Epiphany in Exile

This past week I spent a few days in Fort Wayne at the Seminary learning alongside fellow pastors, deaconess, seminarians, professors and more. One of the days I was able to sit in a sermon seminar on the upcoming Lenten series we are using this year. Rev. Dr. Reed Lessing of St. Michael’s in Fort Wayne went through the context, content, theology and themes of Isaiah 40-55. Isaiah draws from the rest of the Old Testament scripture and points to Jesus. These chapters speak of Yahweh’s rebellious servant, Israel whom He loves and delivers through the perfect Servant Israel, Jesus.

A theme that runs through these chapters is exile. The Babylonian nation had taken Israel captive and the Israelites were no longer home. They lost not only their homes and possessions but many of their loved ones and leaders. They were stripped of their comforts and confidence and were captive to a foreign nation that worshiped false Gods. Through this, Yahweh was teaching them to trust in Him above all.

A book like Isaiah that is so ancient that it’s often hard to application to our lives. But in the nation of Israel we see a rebellious people loved by God. The Lord (Yahweh) is hopelessly devoted to Israel. In this picture we see ourselves. We are a rebellious people loved by God. We also are living in a land that is deficient of lasting comforts and eternal confidences. And the voice of God’s comfort is threatened to be drowned out by the voice of the tempestuous pleasures of the now. We are convinced without much consideration that we are leaderless and we are cut off from our loved ones who abandon us for the things of the world rather than the things of God.

We may feel abandoned and on the edge of defeat, but in our weakness, He is strong. When we see our failures and our misfortunes and our faults, Yahweh guides us to confess our sins and to confess His salvation. And that is what we get. We give our sins and He gives His Son. Jesus came as the perfect servant, to suffer for us in our flesh in our place. The Suffering Servant, Jesus, is revealed to us from God as all we need in this dark place as we wait the full and final restoration to come.