Readings for Sunday, Aug 9th, 2020

 

Introduction:

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 .

The reading:

 At Horeb, the mount of God, Elijah came to a cave, and spent the

night there.

 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."

Introduction:

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.

 

The reading:

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.