Year C – Fourth Sunday After Epiphany – Jeremiah 1:4-10

Jer.1:4-10 NRSV

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,

“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

Summary – Jeremiah prophesied from the time of King Josiah to the Babylonian Captivity in 586 BC. God chose Jeremiah to be a prophet to tell Judah that she was going into exile into Babylon because of her sins. Jeremiah did not think he could speak the powerful words of a prophet because he was still a young man. A prophet is a person who can destroy and create worlds with God’s Word. He plucks up and pulls down, destroys and overthrows, builds and plants kingdoms and nations (Jer. 1:9-10). That is a very big job to do. No wonder Jeremiah thought he could not do it. But God gave Jeremiah the words to say, and promised to be with him.

Insight – Telling people bad news is never fun. Doctors have to tell people bad news, they tell people that they are sick or even worse, dying. But doctors also tell people how to get better. Jeremiah was much like a doctor in this way. He told Judah that they were so sick from their sins that they were going to die in exile in Babylon. But since Jeremiah was a good doctor, he also gave them good news. God was going to bring Judah back to life, by returning them back to their land (Ezek. 37)! God was rebuilding His kingdom. Judah’s story is much like our own. Because of our sins our spirits were dead in sin (Eph.2:1). But Jesus is the great doctor who brings us back from the dead, and builds us into a beautiful kingdom that will one day fill the whole earth (Matt. 13:31-33).

Catechism – What is a prophet? A prophet is a person who can destroy and create worlds with God’s Word.

Discussion – How is Jesus the greatest prophet of all? What does Jesus use to build His kingdom? How can we be like the prophets?

Prayer – Almighty God, you created Heaven and Earth with your powerful word. Please grant to your Church the wisdom to build your Kingdom though out the earth by the power of your word, the Bible. In the Name of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, Amen.

Submitted by Michael Shover

Year A – Lent 2 – Genesis 12:1-4a

Second Sunday in Lent
Genesis 12:1-4a: Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Summary – Genesis chapter 12 is one of the most important passages in the Bible. It references the call to Abram to leave his father’s land and to go to the promised land. God had promised that he would make Abram great and would bless all the families of the earth through him. Through Abram God would restore to the world what was lost by Adam . The promise involved giving him land, a Seed, and blessing all nations through him. When this promise is fully unpacked by the new covenant era, the land is the whole world, see Romans 4:13, the seed is Christ the new Adam, and the blessing of all nations is the gospel great commission bringing salvation through Christ to the multiethnic Church in all the world.

Insight – The story of Abraham is the story of a man who heard God’s word and then believed. It was Abraham’s faith that made him unique. Abram, as he was called then, believed God and it was reckoned to him for righteousness. Abraham’s faith in God meant that he would also step out to go the land God showed him. In other words he not only believed that God’s word was true, but then put his feet into action. In the New Testament we discover the promise that God made to Abraham now is true of us. We are incorporated into the promises God made to Abraham. This is especially clear in Romans 4:16, “The promise will be guaranteed to all descendants, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham.” What this means for us is just like Abraham we may have a place in the world which God provides, wherever that may be, we are the rightful heirs of the world (Rom 4:13). It also means that like Abraham we may be fruitful and have a “seed” whether that is physical children or spiritual influence or both, and we may be a blessing to future generations through our faithfulness. To the extent that we accomplish these things it will mean that we ourselves have acted like Abraham. We embraced God’s word in faith and then took action.

Child catechism – What did Abraham do when God called him? Abraham believed God’s word and acted on it.

Discussion – Do you think that God can bless you with place, purpose, and influence? Or do you think those kinds of blessings are reserved only for the people that were in the Bible?

Prayer – Heavenly Father we thank you for the example of father Abraham. Grant that we may also have the grace to hear your voice and obey your word and then take action to accomplish what you call us to do. We pray in Jesus name, Amen.

Year C – Second Sunday in Lent – Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

Text – 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” 4 But the word of the LORD came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5 He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness 7 Then he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. 17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.

