The Day the Blind See and the Deaf Hear
13 Then the Lord said, "Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, 14 therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be concealed."
15 Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the Lord, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say, "Who sees us?" or "Who knows us?" 16 You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, that what is made should say to its maker, "He did not make me"; or what is formed say to him who formed it, "He has no understanding"? 17 Is it not yet just a little while
Before Lebanon will be turned into a fertile field, and the fertile field will be considered as a forest?
18 And on that day the deaf shall hear words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. 19 The afflicted also shall increase their gladness in the Lord, and the needy of mankind shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 20 For the ruthless will come to an end, and the scorner will be finished, indeed all who are intent on doing evil will be cut off; 21 Who cause a person to be indicted by a word, and ensnare him who adjudicates at the gate, and defraud the one in the right with meaningless arguments.
22 Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, "Jacob shall not now be ashamed, nor shall his face now turn pale; 23 but when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, they will sanctify My name; indeed, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. 24 "And those who err in mind will know the truth, And those who criticize will accept instruction. NASB
Why was Israel and Judah suffering under the hands of their enemies? They had turned their backs on the Lord. Yes they claimed to be God's people, and God claimed them to be His people. However, God chastises His children when they go astray as do all good parents.
From the beginning of their relationship with Him, God had told them they must honor Him and serve Him as their one and only God. They must listen to His commands and follow Him all the days of their lives. When they would fail, God promised they would go into captivity until they repented and put God back at the center of their lives.
Once again God was fulfilling His promise to chasten His children. Israel would be destroyed and Jerusalem would eventually be taken captive.
Isaiah reminds them, and us, about God's promise to love them and lead them. Here in chapter 29 God gives His assessment of His children. They were servants of God in name only. Their worship was lifeless and empty. They went through the rituals and did without thinking what they had been taught to do, but their heart was not in it.
Hundreds of years later, John, who was known as a preacher of repentance from these same attitudes and practices called the people of God to listen to God and return to a heartfelt religion. He preached to any one to listen and he even came to the attention of the king who had been set up to govern them by the Roman overlords. Herod received harsh rebukes from John and eventually John lost his freedom and his life because he spoke the truth to this man who did not want to hear it.
Herod took no account of God, and like the people Isaiah had described he did in public what many would only do in secret. He was living with his brother's wife. John was sentenced to prison and eventually was put to death because he called on this king to repent, even as he preached the message of repentance to everyone else.
While John was in prison and was most likely discouraged, his cousin Jesus had begun his ministry and His fame was spreading throughout the land. John sent his disciples to inquire of Jesus, “Are you the One, or shall we look for another?”
Jesus replied to John by quoting this passage of Scripture in Isaiah. He told the inquirers to tell John that the deaf were hearing and the blind were seeing. I am quite certain this encouraged John as he finished his time in prison and helped him to confidently face the death that awaited him.
Isaiah's words were words of hope for the people of his time and also for the people living when the Anointed One came to fulfill the prophecies of the coming kingdom of God. That kingdom has not come to an end and never will. We, the church of the living God, those who have been born of the Spirit, gain encouragement from Isaiah's words as well.
We would also do well to pay close attention to his admonishments and his descriptions of the people who were suffering because of their disobedience and lack of faith in God. It is easy for people of all ages to lapse into complacency and to forget why we are here. We have a tendency to get discouraged and forget who it is that we serve. Our worship becomes ritual instead of heartfelt praise and honor to Our Great and Awesome Lord.
God loves us, as He loved Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He loved David and Solomon and all their sons. He will not stand idly by as the people who are called by His name drift away from their first love. He will allow us to be chastened by the circumstances of life.
We have a choice. We can choose to see God's discipline as a sign that God does not love us, or we can choose to believe the truth that God is love and He will never stop calling us to return to honesty and truth and justice.
When God's people are living as they ought to live, the world takes notice. We begin loving God and loving other people. We begin to care for one another. We can love each other, because we believe that God loves us. We can begin obeying God out of love for Him when we believe that He loves us and wants what is best for us.
If we refuse to accept the truth of God's love, we have no good reason to listen to Him or to follow Him and worship Him.
God said of His people in Isaiah's day, “their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, 14 therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be concealed."
Therefore, because of this, that is because they were going through the motions of worship and their reverence for God was not real to them... Because of this God would do a marvelous work, a wondrously marvelous work. The wisdom of their wise men would perish and the discernment of their discerning men would be hidden.
We would like to think we are wise in our own right. We are not. Our world today is losing its moral compass. Our values are changing a little more every day. Violence increases. Those in power work to stay in power. This great nation founded on the idea of government of the people, by the people and for the people has gone the way of tyrants and dictators. Yes, we elect our leaders, but only to find they give in to pressure and lose sight of why they first entered politics. At least those who first entered it to make a difference lose their way. Hopefully there are still a few who at least start out that way.
So how do we change it? What can we do?
It is really not all that difficult. I summed it up to my brother once with the words Seek God. Ask God to help you find new meaning in His Word. That is the Bible, just in case you are not sure what I meant by His Word. Ask Him to melt your cold heart and to put new vigor in your worship and praise to God. Spend time with Him everyday. Recognize that HE is with you wherever you go and whatever you do.
Isaiah spoke of people who hide from God, who think no one sees them when they are alone. We are never alone. God is always with us. His Spirit will never leave us nor forsake us.
No matter how difficult you feel life has become for you, God has not deserted you. He is there, you just need to offer yourself to Him and acknowledge Him as your Savior and Lord. Jesus came to show us that God loves us enough to die for us. He came to open our eyes to the truth of God's love and mercy. He came to help you to hear God call out to you.
Perhaps you have never given your life to God. Today would be a great day to accept His love and the gift of salvation. All you have to do is admit your need of Him. Without Him we are living in sin. When we live lives that reject and spurn God, we are living as if God does not exist. Even the good things we do are as filthy rags to Him.
Most of what we do before we accept Christ, we do for selfish reasons. But God calls us to a life of love for Him and love for others. We need to admit we are sinners, living outside of a relationship with God.
Next we need to believe that God loves us and that He did send Jesus to live and die for us. That He came back to life after three days and has ascended back to heaven and reigns there as King of kings and Lord of lords. Trust that what Jesus did was sufficient payment for your sin.
Admit your need. Believe God can and wants to help you.
Lastly, we must confess Jesus as Lord of our lives. We confess it by saying it is true and by living as if it is true. God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit are the One God. As Father He is our creator and the loving head of His household. As Son, he offered Himself, became a man, and died in our place. As Spirit, He comes to live within our hearts to love us and lead us as we seek to serve Him.
Admit, Believe, Confess.
Perhaps you have come to realize that your worship of God has become more of a ritual than a heartfelt praise of our most Awesome God. God simply asks that you confess your sin and He is faithful and just to forgive you and to cleanse you from all sin.
Our altars are always open. You can come and pray here at any time. I hope this place, this sanctuary is a place of peace and joy and praise for each of you. I hope you will come to see these altars as a good place to come and lay your burdens at the feet of our Lord.
He will meet you here, no matter what you need. The people of God in Isaiah's time needed to repent and seek God with their whole hearts. The people who went out to hear John the Baptist heard a message of repentance as well. Perhaps, today, God is calling you to return to your first love, your wholehearted love for God. He invites you to seek Him.
Today could be the day the blind see and the deaf hear.