V Lent Wednesday – Esaias 41: 4-14

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Thus saith the Lord: Who hath wrought and done these things? he hath called it who called it from the generations of old; I God, the first and to allfuturity, I AM. 5 The nations saw, and feared; the ends of the earth drew nigh, and came together, 6 every one judging for his neighbor and that to assist his brother: and one will say, 7 The artificer hath become strong, and the coppersmith that smiteth with the hammer, and forgets also: sometimes he will say, It is a piece well joined: they have fastened them with nails; they will fix them, and they shall not be moved.  8 But thou, Israel, art my servant Jacob, and he whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham, whom I have loved: 9 whom I have taken hold of from the ends of the earth, and from the high places of it I have called thee, and said to thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and I have not forsaken thee. 10 Fear not; for I am with thee: wander not; for I am thy God, who hath strengthened thee; and I have helped thee, and have established thee with my just right hand.  11 Behold, all thine adversaries shall be ashamed and confounded; for they shall be as if they were not: and all thine opponents shall perish. 12 Thou shalt seek them, and thou shalt not find the men who shall insolently rage against thee: for they shall be as if they were not, and they that war against thee shall not be. 13 For I am thy God, who holdeth thy right hand, who saith to thee, 14 Fear not, Jacob, and thou Israel few in number; I have helped thee, saith thy God, he that redeemeth thee, O Israel. 

Our reading today begins with the Lord’s solemn proclamation that He alone is the true God.  The prophet records this revelation in the strongest term possible to the Old Testament, repeating the mystical name that the Lord revealed to Moses at the Burning Bush:  I AM.  

If there is truly only one God, then He must be the God not only of one chosen nation but of all nations.  Thus verse five, prophesying the conversion of the nations, follows immediately upon verse four, which proclaims that the LORD alone is God.  This is the message of all the Old Testament prophets, which is why the leaders of the Israelite nation consistently persecuted and killed the prophets, for they made an idol out of their uniqueness, worshipping themselves instead of God.   

St. Cyril of Alexandria comments thus on verses four, five, and six:  

He declares that he is God the first and that there is no second God after him. What does that mean? There is one God of all whose existence had no beginning. It was he who called all things into existence.  He is the first and only God, without beginning, the maker of all things, and there will never be any other God in the unending ages to come.  He alone is God. When the nations beheld Christ and the righteousness he brought, they all beheld his glory with the eyes of the mind.  For the text says that those from the ends of the earth, that is, from all over the earth, became afraid.  They were gathered together and drew near, no longer remaining far off and alien because of sin.  By a spiritual relationship they were gathered together with a single mind in the one faith.  This is apparent from the words of the text, drew near and came together.  When they tasted of the Lord and understood his goodness and were amazed at the beauty of the truth, they did not keep the gift to themselves; rather, they generously reached out and each decided to help his brother and friend. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Isaiah 

These three short verses demonstrate, once again, that the central teachings of the New Testament are contained, in a mystical and partial form, in the Old Testament.  Here, for example, we see the teachings that there is one God,  that the I AM of the Burning Bush is the Logos of God Who is incarnate in Christ, that the inspired preaching of the Church works through enlightening the vision of the mind, that the One God is the God of all nations and calls all nations into unity in the Church, and that, when one starts worshipping this one, true God in the Church, one will also realize that he must help his neighbor. 

The corrupt royal and priestly authorities of the holy prophet’s time, who persecuted him and finally slew him by sawing him in half, hated him because they hated the Christ Who was to come and  Who was the chief subject of the prophet’s inspired preaching.   Neither they, nor their descendants who murdered the God-Man, wanted a loving Savior Who would enlighten the minds of men of all nations to know Who God really is.   They wanted an earthly king who would gratify their sinful passions by making them the lords of this fallen world.  To this day, those who desire dominion over all the nations of the earth hate Christ.  Thus it will be to the end.

As we prepare to worship Christ in His saving and pure Passion, let us crucify our sinful passions and allow our true King to enlighten the inner king of the soul, that is, the spiritual mind.   Only by the eyes of the mind can we understand Who He is, as long as we live in this fallen world of types and shadows.   If only we shall have appropriated the fruits of Holy Illumination, that is of our Baptism, and with illumined mind shall have persisted in His service to the end in faith and good works, through the grace of final perseverance, we will, one day, see Him as He is, and bask in His light for all eternity. 

Through the prayers of Thy holy prophet and martyr Esaias, O Christ God, enlighten our minds to the understanding of Thy Holy Gospel.  Amen. 

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