Cherish Human Life

Exodus 20:13

Live in a land where large numbers of people have thoroughly mixed-up view of life and death – if stakes were not so high, absence of rationality would be laughable. Capital punishment is wrong but abortion and assisted suicide are rights to be defended. Move heaven and earth to save a beached whale and ignore the orphans in the neighborhood. Celebrate and affirm culture of death while denying loved one has died. Cherish life so little people of all ages choose to end their own. Could give examples of upside down thinking about sixth commandment for days… because is an issue that influences every part of human existence.

Start by saying: default setting too often wrong… in our (hear American) way of thinking. Comes from having wrong starting point, asking wrong questions. If want my thoughts on how that all came about, ask me later. Couple particulars for illustration:

“Stand your ground” – my castle, my personal space, my rights… do whatever it takes to protect / preserve my domain at any cost, even if it costs someone his life – he’s on his own if he tries anything

notice starting point: I have responsibility and authority to use whatever means necessary including lethal force to control my personal environment

my question to a church is this: “If one of those crazies comes to your church, what are you going to defend yourself with, an offering plate?” For the Church and the church-goer, it becomes foundational to see what the Bible says on the subject. Central to understanding what approach a church should take is the basic nature of man as revealed in Scripture.” from Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, Inc.

no… central to understanding what approach we should take is the basic character of God as revealed in Scripture – is where the Bible starts, where Commandments start, where God’s word ends

Same rationale applies to tragedy in Parkland, FL. Very likely former student had little or no understanding of God, his character and expectations. If like average 19 year old today, not required to honor parents, not taught respect for authority. Meanwhile, the push is on to react to symptoms, at same time ignoring or dismissing the only solution. Even what we have before us in our text not the solution for fallen sin-corrupted mankind – gives us God’s standard that makes clear our profound need… for Savior, who gives new heart so pleasing God will become way of life.

Is a biblical way to approach interaction with our neighbor. Remember – commandments 5 through 10 summarized by Lev. 19:18 “you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” Repeated by Jesus when answered lawyer’s question “what is the greatest commandment (Matt. 22:36ff). Much debate, even dispute… in the church too, about application of this command. Will consider what the command does not mean; then what it does mean; followed by why God included it, then how we can best keep it. Will not cover all exhaustively, rather lay foundation and some of structure, then add to it from later portions of Exodus.

A. what it is not

not prohibition of all kinds of killing

this command given to a people accustomed to killing animals as non-negotiable act of worship… and that practice continued

was specific decree of God that permitted eating of meat: Gen. 9:3 “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.”

that practice continued… with regulations – both sacrifice and sustenance basic elements of first annual feast observed as a people: Passover

not even mandate against any loss of human life

It does not forbid killing in lawful war, or in our own necessary defence, nor the magistrate’s putting offenders to death” Henry

had prevailed over Amalekites by God’s enabling and with his sanction – was in part defensive, also retribution for sniper attacks on tired / weak stragglers (Deut. 25:17-19)

acts of war, self-defense, capital punishment carried out by civil authority all topics God has something to say about

not restricted to what we think of as life or death issues

God’s actual statement very narrow, but he did not intend narrow application – Lord Jesus broadened out considerably (Matt. 5:21ff), applies to anger management

same true for later commentary in Pentateuch: Deut. 19-21 covers things like who eligible for military service, matters of inheritance, treatment of war captives

B. what it is

an affirmation of life

key point God makes with this command: human life has value and significance for simple reason of what it is… human life

since it affirms life, also gives basis / starting place for decisions and actions that relate to life issues – means all human beings have basic right to life

are things that can rightfully have impact / effect on that right, but this the position must begin from

prohibition against unlawful taking of human life

term used with only 1 exc. (Prov. 22:13) refers to taking of human life by another human – manslaughter, premeditated murder (Num. 35:27, 30), contract killing (2 Ki. 6:32)

forbids unlawful taking of life – lawful taking of human life prescribed and regulated by God in same Numbers passage, elswhere

applies to more than confrontation – 1 John 3:15

apostle John equates hating someone with murder – why? in part, hatred prevents doing what is necessary to promote life

withholding what promotes life is opposite of loving neighbor – ultimate display of love that of giving own life so neighbor / brother may have life

C. why God included it

image-bearers – Gen. 1:27

mankind made in image of God, still bears image even though profoundly distorted – is that image that distinguishes human life from all other life

assault on image of God something He takes very seriously, might say personally (Gen. 9:6) – no surprise given lengths God went to in order to restore broken image in his children

God the source of life – Gen. 2:7

mankind not only unique because of image, received life in unique way – all other things created as living beings, God breathed life into man after his creation

to be no question whatever… human life a gift of God, apart from sin would never have been taken away; now to be taken only on God’s terms – he gave it, he has right to regulate how / when is taken

basic condition: human life to be taken only when right to keep it has been forfeited… by sin against God, and maybe other person – e.g. breaking sabbath, dishonoring parents

God committed to life – 1 Cor. 15:45; John 10:10

Adam brought death sentence on himself, all of his progeny – even at time of formal sentencing, God graciously declared intention to restore life… at incredible cost… life of his own Son

if God is committed to giving abundant life through faith in Christ, expects people to be committed to preserving life

is good gift from God, should treat it that way in self and others – cherishing life should be default, taking it only last resort when sanctioned by one who gave it

