2nd Sunday after Pentecost (Prop 7 – C)
June 19, 2022
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The text that I have chosen for this morning’s sermon is the Old Testament reading from the book of Isaiah.
There’s a powerful poem on the wall of the concentration camp in Cologne. Written by a Jewish inmate, probably one who died in the camp, it speaks to an unbreakable faith. The poet wrote, “I believe in the sun when it’s not shining, I believe in God when He is silent.” God certainly seemed silent when the Germans were slaughtering innocent men, women, and children. Why didn’t He speak against the terrible atrocities? Why doesn’t He speak now? Why doesn’t He tell mass shooters to stop? Why doesn’t He command Putin to stop killing innocent people? Surely, if God spoke in these situations, things would be dramatically different. We don’t know why God is silent now. We do, however, know from His very mouth, that He won’t remain silent forever, and when He speaks, everyone will hear what He has to say.
It’s not really correct to say that God is silent; He’s not. He just doesn’t speak to us as we sometimes wish He would by whispering in our ears or giving us a call on the phone. He speaks to us through the Scriptures, the Bible, the very Word of God. In those pages you hear His voice telling you that your sins are forgiven. Promising you that have eternal life. Vowing to never leave you nor reject you. Everything God wants you know is in those pages.
Today we hear God say that He is ready to be found and you have found Him. The Lord says through Isaiah, “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.” It wasn’t like He was hiding from you though. Rather, He sought you out, gave you faith, and then called you to come to Him. He found you so you would find Him! He said, “Here I am!” for He wants you to stand by His side. And you know where you hear His voice! It’s in His Word! In His Word, He calls you by name! He calls you to faith, and He calls you to repentance.
God clearly says in the Bible that our sins are not insignificant. We are conceived sinful, and since we’re not holy as God commands, we deserve His condemnation. As God speaks the Law in the Bible, He hammers your conscience until you break and admit that you are a sinner. And we must admit that we’re sinners, for without repentance, there is no forgiveness. And forgiveness is what God really wants to speak, and He speaks it to all who seek Him. He says in Isaiah 66: “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” When you humble yourselves, admit your sins, your sins are forgiven. Whether spoken by me or by a fellow believer, your sins are forgiven. God says that you’re purged of your guild and shame. You are renewed by the forgiveness of your sins. You’re not a lost and condemned sinner, you are God’s chosen possession. The Lord puts it this way: you live among sinful people, but since you are His you have nothing to fear. You will be called out from among the lost and condemned to take your place with Him who knows your name.
Won’t it be incredible to hear: “Come to me my children! You who have been saved by the blood of Jesus, enter into my holy presence!” When God speaks, those who believe in Him will be separated from those who ignore His call and His Word. He will speak to them, but His message will be vastly different. To be clear here, God isn’t talking to unbelievers or atheists, He’s condemning what we call apostates. Apostates are those who renounce the faith. They are also those who renounce His Word while claiming to believe in Him. He condemned those who claimed to be Jews then and those who claim to be Christians now. Apostates are those who renounce the true faith for a faith of their own making, who reject the Word of God for their manmade lies.
God was far from silent as He spoke through His prophet Isaiah. He was angry and justly so. The Jews had chosen to follow the practices of their pagan neighbors by rejecting His commands, worshipping false gods, practicing witchcraft, trying to talk to the dead, and embracing ways that were contrary to the ways of God. They weren’t just sinning, we all do that, rather, they were embracing their sins.
God continues to speak through prophets like Isaiah and He still condemns the behavior of those who claim to bear the name of Jesus. It’s painful to say, and to hear, that not everyone who knows Jesus will be saved. There are those who bear the name of Jesus but have twisted God’s Word to fit what they want to teach, hear, and believe. They’ve embraced the sinful ways of their pagan neighbors and have made God their enemy.
