Sermon — Isaiah 49:22-26 — 03/11/12



22 Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations,

And set up My standard for the peoples; They shall bring your sons in their arms,

And your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders;

23 Kings shall be your foster fathers, And their queens your nursing mothers;

They shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth, And lick up the dust of your feet.

Then you will know that I am the Lord, For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.”

24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, Or the captives of the righteous be delivered?

25 But thus says the Lord:

“Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, And the prey of the terrible be delivered;

For I will contend with him who contends with you, And I will save your children.

26 I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh,

And they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine.

All flesh shall know That I, the Lord, am your Savior,

And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Theme: The Lord is our Savior and our Redeemer!

1) He graciously welcomes all into His family of faith!

2) He mercifully saves His people from their enemies!

Dear friends in Christ,

So who do you let hold your children?

Collette and I had quite the experience with Alyssa in the summer of 1993.  It was our first “family vacation” – we went up from Hecla, SD to Winnepeg in Canada.  One of the places we saw was their huge open-air market, with all the incredible assortment of things they had for sale, from vegetables to clothing to many other things. People were there from many different countries, too.  Our daughter Alyssa was walking, and on that particular day, with the weather being sunny and beautiful, she was doing some walking, with her mother and I never far away.  Then it was we met up with this group of people from India.  One of the men spotted Alyssa as she was trying to walk.  And before we could really react he had picked her up, talking to her, smiling at her before putting her down again.

It all happened very suddenly – we didn’t know what to do – very unusual – we didn’t know him at all – a stranger – not an enemy, but no one we knew – yet here he was acting like some familiar uncle!

Who do you let hold your children?

You can see why this episode from our life comes to mind with this text!

The pictures that are used are very intimate ones – the love and care from a parent to a young child – “bring your sons in their arms” – “daughters carried on (better: against, near) their shoulders”

This is how a parent would carry their infant in arms, or a youngster against chest, head on shoulder

But WHO is it that would be doing the carrying?  This is the Lord talking to His people, the Israelites, through Isaiah.  But it wasn’t the Israelites carrying their own children – it would be “THEY” – the nations – foreign peoples!

Yes – those Gentiles!  Those peoples who were 9 times out of 10 (or more!) the enemies of the Jews!

So what is this?  THEY would be carrying Israelite children?  Foreign kings and queens would be foster fathers and nursing mothers amongst the Israelites?

They would all be like one big, extended, and yes, close, intimate FAMILY?

To understand what this out of the ordinary picture is all about, we have to go back to the opening verse of this text, where God speaks of how He will “lift up His hand in an oath to the nations, and set up His standard for the peoples…”

This is none other than a word picture of the work of the Gospel, and those who will come to believe it, and become a part of God’s family!

It was through those Old Testament children of Israel that God made Himself known to the peoples around them.  And believe me, everyone DID know about them, and their God!  The way that the Lord cared for His people was known all over the Middle East!  It was centuries afterwards that the area Gentiles were still speaking about their deliverance from Egypt.

Yes, this word picture was strange to the ears of those Israelites – but it remains true.  Through their witness the Lord did bring many Gentiles in – making them as much a part of His family as those Israelites who were believers themselves.

We ourselves are Gentiles – people who are not descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  By God’s grace the Gospel message has gone out to the world, bringing us into His family, not because we are part of a physical blood line, but making us part of Jesus’ spiritual blood line – “We are all the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

The Old Testament children of Israel were to learn to welcome Gentiles in as fellow believers, and to be amazed at the expansive love of the Lord toward them also.

The same is the case for us today.  Our efforts at evangelism need to be without judgment based on a person’s skin color or appearance.  And as we do share the Gospel, it is then ours to be amazed at the way in which God brings others into His family through our use of His Word!

It is no wonder that it would take the Israelites a while to wrap their minds around the idea that Gentiles would be like family – because there were so many of the Gentiles who were nothing but barbaric enemies against them.  First there had been the Egyptians with their years of slavery, then the Assyrians with their heinous acts against those they defeated, then the Babylonians with their 70 years of captivity of the Israelites.

Yes – there would be those from among the heathen nations who would become believers, but there would be others who would remain enemies of God’s people – and as enemies of God’s people, they were enemies of God Himself.

So even when it seemed like their situation was hopeless – even then the Lord would stand up for His people and deliver them.

“Shall the prey be taken from the mighty?”  YES, the Lord says – v. 25 – “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away.”  “Shall those righteous who are captives be delivered?”  YES, the Lord says – v. 25 – “The prey of the terrible will be delivered.”

“I will contend with him who contends with you, and I will save your children.”

Humanly speaking, yes, there were times when it appeared that the Lord had “forgotten” His people – but He never has.  “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness.”  He will always carry out the salvation of those who are His – in His own time and way.

>> He did send Moses to lead them our of Egypt

>> He did raise up the Persian king Cyrus to release His people from their Babylonian captivity

Whatever enemies there are of God’s church today, you and I can still be assured that the Lord’s promise remains – “I will contend with him who contends with you – I will save your children.”

The Lord is very much aware of the challenge we face in our world – taking a stand on His Word against the evils of abortion, and the newly-coined term “post-birth abortion.”  He knows that we are living among those of the world for whom breaking the sixth commandment is a normal life-style.  The Lord knows that living as Christians today is challenging what with all the attractions and temptations that exist around us, that the devil would use to pull us away from the Lord.

“I will not leave you nor forsake you,” the Lord says.

When it comes to battle between the powers of the devil, the world, and of our flesh, over against the powers of the Lord and His Christ, the battle has already been won – Jesus Christ is the King!

He is our Savior!  He saves us from the destruction that our sins deserve in hell!

He is our Redeemer!  He has paid the price – “not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood and His innocent sufferings and death.”

Our way through this world is secure – for the “Lord is my Shepherd – we have everything we need.”

Our place in heaven is guaranteed – Jesus says, “I will come and take to you Myself, that where I am there you may be also.”

So we take the words of the Lord through Isaiah to heart –

That He desires us to share His Word with everyone else, for there are many from outside His current family that He wants to make part of His family by faith, becoming our brothers and sisters.  It is ours to act on His command and with His strength to “preach the Gospel to every creature” and then respond with praise to Him for the wonderful work of conversion that He does through His Word!

It is also God’s promise that He will guard and keep us – that He will save us from those who are against us – for in being against us who are His children, they are against Him, our Father.  He will never let the plans of the wicked prosper in the end – but will save us – saving us from our sins through His Son, and saving us from destruction at the hands of any enemies by delivering us through His mighty power.  Amen.