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Archive for July 6th, 2015

Bio:  Isaiah son of Amoz is considered to be the greatest of the writing prophets and is quoted in the NewTestament 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 God’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 (Is 7:14; 9:6), his endless reign (Is 2:1–5; 11:1–16), and his public ministry (Is 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. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

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 commentary is 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. 

The Lord tells His prophet not to call a conspiracy what “this people” does nor fear what they fear.   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 awash in those conspiracy theories once again…and 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 and we know we can not, though we deceive ourselves that we are so able. Instead in His Word we  look at them from the Lord’s 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 ends of idolatries.  The Lord will be cause of many to fall and the good news:  many to rise on account of the Messiah whom Isaiah foretold.  

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. “This people” are Isaiah’s own people. Luther commented that usually the Lord called Israel, “His people” but note here the Lord calls His people “this people” and that is the Lord’s Word of judgment. By their sin and self-righteousness they had cut themselves off from the Lord. The time of Israel  is very much alike to the time of the Church in 21st Century United States.We have many tele-preachers of ‘peace’ while greed and lust go unchecked.

 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.  The Word will be rejected  or accepted, but as Israel, “..they will know that a prophet has been among them” (Ezekiel 2: 5b). We are called not to pursue what the world pursues yet the Lord has called us 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, the Church sings at the Holy Communion, and many will hear the song of the angels as Isaiah did and the shepherds because of our salvation in Jsus Christ:     

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

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, Mighty Seer, in Days of Old”
by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

1. Isaiah, mighty seer, in days of old
The Lord of all in Spirit did behold
High on a lofty throne, in splendor bright,
With flowing train that filled the Temple quite.
Above the throne were stately seraphim,
Six wings had they, these messengers of Him.
With twain they veiled their faces, as was meet,
With twain in reverent awe they hid their feet,
And with the other twain aloft they soared,
One to the other called and praised the Lord:
“Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth!
Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth!
Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth!
Behold, His glory filleth all the earth!”
The beams and lintels trembled at the cry,
And clouds of smoke enwrapped the throne on high.

Hymn 249
The Lutheran Hymnal

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