Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Exodus 39-40 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 26-28

Exodus 39 – The vestments made and the work presented to Moses for his blessing are here described. The colors of everything are specified including even the color of the thread to be used (gold).

The names of the twelve tribes are engraved on a dark reddish gem mounted into gold. All the various garments  are described in great detail and all are decorated with gems and gold. “The Israelites did all the work just as the Lord had commanded Moses. Moses examined everything and saw that they had made it all just as the Lord had commanded. So Moses blessed them” (39:43). The Schocken editors point out the extent to which the completion of the work is marked by terms that equate it with God’s completion of the work of creation in Genesis.

Exodus 40 – Everything is ready to be assembled (40:18) and anointed by Moses.  Aaron and his sons are anointed.  “Then the cloud covered the meeting tent, and the glory of the Lord filled the Dwelling.  Moses could not enter the meeting tent, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the Lord filled the Dwelling.  Whenever the cloud rose from the Dwelling, the Israelites would set out on their journey. 

But if the cloud did not lift, they would not go forward; only when it lifted did they go forward.  In the daytime the cloud of the Lord was seen over the Dwelling; whereas at night, fire was seen in the cloud by the whole house of Israel in all the stages of their journey” (40:34-38).

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) – First Apology
26 – After “Christ’s ascension into heaven the devils put forward certain men who said that they themselves were gods; and they were not only not persecuted by you, but even deemed worthy of honors.” And here he is speaking of Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-24), whom I had no idea was so well-known in Roman circles.

He claims that the Romans esteemed Simon for the acts of magic he performed. Justin Martyr thinks this “magic” was “the art of the devils operating in him” but he notes that the Romans “considered him a god” and had a statue erected in his honor on the Tiber and had it inscribed with the words, “Simoni Deo Sancto” [To Simon the holy God]. It’s possible Justin Martyr was misinformed in this. In the 16th century, a statue was unearthed in this location which was inscribed to “Semo Sancus” – a Sabine deity, not the Simon referred to in Acts.

He also implies that Marcion of Pontus – still living at this time – was influenced by Simon Magus. He says he is “teaching his disciples to believe in some other god greater than the Creator. And he, by the aid of the devils, has caused many of every nation to speak blasphemies, and to deny that God is the maker of this universe, and to assert that some other being, greater than He, has done greater works.” He and his followers may be CALLED Christians, but they are not. They are heretics.

Marcion was the son of a bishop in the early church – in Sinope in the province of Pontus. He may also have been appointed an assistant to his father but his father excommunicated him when he rejected the God of the Jewish Scriptures as the God Christians worshipped [Wikipedia]. It’s easy to see that a man like Justin Martyr, who found the Jewish Scriptures and particularly the Jewish prophets as his road to Christ, would denounce such a belief. Marcionism was declared a 4th century heresy.

27 – Bucking the culture of the time, Justin Martyr writes that “we have been taught that to expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men.” We are taught to do no one injury. And those who are “so exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are often brought up to prostitution.

Those who are in government – like the men for whom he is writing this apology – “receive the hire of these, and duty and taxes from them [those who profit from their prostitution, I think], whom you ought to exterminate from your realm.”

“And anyone who uses such persons, besides the godless and infamous and impure intercourse, may possibly be having intercourse with his own child, or relative, or brother.”

28 – Among Christians, “the prince of the wicked spirits is called the serpent, and Satan, and the devil . . . “Christ foretells that he and those who follow him will be punished for all eternity, and God has delayed this end-of=time scenario out of “His regard for the human race.”

“He foreknows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are not yet born. In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative.”

Some then – even as today – insinuate that God does not exist or if He does exist, He “exists like a stone, and that neither virtue nor vice are anything, but only in the opinion of men these things are reckoned good or evil. [But] this is the greatest profanity and wickedness.”

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