Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Get a Clue

Ezekiel 37:1-14; Mark 12:18-27 / Psalm 62:1-12

I. The Sadducees Took Their Turn Tormenting Jesus

A. The Sadducees claimed to believe the Five Books of Moses but they denied standard doctrines believed by most Jews and by the Pharisees in particular. “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.” (Acts 23:8)

B. The Sadducees were an important feature of the cultural establishment, though they held to little theologically, they were prepared to line up solidly with their enemies to avoid letting anyone rock the establishment boat. “And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,” (Acts 4:1)

C. John the Baptist called both Pharisees and Sadducees snakes; do not trust people who manipulate Scripture rather than submit to it. “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7)

D. The Sadducees began with what all parties agreed was inspired Scripture. If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel. And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother. Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her; Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house. And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.” (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) Consult the story of Ruth.

E. The Sadducees tried to twist Scripture to mock the doctrine of Resurrection. “In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.” (Mark 12:23)

II. Don’t Argue with God

A. Get all the facts; the Sadducees had not done their Bible study homework. “And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?” (Mark 12:24)

B. Not only did the Sadducees fail to see the obvious doctrine of the Resurrection, they had ignored the implications for eternity. “For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.” (Mark 12:25)

C. Even that fraction of Scripture that the Sadducees acknowledged supported the Resurrection by acknowledging that the patriarchs were actually alive when God was talking to Moses at the burning bush; God says “I am” rather than “I was.” “And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” (Mark 12:26) “Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” (Exodus 3:6)

D. The great message of God’s people is that death is not the summary of life; it is impossible to believe in Jesus and reject the Resurrection.He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.” (Mark 12:27)

III. Rejecting Error Is Not Enough—Believe and Teach the Truth

A. God’s people are those who expect resurrection; this is the hope of Abraham which made him the father of the faithful. “(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:” (Romans 4:17-19)

B. Christians expect to see the New Jerusalem with Abraham; there is a better world coming.These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)

C. The Sadducees were not quibbling about words; they were raising the ultimate issue of life. “For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-19)

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