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Archive for the ‘Decalogue’ Category

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Moses, You began 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-time prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacrament;through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Moses was born in Egypt several generations after Joseph brought his father Jacob and his brothers there to escape a famine in the land of Canaan. The descendants of Jacob had been enslaved by the Egyptians and were ordered to kill all their male children. When Moses was born his mother put him in a basket and set it afloat in the Nile River. He was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised by her as her own son (Exod 2:1–10). At age 40 Moses killed an Egyptian taskmaster and fled to the land of Midian, where he worked as a shepherd for forty years. Then the Lord called him to go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh, “Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness” (5:1). Eventually Pharaoh gave in and, after the Israelites celebrated the first Passover, Moses led them out. At the Red Sea the Egyptian army was destroyed and the Israelites passed to safety on dry land (Exodus 12-15). At Mount Sinai they were given the Law and erected the Tabernacle (Exodus 19-40). But because of disobedience they had to wander in the wilderness for forty years. Moses himself was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, although God allowed him to view it (Deuteronomy 34). In the New Testament Moses is referred to as lawgiver and prophet. The first five books of the Bible are attributed to him. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:  Moses looms over the first five books of the Bible, the Torah, or the Pentateuch and so the whole Bible.  C. S. Lewis points out that the way to Golgotha must always pass by Sinai, that is the only way to know the Gospel is to spiritually know the Law accusing and showing us our sin so we can see by faith our Savior.  It is Jesus Christ Who looms over and under the New Testament but even more:  all of creation, all of the world. The comparison between Moses and Jesus is important: 

Hebrews 3:  Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. 3 For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

and

St. John 1: For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

But when we forget the Ministry of Moses we do not know the Ministry of Holy Spirit.  When we forget the Law, license looms. When we forget the Gospel, despair grabs hold. The difference between Moses and Jesus, Law and Promise, the one Word of God is beautifully illustrated by Lucas Cranach in his Law and Grace and our journey with first Moses, then and forever with Moses with, in and under Jesus Christ:

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About Samuel:  Samuel, last of the Old Testament judges and first of the prophets (after Moses), lived during the eleventh century BC. The child of Elkanah, an Ephraimite, and his wife Hannah, Samuel was from early on consecrated by his parents for sacred service and trained in the house of the Lord at Shiloh by Eli the priest. Samuel’s authority as a prophet was established by God (1 Samuel 3:20). He anointed Saul to be Israel’s first king (1 Samuel 10:1). Later, as a result of Saul’s disobedience to God, Samuel repudiated Saul’s leadership and then anointed David to be king in place of Saul (1 Samuel 16:13). Samuel’s loyalty to God, his spiritual insight, and his ability to inspire others made him one of Israel’s great leaders. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House.)

Reflection: 1 Samuel tells us that  Saul sparing the life of King Agag though the Lord told Saul not to spare his life.   Saul did so because of compassion though he had no direct command from God to do so. The Lord told Saul that his life was then forfeit. 

In  seemingly less strenuous circumstances we think it’s all right to do something because we think, God will understand, He is compassionate.  Like the businessman on a long trip away from family, a few drinks in the hotel bar, a nice woman with a sad story…God will understand.  The husband’s  wife nor his children will understand.  The Lord understands all together too well and He is judge of the living and the dead. The businessman in question builds his own theology to cover his sin but only repentance on account of the blood shed by Jesus can heal.  

We can build a whole false ethos around under the cloak of  ‘theology’. Pr. Murray (Pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church, Houston, TX)  points out that we are pretty good at “creating our own righteousness”.  The Law shows us if our moral behavior  is God pleasing   in way of our commitments and relationships in life:  mother, father, brother, sister, citizen, etc. The way to find out quite easily if what we are doing is actually holy is to ask: Is it conformity to God’s Law?  If not, then pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation.”

Samuel’s very name means literally “God hears”.  He was named so because Samuel’s Mother, Hannah was childless and God heard her distress.  “Surely to obey the voice of the Lord is better than sacrifice.”  Samuel heard for the Lord heard him…and us as well to the depths of our sinful being. 

