CTT | What is the Biblical Stance on Racism?

CTTThe Bible has many references to people groups, nations, and lineage, but does that make it racist? Not in the way we generally think of racism. In our modern-day we tend to focus on visible distinctions (skin color, hair type, or language) and we use those distinctions to malign people. The color of a person’s skin is used to determine if a statement or decision was racist, wrongfully exempting some and falsely accusing others of racism. When the world rejects Truth and defines all “right and wrong” based on self we shouldn’t really find double-standards all that surprising. We live in a day where sinful judgement takes place all of the time and is often smoke-screened with ad hominem attacks and straw-man racism. Rather than discuss the issues at hand, many who struggle with racism who are caught without a valid argument are the first to play the “racist” card. The world is lost because it has rejected the Truth of God’s Word.

Romans 1:18-20 (ESV)18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

So enough about how wrong and sinful the world is today. Let us turn to the Truth of God’s Word to explore this notion of racism and see what the Bible has to say on the matter.

God Created Mankind as One Kind, a single race.

Let us begin on the sixth day of Creation Week.

Genesis 1:24-31 (ESV) 24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Every living creature is created according to its kind. When God created plant life (day 3), He instituted the concept of bearing seed after it own kind. Each kind of plant will only bear seed of its own kind, and it will not bear the seed of a different kind. A banana kind will not suddenly bear seeds for stone fruit (like peaches). When the Bible refers to procreation of man, it uses the same rules of seed bearing after its own kind. The Hebrew word (אָדָם) is translated Adam, man, and mankind. All of mankind are a single race. That any man can join with any woman and produce children after their own kind demonstrates this truth. The creation account in Chapter 2 further illustrates this truth.

Genesis 2:18-20 (ESV) 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.

In all of creation, there was no helper suitable for Adam. Therefore God created woman out of man and joined them together. One race, one kind, and it was all very good. Now, God designed within Creation a wide array of variety, for we have classified many variations within kinds (different cats, dogs, fruit, vegetables) of the lower creatures and within mankind (heights, weights, skin tones, hair types, eye colors, etc). Before the fall, there was only Adam and his wife, but the genetic material was all there. With sin came the curse, and degradation of all of creation. Divisions of mankind happened, but they did not become different kinds.

The Reset in the Time of Noah

We know that there was great variety in mankind after the fall as they multiplied on the earth. There were men of great renown (Nephilim or giants) in those days and after the flood (Sons of Anak; Numbers 13 (ESV)).  In Genesis 6, we see God is grieved by the wickedness of mankind on the earth and brought judgement upon it, saving Noah and his family. Now all people groups, all of the race of mankind is preserved in the 8 who were aboard the Ark. After the flood, the face of the whole Earth was changed, as well as its climate, and the need to survive in multivarious environments had to have been designed into the mankind by God, and it was. All of mankind spoke one language, and were one people.

Now sin persists in mankind and soon after the flood and the first harvest of the vine, Ham, sinned against his father, Noah. Noah curses Canaan, the son of Ham, as punishment for the wrong committed him by Ham. This becomes our first major separation of people groups, the sons of Canaan become subjects to Japheth and Shem who did what was right by Noah. This is a prophetic judgement on the house of Canaan, one God revisits in the time of Abraham.

Genesis 17:7-9 (ESV) 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” 9 And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations.

Abraham was a descendant of Shem. But how did the groups become so foreign to one another in the time that passed between Shem and Abraham, such that Abraham was a sojourner in the land of Canaan?

The Tower of Babel

Let’s look turn to the beginning of Genesis 11.

Genesis 11:1-9 (ESV) | The Tower of Babel
1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

So, we see the first separation of people groups after the flood comes as a direct result of sin committed against Noah. A prophetic declaration of separation from the sons of Shem and Japheth and the sons of Ham. After some time, we have a second, major separation when God confused the languages of the people. Remember that everything here was written by Moses as he recorded God’s eye-witness account. We have some clue as to how the languages divided the people by looking at the genealogies recorded in chapter 10, particularly in how the accounts of the descendants of Japheth, Ham, and Shem are concluded. Let’s look at the descendants of Ham.

Genesis 10:6-20 (ESV) 6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan.

7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca.

The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.

Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man.He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and 12 Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. 13 Egypt fathered Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, 14 Pathrusim, Casluhim (from whom the Philistines came), and Caphtorim.

15 Canaan fathered Sidon his firstborn and Heth, 16 and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17 the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18 the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the clans of the Canaanites dispersed. 19 And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon in the direction of Gerar as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20 These are the sons of Ham, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.

I’ve highlighted several of the people groups that would become enemies of Israel, worshipers of false gods, wicked men of old. I am confident that most of the highlighted ones are easily recognized while a couple (Heth and Cush) might not be so. We looked at the significance of the descendants of Heth in the story of Jacob and Esau. We will take a look at Cush, but for now I’d like to draw your attention to the significance of Nimrod, the first on earth to be a mighty man. Now, we know that there were Nephilim or giants before the flood, so here the connotation is that Nimrod is perhaps the first earthly king. The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh. This is significant in understanding what went wrong in the building of the Tower of Babel. After having established his kingdom, he sought to build a tower into Heaven, to be like God, and he had the support of the people. We see that when he left the land of Shinar, he built Nineveh.

After God confused the languages of the people, they dispersed in clans, languages, and nations over the Earth. When their languages split, so did their gene pools and their cultures. Very few remembered God their creator… as we see in chapter 12, God calls Abram to leave the land of his family (Ur of the Chaldeans) into a land that God would give him. We see God calling Abram out of the dispersion of people who had at one time committed to build a monument to themselves, a tower to Heaven. Much like today, when the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to call out of the world a people for Himself. The key separation here is a people who follow and worship the One True God, the descendants of Abraham.

What about skin color?

Skin color has already varied because our genetic makeup has already been set; however, it has not been mentioned as a determining factor in dividing people groups. Now that we have clans and languages split, and the post-flood world, it stands to reason that skin color may become more and more significant in the natural selection process based on climate and language. Answers in Genesis did a good job of explaining how skin type plays a role in natural selection with regards to climates.

Fast-forwarding to Moses as he records the Law, he is God’s chosen prophet to the children of Israel. God used Moses to deliver Israel from their slavery in Egypt, and to lead the people of Israel through the wilderness while God made Himself known to Israel first, and the rest of mankind later. He promised Abraham that the nations would be blessed by his offspring, that is Jesus Christ, through whom all mankind might be saved from the wrath earned by their sin. In Numbers, chapter 12, we see events transpire that would easily qualify as racism in today’s vernacular.

Numbers 12  (ESV) | Miriam and Aaron Oppose Moses
12 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. 2 And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. 3 Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. 4 And suddenly the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” And the three of them came out. 5 And the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward. 6 And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. 7 Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. 8 With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” 9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed. 10 When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow. And Aaron turned toward Miriam, and behold, she was leprous. 11 And Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, do not punish us because we have done foolishly and have sinned. 12 Let her not be as one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes out of his mother’s womb.” 13 And Moses cried to the Lord, “O God, please heal her—please.” 14 But the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut outside the camp seven days, and after that she may be brought in again.” 15 So Miriam was shut outside the camp seven days, and the people did not set out on the march till Miriam was brought in again. 16 After that the people set out from Hazeroth, and camped in the wilderness of Paran.

Ah, here we have a reference to Cush, the son of Ham. The Hebrew word here translated “Cushite” is elsewhere translated “Ethiopian”. The root of this word is the Hebrew word for the Cush which also means “black”. Cush was probably given his name because he was born darker than his siblings. The land of Cush is the land in the southern regions of the Nile, south of Egypt. Moses had taken a black woman for a wife, Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses for it, and God’s anger is kindled. The people have the Law and the statutes of the Lord. If they had any just objection to Moses marrying this woman, they would have presented their case. They didn’t, Miriam and Aaron objected to the marriage and even slightly invoked their status as having prophesied before the Lord before as somehow supporting their issue against Moses. God was furious. He addresses even the fact that the prophets don’t even speak to God in the same manner that God speaks to Moses. As punishment, God strikes Miriam with leprosy. Even when Moses makes his plea with God to heal her, God insists they abide by the Law, and so Miriam must observe the Law and wait 7 days outside the camp before being allowed back in. Is false judgement according to the color of skin condoned in the Bible? Absolutely not. Miriam was cut off from her people (for 7 days) for it.

Conclusion

What we superficially throw around as racism is in no way condoned in the Bible. God created one race, one kind, that is mankind. There are divisions of people, first and foremost whether or not we know the One True God and worship Him as God. There are differences within mankind, differences that I believe God enjoys, for He is the one who Created our variety, our languages, our appearance, our skills, our laughter. He created us in His likeness, in His image… we are a dim reflection of His Greatness. We all are sinners, we’ve all fallen in the sin of Adam and are born dead in sins and trespasses. But just as in Adam all men have sinned and died, through Jesus a way of salvation was provided for all of mankind.

John 3:16-21 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

John 6:28-29 (ESV) 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Do the work of God, believe in Jesus Christ, whom the Lord God sent out of His love for us, so that we might not perish. Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. May the Lord bless you and keep you in His Word.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

The Parable of the Good Samaritan | Law & Gospel

??????????This week I had the good pleasure of hearing 2 sermons on this parable from pastors with whom I was unfamiliar. While one sermon was vastly superior to the other, I gained insight from each and thought this would be a good topic for us to discuss today. From time to time you will see me talk about the need to preach both Law and Gospel. In the today’s church we seem to find some emergent/seeker-driven churches attempting to skip Law and only focus on Gospel. The problem with that (aside from not teaching the full counsel of Scripture) is that without the Law we are not convicted of sin. Without a conviction of sin, we cannot fully appreciate or grasp the Gospel. Other churches tend to err in the other direction. They consider Gospel just what you need to “be born again” and then they teach all Law… this is also dangerous, for the Law convicts us of our sin… and we live in a sinful world and our flesh is sinful. We still sin, and we need the Gospel every day of our lives. For we walk by grace, and we need to be reminded of the power of God’s grace every day of our lives, lest we slip into condemnation for our lack of perfection. Our primary text for today comes from Luke 10, and we will see how a single parable effectively teaches both Law and Gospel. 

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37 (ESV)
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

For a little bit of context, Jesus had just pronounced Woes to the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida for their unbelief and unrepentant hearts. The seventy-two disciples who had been sent out returned praising God and giving a joyful report. Jesus was careful to refocus their excitement away from the fact that the demons were submitted to them and onto the fact that their names had been written Heaven. Jesus then praises God aloud and I think we should look at this portion before diving into the parable.

Luke 10:21-24 (ESV)
21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” 23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

And let it be known that we are recipients of that blessing, for by the Grace of God we now have the record of these events in God’s Holy Word, Amen. Look at the excitement in Jesus’ praise. Notice that he turns privately to His disciples to call them blessed. I mention this because I do believe that the events that take place in verse 25 take place soon afterward. Luke doesn’t specify a time-frame, but he does write “and behold” so I think this Lawyer’s test of Jesus came suddenly.

The Lawyer’s test

Now we are not talking about a Lawyer in the sense of a trial lawyer; rather, he was most likely an expert in the Law of Moses. Now, the lawyer was asking Jesus how he might inherit eternal life. Notice, however, that Luke clearly identifies this as a test (ESV) or that he tempted (KJV) Jesus with this question. He was looking for Jesus to give an unlawful answer. What kind of answer was he looking for? We don’t know, because Jesus turned the answer back onto the lawyer, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it”? Let’s look at the answer the Lawyer gives. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus commends him for his lawful answer to the question and then tells him that if he does that he will live. Jesus confirmed the Law of Moses, and the Lawyer stood convicted by it. Let’s examine 2 portions of the Law related to the mans answer.

Deuteronomy 6:1-5 (ESV) 1 “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly,as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Leviticus 19:9-18 (ESV) 9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God. 11 “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.12 You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. 13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14 You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. 15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord. 17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Now immediately we are presented with the greatest and second commandments. In Matthew, Jesus was asked what the Greatest Commandment was and His answer to them was the same. Now the first commandment is one that is easier to claim (and harder to disprove) than the second. This lawyer might have been willing to claim ownership of the first law; however, in order to justify himself, clearly he needed a favorable definition of “neighbor”.

The Parable at Face Value | Law

This parable of the good Samaritan simultaneously teaches Law as well as the Gospel. Let us first see how the parable teaches the Law of God. This is how it would most likely initially have been interpreted by the Lawyer and those present at the time.

Luke 10:30-32 (ESV) 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

The hearers of this parable would likely place themselves in the position of either the victim, the Priest, or the Levite. This lawyer probably pictured himself as either the Priest of the Levite due to his level of study and expertise in the Law. At this point in the story, however, it is not clear that what either of these character did was wrong. That might be hard for us to understand but remember, the Law had specific rules regarding cleanliness and the dead. This takes place on the road between Jericho and Jerusalem (city of the Temple). When the scripture describes the man as being “half dead”, it is saying that he appeared to be dead. One would have to inspect him, check on him to determine if he were dead. This presents a Legal dilemma for the Priest and the Levite. Let’s turn for a moment to Levitical Law.

Leviticus 21:1-3 (ESV)
21 And the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them, No one shall make himself unclean for the dead among his people, 2 except for his closest relatives, his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, his brother, 3 or his virgin sister (who is near to him because she has had no husband; for her he may make himself unclean).

So, a Priest would not touch a dead person unless it was clearly one of the aforementioned exceptions. The High Priest is afforded no exceptions at all. The Law acknowledges that we are incapable of keeping it, and even specifies purification rituals. Let’s look at those in Numbers.

Numbers 19:11-13 (ESV)
11 “Whoever touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean seven days. 12 He shall cleanse himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so be clean. But if he does not cleanse himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not become clean. 13 Whoever touches a dead person, the body of anyone who has died, and does not cleanse himself, defiles the tabernacle of the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from Israel; because the water for impurity was not thrown on him, he shall be unclean. His uncleanness is still on him.

Yikes. This portion of the Law applies to Priests and Levites, so it includes both passers-by in the parable. Touching a dead body, even to see if he might still be alive, would make them unclean for seven days. They’d have to wash on the 3rd and 7th day to be made clean again and not to defile the Temple of the Lord. In order for the Priest or the Levite to assist the half-dead man, they’d have to be willing to give up their Legal cleanliness, for if the man is dead they would have been made unclean while still not being able to do anything for the dead man. Therefore, they passed by on the other side of the street (probably as a part of tradition) to fully demonstrate their acknowledgement that they must remain clean as they continue walking. “Someone else will take care of it”… someone not baring the responsibility of being a Levite or a Priest. After all, they have important business to attend to, they have a “calling” that does not include touching dead bodies. There are plenty of others who can render aid or bury the dead without jeopardizing their calling. This is Law. Let’s continue.

Luke 10:33-35 (ESV) 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’

Now, the Samaritans weren’t simply a “lower class citizen”, they were outsiders, foreigners, gentiles. They were mixed in blood (due to the Assyrian defeat and occupation of the northern kingdom of Israel) and in religion (they worshiped in the “high places” those that were built to other gods). Remember what the law says about this sort of thing, they are to be cut off. The Samaritans were not granted access to the Temple in Jerusalem. The Samaritans were well aware of where they stood in the eyes of the Jews. This animosity, this separation was lawful. For us to better understand this, let us look to John Chapter 4.

John 4:7-9 (ESV) 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

John 4:19-20 (ESV) 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”

John 4:22 (ESV) 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

Remember, that the man who half-dead in the road is assumed to be a Jew. Jesus merely says “a man” but given the context He wouldn’t need to identify the man as a Jew, for that is the norm. Jesus identified the Levite and the Priest for a specific purpose. He also identifies the Samaritan for a purpose. He is an outsider and regarded as hostile. Jews have no dealing with Samaritans. Yet, this Samaritan had compassion on the half-dead Jew. Forsaking everything he had planned for that day, this man took the time to bandage (to bind up) his wounds, washing and cleansing him with oil and wine, and lifting the man and setting him on his own donkey and taking him to an inn and continued to care for him. Notice, that it isn’t until the next day that the Samaritan leaves his side, but he does so having paid for the inn and securing care and provision for the man while the Samaritan is away. He urges the inn keeper, the designated caregiver, to do what is necessary to care for the man with a promise that he will return and will repay any expense that wasn’t already covered. This Samaritan not only bandaged, washed, anointed, and carried the man out of the street, he brought him to a place of rest having paid the price for him to live and to continue healing.

Luke 10:36-37 (ESV) 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.

