Daily reading: December 5th

Read Bible Verses

Read Is 11:1—12:6

Isa 11:1-4 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. (2) And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (3) And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, (4) but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

Isa 12:1-6 You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me. (2) “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” (3) With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (4) And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. (5) “Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. (6) Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

And there’s a lot of other good stuff between 11:4 and 12:1 but let us focus on this today. David’s house shall be cut low down to the stump with is his father, Jesse. The shoot coming forth is a new David. The fullness of the Holy Spirit shall rest upon him. He will not judge as others judge. Verse 10 tells us not only is it a shoot from the stump of Jesse but the root of Jesse as well. So he comes before Jesse and after Jesse. This of course is Jesus who is of the house of David according to the flesh but who is the Son of God who precedes all creation and is its author, that is, God, the Lord Almighty. The Holy Spirit rested upon him at his baptism by John and we see the action of his wisdom in his earthly ministry. We shall see it fully at his return when he judges the earth.

Jesus is raised up as a signal to the nation in his crucifixion and in his lifting up he draws all to himself. All Israel, all men, all creation are drawn into Christ and is redeemed by him on the cross. Even now we see this as Jesus gathers his people from all nations into his body the Church. We shall see this even more clearly at his return. And at Christ Jesus’ return those who looked to him shall be raised or changed to everlasting life and those who refused his love, forgiveness, and mercy shall be raised to everlasting perdition.

Which is why “in that day,” we will be giving thanks and praise and honor and glory; for he has turned away his wrath and anger. Even now we sing, (2) “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” Even now we sing, “Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. (5) “Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. (6) Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” But then we shall sing it even more gloriously and with more forever.

Lord Jesus Christ, we give you thanks that you have drawn us from all nations by your crucifixion that we may know, understand and believe that in that action God’s wrath has been set aside and is now our salvation, strength and song. May all who hear our praise of your name become fellow partakers of our song in that day to everlasting salvation. Amen

Daily Reading: December 4

Read Is 10:12–27a, 33–34
Isa 10:12-19 When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. (13) For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones. (14) My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken, so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing or opened the mouth or chirped.” (15) Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood! (16) Therefore the Lord GOD of hosts will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire. (17) The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day. (18) The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land the LORD will destroy, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away. (19) The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few that a child can write them down.

There is a double fulfillment at work here in today’s text from Isaiah. One points to a fulfillment in the time of Isaiah, the other to the last day when Christ returns. First we see how the Lord, the God of Hosts views the attitude towards the king of the Assyrians. The king is boastful and full of pride. He believes it was his skill, power and the like which has won him much of the earth he has conquered. But the Lord rebukes him accosting him and reminding he that he is simply the tool of the Lord’s wrath against his people Israel and Judah who have turned against faith in the Lord.

Because of his pride and arrogance the Lord is going to bring the king to ruin and of his reign who will tell of it. Of his descendents, do we even know, can we even tell who they are? And indeed, the Lord eventually brought about the ruin of the Assyrians. The Babylonians would take their place eventually, then the Persians and Medes, followed by the Greek and then the Romans. The Holy Roman empire, the Spaniards, French, English and Germans, the Russians, the Americans, the Chinese have all had their empires and they all thought their own hand, power, might and wisdom had gotten them where they were at some point in time and they likewise fall away. It is and was the Lord our God, Jesus Christ, who guides the fates of nations and empires. There are two more great kingdoms left to be brought to bear. It is our Lord who lifts both up. There is the kingdom of the World, which is always the same kingdom no matter the name, which is the original world kingdom, Babylon, which man thinks he creates and there is the kingdom of God which uses Babylon for Jesus’ own purposes and glory. In the end, as Isaiah says, (17) “The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day.” Jesus is the Holy One who will defeat the kings of this world with the breath of his mouth and turn all those who fight against him and his Church into food for birds. (Rev. 19) But to those who trust in the gift of Jesus’ merits, righteousness, forgiveness and life, they are his Israel whom he gathers to himself eternally.

Lord Jesus Christ, may pride have no place in our minds nor in the minds of those who lead our country that we may continually give glory and praise to you for all temporal and eternal goods. Amen.

Daily Reading: December 3

Read Is 9:8—10:11
Isa 9:13-18 The people did not turn to him who struck them, nor inquire of the LORD of hosts. (14) So the LORD cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed in one day— (15) the elder and honored man is the head, and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail; (16) for those who guide this people have been leading them astray, and those who are guided by them are swallowed up. (17) Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men, and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows; for everyone is godless and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. (18) For wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke.