For further reflection, Meditation by Pr. Murray, from his A Year with the Church Fathers (CPH) in which he addresses do-it yourself theology…false theology: 

There can be no freeform holiness that comes from our own hearts. We often define and act on our own set of pious principles in seeking our own righteousness. This is purely a rebellion against the clear and unchanging will of God in the Law. There can be no holiness apart from the specific commands of a holy God. Our revision of the divine Law arises from seemingly righteous principles. Perhaps Saul spared Agag (1 Samuel 15) out of a desire to be compassionate and gracious, which God Himself claims to be (Psalm 86:15). Why shouldn’t Saul be able to get in on the compassion act? Simply because he had a direct command from God to do otherwise.

A veteran pastor was confronted by two married couples whom he considered pious members of his parish. They announced to him that they were swapping spouses and wondered if he might unite them in a double wedding. They argued that their spouse swap was loving and that, after all, the Holy Spirit had let them know that this was a good thing. He strongly suggested to them that they could not ignore the Sixth Commandment, and that maybe their spouse swap was merely self-serving. Our impieties are often perpetrated for pious reasons; love and compassion being common among those pious reasons. We even argue that God agrees with us. Like Saul, who as a worldly ruler considered it his prerogative to spare Agag, our pieties tend to benefit ourselves. We must flee from creating our own righteousness and remain tied down to the clear Word of God.

“Saul saw fit to use compassion when he spared the king whom God commanded to be slain (1 Samuel 15:9-11). However, he deserved to have his disobedient compassion, or, if you prefer it, his compassionate disobedience, rejected and condemned, that man may be on his guard against extending mercy to his fellow man in opposition to the sentence of Him by whom man was made. Truth, by the mouth of the Incarnate Himself, proclaims as if in a thundering voice, ‘Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’ (John 3:5). And in order to except martyrs from this sentence, to whose lot it has fallen to be slain for the name of Christ before being washed in the Baptism of Christ, He says in another passage, ‘Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it’ (Matthew 10:39)” (Augustine, On the Soul and its Origin, 2.17).

Almighty God, in Your mercy You gave Samuel to courage to call Israel to repentance and to renew their dedication to the Lord.  Call us to repentance as Nathan called David to repentance, so by the blood of Jesus, the Son of David,  we may receive the forgiveness of all our sins;  through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

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Collect of the Day

Almighty God, heavenly Father, through the patriarch Isaac You preserved the seed of the Messiah and brought forth the new creation.  Continue to preserve the Church as the Israel of God as she manifests the glory of Your holy Name by continuing to worship Your Son, the child of Mary;  through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

About Isaac:  Isaac, the long promised and awaited son of Abraham and Sarah, was born when his father was 100 and his mother 91. The announcement of his birth brought both joy and laughter to his aged parents (so the name “Isaac,” which means “laughter”). As a young man, Isaac accompanied his father to Mount Moriah, where Abraham, in obedience to God’s command, prepared to sacrifice him as a burnt offering. But God intervened, sparing Isaac’s life and providing a ram as a substitute offering (Gen. 22:1–14), and thus pointing to the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world. Isaac was given in marriage to Rebekah (24:15), and they had twin sons, Esau and Jacob (25:19–26). In his old age Isaac, blind and feeble, wanted to give his blessing and chief inheritance to his favorite—and eldest—son, Esau. But through deception Rebekah had Jacob receive them instead, resulting in years of family enmity. Isaac died at the age of 180 and was buried by his sons, who by then had become reconciled, in the family burial cave of Machpelah (35:28–29). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:  The enduring legacy of the Lord’s Word to the prophets is that His Word is given through marriage(s) and families, culminating in a Holy Family in Bethlehem.  These families do have their moments!  As when Rebekah schemes to have her favorite son Jacob receive Isaac’s blessing.  Funny how the Lord works things out but after all it was the Lord who named the son of the promise to Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Laughter (Genesis 17:19)  Just think: Father and Mother calling to their son, “Dinner time, Laughter”.

