Summary: Sermon looks at Is. 64 and contrasts what Isaish saw as spiritual needs and what the church needs today
What the church in North America needs today - Isaiah 64:1-9 (TLB)
Well good morning. In case you didn’t notice there have been two dramatic things that recently occurred in North America. First Stephen Harper was re-elected as Canada’s Prime Minister. Secondly and more striking Obama was elected as the first black President in the United States. Stephen Harper in his victory speech claimed ‘change is happening now.’ Obama rhetoric was ‘yes we can.’ Both of these men were elected with the hopes of a change, something new, a new day, and a rainbow in the sky.
Both of these men saw their countries in need of dramatic change. As I looked at both of those countries I believe those elected men are right. Both Canada and the United States are countries that do need dramatic change.
I often think about our own country. I often think what kind of change do we really need?
I remember standing in front of an old sandstone church in downtown Ottawa, I looked at the plaque and noted Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister had helped found that church.
I noted there was a Bible verse on that plaque. It was psalm 72:8 ‘He shall have dominion from sea to sea.’
As I thought about both elected men I do not recall either one of them publicly calling on God for renewal or revival.
In contrast President Franklin Roosevelt, former U.S. president (1882–1945) said ‘I doubt if there is a problem—political or economic—that will not melt before the fire of a spiritual awakening.’
Unlike Harper and Obama, Isaiah in his day made a call for renewal, repentance, revival, a visitation from God.
Have you ever had a bad hair day? This was a bad hair day for Isaiah. He was proclaiming to God’s people a prophecy that they would be in bondage in Babylon 120 years later. They were going into exile. The Temple, God’s house had been trashed by the Babylonians. They were carried away captive. Because the people were shallow, their ears were burning to hear false prophets.
Furthermore if you have ever had to communicate a truth to someone they did not want to hear – well they didn’t want to hear Isaiah either.
They did not want to hear the messages that God had laid upon Isaiah to speak. They wanted to hear what they thought they needed, not what God had revealed to Isaiah to say to them.
Have you ever felt that you were in bondage? Have you ever felt God please show yourself powerful to me today.
They were in spiritual bondage. Spiritually they were very shallow. They had no sense of the presence of God.
God led Isaiah to say some difficult things. Like many of the prophets he had a difficult life. He lived during the reign of the wicked king Manasseh. Manasseh reversed the reforms of his father Hezekiah. That meant he reinstated pagan worship in the Jerusalem temple, for which he is condemned by the author of Kings. He built altars to false gods all over Israel. His reign may be described as reactionary in relation to his father’s. Church history suggests that Manasseh executed supporters of his father’s reforms. His father Hezekiah had destroyed pagan shrines. Manasseh put them all back in and he reinstituted human sacrifice.
Sin on our nations will always be judged by God and we are no exception. Israel went to exile. As I look at our countries I believe were in a spiritual exile.
Church history suggests that Isaiah was sawn in two during the reign of Manasseh.
Yet God really used Isaiah. Jesus quoted Isaiah a lot and so did the Apostles.
Isaiah says there are five things the people in his day needed. I believe this is what our church needs today, right here at Calvary. Isaiah’s message is for us, for our churches today. The first thing the church needs is:
1. The Presence of God
Isaiah senses the emptiness, the lack of spiritual power, the empty spirituality of God’s people. The Apostle Paul had the same concern. He warned Timothy about the church in the last days. Many will have a form of godliness but deny its power. Many in the Ephesus church had an outward form of godliness but there was no spiritual power.
Isaiah knew his people. He knew their waywardness. He is questioning whether God will work because his community is so sinful.
The Holy Spirits power is still there. But often Christians or churches are experiencing weak spiritual power. They are spiritually dry and the church has little power or influence on our communities.
Have you ever felt spiritually dry? Have you ever felt that the church lacks spiritual power? I think about that a great deal, especially since Jesus said you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes.