Truly it is a most beautiful and fair law.

Dr. Martin Luther continues his commentary on Deuteronomy with this summary of chapter 15 – and it´s good reading about lending, cancelling of debt, poor people etc in this translation by Richard R. Caemmerer in Luther´s Works Volume 9:

The summary of this chapter is that the poor should not be left neglected in the land, although he also says that there will always be poor, in order that they may have someone to whom to give, either from the triennial tithes, from loans, or from some other source… Now let us talk about lending.

Moses says that repayment of a loan can be demanded before the seventh year, but that in the seventh year itself whatever loans will be found unpaid shall be canceled and given to the brother, and that by divine right. That this seventh year, however, was fixed and firmly established, just as the year of jubilee was, for restoring and canceling debts on purchases, follows from the fact that it does not begin from the day on which the loan was made but was general for the whole land and people, like the festivals were, Passover, Pentecost, and others. Truly it is a most beautiful and fair law. Would that today the rulers of the world might imitate it! Then they would have fewer questions and commotions; for people would know that suits, disputes, debts, dealings, agreements, judgments, seals, and letters would all be removed at one time and canceled in the seventh year, whether that be close or far away, and not be postponed and continued forever into endless litigation. Likewise they would be forced to be cautious not to lend so great a sum that there would be no hope of repayment before the seventh year. Nor would it be possible for wasteful and depraved people to rely on other people’s wealth, which they would gather through borrowing and agreements.

But what will you say to Christ, who in Matt. 6 and Luke 6:35 forbids to demand repayment of a loan and commands to lend without the hope of receiving equal value in return? I answer: Christ is speaking to Christians, who are above every law and do more than the laws ordain; but Moses provides laws for people in civil society, who are subject to the government and the sword, so that evildoers are curbed and the public peace is preserved. Here, therefore, the law is to be so administered that he who has received a loan pays it back, although a Christian would bear it with equanimity if such a law did not come to his aid and a loan were not repaid. Similarly, the law demands that one harm nobody, and it works vengeance on the violent; and yet the Christian endures it if he is harmed, and he does not avenge himself or seek vengeance, although he does not forbid the strictness of the avenging sword, since he knows that the sword was established for vengeance on evildoers, as Peter says (1 Peter 2:14).

Again, why is it that he permits repayment of a loan to be demanded from a stranger—even in the seventh year, that is, always—but not from a brother? Should justice and love not be observed also toward a stranger? The answer is that this, too, is according to a just principle of public order, that by some privilege citizens are honored beyond outsiders and strangers, lest everything be uniform and equal. Thus the Romans gave some cities the status of a colony, others that of a Roman city. The world has need of these forms, even if they appear to have a show of inequality, like the status of servants and maids or workmen and laborers. For not all can be kings, princes, senators, rich men, and freemen in the same manner, since the world cannot exist without persons of various and different sorts. While before God there is no respect of persons (Acts 10:34), but all are equal, yet in the world respect of persons and inequality is necessary. And the purpose of this is that evildoers be curbed and the public peace stand firm, which it cannot do when persons are equal and without distinction.

But the people of the Jews had a fuller and higher law, not only with regard to the repayment of loans but, as he says here (v. 6), with regard to lending to the Gentiles on interest and taking usury, namely, by divine authority, which establishes and permits this very thing. For He is God and the Lord of all; He takes away not only money and goods but also kingdoms and empires from whomever He wills and however He wills, and gives them to whomever He wills. If, therefore, for the sake of vengeance on the Gentiles, God wants to punish them through usury and lending, and commands the Jews to do this, the Jews do well obediently to yield themselves to God as instruments and to fulfill His wrath on the Gentiles through interest and usury. This is no different from when He commanded them to cast out the Amorites and the Canaanites. Thus if to God a husband seems worthy of having his wife or sons taken way from him, and through His Word I am ordered to do this, I am not an adulterer or a kidnaper when I carry off his wife and sons but an obedient whip of God over the godless husband.

This answers the question how the Jews were permitted to lend on interest. The answer is: It was not and is not permitted them because of their merit or by common law but through the wrath of God over the Gentiles, which He wants to fulfill through the Jews as instruments of His wrath. Nevertheless, they would not have had the right to use this permission unless they had been commanded and chosen as such instruments through a sure and manifest Word of God. They themselves were no better than any Gentiles, as I have said above; but God chose and received them only out of mercy. Thus if you view the matter properly, it is not the Jews themselves who are usurers, but God, who persecutes the Gentiles through the usury of the Jews. This was sufficiently demonstrated when He, in turn, handed over the Jews, who were disobedient to Him and sinned, to the Gentiles, not only to be burdened by usury but to be troubled by every sort of shame, a good deal more dreadfully than the Gentiles had been when He gave them over to the Jews. Thus He foretells in this book, chapter twenty-eight, and in this chapter (v. 6) He adds that they will lend to the Gentiles on this one condition, that “they hear the voice of the Lord” (v. 5). This is as though He said: If they do not hear, not only will they not lend on interest, but they will be like, or even more wretched than, the Gentiles, as it also happened.

Today, however, since the Jews have ceased to be the people of God, when the Law is abrogated, and when they through their godlessness and blasphemy have deserved the wrath of God, usury is not to be permitted them; but they are to be controlled by the laws of the people among whom they live. If you closely examine this text, moreover, it does not command them to lend on interest Nor are these words of law, but rather words of promise, when He says: “If only you will obey the voice of the Lord … you shall lend to many nations” (vv. 5–6). But the words of promise, unlike the words of the Law, are not given to man to fulfill. Fulfillment belongs to God alone, who gives them this promise. Therefore the meaning should be like this: “When you hear the voice of the Lord, then through the action of God the Gentiles will be brought into such a plight that they will pay usury even when you neither plan nor seek it; and they will be subject to you in everything, and you will rule over them with all their goods, so that you may seize, demand, and take usury as you please. It is the Lord who will subject the Gentiles to you in this way, and He will humble them through you.”

4. But there will be no poor among you.

A most beautiful order, but one that was never kept. Therefore this law of Moses also remains in words only so far as the whole people is concerned. If begging is forbidden to this people, by what right is it set up among Christians by law, as though it were something sacred? Poverty is extolled, but to the end that it may be relieved. Then spiritual poverty is praised (Matt. 5:3); but the external kind is commanded to be corrected, no differently from other disadvantages of one’s neighbor. It is amazing that those who boast of outward poverty do not also take upon themselves and acknowledge wounds, sicknesses, imprisonments, nakedness, or exile, hunger, thirst, swords, dangers, deaths, sins, the devil, and all other evils by means of new vows set up for these, just as they have done for poverty. Thus one would endure sickness; another, prison; another, hunger; another, sins or the devil. For Christ commands that these things as well as poverty be cared for and improved among our neighbors. “I was weak [He says], and you did not visit Me” (Matt. 25:43).

But instead of sickness and wounds our boasters of poverty carry about a sleek skin and stuffed flesh, worse than the profligates and harlots; instead of places of exile they have homes prouder than the palaces of kings; instead of suffering hunger they consume the storehouses of all; instead of thirst they have full cellars; instead of death they have the most pleasant and secure life. Then they sing to us the glory of enduring poverty, which the Lord has commanded to be abolished, that we might follow the example written for Christian people, in Acts (4:34): “Nor was anyone among them who lacked.” Therefore there ought to be no poverty or begging among the people of God; there should be care and concern to make any poverty and begging unnecessary, that you may know that the mendicant orders and all who display, and boast of, external poverty are disciples and servants of Satan, who rage directly contrary to the Lord and His Christ (Ps. 2:2). In like manner, there ought to be no sickness, hunger, thirst, exile, death, sin, or devil among the people of God; there should be care and concern that if any such thing happens among them, it be removed as quickly as possible and care be taken that it be not found among them. Poverty, I say, is not to be recommended, chosen, or taught; for there is always enough of that by itself, as He says (John 12:8): “The poor you always have with you,” just as you will have all other evils. But constant care should be taken that, since these evils are always in evidence, they are always opposed. You see, therefore, what the institution of the vow of poverty is, and what that whole kingdom of the papacy is.

7. If there is among you a poor man, one of your brethren.

It is the way of the world that when a law has been set up, men soon discover how it can be evaded. Hence Moses here anticipates the fraud which would happen under that law of release in the seventh year, when avarice and human hardness would think, if the year of release happens to be soon: “What shall I do? Shall I give a loan? But the year of release comes after a few months, and I shall have given it in vain, since there will be no hope of getting it back and no right to demand repayment.” Against this Moses inveighs here with amazingly sharp words, calling it a hard heart, a word of Belial, an iniquitous deed, an evil eye, finally even a sin that cries to God. Thus you can see that Moses also agrees with Christ in his instruction about lending; for he commands that the loan be given under the threat of such great sins, even if there is no hope of getting it back and no right to demand repayment. The summary, then, of this teaching is this: the poor should be cared for with love.

12. If your brother is sold to you.

Moses recalls the law of Ex. 21:2 ff and refers it to this law concerning the release of loans, because this also speaks of the poor who, under the compulsion of poverty, sold themselves and received a loan, as it were, since they made themselves debtors with their own bodies. However, he adds at this place that they are not to send him away empty-handed when he is set free. For this he gives two reasons: first, they are to remember that they, too, were slaves in Egypt; secondly, because with him the bondman has been a wage earner in a twofold sense (v. 18). This, I think, is said because the one who is sold to another inflicts double harm on himself: first, he serves another, and everything he gains accrues to his master; secondly, he meanwhile neglects his own business, and what he gains for his master he could have gained for himself. Therefore it would be most reprehensible to send him away altogether empty-handed. Hence he says: “It shall not seem hard to you” (v. 18).

Moses always adds magnificent promises. God has blessed, blesses, and will bless those who do these things, to keep them from doubting that they will be richly compensated if they either give something or lend something as Christ says (Luke 6:38): “Give, and it will be given you.” Hence also that proverb of Solomon (Prov. 19:17): “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord”; and again (Prov. 14:31): “He honors the Lord who has pity on the poor,” and many others. On the other hand, the Scriptures are full of threats against those who do not have pity. However, this means nothing to that deaf godlessness and unbelief which imagines that God is either joking or lying with such words, and which deserves to be robbed of the good things both of this life and of the life to come, just as that fool Nabal on Carmel withheld from David, was soon deprived of his life, and kept nothing (1 Sam. 25).

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Do you still not understand?

So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household.  

Watchword for the 7th Sunday after Trinity: Ephesians 2:19

We pray with the collect for this week:

Lord, take our bodies and our minds and make them wholly Yours. So increase Your grace in us that not our own desires but Your holy will may rule us all in all; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Dobberstein 105

The lesson from God´s Word for this Monday in the 7th Week after Trinity:

Then Jesus left them, got back into the boat, and went to the other side. Now they had forgotten to take bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. And Jesus ordered them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod!” So they began to discuss with one another about having no bread.

When he learned of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Have your hearts been hardened? Though you have eyes, don’t you see? And though you have ears, can’t you hear? Don’t you remember?

When I broke the five loaves for the 5,000, how many baskets full of pieces did you pick up?” They replied, “Twelve.” “When I broke the seven loaves for the 4,000, how many baskets full of pieces did you pick up?” They replied, “Seven.” Then he said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ recorded by St. Mark 8:13-21

Let us sing, thank and praise our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Ghost:

1 Sing praise to God, the highest good,
The author of creation.
The God of love who understood
Our need for His salvation.
With healing balm our souls He fills
And ev’ry faithless murmur stills: 
To God all praise and glory!

2 What God’s almighty pow’r has made,
In mercy He is keeping.
By morning glow or evening shade
His eye is never sleeping.
Within the kingdom of His might
All things are just and good and right:
To God all praise and glory!

3 We sought the Lord in our distress; 
O God, in mercy hear us.
Our Savior saw our helplessness
And came with peace to cheer us.
For this we thank and praise the Lord,
Who is by one and all adored:
To God all praise and glory!

4 He never shall forsake His flock,
His chosen generation;
He is their refuge and their rock,
Their peace and their salvation.
As with a mother’s tender hand,
He leads His own, His chosen band:
To God all praise and glory!

5 All who confess Christ’s holy name,
Give God the praise and glory.
Let all who know His pow’r proclaim
Aloud the wondrous story.
Cast ev’ry idol from its throne,
For God is God, and He alone:
To God all praise and glory!

Johann Jacob Schütz (1640-1690) translated by Frances E. Cox (1812-1897) and Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)
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Lord Jesus Christ, You have prepared this feast for our salvation

Well, one of my English regulars came to excuse herself from tomorrow´s divine service. That´s just how it should be. Coming is no deal. It´s the expected normal and goes without saying but being absent is the exception and apologies are quite in order. Coming around to our little bookstore gives time for some personal talk too. Very much like the traditional “Anmeldung” in our Lutheran congregations, when church folk would knock on the pastor´s door during the week and announce their plan to come to the Lord´s table that Sunday – God willing. Obviously there´s some paperwork to be done, names recorded and such, but mainly it was about shaking hands, looking each other in the eyes, praying together to the good Lord and God, who has called us into His holy community and blessed association of forgiven saints and destined heirs of His kingdom – in Holy Baptism.

Tomorrow´s divine service has the watchword for the 7th Sunday after Trinity from the holy Apostle Paul´s epistle:

So then You are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household.”

Ephesians 2:19

That´s so special to know – and reason for joyful celebrations once again even though we are now right in the middle of the non-festive season in the church calendar. God has done great things for us with this gracious election and lasting predestination and calling to higher things. Still, He continues to be gracious and His mercy is new every morning. Yes, He continues to save, liberate, deliver and free us from all evil calamity, death, sin, the devil and all troubles, which might have befallen us. Just as Psalm 107 reiterates descriptively, depicting various stations in life, where the triune God has done this for His people with great miracles and wonders – on high seas, in deserted wastelands and other pitfalls of our sojourn – so that they might give thanks to the Lord for His loyal love and for all the amazing things, He has done for us. Not because of our own merit or worthiness, but solely for His profound goodness, great love and gracious favor:  

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
and his loyal love endures.
Let those delivered by the Lord speak out,
those whom he delivered from the power of the enemy,
and gathered from foreign lands,
from east and west,
from north and south.
They wandered through the wilderness, in a wasteland;
they found no road to a city in which to live.
They were hungry and thirsty;
they fainted from exhaustion.
They cried out to the Lord in their distress;
he delivered them from their troubles.
He led them on a level road,
that they might find a city in which to live.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his loyal love,
and for the amazing things he has done for people.
For he has satisfied those who thirst,
and those who hunger he has filled with food.

Psalm 107:1-9

The lessons from God´s Holy Word for this Sunday underline this theme of God feeding His hungry people – right there in the barren outback. Reminding us, how He creates lavish blessings and let´s good things of life, joy and peace flourish for His people, right there in the desert, where all else failed, hunger prevailed, and death was the only sure outcome. Yes, where death was considered better than life. The Old Testament lesson tells the story of God feeding His people with Manna and quails, when they had suffered greatly and were even yearning back for the days gone by in Egyptian hardship and slavery:  

The entire company of Israelites murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died  by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger!”

And the Lord spoke to Moses, “I have heard the murmurings of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘During the evening you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be satisfied with bread, so that you may know that I am the Lord your God.’”

In the evening the quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning a layer of dew was all around the camp. When the layer of dew had evaporated, there on the surface of the wilderness was a thin flaky substance, thin like frost on the earth. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” because they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you for food.

“This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Each person is to gather from it what he can eat, an omer per person according to the number of your people; each one will pick it up for whoever lives in his tent.’” The Israelites did so, and they gathered—some more, some less. When they measured with an omer, the one who gathered much had nothing left over, and the one who gathered little lacked nothing; each one had gathered what he could eat.

Exodus 16:2-3.11-18

This was but an image of what was still to come and our good Lord´s Gospel as recorded by the holy evangelist St. John takes it further in the big bread chapter – that Jesus Christ himself is the bread from heaven born in the house of bread, He the bread of life, who feeds His own, that they no longer hunger, but are truly satisfied for good.

After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd was following him because they were observing the miraculous signs he was performing on the sick. So, Jesus went on up the mountainside and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Jewish Feast of the Passover was near. Then Jesus, when he looked up and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread so that these people may eat?” Now Jesus said this to test him, for he knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, “200 silver coins worth of bread would not be enough for them, for each one to get a little.” One of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “Here is a boy who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what good are these for so many people?”

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was a lot of grass in that place. So, the men sat down, about 5,000 in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed the bread to those who were seated. He then did the same with the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were all satisfied, Jesus said to his disciples, “Gather up the broken pieces that are left over, so that nothing is wasted.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces from the five barley loaves left over by the people who had eaten.

Now when the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus performed, they began to say to one another, “This is certainly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Then Jesus, because he knew they were going to come and seize him by force to make him king, withdrew again up the mountainside alone.

John 6:1-15

Satisfied in this miraculous way God´s people live in this world, knowing that they are well taken care of. They are at peace in a troubled world. They go about their daily business of listening to God´s Word as proclaimed by apostles and prophets, enjoying God´s good gifts of sacramental communion in Baptism and the Lord´s Supper and adhering faithfully to pray for all people etc. and praising God, who adds ever more to those, who have been saved from death to life – just as we hear from the early church in Jerusalem:

So those who accepted his message were baptized. They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Reverential awe came over everyone, and many wonders and miraculous signs came about by the apostles. All who believed were together and held everything in common, and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need. Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts,praising God and having the good will of all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved.

Acts 2:41a.42-47

Yes, the church continues to go about its daily life in this world blessed by God´s gracious presence and it is He, who equips them with love and mercy to continue with good works as long as it is day. Tomorrow´s sermon on the 13th chapter of the letter to the Hebrews gives us some indicators in just three short verses:

Brotherly love must continue. Do not neglect hospitality, because through it some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as though you were in prison with them, and those ill-treated as though you too felt their torment.

Hebrews 13:1-3

My current sermon outline is as follows:

  1. God´s Hospitality: He feeds His people (graciously/miraculously) in the desert.
    • You are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household.
    • Have a seat. See: It is all prepared
    • God´s temple right in the desert and wilderness!
    • There´s lots of room and there´s enough for all – big and small in the family.
  2. He wants all to be fed & satisfied.
    • Go out – and invite them in! There is still room. (Gentiles: foreigners/non-citizens)
    • There´s more than leftovers: 12 baskets full (Israel´s 12 tribes)
    • The Church as holy communion of fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household
  3. Still, we too often (sinfully) long for the old and past life.
    • Better to die outside, foreign lands and even in Egyptian captivity – and not in God´s family – but there´s no salvation outside the church i.e. God´s promised land.
    • Old stuff of sinful (egocentric) life more tempting/alluring  than God´s new creation of communion and common good: It looks so good to eat!
    • Can´t share, because we have so little ourselves: What is this for so many? Hold on to what You have…
    • The old brother, who does not want to celebrate with his younger brother… (Lk.15)
    • The white supremacist, who thinks black lives don´t matter
  4. God calls us to repentance and grants renewed faith by reminding us of
    • Our brother´s i.e. IX´s love for us! He left heaven to live with us on earth and draw us back to himself in holiness and righteousness.
    • His outstanding hospitality “Gastfreundschaft”: Zachäus, tax-collectors and sinners, Willingness to listen to the prayers of Abraham, Moses and all saints – deliverance of Lot from Sodom/Gomorrah.
    •  Christ praying for his persecutors and tormentors, blessing his cursers/murderers.
      • Joseph for his brothers.
      • Paul praying in Philippi for the prison warden
      • Persecution/imprisonment of Christians China/N.Korea, Nigeria, Middle East
      • Burning/desecration of churches in France, USA and Constantinople
      • Ill-treatment: Pedophilia, domestic violence and other crimes against humanity.
  5. Three take-aways:
    • Continue to love – not just temporarily, sporadic works of love – but continually – even if the times have come, where the first love of too many has cooled off, grown cold and even died down.
    • Continue being hospitable – even in times of social distancing; welcome those, who are often considered unwelcome – little babies, sick & dying.
    • Continue to draw in those pushed away – Remember kindly, helpfully and with brotherly love (Philadelphia) those imprisoned/shut-ins/hospitalized – or those ill-treated, discriminated against and side-lined etc.

In this German divine service, we plan to sing the regular hymns suggested for this 7th Sunday after Trinity. A good addition would be the old standard and hot favorite:

1 Lord Jesus Christ, You have prepared
This feast for our salvation;
It is Your body and Your blood,
And at Your invitation
As weary souls, with sin oppressed,
We come to You for needed rest,
For comfort, and for pardon.

2 Although You did to Heav’n ascend,
Where angel hosts are dwelling,
And in Your presence they behold
Your glory, all excelling,
And though Your people shall not see
Your glory and Your majesty
Till dawns the judgment morning.

3 Yet, Savior, You are not confined
To any habitation;
But You are present even now
Here with Your congregation.
Firm as a rock this truth shall stand,
Unmoved by any daring hand
Or subtle craft and cunning.

4 We eat this bread and drink this cup,
Your precious Word believing
That Your true body and Your blood
Our lips are here receiving.
This word remains forever true,
All things are possible with You,
For You are Lord Almighty.

5 Though reason cannot understand,
Yet faith this truth embraces;
Your body, Lord, is even now
At once in many places.
I leave to You how this can be;
Your Word alone suffices me;
I trust its truth unfailing.

6 Lord, I believe what You have said;
Help me when doubts assail me.
Remember that I am but dust,
And let my faith not fail me.
Your Supper in this vale of tears
Refreshes me and stills my fears
And is my priceless treasure.

7 Grant that we worthily receive
Your Supper, Lord, our Savior,
And, truly grieving o’er our sins,
May prove by our behavior
That we are thankful for Your grace
And day by day may run our race,
In holiness increasing.

8 For Your consoling supper, Lord,
Be praised throughout all ages!
Preserve it, for in ev’ry place
The world against it rages.
Grant that this sacrament may be
A blessèd comfort unto me
When living and when dying.

Samuel Kinner 1644
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Yes, if faith & Word perish, no love & good works will stay.

Dr. Martin Luther continues his commentary on Deuteronomy with this summary of chapter 14 – and it´s good reading about tithes, taxes and such laws and bylaws in this translation by Richard R. Caemmerer in Luther´s Works Volume 9, pages 138-141:

The Lord levied a threefold tithe upon this people. The one they gave once a year to the Levites, of all the fruits of the earth. The second they set apart every third year beyond that previously commanded, of all those same fruits of the earth, to be expended as though for a common chest and public alms—for the Levites and the strangers, the orphans and the widows; for He wanted no paupers to be in the land, as He says in the following chapter. Of these two tithes He speaks in this chapter. The third tithe was imposed upon the Levites, that of their tithes they would also give tithes to the priests; this is described in Leviticus. To these priests God also gave everything first-born, so that the first-born of men were redeemed with silver. Hence the ordinary income of the priests were the first-born or first fruits or tithes received from the Levites, to which were added the sacrifices and gifts of the whole people. The income of the Levites, however, were the tithes received from the people and part of the sacrifices, if they served the priests.

And would that all the other inequitable taxes were removed which today devour lands and people, and that tithes were instituted instead! If one were not sufficient, three, four, or five could be added. Thus a nation could live under its lords. This would be the most honorable and just method of income, for it would depend on the sheer goodness of God. If in a given year God were to bless richly, the people would have a rich yield, and the government rich tithes. But if He did not bless very much, the government would bear the burden equally with the subjects and would receive less. Now, however, since the annual taxes are fixed and certain and the bountiful years are few, the subjects are forced to pay the full taxes even if throughout a ten-year period or longer they do not have a single bountiful year. Yes, what is more pitiful, they are forced to pay the full taxes even if in that year they received from the land either hardly enough or not enough to pay what they owe; and this they do through a loan made elsewhere, which they use either to pay their taxes or to live on in that year.

