Tuesday, December 17
Psalm 80:1–7, 17–19
Like the story about Ahaz in yesterday’s reading, this psalm comes from about 700 years before Christ’s birth, when Israel was threatened by Assyria. The people plead with God to save them from the ruins of war with a hostile neighbor. What does Christ have to do with this ancient civilization’s political troubles? Perhaps nothing. We should proceed with caution when attaching the name of Jesus Christ to these kinds of texts, written so long before his birth.

And yet, even so long ago, Israel yearned to see God’s shining face—just as we do today. They were longing to see God in action. They were looking for God to use God’s power to restore their civilization as it faced destruction. We often ask God to bless our nation. But what if Christ’s coming is about a restoration to justice and peaceful relationships and not about shoring up a civilization? Christ’s word of grace will stand forever even as civilizations crumble.

Jesus Christ, do not let us be the ones who scorn or threaten others. Do not let us be the enemies laughing among ourselves while others fear for their lives. Teach us to be the peacemakers, Lord. Amen.

From O Come, O Come Emmanuel, a publication of Luther Seminary. Used with permission. You may download O Come, O Come Emmanuel via this link. If you subscribe to Luther Seminary’s God Pause, you will receive O Come, O Come, Emmanuel in your email inbox each day of Advent. If you’re not a God Pause subscriber, sign up here and select “God Pause Daily Devotions.” You’ll continue to receive daily God Pause devotions, written by Luther Seminary alumni, after Advent ends.

Writers: Michael Binder ’17, Affiliate Faculty in Congregational Mission and Leadership; Amy Marga, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology. Theological Editor: James L. Boyce ’71, Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Greek. Cover photo by Elizabeth Explores on Unsplash.