Sermon January 3, 2010: On wings of an eagle

Posted in Sermons
[Gregory Bishop (right) with Omar Soto]
  • Presenter: Gregory Bishop
  • Date: January 3, 2010
  • Location: Congregación León de Judá, Boston MA

Isaiah Chapter 40: Question, how many people know that part of the Bible it talks about mounting upon wings like eagle? Do you know that part? How many people have read and could tell me everything that’s in the whole Chapter that comes before that little section? Any one knows the whole, all the stuff that comes before?

Because, you know what? It’s one thing to think about flying and a different thing to think how to fly. Have you ever heard that song that says: “I believe I can fly? I believe I can touch the sky”.

-You can do it.

-No, you sing very well.

You know, in that song that person believes that she can fly, that she can do it. You know? What’s up with that? Can she fly? Can she touch the sky? No, she can’t! It’s a very nice song but it’s not true.

In Christ there are certain promises and the image used is the image of flying but it’s not just wishful thinking, there’s something to it. No es cuento de hadas. We don’t want anyone jumping out of a window. But what I’m saying is that’s a whole punch of preparation that God says how you can fly like an eagle. I want to think there’s sort of a parachute but that doesn’t quite cut it. Maybe it’s the wings that God presents to us. But that is what we are going to think today.

Isaiah Chapter 40 verse 1 –so they can just read it, verses 1 to 3 we are going to start with- those who want to put it up in Spanish, that’s good.

Isaiah 40:1 to 5. Confirm my people say you’re God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and bequeathed her that the hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for. That she has received from the Lord double for all her sins. A voice once calling in the desert ‘prepared the way for the Lord, make straights in the wilderness, a high way for our God. Every valley shall be raised, stopped every mountain and hill made low and rough ground shall become level and rugged places plain and the Glory of the Lord will be revealed and all men kind will see it for the mouth of the Lord has spoken’.

Father in Jesus name I pray for your presence in this time. Father I thank that I go my prayers like the snow gently falling your Spirit has been resting upon us. It’s sweet and peaceful way. We don’t want to leave from this refuge. Just as it’s windy outside and we’re safe and warm in here. God you’ve been a refuge for your people and God you promise the New Year to truly be the wind underneath our wings.

I pray for new hope and new strength today. Faith that you would speak and that your word would fall in good soil in Jesus name. Amen.

Isaiah 40. Starts by saying “Comfort, comfort my people” but when I think of comfort I think of being inside of

a house by a fire with a nice hat and some of you still have your winter coats and hats on but you are here in the house of God. You’re here by the fire of the Holy Spirit. “Comfort for God’s peoples”.

This chapter was written to peoples in exile. The people of Israel for generations have been committing the sin of idolatry. They used to build idols and they would offer sacrifices before those idols. They would offer their children in the fire before those idols.

The people of Israel have come to be a pagan nation and prophets like Isaiah and others came along and talked to them saying: ‘If you don’t repent you will be judge by the Lord’ Page after page after page of warnings to the people. God saying ‘Don’t play with me. You’re playing with fire’.

And the time came when God allowed great awesome, terrible nations to conquer Israel. They burnt the Temple, they destroyed the walls and the survivors were taken away enchained as slaves to the exile. The people of Israel came under judgment. For 70 years they lived in foreign nations where they did not choose to live and after that God promised to bring them back.

The issue with the prophets is that they’re seeing visions from God, right? They’re seeing what’s coming but it’s not necessarily in sequential order or chronological. Have you ever looked into a big mountain range on the horizon? Now you can be seeing some mountains that are smaller than others from your point of view and you have no idea which mountain is close to you and which one is thousands of miles away from you. You just lose perspective, you’re seeing on the horizon and that’s what the prophets were like.

So in one chapter they might be prophesying by something that is going to happen tomorrow and in the next sentence they might be talking about the second coming of Jesus and then after that they’re talking about the exile when they’re going to be taken away in chains and then they might talk about when they’re going to come back from the exile. So, this is the section where Isaiah is telling them what’s going to happen after their punishment.

