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Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 16 June 2019

16 June 2019

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

Opening Hymn: 234 “The God of Abraham Praise”

Confession of Sin

Most holy and merciful Father; We acknowledge and confess before You; Our sinful nature prone to evil and slothful in good;  And all our shortcomings and offenses.  You alone know how often we have sinned; In wandering from Your ways; In wasting Your gifts;  In forgetting Your love.  But You, O Lord, have pity upon us; Who are ashamed and sorry for all wherein we have displeased You.  Teach us to hate our errors; Cleanse us from our secret faults; And forgive our sins for the sake of Your dear Son.  And O most holy and loving Father; Help us we beseech You; To live in Your light and walk in Your ways; According to the commandments of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Romans 3:21-26

Hymn of Preparation: 404 “The Church’s One Foundation”

Old Covenant Reading: Jeremiah 11:1-16

New Covenant Reading: Romans 11:16-24

Sermon: The Two Olive Trees

Hymn of Response: 411 “Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns”

Confession of Faith: Q/A 1 Heidelberg Catechism (p. 872)

Diaconal Offering

Doxology (Hymn 568)

Closing Hymn: 425 “How Sweet and Awesome is the Place”

PM Worship

OT: 1 Kings 6:14-38

NT: Hebrews 9:11-28

Return to Paradise?

Shorter Catechism Q/A # 95

Q. To whom is baptism to be administered?
A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (6/10) Read and discuss Romans 11:16-24. Michael Bird writes:

Paul continues his exhortation to his Gentile readers about the savableness of Israel through a horticultural metaphor of an olive tree. The olive tree represents the people of God, the root is the patriarchal promises [that is the promises they received in Christ – for Christ is both the root and the offspring of Jesse” (cf. Isaiah 11:1 and 11:10)], ethnic Israel is the “natural branches,” and Christian Gentiles are the “wild olive shoot.” What Paul sets out do here is to try to adjust the attitude of his Gentile audience toward Israel – hence the repeated use of the personal pronoun “you” throughout. He wants to make sure that they do not basks in Israel’s failure or think that Israel is excluded from a future place in God’s people. The proper perspective they should have is to see Israel and Gentile Christians as potential exemplars of each other. Just as Gentiles were grafted into the tree, so too can Israel be regrafted into the tree. Just as Israel was cut off from the tree, so too can Gentiles be cut off from the tree. Gentile boasting is excluded because the cutting off of branches and the grafting in of shoots cuts both ways for both ethnic groups. So rather than boast over Israel, Gentiles should look at unbelieving Israel and say, “There but for the grace of God go I,” or else the Gentiles should testify to unbelieving Israel in saying, “We benefit from the spiritual nourishment that was first yours and can still be yours.”

Read or sing 234 “The God of Abraham Praise” Prayer: Please continue to lift up the work of our General Assembly as the commissioners meet in Dallas, Texas.

Tuesday (6/11) Read and discuss Romans 11:7-15. Paul asks a critical rhetorical question in verse 11. Those three words “in order that” identify a purpose statement. What was God’s purpose in Israel’s stumbling? As one Lutheran commentator points out, the sense of this question is better expressed: “I say, therefore, it is not that they tripped [for the purpose] that they might remain fallen, is it (Michael Middendorf)?” The question isn’t simply about these Jews falling down – rather the question is this: Was God’s intent to be done with the Jews by causing them to fall and to remain fallen? Paul’s answer is emphatic: “By no means!” Don’t even consider such an outrageous suggestion! Rather, the LORD is using Israel’s unfaithfulness for a good end. Please remember that the LORD is always doing this. Almighty God is always working together all the evil of mankind and using it for His own good purposes. In the case of first century Jews, this gets elevated to the highest extent. First, the LORD sovereignly used the rejection of Jesus Christ by both the Jews and the Gentiles – represented by Pontius Pilate to bring about the redemption of His people. Pontius Pilate, the Jewish religious leaders, and the crowds chanting “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” were all engaged in the most wicked behavior in the history of the world. They were seeking the death of the incarnate God. But God’s purpose was to bring out of their sin the greatest possible good – the salvation of His people. Certainly, that is part of the “trespass” that Paul has in mind when he writes that “their trespass means riches for the world.” But I also think that Paul is recalling his own life experience and how the gospel spread to the Gentiles. When you read the book of Acts you will notice an interesting thing: It is actually the unbelieving Jews who inadvertently start the spread of Christianity to the Gentiles. The Jewish Church in Jerusalem and the surrounding communities was so severely persecuted that the vast majority of Jewish Christians fled to other parts of Israel and Samaria and to even more remote areas in the Roman Empire – bringing the gospel with them. And notice that the LORD’s purpose doesn’t just move in one direction. The LORD used the hardening of the Jews to bring the gospel to the Gentiles, but God’s purpose is also that the spiritual riches of the Gentiles will be used to make ethnic Jews spiritually jealous – so that in due time they too will be grafted back into the people of God. Paul is saying: “Dear Gentiles: Lest you imagine that the only purpose for the Jews being entrusted with Word of God was so that you Gentiles would be saved. Please take note that the LORD is bringing salvation to you – as the means of bring salvation back to His ancient Jewish people.” C.E.B. Cranfield puts it like this:

The coming of salvation to the Gentiles as a result of Israel’s rejection of its Messiah is to make Israel jealous in accordance with the words of Deuteronomy 32:21 [which Paul] already quoted in [Romans] 10 verse 19. When Israel, the people whom God has made peculiarly His own, His special possession, see others the recipients of the mercy and goodness of their God, they will begin to understand what they are missing and to desire that salvation which they have rejected.

Read or Sing Hymn 404 “The Church’s One Foundation” Prayer: Give thanks that the wisdom of God is wiser than men, and that the LORD in His perfect wisdom is ordering history for our good and for His glory.

Wednesday (6/12) Read and discuss Jeremiah 11:1-16. Terrence E. Fretheim writes:

It is eminently clear in the book of Exodus that, prior to the giving of the Law, Israel is already God’s people. The covenant at Sinai does not establish the relationship between God and people, but charts their vocation as God’s chosen ones. The point here is not that Israel, through its obedience, would become God’s people. Rather, the flow of thought runs like this: listen to my voice and do what I command, and in so doing you shall show yourself to be my people, and, as for my part, I will be your God and perform the oath sworn to the ancestors. Covenant entails commitment on the part of both God and people, a commitment to be true to the relationship in which they already stand.

The fundamental way in which the people do justice to this relationship is to obey the commandments; the way in which God is true to the relationship is in fulfilling the sworn promises made to this people. God here testifies to having fulfilled sworn promises (regarding the land) even though the people have been unfaithful. Even more, the phrase “as at this day” (v. 5) indicates that, from the perspective of exilic readers, God’s sworn promise regarding the land has not been set aside.

God’s promises (of the land in this case) will not fail; they will never be null and void as far as God is concerned. Though a rebellious generation may not live to see the fulfillment of the promise (witness the old and new generations in the book of Numbers), and may indeed come under curse because they have rejected God, the promise can be relied upon (see Deut 4:31; 30:1-5). Thus, the promise is an everlasting one, though participation in its fulfillment is not guaranteed to every person or every generation. The promise of God is always there for the believing to cling to, and they can know that God will ever be at work to fulfill it.

Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod.

Thursday (6/13) Read and discuss Hebrews 9:11-28. Tom Schreiner writes:

Jesus is the mediator of a new and better covenant because the covenant is established by the shedding of his blood. Therefore, those who belong to Jesus will receive an eternal inheritance. Those under the old covenant were limited to an earthly inheritance, which is temporary and foreshadows a better inheritance, i.e., a heavenly one. The author explains in some detail that the old covenant was ratified and inaugurated with blood, just as wills become effective at death. The close link between blood and death in the paragraph demonstrates that the shedding of blood signifies death. Forgiveness comes at the expense of the death of the victim. The author’s point is that the readers have an eternal inheritance because they have a better sacrifice. The blood of the Messiah avails far better than the blood of any animal. Still the sacrificial ritual of the old covenant forecasts and anticipates the death of Christ, demonstrating that death is necessary for sins to be forgiven.

Read or Sing Hymn 411 “Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns” Prayer: Please lift up those in our congregation who are struggling with physical infirmities.

Friday (6/14) Read and discuss 1 Kings 6:14-38. Phil Ryken writes:

God is not just the ruler of the earth, but also the King of heaven. This too was symbolized inside Solomon’s temple.

The temple proper was divided into two parts. The outer chamber was called the Holy Place, while the inner chamber at the back was known as the Most Holy Place. The Most Holy Place housed the ark of the covenant, where atonement was made for sin, and which symbolized the footstool of God’s throne. This was the place of God’s presence, “the very dwelling place of God insofar as God had an earthly dwelling place.” Yet from the book of Hebrews we also know that the Most Holy Place was meant to serve as an earthly copy of God’s heavenly throne room (see Heb 9:23-24). This explains why Solomon fabricated two angels to stand as guardians of the inner temple. … These two magnificent statues dominated the Holy of Holies. Each angelic figure was 15 feet tall, and with a wingspan of equal or greater length, the cherubim completely spanned the inner sanctuary. They were carved from hard olive wood, and plated with gold.

Solomon’s golden cherubim remind us again of the beauty of God, and of his kingly majesty. We know from the book of Isaiah and other places that at this very moment there are cherubim in the presence of God. In effect, these angels are his courtiers, the attendants to his royal throne. The beautiful golden cherubim inside Solomon’s temple imitated this heavenly scene, indicating that the temple’s inner sanctuary was the throne of the psalmist, God sits “enthroned upon the cherubim” (Ps. 80:1).

Read or sing Hymn 425 “How Sweet and Awesome is the Place” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD dwells with and in His people.

Saturday (6/15) Read and discuss Romans 11:16-24. Michael Middendorf writes:

The severity of God’s judgment and wrath applies justly to all people. “Every person, Jew or Gentile stands under sin’s power (Romans 3:9) and can be saved only by a special act of God’s grace (Doug Moo).” This means that “there is only one root and only one tree; branches, whether Jewish or Gentile, that do not remain attached to that tree are doomed to whither and die.

But what exactly is that tree? On Monday we saw that Michael Bird identifies the root of this tree with the promises made to the Patriarchs. That is fine, so long as we remember that these promises were made to the Patriarchs in Christ. Jesus, Himself, makes an application along these lines in the John, chapter 15. Jesus says:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.