Reading the Old Testament is essential to understanding the New. When Christians read the Old Testament, we see Christ in every book. For example, in Genesis, the near-sacrifice of Isaac prefigures God's sacrifice of His son (Genesis 22); and in Numbers, the serpent lifted up prefigures our sin lifted on the cross (Number 20). Yet some passages in the Old Testament are hard to understand. Here are a few questions you may have. I've consulted Jewish authorities on some of these topics as well, because they obviously take the Old Testament very seriously and in many cases have good insights!
1) Why is polygamy practiced in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament, marriages are monogamous?
God created the first human, Adam, and then created a "helper as his partner" in Genesis 2:18, "ezer kenegdo" in the Hebrew. This Hebrew phrase is nearly impossible to translate: a perfect translation would be "a helper as one standing across from him," but that doesn't quite capture it, since usually, the Hebrew word "helper" references God, and it does not have the condescending connotation we give it today (the "help"). The image is of salt and pepper shakers perfectly made for one another. It's to this verse that Jesus refers in Mark 10 and Matthew 19 when he describes two people becoming one flesh. If this is what God intended for marriage, why did God allow polygamy? First, note that God never commands polygamy. Rather, it seems that God is working with what He has, so to speak. Humankind is very fallen indeed from the state we were in in the Garden. Rabbi Daniel Flesker explains that it's clear that polygamous relationships are rife with problems; in Hebrew, these relationships are described in the Bible as "tzora." "Tzora" means "tough!" Over time, humankind grows in our relationship with God and our understanding of holiness, and Jesus explains that God allows divorce, for example, due to our "hardness of heart," but God's intention for marriage was for a lifelong physical and spiritual union—of two!
2) Why are there so many details about the Tabernacle and the Temple? Is it really important that they use loops to join one linen sheet to another?
Rabbi Flesker offers helpful explanation: the Tabernacle was the first time God's people learned how to experience God's presence into their lives.
Therefore, every detail has meaning! For example, the ark had a wooden frame, but was completely covered in pure gold. What are we if not living vessels of God's Word—little arks? The Rabbi says, "This teaches that someone who wishes to be a worthy vessel of G-d’s word must have purity and sincerity of thought that matches his or her actions." He goes on to say, "Perhaps the central idea we can take away is this: 'Make for Me a Tabernacle and I will dwell amongst you' (Exodus 25:8) can be homiletically understood that each one of us has the ability to make room for G-d in our hearts and in our lives; and if we do, G-d will surely fill that space." Christian commentator David Gurzik has this to say about the loops: "the spiritual principle illustrated with this method of joining the curtains is unity in diversity." That is, the curtains are not sewn together, but they are held together by a common bond, the way God's people each have our own conscience, character, and calling, but we have a common bond, our unity in Christ.
3) What is the significance of the food laws?
There are several important messages here. First, God set His people apart from others. They were to be different, in every aspect of life, from their polytheistic neighbors. This separateness helped to keep them in rightful worship and holiness of life. Second, Christian scholar Walter Kaiser explains that these laws, to some extent, prevented the people from experiencing diseases like "tapeworm, trichina in pork, tularemia in rabbits, and infection in shellfish." Third, according to Jewish scholar Michael Dallen, the kosher laws demonstrate respect for animals: "the kosher food laws exist to ensure the good treatment of the animals we eat, and that the human beings who follow the laws will behave as human beings ought, as G’d’s stewards over this planet, as the elect of His Creation, and not just as fellow animals, competing like dogs for good eats….animals…are dispatched as painlessly and unexpectedly as possible." As the Gospel spread to Gentiles, God revealed to the Christian community that the kosher laws weren't as important as sharing the Good News with the whole world. But our first diet, in the Garden, was vegetarian (see also Daniel 1), and according some interpretations of Revelation 21:4, we will not eat meat in heaven. There's no reason a Christian can't go back to kosher if you wish to, so long as you don't pass judgment on others (Romans 14)! Hope these explanations help you to receive some of the many lessons Scripture has to teach us!