I say this not to be hateful or arrogant or holier than thou. It’s heartbreaking when Christians reject the True Word of God for their own flawed interpretation of the Bible. We don’t gloat over the lost, rather we pray for them and ourselves! We pray that those who claim to be Christian would repent and turn from the corrupted faith to the one true faith. We pray for ourselves, that we don’t go the same way. We pray that we’ll speak the truth in love, always in love. Christians are often accused of bigotry, hatred, lovelessness for repeating God’s Word, and sometimes Christians do speak harshly. I’ve done it before myself. Still for the most part this can’t be further from the truth. We speak the truth out of the love and desire to save the wandering from their sins. We speak the truth to lead people to repentance and true faith in God.
We speak the truth because the Church has been silent for too long and the price for remaining silent is great. I pray you take what I say not as my opinions or ideas, but as God’s Word. It’s hard to hear but it’s true. To argue with God’s Word, to twist it to fit what you want to believe, is to always be left on the outside. Again, I’m not talking about sin or when we misunderstand what God says, I’m talking about endorsing those behaviors that God says are sinful.
What does God condemn that many who bear the name Christian endorse? What must we not keep silent about? I know most of you know these issues, but we name them so that we can talk with those who are baptized as we are, who are called to repentance and faith as we are.
We condemn the mutilation of the human body in pursuit of finding the true self. The true self is what God created. We are created as God intends us to be – male and female. It’s a terrible sin teach children that they can be the opposite gender. There aren’t 50 genders or whatever, there are two created by God. Are there confused people struggling with their bodies and identities? Of course, but irreversible puberty blockers and surgery aren’t the answer.
Do we remain silent as God’s intention for families are ignored and mocked? Is it loving to let people live in sin, whether it’s cohabitation, homosexual relationships, or even open marriages? The destruction of the family is one of the prime indicators of a fallen civilization and we’re seeing the terrible consequences all around us.
Sexual promiscuity, the hookup culture, the rampant use of pornography, the exposer to children of drag queens, and the erasure of God’s intention for the sexual union are destroying not just individuals, but also the faith of Christians. Christians are forgetting that they are redeemed by the blood of Jesus, a priceless gift, and that means they are new creations in Christ.
And we would be remiss if we fail to mention abortion. Yes, this is a hot topic of debate, and Christians fall along the spectrum of opinions. But does God’s Word fall on a spectrum? Did the ancient Church let the innocents die, or did it take the unwanted in and save them? All human life is sacred to God, for all of it is created in His image. To reject this, to support the murder of the unborn, and I dare say, to support officials who endorse abortion, is an offense to God. Our Savior was conceived and born as every other child, and if the Savior of the world became human this way, what does this say about the value God puts on the unborn?
The world is becoming more and more pagan. The number of people claiming to be Christians is plummeting. The pagan world is trying to absorb the Church, and in some places, it appears to be working, so it’s all the more important that we don’t remain silent. God calls on us to speak His Word diligently and faithfully.
One thing that God doesn’t do is to mince words or beat around the bush. He tells those who claim to be His people and yet openly sin that their actions stink and the aroma of their sin burns His nostrils. The stink of their sin means that when God speaks it will be to declare their death and damnation. Those who practice these stinking things will be punished, even if they claim to bear the name of Jesus. To bear the name of Jesus is to hear and obey His Word, it’s to repent of our sins and for attempting to twist the unbending Law and Gospel of God. To bear the name of Jesus and yet reject God’s truth, as it’s found in Scripture and in the world around us is to reject the forgiveness of sins and the faith that has been passed down from previous generations.
The people in Isaiah’s day thought that because God was silent, perhaps consenting to their behavior, all was well. But all was not well. Those who see God as consenting to the sins of today also show that not all is well. God will not be silent forever and when He speaks He will judge the living and the dead. We’re all guilty of sins, including many of the ones I’ve mentioned. But no sins are unforgiveable and the so hear the Lord say to you “Here I am!” Hear His call, confess your sins, and hear those beautiful words, “You are forgiven”. And don’t remain silent, but call on your wandering brothers and sisters in Christ to hear the pure Word of God, and to feel the joy of the forgiveness of their sins.
Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen