Tuesday of the Week of Advent III
Based on 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1
When Paul warns against being “unequally yoked with unbelievers,” he may be thinking of the commandment in Deuteronomy 22:10, “You shall not plow with an ox and an ass together.” The reality is the ox will pull more strongly than the donkey and, inevitably, you will be plowing astray! Paul’s warning is a challenge to us in our daily lives as disciples and followers of Jesus. What about our families in which we have brothers and sisters who are unbelievers? What about at work, where the owner of our company is an unbeliever? What does this mean for our social life? Sometimes in life we have to be “unequally yoked with unbelievers!”
In this passage, we are warned, exhorted and challenged. God become human, taking on flesh and blood in Jesus, born in Bethlehem to make His dwelling with us means He is to be our God and we are to be His people. God walks with us! God talks with us! Christ Jesus is a participant in our dinner table conversation, with us in our family arguments, sitting at the table with us at church council meetings. How can we honor and respect “God With Us” one minute, having to live with unbelievers and idolaters the next?
The Lord says, “Go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you.” Paul says, “Since we have these promises (the promises of God’s presence with us), beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” Every moment of every day, we are tempted to choose darkness rather than light, to leave God in the church building so that we can go about our worldly business without restriction. Paul is making life hard for us in the words of this passage! We will necessarily struggle as we sometimes have to live with and relate to “unbelievers.” Living life in the world but not of the world is always a challenge. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. How we then live is the reality of life as a disciple and follower of Jesus.
Prayer: Lord God, by your incarnate presence, cleanse and purify us. Give us courage to go out and separate, when necessary, that we may be welcome in Your kingdom and household. Amen.
Advent action: Discuss this passage with a trusted fellow Christian — what does it mean for me, how do I live in response to this warning, exhortation and challenge in my daily life?
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.
14:12 “Look how you have fallen from the sky,
O shining one, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the ground,
O conqueror of the nations!
13You said to yourself,
‘I will climb up to the sky.
Above the stars of El
I will set up my throne.
I will rule on the mountain of assembly
on the remote slopes of Zaphon.
14I will climb up to the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High!’
15But you were brought down to Sheol,
to the remote slopes of the Pit.
16Those who see you stare at you,
they look at you carefully, thinking:
‘Is this the man who shook the earth,
the one who made kingdoms tremble?
17Is this the one who made the world like a wilderness,
who ruined its cities
and refused to free his prisoners so they could return home?’
18 As for all the kings of the nations,
all of them lie down in splendor,
each in his own tomb.
19But you have been thrown out of your grave
like a shoot that is thrown away.
You lie among the slain,
among those who have been slashed by the sword,
among those headed for the stones of the Pit,
as if you were a mangled corpse.
20You will not be buried with them,
because you destroyed your land
and killed your people.
“The offspring of the wicked
will never be mentioned again.
21Prepare to execute his sons
for the sins their ancestors have committed.
They must not rise up and take possession of the earth
or fill the surface of the world with cities.
22“I will rise up against them,”
says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
“I will blot out all remembrance of Babylon and destroy all her people,
including the offspring she produces,”
says the Lord.
23“I will turn her into a place that is overrun with wild animals
and covered with pools of stagnant water.
I will get rid of her, just as one sweeps away dirt with a broom,”
says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.(NET Bible)
138:1 By David.
I will give you thanks with all my heart;
before the heavenly assembly I will sing praises to you.
2I will bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name,
because of your loyal love and faithfulness,
for you have exalted your promise above the entire sky.
3When I cried out for help, you answered me.
You made me bold and energized me.
4Let all the kings of the earth give thanks to you, O Lord,
when they hear the words you speak.
5Let them sing about the Lord’s deeds,
for the Lord’s splendor is magnificent.
6Though the Lord is exalted, he looks after the lowly,
and from far away humbles the proud.
7Even when I must walk in the midst of danger, you revive me.
You oppose my angry enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
8The Lord avenges me.
O Lord, your loyal love endures.
Do not abandon those whom you have made.(NET Bible)
2 Cor. 6:14–7:1
6:14 Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? 16And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17Therefore “come out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, and I will welcome you, 18and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the All-Powerful Lord.
7:1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that could defile the body and the spirit, and thus accomplish holiness out of reverence for God. (NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
[Luther writes]: “The Holy Spirit is the most simple writer and speaker in heaven and earth; therefore His words have only one sense, the most simple one, which we call the literal sense.” … “In order that these word jugglers may be seen in their true light, I ask them, who told them that the fathers are clearer and not more obscure than the Scripture? How would it be if I said that they understand the Fathers as little as I understand the Scriptures? I could just as well stop my ears to the sayings of the Fathers as they do to the Scriptures. But in that way we shall never arrive at the truth. If the Spirit has spoken in the fathers, so much the more has He spoken in His own Scriptures. And if one does not understand the Spirit in His own Scriptures, who will trust him to understand the Spirit in the writings of another? That is truly a carrying of the sword in the scabbard, when we do not take the naked sword by itself but only as it is encased in the words and glosses of men. This dulls its edge and makes it obscurer than it was before, though Emser calls it smiting with the blade. The bare sword makes him tremble from head to foot. Be it known, then, that Scripture without any gloss is the sun and the sole light from which all teachers receive their light, and not the contrary. This is proved by the fact that, when the fathers teach anything, they do not trust their teaching but, fearing it to be too obscure and uncertain, they go to the Scriptures and take a clear passage out of it to shed light on their teaching, just as we place a light in a lantern, and as we read in Ps. 18: ‘Thou wilt light my lamp, O Lord.’” (77–78)
–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.