Septuagesima Sermon: Tested and True
12 February AD 2017
Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Tested and True.
Summary: “Massah and Meribah” — “Quarreling and Testing” — define much of the human condition. Bickering and backbiting, pushing boundaries and defying limits — these extend beyond our misbehavior toward one another: They’ve been part of man’s relationship with God since the Fall.
As we wander about in our own “wilderness of sin,” we find excuses to quarrel with each other and test God whenever anything doesn’t go exactly as we desire. And if God held our rebellions against us, we would dread His presence. Already inclined to turn away from Word and Sacrament God’s wrath against sinners could drive us completely away. Even the testings He sends to guide, instruct, purify, or strengthen His people would be misinterpreted.
Yet try as we might to push against God, He works even harder to pull back. He sent Jesus to face the most severe testing any sinner could ever face, even though His Son was sinless. Rather than quarrel with His Father, Jesus came to end our sinful, selfish quarrels with God and humanity. Jesus brings peace and reconciliation to all who believe on Him.
He sends the Holy Spirit to lead us back to the promises of our baptism, to create a desire for pure Gospel proclamation and a hunger and thirst for the blessed communion of His Son’s body and blood. He pardons us and works His good through us. He will never abandon us in this wilderness into which we are born but instead shepherds us onward, leading us toward the eternal green pastures and still waters that await His beloved sheep.
Text: All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?”
But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.”
And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” Exodus 17:1-7
Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Tested and True.
NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.
Other Readings: Psalm 95:1-9; 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:5; Matthew 20:1-16