D. how to keep it

promote life – Rom. 12:17-21

don’t put someone’s life, their well-being in danger – by words, by deeds, by neglect – iow, actively do what will be for their good as God provides opportunity and resources

if you know / observe someone’s life is at risk, do all you can to protect from harm, prevent harm if possible and preserve life – Parkland, FL

same considerations apply to groups… municipalities, corporations, etc. – should be engaged in activities that promote life using practices / policies that are life-affirming

Christian should to extent possible not work for entities that knowingly do harm, should not buy their products – support with your time, talent, treasure what is consistent with biblical principles

concern for spiritual life – James 5:19-20

in striving to please God in practical ways, keep spiritual matters in view also – physical life and its quality are important, soul even more important

spiritual life what Son of God gave his life to purchase – why James makes such a strong point about importance of evangelism

“he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death” – give the cup of cold water, garnish it with the Gospel shared out of Gospel-centered life

approach life issues as God does

some of these get complicated because of where we live – wherever God has spoken clearly, we must follow… trust him for wisdom about the rest

God instituted capital punishment, entrusting administration to sinners – use because he said so, not practical considerations

what about medical considerations – just because have tech, can do something does not mean we should – let your conscience be your guide when is informed by word of God and submissive to his guiding

holds at beginning of life, middle of life, end of life – biblical principles come first, practical utilitarian concerns later

how can I do what is pleasing to God, encourage and enable others to do the same, while nurturing and cherishing life God has given, until he chooses to take it away

We have life because Creator God gave to us. We bear his image as does every other human being, however nice or despicable. We have promise of eternal life because Lord Jesus gave his life for ours. Debtors to his grace, yet possessing greatest treasure known to man – eternal future secure in God’s very presence. May we use life he has graciously given for his glory, the good of one another and those around us.

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18. How many loaves do you have?

18. How many loaves do you have?

Matthew 15:34 Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?”And they said, “Seven, and a few little fish.”

Read: Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-10

Setting: a mountainside, eastern shore Sea of Galilee, great multitudes with sick and disabled

had tried to withdraw from public view after confrontation w/Pharisees and scribes – Matt. 15:21; Mark 7:24 – interaction w/Syrophoenician, healed her daughter

left Tyre/Sidon, circled around perhaps thru Caesarea Philippi (Golan Heights area), passed thru northern portion of Decapolis – Mark 7:31 – along sea of Galilee, then up on the hillside – Matt. 15:29

60 mi. to Tyre, 60-75 back through Decapolis – at least 1 week travel time, perhaps longer total duration – rate of travel, # of stops, time spent in ministry

perhaps a “mixed” multitude – disagreement among scholars – Matt. 15:31, “they glorified the God of Israel” – only time in NT phrase used that way

could be Matthew’s subtle way: multitude included non-practicing Jews, possibly Gentiles – high percentage of people influenced by Greco-Roman culture, perhaps worship style/practices also

Person(s) being questioned:

Jesus summoned disciples (15:32; 8:1), probably most if not all of the twelve, had been with him since he went north (15:23)

neither account identifies particular individual questioned or who responded – just “the disciples”, “His disciples”, “they”, “them”

Jesus declares his heart, sets up a ministry “problem”, unstated challenge to them: “solve it!” – had been watching/listening/assisting Master on short term missions trip, what had they learned

they understand Jesus’ intention, respond with question that is really a statement: have no idea how to solve dilemma – need is so big, cannot imagine a solution

this one overwhelming because of size and circumstances; nothing inherently preventing human solution… unlike “the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others”

Question behind the question:

often the way with Jesus, both practical and spiritual elements

What are you prepared to contribute? — more than question about inventory, addresses attitude as well

Haven’t we had this conversation before?

Aren’t you ready to exercise your faith?

Expected response:

the one they gave… plus – here, if you bless them, it will be enough; or… this is all we have, will you help us out… again

don’t be too hard on them, they were learning as they went along – we have complete record, incl. commentary: John 2:18-22

had no good reason by this time to doubt Jesus’ ability to meet need – in fact, quite the opposite… he had done so, on even larger scale, recently

Jesus then went on to demonstrate power and authority over demons, physical/mental afflictions, w/i borders of Israel and outside

Jesus’ point:

you recognize the ministry opportunity, you have some resources – devote what you have to begin meeting the need

had adequate foundation to go beyond limits of physical sight – didn’t need to stay stuck with only what human reason could figure out and achieve

need to be walking more by faith and less by sight – see 2 Cor. 5:7

remember: if God could make all things from nothing…. Heb 11:1-3 what could he do with 7 loaves and some fish

pray like it depends 100% on God, work like it depends 100% on you

Modern Application:

we have same tendencies as disciples – too often see greatness of the task / need and not the greatness of God

since our little bit cannot solve entire need, tempted to not start or try – when you come to fork in the road, take it

should be willing to devote what we have to ministry need, trust God to fill up the rest, have confidence he will do so

 

Prayer Time

Micah 7:14-20

Continuing theme of trusting in God for deliverance, Micah prays and hears an answer. Good to be reminded how prayer to true God can build confidence, confidence in true God encourages us to pray. Like other prophets, much of Micah’s message confrontational – didn’t shy away from calling sinful behavior what it is, rebellion against God and displeasing / offensive to him. Unlike so much of what takes place today – Micah condemned behavior, not the people. He clearly warned them of certain condemnation from God if persisted in sinful rebellion. At same time didn’t write them off – closes his prophetic ministry with Gospel: forgiveness and mercy and compassion.

