Walk by faith, not by sight

I want to take a brief moment to discuss with you a personal matter and take a break from the theology for minute. This was a profound realization that i want to share because someone may need to hear it as well:

On my way to work this morning, I was listening to the radio when I heard a teaser for a story about why people want to see miracles. Since I am always fascinated by descriptions of miracles or the supernatural, I decided to stick around another ten minutes to hear this story. Thinking it would be about how God did some miraculous healing or a miraculous escape from attackers or any number of things, I had a certain expectation about hearing a miraculous story.

The radio show host came on and described the title again of why people always want to see miracles. One of the show’s hosts describes how her and her husband were in dire financial needs and needed $1,000. They began praying and all the sudden the husband of the radio host was prompted to check the credit card points. The points totaled the exact need of $1,000. The radio personality begins to talk about how so often Christians fall into the trap of walking by sight instead of faith. We get so fixated on the “what’s next” of life, or the counterfeit gods of money, fame, and power that we put our trust in those things. The point the show’s host was trying to make was that we try to provide our own fixes for the problems, or when we don’t see the solution to the problem we begin to doubt God.

All of this was in relation to Moses, the Israelites and the Exodus. As God used Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt; Pharaoh and his army began to chase them. Moses and the people were at the Red Sea; they had nowhere to go. Every thought was probably going through Moses’ mind at this point. He is facing the sea, looking at his people, then back to the sea, then back at the people. Moses had no idea what God was doing or going to do. It was an impossible situation. A miracle was needed. There appeared to be no solution. It must have felt like a thousand years in those few seconds and minutes. I can’t imagine the spiritual attacks Moses was probably going through either. Suddenly (possibly), a small, yet peaceful voice whispers in his hear (or speaks into his soul): “We walk by faith, not by sight.” (cf. 2 Cor 5:7).

In a moment when everything was against him, there was no place to turn, and a miracle was needed, the Almighty God reached down and did something amazing that only He could. “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” (Ex 14:21-22).

We have all heard this before, but I share it with you because maybe someone needs to hear this. It comes from a site called Spiritual Inspiration: “God is saying to you today, ‘Everything will work out. I’m in complete control. I know what the medical report says. I know what the financial situation looks like. I see the people who are coming against you. I know how big your dreams are. And hear me clearly; I will not fail you.’”

So, why do I share this with you? Over the past year and a half, I have attended seminary. Last August, we moved from Chicago to Dallas so I could go to school in person. We didn’t have a place to live, we had a baby on the way, no insurance, and no jobs. The living situation was handled, but the others took time. I wasn’t able to go full time to seminary like I had hoped, because I think God had a different plan. Over the past year, I have worked in a corporate job while taking two classes a semester. I am not doing something I know I was called to do nor am I passionate about it. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for a job. I am thankful that God provided a job that does provide a good salary and insurance. There have been many issues at this job and it has been difficult in many ways that don’t need to be described here. The past few months I have been pulled from project to project, from one fire-drill to the next. It gets frustrating after a while. The work environment is not very good but I have met some good people.

I had a frustrating day yesterday where my boss and leadership are having secret meetings amongst themselves about which way a project should go. There is a power struggle that has a colleague and I stuck in the middle. We receive new direction every few weeks. Yesterday, in fact there were three fire-drill and subsequent new directions that we were given. It becomes confusing after a while and it is hard to determine which way is up. We were made aware of conversations about a how this team should be formed or who should work where and on what. The problem is no one ever consulted us or let us know maybe we need to not proceed in a certain way or direction. Our careers were essentially in the hands of strangers as they moved us around like pawns as they had a power struggle. Their only hopes were to make themselves look better to gain more power or acclaim. After talking with our boss about all this direction, we were informed it simply wasn’t our business and we need to just be good soldiers and wait for the new direction. Some business people will agree with that sentiment saying communication with employees and direction on changes affecting them do not need to be communicated to the employee. Some managers will be more considerate and talk things over with their staff about possible changes or different directions. Do they need to? No, but that is what they will do.

This story of Moses got me thinking about how I have to trust a mortal man about my next direction for a project. The boss may be a good man but at the end of the day, he really doesn’t care about me or my career. I am essentially “trusting” him as he moves me around or puts me on the next project. I don’t get communicated about what is happening; it just happens.

Similarly, this led to exactly what I need to be doing about this time of waiting in my life. I need to be walking by faith not sight. God has no obligation to talk things over with me. He doesn’t need my input no matter how much I give Him or want to give Him. I struggle because I wrestle Him for control. I try to tell Him, “We need to do this,” or go here or do this in this timing. Actually, while I struggle with this, I need to remember that God has an amazing plan for the right thing at the right time. I may want to get to that next stage now, but He still has things to teach me during this time. That my friend is tough.

The difference between my boss and God is obviously numerous but I want to focus on a couple of things. It breaks down to my boss is not invested in me nor does he truly care about me. He is doing what is best for him. In contrast, God has invested in me and truly cares about me. He loves me infinitely. He as a perfect plan for me. He doesn’t need my input, but He allows me to discuss and pray things over with Him. It may not and probably will not change His mind, but I am thankful that He still listens and lets me talk about it with Him.

All this being said, I don’t know what your situation is but God has not forgotten you. He does have a plan. It may take time. You may not see it, it will be difficult, it could take a long time, but God is working things out. Be faithful. Pray for faith and help with the unbelief.

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The history and theories of Genesis through Judges

This post concludes our big series on the history of the books Genesis through Judges. We look at the final significant events and different theories that are out there that are associated with these books. This post is not affirming or denying these theories, just trying to provide some background. Again, this is a high-level overview and not comprehensive. This is too encourage further study and knowledge as well as trying to point out the major events and ideas that occur throughout these beautiful books.

Passover-in Hebrew, pesah, “to pass over”. To “pass over” means “to protect”. The Lord himself will block the entry of the destroyer, He will be a protective covering for His people. Exodus 12 outlines the specifics of the Passover and is concerned with the when, why, how, and who. Moses at the original Passover, focuses exclusively on the role of blood-that the blood is to be extracted from the lamb’s body and smeared over the doorposts and the horizontal beam atop the door (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 167-169).

Exodus-After the Plagues and the Passover, Pharaoh allows the Hebrews to leave Egypt, known as the Exodus. We are told in Exodus 12:37, six hundred thousand men, besides women and children, leave Egypt.

Mosaic Covenant-given to administer the fulfillment of Abraham’s promises to his descendants in the time after Moses until the cross; the promises include (1) the possession of the land of Canaan, (2) an innumerable offspring, and (3) world-wide blessing through Israel (Notes for Pentateuch, p 12-13).

Ten Commandments-a summary given to Israel of all the stipulations that God would place upon His people in the covenant which He gave on Sinai and inscribed on stone, Deut 5 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 124).

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heave above or on earth below.
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  4. Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. You shall not commit murder
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

Tabernacle-place of worship; instructions given for the tabernacle and the priesthood that will be protect the holy Yahweh from the unholy people, Ex 25-31 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 17).

Golden Calf-while Moses received the Ten Commandments, Aaron led in the building of the calf so that the Israelites might have something to worship. Moses pleaded with God not to destroy Israel and returned to their camp. Upon arriving back at the camp, Joshua thought there was noise of war, however Moses corrected him saying that it was the sound of singing. Moses displayed great anger, throwing the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments to the ground and destroying the calf. Moses rebuked Aaron for his leading in this corrupt act, Ex 32 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 62).

Ark of the Covenant-After the law was given to Moses, he gave it to the priests, who carried the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, Deut 31 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 143).

The Offerings (Burnt, Grain, Fellowship, Sin, Guilt) Burnt Offering-primary worship and atoning sacrifices, must be male, its blood applied to the altar, the animal burnt entirely on the altar. Grain Offering-might be cooked in various forms but always with oil, salt, and incense, and offered in a memorial portion on the altar, the rest being for the priest to eat as a sign that God accepted the sacrifice. Fellowship Offering-must be as expensive as the worshiper can afford, its fat, kidneys, and liver burned on the altar, its blood sprinkled around the altar since fat and blood are prohibited for human consumption, being holy to Yahweh. Sin Offering-represents the dignity of the person who has sinned unwittingly and has brought defilement into the presence of the Lord, effecting cleansing and atonement with the forgiveness it brings. Guilt Offering-must be offered for defrauding God or man, in addition to restoring 120% of what was lost by the fraud, thus gaining forgiveness by atonement, Lev 1-5 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 68-73).

The Feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Weeks, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Tabernacles)Feast of Passover-Israel must keep Passover in the month of Abib, sacrificing at Yahweh’s sanctuary and eating it with unleavened bread for seven days to recall the deliverance from Egypt, eating all the flesh on the night of Passover. Feast of Unleavened Bread-provides an opportunity to teach successive generations about Yahweh’s deliverance; it was designed to cause children to ask and fathers to explain Yahweh’s great deliverance from Egypt. Feast of Weeks-Seven weeks from the beginning of the harvest, Israel must celebrate the feast of weeks bringing a free-will offering to the central sanctuary, rejoicing with all the people, including the slaves and poor, remembering their slavery in Egypt. Feast of Trumpts-on the first of the seventh month, Israel must observe a rest, for blowing trumpets as a holy convocation, presenting an offering by fire to Yahweh. Day of Atonement-on the tenth of the seventh month, Israel must observe this feast, doing no work, but humbling their souls and presenting offerings to Yahweh, since it was a day to make atonement, a day of complete rest not to be violated. Feast of Tabernacles-After the final ingathering Israel, including the slaves and the poor, must keep the feast of tabernacles for seven days at the central sanctuary, when Yahweh would bless all they would do and they would be very joyful. Lev 23 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 86).

Year of Jubilee-Israel would acknowledge Yahweh’s ownership of the land by returning any purchased land to its original tenant and by trusting Him to provide their food during the whole period, Lev 25 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 87).

Censuses-The Lord commanded two censuses of the Levites, first as the redemption for Israel’s first born, and second to determine who would tend to the tabernacle on the march, Num 3-4 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 92).

Nazirite Vow-conferred a sanctity on the layman next only to the high priest, requiring separation from all products of the vine, refrain from cutting hair of the head, and from all dead bodies, a new beginning of the vow for the defiled, and very expensive sacrifices, such as the those for the consecration of a high priest, for the consummation of the vow, Num 6 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 94).

Cloud of Fire-As Israel left Sinai, Yahweh’s cloud rose from the tent, leading Israel out of the camp to the fulfillment of His promises, Num 10 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 97).

The Rebellion of Kadesh Barnea-Because of unbelief and rebellious fear, Yahweh drove the generation of Israel and even Moses back into the wilderness as punishment for their unbelief. Israel sent spies in to Kadesh-Barnea, who brought back a positive report of the land, but were frightened and did not want to obey Yahweh by taking the land. Israel thought that God hated them so that He brought them to the desert to die at the hands of the Amorites at Kadesh Barnea, Deut 1 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 119).

Bronze Snake-Israel, afflicted by serpents sent by Yahweh, realized and confessed their sin so that after Moses’ intercession, they set up a bronze serpent as a sign for the people’s healing, Num 21 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 109).

Cities of Refuge-6 cities set aside from the 48 Levitical cities that would be available to protect people guilty of unpremeditated murder from the blood avenger. These cities would not offer refuge to the premeditated murder who must return to his own home to face the avenger, Num 35 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 118-119).

Blessings for Obedience/Curses for Disobedience-Israel was constantly given blessings for their obedience to Yahweh, and curses/punishments for their disobedience and unbelief.

Conquest of Canaan-led by Joshua, Israel crosses the Jordan, defeats the cities of Jericho, Ai, and the region of Gibeon, the conquest of northern Canaan, Josh 6-11 (Joshua Notes, p 4-7).

Gibeonite Deception- Fearful of Israel’s defeat at Ai, the Gibeonites deceive Israel, sending an envoy claiming to be foreigners.Israel enters into a covenant of protection for the Gibeonites and region of Gibeon without consulting Yahweh. As a result of the oath, their land is protected, however the people become enslaved becoming wood cutters and water men for the tabernacle, Josh 9 (Joshua Notes, p 6).

Dates

  1. 2000 (Abraham)

1446 (Exodus; Judges 11:26; I Kings 6:1)

  1. 1400 (Conquest of Canaan)

1350-1050 (Period of the Judges)

Background

Enuma Elish-a story from Mesopotamia in which creation is a prominent theme. Varying opinions exist on the origination of the Enuma Elish (either during the second millennium B.C. or not earlier than 1100 B.C.). The primary purpose of this epic is theogonic—to explain the origin of the gods, and especially Marduk; secondary purpose was its composition with religious functions in mind (to be read aloud at an annual Babylonian festival). Third key is to understand the Babylonian concept of gods—origin, character, and destiny in which creation is told in terms of procreation. Fourth, heaven and earth are not spoken into existence, but are formed from the corpse of a slain god and lastly, humankind is created to relieve the gods of the necessity of manual labor (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 35-39).

Gilgamesh Epic-a secular account of the flood from Mesopotamian literature, named after Gilgamesh, king of Uruk dating to approximately 1600 B.C. Key ideas about the epic: it is silent about motive for the flood, it is difficult to discern a reason why one mortal is saved, dimensions of the ship built by the heroes are strange, and it lacks a clear didactic function. Essentially, in the Gilgamesh epic, the storyline is more concerned with the hero Gilgamesh and his search for immortality; the flood is merely a subplot to the overarching theme (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 64-67).

