Wednesday Bible Study
3The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
The voice of one crying: In the wilderness preach, etc. This is how we punctuate the text. Luke (3:4) joins in the wilderness with the preacher, John, working in the wilderness. The Jews to the Gentiles. The voice doesn’t come by sitting quietly and waiting for it. First, you can’t empty yourself of speculations. Second, because your flesh has not yet been killed. When you hear the Word the Lord will empty your soul and kill your flesh. It happens no other way. This is the power of the Word. And again note, the Word and the Holy Spirit work together and never separately. The beginning of spiritual knowledge begins with the voice of one crying/preaching as St. Paul says in Romans 10:14, “How are they to believe….without a preacher?”
4Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; 5The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 6The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. 8The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”
Flesh is the whole man. It includes reason at the top. In the military and politics and training children, reason can be helpful among us. But God doesn’t see it that way. Reason wars against God.
The Word of our God stands forever!
“The ungodly may say of their own word, which they regard as the word of God, that it will abide forever. But they think that the genuine Word of God, which they do not know, will not last one hour. Nevertheless, it stands against all their triumphs while its adversaries perish. Therefore this statement might well be formed in large words and engraved on the sleeves” (Martin Luther).
VDMA, standing for the Latin motto Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum. This symbol was inscribed on swords, cannons and armor used by the Smalcaldic League which was formed to be a mutual defense organization, against the Catholic princes trying to overthrow the Reformation in the various territories of Germany that had embraced it. This is the motto of the Lutheran Reformation. The motto is based on Isaiah 40:6-8 quoted by 1 Peter 1:24-25. It first appeared in the court of Frederick the Wise in 1522. He had it sewn onto the right sleeve of the court’s official clothing, which was worn by prince and servant alike. It was used by Frederick’s successors, his brother John the Steadfast, and his nephew John Frederick the Magnanimous. It became the official motto of the Smalcaldic League and was used on flags, banners, swords, and uniforms as a symbol of the unity of the Lutheran laity who struggled to defend their beliefs, communities, families and lives against those who were intent on destroying them. The Smalcaldic War lasted from July 10, 1546 to May 23, 1547 (Martin Luther died February 15, 1546).
Although the Imperial (Roman Catholic) forces were victorious over the Protestant forces of the Smalcald League, crushing the heretics for the Pope in Rome, the ideas of Martin Luther had spread over the Empire such that they could not be suppressed with physical force. However, on 15 May 1548 Charles V, feeling at the height of his power, dictated the Augsburg Interim to prepare the reintegration of the Protestants into the Catholic Church. The edict provoked another revolt by the Protestant princes in 1552, this time led by Elector Maurice of Saxony and backed by King Henry II of France. Charles V had to flee from the superior Lutheran forces and to cancel the Interim with the Peace of Passau (1552 & Augsburg Interim ended), whereby John Frederick I of Saxony and Philip I of Hesse were released. An official settlement acknowledging the Protestant religion arrived three years later in the form of the Peace of Augsburg. The next year Charles V voluntarily abdicated in favor of his brother Ferdinand I.
The Peace of Augsburg in 1555 settled the conflict by allowing the 224 German rulers to declare their territories either Roman or Lutheran. The people in the territorial minority were able to retain their land and practice their faith at certain times in public and always in their home. Calvinists were not included until the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 after the Thirty Years War.