Friday of the Week of Advent II
Based on 2 Corinthians 3:1-18
The comparison in this passage between Moses, veiling his face as he brings the Law to the people, and the veil being lifted for those who turn to the Lord is striking. How can one compare the awesomeness of God and His Law with the face of the babe of Bethlehem — innocent, life-giving, unassuming for all who might look upon Him? Moses veiled his face in fear. Mary, Joseph, the angels and shepherd looked upon the Baby without fear or trepidation.
Martin Luther wrote:
Behold Christ lying in the lap of his young mother, still a virgin…See how God invites you in many ways. He places before you a Babe with whom you may take refuge. You cannot fear him, for nothing is more appealing to man than a babe. Are you affrighted? Then come to him, lying in the lap of the fairest and sweetest maid. You will see how great is the divine goodness, which seeks above all else that you should not despair. Trust him! Trust him! Here is the Child in whom is salvation. To me there is no greater consolation given to mankind than this, that Christ became man, a child, a babe, playing in the lap and at the breasts of his most gracious mother (Martin Luther’s Christmas Book).
We are blessed that almighty God is not shrouded in clouds on a far-off mountain top, but that He invites us to come, see Him in the face of a child. “With whom you may take refuge. You cannot fear him, for nothing is more appealing…than a babe.”
Prayer: Almighty God, create in me a trusting heart, as I come to Jesus, in whom is my salvation. Amen.
Advent action: Take five minutes to meditate upon the face of baby Jesus — in a Christmas card, a nativity scene or artistic image.
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about Blessed is He Who Comes, visit thenalc.org/advent.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
10:20 At that time those left in Israel, those who remain of the family of Jacob, will no longer rely on a foreign leader that abuses them. Instead they will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. 21A remnant will come back, a remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. 22For though your people, Israel, are as numerous as the sand on the seashore, only a remnant will come back. Destruction has been decreed; just punishment is about to engulf you. 23The Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies, is certainly ready to carry out the decreed destruction throughout the land.
24So here is what the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies, says: “My people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of Assyria, even though they beat you with a club and lift their cudgel against you as Egypt did. 25For very soon my fury will subside, and my anger will be directed toward their destruction.” 26The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is about to beat them with a whip, similar to the way he struck down Midian at the rock of Oreb. He will use his staff against the sea, lifting it up as he did in Egypt.
27At that time
the Lord will remove their burden from your shoulders,
and their yoke from your neck;
the yoke will be taken off because your neck will be too large.
28 They attacked Aiath,
moved through Migron,
depositing their supplies at Micmash.
29They went through the pass,
spent the night at Geba.
Gibeah of Saul ran away.
30Shout out, daughter of Gallim!
Pay attention, Laishah!
Answer her, Anathoth!
the residents of Gebim have hidden.
32This very day, standing in Nob,
they shake their fist at Daughter Zion’s mountain –
at the hill of Jerusalem.
33Look, the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
is ready to cut off the branches with terrifying power.
The tallest trees will be cut down,
the loftiest ones will be brought low.
34The thickets of the forest will be chopped down with an ax,
and mighty Lebanon will fall.
11:1 A shoot will grow out of Jesse’s root stock,
a bud will sprout from his roots.
2The Lord’s Spirit will rest on him –
a Spirit that gives extraordinary wisdom,
a Spirit that provides the ability to execute plans,
a Spirit that produces absolute loyalty to the Lord.
3He will take delight in obeying the Lord.
He will not judge by mere appearances,
or make decisions on the basis of hearsay.
4He will treat the poor fairly,
and make right decisions for the downtrodden of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and order the wicked to be executed.
5Justice will be like a belt around his waist,
integrity will be like a belt around his hips.
6A wolf will reside with a lamb,
and a leopard will lie down with a young goat;
an ox and a young lion will graze together,
as a small child leads them along.
7A cow and a bear will graze together,
their young will lie down together.
A lion, like an ox, will eat straw.
8A baby will play
over the hole of a snake;
over the nest of a serpent
an infant will put his hand.
9They will no longer injure or destroy
on my entire royal mountain.
For there will be universal submission to the Lord’s sovereignty,
just as the waters completely cover the sea.(NET Bible)
135:1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the name of the Lord!
Offer praise, you servants of the Lord,
2who serve in the Lord’s temple,
in the courts of the temple of our God.
3Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good!
Sing praises to his name, for it is pleasant!
4Indeed, the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself,
Israel to be his special possession.
5Yes, I know the Lord is great,
and our Lord is superior to all gods.
6He does whatever he pleases
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all the ocean depths.
7He causes the clouds to arise from the end of the earth,
makes lightning bolts accompany the rain,
and brings the wind out of his storehouses.
8He struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
including both men and animals.
9He performed awesome deeds and acts of judgment
in your midst, O Egypt,
against Pharaoh and all his servants.
10He defeated many nations,
and killed mighty kings –
11Sihon, king of the Amorites,
and Og, king of Bashan,
and all the kingdoms of Canaan.
12He gave their land as an inheritance,
as an inheritance to Israel his people.(NET Bible)
2 Cor. 3:1–18
3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? We don’t need letters of recommendation to you or from you as some other people do, do we? 2You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone, 3revealing that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts.
4Now we have such confidence in God through Christ. 5Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as if it were coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 6who made us adequate to be servants of a new covenant not based on the letter but on the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
7But if the ministry that produced death – carved in letters on stone tablets – came with glory, so that the Israelites could not keep their eyes fixed on the face of Moses because of the glory of his face (a glory which was made ineffective), 8how much more glorious will the ministry of the Spirit be? 9For if there was glory in the ministry that produced condemnation, how much more does the ministry that produces righteousness excel in glory! 10For indeed, what had been glorious now has no glory because of the tremendously greater glory of what replaced it. 11For if what was made ineffective came with glory, how much more has what remains come in glory! 12Therefore, since we have such a hope, we behave with great boldness, 13and not like Moses who used to put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from staring at the result of the glory that was made ineffective. 14But their minds were closed. For to this very day, the same veil remains when they hear the old covenant read. It has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away. 15But until this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds, 16but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. 18And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
[Luther writes:] “Here the Spirit plainly ascribes to Scripture that it allumines and teaches, that understanding is given alone through the words of God as through a door for, as they call it, a first principle (principium primum) with which everyone who will come to light and understanding must begin. Again: “‘Principle or head of thine words is truth’ (Ps. 119:160). There you see that truth is here ascribed only to the head of the words of God, that is, if you learned the words of God in the rst place and used them as the first principle when you judged the words of all. And what else does this whole psalm do than to condemn the foolishness of our labor and call us back to the fountain (revocet ad fontem) and teach us that we should rst of all and alone spend our labor on the Word of God and that the Spirit is ready to come voluntarily and to expel our spirit so that we pursue theology without danger? … Therefore, nothing but the divine words are to be the first principles (prima principia) for Christians, all human words, however, are conclusions which are deducted from them and must again be reducted to them and approved by them. They must first of all be well known to everyone but not sought through men nor learned by them, but men must be judged by them. If this were not true, why should Augustine and the holy Fathers, whenever they contradict each other, go back to the holy Scripture as to the first principles of truth (ad sacras literas seu prima principia veritatis) and illumine and approve by their light and trustworthiness their own that is dark and uncertain? By doing so they teach that the divine words are more understand- able and certain than the words of all men, even their own … I do not want to be honored as one who is more learned than all, but this I desire that Scripture alone rule as queen (solam Scripturam regnare), and that it is not explained through my spirit or other men’s spirit but understood by itself and in its own spirit.” (77)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.