Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 4 (Part Ten)

Is it Possible to Keep God’s Law?
            Deuteronomy 30:11 (NWT) states: “Now this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it beyond your reach. It is not in the heavens, so that you have to say, ‘Who will ascend to the heavens and get it for us, so that we may hear it and observe it?’ Nor is it on the other side of the sea, so that you have to say, ‘Who will cross over to the other side of the sea and get it for us, so that we may hear it and observe it?’ For the word is very near you, in your own mouth and in your own heart, so that you may do it.”
The skeptic takes this to mean: You can keep it perfectly. He, then, cites Romans 3:19-20,23 for proof that no one can remain sinless, but that they would fail to keep the Law. But, we see, as Paul says, the Law was not meant to be perfectly kept. Nor did it say that it could be – it included sacrifices in cases of sin, why could it do so unless people would disobey it? Therefore, there is no problem.

Does the Mosaic Law Tend Toward Life or Death?
            The skeptic quotes Leviticus 18:5 (WEB), which states: “You shall therefore keep my statutes and my ordinances; which if a man does, he shall live in them: I am Yahweh.” From this he makes the statement that the Law tends toward life. Then, he quotes Ezekiel 20:23-25 (WEB), which says: “I swore to them in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the nations, and disperse them through the countries; because they had not executed my ordnances, but had rejected my statutes, and had profaned my Sabbaths, and their eyes were after their father’s idols. Moreover also I gave them statutes that were not good, and ordinances in which they should not live.” He says that this says: the Law does not tend toward life. However, it was proper use, or obedience of the Mosaic Law that tended toward life. But, it was disobedience of the Law that tended toward death. There is no problem.
Now, what of the last saying in Ezekiel? Did Jehovah mean that he gave wicked commandments to the people and that those commandments could not give life? If he did, he did not equate the Law Covenant with those commandments, for it was those bad statutes and ordinances that were transgressions of the Law. It was those customs, laws, and practices that could not give life. Jehovah did not actually give those to Israel, but they were already practiced in the land, hence the many warnings not to practice such ways. (Leviticus 18:3,30; 20:23; Deuteronomy 12:30; 2 Kings 17:8; Jeremiah 10:2)  He did not give those customs to Judah or Israel, but the saying “I gave them” merely means “I allowed them.”[1] Jehovah, as the Almighty permits everything to happen that does, so in that sense it is as if – but not literally – he directly does all things, which is why often times the Hebrew writers speak that way.

[1] See Psalm 81:12.

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