On the Plains of Moab Blog
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February 15, 2012, 5:50 PM

Not Quite Exactly

I will have to say that Sunday did not turn out exactly as I had hoped.  My worst fears as a pastor center around the very real possibility of being too opaque in the pulpit.  As Mark Futato at RTS Orlando used to always say in Comm. Labs:  "Fuzzy in the pulpit; foggy in the pews!"  In my defense, I will say that this stuff in Isaiah is so extremely rich, that it's hard to unpack everything in little preaching portions.  Yes, I know, you most likely think 20 minutes is forever -- but, it's really not!  As a preacher, I agonize over keeping sermon manuscripts under a certain word count.  I just don't have the luxury of going into a lot of detail to set up a passage; consider each verse; and then have some extended time for application.

In our mainline Presbyterian tradition, the expectation is that we will craft a nice little paper with a story or two, a joke, perhaps a meaningful poem, and then a brief mention of the passage under consideration towards the end of the sermon to demonstrate that we really did read it!  The important aspect is that you read every word -- word for word so that you won't go on too long.  Nice, short, sweet.

I digress!

The stuff we are talking about in Isaiah forms the basis of all that we cherish in the New Testament.  The Gospel is really all there in Isaiah.  Let me try to do here what I do not think I did very well on Sunday:

Isaiah 1-39 covers the period of Isaiah's ministry.  His dealings with kings.  His preaching to the people that they were heading for disaster -- exile.  Assyria would be the rod that God would use.  The southern kingdom of Judah watched as their northern brothers and sisters went off under judgment -- but they didn't take the message to heart!  The little exchange between Hezekiah and Isaiah in Isa. 39 is the icing on the cake!

In chapters 40-66, Isaiah sees down the corridor of time as God unpacks the future.

Isaiah 40 -- Now, nearly 200 years later and in the context of Babylonian exile for the southern kingdom of Judah (for all the bone-headedness in chapters 1-39), Isaiah's word is that God knows of their circumstances. He WILL remember his promise to his people (you know, the word of God will stand forever stuff).  Salvation will come.

Isaiah 42 -- Israel was supposed to be God's servant.  To be the light.  To show the way.  They didn't.  Soooo...God would provide another servant who would fulfill all righteousness.  ...Sometime in the future.

Isaiah 44-45 -- Just so Israel would know that God means business, Isaiah foretells them about the delieverance that they will experience by the hand of the pagan king, Cyrus of the Persians.  (I do believe this is a real honest-to-goodness prophecy from the only Isaiah, as I made clear with red meat on Sunday!)  This will be a down payment on the even greater salvation that will be known through the coming servant of the Lord.

Isaiah 46-48 -- Babylon is judged, really judged.  Spanked.  God's people reminded that God is God and he delivers!

Isaiah 49-66 -- The servant of the Lord further unpacked.  The New heavens and the New Earth will follow.

Cool how this stuff unloads!

I will be blogging on this Sunday's message as I narrow down the scope.  Pray for me.

(The picture, by the way, is of the Sun breaking through the fog!)


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