Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Friday after Gaudete, The Third Sunday in Advent

Posted on December 21, 2018 by Pastor Dulas under Devotions
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Scripture: Isaiah 51:1-16 (NKJV)
51:1 “Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. 2 Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; For I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him.” 3 For the LORD will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
4 “Listen to Me, My people; And give ear to Me, O My nation: For law will proceed from Me, and I will make My justice rest as a light of the peoples. 5 My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, and My arms will judge the peoples; The coastlands will wait upon Me, and on My arm they will trust. 6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, the earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner; But My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not be abolished.
7 “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law: Do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their insults. 8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; But My righteousness will be forever, and My salvation from generation to generation.”
9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD! Awake as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Are You not the arm that cut Rahab apart, and wounded the serpent? 10 Are You not the One who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep; That made the depths of the sea a road for the redeemed to cross over? 11 So the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass? 13 And you forget the LORD your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth; You have feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he has prepared to destroy. And where is the fury of the oppressor? 14 The captive exile hastens, that he may be loosed, that he should not die in the pit, and that his bread should not fail. 15 But I am the LORD your God, who divided the sea whose waves roared—the LORD of hosts is His name. 16 And I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, that I may plant the heavens, lay the foundations of the earth, and say to Zion, ‘You are My people.'”
The old stories continue to point forward to the new story. The events of the Old Testament continue to be valuable to us in the New Testament Church because God is unchanging and His mercies endure. His holy Words and works in the past help us continue to learn and grow in mature understanding of the profound blessings that He has given us in Jesus Christ.
Some imagine that eternal life will be only a spiritual existence. But Eden and the garden of the Lord were physical places. God made heaven and earth, and the earth was very good! Our Lord continues to teach us that He uses physical realities to bless us, and He reminds us that the life of the world to come will begin with a bodily resurrection.
When the Word became flesh in Jesus Christ He showed us that salvation will be like the goodness that He originally bestowed on creation. Through Christ we are forgiven and made good, by His power alone! And the eternal life to which we look forward is foreshadowed in His own glorious resurrection. He comforts us with images that teach us this, and He reminds us that our future life will be only joy and gladness, when sin and suffering are no more.
We pray: Lord, we beseech Thee, give ear to our prayers and lighten the darkness of our hearts by Thy gracious visitation; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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