Thursday after Gaudete, The Third Sunday in Advent
Scripture: Isaiah 19-21 (NKJV)
19:1 The burden against Egypt. Behold, the LORD rides on a swift cloud, and will come into Egypt; The idols of Egypt will totter at His presence, and the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst.
2 “I will set Egyptians against Egyptians; Everyone will fight against his brother, and everyone against his neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom.
3 “The spirit of Egypt will fail in its midst; I will destroy their counsel, and they will consult the idols and the charmers, the mediums and the sorcerers.
4 “And the Egyptians I will give Into the hand of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them,” says the Lord, the LORD of hosts.
5 The waters will fail from the sea, and the river will be wasted and dried up.
6 The rivers will turn foul; The brooks of defense will be emptied and dried up; The reeds and rushes will wither.
7 The papyrus reeds by the River, by the mouth of the River, and everything sown by the River, will wither, be driven away, and be no more.
8 The fishermen also will mourn; All those will lament who cast hooks into the River, and they will languish who spread nets on the waters.
9 Moreover those who work in fine flax and those who weave fine fabric will be ashamed;
10 And its foundations will be broken. All who make wages will be troubled of soul.
11 Surely the princes of Zoan are fools; Pharaoh’s wise counselors give foolish counsel. How do you say to Pharaoh, “I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings?”
12 Where are they? Where are your wise men? Let them tell you now, and let them know what the LORD of hosts has purposed against Egypt.
13 The princes of Zoan have become fools; The princes of Noph are deceived; They have also deluded Egypt, those who are the mainstay of its tribes.
14 The LORD has mingled a perverse spirit in her midst; And they have caused Egypt to err in all her work, as a drunken man staggers in his vomit.
15 Neither will there be any work for Egypt, which the head or tail, palm branch or bulrush, may do.
16 In that day Egypt will be like women, and will be afraid and fear because of the waving of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which He waves over it. 17 And the land of Judah will be a terror to Egypt; everyone who makes mention of it will be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts which He has determined against it.
18 In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the LORD of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction.
19 In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border. 20 And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them. 21 Then the LORD will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. 22 And the LORD will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the LORD, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.
23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians.
24 In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, 25 whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”
20:1 In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him, and he fought against Ashdod and took it, 2 at the same time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet.” And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.
3 Then the LORD said, “Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia, 4 so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. 5 Then they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation and Egypt their glory. 6 And the inhabitant of this territory will say in that day, ‘Surely such is our expectation, wherever we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria; and how shall we escape?'”
21:1 The burden against the Wilderness of the Sea. As whirlwinds in the South pass through, so it comes from the desert, from a terrible land.
2 A distressing vision is declared to me; The treacherous dealer deals treacherously, and the plunderer plunders. Go up, O Elam! Besiege, O Media! All its sighing I have made to cease.
3 Therefore my loins are filled with pain; Pangs have taken hold of me, like the pangs of a woman in labor. I was distressed when I heard it; I was dismayed when I saw it.
4 My heart wavered, fearfulness frightened me; The night for which I longed He turned into fear for me.
5 Prepare the table, set a watchman in the tower, eat and drink. Arise, you princes, anoint the shield!
6 For thus has the Lord said to me: “Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he sees.”
7 And he saw a chariot with a pair of horsemen, a chariot of donkeys, and a chariot of camels, and he listened earnestly with great care.
8 Then he cried, “A lion, my Lord! I stand continually on the watchtower in the daytime; I have sat at my post every night.
9 “And look, here comes a chariot of men with a pair of horsemen!” Then he answered and said, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen! And all the carved images of her gods He has broken to the ground.”
10 Oh, my threshing and the grain of my floor! That which I have heard from the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, I have declared to you.
11 The burden against Dumah. He calls to me out of Seir, “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?”
12 The watchman said, “The morning comes, and also the night. If you will inquire, inquire; Return! Come back!”
13 The burden against Arabia. In the forest in Arabia you will lodge, O you traveling companies of Dedanites.
14 O inhabitants of the land of Tema, bring water to him who is thirsty; With their bread they met him who fled.
15 For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, from the bent bow, and from the distress of war.
16 For thus the Lord has said to me: “Within a year, according to the year of a hired man, all the glory of Kedar will fail; 17 and the remainder of the number of archers, the mighty men of the people of Kedar, will be diminished; for the LORD God of Israel has spoken it.”
“For thus has the Lord said to me: ‘Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he sees'” (Is. 21:6).
Watchman, tell us of the night, what its signs of promise are. Traveler, o’er yon mountain’s height, see that glory beaming star. Watchman, does its beauteous ray aught of joy or hope foretell? Traveler, yes—it brings the day, promised day of Israel.
Watchman, tell us of the night; Higher yet that star ascends. Traveler, blessedness and light, peace and truth its course portends. Watchman, will its beams alone gild the spot that gave them birth? Traveler, ages are its own; See, it bursts o’er all the earth.
Watchman, tell us of the night, for the morning seems to dawn. Traveler, darkness takes its flight, doubt and terror are withdrawn. Watchman, let thy wanderings cease; Hie thee to thy quiet home. Traveler, lo! the Prince of Peace, Lo! the Son of God is come!
(Watchman, Tell us of the Night – Text by John Bowring, 1825.)
We pray: Most Merciful God, Who has given Your Eternal Word to be made incarnate of the Virgin, grant to Your people grace to put away fleshly lusts, so that we may be made ready for Your visitation; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord. Amen.