Monday, March 17, 2008

Isaiah, Chapter 52

At my church yesterday, we had a lesson in what it is to be a lukewarm Christian. We have recently been in a sermon series dealing with the seven churches that receive letters in the book of Revelation. Yesterday was the last church in that list, the church in Laodicea. This entire series has been fascinating, so much that I am considering it as my next topic after Isaiah. This final letter to Laodicea is a warning against being a lukewarm Christian. It is Revelation 3:14-21, and paints a pretty ugly picture for how Christ feels when we do not have our entire hearts attuned with him. Basically, we can do many things for Christ, but what matters most is where our hearts lie in tune with what he wants. One of the worst things we can do is simply "play Christian" while not being totally consumed by Christ. He asks us to be hot or completely walk away, not to sit in the middle. The beautiful thing is that even as He rebukes us here, He is knocking, asking to come fully into our hearts and change our lives.

I feel this relates to today's chapter 52 in Isaiah because it feels like a lukewarm type of chapter, but I am praying this morning that God will work in my heart and reveal its truth. Friday's writing was short because I felt the message clearly stated what God wanted us to get out of it. Today's chapter is not as clear, but it is a continuation of Friday's theme of everlasting salvation. I call it lukewarm because I am not exactly sure what to do with it.

 3 For this is what the LORD says:
       "You were sold for nothing,
       and without money you will be redeemed."

 4 For this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
       "At first my people went down to Egypt to live;
       lately, Assyria has oppressed them.

 5 "And now what do I have here?" declares the LORD.
       "For my people have been taken away for nothing,
       and those who rule them mock,"
       declares the LORD.
       "And all day long
       my name is constantly blasphemed.

 6 Therefore my people will know my name;
       therefore in that day they will know
       that it is I who foretold it.
       Yes, it is I." – Isaiah 52:3-6

What does it mean to be sold for nothing? This is easily a metaphor for sin. In the end, sin is nothingness. It is worthless, yet it is what keeps us in bondage and separates us from God. It is worthless because it has no value in God's economy. Here, we see a correlation with the passage in Revelation 3 because the people of Laodicea were wealthy and proud of it. Their wealth meant nothing, however, because we cannot be redeemed through wealth. Even though we suffer and are ridiculed for being God's people, we are redeemed only through the blood of Christ.

This is why I believe that if you truly have God in your heart, it is impossible to be just a lukewarm Christian. We see here that following God means we offer ourselves to persecution because we separate ourselves from the world. Here in Isaiah, we have seen the Israelites deal with both the Assyrians and the Babylonians, yet those that stayed true to God were delivered through this suffering. Those that tried to adapt and welcome the invaders are the ones that suffered the most. They were being lukewarm when they tried to play both ways against the middle, and God cast them out.

From my personal experience, however, I have seen that accepting this redemption is truly a life-changing event. Once we do this, I think it is impossible for us not to grow further and become lukewarm. God won't let us because we have made the decision to ask Him into our hearts and redeem us. When that happens, it is almost like a physical transformation takes place. I think of the scene at the end of The Matrix Revolutions where Neo finally accepts the piece of himself that he lost to agent Smith. It is like fully accepting God into our hearts. When it happens, the Spirit just pours out of us in an explosion of light like it does with Neo in the real world. Once we accept the Spirit of God, it consumes us totally and we cannot contain it.


  1. What does it mean to be a lukewarm Christian?
  2. How do Isaiah's warnings and the warnings from Revelation relate?
  3. Do you feel you are lukewarm?

No comments: