Herrenhuter readings for Friday, the 24th April 2015

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. (2Ch 16:9 KJV) I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience. (Rev 2:2 KJV)

Now that’s like watching the news full-time, but not some partisan channel. This is the real thing – world news live 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Nothing slips by his attentive eyes. He hears and perceives all and everything – and he never tires of this watching either. Yet it’s not just a passive consuming of the universal proceedings, but he takes an active part in this too. Shewing (showing!) himself strong on behalf of his people, fighting evil and building up his kingdom worldwide.

Reading the verse carefully however shows that he’s biased to those, whose “heart is perfect towards him.” If we remember the other biblical verses, where it mentions God looking down from the heavens and seeing that evil had multiplied excessively on earth and when evaluating all people the realization strikes home, that there is no one, not even one who is righteous, but that they have all sinned and fall short of the glory – perfection, holiness, righteousness and goodness – then this passage is rather disturbing too. That was in the days of Noah, that was the case with Sodom and Gomorrah (not even 10 righteous in that entire city) or even in the case of Ninive. This latter example from the prophet Jonah points us in the other and new direction of the new testament in the sense of the new covenant as we know it from Jeremiah 31:31ff.

Here and according to this new covenant the ever-watchful God – Father, Son and Holy Ghost – forgives the past iniquity and does not count the imperfections against his people, but creates a new heart and grants a new Spirit so his people so that they would trust him alone for their salvation – and not depend on their own holiness, which is able to carry them anywhere anyway. That’s why he forgives Ninive – all its people – and even has mercy on those many animals there too! God not condemning the godless, but rather forgiving, redeeming and accepting him into his very own family and heavenly fatherland. This new covenant and testament is new in comparison with the ancient way of the fathers, which was always the way of the law, do-et-des, do and reap the due reward – the way of all human religions and traditional ways of civil religion and political correctness, earning ones own justification and good standing by doing what is right and forsaking, what is wrong. Roman catholicism and charismatic pentecostalism are still very much caught up in this paradigm – depending on our own sanctity and holiness, achieved by being righteous and doing what is good in the sight of the law.

The new way of godly justification however puts vicarious satisfaction and imputed righteousness in its place. It’s no longer, what I am or what I have done, but rather what Jesus Christ did for me and how he has adopted me and made me his very own – incorporated me into his just and pure life and perfect being, so that it’s no longer me whose alive, but Christ in me. I’m dead to the the old ways, but revitalized in Christ’s new creation and being through faith. It’s not visible, but feasible through God’s very own doing through his means of grace – Word and Sacrament. Through the work of the Holy Spirit he has done this: Calling, enlightening, forgiving and thus keeping in and with Christ our Lord and Saviour. That salvation and sanctification and new creation in the faith is his work and labour. With never ending patience he has carried it through and will bring it to perfection and completion in his own time and according to his own good will.

For Christ’s sake God looks on mankind with favour and mercy. No longer aiming at wiping out humanity, but rather to save and deliver them from evil through the forgiveness of sins and the rich and unfailing deposit of his grace, mercy and peace. Come and taste, how friendly the Lord is. Nobody is put to shame, who trusts in him. Amen.

Scatter the darkness, break the gloom; Sun, reveal an empty tomb Shining with joy for all our sorrows, Hope and peace for all tomorrows, Life uneclipsed by doubt and dread: Christ has risen from the dead!

Bearing the standard from on high As the Lamb of God to die; He who for us, so cruelly treated, Lives again – our foes defeated! Where is your sting, O death and grave? Christ has shown his strength to save!

Banners of triumph, be unfurled! Trumpets, sound throughout the world! Crying and sighs give way to singing; Life from death, our Lord is bringing! Let there begin the jubilee – Christ has gained the victory!                (Hymn by Stephen P. Starke *1955)

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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