Year of the Bible: Don't lose heart! The Word of God is the lamp unto our feet and the light unto our path. The Old Testament can be challenging, but it deepens and strengthens our understanding of God, and of the New Testament as well. Make sure to consult commentaries or email Pastor Marianne about passages that are confusing for you. Oftentimes resources can shed some light on what you're reading, and give you historical context to understand why it was important and how it applies to today. You can submit any questions about what you've been reading to Pastor Marianne at firstname.lastname@example.org, and she'll address them during the sermon.
|February Reading Schedule
Serving in the Lord’s House
Thank-you to all who are assisting this month!
Please contact a member of Session if you are interested in serving as a Liturgist during our
February 5: Susie Regula
February 12: Andy LeCureaux
February 19: Don Reinke
February 26: Janie Castle
Sunday Morning Worship.
February 5: The Reinke Family
February 12: Margaret Rossnagel
February 19: Volunteer Needed
February 26: Mike Woodcox
See Margaret Rossnagel if you would like to be
Sunday School Teachers:
February 5: Shari Alston and Debbie Collins
February 12: Linda Finn and Don Reinke
February 19: Sue Smith and Garry Smith
February 26: Don Reinke and Becca Castle
13 David and Denise Angle
15 Susie and Paul Regula
15 Linda and Brian Finn
1 Braydon McNamara
4 Donald Olson
5 Betsy Bunge
8 Lucy Reinke
9 Steve Doty
12 Grace Kuhn
15 Peggy Beal
16 Betty Groh
19 Brian Finn
22 Mary Guss
24 Debbie Collins
If you have a concern that you would like us to put on the prayer chain, please contact Deb Collins at 248-649-3692 or Sandy Woodcox at 248-320-3182.
⦁ For our nation, world and leaders, especially during these times of tension and turmoil.
⦁ For those who travel.
⦁ For those who mourn, especially the families of Michael Bennett and Esther Chaney who recently entered God’s Kingdom.
⦁ For our military members; those deployed; veterans; for military families; first responders/their families.
⦁ For pastors, church leaders and those who serve tirelessly with mission work. We think especially of Steve & Marge Doty and Amy.
⦁ For families that struggle or need patience.
⦁ For all concerns not articulated or spoken, but on our hearts and minds.
⦁ For persecuted Christians.
⦁ For our shut-ins.
⦁ For the medical concerns of: Amanda, Betty, Dave, Dick, Gail, Jennifer, Joe, Linda, Richard, Rosemary, Sally, Sarah and Graham, Scott, Dave Angle, Rosemary Beauchamp, Gene Bryant, Megan Burlee, Rachel & Will Klaus, Carol Eads, Bill Gleason, Richard Horn, Betty Kingstrom, Susan Kahn, Grace McCullough, Tom McCullough, Robert Mertz, Michelle Nesbitt, Don Olson, Terry Raredo, Bev Schell, Lisa Somers and Velma Wills.
⦁ For those fighting cancer: Andy, Evonne, Ethan, Robin, Michelle, Steve, Carol Anderson, Jerry Edmonds, Gloria Farris, Christine Fetterhoff, Marian Johnson, Sheila Judd, Carol Kaiser, Dennis Kennedy, Tom McCullough, Mark Stamat, Janice Warner and Sandy Warner.
⦁ For those experiencing personal struggles: Those needing comfort during transition and change; those seeking employment, the homeless; those who are losing their homes; families experiencing effects of natural disasters/bad weather.
⦁ For those struggling with addictions and those recovering, that they may continue to heal.
To add someone to the Prayer List, please contact the church office at
(248) 288-3230 or via email: email@example.com.
Starr Presbyterian Church Contacts
Shari Alston 248-545-6157
Janie Castle 248-961-6565
Linda Finn 248-221-7252
Lon Kuehn 248-506-9982
Michael Woodcox 248-320-3179
Sandy Woodcox 248-320-3182
Rick Crawford 248-548-4878
Don Reinke 248-399-9053
Norm Rossnagel 248-585-7417
Jennifer Taub, Office Administrator
Rev. Marianne Grano:
Web Address: www.starrchurch.org