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Our Heart Leaps for Joy


A sermon on Isaiah 35:4-7a for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost, September 6/9, 2018.

The big day arrives. Our palms grow sweaty from the eager anticipation. The days, which we have been patiently counting down for months, finally grow into hours and minutes. Our hearts pound. All of this builds up to this grand event. Each of us can recall a time in our life when this excitement grew. Our wedding day, the birth of a child, graduation, retirement, getting ready for the big game, or whatever else. The joy cannot be contained.


God describes another moment of complete joy through the prophet Isaiah. This joy tops anything that can take place in our earthly life. Once more we feel the excitement building only to culminate in the greatest joy we could possibly have.


Our Heart Leaps for Joy

  1. God comes to save us.
  2. God transforms us.


Judgment will come. This theme rang throughout Isaiah 34. God listed judgment, terrible judgments, which he would bring upon the nations. Death, destruction, annihilation would soon come to all those people that forsook God.


Some might look at this chapter thinking God desired nothing but the destruction of his enemies. The impending destruction comes to all those who turn their back on God. We know how disobedience to God’s commands brings destruction. Throughout the Old Testament on numerous occasions God brings punishment upon his people for their deliberate disobedience. God reminds us the wages of sin is death.


We stand staring in the mirror of God’s law only to have our sins staring right back at us. We shrink away in shame at all our misdeeds. The laziness of our work ethic cheats our company. The envy swelling up in our heart shows discontentment at the blessings God gives to us. The abuse of marriage and the blessings intended for marriage make a mockery of the institution God originally set up as good and pleasing for a man and woman to enjoy.


Our names should have been written in judgment. Death, destruction, annihilation should have been levied upon heads because of our many sins.


However, God does not desire destruction upon the sinner. God calls to the sinner with his gospel message to bring peace and comfort. “Tell those who have a fearful heart: Be strong. Do not be afraid. Look! Your God will come with vengeance. With God’s own retribution, he will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:4). We do not need to fear the impending judgment of a fierce God wanting only to bring death. God speaks to our fearful hearts telling them to relax. We can rest easy in our Lord for he comes to save us. God delights much more in the saving of souls rather than in the destruction of souls.  The gospel message tells us this amazing news. Christ brings it to us through faith. We are saved.

The good news of refreshing peace and joy sweep over the guilt and shame that once stood against us. The punishment that our sins rightly deserve has been taken away. Vengeance was taken upon sin but not upon us. God brought the full fury of his anger against Jesus. He took the punishment upon himself for all our sins. Our hearts leap for joy. God’s anger has been turned away. We now live in peace. All our fear and worry melt away for we take our stand in Christ.


This flies in the face of human reason and logic. We look upon this world only to find so many things that cause us to fear and tremble. Natural disasters rage war against us. We see the results of devastating flooding and tornados in our surrounding communities. Our own health issues cause our hearts to become faint. Relationships among family members hang by a thread because of religious disagreements.


Be strong dear Christian! Do not lose heart during those difficult times. We know those troubles and trials will last only a short time. The natural disasters might rob us of materials but they cannot take away our faith. Our health dilemmas which weigh us down physically and emotionally will be done away with. Relationship struggles will prove difficult, but we need to strengthen our relationship with the one that truly matters. We can be strong for our Lord will come to save us. Our hearts leap for joy for our trials will turn to triumphs.


We can be strong. Our hearts can leap for joy for our Lord comes to save us. Rejoice my friends at the good news the gospel brings into our life. It is that message of the gospel that will transform our life.


Isaiah prophesied a completely different picture from his earlier picture of judgment and destruction. “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unplugged. The crippled will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy. Waters will flow in the wilderness, and streams in the wasteland. The burning sand will become a pool, and in the thirsty ground there will be springs of water” (Isaiah 35:4-7a).


The difference was night and day. A complete transformation happened. The arid wastelands now produce bubbling springs. The mute speak. The deaf hear. Many instances in the New Testament point back to this prophecy. When people ask who Jesus is, he told them to report what they saw. The people stood in awe at the times the lame walked, the deaf heard, and the mute spoke after being touched by Jesus. No normal person could do something like this. Jesus needed to be true God; he was the Son of God who came down to save us from our sins.


Those things do not happen today. I cannot, like Peter and John, make a lame person jump to their feet and run like a deer. The troubles and trials of this life will still haunt a person no matter how much encouragement given them. We long for this kind of transformation to take place but we cannot find it.


Even though we cannot see the outward action, it does take place. We just need to know where to look. We might not have our Lord healing all our physical ailments and doing away with destruction upon this earth, yet a great transformation takes place within the believer. It happens every time a person comes to faith. The dry wastelands of a sinful heart become springs of faith filled life. The person blind in unbelief sees the power of Jesus and his death for them.

A spiritual transformation overtakes our body. New life has been breathed into these dead bones. Our tongues, once silenced, shout the praises of the one who makes us alive. Our whole outlook on life changes. Our eyes now become open to the truth. The Lord gives new life to us.


Christ has transformed us so that we no longer will conform to this world. We need to take a strong stand against temptation. The assaults of Satan are met with the armor of God. The ways of this world hold no joy for us anymore. We are transformed. We live for God. We are strong in him.


When we place our trust in God’s power, then and only then will we find joy and contentment. Even amid the death and destruction of this world, we find peace. As we battle the sinful attitude of pride, we find selflessness. When friends put us down because we stand on the clear truth of God’s Word, we find contentment. Our Lord and Savior has transformed us. He has given us new life. We are strong. We are not fearful for our Lord transforms us.


Our hearts leap for joy. The excitement bubbles forth from our new heart of faith. Our God saves us. He frees us from the bondage to sin. Our God transforms us, so that we might live for him and no longer for ourselves. The excitement is real. Our hearts pound in our chest for our Lord has done it all for us. Amen.


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