Commentary On Sunday's Old Testament Lesson - Isaiah 6:1-13
And he said to me, "Go and say to this people: ‘Listen and Hear! But do not understand! Look and Observe! But do not see! Make the heart of this people impenetrable and their ears to droop! Blind their eyes lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and open their hearts; and relent, and be healed." And I said, "How long O Lord?" And he said, "Until the cities [of Judah] should come crashing down into heaps of rubble and are left uninhabited! Until all the houses sit empty! Until the soil is utterly desolate; and the LORD drives every man far away; and the ground lies empty! Then, though should as little as a tenth of it remain: it will be burned again! But like a mighty tree, or an oak whose stump remains when it has been felled: so the Holy Seed shall be its stump! (Isaiah 6:9-13)
I love this text. The OT prophets still speak in the church today, they speak Christ who is the Holy Seed, the shoot from the stump of Jesse (Is 11:1) (Lo How a Rose e're blooming).
The prophet, by a divine word shows them beauty and speaks peace to them, but by that same divine word blinds them and makes them deaf so they can't receive and and be healed. Talk about confounding the wisdom of the wise (1 Cor 1:19). They had sinned so hard, for so long, by their refusal to worship the thrice Holy Lord, and would hear no call to relent, that God is now wiping them off the face of the earth utterly, and making it impossible for them to understand a single thing he has to say. The judgment is perfect, complete and seamless. There is no out. No chance of salvation from without or within.
Why? Only so that via the Holy Seed he himself might begin a New Creation. Christ is the first born of many brothers. We are those brothers who worship God through Jesus who is the thrice holy LORD. (That's my interpretation of HOLY HOLY HOLY [no commas])
All this occurs and is spoken of in the context of temple worship, in context of the incarnational presence of YHWH, as we learn in the earlier verses. Indeed, it is my view that what we have here is not a narrative of Isaiah's every word. But rather a liturgical rendering of it. Not a scroll that sat on a shelf, or was only studied by scholars. But a liturgy was prayed in temple worship by clergy and laity alike.
Also interesting is this: that Syrian Christians call the consecrated bread of the Eucharist "gamouro" -- Burning Coals, not the Host as we do. FYI, Host comes from the Latin "hostis" which means "victim". To hear Dr. Scaer tell it, and I agree with him on this, Christ is ever the sacrificial victim, even risen from the dead and glorified as he now is. He is ever the Paschal Lamb whose GLORIFIED flesh and blood we receive in Eucharistic worship. And so it is wholly appropriate to call our bread the Host.
No, we don't believe that Jesus dies again. I don't think even Rome teaches that anymore. But what other thing can we offer to God, except Christ, whom God first offered for us (men and for our salvation)?
"What shall I offer to the Lord for all his benefits to me?" (Ps. 116) Nothing we have, do, are or possess is an acceptable sacrifice: and sinners cannot approach God except with a sacrifice or gift (oblation). And so by baptism we "offer" / "sacrifice" Christ to God. Or said another way we "come into his presence with thanksgiving /eucharistia" (Ps. 95:2 / also Te Deum). That is what Lutherans would mean by "offer" and "sacrifice" if they were to use that terminology - which I wish we would. I think such konwledge (which is too wonderful for us: Ps. 139) would help us to better understand what occurs in Holy Worship.
The way to think of this is that in Eucharist the baptized respond to the gift of God, Christ, by faith. They respond by professing these great truths aloud in liturgy, by doing the liturgical and Eucharistic actions that Jesus commanded them to do, "this do", and by receiving the "gift of God" (Romans 6:23b) with reverent and humble faith. To celebrate Eucharist, then, is to complete the circle of God giving and man believing and receiving.
This is how we factually LOVE the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. (Mt. 22:37) This is how we LOVE God, who first LOVED us. (1 Jn 4:19).
Love given. Love requited. All is well again! God and sinner reconciled. The Prodigal returned to his Father's Table. Forever and ever. Amen!