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Posts Tagged ‘prophets’

I know this is not Jeremiah, but the question from Nehemiah is certainly prophetic and in keeping with all the prophets–Pr. Schroeder

Biography:

The prophet Jeremiah was active as God’s prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah ca. 627 to 582 B.C. As a prophet he predicted, witnessed, and lived through the Babylonian siege and eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. In his preaching he often used symbols, such as an almond rod (Jer. 1:11-14), wine jars (13:12-14), and a potter at work (18:1-17). His entire prophetic ministry was a sermon, communicating through word and deed God’s anger toward his rebellious people. He suffered repeated rejection and persecution by his countrymen. As far as can be known, he died in Egypt, having been taken there forcibly. He is remembered and honored for fearlessly calling God’s people to repentance. (LCMS Commemoration Biographies)

Jeremiah 5:  When I fed them to the full,
    they committed adultery
    and trooped to the houses of whores.
They were well-fed, lusty stallions,
    each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
Shall I not punish them for these things?
declares the Lord;
    and shall I not avenge myself
    on a nation such as this?

Jeremiah 2:  Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
    be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Our nation, and many denominations, like Israel, have “hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water”, such as abortion on demand, adultery on demand, more concern for whore houses than the Lord’s house, marriage between same sexes as a “right”, trying hard not to keep and ignore God’s Law, denial of Christ’s Atonement. When God’s people forsake the Lord, then the Lord is appalled. The Lord is then the voice of wrath in an “age of wrath” (Abraham Heschel).

We are living in an age of wrath but the Lord has not given us new birth to be children of wrath! (see Ephesians 2:3 and following).   As it is written in James’ Epistle:  for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  If our anger did produce the righteousness of God, then the internet would be filled with the righteousness of God as would our political parties.What produces the righteousness of God?  James:    Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. The fruit of the Holy Spirit comes from the good seed of God’s Word, the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ who was planted into the earth and rose again, the vine to us so as His branches to bear much fruit.  The Word of God is pure doctrine, pure and good seed. 

 The Lord told Jeremiah when He called him:

 And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land.19 They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.”

In other words, the preaching would not be received, but he had to preach for the Lord wanted to save His people from themselves.  Jeremiah would on more than one occasion feel very much alone and sorry for himself to the point he was sad he was even born (Jeremiah 20:14).  “When you have the truth, you are a majority of one.”  I think that statement is correct, but like Jeremiah it can be a lonely way for us as well, as Christ’s Church, when the spirit of the age is so spiteful and hateful.  Yet, the Church is called to preach Christ for the life of this world dead in it’s sin. Even when the majority of a Supreme Court, or the electorate or a Church denomination vote against God and His Word, they can not change His Word.  Jeremiah was a majority of one and by the way, (like Elijah who felt mighty alone, they had others helping them) because finally and fully:

Jeremiah 1:

 “…for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Jeremiah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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At this time the Daily Lectionary Old Testament readings are from the prophet Jeremiah.  Yesterday’s lesson is Jeremiah 3: 6-4:2 in which we read:

The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore?

False gods were worshiped on “…every high hill and under every green tree”.  Before the building of Temple in Jerusalem, Israel and Judah had some hundred shrines.  After the Temple was built, these worship sites became infused with Canaanite idolatry, combining the worship of the one true God with false gods.  This is called “syncretism”.  Since Canaanite idolatry was a fertility cult for the male and female deities to unite and so ‘insure’ the fertility of the land for a good harvest;  and so there were cult prostitutes to unite with the heretical priest to manipulate the deities for their favor.  Israel could well have been both spiritually and physically playing the whore, though the distinction between physical and spiritual is not as distinct as we tend to think.

What is a whore?  A woman who sells her body to men for sex.  Israel had sold out to false gods and it sure seems it is usually for sex as idolatry leads ever to fornication.  The prophetic pattern against sin is always in this order: idolatry, then immorality.  False gods demand exorbitant fees, and as they are demons (see 1 Corinthians 10:20) , we sell our soul to them,  the faustian ‘bargain‘, and so lose our soul.  Israel was losing her soul as were the Christians in Corinth.  The devil’s best stratagem is not necessarily and initially direct appeals to the flesh but appeals to spirituality and the so-called refinements of sophisticated spirituality.   This is great cover up  which eventually leads to lusts of the flesh, e.g. divorce and remarriage, same-sex marriage,”hooking-up”, orgies and drugs, pornography. We have seen this with churches one by one falling like dominos. 

