The tabernacle is finally dedicated – Exodus chapter 40. The conclusion of the book of Exodus. But what will go on to happen to that tent after it becomes a Temple during Solomon’s reign? This week in UNCONVINCED we’ll take a quick tour of the history of the Jerusalem Temple, what became of it when Jesus arrived and why it’s role was made obsolete in the plan of Yahweh.
This week’s resource sheet – click here: Week 12 Handout
Come out for the concluding installment of Exodus for the Unconvinced. We meet during the second hour in the Atrium along the north wall. Mind the construction this week! We’re moving things around.
Come on out this week at UNCONVINCED where we’ll have College Pastor Jared Kliewer as our guest presenter. We’re continuing our series on Yahweh versus Jesus. As always we scan the pages of our Old Testament looking for tough questions modern readers are bound to have. Come join us in the Atrium at 10:45 Sunday morning at Christ Community Church.
Here’s the link to Week 11: capital punishent – week 11 handout
How can you say that? The Decalogue (10 Commandments) are the very words of Yahweh, given to the Israelites through Moses atop a smoking hot Mt. Horeb! This is serious! The Ten Things were the core foundation of the whole Mosaic covenant! When Moses shattered them in front of the people as a reaction to their idolatry, hearts stopped! Breaking these ended everything!
Click here for this session’s resource sheet: Week 10 Handout
Of course we know the rest of the story. Yahweh and the people reconcile through Moses’ humble and daring leadership. He trudges back down the mountain with two fresh copies of the Decalogue. Everything was back on track. Until Jesus came and blew everyone’s minds.
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mar 12:28-31 NIV).
In Jesus’ view, as important as the Decalogue was and is yet today, there was something even more foundational. Love for God. Jesus promotes the Shema over the Decalogue as THE most important. 10 Commandment quoting Christians today might do well to rethink their fundamentalism. Without diminishing the importance of the 10 Things, Jesus gives us a single unifying mandate of love.
This week we’ll discuss among other things why Christians tend to be so legalistic and how the Greatest Commandment is in such dire need today in order to restore our credibility to a world dying for real love. Come on out and join us at UNCONVINCED. We meet in the Atrium at Christ Community during the second service starting at 10:45.
Ok, so last week in UNCONVINCED we talked about slavery. This week, we’re digging in again on another thorny question for the Old Testament. Women. Why didn’t God seem to give them equal treatment? Everyone knows that just because polygamy happened in the Old Testament doesn’t mean God approved of it. But just like with the slavery issue, we can certainly imagine God being clearer, sooner about his will. It seems like God tolerates polygamy. A few other frequently cited imbalances in the Old Testament:
1- Why is nearly every verse of Leviticus 18 written with an implicit male audience? Shouldn’t scripture speak with more parity to men and women?’
2- Why aren’t there any commandments demanding proof of men’s virginity before marriage rites are granted (Deut 22)?
3- Why do so many really famous men in the Old Testament seem to get away with adultery – shouldn’t David have been stoned (along with Bathsheba by the way) if Mosaic law were followed in his case 2 Sam 11-12?
4- Why is the valuation amount for males greater than that for females in Leviticus (below)?
5- Why are all the priests Yahweh assigns to the tabernacle male? Exod 28-29
Download resource sheet here: Week 9 Resource Sheet
Come on out and join in the discussion. We’ll start with a look at both sides of the issue. There are several notable exceptions to Old Testament patriarchy that we’ll consider. We’ll compare what the Old Testament has to say about women. And we’ll review an idea we discussed last week: Redemptive Movement Hermeneutic. Each week UNCONVINCED meets in the Atrium at Christ Community Church at 10:45.
NIV Leviticus 271-4″ The LORD said to Moses,2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate a person to the LORD by giving the equivalent value, set the value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel; for a female, set her value at thirty shekels.”
The most obvious answer to this week’s UNCONVINCED question is that Yahweh didn’t really HAVE to condemn slavery. Didn’t he say enough about slavery by delivering the Israelites from 430 years of oppression in Egypt?
