Advent: Tuesday of First Week


  • Morning
    • Isaiah 6
    • Mark 1:21-45
    • Psalms 1–5
  • Evening
    • Isaiah 8:16–9:7
    • Revelation 7
    • Psalms 1–5


ISAIAH HAS ALREADY OPENED with a dominating message of judgment against Jerusalem and Judah, and it runs from chapter 1—39. So yes, it continues in chapter 6, where he envisions seraphim attending the throne and testifying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” (Isa 6:3). The prophet’s encounter prompted his own confession: “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (v. 5).

But in God’s grace, what followed was a visionary cleansing and calling ceremony:


“Seraphim,” from Petites Heures de Jean de Berry, courtesy of Institution Bibliothèque nationale de France

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” (vv. 6–7)

Even God’s prophet needed the cleansing that God offered to his people, who were otherwise facing relentless judgment (Isa 1—39). If Judah and Jerusalem were to experience restoration and have a future (Isa 40—66), it would require repentance and God’s own sanctifying work.

The problem was that the nation had departed from the Law and the instruction it provided. They would even consult mediums and the spirits of the dead instead of looking to instructions that had come from the living God (Isa 8:19-20). The end result of this was weariness, hunger, trouble, anguish, and dark despair (vv. 21–22).

But when Jesus came, he came preaching a living and authoritative message; he came healing, delivering, and driving out demonic despair (Mark 1:25-45). By this ministry, and by the worldwide extension of the gospel as we fulfill the Great Commission, the full number of God’s people will be baptized and discipled (Matt 28:19-20)—and by the work of the Lamb, preserved in final safety (Rev 7).


Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”

I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.’” (vv. 8–9)

God still seeks a purified people willing to answer the “Who will go” with a sanctified readiness: “Here I am. Send me!” But then we must preach the whole of God’s counsel, not only “great news of glad tidings,” but also the warnings to “Listen carefully … watch closely”—and learn of God’s ways. And we certainly want to be among the vast multitude that John envisioned:

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10 And they were shouting with a great roar,

“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
and from the Lamb!”

11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. 12 They sang,

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and strength belong to our God
forever and ever! Amen.”

–Revelation 7:9–12


For today’s prayer, I think we can do no better than to pray along with the last of today’s five psalms:

Listen to my words, Lord,
consider my inmost thoughts;
heed my cry for help, my King and God.
When I pray to you, Lord,
in the morning you will hear me.
I shall prepare a morning sacrifice and keep watch.
For you are not a God who welcomes wickedness;
evil can be no guest of yours.
The arrogant will not stand in your presence;
you hate all evildoers,
you make an end of liars.
The Lord abhors those who are violent and deceitful.

But through your great love I may come into your house,
and at your holy temple bow down in awe.
Lead me and protect me, Lord,
because I am beset by enemies;
give me a straight path to follow.
Nothing they say is true;
they are bent on complete destruction.
Their throats are gaping tombs;
smooth talk runs off their tongues.
10 God, bring ruin on them;
let their own devices be their downfall.
Cast them out for their many rebellions,
for they have defied you.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice,
let them for ever shout for joy;
shelter those who love your name,
that they may exult in you.
12 For you, Lord, will bless the righteous;
you will surround them with favour as with a shield.

–Psalm 5:1–12 (REB)

Author: Dale A. Brueggemann

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