You can’t take them anywhere. Friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances whose presence always creates drama. Then trauma. Nothing is satisfactory. And everyone must know it. The food is too hot, cold, slow, soggy, poorly plated. The seats are too crowded, in the sun, in the shade, far away, too close. The route is too twisty, trafficked, poorly designed. Whatever is, is not acceptable. They raise a stink about anything and everything. And invite contempt to our merry parties, family gatherings, and joyful assembles.
‘Raising a stink’ is an apt phrase. To ‘raise a stink’ means to be vocal in one’s displeasure or to make a scene about something; to complain or object very angrily. Nit-pickiness, implacability, malcontentedness is like a bad smell. It offends and repels. It sickens and induces strong reactions. It is the smell of death – the death of friendships, relationships, fellowships.
‘Raising a stink’ is an ancient idiom. Before refrigeration smells were a matter of life or death. By its smell, food was tested before it was tasted. And people were identified by their savour, whether sweet or malodorous, as much as their appearance. We see this in the stories of the Bible.
After the flood, Noah offered a burned sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord and we read, “and when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man.’” Isaac commented that the Esau smelled like “a field which the Lord has blessed.” And in Revelation 8, saints prayers are compared to sweet incense rising to the Lord. The scent of some is sweet. But the scent of others raises a stink.
Genesis 22:1 records that God ‘tested’ Abraham. The word translated ‘tested’ comes from an ancient word which means to examine the integrity of meat by smelling it. In Genesis 34, after Jacob’s sons murder the men of Shechem, Jacob says, “you have brought trouble on me by making me stink to the inhabitants of the land.” And in Exodus 5:21, the people complain against Moses after his failed interview with Pharaoh.
“The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”EXODUS 5:21
In Exodus 4, Moses and Aaron met with the elders. Quickly and completely, God’s Word produced faith in an unbelievable promise. Moses had worried no one would believe him. But without controversy all the elders and all the people believed God’s Word and responded. Now it was Pharaoh’s turn. But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. He not only refused Moses’ demands, but made the peoples’ lives more bitter. And they complained to Moses. He had raised a stink.
It is true that God’s Word always raises a stink with unbelievers. The Bible is not a matter of indifference. It makes demands. It reveals what we are. And what we are not. The hubris of unbelief cannot tolerate God’s Word. It always raises a stink. Paul describes this well in the New Testament.
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.2 CORINTHIANS 2:15-16
The gospel is always pungent. For some a pleasing aroma. To others it raises a stink. The gospel raised a stink with Pharaoh. And it raises a stink with unbelievers in your life. Moses and the people complained against God because of Pharaoh’s reaction. What is your response when the gospel raises a stink? Will you complain that God’s promises have failed? Will you blame him for exposing you to persecution? Will you value peace with lost men more than their peace with God?
The gospel raises a stink. But Moses raised a stink as well. Pharaoh’s is not the only unbelief in this passage. When the gospel did not act how and when Moses thought it should, he raised a stink. How do you handle disappointment when the Lord does not act as you expect? When His promises seem out of reach? When following Christ appears to makes life worse, not better. Exodus has much to say about disappointment. Join us this Lord’s Day as we examine Exodus 5:1-23 and consider how we respond to disappointment.
We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube.