Monday, November 20, 2017

Exodus 21:12-21 comments: the civil law

21:12 ¶  He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. 13  And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee. 14  But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die. 15  And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. 16  And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death. 17  And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death. 18  And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed: 19  If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed. 20  And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. 21  Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

This passage begins with laws regarding murder, slavers, those who curse their parents, mutual combat and compensation for injuries resulting, and striking a servant. These are God’s commands for civil law for the Hebrews. This gives you a rough idea of the nature of civil protections at that time, certainly shocking by our standards today. God modified existing standards so you can see what must have been accepted practice.

Remember in Genesis how Abraham and Isaac were afraid of being murdered so some ruler could steal their wives, so they lied? That showed us the likely conditions of the time with regard to a powerful man simply taking a less powerful man’s wife for his own sexual purposes. In the same way these Laws given to Moses for the children of Israel must reveal the conditions of the time.

According to some sources the death penalty in Egypt was unevenly applied to those who killed another person and there was no distinction between premeditated murder and unpremeditated manslaughter. God created consistency with His edicts as the standard rather than an official who could be bribed as a matter of accepted practice.

In Egypt, the Pharaoh, as a living god, was the source of justice bound by tradition and convention but with himself and his ministers being able to apply justice as their position and power allowed rather than based on an absolute standard. God is laying down a standard.

The much older so-called Code of Hammurabi, which most certainly was not a body of laws but more a commentary on law or a philosophy of law as there is no evidence it was ever put into practice, had the death penalty for over 30 offenses. For instance, giving refuge to a runaway slave was to require the death penalty. But, it was uneven in that the punishment for a crime depended on the social status of the victim and the perpetrator. Bible skeptics make much out of the “eye for an eye” standard but that only applied between people of equal rank. God is creating an equal standard for everyone as, at this point, there is no aristocracy outside of the leader of a tribe and Moses and his assistants in enforcing God’s Law. They were held to the same standard.

Verse 12 gives us the meaning of the commandment Thou shalt not kill as Jesus defines it in Matthew 19:18  as do no murder.

Matthew 19:18  He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

Verse 13 suggests the cities of refuge ordered in Numbers, chapter 35, where an unintentional killer could run to in order to keep from having family vengeance enacted on him. It also shows again God’s hand in events as the accidental victim was delivered into the hand of the killer by God.
Verse 14 shows that committing murder and running to God’s altar for protection will not save you someone from punishment.

1Kings 2:29  And it was told king Solomon that Joab was fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD; and, behold, he is by the altar. Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, Go, fall upon him. 30  And Benaiah came to the tabernacle of the LORD, and said unto him, Thus saith the king, Come forth. And he said, Nay; but I will die here. And Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me. 31  And the king said unto him, Do as he hath said, and fall upon him, and bury him; that thou mayest take away the innocent blood, which Joab shed, from me, and from the house of my father. 32  And the LORD shall return his blood upon his own head, who fell upon two men more righteous and better than he, and slew them with the sword, my father David not knowing thereof, to wit, Abner the son of Ner, captain of the host of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, captain of the host of Judah. 33  Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed for ever: but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the LORD. 34  So Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up, and fell upon him, and slew him: and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness.

Verse 15 requires death for someone who strikes one of his parents. Also note verse 17. Other interesting verses on this subject include the following;

Proverbs 20:20 ¶  Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.

Proverbs 30:17  The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

1Timothy 1:9  Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

Rules against disobedient and disrespectful children include;

Leviticus 20:9  For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.

Deuteronomy 21:18 ¶  If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: 19  Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; 20  And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. 21  And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

With regard to verse 16 and more modern times it is interesting the kind of man who would have engaged in the slave trade, at least the part involving kidnapping innocent people in Africa and stealing them to sell into North or South America, was doing great evil. One can only imagine a depraved beast of a human being engaging in such wicked trade, particularly if he regarding himself as a Christian.

Verses 20 and 21 modify existing customs on treatment of slaves and servants. There were various customs, laws, and traditions in the Ancient Near East regarding slaves and servants but it was a fact, God’s modifying the institution’s customs and standardizing the treatment of slaves, notwithstanding.

Do not make the mistake of Christians who unified state and church into a monster of oppression into believing that God modifying a cultural practice means that He approves of it or ordains it. In addition, the Hebrews were being given not only their religious law but their civil law, as well. 

Christians aren’t given that structure. We are not 12-15th century BC Hebrews. We’re not even justified by the Law but only by faith in Christ. We cannot hide behind the Law given to Moses or use it as an excuse for our own selfish wickedness. Some fundamentalists act like they would enjoy nothing better than bringing back stoning and slavery.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Exodus 21:1-11 comments: God places constraints on possession of Hebrew servants

21:1 ¶  Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. 2  If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. 3  If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4  If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. 5  And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: 6  Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever. 7  And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. 8  If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her. 9  And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters. 10  If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. 11  And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.

Now comes the civil law that God wants to give the Hebrews to set them apart from other cultures in the world and other nations. He starts with rules for purchasing a servant of his own people. While this would not seem to be of much relevance to us there are some important things to note. Compare the mercy and moderation called for servants to the treatment the Egyptians dealt out to the Hebrews.
Having servants or slaves was a normal part of these cultures and the world of that time. In fact, until recently, with the advent of electric appliances and gas-powered equipment for farms having slaves or servants or children to do the manual work alongside farm animals was essential for survival on anything but a subsistence scale.

God did not create culture and civilization. He permitted man to do it and He modified it. He molded and tempered societies. His purpose is His ministry of reconciling mankind to Himself, not creating something for historians to write about. As an example, Christianity’s focus moved to Europe, leavened and mixed in with pagan practices to make it more sellable. God did not call for this but permitted this corrupted Christianity but out of that milieu He drew certain people, some called heretics or nonconformists and other names like Paulicians, Henricians, Bogomils, Albigensians, Waldensians and others given their names by their enemies, each group not being perfect in doctrine or understanding but drawing closer to Him moving away from the paganism of established political churches and dying cruel martyrs’ deaths.

Constantly, signs of God’s molding and tempering of the Christian faith moved into the Reformation and beyond. Each generation saw people striving for a purer faith and one more lined up with the Bible. It is a process, a part of reconciling man to Himself but using man’s free will and man’s understanding here a little, there a little to move mankind closer to God.

Back to the Hebrews, meant to be a theocracy with God as king, God tempers and constrains the customs of the Ancient Near East to make a people unique to Him. He did not simply wipe the board clean and start over but worked within the framework of culture that existed. He works like that when we are saved individually. We typically don’t quit our jobs, leave our families, and forget all that we’ve learned in the world to start over like a newborn baby with no memory. God molds and shapes us through His Bible, preaching, prayer, and our experience to make us the person He wants us to be which will never be completed on this earth and in this life.

Verse 10 gives us a hint about God’s continuing value of the children of Israel, even today. God the Father calls Israel His wife. For instance, in the book of Hosea Israel is likened to an unfaithful wife…

Hosea 1:2  The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.

…and Israel is also God’s firstborn…

Exodus 4:22  And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:

…and the Church is Christ’s bride….

2Corinthians 11:2  For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

John 3:29  He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

Revelation 19:9  And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

Revelation 21:2  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…9  And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

Revelation 22:17  And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

…and rules are given about a first wife and then the second wife’s children…

Deuteronomy 21: 15 ¶  If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: 16  Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: 17  But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.

These verses help explain the doctrine that God has a unique place for Israel in the end times. He is not done with the people He created out of the heathen world of the second millennium BC. There are promises of their supernatural redemption all through the Old Testament.

Jeremiah 31:31  Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:33  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jeremiah 32:40  And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Exodus 20:18 - 22 comments: the people were afraid to hear from God directly

    20:18 ¶  And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. 19  And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. 20  And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. 21  And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

    20:22 ¶  And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 23  Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. 24  An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. 25  And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. 26  Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.

Apart what is obvious in this passage, God wanting to impress upon the people just what and who they were dealing with, there is an important point to be made about avoiding the paganized Christianity of historical church organizations of either Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, or Protestant faith traditions. God did not want the Israelites to mingle worship of gods and devils with His worship in any way.

Deuteronomy 32:17  They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.

How do you know if you are a pagan Christian? Well, if your faith tradition or church or yourself holds on to a certain wording in a prayer that you repeat constantly like the model prayer that Jesus taught His disciples as some kind of amulet to ward off trouble as those in former times thought it should ward off evil spirits you are paganized.

This is a model prayer for the disciples not a mantra you just repeat over and over again for good luck.

Matthew 6:9 ¶  After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11  Give us this day our daily bread. 12  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

There are elements in this prayer that should be included in our prayers as well; honoring God, seeking His will, asking for what we need, pleading for mercy in the measure in which we grant it to others, deliverance from sin and calamity, and an acknowledgment of His power and sovereignty over all things. We need this more than He does. Prayer lines up our thinking with the reality of God if we follow Christ’s instruction and places us positionally in truth.

Long-winded prayers for show, not talking to God but talking to the people that hear you, and vain repetitions, almost as if you were chanting, are also symptoms of paganism.

Matthew 6:5 ¶  And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8  Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

If you believe that your service to God, your faithfulness in church attendance, or your righteous convictions and moral standard; the way you live, the political candidates you vote for, and how respectable you appear in your community are things you can do to ward off evil and prevent misfortune because you know you will have God’s protection from all trouble and difficulty, family problems, disease, etc. then you are paganized. As I said previously, you do not do business with God. You do not command Him and this life, He tells us and our own experience shows, is so fragile and our situation here so precarious and temporary and all is under judgment from mankind’s sin nature that we have no guarantee of never having to face disaster, pain, or grief while we are in this body.

The Jew and the pagan brought their animal sacrifices to the temple. They formulated complex rituals and ceremonies to get their gods’ attention, rituals and ceremonies that God never commanded. They developed these formulas to obtain their gods’ approval over long periods of time, making it up as they went along.

We all carry pagan ideas into our worship from our past as we came out of various faith traditions; Catholic, Lutheran, Charismatic, Southern Baptist, etc. etc. that had allowed these pagan ideas to enter in and we must fight to remove those pagan ideas from our worship. God does not want our worship to be corrupted with the leaven of the Pharisees or of Baal.

John 4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

God did not want altars of hewn stone like the pagans made. Verse 26 will be important later in clearing up something that some get wrong, perhaps, because of a lack of reading comprehension, but we’ll save that for when it comes up again.

Verse 22 shows a direct link through this thundering and smoke to heaven itself. In this regard, heaven came down to the Hebrews. Note the following as ways God communicated with someone He chose before the Bible was complete and the entire revelation of His ministry of reconciling mankind to Himself was available to us in book form as the Old Latin Bible around 150AD or even before.

 Genesis 22:11 ¶  And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

Acts 9:3  And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4  And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5  And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6  And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7  And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

God also speaks through man’s spirit imparting understanding and wisdom to Him.

Job 32:8  But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
2Peter 3:15  And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

2Peter 1:21  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Now that we have the complete revelation of God we do not expect God to speak to us audibly nor do we accept that He has spoken voice-to-ear to some great religious leader. Whenever some religious celebrity declares that God appeared to him in his living room or some such nonsense we often laugh or shake our heads. But, we have a more sure word of prophecy in the Bible that is more certain even than a voice we think is from heaven.

2Peter 1:17  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18  And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

    19 ¶  We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Finally, the people did not want God to speak to them in verse 19. They wanted Moses to speak to them. Human nature is to follow a man; whether it be the toughest, luckiest, altogether pagan Viking or a charismatic pastor in a Fundamentalist church. They don’t want to hear from God directly. They aren’t willing to let God speak to them through His words in His book. They want everything spoonfed to them. This allows for better control, certainly. The Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony of our Colonial Era would say that God only speaks to His people through the sermon on Sundays. They denied Martin Luther’s insistence that the Holy Spirit would speak to each sincere believer through God’s own words in His book. Bible studies in people’s homes were typically outlawed. Thus, Ann Hutchinson’s famous Bible study was condemned and lies were spread about what she was teaching.

People are not comfortable with God speaking to them through His word. Just tell me what to think they would say, what to believe, for it is too terrible and disturbing to simply believe what God has preserved for me. They wanted Moses to be their mediator and their instructor and did not want to hear directly from God. So, it is today with most Christians, whether Protestant Fundamentalists or Roman Catholic.

Each of us, though, have this privilege, immense and grand in its proper application. That not only should we hear a man of God expound and exhort on what God has laid on his heart for us to hear but to let God speak to us through His own words in His own book, not just on Sunday but every day and many times a day if we are drawn to it or have memorized passages to contemplate and meditate on.

Psalm 119:15  I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

Joshua 1:8  This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Exodus 20:12-17 comments: respect, murder, adultery, theft, lying, and coveting

20:12 ¶  Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. 13  Thou shalt not kill. 14  Thou shalt not commit adultery. 15  Thou shalt not steal. 16  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 17  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Paul reinforces these commandments again for the Christian.

Romans 13:8  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9  For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

The commandment to honor one’s father and mother is interestingly brought up through Paul by the Holy Spirit in the context of family relations.

Ephesians 6:1 ¶  Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2  Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3  That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4  And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Jesus defined verse 13 and clarified it for us showing it to be a reference to killing an innocent person.

Matthew 19:18  He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

This is not a commandment against defending yourself or an innocent third-party from attack.

Luke 22:35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. 36  Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. 37  For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. 38  And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.

Adultery, a type of fornication where the marriage vows are broken is very serious to God. Jesus, in the following passage insists that you have committed adultery when you desire to seek after someone other than your spouse, long before any physical action is committed. It would be better if you were to blind or cripple yourself rather than do such a thing.

Matthew 5:27 ¶  Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29  And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30  And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 31  It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32  But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced  committeth adultery. [This sentence should be interpreted as shall marry her that is divorced for any other reason just as James 1:13 should be interpreted with evil at the end of it because the context calls for that understanding and it is not necessary to add the words in the text.]

Of course, sermons can be made about how adultery symbolizes the Hebrew people and the individual Christian holding something other than God in high esteem.

Theft undermines the very basis on which security within any civilization rests; the right of property. Outside of a Buddhist monk and his begging bowl I doubt there is any culture that doesn’t condemn stealing from someone. There will be many regulations regarding theft in the Law explained in more detail. For examples, see Leviticus, chapters 6 and 19.

Bearing false witness, lying to accuse someone falsely, is not only lying but is the most malicious gossip and the most unjust legal proceeding. God called His people not to lie to one another, true.

Leviticus 19:11 ¶  Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.

But, lying to accuse someone falsely played an important part in the actions that resulted in Christ’s crucifixion for our sins.

Matthew 26:57 ¶  And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58  But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. 59  Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; 60  But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, 61  And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.

We like to call something gossip when someone tells something true about us when we are not present but the gossip referred to in the Bible is malicious and false.

Coveting something that belongs to someone else is the foundation of stealing. Coveting is also a type of idolatry.

Colossians 3:5  Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

We have built a very successful culture in America based on coveting. We are never to be satisfied with what we have but to always want more. It is not surprising that the “more” that people of weak or bad character want belongs to someone else. Paul warns us of the dangers.

1Timothy 6:6 ¶  But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

This links these commandments together in many ways. Coveting and stealing of the affections of another person’s spouse is theft. In this verse defraud is to rob in context when an employer doesn’t pay you that day for the work you did that day.

Leviticus 19:13  Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.

And here, in the following passage, it refers to adultery and fornication in defrauding someone.

