November 30, 2007

Ex 15:1-18 / Mt 27-28 / Alpha and Omega

I grew up in a congregation where we occasionally sang the song “Faith of Our Fathers”, with lyrics something like these. The song is not as explicit as it could be, but the point is still there that we should pray for and be proud of having the same faith as our parents, grandparents, and all our ancestors, provided their and our faith is the one true faith. Those singing Exodus 15:1-18 , the seasonal canticle for November, are happy to have the same God as their ancestors (see, for example, v.2). These days it’s all the rage to say “This isn’t your grandfather’s church” (just Google the expression, and you’ll see that the statement isn’t unique to the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod). But, the old maxim that the way you worship relates to the way you believe means that if you change the church you likely will change what you believe about God. If our grandparents were a part of the true church by virtue of the Holy Spirit gathering them around the purely preached Gospel and the rightly administered Sacraments, why would we want to give up that church? (You can find my previous comments on today’s seasonal canticle here.)

“The Great Commission” window by David J. Hetland for First Lutheran ChurchThe average lay person who has been told all his or her life that the so-called “Great Commission” of Matthew 28:16-20 applies to everyone is quite surprised to be told both that the commission does not apply to everyone and that it does not even charge the apostles and their successors to “Go”. That commissioning of the Office of the Ministry is just one of the events we read about today in Matthew 27-28, and you can find my overview on the whole reading here and some discussion about the early church’s understanding of the directions regarding making disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 here. (The image with this post is “The Great Commission” window by David J. Hetland for First Lutheran Church [I don’t know where]; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it; you can also read about the window here.) Why do lay people object to the apostles’ commission’s not applying to them? Perhaps because we all like to think that salvation somehow depends on us. Our fallen natures, which continue to cling to us, would rather have the law than the Gospel, which is the real emphasis of the passage. The Lord, Whose Presence with His people to bless them with the forgiveness of sins is emphasized at the beginning of St. Matthew’s Gospel account, at its end promises to be with them always, and so He is!

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Matthew 27:57-66 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for Holy Saturday (the Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday). Five hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Matthew 27-28.

The Bible reveals God to us as Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, as indicated by the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. A circle is sometimes used to depict the Godhead, in one sense because God Himself has no beginning or end. Similarly, our year of daily Bible reading that comes to an end today should not be the end but lead us to the beginning of another year of reading starting tomorrow. Congratulations to you if you made it through the whole Bible in the past year! Thank you to all who have provided questions and comments over the course of this past year and to our webmaster whose tireless efforts behind the scenes help make all of this possible. I'm amazed that we have done 730 Biblog posts! God being willing, we will continue to provide online and printed materials to aid you in your study. To God alone be the glory!

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 29, 2007

Mt 25-26

(Psalms 149 and 150 are both also appointed for today, and you can find my most recent posts, with links to the previous, more-general posts, here and here, respectively.)

A photograph of intermingled sheep and goats by Nir Halman in the valley outside Sangla on the Kinnaur Kailas Circuit in IndiaCan you tell sheep from goats? As a child, I always thought the difference was obvious and that the separation described in our reading of Matthew 25-26 today was not that difficult. Of course, that thought was of a child who visited petting zoos and regular zoos and thus usually saw a pen of sheep on the one hand and a pen of goats on the other. There were no such pens or day to day separation in Biblical times or even today in some places. For example, the image with this post is a photograph of intermingled sheep and goats by Nir Halman in the valley outside Sangla on the Kinnaur Kailas Circuit in India (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Like the wheat and the tares, the intermingling of the sheep and goats continues until the harvest of the Last Day. Then, unconscious works as evidence of faith are the basis for the separation, and, while those unbelieving goats go to everlasting punishment, those that believed in Jesus unto salvation go to eternal life. (You can find my previous post on all of Matthew 25-26 here and a modern application of Matthew 25:31-46 in Biblog folos here and here.)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Matthew 25:1-13 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for the Twenty-seventh (or Last) Sunday after Trinity Sunday, and Matthew 25:31-46 is appointed for the Twenty-sixth Sunday after Trinity Sunday. Ten hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Matthew 25-26.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 28, 2007

Ps 148 / Mt 23-24

Standing on a rise to the east of downtown, I saw a beautiful sunset last night over the Austin skyline. I tried to capture a photograph of it on my phone, but the image didn’t do the sunset justice. We certainly can and do delight in those things that the sun, moon, and stars do as a result of their Divine creation, but today in Psalm 148 the psalmist is doing more than that. In verse 3 the psalmist understands the praise the inanimate creatures of the sky, as with the praise of the church above, to be an echo of the praise of the inanimate creatures of the earth and the church below. For creation and sustention (sustentation), for redemption by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and for the ultimate, full and final restoration, we all have a lot for which to praise God! (You can find my other comments on Psalm 148 by following this link.)

An unidentified photographer’s picture of a basalt “Seat of Moses” found in Chorazin in the 1920sAlthough I’m sure frequently we’d all rather not have to face the fact, but pastors are by nature fallen sinful beings just like everyone else. Not only do we pastors have to deal with sin and its impacts in our own lives, but people in congregations have to deal with their pastors’ sinfulness and how it impacts their carrying out the office entrusted to them by their Lord. Sometimes distinguishing the sinful pastor from the holy office can be difficult. Today in Matthew 23-24 we hear of a similar distinction that Jesus made. In Matthew 23:2 Jesus acknowledges that the Pharisees sit in Moses’s seat, that is, that they are the authorized successors of Moses as teachers of the law. The expression "sit in Moses's seat" is a figurative one, but it had literal representations, as in the image with this post, an unidentified photographer’s picture of a basalt “Seat of Moses” found in Chorazin in the 1920s (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Incidentally, the Greek word kathedra, used in Matthew 23:2 for the seat, literally means “chair” or “seat”, but gives us our English word “cathedral”, which originally was “cathedral church”, referring to the church containing the bishop’s throne. You may also know or be interested to know that since 1870 Roman Catholics officially have held the pope to be infallible when he speaks ex cathedra, literally “from the throne”, “with the full formal weight of his office as the supposed divinely appointed guardian of Christian faith and morals”. We are thankful that God’s Word, which reveals to us salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, is infallible and that He is the guardian of the faith that ultimately matters. (You can find my previous post on all of Matthew 23-24 here, and there is a folo on Matthew 23:9 and calling pastor’s “father” here [there’s also subsequent folo to that post, which I can’t seem to locate right now], and there is a folo on Matthew 24:14 and the Gospel being preached to all nations here.)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints Matthew 24:15-28 as the Gospel reading for the Twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity Sunday, and hymn #606 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Matthew 24:42.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:06 AM

November 27, 2007

Ps 147 / Mt 21-22 / Dürer exhibit

Various forces and factors throughout church history have influenced, for better or for worse, the way we conduct the liturgy. For example, the switch from German to English in Protestant (read “anti-Roman Catholic”) America and the publication of The Lutheran Hymnal, which lacked music for the pastor’s chant printed in the pew edition, resulted in many congregations where pastors spoke their portions of the liturgy and the congregations responded in song. Such a practice on a routine basis is certainly inconsistent, for speaking should be followed by speaking and singing should follow singing (consider plays and operas--dialogues generally do not mix types). Even though I would not necessarily support doing it, The Music for the Liturgy, a companion volume for TLH, envisions singing virtually every component of the Divine Service (including the General Confession and the Creed), except for the Readings and the General Prayer (although at least the readings were no doubt sung at the time of the Reformation). All of this comes to my mind today reading Psalm 147, as any kind of a ban on anyone’s singing would seem to go against the exhortation of verse 7, especially when it comes to Psalms. Our English word “psalm”, which comes from the Greek word psalmos in the New Testament, originally means a striking or plucking of chords on a musical instrument and then by transfer a psalm or pious song. The Old Testament equivalent words in Hebrew may refer to music without words, but they apparently do not refer to words without music. The Hebrew noun mizmor, for example, comes from the Hebrew verb zamar, which means sing, sing praise, make music. The reason for singing to the Lord with thanksgiving and making music to our God on the harp is His saving us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. How can one be content to use indefinitely the less-joyous form of speaking when it comes to speaking of and responding to that free gift of salvation? (You can find my previous posts on Psalm 147 by following this link.)

An unidentified artist’s depiction of Christ cleansing the TempleMusic of a sort continues in our reading of Matthew 21-22 today. We hear of Jesus cleansing the Temple’s Court of the Gentiles, which was the only place non-Jews could go to pray. (The image with this post is an unidentified artist’s depiction of Jesus cleansing the Temple; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) The chief priests and teachers of the law object to what Jesus is doing and how little children were shouting psalm verses (or arguably singing them, given the content, for the Greek word used here has more to do with the recognition of Christ and seeking mercy), Jesus identifies their praise as a fulfillment of prophecy (and see what St. Luke’s account tells us Jesus also said, Luke 19:40, and here is the “Jesus Christ Superstar” rendition of the event and exchange). So often the simple, child-like faith not only recognizes and receives Jesus as Savior but also knows what to do. (For my comments on all of Matthew 21-22 see here.)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1 year lectionary we use for Sunday and festival readings in the Divine Service appoints three Gospel readings from Matthew 21-22: Matthew 21:1-9 for the First Sunday of Advent and for Palmarum (the Sixth Sunday in Lent), Matthew 22:1-14 for the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity Sunday, and Matthew 22:15-22 for the Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity Sunday. Seven hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Matthew 21.

