Jesus: King, Commander, and Redeemer

Consider, “Who is your God?” This differs from the abstract “Who is God?” Well, doesn’t the capacity to comprehend God transcend our meager knowledge? So how can we answer this question?

To understand God is to realize He exceeds the limits of our ability, of our learning and reciting of facts. Ponder trying to portray a sunrise without once basking in its warmth or sensing its wonder. Oh, you can imagine this, but your description will be hollow. So with God. Our mental constructs or cerebral acrobatics fall short and only fail us.

To fathom our God requires an escape from our intellectual prison. The reality of God, to be for us, must become an intimate bond. To be real, God needs to be in our every heartbeat, with His love resonating in our bones. How does this happen?

In today’s Old Testament reading, a voice decries Israel. Isaiah is the mouthpiece as God speaks to them. Forsake your false idols and throw out your misleading and deceptive dreams.

The call booms and rebounds. Return to a genuine appreciation of God, who transcends your mind and touches the deepest caverns of your soul. More than a thought, He lights up our lives and transforms our eternity.

This message sounding from the past reaches out to us today. Let go of the graven images and wayward illusions darkening our hearts. Away from our falsehoods, as God guides us toward the truth of His being. The voice resonates in His Word, not as an impersonal cosmic force, but as something personal, drawing us closer to His heart.

In our ears, His words echo, “I Am the One to Understand.” This phrase is no paltry command, but bids us to delve into the depths of how different He is from the feeble gods we fashion. More than this, He invites me and you to marvel at this distinction and welcome Him as our Savior. This can only be through His Son, Jesus Christ. In Him alone, we experience God’s abiding love, absolving arm, and grace.

In sacred Writ, the covenant name resounds. “Yahweh,” the text proclaims. This mysterious utterance may stir our memories. Flames dance atop a bush, unscorched. Moses stares agape and beholds the Lord who designates Himself, “I AM.”

A phrase so simple, brimming and teeming with honesty and authenticity. “Yahweh” is a significant term for God, used much in the Old Testament. The name derives from the Hebrew verb “to be,” translating as “I am” or “existing one.” This describes His timelessness and self-existence.

God’s proclamation of I-AM isn’t a cage to confine Him. No, a key unlocking the door to understand His infinite nature better. Constant and continuing, He is the essence of being. Of course, He’s the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the specifics of place or season never limit Him. This exalted title echoes from the heavens and bespeaks of limitless reach and boundless love, traversing both time and space.

Contemplate God inviting His people to use His name. Mull over what this means. The Almighty, beyond human grasp, draws nigh. Despite being incomprehensible, He doesn’t ask us to understand Him as an abstraction. No, as Isaiah foretold, He is a living person in His heaven-sent, flesh-born Son. With God, a Father waits, a friend beckons, and the Redeemer spreads open His arms for us.

In our text, the Eternal One, “the Lord,” starts by unveiling His identity. Three titles He bears. The first is “King.” History shows us many leaders who stumbled. Take Ahaz, who once guided Judah. Far from paths of righteousness, He led his people toward idolatry. Manasseh’s reign plunged his country into evil, into deeper depths than those nations God destroyed before them. Such ungodliness stained their leadership and stand as stark reminders.

Our rulers, likewise, blunder. Unlike mortal kings, I-AM’s rule never wavers. Yahweh stays the course, a constant for us no matter the changing tides of our elected officials. Amid the flux of our faltering leaders, our faithful King always summons His children back home.

Redeemer is the second. Isaiah, peering through time’s veil, glimpsed the sad fate of Judah. A cruel exile awaited them in Babylon’s harsh hands. In the heart of a foreign land, their homes will fade into a forlorn memory.

Our sins, too, earn us nothing less, painting a grim outlook. So a never-ending storm of unstoppable fury should be our end. Except, hope still flickers, for I-AM pledges to be our shield and deliverer. In Old-Covenant language, it sounds this way. “My people, if they humble themselves, pray, seek me, and turn from their wicked ways, I will listen from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Commander is the third title Isaiah mentions. Freedom from Babylon’s clutches or hell’s grip calls for more than our uncertain might. This demands the invincible force of I-AM, the Leader of heaven’s hosts. With a strength unfailing, He promises and carries out our rescue and redemption.

Nothing came before Him, for He is the Creator. No power precedes Him, none can supersede Him. Did He not craft Israel’s destiny, setting their course to bring forth the Messiah? So, no speck of their future escaped His sovereign gaze. Each twist and turn of their journey bore His imprint because they’ll serve as the seed for the physical form of the promised Savior.

Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, embodies I-AM (Revelation 22:13). Both as beginning and end, His being goes beyond time. Timeless and unyielding, His reign surpasses our fleeting boundaries. So, from Him, our eternal hopes spring forth.

“Can another compare? Let him say so.” God issued a challenge for others to match His prowess. Why? In bygone days, Israel bowed to both the Lord and false divinities as Baal. Such blessings they sought from the gods of Canaan. This expanded to include the deities of defeated foes such as Syria (2 Kings 16:7-16). These pretenders became their hopeful sources for rain, fertility, and abundant harvests. So, the one true God, I-AM, blazed as a beacon of truth in their sea of falsehoods.

Should we not examine our hearts? Do they not harbor idols? Oh, not the stone or wood of Israel’s past, but ambitions and sinful desires. These distractions steal away from the sole deity deserving of our due devotion.

This combat arena is no faraway shore but in our own lives and bodies. Inside you and me, God wages war against our fraudulent gods. Why? First, to save us. Second, to claim His rightful place to receive our worship and adoration.

In the expanse of His grandeur, God towers over us. Unreachable, uncontainable, He eclipses our frail grasp in a task too immense. Small, we stand, humbled by His might, dwarfed by His splendor. In our flawed state, every effort to take hold of Him will prove vain. This should evoke profound and holy trepidation inside us.

Such fear is the start of wisdom, but not its end, since our Maker yearns for us to become His sacred dwelling. This reality isn’t born from our efforts because we can’t ascend to Him. No, He descends to you and me in His love and light, cloaking us in His perfection. In this union, we find our proper place and purpose.

In Christ, I-AM takes our form and joins our frailty. Not a distant deity, He steps into our world and dwells among us. The embodiment of heavenly love allows those who can never otherwise threaten Him to kill Him.

By dying a death our Lord didn’t need to face, he embraces us, for us. This surrender, this sacrifice, binds Him to us. Now and always, we may live in Him, and He in us.

The cross of Christ serves as a mirror. Gazing upon it, we discern a God who strides in our darkest corners. This God vanquishes evil and shoulders our burdens. Divine splendor, the wisdom of ages, and the purity of God meet our human weakness, shame, and injustice. Not to kill us, as we may think, but Himself.

In Him, we find an ally, whose name resonates with the promise of “I AM.” The killing wood shows us our God. Not remote or aloof, but close and engaged. More than a “higher power,” He shares our struggles and battles our fiercest demons. Such is His love: deep, enduring, and infinite.

Our entire existence as God’s children is one of receiving. The Father’s favor shines on us, redeeming and filling us with faith. From these blessings, we believe and live. From His abundant treasury of gifts, we draw in spiritual nourishment for eternity. In the fullness of the incarnate Christ, we receive grace on top of mercy.

On the cross, our faults and failings meet the Almighty’s saving strength. I-AM absorbs our shame, transforming us into His radiance. Our hope lies not in our relentless efforts or reaching higher, but in Jesus, who met God’s righteous standards for us.

The payment for our transgressions is His blood. Nothing surpasses the holiness of being cloaked in Christ’s righteousness. Never forget, no one can be more obedient to God’s Law than when living in the incarnate I-AM.

Our faith springs from Yahweh’s promises, not our feelings. Remember, “If we are faithless, Jesus remains faithful, because he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). Fear not! In life’s darkest valleys, cast not your gaze inward but outward on Your Lord’s unwavering fidelity. Steadfast in every season, His faithfulness stands tall, though you may falter. Cling to Him, for He holds fast to you, yesterday, today, and forever.

In this dying world of ours, Christ comes, bringing forgiveness, life, and salvation. Your past sins, each forgotten and forgiven. Your future? Secure in His hands. So now, in your every moment, you may live for God. Amen.

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