The Fifth Gospel

 You have heard of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John but how about the 5th Gospel? Join us as Fr. Michael discussed the call to sing for joy in what has been referred to as "The Fifth Gospel".


[Music] welcome back for the link we are going to be talking this morning about a the lectures titled rather a joyful song and we're gonna be hopefully going through a bit of a mini-series on a topic called the fifth gospel the fifth gospel now we've all heard of Matthew Mark Luke and John I'm not talking about one of the gnostic gospels I'm talking about something that many people refer to as a gospel it's one of the books in the Old Testament and it's referred to in that way because of some of its its its characteristics which we'll be talking about now I used to love Christmas music used to okay and we are in full swing and I don't mean to be a Grinch this morning but I used to used to really really love Christmas music when I was little that said many people know that I'm not thrilled about Christmas music much anymore and Mura was just asking me probably about a week ago why is it that I don't like Christmas music anymore and I finally like I finally was able to articulate the reason most of the Christmas songs that are out there are about flying reindeer a red man and a talking snowman and that just doesn't fit my view of Christmas the other reason is because Christmas unfortunately unfortunately has now begun to start at Halloween okay and that for me it's very uncomfortable I put a poll up on my Instagram and I and people who thought I was a Grinch and I said how many of you think that Christmas like it's okay to have Christmas music before Thanksgiving let alone Halloween and I personally think that it should be outlawed I think we need to pass a law I'm gonna start a movement we're gonna change this thing okay that's my hope this season for me though beyond any of these songs or anything like that this season for me it's a joyful time okay it's a time of joy it's time to give thanks and to just be so grateful for what it is that we are celebrating now we are going to start celebrating we're going to start this book that we're going to be reading through and it's really a book that is filled with a singular command and it's mentioned throughout the book and that command is sing for joy sing for joy okay now there are some of the really beautiful Christmas carols that tell us too that we should sing for joy I mean there's a whole song called joy to the world and it's all about joy and this whole season I think is one of the most joyous joyous times of the year now the book we're going to be looking at is one of the Old Testament prophets a prophet is a man with a spiritual calling that has supernatural orders strong courage because he's gonna have to speak certain things that are going to be challenged and uncomfortable for some people he is employed by God and he's empowered by God was a priest receives their calling in the Old Testament through ancestry a priest would be a priest because someone in his family was a priest okay and because he belonged to a specific tribe a prophet came by God's specific appointment okay so it's very different how this person would be called or have this ministry as a prophet would be very different than those as priests and the last thing is that this person this prophet would be God's spokesman to his people now the Old Testament prophets are divided into two main categories major prophets and minor prophets the major prophets there are five of them and the minor prophets there are 12 of them now the what makes something a major profit versus a minor prophet is not base the distinction is not based on the importance of the message it is rather based exclusively on the length of the book that's it that's where that distinction comes from okay all of the profits minor major all of them are equally important and each of them have a prophetic message from God a a word that they have spoken to reveal something about who exactly God is and what it is that he wants from his people now the book we're gonna be looking at is the Book of Isaiah okay let me give you a little bit of background about Isaiah Isaiah was written nearly 2700 years ago so about 700 years before the coming of Christ and his prophetic duty lasted for about 60 years from on the Year 740 to 680 BC some of his contemporaries just so you have an idea there were if you remember the kingdom after David shortly after David couple generations the kingdom becomes divided yes the northern kingdom is called Israel the southern kingdom is called Judah okay Isaiah is a prophet in the southern kingdom and that's going to be important we're going to see that in the first chapter of Isaiah well we'll start with okay but the northern kingdom there were three prophets who were his contemporaries at the time Hosea Amos and Jonah all three of them were minor prophets okay they all had an equally important message but they were his contemporaries at the chart time it's composed surrounding the Jewish exile experience in Babylon okay and we're going to look historically at what happens in just a few the word Isaiah just like every one of our names has a meaning the word Isaiah means Jehovah is salvation Jehovah is salvation and I think the reason this is important because this book speaks so much and allude so much to the coming of Christ it points to the fact that Jesus is Savior Jesus is Savior now Isaiah was not only a profits which is someone who speaks the will of God but he had he's oftentimes referred to as a seer s ier okay a seer is someone who foretells