06232019 2nd Sunday After Pent 1AT Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

“"God will bless His servant!  Is. 65:8-9"”

06232019 2nd Sunday After Pent 1AT Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

June 23, 2019
“"God will bless His servant!  Is. 65:8-9"”
Sermon Audio

At the end of World War II the world began to return to a ‘new normal’.  Connections to the past and rebuilding what once was became the ‘new normal’.  People and cultures returned to their daily rituals and responsibilities that had not changed for centuries and millennia.  This return to the ‘new normal’ of daily chores without fear happened quickly even in a forgotten area surrounding the desert of the Dead Sea.

A young Bedouin shepherd boy searching for one of his lost flock of sheep, accidentally stumbled upon the entrance to a cave of a forgotten time and era.  Inside he found clay jars that contained scrolls that had been untouched for nearly 1800 years. Taking one of the scrolls he sold it in the market in Jerusalem for a small sum.  From there it found its way to the Israel Antiquities Commission. It was determined that this scroll that was 24 feet long and made from 17 sheepskins sewn together by linen thread, contained most of the entire book of Isaiah.  Prior to this time the only intact copy was a Russian copy known as the Masoretic texts that was made around the year 1000AD. This find by the young Bedouin shepherd boy was one of 20th Centuries greatest archeological discoveries.

But why is this important for we who gather here at Emmanuel today?  Isaiah a prophet that predated Jesus by nearly 750 years prophesied to the Israelite people about the need for repentance, increase in faith and the faithfulness needed by them until the Messiah came.  For the Messiah when He came would set things right and reorient the hearts and minds of the people of Israel who had ‘gone off the rails’. So the prophecies we hear from Isaiah today are to remind us clearly of the understanding that “God will bless His servant!”

Israel of Isaiah’s time had apparently turned away not only from God’s Word, what God’s expectations of them were, but had clearly broken all 10 of the Commandments that God had given to them on the Stone Tablets that were in the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem.  The people had turned from worship of the True God of heaven and earth and were a ‘rebellious people’ turning their backs on God Who had ‘spread out [His] hands all the day’.  The Israelites had been ‘sacrificing in gardens’ and were ‘making offerings on bricks’ and “on the mountains and insulted [God] on the hills”.  Instead of the pleasing aroma of sacrifice in the Temple built by Solomon that wafted into the nostrils of God, the aroma of their ‘turning away’ from God was a stench that would radically change their eternal destination.  Yet, there would be a remnant and this remnant held onto the truth of a promise that “God will bless His servant!”

God through the prophet Isaiah clearly says, “I will measure into their bosom payment for their former deeds”.  Yet God will also to those who are the remnant promises that He will “not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it’ so I will do for my servants’ sake, and not destroy them all.  I will bring forth offspring from Jacob and from Judah possessors of my mountains; my chosen shall possess it, and my servants shall dwell there.”  Ultimately, God will make things right and “God will bless His servant!”

For the Israelite people the prophecy and direction from Isaiah is simple, ‘turn from their ways’ that do not bring Glory to God.  Today we who gather here 2700 years later hear this same prophesy from Isaiah. Yet, we are on the other side of Who and what the prophesy of blessing pointed to by Isaiah.  For in Bethlehem the prophecy was fulfilled and we have also heard and believe the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, the One Who would bless has come. Jesus came, walked among the people of Israel, suffered, was crucified, died and rose from the dead.  Jesus Christ came and set things right, just as Isaiah said He would. Jesus came to offer the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation that Isaiah had prophesied about to the Israelite people saying, “God will bless His servant!”  And God did bless us and all of mankind with salvation and eternal life.

So today the question could be asked, does Isaiah’s prophecy only have validity for the people of Israel that waited for the Messiah?  Definitely not. If this were the case, then we would not need to have anything read in church except for the Four Gospels that tell of what Jesus Christ did and the redemption that He offers us on the Cross of Calvary.  We would not have the history or the context of the Old Testament people and would then not understand the connection to nor the power of God and how Isaiah’s prophecy had great meaning, value and strength for us today when he proclaimed that “God will bless His servant!”

What we hear today from Isaiah and in the entire Book of Isaiah is the “Hammer of God” or the point of the spear that punctures or crumbles our hearts of stone and opens us up to the truth that we need to daily turn and return to God and His Word as we have it given to us in Holy Scriptures.  For when we confess our sin to God and one another, we receive the gift of grace we so desperately need and the healing and life giving balm of God’s message of salvation will heal us. God will rebuild us and God will fulfill what Isaiah speaks of in the entire Book of Isaiah, “God will bless His servant!”

And how will it come about that “God will bless His servant”?  “God will bless His servant” when we turn from the path that leads to destruction that the Israelites who refused to listen followed and when we turn we as well confess we are lost without God and the free grace He offers all of mankind through His Son, Jesus Christ.  When we with every fiber of our being repent and “confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. [That] We have sinned against [God] in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. [That] We have not loved [God] with our whole heart; [and that] we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.”  Then out of God’s great love for us and all of mankind, God’s mercy shown to us with the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, God will declare unto each and every one of us the forgiveness of our sin and we will receive the gift of eternal life.  And then God will fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah, where we then will receive God’s gift of grace given unto us in faith, where we will hear and believe these words declared from Isaiah to us today that “God will bless His servant!”  AMEN.