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A Discussion of Messianic Judaism, the Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm, and Related Leadership Issues from the Preoccupied Mind of Rabbi Stuart Dauermann, PhD.

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Toward a Really New Year

No one can predict what is going to happen to them during the year to come. But we can predict in large measure how we will encounter what awaits us.

I haven't given a lot of thought to this: I've been too busy dealing with personal issues, and other matters. But come to think of it, there is a passage from a recent sermon text that, for me, at least, forms an excellent theme text for me to keep in mind and heart in the year ahead.

The text is from Luke 1:38, and chronicles Mary's response to the angelic news that she was goint to become the virgin mother of the Messiah. For a 14 or 15 year old Jewish girl of her time and social station, the prospect of being pregnant out of wedlock was no small thing.. But her response was huge. Mary said: "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word."

This text provides me more than enough fuel, more than enough of a challenge, to provide a mooring point for my life in 2006. Let's briefly take it apart.

First is her statement, "Here am I." This of course reminds us of the Hineni passages found in the Older Testament as well as the new, passages where servants of God indicated their willing availability to the challenges and costs of heeding the intrusive and demanding voice of God. It is even used to refer to God's availability to us.

Isa 52:6
Therefore my people shall know my name; therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here am I.

Ge 22:1
After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."

Ge 22:11
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."

Ge 27:1
When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called his elder son Esau and said to him, "My son"; and he answered, "Here I am."

Ge 31:11
Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, "Jacob,' and I said, "Here I am!'

Ge 37:13
And Israel said to Joseph, "Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them." He answered, "Here I am."

Ge 46:2
God spoke to Israel in visions of the night, and said, "Jacob, Jacob." And he said, "Here I am."

Ex 3:4
When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."

1Sa 3:4
Then the Lord called, "Samuel! Samuel!" and he said, "Here I am!"

1Sa 3:5
and ran to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call; lie down again." So he went and lay down.

1Sa 3:6
The Lord called again, "Samuel!" Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call, my son; lie down again."

1Sa 3:8
The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you called me." Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy.

1Sa 3:16
But Eli called Samuel and said, "Samuel, my son." He said, "Here I am."

1Sa 22:12
Saul said, "Listen now, son of Ahitub." He answered, "Here I am, my lord."

Ps 40:7
Then I said, "Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.

Isa 58:9
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,

Isa 65:1
I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, "Here I am, here I am," to a nation that did not call on my name.

Ac 9:10
Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." He answered, "Here I am, Lord."

Isa 6:1-8
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3And one called to another and said:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory."
4The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5And I said: "Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: "Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out." 8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I; send me!"

Lu 1:38
Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

Mary's "Hineni response" may be seen as analogous to a solider responding to his name being called and responding, "Aye sir!" This response has imbedded in it the attitude of willingness to obey. So was it with Mary, and so must it be in my life and yours.

The second challenging aspect of Mary's "Yes" to God consists of her refering to herself as "the servant of the Lord." If her Hineni response described her attitude of heart, in this she was making reference to her identity, her vocation as a servant. Her responsibility as a servant of the Lord was to do His bidding, even to the bearing of this unique son.

In what sense do we/do we not see ourselves as servants of the Lord, and how is this apt to impact our decision making and the conduct of our lives?

The third component of her "Yes" to God was, "Let it me to me according to your word.""

What did this mean in her situation? It meant, "I say yes to the details of God's will for my life. It is my ratification of the specifics.

What will it mean to say this in our own situation?

In your own words, how would you characterize Mary's attitude of mind and heart towards the authority of God and His will for her life?

How does this compare with your own?

What can you/need you do to make progress in this area?

At 1/09/2006 11:33 PM, Blogger Tracey said...

Beautiful post. I have been learning this lesson for at least fifteen years and there are times when it is easier to say "Here am I" and times when it is very, very difficult. I would say this is submission of the highest order. Why? Because we don't have the slightest clue what is going to come next. All we have is G-d asking us to do something, be somewhere or say something and no matter how much time we may spend trying to see three and more moves ahead (a la chess) we just don't know what will end up happening. This is true trust. I have been through no small trials in my life (deaths, my own battle with cancer, ministry situations, etc.) and so I have come to have what I consider a very close relationship with G-d, but there are always those moments that I think, "You want me to do WHAT?!"

But he knows I'll do it anyway. Groan. LOL

At 1/10/2006 2:32 AM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...


Thank you for your response. One of the matters implied in it and, in fact, under the surface in much the Bible teaches on the subject, is the tension between knowing that God is good and all powerful, while yet being obliged to face horrific situations. Again and again we struggle over the quesiton of whether "this TOO is from the hand of God." And there are different answers to the question.

Strict Calvinists would answer "Yes," and Open Theists like Gregory Boyd would answer, "Not necessarily," while the Jewish tradition, speaking with multiple voices, generally says, "All is in the hands of heaven but the fear of heaven." In other words, what we alone have responsibility for is walking in the fear of God. As the Prophet Micah reminded us, "what does the Lord require of you, but to seek justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

May we walk in the fear of God as did Mary: that is our responsibility, our burden, and our privilege.

At 1/10/2006 7:55 AM, Blogger Tracey said...

I agree. I have studied various theologies and I have found that a Calvinist I am not. I cringe, for instance, when I hear people like Pat Robertson claim to know "why" Sharon had his series of strokes. We have G-d's revealed Word in the Torah, Prophets, Writings and New Testament, but beyond that, everything else is conjecture. Sometimes we are fortunate to get what I call confirmations that G-d is behind a certain situation or there's a series of events that lead us to that conclusion, but ultimately, we have to say most of the time, "I'm not sure." which I think is much more intellectually honest and true to a faith response than thinking we truly know. It all comes down to G-d's character, doesn't it? If he is a good G-d and we truly believe this, then we are more likely to trust Him. If we don't believe He really cares for us and wants the best for us, no amount of scripture and hellfire and brimstone will make us obey him willingly. We might be coerced into following His commandments, but that isn't the same as faith. I know I'm making a huge leap here, but this also brings to mind prophetic events. So many people are trying to nail down events in the book of Revelation. We just aren't going to know for sure until it happens and all we can do is obey G-d and follow Him wherever He leads us. The rest is His job, not ours.


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