Summary: This sermon was written during African American History month and deals with the need to see ourselves as Christians before being anything else.
Who’s Really Number One
Why do we celebrate African American History? Because it reveals the workings of God in a group of people whom God has loved and cared for from the beginning. History is important, because it gives us a sense of pride and accomplishment in knowing who we are, where we came from, and what God did for us. History can make us want to chant, God has been on our side and we are number one.
There is an evil dark side to the push to become number one. It’s one thing when a team chants we’re number one and goes to prove it on a basketball court. It’s another thing when a race, or ethnic group begins to chant the same thing. On the basketball court, the players shake hands at the end of the game and everybody goes home. When a race or ethnic group demonstrates it is number one, there are a bunch of dead bodies lying around, unjust laws set up, and a whole group of people made slaves and servants of the group in power.
As African Americans, our history is also as old as the Bible itself. There were Africans throughout the Bible. Nimrod the great hunter was African. Moses’s wife when he left Egypt was African. She was from Ethiopia. When the children of Israel left Egypt, all of them were Africans because if you stay on in a continent for 430 years, you are a child of that continent. When people are close to each other in terms of proximity, they marry each other.
We forget that all the Egyptian Pharoahs were African, and the pictures and statutes they left behind indicate many were Black Africans. . Ebed-Melech was a Cushite, another name for Ethiopian, who was a high official in the royal palace who saved the prophet Jeremiah’s life. It is amazing how history writers stole Egypt out of Africa and put it in the Middle East. It’s not hard to understand why it was done. In one race’s desire to be number one, it attempted to deny the reality of the word of God for another race
We can turn to the New Testament and find that Jesus spent his first few years of life in Africa as a hideout. Simon from North Africa carried the cross of Jesus. Pastor Toby shared with us last week evidence to indicate Paul may have been Black, since he was mistaken for being from Africa when they first arrested him in Jerusalem. In Acts 13:1 in the church at Antioch one of the prophets and teachers was Simeon, also called the Black. And another one was called Lucius of Cyrene which is in North Africa.
It’s important not only for African-Americans to know about God’s choice of Africans in the Bible, but for all people to know it because it shows, that long before racism, there was a God who was free to choose anybody he wanted to choose.
God made us a rainbow of colors simply because He wanted to. It’s amazing how the only part of creation that lets color get in the way is people. We’ve got a little brown dog that we went and got from some people who were white. Not once did the dog indicate, she had been born in a white family’s home and she’s not sure she can adjust to living in an African American situation. After all the food and the music might be different.
When we look at the word of God, we discover that no race or nationality has an exclusive claim on God. Even though God called Israel out of Egypt to take them into the promise land, that did not necessarily place God on their side. You see, God loved the people in the land of Canaan. He had given them 430 years to change their ways, but they would not listen. Therefore God brought the people out of Israel to inflict judgment on them, in the same way he later used the Africans and Babylonians to bring judgment on Israel.
Joshua was feeling real good about being number one when they crossed into the promised land. They had to cross over the Jordan River which was in its flood stage, so it was like the mighty Mississippi River. God told Joshua, let the priest lead the way and as soon as the priest touch the water, the water flowing downstream will stop flowing and stand up in a heap. The priest step in, the water stopped flowing. All the people crossed over on dry ground, while the priest stood in the middle of the River. Nothing had been seen like this since the parting of the Red Sea under Moses. After the people crossed, over, the priest crossed to the other side, and immediately the waters returned to its position.