One of the single longest chapters in Genesis is chapter 24 and it is all about the way the Lord arranged the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah.  It is a moving love story.  In some ways, the main character is Abraham’s unnamed servant who acts as the Lord’s matchmaker.  We are told he prayed as the chapter proceeds. This is significant because this is the first time in Genesis when someone else, besides Abraham, prays to the Lord of Abraham!  Truly, Abraham is the father of faith.  It is  easy to gloss over, but important. The servant’s prayer is for a wife for Isaac as the Lord wills for His creation.  This long chapter is about marriage between man and woman and through marriage and family, His will of creation continues and so does redemption:  the Son of Mary, the step-son of Joseph.

Today marriage is under assault as no other time but this is just the outworn post-enlightenment understanding of the so-called “new morality” of the ’60s, which is really the old immorality dressed up to look hot.  It’s hot…hotter than hell.  As C. S. Lewis wrote, you can no more make a new value than you can a new primary color.  Luther said it well, “All heretics have denigrated matrimony and have sought for and begun some newfangled and bizarre way of life.”  (Luther’s Sermon on John 2: 1—11, 1533, Luther’s House Postils, vol. 1)  The commemoration of Isaac is another good day to remember that before the Fall, the Lord gave us marriage, and here is more Luther on this crucial and central part of our lives, culture, society and Church:

  • “So here all will depend on a sound knowledge and understanding of what this “What God has joined together,” is trying to say. It does not say, “What joined itself together,” but, “What God has joined together.” The joining together is easily seen, but men refuse to see that it is to be God who does the joining. As soon as a joining together has come about by the parties’ own efforts, they immediately want to hang God’s name over it as a cloak to hide their shame, and say that God did it. This is misusing and dishonoring God’s name and is contrary to the second commandment. The verse itself clearly indicates that two kinds of joining take place, one by God, the other without God. Joining without God means that which is done by us ourselves without his word and commandment; joining without God means that which is ourselves alone without his word and commandment. Now we have taught so often that we should do nothing unless we have the express approval of God’s word; God himself has nothing to do with us, nor we with him, except through his word, which is the only means by which we recognize his will, and according to which we govern our actions.”  On Marriage Matters”, LW volume 46, The Christian in Society
  • “’Let the marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled.’ Hold fast to that, those of you who are married. St. Augustine writes in one place concerning married people, that even if one of them is somewhat weak, etc., he should not be afraid of the sudden and infallible Day of the Lord; even if the day of the Lord were to come in the hour when man and wife were having marital intercourse, they should not be afraid of it. Why is this so? Because even if the Lord comes in that hour he will find them in the ordinance and station in which they have been placed and installed by God.”From Luther’s Sermon ‘A the Marriage of Sigismund von Lindenau, 1545, LW 51
  • “For here (in marriage) God says to the man: You are my man; and to the woman: You are my woman.” –ibid
  • “…let’s learn this object lesson well, so that each of us willingly and contentedly serves and supports the estate of marriage which our Lord himself ordained and honored and created to be a wellspring and source of all other estates on earth. For every king and ruler support the establishing of households, or marriage (they themselves have stemmed from the estate of marriage), because there would be neither people nor means to support government were people not to marry. For the householder, father, or mother, must lay the foundation upon which all estates in the world, from the loftiest to the lowliest are sustained. For this reason our Lord God has caused the marriage estate to be a wellspring of every gift that belongs to our life and existence, as Scripture states: ‘Eve is the mother of every human being.’” (ibid)

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A Cartoon

A few Sundays ago, the Old Testament reading were selected verses from Leviticus 18-19, specifically Leviticus 18:1-5;19:9-18 ending with “…but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” because the Gospel was The Parable of the Good Samaritan. At that time I blogged an article by the editor of Touchstone magazine about Leviticus 18.  As the Israelites were to cross over into the promised land, they were crossing over into a new way of life and living and they were not to do as the people there, in particular in regards to marriage and  sexual immorality: see chapter 18.  These chapters are called the “holiness code”.  The refrain is “I am the Lord” and the theme verse is:

 Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Leviticus 19: 2

Many verses in Leviticus are dismissed by liberal Biblical scholars because of 18: 22: 

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 

They surmise it is  a time-conditioned way of thinking which we have gone beyond now with same-sex pseudogamy,  even to the point they say, “the Spirit has shown us a new way”:

But in chapter 19, those same scholars in the Liberal Protestant Church, love Leviticus 19: 9:

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest.”

