Saturday, November 11, 2006

I "Went Off" Wednesday in Old Testament History

My syllabus originally called for a test over the book of Numbers. I canceled that test, and in its place will have a take home open book/open Bible test over both Numbers and Deuteronomy due by the end of next week. I could have introduced the book of Deuteronomy, but that was on my syllabus for Thursday, so I did an integration lecture over Numbers.

To be honest, though I tied it to the book of Numbers, my motivation was from outside influences. I was really disappointed in the results of the Amendment 2 initiative on the Missouri ballot. To say that I do not care about the the win/loss of individual politicians may not be totally true. I do, however, care much more about some of the issues. The Missouri Stem-cell Initiative passed with a 51% majority. The language on the ballot, when compared to the text of the amendment, was misleading. If I were to go solely based on the text that was printed on the ballot, I would have voted in favor of the amendment. I have read the entire text of the amendment (which was not only misleading, but downright deceptive!).

I tell you that, so that you will understand that I was already in a saddened mood. Add to that the effects of the demise of Ted Haggard, high-profile pastor of a large church in Colorado, whose accusations may have been motivated from political motivations. Haggard was also the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and circulated among the elite and the powerful. Ironically, on his last Sunday in the pulpit, he preached a sermon laden with political ramifications, where he prayed a prayer that was probably answered differently than he might have thought:

“Heavenly Father give us grace and mercy, help us this next week and a half as we go into national elections and Lord we pray for our country. Father we pray lies would be exposed and deception exposed. Father we pray that wisdom would come upon our electorate…” (Text taken from David Kuo's blog, but the emphasis on the words of the prayer are mine)

Though I cannot know what was in his mind as he prayed those words, I doubt that he was asking God to reveal his own lies and deception. Haggard has been removed from his pastorate at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, and has stepped down as the head of the NAE. I shared his story with my OT History class, and even read Haggard's letter of confession to New Life Church (it is worth reading). I wanted them to understand how easy it is to become so puffed up with pride, spiritual or otherwise, and to believe that they are not subject to the same rules as the rest of us.

You might ask me how that has anything to do with the book of Numbers. In the desert, the Israelites were blessed tremendously by God, even though they grumbled and murmured against Him and and against Moses, their God-appointed leader. Toward the end of their wanderings, they fell into sexual immorality (chapter 25). This episode was engineered by a prophet, Balaam, who has a pretty bad rap in the New Testament, for among other things, loving the wages of wickedness (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 11; Revelation 2:14).

Though sexual immorality is not the gravest of all sins, it is, nonetheless, sin. When a Christian leader is guilty of sexual sin, the world mocks Christians as hypocrites, and the name of Christ is dragged through the mud. And I am angered, because the enemy of Christ wins a battle which he should have lost!

I read from 1 Corinthians chapter 10, words that remember the Israelite's desert experience from the book of Numbers:

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.”8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13, NIV)

It's time for real Christians to behave like real Christians. Soli Deo Gloria!


No comments: