Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 4 Study # 4
Thesis: "Seeing a prophet" is a "heavy duty" responsibility issue.
Introduction: One of the more notable atheists of our day was asked what he would say to God if, once he died, he discovered that he had been wrong in his atheism. His flippant reply was that he would ask God, "Why did You not make Yourself more clear?"
This morning, in the light of Jesus' third question of the multitudes regarding John the Baptizer's identity, I want to raise that issue: clarity. Is God "unclear"? If so, why does He not make Himself "more clear"? If not, why do men continue to rage against His "clarity"?
October 5, 2008
- I. The "Clarity" Issue in Jesus' Question.
- A. First, "clearly" the fact that Jesus asked the multitudes the same basic question three times with two false answers followed by the only true one is an indication of His "effort" to make Himself "clear".
- 1. With the first question, Jesus was "clarifying" whether John's message was "believable".
- a. John's question had thrown a stumbling block into the path.
- b. Jesus' question attempted to remove it.
- 2. With the second question, Jesus was "clarifying" whether John's message was "worth the pursuit".
- a. Since mankind is intrinsically self-absorbed in an "I should be treated as a god" mentality, the question of whether one should deliberately choose a path that denies self-absorption is critical.
- b. Jesus' question raised the reality of the manifestly "clear" difference between John and Herod in a way that none of his audience could remain "confused".
- 3. With the third question, Jesus set the issue of "clarity" before His audience in no "uncertain" terms.
- a. The "faith/love" (is it believable/is it worthwhile) fundamentals of life in a real world are confronted by the "prophet" thesis.
- 1) If there is such a thing as a "prophet", "clearly" what he says has to be "believable".
- 2) If there is such a thing as a "prophet", "clearly" what he says has to be "valuable".
- b. Here we see that, for men, the real issue is not really "clarity".
- 1) No one can honestly deny the "what is true?"/"what is valuable" reality.
- 2) No one can honestly deny the most direct implication of the presence of a real "prophet": if God has spoken, what He says is both valuable and true.
- 3) No one can honestly deny the level of Jesus' "proof".
- a) At the foundations of His "proof" was the Old Testament "apologetic": revelation of specific details of the future has been given and validated.
- b) On this foundation, His "proof" moved to the most potent second level: the exercise of "power".
- B. Second, "clearly" the fact that Jesus raised the question of John's identity as a "prophet" is an indication of His "effort" to make Himself "clear".
- 1. The Old Testament revelation of "prophets" included two texts containing at least some of Jesus' words describing John as a "more than" prophet.
- a. Exodus 23:20 has the first eight words in Greek of Jesus' quote from the Septuagint. b.Malachi 3:1 has most of the remaining seven words in Greek in the Septuagint.
- 2. The two texts have the "concept" of "an original" and "an echo".
- a. In the Exodus text, there is a very "clear" warning: "do not be rebellious".
- 1) This indicates that the issue has never been "clarity".
- 2) The problem for man is not "ignorance" but "rebellion".
- b. In the Malachi text, there is a very "clear" warning that a "great and terrible day of accountability" is going to be imposed.
- II. The "Clarity" Issue For "Those Born of a Woman".
- A. Both of Jesus' textual foundations warn that the issue for "men" is not a lack of clarity.
- B. But, in God's dealings with men there were "lesser"/"more than" prophets.
- 1. On the one hand, 1 Samuel 3:19 and 9:6 make Samuel "more than" a mere prophet.
- 2. On the other hand, 1 Kings 13:18 and 20:35-36 do introduce the reality of erratic utterances.
- a. This is a complication (a "lack of clarity").
- b. Erratic utterances make certainty impossible.
- C. So, is the "lack of clarity" charge valid after all?
- 1. Note Psalm 7:9; 11:5; and Proverbs 17:3.
- 2. The bottom line is this reality: what people know/do not know is not the issue; what they want is the issue.