Summary: A holiday word of encouragement to the distressed.
Hanging On When You Feel Like Letting Go
December 1, 2002
Holidays-family, friends, shopping, vacation, TV specials, parades, lights
A. Can be fun, but also fearful
-Reunion of contentious family
-drunk relative who embarrasses themselves, everyone else
-when your child is the pregnant teen dropout/ child in jail
B. Fearful excitement of Israel
Assyria, Babylon, now Persia
(vs 7)- feeling of abandonment (not a people, nation, no land)
-in pain, fear prophet cries (vss 1-3)
-history of salvation (Remember, God!)
The coming of God stirs things up. This is frightening for those not in align with God’s will, but for those who are faithful and obedient it is longed for. (vs 5a)
Upon closer examination, though, we realize we have not been obedient.
We recognize our sin (vs 6)
Our response is to ‘try’-manipulate our morality, the situation, even God
[Upon learning of our state, or, in actuality, admitting, we try to minimize the damage; we live in a self help age. We believe we can solve all of our problems simply by ‘working’ through them with the help of others.]
Ill-when we go to the doctor for a checkup and are told our cholesterol is too high, we ‘manipulate’ our lives/lifestyle. We exercise, diet, use medication.
Ill-when we have a relationship problem (problem in marriage, with children, with coworkers) we seek support to solve the problem of our own strength
-eventually we realize the futility
-our righteousness is as "filthy rags"-Paul’s experience
Yet in spite of our great sin, we are still your children, the work of your hands. Does this not count for something?
Israel, who gropes her way, struggling in despair -Matthew 4:16
"The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light."
"Jesus is the reason for the season"-let us remember the deeper reality; why Jesus has to be the reason for the season.
Conclusion: vs 4-"no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides thee, who works for those who wait for him." Isaiah 64:1-9
[1 Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!]
[2 Like a fire that burns twigs, like a fire that makes water boil, let your enemies know who you are. Then all nations will shake with fear when they see you.]
[3When you came down long ago, you did awesome things beyond our highest expectations,] [the mountains saw you and shook with fear.]
[4For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!]
[5 You [help] those who find joy in doing what is right, those who remember how you want them to live. You were angry with us, but we went on sinning; in spite of your great anger we have continued to do wrong since ancient times.] [How can people like us be saved?]
[6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.]
[7 No one worships you or even asks you to help us. That is because you have turned away from us and have let our sins destroy us.]