January 27, 2008
Some Day You’ll Be Glad
“Almighty God, You sent Your Son to proclaim Your kingdom and to teach with authority. Anoint us with the power of Your Spirit that we, too, may bring good news to the afflicted, bind upon the brokenhearted, and proclaim liberty to the captives.”
Introduction: When people are struggling, when they are in the midst of trouble, they cannot imagine things will so improve that the sorrow, pain, fear, and anxiety will change to joy. It’s almost as if they are babes lost in the woods. They can’t see the forest for the trees. All seems hopeless and so pointless.
In the words of our Old Testament lesson a message of hope comes to a people who had lost everything and for whom there was little hope or promise. What was that promise? It was the promise of God to a people living in the oppression of darkness. The point of Isaiah’s message was designed to encourage and uplift those who may have had reason to despair. Where do people turn today when they contemplate their condition? Our text for this day says to you who find yourselves to be in trouble —
1. God promises you’ll be glad some day.
2. There are good reasons for your hope.
3. Light will replace the darkness.
4. Liberation from oppression will come.
1. God promises you’ll be glad some day – Vs. 3 “You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.” Isaiah 9:3
When we are in the midst of some trouble, we can’t imagine that things will so improve that the sorrow, pain, fears and anxiety will change to joy. Everything seems so overwhelming. Yet to this very situation of hopelessness a message of hope arrives…It comes in the form of a promise from God to a people living in the oppression of darkness.
What is the source of joy of being a Christian? It is the joy we have in knowing Christ. He is the Light of the world and the end of our darkness. To know Christ is to be free from the power and condemnation of the Law and from the consequences of sin, which, of course, is death. Scripture is quite clear on this matter. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) In Ezekiel 18:4 God said, "Behold all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, it shall die". The soul that dies is the soul that sins. Therefore, in order for a soul to die, sin would have to occur by that soul. The apostle John states it much clearer - in 1John 3:4 he says, "Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law". Sin is something that you do. Says St. Paul; “By the deeds of the Law no flesh will be justified.” (Romans 3:20)
God gave His Law to hunt us down, find us out, corner us, and kill us. The Law is powerful, but it is a deadly power because of our sin. In the end, the Law exposes us as the enemies of God we really are…In the end, the Law leaves the sinner utterly sinful, utterly condemned, - utterly dead. The Law leaves the sinner without hope in himself or the Law. There is no hope – except for one – our Lord Jesus Christ. Again, Scripture is quite clear, “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19) Joy is a by-product of Jesus’ preaching the good news of salvation, His teaching the truth of both sin and salvation of Law and Gospel helps us begin to understand such joy even in the midst of sadness. Jesus entered this world and began His mission to redeem me a lost and condemned creature. He came for only one purpose which was - to save me from sin, death, and the power of the devil.
Transition: God promises you will be glad some day. Christ Jesus entered our world to deal with our sin and all which is broken in this world and in particular in our own lives. There is reason to hope.
2. There are good reasons to hope. Consider the historical background of our text for today. In 734 B.C. Assyria took into captivity Zebulon and Naphtali. It is a dark time of their history. But, the people see a light in the coming of a great king whose coming means great joy. He is their Messiah, their Savior. In the darkness of conquest, a light is seen bringing great joy.
Today’s Old Testament Lesson is in part a repeat of Christmas morning. Then it was used as a fulfilled prophecy of the birth of the Messiah Jesus of Nazareth. Here it is used as fulfillment of the glorious time for the land, “Galilee of the nations.” St. Matthew, in today’s Gospel lesson, sees the start of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee as the fulfillment of this great promise.
The Epiphany theme of light is evident in both Gospel and Old Testament lessons — the people, “have seen a great light.” Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises of that light. Christ is the Epiphany (or the manifestation) of light. Epiphany deals with the revelation of the glory of God in Jesus.
God’s glory is seen in the ministry of Jesus — He brings the kingdom to people through His threefold ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing, a ministry to the whole person: soul, mind, and body. Paul sees the glory of God revealed in the cross — the means of deliverance from the oppression of sin, Satan, and death.
Transition: God promises you will be glad some day. Christ Jesus entered our world to deal with our sin and all which is broken in this world and in particular in our own lives. There is reason to hope for in this Epiphany season we discover that Jesus is God’s manifestation of light. You are given a reason to hope as you are drawn to Christ’s light.
3. Light will replace darkness – Vs. 2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2 When Isaiah wrote these words, there was much darkness in the land. Assyria had conquered Zebulon and Naphtali and carried off the people to bondage. There was the darkness of oppression, homelessness, and forced labor. In today’s world there is also much darkness: and therefore very little light. There are many experiencing loneliness, pain, bereavement, poverty, and addiction to drugs or alcohol. We rejoice that in Christ the light has begun to shine as Jesus begins his ministry.
Transition: God promises you with a glad future. Christ entered this world to deal with you misery and sin. Christ the Son of light came to disperse the darkness of sin as He took your sin to Himself. As He carried those burdens and cares He frees you –
4. There will be liberation from oppression – Vs. 4 “For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, and the rod of their oppressor.” Isaiah 9:4 In today’s society we often hear the word, “broken,” to describe the human condition: families are broken up by divorce; parents’ hearts are broken when rebellious children misbehave badly; nations are in turmoil because of broken relations — embassies are closed, ambassadors are called home and soon war is declared. In this verse, “broken” is a good word. Because of Christ the power of sin is broken. The broken relationship between God and humanity is healed.
Conclusion: Epiphany’s light will be short this year – next Sunday – already is the Transfiguration of our Lord. That light already is directing us to the cross on which we witness that great exchange – God’s mercy and forgiveness purchased at the cost of His own Son! “FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.” (John 3:16) AMEN.
+Soli Deo Gloria+
 Issues, Etc. Journal Vol. 6, No. 1 “The Law’s Accusations: God’s Perfect, Specific and Unavoidable Demands” by Todd Wilken pp. 9-10