Wednesday after Exaudi
Scripture: Isaiah 66:10-24 (NKJV)
66:10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her;
11 That you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom, that you may drink deeply and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.”
12 For thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; On her sides shall you be carried, and be dandled on her knees.
13 As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
14 When you see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like grass; The hand of the Lord shall be known to His servants, and His indignation to His enemies.
15 For behold, the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire and by His sword the Lord will judge all flesh; And the slain of the Lord shall be many.
17 “Those who sanctify themselves and purify themselves, to go to the gardens after an idol in the midst, eating swine’s flesh and the abomination and the mouse, shall be consumed together,” says the Lord.
18 “For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory. 19 I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. 20 Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the Lord out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the Lord, “as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. 21 And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites,” says the Lord.
22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, “So shall your descendants and your name remain.
23 And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord.
24 “And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”
Old Testament Jerusalem, the City of God in an earthly sense, is symbolic of New Testament Jerusalem, the City of God in a spiritual sense, that is, the Holy Christian Church. From the day of Pentecost until the Last Day, the Church is giving birth to believers in Christ through Holy Baptism. She nurtures her children through the ongoing ministry of Word and Sacrament and comforts them with the forgiveness of sins. She gathers in people from every nation, tribe, language, and people. And some of these, in turn, become “priests and Levites,” that is, ministers of the Gospel whom the Church sends out to keep bringing in her children.
This is cause for rejoicing! For the Church, though often besieged and under attack, is promised eternal victory over all her enemies. Even in the midst of her earthly struggles, she keeps bringing in more children through the Holy Spirit’s effective working through the Gospel. Today’s reading reflects Jesus’ own words to His disciples in Matthew 16:18: “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
But the greatest cause for rejoicing will occur at the consummation of the age, at the end of the New Testament era. On that day, those who would not be brought into the Church, but remained enemies of God and His people, are sentenced to eternal fire, while the children of God are given an everlasting home in the new heavens and the new earth.
We pray: Help us, O Lord, to rejoice in the Church You are now building and in the place You have given us within it, even when it appears to be failing. Graciously defend us against all our enemies and grant us to yearn for the new heavens and earth. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.