The Sixth Command – Murder

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     You shall not kill. The Hebrew word for “kill” is a word modern translations render “murder.” The Hebrew word can be used in contexts where one is killed intentionally or unintentionally. In Matthew 5:21-26, Jesus develops what we are to understand. The command “thou shalt not kill” is a moral failing that begins in the heart before it shows itself in criminal activity.

Consider some numbing information: some in Western society are supportive of the moral failing associated with euthanasia, otherwise known “mercy” killings. If the outcry surrounding abortion is any indication, the current outcry surrounding “mercy” killings will soon die down (pun intended). It’s a shame that so many people now recognize such killings as part of our lives. In Holland, euthanasia has been in practice for decades. In December 1998 the British Medical Journal reported that in 1995 there were 900 cases of non-voluntary euthanasia victims.

The Dred Scott case of the Supreme Court in 1857 said slaves were not legal persons. The Supreme Court, in 1973, said in effect that children in the womb are not either. It was two lawyers who defended Norma McCorvey’s right to kill her child. These lawyers, it is said, had no interest in Norma as a person (surely, they did not have any interest in any child that would be in the womb either!).  They just wanted to challenge the law prohibiting killing of the innocent in all 50 states. They got their wish when in 1973 the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Satan’s work.

Some argue, in their lack of moral wisdom, the child in the womb is not viable; it may be life, but not viable life. This is man’s attempt to justify an action the Lord will never accept. “Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they may enlarge their border” (Amos 1:13, ASV, emphasis added, RT).

The shame of it all is associated with people who have become hardened to the moral failings of society. We all have our own political interests. They are varied. We ought not to think, however, our varied political interests are an acceptable approach to the Lord as we vote one political philosophy, relegating the Lord’s holiness and virtue out of our public sector under the banner of “separation of church and state.” When a person votes into office a man or woman who compromises the Lord’s way, this is a contribution to the slaughter of the innocent. The attorneys who defended the killing of the innocent to the Supreme Court will give an account to the Lord, as those who ruled against moral virtue back in 1857. Why do we think it will be any different with our individual votes?

Capital punishment does not fall under the Lord’s prohibition, as can be seen throughout the Scriptures. Capital cases are not related to the innocent, but to the guilty. Capital cases are seen for the following crimes/sins: striking or cursing a parent; blasphemy; sabbath breaking; witchcraft and false pretensions to prophecy; adultery; unchastity (of various sorts); rape; incest; abducting people for slavery; idolatry; false witnessing; murder (N-ISBE, volume 3, pp.1052-1053).

APPLICATION. The principle of this command, in a New Testament context, is our obligation to the Lord as far greater than any obligation given to man, including the political arena as well. It is a moral outrage that any Christian would support what is inherently evil! We will answer for it. One violates the Scripture because of where the heart is. RT

 

WHAT KIND OF MAN?

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What kind of man is Jesus? He was no ordinary man, that is for sure. Yet, He came to this earth to endure the life ordinary men must live. Ordinary men are both those who are dressed in rags and those dressed in the finest of clothing, to say nothing of those in between. Jesus was no ordinary man, but He became ordinary for you and me.

Isn’t it good that He did? For certain! When there is one of us that struggles with sin, never thinking we are going to be able to overcome, is it not good that to Him each can turn? When there is one of us that struggles with the weight of the world against us (as we view the world), is it not good that to Him one can turn and see that He, too, struggled? When there is one of us that is lonely beyond measure, is it not good that to Him one can turn and find comfort and companion as each reflect on His time in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Jesus was able to sleep in a boat when the Sea around Him was tumultuous; the disciples were greatly afraid, even awakening Jesus to ask Him if He cared. Jesus cared, and in His answer to those who awoke Him He asked, “Where is your faith?” Seems a strange question, I suppose, but in fact it’s not strange at all. Perhaps in this question, the answers to man’s greatest struggles are found.

Where is your faith? My faith is in my inability to do as I know I should and to do as I know I want to. Is that not the problem? My faith is in me, or not in me (if you will). Because one’s faith is in self, the eyes of focus have been taken off Jesus. Yet the Holy Spirit exhorts that we are keep our eyes tuned straight ahead. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:1-2, ASV).

Reflecting on the examples in Hebrews 11, the Holy Spirit said we should also reflect on them. One reflects best, in this circumstance, when one’s eyes are taken off oneself and places it on something else, namely, those who have walked ahead of us. We should also make a conscience decision to lay aside the weight that easily sets us back. How does one do that? To begin, get on your knees, then (second) remove your eyes off the object that tempts you; thirdly, most importantly, let each of us look unto Jesus. Not only because He is there to help us, but also because He is the author of salvation. This means we have come to understand that there is nothing in me that can make things right, but I can turn to Him who is the essence of right and know that He already made things right. What He requires of me is trust and obedience (cf. Luke 6:46).

Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God’s throne. What kind of man is Jesus? He is no ordinary man; He can tame the Sea, He can heal a demon-possessed person, He can overcome the academics of His day, He is the one who values one human soul over a heard of life-stock, He can tell a lonely and sinful woman to “sin no more.” He is the Lord!

While people fear the unknown and the world of demons, the demons fear the Author of Life.

Jesus is the man!

 

The Fifth Commandment – Honor Your Father and Mother

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“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).

It has been said many times that when one considers the Ten Commandments, it is not long before one notices the “geometric” approach taken by the Lord. In other words, the first four commands have a vertical approach to life, that is, in relationship to God, and the last 6 commands are focused on a horizontal approach, that is in relationship to one’s neighbor. Take note how this compares with the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:34-40, when Jesus said the two great commands are to love God with all of one’s being and to love one’s neighbor as one loves (takes care of) self.

The family is the basic community-unit of society. To break it down further, the basic unit of society is the individual, but the single person connects with one of the opposite sex in marriage (not otherwise) and forms the family. The dictionary defines a family as a “group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head” (dictionary, p. 660). Though not a narrowly defined matter, it is a starting point for a conversation to begin. There are two perspectives to consider when seeking how one should understand the word “family.” First, the perspective of God; second, the perspective of the community as set forth by man. From God’s perspective, the family is established in matrimony. From this family comes children. The following words teaches us where it all begins:

And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: and the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (Gen. 2:21-25, ASV).  

With children coming forth from the mother and father, the parents are to instruct their children in God’s way. From the Lord’s perspective, if the children refused to submit the authority of the parents, there was severe punishment forthcoming. From parents comes wisdom that helps the youth to get along in life much better than if they did not have instructions in wisdom. If children are thieves, the Holy Spirit speaks of them as worthless (Proverbs 28:24). The negative qualities that are in children currently (perhaps) and in those who have grown up exist because, in part, parents have failed the children in upbringing. The children will learn if the parents compel it; the children will adjust to the correction if the punishment has meat to it, so to speak. As a parent, you are not your child’s best friend, you’re are a parent, a role of authority and responsibility. Whatever may be said about a “best friend” application in the rearing years of the child, the primary role of a parent is to nurture, teach, and correct so the child will be productive in his/her adult years, but more importantly, so the child will walk in the Lord’s ways. Parents are to be understanding of the children and they are to discipline as required (Proverbs 13:24; 23:13). As much as possible parents should stay away from, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

There is no way a child can honor parents when the chosen life to live is contrary to the guidance of their parents, just like there is no way to honor God when people choose to live life contrary to His holy way.

What it means to honor your parents then? The English word “honor” conveys the idea of respect, deference, esteem and give precedence to them over others. This is best understood by asking the question, “Do we honor the Lord?” We do this not only because of who He is but also on account of His love. To honor one’s parent/parents is to respect, defer, esteem and give precedence to them over others as one would do so to the Lord. Some parent/child relationships are scarred from earlier years, thus there may not be a direct emotional connection between the two. As much as is in you (those struggling with this), honor your parents because you want to please the Lord.

How do you honor someone who d/n deserve it? An admitted difficulty. Perhaps along this line we can make an application. It’s not the particular people and their behavior (past or current), but the fact you have life. To the degree that you can honor parenting, even when your parents failed you, to that degree you might be able to make sense of what should have been done even though it was not. It’s hard to respect and honor people who live in rebellion to God; nevertheless, because of your love and devotion to the Almighty, honor Him and what He says.

How does a person show any love or honor to parents who abandoned him? How does God show love toward one who not only spit on Jesus, but nailed the pegs into His flesh and watched as He writhed in agony?

The Fourth Commandment – Sabbath

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Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it (Exodus 20:8-11).

The Gospels are filled with the tension between Jesus and the Pharisees over the observance of the Sabbath (cf. John 5). Biblical history has shown the observance of the Sabbath day has been very important to the Israelite community; if one deliberately violated the Sabbath, judicial execution was the penalty (Exodus 31:14). To stay painfully close to the “letter of the law,” the Pharisees “strove to complete a formal code for Sabbath observance.” During one part of their history, Jewish armies refused to take up arms on the Sabbath. According to the Mishna (the Mishna is a collection of Jewish writings, compiled around A.D. 200), there were 39 forms of labor prohibited on the Sabbath. (McClintock-Strong, pp. 190 ff).

Are Christians obligated to observe the Sabbath? No, for two reasons: first, the Sabbath was given to the Israelite nation and no other (Exodus 31:15-17). Notice, it was exclusively to the Israelite nation. Secondly, under the New Covenant, the Old Law (Old Covenant) was nailed to the cross and this includes the specific command of Sabbath observance given to Israel (Colossians 2:14-15; cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:7-12). Thus, when the Lord came, He took with Him to the cross the exclusivity of the entirety of the old Law with Him. The commands, all the commands and ordinances given to Moses to teach the community of Israel were put to death.

And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses; having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it (Col. 2:13-15, ASV).

Some of those commands given by God to Moses transcends covenants; that simply means the positive application, or the negative prohibition always apply to any people regardless of which covenant is in force. In the case of Israel, most of those commands given by God to Moses were narrowly focused for an Israelite application, such as Leviticus 23. Under the New Covenant, there is no exclusivity to an ethnic people like there was under the Old Covenant.

Sometimes there is an objection offered such as the following: “Are you telling me God nailed only the fourth command of the Decalogue to the cross, but left the other nine for a New Testament implementation? Where is that in the New Testament [NT]?”

What this objection entails is this: there is a disconnect in understanding why the Lord would take all but one command from the Ten Words (commandments) and bring them into a NT application, leaving out only the fourth command out. One may understand the significance of “nailing to the cross” the commands/ordinances of Moses, such as in Exodus 22-24 or Leviticus 23, but how can that which is interpreted as God’s moral Law be nailed to the cross?

This is a failure to understand the role of the Law of Moses to an exclusive people. The Sabbath Day was a day to keep holy, to set apart as a day of rest. It is important to notice the sabbath command is not given to any people as the command to be observed previous to what one reads in Exodus 16. Many “Sabbatarians” (people who insist on observing the sabbath day command in a New Testament context) would have you understand the sabbath command goes back to the time of Genesis 1 and 2, but this is false. When the Lord made the seventh day of the week holy, He made it holy but obligated no people, as far as the biblical Record is concerned, to observe a seventh-day rest from work, or anything else. It’s not until one reads Exodus 16, thousands of years after creation, that the Lord enjoined the Israelites to this command. It is not unreasonable for one to interpret the words of Holy Scripture in Genesis 2:1-3 and conclude the seventh day of the work week is holy and set aside for the Lord. It’s not unreasonable to conclude this, but to obligate a person, when the Lord has not done so, is putting more into the biblical text than can be sustained in discussion.

If you look at the reference to Jeremiah 31 from above, you will notice the Lord’s words to Jeremiah are prophetic in nature, saying the New Covenant is not like the Old Covenant, thus the complete putting away of the Old for the New (31:31-32). The value of what we call the Old Covenant is as Paul said in Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope” (ASV).

There is a principle for us in “the day of rest” command given to Israel. Many people have negatively influenced themselves and family members with continued secular working on the first day of the week, failing to put any degree of priority on one’s spiritual health or on God’s desire and demand to meet with the saints. It will catch up with those so guilty. RT

The Third Commandment – Profane the Lord’s Name 

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“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). What is in view? It is a prohibition against false swearing and includes the idea of profane or vain swearing. Dennis Prager gives a perspective that slightly varies from this. “Do not carry God’s name in vain” (Exodus, p. 245). Since God’s name is holy, one who carries God’s name, like Islamist terrorists or religious leaders who prey on people (woman, children, same-sex, greed), these are people who say one thing (in God’s name) but do the opposite of that which the Lord would Himself do, thus, it is not simply a matter of using words.

More than the use of the words is in mind, but an actual way of thinking and living is in view. Do not be misled, however. Before the way of thinking and living can begin to exist, it must first start with outside influences, outside influences as seen in lives lived and words spoken. There are many who use words with no intent to speak profanely but be guilty just the same. It may be that a person is uninformed (ignorant) of wrong doing, but still be guilty of doing wrong.

The New Bible Dictionary says, “[s]trictly speaking, Yahweh [Jehovah] is the only ‘name’ of God.” Further, “The name is no mere label, but is significant of the real personality of him to whom it belongs” (pp. 429-431). The importance of this is in relation to how you would think of it if one were to misuse your name. For instance, your name is “Tom.” A slight acquaintance of yours comes up to you and calls you “Tim.” It is likely you will gently correct that person. If the same person, knowing your name then comes up and purposely calls you by another name, mocks your name or misuses or abuses your name – how would you feel about that?

The Scriptures attests great significance to the qualities/character of God. In the model prayer (Matthew 6:9-14), the Lord taught His disciples to “hallow” the Lord’s name, keep His name holy in one’s thinking, speaking and living. “The big man upstairs” (or some similar expression) is not a reflection of reverence.

Some try to avoid misusing the Lord’s name, instead a substitute is used with little to no thought about its association. This is known as a euphemism (a substitute). Rather than saying “oh my god!”, some say, “oh my gosh!” Look in any dictionary and you’ll see the word “gosh” is used as a substitute for “God.” Perhaps the intent of the person using the word is because it’s less offensive and there is no desire to use “God” in cavalier way. Commendable, I grant you.

The point in these words is not to prohibit expressions as much as it is to educate about the significance of the Lord’s name, how we need to respect and honor Him who has that name or mark of identification. To misuse the Lord’s name is to express disrespect and to violate the spirit of the command given to the nation of Israel.

He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name(Psalm 111:9; KJV). The Lord God redeemed (saved) a people from bondage, He gave the same people a covenant to live by in order to bring them to His desired spot, a resting place with Him in Glory. His name, then, to those who love the Lord, is holy (set apart and sanctified) and it is to be revered, that is, to be feared. The Holy Spirit said, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). RT

 

The Second Commandment – Religious Relics

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“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments(Exodus 20:4-6).

No Carved Images. The previous command gave attention to the object of worship, now this one with how one is to not approach the Lord. Those who worship the Lord do not need a visual reminder, an aid to facilitate worship in the proper way. It was Jesus who said that each person who comes to come must come to Him in spirit and truth. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24, ASV).

To create an object for the sake of visual appearance is to limit the Almighty to that created object. In other words, the object becomes holy and more than just a representation. The condemnation of the Lord is not against art or sculpture, per se, but against that which would be used in worship (cf. Deut. 4:15-19). One of the reasons for the popularity of religious relics, purchased nearly anywhere, is that an image helps one reflect and think on that which is divine. The Lord said this is not necessary, in fact, He forbids it.

No created object is to represent the Lord or that which is of and by Him. Since this is so, it is even more the case no one is to bow down before a created object used in worship. Genuinely motivated as they are, the Catholic Church clearly understands what is being said, so they seek for an explicitly forbidden command from the Lord, but those faithful to the Lord understand the spirit of the prohibition.

In churches of Christ, we are not immune to a similar Catholic approach. For instance, in a practical application, the forbiddance of religious relics/objects is in relation to worship, not in how a building is used. Some brethren consider the building sacred, their denials not notwithstanding. Is it proper to eat inside a church building? There is nothing inherently wrong with doing so, so it matters not whether one does or does not. However, some brethren will divide (and have divided) the church strongly resisting any eating inside of the church building. In their assertion of saying there is no authority for it, it has become a religious relic. Interestingly enough, if the state demands something before a building can be used by the general public, such as a building permit, a restroom or bathroom facilities much be built. Thus, it’s alright to defecate in the building, but not eat. Go figure that one!

The basis of idolatry is self-will. To have an idol of any sort is to rebel against God in that which He commands. The Scripture speaks of God as a jealous God. He goes to great lengths to redeem – and this is the thanks He gets! This self-will approach is also known as spiritual adultery. Spiritual adultery has long tentacles, limbs the reach out and sink roots of destruction in following generations. People who do not obey, whether out of ignorance or rebellion, are people who hate the Lord; there is no interest in obeying His commands. It does not matter that a person rejects the use of the word hate in this context, for there are really only two options from which to choose. First, if one loves the Lord obedience follows; if one does not obey the Lord then it is necessarily the case one hates the Lord’s way. Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

APPLICATION. Those who love the Lord will worship Him in spirit and truth. Worship is a matter of genuine interest in pleasing the Lord (not one’s self) and in accordance with His revealed word. Those who love the Lord are not ignorant of His word, they choose to obey Him who is the giver of life. RT

January 2019 bulletin article (enhanced)

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The First Commandment – Idolatry

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“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3). The Lord God is the one true object of worship. The word “worship” is a word that conveys the idea of adoration (adoring) and obedience to His will. In one translation of the Bible, in the margin, are these words: “an act of reverence.” To revere the Lord is to hear Him and to obey Him (cf. Luke 6:46). To the Israelites, in the Book of Exodus, the Lord demonstrated Himself thoroughly when He brought one nation (Israel) out from another nation (Egypt), taking them to the land of promise, the land promised to the heritage (descendents) of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

With this knowledge in hand, those of the Israelite nation were in good position to not only move forward under the Lord’s protection, but with that protective wall about them, they could easily swat the attempts of Satan to overcome them. This, however, did not stop Satan from making his attempts to get man to worship something other than God. Man’s great adversary is wildly successful at accomplishing this because he knows the weaknesses of man. When an individual or a nation succumbs to the temptations of Satan and then makes that pleasure their guiding light, this is called

Idolatry

Keep in mind the meaning of the word worship. Idolatry is worshipping some person or object other than God. It means to adore (give much attention to), to obey whatever precepts are given to maintain that adoration and act of reverence. This is false worship. In our current environment we, as a people, are not so cultured and civilized that we are not guilty of worship toward idols of our own making. We simply substitute God with something we like, adore and reverence – whatever that might be.

When God gave this command to the Israelites, He understood quite well from what the Israelites were coming. They came from a polytheistic nation. the people of Israel included in their reverence the Egyptian gods with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were very confused. When they built the golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai, they did what was familiar, they did only what seemed right to some. Nevertheless, because that which the Lord did for them, educating them away from this type of thinking, their actions were inexcusable.

You would think the words of warning from the Lord would have resonated with them. For some it did, for others it did not. Israel, in their long history, was plagued by idolatry for 8½ centuries. Painful examples and experiences were given by God to the people to get them to turn away from their evil, but they still held on to that which they wanted to believe.

That which plagued Israel is always a threat to us. Israel was interested in doing things after their own desires. We also tend to do the same. It was the prophet Jeremiah who spoke to the people about their idolatry associated with both work and worship (Jeremiah 44). Without going along with society’s demands the people were unable to provide for their families, so they went with what was demanded of them by the community of people in which they lived. Because they did this, their worship of the Lord was all but gone. They were too busy and sleepy. God put much emphasis upon what He said to the nation—there was to be nothing before Him. It is the same today; there is to be nothing before Him. When there is, the Lord begins the process of turning away Himself (cf. Rom. 1:21-31). RT

January 2019 bulletin article (enhanced)

 

Genesis 3:15 and the Messiah

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It was Paul’s habit to go into a community of Jews and reason with them from the scriptures. Paul did this because of his conviction; he wrote to the church in Rome, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16, KJV). Paul did not pursue an intellectual path, discussing the finer points of the Law of Moses. Instead, he made it his mission to convert those of his country, his heritage (cf. 1 Cor. 9:19-22; Rom. 9:1-5).

It was Paul’s intent to persuade and convince those of his heritage that Jesus was the Christ, the anointed of God. Many of the Jewish community rejected this, although some were convinced.

The approach Paul took has intrigued me for years. I do not live nearby a Jewish synagogue, but if I did would I be capable of doing the same? No, I could not. Because I was not able to, I set in motion for myself to learn from Rabbinic writings what they say about the Scriptures, especially in relation to Messianic passages of Scripture.

This article and some following articles will give attention to this very matter. Whether we live near or in a Jewish community, the principles of Paul should be applied by each New Testament Christian as one seeks to reason with people of faith, seeking to learn together and persuade others about New Testament Christianity, getting back to the Bible, doing Bible things in Bible ways as well as speaking with Bible words.

Messianic Passages in Genesis

In the beginning, the Lord created Adam and Eve putting them in His garden, the Garden of Eden. It was there the Lord directed they were to work. They could eat of anything the Lord put in that garden, but not from one specific tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord had His reasons for this prohibition, and it was the obligation of the first couple to comply with the Lord’s directive.

God desired man to experience the joys of living in His created world, but this joy could not (and cannot) be realized as God intends if man is disobedient to His revealed will. History told us the first couple failed to enjoy God’s intended blessings in this life. The Lord responded to this failure:

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (Genesis 3:14-16, KJV).

I want to notice the words of the Lord to Eve and the one who generated the temptation. Notice: 1) there was separation between the pinnacle of God’s creation (human beings) and the beasts of the field (represented by the serpent); 2) the serpent was controlled by the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) utilizing deception and lying to bring down God’s pinnacle; 3) the beast of the field was subservient to human beings; 4) man’s great adversary (Satan) as represented by the serpent would have his head crushed; 5) man’s great adversary will not go down without a fight (so to speak) for he will bruise or sting; 6) human beings cannot crush the serpent’s head, that is, overcome the great adversary. This can only be done by God’s hope given to humanity as revealed in these words.

In the words of the Holy Spirit to Adam and Eve there was hope given by God. Admittedly, the hope is not easily seen, but it is there. From the New Testament, we know it is there. Notice: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” The pinnacle of God’s creation will be (and is) hurt terribly, but the tempter is crushed. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55-57). Where did that “sting of death” come from, but in the Garden! Paul wrote to Timothy, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10).

What did the Rabbis teach on Genesis 3:15? I was disappointed in what I read, for it was not at all what I thought I would see. Some of interpretations move from the reasonable into strange and weird speculation (completely useless). There is nothing said in what they wrote about hope overcoming Satan except to say this will occur with the study of the Torah (the Law of Moses as revealed in the first five books of the Bible). Nothing is said about the serpent’s head being crushed by man, except to make known to a reader what intentions the serpent had (who had hands and feet walking uprightly), “The serpent’s plan was to have Adam die and to then marry Chavah [Eve].” Michael Brown, in a footnote, gave attention to Genesis 3:15 being understood by some (not all) in the Jewish community as Messianic.

I thought I would consider what some through the centuries said on the passage. Jerome, biblical scholar of the 5th century, wrote, “Later revelation will confirm this first vague message of victory [Gen. 3:15] and specify the manner in which the victory will be attained.” Alfred Edersheim, a 19th century authority on Jewish ways and teachings, did not give attention to what the Rabbis taught in regards to Genesis 3:15, but did offer his perspective that the passage is Messianic in early form (protoevangelium). The 16th century reformers are on both sides as to whether the passage is Messianic or not, most thinking it is. In fact, of the 18 citations, only two (John Calvin and Johannes Oecolampadius) doubted the exegetical application. “If we should cite this text to dispute against the Jews, I fear we would more likely be ridiculed than accomplish anything” (Reformation 161).

Exegetically Understood

Can Genesis 3:15 be exegetically understood to refer to the Christ? Even though Judaism does not regard the Messiah as being a necessary interpretation here , clearly a case for the Christ must start here. Admittedly, it is from a New Testament context and from an overall picture of the Old Covenant that one is better able to see it unfold. Consider the following points. First, there is an adversarial relationship between what the serpent represents and man. In Revelation 12:9, the serpent is the dragon making war against those of God’s creation. “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (12:17). Second, the enmity between the woman and the serpent was separation, hostility, hatred. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) and his only intent is to separate man from his Creator, developing within him hatred and bitterness toward the Almighty. He has had great (numerical) success at this. Third, the serpent will bruise the heel of man, but man will crush the head of serpent. Coffman, who is dismissive of those who reject the protoevangelium, said, “‘Thou shalt bruise his heel…is undoubtedly a reference to the Crucifixion.’ The reason many scholars fail to see this is because ‘[t]heir blindness is due to their failure to recognize that the key to understanding the O.T. is Jesus Christ (2Cor. 3:15-16). The terminology of this verse is such that it cannot apply to anything in heaven or upon earth except the long spiritual conflict between Christ and Satan’.”

A case can be made that Genesis 3:15 is the first reference to man’s hope, albeit an obscure reference and one that can only be seen in the context of the whole of Scripture.

 

The Chumash with the Teachings of the Talmud, The Milstein Edition, p. 30.

Michael Brown, Answering Jewish Objections: Messianic Prophecy Objections, Vol. 3; Baker Books, p. 198.

The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, 2:28, p. 13.

Alfred Edersheim, Bible History: Old Testament, Hendriksen Publishers, p. 14.

Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Genesis 1-11, Vol. 1; IVP Academic, pp. 156-162.

“In Judaism, the estrangement caused by the innate human appetite for evil does not require an act of messianic redemption to be healed” (The Jewish Study Bible, p. 18).

James B. Coffman, Commentary of Genesis, pp. 68, 67.

Keeping Up Appearances

Keeping up appearances is only a façade, a covering that hides the struggle and anguish of one’s loneliness and shame underneath. It’s not always easy to address, but it must be given attention. The attention one must give, however, is not a wall to keep out others, but a door opened when Jesus comes knocking.

The Reason for the Season

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In the minds of many folk at this time of the year, there is significance to the December 25th date. It does not matter if you tell them the Scriptures do not speak of any special-remembrance to the date of the Lord’s birth. What matters to them is that “the reason for the season” is a time to remember the Lord’s birth, coupled with gift-giving.

Perhaps we can resist that and be accurate in doing so, or we can take a different approach and move (teach) people from where they are to where they should (or could) be in their own understanding. This is my approach.

The text of this article comes from Matthew 27:27-31, Jesus was mocked by those who sought His death. I readily admit there is nothing in the text of Matthew 27:27-31 that lends itself to the Christmas season, but that is my point. Though I will speak against the “reason for the season” approach that most take, my primary focus is in telling others why Jesus came and the humiliation He suffered for having done nothing wrong, not even a single thing!

Jesus walked on the earth teaching the Father’s command to a people (the nation of Israel) steeped in rebellion to His revealed word. The Israelite nation would have, and did, reject the notion they were in rebellion to the Almighty’s exhortations as revealed in Scripture. Yet, Jesus, time and time again pointed out and demonstrated that is exactly what was occurring with them. More than that, though He pointed out their rebellion, it was only a part of His message. The other part was that He (Jesus) was the fulfillment of prophetic Scripture declarations. For instance, He said: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:17-18, ESV).

This was more than the people of the nation wanted to hear, especially the religious leaders. Consequently, the leaders set themselves to be against Jesus. There were opportunities get Him, but they could not pull it off. Finally, they were able to arrest Him and put Him on trial. They did not realize that this was all a part of God’s plan. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him (Acts 13:27).

Jesus stood before Rome’s governmental representative in the text of Matthew 27:27-31. The people in that court-setting looked at Jesus and with disdain mocked Him as they rejected His mission and message. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head (Matthew 27:28-30).

Jesus came to this earth to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), but the lost did not recognize their very-bad-standing in the Lord’s presence. Consequently, they rejected Him and His message. Because they failed to understand and most of the people living to day have failed to understand – the reason for the season is lost on everyone. What is the reason for the season? The reason for this season and every season of the calendar year is for the Christian to live and preach Jesus.

Here you have it.  RT