4th Sunday in Advent LSB #’s 437, 513, 394
Text – Isaiah 13:9
Look! The day of Yahweh is coming, cruel, & with anger & hot wrath, to destine the earth to desolation, & its sinners he will exterminate from it.
THE DAY OF YAHWEH WILL COME
Will any of your words today still matter 2700 years from now? Yahweh is the God of ancient Israel, the almighty Creator of the heavens & earth, the only true God, the only God who deserves to be heard. He called His prophet Isaiah to speak to His people over 2700 years ago, & still what He said to them remains His speech to you & me 2700 years later.
The words of the Great I Am spoken through Isaiah the mighty seer of old remain God’s words. Today we want to hear & to heed His words. We want to let the ancient prophet Isaiah speak to us today. He calls us to get ready for the future coming of Yahweh. Are you? Let us listen to Isaiah & therefore to God speaking through Isaiah:
13:9 Look! The day of Yahweh is coming, cruel, & with anger & hot wrath,
to destine the earth to desolation, & its sinners He will exterminate from it.
13:10 For the stars of the heavens & their constellations will not shine their light.
The sun will have become dark when it goes forth,
& the moon will not make its light bright.
13:11 “And I will visit in punishment against the world (its) evil,
& against the wicked their iniquity;
& I will make cease the pride of the presumptuous ones,
& the proudness of the terrible ones I will lay low.
13:12 I will make humans sparer than fine gold & man (sparer) than the gold of Ophir.
13:13 Therefore the heavens I will convulse, & the earth will shake out of its place,
by the anger of Yahweh of Hosts, & in the day of his smoldering wrath.
13:19 And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the splendor of the pride of the Chaldeans,
will become like God’s overthrow of Sodom & Gomorrah.
14:1 But Yahweh will show compassion to Jacob.
Are you ready for the coming day of the Lord God Almighty? Isaiah calls you to take heed. For the Lord God Almighty, the Creator of the heavens & earth will come in a terrible way. It truly is a frightening picture that Isaiah paints for us.
The almighty Creator of the heavens & earth will come into His universe & will descend to earth in all of His raw power. The entire cosmos will come undone. The heavenly bodies will go dark; the heavens will convulse; the earth will shake. Life will not be able to go on as usual. The entire creation will come unhinged.
And why will the almighty Creator enter into His creation in such hot anger? He will come in His hot wrath & anger against sinners. Judgment day it will be when He comes to punish the wicked for their evil & their failure to repent of it.
Sinners, like us, are curved in on themselves. They strive to be self-determining, self-directed, self-absorbed, self-centered, & self-glorifying. That is what we call “original sin” – the desire to be autonomous, the desire & constant effort to replace God with ourselves.
In Isaiah 13, the prophet breaks us out of our carnal security & complacency calling all sinners to take heed. The day of the Lord is coming. There will be an ultimate judgment day. We are accountable to our maker, not just to ourselves. You are responsible to the Lord God Almighty & not only to yourself.
It doesn’t matter whether you like it or not; whether it makes you feel good or not. It is reality. There is coming a Judgment Day when everyone has to stand before the Creator & judge of all. The potter gets to judge the pots. He made them. He holds them to account. The Day of the Lord is coming, & soon. It will mean utter humiliation for all human pretentions & pride.
At the time of Isaiah, the city of Babylon was the “glory-capital” of the world. The ancient Near East admired Babylon for its splendor & beauty. An example was King Hezekiah. Envoys from Babylon came to Jerusalem, & Hezekiah tried to impress them with all the glory of his own kingdom (Isaiah 39). The city of Babylon was considered the beauty of kingdoms. In response, Isaiah proclaimed, God will make Babylon like Sodom & Gomorrah, a wasteland – a place only for desert creatures to occupy.
Because sinners have fundamentally & arrogantly rebelled against their own Creator, God in His just wrath will remove them from His holy sight. This is the terrible future awaiting all naked, proud sinners. Isaiah stated the threats of God’s judgment in their most severe pronunciation: God will exterminate all sinners & punish all the wicked – a frightening prospect.
The NT affirms & repeats this threat. St. Paul calls it “the wrath to come” (1 Thes 1:10), “the day of wrath & revealing of God’s righteous judgment” (Romans 2:5). It will come like a thief in the night & bring destruction to those carnally secure (1 Thes 5:1-3), “destruction of the ungodly” (2 Peter 3:7).
You & I need to hear this warning & threat because it is so easy to become preoccupied with our own daily concerns, to become curved in unto ourselves. All human beings are tempted to become infatuated with the rich & famous, admiring their glory. We need to hear Isaiah 13 & to let it lead us to repentance, to fall down & say “God be merciful to me, a sinner.”
However, there is also good news for Isaiah did not stop there. He went on to set forth a contrast. The self-glorying kingdoms of the world like Babylon will have no future, yet God’s Israel will have one – “…Yahweh will show compassion to Jacob.” (Isaiah 14:1)
Isaiah promised that God would show compassion toward His people Israel & restore them. He would bring them back from exile & make them His very own people again. God began to do that in the time before Christ’s incarnation. He brought the Israelite exiles back to Jerusalem in the 500 & 400s BC. That was only a beginning. The fulfillment came with Jesus the Messiah. In order to restore God’s Israel, Jesus went through the deserved punishment Himself. He took the wrath of God in the place of sinful Israel, in fact in the place of all sinners. Jesus became the Suffering Servant promised in Isaiah 53.
The iniquity of all sinners was laid on Him. He suffered the eternal punishment that each of us deserve. As Isaiah prophesied, “Yahweh laid upon Him the iniquity of us all” (53:6). He received God’s just wrath in place of all the guilty, & His righteousness is credited to the multitudes of sinners (Isaiah 53:11). Our sins went on Him, & His righteousness covered us.
The heavenly Father has given you, through the gospel, that righteous status before His throne. You need not fear the coming Day of Judgment. You belong to the Messiah by faith. You were baptized into Him. Therefore, you belong to His Israel, the Israel upon whom He shows compassion. You need not fear the coming Day of Judgment.
All authority has been given to Jesus. On the last day He is the one who will judge the living & the dead. That will be a terrible day of wrath to those who stand naked before Him in their unbelief. But to you who are clothed in His robes of righteousness – a glorious day, the day of restoration & rest for God’s Israel, from all their labors.
The day of the Lord is coming soon. Repent & believe the good news. Your sins have been made as white as snow. Jesus will give you the crown of righteousness & invite you to your eternal home. Amen.
The home of fadeless splendor, of blooms that bear no thorn, where they shall dwell as children who here as exiles mourn; the peace of all the faithful, the calm of all the blest, inviolate, unfading, divinest, sweetest, best. Oh, happy, holy portion, relief for all distressed, true vision of true beauty, refreshment for the blest! Strive now to win that glory, toil now to gain that light; send hope ahead to grasp it till hope be lost in sight. Amen. LSB 513:3-4.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet