Peter rise, kill, eat Acts 11

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit, amen!

We don’t observe most of the Old Testament laws and ceremonies. Why? As Luther put it, most of these were a foreshadowing of Jesus. OK, so… We have Jesus, if you want to mix the fibers of your cloth for your clothes go ahead. Peter, Paul, especially have to deal with what Luke calls the “circumcision party”. “Party” sort of the sense we have Republicans/ Democrats today. The Pharisees were a “party”, the Sadducees. As Christianity grew, different factions arose, the “circumcision party” is referred to as Judaizers by Paul. They would say sure Jesus is Messiah, but in order to progress up to Jesus; “…those Judaic Christians who insisted that Gentiles could come into the new people of God only via Judaism, i.e. by submitting to circumcision and the law of Moses…”[1] That was not a big selling feature to become a Christian! Adult men aren’t going to flock to a group that insists they be circumcised first. According to Wikipedia “The tradition that 613 commandments (Hebrew: תרי”ג מצוות, taryag mitzvot, “613 mitzvot”) is the number of mitzvot in the Torah, began in the 3rd century CE, when Rabbi Simlai mentioned it in a sermon that is recorded in Talmud Makkot 23b.”[2] All of these rules  are summarized in Jesus. Christianity is not a legalistic religion. To be a good Christian you don’t have to accept all the Jewish laws, imagine having to know 613 “laws” in your life? One could then progress from Judaism and all of the traditional law to then the understanding of Jesus. We Christians observe the law given to Moses, in the form of the Ten Commandments. “Do we suffer a witch to live”? Exodus 22:18 Today we do. Laurie Cabot was the “Official Witch of Massachusetts”. It’s interesting to note the Cabot family is a very old blue blood family of Massachusetts who would have been around at the time of the Salem witch trials. In the “odd” world of the blue blood families of Massachusetts that go back to the Mayflower and the ones who settled Boston and Salem, the Cotton Mathers, needless to say having one of their own as the “official witch of Massachusetts”? We’re talking about the “birth” of the church. There isn’t a big book of doctrine, Book of Concord, to tell them what was true, studied, examined, worked out doctrine. It can certainly make sense; this is what we’ve been doing for 3,000 years, dietary laws probably more for protection no one knew about trichinae in pork or how shell fish can harm a person. God said we would be recognized as His by our circumcision, laws about witchcraft to protect from those who try to force their way using the occult, laws such as stoning rebellious children again to protect the group. We don’t seem to get today how a person can drag a whole group down because of their faulty behavior. Families torn apart regularly by a child or spouse who insists on their way What is there about the Church of Christ that makes it that way? Jesus, He did everything for us, we don’t need to go and make sacrifices of sheep, doves, we know how to prepare food so it won’t hurt us, and if there was some symbol of sacrifice in circumcision, Jesus is now all that is necessary. Caroline Anderson sums it up: “As Christians, we are able to enter God’s presence at any time… (Heb. 4:16) because we have been redeemed through Christ’s sacrifice (Heb. 10:1–10). Goats and calves were not sufficient, so “he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). Jesus’s sacrifice ushered in a system whereby we don’t gain God’s affections through our attempts at righteousness. Faith in the risen Christ is all we need for unfettered access to God, who permanently views us through the lens of his Son’s righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21Rom. 3:21–261 Cor. 1:30).”[3] The Judaizers can debate; “Jesus sure, but, God didn’t tell us to stop circumcision, we have to keep doing it.” We have “Christian” churches today that still, essentially, teach the same things. Seventh Day Adventists, in addition to moving back to Saturday worship as the Sabbath, also have strict dietary laws and some of the orthodox and African Christian churches require circumcision. But as Jesus Himself said in our Revelation reading: “Behold, I am making all things new.” The 3,000 year old laws no longer apply. Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected for the hope and promise of eternal resurrection. From the perspective of people who held beliefs that dated back 3,000 years, laws that were given to Moses their great law-maker, laws given to him by Yahweh Himself, they would not see any reason why any of these laws would all of a sudden no longer apply. Having said that, is there a sin that Jesus didn’t die for? If I eat a spiral ham or a lobster, does that condemn me, if I take a sheep to the temple to be sacrificed will that save me? No. Even if I wanted to sacrifice a sheep, there is no temple to go to, to sacrifice. “Behold, I am making all things new…” What Jesus did was profoundly new, perhaps no one realized it until people showed up wanting to be a part of the church. Many, actually most, were Gentile believers in Jesus, not Jewish believers. While Messianic Jews were the first Christ believers, who were basically running the Christian church, they were becoming a minority. Gentiles certainly understood what Jesus was teaching, and Jesus made it abundantly clear that His disciples: “ESV Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” All nations means everyone in the whole world. There were not many Jews, the church did become dominated by Gentile believers. The Gentile Christian church in Acts was based in Antioch in Syria, while the Jewish /Christian church was in Jerusalem. Jesus’ brother James was, effectively, the bishop of Jerusalem, while he initially scoffed at the idea of his “brother” being the Messiah, he rapidly came around after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. He, however, was a very faithful and observant Jew and did not see that Jesus changed anything. He led the circumcision party that criticized Peter in our reading for eating with Gentiles. John MacArthur writes: “The Jewish believes were outraged over such a blatant breach of Jewish custom. It was difficult for them to conceive that Jesus was equally Lord of Gentile believers.”[4] Ok, Jesus said for us to go to all the earth and make disciples, but He didn’t say we had to eat with them. 3,000 years of practices that said you don’t interact with non-Jews. Peter explains about what he saw in chapter 10 when the sheet with the animals came down to Peter. Pentecost was back in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit has arrived, they all know that they are guided by the Holy Spirit. Peter in Joppa, now is summoned by the Holy Spirit to go to Caesarea, which was in Israel, but was built and occupied by Romans. Peter had this vision that turns upside down the idea that they can’t eat certain things, now the Holy Spirit comes to him and says, to meet and eat with Gentiles, being faithful to the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19, the Holy Spirit says by the example of what Peter may eat, that the old laws don’t apply, Jesus has made the complete sacrifice for all things. He is called to Cornelius a Roman centurion, an important man who lives in Caesarea, “And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction.” That is, whoever Peter is guided to by the Holy Spirit, it is his responsibility to present the Gospel to them without getting tangled up in 600, man made laws, rules that are no longer valid because Jesus saves us, we are completely saved in Him and not by what have now become meaningless laws. Jesus has arrived, died was resurrected; “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” God loves the world, Jew and Gentile. Jesus died that the sins of the world are forgiven. All sins, but only for those who know Jesus is the Messiah, for those in His church who are baptized in the Triune God, become part of His church, eat His Body and drink His blood, hear His preached word. That was a difficult paradigm shift for people to accept, understandably, Yahweh told them one thing 3,000 years earlier. God the Son has now appeared, to be the redemption of the whole world, the sacrifice system was no longer necessary because Jesus is the ultimate complete sacrifice. Eating unclean food no longer applies because God the Holy Spirit tells us; “What God has made clean, do not call common.” God the Father has changed everything, changed it so that now it is all in Jesus and is complete in Him in this life and into the life of the everlasting resurrection.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

[1] Roehrs Franzmann Concordia Self Study Commentary  p 112 New Testament

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/613_commandments

 

[3] https://www.imb.org/2017/12/22/jesus-made-final-sacrifice/

[4] John MacArthur  The MacArthur Bible Commentary p 1456

So long as you do what you’re told there will be peace

I really appreciate this comment from Judy Wu Dominick writing in Christianity Today November 2018: “(Matt 10: 34-36) Initally it seems ironic that Jesus, whom we hail as the Prince of Peace, announces that he will disturb the peace. But I’ve learned that what he disturbs is an artificial peace, one achieved through conformity  and uniformity – foundational characteristics of the Tower of Babel (Gen 11: 1-4). Since it depends on establishing and maintaining sameness, this peace can’t offer a violent  and divided world healing or reconciliation, not even when it’s embraced by people who happen to identify as Christ followers.” ( p 55)

Even more to the point, the idea that Jesus was all about “peace” is fallacious. Sure He brings peace, but in  Matthew 10: 34-36 (ESV) Not Peace, but a Sword

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 

It’s certainly not that Jesus brings trouble, but because He is so counter the world, the world is going to fight back against Him. The world is certainly not going to submit to Jesus, Satan has nothing to gain by submitting to Jesus, the alternative is violent response.

However if we just submit as other beliefs require non-believers to do, you won’t be killed, there won’t be anymore violence. Sort of how the politically correct movement of today functions. Do what we want, accept what we proclaim and we won’t riot in the streets, such as has been happening in Portland, Or, for months now. We aren’t interested in discussion, we expect complete submission and there will be peace.

Satan has imposed an environment in the world, where everyone is mollified in their sin of choice, but hey at least there’s peace. The Neville Chamberlain, peace in our time, peace at any price mindsets. This is also the same idea as the opium dens of China. Just use whatever will sedate you, and let us self-appointed ones decide what needs to be done.

We are described as God’s treasured possession five times in the Old Testament: Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:2, 26:18, Malachi 3:17. God does not concede us to the evil of the world, the evil of Satan. He describes Himself as a “jealous God”, we are His and He is not going to relinquish us, especially to violence or the other tactics of evil. Jesus is only described as “Prince of Peace” in Isaiah 9:6. He certainly is “Prince of Peace”, but that is not defined as resignation, passivity, peace at any price. It means He is jealous for His own, and He will fight for us. That we who are His will also have to stand up to the hate, duplicity, evil and violence of the world. Often that means aggressively pushing back.

Christians don’t want “war”, but as we’ve seen repeatedly in world history, the world is replete with evil. The evil of the world has no compunction about violence. The secular humanism of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot Che Guevara, Castro, Islamo-Fascism has murdered millions and won’t stop until the world is subdued. We were never called to be passive, or allow ourselves to be lulled into a false peace that only surrenders to evil. That’s not peace, that’s disavowing Christ.

We are a kingdom and priests Revelation 1:6 Trinity Lutheran Church April 28, 2019

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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know that they are priests in the Royal Priesthood of believers said … AMEN!

