7. God does what he promises
This sermon is translated from German into English. You can find the original video here
Maybe you were like us during the Corona period. You have finally come to really clean up at home. There is also a lot of waste, which is too good to throw away, but where you probably won’t get any more money. You should actually have a flea market and offer all of these things. But since that is a bit difficult at the moment, I have tried, among other things, to give away some things via an online advertising portal.
However, this is not so easy, because as soon as something is free, you somehow get a lot of strange requests.
At least that’s my experience. And you have a bunch of people who promise to come by at a certain time. You take extra time off, just so that nobody comes after all. One person took it to the extreme and put me off three times, only to never show up until it was enough for me.
Giving a word and standing by it is no longer a matter of course these days. Even some advertising turns out to be an empty promise in retrospect. And even some marriages where you promise to be loyal for life will be divorced very quickly.
God is different.
God keeps what he promises, that’s the sermon theme today.
Some will say, of course, it is also God.
Others distrust him, which is certainly also because we transfer our human experience to him.
And for some, maybe also for you, this is a very existential question, especially in your situation.
Does God keep his promises?
Is it really like that?
And what gives me the confidence to hold on to it even when I am not experiencing it?
In the past few weeks we have dealt intensively with the prophet Isaiah in our services.
This book, which takes us so historically exactly into the time of the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Medes and Persians.
We have discovered pages of God that may have been new to one or the other.
His greatness, his holiness, his anger, but also his love, his mercy, his struggle for people.
We looked at what God accused His people of the prophet Isaiah and that we are in exactly the same danger today.
On the one hand, to try to graciously make God available through our actions, through sacrifices that we make, and to make available that he acts in the way we want to, instead of living, listening to him and having a real friendship with him to do what he says.
And secondly, that we prefer to rely on our own wisdom instead of trusting him, and that is why God sometimes deliberately acts differently than we think and it would be wise in our eyes.
We have seen how human rulers rule, and how God rules so differently in comparison, in love and mercy and patience.
And all this makes it clear, even with such good kings as Hezekiah, who was close to God and yet fell in some situations and acted independently of God, how much we humans need a savior who frees us from our guilt and with God reconciled, and who saves us from our troubled situation in this world, who rules justly, wisely and peacefully, and who can see everything in its complexity.
All of this calls for God himself and so the book of Isaiah promises this coming Savior and a new heaven and a new earth under the rule of God.
Many exciting topics, there is certainly a lot more to discover and some things that are still difficult for us to understand.
But there is something we haven’t even talked about yet.
I don’t know if you noticed that, but it’s very closely related to today’s topic.
So a little theory at the beginning, but you will notice that it will quickly become very practical for our lives:
The book of Isaiah begins with a very specific statement of the time in which Isaiah lived and worked:
This is the revelation that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw over Judah and Jerusalem at the time of Usia, Jotam, Ahaz and Hezekiah, the kings of Judah.
Isaiah dates his call to the prophet to the year of the death of King Usiya, that was 740 BC.
Hezekiah was king of Judah until 696 BC.
Then another chapter is mentioned in chapters 44 and 45: King Cyrus, whom God uses to enable the Israelites, who have meanwhile been exiled, to return to their country and rebuild Jerusalem.
This is exactly what happened when the Persians in 539 BC take power and King Cyrus II issues an edict that allows all peoples to return to their homeland.
This edict, also called Kyros cylinder, was discovered in Babylon in 1879 and can now be seen in the British Museum in London.
So all historical facts.
But now do the math.
740 BC to 539 BC, how many years is this?
Exactly, over 200 years.
And of course this leads to the question:
How can it be that a book describes a period of 200 years so precisely?
The simplest answer that some theologians have is:
Isaiah is not one book, but three.
If you deal with Isaiah, you quickly stumble across the terms Deutero-Isaiah, i.e. the 2nd Isaiah and Trito-Isaiah, i.e. the 3rd Isaiah, meaning chapters 40-55 and 56-66.
If you read Isaiah, you will notice that these 3 parts are indeed different.
The first part is about the time of the Assyrians.
Then in chapter 40 it continues with “Comfort my people”.
Why is that?
It is said that this is a consolation book for those who have been exiled.
