It’s interesting to me to see not only the life and lives of the scriptures coming to life, but also the arguments and debates.
This first book of the New Testament is clearly written for Jewish people. This is seen from the very beginning of the very first chapter. Matthew 1 begins with a genealogy for Jesus the Messiah that sets up Joseph the husband of Mary as a direct descendant of David and Abraham. This genealogy serves at least a dual purpose. 1) It shows that Jesus has every right and privilege of being King David’s direct descendant. And, 2) It takes a step toward proving that Jesus is indeed the Messiah by showing the fulfillment of prophecy through this genealogy. It is the history of a Jew for Jews.
One of the debates that comes up is about the genealogy itself. According to Matthew’s depiction of the genealogy there are 14 generations defined from Abraham to David, 14 generations defined from David to the fall of, and 14 generations defined between the captivity and Jesus the Messiah. It’s a great pictorial representation, but it’s not without its issues. For instance, there appear to be discrepancies between this listing and the listing in the book of Luke, but my issues are more direct than that. How can there be 14 generations between Abraham and David?
When i go through this genealogy I see “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king.” That’s 4 generations between the time of Moses and the time of David. 1) Salmon to Boaz 2) Boaz to Obed 3) Obed to Jesse 4) Jesse to David. So according to this listing, all that happened between Moses bringing the people to the Jordan River in the end of Deuteronomy to David being anointed King by Samuel occurred within that 4 generation time span. That includes all of the book of Joshua (very feasible as it would have been done within one generation), and all of Judges (not so feasible?).
That’s where i get a bit more skeptical. Just looking at Judges 10 we see numerous minor Judges who served for a number of decades, died then another judge arose and judged Israel, and died and the people sinned again and are afflicted for decades again before we hear of another judge arising. Then when Samuel is born, the word of the Lord appears to have been scarce for a long time and he serves as Judge and priest for a long time before ever anointing David. That’s just a sampling of the issue. There’s still Deborah & Barak, Sampson, Gideon, etc. How could all of that fit into 4 generations?
Considering that all my life and experience with God / YHWH has shown me beyond a doubt that the scriptures truly are written by the inspiration of God and are infallible, how do i reconcile this and other difficult questions? The answer to this and other quandaries is much more simple and elegant than we may think. I have my answers / solutions to the puzzle, but what are yours? 😉
As we are closing up on the end of the book of Leviticus, God / YHWH paints a picture of what the rest of the Old Testament / Covenant will look like. It is a peek into the future of Israelite people, and a picture of both the good and the bad. I just wish that it wasn’t SO bad. Ultimately though, we begin to see the picture of the peoples relationship to God. We get a feel for just how much the people will turn away, and how that turning away will affect their relationship with YHWH and their own futures.
YHWH starts off with a command. “‘You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or… You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the LORD (YHWH).” It’s simple really. Don’t worship idols / false gods, and keep His Sabbaths and reverence His sanctuary. How difficult can that be. Apparently that can be very difficult because it does not take long (a single generation after Joshua) for all of it to begin to fall apart.
Are we any different? Have we changed any from this in the thousands of years since it was written, or are we still going from generation to generation following the ways and directions of our culture over what God’s word says? This is the picture of the Old Testament, the entire 49 books. Yet, this is also the picture of today. Instead of pursuing God / YHWH, we are pursuing education and technology and financial stability and comfortable homes. Instead of keeping His Sabbaths and revering His sanctuary, we are keeping ourselves as busy as we possibly can with all of our “responsibilities”. We are too busy trying to stay busy, that we push away the very purpose of our lives. In the end, what does that bring us? …exhaustion, sickness, loss, anger, frustration, being overwhelmed, seeing the work that we have built coming to nothing?
Our pursuit needs to be not a pursuit of what’s the best, brightest, and shiniest. It needs to be a pursuit of YHWH first and foremost. We need to not make the same old mistakes that the Old Testament Israelites made. We must pursue YHWH.
John J. Camiolo Jr.
This chapter is a very controversial chapter and tends to bring up all kinds of questions and debate. In it YHWH deals with defilement (primarily sexual defilement); what defiles the people and what defiles the land. In this chapter YHWH gives instruction for the people not to uncover their relative’s nakedness (or have sexual relations with them). Incest is forbidden including incestual relations between a man and his mother, a father and his daughter-in-law, a man and both a woman and her daughter, and other relations.
