MVOPC 3 August 2014
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 4 “All Praise to God Who Reigns Above”
Confession of Sin
Most holy and merciful Father; We acknowledge and confess before You; Our sinful nature prone to evil and slothful in good; And all our shortcomings and offenses. You alone know how often we have sinned; In wandering from Your ways; In wasting Your gifts; In forgetting Your love. But You, O Lord, have pity upon us; Who are ashamed and sorry for all wherein we have displeased You. Teach us to hate our errors; Cleanse us from our secret faults; And forgive our sins for the sake of Your dear Son. And O most holy and loving Father; Help us we beseech You; To live in Your light and walk in Your ways; According to the commandments of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Hebrews 8:10-12
Old Covenant Reading: Leviticus 25:23-46
New Covenant Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15
Hymn of Preparation: 463 “A Debtor to Mercy Alone”
Sermon Text: Leviticus 25:47-55
Sermon: God Cares for the Poor through His People
Hymn of Response: 80 “Lord, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee”
Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 845)
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 429 “Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured”
PM Worship: 1 Samuel 28:3-25 – When Yahweh is Your Enemy
Adult Sunday School: Jesus Christ Mediator and Prophet: Larger Catechism 41-43
CATECHISM Q/A FOR THE WEEK: Shorter Catechism #58
Q. 58. What is required in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy sabbath to himself.
Monday (7/28) Read and discuss Leviticus 25:23-46. Philip Eveson writes:
The poor person in this section has probably become a tenant farmer, renting his former farmland from the creditor and therefore continuing the make a living under the creditor’s authority and protection. In this case, where the creditor has the upper hand, he must remember that, though the Israelite may be in the same kind of state as a resident alien and foreign tenant, he not only deserves the sort of courtesies shown to them but he is actually ‘your brother,’ a member of God’s holy nation, ‘one of your brethren.’ Therefore the creditor must not charge him interest on debts owed, or sell food to him for a profit, as was allowed in the case of foreigners. In other words, the whole covenant community was to consider itself a family, caring for each other as brothers and sisters, with no one taking advantage of a fellow Israelite’s calamity in order to make a quick gain. Loaning money for business enterprises is quite a different situation from the one envisaged here. The poor are not to be exploited.
They are also to remember that they live under the all-seeing eye of God. Any unbrotherly action, even if it lies outside the jurisdiction of the courts, will not go unpunished by God. They are called to fear God. Devotion to God is an important motive in showing compassion towards fellow countrymen in distress. It is an expression of loving one’s neighbor as oneself. To further impress upon the people the importance of these laws, God identifies himself as the one who revealed himself in all his glorious majesty at the time of the Exodus, who acted graciously towards them by redeeming them from Egyptian slavery to bring them into the land of promise and who entered into a special relationship with them to be their God. In a similar way, new-covenant people are to behave generously towards all, and especially to believers. The early Christians were quick to take up the principle of helping poor widows and the needy saints in Jerusalem.
Read or sing Hymn: 4 “All Praise to God Who Reigns Above” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in Iraq as they continue to suffer horrible persecution and crimes against humanity by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Tuesday (7/29) Read and discuss Read Leviticus 25:1-23. One of the most striking things about today’s passage is realizing that there is no evidence that Israel ever celebrated the Sabbatical Year and the Year of Jubilee prior to the Babylonian exile in 586 B.C. Of course, even if Israel began to rigorously practice the Sabbatical Year and the Year of Jubilee they would only be embracing a sign as it pointed forward to a far greater fulfillment for which the remnant longed. Then, one day, …
… [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Our Lord was announcing that He is the reality that the Law and the Prophets were pointing forward to. Jesus is our Jubilee! In Him we have perfect freedom and the redemption of our sins. … But, and this is a critical but, that is only true for those who love and trust Him. Where does this leave us? It leaves us with the knowledge that today’s passage is about becoming dependently wealthy. It is about recognizing that eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it even entered into the hearts of man the things that God has prepared for those who love Him. The LORD is that generous and that good. Jesus owns everything. That is wonderful news for those who love and trust Him and it is dreadful news for those who refuse to trust Him. And there is only one question that you must answer: Which are you? Prayer: Ask that the LORD would stretch your faith so that you would rest more and more in Him.
Wednesday (7/30) Read and discuss Leviticus 25:47-55. Philip Eveson writes:
This piece of legislation emphasizes that both the people of Israel and the land of Canaan belong solely to the Lord. Neither the one nor the other can be sold permanently. Individual Israelites and portions of the land may be leased for a certain period of time under special conditions, but neither can be sold. The people and the land belong together in the purposes of God. In the next chapter we see how the final covenant curse affects this union and the future realization of God’s promises.
This is a most amazing piece of legislation to safeguard against abject poverty. Scholars of various backgrounds are agreed that these laws were the most humane and socially advanced in the ancient Near East. Indeed, we could add that they are the most enlightened laws in any society, past or present. They were intended to prevent the wealth of the nation from accumulating in the hands of a few. …
The sad fact is that it did not work, not because the laws were unsound, but because of Israel’s failure to obey. Despite God’s goodness towards them and the motives for obedience that are spelled out in the legislation, the Israelites failed to honor their obligations. These laws remained an unfulfilled ideal. The prophets warn those who ‘join house to house, who add field to field, till there is no place where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land’ (Isa 5:8), or who ‘sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals’ (Amos 2:6).
Read or sing Hymn 463 “A Debtor to Mercy Alone” Prayer: The war on poverty announced by President Johnson has not eradicated poverty in our country which is one of the wealthiest nations in the history of the world. Pray that the LORD would work in our nation so that we would find ways to genuinely lift many families out of poverty.
Thursday (7/31) Read and discuss 2 Corinthians 8:1-15. Scott Hafemann writes:
The example of the Macedonians is still instructive today. In a radical role reversal of the world’s values, the abundance of their poverty, fueled by the riches of their joy in God, led to a wealth of generosity. We usually think of “fund raisers” as encouraging those who can afford to give to give more; in the Macedonian churches those who had nothing begged to give. Why? Paul’s answer is the grace of God. Indeed, the “also” of 8:7 shows that giving is just as much a spiritual gift of grace as any of the other charismatic gifts the Corinthians had received. Giving is not merely an expression of compassion for the needy. Nor is it simply a reflection of our own concern. Rather the spiritual gift of grace as any of the other charismatic gifts the Corinthians had received. Giving is not merely an expression of compassion for the needy. Nor is it simply a reflection of our own concern. Rather, the spiritual gift of giving to others is to be the reflex of our own joy in the grandeur of God’s gift to us in Christ. As we have seen, the Macedonians’ joy led to giving, not the other way around. For this reason, throughout Paul’s discussion, the collection is termed a “grace” and a “ministry!”
Read or Sing Hymn: 80 “Lord, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would grant you a generous heart.
Friday (8/1) Read and discuss 1 Samuel 28:3-25. Dale Ralph Davies writes:
The most hopeless misery in all of life is to be abandoned by God. What the narrative had already reported Saul himself miserably confirms in verse 15: “I am in terrible distress; the Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me and does not answer me any more, not by prophets or by dreams.” Certainly as king, responsible for the leadership of Yahweh’s people, Saul would normally have the privilege of Yahweh’s direction for battle. Now, however, he can hear the shouts of the Philistines but not the voice of Yahweh. He faces the crisis of his life and God has nothing to say to him. Some of the saddest words in all Scripture are printed in 1 Samuel 28:15.
Samuel explains that Yahweh is carrying out what Samuel had previously declared – tearing the kingdom from Saul and giving it to his neighbor (here David is openly identified as Saul’s replacement; v. 17). Why is Yahweh mute? Samuel harks back to the episode of chapter 15: “As you did not listen to the voice of Yahweh and did not carry out his hot anger against Amalek – therefore, Yahweh has done this thing to you today” (v. 18). Samuel picks up the key word from chapter 15, to “listen,” to “hear.” There Saul confirmed the tragic tendency he had show in chapter 13. In chapter 15 he tailored Yahweh’s command to his own and the people’s preferences. Saul would have called it accommodation; Samuel called it rebellion. Saul thought it prudence; Samuel labeled it stubbornness. Perhaps Saul like to think he had only reinterpreted Yahweh’s word; Samuel charged that he had simply rejected Yahweh’s word (see 15:22-23). “You did not listen.” That is the explanation for Yahweh’s absence.
The text is not gentle but it is clear: If you despise God’s word he will take it from you. If you persistently refuse to obey God’s speech you will endure God’s silence.
Prayer: Please pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel.
Saturday (8/2) Read and discuss Leviticus 25:23-46. John Currid writes:
In Exodus 21:3-4, the laws of the six-year indenture preclude the release of the bound worker’s family if they are acquired during his servitude. They must remain with the master. But in the year of jubilee, everyone is released who has not taken a vow of permanent servitude. All of them will return to the clan, and to the familial land holdings that have also been released during the jubilee.
Bound employees are not to be dealt with ‘harshly’. This is a rare term in the Old Testament, but it is used in Exodus 1:13 of the type of affliction imposed on the Israelites by the Egyptians. A sense of irony dominates: Israel is not to treat here servants in the manner that the Egyptians had treated them.
The theological foundation for the way in which the Hebrews deal with servants is set out here. The Hebrews are God’s ‘servants’, or ‘slaves’; they are his property. He took them out of slavery in Egypt to become his servants/slaves. That is an important concept – the only permanent and true master that a Hebrew has is God. Daube puts it this way: ‘So as a result of God’s intervention the children of Israel, from being slaves to the Egyptians, become slaves to God – in analogy to ancient social usage; and now the societal protection given by the law is rested on that change of master, on the Israelites having passed under divine rule which, essentially precludes any other.’
Read or Sing Hymn 429 “Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.