See With Isaiah
6 July 2017
Isaiah the mighty seer is called the fifth evangelist because He so clearly saw the life and ministry of His Lord and Savior, the Christ, who was promised to the people of Israel by the almighty God. There is no time when the Lord God left Himself without witness to the messianic ministry, either by words or signs. He promised to Adam and Eve that their Seed would crush their enemy, the serpent, who had dragged them into the coils of death. He assured Abraham that the multitudes would be blessed through his Seed. He longed to see the day of that Seed and he saw it by faith (Jn 8:56). Moses received from God not only the promise repeated and reaffirmed, but the signs of that promise in the whole levitical ministry with its sacrifices and through them the remission of sins for those who shared the weakness of Adam. God has never failed to send witnesses to His grace.
He sends that witness in the bounty of His providence. Daily bread comes even without our prayer. We only pray to thank God for what He has resolved from the creation to grant us without our merit (SC 3.4). But our depravity is deaf to this speech of His grace. We wrongly think we have earned our daily bread. God is not insensible to our insensibility. He has not left Himself without greater and better witness to His love and grace toward us.
The Lord's speech has gone out into the world that God the Word would be conceived of a Virgin and that He would be born in the world (Is 7:14). Until that coming promised by Isaiah the mighty seer, the Lord God sent signs of the messianic ministry in the sacrifices of the Old Testament temple. These brought the Lamb of God before the face of all people and showed that He would come bringing a reparation for sin by His bloody death on the altar of the cross. The Lord used and still uses efficacious signs to us of His grace in Word and act. His speech brings mercy because His speech always effects what it says. His sacramental acts do what the Word says because His acts are always acts commanded in His Word. The remarkable thing is that we are deaf to this speech and cold toward His sacramental activity.
One Word of promise should be sufficient and would be on God's part. But He knows us better than we know ourselves. He heaps Word upon sacramental gift that somehow through the urgent agency of His Holy Spirit we might know and trust His pronouncement of forgiveness unto us. Lord, let us see with Isaiah.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"For, besides the benefits of God's general bounty as, according to this administration of nature of which we have made some mention, He lavishes on good and bad alike, we have from Him a great manifestation of great love, which belongs only to the good. We can never sufficiently thank Him, that we are, that we live, that we behold heaven and earth, that we have mind and reason by which to seek after Him who made all these things. However, what hearts, what number of tongues, shall affirm that they are sufficient to render thanks to Him for this, that He has not departed from us, laden and overwhelmed as we are with sins, reluctant to contemplate His light and blinded by the love of darkness, that is, of iniquity. Instead, He has sent us His own Word, who is His only Son, that by His birth and suffering for us in the flesh, which He assumed, we might know how much God valued man. That by that unique sacrifice we might be purified from all our sins, and that, love being shed abroad in our hearts by His Spirit, we might, having overcome all difficulties, come into eternal rest, and the ineffable sweetness of the contemplation of Himself.
"This mystery of eternal life, even from the beginning of the human race, was, by certain signs and sacraments suitable to the times, announced through angels to those to whom it was right. Then the Hebrew people was congregated into one nation, as it were, to perform this mystery; and in that nation was foretold, sometimes through men who understood what they spoke, and sometimes through men who understood not, all that had transpired since the advent of Christ until now, and all that will transpire. This same nation, too, was afterwards dispersed among the gentiles, in order to testify to the scriptures in which eternal salvation in Christ had been declared. For not only the prophecies which are contained in words, nor only the precepts for the right conduct of life, which teach morals and piety, and are contained in the sacred writings, not only these, but also the rites, priesthood, tabernacle or temple, altars, sacrifices, ceremonies, and whatever else belongs to that service which is due to God, and which in Greek is properly called worship (λατρεία), all these signified and fore-announced those things which we who believe in Jesus Christ unto eternal life believe to have been fulfilled, or behold in process of fulfillment, or confidently believe shall yet be fulfilled." Augustine, The City of God, 7.31-32

Augustine, The City of God, 7.31-32
Isaiah 7:1-16

In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not yet mount an attack against it. When the house of David was told, "Syria is in league with Ephraim," the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.
And the LORD said to Isaiah, "Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer's Field. And say to him, 'Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has devised evil against you, saying, "Let us go up against Judah and terrify it, and let us conquer it for ourselves, and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it," thus says the Lord GOD: "' It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. (Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken to pieces so that it will no longer be a people.) "'And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.'"
Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, "Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven." But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test." And he said, "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. (ESV)
Almighty God, You have set the birth of Your Son of a Virgin upon the lips of Your mighty Seer, Isaiah. Grant that in our day we might believe the signs of His incarnation among us and share that faith with the world which You have loved in the suffering and death of that Son. Amen.
For all church musicians, that they would be upheld in their office of leading the Lord's new song
For those serving with our country's armed forces in Afghanistan, and other places, that they would be assured of peace in Jesus Christ
For Susan Narr, that the Lord would grant her strength and healing
Art: MICHELANGELO,  Isaiah (1508-1512)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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