Daily Lectionary Reflection, Thursday, July 16

Isaiah 41:21–29

Set forth your case, says the Lord; bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob.” Isaiah 41:21

The Lord is incensed at the continued idolatry of Israel. The Lord, who created all things, has little patience for God’s people who settle for lesser gods. Why settle for nothing, when you can have everything in the Lord? There is no real competition between the Lord of all and the material objects of worship. If we were to take God’s position, would we continue to put up with such a people? God furiously loves the people of God and refuses to put up with their shenanigans. God knows them to be better than their worst days, and their worst ways. So too does God love us, even when we turn to the idols of today – sex, money, and power. God knows us better than we know ourselves, and loves us more than we know.

Hebrews 2:1-9

“Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.” Hebrews 2:1

The good news about Jesus easily derails when we do not return to scripture. The early Christians relied heavily upon the spoken word but as time passed the written word rose in importance. Too easily our memories fade, or twist, what we have heard. For the Christians reading the letter to the Hebrews, this meant an elevation of angels to the level of deity, among other issues. Lost in speculation, the people lose sight of the gospel message. The writer exhorts the readers to return to the message they first heard, the good news of God reconciling the world in Jesus Christ. Answering their questions about angels, the writer refocuses the conversation by reminding them of the Old Testament, specifically the Psalms. Jesus, as a human, was given by God the world, angels were not given such a high and lofty responsibility. They have a purpose but not this one.

Fascination with the more mystical side of our faith can help clarify as to the relationship between God and God’s creation. Angels are created beings, like humanity. Their role, mysterious as it is, is not our role. God gave humanity a unique role in all of creation, to tend to it and nurture it. What a privilege and responsibility! Because of this pride of place, it was essential for Jesus to take on the flesh of humanity to redeem all of creation. Entering into our creaturely existence, Jesus faced the temptations we all face, yet failed not. He is the pioneer of our faith, the writer of Hebrews tells us. He is the first to do this, Paul tells us. He is the apex of creation, the beginning and the end. So we turn to Jesus, with all the angels of heaven, and all creation, to worship him.

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