Is also important that Micah’s prayer for help just as public as message of rebuke. This the sort of example all prophetic types should follow and set. Are those who take on role of calling out different groups – homosexuals, Muslims, abortionists – making sure as many as possible know how sinful their behavior is. But are they as loud and public to pray and proclaim Gospel truth? Applies to all God’s people regardless of specific circumstances, size of audience.

Micah cries out to God for help, he hears brief but powerful response, then applies that response to his audience.

A. shepherd your people v.14

guide them

in spite of appearances, was confident God still had a people – not same arrogant assumption spiritual leaders had made

their confidence based on biology, Micah’s based on theology – heritage of Abraham/Isaac/Jacob vs. heritage of God

does not take it for granted that God will shepherd his flock – prays specifically that God would do so… as good pastor (under-shepherd) should, not only in times of crisis

regular part of shepherd’s job involved travel – if sheep left in one place too long, will over-graze and kill the grass

shepherd leads sheep from place to place, using staff as walking stick to provide added stability on uneven ground

flock needs confident shepherd to follow – uncertainty easily transmitted to sheep, will make them reluctant to trust shepherd

protect them

rod can be for punishment or discipline – Prov. 13:24He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”

in this context, shepherd would use rod to defend flock – 1 Sam. 17:34-35 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock,I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.”

God’s people, the flock that belongs to him, can depend on God to defend against enemies – he works through his servants

even though human agents involved, is God’s power at work, his wisdom and direction we must depend on

shouldn’t simply expect God to protect – enemies getting in lick or two may be God’s way of reminding us to ask him

pasture them

feed them, let them graze – provide rich and safe pasturage: Ps. 23:2He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.”

not wrong to desire safety, nourishment, contentment – can ask for it for ourselves, for others, God will provide wisely

need to be sure we’re in the right pasture, not wandering off to what looks greener

should request confidently – “as in the old days” – God has taken good care of his heritage before, no call to doubt now

did not expect his flock / people to fend for themselves in previous generations, hasn’t changed – we’re still sheep

B. show them wonders v.15-17

God answers, brief and to the point – “remember the Exodus” – not much more explicit, little by way of detail yet powerful

700 years later much has changed… and much still the same – God’s people no more able to provide for own needs

and… God still fully committed to keeping his covenant, faithful as always, moving toward same eternal purpose

God’s goal of Exodus to redeem his people from bondage, not destroy them – same goal in Micah’s day… and today

those who reject God and his ways will: be ashamed

come to understand when God displays his power they’re not such a big deal – remember how one by one God dethroned all of Egypt’s gods, including Pharaoh

Pharaoh’s army no match for God’s power – not just defeated, completely destroyed – many generations later before threatened God’s people again

continued with Amalekites, other enemies during wilderness wandering, then those in and around Promised Land

so long as God’s people sought to obey and looked to him to supply needs, no enemy could prevail against them

would hold true throughout time both Israel and Judah in exile – might be POWs but would ultimately return to land

and… those God used to discipline his people would have their own turn to experience heat of God’s wrath

be silenced

even rebellious sinners bright enough to figure out it’s safer to be quiet – less risk of further humiliation… and maybe “problem” will just go away

some might be like Job when God put him in the dock: what about this, where were you then, can you answer….

Job: “I’d heard about you, now I’ve seen you; I repent in dust and ashes” – rightly overwhelmed by God’s greatness

most stick fingers in ears, pretend they can’t hear God – want to go on as before, actively resisting any kind of change

good example – Belshazzar, century and half in future: showed utter contempt for true God… demonstrated by use of sacred vessels from Jerusalem temple at his party

God’s finger writing on wall made his knees knock… but didn’t change his course – lost kingdom and life that night

be humbled

talk about being lower than a snake’s belly, can’t go any lower – Nebuchadnezzar came close to that after making himself object of worship

kingdom taken away, banished to live like animal, possibly for seven years so he and his subjects would know God rules

does not necessarily bring about permanent change of heart, does cause true God to receive glory and is ultimately for good of his people

keep in mind: God is longsuffering… does not respond to insults / abuse immediately – does not mean he never responds

humbling of enemies of God and his people may take place in this life – seems more common when whole nations are in rebellion against true God, persecute his people

rattle off succession of empires: Assyrian, Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, Roman – forget took place over several hundred years in Europe, Asia, Africa

each a part of God’s plan A for mankind – none have prevailed / endured because none submitted to God’s authority

be afraid

reputation went before children of Israel – Josh. 2:9-11 – heard about what Israel’s God had done and were terrified

lost people / nations may strut through life but are inwardly in constant fear – Prov. 28:1The wicked flee when no one pursues…

all without exception will eventually fear God – either fear / reverence or fear / dread; occurred after exile also

probably number of factors that motivated Sanballat et al, fear certainly a big one – what would mean for them that God present and active among his people

should keep in mind: people get unpredictable, even violent in presence of fear; enemies may be fearful, we need not be