But it still comes up in conversations from time to time. If God could give what ever laws and statutes he desired, why not be completely clear about it? “No slavery of any kind, People!” Why leave it so open to interpretation? It’s fairly common knowledge that Christian slave owners in the antebellum south often quoted the apostle Paul in their justifications for slavery:
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” (Eph 6:5 NIV)
Turns out there are good reasons why God did it this way – in Moses’ day. We’ll explore those this week when we meet. Maybe you’ll find it convincing, maybe we’ll leave you unconvinced. Come on out and let me give it my best shot!
Click here for this sessions notes: Week 8 resource sheet
UNCONVINCED meets weekly in the Atrium at Christ Community Church at 10:45.
Don’t you love it how the Bible gives us such striking contrasts sometimes. This week in UNCONVINCED, we’ll launch a series we’re calling Yahweh vrs Jesus. Each week from now till Easter, we’ll be exploring some of the tensions between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Tensions between how God reveals himself and how people understand him. Here are a couple of classic texts:
God to the Israelites through Moses:
If you carefully obey my voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorite and the Hittites and Priezzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces. Exod 23:22-24.
Click here for PDF of session resource sheet: Week 7 Handout
Jesus to the disciples in the New Testament:
You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matt 5:43-44
So which way is it? Yahweh helps you kill your enemies in the Old Testament. Jesus tells you to love your enemies in the New Testament. As we do each week in UNCONVINCED we’ll explore the options- this week two broad options of faith and war: Pacifism and Just War. We’ll take an honest look at the Christian view of war and the justice of God. Did God really command Holy War in the Old Testament? Come on out and join the conversation. We’re meeting in the Atrium at Christ Community at 10:45 till Noon during the second service.
This week Jared and Brad are going to preach about how the Israelite community abruptly faces the prospect of starvation. God had been doing dramatic miracle after miracle throughout their deliverance from Egypt. Deliverance only to face thirst and starvation in the barren surroundings of the Sinai Peninsula. It got me thinking about the mathematics of the situation. Seriously? 2 Million people starving to death in the desert?
Click here for this week’s resource sheet: Unconvinced Week 6 Fuzzy Math
Exodus 12:37 indicates there were some “600,000 men on foot” that left Egypt during the Exodus. A common estimate of the entire community is about 2 million people. Scholars have questioned the integrity of a number that huge. And for good reasons when one pries open the Hebrew language. Come on out to UNCONVINCED this week as we look at the most common solutions to this challenge. While we’re at it we’ll throw in a couple other examples of “fuzzy math” from Exodus and other parts of the Old Testament. You’re welcome to join the discussion. We meet in the Atrium at Christ Community during the 10:45 service.
Feel free to connect with me if you have questions:
Tim Perry firstname.lastname@example.org
Topics coming up the next few weeks:
02.22 Is the God of the Old Testament the same as the God of the New Testament?
03.01 Why did the law of Moses merely regulate slavery instead of abolishing it?
03.08 Women seem to be devalued in the Old Testament. Did Jesus really change that?
03.15 When Jesus was asked which command was most important, why didn’t his answer include any of the 10 Commandments?
UNCONVINCED is our skeptics venue here at Christ Community Church. Our aim is to make a space for people who just aren’t yet convinced with what we read in the pages of the Bible. Each week I look for things that the thinking person is going to trip over. This week is going to be a steep challenge. Blood. Blood everywhere in the storyline of Exodus. “You are a bridegroom of blood to me” says Moses’ wife as she grabs a flint-knife and circumcises Moses’ son! Exodus 4:25. The Hebrews are told to sacrifice a little animal, smear his blood on the door-posts, then the destroyer will pass over their home. Why so much blood? How did Yahweh manage to get his point across using such a graphic medium? We look at blood today so differently. What did blood sacrifice mean in the Ancient Near East? Why would God shed blood as a basis for his redeeming actions? Is that even consistent?
Click here for PDF version of this week’s resource sheet: Unconvinced Week 4 Blood Sacrifice
Come on out and join in. Last week we had a lively discussion about religious pluralism and more than once the crowd managed to stump the chump up front. Bring a friend. We meet Sunday mornings at Christ Community Church at 10:45 in the Atrium. Look for us on the left!
Question to ponder this week: What does red beer and Sekhmet have to do with why Yahweh may have turned the Nile to blood?
We had a great time last week in UNCONVINCED considering whether or not miracles really happen. This week’s question comes from watching the action in Exodus chapters 7-10. The big show-down between Yahweh and Hapi. Or Yahweh and Hekqet. Or Yahweh versus Re. Call it whatever you like, the plagues are an all-out religious war that Yahweh wages on deity after deity of the Egyptian pantheon. Yahweh isn’t interested in cooperation, negotiation or peaceful settlement. Yahweh is intent on all out holy war on the gods of Egypt. Why?
Download PDF of this week’s resource sheet here: Unconvinced Week 3 Pluralism
Religious Pluralism is an undeniable fact. It’s no use pretending that there is only one obvious choice for people and that humanity has come to accept Christian theism as the only way to God. Hundreds even thousands of options confront us. But here’s the question that gnaws at someone reading Exodus: If all religions basically lead to God in the end, why is there so much religious warfare – starting in the pages of the Bible itself? If there is in fact only one true God who doesn’t want to mislead us, then why has he allowed such a proliferation of religions? Can thousands of religions ALL be wrong? Can millions even billions of religious adherents be misguided? This week, more than any so far, I’m going to make the case that the two options that agree the MOST on this contentious question are Atheism and Christian Theism! Yup. Come find out the surprising reason we’re such chummy bedfellows on the question of religious pluralism. It will make sense when you see what we mean!
Unconvinced meets Sundays at 10:45 in the Atrium at Christ Community Church, Old Mill Campus
Last Sunday about a dozen people joined me for UNCONVINCED. We tried tackling the age-old question: Why does God allow Suffering and Evil. One of the best questions a participant asked was this: “If God is all-powerful, then that means nothing is impossible for him, INCLUDING making a world where people could exercise free will but not rebel.”
It sure seems plausible to think that way. It was a very insightful observation. We talked about God’s nature and whether or not God might have reasons for allowing evil that we can’t fully understand. “Maybe in order for God to give mankind responsibility for the choices we make, he had to also create the possibility of disobedience. ” So at a minimum we do have to say God gives permission for evil to exist. I don’t think the answer completely satisfied everyone in the crowd. We’re still left with a God who could have prevented evil but didn’t. But that means if we’re going to believe in God (the kind of God who is vastly bigger and more complex than we are) we may have to accept never fully understanding all of his purposes. Just because we don’t fully understand something doesn’t mean we can’t believe it.
Download PDF version of session resources by clicking here: Unconvinced Week 2 Miracles
This week’s question is another biggie! A CLASSIC question. It comes from the storyline of Exodus (multiple places). Can we really believe the miracles recorded in the Bible? Wouldn’t we all like God to come through with a miraculous sign when we’re desperate? But does he really have to? If the miracles talked about in the Bible AREN’T TRUE, then what are we left with?
I’m eager to jump into a new book on Miracles a friend recommended to me. Any Eric Metaxas fans out there? Come on out to UNCONVINCED this week and help us figure this out. I think you’ll have a great time. Bring a friend too! Remember it’s 10:45 on Sundays in the Atrium here at Christ Community Church.
Below is a list from the Back Page of my class notes last week on suffering and evil. If you have a comment or question, give me a shout! Or just come on out Sunday!
8 Reasons God may have for allowing people to suffer.
- A universal and undeniable consequence for misusing free will (moral and natural). Gen 3
- Can be punishment for specific sins – a feedback system to guide us out of self-abuse. Rom 1, 13
- An effect of moral evil on the natural order until God remakes the earth. Rom 8:19-23
- God is allowing it now, but as a part of eradicating and healing it later. Rev 21 & 22
- God has the ability to use evil against itself for greater purposes. Gen 50:20, Acts 4:26-28
- To develop character, patience, ability to serve others in crisis, etc. Rom 5:1-5
- God doesn’t always show us why he allows what he does! Job 38-42
- God uses suffering to bring us to the end of our understanding and get us to seek him! Job 19:25-27, Job 42:2-3