This is the Lord’s way of helping the poor.  Do not be so greedy to get every grain but leave some for the needy. Why is this verse liked?  It’s about ‘social justice’ and care for the poor.  I believe it is meet, right and so to do and so is Leviticus 18: 22.

So it has come down to this:  conservatives are about “personal morality” and liberals “social morality”.  But note that in Leviticus the Lord’s imprimatur is on both ‘personal’ and ‘social’ morality, as He said, “I am the Lord”.  “Personal” and “social” morality are not different categories in Leviticus. The Lord’s moral code is indivisible.  Neither should  man lie with man as with a woman and neither  curse the deaf  nor rearrange the furniture on a blind person, see Leviticus 19:14.  Now I do not understand many of these verses in these chapters,  but  all these verses are together and so speak to the fact that we select morality to fit what we want. (BTW:  I would then throw away most of the Bible!)  The Lord’s moral code fits the man to His way of living which is life, what He commands, not the other way around.  But we don’t fit into His way of living (more on that in a bit).  

Next it teaches that love is  holy.  Secular/atheistic society has divorced love from holiness.  It is not divorced in God’s holy Word.  In a  similar vein to the division of morality is the saying. “Conservatives are about the truth and liberals love”.  Once that move is made, that love has nothing to do with the truth, then the way is open to license or legalism.    The word heresy comes from a Greek word, haeresis, meaning choice. The ‘sovereign’ self, the god who dies, chooses “social” or “personal” morality.  It is moral heresy.  Then we love in Scripture only that which is agreeable to me, the same (“homo”). This is at the very least intellectually dishonest because the Lord addresses the whole man and woman, the whole of our societies and the whole of our world.  

As I was writing this, our weekly town newspaper came on Wednesday in our college town.  It is a liberal paper.  There is a new columnist to write on things religious and sure enough the article is entitled, “The Bible Buffet”.  The author begins by citing by name conservative theological and political commentators decrying the Supreme Court decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act as risking God’s judgment.  The author cites…Leviticus!  Almost on cue for this posting.  He cites the dietary laws in Leviticus 11 as basically primitive so why not Leviticus 18: 22 regarding homosexuality.  His conclusion  is really his beginning premise:

“The Bible has always been a smorgasbord, with all its believers choosing what to include and exclude in their faith (he then cites  Christian denominations as a kind of a ‘proof’ of this)…We are free to take, or not, on an individual basis, the things in the Bible we think are important to follow in our lives.

This article demonstrates my assertion of “moral heresy”.  The author further asserts that Christian church bodies exclude Bible passages.  Those church bodies  who believe the Bible is the inerrant and faithful Word of God, do not “exclude” Scripture verses but interpret them differently.  Interpretation and exclusion are not the same, but it is the liberal, as I have stated, who excludes and then divides the Lord’s moral code.  As I wrote,yes, certain passages are difficult, as the dietary laws but they, with all the Law, were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, see   Matthew 5:16-18.  As His apostle wrote, “All things are lawful…”,as the Corinthians were saying.  Paul agreed with them, but the Apostle concluded, “…but all things are not helpful” (see  1 Corinthians 6:11-13  and 1 Corinthians 10:22-24). As in I can eat and drink whatever I like, but all of it’s not necessarily good for me or for thee!   Jesus and His Church take seriously the whole Word of God, Law and Promise.  Once I begin to choose then I am ‘god’.  This was the serpent’s false promise in the Garden: “You will be like God…”.  Once I begin to teach others that we are not under the whole of Scripture, then we are in trouble:  

