O Adonai: December 18th, The “O Antiphons”

O Come, O Come, Thou Lord of Might

Moses On Mt Sinai
Beccafumi’s Moses on Mt. Sinai

The Hymn:

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Latin Text:

O Adonai, et dux domus Israel,
qui Moyse in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

English Translation:

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
Who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
And gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

 LSB “O Antiphons” under Hymn 357 and in Treasury of Daily Prayer p. 1029:

O Adonai and ruler of the house of
Israel, who appeared to Moses in
the burning bush and have him the
Law on | Sinai: *
Come with an outstretched arm and re- | deem us.

Adonai is the Hebrew word “Lord.” The word Adonai/Lord is used in place of the name of God in the reading of the text and in most English translations of the Bible. This antiphon is a confession that Jesus is the same Lord Who revealed Himself by name to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3). He is the same Lord who descended upon Mt. Sinai and declared the Ten Commandments in the hearing of all Israel (Exodus 19-20). He is the Angel of the Lord who protected Israel as a pillar of cloud and fire Who protected His people from enemies (Exodus 14), and guided them through the wilderness (Numbers 14:14), Who rested at the Holy Tabernacle. (Exodus 33)

The petition begs that the Son of God deliver us from bondage to sin under the Law just as speedily and mightily as He delivered Israel from Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15).

A Study for O Adonai

The parallel between the delivery of the Lord’s people from Egypt and the Lord’s people from slavery to Satan, Sin, and Death is drawn out explicitly in the pages of the Old Testament. This parallel begins with God giving the Promise of Salvation for all nations to Abraham and calling him to the promised land (Genesis 12:1-3). He showed Abraham the land that his children would inherit after bondage as slaves in Egypt (Genesis 15:12-16).  Only, Abraham had no children. His wife was barren. The Lord renewed His promise of a son and nations from Abraham, making the covenant of Circumcision. Through Abraham’s true bride, barren and old though she was, God demonstrated His authority to cause life where man knew it to be impossible. When that only son was old enough God taught the nature of His own love for fallen humanity by showing Abraham the cost of that love. What God asked Abraham to do in sacrificing his only-begotten son, whom he loved, God had already determined to do with His Only-begotten Son. Where God spared Abraham’s son with a substitute, God’s Son was not spared so He would be our substitute.

This background about the Promise and God’s physical demonstration of the Promise is necessary to understand. And it is necessary also to understand that it comes before the example God wrote in the history of the people with bondage to slavery  and His mighty deliverance from that slavery. Through these the Son of God prepared the people to receive the First Covenant so they could recognize their greater slavery to Satan, Sin, and Death. And that they could recognize that the Promise given to Abraham would mean deliverance from this second and greater slavery.

The Son of God revealed Himself to Moses as the Angel of the Lord in the Burning Bush, giving Moses His Holy Name, YHWH. Out of reverence for the name, the people said “Lord” Adonai.

Exodus 3

3 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”
4 So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”
And he said, “Here I am.”
5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” 6 Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
7 And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 8 So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. 9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
12 So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
13 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” 15 Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’

Exodus 19 and 20 record the arrival of the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai and the Lord’s declaration of the Law in the hearing of all the people. This same Lord and Law Giver would become the One to fulfill His Law on our behalf.  The people were terrified and asked for a Mediator. God renewed the Promise. The Mediator would be sent (Exodus 20:18-21; Deuteronomy 18:15-18).  Their doubt was written by the bodies of that generation upon the floor of the wilderness. But God did bring them to the Land where the Promise would be enacted (I Corinthians 10:1-11).

Now the pattern had been established. The Prophets kept the Promise and this pattern of the Exodus in their preaching so the people would not forget. So they would recognize when the Lord Himself would visit them with the fulfillment of the Promise.

The pattern is preached by Isaiah in chapter 63. The whole chapter is a sermon on this pattern of the promise, we highlight verses 11-12:

11 Then he remembered the days of old,
Moses and his people, saying:
“Where is He who brought them up out of the sea
With the shepherd of His flock?
Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them,
12 Who led them by the right hand of Moses,
With His glorious arm,
Dividing the water before them
To make for Himself an everlasting name,

Micah preaches the same pattern and Promise in chapter 6, emphasizing the reason for that pattern: that we might know and recognize the Lord’s righteousness when it is revealed.

3 “O My people, what have I done to you? And how have I wearied you? Testify against Me. 4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage; And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. 5 O My people, remember now What Balak king of Moab counseled, And what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, From Acacia Grove to Gilgal, That you may know the righteousness of the Lord.”

 The emphasis on the Lord as Lawgiver is also an emphasis on the Lord as the only righteous Judge.

Isaiah 11:4-5;

4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist.

Isaiah 33:22;

(For the Lord is our Judge,
The Lord is our Lawgiver,
The Lord is our King;
He will save us);

When the time had come for the Promise to be made manifest the teaching of Jesus demonstrates that He is the same Lord and Judge. John records His words in chapter 5:

24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

The testimony of Christ’s words in Matthew chapter 19:

28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

At His birth the angels proclaimed Jesus to be Adonai, the Lord:

10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2)

Stephen makes this parallel the center of his sermon, and for this he was martyred.

30 “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. 31 When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him. (Acts 7:30-31)

 The writer to the Hebrews draws out the purpose of the pattern and Promise explicitly in Christ.

18 For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. 20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”) 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

A Prayer:

O Lord Jesus Christ, as the Angel of the Lord You ruled and guarded God’s people of old;  You appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and showed Your presence as hallowing but not consuming, even more by preserving Your people through fiery trials; You gave the Law at Sinai in cloud and majesty and awe; You came to visit mankind oppressed and redeemed us from that oppression of sin by the victory of Your Passion:
Come, we pray You, now by Your grace, and with Your outstretched arm deliver us from the bondage of evil habits, from the crafts and assaults of Satan, from the tyranny of the world, and the perversity to which our own sinful flesh has fallen. By Your Holy Spirit grant us faith in Your substitutionary life, death, and resurrection in which we shall find our true freedom, Freedom from the condemnation of Your true Law and the gift of purity and love.


Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

Christ, by highest heaven adored.
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as Man with man to dwell;
Jesus, our Immanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!”

The Lutheran Hymnal
Hymn #94 
Text: Luke 2:14
Author: Charles Wesley, 1739, et al.
Composer: Felix Mendelssohn, 1840, ad.
Tune: “Mendelssohn”

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