What's Your Sign
I pray that you all are continuing to stay strong in the Lord. Be encouraged, know that you are being prayed for. Praise and thank the Lord.
Today I will continue with our look to Jesus as we enter into this Christmas season. We will again go to the book of Isaiah. Isaiah, a Jerusalem prophet whose writings are considered to be pretty accurate historically. He is also credited with writing the history of King Uzziah.
The book of Isaiah is a book that illustrates the full dimensions of God’s judgment and salvation. God is understood to be “the Holy One of Israel”, who must punish his rebellious people. At this time the kings of the Jewish people are not always righteous. Israel is a nation that is blind and deaf, ready to be trampled, its people lacking justice or righteousness.
This is just the message that I have been led to preach and communicate this year. Our leaders are like the dysfunctional and criminal leaders of Israel. We are just like the Jewish people of this time, blind and deaf, and lacking justice and righteousness in our culture and society.
Not a popular message. But there is more to this message. Yes, we need repentance and forgiveness. Yes, we receive this through confession and prayer. But there is still more, because God does love us. God really does love us. The more is this, God will have compassion on us. God will redeem us. God has redeemed us. Let’s begin with Isaiah 8:11,
“The Lord spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people.”
Have you ever had the Lord speak to you in this way? I have, and if you have too, you understand somewhat of the burden of Isaiah and of prophets like Isaiah. Isaiah 8:12-15,
(He said) “Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare. Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.”
Either God is the cornerstone of your life, in which he is the foundation for all you do, or, he is a stone which causes us to fall. Sadly, today, many are falling away from the Lord. Whether it’s the pandemic, the shutdown from the pandemic, all the political turmoil, all of the social and cultural turmoil, I don’t know. But I do know this, back to God speaking to me with his strong hand upon me, it is harvest time. We are being overwhelmed with constant bad news. In fact, we focus on the bad news, allowing it to pull our focus away from God. Do not fear what they fear, do not dread it. He will be a sanctuary. Think about this, that same feeling that draws you to church. That combination of emotions that you get as you walk through your church's door, hang on to this. Because God will be your sanctuary. Do not fall away from the Lord. Now is not the time for us to go weak-kneed. Now is not the time for us to hesitate. Now is not the time for us to get lazy and fall away from the Lord. Because it is harvest time. Isaiah 8:18, “Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.” We are, as children of God, signs and symbols for today’s generation of lost and confused people. What is our sign? It’s the same sign that Ahaz did not want to request from God. God gave it to him anyway, because it is a sign for the people of Israel and a sign for all of us today. Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you (this Hebrew word for you is plural) a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Emmanuel (which in Hebrew means God with us).” This gives me goosebumps almost every time that I read it, because this sign will not take place for another 700 years or so. Remember back several years, there was a song about “Where’s Your Sign”? Well, if you remember that song you know what that song was about. That’s not our sign. No, our sign will read, “Emmanuel, God with us”. We are the people of God. Our God is with us. God has always wanted it to be this way, for the Jews, and for us as Gentiles. Isaiah 8:19-22, “When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! (To the scripture and to the testimony is where we should look). If they do not speak according to this word (and the world does not), they have no light of dawn. Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.”
This is just how most of our world feels today. It is harvest time. We have a sign, EMMANUEL- GOD IS WITH US! We need to display this sign with love for our fellow neighbor. Isaiah 9:1-7, “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who are in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan--The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as a people rejoice at the harvest (it is the harvest), as people rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Median's defeat (a great victory through God and Gideon), you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” What’s your sign? Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God. Blessings, Thad Brown Opportunity House and Harmony UMC