Readings for Sunday, Aug 14, 2022

 

Introduction:

 

The First Reading is from Jeremiah 23:23-29.  Jeremiah was called to prophesy in 626 BCE.  This was a time of rapid change.  Assyria was the dominant power in the Middle East when Jeremiah began his mission as a prophet of God.  By 609 BCE Assyria had been defeated by Babylon.  The radical change in political power from Assyria to Babylon was mirrored locally.  Judah switched allegiance between Assyria, Babylon and Egypt and for a time Judah was independent.  Judah had good kings and bad kings and kings who remained in power for as little as three months.  There were a plethora of prophets who served many gods.  Jeremiah makes the distinction that prophets of other gods were dreamers but that the prophets of YAHWEH heard the word of God.   The followers of YAHWEH may have been a minority in Judah at that time.  Jeremiah had to start with the basics by making distinctions between YAHWEH and all these other gods.  Jeremiah preached that YAHWEH was not just a local god preached by some prophets, but was the universal God who governed in all of heaven and earth but could also find you anywhere.  Other translations make this clearer by inserting the word only in verse 23, “Am I only a God nearby?” and followed this up by a second question “and not a God far off?” meaning that YAHWEH was the universal God.  Jeremiah reminded the Israelites that YAHWEH was the God of their ancestors, and had fulfilled his promises to their ancestors.  At other times their ancestors had forgotten their God YAHWEH and had worshipped the false god Baal.  The people of Judah should be aware that YAHWEH was all powerful and knew what they did and thought.  Jeremiah preached that these other gods were like straw and had no value for the people: YAHWEH was like wheat and fed his people.

The Reading:

Am I a God near by, says the Lord, and not a God far off?  Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?  says the Lord.  Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord.  I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, "I have dreamed, I have dreamed!  How long?  Will the hearts of the prophets ever turn back—those who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart?  They plan to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, just as their ancestors forgot my name for Baal.  Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully.  What has straw in common with wheat? says the Lord.  Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?


 

 

Introduction:

 

The 2nd reading is from Hebrews 11:29-12:2.  Lutherans at the center of their relationship with God have faith that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Saviour.  Jesus Christ revealed the nature of the triune God when he said that “He and the Father were one.  The faith expressed by Lutherans today is the same faith expressed by “the people” following Moses through the Red Sea.  The nature of God has not changed from the time of Hebrews to today.  Their actions did not earn them a safe return to the promised land but their faith did.  God brought down the walls of Jericho after what to anyone who did not have faith in YAHWYH would have seen as a waste of energy, i.e. walking around the city walls for seven days. The walls came tumbling down not because Joshua was a clever leader but because Joshua led the people in faith that God was leading them.  Perhaps, the most unexpected example of the reward for faith is Rahab and her family.  They were saved not because she had the promise given to Abraham and his descendents.  She didn't have the promise because she was a Canaanite.  She was not saved because of her moral behavior, she was a prostitute.  Rahab was saved by her faith in the Israelite God.  Verses 32-34 lists a wide range of political and military adversities overcome by faith.  Verse 35 refers to the sons of two widows who God brought back to life.  As Lutherans we say the sons were resuscitated, not resurrected because the final death of the sons was delayed, not rescinded by God.  The two women were most likely Zarephath whose son was raised through Elijah, in 1 Kgs. 17:17-24 and the Shunammite women whose son Elisha raised in 2 Kgs 4:18-24.  Verses 39-40 tell us that all these people who had faith in God received commendation from God but not the fullness of his promise.  The fullness of God's promise will come at the second coming of Jesus, when all those who have lived their life in faith will be resurrected and join with Jesus as their Lord and Savior for eternity.

 

The Reading:

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned.  By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.  By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.

          And what more should I say?  For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fires, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.  Women received their dead by resurrection.  Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection.  Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

          Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.

          Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God

ve bnd in all.