Isaiah 44:6-8 -9th Sun. after Pentecost-a


No Other Rock

Isaiah 44:6-8

Christianity has always faced the opposition of pagan religions, and yet, there is but one True religion, for there is but one True God. In great boldness, Christianity has always claimed an exclusiveness that the world finds repugnant, but she does so only because her Lord claims that exclusiveness Himself. Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God, the only-begotten of the Father, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but by Me,” and even so, God says, “Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

Christianity is exclusive, in that it worships the only True God and it teaches that there is no other way for a man to be saved from his sin apart from the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Christianity is exclusive because it claims to be the only Truth in a endless sea of pseudo truths. It is exclusive because it’s message is one of grace, when all other religions offer only a message of salvation by works.

At the same time, Christianity is inclusive, because it calls all men to be saved. “God would have all men to be saved (the Apostle writes) and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever (white, black, brown, rich, poor, beautiful or ugly) that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” “There is no other name given among men by which we must be saved,” and this One given among men cries out, “Come unto Me all of you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Christianity is exclusive, and yet, at the same time it is inclusive. For so many years God’s people of old, Israel, taunted Him with her waywardness, and with her tendency to seek help in her battles, not from God, but from other nations and even from other deities. In her actions Israel showed herself unfaithful in the exclusive claim of her God. In Isaiah’s time, it was Ahaz, the King of Judah who taught his people such unfaithfulness. Sensing a threat from the nations to his north and east, namely, Assyria and Babylon, Ahaz sought to make alliances with other nations, rather than to stand his ground in the fear and trust of God, confessing that there is no other God besides Him, and that He is the only Rock upon which the people could and must stand.

The word of God’s displeasure came to Ahaz and ultimately to the people of Judah through Isaiah, the prophet. “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, Nor seek the Lord!” “Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward.” “Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock.”

God will not share His dominion, His kingdom with any other so-called god. Israel found that to be true when God allowed other nations, pagan nations, to come in and destroy Jerusalem and her Temple. Assyria and Babylon became instruments of God’s chastening, that His people would understand that He shares His throne with no other god and that apart from Him there is no other hope of salvation. Indeed, “Let all the peoples of the earth know (God says) that the Lord is God; there is no other.”

Tolerance is one of the “watch words” of our day that makes God’s word in Isaiah 44 so relevant to us. Tolerance, in all things, is said to be a great virtue. That doctrine, or belief, really puts Christians in a difficult position at times. Certainly in our society, in our culture, we are surrounded by various religions. The classic statement made by those who don’t understand the Gospel of Christ, who don’t see that the only way to be reconciled to God is through the blood of His Son, is this, “all religions are the same, they are all worshiping the same God, but in different ways.”

A case in point is a letter to the editor taken from a recent issue of our own Synodical magazine, The Lutheran Witness. The letter is in response to an article in a previous issue, in which a pastor of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod said that “all other gods are false gods, nonexistent, the figment of men’s imagination.” The individual responding to that statement in the letter to the editor writes, “If Islam and Judaism believe in the God of Abraham, and the God we Christians believe in is the God of Abraham, how can you say the God of Abraham is a figment of men’s imagination? ”The answer is simply this, God, as He has revealed Himself to us in the pages of His word, is a Triune God; He is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All three of the Creeds of the Church so clearly confess that teaching, and martyrs have gone to their graves defending it. To put it somewhat crudely, God is package deal, meaning, you cannot claim to worship the Father, this God of Abraham, and yet, at the same time reject the Son and the Holy Spirit. Does the follower of Islam or Judaism worship the same God as the Christian? Not according to Jesus, who says, “No one comes to the Father but by Me.” Indeed, “and we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God…” and “whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father.”

How should we Christians handle a form of religious tolerance that suggests that all religions are the same, or that all religions are equally valid? What should our view of the world’s religions be, knowing that Christianity is exclusive and that there is only One True God, and only “one Name given among men by which we must be saved?” Well, to begin with, we are, as the text from Isaiah says, to be “God’s witnesses,” “Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

As those called out of this world of darkness into God’s marvelous light, we, you, have been given the privilege, and the duty, to declare the wonders of God’s salvation in Christ. While we might, in the end, respect a person in their belief, we never give credence to that belief, for since God is true, all others will be found to be liars. Our place, in this maze of world religions, is to be faithful to the True God, it is to call the world out of darkness into the rays of the marvelous light of Christ. It is to say, in all boldness, “there is no God’s besides Him. Indeed, there is no other Rock.”

Tolerance never brings a person to faith! Tolerance never rescues a man’s soul from the fiery pit of hell! Tolerance may bring temporary peace, but it will never bring lasting, eternal peace! “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and His Redeemer, the Lord of hosts; I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.” This is He who gives faith! This is He who rescues a man, be he white, black, brown, rich, poor, beautiful or ugly, from the fiery pit of hell! This is He who brings peace, lasting, eternal peace!

God; Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, is the Rock and there is none other. On the day when God rescued David, His servant, from all his enemies, David confessed this and nothing less; “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge, my Savior.”

God’s claim’s are exclusive, for He will share His throne, His dominion, with no other god. But this same God, the Rock of your salvation, calls you even today, to “come unto Him” with your burdens, with your troubles, and most importantly with your sins, and as your rock, He will crush all that would crush you. He will render impotent that which would threaten to harm you. Indeed, on the cursed Cross He Himself was crushed, and that broken body and flowing blood He gives you today that you might have, in them, and along with them, His forgiveness.

And that is what it all boils down to; forgiveness, that is. No other religion in all the world offers “salvation by grace through faith,” in fact, some even find the forgiveness of God to be repugnant, something that is beneath the image of the god that they have created in their own minds. The True God however makes Himself known as the sin of the sinner, and the righteousness of the unrighteous. And in that, He shows Himself to be the only Rock. “Oh come (then), let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation, Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.”

Amen.

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