Participants: Clifford Goldstein
Series Code: CFTF
Program Code: CFTF000012
00:21 Hi, Cliff Goldstein here
00:24 And I want to welcome you to the Program
00:26 Contending for the Faith
00:28 A while back I ran into someone, a woman whom I hadn't seen
00:36 or quite frankly thought about for 35 years
00:42 Now you know you're getting older when you can
00:46 work in numbers like that. But anyway
00:49 I hadn't seen this woman and we caught up
00:52 and she had been married three times, divorced twice
01:00 and frankly from the hints in her voice and her body language
01:06 I wouldn't have been surprised if soon those two numbers
01:10 would've been tied. And she had four kids whom,
01:17 from what I could tell, sounded as troubled by life as she was.
01:22 You know for some reason it struck me so sad too
01:29 because I remembered her three and a half decades earlier
01:34 and I really doubt that, back then, as a young woman
01:40 dreaming about her future, dreaming about what her life
01:45 would be like, dreaming about who she would marry and so on.
01:51 I seriously, seriously doubt that three husbands
01:58 and a few drug addicted kids, including sadly one vampire
02:04 transsexual, I sincerely doubt they were part of the package.
02:11 They were part of what she was hoping for.
02:14 Yeah you know, life is full of surprises isn't it?
02:19 Umm our narratives, the story of our lives
02:25 they sometimes get written not in lyric poetry
02:31 But they get written sometimes in prose.
02:34 Stark gritty prose with adverbs and adjectives
02:40 That we wouldn't have appended to the nouns and verbs
02:44 of our lives if we were given that choice.
02:49 How many of us have faced things in life
02:54 that if we could've chosen we would not have chosen?
03:00 And yet, so often, so often it doesn't seem we have the choice.
03:07 Do we? Things are often chosen for us.
03:12 And now, heading toward the decrepit age of 58
03:21 I sometimes think about many in my generation
03:26 And you know sometimes I can hardly imagine how vast the gap
03:33 how vast the gap must be between what they had hoped for
03:38 in life and what they got. Oh who can get on the list
03:44 you know bad marriages, some- times more than one per person
03:49 or two. Shaky finances or poor health. Sick kids
03:55 Unexpected death, bitter disappointment,
03:59 failed friendships, addictions
04:02 The list goes on and on and on
04:05 And no doubt these are not the parts of the plot
04:09 that we would've scripted for ourselves
04:11 if we could've done it all over again. Right?
04:17 You know come with me to the Bible
04:21 Come with me to Genesis 4:1-2 Genesis 4:1-2
04:49 Now it's very interesting, the original Hebrew
04:56 in Genesis 4:1, you could read it literally
05:01 I have gained a man, the Lord. It's the word for Yahweh
05:08 the old YHWH, the sacred name.
05:12 And the commentators for millennia have been debating
05:16 for millennia the meaning of the text
05:18 It's very possible that she understood
05:23 this one to be the hoped for seed. The one promised in
05:28 Genesis 3:15. What's called the proto evangelicum
05:34 or the first gospel promise. Thus the point is
05:39 if that's truly what she meant there
05:42 then Eve sure had great hopes for that child
05:48 Yet even in their fallen world, in the fallen world
05:52 even with the pain and the bitterness of being the
05:56 only humans to have ever known the unfallen world
06:01 I have no doubt that whatever plans they had for the future
06:05 whatever their hopes, whatever their dreams
06:08 whatever specially for their children
06:11 I have no doubt that this was not part of it.
06:15 And Genesis 4:8, and Cain talked with Abel his brother
06:21 And it came to pass that when they were in the field
06:25 that Cain rose up against his brother Abel and slew him.
06:31 I mean can you imagine that? Can you imagine?
06:35 Talk about the disappointment. Talk about life throwing a curve
06:42 And what they did expect. Or look at this.
06:49 Exodus 2:21. And Moses was content to dwell with the man.
06:55 And he gave Moses, Zipporah his daughter.
07:00 So Moses, basically a fugitive for forty years
07:05 marries the daughter of this priest of Midian
07:08 And they're wandering in the desert for forty years
07:12 having to eat only manna. A group of people
07:16 who weren't even their own. Hardly sounds like anyone's
07:19 dream life does it? Then there were even more problems.
07:25 We know from Numbers 12:1. And Miriam and Aaron spoke against
07:32 because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married
07:36 For he had married an Ethiopian woman.
07:41 So She marries into a family that doesn't even like her.
07:47 And I like this quote here from Ellen White
07:50 "Yielding to the spirit of dissatisfaction
07:53 Miriam found cause for complaint
07:56 in the events that God had especially overruled
07:59 The marriage of Moses had been displeasing to her
08:03 That he should choose a woman of another nation
08:06 instead of taking a wife from among the Hebrews
08:08 was an offense to her family and national pride.
08:12 Zipporah was treated with ill disguised contempt"
08:17 Now I don't really know how much Zipporah knew of Moses
08:24 his background, whatever, when she married him.
08:28 But somehow I don't have a problem
08:31 thinking that whatever she envisioned for herself
08:34 and for her married life, this wasn't it.
08:38 ok, let's go on. What about the story of Leah?
08:45 ok, with the story of Leah. Now you know the story.
08:49 I've got the text here. Laban had two daughters
08:51 The older was Leah and the name of the younger was Rachel
08:56 and you know the story. Jacob wanted one, he wanted Rachel
09:03 and not Leah and so on. And he worked all those years
09:07 for her and then the wedding night comes
09:09 and the father slips in Leah instead of Rachel
09:13 and so on and so forth. And then he wakes up
09:16 and sees he was with the wrong woman
09:17 and so he works for seven more years and he finally gets Rachel
09:22 I mean, come on talk about a marriage made in heaven.
09:26 Ok you know the rest of the story,
09:29 what happens after Laban got caught
09:31 You know, so Jacob goes and he marries Rachel as well.
09:38 So there's Leah. I don't think Leah's life
09:44 turned out to be what she, or what any young woman
09:49 would've wanted. do you?
09:51 It hardly sounds like a loving happy home
09:55 And certainly her marriage wasn't anything
09:59 I imagine she ever dreamt it would be.
10:03 But then again life has a way of doing that to us. Doesn't it?
10:08 And the youthful Jeremiah. I think of the youthful Jeremiah
10:14 He came from a patrician family
10:18 A priestly family, a priestly caste I believe
10:22 or was he a Benjaminite? I can't remember, but
10:24 All I know was he came from upper crust and so on.
10:28 And yet, whatever his hopes and ambitions
10:32 They certainly didn't include being railed against
10:36 castigated and deemed a traitor by his own nation.
10:40 Here's a small taste of what this man was feeling
10:46 Lamentations. Look O Lord and consider
10:51 for I am despised. Is it nothing to you?
10:54 And all who pass by look around and see
10:58 Is there any suffering like my suffering
11:00 that was inflicted upon me. That the Lord has brought on me
11:05 in the day of his fierce anger
11:07 From on high he sent fire. Set it down into my bones
11:12 He spread a net for my feet and turned me back
11:16 He made me desolate, faint all the day long
11:21 My sins have been bound into a yoke. By His hands they were
11:26 woven together. They have come upon my neck
11:30 and the Lord has sapped my strength.
11:32 He has handed me over to those I cannot withstand.
11:37 I mean, who? Who would want this for their life
11:42 if they could choose? I guarantee you
11:46 this is not the life that Jeremiah wanted for himself
11:51 And don't you think David and Bathsheba
11:56 would've preferred a different narrative?
11:59 than ultimately the one that unfolded?
12:03 I have no doubt Uriah, Bathsheba's husband
12:07 would've wanted a different marriage, a different narrative.
12:11 Whatever he imagined as a young man
12:14 and when he saw the beautiful young Bathsheba
12:17 and took her for his wife, what- ever he would've dreamed about
12:21 and hoped for, I'm sure it didn't conclude
12:25 being set up by the king he faithfully served
12:29 so the king could cover up the affair he had
12:32 when he slept with Uriah's wife and then had him killed.
12:38 had him killed to help cover the whole thing up.
12:42 Again, I don't know anything in Uriah's mind
12:45 But whatever his hopes and dreams were
12:48 I know they didn't include that.
12:52 And of course Job, Job. The story of Job.
12:59 One day when Job's sons and daughters were feasting
13:03 and drinking wine at the older brother's house
13:06 a messenger came to Job and said
13:08 the oxen were plowing, the donkeys were grazing
13:12 and the Sabeans took them off with the sword.
13:14 And then later on he gets over that
13:17 Another servant comes and tells him that fire from God
13:21 fell out of the sky and wiped out all his sheep
13:26 and his servants and so on.
13:28 And then he barely got over that and another servant
13:31 comes to him and says, your sons and daughters were feasting
13:35 and drinking wine at the eldest brother's house
13:38 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert
13:42 and struck the four corners of the house.
13:45 It collapsed on them and they are dead.
13:49 And I am the only one who has escaped to tell you.
13:53 Whoo! And as we know it got a whole lot worse for Job
14:00 before it got any better.
14:03 You think that Job, young Job dreaming about his future
14:08 his life, his family, what it would be like
14:12 You think he expected something like this?
14:15 You think this is something that he wanted?
14:18 Talk about nasty unexpected curves.
