Christ Lutheran Church
September 26, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
On Being A Prophet
And Moses said to him, "Are you jealous on my account? If only all the LORD's people were prophets; and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them all." Numbers 11:29 (lxx:dck)
We live in an age of confusion where no one seems to know who he is, or what is expected of him. Men are expected to be women, and women to be men. Children to be adults, and adults children. Today criminals are lionized, and the police villainized. In short we live in an age of chaos, and chaos is the work of the devil.
Nor does he need to work very hard to destroy us! He only needs to plant the seeds of discord, and then play his fiddle while Gehenna burns with the fuel of human foolishness.
Gehenna was the valley on the south side of the city of Jerusalem where garbage was dumped. It burned day and night, and was never extinguished. Gehenna here is code for hell which is the domain of the devil and his demons, and there is no place worse than that!
Anyone who hears today’s gospel, or today’s Old Testament reading might assume that Scripture praises rebels such as Eldad and Medad in today’s Old Testament reading. Or those who were not part of Jesus’s school of disciples, but were expelling demons in His name none the less. We don’t know why they did what they did, but neither Moses nor Jesus seemed to object. Quite the contrary they praised these non-conformists, and instructed their disciples not to stop them.
But let us not make any hasty generalizations, because you won’t find a sticker on chaos that reads: Made In China or Made in the USA. But the sticker on chaos reads: Made In Gehenna. It might even say: no animals have been harmed in the making of this chaos; but it fails to mention the countless people who have been.
Don’t be one of them!
Now on hearing today’s holy readings there are several possible conclusions we can reach.
ONE CONCLUSION is that Jesus praises rebels, and welcomes those who are not exactly members of the church catholic.
Today we could mention those denominations that we consider less than orthodox; who don’t seem to deal in the central truths of the holy Christian religion which are: the Cross, Scripture, Baptism, and Eucharist by which we are made part of Christ’s, and heirs of the kingdom of God. We think of these other denomination as living beneath the spiritual poverty line, and we even warn our own people against hanging around theologically bad neighborhoods. But Moses does not reject them out of hand, nor did Jesus.
Sometimes competition is good!
OR WE COULD CONCLUDE what Jesus concludes. “If anyone is not against us, he is for us.” Something to think about in a world that can no longer tolerate the Truth.
OR WE COULD CONCLUDE what Moses does: “If only all the LORD's people were prophets; and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them all."
While it is not the business of the Lutheran Pastor to trash other Christians from the pulpit, it is his work to teach true doctrine, orthodox practice, and to warn his own flock against error.
It is his Calling to communicate grace mercy and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,” through the Word of God that he speaks.
It is his charge to warn his flock against sin. To caution them in the strongest possible terms against scandalizing other Christians especially the young by loose lips and loose living. Or against letting their own flesh lead them into Gehenna, where the fire is never extinguished, and where one can never die.
However awful that sounds, it is. But it is also avoidable.
If your hand, foot, or eye causes you to sin cut them off! For it is better to enter Eternal Life crippled, maimed or with only one eye, than to be cast into Gehenna.
Mighty strong talk from “luvvy dovvy Jesus” isn’t it?
It is meant to be!
But what is not meant is that you actually do harm to yourself. This is a place where one must not take the Bible literally. But rather believe that the glories of heaven are of far greater worth than the deceptive and deadly “pleasures” of sin, which last only for a season. They go away, but Gehenna keeps burning.
But best of all is this.
Instead of being unruly sinners, or respectable ones, Moses prays that all of God’s people would be prophets; and what Moses prayed for, Jesus delivered! By our Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection you are the Lord’s people. You possess, or rather are possessed of, his Holy Spirit. And you are his prophets.
You are his prophets, and as such the Holy Spirit dwells in the sacred and holy temple of your body and your mind, and leads you in the way of Peace. This is the Lord’s will for us according to today’s gospel: that you have salt in you, which is to say goodness, and that we should live in peace among one another.
But let us be clear as to what it means to be a prophet. The word prophet can mean one who predicts the future, but that is not what it means here. In the words of St. Peter to be a prophet means to, “ … shew forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light …” (1 Peter 2:9) … the very thing we are engaged in at this time.
First as prophets we HEAR the Word of the Lord by the medium of Scripture, and then we speak it aloud. But to whom do we speak it?
First we speak it aloud to God himself. Such speech demonstrates that we have heard, believed and received these words as God’s own, and now we speak them back to him. Now we close the circuit that was broken by sin and made whole again by the cross. We speak them back in the form of worship, praise, thanksgiving, prayers, creeds, hymns and especially by the Great Declaration “AMEN” in response to “The Body of Christ,” “The Blood of Christ.”
Secondly we speak them aloud to one another and our joy becomes full, because God’s prophets love nothing more than to hear these incomparable words of eternal life, that make us joyful, forgive our sins, and heal our sicknesses as we learn in St. James today. (James 5)
Thirdly the precious words that God’s prophets speak in his House do not stay in his House. Instead we take them with us into the world so that we can understand the world, all that is in it, and all who are in it, from the divine perspective! And as opportunity becomes abundantly clear we speak these priceless pearls to those who want to know.
To those who are saved a prophet’s words are the sweet aroma of Christ; but to those who are perishing the stench of death. And who is equal to such a task? (2 Corinthians 2:15-16) Only those who are made prophets by his Holy Spirit in baptism.
You are those people.
Christ be praised.