Tagged: Judgment

Romans 14:1-12

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on September 17, 2017.

At first read, Romans 14:1-12 seems to deal with matters which no longer concern us: cultural and religion driven divisions over food laws and calendars. Once we dig into the text, though, its potential application to tensions among Christians of any era become apparent. I’ve found it useful to keep the following matters in mind, as I work with the text.

First, the situation may be more complex than we sometimes think. No doubt gentile Christians made up the majority of the Roman congregation, while Jewish Christ followers comprised a minority. It’s tempting to assume a simple division between two groups in which gentiles believe Kosher laws and the Jewish religious calendar obsolete and Jewish adherents insist on the necessity of observance.

My hunch is any number of the Gentile Christians in the Roman church had been God-fearers before becoming Christians. If so, many of them may have been inclined to take food laws and the Jewish calendar seriously. As for the Jewish component of the church, perhaps a number of them took the same tack as Paul with regard to such matters and felt free to observe or not observe the food laws and calendar.

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Exodus 12:1-14

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on September 10, 2017.

Much has happened between Exodus 3:1-15 and Exodus 12:1-14. God provides Moses with signs for the times. Moses receives a spoiler alert on how the encounter with Pharaoh will end and then God sends him back to Egypt to set the plan in motion. As foretold by God, a triad of plagues in triplets strike the land of Egypt as Pharaoh and God take turns in hardening the King’s heart. In this rhythmic dance, a noticeable pattern emerges, in the first two plagues of each triplet Pharaoh is warned and instructed to let the Israelites go. When he refuses, the aforementioned plagues take place. However, the final plague in each triplet comes upon Egypt without warning, and with each plague, the severity grows even worse. Now the tenth and final plague is given to Pharaoh affixed with a warning label of “extreme danger” as a disclaimer for disobedience. Here we find the Passover (Exodus 12:1-13:16), in between the call of Moses occurring “in the past” and the fulfillment of a promise by God “in the future” with special instructions for God’s people, Israel, to follow in between “in the present.” A closer inspection of Exodus 12:1-14 unveils the Passover is more than a dietary meal for the purpose of remembrance for the posterity of Israel. The Passover signifies the messiness of life, where the tension between the call of God and the realization of the promise of God takes place in our lives. It’s the “in between” phase of life where God doesn’t merely pass over His people, but provides them with a specific set of instructions for their obedience and ultimately their deliverance.

During this crucial stage of the journey, God relays to Moses and Aaron that a new day has dawned for His people, as God orders a blank slate on the tablet of time for chronicling the history and identity of the Israelites based on what God is about to do (Exodus 12:1-2). Whether the Hebrews would now have two calendars (a civic and religious) or recalibrate their existing way of tracking time, one thing is for certain, the 15th of Nisan has become the origin of a new axis, a new season and way of life. More than that, God places emphasis on the family unit, household, as the means by which the Passover is experienced and celebrated. The importance of community bears mentioning in a time where our current society places enormous emphasis on individuality.

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