Monthly Archives: December 2015

Is Deuteronomy Pro-Woman? Part 2

moses

Having now looked at the Sabbath command between Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, I want to turn to women and Deuteronomy. This section in Daniel Block’s The Gospel According to Moses comes from the same chapter that dealt with the Sabbath commands.

Many find the OT laws troubling and oppressive since they come from a patriarchal culture. I have trouble figuring out the laws in their context too as I don’t know the cultural context of the time, or why a certain law was given. In Deuteronomy Moses is giving instructions to a new generation of Israelites. One of Moses’ aims was to prevent the abuse of power by Israel’s rulers: kings, judges, elders, and priests. But there is also a large concern for “those contexts that concern the relationship of a man with his family, particularly the women of the household” (159).

Block gives eleven examples of laws in Deuteronomy that give consideration to women. Many of these laws are strange to our ears, and so this section is an important one. I gave the first seven examples in Part One, and the next four in are found here in Part Two.

The Facts, Jack

  1. The Wife Falsely Accused of Lying About Her Virginity (22-13-21)
    • This section divides into two parts:
      1. A primary case involving a false accusation (vv 13-19)
      2. A counter-case where the charges prove to be true (20-21)
        d
    • The former situation “goes to great lengths to protect a women from false accusations by an abusive husband who first turns against her and then trumps up and publicizes charges of immorality against her” (162).
      • Her parents are invited to come to her defense
      • There is a public hearing before the elders. If this man is wrong, all will know and he won’t get away with it.
      • “It invites the presentation of objective evidence to counter the false accusation” (162).
      • It’s an opportunity for the tables to turn on the accuser.
      • It calls for a public discipline of the man.
      • “It secures honor of the woman’s parents by forcing the man to pay compensation for having charged them with providing him with ‘damaged goods'” (162).
      • He cannot divorce the woman and is forced to provide for her a life of economic well-being (lest he divorce her and the Israelites have to provide for her, as in Point 1).
        d
    • But wouldn’t divorce be better for the woman than having to live with such a man? This text assumes that the punishment will bring a rehabiliative effect on the husband.
    • Ideally…
      • The husband will assume his responsible role as husband and live out his days protecting providing for, and, hopefully, loving his wife.
      • The wife can rest assured that she will have care and security in this normal household.
      • The parents may keep the bride price and the fine, but “they can relax because their daughter is restored to a protective environment” (162).
        W
  2. The Victims of Rape (22.23-29)
    • There are, again, two scenarios
      1. The rape of a virgin engaged to be married (vv23-27)
        • This provision assumes that if the rape is done in town, the woman would cry out for help (also, don’t imagine NYC as being their types of towns. Israelites were communal people and lived pretty close to each other in non-concrete reinforced houses). If she cried, someone would rescue her.
        • If the rape occurs in the country, and there is no one to hear her cry, “it gives her the benefit of the doubt and assumes her innocence” (163). The offender would be executed.
        • In this time, a non-virgin who wasn’t married was considered to be sexually promiscuous and would most likely end up not married. When a virgin was raped, it would not only dishonor her and her family, but it could end up meaning that she would not get married. Thus, she would have no provider and protector once her father passes away. This isn’t to say she couldn’t do any work herself, but it would be much more difficult.
          w
      2. The rape of a virgin not engaged to be married (vv28-29)
        • Exodus 22.17 considers the man’s actions to be seductive, but the text here speaks of the man seizing her, lying with her, and being caught in the act. He has degraded her, and so he must pay the woman’s father 50 shekels. This payment is a bride price, and the woman then becomes his bride. This doesn’t not seem like a pleasant law for a woman who has just been violated. Yet there is more to it than this.
        • As in verse 22, the present text concerns the righteous response to forced sex involving a virgin. The regulation seems to assume thee father’s and daughter’s rights of first refusal provided for i nthe earlier text. The point here is that if the man pays the bride gift and if the father agrees to accept his as a son-in-law, the man must fulfill all the marital duties that come with the rights to sexual intercourse, and in doing so guarantee the security of the woman (164).

        • Being a communal people, the man and his “unfortunate” wife are not going to move far away and live just the two of them away from friends and family so that this jerk can remain a slob and do whatever he wishes. There are stipulations to being this woman’s husband, and her entire family, friends, and tribe will ensure that this man fulfills his duties as husband.
        • This law would also be a warning to those who are considering rape, and it would be a deterrent against it.
          w
  3. The Divorced Woman (24.1-4)
    • The Issue: A man divorces a woman. She remarries another man. That man divorces her (or) that man dies. Her former husband cannot remarry her, for he has already forced “her to declare herself unclean” (166).
    • Basically, when the first husband divorces his wife, he must produce a document as legal proof for the divorce of the marriage. Without that document the husband could demand his wife back at any time (since, in theory, without the ‘proof’ document she would still be his). If she had been married during the divorce, the husband could accuse her of adultery. Thus, Moses says that a document must be made so that the husband can not abuse the wife in this way
      w
  4.  The Levirate Marriage (25.5-10)
    • The main purpose of this marriage was “to secure the integrity of families and inherited estates, which were threatened when a married man died without having fathered an heir” (166). Thus, the widow would marry the man’s nearest unmarried male relative to make sure everything stayed within the family. But sometimes this near relative didn’t want to marry the widow. What should she do now?
      • The widow presents her complaint before the elders at the community gate.
      • The elders speak to the brother-in-law and allow him to speak for himself.
      • If he refuses to perform his duty the widow can perform a ritual and publicly humiliate him.
        • She removes the sandal from his foot and spit in his face.
        • She declares, “This is what shall be done to the man who will not build his brother’s house.”
      • The elders are to stand by the widow against the brother-in-law who doesn’t take his responsibilities seriously.

Conclusion

While there are many unjust situations and scenarios that we come across in the Bible and in our world today that we do not have an answer to, we do have a future to look forward to. There will come a day when Christ is united with his bride, the Church, and we live together in the new creation. All will be pleasing and perfect. But until then, we now look in a mirror dimly. We long for the day when the world will be set right, when we will see Jesus “face to face” (1 Cor 13.12). Until then we are to seek his example, both as a Husband (Eph 5.25-27), and as one who suffered unjustly (1 Peter 2.21-25).

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Is Deuteronomy Pro-Woman? Part One

moses

Having now looked at the Sabbath command between Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, I want to turn to women and Deuteronomy. This section in Daniel Block’s The Gospel According to Moses comes from the same chapter that dealt with the Sabbath commands. Many find the OT laws troubling and oppressive since they come from a patriarchal culture. I have trouble figuring out the laws in their context too as I don’t know the cultural context of the time, or why a certain law was given. In Deuteronomy Moses is giving instructions to a new generation of Israelites. They were the children of those who were rescued out of Egypt, and they will soon enter the Promised Land (which happens in Joshua).

One reason Moses gave this second address was because

“male head of households [unlike Christ in Eph 5.25-27] are prone to exercise their authority in the interests of their own honor and status. One of the primary functions of the Decalogue  is to restrain the potential abuse of power by the heads of households” (159).

One of Moses’ aims was to prevent the abuse of power by Israel’s rulers: kings, judges, elders, and priests. But on the “grassroots level” (as Americans would say), there is also a large concern for “those contexts that concern the relationship of a man with his family, particularly the women of the household” (159).

Block gives eleven examples of laws in Deuteronomy that give consideration to women. Many of these laws are strange to our ears, and so this section is an important one. I give the first seven examples in Part One here, and the next four in Part Two.

