Sermon for Sunday, January 14, 2024


Matthew 9:23-26

Matthew 9:23–26 (NLT): 23 When Jesus arrived at the official’s home, he saw the noisy crowd and heard the funeral music. 24 “Get out!” he told them. “The girl isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” But the crowd laughed at him. 25 After the crowd was put outside, however, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up! 26 The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside.

There is an inherent flaw that becomes implemented, if not careful, when we read our Bible through the lens of only the present reality.  Indeed, the Bible is a book that is very much alive presently, but the inspired words were recorded anciently.  What I mean by stating this is this: the ancient had a direct purpose and intent of communication meant to be interpreted by those who were engrossed into similar struggles. 

Predominantly, most of the Old Testament that we have is not Torah, but rather, the recordings of a people who have become displaced.  This is called the Diaspora, or, the distribution of the Israelites, who would later be adjoined to the term “Jew” after their return from Babylon permitted by Cyrus the Great because the land is now called “Yehud” or Judah.  It would remain that way until Alexander the Great conquers the territory.  Between 319 and 302 BC Jerusalem changed hands seven times, and it remained contested until 200 BC.  Then, Judas Maccabeus led the Hasmonean Revolt[1], and the land was named Judaea, or Judea.  It would remain under that name at the time of Jesus’ birth, after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem under order by Caesar Vespasian, completed by his son Titus in 70 AD. Two generations later, the Bar Kokhba revolt occurred between 133-136 AD, Rome erased the name Judea, accomplished by Hadrian, and was renamed Syria Palaestina[2].  Jerusalem, still in ruins but held as sacred by the Jews was rebuilt as a Roman colony under the name of Aelia Capitolina and the Jews were forbidden to settle there or anywhere near it.

Therefore, the Bible is an ancient land claim of the Jews.  The Old Testament major and minor prophets speak hope into a future return and a re-establishment of what was lost and a release from injustice and oppression.  Then Jesus, the Son of God, is born and makes bold statements that the Temple will be destroyed and that salvation is not JUST for the Jews, but the whole world, a world by the way, that Jews had been distributed all over!  After all, God never wanted a Temple in the first place…

2 Samuel 7:4–7 (NLT): 4 But that same night the LORD said to Nathan,  5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD has declared: Are you the one to build a house for me to live in? 6 I have never lived in a house, from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until this very day. I have always moved from one place to another with a tent and a Tabernacle as my dwelling. 7 Yet no matter where I have gone with the Israelites, I have never once complained to Israel’s tribal leaders, the shepherds of my people Israel. I have never asked them, “Why haven’t you built me a beautiful cedar house?” ’

Paul expounds this thought:

Acts 17:24–28 (NLT): 24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.

27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

You see, there is a transition made in the New Testament.  Old Testament is the protection and preservation of Israel, the promises of God made to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, all made with the promise of a rescuer, a Messiah.  Jesus claims to be THAT Messiah! 

Now, due to the diaspora, planted amongst nations near and far, are people familiar with the promises of God.  However, there is an inherent problem we have as human beings, and it is this:  Birds of a feather flock together”.  We inherently celebrate tribalism.  This leads to “us” and “them”.  This leads to separation and segregation.  There is us and our enemy.  The enemy is US!

James 4:1–3 (NLT): What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

We are ASLEEP.  The Bible uses sleep as a reference to being dead or death.  Sleep gives the appearance of death.  This of Matthew 9:24. It states at Stephen’s stoning that he “fell asleep”.  The Bible uses other terms in a similar way like:

  • Moses, Enoch, and all disappeared, nobody could find them. (Read Hebrews 11)

It’s not time to sleep, the time for hiding is over, now is the day of SALVATION for EVERYONE!

Matthew 25:1–13 (ESV): 25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Sleeping virgins: pure but not ready…

[1]              Oppenheimer, A’haron and Oppenheimer, Nili. Between Rome and Babylon: Studies in Jewish Leadership and Society. Mohr Siebeck, 2005, p. 2.

[2]              Ariel Lewin. The archaeology of Ancient Judea and Palestine. Getty Publications, 2005 p. 33. “It seems clear that by choosing a seemingly neutral name – one juxtaposing that of a neighboring province with the revived name of an ancient geographical entity (Palestine), already known from the writings of Herodotus – Hadrian was intending to suppress any connection between the Jewish people and that land.” ISBN 978-0-89236-800-6

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