I’m reading the New Testament for the umpteenth time. (I’ve not taken to Bible study guides and prefer to read the Bible from cover to cover, over and over again).
As I read chapters one to three of Matthew, I noticed a marked difference between the things I learnt as a child and what I now understand as an adult. Maturity and training influence a person’s understanding of God’s word. The Holy Spirit inspires but without base understanding of some concepts, it would seem there are things he can never explain to you. For instance, as Moses had no understanding of the scientific properties of light, his writing of the science of Genesis was very rudimentary. A comparative study of science is required to fully appreciate this book of the Bible. I am not surprised that people still erroneously believe the earth is only about six thousand years old when Sun regulated timing didn’t even begin until the 4th creation “day”. But I digress.
As I studied Matthew as an adult, it became obvious that the wise men (Astrologers) may or may not have been three in number. The Bible doesn’t say. It just says they brought three kinds of gifts. They also came to a house not a manger and based on Herod’s (the King’s) age calculations from his verbal grilling of the Astrologers, Jesus was already a toddler at the time. This kinda skews the Nativity scene we recreate at Christmas, doesn’t it? The visit by the Shepherds doesn’t overlap the visit by the Wise Men.
As Matthew recounts Jesus’ genealogy, I notice that most of his descendants are given cursory mentions but some warrant special attention like Rahab and Ruth. I wonder who will be mentioned when my history is recounted; those without whom my story will not be complete.
I also read about the character of a man called Joseph, an honourable man. I was reminded that character determines actions. A man’s values can overcome cultural and traditional conventions if he seeks to do good. If you really want to get to know someone, study their character and their actions.
As I studied, I was reminded that God is not a moral God but a righteous God. Relative morality and finger pointing seem to have begun after the fall when mankind ate the fruit of the knowledge of good & evil. Prior to that, God was the only arbiter of good & evil and of Truth. Now mankind seeks to define the benchmarks for morality. It changes from generation to generation and from society to society. You are moral relative to someone else’s behaviour or your cultural norms.
God’s constitutional framework is righteousness and his code of conduct is his Word. In Matthew chapter 2, as the prophecies were fulfilled of the locations associated with Jesus (Bethlehem and Egypt), God warns Joseph to evacuate his family to safety. He doesn’t deem it necessary to warn the hundreds of families whose children were subsequently slaughtered. Hmmn. In my adult years, I’m more open to asking difficult questions and confronting uncomfortable truths.
I understand better the consequences of the “original sin”, and how Adam’s status as the federal head of mankind (and his disobedience) has grave implications for his descendants and for the earth. From evil desires to horrifying gene mutations. I wonder, “Does a President’s actions affect innocents?” Yes. Blaming God for the evil in the world seems moot if we recognise that man has free will. And we complain about evil yet reject the solution – Jesus.
I now appreciate how a righteous God can get involved in the affairs of men when it aligns with his overarching programme for the Universe or when a man exercises faith or God chooses to demonstrate compassion.
My study of the Bible is progressing. There is just so much to learn. I am excited.