Hear this prophecy against Israel, God’s chosen people. Pay attention! These disasters which overtook Israel, these armies of the Assyrians which are about to overtake the land of Syria, Lebanon and Israel were warnings from the Lord of Hosts to repent. The Lord struck his own people to wake them up from their sins but they preferred their slumber. So in one day he would take away both elders and priests, church and state. These two institutions took away the people of the Lord and caused them to believe a lie. The people not only turned to false gods and to a false faith but in doing so their hearts turned cold and sought out their own benefit over their neighbor, the widow, the orphan, the poor and foreigner at the gate. They did not recognize the signs and turn to the Lord or inquire of them.
See the fierce anger and wrath of the Lord. These people whom he has chosen, he will not rejoice in their young men and have no pity on the fatherless and widow. All had sinned and turned away from the Lord their God to follow and perform wickedness. So he finally let their wickedness burn them up and the Assyrians came who destroyed house and home. They killed women and children. They had no mercy on the Israelites and the survivors were taken away as slaves.
What the Lord did to the Israelites is to be a lesson for us and the world. Many false pastors and Christians think the Lord does not hold the nations of the world to account. They dismiss natural disasters and foreign and native born attacks as nothing but the course in life of an evil world. While it is true that these things happen to us because we are in an evil world, we are not to dismiss them out of hand and have self-righteous indignation. When we do, we are acting like the ancient Israelites. Know this, the sins of the world are piling up and our own wickedness will bring the whole cosmos into ruin through flames of judgment. The Church is not the instrument of God’s judgment but the voice calling out to repent of false gods, false doctrine and a wicked life and turn to God’s mercy, love, kindness and forgiveness found only in Christ Jesus.
When evil befalls us and our nation then we need to repent. We need to inquire of the Lord, examine ourselves and our city, county, state and nation. We need to decry our and our nation’s sins. We need to point out the false teachers and depose (through the appointed means) those leaders of our government who increase wickedness in our land. Not only for things such as legalizing abortion, homosexual marriages, easy divorces and the like but also to make sure the poor, the elderly, the orphan are not oppressed and are cared for. Let us confess our and our nations sin and turn to Jesus for mercy and guidance in both Church and State.

Lord Jesus Christ, grant us and our nation repentance. Give us your Spirit to trust in you, to love our neighbor and for leaders who will govern us with wisdom, justice, equity with righteousness

Daily Reading: December 2

Read Is 8:9—9:7
Isa 8:13-17 But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. (14) And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (15) And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.” (16) Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. (17) I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him….. 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone… (6) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

The people of Israel and Judah lost their fear of the Lord and thereby lost the Lord, the God of Hosts. They went chasing after other gods and other means of receiving spiritual and temporal guidance other than the Lord who told them in the Law to seek Him and only Him and His direction. So the Lord calls out to His people here in Isaiah 8 and 9 to return to Him. The Lord they were to honor as holy. The Lord was to be their fear and dread. When the Lord is their fear and dread then He becomes their sanctuary and their solid rock foundation.

But here they do not make the Lord their fear and dread, instead of their foundation, He becomes the rock with smashes them to pieces and grinds them to dust. He becomes a snare and a trap. He hides himself from those who rejected Him that they might seek the Lord. Isaiah understands this and he binds the testimony of the Lord and seals his disciples with the teachings of the Lord.

Jesus fulfills this prophecy in his first advent to Israel in the flesh. It is Jesus in whom we are to have the fear and dread of the Lord. With the proper fear and dread of Christ Jesus, he becomes for us our sanctuary from the wrath of the Almighty. He binds and seals us with his promises and his sacraments. In his days among us in the visible flesh, Jesus was the light shining in the darkness in the land of the Gentiles and Samaritans. Jesus is the child who becomes for us “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” As such, even now Jesus is reigning over creation at the right hand of God. We place our hope in him. When Christ returns visibly he will establish in the new heavens and new earth justice with righteousness forevermore. In the meantime as we wait, we turn to Christ Jesus for all our needs and he promises to hear, protect and be with us at all times. It is in this hope that we live our lives. We need not fear what men and governments do. Their reign over us is only temporary. The reign of Christ Jesus is into eternity and he only seeks our good. Trusting in this we can wait patiently for the visible return of his kingdom in peace and joy.

Lord Jesus Christ, grant us patient hearts as we await your return and give us a spirit that fears and dreads you alone that we may live in hope and peace always. Amen.

