What We Don’t See With Cultural Morality
I used to talk a lot of junk and carry a pretty big Bible. It was a parallel Bible incorporating the KJV, Amplified, NAS, and NIV into one thick 3,000 plus page Bible. I stopped using mine because the print was so small, or I was getting so old I couldn’t see the print (toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe); that plus I had used it so much the pages were falling out. After getting reading glasses I began using my wife’s parallel Bible for my morning study time. As I was reading through 2 Corinthians chapter 5 I can came across some notes she had written in her Bible. They were likely 7 to 10 years old but they speak volumes about what we are seeing in the world today. I have reprinted them here, with my insights after each one. However, they are likely from a Bible study or a sermon she heard preached somewhere so I cannot take credit for them. The title she had over the notes: Dangers of Cultural Morality…
1. Not our commission-we have not been mandated by God. The we being Christ followers and although true some Christ followers have embraced cultural morality more than the Gospel.
2. Wastes precious mounts of resources – is a distraction by the enemy, Eph 5:16. If we are Christ followers then we should devote all resources (time, talent, & treasures) to doing what Christ has called us to do: share & show the love of Christ, invite people to be recipients of Christ’s love.
3. If you don’t change the heart you will redirect the sin. Only God can change a person’s heart. Anything else is merely a bandaid on an eternal wound: sin.
4. Fails to understand the kingdom of God, John 18:36. Just as Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, without the Spirit of God one cannot understand the things of God. Cultural morality moves people away from understanding God’s overwhelming love for humanity.
Archive for the Old Testament Category
What We Don’t See With Cultural Morality
Many theologians and atheists and people in general argue over which animals God is referencing in Job chapter 40 (the answer to which I’ll provide shortly #imho). By focusing on the animals we miss the greater point that God is making. God highlights the characteristics of a land and then a sea animal. His point to Job is if you cannot understand or grasp the concept of why these creatures were created, if you cannot meet their varying needs, if you cannot see their role in the universe then how can you begin to question God and His purpose? If Job cannot grasp what God is doing with and for these animals how could Job get and grasp what God is doing with and for humanity.
We know God has just demonstrated what faith in God can do; not just to Job but also to satan (and by extension to us). That same faith is what saved the Old Testament saints as they looked forward to the Cross and the New Testament saints and us as we look back to it. As to the animals God is referencing? They could easily be ones no longer in existence in our day. But the main point is they are identified as ones God created; ones He knows and created for His purpose. The same is true of you and me. God created us to know Him and more so than the animals to be recipients of His amazing love. Like Job, we just need to put our faith and trust in God even in the midst of the trials and tribulations of this world.
I am literally dentisted-out. Over the past few months I’ve had multiple dental exams, measurements, procedures, not to mention a dental surgery early last year. It is my own fault for not seeing a dentist for the last 5 or 6 years. At my last few visits I was told two different things by two dentists. One said your teeth are fine but your gums need more checkups and more flossing. This was pretty consistent with what they had been telling me all along. Another dentist recommended surgery and a possible bone graft. How could they both look at the same thing and recommend two different strategies?
People ask the same thing about the revelation of God to humanity. If God exists why are there so many different religions? Even within Christianity why are there so many different denominations? The religion question I can address in a different (and much longer) post. As to the denominations it is the same thing that happened with the dentist. We all see the same thing but interpret what we see through our own experiences. We respond to what we see based on how we interpret it. Neither dentist was wrong but each suggested a different approach. And whilst I cannot speak for every denomination many read the same Word of God and experience His revelation of Himself to humanity and respond to that revelation and choose different ways to reverence and worship Him based on their understanding and life experiences. The most important thing is that they do recognize His revelation and they do respond.
I find it amazing how many people try to discount the Old Testament even though it is the foundation for our faith in the New Testament. The most alarming thing is when people try to discount the Law that God revealed to the Israelites.
In the book of Exodus from chapter 20 on God is revealing Himself to the people of Israel who have been living in a land devoted to worship of idols and living there as slaves. God begins to teach former slaves how to interact with Him, with each other, and with foreigners who don’t know Him or them. To accomplish this God introduces the Law. In the same way we educate our children today, God begins educating the Israelites. God reveals several aspects of the law:
– The Ceremonial portions of the Law: These are the feasts and celebrations that point to Jesus Christ and are now fulfilled in Him. They are all about worshipping God and living in His presence. These laws are eternal, not bound by time. Jesus did not do away with these laws, He fulfilled them.
-The Moral portions of the Law are grounded in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. They reveal the nature and will of God for His people and all of humanity. They stress how we interact with each other (those of similar belief), others, and even our enemies. These laws are the epitome of what is good and right and still apply today and exist for all time. For example, since the beginning of time and until the end of time murder will always be considered wrong.
– The Civil/Cultural portions of the Law were instructions on how to live with each other, with others, and with God in that particular day. Although some were based on solid morals and can be applied today others were only applicable for that particular time and season (with the introduction of indoor plumbing it is no longer required to build latrines away from where one lives…still a great idea for camping though). The consequences for failing to fulfill these portions of the law were also for a particular time and season. To put this in perspective think of keeping a child safe. You tell your child to look both ways before crossing the street. If you see them dart out into the street and you don’t see them look both ways you may reprimand or punish them. If this occurs with your teenager or young adult, although the same desire to keep them safe applies, you may be less likely to reprimand or punish them as you might deem them to be more aware of their surroundings.
One of the best examples of this is seen in the latter part of Exodus 23: 19. Many people use this verse to claim how irrelevant or invalid the Old Testament is to the Church today. However, God has a very valid reason for advising the people of Israel not to cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. The Egyptians did this and then used the broth to sprinkle on their gardens and fields as a magic potion they hoped would bring a good harvest. However, most of chapter 23 is God telling the people of Israel that He would provide a bountiful harvest for them. So although God is saying don’t cook a goat in its mothers milk, He is telling the Isralites then and us today, don’t depend upon false tricks or magic for your resources. He is able to provide all we need. Although the civil law does not apply today, the moral principle upon which it is based, God is able to provide for His people, is still applicable today.
As you read through the Old Testament don’t just write off things that don’t seem to make sense in today’s culture. Pull out a commentary (or bring up the app) and read the why and how of each thing. Also ask your pastor about it or even start a Bible study around a list of questions you and others have. God’s desire is not to confuse or mislead us, but to provide substantial written documentation that reveals His timeless love for us.