S-1275 18SAP/3C 10/16/11 Hymns (O) #434; S#262; (C) #250
Text: Isaiah 45:1-7; 1 Thessalonians1:1-10; Matthew 22:15:22
Theme: “The Eternal I Am!” (Isaiah 45:4-6)
Question: “How well do you know Your God?” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost is the Old Testament lesson: “For the sake of My servant Jacob,
and Israel My chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know Me. I Am the LORD, and there is no other, besides Me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know Me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides Me; I Am the LORD, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:4-6).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
You who are known and loved by the God of all grace and mercy, Paul in his letter to the Church at Rome declares this golden truth: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Yes, indeed my beloved and His—God works in all things for the benefit of His Holy Bride the Church and for His glory.
Today’s text affirms again this truth. We see that God’s promise to be working FOR YOU is not some New Testament innovation. Though Isaiah’s words were written about 800 years before Paul’s letter to the Romans the truth of it still stands and will stand forever—because our God is the Eternal I Am who changes not. The author to the Hebrews put it this way: “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind” (Heb. 7:21) and Malachi also said: “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6).
We see this truth in our reading today, as the Great Gospel proclaimer of O.T. Isaiah declares it to the broken, bruised and burdened people of Israel in exile in Babylon. The people of Israel were taken captive. By the grace of God, He moved Cyrus the King of Persia to conquer Babylon and enabled the Jews to return to Judea and rebuild the Temple.
Indeed the Eternal I Am doesn’t change. He gave a promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that He will be their God and they will be His people. Though they sinned and were exiled to Babylon, yet He raised up a Gentile, a foreigner to be His anointed—His messiah to bring about salvation to the children of Jacob so that they may not be consumed.
The Lord used Cyrus the king to be the Savior to His people. The Jewish people wouldn’t and couldn’t get over this—it was a big scandal that God would use a foreigner to bring about deliverance to His people.
But this is what the Eternal I Am does. The people of old didn’t understand it, couldn’t comprehend it and wouldn’t realize it that He does all of these things for their good.
We are told by Isaiah the O.T. Gospel preacher that the Eternal I Am is the ONLY true God, and there is no other. That He is the One who calls Israel by name though they didn’t know Him. He is the One who equips them to walk humbly before Him. He is the One who cares and provides for them all they need; but still didn’t know Him. PAUSE.
Are we not like the people of old? How often have we been blessed by the Only True God, only to chase after other gods—of our own making to be disappointed again and again? How often have we been told that God calls us by name in the Waters of Baptism and we forget that we are His? How often have we dined at His table, only to turn our noses up against His heavenly manna? How often have we forgotten or stubbornly rejected His mercy and His kindness?
At times we are duped into believing that God doesn’t care for us. He doesn’t even know us nor does anything to help us? We let the devil, the world and our sinful flesh to get in the way of seeing the Great and Eternal I Am from blessing us because we think He has abandoned us and forgotten us.
When there is trouble on the horizon, when there is pain in our hearts, when our prayers are not answered as quickly as we like or not in the way we think, we say: “God doesn’t even know us nor care about us!” How foolish we are! Whether we see it, believe it or admit it, God is ALWAYS the God working FOR US! Scripture is full of story after story of God’s Divine intervention—reaching down from heaven by His mighty and outstretched arm and coming to the rescue of His people. Again and again, we are given testimonies of God working everything to the well fair of His Holy Bride—the Church—you and me. PAUSE.
Sheldon Yellen, the CEO of BELFOR the world’s largest disaster restoration company, was featured on CBS’s popular show “Undercover Boss.” This company operates in 29 different countries and has over 6000 employees.
Sheldon Yellen went undercover to see how his employees were fairing. He worked in Norfolk, VA, Denver, CO, Chesapeake, Va., In Chesapeake, Yellen worked with Jen, a water technician to repair water damage. Jen told Yellen: “That she started as a cleaning technician and was ‘promoted’ to a water technician nearly a year ago, but got no increase in pay because ‘corporate says there’s a raise freeze.’ Furthermore, I don’t believe the company even cares for its employees—we are simply a number on a piece of paper. If the boss himself was here and tripped over me he wouldn’t even know me!”
He was so moved at that time that he revealed his true identity right then and there and told her she would get that raise. He later made good on his promise, giving her a retroactive raise, a week’s paid vacation, and a check for $15,000.
We commend Mr. Yellen for going undercover and learning the truth about his employees and giving them a great reward.
However, our Eternal God—the Great I Am has done so much, much more. He doesn’t give us only a reward for our work like Yellen did $15,000.00 He gives us all of the treasures of heaven rooted and grounded in His Son Jesus Christ. The Eternal I Am doesn’t operate in the dark or undercover, but always making His plans known to His beloved—YOU. There has never been a time when God didn’t know you. There has never been a time when God didn’t care for you. There has never been a time when God didn’t work FOR YOU to bring about your redemption and salvation. There has never been a time when our loving God didn’t give us more than we deserve.
Yet, we, at times act like the people of Israel in saying: “We don’t want to be saved. I can save myself by the things I do and the way I live!” How foolish we are to think we can earn our salvation by our works. Know this truth: SALVATION BY WORKS DOESN’T WORK!!!
Remember what I said above that the people of Israel thought it was a scandal that God would use a heathen king—Cyrus to bring about deliverance and salvation to the exiled children of Jacob.
But the Great scandal is not Cyrus who freed the Israelites from exile—but Jesus the sinless Son of God who goes to Calvary’s holy mountain to die our death. The Greatest Scandal in the world is that Jesus the righteous One becomes unrighteous. The Holy becomes unholy. The innocent becomes guilty. The One who is LOVE, becomes the most hated One in the world. Why? Because, He brings about the GREATEST act of freedom from the exile of God; He brings about redemption, restoration and salvation.
Jesus is the Eternal I Am who knows you by name, who works for you; equips you, blesses you and works through you as He sends you out to share your salvation story with the world that doesn’t know Him. Even though He has made Himself known to the world, the world doesn’t know Him. But you do. He is Your Father, Your Lord and Savior—the Great and Eternal I Am. Who works for you even now! Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA