Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What It Doesn't Say

Working in the book of Nehemiah this morning reminds me of an all to familiar teaching or preaching tactic ... that of concentrating on what the text doesn't say.

This comes to mind because Nehemiah 4:1-3 records the mocking opposition of Sanballat and Tobiah against the Jews who were rebuilding the wall. Then vv. 4-5 record Nehemiah's prayer to God.

I heard a preacher once emphasizing the fact that Nehemiah did not respond to Sanballat and Tobiah, but instead turned directly to God in prayer. Therefore we should not respond to our enemies but turn directly to God.

The problem is that the text doesn't say that.

In preaching and teaching, we must realize that the text does not tell us everything that happened. Historical narrative is a selective process, where the author chooses to relate only those things which somehow help his point.

Did Nehemiah speak to Sanballat and Tobiah? I suspect he probably did. But I would not preach that he didn't. Because the text doesn't say that.


Anonymous said...

I find much of the debate about the OT interesting and much of it incorrect. The NT says in
1 Cor 10:6 and 11 that the purpose of the OT is for examples to us who live in this present day. That is the overriding factor. Christ did away with many OT laws or commands, but there are some He did not do away with such as dress. I don't find another clear statement to challenge this. It does change your thinking when you read it with this in mind.

Larry said...

I don't know that the example is the "overriding factor." It is a factor, but the overriding factor is to reveal God at work in human history.

Furthermore, Christ did away with all the OT Laws. The Bible makes no distinction between kinds of Laws. The Mosaic Law existed as a whole, and was not divisible. As Paul says in Gal 5, if you keep part of the Law, you must keep it all. Thus the laws on dress are the same as the laws on sacrifice or any other law, with respect to us today. We are not under any of it. The attempt by some to divide the OT Law into moral, civil, and ceremonial (or some such) has no merit in the Bible.

The "clear statement" is that we are no longer under Law.