Community Group Questions 5/19/13

Evidence Series Artwork [vimeo 66498463 w=500 h=281]

Announcements:

  • New Women’s Ministry Study
    • On June 12 our Women’s Ministry is starting a new 6-week study!
    • The study will be Wednesday nights from 7-9PM as we study "Jonah - Navigating a Life Interrupted" by Priscilla Shirer.
    • Study guides will be available for $15 each at the study.
    • If you have any further questions please contact Melissa Mashburn at melissamashburn@westpines.org
  • Kids Summer Serve
    • We have a fantastic Kids Ministry that is going on right now during our services on Sunday morning. And we have a new opportunity for you this summer in the Kids Ministry:Kids Summer Serve.
    • We’ve created some new positions that will run during the summer, from Memorial Day to Laborl Day. We want to give you an opportunity to try out serving in the Kids Ministry, and this is the best way to do it.
    • All of the positions serve every other week, so that means it’s a commitment to serve for 7 or 8 times this summer.
    • If you’re interested in serving, or in wearing a rubber ducky swimmy like this, write Kids Summer Serve on your Connection Card or stop by the Kids Guest Services today after the service.

Sermon Title:Evidence, Part 7: The Case of a Crazy Old Testament

Main Text: Deuteronomy 21:18-21, 22-23,18:18-19

Topics:

  • One of the questions that we get as Christians often get asked is what about all the crazy parts of the Old Testament. Aren’t there a bunch of crazy laws we should be practicing? And doesn’t seem like God is so harsh in the Old Testament? What are we supposed to do with those things? These are issues that Christians shouldn’t sweep under the rug but deal with head on.
  • As a test case we will look at what may be the craziest law of the Old Testament. When we examine this law we will learn principles that we sometimes neglect when we look at other parts of the Old Testament.
  • In Deuteronomy 21:18-25 there is a law that states:
    • If there is a son who is hopelessly rebellious and not responding to discipline
    • Then the parents are to take them to the elders of the city
    • They say: he is a glutton and a drunkard
    • Then the men of the city stone the son to death
    • The purpose of this law is stated at the end: to purge Israel of evil, and to be a warning to Israel.
  • Wow! That is harsh. It is hard to read that and not question the one who came up with that law. And when we realize it is in the Bible, we realize it’s God’s law. Can the Bible be trusted? Can God be trusted?
  • Let’s look closer at the law and first make sure we understand the law.
    • First of all notice that this is not a first offense kind of thing. This is not for a son who misses a curfew. This is for one who has completely disregarded his parents authority despite all of their discipline attempts. This is a hopeless situation
    • Secondly, notice that the language the parents use is “a glutton and a drunkard.” This law is not for small children. It is for young adults
    • Thirdly, notice the build in checks and balances. It is the parents who would charge their own child. It is not something that can be forced on them in reference to their child. But at the same time they bring the child before the elders, at the gates (in public). So there parents could not abuse this either.
    • Lastly, notice that this law was to serve as a deterrent and warning to the people.
  • So for starters, we need to make sure we understand the law. This is not for first offenses, this is not for mild disobedience, this is not for little children, and it is not something that parents just do on their own, this is not something that is forced on families.
  • It is worthwhile to note that there is no account through the Old Testament of this law being carried out.
  • That clears up the law a little, but it still seems so foreign and harsh for us! What are we supposed to do with it.
  • FIRST this law was not intended for us to practice.
    • For one, there is no way it could be practiced today. This is in contrast to the laws and structures of our society. There are no elders to take a rebellious son to.
    • BUT even more important, this law WAS NOT INTENDED for us to put into practice today.
    • In Deut 18:18 God promises that one will come like Moses with God’s words, and that we are to listen to them. In Ezekiel 36 God says that one day, He would fill us with the Holy Spirit so we would know how to live for Him. Other places in the Old Testament God talks about a new covenant that He will bring.
    • Then we see in the New Testament that Jesus fulfills these passages. He fulfills the law and interprets it for us. So these laws were intended for their time, and Jesus would one day come and fulfill them. They are not for us in the same way today.
    • God does not intend these civil laws, to be followed by us today.
  • But doesn’t this still seem so harsh? That brings us to our next point.
  • SECOND, we have to understand the law in it’s original context.
    • Why would God have this law? Think about this: isn’t there times that a child may be receive a more severe consequence for the same act but done in a different circumstance? For example a situation where child disobeys and throws his peas at his sister, is handled differently than when a child disobeys and runs out into the street into traffic. Sometimes the context determines the severity of a law.
    • A hopelessly rebellious youth in our context can have severe consequences: a drunk driving accident, a drug overdose, an act of violence.
    • But in their context the stakes were significantly higher. One act by one member of the society could destroy the entire nation. In Judges one man, Achan stole from a city and the entire people of Israel lost a battle because of it. Thousands were killed. Their destinies were linked.
    • A son completely defying the authority of his parents, is defying the authority of the community and defying the authority of God. And that could be fatal to the entire community.
    • And if the community of Israel is in jeopardy, the fate of the world is literally in jeopardy. It is the Messiah that will come from Israel. Israel must be preserved.
  • But it still seems harsh. Isn’t God supposed to be loving and gracious and forgiving? He’s supposed to be gracious like a kind grandfather. That brings us to our THIRD point.
  • THIRD, we want a God who deals JUSTICE.
    • It is hard for us to want God to be a God of fierce wrath, until we’ve personally felt the terror of the world’s evil. Only then will we know that for God to be loving, He has to have a fierce anger against evil.
    • Miroslav Volf a Yale theologian from Croatia said this:“I used to think that wrath was unworthy of God. Isn’t God love? Shouldn’t divine love be beyond wrath? God is love, and God loves every person and every creature. That’s exactly why God is wrathful against some of them. My last resistance to the idea of God’s wrath was a casualty of the war in the former Yugoslavia, the region from which I come. According to some estimates, 200,000 people were killed and over 3,000,000 were displaced. My villages and cities were destroyed, my people shelled day in and day out, some of them brutalized beyond imagination, and I could not imagine God not being angry. Or think of Rwanda in the last decade of the past century, where 800,000 people were hacked to death in one hundred days! How did God react to the carnage? By doting on the perpetrators in a grandfatherly fashion? By refusing to condemn the bloodbath but instead affirming the perpetrators’ basic goodness? Wasn’t God fiercely angry with them? Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.”
    • Fierce anger in response to evil is a product of a love. We have to trust that God is justly angry and responds appropriately to evil in this world.
  • LASTLY, this law points to God’s incredible mercy.
    • Notice what the very next law is about in verses 22-23. It says that anyone who is hanged on a tree is cursed. In Galatians 3:13 it says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”
    • What does that law have to do with the law of a rebellious son? In Matthew 11:19, it says that Jesus was called a “glutton and a drunkard.”
    • There is a commonality here. Ultimately how God will offer up His Son, Jesus to be executed. Jesus will be called a glutton and a drunkard even though He was innocent. He will be a curse. He will be hanged on a tree. God will one day give up His Son to purge us of our rebellion!
  • How do we answer someone who is asking us about these tough passages:
    • 1) According to the Bible these laws are not for us.
    • 2) These laws were designed for the context that they were in.

Key Questions:

  1. What was the highest point of your week and the lowest point of your week?
  2. What are weird things that are hard to understand in the Old Testament?
  3. Think through various contexts like parenting, the workplace, the military, etc. What is an example of how the same type of disobedience may deserve a more strict consequence in a different context?
    1. i.e.disobeying and throwing peas vs. disobeying and stepping into traffic
  4. Read Deuteronomy 21:18-21
  5. How does this passage seem to go against the character of God?
  6. How might rebellion in their context warrant a stricter consequence than in our context?
  7. How might their context warrant a stricter punishment for a hopelessly rebellious child?
  8. What are some of the things you heard in the message that help you better understand this law?
  9. What is the check and balance system embedded in this law?
  10. What was the purpose of this law as it is stated at the end?
  11. Read Deuteronomy 21:22-23
  12. How do these two laws taken together ultimately point to Christ?
  13. How would you respond to someone who asked you about this passage?

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