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Text Study for the Second Sunday in Lent -- 2011

Text Study for the Second Sunday in Lent -- 2011

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Published by Joseph Winston

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Published by: Joseph Winston on Mar 20, 2011
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Text Study for the Second Sunday in Lent
The Rev. Joseph WinstonMarch 20, 2011
Commentary
Genesis 12:1-4a
This is the call of Abraham. He is to leave His life of leisure and move into thewilderness.Genesis 12:1
the
L
ORD
– Abraham was able to distinguish the L
ORD
’s voicefrom all the others.
Go from your country and your kindred 
– Not only did Abraham leave thecity with all of its beauty behind, but even more importantly he left hisfamily.Genesis 12:2
make your name great 
– In a world of honor and shame, havingyour name raised up is of immense value.Genesis 12:3
I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse
– The L
ORD
will take care of Abraham including handing thoseAbraham deals with.Genesis 12:4
So Abram went 
– Unlike other call stories found in the Bible, Abra-ham does not raise an objection to God’s call.
Psalm 121
The psalmist asks the question that is one the lips of most humans in times of trial,“Who will help me?” This author believes that aid does not come from one of the1
 
nature gods but instead the One who brings assistance is the L
ORD
God of Israel.The attributes of this One are amazing. Not only did He create existence but Heis also concerned about you personally. At all times, day and night, He is rightbeside you and He will keep you forever.Psalm 121:1
I lift up my eyes to the hills
– A traditional place for gods to resideare somewhere out in nature. The author of the psalm begins with whatappears to be a request to these gods but quickly turns this around by posingthe introduction not as a simple statement of fact but instead as a question.Psalm 121:2
My help comes from the
L
ORD
– The psalmist and those who repeathis words of praise believe in the One who created existence.Psalm 121:3
He will not let your foot be moved 
– Unlike other gods, this One isconcerned with your existence.
he who keeps you will not slumber 
– At all times, He cares for you.Psalm 121:4
He who keeps Israel
– He is responsible to the well-being of thedescendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.A question that Christians must address is how this psalm applies to them.For the most part, Christians are not children of the promise but insteadare outsiders. Some groups will say that they are the new Israel. The prob-lem with this approach is that God has then abandoned the old Israel. Whatthen keeps God from leaving you behind? Others might use Martin Luther’sapproach outlined in “How Christians Should Regard Moses” and discardsome portion of the law under the argument that it was given exclusively tothe Jews. Then, how does one include one’s self here when the promise isgiven to the Jews? It seems that Christians must hope that they are graftedon the the root stock of Israel. In no way does this remove the law’s require-ments but it presents a way that the blessings may be received.Psalm 121:5
The
L
ORD
is your keeper 
– The One that looks after you is thecreator of the universe.Psalm 121:6
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
Inother words, you will have a place to live, a promised land.Psalm 121:7
The
L
ORD
will keep you from all evil
– In a world that has activelypersecuted the Jews, this line is difficult to take at face value.2
 
he will keep your life
– People who believe in the resurrection of the deadcan find hope in this phrase.Psalm 121:8
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from thistime on and for evermore.
– For Lutherans, this is a traditional blessing thatfollows the Lord’s pray in the sacrament of Baptism.
from this time on and for evermore
– The concept of time has changedthrough history. We read this phrase as God continuing this action of caringfor His people until the end of time and then we add on all of existenceoutside of time. This understanding makes little sense during the author’slife. The promise would be given to the children, the family, the tribe. Thatis how it is carried forward.
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
In this section, Paul describes the inheritance a child of Abraham receives. It doesnot come from an exchange of labor for resources. For if it did, then it is noth-ing more than a law that describes the relationship between an employer and anemployee. A relationship of trust is built on something else altogether. This isfaith.Romans 4:1
What then are we to say was gained by Abraham
– This questionframes the argument that Paul will make. The desired outcome to to showthe limits of the law and the abundance of grace.Romans 4:2
if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about 
– One way to determine the difference between actions that someone per-forms and that of trust is to examine their behavior because if somethingcan be accomplished on your own, you have the right to tell others aboutwhat you have done.Paul does not see this in the written record, so he draws the conclusion thatworks can be ruled out.Romans 4:3
it was reckoned to him as righteousness
– This is drawn from Gen-esis 15:6. Paul is using this to booster his argument that Abraham receivedthe promise through faith.3

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