Archive for the ‘Isaiah 2’ Tag

Devotion for the First Sunday of Advent, Year A (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Isaiah Wall, United Nations, New York, New York

Image in the Public Domain

Eschatological Ethics

NOVEMBER 27, 2022


According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)


Isaiah 2:1-5

Psalm 122 (LBW) or Psalm 50:1-15 (LW)

Romans 13:11-14

Matthew 24:37-44 or Matthew 21:1-11


Stir up your power, O Lord, and come.

Protect us by your strength and

save us from the threatening dangers of our sins,

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 13


Stir up, we implore you, your power, O Lord, 

and come that by your protection

we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins

and be saved by your mighty deliverance;

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 10


When I compose a post based on lectionary readings, I prefer to write about a theme or themes running through the assigned readings.  The readings for this Sunday fall on the axis of divine judgment and mercy, in balance.  Hellfire-and-damnation preachers err in one direction.  Those who focus so much on divine mercy that they downplay judgment err in the polar opposite direction.

Isaiah 2:2-4, nearly identical to Micah 4:1-4 (or the other way around), predicts what, in Christian terms, is the fully-realized Kingdom of God.  The soaring, positive imagery of Isaiah 2:2-4 precedes divine judgment on the impious and impenitent–those who revel in the perils of their sins.  There is no place for such people in the fully-realized Kingdom of God.

Psalm 50 focuses on divine judgment.  YHWH is just, keeping faith with the “devoted ones” who have kept the moral mandates of the Law of Moses.  YHWH is just, prioritizing these moral mandates over ritual practices.  Rituals still matter, of course; they are part of the Law of Moses, too.  Yet these rites are never properly talismans, regardless of what people may imagine vainly.  People will still reap what they have sown.

Psalm 122 is a hymn of a devout pilgrim who had recently returned from Jerusalem.  The text fits neatly with Isaiah 2:1-4.  Psalm 122 acknowledges the faithfulness of God and the reality of “thrones of judgment.”

Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 21:1-11, and Matthew 24:37-44, like Isaiah 2:1-4, exist within the expectation of the establishment or unveiling of the fully-realized Kingdom of God.  We read of Jesus acting out Second Zechariah’s prediction of the Messiah’s arrival at Jerusalem at the fulfillment of time (Zechariah 9:9-10) in Matthew 21:1-11.  Romans 13:1-14 and Matthew 24:37-44 remind us to straighten up and fly right, so to speak.

St. Paul the Apostle identified the resurrection of Jesus as the dawn of a new historical era.  Naturally, therefore, he taught that salvation had come nearer.  St. Paul also expected Jesus to return soon–nearly 2000 years ago from our perspective, O reader.  St. Paul’s inaccurate expectation has done nothing to minimize the importance of his ethical counsel.

Forbidden fruits frequently prove alluring, perhaps because they are forbidden.  Their appeal may wear off, however.  This is my experience.  That which really matters is consistent with mutuality, the Law of Moses, and the Golden Rule.  That which really matters builds up the common good.  This standard is about as tangible as any standard can be.

Let us be careful, O reader, not to read into Romans 13:14 that which is not there.  I recall Babette’s Feast (1987), a delightful movie set in a dour, Pietistic “Sad Dane” Lutheran settlement.  Most of the characters are unwilling even to enjoy their food, literally a “provision for the flesh.”  One can live honorably as in the day while enjoying the pleasures of life.

Advent is a bifurcated season.  It begins with mostly somber readings.  By the end of Advent, however, the readings are more upbeat.  Just as divine judgment and mercy exist in balance, so do the two halves of Advent.










Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA


Devotion for the First Sunday of Advent, Year A (Humes)   1 comment

Above:   Icon of the Second Coming

Image in the Public Domain

Preparation for the Second Coming

NOVEMBER 27, 2022


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


Isaiah 2:1-5

Psalm 122

Romans 13:11-14

Matthew 24:36-44


The thematic unity of the pericopes is evident.  One reads mainly of the future, when God will engage in creative destruction then set the world right.  In the meantime, one reads, one has moral imperatives to follow.

