Monday, November 3, 2008

Postmodernism Solved

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Study 14 --- 1 Samuel 16

16:1 The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.” 4 Samuel did what the LORD commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD's anointed is before him.” 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” 10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.” 11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

14 Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him.

Comment:

Our Postmodern World and the Triune God

We live in a world people call postmodern. According to postmodernism there is no such thing as objective truth. All we have in the world are different perspectives. Each society and individual looks at the world from their own perspective. These different perspectives, so we are told, are not right or wrong, but just different.

All of this sounds good except for one minor problem: the triune God. It is the triune God whose perspective is the perspective to which we must conform. The Lord God of Israel, who created, sustains, and rules the world determines right and wrong in his universe. His perspective is our basis for determining the rightness or wrongness of a society’s or individual’s perspective.

This is one of the things we learn from this passage, and the famous verse: “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” You and I may see things differently than the Lord, but guess what? How he sees things is reality! We live in unreality until we conform our minds and hearts to his.

Our Need for the Word and Spirit

This is what makes the Bible so valuable to us. The Bible is God’s inspired, breathed-out Word. In it we find his perspective. In it we learn how he sees things. In it our minds are renewed by the Spirit of God (Romans 12:1).

But we need the Spirit of God to understand the words of God. God’s Word is a lamp that shows us God’s perspective, i.e., reality. But a lamp, no matter how bright, can’t help a blind man see!

Apart from God’s Spirit we are blind men and women, for sin and idolatry have darkened our understanding of reality. We need, not only the light of God’s Word, but also the inward presence of God’s Spirit to open the eyes of our understanding to understand and receive his Word.

Young king David received the Spirit in a remarkable way. He did not receive the Spirit temporarily, like Saul. Instead, David received the Spirit “from that day forward” (v. 13). David received the Spirit permanently. The Spirit did not even leave David after his sin with Uriah and Bathsheba, although this worried him. For David prayed in his prayer of confession in Psalm 51:11:

“Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.”


King David received the Spirit as a permanent possession in a remarkable way, and it caused him to do remarkable things. David was the sweet singer, psalmist of Israel, whose psalms have been read by countless millions and are still read on a daily basis by Christians. He was a mighty warrior, and a man after God’s heart.

The One Greater than David

But David was just a type, a reflection of the greater David to come. David’s greater descendent, Jesus, received the Spirit in unlimited measure, so that he is now the One, who with the Father, pours out the Spirit on his people. Isaiah prophesied of Christ’s Spirit-saturated life in this way:

"There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear . . ." (Isaiah 11:1-3)


Jesus lived his life according to God’s perspective, not “by what his eyes see (saw).” He could do this because he was filled with the Spirit without measure: “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure” (John 3:34).

Approaching the Bible Correctly

When we read the Bible we move from history to Christ to us. In other words, we look first at the historical context of a passage and what it meant at the time it was written. Then we ask how this relates to Jesus Christ, for all of the Old Testament in someway points to him. But once we have seen how it relates to Christ, we need to ask how it relates to us.

So what does this passage say to us? One thing it says to us is our need for the Holy Spirit to illumine our minds and warm our affections. The Word of God tells us about God’s perspective, but we can only embrace his perspective through the working of the Spirit as he joins us ever closer to the Father and the Son.

Union with Christ is what we celebrate as Christians at the Lord’s Supper. As we take the bread and chew it so that it enters us, so by faith Christ’s heart becomes our heart. By faith his perspective becomes our perspective. The Spirit has united us to our blessed Lord, and by faith we are united ever closer to him.

The Supper is a visible word that shows us what must happen to us through the written Word. By God’s life-giving Word our minds must be renewed. By God’s life-giving Word our hearts must be made to feel. By God’s life-giving Word Christ must be formed in us. His mind and heart must become our mind and heart.

This can only happen by the same Spirit that changed David, saturated Jesus, and is given to us by the Father and through the Son as a free and blessed gift.


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