Sermons from July 24
Here are the links and info for this Sunday's Sermons. There's more text for the evening message. Someday, I'll consistently write the same amount per sermon. Not any time soon, but someday I'll take a class and learn how to preach
A Biblical Response to Evil: Genesis 9:5-7
A few quick observations:
1. The "eating of meat" announcement: God decrees that man can eat any animal, as long as he drains the blood. At this point, there is no distinction between clean and unclean animals. Those distinctions come only later with the Law
2. The "vineyard" incident: Noah's drunkenness is a sin: losing control causes disobedience and is, in fact disobedience. However, the sinfulness of Noah does not excuse Ham and leads to the cursing of Canaan. ~~Side note: there is no Biblical or historical warrant to identify Canaan as the ancestor of any modern ethnic group. This section was used to justify slavery in the American South and that was just plain wrong.~~
4. Sin does not justify sin....
This leads to the key point in this chapter: Genesis 9:5-7 and the prohibition of the shedding of man's blood. Why is this key?
Let's consider where Noah, Mrs. Noah, Ham, Shem, and Japheth and their wives are and what they've been through: the Flood. An event that leads to its own terms of history: antediluvian (meaning before the Deluge or Flood)---Cataclysm, and so forth. The Flood is an event that even secular science acknowledges has a basis in fact.
And these 8 people know why it happened: God ended the lives of sinners in judgment for their sin. Can you picture the discussions around the campfire? the conversational commitment to set up a world where this never happens again: better that one man die than the whole bunch, right? Let's execute those who cross the line.
Yet God immediately limits that. He highlights to Noah and family that God will require an account for the blood of men. It is not for man to vow his own revenge or to take his own proactive steps to prevent sin.
God will address it.
Now, this verse does allow for the execution of murderers, but note this: it is not given as a command: Thou shalt execute the murderer. It's given as a warning: if you take life, you will lose life. This is not an instruction to be copied.
God is limiting the actions of people to destroy the sin they see in others. There is to be a very limited use of the shedding of blood rather than a free-for-all of execution.
What hath this Genesis to do with Almyra? These points:
1. In the broader world: violence is not now, nor has it ever been, the answer to gaining followers of Christ and worshipers of the One True God. Not only overt violence but coercion is wrong. Our only weapon in the world is the Word of God, to speak the truth of the love of the Savior.
2. In our own lives: vengeance is not ours. It belongs to God. (Romans 12:19) This includes our carrying anger and murdering in our hearts (Matthew 5:21-22). When we have been wronged it is for us to leave vengeance in the hand of God. Not to fail to hold accountable----but not to exceed reasonable justice.
3. In our own actions: we will see people sin. We will see people who are taking actions that we know bring God's judgment. And we can tell that some of those actions will result in God's judgment not only on them but on the greater population. It is not for us to resort to violence to stop them. End of discussion. We may speak, preach, persuade----but it is not for us to attempt violence to prevent judgment.
This is an entirely different matter than using violence to prevent violence or immediate, evident harm---this past week, had you been in California or in Norway at either of the shootings, to take arms and stop a violent man is different and other Scripture supports the idea.
However, to see sin and think the answer is to resort to violence is to invite judgment on ourselves. The ultimate violence due to sin was the Cross, where the violence owed all of us was visited upon Christ Jesus.
God establishes this idea as a command----then He gives a hope to sit behind it:
3. The "rainbow" promise: Not to fully destroy humanity again. While the qualification "through a flood" seems relevant, the further understanding here is that all humanity will not suffer judgment again: the redeemed will not. However, the redeemed need not fear the actions of fallen humanity bringing their world to an end, for God has promised that no matter how sinful, never will the flood come again.
It remains for us that we ought not take the urge to revenge ourselves or to spread the Kingdom of God by force. The driving force of the kingdom is not you or I anyway. The driving force was given by a hammer on 3 nails at Golgotha. The driving force was the Love that Christ showed, that God displayed for us. When we accept that love and spread it, share it, proclaim the truth of it, we are in a better situation.