I preached Wed. from Is. 55:6-11, with 3 points: Seek the Lord while He may be found, God’s purpose, and the peace and joy in knowing God’s purpose.
I have been reading "The Herodian Period" from Avi Yonah’s “The world History of the Jewish People”. I have been reading this off and on since our return from Israel. I took a section from the book describing the economy of Judea during the Herodian Period which spans from Herod the Great who slaughtered the babies of Bethlehem towards the end of his reign to Agrippa II who heard Paul’s defense on the eve of his departure to Rome and his death. I was using the book’s description of the different manners of labor during the Herodian Period. Tradesmen, were unique, with the trades usually being passed down from father to son, as in the case of Jesus, carpenter and son of a carpenter. The large majority of people were farmers, about half farming to feed the family and the other half farming for profit enabling them to buy things and use the services of the tradesmen. There was also a small group of highly placed people who owned large estates employing laborers and allowing some laborers to rent farmland. Most of these people would never leave the land they were farming. These were the people that the gospels were written for.
Let me see if I can tie this in on the written page. Seek the Lord and be refreshed. Forgiveness refreshes, the church refreshes pastors, pastors can refresh the church and friends can refresh people who are struggling. This idea of refreshing leads to a desire to know and do God’s will. A concordance search of “the will of God” gives us some interesting cross references. In I Thes 4:3 we have the will of God defined as to be moral. In I Peter 2:13-17 and 1 Tim 2:1-6 we have two admonitions to live submitted lives to the authorities in power combined with two universals about God’s will. In the Timothy verses the description of God is: “who desires everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth”. In Peter you find the similar tie in verse in 1 Peter 3:9 where God is said “not wanting any to perish but desiring that all come to repentance”.
The point of this is that the gospel is preaching to mainly a bunch of farmers who will most likely spend their lives right where they are. God will build His church among these people and they will be encouraged to live good lives in submission to the powers that be and in doing so are part of God’s plan to win the world. The thought of the sermon is to bring dignity to church folks who love God, work jobs and live decent lives and God uses them to reach the world.
So every life becomes: 2 Cor 3:2-3 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God.
This knowledge of being in the will of God, each of our lives being a hand written letter to others, allows us to have peace and joy in living our lives. The final definition of the will of God used was: 1 Thess 5:16-18 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
The church always brings dignity to all of its members.