The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 55:10-13 and contextually follows the very well known “Suffering Servant” chapters 53-54. Now, in chapter 55 there are 16 commands. As Lessing says in his Concordia Commentary on Isaiah 40-55: “Israel is invited to trust in the finished work of the Suffering Servant and feast at the banquet of divine abundance” (pp. 657-658).
Our specific pericopal verses begin with expounding upon the Word of the LORD. The message is clear and assuring—the Word of God does what it says it will do! It creates and it will re-create. It intersects with history and it directs history. It works saving faith and it keeps us in the one, true faith. Lessing says it this way:
“Yahweh’s Word comes down from Heaven and goes forth into the world to accomplish His gracious plan. This is true of Scripture and preeminently pertains to the Word incarnate, Jesus Christ. He is the eternal Word and God, the agent of creation (John 1:1-3), who became flesh (John 1:14) to reveal the unseen God: “The only–begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, has made Him known” (John 1:18). Jesus is the Word sent down from Heaven to be the bread of life for the world (John 6:32-35)” (p. 667).
In verses 12-13 we have the beautiful imagery of creation rejoicing as the curse of Genesis 3 is reversed. The thorn shall come up the cypress and the brier shall come up the myrtle… the opposite since the Fall. Creation itself shares in the re-creation/restoration of the people of God. Re-creation is connected to the rescue and redemption from Babylon as the people of God are restored to the land of Israel according to the promises of God’s powerful Word. In turn, this is equated with all creation being rescued and redeemed from sin and death and restored to the new creation/the new Eden/the courts of everlasting life.
55:10 יֵרֵד (ye-Red) Qal, imperfect: “to come down”
הַגֶּשֶׁם; (hag-Ge-shem) “rain; shower”
וְהַשֶּׁלֶג (ve-hash-She-leg) “snow”
יָשׁוּב (ya-Shuv) Qal: “to return; to go back”
הִרְוָה (hir-Vah) root: רוה (raw-vaw) Hiphil: “to water; to water thoroughly; to cause to be watered”
וְהוֹלִידָהּ > (ve-ho-li-Dah) root: ילד (yaw-lad) Hiphil: “to give birth” “to cause to give birth”
וְהִצְמִיחָהּ> (ve-hitz-mi-Chah) root: צמח (tsaw-makh) Hiphil: “to sprout” “to cause to sprout”
*Note the Hiphil’s emphasis on the causative power of the Word of the LORD.
לַזֹּרֵעַ; (laz-zo-Re-a) Qal, participle: “ to sow” “for the sower”
55:11 רֵיקָם (rei-Kam) “without effect; in vain; without success”
חָפַצְתִּי (cha-Fatz-ti) root: חפץ (khaw-fates) Qal: “to take pleasure in; to delight in; to desire”
וְהִצְלִיח> (ve-hitz-Li-ach) root: צלח (tsaw-lakh) Hiphil: “to accomplish; to be successful”
55:12 בְשִׂמְחָה. (ve-sim-Chah) “jubilation; joy; gladness; mirth”
תּוּבָלוּן (tu-va-Lun) root: יבל (yaw-bal) Hophal: “to be lead; to be brought; to be conducted” “to cause to be brought along” The causing agent is, once again, the LORD.
וְהַגְּבָעוֹת (ve-hag-ge-va-ot) from: גבעה (ghib-aw) “hill; height; elevated place”
יִפְצְחוּ (yif-tze-Chu) root: פצח (paw-tsakh) Qal: “to be happy; to be cheerful; to break forth with (with joy)”
רִנָּה (rin-Nah) “rejoicing; ringing cry of joy”
יִמְחֲאוּ (yim-cha-u) root: מחא (maw-khaw) Qal: “to clap; to strike” See also Psalm 98:8; Ezekiel 25:6.
55:13 הַנַּעֲצוּץ; (han-na-a-Tzutz) “thorn; thorn bush” The only other occurrence is in Isaiah 7:19.
בְרוֹשׁ. (ve-Roosh) “cypress; fir; juniper”
הַסִּרְפַּד; (has-sir-Pad) “stinging nettle” Hapax Legomenon
הֲדַס (ha-Das) “myrtle”
לְאוֹת. (le-ot) “sign; omen; memorial”
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Isaiah 55:10-13.
Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Isaiah 55:10-13.