They’re going to come back to their homes just like in the Exodus when they left Egypt and came back to Israel, there’s going to be another Exodus when they were going to come back to their people and then John the Baptist picks this up when he preaches the same words “A voice in the desert calling prepare the way for the Lord because now we will be free from slavery under Satan’s rule and will enter into the Glory of the time of Jesus”.

So, this chapter is all about comfort, it’s all about hope. It’s saying that the exile they’re suffering is not going to last forever. How many people know that when you are in the desert it looks as it never ends? You feel that you will never get another glass of water, you feel that you will never have another beach to go swimming and just if I switch the image it seems as if it will keep snowing and snowing.

It seems as if the sun is never going to come out again. God is saying something. He’s saying “that sun is going to come out again. There will be new blossoms. There will be new life for you. This long exile will one day come to an end”.

We suffer all kinds of different exiles in our lives, all different kinds of punishments or deserts in our lives. Sometimes we are like the people in Israel, we suffer because we ‘lo buscamos’, we ask for it, we have it coming.

Has anyone here ever asked for it before? Have you ever had it coming? Have you ever had a big problem and you know “I don’t have anyone else to blame for this. I got it myself” and there are seasons of consequences of row of decisions. We’ve all been there.

The people of Israel were there for 70 years and that’s why God says ‘Your sin has been paid for. Your time of exile has been completed’. You know what? God is not going to keep it with you forever. There come times when He takes the bad decisions you’ve made and He turns them around for your good. God even used the exile for good in the people of Israel.

Anyone has ever heard of a queen Esther? You know the beautiful queen that saved the people. That would never have happened if it hadn’t been for the exile. Ever heard of Daniel? Came to be a great leader in the pagan nation of Babylon. Ever wondered how he got to Babylon in the first place? He didn’t want to get there, he was born into exile. No exile, no Daniel. God takes our sin and our negative consequences from them and he pulls beauty out of them.

Now, of course, Esther and Daniel, they were living in exile too but they didn’t do anything to deserve it, right? What did they do? They were just born but their grandparents were bad boys and girls and that’s why they had to be born in Babylon rather whatever perfect place in Israel. There are some of us who are living times of exile not because of any decisions we’ve made but because of the decisions, bad decisions of other people.

Our grandparents, great grandparents made some bad decisions and we’re still cleaning up the broken plates. That works in Spanish. You know we’re still cleaning up the consequences of those decisions. Now, God blessed us. We don’t blame our problems on others but we’re recognizing us as pioneers. We’re breaking generations of punishment because of decisions made for us. And like Daniel and Esther we’re opening up a new chain of blessing for the next generation.

‘Comfort, comfort my people. Your time of desert will come to an end’.

You know sometimes you go through the desert and there’s no obvious reason why. Just like Jesus said, ‘Why is this man blind? Did he sin or did his parents sin?’ and He said ‘Neither’. Jesus said ‘For some mysterious reasons he’s like that’. So God’s Glory will be around us. In the book of Genesis, Joseph had spent time in jail, in slavery, in a muddy well. He didn’t do anything wrong, but God had a purpose.

Job was another, he went through all kinds of extended suffering. He didn’t do anything wrong. God had a mysterious purpose for him. The good news is that it doesn’t go on forever. God has a purpose.

God has a purpose. It will come the time of fulfillment.

Now, we do have a part to play in God’s delivering us from our deserts. It says we need to prepare the way for the Lord. We need to make straight paths, we need to take mountains and take them low, we need to rise up valleys and we need to smooth out rough ground. This is a literal image, for the people of Israel to come back from Babylon to Israel. They had to go through some rough territory.

Have you ever gone on a bus through the countryside of Guatemala and thanks God you’re so stuck together because that keeps you from silting? Around, curves, you’re taking your life in your hands every minute. I love it. God had to make a straight path.

Now, I’ve never had to do this but I’d imagine that to lower a mountain takes a few sticks of dynamite and rising up a valley involves some shovels and bulldozers. But how long does it take to go through the discipleship in our church? Anyone has done the whole thing? How long does it take? Two and a half years! What are we going for punishment here? You know, to grow to deal with the valleys in your life, to deal with the mountains in your life takes time and it takes working.

Prepare the way for the Lord.

Verse 5: “In the Glory of the Lord we’ll be revealed”. Lion of Judah, do you want to see the Glory of God revealed? We have not even gone into that God has promised Pastor Roberto and his ministry. We have not got started. The God has made huge promises and we have not even taste the beginning but if we want to see the Glory of the Lord revealed there are some mountains that need to be blown up, there are some valleys that need to be filled in. This is not just going to happen.

God is looking for a straight highway. The highway of Holiness comes with the territory. Apart of this involved having a new vision –don’t worry we’ll get to the eagle part- part of this involves having a new vision of ourselves. Verse 6. Verse 6 to 8 a voice says: “Cry out!” and I said “What shall I have to cry out?”

All men are like grass and their Glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely, the people are like grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of our God stands forever. Now I ask you, how is it come from in the hearing that I am like grass that is going to dry up and flower that falls? Tell me, how is that helpful? We’ll get there.

Step ahead to verse 15. Now it’s not only talking about you but it’s talking about nations. Imagine a million of you. Verse 15: ‘Surely, the nations are like a drop in the bucket. They’re regarded as dust on the scales’. How big is a drop in the bucket? How much does dust weigh?

That’s how important a whole nation is before God or perhaps “significant” is a better word. It’s talking about we’re like grass. We are like a drop in the bucket, we weigh less than dust. Can you believe you came through the snow here today? God is saying we’re nothing! And, how is that helpful?

You know, a little bit later, it says “You know what the kings and thrones, the most majestic kings; it says, “if God accidentally sneezes they get flicked off their throne” How is it helpful to know how worthless and insignificant I am? Because I don’t have to take myself so seriously maybe.

Chapter 40, now, verse 9: “You’d bring good tidings to Zion. ‘You who bring good tidings to Zion, You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, bring up your voice with a shout. Don’t be afraid. Say to the town of Judah: ‘Here is your God. See Sovereign Lord comes with power and his arms rule for him. See his reward is with him and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.

He gently leads to those who have young’s. Until we know how small we are we can’t let God carry us. We rather walked on our own. But God wants to carry you, it’s free, it’s wonderful, it’s beautiful. Beginning by knowing how small I am. Before being an eagle I need to know I am a pigeon. But it doesn’t end that way.

Verse 12. Point number 1: The beginning of wisdom. The beginning of wisdom is knowing, you know, in college I remember having a conversation my Pastor and I were evangelizing and you can summarize all this. And the guy was saying: “Who’s to say that God is so great? We’re all kind of God. You’re God, I’m God” and mi Pastor –Dave Phil- nunca lo olvido he looked up and said: “I want to tell you something really clear and I want you to hear this. He looked at me really closely: ‘You are not God’ “.

Number 1: God is much smarter than you are.

Verse 12: Who has measured the waters in the hallow of his hand or with the breath of his hand has measure the Heavens? Who has held the dust of the Earth on a basket or weighed the mountains on scales or the hills on a balance? Who has understood the mind of the Lord or instructed him as His counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him or taught him the right way? Who was it that he taught him knowledge or show him the path of understanding?

I’m going to fill in the blank: You? You were the one who told God.

I’m going to tell a story. I made a stop at Harrison and Mass Avenue. The two lights are –some of you have gone through that light so you have to be really adventurous there- but you know, I stopped by through there and there’s a light with an arrow, right? I’m driving along with my little boy -two and a half sitting on the back seat and I stopped to the red arrow and then the light turns green next to me and all the cars start going but the arrow stays red.

