The Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity.
1 Chronicles 29.10-13
Benedictus es, Domine Deus Israel
Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, * for ever and ever.
Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: * for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine;
Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, * and thou art exalted as head above all.
Both riches and honour come of thee, * and thou reignest over all;
And in thine hand is power and might; *and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.
Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, * and praise thy glorious name.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son * and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall
be, * world without end. Amen.
GOD, our refuge and strength, who art the author
of all godliness; Be ready, we beseech thee, to hear the devout prayers of thy
Church; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain
effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 64.1-12
Psalter: Psalm 126, 127, 128 | 140, 141
Epistle Reading: Philippians 3.17-21
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 22.15-22
Since March I have been writing a weekly letter to our congregation. The following is from this last week’s letter:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
When there are social storms or personal problems, it is easy to lose sight of what is vastly valuable and truly treasurable. I was reminded of this while working back through Isaiah 33:5-22 for this Sunday evening. The whole chapter is full of stress and smoke and suffering, but also teeming with promises and true treasure. For the next few weeks I will be looking over one of those packets of the promising, specifically Isaiah 33:5-6:
“The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
and he will be the stability of your times,
abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure.”
In this letter today, let’s examine the first line and the final line.
True: The first line is what faithful Christian ministers who know their God-given business always declare, it’s true no matter the events or environments we experience, “The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high.” For some people, there are days or weeks or years where it takes real faith to hold on to this. But it’s true no matter the occasions or conditions we encounter. It’s true whether your candidate won or lost, or whether your job holds or folds. It’s true in life, sickness, health, or death. “The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high”! And holding on to what is true aids us in recognizing our treasure.
Treasure: The final line presents us with our real treasure, “the fear of the LORD is Zion's treasure.” Reverence for the Lord, veneration of the Lord, astonishment in the Lord, amazement about the Lord, is the church’s treasure, wealth, and fortune. If the LORD is exalted and dwells on high, then the investment of our faith in him holds, and holds strong. Not because of the quality of our faith, but the quality of the One in whom we have faith!
That the fear of the LORD is our treasure is exactly what is pounded on in Proverbs. For example, “In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death… Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 14:26-27; 23:17-18). This fear of God enriches God’s people, especially when striving to do the right things when so much personal or social wrong is going on. As Paul points out, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Because the LORD is exalted and dwells on high, we are reminded what our real treasure is, for “the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure.”
Sandwiched between the first and final statements are four salacious morsels to nourish our hearts and beef up our hope, which we’ll take up starting next week. Until then, keep your heart focused on our true treasure.
Brothers and sisters, rehearse the truth that “the LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high” and remember that “the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure.”