Wednesday after Trinity 17 (St. Michael and All Angels)

7The law of the LORD is perfect, reviv- | ing the soul;*
         the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the | simple;

8the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing | the heart;*
         the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening | the eyes;

9the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for- | ever;*
         the just decrees of the LORD are true, and righteous alto- | gether.

10More to be desired are they than gold, even | much fine gold;*
         sweeter also than honey and drippings of the | honeycomb.

11Moreover, by them is your | servant warned;*
         in keeping them there is | great reward.

12Who can dis- | cern his errors?*
         Declare me innocent from | hidden faults.

13Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion | over me!*
         Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great trans- | gression.

14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable | in your sight,*
         O LORD, my rock and my re- | deemer.
               —Psalm 19:7–14

Additional Psalm: Psalm 34

Old Testament Reading:
Deuteronomy 1:19–36
Israel’s Refusal to Enter the Land
19“Then we set out from Horeb and went through all that great and terrifying wilderness that you saw, on the way to the hill country of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us. And we came to Kadesh-barnea. 20And I said to you, ‘You have come to the hill country of the Amorites, which the LORD our God is giving us. 21See, the LORD your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’ 22Then all of you came near me and said, ‘Let us send men before us, that they may explore the land for us and bring us word again of the way by which we must go up and the cities into which we shall come.’ 23The thing seemed good to me, and I took twelve men from you, one man from each tribe. 24And they turned and went up into the hill country, and came to the Valley of Eshcol and spied it out. 25And they took in their hands some of the fruit of the land and brought it down to us, and brought us word again and said, ‘It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us.’

26“Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. 27And you murmured in your tents and said, ‘Because the LORD hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. 28Where are we going up? Our brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.”’ 29Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them. 30The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, 31and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ 32Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the LORD your God, 33who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go.

The Penalty for Israel’s Rebellion
34“And the LORD heard your words and was angered, and he swore, 35‘Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers, 36except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the LORD!’”

New Testament Reading:
Matthew 5:21–48
21“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

31“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

33“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

38“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Love Your Enemies
43“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Concerning the revelation of sin, Moses’ veil hangs [2 Corinthians 3:12–16] before the eyes of all people as long as they hear the bare preaching of the Law, and nothing about Christ. Therefore, they do not learn from the Law to see their sins correctly. They either become bold hypocrites ‹who swell with the opinion of their own righteousness› like the Pharisees [Matthew 23], or they despair like Judas [Matthew 27:3–5]. Therefore, Christ takes the Law into His hands and explains it spiritually (Matthew 5:21–48; Romans 7:14). In this way God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all sinners [Romans 1:18], so that they see how great it is. In this way they are directed back to the Law, and then they first learn from it to know their sins correctly—a knowledge that Moses never could have forced out of them.

According to this, the preaching of the suffering and death of Christ, the Son of God, is a serious and terrifying proclamation and declaration of God’s wrath. By such preaching people are first led into the Law correctly—after Moses’ veil has been removed from them. Then they understand correctly for the first time what great things God requires of us in His Law, none of which we can keep. Therefore, they know we are to seek all our righteousness in Christ.

… As long as all this (namely, Christ’s suffering and death) proclaims God’s wrath and terrifies a person, it is still not properly the preaching of the Gospel. It remains the preaching of Moses and the Law, and it is, therefore, an alien work of Christ. Passing through this teaching, Christ arrives at His proper office, that is, to preach grace, console, and give life, which is properly the preaching of the Gospel.
               —Epitome of the Formula of Concord V 8–10

What is the [angels’] attitude toward men? This the Lord Christ reveals with one word when He calls them “their angels,” that is, the angels of the little ones, the servants of the children and all believers… They render this service to every Christian in manifold ways. While we are children, God assigns our angels to us, as Christ tells us in the holy gospel. When we grow older and go our own way, that is, walk in the ways of our calling, God also assigns angels to us (Ps. 91:11,12). When we sleep, the angels watch and protect us against the devil. When we die, they carry our soul to Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22). Their protection is ours through life… Why is that the angels readily serve the believers though they are much nobler and higher than we? (1) Because they are confirmed in the good and therefore gladly and fully obey God’s will. God’s will and order is that they serve us (Heb. 1:14). The army of the heavens—sun, moon, and stars—maintain their order given them by God for man’s sake. All the more will the heavenly army of the holy angels maintain its order. (2) Because our nature is raised in Christ above all angels and archangels (Eph. 1:20, 21; Heb. 1:4). Therefore the angels do not refuse to serve us men, in honor of the human nature assumed by Christ. As an entire race is brought to honor by a marriage, so the marriage of the Son of God with humanity has restored the human race to honor (Matt. 22:2). What wonder, then, that the angels serve us, since the Son of God, the Lord of the angels, came to earth that He might serve us? (3) Because love is pure and perfect in them, the angels joyfully serve us, as does the Lord, who Himself is Love (1 John 4:8), in whose image the angels were created, and who declared: “I will rejoice in doing them good” (Jer. 32:41). (4) Finally, because we shall someday be with them in heaven and join their choir in praising God, the angels are happy to serve us here on earth.
               —Johann Gerhard

“You shall not murder, hurt, nor hate;
Your anger dare not dominate.
Be kind and patient; help, defend,
And treat your foe as your friend.”
         Have mercy, Lord!
               —These Are the Holy Ten Commands (LSB 581:6)

Prayer of the Day
Everlasting God, You have ordained and constituted the service of angels and men in a wonderful order. Mercifully grant that, as Your holy angels always serve and worship You in heaven, so by Your appointment they may also help and defend us here on earth; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (F29)

St. Michael and All Angels
The name of the archangel St. Michael means “Who is like God?” Michael is mentioned in the Book of Daniel (12:1), as well as in Jude (v. 9) and Revelation (12:7). Daniel portrays Michael as the angelic helper of Israel who leads the battle against the forces of evil. In Revelation, Michael and his angels fight against and defeat Satan and the evil angels, driving them from heaven. Their victory is made possible by Christ’s own victory over Satan in His death and resurrection, a victory announced by the voice in heaven: “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come” (Revelation 12:10). Michael is often associated with Gabriel and Raphael, the other chief angels or archangels who surround the throne of God. Tradition names Michael as the patron and protector of the Church, especially as the protector of Christians at the hour of death.

Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord
Apology of the Augsburg Confession XIIb (VI) 67–76 [164–173]

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.