The 14th Sunday after Pentecost September 10, 2017
Text: Isaiah 35:3-6 3 year series B – Revised 17:2029
Theme: Your God Will Come!
Horrible, just horrible what the storms this week have done. They have ravaged people’s lives. And I heard that there are several more storms on the way. What’s going on?
“Behold, your God will come with vengeance,” Isaiah writes in our text. Is that what is happening? Has God had it with us? Forgotten us? Allowing His divine retribution to fall for our neglect of Him? Some tend to proclaim such divine woe when these events take place. And surely, they are a part of the signs of the end times that Jesus gives. But Christians must take care to be patient in the midst of tribulation and look to God for guidance and aid.
It’s not easy to be patient or to wait for God’s time of help, especially if you feel the need for relief immediately. If patient waiting upon the Lord is hard, perhaps we need to consider how God’s people have handled such storms in the past.
Consider Noah and his family. They endured 40 days and nights of torrential downpour and turbulence like the world has never seen. They alone survived the deluge. Then came month after month of waiting. How often they must have been tempted towards impatient outcry and doubt for their safety. Days gave way to weeks, weeks to months, and months to a year. Would there be no end, no deliverance for them?
Did God forget them? Can He forget any of His people? Of course not! The only thing God forgets about His people is their sin. “I will remember their sins no more.” He says (Jer.31:34). But “I will not forget you!” (Is.49:15).
What a comfort to hear for any believer in any day of distress! God does not forget. He still loves, and He comes to deliver. So we wait patiently on Him. But waiting for deliverance is still hard, even for a believer. It’s hard to wait when the days and nights get long, and nothing seems to change or changes slowly
So it is that the Lord bids us in our text to remember: Your God Will Come. He can’t forget you; He will come…
I. To strengthen the feeble and fearful.
Have you ever been so afraid that your hands shook and your knees gave way to buckling? Now that would be some fear.
That’s almost the way some people describe how it feels when they must stand before an audience and do some public speaking – their palms get sweaty, their knees begin to wobble, their hands shake, and they get an empty feeling in the pit of their stomach. Have you ever felt that nervous about something which confronted you so that you trembled before it?
That’s the way Isaiah describes how the Israelites felt in our text. You see, they were in a situation that could easily lend itself to numbing fear overpowering them. No, they weren’t going to be speaking in public, and they weren’t experiencing severe storms. They had worse things going on in their lives.
Their enemies to the northeast, the Assyrians, were about to rampage over them, seizing their land, confiscating their valuables, and making them their slaves. The Assyrians were not nice people.
Do you remember what Jonah did when God told him to go and preach to the people of Nineveh, the great city of Assyria? He was so afraid that he ran away from his assignment, going in the opposite direction. How foolish his thinking that he could run from God! But his fear of the Assyrians was so great that it made him tremble to think about going there. It caused him to do a most foolish thing – to try and run from God.
Israel always felt that way about their enemies to the north and east. They were terrified of them. So it was that in the middle of their fear, God sent Isaiah to speak words of comfort. “Strengthen the week hands, make firm the feeble knees. Be strong; fear not! Your God Will Come with vengeance…and save you.” Surely, God was strong enough to handle the Assyrians!
What a good reminder. The world can be a rather frightening place in which to live, and we so often give in to our fears rather than trust God. Sometimes it appears as though the enemies of God and the Gospel are increasing in numbers. The more that Christians try to live their faith, the more they seem to become objects of hatred and wrath. Jesus warned that it would take place when He said, “You will be hated by all nations because of me.”
Do you know of anyone who “hates” you as you live your life for Christ – anyone who mocks you, anyone who calls you names, anyone who intimidates you and tries to manipulate or control you for his own purposes? The Assyrians breathed out such threats upon Israel in Isaiah’s day.
If you know what that’s like, you can appreciate the picture that Isaiah paints of a dry desert that finds no relief from the heat that oppresses it. You can picture knees feebly wobbling, and hearts pounding with fear. So take his invitation: Don’t get lost in a desert of fear. Rekindle your faith in Christ who came for you. Strengthen your feeble and fearful life in Him. Trust Him; He will go to work for you. He will come with vengeance to save you.
You know, He already saved you eternally by dying on the cross for your sins, and rising again to hold out to you the hope of heaven with Him. If He did that, He won’t continue to let storms, sickness, drought, or those with evil intent against you get the best of you so that they wear down the heart and soul that He redeemed. In the end no one who opposes God or His people can win. No, in every century that has gone before, like Isaiah’s, He has brought down all fools who opposed Him. “He has performed mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble…remembering to be merciful …to his descendants forever” (Lk.1:51f).
You see, dear friends, God didn’t forget His Old Testament believers; He didn’t forget the New Testament believers either. He hasn’t forgotten His people in the storms of life; and He won’t forget you for He already sent His Son to be your Savior. Through Him He has made you His own. He can’t forget you anymore than a mother forgets the child she gave birth to. He Will Come to help.
So, whenever your knees begin to buckle, your hands begin to shake, and you get the empty feeling of fear in the pit of your stomach, then strengthen the feeble knees and the fearful hearts, for Your God Will Come. “He will come to save you.” Leave it to Him and it will be as though you are walking on a road of safety where nothing fierce can overpower you.
II. To heal and bring you to safety.
Isaiah said it this way: “A highway shall be there; it shall be called the way of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it… No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast come up on it…But the redeemed shall walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return…and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.”
That picture of walking on a highway where lions and beasts are threatening reminds me of a movie from my childhood days. You all know it – the Wizard of Oz. Do you remember when Dorothy and her friends were journeying down the yellow brick road? They came to a dark forest and every shadow frightened them so that the words came out, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh, my.” And the cry became louder the further they went. If only they were in Oz they’d be safe. I wonder if that author didn’t have these words in mind.
Isaiah speaks of another road, not one of yellow bricks. It’s a road paved by the blood of the Lord Jesus. Those who walk on it are cleansed of sin. Their eyes are opened to see Him as the Savior. Their ears love to hear the story of what He has done for them. And in joy they jump about in their salvation. He’s healed them eternally, just as easily as He healed people physically when He was in this world. Holy, healed, and walking down a road of safety, that’s what you’ve got in the Savior.
Even though we still live in a world of sin where storms wreak havoc, sickness strikes, drought devours, and people oppress, they cannot harm us eternally in Christ. For the Lord Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.” As we journey on His road in faith we have the promise: “No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it.” In other words, Christ is our refuge and strength. He has defeated the old evil foe forever. Christ will heal and bring you to safety – and one day to heaven.
“Your God Will Come; with divine retribution He will come to save you.” God keep such promises ever in our minds as we await Him patiently during life’s trials; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.