Daily Reading: December 1

Read Is 7:10—8:8
Isa 8:1-8 Then the LORD said to me, “Take a large tablet and write on it in common characters, ‘Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz.’ (2) And I will get reliable witnesses, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, to attest for me.” (3) And I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the LORD said to me, “Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz; (4) for before the boy knows how to cry ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria.” (5) The LORD spoke to me again: (6) “Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, (7) therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, (8) and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.”

You may wonder why are we looking at these verses and not 7:14. It is because unless we look here we cannot be certain of God’s promise of Immanuel there. The Lord has Isaiah take prophetic action. Isaiah goes to the prophetess and bears a son whose name means “In Speed Spoil, Booty hastens.” Such will be the case of the Assyrian invasion of Israel and Judah. In previous verses of chapter seven the Lord describes the invasion of Assyria into Israel and to Judah and the things that happen then. The Lord has foretold it.

As such that is what happened when the Assyrians invaded, conquered and exiled the people of Israel. Judah was not untouched either in the Assyrian campaigns. By 722 B.C. these things have occurred just as the Lord had predicted. The prophet cries “O Immanuel” harkening back to the previous verses in chapter seven for hope.

So now that the prophecies of the Assyrian invasion and conquest have been fulfilled just at the Lord has predicted, now we can take comfort in chapter seven. Isa 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. It was a sign of comfort to Hezekiah that his enemies would be destroyed, namely Israel and Syria. God fulfills this prophecy in our age, the New Testament age. Because of the prophecy fulfilled concerning Israel, Syria and Assyria we can be certain that the Lord has fulfilled this prophecy also. The virgin, the Virgin Mary, did indeed conceive and bore a son in her virginity. He is called Immanuel, God is with us. For that is who Jesus is, God with us. The “with” here carries with it the force of not only being with but also “for” for if he is not for us, it matters not that he is with us. But in the person of Jesus we see God is with and for us because as the God-Man, Jesus conquers our enemies, not those of flesh and blood but spiritual ones. Jesus conquers sin, death and the power of the devil. He can do that because he is not only man but also truly God. He has promised to return at the end of the age and usher in his visible kingdom where righteousness reigns. O come Immanuel!

Lord we thank you for fulfilling your prophecies of the past so we may be comforted by the prophecies of the future. Grant us faith in your Immanuel, Jesus Christ, that we experience the redemption of our bodies on the day of his second advent. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 30

Read Is 6:1—7:9
Isa 6:2-7 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. (3) And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”… (5) And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (6) Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. (7) And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

At some point in time during Isaiah’s ministry, he receives a call from God directly to the prophetic task. He was to warn Israel, Judah and the world about God’s coming wrath to call them to repentance. Isaiah does not only that but issues many proclamations about the salvation of their God for them and for the world through God’s chosen servant.

During this call Isaiah sees a vision of the worship of God in heaven by the angels and he sees the seraphim which are burning serpents or dragons with six wings. Even these perfect, angelic creatures cannot look directly have God but cover their eyes and bodies with their wings. As they do so they sing a song which has been made a part of a hymn sung during the liturgy of Holy Communion. As we sing it, we too join them in their heavenly praise, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” We sing this song, because we too, like the angels, are in the presence of the Lord of hosts who has joined himself to our humanity and gives us his very body and blood in the New Testament Supper.

Even as Isaiah, recognizing his own sinfulness and humble position in the presence of God, when we gather together as his body, the Church, and we are his presence, his body and blood in the holy sacrament, we too confess our sins like Isaiah. He, even though he is a prophet of the most High, confesses he is a man of unclean lips among a people of unclean lips. We confess our sins at the beginning of the service and many other times during the service. Isaiah has even seen the Lord with his own eyes, yet God is merciful to Isaiah and does not strike him down dead. Having confessed his sins, a seraph, an angel takes a coal from the altar of God in heaven, touches Isaiah’s lips and proclaims him clean, his “guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

In similar fashion, God has sent an angel, a messenger, to you to accomplish for you the same thing when you humble yourself before God, i.e. your pastor. Your pastor with the authority of Christ lays his hand(s) upon you and pronounces absolution, that is forgiveness. (John 20:22ff) God has us baptized with water and the Word and make us clean. (Titus 3:4ff) Like the seraph, the pastor takes Christ’ body and blood from the altar for you to eat and drink and likewise you can be certain “this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”(Matt. 26:28) Our Lord is one who uses instruments to convey his grace.

