Preached by Rev. Paul Lantz on January 20, 2013
“You Shall Be Called By a New Name”
What would be a name you would use to describe or call the people of Massachusetts? If you’ve been to Logan Airport on the walkway from parking garage to Terminal A, you’ve probably heard the voice of Governor Patrick. These are the words he uses to describe the people living in this state; creative; informed; good humored; determined
Words of a politician… they’re good words… but if you’ve lived here for any length of time (and driven on I-93 in rush hour) you know there exists another list. You could just as easily call the people who live in this state:
… bad tempered
So, which list is true? Depends… depends on our disposition… depends on the circumstances of any given day…
The problem is that it reveals our human tendency to simple do “whatever we think is best for us… not our neighbor.” That inevitably leads to all kind of sin and evil.
Now, the Good News is that in God’s Word we can see there does exist a solution for the evil in this world… the evil in our own lives… it’s by no means an easy solution, but it is the only way to find real peace.
The solution is found in the words we heard this morning from prophet Isaiah, “You shall be called by a new name…” In order to really understand what that solution means, we need to go back and dig a little deeper into the meaning of Isaiah 62…
First let me share some context. Isaiah was a prophet for 59 years in Israel and spanned the reign of 4 different kings. His message was simple…“repentance”. Repent of what??? “Hypocrisy”… living a double life… saying one thing and doing another.
Israel had forgotten their roots… forgotten the origins of their faith… Spiritual Alzheimer’s had taken hold… (unfortunately it sounds all too familiar with the current state of our culture here in the USA)
Eventually, the message of the prophet became this… “God’s judgment cannot be avoided.” The northern part of the country was conquered by the Assyrians… and eventually even the southern part (Judah) also fell. Only a small remnant of the people remained.
Listen carefully to the words of the prophet Isaiah because even though they were written around 2800 years ago… they do have a very pertinent message for us today!
Isaiah 62: 1-5
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
- What is God’s motivation for the prophet’s message? “for love”… It’s out of love and concern these harsh words must be spoken.
- The motivation also reveals the determination of God saying “I will not give up” on these people.
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, (the dawn) and her salvation as a burning torch.
- What is the objective of the prophet’s message?… drive out the darkness in our lives. (lies, abuse, suffering)
The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.
- What is God’s solution to our evil? GIVE US A NEW NAME AND THAT MEANS A NEW LIFE (Just like when our parents gave us a name at our birth)
- Can you think of any other Biblical examples of someone getting a new name?
- How about Saul / Paul? He was a despicable person going around killing people who followed Jesus. The he saw the light. A blinding light for which the voice of God asked, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you?”, he responded. “Jesus” –
- In that brilliant light the first step of what is means to receive a new name and new life was revealed. WE MUST ACCEPT OUR SIN. (No more excuses) Paul swallowed his pride and recognized that he was guilty of sin.
- However, later that same Paul wrote about his new life in Romans 9: 25…
As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people’, and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved’.”
Does that sound like “OLD NEWS” to you?
“Saved by grace through faith…” (yawn/yawn)
Sometimes we need to meet someone like KARI… She is a new Chinese immigrant that has been just one month in the US. Believe it or not, this week she walked into First Lutheran and said in her broken English, “This is the first time in my life that I’ve been in a church. What do you do here?”
Imagine how happy I was! We talked about God’s Word in the Bible. She couldn’t even pronounce “God.” She said, “Gawrd.” She knew practically nothing about Jesus. What a joy to answer her questions… take her to the alter and tell of the passionate gift of Jesus, walk to the baptismal font share how to receive new life, and go to the pulpit and explain the precious message of the gospel! There are so many people, like Kari, that are dying to receive God’s grace. Never tire of bringing that message to others…
Look at the beauty of the message God gives us…
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
- What’s a “diadem”? Not actually a crown, but more a royal headband – “ring for our head”… It’s a reminder of an engagement ring (everlasting love).
- Another Biblical example of one who received a new name is Simon / Peter… Remember his denial of Christ three times? And then Christ forgave him three times saying, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”
- Same man, but with a different name… and with his new life he wrote…
- Read I Peter 2: 9-10…
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
- Peter’s testimony reveals the second transformation that happens when we get a new name… WE RECEIVE OUR SAVIOR! We don’t just accept our sin. We finally receive the one who has paid in full for all of our foolish and hurtful actions.
- After receiving a new name there is one thing we need to humbly remember… STOP MAKING EXCUSES…
As Brennan Manning writes, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”
Today one of the most glaring examples of our hypocrisy is this:
- 40 years ago this country legalized killing babies (abortion)
- 55 million dead… How can we be surprised with tragedies such as Newtown when we – as a country – refuse to take a stand and defend the most innocent of lives?
- We appear to have lost the appreciation for the true value of life.
- We need a new name!!
- Let me share the example of two women…
The first woman’s name is Pattie. Unfortunately, she suffered sexual abuse as a child. She took to drinking, drugs at a young age and eventually became found herself with a teenage pregnancy. Overwhelmingly, people encouraged her to abort.
However she says, “I just knew I couldn’t. I just knew I couldn’t. I just knew I had to keep him.”
She confessed, “I didn’t know how I was going to do it. But I just knew that I couldn’t abort. I had to do my best, and I was determined to do whatever it took.”
Her baby’s name was going to be Jesse… but she changed it to Justin…
His last name is Bieber.
You don’t have to be a parent of a world famous pop star to have an important testimony…
- We have a dear friend none of you has met that unfortunately didn’t make the same decision as Pattie. She had an abortion. She suffered for years with overwhelming guilt and profound sadness. Her only relief came from receiving a new name. God gave her new life when she cried out for forgiveness. Now, she volunteers to help others avoid the suffering she experienced.
- Remember I warned that this solution to receive a new name was not easy… It’s not easy to accept our shame… It’s not easy to deal with the consequences of our sin…
- But… it is the only way to find the real healing we crave and receive the real peace all humans long for.
- When we (1.) accept our sin and (2.) receive our Savior, then we can hear our NEW NAME.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
JESUS CHRST is the one who took our place on the cross. He is the one knows the full terror of being abandon by God when in utter agony he proclaimed, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
- “My Delight is in Her”… that’s our new name because of Jesus! God Almighty now finds pure joy when he looks at us.
and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
May our hearts be open to hear the prophet’s voice today…
May we honestly… Accept sin. May we graciously…Receive the Savior
And, by the way… What should the new name of people living in Massachusetts be???
I like… “Forgiven Sinners”
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.