You know what Noah said? “Drive, daddy. Drive” and I turned around and I said “Noah, you see, look those lights are green but there’s a red arrow”. Then I turned around and said ‘Wait a minute I don’t have to explain myself to a two-year-old’. Daddy knows how to drive, it’s your job just to sit and of course while I’m doing this the light changes green and I’m looking back so “hoot hoot”. He was sure he knew better than I did. We do this with God all the time. “Drive, Daddy, drive”.

What did Peter do when Jesus said ‘Why don’t you throw your nets out on the other side of the boat?’ Peter started –and I can hear his condescension in his voice, right? I can almost hear Peter saying- “You know Jesus, you haven’t been fishing as long as I have. We’ve been out there all night and we haven’t caught anything and the Jesus looked and I almost imagine him saying “Look I’ve made this lake. I’ve made those fish. I made the net, I made the boat. Don’t tell me those dumb things to me”. Then Peter said ‘Well, okay, I’ll try’.

That’s why after he tried and then he throws it out and catches the fish and he comes back and he gets down on his knees and says “Go away from me, Lord. I’m a sinful man since I thought I knew better than you”.

Think of the most beautiful ocean scene you’ve ever seen. You can see for ever, spectacular the waters or spectacular the scene. Imagine those mountains you met in the Atitlan Lake and you see the volcanoes and the sun coming. Imagine the beautiful countryside that comes through your countries that are beautiful. God says: “I’ve made all of that. I know what I’m doing”. God is smarter than I am.

I may not understand what’s going on but my dad knows how to drive.

Number two: ‘God’ –here’s another gem of wisdom from my college days- Anyone has ever been to the Grand Canyon? ‘God is bigger than the Grand Canyon’. God is bigger and smarter than you and is bigger than you.

This is not complicated faults.

Verse 21 in Chapter 40. This is all the background for flying. It says: ‘Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told from the beginning? Have you not understood since the Earth was founded?’ You know, when I was in Argentina, there’s a little phrase –we haven’t any Argentineans flowing around- I’m sure they’re watching but since they’re not here we make fun of them in their absence. But they would use a phrase that would say: “¿Viste?”

It usually made me feel really dumb for not understanding. “¿Viste? ¿Viste?” “Don’t you got it? Don’t you got it?” “Capisce?” You think you’re bigger than God, you think you’re stronger than God but you don’t say so but you really do because you want to take the wheel when you don’t know how to drive. So you can hear and just say that.

Verse number 22: “He’s sitting in throne above the circle of the Earth and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the Heavens like a canopy and spreads them out to living”. Ever been out in those really starry nights when you can see forever? Like Abraham goes out and looks at that starry night.

That’s my palace. I’m bigger than all that. God goes ahead of those and says “Whom will you compare me?”

We say in the song ‘¿Quién es como Jehová?’ ‘Who is like the Lord?’ There’s nobody like the Lord.

Verse 27: Why did you say ‘Oh Jacob and complain Oh! Israel. My way is hidden from the Lord, my cause is disregarded by God’.

During the long desert we started wondering if God really is paying attention to us. There’s a brother in the church who is here, looking to move his family here into the United States as an immigrant and his family is back in his home country just waiting and it’s been a year and a half. Every day is an eternity and it seems it’s going to go on forever. It’s a long way, it’s a long journey. If I were him, it would be easy to complain and say ‘God, are you really paying attention?’

Verse 28: ‘Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the Earth. He would not go tired or weary. And His understanding no one can have’. God never gets tired and he’s never confused about what to do.

That’s why when we worship we put our eyes on him. What’s why we glorify the Lord. Because look what happens next: He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youth get tired and weary and even young men stumble and fall but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. We’re hoping in the Lord now in 2010.

What is your hope for your future? What is the basis by which we can be hopeful that good things are going to happen in the future? The mere thing that I server a big, huge, awesome God, who knows what he is doing and who can transmit his strength to me. The word for renew, to renew your strength is used most typically in the Old Testament for changing all the old garments and putting on new one.

