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Yahweh Alone is God October 16, 2011

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.

Isaiah 45:1-7

 Proper 24

October 15-16, 2011

Focus: Yahweh alone is God, and He is faithful.

Function: That the hearers put their trust in Yahweh alone.

Structure: Historical; Then and Now.


Yahweh alone is God

            Their city had been ravaged by war for the last several generations.  Not only had their trusted neighbor turned on them and attacked, and allies turning out to be enemies, but now they were under siege.  King Nebuchadnezzar had them trapped.  Nothing in, nothing out.  For nearly two years, they lived liked this.  The food supply gone, parents found themselves eating their own children to fend off starvation one more day.  Sickness and death ran rampant.  Music and joy ceased.  Dancing turned to mourning.

It was almost merciful when Babylon broke through the walls of Jerusalem.  They burned the palace of the king and the homes of the people; they demolished the temple of God and destroyed all the remnants of a once-thriving civilization.  The army of Nebuchadnezzar carried off most of the people of Judah into captivity in Babylon.  Some managed to escape and flee to neighboring lands.  And the poorest of the poor were left behind to tend the vineyards and the fields in order to increase the empire’s food supply.

Those who were carried off were punished severely, imprisoned, beaten, raped, and put to work in even worse conditions than slaves.  King Zedekiah was forced to watch as his sons were killed before his very eyes.  And as if that weren’t enough, he was then blinded, bound, and locked away.  Estimates put the death toll near half of the total population; imagine one out of every two people gone.  All who remained of God’s chosen people worked in forced labor to a new empire, a new king.  The very promised land lay devastated by famine and war.  All hope was lost.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It’s really easy for us today to pick up the Bible and forget what it really is.  It’s not a story.  The Old Testament isn’t some fictional tale of how the world came to be.  God’s Word is the true history of mankind.  The image I painted for you just moments ago really happened.  Those men and women actually lived, bled, and died.

What happened?  These men and women were the chosen people of God.  They were His holy nation, set apart to be His people.  Perhaps that’s what the author of Lamentations, whom most Christians now believe was the prophet Jeremiah, perhaps that’s what he had in mind when he finished his writings

Why do You forget us forever? Why do You forsake us so long? Restore us to You, O Yahweh, that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old, Unless You have utterly rejected us and are exceedingly angry with us.


He puts the blame on Yahweh for the circumstances.  He accuses Yahweh of forgetting, of turning His back on His people.  That’s the furthest thing from the truth.  When push comes to shove, Yahweh is the only One capable of keeping the covenant He made with Abraham and his descendants.  But sin blinds us from always seeing that.

In fact, sin is precisely the reason for the suffering of the people of Judah.  They were not living the covenant.  They did not hold Yahweh to be their God alone, and they were surely not being His people.  They turned their backs on Yahweh to worship and follow other gods.  It was their disobedience that brought about their problems.

We do know through Scripture that Yahweh used the nation of Babylon, under King Nebuchadnezzar, to punish Judah for their unholy living.  But God wasn’t aiming to obliterate His chosen people.  God used the Babylonian Captivity to bring about repentance in the hearts of His people.  But even after realizing their sins and their need to repent, the nation of Judah still forgot the covenant.  As Lamentations says, “Renew our days as of old, Unless You have utterly rejected us and are exceedingly angry with us.”  They failed to truly believe that Yahweh would be their God.  They thought it was conditional on their actions.  But that goes entirely against God’s covenant faithfulness.  He is faithful 100% of the time.  He is always their God, whether or not they’re acting like His people.  And Yahweh delivers His children.

As we see in our Old Testament reading today from Isaiah, God chose Cyrus, the King of Persia, to deliver Judah from their bondage, to put an end to their fifty years of captivity.  While His people sat and quarreled over whether He’d take them back or not, God was already in the act of sending Cyrus to Babylon.  We see in the text Yahweh proclaiming the power that He is giving to Cyrus.  But we also see that Yahweh leads the way, humbling nations and kings, tearing open doors, clearing the path for Cyrus, breaking the bonds of His people, and revealing every hidden treasure in the land, ripe for the taking.  Babylon was ready to be conquered.

Yahweh called Cyrus to be His servant; He anointed him and established him as the King of Persia.  He did all of this even though Cyrus didn’t know Him or believe in Him.  And He goes on to say that He did this so that Cyrus, Judah, and the whole world would know that He is Yahweh, He is God.  And more to the point, He is the only God.  Besides Him there is no other.  From the rising of the sun to its setting, Yahweh is there in everything.  He formed light and created darkness.  He made peace and created chaos.  He is the architect of all things.  There is no other God.

That’s the point that Yahweh is so dramatically trying to get across.  I am Yahweh, and there is no other.  God uses Cyrus to call His people back, to deliver them from captivity.  And Cyrus goes on to instruct them to return to their land and rebuild the temple.  Cyrus even goes as far as admitting that that is Yahweh’s bidding.  Cyrus acknowledges Yahweh’s existence after all of these things.

Often times people talk about the value of studying history as making sure that history doesn’t repeat itself.  In this sense, we’d have to say that the people of Judah were terrible historians.  Sin creates a cycle.  It’s a cycle of falling away and being restored, being delivered.  The cycle traces all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden.  They sinned, separating themselves from God.  But after punishing them and removing them from the Garden, Yahweh spares their lives and promises deliverance through an heir.

We see it again in Noah and the flood, where God chose to save a small portion of people from this sinful world.  And it comes again in Israel’s bondage in Egypt.  Yet God sends Moses to set them free and take them to the promised land.  Again, they falter with the golden calf and constant grumbling, and only their children inherit the land.  Those children fail to obey God and find themselves at the hand of their enemies.  God sends a judge, a deliverer, in Othniel, to bring them out of service to Mesopotamia.  And after they’re delivered, they turn away again.  The cycle continues through twelve different judges in the Book of Judges.

And it continues into the period of kings, when God’s people split into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah.  And when God uses Assyria to break the pride and sinfulness of Israel, to call them back to Him, Israel never returns.  They miss the point.  And while Judah followed Yahweh a little longer, they didn’t learn from Israel’s demise either.  They too fall away.  And that brings us to where we were in the text this morning with Cyrus.  No matter how many times the people turned their backs to God, He always remained faithful to His covenant.  He remained faithful to His people.

Now before you get too proud of yourself for thinking that you could have seen the historical repetition, seen the pattern and avoided it, think again.  We all fall right back into the cycle of sin.  We constantly forget that Yahweh is God alone.

How often do we break the first commandment?  Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me.  Anything in your life that you trust more than Yahweh for even a second, you’ve put in the place that belongs to Him alone.  These idols and false gods are rampant in our lives.

Take, for example, money.  How much time do you spend worrying about whether you’ll make it to the next paycheck?  How often do you find yourself stressing out over financial problems and debt?  And what about work?  How many of us devote ourselves so much to our jobs, that our relationship with God takes a backseat?  And if you don’t think that happens, how often do you read the Bible?  Are you in it every day?  Do you pray regularly, and by that I mean at least daily?  Do you come to church every Sunday to nourish your relationship with God in a community setting, or do you miss sometimes because you’re too tired?  When there are Bible studies, servant events, mentoring roles, volunteer opportunities, and all kinds of other ways to serve God and to grow in your relationship with Him, do you take advantage of them?  If you answered “no” to any of these for just about any reason, there are times in your life when you aren’t putting Yahweh first, worshipping Him alone.

If the answer is “I don’t have time,” welcome to one of the biggest, and sinful, traps of our culture.   We have filled our lives with so many things that are truly meaningless.  Think about it.  Do we really need to run errands every night?  Is shopping that important?  Do kids really need to play sports at the same time as the rest of God’s children our worshipping in His house?

This is perhaps Satan’s greatest triumph.  He has used busyness to distract us and separate us from the God that loves us so dearly.

Money doesn’t escape the judgment of the last day.  You can’t take it with you.  Groceries, restaurants, schools, homework, sports teams, businesses, television, cars, you name it, none of these things are coming with you.

Despite any of Satan’s efforts or the greatest of sinfulness, Yahweh is God alone.  And thankfully, Yahweh is always faithful to His covenant.  And while in the past God has supplied temporary deliverance through various means like Cyrus, He has since given us the ultimate deliverance.  Yahweh acknowledged our need for a Savior from ourselves.  And because of this He sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to do what we couldn’t.  He fulfilled His promise of delivery from sin to Adam and Eve.  Christ is the cyclebreaker.  He came among us and sacrificed His life in order to break sin’s power over us.  And because Yahweh raised Christ from the dead, He has also destroyed sin’s punishment: death no longer has power over us.

Life isn’t about the things of this world.  For God, it’s always been about His relationship with us as His people.  You and me, that’s what it’s all about.  Yahweh is God alone and we are His people.  Rather than being consumed by Satan’s timetrap, God has graciously freed us, and we need to use our time, resources and money to find ways to share and spread God’s love and faithfulness with people who don’t have it.  Because when the last day comes, everything is meaningless except our relationship with God.  And if you don’t have one, you’re Israel who failed to realize that you’ve fallen away.

We are God’s chosen people.  We are His children.  Yahweh alone is our God, and we are His people.  Whatever this world throws at us, be it hardships, trials, suffering, or just plain busyness, let us learn from history.  Let’s allow Yahweh to be God in our lives at all times.  Let’s take a lesson from the saints who have walked before us, and let us focus on our relationship with our Creator, the One and only God, Yahweh.



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