Summary: Inspite of our disobedience, God shows us kindness and grace.
Dec. 26, 2010 Isaiah 63:7-9 C & Z “A Christian Flag”
Once again I hope that you all had a very merry Christmas. This is a great time of year for us. We get together with our family and celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is also a time when our church families celebrate and we always enjoy this. Before the season began, I counted the Christmas programs that we should attend. We had 8 or 9 and we made 6 or 7. We only missed two. I thought I might really be tired of programs by the time we were done but as I left each one, I felt a sense of awe and wonder. It’s amazing the feelings we get if we just allow Jesus to permeate our lives. But good feelings aren’t the only emotions felt this time of year. Many people suffer from depression during Christmas for many different reasons. I also know that there are many people who suffer from some sort of buyer’s remorse after Christmas. They went out and bought more than they could afford. I think I could list conditions that set off depression during this period and some would make sense and others wouldn’t. We are funny creatures in that we can get emotional for almost no reason at all. This morning we are going to look at this reading in Isaiah that is packed full of emotion, God’s emotions. I think that this is a pretty good place to start because God gave us this ability to feel.
Sometimes I think that we feel a little bit more than is actually true and Melvin Newland sums this up in a story he told of some nursing home residents who were sitting around discussing their various ailments. One said, “My arms are so weak I can barely lift this cup of coffee.” “Well, at least you can see your cup,” answered another. “My cataracts are so bad that it’s hard for me to see mine.” A third resident was not about to be outdone said, “What about arthritis? Mine’s so bad that I can’t even turn my head.” And still another person had to add, “My blood pressure pills make me very dizzy. I guess that’s the price we pay for getting old.” We have all heard this type of talk and there may be one or two of us this morning that are guilty of this. Anyway, there seemed to be general agreement with this gloomy assessment from these residents until one woman spoke up. “Wait a minute. It’s not that bad,” she said. “At least we can all still drive!”
The first emotion that Isaiah talks about is of the love that is shown in all the kindness that God had already shown to his people. Notice that the author doesn’t even go into details here. The audience at the time of the writing is probably in exile. They are probably in some sort of deep remorse for all the wrong they have done that brought them to this point, exile.
In other words they know their history. They know what they have done wrong. They know that they have been disobedient. They know that they have not followed the Commandments. They know that they have not followed the Law. They know that they have been worshipping idols.
And yet look what God has done for them. All they have to do is go back into their history and they can see how faithful God has been to them, even though they have not been faithful in return. He brought them out of Egypt. He gave them the Promised Land. He gave them manna, meat, and water when they wandered the wilderness. And I am very sure that there were many, many times in their personal lives where God helped them. He would help them if they were faithful.
Many times we look at what God did in the Old Testament and we see a lot of judgment. And this is true. God did show them and us what He means by judgment. It goes back to just plain common sense. If you do something wrong, then you are responsible for the consequences. In this case, the people as a whole did things that were wrong so the nation of Israel suffered because of this. God is totally fair. Just think of the difference there would be in the world if the nation of Israel had just followed God instead of breaking away from Him at every chance they got. There would be a different world today.
Speaking of different worlds, we live in one today. Someone sent me a very interesting email with a beautiful song called “Where Is the Line for Jesus.” It is about the long lines in a mall to see Santa. A little boy wants to know where the line for Jesus is. I think that this is a very good question. Which way would we take our children and grandchildren if we had a choice between Santa and Jesus? I know us older folks would say the line for Jesus. But if the children could make a choice on their own, which way would they go? It would be an interesting scenario.