Lectionary Year B
February 23, 2003

Isaiah 43:18-25
Contemporary Address

Step VI - Contemporary Address

A. Goals

(JFC) We might hope to use this text to confirm some of the Biblical witness to God's most obvious and realistic revelations of divine love, pardon and transformation, not necessarily in that order.

B. Describing the Audience

(JFC) This passage might be best preached as war seems to be inevitable between the USA and Iraq, which seems to be the case as of the preparation of these articles, 2/7/03.

C. Address

(JFC) A sermon, entitled for this working draft, "God in the World - Our World"

God is here and there, even where war is being declared and even where it is to be waged.

I. A New Thing
A. Isaiah senses God's creating (re-creating) a New Thing and asks people to perceive it. Henri Bergson (1859-1941) wrote somewhere, "The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend."
B. God paints for Isaiah a beautiful panorama picturing the New Thing being created (re-created) before their very eyes = like an oasis in peoples' dry lives today. The converted desert land with water/streams/rivers also brings rich vegetation (Isaiah 35:6f and 41:18f)

II. Transformation
A. These alterations to the natural order signify how ultimately transforming God's power can be, even and especially in our lives. God here promises to make all of our tomorrows better than any of our yesterdays.
B. Sinners need to be transformed to find peace, joy and fulfillment. God transforms the great barrier, the desert, "once in Israel's origins, and He would do it again in Israel's restoration," as McKenzie phrases it in The Anchor Bible.

III. Pardon
A. God's attitudes toward sin - "Forgiveness closes the door on the past." = states James Luther Mays in his Proclamation Commentaries, see part B in Step III above.
B. Some commentaries see some insincerity in Israel's sacrificial rituals, while we read in Jeremiah 7:21f that God might not have wanted sacrifices, as today we believe to be the case. Rather, our actions pardoned are sinfulness we confess and God forgives in Christ.

A German proverb says, "charity sees the need while overlooking the cause and focuses on the solution." Possibly that's what Isaiah is hearing God tell the people and us, too. There are problems, mistakes, sinfulness in the past. Overlook/forget them. Rather focus on the beauties of a new day dawning/springing up and obey and praise God.

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