I am not about the mystical issues surrounding the Book of Revelation, I had the opportunity to hear lectures from one of the foremost authorities on the Book of Revelation, Dr Brighton who was brilliant, fascinating to listen to, also tell stories about living in sub-zero temperatures in Saskatchewan where he grew up. Dr Brighton starts his commentary where Jesus started His revelation with the Greek word Apoka,luyij which means a revelation, a disclosure. What English word comes to mind? Apocalypse… Which has come to us to mean end times, what will happen in the end times. This is what Jesus is revealing to John in his vision of what John discloses to us of end times, what we call the apocalypse. Dr Brighton writes: “…the revelation comes from Jesus and it is a revelation about Jesus Christ. Through everything that Jesus Christ reveals, he reveals (that is, unveils) his exalted glory and dominion … the unveiling of Jesus Christ in his glory at the End…” God had always intended His people to be a chosen people, a Kingdom of priests. ESV Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” Israel has always been? …Jesus! The Church is the Body of Christ, that means that those in the Church, the Body of Christ are Israel and Jesus is making it clear in the reading His revelation is for His people, His priests and we are responsible for proclaiming Christ and His revelation.  In October, I preached on Jesus being the “Great High Priest”, Hebrews 4:15. If Jesus is our “Great High Priest” He must have junior “priests”. All in Jesus are “priests”, you and I equally priests before the Father. Jesus is our great High Priest, intercedes for His people, equally before God. We have people in authority over us in the church. We trust those people to “minister” to us according to church doctrine, and Christ’s Word in Scripture. In their vocation they are trained and ordained in order to properly serve Jesus’ church. We want people like that, we need people who are properly and sufficiently trained in Scripture and in the church to properly serve Christ’s people in His Church. There is a lot of nonsense out there by people who either don’t have a clue, really don’t care, have made it up to what they think makes people happy and hang a shingle saying they’re preachers. In York, I had a lot of people who were never around unless something serious happens, then there they are expecting I’m supposed to turn and burn for them. They knew I was well trained, that what I said was true Gospel, and when they needed authenticity they came to me. Otherwise, they preferred the church that told them what they wanted to hear, made them “happy” and convinced them everything was hunk-dory with Jesus. They had no intention at all to serve, certainly not as a priest, it was what they wanted, when they wanted it. One of the highest accolades I received was in my time in the York Police Dept as a chaplain. There were usually 9 serving as chaplains and we rotated duty, on 24 hour call. Both the police lieutenant and chief of chaplains said they had such confidence in me and my training and experience they would sometimes call me, even though I wasn’t on call, to come and minister. They knew I had the best training. I was called for a homicide on Good Friday, number of suicides, one involving a police officer in a town outside York, a number of overdose deaths. As a “minister”, qualified and responsible for teaching, preaching, administering the sacraments to serve you to the best in order for you, as priests, to grow in Christ and serve those around you as priests in Jesus.

The difference between a priest and minister a Roman priest, Greek Orthodox priest. You come to a priest, in confession, you tell the priest your issues. He takes those “issues”, raises them up to God on your behalf, asks God to forgive you in Jesus, God forgives you. He also tells you what “penance” you are to perform in to show true contrition, pay for your sin in some sense. This was one of Dr Luther’s major beefs with the Roman Church. Do I need someone to mediate for me before Jesus? No. We are all priests, we should all go before the Father for forgiveness. We are told, Matthew 5:24, before we go to the communion rail we should leave our gift, reconcile our issues, come back and offer your gift. We understand that to mean that you come before a minister, in confession and work out some of your sin issues. It is helpful to sit with someone be accountable to in Jesus. Either way, you’re the one, as a priest, who has to reconcile your issues before God the Father. I help you do that, as a doctor would help you deal with a physical issue, but in both cases, you have to do the consultation, “confession and absolution” in this case, and have to perform the treatments. All to your spiritual health as a “priest of Christ”, as being a part of the priesthood of believers. Dr Luther writes: “All this …proves that those who serve people with Word and the Sacraments may and must not be called priests. That they were called priest stems either from the custom of the heathen or was drawn from vestiges of the Jewish people and adopted to the great harm of the church. According to the evangelical writings, they should more correctly be called ministers, deacons, bishops and stewards…” I am an ordained minister and by virtue of that bishop of this church. We don’t normally refer to a pastor as “bishop”, we do have people in higher authority usually referred to as bishop. We are all priests, my priesthood consists of serving the congregation in a way that is to build you up, support you in Jesus. In your vocation you are called to be a “priest” to those around you. They won’t know you are, but the Holy Spirit will. Often you are the only Jesus people will ever see. How are you representing Jesus in your vocation, being His priest? Many people think that the pastor is supposed to be the “church evangelist”. American culture with its bizarre idea that people in the parish are there to take in, be entertained, maybe leave with one good thought of the day and bang, out into the real world. Based on my experience, ministry, done properly is as real as it gets. Second, my primary job, as Paul writes to the Ephesians, 4: 11-12 is to “equip the saints”, that would be you fellow saint and priest. Give you grounding and support to reach those around you, most I will never meet or know. Isn’t the Holy Spirit using you, in your vocation where you work, as Jesus’ priest to reach that person who might otherwise be lost?

We are a Royal Priesthood. In our life in Jesus, He serves us, saves us, mediates before the Father for us, constantly in prayer for us. Jesus is the One who will pull you across to complete the race, to be with Him in the eternal Resurrection, where we will live our life and life more abundant. In our life on earth, we are His junior priests and responsible for serving Him and others as His priests. Take some time this week, pull out a notebook, start a journal of your life in Jesus. How are you serving Him, His church and each other as His “priests” as a member of the Royal Priesthood of believers in Jesus?  ESV 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom  Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

David J Harris Jr Candace Marie Claiborne had a TOP SECRET security clearance and provided internal State Department documents to Chinese agents in exchange for gifts and benefits. She has now pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States by lying to law enforcement and background investigators, and by hiding her extensive contacts with, […]

via Hillary State Department Appointee Pleads Guilty to Spying for China — Socialism is not the Answer

Cheering to Jeering to Cheering Psalm 118

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all God’s people who give thanks to the Lord for He is good said … AMEN!

Christianity is a contrast, there is no doubt about the One and only God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in complete love, sacrificial, selfless agape love and desire to save, reaches down to humanity, provides everything we need in order to not just live in this world, but for us to also serve in the eternal world of the resurrection.

Here He is now!  Just as it is written in prophecy: “Rejoice greatly; O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.” These words written by Zechariah a prophet between 522 and 486 BC, Matthew and Luke both see what is happening as they accompany Jesus, riding into Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit nudges them both, “this is what Zechariah wrote would happen 500 years ago.” Matthew and Luke write it down as part of their Gospels. There is rejoicing, Jesus’ inner circle of disciples is parading proudly next to their Lord, the Lord of all who are there. There’s no doubt in their mind, with all this cheering that this is it! It’s going down now! They didn’t know how, but they’d seen Jesus do so much; calmed the storm, fed thousands, healed the ill, raised the dead. Driving out the Romans, putting the priests, the lawyers, the Pharisees in their place, replacing them in power, pish-posh child’s play for Jesus. He’s here to bring the Kingdom.

500 years before Zachariah, the unknown author of Psalm 118 writes: “Blessed is he who enters in the name of the Lord … The Lord is God and he has given us light …Bind the festal procession with branches.” Here He is, Jesus is He who is riding on the donkey. It’s seen as a gesture of humility. But understood at that time to be a sign of kingship. Versus the warhorse, the donkey was seen as Jesus proclaiming His Kingship, coming to claim His throne. There was not universal jubilation at Jesus’ entrance. Jesus’ disciples were proclaiming; “Blessed is the King who comes in the Name of the Lord” according to Dr Luke 19: 39. While Matthew heard; “And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest.” Matthew 21:9. In Luke’s account Pharisees scold Jesus; “Teacher rebuke your disciples.” Meaning, these people are saying you’re a king, that you are David’s son, to make you David’s heir as king. You have rode straight into Jerusalem on a donkey and we are all aware of what you are claiming. The only thing missing? There’s no army. The rag-tag group hailing Jesus and his posse beside Him are no army. They were all full of themselves, sure that by some supernatural means, the enemies of Jerusalem would be swept out. They would walk in, pick up the pieces, assume their rightful places under Jesus and let the new world begin that they would rule under their Lord Jesus. Before we start worship I like to say: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it…” Psalm 118: 24, this is where in the Bible. The day the unknown psalmist writes about is a joyous day, he proclaims; “O give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Are the Pharisees, priests, lawyers, Romans, going to just stand back and let Jesus take over? Noooo! Hey Jesus the Pharisee reprimands, knock it off, tell your followers to back off, coming into town on a donkey may be nice symbolism, but we’re the sheriff, not you. That’s not going to change. We talk a good game about God, and we’re obviously the blessed ones. There’s a Joel Osteen sense with the Pharisees that since they’re the pretty ones, with the money, power and influence, they’re not going anywhere, nothing’s going to change. Have things changed? Oh yes. On a more powerful level than any of these grasping hypocrites can begin to understand. Forces have been building, the old order is being moved out. It may not be realized, but God’s Kingdom is now on earth. The stone the builders have rejected, has become the cornerstone. God the Son our Lord Jesus ends this same week, being mercilessly beaten and brutalized, then nailed to a cross to die. But it is only a prelude. What is necessary in order for Jesus to return in victory, to overcome the tomb, defeat death and the Kingdom to be realized. We live in a world that has been overcome for us. We have won the victory because we are in Jesus, entirely His and through that relationship, victors.