Lord, may we with Isaiah confess our iniquity and with Isaiah receive the means by which you will convey your grace to us that we may believe our guilt is taken away and our sins atoned for. In Jesus’name. Amen

Daily Reading: November 29

Read Is 5:1–25
Isa 5:18-25 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as with cart ropes, (19) who say: “Let him be quick, let him speed his work that we may see it; let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near, and let it come, that we may know it!” (20) Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (21) Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! (22) Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, (23) who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right!

The Lord, the God of Israel is building his case against the people of Israel in the eighth century B.C.. For these four woes plus two more earlier, the Lord is charging Israel with and explaining why he is bringing the Assyrians upon them to destroy them. Like most wicked people, the Israelites didn’t think they were doing anything wrong. They were justified of their own actions in their own eyes. Yet God had judged them righteously and not according to man’s standards. It isn’t as if they didn’t have the Law of Moses which warned them about what would happen if they turned away from the perfect will of God and trusted in false gods, particularly worldly wealth and their stomachs.

So the Israelites are condemned because they taunt the Lord of Hosts saying let’s see if these prophecies of doom come true, then we’ll believe it. They were just like people of today casting aside the warnings of God’s wrath to come. God’s warning to Israel and their subsequent destruction is a lesson and warning to us. The Israelites treated evil as good and good as evil. How much more so today where the world around us accepts and promotes homosexuality and fornication as good and condemn those who speak out against it, just as an example. Yet God’s judgment against all iniquity is coming.

The Israelites thought they were hot stuff and knew everything. How much more today with those who say they cannot believe and trust in a God that does x, y or z, things God indeed does do in the Scriptures and so they reject God’s wisdom and judgments because they think they know better than God but their minds are darkened and cannot see the truth. There were those who were champions at drinking and as such brought injustice to the land. Can we say the world we live in does anything less? God’s judgment against Israel is a warning to us and the world. He is calling us to repent of our evil deeds and judge ourselves according to his holy will. He is calling us to trust in the Holy One of Israel, Jesus Christ, who took this judgment upon himself on the cross and offers a full, complete pardon if we would but humble ourselves before him and confess our guilt. Judgment begins with the House of God. What will happen to the world?

Lord you have warned us in your Word of your righteous judgments and provided pardon in your Son Jesus. Grant us faith to believe, repent and do what is acceptable in your sight. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 28

Read Is 2:1–22
Isa 2:2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, (3) and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, 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 out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (4) He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and 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 anymore… 11The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. (12) For the LORD of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up–and it shall be brought low;

The second chapter of Isaiah speaks of the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. What will it be like for those who have trusted in the promises of God from the Old and New Testaments? It speaks of a better day when men shall trust in God and his Christ alone. It speaks of how the Lord alone will be exalted on that day and into eternity. God himself will teach us. The Lord Jesus Christ shall put on his righteous paths.

A stone at the United Nations misquotes verse four and gives the impression that humanity, our current fallen humanity will bring this to pass. But it is only Jesus and his reign that makes this possible. Only Jesus and his reign over humanity’s heart by the Holy Spirit can bring this Utopian society about. There in the new age, only the Father, Son and Holy Spirit will be exalted and praised.

This current age does not recognize or submit to the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed it does everything it can to fight against it. It does recognize or praise the mercy of God found in Christ Jesus. It only recognizes power and those who exert it. Along with power the world looks to its wealth as chief among the gods because wealth buys power over men’s hearts and minds. People will look to everyone and everything, they will make up gods in their hearts to gain power and wealth. They cannot trust in Christ alone for all good things; they cannot look to the Father of lights to be merciful and kind to them. And so like rebellious five year olds, humanity pushes away the hand of God and says, “I can do it myself.” Yet it then turns to creation and the imagination of men’s hearts and worships them instead of the God who created and makes such thinking even possible. All that is lifted up as God and against faith in God and his Christ shall be brought low, humbled and made for naught on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ and the ushering in of his visible reign among us. Only those who have humbled themselves before Jesus and trusted in his work and his word shall be exalted together with him. Jesus is inviting you this day to cast aside your pride, to cast aside all created things, and everything you trust as God and to believe and trust in him for your eternal salvation and for all temporal goods in this world.

Lord Jesus Christ, grant us such faith in you that we may humble ourselves now, casting aside everything tempts us to trust in created things for every good to the end that we may dwell with you in the world to come and be exalted with you on the day of your second advent. Amen.