Friday, June 15, 2012

You May Dismiss Your Servant Now in Peace!

Psalm 76
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of Asaph. A song.

1 God is renowned in Judah;
in Israel his name is great.
2 His tent is in Salem,
his dwelling place in Zion.
3 There he broke the flashing arrows,
the shields and the swords, the weapons of war.
4 You are radiant with light,
more majestic than mountains rich with game.
5 The valiant lie plundered,
they sleep their last sleep;
not one of the warriors
can lift his hands.
6 At your rebuke, God of Jacob,
both horse and chariot lie still.
7 It is you alone who are to be feared.
Who can stand before you when you are angry?
8 From heaven you pronounced judgment,
and the land feared and was quiet—
9 when you, God, rose up to judge,
to save all the afflicted of the land.
10 Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise,
and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.
11 Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them;
let all the neighboring lands
bring gifts to the One to be feared.
12 He breaks the spirit of rulers;
he is feared by the kings of the earth.

Reflections: Unlike the recent psalms, which were more of a lament with the apparent victories of Israel’s foes, this psalm delights in the victory of the Lord. There are a couple of occasions in history which commentators point to as a reference for this psalm, as when King Hezekiah brought victory over Sennacherib’s army, while besieging Jerusalem was cut off by a destroying angel. Also, it could refer to a victory in King Jehoshaphat’s time (see 2 Chronicles 2).

Whatever the case though, these are specific instances of giving God praise for his intervention! We have the occasion each day to give praise and thanks for the ultimate victory Jesus accomplished on the cross at Calvary. Paul calls this in 2 Corinthians 9, “the indescribable gift”, out of which all of our serving, giving, and worship flow. Take a moment today to remember what Jesus has done on the cross, the victory He has won over all our enemies, and live in the light of His glorious grace.

Numbers 31:48-32:27
The Transjordan Trib

32 The Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock. 2 So they came to Moses and Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the community, and said, 3 “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon — 4 the land the Lord subdued before the people of Israel—are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock. 5 If we have found favor in your eyes,” they said, “let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan. ” 6 Moses said to the Gadites and Reubenites, “Should your fellow Israelites go to war while you sit here? 7 Why do you discourage the Israelites from crossing over into the land the Lord has given them? 8 This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to look over the land. 9 After they went up to the Valley of Eshkol and viewed the land, they discouraged the Israelites from entering the land the Lord had given them. 10 The Lord’s anger was aroused that day and he swore this oath: 11 ‘Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of those who were twenty years old or more when they came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — 12 not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly.’ 13 The Lord’s anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone. 14 “And here you are, a brood of sinners, standing in the place of your fathers and making the Lord even more angry with Israel. 15 If you turn away from following him, he will again leave all this people in the wilderness, and you will be the cause of their destruction. ”

Reflections: Reuben as the first born, who had forfeited his birthright earlier in his life. As the Israelites near the Promised Land, they try to save face and possibly their hides by taking the land before they cross the Jordan. While it may seem practical, Moses doesn’t take kindly to the suggestion, mainly because he knew what it would take to take the land. This was coupled with the fact that Reuben and Gad would consider not going over to take the land with the other tribes, disturbed him.

But with Moses’ admonition, later in the chapter, they agree to go over and fight, and then come back over to take their lot outside of Canaan. Moses’ strong leadership is honored by these two tribes, and the ½ tribe of Manasseh, and things go forward as planned. Sometimes leaders need to stand up and make clear what it is going to take to accomplish the plan God has given. When God calls us to step out it faith, it is almost always going to be a situation and count the cost. In the church there is a temptation for 20% to do 80% of the work. But God calls all of us to work in the vineyard, so that the fruit will be a product of the all the people of God accomplishing all that God wants. In short, “we all get to play!”

Luke 2:21-32
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Jesus Presented in the Temple
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”

One of the unique features of Luke’s gospel is the universality of the scope of participation in the salvation story and the coming of Jesus. We have already seen John the Baptist’s parents, Mary and Joseph, and today we meet Simeon! So we see God used many people to be part of the Gospel story of both genders and all ages. Here we have the wise old saint Simeon, who had waited faithfully for years for the consolation of Israel.

So often we hear of the people who rejected or were ignorant of the prophecies about Jesus’ coming, but today we meet faithful, old Simeon. He was righteous, devout and importantly the Holy Spirit was on him, another characteristic of Luke’s Gospel. After seeing his hope come to realization it was enough for him and in his words, “You may now dismiss your servant in peace”.

What great words from a man who had put his hope on God’s purposes being accomplished. What are you waiting on from the Lord? What would or could He do that you might say, “You may now dismiss your servant in peace!”

A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench. Isaiah 42:3

Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Mark 2:17

Suffering Servant, you came into this world of sickness and sin offering healing and hope. Help us to tend to our bruised and broken bodies and spirits with the balm of your good news. Amen.

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