I was thankful this past Sunday to be able to see the Dürer exhibit that I had mentioned previously in the Biblog. While the museum did not provide as much help as I might have liked identifying or explaining all the symbolism in the images, there was still much to learn. I was especially impressed with the detail of Dürer’s images, all the more given what we today might consider rudimentary technology for creating the images on blocks of wood or on metal plates for use in printing.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 26, 2007

Ps 146 / Mt 19-20 / Folo

The holidays always bring special attention to the homeless and those otherwise in need, even though those people generally are in need all year long. Today in Psalm 146 we hear how the Lord looks after the oppressed, hungry, prisoners, blind, humble, righteous, foreigner, orphans, and widows. How does the Lord do that? Through some miraculous intervention? No, He does it through means--people like you and me. He blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. Of course, our material support and relief are best delivered in a way that also communicates a Gospel message, for everyone’s greatest need is for a Savior from sin, namely Jesus Christ. And, once someone comes to faith and is incorporated into the Church, they have new family members and support systems through which God also helps them. (For more comments on Psalm 146, follow this link.)

An unidentified artist’s depiction of Jesus with childrenGod’s looking after those who are otherwise sometimes ignored is also evident in our reading of Matthew 19-20 today. That Jesus’s teaching about divorce is immediately followed by His interacting with little children reminds us all that often the greatest victims in divorce are children. Couples sometimes stay together for their children, although some studies suggest that in some cases the children would be better off if the couple split, even though the split can be devastating for the children. Especially when adults responsible for children fail to look out for their best interests the blessing of our Lord upon little children is significant. Baptism, of course, gives all people who believes in Jesus Christ, regardless of their age, forgiveness of sins, deliverance from death and the devil, and eternal salvation. And, our Lord can bless little children in other ways, raising up other adults who God uses to look after them. (The image with this post is an unidentified artist’s depiction of Jesus with children; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) You can find my comments on more of today’s reading here, and there is discussion of vocation in connection with Matthew 19:21 here.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints Matthew 20:1-16 as the Gospel reading for Septuagesima (the Sunday that falls in the seventh period of ten days before Easter). No hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to verses from Matthew 19-20.

Today's Biblog folo is a response to the reference in yesterday's post to the TV show "Seinfeld". A reader emailed, "I don't think I ever saw a whole episode of 'Seinfeld', though I've certainly heard it talked about or read of it! Thanks for showing me how little I missed!" I'm always glad to be of service. Despite the pre-show reputation of Seinfeld's humor as being remarkably clean, no doubt much of the show's humor was less than edifying and not in keeping with Paul's exhortation in Philippians 4:8 about the things we should think on.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 25, 2007

Ps 145 / Mt 17-18 / Biblog folo

Sometimes when families have been together more than usual for a holiday such as American Thanksgiving, tempers wear thin and people can get angry quickly. Everyday circumstances of life can send others into a rage. (I was thinking of an old episode of “Seinfeld” where George was labeled a “rageaholic”; I had no idea that the term was really used and that there really was a support group.) Today in Psalm 145 we are reminded that God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The expression was part of God’s Self-revelation to Moses in Exodus 34:6-7 and is frequently recalled by other inspired writers in the Old Testament. What a blessing that God allows time for people to repent (2 Peter 3:9) and to come to faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. (You can find more comments on Psalm 145 by following this link.)

An image of the Lost Sheep window at Grace Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Tripoli, IowaOne of the things I’ve learned about Christian art after providing images in the posts for nearly one year now is how much one artist will borrow from or copy another. The image today for our reading of Matthew 17-18 is no exception. There are all sorts of renditions of the same basic image of our Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, going to great heights to rescue each of us, a little lost sheep. This particular image is of the Lost Sheep window at Grace Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Tripoli, Iowa (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Perhaps in this case the image is so frequently copied and used precisely because it drives home so well the comfort the parable gives us (see also hymn #595 linked below). Truly our Good Shepherd has even gone so far as to lay down His life for us (John 10:11, 15, 17, 18; John 15:13; 1 John 3:16), and we receive forgiveness freely by faith in Him. (My previous post overviewing all of today’s reading is here, and there are two old Biblog folos related to today’s reading: the first on Matthew 17:15 is a reader’s reaction to a comment I made, and the second on Matthew 18:21-35 relates to forgiving as we want to be forgiven.)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1 year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints three Gospel readings from Matthew 17-18: Matthew 17:1-9 for The Transfiguration, Matthew 18:1-11 for St. Michael’s Day, and Matthew 18:23-35 for the Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity Sunday. Likewise, three hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Matthew 17-18.

Today’s Biblog folo relates to our reading of Matthew yesterday, where Jesus speaks about eating with unwashed hands. A reader emailed the following comment.

I expect you were raised the same as I was, with Mom saying, “Wash your hands before you eat!” Do you ever wonder about Matthew 15:20, even if you understand the preceding point? (Now that I think of it, the 4000+ on the mountain were probably unable to fulfill the requirements of “tradition.”)

Yes, I certainly was taught to wash my hands before I ate, and I think the key to properly understanding Matthew 15:20 and the parallel passage in Mark 7:1-23 is understanding that Jesus is not saying we should not wash our hands before eating but simply that one should not impugn the spiritual motives of someone who for whatever reason fails to do so. After the Babylonian exile, the Pharisees and teachers of the law had made meticulous rules and regulations to govern the daily lives of the people. The rules and regulations in many cases wrongly interpreted and applied the law given to Moses. (The rules and regulations were passed down from the elders orally in Jesus’s day and were put into writing, known as the Mishnah, several centuries later.)

God bless your day, and may you let Him make it holy for you by rightly using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 24, 2007

Ps 144 / Mt 15-16

One of my New Testament students’ papers that I read recently focused on the armor of God discussed in Ephesians 6:10-18. The paper appropriately refers back to God’s armor described in Isaiah 59:17, and I reflected on what the significance might be of Christians girding themselves for battle as God is girded. With all of that still somewhat fresh in my mind, when I read Psalm 144 today, I was particularly struck by the statement in verse 1 that God trains the psalmist’s hands and fingers for war and its battles. The psalm is said by some to relate to David’s stand before Goliath, which incident I mentioned to my student since David refused to wear Saul’s literal armor (1 Samuel 17:39), confessing instead that the Lord fought the battle in a different way (1 Samuel 17:47). In Psalm 18, where thoughts similar to those in Psalm 144 are expressed, we hear that the Lord gives the psalmist His shield of victory and otherwise improves conditions for the battle to go favorably for the psalmist. While we are less familiar with the military equipment and tactics of that time, military equipment and tactics are not completely unknown to us. What is perhaps most important is that we rely on the Lord for the victory in our spiritual battles (again see the Ephesians passage mentioned above), knowing that through faith in Jesus Christ we have already won the war over sin, death, and the power of the devil. (For my previous comments on Psalm 144, follow this link.)

Paul Kolnik’s photograph of dancers of the Pennsylvania Ballet depicting “The Gates of Hell” in the finale of Margo Sappington’s “Rodin, Mis En Vie”Somewhat continuing the warfare theme, Matthew 15-16 that we read today mentions Christ’s victory over hell. Christian art through the millennia has represented hell and its gates in various ways, but I was particularly struck by the image with this post, Paul Kolnik’s photograph of dancers of the Pennsylvania Ballet depicting “The Gates of Hell” in the finale of Margo Sappington’s Rodin, Mis En Vie (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). While I am no expert in interpreting ballets, I can say that no matter how the gates of hell are depicted Christ’s very real victory over them gives us great comfort, especially since we are freed from hell’s powers through faith in Him. To be sure, Matthew 16:18 is definitely a favorite passage of mine, especially as we see the visible church more and more afflicted by schisms that might have us think the church built on the confession of Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God, is about to be defeated. Jesus’s words are a constant reminder that the victory is already His and therefore also ours. (For my previous comments on Matthew 15-16, click here.)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Matthew 15:21-28 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for Reminiscere (the Second Sunday in Lent), and three hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Matthew 16.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make tomorrow holy for you by the right use of His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 23, 2007

Ps 143 / Mt 13-14

If we pray as Dr. Luther directs at our bedside both in the morning and in the evening, we are praying for God to watch over us during that next day part. Psalm 143 appears to have been prayed at night, for the psalmist in verse 8 is anticipating the morning when he will learn that God has safely delivered him from the coming night. The language of the psalm need not be taken so literally, of course. We’ve discussed before how the nighttime was a time of greater threat and so is often used figuratively for afflictions. Note how the psalmist not only prays that the affliction come to an end and that he might experience God’s mercy, but the psalmist also prays that God would show him the way to go so that he might escape the destruction the psalmist’s enemies are plotting. The bases for that last request are in part the psalmist’s craving the Lord’s salvation and confidently trusting God that he will receive it. (You might think of the communion liturgy’s call to “Lift up your hearts” and the congregation’s reply, “We lift them up unto the Lord.”) Whether from a literal night of darkness or from a figurative night of affliction, we know that God lets the morning come and bring us word of His mercy, even as He delivers us from our sins by grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. (You can find my previous comments on Psalm 143 by following this link.)

Contemporary American artist Brian Jekel’s depiction of Jesus walking on water and rescuing PeterAnticipating our reading of Matthew 13-14 today, which includes the account of Jesus and Peter walking on water, I really liked the image that I have included with this post. (You can find my previous post on all of today’s reading here.) Contemporary American artist Brian Jekel’s painting shows the moment of Jesus’s rescuing Peter from drowning in the turbulent sea (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Jesus’s and Peter’s experience with water is not limited to the event in our reading today, either, but also can be found at the beginning and “end” of their interactions. Peter may have jumped into the water when Jesus first called him (Matthew 4:22; Mark 1:18; and Luke 5:11, noting the miraculous catch of fish that precedes it), and Peter also jumped into the water one of the last times we know they were together (John 21:7, after another miraculous catch of fish). We may also assume that at one point Peter passed through the water of Holy Baptism, perhaps being baptized by John the Baptizer. I mentioned previously one of my student’s and my recent interest in Baptism as drowning, and, although I have not yet read my student’s final version of his paper, my own searches have not produced any solid Scriptural or early church evidence for the link. (The article I mentioned in that previous post turned out not to be very helpful.) Now, I’m not saying the link is an invalid one, but I think a case could be made that the connection is first expressed by Martin Luther. We do well to remember Dr. Luther’s Small Catechism connection between Baptism and drowning, daily returning to our baptism in contrition and repentance so that the sinful nature in us is drowned and the redeemed nature arises to live before God by faith and thereby righteous and pure forever.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Matthew 13:24-30 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany. Two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Matthew 13.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 22, 2007

Ps 142 / Mt 11-12

“Nobody likes a complainer,” we might say or hear said. In reading Psalm 142 and understanding how the word “complaint” is used there, we might say “God likes a complainer.” You see, this “complaint” in the Old Testament is essentially a prayerful meditation based on consideration of God’s seeming inaction in the present in comparison to His genuine deliverance in the past. (In addition, the psalmist is not so much telling others how he “complains” to the Lord, but is speaking to the Lord with a formal third-person address said to be used often when addressing kings.) This matter of the “complaint” is another good example of how we must sometimes be careful of taking words with their everyday meanings, for the Biblical idea at least does not have as much of a sense of alleging “wrong” or “offense” as I think our everyday “complaint” has. We do well to remember that we have no grounds to accuse God of wronging us, while He has every ground to accuse us of wronging Him. Praise God that for the sake of Jesus Christ He no longer accuses those who trust in Him! (You can find more comments on Psalm 142 by following this link.)

Contemporary American artist Joann Reed’s painting titled “Come Unto Me”As we read Matthew 11-12 today, I fixated a little bit on Matthew 11:28-30. (You can find my post on the whole reading here.) Even apart from the connection to the yoke of the pastoral office, Matthew 11:28-30, especially verse 28, speaks wonderful words of Gospel invitation. (The image with this post is contemporary American artist Joann Reed’s painting titled “Come Unto Me”; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it; you can also read about the origin of the painting here.) There’s no surprise that five hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to be based on this verse (see below). Something I noticed in the reading today is how closely connected verses 20-24 are with verses 25-30. Jesus speaks judgment on those who are not repenting, but then He praises God the Father for revealing the Son, and finally He graciously invites those who are repenting and believing in Him to find forgiveness, relief, and rest. The close connection between these two sections is honored by the 1-year lectionary in Lutheran Worship, where Matthew 11:20-30 is appointed as the Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday, while only Matthew 11:25-30 is appointed for St. Matthias Day in that 1-year lectionary (and ours, as you can see below), and the 3-year lectionary in LW appoints only Matthew 11:25-30 and that only for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost in series A. (I don’t have an indices of the Lutheran Service Book lectionaries.)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints Matthew 11:2-10 as the Gospel reading for the Third Sunday of Advent, Matthew 11:12-15 as the Gospel reading for the festival of the Reformation, and Matthew 11:25-30 for the festival of St. Matthias the Apostle. Five hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Matthew 11:28: #149, #277, #281, #456, and #513.

God bless your American Thanksgiving day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 21, 2007

Ps 141 / Mt 9-10

What are you looking at? Or, more grammatically correct, At what are you looking? More to the point, what have you set before yourself as your goal or object of trust? Today in Psalm 141 we hear the psalmist say his eyes are toward the Lord (verse 8). Although there isn’t a verb in the Hebrew of the first half of the verse, various verbs are supplied by the translations: “are unto” (KJV, ASV), “are toward” (NASB), and “are fixed” (NIV). Immediately I thought of Hebrews 12:2 and “fixing” our eyes on Jesus, the Beginner and Finisher of our faith, Who endured the cross and sat down at the right hand of God. When we look to Jesus with the eyes of faith, trusting only in His merits for the forgiveness of sins, we know that He will not give us over to eternal death but that we will have eternal life with Him. (You can find more comments on Psalm 141 by following this link.)

An image of the “Keys” window from St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Colton, CaliforniaThe authority to forgive and retain sins about which we hear today in Matthew 9-10 has long been represented by the keys to the heaven and hell, as in the window shown, from St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Colton, California (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Maybe you recall from my previous mentions that the silver key is the binding or excommunicating key to hell and that the gold key is the loosing or absolving key to heaven. Artists usually give the gold key prominence by placing it over the top of the silver key, and sometimes the artists even appropriately show the keys with the gold key pointing up to heaven and the silver key pointing down to hell. Reading Matthew 9-10 this time through, I was struck by how much of the two chapters has to do with the authority God gives to men for the sake of comforting His flock with the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. You can find my previous post on Matthew 9-10 here, and there is a Biblog folo on Matthew 10:34-35 and that which comes from the mouth of the Messiah here.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Matthew 9:1-8 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday, and Matthew 9:18-26 is appointed for the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity Sunday. Two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Matthew 9-10.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 20, 2007

Ps 140 / Mt 7-8

Nearing the end of our second year of reading through the Bible together, and thus our fourth time through the Psalms, I can honestly say how struck I have been by the psalmists’ repeated calls for vindication and their confidence that God will ultimately answer those petitions favorably. Psalm 140 is no exception. When we know our causes are good and true, waiting for God to vindicate them can be especially difficult. We can gain comfort, however, by praying the psalms and thereby letting our faith be shaped more like that of our Lord Jesus, Whose cause to some extent still is awaiting full and final vindication on the Last Day. His cause is ours, and all who by faith receive forgiveness of sins and salvation through Him will be vindicated then, too, if not before. (You can find my other comments on Psalm 140 by following this link.)

An unidentified photographer’s picture of a household measuring cupPeople who have perfectionist tendencies can be quite critical of themselves and others, neither of which is necessarily good sometimes. Today in Matthew 7-8 we hear Jesus say that “with the measure [we] use, it will be measured to [us]” (Matthew 7:2 NIV). You may recall from our reading of the Old Testament how God chastised the people for not using literally the same measure or weights for buying and selling, but in this case Jesus’s meaning is figurative. When we judge others harshly, Jesus warns, we, too, will be judged harshly. Now, we do well to remember that Jesus’s words are not ruling out judging of every sort, for example His word judges between those who believe and those who do not. And, despite what verse 1 says, even if we could somehow refrain from doing any judging at all, we would still be judged. As much law as the measuring cup figure of speech speaks to us, we can be comforted by the Gospel that through faith in Jesus Christ God gives us superabundant forgiveness (Luke 6:38, for example). You can read more about Matthew 7-8 here. (The image with this post is an unidentified photographer’s picture of a household measuring cup; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Matthew 8:29 and the fall and future of the angels. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1 year lectionary appoints Matthew 7:15-23 as the Gospel reading for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity Sunday and Matthew 8:1-13 as the Gospel reading for the Third Sunday after Epiphany. Three hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Matthew 8.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 19, 2007

Ps 139 / Mt 5-6

I was asked recently about the book of heaven, whether people’s names are written and erased as they come to and fall from faith. Today as we read Psalm 139 we arguably get in verse 16 an answer to that question, one I didn’t think of when asked. I wouldn’t think that we would want to postulate too many books in heaven, as if the book in Psalm 139:16 is a different book than the usual Book of Life (for example, Philippians 4:3 and Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; 22:19). Even as we consider that these days were eternally described in the Lord’s book as an exercise of His omniscience, we do well to remember, as I point out in my previous comments on Psalm 139, which you can find by following this link, that God’s foreknowledge does not fatalistically control every aspect of our lives. God calls all to saving faith in His Son Jesus, but sadly not all answer His call to be called out.

Robert Powell as Jesus in Franco Ziefirelli’s 1977 movie “Jesus of Nazareth”Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, the beginning of which we hear today in our reading of Matthew 5-6, may well be one of the best known parts of the Bible. People’s familiarity with the Sermon may in part be due to portrayals of the Sermon like that by Robert Powell in Franco Ziefirelli’s 1977 movie “Jesus of Nazareth”, pictured in today’s post (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it; the screen capture is from the Lord’s Prayer portion of the Sermon, but there are other images and information here). I’ll never forget a different movie version of the Sermon I saw once while in seminary, in which the actor playing Jesus basically laughed his way through the sermon. Jesus had a sense of humor, but I don’t think the Sermon was meant to be that funny. People’s eternal life or death is not a laughing matter, and that’s what at stake based on their faith or non-faith reaction to Jesus’s call in the Sermon. There are some generally serious comments on today’s reading here, with a folo on Matthew 6:12 regarding a practical application of the Lord’s Prayer here.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Three Gospel readings in the historic 1-year lectionary come from Matthew 5-6: Matthew 5:20-26 is appointed for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity Sunday, Matthew 6:16-21 for Ash Wednesday and the Day of Humiliation, and Matthew 6:24-34 for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday. Four hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Matthew 5-6.


God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 18, 2007

Ps 138 / Mt 3-4 / Biblog folo

When we are afflicted in any number of ways, we very easily can think that God has left us alone and that we will not be able to accomplish what we want to. Our reading of Psalm 138 today speaks a little to that thought. As we confess verse 8 we remind ourselves that “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me”. (I commented briefly on verse 8 in one of my previous posts, which you can find by following this link.) No afflictions can get in the way of the Lord’s purposes; rather, the afflictions help the Lord accomplish His purposes. Note also that the purposes the Lord accomplishes may not be our purposes but rather His purposes. We may not know what His specific purposes are in any given situation, but we do know His broader purposes of leading us to repentance, forgiving our sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and ultimately delivering us to eternal life with Him in heaven.

Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch’s “St. John the Baptist”As we read Matthew 3-4 today we hear a good bit about John the Baptizer and his baptizing the Lord. (The image with this post is “St. John the Baptist” by Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch [c.1450-1516], who is said to have been an inspiration for twentieth-century surrealist painters; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) I think we can appreciate John’s sense that he needed to be baptized by Jesus instead of the other way around. Still, since we benefit from our Lord’s baptism, we can understand why it was necessary that it be the other way around, “to fulfill all righteousness”. Fresh from the waters of Baptism, Jesus was tempted, and so are we. Jesus, of course, gives us a good example of resisting temptation with the Word of God, but, more importantly, Jesus pays the price for our failing to resist temptation. On account of Jesus’s death and resurrection, forgiveness of sins is ours freely by grace through faith. (You can find more comments on today’s reading here.)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Matthew 4:1-11 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for Invocavit (the First Sunday in Lent). Three hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Matthew 3-4.

Reader emails reacting to the image of John the Baptizer in Friday’s post give us today’s Biblog folo. Thinking of how da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is sometimes said to be a man, one reader’s email asked if maybe da Vinci’s John wasn’t a woman. Apparently questions about gender reversals aren’t the only thing in common between the Mona Lisa and John the Baptizer (the reader who sent that link echoed the comments about John not looking gaunt enough or exposed to the elements enough). Another email brought this link to a seventeenth-century Spanish depiction of John, and another email brought this link to a sixteenth-century Italian depiction, where an adult John is shown with the infant Jesus--surely a historic amalgamation, since we know that John was born about six months before Jesus was. That last email also noted how other artists painted John as a teenager and nude, or so scantily clothed as not to make a difference (such as this one by Caravaggio). Interesting to me how different artists can produce such radically different depictions of the same person.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make it holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 17, 2007

Ps 137 / Mt 1-2 / Malachi wrap-up

As I read Psalm 137 today, from which we hear that the exiles of Judah did not sing psalms when their captors demanded it as entertainment, I thought of Acts 16:25, from which we hear of Paul and Silas singing in prison. What’s the difference? Why was it not okay for prisoners to sing in one case but okay in another case to sing? In the psalm, the prisoners were being told to sing and not for the sake of hearing God’s Word. In Acts, the prisoners were singing as a part of their Christian lives and the other prisoners, and perhaps also the jailers, happened to hear it. I don’t know whether or not we could imagine similar circumstances under which we would not sing psalms or hymns. God’s Word is capable of accomplishing more than we usually give it credit for being able to accomplish, such as bringing anyone to saving faith in Jesus Christ. (You can find my previous comments on Psalm 137 by following this link.)

An unidentified artist’s depiction of the birth of Jesus, “Immanuel”, which means “God with us”The more I study and teach the Gospel according to St. Matthew, the more I come to appreciate how God’s presence with His people to bless them is a theme that runs throughout the book. We see an example of it today with our reading of Matthew 1-2. Looking at the cute baby in the manger or the boy before the Magi in Bethlehem, we may have a hard time remembering that the baby and the boy are the Almighty and Eternal God Who created the heavens, brought judgment upon the nations of the earth, and, more importantly, redeemed His people. (The image with this post is an unidentified artist’s depiction of “Immanuel”; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) We hear that the word “Immanuel” means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23), but I don’t know that I really appreciated that until I started learning Hebrew and saw how the word reflects the Hebrew preposition “with”, the Hebrew equivalent of the pronoun “us”, and a shortened form of one of the words for “God”. More important than its etymology, however, is how the Gospel according to St. Matthew continues to teach of God’s presence with His people to bless them (such as in 18:20) and promises to be with us through Word and Sacrament for the forgiveness of sins until the end of the age (28:20). (You can find my previous post on the reading here, and there is a folo mentioning Matthew 1:6 in connection with polygamy and other irregularities in Christ’s line here, and here there are three folos: one on Matthew 1:25 regarding Mary’s and Joseph’s “union”; one on Matthew 2:9, 11, 13, and 16 regarding Jesus’s age when the Magi came; and one on Matthew 2:16-18 regarding the innocence and martyrdom of the Bethlehem boys.)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Matthew 2:1-12 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for Epiphany, and Matthew 2:13-23 is appointed for the Sunday after New Year. Nine hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Matthew 1-2.

Today I have a Malachi wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The book of Malachi was inspired through the prophet Malachi, likely the last of the Old Testament era.
What is the book? The book contains prophecies God made through Malachi to the people of Judah.
Where was it written? Given that the prophecies were directed to the people of Judah, the book was likely written in Judah, likely even its capital city, Jerusalem.
When was it written? Malachi probably prophesied from 440-430 B.C. and wrote the book shortly thereafter.
Why? The exiles repeatedly fell into sin upon their return from exile, and God through Malachi condemns those sins and rebukes the people for doubting God’s love and being faithless, thereby calling them to repent and promising blessing to the faithful.
How? Malachi calls itself an “oracle” and is written in “lofty” prose, arguably structured in six sections, each consisting of a thesis, queston or challenge of some sort, and a defense of the original statement. Throughout Malachi uses vivid images and figures of speech and repeats key words and phrases.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Malachi, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume X: Minor Prophets, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted March 1986. (There are some 53 pages on Malachi.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 6 pages on Malachi.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

Thanks to two reader questions there are two new Q&A posted, beginning with this one (the other is right below it). God bless your day, and may you let Him make tomorrow holy for you by the right use of His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 16, 2007

Ps 136 / Mal / Zechariah wrap-up

Today as I read Psalm 136 I was struck by the different “titles” the psalmist uses to refer to the Lord. “God of God” is used in verse 2 and “Lord of Lords” in verse 3. “God of heaven” is used in verse 26, and in between there are all sorts of statements made that describe Who God is, as the Creator and Deliverer. When we make false statements about and ascribe false titles to a god who is formed as we would have him be, we dishonor God (coincidentally, see today’s Memorial Moment on that topic). However, when such statements and titles are true, we are confessing the greatness of our God and are forgiven and saved by grace through faith in Him. (You can find my previous posts on Psalm 136 by following this link.)

Leonardo da Vinci’s depiction of John the BaptizerHow fitting that the Old Testament as we have it ends with the book of Malachi that we read today, including, in its final verses (4:5-6; confer 3:1), prophecy of the coming of the second Elijah, John the Baptizer, of whom a depiction by Leonardo da Vinci, showing John pointing the way to heaven, is included with this post (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). If you turn to the Gospel according to St. Mark, you see how that account even begins with prophecy about John taken from Malachi. Similarly, after the prologue of St. Luke’s account, the first narrative is the prophecy of the birth of John (Luke 1:5 and verses following). In St. John’s account, we hear of the Baptizer in the prologue itself (John 1:6-8, 15; and confer verse 19 and verses following). Only reading St. Matthew’s account do we have to wait until the third chapter to find the arrival of John. That all four Gospel accounts mention John as they do and in some ways begin their presentation of Jesus with a presentation about John is significant. Elijah preceded Elisha, “whose ministry was one of judgment and redemption”, and likewise John preceded Jesus. The messages of the two Old Testament prophets were not different, nor were those of John and Jesus: “Repent and believe the Good News.” Amen. (You can find my previous post on Malachi and the time between the Old and New Testaments here, and there is a Biblog Folo on Malachi 1:12 about defiling and supplying the Lord’s Table here.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Malachi 4:5-6 and more about John the Baptizer as the second Elijah. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints Malachi 3:10-12 as the Old Testament reading for a Harvest Festival, and hymn #338 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Malachi 3:17.

Today I have an Zechariah wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? We believe the prophet Zechariah, born of the priestly line while in Babylon, was the Holy Spirit’s instrument for the prophecy of the book of Zechariah, although others think there was a second and possibly a third author for the second half of the book.
What is the book? The book contains Zechariah’s prophecy in Judah and Jerusalem after the return from exile in Babylon. Although the individual prophecies may not be in strict chronological order, their sequence does not impact their foretelling of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Where was it written? Given Zechariah’s interest in Judah and Jerusalem, he likely wrote the book in the kingdom if not its capital city.
When was it written? Given three precise dates in the book, Zechariah is thought to have prophesied around 520-480 B.C., which makes him a contemporary of Haggai, at least for a while. The book was likely completed shortly after the final prophecy.
Why? Like Haggai, Zechariah rebukes the people of Judah and encourages and motivates them to finish rebuilding the Temple, as well as calling for spiritual renewal.
How? Often in rich apocalyptic imagery and language, Zechariah points to the Messiah and the ultimate end of time. Zechariah calls the people to repent and encourages them on account of the glorious future awaiting the people of God.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Zechariah, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume X: Minor Prophets, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted March 1986. (There are some 205 pages on Zechariah.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 16 pages on Zechariah.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

I apologize for the delay in publishing today’s post, but difficulty accessing the site during the time I had to work on the post prevented me from publishing it sooner. God bless your day!

Posted by graceelg at 04:30 PM

November 15, 2007

Ps 135 / Zec 11-14

When we are trying to understand something big or complex, we often break it down into smaller or simpler parts. Such a process can be helpful, provided we do not lose sight of the bigger, more complex matter and thereby distort our understanding of the smaller or simpler part. Such a distortion is possible, for example, when we consider God’s generally-hidden election and predestination of some to salvation in isolation from His revealed will to save all people. I discussed this danger with the students in my New Testament class recently, and I was reminded of it today reading Psalm 135. I was again struck by verse 6, and, while my previous comments on that verse (which you can find by following this link) were helpful, today I noticed how the psalmist speaks in verse 14 about what pleases the Lord to do. The Lord does whatever pleases Him, but what pleases Him is vindicating His people and having compassion on His servants. The Christian faith is not something so big or complex that it is beyond our understanding. The matter is quite simple: we are saved by grace through faith in the merits of Jesus Christ. We need not--and, in fact, should not--ponder, apart from His revealed will to save all people, God’s eternal election of those who are saved. Similarly, we do not probe the mysteries of our individual afflictions but are certain of our own salvation based on what God has done for us in Baptism and what He continues to do for us in preaching, Absolution, and the Supper.

Contemporary Canadian author and artist Michael D. O’Brien’s “Final Confrontation”Not completely unrelated to the foregoing discussion of election and predestination in connection with Psalm 135 are my following thoughts on the remnant in connection with Zechariah 11-14. (You can find my previous comments on the whole reading here.) Thoroughly infected with a theology of glory, we tend to look at the Church in light of what our physical eyes see, forgetting that the eyes of faith see something else. Our physical eyes see a church plagued by conflict, with fewer and fewer people, in part due to diminishing rates of growth, not to mention increasing rates of attrition. The faithful, purified remnant that remains may be small in number to our physical eyes, but each soul saved is an increase to the greater Church that we see with the eyes of faith. That Church does not diminish but is ever increasing until the full number of those to be saved are brought in, by the pure preaching of the Word and the right administration of the Sacraments. In such ways the Holy Spirit gathers us together and even now leads us out towards our final deliverance on the great and glorious Day of the Lord. (The image with this post is contemporary Canadian author and artist Michael D. O’Brien’s “Final Confrontation”; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it, and you can read the artist’s own comments on the work here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint Zechariah 11-14 for any Old Testament readings, but two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Zechariah 13:1, #149 and #157.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 14, 2007

Ps 134 / Zec 6-10

In the darkest days of the medieval period, the liturgy became in many ways what we might call a spectator sport: people went to watch but not really to participate. The Lutheran Reformation changed that, putting the liturgy and hymnody in the language of the people and simplifying musical forms so people could participate. Today in some ways worship is a spectator sport once again, whether from the abandoning of liturgy for Divine Services that more closely resemble concerts or from people simply opting to sit and not participate. Psalm 134 is not the departing party, regardless of who it is, delegating all responsibility for prayer and praise to the clergy, as was essentially the case in the high medieval period. Rather, those leaving the Temple complex after completing their part in the Divine Service were exhorting those who remained to continue the service. We all have a role to play in prayer and praise, whether clergy or laity, respectively distributing or receiving God’s gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ in Word and Sacrament. God grant that we not resist the Holy Spirit’s leading us to participate in receiving the gift or in the praying and praising that the gift brings about. (You can find more comments on the psalm by following this link.)

Spanish Baroque painter Pedro Orrente’s “The Entry Into Jerusalem”One of my New Testament students wanted to do a research paper on the meaning of the king riding on a donkey, as is prophesied in Zechariah 6-10 that we read today and fulfilled when Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. (The image with this post is Spanish Baroque painter Pedro Orrente’s “The Entry Into Jerusalem”; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). I had my doubts about the paper topic, and the student either ended up dropping the class or picking a different topic, but there may have been more to the topic than I thought. Commentators differ as to what they think the riding on a donkey means precisely, especially as it relates to horses or mules at various points of time and in various cultures. Of course, Zechariah 9:9 itself says riding on a donkey signifies humility and lowliness, such as that of our Lord Jesus in humbling Himself even unto death on a cross. His reign as King when He came was full of suffering, which fits with the humility of His entering to reign. His humility is for us and for our salvation, for His death on the cross wins our forgiveness that we receive freely by grace through faith. (You can read my comments on the whole reading here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints Zechariah 9:9-10 as the Old Testament reading for Palmarum (Sixth Sunday in Lent or Palm Sunday), and two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Zechariah 9:9, #56 and #68.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 13, 2007

Ps 133 / Zec 1-5 / Haggai wrap-up

After a particularly significant victory, football players sometimes dump a cooler of Gatorade over their coach’s head. Most likely the coach will be soaked with the sticky stuff from head to toe. That image came to mind today as I read Psalm 133, and I recalled previous questions about Jesus’s anointing, such as this one, although to be sure the volume of liquid would have been less. I mention the head to toe anointing of the psalm in my previous comments, which you can find by following this link, but perhaps I could have discussed more how the psalm uses the image. One commentator says that as the oil sanctified Aaron for service to the Lord, so brotherly unity sanctifies God’s people. But, I don’t think we want to make something like brotherly unity, which is an outgrowth of God’s making us holy, into the cause of the being made holy itself. Rather, I think, as another commentator suggests, the oil flowing from Aaron’s head down to the hem of his garment is an outwardly visible sign of Aaron’s sanctification, so brotherly unity in the one confession of the true faith—salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and all that entails—is an outwardly visible sign of our having been made holy.

An unidentified artist’s depiction of Zechariah’s fifth night vision revelation of the gold lampstand and two olive treesMaybe I’ve mentioned it before in the Biblog or in some other context, but when future pastors attend seminary, they do not take a specific class pertaining to each of the Bible’s 66 books. I remember being surprised by that fact, even though one can easily see how such a requirement would overtake the curriculum. Instead, some books are addressed in broad strokes, while others are taught more in depth, giving principles and methods for understanding them all. As we read Zechariah 1-5 today, I was reflecting on how much the Holy Spirit has taught me through the Daily Lectionary, giving me greater understanding of historical contexts and books to which previously I had been exposed only superficially. We can be comforted constantly that everything we need to know for salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is clearly taught in language we can understand, even as some things in some books are not as clear as we might like. A good example of something that is clear but could be clearer is Zechariah’s vision of the gold lampstand and two olive trees of which we read today (the image with this post is an unidentified artist’s depiction of that vision; to see a higher-quality version of the image see from where we got it). I give a brief comment on understanding the vision in my original post on the reading, and there is more discussion of it in one of the two folos on three verses from Zechariah 1 here, as well as in the Q&A linked below.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Zechariah 1-5 is tapped neither by the historic 1-year lectionary for any Old Testament readings nor apparently by The Lutheran Hymnal in any explicit hymn references.

Today I have an Haggai wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? God inspired the prophecies in the book through the prophet Haggai, who may have seen firsthand the destruction of Jerusalem and who was one of the three prophets given to the people of Judah after they returned from exile in Babylon. Someone else may have worked with Haggai in recording them.
What is the book? The book is the Lord’s prophecy through Haggai to Judah’s governor, Zerubbabel, and to the high priest at the time, Joshua, which prophecy in part calls for the rebuilding of the Temple.
Where was it written? Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, seems the likely location for the prophesying and the writing of the book that contains the prophecies.
When was it written? The prophecies were given to Haggai during a four-month period in the second year of King Darius’s reign, usually dated as 520 B.C.
Why? Particularly in regards to the reconstruction of the Temple, Haggai shows the blessings that follow obedience and the curses that follow disobedience. His oracles also contain several prophecies of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
How? Haggai makes use of rhetorical questions and repetition in a book that is plainly structured by the dates on which the prophecies came. The prophecies themselves reflect knowledge and perhaps influence of other Old Testament books, likely Haggai’s if not that of the book’s ultimate author.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Haggai, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume X: Minor Prophets, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted March 1986. (There are some 49 pages on Haggai.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 4 pages on Haggai.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 12, 2007

Ps 132 / Hag / Zephaniah wrap-up

On All Saints’ Day the sermon focused on God’s washing the robes of the saints and making them white in the blood of the Lamb. Today we hear Psalm 132 speak of clothing priests with righteousness and salvation (vv.9, 16), and we want to be sure to note the contrast with how God clothes David’s and His enemies with shame (v.18, confer Job 8:22). Thank God that, instead of our filthy rags, by faith we receive Christ’s righteousness. (You can find my previous comments on Psalm 132 by following this link.)

Contemporary Swiss artist Annie Vallotton’s depiction of the rebuilding of the TempleSomewhat related to Psalm 132 and its talk of the Lord dwelling in Jerusalem is our reading of Haggai today, where it is not Solomon’s Temple being built but Zerubbabel’s. The people appear to have been more concerned about their own homes than the Lord’s, however, as indicated in the image with this post by contemporary Swiss artist Annie Vallotton (to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it). I’m thankful that at Grace the priorities are in order: the beautiful sanctuary was built and then attention turned to the other buildings. Even the “brand new” roof on the parish hall is in keeping with those priorities. Thank God that along with salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ He provides resources so that when we gather around Word and Sacrament we can be in a space that is so conducive to edifying worship. (You can find my previous comments introducing the book of Haggai and on other aspects of the reading here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from Haggai, nor are any hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal said to refer to verses from Haggai.

Today I have a Zephaniah wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The Lord inspired the book of Zephaniah through the prophet of the same name, who was most-likely related to the royal line.
What is the book? The book is Zephaniah’s prophecies about Judah’s exile and the nation’s future glory under the Messiah.
Where was it written? Given Zephaniah’s relationship to Judah’s royal line, connection to the king’s court, and the time of his prophecy, we probably can say safely that the book was written in Jerusalem.
When was it written? Zephaniah prophesied probably early during the reign of King Josiah, whose dates are given as 640-609 B.C., and the book likely would have been written around the same time.
Why? Zephaniah announces to Judah the Lord’s judgment, but he also speaks of the Lord’s mercy and restoration.
How? In the classic prophetic outline, Zephaniah speaks of God’s judgment on Judah, of judgment on other nations, and of promises to the faithful remnant. Zephaniah notably does not name the nation that God will use against Judah, which emphasizes God Himself as the ultimate cause of Judah’s affliction.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Zephaniah, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume X: Minor Prophets, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted March 1986. (There are some 49 pages on Zephaniah.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 5 pages on Zephaniah.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 11, 2007

Ps 131 / Zep / Habakkuk wrap-up

How long should a child breastfeed? Like many things, the answer you get will depend on whom you ask. In our time, infants may nurse for 1 year; anything after one year is called “extended” breastfeeding. Some mothers nurse longer, and examples are sometimes given of children nursing until they reach 7 years of age. As we read Psalm 131 we hear of a “weaned child”, and I was surprised that I hadn’t commented on the age matter earlier (you can find my previous comments on Psalm 131 by following this link). The notes in my study Bible say the weaned child would be 4 or 5, two other sources I checked don’t give any age at all, one simply points out the child is completely weaned, not just starting to wean. Of course, we should not in any way think the psalm today gives any kind of support to the notion of an age of ascent, discretion, or accountability. As I discussed this past week with a student in my New Testament class, the Bible clearly teaches that all people, regardless of age, have the law written on their heart so that they know right and wrong, are accountable for their sins, and are capable of believing God’s word that reveals to them Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior from sin.

