“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 23, NO. 6 – WHEN DID GOD START LIKING PORK?
I’m sure there is an explanation for the dietary laws of Israel. Simply put, it seems anything that eats other blood-bearing living things is off limits, with some exceptions that have to do with the animal’s foot, or some other characteristic of the bird etc.. It seems to have to do with a belief that eating an animal that had eaten another living thing might give the eater the power or characteristics of both animals, or being made unclean by eating something that had eaten some other living thing’s blood. I’m still not sure why the rabbit is unclean just because of it’s feet. Neither am I sure why a kid goat should not be boiled in it’s mothers milk. (Deut. 14:21) It seems that this, like many of the prohibitions of Moses, had to do with a practice that was done by Egyptians.
If the Hebrews, who had been absorbed by Egyptian culture for 400 years were going to be a distinct and “holy” (different) people, they had to leave behind everything Egyptian. As we read their story we see the constant attempt to go back, or to rekindle the memories of Egypt. The golden calf would be one such an example.
On another level we see the prohibition against “mixing” things like grain, and animals, cloth and even people. While Moses seems to have no problem taking an Ethiopian woman for his second wife, the Hebrews were to remain a pure race. Adultery was more about the result than the act itself. The result was that the birthing place, the womb of a man’s wife, was now made unclean, polluted, adulterated, by another man’s seed. This rendered the woman useless, so she was to be stoned. The man who polluted her was also to be stoned because he had made unclean the place the husband’s offspring could be born pure and carry on his tribal name. The exception was for divorce, which could only be done by the husband. Even before the time of David the marriage purity laws had faded. So Ruth, a Moabite (Moabites were banned for several social and political reasons) becomes the wife of David’s grandfather. So it’s not an Old Testament/New Testament thing.
All of this can be understood within the context of Moses recreating the people of God. Those things necessary for that to happen would fade away the longer they were away from Egypt. However, they were never far form the influence of the world around them, so they were constantly warned about idols and all things pertaining to pagan worship. The Old Testament attests to the fact that they were never very good at avoiding either of those things.
Be that as it may, there is the issue of “The Lord said…” All through the Old Testament in every rule, requirement, law and ordinance, there is attached, “The Lord said…” The tricky question is if this was some actual voice of God, or an attempt at understanding what the God wanted. One of the most important statements in scripture is when Jesus said several times in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, “You have heard it said of old”, each time referring to the law of Moses. Meaning, “The Lord said to Moses” or “The Lord said through Moses. but I say to you.”
So when Jesus said, “But I say to you” (and the “But” is very significant) was he saying, “God said to you, but I say to you”? If what Moses said was what God said, if Jesus is God’s “word”, how could Jesus say, “God said , but now I say”?
God can only speak within the context of time. In other words, if Moses heard God say to build several giant silver birds with jet engines and fly the Israelites to the promised land, Moses would’ve thought he’d inhaled too much swamp gas. Therefore, what Moses does to bring about the desired result, is guided by the voice of God that speaks within the context of Moses’ understanding of how to do it. That being true (I’m sure there are those who say it isn’t) the word (will) of God will always be heard and implemented within the context of the social, moral and theological understanding at the time.
So, back to the original question: When did God start liking pork? From the beginning. The Bible says God created everything and pronounced it good. And we now know that each creature has its place in what can be a fragile ecosystem.
How then are we to decide what is the present will of God and what is not? The common method is the, “If something in the Old Testament is commanded or condemned in the New Testament, it is applicable to the Christian. Not a very good method of interpretation. Then someone added “necessary inference”, meaning if it is inferred in the context. Also not a good method, but it does move toward a broader understanding. There’s also “example”, which is also weak. For example, in Exodus 31:16,17 it says the sabbath was to be kept as “a lasting covenant” vs. 16, “forever” vs. 17. It was also observed in the New Testament and was observed well into the New Testament period by Jewish Christians. And, with good reason. It was to be observed “forever”. The Seventh Day Adventists keep Saturday/Sabbath because the scriptures say to.
Another one is Passover. It was to be done each year according to the law. However, in II Kings 23:22 it says they had not observed a Passover since the time of Joshua and the kings of both Judah and Israel. Passover was observed in both testaments and it is certainly a significant event. However, it, like most of the Old Testament laws were for a particular time and a particular people, the Israelites, not the whole world.
A good explanation for what I’m saying is found in Leviticus 18. After a long list of “abominations” beginning with, “The Lord said to Moses” it says, “Do not defile yourself in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled.”
The importance of this is how we use scripture. Something seen as a danger to bringing about the will of God under certain circumstances may not be necessary in all situations. Avoiding anything Gentile is one of those situations. It is not that God didn’t love Gentiles, or pigs, it was that they were a hindrance at the time.
CONCERNS: Mary Smith had back surgery on Friday. This was done to correct a vertebra. She was told she would walk out the same day, or on Saturday. Eleanor Crush is being treated for pancreatic cancer. A six year old patient of Del Bolin’s, Maci Winebarger, is at St. Judes in Memphis with a malignant tumor on her brain stem. She has a mom, dad, and two brothers and two sisters at home. A website has been set up: caringbridge.org/visit/maciwinebarger. Jamie King suffered serious injury in a car accident, She is Stephanie Dixon’s boss’s daughter. Pray for the Pendelton family in the death of husband and father, Matt. Mike Breeding and his wife, Randy Conner, cancer, Joanne Elder and Erma Williams as they seek employment. Joni Beach’s mother is doing better than expected. She has cancer. Connie Crites father (heart problems). Isabelle Simmons and Helen Nicklas, Roger Fisher’s nephew, Jenni and Wilma Cullum. Tim Elder, the people of Japan, the work of Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.
FOOD PANTRY: The food pantry has been restocked and tow families has been helped form it.
OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 21-26
Monday: Hebrews 4:14-5:10
Tuesday: Matthew 5:17-48
Wednesday: Genesis 1:1-13
Thursday: II Samuel 12:1-15
Friday: Ephesians 6:10-20
Saturday: Psalm 104:1-35
OUR DAILY BREAD: MAR. 28-APR. 2
Monday: Ephesians 1:3-14
Tuesday: Philippians 1:3-18
Wednesday: II Corinthians 9:6-15
Thursday: Luke 5:17-26
Friday: I Timothy 6:1-10
Saturday Psalm 111:1-10
Today, March 20, is Super Sunday. We may have to have the air conditioner on! Plan to enjoy the good food and fellowship following the service. Let’s remember those with March birthdays and anniversaries, as well as guests, go first in the serving line.
Due to the weather we haven’t been able to take the outside shots for the directory. We are only short a few photos, so today would be a great day to be sure Erma has an updated picture for the directory. She will be contacting you after the service this morning.
THE EDMUNDS LECTURE SERIES
Each year Second Presbyterian Church brings in a scholar for this series. Last year those who went enjoyed hearing Barbara Brown Taylor. This year the speaker will be Diana Butler Bass. She will speak on Sunday evening March 27, at 7:00 PM and on Monday, March 28, at 7:00 PM.This is a free lecture series. She has written several award winning books that deal with the history of Christianity.
BIG WORK DAY
As soon as the trees are all cut we will be having a work /log splitting day. This will take a few good hands. We will be using a hydraulic splitter, so we will need loaders and stackers. With the amount of wood we will have we will be able to keep the fireplace working for next year and a few years after that. This early notice is so those of you who need to tune-up your saws can be ready.
We have decided to do one more year (at least) of Vacation Bible School. Erma would like for you to start saving all inside tubes gift wrap comes on, as well as paper towel and bath tissue tubes. There will be a training session coming after Erma conducts one for the area churches that us Group material.
Due to competition Verison has given us DSL internet connection and unlimited long distance calling for a little less than we were paying for our standard service. This means the bulletins can be sent out from the office as well as the service roster. E-mail can also be read, and needed research information can be gained at the office. We will be all hooked up next week.