The Word Breeds Life
Tuesday after Holy Trinity
13 June 2017
Everyone's children go through the "knock-knock" joke phase. The jokes are more humorous to the little comedians than they are to those of us upon whom they are inflicted. We adults don't find them funny because we told the same silly jokes when we were their age. We heard all the "knock-knock" jokes before. Familiarity breeds contempt.
 
Sometimes we treat the Word of God like a "knock-knock" joke, "Yes, we've heard that one before. Tell me something I don't know." We have become jaded to the life-giving Word of God. Sometimes we use the "if only" argument to excuse our jaded attitude, "If only God still spoke through dreams or visions or directly to us as He did once to Abraham and the holy prophets, then we would have no problem believing." Uh-huh. But it is the same Word of God and we are more than capable of hoping that God would deliver it to us in a form that we consider more exciting. If we received it in a vision, we would hope for a dream, and if in a dream we would hope for a personal audience. In any case, it is a symptom of our desire to have power over the speech of God; to control His delivery of it and excusing ourselves all the while with our plausible sounding "if-only" argument.
 
What does God think of this "if-only" argument? Perhaps He has one of His own. Does He lament our unbelief, "If only they believed my speaking to them in whatever form I sent it! If only they quietly listened when I speak, they would understand with their hearts, turn and be healed" (Is 6:10). But we treat the Word of God like a "knock-knock" joke that we have heard a thousand times. The Word of God is the voice of our lover to His beloved. How could we ever think it repetitious or lacking excitement? No matter how quietly or with struggling cadences it is said, "I forgive you, my love," how eagerly we wait upon it, set it upon our hearts, revel in it, and live by it. Familiarity with the Word of God breeds life.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
 
"'When He had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham' (Gn 17:22). Moses added this closing statement in order to commend to us this account in which there is such a long conversation of God with Abraham. For it is of the highest importance when God speaks. The next thing, but separated by a great interval, is when everything is done by us in accordance with the Word of God.
 
"This closing statement proves that God appeared in some visible form when He had this conversation with Abraham. God most commonly speaks through the patriarchs and those who are in the public ministry of the Word. Next in order, He appeared in dreams, as at Bethel and Ai, and sometimes through a vision seen in an ecstatic state, when a human being seems to have been snatched outside himself, as above, when God brought Abraham out to count the stars. But in the present instance God appeared in some visible form and spoke personally with Abraham, not through a human being or an angel.
 
And this is the reason why Holy Scripture gives Abraham this glory and calls him a friend and intimate of God in Isaiah (Is 41:8). Thus Christ does not call His apostles servants; He calls them friends (Mt 12:49). And it is indeed something very great to have God conversing and associating with us.
 
"Nor are we ourselves deprived of this gift. Even though God does not appear to us in an extraordinary form, as He did to Abraham, yet His usual and most friendly and most intimate appearance is this, that He presents Himself to us in the Word, in the use of the keys, in baptism, and in the Lord's supper. But we experience what the proverb says: Excessive familiarity breeds contempt. Likewise: Presence diminishes a reputation. Also: Everyday occurrences become worthless. And Solomon declares: '"It is bad, it is bad," says every buyer, but when he has gone away, then he boasts' (Pro 20:14).
 
"None of us would not heartily desire to see Moses, David, or even Augustine, Ambrose, and similar illustrious men. But if these men were here and lived with us for a year or two, they would surely be despised. Yes, if angels associated with us, the same thing would happen to them, not indeed because they would be lacking in glory but because our nature is inclined to disdain and despise.
 
"Therefore we, too, could glory as the patriarch Abraham did. Indeed, if Abraham himself had seen the kindness God shows by speaking and associating with us daily through the ministry in Baptism and in the Lord's Supper, he would have died from wonderment and joy." 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 17.22
Isaiah 6:1-13

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"  And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.  And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"  Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for. 
 
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."  And he said, "Go, and say to this people: "' Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.'  Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed."  Then I said, "How long, O Lord?" And he said: "Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste,  and the LORD removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.  And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled." The holy seed is its stump. (ESV)
Prayer
Lord God, You have spoken by Your Word. In it You have disclosed Your passionate love for us, Your creatures. Help us not become jaded by Your voice but hear in it the divine Lover's wooing of the beloved. Amen.
 
For medical research, that God would grant new therapies for those suffering from previously incurable diseases, such as MS
 
For those suffering from the demons of addiction, that God our heavenly Father would bring them through on dry ground
 
For the pastoral conferences as they talk together about the gift of preaching the gospel, that the Lord Jesus would give them His Word 
Art: Albrecht DURER,  The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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