Archive for the ‘Isaiah 48’ Tag

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Part IX   1 comment


Above:  Icon of the Crucifixion

Image in the Public Domain


The Collect:

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


The Assigned Readings:

Nahum 2:1-13 or Isaiah 48:1-22

Psalm 71:15-24

Matthew 27:31b-56 or Mark 15:20b-44 or Luke 23:33-49 or John 19:17-30

Romans 13:1-7; 14:13-23


Romans 13:1-7 is a troublesome passage.  Should one always submit to government?  Some of my heroes from the past include those who helped slaves escape to freedom in violation of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and sheltered Jews or helped them escape in defiance of the Third Reich.  Besides, merely obeying law is what Kohlberg called Conventional Morality, which is not the highest form of morality on that scale, nor should it be.

Anyhow, reading Romans 13:1-7 on the same day with the crucifixion of Jesus seems ironic.

The readings, taken together, point toward mercy.  Even the judgment of God, as in Nahum 2:1-13, exists in the context of mercy for the rescued.  The mighty acts of God also testify to mercy.  And the death of Jesus does too.  One should, of course, complete that story with the resurrection, or else one will have a dead Jesus perpetually.  Sometimes mercy requires defiance of civil authority; so be it.






Adapted from this post:


Judgment and Mercy, Part V   1 comment

Cyrus II

Above:  King Cyrus II of Persia

Image in the Public Domain


The Collect:

Almighty God, we thank you for planting in us the seed of your word.

By your Holy Spirit help us to receive it with joy,

live according to it, and grow if faith and love,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 42


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 48:1-5 (Thursday)

Isaiah 49:6-11 (Friday)

Psalm 65:[1-8], 9-13 (Both Days)

Romans 2:12-16 (Thursday)

Romans 15:14-21 (Friday)


You are to be praised, O God, in Zion;

to you shall vows be performed in Jerusalem.

To you that hear prayer shall all flesh come,

because of their transgressions.

Our sins are stronger than we are,

but you will blot them out.

–Psalm 65:1-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


I recall a hypothetical situation I heard while growing up:  There is a man whom God is drawing to God’s self.  This man responds positively to these summons, but he dies before he can make a profession of Christian faith, much less accept baptism.  Where does he spend his afterlife?

One’s answer reveals quite a bit about one’s theology.  I, unlike, certain others, refuse to relegate the man to Hell.  He was, after all, responding faithfully to God.  The man might not have been able to provide their proper answers according to a catechism, but he was not rebelling against God.  Would not God be faithful to the man who had obeyed him each step along the way?  And, as the author of the Letter of James would confirm, not everybody who can give the correct catechetical answer will make the heavenly cut.  I recall that from Matthew 25:31-46 also.

In God abide both judgment and mercy.  The combined reading from Isaiah 48 makes this point succinctly.  St. Paul the Apostle agrees.  And, regarding the centrality of Christ to salvation for Gentiles, I agree while being reluctant to make sweeping and probably inaccurate judgments.  No, I prefer to err on the side of mercy if I must be wrong.  Besides, that decision rests with God alone, not with any of us, mere mortals.

I find, as is so often true in my experience, that The Book of Common Prayer (1979) provides helpful prayers and theology.  The Good Friday service includes this on page 279 of the Prayer Book:

Let us pray for all who have not received the Gospel of Christ;

For those who have never heard the word of salvation

For those who have lost their faith

For those hardened by sin or indifference

For the contemptuous and the scornful

For those who are enemies of the cross of Christ and persecutors of his disciples

For those who in the name of Christ have persecuted others

That God will open their hearts to the truth, and lead them to faith and obedience.

Then, on the next page, we find this:

Let us commit ourselves to our God, and pray for the grace of a holy life, that, with all who have departed this world and have died in the peace of Christ, and those whose faith is known to God alone, we may be accounted worthy to enter into the fullness of the joy of our Lord, and receive the crown of life in the day of resurrection.

May we, without mistaking Universalism for reality, never give short shrift to divine mercy.  Likewise, may we avoid the same error regarding divine judgment.






Adapted from This Post:


The Old and the New   1 comment


Above:  The Copyright Information for “Restless Weaver,” an Excellent 1988 and 1993 Hymn, Number 658 in Chalice Hymnal (1995)


The Collect:

Holy God, our strength and our redeemer,

by your Spirit hold us forever, that through your grace we may

worship you and faithfully serve you,

follow you and joyfully find you,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 22


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 48:12-21

Psalm 40:6-17

Matthew 9:14-17


Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 48:

Matthew 9:


Let all who seek you rejoice in you and be glad;

let those who love your salvation say always, “The Lord is great.”

–Psalm 40:17, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)


The words of a dying church, I have heard, are

We’ve never done it that way before.

The Bible speaks again and again of God doing new things and provides examples–the main one being the Incarnation and all that flowed from it.  The tension between the traditional and the innovative is an old story.  One can find both gold and dross among both the old and the new.  Yet how can one distinguish between the dross and the gold?

