1 Kings 9 (2): The Belly Flop of Compromise

Elegantly poised on the edge of the rippling water, the scene was a familiar summer fun selection. Would the next move be a smooth and sleek dive in with barely a ripple to follow? Would he take a few dramatic steps away from the water and jump high, holding his legs and “power bombing” those in the cool water as well as those sunning themselves at poolside? Neither. Full of promise he leaped toward the pool but miscalculated the effect those watching had on him. His elegance was transformed into a painful “belly flop”. Some who stood by groaned, as the heard the body strike the water. No one enjoyed the sound or the appearance of pain…

Key Principle: God revealed that blessing follows inner surrender to Him. When we become distracted by this world, we settle for outer appearances. The choice to be distracted by the world in our pursuit of following God leads to disaster.

There are Seven Steps to Compromise our Call:
1. Ignore God’s Word (9:3-9). God made promises, Solomon looked elsewhere…
In the year A.D. 303, the Roman Emperor Diocletian issued a decree that he hoped would extinguish the spreading flames of Christianity. One of his primary objectives was the seizure and destruction of the Christian Scriptures. Later that year, officials enforced the decree in North Africa. One of the targets was Felix, the Bishop of Tibjuca, a village near Carthage. The Roman authorities ordered Felix to hand over his Scriptures. Though some governors were willing to accept scraps of parchment, Felix refused to surrender the Word of God at the insistence of mere men. Resolutely, he resisted compromise before the proconsul at Carthage. Felix paid for his perseverance with his life. On July 15, he laid down his life – as the record puts it, “with pious obstinacy,” rather than surrender his scriptures.

2. Become Dependent on the World’s Goods for Affirmation (9:10-14) – Compromise Your Source of Affirmation! “Compromise is but the sacrifice of one right or good in the hope of attaining another – too often ending in the loss of both. Compromise is simply changing the question to fit the answer.”- Merrit Malloy

3. Adopt the World’s Answers for Success (9:15, 20-21).

4. Make Alliances the World’s Way (9:16-18,24).
Religious tolerance is not always a sign of good will. It can be a sign of careless, perhaps hypocritical religious indifference of the most high-handed philosophic relativism. It can also be a mask behind which to hide downright malice. During the Nazi era, for example, arguments for Christian openness to other perspectives were used by German Christians in an attempt to neuter the church’s protest against the neo-paganism of Hitler and his minions. The Confessing Church in Germany found in John 10 a theological basis to stand against Hitler. There are times in which the only way to keep alive the non-vindictive, nonjudgmental, self-sacrificing witness of Jesus Christ is to stand with rude dogmatism on the rock that is Jesus Christ, condemning all compromise as the work of the Antichrist. SOURCE: Ronald Goetz in “Exclusivistic Universality” (Christian Century, April 21, 1993). “If our language has appeared to some strong and severe, or even intemperate, let the gentlemen pause for a moment and reflect on the importance and gravity of the subject… We had to deal with human life. In a matter of this importance we could entertain no compromise.” The American Medical Association, 1981, in a report opposing abortion. Quoted in Marvin Olasky’s The Press and Abortion, 1838-1988.

5. Focus on Personal Pleasure (9:19).
Chuck Swindoll said, “The swift wind of compromise is a lot more devastating than the sudden jolt of misfortune.” IT’S LIKE THE LITTLE BOY WHO PRAYED ONE NIGHT BEFORE HE WENT TO BED, “DEAR GOD, MAKE ME GOOD BUT NOT TOO GOOD, JUST GOOD ENOUGH SO I DON’T GET A WHIPPING” (sermon central illustrations)

6. Draw in Others Who Follow You (9:22-23).
The AD agency Young & Rubicam claim brands have replaced religious faith in giving meaning to people’s lives. The ad agency says that successful ’belief brands,’ such as Calvin Klein, Microsoft and Nike, work because they have fun and refuse to compromise their core beliefs. (The Net Economy 3/19/01) Author Stephen Covey believes that about 90 or so years ago our society and culture began to be more concerned with, (and I am paraphrasing Covey here) a ‘winning personality’ rather than a ‘winning character.’

7. Keep the Religious Front Working (9:25).
The story is told that John Wesley, a founder of Methodism, changed his view about church division after a dream in which he was first transported to the gates of Hell. He asked, “Are there any Presbyterians here?” “Yes,” was the reply. “Any Roman Catholics?” “Yes.” “Any Congregationalists?” “Yes.” He hesitated, then said, “Not any Methodists, I hope!” To his dismay the answer was “Yes.” Suddenly in his dream he stood at the gate of Heaven. Once again he asked, “Are there any Presbyterians here?” “No,” was the reply. “Any Roman Catholics?” “No.” “Any Congregationalists?” “No.” Then he asked the question which most interested him: “Are there any Methodists here?” He was shocked to receive the same stern reply, “No!” “Well then,” he asked in surprise, “please tell me who IS in Heaven?” “CHRISTIANS!” was the jubilant answer. It is not your brand that gets you in – but your heart commitment to Jesus! (sermon central illustrations).

The problem is not that we flop, it is that we flop while pretending to ourselves and those around us that we made an elegant dive. We are in pain, but we don’t show it, because that would be embarrassing. We hide, and hurt alone – simply because we won’t walk in our call. The choice to be distracted by the world leads us to disaster.

1 Thessalonians 2: Ten Qualities of Godly Parenting

The Bible is filled with practical words for dads that struggle! Children are not unlike wet cement, that will conform in part to the mold they are formed in. Dads provide some unique positive qualities that can be helpful in raising godly children and grandchildren.  In our text note that Paul uses both the role of the mother (2:7) and the father (2:11) to illustrate his relationship with a group of his “spiritual children”. We can see these as a model for both spiritual and physical children.

Key Principle: Godly parenting can be measured, has a revealed set of guidelines and a specific goal.

Quality #1: Active attempts at caring communication. “We proved to be gentle among you”. (gentle is epios; from epo as in epoch, a word or communication). We openly tried to communicate with you in a caring manner (2:7a).

Quality #2: Focus on the thriving and comfort of the child. “as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children”. (tenderly is thalpo likely from thallo “to warm” or to encircle with warmth). We deliberately focused on how you were feeling and doing to raise you as a healthy child (2:7b).

Quality #3: Sincere yearning to be with the child. “Having so fond an affection for..” (affection is himaromai: yearning). We wouldn’t wait to be with you and loved spending any time we could with you. You are a privilege and a blessing, not just a responsibility! (2:8a).

Quality #4: Consistent choices of preference to share both intimate time and heart insights with the child. “We were well pleased to impart the gospel and our lives..” (well pleased is eudokeo or ‘preferred’ which demonstrated choices; lives is psuche or souls). We kept choosing to open our very heart and spend any time possible with you. (2:8b).

Quality #5: Constant sensitivity to what the child can handle. “working so as to not be a burden to you..” We did what we needed to in order that no undue weight would be placed upon you. (2:9). Colossians 3:21 makes this case for dads not to exasperate (erithidzo: stir or stimulate to an inappropriate response from eris: conflict or wrangling) their children- or the children will “lose heart”. (2:9a).

Quality #6: Deliberately persuading the child of God’s truth. “we proclaimed the gospel of God”. (proclaim is from kerudzo: to persuade.) We worked to convince you that what God’s Word said is true! (2:9b).

Quality #7: Authentic modeling of right choices. “You are witnesses and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you.” (devout is hosios: undefiled, clean; dikaios is actively observing and living out right choices; blamelessly is “without charge for unpaid debt.” We carefully modeled clean living, right choices and left nothing outstanding to be cared for later! (2:10).

Quality #8: Pointed toward instruction. “you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring”. (exhorting is paraklete or called alongside to help as in apprenticing them; encouraging is paramutheomai: beside myth (story) to soothe- or better a woven speech planned to soothe the heart; imploring is marturomai: strongly bear witness, particularly in times of conflict. We instructed by working along with you, sometimes using soothing words when you needed to be lifted, other times using strong words to keep truth as the standard in your life! (2:11).

Quality #9: Individually tailored. “each one of you”. We evaluated each one of your personalities and situations and shared what was valuable in your situation and way of learning. (2:11).

Quality #10: Clear goal of building character and forming proper commitment to God. “So that you would walk in a manner worthy of God..” (walk is peripateo: to make one’s way; manner is axios is consistent checked standard weights of the agora for counterbalances. We always worked toward building your character and shaping a consistent commitment to a life worthy of your calling in Messiah. (2:12).

Godly parenting can be measured, has a revealed set of guidelines and a specific goal.

Who were priests and who were Levites?

The Priest and Levites of the Tabernacle

The operations of the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) were in the hands of one extended family as mandated in the Torah. Instructions for the Levitical and Priestly offices are outlined in the Book of Leviticus (Vayikra) as follows:

Offerings   1:1 – 7:3

Priests  8 8:1-10:20

Regulations on Sacrifices, etc.   11:1 – 27:34

These important positions were given exclusively to the sons of Levi, the third son of Jacob (by Leah). Levi had three sons (in order of birth): Gershon, Kohath and Merrari. The importance of Levi is nowhere hinted in the Genesis record, in fact the later importance of Levi is an evidence against the total redaction of the Genesis text. For those who are critical of the text, an importance evidence of its early date is found in the lack of special words for Levi. Further, one wonder why Gen. 34:25-31 would have remained in the text if it were written after the formation of the Levites as a religious power. Genesis closes with a curse on Levi (Gen. 49:5-7) for the crime at Shechem! The term “Priest” is much more restricted than “Levite”. Priests were specific kinds of Levites, sons of Kohath through Aaron and his sons. As a result, all Kohathites were Levites, but not all Levites were Kohathites (some were Merrarites and others Gershonites, simply referred to as Levites). Additionally, all priests were Kohathites, but not all Kohathites were priests (since Kohath had other sons beside Amram the father of Aaron- see Ex. 6:18 for Izhar, Hebron, Uzziel; cp. Num. 3:17-20, 27-31).

Each of the Levites had specific work assigned to them in the maintenance and transportation of the Tabernacle:

-The Gershonites were charged with the transportation of the tent, curtains, hangings of the court and door, and the rope cords. When the camp was set up and the Tabernacle placed in the center of the camp, they encamped immediately outside the west of the structure (in the back). They were allotted two wagons and four oxen to transport the fabrics (Num. 7:7).

-The four families of the Kohathites included many not in the priestly line of Aaron. These were charged with the responsibility of carrying the Ark, Table, Menorah, Altars and vessels. All were covered with individual coverings (Num. 4:1-20) and were carried by hand, with no carts assigned to their family. The Kohathites encamped immediately adjacent to the south of the Tabernacle.

-The sons of Merrari were charged with the responsibility of transporting the wood and metal work of the Tabernacle. They moved the boards, pillars, sockets and cords of the courtyard in four wagons pulled by eight oxen (Num. 7:8). Their place in the camp was immediately north of the Tabernacle.

Exodus: How many people traveled to Mt. Sinai?

Problems with understanding the Exodus account may be partly our own making.

A foundational story of the Bible is the encounter of the children of Israel with their God at the “Mountain of the Law” (Exodus 19ff). Though the story is critical as a formational cornerstone for the Hebrews, and despite the fact that it is the most important event of the tiny Sinai Peninsula, the Exodus is shrouded in mystery. The timing of the events as well as the number of participants has been hotly debated.


The Bible record of the Exodus illustrates a debate in scholarly circles of the reliability of the Bible as a legitimate historical source. A great number of modern scholars have doubted the veracity of the record of the Exodus in the Bible. Critics are not difficult to find. Though they have highlighted some of the problematic aspects of the record, there are still a significant number of Bible students (like this writer) that find merit in the literal and historical approach to the story. In these academic circles there are scholars that believe the Biblical narrative be an accurate record of a real historical journey.


Read the whole text:

Understanding the Exodus from Egypt

Understanding the Wilderness Tabernacle

As many of you know, for about seven years, I directed a project to rebuild a full scale 1:1 replica of the Tabernacle of Moses in Israel. After thousands of visitors went through, we eventually had to shut it down due to the constant tensions in the region. Visitors bought a booklet when they went through that included the information in this article. 

Understanding the Wilderness Tabernacle

A replica in the Judean Desert

 Introduction:

The Tabernacle or “tent of meeting” was the place where the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob met with His people (Ex. 25:8; Num. 17:7-8). It was a place for the leaders and people to come together in holy convocation and observe the necessary sacrifices instructed by God. It was built according to a design given by God himself (Ex. 25:9). The design was etched into Jewish memory as a place most significant, demonstrated by the forty-six chapters of the Hebrew Bible that are devoted to its construction and worship (13 chapters in Exodus, 18 chapters in Leviticus, 13 in Numbers, 2 in Deuteronomy). God instructed every facet of its construction, and ordered it set up exactly one year after the Passover that set the people free from bondage (Ex. 40:2,17).

Our replica at Kibbutz Almog is not exactly like the original built by Moses and the children ofIsrael, because there are many details that were not given in the Hebrew Bible to disclose the exact appearance of the original. Educated speculation was used to compose the replica we present to you. Using the Hebrew Bible, along with the teachings and ideas of the Sages, we have followed the pattern given as closely as we were able. Where debates and disagreements existed in the rabbinical record, we have simply chosen a position that seemed suitable, always in complete harmony with the sense of the Biblical text. The sizes conform to the Biblical account, as do the surfaces in appearance.

The Name of the Tabernacle

The term tabernacle is derived from a Latin form, and generally means “a tent or temporary dwelling”. Two Hebrew terms for the Tabernacle of Moses are used in the Hebrew Bible:

1. Mishkan (mish-kawn’): a residence or hut. This term is also used of an animal den, a shepherd’s temporary shelter, or a tent. This is the most common term for the Tabernacle in Exodus, and is taken from the primary root shakan (shaw-kan’), which means to reside or dwell within.

2. Ohel (o’-hel): a tent or place of dwelling. Used often in the Exodus account, this term is apparently derived from the word ‘ahal (aw-hal’), or “to be clear” (as in obvious) or “to shine”. Scholars believe the connection was the obvious conspicuous presence of a tent as a place of residence and hospitality in the desert that linked the term “conspicuous” with the term for a tent. The Psalmists appear to prefer this term for the place of God’s dwelling.

The Purposes of the Tabernacle

The Tabernacle was a place where God met at least three needs of the Israelites in their travels through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. First, the people had a need for a visual place of worship. When Moses went up into the mountain of the law, he did not return for forty days (Ex. 32:1) and the people grew impatient. They combined their golden earrings (the symbol of their former slavery) and fashioned a golden calf (32:4). Though a clear act of disobedience, it demonstrated that the people felt the need for something visual to illustrate the God they followed. After ten generations of slavery, fashioning elaborately decorated temples for foreign gods of the Egyptians, it is no wonder they wanted a visual of their own God. Had they only waited, they would have discovered that God understood their need, and provided the plans for the Tabernacle, complete with the Holy Ark of stunning gold.

Second, the Israelites also had a need for formation, to bond together as a people working on a common goal. The other parts of the Mosaic covenant gave the people instructions to obey, but nothing in the law gave them so clear an immediate common objective. This was a positive opportunity to become organized in a task. Every willing person could bring a gift (35:5). The skilled women could spin the tapestry; the skilled men could begin to build (35:10). Teachers and leaders were brought together to organize the effort (35:29-35).

A third need the Tabernacle met for the Israelites was also illustrated by the story of disobedience with the golden calf. With the extended absence of Moses (32:1), the people showed the need to see their leader meeting with God. They needed to sense the presence of God with them and with their leader. Truly this is recognized by God’s specific promise that He would meet with them there (Ex. 25:22).

The Tabernacle was not only a place where God met the needs of the people, but it was also a place where He tested the obedience of the people. There are at least two tests that can be observed. First, the Israelites were tested in their generosity. The newly set free slaves of the Exodus had spent their lives in a lowly state. They toiled hard (Ex. 1:11) without gaining most of the spoils of their work until the time of the first Passover, when the fearful Egyptians suddenly gave them great wealth (Ex. 12:32-36). They leftEgypt with the greatest combined wealth the children of Jacob had ever known. The Tabernacle was a place where God gave them the opportunity to give their first free will offering to Him (Ex. 25:2) out of their new found wealth.

Another test for the Israelites was one of obedience. The Tabernacle had a specific design that they were to follow and not vary (Ex. 25:9). The work was difficult (it required Divine wisdom – cp. Ex. 35:35), and the designs were intricate. Transporting such a building and all of the vessels would tax the people and their ability to move in the wilderness. Just the transportation of the Holy Ark was a major task. The existence of such a building as a symbol for people who were forced into a nomadic lifestyle was powerful.

The Journey of the Tabernacle

In function, the Tabernacle was a portable place of worship for the Israelites. Born out of the most difficult circumstances, the sanctuary was first erected in the desert, on the journey from the Mountain of the Law (Sinai), to the Promised Land. It was built by artisans who had been trained to build cities and temples for the Egyptian taskmasters. Because the people were on a journey, a permanent shrine was inappropriate, so this moveable version was to be the center of their religious life. The Tabernacle was dismantled for each leg of the journey, theArkand two altars were carried by the sons of Kohath (the Levite) and the remainder of it was moved by 6 covered wagons pulled by oxen (Num. 7).

From the time of the instruction at Sinai (some time between 1600-1300 BCE), to the building of theTempleatJerusalemby Solomon (950 BCE) the Tabernacle and its furnishings were central to the religious foundation of the Israelites. The Tabernacle stood in the desert at Kadesh with the Israelites for 35 years (cp. Amos 5:25), and the Israelite advances included the Holy Ark (Num. 10:33-36).

The Holy Ark with the Mercy Seat cover was very much a part of key events and battles. These events include the crossing over the Jordan River (Josh. 3:6); the march onJericho(6:6); the establishment of a worship center at Shiloh (1 Sam. 1:3); and the celebration of the conquest ofJerusalemby David (2 Sam. 6). It remained at least until theTemplewas built (circa 930 BCE). So related to the early victories of the Israelites, it was poetically recalled as “the ark of God’s strength” (Ps. 132:8). The power of the presence of God is nowhere more clear than the story of theArk’s travels after the Philistine’s took it in the battle of Ebenezer (1 Sam. 4-7).

Though not specifically described, the Tabernacle may have been first erected in the “Promised Land” at Gilgal (Josh. 4:19) after the Israelites crossed over theJordan River. The structure was then moved onto the Benjamin plateau at Shiloh, and remained so long it took on a sense of permanency (hence referred to as a “temple” – 1 Sam. 1:9; 3:3). With the heavier rains and colder temperatures of the mountains, some scholars feel the fabric tent, which had worked well in the desert, was retired in favor of a more durable structure. The excavations atShilohbear a northern flat area of the approximate size that may have been for that purpose.

Because so much of the specific design is part of the Hebrew Bible, the courts, posts and pieces of Holy Furniture can be approximated. Each part of the construction is detailed in both the Bible and Rabbinic writings.

Posts and Courtyard Enclosure (Ex. 27:9-15,17-19; 38:9-17, 20; 40:33)

(Court: Heb. khaw-tsare’, a yard from a verb form to surround, a stockade, a separation; post: Heb. ‘am-mood’, a stand as in a pillar or column from the verb ‘amad, to stand).

The first part of the Tabernacle that you can observe is the “Outer Court”, an area 100 cubits long (150 feet) and 50 cubits across (75 feet), a great rectangle barrier made of a hanging fabric fence five cubits (about 7.5 feet) high. On each side of the enclosure pillars of acacia wood, topped with caps of silver held the fabric. Rods or bands of silver were also connected to the wood.

On the south side of the courtyard, there was a hangings of fine twined linen (probably like meshwork) 100 cubits (150 feet) long. To hold the hanging, there were 20 pillars, with 20 bases of bronze (copper). The hooks on the pillars and their fillets (bands or bars) were made of silver. Opposite the south side, the north side of the courtyard enclosure was made in an identical way.

To the west (rear) side of the enclosure, a hanging of 50 cubits (75 feet) was made. To hold the hanging, 10 pillars were made with bases of bronze (copper). Again, the hooks and bands on the pillars were made of silver. Closed at the corners, this closed the rear from any entry.

On the east side, an opening that functioned as the door was centered (see below: “The Door to the Enclosure”). The opening was 20 cubits wide (or about 30 feet). From each corner 15 cubit wide hangings (about 22.5 feet) extended from the corners on either side of door. Three pillars held the hangings on each side of the door (each with sockets as other sides of the enclosure). All of the anchoring pegs of the courtyard were made of bronze (copper).

The Door to the Enclosure (Ex. 27:16, 38:18-19)

(Door: Heb. shah’-ar, an opening from the verb shaw-ar’ to split or make open)

The courtyard was oriented with its only opening to the east. This side was 50 cubits wide (75 feet) with a centered opening of 20 cubits (about 30 feet) that acted as the gate to the entire enclosure. The gate screen measured the size of the opening, and may have covered the opening, or may have been pulled away from the white enclosure.

The Biblical description defines a fine twined linen (“sheshet” cloth, probably open weave) door screen 20 cubits (30 feet) long and 5 cubit high (7-1/2 feet) that was embroidered in blue, purple and scarlet thread (probably wool). There are some rabbinic records that suggest this measurement was a summary and the entire screen was actually built at the height of 15 cubits (22-1/2 feet). The gate had 4 pillars set in 4 brass or copper bases, and hooks and fillets of silver.

The Brazen (Copper) Altar (Ex. 27:1-8; 38:1-7; 40:29)

(Bronze/brass/copper: Heb. nekh-o’-sheth, copper or something made of copper, later used of brass; altar: Heb. miz-bay’-akh, an altar, from the verb zaw-bakh’, to slaughter or sacrifice).

Upon entering the great enclosure, two of the furnishings stood out in the open air – the Brazen Altar and the Laver. Closest to the door was the altar. At 5 cubits square and 3 cubits high, the altar was made of acacia wood and overlaid with copper (brass). Built as one piece with the altar each corner had a raised area called a “horn” because of its shape.

A mesh grating was also made of copper. This grating was placed inside the altar halfway down from the top ledge. Made with four rings attached to its corners, it was inserted into the hollow area created by the four altar walls. The four rings probably aided in removing the mesh. Four copper rings were made and attached to the outside of the altar, placed on each corner. Poles were made of acacia wood and overlaid with copper, and could be used to transport the altar shell. Each pole was passed through two of the rings, so that the poles were on two sides of the altar when it was carried. Some have suggested the mesh could also be removed by using the poles. Pots were made to receive the ashes from the altar. Shovels, basins, forks and fire pans were also made of copper.

Rabbi Rashi, in a Talmudic commentary, says the altar sat upon a 1 cubit high base, and the altar walls (hollow in the center) acted like a container. Other commentators said the altar had no base at all.

The Laver (Ex. 30:17-21; 38:8; 40:30-32)

(Laver: Heb. kee-yore’, something round or bored like a pit, a washbowl, from an unused root koor’,  to dig through, a pot or furnace).

Continuing toward theHoly Place, but still in the open court, A copper washstand stood, made with a copper base. It was filled with water for the priests to wash hands and feet before entering the tent or before sacrificing on the altar. They washed their feet and their hands. The washstand was a large pot with 2 spigots. The Bible records it was made of the polished copper mirrors of the women that assembled at the door of the congregation.

Door (Screen) to The Holy Place (Ex. 26:36,37; 36:37:38; 40:28)

(Screen: Heb. maw-sawk’ , a veil or screen from a root word saw-kak’ , to entwine or embroider, by implication to cover, to protect).

Standing before the tent of theHoly Place, a screen veil hung as the door to the structure. Made of blue, purple and scarlet thread (probably wool) woven on fine twined linen, it was embroidered with needlework. It measured 10 cubits square (about 15 feet). Five pillars of acacia wood overlaid with gold were supporting the screen. Hooks of gold protruded from the pillars to hold the screen in place. Each of the five pillars stood in its own base of bronze (or copper).

The Coverings

(Covering: Heb. yer-ee-aw’ ,a hanging curtain,

from the root yaw-rah’ , to be broken up).

