Last Sunday, December 11th, I preached at our church. It is always an experience full of nervousness, awkwardness, fear, no matter how many lines I mark to remember my time before the people. But this Sunday, I started in what might be a series on the book of Isaiah. I know, 66 chapters. I know, plenty to discuss there. But, it’s good stuff. Sunday was the first twenty verses.
Tradition at our church involves a reader reading a set of auxiliary passages. Frequently, that is nerve racking. I need to free myself from the yoke of tradition when it isn’t required, doesn’t fit, etc. But Sunday, it did fit. Isaiah 1, according to Keil & Delitzsh, points back to Leviticus 26, especially verses 14 and following. There, you will read the promised punishment for disobedience. I read over it, but hearing it read was arduous, painful. Knowing what was in Isaiah 1:1-20, hearing almost the exact same thing in Leviticus 26 was hard. I realized how hard headed Israel is, how much like me. It was largely a downwardly mobile sermon – lots of sin. But, that’s what is there, what Isaiah wrote, what Israel did.
But, verse 18, despite the gloom, perked me, and seemingly, everyone else, up. The hope of red, bloody hands to be changed to white, to the color of wool, was a blessing. The shred of hope helped to emphasize the hope that Israel saw of the Christ, in pieces. It helped to connect us to the hope of Christ in a way that we don’t. In my experience, we dwell on the advent, birth, life and death of Christ, but often forget why he came. The American church, at least my little portion of it, is quite decent, nice and good on the outside. And we never go beyond. It is in my heart I still struggle with the same sins that plagued Israel. I do not go into worship my Savior and God after having committed murder. But I do go in with a heart full of such thoughts, and by Christ’s teaching, that just as bad.
I pray that it was a blessing to the hearers as it was to me.
solo deo gloria,