Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Coveting - and the Character of God and of Man

I will not repeat my approach and thoughts on the Old Testament and the 10 commandments (so make sure you understand them to understand this). I'm giving you some of the "meat" from my chance to preach Sunday Morning at Hidden Acres. Please note that I believe the 10th commandment (do not covet) teaches everything below and much, much more. The 10 commandments are rich with the character of God. It absolutely blows my mind. Again - I am just giving a brief sketch of this commandment - there is so much more that could and should be said about it.

What does the command not to covet teach about God and man???

The Character of GOD in the 10th Commandment

1. God owns everything. He has to own everything to be able to give it to us. Therefore, I am a steward of all that God has given me. There are many ramifications to this truth.

2. God provides everything - that's why I don't need to covet.

The above was information about God, but let me turn now to the very character of God (to who God is, as compared to what God does or has done)

God is sovereign. Even when Job is told by his wife to curse God and he responds with that statement about being naked from his mother's womb... He says - "The Lord gave and the Lord (NOT SATAN) has taken away. Blessed Be the name of the Lord!" This alone could keep us thinking for a long time.

God is wise. He has to be to know just how to provide for our needs. He does not give randomly or arbitraliy - but as He sees fit. This leads to the truth that God has a personal plan for each one of us (each one of is not to covet - so God must be taking care of each one of us). God's will is exactly what we would want if we knew all the facts (maybe by Gothard??).

God is Good - He is our good father. He'll provide just what we need. Tozer said - "The greatness of God rouses fear within us, but His goodness encourages us not to be afraid of Him. To fear and not be afraid - that is the paradox of faith."

God is gracious (get good things we don't deserve) - not only do we get what we need, but we get sooooo much more than what we need.

God is Jealous. This is the big one. God does not want us to be satisfied with trivial things like power, fame, money, etc... He wants our affections. We are to be satisfied in Him alone - and that is when He is the most glorified (John Piper). I could go on and on right here.

The Character of MAN in the 10th Commandment

We have a very high view of ourselves - we think we deserve lots of stuff. We're selfish and proud.

We have a desire for justice - but we certainly have many skewed ideas about what justice really is. (this desire for justice is one of many apologetics for the existence of God).

We lack faith to really believe God is going to provide for us (like the Israelites trying to collect manna on the Sabbath).

We easily seek everything except God. We are easily satisfied by things that don't satsify. We move from distraction to distraction.

What have I missed - because I am sure there is much more there.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Knowing God

I get to preach a sermon this weekend (at Hidden Acres) - and I'm preaching on a couple of the 10 commandments. Since I believe that the decalogue is primarily about Knowing God, it's an absolutely exciting thing to preach on it. I want to share a few quotes on this stuff.

Dr. John Walton - His OT Survey Book - first couple pages

“The Old Testament’s objective is not transformed lives, though knowing God should transform one’s life. The Old Testament’s objective is not the adoption of a value system, though a value system would certainly be one outcome of knowing God in a real way. The Old Testament is not a repository of historical role models, dusty hymns, and obscure prophetic sayings, but God’s invitation to hear his story.” God wants us to KNOW HIM!

Tozer Quotes - from the first couple chapters of my favorite book - "Knowledge of the Holy"

The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles... It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate. If we would bring back spiritual power to our lives , we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is.

The most important fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.

I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.

The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him…

What a challenge to preach about God and do Him justice.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thoughts on The 10 Commandments (the Decalogue)

Ancient Near Eastern cultures promoted their king (often with embellishments – scribes liked to live long). Israel also had a bias – to promote The King – and so the OT is God’s Story about Himself.

Decalogue – Primarily Revelatory - God is revealing His character that we may know Him. Reveals God (primarily) – but also the character of Man

When we get to know someone – we talk about our past – the OT is God’s story (His Story = History) about His past – the Decalogue is there to reveal His character)

Old Testament is not primarily stories about Moses or Abraham, but stories about God.
When we focus on them, we lose sight of God (imagine taking a picture and focusing on the background). We won’t find a ton of info about these characters we want to know – because that isn’t the point (was Moses a good father? What was Abe’s favorite sport?). The stories about different characters are there to add depth to God’s story about Himself

Decalogue is one of the shortest and fullest theological statements we have

There is no way to make a rule for every problem in life. Even rules about movies are hard – is it okay to see one movie but not another. Drinking – in Europe, Christians drink. The Jewish took the first five books of the Bible and came up with a commentary on them called the Mishnah. Later, they added to the Mishnah and got the Gemara (the two combined are the Talmud). However, when we know God – we don’t need rules – knowing Him will help us know what to do in every situation.

Each of the 10 Commandments come from God’s character. He could never have chosen to command us to lie. Before one of them was written, they were already true.

Question for thought – are there aspects of God’s character that we know of now that were not revealed in the 10 commandments?

The 10 commandments aren’t multiple choice.

“Which part of ‘Thou shalt not’ didn’t you understand?” - God

I'll post more specific thoughts soon. I'm saddened by how few people use the Old Testament or even understand how to use it. Let me give quick credit to Dr. John H. Walton for many of these thoughts (now a Prof at Wheaton in their Graduate Department - Old Testament).

If you are brave, tell me about how to approach the Old Testament (what hermeneutical rules do you go by?). Tell me what the story of David and Goliath is about.