John T. Willis

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Lying, Deceit, Dishonesty, Trickery, Hypocrisy--Part V

As we contemplate the HUGE PROBLEM of dishonesty in human life, THE FAMILY constantly affects all the members: husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters, extended members of the family. Stories of all kind "tumble out" on the radio, on the evening news on TV, on magazines--everywhere. Numerous blogs could arise on this one issue.

As only one example, let us recall the story of David and Bathsheba, related in 2 Samuel 11. Here are a few relevant facts.

1. David was an aging king, who already had between fifteen and twenty wives--recall 2 Samuel 3:2-5; 5:13-16. The prophet Nathan reminds David of this fact in 2 Samuel 12:8, 11. But in spite of all this, David took the wife of another man--Uriah the Hittite. Today, we call this infidelity, an affair.

2. David intentionally found other whether Bathsheba was already married. 2 Samuel 11:3. And when messengers told David Bathsheba was already married, David still persisted to bring her to him and commit adultery with her.

3. David assumed he could "hide" this adultery. But Bathsheba became pregnant, and she sent a message to tell David she was pregnant. 11:5.

4. David tried to hide his sin by engaging in several dishonest activities.
a. First, he sent a messenger to Joab, David's commander of the army, at Rabbah, where Uriah was serving as a soldier to fight against the Ammonites. Uriah must have been puzzled that David would send a message and specifically choose him to return to talk with David at Jerusalem at his palace. When Uriah arrived, David only "shot the breeze." He asked Uriah how the battle was going, then instructed Uriah to go down to his house and wash his feet. How interesting!!! The king is interested in Uriah's feet???!!! What is going on. But Uriah refused to do this BECAUSE he was a noble, upright individual. So he stayed just outside David's palace. 11:6-11.
b. David made a second move. He gave a banquet for Uriah. When Uriah was there, David egged him on and "made him drunk," hoping he would go down to his house and have sex with his wife. But Uriah was too noble. He remained outside David's palace. 11:12-13.
c. In desperation, David wrote a memo sealed by the king's seal, and sent it back to Joab at Rabbah in Uriah's hand. When Joab received David's memo, David instructed Joab to put Uriah in the thickest part of the battle against the Ammonites at Rabbah and make sure Uriah was killed. Joab yields to David's instructions, and the Ammonites kill Uriah and several other Israelite soldiers. 11:14-17.
d. Joab sends a messenger back to David to assure David that Uriah was dead. When David received this message, he says essentially: It is unfortunate that Uriah was killed, but when a person becomes a soldier, he knows he might have to die. David shrugs his shoulders as if this was of little concern. 11:18-25.
e. After Bathsheba mourns over the death of her husband Uriah, David officially marries Bathsheba, and after nine months she bears a son. David assumed he had hidden his sins. "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." 11:26-27.

All of us rightly reprove David's dishonesty. But we all know that frequently we behave in similar ways. Unfortunately, often we are dishonest about members of our own family. This is an epidemic in the land and in the world. All this displeases the Lord.

Share YOUR experiences and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Friday, June 03, 2011

Yahweh's New Covenant to Remarry his two wives Israel and Judah into one people--Jeremiah 31:31-40

The next two hope oracles in Jeremiah 30-33 appear in Jeremiah 31:31-40. These two oracles announce Yahweh's promises already stated in Jeremiah 30:1-31:29. This blog contains a brief discussion of the two oracles in Jeremiah 31:31-40.

I. Yahweh will soon remarry his unfaithful wives North Israel and South Judah. Jeremiah 31:31-37.
a. Yahweh declares he will make a NEW COVENANT. This "new covenant" clearly stands in bold contrast to the following reminder that Yahweh had made a former covenant with his people when he brought them out of Egypt--see Exodus 4:21-23; Hosea 2:14-15. 31:31-32.
b. North Israel and South Judah had "broken" that covenant. The word "covenant" CAN mean a CONTRACT negotiated by two people or groups of people. This is CLEARLY NOT the idea in Jeremiah 31:32, BECAUSE Yahweh remarks: "though I was THEIR HUSBAND."
As in several biblical texts, a "covenant" is a relationship, in this case, a marriage relationship. The word "covenant" appears with this idea in Malachi
2:13-14; Hosea 2:18-20; Ezekiel 16:8-9. Yahweh married Israel at the exodus from Egypt in the time of Moses, Israel became unfaithful to God in the land of Canaan to forsake Yahweh to worship Baal and other gods and make alliances with other nations, Yahweh divorced Israel by bringing the Assyrians to overthrow North Israel in 721 BCE and by bringing the Babylonians to overthrow Judah in 587 BCE. NOW, Yahweh declares that he will rewoo and remarry his former unfaithful wife. 31:31-32.
c. Jeremiah 31:31-37 picks up and continues the biblical account in 3:6-11. Earlier, in 721 and 587 BCE, Yahweh DIVORCED his two wives North Israel through the Assyrians and South Judah through the Babylonians, according to Jeremiah 3:6-11, but NOW Yahweh will remarry his TWO WIVES, "the house of Israel and the house of Judah," as Jeremiah 31:31 clearly announces. This announcement pertains to the return of the penitent, faithful Israelites exiles from Babylon to the land of Canaan to rebuild the temple under Zerubbabel and Joshua, restore the law under Ezra, and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem from 536 to 445 BCE. 31:31-32.
d. Yahweh SPECIFICALLY emphasizes FOUR aspects of the future "covenant" between Yahweh and his people North Israel and Judah.
1. Yahweh will put his law within his people, and will write it on their hearts. 31:33a-b. This is EXACTLY the same thing that Yahweh did when he gave his people the law at Mount Sinai in the days of Moses--Deuteronomy 6:6; 11:18.
2. Yahweh will be their God and they shall be God's people. 31:33c. This is EXACTLY the same thing Yahweh did when he entered into his marital relationship with his chosen people--Exodus 6:7; Deuteronomy 7:6; 27:9-10.
3. Yahweh declares that all those who turn to him will KNOW him. 31:34a-b. The word "know" here is NOT an intellectual concept here and usually throughout the Bible. The word "know" means a spiritual concept. "Know" means "enter into and sustain an intimate, daily, personal relationship with" another person. This is a marital term. Adam "knew" Eve his wife--Genesis 4:1. This certainly does not mean that Adam intellectually "knew" 450 facts ABOUT Eve. On the contrary. This means that Adam had an intimate, daily, personal relationship with his wife Eve. Jeremiah uses this word often in this sense, as emphasized in several previous blogs. See for example Jeremiah 9:6; 22:16.
4. Yahweh assures his penitent people that he will FORGIVE their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. 31:34c-d. This is EXACTLY what God did for his people when they repented and returned to Yahweh--Exodus 34:6-7; Numbers 14:19-20; Psalms 51; 103:3.
e. That which is NEW in the "covenant" which Yahweh announces in Jeremiah 31:31 is NOT a different set of promises or commandments from God, but a different, future relationship from the past from a divorce between Yahweh and his sinful people and his chosen people Israel to a restoration of God's people in the land of Canaan.
f. The author of Hebrews quotes and gives a different slant on the meaning of Jeremiah 31:31-34 in Hebrews 8:8-13; 10:16-18. As studied previously, this again raises the question of HOW the author of Hebrews uses Jeremiah. It is helpful to recall that Hebrews 1:5 "re-applies" 2 Samuel 7:14 to refer to Jesus Christ at the right hand of God after his resurrection rather than to Solomon in 1 Chronicles 22:6-10; 28:3-6. The author of Hebrews is not using the Old Testament as a literal one-to-one prediction-fulfillment, but he is using the texts in Jeremiah as a midrash or possibly typologically or allegorically.
g. Yahweh explains clearly that Yahweh's presence and restoration of his marital relationship with his wife Israel in the future is as sure as the "fixed order" of t he heavens and the earth. 31:35-37.

II. Yahweh promises that he will restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Jeremiah 31:38-40.
a. Yahweh solemnly promises the dejected Israelite exiles in Babylon that he will REBUILD the city of Jerusalem "from the tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate to the hill Gareb and shall then turn to Goah." 31:38-39. Historically, this occurs in the days of Nehemiah--Nehemiah 1-12.
b. Yahweh will make sacred or holy the regions of Jerusalem in which the Babylonians earlier slaughtered many people, and declares that Jerusalem "shall never again be uprooted or overthrown." 31:40. Here again, Jeremiah uses the familiar terms of "uproot" and "overthrow"--Jeremiah 1:10; 12:17; 18:7; 24:6; 31:28.

