Exodus 3:1-15 • Jeremiah 15:15-21 • Psalm 26:1-8 • Matthew 16:21-28 • Romans 12:9-21
The events of the life of Moses between the heroic acts of the five women who risked their own lives to safe the life of the 3 month hold Moses, and the time of this week’s passage are the context we need to know. First, there was an increase in violent hostilities by the Egyptians towards the Hebrews enabled by the hatred of Pharoah toward the Israelites. Second, After Moses ran away after murdering an Egyptian. So, in this week’s passage we find that Moses is a wanted man on the run, no longer protected by being a part of Pharoah’s family, and now, God is calling him to go back to Egypt.
One more essential context note – the people were four hundred years after Joseph and knowledge of the God of Joseph.
Don’t allow overly familiarity keep you from really pondering and struggling with this passage, it is in the struggle that we we see the greatest, and most applicable, truth.
This passage is called the ‘Lament’ or the ‘Complaint’ or, in more pleasant word usage, it is often called the ‘Confessions of Jeremiah’.
This passage is considered by many to be the most difficult section of the Old Testament. Jeremiah is frustrated with everything and everyone. He followed God’s call to bring the people back to God. However, instead of returning the God, the people have, instead turned on Jeremiah. The entitled and rich have been especially difficult, they have not only belittled and rejected his words, and person, they have also used their money, power, and position to try to silence Jeremiah. Hateful words have led to violent physical suffering.
Jeremiah is frustrated, no, he is angry, he is done.
In this honest lament/complaint to, and about God, Jeremiah actually calls God a ‘dishonest brook’ from which is cautious to even drink the water. Often it is necessary for us to ‘name our complaints’ to God, even those which are about God, so we can freely understand what we are asking of God – and, are then ready to hear God.
The basic context, in addition to the over a century of rejected prophesies from Isaiah and Jeremiah, is that are now coming true. Judah has been destroyed, the temple is a pile of ruin, and their best and brightest have been exiled to slavery.
Psalm 26 is a Psalm of praise, and even more a Psalm of the recognition of who God is. Think about our Matthew passage last week when Jesus asked the disciples ‘Who do You say that I Am?’ In chapter 26, the psalmist is fully recognizing who God is, and, at the same time, placing that knowledge and understanding of God in juxtaposition to the Kings and leaders of the day. To Moses God gives his name as ‘I am,’ here, the Psalmist is giving the leaders the name ‘I am not.’
Our reading last week was the first 20 verses of this chapter where we saw Jesus firming up the ‘measure of faith’ given to the disciples (especially Peter) for the purpose of surviving the coming difficulties and struggles. That makes this reading, and our understanding of the heaviness of what Jesus is saying this week, a bit easier to understand — however, it also makes it much, much, more difficult to comprehend. This is a difficult passage, it is a painful moment in Jesus’ relationship with Peter. Take a moment to go back and read the first 20 verses of chapter 16, if you were not able to take in the message this Sunday, that centered on those first 20 verses, take 30 minutes to watch/listen/or read that message, then, return to verses 21-28. Basically, this week, Peter, who was called a Rock and given the keys to the Kingdom last week, is, this week, called Satan. That is quite a reversal of a good day.
Peter goes from being ‘the Rock’ to being ‘the Stumbling Block.’
Ponder the motivations for Peter to say what he said. While there there is surely a level of philanthropic motive on his part, attempt to go deeper to find the catalyst that may be more selfish and less benevolent. Hint, maybe go back and think about Jesus’ time of temptation in the wilderness with the true Satan.
Our Romans passage is basically a power point teaching, or it could be referred to as a picture, of what it looks like to live the Christian life. In our quest for context here, we must look back that the opening statement of this chapter in which Paul says,
‘present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.’ Romans 12:1b - 2
Our Romans passage for this week is the ‘how to’ for Paul’s instruction at the beginning of chapter 12.
Consider the practicalities, and the hindrances’ to living out this very practical teaching.