Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 6

My gift is showing mercy.  Also, I’m an outsider in many ways.  I was persona non grata when I returned to my childhood church, ostensibly because my wife divorced me, but the impossibility of repentance after apostasy (Hebrews 6:4-6) is an ever-present potential refutation of my existence.  Rather than feeling marginalized these days I perceive that I am right where I should be at the epidermal interface of the body of Christ and the world.  I see more people flowing out of the body than in presently.  Admittedly, that limited perspective may be a measure of my own ineffectiveness as a witness rather than a measure of problems in the churches from which people have fled.

Given my bias toward mercy I want to consider what I called “Paul’s religious mind” through the lens of Jesus’ teaching: If your brother sins, go and show him his fault (ἔλεγξον, a form of ἐλέγχω) when the two of you are alone.[1]  Paul had every right to bring Leviticus 20:11 to the attention of the man in Corinth who had his father’s wife.  (This study has given me the confidence to write that.)  The primary purpose of such confrontation was clearly stated: If he listens (ἀκούσῃ, a form of ἀκούω) to you, you have regained (ἐκέρδησας, a form of κερδαίνω) your brother.[2]

This was not a slash and burn purging of wickedness.  Paul concurred: Preach the message, he wrote Timothy, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove (ἔλεγξον, a form of ἐλέγχω), rebuke, exhort with complete patience and instruction.[3]  This straightforward approach, however, was severely hampered since Paul, Silas and Timothy passed on the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the Gentile believers to obey.[4]  For it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us, the council had written, not to place any greater burden on you than these necessary rules: that you abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what has been strangled and from sexual immorality (πορνείας, a form of πορνεία[5]).  If you keep yourselves from doing these things, you will do well.[6]

I think Paul wrote about the law—through the law comes the knowledge of sin[7]—in his letter to the Romans to correct the erroneous impression fostered by the Jerusalem Council that everything is lawful.[8]  Obviously, not everyone agrees.  Justin Lee wrote in the essay titled “Justin’s View” under the heading “Not Under a New Law”: “Paul makes it perfectly clear that we as Christians are not under the law — Old Testament or New Testament.  He’s not trying to remove one law only to put us under another one; he’s trying to show us that in Christ, we are free from the law.”

I’ll assume that the man who had his father’s wife was an elder, rebellious, an idle talker, deceiver or someone with Jewish connections[9] and ignore the fact that Paul did not go and show him his fault privately.  So I’m skipping—But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established[10]—assuming that members of Chloe’s household may have done this already.  And I am going straight to, If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.[11]  Paul instructed Timothy: Those [elders] guilty of sin must be rebuked (ἔλεγχε, another form of ἐλέγχω) before all, as a warning to the rest.[12]  For there are many rebellious people, he wrote Titus, idle talkers, and deceivers, especially those with Jewish connections,[13] who must be silenced because they mislead whole families by teaching for dishonest gain what ought not to be taught.  A certain one of them, in fact, one of their own prophets, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”  Such testimony is true.  For this reason rebuke (ἔλεγχε, another form of ἐλέγχω) them sharply that they may be healthy in the faith[14]

The Greek word translated sharply was ἀποτόμως.  It was necessary to add ἀποτόμως to ἔλεγχε to achieve this effect because ordinarily ἔλεγξον (another form of ἐλέγχω) was to be done with complete patience and instruction.  Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians while absent, so that when I arrive I may not have to deal harshly (ἀποτόμως) with you[15]  All those I love, Jesus said, I rebuke (ἐλέγχω) and discipline[16] (e.g., with complete patience and instruction).  And when he comes, Jesus promised, he [the Advocate] will prove the world wrong (ἐλέγξει, another form of ἐλέγχω) concerning sin and righteousness and judgment[17]  I would like to function in harmony with the Holy Spirit rather than at cross purposes.

I don’t know Justin Lee or any more about him than has been revealed on the Gay Christian website, but this study compels me to consider why I am patient with him.  Whether I do it myself or not, should I desire that he be rebuked before all?  He is a leader.  He has used his insights into Scripture to gather a group of followers.  I’ve already acknowledged that more people leave the body of Christ than join or re-enter in my immediate vicinity.

The only person I know who has ever taken my insights seriously died of a brain tumor when we were thirty-six-years-old.  He was my biggest fan and encouraged me to write down what he and I discussed together.  I refused at that time.  Young and still full of delusions of grandeur I said, “The last thing the world needs is another Protestant sect.”  I don’t recall if I said it or not at the time, but I feel for Martin Luther.  Can you imagine being Martin Luther, standing before Jesus?  He looks you in the face and says, “Lutherans? Really?”

After I wrote this I went to work for nine days.  I couldn’t think much more about this essay, so I read Luther’s “Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians” in my down time.  Though I’ve heard and read about Martin Luther all my life I’d never actually read any of his writings.  I still haven’t.  I didn’t read his commentary in Latin but an abridged translation by Theodore Graebner who only consented to write it if he were “permitted to make Luther talk American, ‘streamline’ him, so to speak–because you will never get people, whether in or outside the Lutheran Church, actually to read Luther unless we make him talk as he would talk today to Americans.”[18]  So what I’ve read may actually be more useful to my understanding than unadulterated Luther since it was considered by it’s author (translator, abridger) and publisher to be popular marketable Luther, published four years before I was born.

Justin Lee under the heading “Prooftext #4: The Abomination (Leviticus 18-20)” wrote: “I’ve heard people quote Leviticus to forbid homosexuality and tattoos, but other than that, people generally don’t turn to Leviticus for moral guidance.”  Luther/Graebner wrote: [19]

Either we are not justified by Christ, or we are not justified by the Law. The fact is, we are justified by Christ. Hence, we are not justified by the Law. If we observe the Law in order to be justified, or after having been justified by Christ, we think we must further be justified by the Law, we convert Christ into a legislator and a minister of sin.

If we are discussing justification Mr. Lee has unflagging support from Luther/Graebner:[20]

Now the true Gospel has it that we are justified by faith alone, without the deeds of the Law. The false gospel has it that we are justified by faith, but not without the deeds of the Law. The false apostles preached a conditional gospel…The true Gospel declares that good works are the embellishment of faith, but that faith itself is the gift and work of God in our hearts. Faith is able to justify, because it apprehends Christ, the Redeemer…

Human reason can think only in terms of the Law. It mumbles: “This I have done, this I have not done.” But faith looks to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, given into death for the sins of the whole world. To turn one’s eyes away from Jesus means to turn them to the Law.

True faith lays hold of Christ and leans on Him alone.

Martin Luther’s perhaps unfortunate[21] saying—faith alone—clearly means “faith in Christ alone.”  As Edward Snowden did to the clandestine services Martin Luther blew the whistle on the inner workings of the monastery: “In their writings [the hypocrites] play up the merits of man, as can readily be seen from the following form of absolution used among the monks,” Luther/Graebner wrote:[22]

“God forgive thee, brother. The merit of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the blessed Saint Mary, always a virgin, and of all the saints; the merit of thy order, the strictness of thy religion, the humility of thy profession, the contrition of thy heart, the good works thou hast done and shalt do for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, be available unto thee for the remission of thy sins, the increase of thy worth and grace, and the reward of everlasting life. Amen.”

Faced with this who among us wouldn’t say, “No, justification is by faith alone”?  Yet the intent of even so blatant a denial of Christ was to assuage the inner guilt of unbelieving hearts, something Luther knew intimately:

The person who can rightly divide Law and Gospel has reason to thank God. He is a true theologian. I must confess that in times of temptation I do not always know how to do it. To divide Law and Gospel means to place the Gospel in heaven, and to keep the Law on earth; to call the righteousness of the Gospel heavenly, and the righteousness of the Law earthly; to put as much difference between the righteousness of the Gospel and that of the Law, as there is difference between day and night. If it is a question of faith or conscience, ignore the Law entirely. If it is a question of works, then lift high the lantern of works and the righteousness of the Law. If your conscience is oppressed with a sense of sin, talk to your conscience. Say: “You are now groveling in the dirt. You are now a laboring ass. Go ahead, and carry your burden. But why don’t you mount up to heaven? There the Law cannot follow you!” Leave the ass burdened with laws behind in the valley. But your conscience, let it ascend with Isaac into the mountain.

In civil life obedience to the law is severely required. In civil life Gospel, conscience, grace, remission of sins, Christ Himself, do not count, but only Moses with the lawbooks. If we bear in mind this distinction, neither Gospel nor Law shall trespass upon each other. The moment Law and sin cross into heaven, i.e., your conscience, kick them out. On the other hand, when grace wanders unto the earth, i.e., into the body, tell grace: “You have no business to be around the dreg and dung of this bodily life. You belong in heaven.”[23]

I’m not sure I could endorse so severe a distinction between “faith or conscience” and “civil life,” so strict a separation of church and state as this.  But I get the concept that a weak conscience is extremely offended by God’s law.  So in that sense I would say a harsh criticism of Mr. Lee is unwarranted if justification is the issue.  A homosexual is justified by faith in Christ just as a man prone to outbursts of anger is justified by faith in Christ.  I’m keying here on the phrase will not inherit the kingdom of God, θεοῦ βασιλείαν οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and βασιλείαν θεοῦ οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν in Galatians 5:21 to equate μαλακοὶ (a form of μαλακός) and ἀρσενοκοῖται (a form of ἀρσενοκοίτης) with θυμοί (a form of θυμός translated outbursts of anger.

Mr. Lee argued under the heading “Prooftext #3: The Sinful ‘Arsenokoitai’ (1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:10)”: “The most likely explanation is that Paul is referring to a practice that was fairly common in the Greek culture of his day — married men who had sex with male youths on the side[24]…many scholars believe that ‘malakoi’ and ‘arsenokoitai’ are meant to be taken together, so that the malakoi are the young men who service the arsenokoitai.”  In my opinion his arguments should be accepted or refuted on their own merits without questioning Mr. Lee’s justification by faith in Jesus Christ.  I don’t intend to argue any of that here.  I’ve already stated my belief that, You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman,[25] still functions as knowledge of sin.  I believe that the civility of that argument is of far more importance spiritually than its outcome.

As long as people who share my belief impugn the justification of people who believe as Mr. Lee believes, more homosexuals will be called to faith (which is not necessarily a bad thing).  Consider what Paul understood about God’s calling (1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NET):

Think about the circumstances of your call, brothers and sisters.  Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position.  But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong.  God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, so that no one can boast in his presence.  He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

What concerns me here is what if we are right?  What if, by constantly harassing and forcing them to defend their justification, we do not give homosexual believers the space and liberty to hear from the Holy Spirit?  I take Martin Luther as my point of departure.  On his website Shameless Popery under the heading “2. Less Catholic, Less Christian,” Joe Heschmeyer wrote:

When Catholics point out that several of Luther’s early writings sound pretty Catholic, the standard Protestant response (and a quite reasonable one, I might add), is that Luther wasn’t completely reformed yet. Even after he went into schism, he spent another quarter-century slowly divesting himself of his Catholic beliefs. But what’s remarkable is that, as Luther became less and less Catholic, he became less and less Christian.

Mr. Heschmeyer diagnosed Luther’s problem as pride but that sounds like begging the question to me.  What was it in Martin Luther’s knowing of Jesus’ Father and Jesus Himself that encouraged or allowed him to become more prideful as he aged?  I’ll pick this up in another essay.

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 7

Back to Who Am I? Part 5

Back to Sowing to the Flesh, Part 1

Back to Sowing to the Flesh, Part 2

[1] Matthew 18:15a (NET)

[2] Matthew 18:15b (NET)

[3] 2 Timothy 4:2 (NET)

[4] Acts 16:4 (NET)

[5] I think this is why Paul called the sin of a man who had his father’s wife πορνεία twice in in 1 Corinthians 5:1.

[6] Acts 15:28, 29 (NET)

[7] Romans 3:20b (NET)

[8] 1 Corinthians 10:23a (NET)

[9] Titus 1:10 (NET)

[10] Matthew 18:16 (NET)

[11] Matthew 18:17a (NET)

[12] 1 Timothy 5:20 (NET)

[13] NET note 14: “Grk ‘those of the circumcision.’ Some translations take this to refer to Jewish converts to Christianity (cf. NAB ‘Jewish Christians’; TEV ‘converts from Judaism’; CEV ‘Jewish followers’) while others are less clear (cf. NLT ‘those who insist on circumcision for salvation’).”

[14] Titus 1:10-13 (NET)

[15] 2 Corinthians 13:10 (NET)

[16] Revelation 3:19a (NET)

[17] John 16:8 (NET)

[18] Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, Martin Luther, translated and abridged by Theodore Graebner, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1949, Preface

[19] Commentary on Galatians 2:17

[20] Commentary on Galatians 2:4, 5

[21] I found this interesting article on his “epistle of straw” comment online.

[22] Commentary on Galatians 2:18

[23] Commentary on Galatians 2:14

[24] This is the meaning of “love” espoused by some in Plato’s Symposium: “For I know not any greater blessing to a young man who is beginning life than a virtuous lover or to the lover than a beloved youth…And if there were only some way of contriving that a state or an army should be made up of lovers and their loves, they would be the very best governors of their own city, abstaining from all dishonour, and emulating one another in honour; and when fighting at each other’s side, although a mere handful, they would overcome the world. For what lover would not choose rather to be seen by all mankind than by his beloved, either when abandoning his post or throwing away his arms? He would be ready to die a thousand deaths rather than endure this. Or who would desert his beloved or fail him in the hour of danger? The veriest coward would become an inspired hero, equal to the bravest, at such a time; Love would inspire him.”

[25] Leviticus 18:22 (NET)

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 6

Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, stole some of the riches [of Jericho which had been devoted to yehôvâh].  The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) was furious (chârâh, ויחר; Septuagint: ἐθυμώθη, a form of θυμόω; ʼaph, אף; Septuagint: ὀργῇ, a form of ὀργή) with the Israelites.[1]  I’m still considering the third occurrence of yirʼâh (ויראתך) in the Bible, the word I’d hoped would distinguish the fear of the Lord from ordinary fear.  I’ve skipped ahead a bit to explore what life was like for Israel under law as the sharp tip of the sword of divine judgment.

I notice right away that Achan stole some of the riches (chêrem, החרם) but yehôvâh was furious with the Israelites (literally, “the sons of Israel”).  Achan’s was the “perfect” crime.  No one but yehôvâh knew what he had done.  For Joshua it was business as usual.  He sent men from Jericho to Ai[2] as spies.  They reported that Ai would be easy to take: Don’t tire out the whole army, for Ai is small, the spies said.  So about three thousand men went up, but they fled from the men of Ai.  The men of Ai killed about thirty-six of them[3]  The impact was immediate and devastating (Joshua 7:5b-9 NET):

The people’s courage melted away (mâsas, וימס) like water.

Joshua tore his clothes; he and the leaders of Israel lay face down on the ground before the ark of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) until evening and threw dirt on their heads.  Joshua prayed, “O, Master (ʼădônây, אדני), Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה)!  Why did you bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites so they could destroy us?  If only we had been satisfied to live on the other side of the Jordan!  O Lord (ʼădônây, אדני), what can I say now that Israel has retreated before its enemies?  When the Canaanites and all who live in the land hear about this, they will turn against us and destroy the very memory of us from the earth.  What will you do to protect your great reputation?”

In the previous essay I wondered “if I should simply accept that yirʼâh, similar to the fruit of the Spirit, comes from God.”  At this particular moment Joshua didn’t believe—This very day I will begin to fill all the people of the earth with dread and to terrify (yirʼâh, ויראתך) them when they hear about you[4]—was a supernatural fear given by yehôvâh.  Clearly, he thought that fear originated from the uninterrupted triumph of Israel’s army: They annihilated with the sword everything that breathed…[5]  The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) responded to Joshua (Joshua 7: 10-12 NET):

Get up!  Why are you lying there face down?  Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenantal commandment!  They have taken some of the riches (chêrem, החרם); they have stolen them and deceitfully put them among their own possessions.  The Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they retreat because they have become subject to annihilation (chêrem, לחרם).  I will no longer be with you, unless you destroy what has contaminated (chêrem, החרם) you.

Here it didn’t matter whether Joshua’s command to the army was yehôvâh’s command or whether Joshua had understood Moses correctly, for yehôvâh took full responsibility for Joshua’s command[6]: Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenantal commandment!  The one caught with the riches (chêrem, בחרם) must be burned up along with all who belong to him, because he violated the Lord’s covenant and did such a disgraceful thing in Israel.[7]  I’ve written about what happened to Achan, his sons, daughters, ox, donkey, sheep, tent, and all that belonged to him[8] elsewhere.  Here I want to consider the alternative.

Achan’s confession reads: I saw among the goods we seized a nice robe from Babylon, two hundred silver pieces, and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels.  I wanted them, so I took them.[9]  Achan was one of the soldiers who annihilated (châram, ויחרימו) with the sword everything that breathed in the city, including men and women, young and old, as well as cattle, sheep, and donkeys.[10]  He had hacked and slashed his way through every living thing in the city to purge out wickedness from the promised land, and then became that wickedness himself.  If we fault yehôvâh for dealing with Achan and all that was his in the way that he had dealt with others we would fault Him just the same for showing Achan mercy (James 2:8-13).

But that was then; this is now (Matthew 18:32-35 NET):

“Then his lord called the first slave and said to him, ‘Evil slave!  I forgave you all that debt because you begged me!  Should you not have shown mercy to your fellow slave, just as I showed it to you?’  And in anger his lord turned him over to the prison guards to torture him until he repaid all he owed.  So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive your brother from your heart.”

This is one of the places from which the fathers of the Catholic Church have derived the doctrine of purgatory.  “I have even heard elderly friends tell me how their Catholic schoolteachers would threaten unruly schoolboys with lurid descriptions of the fires of purgatory!” [11] Robert Stackpole wrote parenthetically.  I didn’t grow up Catholic so I never actually feared this particular passage.  We know that everyone fathered by God does not sin,[12] scared me as an adult returning from atheism.

It has a Logic 101 quality that spoke to me early on.[13]  So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive your brother from your heart—seemed more like a clever turn of a phrase.  By the time it clicked with me it caused no fear, but granted me permission to forgive.  It helped me to locate and distinguish the Holy Spirit from that cacophony of voices, if you will (that variety of impulses, if you will not) inside me.  It gave me strength to stand against my religion and its many reasons for withholding forgiveness: “you will appear weak, they will gain an advantage, they will never learn, they don’t deserve forgiveness, only God can forgive sins,” etc.

If I examine my fear of the knowledge that everyone fathered by God does not sin, the first thing I notice is that it didn’t cause me to flee at that particular moment in my life.  I searched the Bible instead, “looking for loopholes” perhaps but seeking understanding.  The first understanding I received appealed to the philosophical bent of my mind and though it seems like a loophole to many, it helped me to locate and distinguish the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 7:13-20 NET):

Did that which is good, then [e.g., the law], become death to me?  Absolutely not!  But sin, so that it would be shown to be sin, produced death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.  For we know that the law is spiritual – but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin.  For I don’t understand what I am doing.  For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate.  But if I do what I don’t want, I agree (σύμφημι, a form of σύμφημι) that the law is good.  But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me.  For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it.  For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want!  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.

Being led by the Spirit came much more slowly for me.  Mr Stackpole highlighted the problem: “the merits of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross are promised to those who repent in faith.  The real question is, What about those whose repentance was weak and half-hearted…”[14]  Purgatory wasn’t the answer in my religious circle, but the quality and quantity of heavenly rewards.  The “weak and half-hearted” would be “hippies” in the social hierarchy of heaven.  Colin Smith wrote: “I trust that you will want to join me in storing up treasures in heaven, knowing that our righteousness is a gift from God in Christ Jesus, and that we serve a generous God who promises great rewards (100x!) to those who trust him and serve him faithfully.”

I didn’t know that my righteousness is a gift from God and probably thought that would be cheating.  How could my position in the social hierarchy of heaven be a gift from God?  And the common Bible verses quoted seemed at first reading to confirm my understanding of justification by faith and sanctification by my works: If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss.  He himself will be saved, but only as through fire.[15]  Jesus taught, “But God said to him, ‘You fool!  This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  So it is with the one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God.”[16]  And Paul instructed Timothy, Command those who are rich in this world’s goods not to be haughty or to set their hope on riches, which are uncertain, but on God who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment.  Tell them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous givers, sharing with others.  In this way they will save up a treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the future and so lay hold of what is truly life.[17]

Thank God I am such an accomplished sinner.  Praise God that his Holy Spirit would not “help” me earn my social position in heaven by “my” good works as He kept me hungering and thirsting for his righteousness.  I no longer feel any obligation to referee between purgatory and heavenly rewards.  Both explanations were designed to encourage me to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness[18] here and now.  Neither was as effective on me as a hunger and thirst for righteousness,[19] which I assume has come from God.

The alternative—that a hunger and thirst for Jesus’ righteousness originates with me—doesn’t scan.  I’m not that kind of guy.  A desire to be right?  That’s me.  A desire to appear righteous to you?  Okay, that’s probably me, too.  But the hunger and thirst for righteousness which I now have did not originate with me.  So what do I know about yirʼâh?

Well, I’ll start with what I don’t know: I don’t know whether yirʼâh was a supernatural fear from God or the natural result of confronting an army that took no prisoners and captured no slaves.  I know that yirʼâh was effective to accomplish God’s purpose to eradicate the wicked people who inhabited the promised land: It mustered[20] their armies to march to their deaths.  I don’t think Israel had anything like the confidence in yehôvâh which would be required to slaughter a peaceful, welcoming people.  I’m thinking that yirʼâh may have become the one Hebrew word to describe the combination of yârêʼ and ʼâman: they feared (yârêʼ, וייראו) the Lord, and they believed (ʼâman, ויאמינו) in the Lord.[21]  And I have a compelling contrast between Rahab, an Amorite prostitute and innkeeper, who feared yehôvâh and Achan, an Israelite soldier and thief, who did not.

I don’t have the hard-edged definitive kind of knowledge I like but I have enough encouragement to continue studying.  Besides, the hard-edged definitive kind of knowledge I like is really only useful for judging you—which brings me to the most bitter irony: When I take the name of yehôvâh/Jesus in vain by judging you for sins I share I lower the bar (Ezekiel 16:52-63), so to speak, and make it easier, if not expedient, for Him to show you mercy (Romans 11:29-31).  When the Holy Spirit has his way with me and I live his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control[22] I condemn you who are not led by the Spirit of God.[23]  The only way I can live with this most bitter irony, and continue to hunger and thirst for his righteousness, is to pray daily:

“My persistent prayer for justice”[24] for all who call or have called or will call on our Father in heaven[25] “is for the mercy on which everything depends,[26] for it does not depend on human desire or exertion but on You who shows mercy, for You have consigned all to disobedience (ἀπείθειαν, a form of ἀπείθεια) so that You may show mercy to all.”[27]

If He can save an accomplished sinner such as I am, I see no reason or excuse why He can’t or shouldn’t save a sinner like you.

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 7

Back to Everyone Fathered by God Does Not Sin

Back to Who Am I? Part 5

Back to Conclusion

[1] Joshua 7:1b (NET)

[2] Joshua 7:2a (NET)

[3] Joshua 7:3b-5a (NET)

[4] Deuteronomy 2:25a (NET)

[5] Joshua 6:21a (NET)

[6] Joshua 6:16-19 (NET)

[7] Joshua 7:15 (NET)

[8] Joshua 7:24 (NET)

[9] Joshua 7:21a (NET)

[10] Joshua 6:21a (NET)

[11] What’s All This Talk of ‘Purgatorial Purification’? Part 2

[12] 1 John 5:18a (NET)

[13] It’s been a long time since I took Logic 101 so I checked again online that modus tollens is valid and found a reasonable exception.

[14] What’s All This Talk of ‘Purgatorial Purification’? Part 2

[15] 1 Corinthians 3:15 (NET)

[16] Luke 12:20, 21 (NET)

[17] 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NET)

[18] Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

[19] Matthew 5:6 (NET)

[20] King Sihon was hardened for this purpose.

[21] Exodus 14:31 (NET)

[22] Galatians 5:22, 23 (NET)

[23] Romans 8:14 (NET)

[24] Luke 18:1-8 (NET)

[25] Matthew 6:9-14 (NET)

[26] Romans 9:14-16 (NET)

[27] Romans 11:28-36 (NET)

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 5

Get up, make your way across Wadi Arnon,[1] Moses’ account of the words yehôvâh (יהוה) spoke to him after all the military men had been eliminated from the community[2] continued.  Look!  I have already delivered over to you Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land.  Go ahead!  Take it!  Engage him in war!  This very day I will begin to fill all the people of the earth with dread and to terrify them when they hear about you.  They will shiver and shake in anticipation of your approach.[3]

The Hebrew word translated and to terrify was yirʼâh (ויראתך), the word I’d hoped would distinguish the fear of the Lord from ordinary fear.  In English to fill all the people of the earth with dread and to terrify them, causes me to wonder if I should simply accept that yirʼâh, similar to the fruit of the Spirit, comes from God, like the song says: “’twas Grace that taught, my heart to fear.  And grace, my fears relieved.”  The Hebrew word translated to fill was nâthan (תת).  It was also translated I have already delivered (נתתי) in I have already delivered over to you Sihon the Amorite, and is giving (נתן) in the land the Lord our God is giving us.[4]

The Hebrew word translated engage in Engage him in war was gârâh (והתגר), to grate, to anger, to cause strife, stir up, contend, meddle.  Moses’ tactic was to send messengers with an offer of peace.

Numbers 21:21, 22 (NET)

Deuteronomy 2:26-29 (NET)

Then Israel sent messengers to King Sihon of the Amorites, saying, “Let us pass through your land; we will not turn aside into the fields or into the vineyards, nor will we drink water from any well, but we will go along the King’s Highway until we pass your borders.” Then I sent messengers from the Kedemoth Desert to King Sihon of Heshbon with an offer of peace:  “Let me pass through your land; I will keep strictly to the roadway.  I will not turn aside to the right or the left.  Sell me food for cash so that I can eat and sell me water to drink.  Just allow me to go through on foot, just as the descendants of Esau who live at Seir and the Moabites who live in Ar did for me, until I cross the Jordan to the land the Lord our God is giving us.”

I admit to wondering whether Moses’ tactic betrayed his unfaithfulness toward yehôvâh, or duplicity toward King Sihon.  Either way it didn’t alter the outcome.

Numbers 21:23a (NET)

Deuteronomy 2:30, 31 (NET)

But Sihon did not permit Israel to pass through his border… But King Sihon of Heshbon was unwilling to allow us to pass near him…
…because the Lord our God had made him obstinate and stubborn so that he might deliver him over to you this very day.  The Lord said to me, “Look!  I have already begun to give over Sihon and his land to you.  Start right now to take his land as your possession.”
…he gathered all his forces together and went out against Israel into the wilderness.

It didn’t matter because the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) our God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיך) had made him obstinate, literally, hardened his spirit.  The Hebrew word for hardened was qâshâh (הקשה), translated ἐσκλήρυνεν (a form of σκληρύνω) in the Septuagint.  He also had made Sihon stubborn, literally, made his heart obstinate.  The Hebrew word for obstinate was ʼâmats (ואמץ), to be strong, alert, courageous, brave, stout, bold.  It was translated  κατίσχυσεν (a form of κατισχύω) in the Septuagint.[5]  Look!  I have already begun to give over Sihon and his land to you, yehôvâh reiterated.  Start right now to take his land as your possession.

Numbers 21:23b, 24a (NET)

Deuteronomy 2:32-35 (NET)

When he came to Jahaz, he fought against Israel. When Sihon and all his troops emerged to encounter us in battle at Jahaz…
But the Israelites defeated him in battle… …the Lord our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, along with his sons and everyone else.
At that time we seized all his cities and put every one of them under divine judgment, including even the women and children; we left no survivors.  We kept only the livestock and plunder from the cities for ourselves.

We call this genocide and fault yehôvâh for commanding it (or assume that He did not).  I won’t mount an elaborate defense here except to say that this is how law works to purge out wickedness (Deuteronomy 21:18-21 NET):

If a person has a stubborn, rebellious son who pays no attention to his father or mother, and they discipline him to no avail, his father and mother must seize him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his city.  They must declare to the elders of his city, “Our son is stubborn and rebellious and pays no attention to what we say – he is a glutton and drunkard.”  Then all the men of his city must stone him to death.  In this way you will purge out wickedness from among you, and all Israel will hear about it and be afraid (yârêʼ, ויראו).

So that was then; this is now (Matthew 5:38-48 NET):

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, do not resist the evildoer.  But whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well.  And if someone wants to sue you and to take your tunic, give him your coat also.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not reject the one who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they?  And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do?  Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they?  So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Fankly, in our natural selves we care little more for the latter than the former commandment.  We are like children sitting in the marketplaces who call out to one another, “We played the flute for you, yet you did not dance; we wailed in mourning, yet you did not weep.”[6]  But before we call yehôvâh cruel or Jesus naïve, we who want to follow Him would do well to deny ourselves.  When we do we may notice that the Israelites defeated [Sihon] in battle because the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) our God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהינו) delivered him over to [them]:

Numbers 21:24b-26a, 31, 32 (NET)

Deuteronomy 2:36, 37 (NET)

…and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the Ammonites, for the border of the Ammonites was strongly defended. From Aroer, which is at the edge of Wadi Arnon (it is the city in the wadi), all the way to Gilead there was not a town able to resist us – the Lord our God gave them all to us.
So Israel took all these cities; and Israel settled in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all its villages.  For Heshbon was the city of King Sihon of the Amorites…
So the Israelites lived in the land of the Amorites.  Moses sent spies to reconnoiter Jaazer, and they captured its villages and dispossessed the Amorites who were there.
However, you did not approach the land of the Ammonites, the Wadi Jabbok, the cities of the hill country, or any place else forbidden by the Lord our God.

In other words, here Israel obeyed yehôvâh, killing only those who were under divine judgment (châram, ונחרם) and taking only the land that was promised.  The law reads: Whoever sacrifices to a god other than the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה) alone must be utterly destroyed (châram).[7]  Nevertheless no devoted offering (chêrem, חרם) that a man may devote (châram, יחרם) to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה) of all that he has, both man and beast, or the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted offering is (chêrem, חרם) most holy to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה).  No person under the ban (chêrem, חרם), who may become doomed to destruction (châram, יחרם) among men, shall be redeemed, but shall surely be put to death.[8]

If we stop blaspheming yehôvâh for a moment, thinking He has no right to make such laws, we can begin—using the very laws I quoted above—to grasp what He meant when He spoke through the prophet Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 20:11 (NASB) Ezekiel 20:25 (NASB)
I gave them My statutes and informed them of My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live. I also gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not live…

We aren’t told how many parents, if any, brought their drunken rebellious sons before the elders of the city that they might be stoned to death.  I can surmise that some parents remained silent or lied about them, while others with means bribed elders to redeem them.  It’s fairly clear that many a drunken rebellious son rose to become an elder who led the people of Israel into πορνεία (Ezekiel 20:28, 30 NASB):

When I had brought them into the land which I swore to give to them, then they saw every high hill and every leafy tree, and they offered there their sacrifices and there they presented the provocation of their offering.  There also they made their soothing aroma and there they poured out their drink offerings…Therefore, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your fathers and play the harlot (zânâh, זנים; Septuagint: ἐκπορνεύετε, a form of ἐκπορνεύω) after their detestable things?

Paul wrote about the law in ways quite similar to yehôvâh’s words through Ezekiel.

Romans 7:10b (NET) Galatians 3:21b (NET)
So I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life brought death! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.

I wrote about this elsewhere.  Here I want to skip ahead to begin to explore what life was like for Israel under law as the sharp tip of the sword of divine judgment, and to present an example of yirʼâh which resulted in fear and faith in yehôvâh.  Outside Jericho just before the rams’ horns sounded and the city’s wall collapsed, Joshua gave the army of Israel the following command (Joshua 6:17-19 NET):

The city and all that is in it must be set apart (chêrem, חרם) for the Lord, except for Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house, because she hid the spies we sent.  But be careful when you are setting (châram, תחרימו) apart the riches (chêrem, החרם) for the Lord.  If you take any (chêrem, החרם) of it, you will make the Israelite camp subject to annihilation (chêrem, לחרם) and cause a disaster.  All the silver and gold, as well as bronze and iron items, belong to the Lord.  They must go into the Lord’s treasury.

I looked to see if yehôvâh commanded this.  So far all I’ve found was Moses’ command: You must burn the images of their gods, but do not covet the silver and gold that covers them so much that you take it for yourself and thus become ensnared by it; for it is abhorrent to the Lord your God.  You must not bring any abhorrent thing into your house and thereby become an object of divine wrath along with it.  You must absolutely detest and abhor it (chêrem, חרם), for it is an object of divine wrath (chêrem).[9]  A few commentators considered Jericho a kind of first fruits offering to yehôvâh.

The exception made for Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house is interesting.  The somewhat crass tit-for-tat cited above—because she hid the spies we sent—doesn’t quite tell the whole story (Joshua 2:1-7 NET).

Joshua son of Nun sent two spies out from Shittim secretly and instructed them: “Find out what you can about the land, especially Jericho.”  They stopped at the house of a prostitute (zânâh, זונה; Septuagint: πόρνης, a form of πόρνη) named Rahab and spent the night there.  The king of Jericho received this report: “Note well!  Israelite men have come here tonight to spy on the land.”  So the king of Jericho sent this order to Rahab: “Turn over the men who came to you – the ones who came to your house – for they have come to spy on the whole land!”  But the woman hid the two men and replied, “Yes, these men were clients of mine, but I didn’t know where they came from.  When it was time to shut the city gate for the night, the men left.  I don’t know where they were heading.  Chase after them quickly, for you have time to catch them!”  (Now she had taken them up to the roof and had hidden them in the stalks of flax she had spread out on the roof.)  Meanwhile the king’s men tried to find them on the road to the Jordan River near the fords.  The city gate was shut as soon as they set out in pursuit of them.

What she did is exactly as Joshua reported.  As James asked rhetorically, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another way?[10]  But I think her reasons, why she defied her king to do what she did, are far more interesting in this study of yirʼâh (Joshua 2:8-13 NET).

