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Q&A @ KCRC – on Ham & Canaan; spare the rod; and tongues

There are a couple of questions that were submitted quite some weeks ago.
Growing roots, by now, on my desk.  And begging for a stab at an answer.
Along with one that came in after Sunday.
So….. here we go!
1.  In Gen 10:6 we read that Ham had four sons.  Yet in Genesis 9:25 Noah curses Canaan, Ham’s youngest.  Were only 1/4 of Ham’s descendants cursed?
Well, now – you’ve hit on one of the passages of Scripture that’s been the subject of debate for hundreds of years.
Why, exactly, does Noah curse Canaan instead of Ham?
Why only that one of the four boys?
And the answer is…… ready?…….. We don’t know.
Oh, there’s been lots of speculation.  But at the end of the day, we just don’t know.
It’s one of those very densely compacted stories in Scripture.  Just the basic outline is told to us.
Was it a curse that was prophetic in nature – with Noah seeing that Canaan and his descendants would take on the worst of their father Ham’s characteristics?
Had Canaan participated, somehow, with Ham in dishonoring Noah?
Some bible scholars write L-O-N-G essays attempting to explain it all.
And, sometimes, the longer the essay on a complex text, the more suspicious you ought to be.
At the end of the day, we simply don’t know.
Just this – for some reason of sin and corruption, there was a curse.  And a sub-group humanity subjected to a slavery.
That’s all we know for certain.
Sorry, wish I could tell you more.  But it would all be “perhaps” and “maybe.”  No more.
2.  “Spare the rod and spoil the child” – where’s that from? What is the “rod”?  What impression might this leave to people checking out the Christian faith?
That exact quote itself is not found in Scripture.  It is a take-off from Proverbs 13:24, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.”
We may immediately have pictures of beatings with sticks.  But wait!
Where else do you recall reading about a “rod”?
What VERY famous Psalm – which is often recited in hard times?
Psalm 23:4, of course.  “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
How do you derive comfort from a beating?
So, “rod” in Hebrew is “shabat.”  Which is the stick used by shepherd.
Sometimes they threw it beyond a wandering sheep – sending it scurrying back to the flock.
Sometimes it was used to ward off wild animals wanting to attack the sheep.
Sometimes it was used to examine the fleece, checking the health of the sheep.
All of which is way different than something flailed to give sheep a whumping.
Sheep were cared for, guided, and kept in line by the rod.
Which gave them comfort.
This text, then, is not proof that the Bible supports or demands corporal punishment.
Rather, it is a call for loving, firm, consistent discipline.
Such discipline can involve correcting, punishing, admonishing, building up, instructing.
And – like the shepherd using the rod – all in loving and appropriate ways.
And THAT will provide security and comfort to children.
That’s the heart of the proverb.
3.  What does “speaking in tongues” mean?  And how do we know when someone is speaking in tongues?
     Speaking in tongues is one of the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to the Church to bless believers, encourage those who struggle, and deepen connections between the spirit of a Christian and the  Spirit of Jesus.  It is spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12, 13 & 14.  We see an example of it in the story of Pentecost in Acts 2.  The gift of tongues can show itself in different ways – but all have the believer speaking in a language that is not her own native tongue, generally not being aware of the content of what  she is saying.  In Acts 2 the miracle showed in languages that others could understand.  In 1 Corinthians 14:2 & 19 Paul is speaking of a form of the gift which is not naturally understood by people, but requires an accompanying gift of Interpretation – that is, someone to whom the Spirit gives an understanding of what is being said.
        Not every believer receives this gift (1 Corinthians 12:30).  It is a good gift, one for which Paul gives thanks (1 Cor 14:18) and which he uses.  It is not less, nor is it more, than many other gifts that the Spirit gives.  When it is used, like all other gifts, the believer who has it remains in control of it and uses in prayerfully in ways that are edifying and upbuilding to the Body of Christ.
        I give thanks for believers who have that gift, and through whom they and others find encouragement.  And I also give thanks that the days are gone when Reformed churches would deny the active presence of this gift, saying it belonged only to the days of the Apostles.  Let us not say that of ANY of the good gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Instead, let’s be watching for gifts He gives and then encourage & use them faithfully and actively in ways that bring attention and honor to Jesus.
Hey, thanks for the questions.
SO glad that we can be in a community where we can share and discuss and wonder together.
And where we can trust the Spirit of Christ to guide and grow our minds into deeper truth and obedience.

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