse 1. "Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast." Bel and Nebo were the most prominent gods in the Babylonian pantheon. These were the gods who were considered superior to the God of Israel. After all, it was Babylon that conquered Israel, not the other way around! In their victory celebrations, the Babylonians had to pack up these gods represented by idols, and transport them so that all could see them!
Isaiah however, prophecies that the time was coming, when Babylon would fall, being conquered by the Persians. When that day came, Bel and Nebo would be helpless to save them. As a matter of fact, these idolaters would have to pack up their idols, load them upon their beast, and carry them as they fled! Bel and Nebo would be a burden to their beast! The fact that these gods had to be carried either in victory or in defeat, illustrates that they are both powerless and burdensome! Verse 2 reads, "They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity." The idols of Babylon could not even begin to be compared to the God of Israel. Notice Isaiah 46:5-7. "To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like? 6 They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. 7 They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble."
The statement is clear, all false gods are powerless and burdensome. It is the same with all our modern gods and images. The false gods and idols of money, material things, sex, worldly power and fame, are powerless to save us, sustain us, and cannot carry us to our desired destination! All of these become a burden, rather than a blessing. Why? They are all temporal and earthly! They make promises they cannot keep. They provide thrills and chills which are short lived, a pseudo happiness, peace, and fulfilment that soon turns sour.
It is here that Isaiah begins to contrast the Babylonian gods, to the one true God of Israel. The gods represented by idols were created, brought into existence, shaped and molded by the Babylonians. The God of Israel is the One who created all things! Jehovah brought the nation Israel into existence! Verse 3 says, "Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb." Babylon worshiped the creation. Israel worshiped the Creator Himself! They served and worshiped the God who brought them into existence! I am made to think of a comedy routine by Bill Cosby about his childhood years and family. Bill Cosby would often joke about his father, especially when it came to discipline. His father would tell Cosby, "I brought you into this world, and just remember, if needs be, I can take you out!" The God of Israel certainly demonstrated that He had to power to exalt His people and bring them down! They would spend seventy years in Babylonian captivity, not because Bel and Nebo were mighty, but because God willed it so! In Isaiah 46:10b,God goes on record and says, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure."
In verse 4, Isaiah continues to speak for God, and tells them that while the Babylonian's had to carry their gods around, He was the One who carried His worshipers! The words that speak of bearing or carrying, appear five times in verses 3 and 4. The Lord pictures Himself as a mother who has borne and carried Israel from the womb. In verse 4, God says He will continue to bear and carry them to their "old age," to their "hoar hairs" or graying years. Verse 4 says, "And even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you."
God not only says that He will carry them, but that He will "deliver" or save them. The immediate deliverance God is talking about here, is Israel's deliverance from captivity. He will carry Israel through difficult times in captivity, and will ultimately deliver her and restore her to her land.
We are witnesses to an even greater demonstration of this promise living in the 21st century! One of the greatest modern miracles, is not only the survival of the Jewish people, but their return to their homeland beginning in 1948! This year, Israel celebrated their 60th anniversary as a nation!
What a powerful, encouraging picture and message! We know and serve a God who can carry us, help us, lift us up, and save us. We need the Lord! We need a Heavenly Partner as we go through this life! Why? We are sinful, weak, frail and finite. We are so easily wearied and wounded in this sinful world! In our weak and wounded condition, God loads us on His back, and carries us! God says to His children, "The road is long, with many a winding turn. But I'm strong, strong enough to carry you. So on we go. Your welfare is my concern. No burden are you to bear. We'll get there. You're not heavy, you're my child." It doesn't matter if you have been saved 30 seconds, 30 minutes, 30 months, or 30 years, God will carry you! We are His from the womb. Jesus said, "You must be born again!" From the moment you trust in Jesus Christ, you are God's child. He is committed to carry you forever! God has said, "I will never leave you or forsake you!" If the Lord has carried you this far, he's not going to drop you now. You might think, "I can't make it. I'm too weak or too wounded." The Lord says, "We'll make it. I'll get you home," and He loads you on His back.
by Mary Stevenson
One night I had a dream--
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord
and across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints,
one belonged to me and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life.