The Facts, Jack

  1. The Concern for Widows (10.17-18)
    • Deuteronomy shows a large concern for those marginalized in the community. They are those who are vulnerable because they do not have a father or a husband, ones who would provide food and security. Beginning in 10.18 and nine more times in Deuteronomy, Moses declares a responsibility for the Israelites, and the heads of household, to seek out the well-being of the orphan, widow, and foreigner.
      w
  2. Invitations to Participate in Worship (12.12)
    • Unlike the segregation that would happen in Herod’s temple in the New Testament, women were invited to worship YHWH at the sanctuary (12.12, 18; 16.11, 14; 31.12).
      w
  3. The Manumission of Female (Indentured) Slaves (15.12)
    • While Exodus 21.2-11 speaks only about male slaves, Deuteronomy 15.12 speaks about both males and females.
      w
  4. Military Exemption for New Husbands (20.7)
    • When it comes to war, there were a few reasons men wouldn’t have to join and fight: if they had a newly constructed house, a newly planted vineyard, if they were afraid, or if they had just married. This isn’t just in the interest of the man, but in the woman too. She would want to enjoy their new marriage too! Verse 7 says, “Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man take her.” Part of the issue here would be protecting her from another man.
      w
  5. The Captive Bride (21.10-14)
    • This text, strange as it is to our minds, is at least trying to squelch the “potential for male abuse of women in such contexts” (161). It is an “appeal to Israelites to be charitable in their treatment of foreign women, who, through no fault of their own, are forced to become a part of the Israelite community” (161).
      w
  6. The Second-Ranked Wife (21.15-17)
    • “Bigamous and polygamous marriages provided fertile soil for the mistreatment of women” (161). The text here assumes that one of the wives will become the favored wife (just think of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah) which means her son will be favored too (just like Jacob, Joseph, and Benjamin, two sons who came from Rachel, the favored wife of Jacob). This provision secures the well-being of the son of the not-loved-as-much wife, which will provide a means for the son to live and help his mother when she is in her old age.
      w
  7. The Mother of a Rebellious Child (21.18-21)
    • While the text starts off with a man having “a stubborn and rebellious son,” the mother is included in the authority and discipline of the rebellious son.

Conclusion

While there are many unjust situations and scenarios that we come across in the Bible and in our world today that we do not have an answer to, we do have a future to look forward to. There will come a day when Christ is united with his bride, the Church, and we live together in the new creation. All will be pleasing and perfect. But until then, we now look in a mirror dimly. We long for the day when the world will be set right, when we will see Jesus “face to face” (1 Cor 13.12). Until then we are to seek his example, both as a Husband (Eph 5.25-27), and as one who suffered unjustly (1 Peter 2.21-25).

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Review: Going Public – Why Baptism is Required for Church Membership

GoingPublic_CVR

Should we baptize babies? Or should we wait until they are grown up and declare their belief in Jesus? What about if their children? More so, what do we do with all of these people in our church? I’ve grown up in solely non-denominational churches, one which had membership, the other (that being Calvary Chapel and their affiliate churches and campuses) which had open membership. Jamieson says, “This whole book aims toward the conclusion that churches should require prospective members to be baptized—which is to say, baptized as believers— in order to join” (1). This is important because, according to Jamieson, 

Evangelical ecclesiology tends to be consumed by the question of ‘what works.’ Pragmatism has not only moved to the center of our churchly solar system, but like an aging star it has ballooned and swallowed everything in its orbit. So we tend to neglect ecclesiology as a theological subject altogether or at best sketch a bare outline of what a church birthed by the gospel and grounded on the final authority of Scripture should look like (1).

Introduction

What does baptism have to do with the church or church membership? Baptism is one’s public profession of their faith.

Jamieson’s purpose is to show that “[t]ogether baptism and the Lord’s Supper mark off a church as a unified, visible, local body of believers. To put it more technically, they give a church institutional form and order” (2). Jamieson says that “according to Scripture baptism is required for church membership and for participation in the Lord’s Supper, membership’s recurring effective sign” (8).

Audience: Jamieson writes primarily to help baptists understand the importance of credobaptism and it’s place in the life of their local church (Jamieson believes that paedobaptists are in the universal Church, just that they shouldn’t be members of credobaptist churches). Who should be a member? Who shouldn’t? Should everybody be allowed? Why even have membership? Who gets to partake in the Lord’s Supper? Not only is this debate for Baptists, but also those who believe that only believers should be baptized (9).

