Isaiah’s Vision

    Nov 01, 2015

    Preacher: William (Tex) Culton

    Detail:

    I see it as a description of heaven on earth that begins with a great banquet for ALL PEOPLES (not one exclusive group).

    God, the Lord of hosts, will destroy death! The symbols of death are the shroud (in which dead people were wrapped and buried. It was this shroud that bound Lazarus when he came out of the grave at Christ’s bidding and it was this shroud that was seen folded beside the place where Jesus’ body had been placed. The sheet that is spread over ALL NATIONS (Represented today in the Christian Church by a Pall placed over the casket before it is brought into the sanctuary to represent the sheet that God lifts). God will swallow up death FOREVER AND FOR all peoples and nations. God’s love for the world is inclusive and leaves no one out.

    But we would not have that. We want it all for ourselves because we have not learned to forgive as God can forgive and we do not trust the act of grace enough to offer it to all people. In point of fact, we can hardly accept it for ourselves because it demands a vulnerability that frankly scares us. *

    There will be no crying in heaven (like baseball) because God will wipe away every tear from all the faces.

    How will God do this? The same way God does it in life for those who dare to turn to God in times of grief and shame. Like a parent with a child kissing away the tears of hurt or shame from a child whispering, “There, there, it hurts now, but it will go away…I promise. I’m not mad at you. I love you. It’s not that bad. I can fix it. Nothing is more important than you are to me! You’re safe with me.” God’s love covers multiple sins.

    The disgrace of the people that is taken away is the sin that brought on the Babylonian Captivity. Know that Isaiah is describing God’s Grace toward a people that knew God and had rejected faith in God for a way of life that forgot the poor and oppressed the weak. A people who had rejected charity and served God only symbolically.

    THE LORD HAS SPOKEN!

    It will be said on that day, lo, this is our God, we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation”

    There will be no complaints about the non-believers that are saved, just the proclamation that the God the Jews had worshiped is the very God who is saving all people forever. No exclusivity. There is not mention here of punishment, only forgiveness,

    AND what does it mean to wait for the Lord’s salvation? To me, waiting for the Lord is actively living as if we were “bringing in” the kingdom by living “as though” knowing God through Christ is heaven. It means beating swords into plowshares and putting our energy into serving those who are oppressed by poverty, disease, injustice. It means studying war no more! It means sacrificing ourselves so that others may experience the saving love of God in Christ. It means keeping our hearts and minds open to God and our ears and eyes open to who we are and who we are meant to be.

    Imagine heaven on earth! Some very misguided religious people think that heaven is for another life or that the only way to have a Godly kingdom on earth is to destroy all those who oppose their specific ideas of it. They would not hesitate to kill anyone who opposes their ideas. CAN WE DESTROY DEATH BY KILLING OTHERS? Christ overcame the power of death by sacrificing himself; taking the sin of the world on himself and proving that sin does not have the power that we give it. God’s grace (love that is undeserved) destroys the power of sin and its death threat, and takes the fear of death from anyone who dares to believe that Jesus has led the way to eternal life (A quality of life that makes one aware of God’s love constantly). Without the fear of death, a person can risk their life by turning the other cheek, seeking non-violent ways to change, loving and forgiving enemies and by lifting the shroud and the sheet that covers humankind.

    That means taking away everything that causes death to occur. Can you think of those things that cause us to die? What do you think a hundred billion dollars could do for the effort to find a cure for cancer? That’s what we are going to spend on 500 new super stealth bombers over the (next ? yrs.).

    But these reasoning’s have been brought up since the days of Isaiah when the Chosen People of God went the way of the world and ended up in captivity where they discovered that the only satisfying way to exist was in close relation to God and trusting that only God and living God’s will could return them to the promised land and lead the entire world to heaven on earth. Only God can accomplish such a thing.

    I hesitate to call heaven on earth a miracle because I believe it is possible! Maybe that’s the miracle part of it; being more than wishful thinking. It is something I think I can help make happen by living faithfully and working toward it, and REFUSING to take another life in order for my ideas to come to fruition.

    This is only possible through faith and knowing Jesus Christ as my savior. I couldn’t and probably wouldn’t dedicate my life to sharing God’s love and constantly taking unpopular positions if God’s grace hadn’t saved me. I’m far more Cain than Able. I’m prone to jealousy and worldly desire. I, I, I,…….would start a third party and enter the Presidential race as head of the party of “I’ve Got Mine!” with promises to protect whatever you have so that you will never have to share it with anyone else and will be insured to get even more than you have because you worked hard to get it and you deserve it more than those who will just have to learn to do without until they prove that they deserve it.

    The miracle is also that I realize that I don’t deserve all the good things that have happened to me. I realize that God’s grace came to me through hundreds, perhaps thousands of others and not for anything I ever did for them. That is most humbling, but it also allows me to see much of the world as Jesus saw it and respond as Jesus did with love rather than aggression. The only true way to receive is to give. He didn’t get rich by healing and feeding people. His mission, purpose in life, was to/is to reveal the Love of God for all people and to lay down his life for his friends. * This is a point we miss when Jesus said that greater love has no one than this that they lay down their life for their friend. He was talking about every person in the world! He considered them all friends. That’s an approach that can leave you very vulnerable to the bad guys. But so what? I wouldn’t give up the life I have led just to be sure that I wouldn’t be taken advantage of. I just want to live into the promises of Isaiah and John and Jesus who said, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” It is more than my faith in Jesus that saves me. It is the grace of God revealed in God’s Son, Jesus. To get to heaven, I try to walk in the footsteps of Jesus because they lead to heaven, and the walk, though a challenge, is a reward in itself.

    Today I think of all those saints that made my life a heaven on earth. If I began naming them, I would just dissolve into tears. But thinking of them also wipes the tears from my eyes for I know that they are with God! That is enough for me!

    Listen, before I finish, let me encourage you all to deepen your relationship to God in Christ and see if it doesn’t deliver you from stuff and ideas that have directed your lives and that you can not only live without, but feel free from! If we don’t have to worry about making everyone pay for their sins, and leave that to God, we can follow Christ’s example and forgive. To include everyone in God’s plan for salvation, even if we don’t understand how God’s going to do it, allows us to get on with being the men and women God created us to be.