The Greatest Change…
A Radical Change…We Needed
† In Jesus Name †
As God’s hand guides us through this valley of sin and death, may we so know His presence, may we so experience His love and mercy and peace, that we do not fear…but find ourselves alive in His strength
It is a word that can cause great anxiety, even fear, or terror. We make jokes about our inability to change – for example, How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb? Change?
Perhaps for men it is because we associate change with a need to get dirty. I mean one of the ways the word is used – that will cause any man to cringe and hide in fear are the words, “Honey can you change the baby’s diaper!”
Politicians promise it – yet their changes are often something to fear, because of what is called the “law of unintended consequences.”
I mention that change can create anxiety, I should have said it does, as we try to find ways to cope with it. We can try to bargain, we can just simply deny it is happening, we can get angry about it, we can get depressed, we can accept it, but even then, is that acceptance done with a sense of defeat, or a sense of expectation, and are those expectations real?
To those experiencing such anxiety, the prophecy of Isaiah speaks to you, indeed it speaks to all of us who experience change:
35:4 Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not!”
Isaiah was even to give them the reason for their strength, the reason they didn’t need to fear.“Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
Now that is a radical change, that is the most radical change we will face in our lives, and my friends it is a radical change we needed.
I will even make the promise that the coming of Christ into our lives is the most radical change our lives will ever endure. And most of us, whether we have realized it, have already seen that change made in our lives.
Isaiah’s then and now
In three verses today, Isaiah has a “top ten list” – ten ways he describes the change that comes, when God bursts on the scene, and brings salvation to His people. When He delivers them from the bondage of sin, from the oppression of satan and his demons, and when he frees us from anxiety about death.
So let’s look at this “top ten” list. Isaiah’s top 10 ways of describing the change that takes place in a life which encounters God.
Number 10, Our Anxious hearts find Strength in knowing God is here, saving us.
The word in Hebrew for anxious and anxiety is also the word for frantic. To use an old saying, being anxious looks like someone running around like chicken with its head cut off. Anxiety drives us to want to do something, anything, to find a way to cope, or to find a distraction from all that worries us.
Yet when God comes into our life, when we know we can have faith in Him, trust Him, we learn something amazing, we can be still, and know that He is God. He’s in charge and the promises that go with that are wondrous! What a change!
Number 9 We are changed from being blinded, to being able to see.
As God enters our lives, it is very much like having a cataract removed. That’s what the Hebrews pictures – something growing on our eye, that stops us from being able to see anything – it is removed – and we can see so clearly, that we can comprehend what is going on around us, what is truly important – our senses come alive! And we can being to perceive God’s plan in this world around us, and again, rest knowing His love!
The 8th way Isaiah’s prophecy describes the change of God coming into our lives! The deaf are able to hear!
Imagine never being able to hear, then the first words you can hear are, “I love you!”
To hear God’s word read and when He says, over and over, “You will be my people, and I will be your God, “ what sticks with us, is that He is talking to us, we are His people, He is our God! He will care and provide for us, comfort and protect us. What an incredible change!
Number 7 change that comes when we are transformed in Christ – the lame are able to leap like a deer! How tremendous is this change pictured, as everything which hobbles us, everything that binds and weakens us is removed! Sin cannot grasp us, shame and guilt cannot immobilize us, such an incredible picture this prophecy, this promise of Isaiah brings to our lives!
The sixth way in which in which we are changed brings to mind the move Braveheart –when Mel Gibson cries out– Freedom! For the sixth way this change that takes place in our lives is described is that the mute able to should cry! But the word for cry is a specific word, not just any cry, but the jubilation cry – the shout every 50 years when every debt is cancelled, everything is made right and restored. This shout accompanies the trumpet is sounded as the man of God cries out that we are– healed and FREE!
The fifth change pictures the change of flood waters breaking forth in the desert, as if some dam can no longer hold that which is keeps behind its wall – and the love of God, the mercy and grace pours out over us, overwhelming us as it transforms us into His image!
As it the fourth way in which we are changed – as streams appear on the Arabah – not just in valleys, but wadi’s, oasis appearing at the top of desert mountains. So incredible the change, so incredible the life of God that is manifest in our lives! This isn’t to say that we won’t need to rest, that there won’t be times were the world overwhelms us, but indeed God will give us the rest and provide that which we need!
Number Three also is a picture as hard cracked ground becomes pools, for the ground becomes so completely saturated, that the water above is still and deep. Ground that was formerly so dry, so lifeless that the sun could baked it to the point where it cracked is now so changed. Over and over these ways keep noting the change – more and more radical – but the difference only testifies to the need we had, when we were dominated and anxious because of the power that sin had over us! And we can never forget the change that many others still need!
The number 2 ways in which we are changed – this dry thirsty ground of our souls are so changed they become springs and fountains! Picture we become like Old Faithful! Lives that we sucked dry, that were in so much need of attention and care, become like lives that cannot stop pouring out the very thing that they have received – the water of life, the grace and mercy and peace of God
And the last way the transformation that happens when God comes to us, and rescues us sounds perhaps the oddest. The place where Jackals live, the dry dead ruins becoming like a wetlands. Life teams all over the place, and the area that once was so barren that rabid scavengers would fight to the death over the smallest tidbit – now is a place rich with food, rich with life. So to our lives change when we realize that God has it all under control – life becomes so different, we are no longer anxious over what there is for us, and we gladly begin to share of what we’ve been blessed with!
It is a greater change even than the one we fear the most…death
In three verses, Isaiah’s prophecy has described a dramatic change that will happen in the future for those who were his contemporaries. For those of us that get anxious about change – this most incredible change has already happened to you – the promise has occurred – when God came to you, and claimed you as His.
When you were brought to life in Christ.
No other change you will ever experience – even physical death, is as great as the one which has been made in your life. You have gone from spiritual death, and quickened into life by the very power of God!
you can see Him, so you can hear of His love, so you can leap and shout for joy, for He is with you. So a life that was dry and hard and sucked everything in, and was self-centered and focused on getting what you could, could become an incredible oasis of peace.
When we experience any change, there is a time where we have to get used to it. That’s is where we are at now – that is why this feast, and these times were we are gathered are so crucial, for they remind us, we are being changed, recreated, transformed, for God has come, and took vengeance on all sin when Jesus bore it all on the cross.
And we are saved..just as was prophesied, we just need to get used to it!
So rest, strong in Christ, and let the anxiety of life slip away. For the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guards your heart and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN?