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Old Israel / New Israel

September 30, 2018

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Pentecost 19                                           Trinity Lutheran Church

30 September 2018                               Murdock, NE


+ Jesu Juva +


Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29


Ever been at a scrumptious meal that Mom or Grandma worked so hard to prepare and provide? To give as pure gift? Because they love you? Sure. And weren’t you totally dismayed, shocked and rocked to the core when the family bitterly complained in Grandma’s grill and thumbed their nose at the fare and flat out rejected it? Well, that pretty much sums up today’s text. God’s giving and Israel’s rejection of it. Ours too. Check it out.


Israel’s history is the church’s history! Seriously! We, the new Israel, are no different from the old Israel. How so? Just as old Israel was unwilling to suffer any hassles or hardships on their way to the Promised Land so we the new Israel loathe and complain bitterly about any little kind of inconvenience, nuisance or difficulty as we travel in this wilderness world on our way to the Promised Land of heaven.


Just as old Israel complained about the Lord’s gracious provision of manna to sustain her on the way, so we the new Israel whine and nitpick about the Lord’s way of feeding us – His way of nourishing us – in this wilderness on our way to heaven.


Old Israel’s march to the Promised Land has the same recurring theme: murmurings and revolts against the Lord’s promises, giving and guidance! The history of the chosen people of Israel is not an epic of national heroism. It is not the glorious record of a people willing to endure all kinds of hardship for the sake of freely living by faith in God’s Word. Israel of old is the history of doubt, continual griping, mistrust and rebellion. “Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.’”   THAT COST NOTHING? Are you kidding me? Really? Give me a break! Israel, you were bitterly enslaved in Egypt. Totally captive in Pharaoh’s hellacious oppression. Completely imprisoned in Pharaoh’s hellish kingdom. Caged — incarcerated in the Egyptian abyss.


How quickly Israel forgets! How soon her theological dementia and spiritual amnesia kick in! Big time! The Lord saved Israel through His servant Moses. Led her out of the Egyptian hell. Delivered her from Pharaoh, Satan’s servant. Baptized her “into Moses in the cloud and in the [Red] Sea” (1 Corinthians 10:2). Served her heaping portions of spiritual food, manna, and spiritual H2O from the Rock “and the Rock was Christ,” (1 Corinthians 10:4)! In other words, Israel of old was served by and cared for … by Christ Himself! Yes, that’s right. Jesus served Israel of old! That’s His MO by the way!


But life in the wilderness was hard. It had obstacles. Dangers. Dilemmas. Troubles. Adversities. Israel found is too difficult to live by faith in God, faith in His promises and provisions. So, Israel bemoans the food provided and she rebels against Moses, God’s servant. Later on, as Numbers records, Israel raised a loud cry of despair and grumbled against Moses and Aaron after she hears the report of the spies (Numbers 13:25-14:2)! Then Israel categorically disobeys the command NOT to enter Canaan from the south (Numbers 14:39-45). Israel quarreled with Moses because of the lack of water (Numbers 20:2-5). Then after reaching Moab, Israel “spoke against God and Moses” (Numbers 21:4-9). That’s old Israel’s sad history.


So also it is with us the new Israel. We too are not willing to endure any hardship or difficulty in the wilderness of this world as Dead-On-The-Cross-But-Resurrected-Jesus, the new and greater Moses, leads us to the Promised Land of heaven. How soon we forget what He has done for us! We are sick with a spiritually deadly Alzheimer’s. We talk and act as if Jesus never did a Good Friday or an Easter Sunday! Living as if these saving deeds of God never took place.


Then there are the continual complaints about the provisions/gifts the crucified, risen and ascended Jesus gives us! Same old stuff every Sunday! Confession and Absolution. Old Testament, Epistle and Holy Gospel. Sermon. Creed. Eating a dry, crusty, paper thin wafer. Slurping a micro shot of cheap wine. Sunday after Sunday. Month after month. Year after year. Same old liturgy. Same old preacher. The freedom of the gospel that must live by faith and not by sight. I fear, that the very good – Good-Friday-I-Am-Among-You-As-One-Who Serves-Jesus and His Sunday divine service in Word and Sacrament has now become the hardship, the difficulty, the nuisance, that inconveniences and troubles our life of slavery to the ways of the world, our sinful nature and the devil.


As I have served as a pastor in the Lord’s church for many years, here is what I now sadly observe – generally speaking. It has become just too hard for the baptized members of the new Israel to be served by the Lord! The expectation of a baptized Christian to regularly come to church according to the Third Commandment in order to be fed by the Lord Himself with His saving manna of the Word is now considered outrageous! Offensive! Too extreme! Why? Because the new Israel is just too busy serving and too enslaved to other leek-y, onion-y, garlic-y, melon-ic and cucumber-ic idols called busy schedules and other sundry Sunday activities that forbid the Lord Jesus serving her!


Consequently, like Israel of old we speak against God and grumble. And new Israel commands the pastors: Give us something different! Something better! Or else! Take us back to … the certainty of an Egyptian slavery! An Egyptian captivity diet! Where Satan reigns! Where our old Adam runs free and never has to die! Where the grass is greener! Where we don’t have to choke on the abundant diet of the forgiveness of sins and salvation! Where we never have to suffer the inconvenience of spending a Sunday morning at church! We demand it!


Really? I mean really? Better repent of that PDQ! Seriously. Salvationally seriously! It’s time to trust the Lord. Who Good Friday-ly died FOR YOU and Easter Sunday-ly rose FOR YOU. Who brought you out of Satan’s hellacious slavery and baptized you into His death in order that you can live freely by faith in Him! No matter what the hardship — no matter what the adversity — no matter what the difficulty in this wilderness world – trust Jesus to provide. Trust Jesus to care. Trust Jesus to forgive. Trust Jesus to serve and save. He is among you as one who serves in Word and sacrament (Luke 22). He’s all you’ve Good Friday-ly got!


Just as old Israel needed to repent and believe so too we the new Israel must repent and believe. Because of Jesus and His Good Friday death FOR YOU, you remain His true children – the new Israel — and you learn daily to turn your back to the slavery of sinful self, the greed of materialism, the demonic bondage of evil and turn to Jesus and His forgiveness.


So I wrap it up with Lamentations 3 and Malachi 3. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases” … “His mercies … are new every morning.”


Happy wandering! Happy trusting. Even when it’s tough and hard!  Let nothing distract you from being served by Jesus. We’ll be in the Promised Land soon! He promises. His Supper today is a foretaste and dress rehearsal for it. Our heaven on earth until we enter heaven!


In the Name of Jesus.

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