1Thessalonians 4:1 ¶  Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2  For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4  That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5  Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6  That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7  For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8  He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

Ethics are the standards we ascribe to if we are civilized and morals are our real and every day actions. If our ethics are no higher than our morals we are a pretty sad lot. These commandments are God’s ethical standard for the Hebrew society, the culture, to live by. They are as true or even more true than any so-called laws of physics. The violation of these commandments almost invariably causes awful consequences. As if you deny that gravity applies to you may result in your breaking a leg of worse if you jump off the roof so stealing, lying, and sexual immorality lead to certain dismal consequences almost all of the time. Someone not being hurt jumping out of a tree does not make gravity a lie any more than someone committing adultery and no one finding out except God makes the commandment false. The damage done sometimes takes years to bear fruit. But, you can be certain it will. As preachers say, sin will take you further than you want to go, make you stay longer than you want to stay, and make you pay more than you want to pay. And, to violate one of these commandments is to violate all of them.

James 2:10  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

The Ten Commandments are vitally important to understanding the history of Christian nations and terribly important for you to regard in your life. Of course, our inability to keep God’s law is one of the reasons we need Christ so badly and to depend on His righteousness and not our own. If you depended on your righteousness to gain eternal life with God you would be sorely disappointed in your failure.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Exodus 19:16 to 20:11 comments: the first three of the Ten Commandments

19:16 ¶  And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. 17  And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. 18  And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. 19  And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. 20  And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. 21  And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. 22  And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them. 23  And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. 24  And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest he break forth upon them. 25  So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them.

A powerful, frightening event takes place that causes the people to tremble. Moses, the mediator, brings the people to meet God and this mass of humanity stands at the base of this mountain. It must have been an awesome sight to behold. Smoke, thunder, lightning, the sound of a loud trumpet, exceeding loud and growing louder and louder. Moses speaks and God answers him. God called Moses to come to the top of the mountain and Moses obeys. God wants Moses to warn the people from their curiosity. God suggests the priests might come near and Moses recalls that God said no one could come up but Moses. God refines His order so that Moses and Aaron can come up. Moses then warns the people.

Chapter 20

1 ¶  And God spake all these words, saying, 2  I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3  Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. 7  Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. 8  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Notice here, in a parallel to verse 1, God declares that He brought them out of Egypt. His appearance, His angel, declares the same thing in Judges.

Judges 2:1 ¶  And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.

This lends more clarity to the definition of what an angel in the Bible is, not the good angel/bad angel of the Persian religion as a mythological winged creature which the Roman church adopted, but as a presence of something or someone that is somewhere else.

Isaiah 63:9  In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

As some examples in regard to children;

Matthew 18:10  Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Peter, the apostle;

Acts 12:15  And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

Church assemblies of Christians;

Revelation 1:20  The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

And God’s messenger, Gabriel;

Daniel 9:21  Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
Luke 1:26  And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

It is pure foolishness and confusion to mistake an angel for the cherubim, the living creatures of Ezekiel 1 and 10 or Revelation 4 who are the prototypes for all creatures on earth as representing domestic and wild animals and fowls. More on the cherubim later.

Here we have the giving of the Ten Commandments, an important icon of Christian civilization and culture. In verses 3-6 we have the ban on creating an image or picture for the purpose of worship, which is the context. We then have the ban on taking the Lord’s name in vain, for empty reasons, flippantly without purpose, for instance, as a curse word. Most people even don’t like to be talked about like they aren’t in the room. Such a thing is totally disregarding God’s presence at all times and shows contempt and disdain for our Creator.

Then, we come to the Sabbath Day, a blessing and a privilege that God granted men and women of a guarantee of one day off from work every week. This is to be a day of no work, not Mom cooking a meal for family and friends who visit or Dad mowing the yard, but no work. Period.

This was important enough to God to call for the death penalty if it was disobeyed.

Exodus 35:2  Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. 3  Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.

The Ten Commandments are God’s basic standard. These first three are towards God. Obeying God’s commandments were the external evidence that a Hebrew loved God.

Deuteronomy 6:4 ¶  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Which Jesus reinforced;

Matthew 22:37  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38  This is the first and great commandment.

The Hebrew, the Israelite, the Jew had proof of their love for their Creator that flowed from their heart to their outward behavior. The Christian has evidence because of something that God Himself puts in his or her heart by the mechanism of the Holy Spirit. This is the proof that the Spirit resides in the Christian.

Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

God promised the Jews back in the Old Testament that this would happen.

Ezekiel 11:17  Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. 18  And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. 19  And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20  That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 21  But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.

And, in that great tribulation at the end of history those who belong to God will be obvious by their faithfulness to God’s commandments.

Revelation 14:12  Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

This is the beginning of the civil and religious standard of laws give to the physical, temporal Hebrew people to live by, manage their affairs by, and to run their government by. God Himself was to be all three branches of government for them; leading, creating laws, and judging.

Isaiah 33:22  For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.

The Founders of the American government were primarily influenced by The Enlightenment at their very uppermost levels although there were many evangelical Christians in the second tier and below. The Enlightenment was a time of a rejection of political religion and a worship of man’s reason, and humanism with so-called great thinkers like Voltaire and Locke and Thomas Paine leading the charge, sometimes religious, sometimes atheists. The Enlightenment political philosopher that Founders like James Madison, the so-called ‘Father of the Constitution,’ leaned on for the three branches of government was Montesquieu. You can look but I doubt you will find, in the debates over the Constitution, any reference to the verse in Isaiah as a reason for our three branches of government. I have read two volumes of those debates and one collection of Madison’s letters and there is no reference to the verse in Isaiah. I will be very happy if you prove me wrong with a primary source like a letter or a transcript of a debate. In any event, substituting the words, “our Republican government,” for the LORD is blasphemy so please don’t do it.

The Ten Commandments are a way to see the mind of God, to understand His efforts to draw mankind, or at least those who will come, to Him. Christian culture reveres these commandments as standards to live by and there is no reason to believe that God’s standards have changed. You and your fellow citizens would do well to follow the Ten Commandments and adopt God’s standard as your own. Your life would be less filled with regret and sorrow at the end if you did. However, WE are not justified by the Law before God but by Christ’s resurrection and our belief and faith in it.

Galatians 3:22  But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23  But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26  For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Exodus 19:9-15 comments: Moses is to direct the people to sanctify themselves

19:9 ¶  And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD. 10  And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, 11  And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. 12  And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: 13  There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount. 14  And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. 15  And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives.

Jehovah God is going to display some of His majesty in how He appears to the people so as to impress them as to whom they are promising obedience. He is going to come down on Mount Sinai in His appearance from the thick cloud.

2Chronicles 6:1  Then said Solomon, The LORD hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.

Psalm 18:11  He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

No one was to touch the mount of God as Paul reminds us later when he compares the mount of God to the New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 12:20  (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: 21  And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) 22  But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23  To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24a  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant…

A trumpet blast plays an important role at the end of history.

1Corinthians 15:52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The third day is also very significant throughout the Bible representing to us the resurrection of Christ after three days.

Luke 24:46  And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

This resurrection is a theme mentioned in several places in prophetic verses in the Old Testament. Here in Exodus it has to do with God calling the people to come near to Him.

Hosea 6:2  After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.

They are to prepare themselves for this appointment with God. Here, it is interesting that they are to deny the pleasure of physical union with their wives in that preparation. Here is something that was a gift to man and woman from God from the very beginning. Part of their preparation was to deny themselves that very blessing bestowed uniquely on man and wife.

Genesis 2:24  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Christians are not told to do this except under one very special circumstance. In fact, they are warned against it. While Paul extolls the virtue of being celibate like he apparently was (although he seems to suggest that he would be willing to have a wife in 1Corinthians 9:5) he gives this admonition as part of his opinion.

1Corinthians 7:4  The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 5  Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

So, denying your spouse sexual relations is considered as defrauding them, except for a specific purpose for both parties during a specific time by mutual consent.

Moses is acting as the mediator between the people and God. Christians have God Himself in the form of the Word, capital W, of God, the second part of the three parts of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and Him only, as the mediator between us and God the Father.

1Timothy 2:5  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Hebrews 9:15 ¶  And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

As the mediator between God and mankind, only God Himself could be the propitiation for sin, only God Himself could pay the ransom to Himself for our souls, and only God Himself could raise His own body from the grave for our justification and the promise of eternal life. You are as helpless to do these things as these Hebrews were helpless in the wilderness.