Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Exodus 8 and The Epistle of Barnabas 2-4

Exodus 8 – The plague of frogs is brought about by Aaron stretching out the staff over the streams, canals and pools of Egypt.  The Egyptian magicians match him in this one too.  Pharaoh at first tells them he will let the people go, but he reneges (8:11).

Then Aaron stretches out his staff and turns dust into gnats – the third plague.  This the magicians cannot match, but Pharaoh is not moved.

Then the Lord tells Moses to threaten swarms of flies as the fourth plague—but he promises he will not afflict the people in Goshen, thus distinguishing between them and the Egyptians for the first time. Pharaoh is willing to let them sacrifice to their God in Egypt, but not in the wilderness outside of Egypt. Moses insists they must go on a journey of three days—to be out from under the strictures against such worship in Egypt. Pharaoh promises but again reneges (8:28).

The Epistle of Barnabas
2 - He calls their days "evil days, with the Worker of Evil himself in the ascendant" (159). He believes studying the "Divine ordinances, having patience and the fear of God . . . and resignation and self-discipline for allies" they will be able to see their way through it. (160).

On Sacrifices: What the Lord has made clear through his prophets is that these are things "of which He has not the smallest need" (160). He cites Isaiah 1:11-13. "All these things He swept away; intending the New Law of our Lord Jesus Christ to impose no yoke of coercion, and its Oblation to be no offering of human hands" (160).

What "He tells us is, the sacrifice for the Lord is a contrite heart; a heart that glorifies its Maker is a sweet savor to the Lord" (160, citing Zech.8:17).We must look carefully into this matter, for if the Evil One gets his way, we could be "cast . . .out from the life that lies before us" (160).

3 - On Fasting: Quoting unknown sources on the pointlessness of fasting, he then uses this quote (also unknown) to say what God wants "Look, the fast of my choice is this: relax all your iniquitous restrictions, loosen the shackles of your oppressive covenants, let your ruined debtors go free, and tear up all your unjust agreements. Break up your bread into portions for the starving; and if you see a man who is in want of clothing, fit him out yourself. Bring in the homeless under your own roof; and should you happen to catch sight of some person of low degree, be sure that neither you nor anyone belonging to you casts an eye of scorn upon him. Then shall your light shine out like the rising sun; healing shall dawn swiftly upon you, and you will march forward with holiness as your vanguard and the glory of God on either flank" (161, citing Isaiah 58:5).

4 – We must consider the present situation and see what "offers assurance of salvation for us" (161). We should avoid any kind of wrong-doing. "Let there be hatred in us for the errors of this world, so that there may be love for us in the world to come" (161).

Do not give reign to "natural instincts" to associate with "rogues and sinners, or we shall only grow to resemble them ourselves" (161). He refers to Enoch and the "end days" that are at hand, "so that his Beloved can come quickly and enter upon his inheritance" (161). Quoting Daniel, he alludes to the "ten kingdoms" that will reign, after whom "a petty king will arise and bring down three of those kings at once" (161).

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