Lectionary Notes - 09/21/08
* Israel complains about having no food to the point where they say they wished they had died in Egypt
* The Lord provides both meat in the evening and manna from heaven in the morning
* Give thanks to the Lord for all His wondrous works
* Sings of how God brought Israel out of Egypt with spoil
* And also how God provided food and water for them throughout the journey
* Every day bless God
* For all His mighty deeds
* For His greatness, His Glory, and His Mercy
* When Nineveh repents, God has mercy on them
* Jonah is angry because he knew God was merciful and now Jonah looked like a fool and a liar
* God sends shade to Jonah and then allows it to wither
* Jonah is angry over the shade’s destruction.
* God points out that while Jonah was only concerned for his comfort, God is concerned for the people
* Paul says that he is torn between wishing to be with Christ and remaining on earth to be of service
* He reminds Philemon that our conduct should be worthy of the Gospel
* Not only to believe but to suffer if called to do so
* The parable of the landowner and the laborers
* A landowner hires laborers at different times during the day
* Each group agreed to the wages
* At the end of the day, the group there the longest was miffed because the later groups were paid the same as they
* The landowner points out that it is his goods and money to do with as he pleases.
In the Exodus reading and that of Jonah, we have examples of God’s mercy. With the Israelite’s, they are so aggravated that they say they would rather have stayed in slavery. I believe this is one of those dramatic complaints. You’ve heard it, I’m sure, from young children or not-so-young children. “If I have to do <x>, I’m going to die!!” Or, “I’ll die if I don’t get <y>!”
Did the Israelites really believe it would have been better for them to die in Egypt? I hope not. But like many of us, including myself (especially myself!) when trials begin, we immediately turn to the dramatic hyperbole and histrionics. And yet, for all this melodrama, the Lord provides them both meat and bread.
With Jonah, we have a similar situation. Jonah, after running away from his commission, finally delivers the message to Nineveh. Lo and Behold! They repent! And guess what happens? God forgives them and retracts the destruction prophesied. Jonah’s reaction to this is quite amazing to me. I can’t imagine actually saying these things to God Himself. But, then I realize, I may not be vocalizing but I’m thinking it! Picture it. Jonah, walking around, maybe waving his hands in the air, saying, “I KNEW it! I KNEW it! I knew I shouldn’t have come. You’re also so merciful God. I knew if You had the slightest reason, you’d forgive these Assyrians. It just figures!”
Remember, the Assyrians were not very well liked by the Israelites. In fact, they were enemies. Imagine how hard it would have been to see your God forgiving someone who you absolutely, positively despise. Jonah was resentful and angry. And yet, God had mercy.
All of the Psalm readings praise God for His works, His wonders, and His mercy and provision.
In the New Testament book of Philemon, Paul wants us to behave in a manner worthy of our Lord. Is it really difficult to suffer when the Lord has been so merciful? Should we doubt His mercy because of trials? Each of us face different trials according to our strength and faith. Is it not comforting and encouraging to think that, if we behave well, we glorify our Savior and Redeemer in front of others? If you love someone, will you not go out of your way for them? How much more should we be willing to go out of our way for The One who has died for us?
Finally, in the parable of the landowner in Matthew, we have groups who have worked for different lengths of time receiving the same wage. When the group that was there the longest complained, the response was, “It’s my money. I can do with it what I want.”
In Exodus, God tells Moses – “I will show mercy upon whom I will show mercy” (Exodus 33:19) Or in other words, “It’s my Mercy”
It is not for us to say what trials a person should undergo. Nor are we to decide what should and should not be forgiven. We know what we have been forgiven. Remembering our own debt, let us not feel envious or angry over another’s. Rather let us learn to rejoice over God’s mercy regardless of who receives it or how much they receive. At the bottom line, none of us deserve any mercy whatsoever. It is mercy not repayment. It is a gift never earned. If we can claim no right to any mercy, we cannot presume to declare the amount of mercy that another deserves. No one can say one share is greater than another because God is not limited to a certain quantity. If the fountain is ever-flowing, then all will receive enough to drink.