Pieter Brueghel junior: The tax-collector’s office  (1615) at the art gallery of S.Australia

Is this not worse than barbarity? Nay, is it not really a bestial and cruel greed? Do you, then, call these taxes just? Would you consider these laws equitable? No wonder the people are devoured and hounded from every place! What is the kingdom of Germany today but sheer tyranny? About foreign kingdoms I say nothing; I know nothing about them. I am concerned about our own. What prince or magistrate today do you think can be saved if knowingly or willingly he permits or does these things when, as a prince, he could and should help them to be otherwise? You see how little the cause of salvation impels princes here to work together in a common council, to act to the end that all taxes be wholly put away and changed into tithes (however many would be necessary), and to protect the people and rule the world with other laws. I admit, the common people are sunk in luxury and frivolity if they have plenty. But this situation should be improved by something else than unjust taxes, and a sin ought not be cured by a sin. Besides, the guilt of the corrupt people lies on the princes, who rule without law, without care, and without firmness, and strive only for taxes and lusts.

But let us return to Moses. Behold his excellent order of procedure! In the first place he deals with the yearly tithes and the yearly first-born, by which the priests and Levites are provided for. Then he deals with the triennial tithes, by which any poor are to be helped. Thus we are to understand that the ministers of the Word are to be provided for with primary concern; for through them not the belly but the heart and the spirit are fed. Then the bellies of the poor are to be cared for too. Therefore faith and the Word come before love and the good deed; and hence it is to be the first concern that faith and the Word are provided for rather than charity and the good work. But they are not provided for unless those who should teach are nourished. Yes, if faith and the Word perish, no love and good works will be left.

But law is law; men talk but do not act. For just as the people of Moses neglected this law and did not support its priests and Levites, so that these men were forced either to leave the Word and worship of God and take up some manual labor or to set up new doctrines and idolatries—for here the people richly supported its seducers and neglected the true shepherds, because they also turned away from the truth to fables—so it happens now too. No one supports the servants of the Word; for want of bread they are forced to leave the ministry and become farmers and ply trades, while the godless seducers have not only been fed but have filled the world with bishoprics and monasteries equal to the wealth of kings and princes. It is a just judgment of God that those who have not given and do not give to the minister of God and messenger of salvation one loaf of bread waste whole kingdoms and principalities on the servants of Satan and the messengers of death.

You see with what care St. Paul is concerned in 1 Cor. 9:7 ff.1 Tim. 5:17Gal. 6:6, and elsewhere about the support of ministers of the Word. It is shameful for the great people of God to hear so many words regarding this very small matter from this great apostle. On the contrary, love ought so to flourish here that it would be necessary to restrain the people from giving, as in Ex. 36:5 ff.; according to the example of the Galatians, we ought (if it were possible) to pluck out our eyes for such ministers (Gal. 4:15). Hence, here, too—after he has spoken about tithes and the first-born—Moses adds: “That you may learn to fear the Lord your God always” (v. 23), namely, that to support the servants of the Word is the first and highest practice of the worship and fear of God. For how does he who fails in that support care for the Word of God? And how does he who does not care for the Word of God care for God? And he who does not care for God, how shall he fear God? Therefore to neglect and despise the servant of the Word is the same as to despise God and His Word. “He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me” (Luke 10:16). This is what Moses impresses so carefully here and in so many other places: that they should not neglect the Levites, who have no other inheritance.

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We pray, that Christ dwells in your hearts through faith

Now, this is what the Lord says,
the one who created you,
and formed you:
“Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you.
I call you by name, you are mine.”

Isaiah 43: 1 (Watchword for the 6th Sunday after Trinity)

We pray:

Almighty God, beloved heavenly Father, through Holy Baptism You have made us Your children and heirs of Your kingdom, grant us Your Holy Spirit, so that we, having died to sin, may live faithfully in a new life with Jesus Christ, who together with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

We confess: 

Waken my heart, O Lord, my God; make my heart watchful to serve thee and alert to thy command. Thou hast created us full of trouble; thou hast made us strangers in this world.

Trouble me with the smallness of my work. Trouble me with the greatness of thy command. Trouble me with my unholiness and my slowness to obey. Trouble me with the time running out and every lost hour. Trouble me with my sins and the sins of all men. Trouble me with the troubles of thy church which are the work of men. Trouble me, and make me to watch continually for thy judgement. Trouble me, O Lord, and let me keep my faith in the midst of my trouble. Let me go forth desiring the coming of thy glory. Let me go forward; for thy glory shall be revealed. I thank thee that my work ends and thy work begins. Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief. Amen.

Dobberstein Pg.49

God´s Holy Word for Saturday in the 6th week after Trinity

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he will grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, that Christ will dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, you will be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you will be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

From St. Paul´s epistle to the Ephesians 3:14-21

We laud + praise His holy name: God Father, Son + Holy Ghost +

1 We know that Christ is raised and dies no more.
Embraced by death, he broke its fearful hold,
and our despair he turned to blazing joy.
Alleluia!

2 We share by water in his saving death.
Reborn, we share with him an Easter life
as living members of a living Christ.
Alleluia!

3 The Father’s splendor clothes the Son with life.
The Spirit’s power shakes the church of God.
Baptized, we live with God, the Three in One.
Alleluia!

4 A new creation comes to life and grows
as Christ’s new body takes on flesh and blood.
The universe, restored and whole, will sing:
Alleluia!

