✠ One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you ✠
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
se cwide þæs béaggiefan ábireþ ferhþ
Joshua 3,5-11.17 0819
1. Sonntag nach Epiphanius 014
Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, France ✠ 368
13. Januar 2019
1. O God, Father of all grace and mercy, we praise You that You have also revealed the Redeemer of the world unto us and have enlightened us to realize that Jesus is the Light of the Gentiles and our salvation unto the ends of the earth. Grant us Divine grace to walk worthily of our heavenly calling (Löhe 455-56), receiving Him by faith whom You verbally declared to be Your beloved Son with whom You are well pleased, Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
2. »Then Joshua said to the people: „Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." And Joshua said to the priests: „Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people." So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people. The Lord said to Joshua: „Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant: ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan’“ And Joshua said to the people of Israel: „Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.“ And Joshua said: „Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan.“ Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.«
3. The epiphany of Christ to the Magi is nothing new. God has been manifesting his presence among us since the opening chapters of Genesis. God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; God visited Abraham, spoke with him and ate with him. Another epiphany of God is found in Joshua 3. Joshua said Israel: »Here is how you will know that the Living God is among you.… Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan.«
4. At Mount Sinai, the Lord told Moses to build this ark; it was a 4.33‘ x 2.58‘ x 2.58‘ rectangle or box made of wood and covered with gold. The lid of the ark had 2 cherubim facing each other with their wings pointed forward. This lid was called the mercy seat. The stone tablets of the 10 Commandments resided inside the ark, along with some manna and Aaron‘s rod. The ark represented the Lord’s presence among Israel. When the temple was built, the ark resided in the Holy of Holies and only the high priest could enter that room on Yom Kippur (the day of atonement). The ark also represented the Lord’s forgiveness of Israel’s sins.
5. In Jesus’ day, the ark was not in the temple and its whereabouts unknown. The common theory is that the ark was hidden before Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians, but no one several centuries later knew exactly what had happened to the ark. As such, festivals that involved the temple and the ark underwent significant changes in how they were observed, particularly Yom Kippur.
6. The ark represented God’s presence among His people. With that visible relic absent from Israel for 500 years, God slowly prepared His people for a new ark of the covenant. The apostle explains this to us in the Epistle to the Hebrews: »Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent then the old covenant as the covenant He mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second covenant. For He finds fault with Israel when He says: »Behold , the days are approaching, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt.… I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more« [Jeremiah 31,3-32.34] (Hebrews 8,6-9.12).
7. The ark of the covenant contained Aaron’s rod. Of particular note is the event when Aaron’s rod budded as a sign from God that Aaron and his family were chosen to be priests for Israel and Levi as the priestly tribe. The chief ministry of the priests was to offer the sacrifices at the temple for the forgiveness of the people. Jesus is the better and greater Rod of Aaron for He offered Himself up as the sacrificial lamb that has forgiven all the world of all its sin. The ark also contained some of the manna that fed Israel during their 40 years of wandering. Jesus taught the Jews: »Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on Him God the Father has set His seal. It was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who descends from heaven and gives life to the world. I am the Bread of life; whoever draws near to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall not thirst. Everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day« (John 6,27.32-33.35.49). Jesus is the better and greater Manna from heaven for He gives everlasting life. Finally, the ark contained the 10 Commandments, the very tablets of the covenant, known as the law. Jesus taught in His beatitudes: »Do not think I have arrived to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have not arrived to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished« (Matthew 5,17-18). „This notion of fulfillment, however, also contains a nuance of discontinuity. For the one who fulfills what was promised inevitably brings a new situation into the world. He stands in line with the Law and the Prophets. Yet he also, once he has accomplished his work of fulfillment, alters the relationship that God’s people will have with that OT revelation“ (Gibbs 267). Jesus is the Fulfillment of the Scriptures, that is, the Law and the Prophets. He fulfilled the Scriptures in His suffering, death and resurrection (Matthew 26,54.56). Christ Himself affirms this when He is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane: »All this has taken place so that the Scriptures of the Prophets might be fulfilled« (Matthew 26,56). „With the death and resurrection of the Lord, then, all things have taken place, and the new heavens and new earth have begun to manifest themselves in Jesus. And with accomplishing of all things in Jesus‘s ministry, which culminates in his death and resurrection, now the Law and the Prophets are fulfilled. The time when God’s Torah Commandments had unchanging significance for Jesus’ disciples has passed. To be sure, even after Jesus’ resurrection there is continuity between Jesus’ teaching and calling to his disciples and God’s teaching and calling to his people Israel in the Torah. Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets; he did not abolish them. Nevertheless, a change has taken place. Now the disciples of Jesus must hold fast to what Jesus has revealed and commended“ (Gibbs 270). Jesus has become the Law and the Prophets; He is the Word of God made flesh. He fulfilled the old testament and instituted the new testament. We see this in Jesus’ baptism where »the Spirit of God descending like a dove and arriving to rest on Him; and behold, a Voice from heaven said: „This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased“« (Matthew 3,16-17). God is also well pleased with us in Christ Jesus. Amen.
8. Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, the Justifier of the unjust; teach us to do Your will, for You are our God, so that Your Good Spirit leads us on level ground to be a rich blessing to our neighbor. Amen.
To God alone be the Glory
Gode ealdore sy se cyneþrymm
All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Revised Edition © 2012 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern.
VELKD. Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. www.velkd.de. Copyright © 2013 Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands.
Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Matthew 21:1 – 28:20. Copyright 2018 Concordia Publishing House.
Löhe, Wilhelm. Seed-Grains of Prayer: A Manual for Evangelical Christians. Wartburg Publishing House, Chicago circa 1912. Concordia Publishing House; Concordia on Demand.