PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Leviticus 24:10-23; Blaspheming The Name

03/19 Leviticus 24:10-23; Blaspheming the Name; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20170319_leviticus-24_10-23.mp3

Leviticus 24, like Leviticus 10, reminds us that the five books of Moses are words from God given in a historical context. We think of Leviticus as a book of laws, and it is that, but these are laws given by God to his people in a particular context. God set his people free after 400 years of slavery and oppression in Egypt. He had demonstrated unmistakably his awesome power and unrivaled superiority over the false gods of the Egyptians. He brought his people out with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. He displayed that he alone is worthy of worship, and he is not to be treated lightly. He brought them out to worship him, to belong to him. He gave them the rules in Leviticus so that his people would understand what it meant to be in relationship with God, how a holy God could live in the middle of a sinful people, how their sins could be dealt with, how this holy God was to be approached.

Leviticus 24 switches from instruction to a narrative. Like Exodus 32, where Moses was on the mountain, receiving God’s words, and in the camp the people grew impatient, made a golden calf to worship, and broke all of God’s commands. Here, God has revealed to Moses that holy time is to be set apart to celebrate him, that light and bread are always abundant in his presence, and in the camp a fight breaks out.

Blasphemy of a Half-Israelite

Leviticus 24:10 Now an Israelite woman’s son, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the people of Israel. And the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel fought in the camp, 11 and the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. Then they brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan. 12 And they put him in custody, till the will of the LORD should be clear to them.

Notice it is not the fact that a fight broke out that is the problem here. Wherever there are people, there will problems. There will be differing opinions, conflicts, tension, strife. In a camp of well over 600,000 men, this was surely not the only fight in Israel. We know there were disputes. In Exodus 18, Moses’ father-in-law encouraged him to appoint elders to help arbitrate disputes because people were standing around waiting from morning until evening for Moses to judge between one and another. The fight was not the issue. If the fight were the issue, both parties would have been apprehended. The issue was blasphemy of the Name.

Neither was the question what should be done with a blasphemer. That was laid out in no uncertain terms already. The third command said:

Exodus 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

and

Exodus 21:17 “Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.

If one who cursed father or mother was to be put to death, clearly one who committed the greater crime of cursing the Lord God himself was to be put to death.

Exodus 22:28 “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.

The question here in Leviticus 24 is not what should be done with a blasphemer. The question is how this law should be applied to someone who was not a full Israelite. This was an Israelite woman’s son, but his father was an Egyptian.

Parenting and Discipline

Notice, we are not given the name of the blasphemer. We don’t know the name of the father. But we are given the name of the mother, and the genealogy of the mother. We aren’t given any of the dynamics of this family. We don’t know if the Egyptian dad had escaped Egypt with the family and was still involved, or if he was a slave owner who fathered this child and took no responsibility, or if he may have been part of Pharaoh’s army who was drowned in the Red Sea. Whatever the background and family dynamic, the mother carried the responsibility for how she raised her child. And her name and family line has been preserved for us for thousands of years as the mother whose son was a blasphemer.

Let me use this opportunity to share with you a few verses of parenting wisdom from the Proverbs.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 23:13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. 14 If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.

Hear me carefully. This is not a license for child abuse. Do not become so angry or frustrated with your child that you are tempted to injure your child. If that is where you feel you are at, you need to get some help and allow others in the church family to come along side you and speak wisdom and hope into your situation. Don’t be afraid to ask for counsel. But do not allow your children to do whatever they want to do. As a parent you have a responsibility to lovingly nurture and train your children. The Proverbs encourage parents to physically discipline their children. Think of it this way. The goal of loving discipline is to use a small amount of pain or discomfort administered carefully to prevent a much greater amount of pain later on. A slap on the hand or the back side stings a bit, but if it is applied consistently to prevent a small child from touching the hot stove, it may spare them from a trip to the emergency room. Loving discipline is hard work, and it is not meant for the convenience of the parent, but for the good of the child.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

In this case, apparently Shelomith failed to discipline her son, and he ultimately suffered the consequences. By his actions he brought shame on his mother, but notice, his mother was not held responsible for his behavior. Even if you had parents who failed to train you, that is not an excuse for your current behavior. You are accountable and will be held responsible for your own sins.

The Native and the Sojourner

The congregation understood the gravity of taking lightly the Name of the LORD. God, our Creator, our Rescuer, our Provider, is not to be dishonored. But what about this half-Israelite? Was he to be held to the same standard that a full Israelite was held to? He was held in custody until the LORD’s will was made known.

Leviticus 24:13 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 14 “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. 15 And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. 16 Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. 17 “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. 18 Whoever takes an animal’s life shall make it good, life for life. 19 If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him. 21 Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death. 22 You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the LORD your God.” 23 So Moses spoke to the people of Israel, and they brought out of the camp the one who had cursed and stoned him with stones. Thus the people of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses.

God makes it clear that the sojourner was to be held accountable in the same way as a native Israelite. Throughout Leviticus, we have seen provision made for the sojourner, the stranger, the alien. In Exodus 12:38 told that a mixed multitude left Egypt with Israel. God revealed himself to be the only true God. Any Egyptian who decided to leave the false gods of Egypt and align with Israel and her God was welcome. In Exodus 12 the sojourner that desired to celebrate the Passover was invited to be circumcised and keep the Passover. In Exodus 20:10 the sojourner was to benefit from the weekly day of rest. Leviticus 17 and 22 allow the sojourner to bring sacrifices to the tent of the LORD, and he was also held accountable for appropriate handling of blood. Leviticus 18 and 20 hold the sojourner living among Israel to the same standards of morality as the native Israelite. Leviticus 19 and 23 command the Israelites to care for the sojourners by leaving food in the fields for them to glean.

Leviticus 19:33 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 34 You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

The sojourners were invited to enjoy the benefits of the covenant relationship with God. But as such they were also held accountable for appropriate covenant conduct. This passage makes it explicitly clear that the foreigners who partook of the covenant blessings were also held accountable to the covenant.

We see this emphasis in the symmetry of the passage. [outline – G. Wenham]

16 blasphemy; the sojourner as well as the native shall be punished

17 take a man’s life

18 take an animal’s life

19 whatever injury he did must be done to him

20 whatever injury given must be given to him

21a kill and animal

21b kill a man

22 blasphemy; the same rule for the sojourner and the native

Verses 16-19 are mirrored in verses 20-22 Verses 16 and 22 require the same standard for the sojourner as for the native Israelite regarding blasphemy. Verses 17 and 21b deal with murder. Verses 18 and 21a deal with killing someone’s animal. Verses 19 and 20 deal with injuring another person. From the lesser offense to the greatest offense the punishment is to fit the crime, and the punishment is to be the same for the sojourner as for the native. There is to be no favoritism.

We also see in the structure of the passage an increasing degree of seriousness for different crimes. Working out from the center, verses 19 and 20 deal with the least serious, injury to another person. The eye for an eye and tooth for tooth provides a reasonable limit to compensation. This does not mean that if you knock out my tooth, I get to send you to the dentist to get your tooth extracted. What it means is that if you knock out my tooth, I am not allowed to go after you with a club and knock out all your teeth, as in the flesh most of us would be inclined to do. You are to compensate me appropriately for the loss of my tooth.

Moving out from the center, if you take the life of my animal, which would be a significant part of my livelihood, you are to compensate me appropriately. The life of an animal is valuable, but it is not as valuable as human life. If you pay me appropriately, I can buy another ox, or another tractor.

But the life of a person is more valuable than the life of an animal. When we move out to verses 17 and 21b, we see that no compensation can substitute for the life of a person. Humanity was created in the image of God, and in murder the life of the murderer is required in return for the life of the one murdered.

The Seriousness of Blasphemy

As we understand the structure of this passage, we begin to appreciate the extreme gravity of the offense. An even greater offense than murder is blasphemy. It is a great offense to deface the image of God in man, but it is an even greater offense to directly attack the character of God. This word ‘blaspheme’ literally means ‘to puncture, to pierce, to hollow out, to strike through’ The word ‘curse’ literally means ‘to make light of.’ If you remember, back in chapter 10, when God’s fire consumed Aaron’s sons who disobeyed God, he said “

Leviticus 10:3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.

This word ‘glorified’ means literally ‘heavy or weighty.’ God is to be taken as weighty, substantial, with gravity. He is not to be taken lightly. We might be tempted to read this passage and think ‘Wow, that seems excessive. Murder, sure, that’s serious, but saying some words against God, what’s the big deal? How is that hurting anyone? And they stoned him to death?’

This is where we need to allow Scripture to correct our thinking. We tend to assume that suffering and death are the worst things that can happen to a person, and that a long life is better than a short one. This passage teaches that to make light of God is so serious a crime it is worthy of death. Why? If we understand that we are created to glorify God, and that true human fulfillment and joy can only be found in his presence, then if we make light of him we deceive others to their eternal harm. If God is our eternal good, and those near to him act as if the things of this life are more substantial, more weighty than God himself, we invite others to disregard God and exchange his glory for created pleasures that will not ultimately satisfy. This is what Romans 1 calls ‘suppressing the truth’ about God, or Romans 3 calls ‘falling short of the glory of God,’ and it is worthy of ‘the wrath of God being revealed from heaven’. We must understand and guard ourselves against blaspheming God, lying about his character, and leading others astray by our attitudes.

The Law and the Gospel

Something very interesting to see as we step back from this passage is that this is one of only two narratives in Leviticus. The first, in Chapter 10, God’s glory is revealed and two priests who disobey are consumed by the flame of God. Here in chapter 24, a half-Israelite makes light of God’s name, and he is stoned to death by the people. In both narratives we see death and judgment in connection with God’s holy law. This is exactly what Romans teaches.

Romans 4:15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

Romans 7:10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

The law brings wrath. The commandment proves to be death to me. The law stops every mouth and makes every person accountable to God. The law makes no one righteous; rather the law shows us our utter sinfulness, and our desperate need.

And in this need, we find good news!

John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Paul reflects in 1 Timothy

1 Timothy 1:13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

We have all sinned and failed to live in a way that displays the weighty awesomeness of God. The wages of our sin is death. But even blasphemers can receive mercy. The grace of our Lord overflows to us. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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March 22, 2017 Posted by | Leviticus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holy Holy Holy God

12/06 Holy, Holy, Holy God; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20151206_holy-holy-holy-god.mp3

What is God like? When we think of God, what characteristic defines him? How does he define himself? If we could say only one thing about God, what would most capture his nature? Think for a moment, what word would you choose? This is really an unfair question, because God’s attributes cannot be separated or isolated from one another, and God’s characteristics are not in conflict with one another. Everything God does is an expression of all his attributes. I think many people today would say ‘God is love’ or ‘God is grace’, and that is true. We might choose love because we can think of a Bible verse that says ‘God is love’ (1Jn.4:8). And we might choose love or grace because that is how we want God to respond to us. We are rightly grateful that he is loving and gracious toward us. But at the root we want to elevate these characteristics of God because we are really all about ourselves. We know he is just and righteous, but we would rather experience his love and grace. That is what we want from him. But what is the emphasis in the Scriptures? What does God highlight for us about himself?

There is only one characteristic of God that is repeated three times consecutively in worship and praise to him. In Isaiah 6, the prophet is given a vision of the presence of God.

Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. I3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

These six-winged seraphs surrounding God’s throne are continually crying out ‘holy, holy, holy’. They are not crying out ‘love, love love’ or ‘gracious, gracious, gracious’. God is not heralded as ‘righteous, righteous, righteous’ or ‘eternal, eternal, eternal’ or ‘almighty, almighty, almighty’.

John, in his revelation of the presence of God, witnessed a similar scene around God’s throne.

Revelation 4:2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

Holy, holy, holy. They never cease to say ‘holy, holy holy’! Throughout eternity, the praise of God’s holiness reverberates around his throne.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he began by teaching them:

Luke 11:2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name…

The first thing we are to pray is that the Father’s name be hallowed, or treated as holy… on earth as it is in heaven. The third commandment is:

Exodus 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

God’s name is to be treated as holy. It is not to be used in vain, in a worthless or common or ordinary manner.

God says in Leviticus 22:

Leviticus 22:32 And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you,

And in Ezekiel 39:

Ezekiel 39:7 “And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.

God’s name is holy, and his name is not to be profaned or made common. He calls himself the Holy One.

What does Holy Mean?

God declares that he is holy, and demands to be recognized as holy. What does it mean to be holy? Fortunately, the Bible gives us quite a clear picture of what it means to be holy. In these verses in Leviticus and Ezekiel, we see that to be holy or to sanctify, is contrasted with to profane or treat as common. The basic meaning of holy is that which is set apart. To sanctify is to set apart. There are clear instructions in the Old Testament law about how to set things apart to God. Something or someone who was to be holy was cleansed and removed from common or ordinary use, and through some ritual or process was dedicated or consecrated to be used in the worship or service of God. There was a negative and positive aspect to holiness or sanctification. Negatively, it was cleansed and removed from circulation in its ordinary use. Positively, it was dedicated or consecrated to be exclusively used in the service of God and to bring him glory. So when a priest was sanctified or made holy, he left his ordinary daily routine, came to the tabernacle, he was washed, clothed with different clothes, and anointed to serve as priest. He was set apart to the service of the Lord. He was not allowed to participate in common activities for the time he was appointed to serve. When someone dedicated a gold bracelet or earring to the Lord, it would be melted down, reshaped into something for the worship and service of the Lord, and then washed and anointed, never to be used for common purposes again. Whatever it came in contact with would also become holy, set apart exclusively to the Lord’s use. The specific blend of spices used as anointing oil and incense to the Lord (Ex.30:22-38) was to be holy. No one was to make any like it or to use it for any common purpose.

I The Lord Am Holy

Leviticus 19:2 “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

Leviticus 20:26 You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.

We understand what it means for us to be holy. We are no longer to be involved in that which is common, ordinary, we are to be cleansed and set apart exclusively for the service and worship of God. We are to do all that we do to the glory of God (1Cor.10:31) But what does it mean for God to be holy? If holiness is being set apart, what is God set apart to or for? What is higher or more worthy that God must dedicate himself exclusively to?

What if what it means for God to be holy is very similar to what it means for us to be holy? For us to be holy is to turn from that which is common, and be dedicated exclusively to that which is most valuable and worthy of praise, which is God. For God to be holy means that he is exclusively dedicated to valuing that which is most valuable and worthy of praise, which is himself. Holiness in us is to seek the glory of God above all else. Holiness in God is to seek his own glory above all else. Might this be what God means when he says that he will not share his glory?

Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

Isaiah 48:11 ​For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.

If God were to dedicate himself to anything other than himself, he would become an idolater, worshiping and serving something that is less than God, and by that act he would communicate falsely that there is something higher and more worthy of worship than God.

Isaiah 6:13 …Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

God’s holiness is his utter separation from valuing anything above himself, and his complete dedication to promoting the praise of his own glory.

We are to be holy because God is holy. We are to treasure God above all else, because he values himself above all else. We are to have no other gods beside him, because he honors no gods outside himself. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, because God loves himself completely.

This idea that holiness in God means that he loves himself above all and seeks his own glory at first sounds uncomfortable, and we might even recoil from it, because it seems we are attributing to God something that is sinful. For me to love myself and seek my own glory would be arrogant, narcissistic and sinful, because I would be robbing God of the honor due to him and taking it for myself, when I do not deserve it. But for God to fail to love himself and seek his own glory would be sinful. For God to love or seek the glory of anyone above himself would be for God to become a liar and an idolater. It is right for God to treasure that which is most valuable, which is himself.

Delighting in God’s Holiness

I think this will become clearer as we look at some of the passages that talk about God’s holiness. Exodus 15 speaks of the incomparable holiness of God.

Exodus 15:11“Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?

God is unique in his holiness. God does wonders, he is awesome in glorious deeds to demonstrate that he is most worthy to be praised. David’s song of praise when the Ark was brought to Jerusalem in 1 Chronicles 16 says

1 Chronicles 16:8 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! 9 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! 10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!

We are called to delight, to rejoice, to glory in the holy name of God. We seek the Lord and delight ourselves in him because he delights in himself.

1 Chronicles 16:23 Sing to the LORD, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. 24 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 25 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be feared above all gods.

God’s salvation, his marvelous works, his glory is great and worthy of praise.

1 Chronicles 16:28 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! 29 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;

God’s name deserves glory. The splendor of his holiness deserves to be worshiped. God is right and good to display his greatness and worth so that we will respond with appropriate worship.

1 Chronicles 16:35 Say also: “Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.

We glory in his praise. We give thanks to his holy name. God is worthy to be praised, and he holds up his own name and his glory to be adored.

Psalm 29 says:

Psalm 29:1 Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

Psalm 96 says:

Psalm 96:8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! 9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

We owe it to God to glorify his name. Angels owe glory to God. His holiness is splendid!

Psalm 33:20 Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.

His holiness of putting himself first in everything increases our gladness in him. He is our everything. We wait for his help and protection. We trust in his holiness, because he values what is most valuable. Our hearts are glad in him, because he is delightful!

Psalm 138:2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word

God exalts his own name and his own word above all things. He is holy. He puts that which is most worthy of praise first, namely himself.

In Psalm 89 (and also in Amos 4:2) God swears by his holiness.

Psalm 89:35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. (cf. Amos 4:2)

God can use his own holiness as the basis of his oath to bind himself because he will consistently uphold his own worth. He swears by something he holds dear, something that will require him to keep his word.

Holiness Inclines Toward Humility

Proverbs 9:10 ​The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

We gain insight, wisdom by fearing the LORD, by knowing the Holy One. To know God as holy, zealous for the honor of his own fame is wisdom.

Listen to Isaiah 57:

Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, …

His name is Holy, and he dwells in the high and holy place. This seems to put him out of reach. He is entirely separate, other, inaccessible. But listen to what God says:

I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

God’s holiness inclines toward humility. The holiness of God must crush the proud, to demonstrate that he alone is worthy, but to those who are contrite and lowly, he is favorable.

After the angel announced to Mary that she would carry the coming King,

Luke 1:46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 ​and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His name is holy, and he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.

We can join in praise to God that he treasures that which is most valuable, himself. We must humble ourselves and acknowledge his surpassing greatness and delight ourselves in the splendor of his holiness. May we glory in his holy name!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

December 6, 2015 Posted by | Knowing God, podcast, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Communion with The Son

11/08 Communion With The Son; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20151108_communion-with-son.mp3

We are taking some time to look at who God is as he reveals himself to us in his word. Our desire is to know God, to enjoy God, to worship God as he really is. We have seen the clear teaching of scripture is that there is only one true God, and that the Father is God, the Son is God and the Spirit is God. We have seen that we are invited in to relationship, to fellowship, to communion with each of the persons of the one triune God.

1 John 1:3 …and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Last time we looked specifically at the Father, why he is called ‘Father’, and we looked just briefly at what our unique relationship or fellowship with the Father is to be. Today we will look specifically at the Son, why he is called ‘Son’ and what it means to have communion with the Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Son of The Father

We have seen in John 1 that Jesus, the Word was with the Father in the beginning. He was God, fully divine, but he was with his Father as a distinct someone from the Father, who can refer to himself as ‘I’ and to the Father as ‘you’. He has always existed in relationship with his Father. Just as we saw last time that the Father is called ‘Father’ primarily because of his relationship with his Son, so also the Son is called ‘Son’ because of his relationship with his Father.

Jesus frequently described his relationship to his Father. Jesus spoke of his relationship with his Father in at least four main ways, as a relationship of union, communion, obedience and receiving.

Union

Jesus said ‘I and the Father are one’ (Jn.10:30); the Jews understood him to be ‘making himself God’ (Jn.10:33). In Jesus calling God his own ‘Father’ they understood him to be ‘making himself equal with God’ (Jn.5:18). Jesus said:

John 14:7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

Jesus communicates that to know him is to know the Father. Whoever has seen him has seen the Father. Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus. The Father dwells in Jesus and does his works in Jesus.

In Psalm 45, quoted in Hebrews 1, the Messiah who is anointed by God is referred to as God.

Hebrews 1:8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

Jesus is God, and his rule is eternal. Philippians 2 speaks of Jesus:

Philippians 2:6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Jesus in his very essence is divine. He is equal with the Father. There is perfect unity and identity between the Father and the Son, such that Jesus can say “I and the Father are one”.

