Monday, October 19, 2015

Pride Goes Before a Fall (A sermon based on 2 Chronicles 26:16-23)

"It's good to king." So sang Tom Petty. But would you agree? Sure it might seem great to rule a nation and tell everyone else what to do. But would you really want to trade places with one of the Old Testament kings? In this week's sermon we hear of the sad end of King Uzziah, king of Judah. And we're encouraged to learn from his mistakes. Pride goes before a fall. Don't be proud and fall. But fall on your knees in repentance to God and let him lift you up. Read or listen to (download) this sermon based on 2 Chronicles 26:16-23 and rejoice in God's saving grace...

Pride Goes Before a Fall

A sermon based on 2 Chronicles 26:16-23

Sunday, October 18, 2015 – Pentecost 21B


"It's good to be king," sang Tom Petty. But is it? Young Uzziah was made king when he was only 16. Sound like a sweet deal, kids? But… he was made king when his father was assassinated—by his own people who hunted him down after they grew tired of his leadership.

And so Uzziah, became king at 16 years old, with the royal treasury completely empty, with the temple ruined, and with the city walls in bad shape and his dad dead. No pressure. I'm not sure that Uzziah would agree with Tom Petty's sentiment, "It's good to be king!"

Yet, in spite of the challenges he faced, he did a pretty good job. He rebuilt cities, he won wars against his enemies, he fortified the walls of Jerusalem with towers, and expanded their agriculture with more livestock and vineyards by adding more cisterns to hold water in the dry seasons. He raised a well-trained, well-outfitted army and improved their military technology, presumably to keep anyone from ever breaking in to Jerusalem ever again like he remembered from his teenage years.

And it seemed that he was successful at everything he did. He was one of the truly great kings of Israel and he reigned for 52 years! And 2 Chronicles 26:4-5 tells us why he did so well: "He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…  He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success."

But his success didn't last. He grew proud. And as Proverbs 16:18 warns, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." And King Uzziah fell. Here's the sad account of the end of his reign, recorded for us in 2 Chronicles 26:16-23….


16 But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the Lord followed him in. 18 They confronted him and said, "It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the Lord God."

19 Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord's temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. 20 When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the Lord had afflicted him.

21 King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house—leprous, and excluded from the temple of the Lord. Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land.

22 The other events of Uzziah's reign, from beginning to end, are recorded by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 23 Uzziah rested with his fathers and was buried near them in a field for burial that belonged to the kings, for people said, "He had leprosy." And Jotham his son succeeded him as king.


"Ah… It's good to be king," Uzziah must have thought as he was enjoying all of his successes. Everyone was safe, and well-fed. The walls were repaired, the temple was restored, the army was just as strong as the economy! And it was all thanks to his leadership. Well, at least that's what he came to believe.  

And his haughty spirit, led to his downfall. He thought, "Everything I touch turns to gold and nothing is beyond my touching." So he went too far. He thought, "There's nothing I can't conquer and why shouldn't that include the temple?" He was so successful that he thought he knew better than everyone… even God. You've heard it said that success breeds more success. Well, sometimes success after success after success breeds destruction.

So Uzziah went where he ought not go. He did what he ought not do. He forgot the boundaries that God had set and went in the temple, where only the priests could serve and went to burn incense as only the priests were allowed (by God, mind you) to do. What a bold move he took.

And you heard the sad consequences. The leprosy of his heart became a leprosy of the skin. After a lifetime of faithful service to God, this one misstep cost him his health and his relationships—separated from his family and from the temple—for the rest of his life…


Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." And that's wise advice. Let's learn from Uzziah's bad example lest pride become our ruin too.

And let's face it. We are very successful too. In our personal lives things are going great. We are all incredibly wealthy. Really! Every one of us! Would you rather trade places with someone living in Ethiopia? How about even with someone in a remote village in Alaska? Or consider the wealth of Uzziah? Would you rather trade places with him and give up all that God has blessed you with—phones and cars, gas heat and grocery stores, not to mention TV's and computers and our countless toys he'd never dreamed of? Not me. Yes, I know we may sometimes wish we had it better. But I think you'd quickly lose if you wanted to debate me that you don't have it way better than Uzziah ever did.

