Incompatible with Democracy

The following systems, ideas, & ideologies are incompatible with Democracy:

  • Freedom
  • Human rights
  • Libertarianism
  • Rule of Law
  • Conservatism
  • Republicanism
  • Free market
  • Dignity
  • Polite society
  • Traditionalism
  • Right to life
  • Etc., etc., etc.

7^4 + 4 = Watch, Wait, and Obey

Numbers 9:17-23 is an odd text. It repeats the same information over and over and over, just shuffling the words a bit each time. Reading it is almost as bad as reading a list of begats, but even more baffling. However, if you break the passage down a bit, some interesting patterns emerge.

There are four sets of statements that are each made seven times.

The cloud remained over the Tabernacle
...the cloud settled...the cloud remained...the cloud remained...the cloud was...the cloud remained...the cloud continued...the cloud remained...
The people set out
...the people set out...the people set out...they set out...they set out...they set out...they set out...the people set out...
The people remained in camp
...the people camped...the people camped...the people remained...Israel did not set out...they remained in camp...Israel remained in camp...the people camped...
At the command of YHVH the command of the command of YHVH...according to the command of YHVH...according to the command of the command of the command of the command of YHVH

And four times, it says that the cloud lifted.
...when the cloud lifted...when the cloud lifted...when the cloud lifted...when the cloud lifted...

What is the point of all this repetition? I'm sure that there are other patterns in this text, especially if I were able to read and understand the original Hebrew, but one possible message is this: When God tells you to go, go. When God tells you to stay, stay. However long he tarries, be content with where God has put you. However briefly he keeps you in a particular place, be content with the impact you were able to have in that short time. The important thing is to keep your eye on God and to obey him in whatever he says.

If you are living every day in obedience to God, his presence remains with you. God can't live in a defiled and disobedient heart, but if your heart is right--even if you slip now and then as we all do--God will be right there in the center of your life's camp, no matter where that is.

If you are watching for his signs, listening for his voice, studying the words of Moses (see verse 23), then you will be ready to move when the cloud lifts and you will recognize the Messiah and be ready to lift him up before all the world.

Psalm 107 and the Grand Finale

A reader pointed out to me that Psalm 107 contains this really neat parallelism:

The pattern established in four parallelisms (v1-7, v8-14, v15-20, v21-30) is

A - Thank God for all the good things he does.
B - Ungrateful people get into trouble, but...
C - If they humble themselves and repent
D - God delivers them from trouble and brings them to a better place.

In the conclusion, the Psalmist changes it around a little:

v31-32 - Thank God for all the good things he does.
v33-34 - God can turn good things bad.
v35-38 - God can turn bad things good.
v39 - When bad things happen to good people
v40-41 - God turns it around so that all things work to good for those who believe in him.
v42 - Righteous people see this and give thanks to God in all circumstances. Wicked people ought to just keep silence lest things get even worse for them.
v43 - The wise will understand without having to see it in action and will meditate on the enduring love of God.

The same elements are present in the conclusion as in the preceding parallelism, except for one: The ungrateful people who get themselves into trouble. They are there by implication (the princes in v40 and the wicked in v42), but their doubt and foolishness isn't described explicitly.

Maybe the Psalmist's point in leaving that out of the final stanza is that eventually the pattern of sin and restoration comes to an end. The righteous will be permanently elevated and the wicked will come to a permanent end.

A Caution against Getting Carried Away by Eschatological Hysteria

The return of many Jews to the land & the formation of the State of Israel might, or might not, be the beginning of the fulfillment of certain prophecies. A word of caution, though: Pay attention to these events, but don't be dogmatic about any particular interpretation of prophecy.

If the State of Israel is destroyed & the Jews scattered again, it won't mean that God's promises aren't good. It will only mean that some people were wrong about their interpretations of prophecy and current events.

To know what will be, learn what has been. Study Scripture, especially God's interactions with the patriarchs. God has foreshadowed the end from the beginning.

Suggested Apostolic Readings for Parsha Behar

Some Apostolic passages I think go well with Parsha Behar (Leviticus 25:1-26:2):

Leviticus 25:1-38

  • Matthew 6:19-34
  • Luke 4:16-41
  • Hebrews 12:18-24

Leviticus 25:39-26:2

  • John 13:12-20
  • Romans 3:21-31
  • Ephesians 6:5-9
  • Colossians 3:1-17

Suggested Apostolic Readings for Parsha Emor

Some Apostolic passages I think go well with Parsha Emor (Leviticus 21-24):

  • Matthew 12:1-14
  • Matthew 12:25-32
  • Matthew 14:13-21
  • John 7:1-11
  • John 19:31-36
  • Romans 7:1-2
  • 1 Corinthians 6:15-20
  • 1 Corinthians 10:18-22
  • 1 Timothy 3
  • Revelation 14:1-5
  • Revelation 21:9-27

A Set Apart Community

Leviticus 19:1 – Torah is called "The Law of Moses" or simply "Moses," but make no mistake. These are the words of God given through Moses. They are not the words of Moses.

  • v2 – "All the congregation," meaning men, women, and children. The Torah is about living in harmony with God, the world, your community, and yourself. This section is primarily concerned with living in community with fellow believers. Paul referred to it as the Body of Messiah. We are to be different than the world (k'doshim) because we are a part of God's people. Our standards must be different because his standard are different. When God follows a command with a statement like "I am YHWH," he is emphasizing that we are to follow his rules because we are his. Not because we belong to the First Church of Whatever or because we are Jews or Chrisians, but because we have been adopted into God's house. We live in his house, so we follow his rules.
  • v3 – If Yahweh is your God or if you want to live among God's people, then keep the sabbath. If Yahweh is not your God or if you don't want to live among God's people, then "Do what thou wilt."
  • v4 – If that other guy is your god, then you can make all the idols you want. "But as long as you live under my roof…"
  • v5-8 – Peace offerings must always be voluntary. Obedience is mandatory, but going the extra mile is better. Peace offerings are meant to be extravagant community events. They are not meant to be used for regular meals.
  • v9-10 – Leave something for the poor and the transient, but don't just hand it to them if they are able to work.
  • v11-14 – Don't cheat each other or be sneaky with each other. There is no place for maneuvering in God's house.
  • v15 – Don't play favorites. Don't brown nose and don't play Robin Hood, either. There is nothing wrong with being rich, and it's not your job to cure poverty. LBJ was a fool.
  • v16 – Don't be a tattletale, a gossip, or a slanderer. Mind your own business.
  • v17 – Confront evil (tactfully and quietly when possible) because it would be hateful to allow your neighbor to continue ignorantly in sin.
  • v18 – Be forgiving and turn the other cheek. I.e. be slow to anger.