Archive for January 16th, 2018

“Speak, now for your servant hears.”  

There was a TV ad not so longer ago for a wireless company with a gentleman walking about asking in various locales, “Can you hear me now?”  The wireless company boasted that wherever you are this company has the most complete coverage for cell phones. Can you hear me now, is an apt description of today’s Scripture lessons, for they are about the Lord and His Word…and when we do not hear His Word and when we hear His Word.  In the lessons:

  • Paul was hearing the Corinthian Christian’s comparing appetite for food as the moral equivalent of sexual appetite as justification for prostitution.

  • Israel was no longer hearing the Word of God and the Lord spoke to a young man in the Temple, Samuel, to bring the Word of the Lord to a wayward Israel.  Samuel’s name literally means, ”God hears”.

  • And Philip and Nathaniel heard the Lord’s call into the apostleship and the apostles would be those to first speak the Gospel of God into a dark world for many to hear and believe and be saved.

First:  the Lord is everywhere as the Scripture makes abundantly clear, in particular today’s Psalm (139):

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.

The Lord tells us this for our comfort.  He is Emmanuel, literally, God with us.  His one hand leads you with His Law and His right hand holds you with the forgiveness that comes from the Gospel.  His hands became flesh. 

Secondly, when we sin, the Lord’s sure promise that the Lord is everywhere can become terror and as Adam, we run away from His presence.  “We can run, but we can’t hide”, as Adam and Eve found out as they were found out. Hidden in our thoughts are rage, lust, envy…all the seven deadly sins.  They can become “words” and then deadly actions. We are not hiding anything from the Lord.  Looking at the Law of the Lord,  I can plainly see that I too am accused.  “…through the Law come recognition of sin”.    As the Lutheran Confessions teach clearly, “The Law always accuses”. The Lord accuses and there are no excuses, so that we may turn to him and pray and cry, Lord, have mercy on me a sinner”.

  “And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.”  Israel could not hear the Word nor see what the Lord was doing. Why?    The priest Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas: “…were worthless men. They did not know the Lord (1 Sam. 2)…they were taking the sacrifices of  meat in the Temple to fill their own bellies, more than what was allowed.  Also when, “…Eli was very old… he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting.”  They were too busy knowing women, outside of marriage, so these priests no longer knew the Lord and His Word of Law and Grace toward them and for them. This was open immorality against the Temple of the Lord and marriage.  Immorality against marriage, in the Church, was in Corinth.  The sayings had made their way in Corinth: “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”.  “I feel hungry, I eat.  I feel sexual desire, I engage in sex.”  Sexual appetite is the same as appetite for food, but there is a big difference between eating a tuna sandwich because I am hungry, and going to bed with a woman outside of marriage.  The two become one flesh:

Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 

Joined:  the basis of this word in classical Greek was,  “to glue, cement” and it is also translated in the King James in other places as “cleave”j.  ?  Several years ago, a fellow pastor told our circuit that for a confirmation class to describe  one flesh marriage that it is like two pieces of paper glued together.  He had the class do just that and after the glue dried, now separate the two sheets of paper.  The result?  A mess. Now take the torn sheet and glue them with another sheet and rip that apart, and we see the results in church and society.  I say this not to make us proud that we are not like THEM, but humble that the Lord has saved us in many a mess of lust in the heart and He answers prayer, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Marriage and the Lord’s Temple are one in Christ Jesus and both have been under severe attack in our day and time.  Our stance, our stand, in faith in the Lord is like Samuel’s:  Not so much “Listen, Lord, your servant is speaking!” but rather Speak, Lord, your servant is listening! We think we can dictate the terms of our salvation, by picking and choosing in Scripture what we want in a savior and the Lord hears the heresy and does not listen to it but instructs ever out of His Word the way we should go.  Indeed, as in Proverbs: 

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the heart. (Proverbs 21: 2)

Isn’t that the truth?  We think what we are doing is right until God’s law tells us otherwise as He weighs the heart.  We pray with the psalmist, “Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.” Ps.85: 8

Jesus said to Nathaniel that he would see heaven opened. The allusion in seeing heaven opened is the Patriarch Jacob’s dream on his way to Haran. The dream is commonly called Jacob’s ladder but what he saw in his dream was more like a temple and the Lord stood next to him on the road and the angels ascending and descending…but this is key: heaven opened.  Heaven opened when Jesus Christ was baptized and heaven opened when the Cross is lifted high, the mark of the true temple, of heaven come down in a Man, Jesus Christ for our forgiveness.  Truly, greater things will Nathaniel see:  the epiphany of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.  Clinging and holding to Jesus Christ in His Promised Presence in the Holy Spirit in Word and Sacrament is the reception in faith of His forgiveness.  The angels are messengers of God, bringing God’s Word to His people.  The Lord promised Nathaniel He would see the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.  He would see the many messengers of God’s Word proclaiming, teaching and living the Word of the Promises of God fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Our ears hearing the Gospel and faith clinging to the Savior in His love of mankind.  “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?”  Can you hear me now?

“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” Can you hear me now?  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.”  Can you hear me now?  “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven.” Can you hear me now? “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Can you hear me now?    “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Can you hear me now? 

 Flee from sexual immorality, we heard in the Epistle.  The same word is used at the end of the ‘love’ chapter, 1 Corinthians 13,  1 Corinthians 14: 1,  Pursue love  Run away from sin, and run ever after the love of God in Jesus Christ for us and our salvation.  The Law always accuses, to show us sin and point us ever to our Savior.   God’s Law does not only accuse: His Law instructs, informs and illumines our path of life in Christ Jesus so that we love the Lord’s paths, His way so that we may pray with Samuel, Speak, now for your servant hears. 


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