Notice that Jesus never said ‘I am the Father’. He did say “I am in the Father and the Father is in me”.

Communion

Jesus’ relationship with his Father is one of union and also of communion. Simply read through the gospels and pay attention to how many times Jesus prayed to his Father. Jesus was in constant communion with his Father.

Mark 1:35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

Luke 5:16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

Luke 6:12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.

In John 11, at the tomb of Lazarus

John 11:41 …And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”

Obedience

Jesus’ relation to his Father was characterized by union, communion, and obedience. In John 8, Jesus said: “I honor my father’ (Jn.8:49); we could say Jesus has eternally kept the fifth commandment. Jesus’ relationship with his Father was the ideal father – son relationship.

John 5:17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

…19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. …

My Father is working and I am working. I only do what I see the Father doing.

John 5:30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

John 5:36 … For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.

I seek the will of the Father. I do the works the Father gave me to accomplish.

John 8:29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”

I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”

John 18:11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Receiving

The Son’s relationship to the Father is one of obedience. It is also one of receiving gifts. Jesus described the relationship of a father to son as one of giving good gifts.

Matthew 7:11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

In Luke 1, it is promised of Jesus:

Luke 1:32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

John 3 says:

John 3:35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.

The Father gives all authority to Jesus.

John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

The Father gives sheep, people, to Jesus.

Jesus prays in John 17:

John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

The Father gives his love to Jesus. The Father gives glory to the Son.

John 5:20 …And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

The Father has given all judgment to the Son. The Father has given to the Son to give life. The Father gives to the Son so that the Son will be honored just as they honor the Father.

Eternal Generation

John 5 continues:

John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

This is a staggering passage. Not only is it given to the Son to give life to whom he will, but it is given by the Father to the Son to have life in himself. Earlier in our exploration of who God is we saw that God has aseity or self-existence. He is not dependent on anything outside himself; he has life in himself. Here we see that just as the Father has life in himself, he has given aseity or self-existence to the Son. But lest we think that this was a gift given at a point in time, before which the Son did not possess self-existence or life in himself, we need only to turn back to the first chapter of John’s gospel. Speaking of the Divine Word who was in the beginning with God, he says:

John 1:4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

The Son has always had life in himself. Self-existence would not be self-existence if there was a time he received it from someone else. That would be dependent self-existence. But that seems to be exactly what John says here in chapter 5. Notice, however, the self-existence of the Son is exactly the same as the self-existence of the Father. Just as the Father’s self existence is eternal, so the self-existence of the Son is eternal and had no beginning, yet in some sense it is given by the Father to the Son. We are helped to understand this by the language of begottenness. The King James calls Jesus the ‘only begotten Son of the Father.’ C.S. Lewis writes:

We don’t use the words begetting or begotten much in modern English, but everyone still knows what they mean. To beget is to become the father of: to create is to make. And the difference is this. When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a beaver begets little beavers and a bird begets eggs which turn into little birds. But when you make, you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, a man makes a wireless set…

Now that is the first thing to get clear. What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God, just as what man creates is not man.” [C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity]

The Nicene creed puts it this way:

We believe …in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.” [Nicene Creed, 325]

Jesus is begotten not made; he is not begotten in time but eternally begotten; he is God of God, of one substance with the Father. The relationship between the Father and the Son is not a relationship that came about in time; it is essential to the nature of God. God eternally exists as Father, Son and Spirit. The Son is eternally begotten of the Father. The Son always relates to the Father as Father.

The Father is greater than I

This helps us to understand Jesus’ statement that ‘the Father is greater than I’.

John 14:28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

Jesus is delighted to return to the Father, having accomplished all that the Father sent him to do. The Father is greater than Jesus in the way that a father is greater than his son. A human father is not more human than his son, and God the Father is not more God than Jesus. Jesus and his Father are equal in essence (I and the Father are one); but Jesus is subordinate to his Father in relationship. A human father is greater than his son in that he has authority over his son. God the Father is greater in that his authority is essential to his role as Father. Jesus as Son is subordinate in relationship. Yet the Father gives all authority into his hand. It is a given authority. It is characteristic of a son to receive gifts from his father.

Communion with The Son

We have spent some time looking at the relation of the only-begotten Son to his Father. If “our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ,” what is our unique relationship with the Son?

If we look back at the benediction in 2 Corinthians, we see:

2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Grace, undeserved favor and kindness, is ascribed particularly to our Lord Jesus. We see in John 1:

John 1:16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Jesus is the one through whom we experience grace. The Father did not die on the cross for our sins. God so loved the world that he gave his Son. The Father is our loving Creator. Jesus is our gracious Redeemer.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

Jesus is the only begotten God at the Father’s side, who makes him known. Jesus is the Word who communicates with us what the invisible God is like. Jesus is the only way to the Father. But other than going through Jesus to get to the Father, do we have any direct relation to Jesus?

Come To Me / Believe in Me

Jesus invites us:

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

John 5:39 …the Scriptures … bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

…37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. .

John 7:37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

We must come to Jesus, believe in Jesus, believe that he is the I AM or we will die in our sins.

Pray to Me

Jesus invites us to pray to him.

John 14:13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Be With Me

Jesus says:

John 10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

We are to know Jesus with the same intimacy that exists between the Father and the Son. Jesus is eager for a relationship with us. He says:

John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Jesus wants us to be with him.

John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” … 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

Jesus will make himself known to us. He, together with the Father, will make his home in us.

Abide in Me

In John 15, Jesus uses the metaphor of a vine.

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. … 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

We are to abide in Jesus, to remain connected to Jesus, in intimate fellowship with him, enjoying his love.

Be Friends of Me

Jesus says to us

John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

We are friends of Jesus. We are chosen and appointed by Jesus

Worship Me

We are to worship Jesus.

John 5:22 The Father …has given all judgment to the Son,23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

The Father intends for us to honor the Son just as we honor the Father. Jesus prayed:

John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Jesus desires that we be with him so that we can behold his eternal glory. Observe the scene in heaven around the throne giving worship to Jesus the Lamb.

Revelation 5:8 …the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

November 8, 2015 Posted by | Knowing God, podcast, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 13:5b; Love Seeks Not Its Own

11/30 1 Corinthians 13:5b Love Seeks Not Its Own; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20141130_1cor13_5b.mp3

1 Corinthians 13 [SBLGNT]

4 Ἡ ἀγάπη μακροθυμεῖ, χρηστεύεται ἡ ἀγάπη, οὐ ζηλοῖ ἡ ἀγάπη, οὐ περπερεύεται, οὐ φυσιοῦται, 5 οὐκ ἀσχημονεῖ, οὐ ζητεῖ τὰ ἑαυτῆς, οὐ παροξύνεται, οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόν,

1 Corinthians 13 [ESV2011]

12:31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The kind of love that we are talking about is a love that originates in God. God is love, and we love because he first loved us. Any love that we have for one another is a reflection of his perfect love for us. We learn what love is by looking to the God who is love. God’s love has a long fuse, is slow to anger. God’s love is good hearted, even to those who are ungrateful and wrong him. God’s love is not displeased when good comes to another, rather God’s love delights to bring good to others. God’s love is not bragging or self-inflating, God does not think of himself more highly that he ought to think; God recognizes himself as the all satisfying source of everything good, and in love he invites us to find our truest pleasure in admiring him. God’s love is not inappropriate, indecent, or shameful, rather God cleanses us, covers our shame, and clothes us with his own perfect righteousness.

Trinitarian Love

The next thing we are told about God’s love is that love does not insist on its own way, or love ‘seeketh not her own’ (KJV). This straightforward phrase literally says love ‘seeks not that which is its own’. I am going to argue today that this little phrase necessitates the Christian understanding of the triune nature of God, and this spills over into how we are to love one another. Christians do not believe that there is more than one true God, and Christians do not believe that the Father, Son and Spirit are the same person. The biblical understanding of God is that there is only one God who exists eternally in the three distinct persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

You might be wondering where in the world I get the trinity out of this phrase ‘love does not seek that which is its own’. In studying these verses on love, I have been asking of the text this question: If God is love and we love because he first loved us, then in what way does God demonstrate each of the characteristic of love that we are looking at? God is love. Love does not seek its own. But God does seek his own glory above everything else. We looked two weeks ago at several passages (Isaiah 48; Ezekiel 20, 36) in which God claims to do what he does for his own sake, for the sake of his own name, for his own praise, and for his own glory. We concluded then that although God is the most self-promoting being in the universe, who actively seeks his own glory, God is not arrogant or puffed up because his self seeking is not inflated and empty, but rather solid and substantial. He is exactly who he claims himself to be. But how do we get around the tension that God clearly does seeks his own, but love does not seek its own?

God Seeks His Own Glory

Before we move too quickly to the solution, I want to look at some verses that clearly depict God as one who seeks his own glory. God’s first command to his people was ‘I am the LORD your God, …You shall have no other gods before me’ (Ex.20:2-3). God is seeking his own worship. The second command was a prohibition to giving any worship or service to images, because ‘I the LORD your God am a jealous God’ (Ex.20:5). Listen to the Psalms:

Psalm 8:1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 148:13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.

The entire Old Testament is saturated with the self-seeking of a God who demands to be praised. Repeatedly he insists that he does everything he does for his own sake. Listen to how our salvation is described in the New Testament:

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

He begins by blessing God, then he outlines our salvation; we were chosen to be holy, predestined for adoption…

…6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Election and predestination is all for the praise of his glorious grace. He goes on to say that he redeemed us, forgave us, made known his will to us, gave us an inheritance, and predestined us…

…12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

Again the motive in our salvation is that his glory is praised. He goes on to say that we heard the gospel, believed, and were sealed with the Holy Spirit…

…14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Our salvation is intended by him to bring him praise. He is seeking his own glory by saving us. Then he prays for us:

…17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

His prayer is that we know God, that our hearts recognize how great it is that he called us, that we know his riches, and how immeasurably great his power is. Our salvation is all about God’s glory being known and praised and delighted in!

In Romans 15, we are told that Jesus did what he did in order to demonstrate God’s truthfulness…

Romans 15:9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”

We find the purpose of God’s glory throughout the Bible. In Philippians 1, Paul prays:

Philippians 1:9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

We are to love and be pure and blameless, filled with the fruit of righteousness, to the glory and praise of God. Our righteousness is not an end in itself. Our righteousness comes through Jesus Christ and it is to the glory and praise of God.

Jesus said to the woman at the well:

John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

God is seeking worship. God unashamedly seeks his own glory in all things and above all things. But love does not seek its own. Does this mean that God is not loving? We see the character of God most clearly as we look to the image of the invisible God, the one who made God known, Jesus Christ our Lord. We gain beautiful clarity on what love looks like as we look to Jesus.

Jesus Seeks Not His Own

When Jesus’ disciples returned with lunch, they were surprised to find him speaking with a Samaritan woman, and when they offered him food, they were confused because he said ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about’ (Jn.4:32). Jesus explained:

John 4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

Jesus was sent by his Father. What sustained Jesus was doing the will of the Father, doing the things God sent him to do. Jesus told his disciples ‘the harvest is here!’ And many Samaritans believed in Jesus.

In John 5, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath day and told him to pick up his bed-roll and walk. The Jewish leaders considered this a violation of the Sabbath.

John 5:16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

Jesus does not argue that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath, and he does not argue that for a paralyzed man who had been supernaturally healed to take up his bed-roll and walk should not be considered work. He doesn’t argue about the nature of work. Instead, he gave as his justification that he is working because his Father is working. In Genesis 2:2, we are told that God ‘rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done’. But although God had completed his creation and stopped his work, in a sense we know that God must continue to be at work in the world. We are told in Psalm 121:

Psalm 121:2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD is your keeper…

God ceaselessly keeps his people. He never rests from his work in the world. And Jesus says as his defense to the Jews that ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.’ Jesus simply says ‘I do what my Father does, and he works on the Sabbath, so I work on the Sabbath’. We are told of Jesus in Hebrews 1 that

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. …

We are told of Jesus in Colossians 1 that he is the image of the invisible God and all things were created by him, through him, and for him,

Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Jesus is holding all things together. Jesus is upholding the universe by the word of his power. The Father is working, and Jesus is working, every day.

John 5:18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

The Jews understood what he was saying. He was claiming a unique relationship to God, that no one else could claim, as the only Son of the Father. He was claiming to be to be distinct from and equal to God the Father. He was not claiming to be the Father, he was the Son. He claimed to be one with the Father in his work.

John 5:19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.

In that culture a son didn’t strike out on his own business venture when he came of age. From the earliest days he would work with his father, learning the trade, learning the family business, learning the skills and secrets. A son would apprentice under his father until he was ready to take over the family business. Jesus was claiming a unique relationship with God the Father. Jesus doesn’t go off on his own and do his own thing. He does what his Father does. The Father shows him what he is doing, so the Son can do what the Father does. He claims in the following verses that he will raise the dead and give life, just as the Father does. He claims that the Father has entrusted all judgment to the Son,

John 5:23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

This is a startling claim. The Father has set it up so that Jesus would receive the same honor that his Father deserves. To dishonor the Son is to dishonor his Father. Jesus claims to speak the words of the Father. He claims to be self-existent, or have life in himself. In verse 30 he says:

John 5:30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Jesus claims to seek not his own will, but the will of the Father. Love incarnate does not seek his own. He seeks the will of the Father. In John 6, Jesus says:

John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Jesus does the will of the Father. In John 7, Jesus says:

John 7:18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.

Jesus does not seek his own glory. He seeks the glory of his Father. Jesus says in John 8:

John 8:28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”

Jesus always does the things that are pleasing to his Father. He gladly submits to the authority of his Father. He seeks the Father’s will and the Father’s glory. In John 8 we see Jesus honoring his Father.

John 8:49 … I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. …54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’

Jesus honors his Father, but we also see here that the God the Father seeks the glory and honor of Jesus. We see this reciprocal glorifying in John 13:

John 13:31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.

The Son is glorified by the Father, God the Father is glorified in the Son. John 15 and 16 brings the role of the Holy Spirit into this.

John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

As the Father bears witness of the Son so also the Spirit bears witness of Jesus.

John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

The Spirit seeks not his own. The Holy Spirit seeks the glory of Jesus. When Jesus prays to his Father in John 17, he says:

John 17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Jesus seeks not his own, but to bring glory to his Father in everything he does. He asks the Father to glorify the Son with the glory he had from eternity.

We see a love that does not seek its own at work in the triune God. The fact that God seeks his own glory in all that he does, we now see with greater clarity. Jesus seeks the glory of the Father. The Father seeks to glorify the Son. The Spirit seeks the glory of the Father and the Son. Each is pursuing the glory of the other.

Now we can begin to appreciate the admonition of Philippians 2:

Philippians 2:2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Count others as more significant than yourselves. Seek not only your own interests, but also the interests of others. Jesus, eternally equal to his Father, did not cling to the privileges of that equality, but gladly humbled himself and obeyed his Father. His Father in turn highly exalted Jesus, and in turn, every knee bowing to Jesus brings glory back to God the Father. 1 Corinthians 15 speaks of the end,

1 Corinthians 15:24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. …28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

This seems to be what Paul is driving at when he says in Romans 12:10

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

The Father, Son and Spirit are not seeking their own, but are seeking to outdo one another in showing honor. Toward the end of Philippians 2, Paul is eager to send his dear son in the faith Timothy to them,

Philippians 2:20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

We are to seek not our own, but the good of others. In seeking the interests of others, we are seeking the glory of Jesus Christ. And when we become others focused and stop seeking our own interests, we are set free from worrying about ourselves. When we stop focusing on self and seeking our own, we are free to love, free to love like we have been loved, free to seek the good of others. When we stop seeking our own, we leave God room to seek our good. And he is much more capable of bringing us good than we are. Jesus paints for us a picture of what this looks like in Luke 12.

Luke 12:15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” … 22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.

Love does not seek its own. Seek not your own interests, but those of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

November 30, 2014 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 12:14-26; Belonging to the Body

1 Corinthians 12:14-26 ~ 20140928 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

09/28 1 Corinthians 12:14-26 Belonging to the Body; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20140928_1cor12_14-26.mp3

1 Corinthians 12 [SBLGNT]

14 Καὶ γὰρ τὸ σῶμα οὐκ ἔστιν ἓν μέλος ἀλλὰ πολλά. 15 ἐὰν εἴπῃ ὁ πούς· Ὅτι οὐκ εἰμὶ χείρ, οὐκ εἰμὶ ἐκ τοῦ σώματος, οὐ παρὰ τοῦτο οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ σώματος; 16 καὶ ἐὰν εἴπῃ τὸ οὖς· Ὅτι οὐκ εἰμὶ ὀφθαλμός, οὐκ εἰμὶ ἐκ τοῦ σώματος, οὐ παρὰ τοῦτο οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ σώματος· 17 εἰ ὅλον τὸ σῶμα ὀφθαλμός, ποῦ ἡ ἀκοή; εἰ ὅλον ἀκοή, ποῦ ἡ ὄσφρησις; 18 νυνὶ δὲ ὁ θεὸς ἔθετο τὰ μέλη, ἓν ἕκαστον αὐτῶν, ἐν τῷ σώματι καθὼς ἠθέλησεν. 19 εἰ δὲ ἦν τὰ πάντα ἓν μέλος, ποῦ τὸ σῶμα; 20 νῦν δὲ πολλὰ μὲν μέλη, ἓν δὲ σῶμα. 21 οὐ δύναται δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμὸς εἰπεῖν τῇ χειρί· Χρείαν σου οὐκ ἔχω, ἢ πάλιν ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῖς ποσίν· Χρείαν ὑμῶν οὐκ ἔχω· 22 ἀλλὰ πολλῷ μᾶλλον τὰ δοκοῦντα μέλη τοῦ σώματος ἀσθενέστερα ὑπάρχειν ἀναγκαῖά ἐστιν, 23 καὶ ἃ δοκοῦμεν ἀτιμότερα εἶναι τοῦ σώματος, τούτοις τιμὴν περισσοτέραν περιτίθεμεν, καὶ τὰ ἀσχήμονα ἡμῶν εὐσχημοσύνην περισσοτέραν ἔχει, 24 τὰ δὲ εὐσχήμονα ἡμῶν οὐ χρείαν ἔχει. ἀλλὰ ὁ θεὸς συνεκέρασεν τὸ σῶμα, τῷ ὑστεροῦντι περισσοτέραν δοὺς τιμήν, 25 ἵνα μὴ ᾖ σχίσμα ἐν τῷ σώματι, ἀλλὰ τὸ αὐτὸ ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων μεριμνῶσι τὰ μέλη. 26 καὶ εἴτε πάσχει ἓν μέλος, συμπάσχει πάντα τὰ μέλη· εἴτε δοξάζεται μέλος, συγχαίρει πάντα τὰ μέλη.

1 Corinthians 12 [ESV2011]

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Paul is answering questions the Corinthians had asked about what defines spirituality, and how spirituality relates to specific spiritual gifts. They were seeking power and status and position. They wanted to be thought well of by others.

Paul reminds them in verses 1-3 of the basic Christian truth that every genuine follower of the Lord Jesus has the Spirit of God and is thus spiritual.

In verses 4-11 he emphasizes the diverse distributions of distinct gifts all coming from the one triune God. Gifts are given to every part of the body, so no one is ungifted or unspiritual. Every believer has been sovereignly, supernaturally equipped to play a divinely ordained role in the function of the body. And gifts are given not for the building up of any individual, but for the common good.

In verses 12-13, he introduces the analogy of the body and grounds it in the theological truth that every believer has been baptized in one Spirit into one body. Every follower of Jesus, every dependent of Jesus has been baptized in the one Spirit into the one church, the body of Christ. Diverse backgrounds have drunk of the one Spirit.

In verses 14-26 he fleshes out the metaphor of the body, making three main points that every believer is a necessary part, that no believer is independent of other parts, and that extra respect should be shown to the less presentable parts.

Principle

First, he states the principle:

12:14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

Ears, eyes, nose, mouth, brain, nerves, bones, tendons, muscles, tissue, hands, feet, liver, lungs, kidneys, heart, stomach, intestines; the body consists of many parts. No part is unnecessary. No part is able to function independent of the others. Each part, each organ, each limb is inextricably interconnected and interdependent with all the other parts.

I Do Not Belong

He addresses the issue of a body part that feels it does not belong.

15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.

The metaphor is humorous. Each part is given a voice. I’m not sure how the foot or the ear can talk without sending the message through the nervous system into the brain and out the mouth, but Paul is picturing the foot complaining. “I am down here at the bottom, in the dirt. It really stinks down here. I have to bear the whole weight of the rest of the body. I’m clumsy and run into things, and it really hurts. I step in things and it stinks. The hand is so much more coordinated. It is way up there in a much more pleasant environment doing really interesting stuff. It can grip and twist and squeeze and scratch and snap and wave and shake and feel. It gets to have interaction and communication. When there is an itch, it can scratch it. The hand is in. I’m out. I don’t belong.

Or the ear to the eye. I don’t have lids to protect me, I can’t move on my own, or focus on things near or far. The eye can even express emotion, display joy, create tears, communicate annoyance or intensity. To see color and texture and movement and depth must be amazing. The eyes are in. I’m out. I don’t belong.

Does the feeling of not belonging make it any less a part of the body? If it says that it is not a part, does that disconnect it from the body? The foot cannot choose to disconnect itself from the body. Ironically, it would be dependent on the very hand it is jealous of to pick up a saw or an ax and sever it from the body, something the brain under normal circumstances would never allow the hand to do.

The idea of a self-aware and self-conscious comparing and complaining part of the body is humorous and absurd, and that is the very point Paul uses this illustration to make. The body is one and functions as one. When there is running to be done, the feet and legs and hips all move together to perform the action. When there is something to be picked up, the hands and arms and back and legs all cooperate to accomplish the action. The parts are not self-conscious of their individuality and distinction from the other parts, envious of the other parts. The body is one and moves as one under the direction of the one head, empowered by the one spirit. When we begin to think about our own importance or unimportance in comparison to the rest of the body, the possibility of doing anything truly Christian is gone (Morris, p.172).

It is interesting that the foot does not compare itself with the eye, and the ear does not compare itself with the hand. Chrysostom notes that ‘we are prone to envy those who surpass us a little rather than those who are patently in a different class’ (Morris, p.171).

Monstrosity of a One Member Body

Paul develops this illustration further based on the different functions of the different parts.

17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?

Picture the monstrosity of a body that was all eye. Even Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. has arms, legs, and a mouth in addition to his one big eye. It would be difficult to animate a whole body that was only eye. The idea of a whole body that is nothing but ear is absurd. The different functions are highlighted. Maybe seeing is more important than hearing or smelling, but all those senses together make up our experience of the world around us, and any lack would be a deformity and a deficiency. If the ear got its wish and morphed into an eye, the body would lack a very important sense.

Sovereign Wisdom in the Design of the Body

18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

Again, God is honored as the divine mastermind behind the creation of the body. In verse 6 we were told that God empowers the various gifts, in verses 7-10 that the gifts are given by God through the Spirit, in verse 11 the Spirit apportions to each one individually as he wills, in verse 13, we were all made to drink of one Spirit. God arranges the members of the body, each one of them, as he chose. There is divine sovereign wisdom and purpose in the arrangement of the members of the body. For one body part to envy another or for one part to consider itself as out of place or not belonging is to say that God made a mistake in his arrangement of the individual parts.

If all were a single part, where would the body be? A drawer full of tongues or ears or eyes would be very disturbing. That is not a body.

We can apply this principle to local churches. It is just as freakish and bizarre for any local church or denomination to choose its favorite gift and make up a body of all tongues or all brains or all hearts. That is not a body.

I Have No Need of You

Paul now moves his focus from the part that feels unimportant and that it does not belong, to the part who feels overly important.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

Now we have the eye looking down on the hand. Again we have the absurdity of individual self-aware self-conscious body parts competing with one another. Just as inconceivable as a body part excluding itself from the body because doesn’t feels like it belongs, so it is unthinkable for a body part to arrogantly proclaim that it is self-sufficient and independent of the other parts. The function of the eye is amazing. It can perceive and identify something a mile away. It can discern shapes and colors and distance. The eye can see. But have you ever gotten a grain of dirt or a piece of sawdust in your eye? The hand becomes a very valuable asset to the eye. Imagine getting up one morning and stumbling in to the bathroom to put in your contact lenses. The hand says to the eye, ‘so you don’t need me? Good luck with that!’ Try getting the tiny lenses out of the little plastic case with the screw on lids and into your eyes without the use of your hands. No individual member can have such an over-inflated opinion of itself that it disregards or discards other members of the body. The head is undeniably important. It is more important to the life of the body than the feet. The body can live longer without feet than it can without a head. But that does not give it permission to say to the feet ‘I have no need of you’. No part of the body can say to any other part of the body ‘I have no need of you’.

Honor the Unpresentable Parts

22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require.

Some parts of the body we consider weaker or less honorable or unpresentable. The word translated ‘seem to be’ and ‘we think’ was used back in 1:18.

1 Corinthians 1:18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.

In 4:9-13 the word is used to describe the seeming foolishness, weakness, and disrepute of the apostles. It is also used in 8:2.

1 Corinthians 8:2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.

1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

The word ‘weaker’ or weakness has been a theme in this letter. In 1:25 he says:

1 Corinthians 1:25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. … 27 …God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

In chapter 8 he uses this word to describe the consciences of those who were being stumbled.

1 Corinthians 8:11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

And in chapter 9

1 Corinthians 9:22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.

In 4:10, he uses the words ‘dishonorable’ and ‘weak’ to describe what the Apostles seemed to be in comparison to the status seeking Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 4:10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute.

There are some body parts that we keep hidden. And rightly so. Some body parts are not intended for the public eye. They are weak, dishonorable, unpresentable. But these parts are indispensable. Literally, the text says we ‘surround these with superabundant honor’. They are treated with superabundant modesty. It seems Paul’s language is pointing to the parts of the reproductive system. These parts are best kept hidden, but they are indispensable for the propagation of future generations. In athletics, these parts are surrounded with extra protection and padding.

Paul is making the connection with the weak, dishonorable, unpresentable people in the body of Christ. Some people are socially awkward. Some people lack tact and social graces. Some people have a tendency to put their feet in their mouths or speak before they think. Some people are destitute and in desperate circumstances. Some people suffer from mental illness. Some people are weak or sick. In the world, these are the people that would be subject to ridicule, they would be held up and made a spectacle of, they would be the brunt of jokes and gossip. But not so in the church of God. God chose the foolish, God chose the weak, God chose the low, the despised, the nothings, so that no one might boast in his presence (1:27-29). At the cross, God turned social norms upside down. He conquered power with weakness, he took away guilt by being shamed, he decimated the wisdom of the world with the foolishness of the cross. The world gives great honor to the most presentable people. But in the church of Christ, we are to surround with superabundant honor and modesty and protection our unpresentable parts. We are to give the greatest care to the least of these, care and protection that the presentable parts do not require. Jesus said:

Matthew 25:34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. This turns appearance on its head. Some of the presentable parts are dispensable. The hands are presentable. But you can live without your hands. You can’t live without your lungs or your heart. Some of the unseen, ugly things are vital, and the visible attractive things although important and necessary, can be done without. The things that you see in the church, the people that are up front and presentable, are not the most essential part of the church. We have hidden parts of the body, the heart and soul and guts who keep us alive, prayer warriors who pray fervently for me and for the leadership of the church and for each individual member, people who wage spiritual warfare in their closets. And I don’t even know who you all are, but I thank God for you, and we could not go on in effective ministry as a church without you. We have those with the gift of generosity, and I don’t know who you all are, but you pay the bills and pick up the slack and continue to make ministry possible. There are those with the gift of helps, who come alongside others, who assist and encourage and share the burden behind the scenes. There are those who love numbers and use calculators and spreadsheets to balance checkbooks and pay the bills on time. There are those who fix toilets and vacuum carpets and straighten chairs hang drywall and dig ditches and take out the trash. There are those who visit sick people and make a meal and pray on the phone with a friend in need and just spend time with someone who is hurting. One day I will be dead and gone and I pray this church will find another shepherd who is obedient to Jesus, faithful to God’s word and loves God’s people, and you will go on in effective ministry. Some of the up front presentable parts are replaceable, but the things that go on in the guts of the ministry are indispensable.

Purpose of Unity; Mutual Care, Suffering, and Rejoicing

24 …But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

God gives and empowers the gifts, the Spirit apportions to each one individually as he chose, God composed the body in exactly the way he intended. God sovereignly, wisely composed the body so that the parts that were inferior, that come behind, lack, or are inferior receive superabundant honor. God’s purpose for mixing the members of the body together in this way is unity. That there be no division in the body. Paul started the letter by saying:

1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

The opposite of division is unity expressed mutual care. The word here is actually being worried or concerned about basic needs. Each member is to have the same care for one another. Philippians says:

Philippians 2:2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

The opposite of division is unity expressed in mutual suffering. If one member suffers, all suffer together. If on the way to the bathroom to put in your contact lenses in the morning, you smash your toe into the bed frame, you don’t stop and think to yourself, ‘that must have really hurt. I bet my little toe is hurting right now. I think I will come alongside that toe and try to bring comfort and encouragement. How can some of the other members of my body come alongside that toe and help to bear the burden it is suffering?’ No, you probably crumple to the floor writhing in pain clutching that toe. Your whole body has become one pulsating painful throbbing toe. Your whole body experiences the pain together with your toe. This is not something you should do, it is who you are. It is simply the natural result of being one interconnected body. When one part of the body suffers, all suffer together. If one part of the body is injured and the rest of the body feels no pain, something is very wrong with the body.

The opposite of division is unity expressed in mutual joy. If one member is honored, all rejoice together. If you run a race and win, your hand doesn’t go sit in the corner and pout, feeling jealous that the feet are getting so much honor and praise. The hand receives the high five and rejoices together with the success of the whole body.