Jameson is saddened at excluding paedobaptists from church membership, but he says that it is far worse to disregard one of Christ’s commands and erase the symbols that proclaim our union with Christ. Baptism and partaking in the Lord’s Supper are visible signs that Jesus gave to the church to separate them from the world (besides loving one another).

Summary

Bobby Jameson, previous assistant editor for 9Marks, divides Going Public into three sections:

  • Part 1 – Getting Our Bearings
  • Part 2 – Building a Case
  • Part 3 – The Case Stated, Defended, Applied

In Part One, Jamieson tells the reader why this debate is worth having and maps out the argument so that we can survey the land that we will be coming up on. Both paedobaptists and credobaptists agree that believers must be baptized to be members of the church. Where they disagree is on the timing of baptism, and Jamieson seeks to show how post-conversion baptism is the view that correctly follows Jesus’ command.

Part Two offers a theology of baptism. Jamieson says that baptism is the passport into the Kingdom and it “it constitutes someone a ‘church member’” (96). The Lord’s Supper is celebrated by the church, since it was given to the church for their remembrance of Christ’s death which bought the church, and thus one must be a member of the church to take part in it.

It’s not surprising, then, that Paul can say we are baptized into one (universal) body at conversion; yet we become one (local) body through participating in the Lord’s Supper (122).

In Part Three, Jamieson summarizes his argument on why baptism is required for church membership (chapter eight). In chapter nine he responds to seven arguments against his credobaptist position. Chapter ten turns the tables and brings seven arguments against open membership. Chapter eleven gives some general principles on how to apply and practice baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and church membership in church.

Besides having a solid argument (for reviews from different denominational perspectives, see here), Jamieson starts off each chapter with a summary outline of what he will cover in that chapter. As he moves through the chapter he provides bold headings for each new section which corresponds with one point on the outline. Jamieson makes it pretty difficult to lose sight of his argument and readers will appreciate these outlines. They provide a simple yet tremendously helpful roadmap for each chapter. As it is almost impossible not to know what will come up in the chapter, this is perfect for note taking, reviewing, and reading in general.

Recommended?

Rather than prooftexts, Jamieson seeks to draw out what the whole Bible (specifically the New Testament, though without neglecting the theology of the Old) says about baptism for Christians. Jamieson wants to stay true to the whole word of God. He means no disrespect to his paedobaptistic brothers and sisters, but he refuses to demur his basic point: to participate both in church membership and in the Lord’s Supper, one must be baptized, not as an infant, but as a Christ-proclaiming believer. Having been in an open-membership non-denominational church for the last 12 years, I’ve been curious about the pros and cons of “membership.” This book is highly recommended, and it gives many answers to many questions that its readers may have. It will cause quite a stir among many, but I think it is well worth the shake up.

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(Special thanks to B&H Academic for allowing me to review this book! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.)

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Review: Urban Legends of the New Testament

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Christians are taught that the Bible is the Word of God. In it is the way to salvation, or perhaps it’s called the “roadmap to life.” But the Bible isn’t like a math book. In a math book, a+b = c. But in the Bible, what is ‘a’ and what is ‘b’, and how would we know if ‘c’ is correct? Each verse is not another problem to solve. The words must be read together in context, or else we will misread the Bible. The fact is, we often do misread the Bible. Rather than looking closely at the text, we scan over it assuming that we either know what we’re reading, or, if we don’t understand it, it doesn’t matter. Many of these misreadings are taught in schools, in churches, and in books.

David Croteau, professor of New Testament and Greek in the Seminary and School of Ministry at Columbia International University, has put together and sought to dispel 40 of the urban legends (i.e., misinterpretations) that people read in Scripture. Some of the misreadings are mistakes while others require some tweaking. Is agape love really the greatest love? Would God prefer us to hate him rather than to be lukewarm? Can we really do anything through Christ who gives us strength? Or perhaps you simply have to say you believe in Jesus and you will be saved. Are Christians commanded to tithe or to go to church?Are Christians allowed to allow cults into their homes? These are legitimate questions, and Croteau works hard to give a solid, biblical answer to these questions and misreadings.

