Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church

2022 Easter 4 H Sermon

The Babylonian Captivity: Jerusalem burns in the background

The Incomparable and Unwearied God

Isaiah 40:25-31

May 8, 2022 anno Domini

King Hezekiah was looking for help. Assyria had taken Israel captive and now they were ready to attack Judah over which Hezekiah reigned. Think of Judah as the Ukraine. Hezekiah as Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Assyria as Russia. Hezekiah is looking for help and a delegation of Babylonians shows up and Hezekiah is overjoyed. He shows them all his treasures and wealth in the hopes they will help defeat the Assyrians.

There’s just one problem and his name is Isaiah. There’s nothing worse than a preacher who shows up at the very moment when you are about to engage in some good, fun, and rewarding sin. Hezekiah thought an alliance with Babylon would preserve his kingdom. Isaiah showed up to remind him that Judah wasn’t Hezekiah’s kingdom but God’s Kingdom. The Babylonians weren’t the strength Judah needed; the Lord God was their strength. Isaiah prophesied that Babylon wouldn’t save Judah. Tthey would swallow Judah whole and take her captive. Once again imagine President Zelensky entering into an alliance with Communist China against Russia. Ukraine would be swallowed whole and taken captive.

Isaiah preached his pestering prophecies to King Hezekiah about 700 years before Jesus was born. About a hundred years later Isaiah’s prophesies came true. Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and the temple and took Judah captive. This is the captivity we heard about this past Lent – when Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego were captive.

In captivity they began to wonder, “Does God even know where we are? Does He even remember us? We’re Judah. We are His chosen people. Why do we sit here in Babylon, surrounded by pagans, afflicted with evil? Maybe, they thought, Babylon is right, and the Lord God is wrong.

This is why the Old Testament captivity is such an important part of God’s Word for us.  Ever feel like you’re in a foreign land surrounded by evil? Do you say things that you have always believed to be true, but other people look at you like you have three heads and green hair? As you look at the trouble and evil in the world have you ever asked, “Where in the world is God? Does He even care about His people?” You have been tempted, many times, to go the way of the world instead of the way of the cross.

That’s a long introduction to the text, but it’s okay. It’s not like anyone has any plans for lunch today. We have plenty of time.

Isaiah chapter 40 was written for those days in captivity – for Daniel, for Judah, for you, when you ask the Lord, “Are my ways hidden from you?  I’m your child, but where are you, my Father? To our questions God asks us questions (don’t you hate when someone answers a question with a question.)

To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him?  The Judahites likely compared God to the Babylonian gods. The Babylonians were powerful. The Babylonians had fun. The Babylonians controlled everything.  To what other god in the world do you compare the God of Scripture?  Do you want God to be a Las Vegas God – A god who doesn’t see what you do in the dark, a god who doesn’t speak of sin. What happens with god stays with god. Or perhaps you want an American god – a god who will make our nation great again, a god of right and wrong, and of course, we are right and they (whoever they are) are wrong. To whom do you compare god? What do you want him to be?

Repent, for you do not want God to be anything other than He is. Repent and be quiet about what you want. God still has some questions for you.

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? The Lord is talking about the stars – the starry host whom He put in place, whom He calls out each night, of whom not one is missing. Why does God through Isaiah point to the stars? Because the Babylonians were big into astrology. Remember the wise men who came to Jesus, likely descendants of the Babylonians, who had seen a new star in the sky. The Babylonians considered the stars more powerful than their gods. By studying the stars, they believed you could determine the course of human events. Perhaps the Jews wished God was like the stars because everything was going Babylon’s way.

Isaiah had two Words from the Lord for captive Judah and captive us. First, everything in the world is God’s creation and under His orders. Nothing compares to the Lord. Secondly, The Lord does not faint and grow weary. The Babylonians fell to the Persians. The Persians to the Greeks. The Greeks to the Romans and so on. On the last day the stars will fall from the sky. America will fall one day. Your money will become weak and useless. Your health will fail. Centracare will not be able to keep you alive.

In these Words, that the Lord is incomparable and He does not weary, Isaiah is pointing us to Christ our Savior. Who is like the God who became man?  Who is gracious like our God? Who loves like the God of Scripture? Who lays down His life for His enemies? Who gives life to the dying? The gods of this world demand that you give your life to win his favor. The God-man Jesus gives His life to declare you favorable to His Father. What other god does not grow weary and tired of His people? What other god is like the hound of heaven who won’t give up his hunt for you or like the Good Shepherd who climbs into death to save a little lost lamb like you?

The people of Judah thought their ways were hidden from the Lord. In truth the Lord’s ways were hidden from them, but they are hidden no more. From Bethlehem in little Judah came the news of the Savior being born. From Jerusalem in Judah came the news that Christ is risen from the dead just as He said. The incomparable and never weary Lord is truly seen in Jesus Christ.

Several times, while working on my sermon this week, I wanted to speak to you about abortion because it’s in the news and the Bible is pro-life. You aren’t getting the facts about abortion anywhere. Fact – all 50 states had legal abortion under some conditions before Roe v. Wade. Fact, Roe v. Wade allows for abortion up the moment of birth. Fact, overturning Roe will simply allow each state to decide what their abortion laws will be. Fact – 73 million unborn children were aborted in the world last year and that is a low estimate.

When it comes to abortion the Lord’s incomparableness and unwearied pursuit of sinners governs our beliefs and actions. No God compares to the God who created every human being in His image. Every unborn child is created in the image of God and is therefore as valuable as any human being who has been born. Many gods are prejudiced against the unborn, infants, and women, not the God of Scripture. Christians have done more for women, children, and the unborn than any other religion. God is unwearied in His grace and mercy. He alone is the God who hung on the cross dying both for the unborn and for the woman who had an abortion. The God who hung on the cross died for us who stand for life at the voting booth and with a few dollars to Pregnancy Resource Center, but who are often silent among our family and friends and may have even been tempted to abortion. To whom will you compare the God of Scripture? No one compares to the tireless and gracious Father who sent His Son and pursues you with His Spirit. In the midst of this, our Babylonian captivity, as we look forward to the new Jerusalem, Isaiah teaches us that there is no god who compares the Lord God, our God, in the name of Jesus.  Amen.