Daily Devotion for December 7, 2011
Second Sunday in Advent
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Verdi's Dies Irae, meaning the "Day of Wrath", is appropriate to today's Scripture. English words are presented in the video.
(This is the music I always hear in my head when my wife is mad at me.)
Prayer for the Morning
You are ushering in another day, untouched and freshly new, So here I come to ask You God if You'll renew me too?
Forgive the many errors, that I made yesterday, And let me try again dear God, to walk closer in Thy way.
But Father, I am well aware, I can't make it on my own. So take my hand and hold it tight, for I can't walk alone.
Prayer for Life
O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Prayer for Peace
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live together in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make me perfect in every good work to do his will, working in me that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
Isaiah 13:6-13 (ESV)
The Wrath of God
Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.
Because of this, all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame.
See, the day of the Lord is coming — a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger — to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.
The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. I will make people scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir.
Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger.
Notes on the Scripture
Advent and Christmas are a time of rejoicing. It is, however, important to remember what we are rejoicing about. Isaiah was a great prophet known for his accurate predictions of the coming of a Messiah, roughly 750 years before the birth of Jesus. But the bulk of his prophecy depicted what would happen without the benefit of such a Messiah.
We recently studied Paul's explanation (e.g in Romans 2) of how Christ saved us from the wrath of God; in fact, we take our salvation so much for granted, we sometimes lose sight of the terror in which the Hebrews lived. They saw the failure of the Old Testament and lived in great fear of the consequences; for God will not simply let a sinful humanity destroy itself. God will actively punish sin.
God Himself tells us that he is an "angry God". He made us; we are his creatures. One cannot simply avoid God by pretending He doesn't exist. It is not as if human beings can become atheists and choose not to live under God's law. You can't opt out. Our punishment for sin is not simply to live in a world without God, because God's wrath will descend on those who are not righteous in His sight.
Thus, Advent and Christmas are not only a time of thankfulness at God's mercy. They are also a time when we celebrate being spared God's righteous anger. People do not like to hear bad news and so they bury their head in the sand; but in truth, during our lives, we do not usually pay the full price for the evil we do. People think they have gotten away with all kinds of sins; they forget them and believe that there is some celestial Statute of Limitations, a time limit after which no penalty can be imposed.
But they are fooling themselves. As is several times repeated in Proverbs, "fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom". We must understand and accept that there is a terrible penalty for our sins, and God's wrath is more terrible than we like to consider. But it is Christ who secures us from God's wrath, not our delusion that our past deeds will disappear.