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3. Шта нас KОВИД-19 учи о евангелизацији

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Kада читам књигу Дела апостолска и покушавам да објасним брзи раст Цркве, најближу аналогију коју видим је ово ширење вируса KОВИД-19 у данашњем свету.

Познајем мисионара који је имао привилегију да игра важну улогу у ширењу Еванђеља у једној далекој земљи. Зато што је био сведок невероватног успеха у евангелизацији, неколико мисијских организација га је позвало да дође и открије им тајну таквог успеха. Он је одбио да себи припише било какву заслугу знајући да се ту ради о моћној манифестацији суверене Божје благодати. Захваљујући доживљеном, стекао је потпуно нови увид и поглед на књигу Дела апостолска. Велики број обраћења о којима је читао у тој књизи више није видео као резултат стратешких планова и програма које су смислили и водили апостоли. Напротив, сва та обраћења је видео као резултат моћног Божјег дела, при чему су апостоли само покушавали да прате оно што је Бог чинио. Слично том мом познанику, када читам књигу Дела апостолска и ја покушавам да сва та дешавања сагледам на сличан начин.

Размислите само о оном првом догађају. На дан Педесетнице хиљаде људи је изненада поверовало у Христа. Иако је Дух Свети у Јерусалиму „родио“ цркву која је просто цветала, апостоли нису основали одбор који би требало да изради стратегију за придобијање остатка света за Господа Исуса Христа. Уосталом зар то није била заповест коју им је Исус оставио:

„Тада приђе Исус и рече им: мени је дана сва власт на небу и на земљи. Зато идите и начините све народе мојим ученицима, крстећи их у име Оца и Сина и Светога Духа, учећи их да држе све што сам вам наложио; и ево ја сам с вама у све дане до свршетка света“ (Матеј 28,18-20).

Ширење цркве није било покренуто мисијским одбором или мисијском конференцијом, већ прогоном Цркве који је отпочео Стефановом смрћу (види Дела 6,8-8,1; 11,19-21). Чланови Цркве су углавном били расути посвуда, док су апостоли остали у Јерусалиму (види Дела 8,1). Нису апостоли покренули евангелизациону кампању међу многобошцима, већ непознати безимени појединци који нису могли да Еванђеље задрже за себе:

„Они пак који беху расејани због гоњења, покренутог против Стефана, прођоше све до Финикије, и Kипра, и Антиохије, не објављујући реч ником другом него само Јудејима. А неки од њих беху Kипрани и Kиринци, који, кад дођоше у Антиохију, говораху и Грцима, објављујући им као радосну вест Господа Исуса. И рука Господња беше с њима, и велики број поверова, те се обрати Господу“ (Дела 11,19-21).

Узнемирујућа је чињеница да првих једанаест апостола, не само да нису били агилни у ношењу Еванђеља многобошцима, него они у том смеру нису начинили ниједан једини корак. Апостол Петар није био вољан да иде у Kорнелијев дом (види Дела 10,9-16), али када је ипак отишао и када су људи у том дому поверовали у Христа, његове колеге – апостоли су га због тога позвали на „рапорт“.

„А апостоли и браћа у Јудеји чуше да су многобошци примили реч Божију. И када Петар дође горе у Јерусалим, препираху се с њим они из обрезања говорећи: ушао си к необрезаним људима и јео си с њима“ (Дела 11,1-3).

Мада је објашњење апостола Петра било више него довољно да оправда његов поступак, и мада су други апостоли препознали Божју одлуку да спасе многобошце баш као и Јевреје, њихов теоријски и њихов практичан приступ тој теми није био доследан.

„А кад ово чуше, умирише се и прославише Бога говорећи: Бог је дакле и многобошцима дао покајање за живот“ (Дела 11,18).

Еванђеље су многобошцима носили апостол Павле и људи попут Варнаве, Силе, Тимотеја и Луке.

Добро, можда се питате: „Kакве све то има везе са KОВИД-19 вирусом и евангелизацијом?“ Па размислите о ширењу KОВИД-19 вируса. Људи не иду около вољно ширећи овај вирус на друге. Просто се крећу, иду овамо и онамо као што су то и раније чинили, па када дођу у контакт са другима, и не знајући, преносе им вирус. Не постоје никакве обуке и семинари о томе како се пренои вирус. Нема ни потребе за тиме. Вирус има свој сопствени начин да то чини. Све што му је потребно јесте да се људи дружи и раде, просто да живе своје уобичајене животе.

Идеално – што видимо у књизи Дела апостолска – Еванђеље се брзо ширило кроз људе који су живели, радили и били у контакту са другима. Ти људи нису смишљено или насилно ширили Еванђеље, нити се њихова евангелизација одвијала по неком плану или приручнику. (Немојте да ме погрешно разумете. Ја не кажем да су методе и стратегије у ширењу Еванђеља нешто што не треба имати и развијати, већ само да, наравно по мом мишљењу, оне нису идеалне.) Просто верујем да хришћани треба да говоре о својој вери, да се испуњавају Светим Духом и да живе у радосном заједништву са другим хришћанима. Говоримо ли о хришћанима I века видимо да су били једноставно преплављени, да је спасење које су нашли у Христу променило њихове животе до те мере да нису могли, а да о тој вери не говоре свима са којима су дошли у контакт. За њих је евангелизација била оно што се догађало док су славили Бога и исказивали радост која их је преплавила. Други су то посматрали и „заразили“ се.

„А сви који су поверовали беху заједно и имали су све заједничко; продавали су што су стекли и имали, па су то делили свима - како је коме било потребно. Свакодневно су били стално и једнодушно у храму, ломили су хлеб по кућама, примали су храну с радошћу и проста срца, хвалећи Бога и уживајући љубав свега народа. А Господ је сваки дан додавао оне који се спасавају“ (Дела 2,44-47).

Вера пуна радости какву су имали нови верници природно је водила у јединство и дарежљивост према онима који су били у потреби.

„А у народа који је поверовао било је једно срце и једна душа, и нико није говорио да је што од његовог имања његово лично, него им је све било заједничко. Апостоли су веома силно сведочили за ускрс Господа Исуса и велика благодат беше на свима њима. Нико међу њима није оскудевао, јер су сви поседници земље или кућа продавали што су имали, доносили су вредност проданога и стављали пред ноге апостола. Одатле се сваком делило - колико је коме било потребно“ (Дела 4,32-35).

Данас често може да се чује или да се прочита како је неки видео „заразан“. Ја верујем да је Еванђеље из књиге Дела апостолска било заразно и молим се да поново постане заразно; да изврши свеопшти утицај кроз Духом испуњене хришћане који не могу да буду ућуткани и чија вера не може да буде угашена. Нека Бог дâ да буде тако, на његову славу, а на спасење многих. Хоћете ли бити вољни да ширите Еванђеље и помажете у изграђивању ученика Господа Исуса Христа онако како је Бог заповедио у Матеју 28,19-20?

Related Topics: Christian Life, Cultural Issues, Evangelism

Q. How do you deal with a sinning professed believer who is not a church member?

Answer

Dear *****,

This is a good question. I find it interesting to observe (over a good number of years) that while churches are all too often slow to deal with sin in the church, sinning church members are often much quicker to leave the church on their own (before discipline can occur).

Church discipline (in its most drastic form -- expulsion from the church) removes the sinner (who claims to be a saint -- 1 Corinthians 5:9-13) from the church, and thus from its benefits and protections. A person who claims to be a Christian, and yet does not fellowship in and with a church is sinning (Hebrews 10:25). In effect, the person who withdraws from the church (or refuses to be a part of a church) has already placed themselves under God’s discipline.

Having said this, I note from 1 Corinthians chapter 5 that Paul personally exercises church discipline from afar (1 Corinthians 5:3), serving as an example to the church.

I believe it is clear in Scripture that church discipline requires both individual and corporate (the entire church) action. For example, Matthew 18:15-20 instructs the individual who becomes aware of the sin of another to confront the sinner with their sin. If repentance does not result, 2 or 3 others should be included in the rebuke. And ultimately, if repentance is refused, the entire church must become involved. Once discipline is exercised by the church, every member of the church is required to follow through with the action of the church. Eating and having fellowship with such a person on a personal level should cease, in my opinion, but always with the hope of repentance and restoration. That does not mean there can be absolutely no contact with this person, but it would be greatly restricted (Matthew 18:17).

In the case which you have presented, I believe that discipline should be exercised on a personal level, and that he or she should first be confronted regarding their sin, and then should be dealt with as Matthew 18:15-20 and 1 Corinthians 5 indicate, on an individual basis.

While a willful sinner may attempt to give the impression that a rebuke has no impact on them, it is, I think, worthwhile to warn them that in Paul’s words, church discipline is “turning the wayward sinner over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” -- 1 Corinthians 5:5. This means that bad things may result. This might get their attention, and may very well come to mind if and when their life begins to fall apart.

I remember an occasion when I was involved in the discipline of an individual who was not part of our church. As the ambulance was hauling this fellow off after a heart attack, he yelled out, “And tell ____________ that this is not God’s discipline!”

I hope this helps,

Bob Deffinbaugh

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Discipline

Q. Anonymous Question

Hi Bible.org,

How should we understand 2 Samuel 12:7-12 and 2 Samuel 16:20-23

1) Do these verses show that God gave these 10 concubines of David to Absalom to rape? If so, how can we justify this? i.e. to punish David for what he did to Uriah and Bathsheba he caused these 10 concubines of David to be raped? What about the rights of these women (10 concubines)?

2) In 2 Samuel 16:23 we read ‘Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God. That was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice.’ But Ahithophel is the one who said ‘Sleep with your father’s concubines whom he left to take care of the palace. Then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself obnoxious to your father, and the hands of everyone with you will be more resolute’ (2 Samuel 16:21) Did Ahithophel really speak for God? If so, how can we justify this advice?

3) Also, in Leviticus 18:8 we read ‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.’ So even if the above the verses in 2 Samuel are not talking about rape of the 10 concubines but that it was consensual, how can the verses in 2 Samuel be reconciled with Leviticus 18:8?

Response

Dear “Anonymous,”

I’ve opted in this instance not to answer your questions. To be perfectly honest, your effort to preserve your anonymity is troubling, and prompts me not to answer your questions. Your questions are posed in a way that protects your identity. My response, on the other hand, has the potential of becoming very public. To ask honest questions is a good thing, but to hide your identity is neither necessary or commendable.

Your questions could be read so as to imply that a reasonable explanation cannot be given. If this were the case, such questions remind me of the questions Jesus was asked -- namely, that they were not sincere, but asked only to make Jesus look bad. Their questions assumed that there was no answer possible or that, if given, the answer would be incriminating or detrimental to Jesus in some way. (Notice how Jesus turned the tables on His questioners in Matthew 21:23-27.) We should note that our Lord’s answers were based on the fact that Jesus knew who His questioners were, and what the motives of His questioners were as well (see Mark 12:15).

There is another reason why I am not able to answer your questions as posed. The Book of Proverbs instructs us to respond to others on the basis of their character:

7 Whoever corrects a mocker is asking for insult; whoever reproves a wicked person receives abuse. 8 Do not reprove a mocker or he will hate you; reprove a wise person and he will love you. (Proverbs 9:7-8, NET).

1 A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke (Proverbs 13:1).

A rebuke makes a greater impression on a discerning person than a hundred blows on a fool (Proverbs 17:10).

7 Whoever corrects a mocker is asking for insult; whoever reproves a wicked person receives abuse. 8 Do not reprove a mocker or he will hate you; reprove a wise person and he will love you (Proverbs 9:7-8).

4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you yourself also be like him. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own estimation (Proverbs 26:4-5).

Please understand me. I have no way of discerning your character or motives, and therefore I am not able to properly respond. But I go out of my way to deal with honest questions, which are prompted by a sincere desire to better understand God’s Word.

And, by the way, there are answers to your questions, which I would be glad to offer, to a known questioner.

Blessings,

Bob Deffinbaugh

The Net Pastor’s Journal, Eng Ed, Issue 37, Fall 2020

A ministry of…

Author: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
Email: [email protected]

I. Strengthening Biblical Interpretation
“How To Read And Understand The Bible” (Pt. 4)

Introduction

This is part 4 of our continuing study of “Strengthening Biblical Interpretation: How to Read and Understand the Bible.” In the previous three parts of this study (issue numbers 34, 35, and 36 of this Journal) we have looked at the following subjects:

Part 1

1. Three basic tasks in Biblical interpretation

2. Two important hermeneutical questions

Part 2

1. Literal interpretation

2. Interpreting certain literary genres and devices

3. Single mean; multiple applications

4. The impact of culture on our understanding – ancient and contemporary cultures

Part 3

1. Two extremes of cultural vs transcultural interpretation

2. Two examples of cultural vs transcultural interpretation

a) Foot washing

b) Head coverings for women

3. Four guidelines for understanding and interpreting cultural issues

Now, in this part 4, we will outline Ten Simple Rules Of Biblical Interpretation. For this subject, I have found R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture, 63-99 to be very helpful.

RULE #1: Interpret Scripture In Accordance With The Author’s Originally Intended Meaning

If you have properly and adequately studied the text, you should be able to write down what the author intended to say to his original audience. You must be able to state this before you move to what it means for your audience today. I recommend that you write out the passage in your own words (paraphrase it). This will reveal whether you know the meaning of the passage. If you don’t know what it means, you won’t be able to write it out in your own words. Try to write it out by amplifying the meaning of the words and phrases, explaining the imagery in your own words.

RULE #2: Interpret Scripture In The Light Of Other Scripture

Since we believe that Scripture is divinely inspired, we also believe that no part of Scripture can contradict or be in conflict with another part of Scripture since God cannot contradict himself.

This principle (interpreting Scripture in the light of Scripture) is very important for two reasons. First, because of attacks against Scripture by unbelievers. One of the primary attacks against Scripture by unbelievers is the assertion that Scripture contradicts itself. Since the Bible was written by over 40 authors over a period of 16 centuries, if it were not a divinely authored book, contradictions and inconsistencies would be very possible. By interpreting Scripture in the light of Scripture, you can show that the entirety of Scripture is consistent with itself.

Second, interpreting Scripture in the light of Scripture is an important principle because of the attitude with which Christians read Scripture. Christians do not read and interpret the Bible with the intent of finding inconsistencies in the text (as a non-Christian would). Rather, we look for inconsistencies in our interpretation of the text, which would be revealed by this rule of “interpreting Scripture in the light of Scripture.” Furthermore, we read and interpret Scripture with an attitude of submission to the inherent authority, accuracy, integrity, and cohesion of the text so that if there is a contradiction or inconsistency with our interpretation, the problem is with us, not the text.

Therefore, a basic principle of sound biblical interpretation is that to correctly understand one passage of Scripture, you must bring in other texts that are either comparative or contrasting texts. If your interpretation of the passage under study conflicts with the teaching of another comparative or contrasting passage, then your interpretation is not correct. Or, if a verse or passage has several interpretive options, and the one you have chosen is not consistent with other comparative or contrasting passages, then that interpretive option must be rejected and one that is consistent with the other passages must be chosen.

Following this rule of biblical interpretation helps in several ways:

(1) It expands your study and exposition of the text by bringing more light to it from other texts.

(2) It acts as a safeguard to ensure that you are not interpreting the text in a way that is inconsistent with other texts.

(3) It ensures that you understand the progressive unfolding of God's revelation in Scripture. As time progressed, God revealed more and more of himself, his will, his purposes etc. to us through Scripture.

(4) It helps you see the different bases on which God related to and dealt with people at different times. So, Scripture is not only a progressive unfolding of divine revelation but also a progressive unfolding of God's relationship to mankind.

RULE #3: Use The Clear, Major, and Numerous Scriptures To Explain The Less Clear, Minor, and Few.

Since revelation in Scripture is progressive, it is understandable that early revelation may be less clear than later revelation because it is partial and sometimes obscure. Scriptures which are partial or minor in their treatment of a topic do not have interpretive authority over those which are fuller and clearer. The clear and major revelations clarify those that may be less clear and minor.

This, again, emphasizes the need for rule #2: Interpret Scripture in the light of other Scripture.

RULE #4: Be Careful In Making “Logical” Deductions And Inferences.

This rule is closely related to the previous rule. What may seem like a logical deduction or inference from Scripture may not necessarily be true. What is logical to us may not be logical in God’s ways or thoughts. Obviously, if explicit teaching contradicts your inference or what you think is implicit, then the explicit teaching rules. It is important, therefore, to look for explicit instruction that supports what you may think is implicit in the text.

It’s so easy to adopt interpretations and applications of Scripture based on logical deductions, or assumed implicit instructions or inferences that you draw from the text, which may not be what the author intended to convey at all.

While we need to be careful with making deductions and inferences, we do need to identify the general principles that arise from the specific details in the text under our study. Be very careful that the conclusions you draw from your text are the underlying, universal, timeless principles that are being revealed in the text.

RULE #5: Do Not Make Scripture Meet An Unreasonable Literary Standard

By “unreasonable literary standard” I mean a standard that you would not require of any other literature. R. C. Sproul calls this “reading the Bible like any other book” (Knowing Scripture, 63). One commentator puts it this way: “In interpreting the Bible we do not ask any favors which we do not believe are proper rules for the reading of any serious literature” (Mal Couch, ed. A Biblical Theology of the Church, 15).

Of course, the Bible is not just like any other book because: (1) it is unique (no other book like it); (2) it is divine (no other Author like it); (3) it is inspired (no other source, communication, revelation, or power like it).

But, we must read it like any other book in the sense that it is constructed using written words, like any other book - words which had a commonly understood meaning at the time; words which need to be interpreted and understood in accordance with the common rules of grammar at the time and which are designed to be understood on that basis. Also, we must not attribute to it literary liberties that we would not allow for any other literature.

But note this caveat: though we may understand the meaning of the words and grammar correctly, that does not mean that anyone who reads the Bible will necessarily arrive at the correct conclusions about what it says and how it applies to our lives. For that, we need the illumination of the Holy Spirit, which is the exclusive possession of believers only. Unbelievers can understand the words on the page; they can analyze its grammar; they can engage in the same literary analysis that they would do for any other piece of literature. But unbelievers do not arrive at the correct conclusions about it because they do not have the illumination of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 4:18) - their ability to understand the Bible is limited to the level of literature only. Though they may have intellectual comprehension they do not have spiritual comprehension. Thus, unbelievers do not submit to the authority of Scripture; they come to wrong conclusions about it; they cannot see the spiritual significance of Scripture; they do not assign proper value to it; they do not accept the implications of Scripture for faith and practice; and they will not accept the application of Scripture to their lives. If we are to assign to the Bible proper value, arrive at the correct conclusions about what it says, and apply it relevantly to our lives, we need the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

The point I am trying to make here when I say “do not make the Scriptures meet an unreasonable literary standard” is that its grammatical construction (words, phrases, clauses etc.), its contexts (historical, cultural, political etc.), and its literary genre (poetic, narrative etc.) must be examined in the same way you would examine and read any other literature, but with the enablement of the Holy Spirit. This objective method of biblical interpretation prevents subjective, mystical interpretation that is not rooted in scholarship and can be made to mean anything the reader wants or thinks.

RULE #6: Read and Interpret The Bible From A Personal-Application Perspective.

Do not ask “What does this mean to me?” but “How does this apply to me?” In asking this question, we not only bring out its current and relevant application, but we find out first how it was applied to the people to whom it was originally written. By seeing how the author crafted his argument and how he applied it to the real life situation of his original audience (i.e. why he was writing, what problem he was addressing etc.), we discover how it may apply to ourselves within the limitation of its original intended meaning.

Please note this limitation: Even though we may make many applications from one truth, those applications are still limited by the teaching of the author as he originally intended it. You are not authorized to apply Scripture any way you want, just as you are not authorized to interpret it any way you want. As someone has said, “There is more heresy taught in the area of application than in explanation.”

So, we need to read and interpret the Bible from a “personal-application” perspective by identifying with the author’s intended meaning (and what his original audience would have understood); by identifying the life situation of the original audience (and how what was written applied to them); and then applying it appropriately to our own life situation and culture (i.e. in a way that is consistent, and corresponds, with the original situation).

RULE #7: Identify Literary Devices and Genre And Interpret Them Accordingly.

I have already defined what I mean by literal interpretation, particularly when it comes to literary devices (such as figures of speech) and literary genres (such as poetry, apocalyptic, allegory etc.). Each literary genre must be interpreted accordingly. For example, Hebrew poetry must be interpreted in accordance with its patterns and customs - e.g. parallelisms etc. (e.g. Ps. 2:4; Prov. 1:20; Gen. 4:23; Isa. 55:6-7). We need to distinguish between proverb and law. Like our English proverbs, Hebrew proverbs are not intended to be universal truisms for all people at all times, but general principles that are generally true for those living godly lives.

RULE #8: Study The Grammatical Construction and Meaning Of Words Carefully

You cannot interpret Scripture accurately if you do not pay close attention to the grammar – (1) the parts of speech (e.g. noun, verb); (2) the form of each word (e.g. singular or plural; present or future tense etc.); (3) the meaning and use of words in their context and their relationship to each other (i.e. syntax) to form phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. Do not make words mean what you want them to mean or what you think they mean based on contemporary usage. You must understand the word as it was used in its original literary, cultural, and historical contexts. Remember that sometimes words change in their meaning over time.

Pay attention to repeated, significant, and key words. Repeated words and phrases usually tell you something about what the author is trying to emphasize, and / or the theme of the text (e.g. Phil. 1:27; 2:2,3,5; 3:15,16; 4:2,7). Significant words might be: (1) Theological terms (e.g. justification); or (2) The main verb in a sentence; or (3) Conjunctions and prepositions. Words cannot be interpreted in isolation from their usage. So, be sure to always determine what a word means by analyzing its form and its usage in its context.

When you have a word with multiple possible meanings, you have to look at its context and at the various usages in the Bible in order to determine its meaning.

RULE #9: Read and Interpret The Bible Christologically.

By this I mean, read the Bible from a N.T. perspective. Every message should point to Christ or the Christian life in Christ. Each sermon should be governed by the redemptive focus of the Scriptures (cf. Bryan Chapell’s “Fallen Condition Focus” (FCF) in Christ Centered Preaching, 1994). This focus is not only the salvation of the lost but also the growth of believers so that they become all that God intends them to be. Chapell asserts that “proper understanding of a passage and focus of a sermon require a clear FCF” (Bryan Chapell, 42).

Theologically, every sermon must have as its purpose the same purpose as the passage, which is “an aspect of the human condition that requires the instruction, admonition, and / or comfort of the Scriptures” (Chapell, 43). By having this as its objective, every sermon will be unified in its purpose.

RULE #10: Read and Interpret The Bible Theologically.

Look for indications in the text of the essential truth(s) that the author is expressing. Ask yourself: (1) What doctrine (theology) is the original author expressing? (2) What is the overriding truth that emerges from the text? Don’t impose your doctrinal bias onto the text. Don’t read into the text what is not there. Ask yourself: (1) What is the text saying about God? (2) What is it saying about man’s relationship to God? (3) What is it saying about how to live for God? If you can’t find the answer to these questions in the text, you probably don’t know what the theological point of the text is.

The difficulty of this task often depends on the literary genre. The non-didactic genre can be challenging to uncover the truth that is being taught – e.g. the Song of Solomon, or, the book of Jonah. Is Jonah about how God deals with a wayward prophet? Or, is it about God's sovereignty in all circumstances, whether acts of nature (storms, plants, and worms), pagan sailors, wayward prophets, or wicked Gentiles etc.?

In this regard, you have to be very careful interpreting narratives in order to be sure you understand the theology that is being taught. You have to extract the theological point from the narrative detail.

II. Strengthening Biblical Leadership
“Serving Our Master In A World That Hates Him: An Exegetical Study Of John 15:18-27”

As Christian leaders we often face rejection both in our churches and in the world. Living as a Christian is challenging and often intimidating, isn’t it? The world is so antagonistic to the gospel and to Christ himself. Sometimes their animosity makes us afraid to stand up for Christ. But here’s the encouragement - Jesus said, In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

So, what do we do, as leaders of God’s people, to encourage our congregations to testify for Christ when the surrounding culture is so hostile? That’s our subject in this article: “Testifying for Christ in a world that hates him” (Jn. 15:18-27). I hope that this Bible study will help you and encourage you as it becomes increasingly difficult to publicly profess Christ in this world.

In our passage, Jesus has just exhorted the disciples to abide in him (15:1-11) and to love one another (15:12-17). Now Jesus moves on to warn them of the hatred of the world against himself and therefore against them, his followers (15:18-25) and to encourage them to testify for him in the midst of such hatred (15:26-27).

The principle that we learn from this passage is that “Despite opposition from the world, we can faithfully testify for Christ.” We notice three theological principles in this text…

I. The World Hates Followers Of Christ (18-20).

Notice that 1. The world hates followers of Christ because it hated Christ himself first (15:18). “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (15:18). When Jesus says, “if” the world hates you, he is not inferring that the world may or may not hate you. This is an “if” of reason, not an “if” of doubt. There is no doubt that the world hates followers of Christ.

The disciples themselves had already experienced this. They knew what had happened to the man born blind and his parents in ch. 9. They knew the blind man’s parents “feared the Jews because the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was the Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue” (9:22). This was sheer intimidation by the Jews against these people because they had experienced the healing power of Jesus. The Jews were bound and bent to shut down their testimony of what Jesus had done for their son. In the days to come the disciples would experience an even greater degree of hatred from the world. There is an innate hatred that springs from those who are bitterly opposed to Christ. The truth is that the world hates Christians because it hated Christ. The world is filled with wicked men and women whose Satan-inspired hatred for Christ is manifested in their hatred for followers of Christ.

Jesus comforts his disciples by saying, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you (15:18).” The comfort in this is that Christians who experience the world’s hatred are suffering alongside their Saviour. Jesus suffered the world’s hatred first, and Christians suffer for Christ now. The apostle Paul calls this a privilege, a gift: “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:30). Jesus does not call us to experience anything that he has not experienced himself first. Because of suffering and opposition, many of Jesus’ disciples stopped following him (Jn. 6:66). They couldn’t take the intolerance, the rejection, the humiliation, the physical punishment. That’s the challenge many Christians face today.

So, 1. the world hates followers of Christ because they hated Christ himself first; 2. The world hates followers of Christ because we have been chosen by Christ (15:19-20). “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (15:19). To be “of the world” means to be identified with the world, to hold the world’s beliefs and morals, to adopt the world’s habits and character. If you did that, Jesus says, “the world would love” you as one of “its own.” If you were motivated and characterized by the world’s standards, the world would accept you as one of its own. But the truth is, the world does not accept you. In fact, the world hates you “because you are not of the world.” The reason you are not of the world is because Jesus “chose you out of the world.”

Did you get that? Jesus is saying there is only one reason why you are not accepted by, nor subject, to the world and that’s because “I chose you out of the world.” That is his sovereign grace and mercy toward his followers. The reason the disciples were separate and apart from “the world” was not because there was anything good or meritorious before God in them, but because they had been sovereignly chosen by Jesus. And just as Jesus sovereignly called them so he sovereignly calls all believers today to himself to be his followers and his spokespersons. That’s what makes us different from the world. We have been called out of it by God and separated to him for his exclusive use and purpose.

Repeating what he had already told them in 13:16, Jesus says “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’” (15:20a). Jesus’ followers cannot expect better treatment than Jesus himself received. Just as he was not exempt from persecution, neither are we. “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (15:20b). In other words, however the world responds to Jesus will be their response to us, his followers. If they persecuted him, they will persecute his followers. Conversely, if they obeyed his word, they would obey the word of his followers also. In short, the world will respond to you the same way they responded to Jesus.

The world hates followers of Christ - 1. because it hated Christ himself; 2. because Christians have been chosen by Christ out of the world, and, 3. The world hates followers of Christ because the world does not know God (15:21). “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me” (15:21). The world will persecute and hate those who take the name of Jesus “because they do not know Him who sent Me.” You can only know God through Jesus Christ. If you hate Jesus, it’s because you do not know God – “the One who sent Him.” Anyone who truly knows God knows that Jesus is his one and only eternal Son whom he sent into the world. If they had known that Jesus was the sent One from God, they would not have treated him as they did. For the Bible says that “the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 Jn. 4:14).

So the first theological principle in this passage is that the world hates followers of Christ. But notice the second theological principle…

II. There Is No Excuse For The World’s Hatred Of Christ (15:22-25).

1. There is no excuse for hatred of Christ because of the words He spoke (15:22-23). “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (15:22). The truth is they should have known who Jesus was. He came to make God known to them and he did so in word and deed. If Jesus had not revealed to them who He was in his teachings, then they would not have committed the sin of rejecting him as their Messiah because they would have been ignorant - “they would have no sin.” But since Jesus did reveal to them who he was, “now they have no excuse for their sin.” To reject Jesus is inexcusable; they are guilty. Why? Because Jesus clearly spoke the truth to them about who he is and who God is. Yet they still rejected him. And for that there is no excuse. No person ever born into this world has any excuse for rejecting Jesus when they stand before the Great White Throne of God’s judgement - nothing to say, no excuse, no self-justification. Why? Because they have heard the truth and rejected it.

“He who hates Me hates My Father also” (15:23). You cannot know God except by knowing and believing in Jesus. If you hate Jesus you hate the Father also. The Jews in Jesus’ day claimed that God was their Father but they rejected Jesus as God’s Son, the Messiah. That’s impossible because Jesus and the Father are one. You can claim to know God, but if you reject Jesus the Son of God, you reject God the Father also. So, people and religious groups who claim to worship God but deny the deity of Christ, his substitutionary atonement for sins, his resurrection from the dead etc. cannot and do not know God.

So, 1. there’s no excuse for hatred of Christ because of the words he spoke. And, 2. There is no excuse for hatred of Christ because of the works he did (15:24-25). “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin” (15:24a). Not only are Jesus’ words (15:22) irrefutable evidence of who he is but so are Jesus’ works. He was unique in what he said and what he did. If he had not performed the miraculous signs that he did, then, he says, “they would have no sin.” But Jesus did perform “works which no one else did” and for that everyone is responsible for their response to him. “But now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father” (15:24b). The people of Jesus’ day showed their response by rejecting him during his lifetime and at his death. Such rejection was inexcusable for the evidence was irrefutable as to who Jesus was. In rejecting him they rejected the One who sent him as well.

Now, this isn’t any different from today. We have the evidence of Jesus’ words and works right in front of us in the Scriptures. So, everyone is responsible for how they respond to the evidence. What we see in this passage is that the evidence often isn’t enough to convince some people of their sin and need of a Saviour. Such is the hardness of the human heart.

“But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’” (15:25). That’s a tragically sad truth – “they hated me without a cause.” People who may hate us usually have a reason. But in the case of Jesus, they hated him for no reason. This just goes to show the incredible hardness and wickedness of the human heart! Jesus came doing good to people without money and without price. He did good to people who didn’t even know him, healing those who were sick, feeding those who were hungry, raising some from the dead. He came speaking words of grace and mercy. He came to make God known to us.

By hating Jesus without a cause, Jesus’ opponents unknowingly accomplished two things: (a) they were responsible for his death; and at the same time (b) they fulfilled God’s eternal redemptive purposes. God used man’s wicked acts to accomplish his perfect will so that human beings are responsible for Jesus’ death while at the same time, through his death, God offers eternal life to the human race. That’s the magnificent love and grace of God!

What have we learned so far? First, the world hates followers of Christ (15:18-20). Second, there is no excuse for hatred against Christ (15:22-25). So, how then do we, as Christ’s leaders in His church, faithfully serve Him and testify for Him in such a hate-filled world? Well, here’s the encouragement…

III. Despite The World’s Hatred, We Can Testify For Christ (15:26-27).

1. We can testify for Christ because of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (15:26). In 15:18-25, Jesus has warned the disciples of coming persecution and he explained the reasons why they would be persecuted. Now, in 15:26-27, Jesus exhorts and comforts the disciples by telling them where our source of strength would come from to testify for Him in the midst of opposition and persecution. Just as he had told them at the beginning of chapter 14, Jesus reminds us again that our comfort and power in the face of opposition is the Holy Spirit. “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (15:26). Jesus promised that when he went back to heaven, he would send to them the “Helper (Comforter)… from the Father.” This, of course, is what happened at Pentecost.

The nature of the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” (15:26b). Just as the word of God is truth and Jesus is the truth, so the Holy Spirit is truth because the Trinity is one. So, the nature of the Holy Spirit is truth itself and the work of the Holy Spirit is to “testify of Me.” That is one of the Holy Spirit’s primary roles today in the world. “When he has come,” Jesus says in 16:8, “he will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement.” In the world, the Holy Spirit testifies to the utter sinfulness of the human race, the utter graciousness of God, and the utter marvel of Christ’s redemption. The Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of truth” who testifies to God’s truth.

So, 1. we can testify for Christ because of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and 2. We can testify for Christ because of our relationship with Him (15:27). “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning” (15:27). Very soon the disciples would experience their utter lack of witness for Christ when they all forsook him and fled. But upon the coming of the Holy Spirit they would be emboldened and empowered to do so without any fear. Men who deserted Christ in fear would soon be men of courage, who fearlessly testified for Christ even to the point of death because of their relationship with him from the beginning.

Like the disciples, because we have an intimate relationship with Christ, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to testify to the grace of God without fear. We can testify to the pitiful moral condition of the human race. We can testify to the saving grace of God in Christ. And all this in the midst of the world’s opposition. As church leaders, our responsibility today is to set the example of how to testify for Christ even in the face of opposition. As his followers, we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and placed in the world to testify to who Jesus is, why he came, what he did, where he is now, and his soon-coming return. We testify for him every time we pray for our food. We testify for him every time we speak a word for Christ to others. We testify for him when we take a stand against those who demean Christ. We testify for him by our lifestyle, our speech, our deeds, our priorities, our associations, our habits. Whatever we say or do must be with the goal that we bring glory to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Final Remarks

What have learned in this passage is: 1. The world hates followers of Christ because they hated Christ himself (15:18-20); 2. There is no excuse for hatred against Christ because of (a) the words that he spoke, and (b) the works he did (15:22-25); yet, 3. Despite the world’s hatred, we can faithfully testify for Christ, (a) because of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (15:26), and (b) because of our relationship with Him (15:27). That’s our comfort and encouragement.

May this word today be an encouragement and challenge to us all, especially those of us who lead and pastor God’s people. Jesus has warned us that testifying for him will not be easy. And he has encouraged and equipped us to do so even despite the world’s hatred. May we stand firm for Him in a world that hates him.

III. Sermon Outlines

Title: Letters To The Seven Churches: Sardis- Nominal Christianity (Rev. 3:1-6)

Theme: A church may maintain a façade of Christianity even when it is about to die

Point I: There is a difference between reputation and reality: “I know your works that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” (3:1)

1. By reputation (“name”) this church was “alive”

2. But in reality it was “dead.”

Point II: There is a connection between waking and working (3:2)

1. This church needed to “wake up” – “be watchful”

2. This church needed to “work out” – “to strengthen the things that remain”

Point III: There is a necessity to remember and repent (3:3-6)

1. It’s necessary to remember the past – “remember therefore how you have received and heard” (3:3a)

2. It’s necessary to recognize the present – “hold fast and repent” (3:3b)

3. It’s necessary to refocus on the future

a) Many sleepers will be surprised by Christ’s judgement – “If you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you” (3c)

b) A few saints will be satisfied by Christ’s approval – “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments” (3:4a)

To these faithful but few saints, Christ promises…

- “They will walk with Me in white for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed int white garments.” (3:4b-5a)

- “I will never by any means blot their names out of the Book of Life” (3:5b-c)

Conclusion: “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (3:6).

Related Topics: Pastors

La Revue Internet Des Pasteurs, Fre Ed 37, Edition de l’automne 2020

A ministry of…

Author: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
Email: [email protected]

I. Renforcement De L’interprétation Biblique
“Comment Lire Et Comprendre La Bible ” (Pt. 4)

Introduction

C’est la partie 4 de notre étude continue sur le “Renforcement de l’Interprétation Biblique : Comment Lire et Comprendre la Bible.” Dans les trois premières parties de cette étude, (les problèmes 34, 35 et 36 de ce Journal) nous avons jeté un coup d’œil sur les sujets suivants :

Partie 1

1. Trois taches basiques dans l’interprétation Biblique

2. Deux questions importantes d’herméneutique

Partie 2

1. Interprétation littérale

2. Interprétation de certains genres et dispositifs littéraires

3. Un sens unique ; des applications multiples

4. l’impact de la culture sur notre compréhension – cultures anciennes et contemporaines

Partie 3

1. Deux extrêmes d’interprétation culturelle et transculturelle

2. Deux exemples d’interprétation culturelle et transculturelle

a) Le lavage des pieds

b) le voilement de la tête pour les femmes

3. Quatre directives pour comprendre et interpréter les questions culturelles

Maintenant, dans cette partie 4, nous allons esquisser Dix Règles Simples De l’Interprétation Biblique. Pour ce sujet, j’ai trouvé les page 63-99 du livre de R.C. Sproul intitulé Knowing Scripture (Connaître l’Ecriture) d’un grand apport.

REGLE #1 : Interpréter l’Ecriture En Conformité Avec Le Sens Originellement Voulu par l’Auteur

Si vous étudier le texte de façon appropriée et adéquate, vous devriez être capable d’écrire ce dont l’auteur avait l’intention de dire à ses premiers lecteurs. Vous devez déterminer cela avant de penser à ce que ça signifie pour vos auditeurs aujourd’hui. Je recommande que vous écriviez le passage avec vos propres mots (le paraphraser). Cela vous permettra de savoir si vous connaissez le sens de du passage. Si vous n’en connaissez pas le sens, vous ne serez pas capable de l’écrire avec vos propres mots. Essayez de l’écrire en amplifiant le sens des mots et des expressions, expliquant l’imagerie avec vos propres mots.

REGLE #2 : Interpréter l’Ecriture A La Lumière d’Autres Ecritures

Du moment où nous croyons que l’Ecriture est divinement inspirée, nous croyons aussi qu’aucune partie de l’Ecriture ne peut être en conflit avec une autre partie de l’Ecriture, parce que Dieu ne peut pas se contredire Lui-même.

Ce principe (interpréter l’Ecriture à la lumière d’autres écritures) est très important pour deux raisons. Premièrement, à cause des attaques des incroyants contre l’Ecriture. L’une des attaques primaires contre l’Ecriture est l’assertion selon laquelle elle se contredit elle-même. Du moment où la Bible a été écrite par 40 auteurs sur une période de 16 siècles, si elle n’était pas un livre dont l’auteur est Dieu, les contradictions et les incohérences y seraient très possibles. En interprétant l’Ecriture à la lumière de l’Ecriture, vous pouvez montrer qu’elle est en cohérence avec elle-même.

Deuxièmement, interpréter l’Ecriture à la lumière de l’Ecriture est un principe important à cause de l’attitude avec laquelle les Chrétiens lisent l’Ecriture. Les chrétiens ne lisent pas et n’interprètent pas la Bible avec l’intention de trouver des incohérences dans le texte (comme le ferait un non-chrétien). Nous cherchons plutôt des incohérences dans notre interprétation du texte qui pourraient être révélées par ce principe « d’interpréter l’Ecriture par l’Ecriture ». En plus nous lisons et interprétons l’Ecriture avec une attitude de soumission à l’autorité inhérente, l’exactitude, l’intégrité et à la cohésion du texte, de telle sorte à ce que s’il y a contradiction ou incohérence dans notre interprétation, le problème nous incombe, mais pas au texte.

Pour cela, un principe basique d’une interprétation biblique saine est que pour comprendre correctement un passage de l’Ecriture, vous devez apporter d’autres textes qui sont soit comparatifs, soit contrastants. Si votre interprétation du texte que vous étudiez est en conflit avec l’enseignement d’autres passages comparatifs et contrastants, cela veut dire que votre interprétation est incorrecte. Ou, si un verset ou un passage a plusieurs options d’interprétation, et que celui que vous avez choisi n’est pas cohérent avec d’autres passages comparatifs et contrastants, vous devez alors rejeter cette option d’interprétation et choisir une option qui est cohérente avec les autres passages.

Suivre cette règle d’interprétation biblique aide de plusieurs manières :

(1) Elle élargit votre étude et exposition du texte en y apportant plus de lumière par d’autres textes.

(2) Elle agit comme une sauvegarde pour assurer que vous n’êtes pas en train d’interpréter le texte d’une manière incohérente par rapport à d’autres textes.

(3) Elle vous rassure que vous comprenez le déroulement progressif de la révélation de Dieu dans l’Ecriture. A mesure que le temps avançait, Dieu nous a révélé par l’Ecriture, et ce, de plus en plus, sa personne, sa volonté, ses desseins, etc.

(4) Elle vous aide à voir les différentes bases sur lesquelles Dieu a traité et entretenu des relations avec des gens d’autrefois. Ainsi, l’Ecriture n’est pas seulement un dévoilement progressif de la révélation de divine, mais aussi un dévoilement progressif de sa relation avec l’humanité.

REGLE #3 : Utiliser Les Versets Claires Majeures, et Nombreuses Pour Expliquer Les Moins Claires, Mineures et Peu nombreux.

Du moment où la révélation est progressive, il est compréhensible que la révélation première soit moins Claire que la révélation dernière, parce qu’elle est partielle et parfois obscure. Les Ecritures qui sont partielles ou mineures dans leur traitement du sujet n’ont pas d’autorité interprétative sur celle qui sont plus complètes et plus claires. Les révélations claires majeures clarifient celles qui sont moins claires et mineures.

Cela met l’accent encore sur le besoin de la règle #2 : Interpréter l’Ecriture à la lumière de l’Ecriture.

REGLE #4 : Soyez Prudents Lorsque Vous Faites Des Déductions, des Inférences « Logiques ».

Cette règle est intimement liée à la règle précédente. Ce qui peut ressembler à une déduction logique, peut ne pas être nécessairement vrai. Ce qui est logique pour nous peut n’est pas être logique pour Dieu ou pour ses pensées. Clairement, si un enseignement explicite contredit votre inférence ou ce que vous pensez être implicite, alors l’enseignement explicite l’emporte. Il est alors important, de chercher une instruction explicite qui soutient ce que vous pourriez croire implicite dans le texte.

C’est très facile d’adopter des interprétations et applications de l’Ecriture basées sur les déductions logiques, ou des instructions ou inférences implicites supposées, que vous tirez du texte, qui pourraient ne pas être du tout ce que l’auteur a voulu communiquer.

Tandis que nous devons être prudents à faire des déductions et des inférences, nous avons besoin d’identifier les principes généraux qui émanent des détails spécifiques dans le texte que nous étudions. Soyez très prudents de sorte à ce que les conclusions que vous tirez de votre texte soient sous-jacentes, universelles, des principes intemporels qui sont révélés dans le texte.

REGLE #5 : Ne Pas Faire En Sorte Que l’Ecriture Satisfasse à Une Norme Littéraire Déraisonnable

Par “norme littéraire déraisonnable” j’entends une norme que vous n’exigerez pas d’autre littérature. R.C. Sproul appelle cela « lire la Bible comme n’importe quel livre »(Knowing Scripture [Connaître l’Ecriture], 63). Un commentateur le dit ainsi : “En interprétant la Bible, nous ne demandons pas des faveurs que nous ne croyons pas être des règles adéquates pour lire toute littérature sérieuse ” (Mal Couch, ed. A Biblical Theology of the Church [Une Théologie Biblique de l’Eglise], 15).

Bien sûr, la Bible n’est pas juste comme n’importe quel autre livre parce que : (1) elle est unique (aucun autre livre ne lui est semblable) ; (2) elle est divine (aucun autre auteur ne lui est semblable) ; (3) elle est inspirée (aucune autre source, communication, révélation ou puissance ne lui est semblable).

Mais nous devons la lire comme tout autre livre dans le sens qu’elle est construite avec des mots comme tout autre livre – des mots qui avaient une signification ordinaire comprise alors ; des mots qui ont besoin d’être interprétés et compris en conformité avec les règles de grammaire de l’époque et qui sont élaborés pour être compris sur cette base. Aussi, nous ne lui attribuons pas des libertés littéraires que nous ne permettrions pour tout autre littérature.

Mais notez cet avertissement : Bien que nous puissions comprendre le sens des mots et de la grammaire correctement, cela ne veut pas dire que toute personne qui lit la Bible parviendra à des conclusions correctes concernant ce qu’elle dit et la manière dont elle doit être appliquée dans nos vies. Pour cela, nous avons besoin de l’illumination du Saint Esprit, qui est une possession exclusive des croyants seulement. Les incroyants peuvent comprendre les mots sur la page ; ils peuvent également s’engager dans la même analyse littéraire qu’ils pourraient appliquer à n’importe quel autre œuvre littéraire. Mais les incroyants ne parviennent pas à des conclusions correctes la concernant, parce qu’ils n’ont pas l’illumination du Saint Esprit (1 Cor. 2 :14 ; Eph. 4 :18) – leur capacité de compréhension de la Bible est limitée au niveau littéraire seulement. Bien qu’ils puissent en avoir la compréhension intellectuelle ils n’en ont pas la compréhension spirituelle. Ainsi, les incroyants ne se soumettent pas à l’autorité de l’Ecriture ; ils ne lui accordent pas une valeur adéquate ; ils n’acceptent pas les implications de l’Ecriture pour la foi et la pratique ; et ils n’accepteront pas l’application de l’Ecriture à leur vie. Si nous voulons accorder à la Bible une valeur adéquate, parvenir à des conclusions justes concernant ce qu’elle dit, et l’appliquer pertinemment à notre nos vies, nous avons besoin de l’illumination du Saint Esprit.

Ce que j’essaie de faire ressortir ici lorsque que je dis “ “ne pas faire en sorte que l’Ecriture satisfasse à une norme littéraire déraisonnable” c’est que bien qu’elle soit grammaticale dans sa construction (mots, expressions, propositions, etc.), son contexte (historique, culturelle, politique, etc.), et ses genres littéraires (poétique, narratif, etc.) elle doit être examinée de la même manière que vous examineriez et liriez tout autre littérature, mais avec l’aide du Saint Esprit. Cette méthode objective de l’interprétation biblique protège contre l’interprétation subjective, mystique, qui n’est pas enracinée dans l’érudition et qui peut la faire signifier tout ce que le lecteur veut ou pense.

REGLE #6 : Lire et Interpréter la Bible à Partir d’Une Perspective d’Application Personnelle.

Ne demander pas « Qu’est-ce que cela signifie pour moi ? » mais « Comment cela s’applique-t-il à moi ? » En nous posant cette question, non seulement nous mettons en évidence son application courante et pertinente, mais nous découvrons comment elle a été appliquée premièrement aux personnes pour lesquelles elle a été originellement écrite. En voyant comment l’auteur à organiser ses arguments et en voyant qu’elle a été appliquée à une situation réelle de vie de ses lecteurs originels, (c’est-à-dire pourquoi il a écrit, quel problème il traitait, etc.), nous découvrirons comment elle pourrait s’appliquer à nous-même dans la limite de son sens originel voulu.

Notez cette limite : Même si nous pouvons faire plusieurs applications à partir d’une vérité, ces applications sont toujours limitées par l’enseignement de l’auteur tel qu’il l’a voulu originellement. Vous n’êtes pas autorisés à appliquer l’Ecriture de n’importe quelle manière que vous voulez. Comme quelqu’un l’a dit : « Il y a plus d’hérésies enseignées dans le domaine de l’application que dans l’explication ».

Ainsi, nous devons lire et interpréter la Bible dans une perspective “d’application personnelle” en identifiant le sens voulu par l’auteur (et ce que ses lecteurs originels auraient pu comprendre) ; en identifiant la situation de la vie des lecteurs originels (et comment ce qui a été écrit s’est appliqué à eux); et en l’appliquant de manière appropriée à notre propre situation de vie et de culture (c’est-à-dire, d’une manière cohérente, et correspondante à la situation originelle).

REGLE #7 : Identifier le Dispositif et le Genre Littéraires et Les Interpréter Convenablement.

J’ai déjà définit ce que j’entends par interprétation littérale, particulièrement quand il s’agit de dispositif littéraire (tels que les figure de style) et les genres littéraires (tel que la poésie, le genre apocalyptique, l’allégorie, etc.). Chaque genre littéraire doit être interprétée convenablement. Par exemple, la poésie Hébraïque doit être interprétée en conformité avec ses règles et coutumes – ex : le parallélisme, etc. (ex : Ps. 2 :4 ; Prov. 1 :20 ; Gen. 4 :23 ; Isa. 55 :6-7). Nous devons distinguer entre proverbe et loi. Comme nos proverbes Anglais, les proverbes Hébreux ne sont pas faits pour être des truismes universels pour les gens de tous les temps, mais des principes généraux qui sont généralement vrais pour ceux qui vivent une vie pieuse.

REGLE #8 : Etudier La Construction Grammaticale et le Sens Des Mots Prudemment.

Vous ne pouvez pas interpréter l’Ecriture correctement si vous ne prêtez pas une attention méticuleuse à la grammaire – (1) les parties du discours (ex : nom, verbe) ; (2) la forme de chaque mot (ex : singulier ou pluriel ; temps présent ou future, etc.) ; (3) le sens et l’emploi des mots dans leur contexte et leur relation les uns avec les autres (c.-à-d. la syntaxe) pour former des expressions, des phrases et des paragraphes. Ne prêtez pas aux mots le sens que vous soulez ou pensez qu’ils signifient en vous basant sur l’emploi contemporain. Vous devez comprendre le mot de la manière dont il était utilisé dans les contextes littéraire, culturel, et historique. Souvenez-vous que parfois le sens des mots change avec le temps.

Faites attention aux mots-clés importants et répétés. Les mots et expressions répétés vous disent souvent quelque chose sur lequel l’auteur veut mettre l’accent, et/ou sur le thème du texte (ex : Phil. 1 :27 ; 2 :2,3,5 ; 3 :15,16 ; 4 :2,7). Les mots importants pourraient être : (1) des termes Théologiques (ex : la justification) ; ou (2) le verbe principal dans une phrase ; ou (3) des conjonctions et des prépositions. Les mots ne peuvent pas être interprétés hors de leur emploi. Par conséquent, rassurez-vous de toujours déterminer ce que signifie un mot en analysant sa forme et son emploi dans son contexte.

Lorsque vous avez un mot avec des sens multiples possibles, vous devez voir son contexte et à ses emplois varié dans la Bible pour déterminer son sens.

REGLE #9 : Lire et Interpréter la Bible de Manière Christologique.

Par cela, j’entends lire la Bible à partir d’une perspective Néotestamentaire. Chaque message devrait diriger vers Christ ou la vie Chrétienne en Christ. Chaque sermon devrait être mu par l’accent rédempteur des Ecritures (cf. « Fallen Condition Focus » [Accent de la Condition de Chute] de Bryan Chapell (FCF) dans Christ Centered Preaching [Prédication Centré sur Christ], 1994). Cet accent n’est pas seulement le salut des perdus, mais aussi la croissance des croyants pour qu’ils deviennent tout ce que Dieu veut qu’ils soient. Chapell déclare que « la compréhension adéquate d’un passage et l’accent d’un sermon exigent une Prédication claire, Centré sur Christ » (Bryan Chapell, 42).

Théologiquement, chaque sermon doit avoir comme but le même but que le passage, qui est « un aspect de la condition humaine qui exige l’instruction, l’admonition et/ou la consolation des Ecritures » (Chapell, 43). En ayant cela comme objectif, chaque sermon sera unifié avec son but.

REGLE #10 : Lire et Interpréter la Bible Théologiquement.

Cherchez des indications dans le texte de(s) vérité(s) essentielle(s) que l’auteur exprime. Posez-vous la question : Quelle doctrine (théologie) l’auteur originel du texte exprime-t-il ? (2) Quelle vérité primordiale émerge du texte ? N’imposez pas vos préjugés doctrinaux au texte. Ne lisez pas dans le texte ce qui n’y est pas. Posez-vous la question : (1) Que dit le texte sur Dieu ? (2) Que dit le texte sur la relation de l’homme avec Dieu ? (3) Que dit le texte sur comment vivre pour Dieu ? Si vous ne pouvez pas trouver la réponse à ces questions dans le texte, c’est que probablement vous ne connaissez pas ce qu’est l’accent théologique du texte.

La difficulté de cette tâche dépend souvent du genre littéraire. La vérité enseignée peut s’avérer difficile à découvrir dans le genre non didactique– ex : le Cantique de Salomon, ou le livre de Jonas. Est-ce que livre de Jonas traite de la manière dont Dieu agit avec un prophète rebelle ? Ou traite-t-il de la souveraineté de Dieu dans toutes circonstances, qu’elles soient des actes de la nature (tempêtes, plantes, et vers), des marins païens, des prophètes rebelles ou des méchants Gentilles, etc. ?

Dans ce sens, vous devez être très prudents dans l’interprétation des narrations dans le but d’être sûr que vous comprenez la théologie qui y est enseignée. Vous devez extraire le sujet théologique des détails de la narration.

II. Renforcement Du Leadership Biblique
« Servir Notre Maître Dans Un Monde Qui Le Hait : Une Etude Exégétique De Jean 15 :18-27 »

En tant que leaders chrétiens nous faisons souvent face au rejet, à la fois dans nos églises et dans le monde. Vivre en tant que chrétien est difficile et intimidant, n’est-ce pas? Le monde est opposé à l’évangile et à Christ Lui-même. Parfois, leur animosité fait que nous avons peur de tenir ferme pour Christ. Mais là est l’encouragement – Jésus a dit : « Vous aurez des tribulations dans le monde ; mais prenez courage, j’ai vaincu le monde » (Jn. 16 :33).

Ainsi donc, que faisons-nous en tant que serviteurs du peuple de Dieu, pour encourager nos assemblées à témoigner pour Christ quand la culture environnante est hostile ? C’est notre sujet dans cet article : “témoigner pour Christ dans un monde qui le hait ” (Jn. 15 :18-27). J’espère que l’étude de la Bible vous aidera et vous encouragera tandis qu’il devient difficile de confesser Christ publiquement dans ce monde.

Dans notre passage, Jésus venait d’exhorter les disciples à demeurer en Lui (15 :1-11) et de s’aimer les uns les autres (15 :12-17). Maintenant, Jésus continue de les prévenir de la haine du monde contre Lui-même et contre eux qui le suivent (15 :18-25) et les encourager à témoigner de lui au milieu d’une telle haine (15 :26-27).

Le principe que nous apprenons de ce passage est que : « malgré l’opposition venant du monde, nous pouvons fidèlement témoigner de Christ ». Nous distinguons trois principes théologiques dans ce texte…

I. Le Monde Hait Ceux Qui Suivent Christ (18-20).

Remarquez que 1. Le monde hait ceux qui suivent Christ parce qu’il a haï Christ lui-même le premier (15:18). « Si le monde vous hait, sachez qu’il m’a haï avant vous » (15 :18). Quand Jésus dit: « si » le monde vous hait, il n’est pas en train de déduire qu’il se peut que le monde vous hait ou ne vous hait pas. C’est une « si » de raison, non pas un « si » de doute. Il n’y a aucun doute que le monde hait ceux qui suivent Christ.

Les disciples eux-mêmes avaient déjà expérimenté cela. Ils savaient ce qui était arrivé à l’aveugle-né et ses parents dans le ch. 9. Ils savaient que les parents de l’aveugle-né « dirent cela parce qu’ils craignaient les Juifs ; car les Juifs étaient déjà convenus que, si quelqu’un reconnaissait Jésus pour le Christ, il serait exclu de la synagogue » (9:22). C’était de la pure intimidation des Juifs contre ces personnes parce qu’ils avaient expérimenté la puissance de guérison de Jésus. On avait contraint les Juifs de taire leur témoignage de ce que Jésus avait fait pour leur fils. Dans les jours qui devaient venir, les disciples allaient même connaître un dégrée de haine plus grande de la part du monde. Il y a une haine innée qui jaillit de ceux qui sont amèrement opposés à Christ. La vérité est que le monde hait les chrétiens parce qu’il hait Christ. Le monde est rempli d’hommes et femmes méchant(e)s dont la haine contre Christ, inspirée par satan est manifestée dans leur haine contre ceux qui suivent Christ.

Jésus console ses disciples en disant : « Si le monde vous hait, sachez qu’il m’a haï avant vous » (15 :18).”La consolation en cela c’est que les chrétiens qui expérimentent la haine souffrent avec leur Sauveur. Jésus a souffert la haine du monde en premier, et les chrétiens souffrent pour Christ maintenant. L’apôtre Paul appelle cela un privilège, un don : « car il vous a été fait grâce, par rapport à Christ, non seulement de croire en lui, mais encore de souffrir pour lui » (Phil. 1 :29). Jésus ne nous appelle pas à vivre quelque chose que lui-même n’a pas vécu en premier. A cause de la souffrance et de l’opposition, plusieurs des disciples de Jésus ont arrêté de le suivre (Jn. 6 :66). Ils ne pouvaient pas supporter l’intolérance, le rejet, l’humiliation, les sévices corporel. C’est là le défi auquel plusieurs chrétiens sont confrontés aujourd’hui.

Ainsi, 1. Le monde hait ceux qui suivent Christ parce qu’il hait Christ lui-même; 2. Le monde hait ceux qui suivent Christ parce qu’ils ont été choisis par Christ (15:19-20). « Si vous étiez du monde, le monde aimerait ce qui est à lui, mais parce que vous n’êtes pas du monde, et que je vous ai choisi du milieu du monde, à cause de cela, le monde vous hait » (15 :19). Etre “du monde” signifie s’identifier au monde, tenir les croyances et les valeurs morales du monde, adopter les habitudes et le caractère du monde. Si vous faisiez cela, dit Jésus, “le monde” vous “aimerait” comme les siens. Si vous étiez motivés et caractérisés par les valeurs du monde, le monde vous aurait accepté comme les siens propres. Mais la vérité est que le monde ne vous accepte pas. En réalité, le monde vous hait « parce que vous n’êtes pas du monde ». La raison pour laquelle vous n’êtes pas du monde c’est que Jésus « vous a choisi du milieu du monde ».

Avez-vous compris cela ? Jésus est en train de dire qu’il y a une seule raison pour laquelle vous n’êtes ni acceptés, ni soumis au monde et c’est parce que ; « Je vous ai choisi du milieu du monde ». Cela, c’est sa souveraine grâce et miséricorde envers eux qui le suivent. La raison pour laquelle les disciples étaient séparés du « monde » n’était qu’il y’avait quelque chose de bon ou de méritoire en eux aux yeux de Dieu, mais parce qu’ils étaient choisis par Jésus. Et tout comme Jésus les avaient souverainement appelés, de même, il appelle souverainement tous les croyants aujourd’hui à lui-même, à le suivre et à être ses porte-paroles. C’est cela qui nous rend différent du monde. Nous avons été appelés hors du monde par Dieu et séparés pour Lui ; pour Son usage et Son dessein exclusif.

En répétant ce qu’il leur avait déjà dit dans 13 :16, Jésus dit : « Souvenez-vous de la parole que je vous ai dite : le serviteur n’est pas plus grand que son maître. S’ils m’ont persécuté, ils vous persécuteront aussi ; s’ils ont gardé ma parole, ils garderont aussi la vôtre ». (15:20b). En d’autres termes, la manière dont le monde réagit vis-à-vis de Jésus sera la même à l’égard de nous qui le suivons. Inversement, s’ils avaient obéi à sa parole, ils auraient également obéi à la parole de ceux qui le suivent. Bref, le monde réagira à votre égard de la même manière qu’il a réagi à l’égard de Jésus.

Le monde hait ceux qui suivent Christ - 1. Parce qu’il a haï Christ lui-même ; 2. Parce que les chrétiens ont été choisi du milieu du monde par Christ, et, 3. Le monde hait ceux qui suivent Christ parce que le monde ne connaît pas Dieu. (15:21). « Mais ils vous feront toutes ces choses à cause de mon nom, parce qu’ils ne connaissent pas celui qui m’a envoyé. » (15 :21). Le monde persécutera et haïra ceux qui prennent le nom de Jésus « parce qu’ils ne connaissent pas Celui qui M’a envoyé ». C’est en Jésus-Christ seulement que l’on peut connaître Dieu. Si vous haïssez Jésus, c’est parce que vous ne connaissez pas Dieu – « Celui qui L’a envoyé. » Celui qui connaît vraiment Dieu, sait que Jésus est son seul et unique Fils éternel, qu’il a envoyé dans le monde. S’ils avaient su que Jésus était l’Envoyé de Dieu, ils ne l’auraient pas traité comme ils l’ont fait. Car la Bible dit que « le Père a envoyé le Fils comme Sauveur du monde. » (1 Jn. 4 :14).

Par conséquent, le premier principe théologique dans ce passage est que le monde hait ceux qui suivent Christ. Mais remarquez le second principe…

II. Il N’y A Pas D’excuse Pour La Haine Du Monde A L’egard De Christ (15 :22-25).

1. Il n’y a pas d’excuse pour la haine de Christ, à cause des paroles qu’Il a dites (15 :22-23). « Si je n’étais pas venu et que je ne leur avais pas parlé, ils n’auraient pas de péché ; mais maintenant, ils n’ont aucune excuse de leur péché » (15 :22). La vérité, c’est qu’ils auraient dû connaître qui était Jésus. Il est venu les amener à connaître Dieu et c’est ce qu’il a fait en paroles et en actes. Si Jésus ne leur avait pas révélé qui il était dans ses enseignements, alors ils n’auraient pas commis le péché de le rejeter comme leur Messie, parce qu’ils auraient été dans l’ignorance – « il n’auraient pas de péché. » Mais, puisque Jésus leur a révélé son identité, “maintenant, ils n’ont aucune excuse de leur péché”. Rejeter Jésus est inexcusable ; ils sont coupables. Pourquoi ? Parce que Jésus leur a clairement déclaré la vérité au sujet de son identité et de celle de Dieu. Cependant, ils l’ont quand même rejeter. Et il n’y a pas d’excuse à cela. Aucune personne qui soit née dans ce monde n’aurait d’excuse de rejeter Christ devant le Trône Blanc du jugement de Dieu – rien à dire, pas d’excuse, pas de justification de soi. Pour quoi? Parce qu’ils ont entendu la vérité et l’ont rejeté.

« Celui qui Me hait, hait aussi Mon Père » (15 :23). Vous ne pouvez connaître Dieu qu’en connaissant et en croyant et en obéissant à Dieu. Si vous haïssez Jésus, vous haïssez le Père aussi. Les Juifs du temps de Jésus disaient que Dieu était leur Père mais, ils ont rejeté Jésus en tant que Fils de Dieu, le Messie. Cela est impossible parce que Jésus est un avec le Père. Vous pouvez revendiquer connaître Dieu, mais si vous rejetez Jésus, vous rejetez Dieu le Père aussi. Ainsi, des gens et des groupes religieux qui disent adorer Dieu mais renient la divinité de Christ, son expiation substitutive pour le péché, sa résurrection d’entre les morts, etc. ne connaissent pas Dieu et ne peuvent pas le connaître.

Ainsi, 1. Il n’y a pas d’excuse pour la haine de Christ, à cause des paroles qu’Il a dites. And, 2. Il n’y a pas d’excuse pour la haine de Christ, à cause des œuvres qu’Il a faits (15:24-25). « Si je n’avais pas fait parmi eux des œuvres que personne d’autre n’a faites, ils n’auraient pas de péché » (15 :24a). Non seulement les paroles de Jésus (15 :22) sont des preuves irréfutables de qui il est, mais ses œuvres le sont aussi. Il est le seul à avoir dit ce qu’il a dit et fait ce qu’il a fait. S’il n’avait pas fait des signes miraculeux qu’il a faits, alors, il dit : “ils n’auraient pas de péché”. Mais Jésus a fait « des œuvres que personne d’autre n’a fait. » et pour cette raison, chacun est responsable de sa réaction à son égard. « Mais maintenant, ils les ont vues, et ils m’ont haï et Moi et Mon Père » (15 :24b). Les gens du temps de Jésus ont montré leur réaction en le rejetant de son vivant et à sa mort. Un tel rejet était inexcusable en ce qui concerne l’identité de Jésus. En le rejetant ils ont rejeté Celui qui l’a envoyé.

Maintenant, ce n’est pas différent aujourd’hui. Nous avons la preuve des paroles et des œuvres de Jésus là, devant nous dans les Ecritures. Ainsi, tout un chacun est responsable de la manière dont il réagit par rapport aux preuves. Ce que nous voyons dans ce passage est que les preuves ne sont pas souvent suffisant pour convaincre certaines personnes de leur péché et de leur besoin d’un Sauveur. Telle est la dureté du cœur humain.

« Mais cela est arrivé afin que s’accomplît la parole qui est écrite dans leur loi : il m’ont haï sans cause » (15 :25). C’est malheureusement la triste vérité – « il m’ont haï sans cause ». Habituellement, les gens nous haïssent sans raison. Mais dans le cas de Jésus, ils l’on haï sans aucune raison. Cela va simplement montrer la dureté et la méchanceté incroyables du cœur humain ! Jésus est venu, faisant du bien aux gens gratuitement. Il a fait du bien à des gens qui ne le connaissaient même pas, guérissant ceux qui étaient malades, nourrissant ceux qui étaient affamés, et ressuscitant certains d’entre les morts. Il est venant déclarant des paroles de grâce et de miséricorde. Il est venu nous faire connaître Dieu.

En le haïssant sans cause, les détracteurs de Jésus accomplissaient deux choses par ignorance : (a) ils étaient responsables de sa mort ; et en même temps (b) ils ont accompli les desseins rédempteurs éternels de Dieu. Dieu a utilisé les actes méchants de l’homme, pour accomplir sa volonté parfaite, de telle sorte que les êtres humains sont responsables de la mort de Jésus, tandis qu’en même temps, par sa mort, Dieu offre la vie éternelle à la race humaine. Cela, c’est l’amour et la grâce merveilleux de Dieu !

Qu’avons-nous appris jusqu’ici ? Premièrement, le monde hait ceux qui suivent Christ (15 :18-20). Deuxièmement, il n’y a pas d’excuse à la haine contre Christ (15 :22-25). Ainsi donc, en tant que des leaders de Christ dans Son église, comment Le servons-nous et témoignons-nous de Lui dans un tel monde rempli de haine ? Bien, voici l’encouragement.

III. Malgre La Haine Du Monde, Nous Pouvons Temoigner De Christ (15 :26-27).

1. Nous pouvons témoigner de Christ par la puissance du Saint Esprit (15 :26). Dans 15 :18-25, Jésus a averti les disciples de la venue de la persécution et expliqué la raison pour laquelle ils seraient persécutes. Maintenant, dans15 :26-27, Jésus exhorte et réconforte les disciples en leur disant d’où viendrait notre source de force pour témoigner de Lui au milieu de l’opposition et de la persécution. Tout comme il leur avait dit au début du chapitre 14, Jésus nous rappelle encore que notre réconfort et notre puissance face à l’opposition, c’est le Saint Esprit. « Quand sera venu le consolateur, que je vous enverrai de la part du Père, l’Esprit de vérité, qui vient du Père, il rendra témoignage de moi » (15 :26). Jésus a promis que lorsqu’il retournerait au ciel, il enverrait « le Consolateur (l’Aide)…de la part du Père. » C’est ce qui, bien sûre, est arrivé à la Pentecôte.

La nature du Saint Esprit est “l’Esprit de vérité” (15 :26b). Tout comme la parole de Dieu est vérité et que Jésus est la vérité, le Saint Esprit est aussi la vérité parce que la Trinité est une. Ainsi, la nature du Saint Esprit est la vérité même et l’œuvre du Saint Esprit c’est de « rendre témoignage de Moi ». C’est là, l’un des rôles primaires du Saint Esprit dans le monde aujourd’hui. « Quand il sera venu, il convaincra le monde en ce qui concerne le péché, la justice et le jugement ». Dans le monde, le Saint Esprit témoigne de la plénitude du péché de la race humaine, de la plénitude de la grâce de Dieu, et de la plénitude de la merveille de la rédemption de Christ. Le Saint Esprit est “l’Esprit de vérité” qui atteste la vérité de Dieu.

