15 August 2010

Aug 15

Reference links:
Old Testament

We finish up the summary of Israel's history covering: the conquest of the land of Canaan, the disobedience of the people, and God's repeated mercy. This is followed by yet another list. The people then vow to follow the Law of Moses.

It is interesting how exactly the regulations expressed in the Law of Moses seem to fit with the needs of the time. E.g., preventing marriage between the easily absorbed group of returned exiles and the locals or supporting the priests in the newer and much poorer temple. This, in my opinion, provides support for the scholarly opinion that much of the Mosaic law was actually codified at this time.

New Testament

After finishing his speech about adjusting your behavior to those you live among, Paul also gives us a history lesson. Paul claims that Christ was travelling with the Israelites through their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. He also implies that everything that happened to the Israelites, happened to provide a lesson for Christians of Paul's time.

Claims like these annoy me. Certainly, Paul and his followers should reinterpret the past to get meaning that is applicable to their present situation. But what bugs me is the implication, based on the wording, that this Christ-centric interpretation is the only valid interpretation of those past events. This, in essence, says to the Jews, "Everything you believe about your past is wrong. Here is what it actually means." A more healthy attitude would be, "Everything you believe about your past is valid, but here is an additional level of meaning."

Of course, it's always hard to analyze such subtle issues as wording in a translation. Paul's original Greek may very well have had more of the second sense than the first. In that case, the issue still stands, but the subject changes. Instead of Paul showing disrespect for the interpretive traditions of the Jews, it is the translators. Either way, still annoying.

It's also worth noting that the sexual immorality that caused 23,000 people to die in one day is, as best as I can tell, referring to Numbers 25 (although that says 24,000 people died). Paul fails to mention that the primary source of God's wrath is that the Israelites are having sex with foreign Moabite women and worshiping their God. Paul, it seems, is committing something of a lie of omission by not mentioning that aspect of the situation.

I find it interesting that Paul says this:
And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
Not only does God choose who he will let believe properly, but then he makes sure that those who have been led to believe are not put into situations that will test their belief beyond their abilities. This seems rather unfair.

Now, I know that one standard answer for this unfairness is that God leads everyone who would believe to believe. Thus, it's perfectly fair because the people God does not lead to belief would not believe even if God did try to help them, and so, since God knows everyone's hearts perfectly, it's perfectly okay for him not to try.

However, I have not really seen anything which makes a Biblical case for that particular theodicy. Everything I have noticed so far seems to imply, like today's reading, that God just favors some people or another for no reason that we are given.

Psalms and Proverbs

Nothing of particular note.