Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Isaiah 22:5-11

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, February 5, 2008

5 The Lord, the LORD Almighty, has a day
     of tumult and trampling and terror
     in the Valley of Vision,
a day of battering down walls
     and of crying out to the mountains.
6 Elam takes up the quiver,
     with her charioteers and horses;
     Kir uncovers the shield.
7 Your choicest valleys are full of chariots,
     and horsemen are posted at the city gates;
     8 the defenses of Judah are stripped away.

Would God do this? Would God punish people? Even the pagans acknowledge that God is right when he punishes sin. Do we imagine, we who know the promise of heaven and of eternal life, do we imagine that once we have faith in our hearts, that such a faith can never be lost? Some of God’s people had lost their faith and now the Lord, the Lord Almighty, was coming…

Anyone who has ever lost the remote control knows the frustration and perhaps even the panic of suddenly being without what we once had. Does a similar feeling occur when our e-mail crashes, or our cars are in the shop for repair? Suddenly what we had is gone…and too many people know the agony of losing far more important things than a little plastic gizmo or access to e-mail or my wheels for an afternoon.

When a person turns away from God, his faith isn’t just dropped behind the couch. His heart is in grave danger of being hardened. But when people lose their faith, what do they turn to…?

And you looked in that day
     to the weapons in the Palace of the Forest;
9 you saw that the City of David
     had many breaches in its defenses;
you stored up water
     in the Lower Pool.
10 You counted the buildings in Jerusalem
      and tore down houses to strengthen the wall.
11 You built a reservoir between the two walls
     for the water of the Old Pool,
but you did not look to the One who made it,
     or have regard for the One who planned it long ago. (NIV)

Solomon built the “Palace of the Forest” and his Hall of Justice at the same time as the Temple, but he finished the temple first (1 Kings 7:2-6). It became an arsenal (1 Kings 10:17), a place for storing weapons.

The water system for Jerusalem was changed quite a bit in Isaiah’s time. King Hezekiah, fearing a siege from the Assyrians, wanted to be sure there was a decent water supply for the city. But the main well, the Gihon Spring, was outside the city walls. So Hezekiah blocked it off in some way and rerouted its water (2 Chronicles 32:30), making “the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city” (2 Kings 20:20). The feat was an amazing triumph of engineering, especially considering that the massive tunnel was cut in a meandering S-shaped curve from opposite ends through 1,700 feet of mostly solid rock to the Pool of Siloam. Some of this needed to be repaired in Nehemiah’s time (Nehemiah 3:15) but the water could still be used for bathing in Jesus’ day (John 9:7-11).

But God doesn’t want us to trust in fantastic feats of engineering. There has been talk of automotive bridges across the Atlantic Ocean, connecting Europe to Africa and even North America to Europe. There has been talk of a “tightrope,” essentially an elevator that could carry people and cargo to a platform orbiting the earth above the atmosphere and greatly cheapen the costs needed for spaceflights and the risk to human life. A university has broken the speed of light and there is now talk of being able to send matter instantly from one place to another. But if we don’t have faith, what will these 21st Century advances (and we’re only eight years in) benefit anyone? Without the One who made the world, without the One who planned all this long ago, we have nothing and we’re laboring for nothing.

Our reservoir must be the Living Water himself. Our building must be built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. Everything we store up needs to be with our hearts fixed on our Saving God. He is the one who will bring us safely through his day of tumult and trampling and terror. He is the one who has forgiven our sins.

He is the one we work for, because he labored and worked and poured himself out for us. We look to our baptism to be reminded of his love and forgiveness, and we return to his word and his sacraments so that our faith can be strengthened and renewed and made secure.

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.