In times of uncertainties and fear, we remember our Lord our God who speaks to us through the Scriptures and through history of God’s people. In Isaiah, God tells the Israelites that “for Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,” until Jerusalem is vindicated, shining like the dawn, and salvation shining like a “burning torch” (Isaiah 62:1). There is a promise and a reassurance that God will not rest until “the nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings see your glory” the glory of Jerusalem and be called by a new name given by the LORD (Isaiah 62:2). Israel will no longer be called “forsaken” or her land of be called “desolate,” for the LORD will marry the land of Israel, and the people of Israel.
“5For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your builder marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5).
When people say their vows in weddings, they say in sickness and in health they vow to love and to cherish one another. God’s making a vow to Israel, the land of Israel and to the people, that God will be there thick and thin, in sickness and in health, for rich or for poorer, in any condition that might face the people of Israel, that God will not forsake them.
This week I found these words very much comforting and anchoring my soul. Whatever trouble, difficulty, and turmoil your life is facing right now, God will not forsake you. God promises to be here for each of us, indeed all of us. We are not promised only happiness or only health or only the riches. Life will hand us difficult circumstances. But God promises in those times to be with us and walk with us and to be present at all times. As we are taught in the Gospel of Matthew, let us seek the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness first:
“33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33).
If we have Jesus, if we believe in God who saves us, we can get follow Jesus and God is with us. if we believe the words God spoke to the Israelites through the prophet Isaiah, that God will not rest until we are vindicated and saved and that our vindication and salvation shine like morning dawn and a burning torch, God will rejoice over us.
Indeed, how precious is God’s steadfast love for us: God’s judgment, God’s righteousness, and God’s saving love for humanity and animals alike:
“6Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your judgments are like the great deep;
you save humans and animals alike, O LORD.” (Psalm 36:6)
God’s righteousness is awesome like the mighty mountains, and God’s judgment is deep, deep like the great deep, deeper than anything else we can imagine, and God’s love is all encompassing of humans and animals alike. We pray and hope that God will continue God’s steadfast love, and salvation to those who know and love God:
“10O continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
and your salvation to the upright of heart!” (Psalm 36:10)
Furthermore, God equipped us with gifts, with different gifts for individuals. “6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.” (1 Corinthians 12:6). Through the Spirit of God, we are given the manifestations of the Spirit, not for us to use for our own gain, but for the common good of ourselves and others:
“8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).
As the spirit chooses, we are each given varieties of gifts to glorify God, to uplift one another, to testify to the goodness and love of God, and to share with others the truth that shall set us free!
A friend who is a pastor said he’s preaching on King’s Sunday. I was thinking to myself, Yes, Jesus is king of kings. Then I realized it’s Martin Luther King Jr’s Remembrance Day this weekend! So, let’s talk about the gift of MLK. He saw a vision of a world different this one. A world in which the oppression and injustices of this world were triumphed by justice and fairness. As the Moses saw on the mountaintop, but could not lead the people to the promised land, MLK very much like Moses spoke of the vision God gave him, seeing this promised land from the mountain top:
“In his speech, delivered 3 April 1968, Mason Temple (Church of God in Christ Headquarters), Memphis, Tennessee, he spoke on the injustices of the times and spoke to those who were standing up for justice. “We’ve got some difficult days ahead,” Martin Luther King, Jr., told an overflowing crowd in Memphis, Tennessee, on 3 April 1968, where the city’s sanitation workers were striking. Less than 24 hours after these prophetic words, King was assassinated by James Earl Ray.” (https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/ive-been-mountaintop)
King spoke these prophetic words of truth on the night before he was assassinated:
“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!”
Rev. Dr. King spoke these words not only to those sanitation workers who were striking but also to all who were fighting for Justice, that we are God’s people trying to live as God intended us to:
“I can remember — I can remember when Negroes were just going around as Ralph has said, so often, scratching where they didn’t itch, and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God’s world.
And that’s all this whole thing is about. We aren’t engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying — We are saying that we are God’s children. And that we are God’s children, we don’t have to live like we are forced to live.” (https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkivebeentothemountaintop.htm)
Fighting for injustice for oneself and for others is God’s work. As we are God’s children, to live as God created us, as a human being, as an individual, not being bound by the way we are forced to live.
The gifts of the Spirit that God promises us, it is for common good. Rev Dr. King’s gift was one of having a prophetic voice and a vision. He could see from the mountain top and lead the people to the vision, a vision where God’s justice and love reign.
All things are possible in God! Amen? As Jesus turned water into wine in his first miracle, for God, nothing is too hard or too little or too insignificant. God’s caring for the world extends to humans and animals alike, To the rich and poor, to healthy and to the sick, in times of joy and in times of sorrow. We have God who is with us. Immanuel. God is with us. Let us take courage and faith in that truth. Let us have hope. Corona virus, delta variant, omicron, social anxiety, isolation and loneliness, financial and job security worries, our own health and the health of our loved ones, bring it all to Jesus. Come to me, those who are tired and weary, Jesus calls to us with open arms:
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
All of us who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, listen, and hear that the Lord our God is calling us, each of us by our own name. Let us take the yoke that God offers us and learn from God who is gentle and humble in heart. And let us find rest for our souls that God offers us. Let us rest in God for we are in good hands.