Luke 15:3-7 ESV
Ezekiel 37:1-14 ESV
Matthew 5:17-20 ESV
A prayer of praise by David near the end of his life, as he is passing the kingship to Solomon and finalizing the offerings to be used in building the great temple in Jerusalem. “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.” David simply acknowledging that the Lord made it all, gave it all, and will continue to provide it all. We are only here on God’s green earth for short time, and we will have nothing while we are here that is not a gift from him.
“O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you.” Houses, cars, electronic, TVs, all those things we fall into worshipping over God, all those things we acquire over our lifetimes while saying we don’t have anything left to give back to God, yes all of these things are made with materials provided by him, with knowledge illuminated from him, with skills gifted by Him. Maybe it would be appropriate to pray passionately in recognition that it all came from Him, that nothing would be without Him making it first, and that we can give nothing back to Him that He did not give us in the first place!!
BTW – the gold and silver donated by David and the people of Israel for the construction of the temple, if we read correctly exactly what written was given, totals up to $4.5 Billion…quite an offering!!
“Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.” Then David said to all the assembly, “Bless the Lord your God.” And all the assembly blessed the Lord, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the Lord and to the king. And they offered sacrifices to the Lord, and on the next day offered burnt offerings to the Lord, 1,000 bulls, 1,000 rams, and 1,000 lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel. And they ate and drank before the Lord on that day with great gladness. And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and they anointed him as prince for the Lord, and Zadok as priest.”
1 Chronicles 29:10-22 ESV
This is a parable that leaves many of us scratching our heads and aggravated, especially we “rugged Americans.” We (I) read this and get defensive and antsy because we (I) immediately identify with the laborers who started at 6 am. We work hard for our money, but we have our own expectation of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
“After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.” So these guys start early, and agree to the value of their days wage. Here it is one denarius, maybe today it might be $150??!!
“And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’” So, this vineyard owner is just all about putting people to work!! So, clearly we have a vineyard owner who is interested in getting people to work!! Full day, partial day, whatever!! He is putting people to work!!
“And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius.” How would your local labor union deal with this guy?? Imagine those laborers who started at 6 am, the twelve hour workers. They must have really thought they were going to clean up when they saw all these short timers getting a days wage!! If I had been one of them, I’d have been expecting at least a double share, at least $300!! After all, I’d been there all day, it’s only fair!! Right??!!
And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ There I am!! It REALLY upsets us to read this and hear about those bums showing up at 5 o’clock, working for an hour, and taking the same paycheck home as we do!! But look even closer – “you have made them equal to us!” There’s the real rub!! Aren’t we BETTER than they are? We’ve been here all along! We get up earlier, work longer hours, and get more done!! What would you do without us? We DEMAND OUR RIGHTS!!
“But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”” Jesus Christ was, and IS, so completely counter culture. In a world where we are all about counting what’s ours, demanding our rights, Jesus loves to turn the world upside down. We have a right to better pay, a nicer house, a cooler car. Jesus just keeps giving mercy to all. Just imagine if, 12 hour worker or not, we all got what we have coming to us? We are all sinners….and “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 ESV All of a sudden, maybe we don’t want what we have coming!! Maybe we’re a little more agreeable to grace and mercy, as long as WE are receiving it (of course).
Now let’s really get counter cultural. What if….we are not the twelve hour worker after all? What if we’re “that guy” – the one sitting at Home Depot doing nothing all day until someone picks him up near the end of the workday to put in a couple of hours in the fields somewhere. What if we’re “that guy” – who gets a full days wage for far less than a full days work?? What if I tell you that we are ALL “that guy” to some extent? Peter is the disciple who asked Jesus – “Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”” Matthew 19:27 ESV. This parable is part of the extended response given by Jesus to Peter’s question. Peter is basically asking – “What’s in it for us?” Peter is one of the 12 hour workers here. He was there from the beginning. Of maybe he isn’t…weren’t Moses and all the prophets, even the everyday Jews of history to this point, weren’t they all there before even Simon Peter? Maybe Peter is a 9 hour worker in this story. One thing I know, most of those reading this, no matter who you are, is at best maybe a 3 hour worker?? I KNOW that I personally am nothing more than a one hour worker. Even when I could, should, or would have been following Jesus, I wasn’t. I lived for myself my way for 42 years. It was only after hitting a bottom that embarrassed my wife and family, a bottom that nearly cost me my family and could gave cost my job, did I go into recovery, meet Christ, accept the offer given, and get to work!! And – I already know that I’m getting a full days wage. I have a purpose for living, my sins are forgiven, and I have a home waiting in heaven. In other words – I’M GETTIN’ PAID THE WHOLE $150!! Realizing I’m only a one hour worker in this story changes my perception of everything. This story certainly doesn’t raise my blood pressure any more. Hopefully, it lowers yours a bit too!!
Matthew 20:1-16 ESV
Writing is mine, theme borrowed from Pastor Brian Zahnd at Word of Life Ministry
When we read some of the Old Testament prophets, it’s not too hard to figure out why they were always so unpopular. Amos here goes right after the powers that be of his time – “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’” Nothing tactful about that one, is there!! Not just insulting the ruling class of the time, but making it personal, referring to the wives of the most powerful men, the 1% of their day, as “fat cows!” This reminds me of James’ warning against ill-gotten gain, because these women had come into their wealth in a bad manner, oppressing the poor and crushing the needy. And they are outrageous in their wealth, demanding that they be served their food and wine, sitting adding no value to the world just soaking it up. I just say this as a contrast to Jesus, who declared – “For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” Luke 22:27 ESV
“The Lord God has sworn by his holiness that, behold, the days are coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks. And you shall go out through the breaches, each one straight ahead; and you shall be cast out into Harmon.” Interesting note here – within ten years, enemies would overtake this area and lead all the wealthiest people of Judea into captivity. So these “fat cows” very soon after this would live the fulfillment of the prophecy given through Amos. Seems like a good thing to me that we have not seen the fulfillment of prophesies that might apply to us without the chance to change or ways…
“Come to Bethel, and transgress; to Gilgal, and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days; offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel!” declares the Lord God.” – quite the sarcasm from a prophet of God!! This, to me, sounds like so much of modern Christianity. we come every Sunday. We give done offering out of our own personal overflow to claim our obedience. We leave church on Sunday, and for about 6 days 22 hours we continue to multiply our transgressions, doing as we please, until we show up the next Sunday to make sure we show the world how Godly we are. Again, good thing for us the fulfillment of prophesy has not been so immediate.
““Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’ The Lord God has sworn by his holiness that, behold, the days are coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks. And you shall go out through the breaches, each one straight ahead; and you shall be cast out into Harmon,” declares the Lord. “Come to Bethel, and transgress; to Gilgal, and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days; offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel!” declares the Lord God.”
Amos 4:1-5 ESV