Do You Even Know Me?

Message Title: Do You Even Know Me?
Theme: Heretics & Holy Prophets
Season: ORDINARY
Main Text: Isaiah 45:1-7
Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:15-22
RCL Scripture: Exodus 33:12-23; Psalm 99; Isaiah 45:1-7; Psalm 96:1-9, (10-13); 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22
Focus: God speaks through the prophet to King Cyrus.
Function: To worship God for his dominion has no bounds and to celebrate that God can use anyone for God’s purpose.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 22:15-22 15Then the Pharisees met together to find a way to trap Jesus in his words. 16They sent their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are genuine and that you teach God’s way as it really is. We know that you are not swayed by people’s opinions, because you don’t show favoritism. 17So tell us what you think: Does the Law allow people to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 18Knowing their evil motives, Jesus replied, “Why do you test me, you hypocrites? 19Show me the coin used to pay the tax.” And they brought him a denarion. 20“Whose image and inscription is this?” he asked. 21“Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” 22When they heard this they were astonished, and they departed.
LORD’S PRAYER

HERETIC: Anne Hutchinson

  1. This morning, on our last installment of Heretics and Holy People, we will look at the beginnings of Baptists.
  2. When we think about the first settlers to the Americas, frequently our first image is of pilgrims. But pilgrims weren’t the only ones who came to the Americas looking for a new life. A common misconception is blending or interchanging the word Pilgrim with Puritan.
    1. We frequently imagine puritans as pilgrims and looking like this:
      1. Photo- pilgrim stereotype
    2. Puritans more frequently looked like this:
      1. Photo- puritan, yep just normal people of that time.
  3. Hold on to the seat of your pants! We’re diving into the 1600s & 1700s today! WHOOOOO!
    1. Photo: Church Family tree, Separatists, & Baptists
  4. Briefly about Puritans
    1. Puritans believed that the Church of England needed reform or purification. They did not see a willingness for change, so many moved to the Americas for a chance to start things fresh.
      1. Correct living was a significant part of Puritan life.
    2. Puritans settled in Massachusetts and created a society fitting of their beliefs.
  5. Enter Anne Hutchinson: a puritan woman who pushed back on the structure of Puritan ways.
    1. As part of puritan custom, Anne Hutchinson hosted a discussion each Sunday at her house after the sermon. It started out as a conversation between women and slowly more people came to engage. The conversation shifted towards Anne teaching her thoughts in contrast with the sermon.
      1. One of the key figures listening to her speak was Roger Williams, one of the founding fathers of Baptists in America.
      2. Anne believed that puritan ministers were teaching salvation through obedience rather than through belief in Jesus.
      3. She preached about “soul freedom” or “soul competency” this meant God gave you everything you needed in your mind to be able to conclude that Jesus was the way. Laws shouldn’t exist to “make you” go to church to “find Jesus,” our hearts should bring us to that conclusion.
    2. Anne was pushed out of the puritan congregation, put on trial, and eventually banished from the colony accused of antinomianism (or being against laws). (wiki)

TRANSITION: Anne defied multiple teachings of her faith by 1. Speaking out as a woman 2. Questioning the teachings of her leaders and 3. Listening to God’s spirit in her own life. Her own people deemed Anne a heretic. Could we learn anything from outsiders? What could someone outside of the covenant have to say to “God’s chosen people?”

In our text for today we will hear God speak through the prophet “Isaiah”[1] to the conqueror of Babylon & King of Persia.

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 45:1-7

The Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whom I have grasped by the strong hand, to conquer nations before him, disarming kings, and opening doors before him, so no gates will be shut: 2I myself will go before you, and I will level mountains. I will shatter bronze doors; I will cut through iron bars. 3I will give you hidden treasures of secret riches, so you will know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name. 4For the sake of my servant Jacob and Israel my chosen, I called you by name. I gave you an honored title, though you didn’t know me. 5I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no God. I strengthen you—though you don’t know me6so all will know, from the rising of the sun to its setting, that there is nothing apart from me. I am the Lord; there’s no other. 7 I form light and create darkness, make prosperity and create doom; I am the Lord, who does all these things.

  1. Give a time jump from chapters 25-45
    1. TIMEMLINE
    2. Many years have passed since last week. Some scholars believe Isaiah has passed away by this point and one of his disciples takes overs recording the rest of the prophecy. Regardless, we hear a message from God to a King but it isn’t the king of Israel or Judah. This is the King of the Persian empire.
      1. Judah is now in exile because of Babylon.
      2. But Babylon has been conquered by Persia.
        1. Time has passed and God is saying something new. We’re hearing about hope again.
    3. As this passage unfolds, so are the books of Jeremiah, Lamentations, Daniel, and Ezekiel.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. “The Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus,”
    1. “The Lord says” –God is using “Isaiah” to speak
    2. Language used in reference to David now for a foreign king
    3. God is using Cyrus for God’s glory.
  2. “though you don’t know me…”
    1. “hidden treasures of secret riches”
    2. “I gave you an honored title, though you didn’t know me”
    3. “I strengthen you”
  3. “…so all will know… there is nothing apart from me,”

INTERPRETATION: God blesses Cyrus, intending to make God’s name known.

