The Old Testament text for this Sunday is from the book of the prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 12:1-6 and comprises the entirety of the 6th chapter of Isaiah. This is a beautiful text of comfort and praise and has been incorporated as a Biblical Canticle in the Lutheran Service Book (#927).
The largest challenge of this text is to identify the setting and context. To what age/era is Isaiah pointing to and proclaiming? In chapter 11, Isaiah begins with his famous prophecy: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” Obviously, this is a direct messianic prophecy and scholars of caliber, such as Martin Chemnitz, have pointed to this verse as proof of the two natures of Christ. Thus, the chapter begins with the promise of the coming Messiah. Simple enough, but in 11:6 the focus of Isaiah’s prophecy changes. Now, it becomes clear he is looking beyond the birth of the Christ and proclaiming the day when Christ shall come again. The language is definitely eschatological as it calls up images of a new creation (a new Heaven and a new Earth). “In that day the root of Jesse...” (verse 10), speaks of the gathering of the people of God, the faithful from the ends of the earth. It is a gathering of the faithful remnant.
After this, our text in Isaiah 12:1 begins with the words, “You will say in that day,” and the important question for us in understanding and preaching is, “What day?” Generally, these words would point back to what has come immediately before, the context and language of the “second coming.” Thus, it appears to be set in the context of the courts of Heaven where the faithful have been gathered in the midst of the Holy One of Israel. However, there is no clear consensus on this among Old Testament scholars. Some would argue Isaiah has moved back to first-coming proclamation in chapter 6. While others (including myself) would argue, “In that day...,” connects this chapter to the second coming language at the end of chapter 11. There is no clear majority of opinion here.
In our preaching it is important to decide how to understand this. Are we going to preach the “now” or the “not yet?” As the people of Israel are living in their “now,” are they hearing the words of Isaiah as the “not yet” or, the “not yet of the not yet?” In my sermon preparation, I will be focusing on the “now” of the Church as we celebrate the “sprout from the stump of Jesse” while pointing the people’s eyes forward to the “not yet” of the gathering of the saints in Heaven and the joyous reality of being in the presence of the Holy One in the courts of the LORD’s house.
[Isaiah] is looking beyond the birth of the Christ and proclaiming the day when Christ shall come again.
12:1 בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא (bai-Yom ha-Hu) “in that day” A common phrase in Isaiah which points to and identifies a time and place. Always ask, “What day?”
אָנַפְתָּ (a-Naf-ta) root: אנף (aw-naf) Qal: “to be angry”
12:2 יְשׁוּעָתִי (ye-shu-a-Ti) from: ישוּעה (yesh-oo-aw) “help; salvation”
עָזִּי (az-Zi) from: עזo (oze) “strength; might; refuge; protection”
וְזִמְרָת> (ve-zim-Rat) “song; strength; melody”
12:3 וּשְׁאַבְתֶּם (u-she-av-tem) root: שׁאב (sahw-ab) Qal: “to draw” As in to draw water.
בְּשָׂשׂוֹן. (be-sa-Son) “joy; exultation; jubilation” Drawing water from the wells of salvation references the saving and preserving nature of water. One could perhaps connect this to the saving and preserving powers of baptism.
מִמַּעַיְנֵי (mi-ma-ay-Nei) from: מעין (mah-yawn) “source; spring; headwaters”
12:4 עֲלִילֹתָיו (a-li-lo-Tav) “deed; action”
נִשְׂגָּב (nis-Gav) root: שׂגב (saw-gab) Niphal: “to be exalted” Calling upon the “name of the LORD” is not simply an act of worship, it also identifies to whom the people belong.
12:5 זַמְּרוּ (zam-me-Ru) root: זמר (zaw-mar) Piel: “to sing; to praise; to praise in song”
גֵאוּתE (ge-Ut) “majesty; gloriousness”
12:6 צַהֲלִי (tza-ha-Li) root: צהל (tsaw-hal) Qal: “to rejoice; to cry out shrilly”
וָרֹנִּי (va-Ron-ni) root: רנן (raw-nan) Qal: “to give a ringing cry; to break out in rejoicing; to rejoice”
Concordia Theology: Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Isaiah 12:1-6.
Text Week: A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Isaiah 12:1-6.