Friday, June 15, 2012

No, the Old Testament was NOT written only for Israel but also for us

On his latest radio show, Brannon Howse discusses a meeting called Evangelical Immigration Table, in which a motley collection of evangelicals and others gathered to promote the acceptance of illegal aliens. That's a sad development in itself, but what prompted me to blog on it was the fact that they justify this action by a couple of verses in Leviticus:
Lev 19:33-34 And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. [But] the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I [am] the LORD your God.
Their take on it is ridiculous. There is certainly no call to treat illegal aliens as if they were citizens, because they are not, and as Matthew Henry points out in his commentary, the condition was that they worship the God of Israel. Idolators are not to be welcomed. Our aliens are alien not only by culture but by opposition to American values in many respects.

But that's another discussion.

The main thing I want to mention is Brannon Howse's assertion that they are wrong to base their ideology on a passage in the Old Testament for the simple reason that what was written to Israel was meant only for Israel. "We are not Israel. Let's not take verses that apply to Israel and say they apply to everybody and they apply to America."

This strange principle is one I've been encountering recently in the discussions about The Harbinger, which the critics from the very pro-Israel school of thought denounce for supposedly equating America with Israel.

It's finally become clear to me that this is really a sort of cultic point of view, perhaps even a heresy. It flies in the face of very familiar basic Christian teaching I would have thought the entire church took for granted. Of course we apply the Old Testament to ourselves and to our own times, and there's nothing odd if it turns out to specifically apply to a nation such as America either. That's how we learn that God judges nations for violations of His Law and that America is under judgment. Nobody applies it literally where it refers to the specific context of ancient Israel, but there is always an important principle we can take from even the most culture-specific lesson. This passage for instance is a good teaching against xenophobia or cultural chauvinism, an attitude that can be found in all times and places. It has nothing to do with illegal aliens who are in violation of the law.

It seems that Brannon Howse has been taking his cue on this from his friend and frequent guest, Jimmy DeYoung. He might want to consider consulting some other sources.

In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul is talking about the experiences of the Israelites and using them as an example for the church. The message is summed up in verse 11:
1Cr 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
And another relevant New Testament verse is:
Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Brannon's comments on the Evangelical Immigration Table are as usual illuminating, things we need to know, but this false idea about how we are to use the Old Testament mars the teaching.

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