Share YOUR dreams and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Lying, Deceit, Dishonesty, Trickery, Hypocrisy--Part IV

Another huge aspect of human life dealing with dishonesty is BUSINESS. One does not have to look very far any direction to find all kinds of dishonesty taking place in BUSINESS. The Bible is FULL of examples and warnings of DISHONESTY in BUSINESS of all kinds. This blog calls attention to ONLY a VERY FEW examples in and outside the Bible.

1. Yahweh through the prophet Amos reproves influential LEADERS among God's people who attend church regularly, but during the week they are engaged in all kinds of dishonesty in business. This has to do with merchants and customers, the rich and the poor. One outstanding text is Amos 8:4-6:
"Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
and bring to ruin the poor of the land,
saying, 'When will THE NEW MOON be over
so that we may sell grain;
so that we may offer wheat for sale?
buying the poor for silver,
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
These "wealthy, influential, religious leaders" regularly attend the NEW MOON and the SABBATH, but their daily practices are corrupt to the core. Yahweh through Amos names FOUR specific dishonest practices in business.
*Making the ephah small. An ephah is a measure of grain. The merchant would put a label for 100 pounds when the bag held only 98.5 pounds.
*Making the shekel great. If the true value of 100 pounds of wheat is $5.00, the merchant would put a label on the bag for $5.10. 10 cents is ONLY a small amount overall. But this is dishonest, and hurts the customers.
*Making false balances. Merchants would "rig" a balance or scale to make it read 100 pounds when in reality the bad held only 98.5 pounds.
*Selling "inferior" products. This might be chaff mixed in the bag among the good wheat or give an inferior grade of wheat.
Practices like this are very common. Merchants present a product in one way, when in reality the product is different from what the merchants present.

2. One of the laws in the Pentateuch appears in Leviticus 19:35-36:
"You shall not CHEAT IN MEASURING LENGTH, WEIGHT, OR QUANTITY. You shall have HONEST BALANCES, HONEST WEIGHTS, AN HONEST EPHAH, AND AN HONEST HIN: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt."
Proverbs 11:1; 16:11; 20:23 deal with this same problem. In order, these verses are:
"A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,
but an accurate weight is his delight."
"Honest balances and scales are the Lord's;
all the weights in the bag are his work."
"Differing weights are an abomination of the Lord,
and false scales are not good."
Money, wealth, prestige, the love of money drive the lives of many people, and bring them to shame, imprisonment, despair. The love of money is a huge problem in human life.

3. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:9-10:
"Those who WANT TO BE RICH fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plung people into ruin and destruction. For THE LOVE OF MONEY is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains."
Hence, Paul summons Christians:
"As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life."

4. All of us know about the story of Enron Corporation. This was an American energy, commodities, and services company based in Houston, Texas. Enron employed approximately 22,000 staff and was one of the world's leading electricity, natural gas, communications, and pulp and paper companies, with claimed revenues of almost $101 billion om 2000. At the end of 2001, inspectors discovered Enron's financial condition was sustained substantially by institutionalized, systemic, and creatively planned accounting fraud known world-wide as the "Enron scandal." This led to destroy the company, put several of its CEOs and associates into prison, and virtually dissolved the Arthur Andersen accounting firm. There is little need to report all the dishonesty involved in these one-time powerful business companies.

ALL OF THIS is a HEART PROBLEM. Business practices are not due to businesses, but due to people. PEOPLE make decisions to do this or that. When a person is dishonest, this is a HEART PROBLEM. History demonstrates that dishonest practices will continue as long as human beings live on earth. This is a reality of life. Hopefully, a blog like this will persuade just one person to do the honest thing, to develop a true heart.

