Collect of the Week
O God, You have prepared for those who love You such good things as surpass our understanding. Cast out all sins and evil desires from us, and pour into our hearts Your Holy Spirit to guide us into all blessedness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Isaiah 65:8 (Part of last Sunday’s OT Reading)
8 Thus says the LORD: "As the new wine is found in the cluster, and they say, 'Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,' so I will do for my servants' sake, and not destroy them all.
In the name of + Jesus.
Collateral damage is unacceptable to the LORD. That is to say, for the sake of the few who remain faithful, the LORD chooses not to destroy the whole.
If you heard—or read—Sunday’s sermon, then you know that verse eight (above) is written in the context of a people so sinful that they stink. “These are a smoke in my nostrils,” said the LORD. And yet, among that evil people, there remained a remnant, a few faithful people, for the sake of whom the LORD would not destroy everything.
Here the illustration is that of a few good grapes on a cluster of bad. In the New Testament, the image of the wheat and the weeds (tares) is used to illustrate this same biblical teaching (Matt. 13). But the force of the teaching is the same. God delights not in the death of anyone. And if He were to bring down his wrath upon all those who rejected His Word and thus, were a stench of evil to Him, He would end up killing the faithful in the process. And so, the LORD declares, “I will do for my servants’ sake, and not destroy them all.” Because collateral damage is unacceptable to the LORD, his relents in bringing judgment.
The LORD is slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love (Ex. 34:6, et al). And in Christ, all who believe will be spared any judgment whatsoever, for that has been poured out on Jesus on the cross. But the LORD will not stay silent forever. The LORD will come on the Last Day, and He will come to “judge the living and the dead” (Apostles’ Creed). On that day, the good grapes will be separated from the bad; the wheat from the weeds; the believers from those who live in unbelief, even while giving the impression of being religious.
And so, the work of the Church continues. The Gospel goes out. And even among a Church that has hypocrites among its membership, those who are called, gathered, and enlightened by the Gospel to believe that the work of Jesus is sufficient, will be spared, and will be blessed, to remain in the presence of the LORD forever! In the name of + Jesus. Amen.
Almighty God, You have called Your Church to witness that in Christ You have reconciled us to Yourself. Grant that by Your Holy Spirit we may proclaim the good news of Your salvation so that all who hear it may receive the gift of salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen (Collect 104, LSB).