A Courteous Contrararian

Religion of Peace Part 3

Written By: Jon Jaroszewski - Apr• 28•15

In the first two parts, I hypothesized that God deals with people sympathetically. He knows how we think and feel and act, and caters his actions to our capabilities. And he is always working to make us capable of more. This resulted in the historical and ethical incongruity we know as the slaughter of the Amalekites.

If this is true, if God has faithfully and honestly given us a record of the history of his interactions with humanity, and if the record shows us maturing ever so slowly and changing for the better ever so slightly, we should applaud his methods even if we don’t understand them. And cut God a little slack. Don’t you think all those Amalekite children are in Heaven, even if the donkeys are not?

But we also need to keep chronology and our slow and painful ascent in mind as we look at biblical context. We need to ask, “Is this still relevant to us today and is it relevant in the same way?”

The question seems radical but it shouldn’t. We already ask the same question on a limited basis and have for two thousand years. These are questions Jesus taught us.

He didn’t use those exact words, but I’ll give you one of the many, many verses or principles he questioned. We’ve already referenced Jesus’ quote, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Ultimately, he was discussing this passage.

While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” [Num 15:32-35 NIV]. It was an Amalekite-type judgment on a more limited scale.

Because that’s what the people needed at that particular moment. It was a spectacular mnemonic device to remind the people that they had Saturdays off. God said the Sabbath was holy because┬áhe is holy, and he is, but that’s not the reason for the stoning. If the Sabbath was truly made for man, as Jesus said, then God was actually sacrificing one life for the greater good of all subsequent generations, just like he always does. (You know I’m talking about Jesus, right?) And who knows, maybe that wood gatherer is in Heaven, too.

Jesus by his teaching about the Sabbath abrogated, or repealed, the OT law, or at least the penalties attached. An interesting comparison between Christianity and Islam begins at this point in the conversation. Abrogation occurs in both holy books. But in the Koran, more violent directives for the most part repeal more peaceful commands, while with the Bible the opposite is true.

Mohammed started as a peace and love guy but as he garnered more power he became much less peaceful and loving. God started with people where they were and has marked out a trajectory in which peace and love is part of the ultimate goal. Agape will someday be commonplace and even primary.

Islam was a perfect fit for the world when Mohammed or the angel invented it but its leaders, specifically through the mechanism of abrogation, have toiled to keep it a seventh century institution. And now the leaders of western Christianity are in danger of doing the same. As we become more anachronistic, our influence decreases.

That is how it should be. If God works to make us better and we choose or are taught to stay the same, it shouldn’t be a wonder that we are a people in decline. It is rarely effective over the long term to work at cross-purposes to God. He prepares us to work at Cross purposes.

If God treats us differently than he once did, evidence of it should be all over the Bible. It is. We’ll look for it next time.

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