The Lord first warned about the high places.  Israel bought into a lie, but the one true God can not be bought. He is truth as He is love.  Here we can see the utter reality of the Lord:  He can not be bought or need we to sell our souls to Him!  The false gods always want us to sell out our bodies and souls like a whore for the price of our freedom in Christ. He found and saved Israel, not Israel by herself at all.  He bought them and brought them with cords of love, Hosea 11:

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim* to walk;
    I took them up by their arms,
    but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness,
    with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
    and I bent down to them and fed them.

 *Israel

And as the Lord spoke His Word through Jeremiah:

“‘Return, faithless Israel,
declares the Lord.
I will not look on you in anger,
    for I am merciful,
declares the Lord;
I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt,
    that you rebelled against the Lord your God
and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree,
    and that you have not obeyed my voice,
declares the Lord.

Return, faithless ChurchThe Book of Life_No Words.  

 

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 Amos 7:7-15 English Standard Version (ESV)

This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold, I am setting a plumb line
    in the midst of my people Israel;
    I will never again pass by them;
the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,
    and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,
    and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos has said, “‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
    and Israel must go into exile
    away from his land.’”12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”14 Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. 15 But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’

Comments

This is the time of the divided Kingdoms, the Southern Kingdom, Judah and the Northern Kingdom, Israel.  The Lord sent the prophets to preach His Word of judgment and promise.  Amos was a prophet in the northern Kingdom.  The Lord uses the image of a plumb line.  As seen in the photo above, a plumb line is a builder’s tool to determine a straight, vertical line in building such as a home, temple or government edifice.   He is quite clear:   Israel is not growing straight, according to the Word of God.

Israel is not plumb. Why? Answer:  Israel was more concerned about their  houses and mansions, in this time of material prosperity than the House of the Lord and His Word ,Amos 5:11 

Israel was worshiping the almighty dollar and caring not for the poor and spurning God’s Word.  The national shrine at Bethel was established by the first Jeroboam as a counter to the Temple established by the Lord Himself in Jerusalem.  Bethel was the very site that Jacob had his dream and he declared it “Beth-El”, House of God and it had become in the 8th century BC a kind of a mega-church.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:  How is the Church plumb or not plumb?  Our Nation?  Your life?

Amaziah, priest at Bethel, wanted Amos to go into exile.  First: Amaziah did not tell the truth in reporting Amos’ sermon as Amos did not say the king would die by the sword, but the Lord will be against “the house of Jeroboam”.  False news reports are nothing new, especially when it comes for the worldly to report the Word of God as preached and taught in the Church.  For instance, the Church is for life, so it is regularly reported the Church is against women, while actually being for life which means the Lord is for women and men and children, from conception to death.   Second:  Amaziah calls Bethel “the king’s sanctuary”, and he did not mean the King of Israel!  In other words, Bethel devolved into a nationalist shrine, utterly confusing nation and Temple (church).  The great political/religious struggle of our day is who will be the chaplains of the United States:  conservative or liberal Christianity.  Conservative Christianity once held sway but now it is liberal Christianity.  Conservative Christianity rightly supports morality but at the expense of the purpose of the Law:  to point us to Jesus Christ.  Liberal Christianity now supports  the immorality of abortion and false marriage and so can not point to Jesus Christ.  Both uncritically supports doctrines and practices contrary to Biblical faith. Both are essentially Christ-less, so God-less and make “Providence” bend to their political platforms.   We do not need them  support the Church!  

 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel:

“Seek me and live;
    but do not seek Bethel,
and do not enter into Gilgal
    or cross over to Beersheba;
for Gilgal shall surely go into exile,
    and Bethel shall come to nothing.”

Amos 5: 4-6

Neither did the Lord need Bethel!