And then the last 10 chapters are very different again, it’s about the future glory of Jerusalem and theologians say, that was the time of the return and construction of Jerusalem.
I am not an expert on these issues. Eddy Lanz, who has been here the last two Sundays, has written an entire book on the subject.
Because there are good reasons why it is too short to simply start with three books.
There are topics that run throughout the book.
The language and terms used are uniform.
The following chapters 40 in particular are a link to the previous chapters and a comparison of the rule of God with human rule.
The Jews, and they were much closer to the action, never speak of 3 different Isaiahs, but of a single book.
It wouldn’t have been a problem because there are many different prophetic books to do it differently.
The main sticking point why people say that they have to be three different books and not one is because people don’t believe that prophecy is possible.
It cannot be that someone can write about a king 200 years in advance, then name him and tell him what he will do.
If I think purely human, that’s true. But that’s not a problem for God.
And the consequence of the three-way division is not conclusive in itself, because we have looked at it over the past few weeks that Isaiah has also announced to King Ahaz and King Hezekiah during the time in which he lived that something to theirs Lifetime will come. And that’s exactly what happened. So already there is prophecy, God’s prediction in shorter periods of time.
And, what is even more serious, the book of Isaiah not only makes statements 200 years into the future, but much more, namely over 700 years, and these were not inserted later, as the finding of the roles in Qumran shows.
The people who walk in the dark see a great light, and it shines brightly over those who live there in the dark country. For a child is born to us, a son is given to us, and the government rests on his shoulder; and he is called Miracle Advice, God Hero, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace; so that his reign would grow great and there would be no end to peace on the throne of David and in his kingdom, that he would strengthen and support it through law and justice from now on forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do the same.
Eddy Lanz showed it in his sermon two weeks ago.
These and many other prophecies in the book of Isaiah have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. 700 years later.
Werner Gitt speaks in a video that is really worth watching.
Enter a square ant on Youtube that there are 3268 prophecies in the Old Testament that have so far been fulfilled.
I didn’t count them, but even if there weren’t that many.
An incredible number, and many of them relate to the birth, life, and death of Jesus for our guilt.
In 2 Cor. 1:20 states: For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen
That is, that the promises have been received that relate to Jesus and that it is that God will also keep the promises that he has given that have not yet been received.
1. Jesus is God’s sign that he keeps what he promises.
In Ps 33: 4 we read: For the word of the Lord is truthful, and what he promises, he certainly keeps.
It is God’s nature that he is faithful and that he stands by what he says.
Now why is that so important?
Firstly, because there are prophecies in the book of Isaiah and in other books of the Bible that have not yet been fulfilled.
If you looked closely at the passage you read about Jesus, you noticed that not everything had been fulfilled.
Some things refer to the fact that Jesus will come back someday.
And Eddy Lanz preached about the end of this earth last week and a new heaven and a new earth.
It is difficult for us to tell them apart. What will happen when. It’s like on a mountain hike.
I stand on a hill, I see the goal in front of me.
A mountain peak behind another mountain. It looks like he is right behind it. But when I start hiking, I see that I still have to go through a deep valley and therefore take a lot more time.
It’s the same with biblical promises. Sometimes they are close together and only God has a view from above. But we’ve been waiting for it for over 2000 years. Is that all nonsense?
Above all, you need to know that in the days before the end mockers will appear who are not sacred and who only follow their own desires. “Where’s the fulfillment of his promise?” They taunt. ‘He promised he’d be back! Our fathers have since died, but nothing has changed. Everything is still as it was since the world was created. «
It is not the case that the Lord is delaying the fulfillment of His promise, as some think. What they think is a delay is really an expression of his patience with you. Because he doesn’t want anyone to get lost; rather, he wants everyone to turn to him. So, because you are waiting for these things, dear friends, do everything you can to show yourself to the Lord as blameless and without blemish, as people who have peace with him. Let your life be determined more and more by grace and get to know Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, better and better. Honor is due to him – now, at this time, and then on the great day of eternity.
2 Pt. 3.3-22.214.171.124
There was a village in the United States called Flagstaff. It is under water today because a dam was built and this village was flooded in a similar way to the Edersee with some villages.
When the villagers learned that their place had no future, they stopped taking care of anything.
