We’re starting to see a pattern in Jesus’ messages to the churches. Today we learn what he wants to tell the church in Pergamum. He comes to them as a sharp two-edged sword. You may recall a similar reference to the Word of God in Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:17. The Word is Jesus, as John opens his gospel. Jesus is truth. Therefore, the Word is truth. We’ll see a focus on standing strong on the Word of God in today’s message.
Jesus commends these people for standing strong despite the evil surrounding them, tempting them. That can be hard. We can probably identify with what it feels like to see messages in the world that are contrary to our Christian values and beliefs. We see how what we hold dear can be trampled on and made ugly by people’s own misunderstandings. It can be difficult to stand strong for God in the face of hostility or fear. Usually, we encounter the fear of not being accepted. Do we ever avoid tough conversations so that we can be “politically correct?”
When I think of a song, my mind goes first to the tune. Then I focus on the lyrics. When both the tune and the lyrics are powerful, the song is so much more memorable. Moses’ song appears to be lyrics only. The tune can always be added later. Isn’t it amazing how you can remember lyrics from songs you learned as a kid? I am always amazed when my husband, David breaks into song, only to find out it’s a song from the 60’s or one he played in a garage band back in the day.
God was brilliant when he had Moses write down a song to help the people remember. It’s a great learning tool. I’ve learned many Bible verses that way. Put them to a melody. As a worship leader, I’ve also learned many songs along the way only to find out later as I’m reading through the Bible that it was Scripture I was singing. I love those a-ha moments!
This whole idea of being unclean seems a little foreign to us today. It would be easy to say being unclean is when people need a shower or forget their deodorant. We may even picture a vagrant on the street who hasn’t changed their clothes in weeks. But in Biblical terms, being unclean was a state of being “unworthy” of being in God’s presence due to some circumstance, action, or lack of action, etc. When you were unclean, you were not allowed access to God and often shunned by the community.
It was interesting to see the different things that Moses declared deemed you unclean. Eunuchs, illegitimate children (and their descendants), Ammonites and Moabites (and their descendants), and men having wet dreams. This was the short list. Clearance and exclusion from this list were the Edomites and Egyptians. But the Ammonites and Moabites were also distant relatives of the Israelites, being from the family of Lot (Abraham’s nephew). But the promise to be God’s people was given to Jacob, several generations beyond.
This passage has some bigger chunks of wisdom. Solomon
paints a little more of a picture into the wisdom he imparts. I wasn’t sure at first
what to reflect on. There are recurring themes here. After some discussion with
my husband, discernment has finally come. We’ll focus on verses 29-35. I am
reminded of the years we spent involved with Celebrate Recovery ministry, as
well as the words of David’s sermon yesterday on being shackled to our sin.
We all have addictions of some kind or habits or hang-ups
that are interfering with our life in some way. Chances are good our relationship
with God takes a hit when we desire things other than him. Today’s passage speaks
of the abuses of alcohol. That isn’t something everyone struggles with, however
it is only the outward “remedy” for a hurt much deeper inside. We all have our
remedies to help us forget the pain.
We know that committing adultery (sleeping with someone else’s
spouse) is one of God’s top 10 commandments he forbids us to do. Our text continues
from yesterday’s theme of promiscuous sex and goes into more detail about what
happens when we commit adultery. It is certainly not a pretty picture.
We are also encouraged to listen to our parents. They may
not be perfect, but they have lived longer than we have and have been given wisdom
we have not yet attained. Godly parents, who have followed the words of
Scripture, are even more of a treasure. So, what about parents who don’t know
God’s ways? Are all of their children supposed to rely on them?