“Has God said…?”: Ethics of the Interpretive Tradition

“Has God said…?”: Ethics of the Interpretive Tradition

?”Has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?…”

             “God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!…” (Gen.3:1-4)

Thus we are told the origin of man’s original exile from God’s Divine Presence. Spawned by the “forked tongue” of the serpent, Eve succumbs to the temptation of eating the forbidden fruit. She then gives the forbidden delicacy to the man.

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In normative Christian theology, this is explained as the act which constitutes the Original Sin, or Fall of Man. In Jewish tradition it is often explained as discovered carnality and the beginning of exile. (Judaism does not teach the doctrine of Original Sin).

Perhaps there is a deeper, more profound way to look at this story of origins than just the introduction of base sexuality or a simple explanation of how humanity fell from “grace”.

The serpent knows the words of God, but the story progresses when he interprets, suggesting his interpretation. Interestingly, Moses does the same in the Torah (as we will see). Can we learn something by comparing Moses to the serpent in the Garden? Yes, I believe we can: a very important aspect of biblical interpretive tradition that, when misunderstood, is at the root of nearly all false teaching and division within the body of Messiah.

It is easy to see how the serpent twists and manipulates God’s words of instruction to Eve. Why is it easy? Because we know that the result of the encounter is disaster. Therefore, we also assume that he is misquoting God’s words. But is he?

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(Audio) Mediator of the Covenant

(Audio) Mediator of the Covenant

What is the role of Torah in the life of a Gentile? Is there a precedent to Gentiles receiving Torah obligation? Why does God use the agent of a mediator in the establishment of the covenant at Sinai, and how does this relate to the ministry of the Messiah? Finally, what is the difference between irrational fear vs. the fear of the LORD?

 

Why Did Jesus Pray?

Why Did Jesus Pray?

“But he departed to the wilderness areas and prayed.” (Luke 5:16) (Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels, Vine of David)

Jesus often rose early in the morning, well before the sun arose, and spent time praying. Why?  If he is the “lamb slain from the foundation of the world”, and the Holy Son of God, for what purpose did he need to devote so much of his time to prayer, especially alone? Wouldn’t this time have been better spent teaching his disciples, or praying with them, or, heck, how about sleeping? He had a lot to do, and very little time to do it, after all. It seems rather counter-intuitive that, with so little real time of ministry ahead of him, that he would seek to be alone so often.

What was he praying about? He knew his mission. He knew the will of the Father. For what was he seeking? Well, while no-one can know for certain the full measure or content of the Lord’s prayers to his heavenly Father, what we can know are some of the ways he would have prayed.   Continue reading

Agents of Salvation

Agents of Salvation

“When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.” (Ex.14:31)

There is much spiritual talk in today’s world about where and how to find God. It is popular to think of God as a purveyor of good tidings to all who merely acknowledge Him. Many teachers and authors present God as the equivalent of a type of New Age Life Force who benevolently seeks to give you the desires of your heart, if you just believe. Images abound in Christian media of men and women, usually cast in a meadow, near the ocean, or on a mountaintop, reaching expectantly towards the heavens, arms outstretched, eyes closed, palms open, ready to receive His bounty. It looks like this:

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This woman has obviously found God

And this is all very nice.  Perhaps you will benefit in some way by standing on a rock near the ocean with your arms stretched towards the sun. But you will not find God this way, because this is not how God is found. This doesn’t mean that God’s handiwork is not revealed to us through these type experiences, but to know Him personally, we must believe the message of those He has sent to represent Him.

Even though the image above seems similar to the mental picture we have of Moses stretching out his staff to part the Red Sea, as we have described to us in Exodus 14, in reality it is far different than that. This is because Moses was the Agent of God, the First Redeemer, the man who delivered the children of Israel from bondage through the power God bestowed upon him. Moses was not trying to motivate or life-coach the people. He was not exampling mindfulness. Rather, he was fulfilling the mission for which he was sent, which was to be God’s Agent of salvation, his Chosen One.

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