Yesterday (Sunday November 9) was “National Chaos Never Dies Day” – where do they come up with this stuff – but I digress.
“Chaos,” according to the first entry of a Google search means: “disorder, disarray, confusion.”
So, if school is stressful, work is wacky, home is hectic, November 9 is your day.
A day to let it out, admit it, face it.
I’m teaching a series now in which we are facing, admitting the fact that one thing that causes us to experience chaos is – here it is – reading the Bible.
It takes a lot of guts just to admit that doesn’t it? But it’s true. How could we not experience some chaos when we read this from Exodus 21:20-21
If a man beats his male or female slave with a club and the slave dies as a result, the owner must be punished. But if the slave recovers within a day or two, then the owner shall not be punished, since the slave is his property.
Who can honestly read that and not think, “What the …?!
“Oh, that must just be a record of what some guy said…” Sorry. According to the Bible, it wasn’t just a guy. It was God.
Here’s another. We’re justifiably horrified and disgusted with the genocidal attitudes and actions that we see from extremist Islamist. Like these words from a member of Isis. “God willing, this generation will fight infidels and apostates, the Americans and their allies, God willing. The right doctrine has been implanted in these children. All of them love to fight for the sake of building the Islamic State and for the sake of God.”
Yep, Isis wants to wipe us out – all in the name of God. “For the sake of God” “God willing.” We instinctively know that’s wrong. We know such a view and vision does not accurately reflect God. But then we read this:
They (Joshua’s army) completely destroyed everything in it (Jericho) with their swords – men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys. Joshua 6:21
“Well, that must have been Joshua acting as a rogue commander!” Then we see this:
So the Lord was with Joshua and his reputation spread throughout the land. Joshua 6:27
Hmmm. So God was with Joshua through all of that? Really?
According to Deuteronomy 20:16, Joshua was faithfully following the command given by God through Moses which said, “In those towns that the LORD your God is giving you as a special possession, destroy every living thing.”
Chaos. Confusion. If it’s wrong for Isis to do that now was it right for Joshua and the Israelites to do that then.
How do we clear up the confusion? How do we find some calm in the chaos?
I got some help from one of my seminary professors – Yes, I remember a few things from my education. He said, “If you thought God told you to do something, you would do it. Now, the question is, ‘What is Jesus telling us?'”
He answered his own question by quoting Matthew 5:43-44, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbors but hate your enemies, but I say, Love your Enemies.”
Wow. RADICAL! Is Jesus saying what it sounds like he’s saying? Is he re-framing or even overturning Scripture? Things like that can put you on a cross.
Hermeneutical principle here?
Jesus takes precedence over Moses and according to Hebrews 1:1-3, every other “revelation”: Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. Now in the final days, he has spoken to us through his Son…The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God.
That is like a dose of Alka-Seltzer: “Plop. Plop. Fizz. Fizz. Oh what a relief it is.”
I feel immediate relief – Jesus is the hermeneutical lens through which we interpret Scripture. He is the standard by which every other word is measured. We’ll unpack that a bit more in the days to come.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6
Not original sin but original blessing! God blessed all of us with the greatest blessing he could give, even from the foundation of the world. God is love, because of this he is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish but that all might come to repentance. 2nd Peter 3:9 Because of His Grace he came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ and suffered the penalty for the sins of all men, delivering all men from the first death and from hell.
Regarding the destruction of the peoples in the land of Canaan, God was laboring with them, calling them to repentance for almost 700 years. When God covenants with Abraham in Genesis 15 he makes it clear that he is going to give the lands of the Canaanites to him because of their iniquity. Iniquity, unlike sin which can be done ignorantly, implies that the perpetrator is fully aware that he/she is doing wrong but makes plans to do it anyway. God says that he will not give these lands to Abraham’s descendants until their iniquity (the Canaanites) it full. Apparently, for over 700 years the Spirit of God strives with the Canaanites in vain, striving to bring them unto repentance. After 7 centuries the Spirit of Grace ceased to strive with them (the Spirit of God will not always strive with man Gen. 6:3) and judgement was brought against them instead. (Gen. 15:16 “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”)
I see no connection or comparison between the actions of God, the God of love who created all things and blessed all men in the heavenly places that man might have joy in righteousness and eternal fellowship with Him and His Son Jesus Christ, and the Politically driven efforts and terrorist acts of ISIS (the videotaped beheadings of Christians).
Regarding the civil laws of the nation of Israel which you quoted, Exodus 21:20-21. These laws were laws based upon principles of justice in the context of their culture. Jesus made it clear that these civil laws departed from what God would have people behave like should they choose to live in a culture of Love. See Matthew 19:1-9. Because of the hardness of the hearts of the children of Israel God gave them civil laws that were “just” in the context of that hardness, but from the beginning (when the Father blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places) is was not so.