SERMON LENT 5 2018
Text Isaiah 43:1-3. But now, this is what the Lord says—he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Men, do you accompany your spouse, sisters, nieces when they go shoe shopping? Probably not. But the Lord does. Ladies do you accompany your spouse, nephews or brothers when they go tool shopping? Probably not. But the Lord does. Children, do Mom and Dad sit in the classroom and study with you? No. But the Lord does. --- The point we are making is that God is with you at all times and all places.
Our text speaks of God being present everywhere. And rightly so for God is omnipresence. That is one of his basic characteristics or qualities. Our text also states that God is present among the nations and with each individual; it says, “the Lord says to Israel”. The word Israel refers to the entire nation of Israel; but Israel is made up of individuals. So, in our text God speaks to both the nation and the individual. The same is true of the word CHURCH. The Lord is present with his Holy Christian Church; but each of you believers compose this church. So, he is with you both as a church, and as an individual. What does this mean that God is present with us shopping, in school, at work and at home? Let’s study our text and learn about THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GOD’S OMNIPRESENCE. We will learn that God’s presence everywhere serves as both a warning to us and as a comfort.
Our text says, For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. The Lord created mankind, thus he is greater than you. He is God and Lord. He formed mankind in his image. Our text says he is holy, so, he created mankind holy. But man sinned, lost their holiness. Adam and Eve tried to hide from God, tried to cover up their sin. They couldn’t. You and I can’t either. This is the WARNING to us about God’s omnipresence. Jeremiah 23:24 says, “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot find them” declares the Lord? “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.” There is no place a person can hide from God even if you try to change your address. Ps 139:7ff says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” If you move to another country, God is there. So, you and I cannot hide from God. ---Nor can we cover up our sinning. St. Paul mentioned that those who sin often sin under the cover of darkness. But darkness does not help for God knows ahead of time when and where you are going to sin. Jesus knew Judas was going to betray him and Peter would deny him.
Since God makes his dwelling with you and me, he knows whenever we sin in thought, word, or deed. He may permit that our sin does not become known to others, but he knows each and every one of them. He is present when we get angry, hears us swear, and sees when we fail to do what we should. Knowing this we need to daily repent, & seek God’s merciful forgiveness. Therein lies a blessing in this warning, it leads us to true sorrow over our sin.
When we confess our sin. God is present. Being present, he can comfort us with forgiveness through Jesus. God especially reveals his presence with us so that he can do just that. Our text says, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you.” Confessing our sins does not remove them. We need God’s help. God provides it in Jesus; through his death he paid the price to redeem us. So, God now loves you and forgives those very sins he sees you commit. Didn’t he forgive Adam and Eve? Didn’t he give them the promise of the Savior? He fulfilled that promise. Jesus has redeemed all mankind. Likewise then, he has forgiven your every sin.
Having forgiven us, he adopts us as his children. And what does a good father do? He watches over his children. Look at our text, “2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Two things we fear a great deal are drowning and being burnt. God says here in both cases that he is with you; at any and all times, especially when you are in danger, know that God will be with you. That is comforting. It is not only comforting but something we can count on.
But we question how is it that God is with all of us believers all of the time? Let’s say one believer is commuting into Phoenix from the west valley and another from the east valley; they are miles apart; God is with both of them? Yes, absolutely! How is this possible? Because God says so. He says he comes and makes his dwelling with each of you. Jesus says he is with us until the end of time. Our human understanding can’t grasp this. But remember two things, God is Spirit. To be the Spirit is to be like a fog or smoke. It isn’t contained, it penetrates everywhere. Secondly, Jesus has a glorified body which can do things no ordinary human can. He disappeared bodily from the table and presence of the two Emmaus disciples; he appeared in a locked room to the disciples; he ascended to heaven with his human body. God can be and is present everywhere even though we can’t understand it with our limited mental ability.
Now think of the blessings we have from this. 1. Let us say that six believers are praying to God at the exact same moment. God hears each and every one of them. In fact, Scriptures tell us that he knows you are going to pray to him before you do. The HS even helps you in your prayers. See the blessing! 2. We are conducting a baptism here at church; at the very same moment there is a baptism being conducted elsewhere in the Phoenix valley; at the very same moment there is an emergency baptism being done in our mission in Siberia. God is present in and with the water at each baptism. We can be assured concerning the effective power and blessing of the baptism here and at each of those other locations. 3. Here at this railing there are seven of you on one side at the Lord’s table and seven of you on the other side. Each of you receive one after the other the Lord’s body and then his blood in and with the bread and wine. The Lord is present with each of you assuring you are forgiven personally. That gives us peace and joy, doesn’t it. 4. One of us is in his/her last moment on earth. The Lord comes to take us home. At that same moment a sister or brother in Colombia, SA passes and Jesus is there to take that believer home. At the exact same moment a believer in Malawi Africa dies. The Lord is there also to take that soul home. You need not fear death, Jesus will be there with you.
So, whether in danger by water of fire or anything else, whether here worshipping or praying, whether at home or at work or shopping, no matter where you are, God accompanies you. And remember this is the God who has redeemed you. He died for you. He, almighty as he is, is also you loving Lord. He accompanies you just as loving parents accompany & watch their little child. Only he does it better than any parent ever could. Let us keep on remembering this, thanking him for being present with us as we go about our daily life. Amen.