INI + AMEN.
The Lord calls many different men to preach His Word to His people. You now see that with your own eyes and hear it with your ears here at Immanuel. One preaches one way, and the other preaches in another way. Both of us called by the Lord to preach His Word in their own particular way. This is the way with the Lord. So it was with the Lord and His prophets. Last week we had Elijah and Elisha, this week we have Isaiah. The Holy Spirit used all the prophets with their own abilities, and the text for my sermon, which the Holy Spirit caused to be written, is from Isaiah 66:
“Rejoice with Jerusalem, And be glad with her, all you who love her; Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; That you may feed and be satisfied With the consolation of her bosom, That you may drink deeply and be delighted With the abundance of her glory.” For thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; On her sides shall you be carried, And be dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” When you see this, your heart shall rejoice, And your bones shall flourish like grass; The hand of the LORD shall be known to His servants, And His indignation to His enemies.
1. The enemies of the LORD oppress His saints and receive indignation.
Who are these enemies of the Lord? The text mentions Jerusalem. Are they some political enemies? Some nation which come after Jerusalem to conquer her? No. The Lord’s kingdom is not of this world, remember? It is something far worse and diabolical. Something which should cause each of us to shudder. For the Lord’s enemies are many that come after His saints: Devil, Sin, death, the world, and even our own flesh. That’s the true coalition of enemies that cause Jerusalem to mourn, that cause the saints of God to mourn. The goal of this coalition is the death of the saints, your death. Not just temporal, but eternal death. These things bear sin and death to you in your daily life. They oppress you with it.
The enemies’ goal of death, the well deserved judgment of death, is not given to you. They Lord conquers His enemies. “His indignation is known to His enemies,” as Isaiah says. The cross, the height of God’s indignation against His enemies, what He himself bore in His own body on the tree, conquers those enemies. The Lord Jesus came and on the cross conquered the Lord’s enemies: death, devil, the world, your sin, my sin, all of it conquered, covered with His blood. His cross-won victory is proclaimed from the empty tomb. Christ rose the third day. Death couldn’t hold Him. Satan couldn’t conquer Him. Sin couldn’t keep Him down. The World? It’s nothing! He’s overcome the World by His life, death, and resurrection.
Now that the Lord has won, His enemies receive His indignation. His indignation is nothing other than: You’re done for. Get out of my way! You’re toast! This is what Christ means when He says, “It is finished!” Yes, the work of redemption done for you and me, but enemies—done for! That’s the Lord’s judgment, His indignation over His enemies. It’s the same when He says to you, “Your sins are forgiven.” Such is the judgment now, and when death, devil, and the world, and our old Adam are finally done for at the end of our own lives and the end of the world. Yep, they may oppress us, but the Lord’s enemies receive indignation.
What is indignation for the enemies of God, is not indignation to His servants, His saints. For His saints, the Lord’s treatment of His enemies is comfort for His saints. Indeed,
2. The servants of the LORD are oppressed and receive comfort.
The enemies of the Lord have a short time. They still oppress us even now. We deal with our sins. And they are sins. Not just bad habits that we have to work on to be better Christians. The gossip. The judging of those people. Don’t deny it. We all do it. Maybe the sin you don’t want—can’t let!—anyone find out about! We’d shame our parents, family, friends, spouse, and what’s worse God if anyone found out. Confess such things, and even worse things. Receive absolution, or as Isaiah puts it “comfort.”
But such words don’t sink in. The devil, the world, and our flesh say, “You’ve messed up. You’re a Christian and you do that?” We despair of being a Christian, but the Lord’s comfort, His absolution says, “As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Comfort in Jerusalem, comfort here at Immanuel, here in the Lord’s Church. Your sins are forgiven. What was indignation for His enemies, is comfort for you: “It is finished!” Your sins, your daily-and-much sins. The one you keep doing, that you wish you didn’t—finished! Done for. “Your sins are forgiven.” That’s what the cross and empty tomb of Jesus say to you.
That comfort is given to you. Given you in your Baptism which isn’t just a one-time thing. Not just something that happened 28 years ago, or whatever it may be. Your baptism lasts your whole life through. You are baptized. The Lord’s comfort is yours. You are God’s child. You’re dandled on His comforting knee. Comforted in the church. Receiving through her what the LORD Jesus Himself is giving you: comfort. Indeed,
THE LORD COMFORTS HIS JERUSALEM, HIS CHURCH—HE COMFORTS YOU.
INI + AMEN.