Unity is expressed in mutual care, mutual suffering, mutual rejoicing. The opposite of division is not equality. The opposite of division is unity in the midst of inequality and diversity.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

September 28, 2014 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 11:2-16; Shame or honor

07/13 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Shame or Honor; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20140713_1cor11_2-16.mp3

 

1 Corinthians 11 [SBLGNT]

2 Ἐπαινῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς ὅτι πάντα μου μέμνησθε καὶ καθὼς παρέδωκα ὑμῖν τὰς παραδόσεις κατέχετε. 3 θέλω δὲ ὑμᾶς εἰδέναι ὅτι παντὸς ἀνδρὸς ἡ κεφαλὴ ὁ Χριστός ἐστιν, κεφαλὴ δὲ γυναικὸς ὁ ἀνήρ, κεφαλὴ δὲ τοῦ Χριστοῦ ὁ θεός. 4 πᾶς ἀνὴρ προσευχόμενος ἢ προφητεύων κατὰ κεφαλῆς ἔχων καταισχύνει τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ· 5 πᾶσα δὲ γυνὴ προσευχομένη ἢ προφητεύουσα ἀκατακαλύπτῳ τῇ κεφαλῇ καταισχύνει τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτῆς, ἓν γάρ ἐστιν καὶ τὸ αὐτὸ τῇ ἐξυρημένῃ. 6 εἰ γὰρ οὐ κατακαλύπτεται γυνή, καὶ κειράσθω· εἰ δὲ αἰσχρὸν γυναικὶ τὸ κείρασθαι ἢ ξυρᾶσθαι, κατακαλυπτέσθω. 7 ἀνὴρ μὲν γὰρ οὐκ ὀφείλει κατακαλύπτεσθαι τὴν κεφαλήν, εἰκὼν καὶ δόξα θεοῦ ὑπάρχων· ἡ γυνὴ δὲ δόξα ἀνδρός ἐστιν. 8 οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἀνὴρ ἐκ γυναικός, ἀλλὰ γυνὴ ἐξ ἀνδρός· 9 καὶ γὰρ οὐκ ἐκτίσθη ἀνὴρ διὰ τὴν γυναῖκα, ἀλλὰ γυνὴ διὰ τὸν ἄνδρα. 10 διὰ τοῦτο ὀφείλει ἡ γυνὴ ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς διὰ τοὺς ἀγγέλους. 11 πλὴν οὔτε γυνὴ χωρὶς ἀνδρὸς οὔτε ἀνὴρ χωρὶς γυναικὸς ἐν κυρίῳ· 12 ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ γυνὴ ἐκ τοῦ ἀνδρός, οὕτως καὶ ὁ ἀνὴρ διὰ τῆς γυναικός· τὰ δὲ πάντα ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ. 13 ἐν ὑμῖν αὐτοῖς κρίνατε· πρέπον ἐστὶν γυναῖκα ἀκατακάλυπτον τῷ θεῷ προσεύχεσθαι; 14 οὐδὲ ἡ φύσις αὐτὴ διδάσκει ὑμᾶς ὅτι ἀνὴρ μὲν ἐὰν κομᾷ, ἀτιμία αὐτῷ ἐστιν, 15 γυνὴ δὲ ἐὰν κομᾷ, δόξα αὐτῇ ἐστιν; ὅτι ἡ κόμη ἀντὶ περιβολαίου δέδοται. 16 εἰ δέ τις δοκεῖ φιλόνεικος εἶναι, ἡμεῖς τοιαύτην συνήθειαν οὐκ ἔχομεν, οὐδὲ αἱ ἐκκλησίαι τοῦ θεοῦ.

 

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 has been called by many the most difficult passage to interpret in all of the Bible. There are about as many different opinions on how it should be understood as there have been commentaries written. There is much debate about what was actually going on in the church in Corinth that Paul was writing to correct, on who specifically is being addressed, on what some of the key words and phrases even mean, on what the cultural and historical background really was, on how this all fits with other verses in 1 Corinthians and in the rest of the New Testament, and maybe most important, on how (or even if) we should apply it to life today. Several people have seen this passage coming in the text and asked me how I plan to handle it, including my own mom. This may be one of the texts Peter was referring to when he said of Paul’s writings:

2 Peter 3:16 …There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

So I think the best thing for us to do is avoid it and go on to the next passage. Skip forward to 11:17 and we will pick up there today. Passing over verses 2-16, we move on to 1 Corinthians 11 verse 17…

 

That was a test. We will study this passage, as difficult as it is, because I believe with all my heart that:

2 Timothy 3:15 … the sacred writings, …are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

All Scripture is profitable. The central issues of Christianity are unmistakably clear. Salvation is through faith in Christ Jesus alone. The good news that salvation comes to us by God’s undeserved grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone rings clear and loud throughout all of Scripture. Other issues, secondary issues, may be more obscure, but I believe they are still breathed out by God and profitable, so it is worth our while to carefully work through this passage. Some of the details we will have to hold loosely, as we simply can’t know for certain. I’m sure the original readers of this passage understood exactly what Paul intended to communicate. I wonder if some new discovery will shed light on the things that we find puzzling. But if we don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees, I believe there will be much here that is encouraging, edifying, and applicable even to us today.

So, by God’s grace and with his help, we will do our best to understand the text before us, to seek to learn what God would teach us through it eager to obey him, and to extend patience and grace to one another when we just see things a different way.

~pray~

1 Corinthians 11:2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

 

The Big Picture

It is essential that we see this passage as a connected section of the letter it is part of. To extract it out of its context and beat each other over the head with it would be to violate some of the very truths it is intended to convey.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul is addressing divisions in the church. The believers are quarreling, they are boasting, they are wise in their own eyes, they think they are spiritual, they are puffed up in favor of one against another. So Paul takes them back to the basic message of the gospel, the simple message of the cross, the foolish message of Christ crucified. He reminds them that everything; life, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption; everything is a gift from God. So if a believer boasts, his boast must only be in the Lord (1:30-31).

We have seen that chapters 8-10 form one unit dealing with idolatry. Now we will see that chapters 8-14 form a unit that deals with the central theme of worship. 8-10 deal with avoiding the false worship of idols, 11:2-16 deals with the way men and women ought to worship together in the church, 11:17-34 addresses the way rich and poor ought to worship together in the church, and chapters 12-14 deal with the role of the Holy Spirit and how spiritual gifts ought to be used in the worship of the church.

As we see the theme of worship throughout these chapters, we can also see some basic principles woven through these chapters. Paul begins in chapter 8 with the Christian principle of love, love for God and love that builds others up. He warns against self-centeredness that harms others by insisting on our own rights. As he sums up in 10:31-33, everything is to be done for the eternal good of others, so that God is glorified and others are benefited. 11:17-34 confronts their lack of love in the Lord’s supper, where they shamed the poor and honored the rich. Chapter 12 addresses their lack of love in the exercise of spiritual gifts, priding themselves in the more spectacular gifts, and shaming others as unnecessary parts of the body. He encourages them to have the same care for one another. In chapter 13, he invites them to rise to a more excellent way, the way of self sacrificial love. In chapter 14, he teaches that the way of love is for the good of others and the glory of God, and our gifts must be used so that believers are built up, unbelievers are saved, and God is honored. It is into this context of loving God and loving others, of glorifying God and seeking the good of others that Paul speaks to the issue of men and women in the church, how they can bring shame or glory to God, and how they can shame or honor one another.

Outline:

Seeing the structure of the passage will be helpful. David Garland in his commentary on 1 Corinthians (BECNT p.511) has detailed the chiastic pattern (or X shaped pattern), like a mirror with a central assertion and the parts on either side reflecting each other. We can start in the center and work out:

 

A. Commendation for maintaining traditions handed on by Paul; basic assertion that everyone has a head (11:2-3)

B. Shame about coverings for men and women (11:4-5)

C. Social impropriety for a woman to be uncovered; theological impropriety for a man to be covered (11:6-7)

D. Theological explanation from the creation account (11:8-9)

E. Central assertion: for this reason a woman ought

to have authority over her head (11:10)

‘D. Theological caveat from procreation (11:11-12)

‘C. Social impropriety for a woman to be uncovered (11:13)

‘B. Shame (and glory): lessons from nature about coverings for men

and women (11:14-15)

‘A. Admonition to conform to Paul’s customs and those of the churches of God (11:16)

 

The only imperative in the text (other than his exhortation to ‘judge for yourselves’ in 11:13) is found in 11:6 ‘let her cover her head’. What is at stake in this passage is honor or dishonor; shame or glory. And this finds expression in covering or uncovering the head. This is a cultural custom that is foreign to us. David Garland describes the cultural issue this way: “The head covering ‘is …worn in public to mark her off as a private person intent on guarding her purity, and so maintaining the honour of her husband and her father.’ …It communicates to others in public that the woman is demure, chaste, and modest, and that she intends to stay that way. …no male wanted his wife or a female in his charge to appear in public in a way that hints, intentionally or unintentionally, that the opposite might be true.” (BECNT, p.509-510).

Commendable

Paul starts off by praising the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 11:2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.

In verse 17, he will say ‘I do not commend you.; But here, he praises them for remembering him and holding on to his teachings. The ‘traditions’ would have been the teaching he delivered when he first came to Corinth to proclaim the gospel and plant the church. We now have his teaching expanded and clarified in the New Testament letters. He may have taught them something like what he wrote in Galatians 3.

Galatians 3:23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

He may have taught them something like what he will say in 2 Corinthians 3.

2 Corinthians 3:12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face… 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

In Christ Jesus there is no male or female. When one turns to the Lord the veil is removed. We all with unveiled faces are beholding the glory of the Lord. So throw off your head covering! We are free in Christ! There are no more gender distinctions!

Cultural Shame

Paul says ‘but’. But I want you to understand. You do not yet have the full picture.

3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

There are gender distinctions. There are differences in roles. There are legitimate authority structures in place. Even within the triune God. God, Christ, man, woman. This is huge, what he says here is foundational, and I want to come back to it next week to give it the time it deserves.

