Wednesday within the Octave of the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord
Scripture: Isaiah 58-60 (NKJV)
58:1 “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
2 “Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching God.
3 “‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your laborers.
4 “Indeed you fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high.
5 “Is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?
7 “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 “Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
9 “Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 “if you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 “The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 “Those from among you shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
13 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words,
14 “then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
59:1 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.
2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.
3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity.
4 No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.
5 They hatch vipers’ eggs and weave the spider’s web; He who eats of their eggs dies, and from that which is crushed a viper breaks out.
6 Their webs will not become garments, nor will they cover themselves with their works; Their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.
7 Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; Wasting and destruction are in their paths.
8 The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; They have made themselves crooked paths; Whoever takes that way shall not know peace.
9 Therefore justice is far from us, nor does righteousness overtake us; We look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness!
10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; We stumble at noonday as at twilight; We are as dead men in desolate places.
11 We all growl like bears, and moan sadly like doves; We look for justice, but there is none; For salvation, but it is far from us.
12 For our transgressions are multiplied before You, and our sins testify against us; For our transgressions are with us, and as for our iniquities, we know them:
13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
14 Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; For truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
15 So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
17 For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.
18 According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; The coastlands He will fully repay.
19 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.
20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” says the LORD.
21 “As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.”
60:1 Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.
2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.
3 The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
4 “Lift up your eyes all around, and see: They all gather together, they come to you; Your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side.
5 “Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy; Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you.
6 “The multitude of camels shall cover your land, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; All those from Sheba shall come; They shall bring gold and incense, and they shall proclaim the praises of the LORD.
7 “All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together to you, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you; They shall ascend with acceptance on My altar, and I will glorify the house of My glory.
8 “Who are these who fly like a cloud, and like doves to their roosts?
9 “Surely the coastlands shall wait for Me; And the ships of Tarshish will come first, to bring your sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them, to the name of the LORD your God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because He has glorified you.
10 “The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; For in My wrath I struck you, but in My favor I have had mercy on you.
11 “Therefore your gates shall be open continually; They shall not be shut day or night, that men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, and their kings in procession.
12 “For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish, and those nations shall be utterly ruined.
13 “The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the pine, and the box tree together, to beautify the place of My sanctuary; And I will make the place of My feet glorious.
14 “Also the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you, and all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet; And they shall call you The City of the LORD, Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15 “Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, so that no one went through you, I will make you an eternal excellence, A joy of many generations.
16 “You shall drink the milk of the Gentiles, and milk the breast of kings; You shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
17 “Instead of bronze I will bring gold, instead of iron I will bring silver, instead of wood, bronze, and instead of stones, iron. I will also make your officers peace, and your magistrates righteousness.
18 “Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; But you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.
19 “The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory.
20 “Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; For the LORD will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended.
21 “Also your people shall all be righteous; They shall inherit the land forever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified.
22 “A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation. I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time.”
The children of Israel will bear the Lord’s wrath for their faithlessness and sin, yet the Lord promises that His wrath will not be His final word. In due course He will grant deliverance to the repentant ones. Law will give way to Gospel, and the Gospel will predominate. Nor does He even limit the promise to Israel. The Gentiles will be let in on it too. Consider the words of Isaiah 60:3. “The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
We celebrate the fulfillment of this prophecy at Epiphany, when the gentile Magi bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The light of the Lord has come. Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, has assumed human flesh for us men and for our salvation. He is not only the Messiah of the Jews, but the Savior of the Nations, of all of us.
As with Israel of old, know that when the chastisement of the Lord seems to rest heavily upon you, He intends it only for your good. He intends thereby to call you back to Himself, that the light of our Lord Christ may rest upon you, that you may cling to the forgiveness of sins in His blood that you may have everlasting life.
We pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, grant me ever to live by the light of Christ, repenting of my sins and clinging to His blood bought gift of forgiveness, through the same Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.