Fourth Sunday in Advent (Adam and Eve)

11 For as high as the heavens
are a- | bove the earth,*
         so great is his steadfast love toward those who | fear him;

12 as far as the east is | from the west,*
         so far does he remove
         our transgres- | sions from us.

13 As a father shows compassion
to his | children,*
         so the LORD shows compassion
         to those who | fear him.

14 For he | knows our frame;*
         he remembers that | we are dust.

15 As for man, his days | are like grass;*
         he flourishes like a flower | of the field;

16 for the wind passes over it, and | it is gone,*
         and its place knows | it no more.

17 But the steadfast love of the LORD is from
everlasting to everlasting
on those who | fear him,*
         and his righteousness
         to children’s | children,

18 to those who keep his | covenant*
         and remember to do
         his com- | mandments.

    —Psalm 103:11–18

Additional Psalm: Psalm 19

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 40:1–17
Comfort for God’s People
1Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.

2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
         and cry to her

that her warfare is ended,
         that her iniquity is pardoned,

that she has received from the LORD’s hand
         double for all her sins.

3A voice cries:

“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
         make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4Every valley shall be lifted up,
         and every mountain and hill be made low;

the uneven ground shall become level,
         and the rough places a plain.

5And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
         and all flesh shall see it together,
         for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

The Word of God Stands Forever
6A voice says, “Cry!”
         And I said, “What shall I cry?”

All flesh is grass,
         and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.

7The grass withers, the flower fades
         when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
         surely the people are grass.

8The grass withers, the flower fades,
         but the word of our God will stand forever.

The Greatness of God
9Get you up to a high mountain,
         O Zion, herald of good news;

lift up your voice with strength,
         O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
         lift it up, fear not;

say to the cities of Judah,
         “Behold your God!”

10Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
         and his arm rules for him;

behold, his reward is with him,
         and his recompense before him.

11He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
         he will gather the lambs in his arms;

he will carry them in his bosom,
         and gently lead those that are with young.

12Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
         and marked off the heavens with a span,

enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
         and weighed the mountains in scales
         and the hills in a balance?

13Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD,
         or what man shows him his counsel?

14Whom did he consult,
         and who made him understand?

Who taught him the path of justice,
         and taught him knowledge,
         and showed him the way of understanding?

15Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
         and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
         behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.

16Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
         nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.

17All the nations are as nothing before him,
         they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

New Testament Reading:
Revelation 7:1–17
The 144,000 of Israel Sealed
1After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. 2Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, 3saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

512,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,

12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,

12,000 from the tribe of Gad,

612,000 from the tribe of Asher,

12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,

12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,

712,000 from the tribe of Simeon,

12,000 from the tribe of Levi,

12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,

812,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,

12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,

12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.

A Great Multitude from Every Nation
9After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
         and serve him day and night in his temple;
         and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.

16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
         the sun shall not strike them,
         nor any scorching heat.

17For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
         and he will guide them to springs of living water,

and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

In the midst of paradise stands the tree of life. From this, Adam [and Eve were] driven away so that [they] would not eat of it but instead would die according to God’s judgment on account of the sin [they] committed. But the cross of Christ is the noble tree of life on which hangs the noble fruits that bring us eternal life. “No forest produces such foliage, blossoms, sprouts.” Whoever consoles himself with the precious merit of Jesus Christ shall live, even though he die. “And whoever lives and believes in Him shall never die” (John 11:26). Because of their sins, Adam [and Eve and their] children were locked out of paradise, but through the key of the holy cross, it will be opened once again to all repentant Christians. Crux Christi clavis Paradisi, that is, “The cross of Christ is the key of paradise,” says John of Damascus. To this, the fathers of the Church relate the key of the house of David, which can open so that no one can shut [Isaiah 22:22]. Let all evil spirits be defied, who would like to lock heaven to us, which the Lord Jesus opened by His cross and death.

    —Valerius Herberger

Glory be to Him who loved us,

Washed us from each spot and stain;

Glory be to Him who bought us,

Made us kings with Him to reign!

   Glory, glory

To the Lamb that once was slain!

    —Glory Be to God the Father (LSB 506:2)

Prayer of the Day
Lord God, heavenly Father, You created Adam in your image and gave him Eve as his helpmate, and after their fall into sin, You promised them a Savior who would crush the devil’s might. By Your mercy, number us among those who have come out of the great tribulation with the seal of the living God on our foreheads and whose robes have been made white in the blood of the Lamb; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. (1131)

Adam and Eve
Adam was the first man, made in the image of God and given dominion over all the earth (Genesis 1:26). Eve was the first woman, formed from one of Adam’s ribs to be his companion and helper (Genesis 2:18–24). God placed them in the Garden of Eden to take care of creation as His representatives. But they forsook God’s Word and plunged the world into sin (Genesis 3:1–7). For this disobedience, God drove them from the garden. Eve would suffer pain in childbirth and would chafe at her subjection to Adam; Adam would toil amid thorns and thistles and return to the dust of the ground. Yet God promised that the woman’s Seed would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:8–24). Sin had entered God’s perfect creation and changed it until God would restore it again through Christ. Eve is the mother of the human race, while Adam is representative of all humanity and the fall, as the apostle Paul writes, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

The Great “O” Antiphon
O Root of Jesse, standing as an ensign before the peoples, before whom all kings are mute, to whom the nations will do | homage:*
         Come quickly to de- | liver us.

Suggested Reading from
the Book of Concord
Large Catechism I 158–166