Summary: We need to see the world through God's eyes, the pain of our sin and rebellion.
The Gospel According To Isaiah: Part 3
Isaiah 1:1-5, 12-20
March 11, 2012
Rev. Stephen Aram
Has anybody here seen the movie “The Lorax” yet? Our second son, Justin, and his wife, Brooke took our grandson, Weston to see it. I haven’t seen it yet, but I have loved the book since the first time I heard the story. It’s by Dr. Seuss and it’s a fun, silly story, with a profound message.
The story starts in a really beautiful place. It is filled with truffula trees, which came in beautiful colors and the tops were tufts of the softest fluff you can imagine. Brown Bar-ba-loots lived there, frisking around and happily living on fruit from the truffala trees. They were a sort of monkey. There was a pond where beautiful swans lived and humming fish swam, making a beautiful humming sound. It was like the Garden of Eden.
Then Mr. Onceler came and had the brilliant idea that if he cut down one truffala tree, he could weave a sort of sweater out of the truffula tuft. He called it a Thneed and told people they would really need to have a thneed. So he cut down one tree. Then he cut down another and another and another. He called his family and they made a factory and built a very efficient operation. But soon the Brown Bar-ba-loots had to leave because there was no more fruit for them to eat. The swans left because the factory polluted their air. The humming fish left because the pond was polluted. And soon the truffula trees were all gone and the Garden of Eden was left as a desolate waste.
But I haven’t told you about the Lorax. When Mr. Onceler cut down his first tree, the Lorax popped out of the stump. Dr. Seuss says
“He was shortish. And oldish.
And brownish. And mossy.
And he spoke with a voice
that was sharpish and bossy.”
“Mister!” he said with a sawdusty sneeze,
“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.
I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.
And I’m asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs” –
He was very upset as he shouted and puffed—
“What’s that THING you’ve made out of my Truffala tuft?”
And throughout the story as Mr. Onceler is happily cutting down the trees and making money, the Lorax keeps showing up and warning him about how foolish he is being. Mr. Onceler had good times once, but by his greed he was destroying his own future!
That’s just a cute story for kids, isn’t it? It doesn’t have anything to do with real life, right? Dr. Seuss published it way back n 1971. And every year since he wrote it his message has become more urgent. We are destroying our earth. This is a story we all need to listen to. The Lorax spoke for the trees.
Who speaks for God? We have opinions on everything under the sun: what the starlets wore to the Oscars, the Colts releasing Payton Manning, Snooki being pregnant, the economy, the weather. Political candidates live by the most incredible technology for figuring out what people want to hear, so they can make their message just as pleasing as possible. Maybe you’ve seen on TV that during the candidate debates CNN selects a focus group, equips them with clickers or some sort of dial so that they can watch the performance of a candidate and record their impression minute by minute. The lines on the display go up and down to measure whether potential voters approve or not. And the candidates mold their message to what people want to hear. And they mold it once for what people want to hear in Michigan, then again to what they want to hear in Alabama and again and again and again. And when they do hear that some people are unhappy with what they said the campaign manager comes right out to fix it by saying his candidate didn’t really mean it. Is it any wonder that opinion polls rate politicians about the lowest approval scores they have ever had?
But who speaks for God? Who tells us what we need to hear? Is there a voice that sees the big picture, that sees where we are heading, that understands the way the world ought to be and speaks up for that vision, who cuts through all the petty human ambitions and spins and distractions and says, “Here’s how God sees it, and we’re fools if we don’t listen”? And we may need them to say it a bit “sharpish and bossy.”
This morning I want to talk about Isaiah as a prophet because it is the job of the prophet to speak for God. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for prophet was often a seer, one who saw things that everybody else missed, who saw the big picture, what all of our human foolishness was adding up to, who saw that long forgotten, wonderful blueprint that God had in mind when he planned out the human race, who saw the remedies that God was offering, who felt the broken heart of God as he saw his Eden being destroyed.