Laws of the Israelites

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Homer
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Re: Laws of the Israelites

Post by Homer » Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:12 pm

So we are informed the standard by which we determine the truthfulness of a large part of the Old Testament is a subjective test based on our understanding of the implications of things said in the New Testament. But what then is the standard by which the gospel message is to be judged in regard to the truth? Turns out that in the mind of the Apostle Paul it is the Old Testament:

Acts 17:10-12 (NASB)

10. The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.

Paul commended the Bereans for their use of Old Testament to verify the truthfulness of the Gospel message. But if the Old Testament is not trustworthy and full of error........hmm. :oops:

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Re: Laws of the Israelites

Post by psimmond » Tue Apr 28, 2015 9:48 am

Homer, I think that's a good point. The NT can help us understand the OT, and the OT can help us understand the NT. (But I do default to the teachings of God in the flesh when in question.)
"But if the Old Testament is not trustworthy and full of error........hmm"
I think statements like this aren't that helpful to this discussion because everybody in this discussion feels that much/most of the OT is trustworthy. Errors here and there do not negate an entire collection of books.
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dizerner
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Re: Laws of the Israelites

Post by dizerner » Tue Apr 28, 2015 11:02 am

Seeing as I've posted to the thread I feel I should contribute to the original topic. I will give my understanding of how'd I'd answer the original posts.
Now this appears problematic. First God tells them the Israelites that they are not to kill — period. (no qualifications are specified). Now He orders His people to kill those who commit particular offenses.
At first glance this might seem like a contradiction. It would be ridiculous to think the people, if they thought it sounded like a contradiction, wouldn't say something about it. If they received the 10 commandments audibly they would easily and readily know that was Moses said really was a lie. They could judge Moses by what 2-3 million Jews heard audibly at Sinai for themselves. My defense of this supposed contradiction would be, that for God to command man to do something, is in essence God doing it himself, not the man. This is, through authority, the idea of transferred responsibility. You see this idea vividly when Pilate requests Jesus be released, but then seeks the crowd to audibly take responsibility for the action. one might also argue ideas such as self-defense, if I'm going to die or my attacker is going to die, then why should it be me passively letting myself be killed. Or in wartime, does God mean to say that there should never be any casualities (since Israel was on the verge of war). I don't think a single Israelite in all of Israel would have interpreted the 10 commandments that way, but 4,000 years later when the text offends someone we seek to redefine it in a way that it never would have been understood.
But would Christ, who revealed God to man by His personal life and teachings ever require anyone to kill another? Did He ever do so? hNowhere does Jesus or His apostles ask us to put anyone to death for their wrongdoing. Indeed, Jesus was unwilling to carry out the Mosaic law in stoning to death the adulterous woman. Rather He instructed her to go and sin no more.
I agree that the NT teachings never indicate killing people, of course. So in that sense I see the early OT times as entirely dispensational up until the veil was rent and the temple afterwards destroyed. I, myself, am an extremely non-violent and incredibly gentle person who could probably not even serve in the military, although I don't judge those who do. Were my life or that of someone I loved threatened, I might resort to violence in a desperate, unwilling kind of way. I object to you saying here that Jesus was "unwilling" as if he just couldn't motivate himself to obey the Torah. Jesus had a valid and good reason not to obey the Torah in this instance, and he was not thereby disavowing the inspiration of the Torah. Since Jesus brought in a new dispensation and a true living fulfillment of Torah, both in obedience to it, and judgment for disobeying it, and since Jesus was appointed judge of all human flesh, Jesus had the power to forgive sins or do anything he desired. That fact, though, does not disavow the inspiration of Torah or it's binding authority upon the Jewish nation. This is why they were judged for rejecting Jesus. Jesus was their "Torah-fulfiller."
Then there is an unusual rule, supposedly God's commandment according to Moses, for judging whether or not a murderer should be put to death:

Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee. (Exodus 21:12,13)