There were no more renovations. If something broke, it was not repaired. Over time, the village looked pretty neglected.
A former resident of this village summarized this neglect with the words: “Where there is no belief in the future, there is no strength for the present.”
I asked earlier why it is so important that God does what he promises.
And the answer to that is, if so, then we can count on Jesus to come back and that has an impact on the way we live.
2. Because God keeps his promises, we expect him to come again and live accordingly
If I don’t expect anything, then I feel like the residents of the village of Flagstaff. Then I just live without a big goal, without a big perspective. Then I get the best out of life for myself. Nobody cares how I live anyway. And I have no justification for that. I don’t care what God thinks about what’s important to him.
How is it with us?
May I ask: Do we expect Jesus to come again? Or has some of us lost this expectation.
It can happen.
After all, people have been waiting for over 2000 years and the expectation that he will return is not particularly present in everyday life.
But maybe Jesus wants to wake you up again this morning or for the very first time.
He’ll be back
And because we know we are his children, we belong to him, we can look forward to this day.
We can live with him. Even if not everything is as we would like it to be,
But then he does everything new. Then everything will get better. This is not a cheap consolation, but it gives us hope and strength.
Wherever you are. Jesus will come again.
And if you say that I am not one of him yet, then he invites you to accept the gift of forgiveness of your guilt and to start a friendship with him.
The knowledge of Jesus’ return and his presence in our everyday life gives a new direction and shapes our everyday life.
Peter writes: Since we belong to Jesus, we should live accordingly.
The reasoning is not: live like this, then you are.
Rather: Because you are children of light, live accordingly.
Live as God pleases, which, incidentally, is good for us.
Let God put on your heart what is important to him.
Let him guide you in your everyday life.
And passes on hope – practically and in words.
Hope and strength that the people around us urgently need.
That God keeps what he promises also affects another level of promises. Namely, besides these I call them big promises also the many other promises of God for our everyday life.
3. Because God keeps what he promises, we can also rely on His promises personally
God gives us so many good promises in His Word.
See I’m with you every day to the end of the world. Mt 28:20
How good to know that and keep in mind and hold on to it even in difficult times.
With some of God’s promises we have to take into account that they are conditional:
“If you look for me, you will find me” Jeremiah 29:13
God promises we’ll find him. The condition is that we are looking for him. If we don’t look for him, we don’t have to be disappointed if we don’t find him.
If we don’t want to do what he tells us, we don’t have to be disappointed if he doesn’t tell us anything and doesn’t help. And then there are commitments, where we first have to consider whether they apply to us. Of course it is the case that God can make every verse of his word a very personal one for us and thereby speak to us. But in general, we have to ask ourselves whether we can simply transfer promises in the Bible to ourselves.
For example, in Isaiah 43: 1 we read:
But now the LORD who brought you into being, people of Israel, you descendant of Jacob, says: “Do not be afraid, I have delivered you! I called you by your name, you belong to me!
If you have to go through the water, I am with you; you won’t drown even in torrents. If you have to go through the fire, you will remain intact; no flame will harm you.
It is clear here that this promise is addressed to Israel. At the same time, however, we read in the New Testament that God is with us no matter what happens. That he protects us and that we belong to him as his children. So I can transfer such a verse to myself.
In an American city, a teacher was employed to help students who were ill for a long time not to miss the connection. One day she got the name of a student who was hospitalized for burns.
She learned from the class teacher that she should do grammar homework with the boy. When this student entered the student’s hospital room in the afternoon, she received a shock:
No one had warned her how bad the burns were. The student’s condition was at risk of death and it was clear that he was in pain. The teacher was very confused, but she said why she came: “I was sent from your school to do a grammar task with you.” She got the job done as quickly as possible and left the room feeling uneasy.
The next day she came back and was approached by a nurse who asked, “What did you do to the boy?” The teacher heard an accusation on this question and began to justify herself.
The nurse interrupted her and said: “We were worried about the boy because he had no will to live.
But since yesterday he has been transformed: he is fighting for his life, the treatment now has a healing effect. It looks like he chose to live.
Two weeks later, the boy explained what had happened. He had thought he would die until the teacher came. “I thought if I had really died, nobody would send a teacher to me to talk about grammar.”
Sometimes it is as if someone wants to rob us of hope like in the town of Flagstaff. And maybe that’s your personal situation. We want to say your feelings that you cannot trust God.
The fact that God sent his son and thus entered our world is a message comparable to the message that the teacher conveyed through her mere presence in the sickroom of a dying student.
This message is: No matter what situation you are in: you are not destined to perish, you are intended to live. God loves you so much that he sent his only son.
All of God’s promises are yes in Jesus. Even if you just can’t see it right now. It delivers what ihe promises. Get it spoken to you this morning and stick to it.
We will celebrate this morning the sacrament together, which is meant as a promise, as a reminder not only to hear it, but to see it, to taste it. God does what he promises, even if you may need patience to experience it.
We have a living God.
And this god is talking.
He talks into our situation.
And because his promises give strength and hope, I invite you now to let God speak to you.
I will read out various promises from God.
And during the next song you can just let them resonate and talk to God about what moves you.
Maybe to create new hope again and to say, I want to hold onto it.
Maybe entrusting your life to him for the first time.
Maybe it is time to do something so that God can do his part.
And then we want to celebrate the sacrament together.
Just close your eyes and let the following verses work on you:
In any case, we have recognized and hold firm in the belief that God loves us. God is love. He who lives in love lives in God and God lives in him.
1 John 4:16
If you call me, you go and pray to me, then I will listen to you.
And if you search for me, you will find me, yes, if you ask with all your heart about me, I will let you find me, says the Lord.
When we confess our sins, he is faithful and just that he forgives us our sins and cleanses us from all injustice.
1 John 1: 9
I am the vine, you are the vines. Whoever stays in me and I in him brings much fruit.
Above all, worry about God’s new world and live according to God’s will!
Then he will provide you with everything else.
So now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
But he gave everyone who accepted him and believed him the right to become children of God.
And whether I have already wandered in the dark valley, I fear no misfortune; for you are with me, your stick and staff comfort me.
I am quite certain that God will also complete the good work He has started with you until the day that Jesus Christ comes.
I praise you for being made in an amazing, excellent way. Your works are wonderful and my soul recognizes them very well.
I tell you again: be brave and determined! Don’t be afraid and don’t let anything scare you; for I, the LORD your God, am with you wherever you go!
What is left to say about all this? God himself is for us, who can be against us? He didn’t spare his own son, but put him to death for all of us. But if he gave us the son, will he keep anything from us?
Therefore do not throw away your trust, which has a great reward. But you need patience so that you do the will of God and receive the promised.
I hope you have bread and juice or something similar in front of you at home because we want to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. We will distribute this here as well. And even if we would much rather do it together and without all the gaps, I believe that this is a very strong sign in this current situation that God wants to touch us with.
Jesus used the sacrament as a sign, so it’s not that bad if we don’t have bread and juice but something else, but we should remember that he died for us on the cross, and that if we accepted that for ourselves, we are part of his family and he is with us, now and that he stands by his promises, too if we just don’t feel it or don’t believe it. But we can celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a sign of his love and loyalty to us.
If you say that I have not yet invited Jesus into my life, you can use this sacrament to do just that.
Or you use this time to simply tell him: God help me to understand all of this with you. If you really exist and you want a relationship with me, then I want to get to know you. Show me yourself.
I read the words for the sacrament from the first letter to the Corinthians.
The night Jesus was betrayed, he was eating with his disciples.
And at the end of this meal he took bread, broke it, thanked God for it, and said:
This bread is a sign for my body that is broken for you.
Do that to my memory.
And in the same way, Jesus also took the chalice after the meal, thanked God for it and said:
This chalice is a sign of the new covenant that I make with you that everyone who is familiar with is a child of God. This new covenant is sealed with my own blood.
And when you drink from the goblet in the future, remember what I did for you.
Because as often as you eat the bread and drink from the goblet, you announce my death until I come back.
I want to pray:
Jesus, we thank you that you give us these signs of the Lord’s Supper and that we can remember at this time that you died on the cross for our guilt and shame.
That we can come to you with it. That you forgive us and that you are our good shepherd when we entrust our lives to you. Thank you for loving us and for being with us and reassuring us today.
Jesus’ body broken for you.
Jesus loves you so much that he spilled his own blood for you.