Sunday, March 07, 2010

Free for joyful celebration

Isaiah 42:1 – 10 Free for joyful celebration!

Here’s the situation:

God is often seen as one of two things:

1. So loving He would never cause or allow harm to people.

2. So spiteful He is always looking for an excuse to punish us.

This leads to misleading concepts of God.

1. If God is “loving” why do bad things happen?

a. This question misunderstands the “problem.”

1.) It expects God to prevent all forms of “bad,” “harm,” and “pain.”

2.) Bad things are a matter of perspective.

(Ill.) While America was angry and mourning over September 11, others celebrated in the streets.

A person who trusts Jesus for salvation dies. The family may mourn but the person, in the presence of Jesus is in joy beyond description.

***** The interpretation of events as “good” or “bad” is not universal. *****

b. The question misunderstands the nature of God.

1.) God has given humans the freedom to choose, the responsibility to care for this world, and the requirement to face judgment for those choices and actions.

2.) God has set certain physical and spiritual laws in motion. (The law of sin and death.) God will not violate those laws… it would make God a “law breaker” (a.k.a. “sinner”).

If God were to intervene and prevent a person from sinning, then God would be breaking His own laws, like the law of free will and the law of sin.

We cannot be insulated from the consequences of other people’s action. Imagine if you got shot and the bullet harmlessly bounced to the ground. That’s comic book stuff, not life.

2. Accusation: God is spiteful and always looking for reason to punish us.

a. This misunderstands the nature of “justice.”

A person falsely accuses another of a crime. The accused gets sent to prison. Where is the justice?

Your child is in school and a person comes into the school and shoots them. Regardless of what happens to them… where is the justice?

You’re daughter is one of the 30,000 girls in this country that is kidnapped and sold into the sex industry as a slave (CBS). Even if you get your daughter back she has long term emotional damage. What would count as justice for you?

***** Our problem is that ultimately there is no earthly justice that satisfies us when we feel we have been wronged. *****

b. This misunderstanding denies our responsibility as sinners.

1.) “There is no one righteous, not even one.” [Romans 3:10] In other words… nobody is without guilt.

2.) “All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” [Romans 3:12] In other words, we do not do things God’s way. As a result we are “worthless.” Without exception.

Here’s the solution:

1. God intended to send a “servant” one who was “chosen.”

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.” [Isaiah 42:1]

a. The KJV (and many others) translate it “Behold my servant…”

1.) Into our dismal in infested situation, God send a “servant.” Not a conquering King, not a great person… a servant… a slave.

2.) It is a HUGE surprise… (That’s the idea of “behold.”) It is Isaiah’s way of saying WOW!

b. The idea of “chosen one” was what the Jews called the Messiah, we call the Christ. Jesus.

2. Jesus came with God’s Spirit on Him to bring justice to the nations.

a. That’s the job description here in Isaiah 42. (There are others.)

b. In our concept of justice, someone has to pay for the wrong in someway.

“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-- [26] he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” [Romans 3:25 – 26]

3. What does this mean?

a. God sent Jesus Christ as a sacrifice to pay for all the wrong (sin).

b. Jesus’ life blood became the only means for that sacrifice to satisfy the requirements of justice.

c. Only by faith do we accept this sacrifice as completely sufficient to pay for our sin.

d. Jesus sacrifice shows God was right to tolerate, be patient, and forgive what was done in the past.

e. Jesus sacrifice shows God is right to accept those who have faith in Jesus because Jesus paid the price of our law breaking (sin).

Here’s the stink:

1. How can God do this?

a. God’s servant would take a “humble” and “gentle” approach.

1.) [v 2] He would not raise his voice. People who raise there voice have lost control… they are naturally scary people… bad people.

2.) [v 3] He would not further hurt those who are damaged. (bruised reed, smoldering wick)

“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group [4] and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. [5] In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" [6] They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. [7] When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." [8] Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. [9] At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. [10] Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" [11] "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." [John 8:3 – 11]

b. Jesus does not condemn the woman AND He will not let her go back to her sin.

1.) When we talk about sin we cannot separate it from forgiveness and freedom from sin.

2.) The idea is not to damage hurting people further; it is to bring hope and healing from the hurt sin causes.

2. Why would God do this?

a. Because God can… (God is the ONLY one who can)

1.) [v 5] God created… God has decided to buy us back from the slavery of sin and save us from the eternal consequences by sending His own son to Hell for us.

2.) That is the message we remember and prepare for during Lent. Jesus died and went to Hell in our place.

3.) This message is followed by Easter, where we learn that neither death nor Hell can hold Jesus… or anyone whose faith is in Jesus.

b. Because we are helpless.

1.) [v 7] “blind,” “captives,” “sit in darkness.”

2.) We are in a desperate situation that if we truly understood… we would not want to be in.

3.) Trouble is that we are in darkness… we don’t really see (understand).

Wesley: “Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night. Thine eye diffused a quickening ray, I woke the dungeon flamed with light! My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.” [From “And Can It Be?”]

Here’s the significance:

1. [v 8] God will not share glory with another or loose praise to an idol.

a. Only God the Father has accomplished our saving freedom through the blood of Jesus Christ.

b. God does not need to be represented by an idol because God is in those who believe and trust in Jesus.

2. [v 9] Because of Jesus, something new happens…

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” [2 Corinthians 5:17]

a. This must be chosen or we continue in the same old rut that is not taking us to heaven.

b. We can continue in the slavery of sin or follow Jesus.

3. [v 10] Joyful celebration will be the result as evidenced by praise to God.

(Ill. Footprints rewrite) Person looked back and saw two sets of foot prints, then one, then foot prints all over the place. Asked for an explanation.

Two sets, you learned to walk with me. One set, when I needed to carry you. The scattered foot prints, when we celebrated with joy.

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