God's definition of justice, as exemplified in the love Jesus demonstrated and taught, illuminates the darkness of all other perspectives.
I will set my justice for a light to the peoples. Isaiah 51:4 (ESV)
We're looking still at the lectionary readings. And this time there's a lectionary reading from Isaiah that talks about justice as light your own life. The light of the world, where a lot of times thinking along another term besides justice, but right here, that's what Isiah calls justice: light. And in this passage of scripture and verse one, it speaks of in the King James version look unto the rock whence you are healing and then a good news Testament there. It says, think of the rock, from which you came, you came the quarry from which you were cut, as we go along and see, this really is talking about our genealogy. Both our genetic history and our spiritual genealogy as well, because it points to Abraham who was the genetic parent , the biological parent of all of the Israelites. But then in the New Testament, the rest of us are brought into that spiritual tradition, into that spiritual family, "grafted" as Paul puts it, "adopted" is another way of thinking of it. But made to be a part protectors and participants in that same family.
Transcript of sermon
Preached Extemporaneously [Video] on August 23, 2020
for Briensburg UMC
The Rock from Which You were Hewn
Think of the rock from which you came,
the quarry from which you were cut. Vs 1 (GNT)
Their father, Abraham is our spiritual father. And the faith of Abraham is what the Bible really lifts up and invites us in that to look not only to the person of Abraham, but his descendants, both in all ways. And when we look at our heritage of our parental heritage, on the lineage and the earth, and after the lives of other people who have been our spiritual family, and then we're seeing them having a lot of influence in our lives and the shaping of our lives and who we are. The ideas and the traditions that have been handed down to us in our family, and our biological family, as well as in our spiritual families, amongst our friends and society, and they've all shaped who we are and they continue to. And while we do continues to shape those after us as well. But not everything in that means that's good, to look at it doesn't mean to accept at all, either.
It means to look at it, to examine it the way we examine our own hearts and minds and filter and sort, and make choices and decisions based on that. So Abraham, who is named here and the others who go unnamed in this passage all the way down through the generations to us, had some good times and some bad things that Abraham did some things that were pleasing to God, and sometimes there weren't so pleasing. So we filter those out and we said, well, we don't want to do this, I'm just, don't, we're not please whether it was by Abraham or by our parents and grandparents and great greats and all the way or by other members of the church, other parts of the body of Christ, other people in the community. And then there were other things that God really loved.
And the main thing that the Bible lifts up about Abraham was his faith in God. And then he said that his faith was imputed to Abraham as righteousness. And so his confidence that he had in God overrode a lot of those things that were into off shore. There's another way that Saint Peter put it one of his letters. He said, no cover as a multitude of sins. And so it's got a lot, I paint, paint the wall. Then a lot of those defects just go away. They're covered up and they don't appear anymore. And the same with us; love and justice and goodness, and faith and confidence in God and God is doing rights a lot of wrongs, even on our own lives and the lives of our friends and family. So we do look to the rock from which we were here. Look at what brought us here to this moment, even this hour, where we worship together. And then going on down to verse four and the Message translation is written, "Pay attention, my people. Listen to me, nations. Revelation flows from me."
The Word of God
Pay attention, my people.
Listen to me, nations.
Revelation flows from me. Vs 4a (MSG)
One of our earliest learnings as people of God, verses we probably memorized earlier this time in our childhood in Sunday school, was about that Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. The word of God and God say I supposed, that's why I got to listen to me, pay attention, hearken unto me, as it says in the King James, because God's word speaks to us and through that we hear, but it shines in our minds and helps us to know while we're supposed to be doing and what we're not supposed to be doing and guides us. And as we delve into it and understand then the word of God speaks to us to our personal situations. It gives us hope and confidence and guidance for them for today. For where my feet are right now and for the next steps that I'm taking.
And he does this through revelation. So the light is shining and the pathway is revealing to us what steps are true and what steps will take us off and shows us where we're going. And what obstacles might be in our path. And so that in that sense, then the word is alive or fate. And then Jesus speaks to us in the sermon on the Mount and says, you are the Light of the world that you personally let your light shine so that everybody can see and give glory, see your good works and give glory to God.
Justice will be the Light
I will set my justice for a light to the peoples. Vs 4b (ESV)
When we think of Jesus as the light, that shine and came into the world and Isaiah prophesied about that, the people that sat in the darkness, I've seen a great light. There's a lot of times when we thank God. The light of God's word as just what we are able to wrap our minds around and what we can know or explain or learn in, in just in that sense as knowledge information, that is a certain type of light, but I like them to just go so far, the light that shines and penetrates the darkness is not just something that we've learned about, that as we mentioned last time, justice is something that we do, light is something that shines and we experience it. We look outside and we see from the light of the sun, all of those around, or inside the room too, when we have the lights on.
