Wednesday, January 6, 2016

God's own Isaiah 42:1-7, Luke 3

There's a word that we all need to hear. We all need to hear God's claim, "You are mine."

This word of belonging is a prophesy spoken on God's behalf by people. It was spoken first on God's behalf to people in exile in Babylon. These words, found in Isaiah, speak to a nation in tough straights. Exile meant loss of land and possibly even identity. These were the chosen people, the people of promise, but their situation looked awful. And it appeared to be getting worse. That's when God called to the people, through prophets, and said, "you are mine." Isaiah 43:1. These words declare once again to all Israel, simply and clearly, you belong.

But, those in exile will rightly say, it doesn't look like we are God's people. Severino Croatto asked a very reasonable question;

How can it be possible, above all, that in the midst of the painful experience of those dispersed among the nations, a project of salvation was announced to those very nations?
THE "NATIONS" IN THE SALVIFIC ORACLES OF ISAIAH by J. SEVERINO CROATTO* Buenos Aires, Argentina © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2005 Vetus Testamentum LV,2 page 143-144
What a great question. When circumstances seem other than blessed how can we claim to be God's. It's seem reasonable to start asking God tough questions, How can we be your chosen God, your beloved, if all this is happening? And here is where the promise meets us. We live in a world broken by sin and death and it's in this world--in this life that God has spoken his claim,, "You are mine." This is a Word of Gospel--this is a gift we don't earn or merit. This is grace spoken by the God who would face the cross for his people,

Jesus heard words from heaven that declared his identity. He heard it first at his baptism Luke 3:22-23 and again at the transfiguration Luke 9:28-26. He is God's beloved. And we hear these words in baptism when we rise from the waters. We belong. Even when the opposite seems to be true God's claim is still valid. Even when we feel unworthy God's love matters all the more. Luther wrote,
It is our glory, therefore, to be worthless in our own eyes and in the view of the world. We must indeed be nothing in our eyes and in those of the whole world. Not speculatively, as the Monastics say, but in reality we must be nothing to the tyrants who are raging against us, so that, though we are unwilling, all our wisdom, strength, and glory before us and the world may perish and we may seem stupid, so that with groaning and overwhelmed by the cross, we may long for liberation. In that extreme despair we hear You are precious in My eyes. “Because you are nothing to yourself, you are glorious to Me.”

I love you. The opposite seems to be true, “I do not love you.” When conscience hears God threaten, it says, “You are God’s foe and enemy.” So the whole world gives expression to the opposite view. Yes, the enemies themselves are the objects of God’s love, not we. Under this cross the flesh cannot believe that it is loved by God. The flesh says, “Love someone else also.” But here the prophet says, “Do not judge yourself according to your feeling but according to the Word...
Luther, M. Luther's Works, vol. 17: Lectures on Isaiah: Chapters 40-66 Vol 17 Page 88). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

There's something in God's Word we need to hear. From the greatest person to the least we need to know of a love for the unworthy and the unlovable. God has claimed us and keeps on claiming his own not because we are worthy or holy; no God has claimed us because he loves us enough to die for us. The prophetic Words push us forward into this world with a permanent identity as God's people. Real live calamities are named in the prophesy: rising floods, terrible fires, and the promise is clear God is with us Isaiah 43:2. And through the worst this world can bring God's promise, you are mine, is heard again. The God of hope and salvation has spoken for Isael, for all people of faith, even for the worthless and unloveableee. God – the ancient one who made heaven and earth – God the one who set the people free from slavery is still the savior of his people. By the power of God's Word alone you know you belong. Isaiah 43:3.
And for that Good News I give thanks today. Peace and thanks for reading, John

No comments: