Tuesday after Rorate coeli, The Fourth Sunday in Advent
Scripture: Isaiah 34-36 (NKJV)
34:1 Come near, you nations, to hear; And heed, you people! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world and all things that come forth from it.
2 For the indignation of the LORD is against all nations, and His fury against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to the slaughter.
3 Also their slain shall be thrown out; Their stench shall rise from their corpses, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood.
4 All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; All their host shall fall down as the leaf falls from the vine, and as fruit falling from a fig tree.
5 “For My sword shall be bathed in heaven; Indeed it shall come down on Edom, and on the people of My curse, for judgment.
6 “The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made overflowing with fatness, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Edom.
7 “The wild oxen shall come down with them, and the young bulls with the mighty bulls; Their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust saturated with fatness.”
8 For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
9 Its streams shall be turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone; Its land shall become burning pitch.
10 It shall not be quenched night or day; Its smoke shall ascend forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; No one shall pass through it forever and ever.
11 But the pelican and the porcupine shall possess it, also the owl and the raven shall dwell in it. And He shall stretch out over it the line of confusion and the stones of emptiness.
12 They shall call its nobles to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all its princes shall be nothing.
13 And thorns shall come up in its palaces, nettles and brambles in its fortresses; It shall be a habitation of jackals, a courtyard for ostriches.
14 The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the jackals, and the wild goat shall bleat to its companion; Also the night creature shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.
15 There the arrow snake shall make her nest and lay eggs and hatch, and gather them under her shadow; There also shall the hawks be gathered, every one with her mate.
16 “Search from the book of the LORD, and read: Not one of these shall fail; Not one shall lack her mate. For My mouth has commanded it, and His Spirit has gathered them.
17 “He has cast the lot for them, and His hand has divided it among them with a measuring line. They shall possess it forever; From generation to generation they shall dwell in it.”
35:1 The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose;
2 It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the excellency of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
6 Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.
7 The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; In the habitation of jackals, where each lay, there shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
8 A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray.
9 No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; It shall not be found there. But the redeemed shall walk there,
10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
36:1 Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. 2 Then the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh with a great army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. And he stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool, on the highway to the Fuller’s Field. 3 And Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came out to him.
4 Then the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: “What confidence is this in which you trust? 5 I say you speak of having plans and power for war; but they are mere words. Now in whom do you trust, that you rebel against me? 6 Look! You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him.
7 “But if you say to me, We trust in the LORD our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar ‘?”‘ 8 Now therefore, I urge you, give a pledge to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses—if you are able on your part to put riders on them! 9 How then will you repel one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put your trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen? 10 Have I now come up without the LORD against this land to destroy it? The LORD said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it.'”
11 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in the Aramaic language, for we understand it; and do not speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.”
12 But the Rabshakeh said, “Has my master sent me to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, who will eat and drink their own waste with you?”
13 Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out with a loud voice in Hebrew, and said, “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 14 Thus says the king: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you; 15 nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, “The LORD will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.”‘ 16 Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make peace with me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own vine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink the waters of his own cistern; 17 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18 Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand? 20 Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?'”
21 But they held their peace and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.” 22 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.
The Lord promises a day for His vengeance and “a year of recompense for the cause of Zion” (34:8). He will strike Zion’s enemies who oppress and harass her. He uses Edom as a prototype of all the nations (34:5-6), since His fury is “against all nations” (34:2) who pester His holy people. His judgment upon Zion’s enemies will be fierce so that their land will be laid waste. The land will no longer be habitable for man, only for desert creatures. The Lord then promises the land of Israel shall rejoice in that day when her enemies fall. She will rejoice because her enemies are no more and her salvation from them is finally complete. In that day the victory over Zion’s enemies will include sight for the blind, legs for the lame, and songs for the tongue once dumb. Where there was once despair there will be joy.
This is a picture of what our Lord Jesus Christ brings with Him in the incarnation. He brings about the destruction of Zion’s true enemies of sin, death, and the power of the devil. The Word of the Father, born of the Virgin Mary according the flesh, brings an end to sin by living righteously and dying innocently in the sinner’s place. The eternal Word of God assumes flesh to die for the sins of the world. The Son of God assumes flesh to battle the devil and snatch his power from him. Christ destroys Zion’s enemies and subjects them to His almighty power so that they might have no power over all who believe the gospel that “Your God will come. He will save you” (35:4).
We give you thanks, O Lord, that by Your incarnation You destroyed our enemies and give us peace . Amen.