John B. Geyer

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When the Word is lost, God is lost

Dr. Martin Luther continues his commentary on Deuteronomy with this summary of chapter 13 – and it´s good reading in this translation by Richard R. Caemmerer in Luther´s Works Volume 9, pages 129-131:

To confirm what he said at the end of the preceding chapter—“You shall not add to it, etc.”—Moses now presents this whole chapter. It is his will that we adhere to the Word of God with such devotion that we are not moved by persons or signs, however learned and holy they may be, like prophets; or by brothers, sons, and friends, however good and gentle they may be; or by cities and powerful people, however great and many they may be. One must rest wholly on the Word alone and shut out everything from eyes and senses, because when the Word is lost, God is lost. It is better to lose friends, brothers, saints, mighty ones, and everything than to lose God.

When Jesus Christ commands: “Beware of false prophets!” (Mt.7,15) he gives everybody the right – no, more the duty! – to judge doctrine, spirits and prophets even…

And here you see that the right to judge the doctrines even of lawful prophets is entrusted to each person—just as Christ also commands in Matt. 7:15: “Beware of false prophets”—although no one but the government is allowed to execute outward justice and kill such a prophet, as we shall be taught in a following chapter. Each must watch over his own conscience, and therefore each must have the right to judge spirits and prophets; but no one has the right to take the sword for himself. Otherwise what need would there be of the public government?

There is a difference whether this concerns the past of the future, but also whether it contradicts God´s Word as written – You shall have no other Gods! – or whether it concerns a new word from God, which is still to be tested. The first is not permissible, whilst the other is out for testing according and in the framework of God´s Word already given:

Here one asks how Moses can forbid to believe a prophet who performs and foretells signs that will come to pass, when nevertheless in chapter eighteen (v. 22) he says that if what the prophet said comes to pass, it is recognized that this is the Word of God. I answer: This chapter thirteen speaks of a past Word of God that has already been received and confirmed by its signs, just as he says: “You shall not add to it or take from it” (12:32), and again: “Keep the Commandments of God, and hear His voice” (28:1). In the face of such a Word no prophets are to be received, even if it were to rain signs and wonders—not even an angel from heaven, as Paul says to the Galatians (1:8). Here, however, a prophet is written about who will give signs in order to introduce other gods. This is already contrary to the Word which has been received concerning the only God who is to be worshiped, and therefore he should not be heard. In chapter eighteen He speaks of a new Word which has not yet been received and is not contrary to the one that has been received; therefore He says there (18:20): “If a prophet shall speak in My name what I have not commanded, etc.” Such a prophet is not to be received unless he does signs, just as Christ confirmed His Gospel with signs when it had to be preached in a way that went beyond Moses. For God does not reveal any new Word unless He confirms it with signs.

God tests his people and therefore, we should be watchful and pray to not be misled by false prophets, erroneous teachings, heresies, blasphemy, enthusiastic sects etc. because that sad lot has even befallen saints of the church, who by God´s grace came back to their senses:

God does indeed allow a new word to be taught in order to test us, but He is faithfully at our side, so that no signs are done or that what they have predicted does not come to pass, as He shows in the case of Elijah with the Baalites (1 Kings 18:24). Just so Paul also says (1 Cor. 11:19): “It is necessary that there be heresies, that those who are genuine may become manifest.” So He also permits signs to be done contrary to the received Word, again in order to test us (just as Moses says here), whether we love Him with our whole heart. So far Satan has misled us with signs and lying wonders into the working of error, as Paul predicted (2 Thess. 2:11), when we admired pilgrimages, appearances of spirits, or certain healings near some graves, all of which was contrary to the received Gospel. Saints, too, have slipped here, such as Augustine, Bernard, Jerome, and many others, who set up orders and rules of works contrary to the purity of faith, and who would certainly have had to be condemned (as Wycliffe says) if they had not come to their senses and been saved by the richness of their faith in the midst of unrecognized error.

God wants to be worshipped in faith and truth – not with sacrifices, works and other man-made rules and customs without the Word of God:

Strange gods, we have often said and say again, are not only an external idol but much rather an erring notion or conscience devised about the true God. For as the conscience is, so is God. If you believe that God is worshiped by sacrifices of this or that kind, in this or that place, and that without a Word of God, then you have already lost the true God; and that notion concerning sacrifice to which you cling under the name of the true God is your god. If you believe that God is worshiped through cap and tonsure, poverty, obedience, fasting, food, or drink (since here you do not have a Word of God), then cap and tonsure, or that notion about cap and tonsure, is your god. Therefore just as you have an inner assumption about the cap in place of God, so you extend this outwardly and set up,wear, honor, worship, and value the cap as an external idol according to the likeness of the inner notion.

The true triune God is only known and worshipped rightly through His Word.

See, this is what it means to make and follow other gods; it means to worship gods whom you do not know, because you do not feel or understand that in the place of the true God you worship a notion and an idol. Nor do you notice how uncertain you are in that worship, and how you think or know nothing concerning the true God, since you think about Him without His Word. But He cannot be known or thought of except through His Word. So you see that every way of inventing and worshiping strange gods is nothing else than that godless notion by which we choose and believe that we can please God without the Word of God, by this or that work, at this or that place, by this or that rite, when He is not of that sort and yet under His name another is falsely concocted in the heart. From this follow various names just like those of the idols. Thus one is called Baal, another Ashtaroth, another Dagon, another Moloch, Peor, Camos; and there are other names. Just so our monks are named, one from white clothing, another from black; and by his name and work each is outwardly different from the others. These all are prophets whom their dreams deceive. They say: “Let us go and worship strange gods.” That is, “Let us choose new rites without the Word, under the name of the true God.”

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It is right for us to fulfill all righteousness…

Now, this is what the Lord says,
the one who created you,
and formed you:
“Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you.
I call you by name, you are mine.”

