Second Sunday in Advent December 10, 2017
1 Samuel 12:22-24
62, 68, 61, 60
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
PRAYER OF THE DAY (Collect) for the Second Sunday in Advent: Stir up our hearts, O God, to prepare the way for Your one-and-only Son. Enable us to worship Him whose coming brings us life and salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever. Amen.
For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.
In Christ Jesus our Savior, who has come, and who will come again to receive us into glory, Dear Fellow Redeemed:
This advent season we are considering Nazarites who are types of Christ. A “type” is something or someone presented in the Bible as a picture of the coming Savior. And a Nazarite was a person who was set apart from the people of Israel by meeting special requirements before God. Last week we considered Samson, who, though a sinner, was a picture of the coming Christ. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Samson delivered his people from their enemies, the Philistines. Christ, who was also filled with the Holy Spirit, would come to deliver all people from their spiritual enemies, sin, death, and the devil.
Tonight we consider another Nazarite, Samuel, as a type or picture of the coming Savior. Before his conception and birth his mother promised that she would “give his life to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” (1 Samuel 1:11) Both Samuel and Christ directed the people to CONSIDER THE GREAT THINGS THE LORD HAS DONE for His people. Through faith in the promised Savior, the people of Israel were God’s people. Through faith in Christ, that revealed Savior who has come, and who will come again, all believers are the people of God, having obtained mercy from God through Christ our Savior.
Samuel was a prophet of the LORD God. As such He directed the attention of the people to the Lord’s plan of salvation and the coming Savior of Promise, for he taught the people “the good and the right way.”
When Samuel was a boy the LORD spoke to him, foretelling him of the downfall of the high priest, Eli. Shortly thereafter Samuel was recognized as a prophet of the LORD God of Israel. We are told that “The LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD. Then the LORD appeared again in Shiloh. For the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.” (1 Samuel 3:19)
“The Way” which Samuel taught is none other than “The Way, the Truth, and the Life,” (John 14:6) the Savior Himself, Jesus Christ. Samuel directed the people to consider the great things the LORD had done for them in promising the Savior from sin.
Consider: When mankind fell into sin, and was deserving of death and punishment (and still is by nature), the LORD did not turn His back on rebellious man. Instead He promised mankind the Savior who would crush the head of Satan and deliver man from sin and death.
When the LORD delivered Israel from Egypt and brought them to the Promised Land, the LORD used the Passover and the animal sacrifices in the temple to direct the people’s attention to coming Savior. The blood of the Passover lamb and the sacrifices were to lead the people to think of the promised Savior whose blood would cover the sins of all people.
Throughout its history, Israel had enjoyed protection by the LORD God. The LORD would see to it that the family line of the Savior would be preserved, for that Savior would come from the house of Israel. He would come for the eternal blessing of all people, as the LORD had promised Abraham, in whom all the nations would be blessed.
This is what Samuel declared when he taught the people to consider what the LORD had done for them. They were to trust, not in themselves, but in the Covenant God, the promised Savior, for that is the good and the right Way, indeed the only Way to eternal life, for all people.
In declaring this Savior to the people, Samuel surely directed the people to the promise given by the LORD through Moses, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” (Deuteronomy 18:15)
Christ fulfilled this prophecy when, like Moses and Samuel, He came “to preach good tidings to the poor.” (Isaiah 61:1) Christ directs all people to Himself as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” By doing so He teaches us what He has done for all people. What great thing has God done for all people? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
This is what Jesus told Nicodemus, and what He tells us through His Holy Word. Christ carried out His office as the Prophet by actually preaching the forgiveness of sins which He Himself won by offering Himself on the cross to pay for our sins.
Today He continues to carry out the office of Prophet by preaching through His Word. He commands His followers to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) And He promises His people that He will be working through them as His Gospel message is proclaimed. He says, “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” (Luke 10:16) Believers go forth to proclaim the Good News with Christ’s authority, for He says, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18ff)
The purpose of teaching all people the way of salvation is that all people may become the children of God through repentance and faith and inherit everlasting life, the eternal Promised Land that awaits all who trust in Christ.
In order that all people might be brought to believe what great things God has done for all people through Christ, and that the faith of His people would not fail, Christ also:
As the pastor, or shepherd of Israel it was Samuel’s privilege to pray for the people of Israel. In fact, as the shepherd of Israel, he says that he would “sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for [the people].”
Samuel prayed that the people would continually repent of their sins and turn to the LORD for the forgiveness that would be won for them and for all people by the blood of the coming Savior. He prayed that “the LORD [would] not forsake His people for His name’s sake…” The name of the LORD is everything that God has revealed to mankind concerning Himself in His Word. God would not forsake His people for His very name declares that He is the God of Grace and Mercy, revealed in the fact that He did not leave mankind to die in sin. He sent His Son to suffer and die to take away man’s sins. God’s very name declares the great things He has done for all people.
Like Samuel, we pray for one another, that our faith would not fail; that we would continue to serve the LORD in truth with all our heart. Like Samuel, when one of us falls into sin we pray that the LORD would restore that one to repentance and faith. We pray that the LORD would never forget His grace, but would always remember what great things He has done for us in Jesus Christ.
As we proclaim the Gospel, we do not preach alone. Even so, when we pray to our heavenly Father, we do not pray alone. Christ the Good Shepherd, our High Priest prays with us and for us.
During His life on earth Christ closed His public ministry with what we refer to as His “High Priestly Prayer.” Christ prayed for the disciples that their faith would not fail, that they would be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and that they would spread the Gospel throughout the world. Christ also adds, “I do not pray for these alone [i.e., the disciples], but also for those who will believe in Me through their word [that’s YOU and ME!], that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You.” (John 17:20f.) Christ Jesus prayed for us personally, that OUR faith would not fail, that WE would be sanctified, and that the Father’s blessings would be upon OUR preaching!
In addition, Christ prays for all people, as He says, “That the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:21)
The Good Shepherd has not ceased to pray for us. We read, “It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34) Having died to pay for our sins and having risen from death, Christ lives to speak in our behalf before the Father in heaven, so that, “If anyone sins we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:1f.) As our Advocate, or “Go-Between,” Christ presents Himself before His Father as our Righteousness, the satisfactory payment for the sins of all people. Therefore, when we repent of our sins and plead with our heavenly Father for the forgiveness of sins, we can be certain that our sins are forgiven, for the Savior Himself speaks in our behalf.
Consider what great things our LORD has done for us: He has given us the Savior to deliver the world from sin, death, and the power of the devil. He has brought us to faith in our Savior, who gave Himself for us, and continues to pray for us, serving as the Intercessor between God and man, that sinners may stand justified in Him before the heavenly throne.
Having been taught the good and right way of salvation, namely, Jesus Christ the Righteous, knowing and trusting what God has done for us completely out of His undeserved love, let us also “fear the LORD [that is, give all glory to Him], and serve Him in truth with all [our] heart.” We do not serve Him thinking that we will earn His favor by our works. Rather, let us serve the LORD BECAUSE Christ has earned God’s everlasting favor for us. He has made us His people through faith. And our LORD has promised that He will not forsake His people, but He will come again and receive us unto Himself, that where He is, there we may be also. In His Saving Name, AMEN.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.