Matthew 5:19

Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Yes, says Jesus, even the “least of these commandments and TEACHES others the same”, that is,  relaxation of the Law’s demands. What we teach is what God’s Law which says: Fit in and you don’t.  His Law is a tight fit but just to say, “I don’t like it” will not make His Law go away.  We don’t fit in and Jesus Christ by His forgiveness makes us fit by faith in His grace, mercy and peace and the  whole of His Word, distinguishing what the Law does and the Gospel fulfills.  His Word is then a delight for the Church and her people.
Psalm 119: 174 I long for your salvation, O Lord,
    and your law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live and praise you,
    and let your rules help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
    for I do not forget your commandments.

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e5010-hammerofgod

The novel, The Hammer of God is about three distinct time periods in the life of a congregation in a small rural town in Sweden,  In the scene quoted below, Pr. Gosta Torvik, has been quite zealous for God’s Word…that is His Word of Law with a heavy dose of obedience and spiritual experience.  Torvik’s congregation can no longer have a rector, a chief pastor, so a neighboring one is chosen,  Pr. Olle Bengsten to come for as a visiting rector.  Pr. Bengsten, a confessional Lutheran, has noted that Pr. Torvik has become quite legalistic.in his espousal of  revivalism   He encourages Pr. Torvik to…

“Read the Bible, of course. “

“I read the Bible every day.”

“I believe that. But how do you read?”

“You mustn’t be so critical, Olle, of everything a poor fellow does. I try to read devotionally and for edification, so that I take to heart that which I feel is meant for me.”

“Feel, feel! That is just what is wrong. Don’t you believe the Bible is God’s Word just as truly, no matter how you may feel? Don’t you see, Brother, that this won’t do?…Because you make your feelings your barometer, you pass by the gospel and are held fast in the law. Look in your Bible and see if the passages you have especially marked are not just those that speak of what you shall do. But you have not given half the attention to that which tells what Christ has done through his atonement.”

With Pastor Torvik, reading the Bible according my feelings  that this or that verse is “meant for me”, it would leave out a whole lot of the Bible that is disagreeable to me, especially those parts in which salvation is sheer gift and so I am not in control.  The result of choosing how I feel about Scripture results in I am judge and jury over God’s Word for “us and our salvation”!  Pr. Bengsten correctly diagnoses “feelings as barometer” as being “held fast by the law”, that is the Law of God to save oneself and one’s congregation.  Feelings will result in one of two feelings:  spiritual pride, or Pharisaism, that we are obedient and holy by our works and so better than a ‘sinner’ (see  Luke 18:  9-14) or spiritual despair.  Feelings centers us on ourselves, not the Lord Who by His atonement made us His own when we were on our own.  

We live in an age of “feelings”.  As an experiment with yourself and others, count how many times  in a discussion, sentences begin with, “I feel…”.  Just count how many people speak about the emotional “uplift” their congregation gives them:  this is the stuff of “mega-congregations”. If faith is based upon my feelings then I am in for wild ride of “spiritual experiences” and I like it!  In the movie Wise Blood, based upon Flannery O’Connor’s novel of the same name, a character states, “I have a religion of my heart where Jesus is king”, as she tries to seduce Hazel Motes who has declared the “church of truth without Christ”.  In Robert Bellah’s sociological study of religion in America, Habits of the Heart, one of his interviewees is “Sheila” and she states that her spiritual belief is in herself, which Bellah dubbed, “Sheilaism”.  Faith is based upon God’s objective Word: Law and Gospel and this runs contrary to the post-Enlightenment, post-modern that man is the measure of all things. People won’t like it. Satan does not like the preaching of the crucified at all, just too much holy love, and he rages against it and the rage is all about us .  The one cure is Christ’s Cross and love of God in and through His Cross poured out for all who believe through the Holy Spirit. It is a radical cure and has been the only one available for 2,000 years and we need it more than ever.  We need the “for you” of His atoning Sacrifice preached, taught, prayed, sung and administered day by day into our ears and into our lives and into our world as salt and light (Matthew 5:13  Matthew 5:13-15) Like our Lord said to His apostles goes for us:  

