Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Story 7 Horrible History?!

A Question to begin the message, "Can we put God on trial?" This seems a little out of left field, but it is a legitimate question to consider this morning. It is a question that often the world will ask us when we tell them of their need of Jesus. It is a question that the world is asking given what is happening.

Earlier in the week, ISIS released a video of a Jordanian pilot being burned to death. The King of Jordan on Wednesday, took the lead position in a squadron of fighter jets. The President on Thursday morning had this to say: "Unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ." 

Now I am not being political. It is not my intention to do so. Yet the headlines gave me a great introduction to one of the hardest to explain books in the Bible. It's difficult because the Church has not undertaken to help us understand the conquests and complete obliteration that God called for. 

Let’s work our way back to Joshua. Let’s take up the Crusades and what the president has alleged. Yes, we Christians tend to confuse ourselves. Like Moslems who kill one another, our Irish brothers and sisters killed one another because they didn’t belong to the church of Ireland, the Holy Catholic Church. Of course, Irish Catholics have fought against other Catholics. It’s not about Jesus, these wars.

I like how Abraham Lincoln said it when asked which side would God be for. “He said that he hoped that we would be seeking God. More often than not, we seek our own means, our own ways, and then ask God’s blessings, as if it were a bit of a spell, a charm.

The crusades, now. Is this Christians going after other people because land was tight and over populated? It certainly made the 4 call to arms easier to answer. Each of the Crusade periods, however, came from the Emperor of Byzantine asking the Pope for help since Moslems invaded the holy land, and Asia Minor, or the Middle East. These 4 calls resulted in less than 2 dozen major offenses. Hollywood and writers tend to make the Crusades deadlier than they were, though there were rogues out for themselves. Basically, Crusades were about defending brothers in the faith.

Now let us move further back in history. Why did God want Joshua and the Israelites to completely destroy those before them? Let us remember, this morning, we read in Paul’s letter to the Romans that God has placed a moral compass within everyone’s heart. There is an innate sense of right and wrong. For those who die foreign to the Gospel and to the Law of Moses, God will judge accordingly. Even amidst the pantheistic Druids, or Celts, there was at the time of Jesus’ birth, a not so small minority of druids who knew that there was one creator, a sole sure swift hand, who is over all things, that all else are his creation. 

Let us also remember that after the flood of Noah, each people group had the ability to remain faithful to God. Yet no one did. The oral traditions seem to have stopped. People turned away from God. So was it fair for God to have them destroyed? Yes. We were all created for His good pleasures. He wasn’t a post creation construct of a single people of a single region.

In that a farmer who wants alfalfa crop but ended up planting Burmuda grass, then yes, that crop will be pulled and burned and the new seed will be placed. Yet let us be careful. Total, earthly destruction is not an indication of one’s destination for eternity. Jesus is said to have preached to souls who’ve passed apart from his Gospel. 

Yet here is what I can take home. Jericho was the first city. God commanded that all of it be put to the sword. All treasures put into the tabernacle. And with the exception of one man, they did so. God wants to be first in our thoughts and actions. When He is less than our first thought, trouble abounds. The second city of Ai embarrassed Israel until Israel sought the Lord’s advice.

After Jericho, The Lord allowed the Israelites to have the best for themselves. The people are reminded of this. The land is given, houses built that the Israelites didn’t build. Farmlands and herds that Israel didn’t plow of round up. Just as God provided for them, so Jesus tells us that he is preparing such a place for us. This is a rest that we look forward to. 

Finally, let us consider the message that God has sent. If we are seeking to bring glory and honor to God, then He will be with us. He will go before us. And though God has in the past used war as punishment against those who had become blind to him, He did set Paul straight one the Kingdom of Grace was instituted some 2000 years ago. 

God wants us to be as forgiving and graceful today as ever. Do you have such a relationship?

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