Then you will say on that day, "I will give thanks to Thee, O LORD; For although Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, And Thou dost comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation." Therefore you will joyously draw water From the springs of salvation. And in that day you will say, "Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; Make them remember that His name is exalted." Praise the LORD in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth. Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
This Day Is That Day
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
"Today is the first day of the rest of your life." Don't you just hate cliche's like that? It is self-evidently true, and yet it says nothing, really. Today is also the last day of your life up to this point, although that would not do as well in a motivational seminar as the first statement. Besides, the focus is not really on today, when you use that tired old bromide.
"One of these days . . ." Ralph Cramden always said, "One of these days, Bang! Zoom!" His wife, Alice, would always ask, "Yeah. What day is that, Ralph?" He was speaking about a day that he never intended to be real. Many people think the Bible speaks just like that. But the Bible is the Word of God, and God is announcing plans, not making idle threats. The day our text speaks of is not a threat, in fact, but a wonderful promise. In our text, Isaiah speaks of a future day that was to come, a day of singing and praise and thanksgiving. This morning - on Cantate Sunday, the Sunday of singing - we want to briefly look at that day mentioned in our prophecy, and our theme and message is, "This Day Is That Day."
Before we begin, I want to underline that the title of our sermon says, "this day", and not, "today", because the prophecy doesn't mean to speak of a specific calendar date, but of a time to come - a day such as the day of the Lord, rather than just a specific twenty-four hour period. The prophet was pointing forwards to a time in which certain things would be true, and we live in that time.
The first thing we notice about "that day" is that it is a day of forgiveness. Isaiah says it like this, "I will give thanks to Thee, 0 LORD; For although Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, And Thou dost comfort me." That means that to understand that day and the forgiveness of that day, we must come face to face with sin.
God is justly angry toward us over our sins. We do not like to face the truth, most of the time, but we sin, most of the time. And sin is not a minor thing, it is the rebellion against God that earns us His wrath and our own death. We turn away from life for a few moments of pleasure, or power, or, like Judas, some sell Jesus for a few pieces of silver. Your hatreds, your bitterness, your gossip, your grumbling - are not small peccadilloes, they are sins. They deny God, they accuse Him of being unfair and unfaithful. In our sins, we choose death and self over God and life.
We deserve death, but we are given life and salvation, because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. We merited the wrath of God, so it was poured out on Him. We earned death and hell, so Jesus went to the cross and faced both as He hung alone, forsaken by God and mocked by man. We chose death in sin, so He chose to die in righteousness, that we might live in Him.
Today, God is comforting us with the news of forgiveness. His anger is turned away, toward the cross, and He comforts us with the sweet proclamation of forgiveness and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Jesus rose because God has accepted His death for ours, and now God reckons us holy with the righteousness of Christ, by which He earned life eternal, and so we also have life everlasting.
That day is a day of salvation. Isaiah said it this way, ""Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation." Therefore you will joyously draw water From the springs of salvation."
That day is a day of forgiveness, and so it is also a day of salvation, for where there is the forgiveness of sins, as Luther says in the Catechism, there is also life and salvation. Sin is what stood between God and man, and Jesus has taken it out of the way. If He had been a mere man or some angel who had won our salvation, it would be uncertain, but it is God Himself who has purchased and won us from all sin, from death, and from the power of the devil. There can be no doubt, no uncertainty - for God Himself is our Savior. For God to deny us now, He would have to deny Himself, and He cannot deny Himself.
Believing in that forgiveness opens the door to trusting God. How can we any longer doubt God when He gave all that He gave for us? How can we question His will for us - or His love for us - when we see how great a price He paid for us? The cause of our anger toward God and His wrath toward us has been taken out of the way. We no longer have any reason to be frightened of Him. We know that He loves us. Jesus told us that He does, and then demonstrated that love with His death on our behalf, and so we know that we can trust God.
Therefore, forgiveness, received by faith, ends fear. It ends fear of God -- at least it ends the terror of the notion that He desires to cause us pain and trouble. It also has the power to end the fear of trouble in this life, because we know that we have the love of God. Isaiah said it like this, I will trust, and not be afraid. God is on our side, so to speak. He desires only our good. His love is demonstrated in Jesus - and it is reflected in the abundance of blessings which He pours out on us day by day.
