Summary: This is an exploration of Isaiah’s struggle to find God.
Isaiah 63:7 – 64:12 --- We Are Yours
Intro: When I was about 7 or 8 years old my mother took me shopping. Back then, that was “AN EVENT.” When we pulled into the parking space my mother said to me, “If we somehow get separated and you can’t find me, come back here to the car and wait for me.” --- Even then I loved to go shopping. I liked looking at all the merchandise even though I had no money to buy anything. There were so many people shopping that it didn’t take long for me to get separated from my mother. I searched and searched the store and just couldn’t find her! Then, I remembered what Mom had said. “If we got separated, go to the car and wait.” So I did! I guess it was about 30 minutes before my mother finally came to the car only she was accompanied by two men in blue suits carrying guns. It seems my mother had missed me in the store. They had locked the doors and would let no one in or out while the searched all six stories only to find me still missing. I was in big trouble and all I did was what I was told. I went to the car and waited.
I. Chapters 40-66 are believed to be written by a different author than the first 39 chapters, somewhere between 740 BCE – 500 BCE Chapters 60 through 66 are, in Hebrew, a poem in which the author recalls God’s history with His chosen people and laments over their lack of faithfulness.
A. Chapter 63:7 through 64:12 is representative of the entire poem. Some of the words and expressions used are reminiscent of Psalm 74. It is a cry for God to show up at this time and place to help us deal with the mess in which we find ourselves.
B. The date of the material is important because of the history of the Hebrew people at that time. They were either being held captive in Babylonia or they had just returned to their homeland to find it ravaged and destroyed.
C. Sound familiar? --- Have we not all heard stories that bemoan the state of affairs here in our community? --- Don’t you feel at times like the forgotten victims of hurricane Rita when the attention of the media is focused on the survivors of hurricane Katrina? Sometimes, I do! I can relate well to the opening verses of Chapter 63 which laments and asks, Where is God? You can almost feel the emotions of the author as you read the first part of verse 5 – “I looked, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that no one gave support;”
II. When you read these words it is like eavesdropping on someone’s prayers. Deutero-Isaiah prays a fervent pray asking for God’s pity (63:15 through 64:5).
A. The prayer begins by recounting the wonderful deeds of God on behalf of the people in the past. Let’s walk down “memory lane.” Remember the “GOOD OLD DAYS, GOD?” Days when things were a lot simpler and we were happy.
B. Chapter 64, verse 3 – 4 says, “For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.“ Isaiah and his people are waiting, anticipating, longing for God to act.
C. Much in the same way, we wait. That’s what the season of advent is about. It is anticipating, longing, knowing God will act. Verse 5a says, “You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways.” But there in the middle of the verse you can sense a change in attitude. Isaiah remembers it isn’t God who has moved away from humanity, it is the other way around.
III. The final section begins with verse 6 of chapter 64 and concludes with verse 12. Here we see Isaiah realizing the sinful nature of God’s people. In these verses Isaiah speaks of the human condition.
A. The concluding words of verse 5 speak to our world today as much as they did at the time of Isaiah. “How then can we be saved?”
B. We don’t deserve and have not earned our relationship with God. We, too, are sinners who need God. But, Christmas comes each year to remind us that Jesus is a gift, a gift from God. A gift we have not earned, nor do we deserve. But nonetheless, the gift is given; not just at Christmas but all through the year. Why? Why would God do such a thing?