Going Deeper 09.01.2021

The first reading for Pentecost 15... Isaiah 35:4-7a

Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

A group of us will be gathering later this morning to continue what is becoming a long (and sometimes arduous) journey through the book of the prophet Isaiah.  What is making the journey difficult is the reality that positive (mostly) visions such as the one proclaimed in this text are surrounded by so much doom and gloom, judgment and violence, destruction and death.  It is quite a roller coaster ride.

Yes, here Isaiah's listeners are told "do not fear!", but in surrounding chapters they are told why they need to be filled with fear.  While there certainly are a number of redundant cycles of warnings against Israel's enemies, (see v. 4-- "He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you") there are also warnings aimed at Israel, whose constant rebellion and covenant unfaithfulness have positioned them as being enemies of God, for whom doom and gloom, judgment and violence, destruction and violence awaits.

But this text points beyond all of that to a time of restoration.  As followers of Jesus, we believe that the restoration has already begun.  We know that Jesus came and fulfilled these prophecies, giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the mute, and mobility to the lame.  Jesus came to show once and for all the grace and love of God, and to initiate a Kingdom of peace.

At the same time, we followers of Jesus understand that the restoration will not be complete until He comes again, and that in the meantime doom and gloom, judgment and violence, destruction and death will continue to be part of our reality.  Yet we continue to pray that God's Kingdom might continue to come to us and through us as His will is done here on earth as it is in heaven.

And we pray, "Come, Lord Jesus!"

With You in Him,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"