Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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Advent 1 – Dec. 3, 2017 – Isaiah 64:1-9 “A CALL FOR GOD’S ACTION”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Old Testament Lesson just read, from Isaiah 64.  We begin with prayer.

 

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • Have you ever found yourself between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”? This happens when we find ourselves needing to do something, to take some kind of action, but it seems that all of our available options bring about some negative consequences.
  • Although very few people think deeply about this, God was placed in this kind of circumstance when Adam and Eve fell into sin and polluted all human hearts and minds. You see, God is just, but God is also love.  God hates evil and sin, but He also loves people, His human beings.  With the infection of humanity with sin and evil, God was placed in a dilemma, between a “rock and a hard place.”
  • If He executed only justice, then all of His beloved people must perish. If He executed only love and mercy, then evil goes unpunished and flourishes – to the great harm and detriment of the very people that He loves.  It must be very frustrating and disappointing for God.  Thankfully He has the wisdom, the power, and the love, to act in ways that bring about the optimal good, considering the circumstances.
  • For uneducated, unbelieving, and insentient people, there is no need to think deeply about these things – the causes of human woe and misery, the incorrigible and recalcitrant evils within us. They just are what they are, the results of countless years of mindless evolution – and we do the best to control them or eradicate them, regardless of what that means for people.  Except, that we too are evil and engage in wicked behaviors at times.
  • But for God’s people, those who are committed to God, and who are thus committed to His good and just ways, there is recognition of God’s difficult dilemma, but there is also a great deal of frustration that there are no simple solutions. The results in the life that we experience are at times overwhelming – the evil that we witness in others and throughout the world, that begs for some justice, and yet the recognition of our own evil and our need for God’s mercy and forgiveness as well.
  • This is what Isaiah is reflecting upon in our text, and he pretty well covers the whole topic as he issues “A CALL FOR GOD’S ACTION.” He prays:  “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down.”  The result that he hopes for is that “Your Name be made known to Your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at Your presence.”
  • We would likely pray the same today – while also confessing faith that “God acts for those who wait for Him.” All of this is critically important, for:

 

I.  In View Of Man’s Sin, God Is Compelled To Act

 

A.  But We Must First Understand That All Are Unclean, Each Of Us

 

Text:  “Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?  We have all become like one who is unclean.”

 

B.  Even Our Good Deeds Are Polluted With Sin

 

Text:  “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.”

 

C.  There Are Dire Consequences For Sin

 

Text:  “We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.  There is no one who calls upon Your Name, who rouses himself to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.”

 

Statement:  You see the dilemma we face also.  We see all the evil around us and want God to act against it.  But then we see our own sin and evil and recognize that we have immense need for God’s mercy and forgiveness.  In fact, we recognize that in view of our sin God owes us no goodness, no kindness, not even an ear to us. 

 

Application:  Still there is hope in God, hope that He might somehow save us from His just wrath and righteous condemnation.  We still pray to Him, knowing that “He acts for those who wait for Him.”  And this leads us back into God’s dilemma – how shall He save those who are thoroughly polluted with sin, when even our good deeds are like filthy rags?  How shall He love us so that we might once again “call upon His Name” and “take hold of Him”? 

 

The answer is in the Gospel Lesson, the coming of the Lord Jesus!  He is our Savior.  He is the King.  He is blessed and He brings God’s blessings with Him – forgiveness, life, and salvation, in His redemptive suffering and death on the cross, and His glorious resurrection! 

 

Transition:  It is Jesus Whom Isaiah prays for – the only action of God that resolves our dilemma, that expresses both His love for humanity and His justice toward human sin.  In Jesus we once again learn that:

 

II.  God Is Our Loving Heavenly Father

 

Text:  “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we are all the work of Your hand.”

 

A.  When He Acts Things Change For Our Good

 

Text:  “Be not so terribly angry, O Lord, and remember not iniquity forever.  Behold, please look, we are all Your people.”

B.  So We Continue To Plea For Mercy, Repenting Of And Confessing Our Sins

 

Text:  “We sinned . . . we have been a long time in our sins.  We have all become like one who is unclean . . . our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

C.  We Remember That He Acts For Those Waiting For Him

 

Text:  “No eye has seen a God besides You, Who acts for those who wait for Him.”

 

D.  So God Bestows His Blessings Upon Us, And We Have Joy In Knowing His Forgiving Love In Christ Jesus

 

Text:  “You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember You in Your ways.”

 

Statement:  This is the promise held out to all who heed the calling of Jesus to “repent and believe the Good News.”  The way out of our dilemma has been provided by God Himself – a life of humble repentance and confession of our sin, a life of joy in knowing His gracious mercy and forgiveness, and an eagerness to be gracious and merciful toward others, hoping that they too might join us in God’s salvation!  This helps us also with our sinful condition – knowing God’s gracious love is “remembering God in His ways,” and His love moves us to joyfully “work righteousness,” as imperfect as our “righteous deeds” might be!

 

Application:  Again, this is God’s response to human sin and evil – not only to forgive us and to call us to wait on Him, but also to renew our hearts and minds, so that we are no longer totally and completely evil, but are learning to love as He has loved us.  This is no small accomplishment, given the depravity of sin’s infection of our nature.  In fact, it is a great miracle of God’s love for us in Christ Jesus! 

 

Conclusion:  As God patiently waits for more and more people to come to repentance and knowledge of the truth, His gracious love and salvation in Christ Jesus, evil also continues to occur – in fact to predominate human life and existence.  Many will be weak-minded and will judge that God is performing poorly, that He should have chosen some other course of action.  But there is no other way for God to act both justly and mercifully. 

The time of His mercy and patience will come to an end – on the Last Day.  Then all shall see and acknowledge the glorious way in which God extended His love to every human being in His Son, Jesus.  Then when His justice cleanses away all evil – including those whom He loved, but who rejected His love and all good – no one will be able to complain that He is not just and justified in His actions. 

 

We also wait for Him to perform this “rending of the heavens,” this revelation of His presence, on the Last Day.  We rejoice that He remains “our potter,” and that He is also making us anew – in Christ Jesus!  Amen.

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.