Sorry you couldn’t review the sermon.
Perhaps Spectrum will make it available again.
When you first saw it, it must have impressed you in some way because you made six comments about it. In the one I identified with most, you mentioned you would like to know what Elder Jackson’s concept of the gospel was. That would be interesting.
The reason I brought that sermon up was because it had a significant effect on me. I was in the early stages of embracing a new theology and this sermon was a sort of watershed moment for me that encouraged me to continue on my path.
About three years earlier, for the first time in my Christian life, I had decided to start seriously studying the Bible on my own. One of the passages that had perplexed me at the time when I was still an Adventist was the account of the interaction between God and Pharaoh at the time of the Exodus. I tried unsuccessfully to reconcile the Biblical account with what I had been told over and over again in Adventism, i.e., that God would never violate man’s free will; our freedom of choice is sacred.
This absolute freedom of choice by man is central in Adventist theology. So, whatever God’s plans might be, He must follow our will. Yet, as I studied this passage of Scripture it said repeatedly (at least five times) that God overruled Pharaoh’s will and hardened Pharaoh’s heart. I was most interested in seeing how Elder Jackson would handle this apparent contradiction with his theology.
I applaud Elder Jackson for tackling a passage that surely is a difficult one for Adventist theology. As I remember the sermon, Elder Jackson’s approach was to reframe this aspect of the Biblical account. He said that God sent Moses as a friend to Pharaoh to try to convince him to let the people go. He said God, through Moses, tried very hard to sway Pharaoh but this approach ultimately failed. He said God’s original plan didn’t work and the resulting plagues with much pain, sorrow and loss of life were Pharaoh’s fault.
Elder Jackson’s interpretation showed me the lengths one can go to make a Biblical passage agree with one’s theology. He was saying that, in effect, in some ways, man is more powerful than God and that God’s plans for us can fail. He was also saying that God would never do anything we consider ‘evil’. I now believe those things are not true. He showed me how powerful the lens of our theological assumptions through which we read the Bible can be. He showed me that to many people having to re-examine and perhaps modify these assumptions is unacceptable. Too much is at stake. I saw his sermon as taking the safer course of trying to modify the meaning of the words of the Bible. He showed me that Adventist theology could not explain this Biblical narrative as written.
I later emailed Elder Jackson about the sermon and asked him what he thought of Paul’s analysis of the Exodus account which is written in Romans 9:14-21. He kindly responded and did not mention Romans 9 but gave me Romans 1:18-26 instead. I think he felt that Pharaoh had previously rejected God and made his own heart so hard that God couldn’t do much about it except ‘give him over’ to his own way. This contradicts the account because Pharaoh asked Moses to ‘make supplication’ to the Lord for him, said he had sinned against the Lord and asked for forgiveness.
God’s killing of the firstborn of Egypt (undoubtedly including many children) is difficult to reconcile with the teachings of Jesus and the way God is portrayed in the NT. Jesus said we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. 1John 4:8 says God is love. So, it’s understandable to make Pharaoh responsible. But the Bible tells us that Pharaoh was ready to let the people go part way through the plagues. Before several of the last of them plus the chase to the sea, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, ‘so that they may know that I am the Lord’. However difficult that is to accept, the Bible tells us God is responsible for what happened.
The word of this miraculous deliverance by God surely would have spread quickly throughout that part of the world and so one reason for God’s actions against Egypt may have been that they served to help protect the largely defenceless pilgrims on their journey to the promised land.
One of the things about the account I recently noticed was that immediately after the first Passover God instructed the Israelites that the firstborn of every womb, both of man and beast, was to belong to Him (Ex 13:2). It was to be devoted or set apart to Him (Ex 13:12). (Later God modified this to mean the Levitical priesthood only.) I am surely looking through the lens of my own theology now but I see this as God telling us that yes, He cut the lives of the Egyptian firstborn short but He has taken full responsibility for them. I believe His love means that one day, after several more stages in His plan for us have come to pass, they will be in His kingdom. (I think He meant the same thing when the Israelites conquered Jericho and killed all its citizens. Then God told Joshua that meant they had all been placed ‘under the ban’ or devoted to Him.)
God’s actions in the OT often seem brutal to us but I believe He has given us clues that He always acts out of love and for the ultimate good of all His creation.
WRT your enquiry, I’m sorry, I don’t know if Elder Jackson has written anything about Paul’s writings.