Abraham and the Sanctity of Marriage; Genesis 12

Many of us know or have heard the stories of Abraham and Sarah coming to a new town, and Abraham having Sarah say that she is his sister, not his wife.  And there is a plethora of good teaching around these incidences.  However, I’d like to point something out that is coming from a different perspective, and has a rather interesting and deep commentary about our cultures today.

Abraham has Sarah say that she is his sister, not his wife.  Why?  Because he doesn’t want the people to kill him and then take Sarah to themselves.

Why would would they kill Abraham if Sarah were his wife?  Why was he safe if she were his sister?

Apparently, the ancient world held marriage so sacred that they wouldn’t even dream of taking another man’s wife!  [Now before you start thinking that this shows very high morals on the part of the ancients, remember that, though they wouldn’t break the sanctity of marriage, they apparently had no qualms about killing the husband and then taking the now unmarried woman!]

Most (or all) of the western cultures today hold marriage in such a low regard that it is considered a ‘normal’ part of life to break the sanctity of marriage.  Doing so is even considered entertainment!  The whole entertainment industry (movies and such) treats marriage with low regard and treats adultery as something good – and Christians don’t think twice about watching such stuff!  This should not be!

I had a good friend of mine point out to me that the story about Abraham and Sarah showed that holding up a marriage was (is) a cultural responsibility It takes more then just the husband and wife to keep a marriage going.  Ancient civilizations apparently knew and practiced this.  Well, to some extent.

Today, though we may hear sermons and have seminars about the importance of marriage, it is a sad fact that the culture supports the opposite.  Just look at how many (the majority) movies disregard the preciousness of marriage.  And when was the last time you heard a preacher call the people to quit watching such tripe; such stuff that is displeasing to Yehovah (the LORD)?

Why has watching sinful behavior become an acceptable form of entertainment?

Okay, so I’ll quit ranting.  In closing consider this:

“…hold fast to what is good.  Abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 (ESV)

It would be good if we (myself included) would take these words to heart, even to including the entertainment we watch.

Shalom!  – Yosef

Genesis 27 & 29: What’s in a Word? What’s in a Name?

In Genesis 27 we find Jacob getting the blessing from his father Isaac that was actually meant for Esau.  That blessing includes the words,

May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine.  Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you.  Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.  Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you.   Genesis 27: 28-29 (ESV)

As shown a bit later Isaac expected these words to bring physical fruition.  He treated the words more then merely words, but as physical things being given.

How do we think of words that we say?  The point is that words are very important.  Blessings and cursing have physical effects, so our speech should be constrained to that which builds up!  Especially in the family!

I read a comment from a wise man some time ago (and if I remember his name I’ll credit the quote to him).  It is this.

“Every negative comment we make is a prayer to the devil!”

That’s something to think about!

Then we move on to Genesis 29 and we see Jacob marrying Leah and Rachel.  Between the two of them (well, those two and their handmaids) 12 sons are born.  I’ve often wondered what are the reasons that God chose Judah’s lineage for bearing the messiah as Judah is not the first born of Jacob.  There is a hint in the story.

Leah conceives and has children long before Rachel has any, but the story tells that Jacob loved Rachel much more then Leah.  So, as Leah is having children, the first three sons’ names reflect her attitude: one of self pity.  Then comes along Judah.  Leah then says,

“This time I will praise Yehovah (the LORD).”  Therefore she called his name Judah.  Genesis 29:35 (ESV)

The name ‘Judah’ is connected to the word (in Hebrew) for ‘praise’.

Leah got her eyes off herself and decided to focus on God!  The fruit of that decision is the lineage of Judah, though which comes messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus).

When we get our eyes off ourselves and on to God, He can then do great things through us!

You may or may not have noticed that the last few weeks I wasn’t posting anything.  It took me some time to get my eyes off my self and my circumstances and back on to our Father.  There is so much more peace in life when one’s eyes are on Yehovah!

Shalom!   – Yosef

 

How many pigs were on Noah’s ark? Genesis 6 – 8

So how many pigs were there?  If you said “two”, then you were….  right!  There were two.  One male.  One female.  Now to the next question.

How many sheep were on the ark?  There were two of every animal, right?  Wrong.

Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate…” Genesis 7:2 (ESV)

Okay, ignoring that there is a bit of uncertainty in the Hebrew as to whether the number is 7 pairs or 7 total, the point is that there was a category of animal known as ‘clean’!  Long before Yehovah (the LORD) gave the ‘Law’ through Moses, there was a distinction between ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ animals.  And, it seems, that Noah knew the distinction even before this as God does not need to explain it to him (in my opinion).

You may say, “So what?  Just a bit further on God says, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.” Genesis 9:3 (ESV).  Doesn’t this show that we can eat anything?”  Many people take it to mean just that, but I wonder.

First off, God also said that “As I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” Genesis 9:3 (ESV)  And yet there are many poisonous plants that should not be eaten (or not eaten raw).  There has always been exceptions to what can be eaten.  In the garden of Eden, the exception was the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Today, just about any animal can be eaten (and are eaten).   But does that mean that we, as followers of Yehovah (the LORD) through Yeshua (Jesus), are to eat anything?

To me, the issue between clean and unclean animals is just another test.  Will we, or will we not, follow what God wants?   Will we (well, Adam and Eve) or will we not eat from the forbidden tree (in the garden of Eden) even though it is good to eat?  The question is the same today, will we or will we not eat only those things God has called clean?

So, instead of just accepting the doctrine that says ‘Christians can eat whatever they want; Jesus nullified the dietary laws,’ check it out for yourself.  If you have questions, send them in (see the ‘questions‘ page) and I (or a guest author) will address them soon.

To me, following God’s dietary law is an opportunity to honor Him everyday, and serve Him with all parts of my body.

Shalom!   – Yosef

The ‘Questions‘ page is new.  Check it out!

 

Capital Punishment: Deuteronomy 19 & Yeshua (Jesus) and the Adulteress

God is clear.  Capital punishment is to be used for certain offenses.  This is a simple fact from the Bible.  There are, however, a few things to remember to keep this in perspective.

Capital punishment was only used when there were at least two credible witnesses.

Capital punishment was only to be meted out by the leaders.  No one was to ‘take the law into their own hands.’

The witnesses were often required to be the ones to throw the first stones.

According to Jewish history, capital punishment was rarely actually used.  I realize that many think this is not so as we see talk of stoning often in the “new testament.”  That was actually quite rare, and having a crowd rise up and try to stone someone was actually against the law.   Keep that in mind when reading about Yeshua (Jesus) and the times a crowd wanted to kill him.

Speaking of Yeshua, the incident where the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery to him and asked, “…in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.  So what do you say?” John 8:1-11;  (ESV).  Most of us know Yeshua’s reply of, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  John 8:7 (ESV).  At first glance it seems that Yeshua is saying that capital punishment isn’t the right way to go.  But is he?

First, did you note that only the woman was brought before Yeshua?  If she was ‘caught in the act’ as the passage states, where was the man?  The law states that both should be stoned (see Deuteronomy 20:10).  An interesting trap was being set for Yeshua.  If he answered, “then stone her”, he wouldn’t be following the law, so the Pharisees would accuse him thus.  If he answered “don’t stone her,” they could also accuse him of not following the law.  He could of also called them out in regards to the guilty man and the lack of trial, but instead he went to the core of the issue.

He called them out on their misuse of God’s law!  He attacked their legalism, and what better attack then to point out that there is no way to be good enough in a legalistic framework.

A sure sign of legalism is the misuse of the Law of God for your own benefit, or for control and putting others down.

Yeshua was highlighting grace over legalism, not commenting on capital punishment nor on the Law itself.

As a last comment on capital punishment, I find it interesting to read about those condemned who have been waiting for some time.  Many ask for the sentence to be carried out!  Why?  Because the jail system, keeping them locked up for years, is a cruel method of punishment in my opinion.  It can destroy a person’s mind and their dignity as a human.

God’s way called for swift carrying out of the punishment, leaving no time for the society to treat the criminal as an animal or for society as a whole to start relegating even those accused of crimes as monsters.

Personally, I’d rather we do things God’s way and retain the value and dignity of human life.  Any human life.  What do you think?

Shalom,

  • Yosef

 

Misunderstood Tithing – Let’s Have a Party! Deuteronomy 14

Tithing.  An oft talked about topic.  An extensive topic.  So much so that many preachers won’t talk about it, and even more people don’t want to hear any more about it.  It’s funny that most of the “Old Testament” law is ignored (as either having been done away with or ‘fulfilled’), but tithing receives a huge amount of attention.  So I ask, is tithing being done properly (Biblically)?

Well, yes and no.  God does want us to give.  But give to what and for what purpose?

“…you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.”  (ESV) Deut. 14:23

“And if the way is too long for you [the way to Jerusalem where the tithe was to be given], so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, … , then you shall turn it into money and … go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire – oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves.  And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.  And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns…”  (ESV) Deut. 14:24-27

“…you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce … And the Levite, …, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.” (ESV) Deut. 14:28-29.

There is more within those verses then just what I quoted, but I want to point out a couple interesting facts about the tithe.

First, part of it was to be used on one’s own little party.  And apologies to the teetotalers out there, but wine and strong drink were allowed!  (Note: I personally don’t drink for personal reasons, but using scripture to claim that one shouldn’t drink isn’t treating scripture correctly.)  Yep, a party before the LORD!

Granted that the ‘party’ was to take place at the “place of God’s choosing,” which became the Temple, but I still find it interesting that one’s own family was to share in the tithe.

Next, note the two reasons for tithing given in these passages: “that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always,” and, “that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”  To fear Him always and to enable blessing.  Two great reasons.

I also find it interesting that the tithe is not only for the Levites (for Christianity, this would probably be understood as pastors, priests, and teachers of ‘religion’), but also for those truly in need of sustenance – the foreigners, widows, orphans, and such!.

There is much more about tithing in scripture.  This post, however, is just to show that there is more to tithing then one learns in Sunday school (presumably).  It also shows a couple very good reasons to tithe.  And lastly, it shows that following God’s commands can be fun – even a party!  A party rejoicing for all that YHVH (the LORD) has given us!  So remember that the next time you are tithing.

Perhaps one of the reasons God asks us to ‘party’ before Him is in memory of one, in my opinion, of the oddest occurrences in scripture.  Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and 70 of the elders went up to Mount Sinai (nearby), and “they beheld God, and ate and drank.” (ESV) Exodus 24:9-11.  They saw God, heard the thundering and saw the lightnings, and what did they then do?  Ate and drank!  To me, that seems an odd response to an astounding event.  So, perhaps, we are to remember that, and the giving of the Law, when partying at the Temple with some of the tithe money.

Shalom!

– Yosef