Going Deeper 12.10.2020

The second reading for Advent 3... 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.  May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

For today I would like to focus on those words in the middle of this text: "Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything..."  I will not address the modern-day prophets, whose validity will only be proven over the course of time... and I would prophecy/predict that most of what is being proclaimed today is utter nonsense!  I believe we ought to focus our attention on the prophets of the Scriptures.  There is plenty to dwell on there without listening to those who think they all of a sudden have figured out how things are to be interpreted and are making the same kind of "the end is near" proclamations that so many have so wrongly proclaimed over time (remember Hal Lindsey?)

The Biblical prophets were more often than not addressing issues at their time, or on the near horizon.  Much of their focus was on urging repentance, reminding the people of covenant promises and obligations, and warning them of the consequences if they did not turn from their rebellious ways.  And at the heart of much of their proclamations were matters of compassion and justice.

God's desire has always been for His people to take care of each other.  This was made perfectly clear in the mission of Jesus.  The failure to do justice and love mercy has led to a whole lot of breakdowns.  We do well to listen to the words of the prophets-- words calling us to remember the New Covenant obligations, summarized in the "new commandment" of Jesus, that His followers are to love one another as His has loved us.

And I will close with another central theme of the Biblical prophets: when things do fall apart, God's people are urged to trust in God no matter what, believing that in His time He will deliver them.

With You in His Grace,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"