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On That Day

Isaiah 29:18-19

Pastor Robin Fish

12th Sunday after Trinity
Shaped by the Cross Lutheran Church  
Laurie, MO

view DOC file

Sun, Aug 30, 2009
13th S. a. Pentecost

Isaiah 29:18-19

And on that day the deaf shall hear words of a book, And out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.  The afflicted also shall increase their gladness in the LORD, And the needy of mankind shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

On That Day

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

How often have we heard about 'that day"?  It comes up a lot in the Old Testament.  It comes up a lot because the people of the Old Testament era were looking forward to what we already have.  They were looking forward to a day of salvation.  They were looking forward to a time when sin and death would be done away with.  If they had known about air conditioning, or even had been able to imagine it, they might looked forward to that, too.  If they had any way of imagining the abundance of our world and of our lives, they might have thought that was something to look forward to, although, probably not.

Sounds strange, doesn't it?  They had nothing and I am suggesting that they would not have looked forward to the day of plenty that we enjoy.  They would not have looked forward to it because they probably could not have imagined it - and if they could, they would have thought about it like your would think about the world of tomorrow.  It would be something like if I told you that in one hundred years from today, people would be able to fly in their private cars and they would not need money because the things we need for daily life would be made so abundant available to every human being, and that no one lacked anything they needed and very little of anything they wanted.

You would not find that something to look forward to, because you know you would never live to see it or experience it.  Maybe it would happen, and maybe it would not.  The situation is like the Star Trek I saw this last week.  It was on a CD of season 1, that my son, Robin, brought with him.  In this episode. the cast talked about the great Eugenics wars of the 1990's (supposedly 200 years in their past) and showed a space ship built to colonize the stars, back in those days.  Well, we never had those wars, and our space program, so filled with promise in the 1960's, stalled out after we reached the moon. 

But even if my predictions were accurate, the people of the future might enjoy the progress I could envision, but you would not.  The thing that the people of Israel actually looked forward to was real salvation, something they would participate in because God would bring them along.  The day they looked forward to was future, but it was a future they knew would include them, somehow.  So, let us consider what it was that they were looking forward to, that we enjoy today.  Our theme is, On That Day.

The wonders of our age are actually little more than window dressing in our lives.  They have provided us with comfort somewhat more consistently than people of the past have known, but each comfort seems to weaken us both physically and spiritually, and they give us just one more inconsequential thing to lose.  When the power is out, we must endure the heat or the cold, just as our forefathers were required to, except that we have disposed of the implements they possessed for dealing with those conditions.  They did not need an electric thermostat to run their heat, because they did not have electricity.  They could not miss the air conditioning that they never had, but their homes were often built with high ceilings to give the worst of the heat a place to gather while they were relatively cooler below.  They could not miss the variety of the foods we have because they never knew it, and when they got some of the fruits and vegetables we now take for granted, it was a treat.  Their generation knew less diabetes, fewer cancers, and generally were more physically fit because their lives required it of them.

We enjoy a great many advantages earlier ages did not possess, but we pay a price for each one eventually.  They did not have television, and so they entertained themselves, and their neighbors, and they knew their neighbors better than we do.  They could not travel as easily as we do, and so families tended to stay closer physically, and closer in social ways as well.  They did not have computers and such, nor the dizzying array of activities that make the lives of so many people so hectic that they hardly know the simple pleasure of sitting down together at the table for dinner each evening, and just talking to one another.  The one thing the children of Israel needed that we also need just as much is peace of mind: forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, and somewhere to turn in times of sorrow, sickness, and at the approach of death.  We still haven't figured out any better answer for those things than our great-grandparents knew.  Our best answer is still the answer Isaiah spoke of in our Old Testament lesson.  We still need that increase in gladness in the Lord that God promised through His prophet.

Yes, sorrow still comes.  Our lives have more stress than ever.  There are greater and more subtle dangers surrounding us in our world than in other ages.  Men have found ever more numerous and persuasive ways to deceive us and cheat us and control us.  You cannot trust what you hear or see in this world of Photoshop, computer manipulation of both sight and sound, and special video effects.  And we still die.

