by Dwayne Lueck
O Adonai and Ruler of the house of Israel, You appeared to Moses in the burning bush and on Mount Sinai gave him Your Law. Come and with outstretched arm redeem us! — Antiphon for December 18
“Here comes the boss!” When someone says that to you at work, they are basically warning you: You better make sure you are not goofing around because you want to be doing the right thing—working—when the boss arrives. In this Advent season, we, too, wish to be prepared for the coming our Lord at Christmas.
The start of the Antiphon for December 18 is O Adonai, the Hebrew word for Lord. The meaning of lord in our culture could be “boss” or “master,” one who has authority or is powerful. Here the Son of God, Jesus the Messiah, is seen as the Lord in the Old Testament who was the ultimate king and ruler over Israel, who visited Moses in the bush and gave him the Law later on Mount Sinai.
Dr. Paul Raabe, Hebrew professor at Concordia Seminary, St Louis, states: “We often think of God of the Old Testament Israel as the Father of Jesus Christ, and that is true. But it is also true that the God of Israel was the pre-incarnate Son. Jesus is the God of Israel in the flesh. He became man and came to His own people.”
It was He who appeared to Moses in the burning bush in Ex. 3:2: “The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.” Angel in the verse literally means “messenger.” This figure was the Messenger of God to Moses. But then verse 4 identifies Him as Yahweh Himself (LORD in caps is Yahweh in the original Hebrew), as God Himself.
“When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am’” (Ex. 32:4). As Dr. Raabe notes, “Thus this figure is God and also the Messenger of another who is God. In other words, he is the Second Person of the Trinity who reveals and speaks for the First Person of the Trinity.”
Keeping the Law
We prepare in Advent to celebrate the coming of our Lord and to worship Him, the one who saves us from our sins because we could not keep the Law. So what do we do now? What do we ask the Lord of our life, the boss of our life, to do? The O Adonai antiphon then prays: “Come and with outstretched arm redeem us!” That is common Old Testament language used for the deliverance that took place at the time of the exodus out of Egypt. For over 400 years, the children of Israel had been in bondage in Egypt under the oppression of the Pharaoh, and it was from there the Lord delivered His people.
And deliver them He did! He redeemed them, paying the price for their deliverance, bidding Moses to say to the Israelites at the Red Sea, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation (deliverance) of the Lord, which he will work for you today” (Ex. 14:3). God told Moses, “Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground” (14:16). Moses did it, and the rest is history. The Israelites walked through, were delivered from Pharaoh and his troops, and afterward heard Moses sing, “The Lord is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation” (15:2).
A down payment
That deliverance, that saving act, was a preview, a foretaste, a down payment, a type of the new and great redemption to come when the Lord in the flesh gave up His life on the cross in order to redeem His Israel and all the Gentiles as well, including you and me. So in our lives today, we pray that He will come to us through His Word and through His Supper to give us the benefits of His redemptive work. In this Advent season, we look forward to His Second Coming when He will deliver us from physical death.
Jesus is our Lord, the Lord of the Old Testament, who was made man to deliver us. Jesus Christ is Lord. God is Lord. There is no difference. The God who is Lord and revealed Himself as Lord in Old Testament times is the same God who has showed His hand in the New Testament times in the person of Jesus. This is why the angels proclaimed: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Indeed, “Here comes the boss!” May we prepare our hearts once again in this Advent season for the coming of our boss, our Lord.
The Rev. Dwayne M. Lueck is president of the LCMS North Wisconsin District.