Ainsi, 1. Nous pouvons témoigner de Christ par la puissance du Saint Esprit, et 2. Nous pouvons témoigner de Christ à cause de notre relation avec Lui (15 :27). « Et vous aussi, vous rendrez témoignage parce que vous êtes avec moi depuis le commencement » (15 :27). Très tôt, les disciples allaient expérimenter le manque total de témoignage pour Christ lorsqu’ils l’ont tous abandonné et fui. Mais après la venue du Saint Esprit, ils allaient être hardis et remplis de puissance pour être sans crainte. Des hommes qui avaient abandonné Christ par peur allaient bientôt être des hommes courageux, qui rendaient de Christ sans crainte, même jusqu’à la mort à cause de leur relation avec Lui depuis le commencement.

Comme les disciples, parce que nous avons une relation intime avec Christ, nous sommes rendus puissants par le Saint Esprit pour témoigner de la grâce de Dieu sans peur. Nous pouvons rendre témoignage face à la condition morale pitoyable de la race humaine. Nous pouvons rendre témoignage à la grâce salvatrice de Dieu en Christ. Et tout cela au milieu de l’opposition du monde. En tant que dirigeants d’églises, notre responsabilité aujourd’hui, c’est de donner l’exemple de comment témoigner de Christ même dans l’opposition. En tant que des personnes qui suivent Christ, le Saint Esprit demeure en nous et nous sommes placés dans le monde pour rendre témoignage de qui est Jésus, pourquoi il est venu, ce qu’il a fait, où il est maintenant, et son prochain retour. Nous rendons témoignage de lui chaque fois que nous prions pour notre nourriture. Nous rendons témoignage de lui chaque fois que nous disons une parole de la part de Christ aux autres. Nous rendons témoignage de lui quand nous prenons position contre ceux qui rabaissent Christ. Nous rendons témoignage de lui par notre style de vie, nos paroles, nos actions, nos priorités, nos associations, nos habitudes. Tout ce que nous disons ou faisons doit être avec pour but de glorifier Dieu par notre Seigneur Jésus Christ.

Observation Finales

Ce que nous avons appris dans ce passage est que : 1. Le monde hait ceux qui suivent Christ parce qu’il a haï Christ lui-même (15 :18-20) ; 2. Il n’y a pas de haine contre Christ à cause of (a) des paroles qu’il a dites, et (b) des œuvres qu’il a faites (15 :22-25) ; cependant, 3. Malgré la haine du monde, nous pouvons fidèlement témoigner de Christ, (a) à cause de la puissance dont le Saint Esprit nous équipe (15 :26), et (b) à cause de notre relation avec Lui (15 :27). C’est ça notre consolation et notre encouragement.

Que cette parole soit un encouragement et un défi à chacun de nous aujourd’hui, spécialement ceux d’entre nous qui dirigeons et paissons le peuple de Dieu. Jésus a averti que rendre témoignage de lui ne sera pas facile. Et il nous a encouragé et équipé pour le faire malgré la haine du monde. Puissions-nous tenir ferme pour Lui dans un monde qui le hait.

III. Plan Du Message

Titre : Lettres Aux Sept Eglises : Sardes – Le Christianisme Nominal (Rev. 3 :1-6)

Thème : Une église peut entretenir une façade de Chrétienté, même quand elle est sur le point de mourir

Point I : Il y a une différence entre la renommée et la réalité : « Je connais tes œuvres. Je sais que tu passes pour être vivant, mais tu es mort ». (3 :1)

1. Par la renommée (« nom ») cette église était « vivante ».

Point II : Il y a une connivence entre se réveiller et travailler (3 :2)

1. Cette église devait « se réveiller » – et « de veiller »

2. Cette église devait « travailler » – « pour affermir ce qui reste »

Point III : Il y a la nécessité de se souvenir et de se repentir (3 :3-6)

1. Il est nécessaire de se souvenir du passé – « se rappeler de ce que vous avez reçu et entendu » (3 :3a)

2. C’est nécessaire de reconnaître le présent – « garde et repends-toi » (3 :3b)

3. Il est nécessaire de se refocaliser sur l’avenir

a) Beaucoup de dormeurs seront surpris par le jugement de Christ – « Si tu ne veilles pas, je viendrais comme un voleur, et tu ne sauras pas à quelle heure je viendrai sur toi » (3c)

b) Quelques saints seront satisfaits de l’approbation de Christ – « cependant, tu as à Sardes quelques hommes qui n’ont pas souillé leur vêtements » (3 :4a)

A ces saints fidèles, Christ promet…

- « Ils marcheront avec moi en vêtements blancs, parce qu’ils en sont dignes. Celui qui vaincra sera revêtu de vêtements blancs » (3 :4b-5a)

- Je n’effacerai pas son nom du Livre de Vie (3 :5b-c)

Conclusion : « Que celui qui a des oreilles entende ce qui dit l’Esprit aux Eglises » (3 :6).

Related Topics: Pastors

Jurnalul Electronic Al Păstorilor, Rom Ed 37, Editia de toamnă 2020

A ministry of…

Author: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
Email: [email protected]

I. Consolidarea Interpretării Biblice
„Cum Să Citim Și Să Înțelegem Biblia” (Partea A 4-A)

Introducere

Aceasta este partea a patra a studiului nostru intitulat „Consolidarea interpretării biblice: Cum să citim și să înțelegem Biblia.” În primele trei părți ale acestui studiu (numerele 34, 35 și 36 ale acestui jurnal) am privit la următoarele aspecte:

Prima parte

1. Trei sarcini de bază în procesul de interpretare biblică

2. Două întrebări hermeneutice importante

Partea a 2-a

1. Interpretarea literală

2. Cum interpretăm anumite genuri literare și procedee stilistice

3. Un singur sens; mai multe aplicații

4. Impactul culturii asupra înțelegerii noastre – cultura antică și cultura contemporană

Partea a 3-a

1. Două extreme: interpretarea culturală vs. interpretarea transculturală

2. Două exemple de interpretare culturală vs. interpretare transculturală

a) Spălarea picioarelor

b) Acoperirea capului la femei

3. Patru reguli pentru înțelegerea și interpretarea chestiunilor culturale

Acum, în partea a patra, vom schița Zece reguli simple ale interpretării biblice. Am găsit cartea lui R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture [Cunoașterea Scripturii], p. 63-99, ca fiind de mare ajutor pe această temă.

REGULA #1: Interpretează Scriptura în conformitate cu semnificația intenționată de autor

Dacă ai studiat bine textul, ar trebui să poți formula în scris ceea ce autorul a vrut să transmită primilor săi destinatari. Trebuie să fii în stare să formulezi semnificația mesajului original înainte de ajunge la semnificația sa pentru ascultătorii tăi. Eu recomand să reformulezi pasajul în cuvintele tale (să îl parafrazezi). În felul acesta îți vei da seama dacă înțelegi semnificația textului. Dacă nu o înțelegi, nu vei putea să o exprimi în cuvintele tale. Încearcă să o scrii amplificând semnificația cuvintelor și a expresiilor și explicând figurile de stil în cuvintele tale.

REGULA #2: Interpretează un text din Scriptură în lumina altor texte din Scriptură

Noi credem că Scriptura este de inspirație divină, prin urmare credem și că nicio parte din Scriptură nu contrazice și nu este în conflict cu o altă parte din Scriptură, pentru că Dumnezeu nu se poate contrazice singur.

Principiul acesta (de a interpreta un text din Scriptură în lumina altor texte din Scriptură) este foarte important din două motive. În primul rând, din cauza atacurilor necredincioșilor împotriva Scripturii. Una din principalele acuzații ale necredincioșilor împotriva Scripturii este că aceasta se contrazice singură. Biblia are peste 40 de autori umani și a fost scrisă de-a lungul unei perioade lungi de peste 16 secole, prin urmare, dacă nu ar fi inspirată în mod divin, ar fi foarte posibil să apară în ea contradicții și nepotriviri. Însă interpretând orice text din Scriptură în lumina altor texte din Scriptură, poți să arăți că Scriptura nu se contrazice.

În al doilea rând, interpretarea unui text din Scriptură în lumina altor texte din Scriptură este un principiu important datorită atitudinii cu care creștinii citesc Scriptura. Creștinii nu citesc și interpretează Biblia cu scopul de a găsi nepotriviri în text (ca necreștinii). Mai degrabă, căutăm inconsecvențe în interpretarea noastră asupra textului, care ar putea fi dezvăluite cu ajutorul principiului care spune: „Interpretează un text din Scriptură în lumina altor texte din Scriptură.” Mai mult, citim și interpretăm Scriptura cu o atitudine de supunere față de autoritatea inerentă a Scripturii, față de acuratețea, integritatea și coeziunea textului, așa că dacă există o contradicție sau o inconsecvență în interpretarea noastră, problema e la noi, nu la text.

Așadar, un principiu de bază al interpretării biblice sănătoase este acesta: Pentru a înțelege corect un text din Scriptură, trebuie să aduci în discuție alte texte biblice, fie asemănătoare, fie contrastante. Dacă interpretarea pe care o dai unui text intră în conflict cu învățătura altui text care are un mesaj asemănător sau contrastant, atunci interpretarea ta nu este corectă. Dacă există mai multe opțiuni de interpretare pentru un verset sau un text, iar varianta pe care ai ales-o tu nu este compatibilă cu alte texte similare sau contrastante, atunci acea variantă de interpretare trebuie respinsă și aleasă alta care nu are probleme de compatibilitate.

Respectarea acestei reguli de interpretare biblică ajută în câteva moduri:

(1) Extinde studiul și expunerea textului aducând mai multă lumină asupra sa din alte texte biblice.

(2) Acționează ca un mijloc de protecție care ne împiedică să interpretăm textul într-un mod care să nu fie compatibil cu alte texte biblice.

(3) Ne garantează înțelegerea revelației progresive a lui Dumnezeu din Scriptură. Odată cu trecerea timpului, Dumnezeu S-a revelat tot mai mult pe Sine, ne-a revelat voia Sa, scopurile Sale etc. în Scriptură.

(4) Ne ajută să vedem modul în care Dumnezeu s-a raportat la poporul Său și a lucrat cu poporul în diferite perioade. Așadar, Scriptura nu este numai o descoperire progresivă a revelației divine, ci și o descoperire progresivă a relației lui Dumnezeu cu omenirea.

REGULA #3: Folosește textele majore, clare și multe din Scriptură pentru a le explica pe cele mai puțin clare, mai mici și mai puține.

Revelația Scripturii este progresivă, prin urmare este de înțeles faptul că revelația timpurie poate fi mai puțin clară decât revelația ulterioară, prima fiind parțială și uneori neclară. Acele texte din Scriptură care tratează parțial un subiect nu au autoritate de interpretare asupra textelor mai complexe și mai clare care tratează același subiect. Revelațiile clare și majore le clarifică pe cele mai puțin clare și mai mici.

Aceasta subliniază din nou nevoia de a avea regula #2: Interpretează un text din Scriptură în lumina altor texte biblice.

REGULA #4: Ai grijă atunci când tragi concluzii și faci deducții „logice”.

Regula aceasta este strâns legată de regula precedentă. Ceea ce pare o deducție sau o concluzie logică din Scriptură se poate să nu fie adevărată. Ceea ce ni se pare nouă logic se poate să nu fie logic din perspectiva lui Dumnezeu. În mod clar, dacă învățătura explicită contrazice concluzia ta logică sau ceea ce ție ți se pare subînțeles, atunci învățătura explicită are prioritate. Așadar, este important să cauți învățătură explicită care susține ceea ce tu crezi că reiese din text.

Este atât de ușor să adoptăm interpretări și aplicații ale Scripturii bazate pe deducții logice sau presupuse învățături subînțelese sau concluzii pe care le tragem din text și care nu corespund deloc cu ceea ce autorul a vrut să transmită.

Trebuie să fim foarte atenți în ce privește deducțiile și concluziile; pe de altă parte, însă, trebuie să identificăm principiile generale ce reies din detaliile specifice ale textului atunci când îl studiem. Ai grijă ca acele concluzii pe care le tragi din text să fie principiile fundamentale, universale și eterne revelate în text.

REGULA #5: Nu forța Scriptura să atingă un standard literar nejustificat

Când spun „standard literar nejustificat” mă refer la un standard pe care nu l-ai pretinde de la nicio altă scriere literară. R. C. Sproul se referă la lucrul acesta atunci când spune „citește Biblia ca orice altă carte” (Knowing Scripture, [Cunoașterea Scripturii] 63). Un alt comentator explică lucrul acesta astfel: „Atunci când interpretăm Biblia, să nu avem așteptări mai mari decât de la orice altă scriere literară serioasă” (Mal Couch, ed. A Biblical Theology of the Church, [O teologie biblică a bisericii] 15).

Bineînțeles, Biblia nu este doar ca orice altă carte pentru că: (1) este unică (nicio carte nu este ca Biblia); (2) este divină (nu este niciun autor ca Cel al Bibliei); (3) este inspirată (nu este nicio altă sursă, comunicare, revelație sau putere ca cea a Bibliei).

Totuși, trebuie să o citim ca pe orice altă carte în sensul că Biblia folosește cuvinte scrise, ca orice altă carte – cuvinte care aveau un anume sens atunci când au fost scrise; cuvinte care trebuie să fie interpretate și înțelese în concordanță cu regulile gramaticale obișnuite din acea vreme și care au fost scrise pentru a fi înțelese astfel. De asemenea, nu trebuie să îi atribuim libertăți literare pe care nu le-am atribui altei scrieri literare.

Să reținem însă acest avertisment: chiar dacă înțelegem corect semnificația cuvintelor și gramatica, aceasta nu înseamnă că oricine citește Biblia va ajunge neapărat la concluziile corecte cu privire la ce spune aceasta și la modul în care se aplică în viețile noastre. Pentru aceasta avem nevoie de iluminarea Duhului Sfânt, pe care numai credincioșii Îl au. Necredincioșii pot înțelege cuvintele de pe pagină; pot analiza gramatica textului; pot face o analiză literară pe care ar face-o oricărei alte scrieri literare. Însă necredincioșii nu pot ajunge la concluzii corecte pentru că ei nu au parte de iluminarea Duhului Sfânt (1 Cor. 2:14; Ef. 4:18) – ei nu pot înțelege Biblia decât la nivel de literatură. Chiar dacă au o înțelegere intelectuală, totuși nu au înțelegere spirituală. Astfel, necredincioșii nu se supun autorității Scripturii; trag concluzii greșite din ea; nu pot să vadă semnificația spirituală a Scripturii; nu îi acordă valoarea cuvenită; nu acceptă implicațiile Scripturii în privința credinței și a trăirii; și nu vor accepta aplicarea Scripturii la viața lor. Pentru a acorda Scripturii valoarea cuvenită, pentru a ajunge la concluzii corecte cu privire la ce spune ea și pentru a o aplica relevant la viața noastră, avem nevoie de iluminarea Duhului Sfânt.

Atunci când spun „să nu forțezi Scriptura să atingă un standard literar nejustificat”, mă refer la faptul că structurile sale gramaticale (cuvinte, expresii, propoziții etc.), contextele sale (istoric, cultural, politic etc.) și genurile sale literare (poetic, narativ etc.) trebuie analizate în același fel în care analizăm orice altă scriere literară, însă prin împuternicirea Duhului Sfânt. Această metodă obiectivă de interpretare biblică ne ferește de interpretarea subiectivă, mistică și neștiințifică, prin care cititorul poate face textul să spună tot ce vrea sau gândește el.

REGULA #6: Citește și interpretează Biblia dintr-o perspectivă aplicativă personală.

Nu te întreba „Ce înseamnă aceasta pentru mine?”, ci „Cum se aplică la mine lucrul acesta?” Când ne punem această întrebare, nu doar descoperim aplicația actuală și relevantă pentru noi, ci în primul rând aflăm cum s-a aplicat textul la oamenii cărora le-a fost adresată inițial scrierea. Văzând cum autorul și-a construit argumentul și cum l-a aplicat la situația de viață a primilor săi destinatari (i.e. de ce scria, ce problemă trata etc.), descoperim modul în care s-ar putea aplica la noi înșine, respectând limitele sensului original al textului.

Vă rog să rețineți această limitare: deși un adevăr poate fi aplicat în multe moduri, totuși aplicațiile sunt limitate la învățătura originală a autorului. Nu ai autoritatea de a aplica Scriptura oricum vrei tu, tot așa cum nu ai autoritatea de a o interpreta în orice mod vrei tu. Cineva spunea: „Există mai multă erezie în zona aplicațiilor decât în zona explicațiilor.”

Așadar, trebuie să citim și să interpretăm Biblia dintr-o perspectivă aplicativă personală, identificând semnificația originală dată de autor textului respectiv (și ceea ce primii săi destinatari au înțeles); identificând situația de viață a primilor destinatari (și cum li s-au aplicat cele scrise în text); și apoi aplicându-l în mod corespunzător la propria noastră cultură și situație de viață (i.e. într-un mod care corespunde cu situația originală și în concordanță cu acesta).

REGULA #7: Identifică genul literar și procedeele stilistice și interpretează-le în mod corespunzător.

Am definit deja ceea ce eu numesc interpretare literală, mai ales când este vorba despre procedee stilistice (cum ar fi figurile de stil) și genuri literare (cum ar fi poezia, genul apocaliptic, alegoria etc.). Fiecare gen literar trebuie interpretat în mod corespunzător. De exemplu, poezia ebraică trebuie interpretată în concordanță cu structurile și tradițiile sale - ex. paralelismele etc. (ex. Ps. 2:4; Prov. 1:20; Gen. 4:23; Is. 55:6-7). Trebuie să facem diferența între proverb și lege. Ca și proverbele noastre, nici cele ebraice nu au fost intenționate să fie truisme universale pentru toți oamenii din toate timpurile, ci principii generale care sunt universal valabile pentru cei care trăiesc o viață evlavioasă.

REGULA #8: Studiază cu multă atenție structurile gramaticale și sensul cuvintelor

Nu poți interpreta în mod corect Scriptura dacă nu acorzi o importanță deosebită gramaticii – (1) părți de vorbire (ex. substantiv, verb); (2) forma fiecărui cuvânt (ex. singular sau plural; timpul prezent sau viitor etc.); (3) semnificația și folosirea cuvintelor în contextul lor și relația dintre ele (i.e. sintaxa) pentru a forma expresii, propoziții și paragrafe. Nu forța cuvintele să spună ceea ce vrei tu să spună sau ceea ce crezi tu că înseamnă, pe baza semnificației lor contemporane. Trebuie să înțelegi cuvântul așa cum a fost folosit în contextul său literar, cultural și istoric original. Nu uita că uneori cuvintele își schimbă semnificația de-a lungul timpului.

Acordă atenție cuvintelor care se repetă, cuvintelor importante și cuvintelor-cheie. Cuvintele și expresiile care se repetă de obicei îți spun ceva despre ceea ce autorul vrea să scoată în evidență și / sau subiectul textului (ex. Fil. 1:27; 2:2,3,5; 3:15,16; 4:2,7). Cuvintele importante ar putea fi: (1) Termeni teologici (ex. justificare); sau (2) Verbul principal dintr-o propoziție; sau (3) Conjuncții și prepoziții. Cuvintele nu pot fi interpretate făcând abstracție de folosirea lor. Așadar, asigură-te că determini sensul unui cuvânt analizând forma și folosirea sa în context. Când ai un cuvânt cu sensuri multiple, trebuie să te uiți la contextul său, precum și la alte folosiri ale cuvântului în Biblie pentru a-i determina sensul.

REGULA #9: Citește și interpretează Biblia din perspectivă cristologică.

Ce vreau să spun prin aceasta este că trebuie să citim Biblia din perspectiva Noului Testament. Fiecare mesaj trebuie să indice înspre Hristos sau înspre viața creștină în Hristos. În fiecare predică accentul trebuie să cadă pe mântuire (cf. Bryan Chapell, “Fallen Condition Focus [Accentul pe condiția omului după cădere]” (FCF) în Christ Centered Preaching [Predicarea cristocentrică], 1994). Iar accentul acesta nu este numai pe mântuirea celor pierduți, ci și pe creșterea credincioșilor pentru ca ei să devină așa cum îi dorește Dumnezeu. Chapell afirmă că „o înțelegere corectă a unui pasaj precum și esența unei predici presupun focalizarea pe condiția omului după cădere” (Bryan Chapell, 42).

Din punct de vedere teologic, scopul fiecărei predici trebuie să coincidă cu scopul textului biblic, care este „un aspect al condiției umane care cere învățare, mustrare și / sau mângâiere din Scriptură” (Chapell, 43). Urmărind acest obiectiv, fiecare predică va urmări același scop.

REGULA #10: Citește și interpretează Biblia din perspectivă teologică.

Caută indicii în text despre adevărul (adevărurile) exprimat(e) de autor. Întreabă-te: (1) Ce doctrină (teologie) discută autorul? (2) Care este adevărul dominant ce reiese din text? Nu încerca să impui textului preferințele tale doctrinale! Nu citi în text mai mult decât scrie! Întreabă-te: (1) Ce spune textul despre Dumnezeu? (2) Ce spune despre relația omului cu Dumnezeu? (3) Ce spune despre modul în care trebuie să trăim pentru Dumnezeu? Dacă nu găsești în text răspunsul la aceste întrebări, probabil că nu știi care este ideea teologică a textului.

Dificultatea acestei sarcini depinde adesea de genul literar. Genul non-didactic poate fi mai provocator atunci când trebuie să identifici învățătura textului – să luăm, de pildă, Cântarea Cântărilor sau cartea lui Iona. Cartea lui Iona vorbește despre modul în care lucrează Dumnezeu cu un profet îndărătnic? Sau despre suveranitatea lui Dumnezeu în toate circumstanțele – în natură (furtuni, plante și viermi), asupra marinarilor păgâni, asupra profeților îndărătnici și a neamurilor păcătoase etc.?

Din acest punct de vedere, trebuie să fii foarte atent atunci când interpretezi textele narative și să te asiguri că înțelegi învățătura lor. Trebuie să extragi ideea teologică din detaliile narațiunii.

II. Consolidarea Conducerii Biblice
„Slujind Stăpânului Nostru Într-O Lume Care Îl Urăște: Un Studiu Exegetic Pe Ioan 15:18-27”

Ca lideri creștini, adesea ne confruntăm cu respingere atât din partea bisericilor, cât și din partea lumii. A fi creștin poate fi un lucru provocator și adesea chiar intimidant, nu-i așa? Lumea este atât de împotrivitoare evangheliei și lui Hristos. Uneori, animozitatea lor ne face să ne fie teamă să rămânem fideli lui Hristos. Dar iată încurajarea – Isus a zis: V-am spus aceste lucruri ca să aveți pace în Mine. În lume veți avea necazuri; dar îndrăzniți, Eu am biruit lumea” (In. 16:33).

Așadar, ce facem noi, ca lideri ai poporului lui Dumnezeu, să ne încurajăm bisericile să-L mărturisească pe Hristos atunci când cultura în care ne găsim este atât de ostilă? Acesta este subiectul nostru în acest articol: „Mărturisirea lui Hristos într-o lume care Îl urăște” (In. 15:18-27). Sper ca acest studiu biblic să vă ajute și să vă încurajeze, în acest context în care devine tot mai dificil să-l mărturisești pe Hristos în mod public în lumea aceasta.

În pasajul nostru, Isus tocmai Își îndemnase ucenicii să rămână în El (15:1-11) și să se iubească unii pe alții (15:12-17). Isus merge mai departe acum, avertizându-i cu privire la ura lumii împotriva Sa și, prin urmare, și împotriva lor, urmașii Săi (15:18-25) și îi încurajează să depună mărturie despre El în mijlocul acestei uri (15:26-27).

Principiul pe care îl învățăm din acest pasaj este că „În ciuda împotrivirii din partea lumii, Îl putem mărturisi pe Hristos cu credincioșie.” Observăm trei principii teologice în acest text…

I. Lumea Îi Urăște Pe Urmașii Lui Hristos (18-20).

Observați că 1. Lumea îi urăște pe urmașii lui Hristos pentru că L-a urât pe Hristos mai întâi (15:18). „Dacă vă urăște lumea, știți că pe Mine M-a urât înaintea voastră” (15:18). Când Isus spune, „dacă” vă urăște lumea, nu vrea să spună că poate vă va urî sau poate nu. Acest „dacă” este unul cauzal, nu un „dacă” condițional. Lumea îi urăște pe urmașii lui Hristos – nu există îndoială în privința aceasta.

Ucenicii experimentaseră deja lucrul acesta. Ei știau ce se întâmplase cu omul născut orb și cu părinții lui în capitolul 9. Ei știau că părinții orbului „se temeau de iudei; căci iudeii hotărâseră acum că, dacă va mărturisi cineva că Isus este Hristosul, să fie dat afară din sinagogă” (9:22). Iudeii pur și simplu intimidau oamenii, deoarece aceștia experimentaseră puterea vindecătoare a lui Isus. Iudeii erau hotărâți să reducă la tăcere mărturia despre ceea ce făcuse Isus pentru fiul lor. În zilele ce urmau, ucenicii aveau să experimenteze o ură și mai mare din partea lumii. Există o ură înnăscută ce izvorăște din cei ce opun cu înverșunare lui Hristos. Adevărul este că lumea îi urăște pe creștini pentru că L-a urât pe Hristos. Lumea este plină de bărbați și femei a căror ură satanică pentru Hristos se manifestă în ura lor față de urmașii lui Hristos.

Isus Își încurajează ucenicii spunându-le: „Dacă vă urăște lumea, știți că pe Mine M-a urât înaintea voastră (15:18).” Mângâierea creștinilor care au parte de ură din partea lumii este faptul că suferă alături de Mântuitorul lor. Isus S-a confruntat mai întâi cu ura din partea lumii, iar creștinii suferă pentru Hristos acum. Apostolul Pavel spune că acesta este un privilegiu, un dar: „Căci, cu privire la Hristos, vouă vi s-a dat harul nu numai să credeţi în El, ci să şi pătimiţi pentru El” (Fil. 1:30). Isus nu ne cheamă să experimentăm lucruri pe care nu le-a experimentat El mai întâi. Din cauza suferinței și a împotrivirii, mulți din ucenicii lui Isus L-au părăsit (In. 6:66). Nu au putut suporta împotrivirea, respingerea, umilirea, pedeapsa fizică. Mulți creștini din zilele noastre întâmpină această provocare.

Așadar, 1. Lumea îi urăște pe urmașii lui Hristos pentru că L-a urât pe Hristos mai întâi; 2. Lumea îi urăște pe urmașii lui Hristos pentru că noi am fost aleși de Hristos (15:19-20). „Dacă ați fi din lume, lumea ar iubi ce este al ei; dar, pentru că nu sunteți din lume și pentru că Eu v-am ales din mijlocul lumii, de aceea vă urăște lumea” (15:19). A fi „din lume” înseamnă a te identifica cu lumea, a susține credințele și principiile sale morale, a-ți însuși obiceiurile și caracterul lumii. Dacă faci asta, Isus spune că „lumea ar iubi ce este al ei”. Dacă ai trăi după standardele lumii și ai fi motivat de ele, lumea te-ar accepta ca pe unul de-al ei. Însă adevărul este că lumea nu te acceptă. De fapt, lumea vă urăște „pentru că nu sunteți din lume.” Motivul pentru care nu sunteți din lume este că Isus v-a „ales din mijlocul lumii.”

Ai înțeles? Isus spune că există un singur motiv pentru care nu ești acceptat de lume și nu ești supus acesteia, și anume pentru că „Eu v-am ales din mijlocul lumii”. Acesta este harul suveran și îndurarea Sa față de ucenicii Săi. Ucenicii erau despărțiți de „lume” nu pentru că era ceva bun sau merituos în ei în fața lui Dumnezeu, ci pentru că ei fuseseră aleși de Isus în mod suveran. Și la fel cum Isus i-a chemat pe ucenici în mod suveran, tot așa îi cheamă pe toți credincioșii de astăzi să vină la El, să fie urmașii și reprezentanții Lui. Și asta este ceea ce ne face să fim diferiți de lume. Noi am fost chemați din mijlocul lumii de Dumnezeu și puși deoparte pentru El, pentru ca El să ne folosească în mod exclusiv pentru scopurile Sale.

Repetând ceea ce le spusese deja în 13:16, Isus spune: „Aduceți-vă aminte de vorba pe care v-am spus-o: „Robul nu este mai mare decât stăpânul său’” (15:20a). Ucenicii lui Isus nu se pot aștepta la un tratament mai bun decât a primit Isus Însuși. El nu a fost scutit de persecuție și nici noi nu suntem. „Dacă M-au prigonit pe Mine, și pe voi vă vor prigoni; dacă au păzit cuvântul Meu, și pe al vostru îl vor păzi” (15:20b). Cu alte cuvinte, modul în care lumea se raportează la Isus este același mod în care se va raporta și la noi, urmașii Lui. Dacă L-au persecutat pe El, îi vor persecuta și pe urmașii Lui. Și invers, dacă au ascultat cuvântul Lui, vor asculta și cuvântul urmașilor Lui. Pe scurt, lumea va reacționa față de tine în același fel în care a reacționat față de Isus.

Lumea îi urăște pe urmașii lui Hristos - 1. pentru că L-a urât pe Hristos mai întâi; 2. pentru că creștinii au fost aleși de Hristos din lume și 3. Lumea îi urăște pe urmașii lui Hristos pentru că lumea nu Îl cunoaște pe Dumnezeu (15:21). „Dar vă vor face toate aceste lucruri pentru Numele Meu, pentru că ei nu cunosc pe Cel ce M-a trimis” (15:21). Lumea îi va persecuta și îi va urî pe cei ce poartă numele lui Isus, „pentru că ei nu cunosc pe Cel ce M-a trimis.” Nu îl poți cunoaște pe Dumnezeu decât prin Isus Hristos. Dacă Îl urăști pe Isus, înseamnă că nu Îl cunoști pe Dumnezeu – „Cel care L-a trimis.” Oricine Îl cunoaște cu adevărat pe Dumnezeu știe că Isus este singurul Său Fiu etern, pe care L-a trimis în lume. Dacă ar fi știut că Isus era Cel trimis de Dumnezeu, nu s-ar fi purtat așa cu El. Biblia spune că „Tatăl a trimis pe Fiul ca să fie Mântuitorul lumii” (1 In. 4:14).

Așadar, primul principiu teologic din acest pasaj este că lumea îi urăște pe urmașii lui Hristos. Însă, observați al doilea principiu teologic…

II. Nu Există Scuză Pentru Ura Lumii Împotriva Lui Hristos (15:22-25).

1. Nu există scuză pentru ura împotriva lui Hristos cauzată de cuvintele pe care El le-a rostit (15:22-23). „Dacă n-aș fi venit și nu le-aș fi vorbit, n-ar avea păcat; dar acum n-au nicio dezvinovățire pentru păcatul lor” (15:22). Adevărul este că ar fi trebuit să știe cine era Isus. El a venit ca să li-L facă cunoscut pe Dumnezeu și a făcut lucrul acesta prin cuvinte și prin fapte. Dacă Isus nu le-ar fi revelat cine era El prin învățătura Sa, atunci ei nu s-ar fi făcut vinovați de păcatul respingerii Sale ca Mesia al lor, pentru că ar fi fost neștiutori – „n-ar avea păcat.” Însă, pentru că Isus le-a descoperit cine era, „acum n-au nicio dezvinovățire pentru păcatul lor.” A-L respinge pe Isus este un lucru de neiertat; oamenii aceștia sunt vinovați. De ce? Pentru că Isus le-a spus clar adevărul despre cine este El și cine este Dumnezeu. Și totuși, ei tot L-au respins. Și nu există nicio scuză pentru lucrul acesta. Nicio persoană care s-a născut vreodată în lumea aceasta nu va avea vreo scuză pentru respingerea lui Isus atunci când va sta înaintea marelui tron alb de judecată al lui Dumnezeu – nimic de spus, nicio scuză, nicio justificare. De ce? Pentru că au auzit adevărul și l-au respins.

„Cine Mă urăște pe Mine urăște și pe Tatăl Meu” (15:23). Nu poți să Îl cunoști pe Dumnezeu decât cunoscându-L pe Hristos și crezând în El. Dacă Îl urăști pe Isus, Îl urăști și pe Tatăl. Evreii din vremea lui Isus pretindeau că Dumnezeu era Tatăl lor, însă ei L-au respins pe Isus, nerecunoscându-L ca Fiul lui Dumnezeu, Mesia. Lucrul acesta este imposibil, pentru că Isus și Tatăl sunt una. Poți să spui că Îl cunoști pe Dumnezeu, însă dacă Îl respingi pe Isus, Fiul lui Dumnezeu, Îl respingi și pe Dumnezeu Tatăl. Așadar, oamenii și grupurile religioase care pretind că se închină lui Dumnezeu, însă neagă divinitatea lui Hristos, ispășirea Sa substitutivă pentru păcate, învierea Sa din morți etc., nu Îl cunosc și nu pot să Îl cunoască pe Dumnezeu.

Așadar, 1. nu există scuză pentru ura împotriva lui Hristos cauzată de cuvintele pe care El le-a rostit. Și 2. nu există scuză pentru ura împotriva lui Hristos cauzată de lucrările pe care El le-a făcut (15:24-25). „Dacă n-aș fi făcut între ei lucrări pe care nimeni altul nu le-a făcut, n-ar avea păcat” (15:24a). Cuvintele lui Isus (15:22) sunt o dovadă incontestabilă a cine este El și la fel sunt și lucrările Lui. Cuvintele și lucrările Sale au fost unice. Dacă nu ar fi făcut semnele miraculoase pe care le-a făcut, atunci, spune El, „n-ar avea păcat.” Însă Isus a făcut „lucrări pe care nimeni altul nu le-a făcut” și din acest motiv oamenii sunt responsabili de modul în care răspund față de El. „Dar acum le-au și văzut, și M-au urât și pe Mine și pe Tatăl Meu” (15:24b). Răspunsul oamenilor din vremea lui Isus a fost să-L respingă în timpul vieții Sale, precum și la moartea Sa. O astfel de respingere era de neiertat pentru că dovezile cu privire la persoana Sa erau de necontestat. Respingându-L pe El, Îl respingeau și pe Cel care L-a trimis pe El.

Și astăzi se întâmplă tot așa. Avem dovada cuvintelor și lucrărilor lui Isus chiar în fața noastră, în Scriptură. Așadar, orice om este responsabil de modul în care răspunde în fața acestei dovezi. Ce vedem în textul acesta este că adesea dovezile nu sunt suficiente pentru a-i convinge pe unii oameni de faptul că sunt păcătoși și au nevoie de un Salvator. Atât de împietrită este inima omului!

„Dar lucrul acesta s-a întâmplat ca să se împlinească vorba scrisă în Legea lor: «M-au urât fără temei»” (15:25). Iată un adevăr tragic de trist – „M-au urât fără temei.” Oamenii care ne urăsc de obicei au un motiv. Însă în cazul lui Isus, L-au urât fără temei. Aceasta arată incredibila împietrire și răutate a inimii umane! Isus a făcut bine oamenilor fără bani și fără plată. Le-a făcut bine și celor care nu Îl cunoșteau, vindecându-i pe cei bolnavi, hrănindu-i pe cei flămânzi și înviindu-i din morți pe unii din ei. El a adus un mesaj de har și îndurare. El a venit să ni-L facă cunoscut pe Dumnezeu.

Urându-L pe Isus fără temei, vrăjmașii Lui au împlinit, fără să știe, două lucruri: (a) au fost responsabili pentru moartea Lui; și, în același timp, (b) au împlinit planul veșnic de mântuire al lui Dumnezeu. Dumnezeu a folosit faptele rele ale oamenilor pentru împlinirea voii Sale desăvârșite, astfel încât ființele umane sunt responsabile pentru moartea lui Isus, și în același timp, prin moartea Sa, Dumnezeu oferă viață veșnică rasei umane. Aceasta este dragostea magnifică a lui Dumnezeu și harul Său!

Ce am învățat până aici? În primul rând, lumea îi urăște pe urmașii lui Hristos (15:18-20). În al doilea rând, nu există scuză pentru ura împotriva lui Hristos (15:22-25). Așadar, noi, ca lideri ai lui Hristos în biserica Sa, cum Îl slujim cu credincioșie și cum mărturisim despre El într-o astfel de lume plină de ură? Iată încurajarea…

III. În Ciuda Urii Din Partea Lumii, Îl Putem Mărturisi Pe Hristos (15:26-27).

1. Îl putem mărturisi pe Hristos datorită împuternicirii Duhului Sfânt (15:26). În Ioan 15:18-25, Isus i-a avertizat pe ucenici că va veni persecuția și le-a explicat motivele pentru care vor fi persecutați. Acum, în 15:26-27, Isus îi încurajează pe ucenici, spunându-le de unde ne va veni puterea de a-L mărturisi pe El în mijlocul împotrivirii și persecuției. Așa cum le spusese la începutul capitolului 14, Isus le amintește din nou că mângâierea și puterea noastră în fața opoziției este Duhul Sfânt. „Când va veni Mângâietorul, pe care-L voi trimite de la Tatăl, adică Duhul adevărului, care purcede de la Tatăl, El va mărturisi despre Mine” (15:26). Isus le-a promis că atunci când se va întoarce în cer, le va trimite pe „Mângâietorul… de la Tatăl.” Aceasta, bineînțeles, este ceea ce s-a întâmplat la Rusalii.

Duhului Sfânt este, prin natura Sa, „Duhul adevărului” (15:26b). La fel cum Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu este adevărul și Isus este adevărul, tot așa și Duhul Sfânt este adevărul pentru că Persoanele Sfintei Treimi sunt una. Așadar, natura Duhului Sfânt este adevărul însuși, iar lucrarea Duhului Sfânt este aceea de a „mărturisi despre Mine.” Acesta este unul din principalele roluri ale Duhului Sfânt astăzi în lume. Isus spune în 16:8: „Și când va veni El, va dovedi lumea vinovată în ce privește păcatul, neprihănirea și judecata.” În lume, Duhul Sfânt mărturisește despre păcătoșenia cumplită a rasei umane, despre îndurarea inimaginabilă a lui Dumnezeu și despre miracolul de neînchipuit al răscumpărării lui Hristos. Duhul Sfânt este „Duhul adevărului”, care mărturisește despre adevărul lui Dumnezeu.

Așadar, 1. Putem depune mărturie pentru Hristos datorită împuternicirii Duhului Sfânt și 2. Îl putem mărturisi pe Hristos datorită relației noastre cu El (15:27). „Și voi, de asemenea, veți mărturisi, pentru că ați fost cu Mine de la început” (15:27). Ucenicii urmau să experimenteze foarte curând lipsa totală a mărturisirii despre Hristos, atunci când toți L-au părăsit și au fugit. Însă la venirea Duhului Sfânt, ei vor fi îmbărbătați și împuterniciți să mărturisească fără teamă. Bărbații speriați care L-au părăsit pe Hristos vor fi în curând bărbați curajoși, care-L vor mărturisi pe Hristos fără teamă chiar până la moarte, datorită relației lor cu El de la început.

Ca și ucenicii, pentru că avem o relație personală cu Hristos, suntem împuterniciți de Duhul Sfânt să mărturisim fără teamă despre harul lui Dumnezeu. Putem mărturisi despre condiția morală jalnică a rasei umane. Putem mărturisi despre harul salvator al lui Dumnezeu în Hristos. Și toate acestea în mijlocul împotrivirii din partea lumii. Ca lideri ai bisericii, responsabilitatea noastră astăzi este să fim un exemplu în ce privește mărturisirea lui Hristos chiar și în mijlocul împotrivirilor. Fiind ucenicii Săi, Duhul Sfânt locuiește în noi și suntem puși în lume pentru a mărturisi despre cine este Isus, de ce a venit, ce a făcut, unde este acum, precum și despre iminenta Sa întoarcere. Noi mărturisim despre El de fiecare dată când ne rugăm înainte de masă. Mărturisim despre El de fiecare dată când spunem altora despre Hristos. Mărturisim despre El atunci când ne opunem celor care Îl înjosesc pe Hristos. Mărturisim despre El prin stilul nostru de viață, prin vorbirea noastră, faptele noastre, prioritățile noastre, asocierile noastre, obiceiurile noastre. În tot ceea ce spunem sau facem, trebuie să urmărim să Îi aducem glorie lui Dumnezeu prin Domnul nostru Isus Hristos.

Observații Finale

Iată de am învățat din pasajul acesta: 1. Lumea îi urăște pe urmașii lui Hristos pentru că L-au urât pe El mai întâi (15:18-20); 2. Nu există scuză pentru ura împotriva lui Hristos cauzată de (a) cuvintele pe care El le-a rostit și (b) de lucrările Sale (15:22-25); totuși, 3. În ciuda urii din partea lumii, Îl putem mărturisi cu credincioșie pe Hristos, (a) datorită împuternicirii Duhului Sfânt (15:26) și (b) datorită relației noastre cu El (15:27). Aceasta este mângâierea și încurajarea noastră.

Fie ca aceasta să fie încurajarea și provocarea noastră astăzi, mai ales pentru cei care conduc și păstoresc poporul lui Dumnezeu. Isus ne-a avertizat că nu va fi ușor să mărturisim despre El. Însă ne-a încurajat și ne-a echipat să facem aceasta, chiar în ciuda urii din partea lumii. Fie să Îi fim credincioși Lui în lumea aceasta care Îl urăște!

III. Schițe De Predici

Titlu: Scrisori Către Cele Șapte Biserici: Sardes- Creștinism Nominal (Apoc. 3:1-6)

Tema: Biserica poate arăta un creștinism de fațadă chiar și atunci când e aproape să moară

Punctul I: Există o diferență între reputație și realitate: „Știu faptele tale: că îți merge numele că trăiești, dar ești mort.” (3:1)

1. Reputația bisericii („numele”) era aceea de biserică vie

2. Însă în realitate era „moartă.”

Punctul II: Există o legătură între trezire și lucrare (3:2)

1. Biserica aceasta trebuia să „se trezească” – „veghează”

2. Biserica aceasta trebuia să „lucreze” – „întărește ce rămâne

Punctul III: Trebuie să ne amintim și ne pocăim (3:3-6)

1. Trebuie să ne amintim trecutul – „Adu-ți aminte, dar, cum ai primit și auzit!” (3:3a)

2. Trebuie să recunoaștem prezentul – „Ține și pocăiește-te!” (3:3b)

3. Trebuie să ne concentrăm din nou asupra viitorului

a) Mulți din cei care dorm vor fi luați prin surprindere de judecata lui Hristos – „Dacă nu veghezi, voi veni ca un hoț, și nu vei ști în care ceas voi veni peste tine.” (3c)

b) Câțiva sfinți vor primi aprobarea lui Hristos – „Totuși ai în Sardes câteva nume care nu și-au mânjit hainele” (3:4a)

Acestor puțini sfinți credincioși, Hristos le promite că…

- „Ei vor umbla împreună cu Mine, îmbrăcați în alb, fiindcă sunt vrednici. Cel ce va birui va fi îmbrăcat astfel în haine albe.” (3:4b-5a)

- „Nu-i voi șterge nicidecum numele din Cartea vieții.” (3:5b-c)

Concluzii: „Cine are urechi să asculte ce zice bisericilor Duhul” (3:6).

Related Topics: Pastors

Журнал для пасторов Net, Rus Ed 37, Осень 2020

Служение…института Библейского Проповедования

Усиливая церковь посредством Библейского проповедования и руководства

Автор: Проф. Роджер Паскоу, Президент,
Email: [email protected]

I. Усиливая Библейское Толкование
“Как Читать И Понимать Библию” (Ч. 4)

Введение

Это четвертая часть нашего продолжающегося изучения книги «Укрепление библейского толкования: как читать и понимать Библию». В предыдущих трех частях этого исследования (номера выпусков 34, 35 и 36 этого журнала) мы рассмотрели следующие темы:

Часть 1

1. Три основные задачи в толковании Библии

2. Два важных герменевтических вопроса

Part 2

1. Буквальное толкование

2. Толкование определенных литературных жанров и приемов.

3. Одно значение; множество применений

4. Влияние культуры на наше понимание - древние и современные культуры.

Part 3

1. Две крайности культурного и межкультурного толкования

2. Два примера культурного и межкультурного толкования

a) Омовение ног

b) Головные женские уборы

3. Четыре принципа понимания и толкования традиционных моментов в культуре

Теперь, в этой 4-й части, мы изложим десять простых правил библейского толкования В этом вопросе мне очень помог Р. К. Спроул, «Зная Священное Писание», с. 63–99.

ПРАВИЛО № 1: Толковать Священное Писание в соответствии с первоначально задуманным смыслом автора.

Если вы правильно и адекватно изучили текст, вы сможете записать то, что автор намеревался сказать своей первоначальной аудитории. Вы должны суметь заявить об этом, прежде чем переходить к тому, что это значит для вашей аудитории сегодня. Я рекомендую вам записать отрывок своими словами (перефразировать). Это покажет, знаете ли вы значение этого отрывка. Если вы не знаете, что это значит, вы не сможете описать это своими словами. Попробуйте записать это, расширив значение слов и фраз, объясняя образы своими словами.

ПРАВИЛО № 2: Толкуйте Писание в свете других мест из Писания

Поскольку мы верим, что Писание вдохновлено Богом, мы также верим, что никакая часть Писания не может противоречить или вступать в противоречие с другой частью Писания, поскольку Бог не может противоречить Себе.

Этот принцип (толкование Писания в свете других мест из Писания) очень важен по двум причинам. Во-первых, из-за нападок на Писание со стороны неверующих. Одна из основных атак против Писания со стороны неверующих - это утверждение, что Писание противоречит самому себе. Поскольку Библия была написана более 40 авторами в течение 16 веков, если бы это не была книга, созданная Богом, противоречия и несоответствия были бы весьма возможны. Толкуя Писание в свете других мест из Писания, вы можете показать, что Писание полностью согласуется с самим собой.

Во-вторых, толкование Писания в свете других мест из Писания является важным принципом из-за отношения, с которым христиане читают Писание. Христиане не читают и толкуют Библию с целью найти несоответствия в тексте (как это сделал бы не христианин). Скорее, мы ищем несоответствия в нашем толковании текста, которые могут быть обнаружены этим правилом «толкования Писания в свете Писания». Более того, мы читаем и толкуем Писание, подчиняясь авторитету, точности, целостности и целостности текста, так что если есть противоречие или несоответствие с нашим толкованием, проблема в нас, а не в тексте.

Таким образом, основной принцип здравого толкования Библии состоит в том, что для правильного понимания одного отрывка Писания вы должны ввести другие тексты, которые являются либо сравнительными, либо контрастными. Если ваше толкование изучаемого отрывка противоречит учению другогосравнительного или контрастирующего отрывка, то ваше толкование неверно. Или, если у стиха или отрывка есть несколько вариантов толкования, и тот, который вы выбрали, не согласуется с другими сравнительными или контрастными отрывками, тогда этот вариант толкования должен быть отклонен и должен быть выбран тот, который согласуется с другими отрывками.

Следование этому правилу библейского толкования помогает несколькими способами:

1) Оно расширяет возможности изучения и изложения текста, привлекая к нему “больше света” из других текстов.

2) Оно действует, как гарантия того, что вы не толкуете текст таким образом, который несовместим с другими текстами.

3) Оно гарантирует, что вы понимаете постепенное раскрытие Божьего откровения в Писании. С течением времени Бог все больше и больше открывал нам Себя, свою волю, свои цели и т. д. через Священное Писание.

4) Оно помогает вам увидеть различные основы, на которых Бог в разное время относился к людям и обращался с ними. Итак, Священное Писание - это не только прогрессивное раскрытие божественного откровения, но также и прогрессивное раскрытие отношений Бога с человечеством.

ПРАВИЛО № 3: Используйте ясные, важные и многочисленные отрывки из Священных Писаний для объяснения менее ясных, второстепенных и немногих других.

Поскольку откровение в Писании прогрессирует, понятно, что раннее откровение может быть менее ясным, чем более позднее откровение, потому что оно частичное и иногда неясное. Отрывки из Священных Писаний, которые являются частичными или второстепенными в их трактовке темы, не имеют толкования по сравнению с более полными и ясными. Ясные и первостепенные откровения проясняют те, которые могут быть менее ясными и второстепенными.

Это еще раз подчеркивает необходимость правила № 2: толковать Писание в свете других Писаний.

ПРАВИЛО № 4: Будьте осторожны, делая «логические» выводы и заключения.

Это правило тесно связано с предыдущим правилом. То, что может показаться логическим умозаключением или выводом из Священного Писания, не обязательно может быть правдой. То, что для нас логично, может быть нелогичным в Божьих путях или мыслях. Очевидно, что если явное учение противоречит вашим выводам или тому, что вы считаете неявным, то в приоритете - явное учение. Поэтому важно искать явные инструкции, подтверждающие то, что, по вашему мнению, скрыто в тексте.

Так легко принять толкования и применения Священного Писания, основанные на логических выводах или предполагаемых неявных инструкциях или выводах, которые вы извлекаете из текста, что может быть совсем не тем, что автор намеревался передать.

Хотя нам нужно быть осторожными с выводами и умозаключениями, нам нужно определить общие принципы, которые вытекают из конкретных деталей в тексте, который мы исследуем. Будьте очень осторожны, чтобы выводы, которые вы делаете из своего текста, были основополагающими, универсальными, вневременными принципами, которые раскрываются в тексте.

ПРАВИЛО № 5: Не позволяйте Священному Писанию стать необоснованным литературным стандартом

Под «необоснованным литературным стандартом» я подразумеваю стандарт, который вы не потребовали бы ни от какой другой литературы. Р. С. Спроул называет это «чтением Библии, как любой другой книги» (Knowing Scripture, 63). Один комментатор формулирует это так: «Толкуя Библию, мы не просим никаких одолжений, которые, по нашему мнению, не являются надлежащими правилами для чтения любой серьезной литературы» (Mal Couch, ed. A Biblical Theology of the Church, 15).

Конечно, Библия не похожа на любую другую книгу, потому что: 1) она - уникальна (нет другой подобной книги); 2) она - божественна (нет ни одного такого Автора, как у нее); 3) она - вдохновлена (никакого другого источника, общения, откровения или силы, подобных ей).

Но мы должны читать ее, как любую другую книгу, в том смысле, что она построена с использованием письменных слов, как любую другую книгу - слов, которые имели общепринятое значение в то время; слова, которые необходимо толковать и понимать в соответствии с общими правилами грамматики того времени, и которые предназначены для понимания на этой основе. Кроме того, мы не должны приписывать ей литературную свободу, которую мы не допустили бы для любой другой литературы.

Но обратите внимание на это предостережение: хотя мы можем правильно понимать значение слов и грамматику, это не означает, что любой, кто читает Библию, обязательно придет к правильным выводам о том, что в ней говорится, и как ее применить к нашей жизни. Для этого нам нужно озарение Святым Духом, которое является исключительной собственностью верующих. Неверующие могут понять слова на странице; они могут анализировать грамматику; они могут заниматься тем же литературным анализом, анализируя ее как и любой другой литературный материал. Но неверующие не приходят к правильным выводам по этому поводу, потому что они не имеют озарения от Святого Духа (1 Кор. 2:14; Еф. 4:18) - их способность понимать Библию ограничена уровнем литературы. только. Хотя у них может быть интеллектуальное понимание, у них нет духовного понимания. Таким образом, неверующие не подчиняются авторитету Писания; они приходят к неверным выводам об этом; они не видят духовного значения Писания; они не придают ему должного значения; они не принимают значения Писания для веры и практики; и они не согласятся применить Писание к своей жизни. Если мы хотим придать Библии надлежащую ценность, прийти к правильным выводам о том, что в ней говорится, и применить ее в своей жизни, нам нужно озарение Святым Духом.

Когда я говорю «не позволяйте Священному Писанию стать необоснованным литературным стандартом», я пытаюсь подчеркнуть, что его грамматическая конструкция (слова, фразы, предложения и т. д.), его контекст (исторический, культурный, политический и т. д.), и его литературный жанр (поэтический, повествовательный и т. д.) необходимо исследовать так же, как вы изучаете и читаете любую другую литературу, но с помощью Святого Духа. Этот объективный метод толкования Библии предотвращает субъективное, мистическое толкование, которое не имеет корней в науке, и может означать все, что читатель хочет или думает.

ПРАВИЛО № 6: Читайте и толкуйте библию с точки зрения личного применения

Не спрашивайте: «Что это значит для меня?» но «Как это применимо ко мне?» Задавая этот вопрос, мы не только раскрываем его текущее и актуальное применение, но сначала выясняем, как он был применен к людям, для которых он был первоначально написан. Видя, как автор сформулировал свой аргумент, и как он применил его к реальной жизненной ситуации своей первоначальной аудитории (то есть, почему он писал, какую проблему он решал и т. д.), Мы обнаруживаем, как это может применяться к нам в рамках ограничения его первоначально предполагаемого значения.

Обратите внимание на это ограничение: несмотря на то, что мы можем делать много применений из одной истины, эти применения все еще ограничены учением автора, его первоначальными мыслями. Вам не разрешено применять Писание так, как вы хотите, точно так же, как вы не имеете права толковать его так, как вам хочется. Как кто-то сказал: «В области применения преподается больше ереси, чем в объяснении».

Итак, нам нужно читать и толковаит Библию с точки зрения «личного применения», отождествляя себя с предполагаемым смыслом автора (и тем, как бы это поняла первоначальная аудитория); путем определения жизненной ситуации у первоначальной аудитории (и того, как то, что было написано, применимо к ним); а затем применяя его надлежащим образом к нашей собственной жизненной ситуации и культуре (то есть таким образом, который согласован и соответствует исходной ситуации).

ПРАВИЛО № 7: Определите литературные приемы и жанр и толкуйте их соответственно.

Я уже определил, что я имею в виду под буквальным толкованием, особенно когда речь идет о литературных приемах (таких как переносный смысл слов) и литературных жанрах (таких как поэзия, апокалипсис, аллегория и т. д.). Каждый литературный жанр нужно толковать соответственно. Например, поэзия на иврите должна толковаться в соответствии с ее образами и обычаями - например, паралелизма и т. д. (например, Пс. 2: 4; Прит. 1:20; Бытие 4:23; Ис. 55: 6-7). Нам нужно различать притчи и закон. Как и наши английские притчи, еврейские притчи не предназначены для того, чтобы быть универсальными трюизмами для всех людей во все времена, а являются общими принципами, которые в целом верны для тех, кто живет благочестиво.

ПРАВИЛО № 8: Тщательно изучайте грамматическое построение и значение слов

Вы не сможете точно истолковать Писание, если не уделите пристальное внимание грамматике - 1) частям речи (например, существительному, глаголу); 2) форма каждого слова (например, единственное или множественное число; настоящее или будущее время и т. д.); 3) значение и использование слов в их контексте и их отношение друг к другу (то есть синтаксис) для формирования фраз, предложений и абзацев. Не заставляйте слова означать то, что вы хотите, или то, что вы думаете, исходя из современного употребления. Вы должны понимать это слово в его первоначальном литературном, культурном и историческом контексте. Помните, что иногда слова меняют свое значение со временем.

Обратите внимание на повторяющиеся, важные и ключевые слова. Повторяющиеся слова и фразы обычно говорят вам что-то о том, что автор пытается подчеркнуть, и / или о теме текста (например, Фил. 1:27; 2: 2,3,5; 3: 15,16; 4: 2,7). Значимыми словами могут быть: 1) теологические термины (например, оправдание); или 2) основной глагол в предложении; или 3) союзы и предлоги. Слова нельзя толковать изолированно от их употребления. Поэтому обязательно определяйте значение слова, анализируя его форму и использование в контексте.

Когда у вас есть слово с несколькими возможными значениями, вам нужно посмотреть на его контекст и на различные употребления в Библии, чтобы определить его значение.

ПРАВИЛО № 9: Читайте и толкуйте библию хронологически

Под этим я подразумеваю, читайте Библию в перспективе Нового Завета. Каждое послание должно указывать на Христа или христианскую жизнь во Христе. Каждая проповедь должна руководствоваться искупительным акцентом Священного Писания (см. «Фокус на падшеe состояние» Брайана Чапелла (ФПС) в “Христоцентричной проповеди”, 1994 г.). В центре внимания не только спасение потерянных, но и рост верующих, чтобы они стали такими, какими Бог хочет их видеть. Чапелл утверждает, что «правильное понимание отрывка и фокуса проповеди требует ясного ФПС» (Брайан Чапелл, с. 42).

Теологически каждая проповедь должна иметь ту же цель, что и отрывок, который является «аспектом человеческого состояния, требующим наставлений, увещеваний и / или утешения Священных Писаний» (Чапелл, с. 43). Имея это в качестве цели, каждая проповедь будет объединена в своей цели.

ПРАВИЛО № 10: Читайте и толкуйте библию богословски.

Ищите в тексте указания на существенные истины, которые выражает автор. Спросите себя: 1) Какую доктрину (теологию) выражает первоначальный автор? 2) Какая основная истина вытекает из текста? Не навязывайте тексту свои доктринальные предубеждения. Не зачитывайте в тексте то, чего там нет. Спросите себя: 1) Что в тексте говорится о Боге? 2) Что здесь говорится об отношениях человека с Богом? 3) Что здесь говорится о том, как жить для Бога? Если вы не можете найти ответы на эти вопросы в тексте, вы, вероятно, не знаете, в чем состоит богословский смысл текста.

Сложность этого задания часто зависит от литературного жанра. Не дидактический жанр может быть сложной задачей для раскрытия истины, которой учат - например, Песня Песней или книга Ионы. Рассказывает ли книга Ионы о том, как Бог поступает со своенравным пророком? Или текст говорит о Божьей верховной власти во всех обстоятельствах, будь то стихийные бедствия (штормы, растения и черви), язычники-моряки, своенравные пророки, нечестивые язычники и т. д.?

В этом отношении вы должны очень осторожно толковать повествования, чтобы быть уверенными, что вы понимаете теологию, которую преподают. Вы должны извлечь богословскую мысль из деталей повествования.

II. Усиливая Библейское Руководство
«Служение Нашему Учителю В Мире, Ненавидящем Его: Экзегетическое Исследование Иоанна 15: 18-27»

Как христианские лидеры мы часто сталкиваемся с отвержением, как в наших церквях, так и в мире. Жить христианином сложно и часто пугающе, не так ли? Мир так враждебен к Евангелию и к Самому Христу. Иногда их враждебность заставляет нас бояться встать на защиту Христа. Но вот ободрение - Иисус сказал: «В этом мире будете иметь скорбь. Но мужайтесь; Я победил мир » (Иоанна 16:33).

Итак, что мы делаем, как лидеры народа Божьего, чтобы побудить наши общины свидетельствовать о Христе, когда окружающая культура столь враждебна? Это наша тема в этой статье: «Свидетельствовать о Христе в мире, который ненавидит Его» (Иоанна 15: 18–27). Я надеюсь, что это изучение Библии поможет вам и ободрит вас, поскольку в этом мире становится все труднее публично исповедовать Христа.

В нашем отрывке Иисус только что увещевал учеников пребывать в Нем (15: 1-11) и любить друг друга (15: 12-17). Теперь Иисус продолжает предупреждать их о ненависти этого мира к Себе и, следовательно, к ним, Его последователям (15: 18-25), и побуждать их свидетельствовать от Его имени среди такой ненависти (15: 26-27).

Из этого отрывка мы усвоили принцип: «Несмотря на противодействие со стороны мира, мы можем верно свидетельствовать о Христе». В этом тексте мы отмечаем три богословских принципа ...

I. Мир Ненавидит Последователей Христа (18-20).

Обратите внимание на то, что 1. Мир ненавидит последователей Христа, потому что сначала он ненавидел Самого Христа (15:18). «Если мир ненавидит вас, вы знаете, что он возненавидел Меня прежде, чем возненавидел вас» (15:18). Когда Иисус говорит: «Если» мир ненавидит вас, он не подразумевает, что мир может ненавидеть вас, а может и не ненавидеть. Это «если» разума, а не «если» сомнения. Нет сомнений в том, что мир ненавидит последователей Христа.

Сами ученики уже испытали это. Они знали, что случилось с слепорожденным и его родителями в гл. 9. Они знали, что родители слепого «боялись евреев, потому что евреи уже сговорились, что, если кто-нибудь признает Его Христом, того изгонят из синагоги» (9:22). Это было явное запугивание евреями этих людей, потому что они испытали исцеляющую силу Иисуса. Евреи были связаны и вынуждены прекратить свое свидетельство о том, что Иисус сделал для их сына. В грядущие дни ученики испытают еще большую ненависть со стороны этого мира. Есть врожденная ненависть, исходящая от тех, кто яростно противостоит Христу. Истина в том, что мир ненавидит христиан, потому что он ненавидел Христа. В мире полно нечестивых мужчин и женщин, чья вдохновленная сатаной ненависть ко Христу проявляется в их ненависти к последователям Христа.

Иисус утешает своих учеников, говоря: «Если мир ненавидит вас, вы знаете, что он возненавидел Меня, прежде чем возненавидел вас» (15:18)». Утешение в том, что христиане, испытывающие ненависть мира, страдают вместе со своим Спасителем. Иисус сначала пострадал от ненависти мира, а теперь христиане страдают за Христа. Апостол Павел называет это привилегией, даром: «Потому что вам дано от имени Христа не только веровать в Него, но и страдать за Него» (Фил. 1:29). Иисус не призывает нас испытать то, что Он не испытал сам. Из-за страданий и сопротивления многие ученики Иисуса перестали следовать за Ним (Иоанна 6:66). Они не могли вынести нетерпимости, отвержения, унижения и физического наказания. Это проблема, с которой сегодня сталкиваются многие христиане.

Итак, 1. мир ненавидит последователей Христа, потому что они сначала возненавидели Самого Христа; 2. Мир ненавидит последователей Христа, потому что мы были избраны Христом (15: 19-20). «Если бы вы были от мира, мир полюбил бы свое. Но поскольку вы не от мира, но Я избрал вас от мира, поэтому мир ненавидит вас (15:19). Быть «от мира» означает быть отождествленным с миром, придерживаться убеждений и морали этого мира, принимать его привычки и характер. Иисус говорит, что если бы вы это сделали, «мир полюбил бы» вас как одного из «своих». Если бы вы были мотивированы и характеризовались мировыми стандартами, мир принял бы вас как одного из своих. Но правда в том, что мир вас не принимает. На самом деле мир ненавидит вас, «потому что вы не от мира». Причина, по которой вы не от мира, состоит в том, что Иисус «избрал вас от мира».

Вы поняли это? Иисус говорит, что есть только одна причина, по которой вы не приняты миром и не подчиняетесь ему, и это потому, что «Я избрал вас от мира». В этом его суверенная милость и милосердие к своим последователям. Причина, по которой ученики были отделены от «мира», заключалась не в том, что в них было что-то хорошее или достойное перед Богом, а в том, что они были суверенно избраны Иисусом. И точно так же, как Иисус суверенно призвал их, он суверенно призывает всех верующих сегодня к Себе, чтобы они были Его последователями и Его представителями. Вот что отличает нас от мира. Мы были призваны из него Богом и отделены от него исключительно для пользы и целей Иисуса Христа.

Повторяя то, что Он уже сказал им в 13:16, Иисус говорит: «Помните слово, которое Я сказал вам:« Раб не больше господина своего »» (15: 20а). Последователи Иисуса не могут ожидать лучшего обращения, чем получал здесь Сам Иисус. Так же, как Он не был освобожден от преследований, также и мы. «Если Меня гнали, будут гнать и вас. Если Мое слово соблюдали, будут соблюдать и ваше »(15: 20б). Другими словами, как бы мир ни отвечал Иисусу, он будет также отвечать и нам, Его последователям. Если они преследовали Его, они будут преследовать и Его последователей. И наоборот, если они повиновались Его слову, они также будут повиноваться словам Его последователей. Короче говоря, мир ответит вам так же, как он ответил Иисусу.

Мир ненавидит последователей Христа - 1. потому, что он ненавидел Самого Христа; 2. потому что христиане были избраны Христом от мира, и, 3. мир ненавидит последователей Христа, потому что мир не знает Бога (15:21). «Но все это они сделают с вами ради имени Моего, потому что не знают Пославшего Меня» (15:21). Мир будет преследовать и ненавидеть тех, кто принимает имя Иисуса, «потому что они не знают Пославшего Меня». Вы можете познать Бога только через Иисуса Христа. Если вы ненавидите Иисуса, это потому, что вы не знаете Бога - «Пославшего Его». Любой, кто действительно знает Бога, знает, что Иисус - Его единственный вечный Сын, которого он послал в мир. Если бы они знали, что Иисус был посланником от Бога, они бы не отнеслись к нему так, как они это сделали. Ибо Библия говорит, что «Отец послал Сына Спасителем миру» (1 Иоанна 4:14).

Итак, первый теологический принцип в этом отрывке состоит в том, что мир ненавидит последователей Христа. Но обратите внимание на второй теологический принцип...

II. Ненависть Мира На Христа Не Имеет Извинения (15: 22-25).

1. Нет оправдания ненависти ко Христу из-за слов, которые Он сказал (15: 22-23). «Если бы я не пришел и не заговорил с ними, они не имели бы греха, но теперь у них нет оправдания своему греху» (15:22). Истина в том, что они должны были бы знать, кем был Иисус. Он пришел, чтобы показать им Бога, и сделал это словом и делом. Если бы Иисус не открыл им, кем Он был в своих учениях, тогда они не совершили бы греха, отвергнув Его как своего Мессию, потому что они были бы невежественны - «в них не было бы греха». Но поскольку Иисус действительно открыл им, кем Он был, «теперь у них нет оправдания для их греха». Отвергнуть Иисуса непростительно; они виноваты. Почему? Потому что Иисус ясно сказал им правду о том, кто Он, и кто есть Бог. Но они все равно отвергли Его. И этому нет оправдания. Ни один человек, когда-либо родившийся в этом мире, не имеет никакого оправдания, если он отверг Иисуса, когда он предстанет перед Великим Белым Престолом Божьего суда - нечего будет сказать, не будет оправдания, не будет места самооправданию. Почему? Потому что они слышали истину и отвергли ее.

«Ненавидящий Меня ненавидит и Отца Моего» (15:23). Вы не можете познать Бога, кроме как зная и веря в Иисуса Христа. Если вы ненавидите Иисуса, вы также ненавидите и Отца. Евреи во времена Иисуса утверждали, что Бог был их Отцом, но они отвергли Иисуса, Божьего Сына, Мессию. Это невозможно, потому что Иисус и Отец – одно целое. Вы можете утверждать, что знаете Бога, но если вы отвергаете Иисуса, Сына Божьего, вы также отвергаете и Бога-Отца. Таким образом, люди и религиозные группы, которые заявляют, что поклоняются Богу, но отрицают Божественность Христа, Его заместительное искупление грехов, Его воскресение из мертвых и т. д., не могут и не знают Бога.

Итак, 1. нет оправдания ненависти ко Христу из-за Его слов. И, 2. Нет оправдания ненависти ко Христу из-за его дел (15: 24-25). «Если бы Я не делал среди них дел, которых никто другой не делал, они не имели бы греха» (15: 24а). Не только слова Иисуса (15:22) неопровержимые доказательства того, кем Он является, но и дела Иисуса. Он был уникален в том, что Он говорил и что делал. Если бы не чудесные знамения, которые Он совершил, тогда, по Его словам, «они не имели бы греха». Но Иисус действительно совершал «дела, которые никто другой не делал», и за это каждый несет ответственность за свой ответ Ему. «Но теперь они увидели и возненавидели Меня и Отца Моего» (15: 24б). Люди времен Иисуса показали свой ответ, отвергнув Его при его жизни и после Его смерти. Такой отказ был непростительным, поскольку доказательства того, кем был Иисус, были неопровержимы. Отвергнув Его, они отвергли Того, кто Его послал.

Теперь это ничем не отличается от сегодня. У нас есть доказательства слов и дел Иисуса прямо перед нами в Священном Писании. Итак, каждый несет ответственность за то, как он реагирует на эти доказательства. В этом отрывке мы видим, что доказательств часто недостаточно, чтобы убедить некоторых людей в их грехе и необходимости в Спасителе. Такова жесткость человеческого сердца.

«Но да сбудется слово, написанное в их законе:« Они возненавидели Меня напрасно »» (15:25). Это трагически печальная правда - «они вознавидели Меня напрасно». У людей, которые могут нас ненавидеть, обычно есть причина. Но в случае с Иисусом они ненавидели Его без причины. Это просто показывает невероятную жестокость и порочность человеческого сердца! Иисус пришел, сделав добро людям без денег и без платы. Он делал добро людям, которые даже не знали Его, исцелял больных, кормил голодных, воскрешал некоторых из мертвых. Он пришел, говоря слова благодати и милости. Он пришел, чтобы показать нам Бога.

Беспричинно ненавидя Иисуса, противники Иисуса неосознанно совершили две вещи: а) они понесли ответственность за Его смерть; и в то же время б) они исполнили вечные цели искупления Бога. Бог использовал нечестивые поступки человека для исполнения Своей совершенной воли, чтобы люди несли ответственность за смерть Иисуса, в то же время, через Его смерть Бог предлагает человечеству вечную жизнь. Это - великолепная любовь и благодать Бога!

Что мы узнали на данный момент? Во-первых, мир ненавидит последователей Христа (15: 18-20). Во-вторых, ненависть ко Христу не имеет оправдания (15: 22-25). Итак, как же тогда нам, лидерам Христовым в Его церкви, верно служить Ему и свидетельствовать ради Него в этом наполненном злобой мире? Ну вот и ободрение..

III. Несмотря На Ненависть Мира, Мы Можем Свидетельствовать О Христе (15: 26-27).

1. Мы можем свидетельствовать о Христе благодаря силе Духа Святого (15:26). В 15: 18-25 Иисус предупредил учеников о приближающихся гонениях и объяснил причины, по которым они будут гонимы. Теперь, в 15: 26-27, Иисус увещевает и утешает учеников, рассказывая им, откуда будет наш источник силы, чтобы свидетельствовать о Нем среди противодействия и преследований. Так же, как он сказал им в начале главы 14, Иисус снова напоминает нам, что нашим утешением и силой перед лицом противодействия является Святой Дух. «Но когда придет Утешитель, которого Я пошлю к вам от Отца, Дух истины, который от отца исходит, Он будет свидетельствовать о Мне» (15:26). Иисус пообещал, что, когда Он вернется на небеса, он пошлет им «Помощника (Утешителя)… от Отца». Это, конечно, то, что произошло в день Пятидесятницы.

Природа Святого Духа - это «Дух истины» (15: 26б). Подобно тому, как слово Бога - истина, а Иисус - истина, так и Святой Дух - истина, потому что Троица едина. Итак, природа Святого Духа - это сама истина, а работа Святого Духа состоит в том, чтобы «свидетельствовать обо Мне». Это одна из главных ролей Святого Духа сегодня в мире. «Когда Он придет, - говорит Иисус в 16: 8, - Он обличит мир в грехе, праведности и суде». В этом мире Святой Дух свидетельствует о полной греховности человеческого рода, и о безмерном милосердии Бога, и о безмерном чуде искупления Христа. Святой Дух - это «Дух истины», свидетельствующий об истине Божьей.

Итак, 1. мы можем свидетельствовать о Христе благодаря наделению Святым Духом и 2. Мы можем свидетельствовать о Христе благодаря нашим отношениям с Ним (15:27). «И вы будете свидетельствовать, потому что вы были со Мною от начала» (15:27). Очень скоро ученики ощутят полное отсутствие свидетельства о Христе, когда все они оставили Его и убежали. Но с приходом Святого Духа они ободрятся и обретут силу делать это без всякого страха. Люди, которые в страхе покинули Христа, вскоре станут мужественными людьми, которые бесстрашно свидетельствовали о Христе даже до самой смерти из-за своих отношений с Ним от самого начала.

Подобно ученикам, поскольку у нас есть близкие отношения со Христом, мы наделены силой Святого Духа свидетельствовать о благодати Божьей без страха. Мы можем свидетельствовать о плачевном моральном состоянии человеческого рода. Мы можем свидетельствовать о спасающей благодати Бога во Христе. И все это в разгар мирового противостояния. Как лидерам церкви, мы сегодня обязаны подавать пример, как свидетельствовать о Христе, даже несмотря на оппозицию. Как Его последователи, мы наделены Святым Духом и помещены в этот мир, чтобы свидетельствовать о том, кто такой Иисус, почему Он пришел, что Он сделал, где Он сейчас и о Его скором возвращении. Мы свидетельствуем о Нем каждый раз, когда молимся о нашей еде. Мы свидетельствуем о Нем каждый раз, когда говорим слово о Христе другим. Мы свидетельствуем о Нем, когда выступаем против тех, кто унижает Христа. Мы свидетельствуем о Нем своим образом жизни, нашей речью, нашими поступками, нашими приоритетами, нашими ассоциациями, нашими привычками. Все, что мы говорим или делаем, должно быть сделано с целью прославить Бога через Господа нашего Иисуса Христа.

Заключительные Замечания

Из этого отрывка мы узнали следующее: 1. Мир ненавидит последователей Христа, потому что они возненавидели Самого Христа еще раньше (15: 18-20); 2. Нет оправдания ненависти к Христу из-за а) слов, которые Он сказал, и б) Его дел (15: 22-25); тем не менее, 3. Несмотря на ненависть мира, мы можем верно свидетельствовать о Христе, а) благодаря силе Святого Духа (15:26) и б) благодаря нашим отношениям с Ним (15:27). Это - наше утешение и воодушевление.

Пусть это слово сегодня станет ободрением и вызовом для всех нас, особенно для тех из нас, кто руководит и является пастором Божьего народа. Иисус предупреждал нас, что свидетельствовать о Нем будет нелегко. И Он вдохновил и подготовил нас к этому, даже несмотря на ненависть всего мира. Давайте твердо стоять за Него в мире, который Его ненавидит.

III. План Проповеди

Название: Письма К Семи Церквям: Сардис - Номинальное Христианство (Откр. 3: 1-6)

Тема: Церковь может сохранять «фасад» христианства даже тогда, когда умирает.

Пункт I: Существует разница между репутацией и реальностью: «Я знаю твои дела, ты носишь имя, будто жив, но ты мертв» (3: 1)

1. По репутации («имени») эта церковь была «живая».

2. Но на самом деле она была «мертва».

Пункт II: существует связь между бодрствованием и делами (3: 2)

1. Этой церкви нужно было «проснуться» - «бодрствовать».

2. Этой церкви нужно было «делать дела» - «укреплять то, что осталось».

Пункт III: Необходимо помнить и каяться (3: 3-6)

1. Необходимо помнить прошлое - «Итак вспомни, что ты принял и слышал» (3: 3а)

2. Необходимо признать настоящее - «храни и покайся» (3: 3б).

3. Необходимо переориентировать внимание на будущее.

а) Многие спящие будут удивлены приговором Христа: «Если не будешь бодрствовать, Я найду на тебя, как тать, и ты не узнаешь, в какой час найду на тебя» (3c)

б) Некоторые святые будут удовлетворены одобрением Христа: «Впрочем у вас в Сардисе есть несколько человек, которые не осквернили одежд своих» (3: 4а).

Этим верным, но немногочисленным святым Христос обещает…

- «Они будут ходить со Мною в белых одеждах, ибо они достойны. Побеждающий будет облачен в белые одежды ». (3: 4б-5а)

- «Я ни в коем случае не вычеркну их имена из Книги Жизни» (3: 5б-в).

Заключение: «Имеющий ухо да слышит, что Дух говорит церквам» (3: 6).

Related Topics: Pastors

Jacob: When God Turns Darkness into Dawn (Expository Sermons On O.T. Characters)

This series of sermons will cover some of the main O.T. characters, beginning in Genesis with Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph. These sermons will not cover every account or incident in the lives of each person, but are selected (1) to give an overview of how God worked in their lives to accomplish his purposes; and (2) to learn important lessons about character and conduct as it relates to the people of God.

Amongst many other lessons in this series, one thing becomes abundantly clear, that the human heart does not change: it remains deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). Nonetheless, God in his grace continues to reveal himself, often in remarkable ways, to finite, frail, and failing human beings whom he uses to represent him, to communicate his instructions and plans, to provide leadership to others, and, generally, to carry out his purposes as the drama of redemption unfolds through the progress of salvation history.

We will study characters like Joseph, who was ridiculed, sold as a slave, falsely accused and imprisoned, yet, ultimately, he was vindicated and exalted. We admire him and aspire to emulate his faith, patience, and steadfast endurance despite the circumstances, and, more importantly, we grow in our understanding of God and his ways with us. Conversely, we will study characters whose behavior and responses may surprise us, but in whom God still displays his grace and through whom God still sovereignly acts.

I hope that this series will bless you as much as it has me. It was a pleasure to preach these sermons and it is now a pleasure to share them with you in written form. May the Lord use them to encourage and inspire you as you serve him and faithfully “preach the word.”

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

1. When the Sun Sets: Jacob Meets God (Gen. 27:41-28:22)

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Introduction

Mother Teresa is quoted as saying that, “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer. It’s the feeling of being uncared for, unwanted, of being deserted and alone.” (Leadership Magazine, vol. 1, no. 4). A 1990 U.S. census reported that 23 million American adults lived alone and that since 1970 this figure had increased by 91% for women and 156% for men.

At some time in your life you’ve probably felt lonely, forsaken, deserted, abandoned, let down, betrayed. I remember when, as a university student, I went to Germany to work for the summer, and how homesick I felt during that time.

Perhaps your experience has been more than homesickness or loneliness. Perhaps you have experienced alienation from family members, fellow students, work colleagues, or perhaps even the church. Perhaps you’ve known the pain of an unfaithful spouse. Perhaps you’ve suffered parental rejection by rebellious teenagers. Or, perhaps you’ve been deeply hurt when you’ve been let go from a company that you served faithfully for many years. Undoubtedly, many of you know the pain that loneliness, isolation, and rejection can inflict.

It’s one thing to be lonely (that’s bad enough) but it’s another thing to be rejected. Jacob experienced rejection during a dark period in his life. What we are going to see here is that when we come to a dark, forsaken place in our lives, that’s where God draws near and the dark, forsaken place becomes the house of God. Sometimes…

1. When We Are Forsaken, We Flee Into The Darkness Of Rejection (Gen. 27:41-28:9).

Rejection may all start with something as common as a family problem (27:41-28:5). Jacob faced severe dysfunctional family problems. It all started with favoritism – Isaac loved Esau but Rebekah loved Jacob (25:28). And from there, things went steadily down hill in the family relationships. First, Jacob faces his brother’s savagery (27:41). Esau hated Jacob for defrauding him of his father’s blessing. His plot to kill Jacob is a crime similar to Cain’s, except that Cain’s crime was born of uncontrollable passion and rage whereas Esau’s was premeditated revenge.

In addition to his brother’s anger, Jacob is manipulated by his mother’s scheming (27:42-46). Rebekah always seems to find out what’s going on. She found out about her husband’s intention to bless Esau (27:1-5). Now she finds out about Esau’s intention to kill Jacob (27:41). Jacob’s mother is a master-schemer. First, she devised a scheme for Jacob to get Isaac’s blessing instead of Esau. Now, she devises a scheme to protect Jacob from Esau’s wrath - she will send Jacob to her brother Laban’s house in Padan-Aram for a while, too far away for Esau to hunt Jacob down.

She assures Jacob that his brother’s fury will subside in “a while” (27:44). “He’ll soon forget what you have done to him. Just give him time to cool off, for his temper to subside. It should only be a few days. Then, when it’s all clear, I’ll send for you and bring you back again.” In fact, “a little while” turned into 20 long years and she never did send for Jacob to come back. As with most schemers, Rebekah rationalizes her action: “Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?” (27:45b). “If you stick around, Jacob, you’ll be killed. Then Esau will be executed for murdering you. You wouldn’t want your dear old mom to suffer the loss of both her sons in one day, would you?”

Then, Rebekah convinces her husband of her scheme. First, she took advantage of Isaac’s poor eyesight (27:1f.) Now she takes advantage of his disapproval of Esau’s wives - “the Hittite women” (27:46; cf. 26:34). She says to her husband: “I am weary of living, Isaac, now that I have two Hittite daughters-in-law married to Esau. And if Jacob marries one as well, then what would I do. Poor me, my life wouldn’t be worth living.”

Jacob’s problems started with his brother’s anger, then his mother’s scheming, and finally Jacob is failed by his father’s subservience (28:1-5). Isaac is completely dominated by Rebekah’s manipulative arguments and he fails miserably in his responsibility as the leader in his home. With no mention of God or prayer (a) Isaac forbids Jacob to marry a Canaanite (28:1); (b) he orders Jacob to go to Padan-Aram to find a wife among his cousins, Uncle Laban’s daughters (28:2) – it was common then to marry a cousin – (c) Isaac blesses Jacob with the same blessing Abraham received from God (28:3-4); and finally (d) he sends Jacob away (28:5). We never hear that Jacob ever sees or speaks to his mother again.

Rejection may all start with something as common as a family problem, and rejection may all end up with something as unusual as a forsaken place (28:10-11). This is where the text of our story begins. 10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep” (28:10-11). It’s bad enough to be rejected by your family but it’s worse when you have nowhere to go but a forsaken place. Years ago, one of our daughter’s school friends was put out from her family due to some disagreement. We took her in and she lived with us until things got straightened around. Jacob has no one to take him in and, to add to his rejection and desertion, he doesn’t appear to have any true relationship with God either.

Jacob is about 40 years old now. He was born and raised in a religious family. He knows about God but there’s no evidence that he knows God personally. He had head knowledge about the God of his grandfather and father but little or no personal relationship. There is no record of any encounter with God yet in his life - no revelation from God, no word from him - and spiritual issues and disciplines weren’t evident in his life. In fact, there’s no mention of any relationship with God at all.

But all that is about to change, not because Jacob is seeking God but because God is seeking Jacob. Before Jacob finds a wife God finds him. Jacob’s purpose in this trip gives way to a higher purpose - the establishment of a relationship with God based on faith. What is of most importance is not whom he will meet at Haran but whom he will meet on the way to Haran. He certainly didn’t expect to meet God on the highway to Haran anymore than Saul expected to meet God on the highway to Damascus. Jacob wasn’t thinking about calling on the Lord, he was thinking about calling it a day because “the sun had set” (28:11). It had set in more ways than one, both literally and metaphorically, for Jacob is about to enter the nighttime of his life.

So, he comes to “a certain place” (28:11). It’s a “certain” place because it was a place prepared by God, a forsaken, deserted, dark, remote place where he would meet no one but God. There are no motels here, no restaurants, no comforts of home – just the stars above and the ground beneath. This wasn’t a town, it was just a place, obscure, desolate; a place that is unnamed and unknown to men but special to God. That’s where Jacob lay down for the night with a stone for a pillow. If ever Jacob felt alone, deserted, miserable, rejected, and forsaken it must have been now. The stone pillow must have made him long for the comforts of home; maybe he even felt a tinge of homesickness. But this is where he would have the greatest experience of his life; this is where he would encounter God.

Sometimes, when we are forsaken, we flee into the darkness of rejection. But often…

2. In The Darkness Of Rejection, We See The Light Of God’s Revelation (28:12-15).

The whole tone of the story changes here. What had formerly been narrated in the past tense (28:10-11) now shifts to the present (28:12-13), and what the narrator has seen Jacob doing (28:10-11) now suddenly shifts to what Jacob himself saw.

In the darkness of our lives God often reveals to us his presence (28:12). No sooner did Jacob fall asleep than he dreamed “…and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it” (28:12). During my teenage years I lived in the City of Bath in England. Every day that I went to school I had to climb up “Jacob’s Ladder,” steps up the side of a steep hill that led to my school. If you have ever been to Bath you will probably have seen Bath Abbey. Carved into the stone on the front of Bath Abbey is a depiction of Jacob’s Ladder with angels ascending and descending.

Jacob’s dream isn’t about steps up the side of a hill or a staircase carved into the stone of a church. It’s about a ladder that joins heaven and earth. Its bottom rests on earth (where Jacob was) and its top reaches to heaven (where God was). The Tower of Babel also extended to the heavens (Gen. 11:4). It was the product of human invention, of delusions of grandeur, of human ambition and pride, the attempt by man to reach up to God. Jacob’s ladder also extends to the heavens, but it was made by God (not men) and angels were climbing it (not men). It is God’s means of reaching down to men (not men’s attempt to reach up to God). This is a ladder that makes God’s presence known. The inhabitants of heaven who dwell in God’s presence are going up and down it; heaven itself is accessible and open.

Have you ever experienced anything like this? Have you been so drawn into the presence of God that you have felt as though heaven has opened up to you? Do you know that God is accessible, that he wants to make himself known to you, to communicate a message to you?

In the darkness of our lives, God often reveals to us his presence. And in the darkness of our lives God often reveals to us his person (28:13a). God initiates contact with Jacob so that he might know him. “And behold, the Lord stood above it (the ladder) and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac’” (28:13a). He is the God of the first and second generations of Jacob’s family. The question that is inferred is: “Will he be the God of the third (Jacob’s) generation as well?” He is the “God of Isaac,” Jacob’s father, the one Jacob deceived and took advantage of. The question that is inferred is: “Will Jacob try to deceive and take advantage of God as well?”

Perhaps you’re the third generation in your family. Your grandparents were Christians and so were your parents. The question is: “Is the God of your grandparents and parents your God too?” Are the spiritual values of your parents and grandparents your values too? Are you walking in their footsteps of faith? So often, the second and third generations throw spiritual things on the scrap heap of life as outdated, worthless traditions of the past, irrelevant. That’s how spiritual darkness creeps into families and churches and societies. Perhaps you need to examine your own life to see whether you are following in the footsteps of faith, those who have gone before, or whether you have lost your zeal for God.

In the darkness of our lives, God often reveals to us his presence and his person. And, in the darkness of our lives God often reveals to us his promise (28:13b-14). The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (28:13b-14).

God faithfully repeats his threefold promise, the same promise he gave to Abraham (Gen 12:1-3). First, the promise concerning the land (13b) - the inheritance that God had promised to Abraham is still secure. Second, the promise concerning the nation (14a) - the descendants God promised to Abraham will still be numerous. Third, the promise concerning all mankind (14b) - the influence God had promised Abraham will still prevail and spread to all the families of the earth through Jacob and his descendants.

Despite his bad behavior, notice that Jacob is included in the chain of blessing. This is the fifth reference to a patriarch as the source of worldwide blessing (Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4). Previously Jacob had been occupied with obtaining the blessing for himself, but here he is the source and means of blessing to be bestowed on others. When Abraham received the promise of this blessing he was married but childless. Here, Jacob is both unmarried and childless!

Often in the dark times of our lives we think that God has abandoned us; we think God’s promises have failed; we think God’s word is unreliable. But that’s just the lie of Satan, who wants to disrupt our relationship with God and our trust in him. The truth is that when we encounter God in those dark and lonely times of life, we find that his word never fails and that he never changes. His promises and plans may not occur when we expect or how we expect but they are still the same. Our lives may take twists and turns that we find dark and depressing at times but he remains faithful - He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

In the darkness of our lives, God often reveals to us his presence, his person, his promise, and God often reveals to us his provision (28:15). Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” God will unilaterally and unconditionally provide for Jacob. God will provide for Jacob’s need for companionship: “I am with you” - even though your family isn’t. God will provide for Jacob’s need for protection: “I will keep you wherever you go” - even though no on else cares about you. God will provide for Jacob’s guidance: “I will bring you back to this land” - even though you’ve just been sent away from it. God will provide for Jacob’s comfort: “I will not leave you - even though your family has let you down - until I have done what I promised you.”

In Jacob’s darkness these were sweet words. Though he felt totally abandoned and alone, God brought him comfort. Though his mother and father were not with him, God was with him. Nothing can happen to Jacob until God has fulfilled his promise through his divine provision.

When we are forsaken, we often flee into the darkness of rejection. In the darkness of rejection, we see the light of God’s revelation. And…

3. The Light Of God’s Revelation Brings Us To The Ultimate Realization (28:16-22).

“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it” (28:16). First, we realize we are in the presence of God. This was a great discovery: God was present here! He wasn’t just present in the dream but he was present in “this place.” Jacob had just met God! He thought he was alone in a forsaken, deserted, desolate place but he was wrong. He discovered that God was here. He is shocked to discover God’s presence when he thought he was alone, just as Isaac was shocked to discover Jacob’s presence when he thought he was alone with Esau (27:33).

We often discover God in the places we least expect. It has been my experience that we learn more about God in those unexpected circumstances, those forsaken places, than anywhere else because those are the times when we must “be still and know that (he) is God” (Ps. 46:10). What Jacob had not known before is now a reality. He seems ashamed that he wasn’t aware of God’s presence before: “I did not know it.” He says to himself, “How could I have missed it. How could I have been so dumb. The God of my grandfather and father is real, alive, near, in this very place.”

This is a personal encounter with God. It’s one thing to dream, but it’s another to know the reality. It’s one thing to envision God, but it’s quite another to hear God speak and to know his presence. This isn’t a nightmare that makes Jacob’s heart pound, but which has no lasting significance. No! God has met him and God has spoken. God has revealed to him his eternal plan! His plan to bless all the nations of the earth. His plan of redemption for the human race!

No wonder Jacob is filled with fear! And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’”(28:17). That’s what happens when you encounter God face to face. God’s presence instils fear into the human heart - fear of his awe-inspiring presence, fear of his perfect holiness and our sinfulness, fear of failing him and being disobedient to him. That’s why Peter feared the Lord, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk. 5:8). Job feared the Lord: “Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). Isaiah feared the Lord: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”(Isa. 6:5).

If you haven’t trusted Christ for salvation, you too should be filled with fear - a fear that drives you to repentance, to confession of sin, to God for forgiveness through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. This wasn’t just an “awesome place” it was “none other than the house of God.” This wasn’t just a lodging place for Jacob for the night. This was God’s house and God’s house must surely mean that this is the gate of heaven,” the place where God dwells!

In the light of God’s revelation, we realize that we are in the presence of God, and we realize we need to worship God. “So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it” (28:18). Jacob builds a monument. A stone becomes a statue. A pillow becomes a pillar for God. Faith is always expressed in action. This monument would be a permanent reminder of this discovery both for him and for all those who came behind him.

“He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first” (28:19) – Bethel (the house of God), the very same place where Abraham had stopped years before when he himself was on a journey from Ur to Canaan, where he had called on the name of the Lord (Gen. 12:8b). This isn’t a forsaken, desert place of darkness anymore. This isn’t a place where Jacob stopped because “the sun had set” (28:11). This isn’t a foreign place anymore where he had lodged while fleeing from a family problem. This is now “the house of God!” His whole perception of the place has changed since he met God. What was formerly known as Luz (a place of refuge) becomes for Jacob a place of spiritual refuge – Bethel, the house of God. That’s how it is when we encounter the living God. Our whole perspective on life and circumstances changes. When we enter into a faith relationship with God and grasp the reality of God’s presence, person, promises, and provision in our lives everything changes.

In the light of God’s revelation, we realize that we are in the presence of God, that we need to worship God, and we realize we need to dedicate our lives to God. Jacob sealed his devotion with a vow of dedication. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you’” (28:20-22).

This is not a conditional commitment: “if God… then I.” No! This is not an “if” of doubt but an “if” of reason. Jacob is making a vow of dedication in which he repeats what God has just said. He is saying: “I cannot do this alone. God must help me. And if the Lord God is with me and keeps me in this way in which I am going and gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear so that I return in peace to the house of my father and the Lord becomes my God, then by God’s grace the stone which I set up as a pillar will be the house of God and out of gratitude for all that God gives me I will give him back one-tenth.”

This vow includes two expressions of his newfound faith. First, worship - he would always worship God at Bethel. He will never fail to remember what happened there and to worship God wherever he is. Second, service - before it ever became the Law, he commits to serve God by giving to God some of God’s rich provision for him. Here Jacob dedicates his life to God. He recognizes that he is totally dependent on God. The one who had used his own resources to the full to manipulate his father and his brother now is completely out of resources and at God’s mercy. Just as Esau was once dependent on Jacob in his desperate hunger, now Jacob is utterly dependent on God. That’s why he repeats God’s promise (cf. v. 15). If God will accompany me (and he has promised that he will); if God will protect me (and he has promised that he will); if God will sustain me (and he has promised that he will); if God will guide me (and he has promised that he will); if the Lord will be my God (and he has promised that he will); then, since all of that is true, “of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.” This is Jacob’s vow of dedication.

Final Remarks

What a marvellous thing to discover who God is, even when that happens in the dark experiences of our lives. Many of you have probably had that experience. Perhaps you are going through it right now and you’re finding that it isn’t pleasant. But it’s necessary as it stretches you and makes you dependent and challenges the reality of your faith and relationship with God.

For 18 years I suffered from undiagnosed Lyme disease, whose lingering effects continue to this day. It was so bad sometimes that I could barely lift my arm off the arm of my chair. Eventually I had to quit my work. That was a particularly dark period in my life. But it was in that dark place that I learned more about God than I had ever learned in the light.

We discover God in Bethel experiences. We discover God when we’re completely alone, totally beyond ourselves, with no one and nothing to count on but God. Remember our thesis for this sermon: When we come to a dark, forsaken place in our lives, that’s where God draws near and the dark, forsaken place becomes the house of God.

We all need a Bethel experience where God reveals himself to us in powerful ways, when we realize that God is a holy, awesome God, when his presence and person fill us with holy “fear”, when we realize our insignificance and his greatness.

Bethel experiences are not comfortable. It’s not just a matter of making a decision or walking to the front or raising a hand, but it’s a matter of knowing God in the remoteness of our experience, when the sun has set on our lives and darkness envelopes us. It’s a matter of knowing his presence, his person, his promises, his provision in a powerful and life-changing way.

If you’re not a Christian, you need to meet God personally. Salvation is personal - no one else can do it for you. You need to personally experience God’s saving grace expressed most fully through Christ on the cross in order to enter “the gate of heaven.” God’s grace through Christ is available to all (2 Pet. 3:9) but it is only effective in those who believe (Jn. 1:11-12).

If you’re a Christian, how well do you know God? You met God when you got saved, but what about since then? Have you learned about the ways and character of God in the dark experiences of your Christian life? Have you grown in your faith during those times? Has God become particularly precious to you through your heartaches and trials?

A Bethel experience changes your life forever because that’s when you respond to God’s revelation. That’s when you experience God intimately. That’s when you enter the “house of God.” That’s when you express your devotion to God, make a lifelong commitment to God. That’s when you worship the Lord. And it manifests itself in a practical expression of thanks for God’s grace and the dedication of our lives to God.

Have you been radically changed by a Bethel event so that your life is devoted to following Christ, so that you follow him in practical ways by using your gifts for him, by being baptized, by worshipping God from your heart, by standing in awe of his holiness, by giving your time, talent, and treasure to God out of the abundance he has given you and out of thanksgiving for his free gift of salvation?

May this be true of each of us today! May each one of us be able to say of our dark experiences of life: “How awesome is this place. This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

2. Leah: The Woman No Man Loved But Every Woman Envied (Gen. 29:15-35)

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Introduction

When has your boss ever said to you: “Name your salary”? This only seems to happen in Hollywood or in sports. But, that’s what Laban said to Jacob. Laban didn’t have to pay Jacob for his work because Jacob was a houseguest (and houseguests usually worked for their keep), but he offers to do so. Laban appears forthright and generous but he has ulterior motives: (1) to make money through Jacob’s entrepreneurial talents; and (2) to change the uncle-nephew relationship to master-servant in order to control Jacob. So he says to Jacob: “Name your wages.”

Little did Laban know what Jacob’s answer would be. Nor did he dream of the impact it would have on his daughters, particularly Leah. In this story of “Leah: The Woman No Man Loved But Every Woman Envied,” the subject is about depending on God when you are rejected. The overall teaching for us in this story is that: “When you turn your focus from yourself to God, God pours out his blessing upon you.”

As we study this story, please notice some of the literary devices and structure that the story-teller uses, such as the intrigue and irony, and the parallelism between (1) Esau (Jacob’s older brother) and Leah (Rachel’s older sister); (2) between Jacob (the trickster) and Laban (the master trickster); and (3) between Jacob’s birth family and his own marital family.

The first picture in this story is of …

1. Leah: The Woman No Man Loved (29:16-30).

Leah is unwanted by three people. First, Leah is “disregarded” by her cousin, Jacob (29:16-20). Jacob already knows what he wants Laban to pay him. He doesn’t want Laban’s money; he wants his daughter - not Leah the older daughter but Rachel the younger. Jacob, the younger brother, is in love with Rachel, the younger sister. Just as Esau, the older brother, stood between Jacob and the blessing, so here Leah, the older sister, stands between Jacob and his bride.

Jacob probably knew the problem he was up against - that it was customary for a father to give his older daughter in marriage before the younger. But before he ever laid eyes on Leah he had fallen in love with Rachel. It was love at first sight (29:11). It wasn’t as though he looked at both daughters and said: “Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all?” Jacob was smitten by Rachel from the first time he saw her. Comparing her to her older sister only confirmed his decision – there’s no contest. When Leah shows up, he isn’t attracted to her at all – 17 Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. 18 Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, ’I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.’” (29:17-18). Whatever “weak” means I’m not sure, but the context is clear. Leah was physically unattractive (at least in Jacob’s eyes), whereas Rachel was beautiful. He completely disregards Leah, but that poses a dilemma for Jacob: “How can I get Rachel when she is the younger daughter?” This is a love story with this distinct and complicated twist.

True to his character and upbringing, Jacob devised a plan. It was a very shrewd plan - one that would appeal to Laban’s economic interests and one that is so attractive that perhaps Laban would set aside the custom of giving the oldest daughter in marriage first. He says to Laban: “I’ve got a proposal for you” (Aside: “This is a deal you can’t refuse”). “I will serve you for seven years for your younger daughter Rachel” (29:18).

If Jacob is shrewd, Laban is even more shrewd. Laban agrees to Jacob’s proposal without hesitation. That’s the first sign that the deal perhaps wasn’t as good as Jacob thought. Seven years’ labour was a large amount of money. And as to the problem of giving his younger daughter first, Laban could deal with that when the time came - he could figure out a way around that if he had to. Besides, this may give him an opportunity to solve one of his big problems – how to marry off his unwanted daughter, Leah. Perhaps he could kill two birds with one proverbial stone – get rich and get rid of Leah all at the same time.

So he leaves himself some wiggle room in the deal. Thus, his answer is ambiguous and vague: “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me” (29:19). Notice, Laban does not say: “It’s a deal” to Jacob’s proposal. Nor does he refer to Rachel by name (only “her,” which could refer to either Leah or Rachel). Jacob has every reason to presume that Laban is in full agreement, but such is not the case.

So Jacob serves the seven years. Such is his love for Rachel that “they seemed to him but a few days” (29:20). Nothing was too much for him to have her as his wife - he was so in love that he didn’t even notice the time. When the seven years are up he called for his “wages.” He had fulfilled his obligation to the letter and his love for Rachel had not diminished one iota.

Leah (the woman nobody wants) is “disregarded” by her cousin, Jacob. And second, Leah is “discarded” by her father, Laban (29:21-27). Her father doesn’t want her either. So, he puts on a wedding feast (29:22), making it look as though he is fulfilling his end of the bargain. But all of this is just part of his “seven year” plan.

Leah now becomes the tool of Laban’s trickery. …in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her” (29:23). How did Laban pull this off? Probably because of two factors. First, the wedding chamber was probably dark at night; and second, Jacob was probably suffering from the inebriating effects of the wedding feast. With these as his cover, Laban substitutes Leah for Rachel, just as Rebekah had earlier substituted Jacob for Esau. How ironic is this? Anyway, Jacob culminates the marriage without knowing that it was Leah, not Rachel.

In the morning light, Jacob discovers the shocking truth, “Behold, it was Leah!” (29:25a). Jacob is now the victim of his own deceptive methods. As they say, “What goes around comes around.” Jacob had pretended to be Esau in front of his father; now Leah pretends to be Rachel next to Jacob. Jacob had pretended to be his older brother; now Leah pretends to be her younger sister. Not only was Jacob tricked, but Leah and Rachel were tricked as well and that by their father! The dysfunctionality of this family continues.

Leah must have been totally embarrassed and Rachel must have been totally incensed – after all, she had waited for Jacob for 7 years! Helpless to do anything Jacob accosts Laban: “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” (29:25b). Now he understands what Esau must have felt like when he had swindled him out of his birthright. If Jacob was a swindler, Laban was a master swindler. Laban certainly “knew when to hold them and when to fold them” as they say.

Now, he reveals the trick that he had had 7 years to devise. “It is not so done in our country (29:26), he says to Jacob. “Perhaps back in Canaan you can usurp your older brother (wink, wink), but here in our country, we don’t give a younger sister before the firstborn sister. Our customs have been followed for hundreds of years. Who do you think I am? I’m a prominent man in the community you know. What would people think if I didn’t treat my oldest daughter right?”

God works mysteriously in his redemptive ways. Laban is a cruel father and a deceptive master but God used Laban’s cruelty and trickery to bring about Jacob’s ultimate good – namely, his humility and dependence upon God.

Perhaps there’s a Laban in your life right now and you’ve asked the Lord to remove it or him. Remember, God uses Labans to conform us to the image of his Son and for our eternal good. Just when Jacob thought he had it made, just when he had achieved his ultimate goal, just when life was turning from sour to sweet, “Behold, it was Leah.” What total disillusionment that must have been.

What you set your hopes on in this world invariably disappoints. It always fails to keep its promises, it can’t satisfy your deepest longings whether that is marriage, riches, education, or achievements. “Rachel” always turns out to be “Leah” if God isn’t in it. What we grasp for in the world retreats from us and fades. Like the wind, it slips through our fingers. Your spouse may be good, your education may be superior, your achievements may be sterling, but if your focus is on yourself in the morning it will always turn out to be Leah – not what you expected, merely a substitute.

This often sets up a cycle. Either, you start a cycle of grasping for more, blaming someone else, and becoming cynical, saying: “If there’s nothing in this world that ever satisfies me, what’s the use?” Or, you turn to God who alone can satisfy your deepest longings. To trust in relationships, achievements, or possessions is idolatry – the worship of something other than God. To look for lasting joy, satisfaction, and meaning in this world is foolishness. Jacob thought a beautiful wife was the answer: “She will give me what I never had at home. She will give me back a sense of self-worth, achievement, honour.” But “behold, it was Leah!”

And if Jacob is disillusioned, how do you think Leah felt about all of this? - that the only way her father could get rid of her was by way of a dirty, cheap trick; that her father wanted to get her married off at any cost; that because of her appearance, the only way her father could find a husband for her was by an act of total deception in the dark of night; that no man wanted to voluntarily marry her - nobody truly loved her. And what do you think Rachel’s reaction to all of this was? All these years she thought she was going to marry the man of her dreams, only to have her hopes dashed on the wedding night. How had her older, unattractive sister upstaged her? When did she find out? It must have been on the wedding night or else the secret would have been out. What would happen now? Would Jacob accept Laban’s counter-proposal or would Jacob head back to Canaan with Leah and leave her high and dry? And, if Jacob did accept Laban’s offer, could she accept sharing her husband with her sister?

It’s bad enough for Leah (the woman nobody wants) to be “disregarded” by her cousin, Jacob, “discarded” by her father, Laban, but now, thirdly, Leah is “displaced” by her sister, Rachel (29:28-30). Now Laban says to Jacob: “Listen, Jacob, have I got a deal for you! This will blow you away - I’ll give you Rachel as well as Leah. How do you like that! I’m a man of my word you know. I wouldn’t think of deceiving you and not keeping my part of the bargain. All you have to do is two simple things. First, spend the first week with Leah (the bridal week), and then, second, agree to serve me for another 7 years. That’s all. And just to show you goodwill, I won’t make you wait 7 more years for Rachel. After all, we agreed that you could have Rachel at the end of 7 years and you’ve already served that many. I’ll trust you, Jacob. I’ll give you Rachel at the end of this week, even before you serve the extra 7 years for her” (29:27).

Jacob, of course, agrees to the new deal. His love for Rachel was genuine and deep. So, he fulfills his obligation to Leah for the week and then marries Rachel as his second wife in return for agreeing to serve Laban for another seven years (29:28). But Jacob’s problems had only just begun. He was married to one woman he didn’t love but who wanted his love at any cost and who would be a lifelong reminder of Laban’s trick. He was married to another woman whom he loved dearly but who was barren. In addition, he was obligated to work for another seven years to fulfill his obligations to a man who had defrauded him.

Meanwhile, Leah’s darkness just gets progressively darker. Because of these two schemers, her life becomes a soap opera of favoritism, jealousy, competition, and distrust, which led to unhappiness, tension, stress, anxiety, and anger. This was the beginning of a rotten marriage because it began under false pretences and because her husband loved someone else - “Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah” (29:30). It’s a bit like the Prince Charles and Princess Diana story.

Do you see how the parental favoritism showed by Jacob’s parents to their children now becomes marital favoritism shown by their son? What had produced friction in Jacob’s parents’ family now causes friction in his own family. And Leah’s darkness reaches pitch black. She isn’t wanted by her husband – he disregards her. She isn’t wanted by her father – he discards her. And she isn’t wanted by her sister – she displaces her. Leah is truly “the woman that nobody wants.”

Perhaps you can identify with her. Perhaps someone in your workplace got a promotion ahead of you and you were disregarded. Perhaps your husband doesn’t appreciate you for who you are or he found someone else more interesting and you’ve been pushed aside and you feel displaced and discarded. Perhaps your children don’t show respect for you and are disobedient to you and you feel demeaned and used by them. Perhaps the church hasn’t given you the opportunity to use your gifts as you would like to, or people haven’t been as friendly to you as you think they should and you feel distanced and alone. That’s how Leah felt and that’s how Jesus felt. He was disregarded – He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (Jn. 1:11). He was discarded – they cast him out, saying, We do not want this man to reign over us” (Lk. 19:14). He was displaced – they chose Barabbas, a robber, rather than him (Matt. 27:21). “He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3). So, he knows all about you. He knows the deepest feelings of your heart. He knows the rejection, the rudeness, the insults, perhaps even the persecution you have suffered. And be sure of this, he cares more about you than anyone else in the world ever can or will. That was true in the life of Leah. You see, when the Lord steps into the picture, Leah “the woman nobody wants” becomes…

2. Leah: The Woman Every Woman Envied (29:31-35)

How can things change so radically? How such a turnaround? Because God turns darkness into dawn. First, we see that the Lord’s eye of compassion sees her (29:31) – When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb” (29:31a). Though Leah was not loved by Jacob, she was loved by God. As God had sovereignly chosen Jacob (the second born) over Esau (the first born), so now he chooses Leah (the unloved) over Rachel (the loved).

First, the Lord’s eye of compassion sees her, and second, the Lord’s hand of mercy blesses her (29:31b-35). God’s love for her is evidenced by his action on her behalf. During the second 7 years that Jacob worked for Laban, Leah produced 7 children. In fact, she has four sons in a row (having sons was the ultimate blessing in child birth), while Rachel remains childless. Notice that Jacob isn’t mentioned either in any of the acts of conception or in the naming of the children. “God opened her womb (29:31b). He is the source and means of her fruitfulness and blessing. Leah may not have had Rachel’s beautiful looks but Rachel does not have Leah’s fruitful womb. Leah doesn’t covet Rachel’s looks but Rachel covets Leah’s fertility (30:1).

Look at Leah’s first four sons and what it tells us about Leah and about the deep longing of so many wives for a healthy marital relationship. Her first son she calls Reuben, for she said, ‘Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; therefore now my husband will love me’”(29:32). Leah wanted recognition from her husband. She wanted to be seen by him but he doesn’t see her. But God sees the underdog, the despised, the outcast, the vulnerable (just as he did Hagar) and when he sees he acts. God looked upon Leah and she desperately hoped her husband would too.

Her second son she calls Simeon - “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.’ And she called his name Simeon” (29:33). Simeon means “heard.” Leah wanted communication with her husband. She wanted to be heard by him but he doesn’t hear her. She is still unloved; nothing has changed try as she might to please him. She couldn’t share her pain with Jacob but she did with God. He heard her cry. He was her source of strength. He knew all about her and he had blessed her with this son.

Her third son she calls Levi – Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, ‘Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.’ Therefore his name was called Levi” (29:34). Levi means “attached.” Leah desperately wants affection from her husband. She hadn’t been loved by her father or any other man, so surely Jacob would at least become “attached” to her now that she had given him three sons. She was still living in hope that though she could not attract Jacob with her beauty, she could attract him through her fertility. The truth is, she gives Jacob sons but he doesn’t give her love.

But on what basis did she think she could procure her husband’s love? Did she really think that by producing sons she would earn Jacob’s respect and love? No! Despite all her hopes and desperate attempts to gain her husband’s attention and affection Jacob continued to love Rachel and reject Leah. He was sexually intimate with Leah but emotionally and spiritually detached. She desperately searches for the keys to a healthy relationship - recognition (Reuben), communication (Simeon), and affection (Levi), but she doesn’t find them in Jacob.

Her fourth son she calls Judah, which means “praise.” Leah realizes she’s not going to win Jacob’s love through her own efforts so, when all else fails, she turns to God! Instead of focusing on herself and this overriding compulsion, she now focuses on God. He is the only one she can rely on, the only one who loves her unconditionally, the only one who can make her fruitful. Now she no longer laments her condition. Instead she says, “This time I will praise the Lord” (29:35b). “This time I’m not going to focus on myself but on God.” And, as we noted at the beginning, “when you turn your focus from yourself to God, God pours out his blessing upon you” because God turns the darkness of our lives into the dawn of his blessing.

God’s blessing is beyond anything Leah could have ever imagined. From the womb of an unloved woman and from the pain of an unexpected and unwanted marriage, come two wonderful O.T. institutions – the priesthood and the monarchy. From the line of Levi (her third son) would come the Levitical priesthood (including Moses and Aaron). And from the line of Judah (her fourth son) would come the principal line of monarchy from which ultimately would come the Messiah! – “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5). Leah would be the great, great etc. grandmother of Jesus, the Saviour of the world, the Deliverer, the promised Messiah! She became the woman every Jewish woman would envy, because every Jewish woman would have wanted to be a mother in the Messianic line!

Leah thought that bearing children was the answer - the answer to her unattractiveness, nothingness, and rejection. “For then,” she reasoned, “my husband will love me and take notice of me. Then I will be worthy.” But it didn’t work that way. If you think you can find meaning in life, happiness, significance, and self-worth in a spouse, you’ll be emotionally dependent and your life will go to pieces when he or she doesn’t turn out to be what you expected. In your achievements you’ll be disillusioned and cynical when you get overlooked and someone else gets the promotion, the pay raise, the recognition. If that’s you, then you’re just like Leah. You need to recognize that idols and achievements only make the disillusionment of the world far worse and that God is the only source of true and lasting joy, happiness, love, recognition, and meaning in life.

When Leah turned to God she ceased bearing children” (29:35c). Why? Because when God became real to her through his great power in her she no longer needed to bear children to find what she was searching for. Instead, she had the God who gave her the children. Leah came to the realization that even though her father treated her cruelly and discarded her, even though her husband disregarded her, and even though her sister displaced her, God was her refuge and solace. He had saved her by his grace. Only when she took her eyes off self and fixed them on God, only when she stopped relying on her achievements in bearing children, only when she turned to the Creator of her children and said: “This time I will praise the Lord”(29:35b), only then did she find release, joy, insight. Only then did her dark life turn into the dawn of God’s blessing.

And when Leah turned everything over to God, God blessed her beyond her wildest imagination. She would be the one whose progeny would ultimately give birth to Jesus. Through her son, Judah, the Messiah would come. Leah “the woman nobody wants” became Leah “the woman every woman envies,” the mother of the Redeemer’s line! She went from a nobody to a somebody.

Concluding Remarks

When you learn that you are bankrupt, helpless, and hopeless, that you can’t climb Jacob’s ladder to heaven by your own efforts, and when you turn your focus from yourself to God, then God pours out his blessing upon you. He is the answer to your deepest longings.

When you realize that you can’t earn what you yearn for (whether it be your spouse’s recognition, communication, or affection, or your bosses’ commendation), and you turn to God, then God sees you and comes to your aid. Remember: “When you turn your focus from yourself to God, God pours out his blessing upon you.”

God loves those who are unloved and unwanted. He pours his grace into the lives of the outcasts and the despised. He is the Father to the fatherless, the husband to the widow, and the protector of the vulnerable. He exalts the humble, feeds the hungry, and gives strength to the weak.

If you’re searching for meaning and happiness, God recognizes your condition. He communicates the answer in the gospel through his Son. He loves you with an everlasting love.

If you feel disregarded, discarded, and displaced, will you turn your focus from yourself to God? His eye of compassion will see you and his hand of mercy will bless you. He will satisfy your every longing in the person of Jesus Christ and you’ll say: “This time I will praise the Lord” (29:35b). After you’ve tried and tried to find meaning and happiness in life by your own endeavours, when you turn to God you’ll find that Jesus Christ is all you want and all you need.

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

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