That is a difficult question, one worth wrestling with over time.  My study of the past tells me that hindsight proves useful.  Traditional interpretations of the Bible in the Antebellum U.S. South affirmed chattel slavery.  Thus, according to that standard, abolitionists were heretics.  Yet the alleged heretics were really the orthodox and the alleged orthodox were really the heretics.  The new was superior to the old.   Yet hindsight does not exist in the moment.  That is a problem.

Here is another example:  I like hymns with theologically deep words.  These hymns might be old or new.  Their value does not depend on their age.  But “seven-eleven songs”–songs with seven words one sings eleven times–are dross.  Thus I despise praise songs and choruses, heaping upon them a great amount of undying contempt for their shallowness.

Striking the proper balance between the old and the new can prove difficult.  I propose a standard from Philip H. Pfatteicher, an expert on Lutheran liturgy.  He wrote:

…the new is not always found in opposition to the old but arises from the old as its natural growth and development.  Stability and continuity are essential elements of catholic Christianity.

Commentary on the Lutheran Book of Worship:  Lutheran Liturgy in Its Ecumenical Context (Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Fortress, 1990), page 10

It is good to remember that our traditions began as innovations.  They became traditions only with the passage of time.  And neither theology nor liturgy should function as museums.  Yet neither ought the faddish displace the tried-and-true, as my studies of liturgical development have revealed.  (Some 1970-1972 liturgies have not aged well.)

Furthermore, some issues are questions purely of taste, with no right or wrong involved.  One ought to recall that also.

Isaiah 48:12-21 condemns the faithlessness of both Chaldea and Judah yet ends with the promise of the redemption of the latter.

If you had only listened to my commands,

verse 18a reads in The Revised English Bible (1989).  The commands of God are old sometimes and new on other occasions, from our temporal perspectives.  May we, by grace, identify these commands and follow them, separating the new and worthy from the new and faddish and the old and worthy from the old and erroneous.  So, with the worthy old and the worthy new, may we rejoice in the Lord.






Adapted from this post:


Results   1 comment

An Oasis in Libya

Image Source = Sfivat



Isaiah 48:17-19 (Revised English Bible):

Thus says the LORD your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

I am the LORD your God:

I teach you in the way of your own well-being

and lead you in the way you should go.

If only you had listened to my commands,

your prosperity would have rolled like a river,

your success like the waves of the sea;

your children would have been like the sand in number,

your descendants countless as its grains;

their name would never be erased or blotted from my sight.

Psalm 1 (Revised English Bible):

Happy is the one

who does not take the counsel of the wicked for a guide,

or follow the path that sinners tread,

or take his seat in the company of scoffers.

His delight is in the law of the LORD;

it is his meditation day and night.

He is like a tree planted beside water channels;

it yields its fruit in season

and its foliage never fades.

So he too prospers in all he does.

The wicked are not like this;

rather they are like chaff driven by the wind.

When judgment comes, therefore, they will not stand firm,

nor will sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

The LORD watches over the way of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked is doomed.

Matthew 11:16-19 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus said,]

How can I describe this generation?  They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling to each other,

“We piped for you and you would not dance.

We lamented, and you would not mourn.”

For John came, neither eating nor drinking, and people say, “He is possessed”; the Son of Man came, eating and drinking, and they say, “Look at him!  A glutton and a drinker, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!”  Yet God’s wisdom is proved right by its results.

The Collect:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


First, a joke:  An Episcopal congregation welcomed its first female priest.  Yet two men in the church were weary of having a woman as their pastor.  They invited her to go fishing with them.  The priest agreed.  When the three of them were in a boat in a lake, the priest realized that she had left her fishing gear on the ground.  So she excused herself and walked across the water to collect what she needed to begin fishing.  One man turned to the other and said, “See, she can’t even swim.”  As a sign I own says, “FOR EVERY ACTION THERE IS AN EQUAL AND OPPOSITE CRITICISM.”

Yet, as this day’s readings remind us, results matter.  We should know this, for this conclusion is intuitive.  During this life many of those who lie, cheat, and steal shamelessly and habitually succeed for a long time, perhaps until they die.  Meanwhile, numerous honest and devout people struggle to make ends meet and to provide adequately for their families and themselves.  Banditry of certain varieties is legal on Wall Street, so a relative prosper because of their immorality while they place others at a disadvantage.  This is an old story.

Yet there is justice with God.  We know trees by their fruit, and we reap what we sow.  If we sow justice, we reap the common good.  If we sow love, we reap a good society.  Yet if we sow fear, we reap hatred.  And if we sow injustice, we reap social discord and economic inequality.  In the end God, who by grace labels all who follow him “acceptable,” does not excuse injustice.

The purpose of the Gospel is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.  Thanks be to God!





Adapted from this post: