(14 verses, 2:16 to read)
What I am about to READ
- God’s judgment goes out against Damascus (and thus all of the nation of Syria) for joining forces with Israel (the Northern Kingdom), but God will preserve a remnant from them out of His mercy.
- vv. 1-3 describe the destruction that will come upon Damascus and Syria.
- vv. 4-6 describe the destruction that will come upon Israel.
- vv. 7-11 explicitly link the coming destruction with Israel’s idolatry.
- vv. 12-14 offer hope to a remnant that will be saved.
- It is an astounding thing that Israel’s downfall is a result of idolatry. God had brought their fathers out of Egypt and through the Red Sea with a mighty hand. But Israel’s fall into idolatry was gradual. Even in the wilderness at Mount Sinai, the people had made golden calves to worship. This brief history reminds us that God is long-suffering, but the time of mercy does come to an end. For those who wait to return to God in repentance until death or Judgment Day, the time of mercy will have expired.
- Another astonishing thing about God’s wrath over Israel’s sin is primarily a theological issue. Much of Christianity around us would have us downplay or ignore theological differences, saying that our infighting deters from the witness of the Gospel. However, St. Paul tells us that division are necessary to show who is genuine in the faith (I Cor. 11:19). Both Christ and St. Paul warn us about the dangers of false teaching that can eventually pull us away from Christ as the center of our salvation (Matthew 16, I Cor. 5, and Galatians 5). False teaching leads to false belief (idolatry).
- However, the Lord promises to preserve for Himself a remnant that will not look to false gods for help. These include idols of stone and idols of the heart. While the text makes specific allusions to false gods of the Ancient Near East, the image still holds today. False gods, ancient and modern, ultimately leave us to the work of our own hands–our own righteousness–which is not enough to avail before God. Through the saving power of His Word, however, God will preserve a remnant of those who trust only in Him for salvation. Though these will suffer bodily in this life (along with the unrighteous), that suffering is alleviated by Christ, God of our salvation, and His suffering and death for our sake. He it is that rebukes the enemies of the Church and sends them running away.
- The Word of God is full of comfort for those who suffer, directing us to look to God’s promises. Luther, commenting on verse 14, says, “He is alluding to the statement in Psalm 30:5: “Weeping may tarry for the night.” This means that that disaster will be of short duration. One bad night before the morning breaks, and the matter with the afflicting Assyrians will be disposed of. But every trial seems permanent to our mind, and our reason does not see the end of the trial. Therefore divine mercy appoints an end for it which we cannot grasp. With God our trial is but of an evening’s duration. The flesh, however, does not know how to reckon this but judges according to the senses. Therefore we must rather cling by faith to the Word of God. But these promises apply to us by way of example. For although we have the Word, we must expect all the troubles that others have sustained. Therefore, for the same affliction we make use of the same promise and comfort. Trials seem long lasting, but they are short before God, who provides the outcome and will indeed permit us to be afflicted but not overcome. For we are founded on the solid Rock, which is Christ.” (From Luther’s Works, volume 16, pp. 156-7)
- Prayer: O Lord, guard us from all errors that would rob us of the hope we have in you and preserve us in the one true faith. Grant us to look upon our suffering as temporary, especially compared to the eternal glory that awaits us in Your coming kingdom. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/
-Rev. Jordan McKinley, pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church, Vallonia, IN
Learn more about Trinity:
On the Web: http://www.trinityvallonia.com
Find our sermon podcasts through iTunes
or at http://podpoint.com/trinity-lutheran-church-podcast