I knew a man who liked to bait ministers.
He was a Godly man, but had a strong sense of humor. He’d ask ministers if they believed in the Bible. “Of course!” And do you preach from the Bible? “You know I do!!” Can you preach a sermon from any verse in the Bible? “Well, now . . .”
The verse he wanted to throw at them is Exodus 16:36.
(An omer is one tenth of an ephah.)
He had the idea that with this being so simple, so dry, that a sermon would be impossible. I disagree – but then again, I have heard interesting sermons on the “begats” at the beginning of Matthew.
If I were to preach this sermon, my first point would be that the words are precise. Both omer and ephah are named. Just like we have pints and quarts, and we don’t wonder which is which, or argue about a quart really being a pint. An omer is not an ephah. I would tie this into Adam naming the animals – it is our job to name things. Somebody decided to call an omer an omer instead of a piglet.
The second point would be that the ratio is exact. Words like about or approximately do not appear. God has defined this – meaning that God has rules, and boundaries for mankind. When we break them, it’s like we tried to sell somebody nine omers of wheat and call it an ephah. Not right, and somebody would have to pay. From there, I could move straight into Jesus dying on the cross, paying the price for our lack of perfection.
And the third point (all good sermons have three points) would be to notice the parentheses. This was put into the Bible as an explanation, so that if somebody knew one term, they could calculate the other. Sharing something that you know so that somebody who doesn’t know can get enlightenment. Sounds a lot like sharing that Gospel, doesn’t it? And in a quiet way, in parentheses, off to the side instead of beating somebody over the head with a family Bible.
I’m sure there are many more points that can be drawn from this verse. I didn’t even look at the context, or the other places that omer and ephah are used in the Bible. But this I know: That verse, strange as it may seem, is part of the Holy Bible, inspired by God and given to us. To me. To help me learn about God and myself, to help me live my life in submission to Jesus, to lead me to Heaven.
And that’s no laughing matter.