Fifth Sunday after Epiphany 1857.
(No sermon was found for the 5th Sunday after Epiphany, for which reason this sermon was printed in place.)
"I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen."
Ezekiel 36: 29,30
God promises the children of Israel through the prophet Ezekiel that He wants to save them from all their uncleanness and then intends to give them better fruit from the earth so that the heathens could not reproach them because of famine. It sounds from these words, that when God punished the children of Israel with famine and hard times, then the heathens reproached them because of famine, although it is not written how they reproached, but It is to be surmised that they reproached as Solomon has written in the Book of Wisdom: The ungodly say, The Righteous boasts that He is the Son of God; Let God now deliver Him, for He has said, "I am the Son of God."
In that way the Jews mocked the Son of God, not because of famine, but because of that wretchedness in which Jesus was in on the cross. We do not know if the heathens mock the Christians now because of famine, since the heathens themselves are in the same condemnation, although some heathens say that it is because of the Christians that this punishment has come. But the Christians must take heed of what God says through the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel In the same chapter from which the words of today's text are taken. When, namely, God punished the children of Israel so that they had to leave their country, then the heathens mocked the children of Israel saying, "Are these the people of the Lord and are gone forth out of His land?" But the Lord took that mockery to Himself and said that the heathens mocked His holy name when they mocked the children of Israel. But the Lord said to the children of Israel, "I will save you for the sake of my holy name, which the House of Israel profaned among the heathen," Here we hear that the children of Israel profaned the name of the Lord among the heathens. The people of Israel should have been like a candle among the heathens, for Israel at that time carried the name of a Christian; they were then the people of God, but their life was such that the name of God was profaned among the heathens. Therefore the Lord rebukes the children of Israel through the mouth of the prophet and says (Ezekiel 36:21), "But I had pity (on namely the people of Israel) for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen." Although the house of Isreal had profaned His holy name among the heathens, the Lord, however, pitied them, "I do not this for your sake, but for my holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathens whither ye went." God's name becomes profaned among the heathens when they, who are called the people of God, live so that the pagans are able to mock and reproach, although the life of a Christian is not satisfactory to the pagans, but if the pagans, because of the weakness of the Christians get to confirm their false faith that the Christians are no better than the pagans, in this way especially the name of God is profaned. But the Lord has pitied them, not because of their own merit, but because of His holy name, so that the pagans would not be able to thoroughly mock God and say, "The people of God are no better than the pagans," And as the heathens then mocked the people of Isreal because of famine, the heathens of this time also mock the Christians because of poverty, although we know that poverty has come from that former vanity, when the Christians have been in sorrowlessness and lived as the slaves of the world live, some because of drunkenness, some because of finery, and some because of pride have become poor. Some have not yet wanted to part from their old finery, when they are able to carry the name of a Christian and finery. If, therefore, the Lord yet pities, He does not pity because of the Christian's own merit, but because of His holy name, that it would not become thoroughly mocked among the pagans; Let the pagans now carry their finery, but the Christians should no longer save their old finery; well knowing, that they have a better finery in store, which is not made of the excrement of worms, but of pure and incorruptible substance, which the sorrowless and unbelieving cannot take upon themselves. The pagans are not able to carry that finery which that great Heavenly King gives to those supper guests who strip off the black rags of self-righteousness and take upon themselves the wedding garment.
Thus says the Lord to the children of Israel: "I will save you from all your uncleanness and will call for the corn and will increase it and lay no famine upon you. I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. I do not this for your sake, says the Lord, but this you must know, but you must be greatly ashamed of your ways, ye House of Israel," We must hope that the Lord will say to the corn, that it must increase well, when we observe today in what condition God's field is into which before this time blessed seeds were planted. Is it the fault of the seed or is it the fault of the field, or the fault of the weather that God's field is not as beautiful as it has formerly been at this time of the year? Pray, all husbandmen and laborers in the Lord's vineyard, that the Lord would give more moisture from heaven, and would allow His gracious sun to shine so that the Lord of the seed would get some grains of wheat into His garner in the harvest time, when He comes soon to purge His floor, whose fan is in His hand. Pray, all husbandmen, that the Lord of the seed would for a short time preserve this piece of field from snow storm, frost, and tempests, that those few straws among the thorns would ripen and prosper before the winter frosts come. Hear, You great Lord of the seed, the prayer of the poor husbandmen. Our Father, etc.
Today's evening sermon text Is found written in Ezekiel 36:27 and the words are thus: "And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and ye shall keep my judgements and do them."
In accordance with our above-read text, we must, at this holy moment, consider: How God gives His spirit to those who receive it.
In the time of the prophet Ezekiel, the children of Israel were In captivity in Babylon and were very oppressed bodily, and as a person in distress remembers God better then than in prosperity, so some prisoners had begun to know their sins and also confessed with the mouth, "We with our fathers have been ungodly." Therefore, God gave some promises of grace beforehand through the prophet Ezekiel, that they would begin to believe better. God had already promised through many prophets that He wants to give His Holy Spirit, although this promise was fulfilled only 500 years later, when the gift of the Holy Ghost was poured upon the disciples, but all promises of grace are fulfilled on God's part if a person from his part could receive them. The children of Israel did not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after the Saviour's death, for they were so sorrowless, obstinate, and hardened, that they did not have such a sorrow which was after the mind of God. Although now, through the mouth of the prophet, God gave this kind of promises of grace, "I will put my spirit within you," those wretches were not in that condition that they could have received the Holy Spirit. Although the natural chastisement had come upon them, although the heathens mocked them because of famine and because they were refugees from their land, that spiritual sorrow did not come to them, which was after the mind of God, but only sorrow of the world which causes death. And now when sorrow of the world is offered to all, then all penitent and believing ones should take an example from the Scriptures, which shows how God has often had to oppress the sorrowless with natural chastisement. And those few souls, who have then on God's behalf cried out repentance to the people, have themselves suffered bodily want along with the rest. The prophets have also received their share of that, although they have not needed so much, and on very poor food they have lived, but the prophets have had a greater power to preach to the sorrowless people when there was famine and hard times. Now the Christians should take heed of how much has been wasted in foolishness in the time of sorrowlessness, and how little the good times have been appreciated. If we now had that which was formerly wasted in finery and foolishness of the world, we would have no distress, we can see even with the intellect that if all would have sought the kingdom of God and His righteousness already in their youth, then all would be saved which was wasted in the time of sorrowlessness. To this today's text now pertains, when God promises to give His Spirit, that they who receive it would live after the will of God. The Holy Spirit reminds of the former life and wants to tear the heart away from the world so that the sorrow of the world could not enter into the heart, instead that spiritual sorrow would come to all, through which the heart would better become free from the world. When the Christians have been unthankful for the good times, then the Spirit of God now wants to remind them of that unthankfulness and of using the gifts of God wrongly; this effect of the Holy Spirit also pertains to true Christianity. When the sorrow of the world also forces itself into the heart of a Christian, then nothing other than that promised Spirit of God can disperse that sorrow of the world; nothing other than that Spirit of God promised in the text can effect a greater concern over the soul's salvation than over supporting the body. Therefore, open up your hearts, all penitent and believing ones, so that the promised Spirit of God could enter into your hearts, which is able to disperse and quench the sorrow of the world, which will increase our faith, that we would be able to trust our body and soul into the care of God. We have seen that the Spirit of God enters the heart through the Word, when the Word of God becomes alive in a broken heart; but the Word of God is called a seed in the Bible, and this blessed seed is planted into God's field with that hope that it would begin to grow and to make fruit. And when God says to the corn that it must increase, we believe that the seed has life, which effects growth when it falls on the good ground. But good ground is not everywhere and poor seed does not sprout, for it has no life. When now God says to the corn that it must increase, we must believe that it will increase, when the Lord gives more moisture from heaven and allows His gracious sun to shine and protects this small field from snow storm, frost and tempest, so that the Lord of the seed would get some grains of wheat gathered into His garner before the whole field goes to waste. For the summer is short in the north country labor and the husbandmen can perform heavy labor before one small piece of field is prepared, and much fertilizer is needed, and often frost makes an end to the whole field before it becomes ready. Oh no, how little the Lord of the seed receives for His trouble here in the north country where from the best field four-fold harvest can hardly come, but in the land of Canaan from the best field a hundred-fold harvest has come, you few kernels of wheat, grow among the thorns, ripen, soon the time of harvest will come, soon the angel of death will come to cut the field, soon you will reach the garner, where the frost does not penetrate or the hailstones fall, as here in the growing season. When the Lord of the seed has gathered the kernels of wheat into His garner, then the chaff is burnt, but the wheat can be at peace in God's garner; and we must believe that the Lord of the seed will receive some, although few, kernels of wheat gathered into His garner, no matter how poor and base God's field now would be. Grow and ripen, you few kernels in the milk stage, amidst the thistles and thorns; soon the angel of death will come to cut the field, soon the wheat will be gathered into the garner, where the frost does not penetrate, nor the tempests ruin the field of God. Amen.