For Sunday, September 15, 2019
Numbers 21:4-9 • Exodus 32:7-14 • Psalm 51:1-10; 78:34-38 • Jeremiah 4:4-9
I Timothy 1:12-17 • John 3:13-17 • Luke 15:1-10 (C)
A People, A Prophet, and God
Exodus 32:7-14 – After the people had experienced God’s act of freeing them from slavery in Egypt, parting the sea, constantly providing, naming them his ‘treasured possession’ and instructing them to be ‘a priestly kingdom and holy nation’, and, after he gave the commandments which began with ‘You shall have no other gods before me’, the people turned from God to other gods. While Moses was on the mountain speaking with God, the people became impatient waiting for Moses and built an idol like they had in slavery. A heated debate between Moses and God, in response to the actions of the people, ensues.
Numbers 21:4-9 – Once again we see these same people failing to remember God. This account takes place after the people have proven they did not trust God enough to enter the Promised Land and are now wandering in the desert until the next generation is grown. Much like most of us, this group of humans are frequently unpleasant to be around – the become dissatisfied with Moses’ leadership and God’s provisions. They complain about Moses and God.
Hopelessness with Hope
Jeremiah 4:11-28 – We have been looking at the persistent refusal of the people (centuries after entry into the Promised Land) to turn back to God. Through the warnings of the prophet of Isaiah, and then Jeremiah, the people have refused to see and hear what God is communicating through these prophets. Instead, they have continued a false Godless religion while progressively turning to the untruths of the politicians, religious leaders, and false prophets who who say things much more pleasant to hear. Now, the time for cautions and warnings has come to an end. It is the end of opportunities, and God is not changing his mind, however, his proclamation of doom comes also with a promised hope.
And then there is Joy
Luke 15:1-10 – Jesus is surrounded by religious leaders who are complaining and grumbling about the company that Jesus keeps. They cannot grasp the fact that he is hanging around with ‘undesirables’. Jesus responds to their negativity by pointing them to the Joy of God which he desires for us to have in our lives.
Psalm 51:1-10 – Our responsive reading this Sunday focuses on the personal experience of Joy that takes place in our own life when we turn back to God. In this Psalm, written by David, we see his recognition of his sin and need for reconciliation with God. It is an experience of repentance, joy, and hope.