Now before the spies went to sleep, Rahab went up to the roof.  She said to the men, “I know the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) is handing this land over to you.  We are absolutely terrified (ʼêymâh, אימתכם) of you, and all who live in the land are cringing (mûg, נמגו) before you.  For we heard how the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you left Egypt and how you annihilated the two Amorite kings, Sihon and Og, on the other side of the Jordan.  When we heard the news we lost our courage (mâsas, וימס) and no one could even breathe for fear of you.  For the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) your God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיכם) is God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) in heaven above and on earth below!  So now, promise me this with an oath sworn in the Lord’s (yehôvâh, ביהוה) name.  Because I have shown allegiance (chêsêd, חסד; Septuagint: ἔλεος, literally, mercy) to you, show allegiance (chêsêd, חסד; Septuagint: ἔλεος, literally, mercy) to my family.  Give me a solemn pledge  that you will spare the lives of my father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all who belong to them, and rescue us from death.”

Though Rahab didn’t use all of Moses’ words, given her testimony—the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below—and her plea for mercy, I feel confident thinking that she feared (yârêʼ, וייראו) the Lord, and [she] believed (ʼâman, ויאמינו) in the Lord.[11]  She was as saved as anyone in Israel: Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, her father’s family, and all who belonged to her.  She lives in Israel to this very day because she hid the messengers Joshua sent to spy on Jericho.[12]  As the writer of Hebrews declared: By faith Rahab the prostitute escaped the destruction of the disobedient, because she welcomed the spies in peace.[13]  Everyone else: Israel annihilated (châram, ויחרימו) with the sword everything that breathed in the city, including men and women, young and old, as well as cattle, sheep, and donkeysthey burned the city and all that was in it, except for the silver, gold, and bronze and iron items they put in the treasury of the Lord’s house.[14]

But the Israelites disobeyed the command about the city’s riches.  Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, stole some of the riches.[15]  I’ll continue this in another essay.

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 6

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 7

[1] Deuteronomy 2:24a (NET)

[2] Deuteronomy 2:16 (NET)

[3] Deuteronomy 2:24b-25 (NET)

[4] Deuteronomy 2:29b (NET)

[5] A translation of the Septuagint reads: hardened his spirit and prevailed over his heart.

[6] Matthew 11:16b, 17 (NET)

[7] Exodus 22:20 (NET)

[8] Leviticus 27:28, 29 (NKJV)

[9] Deuteronomy 7:25, 26 (NET)

[10] James 2:25 (NET)

[11] Exodus 14:31 (NET)

[12] Joshua 6:25 (NET)  This verse also provides a clue that Joshua was written during Rahab’s lifetime.  See: “An Introduction to the Book of Joshua

[13] Hebrews 11:31 (NET)

[14] Joshua 6:21, 24 (NET)

[15] Joshua 7:1a (NET)

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 4

I’m considering the third occurrence of yirʼâh (ויראתך) in the Bible, the word I’d hoped would distinguish the fear of the Lord from ordinary fear: This very day, yehôvâh (יהוה) said to Moses, I will begin to fill all the people of the earth with dread and to terrify them when they hear about you.  They will shiver and shake in anticipation of your approach.[1]  I want to consider it in context, not only for Moses and Israel but for us as well (Deuteronomy 2:16-19 NET).

So it was that after all the military men had been eliminated from the community, the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) said to me, “Today you are going to cross the border of Moab, that is, of Ar.  But when you come close to the Ammonites, do not harass or provoke them because I am not giving you any of the Ammonites’ land as your possession; I have already given it to Lot’s descendants as their possession.”

I am not giving you any of the Ammonites’ land as your possession, yehôvâh said to Moses.  As a lapsed atheist who has read Nietzsche I assume that isn’t true.  What probably happened was that Israel attempted to take the Ammonites’ land but failed.  So leaders like Moses made up this conversation with God after the fact to keep the peoples’ spirits (and taste for battle) up.  The word for this assumption is unbelief.

If anyone wants to become my follower, Jesus said, he must deny (ἀπαρνησάσθω, a form of ἀπαρνέομαι) himself[2]  I tell you the truth, Jesus said to Peter, on this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny (ἀπαρνήσῃ, another form of ἀπαρνέομαι) me three times.[3]  I do not know the man![4] Peter said.  I do not know the lapsed atheist who has read Nietzsche and assumes that the Bible is false.

The first thing that happens is I hear yehôvâh’s next statement differently than I might have heard it before: I have already given it to Lot’s descendants as their possession.  It prompts a question.  If yehôvâh gave land to the Ammonites’ and yehôvâh is giving land to Israel, does yehôvâh give land to all people?  Frankly, I don’t plan to pursue that question at the moment.  My point is that even an imitation of faith as simple as denying my native unbelief changes my approach to Scripture.  Moses continued with what seems at first like a nonessential aside[5] (Deuteronomy 2:20-23 NET):

(That also is considered to be a land of the Rephaites.  The Rephaites lived there originally; the Ammonites call them Zamzummites.  They are a people as powerful, numerous, and tall as the Anakites.  But the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) destroyed the Rephaites in advance of the Ammonites, so they dispossessed them and settled down in their place.  This is exactly what he did for the descendants of Esau who lived in Seir when he destroyed the Horites before them so that they could dispossess them and settle in their area to this very day.  As for the Avvites who lived in settlements as far west as Gaza, Caphtorites who came from Crete destroyed them and settled down in their place.)

This becomes a bit clearer if I skip ahead to another “nonessential aside” (Deuteronomy 3:11 NET):

Only King Og of Bashan was left of the remaining Rephaites.  (It is noteworthy that his sarcophagus was made of iron.  Does it not, indeed, still remain in Rabbath of the Ammonites?  It is thirteen and a half feet long and six feet wide according to standard measure.)

All the people we saw there are of great stature, those who spied out the promised land had said to discourage Israel.  We even saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak came from the Nephilim), and we seemed liked grasshoppers both to ourselves and to them.[6]  So the knowledge—that yehôvâh destroyed the Rephaites in advance, a people as tall as the Anakites, so the Ammonites (a people presumably more Israel’s stature) could displace them—was presented to encourage Israel and give them confidence in yehôvâh.  Here, I think, Moses may have spoken more than the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) had instructed him to do,[7] but I can hear the man’s heart for his people.

Moses would not be among them when they entered the promised land.  Why?  Because you did not trust me enough to show me as holy before the Israelites, yehôvâh had said to Moses and Aaron.[8]  The Hebrew word translated you didtrust me enough was ʼâman.[9]  Moses had already diagnosed Israel’s problem: However, through all this you did not have confidence (ʼâman, מאמינם) in the Lord your God, the one who was constantly going before you to find places for you to set up camp.  He appeared by fire at night and cloud by day, to show you the way you ought to go.[10]

Moses didn’t originate this diagnosis, he had heard it from yehôvâh (Numbers 14:11 NET):

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me, and how long will they not believe (ʼâman, יאמינו) in me, in spite of the signs that I have done among them?”

In this, yehôvâh spoke in a way that was very near to Moses’ own heart, for Moses himself had asked (Exodus 4:1-9 NET):

“And if they do not believe (ʼâman, יאמינו) me or pay attention to me, but say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you’?”  The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”  He said, “A staff.”  The Lord said, “Throw it to the ground.”  So he threw it to the ground, and it became a snake, and Moses ran from it.  But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and grab it by the tail” – so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand – “that they may believe (ʼâman, יאמינו) that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

The Lord also said to him, “Put your hand into your robe.”  So he put his hand into his robe, and when he brought it out – there was his hand, leprous like snow!  He said, “Put your hand back into your robe.”  So he put his hand back into his robe, and when he brought it out from his robe – there it was, restored like the rest of his skin!  “If they do not believe (ʼâman, יאמינו) you or pay attention to the former sign, then they may believe (ʼâman, והאמינו) the latter sign.  And if they do not believe (ʼâman, יאמינו) even these two signs or listen to you, then take some water from the Nile and pour it out on the dry ground.  The water you take out of the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

Aaron[11] spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people, and the people believed (ʼâman, ויאמן).  When they heard that the Lord had attended to the Israelites and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed down close to the ground.[12]  Moses wrote about the impact crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 14) had upon Israel: So the Lord saved Israel on that day from the power of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the shore of the sea.  When Israel saw the great power that the Lord had exercised over the Egyptians, they feared (yârêʼ, וייראו) the Lord, and they believed (ʼâman, ויאמינו) in the Lord and in his servant Moses.[13]  I have a hunch that combination of yârêʼ and ʼâman may prove to be important.

Finally, The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and so that they will always believe (ʼâman, יאמינו) in you.”[14]  And so I think what I’m seeing in these “nonessential asides” was Moses’ attempt to return the favor, to transfer the faith in Moses yehôvâh had given Israel back to yehôvâh Himself.  Moses couldn’t do this with signs he was incapable of performing apart from yehôvâh’s spirit.  He did it with recent history and an artifact with which the people were already familiar.

I, of course, am not familiar with giants, though I’ve heard it’s a bit intimidating to get on an elevator with a pro basketball team. The NET was unique in translating ʽereś (repeated twice, ערשׁ וערשׁ) sarcophagus.  Their reason, offered in a footnote (19), has nothing to do with Hebrew grammar or syntax but an article from the Biblical Archaeology Society (which is not available for free online).  I’ve included a few free articles from different perspectives, followed by a table of the translation of ʽereś in the NET at the end of this essay.

Herodotus recorded the following story of a smith who set out to dig a well: “I came upon a coffin seven cubits long.  I had never believed that men were taller in the olden times than they are now, so I opened the coffin.  The body inside was of the same length: I measured it, and filled up the hole again.”[15]   I’m not going to solve the issue of giants here.  I do think it’s important to keep an open mind on the subject.  But what I will pursue a bit is The Book of King Og recently partially published online.

First, The Book of King Og online is fiction: “I let them know that when King Og of Bashan is being quoted, that those are my words,” Peter Demmon wrote on his blog.  Though I haven’t found confirmation I assume Father Martin, the Vatican translator of The Book of King Og, is also a literary creation of Mr. Demmon’s, a talented writer.  But I didn’t know any of this when I stumbled across it.  The introduction read:

THE BOOK OF KING OG is referenced by association throughout (relatively) recent history, perhaps most notably in the NEW HISTORY OF ECCLESIASTICAL WRITERS published in 1693. In this reference book, the BOOK OF KING OG is described as, “Forged by Jews and Hereticks both Fabulous and Erroneous.” What I have come to conclude is that this has been a mistaken suppression of key Biblical knowledge by the Catholic Church.

With an introduction like that I read it as apocryphal—looking for the reasons it wasn’t included in the Bible—rather than as Scripture—looking for the reasons it was included in the Bible.  The most obvious reasons for rejecting its authenticity are the many twisted quotes from Scriptures that were written after King Og’s death.  An example from the prophecy of King Og follows:

THE PROPHECY OF KING OG: BAAL OF THE EARTH

NET

Do not be afraid, for I am Baal of the earth.  The first and the last.   I am the living one.  I am alive forever and ever.

2B:9

Do not be afraid!  I am the first and the last, and the one who lives!  I was dead, but look, now I am alive – forever and ever…

Revelation 1:17b, 18a

I, Baal of the earth know your works, your toils and your patient endurance with the abomination.  I know that you cannot tolerate the circumcision. I know that you have tested the Rephaim that claim to be whole-membered and found some to be false.

2B:10, 11

I know your works as well as your labor and steadfast endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil.  You have even put to the test those who refer to themselves as apostles (but are not), and have discovered that they are false.

Revelation 2:2

It is to your credit that you hate Nimrod, who I also hate.

2B:12

But you do have this going for you: You hate what the Nicolaitans practice – practices I also hate.

Revelation 2:6

I, Baal of the earth, know of your affliction and of the [Moonchild].  I know that the slander of the circumcised is spoken against you.

2B:13

I know the distress you are suffering and your poverty (but you are rich).  I also know the slander against you by those who call themselves Jews and really are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

Revelation 2:9

Do not fear for the war that you are about to suffer.  Be faithful to Baal of the earth and abhor circumcision until your death and I will give you rewards.

2B:14

Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer.  The devil is about to have some of you thrown into prison so you may be tested, and you will experience suffering for ten days. Remain faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown that is life itself.

Revelation 2:10

Let he who has ears listen to what Baal of the earth has to say through his servant Og.

2B:15

The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Revelation 2:11a

My conclusion that the writing of Revelation preceded the writing of The Book of Og took little more than a childlike faith that the resurrected Jesus didn’t twist the prophecy of King Og of Bashan.  Since I’ve been looking at texts translated from Hebrew and Greek it also seemed that King Og’s quotes had been lifted directly from contemporary English rather than translated from an ancient language.  That prompted me to search out more about Peter Demmon and Father Martin.

The website timetobelieve.com posted a portion of The Book of King Og last year, realized “it may indeed be a hoax” and added the following disclaimer: “We strongly suggest you study the actual biblical writings…”  I agree wholeheartedly.  Ultimately, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.[16]  Still, Moses attempted to encourage Israel’s faith recalling how yehôvâh destroyed the Rephaites in advance for the Ammonites and the Horites for the descendants of Esau.  Perhaps he even appealed to Israel’s vanity that Avvites who lived in settlements as far west as Gaza were destroyed by Caphtorites[17] without any mention of yehôvâh.

I confess that I’ve needed to look outside of the Bible to overcome my objections to the Bible at times, too.  I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves,[18] Jesus told his disciples.  I think we can heed this when studying outside of the Bible as well.  Too often we critique the Bible endlessly and then turn around and accept the oracular pronouncements of historians or scientists completely uncritically.

An argument from “The Bed of Og” why the “iron bed” could not have been made of iron (barzel, ברזל) is a case in point: “Because of the very high melting point of iron, the casting of molten iron was impossible using the technology of the ancient world.”  This logic is fatally flawed and must be restated: Because of the very high melting point of iron, the casting of molten iron was impossible using [any known] technology of the ancient world.  This gives one a much better grasp of the actual situation.  It is tentative, provisional knowledge practically begging to be overturned by a future discovery.  Stating it as positivist dogma doesn’t alter that fact.  It’s a kind of faith—faith that all that can be known about ancient technology is already known—that runs counter to researchers’ experience in any field.

If one accepts the oracle that “the casting of molten iron was impossible using the technology of the ancient world” then one must also consider that the comparison of Egypt to an iron-smelting furnace was added much later than the time of Moses.  At the same time it’s important to remember that the word written in the Bible is barzel not iron.  Whether what we know as iron is a legitimate translation of barzel may be arguable.  (A table of the NET translations of barzel to this point in Deuteronomy follows at the end of this essay.)  I’ll consider a recent example from an article in New Scientist for comparison.

“Long-lost continent found submerged deep under Indian Ocean,” the headline reads.  I might suppose that geologists in a submarine found a long lost continent, swam out in scuba gear and planted their flag.  There are two actual discoveries listed in the article: 1) “some parts of the Indian Ocean were found to have stronger gravitational fields than others” and 2) “Although Mauritius is only 8 million years old, some zircon crystals on the island’s beaches are almost 2 billion years old…Ashwal and his team have found zircon crystals in Mauritius that are up to 3 billion years old.”

One way to view these discoveries is as evidence that contradicts current knowledge.  Continental crust tends to be thicker and denser than oceanic crust, hence “stronger gravitational fields.”  If radiometric dating is an accurate measure of time, then the discovery of 3 billion-year-old crystals on an 8 million-year-old island requires some explanation.  And the rest of the article is composed of stories to explain these discoveries in the light of current knowledge, created largely out of a faith in current knowledge.

I suggested earlier my own practice—denying myself—when I have objections to the content of Scripture.  But this self-denial is not faith as Paul described it (perhaps it qualifies as my faith).  It is a stopgap that keeps me immersed in God’s word (sometimes I go to bed with a headache), where I have an opportunity to hear, until the faith that is an aspect of the fruit of his Spirit fills me.  And so often that faith comes when I’m digging into the details (or sleeping off a headache from digging into the details).

This may be entirely personal, but I’ll share it anyway: I find that when I’m relying on my faith I react to objections angrily or defensively.  When I’m relying on the faith that is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit I react to objections with a smile or a chuckle.  I’ll  continue with the context of this third occurrence of yirʼâh in another essay.

Free Online Articles About Og’s Iron Bed

The Bed of Og http://jbqnew.jewishbible.org/assets/Uploads/401/jbq_401_og.pdf
Og’s Bed http://www.esra-magazine.com/blog/post/ogs-bed
Colavito, Hanks, and Giants: Some Interaction by Heiser http://drmsh.com/colavito-hanks-and-giants-some-interaction-by-heiser/
Giants in the Old Testament https://answersingenesis.org/bible-characters/giants-in-the-old-testament/

 

Reference

Form of ʽereś

Translation in NET

Deuteronomy 3:11 ערשׁ וערשׁ It is noteworthy that his sarcophagus was made of iron.
Job 7:13 ערשׁי If I say, “My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint”…
Psalm 6:6 ערשׁי …my tears saturate the cushion beneath me.
Psalm 41:3 ערשׁ The Lord supports him on his sickbed
Psalm132:3 ערשׁ יצועי He said, “I will not enter my own home, or get into my bed.”
Proverbs 7:16 ערשׁי I have spread my bed with elegant coverings…
Song of Songs 1:16 ערשׁנו The lush foliage is our canopied bed
Amos 3:12 ערשׁ They will be left with just a corner of a bed, and a part of a couch.
Amos 6:4 ערשׁותם …lie around on beds decorated with ivory, and sprawl out on their couches.

