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God’s Word for You

Isaiah 40:9-11

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, May 12, 2008

9 You who bring good tidings to Zion,
     go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem,
     lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
     say to the towns of Judah,
      “Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
     and his arm rules for him.
See, his reward is with him,
     and his recompense accompanies him.

When Aaron fell into sin on Mount Sinai, he made a golden calf and said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4). When the northern tribes broke away from Judah, King Jeroboam sinned in the same way, making golden calves to be the gods of the people (2 Chronicles 13:8). But the true God cannot be represented the way an idol can. He cannot be cast in bronze or sculpted in stone. Isaiah simply points to Mount Zion and shouts to the coming Messiah: “Here is your God!”

Zion itself was not always a city of the Israelites. We saw how David captured the city after he became King. The word “Zion” doesn’t even seem to be a Hebrew word; it’s probably a name from the language of the Jebusites who lived there before David captured it.1

Whatever its name means, Zion was the place where Christ was crucified for us. He died to remove the guilt of our sin forever. Behold, mankind: Your God!

11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
     He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
     he gently leads those that have young. (NIV)

God’s people are described three ways here: We are his flock, we are his lambs, and we are those that have young. God’s watchfulness and protection is over the whole flock, but it doesn’t just blanket most of us. He also watches over every single member of his flock. This includes those who are often left behind; left to fend for themselves. It includes the very small children, who are carried in the crook of his arm “close to his heart,” and it includes mothers who are still nursing their babies (NIV translates this term with “those that have young,” compare the same word as “cows that have calved” in 1 Samuel 6:7).

God cherishes us all. In his Divine Trinity, he shows his love to us in different ways, but it is always the same God who loves us and carries us close to his heart. The Father created us and sustains us, the Son gave himself for us and intercedes for us; the Holy Spirit shines his light on Christ at all times and puts faith in our hearts.

Three folds in my cloak,
     yet only one cloak do I wear.
  Three joints in my finger,
     yet only one finger is there.
  Three leaves on a shamrock,
     yet only one shamrock I bear.
  Three Persons in Godhead,
     yet only one God do I fear. Amen. 
               (Celtic prayer, between 450-700 AD)

1 ABOUT THE NAME “ZION”—No one is sure what this word means. There are word vaguely related to zion in Hebrew, such as ziun “monument,” (Jeremiah 31:21), zii “yelping desert creature” (“desert tribes,” Psalm 72:9), ziah “desert,” (Psalm 63:2; Hosea 2:5), and an Egyptian word on loan to Hebrew, zih “ship” (Numbers 24:24, cf. Gesenius Hebrew Grammar, page 269 §93y). Any one of these might have significance, and judging from other Hebrew place names, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it drew from several or all of these meanings. The -on part of the word is either a Semitic plural or a place-ending.

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.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.