Rejoice in Your Riches
Sermon on Isaiah 61:10-62:3
2nd Sunday after Christmas
Rejoice in Your Riches
1. Your Robe
2. Your Righteousness
3. Your Royalty
Text: Isaiah 61:10-62:3
Happy New Year! Wait! What’s happy about this new year? It’s January 2 and I have already broken two of my New Year’s resolutions! The cost per barrel of oil continues to rise, which means that the cost of gasoline will probably keep rising. My house still has not recovered any value, and probably won’t for a long while. Flagler County still has the highest unemployment rate in Florida. Jobs are few and far between around here.
And it might be a new year, but a lot of my life situations aren’t changing. I still have the house payment, the car payments, the insurance payments, and the medical bills. I still have to stick to my tight budget or I will be in big trouble. I still can’t afford some of the nice things I’ve been wanting to get.
Happy New Year? For whom? Not for me! The economy is still terrible. Life is still a struggle. I’m still not rich. There’s nothing happy about 2011.
Friends, witness the miracle and the mystery of the Word of God. 2,700 years after the prophet Isaiah lived, his message is still living and breathing with relevance that we cannot ignore. In God’s timeless wisdom and powerful foresight, he planned that the Old Testament lesson for this morning would be so very appropriate for our lives and for a new year. As we look more closely at the words of Isaiah this morning, we can only but Rejoice in Our Riches.
There is no other day like a wedding day. We treat it as one of the most special days of our lives, which it indeed is. Often, no expense is spared when it comes to the wedding. The couple makes several stops to find the right hall for the reception. They taste-test the food and ask about the wait staff. They order a colossal cake that is ornately decorated. They pick out beautiful bouquets of flowers. The bride carefully picks out bridesmaid dresses that our fully fashionable, yet carefully coordinated in color. The groomsmen get to wear dapper tuxes, with the groom himself wearing one that is especially dashing to set himself apart.
Then there is the bride. She shops all around town. Sometimes she travels to other towns to shop around. The amount of time rarely matters. The amount of money rarely matters. When it comes to the wedding dress, that is often the focal point of the entire wedding. (The focal point should really be the service, but that’s not the way the world thinks!) Everyone looks forward to the moment when the bride appears at the back of the church, beautifully adorned in her wedding dress, looking like she is the most splendid and gorgeous woman in the world.
Did you know that the average American wedding costs between $20,000 and $30,000? Did you know that the average wedding dress costs $2,000-$5,000? Ah the wedding! What an important event in American culture! And at the center of this important event is the bride herself in her dress.
This is the picture that Isaiah is painting in our lesson this morning. First we hear great words of joy and praise in verse 10, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.” What causes such great delight and joy? Isaiah continues: “For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
When the bride prepares for the wedding, she does everything she can to make herself absolutely beautiful. She hides her blemishes with makeup. She gets her hair professionally styled. Her dress is perfectly fitted to compliment her figure.
The same has happened to all of us! We have plenty of blemishes in our lives. We all have plenty of things that we would like to hide. We have done things that we don’t want anyone to know about. We have said things that we completely regret. We have thought things that are vial, horrible, or disgusting. There are plenty of blemishes, or sins, in our lives that we would like to hide. The problem is that we cannot hide them from God. He knows all the wrongs we have done.
Yet the amazing thing about our God is that he has done something about it. He has covered over all of our blemishes for us. God sent his Son Jesus Christ to die for our wrongs. He sent his perfect Son to be our perfect substitute. He sent his Son Jesus to win forgiveness and salvation through his life and death. He accomplished just that at the cross on Calvary.
Yet Jesus has taken his love one step further. Not only did he earn salvation for the whole world, but he has individually dressed us in it! As Isaiah says, “He has clothed me with garments of salvation.” We have been dressed in the victory of Jesus Christ. We have been arrayed in a robe or his life and death. Now when God looks at us he no longer sees our anger, our greed, our slander, our envy, our discontent. When God looks at us he sees us beautifully dressed and adorned like a bride or a groom at a wedding.
This morning we join Isaiah and delight greatly in the Lord. We rejoice in our God. We Rejoice in Our Riches, for we have been adorned with a robe of salvation.
Righteousness can be a scary word. Righteousness means perfection or holiness. Righteousness is what God expects of us. Righteousness is what God demands of us. God wants us to be righteous in all that we do, and to be righteous in following all of his commands.
That is scary for two reasons. First, we know that we are far from righteous. We may be nice people at times. We may do some good things at times. But we know that we are far from perfect or holy. We have done so many wrong and shameful things in our lives that we cannot even imagine what it is like to be righteous.
Secondly, righteousness is scary because we know the alternative. God has decreed that if we are not righteous—not perfect and holy—like he is, then we cannot be in his presence. It is not possible for imperfect and sinful people to dwell in the presence of a holy and perfect God. Thus, the consequence for not being righteous is death and hell.
Yet again, this is why Isaiah delighted greatly and rejoiced in the Lord. Listen to verse 11: “For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.” Like a plant or a flower sprouting up out of the ground, the Lord has made righteousness spring up for us all.
This was only possible through Jesus. He is righteous. He is perfect. He is holy. And he is God. That’s why his death has so much value. Our death would mean nothing. But when our righteous and holy God gave up his life, that was enough to pay for all sins and to bring righteousness to us all.
So Isaiah continues to rejoice in the next chapter: “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.” Rather than being covered with the darkness of our own sins, we now shine out with the righteousness given to us by our Savior. We shine with the glory of what Christ has done. Verse two says, “The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.”
On Judgment Day when Jesus returns, all nations will finally see what our God has done. They will see that he has won righteousness and given it to those who believe in him. God has even given us a new name. With his own mouth he calls us his people, his loved ones, his children.
This morning we join Isaiah and delight greatly in the Lord. We rejoice in our God. We Rejoice in Our Riches for we have been given the righteousness of Christ.
Yet still there are times when our sinful nature gets the best of us. We know what God has done. We know that he has dressed us with salvation and righteousness. We know that our sins have been forgiven. Yet we still lose focus. We become down and depressed because we don’t have the things we wish we had. We wish our lives were easier. We wish we could live a little more comfortably. We wish we could do some of the fun things that others can do. We wish we could enjoy life a little more.
Isaiah redirects our attention and helps us to refocus today. Listen to the last verse: “You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.” Our God loves us so much that he treats us as the most special and precious of treasures. We should be treasuring God in such a way. Yet he is the one who treasures us. He sent his Son to die to pay for our sins. He adopts us into his family as his own children. He prepares a place for us in his heaven for us to live. He gives us thrones to sit on to rule with him for all eternity. There is nothing that God loves more than how he loves his own dear children.
Though we have no value of our own, God has valued us with the life of his own Son. Though we have nothing to give to our God, he has given us everything. That’s why Isaiah says we are like a crown of splendor that he gently holds in his hand. We are like a royal crown or diadem that he guards and protects.
This morning we join Isaiah to delight in the Lord. We rejoice in our God. We Rejoice in Our Riches and the royalty of heaven that God has given to us.
It’s another new year. It’s 2011. It might not feel any better. It might not feel special. We might not have any riches or splendor or glory in this world. But who cares! God has forgiven all of the wrongs that we have done. He sacrificed his Son for us that we might be dressed in salvation and beautifully adorned in his righteousness. He loves us as his dear children. He treasures us as his most valued possession. And the riches and glories of heaven await us. This is going to be a happy new year. This is going to be a happy life. We are rich through Christ!
If you would like a copy of this sermon to print or to share, click here.