The pairing of Isaiah 2:-15 and Psalm 122 works well.  In Isaiah 2, Gentiles make pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the future; they seek instruction.  In that future God also settles disputes nonviolently.  In Psalm 122 Jews make pilgrimage to Jerusalem in what was then their present.  If one continues to read Isaiah 2 after the fifth verse, one finds a text of divine judgment against the proud and the arrogant, against those who commit idolatry, against those who glorify humankind, not God.  It is a message as pertinent in 2018, when I write this post, as it was during the lifetime of First Isaiah.

We read in Matthew that nobody–not even Jesus–knows when the Second Coming will occur, but that one should, for one’s sake, remain alert and be prepared.  It is obvious from Romans 13 that St. Paul the Apostle, in 56-57 C.E., expected that event to occur sooner rather than later relative to his present day.   Not one of we mere mortals knows any more about the actual timing of the Second Coming than St. Paul did, but his advice to live honorably is always germane.

This is a devotion for the First Sunday of Advent, a season with eschatological overtones and concerned with preparation for the coming of Christ.  Given the fact that Advent precedes the season of Christmas, one might expect an emphasis on the First Coming.  There is some of that, yes.  Nevertheless, we ought never to forget the aspect of the preparation for the Second Coming, as is evident in this set of readings.









Devotion for November 28 in Advent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  A Crucifix Outside a Church

Loving Each Other Intensely from the Heart in God

NOVEMBER 28, 2022


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 2:1-22

Psalm 50 (Morning)

Psalms 14 and 16 (Evening)

1 Peter 1:13-25


Some Related Posts:

Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service:

Fill Our Hearts with Joy and Grace:

O Christ, Who Called the Twelve:

A Prayer for Compassion:

A Prayer to Embrace Love, Empathy, and Compassion, and to Eschew Hatred, Invective, and Willful Ignorance:

An Advent Prayer of Confession:


O House of Jacob!

Come, let us walk

By the light of the LORD.

–Isaiah 2:5, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures


Since by your obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves so that you can experience the genuine love of brothers, love each other intensely from the heart….

–1 Peter 1:22, The New Jerusalem Bible


Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and make good your vows to the Most High.

–Psalm 50:14, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


This day’s readings speak of the imperative of positive human responses to divine actions.  “God will end the Babylonian Exile; get ready.”  That is the essence of Isaiah 2.  Gratitude is in order of course.  But gratitude consists of more than saying, “Thank you!” or sending a note or card.  It is really a matter of attitude, which informs how we live.  1 Peter 1:22, set in the context of Christ’s sacrifice for us, tells us, in the lovely words of The New Jerusalem Bible, to

love each other intensely from the heart.

I like to listen to radio podcasts.  Recently I listened to an interview with Karen Armstrong on the topic of the Golden Rule.  She said that many of us prefer to be proved right than to live compassionately.  This statement rings true with me.  How often have I wanted to win an argument more than to live as a merely decent human being?  Too many times!  One instance is one time too many.

May we–you, O reader, and I–look around.  Whomever we see, may we love those individuals intensely from the heart.  That is what Jesus did.









Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Barnabas Episcopal-Lutheran Worshiping Community, Jefferson City, Tennessee

(Their website is here:

Let Us Emphasize Our Common Ground and Build On It


From Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

Isaiah 2:2-4

Psalm 122

Ephesians 4:1-6

John 17:15-23

God our Father, your Son Jesus Christ prayed that his followers might be one.  Make all Christians one with him as he is one with you, so that in peace and concord we may carry to the world the message of your love, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.


Now, for my thoughts….

We Christians have divided ourselves into competing theological and liturgical tribes since the earliest decades of the Jesus movement.  For confirmation of this, read the New Testament epistles.  Sometimes these divisions are silly or based on ego gratification.  Other times, however, the matters are weightier.  Yet the tragedy of schism remains, even after stated issues which people used to justify the schism have become moot points or ceased to points of contention.  Inertia preserves a high degree of divisiveness within Christianity.

Sometimes schisms remain insurmountable.  Yet this fact should not prevent Christians of good will from reaching across boundaries to identify and build upon common ground, to do something positive and for the glory of God together.  I do not expect the Anabaptists and Roman Catholics to reconcile, but they can cooperate.  Last Sunday afternoon I listened to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio interview with a Mennonite pastor who maintains a close faith-based relationship with nearby Catholic monks, often praying with them.

And I believe that when two or more denominations cease to have good reasons to remain separate they should open negotiations to unite organically.  But when issues, such as baptismal theology, prevent a merger, the groups can still cooperate on other matters.  We Christians have more in common with each other than not.  May we build on that.


