Episode #22: Cavemen and Best Bible Verses About ‘Dung’ + Why Does God Throw Somebody Out of His Wedding Feast?
If this podcast were written and recorded by my precious wife, it would be vastly different – more sober-minded, serious, and a good bit shorter. It would have the same Scripture passages, but you would never have an episode about cavemen and dung. However, this podcast is not by my wife, so today’s episode is on cavemen and dung.
I suppose it is a bit silly headed of me to attempt to tackle three questions in today’s episode, but they are all interesting, and all worthy of an answer, so hopefully it will work out for us. As a bonus, we have special guest Charles Spurgeon with us to answer the best and most important question, so that will be a big help, I’m sure. Today’s passages are Genesis 23, which is about the death of Abraham’s precious wife Sarah, and his attempts to find her a burial place. Nehemiah 12, which mentions the Dung Gate and also has about a thousand Hebrew names for me to stumble over. Matthew 22 which features Jesus’ awesome (and unsettling!) Parable of the Wedding Banquet, and finally, Acts 22, which gives us the story of Paul’s salvation on the Damascus Road from Paul’s own perspective. Let’s start with Genesis 23, then Matthew 22, then some commentary, then the rest of the passages. Slightly different order on the podcast today.
I got a question a couple of weeks ago from podcast listener Sherry, who asked where cavemen fit into the biblical timeline, and whether or not most humans lived in caves at one point in time. Great question! I think many of us picture there being an era of history (or prehistory) on the earth where the majority of humans lived in caves, and were thus cavemen (or cavepeople, if we are being inclusive.) With an understanding that I am a history major, but not an archaeologist or anthropologist, let’s tackle this question with a few facts about humans and cave-dwelling:
- Yes! Humans have, over the years, lived in caves. However, there was never a time when the majority of humans on the planet lived in caves for the following three major reasons: 1. There just aren’t that many caves around! Some regions are blessed with a plethora of caves , but most areas of the earth lack caves, or only have a few. 2. Caves are dark and dank, and not usually ideal places to live because humans need sunlight and they need LIGHT to see, and even very large caves only have a small amount of livable space that has light. I was a spelunker for a long time, and I can tell you that caves are DARK – like darker than you can possibly imagine. 3. Caves tend to attract non-human dwellers like snakes, bears, hyenas, wolves and Captain Cavemen, all of which are a threat to humans. So – while humans did use caves, and bury their dead there, and camp there from time to time and draw art there, most humans of a given society did NOT live in caves. (Though some did, certainly.)
2. There are some modern people who still live in caves, or houses built into caves. I would love this! Google “Amboise Troglodyte” home, and you can find an Airbnb for a Cave house that you can RENT for only $89 a night the next time you are in France’s Loire Valley.
3. There were people in the Bible who lived in caves! Job mentions them (see Job 30:6) and suggests that desperate people and outlaws lived in such caves. I, for one, am tired of stereotyping cave-dwellers. Get with the times, Job, you Boomer – it’s 2020!
Question #2 – One of my all time favorite middle school jokes is appropriate for today: What’s brown and sounds like a bell? DUNG! More importantly, what was the Dung Gate of Jerusalem? And the answer is that, at least in Nehemiah’s time, it was about what you’d imagine it to be – an entrance/exit from Jerusalem where trash, refuse and human and animal waste were taken outside of the city. Sha’ar Ashpoth is the Hebrew name of used in Nehemiah, and it means ‘Gate of Garbage.’ During the days of the First temple in Jerusalem (before Ezra and Nehemiah), most of the refuse and ash and leftovers from sacrifices were taken out through this gate to a nearby dump-like area. Today’s Dung Gate in Jerusalem is likely in a far different place than the original was, and serves as one of the main entryways into the oldtown area.
And here’s the top four verses about dung in the Bible. (Yes, there’s more than just these 4!)
Don’t you know that ever since antiquity,Job 20:4-7 Zophar the Naamathite
from the time a human was placed on earth,
5 the joy of the wicked has been brief
and the happiness of the godless has lasted only a moment?
6 Though his arrogance reaches heaven,
and his head touches the clouds,
7 he will vanish forever like his own dung.
Because of all this, I am about to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam:I will wipe out all of Jeroboam’s males,1 Kings 14:10
both slave and free, in Israel;
I will sweep away the house of Jeroboam
as one sweeps away dung until it is all gone!
24 Some time later, King Ben-hadad of Aram brought all his military units together and marched up and laid siege to Samaria. 25 So there was a severe famine in Samaria, and they continued the siege against it until a donkey’s head sold for thirty-four ounces of silver, and a cup of dove’s dung sold for two ounces of silver.Siege in Samaria 2 Kings 6:24
7 But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith.Philippians 3:7-9
Well, I hope you are as fascinated by Scripture on dung as I am! 5th grade Chase would be proud that 40 something year old Chase recorded a podcast about dung. I’m not sure that is a good thing or not. What is a good thing, however, is this explanation by friend of the show Charles Spurgeon on the Wedding Banquet Parable that Jesus tells in Matthew 22:
This is the glorious rule of the gospel still. Those who were first called to the great wedding feast were the Jews; they would not come, and therefore, Jerusalem was destroyed. Now the gospel is preached to all nations, and all sorts of people in all nations; yet the same sinful rejection of the invitation is constantly being repeated. You, who hear the gospel from Sunday to Sunday, are called by it to come to the great supper; and, as some of you will not come, God, in his infinite mercy, is sending his gospel to the poorest and the vilest of mankind. Many of them do come, and thus the Lord provokes you to jealousy by a people who were not a people; and astonishes you as you find that many come from the East, and from the West, and from the North, and from the South, and sit down in the kingdom of God, while you, who reckoned yourselves to be the children of the kingdom, because you have long been privileged to hear the gospel, shall be cast out.C. H. Spurgeon, “Faith: Life,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 48 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1902), 599–600.
The king’s servants “gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good.” The best gathering into the visible church is sure to be a mixture; there will be some coming into it who should not be there.
And when the king came in to see the guests,
For whom he had provided luxurious garments suitable for the wedding,—for, as we provide what is supposed to be appropriate array for mourners at a funeral, so, in the East, they provide, on a much larger scale, suitable apparel for wedding guests.
He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: He might have had one, for it was provided. The fact that he had not one was as great an insult to the king as a refusal of his invitation would have been. He was not bound to provide himself with a wedding garment; he could not have done it, for he was probably one of those swept up out of the highways. But there it hung, and he was requested to put it on; but he refused, and he had the impertinence to sit there without the indispensable wedding garment. If he could not show his contempt for the king in one way, he would do so in another; and he dared, in the midst of the wedding feasters, to defy the authority of the king, and to refuse to do honor to the newly-married prince.
And he saith unto him, Friend, how did you come here not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
He could give no reply; the king’s presence awed him into silence.
Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and grinding of teeth.
You may manage to get into the church even though you are not converted; but if you are not trusting in Christ, you are not saved, and your false profession will only make your destruction the more terrible. Woe unto us unless we are found wearing the righteousness of Christ,—unless our lives are made holy by the gracious influence of his blessed Spirit! These are the wedding garments which we are to wear. If we have them not, our presence at the festival will not avail us in the great testing time that is coming.
For many are called, but few are chosen.
All who hear the gospel are called, but the call does not come with equal power to every heart. And with some, the power with which it comes is not that which saves; it only convinces the intellect, so that an outward homage is paid to the Word, and the inward obedience of the soul is not rendered to the Lord. God grant that each of us may have on the wedding garment when the King comes in to see the guests!