Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Christmas Miracle: Refreshment

Intro: Story of judge who had “The Holy City” sung rather than fining or imprisoning prisoners one day in court.

Read Isaiah 35:1-10


Tran. Hebrew poetry is different than the western poetry we have come to expect.

  1. Not based on rhythm

  2. Not based on rhyme

  3. Rather, it is based on the parallelism of ideas or thoughts

  4. Verse 1 is a good example of this – ABAB

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.

  1. or the end of verse 2 AABB

    The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.

  2. We will see more of Hebrew poetry in the future, but realize that we are looking at Hebrew poetry as we read this section of the prophet Isaiah.
  3. We will see more of Hebrew poetry in the future, but realize that we are looking at Hebrew poetry as we read this section of the prophet Isaiah.

T.S. Isaiah 35:1-10 contains three contrasts that help us to understand the importance of the Messiah to the Jewish people.

  1. Contrast #1 - The desert will blossom Isaiah 35:1

      1. I have never spent much time in a desert – but I am not sure that I would want to either.

      2. Yet the Israelites, as a people, had spent their lives living in the desert of Palestine.

(Ill.) In a typical December, there will 11 days of 10 inches or more of rain – the average high temperature will be 53°. That is twice as much precipitation and 20° warmer than Rochester NY. But the summer had three months with no rain and an average temperature of 83°.

      1. But the Israelites knew of areas that were full of flowers – there was Lebanon – an area north east of the Sea of Galilee that had forests famous for their cedar. There was Carmel – a mountain due west of the sea of Galilee. From its top you could see the Jordan River to the south west and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. “No mountain in or around Palestine retains its ancient beauty so much as Carmel. Two or three villages and some scattered cottages are found on it; its groves are few but luxuriant; it is no place for crags and precipices or rocks of wild goats; but its surface is covered with a rich and constant verdure. The whole mountain-side is dressed with blossom, and flowering shrubs, and fragrant herbs.” [Easton, M. Easton's Bible Dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996, c1897.] And there was Sharon – a eight mile wide plain west of the Jordan River. Today it is among the richest agricultural land in Palestine – but such was not true in the time of Isaiah. The “Rose of Sharon” refers to a group of four red flowers that flower one after the other in the area.

      2. And Isaiah says that a time is coming when the deserts of Palestine will have “The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon.” The land will be blessed. And there are those who argue that these prophesies are being fulfilled today – as citrus groves line the Plains of Sharon.

      3. But it is not only land that becomes dry – there are times in our lives that life seems dry. It will seem that there is little nourishment, little encouragement. Yet, like that desert, God offers us refreshment in the midst of our broken days. He wants to offer a fresh rain in the midst of the dryness in which we find ourselves.

      4. Reach out and take it – it may seem hard, it may seem impossible; but if we will continue, as best we are able at the time, to listen to God, he will respond.

  1. Contrast #2 – The blind shall see and the lame shall walk Isaiah 35:3-6

    1. Look at the specifics here - The blind shall see The deaf shall hear The lame shall leap like deer

    2. Now remember what Jesus did – he gave sight to the blind, he allowed the deaf to hear, he made the lame to walk.

    3. As I age, I become more and more aware of the physical ailments that are part of life. My back hurts, my feet cramp, I am more tired. I suspect that if we were to sit down and chat for any length of time, you could add to this list.

    4. Yet Isaiah offers each believer a promise. A day will come when we too shall see without glasses, we shall shall run and leap with joy. Those ailments we all have will be done with -

    5. At the same time there are limitations that we may not be aware of. You see, we cannot understand God, we cannot see the world as He sees it. We do not hear him as clearly as he speaks. And we can only partially and incompletely do all that he expects of us

    6. And a day is coming when we will see our world like God sees it, a day is coming we will hear God and understand everything he has for us. And with all of our gusto, we will be willing and able to obey him. That day is coming for

      The blind shall see The deaf shall hear The lame shall leap like deer

  1. Contrast #3 – A Highway for the clean

(Ill.) Roads often are used divide political realms. Out in our neck of the county Westside Drive lies almost East-West. On the North side of the road is Ogden township, on the South side of the road is Chili township. Now, I am not sure, but I think that I figured out on a map that West Avenue serves the same purpose between Sweden and Clarkson townships. But Isaiah's highway is different – it is not so much to divide, but to provide a way to God.

    1. But we have a problem. No one who is unclean will be allowed on this highway.

    2. But that is why Christ came – to take our brokenness and make us into holy people set aside for His use.

    3. This road is so straight that even the fool can find his or her way – There is nothing to be afraid of on this highway.

(Ill) Though there are no lions in Palestine today, they did exist at the time of Isaiah's writing. They were not the large mained variety that we are used to describing. But when hungary and thirsty, these Asian lions were as ferocious as the African variety.

    1. And as we follow that highway, we shall find a new life. A new joy will begin to define who we are.

    2. ...“and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

(Appl.) Are you missing the joy? Have you missed the road?


There are those who have never experienced that joy. God calls you to say “Yes” to Jesus.

But there are also those here who have said “Yes” to Jesus who have forgotten the joy. They want what they had – there is a need to say “Yes” again, to renew the fire that began when they first came to Jesus.

Finally, there are those are saying “yes” to Jesus – not just in the past, but with the beginning of each new day.

Are you missing the joy? Say “Yes” to Jesus.

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