JUNE 11, 2010



Second Day of Advent   13 comments


Above:  Design Drawing for Stained-Glass Window with Centurion for Church of the Good Shepherd, Raleigh, North Carolina

Designed by J. & R. Lamb Studios

Image Source = Library of Congress


Human Faith and Divine Mercy



First Reading for Year A:  Isaiah 4:2-6 (Revised English Bible):

On that day the plant that the LORD has grown will become glorious in its beauty, and the fruit of the land will be pride and the splendour of the survivors of Israel.

Then those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, every one whose survival in Jerusalem was decreed will be called holy.  When the Lord washes away the filth of the women of Zion and cleanses Jerusalem from bloodstains by a spirit of judgment burning like fire, he will create a cloud of smoke by day and a bright flame of fire by night over the whole building on Mount Zion and over all her assemblies; for his glory will be a canopy over all, a cover giving shade by day from the heat, a refuge and shelter from storm and rain.

First Reading for Years B and C:  Isaiah 2:1-5 (Revised English Bible):

This is the message which Isaiah son of Amon received in a vision, about Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come

the mountain of the Lord’s house

will be set over all other mountains,

raised high above the hills.

All the nations will stream towards it,

and many peoples will go and say,

Let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,

to the house of the God of Jacob,

that he may teach us his ways

and that we may walk in his paths.

For instruction comes from Zion,

and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

He will judge between the nations

as arbiter among many peoples.

They will beat their swords into mattocks

and their spears into pruning-knives;

nation will not lift up sword against nation

nor ever again be trained for war.

Come, people of Jacob,

let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Psalm 122 (Revised English Bible):

I rejoiced when they said to me,

Let us go to the house of the LORD.

Now we are standing

within your gates, Jerusalem:

Jerusalem, a city built

compactly and solidly.

There the tribes went up, the tribes of the LORD,

the duty laid on Israel.

For there the thrones of justice were set,

the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

May those who love you prosper;

peace be within your ramparts

and prosperity in your palaces.

For the sake of these my brothers and my friends,

I shall say,

Peace be within you.

For the sake of the house of the LORD our God

I shall pray for your well-being.

Matthew 8:5-13 (Revised English Bible):

As Jesus entered Capernaum a centurion came up to ask his help.


he said,

my servant is lying at home paralyzed and racked with pain.

Jesus said,

I will come and cure him.

But he centurion replied,

Sir, I am not worthy to have you under my roof.  You need only say the word, and my servant will be cured.  I know, for I am myself under orders, with soldiers under me.  I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; to another, ‘Come here,’ and he he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.’

Jesus heard him with astonishment, and said to the people who were following him,

Truly I tell you: nowhere in Israel have I found such faith.  Many, I tell you, will come from east to west to sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of Heaven.  But those who were born to the kingdom will be thrown out into the dark, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

Then Jesus said to the centurion,

Go home, as you have believed, so let it be.

At that very moment the boy recovered.

The Collect:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


The two Old Testament options speak of what God will establish on earth.  God, we read, will create peace and justice on the planet at an unspecified time.  Then, in the psalm, we find mention of peace in Jerusalem (That would be nice.) and human devotion toward God.  Yet such faith is not restricted to Hebrews, as the lection from Matthew makes clear.  The centurion was an officer of the Roman army, the military force occupying the Jewish homeland.  He was the face of the enemy, and he had more faith in Jesus than did many of Jesus’ countrymen.

During Advent we Christians are supposed to prepare for Christmas.  So may we let Jesus gestate liturgically until late December 24.  News of the approaching birth of the incarnate Word of God is joyous indeed, and it is for all–Jews and Gentiles alike–who have active faith in it.  Ethnicity and race do not matter; neither do social status nor national origin nor politics.  As I have written on this blog and will certainly write again, grace can be scandalous.  It is like the wind and the Holy Spirit; it goes where it will.

As we take these early steps in our Advent pilgrimage may we embrace the scandal of grace and extend it to others, as we have opportunity.


Written on May 31, 2010

First Day of Advent: First Sunday of Advent, Year A   35 comments

Above:  The Swords into Plowshares Statue at the United Nations

Image Source = Melesse

God With Us

NOVEMBER 27, 2022


Isaiah 2:1-5 (New Revised Standard Version):

The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come

the mountain of the LORD’s house

shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

and shall be raised above the hills;

all the nations shall stream to it.

Many people shall come and say,

Come let us go up tot he mountain of the LORD,

to the house of the God of Jacob;

that he may teach us his paths.

For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,

and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

He shall judge between the nations,

and shall arbitrate for many peoples;

they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

and their spears into pruning hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

neither shall they learn war any more.

O house of Jacob,

come, let us walk

in the light of the LORD!


Psalm 122 (New Revised Standard Version):

I was glad when they said to me,

Let us go to the house of the LORD!

Our feet are standing

within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem–built as a city

that is bound firmly together.

To it the tribes go up,

the tribes of the LORD,

as was decreed for Israel,

to give thanks for the name of the LORD.

For there the thrones of judgment were set up,

the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

May they prosper who love you.

Peace be within your walls,

and security within your towers.

For the sake of my relatives and friends

I will say,

Peace be within you.

For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,

I will seek your good.


Romans 13:11-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.


Matthew 24:36-44 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said to the disciples,

But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

The Collect:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Happy New Year!  The First Sunday of Advent opens the Western Christian Year.  (The Eastern Orthodox churches keep a different schedule.)  About four weeks from the First Sunday of Advent falls Christmas day.  So, in Western Christian sacred time, this is a time to begin preparing for Christmas, much as Lent is a time of preparation for Easter.  I encourage you, O reader, to give Advent its full due attention, not rushing to Christmas Day.  In fact, I prefer to hold off on “Merry Christmas” greetings until about December 24.  The rest of the time I wish people a “Holy Advent.”

The name “Emmanuel” means “God with us.”  This summarizes the readings for this day.  They speak of the God who is present with us, what this deity will do at some unspecified time, and the responsibilities the faithful must execute in this context.  These lessons tell us that God loves us, expects us to behave ourselves, and will establish justice on the earth in the future.

No mere mortal can predict the future with perfect accuracy.  Science fiction scenarios look dated with the passage of time.  Think about the computer technology in 2001:  A Space Odyssey (1968), for example.  The computers are SO BIG compared to what they were in 2001, much less 2010.  And since shortly after the time Jesus walked the earth people have predicted his return many times, often with specific dates.  One of my favorite thrift store finds is a small paperback book, Christ Returns by 1988:  101 Reasons Why, by Colin Hoyle Deal.  I feel safe in claiming that 1988 came and went without Jesus returning.

Let us not become so preoccupied with reading the news in hopes of identifying the Antichrist or other apocalyptic indicators that we give short shrift to or ignore signs of God’s actual  activity around us.  Alleged Antichrists have come and gone; they are ranged from Adolf Hitler to Joseph Stalin to Ronald Wilson Reagan–the latter for having three names, each with six letters–666.  All politics aside, I propose that to become caught up prophesy is a fool’s errand, and that we Christians need to focus on the present constructively.  God is active all around us; do we not see it.  If we look with spiritual eyes we will see Jesus in friends, strangers, and even in those we dislike.  We will witness divine activity in places we expect the least or do anticipate at all.  So we will know more deeply that God is with us and will remain with us, and that this fact makes certain demands upon us.

As for the rest, the details will be what they will be.  And any of us could be wrong about our predictions.  Sometimes a belief that Jesus’ Second Coming is near has become a reason not to seek social justice or not to conserve part of the natural world.  Yet we humans have a mandate to care for creation and to seek social justice.  So let us live faithfully in the present tense, leaving the future to God.



P.S.: The Episcopal Church has adopted an Advent lectionary.  My practice regarding Advent is as follows:  I use the designated Year A readings, according to the Revised Common Lectionary and the lessons which are part of the Episcopal lectionary for Advent.  This lectionary designates Monday-Saturday lessons for the first two weeks of Advent, Monday-Friday readings for the Third Week of Advent, and dated lessons for December 24.  I will provide devotions for all of these, including Friday in the Third Week, which will fall on December 17 in 2010 and December 19, which will double as the Fourth Sunday of Advent this year.  My intention is that these devotions will roll over from year to year, adding Year B Sundays next year and Year C Sundays the year after that, and changing dates on blog posts as necessary each year.

So I invite you to accompany me on this faith journey.

Pax vobiscum,


Written on May 31, 2010


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