FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT: TEAR OPEN THE HEAVENS AND COME DOWN
Sermon Text | Matthew 4:17-25
Devotional Reading | Isaiah 64:1-5 (below)
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence -
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil -
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.
Do you ever feel like God is silent? Do you ever wonder why he isn't answering your prayers to do something!? Maybe you've prayed for a job opportunity, victory over an addiction, the physical healing of a loved one, the well-being of your child, the realization of a dream, or the salvation of a friend or family member. If we're honest, at times we can get frustrated when God doesn't seem to be cooperating with our plan and timetable. This is the spirit of Isaiah's prayer and plea: "O that you would tear open the heavens and come down." His desire is for God to show up like he had in the past and perform his awesome deeds among Israel's adversaries.
In the calling of the first disciples (Matthew 4), Jesus began to break the silence and set in motion the awesome deeds for which Isaiah, centuries before, had pleaded. Later, Jesus will send out the twelve disciples with these instructions: "Go and announce... that the kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons" (Matthew 10:7-8). With the birth and ministry of Jesus, the silence was broken - God's kingdom was arriving, and his victory over sin and death had begun. The season of Advent reminds us that God is, has been, and will always be faithful.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Isaiah cried: "O that you would tear open the heavens and come down." Have you ever had a time when you felt God was silent - a time when you wanted him to act, but he didn't seem to be answering your prayers? Describe.
2. Jesus called and sent out the twelve disciples. How is God calling us to be ambassadors of his kingdom on earth? (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-20)
PRAYER OF RESPONSE
God of power unexpected, we want you to tear open the heavens and come down; to make mountains quake until all nations tremble at your presence! But you will not perform according to our wants and whims. Instead you are born among us as an infant. Instead you show us how love is made perfect in weakness. So will stay alert because we are your people and there is no other God besides you. Amen.