Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised. -Genesis 17:24
SECTION A – The Good Book?
King James Bible – 1611 – 6 billion printed
400 years later – Michael Gove – British secretary of state for education
Private donors – $700,000 – every school in the country with a KJV bible
Good for young people to become familiar with the language used.
Most unlikely backers – World’s leading atheist – Prof. Richard Dawkins
“Observer” newspaper – “If we can get a copy of this bible in the hands of children, we will cleanse them from the ugly, vicious rumor that the bible is a moral book.”
It’s full of murder, lies, genocide.
Dilema of bible
Sums up the dilema of the bible.
Some respect it. But don’t understand brutality.
Some think it’s a huge pile of rules to follow if you want to be close to God.
Some – inspired – huge % – NOT relevant
I’ve always been inspired by the bible.
Richard Dawkins said – superficial & childish – Two possible reasons
- He doesn’t understand the principles of how to read and ancient collection of Writing.
- He DOES understand, and didn’t say because he wanted to make a cheap point.
Also – dissapointed by churches inability to explain our beliefs – intellegent way.
We need to take it seriously that people struggle with the bible.
CAN’T stomach brutality – no morality
Question: can we use the bible as a reliable moral and spiritual guide in the 21st century?
People have been inspired through the centuries
Nelson Mandela – Martin Luther King – Mother Teresa
Used as weapon of oppression and prejudice
Oppress black people – Women – Jewish People
How do we read and understand it?
For someone like me who doesn’t agree w/Dawkins – why do I find it so inspiring?
Clue – title – The Holy Bible
Bible collection/library of books
Writen over at least 1500 years
Lots of different people with different attitudes, ideas, perspectives,
All writing about one thing that unites them – their experience w/God. From their culture, in their language.
One of the things that makes God so amazing
He’s always been able to communicate a perfect message through imperfect people.
Me & other preachers
Deeply flawed – Angry / Bitter / jealous / prideful / arrogant / ignorant / INSECURE
Different styles, opinions, perspectives.
God is still able to communicate inspired messages to you through deeply flawed people.
Suprising: when you stop to understand the humanity in the bible – doesn’t weaken, but it strengthens.
SECTION B – Bite Down Hard, My Man
Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised. – -Genesis 17:24
The bible – been about forming a new tribe
Under Abraham – Show world redeeming love of God
- And how do you grow a tribe? Several ways – mainly have kids
- And how do you do that? Have sex
- And how does that work? Excellent question
Didn’t know – zygoats & eggs
Back in the day – didn’t know – zygoats & eggs
Realized – women didn’t get pregnant till they’d been w/a man.
Decided – man – life force / seed / magic bullet
Every male among you shall be circumcised, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. – God to Abraham, Genesis 17
How people (guys) showed their commitment to be in the new tribe
No pain killers / drugs
Way of saying: I’m in. I believe. I trust. I want to do my part in this new thing God is doing.
Picture Abraham, 99 year old, biting down on a towel while his neighbor Jeff takes a stone and goes to work…(It’s not like they had sharp metal knives or motrin or anything like that.)
Progresses – weird thing God’s people DO – thing that divides the world
Circumcised / heathens, pegans, etc. “Uncircumcized”
David – Goliath “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine?”
SECTION C – All the Way Off
Fast Forward – New Testament
Paul – traveling ancient world telling people about Jesus.
Group of people from Abraham’s tribe following behind him telling everyone if you want to follow Jesus – circumcised – Part of the deal – FROM BEGINNING
Picture of group of people never read torah, never heard of moses.
Just been told – if they want to, need a “little operation” done.
“You want us to do what with our whats?!”
Review – Tribe – Different
All tribes need a method of initiation – Who serious. Our guys – circumcision.
Sign/Mark/Demonstration – commitment – New identity
Until it wasn’t.
First ChristianS – spreading news about Jesus – major conflict
Some – “circumcised”
Others (like Paul) say – “don’t”
Conflict super prevalent in book of Galatians.
Epic rant – Circumcised to follow Jesus “isn’t a gospel at all” & “Anyone preaching gospel involving circumcision is cursed” & “anybody believing them is bewitched and enslaved”
At one point: I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves.
Apokopto : To cut off – “I wish they would just cut theirs off.”
- How did something that was so central become such an issue later?
- How did something that was considered good-and commanded by God-become something Paul calls enslavement?
- How did this sign of trust in God become something Paul says isn’t a gospel at all?
That was then, this is now.
While reading bible – have to look at it as a story that’s unfolding.
If you take 2 things from different parts of the bible and hold them up, it might seem like they’re saying different things. Because they are.
Critics do this – Richard Dawkins
Critics of the bible do this
Find two things from different eras “The bible contradicts itself.”
Dumb thing to do no matter how smart the person is.
You have to read it differently
“Where am I in the story?”
No a flat line – pick & choose
Story – people saw things differently – different stages
Do you believe the same things you used to?
Do you hold the same views that you did 10 years ago?
Do you think about the world and other people just as you did when you were 15?
That was then, this is now.
“Are there things that were true then that are true now?” Of course.
Two kinds of fabric
Timeless truth – God IS LOVE – JESUS IS GOD – DIED FOR US.
Things that are linked to a specific time & a specific people
You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:28)
“I’m not a jew in 1400BC”
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (1 (Timothy 2:11)-12)
In this church: Women teach & have authority over men.
Paul said that to Timothy regarding the church in Ephesus in 65 AD.
People who believe – follow everything – incredibly extreme, haven’t read it.
“You are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel.” “So you may remember not to prostitute yourselves.” (Deuteronomy 22:12)
Kill passover lambs each year
Deuteronomy 25:11-12, if two men were engaged in fighting, their wives couldn’t
Come to their rescue by grabbing and twisting the other man’s private parts. If she did, her hand would have to be cut off.
Exodus 31:14 – Death for working on the sabbath – Saturday – even gardening
Exodus 21:17 – kids who curse or dishonor their parents are to be killed by stoning
Leviticus 19:27 – forbids cutting the hair or the sides of your head
Numbers 5:11-31, if a man suspected his wife was having an affair, but had no physical proof, he could take her to the priest. The priest would sweep some dust off the Tabernacle floor, and mix it into a vessel of water, and make the wife drink it. If the dusty water didn’t make the woman sick, then she was innocent, but if her belly swelled up with pain, then she was guilty.
How can you tell the difference?
Do I picture God like Jesus or do I picture God how PEOPLE PICTURED HIM before they met Jesus?
Does THIS look more like Jesus or the Pharisees?
Am I looking for ways to draw lines in the sand to separate “us” and “them” or am I looking for ways to welcome people into our family?
SECTION D – A new thing
Isaiah 43 – prophesying (in the voice of God) to Jerusalem about their restoration.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. (Isaiah 43:18)
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19)
Every generation of Christians – has to endure growing pains.
Following God as He leads us.
Scary – unknown
We have to grow.
Our parents – followed God into the new and unknown.
We don’t disreguard – we continue to build
About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. (Acts 10:9)
He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. (Acts 10:10)
(ekstasis – extasy)
He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. (Acts 10:11)
It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. (Acts 10:12)
Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” (Acts 10:13)
“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:14)
The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Acts 10:15)
This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. (Acts 10:16)
Raised – fishing village – Capernaum
Torah – avoiding impurity – laws
Avoiding food & people – Wouldn’t touch dead animal / unclean people
Not even into their house – non-jewish people – everyone else.
Back to trance
As soon as over – Romans come up (uLtimate in unclean) – asking if he’ll come to leaders house.
He agrees, and when he gets there he says he’s now allowed to go in.
“But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.”
How? Through a disruption
He has a way of seeing the world and God. Has experience that doesn’t fit.
1st reaction: “surely not Lord!” – He resists. Why? His religious convictions.
He resists God in the name of…God.
Before – couldn’t eat, Now can. – Before – couldn’t go in, now can.
see this w/young people.
Grow up, leave, experience God in new ways in new places, with different people.
Fear – BUT can’t go back
Imagine Peter walking through doorway.
Scary – Seen something new. – Once you see, you can’t unsee.
I hope – encouragement – grow – change – see new things
don’t deny the disruptions
When you see new things that don’t fit in any of your old boxes.
It’s ok, not the first.
Don’t spend too much time where God has been, embracing old wineskins, old ways of living that have long since dried up. Instead, learn where God is now and where He’s leading us now, and follow Him as He brings us into some place new. Some place unexpected, terrifying, surprising, and beautiful. And in all things, walk in the freedom of Christ. Don’t let the fear of the new keep you in the old. God’s doing a new thing. Embrace Him, cling to Him, and follow Him always.