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Monday, August 18, 2008

dazed and confused

I've been preaching this summer on the theme of exile in scripture. Exile is a consequence of sin, yet one of God's mercies, delaying immediate judgment. What is grace on top of the mercy of exile is God's proven willingness to leave the high heavens to plunge into the muck of human depravity to seek us out, call us by name, and bring His children home.

This past Sunday we looked at Isaiah 51, a dense and rich passage holding out hope to the exiles. In this passage, a weakened, captive, and exiled Israel calls out to God three times for God to save them - "Do it like you did it before!" they cry, referring to the Exodus.

But God has something else in mind. God replies, calling on Israel three times to "Wake up! Get up! Rouse yourself!" God promises redemption and offers hope, but it is on His own terms.

I was reminded of the man by the pool at Bethesda (John 5), waiting for the miracle waters to stir so that he might walk again, yet lying before the very Son of God who held out the hope of true healing and redemption.

Two questions arise out of these passages: 1) Will we miss what God is doing, looking in the wrong place for God's hand, all the while calling out fervently to God to "to it like you did it before?" 2) Do we want to be well (or have we become used to life by the pool)?

God speaking through Isaiah and the Father speaking through His Son said a remarkably similar thing: Rise! Take up your pallet, and walk!

This passage has significant application for us on the individual level, the local ministry level, and beyond. You'll have to check out the sermon for all that -

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