Psalm 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14
Psalm 27 plays upon the themes of trust and intimacy with the Lord that appear in the Genesis passage. With echoes of the beautiful 23rd Psalm, we hear the supplicant assert his trust in the Lord under any circumstances. The relationship is stressed by the crying out - this person has a claim on the Lord - something rather remarkable when we consider the relative power of supplicant and Divine Master!
In this section of Philippians, Paul uses sharp language and appears to be strengthening the community against the influence of false teachers. Most scholars identify the false teachers as "judaizers." This is a modern term to describe early Christians who argued that gentile converts to Christianity, and indeed all Christians, must continue to observe the demands of the holiness code of Judaism - including the dietary and circumcision requirements.
This particular challenge figures into a number of Pauline letters - Romans and Galatians in particular. Here in Philippians, it is not the major theme, but Paul's concern is still quite clear. He sees the false teachers as looking to the physical alteration of the body as indicative of right relationship with God. Paul knows that this comes only by the gift of the Christ and by faithful relationship to the Lord. He summons his believers to respond in trust and faith. The transformation that will occur, in this life and the next, will not come from their rituals, but from the gift of a loving God and His beloved, redeeming Son.
Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
The Book of Genesis for the theological overture to the whole of the Old Testament. Frequently misunderstood in our own time, this sophisticated work outlines great questions the nature of God and of creation, and of human identity and purpose. The first eleven chapters concern the "big picture." It speaks of creation itself and of the first human generations. Beginning in Chapter Twelve, the text narrows its focus to the relationship between God and one man and his one family and nation.
This passage, set in Chapter 15, takes a promise of progeny made to Abraham two times already in preceding chapters and sets the promise in the form of a covenant agreement.
Here, early on in the story of the relationship, Abraham is still Abram. That new name is still two chapters away.Here Abram laments that he will not have the progeny promised - he is too old and a servant of his household will inherit. In our passage we hear the response of the Lord God who reiterates the earlier promise, allaying Abram's fears. Abram trusts the Lord in this and the Lord then instructs Abram in the ritual of making a covenant.
The split animals demonstrate the fate of any who would fail to uphold the agreement. It is actually surprising that the Lord God would make such a commitment. Abram is not the peer of the Lord and we should note the element of grace in this choice of God to seal the relationship.
The sleep that falls upon Abram is typical of the ways of God Who speaks in ways deeper than mere physical speech.
Verses 13-16 do not appear in our passage. They concern a prophecy about the sojourn of the people in Egypt. Instead, we continue with another aspect of the covenant promises - that of the land. We hear an extraordinary description of the broad territory that will comprise the promise.A territory that will surely require divine intervention to secure - given the more populous peoples that inhabit them and the current state of the family of Abram.
In this, Luke's account of the Transfiguration of the Lord, we have indications of Jesus' identity and destiny. As in the case of all of the Synoptic Gospels, the Transfiguration serves as a prophetic encouragement to the disciples (and the reader) before the events of Jesus' passion.
The appearance of Moses and Elijah send a clear message as these two are shorthand for the Law and the Prophets - an assertion that the Scriptures witness to Jesus' authenticity as Messiah and Son of God. It is also interesting to note that both figures were associated with expectations of the end times, and both experienced significant opposition to their prophetic work.
The voice from the cloud is clearly a theophany. Recall that the presence of God was felt in Sinai as a "pillar of cloud by day." The message offers a further divine testimony to Jesus - one that echoes the Baptism of the Lord (Chapter 3). The mention of the Lord's coming Exodus sounds a different, more ominous, note. In chapter 9 verse 51, Jesus will "set His face" towards Jerusalem and His destiny to suffer and die. At the same time, the language recalls the deliverance from Egypt and hints that this dark moment will not be one of defeat, but deliverance and redemption.