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God’s Word for You

Isaiah 9:7

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, December 6, 2007

7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this. (NIV)

When King David was alive, many people were so overcome by his charisma and his leadership that they gave up on being his enemy, and like Achish king of Gath (1 Samuel 27:6) turned into friends. But the Christ who came to David’s throne has conquered every enemy and won over our hearts forever. His throne is eternal, which is exactly the promise God made to David (2 Samuel 7:13).

But Jesus doesn’t rule our hearts with laws, borders, walls, guards, swords or other weapons. He rules us and governs us with justice and righteousness, and with his compassion. He has done what no other leader has ever done or could ever do. Alexander the Great conquered the world but couldn’t hold onto it. Napoleon conquered most of Europe but had nothing to show for it when he was done except destruction and entire nations who were tired of him, sick of his war and just plain hungry. Hitler was crazy. The Soviets were misled, misguided and more than a little paranoid. Our American forefathers were mostly Deists rather than Christians and set up a republic that is hardly Christian, but which at least permits Christians to live and worship—and for that reason we should thank God (and submit to our government, such as it is, “for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13).

But Christ is more than any of these governments. He is superior even to the angels (Hebrews 1:4). As the Son, he is superior even to Moses who was just a servant in God’s house (Hebrews 3:3). The peace he won for us is greater than the peace Joshua won for Israel (Hebrews 4:7-8). And he is greater than any priest, because a priest offers sacrifices over and over again all his life and can never stop (Hebrews 5:3), but Christ’s sacrifice was once for all—for all people, for all time—and so no more sacrifices need to be made. That is why Christian ministers are never called “priests,” because a priest makes a sacrifice to appease God or complete the work of salvation in the face of God whose Son already completed his work of salvation. There is no more sacrifice to be made (Hebrews 10:11-12).

In the Old Testament, the word “zeal” is often a negative word meaning “jealousy” (Numbers 5:15, 18; Isaiah 11:13) or “envy” (Ecclesiastes 4:4). But Isaiah, both in his own prophecy and speaking in 2 Kings 19:31 talks about the “zeal of the LORD Almighty.” This is God’s energized, active emotion for us, his people. In his comments on this passage Luther described this zeal or ‘angry love’ this way: God loves us, but he is angry with our enemies, sin, death, Satan, so that he can practice his love towards us more abundantly. There is nothing but mercy here—which surprises no one. Luther also describes this love as a friendly jealousy, a wrathful love, as I interpret the word. It is the exceedingly earnest passion of zeal. (LW 16:328).

Christ’s passion. Even in the prophecies about him, the point is always the basic building block of faith: Christ giving his life for our sins. He rules the world with truth and grace. He rules the world because he saved it. He saved us. This is the God we worship, who rescued us and who brought us peace.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.