We see lots. We say what's around us. And that's an experience we've got, we close our eyes and we all that's still there, but we don't see that we're experiencing it maybe in another ways, but not visually because the light is shining and illuminating what's around us. It become a part of our experience. And then that's what God goes on to say through Isaiah and in this next part of the verse that in the English standard version, it says I will set justice for a light to the peoples. We think back again to the definition of justice in the Bible, is fairness, equality, goodness, and kindness, acceptance, encouragement. All of these qualities make up that balance of what justice is in the Christian sense of the word, that everybody is treated fair. Everybody has a fair opportunities that everybody treats one another right, and then harmony.
And we encourage and strengthen each other. You see ourselves as a family, a spiritual family, looking to the rock from which we were in and looking to the other people of faith that have passed the faith to us, looking to the different layers in our faith, down through the ages, looking to the apostles and disciples of Jesus and the prophets in the scriptures, looking at that to the mighty throng of witnesses gone on before and knows yet you come unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before him. So after the cross and now is seated at the right hand father. That justice, that fairness, that view, that relationship that we have with each other, and that love is set as a light, for all the people who see in all the world.
A Garden of Compassion
Joy and gladness will be there,
and songs of praise and thanks to me. Vs 3b (GNT)
And then I'm going to go back now, to verse three, because he uses imagery in verse three. That it's good. There's testament that says joy and gladness will be there and songs of praise and thanks to me. And then the King James said that he will make her wilderness like Eden and her desert like the garden of the Lord. I think that's a pretty neat picture to have in mind. I like having that in my mind, a gardener of compassion, a garden of love when we think about a garden of our best views and the imagery of a garden is one that's not fully grown isn't as bearing fruit and all the things, but it has to get there. To Get there it has to be lying down and dug up and the soil prepared and the seeds planted and water and nourished and kept attended. We did it everything as those plants grow to the time that they produce these fruits.
And so we're like that garden. We plant, we work the soil and water and we do all this and that's growing up, but, and this image is one, one of the garden of love and compassion. And we're a part of that. We're in that work and that garden we're living in that garden and that garden is living in us. And we're a part of that. And we're a part of what's growing in God's garden, compassionate, and loving. And so there's a lot of ways that we can look at that. And, you know, we can take turns being on different parts of the garden, tending under our banner plants in the garden or being in any, any part of that garden, but it's such a rich imagery full of joy and gladness of that stuff. That's enough fruit that we expect, or we can think as the fruits of the spirit that that Paul wrote about in Galatians, these fruits of joy and peace and love and faith and all of the happiness that God wants for us and for the world around us. And that's all growing as the garden grows.
God’s Healing Salvation is Permanent
My salvation will last forever,
my setting-things-right will never be obsolete. Vs 6c (MSG)
And then at the end of the passage in the message ever it's, "My salvation will last forever. My setting things right will never be obsolete." God's healing salvation is permanent. That's become important to me as time has gone by over the years in my, with Christ and with ministry and with the scripture has brought me to understand synonymously the words, healing and salvation, that God's salvation is more than just getting people to switch their views on something, our become a member of a particular organization, but that salvation is a the healing of our souls. Salvation is wholeness- snatches us from the jaws of perdition from all of the hearts and that, and the pains and struggles of our lives from where we're sinking and saves us in this rescues us, and then works with us you know on a day to day basis to cleanse us and to tend to the wounds in our hearts and minds, as well as in our bodies and in our relationships.
And then he strengthens us as, as, as we're healed, we're strengthened to then extend that same healing to others. And to perpetuate that, that salvation, you bring others into that fellowship of the redeeming, the fellowship of those who are being healed, the fellowship of love and life. And together, we continue to be healed and preserved unto everlasting life strengthening our spiritual immune system and it gets strengthened and we become, we continue to become more whole, and this life and look to continuing completion in the life of the world to come. Hold us and healing that never ends and never becomes obsolete. And I like that way, that Peterson's a message though, not becoming obsolete because you know what, our faith, the light that is shining in our lives, the wholeness that God brings us, the garden, I have compassion. All of that applies to what was going on right now in each of our personal lives, in our families, in our communities and in our world, this is relevant and fresh and new too, what we'll see on TV, when maybe I turn it on after a while over to the news, as it was when these words were raised thousands of years ago. It's because God's word, God's light,
God's love is eternal.
That's what he brings his sentencing. That's what he invites us to be. When Jesus says "you are the light of the world", that's what he is calling us to join him in being the light of the world. Doing what Isaiah is talking about, what God was talking about through the prophet Isaiah so long ago, and extending God's justice, god's mercy, God's fairness, God's forgiveness. All that God thinks of when he thinks of him, when God thinks of justice, thank God for his goodness and righteousness and love. And he invites us to be a part of that. Will you accept that invitation in new and fresh ways today to be for your family, your friends, the light of the world?
In the name of Jesus. Amen.