Here, we have the Legal answer to the question, “how do I inherit eternal life”? There are no loopholes, no caveats in the law. To love your neighbor as yourself and to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind is a high mark, who can pass this test? According to the Law? No one born of Adam. It isn’t enough to be justified in not taking action as in the case of the Levite and the Priest, for in doing so, you fail the commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself.

The Parable of the Samaritan | Gospel

Now, let’s take a slightly different look at this parable… one that likely didn’t resonate with the Apostles until long after these things took place, possibly not until God the Holy Spirit was reminding them of all that Jesus had taught. What if the first man in our story represents all of mankind, who had fallen to robbers and been left for dead? And we being dead in sin and trespasses, were too unclean to be rescued by the Law (Priests and Levites) for its requirements for cleanliness kept it on the far side of the road? What if the Samaritan in this story, is Jesus Christ? Who, having looked upon us in our mortal condition of sin… and loved us enough to bind up our wounds, wash away our iniquities, and pay the price that we could not pay, to enter in His rest. Not only did He pay for our healing, He promised to return again and will pay whatever expenses remained, and he didn’t leave us alone, but left us in the care of the Inn keeper? Let’s look at what the Scriptures say of Jesus Christ.

John 10:9-11 (ESV) 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Isaiah 53:1-6 (ESV)
53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

John 14:18-19 (ESV) 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

Hebrews 9:27-28 (ESV) 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Matthew 5:17 (ESV) 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Praise the Lord. The Law of the Lord is perfect, but we who are dead in sin cannot find salvation by works of the Law, because the Law convicts us of our sin and separation from God. I’m sure you felt it as we worked through the legal implications of the Parable. But how beautiful is the Gospel once we’ve been confronted by our sin?

Romans 3:20-26 (ESV)
20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Amen. The beauty and wonder of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is brought into clear focus when we examine the Law and the Prophets. How gracious is our God. How Wonderful is His Gospel.

Revelation 22:10-17 (ESV)
10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus, come. May the Lord bless you and keep you,
In Him,
Jorge

What is your Testimony?

Stiftshuette Modell

Stiftshuette Modell Timnapark CC BY-SA 3.0

Growing up in Evangelical churches, we heard often from folks who wanted to share their testimony with the church. A lot of weight was given to the sharing of one’s testimony. In fact, it was weighted so heavily that many times I heard caveats that both disturbed and discouraged me in my faith. Caveats such as, “well, my testimony isn’t nearly as powerful as that of brother so-and-so” or “I don’t have much of a testimony, because I grew up in a Christian home”. Such rubbish. This is NOT Biblical, and I want to end the week by looking at what our testimony is.

Your Testimony isn’t about you

We will look at the Biblical definition of what a testimony is, and what our testimony is supposed to be in a minute, but I want to point out that the major flaw in the caveats I mentioned is that they betray a fundamentally flawed view that a testimony is about the person giving it. It isn’t. Have you ever heard someone give their testimony and start to get a little uncomfortable about how they keep going on and on about how bad they were? We get into weird competitions over who was the “most bad” person was before they were saved.

Everyone born of man is born equally dead in sin. Sin isn’t a merely list of wrongdoings, it is a state of being.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV)
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Romans 3:9-20 (ESV)
9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law,so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Apart from the Gospel, no one is righteous, nor can they be made righteous or justified in God’s sight, even by the Law. Man’s need for Jesus Christ is Universal. In the same way, all who have come to the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ share in that same testimony, that we all need Jesus. We don’t need to add to our sinfulness to amplify the Gospel. On some levels, we want people to know that the Gospel finding ME was such a super big deal that no one should ever doubt in it. But that isn’t the focus of the Gospel, it is a blanket truth for all of mankind. Unless the Gospel of Jesus Christ finds you, you have no hope of salvation. And that is why we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our testimony isn’t supposed to glorify our sin; rather, it is supposed to focus on the Word of God.

Now, let us take a look at some Biblical foundations of what a Testimony truly is so that we might have a better understanding of what it means to share your testimony.

The Ark of the Covenant

If you remember in a post from earlier in the week I made reference to how the Passover Lamb pointed to Jesus on the Cross, as an atonement, the final atonement for all our sin. How in the Israelites leaving Egypt points to our being rescued out of the kingdom of Darkness, and how their passing through the Red Sea points to our water Baptism which represents joining Christ in His death and burial and resurrection to a new life in Him. We also compared the wandering of Israel for a generation in the wilderness to our living in a fallen and sinful world as we make our way to the Promised Land which in our case is the Kingdom of Heaven by the blood of Jesus Christ. In keeping with that same imagery, let us now turn to Exodus 25, when God commanded Moses to build an ark.

