The Gospel According to Isaiah, Isaiah 52:1, 7-10: Y’shua is our Salvation

The attention-grabbing words and phrases soaring from the messenger’s mouth.  “Awake, awake,” are his first words flying out.  “Listen!” follows eight verses later.  What’s going on to demand such immediate attention?  No doubt, something vital.  So rouse to life and pay heed to what is happening!

What’s going on?  The sleep overtaking us needs to vanish so our eyes can glimmer, sharp and bright.  Distracted minds are to find focus, with the fog banished far away.  No more are we to let the unimportant occupy us, pushing God into second place.

Is Isaiah overstating himself?  Let’s consider.  The Word from above comes your way, but you think, “Nothing new here, I listened to this before.”  All right, we wake ourselves for worship, but why hassle with Sunday school?  “Yeah, I learned what I needed years ago.  The same old stuff is what will be dished out.”  Those conclusions come from your sin-infected self, not from the new man given to you by Holy Spirit-given faith.

The prophetic Word extols us to erupt in joyful singing.  To do this, however, requires content and material for your song.  Otherwise, you are but a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).  So, Isaiah passes on to us the essence of our praise.  The Lord reassures His people, who will lay bare His holy and mighty arm.  Now, no one can miss His saving intention and strength.

Does the life God graces you with astound you anymore?  Let Him press your reset button.  In this season of anticipation, be alert and await the news from Bethlehem.  Awaken with amazed eyes and thrill in the coming joy of the Christ-child.

No matter your age or what you think you understand, you never outgrow the Gospel.  Why?  The sinful contagion lurking inside you is why.  The birth, death, and life of Jesus don’t always shape your thoughts and deeds.  Imagine if you took in your body’s nutrition like you do your spiritual nourishment.  Most of us will be half-starved or dead.

Still, how little this concerns us.  Can you not recognize?  Such apathy exposes how much your corrupted nature is setting your agenda, not what your Savior desires to give you.  The burning words from the inspired mouthpiece of old point us to this truth!  Alas, but our eyes stay heavy, and our ears remain blocked.  Yes, you too need to the life-creating Word.  Not in theory, but in reality—now!

Through the Spirit bringing us Jesus in Word and Sacrament, He links us to all the covenant promises of the Father.  In His Messiah, we become a part of the long train of people who celebrated God’s love throughout history.  Think of Adam and Abraham, Deborah and David, Enoch and Elijah, and countless others.

So, Isaiah’s urgency makes some sense, for He doesn’t want us to miss anything God wants to direct our way.  Stir yourself from slumber and be clothed with strength.  Put on your garments of splendor because a festivity is coming!

The Gospel-bringing prophet is saying and doing nothing new.  No, he recounts the story of deliverance.  “After Jacob went to Egypt, your ancestors cried out to the Lord, and he sent them Moses and Aaron.”  From their land of slavery, “they led them out and settled them in this place” (1 Samuel 12:8).  Later, with their Babylonian exile, “When 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and confirm my promise to you by restoring you to your homeland.  For I realize my plans for you, designs for your well-being, not for disaster, to fill you with hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:10-11).

The loving Father always speaks His Word of release, long ago and still today.  These declarations of divine restoration and rescue originate from Him and reach down to us.  Each new generation is to welcome them afresh in faith.  All this is true.

Still, how little changed we are from the hard-hearted people of the past.  “Yeah, I’ll worry about whatever you send me, God, in my convenience and time.  Hey, I’m kind of busy here.  My itching ears want something else.”

Oh, we are well enough with God, if He comes to us on our terms!  Too often, we are like a spiritual drunkard—stumbling, falling, and crawling.  From curb to ditch, we meander from one side to the other.  The race of faith calls for courage and endurance, which creeps down into an aimless crawl.  The creature does not control the Creator.

So, we require more than some intangible letter of deliverance—we need the substance of divinity in human form and flesh.  How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring the marvelous message, who proclaim salvation.  The word in Hebrew for this salvation is “Yeshua,” Jesus.  So, we are reveling in the childbirth of God, who redeems the unredeemable.

To find Jesus unveiled in the Old Testament is an astounding treasure.  The voice of the sentries, of which Isaiah spoke, aren’t the guards on the walls of kings and nobles.  No, they are the shepherds watching their flocks, who “hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger” (Luke 2:16).

The prophet’s pronouncement continues, “Together they lift their voices.”  For they will rejoice when the Lord returns to Zion.  Today, we still sing their songs, recorded in the pages of Scripture.  These include what John the Baptizer’s father sang, the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79), and the merriment of an old man, Simeon, in his Nunc Dimittis.  Of course, how can we not sing Mary’s song, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)?  Let us not forget the glorious music of the angels, which we call the Gloria (Luke 2:14).

To gaze on God descending to deliver us life never-ending inspires lazy tongues to leap with gratitude and gladness.  Gush forth into joyous songs you waste places and ruins of Jerusalem.  For our father will console His people and redeem them.

Now, if a melody can pleasure your heart, what can an eternal undergirding of joy create inside you?  For soon, our coming Christ will be born in the city of David.  Now is the acceptable time.  Again, God is telling us we are free.  Wake up!  For the Son, once more, saves and forgives you.

To whom does the Lord bring tidings of comfort and joy?  Those in ruins!  This song of celebration is for those laid waste by sin.  For redemption and restoration are for the ruined.  Harsh, but true.  The bent and broken need the Lord’s reassurance.  For they admit their need for deliverance, and so they cry aloud in the excitement of liberation.  The proud who think themselves well, don’t bother.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).  So, Jesus tells us.  This saving comfort is a gift—and God loves giving His gifts!

The Lord will reveal His holy arm in the sight of every land—a stark and harrowing image where God Almighty is laying waste to His enemies.  Ah, but not in the way we might think!  In the Messiah’s birth, we find out the true meaning of “holy arm.”  “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us” (John 1:14).  The rock and rubble are extolled to “announce salvation.”  In the Hebrew, Yeshua.  The enfleshed Son of God, Jesus, is the Salvation we are to speak forth.

Behold His sin-defeating hand and arm swaddled stiff while still in the manger, ready to do His redeeming work.  The Lord bares His royal arm before all, pierced by nail for us.  So, this “all” includes us!  Remember, His reach is never too short to rescue, in centuries past and into this day and time.

So, because of Him, we are God’s chosen people.  The Father’s Son became incarnate to restore this fallen creation.  Yes, and more—shedding His blood, dying, and rising from death for you, triumphing over your prison.  So, if He is faithful in those tasks, He will also return to receive you and me.  Such a liberating certainty is never dull.  Can we ever drink in too much of this?

The reality of what we welcome and experience by faith enlivens us.  “Burst together into joy-filled songs, for the Lord comforts his people and redeems Jerusalem,” the Prophet reveals.  The prophecy finds its fulfillment in Jesus’ birth, where the Lord unleashed His death-defeating power before every nation.  All the ends of the earth will witness the victory of our God.  The best of news, which gives us reason—not only to listen again—but to sing out our jubilation.

The Holy Spirit revitalizes us when Jesus comes to us anew.  Changes take place within us.  The Scriptures hint of this when Isaiah explains the result of rekindled belief, one verse after our Old-Testament reading.  “Flee and leave your captivity!”  Avoid what is sinful, reject what is wrong, and walk, instead, with your God.

Much talk of “love and goodwill” flutters about the closer Christmas comes.  Such affection is experienced by others when lived out, not when limited to the abstract or theoretical.  So, God invites us to do more than speak, but also to live the life stemming from our union in Christ.  This begins with those closest to us, our nearest neighbor.  Now, if you are married, this is your husband or wife, whom you are to love, cherish, and nurture.  From those nearest, we move farther out.

The love of Christ enables us to respond to other people with God’s grace, which is at work in our lives.  Despite nasty attitudes, disrespect, and misunderstandings within your family, you realize Jesus loved and died to save them, as well.  This assurance helps us handle those we cannot understand, people with different mindsets, and those who strut like they own the world, though they may be empty inside.

The heavenly Father proclaimed the message of His salvation through ages past.  Today, we take in those truths again with fresh ears.  The God of eternal life beckons us to journey to Bethlehem in our minds, to experience the miracle of the incarnation.

So, we stare in awe and with a wondrous rapture.  How happy we are for Isaiah’s words, which prepare us to delight in our Savior, Christ Jesus.  Amen.


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