Sermon- History

Nov 2011

Good morning.

For the last few weeks I have been leading a Wednesday morning bible study. When I first thought about what to study, it occurred to me to perhaps bring some new insight to our group, but how can I do that?

So, considering this was a bible study why not look to the Bible? Seems reasonable, so if you have your bibles handy we are going to be looking at a few books. First, if you would please go to 3 Corinthians. Well, that’s a problem because it’s not there. However there are many scholars that think it might exists. Take a look at 2 Corinthians 7:8 “For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while—”

Many scholars have thought it simply referred to the 1Corinthian letter that we do have. And yet some scholars speculate that it might refer to a letter that has yet to be found. The idea of speculation on the Bible can raise issues, and there are certainly some cases of serious abuse, but a true study of the Bible requires some speculation in order to come to greater understanding. By the way, sometime in late first century, a 3 Corinthian letter was written, penned by someone who then signed it as if it was written by Paul. It was a forgery, speculation abuse in its highest form.

Even in medieval times there was speculation that Paul must have been a very prolific letter writer and that there might be some unknown letter saved in some unknown archive or library. Hundreds of monks were charged to visit as many of these places in the hopes of uncovering what was there. In the process, many scrolls were found and then brought back to the scriptoriums, where they were translated and transcribed. Many of the Greek and Roman classic that we have today are the result of these monks searching for Paul’s lost letters.

Petrarch lived at the beginning of the Renaissance. If fact, it might be said that he started the Renaissance. While he was a respected and fine poet, he was also a scholar of Latin. Latin was still the language of the church, academia and the legal profession. But it Petrarch’s day the actual written language had decayed so badly that it looked very much like the inner city slang that we see happening to English, except that proper Latin only appeared in a few manuscripts. In particular the three or four existing manuscripts of the great orator Cicero. Petrarch was certain that if we could just find the lost manuscripts, we could improve the use of Latin. We actually knew how many manuscripts Cicero wrote, but we only had a few. So Petrarch made a commitment to find the missing manuscripts. Unfortunately it did not happen in Petrarch’s lifetime, but his disciple did finally complete the process. And it was true, the study of Latin revitalized academia and the legal profession. 

An aside about Petrarch, it has been told that he was found wandering the streets if Florence with a Greek manuscript of Homer, pressed against his forehead, crying pitifully, saying aloud, ‘How beautiful it must be!’ Apparently he couldn’t read Greek, only Latin. 

So, my thought of studying Paul’s lost 3 Corinthians was probably not well thought out, although I did search my garage for a few hours. And then I had a new thought, how about studying the secret bible that is actually in the Bible. Yes, and if you are honest you, know exactly where that Part of the Bible is. It’s the parts that you skip!

What, we skip things in the Bible? May it never be so! We have 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; “. So why do we skip things? What possible reason do we have for skipping? And how much of the Bible do we skip.

There might be hundreds of personal reasons, Thomas Jefferson once scissored out to him the objectionable statements in order to create a Bible that he agreed with. Not only once, but twice! But let’s leave aside the disagreements, I’m here to tell you that there are thousands of words that are ignored for the simple reason that we find the passages boring or uninteresting. So let’s agree that the begats are problematic. They just go on and on. And then there are the complicated names and kingdoms. Where are exactly, and why are they important? And perhaps we should ask how of the Bible is skipped? Right now I’m assessing that my filters are coming up with at least an eighth of the bible. 

So my study began with looking at Abraham and Moses, paying particular attention to the historical references and then “speculating” on what new information this might mean.

Abraham and Moses’ basic historical information. 

First, about Abraham. He was a Sumerian. Not only a Sumerian but part of the ruling class. The native Sumerians had been conquered by the Akkadians and their allies. Abraham’s family was from Huran near Akkad, and Abraham’s father’s name was Terah, which meant ‘priest of the Gods’.

Abraham also was under his father’s authority for half his life, until he was 75. God first spoke to him, telling him that He had a plan for him, and that he had to go. With no argument, Abraham obeyed and Abraham went. 

Abraham waited until others told him that he was a prophet, God spoke to pagans about Abraham before God told Abraham. 

Moses. He was an Egyptian from 5-40 years of age. Trained to read Heiroglyphs, possible read cuneiform, trained in warfare, diplomacy, leadership, religion, trained to be a scribe. When he decided to make a difference, he can’t to the aid of a beaten slave, in the process he killed the slave driver. This caused him to be a wanted man by Pharoah, and he didn’t impress the Hebrews either, he just caused more trouble for them. He fled to the desert for the next forty years..Moses tried to be a leader by his own hand. He was forced to wait and learn in the desert until God felt he was ready.

So today is communion Sunday where we take the elements. What is the historical basis? The earliest verse in scripture is 2 Corinthians 11 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 

This reminds me of the “remember” problem that God recognizes in us. And the Last Supper, or Eucharist, is all about remembering, “do this in rememberence of me”. In historical context, the Last Supper took place in the upper room a few days before the cruxification. It was the Holy Week in Jerusalem, the eight days of Passover.

Now we all know the story of Passover, and the days leading up to the Exodus from Egypt. Passover is from the idea that the Angel of Death passed over the homes of the Hebrews during the last terrible plague, the death of the first born. In Moses’s house that would have been the death of Miriam, it didn’t happen. All that occurred was so important that a ceremony was created in order to retell the story of what God had done. This was the Seder ( it means order), so that the story was combined with specific foods to be eaten, and additional stories to be told. The summary of what the Seder is about is basically, that each and every person should know that the old story should be applied to each generation as if it applied to them. And they were to remember this and pass it on generationally, celebrated each year.

When Jesus celebrated the Seder in the upper room he did much the same thing. During the order of when the bread was offered, after blessing the bread, he added that this was His body, and later after blessing the wine, he said that this was his Blood. What most people don’t know is that there are four cups of wine during the Seder, each cup having a different name and a different meaning. The cup that Jesus blessed and then declared as his blood is called the Cup of Redemption. Isn’t that amazing, there are no coincidences. Whenever I attend a traditional Seder today, I am reminded of that fact.

When Jesus told us “in remembrance of me”, he was repeating the admonishment of the Passover, to take this information and apply it to yourselves in your time. They were saved and redeemed, you are saved and redeemed. It’s as simple as that. When you take communion you are to remember this, each and ever time.


1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 

Please come forward now to take and eat the bread, then carry the cup back to your seat when we will drink it in unison.

We celebrate an Open Communion here at Willow Spring Church, and you are free to participate, but if this is not the right time for you, then you may still come forward and simply ask for a blessing, and if you can’t come forward then the elements can be brought to you. We want all to have the opportunity to remember Our Lord.

And now the blessing of the Cup of Redemption
25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 

Thank you Lord, thank you for this day.

The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’

Adonai will kneel before you presenting gifts and will guard you with a hedge of protection, Adoni will illuminate the wholeness of his being toward you, bringing order, and he will beautify you, Adoni will lift up his wholeness of being, and look upon you, and he will set in place all you need to be whole