Blessings of the Patriarchy - Romans 15:4-13 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday December 4th, 2022 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Text: Romans 15:4-13
Theme: “Blessings of the patriarchy”
Intr – As we move into Advent, we are reminded God’s promise of sending His Son, which was fulfilled in the right time and place. Paul reminds us in the epistle today that the promise was given to the patriarchs.
The patriarchs. Who are they?
Patriarchs are persons of great importance and meaning in the History of God’s People. In a strict sense, Abraham is considered the first of them. We can mention also Isaac, Jacob, and his sons. Patriarch means “Father”, and this is what they are for us, Fathers in the faith. They are models – not for perfection, because they were sinners in need of a Saviour just like us. This way, in that broader sense, patriarch can embrace many other Fathers of faith that we see in Scripture – Moses, David, the prophets, John the Baptist. St.Paul himself. Many other names from the Church’s History could be added to, fathers – and mothers - in faith that passed down God’s Word and promises generation after generation.
The mention of the patriarchy by Paul is not intended to praise them, but to praise God. He says, “For I tell you that Christ became a servant of the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness to confirm the promises givens to the patriarchs.” The promise and blessing of the Messiah were fulfilled. With this blessing, many other blessings came, and still come to God’s people. When we look to Romans 15, what are the blessings that we could identify that were meaningful not only back then but still right now? I could mention at least two: God’s Truthfulness and faithfulness. God’s mercy. Let’s reflect a moment about them.
1 – Truthfulness and Faithfulness
Tell me, what are the people or institutions you trust completely these days? The Press, the Politicians, the Professors, the public system? Do you trust what is told about you when it comes to finances, health, and international politics?
I know it’s hard. There is a wide range of different voices talking and sometimes it is very hard to know whom to trust. Especially when it comes to promises or predictions about how the future will look like. Looking through this perspective we understand even better and appreciate even more, the constancy in faith of the patriarchs. They were told things like; “you will have more children that stars in heaven;” “the Messiah will from a virgin and redeem His people.” “The promised land will be yours.” “The Lord will deliver.” “The day of the Lord is at hand.” These and many other promises from God delivered through His messengers were, in human terms, quite incredible. On top of that, in many cases, if not in all of them, those things didn’t take hours days or years -- they took centuries to come to happen. And still, through doubts, imperfections, and sins, they remained steadfast in the faith of the promised Redeemer of the People of Israel.
Paul brings the topic up to point out that what it shows is not how good they were but how Good God is. The fact that the Messiah was born in the manger to the circumcised, becoming one of the very people he came to save, proves God’s faithfulness. It shows how God cares to make his promises happen on behalf of his people. You can trust His faithfulness every time, all the time.
Now, He is the same God. Today. Right now. You belong to His people through Baptism, through conversion. Therefore, you know that you are under the same faithfulness of the same God that was showed to the patriarchy-- Abraham Isaac and Jacob and many others. In faith you have Jesus as the Messiah who gives you forgiveness and new life. The blessings that flow from Christ flood your life, save your soul, give meaning to your days and direction to your steps. God’s faithfulness has never changed. And it never will.
The topic of truthfulness in the Epistle is related to God’s faithfulness to his People, Israel. Jesus said He came to the lost sheep of the House of Israel in first place. But what about all other peoples? Paul did not forget them. God did not forget them. Paul was the first champion of that cause; he might be called the Patriarch Apostle of the Gentiles, making the case that as the Church tended to the Jews who accepted the Messiah, that they should not forget all the other peoples. And for that reason, he mentions the second blessing: Mercy to all other peoples. Paul writes: “In order that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.”
“But what does that have to do with us, pastor?” Everything. The fact that today you are here, in a Church worshiping Him in a Christian Church is a living testament to this Mercy of God to all nations. For in a way we are the gentiles reached by the Gospel of Hope. Most of us, if not all, are not related to Abraham and the patriarchs according to flesh and blood. But the Church did care to listen to Christ’s Commission of preaching the Gospel to all, and started to make efforts to share the blessings of the Hebrew patriarchy and show the Mercy of God to people outside of the Jewish community. Early on God raised our patriarch of the Gentiles, Paul, and after Him, many others. The Mercy of God started to spread to the World, bringing Christ Crucifeid and the blessings of the patriarchy even to you and me. And these blessings make all the difference in our lives.
Now, perhaps sometimes people might ask you, “How? Can you tell me why and how faith in Christ, how the blessings of the patriarchy change your life and makes a difference in it?” You might have already a ready response to that. If not, let me offer you one way to do so.
You are a Christian. Because the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith your life is different, for you have an origin and a destination. When you make mistakes and sins, you have someone that is not ready to trash you, but to forgive. You wake up to every new day knowing the presence of God will never be lacking for even a second. You take responsibility in life and make decisions to the best of your knowledge and capacity. However, you know that “your heart makes plans by the Lord guides your steps.”, making you trust that every result is in the palm if His hands. You tend to yourself and to the world around you to the best of your ability, while you trust unconditionally in God’s mercy which holds all things together in Christ. You might face every problem with some doses of anxiety and tension, for sure, depending on the magnitude of it; but you live in complete assuredness that whatever the outcome of that problem is, there is no chance that is out of the reach of His sight and care. You deal with frustrations and disappointments, with wins and losses; but you deliver your heart to God’s power and strength. You face the death of loved ones navigating sorrow guided by the wind of the Holy Spirit through the Word which blows Hope inside your heart. God’s faithfulness and Mercy never failed before. That gives you assurance they will not fail now and won’t ever fail.
Yes, it makes a world of difference. God’s blessings shape our life and sustain our soul in a way that nothing else can do. Not a single thing, person, possession, or power are or will ever be able to match what God’s faithfulness and Mercy do in your life.
3 - THE PATRIARCH
As mentioned before, the Word Patriarch means Father. When we talk about the blessings of the patriarchy we are talking less about flesh and blood and more about truthfulness and mercy. God is our Patriarch, our Father in heaven. The patriarchs in the Bible are reference of God’s faithfulness and mercy in His promises. He made many promises to our patriarchs. He fulfilled every single one of them. He is not going to change that now.
And now that we live under these blessings of the Patriarchy of God our Father which we have received so freely and abundantly, we can also BE a blessing to others, sharing the good news of our Father in Heaven. God’s Truthfulness, faithfulness and Mercy are special gifts. The more you share, the more they multiply.
Cc – The promises of God, our patriarch (Father), to our early patriarchs show God’s truthfulness (Jews) and mercy (Gentiles). We are all one in Christ Jesus, as diverse as we are, under His Faithfulness and Mercy. We can make of Advent a time to thank Him for these blessings and to share them with fathers, mothers, children, men, women. His blessings are for all.
 Proverbs 16:9
 Colossians 1:17
 Rev. Eben Titus, “Blessings in abundance”, https://www.lhm.org/dailydevotions/default.asp?date=20160117 „Over the centuries God has continued to bless His people. Truly, it is always a joyful thing to receive the Lord's heaven-sent bounties in our lives. But it is a double joy to be a blessing to others also.”
Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash.