Tue, 13 August 2019
(Dt.34:1-12; Ps.66:1-3,5,8,16-17,20; Mt.18:15-20)
“This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
that I would give to their descendants.”
The promise is coming to fulfillment; Moses looks out on the land the Lord so long ago vowed to give the great patriarchs. And though he shall not enter in and dwell there with the people, yet he has confidence that the promise shall be fulfilled. And though after forty years of struggle he will die here at the border, we know he has a greater reward stored up for him in heaven.
What is this Promised Land now? Where do we find it today but in the Church founded by Jesus upon his apostles and living in the hearts and lives of all His disciples? This is the Promised Land, the heavenly Jerusalem at work in the world even now. Notice that Joshua “was filled with the Spirit of wisdom, since Moses had laid his hands on him.” And “the Israelites gave him their obedience, thus carrying out the Lord’s command.” In the same way the power of the Holy Spirit coming from Peter and the apostles is passed down to this day in the Lord’s Church: the power is indeed from Jesus and His Spirit, but their power works invariably through the deeds of men so ordained. And by that power Joshua will lead the Israelites to the Promised Land even as Peter and his successors lead the Church to our heavenly homeland, insofar as we give obedience to them at the Lord’s command.
Jesus in our gospel outlines the special place the Church holds both in judging offenses and offering prayers. He repeats the Church’s power to bind and loose from fault, a power that begins with Peter but extends to all His disciples so ordained, and reminds them also of the great strength they take when together they call upon His name: “If two of you join your voices on earth to pray for anything whatever, it shall be granted you by my Father in heaven.” The Lord does not work in a vacuum but accomplishes great and wondrous things through those He lays His hands upon.
What great works were accomplished by Moses: “He had no equal in all the signs and wonders the Lord sent him to perform.” Oh “the might and terrifying power that Moses exhibited in the sight of all Israel.” Do you think this power dies with Moses? Do you think it has come to an end? No. For his successor Joshua parts the Jordan River by the same power; and now in Jesus and through His Church that power comes to fulfillment. Tremendous are the Lord’s “deeds among men.” If we but “appealed to Him in words,” what wonders would we know. Wars would cease and this world would look much more like the heavenly kingdom He has promised us all. Let us pray with one voice, as one Church, in His Name.
O LORD, what greater gift could you give
than the power upon your priests
to forgive men’s sins?
YHWH, what power you give to those who serve you; what tremendous deeds are wrought by your disciples. For what equal had Moses in the signs and wonders you worked through him? And what greater work can there be than the forgiving of men’s sins, which you accomplish by your priests this day?
Upon your Church you place your power, LORD; where two or three are gathered all prayers are answered. And even judgment you give to Church leaders, the power to discern right from wrong. As your lawgiver had clear vision till the end of his days, to see and know your will and teach the people of your ways, so this day is fulfilled in your Son and in those upon whom He lays His hands the grace of wisdom and understanding to lead souls into the promised land of Heaven. Let us listen to the words they speak to us, let us be obedient sons.