Ancient Cliff Notes
series: Red Letter City
date: May 22, 2016
teacher: Jacob Bender
scriptures: 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, Matthew 5:27-32, Matthew 19:1-9, Genesis 2:24, Genesis 2:18, Genesis 1:31, Isaiah 1:8, 1 Corinthians 7, Malachi, Jeremiah 3:8, Hebrew 4:15, Isaiah 61, Leviticus 16
In that day, there were two schools of thought that dominated their culture… Two Rabbi’s who lived just before Jesus’ ministry, and they each had two very different yokes. Two very different interpretations of the scriptures, and a lot of the debates in that day, which Jesus was essentially throwing himself into the middle of, in the sermon on the mount… basically were asking this question…
which yoke is it?
Is it Hillel?
Or is it Shammai?
Hillel was always the more liberal one… the burden was extremely light, his yoke was incredibly easy, and normally erred on the side of peoples welfare. He was immensely popular, and was at one point the president of the Sanhedrin (which was like the Jewish Supreme Court).
The other well known Rabbi was Shammai, who tended to be much more conservative… more strict in his interpretation.
So the people would read this verse in Deuteronomy… and they would consider the Ketubahs that they signed their name on…
And what people wanted to know is: what gets me out? Because only a rabbi had the authority to get you out of your marriage, so the question is, “on what grounds will you give me a certificate of divorce?”
And Hillel’s yoke essentially said: indecency is indecency. If she spoils a dish that she is preparing, you can leave. If she burns your toast, and you want out, I will sign your certificate of divorce. Basically his interpretation says, “if you want out, just get out. I will give you a certificate of divorce.”
it was very lax.
But Shammai held a much more strict interpretation. He said, essentially, “no, we can’t do that to women, you can’t throw them out because of burnt toast or because of a bad day… you can only divorce your wife if there is marital unfaithfulness.”
So the people in that day knew what these two rabbi’s thought, and they wanted to know, what does Jesus say?
series: Red Letter City
teacher: Jacob Bender
date: May 15, 2016
scriptures: Matthew 5:27-30, Matthew 23:3, Matthew 23:25, Matthew 23:27, Luke 8:17, Luke 12:3, Romans 2:16, Genesis 39, Jeremiah 7:30-31, Ephesians 2:10, Luke 22:15, Psalm 51:10, James 1:17.
I remember picking up my kids from school on Spring afternoon... it was just a beautiful day outside and we were driving home. and on the way home, there is this stop sign at Gratiot that we have to stop at and sometimes its really easy to turn onto Gratiot and other times its a total zoo… so much traffic just flying by and the only way to merge onto the street is to turn into the left turn lane and then make your way over… it was one of those days… and even after I had merged into the lane, it only took a little while before the side of traffic I was on came to almost a stop, just tons of cars, and on the other side cars were just FLYING by.
and I looked over, and standing in the middle lane, the left turn lane, was a man just standing there on his phone, laughing. Just standing there in the middle of traffic. He wasn’t really even trying to cross the street, he looked like he was just enjoying a conversation in the middle of traffic, hanging out between the yellow lines. People were trying to get into the left lane from both directions and he was preventing them. It was almost like he didn’t even notice what it was that he was surrounded by… like he didn’t hear the horns or understand the frustration he was causing actual drivers whom that part of the road is supposed to belong to.
He was so engaged in the world of his seemingly happy conversation, that he paid no attention to the potentially deadly environment that he was literally standing in the center of himself, or the way it messed up other people just trying to get through their commute. and I merged onto the highway and moved on, uncertain of what happened to that guy. But I know this. What he was doing was causing grief and frustration to others… probably unbeknownst to him. and if someone who needed to turn got over and didn’t see him…
he wouldn’t be laughing on the phone anymore.
It had the potential to fall apart very quickly.
It was a fine line he was walking on, one that he willingly gave up a certain level of control over his own safety for, to engage in this moment privately on the phone, yet surrounded by hundreds of cars who could take him out at any moment whether on purpose or on accident. I think that sometimes we find ourselves in trouble, and we don’t even realize it. We don’t realize that we are hurting others. We don’t realize the danger that we are in. We are think things like, “Oh, it is only in my mind… it will never go beyond this… and its not hurting anyone.” and we forget that devastating reality behind iniquity…
“whatever your eye hooks to, multiplies.”
and you can think that you have your own little private life in your head and think that its not affecting anyone but I assure you, that as whatever your eye hooks to, begins to multiple your life will begin to change. And you may not notice it right away, but it will wear on those around you. It will cause grief to people and they may not even be able to figure out why. But the truth is… that the reason that Jesus deals so dramatically with the Spirit of the law is because he knows that where your thoughts go… and what you dwell on, is a window into what you are becoming.
So Jesus says “lets cut this off at the source.”
series: the narrative of grace
title: women of the narrative
teacher: Jacob Bender
date: November 29, 2015
scripture: Matthew 1:3, Hebrews 11:31, James 1:27, Hosea 4:14, Romans 12:19, Genesis 38,
A lot of people talk about Justice. It is something that is very close to the heart of God, but I think that a lot of people talk about it, without even knowing what it is that they are talking about.
I have, in recent months answered questions about what I believe the church should be, and what I believe is important, by talking about Justice. And often when I start talking about that, people get a bit uncomfortable. They are not quite sure how to respond to me, because they don’t understand what I am talking about. They think I mean vengeance.
It is very easy to confuse the two. Vengeance, in Hebrew is the word “naqam” which essentially just means vengeance, – Holmans Bible Dictionary tells it slightly differently when it defines it as “to avenge” or “to be punished”
The idea is to get back at someone… to make them hurt more than you hurt because what they did to you hurt.
It is an anti-gospel that many of us at times have adopted when we allow our emotions or our politics to shape our convictions rather than the truth found in the word of God.
But if you were to ask me, “What is important to you?” and I were to answer “Vengeance” – run. Any pastor who would say that, get as far away from them as you can.
Vengeance is a poison.
The bible says we must never, ever take vengeance. It says vengeance is the Lords (Romans 12:19) but it says that we must seek and defend Justice. Isaiah 1:17 says “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
The word Justice in Hebrew is the word tsadaq
it literally means “to have a just cause, OR to be in the right, or WHAT IS RIGHT…”
Justice is the right thing to do.
Thats the definition. The right thing to do.
My entire life growing up was always about abstaining. What am I not doing? Am I pure? Do I lust? Do I sin? and there is absolutely no justifying sin, there is no justifying what Tamar did, or what Rahab did, or what David and the wife of Uriah did… There is no justifying sex in any context outside of a marriage, there is no justifying doing any of those things, but I have found, for me, in all my efforts to not do things, I didn’t do much of anything for other people, at all.
In my little “mission” of staying away from the sinful things I got so caught up in that, that I didn’t notice people who were hurting.
I always noticed people when they were sinning.
I was really good at that. I always knew when people were doing what they weren’t supposed to be doing.
But I didn’t notice the stranger.
I didn’t think about the stranger. I thought about my friends. I didn’t entertain angels. I entertained my friends! I entertained people who knew me and had something to offer me, and who made me feel comfortable.
and though those things are all great, if your life is limited to only that, then that is not the right thing.
You know, the bible is full of stories of people who did the wrong thing. Paul talked about it constantly. He said he always did what he didn’t want to do…
King David and the wife of Uriah, they did the wrong thing. And an affair lead to a cover-up, and then lead to murder. But even King David’s mess of a life culminated at grace. It culminated at God looking at him and saying “That is a man after my own heart…. a man who does ALL that I say”
Every instance of people doing the wrong thing all throughout the bible is met with grace.
Because the entire gospel of Jesus Christ is that:
We are people who do the wrong thing.
Yet the bible speaks over and over of a God who is extremely gracious to people who do the wrong thing.
But it seems that He is far less gracious toward the people who do NOT do the right thing (JUSTICE).
The people who ignore justice, when it is right in front of them. The harshest judgments are set aside for them. James 4:17 puts it mildly when it says that “for him who knows what he ought to do, to not do it is a sin.” And Matthew 25 speaks of the harshest judgments going to the ones who ignore injustice.
Yet we focus on the sin part.
title: idols & adultery
teacher: Jacob Bender
date: September 27, 2015
scriptures: Exodus 20, Judges 2:1-5, Psalm 37:4, Judges 2:11-13, Jeremiah 5:7, Jeremiah 3:8, Exodus 32, Exodus 34, John 8:1-11, Isaiah 45:2, 2 Corinthians 5:17
Exodus 34:14 says this: “(For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),”
Now, when the Ten Commandments were given the first time, the second command said this same thing… I am a jealous God. But the second time it is given, it actually says “the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
That seemed like grounds for digging a little deeper.
The word Jealous, is a peculiar name for God. It is the Hebrew word qanna’ (can-ah), it is a word that only speaks of God and is not used in human terms, and it means that “God doesn’t bear any rivals” another translation puts the verse this way: “For you must worship no other gods, but only Jehovah, for he is a God who claims absolute loyalty and exclusive devotion.” (The Living Bible)
Its like in a marriage. If my wife says, “Hey, I am going out with Steve today.” Heck no, you aren’t going out with Steve today. Who is Steve? It doesn’t even matter. You aren’t going to be spending time with other dudes. She could say to me, “we are just friends, and you hate going shopping and Steve is cool with it.”
Now, She would never do that, but that would be the automatic response from me if it ever came up. I wouldn’t even need a moment to think about it. The answer is no. I am jealous for her… but it is not because of this Steve guy, or anybody else. It is all because of Dawn.
I am jealous for her, no matter what she is doing. Because I do not bear competitions. I do not bear rivals. I already won this one, and nobody else even has a chance.
It is obvious that most people would never deal with a marriage to a spouse who was constantly unfaithful, yet that is exactly what God continuously went through over and over and over again with the Hebrew people.
The word adultery, in Hebrew as it is used in Exodus 20:14 is the word na’aph (nah apth) and it means “to break wedlock.” or the obvious translation is what it is translated as, simply, “to commit adultery.”
But what is fascinating is that it is the same Hebrew word used in Jeremiah 3:8 and Jeremiah 5:7 when it says that Israel “committed adultery” against God by their idol worship.
And I also thought that this was interesting:
Most people (who have put any thought into it) assume that the English word adultery comes from the word adult. Like, “maybe this is a bad thing, but we are adults, so if it is consensual…”
But it actually comes from the Latin word adulterare, which means “to alter, or corrupt.”
This is not an “adult” thing to do, in fact it is incredibly immature. You are altering the design that God created… You are corrupting what was supposed to be. You are corrupting what God created it to be.
Adultery is an incredibly hard top to talk about. Its a hard topic to study, or to even convince yourself that you need to study it, but God put it in the Ten Commandments for a reason… because this hits home, in one way or another, for just about everyone. And God himself is not excluded from that.
Series: The Fruit of the Spirit
Teacher: Jacob Bender
Date: August 23, 2015
scriptures: 2 Timothy 2:13, Genesis 15:6, Exodus 17, Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, James 2:26, 2 Corinthians 8:1-7, John 13, 1 Peter 2:2-5, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:44, John 12:27, Galatians 5, John 18, Hebrews 13:8
Faithfulness, as Paul uses it in Galatians 5 when listing the Fruit of the Spirit, is the Greek word pistis and it means “The character of one who can be relied on.”
The hack on the “Ashley Madison” website that was released this week was a pile of evidence (30 million users of evidence) as to how much our society does not value faithfulness. How much we lack pistis. The thing that bothered me so so much, and still does, about this website and the fact that it had so many users, is this: we have grown so incredibly numb to what a covenant even means in our society, that we have millions of people literally getting on a website and strategically looking for ways to break their promise to the person who is supposed to be their closest and most valued friend in all the world, and that is literally beyond my comprehension. The fact that this sight even existed, much less gained that much traction, is absolutely devastating to me.
But one thing that we have to remember in this extreme example of where we are as a society, is that we, as Christians, are citizens of a different kingdom… and we have been trusted with the gospel… the joy news that the war is over, that a new kingdom has been established, and that everyone is invited.
What that means for the Ashley Madison hack is this: There are a LOT of hurting people right now, who need the church to be FAITHFUL to them. The reality is, that sin has a cost, and the reality is, that what is done in darkness ALWAYS eventually comes to the light… and that day has come for everyone who was a registered user of that website.
But it is crucial, now, that the church responds by demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit toward the individuals caught in the act of adultery.
We talked during the “Goodness” message, about the woman caught in the act of adultery… and how Jesus petitioned on behalf of those who were guilty. I really believe that the Holy Spirit dropped that little thought on me last week (maybe to prepare my heart for how to respond this week to this news) about what Jesus was writing in the sand. That if he wanted us to know what he was writing…. If Jesus wanted us to know what the Pharisees had to see to cause them to walk away, he would have made sure it was written in the account.
But what if the reason he left it open, was so that we could apply it to our lives? What would you need to see written in the sand, that would make you lay down your stones and walk away… that would make you realize, “I am just as guilty?”
The Ashley Madison website is a reminder to how much our society does not value faithfulness. And the hack release is all the more evidence that what we do in secret will always be brought to the light sooner or later.
But it also needs to be a reminder to the Christian community that in a world that lacks faithfulness, it needs some people who still have it. Peoples marriages are in trouble because of this (obviously, they were in trouble before they got caught) but there is something different that is happening now. Their darkest decisions are now completely in the light.
People who made big mistakes are going to need people who will stand by them, not because what they did was okay, because it is not… But because at the end of the day, we are all just as guilty.
Remember, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane was Faithful to his friends even though they were not faithful to him. Even though they couldn’t stay awake for one hour, even though he knew that Peter would deny him three times the following day… When the guards came for Jesus, he said (John 18:8) “If you seek me, let these men go.” – He said to the guards, “You can’t take my friends… do what you will with me.” Even in his darkest hour, Jesus’ faithfulness shined so bright. He drank the whole cup of wrath for the price of our sin. All the dregs and seeds and backwash. All the adultery and failed marriages and abortions and lies. All the unfaithfulness. All the works of the flesh that we are all guilty of, sometimes on a daily basis.
Let today be an opportunity for us to be more faithful than we ever have been before.