title: The Exchange (Part One)
teachers: Jacob & Dawn Bender
date: February 10, 2019
scriptures: Romans 1:18-25, Genesis 1:28, Psalm 106:19-23
Paul, in the book of Romans, says some of the most difficult passages that we read in the entire Bible. A great example of that is Romans 1:18-25, as well as the verses that follow. The idea is about an “exchange” - and if you are unfamiliar with the Old Testament, there are a lot of different ways that you could read that.
But Paul quotes the Old Testament 51 times in the book of Romans alone, and some of those verses that seem to be the most difficult, he actually is getting from someplace else. For example, the exchange. When Paul says in Romans 1:22-23 “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” He is quoting Psalm 106:20, a passage about how God wanted to destroy Israel because they exchanged the glory of God for a Golden Calf that they made with their hands.
But this verse reveals something important about the way that Christians should live their lives in a world that has, it seems, gone totally mad.
We should be like Moses.
And by that, I mean that we should do what the Psalmist says that Moses does… it says that God would have destroyed Israel, had not Moses stood in the breach and stopped him. The “breach” is the Hebrew word “perets” - it is the gap between what the people deserve (wrath) and the guilty people. In Ezekiel, God actually looks for someone who is willing to stand in the gap on behalf of the sinful city, and he couldn’t find anyone. Moses, out of love for Israel, petitioned God to be merciful and to spare them, to not let his wrath fall on them and because of Moses’ faithfulness, God spared Israel.
If you are familiar with the story that the Psalmist is quoting, you know that when Moses found Israel worshipping an idol, he was very mad. It would have been easy to agree with God, to have wrath fall on Israel and start all over with a new group of people who would be more faithful. But even though Moses saw that Israel was wrong, and that they had exchanged the glory of God for a stupid idol, and even though Moses knew that this totally went against the design that God had for Israel, he still chose to love his people enough to stand up for them, knowing that they are wrong.
Jesus did the same thing in John 8, with the woman caught in adultery. So when we do the same for the people in our lives who have exchanged the truth about God for whatever lie they bought into, we are bearing the image of Christ. If we get this right, it will be a lot easier to understand the things that are coming up next in this letter of Paul,