Flutes and Funerals

a002b97f9c06b49145b2f77cd05086beLuke 7:31–35 (NKJV) — 31 And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying:

‘We played the flute for you,

And you did not dance;

We mourned to you,

And you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is justified by all her children.”

A group of children are sitting in the public marketplaces and calling to other children who are obstinate and unwilling to play games with them.  One game involves a happy event like a wedding.  Another involves a time of lament like a funeral.  But the onlooking companions refuse to participate in either game.

The wedding speaks to the ministry of our Lord Jesus.  The funeral speaks to that of John the Baptist.  One group of children represents both of the contrasting roles of Jesus and John, our Lord’s forerunner.  The second, non-participating of group of children represents the unresponsive, hardened Pharisees and the Jews who follow them.  The non-participants reject both games.  Even so, the Pharisees rejected both ministries of Jesus and John the Baptist.

The Pharisees seek to temper John’s stern preaching.  They don’t like their hypocrisy being put on public display.  As Herod proves when he takes the life of John the Baptist to satiate the bloodlust of his wife.  At the same time, they seek to impose strict legalism upon what they see as Jesus’ permissive ministry.  There is a great tension in this parable between legalism and licentiousness.

  1. Jesus’ message of forgiveness shouldn’t be dampened by legalistic restrictions.  Instead, it should be freely celebrated.
  2. John’s message of repentance shouldn’t be ignored.  Instead, it should be soberly measured.
  3. The truth of this tension between legalism and licentiousness is justified by those who hold to it.

The Pharisees are stubborn children.  They cannot be brought from the sidelines to play nice with the other children.  Flutes and dancing represent the joy of a wedding and the joy of mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Mourning and weeping represent the sober reality of sin’s just penalty:  death and the funeral.  But the Pharisees will not play that game either.

Jesus and the Good News Ministry

John the Baptist is the last of a long line of OT prophets who spoke of a time when the Messiah would come.  Prophets speak of what is to come.  But now the Bridegroom has come.  The best man takes a backseat.  John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord Jesus.  He is the forerunner of the Messiah who would preach the Good News of the glorious gospel.  Jesus confirmed His own preaching ministry with the miracles prophesied of in the OT by prophets like the Baptist.  He also gave the apostles the ability to work miracles to confirm their teaching ministry.  All was in place.  Nothing should have hindered the reception of the Bridegroom or His joyful message of forgiveness.

The Rejection of the Good News

However, that message was not heeded.  The Pharisees and those who followed them loved the letter of the Law but hated the spirit of it.  They were fine with the shadow but rejected the substance.  The road is indeed narrow which leads to righteousness.  Broad is the path to destruction.  The majority fill the broad way; the minority tread the narrow.

It shouldn’t be surprising that few receive the Good News today.  It’s the way it has always been.  A population tends to waver between legalism and licentiousness.  But that whole population is still on the broad way.  A lot of people think that they are Christians, but they don’t rejoice in forgiveness or repent in the face of serious sin.  Wedding or funeral – it makes little difference to them.  They won’t come out and play.  Believers say with the prophet Isaiah, ”Lord, who has believed our report?”

But recall that John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus were very convincing and powerful preachers.  A lot of people wouldn’t hear them.  Someone weird like John doesn’t really deserve a hearing from the Pharisees’ perspective.  The guy eats locusts and wild honey.  He lives an isolated life wearing camel’s hair.  He doesn’t have fun at all.  He doesn’t eat bread or drink wine.  He must have a demon.  He’s just so austere.  We can’t relate to him.  And Jesus is way too friendly.  Eating and drinking with anybody and everybody.  He’s a glutton and a drunkard.  There’s got to be something wrong with anyone who spends time as a friend of tax collectors and sinners.

Some people hate the glorious message of grace and forgiveness because of their legalistic sin nature.  Others hate it because of the way it cramps their style, calling them to Spirit transformation rather than world conformation.  They wouldn’t mind a Christ to save them, but they don’t want a Lord to master them.

Others don’t like a faith-only message.  “After all, what incentive would there be for righteous living,” they ask.  They are so works-oriented that they drive themselves and other to despair.  Their proselytes are two-fold the children of Hell.  They need a written set of laws and codes to live life by.  Anyone who preaches “by grace through faith” is offensive to these religious, constraining types.  To them, it’s a religion not a relationship.  It is indeed a way to control the masses.

These are hardened, stubborn children.  We look at the Pharisees and the Jews who followed them as being so foolish and churlish.  But we don’t see the legalism working within us that worked within them.  We don’t like it when our legalism is showing.  We like to justify it, but wisdom only is justified by all her children.

The Gospel is free …grace is free.  It’s too humiliating for some people to admit that.  They are too proud to receive it or believe it.  Self-righteousness and self-denial seems to make more sense.  But we have no righteousness of our own, and self-denial turns to self-indulgence in no time without Christ.  Even if we get to the point that we know the Gospel is true, we cannot get to the point that we are to blame for rejecting it.  We blame the messenger …we condemn the Gospel’s preachers in order to justify ourselves.

But the real problem is that we love darkness rather than light.  If Jesus’ message came to us from Him directly, we’d do the same thing the Pharisees did.  We would balk and act wounded and offended.  We’d use that as the reason to reject Him and His message.  But wisdom is justified by all her children.

You Cannot Do What God Has Done

Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”  But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to imagebring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach)… (Romans 10.5-8)

The end and goal of the law is a righteous standing before God by faith. Christ is that end and goal. Moses wrote about the righteousness which is of the Law in Leviticus 18.5. You just have to do the Law and live by the Law in order to have the righteousness of God. The problem is that no one does. But the Law had another component:

“For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’  Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’  But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.” (Deuteronomy 30.11-14)

Moses emphasizes the heart in this passage. Loving obedience comes from a trusting heart. Pleasing God is not beyond Israel’s reach according to Moses. God required faith. Israel cannot think that they can ascend into heaven and bring Christ down to earth to save His people. Israel cannot think that they are good enough to raise up Christ the Messiah from the dead. God had already done these things. They just needed to accept them in their heart. The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.

Explore the Book: Exodus (Pt 1)

Exodus is built around its three great actors:  Israel, Egypt, and God.

Israel

Exodus meant four things specifically for Israel:

  1. A new life was marked by the beginning of a new calendar (Exodus 12.2).
  2. The house of bondage gave way to new liberty by the powerful hand of God’s deliverance (Exodus 13.3).
  3. The Passover memorial and feast symbolized a new fellowship (Exodus 12.14).
  4. The deliverance of Israel from bondage marked a new assurance that God would indeed be there God (Exodus 6.7-8).

The Exodus under Moses parallels the redemption Christ brings to believers:

“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5.7-8).

We, too, have new life, new liberty, new fellowship, and new assurance.

Egypt

Exodus meant three things specifically for Egypt:

  1. Their false idolatry was exposed (Exodus 12.12).  Baxter
  2. Resistance to God is futile (Exodus 9.16).
  3. Egypt parallels the world:
  • Its material wealth and power (Hebrews 11.26)
  • Its fleshly wisdom and false religion (Exodus 8.7)
  • Its ruler (Satan compared with Pharaoh)
  • Its principles of force, arrogance, ambition, and pleasure
  • Its persecution of the people of God (Deuteronomy 4.20)
  • Its overthrow by divine judgment (Exodus 12.29; 15.4-7; plagues, death of the firstborn, drowning of Pharaoh’s army)

God

Exodus provides a go-to manifestation of God’s power.  It will be an event that the Old Testament returns to again and again.

The Marvel of the Exodus Deliverance:

  1. A marvel of judgment (plagues, smiting of the firstborn, and the defeat of the Egyptian army)
  2. A marvel of grace (blood-marked dwellings are passed over and Israel is delivered)
  3. A marvel of might (God’s power to part the Red Sea)
  4. A marvel of guidance (demonstrated by the pillars of cloud and fire)
  5. A marvel of provision (manna and water)
  6. A marvel of faithfulness (God honors both the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants)
  7. A marvel of condescension (God meets with man in the Tabernacle; He will not forsake His people)

The Marvel of New Testament Redemption:

  1. Judgment – God has judged human sin at the cross of Jesus Christ and through the blood of His Son.
  2. Grace – We identify with Christ and escape punishment we deserve.  Then, we are given righteousness we do not deserve.
  3. Might – The resurrection of Christ is a manifestation of God’s supreme power over sin and death.
  4. Guidance – The Holy Spirit leads us in the way we should go.  There is no need for a physical pillar of light or fire.
  5. Provision – We have all the spiritual blessings in Christ.  He supplies our every need.
  6. Faithfulness – God keeps covenant with His people.  He will not leave or forsake us.
  7. Condescension – God makes His home in us through the Holy Spirit.  Thus, we are the temple of the living God.  This is simply amazing condescension.

These parallels provide an entrance for the Gospel.  Baxter draws three points of comparison and three points of contrast:

Comparison

  1. Israel was freed from the house of bondage, namely Egypt.  We, too, are freed from the bondage of sin.
  2. Israel celebrated their deliverance with the Passover lamb.  Jesus is the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.
  3. Israel commemorated the Passover with a feast from that time forward.  Christ is our Passover and we too remember Him as such through the Lord’s Table.

Contrast

  1. Means:  The blood of animals was a mere shadow of the substance of Christ’s blood shed for us.
  2. Extent:  The liberation of Israel was limited to just them, but the liberation of the Gospel is for whosoever will come.
  3. Effects:  Israel was delivered from physical slavery in Egypt, but we are delivered from eternal slavery in Hell.

 

Explore the Book: Genesis (Pt 4)

The Seven Great Men of Genesis

  1. Abel – a man of spiritual desire.  This is a contrast to Cain, a man of earthly desire.  Cain was a tiller of the ground with earthward interests and holdings.  Abel was a keeper of sheep, a tent-dwelling pilgrim desiring something beyond.  Cain goes out from the presence of the Lord and busies himself with cities and with works in brass and iron.  Abel reaches for better things, seeking rest in God; suffering and dying in hope of the better resurrection (Hebrews 11.16).
  2. Enoch – a man who walked with God.  Behind the walk was the will.  Enoch’s will was God’s will.  Two cannot walk together except they be agreed (Amos 3.3).  Enoch agreed with God.  He made this choice to fellowship with God and walk with God.  Enoch went God’s way; God did not come Enoch’s way.  He was a dedicated man of spiritual choice.
  3. Noah – a man of spiritual renewal.  Noah’s story begins as a man of spiritual choice on the ground of the old world (Genesis 6).  He is separated from the old world in the ark and by the flood waters (Genesis 7).  He then goes forth into a new life in a new world (Genesis 8-9).
  4. Abraham – a man of faith.  He trusted in God’s guidance, believed in God’s promises, received God’s assurances, inherited God’s blessing, underwent difficult testing, and was accounted righteous through faith as a friend of God.
  5. Isaac – a man of sonship.  Isaac is a son of special promise, special birth, special preciousness, the only son of his mother, and the only heir of his father, the son through whom promises are realized.  A special bride is chosen for him.  He dwelt in the land of inheritance, biding by thBaxtere wells of water, with many joys and few conflicts, we see in him the privileges and joys of sonship.
  6. Jacob – a man of service.  Jacob is the worker throughout, busy with his hands.  He struggles to obtain the blessing.  He is touched by God and becomes the prince of prayer.  He is spiritual at heart.  He is eager in his activity, work, and service.
  7. Joseph – a man of suffering and glory.  Faith, sonship, and service blend together in his life.  Joseph is made perfect through sufferings.  

These seven men are set apart by the writer of Hebrews as great men of faith (see Hebrews 11).

Suggestions to Study these Seven Men:

    

  1. Study them biographically.  Note dominant features and determining crises.  Illustrate and apply.
  2. Study them spiritually.  Which transcending truths enlighten the mind?  Which transcending truths regulate the life?
  3. Study them prophetically.  Baxter suggests the following prophecies within Genesis:  Christ (3.14-15); Earth (3.17-18; 8.21-22); Race (9.25-27); Israel (13.14-17; 22.15-18); Nations and tribes (17.19-20; 25.23; 48.17-20; 49.1-28).
  4. Study them dispensationally.  A dispensation is a period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God.  Baxter numbers seven in Scripture and four in Genesis:  1) Innocence in which God tests man; 2) Conscience in which God suffered man; 3) Human Government in which God restrained man; 4) Promise in which God wrought for man.
  5. Study Genesis geographically, critically, and textually.

Explore the Book: Genesis (Pt 3)

BaxterDefining Old Testament Types

Any person, object, event, act, or institution (e.g., ceremony, office, structure) divinely adapted to represent some spiritual reality, or to prefigure some person or truth to be later revealed.  God invests these things “with a prefigurative meaning, so that besides having a real relationship with their own times they have had a significance reaching far forward into the future.”

  • Stated in the New Testament.
  • People:  Adam and Melchizedek (Romans 5.14; Hebrews 7.3)
  • Objects:  Rock and the first tabernacle (1 Corinthians 10.4; Hebrews 9.8-9)
  • Events:  Noah’s deliverance and Abraham sacrificing Isaac (1 Peter 3.21; Hebrews 11.19)
  • General parallels:  1 Corinthians 10.6; 1 Corinthians 10.11; Hebrews 10.1; the discourse on bread (John 6); “Letter” vs. “Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3-4); Ishmael and Isaac (Galatians 4); Melchizedek and Aaron (Hebrews); The Brass Serpent; Jonah spending three days in a great fish; Christ as the Passover, Firstfruits, Mercy Seat, and Lamb; Joseph and Jesus.

Baxter points out that the “one all-sufficient authority for Old Testament typology is the clear warrant of the New Testament.”  This is extremely important.  Interpreters have vivid imaginations.  Often, they see types where they do not exist.

Values of Typology

Allegorical and mystical interpretations carried to foolish extravagances are unsupported by the New Testament.  However, there is value in the study of a genuine type.  Baxter likens such study to giving “colour and fulness and vividness of presentation which cannot be given in direct, unfigurative prediction …No Old Testament [type] should be dogmatically asserted to be a type without clear New Testament warrant.”

Principles of Interpretation

Precautions

  1. No doctrine or theory should ever be build upon a type or types independently of direct teaching elsewhere in Scripture.  Types illustrate; they do not formulate.  They are dependent, and must not be used independently to authenticate doctrine.
  2. The parallelism between type and antitype should not be pressed to fanciful extremes.  They enrich and illuminate our understanding.  As with the interpretation of a parable, one must not carry insignificant minutiae into a degenerative interpretation through imaginative allegorizing.

Baxter lists several examples of types in Genesis, but then does not defend them.  However, he does elaborate upon two examples:

  1. Flood Survivors:  A Type of the Church
  2. Joseph:  A Type of Christ

Baxter could have chosen clear examples, but he did not.  I might draw parallels from the above examples.  However, strictly speaking, they are not types even by Baxter’s definition (which I think is sound).  The value of this lesson is found not in Baxter’s examples but in his principles and precautions concerning typology and the Scripture.

One clear type in Genesis is Adam with the Lord Jesus Christ.  This type is defensible from Romans 5.

Explore the Book: Genesis (Pt 2)

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1–2)

Creation

  • “In the beginning God” – denies atheism with its doctrine of no God
  • “In the beginning God” – denies polytheism with its doctrine of many gods
  • “In the beginning God created” – denies fatalism with its doctrine of chance
  • “In the beginning God created” – denies evolution with its doctrine of infinite becoming
  • “God created heaven and earth” – denies pantheism which makes God and the universe identical
  • “God created heaven and earth” – denies materialism which asserts the eternity of matter

Note:  It is at this point that Baxter maintains what many older commentators maintained.  He held to a gap of time that elapses between Genesis 1.1 and Genesis 1.2.  He claims that these verses have no logical connection.  He seeks to reconcile science with the Bible by explaining geology through this gap of time.  He believes that the earth was reformed. Further, he believes that the days in Genesis 1-2 are not literal days but point to the process, progress, and purpose they exhibit.  This effects his view of Genesis 2.

I maintain that God created all things in six literal days.  There was no recreation of the heavens and the earth.  There is no large gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.  As far as the age of the geological table, I believe God created the heavens and the earth with the appearance of age.  Adam and Eve were not created as infants but as full-grown adults.  The gap theory and any other acquiescence to science ought to be dismissed.  The text in Genesis is literal and historical.

Click this link to understand more about the Gap Theory and recent modifications made to it.

Fall

  1. Temptation (Genesis 3.1-6) – The tempter could only tempt.  There need not have been sin.  There was no reason to yield to temptation.  The temptation was strengthened by the questioning of God’s Word (3.1), flat out contradiction (3.4), and the maligning of God’s motive behind the prohibition given (3.5).
  2. Yielding (Genesis 3.6) – Satan captured the ear, the eye, the inward desire, and finally the will.  Eve allowed her ear to listen to the tempter, her eye to become fixed upon the object of temptation, and her desire to run away with her will (cp. Genesis 3.6 with 1 John 2.16 and 2 Timothy 2.14).
  3. Results (Genesis 3.7-24) – Eyes were in fact opened and they knew they were naked.  Innocence was gone.  Shame manifested itself.  Surely there were outward and inward changes.  Attendant with sin was fear and hiding.  Yet God remembers mercy and delivers the promise of a coming Savior (Genesis 3.15).

Flood

We know little about the period between the Fall and the Flood.  It is a 1600 year period when corruption became so thorough that the intervention of God was unavoidable.  Retribution became inevitable.  It illustrates the need for separation between the lines of Seth and Cain.  It illustrates the need to remain uncompromising in our world today.

Note:  Baxter believes that it is not necessary to hold to a universal flood in order to maintain inspiration.  He is mistaken.  The promise of God mitigates against this belief.  There have been many localized floods that have taken tens of thousands of lives in a single incident.  His material on this point is confusing and incoherent.

To better understand the Genesis flood, click here to examine its universality.
Baxter
Babel

This event marks the pluralizing of human language.  This was necessary as a form of judgment due to unwholesome unity and rebellion against God.

Note:  Baxter’s addendum to Lesson 2 buttressed his argument for a Gap Theory.  Research regarding the Days of Creation is found by clicking the link.  In spite of Baxter’s support of the Gap Theory, we will find much value and profit in Explore the Book.  We just need to be discerning.

Corrosive Hypocrisy

  1. The hypocritical giver receives glory from men rather than open rewards from God (Matthew 6.1-4).
  2. THypocrite-300x150he hypocritical person who prays are recognized as spiritual by men and are rewarded with man’s recognition rather than open rewards from God (Matthew 6.5-6).
  3. The hypocritical person who fasts disfigures his face and gives the appearance of suffering and is rewarded with man’s recognition rather than open rewards from God (Matthew 6.16-18).
  4. The hypocritical judge picks away at the lives of others while ignoring glaring problems in his own life (Matthew 7.1-5; Luke 6.39-42).
  5. The hypocritical legalist uses man-made tradition to circumvent God-given responsibilities (Matthew 15.1-7; Luke 13.15-16).
  6. The hypocritical person is blind when it comes to pending doom and the arrival of the kingdom of God (Matthew 16.1-4).
  7. The hypocritical person is constantly seeking to undermine authority (Matthew 22.15-22).
  8. The hypocritical person obscures the kingdom of God instead of making the way plain (Matthew 23.13; Luke 12.56).
  9. They hypocritical person devours the resources of the defenseless under the guise of spirituality (Matthew 23.14).
  10. The hypocritical person secures adherents that take hypocrisy to a new level (Matthew 23.15).
  11. The hypocritical person is more concerned about tithing than justice, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23.23-24).
  12. The hypocritical person is more concerned with what people see than what God sees (Matthew 23.25-28).
  13. The hypocritical person is overconfident about his spirituality and discernment (Matthew 23.29-30).
  14. The hypocritical servant forget his master will hold him accountable one day (Matthew 24.45-51).
  15. The hypocritical person is honors the Lord Jesus with His lips but his heart is far from Him (Mark 7.6-7).
  16. The hypocritical person is a death trap to the unaware (Luke 11.44; 12.1-3).

Love must be without hypocrisy (Romans 12.9).  Wisdom from above is without hypocrisy (James 3.17).