4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head,

The word ‘head’ is used with a double meaning. By inappropriately covering or uncovering the head, he or she brings shame on his or her own head, where ‘head’ stands for the person. By acting inappropriately you shame yourself. But ‘head’ also refers back to verse 3, where it says the head of man is Christ and the head of woman is man. There is evidence that at the time, men offering sacrifices to their pagan gods would perform the rituals with their heads covered. For a man to worship the true God with his head covered would bring shame to Christ, his head. There is a clear and essential difference between men and women. The very thing that is shameful for man is essential for woman. For a woman to worship uncovered in that culture would bring great shame on her husband or her father. It would be as shocking as if she showed up with a shaved head.

…since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.

It is a shame on herself and on her husband or father to be shaven. Paul argues that being uncovered is just as shameful, so ‘let her cover her head’.

An Issue of Glory

Paul gives here the theological reason why a man ought not to cover his head, but the woman ought to cover her head.

7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

Paul goes back to the order of creation in Genesis to defend this principle. Both man and woman were made in the image of God. But Eve was made by God from the side of Adam. She was to be his helper, a companion who corresponds to him, one who completes him. She was made from him and for him. And she is his glory. She is truly his better half.

Proverbs 12:4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.

She has the potential to bring shame or great glory to her husband. But in worship, the glory of God alone is to shine unrivaled, so it is inappropriate for woman, who is the glory of man, to be uncovered. All glory must go to God.

10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Literally this verse reads ‘on account of this the woman ought to have authority on [or over] her head’. It could be that authority stands for the symbol of authority, the head covering demonstrates that she is under authority, or it could mean that she has authority over her own head, that she has her head under control. She exercises control over her physical head so as not to expose herself or her head to indignity.

Puzzling is the cryptic phrase ‘because of the angels’. Angels who are also under authority, who keep their proper place, angels who cover their faces with one pair wings and their feet with another pair of wings in the presence of God, angels who are unseen guests wherever believers gather to worship, angels who are eager to learn about the salvation we enjoy? We don’t know exactly why the angels are mentioned here.

Nevertheless

11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.

Paul is careful to balance the equation. Woman is from man and for man in creation, but subsequent to creation, every man has been born of woman and dependent on woman. In the Lord woman is not independent of man, and man is not independent of woman. Different genders, distinct roles, but equal value, dignity, and worth. In Christ, there is neither male nor female; every individual must come to God through Jesus. All things are from God. Everyone is dependent on God. God is sovereign over man and woman. God is preeminent.

Paul now invites them to apply their own innate sense of what is proper to the situation.

13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

He has argued from the relationship between God and Christ, from the created order, from what brings honor and shame, and now he argues from their own culturally conditioned sense of what is appropriate, what is shameful, what brings honor. It is natural for men to appear masculine and women to appear feminine. It would be shameful for a woman to pray uncovered.

He concludes with a warning against an argumentative spirit, and an appeal to the common practice of all the churches.

16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

Application

So what do we do with this? We want to obey God and his word. Does this mean all the men need to cut their hair short and all the women need to grow their hair long and wear a head covering? Some churches do that. I think that would be the easy way around dealing with the real issue. As my mother so wisely said many years ago as my own church was wrestling with some of these issues ‘any problem that can be solved with a pair of scissors is not a very serious problem’. I could have my head shaved in half an hour and it wouldn’t change the state of my heart one little bit.

Where is my heart? What do I most want? Do I want to bring glory to God above all else, to bring honor to God and build up my brothers and sisters? Do I desperately want the lost to hear and believe the gospel and be saved? Or do I insist on my rights, my comfort, my convenience, my preference, my own benefit, even if it dishonors God and shames the people around me? Do I love God and love others and seek to build them up, or do I love self and seek to build myself up?

If my heart is right, if I truly love the glory of God in the gospel more than my own good, then what Paul is saying here is that externals are not irrelevant. Some seemingly trivial superficial things do matter. Is there something in my appearance, in my demeanor, in my attitude, in the way I carry myself, in the way I relate to others, that brings shame to Christ or to his followers, is there anything in me that hinders people from listening to the gospel? Then get rid of it! Cut it off and throw it away! Is there anything, even little things that I could do that would bring glory to God and build up his people? Are there ways I can identify with lost people so that I can bring them the gospel? Am I not seeking my own advantage but that of the many, that they may be saved? Am I doing everything, whether I eat or drink, or whatever I do, to the glory of God?

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

July 13, 2014 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 20:12; Word #5 – Honor

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110814_exodus20_12.mp3

08/14 Exodus 20:12 Word #5 Honor

We are studying God’s ten words to the people he redeemed from slavery in Egypt and bought to be his own. He is now giving them his house rules, what it looks like to be in relationship with him. He starts with himself, because everything is all about God. He introduces himself as the self-existent one, YHWH, who brought them out of slavery. His first four words of instruction are about our vertical relationship with our Creator and Redeemer. You shall have no other gods, I am to be worshiped exclusively. You shall not misrepresent me by using images in worship. You shall honor my name, my character, my reputation. You shall honor me with your time and set aside time to enjoy our relationship.

Now, in commandment five, there is a shift in focus from the vertical relationship with our God to our horizontal relationships with our fellow men. And it’s instructive to see where he starts. We might think he would start with the sanctity of life – you shall not murder. Or with the most basic unit of society, the marriage relationship – you shall not commit adultery. Or, he could start with being satisfied with God alone – you shall not covet. But instead he starts here:

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Honor God Alone or Honor Parents?

Honor father and mother. This is a surprising command, because he has just finished telling us that we are to honor, reverence, and worship God alone. And now he tells us to honor or reverence someone else, namely our parents. The Hebrew word translated ‘honor’ here is interesting. The same root word is used in Exodus 14 three times for God ‘getting glory’ over Pharaoh (v.4,17,18). The Hebrew word “Kabad”, translated honor or reverence or glory literally means ‘heavy’ or ‘weighty’. God is not to be taken lightly. He is substantial. He is to be treated, not with an ounce, but with tons of respect. We are to weigh what he says with great gravity. This word for honor or glory shows up in Psalm 22.

Psalm 22:23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

Fear him, praise him, honor or glorify him, stand in awe of him. That is how we are to respond to God. Now this is extended to human parents.

In fact, in Leviticus 19, this word for fear is extended toward mother and father:

Leviticus 19:3 Every one of you shall revere (AV fear) his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.

How is it that we are to reverence, fear, and honor God alone, and yet he extends this same reverence, fear, or respect to our parents? Isaiah (48:11) tells us that God will not give his glory to another, and yet he commands that we give glory or honor to our parents.

In Hebrews chapter 12, there is a parallel drawn between our earthly fathers, who discipline us, and to whom we owe respect, and God, who treats us as sons and disciplines us for our good. We are to honor our parents as an extension of God’s authority. The authority of parents is derived from God’s authority. Parents serve as a visible extension of God to us. Paul expands this general principle to all governing authorities in Romans 13. He says

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. …4 for he is God’s servant for your good. …he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. … 6 … for the authorities are ministers of God…

Parents receive their authority from God. They have been appointed by God, and they serve God in administering his authority. Paul concludes

Romans 13:7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

We owe a debt of honor to God and to our parents. We demonstrate that we honor God by honoring those he has placed in authority over us. To dishonor parents is to dishonor the one who gave them to us.

John asserts that we cannot disconnect how we treat people on the horizontal level from what we think of God on the vertical level.

1John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

So showing honor to parents whom God invested with authority is a tangible way of demonstrating that we truly honor God who is the ultimate authority.

Death Penalty for Dishonor

This is a serious issue. God takes honor of father and mother so seriously, that he established the death penalty for children who do not show honor to their parents.

Exodus 21:15 “Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.

Exodus 21:17 “Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.

Leviticus 20:7 Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. 8 Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 9 For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him.

The concrete expressions of dishonor worthy of death were striking parents or cursing parents; we might say talking back to parents. In Deuteronomy, there is a procedure given for how to handle a persistently stubborn, rebellious, disobedient son, who will not respond to discipline.

Deuteronomy 21:18 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

In the New Testament we find disobedience to parents showing up in some shocking catalogs of the worst of the worst.

Romans 1:28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

2 Timothy 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self–control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

It might be a shock to our modern ears to hear something as commonplace and tolerated as disobedience to parents listed alongside murder, ruthless, treacherous, abusive, inventors of evil, haters of God.

Why is this so serious? Why death under the old covenant for those who dishonor parents? This disregard for proper human authority demonstrates a disregard for the one who established that authority. We no longer execute disobedient children. But in Romans we are told that the wages of sin is death (6:23), and that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (3:23). We have all failed to give God the glory and honor that we owe to him. The consequences for this God-dishonoring attitude is spiritual death, or eternal separation from God.

What Does It Mean to Honor Parents?

One way we honor God is by honoring parents. Practically, what does this look like? Let’s take a look to the wisdom book of Proverbs to get some snapshots of what it looks like to honor mother and father.

Proverbs 1:8 Hear, my son, your father‘s instruction, and forsake not your mother‘s teaching,

Proverbs 6:20 My son, keep your father‘s commandment, and forsake not your mother‘s teaching.

Proverbs 10:1 A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.

Proverbs 15:20 A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother.

Proverbs 19:26 He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother is a son who brings shame and reproach.

Proverbs 20:20 If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.

Proverbs 23:22 Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Proverbs 23:25 Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.

Proverbs 28:24 Whoever robs his father or his mother and says, “That is no transgression,” is a companion to a man who destroys.

Proverbs 30:17 The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.

This is what honor looks like: listening to their instruction, not forsaking their teaching, not despising them, not stealing from them, not violent toward them, not cursing, mocking or scorning them, bringing joy and not sorrow to their hearts. We can add this to what Deuteronomy told us about not being stubborn, rebellious, disobedient, or unresponsive to discipline.

Jesus confronted the Pharisees of his day over their encouraging people to violate the fifth command.

Matthew 15:3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. (cf. Mark 7:10-13)

Jesus connects honor of parents directly to how an adult son cares for his elderly parents. The Pharisees allowed a son who wanted to get out of his responsibility to care for his parents to dedicate his assets to God. The primary social responsibility for the care of the elderly falls on their own family. This may have far reaching implications on our own personal finances. Paul even says:

1Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

(This, by the way, is a good argument for having a lot of kids – I want to be well cared for when I’m old!)

The Example of Jesus

We can learn more about what honoring our parents should look like by looking at how Jesus honored his Father.

John 8:49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.

