Bible Readings and Devotion for April 24, 2020
Here are the references for the readings. Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:
Devotion for April 24, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
In the town where I first served as pastor there was a story about how the community got its name. The original name of the town was, “Pond Grove.” To this day the city cemetery is called, “Pond Grove Cemetery.” I was told that many decades ago there was a man in the city named William Otterbein Brown. He ran the stage coach stop and inn. He also served as the local postmaster. At some point he had to complete a form for the postal service. On this form there was a section to list the name of the town for the post office to use for official, national records. Mr. Brown made an odd choice that day which is still in effect. Instead of writing, “Pond Grove,” which was the name of the town, he wrote, “Otterbein.” That was his middle name. The postal service accepted this and it was now required for mailing letters to Pond Grove. So, to avoid further issues, the town renamed itself, “Otterbein.” The name has changed over time, but some still make mention of the old name, “Pond Grove.”
One of the lessons I work on teaching in my confirmation classes with junior high student is about how different words, places, and concepts are spoken of in multiple ways and contexts. Here are a couple of examples.
The place where Moses met with the Lord in the exodus has multiple names.
The Mount of God
These are all the same place, but in different contexts and times. It is not a contradiction. It is a bit like, “Pond Grove,” and “Otterbein.”
Another example is, “Israel.” This term is used many times in many contexts. To understand what it means at various times in God’s Word, one must seek out the context of the use. Here are several examples:
Israel: the special new name or nickname for Jacob. It was given him in Genesis 32 by the one who wrestled with the patriarch all night long.
Israel: the family of Jacob/Israel who numbered about 70 when they went to Egypt. There were the 12 sons of Jacob and their families.
Israel: the various people of the 12 Tribes which formed from the families of these 12 sons. They left their slavery in Egypt and eventually entered the promised land.
Israel: the united Kingdom ruled by Saul, then David, then by Solomon. ~1020 – 922 BC
Israel: the Northern Kingdom after the division of the of the nation after the death of Solomon. This was a nation between 922 and 721 BC. The Southern Kingdom took the name of the dominant tribe, Judah.
Israel: the bringing together of the history, faith and people of Israel and Judah into the one person, Jesus Christ.
Israel: the figurative, “Body of Christ,” which is the whole family of Christians. This noted as the “Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16.
So, Israel is a person, a family, a roaming nation, a united nation, and split off nation, a theological idea, and the regathering of humanity in Jesus.
That is where we get to today’s readings. In Psalm 125:1 we read, “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.” The psalm writer uses the image of the Temple mount and the dwelling place of God to talk about something which keeps us forever. This is both a literal and a figurative idea. The real place is called, “Mount Zion.” The figurative truth of God being steadfast with his people is called, “Zion.”
For followers of Jesus we use the term, “Zion,” in various ways. Here are some examples:
Zion: the mountain on which the Temple was built
Zion: the Temple itself
Zion: the city of Jerusalem, which hosted the Temple. This is the centerpiece of life and faith for the children of Israel over the centuries.
Zion: the relationship which the Lord provided for his people.
Zion: the place where God dwells anywhere in the world.
Zion: Jesus Christ, the one who replaces Priest, Sacrifice, and Temple for the world.
Zion: our faith connection with Jesus whenever and wherever he is for us.
This psalm is teaching us that, in Jesus, we have a firm and powerful foundation for our life and faith. We get to connect with the eternal Zion, Jesus Christ. We are held by the Lord, and we get to hold on to the Lord as well. In faith we look to the eternal Zion, Jesus Christ. As we are taught in John 4, we worship in Spirit and truth, and that happens anywhere in the creation where God and his people meet. Zion is, in a sense, in Waldeck and Carmine, and in any place and at any time God and his people are gathered in Jesus Christ, the eternal Zion. Jesus is where we connect with God, and he is a Zion of sorts for us. Zion is where the Kingdom of God is present. Zion is where the Holy Spirit seeks us out and draws us to Jesus. Our spiritual Zion is Jesus.
For the prayer use the words of this classic hymn, “O, Zion Haste”
O Zion, Haste
1 O Zion, haste, your mission high fulfilling,
to tell to all the world that God is light;
that he who made all nations is not willing
one soul should perish, lost in shades of night.
Publish glad tidings, tidings of peace,
tidings of Jesus, redemption, and release.
2 Publish to ev’ry people, tongue, and nation
that God, in whom they live and move, is love;
tell how he stooped to save his lost creation
and died on earth that we might live above. Refrain
3 Give of your own to bear the message glorious,
give of your wealth to speed them on their way,
pour out your soul for them in prayer victorious,
and haste the coming of the glorious day. Refrain
4 He comes again! O Zion, ere you meet him,
make known to ev’ry heart his saving grace;
let none whom he has ransomed fail to greet him,
through your neglect, unfit to see his face. Refrain
Text: Mary A. Thomson, 1834-1923