“The five Lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Chivites who dwell in Mount Lebanon — from Mount Ba’al-Chermon as far as Lebo-Chamath. They were for the training of Israel to know whether they would obey the commands of Yahweh which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.”
To us, this repetition might seem redundant. To others, they may justify the repetition due to the ancient world being predominantly an oral culture. Yet, let us also not lose sight of the fact that these words are also recorded for us…we who need the reminder that God expects and even demands obedience from us. He expects that we be obedient to His commands that have been handed down through the generations.
The reality is that our corporate memories are as short as these ancient Israelites. It is kind of sad, isn’t it? As a result, the Israelites are surrounded by pagans and live with pagans in their midst. As a result, the church in America today is also surrounded by pagans and we have pagans again in our midst. How little times change because how little the sinful heart of man changes. Thus, we need the same reminders.
“Now I reveal to you, brothers, the gospel which I preached to you, and which you received, and in which you have stood,” (1 Corinthians 15:1)
As Paul is bringing this letter to a close, he closes by putting before the Corinthian church both the hope that they have (resurrection) and the reason for that hope (the resurrection of Christ). Do understand that when Paul says that he is “revealing” these things, or making them known, that this is no new information for the Corinthians. The death and resurrection of Christ is the single-most important aspect of the gospel and was at the heart of Paul’s preaching. Yet, in light of the church’s problems, it is very appropriate for him to remind them of these things—reminding them to put first things first.
One of the things that you will find in the New Testament model for preaching and teaching is that when there are problems within churches, the Apostles taught doctrine. How doctrinal teaching is lacking in our churches today! People often think of doctrine as something that is dull and lifeless, and that impression could not be further from the truth. Doctrine is rich with truth and it is doctrine that allows us to live out our lives faithfully in this world. Doctrine is the rudder of the church, without it we will drift to and fro without direction. Doctrine keeps us from drifting into the shallow reefs of error.
Thus it is important that we always keep these things before us, but more importantly, it is important that we stand upon these things. Paul reminds the Corinthians that they did stand on those teachings at one point, but given that they have drifted into problems, the implication is that they are no longer standing firmly on the doctrines, which Paul preached.
And this doctrine, which Paul is reminding them of, is the heart of all doctrines. Apart from the death and resurrection of Christ, we can have no hope. There would be nothing for us but sin and condemnation. In Christ, there is life and hope. Loved ones, keep this doctrine before you and ground your hope in it. In Christ, there is life. Keep that before you always.