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,
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.
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.
O house of Jacob,(ESV)
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord.
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O Rex Gentium
Tuesday of Advent 4
22 December 2015
"How was anyone saved before Christ came into the world?" Are we to believe that there was some other way of salvation in the Old Testament than through the incarnate Lord Christ? Would the law have been sufficient to bring salvation in the Old Testament, if it was not sufficient in the New Testament (Jn 1:18)? God justified the wicked (Rm 4:5) in view of the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ. This was as true for Abraham, who lived in anticipation of the incarnation, as it is of us, who live after the incarnation. God's plan to save the world was put into effect in the promise to Adam and Eve that Eve's Offspring would crush the head of the serpent (Gn 3:15). We should not chide God that He did not give to Eve the fulfillment of her messianic desire (Gn 4). God was not careless of the need of His foremost creation. For that hope justified Adam and Eve through the possession of the object of the hope, the coming Messiah, Christ our Lord.
If it were not the case that the divine plan to save the world through the incarnation of the Son of God was effective for those both before and after the incarnation actually occurred, it would be as though God himself was unaware of his own gracious plan. And although the Charles Wesley hymn, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" describes His coming as "Late in time" (LSB 390:2), is it too late? Not at all. The Son of God comes in this last age at precisely the right time for us. God is not constrained by time, nor any other creature. If He is constrained by anything it is by His freely-given grace because of which He determines from eternity to enflesh the Word. The Word, who came in the flesh, first came into the world in the divine speaking to the prophets. There were intimations of His enfleshment when they cried, "Thus says the Lord." This "delay" filled with the speaking of God's Word was the proper anticipation and preparation for the enfleshment of the Word. That is why now in this last age we learn of the Word's becoming flesh only in the Word. There is no other way.
Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease, And be yourself our King of Peace.Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel! (LSB 357:7)
Leo the Great
"Let people stop complaining, who with disloyal murmurs speak against the plans of God and babble about the lateness of the Lord's nativity, as if the Lord's birth, which was fulfilled in the last age of the world, had no impact upon the times that are past. For the incarnation of the Word contributed to the doing of that which was done and the mystery of man's salvation was never in the remotest age at a standstill. What the apostles announced, the prophets had foretold. Nor was that fulfilled too late which has always been believed. But the wisdom and goodness of God made us more receptive to His call by thus delaying the work which brought salvation. What through so many ages had been foretold by many signs, many utterances, and many mysteries, was not doubtful in these days of the gospel.
"The Savior's nativity, which was to exceed all wonders and all the measure of human knowledge, was to engender in us a faith so much firmer, because the foretelling of it had been ancient and often repeated. It was no new counsel, no tardy pity with which God considered the needs of men. But from the beginning of the world He ordained one and the same cause of salvation for all. For the grace of God, by which the whole body of the saints is ever justified, was augmented, not begun, when Christ was born. This mystery of God's great love, with which the whole world is now filled, so effectively pointed forward to the birth of Christ that those who believed that promise obtained nothing less than those who were the actual recipients of the incarnate Savior."
Leo the Great, Sermons on the Nativity
O Christ, in the fullness of time You came among men born of Mary. Now in these last days, You, who are the incarnate Word, speak to us, that we might be saved by Your coming. Amen.
For Donald Ehrke, that he would be granted health and healing by a gracious God
For the pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sudan, that they would preach faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ
For those who are traveling during this season, that they would arrive safely to joyful homecomings and that they would rejoice in the Word of the incarnation of the Word
Art: VOUET, Simon Annunciation (1640s)
© Scott R. Murray, 2015