Tuesday, September 30, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-30 [Faith and Hebrews11] Conclusion: Not Faith in itself, but in HIM

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews12:1-3

We've spent the last five weeks reflecting on Faith.
But ultimately faith is a RELATIONSHIP and not a mechanism.
Faith isn't a mental exercise or a state of mind that is a lever to God's toolbox and a way of getting what we want.

Faith is in a person - it's hope and trust that comes from knowing the amazing love of an amazing God.

Let's do what the author suggests: Let's fix our eyes on Jesus...
- He's the author of our faith. When Adam and Eve sinned, it was clear from the outset that the Son would "bruise the head of the serpent"
- He's the perfecter of our faith. He was wholly God who wholly gave himself as a holy and whole sacrifice for our sin.
- He faced the cross with a joyous anticipation because He scorned its shame in favour of showing us what love looked like.
- He sat down at God's right hand, having ascended in His resurrected but human body to indicate that the work was done and salvation was obtained.

Faith is not a mindset - it's a friendship.
Maybe the best definition of faith is encapsulated in the great old hymn:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouragedâ€"
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refugeâ€"
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

This brings us to the end of our series on Faith and Hebrews 11 (and 12 :-) ) We'll start a special 30 day journey tomorrow...

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Friday, September 26, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-26 [Faith and Hebrews11] The best is yet to come!

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews11:39-40

The Hebrews writer has taken us through the heroes of the faith. We've seen their dedication, determination and devotion. We've admired their courage, commitment and confidence and we've been impressed by their insight, inspiration and integrity.

After the list of heroes we'd expect to get an invitation to follow in the steps of the faith heroes, but there's a surprise in store for us.

As inspirational and exciting as the heroes of the faith seem, there's "something better" than their example. The heroes did not receive the promise they lived and died for until the time was right and that the rest of humanity could also be included in the promise.

As great as these heroes were, they could not be made perfect. Their exploits, while great, were not sufficient to obtain perfection. Although they had been faithful, they could not receive what was promised because they were not perfect.

And so the heroes waited until God's plan could be unfolded.
They had to trust in God's "better" which would bring about the "perfect" best.

The Good News is that we don't have to guess at what "better" is and we don't have to wonder how we and the heroes could be made "perfect." We know.

God sent His Son - the ultimate Hero who paid the ultimate price so that we could be made perfect.

Here's the scene that plays out in my imagination: Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and all the others waiting until the virgin conceived and gave birth to a son named Jesus and then giving each other a fist-bump or high-five - "YES! The time has come!"

Let's worship our great Champion on Sunday!

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 25, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-24 [Faith and Hebrews11] Hall of Faith Fame Crescendo


And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. Hebrews11:32-38

Faith can be practised by all sorts:
- Barak who needed Deborah to hold his hand
- Gideon the scaredy-cat from the smallest clan and tribe
- Samson who just made so many mistakes
- David who fell into adultery
- etc.

Faith can:
- conquer kingdoms,
- administer justice, and gained what was promised
- shut the mouths of lions
- quench the fury of the flames,
- escaped the edge of the sword;
- turn weakness to strength
- etc

But faith can cost:
- jeers and flogging,
- chains and prison.
- stoning (and even being sawed in two)
- being put to death by the sword.
- etc

But the world won't be worthy of those who walk by faith - this world will never be our home,

So, you don't have to be perfect - you can come as you are and through faith you might to something great for God.
But it could be costly...

but worth it!

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-23 [Faith and Hebrews11] Rahab: Courage and Insight

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. Hebrews11:31

Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute living in Jericho. When Joshua sent two spies into the city, Rahab hid them under some flax stalks on her roof when the king's men came searching for them.

Listen to what she says to the spies: "I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt..." (Jos2:9-10)

The Israelites had been scared of Jericho because of its strong defences but as it turned out, Jericho's inhabitants were even more afraid of Israel's God.

Rahab is a good reminder that we never face opposition alone. These two spies should have come to a sticky end when they were identified in the city, but God's power and reputation had prepared Rahab's heart and she courageously helped them.

When we read the whole story in Joshua 2, we have to admire Rahab's courage: she commits treason by hiding the spies, she negotiates for her family to be spared and she gives them guidance for hiding in the wilderness for three days to avoid the king's search party. She comes across as a strong and independent woman, but her heart is open enough to recognise the fingerprints of God and to put her trust in Him.

So faith is courage and insight...
She had COURAGE to act and even defy evil. It's interesting that the Hebrew writer sees the people of Jericho as "disobedient" - this implies that they had a choice - as a gateway city they could have allowed the Israelites to pass into the Promised Land, but they didn't. She had INSIGHT to see that God was with the Israelites and she sensed that her future lay with the Israelites, and is recognised in Hebrews and James as a heroine of faith.

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Friday, September 19, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-19 [Faith and Hebrews11] Slow results

By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. Hebrews11:30

Joshua had to lead the Israelites to their first conquest into the promised land and Jericho was a formidable challenge. When he went to survey the territory to come up with a strategy, God met him and gave him the battle plan.

The plan was unorthodox to say the least:
"March around the city once a day for seven days in silence. On the seventh day march around seven times and then shout and the walls will fall."

For the Israelites this must have been excruciating. Once the citizens of Jericho got wise to the fact that they'd do a circuit and then leave, they jeered and booed and the Israelites remained silent.

On the seventh day the mocking must have reached a crescendo as the Israelites had to grit their teeth in the midst of the mocking. It must have been so tempting to yell something back or give them the Hebrew equivalent of the middle finger or some such gesture of defiance.

Sometimes faith is about hanging in there when results are slow or intangible. Sometimes faith is about persevering. Sometimes faith is about going "through the motions" until we are left with nothing but God.

By the time the Israelites had circled the city thirteen times in seven days, they would either have lost faith or gained it. It's clear that the latter was true.

They let out a mighty shout of faith - and their waiting and patience was met with the powerful response of an incredible God!

Maybe you're going through the motions, waiting for God, maybe you're even having doubts about going to worship Him on Sunday. Maybe your doubts are mocking and taunting you...
Take a page from the Israelite's book and hang in there. Faith sometimes has slow results, but when the moment comes the triumph will be great!

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 18, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-18 [Faith and Hebrews11] Stepping out

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. Hebrews11:29

I have mixed feelings when I try to put myself in the shoes of the Israelites who are faced with a parted Red Sea on the one side and an Egyptian army on the other.

On one hand I want to say:
"Let's go! God has done a great miracle! We're saved!"
On the other hand I would argue that the whole ten plagues have been a see-saw of miracle, temporary relief and then a setback when Pharaoh once again hardens his heart. Who knows what could happen here? What if the sea closes up again when we're halfway through?

But the Israelites trusted God and not the water!

It's interesting that the Hebrew writer seems to imply that faith was the key: The Israelites passed through BY FAITH whereas the Egyptians drowned when they tried to pass through (but in their case they lacked faith).

The Egyptians thought they could pass through just because the Israelites did. Even after the plagues they weren't willing to consider this as the work of a God who could cause natural powers (frogs, hail, grasshoppers, etc) to start and stop as He willed. They were so blinded by their arrogance and bloodlust that they DIDN'T EVEN CONSIDER that He could close the waters while they were in the middle.

From the Israelites we learn that faith never has 100% rational certainty on which to base its decision. Faith is always a step of trust. It's often a step into the unknown and we can't always see the outcome with absolute certainty.

From the Egyptians we learn that arrogant, second-hand faith doesn't cut it. In Acts (19:13-18) we read about "seven sons of Sceva" who tried to cast a demon out of a man in the name of "Jesus whom Paul preaches." This earned them a beating at the hands of the demon-possessed man who answered "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" !

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-17 [Faith and Hebrews11] Moses: Waiting and Doing

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. Hebrews11:27-28

Moses let his anger get the better of him when he murdered the Egyptian slave-driver who was beating a fellow-Israelite. This resulted in a forty year exile in Midian, but Moses persevered.

We tend to think that Moses only met God at the burning bush. We tend to think that these forty years were wasted and that it is only when God appeared to him that Moses' life really gained direction. The Hebrews Hall of Fame indicates otherwise: It says that "Moses persevered because he saw Him who is invisible."

This gives another perspective - the burning bush becomes a visible culmination of Moses' long-term trust in an invisible God. Sometimes faith is a patient waiting process!

The other dimension of faith that is portrayed here is the fact that Moses instituted the Passover with its unusual rituals of unleavened bread, bitter herbs and sprinkling of blood on doorposts and lintels because he trusted God.

One is reminded of:
-Naaman who bathed in the Jordan and was healed of Leprosy.
-The blind man who washed in Siloam and was healed.
-The leper who stretched out his hand and was healed.
-The lame man who looked up to Peter and John and was healed.
-The servants who took water from the jars and served up wine
-Peter who threw his net over on the other side and it was filled.

Sometimes faith is waiting and sometimes it is doing.
When we don't hear anything from God, we wait.
When we hear from Him, we must do.

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-16 [Faith and Hebrews11] Moses - Out of the Comfort Zone

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. Hebrews11:24-26

There's a diagram that I have always loved. It has two circles that are not overlapping. One is labelled "Comfort Zone," while the other is labelled "Where the magic happens!"

Moses could have settled in as the son of the Pharaoh's daughter. He could have argued that this privileged position was his by Divine Providence. After all, wasn't it God's hand that brought his basket drifting to the one person who had the compassion and courage to defy Pharaoh's genocide order?

He could have argued that he could make a difference from the inside. He might have argued that he would make use of "quiet diplomacy." He could have continued to enjoy the wealth and privilege of his position and insulate himself from the fate of his people.

The Hebrew writer says that Moses did not linger in the "pleasures of sin." It is most likely that the sin being spoken about is the luxurious living and pagan worship of the Egyptians as well as the denial of the very purpose for which he had been spared. Mordechai's words to Esther come to mind: " And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Est4:14)

And so Moses courageously, if somewhat impulsively, steps out of the comfort zone by going to observe his people. When he sees a fellow Israelite being brutalised, his passion and anger get the better of him and he kills the Egyptian slave driver.

The consequence of this rash action is a 40 year sojourn in Midian while he grows into the person that God would use to set His people free.

But Moses-faith starts with stepping out of the comfort zone...

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Friday, September 12, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-12 [Faith and Hebrews11] Moses - resolving a problem

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. Hebrews11:24-28

Before we can profile Moses' faith, we need to resolve a problem.

The Hebrews Hall of Faith tells us that Moses left Egypt but not because he was afraid of Pharaoh. The account in Exodus is ambiguous in this regard... It reads:
"The man said, 'Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?' Then Moses was afraid and thought, 'What I did must have become known.'
When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well."(Ex.2:14-15)

Some would argue that the Exodus passage implies that Moses was afraid of Pharaoh, others would argue that it does not specifically say that Moses afraid of Pharaoh and that his fear may have been more generic and that he fled to preserve his life and not for fear of Pharaoh.

That's an argument that can go around and around and around. But I think the real solution is found in Moses' return to Egypt... Although it is a different Pharaoh on the throne, Moses is fearless in approaching him repeatedly over the sequence of the the plagues. He is not afraid of Pharaoh at all.

There is a helpful lesson in all of this.
I think we all suffer from generic fear from time to time.
What Hebrews wants to say about Moses is that he didn't fear a person - He didn't let a person eclipse God.
There are times that our fears become personified in a person. This happened to an entire Israelite army when Goliath taunted them. It took a kid with a sling to break the hold he had on them.

The Hebrews writer, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wants to emphasise that Moses wasn't caught up in the fear of a person.

Is there a person you are afraid of at the moment??
Are you in a shadow of a person and is that person blocking your view of God?
End the eclipse! Take some time to remember that God is greater...

Have a blessed weekend!

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 11, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-11 [Faith and Hebrews11] Moses' folks - Defiant Faith

By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. Hebrews11:23

When Moses was born his parents knew there was something special about him. We don't know how they knew - it may have been a vision or a dream or a sign - but they were convinced that they had to do everything possible to save him.

Pharaoh had issued an order to have Hebrew baby boys killed. He backed it up with grim-faced soldiers who would have unflinchingly killed those who stood in their way. In spite of this Moses' parents hid him.


Can you imagine the strain and the tension?
Can you imagine the courage needed?

Then they floated him down the stream in a basket with Moses' sister Miriam following so that when Pharaoh's daughter picked him up, Miriam could offer her mom as a wet-nurse.

Pharaoh's daughter is also defiant - she knows immediately that this is a Hebrew child and she knows of her father's genocidal order. She adopts Moses and raises him in front of her father.

Faith is defiant.

It courageously challenges the status quo and refuses to be intimidated by pressure.

Society's rat race and peer pressure grinds away courage, hope and faith. Let's consider Moses' family: His parents, his sister and his adoptive mother and let's learn from them!

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-10 [Faith and Hebrews11] Moses - An excursus

Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalms90:12

Today we would have started looking at Moses and his parents in the Hebrews Hall of Faith, but I'd like to take an excursus to the one psalm that Moses wrote.

In the Psalm Moses talks about the Lord being a dwelling place and a shelter. He talks about time:
- For God a thousand years is like a day and vice versa
- The length of human life is about 70 years.

And then he reminds us to number our days aright that we gain a heart of wisdom...

Today I will be conducting a funeral. Pierre was a member of our congregation for the last fifteen years and he and I were good friends. Pierre had 12 weeks from diagnosis until his passing. I saw him nearly every day in those 12 weeks and he faced his illness with significant faith and courage. He loved the Lord passionately and his faith gave him courage.

The faith that Moses expresses in this psalm is that while he recognises the brokenness and suffering that is part of our world, he formulates the powerful possibility that life can be lived well and that we can gain a heart of wisdom and that God can establish the work of our hands.

Last night I sat with Pierre's family and friends. We hooted with laughter at some of his antics and shed a few tears at his devotion and love. Pierre's race was short: He was only 57 but he loved and was loved. His life was full and, warts and all, he finished his race running straight into his Father's arms.

Help us Lord, to run the faith race well!

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-09 [Faith and Hebrews11] Faith and the Future

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.

The significant perspective on faith that emerges from our next three characters in the Faith Hall of Fame is that Isaac, Jacob and Joseph were able to trust God into a future that extended beyond themselves.

This is an important quality. As we grow older our tendency is to look back to the the "good old days" and when we look forward, we tend to be cynical and short-sighted.

Isaac, Jacob and Joseph were able to look beyond their own frailty and finitude and trust that God was able to work amazingly and significantly.

It's one thing to be optimistic about a future that we can participate in. It's another to be hopeful for a future where we are no longer able to be in control or play a role.

These three men had seen the ups and downs of life.
They'd seen famine, war and the best and worst of humanity.
Isaac was swindled by his own son.
Jacob was deceived by his sons who led him to believe Joseph was dead.
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, by Potiphar's wife and his fellow prisoner who forgot about him.

But they believed in a future and they believed so strongly that they were bold enough to bless their children and Joseph even gave instructions about his bones.

This kind of faith extends beyond my circle of influence. It is rooted in the goodness and promises of God. It's a faith that recognises that He is the God of yesterday, today AND TOMORROW.

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Friday, September 5, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-05 [Faith and Hebrews11] Pilgrim Aliens and Tent Pegs

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews11:13-16

The Hebrews writer, in talking about Abraham's faith, takes this brief excursus to describe Abraham and those who follow in his footsteps...

They are described as pilgrims, as aliens and those who didn't hammer their tent-pegs in too deep.

People who live by faith:
- believe God's promises and reach for things that are still distant.
- have this hope even on their death-beds.
- realise that they don't belong here and don't try too hard to.
- realise that this world is not the be-all and end-all.
- strive for the ultimate instead of settling in mediocrity.
- don't hold on to earthly things too tightly.
- don't turn back to things that won't last.

These are folk who live in the confidence of God's heavenly kingdom that is already breaking through in our reality but will transcend it.

These are folk who look to a big and majestic God and have their hope and trust in Him. And their faith is not disappointed because the destination is clear: Paul puts it like this:
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love Him --
but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. (1Cor2:9-10)"

This doesn't mean that we are escapist pie-in-the-sky people, it means that we live in faith and trust doing our level best to make a difference as we pass through this life.

Sunday's Sabbath Rest and Worship are good opportunities to get a foretaste of the heavenly country. Don't miss out!
Have a blessed weekend!

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 4, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-04 [Faith and Hebrews11] Stopover: Unclear. Destination: Certain!

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Hebrews11:8-10

Having faith is a mysterious journey!
Our destination is sure, but the stopovers are unclear.

The Hebrews Hall of Faith Fame spends a lot of time commending Abraham. There are three main points of commendation: (Our text reflects one of three points, the passages reflecting the other two points are at the bottom of this dev.)

1. Abraham was called to pack up everything and head into the unknown. Abraham lived a nomad's life because he was certain of his destination in God.

2. Abraham trusted that God would make him into a nation even though Sarah was barren and Abraham was too old to be a dad.

3. When God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham obeyed, believing that God would raise Isaac from the dead in order for the promise to be fulfilled.

In each case the rationale of Abraham's faith is clear: Although the _way_ is uncertain, the _destination_ is certain and sure.

Sometimes we spend too much time trying to figure out the route and the stopovers. Like Abraham we need to be more focussed on the destination: A God who loves us so much that He has given us His Son.

Romans 8:32 says: "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"

Abraham had this clear!

HEB 11:11 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age--and Sarah herself was barren--was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

HEB 11:17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." 19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-09-03 [Faith and Hebrews11] Noah's faith: Calling it like it is.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. Hebrews11:7

It seems the recent movie portrayed Noah (and God) as vengeful and angry. The Bible doesn't tell us a lot about him, but the "Hebrews Hall of Fame" sees Noah differently.

It portrays Noah as one who was sensitive and open enough to see what was coming. It portrays him as building the ark "in holy fear" - a project that probably took years to complete. (The Greek word for "holy fear" suggests more reverence than primal raw fear.)

His faith was courageous. Imagine the dialogue:
"Hey Noah what are you doing?"
"Oh I'm building an ark for me and my family because God is going to flood the world because of all the wicked people."
"Are you saying I'm wicked?"

There are times that we have to call it like it is.
There are huge pressures to be politically correct and to swallow all sorts of unacceptable practices in the name of tolerance. Unfortunately we don't speak out about right and wrong any more.

While I realise that many of the yesteryear stone-throwers were not without sin, I wonder if our current culture of silence on critical moral issues doesn't simply indicate consent. It seems to me that the intellectual "vibe of tolerance" is just another emperor's garment that we try to clothe ourselves in.

This doesn't mean that we have to be abrasive and nasty. It doesn't give us permission to be holier-than-thou and judgemental. It is possible to hold a firm moral position in a gracious way.

Ryan Dobson, son of James Dobson, wrote a book entitled: "Be Intolerant: Because Some Things Are Just Stupid"
Noah called it for what it was because he esteemed God's ways higher than the current trends and fashions.
I think Ryan and Noah might become good friends in eternity...

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/