September 9, 2018 – 16th Sunday After Pentecost
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read Isaiah 35:1- 8
Grace and peace to you as you rally around God’s Word, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus, it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.” (Isa. 35:1-2)
Each spring I look forward to the crocus peeking out of the grown after a long winter. Some springs the crocuses don’t blossom until the spring snows brings the water and the sun warmed ground. Water, it’s the source of life and where there is no water you have a desert and it’s difficult to find enough water to grow and mature the way God created you to be especially in the deserts of this world. That’s true for nature and that’s true for all of mankind also. So, what is the source of water in nature? God provides that water and Jesus tells us, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (Jn. 7:37-38)
We have all seen the difference that water makes in nature and God tells us through the prophet Isaiah that the same thing will happen to us. Now the region of Lebanon, Carmel and Sharon are all normally dry aired lands but when the water comes they change to be abundant fields of blossoms giving glory to God. The people of Isaiah’s time had seen the difference that the water made on the land that they lived in, just as we have seen the differences that water makes on the land that we live in today. If we know from nature that we need water in our lives, why is it so hard to relate that same knowledge about water to our spiritual lives? The prophet Jeremiah, who prophesied to the people of Israel right after Isaiah said, “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be put to shame; those who turn away from You shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.” (Jer. 17:13)
Today we come to rally around God’s Word, the Living Water; to bring glory and praise to God for all that He has and will do in our lives. As we live in this world we find that we have weak hands, feeble knees and anxious hearts, all because we forsake God’s Word, just like the people of Israel did in Isaiah’s time. So, how do we deal with our weak hands, feeble knees and anxious heart? Isaiah tells us, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” (Is. 35: 4)
How can we be strong and fearless when we know that the Lord is coming with vengeance? We are the ones who hurt God and the creation that He made for us by our sins, but the word translated as vengeance in English has a different meaning in the Hebrew language. The word used here is telling us that God is coming with force and fury, that’s for sure, but not against mankind for committing their sins, but against the Evil one who tempts us and continue to encourage us to abandon God’s Word for the deceitful words of the devil, the world and our sinful nature. God has come with vengeance to destroy the sin and the evil of this world and He has done that by sending His Only Son, Jesus Christ, into our evil world to conquer it with the only thing that can conquer evil, God’s Word and His love. It was God’s Word that took the evil spirit out of the daughter of the Syrophoenician women, that we learned about in our gospel reading from this morning. It was God’s Word that Jesus used each time when the devil came to tempt Him from fulfilling all that God sent Him to do in this world. It was God’s Word that created the water and all of creation, and it is God’s Word and the water that recreated us. In our baptism, we were washed of all our sins and given the Holy Spirit to work in our lives through His Word, to be recreated, Sanctified. God’s Word enable us to be strong and fearless because God has come and will come to save each of us from the evil of this world.
It’s a good thing that God has and is coming with vengeance because that means He is going to take care of the evil of this world and in doing so He will destroy it and that includes all those who are following in its ways, which is good for us who are holding onto Jesus Christ by faith along, but it will leads to the destruction, eternal death for all those who are following all the deceitful ways of the devil, the world and our sinful nature. It’s good that God is coming, but not just with vengeance only, but also with recompense.
Your God will come with the recompense of God. So, what is this recompense of God? God sending His Own Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the debt that we owed for our sins. Jesus by His perfect life conquered the Evil of this world but that was not enough to save us from our own sins and death. No, Jesus Christ had to also take all our sins upon Himself and pay for our sins by His own life, which He did when He was crucified for us, suffering hell for us by God abandoning Him on the cross of Calvary and by His death. Three days later when He rose from the grave He gave us the recompense for all our sins so that we could now live with Him for all eternity in our heavenly home He has prepared for us.
Be strong; fear not! God will come and save you! That’s the whole reason why we can have strength in our hands and firm knees to stand with relaxed heart as we live in this world, God not only has come to us in the past with vengeance and recompense, but is with us each and every day to provide that living water that we need to flourish and blossom abundantly, even in the midst of the problems of this world. God can not only take care of all the evil in this world, but He has given us a way to be with Him each and every day of our lives and He gives us all that we can handle, which comes by faith.
As we let the living Water of God’s Word go to work in our lives there is going to be some refurbishing going on in our lives also, like the man that Jesus refurbished with new ears and a tongue so that he could hear the words of God and proclaim them to others. That’s what Isaiah is talking about as he tells us, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.” (Is. 35:5-6)
Yes, as we gather around Jesus, as we rally around His Word, we will be coming with those of other nations to have our eyes opened to the glory of God’s Love, to hear about the peace and joy that only God can give to us and that will lead us to want to share with others all the love, peace and joy that God has given to us and sing for joy because of all that God is doing in our lives through His Word and Sacraments. This is how we rally around the Word of God and it will bring us to the true life that only He can give and sustain in us. God’s Word made all of creation and sustains it, which includes all of us as we rally around God’s Word in our lives to receive His living water and the sanctifications of our life.
Isaiah says, “And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness” (Isa.35:8) Isaiah is telling us about what will happen as we let the living water of God’s Word flow out of our lives, it will change our world, but it will also guide us along the highway to our heavenly home. Yes, as we walk along the way of our life in this world by rallying around God’s Word we will not only find the true source of life, but the way that leads us to a better way of living in this world and the ability to share the love, peace and joy of God with others. It all comes with our faith and sharing God’s Word with others. Amen.