Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Sermon Addendum for June 26 2023

 This week’s sermon was a bit shortened because we also had the reminder and rehearsal of God’s work as we celebrated the Lord’s Supper. So, today we will have a brief thought or two about both parts of Sunday’s proclamation.

The first: I drew the sermon out of Isaiah 55. Since it was a “one-off” sermon, not really starting a series or continuing one in Isaiah, I did not do any background on the authorship or context of Isaiah. Also, the background on Isaiah takes a bit of time, which was another reason not to broach it on a Sunday morning. Isaiah has complications and I’m not even going there here and now.

The main part I want to highlight is that Isaiah 55 comes from the latter part of Isaiah, which has a markedly different tone than the earlier parts. Isaiah 6, for all its glory as the “call of Isaiah,” still has a very bleak feel. As one gets into the back parts of the book, however, Isaiah speaks more and more of restoration for the righteous. Especially for those who repent and seek that restoration. Isaiah 55 is no exception to this: there is a call-out that one should seek God while He may be found. 

From this, we should not take that there are times where God is missing or absent. Rather, see the idea as God declaring there will be a time when access is closed. The general idea is that God will, at some point, be present to execute judgment and seeking His mercy should be a priority.

I think there is something applicable here for the church: we want people to seek God’s mercy. That may require a modicum of expounding upon impending judgment, but the primary thing we long for people to do is find mercy. So let us proclaim His mercy.

The other time of our service was directed to the observation of the Lord’s Supper. Now, whole books are written about the theology of the Lord’s Supper, proper ways to observe the Eucharist, relevant paths to celebrate Communion—all of which weigh on the subject matter. 

You don’t need to stare at this screen long enough to sort through those. Instead, I would encourage you to focus on a couple of salient points:

1. I do not think we capture the meaning of the Lord’s Supper right when it’s a tagged-on ending to a service nor when we just sit in straight rows and our participation is simply to wait until we’re handed a disposable cup and a styrofoam-tasting wafer. There is a participation that we’re missing when we treat Holy Communion like getting a hot dog from a vendor at the ballpark.

2. The reminder that we are responsible for the sacrifice of Jesus—it is for us that His body was torn, that His blood was poured out—goes alongside the reminder that we are also the beneficiaries of that same sacrifice. One does not need to theologize this into weird pretzels. One can simply be very grateful, humbled, honored, and encouraged all at the same time.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Sermon Recap for June 25

 Because of unsafe road and weather conditions, we did not have services on June 18, 2023. So, here is the sermon from June 25!

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Sermon Addendum for June 12: More on Genesis 6

 June 12th’s sermon was on Genesis 6, which meant we took a speed past Genesis 5. I also did not delve too deeply into the background questions of identity for the “sons of God” and “daughters of men” or the Nephilim. Except to point out that the Nephilim were *not* rock monsters. Sorry Russell Crowe.

Now, one reason to have left these issues aside is that they are not settled and definite issues. That is, there are debates among people who take the Bible seriously about what is really going on with the best way to translate and understand what we find in the text.

As an aside: you will find two basic groups of Biblical scholars: those who take the task of Biblical scholarship seriously and those who do not. Those who do not may not take the Bible part seriously—doubting that the Bible has any divine advantage in its existence—or they may not take the scholarship part seriously—never really studying or asking questions, just buying into the easiest understanding they can find. Those who take Biblical scholarship seriously do so by recognizing the Bible is God’s word to humanity and doing the work to understand what is present there. Those folks occasionally come to different conclusions, and that’s when I have learned to be less agitated about which conclusion a preacher has come to.

So, let’s take the first question: “sons of God” and “daughters of men.” The LES Septuagint cuts straight through it and takes “sons of God” as angels and “daughters of men” to be any human females. The other major view is that “sons of God” refers to the God-honoring offspring of Seth and the “daughters of men” refers to the less worshipful offspring of Cain, taking the idea that the two lines of descent had been separated between those who follow the LORD and those who did not. Then, the two lines mingled, and all of mankind turned to wickedness.

Now, which is the better one? In favor of the former view, the phrase “sons of God” only occurs elsewhere in the Old Testament in reference to angelic beings. In favor of the latter view, there is no indication anywhere else in the text of Scripture that it is possible for angelic beings to procreate with human beings—and the one passage that might touch on the idea would be understood to be against it. (Matthew 22:30)

These arguments then go on in a loop, with proponents of each view assuring you that the loop stops with them. This is why I did not bother with it in the sermon: there are scholars of both conclusions I respect. And the end result is irrelevant to the Christian life: God promises at the end of the Flood narrative not to destroy the world that way again, and I doubt any of us would show more love, joy, faith, or patience because that might be angel next door than we will because we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. If you would do more for an angel than you would for God…there’s a problem.

Now, on to the Nephilim: how you take the Nephilim may depend slightly on how you resolve the earlier dilemma: some who hold to the angelic beings mingled with human beings will say the Nephilim are the offspring of that union. I’d note you still have to deal with v. 4’s “and also after this” if you take this view: after what? The Flood? Nobody is supposed to make it there that is not on the boat.

The other way to take the Nephilim is the idea of “mighty ones,” that the point Moses is making is to anchor some of the legends of “old times” into the era around the Flood. This is my preferred understanding, but I have not studied it well enough to make a solid statement. 

And again—how does resolving this impact the life of a believer? It really does not. You can love your neighbor as yourself without worrying whether he’s a Nephilim. It won’t matter. So you can have a good discussion over it, you can ask questions, you can leave it open…some issues are just not going to finalize, and being okay with that is good.

When I hit matters like this, I try to leave them out of the sermon, usually striving to focus on what we *do* know, and then what we follow that up with in action.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Sermon Recap for June 11 2023

 Good morning! Here are the digital forms of the sermon from yesterday.

Here is what you’ll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You’ll also find the embedded YouTube videos of each sermon.
If you’d like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/DougHibbardPodcast
Audible Link is coming soon! Search "Doug Hibbard" to see if it's there yet
The video is linked on my personal YouTube Page here: https://www.youtube.com/user/dheagle93
Sermons are stockpiled here: http://www.doughibbard.com/search/label/Sermons

We are in Genesis, and I did not spend all day trying to prove the Flood or anything of that sort. Honestly, if you are looking for those proofs, the Sunday morning sermon of a church is not the time to find them. That's for Bible study times or (at our church!) a great question to ask on a Wednesday night. Or a question I'm glad to talk about one-on-one or in a small group. Because I think those answers are important, but trying to provide them on Sunday morning can get a bit laborious for folks who don't really want to go there. And the sermon is usually intended to be more motivational and inspirational than it is informational. 

That's actually one of the things I've long had to work on: I'd be glad to do informational for days on end. But eventually the congregation needs to go home :)

All that to say, feel free to bring the questions. I am a fan of honest questions being dealt with as plainly as we can. God is not afraid of you and your questions.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Sermon Recap for June 4

 Good evening! Running late this week with civic responsibilities...here's the sermon recap from Sunday, June 4th!

Sermon Recap for July 14 2024

 Good morning! After being at Praiseworks Arkansas last week, I'm back.  Here is yesterday's sermon, where I am proud of myself for ...