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The Bible In A Year: Day 129

2 Samuel 1-2
Psalm 139-140
Acts 15

2 Samuel 1-2

Word arrives back to David that Saul and Jonathan are lost in the battle. The man who tells this message to David also tells him that he was near Saul when he was wounded and the enemy closed in on them, and Saul ordered him to kill him, and this young man obeyed.

Had this young man been a companion of David’s, and witnessed him twice refuse to kill Saul because he was God’s anointed king, he may have knew better than to reveal that Saul died by his hand. David tore his robes and mourned the death of the king and his good friend Jonathan, he also ordered the messenger to be killed for killing Saul.

David leaves and goes to Hebron where the leaders of his tribe, the tribe of Judah, proclaim him king. He sends a message to the men of the town that had taken Saul’s body down from the wall and buried him, he commended them for this act of kindness and respect and informed them that he was now the king of Judah.

Simultaneously as David is being crowned in Hebron, Abner is crowning Ishbosheth (or alternatively Ishbaal) as king over the other tribes of Israel. This creates a succession crisis, but unlike Saul his father, Ishbosheth is not the God anointed king and so David will have no moral qualms about going to war with him. This will devolve into a civil war for control of the kingdom.

Acts 15

The events in chapter 15 take place in Jerusalem and surrounds the first doctrinal question placed before the leadership of the church. This is commonly known as the council of Jerusalem, and it’s decisions are felt all the way to today.

A little background on this chapter; there was a group we now call the Judaizers and they insisted that one obey all the commands of the old covenant including the dietary law and circumcision. This was accepted by a sizable portion of the ethnically Jewish Christians, but for the gentile converts it was a major stumbling block. Apparently a large number of these judaizers and their supporters lived Antioch and were causing a headache for Paul and Barnabas who were based in that city.

The church in Antioch looked to the apostles, who at this time were still based in Jerusalem, as the final authority on doctrinal questions and so they send Paul and Barnabas to ask the apostles if the must require gentile converts to be circumcised to become full members of the church.

They meet with the apostles and tell them the problem and ask what to do. A debate takes place with lots of discussion, until Peter stands up into his leadership role and tells them what is going to happen. He says that God has shown them that the gentiles were accepted without circumcision and they shouldn’t place the yoke of the law upon the gentiles when the Israelites were never able to carry that burden.

Lots of people point to James standing up and giving pastoral advice as evidence that people wasn’t the leader of the apostles. This argument doesn’t really hold any weight because even a king has ministers and presidents have cabinet members, just to ma,e two other forms of governance. Peter is the leader and made his declaration that circumcision will not be required of converts, and James helps craft the pastoral plan to put this declaration into practice. One does not contradict the other.

James proposes that they send an apostolic letter to the believers in Antioch with four things listed which the gentile converts must obey. They are an abstinence from eating or drinking blood, from eating food sacrificed to idols, from sexual immorality. These rules are drawn from Leviticus 17-18 and were rules expected to be obeyed by all foreigners living among the Israelites. These gentile converts were living in close communities with people who’d lived as Jews among pagans their whole lives, and they viewed these practices as culturally pagan practices so they were highly offended by them. The apostles are telling the gentile converts to abstain from these things to keep the peace (except for the sexual immorality clause which is itself a moral evil) but these weren’t permanent laws.

The council of Florence in 1442 declared that the dietary restrictions of Acts 15 were only applicable in the early days of the Church when abstinence from eating and drinking blood was essential to keep the peace between ethnic groups living in close proximity. It was a cultural not moral law.

Tomorrow’s Readings:
2 Samuel 3-5
Psalm 141-143
Acts 16:1-15

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