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God desires your salvation

“‘I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘Therefore turn and live!’”

(Ezekiel 18:32)

 

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Prophet-ReflectingIt may seem as so few hear the call! God sent His prophets in the Old Testament, to preach to them the Law and the Gospel, and yet few heeded. God desires the salvation of all, yet even some who call themselves Christians remain numb to the hearing and studying of God’s Holy Word, partaking of Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper, and attending God’s house on Sunday morn to receive God’s free and unconditional gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation.

We are not too far removed from the people of God in the Old Testament, who even claimed that God’s way was unjust. He condemned the righteous and forgave the wicked. According to their faith, so it was. Those who had “done good,” yet remained in their sin were judged. Those who had done evil, yet repented, these stood in God’s favor.

Such ways do not align with sinners. We reason that God should look at the good that we have done (or tried to do), and relent. We also reason that the “bad” of former times cannot be fully amended by a “change” of heart or action (i.e. How naturally we say that we are better than criminals before God and that the worst of “sinners” do not “deserve” God’s forgiveness!).

However, God’s way is not our way, nor is our way His (Isaiah 55:8-9). He is just to forgive and merciful to the undeserving. In fact, none deserve God’s mercy. Rather, we ought to merit His wrath. But for the sake of Christ, you stand in God’s good and divine blessing. In Christ, you have already died to your sin, and do die daily as you remember your Holy Baptism, drowning the old man on putting on the new (Romans 6:1-14). You now live by faith in Christ your Savior. And so living, you now also desire to live according to Christ’s Word, abiding by the will of God, hearing and studying the sacred Text, and partaking of Christ’s body and blood given for you for the forgiveness of all of your sins.

In Christ, you live a new life, daily. You continue to struggle, but in your struggle, you are not solo. God provides the means by which to sustain you—Word and Sacrament. Only do not forsake, ignore, or despise these means as is the manner of some, even of those who considered themselves to be the people of God in the Old Testament and today, who think that they can manage by themselves and continue to live as they please. They were chastened for their unbelief, for that’s what their actions demonstrated. This is why the Lord sent His prophets. And those who did heed the call, these sought to change their ways and turned to the Lord in repentance, looking to the heavenly Father for mercy, and in the promise of God in Christ, had it with certainty. Amen.

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Claims about the doctrine of Sola Scriptura originating with Martin Luther

Sola Scriptura

It is held by some that “The doctrine of Sola Scriptura originated with Martin Luther, the 16th-century German monk who broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and started the Protestant ‘Reformation.’[1]  Part of this is true.  Dr. Luther was a 16th-century German monk (of the Augustinian order).  However, the Roman Catholic Church excommunicated Luther for his teachings.

 

Claims about the doctrine of Sola Scriptura originating with Martin Luther

 

A brief examination of the New Testament will demonstrate that the teaching of Sola Scriptura did not originate with Martin Luther.  Though I’m not aware that the phrase Sola Scriptura was used before Luther’s time, the doctrine was in practice before Luther.

Jesus says, for example, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think that you eternal life, and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).  Here, Jesus was speaking with Jews, the people of His day.  Note that He references the Scriptures, which are the Old Testament writings.  He says that these writings testify of Him.  He says the same elsewhere, too (i.e. Luke 24).

The angel Gabriel, who visited both Zechariah in the temple, concerning the birth of John the baptizer (the forerunner of Christ), through the womb of his wife Elizabeth, and who also visited the virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus the Lord, testified to them of what was to come using the Old Testament.

The preaching of the apostles after Christ’s ascension was the preaching of Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins.  Significantly, they claimed that this proclamation, and their teaching, did not derive from tradition, but was founded on the Old Testament.  They were claiming, therefore, that Christ was not only the one prophesied in the Old Testament, but that He had fulfilled those prophecies (i.e. Acts 2ff).

These few examples draw attention to where Gabriel, Jesus, and the early church recognized the origination of true doctrine to come, not from tradition or a human figure (i.e. the pope), but from God alone, through Holy Scripture (the Bible).  This is especially noteworthy, because such a claim equates the Bible with God’s Word.  This means that the denial of the Bible as the only authority is also the denial of God’s Word, from which God makes Himself known to us through Jesus Christ.  And the denial of the Bible, God’s Word, as the only authority for faith and life, leads to the denial of salvation by God’s grace alone, through Christ alone, through faith alone, all three, for these teachings the Holy Scriptures clearly teach.


[1] Peters, 2.

Readings for Easter Tuesday (C)

 Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_An_Allegory_of_the_Old_and_New_Testaments_-_Google_Art_Project600

 

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, through the resurrection of Your Son You have secured peace for our troubled consciences.  Grant us this peace evermore that trusting in the merit of Your Son we may come at last to the perfect peace of heaven; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Old Testament: Daniel 3:8–28

8At that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. 9They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

      13Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. 14Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

      16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

      19Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

      24Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

      26Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.

Second Reading: Acts 13:26–33

26“Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. 27For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30But God raised him from the dead, 31and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 32And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’”

Gospel: Luke 24:36–49

36As [the disciples] were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them,  “Peace to you!” 37But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38And he said to them,  “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them,  “Have you anything here to eat?” 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate before them.

      44Then he said to them,  “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them,  “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Readings for Easter Evening (C)

EmmausRoad

Collect of the Day

O God, in the paschal feast You restore all creation.  Continue to send Your heavenly gifts upon Your people that they may walk in perfect freedom and receive eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Old Testament: Exodus 15:1–18

1Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.  2The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.  3The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name.

        4“Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea, and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea.  5The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone.  6Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.  7In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries; you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble.  8At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up; the floods stood up in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.  9The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.  I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’  10You blew with your wind; the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters.

        11“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?  Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?  12You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them.

        13“You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.  14The peoples have heard; they tremble; pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia.  15Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed; trembling seizes the leaders of Moab; all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.

        16Terror and dread fall upon them; because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone, till your people, O Lord, pass by, till the people pass by whom you have purchased.  17You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain, the place, O Lord, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established.  18The Lord will reign forever and ever.”

Second Reading: Acts 10:34–43

34Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Gospel: Luke 24:13–35

13That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them,  “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19And he said to them,  “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25And he said to them,  “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

      28So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

The Old Testament and Christ

In St. Luke’s Gospel, the 24th Chapter, Jesus once again links His Word and His work to the Old Testament.  Significantly, Jesus once again confesses and testifies that the Old Testament finds its fulfillment in Him.

St. John the Evangelist records Jesus as saying, “You continue to search/examine the Scriptures (Old Testament writings), because you think in them you have eternal life, and those are they which testify about me” (John 5:39, own translation).  Here, Jesus is saying that all the Old Testament is about Him.

Certainly, God does make known how He created the world in six days (Genesis 1), how He delivered His enslaved people from bondage in Egypt under Pharaoh to the Promised land (Exodus 5ff), how He sent prophet after prophet to idolatrous Israel that they repent  (2 Chronicles 24:19) , how  Israel divided into two kingdoms (Judah-South; Israel-North) and was later taken over by ungodly nations, and how God promised deliverance to His people (Ezekiel 34:23; 37:23).

Through the Old Testament Scripture, God reveals the history of the world and His people.  However, the Old Testament is not limited to these histories alone.  The three sections of the Old Testament writings, which Jesus also designates as the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings are  all about Him.  They point to Him.  They find their fulfillment in Him.  They have their completion in Him.

The Law of Moses, also known as the Torah and the Pentateuch, consist of the first five books of the Old Testament.  But even beginning in Genesis (3:15), a deliverer and savior is promised and described.  (See also, for example, Genesis 12:3; 17:2 & Exodus 13:2 w/ Luke 2:21, 22-24; Deuteronomy 18:15-22; Exodus 12 w/ Luke 22:1, 7, 14-23).

These books of the Old Testament may  not explicitly name who the coming savior is, but they do indeed make known what He will do and for whom He will speak, albeit partially, though truly.  For the whole picture, we must also look at the other two sections of the Old Testament writings, the Prophets, and the Writings, and then also look throughout the New Testament to see how Jesus speaks of how He fulfills the Old Testament in the Gospels, and then how the apostles in their letters further reveal  these life-saving truths, centering on Jesus Christ as Savior of the world from sin and eternal death.

Especially in the Prophets, God reveals the coming one.  Read Isaiah 53, for example.  Allusions also abound, as in Daniel 3:25.  Jonah, too, in the belly of the fish for three days and for three nights, typifies Jesus death and burial (Jonah 1:17 w/ Matthew 12:40).  I encourage you also to read and study the Old Testament references given in connection to Luke 1:31-33 (i.e. Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; 16:5; Jeremiah 23:5-6 <also Matthew 1:21-23>Writings—2 Samuel 7:12-13, 15-16; Psalm 132:11).

St. Luke, in writing the Acts of the Apostles, also testifies how Christ fulfills the Old Testament (i.e. Acts 3:18 w/ Isaiah 50:6-7 <Luke 9:51>; Zechariah 13:6.  Hosea also speaks of “the third day” (Hosea 6:2).

The Writings, too, witness the coming One (Messiah).  These include Job (Job 19:25) the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Historical Books (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, etc.).  See Psalm 22: 1 w/Matthew 27:46 and Psalm 16:8-11, 68:18, & 110:1 w/ Acts 2:22-36.

The Old Testament together mightily witnesses of the Coming One.  The individual references in the Old Testament do not give the entire picture of the Messiah as do the Gospels, but they do point to Him and in Christ they find their fulfillment.

Both on the road to Emmaus and with His disciples later that Easter Day in Luke 24, Jesus opens the meaning of the Old Testament Scriptures, also to us.  His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection on the third day all are spoken of in the Old Testament.  This does not mean, however, that the three sections, the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings, all speak about Jesus in exactly the same way or give similar testimony.  Far from implying any contradiction, which is not a characteristic of Holy Scripture in any sense, this simply suggests complementary testimony within the text.   Jonah and Hosea, for example, speak of three days, but Moses may not.

I might also add that, when reading the Old Testament, reference to Christ might not be immediately clear from the text itself.  However, Christ and the Apostles, then, point to how they are.  This should not be understood as to suggest that the First Testament is in any way deficient in its witness.   Remember, Christ had not appeared until John the Baptist came on the scene, who is sometimes understood as the last of the Old Testament prophets (Malachi 3:1 & Isaiah 40:3-5 w/ Luke 3:2-6).  Rather ought we to see the Old Testament Scripture pointing to and centered on the Savior to come and finding its fulfillment in Him who died and rose again from the dead on the third day.

Jesus a number of times foretold His upcoming suffering, death, and resurrection while He was still with His disciples (i.e. Luke 9:21-22; 43-45; 18:31-34).  In the latter two references, Luke indicates that the disciples had not understood  what Jesus was saying.  Therefore, the sorrow of the two disciples on the third day (Luke 24:17) corresponds with the other disciples who were fearful of the Jews after Jesus’ death.  Their sorrow also demonstrates their unbelief and the unbelief of the other disciples concerning Jesus’ word about His resurrection three days after His death. They still hadn’t gotten it, that is, until Jesus opened their understanding (Luke 24:27, 45).  It is the same way with us.  If we fail to see and believe that the Old and New Testament Scriptures center on Jesus and are about Him and our salvation in Him, the Bible will continue to remain a closed book.

 “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31).


Sent of God

1Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. 4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. . . .

      10When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. (Jonah 3:1–5, 10)

 

The account of Jonah is a familiar one.  Both to those inside the church and to those outside the church, the account of Jonah is almost immediately recognized.  I use the word ‘account’ because that word ‘story’ is understood by some as referring to something that is not true.  Even here in this place there might be at least one, if not more, who believe that Jonah was never swallowed by a great fish, though the Bible reveals this to be so.  And certainly this is the case outside of these walls.  At schools, colleges, and universities, as well as in our communities, and dare I say, even in many churches, it would be correct to assume that many students and faculty, members and even clergy alike discount Jonah as legend, myth, and a historical, not having much if anything to do with reality.

I say these things to you now, not because you don’t know them, but because you do, in order to remind you what you already know, that not everyone takes the Word of God as God says, and that you may be aware of the unbelief that is out there, and then, with God helping you, to stand firm on what God has made known, not that which is based on fantasy, but that which is founded on God’s work and God’s action in history that we might know and believe in Jesus.

When we read Holy Scripture, we don’t come at it like it’s just any other book.  However, the Bible is, generally speaking, questioned as to its historicity, its literality, its truthfulness, and its application, even within Christendom itself.  Many mainline church bodies, though they may say that the Bible is God’s Word, at the same time declare that what is written in it is not historically accurate.  But if not historically accurate, how can it be God’s Word?  God to be God means that He speaks only the truth.  If the Bible is not true, how are we to trust what’s recorded in it?  Some say that the Bible is not to be taken as it says.  But if that’s the case, is any of it to be taken at face value, and if so, what part is and what part isn’t?  Some say that what’s in the Bible doesn’t have to do so much with real events, people, and times, but more importantly, the meaning behind the stories.  The important thing to many today, with regard to the Bible, is not whether or not the things really happened, but how the Bible makes one feel, what it says to me, how it makes one a better person, or the effect it has on one’s life, not in the sense of recognizing one’s sin, confessing that sin, and then believing in God’s promises through Jesus Christ for eternal life, but in the sense of how one’s life might be improved only in the here and now.  The emphasis has become less on eternity and more on present – one’s personal life – not how one stands before God, but how one sees oneself in relation to self or others.

The pursuit of happiness and contentment with oneself has become the ultimate goal, it might seem.  And many see the Bible only as a means to that end.  But in doing so, however, those who use the Word of the Lord for their own gain not only miss the mark with reference to God’s Word and its application.  They also are placing themselves in God’s shoes and taking His place as Lord rather than hearing the text as God’s, through which He makes His will known – what we are to believe and how we are to live.

When it comes to the Bible and the words therein, even to the text before us of Jonah, it is not for us, or for anyone, to question the revelation, proclamation, declaration, condemnation, or salvation of the Lord God who gives such testimony, not for Himself, but for our sakes, that we read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest what He has both said and done for us, even for people like us who want to be first in line ahead of God and the definer of our own destinies.

When it comes to the Bible, the historicity of the event is not to be divorced from the meaning of the text and vice versa.  If it is, you end up with myths like the Greeks and Romans.  If it is, then you have theories like evolution, unbelief in the crossing of the Red Sea on dry land by the Israelites when the Egyptians were chasing them, a virgin-less birth, and ultimately, a God-less Jesus, who was crucified, not to pay the debt for the world’s sins and yours and mine, but who died to be only an example of selflessness and to show us how we ought to be towards others, ‘turning the other cheek and loving our enemies.’  If the Bible is not true in all of its words, then what is recorded in it is not true.  If, as some believe, the Bible is only what we make out of it or get from it, then man has become god and God is no longer God.

Instead of placing ourselves above the Word, we humble ourselves before it.  And instead of deluding ourselves with the notion that it doesn’t apply to us, we yield to it, for not only does God justly condemn sin – He also has removed that judgment from us and has placed it upon His Son.

God makes knows His workings in the world through Scripture, not only His judgment and anger, but especially His mercy and His patience.  Jonah said it this way, I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm (Jonah 4:2).  Ironically, this is why Jonah ran away from God the first time.

In our text it says, Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time (Jonah 3:1).  For the word of the Lord to come to Jonah the second time implies that it came to him a first time.  And a first time it did.  And that word to Jonah the first time was this, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me (Jonah 1:2).

God was calling Jonah, one of his prophets, to go to a specific place, to a specific people, and to proclaim a specific message.  God had called Jonah to go to Nineveh, and to preach repentance to her citizens, because destruction was soon to come upon them because of their wickedness.  But instead of going in the direction God had told him to go, he went the other way.  He tried to avoid God’s calling, and that’s why Jonah ended up in the water.

But even though Jonah fled from God, God had other plans for him.  God would use Jonah as His instrument to declare judgment upon the people of Nineveh, whether Jonah wanted to or not.  [God uses us for His purposes even if we don’t know them (i.e. doctors, judges, teachers, parents, etc.).]  And so God did use Jonah for His purpose.  Jonah did go to Nineveh after being in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.  And Jonah did preach the message that God told him to preach.  And the people did turn from their sinful ways.  And the Lord did relent from destroying wicked Nineveh, for they confessed that they were sinners, and they believed in God for deliverance.

What Jonah said of God was true, He is the gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm (Jonah 4:2).  It was because of this that Jonah tried to avoid going to Nineveh as God’s prophet.  Jonah desired God’s grace and His mercy, but only for the people of Israel.  The unbelieving nations, such as the wicked Ninevites, did not deserve God’s kindness.  They deserved His wrath.  Jonah wished God’s goodness only for himself and his people and no one else.

This was a commonly held position in Israel.  And it is also one found among us.  We too, like Jonah, know God to be gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and One who relents from doing harm.  We have come to know this through the One who himself said of Jonah, As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:40).  Through the One who himself was three days and nights in the tomb after being hung on the cross, we ourselves have come to know that God is Good (Psalm 73:1), that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16), and that God forgives the sinner (Luke 5:21; Acts 5:31).

Though we don’t deserve God’s favor or kindness, even because of our confessing our sins to Him, and though we ourselves deserve instead to be overthrown than be delivered, the Son of God substituted His holy life for our wickedness.  Jesus gave His life for ours in death. And the Father has accepted His life and His death in our stead.

But this Good News is not just for us.  The Good News of God is not just for God’s people.  It’s for all and everyone.  For God so loved the World (John 3:16).  God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19).  ‘The world,’ says St. Paul.  ‘The world,’ says Jesus.  God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).

