Worship at 9 am
10:15 am Sunday School
Pastor Glenn Zimbelman
|Evangelical Lutheran Church in America|
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Jacob and Esau
Picture of Elderly Couple
An elderly husband and wife visit their doctor when they begin forgetting little things. Their doctor tells them that many people find it useful to write themselves little notes. When they get home, the wife says, "Dear, will you please go to the kitchen and get me a dish of ice cream? And maybe write that down so you won't forget?" "Nonsense," says the husband, "I can remember a dish of ice cream." "Well," says the wife, "I'd also like some strawberries and whipped cream on it." "My memory's not all that bad," says the husband. "No problem - a dish of ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream. I don't need to write it down." He goes into the kitchen; his wife hears pots and pans banging around. The husband finally emerges from the kitchen and presents his wife with a plate of bacon and eggs. She looks at the plate and asks, "Hey, where's the toast I asked for?"
I know memory issues hits all of us as we get older. It is very difficult and heart wrenching to watch parents or loved ones deal with memory issues. It is one thing for you and I to become forgetful. It is a completely another thing when it comes to God.
Picture Of Egypt
Last week we heard about Jacob and Esau. Jacob will have 12 sons and one of them, Joseph, will end up with a positon in the Egyptian government. Fast forward a couple of hundred years and we will find the Israel nation has grown. They moved to Egypt and prospered. But now there is new Egyptian leadership and they feel threatened by the Hebrew. So to answer the threat, they enslave them. Now the Hebrew are in slavery and all that goes with it. Please remember that many would not even know about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And certainly if that God exists, why would they care about the people in Egypt?
So we read in Exodus 2:23
“After a long time the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God looked up the Israelites, and God took notice of them”
It is hard when God is absent. For many, even though the world is a great mess, there is comfort that God has some say in the manner. Yet when God feels absent, when the suffering continues, and pretty soon we begin to question everything. Not only will we wonder about our God, we change our thinking to imagine that God no longer is a caring and loving God. And if God is no longer caring or loving, why have anything to do with this God! In the Old Testament when God remembers, it is a reminder that God keeps God’s promises.
It is a reminder that God cares. It can be frustrating at times. Remember how long Abraham and Sarah waited on God to have a child? The good news for us is that Jesus is the Immanuel, which means God is with us. We proclaim that Jesus is present where we are gathered and especially during Holy Communion. Lutherans believe in the real presence of Jesus. This is why we do it every Sunday. So if God is present, than God remembers. Our lives may not be perfect but at least we have a God who cares. But there is more to this story than that.
When Moses encounters God at the burning bush, he dares to ask for God’s name. We read in 3:14,
“God said to Moses, “I am who I am. He said further, Thus you shall say to the Israelites, I am has sent me to you””
This has been translated into the word Yahweh often used for God in the Old Testament. Some have translated the saying into the word Jehovah which most scholars think is incorrect. But there is something significant in God saying God’s name. I am is certainly an interesting definition of God. It is both mysterious and powerful. For I am implies that God has always been and always will be. Yet with the name giving is something deeper.
Picture of Pickleball
I haven’t played much pickle ball lately. The other day I went out at 7 am and played with some people at Copper Sky. I looked at this person and the very first thing that comes out of my mouth is this, What is your name? His name was Jim. Jim is just the nicest guy ever. He is a very good pickle ball player. He is turning 72. Do you know what really makes Jim special? He was wearing a Seattle Seahawks hat. Yes he is from Carnation, Washington. See I know a bit about Jim and it all begins with asking Jim’s name. If we are going to be in relationship with anyone, we start with names don’t we?
Do you know what God tells Moses to do when he goes to get the people out of slavery? God tells Moses to do some name dropping. He says, tell the people, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob remembers you. Last week we learned of how important family and genealogy is. We can assume they would know of their ancestors. Yet God giving God’s name says this is more important than name dropping. Yahweh wants to be connected to Israel. Yahweh wants to be in relationship. Yahweh doesn’t want to be some distant God who no one can access. God, Yahweh wants to be connected with God’s people. Now Moses will have all kinds of excuses and reasons why he should not be the one to lead Israel. Yet God sees in Moses what Moses doesn’t see in himself! God will use Moses with all his faults to do great things. But, it begins with a deeper connection, the use of God’s name leads the way.
In preparation for this message, I read the main exodus story this week. Moses is now in Egypt and having encounters not only with Israelites who don’t believe in him, but with Pharaoh as well. We come across a very interesting verse in chapter 6:2
“God also spoke to Moses and said to him, I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name “The Lord”, I did not make myself known to them”.
God is saying, I want to go deeper. I want Israel to know me. I want them to know my name.
Picture of Jesus
We use the word Incarnation to mean God becomes human and dwells upon us. It is a major theme of Christmas. I don’t know if you realize it or not, but we have access to God through the Holy Spirit by the way of Jesus. This means that we can place our hopes, dreams, desires, hurts, and all of our sorrows in the Savior of the world. So while we may certainly grab ahold of the name Yahweh from the Old Testament, we Christians also have God’s son who is with us. Be reminded of these words from Philippians 2:9-11
God also highly exalted him
Let us pray…..
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