Tuesday after the Last Sunday

Psalmody: Psalm 41:7–12

All who hate me whisper together against me.
They plan evil for me. They say,
“A deadly affliction is poured out on him.
He will never get up from the place where he lies.”
Even a man who was at peace with me,
a man whom I trusted, who ate my bread,
    has raised up his heel to step on me.

Closing Prayer

10 But you, Lord, have mercy on me.
Raise me up, so that I can repay them.
11 From this I know that you are pleased with me:
My enemy does not triumph over me.
12 As for me—in my integrity you uphold me,
and you set me up in your presence forever.

Luther’s notes on the Psalm:

The 41st psalm is a psalm of prayer in which Christ Himself prophesies and laments over His betrayer, Judas, together with his comrades, by whom He would be crucified. He prays that He would be raised up from death and that He might be elevated to God’s presence at His right hand. But Christ offers comfort for the multitudes by making Himself into a sinner, though truly He was without any sin. Thus He stands and declares Himself to be in our place, in our person, and He carries our sins as if they were His own, as if He had committed them Himself.

However, in the beginning of the psalm, He declares a blessing for those who show regard for those in misery, that is, those who do not become offended at Jesus Christ, the miserable crucified sinner, but hold fast to Him. For it is very offensive to believe that such a poor, condemned sinner should be raised so high that he may sit at the right hand of God.

Old Testament Reading: Daniel 4:1–37

Nebuchadnezzar’s Letter

4 From King Nebuchadnezzar:

To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell on the entire earth: May your peace and prosperity increase.
2It seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God did for me.

3How great are his signs! 
How mighty are his wonders! 
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom, 
and his dominion extends from generation to generation. 

Nebuchadnezzar Seeks the Meaning of His Dream

4When I, Nebuchadnezzar, was carefree in my house and prospering in my palace, 5I saw a dream that frightened me. The images I saw while I was on my bed and the visions in my head alarmed me. 6So I issued a decree to bring before me all of the wise men of Babylon so that they could give the interpretation of the dream and make it known to me. 7Then the magicians, the spell casters, the astrologers, and the diviners came, and I told them the dream. However, they could not make its meaning known to me. 8Afterward, Daniel came before me (whose name is Belteshazzar, like the name of my god, and a spirit of the holy gods dwells in him), and I told him the dream.

9Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that a spirit of the holy gods dwells in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you, take a look at the dream I saw and interpret it for me. 10I was seeing visions in my head while I was on my bed:
There was a tree standing in the middle of the earth, and its height was great. 11The tree grew and became strong. Its height reached to heaven, and it was visible to the ends of the whole earth. 12Its leaves were beautiful, and its fruit was plentiful. On it there was enough food for all. Under the tree the wild animals had shade, and the birds of the air lived in its branches. All living creatures fed themselves from it.
13I was on my bed, watching the visions in my head, and I saw a watcher, who was a holy one, come down from heaven. 14He called out loudly, and this is what he said:
Chop down the tree and cut off its branches. Strip its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it, and the birds from its branches. 15However, leave the stump with its root in the ground, with an iron and bronze band around it. Leave it with the grass of the field, and let it be wet with the dew from the sky. Let its place be with the animals among the plants of the earth. 16Let its mind be changed from that of a human, let the mind of an animal be given to it, and let seven times pass over it.
17The proclamation is a decree of the watchers, and the matter is a command of the holy ones, so that all the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdoms of men. He gives them to whomever he wishes, and he appoints the lowliest men over them.
18This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw. Now, you, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, because none of the wise men of my kingdom are able to make the meaning known to me. But you are able, because a spirit of the holy gods is in you.

Daniel Explains Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

19Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was horrified for a moment, and his thoughts troubled him. The king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream and its meaning trouble you.”
Belteshazzar answered, “My Lord, if only the dream were about your enemies and its meaning about your foes!”

20The tree which you saw grew and became strong. Its height reached to heaven, and it was visible to the whole earth. 21Its leaves were beautiful, and its fruit was abundant. On it there was food for all. The wild animals lived under it, and the birds of the air lived in its branches.
22You are the tree, Your Majesty. For you have grown, and you have become great. Your greatness has increased and reached to heaven. Your dominion reaches to the ends of the earth. 23And you, Your Majesty, saw a watcher, who was a holy one, coming down from heaven, and he said, “Chop down the tree and destroy it. However, leave the stump with its roots in the ground, with an iron and bronze band around it. Let it be with the grass of the field. Let it be wet with the dew from the sky. Its place will be with the wild animals, until seven times pass over it.”
24This is the interpretation, Your Majesty:

It is a decree of the Most High that has come upon my lord, the king. 25You will be driven away from humans, and your dwelling will be with the wild animals. You will have to eat plants as bulls do, and you will be wet with the dew from the sky. Seven times will pass over you until you know that the Most High rules the kingdoms of men, and he gives them to whomever he wishes. 26Because they said to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will remain yours when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.
27Therefore, Your Majesty, let my advice be pleasing to you. Break away from your sins with righteousness and from your guilty deeds by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps your prosperity will be extended.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream Is Fulfilled

28All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29At the end of twelve months he was walking on top of the palace of his kingdom in Babylon. 30The king said, “Isn’t this the great Babylon that I built for a royal residence by my mighty power and my majestic glory?”
31While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice came down from heaven. It said, “It is announced to you, King Nebuchadnezzar: The kingdom has been taken away from you. 32You will be driven away from humans, and your dwelling will be with the wild animals. Grass will be fed to you as grass is fed to bulls, and seven times will pass over you until you know that the Most High rules the kingdoms of men, and he gives them to whomever he wishes.”
33Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar, and he was driven away from humans. So he ate grass as bulls do, and his body was wet with the dew from the sky until his hair grew long like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.

34At the end of the set time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me. So I blessed the Most High, and I praised and glorified the one who lives forever, because his dominion is an eternal dominion, and his kingdom lasts forever and ever. 35All of the inhabitants of the earth are considered to be nothing, and he does as he wishes with the army of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. So there is no one who can hold back the hand of the Most High and say to him, “What have you done?” 36At that time my reason returned to me, and my splendor and glory returned to me for the honor of my kingdom. So my advisors and nobles looked for me. I was reinstated over my kingdom, and I became even more majestic than I was before. 37Now, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and honor the King of Heaven, because all his works are true, and his ways are just. All those who walk in arrogance he is able to humble.

New Testament Reading: Revelation 21:1–8

The New Heaven and the New Earth

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, because the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. And the sea no longer existed. 2And I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3And from the throne I heard a loud voice that said, “Look! God’s dwelling is with people. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them, and he will be their God. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain, because the former things have passed away.”
5The one who was seated on the throne said to me, “Look, I am making everything new!” He also said, “Write, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6And he said to me:

It is done. 
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. 
To anyone who is thirsty, 
  I will give freely from the spring of the water of life. 
7The one who overcomes 
  will inherit these things. 
I will be his God, 
  and he will be my son. 
8But those who are cowardly, unbelieving, detestable, 
  murderers, adulterers, sorcerers, idolaters, and all the liars 
  will have their share in the lake burning with fire and sulfur, 
  which is the second death. 

Writing from a Church Father:

How, then, can water cleanse and renew our souls? Simple everyday water certainly cannot do this. But God has established a merciful institution: that when a sinner is baptized with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, so God Himself desires to be present there and through this, with His Word connected with the water, to wash the baptized’s soul of all his impurities, make him into a temple of the Holy Spirit, and call him His child and raise him up to be an heir of eternal life. A great and inexpressible wonder happens in Holy Baptism—that man born in sin is reborn to be a child of heaven. Baptismal water is, therefore, a saving, gracious, heavenly, divine water, full of the wonder of divine grace and compassion. St. Paul called it a washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit and said elsewhere: “As many of you as are baptized, you have put on Christ.” Yes, and St. Peter said: “Baptismal water saves us.”…

Oh, so do not let your Baptism be taken away! It is your greatest treasure! It is a ship that shall never be wrecked, which leads you into a heavenly harbor. It is quite true that the rebirth that happens at Baptism cannot be truly perceived with the senses. But what did Christ say? “Do not wonder at what I have said ‘You must be born anew.’ The wind blows….” That is, you see the water well, you hear its sound and you hear the Word that is spoken over the baptized one, but the inner working of grace, going in his soul on account of it, you cannot see.

               —C. F. W. Walther


Prayer of the Day:

Lord Jesus, Alpha and Omega, in Your suffering and death You were making all things new, and from that tree You brought Your work of redemption to an end by declaring, “It is finished.” Be our beginning and our end, that our weeping now at Your table here below may prepare us to feast at Your heavenly banquet, where You will wipe every tear from our eyes and death will be no more; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.