Share YOUR thoughts and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Yahweh will take away Ephraim's weeping and tears--Jeremiah 31:15-20

Continuing the study of the Book of Jeremiah, the next three hope oracles in Jeremiah 30-33 appear in Jeremiah 31:15-30. Consistently, Yahweh through Jeremiah begins with an apparent doom oracle, but suddenly reverses the doom into hope. This blog addresses the three hope oracles in Jeremiah 31:15-30.

I. Yahweh will wipe away the weeping and tears of Ephraim. Jeremiah 31:15-22.
a. The places named in this oracle all occur in North Israel: Ramah--31:15; Ephraim--31:18, 10; Israel--31:21. Therefore, Yahweh through Jeremiah has in mind North Israelites living in this time.
b. This oracle begins with doom. Rachel symbolizes North Israelites. This term comes from the stories of Rachel about the births of Joseph in Genesis 30:22-24 and Benjamin in Genesis 35:16-21. Rachel had been barren, but Yahweh opened her womb. She was born and raised in Paddan-Aram or Haran in the northern regions of the Euphrates River--Genesis 29:1-30. After twenty years in that area, they return to the Land of Canaan, and eventually Rachel dies near Bethlehem--Genesis 35:16-21. In the days of Jeremiah, the North Israelites are in captivity. They are lamenting and weeping bitterly. Thus, Yahweh through Jeremiah describes their terrible situation. 31:15.
This verse CLEARLY refers to a PRESENT situation in the days of Jeremiah. The SITUATION is North Israelites in exile or captivity. In the following verses, Yahweh announces that Yahweh will soon defeat the enemies of God's people and bring North Israelites back into the land of Canaan.
This raises an issue discussed on the two previous blogs on the topic: How the New Testament uses the Old Testament. Matthew quotes Jeremiah 31:15 and applies this verse to Herod's murders of the Jewish children in and around Bethlehem. He introduces this quote with the words: "Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah." The quotation is in Matthew 2:18, the introduction is in 2:17, and the account of Herod's murders is in 2:16. How is Matthew using Jeremiah 31:15 in this context? A previous blog sketches AT LEAST ELEVEN possible explanations. It may be impossible to know CERTAINLY HOW Matthew is using the Old Testament. It is CLEAR that this is NOT a situation of PREDICTION-FULFILLMENT in the literal sense, BECAUSE Jeremiah 31:15 contains an OBSERVATION about the PRESENT situation in the days of Jeremiah. One possible explanation is Matthew's use of the Old Testament as TYPOLOGICAL, as Paul CLEARLY does in 1 Corinthians 10:1-11. Another possible explanation is that Matthew knew the interpretational method of the Jewish Rabbis, like Paul does in Galatians 3:16, called MIDRASH. Further, the word "fulfilled" does not necessarily refer to a previous PREDICTION. A CLEAR example of this is 2 Timothy 4:5, when Paul instructs Timothy: "Fulfill your ministry." The NRSV interprets this in this way: "Carry out your ministry FULLY." There is not a PREDICTION here, but a rhetorical way of saying: Complete, finish.
c. Yahweh now REVERSES the situation. He summons the North Israelite exiles to quit weeping and shedding tears. Yahweh will bring them back from "the land of the enemy," obviously Babylon. "There is HOPE for your FUTURE." The penitent people of God will return "to their own country," obviously the land of Canaan. This is an announcement that God will bring the Israelites exiles out of Babylon back to Canaan to rebuild the temple and restore the city of Jerusalem and the land of Canaan. 31:16-17.
d. The exiles respond by admitting that they were guilty of rebelling against God and deserved to be "disciplined." Now they have been repenting and asking Yahweh to give them mercy. 31:18-19.
e. Yahweh responds positively to the penitent exiles. EPHRAIM=NORTH ISRAEL is Yahweh's DEAR SON, Yahweh's CHILD. Yahweh is full of compassion, and declares: "I WILL SURELY HAVE MERCY ON HIM." 31:20.
f. Yahweh tells the exiles to "set markers" on the road, make "guideposts," consider "the highway" from Babylon to Canaan in preparation for Yahweh's overthrow of Babylon and the restoration of his penitent people. 31:21-22.

