July 13, 2011

Thursday after the Third Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 94, Judges 7:1-8, Lk. 7:18-35
Evening - Ps. 111, 114, Neh. 9:32, Acts 15:1-12

Commentary

Tonight's reading continues the sermon begun in Nehemiah 9:5. The sermon is basically a short summary of the history of the Jewish people in light of the Covenant of God. I encourage you to include verses 16-31 in your reading because they shed important light on the conclusion drawn in verse 33, "Thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly." This conclusion is continued in verses 34 and 35 which confess that kings and people, and even the priests of Israel have not kept the Covenant, "neither turned they from their wicked works." Because of their sin the people are servants in their own land (36). They are not a free and independent nation, they are part of the Persian Empire and subject to its king. They are forced to pay taxes to support Persia (37).

It is not just their ancestors who have sinned, the present generation is just as guilty (37). They have not kept the Covenant. The days of hearing the Law read and expounded to them have shown them how far they have strayed from the Covenant. So they are confessing their sin and turning back to God, turning back to the Covenant He made with them. Verse 38 is the beginning of a list of Jews who intend to keep the Covenant. These people have made a covenant to keep the Covenant.

This is a tremendous occasion. It represents a true desire to be a Jew in heart as well as ethnicity. The signers of this covenant will not be satisfied with only the outward forms of the faith. Their hearts and lives are now devoted to God, and they intend to serve Him by keeping the letter and the spirit of the Covenant.

Every Christian has made a covenant to keep the Covenant. I do not mean we have promised to offer sacrifices and move to Jerusalem. We have become keepers of the Covenant as it is fulfilled in Christ Jesus. We have confessed our sins and trusted in Him as our peace offering and atonement sacrifice to God. We have returned to Him and now dwell in Him and live a new life in Him in which we keep His commandments, and love His people.

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