JEDP Theory-a theory regarding the style of passages in support of the scholarly position of the Pentateuch. J-the Yahwist, a neutral, undefined document, in traditional historical criticism. It is what is left over when each of the other documents have been subtracted from the text of the Pentateuch; has been defined as being a lively, imaginative style. E-the Elohist, containing less continuous narratives than J and is more restrained in its narrative style than J. D-the Deuteronomist, most interested in legal material, contained a religious evaluation of Israel’s history (obedience yields divine blessing, disobedience yields divine curse; demonstrated the necessity for a prounounced sense of social justice under the provisions of the covenant relationship) and is marked by exhortation. P-uses the same terms for deity as E, but uses a style described a prosaic, precise, formulaic, repetitious; lacking in metaphor and simile; P includes genealogies, ritual directions, and various lists (Notes for Pentateuch, p 2-3).

Dating of the Exodus 1440 or 1290

Use of Treaty Language in Deuteronomy Suzerain-vassal treaty: Overlord or emperor rules over other nations, with client kings as vassals, or servants. Structure is: Preamble (1:1-4; historical prologue 1:5-4:49; stipulations, 5-26; sanctions, 27-30; dynastic disposition, 31-34). Covenant of grant treaty: rewards a faithful servant; territory and vassals; continuity of rule to his sons; protection; vassal obligation treaty: king has acquired a people by warfare; treaty protects the king from the possible disloyalty of the people.

Significant Events in Genesis through Judges

As we near the end of our series on Old Testament history, today we look at the first part of the major events that are described in Genesis through Judges. This is a very brief, high-level overview of just some of the events. The rest will be covered in the next post.

Events/Ideas

Creation-As His first saving work for Israel, God created the world with mankind as its ruler, to worship Him functioning as His image, blessing them and the whole earth.

  1. God created all that exists
  2. On the first day, God created it light, separating it from the darkness
  3. On the second day, God separated the waters to form the sky by an expanse so that both heaven and ocean are creatures of God.
  4. On the third day, God caused dry land to appear and vegetation to sprout from the heart to provide food for His creatures.
  5. On the fourth day, God banished total darkness, created the sun, moon, and stars to guide the worship seasons and signal the passage of time.
  6. On the fifth day, God created water dwelling creatures and birds
  7. On the sixth day, God created land dwelling creatures and made mankind
  8. On the seventh day, God contemplated His work, deemed it good, and sanctified the seventh day.

Fall/Punishments-Unbelieving sin of Adam and Eve with their disobedience to God’s command to not eat from the tree of knowledge. As a result of disobedience, God imposed punishment on humankind. As a result God condemned the blame shifting people to travail, the woman in childbirth and subservience to her husband, and the man to travail in work and finally death, and cursed the serpent to be crushed by the women’s seeds .

Proto-evangelium-literally, “the first good news”, evidence of God’s mercy and grace, concern and compassion for Adam and Eve in the provision of coverings for them following the Fall. Important to note that this precedes their expulsion from the garden (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 43-44).

The question of Gen 6:1-2-“When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.” There are several interpretations to explain the “sons of God” and “daughters of men”. The first, and most popular is that the “sons of God” is a reference to the descendants of Seth, and the “daughters of men” is a reference to the descendants of Cain, referring to the mingling in marriage between the godly Sethite line and the ungodly Cainite line. The second interpretation suggests that the “sons of God” are ancient dynastic rulers, and the “daughters of men” are their royal harems; this interpretation moves toward an ambiguous reference potentially to a group of regal individuals whose existence has not yet been mentioned. The third interpretation suggests that the “sons of God” are angels and the “daughters of men” are humans wherein the sin is cohabitation between supernatural and natural beings (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 61-63).

Flood-as God inspected the earth, He found it corrupt and filled with violence. God told Noah of His plan for a life destroying flood and of His plan to deliver Noah and his family with a remnant of animal life through an ark Noah should build. God repeated that He would bring a flood upon the earth to destroy all flesh under heaven, but He promised to make a covenant with Noah and his family who would enter the ark. After brining a year-long flood in which all flesh died, Yahweh delivered Noah, his family, and the animals with them .

Noahic Covenant-After the waters receded, Noah waited on God’s command to eventually leave the ark to fulfill the creation blessing to fill the earth. God renewed the creation blessing by granting an everlasting covenant to all flesh promising not to destroy the whole earth by flood ever again. God gave the rainbow as the covenant sign to remind Himself that He would not again make war with the earth by a flood .

Canaanite Curse-Ham broke loyalty with his father Noah when he found Noah drunk with wine, “uncovered”, and reported this to his brothers. Shem and Japheth maintained loyalty by not looking on their father’s nakedness, but proceeding to cover him. Noah cursed Ham’s youngest son Canaan (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 73-74).

Tower of Babel-captured in Genesis 11, the story of the tower opens with the migration of people from the east to the plain of Shinar. Men rebelliously determine to build a city to prevent their scattering over the earth and to make a name for themselves. The sin of the people does not lie in the desire to build a city, which is a neutral, amoral act; it is the motivation behind the undertaking-the concept of immortality. The Bible reports that God intervenes when learning of their motives and he confuses the language of the people; God’s punishment is directed at both the instrument of sin that made the building project possible, the one language, and at the intention of that sin, to avoid being scattered over the earth (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 75-76).

Abrahamic Covenant-God leads fearful Abraham to understand and trust His promises, especially of descendants by giving him a covenant with a covenant sign to mark those who may share in covenant fulfillment .

Covenant of Circumcision-God grants Abraham promises of a son by Sarah and innumerable and royal offspring, calling him to live faithfully in covenant, especially giving him the sign of circumcision to mark those who may share in covenant fulfillment. .

The Binding of Isaac-Abraham proves his radical covenant loyalty to God in facing the most stringent of the threats to the promise, God’s command to sacrifice Isaac, Gen 22 .

The Transfer of the Birthright-Jacob in unbelieving faith in the covenant promises, seeks to grasp God’s promise by buying the birthright from Esau who despised his birthright, Gen 25

The Transfer of the Blessing-God provides twin offspring to Isaac, choosing the younger, Jacob to receive the blessing, Isaac offers to bless Esau, scheming against God; Jacob and Rebekah scheme to get the blessing for Jacob against Isaac and Esau. Rebekah sends Jacob to Isaac, he appears before his father and receives blessing. Esau appears before Isaac and receives antiblessing. Rebekah protects Jacob by sending him away, Gen 25 .

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel-Jacob has a dream in which he sees a stairway to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it. God grants the Abrahamic blessing to Jacob who in response vows to worship Yahweh at Bethel giving a tithe tribute offering, Gen 28 .

Joseph’s Dreams-Joseph experiences two dreams in which he and his brothers were binding sheaves of grain when his sheaf rose and stood upright while the others bowed down to it. In the second dream, he retells that the sun, moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to him, Gen 37 .

Pharaoh’s Dreams-Pharaoh experiences two dreams that he asks his wise men and magicians to interpret. In the first dream, Pharaoh was standing by the Nile and seven cows came up out of the river who were sleek and fat and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven ugly cows came out of the river and stood beside the seven sleek cows. The cows that were ugly ate the seven sleek cows. The second dream was of seven heads of grain, healthy and good growing on a single stalk. After them seven other heads of grain sprouted and they were scorched by the sun and wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy heads of grain. Joseph interpreted through the power of the Lord that there was to be a famine coming, with seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine. Joseph instructed Pharaoh to gather stores for the country during the seven years of plenty so that when the famine came, there might be food, Gen 41.

Pharaoh’s Infanticide Program-God’s blessing on Israel caused fearful Pharaoh to enslave the people. Israel was fruitful and continued to increase while living in Egypt. Pharaoh declared to two Hebrew midwives that when a Hebrew woman gives birth to a son, he must be killed, but that all girls might live. The Hebrew midwives feared God and could not carry out the order; God blessed the midwives and the people of Israel continued to increase. Then Pharaoh gave the order to his people, that “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live”, Ex 1.

Burning Bush-Moses was tending the sheep of his father-in-law Jethro at Horeb, the mountain of God. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire within a bush. Moses saw that the bush was on fire, but did not burn and went to inspect it further. The Lord spoke to Moses, telling him that he was on holy ground, to remove his sandals, and that He had seen the plight of the people of Israel and that Moses would be the one to deliver them from Egypt. Moses spoke with God concerning Israel’s deliverance, God revealed His name to Moses, provided a sign to him, and Moses claimed he could not speak well and God gives Aaron to assist Moses, Ex 3.

Ten Plagues-Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh to release Israel from the slavery of Egypt. God has hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he refuses and increase the workload of the Israelites. As a result, God shows His power to Pharaoh and all of Egypt through ten plagues.

  1. The Plague of Blood-the Lord tells Moses to use his staff (that had become a snake), to stretch it over the river and all the water will become blood, even water in vessels and stones, Ex 7
  2. The Plague of Frogs-after seven days, Moses and Aaron return to Pharaoh and say that if Israel is not released, that frogs will come over the Egyptians, Ex 8
  3. The Plague of Gnats-the Lord tells Moses and instructs Aaron to take his staff, strike the ground, and the dust will become gnats that will afflict Egypt, Ex 8
  4. The Plague of Flies-Moses and Aaron visit Pharaoh again, this time to make a distinction between Israel and Egypt in the affliction of the plague. Swarms of flies then only affect the people of Egypt, Ex 8.
  5. The Plague on Livestock-the Lord brings about an affliction on all the livestock of the Egyptians and their cattle, horses, donkeys, camels, sheep and goats all die, Ex 9
  6. The Plague of Boils- the Lord brings about a plague of boils, instructing Moses and Aaron to take handfuls of soot and to toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh so that it becomes festering boils that afflict people and animals, Ex 9.
  7. The Plague of Hail-the Lord brings about a plague of hail that destroys crops of the Egyptians, Ex 9
  8. The Plague of Locusts-the Lord brings about a plague of locusts, they are intentionally sent to destroy what was not destroyed during the plague of hail, Ex 10.
  9. The Plague of Darkness-the Lord brings about darkness over the land for three days, Ex 10.
  10. The Plague of the Firstborn-for those who do not follow the Passover ceremony, the firstborn from every household is killed, Ex 11.

Research For the Land is God’s

Our series on the research for the Year of Jubilee. Today’s post focus mainly on the theme that THE LAND IS YAHWEH’S. This will involve the theological justification. One thing that I need to remember as a Christians is that all that I have been blessed with is God’s. I have done nothing to to earn or deserve any blessing. Yet, God in His grace has given me and all us so many blessings that I easily forget how much He does. I lose that gratitude and thankfulness. I let my human flesh get in the way and think it is mine, when in fact it all belongs to God.

  • The Year of Jubilee prevented the Israelites from oppression of one another (Lev. 25:17). It had a leveling effect on Israel’s culture by giving everyone a chance for a new start. It discouraged excessive, permanent accumulations of wealth and the deprivation of an Israelite of his inheritance in the land. Families and tribes were preserved by the return of freed bondservants to their own families. Permanent slavery in Israel was rendered impossible.[1]
    • This year was a constant reminder of God’s interest in economic freedom [2]
  • God’s designed arrangement was against both large estates and pauperism. The Israelites were repeatedly given the opportunity to begin anew, and the impoverished were enabled to maintain themselves in society. This year also reflected God’s provision for the soil’s conservation (Lev. 25:11–12, 18–21) During the year of Jubilee, the Israelites were once again taught that they were to live in faith, that the Lord would satisfy their needs[3]
  • It appears that the Year of Jubilee was a time of such complete remission of all debts that it became a season of celebration of freedom and grace. In this year oppression was to cease, and every member of the covenant family was to find joy and satisfaction in the Lord of the covenant. God had redeemed His people from bondage in Egypt (Lev. 25:42), and none of them was again to be reduced to the status of a perennial slave. God’s child was not to be oppressed (Lev. 25:43, 46); and poverty could not, even at its worst, reduce an Israelite to a status less than that of a hired servant, a wage earner, and then only until the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:40).[4]
  • The theological justification for the Year of Jubilee is based in Yahweh’s ownership of the land (Exod 15:13, 17). This concept is highlighted in Lev 25:23 which reads, “The land must not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are aliens and sojourners with Me.” The Israelites could not permanently sell land they did not own.[5]
    • While the land was a divine gift, safety and security in the land were contingent upon maintenance of the covenantal relationship (Lev 25:18). Yahweh’s judgment upon Israel ultimately meant expulsion from the land which was warned as early as Lev 18:24–28. The Year of Jubilee was to serve as a reminder that the land is special to Yahweh and a divine gift to the Israelites. The lasting ownership remained to the family which Yahweh initially chose to share ownership.[6]
    • The theological basis for this is found in v. 23: “for the land is mine.” He is the Lord of land and of economics.[7]
      • In a way beyond the Sabbatical Year, in the Jubilee observance God is putting his people in an even more potentially devastating situation in which they needed to trust him.
        • Parallel in the manna story of Exodus 16, where God instructs his people not to gather manna on the Sabbath, and instead he provides a double supply on the sixth day to carry them through the seventh. 91
      • Genuine reconciliation with God leads inevitably to a transformation of all other relationships.
      • Genuine holiness spills over into one’s relationship with others – in this case, especially the poor, the indebted, or the enslaved. 92
    • This special year reminded the Israelites that they did not really own the land but were tenants of God, the true owner (v. 23). Moses gave three cases in verses 25, 26-27, and 28 that explain how the people were to do this. A kinsman redeemer could recover the lost property, the seller himself could do so, and the year of jubilee would return it to him.
      • There are three Old Testament references to the responsibilities of a human kinsman redeemer (Heb. goel) in Israel. Additionally the psalmists and other prophets also referred to Yahweh as Israel’s redeemer.
        • When a person sold himself or his property because of economic distress, his nearest kinsman should buy back (redeem) the person and or his property if he could afford to do so (25:25).
        • Perhaps an Israelite could not afford to pay the ransom price so that he could keep a first-born unclean animal for his own use. In this case his nearest kinsman could do so for him if he could afford it (27:11-13).
        • When someone killed a person, the victim’s kinsman redeemer could take the life of the killer under certain circumstances (Num. 35:10-29).[8]
      • The provision of redemption by a kinsman (vv. 47-55) is a very important legal point in the Book of Ruth (cf. also Jer. 32:7-15). Boaz fulfilled the responsibility of a kinsman redeemer by buying Mahlon’s land for Ruth. Furthermore he fulfilled the duty of a levir by marrying Ruth.
        • The system of land ownership in Israel prevented complete capitalism or complete socialism economically. There was a balance of state (theocratic) ownership and private ownership.
        • We who live under the New Covenant also have a promise from God that if we put His will first He will provide for our physical needs (Matt. 6:25-33).[9]
        • “The acceptance of God’s sovereignty over his people and all their possessions leads to the magnanimous and compassionate treatment of the poor and the destitute, because at the end of the age everyone will be released from bondage.”[10]

