August 30, 2020 A+D
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
All men are weary of this world. We are not the least of these. Perhaps we are the worst. We are the most weary due to our hope. For we know that God has taken up our cause, become one of us in order to die for us and that He has risen from the dead to lead us away from our malicious hearts and this dark world. For us, to be apart from the body, to die, is to be with the Lord. That is the attainment of all that we desire, that which He has won for us, for which we are most eager.
But is it not our lot to decide when the time is right or our work is done or to know how much we can handle. However unfulfilling or painful it might seem to us, life is a gift from God. It is meant for good. Death is a passage, but still the enemy. So if we die of COVID or police brutality, if we pass by an allergic reaction or from mob violence, or if we just fall asleep and don’t wake up, sobeit. We are weary and ready to go. We are confident of the end. While there is fruit for our labor here, we are ready to go to the reward of Christ. But whether we live or we die, we are His.
So it is that we recognize that now is the day of salvation, the day to hear the Word and repent. If the Lord requires us to remain here for a time, then He must provide. If we are to remain for a time then we must tell the truth and see this world for what it is and see ourselves for what we are: sinners loved and redeemed by God caught up in a cosmic battle where evil seems to win. This is why we pray so fervently for the end. This world is not all there is. It is not our home. Our hearts have already flown. We do not belong here. We cannot be fully satisfied here. We don’t want to fight this war and we don’t even want to win. We want to go. Because we hate our sins. We hate the unfairness of this world. We hate the lies, the manipulation, and the pain. We belong to and with Jesus. Soon He will bring us there.
In this distress, the Holy Spirit comforts us through the prophet Isaiah. It is only a little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be esteemed as a forest. In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the Bible. They will hear it and know that it is God’s Word and they will believe. This doesn’t just apply to the deaf mute in the region of the Decapolis. It also applies to us. We were once deaf but the waters of Holy Baptism commanded our ears to open. We hear the Word.
Isaiah also says that the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. They will behold true beauty and goodness. This also describes us. Finally, he says that the humble, that is the unimportant, the insignificant, and the disenfranchised, those out of place with this world and its constant bids for power, they shall increase their joy in the Lord. And the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel, even King Messiah, Jesus born of Mary, crucified and raised. And you know he is talking about you. Your joy shall increase. You rejoice in Christ. Finally the prophet tells us that in the end the terrible one, the deceiver of Eve along with his many minions, human and otherwise, will be brought to nothing. The scornful one is consumed.
Isaiah then describes the particular burden of the Church in our age. He says that the human agents of Satan who watch for iniquity, who plot for power, who seek to control and oppress and steal, will be cut off. He is talking about those agents who seek to make a man an offender by a word, that is, simply by an accusation. They deny the actual character and actions of men and see nothing but a group which is often an accident of birth. Every member of this arbitrary group is then held accountable for all that anyone in that group has ever done. Those slanders and bigots, those purveyors of hate, says Isaiah, will be brought to nothing. They have acted against us with baseless accusations, without evidence, simply because of where we were born or the color of our skin or our professions, because we were convenient and we were not them. They have insisted that we bow to their superiority and accept blame for things we did not do. They say that if we do not then we will be destroyed and cancelled. And what if we accept the blame? We will still be destroyed. Thus do they lay snares for us in the heritage of Stalin. No one is safe. It is madness.
But Isaiah tells us that it is coming to an end. This madness will not last. This lack of justice, refusal of mercy, judgment without cause will cease. There is hope in Christ. For He, Our Lord, does not slander us, nor does He come to accuse. He comes to bless us. The Lord, who redeemed Abraham, redeems us. These fickle human judges and their demonic overlords will not endure. They will go to the fiery place prepared for them. In the meantime, God says of you: “Jacob shall not now be ashamed, Nor shall his face now grow pale; But when he sees his children, The work of My hands, in his midst, They will hallow My name, And hallow the Holy One of Jacob, And fear the God of Israel.”
Ephatha! Be opened. Do not mistake the character of the age in which we live or their hostility toward the people of God. You do not belong here. You cannot fit in. Do not make deals with the devil. It is not worth another 1000 years on earth in this living Hell. But he is a liar anyway and would not deliver. Don’t be fooled. Repent of your sins. Confess Christ. Do good to all men, even those who hate you. Pray for the end. Hallow the Holy One of Israel and wait upon Him. The present earth is occupied by wicked forces. It is filled with instruments of war and torture. But in a little while it shall be turned into a fruitful field and given to you as an inheritance. Jesus lives.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.