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:  As Christ’s Church, what do we need from the government? Does government and culture ever tell us to flee, go somewhere else? If so, in what ways?  What does it mean for the Church to be “Bethel”, the House of God?

Amos was a humble man of God, as were all the prophets.  His call was so matter of fact sounding.  His job was a humble one as, “a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs”.  As he went about with his herds he also took care of sycamore figs.  The way to hasten their ripening is to pinch them or scrape them. Amos’ preaching of the Word of God certainly pinched many people and scraped their fine religious and spiritual sensibilities!  In their religion they were looking very much inward, but not out to the Lord and His Word and their poor neighbors.  

Questions for Reflection and DiscussionWhere does the Church need to be pinched and scraped in order to ripen?  You?  How does Christ’s Crucifixion ripen faith in us? How does Christ’s death and resurrection strengthen us for living and for the good fight of faith?

Let us pray…

O Lord, You granted Your prophets strength to resist the temptations of the devil and courage to proclaim repentance. Give us pure hearts and minds to follow Your Son faithfully even into suffering and death; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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Bio:  Isaiah son of Amoz is considered to be the greatest of the writing prophets and is quoted in the NewTestament more than any other Old Testament prophet. His name means “Yahweh *the Lord+ saves.” Isaiah prophesied to the people of Jerusalem and Judah from about 740 B.C. to 700 B.C. and was a contemporary of the prophets Amos, Hosea, and Micah. Isaiah was a fierce preacher of God’s Law,
condemning the sin of idolatry. He was also a comforting proclaimer of the Gospel, repeatedly emphasizing God’s grace and forgiveness. For this he is sometimes called the “Evangelist of the Old Testament.” No prophet more clearly prophesied about the coming Messiah and his saving kingdom. He foretold the Messiah’s miraculous birth (Is 7:14; 9:6), his endless reign (Is 2:1–5; 11:1–16), and his public ministry (Is 61:1–3), but most notably his “Suffering Servant” role and atoning death (52:13—53:12). The apostle John’s description of Isaiah, that Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory and spoke of him (John 12:41), is an apt summary of Isaiah’s prophetic ministry. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Isaiah 8:  11 For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.13 But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”

The following commentary is from Dr. R. Reed Lessing’s commentary on Isaiah when it was still in the works:

Vv. 11-15 – “With a strong hand” (cf. Ezek. 1:3; 3:14) the LORD warns Isaiah to see the situation from God’s perspective instead of that of man (cf. 5:20). Right thinking involves a fear of the LORD (v 13; cf. Prov. 1:7). Such faith finds safety, while rejection finds stumbling (vv 14-15). The function of the “stone” and “rock” are described in further detail in Isa. 28:16, Ps. 118:22; 1 Pet. 2:6. 

The Lord tells His prophet not to call a conspiracy what “this people” does nor fear what they fear.   We live in an age with so many conspiracies and conspiracy theories.  For instance:  after the 50th commemoration of the assassination of JFK, we were awash in those conspiracy theories once again…and the  conspiracies about global warming, creeping socialism, wars and rumors of wars.   Our conspiracies cause us fear and dread because we look at them from our supposedly  omnicompetent way of controlling them and we know we can not, though we deceive ourselves that we are so able. Instead in His Word we  look at them from the Lord’s perspective. The Lord’s guidance to Isaiah is not to fear them and this Word is also for us as Lutherans and Christians living in the United States.  Our only fear and dread is of the Lord! He has things in hand and His hand, His Word of Law shows us what will happen pursuing the dead ends of idolatries.  The Lord will be cause of many to fall and the good news:  many to rise on account of the Messiah whom Isaiah foretold.  

Isaiah was living in a time of rampant idolatry and wealth, sexual immorality and decadence and false prophets preaching “peace” and prosperity but it was not the Word of the Lord. “This people” are Isaiah’s own people. Luther commented that usually the Lord called Israel, “His people” but note here the Lord calls His people “this people” and that is the Lord’s Word of judgment. By their sin and self-righteousness they had cut themselves off from the Lord. The time of Israel  is very much alike to the time of the Church in 21st Century United States.We have many tele-preachers of ‘peace’ while greed and lust go unchecked.

 Isaiah and the prophets were set apart from their own people and yet by God’s Word, they were for their own people. Isaiah said the Lord’s strong hand was upon him as He spoke His Word.  The Church, if she is true to her Lord, will also be Isaiah:  set apart from this people because His strong hand, with the mark of the nails, is upon us as He speaks His Word.  The Word will be rejected  or accepted, but as Israel, “..they will know that a prophet has been among them” (Ezekiel 2: 5b). We are called not to pursue what the world pursues yet the Lord has called us to  serve this people.  We are called to honor the Lord as holy, certainly not ourselves as holy!  As He draws near in His final Advent, but even now He draws near to us in His Word and His Sacraments,  as the angels sang in front of Isaiah, the Church sings at the Holy Communion, and many will hear the song of the angels as Isaiah did and the shepherds because of our salvation in Jsus Christ:     

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

We pray…Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Isaiah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Isaiah, Mighty Seer, in Days of Old”
by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

1. Isaiah, mighty seer, in days of old
The Lord of all in Spirit did behold
High on a lofty throne, in splendor bright,
With flowing train that filled the Temple quite.
Above the throne were stately seraphim,
Six wings had they, these messengers of Him.
With twain they veiled their faces, as was meet,
With twain in reverent awe they hid their feet,
And with the other twain aloft they soared,
One to the other called and praised the Lord:
“Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth!
Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth!
Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth!
Behold, His glory filleth all the earth!”
The beams and lintels trembled at the cry,
And clouds of smoke enwrapped the throne on high.

Hymn 249
The Lutheran Hymnal

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I know this is not Jeremiah, but the question from Nehemiah is certainly prophetic and in keeping with all the prophets–Pr. Schroeder

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Jeremiah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Biography:

The prophet Jeremiah was active as God’s prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah ca. 627 to 582 B.C. As a prophet he predicted, witnessed, and lived through the Babylonian siege and eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. In his preaching he often used symbols, such as an almond rod (Jer. 1:11-14), wine jars (13:12-14), and a potter at work (18:1-17). His entire prophetic ministry was a sermon, communicating through word and deed God’s anger toward his rebellious people. He suffered repeated rejection and persecution by his countrymen. As far as can be known, he died in Egypt, having been taken there forcibly. He is remembered and honored for fearlessly calling God’s people to repentance. (LCMS Commemoration Biographies)

Jeremiah 5:  When I fed them to the full,
    they committed adultery
    and trooped to the houses of whores.
They were well-fed, lusty stallions,
    each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
Shall I not punish them for these things?
declares the Lord;
    and shall I not avenge myself
    on a nation such as this?

Jeremiah 2:  Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
    be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Our nation, and many denominations, like Israel, have “hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water”, such as abortion on demand, now marriage between same sexes as a “right”, trying hard not to keep and ignore God’s Law.  When God’s people, and I do not mean all Americans, but Jews and Christians forsake the Lord, then the Lord is appalled.  The Lord told Jeremiah when He called him:

 And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land.19 They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.”

In other words, the preaching would not be received, but he had to preach for the Lord wanted to save His people from themselves.  Jeremiah would on more than one occasion feel very much alone and sorry for himself to the point he was sad he was even born (Jeremiah 20:14).  “When you have the truth, you are a majority of one.”  I think that statement is correct, but like Jeremiah it can be a lonely way for us as well, as Christ’s Church, when the spirit of the age is so spiteful and hateful.  Yet, the Church is called to preach Christ for the life of this world dead in it’s sin. Even when the majority of a Supreme Court, or the electorate or a Church denomination vote against God and His Word, they can not change His Word.  Jeremiah was a majority of one (and by the way, he others helping him) because finally and fully:

Jeremiah 1:

 “…for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”

More on Jeremiah can be found here.

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Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, was a priest, called by God to be a prophet to the exiles during the Babylonian captivity (Ezekiel 1:3). In 597 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army brought the king of Judah and thousands of the best citizens of Jerusalem — including Ezekiel — to Babylon (2 Kings 24:8-16).

Ezekiel’s priestly background profoundly stamped his prophecy, as the holiness of God and the Temple figure prominently in his messages (for exampleEzekiel 9-10and 40-48). From 593 B.C. to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 586 B.C., Ezekiel prophesied the inevitability of divine judgment on Jerusalem, on the exiles in Babylon, and on seven nations that surrounded Israel (Ezekiel 1–32). Jerusalem would certainly fall and the exiles would not quickly return — the just consequences of their sins.

Especially in the early part of the book, much of what the Lord “said” to His people was delivered in the form of action prophecies. In these, Ezekiel acted out representations of coming events pertaining to the fall of Judah, the destruction of the temple, and the seeming end of the Davidic line of kings. These action prophecies included the eating of the scroll (3:1-2), being struck with dumbness (3:22-27), sketching of the city of Jerusalem (4:1-3), lying on one side and then the other (4:4-8), eating restricted rations cooked on a fire of dried dung (4:9-17), and shaving his hair and beard with a sword before dividing the hair (5:1-4). Some seem a bit strange at first glance, once we understand their meaning and context, their messages are quite easily comprehended.

Once word reached Ezekiel that Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, his message became one of comfort and hope. Through him God promised that his people would experience future restoration, renewal and revival in the coming Messianic kingdom (Ezekiel 33-48).

Much of the strange symbolism of Ezekiel’s prophecies was later employed inthe Revelation to Saint John. Among these are the visions of the four living creatures as seen inEzekiel 1 and Revelation 4. (The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? Ezekiel 18: 23

Ezekiel called a thing what it was.  He did not call sinfulness, “dysfunctional behavior”, he called it wickedness, as did his brother prophets.  The question of morality is not about psychology but spirituality. The only way the word wicked is said in our day is maybe,  “Oh, that was wicked”, that is, something that is actually good. Unlike Orwell’s 1984, we do not need a big brother state to enforce “newspeak”.  

The divinely inspired prophet leveled the Word of God at wickedness, but not only toward other nations, but primarily his own nation, Israel.  All the prophets primarily  preached.

Was Israel wicked?  Answer:  Yes.  

By what standard did the prophets know Israel was wicked?  Answer:  The Law of God.  

Was the Lord and His prophet’s goal to destroy Israel in it’s wickedness?  Answer:  No, but as we read above, the goal was repentance and life in His Name.

The Church in the United States is wicked and full of dead men’s bones.  Marriage between man and woman is denied.  Abortion is promoted.  Divorce is winked at.  The poor are extolled while we worship our unappeasable appetites.  Celebrity is likewise extolled and adored while saintliness is considered antiquated, in other words, Christians are practicing idolaters.  Good works as salvation via social activism is openly promoted while faith is assumed.  At church assemblies people know more about Robert’s Rules of Order, than the Lord’s rules, that is, the Law of God.  The newest fad of  ‘theology’ is read or lectured and the Bible is denied. Christians are more interested in updating their Facebook status than in improving their hearts and souls through the Word of God.  A comfortable Christ is preached but not the crucified Christ. We worship on our derrieres on padded pews and want our worship likewise padded, but not desiring the comfort of the Gospel for sinners.  As there really are no ‘sinners’, no one is wicked.  

I think it was unintentional prophecy when the Lutheran Book of Worship came out and the verses  from 1 John 1 was incorporated into public Confession and Absolution:

 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

The Church  in the United States has done a good job in making Christ a “liar”, in His so great a salvation, but it is obviously the churches which have been fooling themselves.  The churches are wicked. The Lord God sent His Son into our wickedness and it is His Cross that moves us to see what wickedness has wrought:  so great a Savior.  The following quote is from Spiritual Meditations by Pastor Johann Gerhard:

Jacob served fourteen years to win Rachel for his wife ; but Christ for nearly thirty years endured hunger, thirst, cold, poverty, ignominy, reproaches, bonds, the scourge, the vinegar and gall, and the awful death of the cross, that He might prepare for Himself and will as His bride the believing soul. Samson went down and sought a wife from among the Philistines, a people devoted to destruction (Judges xiv. 3), but the Son of God came down from heaven to choose His bride from among men condemned and devoted to eternal death. The whole race to which the bride belonged was hostile to the heavenly Father, but He reconciled it to His Father by His most bitter passion. The bride was polluted in her own blood (Ez. xvi. 22), and was cast out upon the face of the earth ; but He washed her in the water of baptism, and cleansed her in the most holy laver of regeneration (Eph. V. 26).

 Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Ezekiel, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

 

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The Prophet Elijah hiding in the cave

The prophet Elijah, whose name means “My God is Yahweh [the LORD],” prophesied in the Northern Kingdom of Israel primarily during the reign of Ahab (874-853 BC).

Ahab, under the influence of his pagan wife Jezebel, had encouraged the worship of Baal throughout his kingdom, even as Jezebel sought to get rid of the worship of Yahweh. Elijah was called by God to denounce this  idolatry and to call the people of Israel, to the worship of Yahweh as the only true God (as he did in 1 Kings 18:20-40). Elilia., was a rugged and imposing figure, living the wilderness and dressing in a garment of  camel’s hair and a leather belt (1 Kings 18:20-40).

He was a prophet mighty in word and deed. Many miracles were done through Elijah, including the raising of the dead (1 Kings 17.17-24) and the effecting of a long drought in Israel (1 Kings 17:1). At the end of his ministry, he was taken up into heaven while Elisha, his successor, looked on (2 Kings 2:11). Later, the prophet Malachi proclaimed that Elijah would return before the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6), a prophecy that was fulfilled in the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:14). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

The narrative of Elijah begins at 1 Kings 17: 1 and ends with Elijah’s assumption into heaven, II Kings 2: 12.  

It was tumultuous ministry because it was a tumultuous time.  The Kingdom of Israel, after the death of Solomon, was divided into two kingdoms in 922 BC: Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Judah (Southern Kingdom) by the Lord due to the sin of Solomon and his son.  Please note how many were idolaters,  adulterers and murders:

Kings of Israel (Northern Kingdom)

Sexual immorality and violence go hand-in-hand with idolatry because idolatry focuses everything upon the Old Adam and it’s lust to power.  “…all man’s Babylons strive but to impart/The grandeurs of his Babylonian heart” (Francis Thompson, +1907).  The Assyrian Empire conquered the Northern Kingdom in 722 BC.

 In the Northern Kingdom the Lord sent His prophets to proclaim His Word to a wayward Israel for 2 centuries.  Elijah was one of the greatest. The worse of the kings of the north was Ahab  with the power behind the throne,  his wife Jezebel, an idolater.  Elijah is introduced into the narrative without explanation and my guess is that his reputation preceded him.  In a confrontation  Elijah challenged the false prophets of Baal that Ahab had allowed into the Lord’s Temple at the behest of his pagan wife, Jezebel.  

17When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. 19Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” (1 Kings 18)

Elijah spoke the Truth to power and power did not like it. See John the Baptizer and King Herod Antipas. In our day, political and religious leaders have, “…abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals”, usually the Baals of their own fallen hearts.   In short, the LORD won through His chosen prophet and preacher of the Word against the false prophets.  But then Elijah hears that Jezebel wants to kill him, Elijah flees. Elijah  is overwhelmed.   He asks the Lord to take away his life (1 Kings 19:  4).  I think this is intra-Scriptural proof the utter historical veracity of the Bible:  a prophet is shown with all his faults as a fallen son of Adam. You can’t whitewash Old Adam, only the Lord can make him clean. Elijah hides himself in a cave.  The Lord knows where he is.  And after,  a great wind, an earthquake and fire, the Lord’s voice, His Word is heard in “a small still voice” (1 Kings 19: 12, KJV).  The next time we hear of Elijah is when he and Moses are speaking with the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration about His “departure”, in Luke’s Gospel, literally, His exodus: not to flee from slavery but to free all those in slavery (Luke 9:29-31).  All come to faith, not primarily by the powerful deeds of Jesus, His miracles,  but by the small still anguished voice from the Cross:  “It is finished”.  The King upon the Cross did what no earthly kingly would ever do or could ever do:  die for His subjects, bearing their sins. Indeed, 

22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1;  emphasis my own)

Prayer of the Day

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Elijah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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