Worship Helps for Pentecost 14

Art: Moses and Aaron meet Pharaoh
Artist: Robert Leinweber

Worship Theme: God’s Word is not always easy to believe. There are some difficult words that we run up against as we read through our Bible, ideas that seem so contrary to our “modern way of thinking.” We shouldn’t think, however, that these words were any easier to believe back in Bible times. They weren’t. God’s people have always been faced with the difficult words of God. That’s why Jesus gives us the Bread of Life, that we might be led to set aside our worldly objections and see the loving and saving intent of every word from our Savior’s mouth. When we see that intent, it’s easier to trust even the most difficult words.

Old Testament: Exodus 7:8 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 9 "When Pharaoh says to you, 'Perform a miracle,' then say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,' and it will become a snake." 10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh's heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said.

1. Who hardened Pharaoh’s heart?

2. Why shouldn’t he have hardened his heart?

Epistle: Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

3. Which two unique times in Moses’ life does the writer to the Hebrews describe? (see 11:24-26 and 11:27-28)

4. “By faith” Moses did what he did.  More specifically, for what two reasons did Moses follow such an unusual course?

Gospel: John 6:60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? 62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

5. After his disciples heard what Jesus had to say about “eating his flesh and drinking his blood,” how did they respond?

6. Did Jesus try to soften his words when people left?

7. How did some of Jesus’ followers finally react? What about the Twelve?


Answers:
1. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, hardened his heart.

2. Pharaoh should not have hardened his heart, even though his magicians did like Aaron and turned their staffs into snakes, because Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.  Clearly, the power of the true God was far greater than the satanic arts of Pharaoh’s wise men and sorcerers.

3. First the writer to the Hebrews describes what Moses did at about age 40.  He chose to be mistreated along with the Jewish people, the people of God, rather than retaining his status as a part of the royal family in Egypt.  Forty years later, when Moses was about 80, he left Egypt, not fearing the anger of the king at that time.

4. The writer to the Hebrews says that Moses ignored all the wealth and power of being part of the rulership of Egypt because he was looking ahead to his reward.  He persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

5. The people who left said that Jesus’ words were “a hard teaching,” too tough for them to believe. 

6. Jesus did not attempt to soften his words, instead he realized that some of his disciples would forsake him in stubborn unbelief.

7. John tells us that “many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”  The Twelve, however, stayed with Jesus, as Peter asked, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  These disciples trusted the words of Jesus, the Bread of Life, even though they were difficult to understand.  Who else’s words could give them eternal life with God?


Putting your faith into action
Computer compression files are amazing. One little word can be the key to open compressed files that contain text, pictures, animation, and other wonders. But our computers cannot hold a candle to what can be compressed into one Word of God. One Word of God spoken or remembered can unlock the entire counsel of the Holy Spirit. God’s Word sustains life. There are no frivolous words of God. Each is life giving and life sustaining. There’s extraordinary power in each Word of God. God has provided you with his Word so that your spirit and life may be sustained. Just the one word, “Jesus,” unlocks the file of all he has done for you. A holy birth, a perfect life, undeserved death on the cross for your sake—all wrapped up in a word, a name. As God’s stewards it is important that we make the best use of this wonderful gift: the Word of God.  Hear it, be in it, use it, and proclaim it often.


A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 14
I would like to see the people learn to pray truly and not go about coldly and indifferently. They become daily more unfit for prayer because of indifference. That is just what the devil desires, and for which he works with all his powers.  He is well aware what damage and harm it does him when prayer is done properly.


We need to know this: all our shelter and protection rest in prayer alone.  For we are far too weak to deal with the devil and all his power and followers who set themselves against us.  Therefore, we must consider and take up those weapons with which Christians must be armed in order to stand against the devil [Ephesians 6:11].  For what do you imagine has stopped the counsels, purposes, murder, and riot of our enemies, by which the devil thought he would crush us, together with the Gospel?  It was the prayer of a few godly people standing in the middle like an iron wall for our side.  Otherwise they would have witnessed a far different tragedy. But now our enemies may ridicule prayer and make a mockery of it.  However, we shall still be a match both for them and the devil by prayer alone, if we only persevere diligently.  For whenever a godly Christian prays, “Dear Father, let Your will be done”, God speaks from on high and says, “Yes, dear child, it shall be so, in spite of the devil and all the world.” – Large Catechism, Part III, The Lord’s Prayer, paragraphs 29-32

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