And we're successful in our church. We're not facing persecution. We're able to pay our staff salaries, keep the lights on. The enrollment for the school continues to climb. And we're able to keep making improvements because we've been so successful in all we do.

But don't get haughty. Don't think it's because of anything we've done. Don't think we deserve it. Don't overstep your bounds.

Ah, but we have. We think God owes us. Whenever we envy someone else of their relationship or their money or their kids, we cross the line. Whenever we get more upset about the internet being down, our favorite restaurant being closed, or that the DVR didn't record our favorite show more than we are about missing worship, Bible study, or a family devotion, we show the leprous hearts we have. Every time we sin, we claim that we know more than God and step across the boundary that he has set. We go where we ought not go. And we do what we ought not do. So all God owes us is hell. Our pride ought to lead to our eternal downfall. Confess that truth to God. Repent of your arrogant sin in thinking you know better than God. And turn to him for help. 

And when you do, God will send help through his representatives…


The whole job of the priest was to be a mediator. To go between God and the people. To represent God to the people and the people to God because they couldn't just waltz up to God and live. And when Uzziah forgot that important truth, the priests still did what they were called to do. They stepped in.

It couldn't have been easy for Azariah to do. He found the support of eighty other courageous priests, it says, because the King could execute them for treason. And it did happen in Israel's history that the priests and the priests' children were killed when they disagreed with the king! (cf. 2 Chronicles 24:25) But these brave men found the courage to intervene. And even as the king was raging at them—I picture the red-faced king spraying them with spittle as he screamed in their faces—and even as the leprosy spread across his forehead, they pushed him out of the temple. They still intervened to help.

What would have happened if they didn't confront him? Would he have survived? He didn't seem to think so. He didn't miss the point. "Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the Lord had afflicted him."

Uzziah would live with the consequences of his arrogance. He would remain a leper and have to live away from his family in the palace and away from the temple until the day he died. But… Uzziah would live beyond that day of his rebellion. He had a chance to repent and seek God's forgiveness. And that was because God's representatives were bold enough to intervene.


Where would we be without the representatives that God has sent to intervene in our lives—those pastors and teachers who lovingly warn us, those parents who discipline us, those messengers of God who oppose us whenever we're opposing him? Would we repent without their proclamation of the law? Would we continue down our path of destruction to our own ruin? Thank God he sends those mediators—as uncomfortable as the confrontations may be.

But more important, where would we be without that one Great Mediator who didn't just stop us in our sin and lead us to repentance, but who took our sin on himself? Where would we be without the One who healed the lepers to prove his divinity? Where would be without the Mediator who died to pay the debt that our sins incurred?

You know where we would be: in hell. Let that truth strip you of all pride. But let the truth of his love and grace and his perfect sacrifice for us, lift you up. We will live another day. We may live with the consequences of our sins for a while in this life, but we will never pay the hell they've incurred in the next. We will live forever in the palace of the King who took our sin away. And there we will enjoy a perfect contentment that we can never know here on earth.

And remember the truth of what he's made you right now: You are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God," (1 Peter 2:9) You are royalty—sons and daughters of the King! And you have spiritual luxuries the Old Testament kings never dreamed of! You have a clear understanding of exactly how the Messiah King has rescued you and what he's rescued you from! You have Jesus' very body and blood to eat and drink this morning with the absolute assurance that your every sin is forgiven! You have the New Testament promises which offer you the greatest comfort every day of your life!

"It's good to be king?" I don't think you'd want to trade places with Uzziah. Don't be arrogant. Don't be proud. Don't think you know better than God. Be thankful for what you have. And thank him especially that the King of kings did trade places with us. Rejoice in what Christ your king has done in humbling himself to pay for your pride and arrogance, in humbling himself to death—even death on a cross!—to pay for all of your sins. Rejoice in what you are: royalty! Sons and daughters of the king! Then listen to his mediators. Thank him for the Great Mediator, Jesus Christ! And go to intervene for others and mediate for them as you find the courage to serve Jesus in thanks for all he's done for you. In his name, dear friends, amen. 

In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
47585 Ciechanski Road, Kenai, AK 99611

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What Do You Need? (A sermon based on Genesis 2:18-24)

What do you need? Not what do you want, but what do you need? God knew that Adam needed a wife. He made mankind with a need for relationships. And God, in his love, met that need. But we individually mess up our relationships because of our selfishness. So what we really need is God's forgiveness. Thank God that in his great love for us, he met that need for us in Jesus. Now, in thanks to him, we look to meet the needs of others. Read or listen to (download) this sermon based on Genesis 2:18-24 and thank God that he meets all your needs in Christ... 

What Do You Need?

A sermon based on Genesis 2:18-24

Sunday, October 11, 2015 – Pentecost 20B


 "What do you need?" I don't mean this question like an impatient parent asks his child, "What do you need?" I mean it. Seriously. "What do you need?" But before you answer, consider that I didn't ask, "What do you want?" but, "What do you need?" We discussed it a bit in Bible Class last week as we talked about God's providence. But what do you need in life that you absolutely could not do without?

Air. Food. Water. Shelter. Heat. (Especially if you live in Alaska, right?) But what else do you need? A nice home? Respect from your wife? Love from your husband? Are these things you need? Or things you just want? You know what Beatles thought: "All you need is love…"

In our text for consideration this morning, God revealed to Adam what he needed: a spouse. And God, in love for Adam, then met that need. God shows us that he made us with a need for relationship—for each other. And he's met that need. But we mess up our relationships with our selfishness. And so what we really need—more than even air and food and water—is forgiveness. And after God shows us that need, in love for us, he meets that need too. And we, in turn, moved by gratitude to God, resist our selfishness and try to meet the needs of others before we try to get our wants as we show our thanks to him.

"What do you need?" God told Adam he needed a wife. "What do you need?" We need forgiveness for our selfishness in all of our relationships. "What do you need?" we eagerly ask of others as we show our thanks to God for the forgiveness he's given.

Our text for this morning is taken from Genesis 2:18-24—the account of God establishing the institution of marriage…


18 The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man."

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

I.        What Do You Need? – God to Adam: "You need a wife!"


The guy was an absolute slob. His apartment was always a mess. He didn't know how to cook. He didn't know how to clean or even do his laundry. The guy could barely take care of himself. His buddy told him frankly, "Dude, you really need to get yourself a wife."

That is NOT what God did for Adam. He wasn't showing how helpless Adam was to care for himself by giving him a mom—someone who would cook and clean and care for him. No. God made Adam perfect. He wasn't lazy or stupid. He wasn't lacking any skills to care for himself. But he was still lacking. For the first time in his creative process God said, "NOT good." After day one, he saw that what he had made was good. After day two, he saw that what he had made was good. After days three, four, and five, he saw that what he had made was good. But now on day six, God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

God made mankind to be interdependent. He made us to crave and seek and have relationships. And he would show Adam that need before he met it.

He brought [the animals] to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.  So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.  

Can you picture it? God parading the animals two by two before Adam in a grand procession (almost as if they were heading to an ark, right)? And Adam coming up with a name for each kind. Bear… Cat… Dog… Uh… Aardvark??

But why did God have Adam name the animals? Couldn't God just name them himself? Well, it wasn't for God's sake that he gave the job to Adam. It was for Adam's sake. He wanted Adam to notice two bears, two cats, two dogs, two aardvarks, and… wait a minute! … only one Adam. "But for Adam no suitable helper was found."

God led Adam to see his need. Then, God, in love, would meet that need:

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

And in doing so, God created marriage. God made marriage, not for himself, but for us. For the good of man. For the good of woman. He gave us each other to meet each other's needs. To balance each other out, like two gears in a machine, not grinding against each other, but meshing together in perfect synchronization and spinning together in perfect harmony. And God made us for relationship, not just for the good of man and woman, but for the good of their offspring. It's good for kids to grow up with a mom and a dad—to be protected and nurtured. God made marriage for our enjoyment and to fill the earth as the two became one flesh.

