Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

83 Clarence Street, Ballymena BT43 5DR
Rev. Angus Stewart
Lord’s Day, 6 May, 2012

"Those that be planted in the house of the Lord
shall flourish in the courts of our God" (Ps. 92:13)

Morning Service - 11:00 AM
The True Way of Worshipping God   [download]  [youtube]
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 46
Text: Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 35
I. No to Making and Bowing to Images
II. Yes to Remembering and Listening to Jehovah
Psalms: 46:1-7; 135:1-7; 115:1-11; 71:3-10

Evening Service - 6:00 PM
The Exaltation of Jesus Christ  [download]  [youtube]
Scripture Reading: Philippians 2
Text: Philippians 2:9-11

I. Its Glorious Meaning
II. Its Universal Confession
Psalms: 118:20-29; 135:8-14; 68:18-22; 110:1-6

For CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship services, contact Stephen Murray
If you desire a pastoral visit, please contact Rev. Stewart

CPRC website:
CPRC YouTube:
CPRC Facebook:

Quote to Consider:

John Calvin on Philippians 2:9: "For it is the design of the Holy Spirit, that we should, in the death of Christ, see, and taste, and ponder, and feel, and recognise nothing but God’s unmixed goodness, and the love of Christ toward us, which was great and inestimable, that, regardless of himself, he devoted himself and his life for our sakes. In every instance in which the Scriptures speak of the death of Christ, they assign to us its advantage and price;—that by means of it we are redeemed—reconciled to God—restored to righteousness—cleansed from our pollutions—life is procured for us, and the gate of life opened."

Announcements (subject to God’s will)

We welcome Briana Prins to our worship services today. Briana is finishing her classes at the University of Limerick and will be returning to the US soon.

The second offering this morning will be for our building fund.

Everyone is welcome to stay for tea after this evening’s service.

On the back table are complete sets of the most recent volume (XIII) of the CR News. These are available free, as are previous volumes.

Our Tuesday morning Bible study meets at 11 AM on "Eschatology and Time." We will discuss more NT texts on sin in the last days.

Belgic Confession Class meets Wednesday at 7:45 PM to study Article 15 on original sin.

Next Lord’s Day, Rev. McGeown will preach for us while Rev. Stewart preaches in the Limerick Reformed Fellowship.

The Reformed Witness Hour broadcast next Lord’s Day (Gospel 846MW at 8:30 AM) will be "So I Prayed and Said…" (Neh. 2:1-10) by Rev. Haak.

The CPRC Annual General Meeting will be held upstairs on Monday, 14 May, at 7:45 PM. All are welcome to join us to hear reports on the work of the CPRC, including a report from our missionary, Rev McGeown, a financial report, an audio-visual report, etc. The Council will also present a proposal for the vote of all male confessing members to purchase the manse from the PRC. Tea will be served following the meeting.

Family Visitation is to start Monday, 21 May.

Offerings: General Fund: £881.22. Donations: £20 (DVDs), £200 (DVDs).

Website Additions: 1 Hungarian, 3 Afrikaans and 3 Spanish translations were added. Transcripts of some of the Belgic Confession classes are also now on-line.

God, the Incomparable Bearer of His People

Homer Hoeksema (Redeemed With Judgment, vol 2, pp. 204-206)


Although Isaiah lived during the time of Hezekiah, long before Judah’s captivity in Babylon, the prophet sees the future captivity, the rise of Cyrus to power, God’s judgment upon Babylon, and an end to the captivity through Cyrus’ conquest and destruction of the city and power of Babylon, the captors of God’s people.

With a view to the captivity, therefore, Isaiah speaks words of comfort, salvation, and deliverance to God’s people.

The comforting thought of the text forms a sharp contrast with the preceding verses, which mention the Babylonian gods Bel and Nebo. Bel was the chief god of the Babylonians, likely similar in position among their idols to the Greek god Jupiter (confer Daniel’s Babylonian name Belteshazzar). Nebo, possibly similar to the Greek god Mercury, was the god especially of the royal family, as is plain from the names of many Babylonian kings (confer Nebuchadnezzar).

With holy sarcasm Isaiah speaks of the fall of these gods. In the crisis of Babylon’s judgment and destruction, the idols of Babylon appear as vanity. Precisely at the crucial time and at the critical moment, when the Babylonians need help, when they need someone to protect them, when they need someone to carry them and to deliver them, Bel bows down! Bel is stricken, you might say, with a fatal heart attack. And Nebo stoops. Nebo is paralyzed, as by a stroke. Bel and Nebo fall down, and they appear as they really are—absolutely powerless to do anything at all.

Cyrus and the hosts of the Medes and Persians come and carry these idols away. They are gods, after all, who must be carried about by men. This is the nature of an idol, and this is the intention of the idol worshiper, for he must have a god whom he can carry where he wills. For this reason idols are vanity and emptiness. Will Babylon’s gods save those who put their trust in them? No. The Medes and Persians come and take up those gods and load them on beasts of burden and on ox carts. Bel and Nebo can do nothing about it, and they are themselves taken into captivity.

In sharp contrast with the emptiness of the idols is the message of the text. God, the incomparable bearer of his people, says, "Hearken unto me, Jacob and Israel: I have borne you from your birth. I will continue to carry you to the very end, and I will deliver you."

In order to understand these words, we must keep in mind that they stand in direct contrast not only with verses 1 and 2, but also with verses 5 through 7, which describe the doings of the idol worshipers. Several thoughts are implied.

First, idol worshipers form their own gods. They pour gold from a bag. They hire a goldsmith to make an idol for them, and they furnish the goldsmith with silver to make decorations for their idols. Their idols are the choices of their own hearts, and they decide what their gods shall be.

Second, the worshipers do with their idol what they will. This is graphically described in verse 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." When they set an idol in its place, the idol simply cannot move from that place. They determine where the idol shall stand and how the idol shall be served. The idol is not involved whatsoever in these decisions.

Third, the idol is absolutely powerless to save its worshipers: "Yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble" (v. 7). This is also pictured in the first two verses, according to which Bel and Nebo, the supposedly great gods of the Babylonians are unable to help their worshipers against the enemy. Instead the enemy simply loads them onto ox carts and carries them away along with their worshipers. Exactly at the critical moment, precisely when they need help in the time of trouble, the worshipers of idols are put to shame. Such is the true nature of all idols, not only of idols of silver and gold, such as the Babylonians had, but also of all idols today. An idol is someone who or something that is worshiped next to or instead of the one true God as he has revealed himself in his word. You do not need an image of silver or gold to have an idol. You can have an idol of the mind as well. You can have an idol that is a false conception of God. You can have an idol who goes by the name of the God of the Scriptures, but who is not a god according to the Scriptures. Any god who is not the God who has revealed himself in his word is an idol. And what has been said about the idols of the Babylonians is true of all such idols.

Hence all trust in idols is absolutely vain.