Summary

Each chapter is roughly 5-8 pages in length with each chapter beginning with the “urban legend,” or the misreading that is widely taught and thought. Then comes an introduction that unravels the legend. It is here where Croteau reveals the holes in the urban legend and tries to prove that this interpretation is invalid. Then he tells you what he believes, why he believes the text says that, and how it applies to our lives as Christians.

Some urban legends seemed to be placed here merely for information’s sake. One urban legend says that Jesus was flogged once, but Croteua shows that Jesus was flogged twice. Yet here Croteau shows that “Christians need not fear apparent contradictions in Scripture…. Through study and with time, an answer can be found. In all likelihood someone has answered the question before, and there is a reasonable explanation“ (83). Even other urban legends (rather than a carpenter, it may be that Jesus was construction worker; instead of dying at thirty-three, Jesus may have died a few years later; John 3.16-21 might not have been spoken by Jesus, but instead was placed here by the author John) that seem to have little relevance have great application.

Yet, for the few that seem to be placed for mere information’s sake, there are plenty more that have been legitimate head-scratchers for many (including myself). This is a book I wish I would have had when I as in high school. Besides the three mentioned earlier (which I also wrote about in earlier posts), these urban legends include:

  • There Was No Room at the Inn
  • The Gospel is Dynamite
  • Synagogues Had Men and Women Seated Separately
  • Jesus Emptied Himself of the Glory of Heaven
  • Hell Is the Absence of God
  • Women Should Not Wear Jewelry
  • The Gospel of John Never Refers to Repentance
  • All Giving Must Be Done in Secret
  • Hell Referred to a First-Century Garbage Dump near Jerusalem

Each chapter is easy to read and understand, and Croteau can be trusted not only to exegete the text correctly, but to care enough about the church to seek how to apply God’s word to his people. I don’t know if Croteau is planning on writing any more Urban Legend volumes, but I hope to see one from him on the Old Testament. This likely won’t be a book for the scholar or the seminary student. Highly recommended for high schoolers, college students, and even pastors who have church members asking these questions.

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[Special thanks to B&H Academic for allowing me to review this book! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.]

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Don’t Covet Your Neighbor’s…?

phillipe-de-champaigne-moses-with-the-ten-commandments

Having last looked at the two versions of “keeping the Sabbath,” now I want to turn our attention to the tenth commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Covet Your Neighbor’s….” which will seque into my next post.

Two Purposes of the Ten Commandments

As I’ve mentioned before, Block says that the Decalogue has a two-fold purpose:

(1) to provide the Israelites with a clear understanding of YHWH’s view of the appropriate response to salvation; and (2) to instill in the redeemed a respect for God and other members of the community. And herein we discover the Mosaic understanding of ‘love’: total commitment to the well-being of others, whether God or one’s fellow being, demonstrated in acts that seek the well-being of the next person — rather than self-interest (146-147).

The Tenth Commandment

Exodus 20.17

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

Deuteronomy 5.21

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

Where’s the Beef?

A few questions you might ask after reading these might be, “Why isn’t ‘wife’ first in the Exodus command?” or “So it’s okay that the man owns everyone, even his wife? Even his servants?” or “Is this difference really that important?”

Exodus

Block says that there are actually two commands in the Hebrew. Here in the Exodus version one is not to covet “the house of your neighbor” and one should also not covet “a catalogue of items claimed by own’s neighbor: his wife, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, and his donkey, and ending with a catch-all expression, ‘anything that belongs to your neighbor’” (154).

As a result, these commands “distinguish coveting the neighbor’s real property (the house) from coveting the human beings who make up the economic unity, the household” (155).

Deuteronomy

In Deuteronomy, Israel (though really this is pointed to the men who are the head of their houses) is commanded not to covet, first and foremost, their neighbor’s wife. Now, the command not to covet “‘[y]our neighbor’s house’ is dropped down to the second command” (155). Now house is paired with field, male with female servant, and ox with horse.

