Taking the Law and Prophets Seriously: Judgments
June 10, 2010 7 Comments
I am sick and tired of the Law and the Prophets being a joke. This past year I’ve seen several Orthodox priests/prelates openly say they do not accept the “God” as presented in the Old Testament, as well as not a few Roman Catholics. Textual liberalism and rejecting “that kind of God” often go hand in hand, or are at least kissing cousins. One need only look at the history of Luther’s “reformation” and the explosion of textual liberalism that followed a few hundred years later in German higher criticism to see where these views lead.
Higher criticism and modern rejections of Moses may not have the same motivations, but they arrive at the same endpoint – the rejection of “that kind of God.” By that, what is meant is the God who condones exterminations of cities, is providential within all historical events, and punishes (even if remedially) descendants based on the actions of fathers and forebears. The simple question that arises is this – how do these people expect anyone to take them seriously as proponents of a religion which comes from the Law and the Prophets? Seriously? I am supposed to accept that you have the truth, and you tell me all these instances are “allegory” or at least not historical. Anyone with basic logic and an elementary knowledge of the Bible need only think for about 5 minutes about how implausible this is. Were I a serious Jew, I would not accept such ridiculous claims, and justly so. You prelates have told me that the very Book you accept is a-historical in crucial events, when all along it’s been viewed as historical – even amongst the various Christian groups, prior to higher criticism. In fact, in places where the New Testament views incidents in the Law and Prophets as historical, I have been told they are not – and that the New Testament writers are in error. What arrogance.
I am always bitched at for “not being practical.” Well, ok, here we go – let’s be practical. Let me examine the stories I was told emulate in Sunday School as a young boy – arguably the most simplistic and practial stories imaginable, and let’s see if these religionists persuade me to be practical according to their conceptions.
Some have said, “Well, I’ll just say certain instances are not historical.” All of this just to accept that the “God” presented in the Law and Prophets is not the way He appears to be. Well, I have decided to collect a whole host of “problem texts” for our rationalizers. Is the lex talionis principle something Moses fabricated? Is the principle of punishment/chastisement for descendants something only relegated to the generation of the the Exodus, as Chrysostom tries to rationalize? No and no. No, no, no, no, and no. Since I just finished 1 Samuel and started in on 1 Chronicles, let’s look at quite a few “problem texts”:
1. Some of our “Orthodox” friends tell us “God never kills” or does what is “mean.” Well, I read as follows:
“6 “The LORD kills and makes alive;
He brings down to the grave and brings up.”
2. Recall Eli’s wicked sons? What did God desire to do in regards to them?
“2:25 If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them.”
“32 And you will see an enemy in My dwelling place, despite all the good which God does for Israel. And there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33 But any of your men whom I do not cut off from My altar shall consume your eyes and grieve your heart. And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age. 34 Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them.”
And concerning this incident, God says:
“3:13 For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.”
Moving on, we recall that in Exodus, the pagan king of the Amalekites killed the women and children stragglers of the Israelites, and God commands as following concerning them:
“15:2-3 Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
This is hundreds of years later.
[Side note: what's this? David calls a curse? 25:21 Now David had said, “Surely in vain I have protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belongs to him. And he has repaid me evil for good. 22 May God do so, and more also, to the enemies of David, if I leave one male of all who belong to him by morning light.” Now, maybe you think this was an "Old Testament reality." But didn't St. Paul call a curse on Alexander the Coppersmith? 2 Tim. 4:14 "Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works."]
3. David and Abigail called Nabal a jerk and asshole. God concurred, and killed him:
“25:37 So it was, in the morning, when the wine had gone from Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone. 38 Then it happened, after about ten days, that the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.”
4. God kills Saul and his sons for his sins:
“28:18 Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day. 19 Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.”
Samuel did right in hacking Agag (descendant of Amalek) to pieces.
5. God killed Saul for his consultation with the witch of Endor:
“1 Chron. 10:13 So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the LORD, because he did not keep the word of the LORD, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. 14 But he did not inquire of the LORD; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.”
Now, this is just a sampling, but I feel confident most Orthodox and many Roman Catholics would tell me this is not the kind of God they serve. Indeed.