December 27, 2020
Pastor John Hering
20 Gather! Come! Draw near together, you survivors from the nations. They have no knowledge—those who are lifting up their idols of wood and praying to a god that cannot save.
21 Make an announcement and come close. Let them consult together. Who made this known ahead of time? From time past who announced it? Was it not I, the Lord? There is no god except me, a righteous God and Savior. There is no one except me. 22 Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth, because I am God, and there is no other.
23 I have sworn by myself. From my mouth a righteous word has gone out, and it will not return unfulfilled. Indeed, to me every knee will bow, and every tongue will swear allegiance. 24 “Only in the Lord,” they will say of me, “Only in the Lord is there true righteousness and strength.” To him they will come and be ashamed—all those who are angry at him. 25 In the Lord, all the descendants of Israel will be justified. They will be praised by him.
Proverbs 26:11 says, “As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his stupidity.” That’s a gross picture! It makes that something you rejected from your body is something you should eat again. But, as gross as this sounds the point is clear—it doesn’t make any sense! The Lord isn’t really concerned about the diets of dogs, but he is concerned about people doing things that make no sense—“a fool repeats his stupidity.” So, how did you do this past Christmas? Did you put up your Christmas lights and fail to remember what they represent? Did you purchase presents for those you love simply because you wanted to see the expression on their faces, or get a hug when they opened up their presents? Did you think, “Christmas is the season to be kind and generous to others,” as if charity had a season? It is the Sunday after Christmas and we are still living in the afterglow of Christmas. However, today the Holy Spirit gives us a bird’s eye view of the blessings of Christmas so we
Don’t Fall For the Cons of Christmas
Revealing our Natural Condition
Since the beginning of history mankind has all followed the same goal of life—to have a better life. Like Adam and Eve everyone wants to control what they can’t control and protect themselves from forces that are too big to conquer. Simply put, by nature we all want to be, and to benefit from being our own gods. This is easy to see in the religions people have created for themselves. For instance, karma says what goes around comes around and if you do good you’ll be rewarded. Having a rewarded life pushes people to work hard at doing good so they can have a better life. Others have created gods to serve and depending on how well you please them, sacrifice to them, and perform your rituals for them—then you’ll have a more protected life. Therefore, the Lord God calls to all people, “20 Gather! Come! Draw near together, you survivors from the nations. They have no knowledge—those who are lifting up their idols of wood and praying to a god that cannot save.” Now, while you may not be tempted to carve out an idol that represents a false religions, the seeds for false gods are lurking in our hearts and lives. Even while we know better, “a fool repeats his stupidity.”
Whether we are talking about the gods of Isaiah’s day—Assyrian gods, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, or Roman—they are no different than the gods inside the hearts of people today. The goal of many is to have control, be protected and survive, and hopefully survive with style. Here’s what it sounds like, “It doesn’t matter what kind of religion you have. That’s why I’m going to let my kids grow up and decide for themselves. What really matters is that they’re happy and healthy.” It’s vomit, but people eat it up anyway. It’s the same natural desire with which we are all born. We don’t know God or have faith in him. Our sinful nature opposes God and ignores his holy will. Yet, people run back to it again and again—sadly even more so as more and more people fall for the Cons of Christmas.
Therefore, while people are chasing after the false gods of this world, our gracious God goes to work. “21 Make an announcement and come close. Let them consult together.” As people recall God’s work in their lives, they also must admit to having false gods in their lives and in their hearts. Let’s pick on the god of the Babylonians—Marduk. What can this false god say for himself? Nothing! They were just conquered by the Persians and were under captivity! What can Marduk say about that? Nothing! He doesn’t know the purpose or have a plan for this captivity. He doesn’t know what’s happening next, tomorrow or next year. Can he hear you? You can carve bigger ears on his statue, but he hears nothing! Will he save? You can give him bigger hands, but he does nothing!
We confess our own false gods of materialism and love of money. We paint Benjamin Franklin with a green face, but what does he promise you? We confess our sins of having fallen for the con of money and worshipped it all too often. Or maybe it’s health? Maybe it’s the pleasures of this world or happiness? Can they redeem your soul? Maybe it’s a strong work ethic, but we all know our strength will not last forever. We confess that all too often we have fallen for the Cons of Christmas as God’s Word Reveals our Natural Condition. Therefore Isaiah comes with his saving message
Revealing our Need of Jesus
Our gracious God speaks his Word for our eternal benefit. He shows true control, protection and purpose. “23 I have sworn by myself. From my mouth a righteous word has gone out, and it will not return unfulfilled. Indeed, to me every knee will bow, and every tongue will swear allegiance.” Consider what we have learned from God’s Word. While we cannot touch him, he has touched our lives repeatedly! His Word reveals God’s love for us to create this world for our benefit. Our God has promised a lost and fallen people his faithfulness, his forgiveness and his salvation! Yes, there are times when these blessings are removed. Yet, even then he tells us why he removes those blessings for a time, to send into captivity. He explains the trouble of sin and calls us to repentance. “Who made this known ahead of time? From time past who announced it? Was it not I, the Lord? There is no god except me, a righteous God and Savior. There is no one except me.“ While the Lord God exposes sin, he is quick with his promises to turn the darkness into light. Our God is quick to point us to Jesus, the Savior of our souls!
Isn’t this amazing!? It makes us appreciate even more what God means when he says, “22 Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth, because I am God, and there is no other.” He planned our salvation, sent Jesus to carry it out, and brings the Good News of our Savior by the work of the Holy Spirit. He spoke words, he prophesied what would happen, he caused it to happen and revealed it to us so we would take note, be turned to the true God and be saved. “23 I have sworn by myself. From my mouth a righteous word has gone out, and it will not return unfulfilled.” God controls it all to point us to Jesus! God said Cyrus the Great would come and conquer—and it happened. God said the virgin would conceive and bear a son—and it happened. God said the Savior would be born in Bethlehem—he was. There is only one God found in a bed of straw for you. While the devil would like to distract you from the blessings of Christmas, don’t let him con you. Remain faithful to confess your need for Jesus.
Christmas—there it is hidden in plain sight. Jesus is our Redeemer, the one and only true God. Don’t let your eyes stray. Don’t let your ears listen to anything else. There are many idols calling you to leave the truth of God’s Word and follow the vomit of this world. Christmas brings salvation. Christmas lifts our voices to confess our faith, worship and praise our God! It is the confession Isaiah speaks of, “Indeed, to me every knee will bow, and every tongue will swear allegiance. 24 “Only in the Lord,” they will say of me, “Only in the Lord is there true righteousness and strength.” What a joy to recognize our need, and to recognize Jesus, our Savior!
The time has come for us to echo God’s invitation to all people! Just like Simeon, we have held our Savior Jesus in our arms of faith. God has made his case and given us proof through history, prophecy and fulfillment. It is the truth! It is a warning for all those who continue to return to the vomit of this world. No one can get around the only true God. All must answer to him on the Last Day for their unbelief. “To him they will come and be ashamed—all those who are angry at him. 25 In the Lord, all the descendants of Israel will be justified. They will be praised by him.”
Here is the sweet gospel of Christmas. You are the descendants of Israel, for you are all sons and daughter of God through faith in Jesus. Jesus isn’t the Con of Christmas, but the King of Christmas! You have not fallen for the Cons of Christmas, but you are living in the glorious love God has given to you in Jesus. May the Lord continue to confirm you in your faith and make us all resolute to share God’s Word with a world intent on being foolishly stupid. May the Holy Spirit turn all hearts to the peace and joy of Christmas. Amen!