Thursday, April 12, 2018

Reading I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible, by Michael Heiser #2

Heiser i dare youI am continuing to read through I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. Heiser’s (and my) goal is to present the Bible as it is and not “protect people from the Bible.” He has YouTube videos which explain his take on most of these, and many other, biblical issues.  I am posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the theology are in blue below. I am using the Logos version of the book.

In the next sections Heiser looks at some of the most weird, and often horrific, Old Testament stories. These stories must be understood in terms of the contexts of Israel's worldview that the other nations had been given over to the rule of lesser, evil spiritual beings (Chemosh, Milkom etc.); and the overall biblical message about the need for God to rule, redeem and save the world. The people are not held up as examples, but as a way to show the need to submit to God's kingdom. The horrific stories of the rape of the Levite's concubine and Jepthah's sacrifice of his daughter in Judges show the need for a king chosen by God, like David. David is enabled by God to kill the giants, like Goliath, that were the offspring of these evil spiritual beings. Heiser sees Matthew's report of the raising of Jairus’ daughter to be framed as an "undoing" of the Jepthah story in which Jesus, God's ultimate Son and king, reclaims the area for the kingdom of God.

The appalling nature of this story (rape and murder in Gibeah), provides an appropriate context for God’s plan of redemption. It sets the worst of human nature against the need for divine rule. That would come in Old Testament times in the form of David, the chosen king, the man after God’s own heart. And from David, God would produce the King of kings, Jesus, whose mission was to save all humanity, not just Israel, from the curse of sin. 49

This is also the only Gospel event in which Jesus is addressed as “son of the Most High”—the title of God referenced in the Old Testament when the nations were divided and their people were put under other gods (Deut 32:8–9). The casting out of demons marked the onset of the kingdom of God in the Gospels (Matt 12:28). By casting out these demons in what used to be Gilead, Jesus is asserting His kingly dominion over that place. On His way back from accomplishing that mission, Jesus meets Jairus, whose daughter has died. Seeing his faith, Jesus raises his daughter. The gospel writer is, in literary terms, reversing the other horror of Gilead: the human sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter. Judges 11, Luke 8.40-56, 53–54

In the Old Testament, we read that the Israelites believed the gods of other nations were real, assigned to the nations by Yahweh, who was superior and ruled over all other gods (Deut 32:8–9). They believed these gods were demons—real spiritual beings (Deut 32:17). Given the nature of this worldview, it seems the Israelites were frightened by the sacrifice and lost faith, thinking Moab’s god was angry against them and would empower Moab to win because of the sacrifice...Yahweh was not defeated by the god of Moab. He was, and is, ready and able to help His people. But He will not do so if they refuse to believe and act on that belief. 2 Kings 3, 64–65

The next sections deal with some more unusual OT stories, Naaman's request of Elisha for dirt from Israel, God's war with sea monsters and his "need for a co-signer on his covenant; and some apparent contradictions between Samuel-Kings and Chronicles. He sees the lack of mention of David and Solomon's sins in Chronicles as due to a difference in authors' aims, not an attempt to deceive. I would agree. He also gives a plausible solution to the issue of who incited David's census, though his solution brings up other questions. The unusual stories can be explained by their cultural contexts (see quotes below). Naaman believed he needed to stand on Israel's holy ground to worship Israel's God. Thankfully, for us, Jesus has taken back all nations as His holy ground and sends the church out with the authority to reclaim it as we make disciples of all the nations.

Why would Yahweh incite David to do something for which He would later punish him? Both accounts begin by saying Yahweh was angry with Israel, not David. Yahweh chose to use David as His instrument of judgment against the nation, similar to the way He would use Nebuchadnezzar centuries later. As the Babylonian king was still accountable for His actions, so was David. Judgment (and its means) both belong to the LORD, but human agents are still accountable. 1 Chronicles 21, 2 Samuel 24, 73

God didn’t really fight a literal dragon at the beginning of creation. This imagery reflects the mindset of the ancient world, which viewed the sea as unpredictably violent and unable to be tamed. It frightened the ancients. Only the power of a mighty God could produce a habitable world from the chaotic sea—a deed portrayed as a battle with the untamed deep. God was victorious in this conflict, as told in Psalm 74. 78

Jesus, as the son of David, has fulfilled the Davidic covenant of Psalm 89. Since the New Testament presents Jesus as true deity incarnate (true God in flesh), and equal in nature with the God of the Old Testament, Jesus fulfills the role of witness-guarantor eternally. Psalm 89, Revelation 1.4-5, 82

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