Two mothers?

Question:  How could Joseph’s mother bow down to him when she had already died before he had his dream about the sun, moon and stars?

Answer:  The mother referred to by Israel (Genesis 37:10) was Leah, not Rachel.

This question touches upon two issues; ancient Hebrew family structure, and just what all of those dead people are up to currently.  I will address the family structure issue here.  The issue of where dead people are and what they are up to is a lengthy one to cover fully and I am already working on an answer to a question about that (which will be published on this blog as a separate post).

In Scripture, many of the people effectively have two or three “mothers” (and multiple “fathers” on a couple occasions) because of the rules of inheritance and the structure of the families. Occasions when different people are listed as the mother for the same child are often listed by those seeking to prove the inaccurate nature of scripture, but the only thing that they succeed in establishing is their own foolishness and lack of education.

The head of the household is the “Father”, and his first wife is the “Mother”.

To illustrate this, we will take a look at an individual in scripture, Dan, who has four “mothers” and two “fathers”:

Bilhah gave birth to Dan (Genesis 30:5), making her Dan’s (birth-) mother. (Mother 1; birth mother)

However, Bilhah was given to Jacob (Father 1; birth father)

by Rachel, to bear children on her behalf (as a surrogate mother) for her husband (Genesis 30:3), so Rachel is accurate in claiming “mother” status when she names this child to whom Bilhah gave birth (Genesis 30: 6).  (Mother 2; adoptive mother)

Laban appropriately claims Jacob’s children for his own (Laban was the one who raised and provided for them in Jacob’s absence, making him the “father”), (Father 2; adoptive father)

which makes Laban’s wife, who is unnamed in Scripture, also Dan’s mother (Genesis 31:26-28). (Mother 3; adoptive mother)

And Leah was Jacob’s first wife, so when Jacob finally assumes responsibility for his family on the return to his homeland, Leah becomes the “mother” of all of the children.  (Mother 4; step-mother & adoptive mother)

Jacob separates his children by the mother of their births when meeting his brother Esau, and such was wholly inappropriate as they were all his children and none deserved to be given a higher position than any other.

While this can initially be difficult to wrap your mind around, we have much the same system today. Children today have birth-mothers, step-mothers, adoptive mothers and mothers-in-law.  All of whom can be correctly referred to as their “mother” without the additional information being tacked on.

We see a simpler version of this going on in the Life of the Messiah, for whom the Lord himself is the birth-father (Luke 1: 35), while Joseph, through marriage to his mother, is also his “father” (adoptive father, John 6:42).

So, whenever you see a dual listing for someone’s mother or father within Scripture, pause and see if there is enough information given for you to determine what the dual “mothers” or “fathers” would be called today.  When you do, you will probably see all of the parentage related “contradictions” that detractors are so fond of pointing out fade away into the category of “non-issue” where they belong.

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If the Lord is so loving……

Question: If the lord love the little children, why are there so many starving, dying and abused children?

(please pardon the grammar, I have copied the question here exactly as it was sent to me)

Answer:  I was somewhat reticent about answering this one.  This is one of the top three questions asked by those seeking to make a mockery of someone else’s faith.  Unlike the other two, there is at least a possibility that this question was asked by someone honestly seeking an answer instead of someone seeking only to frustrate the one to whom the question was posed. So, while this is not exactly an original question, and often only posed to serve as a “gotcha” question, it does merit an answer.

The short version of the answer is : “Because those who are responsible for the care and safety of the children so afflicted are neglecting their duties.”

The complete answer takes a bit more ink…

First, it must be established that this question has, at its root, several false premises.  These can be uncovered by asking additional questions.  Do people die who are loved by the Lord?  Do people go hungry who are loved by the Lord? Do people suffer abuse who are loved by the lord?  As you can see through the simple expedient of picking up and reading a newspaper, all of these things happen to people who are loved by the Lord; if these things happen to anyone at all, they happen to someone who is loved by the Lord, and they are happening all over the world, to millions of people, not just children.

The first false premise is that a “loving” Lord would not allow the ones he loves to be hurt.  This is not the case any more than it is that children of loving parents are never injured.  The Lord loves everyone, and all people, adults and children, get hurt.  An assumption that the Lord would not allow someone to be hurt also assumes that the Lord is in control of and responsible for all that occurs in our lives.  He is not; we are. The Lord, creator of the heavens and the earth, is neither a tyrant nor a dictator.  Man has free will.  The Lord is NOT responsible for the actions of mankind; each and every one of us is responsible for our own actions.  Mankind was given stewardship over creation, that includes his fellow man.  WE are supposed to insure that these things do not happen, it is part of our job.  When these things happen, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

The second false premise is that the Lord is responsible for everything that occurs.  This question usually arises from someone who does not accept the reality of free will, or does not understand all that free will entails.  I myself have posed a similar question to my students during a class as a means of illustrating the foolishness of the doctrine of predestination and all of the subsequent “adjustments” that must be made to accommodate it.

The Lord gave us free will.  This was done out of necessity.  Obedience is not obedience in the absence of the possibility of disobedience.  Likewise, fellowship is not fellowship If the other person in the room with you is there because they are chained to the wall.  We are created for fellowship with each other, fellowship with the Lord, and stewardship over the rest of creation (stewardship is the “obedience” part).  None of this is possible without free will.  All of this is impossible with predestination.  The Lord guides us through his Spirit and his Word; he does not march us along as marionettes.  It is up to us to choose to do the right thing.

A portion of free will is that the Lord, having given us free will, does not violate it.

With free will, when abuse happens, we should weep all the more, for those who should have prevented that abuse did not.  Were predestination the case, when abuse happens, it is because a cruel, callous and hateful deity made it so.

The Lord loves all of his creation.  He loves all of creation so much that he has sought continually since the first portion of his creation turned away from him to reconcile all of creation back unto himself.  So great is his love for all of us that in his grace he allowed an other to die in our stead.  So great is his love that he gave us the Law to guide us, and Scripture to explain the pathway to reconciliation.  So great is his love that he gave us all the ability to choose.  So great is his love that he set in motion a mechanism to insure that none need ever suffer.  It is to our shame that many of us choose to stand by and do nothing while others choose to abuse those under their care.

It is not for failing of the love of the Lord that such injustice can occur, but for failure of us all to live within that love.

Under the Law?… or under Grace?

Question:  If you are really a Messianic Rabbi, why do you claim that we are still under the Law?

Answer: A better question would be: Why do you believe that we are NOT still under the Law when the Messiah himself said “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:18)?

The last time I looked around, the earth was still here.

Scripture is built line upon line and precept upon precept.  The only way that we can know with 100% certainty whether or not something is of the Lord is by holding it up and measuring it by his Word; if it is in agreement, it is of the Lord, if not, then it is simply the word of man.  This includes actions and statements recorded in Scripture.

In the second book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel, in chapter 33 of that book, there is an account of king Manasseh who made children to “pass through the fire”, set up an idol, built altars to false deities and generally behaved like a total idiot.  We know that all of these things were a bad idea and not of the Lord (even though they are recorded in Scripture) because all of them go directly against what the Lord has said.  The actions or words of a man being recorded in Scripture does not convey appropriateness or accuracy to those words or actions.

In many cases this is not a problem as the foolish actions or statements recorded are usually not things that have a great appeal to anyone who desires to serve the Lord. Problems arise, however, when the recorded folly of men is such that it appeals to believers.  Such is the case with the false concept that the sacrifice of the Messiah (or his resurrection, or his ascent… etc.), a sin offering, did away with or somehow fulfilled the Law in its entirety, thus releasing the people of the Lord from their responsibility in upholding the Law.  While we need no longer offer up a blood sacrifice for the remission of sin, as that sacrifice has already been made, the sin offering is only a portion of the Law.  Those who were reconciled to the Lord through the offering of a lamb or bullock still had to keep the rest of the law; the same applies to those who have been reconciled to the Lord through the offering of the Messiah.

When it comes to the question of Grace vs. the Law, the question itself is based upon a false premise.  It is by the grace of the Lord that we are afforded the opportunity to be reconciled to him through the Law instead of being eternally separated from him as a consequence of our rejection of his will. The consequence of sin is death (The soul that sinneth, it shall die. Ezekiel 18:20).  It is only the grace of the Lord that allows for this death to be that of other than the sinner.  We have been “under grace” since the fall of Adam and Eve; grace itself is a component of the Law.

The Lord instructed us to keep the Law. The Messiah told us that the Law would still be here until the passing of heaven and earth.  Why would I even consider following or spreading the teachings of any man who said otherwise?

The Problem with Abrogation

Shalom,

There is a need for people today to become familiar with the term “abrogation” insofar as how it relates to Scripture.  The principle of abrogation states that earlier revelations are superseded or nullified by later revelations that contradict them. For example; if there were an early portion of Scripture which clearly stated that eating chocolate was forbidden, and a later portion of Scripture which clearly stated that eating chocolate was needed for salvation, under the principle of abrogation the appropriate doctrinal stance is that the eating chocolate is a requirement, and the earlier portion of Scripture can be ignored as it is no longer valid.

There are several major problems with such a concept.  Should later “revelations” be held to replace earlier Scripture, there is no way to hold the speaker of such “new revelation” accountable; there is no way to prove the speaker’s words because they are against Scripture, and therefore no way to know if the speaker is truly speaking for the Lord.  Under the principle of abrogation, literally anyone can come along, claim to have a “new revelation” from the Lord, and promote it as the truth, no matter how great the difference between what the Lord has said, and this “new revelation”.

For us of the Judeo-Christian faith, abrogation serves as a big “red flag” letting us know that something is wrong.  Abrogation holds a host of unsavory implications.   Returning to the earlier example, there are only a few possible conclusions that can be arrived at (were abrogation a valid Scriptural principle), all of which are unacceptable:  the Lord got it wrong the first time; the Lord was lying when he made the first statement; or, should there be an accompanying statement about the earlier Scripture having been corrupted over the years, then the Lord is incompetent to maintain the integrity of his word.  Taking this into account, it is easy to see why Scripture is built line upon line, verse upon verse, with later portions of Scripture being constrained by the earlier portions of Scripture.  Were this scenario to have actually occurred, the correct Scriptural stance is that eating chocolate is forbidden, and whoever it was that said otherwise, later, was speaking against the Lord and this speaker’s words are recorded so that we will know this.

Scripture tells us that the Lord is unchanging; the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  His opinions do not change, his requirements for his people do not change, his purpose does not change.   It does not matter who says a thing, a Rabbi, a Pastor, a “Prophet”, a Preacher, an Apostle, a Theologian, a Pope, or just a man on the street; if their words do not line up with what Scripture has to say, it is not a message from the Lord.

Truly, “there is nothing new under the sun”.  The Messiah himself said that “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law, until all be fulfilled”…

…the earth was still here the last time I looked out my window.