War Obsolete
St. Andrew, Apostle
30 November 2016
The Word draws people to Mt. Zion (Is 2:3). The proclamation of Christ, who is the Word, goes out from the Church, the mountain of the Lord. This proclamation is much different than the voice that rumbled down the slope of Mt. Sinai. This brought fear and trembling, threatening death (Ex 19). Sinai's law is not what Isaiah is thinking of here. He is speaking of instruction in the incarnate Word, Jesus our Lord. The instruction of the Lord brings salvation to those who belong in the house of Jacob's God.

Isaiah awakens those upon the path of the Lord to their need for the Lord's salvation by reminding them that they are Jacob. Jacob was the old name of Israel, superseded by God (Gn 32:28). The name Jacob reminds us that we are not worthy of our entry into Zion. Only the true Son of God has the ancient doors opened for Him (Ps 24:9). The rest of us are Jacob, which means "supplanter." Jacob snatched the birthright from his careless older brother, Esau. Even though the church is named for Jacob, it is still the house of God. The Lord does not abandon spiritual supplanters like us, but makes us his own through the forgiving Word that draws us up to the mountain. The Word makes Jacob new. He becomes a true Israel of God. The Word of the Lord is still going forth from Jerusalem drawing the peoples to the mountain of the Lord. O Lord, draw us to You that we might have Your peace.

Our world is demented by thinking that ultimate peace can be gained by military conflict. Every "war to end all wars" has been followed by another. The warring madness of humans breaks out repeatedly like a deadly rash. We all want to "give peace a chance," but that has not worked out very well in the world's history. True peace will ultimately come only from the Prince of Peace, Christ Himself.
Since the Lord Christ grants His righteousness He is also the One that establishes peace. Certainly, we see and feel the daily warring madness of humans, especially in our own hearts. But even in the midst of that sin-driven madness the church still has and proclaims the peace which beats swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. How can we not have the peace that surpasses human understanding? The Lord speaks His Word and proclaims that all our warring madness is on the Prince of Peace. As our hero He goes into the front line against our sin and wickedness, and like Uriah (2Sa 11:14-15), is cut down to cover the wickedness of others.

War exhausts itself upon Christ so that it cannot touch us. If He has been cut down by it already, it cannot touch us. If we have the righteousness that comes from Christ what war can overcome us? If we have the Word of God it will judge us to be freed from our sins. It will still our hearts and quell the battle that rages there. When God gathers the nations, war will be no more. There will be nothing to go to war over. Luther asks, "For those who hear and believe this, for what will they contend? If my property, wisdom, and righteousness are of no avail in the sight of God, why should I fight it out for them?" When the Lord comes to take us to live with Him, the art of war will be obsolete.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"'For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem' (Is 2:3).This is what will influence and draw the nations, so that they flow to Christ and learn, namely, the Word. Here there is no armed departure from Jerusalem on the part of the king, no violent clash. Psalm 110 says: "The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter" (Ps 110:2). From this place the scepter of Christ's kingdom was sent forth through the apostles without force in supreme peace, and the sweetness of this peace takes hold of the nations. But behold here the promise of a new word, a new law, namely, one that is different from that which was given from the cloud and on Sinai. Here a place different from Sinai is designated. "Law" means proclamation. The prophecy stands that a proclamation shall flow from Jerusalem into all nations. This was done through the apostles. Let this be the strength of our faith against the Jews. "Their voice has gone out to all the earth" (Rm 10:18). By the Word alone, therefore, the church is recognized, and in the glory of the Word the reign of Christ is described. The Word draws the people, makes them willing and joyful. Thus the church is exalted and triumphs against tyrants and heretics even in the midst of tribulation, in order that they may be forced to confess that this is true."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Isaiah, 2.3
Psalm 30

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

As for me, I said in my prosperity, "I shall never be moved." By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: 
"What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!"

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (ESV)
Lord Jesus, by Your Word alone Your church is recognized and in the glory of the Word Your reign is described. May Your Word draw us to Your Zion and make us willing and joyful. Give us triumph over tyrants and heretics even in the midst of our tribulation, in order that they may be forced to confess that this is true. Amen.

For over-the-road truckers, that the holy angels would be with them on their ways and that their homecomings would be joyful

For Bill Heine, who is gravely ill, that his Lord Jesus would walk with him in these last days

For the presidents of our church's colleges, that they would have the spiritual courage to confess the divine truth about the conditions of human flourishing and not be bullied into silence
Art: VASARI, Giorgio Annunciation (1564-67)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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