Saturday of the Week of Advent I
Based on Isaiah 6:1-13
Most of the readings in this season of Advent will be taken from the appointed New Testament passages in the three-year cycle mentioned in the introduction. Occasionally, when there are messages of particular interest or appropriateness to our Advent meditation, we will hear from the Old Testament. This is the first of those devotions, as we hear from Isaiah.
Our reading today begins with Isaiah’s vision of the Lord God, sitting upon a throne. The seraphim call to one another in a hymn of praise, “Holy, holy, holy is he Lord of hosts…” (See LBW Hymn 165). As Isaiah hears the voice from the throne shake the very foundations of the temple through clouds of incense, he is humbled and afraid, being an impure, unclean human being in the presence of the Almighty, the King, the Lord of Hosts. One of the seraphim touches Isaiah’s lips with a burning coal from the incense burner, purifying him to be a worthy prophet, capable of speaking the word of the Lord. And what does Isaiah prophesy? What is the word of the Lord for the people?
Isaiah’s task is not a welcome one, for he is to speak words of judgment on the people for their sin and disobedience — a judgment which would be visited upon them by the coming Assyrian invasion. We love to sing the words of the song, “Whom shall I send?” responding wholeheartedly, “Here I am, Lord, send me!” We would welcome the chance to bring Good News to the poor and the afflicted. Would we welcome, as well, the opportunity to proclaim the Law and judgment of God to the people? Isaiah is called to speak Law and Gospel to the people, in God’s good time and at the Lord’s instruction. His is not an easy calling, nevertheless. The proclamation of wrath and woe is balanced with hope for restoration, in the very next passage, announcing, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). We need to hear the Lord God’s announcement of judgment and wrath so that we may then more powerfully hear the Good News of His Son, Immanuel!
Prayer: Lord God, here I am, send me to speak your words of Law and Gospel, judgment and grace, that all may come to know your Son, Jesus, God With Us! Amen.
Advent action: In the pastor’s sermon tomorrow, see if you can discern both Law and Gospel.
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.
6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord seated on a high, elevated throne. The hem of his robe filled the temple. 2Seraphs stood over him; each one had six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and they used the remaining two to fly. 3They called out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! His majestic splendor fills the entire earth!” 4The sound of their voices shook the door frames, and the temple was filled with smoke.
5I said, “Woe to me! I am destroyed, for my lips are contaminated by sin, and I live among people whose lips are contaminated by sin. My eyes have seen the king, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” 6But then one of the seraphs flew toward me. In his hand was a hot coal he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7He touched my mouth with it and said, “Look, this coal has touched your lips. Your evil is removed; your sin is forgiven.” 8I heard the voice of the Lord say, “Whom will I send? Who will go on our behalf?” I answered, “Here I am, send me!” 9He said, “Go and tell these people:
“‘Listen continually, but don’t understand.
Look continually, but don’t perceive.’
10Make the hearts of these people calloused;
make their ears deaf and their eyes blind.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
their hearts might understand and they might repent and be healed.”
11I replied, “How long, Lord?” He said,
“Until cities are in ruins and unpopulated,
and houses are uninhabited,
and the land is ruined and devastated,
12and the Lord has sent the people off to a distant place,
and the very heart of the land is completely abandoned.
13Even if only a tenth of the people remain in the land,
it will again be destroyed,
like one of the large sacred trees or an Asherah pole,
when a sacred pillar on a high place is thrown down.
That sacred pillar symbolizes the special chosen family.”(NET Bible)
129:1 A song of ascents.
“Since my youth they have often attacked me,”
let Israel say.
2“Since my youth they have often attacked me,
but they have not defeated me.
3The plowers plowed my back;
they made their furrows long.
4The Lord is just;
he cut the ropes of the wicked.”
5May all who hate Zion
be humiliated and turned back.
6May they be like the grass on the rooftops,
which withers before one can even pull it up,
7which cannot fill the reaper’s hand
or the lap of the one who gathers the grain.
8Those who pass by will not say,
“May you experience the Lord’s blessing!
We pronounce a blessing on you in the name of the Lord.”(NET Bible)
1 Cor. 15:50–16:4
15:50 Now this is what I am saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen,
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 58So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
16:1 With regard to the collection for the saints, please follow the directions that I gave to the churches of Galatia: 2On the first day of the week, each of you should set aside some income and save it to the extent that God has blessed you, so that a collection will not have to be made when I come. 3Then, when I arrive, I will send those whom you approve with letters of explanation to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 4And if it seems advisable that I should go also, they will go with me.(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
[Luther writes]: “It is a notorious error to believe that by a statement such as this, ‘It is not permitted to explain Scripture by one’s own spirit’ (proprio spiritu) we are called upon to put the holy Scripture aside and to direct our attention to the commentaries of men and believe them. is explanation, I maintain, is doubtlessly invented by Satan himself that by that means he might lead us far away from Scripture and into a desperate understanding of Scripture. On the contrary, this statement wants to say that Scripture is to be understood alone through that spirit by whom it is written, which spirit you can nd more present and alive nowhere than in this holy Scripture written by him. Therefore, our endeavor must be not to put aside Scripture and to direct our attention to the human writings of the Fathers, but to spend all the more and all the more persistent labor alone on the holy Scripture, all the more since there is great danger that one might understand it with his own spirit, in order that the employment of such persistent labor might overcome that danger and finally assure us of the spirit of the Scripture which can be found nowhere else but in Scripture, for ‘here he did put up his tabernacle and in the heavens (that is, the apostles), his dwelling place.’ … Or tell me if you can, who is the judge who finally decides when two statements of the Fathers contradict themselves? Here the judgment of the Scripture decides, and this cannot be done if we do not give Scripture the first place so that Scripture itself is the most certain, the most accessible, the most readily understood which interprets itself and approves, judges, and illumines all (words) of all … as Psalm 118 (119:130) says.” (76–77)
–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.