 

Reference

Form of barzel

Translation in NET

Genesis 4:22 וברזל …heated metal and shaped all kinds of tools made of bronze and iron.
Leviticus 26:19 כברזל I will break your strong pride and make your sky like iron
Numbers 31:22 הברזל Only the gold, the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin, and the lead…
Numbers 35:16 ברזל But if he hits someone with an iron tool so that he dies…
Deuteronomy 3:11 ברזל It is noteworthy that his sarcophagus was made of iron.
Deuteronomy 4:20 הברזל …Lord has selected and brought from Egypt, that iron-smelting furnace…

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 5

Back to David’s Forgiveness, Part 2

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 7

[1] Deuteronomy 2:25 (NET)

[2] Mark 8:34 (NET)

[3] Matthew 26:34 (NET)

[4] Matthew 26:72 (NET)

[5] I had intended to skip this but was overruled.

[6] Numbers 13:32b, 33 (NET)

[7] Deuteronomy 1:3b (NET)  See: Deuteronomy, Part 1

[8] Numbers 20:12a (NET)

[9] It was translated ἐπιστεύσατε (a form of πιστεύω) in Greek in the Septuagint.

[10] Deuteronomy 1:32, 33 (NET)

[11] For an explanation why Aaron spoke and performed the signs rather than Moses see Exodus 4:10-17 (NET).

[12] Exodus 4:30, 31 (NET)

[13] Exodus 14:30, 31 (NET)

[14] Exodus 19:9 (NET)

[15] http://classics.mit.edu/Herodotus/history.1.i.html

[16] Romans 10:17 (NKJV) I’ve written about my understanding of this in Romans, Part 39 and Romans, Part 13.

[17] Stephen Caesar wrote an article in Jewish Bible Quarterly linking Caphtorites with Philistines, some of whom were rather large as well.

[18] Matthew 10:16 (NET)

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 3

This very day, yehôvâh (יהוה) said to Moses, I will begin to fill all the people of the earth with dread and to terrify them when they hear about you.  They will shiver and shake in anticipation of your approach.[1]  This very day was past as Moses recounted Israel’s history, the not-so-distant past, after all the military men had been eliminated from the community.[2]  The Hebrew word translated and to terrify was yirʼâh (ויראתך), the word I had hoped would distinguish the fear of the Lord from ordinary fear.  It was off to a good start.

When Abimelech confronted Abraham for misleading him whether Sarah was his wife, Abraham said, “Because I thought, ‘Surely no one fears (yirʼâh, יראת) God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) in this place.’”[3]  Abraham assumed that those who did not fear God would kill him to take his beautiful wife and those who fear God would not.  But he had completely misjudged Abimelech, who feared God very much (Genesis 20:2-7 NET):

Abraham said about his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.”  So Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent for Sarah and took her.  But God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) appeared to Abimelech in a dream at night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken, for she is someone else’s wife.”  Now Abimelech had not gone near her.  He said, “Lord (ʼădônây, אדני), would you really slaughter an innocent nation?  Did Abraham not say to me, ‘She is my sister’?  And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’  I have done this with a clear conscience and with innocent hands!”

Then in the dream God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, האלהים) replied to him, “Yes, I know that you have done this with a clear conscience.  That is why I have kept you from sinning against me and why I did not allow you to touch her.  But now give back the man’s wife.  Indeed he is a prophet and he will pray for you; thus you will live.  But if you don’t give her back, know that you will surely die along with all who belong to you.”

The next morning when Abimelech told his servants about the dream they were terrified (yârêʼ, וייראו + meʼôd).[4]  Abimelech’s yirʼâh was no mere emotion but resulted in concrete acts (Genesis 20:14-18 NET):

So Abimelech gave sheep, cattle, and male and female servants to Abraham.  He also gave his wife Sarah back to him.  Then Abimelech said, “Look, my land is before you; live wherever you please.”

To Sarah he said, “Look, I have given a thousand pieces of silver to your ‘brother.’  This is compensation for you so that you will stand vindicated before all who are with you.”

Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, as well as his wife and female slaves so that they were able to have children.  For the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) had caused infertility to strike every woman in the household of Abimelech because he took Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

If this were the only mention of yirʼâh I would say that fearing God is the answer, no need for Jesus to die.  So long as people fear God and He intercedes with a threatening dream and yehôvâh inflicts limited reversible bodily harm the kingdom of God can last forever as a police state.  But I’m probably extrapolating too far.  Realistically, this fear and threatening dream and reversible bodily harm prevented one adultery.  That is a long way from universal righteousness.

God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) spoke all these words: “I, the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), am your God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיך), who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.[5]  After yehôvâh spoke the ten commandments, Moses said to the people, “Do not fear (yârêʼ, תיראו), for God has come to test you, that the fear (yirʼâh, יראתו) of him may be before you so that you do not sin.”[6]  The commandments begin (Exodus 20:3-6 NET):

“You shall have no other gods (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) before me.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water below.  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), your God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיך), am a jealous God (ʼêl, אל), responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me, and showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love (ʼâhab, לאהבי) me and keep my commandments.”

The first occurrence of ʼâhab in the Bible was Abraham’s love (אהבת; Genesis 22:2) for Sarah’s son Isaac.  Isaac loved (ויאהבה; Genesis 24:67) Rebekah and (ויאהב; Genesis 25:28) Esau his son while Rebekah loved (אהבת) his brother Jacob.  Isaac also had a love (אהבתי; Genesis 27:4 – אהב; Genesis 27:9 – אהב; Genesis 27:14) for tasty food.  Jacob had fallen in love (ויאהב; Genesis 29:18) with Rachel.  Working for her father for seven years to acquire her seemed like only a few days to him because his love (באהבתו; Genesis 29:20) for her was so great.  Jacob loved (ויאהב; Genesis 29:30) Rachel more than Leah.  After she gave birth to Reuben, Leah thought surely Jacob will love (יאהבני; Genesis 29:32) me now, but he loved (אהב; Genesis 37:3) Joseph, Rachel’s firstborn, more than all his sonsWhen Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved (ʼâhab, אהב) him more than any of them, they hated Joseph and were not able to speak to him kindly.[7]  They got rid of Joseph but acknowledged to him years later (though they didn’t recognize him yet) their father’s love for his younger brother Benjamin (Genesis 44:20 NET):

We have an aged father, and there is a young boy who was born when our father was old.  The boy’s brother is dead.  He is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves (ʼâhab, אהבו) him.

Introduced here in the ten commandments just as the forty-day limit of the yirʼâh of God to restrain sin was about to be made evident, the partiality of Jacob’s ʼâhab, his love for a favorite wife and favorite sons, would have been a step in the right direction if his descendants had loved yehôvâh as their favorite God and kept his commandments.  If you love me, Jesus told his disciples, you will obey my commandments.[8]  I spent too much of my life trying to obey his commandments to prove that I loved Him.  But here I want to contrast this statement to his former statement in the ten commandments.

Exodus 20:6 (NET)

Septuagint John 14:15 (NET)

Parallel Greek

…who love me and keep my commandments. ἀγαπῶσίν με καὶ τοῖς φυλάσσουσιν τὰ προστάγματά[9] μου If you love me, you will obey my commandments. Ἐὰν ἀγαπᾶτε με, τὰς ἐντολὰς (a form of ἐντολή) τὰς ἐμὰς τηρήσετε

Under law love me and keep my commandments are joined by the conjunction and (Greek: καὶ), two different things on my to-do list.  Under grace you will obey my commandments is a promise predicated on if you love me.  The difference is the meaning of love, not the difference of the meaning of ʼâhab in Hebrew and ἀγαπάω in Greek.  Both ἀγαπῶσιν and ἀγαπᾶτε above are forms of ἀγαπάω.[10]    But ʼâhab (translated ἀγαπῶσιν) was used to describe the partial love[11] of human beings before it occurred in the ten commandments, while ἀγαπᾶτε was used to describe God’s love, the fruit of his Spirit[12] which is patient, kind, not envious, does not brag, is not puffed up or rude, not self-serving, easily angered or resentful, not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things and never ends.[13]  I didn’t appreciate this difference either the first time I read John’s Gospel narrative.

The word keep above is a translation of the Hebrew word shâmar (ולשמרי).  It was translated φυλάσσουσιν (a form of φυλάσσω) in Greek in the Septuagint.  And φυλάσσουσιν was translated doobey in the NET: For those who are circumcised do not obey (φυλάσσουσιν, a form of φυλάσσω) the law themselves, but they want you to be circumcised so that they can boast about your flesh.[14]  This is not a particularly common translation, more often translated keep in English.  The NET translators chose obey for forms of φυλάσσω any time it made any sense at all.

Jesus, for instance, didn’t pray that He had obeyed (ἐφύλαξα, another form of φυλάσσω) his disciples, but that He had watched over them.  A strong man, fully armed does not keep his possessions safe when he obeys (φυλάσσῃ, another form of φυλάσσω) his own palace, but when he guards it.  Apart from the obvious exceptions, however, I have no particular objection to translating φυλάσσω obey.  Translating forms of τηρέω obey is a bit more problematic: If you love me, you will obey (τηρήσετε, a form of τηρέω) my commandments.[15]

Again there are obvious counter examples: Jesus did not obey (ἐτήρουν, another form of τηρέω) his disciples, He kept them safe.  Mary did not obey (τηρήσῃ, another form of τηρέω) three quarters of a pound of expensive aromatic oil from pure nard,[16] She has kept it for the day of my burial,[17] Jesus said.  But there are a few other examples that were not translated obey for no apparent reason except to protect (or, obey) the sensibilities of late 20th century pre-tribulation rapture-believing Protestants, to keep them in the fold, so to speak.

Revelation 3:8 (NET)

Revelation 3:10 (NET)

I know that you have little strength, but you have obeyed my word and have not denied my name. Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

Both you have obeyed and you have kept are translations of the same Greek word ἐτήρησας (another form of τηρέω).  I’ll ignore for the moment that both of these statements were addressed to the singular angel of the church in Philadelphia[18] and deal with them as I had commonly assumed.  (I’m also assuming that the NET translators wanted to translate τηρέω obey as often as possible.)  The clause you have obeyed my word is possible if I take Jesus’ word to be his answer to the question—What must we do to accomplish the deeds God requires?[19]This is the deed God requires – to believe in the one whom he sent.[20]  Even when I believed that faith originated from me rather than an aspect of the fruit of his Spirit, I was more or less comfortable thinking of my faith as my obedience.

There is little more frightening to one who does not know the power and presence of the Holy Spirit than an admonition (λόγον, a form of λόγος; translated word above) to endure steadfastly.  “You have obeyed my word to endure steadfastly” (in my own strength and faithfulness) would have seemed a little too steep a price to escape the great tribulation.  Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly is not that different, really, but it would have felt a little less works oriented to me when I did not yet know the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

I may have balked at hearing Jesus say, if you want to enter into life, obey (τήρησον, another form of τηρέω) the commandments.  Or if John had written, by this we know that we have come to know God: if we obey (τηρῶμεν, another form of τηρέω) his commandments.  And, whatever we ask we receive from him, because we obey (τηροῦμεν, another form of τηρέω) his commandments and do the things that are pleasing to him.  Or, the person who obeys (τηρῶν, another form of τηρέω) his commandments resides in God, and God in himFor this is the love of God: that we obey (τηρῶμεν, another form of τηρέω) his commandments.  Of course, the NET translators did translate τηροῦντες (another form of τηρέω) so as to define saints as those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus.[21]

On the Christian & Missionary Alliance webpage entitled “Sanctification” I read an amazing confession that “most Christians do not understand or experience…the fullness of the Holy Spirit in their lives.”  I don’t want to hit this too hard since I imagine[22] that other Christian religions experience a similar phenomenon whether they confess it or not.  In one sense I’m gratified that my problem is shared by over half of Christians.  Two causes were cited: 1) we “have been badly taught,” or 2) we “have chosen to disregard the clear teaching of the New Testament regarding sanctification.”  That diagnosis, however, lights a clear path to a prescription: better teaching on the passages of Scripture that explain that we “can’t make ourselves holy any more than we can make ourselves saved” and that “Christ is our Sanctifier in the same way that He is our Savior.”

While I’m not opposed generally to translating φυλάσσω or τηρέω obey, to also translate ὑπακούω obey causes me to wonder.  One of the reasons I enjoy the NET translation is that it feels like the translators and I grew up in the same socially constructed reality and the same religious milieu.  What was the impetus to translate all three words obey?  Were they pushed by that same impatient just do it attitude I encountered when I tried to discuss my early hesitant and tentative ideas about what the New Testament, Paul in particular, taught about righteousness?  Paul and the Holy Spirit were careful to distinguish Old Testament guarding and keeping from New Testament hearing with faith.

I heard a pastor recently (a Baptist not CM&A) say, “The Holy Spirit doesn’t stop me from sinning, just convicts me when I do.”  I gave him the benefit of the doubt at the time that he didn’t mean exactly what he had said.  His preaching style is so haphazard and stream-of-consciousness it might have meant anything:

From…

To…

Trusting Jesus as I do, believing what I believe, knowing what I know, why does sin ever erupt from this constitution of parts I call meWretched man that I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?[23] The particular “sin” he had in mind but didn’t confess was man-made and of no concern to the Holy Spirit.

But what if I were still struggling with the concept of sanctification by faith?  What if I had taken his words at face value and believed them?  Would I have believed that—Everyone who has been fathered by God does not practice sin, because God’s seed resides in him, and thus he is not able to sin, because he has been fathered by God[24]—was false?  Possibly, maybe even gratefully for a time.  But then the Holy Spirit would have kept after me, reminding me of Scriptures that contradicted the Pastor’s words (and my conclusions based on them), prodding me on with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness. goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and his control until I saw yehôvâh/Jesus again, Love Himself, leading me patiently, kindly, not hatefully, not bragging, not puffed up or rude, not self-serving, not easily angered or resentful, not glad about injustice, but rejoicing in the truth, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things and never failing, until the very verse I thought condemned me became first a promise filled with hope, until that day it becomes a truth in actual fact.

In this particular case there was never a real issue for me.  And I can increase attendance at this Pastor’s church by as much as 25% when I show up.  So maybe any problem of this sort is self-correcting.  Still, I wonder whether the greater than half of Christians who “do not understand or experience…the fullness of the Holy Spirit in their lives” fill the pews only.  My children, Paul penned the church in Galatia over this very issue, I am again undergoing birth pains until Christ is formed in you![25] 

I’ll pick this up again in another essay.  The tables I created to study φυλάσσω, τηρέω and ὑπακούω follow.

Forms of φυλάσσω Reference

NET Translation

ἐφύλαξα Matthew 19:20 The young man said to him, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws.”
Luke 18:21 The man replied, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws since my youth.”
John 17:12 When I was with them I kept them safe and watched over them in your name…
ἐφυλαξάμην Mark 10:20 The man said to him, “Teacher, I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws since my youth.”
ἐφυλάξατε Acts 7:53 You received the law by decrees given by angels, but you did not obey it.
ἐφύλαξεν 2 Peter 2:5 …and if he did not spare the ancient world, but did protect Noah, a herald of righteousness…
φυλάσσῃ Luke 11:21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his possessions are safe.
Romans 2:26 …if the uncircumcised man obeys the righteous requirements of the law…
φυλάσσειν Acts 12:4 …he put him in prison, handing him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him.
Acts 16:4 …they passed on the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the Gentile believers to obey.
φυλάσσεσθαι Acts 21:25 …we have written a letter, having decided that they should avoid meat that has been sacrificed to idols…
Acts 23:35 Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.
φυλάσσεσθε Luke 12:15 Watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed…
2 Peter 3:17 be on your guard that you do not get led astray by the error of these unprincipled men…
φυλάσσων Acts 21:24 …but that you yourself live in conformity with the law.
Acts 22:20 …approving, and guarding the cloaks of those who were killing him.
φυλασσόμενος Luke 8:29 …bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard
φυλάσσοντες Luke 2:8 …living out in the field, keeping guard over their flock at night.
Luke 11:28 Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!
φυλάσσοντι Acts 28:16 Paul was allowed to live by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.
φυλάσσου 2 Timothy 4:15 You be on guard against him too, because he vehemently opposed our words.
φυλάσσουσιν Galatians 6:13 For those who are circumcised do not obey the law themselves…
φυλάξαι 2 Timothy 1:12 I am convinced that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me…
Jude 1:24 Now to the one who is able to keep you from falling, and to cause you to stand, rejoicing, without blemish before his glorious presence…
φυλάξατε 1 John 5:21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
φυλάξῃ John 12:47 If anyone hears my words and does not obey them, I do not judge him.
φυλάξῃς 1 Timothy 5:21 Before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, I solemnly charge you to carry out these commands without prejudice or favoritism of any kind.
φυλάξει John 12:25 …the one who hates his life in this world guards it for eternal life.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.
φύλαξον 1 Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, protect what has been entrusted to you.
2 Timothy 1:14 Protect that good thing entrusted to you, through the Holy Spirit who lives within us.

 

Forms of τηρέω Reference

NET Translation

ἐτήρησα 2 Corinthians 11:9 I kept myself from being a burden to you in any way…
ἐτήρησαν John 15:20 If they obeyed my word…
ἐτήρησας Revelation 3:8 …but you have obeyed my word and have not denied my name.
Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly…
ἐτηρεῖτο Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison…
ἐτήρουν Matthew 27:36 Then they sat down and kept guard over him there.
John 17:12 When I was with them I kept them safe and watched over them in your name…
Acts 12:6 …while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison.
τηρῇ 1 John 2:5 But whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has been perfected.
τηρῆσαι 1 Timothy 6:14 to obey this command without fault or failure until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ…
τηρήσαντας Jude 1:6 …the angels who did not keep within their proper domain…
τηρήσατε Jude 1:21 maintain yourselves in the love of God, while anticipating the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that brings eternal life.
τηρήσῃ John 8:51 …if anyone obeys my teaching, he will never see death.
John 8:52 …you say, ‘If anyone obeys my teaching, he will never experience death.’
John 12:7 Leave her alone.  She has kept it for the day of my burial.
James 2:10 For the one who obeys the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
τηρήσῃς John 17:15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one.
τηρήσητε John 15:10 If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love…
τηρήσει John 14:23 If anyone loves me, he will obey my word…
τηρήσετε John 14:15 If you love me, you will obey my commandments.
τηρήσω 2 Corinthians 11:9 …a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so.
Revelation 3:10 …I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world…
τήρησον Matthew 19:17 But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.
John 17:11 Holy Father, keep them safe in your name that you have given me…
τηρήσουσιν John 15:20 they will obey yours too.
τηρηθῆναι Acts 25:21 But when Paul appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of His Majesty…
τηρηθείη 1 Thessalonians 5:23 …may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
τηρεῖ John 9:16 This man is not from God, because he does not observe the Sabbath.
John 14:24 The person who does not love me does not obey my words.
1 Timothy 5:22 Keep yourself pure.
1 John 5:18 God protects the one he has fathered, and the evil one cannot touch him.
Revelation 3:3 Therefore, remember what you received and heard, and obey it, and repent.
τηρεῖν Matthew 28:20 …teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
Acts 15:5 It is necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and to order them to observe the law…
Acts 16:23 …they threw them into prison and commanded the jailer to guard them securely.
1 Corinthians 7:37 …and has decided in his own mind to keep his own virgin, does well.
Ephesians 4:3 …making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
James 1:27 …to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
2 Peter 2:9 …and to reserve the unrighteous for punishment at the day of judgment…
τηρεῖσθαι Acts 24:23 He ordered the centurion to guard Paul…
Acts 25:4 Then Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea…
Acts 25:21 I ordered him to be kept under guard until I could send him to Caesar.
τηρεῖτε Matthew 23:3 Therefore pay attention to what they tell you and do it.
τηρῶ John 8:55 But I do know him, and I obey his teaching.
τηρῶμεν 1 John 2:3 …we have come to know [him]: if we keep his commandments.
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments.
τηρῶν John 14:21 The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me.
1 John 2:4 The one who says “I have come to know [him]” and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar…
1 John 3:24 And the person who keeps his commandments resides in [him]…
Revelation 2:26 And to the one who conquers and who continues in my deeds until the end…
Revelation 16:15 Blessed is the one who stays alert and does not lose his clothes…
Revelation 22:7 Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy expressed in this book.
τηροῦμεν 1 John 3:22 …whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing to him.
τηρούμενοι 2 Peter 3:7 But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, by being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
τηρουμένους 2 Peter 2:4 …but threw them into hell and locked them up in chains in utter darkness, to be kept until the judgment…
τηροῦντες Matthew 27:54 Now when the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus…
Matthew 28:4 The guards were shaken and became like dead men because they were so afraid of him.
Revelation 1:3 …blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it, because the time is near!
Revelation 14:12 This requires the steadfast endurance of the saints – those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus.
τηρούντων Revelation 12:17 …the rest of her children, those who keep God’s commandments and hold to the testimony about Jesus.
Revelation 22:9 I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets, and with those who obey the words of this book.
τετήρηκα John 15:10 …just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
2 Timothy 4:7 I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith!
τετήρηκαν John 17:6 They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have obeyed your word.
τετήρηκας John 2:10 You have kept the good wine until now!
τετήρηκεν Jude 1:6 he has kept in eternal chains in utter darkness, locked up for the judgment of the great Day.
τετηρημένην 1 Peter 1:4 …an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.  It is reserved in heaven for you…
τετηρημένοις Jude 1:1 …those who are called, wrapped in the love of God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.
τετήρηται 2 Peter 2:17 …for whom the utter depths of darkness have been reserved.
Jude 1:13 …wayward stars for whom the utter depths of eternal darkness have been reserved.

 

Forms of ὑπακούω Reference

NET Translation

ὑπακούει Mark 4:41 Who then is this?  Even the wind and sea obey him!
2 Thessalonians 3:14 But if anyone does not obey our message through this letter…
ὑπακούειν Romans 6:12 …do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires…
ὑπακούετε Romans 6:16 …you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or…
Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.
Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart as to Christ…
Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing in the Lord.
Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in every respect, not only when they are watching…
ὑπακούουσιν Matthew 8:27 What sort of person is this?  Even the winds and the sea obey him!
Mark 1:27 A new teaching with authority!  He even commands the unclean spirits and they obey him.
Luke 8:25 Who then is this?  He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him!
2 Thessalonians 1:8 those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Hebrews 5:9 …he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him…
ὑπακοῦσαι Acts 12:13 When he knocked at the door of the outer gate, a slave girl named Rhoda answered.
ὑπήκουον Acts 6:7 …and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.
ὑπήκουσαν Romans 10:16 But not all have obeyed the good news, for Isaiah says…
ὑπηκούσατε Romans 6:17 you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to…
Philippians 2:12 …just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence…
ὑπήκουσεν Luke 17:6 …‘Be pulled out by the roots and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place he would later receive as an inheritance…
1 Peter 3:6 …like Sarah who obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You become her children…

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 4

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 7

[1] Deuteronomy 2:25 (NET)

[2] Deuteronomy 2:16 (NET)

[3] Genesis 20:11a (NET)

[4] Genesis 20:8 (NET)

[5] Exodus 20:1, 2 (NET)

[6] Exodus 20:20 (NET)

[7] Genesis 37:4 (NET)

[8] John 14:15 (NET)

[9] http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=prosta%2Fgmata&la=greek&can=prosta%2Fgmata0&prior=leit

[10] If you love (ἀγαπᾶτε, a form of ἀγαπάω) those who love you, what credit (χάρις; literally graciousness, grace) is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love (ἀγαπῶσιν, another form of ἀγαπάω) them. (Luke 6:32 NET)

[11] Here I’ll add back the occurrence I removed from my survey of ʼâhab: Shechem fell in love (ויאהב; Genesis 34:3 NET) with Jacob’s daughter Dinah after he grabbed her, forced himself on her, and sexually assaulted her (Genesis 34:2 NET)

[12] Galatians 5:22, 23 (NET)

[13] 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 (NET)

[14] Galatians 6:13 (NET)

[15] John 14:15 (NET)

[16] John 12:3 (NET)

[17] John 12:7b (NET)

[18] Revelation 3:7 (NET)

[19] John 6:28 (NET)

[20] John 6:29 (NET)

[21] Revelation 14:12 (NET)

[22] I offer “Five Views on Sanctification” by Mike Sullivan as evidence for my imagining.  It’s an interesting survey of others’ struggles with sanctification.  Xenos has its critics and defenders.

[23] Romans 7:24 (NET)

[24] 1 John 3:9 (NET)

[25] Galatians 4:19 (NET)

Romans, Part 85

I’ve considered, For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers.[1]  Jesus was the only living descendant of Abraham worthy of the promised land and the kingdom of God at the moment both were taken (70 A.D.) from Abraham’s other descendants through Isaac.  As I write this they have regained partial control of the land and have been wresting more bit by bit from the descendants of Abram through Ishmael.

Manfred Davidmann wrote “that the Jewish people were expelled twice from the country God promised them with their grip on the country weakening at the present time.”  His prescription was that the Israelis should fashion a welfare state more or less like the federal government of the United States of America.  I will suggest that recognizing Jesus the Messiah as yehôvâh their God will better serve both purposes, holding the promised land and regaining the kingdom of God.

Not all the children [are] Abraham’s true descendants, Paul wrote believers in Rome, rather through Isaac will your descendants be counted.”  This means it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God; rather, the children of promise are counted as descendantsFor this is what the promise declared: “About a year from now I will return and Sarah will have a son.”[2]  That alone may be reason enough for present day Israelis to defeat the present day descendants of Ishmael militarily.  But a lack of military prowess was probably not the reason the descendants of Isaac lost the land, and certainly not the reason they lost the kingdom of God.  It was always their failure to placate yehôvâh with sacrifices and offerings (Isaiah 66:1-3 Tanakh):

Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?  For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol.

Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.

Not only that, Paul continued his letter to Roman believers, but when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our ancestor Isaac – even before they were born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose in election would stand, not by works but by his calling) – it was said to her,The older will serve the younger,” just as it is written:Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”[3]  God’s purpose in election is where I can see how the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy[4] is logically dependent on Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers.  Paul also wrote believers in Rome (Romans 11:5-8 NET):

So in the same way [e.g., as in the time of Elijah] at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.  And if it is by grace, it is no longer by works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.  What then?  Israel failed to obtain what it was diligently seeking, but the elect obtained it.  The rest were hardened, as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, to this very day.”

I take this to mean that apart from nearly eight centuries of yehôvâh’s hardening Jesus is born among a people who receive Him as Messiah and as yehôvâh their God, and that’s all she wrote: For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?[5]  We Gentiles who are alive today and believe in Jesus would never have been born of the flesh, not to mention redeemed by his grace (Romans 11:25-36 NET).

For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob.  And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”

In regard to the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but in regard to election they are dearly loved for the sake of the fathers.  For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.  Just as you were formerly disobedient to God, but have now received mercy due to their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.  For God has consigned all people to disobedience so that he may show mercy to them all.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?  Or who has first given to God, that God needs to repay him?

For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever!  Amen.

And thus the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy.  As it is written,Because of this I will confess you among the Gentiles, and I will sing praises to your name.”[6]

Romans 15:9b (NET)

Parallel Greek

Septuagint Psalm 18:49

Because of this I will confess you among the Gentiles, and I will sing praises to your name. διὰ τοῦτο ἐξομολογήσομαι σοι ἐν ἔθνεσιν καὶ τῷ ὀνόματι σου ψαλῶ διὰ τοῦτο ἐξομολογήσομαί σοι ἐν ἔθνεσιν κύριε καὶ τῷ ὀνόματί σου ψαλῶ

I notice that as Paul put these words in the resurrected Jesus’ mouth he quoted the Septuagint verbatim except he removed the word κύριε (a form of κύριος), Lord, yehôvâh in Hebrew.  By doing likewise I can hear these words as Paul heard them spoken by Messiah to God his Father the morning of his resurrection (Psalm 18:46-50 NET):

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) is alive!  My protector is praiseworthy!  The God (ʼĕlôahh, אלוהי) who delivers me is exalted as king!  The one true God (ʼêl, האל) completely vindicates me; he makes nations submit to me.  He delivers me from my enemies; you snatch me away from those who attack me; you rescue me from violent men.  So I will give you thanks before the nations…I will sing praises to you!  He gives his chosen king magnificent victories; he is faithful to his chosen ruler, to David[7] and his descendants (zeraʽ, ולזרעו; singular) forever.

The Hebrew word translated The one true God above was translated High God in Genesis.  Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of the Most High God[8] (ʼêl, לאל).  He blessed Abram, saying (Genesis 14:19, 20 NET):

“Blessed be Abram by the Most High God (ʼêl, לאל), Creator of heaven and earth.  Worthy of praise is the Most High God (ʼêl, אל), who delivered your enemies into your hand.”  Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything.

To Abram yehôvâh (יהוה) was the Most High God (ʼêl, אל), Creator of heaven and earth.[9]  The pattern is similar in Genesis 1 and 2: In the beginning God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) created the heavens and the earth.[10]  This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created – when the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) made the earth and heavens.[11]  There is no sense of contradiction or correction in either instance.  I described yehôvâh as “one of the ʼĕlôhı̂ym” because I don’t fully grasp the oneness of the ʼĕlôhı̂ym.

The Hebrew word ʼĕlôhı̂ym is “a plural form” which “refers to the one true God” with a “singular verb…as here.”[12]  Linguistically that would be a oneness of action implying a oneness of purpose, significantly different from the warring gods of the Gentiles, created by Gentiles in their own image.  I don’t have any reason to dispute that God is a oneness in essence, I just don’t know what I mean when I say it.  I know Trinitarians get really angry when I don’t say it.  Holy Father, Jesus prayed, keep [those you have given me] safe in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.[13]  Am I looking forward to a oneness of action and purpose or a oneness in essence?  So I wondered if ʼêl and ʼĕlôahh might be ones of the ʼĕlôhı̂ym as well as yehôvâh.  But as far as Abram was concerned yehôvâh is ʼêl.

Moses prophesied (Deuteronomy 32:15-18 NET):

But Jeshurun[14] became fat and kicked, you got fat, thick, and stuffed!  Then he deserted the God (ʼĕlôahh, אלוה) who made him, and treated the Rock who saved him with contempt.  They made him jealous with other gods (zûr, בזרים), they enraged him with abhorrent idols.  They sacrificed to demons, not God (ʼĕlôahh, אלה), to gods (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) they had not known; to new gods who had recently come along, gods your ancestors had not known about.  You have forgotten the Rock who fathered you, and put out of mind the God (ʼêl, אל) who gave you birth.

But David wrote: Indeed, who is God (ʼĕlôahh, אלוה) besides the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה)?  Who is a protector besides our God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהינו)?  The one true God (ʼêl, האל) gives me strength.[15]  Much as I would like to see ʼêl, yehôvâh, and ʼĕlôahh as the three persons of a triune ʼĕlôhı̂ym, unless David was writing some I-am-he-as-you-are-he-as-you-are-me[16] mysticism, I think I must accept ʼêl and ʼĕlôahh as generic terms for god.

And again it says, Paul continued, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”[17]

Romans 15:10b (NET) Parallel Greek

Septuagint Deuteronomy 32:43b

Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people. εὐφράνθητε, ἔθνη, μετὰ τοῦ λαοῦ αὐτοῦ εὐφράνθητε ἔθνη μετὰ τοῦ λαοῦ αὐτοῦ

It comes at the end of Moses’ prophecy about Israel’s defection (Deuteronomy 32:36-39a Septuagint).

For the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) will judge his people and be comforted over his slaves.  For he saw them paralyzed, both failed under attack and enfeebled.  And the Lord said: Where are their gods (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהימו), they in whom they trusted, the fat of whose sacrifices you were eating and were drinking the wine of their libations?  See, see that I am, and there is no god (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) except me.

Each of us re-enacts this scenario to some degree, trusting in ourselves, the pagan gods or something other than yehôvâh/Jesus until our strength is gone.  I chose a translation of the Septuagint here because I learned something from the ancient rabbis I might have missed otherwise: He is comforted (Hebrew: nâcham, יתנחם; Greek: παρακληθήσεται, a form of παρακαλέω) by our helpless plight.  We do not return to an angry, vengeful God who seeks to return us evil for our evil, but One who is comforted.  And we are his slaves (Hebrew: ʽebed, עבדיו; Greek: δούλοις, a form δοῦλος) not because we have behaved obediently—we have been unbelieving and disobedient in this scenario—but because He has redeemed us with his blood (Isaiah 53:3-12 NET).

He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.  But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain; even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.  He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed.

All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the Lord (yehôvâh, ויהוה) caused the sin of all of us to attack him.  He (e.g., yehôvâh) was treated harshly and afflicted, but he did not even open his mouth.  Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block, like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not even open his mouth.  He was led away after an unjust trial – but who even cared?

Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded.  They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully.

Though the Lord (yehôvâh, ויהוה) desired to crush him and make him ill, once restitution is made, he will see descendants and enjoy long life, and the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) purpose will be accomplished through him.  Having suffered, he will reflect on his work, he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done.  “My servant will acquit many, for he carried their sins.  So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, because he willingly submitted to death and was numbered with the rebels, when he lifted up the sin of many and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”

Though He is comforted over his slaves (those redeemed by his blood), yehôvâh’s enemies incur his wrath (Deuteronomy 32:41b-43 Septuagint):

I will repay my enemies with a sentence, and those who hate me I will repay.  I will make my arrows drunk with blood—and my dagger shall devour flesh—with the blood of the wounded and of captives, from the head of the commanders of the enemies.

Be glad, O skies, with him, and let all the divine sons do obeisance to him.  Be glad, O nations, with his people, and let all the angels of God prevail for him.  For he will avenge the blood of his sons and take revenge and repay the enemies with a sentence, and he will repay those who hate, and the Lord shall cleanse the land of his people [NET: make atonement for his land and people].  

