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October 09, 2013

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Always wondered about that command. It seems like that is the best solution, since Torah tells us the priests are to use twisted linen garments. How about an explanation for some of the other less obvious ones? Like don't shave the sides of your beard or kosher food laws?

Great post, and great catch on the danger of drawing a analogy to today's "laity" and "elders".

I would totally agree that among the many applications of this command, it certainly sets up a distinction between those who were Levite priests and the rest of the Israelite congregation; however, the purpose of that is not to draw an analogy to the New Testament church structure. To do so ignores the entire gist of books such as Hebrews, as Amy pointed out, which definitively draws a contrast between the OT structure and the change that occurred as a result of Jesus' saving work on the cross. Not only was Jesus' sacrifice an individual event, it also served to set up the corporate structure in which Jesus is head of the Church and we submit to him and draw a distinction between us and Jesus; that's the place for the analogy.

In other words, the purpose of this command is to highlight the contrast and not the similarity. Further, just as we are to submit to those who shepherd us as elders, we are also all, elders included, commanded in a broader sense to submit to one another. I think this is why the pattern we see in the NT for biblical congregations is one in which the elders are regarded and regard themselves as "fellow labourers" and not "ruling elders"...

I think you are reading way too much into it. Don't forget the culture that would have understood the meaning behind such a command died out 600 years before Christ. So 2600 +\-. The last living people who had any clue what many of those things meant were the parents of Daniels generation, and they are generations removed from Moses. It could very well be just a practical commandment like many of the mold regulations. Just because we wear poly cotton blends today doesn't mean it could have been feasible then. It is most likely because wool shinks and linen doesn't so cloth made of a wool linen blend would be shoddy and GOD didn't want his people to look dishelved. Not everything has a hidden meaning. The surface message in the bible is hard enough for people to get without mining esoterica which isn't relevent anyway. I was under the impression that NOBODY wore blended garments in Isreal including the priests, which would tend to "mitigate" the separation arguments. One other thing Wool\Linen blends are available today because of preshrunk wool and dry cleaning. (But I ain't gonna wear them cuase I don't wanna get struck by lightning) ;-)

John, there are commands in the Law for the use of mixed threads for the priests and for the tabernacle (see above). This is what I had missed before. And I think that today, we don't understand the continuity of culture that used to exist up until recent centuries when things started changing so quickly. The explanation above was given by Josephus who was part of the Jewish culture at the time of Jesus.

Not about threads specifically, but the OT Law as a whole...

As Gentiles, we are not bound by any of the specific OT Law. None. Nada. Zip. Not even the "10 Commandments". Consider:

(1) the 10 commandments are specifically addressed to Israel. See Ex 19 and 20:2

(2) the New Covenant is specifically distinct from the OT Law, and the Gentiles are not to be initiated into the latter. See Acts 15:10-11 and 18-20. Also John 4:21-23, Galatians (all) and other similar passages

In Acts, the new Gentile believers are explicitly not referred to Moses for their standard of behavior. They are instructed to be sexually and religiously pure, but this is not based in the Law.

BUT, I am not saying the Law is irrelevant. It teaches God's holiness to his chosen people Israel, and can therefore teach us likewise. But we have no mandate to simply import it (in whole or part) as "Christian Law". But while we do not submit to the Law, we should delight in it, for it teaches us the mind of God, to whom we do submit and obey

This might sound like a fine distinction, but I believe it is an important one, for it steers us away from fruitless discussions of "which parts of the Law do I obey?" and lets the Law teach us instead

In the case of discussions on sexual holiness, there is more than enough affirmative teaching from Genesis, Jesus and Paul without needing to proof-text specific OT prohibitions - though the humble heart will learn from meditating on them

But while we do not submit to the Law, we should delight in it, for it teaches us the mind of God, to whom we do submit and obey

100% agree and well said, and if anything further highlights the need to be very careful in drawing too many analogies between the structure and methods of the Old Testament and today's New Testament church.

For example, it might be a fair statement to say that the way in which God dealt with the nation of Israel throughout the overarching Old Testament narrative (i.e., chosen people, set apart, conformed to a holy standard, etc.) might be said to be a picture of how God deals with the Church and indeed with individuals as well. But that's not really drawing an analogy or one-to-one correspondence. Instead, I think something like that is doing what Andrew W referred to as something that "teaches us the mind of God".

My example earlier was the idea of using the Old Testament Levitical structure as a means of interpreting the New Testament idea of Elders into something like a "ruling elder" class, which I believe is what Amy was also driving at in her original post.

I think the same kind of thing is going on for those that would support paedo-baptism by using circumcision as a means to support that, but I haven't fully articulated through that in my brain just yet, so please excuse the thinking out loud...

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