Recently, Dr James D. Tabor shared a link to his new website to us at Google+. The TaborBlog, “All things biblical” from the Hebrew Bible to Early Christianity in the Roman World and Beyond.
He has a new book out entitled, “Paul & Jesus”. Let me start by saying this is by far, and bar none the best website, (in my humble opinion) for info on , as the title says, “any and all things Biblical”. I highly recommend a visit there. Links to the site will be provided at the bottom of the post. There are too many fascinating links from his site to list, and in fact I would have to list them all, so there will be just the link to his site. And now, my thoughts on the interview…
“Between Flesh and Blood”
I have always wondered about the writings of people like Paul, and the stark contrast between his version of the world, and that of the Hebrews. To put this another way, between the “flesh and the spirit”. If flesh is “bad”, then why did God create it? This contrast is the very Gospel, “in a nutshell”. After years of trying to deny my flesh self, I finally learned that it was not exactly possible. Like Jesus, the Holy Spirit of God, over time, will transform the flesh self into what is resonated throughout the old and new Testaments alike… a new creature altogether, and a peculiar people. A “new man”, as Paul puts it, or, whoever wrote in Paul’s name, as the case may be. The interview has info about this, and it is fascinating stuff. For reference to Paul’s “new man”, see ( 2nd Cor. 5:7, Eph.2:15, Eph, 4:24, Col, 3:10), and for the, “a peculiar people”, as the old Testament terms it, see (Deut 14:2, Deut 26:18, Titus 2:14, 1st Pet 2:9, there many more not listed).
Now, couple this with the parable of the “new bottles”, and you have what Paul teaches. (Mat. 9:17) The outside of the “man” has to be transformed as well as the inside. Is this the “flesh” man?
Sure it is. It’s his mind, his body, and even his world. More importantly, our eyes, and how we see or experience the world.
“And the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar people” Psalms 135:4 KJV
While most see division, and conflict in the Scriptures between flesh and spirit, Jew and Gentile, I see the story of mankind; a saga of reconciliation…
“And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but passeth over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods.” Hosea 10:11 KJV
From the interview…
Paul stresses a world to come, and this one temporal, whereas the Hebrews stress the world God created; “this one”, and as it was then. Said to be “good”, and as Genesis reports, “and God saw that it was very good”.
Paul seems to give the impression that it’s all done. That you shouldn’t get married, don’t worry if you’re a slave or free, because the “end” is “right around the corner”. His writings can be seen as almost totally Apocalyptic. He states the Jerusalem that is “above” is the mother of us all. (Gal 4:26) If you read 1st Cor. 7:29-30-31, he says the “form” of this world is passing away, and to “not even worry about things ‘here’“, so as to give the impression that “it’s about to be wrapped up, very, very soon“. This is one way to look at it. Another is that the “end” does not involve “leaving”. Could it mean the end of the world as we know it, or more importantly, see it?
Note: The new Jerusalem is said to be seen as “coming down from above” ( Rev 3:12), and if you think about the old Testament, God’s plan in general (in some writings) is to “come here”, and “dwell with us here”. The promises of the old Testament look to be forever “here”, and in contrast we have writings like the rapture, and seemingly, us “leaving here”. (Gen 48:4)
Contrasting the views of leaving, is that of traditional Judaism, which stresses the Torah, and the promises made to Abraham. This view is that between the time of now, and the end, we must keep our feet on the ground. Look at Deut. 30:12, It is not “up in the heavens”, that we have to “go up and get this”, it’s “down here”. Verses 15 & 16 go on to say God will bless you in the land you are about to walk into, or as it states, “enter”. (These are two different views altogether) Nothing from the Torah, or the Prophets will match what Paul is saying, looking at this “on the surface”. The things Paul says are simply not there.
At the end of Isaiah there is a new heaven and earth picture. The differences are the times. Paul preaches the time is “right around the corner”, and almost tells us to denounce any and all earthly ties. Many think, “that would be great, except we have to stay here until then”, and he doesn’t leave much room for development in that area.
