Michael Bray

Author of A Time To Kill

Imprecations and Sarcasms, 7 October, 1995

[The following is a transcription of the outline for a sermon by Michael Bray delivered at Reformation Lutheran Church in Bowie, Maryland.  Sermons for Reformation Lutheran Church were delivered alternating weeks by co-pastors Dr. Michael Colvin and Michael Bray from 1984 until the church was disbanded in Anno Domini 2000.  Over the those years the church met in various places for months in one place and then another: a local elementary school, a synagogue, and homes.   This is the first sermon to be formatted from the original outline and posted.  As time  and Providence permits, the rest will be posted.  Anyone desiring to expedite the process may send his bribe to the Bray household.  Zeit ist Geld, as the Germans put it (“Time is money”).  And “No such thing as free lunch,” as my dad often advise.)

Introduction

A. Did you read about the German butcher whose store had been vandalized by radical vegetarians?

The  W. Times  reported  on 20 May that vandals broke into his shop and perpetrated $21,800 in damages against his equipment.  They  wrote on his shop window: “Meat is Murder, Animal Killer.”   They broke into Matthias Groth’s apartment,  slashed his tires and make anonymous phone calls, saying “Yesterday your store, tomorrow you.”

Melanie Bujuk, 22, a poli sci student in Munich and member of  the animal rights group known as Animal Peace, said her group had nothing to do with the attack.  But she said that  attack was justified:

Any attack on the instruments used to kill or process animals is justified because animals’ lives are save through this action.  What is a broken window compared with the life of animal?  It’s terrible that the public is upset about a smashed-up store but not a dead animal.

B.  What do we say about this? It is bull shit.

Why?  Not because destruction of property is wrong, but because butchering  animals is a legitimate service.

Why?  Because God said so!  It is good for people to kill animals and eat them.  God calls this right and good.  He approves of it.  Therefore one who destroys  the property of another who is engaged in doing something right and good does  wrong.

On the other hand, as you have been made regularly aware, someone who kills innocent people displeases God and efforts to destroy the property of those who butcher humans – even if some peculiar people in China want to eat them – do not displease Him.  On the contrary, we are convinced He is well-pleased.  And we laud such deeds, therefore.

C. As the people of God, we are to love His justice – which is true justice.

How do we do that?

In the wake of the OJ murder trial we have been reminded that our system is designed with, perhaps, too much concern with avoiding the punishing of the innocent overagainst a concern with avoiding the escape of the wicked.  Is this not also a terrible thing?  We ought to be as grieved over the punishment of the innocent as we are over the escape of the guilty.

Our system is weighted in favor of the guilty.  Many more guilty go free  than innocent get punished.

D. How to we view God’s justice? Do we welcome it? Do we look for it with anticipation?

Assume for a moment that these things are judgments from God

  1. The harm befalling women who are using Norplant

           Law suits are piling up. (WT,  1 Oct, ‘95)

50,000 users have retained lawyers to sue.

Effects: headaches, weight gain, persistent menstrual bleeding, hair growth or loss, ovarian cysts, anemia and depression

2. Pensacola hurricane damage (Opal)

a. I remember the pronouncement of Regina Dinwiddie – a prophetic one –  when she yelled out in the courtroom that the blood of an innocent man was on the heads of  the court and the state of Florida.

Now there a lot of fools in the world who 1) don’t take God’s word   seriously, or 2) don’t believe that He brings judgment in the earth, or 3) don’t take the warnings of  His people seriously.

b. Take stock of  this hurricane.

*Two hurricanes within a year at the same spot.  It was 69 years ago  that Florida got two hurricanes in one year.

*But never anywhere in the history of hurricane recording has a    hurricane hit the same beach twice.

*Third costliest in U.S. History (1.8 Billion)

I. Appreciating God’s justice (Hating evil and loving the good: Rejoicing in justice)

A. Imprecations

Today’s text: Amos 8:5,7-8  “Here this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land. . .The Lord has sworn by the pride of  Jacob,  ‘Indeed I will never forget any of their deeds.  Because of this will not the land quake and everyone who dwells in it mourn?  Indeed, all of it will rise up like the Nile, and it will be tossed about, and subside like the Nile of Egypt.’”

  1. OT imprecations

a. Ps. 139:19 “Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God . . .”

b. Ps. 68:1 “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered . . .as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish before God.”

c. Ps. 58:6 “O God, shatter their teeth in their mouth; breathe out the  fangs of the young lions, O Lord. . . Let them be as a snail which melts away as it goes along, like  the woman which never see the sun.”

2. NT Imprecations

a. “If anyone  does not love the Lord, let him be accursed, Maranatha” (1 C. 16:22)

b. If anyone preaches another gospel let him be accursed (Gal.1:8)

c. Specific announcements of judgment to fall upon persons for          particular behavior

I) Dividing the body  (1 Cor. 3:17)

II) Departing from the faith after active participation in the life of the church (Heb. 6:4-6)

III) “Whoever causes one of  these little ones  . . . to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Mt. 18:6)

d. Gal. 5:12 “Would that those who are troubling you might go the whole way, and castrate themselves!” (NAB)

“As for these agitators, they had better go  and make eunuchs of themselves.”     (NEB)

 B. Sarcasm (irony); mockery of the wicked

A proper appreciation for imprecation and the justice of God’s judgments and the love of God’s judgments will help shape our attitudes and also help us recognize the sarcasm that we find coming from the mouths of holy men.  It is a zeal for God’s holiness which enable righteous mockery and sarcasm.

Ps. 2 :2-4  God  laughs at,  He scoffs at the nations who plot against His Anointed.

  1. 1 K. 18: 17 “And it came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said,  ‘Call out with a loud voice, for his is a god; either he is occupied or gone e, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be  awakened.’”
  2. Job to his counselors

After Zophar tells Job that he needs to repent and then his fears and  anxieties would leave, Job says:

         “Truly then you are the people, and with you wisdom will die!” (12:2)

[Unfortunately the stricter translations just fail to capture sarcasm]

      NEB : “No doubt you are perfect me and absolute wisdom is yours!”

 Mike B: “You guys are geniuses.  So glad you kindly shared your insights with me!”

3. Zech. 11:6-13

The shepherd in this little allegory is God and He is pasturing the flock the people of Israel – and He requests the proper wage for His services from the flock.  They give 30 pieces of silver.

And the Lord says to Zechariah:  “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent  price at which I was valued by them..”  And  the prophet of God,  Zechariah, threw the money contemptuously in the  temple (where a potter had some  work to do or  had come to bring some pottery products for the temple kitchens – cf. 14:20)

1 Cor. 4:8,10

Dealing with factions in the church;  big shots are leading and exalting themselves above Paul, the founder of  the church. as well as an apostle of Jesus (Read 6-10).

5. Mt. 23:32 to the Pharisees: Sin!  “Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers, you serpents, you brood of vipers. . . “

II. Balance with prayers for God’s mercy upon the wicked

A. Moses to God on behalf of nation God is about to destroy

  1. God says it’s about time for destroying the recalcitrants (Ex. 33:3)
  2. Moses intercedes (33:12f.)
  3.  Note that previously there was no earnest intercession after the golden calf affair: bitter water (32:20); mentions forgiveness, but willingness to die with the people under judgment (v. 32);  and God  restricted punishment to the ones who decided to stay in their sin (vv. 26,35).

B. Paul willing to be cut off from Christ so that they might be saved (Rom. 9:1-3)

III. Conclusion and Discussion

How shall we think about the heathen?
When do we think and pray imprecatorily about them?

When do we pray for God to show them mercy?

Does it depend upon our mood?

God’s particular leading of you in prayer?

Are there seasons?

Circumstances which evoke some types over others at a given moment?
BEAR IN MIND THE BASIC PRINCIPLE: LOVE JUSTICE

Love God’s holy law.
Be thankful for his mercy.

III. Conclusion

How shall we think about the heathen?

When do we  think and pray imprecatorily about them?

When do we pray for God to show them mercy?

Does it depend upon our mood?

God’s particular leading of  you in prayer?

Are there seasons?

Circumstances which evoke some types over others at a given moment?

BEAR IN MIND THE BASIC PRINCIPLE: LOVE JUSTICE

       Love God’s holy law.

Be thankful for his mercy

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