Jun 27 2013
The Sadducees were the Jewish materialists of Jesus’ day. They rejected belief in life-after-death, resurrection, angels and other spirit beings (Acts 23:8). As far as they were concerned this was the only life there was and you needed to make the most of it. Knowing Jesus was the latest inform preacher drawing all the crowds they decided to challenge him in public with their latest argument which went like this: ‘Belief in resurrection contradicts Moses’ law which requires a man to marry the widow of his deceased brother. If a woman married two or more men, who would she belong to at the resurrection?’ This was obviously a challenging argument in those days, the Pharisees (who believed in resurrection) claimed the woman would belong to her first husband. But this was not very convincing, and I can see the Sadducees winking at each other in confidence while Jesus’ disciples looked at up at him in horror and dismay.
Materialists today often ask similar questions. A favourite goes like this: ‘If science can explain it, how can Christians say God did it?’ ♦ And of course they will site some examples: ‘People used to say God provides rain, but now science explains it through the laws of climatology. And people used to say God gave us children, but now science explains it through the laws of biology. So if science shows that it’s all natural, how can Christians say it’s God?’ And like with the Sadducees in Jesus time, today’s materialists often beam with confidence as they make this assertion while the followers of Jesus go “Oops, they have a point.” But Jesus gave the Sadducees an answer.
Jesus said, “You are in error because you do not know the scriptures.” Now how can Sadducees not know the scriptures? Well, the Sadducees only accepted the first five books of the Old Testament; the books of Moses. This part of the Old Testament does not speak about resurrection in an obvious way like other parts do. And this brings us to an important point: When we don’t have all of God’s revelation we cannot see the full picture.
Jesus went on to explain that people will not have husbands or wives in the next life, rather they will be like angels who do not marry or procreate. But the Sadducees main issue was not so much about what resurrection life was like, but whether there was resurrection at all. So Jesus turned to a part of scripture they accepted. The part where Moses (their favourite) was being called by God at the burning bush, and he said, “Have you not read what God said to you – I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Jesus’ point was that Abraham had already died when God spoke to Moses, but God used the present tense because he was still Abraham’s God, and Abraham still enjoyed a relationship with him. And this last point silenced the Sadducees. But Jesus was very clear as to why they were in error. It was because they did not have all of God’s revelation. They only accepted one part of it.
Materialists today make the same mistake. They say ‘We only accept what science can prove.’ But this limits their ability to see. God has not designed us to live by science alone. If you ask a scientist ‘Do you love your wife?’ He will probably say ‘Of course I do.’ And if you press him further and ask ‘How do you know?’ He will probably say ‘Well, I know in my heart.’ And if you object and say, ‘Well that’s not very scientific,’ I am sure he will reply ‘I don’t care, I still know it.’ There are some things we know that science can never know. And this is something all scientists know!
Spiritual things cannot be detected by science. Science cannot say whether there is or isn’t a God, it can only describe physical phenomena. We know God exists through other things like answered prayer, his presence coming upon us, his healing touch, the reaction of demons when God’s presence is near, and through prophecy in scripture – scripture has many prophetic statements and pictures that revealed who Jesus would be long before he arrived. A well known example is ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us)’ (Isaiah 7:14). This was written hundreds of years before Christ came. And there are many prophetic scriptures like it.
God did not design us to live by physical sight alone, but by spiritual sight too. Both must work together like a hand in a glove.
When materialists claim that something cannot be of God because it’s natural they are in error. God is not just God of the supernatural but the natural as well. We cannot say rain is not from God because the laws that govern climatology are from God. And we cannot say children are not from God because the laws that govern biology are from God. The laws of science are not created by scientists, they’re discovered by them. Most scientists admit that. The laws are out there in nature and that means there is a Law Maker. And this is God.
I believe Jesus would say to the materialists of today ‘You are in error because you don’t accept all the evidence; you choose science alone.’ Materialists are Sad-you-sees, they see sadly. But the followers of Jesus see gladly.
Other Illustrations used: When Atheists show a fist to Heaven | Energy to Matter | Pie & Cake Models | Atheistic Faith & Doubt
Closing Song: God I look to You – ‘Give me vision, to see just like you do’
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