So if a would-be killer lies in wait for his victim, that is, if the murder is pre-meditated, he is to be put to death. But if he simply kills him in a fit of rage (God having let the man “fall into his hand”), then God will provide a place for the killer to flee so that no one will kill him.
I think you misinterpet this verse, that it clearly speaks of a accidental manslaughter, not 2nd degree murder as you propose. The ancients used the term "act of God" like that to mean something seemingly beyond human control of the outcome.
If Jesus had recognized as God's these commands for God's people to kill sinners or to wreak vengeance upon them, would He not have quoted at least once the many places in which Moses describes God as ordering such acts as genocide, the cutting off of women's hands, the stoning of disobedient sons, etc.?
This is, I think, a somewhat misleading question because who "God's people" are was transitioning in the life of Christ. Jesus did affirm the Law, the Writings, and the Prophets, up to the very jot and tittle. However Jesus also brought in a new dispensation based entirely upon himself and his fulfillment of the prophesied Messiah, bringing an end to the Old Covenant and God's dispensation of regarding the Jews as his chosen people and nation at his death, opening up God's dealings now with a new and living way of the individual heart's faith in Christ, rather than temple offerings and services. So I would say Jesus had authority to bring a new way of relating to God, even while his life was fulfilling what the Torah respresented and foreshadowed. Once Christ is our "Torah-fulfiller" what matters is how one relates to Christ instead of the Torah directly. And this understanding is something Christ taught and brought to the Jewish people in the understanding of him as the Savior of the world through his life and death, thus fulfilling what the Messiah was actually meant to be.
Would He not have at least once described God as a severe dispenser of vengeance in executing judgment by killing people?
Christ taught God will give a severer punishment than can even be meted out physically, and the NTW letters affirm this idea.
So Jesus taught that the divorce law not only originated with Moses, but that God's law contradicted it.
Jesus was not trying to pit God against Moses in this passage. Moses ministry represented God's desires, and as judge of Israel he would reflect God's decisions. You could use this to argue that many laws were due to the hardness of people's hearts. I don't find any objection in that idea.
Perhaps the commandment, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy” is one of the laws which the elders devised. This commandment is not found in the law of Moses.
You're right on this. Proverbs instructs one to feed one's enemies, and that will be rewarded.
For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’

But either way, Jesus did not ascribe any of the laws to God.
I don't know what semantic game you're playing to try to get out of this one, but anyone can clearly see Jesus attributed those laws to God.
But Jesus showed that even the primary laws of God were not actually followed if one only keeps them outwardly:

One may refrain from killing, but if he hates someone, his heart condition is similar or identical to that of a murderer.

One may refrain from adultery, but if he looks at a wife with desire, his heart condition is similar to that of a person who actually carries out the act.
This is a good and important point. I do think the Torah commands were symbolic of spiritual realities.
For he who has entered His rest has also rested from his works even as God did from His own.

Some in our day think this refers from ceasing from self-effort and allowing God to empower us. But Justin Martyr and other early Christians understood it as ceasing from our evil works. Justin affirmed that Christians keep “perpetual sabbath” in that they have permanently ceased from their evil works.
I don't think this interpretation is at all tenable. God never did anything negative that he ceased from. Grace teachers get the idea of rest from works in the exact same book of Hebrews which contrasts religious activities with the sufficiency of the work of Christ. The only other argument you could convincingly make is this speaks of death, as there is the corollary of the saints ceasing from their works in Rev. 14. But saying that we cease from evil works as God did from his work seems preposterous. The text is describing entering the so-called "Promised Land" and equating that to sharing God's continuing Sabbath rest.
Other symbolic laws included the command to keep the feasts: Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles, etc. All of these picture some Christian practice or stage of development.
I completely agree with this.
To ascribe them all to God is to denigrate the loving character of God, who through kindness, attempts to bring people to repentance, and if this result is not obtained, then to discipline them as a loving father would his children. But to ascribe to God acts of revenge such as killing people out of a fit of anger, or cutting off women's hands, etc. is not to do justice to His character, the One who is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance. God who is fully cognizant of the minds of people, whom He created in His image, knows what steps to take to bring people to repentance, steps which may be kind and gentle, severe, or somewhere on the spectrum between these two extremes.
I disagree with the logical conclusion that even though the OT law doesn't reflect God's desire for human morality or kindness that it therefore does not refelct the character of God in any way or was not from God and therefore was in error. God can use symbolism, for one, if he so desires; GOd can also work in dispensations. Evil and the fall, are serious problems when mixed with the holiness of God, and a big theme of Scripture is that the Seraphim do not all cry "Love! Love! Love!" around God's throne nor did God's love allow Adam and Eve immediate entrance back to the tree of life or his loving embrace. That is not to say God is cruel, but God allowing the entrance of evil and that evil resulting in more judgments from God might seem cruel many times. This is important to a true Biblical understanding of the character of God, and in keeping with the reverence, fear and humility taught in both OT and NT. God's love is clearly conditional in both testaments, no matter how extraordinary.
Jesus, the Son of God, revealed the true character of God both in His teachings and by His life of righteousness. When people understand God's loving character, they will cease blaming Him for all the unspeakable misery which some must endure, and which perhaps most endure in some period of their lives.
Jesus, however, did come into this world to kill one specific person: Himself. In Christ's passion, where he suffered the wrath of God upon sin, we learn that God's love is costly and not to the exclusion of God's holiness. Also, you seem to indicate solving the moral dilemma of God's harsh OT commands somehow solves the entire problem of evil and suffering, and I can't follow that logically at all. Evil and suffering is, even according to the Bible, an unsolvable paradox.
It is difficult to imagine Jesus carrying out the atrocities often ascribed to God. If people truly understood God's love which manifests itself sometimes in a gentle way, sometimes as tough and severe, but all for the purpose of bringing people to repentance and righteousness, they would be more likely to serve the only God who exists — the God of LOVE and GRACE.
However, this is not how the Scripture describes the ability for humans to change their hearts, repent and turn to righteousness. It is not merely pondering a loving Supreme Being that delivers us from sin or infuses us with resurrection life. It is deliberately and solely focusing on faith in the Work of Christ's life, death and resurrection on our behalf that accomplishes justification and sanctification in the human heart.
Last edited by dizerner on Tue Apr 28, 2015 11:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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dizerner
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Re: Laws of the Israelites

Post by dizerner » Tue Apr 28, 2015 11:19 am

Can you quote a single passage from the memoirs of Christ (the gospels) which indicate that He had a tendency to seek revenge when wronged? You know you can't. Did Jesus display vindictiveness when He was wronged more than any man at His crucifixion? Did His words "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing?" indicate a vindictive spirit? Did He go to the cross as meek as a lamb, or as raging as a lion? Was He the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? Or was He the Lion of God who punishes the sin of the world?
Jesus did not come into this world to bring the final judgments for all deeds, not under the Old Covenant dispensation. But Jesus also did not hold back truths about God's judgments stemming from his holiness. I pasted above a lot of the passages where Christ talks about condemnation for sin. Also Revelation does show us Christ in a far different and overarching light, one where he transcends his merely human nature. It describes all nations wailing when they see the Lamb coming in his wrath in the final judgment apocalypse.
That one word is "εκδικησις". It is true that lexicons give "vengeance" as a meaning for the word, and translations often render the word as "vengeance". But it seems the meaning of the word is broader than that.
It's true the words meaning is broader than vengeance, however in your exegesis you left out a direct parralel in the text itself which leads to the meaning "vengeance."

For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out εκδικησις to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Here we see this particular kind of εκδικησις is equated to God repaying those who were currently afflicting with an even greater affliction through the mighty angels using flaming fire and thus bringing "vindication" to those currently afflicted.
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Homer
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Re: Laws of the Israelites

Post by Homer » Tue Apr 28, 2015 11:55 am

Hi psimmond,

You wrote:
I think statements like this aren't that helpful to this discussion because everybody in this discussion feels that much/most of the OT is trustworthy. Errors here and there do not negate an entire collection of books.
But here is the elephant in the room: once you go down the road of substantial or consequential error in the OT, and that Moses, for example, was mistaken in various things he wrote concerning what God said and did, that involve our understanding of the character of God, there is no way to determine where the line is between truth and falsehood.

It is one thing to say there is error when information concerning a fact is written such as when in one place we are informed there were 1000 men involved in a battle and elsewhere it is said to have been 10,000. There was obviously a mistake in a case like that and it is easily explained how it could occur. But to argue from a subjective standpoint that God had no part in the events of the conquest of Canaan, recorded in the Book of Joshua, or that Moses was mistaken when specific laws and punishments were given, places one, IMO, in the Jesus seminar category. Might as well gather together and go verse by verse through the Old Testament and vote on which verses are to be kept and which ones Thomas Jefferson's scissors should be applied to. Make no mistake, there are prominent wolves among the sheep today, leading people astray.

I have attended a debate between a pastor in the area and Marcus Borg (Jesus Seminar). I am sure Borg is a good man with good intentions. He can give a story of his spiritual experience as impressive as any you will hear. He does not believe in the Jesus we believe in; he is a skeptic. I fear some here are headed in Borg's direction.

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Re: Laws of the Israelites

Post by Paidion » Tue Apr 28, 2015 12:18 pm

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (Luke 6:35 ESV)

Greetings, Dizerner,
I have often quoted the above verse to show how Jesus described the Father—as kind to both ungrateful people and evil people, as opposed how He treated evil people as stated in the Old Testament. And Jesus asks His listeners also to love their enemies and do good to them. It seems as if the Father whose character Jesus described if quite different from the character of God as described in the Old Testament. No wonder that the second-century gnostics thought that the creator was one who thought he was the supreme God, but was mistaken, whereas they thought that the real supreme God was a different God, and was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

However, the following passage didn't seem as strong to me, and so I don't use it as often:

You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt 5:43-45 NASB)

Of course, God makes his sun to shine and his rain to fall on EVERYONE. That is painfully obvious. He is again using the Father's character to show that his hearers should love and pray for their enemies and treat them like everyone else. But I didn't think his example of making the sun shine on everyone and the rain to fall on everyone was particularly strong.

However, recently I understood that this is just one more way in which Jesus shows the character of God as different to that in which He is depicted in the Old Testament. Moses didn't teach universal sun and rain. Rather he stated Yahweh as saying that He will give rain to those who serve Him, but will withhold it from those who turn aside and serve other gods:

And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you. (Deut 11:13-17ESV)
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Re: Laws of the Israelites

Post by dizerner » Tue Apr 28, 2015 12:21 pm

Homer wrote:Make no mistake, there are prominent wolves among the sheep today, leading people astray.
And they wear the sheep's clothing of "love and peace" while underneath they are ferocious wolves concerning holiness and judgment.
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Re: Laws of the Israelites

Post by steve » Tue Apr 28, 2015 2:06 pm

One reason I have stayed out of this thread, for the most part, is that Paidion and I have discussed this subject ad nauseum in at least two, if not three, previous threads, and they usually end up with us becoming irritated with each other, without convincing each other of any point.

What seems plain to me is that Jesus and the apostles accepted the Law of Moses as being given by God, and counted upon this fact in all their arguments. Homer has quoted a number of excellent texts establishing this fact, and they are more often ignored than refuted by those of a contrary view.

And it isn't just the Old Testament that is being dissected by the critics. In previous discussions, Paidion has even been willing to disregard the New Testament writers whenever they contradict (as they often do) his interpretation of what he thinks is or is not consistent with God as revealed in Christ. Paul, Peter, Luke and the writer of Revelation have all been weighed and found wanting in the eyes of those who promote (but who object to my saying that they promote) a one-dimensional view of God. Psimmond even called into question the death penalty for those who curse their parents, when none less than Jesus declared that specific law to be commanded by God (Matt.15:4).

Every major biblical writer, in both Testaments, sees God as one who judges sinners, both eschatologically and temporally. They all endorse the authority of the Old Testament scriptures, and cite them to prove their ideas, without ever suggesting that they had reservations about any part of their contents. If we should say these writers were more ignorant than we are of the status of the Old Testament laws and narratives, we do not solve the problem:

By what means are the Torah's critics "discovering" the faults in the law and the historical narratives? Is it not by appeal to their own superior grasp of God's character, as they see it exhibited in Christ? Where this becomes problematic is in their failure to demonstrate that their own knowledge of Christ's character exceeds that of the apostolic writers, who saw no conflict between the total inspiration of the Law and the Prophets, on the one hand, and of Christ on the other.

Any sensible person would allow that the apostles, chosen by Christ to preserve His teachings and to shape His movement, would have recognized any contradiction (especially one so glaring as the critics of Moses imagine to exist) between the Law that they had memorized from childhood, and the Jesus whom they observed more clearly than has any modern man.

Those who walked and talked with the real Jesus (as opposed to a one-dimensional version that modern minds are capable of dreaming up) would have been surprised to learn that Moses, whom God declared to be, above all other prophets, "faithful in all my house," in the majority of his writings, acted as a false prophet.

While some laws of Moses are unsavory to me, this does not invalidate them. I have always been able to harmonize them with the total revelation of God culminating in Christ. Those who feel the need to undermine the divine origin of many Old Testament statements (which they lack the ability to harmonize with Christ's character) might do well to distrust their own exegetical abilities, since the apostles, the church fathers, and the vast majority of faithful scholars through the ages, found no such difficulty.

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Re: Laws of the Israelites

Post by steve7150 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 2:30 pm

While some laws of Moses are unsavory to me, this does not invalidate them. I have always been able to harmonize them with the total revelation of God culminating in Christ. Those who feel the need to undermine the divine origin of many Old Testament statements (which they lack the ability to harmonize with Christ's character) might do well to distrust their own exegetical abilities, since the apostles, the church fathers, and the vast majority of faithful scholars through the ages, found no such difficulty.





Glad to see your input Steve. I think Paidion has raised a valid subject and has raised important points. Yet as you said the NT writers never hinted that there was any difficulty with anything written in the OT. Paidion countered with the fact that Jesus never quoted the violent texts in the OT , yet he did reference the flood and Sodom and Gemorrah. Paidion's counter was that Jesus never claimed God caused these events. That was a weak response IMHO, and i think Paidion would do better dealing with the obvious fact that God caused these events.
I actually can't harmonize some of these OT texts with Jesus description of God , yet i am content to leave it as something that i'll just trust Jesus about. He seemed OK with the OT , so i'll be too and that allows me to trust him about everything else.

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Re: Laws of the Israelites

Post by Paidion » Tue Apr 28, 2015 3:44 pm

Homer wrote:I have attended a debate between a pastor in the area and Marcus Borg (Jesus Seminar). I am sure Borg is a good man with good intentions. He can give a story of his spiritual experience as impressive as any you will hear. He does not believe in the Jesus we believe in; he is a skeptic. I fear some here are headed in Borg's direction.
Do you know of anyone here, who is "headed in the direction" of denying the physical resurrection of the Messiah as Borg did?
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