Sermon for 10.22.23 “Trusting against all odds”

Pentecost 21 (Proper 24), Oct. 22, 2023
Text: Isaiah 45:1–7
Theme: Trusting against all odds
Other Lessons: Psalm 96:1–9 (10–13); 1 Thessalonians 1:1–10; Matthew

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Old Testament lesson from Isaiah 45 serves as our sermon text for
this morning.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
LSB 745 In God, My Faithful God (stanzas 1-3)
In God, my faithful God,
I trust when dark my road;
Great woes may overtake me,
Yet He will not forsake me.
My troubles He can alter;
His hand lets nothing falter.

My sins fill me with care,
Yet I will not despair.
I build on Christ, who loves me;
From this rock nothing moves me.
To Him I will surrender,
To Him, my soul’s defender.

If death my portion be,
It brings great gain to me;
It speeds my life’s endeavor
To live with Christ forever.
He gives me joy in sorrow,
Come death now or tomorrow.


A. Isaiah saw a dismal day ahead.
1. Yes, it would be more than a century after his lifetime, but it would
deeply affect his people.
2. Judah would be carried off to captivity in Babylon.
3. The city of Jerusalem would be laid waste, all the way to the ground.
4. It would seem to be the end for God’s people as a nation; countries
simply didn’t rise again from this kind of death.
5. Worst of all, the line of kings, successors of David, from which the
Lord’s Messiah was to come, would be cut off.
B. And yet, Isaiah also saw that there was hope.
1. Against all odds, Judah would come home.
2. Jerusalem and the temple would be rebuilt.
3. And somehow, God would continue the line of the Messiah, the Savior.
C. But here’s the really remarkable thing about our text.
1. Isaiah sees that the Lord would accomplish this through another
“messiah” (lowercase m), another savior (lowercase s), who didn’t even
believe in Him.
2. Talk about against all odds!
3. This other messiah, this savior, would think he was accomplishing so
much by his own power and with the help of many gods, but our text, and the
history that did indeed come true just as Isaiah saw it, is in fact another
proof that
D. There Is No God like Our God.
I. Throughout the world, people choose their gods.
A. We see this in our society today.
1. The obvious part:
a. All kinds of religions are represented, and people combine them at will.
2. The less obvious part:
a. People choose whom or what to trust with their lives.
b. Martin Luther’s explanation of the First Commandment in the Large
Catechism says it this way:
1. “A god means that from which we are to expect all good and in which we
are to take refuge in all distress.
2. So, to have a God is nothing other than trusting and believing Him with
the [whole] heart.”
B. But those gods are no help when it counts.
1. They were powerless against the military and political developments of
the prophet’s time.
2. They leave us powerless against the developments around us.
3. Worst of all?:
a. They promise but fail to deliver!
II. But with the one true God, it is the other way around.
A. God chooses an unlikely “savior,” “messiah,” to bring the people of
Israel back to Himself.
Isaiah 45:1–2,4 (NASB95)
1 Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right
hand, To subdue nations before him And to loose the loins of kings; To open
doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
2 “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter
the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars.
4 “For the sake of Jacob My servant, And Israel My chosen one, I have also
called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor Though you have
not known Me.
1. Cyrus doesn’t know God.
a. Historical sources tell us that he worshiped all kinds of deities,
including those of Babylonia, which he had conquered.
2. He doesn’t realize that all political power comes from the Lord,
something Jesus pointed out to Pilate while Jesus was on trial:
John 19:11 (NASB95)
Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been
given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the
greater sin.”
3. The Lord reveals to Cyrus that he is responsible to God.
a. God names him, meaning God was first, and Cyrus’s life comes from him.
b. He has to answer to God.
B. This “savior,” Cyrus, is a preview in history of the coming “Anointed”
Christ—like a low-resolution thumbnail picture.
1. His origin is unimpressive.
a. Babylonia is the superpower of his time, but he is from Persia.
2. His rise to power surpasses all expectations.
3. His idea that everybody should choose his own gods is nothing but a
pagan doctrine, but this policy saves those whom God has chosen
a. that is, those who believe that there is only one God.
III. This one and only true God, found in Christ the Lord, is alone the
Savior of all men.
A. He seems even less impressive than Cyrus.
1. A God in human nature doesn’t seem very impressive.
2. He was born into a poor family and grew up in a negligible town, that is
Nazareth, with no formal education.
3. At least one person had a low opinion of the little town of Nazareth and
the people that came from there, as we hear in John 1:46 (NASB95):
Nathanael said to [Philip], “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
4. And in the end, He was seemingly deprived of all power, condemned to
death by two courts.
B. But He has won the victory in this world once and for all.
1. The ruler of this world is disarmed.
Isaiah 45:1 (NASB95)
Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right
hand, To subdue nations before him And to loose the loins of kings; To open
doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
John 14:30 (NASB95)
“I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming,
and he has nothing in Me;
John 16:8–11 (NASB95)
8 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and
righteousness and judgment;
9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;
10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no
longer see Me;
11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
2. The tomb of death and the gates of hell break open.
3. People will know that there is none besides Him
Isaiah 45:6 (NASB95)
That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is
no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other,
IV. Unlike the other gods or “saviors,” our God is the one who is in
charge, always and forever.
Isaiah 45:7 (NASB95)
The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and
creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.
A. That gives us comfort . . .
1. When our experiences seem different.
2. When we feel powerless against the developments around us.
B. Dr. Daniel Schmidt, provost in the North region of the Independent
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, relates the following story:
1. “My family and I worked for the church in southern Africa for almost
seventeen years.
2. At that time, the crime rate in the Republic of South Africa was rising
3. One Sunday morning in his sermon, a pastor of the Free Evangelical
Lutheran Synod encouraged parishioners to believe that God is in charge in
spite of that daily experience of crime.
4. When he came out of the church, his pickup truck was gone.
5. He stood in the parking lot, silently struggling with God, who had
allowed that to happen after what he had just preached.
6. But he had to conduct a second service in another congregation.
7. The organist in turn gave him a ride.
8. On the way, they passed a mobile speeding camera.
9. Several cars had been pulled over.
10. As the organist slowed down to pass them, the pastor realized that one
of the trucks was his.
11. The thug, trying to get away quickly, had been stopped by a police
12. God used a person of authority to return the pastor’s property to him
and did so in a way that he had not expected, something we hear in our Old
Testament lesson from Isaiah 45:1, 4–5.
13. Just imagine how he preached on the same theme in the second service!
C. That gives us certainty . . .
1. That the Lord will bring us home against all odds.
2. That in the end, the whole world will have to acknowledge the truth that
we confess: the Lord is God, and there is no other.


A. Even those who don’t believe that there is only one true God live by His
power and by what He daily provides for their lives.
1. But without Him, they will be lost eternally.
2. That is why God calls us with the First Commandment, saying: “I am the
Lord, your God, who saves you.”
3. He gives us every reason to trust Him against all worldly opposition and
to believe that He will bring us to the heavenly Jerusalem.
4. In truth, there is no other like Him. Amen.
B. Let us pray:
LSB 745 In God, My Faithful God (stanzas 4-5)
O Jesus Christ, my Lord,
So meek in deed and word,
You suffered death to save us
Because Your love would have us
Be heirs of heav’nly gladness
When ends this life of sadness.

“So be it,” then, I say
With all my heart each day.
Dear Lord, we all adore You,
We sing for joy before You.
Guide us while here we wander
Until we praise You yonder.
Text: Public domain
C. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
D. In the Name of the Father…Amen.