Advent: Wednesday of First Week



  • Morning
    • Isaiah 9.8–10.4
    • Mark 2.1-22
    • Psalms 9–11
  • Evening
    • Isaiah 10.5-23
    • Revelation 8
    • Psalms 9–11


Relentless judgment from one of our favorite books in the Old Testament, one some call the “Old Testament Gospel.” And by now, we’re ten chapters in, but with far less good news that we might expect with a book that merits that appellation. Where did anyone get the idea that Isaiah was a cheerful gospeler?

Judgment (Isa 1–39)

WE BEGIN OUR MORNING reading with “The Lord has spoken out against Jacob” (Isa 9.8). But we find it possible to infer some kind of hope for Judah as Jerusalem as our evening reading begins, “What sorrow awaits Assyria, the rod of my anger” (10.5). Imperial powers figured that their battle victories proved their power and perhaps even the superiority of their gods (vv. 7-11). But Isaiah notes that the Lord was using them as his own “club” and “ax” (vv. 5, 15)—and weapons shouldn’t boast in the face of the warrior who wields them (v. 15).

Assyrian King Sennacherib on His Throne

God’s judicious use of Assyrian war machine would leave a remnant to return—but only a remnant (Isa 10.20-23). Imperial Yahweh neither rises to power nor ends up displaced by coup d’etat or invasion. Plans he made before creation don’t slide off a dusty drawing tables and end up behind glass in a museum exhibit about “what might have been, if only….” He reigns forever supreme, exercising judgment and ruling all the peoples with justice:

They rush blindly down to Sheol, the wicked,
all the nations who are heedless of God.
But the poor shall not always be unheeded
nor the hope of the destitute be always vain.

—Ps 9.17–18, NEB

In our own time, we may cry out, “Why do you stand so far away?” (Ps 10.1) and lament how brash the wicked liars are. Clearly they suppose, “nothing will ever happen to us” (vv. 2-6). But we do have a God that will arise in his own time and exercise judgment after his own perfect fashion (v. 12)

Psalm 11:1–7

I trust in the Lord for protection.
So why do you say to me,
“Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!
The wicked are stringing their bows
and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings.
They shoot from the shadows
at those whose hearts are right.
The foundations of law and order have collapsed.
What can the righteous do?”

But the Lord is in his holy Temple;
the Lord still rules from heaven.
He watches everyone closely,
examining every person on earth.
The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked.
He hates those who love violence.
He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked,
punishing them with scorching winds.
For the righteous Lord loves justice.
The virtuous will see his face.

Revelation 8

Given how certain Jerusalem and Judah were that they were the literal epicenter of what God was doing in the world—which they figured to be aiding and abetting their own programs—we who today who call ourselves the people of God should live with a certain fear and trembling. We may join the congregations of the saints, call on his name, and even pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!” But we should also remind ourselves that we walk and work, we congregate and pray, and we stand before one who is working out history along lines that include a full number of broken seals, blasted trumpets, and plagues.

So yes, we pray fervently, “Come, Lord Jesus!” But we know that when he does march out of his temple where he rules from heaven:

He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked,
punishing them with scorching winds.
For the righteous Lord loves justice.
The virtuous will see his face.

—Psalm 11:6–7


O God, who makes us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ,
grant that as we joyfully receive Him for our Redeemer,
so we may with sure confidence behold Him when He shall come to be our Judge,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.

Book of Common Prayer 1892

Author: Dale A. Brueggemann

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