Near to Hear and Help Us
Grace, mercy, and peace…
Today we’re going to see how God is near to hear and help us. It’s based on our Old Testament, Isaiah 50, especially verses 7 and 8: The Lord God helps me… He who vindicates me is near. And on Psalm 116:1-2, I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice, and my pleas for mercy. Because He inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.
Growing up on a farm, there was always something to do outside, both farm chores and play time. Growing up near a river, we often played there and went exploring; it was a child’s dream place to grow up.
In the midst of our explorations, we would sometimes hear our mother’s voice in the distance, calling us back home for supper, or to do chores, or whatever. The farther away we got, the more we had to strain to hear her. We knew not hearing her was no excuse; we learned that lesson.
In the same way, the farther we get away from God and His Word, the harder it is to hear what He has to say to us, the words that can help us in life.
Our sin has taken us far away from God. But the Gospel, God’s Word to us, brings us back close to Him, where we can hear him again, and receive His help in our life.
In our Old Testament today, the servant of the Lord, as he’s called, or suffering servant, says, The Lord has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious. In other words, God spoke and I heard and obeyed.
He goes on and says, I gave my back to those who strike and my cheek to those who pull out the beard.
This is talking about the suffering servant, Jesus, who willing gave his back to be flogged, and his hands and feet to nailed to the cross for us.
Although His Father forsook him on the cross, and allowed his enemies to torture and kill him, in the end, His Father rescued him from his enemies by raising him up in His tomb, and glorifying Him forever. That was His vindication. As verse 8 says, He who vindicates me is near.
Jesus endured that time when God was silent toward him, so that God would never be silent toward us, that he would always be near and hear us.
There’s no “silent treatment” toward us from God. He clearly gives us his law to correct us when we need it, and his gospel to comfort us. There’s no hidden meaning or guile in his words. He says what he means, and he means what he says.
In our Epistle, James addresses the way we speak; how we use our voices, and what we do with our words. And he warns us about how piercing and harmful our words can be.
In verse 5 he says they can be like a raging fire that burns down a forest.
In verse 8 he says our words can be full of deadly poison.
In verse 9 he says we can bless God or curse people with our words.
In verse 10 he says our words can be like fresh water giving life, or salty or polluted water bringing death.
God, whose words to us have no evil in them, words that are sincere and trustworthy, words that are NOT filthy or polluted, but holy and true, they are the words to embrace, and the words to copy.
God speaking to us in love and truth, not only brings us the words of eternal life, as we sometimes sing in our Alleluia verse, they also teach us how to use OUR words in a way that that’s a blessing to others, and not a curse to them.
When we use our words in an evil way, it fails to reflect God’s words of love and truth, and it shows our selfish nature.
When you truly respect others, then you don’t expect them to have to listen to your foul language, or your mean words, or your dishonest words, or your exaggerations, or your lies, or your rudeness.
Those are not the kind of words a person wants to hear, and listen carefully to, and take seriously. Those are the words to dismiss.
But words that are patterned after God are the words we can trust, and learn from, and listen to. They are the words that respect and honor us, and bless us.
In our Gospel today, we see another of the great miracles of Jesus, as He healed a boy possessed by a spirit and afflicted by seizures, and uncontrolled, reckless behavior.
The disciples had tried to cast it out but couldn’t. The boy’s father said to Jesus, “If you can do anything about this, then please have compassion and help us.”
Jesus said, “If you CAN? All things are possible for the one who believes.”
The man said, “I believe, Help my unbelief.” That’s the cry of every Christian. Then Jesus commanded the spirit, and the boy went into severe convulsions, and the spirit left him.
When the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t do it, Jesus answered, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” In other words, it takes God.
And this takes us back to our theme of calling out to God, and God hearing and helping us.
I love the way Psalm 116 puts it: Because He inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.
The image here is of God, bending over, getting close to us, and hearing what we have to say.
When there’s faith, as Jesus says in our Gospel, then we’re never too far away for God to hear us. He hears and considers every word we say to him, for Jesus sake.
Because Jesus gave his back to beaten, as our Old Testament says, and his hands and feet to be nailed, because he won our vindication, our forgiveness, God now hears our every word to him, and considers our every need.
God is near to hear and help us. Therefore let us call upon him as long as we live, as our Psalm says.
He never tires of us calling to him for help. He never fails to forgive, when we confess our sins and call on him to have mercy on us. So let us call upon him as long as we live.
Ultimately that’s forever. In heaven, God will be near in every way, not just by faith, but also by sight. And we’ll be able to see the One we call out to.
The difference is, in heaven, there’ll be no evil to be rescued from, no sin to be forgiven. But there will be a talk back and forth with God; and we’ll love every word he says to us, and take it all in; and every word we say to him will be pure and happy and sincere, no guile or double meaning, just the truth.
Since God is near to us; since he’s careful to listen to us, and compassionate to help us, let us hear what others say; let us hear when they call for our help, and care enough to give it; let us be careful to listen when they others say something we need to hear, and consider, and learn from.
As we call to God for help, let us also be willing to ask others for help when we truly need it; and be willing to let others come close and help us.
Our God is near. He inclines his ear, bends over to hear our every word; and He cares to help us with our every need. Let us use our words to thank Him, to make known the good news of his loving care and kindness for all, and to rejoice in the help He gives to us in body and soul and in every way.
As God is careful to listen to us, let us be careful to listen to Him, to hear the words that give faith, and strength, and comfort, and finally that give us the peace that passes understanding. May that peace guard your heart and mind, in Christ Jesus our Lord, who is near to hear and help us. Amen.