Question: You mentioned that God's reaction to Jonah was opposite from how he responded to Job. Why is this?

In the story of Jonah and Nineveh, one of the main themes brought out in the sermon was that even in judgment, God's heart is to show mercy, regardless of who we think "deserves" or is "worthy" of it.  When God told Jonah to warn the people of Nineveh that judgment was coming, Jonah ran away because he did not want these people--who were truly oppressive, cruel, unjust, immoral, and by all accounts awful--to have a chance in responding obediently and humbly after hearing a message of judgment.  He knew that if they repented, God would not hesitate to show mercy.  And, like most of us, he was fine with God showing mercy to him and to his people, but did not want that same mercy to be given towards people he judged as unworthy.  And yet despite Jonah's efforts to run away, God still comes after him, allowing him to another opportunity to live in obedience and humility.  We would expect God to respond to him in frustration and anger, because, after all, Jonah should know better.  Based on his actions, Jonah doesn't deserve mercy any more than the people of Nineveh do.  And yet, despite what we would expect, God chooses to speak kindly to Jonah, provide for his phyisical needs, and remind him of his place as the creature, rather than the Creator.

In the story of Job, who lived in a completely different time, place, and situation than Jonah, a different question is being asked of God.  Job experienced more pain, loss, heartache, and "unjust" treatment than most of us can begin to imagine.  If we were to compare Job and Jonah based on their actions and character described in each of their stories, Job should receive the gold star and Jonah should be sent to the back of the line.  We would expect God to respond in a similar, if not greater, tone of mercy and kindness to him, based on his response to Jonah.   After a long process of wrestling with why so much pain and evil has happened to him, despite living a life that seeks to be faithful and obedient to God, Job finally hears a response (Job 38-41).  In a nutshell, God's answer is that he is the Creator, who has more wisdom and knowledge and discernment and power and goodness and creativity than Job can ever imagine.  His character cannot be called into question based on circumstances.  And unlike Jonah, when Job hears this response from God, his reaction is one of completel humility, trust, and obedience.

 It's easy for us to compare the ways God speaks to different people, especially when it's in our own lives and the lives of those around us.  In The Horse and His Boy (one of C.S. Lewis' Narnia stories), the main character asks Aslan why he acted a certain way towards one of his friends, because it doesn't seem to make sense with how Aslan responded to his own situation.  Aslan simply responds by saying, "Child, I am telling you your story, not hers.  I tell no one any story but his own."  Does this mean that God is unpredictable in his character or plays favorites?  Absolutely not.  Each day we are asked to trust and respond to him in faith, regardless of what our circumstances tell us to believe.  We can choose to believe, as Jonah did, that he is always good, full of mercy, grace, love, and justice (Jonah 4:2); and we can also choose to say with Job that nothing is too great for our God or beyond his control (Job 42:2). 

Thanks so much for asking questions during our services. We hope this blog encourages and empowers us all toward a greater knowledge of who God is and the life he offers us in Christ. Each week responses are offered from different members of the teaching team at Mosaic. This response comes from Christy Averill.

 

 

Question: What is a 21st century example of a "wall of hostility" in the church?

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When we hear phrases like “the dividing wall of hostility,” we are often curious of which scenarios this can be likened to in our own culture.  This is an insightful question, and it’s important for us to understand and be able to discern those walls that we have often reinforced within the church.  

Paul insisted that through Christ this barrier between Jews and Gentiles, having been reinforced by his people throughout the ages, had officially been broken down.  Paul’s model for the church was not homogenous, in which all conform to the same mold.  He spoke of the importance of unity amongst Christians while emphasizing the need for diversity--the two aren’t counter to one another.  We see this in Ephesians 2, 1 Corinthians 13, and Romans 12--the church is a body with many parts, a temple constructed of many different stones.  But in spite of this, a barrier still remained in the early church; and in fact, barriers still remain in the modern church.  

Within the church these barriers range in intensity from things as obvious as race, as we discussed Sunday, to things as small as worship preferences.  We would be naive to think that race is not still a barrier in our city today.  Anyone who knows Birmingham can recognize the very clear dividing line that exists between white and black neighborhoods, but another wall that has become more exaggerated throughout the years is the line between poverty stricken and affluent areas in the city.  Worse than our neighborhoods and subdivisions, even our churches reinforce these barriers.  

  We reinforce this socioeconomic barrier silently in the way we gravitate towards certain people and avoid others.  We decide to live in certain areas because they allow us to insulate ourselves from those who are different.  Those without enough money to give aren’t often welcome in our churches, and those who can’t clean themselves up well enough are ignored.  No one wants to say it aloud, but poorer people seemingly don’t have much to offer the church today.  Our worship traditions exclude people as well.  Those who have no appreciation for the way things have always been done (wrongly or not) are sent away and those who express their worship to the Lord in different ways are frowned upon.  

In a politically correct society like ours, the barriers of today are silently reinforced rather than outwardly and openly.  It is often by our silence that “the dividing wall of hostility” is sustained and reinforced.  A picture of this is found in the book of Galatians when Paul confronts Peter concerning his unwillingness to eat with Gentiles while other Jewish Christians are present.  It was Peter’s quiet actions that reinforced this barrier.  We too are capable of reinforcing barriers in our own churches simply by remaining quiet and by supporting the status quo.  But what Paul reminds us is that we must proclaim the good news that in Christ the “dividing wall of hostility,” no matter how great or small, has come down.  

Thanks so much for asking questions during our services. We hope this blog encourages and empowers us all toward a greater knowledge of who God is and the life he offers us in Christ. Each week responses are offered from different members of the teaching team at Mosaic. This response comes from Kyle Killough.

Sunday Sept. 8th Wrap Up

This Past Sunday Wes Springer finished up our series on the Glory of God. 

Having started his sermon with 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1, Wes reminded us all that we do needs to be done to the Glory of God. For three weeks  we have talk about what the Glory of God is. We talked about how it so often is a term that we use and never really think twice about the implications, we talked about how glory is the manifestation of our Holy God here and now, and we talked about how Glory gets personal.

Glory got no more personal than when Jesus Christ came down to this earth and made a way for us, broken, sinful, human beings to be in the presence and glory of Holy. Our sins matter because they separate us from our relationship with the Father which was the intention all along for our creation.

Wes reminded us that we have the joy and honor through, and by, the power of the Spirit to be a way for others to encounter Jesus. We living lives by the spirit in line with the commands of scripture because of what Jesus Christ did, allows us to a part of God's Glory coming and breaking into this broken world. And that is doing all to the Glory of God. Doing all that we know that is our only response to the Gospel. The command is simple - in all you do, do so that others can encounter Jesus.

We are so excited that we had a chance to go through this series.  

Our next Series will start Sept. 22 and it is titled "Surprised by Judgment." 

In the mean time, this Sunday we will be focusing on Reconciliation in light of the 50 year anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing.

And Finally. Dont forget, there is a Town Hall Meeting Monday Sept 16 at 6:30 at the Broadhead's House. We hope all that can make it will be there to talk about and hear the passion and direction the Church is going over the next few months.

Question: What is the Importance of the Seraphim?

Question You explained the importance of the repetition of the Holy being said three times, what is the importance of the seraphim having six wings?

 

"Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew."     Isaiah 6:2

 

These flaming creatures are no doubt a point of interest. Many of us want to know so badly exactly what they look like and what their purpose is. But, in this instance we are not given these immediate details. We know a little bit about Seraphim because of their appearance in a few other places in scripture - most notably Revelation 4.

In each of their appearances however, they show up for a reason. They represent power and majesty yet they themselves in their awesomeness pale to compare to the power and majesty of the Glory of God. They are the created, worshiping the creator. 

Their six wings may have little importance in terms of the number other than six represents imperfection in light of their created nature. What is important with these seraphim is that they are covering their feet and their eyes in worship. Though they are crying "Holy, Holy, Holy" for all of creation, they still cannot look fully upon the glory of God. And, they know as created beings before the Majesty of God they must cover themselves.

The hope is for us to see that we are no different.  

It is no small thing that we can come before God, our imperfection and smallness pales all the more. But thankfully we have the blood of Jesus to cover us, and it is by the Spirit of God who has been sent to us that we can boldly go before the throne of God. 

 

Thanks so much for asking questions during our services. We hope this blog encourages and empowers us all toward a greater knowledge of who God is and the life he offers us in Christ. Each week responses are offered from different members of the teaching team at Mosaic. This response comes from Johnathon Miller. 

Questions: Does God punish children for their parents' sins?


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Question:  How does the New Covenant affect the punishment of sins to the third and fourth generations as mentioned in Exodus 34:6-7, or does it?  Can I expect to suffer the consequences of my sin and the sins of the generation before me or is there any hope for freedom in this life (not just the next)?  And, if so, what does this freedom look like?


Exodus 34:6-7 says the following:  And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

This passage is written inside of an ongoing story of a relationship between God and His creation.  God longed for man to live in the world He created without the presence of sin and its consequences, but His love was so great for man that He wanted him to have the choice.  Sadly man wanted to know good AND evil (Gen 3:1-7).  At the thought God was holding out on him, man chose to be his own god.

Even in the days leading up to the events in Exodus 32-34, when presented with the laws God required; the people arrogantly proclaimed their intent and ability to “do everything the Lord has said” (Ex. 24:3).  Yet, throughout the entire Old Testament and by the Old Covenant, God was trying to get them to understand what they could NOT do, which was save themselves.  Over and over again, He tried to teach people to trust Him, demonstrate to them His mercy, and pursue them with His love.  But mankind still felt the need to earn it, to do it on their own, prove themselves.

I can hear the longing and desperation in the Lord’s voice as He proclaimed to Moses, “I am, I am, the compassionate gracious God.”  He wanted His people to trust His goodness.  “I am slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin.”  He wanted them to throw themselves on His mercy, drown themselves in His love, rest in His faithfulness.

But God has to punish the guilty.  He is holy beyond our understanding. He is pure beyond our ability to know purity.  He cannot allow sin.  He doesn’t want to allow sin, because it destroys us.  Sin has its own natural consequences, and it affects generations.  It affects those around us.  It cannot be contained in isolation.  It is deadly.  It is poisonous.  It is heavy in the weight of its consequences.

So God in the richness of His mercy and the vastness of His love came up with a plan to punish the guilty and deal with sin that would no longer enslave mankind, but free them.  He chose His Son to become one of us; to face the temptation of sin and conquer it, to take the punishment for sin and overcome it. Jesus became the sacrifice that paid for our sin.

We still live in a world with sin.  We still face the temptation of it, and deal with the consequences of it.  We are still affected by the sins of generations before us. We still impact the generations after us. But now we have a new covenant through Jesus Christ.  He was punished in our place; for our guilt and for our sin (Isaiah 53:4-5).  Yes, God must punish the guilty.  So Jesus stepped in and received that punishment for us.

So today we can do what God has always longed for His creation to do—throw ourselves upon His mercy, His goodness, and His love.  Receive His forgiveness, not just for our sins, but for the sins of the generations before us.  In the name of Jesus, we can break the power of sin in our lives and in our family for both past and future generations. We have the power to overcome sin, because of the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit of God living within us.  We are not bound by the curses of our past or our family’s past.  There is freedom from the power of sin and its curse over us, because of Jesus (Gal 3:10-14).

 

Thanks so much for asking questions during our services. We hope this blog encourages and empowers us all toward a greater knowledge of who God is and the life he offers us in Christ. Each week responses will be offered from different members of the teaching team at Mosaic. This response comes from Melanie Watson.