Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Comfort, Comfort My People

Isaiah 40-44 So begins the second portion of Isaiah's sermons, a collection of poems that preach...oh how they preach!

The book of Isaiah breaks down into two major sections - chapters 1-39 and 40-66 (the same division as the OT/NT). The assigned reading out of Isaiah today launches us into the second section, poetic sermons that are comforting messages of redemption. Everybody at some point in their life needs comfort...and when they do, these sermons will become very personal. They have become so for me.

There is so much out of even these first five chapters that are echoed in the Gospels:
"A voice of one calling: In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD..."
"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight..."
"...a light for the Gentiles, open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison..."
"Do not be afraid, for I am with you..."
"Return to me, for I have redeemed you..."

So much of these opening chapters of Isaiah are sermons painting a picture of God's identity, character, promises, deeds, and desires. What kind of God is this? What kind of God is Isaiah artfully proclaiming? What kind of God is at work in this world?

"Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the Earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak."

Out of all that which makes me weary and weak, it is loving others. Obviously there are the common difficulties of loving my spouse, my children, my family and friends. And there are plenty of helps for how to better love those who you expect to love you in return. But what about those to whom I am to love, with no expectation for reciprocal love...

Do I love the poor and the weary and the broken and the bruised and the hateful and the arrogant and the mean and the apathetic people in my neighborhood and community? It is so inconvenient...seems like such a poor stewardship of my love... yet to love like Jesus is to love those who...well it's already been said. Hence my need for a God who would love someone like me.

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