Summary: God promised that He’s provide the way for Ahaz and Judah to put things together properly, and, true to His Word, He did!
He Found a Way
March 10, 2001
A Communion Service
How many of you have ever purchased something that you had to assemble? I’ve done a fair bit of that over the years. I’ve bought and assembled a couple of children’s bicycles- they look simple, but watch out! We’ve bought and assembled quite a number of items from Ikea- a couple of desks, chairs, baby high chair, bookshelves, and a computer desk. Maybe you have, too. Hey, I think the top, in difficulty, of the buy and assemble kinds of things is a barbecue. Have you bought and had to assemble one of those? I remember one of the two that I’ve done and the first time having parts left over.
Now, when we might be sweating and fuming over assembling something doesn’t something always happen? Isn’t there always somebody who comes around and says something like, “Have you read the instructions?” “Why don’t you read the instruction sheet?” Now, we know that most of us don’t ‘need’ to do that, right? Well, wrong, as we find out and, hopefully, will admit! Often, it’s hard to put ‘ready to assemble’ items together without the instructions. Having, and following, the instructions often make assembly easy as we follow the directions A-B-C, or Step 1-Step 2-Step 3. (Then, again, sometimes the instructions are written in some version of English that makes following them a bit more than difficult, too!) It seems, though, overall, that it’s hard to just ‘know’ how to put things together, and we need a guide, of some sort, to be able to do that well.
It’s not only with made-to-assemble items that we might have difficulty with knowing how to put things together.
Let me tell you about some people, a long time ago, who had the same trouble and on a much bigger scale than dealing with furniture from Ikea. The story focuses on one person, named Isaiah.
Isaiah was born before 750 BC in Jerusalem, and had a very devout father, named Amoz, who gave him his name which meant, “may the Lord save”. Jerusalem was relatively peaceful at the time and probably Isaiah grew up in an affluent home. It would likely have been spacious with exterior walls in rough, stucco-covered bricks, and the interior walls of carefully fitted slabs of smooth, buff-colored limestone.
Custom says that Amoz took charge of Isaiah’s education at about the age of five, and that the most important lessons concerned the covenant the Lord had made with the Israelites. Amoz stressed its rigid code of justice and protection in exchange for righteous conduct, and those lessons influenced Isaiah for the rest of his life as a prophet of the Lord. As he grew older, he was tutored, either privately or with his brothers and other boys, by the priests who kept the Torah, which included the laws, history, poetry and other scriptures of the nation. He would have been taught to form numbers for basic arithmetic. Besides his hours of class, he would have more carefree times, too where he would sing and dance with boys and girls of his age in the streets of his neighborhood, and would wrestle and box with other youths or compete in tugs-of-war. He’d, also, play some intellectual, indoor games resembling chess and cribbage.
While he was growing up, the economy boomed as King Uzziah began to develop Judah’s resources and foreign trade. But not a lot of that prosperity reached the lower classes. There were heartless moneylenders and merchants who cheated buyers with false weights and measures. The courts were polluted with bribery, and even the priesthood was corrupt and ignored the plight of the underprivileged. Isaiah was a sensitive young mane and must have been increasingly troubled by the rampant injustice and frustrated by his inability to fight it.
When he was in his early twenties, a profound emotional experience opened a path to action.
King Uzziah died of leprosy about 742 BC. The coronation of his son Jotham was timed to coincide with the new-year festival. Hundreds of people, wearing white festival robes, were waiting for the eastern gates of the Jerusalem temple to open at dawn. New Year’s Day, the Festival of Trumpets, was the only time those gates were unlocked.
Many of us have had exciting experiences in times of special worship during our days- times when we were so excited and when we experienced the presence of God in unusual ways. This may have been one of those times for Isaiah. When the first light appeared in the east over the Mount of Olives, the gates swing open. Sunlight streamed into the eastern courtyard, across the great altar near the center and the sanctuary at the western end. Jotham, in coronation robes of purple embroidered with threads of gold, led a solemn procession into the courtyard. It may have been during this ceremony that Isaiah suddenly had a soul-stirring vision of God’s temple. He writes, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim… And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’” At this time, Isaiah had a feeling of being unclean and unworthy and he wrote of how God visited him and made his mouth and heart clean.