Friday within the Octave of the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord
Scripture: Isaiah 64-66 (NKJV)
64:1 Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence—
2 as fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil—to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!
3 When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, the mountains shook at Your presence.
4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.
5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—in these ways we continue; And we need to be saved.
6 But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
7 And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us because of our iniquities.
8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.
9 Do not be furious, O LORD, nor remember iniquity forever; Indeed, please look—we all are Your people!
10 Your holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.
11 Our holy and beautiful temple, where our fathers praised You, Is burned up with fire; And all our pleasant things are laid waste.
12 Will You restrain Yourself because of these things, O LORD? Will You hold Your peace, and afflict us very severely?
65:1 “I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ to a nation that was not called by My name.
2 “I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts;
3 “A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face; Who sacrifice in gardens, and burn incense on altars of brick;
4 “Who sit among the graves, and spend the night in the tombs; Who eat swine’s flesh, and the broth of abominable things is in their vessels;
5 “Who say, ‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!’ These are smoke in My nostrils, a fire that burns all the day.
6 “Behold, it is written before Me: I will not keep silence, but will repay—even repay into their bosom—
7 “your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together,” says the LORD, “who have burned incense on the mountains and blasphemed Me on the hills; Therefore I will measure their former work into their bosom.”
8 Thus says the LORD: “As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one says, ‘Do not destroy it, for a blessing is in it,’ so will I do for My servants’ sake, that I may not destroy them all.
9 “I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah an heir of My mountains; My elect shall inherit it, and My servants shall dwell there.
10 “Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for My people who have sought Me.
11 “But you are those who forsake the LORD, who forget My holy mountain, who prepare a table for Gad, and who furnish a drink offering for Meni.
12 “Therefore I will number you for the sword, and you shall all bow down to the slaughter; Because, when I called, you did not answer; When I spoke, you did not hear, but did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight.”
13 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry; Behold, My servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; Behold, My servants shall rejoice, but you shall be ashamed;
14 “Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, but you shall cry for sorrow of heart, and wail for grief of spirit.
15 “You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen; For the Lord GOD will slay you, and call His servants by another name;
16 “So that he who blesses himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; And he who swears in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; Because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hidden from My eyes.
17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
18 “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
19 “I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
20 “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 “They shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 “They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 “They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
24 “It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear.
25 “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD.
66:1 Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest?
2 “For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” says the LORD. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.
3 “He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man; He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck; He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood; He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol. Just as they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations,
4 “so will I choose their delusions, and bring their fears on them; Because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear; But they did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight.”
5 Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at His word: “Your brethren who hated you, who cast you out for My name’s sake, said, ‘Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy.’ But they shall be ashamed.”
6 The sound of noise from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of the LORD, who fully repays His enemies!
7 “Before she was in labor, she gave birth; Before her pain came, she delivered a male child.
8 “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children.
9 “Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the LORD. “Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” says your God.
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.”
The Lord teaches us our “place” through these chapters of Isaiah: we are not able to build for Him or do for Him anything that is not already His. Whatever we would use to make it, He has created. Our very bodies and minds, and the health of both that would allow us to work, these He has provided, as well. Thus, it is not that we are to fashion for ourselves or for others a more pleasant world, but that we are to stand in awe of the Creator and His grace, by which He makes the new heavens and the new earth that shall forever remain—and by which He makes us also to remain to enjoy them.
Therein is the true worship that continues always: the confidence that He calls us to Him who were not formerly called by His Name. Though He had right to us by creation, He has purchased and won us through the blood of His Son. He has won us by destroying that which held us in bondage—our sin that made us slaves to death and the devil. He purchased us by paying all the debt of that sin that we owed to Him. He has given us this confidence through His Word that creates such faith within us, and through the Sacraments that are given their power and effect by that Word.
We pray: Unto us a Child has been born; God the Son has come as Man to be given for us, fulfilling all righteousness and paying all that we owe. Through Him, O Father, You give us life in Your eternal Kingdom as Your own dear children, for which we praise You now and forever. Amen.