Monday after Rorate coeli, The Fourth Sunday in Advent
Scripture: Isaiah 31-33 (NKJV)
31:1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!
2 Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster, and will not call back His words, but will arise against the house of evildoers, and against the help of those who work iniquity.
3 Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; And their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out His hand, both he who helps will fall, and he who is helped will fall down; They all will perish together.
4 For thus the LORD has spoken to me: “As a lion roars, and a young lion over his prey (when a multitude of shepherds is summoned against him, he will not be afraid of their voice nor be disturbed by their noise), so the LORD of hosts will come down to fight for Mount Zion and for its hill.
5 “Like birds flying about, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it; Passing over, He will preserve it.”
6 Return to Him against whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted. 7 For in that day every man shall throw away his idols of silver and his idols of gold—sin, which your own hands have made for yourselves.
8 “Then Assyria shall fall by a sword not of man, and a sword not of mankind shall devour him. “But he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall become forced labor.
9 “He shall cross over to his stronghold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the banner,” says the LORD, whose fire is in Zion and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.
32:1 Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice.
2 A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
3 The eyes of those who see will not be dim, and the ears of those who hear will listen.
4 Also the heart of the rash will understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers will be ready to speak plainly.
5 The foolish person will no longer be called generous, nor the miser said to be bountiful;
6 For the foolish person will speak foolishness, and his heart will work iniquity: To practice ungodliness, to utter error against the LORD, to keep the hungry unsatisfied, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.
7 Also the schemes of the schemer are evil; He devises wicked plans to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaks justice.
8 But a generous man devises generous things, and by generosity he shall stand.
9 Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; You complacent daughters, give ear to my speech.
10 In a year and some days you will be troubled, you complacent women; For the vintage will fail, the gathering will not come.
11 Tremble, you women who are at ease; Be troubled, you complacent ones; Strip yourselves, make yourselves bare, and gird sackcloth on your waists.
12 People shall mourn upon their breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.
13 On the land of my people will come up thorns and briers, yes, on all the happy homes in the joyous city;
14 Because the palaces will be forsaken, the bustling city will be deserted. The forts and towers will become lairs forever, a joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks—
15 until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest.
16 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
17 The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
18 My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,
19 Though hail comes down on the forest, and the city is brought low in humiliation.
20 Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey.
33:1 Woe to you who plunder, though you have not been plundered; And you who deal treacherously, though they have not dealt treacherously with you! When you cease plundering, you will be plundered; When you make an end of dealing treacherously, they will deal treacherously with you.
2 O LORD, be gracious to us; We have waited for You. Be their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.
3 At the noise of the tumult the people shall flee; When You lift Yourself up, the nations shall be scattered;
4 And Your plunder shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpillar; As the running to and fro of locusts, He shall run upon them.
5 The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.
6 Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation; The fear of the LORD is His treasure.
7 Surely their valiant ones shall cry outside, the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly.
8 The highways lie waste, the traveling man ceases. He has broken the covenant, he has despised the cities, he regards no man.
9 The earth mourns and languishes, Lebanon is shamed and shriveled; Sharon is like a wilderness, and Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits.
10 “Now I will rise,” says the LORD; “Now I will be exalted, now I will lift Myself up.
11 “You shall conceive chaff, you shall bring forth stubble; Your breath, as fire, shall devour you.
12 “And the people shall be like the burnings of lime; Like thorns cut up they shall be burned in the fire.
13 “Hear, you who are afar off, what I have done; And you who are near, acknowledge My might.”
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”
15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, he who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil:
16 He will dwell on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, his water will be sure.
17 Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will see the land that is very far off.
18 Your heart will meditate on terror: “Where is the scribe? Where is he who weighs? Where is he who counts the towers?”
19 You will not see a fierce people, a people of obscure speech, beyond perception, of a stammering tongue that you cannot understand.
20 Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts; Your eyes will see Jerusalem, a quiet home, a tabernacle that will not be taken down; Not one of its stakes will ever be removed, nor will any of its cords be broken.
21 But there the majestic LORD will be for us a place of broad rivers and streams, in which no galley with oars will sail, nor majestic ships pass by
22 (For the LORD is our Judge, the LORD is our Lawgiver, the LORD is our King; He will save us);
23 Your tackle is loosed, they could not strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail. Then the prey of great plunder is divided; The lame take the prey.
24 And the inhabitant will not say, “I am sick”; The people who dwell in it will be forgiven their iniquity.
The Israelites brought instability upon themselves by her sins. Instead of trusting the Lord’s gracious promise of protection, Israel sought a military alliance with Egypt. For this, both would “perish together” (31:3). Many Israelites brought God’s wrath upon her by her wicked deeds of plundering the poor and dealing treacherously with neighbors. For their sins they would be burned up as chaff and stubble (33:11). The wrath of God hangs over all who sin and make a practice of sinning. The one who lives contrary to God’s will shall find no peace, no quietness, and no assurance. The Prophet tells them to rise from their complacency because wrath is coming, even if they can’t see it that moment (32:9-15). He preaches this to the Israelites so that they might repent of their sins and their reliance upon worldly strength. In repentance they are to look for God’s righteousness.
It is only in God’s righteousness, which is offered to all and to be received by faith alone, that sinners find rest from their sins and God’s wrath. “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever” (32:17). All who believe the gospel, that in Christ Jesus we have a God Who is merciful, have everything the gospel promises: forgiveness of every sin, life, and eternal salvation. They also have the effects of righteousness. We have peace with God, for Christ has suffered God’s wrath. We have quietness of soul, so that the Devil’s accusations and torments are met with certain faith that our sins are no more. We have assurance that God is for us and not against us because God has given us His Only-begotten Son for our salvation.
Dear Father, thank you for giving us the righteousness of Christ by faith. Amen.