Exodus 25:10-22 (ESV)
10 “They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. 12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on itsfour feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. 13 You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. 15 The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16 And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you.

17 “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. 20 The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. 21 And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. 22 There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

Now, outside of the Law of Moses, this ark is most commonly referred to in the Bible as the Ark of the Covenant. What we see in Exodus and in Numbers, though, is that it is referred to several times as the Ark of the Testimony. I hadn’t noticed that before, so it’s very exciting for me to read now. We see here God instructing the building of the ark, and he tells Moses that he will be giving him a testimony that should be placed into the ark. Before we get to that, notice where the mercy seat of God is placed… over the testimony. We can already see here, that the Mercy Seat of God rests atop the Testimony that God will give. Let us move ahead a bit as we follow the instructions regarding the ark.

Exodus 26:31-35 (ESV)
31 “And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it. 32 And you shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, on four bases of silver. 33 And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy.34 You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place.35 And you shall set the table outside the veil, and the lampstand on the south side of the tabernacle opposite the table, and you shall put the table on the north side.

This veil, is the one that was found split when Christ died on the cross. Notice that before Christ, the veil separated God’s people from the mercy seat except for certain times, and then only by proxy (the High Priest). Now, let’s jump ahead a bit (Moses was given a lot of instructions here) to chapter 34.

Exodus 34:27-35 (ESV)
27 And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai.33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.

34 Whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, 35 the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Praise the Lord. The testimony is the Law of God, the 10 Commandments. They were given to Israel as a testimony to His Covenant with them. If you read from the beginning of the chapter, you see God instructing Moses to bring 2 fresh tablets to replace the ones that he smashed after seeing the sin of Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai. Those, too, were called the tablets of the testimony.

Exodus 31:18 (ESV)
18 And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

Exodus 32:15-16 (ESV)
15 Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.

Exodus Chapter 40 concludes the instructions given to Moses regarding the tabernacle and the ark.

Exodus 40:16-21 (ESV)
16 This Moses did; according to all that the Lord commanded him, so he did. 17 In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected. 18 Moses erected the tabernacle. He laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars. 19 And he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent over it, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 20 He took the testimony and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark and set the mercy seat above on the ark. 21 And he brought the ark into the tabernacle and set up the veil of the screen, and screened the ark of the testimony, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

The Day of Atonement

Now that we know that the testimony Moses was to place inside the ark was the two tablets of the testimony. They were placed into the ark of the Testimony, upon which rested the Mercy Seat of God, and all of it was behind the veil. Let us skip ahead to Leviticus to see the Ark of the Testimony and the Mercy Seat.

Leviticus 16:1-5 (ESV)
1 The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the Lord and died, 2 and the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.3 But in this way Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with a bull from the herd for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He shall put on the holy linen coat and shall have the linen undergarment on his body, and he shall tie the linen sash around his waist, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water and then put them on. 5 And he shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.

Leviticus 16:11-16 (ESV)
11 “Aaron shall present the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall kill the bull as a sin offering for himself. 12 And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small, and he shall bring it inside the veil 13 and put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is over the testimony, so that he does not die. 14 And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.

15 “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. 16 Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleannesses.

We see a great deal going on here, but I wanted to point out this Day of Atonement and the special place of the ark of the Testimony and the Mercy Seat, and the blood of the atoning sacrifice. All of this points to Christ.

Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant*

In closing, I recommend reading the book of Hebrews. The writer of Hebrews explains the 2 covenants beautifully, and when you read through it, take the time to cross-reference the Old Testament passages.

Hebrews 8 (ESV)
1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

8 For he finds fault with them when he says:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

And the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, is that this new covenant is available to all people, not just the Jew. And our testimony, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 19:9-10 (ESV)
9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Amen. Whenever you share your testimony, know that what you are sharing is not supposed to point to you; rather, it is to point to a risen Savior, whose blood was shed on your behalf, so that you can stand before the Mercy Seat of God without fear of judgement.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (ESV)
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Grace and Peace to you in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord,
Jorge