C. shower with blessings v.18-20

play on words here: Michaia short form of Michayahu – “who is like YHWH” – “who is a God like you?”… obvious answer…

pardoning iniquity

here’s one of the ways: God graciously dealing with sinfulness of people strong theme and especially needed now

hopelessness fueled by guilt, weight of sin, not knowing how to deal with it – psycho… have no tools, only God can pardon

delighting in mercy

and another: gods of the world delight in all sorts of other things – God delights in showing mercy, steadfast love

is only a big deal when there is reason why God might not show love – yet God lovingly made way to justly address sin

showing compassion

has showed compassion in past, will continue – see it most profoundly in what God does for his people that they could not do for themselves – himself paid penalty for sin so he could pardon, show mercy and compassion

what other God would even think of that, much less be inclined to do it? none so far in human history

subduing iniquity

another way God helps his people – treading down their sins and sinfulness – not allowing even redeemed people be as sinful as would otherwise be

also graciously subdues the effects our own sinfulness has on others, actively limits damage – no excuse for us!

removes sin

doesn’t just paper over it, ignore it… takes it away – and… put it on only one who could pay penalty… and he did

is how God can justly treat us our sin now as if our sin never happened – guilt has been removed, debt paid in full

continuing faithful

remember how God responded to Micah? remember the Exodus – that occurred because God remembered covenant promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob

Micah confident that just as God showed loyal love to the fathers by delivering the children, that same loyal love and faithfulness will continue to Israel’s true children

and down through generations to Israel’s true children today, as distributed by Christ who inherited all promised blessings

If we are to experience those promised blessings, must be faithful to do our part in dependence on Christ – follow the shepherd, listen to his voice, obey his instruction, depend fully on him to guide and provide.

Honoring Authority in the Home

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Remember what YHWH told Moses to say to Pharaoh – “Thus says the LORD: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.” “Let My people go, that they may worship Me.” Essential part of worship – giving praise and glory to true God for who he is, what he has done. Not something we can do while multi-tasking, not a spectator event. Worship that is pleasing to God involves whole person – intellect, emotion, body – expressing loyal devotion to one true God. Is to continue through rest of week – Rom. 12:1

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Our response to God delivering us from slavery in sin: living sacrifice – dying to self, alive to God, expressing love for the God who saved us in all we do. Mind and feelings should be working together for glory of God. Tendency to be like pendulum, spending most of time on one side or the other – religion only of the mind tends to be sterile, cold, hyper-critical. Religion governed by feelings often drifts away into serious error. We need both mind and emotions fully engaged with God’s truth, “the words which I command you today”, in the driver’s seat.

Important preliminary instruction: readDeut. 4:9-10

A. right relationship

take heed to yourself (4:9a)

pay attention – figure laws about distracted driving are necessary, what about distracted living: too much life done w/o thought

shouldn’t second guess to point of indecision, but… is wise regularly to evaluate: what, is it right; why, is it important; how, motivation

keep yourself (4:9b)

stay on course – resist temptation to wander off, starting with eyes: as long as looking at Christ, nothing else attractive enough to draw us away

no one smart enough, wealthy enough, blessed enough to remain faithful without diligent effort – poster child: Solomon

devote yourself (6:5)

properly honoring authority in home begins with right relationship… starting with God – to begin with, we love him because…

then do what nurtures love, encourages growth – time together, reading letters, time with family, listen to voice, intentionally

at same time… put aside what interferes with pursuit of one you love – don’t think twice when pursuing human relationship!

B. right example

remember the day (4:10a)

Hebrew children to keep memory alive: when they heard God speak – that experience part of story told to next generations

not simply list of rules passed along – was to be God’s expectations in context of how he helped them, spoke to them

do you remember time(s) when you clearly recognized God speaking to you? children/grandchildren need to hear from you

teach your children and grandchildren (4:9c)

details of what is given here presumes children still in the home – however…not the only situation in view: could be grandchildren or great-grand, may all be grown / live at great distance, perhaps no children of your own

use all the influence you have at every opportunity you are given to teach God’s truth to next generation and the next

and… come alongside those who are doing that – parents in middle of adventure need encouragement, reinforcement

live it out

should be able to say with Paul: “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” Phil. 3:17

is more than drilling times tables, word lists – is training how to think and live… worldview and way of life demonstrated

show what it means to live faithfully under God’s authority, use authority to honor God in all life situations

C. right teaching

from the Heart v. 6

no question, present text found in the Law, books of Moses, Torah – Gospels a long ways to the right, easy to think they are great distance away from Law

is absolutely no way Law by itself could bring about what is described in v.5-6 – was mistake of Pharisees, thinking by rigid adherence to Law could find favor, gain merit with God

Pharisees were wrong, must be careful not to encourage children in same error – our desire must match God’s: children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are free to love and worship and serve God

same power of Gospel applied by Holy Spirit that gave us new heart with God’s law written necessary to change children

children should see that parents honor God with both lips and heart – outward conformity to God’s expectations the evidence of unreserved devotion to God

love shown to children in home should be accurate model as far as can go – what child can expect from heavenly Father

just as parents obey God because they love him, children should be taught to obey God and parents because they love both

with the Lips v. 7

verbal instruction by no means the only way children must be taught – yet, never to early to begin speaking God’s truth to children

also true later on – never comes time when parents should hold back repeating God’s truth to children – words and methods change, not need for impressing principles on next generations

children need to know explicitly what God commanded, that commands came from God – need them explained and applied

need regular conversations with kids permeated with God’s truth – every topic fair game, discussed in age-appropriate way

is parents’ responsibility first to teach children things of God – church and its programs has supporting, not primary role

obviously parents need to understand what they are expected to teach, then pass along out of their own treasure

not reserved for morning or evening devotions, dinner table conversation – sit, walk, lie down, rise: iow, at every opportunity

parents teaching children is not a task they should do, is to be a function of how they live – need to be purposeful, teaching the right things intentionally from overflow of heart

using the Hands v. 8a

love for God and his laws is to be a rule of conduct – our hands are to be employed in ways that please him

we are to use our own hands for the right things – should not be idle, were created by design to be productive – God didn’t give opposable thumbs only to play video games

not essential to be compensated for all we do – is time and place for that; many opportunities for service to others

God not only designed for productivity, he designs each individual for particular vocation – parent’s task (not guidance counselor) to help child determine, prepare for it

we must teach our children and grandchildren how to use their hands in service to God by serving one another – by both example and instruction, starting at home

need dads who raise sons to be men – godly servant-leaders in home, church, community; if you aren’t presently occupied with hands-on parenting, stand in for a missing dad

need moms who raise daughters to be women – godly capable complements to God-fearing husbands should the Lord provide; ladies, if you aren’t presently hands-on…. come alongside mom of daughters

both older men / women – need some tips, see Titus 2

according to a biblical Vision v. 8b

God in his word has something to say about:

Theology: Is there a God and what is God like? Philosophy: What is real and how do I know? Biology: What is the origin of life? Psychology: What is the basic nature of man? Ethics: What is right? Sociology: How should society be structured? Law: What is the basis for law? Who makes the rules? Politics: What is the purpose of government? Economics: What produces a sound economy? History: How should we interpret human events?

we should be viewing the world through the lens of God’s principles as revealed in Scripture – see the world in the categories God does with the interconnections he sees

recognize God at work, seeing his fingerprints on current events and his creation – then instruct children and grandchildren how to see the same

vast majority of what you see and hear comes from worldview that conflicts with God’s word in at least some if not every point

only way to maintain biblical vision and pass it on to children is to have God’s word in our face, in our eyes / ears / heart

should be sponges thoroughly saturated with word of God so whenever poked or squeezed Bible truth runs out

as the character of the Home v. 9

love for God is to guard the entrance to hearts and homes

parents have a responsibility to bring into the home what truly belongs there and keep out what would be harmful – love for God and a desire to please him by keeping his commands is the filter.

home should be both a haven from the world and a spiritual nursery where our children and grandchildren are first fed milk, then meat as they are taught to know and love God

God’s commandments were to permeate every sphere of the life of man – informing thoughts, desires and actions

May the same be said of our homes and our children as Paul declared regarding Timothy:

2 Tim. 1:3-5I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

2 Tim. 3:14-15 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

17. Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?

17. Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?

Read: Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13

Setting:

greater Gennesaret area (Matt. 14:34; Mark 6:53ff)

in presence of a multitude (Matt. 15:10) or crowd outside a house (Mk. 7:17)

included in multitude: Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem

Person(s) being questioned:

Pharisees and (some of the) scribes who had come from Jerusalem – members of Sanhedrin

“In general it decided all doubtful questions relating to the religious law (Sanh. 88b) and rendered the final decision in regard to the sentence of the teacher who promulgated opinions contradicting the traditional interpretation of the Law (“zaken mamreh” Sanh. xi. 2-4; see Elder, Rebellious).” Jewish Encyclopedia

Christ appeared before it on a charge of blasphemy (Mat 26:57, Joh 19:7), Peter and John were accused before it of being false prophets and deceivers of the people (Act 4:5 ff.), Stephen was condemned by it because of blasphemy (Act 7:57-58), and Paul was charged with transgression of the Mosaic Law (Act 22:30). It had independent authority and right to arrest people by its own officers (Mat 26:47, Mar 14:48, Act 4:3; Act 5:17-18) Hastings Dictionary

not indicated explicitly in text but seems likely / plausible were sent purposely on fact-finding mission, ready to bring charges if Jesus could be detained while in Judea

only thinly veiled nearly frontal attack on / challenge to Jesus, his doctrine and practice – assumed disciples would only go against tradition if Jesus gave specific instruction to do so

Question behind the question:

Why do you place a higher priority on tradition than Law of God?

“All the traditions that then existed among the Jews had been manufactured in their workshop.” John Calvin

Why do you establish and maintain a tradition contrary to the Law of God?

Why do you rigidly hold to a tradition whose purpose is contrary to the Law of God?

Expected response:

Jesus expected exactly what he got – silent defensive resentment followed by offense at Jesus’ further criticism- Matt. 15:12

should have caused them to think – Jesus did give valid example

disciples not sure what to think – maybe they were in trouble: “do you realize you crossed the line?” kind of question to Jesus

guilt by association… could put all of them at risk if traveling to Jerusalem, were seen there – see John 7:10

Jesus, wisely, reminded disciples to look at bigger picture (Matt. 15:13-14) – those determined to pursue a lie will eventually self-destruct… by God’s design

Jesus’ point:

Law of God “designed” to show impossibility of self-salvation; tradition and its enforcement encouraged people to try

thought of themselves as experts in knowing the mind of God, doing what God viewed favorably, completely overlooked God’s intent in big picture: concerned with circumcision of flesh, not of heart (Deut. 30:6)

tradition actually result of unregenerate religious leaders trying to apply God’s Law… and failing – trying to cure disease by treating symptoms

proven by their getting relationship between heart and hand backwards – obsessively focused on physical, no grasp of spiritual principles

accurate answer to 3 QbQ – they were lost people trying desperately to maintain appearances and position (Matt. 15:14)

Jesus not writing them and their followers off, he rightly knew unless Holy Spirit moved first, they would never get it, would only grow more hostile

at same time, Jesus “called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand” – willingly instructed those who had ears, correcting Pharisees’ wrong doctrine

Modern Application:

important to remember – body of tradition and practices in Jesus’ day product of centuries of development Ezra-Nehemiah on, still continuing until 70AD at least (probably 135AD latest)

started similar way to rise of Puritans, 16th century – committed to purifying church, restoring proper worship and doctrine

had to withstand overwhelming pressure (“were the least of all peoples”, Deut. 7:7) – cultural, political, religious – resisting being overrun by outsiders, assimilated into foreign culture

at some point, apparently figured didn’t need to go ad fontes, God’s written word – could instead rely on the “commentaries”, lesser authorities… same problem Reformers faced

every generation susceptible to turning Christianity into religion of head rather than heart, at same time getting away from inspired source

drift is subtle – get comfortable, complacent, sticking with what is familiar – need to keep going to Scripture, relying on Holy Spirit as ultimate authority

 

I Will Look to the Lord

Micah 7:7-13

Picture painted by Micah in first part of chapter 7 – crumbling culture, under assault from both within and without. Sennacherib and allies doing their best to overrun northern kingdom, trying to enlarge borders of Assyria at expense of neighbors. Prevailing attitude of Micah’s countrymen – denial, refusal to admit problem of any kind. Declaring confidence God wouldn’t let anything bad happen to his special people, at same time living in open rebellion against that God.

Micah could see where things were headed, besides knowing what God had in store for his people. Micah also the real deal, one who genuinely lived and believed what he professed. Micah truly a friend of God, circumstances would not appear to support that… and would only get worse as time of Babylonian Captivity approached.

Quick rabbit trail – been on quite a roller coaster here in our country in last 50 years. Trend during previous administration consistently and rapidly downward when considering moral and spiritual climate. Seems to have moderated in last year – accurate? hard to tell, given lack of objectivity in media reporting. To extent there is genuine change, be thankful… especially to degree change represents turning toward God. Must be on guard – easy to get caught up in all the noise, give too much credit to wrong person for bringing about positive difference. Also easy to think is permanent change of direction – may only be momentary blip… Satan doesn’t give up easily.

Should be careful to follow Micah’s example – firmly retaining confidence in right person; seeing above and beyond immediate circumstances; recognizing God’s confirmation confidence rightly placed; diligently warning the lost of coming consequences for rebellion.

A. confidence v.7

look to the Lord

watchman – not simply “looking to the Lord”, putting confidence in him, counting on God to do his thing to help his people

is “looking for the Lord” – leaning forward, straining eyes to see as far as possible, detect at earliest possible moment God’s movement, God’s action

no wishful thinking here, is all confident expectation that God will indeed come into view, only uncertainty is when

“In the reeling and turning upside-down of things here below, the people of God are not so much to look to these incertainties, as unto the immutability of God in what he is to his people.” George Hutcheson

wait for the Lord

waiting like for someone he promised to meet – not going to leave his post, seek another solution / deliverer – will stick with his original plan no matter how long it takes

unshakable assurance is based on character of One he waits for – knows God will not let him down for any reason

also knows / is convinced is pointless to seek help or guidance from any other source – firmly committed to God… alone

important to remember – any intervening difficulties or delays intended by God to accomplish his perfect purpose in us

hear from the Lord

cannot really hear inflection, could easily believe emphasis on “my” – Micah’s God would hear him, unlike gods of people

even if praying to same God, he would hear Micah and not prayers of rebellious – Micah had even said so, Mic. 3:4

God would hear his cry with attention and interest, with intention to respond – God would hear Micah, Micah would hear answer in return

response from God could come in varied ways: audible voice, messenger sent by God, written word, Spirit’s testimony

B. circumstances v.8-10

things aren’t how they might look

may appear to enemies like they have prevailed… over individual (like prophet) and/or all individual represents (the church)

metrics people use frequently not same as God uses – we are limited to measuring what we can see, only miniscule portion of whole picture

e.g. – Golden Lampstand Church, Linfen, China… 50,000 worshipers – dynamited and bulldozed 01/.09/18, surely hard providence

yet, does not mean cause of Christ has been harmed; probably considered a win by Chinese officials – will likely spur more real growth than tolerance would have

need to keep opposite in view, more on this in a couple books – wicked prospering not all it appears; Micah understood

the believer sees differently

things dark / hidden to everyone else make sense to child of God – Micah understood reason for circumstances b/c had a light

sometimes a searchlight, illuminating large areas of life and culture… other times laser pointer zeroing in on specific truth and its application / significance

the Lord’s light of a kind to cut through fog of sin, something unbeliever has no help with – enables believer to see accurately what is real, not taken in by Satan’s deception

Micah won’t be surprised when judgment falls on his people… he sees it coming; not surprised by deliverance either

the believer suffers differently

recognizes suffering has purpose, not something random that happens for no particular reason, with no goal in view

here Micah shows great humility, standing beside his countrymen not over them – acknowledges his own sinfulness

stands with others found in Bible – David, Daniel, Nehemiah – not expecting to escape hardship because were less sinful

Micah knew God’s hand would be on him, not to crush but to correct – others would be shaking fist, crying injustice

the believer expects different outcome

Micah confident of eventual deliverance – when God’s purpose in suffering has been satisfied, brings believer out into light

too many people today surprised by suffering, don’t know how to deal, what to expect, often have no hope of good outcome

like Micah, child of God should not doubt good ending – may not be in this life, that’s ok – this life important / significant drop in bucket of eternity

day will come when perfect justice will be served – may be intermediate times God brings about justice as well

prosperity of wicked will end, righteous will be vindicated, all will know that God exists and his arm not short

C. confirmation v.11-12

laid low but lifted up

think about what future holds from Micah’s perspective for Jerusalem – Nebuchadnezzar, walls breached, gates burned

no way to secure / defend, not considered safe place to live – surrounding area devastated, unable to support city

as God carried out judgment on his people by hand of Neb., church God promised to put his name in thoroughly plundered

everything of value stripped off, rest knocked down or burned – Micah saw day when walls rebuilt, including Temple

next big thing after captivity would confirm Micah’s confidence in YHWH not misplaced – enemies ridiculed: “Where is the LORD your God?” – restored city / church their answer

greatly increased influence

God’s plan more than simple restoration to same old – humanly explainable means could produce appearance of that much

plan was / is for city, more importantly what it represented, to have significantly greater prominence / influence than before

would begin with Cyrus’ decree, 518 BC, continuing today, reach ultimate fulfillment in new heavens/earth

God in his church would become magnet for people from every tribe, people, language, nation, drawing those purchased by blood of Christ (Rev. 5:9)

YHWH will prevail

each time throughout history God has moved on behalf of his people, defeated his / their enemies, confirms his plan A in force

reinforces confidence true God will surely accomplish his eternal purpose without fail in future as he has in past

should not look at circumstances to boost confidence, should not allow circumstances to shake confidence – rather God’s character confirmed by history, plan foretold in revelation incl. last chapter

D. consequences v.13

sinful rebellion is costly

meanwhile… all this good news not “pie in the sky”, for Micah or us – not to that point yet in God’s redemptive plan

more God intended to accomplish – just as OT sacrifice picture displaying cost of sin and need for Savior, God’s judgment in time gives taste of what awaits one who dies in their sin

demonstrates God’s commitment to justice, serves as warning: cannot sin with impunity against holy God or his people

true justice will prevail

acts of God’s judgment we get to read about / observe encourage believer – God not blind or insensitive to real injustice

God has the power and will use it: Acts 17:31“because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

temporal justice not the last word

justice begins in this life, why God ordained civil authority, also why God has at times acted apart from civil authority

when we see justice only partially achieved, sometimes not at all, remember: God will have last word, all things set to rights

intended to pave way for redemption

temporal consequences less than perfect / complete by God’s design – must leave room for repentance and restoration

shows need and sets stage for redemption – God delivering his people from exile / slavery to earthly masters and from sin

Several things for us: keep looking at Jesus, not circumstances. Have confidence in God, not earthly systems or leaders to provide hope. Don’t forget God’s purpose in suffering and hardship – punish evil and make us more like Christ. Use hard times as opportunities for witness, warning lost of uncertainty of life and certainty of judgment for lost. Jesus is our hope, strength, comfort, the one who keeps soul safe from all harm.

 

Honor Authority – Part 3

Exodus 20:12

Have considered authority from “bottom up” perspective, honoring those in authority over us. What about those in the middle, how do they honor and exercise authority? Basic principle: Romans 13:1

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”

Just as mankind is to properly steward material resources granted to him – “Fill the earth and subdue it!” Gen. 1:28, so every person responsible to honor God’s authority by properly using authority entrusted to him. In a nutshell, way to do that is: exercise authority as God would if he were standing in your shoes. Have substantial guide to follow with countless examples of God himself acting as parent, ruler, employer. Have specific instructions, God has given other models both good and bad, first and ultimate responsibility to God and follow his example.

iow, God revealed in his word is the standard. If God is the standard then… what responsibility do parents/rulers/employers have? How seriously does God view their responsibility? If we keep his command to honor authority, what does God promise? And what role does the church have in all this?

