Wednesday after Gaudete, The Third Sunday in Advent
Scripture: Isaiah 16-18 (NKJV)
16:1 Send the lamb to the ruler of the land, from Sela to the wilderness, to the mount of the daughter of Zion.
2 For it shall be as a wandering bird thrown out of the nest; So shall be the daughters of Moab at the fords of the Arnon.
3 “Take counsel, execute judgment; Make your shadow like the night in the middle of the day; Hide the outcasts, do not betray him who escapes.
4 “Let My outcasts dwell with you, O Moab; Be a shelter to them from the face of the spoiler. For the extortioner is at an end, devastation ceases, the oppressors are consumed out of the land.
5 “In mercy the throne will be established; And One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.”
6 We have heard of the pride of Moab—he is very proud—of his haughtiness and his pride and his wrath; But his lies shall not be so.
7 Therefore Moab shall wail for Moab; Everyone shall wail. For the foundations of Kir Hareseth you shall mourn; Surely they are stricken.
8 For the fields of Heshbon languish, and the vine of Sibmah; The lords of the nations have broken down its choice plants, which have reached to Jazer and wandered through the wilderness. Her branches are stretched out, they are gone over the sea.
9 Therefore I will bewail the vine of Sibmah, with the weeping of Jazer; I will drench you with my tears, O Heshbon and Elealeh; For battle cries have fallen over your summer fruits and your harvest.
10 Gladness is taken away, and joy from the plentiful field; In the vineyards there will be no singing, nor will there be shouting; No treaders will tread out wine in the presses; I have made their shouting cease.
11 Therefore my heart shall resound like a harp for Moab, and my inner being for Kir Heres.
12 And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, that he will come to his sanctuary to pray; But he will not prevail.
13 This is the word which the LORD has spoken concerning Moab since that time. 14 But now the LORD has spoken, saying, “Within three years, as the years of a hired man, the glory of Moab will be despised with all that great multitude, and the remnant will be very small and feeble.”
17:1 The burden against Damascus. “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap.
2 “The cities of Aroer are forsaken; They will be for flocks which lie down, and no one will make them afraid.
3 The fortress also will cease from Ephraim, the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria; They will be as the glory of the children of Israel,” says the LORD of hosts.
4 “In that day it shall come to pass that the glory of Jacob will wane, and the fatness of his flesh grow lean.
5 “It shall be as when the harvester gathers the grain, and reaps the heads with his arm; It shall be as he who gathers heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim.
6 “Yet gleaning grapes will be left in it, like the shaking of an olive tree, two or three olives at the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in its most fruitful branches,” says the LORD God of Israel.
7 In that day a man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel.
8 He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands; He will not respect what his fingers have made, nor the wooden images nor the incense altars.
9 In that day his strong cities will be as a forsaken bough and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the children of Israel; And there will be desolation.
10 Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, and have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold, therefore you will plant pleasant plants and set out foreign seedlings;
11 In the day you will make your plant to grow, and in the morning you will make your seed to flourish; But the harvest will be a heap of ruins in the day of grief and desperate sorrow.
12 Woe to the multitude of many people who make a noise like the roar of the seas, and to the rushing of nations that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
13 The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away, and be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
14 Then behold, at eventide, trouble! And before the morning, he is no more. This is the portion of those who plunder us, and the lot of those who rob us.
18:1 Woe to the land shadowed with buzzing wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,
2 Which sends ambassadors by sea, even in vessels of reed on the waters, saying, “Go, swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth of skin, to a people terrible from their beginning onward, a nation powerful and treading down, whose land the rivers divide.”
3 All inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the earth: When he lifts up a banner on the mountains, you see it; And when he blows a trumpet, you hear it.
4 For so the LORD said to me, “I will take My rest, and I will look from My dwelling place like clear heat in sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”
5 For before the harvest, when the bud is perfect and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, He will both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks and take away and cut down the branches.
6 They will be left together for the mountain birds of prey and for the beasts of the earth; The birds of prey will summer on them, and all the beasts of the earth will winter on them.
7 In that time a present will be brought to the LORD of hosts from a people tall and smooth of skin, and from a people terrible from their beginning onward, a nation powerful and treading down, whose land the rivers divide—to the place of the name of the LORD of hosts, to Mount Zion.
“In mercy the throne will be established; And One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness” (Is. 16:5).
O come, O come, great Lord of might, Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height In ancient times once gave the law In cloud and majesty and awe. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree, an ensign of Thy people be; Before Thee rulers silent fall; All peoples on Thy mercy call. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Desire of Nations, bind In one the hearts of all mankind; Bid Thou our sad divisions cease, and be Thyself our King of Peace. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
(Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel – Translation by John Mason Neale, 1851)
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.