Remembering as a Reason to Have Hope for the Future

Prophet Isaiah

Text for the Sermon from Isaiah 46   (23 October 1994)

 One thing very noticeable about the Prophet Isaiah is that he repeats his message over and over.   Scholars today always feel that a repeated message in the bible reflects how important the message is.  The more often it is repeated, the more significant the message.   Obviously, the Prophet Isaiah considered his message very important, because he gives us plenty of opportunities to hear it.  

  Today, we are looking at Isaiah 46.   I hope the message repeated by Isaiah through these chapters will not become boring to you, but rather they will become important to you.

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”

 In the first paragraph, God continues to contrast Himself, His religion and His people with the pagan gods, religions and peoples.    Most noticeable is that the pagans carry their idols, while God carries Israel.   It is God who has carried His people through history, from the beginning of the world, through the worst and darkest times, right into the present.   And God’s unfailing promise is that He will continue to bear, carry and save us!

“Remember this and consider, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My purpose shall stand, and I will fulfill my intention,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man for my purpose from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have planned, and I will do it.”

 Then we come in the second paragraph to one of the biggest words of the entire Old Testament.  The word is “remember.”   God constantly tells us to remember in the bible.   He especially wants us to remember all that He has done in the past, so that we remain faithful to Him in the  present.   God commands us to  “remember this!”           

 What are we to remember?

We are to remember how and when and in what ways God carried and saved us His people in the past.   We need to remember bible stories to do this.   We are to remember all the events of the bible.   By remembering the past, we understand the present & future.   By remembering the past we understand that there is a continuity in God’s action between the past and how God works today.  The same God who carried and saved Israel in the most difficult times, is the same God of the Christians, and He still guides the world and He will save us.  

 When and how do we remember the past saving deeds of God?

Right here in the liturgy and if the feasts and fasts of the church!

Remembering, which is exactly what liturgical services and feast days are, is  a key to knowing God.    God acts in history in order to be known and understood.  Don’t forget that!

 Even if you cannot understand God’s current actions or plan, you know him based on past experience (remember) so trust Him!

“Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from deliverance: I bring near my deliverance, it is not far off, and my salvation will not tarry; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.”

 The final paragraph repeats a common theme of St. Isaiah.   The theme is meant to give hope to us today as it did to Israel 2600 years ago while they sat in captivity in Babylon.   God continues to work out His plan, His divine purpose in history.   Always remember how He has worked in the past, and do not give up hope.    The present is not more hopeless then the past.   Your actions and your activities as the faithful people of God do count.  It is worth remaining faithful to the knowledge of God and to the joyous and hopeful vision which God has given to us. 

 Let us now in this service give thanks to the Lord as we remember the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven and the Lord’s sitting at the Father’s right hand, until he comes again.