Reading Ramblings – November 16, 2014

Date:  Narrative Preaching #20— OT in Review —November 16, 2014

Texts: Genesis 3:14-19; Deuteronomy 18:15-22; Romans 5:18-21; Psalm 150; John 20:30-31

Context:  The final installment of the Old Testament Sunday School Story Survey!  The goal here will be to tie the various stories we’ve gone through together both historically and thematically as they evidence God’s plan of salvation worked out in through human history.  The goal of Scripture in this respect is to outline God’s working of his plan, and the fulfillment of that plan in his Incarnate Son, Jesus of Nazareth.  This is a great way to conclude, since next Sunday is the last Sunday of the Church year—Christ the King Sunday, and then the new liturgical Church year begins with Advent.  I’ve opted for several additional, short Scripture readings from various places in Scripture to help bring this extended series to a close. 

Genesis 3:14-19 — These are foundational verses, describing briefly the core problem facing humanity—we are not as we were created to be.  We are under a curse, a curse brought to bear through sin, rebellion against the Word of God.  Yet in the curse itself the cure is promised (3:15).  God will work through humanity to undo the sin that came into power through humanity.

Deuteronomy 18:15-22 — In this passage Moses functions as prophet, directing the people of God’s attention forward.  As the greatest of God’s leaders in the Old Testament, the inclination of God’s people to look back to him for guidance and example is here tempered by his own urging of his people to look forward, past and beyond him to one who will be greater than he.  This messianic message is fulfilled in the coming of the incarnate Son of God, Jesus the Christ.

Romans 5:18-22 — A brief description that ties together the centrality of the person of Jesus of Nazareth as the promised solution of Genesis 3:15.  Jesus is the one who comes to undo the power of sin and death.  He is the one who bruises the serpent’s head, even as He himself is struck and wounded.  In him, death is allowed brief reign so that you and I may be free from death eternally.   The greatness of God’s mercy is shown in his powerful and irresistible dedication to rescuing us from our own demise—a demise that we both inherit and rightfully deserve in our own sinfulness.

Psalm 150 — The final psalm, summing up the psalter with a mighty call to praise.  It seems appropriate to conclude our series with the conclusion to the Old Testament book of worship.  God is to be praised always!  He is praised where He is, reigning in glory, unseen at the moment by our sinful eyes.  He is to be praised for what He has done in human history and in our own lives.  He is to be praised simply for who He is, the ultimate one.

Our praise can and should take many forms.  Every creature finds an appropriate way to worship and praise God who created us all, and our praise should reflect the diversity of God the creator.  Ultimately this praise will be harmonized into a single, beautiful thread of praise echoing throughout all eternity.  We argue about what is and isn’t appropriate an appropriate format for praise while missing the point entirely—God is to be praised!  Quit arguing about how to do it or not do it and just do it!

 

John 20:30-31 — These are important verses, not just for the book of John but for all of Scripture.  I encounter lots of questions trying to probe beyond and behind the Word of God.  Why don’t we know more about Jesus’ childhood?  Why doesn’t God tell us this, or that, or the other.  But John sees clearly that what He has been inspired to put down has been put down for a particular purpose, and that purpose is not the exhaustive satisfaction of every question that might come up through the ages.  Rather, what has been recorded has been judged adequate for faith.  They are adequate to show that Jesus of Nazareth is the Incarnate Son of God.

Our questions are not all answered.  If the Bible did answer them all, we would come up with more and different questions and so still be in the same situation.  We are called to trust God.  To trust what He has said about our condition, and to trust his remedy to the situation.  That is all.  Nothing more.  That trust brings with it life.  Refusal to trust leaves us in death.  The situation could not be more simply described.  The Word of God intends to bring us to faith, to call us to trust that the God who created us is the God who redeems us, and that this God is at work even now within us.

There can be (and are) many questions that lead us to divisions within the Church, and this is lamentable.  But we should always keep our eyes firmly fixed on faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the means of life.  All other matters will ultimately be resolved, and I trust that there will be much mutual surprise when that happens.  But what binds us together now and for eternity is not our understanding per se, but the object  of our trust.  Do we trust ultimately in ourselves, with science and psychology and all the other useful but limited tools God has given us?  Or will we trust in God?  It is the same question that Adam and Eve faced.  They failed to trust in God.  It is the same question Jesus himself faced repeated, but He remained obedient in his trust of God the Father.

You and I and every human being must answer this question.  It is to this end that Scripture stands not as the great and final answer book, but as the source of faith and trust and hope in God.

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