Friday after Rorate coeli, The Fourth Sunday in Advent
Scripture: Isaiah 43-45 (NKJV)
43:1 But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.
2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.
3 “For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
4 “Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, and people for your life.
5 “Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west;
6 “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 “everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”
8 Bring out the blind people who have eyes, and the deaf who have ears.
9 Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled. Who among them can declare this, and show us former things? Let them bring out their witnesses, that they may be justified; Or let them hear and say, “It is truth.”
10 “You are My witnesses,” says the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.
11 “I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior.
12 “I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, and there was no foreign god among you; Therefore you are My witnesses,” says the LORD, “that I am God.
13 “Indeed before the day was, I am He; And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I work, and who will reverse it?”
14 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sake I will send to Babylon, and bring them all down as fugitives—the Chaldeans, who rejoice in their ships.
15 “I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.”
16 Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea and a path through the mighty waters,
17 Who brings forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power (they shall lie down together, they shall not rise; They are extinguished, they are quenched like a wick):
18 “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.
19 “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
20 “The beast of the field will honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen.
21 “This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise.
22 “But you have not called upon Me, O Jacob; And you have been weary of Me, O Israel.
23 “You have not brought Me the sheep for your burnt offerings, nor have you honored Me with your sacrifices. I have not caused you to serve with grain offerings, nor wearied you with incense.
24 “You have bought Me no sweet cane with money, nor have you satisfied Me with the fat of your sacrifices; But you have burdened Me with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities.
25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.
26 “Put Me in remembrance; Let us contend together; State your case, that you may be acquitted.
27 “Your first father sinned, and your mediators have transgressed against Me.
28 “Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary; I will give Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches.
44:1 “Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant, and Israel whom I have chosen.
2 “Thus says the LORD who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you: ‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
3 ‘For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring;
4 ‘They will spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses.’
5 “One will say, ‘I am the LORD’S’; Another will call himself by the name of Jacob; Another will write with his hand, ‘The LORD’S,’ And name himself by the name of Israel.
6 “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.
7 ‘And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me, since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, let them show these to them.
8 ‘Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.'”
9 Those who make an image, all of them are useless, and their precious things shall not profit; They are their own witnesses; They neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed.
10 Who would form a god or mold an image that profits him nothing?
11 Surely all his companions would be ashamed; And the workmen, they are mere men. Let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; Yet they shall fear, they shall be ashamed together.
12 The blacksmith with the tongs works one in the coals, fashions it with hammers, and works it with the strength of his arms. Even so, he is hungry, and his strength fails; He drinks no water and is faint.
13 The craftsman stretches out his rule, he marks one out with chalk; He fashions it with a plane, he marks it out with the compass, and makes it like the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house.
14 He cuts down cedars for himself, And takes the cypress and the oak; He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it shall be for a man to burn, for he will take some of it and warm himself; Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread; Indeed he makes a god and worships it; He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it.
16 He burns half of it in the fire; With this half he eats meat; He roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire.”
17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
18 They do not know nor understand; For He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.
19 And no one considers in his heart, nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire, yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”
20 He feeds on ashes; A deceived heart has turned him aside; And he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
21 “Remember these, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me!
22 “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
23 Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; Break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel.
24 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;
25 “Who frustrates the signs of the babblers, and drives diviners mad; Who turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolishness;
26 “Who confirms the word of His servant, and performs the counsel of His messengers; Who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’ to the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’ and I will raise up her waste places;
27 “Who says to the deep, ‘Be dry! And I will dry up your rivers’;
28 “Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” and to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”‘
45:1 “Thus says the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut:
2 ‘I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron.
3 ‘I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, am the God of Israel.
4 ‘For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me.
5 ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
6 ‘That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other;
7 ‘I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.’
8 “Rain down, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together. I, the LORD, have created it.
9 “Woe to him who strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands ‘?
10 “Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What are you begetting?’ Or to the woman, ‘What have you brought forth?'”
11 Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: “Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons; And concerning the work of My hands, you command Me.
12 “I have made the earth, and created man on it. I—My hands—stretched out the heavens, and all their host I have commanded.
13 “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways; He shall build My city and let My exiles go free, not for price nor reward,” says the LORD of hosts.
14 Thus says the LORD: “The labor of Egypt and merchandise of Cush and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you, and they shall be yours; They shall walk behind you, they shall come over in chains; And they shall bow down to you. They will make supplication to you, saying, ‘Surely God is in you, and there is no other; There is no other God.'”
15 Truly You are God, who hide Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior!
16 They shall be ashamed and also disgraced, all of them; They shall go in confusion together, who are makers of idols.
17 But Israel shall be saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation; You shall not be ashamed or disgraced forever and ever.
18 For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the LORD, and there is no other.
19 “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in vain’; I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.
20 “Assemble yourselves and come; Draw near together, you who have escaped from the nations. They have no knowledge, who carry the wood of their carved image, and pray to a god that cannot save.
21 “Tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me.
22 “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
23 “I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath.
24 “He shall say, ‘Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength. To Him men shall come, and all shall be ashamed who are incensed against Him.
25 ‘In the LORD all the descendants of Israel shall be justified, and shall glory.'”
The Lord says, “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth” (43:19). This new thing the Lord will accomplish will bring life to the desert places and rivers of life-giving water in the wilderness. This new thing is the salvation of His people through His chosen instrument, which in the case of the exiles in Babylon will by Cyrus, king of Persia. It is certainly new and strange that the Lord will use a pagan king as His christ (45:1) to lead the saints from their captivity. For as “new” as this is and for as odd as it may strike the ears of all who hear, the Lord’s salvation through Cyrus is still only a type of the truly “new thing” which He will work for His captive people.
That new thing is the incarnation of the second person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, begotten from eternity. Man could never suffice to deliver sinners from their captivity in the camp of Satan. No man can loosen the chains of sin. No prophet or God-filled man could undo death for all believers. The true anointed one is God Himself Who assumes human flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Son of God comes to redeem His people from their sins, from death, and from all the powers and schemes of the devil by bearing their flesh and blood. This is the “new thing” the Lord promises, for it never happened before, nor will it ever occur again: God becoming man for our salvation.
Almighty God, we give You thanks for sending Your Only-Begotten Son into our flesh to bear our sin, to die our death, and redeem us from the captivity of the devil. Keep us in this faith. Amen.