This should have never happened. God had warned the Israelites over and over again of the dangers of following other gods. In his list of Ten Commandments, “You shall have no other god before me” comes first. But they broke that commandment and suffered from it. Could any of them have understood the ultimate cost for their disobedience?
Do we yet?
I have to confess a great deal of apprehension over this message. The language is harsh (maybe not harsh enough). The content is a heavy R rating. The story is simply heartbreaking.
As with other “Examples,” there was a lot of material I didn’t really have time to share. I almost left out the explanation of the child sacrifice to Baal, and definitely could have said more. I considered explaining that “hanging” actually meant “impaling.” Streamlining the sermon kept me from heading off into those directions, though.
Bringing it back to Christ was paramount. I was glad to be able to do that on several levels. First of all, Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 10:11, “…on whom the end of the ages has come.“ Christ is the “Fulfillment of the Ages” so these examples can’t just point us away from evil, they must also point us towards Christ.
And, of course, there’s the connection with hanging on a tree. How could I not bring Christ into that?
In fact, what’s really amazed my listeners–the comment I’m getting week-after-week–is how I’m able to bring these Old Testament stories back to Christ. As a preacher, it’s one of those things that I realize should happen (Jesus himself says so in John 5:39). For my hearers it seems to be confirmation of the centrality of Jesus to the Bible.
Next week I finish up this series with the story of the sin of Achan from Joshua 7. It’s another one that’s not included in Paul’s list. When I first thought of this series, though, it was probably the first one on my mind. As I get closer to delivering it, though, I wonder what was I thinking?!?! Why did I want to preach THAT?!?!
Oh well . . . we’ll see how it goes. 🙂