Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Exodus 4:1-9 comments: signs for the elders

1 ¶  And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. 2  And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. 3  And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. 4  And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: 5  That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee. 6  And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. 7  And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. 8  And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. 9  And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.

Moses expresses his doubts. The elders of Israel will not believe him, he says. But, God shows him a touch of the power that God will work through him. It is interesting here, as God turns Moses’ rod, the staff he uses for managing the flock from the word that also comes a scepter for rule, into a serpent. Here is an important point about Hebrew as well as Greek words.

The Holy Spirit, through Moses, uses the Hebrew word, naw-khawsh, for serpent, the same word used for the serpent who is Satan in the garden. But, in 7:9 & 10 serpent will be translated from tan-neem, which also is used in other places for a dragon or even a whale. But in 7:15 we come back to naw-khawsh again for serpent. As we have seen in Greek from our study of books in the New Testament it is pointless to look at a Hebrew or a Greek word and state that this or that is its exact meaning when the context determines meaning and while one word can be used for different ideas, more than one word can be used for the same idea. A study of the word, love, in the Greek text of the New Testament will produce little understanding if one runs off on a rabbit trail trying to use those words to delineate different kinds of love. The kind of love the Holy Spirit is explaining will depend on the context, not on the Greek word.

For instance, in the following passage different words for love are used and a great many mental gymnastics with the original Greek will take you off the road of understanding into the mire of the meaning of Greek words. For instance, several different Greek words are used for love in the New Testament but they all, in context, mean what we think of as love, not, though, the erotic or romantic kind.

After the resurrection, in John 21:15-17 Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves Him, which calls into sharp, painful memory that Peter had denied His Lord three times as Jesus predicted He would. And there are many other great sermons from that passage, I'm sure.
Here, a person who pretends to be a Greek expert is about to burst. He excitedly points out that the first and second time Jesus asks the question He uses the word Agape' for to love someone from esteem or respect and also used for divine love. Each of those times Peter responds with Phileo, the love that comes from friendship or brotherly love. The last time Jesus Himself uses Phileo and once again Peter responds with the same. The pseudo-scholar will say that this lends much more meaning to the conversation because Jesus is asking for a different kind of love, a divine love, which Peter is not capable of and this reflects a fundamental failure in mankind's capacity or willingness to love God in the right way blah, blah, blah.
What the person who likes to think he is more intelligent and knowledgeable than a Christian janitor who can read English has done is to reveal his own ignorance. Agape' and Phileo are words for love that are used interchangeably. No extra insight into these verses is gained by playing ping pong with them. In Matthew 6:5 hypocrites Phileo to pray standing in the synagogues, in Matthew 19:19 you are told to Agape' your neighbor as yourself, John 15:19 says the world won't Phileo the disciples, 1 Corinthians 16:22 says that if any man Phileo not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be Anathema Maranatha, and when we are repeatedly told to love our neighbor as ourselves with Agape' the Scriptures in no way imply that this is superior to our brotherly love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. I doubt anyone would imply that the kind of love Jesus says we are to have for each other, which distinguishes us as His followers, is inferior to the love we are supposed to have for a stranger who is in need.
Titus 3:4 doesn't have the love of God our Saviour toward man as Agape'. Paul's admonition in Titus 3:15 isn't Agape'. 1 Peter 1:22 uses both words for the same thought with Phileo first and then Agape'. Does knowing this change your understanding of the text? Does it help you know what you are to do? Is your lack of access or availability of access to the Greek a determinant of your ability to understand God's words? Finally, in Revelation 3:19 does it matter to you that Jesus Phileos here?
So, trust your English Bible and don’t be concerned about unbelieving preachers choking on nuances of meanings, offering “nuggets” of wisdom from the original languages that simply aren’t there.

Serpent is a serpent whichever Hebrew word for such a creature serpent comes from.

The incident of changing Moses’ rod into a serpent and back again is for the purpose of convincing the elders of the children of Israel, not the Pharaoh. Again, in the turning of his hand leprous and then healing him the purpose is to provide him a sign to show the Hebrews.

The Jews required a sign, Paul wrote.

1Corinthians 1:22  For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks [Gentiles] seek after wisdom:

And God revealed Himself in signs and wonders on Egypt.

Deuteronomy 6:22  And the LORD shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes:

The third and last sign to convince the elders of Israel was to take water from the Nile and pour it onto the ground. It would become blood. 

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