Reading Ramblings – January 5, 2014


Date:  Second Sunday after Christmas, January 5, 2013

Texts: 1 Kings 3:4-15; Psalm 119:97-104; Ephesians 1:3-14; Luke 2:40-52

 

Context: What matters most when a child is educated?  What information is most pertinent to their health and well-being and success?  Educational models and standards change every few decades, yet Scripture points to wisdom grounded in the Word of God as a standard of education and wisdom that never needs to be revamped or updated.  Seeking wisdom from God is indeed the most important aspect of any person’s knowledge and education, regardless of their age or vocation.

1 Kings 3:4-15 —Solomon is described as exceedingly wise, but his wisdom is not an innate attribute or the result of education, but a gift from God.  Solomon’s humility in seeking wisdom from the Lord is the model for our lives as well.  Whatever we think we know, whatever we have achieved or received, we are to wait on the wisdom of the Lord, knowing that any other gift or ability or achievement pales in comparison with aligning our wisdom with God’s.  At a moment when Solomon might be expected to exalt himself, he humbles himself, and we learn that those who are humble in the Lord need never be ashamed!

Psalm 119:97-104— Psalm 119 is an acrostic, where each section of the psalm begins with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet.  The odd-sounding headers for each section are the different names of Hebrew letters.  But the psalm is unified around an exaltation of the Word of God, which is indeed what all the psalms are.  We immediately pick out the wisdom theme in verse 98, and verse 99 points towards the Gospel lesson in Luke 2.  But what infuses these verses is joy and delight—delight in the wisdom gained through the Lord’s Word.  This is often something that gets lost in exhortations to read the Bible and engage in Bible study—we come to these endeavors as privileged, invited guests of God.  Our time in His Word should improve our lives by making us wiser and by showing us the proper way to live. 

Ephesians 1:3-14 — This passage has led to great confusion, primarily because of some of the wording Paul uses.  Words translated as predestined have led some Christians to profess that God ordained at the dawn of creation who would and would not be saved.   Lutherans reject this interpretation of this passage because it flies in the face of passages in Scripture which clearly indicate that the Lord desires that all would be saved, and opens up the possibility of salvation to everyone.  Predestination theology is not a necessary interpretation of this passage, and relies on inserting an idea or thought into the passage that isn’t there:  and not others.  “he predestined us (and not others)”, “even as he chose us (and not others)”.  This thought is not in this passage though, and doesn’t need to be either! 

What is Paul talking about then?  God has chosen all people from the foundation of the world—intending that all should be holy and blameless. Sin has muddied the waters, and now not all people accept this choosing or recognize it, preferring to live their lives on their terms rather than God’s. 

Paul’s main thrust here is that the blessings in Jesus Christ are not new, but have been part of God’s plan from the beginning.  Jesus is not God’s Plan B to deal with Genesis 3 and the Fall into Sin—Jesus has been the plan from the beginning, just as God has known (as opposed to determined) from the beginning who would receive faith in Jesus Christ to salvation.  In Jesus we are blessed with salvation according to the wisdom of God, so that God might be praised and glorified in all things. 

Luke 2:40-52 — This is the only passage in Scripture that relates anything about Jesus’ childhood.  Jesus grows normally as a human child, but also He is blessed with the favor of his heavenly Father, so that He is wise beyond his years. 

Is Jesus disobedient in vs.43-47?  Not necessarily.  Jesus gets caught up in the discussion and debate with some of the finest minds in Israel.  Is his response disobedient  in verse 49?  Not necessarily—certainly Jesus does belong in his Father’s house, and Mary and Joseph of all people should have known to look for him there.  He does not reject their authority as parents, as He returns with them to Nazareth.  It is this same Temple that Jesus will continue returning to throughout his life, and that He will visit for the last time to cast out the moneychangers.  The Temple of the Lord is to be a place of learning about the Lord, seeking his wisdom, rather than as a place for commerce and exploitation of one another. 

Luke reiterates that Jesus grows in wisdom, a term that no doubt Luke’s hearers would associate with the Old Testament and particularly the Psalms and Proverbs.  Jesus does not come with some otherworldly wisdom.  He does not come with some new teaching or revelation.  Rather, He comes and is built up in wisdom through the Holy Scriptures, preparing him for his ministry ahead.  This also ties in with Paul’s words in Ephesians.  Jesus is not something brand new—He is the fulfillment of what God the Father planned from the beginning.  As such, He is the essence and embodiment of God’s wisdom in human form. 

 

We do not need to seek new wisdom or private inspiration and wisdom from God.  We have the Word of God in our hands and in our hearts and minds already!  When we are seeking God’s wisdom, this is the surest place to find it.  We might hear many fine ideas and thoughts in our heads, but how do we discern where those originate?  Whose voice speaks them?  Is it the Holy Spirit?  Is it our own wants and desires?  Is it Satan seeking to mislead us?  We are left uncertain.  But the Holy Scriptures remain our objective source for God’s wisdom.  This doesn’t mean that God the Holy Spirit can’t speak a word of wisdom directly to someone, but it does mean that we should not necessarily expect this or make this some subjective measure of holiness.  God has indeed spoken to us through his Son, and the account of his Son is recorded in the Bible.  What greater wisdom could we ever want or need?

 

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