Drinking Deeply

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 at 12:40 AM

God vs. neighbor

Very rarely does the command of "loving God" conflict with "love your neighbor." In fact, properly defined, I don't think the commands conflict at all.

But sometimes, what someone thinks is an act of love to our neighbor is not one at all, but rather is an act of hating God, and by implication, not loving your neighbor.

Ezra has a couple of cases like that -

During the first wave of Israelites, there were a number of Israelites who wanted to come along, and claimed an inheritence with the rest of them, but unfortunately, their names were not mentioned or all record had been lost, so they couldn't prove their decendence from the tribes.

What was the right thing to do for the Israelites? Was it, "Oh, I'm sure you're in there, it's ok, come and join us anyway." No, it was instead "you are not allowed to partake until your genealogies are proven."
Ezra 2

61 Also, of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, and the sons of Barzillai (who had taken a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name). 62 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but they were not found there, and so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 63 The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food, until there should be a priest to consult Urim and Thummim.
Even though it has them listed in Ezra as "sons of the priests," so presumably they were actually true Israelites and true priests, they couldn't partake just in case. Today such a move to fence the table of the Lord and ask people to prove their faith would be seen as outrageous and presumptuous and judgmental. But obedience to the Lord must trump what other people think is right or wrong.

Another case in Ezra 4
4:1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel, 2 they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers' houses and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here.” 3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers' houses in Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”

Wolves try sneak in to try to deceive the Israelites and mess up their plans, but the Israelites, instead of bowing to today's views of inclusivism and "dialog" don't see it that way, but call a wolf a wolf. "You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God." Why is it today we are ready to embrace anyone and everyone who even suggests that we worship the same God? Check out Challies (here and here) on this topic, he says it so much better than I do.

Finally, one last act of love for God in Ezra 10
10 And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. 11 Now then make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” 12 Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, “It is so; we must do as you have said. 13 But the people are many, and it is a time of heavy rain; we cannot stand in the open. Nor is this a task for one day or for two, for we have greatly transgressed in this matter. 14 Let our officials stand for the whole assembly. Let all in our cities who have taken foreign wives come at appointed times, and with them the elders and judges of every city, until the fierce wrath of our God over this matter is turned away from us.” 15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supported them.
What happens here? Mass divorce, putting away children and wives. All for the glory of God, that He might turn away His wrath (v. 14). And we wonder why society is regressing. Could it be that God's wrath remains upon us for not shunning evil and obeying God but rather bowing to the modern idols of tolerance and dialog?

Now, to be clear, I'm not against loving our neighbors per se, I'm against the idea that love is defined according to cultural opinions (which basically involve "allowing them and their views, being open to them, tolerating them."). Instead, we ought to define "loving our neighbors" in a biblical sense, which includes doing good to them physically, but also involves hating what they believe, what they stand for, being opposed to them in ideology and in practice. (Psalm 139:21, 2 Corinthians 10:5, 2 Corinthians 6:14-15).

Jude 23b
"to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh."
Can we include that in our definition of true love?


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