E. what responsibility do “they” have

parents

sacrificial love toward one another – Eph. 5:24-25

begins here, setting example, having biblical structure present: church subject to Christ = wives to husbands; as Christ loved church = husbands to wives

dad and mom who are not “one flesh” because one w/Christ => misbehaving children w/ no respect for authority

sacrificial love toward children – 1 John 4:10-11

God so loved adopted children he sacrificed his own Son – God’s love toward us is model we are to follow toward others

love enough to discipline – Prov. 3:12

discipline to be corrective not punitive – goal to bring about change in behavior originating in change of heart; God not interested only in behavior modification, wants devoted hearts

rulers Rom. 13:3-4

protect and defend – Isa. 44:6

Lord, King of Israel also Redeemer – delivering from harm, protecting from further harm; Lord of hosts / armies defends against enemies of all sorts

God’s example is that of ruler who has best interests of subjects as priority, uses authority to do all necessary to promote their good

implement just laws and maintain justice – Isa. 33:22

YHWH our king, also judge and legislator (lawgiver) – made sure his people had best laws possible as template for localized application – principles of good legal system, God’s Law a match

govern with careful compassion – Psa. 146:9

God has immigration policy – watches over strangers and aliens, has given pretty specific commands how to treat them

also given clear instruction about basic principles for assistance to needy – good rulers / legislators should view / treat immigrants and poor as God has demonstrated

employers

compensates liberally – Gen. 1:28-29

gave command to be productive, to subdue earth and manage it; reward: everything they could produce was theirs

even after sin entered world, in God’s economy 90% goes to employee and 10% to God – if only it worked that way today!

reasonable expectations – Gen. 2:2

God not a work-a-holic, made clear by example and precept he doesn’t expect his people to be either – God himself worked six days, rested one day

God’s plan: a sustainable work week that adequately provides for needs while setting aside time for religious duties

responsive to employees – Ex. 2:23-24

God heard cries of his workers when immediate supervisors did not… and acted to remedy significant injustice

good employer listens to legitimate requests, shows compassion whenever possible, rightly expects loyalty in return

F. how seriously does God view it

connection between commandments 4 and 5 – Lev. 19:3

honoring God’s authority over your work week vs honoring other authorities – two concepts / principles go hand in hand

one who faithfully submits to God’s authority devoting one day of seven to spiritual exercise will show effects other six days

not utilitarian “do it because it works”, is God’s purposeful design – grows love for God, fuels love for others, shown by honor

penalty for disobedience – Ex. 21:15, 17; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 21:18-21; 27:16

not only that we think family and what is learned at home is foundational, we are following God’s lead – category of capital offense, no greater personal penalty

intentional stubborn refusal to honor those who give life and breath an evil offense against God he said is worthy of death

same as for breaking the Sabbath – Ex. 31:14-15; 35:1-2ff

amounts to despising God and his good gifts… all seven days – putting something or someone else in God’s place at top

elder abuse – Matt. 15:4-9

Jesus had strong words for religious leaders who enabled neglect of parents – hypocrites, blind leaders of blind

declared to be transgression of God’s command, accused of holding people to tradition that nullified commandment

G. what does God promise if we do

promise repeated Eph 6:3 – quotes from Deut. 5:16

both Ex. & Deut. include promise of length of days, Deut. adds “may be well” – Paul careful to quote from enlarged version

don’t hold it applies only because repeated in NT – God doesn’t waste words… repeats things that have weight, significance

your days may be long

we think first of practical effects – clean living and perseverance vs. drugs / sex / rock ‘n roll – certainly is important element

more pertinent: way God designed, going all way back to beginning – remember, if sin hadn’t shown up, neither would death

it may be well with you

God didn’t promise more long, hard, miserable years – he intended long(er) life to be filled with blessings

how is it with you? is it well with you? if not, how are you trying to change it? by trying to do more of what isn’t working? or by doing more of life God’s way, in dependence on him, trusting him with the outcome

applies to church family, too

the more consistently we submit to God’s authority and honor authorities he has established in Christ’s church, more blessing we can expect

at same time, church family will be better able / equipped to strengthen families for times when we are apart

H. role of the church

preach about it – Eph. 5:22ff

it’s in the Bible, ought to be heard from the pulpit… and not stopping with honoring God and his sovereign authority over all

God in his word addresses specific relationships / areas of life: starts with husbands and wives, moves to parents and children, then employers and employees

should not only be heard from the pulpit, should be heard by those in each category – was true for God speaking from Sinai, apostles writing to the church, should be today

note carefully: Bible came from God in one flavor, addressed to every kind of person of every age in every sort of situation

God did not issue small group, praise and worship, nursery, junior church, senior saints, college and career flavors – expected all of his word to be heard by all of his people… together

may be place for targeted teaching to particular groups but should be in addition to primary place given to preaching

teach proper roles – Titus 2:1-8

here’s another way modern church gone off on its own, developed methods and practices that depart from biblical model

is to be older saints, seasoned mature believers who have lived according to roles established in God’s word mentoring next generation of believers

older men and women exercising proper leadership in homes and within local church training / grooming tomorrow’s leaders

model family – 1 Tim. 3:4-5; Titus 1:5-6

Christians should be able to find all they need for help and guidance within local church starting with marriage / family

requires local church to have those who meet biblical requirements for leadership in those positions – God knew what he was doing when he said:

an elder/overseer must be “one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence(for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)”

live as family – 1 Cor. 12:12-14

“body is one and has many members” – call it church family for a reason – is how it should function, with all various roles

significant blot on church of Jesus Christ is poor reputation many have – gossip, conflict with each other, etc…. – may Christ preserve us from any of that

world should be able to look at our families, our church family and see God’s design for family and honor of authority being lived out in homes and community

Next week, Honoring Authority in the Home