10 April 2010

Apr 10

Reference links:
Old Testament

Today we finish Deuteronomy! God shows Moses all of the land that the Israelites are to possess from the top of Mount Nebo. I wonder if there is a mountain you really can see all of ancient Israel from. On the one hand it was relatively small, on the other hand, it was, I believe, larger than modern Israel, and I cannot imagine you see all of that from any mountain.

This passage reminds me of Satan showing Jesus all of the world's kingdoms during Jesus' days in the desert. I wonder if the contrasts in the New Testament story were intentional on the part of the author. When we compare the stories we see lots of opposites: God / Satan; All kingdoms / One kingdom; You can never go there / You can rule over this all.

After Moses sees the promised land, he dies and Joshua takes over leadership of the Israelites. Which brings us to... The Book of Joshua! The Wikipedia article for this book is not as high quality as for the Torah or the gospels we have read so far. However, we do learn the following:
The Book of Joshua has been traditionally ascribed to Joshua himself by early Jewish writers and by the Early Church Fathers. Modern scholars believe that Joshua is the work of writers from the 8th and 7th centuries BC, with retouchings from the exilic period.
Joshua is the first book of the Former (or First) Prophets. Topically, it covers the history of the conquest of the land, the allotment of land to the tribes, and Joshua's farewell address and death. According to Wikipedia, there is no archaeological evidence for a major and abrupt invasion of Canaan by the Israelites.

It sounds like this book will contain a lot of killings and a lot of genocide. I know that some Christians think that genocide is morally acceptable when commanded by God. For the record, I think genocide is reprehensible, and if God is supposedly commanding it, that just reflects badly on his supposedly perfect nature (I suspect I will be making that statement again).

The Book of Joshua starts out with God encouraging Joshua to be a strong and courageous leader. God promises Joshua that,
No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.

Pickersgill: Rahab Receiveth and Concealeth the Spies

Joshua tells the Israelites to prepare to conquer the promised land. He sends out spies to survey the first city they will attack: Jericho.

Spies provide fodder for a good story in this case. The spies explore the land, but the king of the land hears about them. The spies stay the night at the home of Rahab, a prostitute. Rahab hides the spies and misdirects the men who had come to capture them. In exchange, Rahab asks the spies,
Now swear to me by the Lord that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.
 They agree, and she helps them to escape by letting them outside of the city walls with a rope. Exciting!

New Testament

Today Jesus teaches that most people will not get into heaven:
Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’

Slimmer's door, Ringwood Church.

Is it really just for God to build a system where success is so difficult and failure entails eternal torture?

After this we get an interesting statement, seemingly out of no where:
At that time some Pharisees said to him, “Get away from here if you want to live! Herod Antipas wants to kill you!”
I thought the Pharisees wanted to make Jesus trip up? Why are they now warning him about Herod Antipas? Are these different Pharisees? If so, the Pharisees obviously have at least somewhat divided opinions towards Jesus, so why are they so often treated as a single unit elsewhere? Very confusing.

And Jesus healed on the Sabbath more. That's nice of him. (Although I still think that "you would save someone/something from immediate harm on the Sabbath so therefore it is okay to heal chronic diseases on the Sabbath" is an invalid logic, even if I do agree with the conclusion.)

Psalms and Proverbs

Same old, same old.