Summary: We live in a world where it seems as if God is asleep as we see it taken captive to sin ever more and under the captivity of the devil. God is not asleep. He has a name to uphold, which he has and he will.
November 13, 2005 Isaiah 52:1-6
Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor, O Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again. Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion. For this is what the LORD says: “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.” For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “At first my people went down to Egypt to live; lately, Assyria has oppressed them. “And now what do I have here?” declares the LORD. “For my people have been taken away for nothing, and those who rule them mock,” declares the LORD. “And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed. Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I.”
Remember the LORD’S Reputation
I. The LORD cares about His reputation
Ever since I was in college a familiar phrase has taken over our American society. What is that phrase? “Whatever.” It more or less means, “I don’t really care.” I remember the first time somebody said that to me, I was rather angry because I felt I was being blown off. Yet now I hear the term used on a regular basis, and it doesn’t bother me. What has changed? Perhaps it is the fact that a majority of us live with that attitude - “whatever.” This is the easy way to go through life - “who cares?” If I want to eat my dinner with my left hand, that’s my business - I don’t care what you think. If I don’t feel like letting you into traffic because I’m in a hurry, I don’t care if you are going to get angry with me about it. I don’t care what you think of me. I’m going to do what I’m going to do because I want to do it. Period.
Many of us like to imagine that we don’t care what people think of us - but most of us - we don’t really live that way. As much as Terrell Owens - the unpopular wide former wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles - makes off like he doesn’t care what people think, I can almost guarantee you that deep inside it bothers him to have such a bad reputation. Even if he likes his bad reputation - he still is concerned about what people think of him because he wants people to think he doesn’t care. If you hear your child say, “I don’t love you!”, that will bother you. If you overhear your student telling another student, “he’s a lousy teacher,” it bothers you. If a good friend of yours never calls anymore, you naturally are concerned that if you said something or did something to anger him or her.
What about God? Does He care what you think of Him? Why should He? Honestly? Why should He? We don’t care about what the ants think of us. Whether we like God or hate Him has no affect on His power or His position. It’s not as if we can vote Him out of His position if we don’t like the way He rules the universe. We in America can’t say, “God, we have decided that since you are allowing terrorism and bringing hurricanes you can no longer be in charge.” No. It doesn’t work that way. Yet the interesting thing is that even though God doesn’t make decisions in order to be popular with people, God DOES care. The Almighty God who lives in the heavens and tells angels where to go, who commands the sun to come up and the storms to crash, cares about what we think about Him.
The proof of this is seen in today’s text. The Israelites were IGNORING God. You have to understand that God in His omnipresence did not create the world apart from Himself. He didn’t make us to live in a separate reality. The very first commandment that God gives us is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. (Deut 6:5) Think about when you wake up in the morning and put your makeup on, take your shower, get ready for school - you’ve already slapped God in the face. How? You never thought about God - how you’re going to please HIM today - you didn’t THANK Him for giving you life this day. That’s how God wants us to live - with our eyes constantly on HIM. He lives in us and EXPECTS us to keep our eyes focused on Him. The Israelites were not just somewhat ignoring God. They were completely rejecting Him - worshiping Baals and Ashteroths - completely rejecting His Lordship. SO - God decided, THAT’S ENOUGH. He sent the Assyrians - first of all - to come in and take the Northern Israelites captive. When that didn’t work to bring the Southern Kingdom to repentance - He sent Isaiah to warn them of the Babylonian Captivity to come as well. He HATES it when people ignore Him - especially His CHOSEN people.