Readings for Sunday, Aug 9th, 2020
Our first reading is from 1 Kings 19:9-18. In today’s reading, in verse 9, God
has a momentous question for Elijah, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”.
Meaning why are you in a cave on Mt. Horeb? This question might be
interpreted in two ways; 1. why are you abandoning your people to flee to
Mt. Horeb or 2. Why are you following in the footsteps of Moses fleeing
from Pharaoh to Mt. Horeb. Maybe we are meant to think of both
interpretations simultaneously. In both cases God has demonstrated his power
to Moses and is about to demonstrate His power to Elijah and in both cases
God gave a new set of instructions to Moses and is about to give new instructions to
Elijah. Today's reading takes place in a time of tumultuous events in Israel. Elijah
has demonstrated the power of his God, the God of Israel and our God. Elijah has
also demonstrated the total lack of power of the Canannite god, the god of Jezebel.
Elijah has killed 400 prophets of the Canannite god. But, Jezebel has the power of
the king and is the fiercest opponent the Israelites ever faced in Scripture. Jezebel
goes on a tirade of killing the prophets of Yahweh and swears to kill Elijah. Elijah
panics, he temporarily loses his confidence that God will protect him. He
dismisses his servant and runs for the desert, where he gives up all hope and
prays to God to take his life. God quietly sends angels to feed Elijah and sends
him on his way to the mountain where Moses received his commission from
God. Today's reading starts at this point. At Horeb God demonstrates to Elijah
his total control over nature by using wind to split mountains and crushing rocks.
God speaks to Elijah out of silence and Elijah has a revelation that God is about
more than power. In addition to demonstrating overwhelming power, God can
determine future events. God uses Elijah to anoint new kings over Aram and
Israel and anoint Elisha as his successor. Together they will defeat the Canaanites
and a remnant of seven thousand will rebuild a great Israel .
At Horeb, the mount of God, Elijah came to a cave, and spent the
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "What are you doing here,
Elijah?" He answered, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts;
for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed
your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to
take it away."
He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is
about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting
mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in
the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;
and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a
sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle
and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him
that said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He answered, "I have been very
zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts: for the Israelites have forsaken your
covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I
alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away. Then the Lord said to
him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you
shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi
as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as
prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill;
and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave
seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth
that has not kissed him."
The 2nd reading is from Romans 10:5-15. Verses 16 & 17 are being added
to the reading. In our 2nd reading Paul contrasts two ways to obtain
righteousness with God. One way, taught by Moses, is fulfillment of the
demands of the law. The problem is that only one human achieved fulfillment
of the law, the human nature of Jesus. But Jesus didn't use his fulfillment of the
law to claim righteousness but on the cross said “not my will, but yours be done”.
Jesus was granted righteousness by belief and submission. At the point of the
extreme agony of Gethsemane and the cross, Jesus gave his ultimate teaching to
us. Our only way to righteousness and salvation is by belief and submission.
The way taught by Moses is too difficult for humans. The way taught by Jesus is
possible for all humans because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The way
taught by Moses requires heroic action on the part of a human and in effect earns
the right to righteousness with God. The way taught by Jesus requires submission
and belief and the grace freely available from God to all humans. In the last two
verses in our bulletin, Paul uses the words of Isaiah (52:7), thanking the messenger
bringing the words of permission to return to Jerusalem, where the Israelites can
practice their religion as God intended, listening for the word of God in order to
believe and submit. That requires someone to preach the word of God. Let us
thank Ron for bringing us the teachings of God every Sunday. What brought us
to this church is that Ron preaches the Bible and it is the words of Christ, relayed
by Ron, that gives us the faith to believe and submit.
I am Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the
law, that "the person who does these things will live by them." But the
righteousness that comes from faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will
ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) or 'Who will descend into
the abyss?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say?
"The word is near you on your lips and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith
that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and
believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For
one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth
and so is saved. The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to
shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is
Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, "Everyone who calls on
the name of the Lord shall be saved."
But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how
are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to
hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him
unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who
bring good news!" But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah
says, “Lord who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from
hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.