But why would Moses switch these two words? Moses, being the pastor he is, wants to “ensure the elevated status of the wife in a family unit and to foreclose any temptation to use the Exodus version of the command to justify men’s treatment of their wives as if they were mere property, along with the rest of the household possessions” (156).

Egypt, the House of Slavery

Ending the Ten Commandments with this command might actually create a frame that reminds the Israelites of the freedom they have in worshiping YHWH. Switching the places of “wife” and “house” does not mean that they represent “the interchangeability of women with other items of property” (156). Block notes,

The opening preamble [Deut. 5.6] portrays the land of Egypt as [a] “house of slavery”… from which YHWH had rescued Israel. The last command refers to the home by the same term; this is the male head of the household’s domain, in which his style of leadership may be just as oppressive as the bondage under Pharaoh. Indeed, the Old Testament narratives are rife with accounts of abusive men who treat women as property that may be disposed of at will for the sake of male honor and male ego (156).

Cultural Glasses?

But could it be that Block is reading this commandment through 21st century gender-equality glasses? Would the Israelites really see Moses raising the status of all wives simply because “wife” is placed as the first object which is not to be coveted in the command? Though it is possible Block is wearing “women-first” glasses, I’m not so sure. Block reinforces his interpretation by saying, 

[Moses] reinforces this distinction [between wife and property] by reserving the verb [covet] for the illicit lust of a man toward another man’s wife and substituting it with [desire] when speaking of the desire a man might have for another man’s household property…. In Sivan’s words, the Deuteronomic version ‘elevates women as the most desirable objects of coveting. It also implies that covert coveting of other women’s wives is more pervasive and more complex than the rest of the listed inventory’ (157).

We just have to think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5.27-28,

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

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Yahweh Divides the Nations

Virgil_Solis_-_Gods_council

Last time we started to look at what Heiser, in his book The Unseen Realm, calls the Deuteronomy 32 Worldview. What we see in Genesis 11 about the tower of Babel has to do with more than dispersing the people. They were “apportioned as an inheritance according to the number of the sons of God” (113).

If It’s Weird…

If you’re wondering about all of this, why it’s important, you should be applauded for making it this far. Heiser’s mentality is this: “If it’s weird, it’s important.” There are many strange things we see in the Scripture and, rather than look into it, we hear some normal, unsupernatural teaching that calms the Bible down. It keeps it from sounding too weird. But Heiser is looking at what the text says and where that brings the reader.

(I will make another post with some of the bizarre texts of the Bible).

Allotment

What happened to the other nations? Heiser tells us, “As odd as it sounds, the rest of the nations were placed under the authority of members of Yahweh’s divine council. The other nations were assigned to lesser elohim as a judgment from the Most High, Yahweh” (114).

We can see this is so in Deuteronomy 4.19-20,

“And beware lest you raise your eyes toward heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all of the peoples under all of the whole heaven. But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day.”

In Deuteronomy 32.8-9 God gives the nations over to the sons of God. Here, God allotted the gods to those nations.

“God decreed in the wake of Babel, that the other nations he had forsaken would have other gods besides himself to worship. It was as though God was saying, ‘If you don’t want to obey me, I’m not interested in being your god — I’ll match you up with some other god.’”

So other “gods,” (which were created by Yahweh, and thus, are lower than him), are now over the nations and they will be worshiped by the peoples of those nations. But their rule will be of corruption.

Psalm 82

Taken from the ESV

God [elohim] has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods [elohim] he holds judgment:

“How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked?

Selah

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
they walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

I said, “You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;

nevertheless, like men you shall die,
and fall like any prince.”

Arise, O God, judge the earth;
for you shall inherit all the nations!

God stands in the midst of his council and holds judgment against the gods, the elohim. They judge unjustly. Being wicked, they give favor to the wicked. Though sons of the Most High, they will all die like humans. In the end, the psalms as Yahweh to stand and “judge the earth” for He will be the one who will judge all the nations.

What’s the Connection?

Like the Nephilim who were men of renown (or “men of the name”), “[t]hose who built the tower of Babel wanted to do so to ‘make a name…’ for themselves” (115). What would this mean? Remember all that we’ve seen with Babel so far. Babylonian ideas about the Nephilim stemmed from thinking the gods gave Babylon their knowledge. Here, these Babylonians want to build a tower to the gods and make a name for themselves.

It meant “perpetuating Babylonian religious knowledge and substituting the rule of Babel’s gods for rule by Yahweh” (115). By now the message was pretty clear. “Humanity had shunned Yahweh and his plan to restore Eden through them, so he would shun them and start again” (115).

But the nations wouldn’t be completely forsaken. Once Abraham was chosen by Yahweh, he was given a promise. In Genesis 12.2-3, Yahweh tells Abraham, “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

What are these other elohim? Well, I can’t give everything away? You’ll just have to buy the book for that answer.

Outline

The Nephilim

Dividing the Nations

The OT Trinity

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And also Heiser’s more condensed version,

supernatural

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Concluding Thoughts on the Fifth Commandment

Last time I summarized the meaning in of the fifth commandment in each of its contexts (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5). Now I’ll answer the question, “On which reason was Israel supposed to keep the Sabbath? Because God rested on the seventh day? Or because God brought Israel out of Egypt?”

The Answer

In his essay “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” in The Gospel According to Moses, Daniel Block gives a few pointers on how we should view Moses’ transformation of the fifth commandment in Deuteronomy 5.

  • Moses acknowledges that beyond patterning human creative work after that of God the Creator of heaven and earth, the Sabbath is a gift, offering all who toil an opportunity to refresh themselves…
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  • Instead of calling on Israelites to remember the Sabbath, Moses calls on them to treasure the Sabbath by recalling their time in Egypt, when they labored for brutal taskmasters, without Sabbath or relief.
    • In addition to observing the seventh-day Sabbath by celebrating God’s work in the creation of the cosmos, the Israelites were to use it to celebrate YHWH’s special creative work in rescuing them from bondage with his strong hand and outstretched arm.

Creation Accounts

In Deuteronomy, Moses is a pastor. He has been for the entire journey. Since he knows he will soon die and his time with Israel will soon be over, he gives them a last call to follow YHWH. Both Sabbath commands are rooted in creation. In Exodus 20 we have the creation of the world, and in Deuteronomy 5 we have the creation of Israel.

In Genesis 1-2 God created a people who were supposed to live eternally in his presence. They were to be fruitful and multiply, expanding the garden to the ends of the earth so that the earth would “be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2.14). Adam was to work and keep the garden (Gen 2.15; Num 13.21).

But Adam and Eve failed. Then God graciously rescued the Hebrews out of Egypt, and He created a new people. He made them to be a kingdom of priests (Exod 19.4-6). Later the priests in Numbers were to guard their priesthood for all that concerns the altar and that is within the veil; and… serve (Num 8.7). The priesthood was given as a gift from God. In Deuteronomy the nation of Israel itself was to “walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice,” and they would serve him and hold fast to him” (Deut 13.4).

Just as in the creation story with Adam and Eve, now Israel has been created as a new people for God, and they are given the same kind of tasks as Adam and Eve. As God’s people they are to serve God, obey his word, and be a light among the nations.

But… the Animals

Moses adds a few comments on animals and servants in the Deuteronomy command (5.14). Block says,

“It is not difficult to imagine that in ancient Israel the male householder might have been tempted to have his animals and hired hands continue working on the Sabbath even as he and his immediate family personally and smugly observed this ordinance. But this philanthropic sensitivity is not to be restricted to one’s family or even fellow Israelites. All who live within the towns and villages of Israel — animal and human — are to be granted one day in seven as a day for rest and recuperation” (153).

“On which reason was Israel supposed to keep the Sabbath? Because God rested on the seventh day? Or because God brought Israel out of Egypt?”

Both. In both instances we have a creation account. In both instances we have the creation of a new people who are to serve God and expand his kingdom to the rest of the world. In both instances there is an invitation to ascend the mountain of the Lord (Ps 15.1; 24.3; Exod 19.20).

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