Judgment and Mercy
St. Thomas, Apostle
21 December 2016
Judgment and mercy are both in God. The Lord comes to Abraham to promise the messianic line. This same Lord, whom Moses has named man, also comes to bring word of judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah (Gn 18) and carry it out (Gn 19). The Lord who appears a man (Gn 18:2, 16) and makes the messianic promise is also the Lord who rains down sulfur and fire from the Lord (Gn 19:24). The Lord who appears a man and sends from the Lord is the one to whom Abraham bows down and whom he worships.
This self-revelation of the Lord from the Lord pouring down is a sign of the holy Trinity. The Son of God appearing a man, yet without being incarnate. The Lord from the Lord sending the fire of judgment upon the depraved and unbelieving world. What had been promised in these words and signs to Abraham were fulfilled in the incarnation of Mary. Abraham saw the sign of the incarnation in the man who sat with him and broke bread with him. Abraham heard the word of the Messiah in the promise of the seed born of Sarah. This conjunction of life and death, destruction and salvation makes us profoundly uncomfortable. How can such opposites reside in the one God?
The ultimate conjunction of mercy and judgment are in this Son who is God and Man. For the deathly fire and sulfur of Sodom and Gomorrah passes over the holy hill upon which the Son is suspended before the judgment of God. Sodom's sulfur is burned out by its passing upon Him. Gomorrah's fire is extinguished in the pools of His blood. The one who only appeared in the Old Testament is in flesh of Mary. The one who was promised in word, now becomes the Word who dwelt with us. The Lord who rains down the Lord rends the heavens and sends this Lord to be God-with-us through the overshadowing of the most High. Judgment and mercy are in the Lord from the Lord in the manger and at the cross.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
"God's merciful and mysterious self-revelations are in no way inconsistent with His true heavenly nature; and His faithful saints never fail to penetrate the appearance He has assumed in order that faith may see Him. The types of the law foreshow the mysteries of the gospel; they enable the Patriarch to see and to believe what hereafter the Apostle is to gaze on and publish. For, since the law is the shadow of things to come, the shadow that was seen was a true outline of the reality that cast it. God was seen and believed and worshiped as man, who was indeed to be born as man in the fullness of time. He takes upon Him, to meet the patriarch's eye (Gn 18), an appearance that foreshadows the future truth. In that old day God was only seen, not born, as man; in due time He was born, as well as seen. Familiarity with the human appearance, which He took that men might behold Him, was to prepare them for the time when He should truly be born as man. Then it was that the shadow took substance, the appearance reality, the vision life.
"But God remained unchanged, whether He was seen in the appearance, or born in the reality, of manhood. The resemblance was perfect between Himself, after His birth, and Himself, as He had been seen in vision. As He was born, so He had appeared; as He had appeared, so was He born....We are showing from the law that it was true God, the Son of God, who appeared to the Patriarchs in human form. For when one appeared to Abraham as man, He was worshiped as God and proclaimed as Judge; and when the Lord rained down from the Lord (Gn 19:24), beyond a doubt the law tells us that the Lord rained down from the Lord in order to reveal to us the Father and the Son. Nor can we for a moment suppose that when the patriarch Abraham, with full knowledge, worshiped the Son as God, he was blind to the fact that it was true God whom he worshiped."

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 5.17
Colossians 2:13-23

You, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations- "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" (referring to things that all perish as they are used)- according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (ESV)
O Lord Christ, You were worshipped by Abraham in the appearance of a man. Grant that we might truly worship You in Your flesh incarnate of Mary. The overshadowing Spirit brought You to Your dwelling among us in the womb of Mary. Send now that overshadowing Spirit to us that we too might have You among us by Your Word. Amen.
For all church musicians, that they might continue to express the Word of God in song and chant so that the church might have the Word on its heart
For Kari Jones and her children Aiden and Jamen, whose home was burned in a fire, that they would be granted a full recovery and that the true joy of the season would not be taken from them
For Ellen Brda, who will be undergoing chemotherapy, that the Lord Jesus would grant strength and healing
For all Houston Police that they might be upheld in every good deed and kept safe as they carry out their duties
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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