Jesus, in his dispute with the Pharisees, described what it means to honor your father. Jesus said “if you knew me, you would know my Father also” (Jn.8:19). His character was such a perfect reflection of the character of the Father, that to know one was to know the other. Jesus said “I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me” (Jn.8:28). Jesus was in perfect submission to his Father’s authority. He was perfectly obedient to his Father, he listened to and learned from his Father. Even in his speech, he perfectly reflected the Father. He sums up his honor of the Father in this way: “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (Jn.8:29). On two different occasions, the Father attested to this verbally from heaven, saying: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt.3:17; 17:5). Jesus gave us the perfect picture of what it means to honor parents.

Jesus Lord of the Family

But Jesus also said some radical things to his followers about family relationships

Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter–in–law against her mother–in–law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Is Jesus teaching us to violate the fifth commandment? At first glance, it might seem so. But he was simply honoring the priority of God in all things. Where there is a conflict between obedience to God and obedience to parents, we must obey God rather than men. In commandment five, we are told that the child to parent relationship is second in honor only to the relationship of people to God. And Jesus, in saying that you cannot love father or mother more than me, in other words, you must honor me above father and mother, Jesus is blatantly claiming to be God! Jesus demands our allegiance above even family.

Practical Implications

Let’s try to tie this all together. What do we do with all this? First of all, we should keep first things first. We must honor God, we must honor Jesus above all human relationships, even family. He demands first place in everything.

We should follow Jesus’ example, to always do the things that are pleasing to the Father.

We as children must honor, reverence, respect our parents.

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

By extension, we must honor all those God has placed in positions of authority.

Parents, demand honor from your children. Discipline them lovingly, for their good. Do not tolerate disobedience or disrespect. Train them to respect authority. Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Teach them to honor the Lord and those he has placed in authority.

There might be a parent who says ‘but I’m not worthy of honor.’ That may be true, but this is bigger than you. God has given you authority, and he has entrusted your children into your care. In training them how to relate to you as a parent, you are teaching them about God. Do your job.

Parents, act in a manner worthy of honor and respect. If you want to be honored, have character that is honorable. Add to your faith; virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love (2Pet.1:5-7).

This honor or respect is foundational to life and society. Honoring our parents as God commanded is a way of glorifying God. 

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

August 14, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 2:6-10

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20081123_1peter_2_6-10.mp3

11/23 1 Peter 2:6-10 shame or honor; proclaiming the excellencies of Him

1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation–– 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

6 dioti periecei en grafh idou tiyhmi en siwn liyon eklekton akrogwniaion entimon kai o pisteuwn ep autw ou mh kataiscunyh 7 umin oun h timh toiv pisteuousin apistousin de liyov on apedokimasan oi oikodomountev outov egenhyh eiv kefalhn gwniav 8 kai liyov proskommatov kai petra skandalou oi proskoptousin tw logw apeiyountev eiv o kai eteyhsan 9 umeiv de genov eklekton basileion ierateuma eynov agion laov eiv peripoihsin opwv tav aretav exaggeilhte tou ek skotouv umav kalesantov eiv to yaumaston autou fwv 10 oi pote ou laov nun de laov yeou oi ouk hlehmenoi nun de elehyentev

It is God’s word in the preaching of the good news that brings about the new birth (1:23-25). So we are commanded to be like infants and crave pure spiritual milk so that we can grow to maturity (2:1-2). And having tasted that the Lord is good (2:3), we will come to Jesus and keep coming back to Jesus over and over and over again (2:4) to meet him in his word to receive sustenance and nourishment for our souls.

We come to Jesus as a life giving unshakable stone. But as we come to Jesus we see massive conflict. Peter knew this. Peter had been with Jesus as he taught and as hostility rose against him. On that awful night, Peter denied his Lord three times to avoid the consequences of being identified with Jesus. Now Peter was likely writing from a dungeon in Rome because of his unashamed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And Peter’s readers knew this. They were followers of Jesus who were scattered across Asia Minor, who had become exiles and foreigners in their own hometowns because of their newfound faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the watershed. Jesus said:

Luke 12:51-53 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother–in–law against her daughter–in–law and daughter–in–law against mother–in–law.”

John 15:18-20 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

The cross divides:

1 Corinthians 1:23-24 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Peter has looked at Jesus as a living stone and we as living stones built into a spiritual priesthood offering acceptable sacrifices to God. Peter is looking at Jesus as the foundation stone that God has established and that divides people. He begins by quoting Isaiah 28:14 which is a decree of destruction to the leaders of Israel for their disobedience and unbelief.

Isaiah 28:14-17 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem! 15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter”; 16 therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ 17 And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter.”

Jesus is the watershed, Jesus divides people. But Jesus is a stone laid by God the Father appointed and set by him as the cornerstone. He is elect or chosen by God and he is precious or honored in the sight of God. God gave Jesus honor by raising him from the dead. Jesus is a solid foundation to build your life on. Those that put their trust in him will never be shamed. If you are trusting in Jesus, you will not ultimately be disappointed. It may seem now that your persecutors are receiving honor and you are being shamed, but God has established Jesus as the cornerstone. Jesus defines and establishes the shape and direction of the building. Believers in Jesus have their feet on the rock that cannot be moved. Peter draws the application from the text that as the Father honors Jesus, so you who are depending on him will also be honored by the Father. This is in contrast to those who do not believe. Honor for those who believe in Jesus; shame for those who reject Jesus. In spite of their efforts to undermine and overthrow and marginalize Jesus, he has indeed become the cornerstone. Peter is quoting Psalm 118:22:

Psalm 118:22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23 This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

This appears in a Psalm that draws contrast between trusting in man and trusting in the Lord.

Psalm 118:5 Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free. 6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? 7 The LORD is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. 8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. 9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.

The original context of the Psalm is the return of the king to the temple in Jerusalem after God has given him victory over his enemies. The ‘builders’ were the foreign kings who assured their own destruction by fighting against Israel, God’s chosen. Peter follows Jesus in his application of this Psalm, not to the foreign nations, but to the Jewish leaders who in attempting to build God’s building have rejected the cornerstone. Let’s take a minute to look at Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees:

Matthew 21:31-45 (cf. Luke 20:9-19) … Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. 33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them.

Jesus is the divisive stone. Jesus is abrasive and offensive to his enemies. But Jesus will be victorious. Those who trust in Jesus will be victorious in the end. Those who reject Jesus will be ashamed. In verse 8 he quotes a phrase out of Isaiah 8:14. This passage is a warning to Israel and Judah to fear and trust the Lord rather than fearing other nations. Here’s some of the context:

Isaiah 8:9 Be broken, you peoples, and be shattered; give ear, all you far countries; strap on your armor and be shattered; strap on your armor and be shattered. 10 Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us. 11 For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the LORD of hosts, him you shall regard as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”

God set Jesus as cornerstone to do two things. For those who are willing to stake their life on him as foundation, he is solid and reliable and will bring them honor. To those who choose to fight against him and reject him as foundation, he becomes to them a stone of stumbling and rock of offense. And Peter’s commentary on these passages is ‘They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do’. The word for ‘stumble’ can mean a violent beating against something. The cause of their stumbling is their disobedience to the word. Disobedience is synonymous with unbelief;

1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

1 Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

‘The word’ is synonymous with the good news message:

1 Peter 1:25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

So they stumble over Jesus because they refuse to embrace the good news message. The question that Peter addresses here is ‘doesn’t their unbelief frustrate the purpose of God?’ God’s word is the indestructible life giving seed as he said in:

1:23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

If the imperishable good news word of the Lord that remains forever and accomplishes its purpose becomes something that people stumble over, doesn’t that nullify its life giving purpose? Peter’s answer is ‘no, they were destined to be disobedient to the word and stumble.’ God’s purpose is fulfilled even in those that reject him. It is an encouragement to believers who are suffering at the hands of unbelievers to know that what is happening to them is not beyond the control of their sovereign God. Just as the unbelief and rejection of Christ by the Jewish leaders who had Jesus crucified served the purpose of God by inadvertently accomplishing what God had set out to do (Acts 4:27-28); in the same way, the unbelievers who are grieving Peter’s readers with various trials (1:6) are serving the purpose of God in testing the genuineness of their faith (1:7). Peter contrasts their destiny with your destiny:

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

In contrast, you are an elect race – chosen – descendants of a common ancestor, people with a common heritage, sharing the unity of a common life. Because of the new birth this chosen race transcends the natural distinctions of ethnicity, language and culture. Peter draws his language from Isaiah 43:20:

Isaiah 43:15 I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.” …19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?… 20… for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, 21 the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.

He calls us ‘a royal priesthood.’ Jesus, our foundation stone, is both King of kings and our great High Priest. Being built on him, we are a royal priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices to God, and we will reign with him. This and the next description come from Exodus 19:6.

Exodus 19:4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

We are a holy nation. We are a community of people held together by the same laws, customs, and mutual interests. Holiness is our distinctive characteristic. We are a people set apart for the Lord.

And we are ‘a people for his own possession’. God ransomed us (1:18); he owns us and he delights in us. This language comes from Isaiah 43:21, Exodus 19:5 and Malachi 3:17.

Malachi 3:16…those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. 17 “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

And now he gives our ultimate purpose, our reason for existing as his possession; his elect race; his holy nation; his royal priesthood; it is

9 … that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

We are called to proclaim his excellencies! God who spoke into the darkness and said ‘let light be’ has called us effectually out of darkness and into his marvelous light. Now that we are in the light, our eyes are opened to see the glorious grandeur of his nature and character. (1Cor.4:4-6) Our purpose is proclamation. The subject of our proclamation is God – the excellencies of his being. God is great – make it known! And in the middle of our great high calling, verse 10 calls us to an appropriate humility. Peter reminds us that it is all of grace. We were in darkness and would have remained in darkness had it not been for the great mercy of God. He reminds us with the picture of Hosea, and the unfaithful wife that the forgiving and faithful husband won back and made his own:

Hosea 2:19-23 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD. …23… And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.”’

We were people with no identity; God made us his own people. We were rightly subject to the wrath of God and had no claim on his mercy, and he who is rich in mercy poured out mercy in abundance on our heads! Let us in humility as recipients of God’s great mercy proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light!

November 23, 2008 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment