Year A – Epiphany 8 – 2 Peter 1:16-21

Last Sunday after Epiphany
2 Peter 1:16-21:
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Summary – The apostle Peter here explains his experience with Christ on the mount of Transfiguration. Peter was there along with James and John and they saw Christ manifested in a glorious form, perhaps with the glory cloud of God ascending on the mountain. This experience recalled the very foundations of Israel with Moses on the mountain, that was quaking with God’s glory and presence. Peter emphasizes that he was an eyewitness to see this glory. This also included seeing Moses and Elijah in transfigured form, as well.

Insight – It’s very easy for people to look at someone else and judge them by their appearance. Have you ever had someone reject you or say hurtful words to you because they didn’t like the way you look? Have your actions ever been misunderstood by others? This happened to Jesus frequently. The leaders of Israel said, this is a mere carpenter’s son, this man is from Galilee, we know his mother and his brothers, no prophet comes from Nazareth. Etc. Not everyone was able to see Christ as he truly was. Even seeing his signs and miracles, people did not always see what they were supposed to see. But at the Transfiguration, as Peter testifies in this passage, there is a revealing of Jesus true nature. It was as though the inner reality of Christ’s glory which was covered by his human flesh, broke through and they could see more of his reality. To get access to that glory today we also must, by faith, gaze at Jesus and see him as he truly is. Now we do not have sight but we do have faith to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and reigns at God’s right hand.

Catechism – How did the apostles know about the glory of Jesus? They were eyewitnesses to see this on the mount of Transfiguration.

Discussion – How can we best game in glimpse of Christ’s glory today?

Prayer – Almighty God our heavenly father we come to you confessing that we believe Jesus Christ is your unique son who gave his life for us and was raised and now has ascended to your right hand. Grant that we who believe this may continually be reminded of his glory as we understand his word and as we remember that he is present with us by the power of his Holy Spirit in the lives of his disciples. We pray in Christ name. Amen.

Year A – Epiphany 8 – Exodus 24:12-18

Last Sunday after Epiphany
Exodus 24:12-18 – The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.’ So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said, ‘Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.’ Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and nights.

Summary – In this passage in Exodus, we read of Moses going to the mountain of God to receive the Ten Commandments in tablets of stone. Moses had already spoken these commandments to people (ch. 20) and explained their application (ch. 20ff). Moses is now called into God’s presence to receive the actual tablets of stone for the instruction of the Israelites (v12). It is in this context that God reveals His plans for the tabernacle (Ex. 25:9), the place for the Israelites to worship and draw near to Yahweh. As the last verse in this passage explains Moses was on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights.

Insight – This is one of those extraordinary events which form the foundation of Israelite life. Moses receives direct revelation from God about two primary pillars: the Law and the Tabernacle. This Sunday in the Church Year is sometimes referred to as Transfiguration Sunday, because the readings are about Christ’s transfiguration on the mountain (e.g., Note the Epistle, 2 Peter 1:16ff and Matthew 17). The connection is going to the top of the mountain meet God. As is indicated in the beginning of the passage, the tablets of God as well as the tabernacle of God were for the instruction of the Israelites. Both of these pointed to something beyond themselves. Ultimately they pointed to Christ the “end of the law for righteousness” (Rom. 10:4) and the true Tabernacle who has come among us (John 1:14). Another connection is the 40 day theme which is very fitting as we approach the lenten season, remembering Christ’s wilderness fasting and temptations.

Catechism – How long did Moses stay on the mountain with God? 40 days and 40 nights.

Discussion – What are some other 40 day periods in the Bible? Which one do you think is the most significant?

Prayer – Lord our God, we thank you for revealing to us your word in the law of God and your purpose for drawing near to us in the tabernacle. We thank you that now we worship in spirit and truth as we approach You through the blood of Jesus Christ our Savior. Grant that we may ever be faithful to obey your word and draw near in your presence, in Christ’s name, Amen.

Year A – Epiphany 7 – Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18

Leviticus 19:1–2, 9–18 – The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. 9 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God. 11 You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. 12 And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the LORD. 13 You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. 14 You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the LORD. 15 You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD. 17 You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Summary – Leviticus 19 begins with the call for Israel to be like Yahweh. Yahweh is holy and that holiness is manifest in kindness. God is kind and so you shall not take all the produce of your land for yourselves, but rather leave some to be gleaned by the poor and the non-Israelite in the Land. Even so, don’t steal or cheat or lie. God tells the truth and does not rob, but freely gives. God does not defraud us or hold back what is good. God cares for those with disabilities. He does not make fun of the deaf or blind. He does not slander us or hate His people. Love your neighbor as yourself because we are to be like God in His gracious and just character.

Insight – In light of the Exodus from Egypt, we can see that God treats His people graciously. Earlier in the book there is a rationale attached to the command to be like the Lord: “For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy” (11:45). Because God delivered His people we are to be holy. If we unpack this, it means because God has saved and provided for us, we should desire to obey Him. This is very consistent with the New Testament’s teaching that since we have been give salvation by grace, we should strive to walk in good works (e.g., Eph. 2:8-10). Even more, we should want to be like God’s gracious and just character since He is our Deliverer. Compare and contrast your SlaveMaster Egyptians with God: Your Masters in Egypt would not let you worship the true God (commandments 1-3); they made you work without rest (4th commandment); they stole authority (5th commandment); they killed and hated you (6th); they broke the sanctity of marriage and family (even killing your children) (7th); they stole your labor (8th); they did not speak the truth (9th); they coveted what was not their own (10th). So don’t be like your Masters in Egypt, be like the true and gracious God who saved you.

Discussion – What are ways that we act more like the slaving Egyptian masters than God?

Catechism – Why should we be kind? Because God our Savior is kind to us.

Prayer – O Lord our God, we praise you for your mercy and kindness to us in providing for our Deliverance from sin and death in Jesus Christ. Grant that we who see more and more your great mercies grow to be more and more like you, pleasing you by showing kindness and mercy to others. In Christ’s name we pray.

Year A – Epiphany 6 – Deuteronomy 30:15–20

Deuteronomy 30:15–20 – “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the LORD your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the LORD swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

Summary – Deuteronomy is so named as the Second Giving of the Law. Here as the blessings and curses of the covenant have been set out, the Lord exhorts the people to follow Him and be obedient. The result will be life and blessing. However, if they turn away from the Lord and commit idolatry, they will perish and not be able to stay in the promised land. God says, “Choose life so that you and your descendant may live, loving the Lord your God…” (v19-20).

Insight – Well we know how that story turned out. If you keep reading in the Old Testament you will see that after the period of Monarchy (with David and Solomon), things went down hill fast. The people and leaders of Israel worshiped other gods and finally were exiled from the Land, first taken out by Assyria and then Babylon, when the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed (586 B.C.). As we read this today, we may say, “why did they do this?” “Why didn’t they just worship the true God and choose that life?” We tend to think that we would have done much better. But we are now called upon to do the same thing. We must choose life and worship God alone and will received blessings as a result. Or we can just say we worship the Lord and live lives that are just as idolatrous but without the pagan pomp and circumstance. Our idolatries (just as theirs did) blend right into contemporary culture: materialism, pride, the love of leisure, sensuality, selfishness, security in anything other than Jesus . . . . Pleasure, Possessions, and Position. If we choose life, then our whole lives will be repenting and forsaking valuing the wrong things. St. Augustine said, “Idolatry is worshiping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that ought to be worshiped.”

Catechism – How did Israel fail? They worshiped false gods.

Discussion – What idol is most prevalent in the lives of Christians today? How can we overcome valuing that?

Prayer – Almighty God we acknowledge that You are the true God, revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and we approach You only through the redemption provided in Jesus our Lord. Grant that we see the idolatries in our own lives and completely forsake them. May we choose life, loving You our Lord. In the name of Christ our Lord. Amen.