II. Jeremiah awakes from a dream to understand Yahweh will restore the fortunes of Judah. Jeremiah 31:23-26.
a. In the previous oracle, Yahweh declared a message to EPHRAIM=NORTH ISRAEL. In the next oracle, Yahweh turns to declare a message to "the holy hill"=Jerusalem, Judah. Yahweh will "restore their fortunes." He will "bless" the "holy hill"= Jerusalem. See the common use of this expression in Psalms 2:6; 15:1; and often. 31:23-24.
b. The Judean exiles in Babylon are "weary" and "faint." But soon Yahweh will "satisfy" and "replenish" the penitent and restore them to the land of Canaan. 31:25-26.

III. Yahweh will SOW "the house of Israel and the house of Judah," that is, bring them out of Babylon and back to the land of Canaan. Jeremiah 31:27-30.
a. The Hebrew word "sow" is a word play for Jezreel. Jeremiah is intentionally bothering this term from Hosea in Hosea 1:4-5; 1:10-2:1; 2:18-23. Here, Jeremiah is combining promises about North Israel and South Judah, BECAUSE Yahweh's desire is to re-unite and re-unify ALL of God's people as in the days of Saul, David, and Solomon. 31:27.
b. There is another word play on the word "watch." Yahweh used this word play in the account of the call of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:11-12. The Hebrew word for "watch" is shoqed, and the Hebrew word for "almond" is shaqed. In the context of Jeremiah 1:11-18, Yahweh will "watch" over his people to punish them. NOW, Yahweh declares that he will reverse this to "watch" over his people to restore them from Babylonian captivity. Formerly, Yahweh had "plucked up, broken down, overthrown, destroyed, and brought EVIL=PUNISHMENT"--see Jeremiah 1:9-10; but NOW Yahweh will BUILD and PLANT them in the land of Canaan. 31:28.
c. Some of God's people naively assumed they were being punished in Babylon because of the sins of their ancestors. They created a popular jingle:
"The parents have eaten sour grapes,
and the children's teeth are set on edge."
Ezekiel quotes this same jingle in Ezekiel 18:2. But Yahweh through both Jeremiah and Ezekiel responds by declaring that each person is responsible for his own sins, not for the sins of his ancestors or parent or grandparents, etc. 31:29-20.

Essentially, these three oracles contain other hope oracles or promises of Yahweh already discussed in previous hope oracles. Jeremiah is using fresh metaphors and figures, but his message is the same.

Our God is ultimately a God of HOPE. He punishes people when they sin, but his purpose is not to destroy people, but to discipline them and bring them to repentance.

Share YOUR thoughts and aspirations with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lying, Deceit, Dishonesty, Trickery, Hypocrisy--Part III

Dishonesty affects all aspects of life. This blog briefly calls attention to dishonesty which permeates and pervades POLITICS on all levels. Webster's Dictionary defines "Politics" in this way:
"1. The science and art of government; political science.
2. The theory of practice or managing affairs of public policy or of political parties; hence, political affairs, principles, or the like; in a bad sense, dishonest management to secure the success of political candidates or parties.
3. Political affairs viewed as a profession, interest, or the like; as to enter politics."
Thus, "politics" is not necessarily a dishonest or sinful practice. Like all other aspects of life, this depends entirely on the person, the heart, the community, the state, the nation, the church.

Biblical composers, speakers, and writers often address the problem of dishonest practices in politics. In this blog, one can only touch the tip of the iceberg of political dishonesty. Here are only a few observations.

1. The influential people among God's people [the leaders] in the time of Jeremiah were the PROPHETS, PRIESTS, AND PRINCES. [See Jeremiah 1:18; 2:26; 5:31; 6:13; 8:1; 13:13; 14:18; 23:11, 33-34; 26:7-8, 16; 19:1, 25-26; 32:32]. They used their positions to gain what they desired, not what Yahweh commanded and taught. A striking description of their practices appears in Jeremiah 14:18: "Both prophet and priest PLY THEIR TRADE throughout the land."
Many influential people "work the people" to achieve what THEY desire. They are not concerned about helping innocent, needy people or pleasing God. This is a self-centered profession.

2. Jesus frequently confronted alleged "religious leaders" because of their dishonest practices. A well-known example appears in Matthew 23:2-12:
"The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses's seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; BUT DO NOT DO AS THEY DO, FOR THEY DO NOT PRACTICE WHAT THEY TEACH. They tie up heavy burdens, hardto bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds TO BE SEEN BY OTHERS; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. THEY LOVE TO HAVE THE PLACE OF HONOR AT BANQUETS AND THE BEST SEATS IN THE SYNAGOGUES, AND TO BE GREETED WITH RESPECT IN THE MARKETPLACES, AND TO HAVE PEOPLE CALL THEM RABBI. But you are not called to called rabbi, for you have one teacher [God], and you are ALL students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father--the one in heaven. Nor are you be called instructors, for you have one instructor--the Messiah. The greates among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted."
One does not have to look very far to see that this very thing occurs all the time in the church, in universities, in communities, in states, in nations. This is a daily human heart problem. There is an epidemic abroad.

3. One of thousands of examples is the news about the resignation of Jim Tressel as coach of Ohio State University. The pressure was too much for him. He yielded to numerous practices of dishonesty--call it violations from a tattoo-parlor scandal that sullied the image of one ofthe country's top football programs, lying to the NCAA and then covering it up, etc. We can point the finger of dishonesty at Tressel, but in reality this sort of thing happens all the time--very unfortunately.

4. Sadly, the general American population assumes that most, if not all, politicians are or will soon be dishonest. One thinks of President Richard Nixon, or President Bill Clinton, or Governor Arnold Schwarzeneger, or David, or Solomon, of Judas.

5. A classical example of dishonesty is Pontius Pilate. Matthew 27:11-26 reports that the chief priests and elders of the Jews made accusations against Jesus. Jesus gave no response. At the annual festival, it was customary for Pilate to release a prisoner from the crowd. The chief priests and elders PERSUADED the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to crucify Jesus. "When Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that the riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, 'I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves." The crowd demanded that Pilate have Jesus crucified, and Pilate agreed.
Just because Pilate "washed his hands" does not mean he was not guilty of dishonesty and agreeing to the death of Jesus on the cross.
People in high positions [political and religious alike] have yielded to the pressure of "the crowd," fears, money to be dishonest and portray themselves to act in one way when they should have trusted in God and done the right thing.

History shows that his epidemic of dishonesty will not stop. May God help raise up at least some honest people to do the right thing even when the crowd and the money and the opponents SEEM to be inviolable. BELIEVE that God will prevail; HE ALONE is actually in control of all life--including ALL HUMAN LIFE.

Share YOUR intentions and dreams with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Monday, May 30, 2011

How the New Testament uses the Old Testament--Part II

In the previous blog working through the Book of Jeremiah, there was an attempt to sketch FOUR ways in which the New Testament uses Old Testament passages to emphasize the PROBLEM about HOW the New Testament uses the Old Testament. As a brief reminder, here are the four categories:
1. Some Old Testament passages refer to the PAST
2. Some Old Testament passages refer to the PRESENT
3. Some Old Testament passages refer to the FUTURE but are accomplished or fulfilled in Old Testament times
4. Several New Testament passages refer to a single Old Testament text with different applications.

Through many centuries, thinkers and scholars have tried to arrive at a SOLUTION to this problem. Different writers have proposed AT LEAST ELEVEN SOLUTIONS, that is, eleven ways of understanding How the New Testament uses the Old Testament. It would take a lifetime for a person to deal with all the texts involved. This blog briefly sketches these eleven possible solutions.

1. Distortion or Misrepresentation or Misunderstanding. In 1936, A. Vis wrote a book argued that New Testament speakers and writers deliberated distorted the meanings of Old Testament passages to defend the emerging movement of Christianity. [Most scholars reject this understand. It rests on the assumption that ancient thinkers reason the same way modern thinkers reason].

2. Literal Fulfillment. In 1906, C. A. Briggs argued that Psalm 2:7 is a literal direct prediction of the coming of Christ in Hebrews 1:5. [Most scholars reject this understanding. A careful study of the context of Psalm 2:7 shows this pertains to an Israelite king, perhaps David, not Jesus Christ].