And again, Paul continued, “Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him.”[18]

Romans 15:11 (NET)

Parallel Greek

Septuagint Psalm 117:1

Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him. αἰνεῖτε, πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, τὸν κύριον καὶ ἐπαινεσάτωσαν αὐτὸν πάντες οἱ λαοί αλληλουια αἰνεῖτε τὸν κύριον πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐπαινέσατε[19] αὐτόν πάντες οἱ λαοί

In context [Psalm 116(117) Septuagint]:

Hallelouia.  Praise the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), all you nations!  Commend him, all you peoples, because his mercy became strong toward us, and the truth of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) endures forever.

And again Isaiah says, Paul continued, “The root of Jesse will come, and the one who rises to rule over the Gentiles, in him will the Gentiles hope.”[20]

Romans 15:12 (NET)

Parallel Greek

Septuagint Isaiah 11:10a

The root of Jesse will come, and the one who rises to rule over the Gentiles, in him will the Gentiles hope. ἔσται ἡ ρίζα τοῦ Ἰεσσαὶ καὶ ὁ ἀνιστάμενος ἄρχειν ἐθνῶν, ἐπ᾿ αὐτῷ ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσιν ἔσται ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ (a form of ἐκεῖνος) ἡ ῥίζα τοῦ Ιεσσαι καὶ ὁ ἀνιστάμενος ἄρχειν ἐθνῶν ἐπ᾽ αὐτῷ ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσιν

In context (Isaiah 11:10-13 Septuagint):

And it shall be on that day [ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ; e.g., when asps will not hurt or be able to destroy anyone on my holy mountain, vv. 8, 9] the root of Iessai [e.g., Jessie], even the one who stands up to rule nations; nations shall hope in him, and his rest shall be honor.  And it shall be on that day that the Lord (ʼădônây, אדני) will further display his hand to show zeal for the remnant that is left of the people, whatever is left from the Assyrians, and from Egypt and Babylonia and Ethiopia and from the Ailamites and from where the sun rises and out of Arabia.  And he will raise a signal for the nations and will gather the lost ones of Israel and gather the dispersed of Ioudas (e.g., Judah, the southern kingdom) from the four points of the earth.  And the jealousy of Ephraim (e.g., the northern kingdom of divided Israel) shall be taken away, and the enemies of Ioudas shall perish; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Ioudas, and Ioudas shall not afflict Ephraim.

Now may the God of hope, Paul continued, fill you with all joy (χαρᾶς, a form of χαρά) and peace (εἰρήνης, a form of εἰρήνη) as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.[21]  And, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy (χαρὰ, another form of χαρά), peace (εἰρήνη), patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.[22]

Romans, Part 86

[1] Romans 15:8 (NET)

[2] Romans 9:7-9 (NET)

[3] Romans 9:10-12 (NET)

[4] Romans 15:9a (NET)

[5] Romans 11:15 (NET)

[6] Romans 15:9 (NET)

[7] 2 Samuel 7:12-16 (NET)

[8] Genesis 14:18 (NET)

[9] Genesis 14:22 (NET)

[10] Genesis 1:1 (NET)

[11] Genesis 2:4 (NET)

[12] NET note 2

[13] John 17:11b (NET)

[14] NET note 32: “Jeshurun is a term of affection derived from the Hebrew verb יָשַׁר (yashar, ‘be upright’).  Here it speaks of Israel ‘in an ideal situation, with its “uprightness” due more to God’s help than his own efforts’ (M. Mulder, TDOT 6:475).”

[15] Psalm 18:31, 32a (NET)

[16] http://www.metrolyrics.com/i-am-the-walrus-lyrics-beatles.html

[17] Romans 15:10 (NET)

[18] Romans 15:11 (NET)

[19] http://biblehub.com/text/romans/15-11.htm

[20] Romans 15:12 (NET)

[21] Romans 15:13 (NET)

[22] Galatians 5:22, 23 (NET)

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 5

In the year of King Uzziah’s death,[1] yehôvâh (יהוה) sent the prophet Isaiah to harden the descendants of Israel living in the southern kingdom of Judah (Isaiah 6:9-12 NET):

“Go and tell these people: ‘Listen continually, but don’t understand!  Look continually, but don’t perceive!’  Make the hearts of these people calloused; make their ears deaf and their eyes blind!  Otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, their hearts might understand and they might repent and be healed.”

I replied, “How long, sovereign master?”

He said, “Until cities are in ruins and unpopulated, and houses are uninhabited, and the land is ruined and devastated, and the Lord has sent the people off to a distant place, and the very heart of the land is completely abandoned.”

The NET translation of the final verse of this chapter extending the period of this hardening through the destruction of the Old Testament religion in 70 A.D. is almost unique: Even if only a tenth of the people remain in the land, it will again be destroyed, like one of the large sacred trees or an Asherah pole, when a sacred pillar on a high place is thrown down.  That sacred pillar symbolizes the special chosen family.[2]  Those who returned from Babylon still didn’t understand the message of the Old Testament Scriptures that they must all be born from above.[3]  They continued in their own works believing, it works if you work it.

You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus told his disciples, but they have not.  For whoever has will be given more, and will have an abundance.  But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  For this reason I speak to them in parables: Although they see they do not see, and although they hear they do not hear nor do they understand.[4]  Jesus called the religious institutions created by people hardened by yehôvâh the power of darkness.[5]  Paul’s old human Saul knew this power of darkness firsthand (Acts 26:4, 5, 9-11 NET).

Now all the Jews (Ἰουδαῖοι, a form of Ἰουδαῖος) know the way I lived from my youth, spending my life from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem.  They know, because they have known me from time past, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee…Of course, I myself was convinced that it was necessary to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus the Nazarene.  And that is what I did in Jerusalem: Not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons by the authority I received from the chief priests, but I also cast my vote against them when they were sentenced to death.  I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to force them to blaspheme.  Because I was so furiously enraged at them, I went to persecute them even in foreign cities.

I’ll consider the story of Jesus’ arrest as a measure of how calloused their hearts, how deaf their ears and how blind their eyes had become: Judas obtained a squad of soldiers and some officers of the chief priests and Pharisees,[6] a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and experts in the law and elders.[7]  Then Jesus, because he knew everything that was going to happen to him, came and asked them, “Who are you looking for?”[8]

Jesus hearkened attentively to the Holy Spirit in ways that I can scarcely imagine, but He knew everything that was going to happen to him because of the scriptures that say it must happen this way.[9]  Jesus’ Father in heaven revealed to Peter that Jesus is the Christ (e.g., Messiah), the Son of the living God.[10]  But Peter was so calloused, deaf and blind he did not believe the scriptures that say it must happen this way even when Jesus told him (Matthew 16:21, 22 NET):

From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.  So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him: “God forbid, Lord!  This must not happen to you!”

Who are you looking for? Jesus asked the crowd armed with swords and clubs (John 18:5, 6 NET):

They replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”  He told them, “I am he.” (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, was standing there with them.)  So when Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they retreated and fell to the ground.

I don’t know if this was a miraculous manifestation of Jesus’ presence or simply that He threw the arresting officers off-balance by standing there rather than running.  He had run before.  Or perhaps they expected Him or his disciples to resist (John 18:7-9 NET).

Then Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?”  And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.”  Jesus replied, “I told you that I am he.  If you are looking for me, let these men go.”  He said this to fulfill the word he had spoken, “I have not lost a single one of those whom you gave me.”

Now this is the will of the one who sent me, Jesus said to those who had pursued Him across the lake after eating of the loaves and fishes He had blessed and multiplied, that I should not lose one person of every one he has given me, but raise them all up at the last day.[11]  When I was with them, He had prayed to his Father, I kept them safe and watched over them in your name that you have given me.  Not one of them was lost except the one destined for destruction (Matthew 27:3-10), so that the scripture could be fulfilled.[12]

When those who were around him saw what was about to happen, the accounts of Jesus’ arrest continued, they said, “Lord, should we use our swords?”[13]  They had two (Luke 22:35-38).  The crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and experts in the law and elders took hold of Jesus and arrested him.[14]  Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, pulled it out and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear.  (Now the slave’s name was Malchus.)[15]  But Jesus said, “Enough of this!”  And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.[16]

Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath!  Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?[17]  For all who take hold of the sword will die by the sword.  Or do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and that he would send me more than twelve legions of angels right now?  How then would the scriptures that say it must happen this way be fulfilled?”[18]

Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders who had come out to get him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs like you would against an outlaw?  Day after day when I was with you in the temple courts, you did not arrest me.  But this is your hour, and that of the power of darkness![19]  But this has happened so that the scriptures would be fulfilled.”[20]

Then all the disciples left him and fled.  A young man was following him, wearing only a linen cloth.  They tried to arrest him, but he ran off naked, leaving his linen cloth behind.[21]  Then the squad of soldiers with their commanding officer and the officers of the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus and tied him up.  They brought him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.  (Now it was Caiaphas who had advised the Jewish leaders that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.)  Simon Peter and another disciple followed them as they brought Jesus to Annas.[22]

Now the ones who had arrested Jesus led him to Caiaphas, the high priest, in whose house the experts in the law and the elders had gathered.  But Peter was following him from a distance, all the way to the high priest’s courtyard.[23]  (Now the other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, and he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard.)  But Simon Peter was left standing outside by the door.  So the other disciple who was acquainted with the high priest came out and spoke to the slave girl who watched the door, and brought Peter inside.[24]  When they had made a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them.[25]

I’ve listened to sermons where Peter’s denial of Jesus was portrayed as cowardice.  A Gospel harmony such as this highlights how Peter and all the disciples would have fought to the death at Jesus’ command.  Both Matthew and Mark record that they fled only when Jesus made it clear that He intended to be arrested, tried and executed (Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:49b, 50) so that the scriptures of the prophets would be fulfilled.  Jesus’ disciples weren’t cowards; they had calloused hearts, deaf ears and blind eyes for the Scriptures.  But even as the rest fled, Peter followed Jesus at a distance (along with another, possibly John) when he was the one most guilty of a violent criminal act against the high priest.

The unbeliever assumes that the words recorded in the Gospel narratives do not recount what actually happened during Jesus’ arrest but are the post hoc literary inventions of religious minds.  If Jesus had actually said and done these things during his arrest, they reason, the response and outcome would have been different.  At very least the arresting officers would have returned empty-handed saying, “No one ever spoke like this man!”[26]

The believer can use that hypothetical person who would have, or should have, responded differently to Jesus’ teaching and actions as a baseline to derive a relative measurement of the power of darkness, the effects of yehôvâh’s hardening (John 7:47-52 NET):

Then the Pharisees answered, “You haven’t been deceived too, have you?  None of the rulers or the Pharisees have believed in him, have they?  But this rabble who do not know the law are accursed!”

Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before and who was one of the rulers, said, “Our law doesn’t condemn a man unless it first hears from him and learns what he is doing (ποιεῖ, a form of ποιέω), does it?”  They replied, “You aren’t from Galilee too, are you?  Investigate carefully and you will see that no prophet comes from Galilee (Matthew 4:12-16; Isaiah 9)!”

This is the religious milieu where Saul thrived and out of which the apostle Paul was called.  This nearly eight hundred years of calloused hearts, deaf ears and blind eyes, hardening in a word, provides the historical and cultural contexts for his religious mind.

The table I constructed to harmonize the Gospel narratives follows.  Some of the temporal arrangements are admittedly arguable.

Jesus’ Arrest

Matthew 26:50b-58 (NET)

Mark 14:46-54 (NET) Luke 22:47a, 49-55 (NET)

John 18:3-16, 18 (NET)

So Judas obtained a squad of soldiers and some officers of the chief priests and Pharisees.
Then [a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and elders of the people] came… Then [a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and experts in the law and elders]… While [Jesus] was still speaking, suddenly a crowd appeared… They came to the orchard with lanterns and torches and weapons.
Then Jesus, because he knew everything that was going to happen to him, came and asked them, “Who are you looking for?”  They replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”  He told them, “I am he.” (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, was standing there with them.)  So when Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they retreated and fell to the ground.  Then Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?”  And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.”  Jesus replied, “I told you that I am he.  If you are looking for me, let these men go.”  He said this to fulfill the word he had spoken, “I have not lost a single one of those whom you gave me.”
When those who were around him saw what was about to happen, they said, “Lord, should we use our swords?”
…and took hold of Jesus and arrested him. …took hold of [Jesus] and arrested him.
But one of those with Jesus grabbed his sword, drew it out, and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his ear. One of the bystanders drew his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his ear. Then one of them struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear. Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, pulled it out and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear.  (Now the slave’s name was Malchus.)
But Jesus said, “Enough of this!”  And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place! But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath!  Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
For all who take hold of the sword will die by the sword.  Or do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and that he would send me more than twelve legions of angels right now?  How then would the scriptures that say it must happen this way be fulfilled?”
At that moment Jesus said to the crowd, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me like you would an outlaw?  Day after day I sat teaching in the temple courts, yet you did not arrest me. Jesus said to them, “Have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me like you would an outlaw?  Day after day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, yet you did not arrest me. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders who had come out to get him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs like you would against an outlaw?  Day after day when I was with you in the temple courts, you did not arrest me.
But this is your hour, and that of the power of darkness!”
But this has happened so that the scriptures of the prophets would be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled. But this has happened so that the scriptures would be fulfilled.”  Then all the disciples left him and fled.
A young man was following him, wearing only a linen cloth.  They tried to arrest him, but he ran off naked, leaving his linen cloth behind.
Then they arrested Jesus… Then the squad of soldiers with their commanding officer and the officers of the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus and tied him up.
They brought him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.  (Now it was Caiaphas who had advised the Jewish leaders that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.)  Simon Peter and another disciple followed them as they brought Jesus to Annas.
Now the ones who had arrested Jesus led him to Caiaphas, the high priest, in whose house the experts in the law and the elders had gathered.  But Peter was following him from a distance, all the way to the high priest’s courtyard. Then they led Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests and elders and experts in the law came together.  And Peter had followed him from a distance, up to the high priest’s courtyard. …led him away, and brought him into the high priest’s house.  But Peter was following at a distance.
(Now the other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, and he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard.)  But Simon Peter was left standing outside by the door.  So the other disciple who was acquainted with the high priest came out and spoke to the slave girl who watched the door, and brought Peter inside.
After going in, he sat with the guards to see the outcome. He was sitting with the guards and warming himself by the fire. When they had made a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. (Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire they had made, warming themselves because it was cold.  Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.)

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 6

Back to Romans, Part 85

Back to Sowing to the Flesh, Part 2

[1] Isaiah 6:1a (NET) Note 1: “approximately 740 B.C.”

[2] Isaiah 6:13 (NET)

[3] John 3:7b (NET)

[4] Matthew 13:11-13 (NET)

[5] Luke 22:53b (NET)

[6] John 18:3a (NET)

[7] Mark 14:43b (NET)

[8] John 18:4 (NET)

[9] Matthew 26:54 (NET)

[10] Matthew 16:16b (NET)

[11] John 6:39 (NET)

[12] John 17:12 (NET)

[13] Luke 22:49 (NET)

[14] Matthew 26:50b (NET)

[15] John 18:10 (NET)

[16] Luke 22:51 (NET)

[17] John 18:11 (NET)

[18] Matthew 26:52b-54 (NET)

[19] Luke 22:52, 53 (NET)

[20] Mark 14:49b (NET)

[21] Mark 14:50-52 (NET)

[22] John 18:12-15a (NET)

[23] Matthew 26:57, 58a (NET)

[24] John 18:15b, 16 (NET)

[25] Luke 22:55 (NET)

[26] John 7:46 (NET)

Who Am I? Part 4

I spend a large portion of my Christmas holiday with three post-Christian women I’ll call Grandmother, Mother and Daughter because of their relationship to one another.  I call them post-Christian because they were all professing Christians at one time.  Grandmother still calls herself a Christian.  She means a non-Buddhist, non-Hindu, non-Jew, non-Muslim who believes in Jesus.  Her ex-husband was a Baptist Sunday school teacher who abused her, and Mother as a child.  Daughter is the most non-Christian, vocally pagan of the three with Mother falling somewhere between.  Their transformation began with a desire for a more feminine God.  I regret now not taking Mother’s question more seriously.  I didn’t understand at the time that this desire would lead through Mother Earth to a Mother Goddess and on to full-fledged paganism.

I pointed out that yehôvâh (יהוה) created male and female: God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) created humankind in his own image, in the image of God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) he created them, male and female he created them.[1]  I talked about the meaning of El Shaddai (ʼêl, אל; shadday, שדי) and a few other references to God as feminine.  But I emphasized that the general understanding of God as masculine was due primarily to the fact that we are all feminine in relation to the operation of his grace through Jesus Christ.

I am accepted among them as the kindly, odd, somewhat benighted, old man who studies the Bible in his spare time, so ordinary conversation—what’ve you been up to?—offers many opportunities.  A recent conversation with Grandmother and Daughter turned naturally to Jesus’ dying thoughts on the cross.  I read Psalm 22 aloud.  Daughter was visibly, tearfully moved and vocally overwhelmed that David could write such exact knowledge so many centuries before Jesus was born.

I spoke of God having mercy on whoever he chooses to have mercy and hardening whoever he chooses to harden.  I said I had been considering how, and told them the story of two prophets, Nathan and John the Baptist.  When Pharisees and Sadduccees, religious leaders, came to be baptized for repentance (Matthew 3:11, 12; Mark 1:4-8; Luke 3:15-17) John said, You offspring of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?[2]  And he challenged them to put their works religion to the test: Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance[3]

What I didn’t say but will record here for my own memory’s sake, whether these particular Pharisees and Sadduccees were directly responsible or not, John’s words were not secret and would have tended to harden the resolve of the religious elite to kill Jesus: the Lord (yehôvâh, ויהוה) desired to crush him (e.g., Jesus).  On the other hand yehôvâh desired David’s repentance and sent Nathan to that effect.

He was sent after King David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed to cover it up.  Nathan told David a story (2 Samuel 12:1-6) about a rich man who had entertained a traveler with a meal.  The rich man hadn’t served up any of his own sheep or cattle, but the one ewe lamb he took from a poor man.  Then David became very angry at this man.[4]  You are that man![5] Nathan said to him.

“Did he kill him?” Daughter asked.  I was actually surprised that she had forgotten the story.

No, I answered, I have sinned against the Lord![6] David said and then he wrote the 51st Psalm.  I got to read Psalm 51 aloud to them.  When I finished Grandmother responded to a look on Daughter’s face at the line—Look, I was guilty of sin from birth, a sinner the moment my mother conceived me.[7]

“I don’t believe that either,” Grandmother said.

This is a point to concede by the way.  If it offends or hurts your feelings, welcome to the human race.  Being guilty of sin from birth, a sinner the moment my mother conceived me is equivalent to being born of the flesh of Adam (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:42-58).  You do not want a relentless God who will pursue you with goodness and mercy all the days of your life to spend that time convincing you the hard way that you are a sinner instead (John 16:7-11).

Goodness and mercy, by the way is the NKJV translation of Psalm 23:6a.  In the NET it was translated goodness and faithfulness (chêsêd , וחסד).

chêsêd Hebrew KJV NET Tanakh Septuagint
Psalm 23:6a וחסד mercy faithfulness mercy ἔλεός[8]


Daughter
informed me that my religion has a lot of guilt in it as she praised me for my adherence to it, and insisted that we, she and her pagan friends, desperately need a canon (i.e., of written scripture).

On Yule I learned that Mother had been taking drugs.  I wasn’t personally that aware of the winter solstice.  Daughter and Mother wished one another happy Yule in the car as I drove them to rehab.  It’s probably the only reason I knew anything at all.

I hadn’t known the night before that Mother had informed Daughter she was abusing drugs.  Daughter called me the next morning when Mother hesitated to actually commit herself to rehab.  In the car on the way Daughter was jubilant and excited that Mother was doing the right thing.  Yes, rehab is better than sitting home alone shooting dope, but I was much more somber and subdued.

At her home I had sat with her, held her and listened to her enough to convince myself that Mother had no interest in repentance.  Daughter was right.  My presence alone persuaded Mother to shower, dress and leave with us for the rehab facility.  But in the car I felt like I was delivering her up for more hardening.  In my admittedly limited experience I know no one who has returned to faith in Christ from the higher power mysticism of a twelve-step program.  I watched sadly the full realization of incarceration creep across her face as she was taken from us.  No matter what I say or how much I protest, Mother and Daughter believe I live a life of rules, while they are free.

I gave them My statutes, yehôvâh explained in the philosopher’s dream chapter of Ezekiel the prophet, and informed them of My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live.[9]  I call it the philosopher’s dream chapter because yehôvâh explained so much of his own understanding of Israel’s history there.  Then the twelve-year-old Jesus had this chapter at his disposal to renew and refresh his now human mind.

The Hebrew word translated My statutes was chûqqâh (חקותי).  It was translated προστάγματά in the Septuagint.  The Hebrew word translated My ordinances was mishpâṭ (משפטי), and δικαιώματά, a form of δικαίωμα, in the Septuagint.  This was translated the righteous requirements in: Therefore if the uncircumcised man obeys the righteous requirements (δικαιώματα, a form of δικαίωμα) of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?[10]

In the same chapter yehôvâh explained: I also gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not live.[11]  Here the Hebrew word translated statutes was chôq (חקים); chûqqâh is the feminine of chôq according to Strong’s Concordance.  It was still translated προστάγματα in the Septuagint.  And again, the word translated ordinances was mishpâṭ (ומשפטים) in Hebrew and δικαιώματα in the Septuagint.  I don’t think these are different statutes or different ordinances.

The commandmentwas intended to bring life.[12]  The law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.[13]  But if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.[14]  God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh.[15]  For sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it I died.[16]  For we know that the law is spiritual – but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin.  For I don’t understand what I am doing.  For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate.[17]

Also I gave them My Sabbaths, yehôvâh said in the philosopher’s dream chapter, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) who sanctifies them.[18]

In practice many professing faith in Jesus do not believe that yehôvâh/Jesus sanctifies[19] them.  We trust Him for justification only, primarily forgiveness.  We believe our sanctification is a measure of our own good works, obedience accomplished in our own strength for our own glory.  We do not believe that here and now a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God.  For the one who enters God’s rest has also rested from his works, just as God did from his own works.[20]  I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.[21]  Thus we must make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by following the same pattern of disobedience[22] (ἀπειθείας, a form of ἀπείθεια; literally, disbeliefDo we then nullify the law through faith?  Absolutely not!  Instead we uphold the law.[23]

I want to consider the movie The Host as a Holy Spirit metaphor for one who does not yet experience Him.  There are many spoilers here and as a metaphor the film is fatally flawed.  But in the hope of communicating some small portion of the Ineffable, here goes.

“The earth is at peace,” a resistance leader named Jebediah (William Hurt) narrates the beginning of the film.  “There is no hunger.  There is no violence.  The environment is healed.  Honesty, courtesy and kindness are practiced by all.  Our world has never been more perfect.  Only it is no longer our world.  We’ve been invaded by an alien race.  They occupy the bodies of almost all human beings on the planet.  The few humans who have survived are on the run.”

Then we are introduced to Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) fleeing her enemies: honesty, courtesy and kindness.  Following her earthly father’s example, she attempts suicide but lives, despite her best efforts, only to be possessed by Wanderer (also Saoirse Ronan).  Melanie’s old human survives to fight Wanderer for control of their body.

The Seeker (Diane Kruger) interviews Wanderer to glean Melanie’s memories for knowledge of other old humans in the resistance underground.  When she decides that Melanie’s old human is too strong for Wanderer, she plans to put Wanderer in a more compliant host, search Melanie’s memories herself and then let Melanie die the death she wanted.  But Wanderer has begun to love Melanie.  They flee The Seeker together.

Melanie tricks Wanderer into the desert and leads her to Uncle Jebediah and the underground resistance.  Uncle Jeb uses all of his authority as a leader to keep others in the resistance from killing the obviously possessed Melanie/Wanderer.  Even Melanie’s lover Jared (Max Irons) has no sympathy for her at first.  In a get-to-know-you walk-and-talk Uncle Jeb shortens Wanderer’s name to Wanda.

Melanie begins to love Wanda as she witnesses Wanda’s concern for the people Melanie loves, even some she hates or is indifferent toward.  The metaphor breaks down, of course.  The holy spirits, called souls in the film, are many and varied, and some or not as holy as Wanda.  The Seeker ironically becomes almost human in her fears that she personally is losing control to her host Lacey (also Diane Kruger) and that the holy spirits may ultimately lose their possession of the humans.  In the end The Host becomes Satan’s wet dream as The Seeker’s fears become flesh: holy spirits collaborate with the resistance to rid humans of the holy spirits.

 

Mother is on the verge of bankruptcy.  I helped her in a similar position nearly twenty years ago.  She called me before I left for Christmas.  I offered to help again.  She accepted.  As I drove the hundred miles or so to my own mother’s house the evening after Mother committed herself to rehab I understood why we hadn’t met to review her finances yet.  I recalled the things I’ve said and done with Grandmother, Mother and Daughter, fretted over some things I hadn’t said or done and heard Darth Vader echoing in my head, saying, “Now his failure is complete.”

As far as I know I am the believer of record in their lives.  I will give an account of this stewardship before Jesus.  As the enormity of my failure to live a life that commends others to Jesus inundated me in crushing waves, the image of my mother scrubbing the basement floor on her hands and knees popped into my mind.  Of all the things she had said or done, of all the things I might have complained that she hadn’t said or done, this simple image stuck with me.

I had overdosed on some hallucinogen.  I had thrown up all night long on her basement floor.  My mother cleaning up after me became a living metaphor of my life.  I had returned to drugs because a simple taste a few days earlier brought back the feeling I had lost since my early days of trusting Jesus again.  I made many more bad decisions along the way.  But my mother never gave up on me.

As I drove through the dark hills thinking perhaps I had been spared from helping Mother again financially, the admonition of my penny-pinching father came to mind:

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

The words weren’t his but Rudyard Kipling’s.[24]  A man like me would be a fool to attempt Kipling’s vision of manhood apart from the Holy Spirit.  But the image of my mother’s loving persistence and my father’s words of counsel gave me some hope that I was there, the right person at the right place and time.  And that image and those words carried me through that dark night until the continuous infusion of the Holy Spirit’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and control took over again the next morning.

Who Am I? Part 5

Back to Romans, Part 85

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 5

[1] Genesis 1:27 (NET)

[2] Matthew 3:7 (NET)

[3] Matthew 3:8 (NET)

[4] 2 Samuel 12:5a (NET)

[5] 2 Samuel 12:7a (NET)

[6] 2 Samuel 12:13a (NET)

[7] Psalm 51:5 (NET)

[8] In the Septuagint both chêsêd (וחסד) and ṭôb (טוב) were translated by the one Greek word ἔλεός.

[9] Ezekiel 20:11 (NASB)

[10] Romans 2:26 (NET)

[11] Ezekiel 20:25 (NASB)

[12] Romans 7:10 (NET)

[13] Romans 7:12 (NET)

[14] Galatians 3:21b (NET)

[15] Romans 8:3a (NET)

[16] Romans 7:11 (NET)

[17] Romans 7:14, 15 (NET)

[18] Ezekiel 20:12 (NASB)

[19] When I struggled the most with this concept my Pastor was from the Christian and Missionary Alliance.  Today, as I scanned their webpage titled “Sanctification,” nothing jumps out at me as problematic except my own spiritual tic.  My flesh and my religious mind hear obedience in step 3 “to A Spirit-Filled Life”—“We maintain a continuous relationship with Jesus through obedience to His Word”—as a trigger word, calling me back to a DIY works religion.  But now I just translate obedience back into Greek, ὑπακοή, attentive hearkening, and the trigger obey disappears.  I remain (μείνατε, a form of μένω) in Jesus through faith instead (which is the actual word used in John 15:1-11 the Scriptural source of step 3).

[Addendum 1/26/2017] I’m not so sure Paul would agree that 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 “clearly teaches that there are two kinds of Christians.”

[20] Hebrews 4:9, 10 (NET)

[21] Galatians 2:20 (NET)

[22] Hebrews 4:11 (NET)

[23] Romans 3:31 (NET)

[24] https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/46473

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 2

Instruct these people as follows, yehôvâh had said to Moses: ‘You are about to cross the border of your relatives the descendants of Esau [Jacob’s brother], who inhabit Seir.  They will be afraid (yârêʼ, וייראו; Septuagint: φοβηθήσονται, afraid) of you, so watch yourselves carefully.’[1]

The rabbis who translated the Septuagint understood the last phrase, καὶ εὐλαβηθήσονται ὑμᾶς σφόδρα (“and they will be very cautious,” of you; i.e., of Israel).  Either works in context.  The origin of this fear was the destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea: The nations will hear, Moses and the Israelites sang to yehôvâh.  Israel by contrast overflowed with confidence (Exodus 15:13 NET):

By your loyal love you will lead the people whom you have redeemed; you will guide them by your strength to your holy dwelling place.

The Hebrew word translated By your loyal love was chêsêd (בחסדך).  Below is a table of forms of chêsêd and their translations in Genesis to the giving of the law.

chêsêd

Hebrew KJV NET Tanakh

Septuagint

Genesis 19:19 חסדך mercy kindness mercy δικαιοσύνην
Genesis 20:13 חסדך kindness loyalty kindness δικαιοσύνην
Genesis 21:23 כחסד kindness loyalty kindness δικαιοσύνην
Genesis 24:12 חסד kindness Be faithful kindness ἔλεος
Genesis 24:14 חסד kindness you have been faithful kindness ἔλεος
Genesis 24:27 חסדו mercy faithful mercy δικαιοσύνην
Genesis 24:49 חסד kindly faithful kindly ἔλεος[2]
Genesis 32:10 החסדים mercies faithful mercies δικαιοσύνης
Genesis 39:21 חסד mercy kindness kindness ἔλεος
Genesis 40:14 חסד kindness kindness kindness ἔλεος
Genesis 47:29 חסד kindly kindness kindly ἐλεημοσύνην
Exodus 15:13 בחסדך mercy By your loyal love in Thy love δικαιοσύνῃ
Exodus 20:6 חסד mercy covenant faithfulness mercy ἔλεος

This equation of mercy, kindness, faithfulness, loyalty and loyal love with δικαιοσύνῃ, righteousness, is a profound lesson in itself for one who neglected what is more important in the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness: the righteousness (δικαιοσύνη) of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, The righteous (δίκαιος) by faith will live.”[3]  Paul quoted Habakkuk 2:4.  The Tanakh reads, Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just (tsaddı̂yq, וצדיק) shall live by his faith.  The Septuagint translated into English reads, “If it draws back, my soul is not pleased in it, But the just shall live by my faith.”  The first part was translated, if he shrinks back, I take no pleasure in him[4] in the New Testament.

NET Parallel Greek

Septuagint

if he shrinks back, I take no pleasure in him.

Hebrews 10:38b

ἐὰν ὑποστείληται, οὐκ εὐδοκεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου ἐν αὐτῷ

Hebrews 10:38b

ἐὰν ὑποστείληται οὐκ εὐδοκεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου ἐν αὐτῷ

Habakkuk 2:4a

The righteous by faith will live

Romans 1:17b

ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται

Romans 1:17b

ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεώς μου ζήσεται

Habakkuk 2:4b


The nations will hear and tremble
,[5] the song Moses and the Israelites sang continued.  The Hebrew word translated tremble was râgaz (ירגזון).  As Joseph sent his brothers back to Canaan to bring their father and their families to Egypt, He said to them, “As you travel don’t be overcome with fear.”[6]  The Hebrew word translated be overcome with fear was also râgaz (תרגזו) but a footnote (31) acknowledged:

The verb means “stir up.” Some understand the Hebrew verb רָגָז (ragaz, “to stir up”) as a reference to quarreling (see Prov 29:9, where it has this connotation), but in Exod 15:14 and other passages it means “to fear.” This might refer to a fear of robbers, but more likely it is an assuring word that they need not be fearful about returning to Egypt. They might have thought that once Jacob was in Egypt, Joseph would take his revenge on them.

The rabbis who translated the Septuagint did not agree.  They chose ὀργίζεσθε (a form of ὀργίζω) in Genesis 45:24.  Be angry (ὀργίζεσθε) and do not sin,[7] Paul quoted the Psalm[8] in his letter to the Ephesians.

NET

Parallel Greek

Septuagint

Be angry and do not sin

Ephesians 4:26a

ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε

Ephesians 4:26a

ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε

Psalm 4:4a

And in Exodus 15:14 they chose ὠργίσθησαν (another form of ὀργίζω).  The nations were enraged[9] (τὰ ἔθνη ὠργίσθησαν) is nearer the rabbis’ understanding in the Septuagint ἤκουσαν ἔθνη καὶ ὠργίσθησαν.

The song continued, anguish will seize the inhabitants of Philistia.[10]  The Hebrew word translated anguish was chı̂yl (חיל).  It was translated pain (בחילה) in Job 6:10 and writhing (חיל) like a woman in childbirth in Psalm 48:6.  That is what the translators of the Septuagint picked up on with ὠδῖνες (a form of ὠδίν): Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” Paul wrote believers in Thessalonica, then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains (ὠδὶν) on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape.[11]

Then the chiefs of Edom will be terrified,[12] Moses’ song continued.  The Hebrew word translated terrified was bâhal (נבהלו).  It was also translated terrified (נבהל) in 1 Samuel 28:21, but they were dumbfounded (נבהלו) in Genesis 45:3 and panicked (ויבהל) in Judges 20:41.  That hasty confused state of mind seemed to be what the rabbis responded to in the Septuagint with ἔσπευσαν (a form of σπεύδω).  Hurry (σπεῦσον, another form of σπεύδω), Jesus said to Saul [Paul] in a vision, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.[13]

The song continued, trembling will seize the leaders of Moab.[14]  Here the Hebrew word translated trembling was raʽad (רעד).  It was translated shake uncontrollably (רעדה) in Psalm 48:6 and panic (רעדה) in Isaiah 33:14.  It was translated τρόμος in the Septuagint.  Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and ran from [Jesus’] tomb, for terror (τρόμος) and bewilderment had seized them.[15]

Moses and the people sang, and the inhabitants of Canaan will shake.[16]  The Hebrew word translated will shake was mûg (נמגו).  It was translated are cringing (נמגו) in Joshua 2:9 and seemed to melt (נמוג) in 1 Samuel 14:16.  This was the sense the rabbis understood in the Septuagint: “all those inhabiting Canaan melted away” (ἐτάκησαν, a form of τήκω), whether by death, defection or fleeing as refugees.  Peter prophesied, the heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away (τήκεται, another form of τήκω) in a blaze![17]

Fear and dread will fall on them; by the greatness of your arm they will be as still as stone until your people pass by, O Lord, until the people whom you have bought pass by.[18]  In the Septuagint this was understood as a request for more supernatural fear and trembling: “May fear and trembling fall upon them.”[19]  The Hebrew word translated fear (ʼêymâh, אימתה) was translated my terror in yehôvâh’s promise: I will send my terror (ʼêymâh, אימתי) before you, and I will destroy all the people whom you encounter.[20]  This terror was associated with an angel: For my angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them completely.[21]  Fear was φόβος in the Septuagint.   And Zechariah, visibly shaken when he saw the angel, was seized with fear (φόβος).[22]  The Hebrew word translated dread was pachad (ופחד), which was translated τρόμος in the Septuagint.

There was a lot of anger, pain, panic, trembling and defection among the people who heard about the Egyptians drowned in the Red Sea.  There was fear and dread of supernatural origin besides.  The fear (yirʼâh, יראת; Septuagint: φόβος) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.[23]  I heard that often with no trace of irony.  Apparently the NET translators heard it the same way for they went a step farther and translated yirʼâh to obey: To obey the Lord is the fundamental principle for wise living.[24]

An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked, David penned, There is no fear (pachad, פחד; Septuagint: φόβος) of God before his eyes.[25]  I didn’t hear this simply as a factual diagnosis but as a prescription for more fear.  I don’t think I’m entirely alone in this.  I had a pastor once who took No Fear sportswear as a personal insult.  Perhaps he was considering the quotation credited to Albert Camus: “Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.”

I didn’t find the context for this quote online so I’m just guessing, but I suppose that Camus didn’t know many French citizens who became committed NAZIs during the occupation out of fear, only resistance fighters and collaborators.  We see the same phenomenon in the Old Testament if we will see it: some rebelled against God, others adopted a hypocritical religiosity.  What is born of the flesh is flesh[26] and the works of the flesh[27] erupt eventually through the hypocritical veneer of any religion (Romans 3:10-18 NET).

“There is no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, not even one.”

“Their throats are open graves, they deceive with their tongues, the poison of asps is under their lips.”

“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood, ruin and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

This is the diagnosis.  The prescription is given in Jesus’ summary of Israel’s history: You must all be born from above,[28] not more fear but more God, the righteousness (δικαιοσύνη) of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe,[29] more of our daily bread, more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and Holy Spirit control, not pumped up artificially by some virtue of mine like some little engine that could, but flowing freely and continuously from those rivers of living water,[30] his Holy Spirit.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.[31]

If I may assume that yehôvâh’s instruction, how to behave[32] in Edom, implies yehôvâh’s intent that Israel pass through Edom, then the result of all of this anger, pain, panic, trembling, defection, fear and dread was exactly what one believing Jesus’ summary of Israel’s history would expect: Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border.[33]  Edom said to [Israel], “You will not pass through me, or I will come out against you with the sword.”[34]  Fear (φόβος), John explained, has to do with punishment.[35]

Though fear did not supply Esau’s descendants with enough faith in yehôvâh to allow Israel to cross through their land of Edom, it kept them from attacking Israel and being destroyed by yehôvâh.  Fear can produce collaborators.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom if the collaborators don’t settle down to live in it (1 John 4:15-19).  In that case they may have been better off as resistance fighters (Revelation 3:14-22).

Back to Who Am I? Part 4

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 5

[1] Deuteronomy 2:4 (NET)

[2] Here ʼemeth (ואמת) was translated δικαιοσύνην.

[3] Romans 1:17 (NET)

[4] Hebrews 10:38b (NET)

[5] Exodus 15:14a (NET)  Also in the Tanakh, tremble

[6] Genesis 45:24b (NET) In the Tanakh, fall not out

[7] Ephesians 4:26a (NET)

[8] Psalm 4:4 Also râgaz (רגזו) in Hebrew, translated Stand in awe in the Tanakh and Tremble with fear in the NET.

[9] Revelation 11:18 (NET)

[10] Exodus 15:14b (NET)

[11] 1 Thessalonians 5:3 (NET)

[12] Exodus 15:15a (NET)

[13] Acts 22:18b (NET)

[14] Exodus 15:15b (NET)

[15] Mark 16:8a (NET)

[16] Exodus 15:15c (NET)

[17] 2 Peter 3:12b (NET)

[18] Exodus 15:16 (NET)

[19] Exodus 16:16a (NETS)

[20] Exodus 23:27a (NET)

[21] Exodus 23:23 (NET)

[22] Luke 1:12 (NET)

[23] Psalm 111:10a (NKJV)

[24] Psalm 111.10a (NET)

[25] Psalm 36:1 (NKJV)

[26] John 3:6a (NET)

[27] Galatians 5:19-21 (NET)

[28] John 3:7b (NET)

[29] Romans 3:22a (NET)

[30] John 7:37-39 (NET)

[31] Romans 8:14 (NET)

[32] Deuteronomy 2:4-7 (NET)

[33] Numbers 20;21a (NET)

[34] Numbers 20:18 (NET)

[35] 1 John 4:18b (NET)

Romans, Part 84

For I tell you, Paul continued writing to believers in Rome, that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and thus the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy.[1]  These are two seemingly independent clauses joined by the conjunction δὲ, “but, moreover, and.”  Any of these would be easier to understand than and thus, indicating that the second clause is logically dependent upon the first.  But rather than reject it I’m inclined to slow down and consider it very carefully.

The translators acknowledge the difficulty in a footnote (6): “There are two major syntactical alternatives which are both awkward: (1) One could make ‘glorify’ dependent on ‘Christ has become a minister’ and coordinate with ‘to confirm’ and the result would be rendered ‘Christ has become a minister of circumcision to confirm the promises…and so that the Gentiles might glorify God.’ (2) One could make ‘glorify’ dependent on ‘I tell you’ and coordinate with ‘Christ has become a minister’ and the result would be rendered ‘I tell you that Christ has become a minister of circumcision…and that the Gentiles glorify God.’ The second rendering is preferred.”

I began with a survey of the promises made to the fathers (πατέρων, a form of πατήρ):

…the promises made to the fathers… (τὰς ἐπαγγελίας τῶν πατέρων)

Abram Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:14-17; 15:1-7, 18-20; 17:1-8[2]
Abraham Genesis 17:18-21; 18:10-14, 17-19, 26-32; 21:12-13; 22:15-18
Isaac Genesis 26:2-5, 24
Jacob/Israel Genesis 28:13-15; 31:3; 35:9-12; 46:2-4

Some of the promises were personal and came to pass in the father’s own lifetime.  But look, the word of the Lord came to [Abram]: [Eliezer of Damascus] will not be your heir, but instead a son who comes from your own body will be your heir.”[3]   Is anything impossible for the Lord? He said to Abraham.  I will return to you when the season comes round again and Sarah will have a son.[4]  The Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives.  I will be with you.”[5]  The promises made to all three concerned the land, their descendants and a singular descendant.

The Lord’s angel called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “‘I solemnly swear by my own name,’ decrees the Lord, ‘that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will greatly multiply your descendants (zeraʽ, זרעך; Septuagint: σπέρμα, singular) so that they will be as countless as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants (zeraʽ, זרעך; Septuagint: σπέρμα, singular) will take possession (yârash, וירש; Septuagint: κληρονομήσει, a form of κληρονομέω, 3rd person singular) of the strongholds of their enemies.  Because you have obeyed me, all the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name of your descendants (zeraʽ, בזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular).’”[6]

“This word,” [zeraʽ, זרעך] C. John Collins wrote, “in the singular can refer to offspring, either in a collective sense or as a specific descendant (much as the English word ‘offspring’).”[7]  I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore, is an example of the singular in a “collective sense.”  [Desmond] “Alexander argues,” Mr Collins continued, “that the second and third instances of ‘offspring’ are used for a specific offspring.”[8]  Given that, and without any academic credentials to defend, I wonder about some of the other promises.  The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) appeared to Isaac and said (Genesis 26:2-5 NET):

“Do not go down to Egypt; settle down in the land that I will point out to you.  Stay in this land.  Then I will be with you and will bless you, for I will give all these lands to you and to your descendants (zeraʽ, ולזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular), and I will fulfill the solemn promise I made to your father Abraham.  I will multiply your descendants (zeraʽ, זרעך; Septuagint: σπέρμα, singular) so they will be as numerous as the stars in the sky, and I will give them (zeraʽ, לזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular) all these lands.  All the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name of your descendants (zeraʽ, בזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular).  All this will come to pass because Abraham obeyed me and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

Did yehôvâh promise that, All the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name of [Isaac, Esau and Jacob]…because Abraham obeyed Him?  The Tanakh is considerably more circumspect in translation: and by thy seed shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves; because that Abraham hearkened to My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.  To Jacob yehôvâh said (Genesis 28:13-15 NET):

“I am the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of your father Isaac.  I will give you and your descendants (zeraʽ, ולזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular) the ground you are lying on.  Your descendants (zeraʽ, זרעך; Septuagint: σπέρμα, singular) will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west, east, north, and south.  All the families of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using your name and that of your descendants (zeraʽ, ובזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular).  I am with you!  I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land.  I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you!”

Did yehôvâh promise that, All the families of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name Israel?  Again, the Tanakh is more circumspect in translation: And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.  Why would Gentiles translate the Scripture this way?  Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant, Paul wrote believers in Galatia.  Scripture does not say, “and to the descendants,” referring to many, but “and to your descendant,” referring to one, who is Christ.[9]

Why would contemporary Gentiles, the primary beneficiaries of these particular promises, change yehôvâh’s promises? and [Jesus Christ] shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in [Jesus Christ] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because [Abraham] hast hearkened to [His] voice.[10]  And, by [Jesus Christ] shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves; because that Abraham hearkened to [His] voice, and kept [His] charge, [His] commandments, [His] statutes, and [His] laws.[11]  And in [Israel] and in [Jesus Christ] shall all the families of the earth be blessed.[12]

And since I’ve gone down this rabbit hole I might as well complete the set: all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name[13]  [i.e., Abram], where the Tanakh reads: in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.  It seems absurd to continue to defend one word thus.  But I didn’t start down this path trusting the translators of the NET.  What I called an inclination is a leading I have learned to trust following Jesus through the Scripture.  Still, I doubt this is what Paul had in mind. 

Look, your house is left to you desolate!” Jesus had said to the circumcised. “For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”[14]  “Look, your house is forsaken!  And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”[15]  It would be difficult for one who did not believe that Jesus is yehôvâh to understand how He has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to Abram/Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel.

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants (zeraʽ, לזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular) I will give this land.”[16]  Isolated as this promise is I’m inclined to hear לזרעך as both, “in a collective sense” and “as a specific descendant.”  The idea that yehôvâh promised to give this land to yehôvâh come to earth in human flesh as Jesus the Messiah is admittedly unintelligible.  But the idea that yehôvâh promised Abram that one of his descendents, to whom the land was given, is yehôvâh come to earth in human flesh as Jesus the Messiah is powerful indeed.  Jesus is ever worthy, ever producing the fruit of the kingdom of God.  At a moment when the rest of the descendants of Israel were about to lose the vineyard as they would lose the kingdom of God Jesus has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to Abram/Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel.

After Lot had departed, the Lord said to Abram, “Look from the place where you stand to the north, south, east, and west.  I will give all the land that you see to you and your descendants (zeraʽ, ולזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular) forever.  And I will make your descendants (zeraʽ, זרעך; Septuagint: σπέρμα, singular) like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone is able to count the dust of the earth, then your descendants (zeraʽ, זרעך; Septuagint: σπέρμα, singular) also can be counted.  Get up and walk throughout the land, for I will give it to you.”[17]  That day the Lord made a covenant with Abram: “To your descendants (zeraʽ, לזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular) I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates River – the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”[18]  And finally (Genesis 17:8 NET):

I will give the whole land of Canaan – the land where you are now residing – to you and your descendants (zeraʽ, ולזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular) after you as a permanent possession.  I will be their (Septuagint: αὐτοῖς, plural) God.”

“So how did it come about,” Manfred Davidmann asked rhetorically, “that the Jewish people were expelled twice from the country God promised them with their grip on the country weakening at the present time?  Without a shadow of a doubt the Jewish people lost the country in the past because they did not fulfil their part of the bargain, because they broke the terms of the Covenant…In the language of religion, the land of Israel does not belong to anyone other than God.  Those who live in it may use and benefit from the land but only as long as they follow God’s laws.”[19]

Mr. Davidmann might have taught my Sunday school class.  The “Torah states a scientific law, the Social Cause-and-effect Relationship {1}, which is that the consequences of keeping or not keeping the Torah laws are inescapable, that what happens to one is in the end the inevitable result of one’s own behaviour…this is a scientific law which was defined and stated using the language of religion to get the message across to listeners in such a way that they could understand at least the effects of this ’cause-and-effect relationship’.”  He may have raised a few eyebrows with the adjective scientific but all in all I think my elders would have gone along with him.  I have a few comments about Mr. Davidmann’s abbreviated version of the law:

The essential social provisions of Torah law are clear and to the point.  This is what the Torah lays down as a matter of law {1}:

  1. The community has to provide (‘lend’) money to those who need it, free of interest.
  2. All such loans, if outstanding, are to be cancelled every seventh year.
  3. The country’s wealth, and this applies particularly to productive capital such as land, belongs equally to all and needs to be shared out.
  4. Inhabitants are also entitled to have a sabbatical year every seventh year. During this sabbatical year they are entitled to be freed from work at the expense of the community.

Every person is entitled as a matter of right to social security.  This means that people are entitled to be supported by the community not only when they fall on hard times but also to maintain their independence as independent breadwinners for their families.  For example, the community has to provide backup funds to those who need them and they have to be provided as and when required.

To prevent people being exploited through their need these funds have to be provided without charging interest and such ‘loans’ are cancelled every seventh year if the borrower has been unable to repay them.

It is the inhabitants who keep the social laws, who keep Torah law, who are entitled to these rights.

As for item #4 there is a qualitative and substantive difference between farmers trusting yehôvâh enough to let their lands go fallow one year in seven and an angry mob demanding their “rights” to a year’s vacation at “community” expense.  Aside from that federal, state and municipal governments in the United States of America provide most of these welfare benefits in spirit if not to the letter of the law.  But none of this is sufficient to fulfill the law.  It was the so-called moral law ignored by Mr. Davidmann that prescribed the death penalty for so many offenses, for the letter kills quite literally.

So here I am, one of the believing Gentiles [who] glorify God for his mercy (ἐλέους, a form of ἔλεος).  And this, because the righteousness of God which fulfills the law does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy (ἐλεῶντος, a form of ἐλεέω).[20]  No one can come to me, Jesus said, unless the Father who sent me draws him.[21]  So then, God has mercy (ἐλεεῖ, another form of ἐλεέω) on whom he chooses to have mercy, and he hardens whom he chooses to harden.[22]  And what if he is willing to make known the wealth of his glory on the objects of mercy (ἐλέους, a form of ἔλεος) that he has prepared beforehand for glory – even us, whom he has called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?[23]

By that mercy I have been called to faith in Jesus Christ, forgiven of my sins, born from above, filled continuously with the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control of his Holy Spirit.  This only I want to learn from you, Paul wrote teetering believers in Galatia: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?  Are you so foolish?  Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?  Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?[24]  It would be treasonous for me to turn back now and pretend that I might fulfill the law by obeying it, whether in part or in total.

So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.[25]  Through the law comes the knowledge of sin.  But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed – namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.[26]  I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing![27]

I’ll return to this in another essay.

Romans, Part 85

[1] Romans 15:8, 9a (NET)

[2] This is an interesting article I stumbled across searching for confirmation that σπέρμα, σπέρματί and σπέρματός are singular.  http://www.lionelwindsor.net/2010/03/16/the-singular-seed-of-galatians-316/

[3] Genesis 15:4 (NET)

[4] Genesis 18:14 (NET)

[5] Genesis 31:3 (NET)

[6] Genesis 22:15-18 (NET)

[7] C. John Collins, “GALATIANS 3:16: WHAT KIND OF EXEGETE WAS PAUL?” Tyndale Bulletin 54.1 (2003), p. 84

[8] Ibid., p. 85

[9] Galatians 3:16 (NET)

[10] Genesis 22:17b, 18 (Tanakh)

[11] Genesis 26:4b, 5 (Tanakh)

[12] Genesis 28:14b (Tanakh)

[13] Genesis 12:3b (NET)

[14] Matthew 23:38, 39 (NET)

[15] Luke 13:35 (NET)

[16] Genesis 12:7a (NET)

[17] Genesis 13:14-17 (NET)

[18] Genesis 15:18-21 (NET)

[19] http://www.solhaam.org/articles/land.html

[20] Romans 9:16 (NET)

[21] John 6:44a (NET)

[22] Romans 9:18 (NET)

[23] Romans 9:23, 24 (NET)

[24] Galatians 3:2-4 (NKJV)

[25] Romans 7:12 (NET)

[26] Romans 3:20b-22 (NET)

[27] Galatians 2:20, 21 (NET)