 But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” Luke 9 (emphasis my own)

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I recommend the following short bio of Bp. Giertz here at Aardvark Alley.  Bp. Giertz was a bishop and a theologian and a writer and in particular a novelist. He was a thorough-going Lutheran Confessional Pastor.  One of his most read novels is The Hammer of God.  The novel is actually three novellas about a parish in Sweden covering three  time periods in the 19th and 20th centuries.  FWIW:  The Hammer of God is probably my most dog-eared novel.  It truly is a narrative telling of  God’s Law and Promise and God’s promises fulfilled in Jesus Christ by grace alone for sinners alone…from day 1, from birth.  In the revivalism of the time, many Lutheran pastors were saying that infants could not be baptized and so believe.  Pastors Ahlberg and Fridfelt have the following discussion:

“But children cannot believe,” said Ahlberg, whose eagerness was increasing. The others listened in complete silence. “‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.’ Thus faith is necessary for baptism.”

“No, not for baptism, but for salvation. Jesus does not in that passage say what is necessary in order to be baptized, but what is necessary in order to be saved. Faith and baptism are two that belong together. Don’t you see, Ahlberg, how dreadful it would be if children could not believe? In that case they could not be saved, either.”

Fridfeldt was himself startled by this thought, which just now came to him. Was this just juggling with words? But then he remembered Frans, the dying old man, and his grandchild, and he felt that there was a deep and edifying connection.

“It may very well be that we have drawn wrong conclusions regarding faith,” he continued. “Faith does not dwell in our brain or in our thoughts. Faith is not a work which we accomplish; it is not a gift that we give to God. Being made righteous by faith does not imply that faith is some kind of payment that will serve as well as our almsgiving and good works. Is it not written that the kingdom of God belongs to those who are poor in spirit? Faith is, then, a poverty of spirit, a hunger and thirst, a poor, empty heart opening toward God so that He can put His grace into it. When God bestows His grace upon us, we are born anew and become partakers of the new life.”

O Lord God, heavenly Father, we pray that, as You raised up Bo Harald Giertz to lead Swedish Lutherans into a renewed appreciation of their confessional heritage and trust in the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, and as You spoke to the entire Church through his writings, so You would continue to provide faithful pastors and leaders, keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, defend us against all enemies of Your Word, and bestow on Christ’s Church Militant Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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Isaiah’s ministry extended for at least 60 years (740-681). He began during the reign of Uzziah (785-733).  This was “the Silver Age of Israelite History” when both Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel reached the summit of their  material power, the height of their economic prosperity and the pinnacle of their territorial expansion, comparable only to the ear of David and Solomon, Israel’s “Golden Age.”  Uzziah died in 740 (6:1).  Then Isaiah interacted with the following kings; Jotham (750-731), Ahaz (735-715) and Hezekiah (714-695).  In all likelihood Isaiah lived through the reign of Manasseh (696-642).  Isaiah recorded Sennacherib’s death (Isa. 37:38) in 681 so his court life and prophetic ministry extended about sixty years.  These Assyrian kings during this time are Tiglath-pileser III (745-727), Shalmaneser V (727-722), Sargon II (722-705) and Sennacherib (705-681).  (from a notes by Dr. Reed Lessing, Professor of the Old Testament, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, for his commentary on Isaiah)

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. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection:  The fact that Isaiah’s name means “The Lord saves”, Isaiah knew that Isaiah did not save but Isaiah needed His saving! Isaiah knew the day would come in which both Jew and Gentile would be saved in the perfect Son born of the Virgin.  As we read below, God’s Word alone cauterizes the wounds of sin by His Law, to heal us by His Son. From Isaiah chapter 6:  The Narrative of Isaiah’s Call:

 

1In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called to another and said:

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

 4And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

 6Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

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