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Wed. after Pentecost

Isaiah 45:18-21

Rev. Andrew Eckert

Wed. after Feast of Pentecost
Our Savior Lutheran Church  
Stevensville, MT

Wed, May 26, 2021 

Earlier in chapter 45, the Lord promised that He would send a savior for His people.  That savior’s name is Cyrus.  Isaiah recorded that prophecy long before Cyrus sat on the throne, in fact, long before the Medo-Persian empire seized power.  Isaiah prophesied when the Babylonians were in control.  But the Lord would send a new political power that would overthrow the Babylonians.  Destruction would fall upon that empire.  Instead, a new nation and a new king would come who would send the Jews back to their homeland so that they could rebuild their city and temple.

Into this context, Isaiah says to us, “He, the Lord, did not create the world to be chaos.” He did not create the earth in vain, nor does He do His works for the sole purpose of destroying and killing.  He has a better purpose.  He wants to save.

When the Babylonians held power and destroyed Jerusalem, the people could have said, “God made Israel only to destroy it again!” Surely some of them said exactly that.  It is an echo of what the people of Israel said long ago when they came out of Egypt: “God brought us out of slavery only to kill us in the wilderness!”

This is lack of faith.  But we also can sometimes lack faith in such ways.  Sometimes we see this man in power or this group stirring up violence.  We may think, “God created the United States, but He is letting it fall into confusion and destruction!” But we forget that God does not destroy to no purpose.  He allows chaos to happen so that He can recreate in a better way.  He makes a land empty so that a new people can come and receive it.

In the same way, the Israelites received the promised land and their enemies were destroyed before them.  So also the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, which at the time was largely populated by idol worshipers and rampant immorality, not the faithful people the Lord wanted.  So He destroyed and left the land all but empty so that He could later raise up a new people, a remnant brought back from captivity, who would serve Him faithfully.

When we see chaos and destruction happening and we think that only emptiness will remain, then we should remember that the Lord does not destroy to no purpose.  He is making a change, and He is creating something new.

The chief example of this is the Cross.  The disciples could say, “Look!  Our Lord has been arrested, tortured, and is dying!  All is lost, and God has destroyed the last hope that we had.” But they did not see what the Lord was creating in His own Blood.  They did not see that the destruction of God’s Son was actually creating a new people who would inherit the whole earth.  A new thing was coming into being, the new thing that will last forever.  So destruction is not the end.  Instead our end is resurrection and life eternal.

When we are in the midst of the chaos, we have trouble remembering the promises.  We are tempted to think, “Oh, woe is me!  Look how bad things are!  God has raised me up only to dash me back down again.” These are not words of faith.  Instead, flesh and blood pass judgment on God’s works, based on what our physical eyes see and our sinful heart imagines.

The Lord, knowing our weakness, leaves many promises for us.  In the same way He left promises for His people in Captivity so that they could be reminded and faith be stirred in their hearts. 

When we feel tribulation and affliction, God’s Spirit turn us toward His Word, that we be refreshed and lift up our heads again toward God’s mercy and grace.

So God says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other.  I did not speak in secret.  I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, “Seek Me,” in vain.”

In all His works, God is seeking to preserve your souls.  He speaks His Word.  He sends His Son.  He makes gracious promises, not in secret places, to rocks in the wilderness or to dumb animals who can’t understand.  No, He speaks for your benefit.  He sent His Son for your salvation.  He wants nothing else than that you trust in Him and be strengthened to life everlasting.

He says, “I the Lord speak the truth, I declare what is right.” In other words, He speaks righteousness.  He speaks the truth about His Son, who is called the Truth.  He speaks forgiveness and salvation from death and hell.  All this because He wants to save men.

Now compare our Lord with the idols.  Our God is worthy of worship.  The gods of the heathen are pieces of wood or silver or gold.  They are not living.  They do not move or speak.  A person who has an idol can pick it up and carry it around as if their god were baggage.

What righteousness comes from an idol that is a piece of wood?  None at all.  On the contrary, a piece of wood must be moved about from place to place.  They get dusty and need cleaning.  The so-called god needs a savior to rescue it if it is in danger.  If your house catches fire, you might rush into the house to rescue your god from danger.  Whereas the true Lord rescues His people from fire.

But what are our idols?  Are they any better?  Although we have the true God through faith by the Holy Spirit, yet the old diseased heart of sin in us still wants to worship pieces of wood, or pieces of paper.  Our god might be an automobile.  Our god might be a house.  Our god might be a television, or a phone.  All these things need to be carried around or moved by us.  They are not living or breathing.  They do not save in any meaningful way, although they may make us feel saved.

Our Lord saves us, whether we feel that we are saved or not.  Our Lord is not carried about, but He lifts up and carries us, as a Shepherd carrying His sheep.

There is an exception.  Our Lord can be carried about.  He gives Himself in and with bread and wine.  He may therefore be lifted up before the congregation’s eyes.  He may be carried back and forth to the Communion rail.

This is the exception that proves the rule.  He gives Himself to be carried, as once He was carried by Mary and Joseph, for the same purpose.  He made Himself carryable for us and our salvation.  He gives Himself for mouth and faith and forgiveness.  This is the opposite of a block of wood that someone bows down to because the block of wood cannot give itself to save.  But the Lord who is carried saves.

To all eternity, we saints shall be found in Him.  Amen.

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