3. Testimony Book containing Messianic Texts. In 1916, 1920, J. R. Harris suggested that the early church used a pre-canonical Testimony Book containing Messianic Texts lifted out of context from the Old Testament and strung together in combination. Harris pointed out that the large majority of Old Testament passages quoted in the New Testament are from Isaiah and Psalms. [Of course, there is no external evidence of the existence of a Testimony Book].

4. Allegory. Paul uses Genesis 16 and 21 allegorically in Galatians 4:21-5:1. In
1962, L. Mowry pointed out that Paul's statement that Hagar is Mount Sinai and Sarah is the Jerusalem above, and that the child of Hagar whom Sarah drove out is the Old Covenant does not appear in Genesis. Paul clearly uses these Old Testament passages allegorically, as Paul himself SAYS in Galatians 4:24. [Hence, it is quite clear that New Testament composers and writers used the Old Testament allegorically].

5. Three Levels of a text. In 1956, S. H. Hooke suggested that the New Testament use of the Old Testament may be explained by recognizing "Three Levels" in a Biblical Text: (1) historical event; (2) interpretation; (3) divine activity. [Obviously, this is an ingenious explanation, but without solid foundation. Certainly, this is POSSIBLE, but doubtful].

6. Double Reference or Double Fulfillment. In 1896, F. Johnson asserted that many passages in the Old Testament contain a "Double Reference": one to an event in Israelite and Judean times, and another to an event in Christian times. [Obviously, New Testament passages quote Old Testament texts, but this certainly does NOT DEMONSTRATE that a certain Old Testament text MEANS the same thing in the Old Testament passage and in the New Testament passage quoted there. In each case, one must honor the meaning and context of each passage].

7. Compenetration. In 1915, 1946, C. A. Lattey asserts that New Testament passages correlate with Old Testament texts when they Quote or Mention Old Testament texts by the principle of "compenetration." By "compenetration," Lattey means that Old Testament texts extended beyond their present meaning and context, and thus New Testament thinkers and writers may add new ideas to the original intended contextual meaning.

8. Sensus plenior. In 1955, 1968, Raymond E. Brown argued that New Testament Quotations of and References to Old Testament texts often reveal a "More-than-literal" or "Fuller Sense" of those texts. Brown used the term Sensus plenior, the Latin expression "Fuller Sense." He thought of each text as being on TWO LEVELS: the earthly human context [like Hosea 11:1] and the heavenly divine context [like Matthew 2:15]. Brown was a leading Roman Catholic scholar, and addressed the obvious problem with: How can one KNOW that and when an Old Testament text ALSO applies to Christ or the Church. Brown had an answer: There are two criteria.
a. If the New Testament quotes or refers to the Old Testament concerning Christ or the Church, the texts under consideration contain a fuller sense of scripture.
b. If ex cathedra Roman Catholic bishops or popes or influential leaders of the church, the texts under consideration contain a fuller sense of scripture.
[Note: There are many Old Testament texts which the New Testament never quotes, but modern people assume Old Testament texts are predictions or references to the New Testament. This is an assumption].

9. Accommodation. In 1857, Albert Barnes argued that New Testament writers "accommodated" their method of using the Old Testament to their contemporaries. ["Accommodation" is an interesting word. What does this really mean? Does this mean: Reapplication?]

10. Typological. Paul openly says that he uses the Old Testament "Typically" or "Typologically." He actually uses the Greek word "tupos," type, in 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11; and Peter uses the Greek word "antitupon," antitype in 1 Peter 3:21. Several English translations render this word "example." A good term for this idea in modern times is "parallel." The idea is that the event related in the Old Testament is parallel to the New Testament. In 1936, L. Goppelt; and in 1976, D. L. Baker wrote entire books on this concept, which would be helpful to interested readers.

11. Midrash and Pesher. It is well established that Jewish Rabbis used the Midrash Method to apply to the Old Testament, and that the Covenanters at Qumran [Dead Sea Scrolls] used the Pesher Method to apply to the Old Testament. An interesting example is that in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Qumran Community argued that the line "In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord" in Isaiah 40:3 applies to their members, "The Children of Light" were the ones preparing the way of the Lord by overthrowing the Jewish priests in Jerusalem. Paul received his PhD in Jerusalem under the Rabbi Gamaliel. There can be no doubt that Paul learned the Midrash Method of using the Old Testament, and in several passages it is quite clear that Paul is using the Old Testament in this way. Excellent studies on Midrash and Pesher have been written by C. H. Toy in 1884; S. Kistemaker in 1961; and D. Cohn-Sherbok in

For further study, one might want to read:

E. Earle Ellis, Prophecy and Hermeneutic in Early Christianity. Grand Rapid: Eerdmans, 1978, pages 147-236.

Donald Juel, Messianic Exegesis: Christological Interpretation of the Old Testament in Early Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988.

