FLEXIBILITY – “NEW LIFE” BULLETIN
In the last bulletin article I stumbled upon something that caused me to ask some questions about how the Law of Moses was delivered and applied. That question had to do with the daughters of Zelophehad coming to Moses with the request that their father’s inheritance be given to them since their father died having no sons.
What I noticed was that since the question had to be asked, the apparent answer up to that point was that daughters did not directly inherit, but that it was given to some other male relative. This seems to be a new situation brought up by five independent women.
By the time this happens in Numbers 27, the Law had been signed, sealed and delivered and Joshua had been anointed the new leader of Israel. The question has to do with how flexible the Law was when it came to new situations? If God gave it in full content, why was there a need for Moses to, as it says in v.5 “So Moses brought their case before the Lord”? I also find it rather delightful that the Lord says the women are right, they deserved the inheritance.
Now, I could ask if God forgot that law when the Law was being given, but it seems to me to say something more important. It seems to say the Law was not beyond being understood in a broader way than it might seem. That the law was flexible in that each new situation could be “taken before the Lord” for a resolution. Something similar happens in Leviticus 24: 11,12. The son of an Egyptian father and an Israelite mother blasphemed”the Name” during a fight and they inquired about the will of the Lord. He was stoned. In Numbers 9:8 the question came up concerning the Passover and some who were unclean because they came in contact with a dead body: Could they observe Passover? It says the Lord told Moses they could. Again in Numbers 15:34 it is about a man gathering wood on the Sabbath. Even though the Sabbath law had been given on Sinai it says in v. 34 the man was taken into “custody because it was not clear what should be done to him.” The Lord, through Moses condemned him to death.
Note that the Sabbath law had been given long before this. It said in the nutshell that no work could be done by any person or animal on the Sabbath. However, what “work” meant was not clearly defined. Therefore, as situations would arise, decisions about possible violations would have to be brought “before the Lord” for resolution. What that means seems to be, Moses praying for guidance.
As we know, those who would interpret the Sabbath (the Talmud) would eventually come up with 39 categories with 39 detailed instructions for each category. We’re not told how God felt about that.
We also know that view of the Sabbath was a problem for Jesus. Since the Law didn’t specify in detail what “work” was, it became a burden that the religious rulers imposed and the Jews twisted to suit their needs.
Let me add one other consideration. The second Commandment said there could be no “images” of any living thing. The NIV does a good job here by using “idol” instead of image.
How was “idol” or “craven image”defined? On the mercy seat there were several images of animal-like creatures. Were these “craven” images? No. Why? Because they were understood to represent the power and majesty of God, not God, or a (false) god. If we add to that the bronze snake Moses held up in the wilderness (which seems a little borderline), we see the reason the Jews would shy away from any craven image. The snake later became an object of worship way up in the time of Hezekiah. That resistence to “images” would carry over to Jesus’ day and even today.
What’s my point? All through their history the Jewish rabbis have read the Law and the prophets and then did their best to interpret and apply those commandments. Did they come to a unanimous agreement? No. And we need to keep in mind the Hebrew scriptures belonged to them and they were serious about getting it right. So if they don’t interpret it they way we would, we need to respect that they were (are) as sincere as we are.
So just as they took scripture and applied and interpreted it according to situations as they arose, so should we. Of course, we might say Moses had some kind of direct line to God, but we would have to say the same thing about the prophets who often wrote, “And the word of the Lord said to…”
Perhaps this flexibility is what Paul was thinking about when he said, “He (God) has made us confident as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” II Cor. 3:6. I would suggest reading that in context, or all of chapter 3.
SEPTEMBER BIRTHDAYS: 13-Joanne Elder 25- Mark McRoy 25-Judy McWhorter 29: AC Fuller
CONCERNS: Betty Billings is in hospice care in room 106, Raleigh Court HRC. BillBranch remains in RMH while they prepare him for rehab at Friendship Manner on Starkey Road. Gary Overstreet is now at home. Jo Wagner’s sister, Judy Powell; Ray and Debbie Reiss’ son-in-law is still waiting on a biopsy of his remaining brain cancer. Del Bolin’s mother, Carrie, is dealing with aging issues. Deanna McRoy; Joni and Alan Beach’s parents; Teryn Gaynor’s mother has resumed cancer treatment. Remember Leena Bolin’s friend who is dealing with family stress. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver; Marjorie Weaver; Melanie Gentry and family; Wayne Phlegar; Ray and Darnel Barns; Gil Richardson; Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder
At the time of this writing, the weather and everything else looks good for the Labor Day Weekend Bar-B-Que. Thanks to everyone who helped.
THE ANNEX LIGHTING
We have an estimate for redoing the lighting in the annex and as soon as possible, the work will start.
Please remember to lock all doors in the building and annex when you leave. They have been found unlocked recently.
PEANUT BUTTER DRIVE
Feeding America is once again having a peanut butter drive. Peanut butter is a good source of nutrition and tastes good too. Place the jars on the table across from
back staircase or on the table in the foyer. The drive is through August, but they say they can use peanut butter all the time.
The Dale Ridge congregation is having Ladies Day on Saturday, September 15. The guest speaker is Angela Tanksley from Knoxville, TN. More information can be found on the table in the foyer.
VISITORS While the Bolin’s others may be away this weekend, we had Alan Beach’s brother and sister-law with us last Sunday.
The Wednesday evening Bible study is in the Gospel of John. On Sunday mornings the study is from the book of Acts.