Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Second Pass at This Sunday's Bible Lessons (February 24, 2008)

[To see what these "passes" are about, go to this week's first one, here.]

[General Comments, continued]
9. Psalm 95: Artur Weiser writes in his commentary on this psalm:
[This] song [was] that portion of a liturgy of the autumn festival in which Yahweh [God's Name, as revealed to Moses, meaning I AM] is revealed as the Creator and Lord of the universe (vv. 4 f), enters upon his reign as King (v. 3) and renews the covenant he made with his people by pledging them anew to keep the commandments he ordained in that covenant (v. 7)...[The] psalm...[was probably] recited before the festival congregation entered the sanctuary (vv. 2, 6). In its first part (vv. 1-7a) it contains a hymn preparing the congregation for their impending encounter with God, the Creator and Lord of the covenant; the second part (vv. 7b-11) comprises a warning from God, calling upon them to obey him and ending in a grave, almost threatening prospect...
10. This psalm is all about the encounter between God and His people that should happen each time we worship.

11. Verse 8 contains a call not to make the same mistake that the Israelites made in the wilderness when they cried out for water, hardening their hearts to God.

12. Romans 5:1-11: William Loader's explanation of this passage is worth reading. It's here. I love this insight from him:
Paul is never far away from dealing with the objections of his critics. One of them is that he is unimpressive and has too many adversities to be able to claim a victorious life with God. Paul meets this objection by turning the complaint upside down. He glories in the fact of suffering. It is the shape of Christ's life and for Paul Christ's life gives shape to ours. His is not a spirituality which guarantees happiness. The peace of which he speaks means something quite different from the absence of conflict. Paul's point of reference is the cross. There he sees God revealed. There he also sees humanity revealed: love poured out.
Contrary to what some so-called Christian preachers say, being a follower of Jesus Christ and living the victorious Christian life doesn't mean all will go well, that we'll be financially succesful, or pain-free. In fact, following Christ will sometimes bring pain and adversity. If you're following Jesus, you can expect the devil and the evil in which this world is immersed will push back. But none of that can destroy the peace we have with God, a peace that begins here and is perfected in eternity.

[More on Friday, I hope.]

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