S-1475 5SAE/3B 2/08/2015 Hymns: (O) #35; (S) #549; LS. #134; #129; #307; (C) #43
Texts: Isaiah 40:21-31; 1 Corinthians 9:16-27; Mark 1:29-39
Theme: “An Awesome God!” (Isaiah 40:21, 22b…28)
Question: “How often do you use the term “Awesome”?
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia. The text is from the O. T. lesson: “Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth…Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable” (Isaiah 40:21, 22b…28).
Saints in Christ, I am very reluctant to use the word “Awesome” because it is often used without any consideration to its meaning. Often I hear, “This is awesome!” But what does “Awesome” really mean? According to Webster’s dictionary it means: 1. “inspiring or displaying awe” and 2. “excellent or outstanding” However the Patriarch Jacob who used the term long before any of us did, or Webster defined it; gives us the true definition of the word: “It causes fear and dread in the heart of man.” This is the way Jacob used it when he dreamed of the ladder that is stretched between heaven and earth: “And he [Jacob] was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’” (Gen. 28:17).
When the Scriptures speak about being Awesome, we are not just saying this is really cool or beautiful but it should also give us dread and fear. Luther got it right when he gave us the explanation of the Commandments using both Law/Gospel, “We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.” We should fear, because God is holy and we are sinners. A sinner can’t stand in the presence of the Holy One of Israel. But the awesomeness continues because He loved us first in Jesus at the Cross; and He remains faithful to us so that we can trust in Him! That is why Jacob is afraid and yet delighted to be in the presence of God—the Awesome One.
That is precisely what we have in the text before us from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah reveals the Awesomeness of God with these words: “Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth…Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable” (Isaiah 40:21, 22b…28).
Don’t you know who you are dealing with? Don’t you understand that this is the ONLY true God who does wonders, who sits enthroned on the circle of the earth and who does the impossible? Though many claim there are many gods out there, in truth there is ONLY one, God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And this God is Awesome and then some. PAUSE.
On Tuesday, I was the Bible Study Leader on “Thy Strong Word” on our Synodical radio station and the worldwide web and a God—incident happened that is indeed Awesome! A saint Cheryl called the show. In the conversation with her she mentioned what an awesome God we have and what He has done for her and she quotes a portion of the text v. 28 which: Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.”
I told her, “Saint Cheryl, this is an awesome day indeed.” Only God could do this. Here she quotes the verse I am preaching on and even the title of my sermon. What a beautiful day that was. After the show I contacted Cheryl and asked her to tell you her story. Please listen to Cheryl describe our Awesome God:
Mom is 97 years old and has been living for almost a year at an assisted-living facility. Mom constantly complained about all the wrong things I do and that I don’t care about her. However, Monday evening was different. While I replaced both of her hearing aid batteries, Mom kept repeating how astonished she was to see me alive because she had heard that I had committed suicide. She asked to hug me. (She never hugs me--only my brother.) She asked me how everyone was doing. She said she loves me. She thanked me for all I do. She kept saying “Praise the Lord.” God’s love for us is so amazing: I had prayed for emotional strength for my visit with Mom, but He gave so much more.
As awesome as this story is, it is a small drop in the ocean of God’s grace and love towards us sinner. PAUSE.)
Beloved in the Lord, a long time ago I heard this: You need two things in life to make it meaningful and endearing: 1. Love and 2. Forgiveness. And these things we have from the One who is Awesome indeed—the God Isaiah spoke of and the Savior who revealed Him to us.
To be sure our God is awesome and then some! Why you may ask? Because when you compare the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob...the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; our only Savior, there are no comparison. “To whom will you compare Me? Or who is My equal?" says the Holy One. v.25.
If you could only harness what this text shows us about this Awesome God! He is the only true God. He is Holy, Everlasting, gives hope eternal; and the Only God who gives promises and prophecy and then fulfills them all in His Son, Jesus Christ. (v. 25, 28) He even raises the dead! He is the One who is Compassionate, suffers with us, for us, and by us...41:13. We see it clearly in Isaiah’s Suffering Servant Songs (Isaiah 53). He is the Only One who is Present everywhere...v. 22. He is not limited to time and space. As He was with the people of Israel He is also present with us every day.
As awesome as God is as we look at His role and place in creation, there is a point in history when God is even more awesome! That place is the cross. There this Awesome God who is Lord of all creation willingly became part of that creation. He came to fix it in the only and most awesome way possible! He became flesh. He lived within this fallen world. Then, bearing all the sins which broke it, He was willing to die for that same creation. He offered His life for me and for you and for all creation! How awesome is that! How fearful that is for us! How loving He is toward us! Oh how we can trust this One who has done such awesomeness for us!
He is the God who does not snore but enables us to soar. He is the God who won the victories over the all the armies of the world. No god could compare to Him. Yet, at times we are fooled because we focus on our problems and circumstances and the finite side of things, that we don’t see the hand of Him who is infinite in saving us and giving us the victory over death and the grave.
Think of it brothers and sisters in Christ, our God is an Awesome God and yet some. He names every star...40:26. He is Awesome in power and presence, but in compassion...Ps. 147:3-4). Though He names every star and can tell you where every one of your three hundred trillion cells in your body are...every star, every scar, physical or psychological...that awesome... and then some. He is near and far and we see Him through His Good Friday scar.
Someone defined circumstances as “those nasty things you see when you get your eyes off of God.” Wait upon the Lord...Wait does not mean sit and do nothing. It means root your future in His promises, see the perfect past record and see the awesome things coming your way in the fullness of times. It is this AWESOME GOD that we fear, love and trust by His grace through faith!
Indeed, Isaiah helps us see with eyes of faith this Awesome God—the One who comes to us sinners and chooses to be with us. As Jacob spoke when He woke from His dream saying: ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’ so too, we say the same. In this house of God, we stand in awe and fear. As sinners we stand in this holy house, because here in this place He comes to us with His gifts of body and blood. Here in this house He invites us to dine with Him. Here in this place we stand in awe and declare what an Awesome God and then some. PAUSE.
Martin Luther once said, “That the sweetness of the Gospel is in the pronoun. For YOU!” This Awesome God—Jesus is exactly the Savior you need. He’s the Savior tailored just for you. He is the One who welcomes you a sinner to change you to be a saint. Indeed our God is an Awesome God—He Awesome to save, Awesome to forgive and Awesome to love—YOU forever. Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA