Standing in the Elizabeth Street Mall on a Friday lunch time is a different crowd to Tuesday. People are more laid back and there is less of the mid-week rush to get lunch and back to work. This week was my second Friday outreach for the year and it is a productive time mostly. The team is smaller, usually with me and only one or two others able to come, but God as always brings people for us to minister to.
This week I preached twice and we engaged people on issues raised with the preaching but I didn't have the bible table. This approach allowed me to preach even if there is no-one to mind the bible table but did reduce our presence in the mall when there was no preaching happening.
The first conversation of the day was with Mr S. my regular heckler. Mr S. and I have been discussing the rightness or wrongness of God's judgement of Jericho for some time now. Mr S. is horrified at the slaughter of the people of Jericho and in particular the women and children of that city. The fact that this was commanded by God if anything increases his horror. In many ways this event is something akin to the acts of ISIS or other Islamic massacres that have occurred in recent days.
I have been telling him for some time that God has the right to give and take life and to judge sinful mankind. The deaths of people at Jericho are only a small picture of what God does on any given day throughout the world. People die every day due to sin in the world. Ultimately the issue that Samuel has with Jericho is the same of most atheists and skeptics, that these deaths overtly show God's right to judge mankind. The right to judge moral matters skeptics want to keep for themselves, along with the right to judge God's actions as good or evil. This shows up in Mr S.'s and most skeptics commitment to abortion rights. These folk accuse God of evil on many points for death and suffering in the world and then assume they have the right to determine when a baby is a human and when it is only a "foetus" or "embryo". Before the time determined by them in their limited wisdom it is perfectly acceptable to end any life as long as a good justification can be found and it is a benefit to the woman involved. This hypocrisy shows clearly the moral bankruptcy of morality without God as centre, inevitably people take for themselves authority over the lives of others that is not their's to take.
The rest of the day was also quite interesting, the first time I preached the gospel a small number of people gathered and listened as I preached and afterwards I was able to discuss things further with a couple of people. Praise God the gospel is going out in Hobart and He is preparing hearts here!
The second time I preached I had a number of hecklers. One of these was a young man who I have spoken to before about Christ. He was rejecting Jesus then and apparently little has changed. He began by coming to try and taunt me with some sexual comments and attacks. This increased when I began to speak on the issue of sex and the horribleness of perversion and promiscuity. I pointed to the fact that God calls us to chastity or marriage as the only two good options for sex. All other sexual expression is a perversion of the good and holy thing that God has given us in sex. I urged people not only to purity but also to repent of their sexual sin and put their trust in Jesus. After a short period this became too much for this young man and he decided to try and intimidate me into silence. Trying to find an excuse to use he asked me what I thought of Arabs (meaning Muslims), I responded that there are many wonderful Arabs and they make wonderful Christians. He then accused me of hating Arabs and being a racist, and after a little bit of this and intimidating me with one of his mates he wondered off again mouthing off about Christians.
Praise God this brought in a crowd of people to who I could share the wonderful love of God for all people regardless of their skin colour. I called people to follow Jesus who loves so dearly that he died to save sinners. I urged people to give up their other loyalties and trust in Jesus only.
After this there were also a number of other hecklers and a bit of a question and answer time. Many of them left at the end thanking me for the chance to talk and ask questions.
Praise God that His word goes forth!