“He Will Come and Save You” (Isaiah 35:1-10)

Third Sunday in Advent
December 11, 2022

“He Will Come and Save You” (Isaiah 35:1-10)

Do you ever feel weak, like you’re not strong enough to handle what life is throwing at you? Do you ever feel like your faith is feeble, that it’s not firm enough to face the future? Are you ever anxious or worried, afraid that there are forces or people out to get you, and it feels like they’re winning? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then I’ve got a word for you today. Actually, God has a word for you today, and I’m here to deliver it to you. It goes like this: “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.’”

“He Will Come and Save You”: This is the theme for our message today. And this word of God, this promise of God, will strengthen your weakness, firm up your faith, and relieve your fears and anxieties. For God always keeps his promises. He is faithful to his word.

This word of God was first spoken by the prophet Isaiah to the people of Israel, some 700 years before Christ. And those people needed to hear it, because there would be plenty for them to be anxious and fearful about. And this word of the Lord, from Isaiah, was there to strengthen and bolster their faith, even as it will do for us today.

“He will come and save you.” Isaiah is writing to prepare God’s people for a time when they will need saving. The Lord gave Isaiah the prophetic insight to foresee the time when Judah and Jerusalem would be taken captive to Babylon. That happened about a hundred years after Isaiah, but the prophet writes this now to prepare for that day.

Babylon will have conquered Judah and ravaged Jerusalem. They will destroy the temple, and take large portions of the population captive, to Babylon, in a series of deportations. The Judahites will be stuck there, in Babylon, for a long, long time. The situation was pretty miserable, and it was easy for the people to become discouraged and despondent. “Has God forgotten about us? Where is his rescue? We’re supposed to be living in the promised land, the land God had promised to our ancestors. And yet here we are, hundreds of miles away, stuck on the other side of a desert.”

The situation looked pretty hopeless. So God chose to give his people a word to hang on to, to revive their hopes and strengthen their weak knees. He has not forgotten about you. The Lord will deliver on his promises by delivering you from your exile. “I will come and rescue you. And you will return and come back home, in a way you cannot see now. Nonetheless, I will come and save you.”

And that’s what the Lord did. After about 70 years of the Babylonian Captivity, the Lord acted to set his people free. He raised up the nation of Persia to be the next world power. Persia defeated Babylon in 539 B.C., and the next year the emperor Cyrus issued a decree, telling the Judahites they could go back to Jerusalem and rebuild their city and rebuild the temple.

The Lord–he will come to save you, Isaiah had prophesied. And then you–you will come back home. Isaiah gave a beautiful description of this return: “And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

So this was the fulfillment of that prophecy. Or was it? For the prophecy sounds a lot grander and more glorious than just the return to Judah, as great as that rescue was. The prophecy talks about “everlasting” joy. And sure, it was a joyful event when the exiles were able to come back home. But “everlasting”? No, their joyful freedom did not last forever. Judah was still under the rule of the Persians. And after Persia would come Alexander the Great, followed by the Seleucids. And after them, the Roman Empire would come and occupy the Holy Land. So the people of God may have come back to the land, but they were not free. They would continue to be under the thumb of foreign rulers. Sorrow and sighing did not flee away.

There was more awaiting the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. The messianic age had not yet arrived. For these would be the signs that would signal that arrival. Isaiah writes: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.” When you start seeing these things taking place, then you will know the time has come.

Well, have those kinds of things taken place? Yes, they have! Listen to what Jesus tells John’s disciples: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” In other words: “I am the one prophesied to come. The messianic age has arrived. For I am fulfilling those signs Isaiah was talking about. Eyes of the blind opened? Check! Ears of the deaf unstopped? Check! Lame men leaping? Mute tongues singing? Check! Check! Prophecy fulfilled!”

This is it! He is it! Jesus the Messiah! He is the one who has come to save you! Dear friends, you are the redeemed walking on the highway to heaven. You are the ransomed of the Lord returning to Zion. And the ransom price, the redemption, was the holy precious blood of Christ, shed on the cross for you.

We were the exiles, driven out of Eden and captive to the devil, due to our own sins and folly. We were cut off from the tree of life and made subject to death. But Christ came to deliver us from our enemies. He conquered death and the devil by his own death and resurrection. “Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” This is what Jesus has done. He came and delivered the big payback to death and the devil, defeating our foes for us, something we could never accomplish. But Jesus has. And he shares his victory with us.

Our Lord links us to his life-giving victory through the means of grace. In Holy Baptism you were united with Christ, so that now your destiny is tied to his. He lives forever, and so will you. You will share in his bodily resurrection. And in Holy Communion, you receive the very body and blood of Christ for your forgiveness. And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation. Christ has redeemed the whole you, body and soul, to live with him forever.

And not only will your body be raised whole and glorious, this whole dreary earth will be renewed and restored. Isaiah prophesies that, too: “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.”

Imagine what that will be like! Living with the Lord and all his people in a new creation, no longer subject to death or decay, no longer plagued with sin or sorrow or sadness! Eternal joy! Rejoicing unbounded! Eternal life! Life to the fullest! It has not even entered into our imagination how wonderful this will be! But it will be, rest assured! God always keeps his promises. God always is faithful to his word.

So, dear friends, if you ever feel weak or feeble or anxious, today you have come to the right place. Because your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has come here first, to free you from your fears. Today he speaks his hope-reviving words into your ears: “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”

And when Christ comes again, then we will see–and we will experience–the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

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Published in: on December 10, 2022 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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