From the Word: 25 Now to him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that has been kept silenced through prolonged ages, 26 but now has been revealed, and through prophetic writings, is made known to all the nations, according to the command of the eternal God, for obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be the glory forever through Jesus Christ. Amen. (Romans 16:25–27)
From the Confessions: The Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments
The First Commandment
You shall have no other gods before me.
It is because of blockheads who think that God allows them to rest in security, and thus, that he is either completely ignorant or cares nothing about such matters, that he must deal a smashing blow and punish them so sternly that he does not forget his fury down to their children’s children. His intention is that everyone may take note and observe that this is no joke to him. These are those whom he means when he says, “who hate Me,” that is, those who persist in their defiance and pride. They will not listen no matter what is preached or said to them. When they are rebuked, in order that they are brought to their senses and might mend their ways before the punishment begins, they become so mad and foolish that they merit the wrath they get, as we notice daily with bishops and princes.
Pulling It Together: Because the Israelites lived with the evil in the land, instead of driving it out as God commanded, God allowed to happen what would, of course, transpire. The same thing has happened in our own country: having grown complacent with evil, it eventually becomes our authority. Culture now commands us: Do this. Think that. You can’t say that! Thus, we, like the Israelites at the time of the Judges, find ourselves “in sore straits” (Judges 2:15 RSV).
Will God abandon us to evil, to the outcome of own adolescent misbehavior? Surely not. He has made a covenant with his people, confirmed in the blood of Christ, who has given us his Spirit as a guarantee of his plans for us: forgiveness, resurrection, eternal life. To help us toward his ends, he has also given us the written revelation of himself, in order that we may believe, that there is created in us the “obedience of faith”—despite the times.
Prayer: Give me courageous strength, Lord, to believe in you even in times like these. Amen.
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The General Epistles offers a series of 12 Bible studies based on Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, I, II, & III John, and Jude. The geographical locations of Biblical characters can symbolically refer to places we find ourselves with respect to our faith. As we become more acquainted with our spiritual geography, we will better discern where God would have us go or what changes we need to make in order to serve him better.