Tuesdays are for the Old Testament
In a time of trouble, prayers may well be brief. Is that all right? It certainly is. We call on God for his grace and he cares for us.
Luther, Martin, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, translated by Herbert J.A. Bowman) Luther’s Works, Vol. 16, Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 1-39. St. Louis: Concordia, 1969. Logos Electronic Edition.
“Isaiah Chapter 33” pp. 282-291.
Luther considers that Isaiah 33 is addressed to the downfall of Assyria (LW 16, 282). The king of Assyria had not only attacked Judah. He had despised them as well. In verse 1 it is the utter disregard for Judah which hurts the most. Yet the presumptuous Assyrians are poised to fall. Judah, then, asks God for his grace. This will rescue them and cause Assyria to fall (LW 16, 283). Note that in verse 2 Judah is ready to allow God his own timing but bes it to be quick.
Luther notes that the prayer is very brief. “A brief and well-prepared prayer begs for mercy alone. It has no regards for one’s own merits, but a man’s own need drives him to pray” (LW 16, 284). When God’s angel asnwers in verses 3-4, the Assyrians are defeated immediately.
In contrast to the Assyrians, the people of Judah are under God’s protection (vv. 4-6) (LW 16, 285). Isaiah pauses to review the destruction caused by the Assyrians and their fall in verses 7-9. God reflects n the useless striving of the Assyrians in verses 10-12 (LW 16, 286-287). All their efforts, though quite frightening, finally failed. Luther notes that in verse 12, a fire of thorns is not a very useful fire in itself. It therefore symbolizes destruction (LW 16, 288).
The condemnation does not end with Assyria’s fall. Unbelieving Judah, those who are seeking their own grain, will fall as well. It is those who walk by faith who will stand (LW 16, 289). Those will have all they need (pp. 289-290). Therefore, again, God’s people call out in verses 20-24 for God to look upon them with favor (p. 291).