Summary – This account describes the LORD making his covenant with Abraham. In Genesis 12, the LORD had promised Abraham children and the land of Canaan. But here, years later, Abraham is still without an heir, except an adopted servant. Abraham had just won a great battle against King Chedolaomer, and here the Lord comes to him and tells him not to be afraid for the LORD is his shield, his protector. The LORD had given Abraham victory over King Chedolaomer, and He is faithful to fulfill all of what he has promised to Abraham. Abraham will have many offspring, like the stars of the heaven. Abraham and the LORD then made an official covenant (the Hebrew literally says they “cut” a covenant), by cutting the animals in half and laying them next to each other. Abraham then fell into a deep sleep, and a smoking pot, and torch passed through between the animal carcasses. And thus, the LORD made a covenant with Adam, promising him descendants and the land of Canaan.

Insight – One of the most important verses of the Bible is found in this chapter. Verse six, “And he believed the LORD, and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Abraham was about 100 years old, well beyond the age of being able to have children, and his body was “as good as dead,” as Paul tells us in Romans 4. However, despite what his body and the outside world was telling him, Abraham believed that the LORD is able to do far greater things than we can ask or even think. God is able to make life our of death. We know he did this with Abraham, as Abraham had a son, Isaac. We know that Jesus made life come out from death in his ministry on earth. We also know that this is true in our own lives. We are dead in our sins, yet God forgives us and gives us life. If we have faith in God, he allows us to stand forgiven and holds none of our sins against us. We should look to this powerful God, believe in his word, have faith in his son, and this too will be reckoned to us as righteousness.

Catechism – What did God credit to Abraham as righteousness? Abraham’s belief in God.

Discussion – What has God done in your past to show his faithfulness to you? How can this help increase your faith upon his promises today?

Prayer –

Almighty God, You are our protector and our shield. We know that we can rely on you. Help us to have faith in your word and in your promises. We thank you for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins. Help us to look to him in faith, and thus be counted righteous in your sight. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

– Contributed by Jared McNabb

Year B – Trinity 7 – 1 Samuel 17:32-49

1 Samuel 17:32-49:  David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. 36 Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!”

38 Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

41 The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.” 45 But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.” 48 When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. (NRSV)

 

Summary:  This familiar scene between David and Goliath has become an iconic showdown for all those underdogs pitted against an invincible foe.  But David is not the lone hero of this story (nor would he let himself be); Instead, it was for the Lord’s honor and His glory that David fought (vv45,46).  Probably the age of an older teen at the time, David was nevertheless behaving as the noble and true leader for God’s people—though it would still be years before he was publically recognized as the king.

 

Insight:  Can you image that your parents were once teenagers?  It may be hard to believe, but all of us adults were at one time in your, or in your older siblings, shoes.  Being a young adult is not quite like being an adult, but it certainly feels like you’re not kid anymore.  We’ve been there and so was David.  Despite his youth, he demonstrated a remarkable level of spiritual maturity and wisdom.  His youthful drive and focus was one of humble servanthood and properly placed zeal.  Something we adults, and future adults alike, do well to learn from.

 

Child Catechism:  Why would David fight Goliath?  Because he had defiled the armies of the living God.

Discussion:  Parents, what teenage challenges did you face and overcome with God’s help?  Children (and youth adults), what Goliath-size challenges are your facing in your youth?

 

Father we remember your steadfast love and devotion to your people

In all stages of our life, protector us and stand with us

Our battles are your battles

In the power of your Spirit and the name of the King, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

 

Contributed by M. West

Year B – Proper 6 – 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel. 16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.”a 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12 He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

 

Insight:  There will be many unforgettable moments in your life; usually these will be life-changing and defining moments that signal a new era, a new development, or a new found role in your life.  Image getting behind the wheel of that car for first time, alone with the road and radio; turning around together, as the pastor introduces you as husband and wife; or with yet another diploma in hand,  smiling as your family proudly gathers around.  This passage tells of one such defining moment in David’s and in Samuel’s lives.  This was also a turning pointing in Israel’s history.  Thereafter, David was seen as the exemplary human king;  and it would be his son who would lead them to victory and lasting peace.  Saul had not been such a good example.  He had been a disobedient king and now the Lord was to name this youngest of eight boys the future king of Israel.  While it is uncertain just how much David and his family understood at this moment.  This occasion was God’s way of setting David apart; and this young shepherd boy would grow to be a man after God’s own heart.

Catechism Question:  What did Samuel use to anoint David?  The horn of oil.

Discussion:  What have been some defining moments in your life?  What were David’s qualifications for becoming king?  What had been some of the reason why Saul was rejected as king?

Your hand is upon your people, O God,
to guide and protect them through the ages.
Keep in your service
those you have called and anointed,
that the powers of this world may not overwhelm us,
but that, secure in your love,
we may carry out your will
in the face of all adversity. Amen.

Contributed by M. West

Year B – Trinity Sunday – Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah 6:1-8:   In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”    (NRSV)

Summary:  Though we are always in the presence of God, we never get such a direct peek at the Almighty as Isaiah describes here.  He witnesses a vision of God’s holiness; one that we can only try to image; finding himself standing inside the throne room of the Lord (possibility while he was at the earthly temple).  Frightened and in awe, Isaiah cannot help but recognize his own impurity and imperfection before the pure the perfect King of the Universe.  Specifically, the prophet mentions the unclean lips of himself, and of his people (v5).

Insight:  It makes sense that the purity of a prophet’s words would be an important aspect to his ministry; but of all the sins that humanity has and can do, Isaiah speaks of his guilty for the things he and his people have said.  We can speak some awful and wicked things to one another.  Often times, we don’t even realize how much words can hurt.  We speak flippantly, without thinking and in ignorance; yet like everything else about our lives, our speech should also reflect the holiness and goodness of God.  We need to be speaking in truth and in love.  This means our mouths need restrain and discipline just as much as the rest of our mind and body.  And now, since Christ has purified his people, we may join that angelic chord which sings:  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Child Catechism:  In the presence of God, what did Isaiah recognize was wrong with him and his people?   That they had misspoken, and were a people of unclean lips.

Discussion:  What did Jesus say about careless words?   (Matt. 12:36-37)

Father, cleanse our hearts and minds with your Spirit, so that what we say and do would be true and pure, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Year B – Easter 3 – Acts 3:12-19

Text – 12 When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you. 17 “And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out

Summary – This story took place in some of the earliest time of the New Testament church. Peter and John, were going up to the temple for their time of prayer (vrs 3:1). There was a man who was not able to walk and could only get money by begging to those who went up into the temple. Peter healed the man, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and the man started jumping around and singing praises to God. Of course this called attention to Peter, who used this attention to preach, and this sermon is the text that was read today. Peter began by asking them why they were amazed at this small miracle, and why they thought that Peter had his own special powers. Peter then told them how God had glorified his Son, Jesus. He told those listening that they delivered him over to be killed, but that God had raised him from the dead. It was only in the name of the resurrected Jesus that the lame man was healed, not by Peter’s own power. Peter calls them to repent of their sins, believe in this Christ, and your sins will be blotted out.

Insight – Imagine that every time you went to church, there was a man in a wheelchair asking everyone for money. This happened every week for years, and maybe you even looked forward to giving him a quarter each week. Then one day you go to give him your quarter, and he is jumping around the church parking lot. What would you think happened? Would you assume the person that healed him had special powers? Peter preached this sermon to show that the power to heal the lame man came not from himself, but rather from Jesus, who he said is the Author of Life. Jesus is the one that gives life and life abundantly. And it was this same Jesus that a short while earlier, these people had put to death. But Jesus did not stay in the grave, and is now glorified and sitting at the right hand of the Father. It is faith in his name that healed the lame man. If we think about it we are all crippled. Without Christ we are dead in our sin. But if we repent of our sins, and believe on the name of Christ, then Christ will give us new life, and like this lame man, we will be filled with joy and praises to God.

Catechism – Did Peter heal by his own Power? – No but only by faith in Jesus Christ, the Author of Life.

Discussion – How does the fact that it was Jesus who ultimately healed the lame man give you comfort today? After Jesus ascended, did he leave us by ourselves? Does your joy of salvation ever make other people curious, and give you an opportunity to talk about Jesus?

Prayer – God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give you thanks that you provided a way to blot out our sins through the death of your Son, the Author of Life. Help us to turn from our sins, believe in the name of Jesus. Let our lives be filled with joy and praise, so that others will take notice, and join us in your kingdom. We ask this in the name of your Son, Amen.

contributed by Jared McNabb

Year B – Lent – 5 – Jeremiah 31:31-34

“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt–a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord.  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”

Summary – As we draw near to Passion Week, the lectionary texts become increasingly more focused on Christ’s death for our redemption and forgiveness.  This week’s selections do just that, and forgiveness of sins is the theme that runs through all four.  This passage from Jeremiah is the key to so much of the Bible, especially New Testament, as it falls in the context of the later and increasingly more evil kingdoms of Judah and Israel, especially during over-rule and some captivity by the Babylonians.  Jeremiah, seeing this bleak situation, prophetically looks to the future and to the coming of the Messiah who would initiate the New Covenant.  Of note, too, is the fact that this passage is fully quoted in Hebrews 8; the longest unbroken quote of the Old Testament in the New Testament.

Insight – I remember when I was 4 or 5 years old playing at a family reunion and one of my 2nd cousins told me he was eleven.  ELEVEN!  Wow, that seemed so old and grown up to me.  I had no idea what it would be like to be eleven, or if I would ever make it there, it seemed so far away.  Now of course, looking back, it is hard for me to imagine being less than eleven.  I’m sure most of you have had something like that–maybe a birthday you were looking forward to–where you knew it was coming, but had only a small picture of what it would be like.  For us, it seems so obvious and normal that Jesus has come to earth to die for us, but for those who lived before He came, it was not so.  They related to God partly through anticipation of His coming work, while we think more in terms of recollection of His past work.  Their covenant was founded on commandments carved into tablets while ours is written on our hearts; they had to learn to “Know the Lord” through sacrificing animals which gave them a picture of who Jesus would be while we know Christ because He has come and made Himself known to us, from the least to the greatest.  They anticipated the forgiveness He would bring; we now share in that actual forgiveness!

Child Catechism – How do you know God?  Because He sent Jesus to Earth for me.

 Discussion – What are some other ways the Old Covenant was different from the New Covenant we live in today?  What are some ways that they are the same or similar?

Prayer – Thank you Lord for remembering your promises.  You promised your people in the Old Testament that you would forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.  Now you have proven yourself truly faithful as you have fulfilled your promises in Christ.  In His Name we ask for faith to believe your promises as we remember your faithfulness to us.  Amen.

-JHerr

Year B – Lent 1 – Genesis 9:8-17

“Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.””

Summary – In Verse 8 & 9 God, speaking to Noah and his son’s states, “I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you.” God’s promise would extend beyond this generation. God also says He will never destroy man or animals again by a flood nor shall the earth cease to exist as a result of the flood. The “sign,” the rainbow, when seen on the face of the clouds is brought about by God and God says when He sees the sign He “will remember My [His] covenant that is between you and Me [God].” God says “I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between” [Himself] “and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

Insight – In God’s economy all legal agreements require a sign or a seal as a reminder of the terms of the covenant. The sign of the rainbow is comparable to the witness in later covenants. When God says in verse 13 “I have set my bow in the clouds,” this can mean to “give.” This common phenomenon of the rainbow became a pledge of peace. Its appearance when showers began to fall would be joyfully welcomed. The “bow” is the same word as the weapon that shoots arrows. Often rain and lightning are referred to in Hebrew as God’s arrows (Deut. 31:28; Psa. 18:14; Hab. 3:11). God’s bow now turned the other way (inverted as in the shape of a rainbow), perhaps shows His willingness to receive repentant sinners in the absence of His wrath and to also demonstrate His sovereign will, power and love to His elect. He does this ultimately through the the blood of the new covenant in the crucifixion & resurrection of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ which we receive through faith.

