1. O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.
2. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
3. what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.
4. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.
53. He guided them safely, so they were unafraid; but the sea engulfed their enemies.
54. Thus he brought them to the border of his holy land, to the hill country his right hand had taken.
55. He drove out nations before them and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance; he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes.
56. But they put God to the test and rebelled against the Most High; they did not keep his statutes.
57. Like their fathers they were disloyal and faithless, as unreliable as a faulty bow.
58. They angered him with their high places; they aroused his jealousy with their idols.
59. When God heard them, he was very angry; he rejected Israel completely.
60. He abandoned the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent he had set up among men.
61. He sent [the ark of] his might into captivity, his splendor into the hands of the enemy.
62. He gave his people over to the sword; he was very angry with his inheritance.
63. Fire consumed their young men, and their maidens had no wedding songs;
64. their priests were put to the sword, and their widows could not weep.
65. Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, as a man wakes from the stupor of wine.
66. He beat back his enemies; he put them to everlasting shame.
67. Then he rejected the tents of Joseph, he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
68. but he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loved.
69. He built his sanctuary like the heights, like the earth that he established forever.
70. He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens;
71. from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance.
72. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.
27. Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28. Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? 29. Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” 30. So the people rested on the seventh day.31. The people of Israel called the bread manna.d It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. 32. Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the desert when I brought you out of Egypt.’”
33. So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.”
34. As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna in front of the Testimony, that it might be kept. 35. The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.
36. (An omer is one tenth of an ephah.)
1. Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2. This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3. The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad. 4. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.5. Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.”
22. Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers. 23. With them they sent the following letter:
The apostles and elders, your brothers,
To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:
24. We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26. men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29. You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
30. The men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31. The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32. Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers. 33. After spending some time there, they were sent off by the brothers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. 35. But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.
You Must Obey…who?
Ah, the silly fathers of the early church. So lost so confused. So sad. They really mucked up a lot of things for the rest of us from the very beginning.
We never should have had to “do” anything to “be” a “Christian”. No pledge of faith, no outward mark or sign, no public declaration, no baptisms… none of these things “make” a “Christian”. The sad fact is that there was never anything that any of us could do or say to “earn” us God’s Grace and love. It is a free gift (Rom 5:16-17, 6:23), and cannot be earned!
However, from the very first days of the Christian church, the church fathers screwed it all up and made it something to “earn” and “keep”.
For instance, we read in Acts 15:
- One faction of early church father’s (mostly converted Pharisaic Jews) demanded that all male converts, including Gentiles, must conform to and obey the Law of Moses (Torah). They believed that no man could be truly “Christian” without conforming to the rite of circumcision. That’s a tough sales pitch to any adult male, Gentile or not.
- Then there was another faction that believed that forcing non-Jewish males to be circumcised was wrong, yet they still required certain standards of their own: no eating of food sacrificed at altars, no eating animals that were strangled as part of their butchering, and no sexual immorality.
While it may seem that the anti-circumcision group was being a little more reasonable, both groups were wrong. Dead wrong.
For you see, Yeshua the Anointed (“Jesus Christ” to the unfamiliar) gave no such requirements on behavior. There was nothing that should be “done” to prove your “Christian status” except one, just one, demand:
The True Cost of Membership
34. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Become, Belove, Behold
No creeds, no secret handshake, no circumcision, no baptism, no anointing, no ritual… just… love!
“Being Christian” is not about something you can earn, it is about becoming something. It is about becoming the kind of soul that loves others as Christ loved us.
And it is so much harder than reciting a creed or eating a wafer.
To “be Christian” is to become love, to belove God and the universal family of God, and to behold True Grace as it flows from you to the world.
For the sake of the world and all the people in it.
Not for your sake.
Never for your sake.
That’s “being Christian”.