Advent Devotion

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
(LSB 357 st. 1)
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I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol; I shall redeem them from Death. O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.
(Hosea 13:14)

The enemy was fierce, relentless, powerful. The enemy was cunning, manipulative, deceitful. The enemy was so good at being evil that he used pawns to do his dirty work.
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Israel was once a free nation, captive to no one. But, as time went on, it slowly became slaves to foreign powers with foreign gods. First the northern ten tribes to Assyria; then the remainder to Babylon. Now, those had long since fallen, but Israel still wasn’t free. Now, they were enslaved to Rome. Yet Rome was not the ultimate enemy from which they needed rescue. Rome was merely a pawn.
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The great enemy of Israel, of all mankind, was Death; eternal death from which no one can be freed by their own works. Thus, Jesus Christ came to be Emmanuel, God with us, born as an infant in a manger, so that He may ransom us. But a ransom requires a payment. That payment was made with His holy precious blood shed for us on the cross. Through His death, whoever believes and is baptized is no longer a slave to death, but now has the promise of eternal life. And Christ is still Emmanuel. He still comes to us, through His Word, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. And on the last day, He will still be Emmanuel.
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Let us pray: O Emmanuel, our King and our Lord, the anointed for the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord our God. Amen.
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(Raymond Doubrava, Sem IV)