You Will Find Him in His Word
The Feast of the Nativity of our Lord December 25, 2018
7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” 8 The voice of your watchmen–they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion. 9 Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
[Hebrews 1:1-12; John 1:1-18]
In the Name of Jesus.
To Israel comes the proclamation, “Your God reigns.” We may ask, why is that proclaimed? If it’s true, why proclaim it? We don’t proclaim that the sky is blue, to do so would admit doubt about the color of the sky. We don’t proclaim that water is wet, it goes without saying, if it’s water, it’s wet.
But that “Your God reigns” is good news, and those who bring this good news, even their feet are counted as beautiful, and it is considered a message of salvation: this is to be proclaimed.
Back in English class we learned of what is called a tautology. A tautology is a statement that is logically redundant, like saying a circle is round. If it’s not round, it’s not a circle. If it’s a circle, it’s round. So it doesn’t need to be said that a circle is round—it’s tautological.
Your God reigns. If he is God, then he reigns. If he does not reign, then he is not God. It’s a tautology.
So why is it proclaimed that Your God reigns, even in such a way that the proclamation is so precious that even the feet of the one who proclaims it are considered beautiful?
Your God reigns may be a tautology, but it is not obvious. It was not obvious in the life of Israel, and it is not obvious in our lives.
For Israel, as she sees the threat of the Assyrians to her north and the threat of the Babylonians coming from her east, and as she is afflicted internally by false prophets bringing in false doctrine and false prayers, and as she sees so many of her families torn apart by divorce and arrogance and thievery—for Israel, it is not at all obvious in her daily life that her God reigns.
It’s not obvious to us, either.
We, too, see false doctrine taught as if it were the Lord’s doctrine, we see the church tempted to see herself as just another earthly organization, we see Christian families hurt by sickness, broken by divorce, sometimes living in fear, we see all of this, and we know it’s in our hearts too—for us, the New Testament Israel, it is not at all obvious in our daily lives that our God reigns.
But the Lord said to Isaiah, make a proclamation. Speak a word. Say something to my people that they do not know according to their eyesight, that they cannot see in their world, that they will not attain with their logic and rationality. Say something to my people that is hidden in the world, but is revealed in the Word I give to you. They may not see comfort in their world, for they are living too close to fear, they may not see salvation in their lives, for all around them is death, but, Isaiah, I love my people, say to them,
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns” … Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.[Isaiah 52]
What is not known in the world, is revealed in the word. What is not seen by the eye, is proclaimed into the ear.
The world cannot know the good news by human knowledge. The eye can’t see it, for everything we see in the world, and everything we can control by our rationality, it is all according to the Law. The world lives under the Law, it’s written on the human heart, and all that is seen and understood around us is of the Law. But the Law brings death: accusation, guilt, shame—this is the law’s work in our sinful world.
But apart from the Law, outside of what is seen, there is a word spoken to overthrow this darkness and to scatter the demons.
It is the Word of good news, the word of sin-forgiven, the Word sent forth from the mouth of God, it is the Word that is foreign to everything we see in our world, alien to the way we try to understand things according to the Law, it is the Word coming into our world and overcoming the darkness, and the darkness—the shame, the guilt, the brokenness—does not overcome it.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. …14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The glory is the cross. God the Father has shown his glory in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, in the Tabernacle’s pillar of fire, in the Throne of David, he has shown his glory by the Word spoken from Heaven at the Baptism of his Son in the Jordan, at the Word spoken from Heaven at his Son’s Transfiguration, but never has God the Father shown his glory more than at the cross, where he gave his Son to die for the sin of the world. That is the glory that is full of grace and forgiveness, full of the truth of God that all sinners have been atoned for:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
So when the Prophet Isaiah is sent forth, he is sent to make the proclamation: Your God reigns.
It comes by proclamation, because it is not known by what we see in our lives.
It is the grace of God and the truth of God.
But while we are still in our sinful flesh, while we are still God’s Israel living in this world, we will not know this grace and this truth of God, except by the proclaimed Word. This Word creates the new reality, the life of faith.
This Word, proclaimed in the midst of the church, read in our families, shines the light of Heaven into the darkness of our lives in this world.
Your God reigns is the proclamation. Though hidden to the eyes of this world, it is the reality:
The Word became flesh and dwelt among, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Your God reigns. In your doubts, speaking to you in his Word of faith.
In your fears, he is bringing to you his word of comfort.
In your guilt, declaring you clean in his Gospel.
In your shame, cleansing you with his Word of grace.
Your God reigns, and you will find him in his Word.
The Word made flesh is Jesus on the cross, Jesus in his Body and Blood of the Sacrament.
“Your God reigns” is the proclamation. We will find him reigning over us in his Word, full of grace and truth.
In the Name of Jesus.