Isaiah 43: 1 (Watchword for the 6th Sunday after Trinity)

We pray:

Almighty God, beloved heavenly Father, through Holy Baptism You have made us Your children and heirs of Your kingdom, grant us Your Holy Spirit, so that we, having died to sin, may live faithfully in a new life with Jesus Christ, who together with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

We confess: 

O merciful God, full of compassion, longsuffering, and of great pity, who sparest when we deserve punishment, and in thy wrath thinkest upon mercy: Make me earnestly to repent, and to be heartily sorry for all my misdoings; make the remembrance so burdensome and painful, that I may flee to thee with a troubled spirit and a contrite heart; and O merciful Lord, visit, comfort, and relieve me; cast me not out from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me, but excite in me true repentance; give me in this world knowledge of thy truth, and confidence in thy mercy, and in the world to come life everlasting, for the sake of our Lord and Saviour, thy Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dobberstein Pg.41

God´s Holy Word for Friday in the 6th week after Trinity

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John to be baptized by him in the Jordan River. But John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” So Jesus replied to him, “Let it happen now, for it is right for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John yielded to him. After Jesus was baptized, just as he was coming up out of the water, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my one dear Son; in him I take great delight.”

Gospel of St. Matthew 3:13-17

We laud + praise His holy name: God Father, Son + Holy Ghost +

1 To Jordan came our Lord, the Christ,
To do God’s pleasure willing,
And there was by St. John baptized,
All righteousness fulfilling;
There did He consecrate a bath
To wash away transgression,
And quench the bitterness of death
By His own blood and passion,
He would a new life give us.

2 So hear ye all, and well perceive
What God doth call a Baptism,
And what a Christian should believe
Who error shuns and schism:
That we should water use, the Lord
Declareth it His pleasure,
Not simple water, but the Word
And Spirit without measure;–
He is the true Baptizer.

3 To show us this, He hath His word
With signs and symbols given;
On Jordan’s banks was plainly heard
The Father’s voice from heaven:
“This is My well-beloved Son,
In whom My soul delighteth;
Hear Him!” Yea, hear Him, every one,
When He Himself inviteth;
Hear and obey His teaching!

4 In tender manhood God the Son
In Jordan’s water standeth;
The Holy Ghost from heaven’s throne
In dove-like form descendeth;
That thus the truth be not denied,
Nor should our faith e’er waver,
That the Three Persons all preside
At Baptism’s holy laver,
And dwell with the believer.

5 Thus Jesus His disciples sent
Go, teach ye every nation,
That, lost in sin, they must repent,
And flee from condemnation;
He that believes and is baptized
Shall thereby have salvation,
A new-born man he is in Christ,
From death free and damnation,
He shall inherit heaven.

6 Who in this mercy hath not faith
Nor aught therein discerneth,
Is yet in sin, condemned to death
And fire that ever burneth;
His holiness avails him not,
Nor aught which he is doing;
His inborn sin brings all to naught,
And maketh sure his ruin;
Himself he cannot succor.

7 The eye of sense alone is dim,
And nothing sees but water;
Faith sees Christ Jesus, and in Him
The Lamb ordained for slaughter;
It sees the cleansing fountain, red
With the dear blood of Jesus,
Which from the sins, inherited
From fallen Adam, frees us,
And from our own misdoings.

Martin Luther 1483-1546

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Governed by the Word…

Dr. Martin Luther continues his commentary on Deuteronomy with this summary of chapter 12 – and it´s good reading in this translation by Richard R. Caemmerer in Luther´s Works Volume 9, pages 123-126:

The spiritual explanation of the First Commandment has been finished, and the heart has been instructed. Moses now moves on to works and the outward worship of God in action and ceremonies.

And first he issues a decree concerning the place of divine worship; he repeats about five or six times that they should sacrifice and worship God, not in any place that pleases them but only in the place which the Lord chooses. Then he also commands that the places, the altars, and the statues of the Gentiles be wrecked and their memory erased.

When the general and constant place for the continual sacrifice of the whole people was being spoken of, the place chosen by God was wherever the Ark of the Covenant and the tabernacle were. Otherwise He often chose another place for one day or year, as is apparent in Samuel, Elijah, Gideon, Manoah and others; but He did so by a special revelation either through an angel or through a prophet.

All this He commands in order that in the worship of God the people may not be carried away by its own feeling, however holy and good, but may be governed by the Word; for if man does not live without the Word even with respect to the belly, how much less does he live without the Word in the work of God and in the spirit!

God wants our conscience to be certain and sure that it is pleasing to Him. This cannot be done if the conscience is led by its own feeling, but only if it relies on the Word of God.

Therefore if they should worship God in a place chosen by themselves, even if they pleased themselves thereby, nevertheless they would not be sure that they were pleasing God. They were sure that they were pleasing Him only if they made offerings in a place set apart through the Word of God.

Page 123

Memorable among the statements of this chapter are these two: “You shall not do according to all that we are doing here this day, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes” (v. 8), and, “Everything that I command you you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to it or take from it” (v. 32).

The former wholly condemns free will. It compares our efforts with the Word of God, inasmuch as by a general statement it wants us to choose and accomplish nothing unless the Word of God goes before us and lights the way. Thus no other place should be chosen, etc. From this it follows that whatever we attempt without the Word is sheer darkness and error. If this were not the case, it would not have been necessary to warn us not to do what seems right to us; nor would we be in need of the Word.

The latter statement removes presumption, lest we do things that are better than the Lord commands; and at the same time it gives us liberty and absolves us of all works, efforts, laws, and traditions of men; and it binds our consciences to the Word of God alone. Of this very much elsewhere.

Page 125
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The one who believes and is baptized will be saved.

Now, this is what the Lord says,
the one who created you,
and formed you:
“Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you.
I call you by name, you are mine.”

Isaiah 43: 1 (Watchword for the 6th Sunday after Trinity)

We pray:

Almighty God, beloved heavenly Father, through Holy Baptism You have made us Your children and heirs of Your kingdom, grant us Your Holy Spirit, so that we, having died to sin, may live faithfully in a new life with Jesus Christ, who together with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

We confess: 

Forgive my sins, O Lord – forgive me the sins of my present and the sins of my past, the sins of my soul and the sins of my body; the sins which I have done to please myself, and the sins which I have done to please others. Forgive me my wanton and idle sins, forgive me my serious and deliberate sins, forgive me those sins which I know and those sins which I know not, the sins which I have laboured so to hide from others that I have hid them from my own memory. Forgive them, O Lord, forgive them all. Of thy great mercy let me be absolved, and of thy bountiful goodness let me be delivered from the bonds of all that by my frailty I have committed. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Dobberstein Pg.33

God´s Holy Word for Thursday in the 6th week after Trinity

Then Jesus appeared to the eleven themselves, while they were eating, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him resurrected. 

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned. 

These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; they will pick up snakes with their hands, and whatever poison they drink will not harm them; they will place their hands on the sick and they will be well.”

Gospel of St. Mark 16:14-18

We laud + praise His holy name: God Father, Son + Holy Ghost +

You were before your day of birth,
Indeed from your conception,
Condemned and lost with all the earth,
None good without exception.
For like your parents’ flesh and blood
Turned inward from the highest good
You constantly denied Him.

But all of that was washed away
Immersed and drowned forever.
The water of your Baptism
Restored again whatever
Old Adam and his sin destroyed
And all our sinful selves employed
According to our nature.

In baptism we put on Christ
Our shame is fully covered
With all that He once sacrified
And freely for us suffered
For here the flood of His own blood
Now makes us holy, right, and good
Before our heavenly Father.

O Christian, firmly hold this gift
And give God thanks forever!
It gives the power to the uplift
In all that you endeavor.
When nothing else revives your soul,
Your baptism stands and makes you whole
And then in death completes you.

So use it well! You are made new,
In Christ a new creation!
As faithful Christians live and do
Within your own vocation!
Until that day when you possess
His glorious robe of righteousness
Bestowed on you forever.

Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676) translated by Jon D. Vicker

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Therefore both rains are necessary, the early and the late…

Dr. Martin Luther continues his commentary on Deuteronomy with this summary of chapter 11 – and it´s good reading in this translation by Richard R. Caemmerer in Luther´s Works Volume 9, pages 117-119:

This chapter is a sort of conclusion to all previous exhortations concerning the First Commandment.

It repeats and drives home the blessings received in Egypt and the desert, and promises the land and future benefits which are to be received when they keep the Commandments of God and do not worship strange gods.

So far He has been discussing and urging this First Commandment, and therefore He is so concerned about it that He commands it to be taken to heart, to be bound as a sign on hands and eyes, and to be taught to the children, just as He did above; for it contains the whole sum and fulfillment of all the Commandments that follow. So we see that Moses omits nothing that pertains to the understanding of the First Commandment, just as he has amply discussed everything that promotes faith and everything that impedes it. In what follows he will deal with the rites and ceremonies of works of the same Commandment.

But he also mixes in some promises, namely, that if they cling to the Lord, He will drive out nations stronger than they. Likewise, every place their foot treads shall be theirs. He also says: “No one will stand against you. The Lord your God will lay the fear and the dread of you upon all the land into which you are about to go” (v. 25).

Then He puts a curse next to the promises. Yes, both at the same time, blessing and cursing, He commands to be spoken on Mts. Gerizim and Ebal. About this we shall speak below, for it all belongs to the final summary.1 He adds also the nature of the Promised Land as a sort of promise, namely, that it is not like the land of Egypt but is under the special care of the Lord, whose eyes are on it from the beginning of the year to the end.

The point is that He warns them to be dependent on God in faith and to know that through the favor of God the rain of this land is granted to the faithful and withheld from the unfaithful.

We know that Egypt is not moistened by rains but by the flooding of the Nile each summer. This miracle of God, like all the others, has been belittled because of its regularity. In this Egypt differs from other lands by a remarkable distinction. But the Land of Promise has mountains and valleys; therefore it is made fertile, not through the flooding of the river but through moistening rains from the sky. Not that other lands are not moistened and cared for in the same way or that the eyes of the Lord are not on them from the beginning of the year to the end, as they are on this one. For He Himself gives food to all flesh (Ps. 136:25), as the preceding chapter also says (Deut. 10:18): “He Himself gives food and clothing to the stranger,” and “He fills with gladness and food the hearts of the sons of men” (Acts 14:17).

But the difference is that no Gentiles have the promise of God in this matter. God indeed gives everything to all; but to this His own people He adds the Word of promise that they should not live by bread alone, as the rest of the nations do, but also by the Word.

In this land they are not to have care for the belly alone but much rather also for the spirit. They should not think that the land is given them to fatten them like pigs; rather, they are to nourish themselves with the Word of God and to receive everything through the Word of God, that is, to serve God. Not for the sake of the land itself but for the sake of the people in it is God concerned for the land, that He may rule them in it by faith, as is said elsewhere. He did not choose the nation because of the place, but the place because of the nation. For He did not choose Abraham and his seed on account of the land which He promised him, but He chose the land which He gave him because of Abraham.

This land, however, denotes the kingdom of Christ, which—previously occupied by godless demons, teachers, and workmongers—is freed from sin and error through the Word of the Gospel.

In it one lives through faith in such a way that with a sure and faithful conscience we are aware of being under the care of God and realize that the eyes of His grace are open over us always.

Then it is made fertile by the rains of heavenly doctrine. For it is moistened, not through the work or word of man, as in Egypt irrigation waters are conducted from one place to another, but solely through the speech of God from heaven.

The seasonal and the later rains are also discussed elsewhere. The seasonal rain is the first rain; the late rain comes afterwards. That is how a joyful harvest and abundance of produce come about, when fair weather and the warm sun follow the rain; then, when it is very hot, rain again follows. For constant rain destroys everything, just as constant summer heat and warmth do. So also not only doctrine is to circulate among the people, but after doctrine the work of faith must be practiced.

But where strength has slackened through labor and suffering, then the heart must be lifted up again, comforted, and consoled through doctrine. Thus man will grow in the knowledge of God.

On the other hand, only to teach and not to do is just as if it were always raining, and everything choked and perished. Again, to labor and suffer and not to teach is just as if summer heat were to burn constantly and the waning strength of the spirit were being quenched. Therefore both rains are necessary, the early and the late, that is, teaching and exhorting. In Rom. 12:7–8 we read: “He who teaches, in doctrine; he who exhorts, in exhorting.”

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