something that will happen in the future now not every prophet is also a seer sometimes people think prophet means always telling the future okay and I would say that prop that Isaiah was both a prophet and a seer and the main thing that he's pointing us to is the coming of Christ Isaiah he serves during for the reigns of four different kings and we find that in Isaiah chapter one verse one we start off here it says the vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz so we know as his dad's name which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem okay remember Judah is northern or southern southern capital of Judah is Jerusalem capital of Northern Kingdom Israel is Samaria good so he saw this vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of and these are the four kings of Judah of the southern kingdom that he lives through so he has a very very long period that he is prophesying and one of the things that we know is that his cousin is the first King on that list King Uzziah okay his cousin is King Uzziah now let me just give you a microcosm of the book okay the book is made up of 66 chapters 66 chapters and some people suggested that is it it's a microcosm of the scriptures okay the first 39 chapters of Isaiah speak of God's law and his judgments on those who violate the law the last 27 discussed God's grace and His plan for salvation okay now in the the the Hebrew book and the Hebrew Old Testament you'll find 39 books oftentimes collected which is what some of our Christian brothers in the West you that that specific group of books and that old 39 that like the Old Testament 39 books in the reason I'm distinguishing this because we have 46 okay we have 39 and the seven are the deuterocanonical books that you find in the Septuagint and the Greek translation of the Old Testament okay but the the Hebrew translation you'll find that the Old Testament is kind of this is a microcosm right you have the Old Testament here and the New Testament here God's grace and it's planned to bring salvation so you have this beautiful book of Isaiah that gives you kind of a snapshot of the entire story of salvation now Isaiah speaks so often of the Messiah that that is the reason why it is called often called the fifth gospel nearly one-fourth of all the Old Testament references in the New Testament as well as I believe there's 40 direct quotes and allusions like countless allusions in the New Testament that point to the book of Isaiah you'll find quotes direct quotes all throughout the New Testament and all of these many of these quotes are a quarter of the these Old Testament quotes are the new are coming from the book of Isaiah you you can see there was a a major significance in this book how people saw it and as well you can certainly see as a result of that that clearly people understood that Isaiah saw something and understood something that was distinct and that he had been given a specific revelation I mean God has given us this book not just to tell us of the coming of the Christ but as I mentioned it's one of the command that's given 13 times is the command sing for joy sing for joy you're gonna find that all throughout the Book of Isaiah and it's for that reason I believe this book was given so that it would increase our joy to be able to sing along about the coming of the Messiah especially in the season where we celebrate the ad and want to look at a few things that the Church Fathers have said concerning Isaiah John Chrysostom refers to Isaiah as the Prophet with the loudest voice he's the Prophet with the loudest voice not that he spoke the loudest not that his book was the biggest but specifically that he said some things that we should really listen to in other words his voice stands out when speaking about Christ more than any other voice in the Old Testament Jerome a Latin father who lived at the end of the fourth century he said the following he said he said he should be called an evangelist rather than a prophet because he describes all mysteries of Christ and the church he goes on and says he does this so clearly that you would think his composing a history of what has already happened rather than prophesying about what is yet to come okay and in the seventh century Syriac Bible manuscript in the introduction speaking about the book and about Isaiah the manuscript describes him as the most highly praised of the prophets this man clearly stands out in the minds of early Christian writers as to his place and what he had to say about the coming of the Messiah now let me give you a little bit of historical background a timeframe when we look at Isaiah now Isaiah lived his entire life in the shadow of the etherion threats in the year 734 BC you find this Assyrian Emperor till goth pillar Lasser till goth placer he drives his army into northern Israel okay but twelve years later his successor Shama Nasser comes down and sieges the capital of Israel which is called Samaria his son Sargon takes the inhabitants of Syria this is the first exile of captivity okay so he takes the inhabitants of Sumeria captive and just roughly 20 years later Sena sherab heads south into the southern kingdom into Judah surrounds Jerusalem sieges Jerusalem and takes its citizens captive and pillages the villages of Judah his mission Isiah living in the shadow of this going on his mission his mission is to speak to the children of Judah in the southern kingdom remember he's a prophet in the south north has already been captive when he starts writing this message and he says here in Isaiah chapter 1 verse 3 says the Ox knows its owner and the donkey it's masters crip the ox knows its owner