Reflections: February 6, 2021
Saturday of Septuagesima
By Jacob Ehrhard
Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? (From the Introit for Sexagesima)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Does God really need to sleep? Sure, He rested on the seventh day of creation, but the Sabbath was made for man, not for God. God doesn't need rest and recuperation. He doesn't need to sleep like we do.
Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal because their god didn't respond to their prayers. "Cry aloud, for he is a god," Elijah said. "Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened" (1 Kings 18:27).
In Psalm 44, it seems like the Sons of Korah run into the same problem as the prophets of Baal. "Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?" Elijah's mockery implied that Baal wasn't a true god. Perhaps the same is true of the God of Psalm 44.
But the psalmist's cry for God to wake up takes on another dimension when God becomes flesh. Jesus certainly falls asleep; He even fell asleep in a boat in the middle of a storm. But there's an even more profound significance to the psalm's appeal to the Lord to wake up.
Imagine for a moment, someone singing this psalm outside the tomb of Jesus. "Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?" Christ's sleep in the tomb followed the hard labor of bearing the world's sins on the Cross. If anyone deserves a Sabbath rest, it is Jesus at the end of His Holy Week.
But this cry for the Lord to awake must be paired with the final verse of Psalm 44: "Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!" Christ ends His sleep in the tomb by rising from the dead.
Jesus is the answer to Psalm 44. His resurrection is redemption, and redemption means that you also will one day awake from death. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Awake, O sleeper, rise from death, And Christ shall give you light; So learn His love, its length and breadth, Its fullness, depth, and height. ("Awake, O Sleeper, Rise from Death" LSB 697, st.1)
-Rev. Jacob Ehrhard is the pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church and School in Chicago, IL.
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