By David Rosati
Jeremy, here’s my notes of what I taught this morning. Just some things I’ve been thinking about. Hope you’re feeling better!
Scripture Introduction: There are several Scriptures we’ll be looking at this morning, so let’s go to God in prayer and begin.
Intro: Jeremy’s sick. The title of this morning’s lesson – not a sermon – is “Things I’ve Been Thinking About.” Have you ever read your Bible and gone right over certain passages without stopping to really think about what you’ve just read? I have. Well, not too long ago I had to write a paper discussing one of the signs of God’s judgments that Ezekiel performed for Judah. And as I wrote it, I had to slow down and really think about it. Here, let me show you what I mean. Please turn to…
Ezekiel 24:15-24 and follow along as I read.
Context: Ezekiel was a prophet to the Judean exiles in Babylon. Part of his ministry was to act out before the people 13 signs that portrayed God’s judgment of Judah. Here, Ezekiel is told he may not mourn the death of his wife, which is a picture of the way the Judeans are not to mourn when their temple and children are slain by the Babylonians.
Meaning: Here is a sign to Judah that all personal sorrow is to be overwhelmed in the national tragedy of Jerusalem falling. As Ezekiel’s wife was the “desire – or delight – of his eyes,” so was the temple and their children to the Judeans. The people are told to respond in the same way as Ezekiel at the death of his wife. They were not to mourn because the destruction of Jerusalem had been foretold by the prophets and they had not heeded the message. They should have known Jerusalem would fall!
Think About: This must have been so hard! When I thought about this I wondered how it would be to receive such a message. His wife! The delight of his eyes! How he must have loved her! It may have been by a plague or disease, for that’s what “one stroke” often meant in Hebrew. In the morning Ezekiel receives the message and in the evening his wife dies. Imagine, Gary, waking up this morning, being told that, and by this evening Angie has died. Imagine you cannot mourn. Look at the things he may not do. All of these things were the normal process after a death in that culture. Imagine. D.J., your Emily has been taken from you, and you will not receive friends, you will not place an obituary, you will not have a funeral service, there will be no caravan to the cemetery, no ladies of the church bringing you casseroles to see you through. See mourning bread. What a hard thing to do! Ezekiel did not just preach his message, his entire life lived his message.
Another passage that I’ve been thinking about lately is Acts 16:1-4. Please, turn there and follow along with me…
Context: Paul and Silas are traveling as missionaries and they come to a small town and meet Timothy, who is well thought of by local believers. The Jewish community in this place seems to have been small, so probably his mother Eunice was allowed to marry a Greek. So, Timothy is both Jewish and Greek. And Paul wants to take him with him on his journey, but he’s never been circumcised. This posed a problem. Why?
Meaning: Why would Paul, after insisting at the Jerusalem council that Gentiles did not need to be circumcised, insist on doing this to Timothy? Even though Paul resisted all efforts to impose Judaism on Gentile converts to Christianity, he himself continued to live as an observant Jew. In Jewish law, the child takes the religion of his mother. Timothy should have been circumcised and raised Jewish. But, in Greek culture, the father dominates, and with such a small Jewish community there, that’s the rule that prevailed. Because of his mother, to a Jew Timothy was a Jew. Being a good Christian did not mean being a bad Jew. In their attempts to reach the Jews in their mission this could have caused a real stumbling block. So, Paul circumcised Timothy.
Think About: You know, I’ve read that passage many times, but only recently stopped to think about what that meant for Timothy. Think about this a moment. Timothy, I want you to come with us, but I’m going to have to remove your foreskin first. Oh, and we have no real painkillers, and it’s going to really hurt. This is such a delicate procedure that today we entrust it to surgeons. Imagine this requirement for missionary service being required today! This is such a common practice today, and done at such a young age and away from our sight, that we don’t think much about it. But, turn with me to Joshua 5:1-8, and we’ll see a little more what it was like to go through this as an adult male. These guys didn’t just get up and start conquering Canaan. They had to stay encamped until they healed. You know, in all seriousness, I think the passage in Acts about Timothy speaks to his commitment to the Lord.
Now, I wouldn’t want you to think I was being less than serious in discussing that. Timothy was a real man, a real believer, just like you and I today, who took his commitment to God seriously, and that commitment is recorded for us as Holy Scripture.
The last passage I want to bring to mind is one that we cannot exhaust the depths of meaning contained within it. It is one we can wonder over, meditate upon, pray upon, for a lifetime, and still never truly comprehend the full meaning of what is written.
Mark 15:21-34. Please turn there and follow along as I read.
Context: Our Lord Jesus is crucified. And for three hours darkness falls across the land. And at 3 Jesus cries out these heartbreaking words from the 22nd Psalm.
Meaning: Our Lord suffered beyond our imaginings. Possibly He cries out because He is experiencing for us the utter agony of hell. The cup of God’s wrath is being poured out upon His head. God’s wrath for our sins. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul says, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us.” There is also the understanding that in some way Jesus was separated from God. Jesus, the Son of God, was cut off from God the Father. Eternal God was cut off from Eternal God. John 1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God [meaning face to face with], and the Word was God.” Jesus was and is and always will be. He Is Eternal. Tell about the Robinsons (sweethearts since age 3; married 70+ years). Now Mr. and Mrs. Robinson’s wonderful closeness does not even compare to the one that exists within the Trinity. I only use it because our finite minds are incapable of going much further than that in grasping such a mystery. God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – had always been together. There was never a moment when it began. It always had been. It did not start – it was. And now, for us, what the Eternal Son had always known is no longer. The blessed, perfect, relationship He enjoyed with the Father is gone. For us. I cannot understand, but I will continue to seek understanding. What a wonderful Lord. May His Name be praised forever. Such thoughts can and should bring about our worship.
Conc.: Encourage all to slow down and think over your reading. The Bible records real people much like us and what really happened to them.
So anyway, that’s just the notes. Nothing world-shaking, but it went well I think.
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