27 July 2010

Jul 27

Reference links:
Old Testament

After yesterday's retelling of King Jehoshaphat's alliance with King Ahab, we get what seems to be, as far as I can tell looking back at the books of Kings, material unique to the books of Chronicles (ahh, I love search, best thing since sliced bread).

As part of his actions to try to turn the people of Judah to God, Jehoshapat appoints judges over matters both religious and civil. In particular, he gives the high priest ultimate decision power over all things religious.

Now, this is another one of those passages which is interesting in the historical context. At the time Chronicles was likely written, the exiled people of Judah were trying to understand their religion now that it was no longer a national religion. Passages like this one try to show that the Judaism has value (e.g., for settling disputes in this case) independent of political power. Thus, the religion of the exiles takes on new meaning even without the nation of Judah and the temple.

We also read about Judah's war with a bunch of surrounding nations. Long story short: they trust God. God saves them.

New Testament

Paul seems to think that he can pull a bunch of random verses from all over the Old Testament, string them together out of context, and put together a convincing argument. Now, I am fully aware that there have been schools of thought that consider this a valid form of exegesis. Each word and sentence of the scripture is imbued with meaning from God, independent of the original author's original intent.

I also realize that it is nearly necessary in Christian tradition to engage in some weaker version of this sort of exegesis. Without reading the Old Testament as pointing unambiguously toward Jesus, the New Testament case for his status as the Messiah becomes even less convincing.

That said, Paul is taking things a bit far here. The only thing that links these verses is that Paul thinks that they (in isolation) support his message. If we take this as our standard, then we can use the Bible to justify anything, including bad things like slavery or murder.

Oh yeah, and Paul's point, in short: The Jews were totally given their chance, so don't blame God if he abandoned them.

Psalms and Proverbs

Our third proverb today is kind of depressing:
Many will say they are loyal friends,
but who can find one who is truly reliable?
Although I cannot quite figure out what is meant by our second proverb, I think I like it anyway:
Though good advice lies deep within the heart,
a person with understanding will draw it out.
What I get from this is that it sometimes take a good amount of work to figure out the valuable core of an idea, whether in yourself or someone else. Yet, despite that, it is worth the effort to dig down and expose the gems.