Thursday, January 17, 2008

Where Is the Joy? Part Three

As you can see from my last post, I don’t have a high view of the patriarchy found in the Old Testament. In fact, I don’t have a high view of life in general in the OT. If I’m reading my Bible right, the OT was written partly to demonstrate just how desperate the condition of man really is.

It was into this broken world that God sent his Son with the purpose of restoring all things. The Law of Moses had proved to be powerless in the face of sin. It could not restore, only restrain, and it proved to be pretty weak at that as well. However, what Jesus accomplished on the cross and in his resurrection brought about a power that not only overcomes sin, but is also bringing about the long desired restoration.

We often find in Jesus’ teaching a more acute (and accurate) interpretation of the Law of Moses. Because the Jews were so hardhearted, they misused the Law to justify their sinfulness. This is especially so as it relates to how they treated their wives and daughters. Jesus confronts this twisting of the Law and the resulting oppression head-on in the striking passage that follows.
2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, [1] 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10, ESV)

There are several things that are striking in this passage. First, the Jews wanted to justify their horrendous treatment of their wives. But Jesus points out that they are perverting the Law of Moses by doing so. Second, Jesus indicates that the Law was not only written to restrain Israel’s sin, but the Law itself was restrained by Israel’s sin. Sin had so much power over Israel that even the Law was stretched to the breaking point because of Israel’s hardness of hard. Finally, and most telling for my posts on the Epistles, notice that Jesus’ method of argument mirrors the method that Peter and Paul use, namely, by arguing from the account of Creation. My main reason for bring this text to bear on the issue of patriarchy in Jesus’ teaching is to show that much of Jesus’ teaching was focused on showing Israel their desperate need of a Savior.

There is another critical passage (John 15) that I need to bring up as it relates to Jesus’ teaching concerning patriarchy and how that relates to both the Old Testament and the Epistles of Peter and Paul and to the joy to be found in living out a godly patriarchy. But as this is already getting long, I’ll have to follow up with that in a day or so.


Julie said...

Hi Chris,
I'm so glad you are writing on this subject. I like what you said in your first paragraph about the O.T. And like M.A. may I bring up another question that I hope you might address in later posts?
After all my yrs. of Bible Study and thinking my theology was so locked up and airtight I am having to rethink some issues about the old covenant of the O.T. vs. the new covenant (N.T.) My problem has come from the fact that I have always known God does not change and I never agreed that the God of the O.T. was "the God of anger" and the God of the N.T. was the "God of love". When I study the O.T. I amazed at His love and patience with the constant back-sliding of the Israelites and the forgiveness shown to murderers such as Moses and David, etc. But now I am realizing that perhaps I need to rethink the differences and implications and how this new covenant affects our theology practically. Could it be way more pervasive and cataclysmic than I thought? I am questioning (and hope you will write on this issue at a future date) how God does deal with us differently now under the new covenant. This passage blew me away the other day, "But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another...It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers... for I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more." Heb.8:6-12 Is it talking about more than just the old sacrificial system being replaced by Jesus' once and for all sacrifice? I was struck with the words "Better promises" and the old covenant being "wrong". I am beginning to wonder if there are universal effects (even possibly felt by all of creation?) that most of us are unaware of. Is this so much bigger than I ever dreamed? Perhaps God does deal with us differently now not because He has changed but we have changed because of this covenant of grace? This seems to be off the subject but maybe not so far off because if He does deal with us differently then the way we deal with others should be likewise affected and different from in the O.T. I would love to hear your thoughts on this at some point in the future.
To try to clarify my original question/confusion:
The blessings vs. curses in the O.T. are ingrained in the fiber of my being and I considered them to give me a healthy fear of being disobedient. But have I been thinking all wrong? I realize there will always be consequences of our sin - but that was the same for people under the old covenant and He still disciplines those he loves (for our own good).
Keep thinking! Love, Aunt Julie

Julie said...

forget the part about effects being felt by "all creation" - I was getting carried away. I don't think that will happen until He comes again and sets things straight.

Christopher said...

Hey Julie,

Give me a few days to ponder. It's hard to get to all these things when work and family press so hard. We certainly are not in heaven yet.