Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Brotherly Love in the New Covenant

Okay, so my theology has become much more family oriented (as seen in my posts on baptizing children). Part of what allowed me to baptize our children was a new understanding on the effectual nature of the New Covenant. As I see it, the work that Jesus has done in conquering sin and providing his Holy Spirit is causing families to be reunited in Christ Jesus. I’ve mentioned in other posts how I see the work of Jesus transforming the relationship husbands and wives and the relationship between fathers and sons, but today I want to point out how it transforms the relationships between brothers.

First I want to point out some of the broken relationships between brothers as mentioned in the Old Testament.

1) Cain and Abel

The first brotherly relationship in the world is destroyed by envy and murder. Not off to a good start.

2) Hem, Japheth and Ham

Because of Ham’s sin in mocking his father Noah before his brothers, Ham is cursed with serving his brothers.

3) Isaac and Ishmael (Genesis 21)

4) Jacob and Esau (Genesis 27)

5) Joseph/Benjamin and their other ten bothers

Attempted murder, kidnapping, and betrayal (Genesis 37)

7) Onan and Er

When Er died, Onan slept with Er’s wife but would not impregnate her (Genesis 38)

8) Moses, Aaron and Miriam

Sibling rivalry got so bad God had to punish Miriam with leprosy (Numbers 12)

9) The Levites against their brothers:
Exodus 32:27-29 27 And he said to them, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel, 'Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.'" 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. 29 And Moses said, "Today you have been ordained for the service of the LORD, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day."

10) David and his brothers

While not as great as with the other pairs shown, the animosity was still their.

11) Absalom, Tamar and Amnon

Rape, incest, abandonment and murder

12) Solomon and Adonijah

The fight for the crown

13) Rehoboam and Jeroboam

The fight for the crown and the division of Judah and Israel

14) Charging interest to brothers (Nehemiah 5)

Besides Joseph and Benjamin, it seems the only brothers we see united are those like Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas (in great wickedness), Samuel’s sons Joel and Abijah (who took bribes and perverted justice), etc. There is a foretaste of the good to come in Ezra and Nehemiah, where strong brothers take up the restoration of Jerusalem after the exile.

But in the New Testament, we see a different pattern. Jesus comes in and restores the relationship between brothers. So we see that he actually chooses several brothers to be among his 12 disciples.

1) Simon Peter and his brother Andrew

2) James and John the sons of Zebedee

3) See also Jude the brother of James (Jude 1:1)

Even though things appear to have started out rough between Jesus and his brothers, obviously they were restored as James, the brother of Jesus, took up the ministry after Jesus ascension. So in the resurrection power of Jesus, we have the restoration of brotherly love.

In fact, this is why John the son of Zebedee and the brother of James can say:

1 John 2:9-11 9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

And again:

1 John 3:10-17 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down
his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?

And again:

1 John 4:20-21 20 If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Did you hear him? If you hate your brother you can not claim to be a believer. Hating a brother is what the hard-hearted Old Covenant men were cursed with. Brother hate conflicts with the very nature of what in means to be in the New Covenant.

Above: My brother Jon fills in his flight log after taking me up over Chicago. Jon showed me his love by allowing me to take the controls and fly the plane. I love you man!

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