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Sermon 7/29/07
Smelly and Sniffy - Deuteronomy 18:15

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Smelly and Sniffy

The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear" (Deuteronomy 18:15)

Has it occurred to you that our children are given to us partly for the reason that they are like mirrors? – we are supposed to see ourselves in them. Many animals are in the world for a similar purpose. God intends we will understand aspects of ourselves through them. It is interesting to recognize that, in the sight of God, our sins of gossip, pride, and dishonesty are very much like dogs incessantly barking when someone is trying to sleep. Mankind has an interesting relationship with the animal kingdom, and you’ll have to decide for yourself whether we are the nice ones, the sane ones, or if they are better off than we are. As to animals, we eat them, wear them, though some have objected to both of those practices, and we also try to seek companionship from them.

Animals occasionally try to eat us, as well. They don’t try to wear us, as far as I know, but some of them do attempt to be friends with us, with varying degrees of success. We might respond affectionately in return, but we give a conditional love – they’re OK as long as they do their business outside and not on our floors. They’re not supposed to get up on our tables and eat our food. We also like it when our pets do well in places like dog obedience training schools and learn to respond to basic commands. We want things – our way.

Dogs, cats and other creatures are actually alien races of beings, found right here on earth with us. We don’t have to look into outer space to imagine aliens – they’re here all the time. They also communicate quite well, but their type of communication is often below the radar of our understanding. For instance, we know dogs wag their tails as a sign that they are thinking about liking you, with the added meaning of “be nice to me.” You may also have seen that dogs “sniff” often when they’re involved in aggressive play. They may growl, snarl and bump each other a lot, but the intermittent sniffs are a reminder that all is not as serious as it sounds. “Sniff” means, “We’re actually only playing – don’t hurt me.

Dogs also smell; and this is more than just needing a bath! Their sense of smell is so good that they actually communicate through smelling one another. If a squirrel, bird or some other creature dies in your back yard, your dog is likely to roll repeatedly on the carcass. The reason they do this is a form of communication. It’s also why they roll around in smelly mud. They not only like the feeling of the mud, but they also want to tell their friends where they have been. They do this by placing as many smells as possible on their dog-hair and then encountering a lot of dog friends and “telling” them in detail about their smelly adventures.

It works for dogs because they have a sense of smell that is at least one hundred times greater than ours. They communicate with each other effectively through odors. It doesn’t work for us because we are deficient in the area of appreciating the wonder of smelly dogs. We are surprised when they keep on rolling over stinky things and they are amazed that we keep on giving them baths every time they are ready to “talk.” And so they can be very intelligent and communicate well in animal terms, but they may also flunk human-operated dog obedience training classes, causing us to wish they were more “intelligent.” They feel the same way about us.

Animals also have their own names, unknown to us, and these names can be related to their abilities, just like ours often are. You may have a name for your dog, like “Rex” or “Lassie,” but he or she may actually think of themselves as someone like “Smelly,” if they are especially articulate at communicating through odors with other dogs, or “Sniffy,” if they are very adept at understanding what is being “said.” If “Smelly” and “Sniffy” manage to get together and share in typical dog language, they might agree at the frustration of understanding human words and purposes, but they also might be very popular with other dogs because they are so utterly gifted in the wonder of basic communication, through wiggling, certain barks and growls, and smells.

And it’s not so different from us in the human race. We are gifted in communication. We admire those who speak and write effectively. We feel superior about our abilities, and look down on other creatures because we feel they do not communicate as well as we do.

But here’s the problem. We’re not as good at communicating as we think we are. For one thing, we are very limited in understanding how animals "talk." A couple of weeks ago, we were in Alaska, staring at fresh claw marks on trees. The bears who made them sent the clear message, “This is MY territory; look at how high I can reach up with my claws. Beware! If you challenge my authority, I will claw YOU as well.

That’s clear, isn’t it? And there’s another important kind of language we aren’t good at – The words that come from God. For instance, our Scripture for today contains words written about thirty-five hundred years ago by the prophet Moses. Some understand the language of heaven better than others do and Moses was especially gifted. He got a good grade in God’s obedience training school, saying, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear" (Deuteronomy 18:15)

That Scripture has been variously interpreted through the centuries because many are humanly gifted, but deficient in comprehending the actions and words of God. That’s why He repeats Himself and has so many parables, in both the Old and New Testaments of Scripture. We must hear simple things or we just don’t understand, and worse, we think we understand, but we don’t, becoming puzzled and angry when scolded for being wrong. Smelly and Sniffy the dogs would understand our frustration.

Moses spoke of both our need and God’s solution for us, when he said, “God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren.” This was not “THE prophets” that Moses spoke about, but “A Prophet;” Someone different from anyone who has ever lived, and He would be given to the world “from (the) brethren” of Israel. He would be a Jew named Jesus, who is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. How do we know this? By prayerfully looking to another “prophet,” a man who had learned to understand something of the language of God - Peter the Apostle. In Acts 3:22, he quoted today’s Scripture, applying it directly to Jesus Christ. The Scripture concludes, “HIM you shall HEAR.” Do you “hear” the words of God today? He is calling you to trust in the Lord, God's Son, who IS the "Prophet," Priest, King and Friend you have always longed for, deep inside. Do you have trouble "seeing" this? He will give you His Holy Spirit and you will begin to understand.

Lord Jesus, I trust in You now. Help me to understand. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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