I still remember the joy on my grandma’s face when we would have Thanksgiving dinner plans all set, and she was sure that everyone was coming over to her place to celebrate as a family. She would clap her hands together, and say, “It’s all settled, then!”
I also recall the time when Julie and I paid our last payment on some credit card debt we had assumed. And I’m sure the look on both our faces was pure joy as we popped that last payment check into the mailbox. We had settled our debt.
Maybe some of you have been involved in a court case. Your attorney had advised you to settle out of court. You followed that advice, and on the day when the terms of the settlement were signed, you may have not been completely happy with the terms of the settlement, but it was sure good to finally put that lawsuit behind you.
I love the book of Isaiah, which we start reading today (if you’re on the one-year Bible reading plan with me, which I hope you are!). Isaiah is the Old Testament prophet with a missionary mindset. And he carries this missionary mindset out “glocally”. Sometimes he expresses a global concern. He reveals God’s heart for the unbelieving world, and reminds the children of Israel of their role to be a light to the Gentiles.
At other times, he shows that he has a more local concern. He encourages us to look more directly at our immediate surroundings for people who need us to stand up for them with the same kind of grace and care that God first shows to us. We have neighbors who need our help, and Isaiah encourages us to take up their cause.
Then, as Isaiah is so skilled at doing, he comes back to the “Why” for our concern — whether global or local. The reason why, the motivation for our love for others, is the gospel. It is the good news of God’s love for us, demonstrated in Jesus Christ.
We needed to be bathed and have our sins washed away. God gave us baptism.
We needed help to turn around and stop going down the wrong path. God gave us his word and with it, the Holy Spirit.
We needed to have our sins forgiven. God gave us Jesus, and with him, removed the scarlet stain of our sins. With our Savior Jesus, he made our souls as white as snow, as clean as the purest, newly-washed wool.
We needed to learn to respond to God’s love for us, to do right and to seek justice, as he has already done for us. God gave us neighbors near and far to practice on.
God has a firm plan to be celebrating Thanksgiving with us in heaven for eternity. Our debts are all paid in full. God’s case against us is behind us.
In others words, “It’s all settled, then!”
“Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord.
‘Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool'” (Isaiah 1:16-18, NIV).
Lord, thank you for cleansing me of all my sins. Thank you for taking up my cause. I was “fatherless” without you in my life, but now — with sins forgiven — I have a restored relationship with my heavenly Father. It’s all settled, due to the cross. The barrier of sin that stood between us has been removed. Help me to respond in gratitude by taking up the cause of those who are oppressed around me, near and far, locally and globally.
Our Bible reading for Wednesday, September 2, is Isaiah 1:1 – 2:22, 2 Corinthians 5:11 – 6:2 and Psalm 105:1-11.
Header image based on "Snow/Snor in Reykjavik" by Helgi Halldorsson, CC By-SA 2.0