Child Catechism – What does a rainbow in the clouds remind us of? The rainbow in the clouds reminds that God will keep always His Covenant Promises.

Discussion – How does God keep His Covenant with us today for our eternal salvation? What is our part if any in order to keep God’s Covenant?

Prayer – Lord God and Heavenly Father, thank you God for Your promises that You have kept and will always keep as we trust You alone through Jesus alone through faith alone this day and every day. We praise You joyfully and ask that You give us the perseverance to press on even though the times in which we live may be difficult. We both thank You and praise You in Jesus name alone, Amen.

Contributed by Tom Miller, MA

Year B – Transfiguration Sunday – 2 Kings 2:1-12

“1Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”4Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”6Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. 7Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground. 9When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” 10He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” 11As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.”

Summary – Elijah, knowing that he was about to be taken up by God and prompted by the Holy Spirit goes on a journey. He is depicted here as wanting to go off to a quiet place and he is accompanied by his understudy Elisha. He does however ask Elisha if he realizes that his master is about to be taken up. Elisha acknowledges but makes it clear that his loyalty to Elijah will supersede Elijah’s request for him to stay behind and so they press on together passing through the region served. In addition, fifty other men “of the company of prophets” also follow but at a distance as though curious but still showing respect. Elijah when arriving to the Jordan in similar fashion as Moses by the Spirit parts the water and they cross together on dry ground. Elijah asks Elisha if he has a parting request from his master. Elisha’s request is for a “double share of your spirit.” Elijah assures him that if it is to come to fruition it will be of God not him and then states: “yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” They are then separated by the horses and Chariot of fire and Elijah departs to the heavens in a miraculous whirl wind. Elisha then rends his clothes as an expression outwardly of his grief and loss inwardly.

Insight – The miraculous event had been made known to the prophet Elijah. However, unknown to him, it had also been revealed to his disciples and to Elisha who in particular was determined to remain by his side until Elijah’s final departure. Gilgal was near Ebal and Gerizim; a school of the prophets was established there. At Beth-el there was also a school of the prophets, which Elijah had founded. In travelling to these places inspired by the Holy Spirit Elijah would pay a farewell to those institutions. They were also on the way to the place of his ascension. At the same time and from a feeling of humility and modesty Elijah was, wanting to be where there would be no eye-witnesses of his glorification. However, all his efforts to have Elisha remain behind were fruitless. Elisha knew that the time was at hand and at every place the sons of the prophets spoke to him of the approaching removal of his master. Their last stage on the journey was at the Jordan where they were followed by fifty scholars/students who sought to witness the miraculous translation of the prophet. The revelation of this striking event to so many was a necessary part of what would be visible historical proof of the continuation of promised supernatural events that would take place in the fulfillment of the covenant promises and a type of the resurrection of Christ the perfect and final fulfillment of God’s promise to His covenant people for their salvation eternal by grace alone through faith alone and as we hear and read by the Word alone.

Childs Catechism – What promises can we know and trust God for? We can know and trust God for all His promises.

Discussion – How did God translate or change Elijah? Why did God translate Elijah to depart this realm without seeing death?

Prayer – Dear Lord God and heavenly Father, thank you Lord for your Word which teaches; gives demonstration and proof of Your miraculous supernatural intervention in Your creation and our lives as we both retrospectively witness with trust and faith the fulfillment of your promised Messiah and the inward testimony we have today by the indwelling of Your Holy Spirits as we now through Christ are temples of You O God, and “the temple of God is Holy,” and that is what we are by grace alone through faith alone according to Your Word alone, O God, AMEN.

Contributed by Tom Miller, MA