An unidentified photographer’s picture or artist’s depiction of a red moonTalk of the “day of the Lord” brings to mind the various “signs” in the heavens, the sky, such as the sun going dark and the moon blood red (Joel 2:31; confer Acts 2:20). We don’t quite hear of those signs today in Zephaniah as we read of the “day of wrath”, but the image with this post, by an unidentified photographer or artist, is nevertheless still relevant (to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it). No matter the signs themselves, really, other than their serving as a warning that should lead all to repent. We for sure see that in Zephaniah, for example, as God speaks through the prophet of haughty Jerusalem before the judgment not being willing to obey or accept correction (3:2) and of the faithful remnant afterwards being humble and doing no wrong (3:12). God grant that we answer God’s call to turn in sorrow from our sin and trust in the merits of Jesus Christ unto forgiveness. (You can find my other comments on Zephaniah here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

Zephaniah is not used for any Old Testament readings in the historic 1-year lectionary, but hymn #607 in The Lutheran Hymnal refers to Zephaniah 1:15, 16.

Today I have an Habakkuk wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? God inspired the book of Habakkuk through the prophet named Habakkuk, who was a contemporary of Jeremiah’s.
What is the book? The book of Habakkuk contains a dialogue between the prophet and God, in which Habakkuk gives voice to the struggles of all the faithful in Judah as they try to understand God’s ways.
Where was it written? Habakkuk lived in Judah and likely wrote the book there.
When was it written? Habakkuk seems to have prophesied around 605 and possibly as late as 597.
Why? God’s faithful people always struggle to understand God’s mysterious ways and the suffering He permits them to experience, and so the book speaks to us today even as it spoke to those living through Judah and Jerusalem’s exile in Babylon.
How? As God answers the questions posed by Habakkuk, the prophet writes clearly and with great feeling. The book apparently was popular in the time between the Old and New Testaments, and we know it is quoted several times in the New Testament, specifically the memorable phrase of 2:4 and its clear statement about salvation by faith.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Habakkuk, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume X: Minor Prophets, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted March 1986. (There are some 68 pages on Habakkuk.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 5 pages on Habakkuk.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make it holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 10, 2007

Ps 130 / Hab / Nahum wrap-up

Most people are glad when their shifts of work are over so that they can go home. A night watchman, then, would wait for the morning as the end of work. There’s more behind the watchman’s waiting in Psalm 130, however. Nights were times of danger and unseen threat, and mornings were times of greater safety. Especially in the psalms the night is the time of danger and morning the time of salvation. With the analogy in verses 5-6, we see that our souls are to be like the watchman, eagerly expecting the morning as the time of deliverance and salvation and fully trusting in the Lord brings that morning. He hears our cry and gives us mercy and forgiveness, Himself fully redeeming us from all of our sins by Jesus’s blood. That redemption is ours freely through faith in Him. (You can find my previous comments on Psalm 130 by following this link.)

An unidentified photographer’s picture of an unidentified traditional confessionalThere’s an aspect of corporate confession to our reading of Habakkuk, as I pointed out in my previous comments on Habakkuk, but we do well to remember that there is more to confession and absolution than what takes place at the beginning of the Divine Service on Sundays. (In fact, there are some who would deny that is absolution at all.) Usually when the Lutheran Confessions speak of absolution, they are referring to what we often refer to as “private” or “individual” absolution that follows “private” or “individual” confession. The practice of such does not have to be limited to the traditional confessional booths, as in the image with this post (an unidentified photographer’s picture of an unidentified traditional confessional; to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it). Regardless of where it takes place, such confession is always for the sake of absolution, the forgiveness of sins applied to an individual troubled conscience, for the sake of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

No Old Testament readings in the historic 1 year lectionary come from Habakkuk, but three hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from the book.

Today I have a Nahum wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The prophet Nahum apparently was who the Holy Spirit inspired to write the book that bears his name.
What is the book? The book of Nahum includes prophecies addressed to the city of Nineveh but meant for listeners in Judah.
Where was it written? In all likelihood the book was written in Judah.
When was it written? At least one of Nahum’s prophecies had to be given after 663 B.C., and another had to be before 612 B.C., so those dates help us place Nahum’s work.
Why? Although the Nineveh-based Assyrians destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel and would inflict heavy losses on the southern kingdom, Nahum prophesies how they themselves would be destroyed, which prophecy of Jerusalem’s deliverance brings comfort to Jerusalem and what remains of Judah.
How? The book of Nahum is one of the most literary stylistic of the Old Testament books. The prophecy of judgment is appropriately given by well-suited descriptions and words, with intense moods, sights, and sounds. Poetic language makes use of various figures of speech, word pictures, repetition and many short phrases. And, rhetorical questions help stress God’s indignation toward injustice.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Nahum, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume X: Minor Prophets, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted March 1986. (There are some 48 pages on Nahum.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 4 pages on Nahum.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

The website demons struck again, so I apologize that today's post may not have been up when you first looked for it. God bless your day, and may you let Him make tomorrow holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 09, 2007

Ps 129 / Na / Micah wrap-up

Our understanding of the cross of Christ and that of the Christian teaches us that the way to glory is through suffering, the way to exaltation through humiliation. After a colleague spoke to me on Thursday about dispelling, by way of St. John’s account of Jesus’s passion, false notions of glory in the church, I pointed to the small crowd at the foot of the cross, which especially in St. John’s account is the point of God’s glory, as a telling example of our Lord’s focus, or lack thereof, on “numbers”. John, representative of the ministry, and Mary, representative of the Church, are gathered as the Lord gives out His Spirit and Baptismal water and Sacramental blood pour forth from His side. I mention all of that in connection with our reading today of Psalm 129 because the psalmist speaking as the nation of Israel, and prophetically as her Messiah, notes the long furrows plowed into Israel’s back by her oppressors. Immediately I thought of the mark left by scourging, although no source I checked made mention of it. The psalmist is not chafing under the cross, but he is ready for the Lord’s ultimate deliverance that relieves him of it. Already now, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we have our ultimate deliverance from our crosses, even if we are not yet fully experiencing that deliverance and the full relief it brings. (For more on Psalm 129, follow this link.)

An image by an unidentified photographer or artist of Having read Jonah recently, today with Nahum we hear more about the city of Nineveh. I usually think it is helpful to know where the Biblical cities are in relation to modern cities and countries, and Nineveh is a particularly relevant case in point: the city apparently was across the Tigris River from modern-day Mosel, Iraq. I am almost always surprised to hear how in some cases ruins from those cities have not really been excavated, something I had been under the impression was the case with Nineveh, as depicted by the image with this post, the photographer or artist of which was not identified (to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it). However, as you can read here, there apparently has been more excavations than at least I previously thought, and even though the exact same site for the city may not be in use, some refer to Mosel as “Nineveh” and look for the present-day city to have significance akin to its Biblical predecessor. For more on the reading of Nahum, see here, and for a folo on Nahum 2:2, regarding the translation and tense of the main Hebrew verb, see here.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from Nahum, and there apparently are no hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal that refer to verses from Nahum.

Today I have a Micah wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The Holy Spirit inspired the book of Micah through the prophet named Micah of Moresheth Gath, one of thirteen Biblical figures with that name.
What is the book? The book of Micah contains his prophecies about the destruction of Israel and Judah and about the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem.
Where was it written? Given that Micah continued to prophecy after the fall of the northern kingdom, his book was probably written in the southern kingdom, Judah, if not in its capital city, Jerusalem.
When was it written? Jeremiah mentions Micah (Jeremiah 26:18) and helps us know when Micah prophesied, which is some time between 750-686 B.C.
Why? Despite God’s prophecies of judgment against His people, Micah also records His promises of hope and restoration.
How? Like his contemporary Isaiah, Micah uses vigorous language and multiple figures of speech and tenderly threatens punishment and promises justice. Micah also makes plays on words.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Micah, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume X: Minor Prophets, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted March 1986. (There are some 96 pages on Micah.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 10 pages on Micah.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 08, 2007

Ps 128 / Mic 4-7 / Obadiah and Jonah wrap-ups

What would you consider to be signs of being blessed? A shiny new car? A spacious new home? Perhaps we identify with those “blessings” more than grape vines and olive trees, which are used in Psalm 128 today in figures of speech related to blessings. (You can find comments on the psalm as a whole by following this link.) A shiny car and spacious home are not necessities, of course, which are what the grape vine and olive tree in verse 3 have more to do with. For example, olive trees were always green and figuratively promised long life by providing staples of wood, fruit, and the oil that played a central role in people’s lives in Biblical times. Of course, the blessing from God that we seek more than any others is the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and for that we go to the Divine Service, just as the psalmist and his contemporaries looked for blessings from the Temple in Zion (v.5).

An unidentified photographer’s picture of Department 56’s Bethlehem Village“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,” we read in Micah 4-7, “Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting” (Micah 5:2 NKJV). Verses like that one pointing to Bethlehem as the place of the Messiah’s birth really made me enjoy my reading of Micah today. (The image with this post is a picture of Department 56’s Bethlehem Village; to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it.) There are many other gems in the reading, too. As with blessings going out from Zion in Psalm 128, we hear of the Lord’s torah going out from Zion (Micah 4:2). There’s a lovely and often quoted description of peace (Micah 4:3). There’s an unusual reversal of Israel as a lion mauling and mangling the Assyrian sheep (Micah 5:8). And, we hear a beautiful description of the Sprit-wrought Christian’s life: act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly (Micah 6:8). You can find comments on the reading as a whole here.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Micah 5:2 and different uses of Holy Scripture. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

Three Old Testament readings in the historic 1 year lectionary come from Micah 4-7: Micah 4:1-7 is to be read on the Second Sunday of Advent, Micah 5:2-4 on Second Christmas Day (the day after Christmas), and Micah 7:18-20 on the Third Sunday after Trinity. Three hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Micah 4-7.
  • 2:13 -- #198 (see your hymnal), #206
  • 5:2 -- #647

Today I have Obadiah and Jonah wrap-ups. Such summaries of recently completed books were requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading. First is the wrap-up of Obadiah.