And how does God go about saving people and bringing them to the knowledge of the truth?  How did people in the days of the Apostles hear about Jesus?  How did the Ninevites in Jonah’s day hear about the coming destruction because of their wickedness?  God made it known to them.  There were those sent of God to proclaim such news.  There were those sent of God to declare God’s judgment and God’s peace.  And still today does God still send.  Still today there are those sent of God to speak His unadulterated and true Word.  And still today do God’s people confess His Name and Proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).

How did you come to know of Christ and His love?  How did you come to believe in Him as your Savior?  It was through the Word of the Lord that you came to faith. It was through the Word preached and spoken to you that you believed.  And it is through that same Word by which you remain and continue in true faith.  And it is through that same word by which others hear, repent, and believe.

Give thanks, then, that God has so opened your eyes to see your sin and opened them that you see clearly your Savior Jesus Christ.  Give thanks for those whom God has sent and for those God does send.  Give thanks that the Good News of sins forgiven is not just for you, but for all people.  For just as others don’t deserve God’s forgiveness, neither do you.  But neither they nor you are forgiven because of deserving it. Rather it is because of Christ, and Christ alone.

Rather than run away from God and His call to serve Him and serve others, because of Christ, wherever you are, whether near or far, here or there, be faithful to our Lord.  Hear His Word.  Know that you are not your own, but were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 7:23).  You were washed with water and Word in Holy Baptism.  Also know that God’s goodness to you in Christ extends also to your neighbor.  On that account, as God is towards you in Christ, forgiving you your sins freely and showing you His kindness, so ought you to show that same kindness to others.  As God loves you, so ought you to love one another – freely, unconditionally, unreservedly, and continually (1 John 4:11).  Amen.

The date of the Law Code of Hammurabi and The Ten Commandments

The date of the Law Code of Hammurabi and The Ten Commandments

The importance of dating for archeology[1] cannot be underestimated.  However, dating does not give the definitive answer to human inquiry.  Take for example the Law Code of Hammurabi, (Hammurabi was a king who reigned in Babylonia between 1792 and 1750 B.C.).

The Ten Commandments, also known as The Decalogue, are traditionally estimated to have been given around 1446 B.C.  Others estimate a later date (i.e. 1290 B.C.).[2] Regardless of the acceptance of either date, the dating indicates that Ten Commandments came after the Law Code of Hammurabi.  This has led some to the conclusion that The Ten Commandments were borrowed from Hammurabi’s Law Code.

Nevertheless, dating only demonstrates timing, not necessarily influence.  It gives a chronology, but it does not lay the foundation.

Resemblances between the two do exist.  But a D. Thomas states that, “Despite many resemblances, there is no ground for assuming any direct borrowing by the Hebrew from the Babylon.  Even where the two sets of laws differ little in the letter, they differ much in the spirit…”[3]

Thomas’ assessment, I believe, is correct.  Similarity does not always imply dependence.  Especially is this so with the Commandments and Hammurabi’s Code.

The Old Testament Scriptures make known that God Himself gave the Commandments to His people through Moses (Exodus 20).  Any question or doubt of this assertion is a question or doubt of the Old Testament Scriptures.  And any question or doubt cast upon the Old Testament Scriptures (and/or upon the New) is a question or doubt cast upon its One Holy Author.[4]

Dating items of antiquity does not either prove or disprove the Bible to be God breathed and God give.  Neither does archeology.  What archeology can do is to estimate the dates of documents and artifacts, make assessments of the land and its people in comparison with those living at or around the same time, and draw theoretical conclusions where the evidence is lacking.

Dating, as in archeology, is a helpful tool concerning peoples and cultures of the past.  However, archeology has limitations, as does the Bible.  The Bible is not a science text book.  It is not a ‘how-to’ book to better oneself.  It is a book through which God reveals the Savior, Jesus Christ (John 20:31).

Archeology has its sphere, and it is helpful and useful as long as it remains there.  But where archeology and other disciplines cross their respective boundaries, mischief against God and His Word and His ways more clearly appear, as do those of any who wish to discredit the Scriptures, God, and Christ.


[1] ar·chae·ol·o·gy

/ˌɑrkiˈɒlədʒi/ –noun

1. the scientific study of historic or prehistoric peoples and their cultures by analysis of their artifacts, inscriptions, monuments, and other such remains, esp. those that have been excavated.

2. Rare . ancient history; the study of antiquity.(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/archeology)

[2]Robert G. Hoerber (Ed.), Concordia Self-Study Bible, New International Version, (St. Louis: CPH), 83-84.

[3] D. Winton Thomas (ed.), Documents from Old Testament Times (New York: Harper Touchbooks, 1958), 28.

[4] “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (1 Timothy 3:16); “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came

by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

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