January 2, 2012

Tuesday after the First Sunday after Christmas, Tenth Day of Christmas

Lectionary

Morning – Ps. 66, Is. 64:4, 1 Jn. 3:13
Evening – Ps. 34, Is. 65:8-16, Heb. 4:14-5:14

Commentary
Isaiah 64-65:16

Isaiah 64 follows a deep and moving prayer for redemption of the people of Judea. Isaiah did not live to see Judea invaded and conquered by Babylon. But, by the Spirit of God, he saw in prophesy both the conquest and restoration of the land. Chapter 63 asked God to remember that He is the “Father” and God of the Jews, and to remember mercy even in His very just anger. The Jews in Babylon would read these words, and, by the grace of God, some of them would understand that their captivity was God’s just response to their sin, meant to correct them and to call them back to God’s gracious blessings. God does cleanse and chastise His people.

This morning’s reading begins in 64:4, where the prophet tells of God’s merciful answer to their prayers. He will do more for them than simply return them to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. He will send the Messiah, who will ultimately deliver them into a Kingdom that is far greater than they can imagine (vs. 4). The most earnest prayers for relief are worthless without real sorrow for and turning away from sin, and in verse 6 the prophet is moved to a prayer of humble confession and repentance for all of Judea. The prayer will be read by the captives in Babylon, many of who may be moved to confess their own sins, and to really and truly seek God.

The evening reading shows God’s merciful response to those who truly repent and unfeignedly believe His holy Gospel. There will be blessings for them (65:8). They will inherit the holy mountain, meaning Jerusalem and the Temple mount, and, ultimately, the Kingdom of the Messiah (65:9). Places now barren wasteland will blossom with abundance (65:10), meaning abundance in the things of God.

The blessings will not come before repentance, and repentance will not come before chastisement. Thus God says again that the sword will come to Jerusalem. Verses 11-16 tell of both wrath and grace. Some will be saved from the sword and will repent and return to God. How sad that they would not repent before the sword came to them.

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