Interim – the time between

Isaiah reframes the word “exile” as “interim”: the time between “things of old” and the “new thing” God is about to do. The prophet speaks a word of encourage to a community living in  an interim time.  “Thus says the Lord, the God who created you, Mt Zion, the One who got you started in the first place.”

You belong to me

“Do not be afraid.  I have called you by name.  You are mine.”  You belong to me. Saying “you are mine” is different than saying “I own you.”

  • I own you, the drug says to the addict.
  • I own you, the abuser says to the abused.
  • I own you, the mortgage holder says to the congregation.

The difference is … “When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.”  When you’re in over your head financially, or in over your head legally, or just simply in over your head, I’ll be there with you … because you are mine.

When you’re in a rough patch, you will not go down

“When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.”  When you find yourself going through a rough patch because the giving isn’t what it once was, or because the attendance isn’t what it used to be, or because the morale is low, you’ll not go down … because you are mine.

“When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end.”  When you find yourself immobilized and wondering, now what, it won’t be a dead end … because you are mine. God says, “I am the Lord your God, people of Mt. Zion.  You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.”

Precious, honored and loved

Precious in my sight:  “Behold the One beholding you, and smiling” (Anthony De Mello).

And honored.  You are valued, unrepeatable and irreplaceable, in God’s mission in the world.

And loved:  You are loved as is with all your brokenness, imperfections and incompleteness.

There’s plenty to fear

So, people of Mt. Zion, “Do not be afraid.”  It’s the most common phrase in all of Scripture. The Message is not, “have no fear, little flock.”  There’s plenty to fear.  The Message is don’t let your fear hold you back or keep you from moving forward.

The Message is don’t let your fear hold you back or keep you from moving forward.

“Thus says the Lord, the God who created you, Mt. Zion, the One who got you started in the first place.  Do not be afraid.  For I have redeemed you.  I have called you by name.  You are mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.  When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.  When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end.

I am the Lord your God.  You are precious in my sight, and honored, I love you.

Do not be afraid then, for I am with you always.”

~ Pastor Steven Wohlfeil, guest pastor


Text:  Isaiah 43:1-7 (The Message)

43 1-4 But now, God’s Message,
    the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
    the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
    The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
    all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
    That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
    trade the creation just for you.

5-7 “So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.
    I’ll round up all your scattered children,
    pull them in from east and west.
I’ll send orders north and south:
    ‘Send them back.
Return my sons from distant lands,
    my daughters from faraway places.
I want them back, every last one who bears my name,
    every man, woman, and child
Whom I created for my glory,
    yes, personally formed and made each one.’”

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