God my Savior

Henry Neufeld

1And you will say in that day:
“I will praise you YHWH. Though you were angry with me Your anger turned and you consoled me.
2God is my savior; I will trust, and not be afraid.
Because YHWH is my power and defense, And he will be my deliverer.”
3You will draw water with joy, from the wells of salvation.
4And you will say in that day:
“Praise YHWH! Call on his name! Let the people know about his deeds.
Proclaim that his name is exalted! 5Sing psalms to YHWH
For he has brought triumph. Let this be known throughout the world.
6Cry out and shout for joy, you who dwell in Zion,
For the Holy One of Israel is great among you.         Isaiah 12 (HN)

How is God different from human beings? I hope you get a laugh out of this question. How is God not different from human beings? He’s more powerful, more knowledgeable, larger, eternal rather than temporary. We have long words for all these things, but let’s settle for saying he’s so vastly different that we can’t really comprehend it.

But I want to focus on a very simple difference, one that we sometimes ignore. God is a redeeming God. God likes to take things that have failed, and make them a success. He likes to take people who have given up, been destroyed, or have been bent out of all recognition, and make them new.

I’ve quoted Isaiah 12, because it was part of my reading today. It’s one of those many, many texts that talk about how much God likes to save, and how we can count on him, in spite of our times of failure, to be a redeeming God.
Sometimes we see this “redeeming God” only in the New Testament, in Jesus. But that is far from the truth. From the time in Genesis 3 when God went to look for his rebellious children in the garden, God has been in the business of redeeming people. It’s a constant throughout scripture. Sometimes we read all the texts about judgment and get the idea that God spends all of his time in the Old Testament angry. But if you read carefully, even the angry parts are given with the intention of redeeming people.

One reason it’s hard for us to get this message of “redemption, redemption, redemption” into our heads is that we just don’t think that way. “Three strikes and you’re out” doesn’t just happen in baseball. For many of us it’s a theme of the way we deal with people. Redemption is just not a “natural” thing. Face it. If we had to deal with Judah at the time of the exile, we’d probably all wash our hands of the whole thing. “They’re off to Babylon now. Let’s go find someone who can do it right!” But God knows that his people are limited, and he doesn’t give up on good material. He calls them back from exile and goes right back to work on them.

Notice verse 3—you will draw water with joy from the wells of salvation. That tells us God’s plan for us. But I’d like to take it in another sense as well. Can we learn to be more and more like God on this point? Can we drink from the wells of salvation until salvation—redemptive grace—pours from us to others? Can we become just a little bit more like God on this?

And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.          1 Corinthians 3:18 (NRSV)

By his grace we can!

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