And in perfection, Adam and Eve perfectly met each other's needs. They were completely unselfish. So verse 25 reads, "The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame," because they weren't judging each other, they weren't looking to use each other, they weren't lusting after each other, but were only loving each other. What a beautiful design God created! He showed Adam the need, then God met the need. Just like he does for us….

II.      What Do You Need? – God to Us: "You need forgiveness!"


God made us to be in relationships as well. He made us to be in committed, that is, life-long, unions with members of the opposite sex. Marriage between one man and one woman for one lifetime is God's perfect design. And what a mess the world has made of it!

But before you think I'm going to go after the laws that congress passes or the gay pride parades, what about Christian marriages?  What about us? Forget homosexuality for a minute and look at your own marriage. Would you rate it a perfect 10? Is your marriage is the ideal marriage for all the world to admire and mimic? If not, let's focus there.

We've made a mess of marriage – No. More precise: What a mess I have made of marriage. Each of us can claim that whether married or single, whether a grown up or a child.

Husbands, have you always led your wives in a way that looked to meet her needs before yours? Have you even had more concern for her needs than your wants? Have you shown love to your wives—the unconditional love that God calls upon us to give? You've made a mess of marriage.

Wives, have you always helped your husbands in a way that looked to meet his needs before yours? Have you even had more concern for his needs than your wants? Have you shown respect to your husbands—the unconditional respect that God calls upon you to give?  You too have made a mess of marriage.

Singles, have you always held up marriage as the esteemed institution that God has designed it to be? Or have you thought, "What's the big deal if I treat this relationship as if I were married… until I get tired of it."? "I don't need to save myself for marriage. I want to have fun while I'm young!"? You too have made a mess of marriage.

Kids, have you sometimes made a mess of marriage as you try to pit mom and dad against each other to get what you want? Have you ever said to dad, "But mom said I could?" Have you ever said to mom, "But dad said it was okay?" You too have made a mess of marriage.

Why do we do all these things? Because for all of us too often the first questions we ask are "What do I want? And how can I get it?" instead of "What do they need? And how can I serve them?" We've made a mess of the family that God has intended to be a blessing because of our selfish sinful nature. And for that we deserve to be kicked out of his family. We deserve to be divorced from God forever in hell—that's really what hell is separation from God and his love.

"So what do you need?" What we need isn't a better spouse. What we need isn't a good book on the perfect marriage. What need isn't better behaved kids, or a better job, or a nicer home. What we need isn't a more respectful wife or a more loving husband. What we need… is forgiveness.

And God has revealed that need to us. And once he's revealed to us the need (and brought us to repentance), then God meets the need and gives us the forgiveness we so desperately need though the blood of Jesus. Jesus was perfect, sinless in every way. Even though he was a red-blooded male, he never once lusted. He never viewed people as objects. He always honored and upheld marriage as God designed it, even as a single man. (We saw that in our Gospel lesson.) But what's more, he never asked, "How can I get what I want?" before asking, "How can I give them what they need?" and "How can I do what God wants, even if it's uncomfortable or painful for me?"

And having lived a perfect life, Jesus died an innocent death. And by that act, he gave us credit for his perfection and he took our selfishness and our sin and the hell that those earn all on himself. And so, we have the forgiveness that we need the most.

In one sense the Beatles were right: "All you need is love"—God's love. And you have it—through Jesus. He's shown you your greatest need. And he's met that need! And that fact fills us with gratitude that changes the way we live and the questions we ask first…


III.    What Do You Need? –Us to Each Other: "How can I serve you?"


The waiter at restaurant came to the table and asked, "What can I get for you?" The entrepreneur asked his client, "How can I serve you?" But as both humbly served, they were still really being self-centered: They wanted to keep their job. They wanted to keep their customers. They wanted their business to grow. But both were still really asking, "How can I get what I want?"

But as Christians we can genuinely ask, "What do you need?" and "How can I serve you?" before worrying about ourselves. Husbands can show love even to wives and kids who show no respect. Wives can show respect even to husbands who show no love. Singles can serve their future spouse by honoring God's gift of marriage now. Children can serve their parents without being forced or even asked.

We can—and do!—change our first questions from "What do I want? And how can I get it?" to "What do you need? And how can I serve you?" And we do this with little concern to having our needs met first because we know that our greatest need—forgiveness from God—has already been met in Christ. And we trust the promises he gives us in his Word: "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32) and, "My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19)

"What do you need?" God told Adam he needed a wife. "What do you need?" We need forgiveness for our selfishness in all of our relationships. "What do you need?" we eagerly ask of others as we show our thanks to God for the forgiveness he's given to us. In Jesus' name, who gives us all we need. Amen. 

In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
47585 Ciechanski Road, Kenai, AK 99611

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Be Jealous... (A sermon based on Numbers 11:16, 24-29)

Are you ever jealous of others because they have more prestige and glory than you? Or are you ever jealous of others because they have less responsibility? Read or listen to (download) this sermon based on Numbers 11:16,24-29 and rejoice that because of our Savior's service to you, you are forgiven of every sin and are bound for heaven. Then, in thanks to him, be jealous of our God as you live to serve him...

Be Jealous...
A sermon based on Numbers 11:16, 24-29
Sunday, October
4, 2015 - Pentecost 19B

You know what seems to spread even faster than fire on the Peninsula in a dry summer month? Jealousy and complaining. That was certainly the case in Numbers 11. The people of Israel had been rescued from Egypt and had come to Mt. Sinai to receive God's law. They had spent about a year there, camped at the foot of the mountain. But now, it was time for their journey to the promised land to begin. And only three days into their travels, they began to complain.

In verse 4 we're told that "the rabble" traveling with the Israelites—whoever that was—began complaining about their food. And their complaints spread to the Israelites who grumbled that they were sick of this manna God gave to keep them alive. Fresh vegetables and tasty meat were on their  minds but not on their menus, and they responded by complaining and wailing, "each [family] at the entrance of his tent." "Oh, for the good old days," they cried, "when we were slaves back in Egypt! Back then—when our Egyptian masters were cracking the whips on our back and slaughtering our sons, well, back then—at least we had fresh fish to eat and garlic and onions! Mmmm! Oh, how good it was back in the day!" And the complaining spread.

It got to Moses. Overwhelmed by the complaining, he did some complaining of his own. He said, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, 'Give us meat to eat!' 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin."

And God answered. That's where our text for this morning picks up, at Numbers 11:16...


16 The LORD said to Moses: "Bring me seventy of Israel's elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you...

 24 So Moses went out and told the people what the LORD had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the Tent. 25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did not do so again.

 26 However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the Tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp."

 28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses' aide since youth, spoke up and said, "Moses, my lord, stop them!"

 29 But Moses replied, "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the LORD's people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!"

I. Not of Others

It's almost hard to believe that this is the same Moses that we read about last week: "(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)" (Numbers 12:3) Grumbling and complaining against God, asking to be relieved of his duty, even relieved of his life, if he has to put up with any more from these ungrateful Israelites.

Maybe it was because he was trying to do it all on his own and didn't really trust God to give him help, but the truth is that Moses became just as guilty as the people by complaining to God that he had thrust this leadership role upon him. His prayer, full of personal pronouns, was full of self-pity as Moses seemed more concerned about his personal status than with God's glory.

And his complaining spread! When God granted Moses the help he needed, Moses' aid, Joshua, also griped, "These two didn't even bother to show up for their own ordination! They're going to take some of the glory that belongs to you and make it their own!" "Moses, my lord, stop them!"

Does this attitude of grumbling and griping sound familiar? I know it does to me. We too, sometimes get that "Woe is me!" attitude that cries out to God, "The job you've given me is too big! I don't want this responsibility!" "Lord, I don't know anything about being a parent—how can I do this?" "I don't think I can be the kind of teacher of God's Word these kids deserve." "God, do you really expect me to be a faithful spouse when I get so little love in return?" "Lord, they gave me a new position at work—I'm in way over my head here!" "God, I don't think I can confront my relative in their sin." "Lord, I don't want to serve at church. It's too much work! And I'm already so busy!" We too cry out in our hearts, "The burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now." 

Or maybe we're not jealous of those who have less of a burden than us, but, like Joshua, our jealousy is of those who have more prestige. Do you ever think to yourself, "Here I am, working at a business, in a job, at a career, that hardly matters in God's kingdom?" Do you sometimes feel like your role is too small? And that others are getting the glory that should be due you?

And whether we sound like Moses or like Joshua, we too often gripe and complain and sound like the Israelites: "Oh for the good old days when I was a slave to sin and my selfish nature. Then—when I was stuck in sin and bound for hell, back then—at least I could live life as I pleased and do only what I wanted!" And such whining and complaining before God is a serious sin because we begin to view life not in terms of what God has done and continues to do for us, but in terms of what God hasn't done for us.

And so we deserve to have God say, "Fine. You don't want the responsibility? You're done. I will take your life, you whiner." Or, "You don't like others helping because you're worried they'll get more recognition than you? Fine! Do it all alone!" What we really deserve for our jealousy of others, whether it's because they have less to do than us or more, what we deserve for the complaints that result, is hell.

But there was one big difference between Moses' complaint and that of the people.The people complained about God. Moses complained to God. And God responded...

II. But for God

God responded to Moses complaints, not with a "Suck it up, buttercup, and quit being such a wimp!" Not with a "Fine. You are done. Zap!" or by taking his life. Instead God exercised great patience with Moses, with Joshua, and with the people. Instead of punishment, God sent help. 70 elders were chosen by Moses, and ordained by God. They were filled with the same Holy Spirit that gave strength to Moses. And they would prophesy to show that God did indeed sanction them to serve in the ministryall 70 of them—even the two that, for whatever reason, didn't make it to their ordination. They would help Moses and Joshua carry the burden of the people.

And as we hear Moses complain that the task God had given to him was too big to handle, we can't help but notice a contrast between him and Jesus, who took the task given to him—though it was far, far greater—without complaint. Moses was called to lead 2 million people. Jesus was called to take the place of far more than 2 million, or even 2 billion people, and to endure hell for their sins. And though he too was overwhelmed with the task before him, he wasn't jealous of  those who didn't have such a burden. He didn't gripe. He didn't shrink back.

And like Moses, later in our account, Jesus wished that all God's people might be prophets and have the Spirit as he did. And he made it possible. He took our sinsevery gripe, every complaint, every jealousy of others—away when he took those sins on himself on the cross. And paying the penalty of hell that those sins deserve he paid our debt. And then he sent his Spirit to you and to me and brought us to faith in what he's done.

Moses' prayer that the Lord would put his Spirit on all his people (11:29) came true on the day of Pentecost. On that day God fulfilled his prophecy to "pour out his Spirit" on all his people. Ever since that day, we have God's promise that his Spirit is truly present in every believer, strengthening our faith in Jesus and enabling us to serve him in our own station in life, no matter how glorious or humble that station might be.

And we can't help but respond. Moses' point with his aid was that Joshua should be jealous for the Lord and for his work and not for the honor or position of Moses. And the same is true of us. We are jealous, not of others or their position—whether  because they have less responsibility or more glory—but we're jealous for the Lord. We want him to get the glory! And so we strive with all zeal to that end.

You are spirit-filled, dear friends! And the work of the gospel at Grace Lutheran and across the Peninsula belongs to all of us. All 70 or so who have gathered today. And to the others who didn't show up this morning. And our task? To share the good news of Jesus' forgiveness "that all the LORD's people [might be] prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!" We do our work no matter how difficult or tiring it may seem, not because we must, not because it is our divinely-given responsibility (though it is: yours as well as mine), and not out of jealousy of others or out of competition with them, but because we want to. We long to serve our Savior in thanks for the way he first served us. We long to give him the glory.

Just because you aren't prophesying like Eldad and Medad doesn't mean you don't have the same Holy Spirit that they did. You are God's child through the death of Jesus! You are an heir of eternal life. And the opportunities God gives you to serve him whether large or small are the perfect opportunity to be jealous, not of others, but for God and for his glory. "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31) In Jesus' name, dear friends, amen.

In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
47585 Ciechanski Road, Kenai, AK 99611

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