Summary: You Are Not In the Dark 1) You have God's Word; 2) You have God's Christ
You can’t wait. You’ve worked for weeks and are confident that this year you’re going to win the prize for best costume at your friend’s annual masquerade party. When you show up to the party, however, all the guys are dressed in tuxedos and the gals in evening gowns. Somehow you failed to get the notice. This year’s party is a black tie event, not a costume affair, and so you feel more than a little silly standing there in your outfit made out of duct tape.
It’s no fun being in the dark, is it? Isn’t that why people love their smart phones so much? Don’t know what time the game is going to start? Look it up online. Can’t remember your friend’s address? Punch a few buttons and you’ll have it in no time. Between Google and GPS it seems next to impossible to be in the dark these days.
That’s what the people of Isaiah’s day thought too. They may not have had Google but they did have fortune tellers who were willing to tell paying customers anything they wanted to know. God of course doesn’t want us turning to palm readers and psychics to learn about our future, nor do we need to. The Holy Spirit assures us this morning that we are not in the dark regarding the future for we have God’s Word and we have God’s Christ.
Our text was written by the prophet Isaiah who lived about 700 years before Christ was born. This was a difficult time for the people of Judah. The northern kingdoms of Israel and Syria were bearing down on them and threatening to destroy Judah. Instead of turning to the Lord for help, however, wicked King Ahaz called out to the Assyrians. The king’s attitude rubbed off on the people of Judah. They were concerned about the future too. But instead of turning to the Lord, they turned to mediums who supposedly could contact the dead for answers. Listen again to what God had to say about that practice. “When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19)
In Japan where I grew up it was not uncommon to see fortunetellers and palm readers. They would set up their little tables in dark alcoves lit by a candle or two. Here in North America singer Dionne Warwick popularized the psychic hotline, and John Edwards was a hit with his show Crossing Over in which he would supposedly speak with deceased relatives of audience members. Many pass this off as harmless entertainment but that isn’t God’s attitude about it. If you want to know anything about the future, there is only one person who can give you reliable answers: God. And God doesn’t speak to us through the spirits of dead people. When people die, the Bible tells us, their bodies go in the ground and their souls go either to heaven or hell where they await Judgment Day.
I’m not sure if any of you are seriously tempted to consult mediums and spiritists about your future. We do, however, live under great pressure to plan our future in accord with the advice of Oprah, Dr. Phil, and other celebrities. We also often put great stock in what financial advisers have to say. Would we be in the dark if we didn’t keep up with what these people tell us about how to live our lives? On the contrary. God declared: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn” (Isaiah 8:20).
Everything you need to know about the present, everything you need to know about your future is here in God’s Word. Indeed, if the so-called experts around us don’t speak from God’s Word, they are in the dark. Our marriage enrichment event last weekend did a good job of reminding us of this truth. Everything couples need to know about marriage can be found in God’s Word. We don’t need the self-help books on the subject. God is clear about what makes for a successful and happy marriage: husbands, love your wife; wives, respect your husband.
The same is true of those trying to kick addictions. God’s Word gives you everything you need to know about that too. It speaks against lying to ourselves and others about our addiction. It tells us to take responsibility for our sin. It also assures us that in Christ we have forgiveness and the power to get over the addiction. Now I’m not saying that you can’t read self-help books or be part of a support group. There is value to these if they don’t contradict God’s Word. But let me remind you that your congregation is already a support group. We are men, women, and children who have fallen for Satan’s temptations and come here seeking God’s forgiveness and his strength to pick up the pieces and move on. We are not here to judge you but to walk with you. Let us help with the light of God’s Word.