and the donkey it's masters crip if you look at this icon and it's hard to see with the lighting but you see a donkey and you see an ox here okay this is an orthodox icon room this is really us like this is a prophetic message to us every time we look and we see the donkey me ox staring at Christ it is it's a message to us that be ox the Ox knows its owner the owner is Christ Christ has purchased us Christ owns us and the donkey it's masters crip the donkey its master script that this young babe named Jesus the eternal logos who has taken flesh he's the master he's not the king who is reigning in the way that we would think of bowing down but yet he is he is the master and it's for that reason the ox and the donkey they know where to look they know where to look and so Isaiah saying this and he's saying but Israel Israel that the Northern Kingdom does not know my people do not consider for nearly 40 years Isiah is seeing the Assyrian Empire getting closer and closer and closer his message is to warn the people of Judah before it's too late and just a couple verses later in verse 5 he asks the question why should you be stricken again why should you be stricken again you saw what happened you saw what happened you saw what happened to your brothers you saw what happened when you don't repent you saw what happened to the Northern Kingdom to Israel who didn't repent he says what will it take for you why should this happen once again throughout the entire book there's many messages that are going to be given we're going to be looking specifically at certain allusions this week ok and over the next couple of weeks what I'll probably be doing just in kind of short messages is giving out some of the prophecies that we find in the rest of the book we're going to be looking specifically at allusions for the first six chapters today and I mentioned to you at 66 chapters there's no way we can get through the entire book over the next several weeks one of the first messages that's given in Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18 is one of a command of to be cleansed and clothed with Christ in a sense and I'll explain how we get this in Isaiah chapter 118 it says though your sins are like scarlet they shall be white as snow though your sins are as scarlet they shall be white as snow and the New Testament we find this imagery that's given on the transfiguration on mount abort and it's in that pass and I want to read to you from mark chapter 9 verse 3 where it says his clothes became shining his clothes became shining exceedingly white like snow such as no longer longer on earth can whiten them so what happens here is for us to have our sins cleansed if you will to have our sins that are like scarlet to become white is to understand that Christ cleanses us from our sins and this happens by us also being clothed with Christ that he takes away the sin through his crucifixion but that we are to be clothed with him to put him on that we would also shine like snow and the reason we see that happening is because with with our Lord stands two people it wasn't just the Lord who shined white like snow it was also who are the other two people Elijah and Moses the law and the prophets in a sense okay and so we to understand that we are not just to be yes we come to be forgiven and this is essential but we are to come into communion with God by him being put on us that we become clothed by him this is the the message of salvation that we would be transformed by putting him on in chapter four verse four a few chapters later there's another illusion that we find here and it's this illusion of being cleansed by receiving the Holy Spirit in baptism in chapter 4 verse 4 it says the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning Jerome commenting on this passage he says John the Baptist spoke about this spirit of judgment and spirit of burning in the gospel when he said i baptize you with water but one who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire God provides the Holy Spirit by whom the filth is cleansed and the sins are purged in blood so we are to be clothed with Christ and the Holy Spirit Himself is to come upon us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness in chapter 2 verse 2 Isaiah says the following it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above all the hills and all nations shall flow to it who is this mountain who is this mountain that we find who is where is this central place that all people are coming to that Isaiah is speaking of st. Augustine describes it in the following way he says this central place they are all coming to is in fact Christ he is at the center because he is equally related to all anything placed in the center is common to all approach to the mountain climb up the mountain and you that climb it don't go back down he's telling us that Christ is the one at the center he's the one who we climb up and we find refuge in him and he's saying when you climb up don't ever go back down he is the place where you'll find rests he's the place where you'll find refuge and he goes on and he says there you will be protected Christ is your mountain of refuge and where is Christ he's at the right hand of the Father since he has ascended up into heaven he says that when we ascend up that mountain to Christ and we climb up and we find our refuge in him and Christ is seated at the right hand that were had what does that mean for us that though we may be living on earth that we are living heavenly lives that we experience the heavenly life the the heavenly victory because if Christ has ascended to heaven and we are to ascend up to Christ that means he lifts us up to heaven he tells us that we have to climb and you and I know that climbing is not an easy task okay climbing is not easy we get tired we get out of shape we don't take care of ourselves and then what happens is that makes it even more difficult to climb the mountain spiritually and physically okay and so we have we take care of ourselves spiritually so that we can ascend up and find our rest and our refuge in Christ just a couple verses later we find what happens to those who ascend up the mountain their lives become transformed in chapter 2 verse 4 it says they shall beat their swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks what happens what what what is a sword and a spear used for for killing for fighting and what are plowshares and pruning hooks used for cultivation fruitfulness what happens to those who ascend up they find the rest in Christ their lives become transformed they go from being these barbaric savage people who are always fighting and killing and hurting others to a people who are fruitful this is exactly as Tertullian explains that he says that is to say mines that once were fierce and cruel are changed by the gospel and the word of the Apostles in good dispositions they produce good fruits and this is what happens when we ascend up when we climb up when we labor to be to reach up and be with Christ as he invites us to be it in the mountain to find rest in him is that he transforms our life he guides us up he leads us up he empowers us to go up and once we get there he transforms us in chapter 4 verse 1 Isaiah says the following says and in that day seven women shall take hold of one man saying want you to imagine this for a second seven women come they crowd around this man and they take hold of and he said we will eat our own food and wear our own apparel let us only be called by her name take away our approach take away our approach okay what is this okay this Christ the bridegroom he's surrounded by the seven churches he's surrounded by all of us and we come clean to and say Lord there's nothing more precious than your name there's nothing more than we want than your name your name we'll just just grant us to have your name because it's that name that's a glorious name it's that name that's a holy name Victoria knows a third century Christian father he said the seven women are the seven churches who receive his bread and are clothed with his apparel this is an allusion to the book of Revelation they asked that their approach be taken away and that they are called only by his name the bread is the holy spirit who nourishes eternal life and whose fate and who those who have faith the garments that they long to wear are the glory of immortality he's saying we just we become clothed with Christ we put him on that's the glory of immortality we become as we were supposed to become and when we do so our lives become fruitful and all we say to him Lord is we're grateful to have your name we are grateful that you offer yourself to us the bread of life and we thank you that you call us by your very name the name of Christ to be called a Christian is one of the greatest honors because we carry the name of our bridegroom culturally in many countries in the West when a man and a woman get married the woman takes the name of her husband I know in some countries in the East that doesn't happen which makes this all the more meaningful and powerful that every one of us male and female we take the name of our true bridegroom the bridegroom of our soul Jesus Christ and we cry out them say we want your name I want to be called by your name and I want my life to be fruitful in such a way that others would look at me and say that one must belong to Jesus he belongs to Christ she belongs to Christ what happens and when Isaiah when Isaiah sees God in Chapter six this is one of the most beautiful powerful images in the entire book I believe it is a really beautiful image it's been painted sculptures just beautiful beautiful images that have been depicted throughout history by Christian artists in Isaiah chapter 6 we find the following it says in the year that King Uzziah died remember who's King Uzziah his cousin right so in the year that his cousin King Uzziah died he said I saw the Lord sitting on the throne high and lifted up and the Train of his robe filled with the temple and above it stood Seraphim each one had six wings with two he covered his face and with two he covered his feet and with two he flew so this is the image that he sees in the year that his cousin dies and in verse three one cried to another and said holy holy holy is the Lord of hosts the whole earth is full of his glory and this is a hymn that that we use constantly and often in the Orthodox Church we use this actually in every single liturgy we say that the cherubim and the Seraphim may cry out to one another and they cover their faces and they find they they can't even look and they cry out holy holy holy is the Lord of Hosts we don't make up these hymns we draw them from the angelic hosts and the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out and the house was filled with smoke so I said woe is me he sees himself in light of God and says woe is me for I am undone I'm a man of unclean lips he says everything I've ever said spoke and done anything it's not worth anything not with anything and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips for my eyes have seen the king the Lord of Hosts he sees God in His Holiness and he sees himself and he realizes how little he is in comparison this was not isaiah having a moment where he was falling into depression where he was like seeing himself as like he's worthless no he understood who he was but he also understood who he was in light of God's kingship so he sees himself and what happens what does God do god sends one of his Seraphim to do something says then one of the Seraphim flew to me having in his hand a live coal in which he had taken with the tongs from the altar and he touched my mouth with it and said Behold this has touched your lips your iniquity is taken away and your sin purged st. John of Damascus describes this beautiful image st. John of Damascus is a Syrian father from I believe the 7th century 7th 8th century and he says the Phung he says with eyes lips and face faces Church toward it turned towards it rather let us receive the divine and burning coal what is that divine and burning coal that comes from the altar that is picked up and that is brought to your lips it's the Eucharist it's the body from blood of our Lord it's that divine and burning coal so that the fire of the coal may be added to the desire within us he's saying that when we receive Christ himself inside of us may it stir up the burning of love that we have in our hearts for God and for one another made and light in our hearts so that by this communion with the divine fire we be set afire and deified that we become like God that our hearts become enlightened that our lives become transformed completely Isaiah saw a live coal in this coal was not plain wood but wood joined with fire thus also the bread of communion is not plain bread but bread joined with the Godhead and so God offers himself to us in such a way that it transforms us that he saves us that he sets our hearts aflame in the sunday fields ok we have our midnight praises it's one of the the prayers we pray every Saturday night it's actually prayed each night of the the week but in the Saturday night which is called the Sunday fields okiya there's one of the parts it's part six says the following ok he says he takes this image of this burning and live coal and says the phone he says you are the sensor made of pure gold hey this is kind of we're having a conversation with Saint Mary about who about Jesus about the logos about the Incarnate Word about God himself in the flesh you are the sensor made of pure gold carrying the blessed and life cold that blessed and life cold is described in the following says it is taken from the altar or remember this image from Isaiah this image of this coal that's taken from the altar and that's brought to purge the sins and take away the iniquities which is God the word who was incarnate from you and offered himself as incense to God his father so what we do here in the field take this beautiful image found in Isaiah we have a conversation with the censor about Jesus Christ himself and we're saying your son has come and has saved us and he offered himself up as a sacrifice to the Father it is a praise that we sing to Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word himself Isaiah's response he sees this the tongs come touch his lips what does he do he has moved so much that he says to God send me send me the voice of the Lord I also heard the voice of Lord saying to me whom shall I send and who will go for us then I said here am I send me he is moved with so much love for God and so much love for his countrymen he's saying send me to speak to them send me to share with them what I've seen send me because my brethren are about to perish the assyrian army death itself is coming to enslave us he said send me please that I might help them to see his lips are cleansed and then he's appointed to be the Lord's spokesperson this morning I want to ask you as we talked about the beauty of this book the Incarnate Word Jesus Christ has come to us and he offers himself to us and what I want us to think about pray about as we leave here is what does that look like when he enters into my life in a real true meaningful way and when I unite myself to him in the Eucharist and when I worship Him the Holy Trinity and when I open the scriptures and I read these holy words and how these words might penetrate into our hearts and bring us to a place where we say God send me I'm surrounded I'm surrounded by those who are about to be enslaved or who are being enslaved by the Assyrian army I've already seen it happen to others or please send me to those who are in need please you work in my life that I might be illuminated them I might be deified that I might be transformed that I might become like you so that when you send me I would be fruitful transform my life so that rather than being someone who's fighting all the time who's cruel I might become a fruitful person that I might become like your son Jesus Christ that when others encounter me they might encounter Christ himself all right we are going to now transition and we're gonna probably get together for one discussion group okay and we've got a couple of discussion questions that we'll discuss we'll get through as many of them as we can in the next 15 minutes all right so these are the discussion questions for today number one is what does it mean for us to say to Jesus only let us be called by your name only let us be called by your name in Isaiah chapter four we saw these seven women say just let us be called by your name what does it mean for us to say Lord I just want to be called by your name nothing else no other name number two God tells us to sing for joy 13 times in Isaiah how does knowing Jesus a saviour increase our joy and number three what would it take for you to raise your hand and say to God here am i or here I am send me okay let's Circle up if we could [Music]