D. A. Carson and H. G. M. Williamson, editors. It is Written: Scripture Citing Scripture. Essays in Honour of Barnabas Lindars. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

There are numerous articles and books about this issue. The study of this one issue is overwhelming. I hope some of the ideas suggested above will be helpful as we continue to study and think about and pray about the Bible. This prepares us for considering Jeremiah 31:15following in the next blogs.

Share YOUR insights and aspirations with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lying, Deceit, Dishonesty, Trickery, Hypocrisy--Part II

As we continue our thoughts about the importance of SPEECH, we turn now to another aspect of dishonesty: EDUCATION. Personally, I have been deeply involved in professional education for over 55 years, so I know from the inside out many of the problems which emerge in dishonesty in education. It would not be helpful or uplifting to enumerate specific situations which I know personally about educational dishonesty, but there aree several areas which call for discussion and consideration and [hopefully] change or spiritual transformation.

Introductory biblical texts might heighten the issue.

Jeremiah 8:8:
"How can you say, 'We are wise,
and the law of the Lord is with us,'
when, in fact, the FALSE pen of the scribes
has made it into a LIE?"

Psalm 52:1-4:
"Why do you boast, O mighty one,
or mischief done against the godly?
All day long you are plotting destruction.
Your tongue is like a sharp razor,
you worker of TREACHERY.
You love evil more than good,
and LYING more than speaking the truth.
You love all words that devour,
O DECEITFUL tongue."

Kenneth T. Aitken writes: "As the saying has said, 'A lie has no legs.' The lie told to save face, to get oneself out of trouble, or to gain some small advantage, as well as the web of deceit spun by the practised and fluent liar, have no substance in reality, and sooner or later the liar will be found out. Truth must out, for it alone 'endures.'" (The Daily Study Bible Series on Proverbs, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1986, page 135).

Here are some areas for serious consideration:

*The American educational system is driven by exorbitant money, prestige, alluring and enticing jobs, a targeted pool of wealthy philanthropists, promising elderly people who own large estates, and multimillionaires and multimillion companies, published books and articles. These drives may be wholesome in some cases, but in many cases, the temptations to be dishonest are too overbearing. Here are two current types of situations under this category.

1. A rising teacher or professor is under constant stress to publish books and articles. Many people cannot tolerate this pressure. A teacher or professor may mistreat, ignore, or incorrectly evaluate his or her students' work and grades. He or she may plagiarize the work of another person. One of my former students became a professor in an esteemed university. At one point he or she published an article in a highly respected journal. Later, a perceptive scholar detected that work and recognized this was essentially the same article which another scholar had published a few years earlier. The university confronted and dismissed that professor. This sort of thing occurs far too often.

2. The practice of raising money for universities leads to favoring individuals or companies who have large amounts of wealth. This is certainly acceptable and honorable as long as this is honest. However, there is a tremendous temptation to present the standards and beliefs and practices of a university which are not really true. When I became a professor, I signed a contract to do certain things. One is that I will be in chapel every day five days a week. Until this day, I am present in chapel every day unless I am sick or away in another city assigned there to serve my university. There are those who do not honor certain portions of a contract.

*Among students, cheating is a widespread practice. This applies to term papers, quizzes, exams, projects, and the like. Agencies use various ways to advertise the opportunity of students to write their articles and books to get money.

It is not worth the time and money to BUY education. Education is HARD WORK. One cannot avoid this reality. When a person yields to the temptation to be dishonest in LEARNING, this hurts that person and everyone around. Just one thought. I would be horrified to find that my doctor is dishonest. He or she holds my life in his or her hand. It is HARD WORK to become a doctor.

Share YOUR dreams and ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis