September 24, 2023
the meaning of repetition
We often experience repeated expression of important things in our lives. When attending school, teachers repeat what is on the test. When I work in a hospital, they train staff once a year. The content is the same. If you look closely, it seems that it was a very important part of the environment of a hospital, so I think it was encouraged to explain it over and over again and over again. Parents also say over and over again what's important to their children. So sometimes children get annoyed. In other words, if it's repeated, we can see that it's a very important thing.
There are things that are repeated in the Bible. Sometimes, when I read the Four Gospels, I felt that Matthew, Mark, and Luke were very similar in the content of the gospel. However, if you think about it, I think that such a phenomenon occurred because of repeatedly recording important parts of the many things that Jesus did. It's been five years since I started a church here. Someone has been with me since the very beginning. And those of you who are quick-witted may have noticed that I implicitly repeat certain parts of my sermon. If I say it often and you listen to it often, it means it's something I'm interested in or something that I think is important.
The world was completely destroyed by the flood. Because everything is gone by the flood, recovery work will follow after the flood. If you were to rebuild, what would you do first? There will be a lot of work to be done. But what should be the top priority?
Would you like to start with the farm because you have to make ends meet? Do you want to build a school first since you need to learn? Noah, as we've seen, was the first to build an altar and worship. What would you have done first? Now in Korea and the United States, after the pandemic, many churches collapsed and became difficult. As if a huge flood swept through and devastated the mountain stream, the spiritual health of the churches collapsed and people's complacency about faith is felt. In Hebrews 10:24-25, there's this saying. "And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching. -- Hebrews 10:24-25 (CSB)" That's right. The Bible records that the closer Jesus comes back with power, the more people refuse to gather, and today's situation accurately represents it. Churches seem to have been devastated by the flood of the pandemic. It's time for someone to re-establish the spiritual order and rebuild the collapsed altar. Then what should I do?
God begins the work of reconstruction that has been devastated by floods. The words are reconstruction, and in fact, it's the same situation as reinvention. At this critical point, God speaks of the most important part of reinvention through Noah, a man of great faith. The message needed in this world, which God thinks is the most important, has reappeared in Genesis 9. What is it? It's the message that we read today, "God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. -- Genesis 9:1 (CSB)."
We can find that these same words were said in Genesis immediately after God created heaven and earth. You can find that God's most important messages are now being repeated at a time of creation and a time of post-flood reinvention. How surprising is this? We can accurately understand God's clear meaning toward us. That is to multiply and be fruitful. God wants us to be abundant. God doesn't want us to live in squalor and suffering, God wants us to be rich and prosperous. So why are we being squeezed? We check the price list every time we shop at the mart. I habitually choose the cheapest menu when I go to a restaurant. That means I'm being squeezed financially. We live in a world where only a few people can order freely without looking at the price in a restaurant. But God does not want us to live in such anxiety and concerns as we are squeezed by everything. God wants us to live in this world freely. It's not just in the financial area, it's in the existential part.
Many of the people who lived in the past had to live on the ghost's notice. They were worried that they would be underwhelmed by ghosts, and in severe cases, they did not even hesitate to offer personal sacrifices to soothe them. In other words, they were not free beings in a spiritual sense. There are so many people who still live in that situation. There is no freedom. It's spiritually suppressed. There are so many people who are being oppressed for financial reasons and who are being oppressed for physical, mental and emotional reasons. This is not the world God wants from us.
So why did the world become so squeezed? Have you ever seen a map of the world? I love looking at maps. But as anyone who has crossed the American continent knows, how big is the land? But there's so much more land in the world than the United States. I think all those lands would have been very fertile if there hadn't been flooding. For example, the Sahara Desert is barren now, but before the flood, it would have been a rich land because of its thick forest. But I personally think that the flood would have made it desert. In other words, God has already provided us with everything we can live without being squeezed. But the reason why we're currently being squeezed is because of sin.
Sin makes people lose their spiritual freedom. Sin always makes people feel superior or inferior due to racial discrimination. Sin makes people monopolize wealth with excessive greed, so a lot of things that everyone can share enough are actually going to some people. Sin destroys us, sin makes us squirm and sin makes us oppressed.
God's blessing came to this text today, but after that, God gives a very strange command. It means that every animals on the ground will fear people. And the reason for that is that people are now allowed to use animals for food. What we can infer from this phrase is that animals were not afraid of people before the flood. This is because the apex predators didn't eat the animals. But animals now have to be afraid of people. Because people had to hunt and use them for food.
So why did God order us to consume meat after the flood? We can see that there was some change before and after the flood, and we can infer that the biggest difference was that plants were not enough for people to be fruitful and multiply. Before the flood, people could thrive enough with plant-based food, but for some reason, after the flood, we can see that there was a problem with growing and thriving, which is God's command, only with plants. That's why God allowed us to supplement the missing nutrients through meat. In fact, meat also comes from animals that eventually get nutrients from plants, so the source is in plants. In the end, mankind is now not enough to gain through plants, and as a result, God has allowed meat.
So God gave us clear guidelines on meat. It's an order not to eat the blood. This is because blood symbolizes life. In particular, God allows only minimal slaughter to prohibit thoughtless meat consumption. So, in verse 5, he says this again. "5 And I will require a penalty for your lifeblood; I will require it from any animal and from any human; if someone murders a fellow human, I will require that person’s life. -- Genesis 9:5 (CSB)" In particular, God once again gave strict rules against murder, and he strictly defined it as an act of destroying the image of God. Through today's text, we can see well what God emphasizes. That is the richness and prosperity of life that God wants.
Dear brothers and sisters! Let us have freedom before God. We don't have money, don't we? When I started my church service, I faced a little bit of a vague situation. I've heard some people feel like they're helping myself individually and give me sympathy or say sorry for not helping me. I thought about it. Are they helping me? Or join in God's work? It's a very grateful situation if someone support me, but isn't that church or individual used by God after all? Aren't you joining the ministry not because you like me personally but because you agree with my vision and think it's about expanding the kingdom of God?
Our church supports some church planters. Some pastors feel so sorry to receive such a small donation. So that's what I say. We are not helping the pastor individually, but for the kingdom of God. Let's be rich before God. It is not rich because we have a lot of money, but because we have a spiritual strong reason. If you live for yourselves today, you can't have that strength and sense of pride. But if we live for God, we can have strength. Then we can be rich.