Saturday after Gaudete, The Third Sunday in Advent
Scripture: Isaiah 52:1-12 (NKJV)
1 Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean shall no longer come to you. 2 Shake yourself from the dust, arise; Sit down, O Jerusalem! Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion!
3 For thus says the Lord: “You have sold yourselves for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.” 4 For thus says the Lord God: “My people went down at first into Egypt to dwell there; Then the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. 5 Now therefore, what have I here,” says the Lord, “That My people are taken away for nothing? Those who rule over them make them wail,” says the Lord, “And My name is blasphemed continually every day. 6 Therefore My people shall know My name; Therefore they shall know in that day that I am He who speaks: ‘Behold, it is I.'”
7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
8 Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together; For they shall see eye to eye when the Lord brings back Zion. 9 Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem! For the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The Lord has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; And all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. 11 Depart! Depart! Go out from there, touch no unclean thing; Go out from the midst of her, be clean, you who bear the vessels of the Lord. 12 For you shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight; For the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.
As a child I would carry the redeemable soda bottles back to the grocery store for my mother. They would buy them back for 10 cents apiece. Jesus has bought us back. Isaiah says, “And you shall be redeemed without money.” The cost for us is nothing; but the cost to our God is the precious body and blood of Christ. Out of great love for us, God gave us His Son. On Christmas Day we will hear the angel “who proclaims peace, who brings glad tiding of good things, who proclaims salvation.” Jesus Christ is the holy arm of the Lord “made bare” that He might fight for us and win our release. In the coming of Jesus Christ, our God is graciously carrying us back to Himself.
We sin when we don’t live thankful lives in Christ’s forgiveness. Our God desires that the redeemed of the Lord would “break forth into joy” and “sing together.” He desires lives of thankfulness and praise. He desires that we put on the “beautiful garments” of righteousness which the Lord Jesus has provided. He desires that we, who have blasphemed His Name, would know His Name and keep it holy.
He continues to call us to confession and absolution. Awake from your stupor. Depart from your sin. Believe in Christ and you are forgiven. “For the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” Join with the congregation to hear the watchmen proclaim the Gospel, and then respond with lives of thankfulness and praise.
We pray: Heavenly Father, give us thankful hearts that, believing in Christ, we may believe Your Holy Word and lead godly lives here in time, and thereafter in eternity. Amen.