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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 2 (Part Seven)

Were the Israelites Many or Few in Egypt?
            There is an interesting dichotomy between Israel being regarded as small, and yet ‘as numerous as the stars.’ However, it is only when both are taken literally that a contradiction arises. Take this example, which the skeptic urges upon us; He says that since Exodus 1:9 (NWT) says: “Look! The people of Israel are more numerous and mightier than we are,” there can be no way that Deuteronomy 7:7 (NWT), which says: “It was not because you were the most numerous of all the peoples that Jehovah showed affection for you and chose you, for you were the smallest of all the peoples,” can be true.
            If taken literally they could not both be true, for Exodus indicates that Israel continued to grow. However given the human proclivity to exaggerate these can be reconciled. Egypt’s fear of being overthrown by an internal threat when a foreign enemy came against them caused the ever-growing size of Israel to seem larger than [i.e., a potent threat to] Egypt. However, Israel, while likely not larger than many nations, still numbered about 3 million. It was in this state that they were called small. Moses wanted to instill humility in them and a trust in Jehovah rather in their own might. The word choice because understandable; Israel was large, but not that large, they were powerful, but not powerful enough to rely upon themselves, so there is no contradiction.

Did Jesus Drink Wine Again?
            This is a more obscure contradiction, one that takes carefully reading to even find, yet can be solved if we step back and look at things afresh. Jesus says at Luke 22:17,18 (NWT): “Take this and pass it from one to the other among yourselves, for I tell you, from now on, I will not drink again from the product of the vine [wine] until the Kingdom of God comes.” However he does drink wine, for John 19:30 says: “When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said: “it has been accomplished!”” Here he refers to Psalm 69:21.
            There are two possible solutions that we can discuss.  The first is this: Jesus meant that he would not drink wine until the Kingdom of God was sure to come, that is he was speaking figuratively. This accounts for why at first he was offered sour wine (vinegar) and refused – his suffering and testing was not yet complete – and yet when he was about to die he drank some to fulfill the psalm.
            However, I find this tentative at best and weaker to the solution thart the context shows. Jesus, when he gave his promise not to drink wine again, was instituting what is known as “the Lord’s Evening Meal.” Matthews’ account is slightly more exhaustive than Luke’s. See what Matthew 26:29 (NWT) says: “But I say to you: I will by no means drink again any of this product of the vine [wine] until that day I drink it new with you in the Kingdom of my Father.” Here it is not wine in general, but this wine, which is to say the wine of the Lord’s Evening Meal. He promises that he will drink it again in a figurative sense.
            This solution, being the best one there is and superior than the alleged contradiction, is backed up in a similar phrase, namely: “I have greatly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:16 NWT) It is obvious to Jesus that he would not be alive to see the next Passover, so why say ‘I’m not going to eat it again?’ other than to say that the next partaking of it will be figurative? So too the next drinking of the wine of the Lord’s Evening Meal (the wine that represented the “Blood of the Covenant”) will be drunk “a new.” This wine, not being “wine” in general, nor the Passover being just any meal (of bread, bitter greens, etc.) presents no contradiction to the recorded instances that Christ ate after his meal.

Who Let Pharaoh’s Heart Become Hardened?

            There is a maxim, “he who acts through another does the act himself,” which the skeptic has conveniently forgotten. Jehovah commissioned Moses as his spokesmen, and Aaron as Moses’ spokesmen. Is it then a surprise that whatever Aaron did because Moses told him was ascribed to God, whose power it was doing the work? There is no contradiction.

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