“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 25, NO. 11&12 – WHY?
It’s a child’s question, but it is the question every advance, change, invention and even marriage begins with. It’s vital for growth and progress. Every science depends on it for its continued progress. Even the science of theology. However, theology is the one science in which there is resistance to such an advance in understanding. We want a firm, unchanging, view of God. We like black and white, either/or.
We also come to the Bible with the influence of others and it influences how we understand it. Historically, those who break away from the accepted idea of their group’s understanding are usually seen as suspicious. Think Jesus. But those who ask “why” are seekers of truth.
I remember a preacher who said he had no idea why God commanded baptism. But if God said jump through hoops we should do it. It never crossed his mind that he had just insulted God. He implied that God would ask silly and meaningless things of us, and we should respond without question. It is my belief that there is a reason for everything people do because of God, as well as what God asks of us.
For example, in Deuteronomy 23:1 it says, “No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter into the assembly of the Lord.” (NIV) The RSV says, “He whose testicles are crushed or whose male member has been cut off shall not enter the assembly of the Lord.” Now, even though the OT offers no commentary, several others do. They range from saying such a person could not be part of the council. Others say they could not be part of the assembly of worship. Most agree that such a person was by definition, a eunuch, and was made such by “crushing” or deforming the ability to reproduce. As to why these men were rejected flows anywhere from God wanting nothing to do with anything less than perfect, to the idea that the person rendered such would not have respect, or in at least one case, the mentality to be part of the council. However, the ultimate question is why God would hold such barbaric cruelty against them and find them repugnant? And if God does not change, where does that leave such people today?
My understanding is that it was more about the inability to produce offspring than the condition itself. A man without the ability to have offspring was a man without a future and had little usefulness, except as a harem overseer. But, is that how God felt? I don’t think so. In Isaiah 56:3 it says, “Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the Lord say, ‘The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.’ And let not any eunuch complain, ‘I am only a dry tree.’ (The implication there is obvious, no fruit.) For this is what the Lord says, (note it is what the Lord says) ‘To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant—to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.” Admittedly this is a vision of the coming Messianic age. But how can the Deuteronomy statement and the one from Isaiah both be from the Lord God? And, since Jesus is the Messiah, what is the implication of that promise today?
Let me add one more before giving my answer. In Leviticus 21: 16ff “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to Aaron: “For the generations to come (note “generations to come”) none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God.’ “ The text goes on to list the blind, lame, disfigured, deformed, crippled foot or hand, hunchbacked or dwarfed and again the crushed testicles. Why? Why would the God we see in Jesus be that kind of God? God wasn’t and God isn’t. But, for a people enslaved for centuries, who had lost touch with the God of Abraham and had been polluted (adulterated) by all the years in Egypt, there was seen the need to make them a “separate”, “Holy”, and pure (as their God was holy and pure) people. Everything Egyptian had to be removed, like boiling a kid in its mother’s milk. Exodus 23:19. Everything that mixed things together, like plowing with an ox and an ass, or sowing two seeds in the same furrow, or mixing two types of cloth, not done. These were constant visual aids to remind them to be a separated people. To do that, their bodies had to be clean as well to produce pure children. The womb had to be pure (unadulterated), if not, it was useless, unless the man gave a written divorce. So any man who sowed his seed in another man’s field (womb) destroyed the purity of that man’s offspring. The woman’s role in pregnancy was not known at that time. So both the man who robbed his neighbor of his pure field by adulterating it, and the woman who was now useless and adulterated, were stoned.
The eunuch, as said before, had no usefulness just as did the barren woman. A field that won’t grow seeds is fallow. Those imperfect by way of disfigurement were tossed into the same category as the blemished animals that could not be accepted as a sacrifice. If only a perfect animal could be offered, only a perfect person could do the offering. They had to be a perfect, unmixed, one God people. Their future depended on it. So procreation was seen as most important. That’s why the “seed” was to be valued. So in Deuteronomy 25:11, 12 when it says, “When men fight with one another and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, (testicles) then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall have no pity.”, it does not mean she touched the wrong thing, but that she may have caused him to become sterile. His bloodline could be over. Can you imagine the beaten husband’s reaction? Is that the God who says “Return not evil for evil.”?
History shows these rules were abandoned after they reached the promised land. It was not God who changed; it was the context of their place in history. As we read the Bible we should think about that.
CONCERNS: Richard Crites is still having tests to determine the severe pain in his back. All other tests have ruled out cancer. Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick, has been told the cancer treatment has reduced the tumors, so they can cut back a little to let him gain some weight. T. J. Hall had some tests done last week. Helen Nicklas continues about the same. Walter Wagner (Keith’s brother had melanoma surgery and then lymph node removal, and is at this time free of cancer. Those continuing to be treated or recovering from cancer treatment are: Philip Pierce’s mother, Ruby Stahl, Stephanie Ridney, and Marge Greenwood, relatives of the Beach’s, as well as Joni’s mother. Also, Regan, the ten year old being treated for brain cancer, Connie Crites’ brother and Del Bolin’s friend’s Sharon and Billy. Deanna McRoy and Jim Hunter have finished their treatments. Still seeking employment are Melisha and Sam. Continue to remember Martha Foy’s parents, Jenni Cullum, Alma Martin, Ron Matney, (Ron’s wife, Joyce is recovering from a broken arm) and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: MAR. 25-30
Monday: Genesis 2:1-14
Tuesday: Matthew 3:1-17
Wednesday: I Thess. 3:1-13
Thursday: Matthew 21:28-44
Friday: II Peter 1:16-2:10
Saturday: Psalm 91:1-16
OUR DAILY BREAD: APRIL 1-6
Monday: Psalm 139:1-24
Tuesday: Matthew 8:1-13
Wednesday: Matthew 12:1-14
Thursday: Colossians 2:8-19
Friday: Revelation 2:1-11
Saturday: Matthew 16:13-28
Since March has five Sunday’s in it the next bulletin will contain the service roster for April and will be dated April 7. Ben Robertson has asked that Keith setup the roster, so if you are going to be away in April, let him know.
EASTER EGG HUNT
The Easter Egg Hunt for the little ones next Sunday following the service. It will be in the annex yard. “Little ones” means all children third grade and under. Everything will be ready, just bring your cameras. Holly Wagner will meet with the children and start the hunt.
MIKE BROWN’S ARTICLE
Mike Brown wrote an article concerning the struggle to integrate Harding University and it was published in the Arkansas Times. A few copies have been made. If you are interested see Keith or you can read it online by typing “Harding and the American Way” Mike’s a gifted writer and it’s a valuable read.
Remember, if the handicapped parking area is full when you arrive, there will be someone there to provide parking service.
Remember to save the aluminum pull tabs from any aluminum cans for the Ronald McDonald House.
Knowing how easy it is to forget the announcements by the time church is over, Martha Albert asked last Sunday if anyone would be interested in cooking again at the Ronald McDonald House. If you thought about it but forgot, let her know today. If you do it you won’t be disappointed.
THE SOUND SYSTEM
After deciding some last minute changes we are ready to start the renovation of our sound system. As soon as the equipment is purchased and arrives we will get started. Even though Jim White and his son-in-law will be the “techs” on the job, they will need our help to speed up the installation. Get ready to help out. We have been waiting to do this for some time. After the sound improvement is finished we will start on the visual part of upgrading our worship service. Also, we will start developing plans to upgrade the upstairs restroom to be used by the handicapped.