Sermon on Isaiah 12:1-6
Text: In that day you will say: “I will praise you, LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. 2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
4 In that day you will say: “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. 5 Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. 6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
At this time of year, we probably sing more at church than at any other. In addition to our Sunday morning worship service, we have our midweek Lenten services with their hymns and psalms. We might not think of Lent as the “singing season of the church year,” especially because many of the hymns seem to have a mournful quality to them. We might think of the Christmas or Easter seasons as the singing times of year, with their hymns of joy at Christ’s birth or resurrection. However, in this season of the church year that focuses so pointedly on God’s plan of salvation coming to a head in the suffering and death of Jesus, it is very appropriate to celebrate our spiritual rescue in song. With that in mind, we want to SHOUT ALOUD AND SING FOR JOY! 1 God Is Our Strength And Salvation. 2. Make Known Among The Nations What He Has Done.
Chapter 12 of Isaiah’s prophecy is built upon the psalms that the Israelites sang after God rescued them from the hands of the Egyptians. The Israelites had passed safely through the Red Sea. As the Egyptians pursued them, the Lord brought the waters of the Red Sea back over them and they were drowned. God, in a very miraculous way, had rescued his people. Here, as Isaiah sings this song of praise, he builds on the rescue of that day, so many years before. However, he is not only looking back at ancient history as he sings. He is also looking forward to a rescue that would happen on the future. He begins with the words, “In that day you will say.” (Verse 1) After this particular thing happens, Isaiah said, you will respond in this way.
The event that Isaiah is referring to can easily be inferred from the first half of this song of praise, “I will praise you, LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”
Isaiah speaks of a time when the Lord was angry with them. What caused God’s anger? The answer, of course, is sin. In this particular case, the Lord became angry with his people because they had turned their backs on God and ran after false gods. They were all too quick to leave the true God and run after these false gods that catered to their sinful nature. They would feel God’s anger when the Babylonians would come in and take them into exile.
If we took a look at our lives, would God have reason to be angry with us? To find out, ask yourself, “Have I ever been discontent with what I have been given?” “Have I ever been angry with someone else?” “Have I ever hurt someone, either with my actions or with my words?” “Have I ever thought the worst about someone else, rather than taking their words and actions in the kindest possible way?” If the answer to any of these questions was “Yes,” even if it was only once, I have sinned and God, the holy, righteous one, has every right to be angry with me and punish me for my disobedience.
God is not like a parent that threatens and threatens to punish a child because of disobedience, but never carries it out. God does not just pretend to be angry about sin. He is angry with sin. He does not just pretend to punish sin. He punishes sin.
The Old Testament people were very much aware that the wrath of God falls on the guilty one. Think of the many sacrifices that the Old Testament people were required to make. This animal was a substitute for the person who sacrificed it. Just as the Old Testament people were to see the substitutionary act in their frequent, even daily, sacrifices, so we see that act of substitution by the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, on the altar of the cross on Calvary. His sacrifice for our sins turned God’s wrath away forever.
This was the day that Isaiah spoke of. It was the day when this song of praise would come the lips of the people of the Lord. The people would sing, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” (Verse 2) God is my salvation. That means that God is the author, cause, agent, accomplisher of salvation. There is no salvation apart from God. So often the Old Adam rears his head and begins to whisper in our ear, “You know, you’re really not so bad, at least compared to everyone else.” He might say, “Look at the good things that you do. God’s got to give you something for that.” “Well, maybe you did not do everything when it comes to your salvation, but at least you were not as resistant as the others.” As soon as we start to pay attention to that type of thinking, it is kind of like the fish noticing the worm dangling at the end of a hook. If we start to believe these things, we start to feel that, in some way or other, we helped out in our salvation. However, if we feel that we help out with our salvation, we have lost it all. God is our salvation. Salvation apart from God is impossible. God is our salvation.
In addition to that, Isaiah reminds us, “The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength.” (Verse 2) Mankind has built many things that they place their trust in. Look at the advancements made in medicine, technology, etc. However, there are still fears that lurk: “What if I lose my job?” “What if I lose my health?”. So many questions and fears plague us. How comforting to be reminded of the fact, as Isaiah says, “The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense.” (Verse 2) God is our strength. He is the only thing that we can always count on that will never fail us. As Paul reminds us so beautifully in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The answer is “Nobody!” It is because of this assurance that Paul reminds us later in that chapter, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
When we think of all that God has done for us in sending his Son to be our Savior and what he continues to do in providing for us and protecting us, it is only natural for us to praise him. When we remember that God is our salvation and our strength, can we help but, “Shout aloud and sing for joy?” (Verse 6)
When you get good news, you cannot help but tell others. You can’t wait to tell about an engagement or a birth. Children, who get an A after they have been really struggling with a subject, can’t wait to get home and show Mom and Dad. If you find a good deal, you tell others about it. Good news is meant to be shared.
Isaiah calls upon the people of his day, and us, as well, to tell others the good news of what we have learned and seen. He says in verse four, “In that day you will say: ‘Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.’” He adds in verse five, “Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.” When we think of all that God has done for us, we cannot help but tell others. Peter told the Sanhedrin, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”(Acts 4:20) Having seen the life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Peter and the others were moved to tell others. This is in line with what Jesus gave as his parting mission to the Church, when he tells us to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)
What are we to proclaim? Isaiah tells us, “Make known among the nations what he has done.” (Verse 4) The Church is not to proclaim the opinions of scholars. It is to proclaim what God has done and this is only found in God’s Word. We limit our teaching to what God says. “I think” or “I feel” really has no place in our proclamation of God’s Word. The one task of the Church is to point souls to the Lord and all that he has done for us sinners.
The desire to make known among the nations what the Lord has done is behind our sending forth missionaries both home and abroad. We realize the most important thing that we have to share with others is the message of Jesus Christ and what he has done for us. Out of love for Christ and for others, we want to tell them about Jesus.
This desire is also behind our educational system. There are many things that we can give our children that are important. Yet, there is no greater thing that we can teach them than Jesus’ love for them. This is why we have our Sunday School, Kids Under Construction, Confirmation Class, Vacation Bible School, Youth Group, and the like. This is why we provide for the tuition of children who want to attend at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Plymouth. This is why high schools such as Nebraska Evangelical Lutheran High School were established. To help others teach the precious truths of God’s Word, we have established Martin Luther College and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. We have such great news to share. We share this news with those inside our congregation and outside it, as well. There are different ways to do so. Just look, for example at the various types of media at our fingertips: computers, internet and email, TV and radio and the like. Whatever the media, the message does not change. As Isaiah says in verse five of our text, Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world”
Some people have been blessed with beautiful singing voices. You could sit and listen to them all day long. There are others who, to be quite honest, could not carry a tune in a bucket. Regardless of the singing voice you have blessed with, you can still shout aloud and sing to the Lord. As you sing to him, speak to others about him, and live your lives for him, you are singing his praises loudly. We have the greatest motivation and that is that God is our salvation and our strength. This message is too wonderful to keep to ourselves. Instead we want to make known among the nations what he has done for us. Then, at the last, when all the saints are gathered together safely in heaven, we will sing his praises forevermore. “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise him, all creatures here below; Praise him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” Amen.
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