Saturday after the Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Isaiah 48:1-22 (NKJV)
1 “Hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and have come forth from the wellsprings of Judah; Who swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth or in righteousness;
2 “For they call themselves after the holy city, and lean on the God of Israel; The LORD of hosts is His name:
3 “I have declared the former things from the beginning; They went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.
4 “Because I knew that you were obstinate, and your neck was an iron sinew, and your brow bronze,
5 “Even from the beginning I have declared it to you; Before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you, lest you should say, ‘My idol has done them, and my carved image and my molded image have commanded them.’
6 “You have heard; See all this. And will you not declare it? I have made you hear new things from this time, even hidden things, and you did not know them.
7 “They are created now and not from the beginning; And before this day you have not heard them, lest you should say, ‘Of course I knew them.’
8 “Surely you did not hear, surely you did not know; Surely from long ago your ear was not opened. For I knew that you would deal very treacherously, and were called a transgressor from the womb.
9 “For My name’s sake I will defer My anger, and for My praise I will restrain it from you, so that I do not cut you off.
10 “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
11 “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; For how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another.
12 “Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last.
13 “Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has stretched out the heavens; When I call to them, they stand up together.
14 “All of you, assemble yourselves, and hear! Who among them has declared these things? The LORD loves him; He shall do His pleasure on Babylon, and His arm shall be against the Chaldeans.
15 “I, even I, have spoken; Yes, I have called him, I have brought him, and his way will prosper.
16 “Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me.”
17 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go.
18 “Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
19 “Your descendants also would have been like the sand, and the offspring of your body like the grains of sand; His name would not have been cut off nor destroyed from before Me.”
20 Go forth from Babylon! Flee from the Chaldeans! With a voice of singing, declare, proclaim this, utter it to the end of the earth; Say, “The LORD has redeemed His servant Jacob!”
21 And they did not thirst when He led them through the deserts; He caused the waters to flow from the rock for them; He also split the rock, and the waters gushed out.
22 “There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”
Isaiah, like most of the prophets, goes back and forth, addressing the wicked in Israel and then the righteous in Israel, the impenitent and the penitent, unbelievers and believers. In one verse he threatens punishment, then promises deliverance, alternating between Law and Gospel. We certainly see that in today’s reading.
The Law had an intended effect for each group. For the impenitent, the prophecies of destruction were to frighten them and bring them to repentance. For those who still would not repent, the Law was the damning testimony against them and the harbinger of final judgment. For the penitent, the same prophecies of the Law served as reminders that they stood only by faith, to keep them focused on God’s grace and the Redeemer whom He would send to rescue them from sin, death, and the power of the devil.
The Gospel also had an intended effect for each group. For the penitent, the announcement of God’s favor and the sweet promises of deliverance served as great comfort and provided strength as they patiently endured under the cross. For the impenitent, the promises of divine favor and deliverance demonstrated their foolishness in rejecting such a good God and the salvation He offered in Christ.
Believers and unbelievers will always live side by side in the Church, hearing both Law and Gospel proclaimed from the pulpit. May our ears ever be attentive to His Word, that His Spirit may work daily contrition and repentance in us and cause us to cling to Christ, our Redeemer, who will soon free us from this bondage to decay and lead us safely into His heavenly kingdom.
We pray: O Lord, open our hearts to hear what Your Spirit says to the churches, that we may join the saints in the glory of everlasting life; through Christ, our Lord. Amen.