Saturday of the 15th Week after Trinity

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 1:37-2:15

They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. (Nehemiah 8:8 from the Introit for Trinity 16)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Israelites of Nehemiah's time were unsure about sound doctrine and unsure whose teachings they should follow. They were returning from an exile precipitated by their ancestors' failure to know and follow God's Word and by poor, misguided, sinful, or non-existent spiritual leadership from kings, priests, and false prophets.

The "Book of the Law of Moses" that they heard was likely either Deuteronomy or else the whole Pentateuch--the first five biblical books. This means that they not only heard words of command and punishment (Law) but also words of forgiveness, restoration, and hope (Gospel). And because they might have not grasped everything, Ezra and the Levites took time to explain as they read.

God continues to explain His Word to us. Parents, pastors, and teachers should be part of the process. Lutherans have a special example in the makeup of the Small Catechism, where both Law and Gospel are explained as they are applied.

We never outgrow the need to have the Word explained and applied by God's servants. Men, women, and older children all gathered to hear the reading (8:2) and they must have heard things that cut them to the heart, since Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites had to console the people. We receive the same from faithful pastors today.

As we grow up, we grow in the need to apply Scripture to complex life situations. We need pastors whose explanation and application of God's Word both accuses and comforts us in preparation for external challenges, while guarding against complacency or spiritual boredom as we grow in body, mind, and spirit. Through this, you'll continue to hear the same simple message of Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection on your behalf even as you gain confidence that this message of hope is suitable for even the darkest, most complex moments of life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

God's Word is our great heritage and shall be ours forever; To spread its light from age to age Shall be our chief endeavor. Through life it guides our way, In death it is our stay. Lord, grant, while worlds endure, We keep its teachings pure Throughout all generations. (God's Word Is Our Great Heritage, LSB 582)

This reflection is available as an mp3, click here to download and listen to it.