Type of Christ

Q. Which OT characters do you consider to be humanly speaking perfect, who exhibit the character or qualities of Christ? I thought of Joseph but he has a cup which he uses for divination.

A. What you are asking is for the “types” of Christ, which could be persons or objects. The word “type” is generally used to denote a resemblance between something present (OT times) and something future (NT times), which is called the “antitype” (Christ).
Several people walked with God and were called “pleasing to God” or “blameless” in the Bible:
Gen 5:22, 24 Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. … Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. Heb 11:5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.
• Gen 6:8-9 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.
• Job 1:8 The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” 2:3 The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.”

But if you want longer narratives where you can study their biography for yourself, instead of only a few verses for Enoch, or recording Noah’s flaw in getting drunk and uncovering himself, consider Daniel. Some books on types (e.g. Torrey’s New Topical Textbook has a section on Types of Christ with 45 entries) do not list Daniel among them. However, when you read Daniel in detail, you will discover that the Bible did not record any sin in his life, and his courage, dependence on God, wisdom certainly reminds us of Christ’s qualities.

As to Joseph’s cup:
Gen 44:5 Is not this the one from which my lord drinks and which he indeed uses for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.
• Gen 44:15 Joseph said to them, “What is this deed that you have done? Do you not know that such a man as I can indeed practice divination?

V 5 is what Joseph taught his steward to say to his brothers when he overtake them. V 15 is what Joseph himself said to his brothers to test them. It could be that he used the cup for divination, or it could be that he said them only to trick them into thinking that he can discern what they were hiding. Joseph had this cup because his wife was Asenath the daughter of Potiphera priest of On (Gen 41:45, 50; 46:20), and he was just saying this as an excuse. In any event, this is circumstantial and not concrete evidence to prove that he practiced divination. I believe his position is stated in:

Gen 40:8 Then they said to him, “We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.”
• Gen 41:16 Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”
• Gen 41:25 Now Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same; God has told to Pharaoh what He is about to do.
• Gen 41:28 It is as I have spoken to Pharaoh: God has shown to Pharaoh what He is about to do.

Repeatedly Joseph attributed the interpretations to God, not to his divination. So I would not hold the possession of the cup against him.

Abortion

Q. In general Christians are against abortion but abortion is not in the Bible. If my own daughter got raped, I won’t hesitate to support her in getting an abortion. What do you think?

A. The word “abortion” does not occur in the Bible but the idea does. The principle is in “You shall not murder”, which is reiterated 5 times in Ex 20:13; Deut 5:17; Mt 5:21, 19:18 and Rom 13:9. The word “murder” translates:
• the Hebrew verb ratsach, which means to slay, kill, whether premeditated, accidental (manslaughter), as avenger, or intentional, to assassinate
• the Greek verb phoneuo, meaning to kill, slay, commit murder.

Contrary to what pro-choice claims, the fetus is not part of the woman’s body. It has its own DNA distinct from that of his/her mother. According to the Bible, life begins at conception, not after the baby is born:
Ps 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
• Ps 139:13-16 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

So to kill an unborn baby for the sake of convenience is premeditated or intentional murder, and trespass the sixth commandment.

Having said that, I sympathize with anyone’s wife or daughter who was impregnated when raped. It is not her fault that the violence was forced upon her, nor the fetus’ fault who is simply a passive recipient of the violence. It is the rapist’s fault who should be punished for his crime. So why kill the innocent baby for the perpetrator’s crime?

The victim may not want to raise up an unwanted child, a reminder of the wrong done to her. But why commit a second wrong by abortion, when it can’t rectify the first wrong of rape? Hard as it is to ask, if she does not want the child, can she deliver the child and then give him/her up for adoption? There are many couples lining up to accept and love the innocent child. Can the mom do good by bearing with the pregnancy and then place her child with a loving family? This is redemption by turning a bad thing into good. I hope and pray more would consider it.

Divorce

Q. I know an abusive husband who beats his wife black and blue. I have no qualms advising her to divorce him. What do you think?

A. What I think is not important. What God thinks is. The Bible is very clear on the subject of divorce:
Mal 2:16 For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the LORD of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”
• Mt 5:31-32 It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Also Mt 19:7-9; Mk 10:11-12; Lk 16:18
• 1 Co 7:11-12 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.

God hates divorce, but allows it for the reason of unchastity, when the marriage covenant had been broken. Being married to an unbeliever spouse is not a biblical ground for divorce, nor is spousal abuse specifically allowed as an exception to the rule of “no divorce”. I sympathize with the spouse who is subject to abuse, and would advise “separation” to protect herself/himself against further abuse.

One point seldom discussed. Although God hates divorce, He Himself sent Israel and Judah away and gave them a writ of divorce because of their spiritual adultery:
Is 50:1 Thus says the LORD, “Where is the certificate of divorce By which I have sent your mother away? Or to whom of My creditors did I sell you? Behold, you were sold for your iniquities, And for your transgressions your mother was sent away.
• Jer 3:8 And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.

Yet He waited for them and gave them opportunities to repent and return to Him. I think we can follow not only what He said but what He did.

