“Thou Shalt Not” ~ don’t be misled

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I’ve moved to the northeast coast of Florida and am starting a new life. So, when browsing in the local discount Christian book store (there are many of them in north Florida), I purchased a new Bible, a detective story by an author I’d never heard of before (a review is coming), and another silver ring (inscribed with, Phil 4:13). As if I don’t wear enough silver rings.

My old Bible was the Comparative Study Bible with four translations (KJV, NASB, AMP, NIV). I loved that Bible, marked it up, and eventually had to tape it to keep the hard cover binding from falling off. So, it was definitely time for a new Bible. I looked at four translation study Bibles, but like the one I had, they were all very heavy which made it cumbersome taking them to church or growth groups or whatever. I finally decided to get a Parallel Bible with NASB and Amplified translations and I love it.

So, I’m reading through it and have gotten up to Leviticus, the book of laws that seems to go on and on. I joked with God the other day, “Didn’t you know this is my favorite book of the Bible?” Yes, I joke with God. I talk to Him, share with Him, and sometimes cry to Him.

Here I am reading page after page of Leviticus and I can’t wait to get through with it. Yes, I know there are Bible scholars who relish a good day delving into Leviticus, but I’m not one of them.

When I came to Leviticus 20, which the NASB heads, “On Human Sacrifice and Immoralities” I well knew the Old Testament prohibited the sacrifice of Israelite babies and children, which was common among the natives in Canaan at that time. Many “child jar cemeteries” were found near ancient Canaanite altars.

Then I got to the part about who’s nakedness thou shalt not uncover, translated into modern speak, that means who you shall  not marry and/or have sexual relations with. This sets out what have become modern laws of incest, and beyond those laws to what are still mores, or generally held morality. So, the Lord clearly states a man shall not uncover the nakedness of his mother, his sister, or any of his father’s wives. In those days a man cold have as many wives as he could afford. They each had their own tent and households which each wife ran and of course the husband had to pay for.

The text goes on to say a man shall not lay with his father’s wife’s mother. That a man shall not take two sisters as wives, so the sisters will not become rivals…and on and on. As I read all of this, I had the profound realization much of this has become the underpinning of civilized society wherever Judaeo-Christian teaching became the norm. Who wouldda thunk the Lord would stop me cold in the middle of Leviticus, Leviticus to give me this moment of deep discernment. These writings were also the very beginning of the notion of the protection of women and children within a society. The modern feminist cries out, “This is not nearly enough.” Remember this was written between 1440 and 1400 BC and was revolutionary then.

In Exodus, God continually calls the Israelites an obstinate people who turn from His ways at a drop of the hat and always thereby get themselves into some sort of trouble. He calls the pagan practices (child sacrifice, selling ones daughters into sexual slavery as temple prostitutes, and all types of fornication) as being evil. It seems today, society is all too ready to push aside rules that have stabilized society for generations in favor of doing whatever they please. Let the good times roll…

Am I advocating strict biblical law for this modern age. No, I believe the church is now under “grace” not under “the law”. I’m suggesting a return to the spirit of the law, as taught by Jesus. We will and are finding that the loosening of many of these age-old rules has and will put women and children at risk, not to mention the elderly as well. Ultimately, it puts all of society at risk.

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GRACE, God’s Unmerited Favor by Charles Spurgeon ~ a review

Grace, God's Unmerited FavorI found myself without Wi-Fi or cable in a tiny house in Florida for two and a half weeks. Knowing I would be technologically starved (except for outings to McDonald’s or Wendy’s for free Wi-Fi), I decided to read several works I’d put off for years. GRACE, GOD’S UNMERITED FAVOR by Charles Spurgeon was one of them. To be honest, this work had always been a bit intimidating. After all, the author was a pastoral, evangelical, and theological giant of his era.

Having made the commitment to open the book, I was struck by the simplicity of Spurgeon’s writing. In Chapter 1, ‘The Covenant of Grace’, he writes:

This is all of it. Do you believe in Christ? Then God will work in you “to will and do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). God will conquer your sin; God will sanctify you; God will save you: God will keep you: God will bring you to Himself. Rest in this covenant. Then moved by intense gratitude, go forward to serve your Lord with all your heart and soul and strength.

What could be plainer than this? What could be simpler language? And yet, I had been intimidated by the name Spurgeon for years and had put off opening the book.

He writes with eloquence. The passage ‘From Eternity Past’ is stunning. He talks about the time before the earth and stars, “that time before all time — when God dwelt alone.”

In this thin volume Spurgeon says he’s striving to give us the “natural and grammatical teaching” of Bible verses as they relate to the Covenant of Grace..

To me it was astonishing to find the words below because I’ve long believed freedom and liberty have their origin in the Bible. Here Spurgeon declares they are part of the Covenant of Grace.

There is no doctrine like it for putting a backbone into a man and making him feel that he is something better than to be trodden down like straw for the dunghill beneath a despot’s heel.

Spurgeon further points out it’s not any old grace. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter specifically stated, “We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.”

I can’t find fault with Spurgeon’s teaching on God’s rod of chastisement, though modern ‘grace teachers’ would certainly use contemporary language and nuance it in a much different manner. The doctrine of grace as presented by the author is not one of the license, which some critics fear comes with this teaching. Far from it. It is one whereby the believer’s heart cries out for a deeper relationship with a Holy God.