Tuesdays are for the Old Testament
Luther, Martin, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, translated by Herbert J.A. Bowman) Luther’s Works, Vol. 17, Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 40-66.St. Louis: Concordia, 1972. Logos Electronic Edition.
“Isaiah Chapter 60” pp. 311-328.
Isaiah chapter 60 turns from the rebukes of the previous chapters and begins to make prophecies about Christ’s kingdom. The Gospel here rises to shine. Luther observes that the treasure of the Gospel is often overlooked. But, like a treasure, it shines when cared for (LW 17, 311). The people of the Gospel also arise and shine due to the light of the Gospel (LW 17, 312). Verse 2 refers to darkness in the world, as opposed to the light. Luther views this darkness as “all the most imposing and impressive laws of Moses, civil laws, statutes, and regulations. however good these are, they do not illumine consciences. The Gospel reproves them all as being unable to bring glory and a good conscience” (LW 17, 313). As we move on into verses 4 and 5, the work of the Gospel is to shine to all nations, enlightening not only believing Israel, but all the surrounding nations (LW 17, 314). The text goes on to describe a multitude flocking toward God and his people. It describes an altar and God’s house being glorified. Luther promptly ties this to the New Testament, with the ministry of the Word as the sacrifice presented to God and the sacrifice of Christ as that which glorifies God’s house (LW 17, 315). Luther further rejects dependence on the outward shows of religion. God’s temple dwells in “pure consciences and sins put away” (LW 17, 316). Those who depend on anything else are engaged in false religion. However, this does not mean that finances and resources are lacking in the Church. While they don’t avail for salvation, Luther observes that in verses 9 and following, the Church is described as being the place where people bring gifts. “People who havebeen drawn into the church and to the love of the neighbor by faithfulness in faith and true love share what they have with a trusting heart and diligent hand. If I have won someone’s heart, I will soon have his purse to. To the glory of God the faithful return nothing, but freely bestow themselves and their goods on the poor and in simplicity show themselves grateful toward the mercy of God” (LW 17, 317). The place of God’s mercy, furthermore, is where God shows favor on his people. Luther identifies this as the Church. It’s the place where God makes his people secure. Verse 11 is a picture of the gates of the city open, a sign of peace and security (LW 17, 319). The text goes on to describe a people once hated and now revered. Verse 17 speaks of a “visitation.” Luther points out that “visitation means episcopate...A bishop is an overseer, a caretaker of his office” (LW 17, 323). The bishop is the person who is to visit and bring peace upon his people. This is part of the process which we find in verse 18. A time will come when there is no violencei n the land. The message of salvation and praise to God will be universal (LW 17, 324). This is God’s work, planting his church, which will grow and spread (LW 17, 328).