We once met a sister who cried throughout as she told us how her husband abused her not just physically, but mentally, verbally and sexually. I don’t know the extent of his perversion, but “unchastity” translates the Greek word porneia, which is defined as illicit sexual intercourse, including:
• adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
• sexual intercourse with close relatives (i.e. incest, Lev 18);
• sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman (Mk 10:11-12);
So depending on what he had done, he might have broken the marriage covenant already, even though he did not have a mistress.

She did not want to report him to the police for fear that he would be jailed, and that there will be repercussions. We advised her for the sake of her own and their children’s safety, she must separate themselves from him. Since he is perverted, he might go after the children when he no longer gets excitement after abusing her.

To try to get to the root of the problem, we also witnessed to her husband in the hope that he would repent. He listened to the gospel but did not receive Christ at that time. However, we were glad to learn that he had treated his wife better from that time on, and occasionally would even come to church himself. We understand your concern for your abused friend, but I would follow the Bible as best as we can without going beyond what the Lord permits.

Shrewd Manager Part 2 of 2

(Continued from yesterday)

Do indirectly what they are not permitted to do directly. Lenders hire an agent to do their dirty work, with authority to determine the “interest”. If they are caught, the master disavow any knowledge and shifts the responsibility to the agent. This is no different from governments nowadays denying any knowledge of their agents’ covert operations if they are discovered.

Redefining terms so that “technically” they do not break the Law. To do that loans were given out at a discount, similar to how Treasury bills are transacted today. For example, a bill with a face value of $100 can be issued to a purchaser for $90.90. Upon maturity the issuer pays the buyer the nominal $100. The difference of $9.10 is the imputed interest of 10% on $90.90. Neither the principal nor the interest is explicitly spelled out, just how much has to be repaid upon maturity. Only the lender and borrower knew what the real interest was. Since interest was not mentioned in any document, they reasoned that they had not broken any law. This is similar to people redefining when does life begin, marriage and gender to justify abortion, homosexuality, and gender confusion. They are self-deceived and deceiving others. Both ploys were used in this parable.

Third, the interest rates used. The manager reduced a debt of 100 measures of oil to 50, but 100 measures of wheat to 80. Why? Oil, likely olive oil, was a valuable commodity. The yield and the quality vary from year to year depending on the weather, and risk is high. Unscrupulous borrowers can also mix “extra virgin” olive oil with ordinary olive oil, or even add water which sits at the bottom of the cistern and not easily discovered. To “protect” themselves loan sharks charged a usurious rate of 100%, so 50 principal + 50 interest =100. Wheat is a more common staple. Although borrowers can cheat by putting sand at the bottom of the bushels, it’s harder to conceal, so the rate was commonly 25%, such that 80 principal + 20 interest (25%) = 100. What the manager did, then, was to reduce the respective bills to their principal only, what the debtors actually received from the rich man, waiving the embedded interest altogether, which the master was not supposed to charge in the first place according to the Law. No wonder the debtors were happy and the master could not charge him with fraud since he complied with the Law!

Seen in the light of its historical-cultural context, the unrighteous steward found a way to gain favor with the debtors, while at the same time making right any wrongs his master might have done by charging usurious interest (unless if he is totally unaware of his manager’s dealings). I believe that’s why he was praised for his shrewdness. The Lord is indeed teaching us to use the wealth entrusted to us wisely to further eternal ends, but understood this way I believe it resolves misunderstandings some might have toward this parable. Hope this helps.

Shrewd Manager Part 1 of 2

Q. How can Jesus use the unrighteous steward in Lk 16 as a model for us to follow? He squandered his master’s resources and reduced the repayment required from debtors. How can he be an example?

A. That’s a good question. Some commentators argue that a parable has one main point and we need not dwell on the peripherals of the story. They suggest that Jesus was teaching His disciples to make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness. He was not commending the steward for his dishonesty, but for his shrewdness. The rest of the story does not matter.

I disagree, based on Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the Sower, His basic parable (Mk 4:13). Each element there – the sower, the seeds, the soils, the birds – means something. I am not suggesting that you spiritualize things to force meaning into each and every little detail in all parables, but usually we misinterpret the parables because we do not do enough homework to understand the culture and customs of those times.

Let’s work through the issues. First, the rich man or master. If he represent God, how can he praise his manager? This puzzled many Christians. My opinion is that the master here plays the same role as the unrighteous judge in Lk 18:1-8, as a contrast rather than a comparison to God. There, if the unrighteous judge is willing to give the widow legal protection because of her continual petition, how much more is God willing to answer the prayers of those who kept coming to Him. Here, if the master praises the manager because he acted shrewdly, how much more will God commend the sons of light if we are more shrewd in using wealth to accomplish eternal purposes.

Second, the matter of interest. Israelites were not allowed to charge interest when they lend to fellow Jews, only to foreigners:
Ex 22:25 If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, you are not to act as a creditor to him; you shall not charge him interest.
• Deut 23:19-20 You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess.

However, to circumvent this restriction cunning creditors devised two schemes:

(To be continued)