To me, this is where the main separations stem from, between Jews and Christians, and Christians, and other Christians. Do we denounce any and all ties with earthly matters? If so, what about the ‘as of yet’ non repented souls? My thoughts are where our head should be, “in the meantime”, while we wait for “the end”. The man that buried the talent comes to mind here. (Mat, 25:25-26) This has always puzzled me, and I attributed it to differences in spirit and flesh.
In Isaiah, the Syrians are battering down the walls of Jerusalem, and the whole book deals with the lives of the Jews in the “here and now”, and the last, or 66th book, he is telling about the end game for Jerusalem.
If you haven’t caught my drift as of yet, consider this. We as Christians learn from the new testament. We are pointed to, and sometimes get our comfort from the poetic writings of the old Testament, from books such as Psalms. Try to inject the spirit of Psalms into Paul’s teachings, and you will find they will not fit.
This is the very core of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul, and the Hebrew faiths look contradictory, on the surface. The phrase “on the surface” is the key to the new Testament. This “mindset”, if you will, that Paul teaches, can not be looked at in the flesh, or in other words, with your natural, fleshy, “man’s mind”, and here’s why. Everything changed at the crucifixion. I mean everything, because the old testament writers, prophets, and scholars of that period did not have the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Their eyes, just like ours now, and any and all people’s eyes simply do see the same things, even when looking at the same things.
Interesting to note here is Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, says this, “For verily (surely) I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” (Mat13:7 KJV). I think of this verse in the middle of almost every debate I have with an atheist. I’m literally telling them that I see something they do not see, and in their present condition, can not see. Is it any wonder they think we’re nuts? But anyway, let’s get back to the sermon on the mount; Jesus is explaining the “change” that was at that time about to happen. After the verse about the prophets not being able to see what some of them would, he says this…He goes right into a very famous parable, and starts with the word, “Therefore”…”here ye the parable of the sower”.
This is a many fold message to us. Think about this. At the time Jesus said this, the Holy Spirit had still not yet been given to anyone. Matthew, at the time of his writing this book, was writing it out of his memory. He remembered what Jesus said “then”, but at the time Jesus said it, even Matthew didn’t know what Jesus was talking about. This is the revelation I had. This is spooky strange, in that the parable was also about this fact that Jesus said people’s eyes, and seeing, would indeed come to them (and Matthew) “later” Then the Holy Spirit would be there to guide him, and “fix” his eyes so that he could “see” what prophets of old never did. Keep in mind that Matthew didn’t see it at the time Jesus said it either. Jesus explained this as his word being a seed, that’s meanings would come later, and His words to them “then” would not “bloom” in their live until “later”. Picture Matthew sitting, and listening to Jesus, and not having a clue as to what He was saying. He would see these things “later”.
Some of us now have this sight, and some of us do not. We that do must deliver the word, and move on. This is the core of Paul’s teachings. This is also why so many Theologists disagree with Paul. We are to deliver God’s words, and as Paul says, someone else will water them, and yet someone else again will cultivate them into the very vision, and sight we have. Jesus stressed this in this verse: Read, if you will Luke 9:44. Jesus is saying to let the words sink in, because He is leaving. Mat 7: 24, 26. Just like a farmer plants a seed, then leaves… the words of Jesus are seeds, or these “sayings” as they are referred to in Rev 22:6. “These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the Prophets has sent His angel to “shew unto his servants” the things that must shortly come.” Look at John, 14:24, “He that loveth me not, keepeth not my “sayings”: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me”. Again, look at Mat.24:35, Mark 13:31, and Luke 21:33. These verses say exactly the same thing, in the KJV, to a letter…
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away”.
In closing, Christians, keep talking, and sooner or later even the atheist will see what we see. This is prophecy…
“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” 1 Timothy -4:16, KJV
For more, including links to this interview or Dr Tabor’s new book visit him
The interview was from Spiritual Babies. Their link to You-tube can be found if you click on the You-tube icon in the lower right hand corner of the video screen. Their site is located @ http://spiritualbabies.net/
“You will always, without fail, reap what you sew, more than you sew, and later than you sew” -Dr.Charles Stanley