Thursday after Trinity 19

1When Israel went out from | Egypt,*
         the house of Jacob from a people of strange | language,

2Judah became his sanctu- | ary,*
         Israel his do- | minion.

3The sea | looked and fled;*
         Jordan | turned back.

4The mountains | skipped like rams,*
         the | hills like lambs.

5What ails you, O sea, | that you flee?*
         O Jordan, that you | turn back?

6O mountains, that you | skip like rams?*
         O | hills, like lambs?

7Tremble, O earth, at the presence | of the Lord,*
         at the presence of the God of | Jacob,

8who turns the rock into a pool of | water,*
         the flint into a spring of | water.
               —Psalm 114

Additional Psalm: Psalm 124

Old Testament Reading:
Deuteronomy 12:13–32
[The LORD’s Chosen Place of Worship]
13“Take care that you do not offer your burnt offerings at any place that you see, 14but at the place that the LORD will choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I am commanding you.

15“However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your towns, as much as you desire, according to the blessing of the LORD your God that he has given you. The unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and as of the deer. 16Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it out on the earth like water. 17You may not eat within your towns the tithe of your grain or of your wine or of your oil, or the firstborn of your herd or of your flock, or any of your vow offerings that you vow, or your freewill offerings or the contribution that you present, 18but you shall eat them before the LORD your God in the place that the LORD your God will choose, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your towns. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all that you undertake. 19Take care that you do not neglect the Levite as long as you live in your land.

20“When the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he has promised you, and you say, ‘I will eat meat,’ because you crave meat, you may eat meat whenever you desire. 21If the place that the LORD your God will choose to put his name there is too far from you, then you may kill any of your herd or your flock, which the LORD has given you, as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your towns whenever you desire. 22Just as the gazelle or the deer is eaten, so you may eat of it. The unclean and the clean alike may eat of it. 23Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. 24You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out on the earth like water. 25You shall not eat it, that all may go well with you and with your children after you, when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD. 26But the holy things that are due from you, and your vow offerings, you shall take, and you shall go to the place that the LORD will choose, 27and offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on the altar of the LORD your God. The blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the LORD your God, but the flesh you may eat. 28Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.

Warning Against Idolatry
29“When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ 31You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.

32“Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.”

New Testament Reading:
Matthew 12:38–50
The Sign of Jonah
38Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

Return of an Unclean Spirit
43“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. 44Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers
46While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

As far as the old Adam is concerned, which still clings to [believers], he must be driven not only by the Law, but also by punishments. Nevertheless, he does everything against his will and under coercion, no less than the godless are driven and held in obedience by the Law’s threats (1 Corinthians 9:27; Romans 7:18–19).

This doctrine of the Law is needed by believers in order that they may not make up a holiness and devotion of their own. Using God’s Spirit as an excuse, they must not set up a self-chosen worship, without God’s Word and command. For it is written:

“You shall not do according to … Whatever is right in [your] own eyes,” but “be careful to obey all these words that I command you,” “you shall not add to it or take from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:8, 28, 32)

The doctrine of the Law is also necessary in and with ‹the use of› believers’ good works. Otherwise, a person can easily imagine that his work and life are entirely pure and perfect. But God’s Law prescribes good works to believers in this way: it shows and indicates at the same time, as in a mirror, that in this life works are still imperfect and impure in us. So we must say with the beloved Paul, “I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted” [1 Corinthians 4:4]. So Paul, when encouraging the regenerate to do good works, clearly presents to them the Ten Commandments (Romans 13:9). He recognizes from the Law that his good works are imperfect and impure (Romans 7:7–13). And David declares:

I will run in the way of Your commandments. (Psalm 119:32)

[But] enter not into judgment with Your servant, for no one living is righteous before You. (Psalm 143:2)
               —Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord VI 19–21

For us He prayed; for us He taught;
For us His daily works He wrought,
By words and signs and actions thus
Still seeking not Himself but us.
               —O Love, How Deep (LSB 544:4)

Prayer of the Day
Blessed Lord, since You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (A68)

Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord
Apology of the Augsburg Confession XXI (IX) 1–13

By Rev. Michael Mayer

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