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Archive for July 6th, 2018

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We pray…Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Isaiah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Isaiah son of Amoz is considered to be the greatest of the writing prophets and is quoted in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament prophet. His name means “Yahweh [the Lord] saves.” Isaiah prophesied to the people of Jerusalem and Judah from about 740 B.C. to 700 B.C. and was a contemporary of the prophets Amos, Hosea, and Micah.

Isaiah was a fierce preacher of God’s Law, condemning the sin of idolatry. He was also a comforting proclaimer of the Gospel, repeatedly emphasizing the Lord’s grace and forgiveness. For this he is sometimes called the “Evangelist of the Old Testament.” No prophet more clearly prophesied about the coming Messiah and his saving kingdom. He foretold the Messiah’s miraculous birth (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6), his endless reign (2:1-5; 11:1-16), and his public ministry (61:1-3), but most notably his “Suffering Servant” role and atoning death (52:13-53:12).

The apostle John’s description of Isaiah, that Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory and spoke of Him (John 12:41), is an apt summary of Isaiah’s prophetic ministry.

Scripture Reflection: Isaiah 8: 11-15

Isaiah 8:  11 For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.13 But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”

The following comments are from Dr. R. Reed Lessing’s commentary on Isaiah when it was still in the works:

Vv. 11-15 – “With a strong hand” (cf. Ezek. 1:3; 3:14) the LORD warns Isaiah to see the situation from God’s perspective instead of that of man (cf. 5:20). Right thinking involves a fear of the LORD (v 13; cf. Prov. 1:7). Such faith finds safety, while rejection finds stumbling (vv 14-15). The function of the “stone” and “rock” are described in further detail in Isa. 28:16, Ps. 118:22; 1 Pet. 2:6. 

Reflection:

The Lord tells His prophet not to call a conspiracy what “this people” does nor fear what they fear.  “This people” are Isaiah’s own people. We live in an age with so many conspiracies and conspiracy theories. For instance:  after the 50th commemoration of the assassination of JFK, we were once again awash in those conspiracy theories. We read daily the conspiracies about global warming, creeping socialism, wars and rumors of wars.   Our conspiracies cause us fear and dread because we look at them from our supposedly  omnicompetent way of controlling them. We don’t and can’t control the conspiracies, though we deceive ourselves that we are so able. Instead in His Word the Lord has us look at them from the His perspective. The Lord’s guidance to Isaiah is not to fear them and this Word is also for us as Lutherans and Christians living in the United States.  Our only fear and dread is of the Lord! He has things in hand and His hand, His Word of Law shows us what will happen pursuing the dead end of idolatry.  The Lord will be cause of many to fall and the good news:  many to rise (see St. Luke 2: 34)  

Isaiah was living in a time of rampant idolatry and wealth, sexual immorality and decadence and false prophets preaching “peace” and prosperity but it was not the Word of the Lord.  Isaiah and the prophets were set apart from their own people and yet by God’s Word, they were for their own people. Isaiah said the Lord’s strong hand was upon him as He spoke His Word.  The Church, if she is true to her Lord, will also be Isaiah:  set apart from this people because His strong hand, with the mark of the nails, is upon us as He speaks His Word of Law and Promise.  We are called not to pursue what the world pursues yet called to  serve this people.  We are called to honor the Lord as holy, certainly not ourselves as holy!  As He draws near in His final Advent, but even now He draws near to us in His Word and His Sacraments,  as the angels sang in front of Isaiah, we also say at the Altar:    

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

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