So, you can clearly see that this day is that day. The day of our forgiveness and the day of the love of God is today. Today is the day that we can joyously draw water from the springs of salvation. The springs of salvation are the waters of Baptism. In our Baptism, God claimed us by name to be His own. In our Baptism, He joined us to Christ, to His resurrection from the grave, and to the eternal life Christ won for us. He regularly refreshes us in that salvation through the marvelous gift of the Sacrament of the Altar, by giving us Christ's very body to eat in, with and under the bread of the Sacrament, and by giving us to drink of His blood, once shed for us on the cross, in, with and under the wine.
This day we owe God thanks, and today we offer thanks to God, as Isaiah prophesied, I will give thanks to Thee, 0 Lord, and, Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name. But these are thanks we can give only if we see clearly the danger from which He has rescued us. We give these thanks both here, in our worship service, and day to day in our prayers and in lives lived deliberately as His holy people.
This day is the day we are to "cry aloud and shout for joy." That is what we do in our hymns and liturgy. He is risen! <He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!> That is also what we do in our prayers to a lesser extent. Here, in worship, we formally cry aloud and shout for joy. Day by day, you also cry aloud and shout for joy as you remember His blessings and speak aloud about His goodness to you. Heaven knows that we grumble and complain aloud when we are not pleased with the circumstances of our life. Shouldn't we also be vocal and earnest also about the good things - the sunshine and the rain, the health we have and the blessings we receive?
This day is also the day that we are to make them remember His name. The whole world once knew His name. They all once knew that He was God and the Giver of all things good. But the world has forgotten, deliberately. Our lives and our thanksgivings and our public worship are to make them remember. If we who believe do not speak His praises and give Him the glory for our blessings and our lives, how will they hear? How will they remember?
We have very little difficulty complaining. We can complain about our aches and pains, often without remembering that the days when everything doesn't hurt are a gift from God. We can complain about the cost of things, without recalling how God has given us so much that we can afford to dream about luxuries that were unimaginable a generation ago. We can find the wind to complain about what may be wrong, or missing, in our congregation, or our synod, without remembering to rejoice and give thanks that we have the Word of God and the riches of the Gospel.
We have the clear and constant preaching of our forgiveness, of Law and Gospel, for we know that we must also remember our sins to know the value of our forgiveness. We have the Lord's Supper to refresh us and strengthen us for life as the child of God in this world. If we cannot speak of these blessings, if we do not remind others that God is our Source and our Savior, how will they remember that His name is Exalted? How will we remember, unless we make each other remember?
This day is that day. Today is the day we are to "let this good news be known throughout the earth." That is why God leaves us here, to hold out the precious hope to others. If we keep it just for ourselves, our congregation withers. We die, not just by natural attrition, but we also may die because, if we do not share the Word of our hope in Christ, we must not be thinking about it for ourselves. It must not be in us very clearly, if it is not overflowing from us.
How could we keep this great good news to ourselves? We have the cure for death here! We have resurrection from the grave here! We have eternal life here! It is not for sale. There is no awful price yet to be paid. You don't have to do something great and difficult to earn it. It is the gift of God! Now think with me on this: If we found hamburger for 49¢ per pound, we would be telling all of our friends - after we got ours, of course. If we found shoes - good shoes - for $5.00 a pair, we would call our neighbors, after we bought the styles we wanted, of course. If we had high-speed access to interest free, or loans for cars or homes with no interest costs, we would tell everyone, as soon as we got ours.
Well, we have the answer to death. We have the assurance of the love of God in life. We have all the help and power we need. We have the certainty of rising from our graves in better condition than we entered them. We have the clear and utterly reliable promise of everlasting life beyond all the pains and sorrows and sicknesses of this life. We have all of that in Jesus - and strength for the day, and help in time of need, and peace in times of turmoil, and more - if we trust God. If we believe the Gospel. We have all that because, as Isaiah put it, "Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel."
This Day is That Day. We live in the day Isaiah prophesied. On that day, He said. Well, this day is that day. We have been rescued, and God is our salvation. He was angry, but now His anger is turned away. Now is the time to sing, and give thanks, and tell others about God̓s goodness and love. If we don̓t, who will? This day is "that day" of the prophecy of Isaiah.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
(Let the people say Amen)
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