Pentecost 7 (Proper 11), July 19, 2020

Knowing the Lord, the One

Text: Isaiah 44:6–8

  • In CONTRAST to last week where we learned what the PEOPLE wanted from their god and what they wanted god to do – we are given today WHO God is and what God does!!
  • When everything around us seems to be telling us one thing, it is often difficult to believe something else. It was difficult for the people of Isaiah’s day, and it is no less difficult for us today. 
  • We have God’s promise of love and forgiveness. We have his assurance that he is in control and the ultimate victory is his, but our eyes tell us that maybe God has things mixed up. 
  • Sin and evil seem to have the upper hand, not God. We often feel as if we are the ones in exile, far from the reality of God and his promises. 
  • Maybe the “idols” of wealth and material goods, selfish desires, and self-centeredness would serve me better. 
  • Maybe God isn’t God after all.
  • In our text God issues a challenge to any would-be gods and to us. He invites us to remember who he is and what he has done by announcing 3 names – 
  • He is our King (A true king is always mindful of the condition of those under him.)
  • Lord Almighty (Sabaoth Angel Armies/Host)
  • Redeemer. (The verb ga’al (“to redeem, ransom”) denotes a next-of-kin relative who may “avenge the blood” of someone in his family who has been murdered (Num 35:12–27), buy back property or a person enslaved (Lev 25:24–54), or care for a childless widow (Ruth 3:13). 
  • Because of commitment to his family, the kinsman-redeemer marshals his superior power and resources to assist those in need. 
  • Remember it, believe it, cling to it. He truly is who he claims to be. He boldly calls the idols what they truly are, nothing. 
  • If they have any power, let them show it. If they have any ability, let them prove it. “I was there at the beginning of time. Were you?”
  • STORY….the pastor picked up his Bible. “God has allowed me to be there for all these events and more because he loved me enough to record them for me in his Word.” We, too, have the privilege of “being there” through the eyes of faith as God has revealed these events to us in his Word.

The text is an oracle that appears within the larger section of the Book of Isaiah in which the Lord speaks comfort to his people, Israel, who have been delivered to their enemies and sent into exile on account of their sins (Is 40–55). 

  • The divine comfort and word of forgiveness is joined to the Lord’s word of promise for Israel. The Lord, who has departed from Zion, will return there. As he comes, he will bring his people with him (40:9–11; 43:1–7; 46:3–13). 

The promises of God have their fulfillment not only this present time but also beyond it.

  • The Lord’s fulfillment of his promises—in both their earthly and eschatological dimensions—is utterly new and unexpected. It establishes that the Lord alone is the Creator of all things. Israel is thereby to come to know the Lord, the Creator of all things, as its Creator (40:25–31; 41:17–20; 42:5–9; 44:21–28; 46:3–13, and further). 
  • These saving acts of the Creator are not for Israel alone! Just as the Lord’s promises transcend all earthly hopes, so their fulfillment reaches beyond the bounds of the nation. The Creator’s fulfillment of his promises to Israel will bring the saving knowledge of him to the nations (42:1–18; 45:1–7, 22–25; 49:1–6, and further). 

The Lord will therewith put all idolaters and their idols to shame.

  • It is this contention of the Lord with idolaters and their idols that stands as the backdrop to the oracles of salvation throughout this section of the Book of Isaiah (40:12–41:29; 42:8–9; 43:8–13; 44:9–28; 45:9–46:13, and further).
  • Israel is not innocent in this matter. It, too, has disbelieved the Lord and turned to the idols. The Lord now confronts his people and, in his mercy, calls them back to himself (42:18–25; 43:1–13, 22–28; 46:3–13; 48:1–11, and further). 
  • Israel thus is to become a “witness” to the Lord in a special sense. The Lord’s fulfillment of his promises to Israel establishes that he alone is the one true God. It is as the object of the redeeming work of the Lord that Israel is thus to be the Lord’s witness (42:8–9; 43:8–13; 44:23; 45:1–25, and further). 

Its very confession of Lord is a result of the Lord’s redeeming work. In fulfillment of his promises, he has brought them to know him and confess him as their Creator. 

  • This one will say, 'I am the LORD's,' another will call on the name of Jacob, and another will write on his hand, 'The LORD's,' and name himself by the name of Israel." (Isa. 44:5 ESV)
  • Possible example of OT evangelism being successful in that others are coming to call themselves people of YHWH.

V 7: 

This is a call to renewed Faith to those who are scattered or thinking they are lost.

  • Israel often tried to hedge its bets—worship the Lord but also the Baals. The Canaanite gods—or the gods of even defeated enemies like Syria (2 Ki 16:7–16)—were sought to provide rain, fertility, crops, and other blessings. 
  • I am challenges those gods! Put up or shut up!
  • If we think we know what God should do or should have done - come before God and lay it out before Him and compare it to what is really going on and see which is better.
  • If you think you can do a better job - then answer one question - "What's next?"  If you do not know what is coming next on the plan - then how can you think that you know what is best - you don't have enough info to make that determination!

Since God’s Word alone can be trusted, trust it now when God offers a word of comfort, peace, hope, and restoration.

V 8: 

YHWH is BEHIND it all - using all things according to His plan - even the dispersion and the torture - God is using it to His ends - The story is not yet complete!

  • In the midst of exile, don’t be afraid. When the evidence around you seems to be saying something quite the opposite, fear not. 
  • The verb tirəhu, “disquieted,” is a hapax 
  • The importance here is the object of the fear or angst. 
  • The pagan deities seem to have the upper hand on the God of Israel (the reason for the lengthy mockery of them in the verses that follow), and the Babylonians were quick to give their gods the credit for their victories and growing power. 
  • Further, removed from the temple and the Holy City, there were fears that perhaps God would not fulfill his promise of an everlasting kingdom and king (2 Sam 7:11–16). 

There is no god like the one true God, who alone is the tsur, “rock.” 

  • The rock imagery used by God to describe himself is quite common (33 times in the OT), especially in the Psalms, 2 Samuel 22, and Deuteronomy 32. Is 17:10 gives us a good understanding of what is meant by the term. God is our help, our strength, and our refuge. 

Israel (The Church on Earth)is to learn and to come to know that he alone is God, and no other.

  • The Lord appears here as the “absolute God.” 
  • He is not responsible for evil, yet he works all things. 
  • It is this God with whom Luther wrestled. 
  • We cannot approach this God in his absolute majesty and freedom. We can approach him only as he has revealed himself in his word of promise and in his Son, Jesus. 

In Jesus, we know finally and decisively who God is: the God who in his freedom is with us and for us. 

  • What comes to us, both good and evil, passes through the hands of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
  • “If you can’t see His hands – TRUST His heart!”

Now would probably be a good time to remind ourselves of the First Commandment, the one from which all the others flow. “You will have no other gods before me. What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” Can we say of ourselves today “in God we trust”? Through the gift of faith, we examine our hearts for the things that are getting in the way of our faith walk with God. By faith, we see them for what they really are, things, things created and controlled by God. We cast aside our personal idols, broken to pieces by the rock of our salvation. Grace gives us faith, and we build our lives on the solid rock, Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, King, and Lord - ALONE.