[1] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Year of Jubilee. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[2] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Year of Jubilee. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[3] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Year of Jubilee. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[4] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Festivals. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[5] Babcock, B. C. (2012). Jubilee, Year of. In (J. D. Barry & L. Wentz, Eds.)The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Babcock, B. C. (2012). Jubilee, Year of. In (J. D. Barry & L. Wentz, Eds.)The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[7] Victor P. Hamilton, Handbook on the Pentateuch, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005) 291.

[8] Thomas Constable, “Notes on Leviticus,” Internet, available from http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/leviticus.pdf, accessed 22 November 2014.

[9] Thomas Constable, “Notes on Leviticus,” Internet, available from http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/leviticus.pdf, accessed 22 November 2014.

[10] Ross, Allen P. Holiness to the LORD: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, Baker Book House, 2002. 463

Was the Year of Jubilee Ever Observed?

We continue our look at the Year of Jubilee to discuss if it was ever observed. There has been some controversy on this subject of not only observance, but the length.

Observance

The Israelites were to observe the Year of Jubilee on the fiftieth year, the year following the seven sabbatical-year periods. Some scholars have argued that the Jubilee year coincided with the seventh sabbatical year counting the years inclusively (e.g. Chirichigno).[1] However, the provisions for Jubilee, the specific instructions in Leviticus 25, and historians such as Josephus and Philo all point to the Year of Jubilee on the fiftieth year.  Similarly, “Leviticus 25:21 seems to say that one year’s harvest would suffice for three years, implying that the Jubilee year was successive to a sabbatical year.”[2]

Moreover, controversy has risen over the length of the Jubilee year as some scholars (such as Chirichigno and Wenham) have suggested that this year was a short year, possibly only 49 days long.[3] This view is in the minority and appears to take away from faithfulness and provisions of God. Some have argued that the Year of Jubilee was never actually realized or practiced citing a lack of biblical and extra-biblical evidence to confirm the observation of the Jubilee year.[4] Conversely, “if its practice was normal, there might have been no occasion to mention it.”[5] With the Israelites failure to keep the sabbatical years during other time frames, like the monarchial period (2 Chron 36:20-21), it would suggest that the year of Jubilee was not enforced.[6] However, while there is no clear evidence of it ever being observed, there are allusions to it in other parts of the Old Testament (Isa. 5:7-10; 61:1, 2; Ezek. 7:12, 13; Neh. 5:1–19).[7] Simply stated, we do not know if the Year of Jubilee was ever observed.

[1] P.A. Barker, “Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee,” 702.

[2] P.A. Barker, “Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee,” 702.

[3] Thomas Constable, “Notes on Leviticus.”

[4] B.C. Babcock, “Jubilee, Year of,” in The Lexham Bible Dictionary, ed. J. D. Barry & L. Wentz, (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), under “J,” sec., “Jubilee, Book of”, Logos Bible Software.

[5] F. Duane Lindsey, “Leviticus,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. (Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, Victor Books, 1985), 211.

[6] Ibid.

[7] M.G. Easton, “Jubilee.”

Key Themes of Leviticus

This is a very brief, high-level overview of the book of Leviticus. It is designed to break down the book into sections that are easily distinguishable and provide a guide for Bible Study and improve memorization of a book.

First, we want to look at exactly what is a theme and provide a definition for it. Next, in order to reinforce our understanding of a ‘theme’ in a Biblical interpretation way, it is beneficial to form a personal definition of the word and how it is important.

As one goes through a book of the Bibles, in this case Leviticus, several themes can typically be seen. Sometimes, this can also be influenced by what is happening in a persons life and those particular ideas keep coming up. For Bible reading, the Spirit will guide and lead the reader and as they are open and listening to His leading, there will be several ideas, themes, topics that will keep coming up. There are times that the Spirit is working in us to get our attention. In general, these themes will make be fairly clear as they keep coming up in the text.

After the themes have been identified, it is good to develop a simple and concise message statement about that book. Essentially, a headline for the book. This simple, short statement will be much easier to remember than trying to think of all the different topics or events that occurred.

Finally, develop a working outline for the book. This helps in teaching Sunday school classes, adult community groups and is very beneficial for personal study. This will help in breaking the book into manageable sections to see the message the Author/author was conveying to the reader. Furthermore, this will bring greater clarity and understanding about the book and its themes.

KEY THEMES TO LEVITICUS

First, using 3-4 sources, define the meaning of “themes” (words repeated). Second, explain the importance of themes for Biblical interpretation.

  1. Theme is defined as “a particular subject or issue that is discussed often or repeatedly” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). It is also defined as “a unifying or dominant idea, motif” (“theme,” Dictionary.com). In reference to biblical interpretation, it is the “The outstanding and abiding truth (theological proposition, big idea) of the passage” (Dr. Bailey’s BE101 class notes Spring 14).

Thus, a personal definition of theme is the main subject, concept or idea that is repeated and therefore conveys the overarching motif.

  1. Themes are an important part of the Biblical interpretation because the reader takes the observations, interpretations, and applications to provide a simple and concise statement and correlate a theme to one’s life. The most reliable guide to knowing and interpreting what a story is about and what the writer wishes the reader to know is through the use of themes by means of the principle of repetition (“How to Read the Bible as Literature and get more out of it”, Leland Ryken, 1984, p. 59). Authors use themes to reinforce the key ideas or concepts that they want the reader to know. Identifying the themes and how they relate to one another in the text is a helpful tool to understanding its meaning.

Third, Identify key themes in Leviticus. (people are not themes.)

  • Holiness – The holiness of God and His call for the Israelites to be holy because God is holy.
  • Sacrifice – The offering of sacrifice was the foundational act the Israelites utilized to worship God through obedience to the sacrificial guidelines God provided.
  • Atonement – The reconciliation between God and His people by the shedding of sacrificial blood as a substitute so that the Israelites may be declared clean, pure and redeemed.

Fourth, formulate a message statement for the whole book. Fifth, develop that message in a concise working outline (with chapter and verses).

  1. Leviticus expresses God’s holiness and His requirements for Israel’s holiness; it provides guidelines for the means by which God provides atonement for sin through sacrifice.
  2. Outline of Leviticus
    1. God provides a way for Israel to approach Him by the atonement of their sins to become holy and pure through sacrifice (Chaps. 1 – 16).
      1. God provides guidelines for the laws of the sacrificial offering system for Israel and the priests to worship and be restored to Him (Chaps. 1 – 7).
      2. The ordination of the priesthood and sacrificial system and the consequences for failing to follow God’s holy guidelines (Chaps. 8 – 10).
      3. God establishes laws of purity and the Day of Atonement to cleanse and atone for Israel’s sins (Chaps. 11 – 16).
    2. God’s requirements for Israel to be holy just as He is holy through the setting forth of conditions for holiness (Chaps. 17 – 27).
      1. The Holiness Code enacted by God to protect His holiness from Israel’s sin and provide ways for Israel to be holy just as God is holy (Chaps. 17 – 25).
      2. The covenant blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience to the requirements of holiness (Chap. 26).
      3. The guidelines for vows and tithes that are to be set apart to the Lord (Chap. 27).