14:21 Talk about a gap. A gap between what you hoped for
14:27 and dreamed about and what you got.
14:31 Whoo! And then John the Baptist
14:35 What about John? I'm sure from a relatively young age
14:41 John knew he was gonna have a hard life.
14:46 ok? You know I knew it was not gonna be hard
14:50 and it wasn't gonna be every thing he expected
14:54 But it wasn't rocket science, it wouldn't take rocket science
15:00 to imagine whatever he dreamed about
15:02 Those dreams didn't include what he faced.
15:07 I mean come on, first of all it was bad enough
15:12 Gettin his carcass thrown in a prison
15:15 I mean that would've been bad enough
15:17 But meanwhile he's sitting there rotting in jail
15:21 while Jesus is out there doing all these miracles.
15:25 That had to have been tough!
15:27 Why is he doing all these things I can imagine John thinking.
15:31 And I am still rotting here.
15:33 Somehow I don't think it was supposed to work that way.
15:37 Was it? I can imagine John thinkin about that.
15:42 But hey, what happens next?
15:45 We know from Mark 6, on his birthday, Herod gave a banquet
15:53 for his high officials and military commanders
15:56 and the leading men of Galilee.
16:00 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced
16:03 she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.
16:06 The King said to the girl, look how cheap this gets
16:10 The king said to the girl, ask me for anything you want
16:14 and I'll give it to you. And he promised her with an oath
16:18 Whatever you ask I will give up to half of my kingdom
16:23 She went out and said to the mother 'What shall I ask for'?
16:29 The head of John the Baptist she answered.
16:33 At once the girl hurried in to the King with the request.
16:37 I want you to give me right now
16:39 the head of John the Baptist on a platter.
16:43 The King was greatly distressed.
16:46 But because of his oath and his dinner guests
16:50 he did not want to refuse her.
16:52 So he immediately sent an executioner
16:56 with orders to bring John's head
16:59 The man went, beheaded John in the prison
17:03 and brought back his head on a platter.
17:06 He presented it to the girl and she gave it to her mother.
17:12 Ugh! Again look, how cheap! How cheap this is!
17:17 Not exactly the life, and not exactly the death
17:22 that anyone would've wished for themselves.
17:25 Don't you think? Yeah life is full of surprises.
17:31 And often they're not good surprises
17:36 You know I've said for years I'm so glad
17:41 that God doesn't show us the future.
17:43 Sure we know the ultimate future
17:46 We know what has been revealed.
17:49 But our own immediate future, or what's gonna happen in our life
17:54 I am so glad we don't see that because I can't imagine
18:00 how discouraging it would be for an awful lot of us.
18:05 And then what about the Pharisee
18:09 Saul of Tarsus. No doubt a bril- liant and ambitious young man
18:15 The cream of society. A man who was apparently moving up
18:20 the ranks and no doubt probably was gonna have a great future.
18:25 And I'm sure he spent plenty of time dwelling on that future.
18:30 And what he hoped he would do and what he would accomplish
18:33 in his life as a spiritual leader among his own people.
18:39 As I said, I'm glad we don't know the future.
18:43 coz I doubt though as John the Baptist was anticipating
18:48 the future, I mean as Paul was anticipating the future
18:54 that this is what Paul had in mind.
18:57 Five times I received from the Jews 40 lashes minus one
19:03 Three times I was beaten with rods
19:06 Once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked
19:10 I spent a day and night in the open sea
19:13 I have been constantly on the move,
19:15 I've been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits
19:19 in danger from my own countrymen in danger from gentiles
19:24 in danger in the city, in danger in the country
19:27 in danger at sea and in danger from false brothers
19:31 I have labored and toiled and often gone without sleep
19:35 I have known hunger and thirst and often gone without food.
19:41 I have been cold and naked and beside everything else
19:45 I face the daily pressure of my concern for the churches.
19:51 Yeah things don't necessarily turn out for us
19:58 as we would've expected, as we had hoped
20:02 Of course, sometimes they do.
20:05 Sometimes they turn out even better than what we've hoped for
20:09 But again, as I look around, I look around
20:16 at many of my generations in the church outside the church
20:20 it doesn't make a difference. And I can't help but think
20:25 of the gap. The vast gap between what they had dreamed
20:32 dreamt, and hoped their life would be
20:35 and what that life ultimately turned out to be.
20:40 You know I remember one time, I had thought about this before
20:45 I remember one time years ago, I was visiting the Amsterdam Zoo
20:52 and over in Europe, I still don't get used to this
20:55 you gotta pay to use the bathroom there.
20:56 And I go to use the bathroom in the Amsterdam Zoo
21:01 and there was a woman there, an older woman in schmatta
21:07 I guess I don't know, that's a Yiddish word
21:09 I don't know, like a dirty little dress or something
21:13 I don't know. Schmatta. You learned a new word,
21:15 a Yiddish word. And she's sitting there at the table
21:19 She's got a cigar box full of change
21:22 And her job is you pay the woman
21:25 And I remember afterwards I wrote a poem about her
21:29 And I just envisioned her as a young woman
21:33 whatever her hopes and her dreams were
21:37 And I contrasted that because now she's here this old woman
21:43 sitting in front of a, outside of a smelly toilet
21:48 with a cigar box full of change Again, talk about a gap
21:53 The gap between what you might have envisioned for your life
21:58 and what life ultimately gave you.
22:02 But then what about Jesus though
22:06 What about how his life turned out
22:09 You know of course on one level Jesus was "the lamb slain
22:14 from the foundation of the
22:18 Of course Jesus was to come to die.
22:22 It was the whole purpose of the plan of salvation
22:26 Jesus was to come and die. That was the whole plan of the gospel
22:32 He had to die. He had to give his life for us.
22:36 He gave his life because He was the only one
22:41 who could make atonement. We are sinners.
22:45 We have violated the law of God. If you heard my previous talk
22:49 that I gave called the mathematics of salvation
22:53 You'll know we do not have what's needed for salvation
22:58 We don't have the right record
22:59 We haven't kept God's law good enough. Only Jesus did.
23:05 And the whole plan of salvation is settled on the idea that
23:10 Jesus would come. He would live a perfect life
23:14 He would die as a substitute for us.
23:19 He would pay the penalty for our sins.
23:22 And His perfect life would be credited to us.
23:27 And this is the great hope of the gospel.
23:33 You know I've said this before and I'll say it again
23:37 I know that in the end if I'm not saved
23:43 regardless of what Jesus does in me
23:46 regardless of the great changes that Jesus has done in me
23:50 and believe me, if you woulda knew what you wanted to know me
23:55 before I became a believer, some people find me intolerable
23:58 enough now after 34 years
24:01 you won't imagine what I woulda been like before I knew the Lord
24:04 But I'm sure of one thing, that in the end
24:09 if I'm not saved by a right- eousness outside of me
24:14 a righteousness in place of me a righteousness covering me
24:19 then folks if I'm not saved by that then
24:21 you could stand on that wall at the end of the millennium
24:25 and you can wave down because I know I'm not going to be there
24:31 So there's no question Jesus came and died for us
24:35 That was the point. And the Bible also says
24:39 that Jesus had a divine human nature
24:43 Don't ask me to explain that
24:45 I don't understand how you explain that
24:48 Please, I don't know how a can opener works
24:51 much less I could understand the divine human nature of Jesus.
24:56 He was fully God and fully man
25:00 Let's concentrate for a moment on the human side.
25:06 His humanity. The side of Jesus that in Gethsemane
25:11 that cried out, My Father if it be possible
25:14 Let this cup pass from me. Ok
25:36 Of course not, of course not!
25:40 And that was the side of Jesus crying out
25:46 his human side crying out for something different
25:50 between what anybody would hope for in life
25:53 and what life gave him, gave him instead.
25:58 Now I think I'm stating the obvious here
26:02 Life can and does do us all dirty ok?
26:08 But we shouldn't be surprised, should we?
26:12 I mean after all look at what the Bible teaches
26:16 Look at what all these faithful people went through
26:19 You've all read Hebrews 11 and it talks about these people
26:22 that had trials and scourgings and mocking
26:25 They were sawn asunder they were beaten, they were driven away
26:29 and on and on. These were God's faithful people
26:32 And if God's faithful ones faced this, what about us?
26:39 who sometimes, let's face it,
26:42 are not always so faithful, are we?
26:45 Notice too in some of the people I mentioned earlier
26:52 some of them were victims of wrong choices they made
26:59 and some of them were victims of choices other people made.
27:03 But that's just how life is in a fallen world.
27:07 But that's what we have to remember. This is a fallen world
27:11 And it's a world that's not destined to last forever.
27:15 ok, the world is fading away. Thus we shouldn't be surprised
27:20 at all the unfair, unjust things we face
27:24 You expect what in a fallen world? Paradise?
27:28 Eden's long long gone folks
27:32 But listen carefully because this is how I wanna end it
27:38 Thanks to Jesus we have this hope. It's all gonna be alright
27:44 And when it's over, when Jesus does come back
27:49 and this is all over and done
27:52 then the gap, the gap between what our lives are now
27:57 and what they will be like then
28:01 will be infinitely, infinitely greater
28:05 than the terrible gap between what you had hoped for
28:08 when we were young and what we got instead.