For Their Sake, We Cannot Keep Quiet! Isaiah 62:1-5
† In Jesus Name †
May you realize that because of the mercy of God the Father, and His love for you demonstrated in Christ Jesus, that you will never be forsaken, for the Lord delights in you!
If you were to ask me which book in the Old Testament, and perhaps even the entire Bible, which is my favorite book – it is the one from which our Old Testament passage tonight was read from.
In Isaiah, we see, completely revealed, the heart that God has for His people. The love, the plan by which He would restore them from their brokenness, the joy that he would have, in bringing them back together, from every place, from every ethnic group on the face of the planet.
Such is the passage we have before us tonight, the incredible promise that Isaiah cannot be quiet about – that He must proclaim. He cannot rest or stay still – he must tell someone!
Not because He has to – not because He was called and commanded to by God – that just gives him the responsibility to share God’s love, to proclaim His word. No the reason He cannot keep still, the reason He cannot keep quiet is found there in verse 1.
For their sake, I will not keep silent! For their sake I will not be quiet!
For the sake of the people whom God would save, for the sake of the people upon whom God, the creator of all, would call by a new name – by His name… for their sake, Isaiah, and all the prophets, the apostles and evangelists and pastors and teachers – for their sake – even you and I, we cannot keep silent.
What we have to say makes that much of a difference in their lives.
I would like to explain this, with a quick illustration of some incredible guys that I get to serve, as I train them in ministry. They are in training to become deacons, normal guys from a variety of backgrounds. A teacher, a small town businessman, an engineer, a pool cleaner, a homeless, another guy with an MBA who troubleshoots peoples computer systems, a collection agent, a clothing manufacturing supervisor, an artist, and a printer. They study so they can work aside pastors
Most of them have been in church all their lives – from 30-74 years. They entered the program to be trained because they love God. As they study, as we work together, they all keep saying that they love God, but they never full realized how much that God adored them. The more they learn, the more they want to learn, and the more they find themselves not being able to shut up about God’s love.
Drive’s their wives a little crazy at times – but they too – learn and fall deeper and deeper in love with God.
I could talk about where they’ve come from for hours – each has had a life full of challenges, times where they’ve wanted to give up, times where they didn’t know hope, times where their lives were on the line….Ted and Rocky, Terry and Bob, Bill, Mike, Don, Eddie, Mark, and Chuck and so many more.
It is for their sake – and yes yours, that I cannot keep silent about God’s grace. I pray, that because you will come to know His love more clearly, more fully, that you too will be able to name those for whom you cannot keep silent, because you know God’s love for them, because you know His love for you!
What we see: Forsaken and Desolate
One of the guys, presently a student in the program, is such an example. He and his wife have hung in their – being faithful in attending church and in doing things. They knew the basic of the faith, the basics that we confess in the creed.
But their lives have been full of challenges. They’ve endured the death of one daughter, their other daughter’s life has been a major challenge as well. They have taken care of a mother who lived 70 miles away while she was dying painfully. The church at that time didn’t give them the support they needed. He has suffered with diabetes for 50 years, and the doctor’s cant seem to make up their mind if he has parkinsons, alzheimers, dementia or some other disease/disorder that no one has got a name for yet.
With all these challenges, and more besides, one would understand if they felt forsaken by God, if they thought their lives were desolate. If they thought that God has decided not to answer their prayers, that for some reason they weren’t good enough. They simply plow through, and faithfully take care of their responsibilities – so where is God’s power in their lives?
I sometimes wonder why they don’t have the same doubt, the same feelings I would – and my situation is not near what they’ve endured…
I don’t know about you – but when I hear Isaiah’s description of the people of God, saying that no longer will we be termed forsaken, no longer will our lives be desolate, I can think of certain times in my life, where I have felt that way – exactly. Where it would seem that even in a place like Los Angeles, surrounded by 20 million people – I am completely alone, and while there is hope and joy for others, there isn’t any for me.
I am broken.
Broken by my sin, the times where I’ve failed to love God enough to recognize His wisdom and love that underwrites the way He has designed and encouraged us to live.
Broken by my own sin, when I place my desires ahead of the needs of people around me. Where my own entertainment and enjoyment I look towards, rather than seeing my brother’s and sister’s needs.
Broken by others sins, as the entire world it seems, is full of people who put their own lives, and desires and goals ahead of any relationship with me, and step on me to achieve them.
Forsaken? Desolate? Yeah – I know those feelings.
What is Real
Knowing those feelings – and knowing that the men I serve have them – that hey – even you may have them- that is why we cannot be silent about God’s reality – and how it shatters those feelings of forsakenness and desolation.
Isaiah talks of how people will see our righteousness, that we have been cleansed in baptism from all sin and brokenness, that we are being healed of all that life has done to us. Isaiah talks of how it will shine like the most powerful of lights – our salvation will appear like a burning torch/lighting.
That is what is real – that our lives will be the crown – the proof of God being God, of Jesus being Lord of all – for only such could take us, and make us whole and alive and joyful.
For God has given us a new name, He has called us by His name – marked us as His.
My friend – the student who at 74 – with a memory that fails him – except when he is talking about God – realizes this. He had an epiphany, the lights came on, when he stood and held my Bible and bulletin open – as I baptized Rachel and Kay, two students of the school. It continues – each time he goes to church and to class to become a deacon. He soaks up the material like a sponge – and then shares it with people he knows.
He understands what it means to live as one that has been united to Christ in baptism – that has been joined to Christ’s death and resurrection, who because of the promises that are applied with the water – that life has been transformed.
This man understands, perhaps better than any I know – including all the pastors verse four and five of Isaiah – and the love of God for His people – which includes Chuck.
The Marriage of God!
Isaiah describes the love of God in a very incredible way. He describes it, as the New Testament does, in terms of a wedding, in terms of a marriage. In terms that shatter the illusion that we are alone and desolate – for we have been united with Christ.
That God’s love for us is that which a man should have for his wife, as he marries her. That God is willing to honor and cherish and protect us for all the days of His eternal life.
Isaiah describes God finding delight in us, He finds joy – incredible joy in making us His people, in calling us by His name. In uniting us to Jesus in baptism – that we would be His – His clean and spotless Bride.
Some 800 years after Isaiah, Paul would take up this idea in Ephesians 5:
Ephesians 5:25 (Phillips NT) 2. Christ gave himself to make (his people) her holy, having cleansed her through the baptism of his Word – to make her an altogether glorious Church in his eyes. She is to be free from spots, wrinkles or any other disfigurement – a Church holy and perfect.
28 Men ought to give their wives the love they naturally have for their own bodies. The love a man gives his wife is the extending of his love for himself to enfold her. Nobody ever hates or neglects his own body; he feeds and looks after it. And that is what Christ does for his body, the Church. And we are all members of that body, we are his flesh and blood! ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’. The marriage relationship is doubtless a great mystery, but I am speaking of something deeper still – the marriage of Christ and his Church.
That is what my friend gets – it’s burrowed so deep to his core – through the pains and sorrows, through the medical challenges, through the grief. Seeing the joy as he comes into the room – whether the church sanctuary, or my office, or into class – ready to learn more of God’s love for him, and for those around him. Hearing him tell how he told the doctor of Christ’s love, or the “old guy” across the street who fell and couldn’t get up…
How can I not want to teach him more about God’s love – knowing that he will cherish it and it will transform him and those he knows. That it will give him hope and peace as he basks un Christ’s love, like a bride and bridegroom completely unaware of anyone else’s presence as they are married, as they become one.
Not just about the deacons – its about you
I used my student, my church member’s my friends story for a reason.
He can’t keep silent about God, and having him in my life has helped me not keep silent – watching God work in his life, assured me that God is working in mine. Seeing the peace- that peace of God which he dwells in so comfortably….
I know I can let God deal with my fears, my anxieties, my sin and brokenness. That God delights in me….
And if God can do that in my life….. if God desires to do that – as scripture teaches…
The same is what He desires for you – to delight in you – to call you by His name – to make you His people….
I cannot keep silent about that… for the joy is beyond anything you can imagine, as is the peace…
You need to know that the peace of God, which goes beyond all understanding – will guard your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus. AMEN!