The Old Testament lesson for this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 62:1-5 and is also the text listed in the Lutheran Service Book for the occasion of a “mission observance.” Last week, Epiphany Sunday, we saw Isaiah lay out the beautiful Epiphany theme of “light contrasting with dark.” This week we find three strong Epiphany motifs in our text. It is interesting to note the Gospel reading for this Sunday is the account of the wedding at Cana which plays strongly into the Bridegroom/Bride design of verses 4-5.
The first motif which begins this pericope is the contrast of the “silence of God” to the “revelation of God” which is His righteousness and salvation—the Epiphany of His Son. The silence of God has always been a big problem for the people of Israel. If God is not speaking through the prophets, or they have lost track of His Holy Word (ex. Josiah and the discovery of the Scroll/Torah in 2 Kings 22), the people have no idea where they stand in their relationship with Him. Is God with us? Is He angry/pleased with us? We see the fear and angst this silence causes as they are in exile in foreign lands (Psalm 137) and as they seek to know the LORD’s presence and His will, but they are unable to hear His voice. This pericope begins with the great proclamation by the LORD, “…I will not keep silent… I will not be quiet.” Words of great comfort.
The second motif, related to the first, is of “separation/reunion.” The Fall into sin is the original separation from God, but we see this as well with each exile which comes because of unfaithfulness and “a whoring” after other gods and nations. Now, in Isaiah 62, we hear the reversal as the LORD promises to reunite His chosen people to Him and make them/her a beautiful crown in His hand. Of course, all reuniting to the LORD takes place through the coming and work of Christ.
This brings us to the third motif mentioned earlier, the “Bridegroom/Bride” theme. The separation is like a divorce, but the reunion is a marriage. God created mankind to be His bride and now, in Christ Jesus, the Church of God is the bride of Christ. So, “…as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” Again, beautiful and comforting words for the people of Israel and us.
Once again, thank you to Reed Lessing and the fine work in his commentary on Isaiah 56-66 in the Concordia Commentary Series.
62:1 אֶחֱשֶׁה (e-che-Sheh) root: חשׁה (khaw-shaw) Qal: “to be silent; to be quiet; to be still”
אֶשְׁקוֹט, (esh-Kot) root: שׁקט (shaw-kat) Qal: “to be quiet; inactive; to maintain a quiet attitude; undisturbed” These two verbs are similar, but the second adds more information—a Hebrew verse structure technique with the second verb building on the first. The LORD will not be silent (total silence) and, indeed, He will not even maintain a quiet attitude—He is going to proclaim and act!
כַנֹּגַהּ (chan-No-gah) from: נֹּגַהּ (no-gah) “brightness; gleam; bright light”
וִישׁוּעָתָהּ (vi-shu-a-Tah) from: ישׁועָה (yesh-oo-aw) “prosperity; deliverance; salvation” Salvation is intended to take us back to the language of “Suffering Servant” in chapter 53.
כְּלַפִּיד (ke-lap-Pid) “torch (as/like a torch)”
יִבְעָר (yiv-Ar) root: בער (baw-ar) Qal: “to burn; be burning”
62:2 וְקֹרָא (ve-Ko-ra) root: קרא (kaw-raw) Qal passive perfect: “to be called” An old, antiquated form found also in Isaiah 58:12; 61:3.
פִּי יְהוָה (pi Yah-weh) “the mouth of Yahweh” As Lessing notes, this phrase is most often connected to Gospel promises.
יִקֳּבֶנּוּ (yik-ko-Ven-nu) root: נקב (naw-kab) Qal: “to decide; to give (as in designation of a name)”
62:3 עֲטֶרֶת (a-Te-ret) “garland; diadem; crown”
תִּפְאֶרֶת (tif-E-ret) “beauty; glory”
וצנוף (וּצְנִיף) (u-Tze-nif u-Tze-nof) What was said (Q) and what was written (K) both have the same meaning: “headband; turban; diadem”
מְלוּכָה (mu-lu-Chah) “the position of king; royalty; kingship” The idea is “a royal diadem in the palm of your God” This language is also “marriage” language in so far as the bridegroom adorns his bride with a beautiful headdress, etc. and bestows his name on her.
62:4 יֵאָמֵר (ye-a-Mer) root: אמר (aw-mar) Niphal imperfect: “to be said”
עֲזוּבָה (a-zu-Vah) “forsaken; abandoned one” Transliterated in some translations as “Azubah” (Qal passive participle)
שְׁמָמָה (she-ma-Mah) “desolate; deserted; wasteland” Transliterated in some translations as “Shemamah”. Note the contrast from Isaiah 1:7 where the land is declared desolate.
חֶפְצִי-בָהּ (chef-tzi-vah) “My delight is in her” Transliterated in some translations as “Hephzibah”
בְּעוּלָה (be-u-Lah) “married” Transliterated in some translations as “Beulah”
חָפֵץ (cha-Fetz) Qal: “to delight; to have pleasure”
תִּבָּעֵל (tib-ba-El) root: בעל (baw-al) Niphal: “to be married” This Niphal form is only used here and in Proverbs 30:23.
62:5 Note the alliteration in this verse with the letter b
בָּחוּר (ba-Chur) “young man” The nuance here is a young man who is vigorous, fully grown and unmarried.
בְּתוּלָה (be-tu-La) “virgin”
וּמְשׂוֹשׂ (u-me-Sos) “joy”
חָתָן (cha-Tan) “bridegroom; newly married man (usually a young man)”
כַּלָּה; (kal-Lah) “bride”
יָשִׂישׂ (ya-sis) root: שׂישׂ (soos) Qal imperfect: “to rejoice; have joy; to exult; show joy”
Concordia Theology-Various resources to assist you in preaching Isaiah 62:1-5 from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO.