Reasoning With God

I got to Starbucks early this morning and immediately thought about Moses and the Ten Commandments because of a meme I responded to yesterday.

I was just thinking, wouldn’t it be cool when God said, “You shall worship no other gods…” if you could ask him for a reason other than, “Or else I’ll destroy you!”? Here’s a dialogue that I made up between Moses and God prior to the carving of the stone tablets. Warning! This dialogue is not in the Bible. I just made it up.

God: “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Moses: “Excuse me, God. I hate to interrupt but I have a question.”

God: “Oh, what is it, Moses?”

Moses: “I was just wondering about your first commandment about not having any other gods before us? What is the reasoning behind that?”

God: “Good question, sir! You see, I’ve had to deal with these other gods and they’re a real bunch of assholes. They’ll lead you to the slums of Egypt and laugh at you when you get there. That really pisses me off!”

Moses: “So, why do you say that you’ll send us to hell or destroy us if we don’t adhere to your commands?”

God: “Well, Moses, it’s like this. I have a lot of experience with humans and I’ve learned that I have to treat you guys like a drill sergeant would. I’ll give the commands and you follow! I’m indoctrinating everyone so that they won’t stray off the path and won’t have to think about what they’re doing. Just do it, as they say!”

Moses: “Okay! I get it now! Thanks, God, for straightening me out!”

God: “And by the way, there’s no better motivation than telling someone that I will destroy them if they don’t adhere to my commands.”

Moses: “Oh!”

When it came to reasoning with God, Moses did a good job of convincing God not to kill all of his people after the golden calf scene – only 3,000 of them. After all, 3,000 lives for being the first ones to break the very first commandment by God is not a bad deal. Is it? Time for another dark roast!

Big Mac or Brady Bunch?

What does a Big Mac, The Brady Bunch and The Ten Commandments have in common? You’d have to have a bizarre imagination if you came up with something.

big macA survey conducted in 2007 by Kelton Research showed that we Americans know more about the Big Mac and the The Brady Bunch than we do about The Ten Commandments. Out of 1,000 respondents, 35% could name all six Brady kids, 25% recited all seven ingredients in the mouth-watering Big Mac, but only 14% could recall all Ten Combrady kidsmandments found in the Bible. What does this say about our Christian Nation?

I just cannot get that Big Mac jingle out of my head, “Two all-beef patties…” But seriously! What are those pesky Ten Commandments? That’s okay, though. There are different versions of the Top Ten and it depends on whether you’re a Baptist, Lutheran, or Catholic. It also depends on whether or not you study your Bible. We get the Famous Top Ten from Exodus, Chapter 20. But if you flip a few chapters over to, let’s say Chapter 34, you’ll find an entirely different set of commandments (read Exodus 34:1-28). But, believe it or not, these are the “Real” Ten Commandments because God says so! I challenge you to read your Bibles, especially the Real Ten Commandments. Don’t bother reading about the punishments for violating any of these. Most people don’t.

The Lord said to Moses: Write these words; in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel. 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.” Exodus 34:27-28.

By the way, Commandment #10 is my favorite, “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” What’s yours?

The Real Ten Commandments

Ahhh… It’s Friday and the coffee’s great! Let’s talk Ten Commandments. Every Christian knows what the Ten Commandments are but most of us aren’t able to recite them. That’s nothing new. A good percentage (I will not argue the numbers) of Christians, for some very strange reason, just don’t read the Bible.

Most Christians believe that the Ten Commandments they read in Bible class are the ones taken from the stone tablets that Moses carried down the mountain. I can prove that the ones you see are not the ones called the Ten Commandments by God himself. So, let’s get out our Bibles. It doesn’t matter what version you own – just open it to the following passages or click on the link that I have highlighted in this blog.

Exodus 20:1-18. This is where God starts reciting his commandments and most Christians stop reading at verse 18 and call these the Ten Commandments. But, God doesn’t call these the Ten Commandments – He keeps telling Moses more and more commandments, judgments, punishments, etc. God finally ends his speech to Moses in Exodus 24:3.

Exodus 24:3-7. Moses tells all of his people what God had just told him and writes everything down in what he calls the book of the covenant.

Exodus 24:12-18. God calls Moses back up the mountain, where he stays for 40 days and 40 nights (a lot of stuff to write down). God continues giving Moses instructions until chapter 32.

Exodus 32:15. Finally, God writes all this stuff on both sides of two stone tablets. Moses carries these two tablets in one hand (not with both hands or uMose Tennder his arm) and heads down the mountain.

Exodus 32:19. When Moses gets to the bottom of the mountain, he sees his people worshipping a golden calf, gets pissed off, and smashes the tablets on the ground. God tells Moses to kill off around three thousand of his own people (Exodus 32:28), which he does and God forgives him.

Exodus 34:1. God tells Moses to come on back up the mountain with his own stone tablets this time and He will “write upon these tables the words that were on the first tables, which thou brakest.”

Exodus 34:14-28. This is where God writes down the commandment the second time and it’s a duplicate of what he wrote on the first set of tablets. He now calls this set the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28).  So, there you have it – the Real Ten Commandments:

1. Thou shalt worship no other god.
2. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
3. The feast of unleavened bread thou shalt keep.
4. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest.
5. Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
6. Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God.
7. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.
8. Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.
9. The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God.
10. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

Whew! That was a long one. Time for another cup of dark roast. See you all later!

Seventh Inning Stretch

“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”  (Genesis 2:2 KJV)

Ahhh, good coffee this morning.  Did you ever wonder why an omnipotent (all-powerful) God had to “rest” as stated in Genesis 2:2?  I suppose that for us humans regardless of our strength and endurance, we would still need to rest sooner or later.  But, God?  Rabbi Dr. Michael Samuel says that the more accurate translation of Shavat in not “rested” but “abstained” or “ceased.”

Regardless of why he rested or ceased all His work, He chose the seventh day and made this day holy – and He called it the Sabbath day.  As a covenant between Him and His chosen people He listed it in his all time top Ten Commandments:

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  (Exodus 20:8-10 NIV)

He was so adament about keeping the Sabbath that He imposed a severe penalty on those who disobeyed:

“For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of Sabbath rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death.” (Exodus 35:2 NIV)

So, you’re probably wondering what I’m getting at here.  Well, let’s take a closer look at the first verse I stated in Genesis 2:2 taken from the King James Version of the Bible.  It says that on the seventh day God ended his work, which implies that he did a little work on the seventh day but “ended” it on that day.  Then He creates a commandment for his chosen and tells them not to do any work on the seventh day even though he did work himself?  Doesn’t this pose a bit of a theological dilemma?  Why would God not permit the people to work on the seventh day when God performed at least a minimal amount of work on that day?

Come to find out, scholars have debated this issue for years.  The New International Version of the Bible tried to fix the boo boo by changing a couple of words:

“By the seventh day God had finished the work…”  (Genesis 2:2 NIV)

Nice try!  If you read the Hebrew (the Old Testament was written in Hebrew) text, or the Masoretic text, it literally says, “And on the seventh day God finished the work…”  But, the Greek Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Hebrew) has God finishing his work on the “sixth” day.  This verse was not found in the fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Scholars find multitudes of reasons to side with either interpretation.  But for me?  I sit here sipping on my dark roast, contemplating the plethera of textual varients of the Bible made available to me to peruse with my friend, Google.  And for now – time for a second cup…

The Adulterous Woman

Thou shalt not start the morning off without a great cup of coffee!  One of God’s missing commandments, well, in my mind anyway.  The Ten Commandments and Bill Clinton were on my mind this morning.  What the… I know what you’re thinking.  Remember back in 1998 when our President did not have “sexual relations” with Monica Lewinski?  Ha!  Adultery comes to mind – so I have a quizzical question for you.  What number on the Ten Commandments scale is Adultery listed?  Here’s a clue.  The answer varies depending on whether you’re a Protestant or a Catholic.  Protestant’s answer is number 7 and Catholic’s answer is number 6.  Trick question for most of you!

In the Gospel of John there is a very popular verse, “He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.”  Remember?  [Read John 8:1-11 for compete details.]  This story was about an adulterous woman who the Pharisees brought to Jesus.  For some reason they forgot to bring the man (Deuteronomy 22:22).  In any case, after the Pharisees cower away with their tails between their legs, Jesus lets her off the hook and tells her, “Go, and sin no more.”

What is Jesus trying to say here?  He chose not to condemn her.  I’m thinking that maybe we should take the planks out of our eyes first before judging others.  This is a great story but according to most scholars, this story isn’t in the “earliest and most reliable manuscripts.”  Yep, it’s one of those dang footnotes again.  Oh well.  Someone thought it was a great story to add it to John’s Gospel.

Let’s have another cup, shall we?

Oh, one last thought.  What do the following people have in common?
John Edwards, Arnold Schwargenegger, Prince Charles, Newt Gingrich, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jim Bakker, John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Rooselvelt, Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, Mark Sanford and Robert Tilton.   You guessed it!  They violated the 6th or 7th Commandment of God!

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

My coffee is really good this morning.  I prefer a dark roast but I’m willing to try just about anything.  Hope you’re enjoying a cup or two.

I read something interesting as well as shocking the other day.  The article stated that the divorce rate among Christians turns out to be the same rate as the National average – which is about 50%.  How can that be?  What would Jesus think about our high divorce rate?  Did Jesus prohibit divorce?  Here’s what I found.

The prohibition of divorce by Jesus is attested by three sources:  Paul (1 Cor. 7:10-11), Mark (Mark 10:1-2) and Q (Matthew 5:32 & Luke 16:18).  According to scholars it also passes the “criterion of dissimilarity” since divorce was permitted by the law of Moses (Deut. 24:1).  Because of this, scholars believe that Jesus “historically” said that divorce is absolutely prohibited.

Absolute prohibition of divorce is a radical thought among Christians but it is demanded by Jesus.  How are churches getting by with allowing a divorced Christian to remarry?   Time for another cup!

Black Sabbath

Did you ever wonder why God created the Sabbath?  Over coffee this morning I was able to find an answer in a couple of different places.  In Exodus 20:11 the reason was because God created the heavens and the earth, rested on the seventh day and made it holy.  Deuteronomy 5:15 has a different answer.  It’s because God wanted us to remember that we were once slaves in Egypt and God brought us out with his outstretched arms.  Well, since the writer of these two books was supposedly the same author maybe he just forgot what he had written earlier.

The Sabbath was important enough that it became one of the Ten Commandments that God gave to mankind:   “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God.  In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates” (Exodus:20:8-10).

The Sabbath is mentioned over 50 times in the four Gospels and the Pharisees accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath but according to Christian Apologists, this in an incorrect interpretation.  Maybe I’ll look into that sometime.  But for now, whatever the reason God created the Sabbath – death comes to those who do not comply (Exodus 31:12-15).  And it’s an interesting topic to ponder over a cup of dark roast.