November 27, 2016 A+D
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Jeremiah prophesied that the Lord shall no longer be the One who brought the people out of Egypt, but shall be known as “the Lord our righteousness.”
The chief event in the history of Israel to that point was the Exodus. Israel had other important events. They rejoiced in creation and the call of Abraham. They celebrated Noah and his deliverance from the Flood. But the great event – that which gave birth to them as a nation and made them God’s people – was the slaughter of the Passover Lamb which spared them from the angel of death, the passage through the birth canal of the Red Sea on dry ground that delivered them from enslavement, and the leading of the pillar that led to the giving of the Law on Sinai. That was it.
The change that God gives through Jeremiah of His self-description from: “the Lord who brought us out of the land of Egypt” to “the Lord is our Righteousness” indicates that the Exodus wasn’t the chief event anymore. It was only a foreshowing of what God would do. It was a type not the fulfillment. Greater things were coming. God had not left Israel to itself. In the first place, He would bring the people out of exile. But that too would be a type. So He does not say that the Lord’s Name will change from “The Lord who brought us out of the land of Egypt” to “the Lord who brought us back from captivity.” Instead His Name will be: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
We live in the days when the types have all been fulfilled. Jesus has been born in Bethlehem, crucified and raised in Jerusalem. Rather than circumcision we have the fulfillment in Baptism, rather than the Passover and the sacrifices we have the Holy Communion. Jesus Christ is the Lord our righteousness. In Him, Judah is saved and Israel dwells securely. The Kingdom has been reunited and restored and the throne is returned to David. This is not a political kingdom but an eternal kingdom. Judah and Israel aren’t defined by the lineage of Jacob but by faith in Christ. The Priest in the Order of Melchizedek, the King of Righteousness, has offered Himself as a Sacrifice for the sins of the world and has made a people of those who were no people. He is the Lamb and the Pillar and the Law. And He is more: He is our Righteousness. Therefore we no longer say: “He is the Lord who brought us out of Egypt.” We say, “As the Lord lives He has brought us from the ends of the earth. He has gathered us by His death on the cross and made us His people by declaring us righteous.”
The central event in the history of the universe, not just of Israel, not even just of earth, but of the entirety of the cosmos is the Sacrifice of the Son to reconcile humanity back to the Father. All His other acts, every fiber of goodness in creation, echo or foreshow and deliver this. Thus St. Paul simply says: “We preach Christ crucified.” For to preach Christ crucified is to preach the Exodus and the Captivity and return of the Law.
We stand at the beginning of a new Church Year. It doesn’t begin with Jesus in Bethlehem. It begins with Jesus riding toward the cross. Advent isn’t getting us ready for Christmas or Easter. It is getting us ready for the Lord’s coming in glory and judgment. We get ready for that by receiving Him now in Word and Sacrament.
He will come in terrors on the Last Day. He will come to judge the nations. But it won’t be a terror to us. It will be a joy and delight. He is our righteousness. He has died to make us His. He has substituted Himself for us and declared us righteous as He is righteous. He comes on that day as He came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday: driven by His love and desire to have you. That is why we pray, “Hosanna,” Lord save us, and, “Come Lord Jesus, come quickly.”
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.