Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Leviticus 9-10 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 44-46

Leviticus 9 - On the eighth day, Aaron is to address the people, offering up a calf (hattat-sin) and a ram (holocaust–offering up) and encouraging the people also to offer up like offerings (he-goat sin offering, calf yearling and lamb yearling holocaust, an ox and ram for peace, and cereal offerings) “for today, YHWH will make-himself-seen by you!” (9:4)

When Moses and Aaron come out of the meeting tent at the end, “then the glory of the Lord was revealed to all the people.  Fire came forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the holocaust and the remnants of the fat on the altar.  Seeing this, all the people cried out and fell prostrate” (9:23-24).

Leviticus 10We return to the narrative—to the realm of human fallibility and failure according to Schocken (546). 

Two of Aaron’s sons, the oldest, are somehow disobedient with respect to the priestly observances they are in charge of; and the Lord flames out at them, killing them both. 

They are removed from the camp and two other sons—Eleazar and Ithamar—are told not to participate in the grieving process or leave their posts. Schocken says this is part of the general prohibition against priests being in contact with the dead (548).  The Lord also reveals to Aaron that from now on the priests are all to abstain from wine or strong drink (maybe the sons infraction came about as a result of that vice).  
Moses goes over with them what they may eat of the offerings given and where they may eat of it.  Eating a portion of the sin-offering (the goat) was necessary to relieve the community of its corporate guilt.  Moses gets angry when they do not eat of it (10:17). Aaron argues that were not sufficiently “pure” or sanctified to eat of it—especially in light of the punishment inflicted on their brothers.  Moses settles for this argument.

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) – First Apology
Not Nullified by Prophecy
44 – We see this element of freedom in the earliest stories of the Bible and we hear many encouragements in the Scriptures to choose what is good: “’Behold, before thy face are good and evil: choose the good’” (Deut. 30:15).

Plato too said similar words: “’The blame is his who chooses, and God is blameless.’” And Justin Martyr believes Plato took this idea from the Jewish prophets. “[H]ence there seem to be seeds of truth among all men; but they are charged with not accurately understanding [the truth] . . .”

When we say that the prophets have predicted what was to happen, we are not saying that “it [will] come about by a fatal necessity.” It is a revelation of God’s foreknowledge of what men will choose.

Christ’s Session in Heaven Foretold
45 – The writer says that “God the Father of all [brought] Christ to heaven after He had raised Him from the dead, and would keep Him there until He has subdued His enemies the devils, and until the number of those who are foreknown by Him as good and virtuous is complete, on whose account He has still delayed the consummation . . .”

“That which he says, ‘He shall send to Thee the rod of power out of Jerusalem,’ is predictive of the mighty word, which His apostles, going forth from Jerusalem, preached everywhere; and though death [by the powers of the state] is decreed against those who teach or at all confess the name of Christ, we everywhere both embrace and teach it. And if you also read these words in a hostile spirit, ye can do no more, as I said before, than kill us; which indeed does no harm to us, but to you and all who unjustly hate us, and do not repent, brings eternal punishment by fire.”

The Word in the World Before Christ
46 – What of all the people who lived before Christ’s incarnation 150 years ago?

“We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that He is the Word of whom every race of men were partakers; and those who lived reasonably are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists; as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them; and among the barbarians [?] Abraham, and Ananias, and Azarias, and Misael, and Elias, and many others whose actions and names we now decline to recount, because we know it would be tedious.” That is quite a statement – those who lived [in the past, before Christ] “reasonably” ARE Christians, even though they have been thought to be atheists!!

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