Vol. XI — No. 24 June 14, 1970
Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? But the thunder of his power who can understand?
Dear Christian friends of Holy Trinity:
We greet you in the name of God above,
our Savior-God who stooped from his high throne
to take upon himself our sinful load
of guilt and death and endless agony,
and raise us up to sit with him on high
and reign with him as kings and priests for aye.
This God is he who asked the pious Job,
How hast thou helped? you are devoid of power;
how savest thou, whose arm doth have no strength?
Thou hast no wisdom of thyself, no speech
to tell the glories of the saving God!
He stretcheth out the north o’er empty space
and bindeth up the waters in thick clouds.
He holdeth back the view of his high throne
until the day and night come to an end.
On clouds of glory seated he shall come
to judge the world in righteousness and truth;
the dead shall hear his voice and shall come forth:
Ye blessed of my Father now receive
the kingdom that for you has been prepared.
The text is Job, fourteenth of twenty-six:
Lo, these are parts of his ways,
but how little a portion is heard of him?
but the thunder of his power who can understand?
O that my words were written, cried out job,
and printed in a book (they are!)—
that iron pen on rock engrave them would
so they forever might be read by men!
For my REDEEMER lives, and he shall stand
upon the earth to bring salvation down,
and bring men up to God!
Strong Satan was the foe of God and man,
sworn with a bloody oath to ruin all
the glory God in love prepared for us:
rebellion was his course, and violence;
he would but first implant the seed of doubt,
and tell a lie—he fathered it, said Christ.
“He trusted to have equalled the Most High,
if he opposed; and with ambitious aim
against the throne and monarch of God
raised impious war in heaven, and battle proud,
with vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,
with hideous ruin and combustion, down
to bottomless perdition; there to dwell
in adamantine chains and penal fire,
who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms.”
The Breaker-at-the-Head, the Micah’s words,
came down for us upon the battlefield
and captive took captivity, killed death,
and slew for us the power of every sin—
he nailed it to his cross!
In act of blessing those who trusted him
he rose to God and took his throne again,
above all principality and power,
dominion, might, and every name that’s named,
till every knee should bow, and tongue confess
him Lord of all, our Savior and our God!
All power was given him, in heaven and earth:
Therefore GO YE and witness what you saw,
the death of death on Cross and Easter morn!
The Spirit gave the power to send you forth,
Spirit of truth, converting sinful men,
to make alive what long was dead to God,
twice-born, into the image of God’s Son,
the firstfruits of a new and holy race.
All is not glory in the church below,
for it is militant, in strife for life,
and they who would be Christ’s must sacrifice
the ease of affluence, the boon of peace.
I send you forth as lambs in midst of wolves,
and hatred for my name’s sake is your lot;
will they love you, who have not love for me?
I come not to send peace—indeed, a sword,
that parteth very friends, and sets at odds
those in the self same house.
But lose your life, the favor of a “friend,”
the gain ill-got, the friendship of the world,
and I will take you up unto the throng
of those before the throne in splendor bright,
victorious there to live in ecstasy
beyond the splendor of your fondest dreams!
Eye hath not seen, nor ear has it yet heard
what I for you prepared, who love me here.
And in the valley now, where you must wait,
I stand within the shadow, keeping watch.
Take courage and stand firm. My voice is low;
you hear it only when you listen well.
Though it be still and small, it sounds in tune
upon the ears of him who hears in faith.
The blind receive their sight, and lame men leap;
blest are the poor in spirit, when they crave
the benediction of the Father’s love
in tears of penitence.
What we have seen and heard, said Job of old,
are but the fringes of his mighty power.
It is a little portion that we hear.
THE THUNDER OF HIS POWER WHO CAN TELL?
We know but little of the might of God.
He has his way in whirlwind and in storm.
He laid the earth’s foundations without us.
He shut the sea up as with doors for bounds—
Thus far! No farther go!
In prophecy we see the sixth seal break:
an earthquake shakes the world’s foundations deep;
the sun turns black as sackcloth made of hair;
the moon as blood, and stars from heaven fall,
the heaven as a scroll together rolls,
and every mountain moves.
Yet God’s omnipotence is for our good:
as devils, with God’s finger, Christ cast out,
his mighty outstretched arm defends his own!
The people of his pasture he guards well
in pastures green, by quiet fountains still,
restores their souls and leads in righteous paths,
through valley of death’s shadow here below.
We witness this to men still lost and strayed,
for we have seen it with the eyes of faith.
Come with us, we will do thee good, and save.
And yet we witness more: the things not seen!
The glory that transcendeth us we know
by faith alone. As hidden by a screen,
or seen in the reflection of a glass,
not ear nor eye could penetrate and live—
so radiant is the light around the throne!
We seek the City set in splendor such
that God himself must tell of it with “pearl,
and amethyst, and topaz, emerald,
with streets of gold, like unto precious gems,
and crystal clear.”
A portion of his power appears to us
when sinner comes, returning from his ways,
to seek the benediction, “Child of mine.”
A portion of his power, when song and prayer
lifts up the soul cast down in trembling fear—
and peace and calm returns.
We live in suburbs of Jerusalem.
The city shall be ours to occupy,
when Christ our Lord returns omnipotent,
and every knee shall bow and tongue confess
that he is Lord of all! Amen! Amen!
We trust that to your hearts that was a rhapsody on the heavenlies. For on festivals we want to celebrate the certainties of truth and salvation—not as those who write the world’s books today, who see no hope. We look above the troubles and trials along the way, as did Pilgrim, who saw beyond the lights that glowed on the other side. From the mountain tops of God’s grace we see promise, hope, and victory.
Away, then, with the groveling attempts of man to lift himself by his own bootstraps. Away with the siren song of social action, a different economics, and a new morality—even with the prayer breakfasts and the neighborhood cells, the interdenominational dialogue and the ecumenical mishmash (the less men have to give, the more they are ready to share). Scratch all these and you will find the same self-interest, political goal, and covetousness that leaves them powerless either to transform society or bring in the kingdom of God.
By nature man has a stubborn and sinful will that must be broken. Otherwise what does it mean that “ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God”? Grapes must be crushed before they yield the wine of the kingdom to God’s taste.
But being crushed, “we shall all be changed, in a moment, at the last trump, when the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Not by improvement and betterment, but by death to the old Adam, and the resurrection of the new man.
When you see these things, like lightning on the thunderheads of a gathering storm, then “look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.”
As coming events cast their shadows before, so let events in the world today be for the Christian like the first birds of spring promising a lovely summer. Even wars and rumors of war are but a token of the final trumpet blast of the returning Savior.
“If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Col. 3:1-3.
In the Christian Church you live as in the suburbs of the new Jerusalem! Soon you shall occupy the city, but already your hearts are in the highlands of Paradise Regained.
These things you witness forth, things you have seen a little of, here and now, but they are but the fringes of what God has in store for you. You have listened these few years as to an artist on a mighty organ, but you have not heard the power of it that can shake the very walls of the building. You have seen the work of God in converting souls and bringing peace and calm to wounded hearts, but the thunder of his power is yet, for you to see and enjoy forever. that we wanted to sing for you today. Amen.
Ministry by Mail is a weekly publication of the Church of the Lutheran Confession. Subscription and staff information may be found online at www.clclutheran.org/ministrybymail.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the King James Version.