This really bothered me and I questioned the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you would walk with me all the way,
But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life
there is only one set of footprints.
"I don't understand why in times when I needed you most,
you should leave me."
The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child,
during your times of trial and suffering.
"When you saw only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you."
What a wonderful thing to celebrate! Our God has promised to carry us! This needs to become more than an intellectual thought, but a personal reality! What is it that our Lord has promised to carry?
Carried By God
What Does He Carry?
God through Jesus Christ will carry your sins. We often speak of the "weight of sin." Feelings of guilt, shame and condemnation, accompany sin. The "wages of sin" is death. God has come to take our load of sin upon Himself. Isaiah 53:11 says, "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities." Speaking of Jesus, Peter said in I Peter 2:24, "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."
Pilgrims Progress (In Today's English) reads, "Now I saw in my dream Christian walking briskly up a highway fenced on both sides with a high wall. He began to run, through he could not run fast because of the load on his back. On top of the hill, he came to a cross. Just as he got to the cross, his burden came loose, dropped from his shoulders, and went tumbling down the hill. It fell into an open grave, and I saw it no more!" The sin bearing work of Jesus Christ removes the load of sin and fills us with joy, love, hope and peace! Christian went on to say after his encounter with the cross, "He has given me rest by His sorrows, and life by His death."
God through Jesus Christ will carry your cares and anxieties. I Peter 5:7 reads, "Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you." The word "care" used here means anxiety. I guess this is where I get to use one of my favorite corny jokes. Question: What lies at the bottom of the ocean and twitches? Answer: A nervous wreck. There is plenty of anxiety around today. People are anxious about the rising cost of health care; the rising cost of fuel and groceries; the plummeting stock market and value of the American dollar. Our investments and retirement funds are going up and down like a roller coaster! All of this and more can build up pressure inside of us, causing anxiety and stress. When George Mueller was asked how he could remain so calm in the midst of a hectic day with so many problems and uncertainties, he answered, "I rolled sixty things onto the Lord this morning."
In Philippians 4:6-7 the apostle Paul admonishes us not to be "careful" or anxious about anything! Instead, we should go to our Senior partner in prayer. When we do this, it has a way of removing our anxiety and restoring a peace that passes understanding!
God through Jesus Christ will carry your burdens. Psalm 55:22 reads, "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." The word "burden" here could be translated lot. It speaks of that which has been appointed to you. We have all heard the phrase, "your lot in life." What is "your lot" in life? Is it to be a mother, homemaker, married, single, widow, widower, administrator, teacher, some other kind of professional? What and where has God's providence brought you? Moses and Elijah both fell under the weight of their assigned task, and wanted to die! In each case, it wasn't their particular lot or assignment that needed to be changed, but the way they were handling it!
Jesus has promised to help us carry our load, the burdens associated with our lot in life! In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
God through Jesus Christ will carry all the injustice suffered throughout life. I Peter 2:23 says, "Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously." In this life, we can count on being treated unjustly. Peter reminds us that Jesus came to suffer and die, "the just for the unjust," so that He might bring us to God! We must let God carry our cause and settle our accounts, when we are treated unfairly! This is what Jesus did on the cross! We are tempted to settle the score with people, but enemies never agree on the score. Retaliating will place us in a vicious cycle of revenge, that leads to a life of hate, anger and bitterness!
God through Jesus Christ will carry you to the grave and beyond. The Lord will carry you to your old age, to your graying years and beyond. Several times in the Old Testament we find the phrase, "gathered unto his people." In each case, it speaks of one of the patriarchs going home to be with the Lord. It is not described as a lonely trip ending in isolation, but a warm homecoming! God will carry you through difficult times, delivering you time and time again, until He finally delivers you from the pain of this world, to the joy of the next. He will get you there! Where? Jesus turned to the repentant thief on the cross, hanging by His side and said, "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise."
The Christian life is a life of partnership, being carried from the beginning to the end. In Hebrews 12:2, Jesus is described as "...the author and finisher of our faith." Give your burden to the Senior Partner!