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God’s Word for You

Isaiah 26:1-6

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Song of Praise

26 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
We have a strong city;
     God makes salvation
     its walls and ramparts.
2 Open the gates
     that the righteous nation may enter,
     the nation that keeps faith.
3 You will keep in perfect peace
     him whose mind is steadfast,
     because he trusts in you.

“That day” is the day of the coming of the Lord. Isaiah looked forward to the time when the Messiah would come, just as we look forward to the time when the Messiah will come again. The Lord’s coming gave us proof that “Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch” (Zechariah 9:8). It also showed God’s people that “He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him” (1 Chronicles 5:20).

4 Trust in the LORD forever,
     for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.

The word “rock” here is zur, “rock, cliff, block, boulder.” It’s one of several words for “rock” in the Bible, sometimes just a rock (Proverbs 30:19; 1 Kings 5:15), and sometimes a name (“Zur,” a tribal chief of a Midianite family, Numbers 25:15, 31:8; Joshua 15:54) or part of a name (“Zuriel,” a Levite who’s name means “My Rock is the Lord,” Numbers 3:35). The hill where Jerusalem was built was described as a “rocky plateau” (Jeremiah 21:13), but then again, the divine foundation of our faith is also the Rock of our Salvation: “The Rock” who is our God.

         Deuteronomy 32:15 The Rock his Savior.
         1 Samuel 2:2 There is no Rock like our God.
         2 Samuel 22:32 (Psalm 18:31) And who is the Rock except our God?
         Psalm 62:6 He alone is my rock and my salvation.

And he is the Rock that Daniel saw, too (Daniel 2:45), the Rock that breaks the kingdoms of the world and made even King Nebuchadnezzar confess that God is the “God of gods and Lord of kings.”

5 He humbles those who dwell on high,
     he lays the lofty city low;
he levels it to the ground
     and casts it down to the dust.
6 Feet trample it down—
     the feet of the oppressed,
     the footsteps of the poor. (NIV)

Too often it is the poor who get stepped on. Too often people turn their eyes away, because people who have no voice are soon forgotten if they cannot be seen. But God sees. God knows. God warns: “If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still” (Ecclesiastes 5:8). And God promises in the final verses of Zephaniah: “At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the LORD” (Zephaniah 3:19-20).

Here in Isaiah’s song, look carefully at who is doing the trampling: It is the very feet of the oppressed and the poor. God will turn the tables in the world. But God isn’t talking about politics. God isn’t talking about social change in America in the next election, or in Cuba, or in Kosovo. God is talking about the crushed lives of sinners, who have put their trust in Jesus. We know our faults, and we know our sins. We need a Savior—and we have the only Savior, the Rock of our Salvation. He has opened the gates and invited us in. He has given us perfect peace.

Note: Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir, but we also need to remember that although Jesus renamed Simon to be “Peter,” it wasn’t because he was going to build his church on Peter; it was because he was going to build his church on Peter’s rock-solid confession: “But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say that I am?” Simon (Peter) answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon Barjonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are petros (solid bedrock), and on your petra (your rock-solid confession) I will build my church…” (Matthew 16:15-18). Greek nouns have gender, and a feminine noun like petra would never be used to describe a man, especially when he has just been referred to by a masculine noun, petros. Both words mean “rock,” but clearly the feminine noun petra is describing Peter’s words (his confession that Jesus is the Christ), not Peter himself.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

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