Friday after the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Isaiah 64:1-12 (NKJV)
1 Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence—
2 As fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil—to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!
3 When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, the mountains shook at Your presence.
4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.
5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—in these ways we continue; And we need to be saved.
6 But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
7 And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us because of our iniquities.
8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.
9 Do not be furious, O LORD, nor remember iniquity forever; Indeed, please look—we all are Your people!
10 Your holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.
11 Our holy and beautiful temple, where our fathers praised You, is burned up with fire; And all our pleasant things are laid waste.
12 Will You restrain Yourself because of these things, O LORD? Will You hold Your peace, and afflict us very severely?
Even with all the assurance we have seen this week of the ultimate
blessedness of the redeemed, we often wonder at the Lord’s patience. We yearn for God’s vengeance to be taken upon those who trouble us, because we are certain that they are His enemies if they are acting as enemies against us; “vindicate our faith, O Lord!” we cry.
Yet, we must remember two important facets of the beautiful truth of our God’s dealing with mankind.
First, we must hear what St. Peter writes about God’s “delay”: it is not that God is slack concerning His promise, but that He is longsuffering toward us. “Toward us,” Peter writes, because we also needed to be brought into His Kingdom through Baptism, and He delays the return of the Christ so that such grace may be extended effectually to others, as well.
Second, we must understand how our Lord prefers to deal with enemies: bringing them to repentance! So Jesus comes to sinful men and makes them His disciples—whether we think of the rough and tumble seamen whom He called to be apostles, or tax collectors like Zacchaeus, or a persecutor of the Church like Saul of Tarsus. In Psalm 118, we hear the voice of the singer say repeatedly that when his enemies surrounded him, he “cut them off” in the name of the Lord. Interestingly, in Hebrew the word used is not the usual one for “cut” or “kill,” but for “circumcise.” Today, we would say, “My enemies surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I baptized them.” Thanks be to God that this is how He dealt with us while we were yet dead in trespasses and sins, bringing us to faith in Christ!
We pray: 1. O God, look down from Heaven and see
A sight which well may move Thee:
Of godly men how few there be,
Forsaken we who love Thee!
Withheld is Thy pure Word, the light
Of faith itself extinguished quite
In all the sons of Adam.
6. O God, preserve it pure and free
From this vile generation,
And let us be preserved by Thee
From their abomination;
The wicked walk on every side,
When ‘mid Thy flock the vile abide
In power and are exalted. Amen. (#163, ELHB, CPH, 1912)