Torah Prior to Sinai
Back in 2003 I compiled a list of Biblical law that could be found in Exodus 20 to the end of Deuteronomy, but existed prior to the codification of the Torah upon Mount Sinai. I did this because I've met many bible-believers who think that the law only came about in Exodus 20 with the 10 commandments. It's been 12 years since I made this list so I could probably add to it now, but here is the list as I made it back in 2003. I just ran across it again today.
1. Sabbath = Genesis 2: 2-3/ Ex. 16
2. Offerings of flock = Genesis 4: 4
3. Offerings of fruit = Genesis 4:3
4. Clean and Unclean = Gen. 7:2/8:20
5. Offerings of worship = Gen. 8:20
6. Building altars = Gen. 12:8
7. No eating blood = Gen. 9:4
8. Capitol punishment (murder) = Gen. 9:5-6
9. Parental authority = Gen. 18:19
10. Against adultery = Gen. 39:9/34:7
11. Priesthood = Gen. 14:18
12. Tithing = Gen. 14:20/28:22
13. Circumcision = Gen. 17:9-10
14. Oath Taking = Gen. 21:23
15. Birthright = Gen. 25:33
16. Anointing with oil = Gen. 28:18
17. Obligation of vows = Gen. 28:20
18. Idolatry = Gen. 31:32,35
19. Uncleanness = Gen. 31:35
20. Raising seed = Gen. 38:8
I Surrender All?
I grew up in a singing church. Sometimes we would sing for like 2 hours solid. I remember playing the bass guitar for the church as a teenager and my fingers getting so tired that they wouldn't work anymore. Those bass runs were killer.
As a child I just sang along with everything. I didn't pay much attention to what I was singing. The older I get, and the more I study Scripture, theology, christology, and all the other "ologies," I realize that some of the songs I have sang over the years are just bad. Real, real bad.
Not too long ago I heard a brother belt out this line, "I know Yahweh will make a way for me. If I live a holy life, shun the wrong and do the right." Man I used to love singing that song. But I'm gonna just be honest. I can't sing it anymore.
Yahweh makes ways for us we we live holy and do right? Um... if that song is accurate then none of us would be saved. We've all lived unholy lives. We've all shunned the right and did the wrong. The whole gospel message is that Yahweh has made a way for us WHO HAVE NOT DONE WHAT IS RIGHT. Of course I know there are people out there who actually believe they don't do wrong. They sing that tune with great gusto. I used to be one of them. Now, I've gotten to the point where I don't even know how else better to start a prayer than, "Father, have mercy upon me, a sinner."
Let me tell you about another song that I think is just a big, fat lie. It's an old one, and I'm sure this will upset some old saints in the faith, but I'm just keeping things real. It's called "I Surrender All." It starts out like this:
All to Jesus I surrender
The last time I sang that song I just thought in my mind, "No I don't. I should. I know I need to. I know that's what is demanded of me. But I don't." I put myself above my Savior all the time. I put my job above my Savior, my wife, my kids, my money; it often all comes before my Savior. There may be times when I do a bit better, but to sing "I Surrender All" at the top of my lungs acting like I mean what I am singing? Nope, not gonna lie.
The way I suggest we sing the song is "Christ surrendered all, Christ surrendered all." This way the song is absolutely true. Yeshua did surrender all to the Father. He humbled himself even to the point of death on the cross. I've failed the Father often. Yeshua never did. My faith rests in him and only him for my righteousness.
I wonder what other songs I'm still singing that aren't theologically accurate. I guess it's back to the drawing board.
References: Romans 5:6-11; Philippians 2:1-11
Sabbath is a Gift
When I read 1 John 5:3, I think of the Sabbath. That text tells me that His commandments are not a burden. I guess the reason I think about the Sabbath is because Sabbath means rest. To stop, an intermission, cease from work. What a gift that is.
Yeshua states this in his ministry in the form of "the Sabbath was made for man." I've heard that statement before by some in an attempt to abolish the 4th commandment. I can't for the life of me understand why someone would want to abolish a commandment that privileges us with rest, but go figure. In context, Yeshua meant that the Sabbath was made FOR man, in other words, to bless man. Man wasn't made to bless the Sabbath, the Sabbath was made to bless man.
The Sabbath can become a day in which you are scared silly to pick up your leg out of bed and put your foot on the floor. That is, if you treat it like a first-century Pharisee; if you view Yahweh as some kind of "big-thumbed-god" ready to squash you the instant you mess up in the least little manner. Yahweh is rather the merciful Mighty One, longsuffering, slow to anger, rich in love, and abundant in mercy. I took that last line from the Old Testament.
The Sabbath is a day to unwind, dedicated to Yahweh yes, but a day in which He gifts us with something we need: REST. We all work enough, some of us (including myself) too much. I'm thankful for His gift. I've been keeping a Sabbath now for 19 years. I don't ever want to stop. I love His rest.
References: Mark 2:27; Exodus 34:6-7; Exodus 20:8-11
Seeing Our Own Sin
Basically put, I've deceived others into thinking I'm something that I'm really not.
That's a dark hole to be captured in, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that this is a hole that many Christians are embedded in, but don't want to admit it. We would all rather talk about, make fun of, label, rebuke, and post Facebook statuses and Tweets of other people's sins.
Why? Because it makes us feel better about ourself.
Humility is not popular. We would rather hear, "Be a better you" or "You know, deep down inside, you're really a good person."
I'm tired of the lies.
It's still a true statement that he that exalts himself will be brought low, but he that humbles himself will be exalted.
I'm a pastor. I didn't walk into a room and sign up for this job, it just kinda follows me like a scent or something. So sure, this means I have the responsibility to teach the whole council of Scripture, including teaching against sin. It's just that I'm not naive. I know I deal with sin in my own life. I don't like it, I hate it in fact, but I have struggles with sin of my own.
It's taken me a while, but I now see that a key in pastoring isn't to act like you're the holiest man in the church. We feel the need to pretend to be holy when we want people to look to us rather than focus on Christ. That's just the truth. Pride takes over in so many situations.
Yeshua the Messiah is your hope. I'm not. Your pastor isn't. Your pastor is a sinner. If that surprises you, you've probably been fed the same crock of lies I was. In church nonetheless.
It is freeing to admit and confess your sins and struggles. Holding them in and pretending they don't exist will kill you. It will eat you up slowly.
Daily confession and repentance is in order.
I'm thinking we should help one another. This starts by recognizing that you, fellow saint, fellow believer in Messiah, have struggles just like your neighbor. They may be in different areas, but they are there. When you talk and deal with others, quit acting like you've "got the victory" and start being real. Recognize the sin in your own life that you battle. Work on it all together.
Point people to Yeshua, the perfect lamb. Stop trying to get people to stare at you.
References: Luke 5:8; 6:37; 7:6-7; 18:9-14
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.