Sermon for Lenten Midweek 4 – 3.30.22

+ 4th Lenten Midweek Service – March 30th, 2022 +

Isaiah 48:17-22

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Get Out”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

In the classic Steve McQueen movie, The Great Escape, one of the soldiers held captive in a Nazi POW camp has this memorable line.

 

“It is the sworn duty of all officers to try to escape. If they cannot escape, then it is their sworn duty to cause the enemy to use an inordinate number of troops to guard them, and their sworn duty to harass the enemy to the best of their ability.”

 

Rescue. Escape. Freedom. These are things we long for when entrapped. Imprisoned. Or in danger.

 

In August 587 BC, Israel’s world caved in. The temple collapsed, the monarchy lay in ruins, the land became a wasteland, and all hope was dismantled and destroyed. Then a massive aftershock brought further wreckage and ruin. Seven hundred miles from home, Israel’s exiles became trapped in the prison of Babylon. The prophet Isaiah’s summons is singular, “Get out!”

 

Easier said than done. With every passing year, the Babylonian god Marduk seemed more and more powerful, while Israel’s God seemed more and more incidental. Slowly but surely, the exiles began to accommodate themselves to their new surroundings. Economic documents unearthed in Tel el Murassu on the Tigris River show that blending in with Babylon brought stunning financial success. Living comfortably in a place of destruction and death became the new way of life.

 

For many in Israel their lives in Babylon became a boiling frog syndrome. The exiles were calling their Babylonian prison the new normal. So Isaiah warns them. You’re in hot water. If you don’t get out soon, you’re gonna die!

 

God sends Isaiah to awaken Israel out of this spiritual slumber and get them out of Babylon. So he announces that Yahweh “will lay bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations” (Isaiah 52:10). His “glory will be revealed and all flesh will see it together” (40:5). Rest assured, says Isaiah, that “those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength” (40:31), for “a bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out” (42:3). And in 51:17, and then again in 52:1 he cries out, “Wake, awake!”

 

The climax of Isaiah’s preaching comes in our text, 48:20, “Get out of Babylon, flee from Chaldea, declare it with a shout of joy.” And Israel’s response? Nothing . . . nothing! They wouldn’t leave! The lights of Babylon, the sounds of Babylon, the religion of Babylon coaxed most of them into staying in Babylon!

 

That’s why throughout Isaiah 48 the prophet calls them stubborn, unyielding, headstrong, prone to idolatry, deaf, deceptive, and stubborn rebels from birth. All this because Israel refused to listen to the Gospel of their salvation.

 

Can’t you just imagine the people responding to the prophet? “Isaiah, haven’t you heard? Babylon is the place of peace and prosperity, luxury and easy living. Why should we go back to little backwater Judah? Besides, what a hassle it would be to liquidate our assets, pack our bags, and pull up stakes just to live in a land devastated by famine and warfare. Get out of Babylon? Isaiah, have you lost your mind?”

 

Isaiah, however, is not the one who has lost his mind. It is sinful Israel that has gone insane. Staying in Babylon when YHWH promises rescue is like a thirsty person choosing to drink raw sewage instead of water from a mountain stream.

 

God sends Isaiah to warn us as well. Our bondage to sin and death is much like Israel’s. How often we prefer and chase after Babylon. We look with longing upon the ways and desires of the world. We, like Israel, grow comfortable and complacent with our idols. Who or what do you look to for your good? Who or what do you place your trust in? Your love? Jesus was right. Where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. And so often, like Israel, our treasure is not in God’s word or ways, but in my own word, my ways, my desires. This isn’t freedom though. It’s all a trap. A boiling pot in which we are stuck. A jail in which we are imprisoned.

 

This is why God says, “Get out of Babylon, flee from Chaldea, declare it with a shout of joy.”

 

For not only did God call Isaiah to warn Israel and us, but to announce our rescue. It’s in God’s heart to call people out of darkness and into His marvelous light. God called Abraham and Sarah to get out of Haran because it was the center of moon worship. God urged Lot and his family to get out of Sodom and Gomorrah because it was the center of sexual perversion. God called Israel to get out of Egypt because it was the house of slavery. You see, at the core of Israel’s narrative is the Lord’s ongoing call for His people to get out of decay, decadence, and death.

 

God called Israel out of exile from Babylon. And God sent His Son to lead you out of your exile in sin and death through His death and resurrection.

 

 

Isaiah is sent not just to warn Israel and us,  but to comfort us with good news. “I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (43:25). “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist” (44:22). These great and precious promises are found, fulfilled, and come to fruition in Isaiah’s Servant, Jesus our Lord, the one crucified for us.

 

With Isaiah we rejoice that the Lord brings us rescue from death, release from captivity, redemption from our sin. Jesus leads us out of exile and into life eternal through his death and resurrection.

 

Jesus suffered and died for you. He bled for you and sweated for you. He felt the nails and the thorns for you. And because of that, Jesus comes for you in your darkness and sin. He comes to rescue, release, and free you from guilt and shame and regret.

 

And that is how we get out of Babylon and flee Chaldea and declare our Lord’s victory and rescue with shouts of joy.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

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Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

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Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
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