Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Long for Christ's Coming - Isaiah 64:1-8

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733
A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42
Celebrating our 170th Anniversary
Chartered February 25, 1838
Mid-week Advent 1
December 3, 2008

Isaiah 64:1-8
Long for the Savior’s Coming

As our text for today opens to us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit we find that Jewish exiles who had returned back to their home after a long absence find themselves in a desperate situation. Their city and temple have been destroyed. All was desolate. Are you able to relate to these circumstances?

Many today find a serious parallel to our time today and the times in which Isaiah lived. No, our homes and churches might not be sitting in ruins but as we enter a new church year and anticipate entering a new calendar year in a month there are many predicting dire times for our nation. There are some who believe that our country is on the verge of facing a genuine moral crisis as we enter a new year.

As we have just concluded a national election there are countless people across our country praying for our nation’s leaders. President-elect Barack Obama will need our prayers as he and other leaders begin the task of leading on nation out of despondency and depression. [While our nation’s economy hasn’t been labeled yet a “depression” there remains many panicked and depressed people in our country some possibly within your circle of friends (influence) worried about their future.]

At the time in which Isaiah wrote these words of our text the people experienced low moral, corruption was commonplace. There was political confusion and an erosion of natural resources. That was the lay of the land at the time of the prophet Isaiah. While our times might not mirror the plight of the people back then in every respect there are certain parallels.

In our extremity where do we go? Whom do we seek to help us when our situation becomes desperate? Isaiah gives us the answer. We cry out to the Lord. We call upon Him in our time of need. As Isaiah cries to the Lord so we call on Him also. “Oh God, come...O that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down!” (Vs.1)

What is it that we ask of the Lord when we ask Him to come?

[1] First, we ask the Lord to come because we need His presence in our lives. Listen again to v.7 of our text, “No one calls on Your name or strives to lay hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from\m us and made us waste away because of our sins.”

The parent who disciplines her child might say “Look at me!” She does this because it is only natural for a guilty person to turn their eyes away from the one who has the power to punish. The people; like a guilty child, has turned their face away from the Lord. In turning their backs on Him it was meant to look as if the Lord had turned His back on them.

But the truth of the matter is that the Lord could never turn His back on you. That was certainly an option. An option He could have chosen to take had He wanted to. Yet, the good news for you is that our Lord has given to us His Word and promise to restore us back to Himself. In the garden the Father spoke to the serpent and said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head and you will bruise His heel.” [Genesis 3]

How can we say with so much assurance that the Lord will not abandon His people? We can say this with certainty this night because the Father abandoned and turned His back on His Son Jesus. At the cross Jesus cried out with a cry that pierced the silence of that lonely Friday afternoon, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
The Father rejected His Son at the cross so hat He would never turn His back on you. In this season of Advent we remember that the Father sent forth His Son to be rejected on our behalf. He came to suffer the greatest humiliation ever so that you could not and would not face rejection from the Father.

Does is appear that God is distant from you? Well, who has wandered? Who has strayed? Advent calls for us to heed the cry of Isaiah and to turn, to turn back to the father in repentance and faith so that we can see the Face of the Father and to be welcomed by Him when Christ returns in glory.

[2] We also ask the Father to come for we need His forgiveness. Isaiah remind us that our sins are as “filthy rags” Would you expect your child to go out to the shop and bring in ten rags that we used you greased the tractor and proceed to use them as napkins for Christmas dinner? Of course not! That’s not appropriate! Well, neither is it appropriate for us to stand before a just and holy God with the grease of sin hanging all over us. We need to be fixed up and cleaned up to meet Him.

Our Savior has done that for us whose birth we celebrate in four short weeks. Christ came into this world to be our Savior and our Redeemer. He has taken our soiled cloths of sin, washed the clean in His own blood. We stand redeemed, restored and forgiven because of the blood of Jesus Christ.
In this Advent season He calls us to come to Him in repentance to receive that pardon and peace that we need which only He can give.

[3] We also call for Christ to come because we need deliverance. “Because of our sins...” Isaiah reminds us, “We wasted away!” It is not necessarily because of “burn out” rather it’s a case of “rust out”. When we fail to come to Christ for that forgiveness which only He can give we will waste away. We need that deliverance from sin, from death, from the power and the grip of the Devil. Only Christ and Christ alone can remove that grip that Satan has. That is why He calls for us to come. He calls us to come to him to find salvation and life in Him.

Today His mercy calls us to return to Christ and live. He calls us to come to Him in repentance and faith to receive salvation and life. As we prepare during this Advent season may this be our cry;

Redeemer come I open wide,
My heart to thee dear Lord abide!
Let me Thine inner presence feel;
They grace and love in e reveal;
Thy Holy Spirit guide us on
Until our glorious goal is won.
Eternal praise and fame
We offer to Thy name.

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