There are other issues at work in this chapter as well. For instance there is the command not to uncover a woman’s nakedness during her menstrual period, not to sleep with a neighbor’s wife, and not to sacrifice your child to Molech (this doesn’t happen anymore… does it?). Each of these issues is very important and significant and should in no way be minimized.
However, the most controversial verse in this chapter (according to the current cultural view) is verse 22: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” You can see where a big part of the controversy begins here. There are many that say that this passage does not apply anymore due to Christ having fulfilled the law. That since Christ came and died and was raised again, and the curtain to the most holies was torn, we are no longer bound by the law. We do not have to fulfill the sacrificial rules and regulations because Christ became the perfect sacrifice. Since this passage is part of the legal instructions given to the Israelite people, it is completed and fulfilled and no longer applicable to us.
To some extent, that is an accurate (albeit flawed) understanding of Christ’s fulfillment of the law. This entire chapter holds a different kind of sway than most of the rest of the law. It is true to some extent that the law was for the nation of Israel, but this chapter is about what supersedes that law. Verses 24-25 explain this a little bit better:
“Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.”
It doesn’t take an exegetical genius to understand that the commands in this chapter aren’t limited to the people of the Israelite nation. These are laws that defy nature itself. They are not limited to the people of Israel. They apply to all people and all time. It is because of these kinds of sins that the Israelites have the right, and the responsibility to not only conquer the land of Canaan, but to destroy its inhabitants as well. The land itself has judged the Canaanites and is spewing them out because of the sins listed in this chapter. The Israelites are simply tools to the fulfillment of that justice.
So how should we respond to those caught up in these kinds of sins? Are we to judge and condemn them? Is that our “right”? I don’t believe so. God says, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” In that passage He is referring to not judging those of the world. That judgment is His, not ours to dole out. However, in I Corinthians 5 we are instructed to judge those within the body that are sinning against the body, and the sin refereed to there is a sin directly related to this chapter. It was a sin being accepted and even praised within the church that should have been condemned. That is a pattern we would be wise to heed. The leaders of the church are responsible for understanding and responding appropriately to sin within the body. In NO WAY should the church be lifting up and encouraging within the body what YHWH has condemned. We are to be the light of hope to the troubled and struggling, not following in the defilement of the world.
In the New Testament there is a listing(s) of spiritual gifts. Gifts given to the people of the body of Christ in order to strengthen the body and to help the people do the work of ministry. There are people who debate about how many “gifts” are actually represented in the list(s) and what it all means. It can be an interesting conversation sometimes trying to process through the information, but the conversation of the gifts of Spirit will oftentimes come back to the Old Testament. To Exodus 31. Why? “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.” Suddenly, there is a whole new discussion. Are there “gifts” of the Spirit that we don’t even know about? YHWH gave this man and others gifts to be able to do the work of building the tabernacle and all that was to be in it. They were given gifts of the Spirit for the building up of the people and the work of service, yet craftsmanship is not listed in the New Testament gifts. It certainly gives you pause to think.
I would so love to see the work that was done by these people. I can only imagine the beauty and craftsmanship of their work. To see the alter and the tabernacle. To smell the incense and the sacrifice. To hear the sounds of the work and the worship. What beauty. But, it is not a privilege that i will have on this side of eternity.
The other key aspect of this chapter is its focus on the Sabbath. Six days are for work, and one for rest. God takes that command very seriously, even when we don’t. We know that we should be taking a day of rest, but how often do we truly take a Sabbath? Aren’t we working around the house, or in the yard, or preparing for work, or some other “important” task. I know that many times i’m teaching a class on Sunday mornings. Monday through Friday i’m teaching college level psychology in the high-school. Wednesday through Saturday i’m working with boys and young men who have low IQ’s and behavioral problems. Add to that the time spent working around the house, and that i am working on this project almost every day, and it all adds up to working 7 days a week almost every day of the year. I know i’m not the only one who does this kind of thing. So if God’s word is so important, and He takes the Sabbath so seriously, why don’t we?
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