Friday is going to be brutal and merciless. Any palm branches people have will use them to taunt Jesus with. They will spit on Him, mock Him, jeer Him, “crucify Him”, they will demand of their pagan ruler. Jesus is abused in His Body and His Spirit. He hangs on that cross enduring all of the punishment around Him, yet still prays to God the Father “forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”

This coming week is a series of wrenching, exhausting, at times demoralizing results. But when they are sure that their friend, their Lord, the One who they saw and served, will overcome all of the crushing events and produce the most monumental event in history. He will defeat death for us, overcome the grave. But doing so assures us of our resurrection and eternal life in the eternal, blessed, world of unlimited possibilities and excitement in Christ. Cheers, jeers, ultimately monumental cheers. We are the ones who win through Him who suffered.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin

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Such Great Things God has done for Us Psalm 126

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We begin in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all God’s children said AMEN!

Psalm 126 is another Psalm that is not by King David, probably another psalm that was written by the post-exilic, that is those who returned to Israel from Babylon after the Israelites were removed from Israel and brought to Babylon by King Nebuachadnezzar in 597 BC. They returned when King Cyrus of Persia authorized the return of the Jews to Israel in 538 BC, about 60 years that Israel was in exile. When they returned to Israel that is when the stories of Nehemiah who rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem and some of the infrastructure, Ezra re-established, the temple. Solomon’s Temple was destroyed. Many think the Babylonians took the ark of the covenant from the temple at that time and brought it to Babylon. The rebuilt temple was a poor successor to Solomon’s. It was rebuilt to a more impressive building under Herod the Great about 30 years before Jesus’ birth.

The people who were returning to Jerusalem had little or no idea what Jerusalem had looked like or looked like at their time. There was no Google maps, or Fox News reporting live from Jerusalem on the return of the Jewish people. When they returned to Jerusalem they dealt with trials, under foreign/alien captors. The Persians were tolerant and seemed to have no problem including the Jewish people. Many of whom were placed in high positions in the government. We know about Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Esther, her uncle/guardian Mordecai, Nehemiah. These are the ones mentioned in the Bible, surely there were others. Under Queen Esther the Jewish people were given some protections and self-government, but not permitted to go back to Israel. After 60 years most had no idea, about Israel, had established lives in Babylon, and no reason to return. They would have to leave livelihoods in Babylon, make a very long journey back to Israel, either take their possessions with them, sell them in Babylon and get new stuff in Israel, or what probably most did, do without. In addition to finding a way to make a living, get what they needed in order to ply their trade: bakers need ovens, pans; blacksmiths need furnaces, hammers, anvils; farmers need ploughs, livestock, other implements. It would not be easy to return and set up a whole new life. But it was an opportunity to return to the land God promised them. To reestablish the temple, their form of government and self-determination, the customs unique to Judaism. It was an opportunity to return to the life that God had assured them they would have if they were faithful. They would not be subject to alien/pagan customs they had been surrounded by. They knew these customs were not what God wanted for them. Israel’s God was much more familiar, favorable, supportive than the pagan “gods” of the time. Many like to criticize the vengeful/  wrathful God the Bible. Compared to pagan “gods” Yahweh, was warm, supportive, strengthening comforting, none of which these pagan gods were. I was talking to a woman who is Hindu, talking about the “goddess” Kahli. She told me all about her, then she said, “you just better not make her angry”. The pagan “gods” are vengeful and punishing. God, the actual/only God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, he can be angered, but He’s not vindictive, fickle, easy to anger. If God is angry it is out of pure love and righteousness. God is looking out for His own, He wants what is best for His children. That’s how you tell the real God apart from pagan Gods who are easily disturbed, solely out for themselves, not interested at all in you. Yet people believe in these fictional/hateful/selfish/ uncaring beings. They do exist, they are forms demons take on to subjugate those who are easily impressed, they are selfish, and always trying to intimidate. The true God, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses, the Father of God the Son Jesus, might intimidate, but only does so to get you to follow what is genuinely good for you. Not trying to grab anything He can, intimidate or frighten you. God the Father is not at all about frightening or intimidating. How many times is someone told “fear not” in the Bible? About 130 times. God the Father is not interested in trying to frighten or intimidate us, whereas there seems to be a lot of beings out there who are trying to frighten and intimidate and a lot of people believe that they are “gods”. They’re not! Not Allah, not Vishnu, Zoroaster, Karma, etc. None of those are interested in the growth, security, strength, and overall love we receive from Abba, Jesus tells us to be familiar with Him and call Him Daddy! Don’t try that with Allah! Other “gods” are mean, vengeful, easily defeated and not “gods”.

This was what the Jewish people were subjected to in Babylon, yet they knew the truth. Can you imagine being separated from Jesus? People like to make Jesus all warm and squishy, our enabling “god”. He’s not. He’s more than ready to set someone in their place. But He loves and protects us through the Holy Spirit.

From what the psalmist wrote we see Yahweh is like that: “Those who sow in tears…” Yet the psalmist quickly adds shall reap with shouts of joy. “Tertullian defends Christianity, demanding legal toleration and that Christians be treated as all other sects of the Roman Empire. It is in this treatise that one finds the phrase: “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” (Apologeticus, Chapter 50). [1] It is tough to be a martyr, but God has promised those who are martyr’s a crown, reward in heaven greatly exceeding the ordinary believers. A reward that is eternal and imperishable. We might think martyrdom is harsh, somehow punitive, but as we see in history up to today, the church all over the world has grown because of the blood of the martyrs dating back to St Stephen sometime around 60 AD. The church has grown exponentially and saved billions of people. In contrast to those beliefs, such as Israel was under in Babylon they always destroy themselves with their erroneous beliefs in what they believe to be a deity.

Our God sacrificed Himself for us, no other belief system promises eternal life to their believers because of the sacrifice of God. It’s only in Jesus, only what Yahweh did for the Jewish people to banish them to Babylon then restore them to Israel. Chastened, yet joyful. They knew God was teaching them to trust Him for their own good. The psalmist writes: “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad…” There is not a sense of being forced to say that. You can tell the heartfelt thankfulness, sincerity of Israel to be home in the land promised to Abraham for his people. Israel has been delivered: “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.” They have been freed, like their freedom from Egypt. They now return to the true God, the hope and promises of God. Not evil oppression, but the expectation of the Messiah who will come to give them, us, true life, life more abundant. Dr Luther writes: “At the end the psalmist concludes that it happens – and always happens – to the saints they first suffer before they can rejoice… the saints sow with tears to reap afterward with joy… But God loves His saints so much that He regards even their death (which is truly the most abominable, accursed seed of the world) as more precious than all of the world’s treasures and goods”[2] Israel is delivered from Babylon and celebrates and is joyful. When we are delivered from the evil and oppression of the world, the sin, decadence and persecution of the world. When we are in the presence of the Lord at our death and then resurrected to the New World, the world of perfection and endless possibilities, what will our joy be like? How hard will we laugh and praise we “shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Who in your life needs to hear those promises and given the hope that they too will one day leave the Babylon of this world and go into the true hope, joy, and celebration in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ who promises us “life and life more abundant…”

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apologeticus

 

[2] translated by Bruce Cameron “Reading the Psalms with Luther” CPH p 309