Thursday after the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Isaiah 43:14-25 (NKJV)
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.
Our Lord God says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.” Note well the words: “for My own sake.” This reveals to us that we can do nothing to merit our Lord’s forgiveness. There is no thought, word, or deed that we can put forth to merit our Lord’s forgiveness. He does it for His own sake.
This the problem that the Israelites have in the reading. They believe that just by going through the motions of sacrifice they have somehow won God’s forgiveness. However, faith is missing. Our Lord says of the Israelite’s worship that it did not even exist. They did not bring Him sheep, nor honor Him with their sacrifices. Their offerings of grain and incense were also useless, because they thought God’s forgiveness came because of something they did instead of trusting in the Lord God that forgiveness comes purely by His grace and mercy.
Our Lord, just like for Israel, is our Redeemer. He buys us back from sin, death, and the devil through the innocent suffering and death of His Beloved Son Jesus Christ. This sacrifice “makes a way in the sea,” that is, our Lord makes a safe passage for us through the valley of the shadow of death, to our home in Heaven. He leads us through the waters of sin and death on dry ground to our eternal Promised Land where our sins have been eternally blotted out for our Lord’s sake.
We pray: Almighty God, we beseech Thee, show Thy mercy unto Thy humble servants, that we who put no trust in our own merits may not be dealt with after the severity of Thy judgment, but according to Thy mercy; through Christ, our Lord. Amen.