Christmas Is Associated With
Giving, Receiving And Waiting
For some, Christmas never seems to get here soon enough and the closer it gets the worse the waiting becomes.
The tree goes up several weeks before and the presents start collecting at the base. All the bright wrapping says “guess what I am?” or “ha ha, you have to wait!” and there’s not much you can do to solve the mystery other than cheat, which no one would do at Christmas time, right?
And that’s not all.
There are also surprise gifts, the ones that can’t be easily wrapped – bicycles, trampolines, large stuffed animals, a car in the driveway, etc. Each person knows what they want – and everyone else knows too – but there is no evidence at all, not even a comment slip, to give it away.
So, we wait.
But really, when you think about it, we have it nice. We only have to wait one year for Christmas and even though the anticipation grows the closer it gets, the smell of Christmas keeps us upbeat, so the waiting is tolerable. In some cases it’s fun.
The First Christmas Was Long In Coming
But what about the first Christmas? The one the Old Testament folks knew was coming, even had clues was near, but didn’t know it was there until after the fact. Read more
Why are the Ten Commandments so shallow/narrow? Why do the commandments say nothing about children’s rights, the internet or offer great insights about math?
I found the above question a little amusing. It came originally from an Agnostic/Atheist type (Agath) and is very different to what you would expect. Agaths usually oppose restrictive laws and here one is asking for more. Doesn’t make sense!
But that’s not the only weak point in this question. Three areas of concern are mentioned: Children’s rights, mathematics and the internet. And the complaint is, God failed to regulate these issues.
Well, I agree and disagree. Read more
Everyone knows the story of Moses. He features prominently in Exodus through Deuteronomy and, in fact, wrote all four books. There is little question that he edited the Book of Genesis also – with God’s guidance, of course.
There is also little question that Jochebed should get a lot of credit for everything Moses did.
Of the many unusual things about the life of Moses, the one that is rarely mentioned is the fact that the Bible covers his complete bio from birth to death. Very few have that distinction: Samson, Samuel, John the Baptist and Jesus to name a few. It is also interesting that the lives of these people are accompanied by miracles, at least at birth.
Unlike the others, however, Moses’ conception wasn’t miraculous. His survival immediately following birth was.
Pharaoh, the reigning monarch when Moses was born, decreed that all male born Israelites be sacrificed to the Nile. Not only did Moses survive that decree he was also protected in the safest possible place, the palace of Pharaoh.
It was a miracle, yes, but not in the normal sense of the word. This miracle required a large dose of human activity by someone with a lot of courage, tenacity and ingenuity.
Enter Jochebed, a little known figure otherwise, but one that will forever be associated with the miraculous survival of Moses. The question is, did God speak to this woman and if so, how?
The story unfolds like this: Read more
Filed under: Divorce, Family, Old Testament
The Bible is often treated like a list of inflexible laws, meaning every statement is applied as if it is a hard fast rule, no variation allowed. Those who take this approach use the remarks of Jesus to reinforce the idea:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-19
A quick reading might give the impression that Jesus endorses the “rule book” approach but a few verses later He said things that would challenge this idea. He actually moved a few legal goal posts.
- Not murdering someone is a good rule to follow but avoiding getting angry with them is even better, 5:21-22.
- Not sleeping with a woman, other than your wife, is a good rule to follow but not entertaining the idea is even better, 5:27-28.
- Not committing the sins to which you are vulnerable is noteworthy but avoiding the situations which tempt you to commit those sins is even better, 5:29-30.
- Taking no more than an “eye’s” worth of penalty for an “eye’s” worth of offense is a good rule to follow but taking less is even better, 5:38-39.
- Not taking revenge on your enemies is a good rule to follow but actively loving them is even better, 5:43-44.
Obviously, Jesus saw the law as restrictive not prescriptive. It was designed to limit the expression of our human tendencies and prevent us from going too far in our zeal for justice. And His remarks change our perspective entirely.
Not only should our lust for revenge be limited by the law it should be replaced by love and taking that approach helps us focus on being more like God. Jesus clearly made that point.
That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, 5:45.
Loving your enemies instead of hating them is the God-like thing to do and one purpose of the law was to help us learn this approach. It was designed primarily to inhibit our natural responses to sinful tendencies and offenses. It provides boundaries not step by step instructions. The law is a guidebook not a rule book.* Read more
Filed under: Divorce, Family, Old Testament
Yes it is, even for silly reasons.
Disclaimer: Divorce is not being encouraged here but the reality is, it does happen. Realism demands we allow for it and graciously work with those who experience it. A first step in accomplishing this is understanding what the Old Testament actually says on this topic.
If divorce was not allowed ever, under any circumstances, we would expect to find the Bible clearly stating this fact or at least indicating the rare conditions under which it is only occasionally allowed. What we find is quite different.
The Old Testament plainly says divorce is allowed and puts very few restraints on when and why this option may be exercised. In almost a casual manner, Deuteronomy 24:1 makes the following remarks…
If a man marries a woman and then it happens that he no longer likes her because he has found something wrong with her, he may give her divorce papers, put them in her hand, and send her off.
If there were any restrictions disallowing divorce they would surely have been mentioned here. Instead, we find nothing. Divorce is described as just a matter of procedure and the only condition – he no longer likes her because he has found something wrong with her – is extremely broad. It could mean anything from she’s a serial murderer to she’s overweight.
Marriage, Not Divorce, Regulated
The only regulation in the passage applies to marriage not divorce. The passage goes on to say, if wife “A” is married and divorced by husband “A” and then is later married and divorced by husband “B” she is not allowed to remarry husband “A.” Frivolous marriage is being disallowed not “senseless” divorce.
It is important to note that Moses instituted only the “Bill of Divorcement” not divorce. Divorce was widely practiced before Moses and could be quite barbaric. Remember that Abraham tried to get rid of Sara twice, albeit in a way that looked out for her material well being. In both cases he tried to unload her on another man, not the street, and both men were well off to say the least.
Women could be “thrown out” with no required procedure and no legal repercussions to the man. And since the culture – not God – allowed men to have multiple wives, he could marry a second woman while the first woman was still viewed as married. Not only would others not know the rejected woman was now available but she now had to fend for herself.
The divorce ruling was gender driven. It brought a little more fairness to a seriously abusive cultural trend particularly for the ladies. God was taking special measures in the early stages of social development to protect the fairer sex from the abuses of men.
Moses’ “Bill” offered official proof that the first marriage contract was aborted and she could now be married to another.
Both the “Bill” and the regulation disallowing the wife’s remarriage to husband “A” were designed to protect property rights and security issues, again for the wife. These laws had nothing to do with allowing or disallowing divorce or remarriage.
Divorce was a fact of life then and is still a fact of life today. Instead of hammering people who navigate this difficult experience with pontifications about the sanctity of marriage we need to graciously provide support.
That was Moses approach and he was led by God in the matter.
No Condemnation Attached
Also, if divorce was seriously damning, as some people suggest, we would certainly expect to find this clearly stated. Instead there’s not even a hint of condemnation to be found in this passage or anywhere else. Read more