SERMON SERIES | 24 JAN – 13 MAR 2016
In August of 2015 Buzzfeed published on online article humorously exposing the weirdness of many parts of the Christian Bible. If you’ve ever taken the time to read systematically through large parts of the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament, you’ll know that there’s a lot of strange stuff in there. At times the Bible appears to be immoral, at times it appears macabre, and at times it’s just downright ridiculous. What do we make of this? Isn’t this supposed to be a Holy Book that guides and regulates the entire Christian religion, and billions of lives around the world? Sure, there’s probably some good stuff in the Bible, but what do we do with all the weird and awkward stuff? Don’t these stories simply prove that the Bible can’t be trusted to give us an accurate account of God and his dealings in this world? These are tricky questions that need coherent answers. At Hope City, because we believe the Bible is God’s Word, we’re dedicating a 7 week sermon series to looking at some of the strangest passages in the entire Bible. All 7 passages that we’ll look at come from the original Buzzfeed article. With each one we’ll try and understand how something that weird got into the Bible, what it meant then, what it means for us now, and how these strange passages might actually have a profound effect upon our lives.
1. Bears and the Baldy Man (24 Jan)
Some children mock a bald man. He curses them, and two female bears come out of the woods, killing 42 of them. He continues on his journey. No one seems to think this is disproportionate.
2. Noah the Drunk (31 Jan)
Noah gets extremely drunk on wine from his vineyard and passes out naked outside his tent. One of his sons sees him and tells his brothers, who drag him into the tent and cover him up. Noah then curses and exiles his grandson, who hasn’t been mentioned so far, apparently for no reason whatsoever.
3. “Lobola-ectomy” (7 Feb)
David wants to marry Saul’s daughter Michal. Saul doesn’t want David to marry his daughter, so he demands as a bride price 100 foreskins of his enemies the Philistines, hoping that David will get killed fighting them. But instead, David goes and kills 200 Philistines, cuts off their foreskins, presents them to Saul, and marries Michal.
4. The Biggest Loser (14 Feb)
Ehud, an assassin, stabs a king called Eglon. Eglon is extremely fat, so the whole sword, up to the handle, is lost within his rolls of flab. Eglon dies in a bloody mess, and Ehud leaves without his sword.
5. “I Now Pronounce You Husband and Sister?” (21 Feb)
Abram’s wife Sarai is seriously good-looking, so Abram is worried that the Egyptians will kill him to steal her. He asks her to pretend that she’s his sister instead. Pharaoh takes her into his household and rewards Abram. But this annoys God, who punishes Pharaoh’s family with “serious diseases”.
6. Jesus Loses It! (6 March)
Jesus is hungry one day. He goes to grab a fig off a tree. The tree has no fruit, only leaves, so Jesus loses his rag and curses it. “May you never bear fruit again,” he says. The tree dies. His followers look surprised, so Jesus tells them that that’s nothing and he could totally make a mountain jump in the sea if he wanted to.
7. Fear Factor (13 March)
God tells Ezekiel that in memorial of the siege of Jerusalem, he needs to build a model of the city. Then he needs to lie down on his left side for 390 days, then his right side for 40 days. During this time he is only allowed to eat bread which he has baked over a fire of human faeces.