  1. I’m sure there are layers of questions building inside of you, if you’re anything like me. Israel/Judah are God’s chosen people. David is God’s chosen king.  Conquering nations destroyed Israel, David & Solomon are dead. Judah is in exile under Persian rule. Now what? How can there be hope when it seems the 12 tribes are in ashes?
    1. God had sent Judah into exile because they were not following through with the covenant. They were not just, righteous, or holy. They were selfish. They ignored the needs of the poor and the vulnerable.
    2. As God had prepared them to go into exile God was also making promises. This feels like the end because all you see right now is destruction, but something beautiful is coming.
      1. We hear about a remnant of Israel that will survive and thrive.
      2. We hear promises of the coming Messiah coming from the remnant.
  2. Can God appoint an “enemy” for God’s will?
    1. God uses the “enemy” of Israel for God’s purpose. God claims Cyrus’s reign for moral work.
      1. Now it’s important to note that Cyrus isn’t a perfect or infallible guy. Yes, Judah may return to Jerusalem under his rule and returns some funds to them so they can rebuild the Temple BUT that doesn’t mean he ONLY made moral choices.
    2. God used others before God used Cyrus. God used people & creation, even when they were considered “outsiders.” God has a habit of using the unlikely or “heathens” or “outsiders” for God’s glory.
      1. Hagar NAMES GOD! God blesses her and Ishmael.
      2. Balaam’s donkey (Bible study throw back)
      3. Jonah & the Ninevites (Bible study throw back)
      4. Even the rocks cry out (Jesus’ words)
    3. There is no doubt it is God at work when an unlikely candidate speaks God’s praises or performs God’s will.

APPLICATION:

  1. If we believe in an all-powerful God:
    1. Nothing and no one is outside of God’s charge.
    2. Nothing and no one is outside of God’s redemption story. 
  2. God will find ways for God’s light to shine through
    1. The Mission field: They retrained us in seminary to think about missions and what it means to serve God.
      1. A missionary does not bring God to a group of people. God is already there. A missionary is supposed to point out where God is already present in their world. A missionary connects the dots between culture and Christ.
      2. In Acts 17, Paul is in Athens. He walks into the pagan worship space and discovers a statue to “the unknown God” and then Paul tells the Athenians about the Unknown God.
        1. God was already present there. Paul named the God who was already there.
  3. Our world: I want the end of our study in Isaiah to leave you filled with hope amid uncertainty.
    1. The language we hear in the news and social media frequently leads to division and hopelessness. Bad news makes news companies’ money. There is motivation to stir up drama.
    2. But our God is in control.
      1. Perhaps you have anxiety about COVID or the election or finances or your job. Or Perhaps you have anxiety over the life choices of a loved one. Perhaps it feels like one immoral decision is all it will take for God to give up on you or you ruined God’s plan.
        1. “If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this. My beautiful friend, you are not that powerful.” – Lisa Bevere.
      2. God brought Judah back from the ashes. God used kings who had never heard God’s name. God can redeem any story.
    3. If you are sitting in a place of uncertainty for yourself, your country, or a loved one I want you to hear hope. Our God is more powerful, more compassionate, and more righteous than our best days. The story doesn’t end here but continues towards God’s redemptive plans.
  4. HERETIC: Anne Hutchinson had some extreme thoughts and acted in dramatic ways, but her actions laid the foundation for the Baptist faith.
    1. Her actions paved the way for Baptists and Quakers
    2. For the Puritans, Anne was an unlikely candidate for God to use. They preferred focusing on behaving in perfect ways rather than living in the grace of the Gospel.

CONCLUSION:

  1. *Check in * did anyone avoid using divisive language this last week?
  2. Moving forward: How could you open yourself up to hear from God through an opponent?
    1. Who could you listen to this week?
    2. How could God surprise you this week?

References:

  1. Websites & Articles
    1. http://epicworldhistory.blogspot.com/2012/04/roger-williams.html
    2. http://inamericanhistory.blogspot.com/2013/06/anne-hutchinson.html
    3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Hutchinson
    4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puritans
    5. https://bjconline.org/anne-hutchinson-monologue-2/
    6. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Puritanism
    7. https://www.biblequestions.org/bqar410.html
  2. Videos:
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiVzBUc4EJk
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fZtjeij2K4
    3.  

[1] By this time, much time has passed. Is Isaiah dead by this point? Who is officially writing this part of Isaiah? Likely a disciple of Isaiah.

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