We still die because we still sin.  We still need a redeemer.  Thankfully, God has provided us with one.  Jesus Christ has redeemed us from sin and death and hell.  His death on the cross is our death, and His resurrection is our resurrection, shown to us in advance, to comfort us in the face of the dangers of life and the terror of death.  God addresses those truths through Isaiah.  He says, "And on that day the deaf shall hear words of a book, And out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. "

We live in that day, spoken of by the prophet.  We are the deaf.  We are the blind.  In and of ourselves, we cannot hear the Word of God.  We can physically hear it, but without the working of the Holy Spirit in us, we automatically reject it as false, old-fashioned, or absurd superstition.  Look at the world around you.  Forty years ago, everyone was religious, and those who did not go to church were looked at as somehow anti-social and a little peculiar, if not undesirable.  Twenty year ago, even our politicians were careful to look "Christian".  Today, going to church is more uncommon than common.  None of our television show have families that go to church together any more.  Our President used to attend a political, not religious, church, and in over seven months in office, he has yet to identify a church he would regularly attend in Washington.

The world is different today from the world we grew up in, we all know that.  I am pointing to these changes simply to illustrate the natural human propensity to not believe.  We are, by nature, the deaf of whom Isaiah speaks.  We are, also, blind by nature to God, as the dominance of the teaching of evolution is in our schools and in our media illustrates.  You and I only believe because God makes us able to hear the Words of a book.  Stop and think about it: the word "Bible" is Latin for "book".  We literally hear the words of a book every time we hear the preaching or reading of the Bible and believe it.

"The peace of God that passes all understanding", passes all understanding because we cannot see, by nature, how any of the troubles of life are solved or resolved by faith.  We don't see God's hand at work, unless He makes us able to see it.  There are churches full of people who call themselves "Christian" and yet cannot imagine how the death of Jesus really solves anything, including their sins.  They cannot believe in His resurrection, so they do not really believe in their own.  They make up stories about how "meaningful" and "significant" this or that aspect of their religion is because they cannot quite believe in the historical truth of the miracles reported in Scripture, or accept that God is at work in them or through them or around them.  I read the newsletters of some of the churches in our area, and I listen to their preachers - and some of their members - talk out in the community, and I know that they don't believe in God, in His grace, or in His protection, and sometimes not even in their own need for His salvation.  They just sort-of expect everyone to go to heaven, and Aunt Myrtle is looking down on us, watching over us - as though that makes any difference in anything.

We have that peace of God because He makes the eyes of the blind - our eyes - see through the gloom and darkness of our natural blindness and in this pagan and godless world.  We are the afflicted of whom the prophet speaks.  It is our gladness that is increased as we see and hear and believe that God is with us, and that life is not out of control, and we see that the things, even the unfortunate things, that happen to us and around us are the things God promised would come upon those that believe.  In our sin and in our suffering, we are the needy of mankind.  Once we realize that, we truly do rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

We rejoice in our forgiveness.  When all else fails, we have eternal life ahead.  We shall rise from our graves and live with the Lord forever!  But even while we live here, our sufferings are not pointless and endless and hopeless.  God is with us, and He has a plan.  He will guide us and keep us, and He will not allow us to bear more than we are able, but will provide us with a way of escape and bring us through.  That is His promise, and that is our faith and our hope.  And believing that we can rejoice, and increase in our gladness in the Lord.

And on that day the deaf shall hear words of a book, And out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.  The afflicted also shall increase their gladness in the LORD, And the needy of mankind shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

This promise brought comfort to the children of Israel - the chosen people of God - back in the time of Isaiah.  They looked forward to the day described in the prophecy, and knowing that it was coming, and that they would somehow participate in that day, brought them hope and comfort.

We live in that day.  And on that day, the promise is true, and it still brings comfort and hope to the chosen people of God - us!  On that day we do hear the words of a book that we are not naturally able to hear, and we do see though the gloom and darkness of a fallen and utterly corrupt pagan world.  Our gladness is increased, even though we are afflicted among the ungodly, and we who are needy have our needs met: our sins are forgiven, we shall rise from our graves, and we hope confidently in the salvation of our God!  We are living out and living in the truth of what God promised on that day.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

(Let the people say Amen)

These sermons are for the Church. If you find it useful, go ahead and use it -- but give credit where credit is due. Shaped by the Cross Lutheran Church's Website can be found by clicking here.

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