Summary: The Sunday of Fulfillment. A sermon based on the OT lesson from Isaiah, concentrating on the fulfillment of God’s promises to those He has chosen.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
40 years ago yesterday the president of the United States was assassinated.
Many of you in this room remember where you were and what you were doing on that cold, winter-like day in November, 1963.
You may remember the next 3 or 4 days as they churned out in front of you on TV, for the most part, in ghostly black and white images.
· The arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald,
· That, followed by his assassination on live TV by Jack Ruby,
· The body of the slain president lying in state in the Rotunda of the Capital in Washington, D.C.,
· The funeral procession with a cadence of drums that still echo in my mind,
· The saluting of the young boy known as John-John as his father’s flag draped coffin moved slowly by
· The eulogy given by a brother who would 5 short years later himself be the victim of an assassins bullet,
· The eternal flame which still flickers at Arlington National Cemetery.
Many of you remember it and many of you have been watching the countless memorials and TV specials that have been commemorating that day.
Forty years have gone by. More than one congressional committee has investigated what happened on that day.
Movies have been made; conspiracy theories have been advanced and debunked.
Scores of books and tens of thousands of words have been written, mostly trying to answer the unanswerable questions of who, and how, and most importantly, why.
But still, we don’t know all the answers and we probably never will.
I can remember in confirmation class, the pastor telling us that when we got to heaven all of our questions would be answered.
At a young age, I determined that the questions surrounding that day in November 1963, would be one of the first things that I would ask God to explain to me when I met Him face to face.
I was angry with God for allowing that to happen and I wanted some answers.
That was 40 years ago.
A lot has happened to me and to our world during those passing 40 years.
I’ve added a lot more questions to my list, but I’ve also come to the realization that when I enter into heaven, I won’t really care about those things anymore.
What seems so important now, will be replaced by a new reality; a reality of being in the presence of God.
I would like to focus this morning on our OT lesson from the Book written by the prophet Isaiah, but, like last week, and the week before, we can’t just look at the text set before us, we need to look at what surrounds it.
Chapter 51 of Isaiah’s writings follows on the heels of the third of what are known as “the Servant songs” of Isaiah. In chapter 50, we heard the servant speak of the suffering, pain, humiliation and death he would suffer in order to bring light to the world.
Now, right at the beginning of chapter 51 we hear an exhortation from God.
I invite you to listen to the first 3 verses:
"Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many. The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”
My friends, this is a call to the faithful remnant of Abraham’s descendents.
This is a message of hope, of joy, of redemption, of salvation to the Jews.
I said this began with an exhortation. Sometimes, an exhortation can be thought of as urging, or prompting, or perhaps even goading.
In this case though, when Yahweh cries out, “Listen to me…”, I think you can almost hear it as a plea.
God is calling on His chosen people, not to look at their present day situation and give in to despair, but to remember the promise that He made to their forefather Abraham.
Look where you came from, who you came from.
I promised to Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. I blessed him, and from one, he became many.
I promised him land and I delivered him, and then again his descendants, to a land they could call their own.