Draped over the outside of the wooden enclosure around theHoly Placewe observe tent coverings. There is substantial debate over the number of fixed coverings that were placed over theHoly Place. The difficulty stems from the Biblical text’s detailed description of the linen covering, a detailed description of the goat hair covering, followed by single sentence descriptions of the last two coverings. As a result, it is possible that ram’s skin and tachash (an animal of uncertain description) coverings may be a covering for the transportation of the tent materials, or may be a description of the roof (as we are showing).

The Goat Hair Covering (Ex. 26:7-13; 36:14-18; 40:19)

(Goat hair: Heb. ay-zim’ plural form of she goat, used as goat hair).

Along the north, south and west sides, we can see goat hair woven into panels. In the Biblical description, eleven panels were made of goat’s hair, each panel 30 cubits long (about 45 feet) and four cubits wide (about 6 feet). Five of the panels were sewn together, and the other six were sewn together, leaving two pieces. Fifty loops were made (presumably of goat hair) along the edge of the two pieces corresponding to one another (each about 10-3/4 inches apart). Fifty copper (or brass) tasches (hooks or knobs) were made to clasp the pieces together. When buttoned together, it made one whole covering. The panel above the entrance door was doubled (probably 2 cubits wide folded over above the door and overhanging). The extra material pulled around to the rear of the building.

The Roof: The Ram’s Skin Dyed Red (Ex. 26:14a; 36:19a) and

The Tachash (Ex. 26:14b; 36:19b)

(Covering: Heb. yer-ee-aw’ ,a hanging curtain,

from the root yaw-rah’ , to be broken up).

The description of the erection of the Tabernacle simply states that Moses put up the tent and the cover (suggesting one cover over the linen and not the three additional coverings, cp. Ex. 40:19). Several rabbis argued that the third and fourth covering were on the top of the building as a roof, not covering the sides. In this case, they suggested that two materials were sewn together into one covering. It was only visible from the top of the building, not on the sides. One material was the ram’s skin that was dyed red, and made as a covering for the tent. No size or shape was specified. In addition, the “tachash” skin (transliterated because we are uncertain what it was) was to be used as a covering for the tent. This look of this animal is also uncertain. Some have suggested a grey waterproof and expanding material like the skin of a marine animal. Others have translated the skin as a manatee, a large shark, a beaver, and a variety of other ideas.

The Boards, Tenons, Sockets and Bars (Ex. 26:15-30; 36:20-34; 40:18)

(Boards: Heb. keh-resh’ , from a root to split off, a slab or plank, bench or board; Tenons: Heb. yaw-thade’ , from a root meaning to pin, peg or fasten; sockets: Heb. eh’-den , a base, a foundation of strength, from the root aw-done’, to rule or be in control; bars: Heb. ber-ee’-akh , bars from baw-rakh, to bolt (also used to flee away).

Stepping into theHoly Place, impressive gold covered walls surrounded you. The walls consisted of 48 beams were made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. Each beam was 10 cubits high by 1-1/2 cubits (about 27”) wide by 1 cubit thick (about 18”). The width of the boards is not stated in the Bible, but if the six boards go across the west, and the interior width of theHoly Placeis 10 cubits, the board width can be calculated as 1 cubit.  A groove was made in the bottom of each beam to create 2 pegs (called tenons). Twenty beams were placed in forty silver sockets on the south side, and twenty more beams were placed in forty silver sockets on the north side. On the western wall, six beams spanned the wall, with two additional beams set in the corners (a total of eight). Sixteen silver bases were constructed for this wall.

Holding the walls together, in addition to the sockets at ground level, were five strips (or bars) of acacia wood were laid horizontally across the beams on each side of the tent. The middle bar was continuous from one end to the other of the wall it was supporting, and may have been drawn through the boards (36:33). The strips were held on by metal rings, which were nailed to the beams. All of the beams and the strips were overlaid with gold.

 

The Linen Covering (Ex. 26:1-6; 36:8-13; 40:19)

(Linen: Heb. shaysh , white woven linen, sometimes used as alliteration from meh-shee’ ,  from a cocoon or silk).

Inside the Holy place, the view to the ceiling was stunning. Ten separate panels of fine twined linen were woven, each twenty-eight cubits long (about 42 feet) and four cubits wide (about 6 feet). According to the Biblical description, each panel had cherubim of blue, purple and scarlet embroidered on them with thread (probably wool). The look of the Cherubim is uncertain. Rabbi Rashi taught the cherubim pattern appeared like that of a lion and an eagle.

Five of these tapestries were sewn together, as were the second set of five, leaving two pieces. Fifty loops of blue were made on the edge of the end tapestry in each of these two sets of tapestries (each about 10 inches apart). Fifty clasps of gold were made. These threaded through the loops of the two sets of tapestries, so that the two sets were connected together.

Table of Bread of Presence (Shewbread)

(Ex. 25:23-30; 26:35; 37:10-16; 40:22-23)

(Shewbread: Heb. le-khem pan-im’, literally “bread of

the face”, used as bread ever before, in My Presence).

On the inside of theHoly Placewere three pieces of furniture: a table (on the north wall side), a golden altar (centered near the curtain), and a lampstand (on the south side). The table was fashioned of acacia wood and covered with gold. The table surface was 2 cubits long (about 3 feet), 1 cubit wide (about 18”) and 1-1/2 cubits high (about 27”). A molding of gold was made around the top like a crown. A second molding of gold was one handbreadth inside the outer molding. The edge was entirely framed in gold.

Four gold rings were made and fastened to the four corners at the legs. The rings were used as holders for the poles to carry the table. The poles were also made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. Plates (pans) for bread, dishes for incense, and bowls to pour libations (drink offerings) were made of gold. Bread was kept on the table, always present before God.

The Incense Altar (Ex. 30:1-10; 30:34-38; 37:25-28; 40:26-27)

(Incense: Heb. ket-o’-reth , a fumigation or sweet smelling perfume,

from verb kaw-tar’ , to smoke out occupants from a closed place)

In front of the veil to theMost Holy Place, an altar of acacia wood was made for burning of incense. Shaped as a box, it stood 2 cubits high, and had a surface of1 Cubit Square. Each corner had a horn extending from it, made as one piece with the altar. The altar was completely covered with pure gold. A molding (rim) of gold was placed around it, perhaps just below the horns (The Biblical record does not say exactly where, and Rabbinic opinion varies).

Two gold rings were made and attached to the corners along the molding (rim). These rings may have been on each side, or possibly on opposite corners. It is difficult from the narrative to tell if there were a total of two or four rings. These held the staves for transportation of the altar. The staves (poles) were also covered with gold.

The normal use of this altar was the burning of a sweet incense (described in Exodus 30:34-38) each morning and each evening when the lamps were trimmed. Though it was not to be used for any other incense, and no drink offering was poured upon it (as well as no meat offerings), there was a special offering one time each year that was not incense. Once a year the horns were sprinkled with the blood of the sin offering as an atonement symbol.

The Menorah (Ex. 25:31-40; 26:35; 27:20-21; 37:17-24; 40:24,25)

(Cups: Heb. gheb-ee’-ah , from an unused root meaning to be convex, a goblet or cup, the bell of a flower; knobs: Heb. kaf-tore’ , from root to encircle, the capital of a column or a disk; blossoms: Heb. prakh-ee’-ah , bud of flower or blossom, from the verb paw-rakh’ , to break forth as a bud or blossom).

Along the south wall stood a lampstand of pure gold, a menorah. Beaten from one talent (58 to 80 lbs.) of solid gold, it was made as a single piece with a base, stem, decorative cups, orbs (almond shaped) and flowers fashioned from the same block of gold. In design, it featured a center upright stick, which had three branches extending from each side. Each branch extended from an orb at the joint, and contained three embossed almond-shaped cups, a disk (orb), and a blossom. The center shaft displayed four almond-shaped cups, with knobs and blossoms (maybe four of each).

The top of the stand held seven lamps (six on branches and one in the center) that were filled with oil and lit with wicks. The lamps were filled with a special olive oil (beaten not pressed) and burned continuously. They were positioned to give light on the space in front of the menorah (toward the center of the room), with all wicks facing the center stem. The lamp snuffers and trays along with a set of tongs were fashioned from gold, and used each morning and evening to service the lamps.

The Veil of the Holy Place (Ex. 26:31-33; 36:35,36)

(Veil: Heb. po-reh’keth , a separator from an unused

verb root – peh’rek , to break apart, fracture.)

Guarding theMost Holy Placefrom view, there was a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet thread (probably wool) woven on fine twined linen. Adorning the curtain were cherubim, which have been pictured in a variety of ways (Rashi said they were like the figure of a lion on one side and a figure of an eagle of the other side.) Some rabbis held the curtain was a handbreadth thick (Shekalim 8:5), while others thought this to be the size of the pole and clearance of the curtain from its hooks.

The curtain was hung on 4 pillars of acacia wood, which were overlaid with gold and were attached with hooks of gold. Each pillar was placed in a base of silver.

The Holy Ark and Mercy Seat (Ex. 25:10-22; 26:34; 37:1-9; 40:20,21)

(Ark: Heb. aw-rone’ , a box or gathering place from verb aw-rah’ , to gather or pluck; Mercy Seat: Heb. kap-po’-reth , only used of the top of the Holy Ark, from the primary root verb kaw-far’ to cover with (originally a maritime word for covering a boat with bitumen), used in a figurative sense to appease or pacify.)

Inside theMost Holy Place, a solitary piece of furniture sat in isolation from the rest of the tented building. Surrounded on three sides by walls of gold, and on the fourth by the curtain adorned with guardian cherubim, The Holy Ark was essentially a wood box overlaid with gold. Made of acacia wood, it measured 2-1/2 cubits long (about 45”), 1-1/2 cubits wide (about 27”) and stood 1-1/2 cubits high (about 27”). Covered with a layer of pure gold both inside and out, a gold rim was fashioned around the top. (According to some commentators the artisan Bezalel made 3 boxes – an inner gold box, a middle box of plain wood and an outer box of gold).

On the outer corners, four gold rings were cast for the ark and placed on each corner. (Rashi said they were placed on the upper third of the ark. Ramban said the rings were fixed at the bottom corners). Two carrying poles were made of acacia wood, and covered with a layer of gold. The poles were placed through the rings and were not to be removed.

On top of theArk, a lid of pure gold was positioned. Its size matched the surface area of the box (2-1/2 cubits long and 1-1/2 cubits wide). The lid was beaten from a block of gold, and had two gold cherubim (keruvim) on top. Facing each other from the two ends, the wings of the cherubim were spread upward over the lid of the Holy Ark. The cherubim faced each other, but their faces inclined downward toward the lid. The exact appearance of the cherubim is not known. Some Commentators wrote the cherubim facial features were like those of a child. Still others interjected that one cherub was male and the other one was female, both childlike in appearance. Some commentators suggest a distance of ten handbreadths between the lid surface and the top of the outstretched wings.

The lid was referred to in the Hebrew Bible as the “mercy seat”, where the Shechinah (manifest presence of the Most High) met with the High Priest to offer instruction for the people. The Bible says theArkcontained the testimony (stone tablets) of the covenant.


Philemon: When two believers can't get along

It isn’t always easy, this thing we call the Body of Christ. The church is well described with the old ditty Chuck Swindoll used to quote: “To dwell above with saint we love, oh that will be glory. To dwell below with saints we know, well, that’s another story.” Ever feel like that toward another believer? What should we do it we truly have a dispute and feel we have been deeply wronged. Matthew 18 may set the table, but Philemon shows how the meal was served!

The Epistle to Philemon

“Ten Steps to Repairing a Breach between Believers”

  1. Acknowledge the injured party – don’t bury the offense in love. (11a).
  2. Recognize the value of the offender as well as the offended (11b).
  3. Bring the parties face to face (12a).
  4. Put your heart into their restoration, this is not simply an intellectual exercise! (12b).
  5. State the rights of the injured and enlist their insights to the solution (13-14a).
  6. Offer the injured party the means to respond willingly in the repair of the relationship (14b).
  7. Look for and express a Heavenly perspective if you can, God was at work in this relationship even in the difficult times (15-16).
  8. Be direct in asking the parties to forgive each other (17).
  9. Be willing to serve in the restitution of the relationship, it may cost you something, but the payoff is a restored relationship (18-19).
  10. Anticipate the best in the parties, encouraging them to act responsibly toward the Word of God and the relationship (20-21).

Titus: Building a Church that Honors God

The “Pastoral Epistles” offer a window into the first century church, as well as a great architectural diagram of how the body was to be built from the foundation up. This study includes some word studies at the end that leaders in the local church context may well find helpful!

The Epistle of Paul to Titus

The Author of the Letter:

  1. Name: Paul = “little”; Shaul (Hebrew name) = “asked”
  1. Place of Birth: Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia in southeastern Asia Minor (Acts 22:3).
  1. Occupation, role, or title: A tentmaker by trade, his livelihood (Acts 18:3; 20:34; 1Cor. 4:12); once a zealous persecutor of the primitive church (Acts 8:1-3); after his conversion, the most effective missionary of early Christianity and, as traditional author of 14 NT epistles, the church’s first theologian.
  1. Place of Death: Rome (Eusebius, Church History, Bk. 2, Ch. 25).
  1. Important facts about the person’s life: Paul was born of Jewish parents in Tarsus, capital of the Roman province of Cilicia, probably about 5 CE. He inherited Roman citizenship from his father, a status that would prove of great use to Paul during his ministry. His early years were spent in Tarsus where he probably acquired the trade of tent making (or perhaps leatherworking). As a young man, Paul—then still called “Saul”—went to Jerusalem, where he studied under the famous Jewish sage Gamaliel and became exceedingly “zealous toward God” (Acts 22:3) and the things of the law. For Paul, this included persecuting the nascent Christian church, both in Jerusalem and in far-flung cities (Acts 26:9-11). Indeed, he first appeared in the early Messianic record as one witnessing and consenting to the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58ff). However, after his dramatic conversion experience on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) Paul became as zealous for the cause of Christ as he had once been in opposition to it.

After a three-year sojourn in Arabia (probably southern Jordan, then held by Arabs) and then visiting both Damascus and Jerusalem again (Gal. 1:15ff), Paul apparently returned for a few years to his native Tarsus. From there, Barnabas called Paul to help with the burgeoning work in Antioch where they labored together for a year or more (Acts 11:25-26). The Antioch church ordained the two as missionaries, and Paul then undertook a series of three missionary journeys, between about 45 and 58 CE.

  • The first journey (45-47 CE; Acts 13:4—14:28) took Paul and Barnabas through the island of Cyprus, then the southeastern part of Asia Minor, planting communities of believers.
  • On the second journey (51-54 CE; Acts 15:40—18:22) Silas and Timothy accompanied the Apostle west across Asia Minor and into Europe, as far as Corinth in Greece.
  • The third journey (54-58 CE; Acts 18:23—21:15), covering much of the same territory, included over two years at Ephesus, and its return leg constituted Paul’s final journey to Jerusalem.

Paul was arrested in Jerusalem (circa 61 CE) following a riot in the Temple and later appeared before the successive Roman governors Felix and—after two years in prison—Festus, in Caesarea Maritima. Appealing his case to the emperor (Acts 25:10-12), Paul was sent to Rome and, after being shipwrecked (probably on the island of Malta), arrived there probably in the first half of the year 62 CE (Acts 28:16). The Book of Acts ends with Paul in Rome, preaching while under house arrest and awaiting trial. (Some have conjectured, based primarily on material in 2 Timothy 4, that Paul was initially acquitted in Rome, then engaged in further missionary activity, and finally underwent a second imprisonment; some also presume these events to have been recounted in a lost epilogue to the Luke-Acts narrative.) Church tradition says that Paul was beheaded in Rome sometime during the reign of Nero (54-68 CE).

The Recipient of the Letter  (The Church Planter – Titus)

The mission church planter Titus probably came to Jesus during the preaching and teaching ministry of Paul (Titus 1:4), and became his disciple shortly after. Titus accompanied Paul to Jerusalem in 50 CE for the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:2; Gal. 2:1-3) and became an example of the stand the early church had on the Gentile need for circumcision (Paul was not required to circumcise Titus, as he was a Gentile). Titus took direction from Paul and was sent by the Apostle to Corinth as a representative (see 2 Corinthians 7 and 8). He carried Paul’s letter (2 Corinthians) to the church. Later, Paul left Titus in Crete to establish churches, and probably later replaced him on that field with Artemas (or Tychichus) when he called Titus to winter with Paul in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). From Nicopolis, Titus was apparently assigned work in Dalmatia (Yugoslavia, see 2 Tim. 4:10). Church tradition records that Titus eventually returned to Crete and died there man years later.

The Purpose of the Letter (the situation that caused Paul to write):

A few years before the death of the Apostle Paul, he wrote to a younger church planter about the establishment of solid, well rooted, God honoring churches in Crete. Titus took directions from Paul as his sending agent (as stated above). He handled difficult assignments for Paul in the matter of disobedience in a rebellious church at Corinth as part of his training to plant churches (2 Cor. 2:13; 7:6-7, 13-15; 8:6, 16-17). Paul was delighted with the sensitivity and strength of his disciple.

A careful reading of the text of the Epistle to Titus reveals the message of the Gospel had already begun to take root in Crete, but the saved had not yet been organized into strong local churches. The letter probably personally encouraged the church planter, but more importantly added an authoritative boost to his stature when rather sharp exchanges became necessary.

Another key to the purpose was found in Paul’s comments about Titus’ approach. Titus was told to “speak evil of no man” (3:2) and deal with the lost in meekness. Some Cretans may have assailed Titus for lacking sharpness in the beginning, but these words from Paul would help set them at ease. It was not necessary to argue endlessly, but it was necessary to defend the flock and stop some of the subversive speech of the traveling speakers who were trying to pull Gentiles into keeping the Torah (Law) of Moses.

Six Key Principles in the Letter:

The letter outlines six major principles to establishing well-grounded and God-pleasing churches:

  1. Everything rises or falls on the quality of the leadership of the congregation, choose wisely! (1:5-9)
  1. The leaders must remember the church is a teaching organization, and the parameters of the teaching must be maintained and defended for the flock to be healthy, protect them! (1:10-16)
  1. The group becomes a true church when the members are equipped and begin to function in their relationships to each other and to the world, train them! (2:1-10)
  1. The church is formed by God’s grace, and maintained by careful obedience to the Father’s commands lived out in expectation of the Lord’s return, keep working! (2:11-15)
  1. The Cretan church should be characterized by a gracious spirit toward the world and its leaders – a humility bathed in the memory of their own former sojourn, be gracious! (3:1-7)
  1. Though they are gracious, they must not ignore the creeping influence of error and contention, be careful! (3:8-11).

For further study: An Outline of the Epistle of Paul to Titus

I. The greeting: The senior missionary to a new church planter – guidelines for the establishment of order in the church (1:1-4)

II. Step One: Identify the leadership and apply responsibility! (1:5-16).

A. Establishing leadership: Choose leaders wisely (1:5-9)

B. Establishing the parameters of the teaching: protect the truth (1:10-16)

III. Step Two: Instruct people to get busy about their God-given work! (2:1-15)

  1. The tasks defined: it’s all about relationships (1-10)
  • The Church Planter (1, cp. 2:15) In order to establish the work, teach!
  • The Older Men (2): temperate, sensible, discreet, unerring faith, loving spirit, patient deportment.
  • The Older Women (3): reverent behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine, teachers of the right behaviors.
  • Younger Women (4-5): love husband and children, discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, subject to their husbands to protect their home reputation.
  • The Younger Men (6-8): discreet, (and by example of Titus himself in vv. 7-8) maintain a consistent pattern of good work in every area, in the teachings, pure, sensible, uncorrupted, sound and careful speech, leaving nothing for his adversaries to claim.
  • The Servants (9-10): pleasing to master, not contradicting, not stealing, but showing the best of the teaching of our Savior.
  • The Principle for ALL (11-15). Walk in grace circumspectly, and be aware of the cost to our Master for us. Do what pleases Him, as is your purpose!

IV. Step Three: Remind people to establish a Credible Public Testimony (3:1-11)

A. In relation to Authorities in the World: be obedient (1).

B. In relation to the Unsaved in the Community: be considerate and understanding – you were like them before (2-7).

C. In relation to those who stir up the Church: stress the truth and avoid divisive nonsense (8-11).

V. Personal Greetings and Messages (3:12-15).

Other Notes: The Measure of A Great Church

Key Principle: How did Paul measure this church? He measured it by the congregation’s adherence to carefully presented standards.

Older Men: (means “senior male” as in age not office of “elder” term as used in 1:5)

1)      Sober: (NIV) temperate; adjective meaning to not “wine controlled”, came to be used as a word for “clear headed”; possessing all the faculties at all times.

2)      Grave: (NIV) worthy of respect; seriousness of purpose and dignified such that he commands respect.

3)      Temperate: (NIV) “self-controlled”; possessing self-mastery.

4)      Sound in faith, “sound” is derived from a building term for a solid foundation. The word has a Greek article, suggesting the meaning “their faith”. The term faith may mean “doctrine” but here it appears to be their personal faith in the Lord Jesus.

5)      charity (NIV) “love”; The word is for relational love, as opposed to a vindictive spirit or bitterness.

6)      patience: endurance”; The word is a military term that denotes brave persistence and strength of character.

Older Women:

1)      In behavior as becometh holiness: (NIV) “be reverent in the way they live”; literally a cultic term for the interior and exterior of a temple to be suitable for holy uses.

2)      Not false accusers: (NIV) “not slanderers”; the word is elsewhere translated gossip.

3)      Not given to much wine: (NIV) “not addicted to much wine”; the grammar suggests that #2 and #3 are linked. Was the problem at the wine bar? Was the problem loose speech after too much to drink?

4)      Teachers of good things: the word is derived from the personal counsel of a tutor.

5)      Teach the younger women to be sober: (literally “to return one to her senses”). The term for “teach” is different than the one used above, it was sometimes used in the Greek world as an athletic word for training that happens over a long and arduous process. The term “younger women” is the term NEW or FRESH and may mean either the newly married (less likely) or the NEW WOMEN IN JESUS. The training of the new women in the church was not the responsibility of the Elders, nor of Titus, but of the older women!

Younger Women: (Those newer to the faith)

1)      Love their husbands: (literally) “devoted to their husbands”.

2)      Love their children: (literally) “devoted to their children”.

3)      Be discreet: (NIV) “self controlled”

4)      Chaste: (NIV) “pure”

5)      Keepers at home: (The KJV follows the text as “oikourous” or “home guard”, the NIV uses a different text that contains the word “oikourgous” which means “to be busy at home”. The NIV thought the second choice made more sense with Paul’s other admonitions as 1 Tim. 5:13,14 – to avoid idleness).

6)      Good: (NIV) “kind”; the selfless demands placed on a wife an mother can cause her to cultivate a harsh and irritable spirit. Servanthood is contrary to human nature and Roman culture, so this training was valuable!

7)      Obedient to their own husbands: (NIV) “to be subject to their husbands” is apparently to be read in middle voice, “subjecting themselves to in a voluntary way”. Though she was equal in salvation (Gal. 3:28), yet she placed herself in subjection. The subjection was directly linked to the testimony of the home and of the Word of God!

Young men

(and by example of Titus himself in vv. 7-8): (word IS for young men). Titus was told to “exhort” (literally “to come beside and show how”) to be sober minded: (NIV) “self-controlled” as the teaching to younger women. Obviously the greatest need of the young Cretan men was to stay their impetuous nature and cultivate restraint.

Titus (Church planter, then Pastor)

(By example – commands of vv. 7-8 to him!) Show a pattern of good works: (NIV) “set for them an example” is literally “holding yourself beside them as an example”of a teacher of the Word.

1)      Doctrine: showing uncorruptness: highest quality in teaching!

2)      Gravity: teaching with a motive of integrity in all things.

3)      Sincerity: teaching with outward dignity and seriousness.

4)      Sound speech: his words were to be, when tested, found consistently reliable. There was an expectation that his words were opposed by some, but after testing, his word should have been consistent, and morally pure.

Servants

1)      Obedient to masters (Greek – despotes): is literally “to attempt to please”.

2)      Not contradicting: (Greek – “antilego”) is literally “not talking back to, or against  them”.

3)      Not purloining: (NIV) stealing.

4)      Showing in all fidelity: literally, “demonstrating good faith” – showing the best of the teaching of our Savior.

A congregation that focused on their relationship to the Lord by keeping these carefully presented standards was a great church!

The Galatian Epistle

For those who have trouble following the line of thought of a rather complex argument Paul made to the church at Galatia, this teaching may help. One of the best ways to think of the letters is as just that – someone’s mail. This short study walks through the “argument” of the letter as though it were a summation at the end of some court drama.

Galatians:

The argument of the book of Galatians has to do with what we will call the formula for justification before God. Paul’s argument in the book follows in this way: (Divided by six chapters)

1) The gospel I came to preach to you in unchangeable (1:1-10), because it was given to me by the revelation of Jesus himself (1:11-17), and was evidenced by the miraculous change in my life (1:18-24).

2) The gospel of justification by faith in Jesus as our substitute (apart from any human work) is the gospel I have always preached, and can be tested against the case of Titus (2:1-3). The confusion over the gospel formula was introduced by false teachers (2:4-10), who desired to add to the formula. They desired to have you believe that “Faith in Jesus plus obedience to Judaic ceremonial law equals justification”. This teaching was never endorsed by the Apostles (2:7-10), however even the Apostles confused the principle with some inconsistent personal practices (2:11,12). To clear the issue consider the following truths (2:15-21):
1. The purpose of the law and the purpose of the coming of Jesus were to fulfill two different ends. The law was given to direct us to our
need, but Jesus came that we might see the grace of God provide for a need we were unable to meet.
2. If the law was able to provide for justification, then Jesus need not have come and died.

3) The evidence that God accepted you apart from any commitment to ceremonial law was manifest in you because you received the Spirit on the basis of your acceptance of Jesus alone (3:1-5). Lest you think that accepting people on the basis of faith alone is a new work of God, consider His work with Abraham (3:6-9), who was counted righteous by his faith.

If you desire to add law to the formula for being declared righteous by God you must acknowledge three facts (10-14):

1. You are cursing yourself with a standard higher than you can keep, and the law will condemn you.
2. You will eventually settle for an exterior appearance of obedience, and never settle the heart issue of faith.
3. You are rejecting the work of Jesus in taking your place in judgement under the law and you are nullifying the very freedom he gave you.

Above these three facts, you must consider that the law came after the promise of God to Abraham (cp. Gen. 22), and must be considered only part of that greater plan (3:15-18). The promise to Abraham was both a nation and a future Messiah. The law did not negate or fulfill this promise. What did the law do then? The law (which was mediated by men and angels) guided to the place where the promise (given directly by God) was fulfilled (3:19-20). Does the law hinder the fulfillment of the promise of God (3:21- 22)? Absolutely not! The law could not fulfill the promise and produce life of itself. In fact, the Scripture leads us to understand our own unrighteousness unacceptability. The fulfillment of the promise can only be in the Messiah. The law guided us to the fulfillment of the promise in the Messiah (3:23-29), but if we continue imposing the law in the justification formula, we are looking to be guided beyond the fulfillment of the promise. We have become identified with Jesus, and both Jew and Gentile are guided by Him as heirs to the promise of Abraham, fulfilled by his seed — Jesus!

4) Children who are heirs are subject to servants and tutors as they grow up (4:1- 7). These tutors were as the law to Israel. When God sent His son, he made it possible for us to receive the full inheritance of sons. I fear that you desire the security of being guided again now that you are free heirs. You are keeping observances as though you don’t understand your position (4:8-11)! You have always listened intently to me when I was with you. Even when I was ill (4:12- 20) you followed the truth of my instruction. I am trusting this will be the case in my absence. Paul now directly addresses those (4:21-31) who are arguing for the formula of salvation which includes the law. He argues from a Genesis allegory, based on the two sons of Abraham. Gen. 16 records that Hagar (the maidservant of Sarah) came into Abraham and bore Ishmael. This practical earthly solution was not as God intended to make the nation from Abraham. Later, Sarah bore Isaac who was the “child of the promise”. The Apostle relates Hagar and Ishmael to the law and Isaac to the coming of the Messiah. Ishmael as a persecutor of Isaac was a “foreshadow” of the “faith plus law for salvation” party in Galatia. Yet, Paul maintains that the blessing is with the children of Isaac.

5) In the application of the above truths, Paul asserts (1-12) that they must cling to the liberty of the “faith alone” formula, and not concede to any addition to this standard. He advises the removal of anyone who cannot abide by the standard of faith alone, and insists that adding to the standard will compromise the clarity of the gospel. He then follows with an exhortation (13-15) to avoid misusing the liberty in a way that would not serve the others in their church community. He then specifies (5:16-26) that the Spirit can guide them away from misuse of liberty. Those who misuse their liberty demonstrate they are not His!

6) Paul asks them to turn to help those who have fallen, (1-10) having already commanded the removal of those who would not comply with his teaching. Some should be restored, other unrepentant ones should be shunned that they might correct themselves. God will show each that they reap what they sow. In 6:11-18 Paul brings the argument to bear in an undictated hand-written section that simply shows his absolute unwillingness to bend on the salvation “formula”. He closes with a clear statement of his desire to depend solely on his faith in the work of Jesus as Messiah. His benediction includes mercy for those who accept this message, including the ” Israel of God” (the Jew who found his Messiah in Jesus), lest he be seen as anti-Jewish!

Summary of Galatian Argument

Paul does not speak to the issue of allowing Jewish believers to maintain their obedience to the law. He speaks directly to the issue of trusting the law in part or in whole for justification. He does not insist that they not be circumcised, he insists that circumcision is irrelevant to living out one’s faith in this economy, and that the practice has no positive effect on the observer’s justification before God. The only possible argument for dispensing with the Jewish practices is the possibility of clouding the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 7: Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage

Who doesn’t ask about this topic? I have two small studies packed with Scripture that I have been teaching for a number of years that I hope adds a bit to the discussion on this vital topic! The first study is from the Hebrew Scriptures on marriage and divorce, and includes the passages in the Gospels where Jesus taught on the subject. The second study was Paul’s words to the Corinthian church.

We must be careful with this study. In many cases I find believers jumping from Deuteronomy 24 to Malachi, Matthew and Corinthians as if the Bible was set in one time with one audience. That’s a dangerous way to interpret the text. Each passage must be set in its own time and place, with principles extracted in each place to build a proper view of God’s intention for us. It can be confusing, but it needn’t be. If these aren’t clear enough, post a question and I will do my best to explain:

 Can I stay single? Is that more holy? What about marriage, is it always for life? Is divorce the unpardonable sin? Can I remarry if I was divorced? Who doesn’t talk about this subject in our modern world? Today we will walk through God’s principles on each subject!

Key Principle: God writes the rules for what is best for us. Divorce can occur Biblically, but it is carefully regulated. Remarriage is not always automatic!

Review Letter: Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church directly responded to three types of church issues in the first century church:

  • Issues that he heard about from a friend concerning their divisions and struggles as a congregation (1 Corinthians 1-4);
  • Issues that were the worst kept secret in the first century churches about morality problems of the Corinthian believers (1 Corinthians 5-6);
  • Answers to a series of questions the believers wrote to Paul concerning (1 Corinthians 7-16).

Review Themes: On our way to the questions that Paul answered concerning marriage and divorce, Paul addressed three other issues:

1)The believers at Corinthwere caught up in “misplaced affection” for their leaders and fighting in divisions representing differing ways of viewing issues. Paul wrote: “It is not the MEN we follow, but it is the MESSAGE. That deserves our first allegiance. (1 Cor. 1-4)

2)Their misplaced affections were also evident in their misplaced VALUES. They were boastful of their acceptance of open immorality, proud of their LOVING SPIRIT. Paul wrote: “It is not the LOVE that is our first commitment, but the TRUTH. (1 Cor. 5)

3)The believers were further demonstrating their misplaced values in accepting the STANDARDS of the world. The issue was the taking of another brother to the city courts to be judged by godless men. Paul wrote: “It is not the standard of the WORLD we use, but the judgment of the WORD we trust.”

Paul then turned his attention to the question list sent to him by the church at Corinth. Commentators have longed to have that list, but we can only surmise what their list was composed of. What does help is to:

1)Cut the text into the portions that seem to address differing questions; and

2)Understand the problems that Corinth had in that time. One way to cut the text is using the phrase that seems to suggest an answer to a new question appears to be the words “Now concerning” seen in 7:1

  • 1Co 7:1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
  • 1Co 7:25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.
  • 1Co 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
  • 1Co 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches ofGalatia, even so do ye.

Within the first question (7:1-24) there appears to be several different groups involved in the questions they asked.

There were five groups of people at Corinth Paul needed to address:

1. There were unmarried.

2. There were married of one of the four types of marriage available under Roman law. To understand them, let’s first look at the four types of marriages that various Corinthians were engaged in according to Roman law of the time.

A)     Contubernium: “tent marriage” mating of slaves for desired characteristics of a new breed.  This was non-contractual as slaves were considered property.

B)      Usus: “common law marriage” accomplished by one year together.  This practice was common, though not legally contractual.

C)      Coemptio en manum: “pleasurable service women”  – the purchase of a woman from her father, particularly to fulfill his debt.  This may be a “second mate” for the purchaser.  In some cases, the woman was free to leave the house after several years of “pleasurable service”.

D)      Confarretio: a contractual public ceremony from which we get our own.

3. Then there were divorced and alone.

4. There were widowed and alone.

5. Finally, there were divorced and remarried coming to Christ.

Paul’s words are often applied in our time by people unfamiliar with the real subject of the writings. Paul wasn’t writing to the Church in the C21st, but Corinth in the C1st. It is about what THEY were going through. The PRINCIPLES are relevant for us, but the issues were more complex than a first glance gives us.

PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE: Before we look closely at our passage, let’s take a minute and review what we know about marriage in the Bible up to this point: The Bible relates four PRIMARY PURPOSES for marriage:

A)      Procreation – (Keep the race going) Gen. 1:28; Ps. 127.

B)      Pleasure – Proverbs 5; I Cor. 7:4.

C)      Provision (of helper) – Eph. 5:25 – 32.

D)      Picture – in OT as YHWH andIsrael, cp. Hosea; in NT as Christ the Church, Eph. 5.

PRINCIPLES OF MARRIAGE: The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament Law) include some fifteen passages that speak about divorce.  Of these passages, we can derive FOUR PRINCIPLES CONCERNING MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE that appear to be clear:

A)      Permanence Principle:  God’s original intention was that marriage be one man for one woman, PERMANENT until the death of one of them.  This was His ideal (Gen. 2:24).

B)      Purity Principle:  God’s stated desire for every man and woman was that their relationship be PURE by each covenanting faithfulness to one another (Ex. 20:14).  This purity was to extend into their thought life, as they were not even to foster a desire for another’s spouse (v.17).

C)      Principle of Practice:  Divorce was a Biblical practice, insomuch as God himself placed regulations on it in some cases.  In one special event He commanded it (Ezra 10), when the marriages were specifically forbidden by Him beforehand (cp. Lev. 7:1-5). [ “..she is not my wife, I am not her husband…” Hos. 2:2]  Though He hated the sin which caused the hardness and ended in divorce (Mal. 2), God did acknowledge this practice (Isa. 50:1; Jer. 3:8) and regulate the procedure of the PRACTICE (Dt. 24).

D)      Principle of Presumption:  The Hebrew Scriptures PRESUMED that remarriage would follow a divorce (Dt. 24: 1-4), and regulated this practice to show the gravity of divorce, and minimize the continual damage to others.

JESUS REITERATED: While in public ministry Jesus twice also spoke on the subject of divorce (Mt. 5:27 – 32 and Mt. 19: 1 -12; cf.  Mk. 10: 1-12).

A)      He reiterates the PERNANENCE ideal as being “from the beginning” (Mt. 19:8), and rejects that Dt. 24 was an “easy out if the paperwork was proper” (Mk. 10:4).

B)      He asserts again the PURITY standard as “thought life” issue (Mt. 5:27, 28) and not just an outward standard.

C)      He acknowledged that the PRACTICE of divorce was regulated (“epitrepo” means allowed – Mt. 19: 7,8), but this was only due to the hard heartedness of sin.  Even in cases where God allowed divorce, He limited the circumstances which were allowable.  Jesus appears to limit the “uncleanness” of Dt. 24 to the specific moral uncleanness of immorality (Mt. 19:9).

D)      Jesus also PRESUMED that divorced people would remarry (Mt. 5:32).  It is because they would that He warned that others would suffer from the sin of one couple!  Remarriage was not always sin, but was sin in cases where the divorce was not on Biblical grounds (note the context of Mt. 5:32). [note:  Talmudic Law reflects that the betrothal period of a remarriage was shorter than the normal betrothal of 9 to 12 months.]

Let’s look closer and you will see that Paul addressed six problems that separated the various issues a Corinthian was dealing with:

  1. 7:1-5 Addressed a “Coemption en manum” pleasurable service for the believer that may have asked, “Can I do this as a believer?” Response: Sexual pleasure should be cared for in the confines of the marriage. Timeless Principle: Part of basic component of marriage as God designed it was the joining of all the cares of the other to your heart. Every need they have you should care about. You must also care about those needs above your own.
  2. 7:6-9 Offered Paul’s best advise on the issue of singleness. If you lose your partner, it may be better not to remarry, as singleness has its benefits. Timeless Principle: There is a cost to marriage; you divide control of your heart and your body.
  3. 7:10-11 Appears to turn the attention to the “married” by USUS (Common law). The problem is, if I am saved having been common law joined, should I leave the marriage? Paul cautioned- “Stay together!” Yet, if the other decides to leave for a time, wait for them. He is NOT telling every divorced person to remain unmarried, because this would have violated Dt. 24:2. Timeless Principle: Your salvation does NOT rewrite all the relationship rules of your life. (African man with seven wives; Arab with 3 wives).
  4. 7:12-17 “To the rest” appears to refer to the legal and ceremonial Confaretttio married, as opposed to the “other marrieds” of v.11. The problem is this: What if two were married, and one gets saved? Does the saved one leave? Paul wrote: “No! But if THEY choose to leave, you are free to go on. Yet, you may desire to wait for them for a time. If they moved into another relationship, Dt. 24 says the first man was disqualified from “recalling” her. Timeless Principle: UMBRELLA PRINCIPLE – Believer sanctifies home environment and brings blessing to even the lost around them!
  5. 7:18-20 Addressed the issue of ‘INTER-ETHNIC marriage’. In this specific case, the issue was Messianic Jewish believers marrying non-Jews. Because each were told to uphold their walk in Messiah in different ways, Paul cautioned AGAINST the idea. This was true of this specific case, but the principle holds: “There is a cost to marrying beyond your natural boundary!” It is not unbiblical in the case of interracial marriage, but it is more challenging.
  6. 7:21-24 Appears to address those in a CONTUBERNIUM (tent marriage for breeding) but also applies to the pleasure service of Coemptio en Manum marriages. The problem was this: “If I am a slave, am I guilty of the sexual unions?” Paul exhorted: “If possible, get out of the situation as quickly as possible!” The timeless principle is important for us: “There may be a time between what God wants for you and the obligation you now have!” Don’t feel guilty, be resolved and prayerful.

What does this passage teach us about what God wants from a believer today?

  • Your physical pleasure is for your marriage, not the internet, the magazine, etc. God intends you to share your needs with your marriage partner.
  • There is a cost to marriage that a single person need not bear.
  • Your salvation does not rewrite the relationships of your life. You must patiently be a testimony for God in a difficult time of growth in your spiritual development.
  • There is an umbrella blessing when a believer is present and walking with God.
  • Some marriages will face greater challenges because of the differences in race or ethnicity of those involved. We should face this up front in the union or not proceed.
  • You may know that God wants something more for you in the future, but be required to settle for a time of waiting. That’s not compromise if you are fulfilling your word from before you were saved.

Key Principle: God writes the rules for what is best for us. Divorce can occur Biblically, but it is carefully regulated. Remarriage is not always automatic!