Who was the author? The prophet Obadiah, whose name means “servant (or worshipper) of the Lord” is the presumed instrument of the Holy Spirit in recording the book.
What is the book? The book, the shortest in the Old Testament, contains prophecies of Obadiah.
Where was it written? Given Obadiah’s focus on threats to Judah, the prophecy was likely recorded in that kingdom, if not its capital Jerusalem.
When was it written? Scholars connect the writing of Obadiah with one of three periods and events: a Philistine and Arab attack around 850 B.C., the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C., or Edomites’ movement west into southern Judah due to Arab pressure on their territory around 450 B.C. Dr. Luther preferred the link to Nebuchadnezzar’s threat, although Obadiah is not explicitly clear and the answer to the question ultimately does not matter.
Why? God’s prophecy through Obadiah epitomizes many major themes of the prophets and makes a meaningful promise to the Christian Church.
How? The first part of Obadiah speaks judgment on Edom, and the second proclaims the Day of the Lord. Although, strictly speaking, there is no Messianic prophecy in the book, Zion and the Messiah, king and kingdom correlate.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Obadiah, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume X: Minor Prophets, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted March 1986. (There are some 42 pages on Obadiah.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 3 pages on Obadiah.)

Next is the wrap-up of Jonah.

Who was the author? Tradition ascribes the book to the prophet Jonah, whose name means “dove” and who was the son of Amittai and from Gath Hepher.
What is the book? The book of Jonah is a historical, literal account of a single prophetic mission that took Jonah to the ends of the known world as he first resisted but eventually fulfilled that mission of calling the city of Nineveh to repent.
Where was it written? Identifying precisely where the book was written is difficult, but, given Jonah’s origin in the northern kingdom of Israel (or Samaria) and the dating that follows, it may well have been written there.
When was it written? Jonah probably prophesied around 775-750, but at the latest the book would likely have been written before the fall of Samaria to Assyria (722-721 B.C.), although some ascribe its record of oral tradition to others at a later time.
Why? The book of Jonah is one of the clearest showings-forth of God’s grace for all people, not just the Jews.
How? At the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, the book gives a compact and vivid narrative, uses symmetry for comparison and contrast, and uses representative roles to bring to life Israel’s jealousy and God’s love and concern for the Gentiles. Similarly, Jonah’s own experience prophetically points to that of our Lord.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Jonah, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume X: Minor Prophets, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted March 1986. (There are some 39 pages on Jonah.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 5 pages on Jonah.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 07, 2007

Ps 127 / Mic 1-3

With the recent reversion to Standard Time, I’m not sure whether I feel better-rested after an extra hour of sleep or more-tired because I’m staying up later than before the change. So, I had to smile at the timeliness of verse 2 of Psalm 127 about the futility of rising early and working late. Play that against the stereotypical Protestant work ethic! That hard work pays off seems so obvious, but from a spiritual point of view the payoff is only with God’s blessing. Moreover, even if we would grant that our rising and staying up have something to do with getting food, they have nothing to do with our salvation, which is all God’s doing, given freely to us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (You can find my other comments on Psalm 127 by following this link.)

A medieval manuscript depiction of Micah’s inspirationWe believe, teach, and confess that all the books are the inspired and therefore inerrant Word of God. Our movement through the Minor Prophets takes us to Micah 1-3 today, and the next of the inspired prophets. You can see in the image with this post how illustrations in medieval manuscripts depicted the inspiration of prophets like Micah (to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it). Micah would have to have been inspired (or really lucky!) to accurately prophesy of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem for us and for our salvation. By the way, that prophesy was so long before the fact that there’s no chance Micah was waiting around to see what happened first and to then make it look like he had said it in advance. You can find more comments on the book of Micah overall and on today’s reading in particular here.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from Micah 1-3, but two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Micah 2:13: #198 and #206.

We’ll get the Obadiah and Jonah wrap-ups up soon. God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 06, 2007

Ps 126 / Ob & Jnh / Amos wrap-up

Sometimes when we do something, there may be unintended consequences to our actions. Today as we read Psalm 126 we hear how the Lord’s returning the captives to Zion fills their mouths with laughter and songs of joy (vv.1-2). We also hear how the Lord’s returning the captives to Zion brings about an acknowledgment from the Gentile “nations” (ASV, NIV, NASB; “heathen” KJV) that the Lord has done great things for the exiles. I don’t think we want to say that the acknowledgment from the Gentiles was unintended, however. I also wonder whether or not the statement from the Gentiles is a confession of faith, for we know that the Gentiles’ coming to believe is an intended consequence to all the Lord’s acts of salvation (especially as expressed in the Psalter). The KJV’s and at least one commentator’s translation “heathen” does not completely decide the matter, but the third-person pronoun “them” in the statement of the heathen does seem to keep some distance between the speakers and God’s actions. Thank God that through His Word He has brought us to recognize that His saving work in Jesus Christ is for ethnic Jews and Gentiles alike and that we can freely receive the forgiveness of sins by faith in Jesus Christ. (You can find my previous posts on Psalm 126 by following this link.)

American Jewish artist Phillip Ratner’s depiction of Jonah in the belly of the great fishWe keep plowing through the so-called Minor Prophets today, with our reading of Obadiah and Jonah. Obadiah likely prophesied more to the southern kingdom of Judah around 855-840 B.C., and Jonah probably prophesied more to the northern kingdom of Israel around 785-775. Between the two, we must admit that Jonah is the more familiar to most people, even if it is only known for the account of Jonah in the belly of the great fish (as illustrated in the image with this post by American Jewish artist Phillip Ratner; to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it). You can find more about both Jonah and Obadiah and their significance for us here.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Obadiah and its place in the canon. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints Jonah 3:1-10 as the Old Testament reading on Ash Wednesday, but no hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to verses from Jonah or Obadiah.

Today I have an Amos wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The Holy Spirit inspired the prophecy of the book of Amos through a Bethlehem-area shepherd turned prophet named Amos.
What is the book? The book is God’s prophecy through Amos primarily to the northern kingdom of Israel but also to southern kingdom of Judah.
Where was it written? Being from Judah, Amos may have remained in Judah, but, given how much of his prophecy is directed at Israel, he may have prophesied in Israel as well, and, since Amos’s work ended before the Assyrian exile, there’s no reason that I know of to believe he did not finish his work in Israel.
When was it written? Amos dates his work to a kings of Judah and Israel, and approximate dates of 760-750 B.C. are sometimes placed on Amos’s work.
Why? As Judah and Israel prospered, their increasing idolatry and other immorality were accompanied by corruption of the judiciary and oppression of the poor, so Amos was sent to announce the nearing end of God’s patience.
How? Amos places a special emphasis on justice and reverses the prophets’ usual order of judgment on God’s people followed by judgment on the nations. Even as Amos gives an exceedingly bleak picture of the nation’s impending doom, he also does promise that David’s house will be revived and Israel restored.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Amos, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume X: Minor Prophets, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted March 1986. (There are some 104 pages on Amos.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 12 pages on Amos.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 05, 2007

Ps 125 / Am 6-9 / Upgrades

One of my students in my New Testament class followed up on our class’s discussion the other day of slavery and the New Testament. He dug up a sermon by an American abolitionist that argued, on the basis of passages like Deuteronomy 23:15-16 and Acts 5:28-29, that Christians should not obey the U.S. government’s fugitive slave law, since, the abolitionist claimed, slavery itself was immoral, although he didn’t deal with any of the New Testament passages specifically addressing slavery. Today as I read Psalm 125 and my previous posts on the psalm (which you can find by following this link), I was thinking about the matter again (see my post on the topic from last Saturday). Regardless of what we think about the abolition movement or even our current administration, the message of the psalm it that no wicked government, perhaps like that of the Persian rule over the land of Israel, will remain forever. Ultimately the scepter and the government it represents remain forever with the descendant of Judah named Jesus (Genesis 49:10 and Isaiah 9:6-7), Who rules all for the sake of His Church, that it might dispense the forgiveness of sins He won by His sacrificial life and death.

An unidentified photographer’s picture of a button promoting a ban on Sunday shoppingBanks, post offices and other government offices, and maybe most doctor’s offices are among the few places that are still closed on Sundays. Over the course of my lifetime it seems fewer and fewer places are staying closed. Is the change a direct assault on Christianity or a function of our frantic schedules during the week so that we feel we need to do more on what used to be more of a day of rest? (Or, does the devil convince us of the latter argument in order to make an indirect attack on Christianity?) The issue of shopping on Sundays is not only a contemporary issue, as evidenced by the image with this post (to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it), but today in our reading of Amos 6-9 we hear how it was also an issue then. (You can find my previous post on the whole reading here, and there is folo on Amos 9:14-15 here.) I can think of at least one business that is closed on Sundays, but we can hardly expect essential services like police, fire, and emergency medical care to completely shut down. We should prefer to be able to gather around Word and Sacrament on Sunday mornings in order to receive the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, but we do not want to judge too harshly those who are not able to come every Sunday. We should concentrate on those who so despise preaching and His Word that they come rarely if at all.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

Amos 6-9 does not provide any Old Testament readings for the historic 1-year lectionary nor apparently any hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal.

Our web host has been working on server upgrades over the weekend, and the upgrades have obviously taken longer than we were led to believe (apparently driving equipment to a new location 7 hours away) and have resulted in more down time than was expected and down time that has occurred during “prime time”. God being willing, we will not have these kind of interruptions again any time soon.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 04, 2007

Ps 124 / Amos 1-5 / Joel wrap-up

I’ve walked in the woods with some of my cousins who were hunting birds with guns, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen what I usually would think of as a fowler, someone who tries to catch birds with nets, either for sport or for food. The Oxford English Dictionary says the word “fowler” is now “rare”, but it is nevertheless used in several more-modern translations of passages such as Psalm 124 that we read today (the NIV and ESV are examples, but the NASB translates “trapper”). Regardless of its translation, one commentator says the figure of speech is an apt one for Israel’s release from its Babylonian captivity, and the figure of speech is also apt for all of the things that would ensnare us: the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. Thanks be to God that, through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, Who suffered and died for us, He enables us to finally overcome all such traps and escape ultimately to obtain the victory. (You can find more comments on Psalm 124 by following this link.)

An unidentified photographer’s picture of an unidentified depiction of Justice with her scalesAmos is sometimes called the “prophet of justice”, and in our reading today of Amos 1-5 we have a good example of why. In chapter 5, especially verses 7-17, we hear God through Amos blast the people for corrupting what should be just procedures and institutions. (The image with this post is a depiction of justice, about such you can read more here; to see a larger version of the image click it, but I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it.) When God’s teaching and worship are ignored, a perversion of His order seems inevitable. Only by turning from our sin and trusting in God for forgiveness for the sake of His Son Jesus Christ can we find true justice and righteousness. You can find more comments on today’s reading here.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from Amos 1-5, nor are there any hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal said to refer to verses from Amos 1-5.

Today I have a Joel wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? Joel, son of Pethuel, is presumably the person the Holy Spirit inspired to write the book.
What is the book? The book of Joel appears to contain prophecies God had him speak to Judah and Jerusalem, warning of their coming devastation, calling them to repent, and promising their restoration and blessing.
Where was it written? Given Joel’s concern with Judah and Jerusalem, it seems likely that he lived in or near the nation’s capital and probably wrote the book there.
When was it written? The book of Joel does not refer to any historical events that we can reliably date, and so the book is variously dated in the ninth or sixth centuries B.C. If we take its placement between Hosea and Amos as chronological, then we would take the earlier date, and there is a good case for doing so.
Why? The people of Judah and Jerusalem were increasingly unfaithful and were fooling themselves into thinking that the coming day of the Lord would bring judgment only to the other nations and that they would receive deliverance and blessing. Joel tells them that their unfaithfulness would be punished, too, and that their restoration and blessing would come only after their repentance.
How? Dr. Luther contrasts Joel’s pleading and lamenting with other prophets’ denouncing and rebuking, but Dr. Luther also observes how the people’s reactions to Joel’s work was similar to how they reacted to the other prophets: they did not believe him and regarded him as a fool.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Joel, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume X: Minor Prophets, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted March 1986. (There are some 64 pages on Joel.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 6 pages on Joel.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make it holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 03, 2007

Ps 123 / Joel / Hosea wrap-up

As I read Psalm 123 today, the mention of slaves caused me to stop and think a little bit, as it had one of the previous times I commented on the psalm (you can find those previous comments by following this link). In the New Testament class I teach at Concordia, we were discussing Colossians and Philemon Thursday, both of which discuss the relationships between slaves and masters. I told the class how growing up in the north I was surprised to learn, as I came to know the Bible better, that the New Testament tolerated slavery in the culture of the day. Certain preachers in the United States had used the Bible as a basis for their call to abolish slavery, but the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod held a position that at least some of those Bible passages neither approved of nor condemned slavery. (The Synod was founded in 1847 and based in Missouri, which had been admitted to the United States as a slave state according to the terms of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, not long before the Civil War broke out in 1861, although I am not suggesting the Synod’s position was only based on the politics of the day.) Of course, the New Testament also profoundly transformed the relationship between slaves and masters, so that at least one writer claims the New Testament brought an end to slavery (whether or not you and I might agree that slavery really has been brought to an end). We should never totally lose an appreciation of the relationship between slaves and masters, as not only are there references to it as in today’s psalm, but the New Testament also speaks about us as free from slavery to sin but now slaves to Christ’s righteousness, by grace through faith in Him.

Surrealist Salvador Dali’s depiction of a locustEvery year when the cicadas make their annual appearance you and I may think of the plague of locusts in Exodus 10:1-20. Although sometimes referred to as “locusts”, cicadas are technically unrelated to the kind of grasshoppers that plagued the Egyptians. We may or may not think of the book of Joel, which we read today, that also speaks at length about the swarming insects. (The image with this past is another gouache by Salvador Dali, this one depicting a locust; to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it.) You might not know that not only were the Egyptians plagued by locusts, but God in Deuteronomy 28:38 warned the Israelites with a curse of locusts if they disobeyed God’s commands. (The Hebrew word ’arbeh appears to be derived from the verb raba, which means “to become numerous”.) There is a lot more on the background of Joel and the contents of today’s reading here.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from Joel, but hymn #160 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Joel 2:12-19.

Today I have an Hosea wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The prophecies in the book of Hosea was inspired by the Holy Spirit through the son of Beeri named Hosea, the prophet who apparently was born and active in the northern kingdom (variously called “Israel” or “Samaria”) before the Assyrians destroyed it, although he may or may not have recorded them.
What is the book? The book records prophecies God made through Hosea during his at least 27 years of service.
Where was it written? The book may well have been finished in Judah after the fall of Samaria.
When was it written? Hosea’s dates of activity are given as 750-715 B.C., with the fall of the northern kingdom coming in 722 B.C., so the book was probably written some time after 722 if not after 715.
Why? God’s prophecy through Hosea calls people to repent from failing to acknowledge God and promises them compassion and love despite their previous failures, just as God calls us to repent and find forgiveness by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
How? Hosea’s family life is used to represent God’s relation to Israel early in the book. Also, imagery that recalls Israel’s exodus from Egypt and settlement of Canaan are used to describe Israel’s eventual return from exile. And, later the prophecy uses the father-child relationship to illustrate God’s intimate covenant relationship with His people.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Hosea, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume X: Minor Prophets, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted March 1986. (There are some 167 pages on Hosea.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 17 pages on Hosea.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

Our web host is still trying to make upgrades to its servers, so I’m sorry if you had trouble accessing the site last night or this morning. God bless your day today, and may you let Him make tomorrow holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 02, 2007

Ps 122 / Hos 11-14

Can we worship God wherever and however we want? In some sense surely we can say “yes”, but, instead of worshipping wherever and however we want, we worship God where and how He wants. Today in Psalm 122 we hear how the psalmist and those with him worshipped God in Jerusalem in keeping with the Lord’s description of their worship (v.4). We go to the Divine Service, gather around the purely preached Word and rightly administered Sacraments, to receive the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. That forgiveness leads us to respond with praise and thanksgiving. Worship is not about our praising God out of obedience to Him, but worship is about God forgiving our sins and our thanking and praising Him in response. (You can find my other comments on Psalm 122 by following this link.)

Giotto di Bondone’s depiction of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus’s flight to EgyptThere are various ways in which Jesus is, as the saying goes, Israel reduced to One. We find a good example of that today in Hosea 11-14, where in 11:1 God speaks of calling Israel, His son, out of Egypt. We can certainly understand that as referring back in history to the children of Israel being called out of slavery in Egypt. St. Matthew tells us that the passage also pointed forward to Jesus’s being called back from Egypt after fleeing there to escape Herod. The image with this post can be taken as showing that return, although Italian painter and architect Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337) titled it “Flight to Egypt” (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for a higher quality image see from where we got it, but for information about Giotto and a still better version of the image see here). There is also a sense in which we can understand the passage as referring to us and God calling us to faith in His Son so that we can be delivered out of our slavery to sin. For more on the whole reading see here.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints Hosea 13:14 for the Old Testament reading on Easter Monday and the Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity, but no hymn in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Hosea 11-14.

Our web host is going to try again tonight to upgrade its servers, so you may have trouble accessing the site late tonight or early tomorrow. God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

November 01, 2007

Ex 15:1-18 / Hos 8-10

When you think of drowning do you think of life or death? As we find drowning mentioned today in Exodus 15:1-18, the seasonal canticle for November, we certainly should think of death. In 15:4 not only are Pharaoh’s chariots and army cast into the Red Sea, but also his best, chosen officers, the third man in and probably the commander of each chariot, are drowned. They are killed or destroyed; that mention is literal death. The same Hebrew word taba` used in Exodus 15:4 is used in other Old Testament passages figuratively referring to people trapped in certain circumstances, such as indecision, sin, or despair. Such a death by drowning can lead to life, however. The Small Catechism teaches us to understand Baptism by water as signifying the daily need for our sinful nature to drown and die and a new person come forth and arise, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. With one of my New Testament students whose paper has to do with this topic, I’ve been reflecting on Baptism’s drowning as a way to life. There are other Hebrew words used for drowning, and at least one of them is used at least one time of a torrent of blessing that washes over us (Isaiah 66:12). We might also remember that while the flood of Noah drowned those who did not believe, the same flood saved those in the ark (1 Peter 3:20-21). Turning back to the seasonal canticle, we can rejoice that God makes sure our spiritual foes drown and die, foes that include our own sinful natures. You can find more comments on the seasonal canticle by following this link, and, although I don’t know how good it is because I haven’t seen it, there is an article titled “Life by Drowning: The Baptized Christian in the World” by Stephen Paul Bouman published in Lutheran Forum 22:3 (Reformation 1988), pages 16-22. Regardless, not bad things to think about on All Saints’ Day.

A 1752 depiction of Jeroboam’s golden calves by French painter and printmaker Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806)As I read Hosea 8-10 today, I was struck by the mention of the golden calves that Jeroboam set up years before in Bethel and Dan (specifically, in Hosea 8:5-6 and see 1 Kings 12:28-33). Jeroboam probably reigned from 930-909 B.C., and Hosea probably prophesied from 750-715 B.C., so probably at least 159 years have passed. But, the people in Jeroboam’s kingdom of Samaria never turned from that sin and only sank deeper into sin. (The image with this post is a 1752 depiction of Jeroboam sacrificing to one of those golden calves by French painter and printmaker Jean-Honoré Fragonard, who lived from 1732-1806 and is said to be known for his hedonistic manner and paintings with veiled eroticism; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) You can see why we should be concerned about sin that leads to false teaching and practice, as they are often difficult to reverse. Yet, we know that by grace through faith in Jesus Christ there is forgiveness for all our sin when we do repent. (You can find more comments on today’s reading of Hosea 8-10 here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

Hosea 8-10 is used neither by the historic 1-year lectionary for any Old Testament readings nor by any hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM