1 Kings 19:1-13 & Matthew 16:13-19
‘You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes’
In the gospel of John in chapter nine, Jesus heals a man blind from birth. His eyes are opened as said in the title of this sermon.
Jesus also says that the blind will see but sometimes those with eyes can become blind.
In this we hear that God is opening new things for us – but as we often continue to follow the old ways, thought, patterns – we can be closed off from seeing what God is pointing us towards.
In previous weeks we have spoken about new things rising from the Old (think to the discussion about Jamberoo Chapel Soundspace). We have looked at the connections between the old and the new – through understanding context, geography, culture, agriculture and even plant life, to find new and deeper meanings in the Scriptures.
We’ve also looked at the dangers of putting new wine in old wine skins (Matthew 9:14-17) when we need to make a break with the old or move into a new paradigm.
Today is our final sermon in the New for Old series and we are going to look at how our eyes can be opened and vision made clearer by looking at rhythm, pattern and repetition through the scriptures.
It is also timely that in the calendar of the church celebrations, we acknowledge Transfiguration Sunday. A day when Jesus stands on the ‘mountain’ with the disciples. In a moment of new clarity and new vision, Jesus appears as the dazzling Christ with Elijah and Moses (both of whom, in previous centuries, had stood on Mt Sinai or Mt Horeb as it is called in the Old Testament).
Elijah meets God on this mountain as does Moses and in the transfiguration the cycle is complete with Christ standing alongside them again on a mountain (is it also Horeb?)
The 1 Kings passages contains the famous lines that God was not in the powerful wind and the earthquake and fires that tear the mountains apart and shatter the rocks. God is in the gentle whisper.
A thousand or more years later Jesus is at Caesarea Philippi with the disciples – when he curiously says to Peter – ‘You are the rock on which I will build my Church.’ But rocks shatter and buildings fall and even old buildings crumble – especially in Caesarea Philippi – which is in an earthquake zone.
Six years ago while travelling through Israel we went to Caesarea Philippi in the far north of the country, not that far from the Golan Heights. We went to (Banias) Panias Falls, where the Jordan begins as an underground spring.
There are pagan temples to the god Pan – set up by the Romans. This cult died out in the Sixth Century AD and the temple built into the cliff is in ruins.
Repetition of numbers gives enhanced meaning and emphasis also. It helps create rhythm as the instances of certain numbers increases throughout the scriptures.
In 1 Kings 19 Elijah has been on the run from Ahab and Jezebel for 40 days and 40 nights when he ends up at Mt. Horeb. As a number in Scripture – 40 is used to mark the beginning and ending, or ending and beginning of an epoch, a journey, a season, a stage, a ritual, or an event.
Elijah ends his running and begins his restoration.
The rain fell for 40 days and 40 nights in Genesis – to destroy the old earth and create a new one.
The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years before entering the Promised Land.
Moses sent out spies to explore the land of Canaan for 40 days (in Numbers 13).
Goliath challenged the Israelites for 40 days before David defeated him. Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai (Horeb) before receiving the Ten Commandments.
Several leaders in the Old Testament had power for a generation (considered to be 40 years) including Eli, Saul, David and Solomon.
Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before beginning his ministry. There were 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus and there are 40 days of Lent.
When we recognise these patterns and their significance – like we have done in so much of our study over these last five weeks, can we not see that what was old is new again.
Lord, Please open up our minds to help us to understand the Bible. Open our eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. Give us understanding so that we can know you better. Please give us spiritual wisdom and insight so that we might grow in our knowledge of you. Give us discernment to help us understand what we read.
The Bible says that the revelation of your words brings light and gives understanding to the inexperienced. Please reveal things to us as we read, and help us to learn and understand so that we can do what you say and obey with all of our heart.
Let your Holy Spirit guide us into the truth, reveal things to us from your Word, and explain spiritual truths to us. Help us to continually seek to find what is Old can be New again.
We ask this in your precious name.