Joseph was in jail for many years and then when it was time to meet the King, he put away his prison clothes and he put on clothes that were fit for a king. When we come into God’s presence, when we look at who God is, He clothes us with new strength, He flows us with majesty and dignity and power and we can walk with new strength.

So I put aside my prison clothes, I put aside my weakness and there’s new strength breathing in me and now we get into the part where it says: “They will sore and wings like eagles. They will run and I won’t grow weary. They will walk and will not faint. We will fly because we know who God is and we know we are trusting in him”.

Have you ever seen the tired eagle? Have you ever seen an eagle sweat? The eagles live up in the high places. Have you ever seen an eagle flap his wings really hard? I’m not eagle expert. I’m not going to get it in the funky stuff but I just know they spread their wings, they look –I heard- for thermal currents in the air and they just coast, they glide.

The eagle is the only animal, I think, that can rest while it’s flying. They can relax while flying because it’s not about him but it’s about the air that he’s flying, his wings that support him.

You know, any good Hebrew -coming now to an end- when they hear wings of eagles, they’re going to think about a certain moment in Israel’s history: the Exodus. Because God said after the Exodus when they came out of Egypt and they went through the Red Sea: ‘I took you out on wings of eagles’. That’s what they would think up but you know that the image was and it’s explained in the book of Deuteronomy? God said “I was like an eagle that swoops down and I grabbed you with my claws like they do with their kids- and I swoop you out of Egypt. And on wings of eagle I flew you out of there”.

And you know? This is what I thought this was referring to. But it is not. In this story it’s not about God being an eagle. It’s about you being an eagle. It’s not about God flying here it’s about us flying. It’s about us knowing that God is so strong and so wise that I can spread my faith and let Him carry me.

Peter learnt how to fly like this. You know, we saw that part when we thought he was smarter than God. But you know if you look in the book of Acts you see a man preach and thousands come to Christ. You see men with such an authority that when people lied to God in his presence they were struck dead. And this is literal.

There are stories where Peter would touch someone and they would be heal. People would take a handkerchief and just rubbed it on him and put it on a sick person and the sick person would be heal. The Apostle Peter learnt how to fly.

Lion of Judah that word about the eagle scooping up its children and carrying them out was for when Israel was a child. But now Israel in the Book of Isaiah it’s time for them to fly. It’s time for them to grow up and to spread their wings.

Lion of Judah for many years God has been carrying this church so we have not yet began to fly on wings of eagles. We are the cusp? Of lifting off from that cliff and flying in those thermal winds. It’s time to grow up. Prepare the way, repentant. Humble ourselves. Know that we are nothing. Have faith. Know that God is bigger than I am, know that God is stronger than I am. Spread my wings, close my eyes and jump.

That’s what we are doing in 2010. Are you ready to really leave this chapter?

We can wrap it inviting you to stand together, and I don’t know what the exile or the desert you are living is, but I know who is the one who can bring you home. I don’t know what it is making you tired or exhausted but I know who can renew your strength. So let’s do that. Father in Jesus name we admit God that we are nothing but at the same time we are called to be eagles.

And Father I pray that in the year 2010, Father to those going through the long process of life, some people feel that they’ve been in the desert for a long, long time and it’s never ending. Father, I pray that you would teach them, that you would teach us what it means to hope in the Lord, what it genuinely means to believe you are the wisest one in the universe and the most powerful one. Father, teach us to spread those wings and to fly like you want.

God I pray for new strength for your people. I pray for a year of new strength. Father that you would fulfill your purpose in us. And God I thank you that you’re faithful and this is all about you and not about us. In Jesus name. Amen. Amen.

Sermon delivered by Gregory Bishop January 3, 2010 at Congregación León de Judá Oir | Ver (100K) | Ver (350K) | Ver (1200K)


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