Worship Helps for Pentecost 23

Artwork: Achan and Joshua
Artist: James Tissot

Worship Theme: “Money talks,” people say. Money does talk. Money lies. Money says, “I will take care of you. I will always be here for you.” Money cannot keep its empty promises. God can and does keep his promises, for Jesus’ sake. We do not deserve it at all, yet God will take care of us. He will never leave us. (Jesus’ resurrection proves it!) Let us fear, love and trust in God above all things.

Old Testament: Joshua 7:1,19-26 But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD's anger burned against Israel. … 19 Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me." 20 Achan replied, "It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath." 22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the LORD. 24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, "Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today." Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.

1. Did Achan love more, God or money? How can you tell? (See 7:1,20‒21.)

2. In what ways did God make an example of Achan?

3. Why does God tell us about Achor, the Valley of Trouble?

Epistle: 1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world-- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-- comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

4. When John speaks of the “world,” he means the rebellious world organized against God, not the natural world, with its beauties. Why must we not love the world? (See 2:15.)

5. Why else must we not love the world? (See 2:17.)

Gospel: Luke 18:18-27 A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 19 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good-- except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'" 21 "All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 26 Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?" 27 Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."

6. Why didn’t the rich ruler want to follow Jesus?

7. How hard is it for you to save yourself? (See 18:26–27.)


Answers:
1. Achan loved money more than God. God had said not to take any plunder from Jericho. Because God comes first, the first city Achan conquered for Israel was to be devoted to him. Achan, though, stole a fine Babylonian robe, 5 pounds of silver and a tiny 1.25 pound wedge of gold from Jericho. Then Achan hid them underground, in his tent.

2. God had people throw stones at Achan until he died. (What a shameful, painful way to die.) God also had Achan’s sons and daughters, his animals, his tent, the stolen goods and all that he had owned taken away to the Valley of Achor where the bodies were burned. People stacked a large pile of rocks over the remains, as a huge visual cue not to do what Achan had done.

3. God tells us about Achan because he loves us. He does not want the greed that comes naturally to us to separate us from him forever and ruin us. So God warns us severely. Yes, Achan made a good confession when he was caught, but it was too little, too late. We pray, “God, keep me from the love of money.”

4. We must not love the world, John says, for if we love the world, no love for the Father is in us. It’s either-or—there is no half-way.

5. John’s other main reason not to love the world is that the world and its desires are fleeting, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. Believers in Jesus live already now. We will live with God In his glory eternally, too. What could compare?

6. The rich ruler did not want to follow Jesus after Jesus told him first to sell everything he had and give it to the poor. Jesus told the ruler this, in part, to prove to him that he had not kept all of God’s commands, as the ruler had claimed. He did not want to put God first (the first commandment). He did not love God above all things. And he did not love his neighbor as himself.

7. It is impossible for me to save myself by my own good works. It is like a camel going through the eye of a needle. Only with God is it possible for me to be saved from my guilt before him.


Putting your faith into action
The parable of the rich ruler is a classic story of the love of money being the root of all kinds of evil. It is evident the rich ruler thought he could worship at two altars: the altar of the one true God and the altar of the “Baal of our age”—materialism. The point of this story is not the ruler having all kinds of this world’s wealth, but what he did with it. May all of us pray that the Lord would give us wisdom and, more importantly, faith as we manage the many physical assets he has given us.


A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 23
5] This I must unfold somewhat more plainly, that it may be understood and perceived by ordinary examples of the contrary. Many a one thinks that he has God and everything in abundance when he has money and, possessions; he trusts in them and boasts of them with such firmness and assurance as to care for no one. 6] Lo, such a man also has a god, Mammon by name, i.e., money and possessions, on which he sets all his heart, and which is also the most common idol on earth. 7] He who has money and possessions feels secure, and is joyful and undismayed as though he were sitting in the midst of Paradise. 8] On the other hand, he who has none doubts and is despondent, as though he knew of no God. 9] For very few are to be found who are of good cheer, and who neither mourn nor complain if they have not Mammon. This [care and desire for money] sticks and clings to our nature, even to the grave.

10] So, too, whoever trusts and boasts that he possesses great skill, prudence, power, favor, friendship, and honor has also a god, but not this true and only God. This appears again when you notice how presumptuous, secure, and proud people are because of such possessions, and how despondent when they no longer exist or are withdrawn. Therefore I repeat that the chief explanation of this point is that to have a god is to have something in which the heart entirely trusts.  – Large Catechism, Part I The First Commandment (paragraphs 5-10)

Hymns: 486; 478; 312; 615

1  With the Lord begin your task; Jesus will direct it.
For his aid and counsel ask; Jesus will perfect it.
Ev’ry morn with Jesus rise, And, when day is ended,
In his name then close your eyes; Be to him commended.

2  Let each day begin with prayer, Praise and adoration.
On the Lord cast ev’ry care; He is your salvation.
Morning, evening, and at night Jesus will be near you,
Save you from the tempter’s might, With his presence cheer you.

3  With your Savior at your side Foes need not alarm you;
In his promises confide And no ill can harm you.
All your trust and hope repose In the mighty Master,
Who in wisdom truly knows How to stem disaster.

4  If your task is thus begun With the Savior’s blessing,
Safely then your course will run, Naught your soul distressing.
Good will follow ev’rywhere While you here must wander;
You at last the joy will share In the mansions yonder.


Text: Morgen-und Abend-segen, Waldenburg, 1734, abr.; tr. W. Gustave Polack, 1890–1950, alt.

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