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Psalm 115

 

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them. O Israel, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. The LORD has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; he will bless those who fear the LORD, both the small and the great. May the LORD give you increase, you and your children! May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth! The heavens are the LORD's heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man. The dead do not praise the LORD, nor do any who go down into silence. But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the LORD! (ESV)

Non Nobis, Domine!

Friday of Pentecost 17

10 October 2014

Elijah was a whiner: "I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away" (1Ki 19:14). "Oh, poor me, I am the only one left." When we feel alone how easily we presume that we are also abandoned by God. But what would make us sure that God is present with us just because the crowd agrees with us? Should we have such confidence in either the crowd or our love of them? Should we have such confidence in our ability to read the times? A swiftly moving river gives an exciting ride, like the crowd sweeping all before it, but sometimes there is a waterfall at the end. Sometimes the mob plunges over the cliff, like the legend of the Lemmings. How could we know how many faithful Israelites God has secretly preserved for Himself? Why is God's Word alone not sufficient? What more could we want?

 

Sometimes a lone voice is enough. It brings the faithful out of hiding and leads them to sing a joyous Te Deum. The Lord Jesus was all in all, and yet alone. He was abandoned (Mk 14:27) and was a lone man before the onslaught of wickedness, absolutely certain of the divine will. But He trusted Himself into the hands of the One who judges justly (1Pt 2:23). To be right and to be alone is to be God's alone. Christ goes alone to die, as a single seed, to draw together a great granary of the faithful (Jn 12:24). The one alone makes many righteous (Rm 5:18-19). The one alone dies to give many life.

 

If left alone, and if protected by God, the lonely prophet is a majority of one. Elijah learned. Sometimes God reduces our forces so drastically that we have no choice but to attribute the victory to His intervention in our lives. That is well, because the crowd might try to convince us otherwise. But when we are going against the crowd, the victory must be the Lord's. We may whine like Elijah, but perhaps we too will learn. "Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness" (Ps 115:1)!

 

Martin Luther

"Christ transfers all the guilt onto Himself and sets us free from every fear, as though He were to say: "The reason why the world persecutes you with violence and with craft is not you yourselves but My name, which you preach and confess. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (Jn 16:33). We are sustained by this confidence; and we have no doubt that Christ is powerful enough not only to sustain us but to overcome all the power of the oppressors and the craft of the heretics. He gave ample evidence of this in the case of the Jews and the Romans, whose oppression and persecution He once bore. He had to bear the crafts of heretics also. But in time all of them were overthrown and destroyed, and He remained King and Victor. Regardless of how much the papists rage today or of how the sectarians distort and corrupt the gospel of Christ, Christ will remain King forever, and the Word of the Lord will stand forever (1Pt 1:25); and all His enemies will be subdued." 

 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 4.29
 
Prayer
Not unto us, O Lord! Not unto us, but unto You belongs the glory. Keep us steadfast in Your Word that abides forever. Keep us from following the crowd unto death. Help us confess the truth confident that when we stand alone we are a majority of one. Amen.

 

For Rafael Abreu who is gravely ill, that the Lord would give strength where there is none

 

For the Jones family, who are grieving and suffering, that the Lord Jesus would bring refreshment through the power of His Word

 

For our military personnel serving in Africa, who are relieving the suffering and bringing healing to the sick, that they would be kept safe under the watchful angels of God
Art: Crucifixes  Uppsala Cathedral (medieval)

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