Psalm 5; 1 Chronicles 5:23–6:30; Acts 10:9–23a

Psalm 5: This David psalm draws a stark contrast between those who follow God and those who reject God.  The man of God (David?) knows, “LORD, in the morning You hear my voice, in the morning I lay it before You and wait.”  God is no small-g god: “For not a god desiring wickedness are You, / no evil will sojourn by You.” (5)  Since God cannot abide evil, there must be severe consequences for evildoers: “You destroy the pronouncers of lies, / a man of blood and deceit the LORD loathes.” (7)

This is the quality of God–his hatred of evil and those who do evil–that we’d prefer not to think about. In our culture where the highest moral stance is “tolerance,” God is anachronistically intolerant.

In this psalm, the greatest sin is deceit and falsehood: “An open grave their throat,/ their tongue, smooth-talking. Condemn them, O God.” (10) And the prayer is for justice to be meted out by God himself: “Let them fall by their counsels for their many sins. / Cast them off for they have rebelled against You.” (11) In a culture that tosses off “white lies” with casual abandon and engages in falsehood at every level, we stand condemned by these verses.

1 Chronicles 5:23–6:30: The genealogical inventory continues relentlessly. The half-tribe of Manasseh (one of Joseph’s two sons) gets fairly short shrift. Even though they included “mighty warriors, famous men, heads of their clans,” (5:24b) their sins brought only destruction in the end: “But they transgressed against the God of their ancestors, and prostituted themselves to the gods of the peoples of the land” (25) The Chronicler lumps them with the Reubenites and the Gadites and together, this piece of Israel met their deserved fate: “the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of King Pul of Assyria, the spirit of King Tilgath-pilneser of Assyria, and he carried them away,.” (26) End of story.

The generations of Levites, on the other hand, are treated far more kindly. The author lists the genealogies of all three of Levi’s sons, and we encounter notable names such as Samuel and Joel along the way.  I’m guessing our Chronicler was himself a Levite when we compare the language he uses. Unlike the angry God who caused Israel to be conquered by Assyria, he treats the Judean exile much more gently: “the Lord sent Judah and Jerusalem into exile by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.” (6:13) Notice how God merely “sends” Judah away to Babylon. The details of this “sending” are almost conveniently omitted.

 Acts 10:9–23a: Peter goes p on to the roof to pray, becomes hungry and asks someone to prepare lunch. Suddenly, rather than an angelic visitation, Peter falls into a trance and witnesses the amazing gentile picnic blanket of unclean animals descending from heaven. He distinctly hears God tell him to kill and eat those unclean foods, noting “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” (15b). Significantly, this repeats three times before Peter is convinced.

Not coincidentally, the messengers from Cornelius show up and ask for Peter. They explain they are from Cornelius, “a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” (22)

This incident is Luke’s all-important bridge point of “The Way” becoming something far greater than a growing Jewish sect. What God is declaring “clean” is far more than some animals that lie outside Jewish dietary laws. With Cornelius as the model of the gentile who respects Judaism–and who in turn is respected by the Jews–we are about to see the message of Jesus Christ explode onto the world stage. Although there have been numerous references to “aliens” among the Jews deserving God’s blessings all through the OT, and even Jesus’ hint of a message that carries far beyond the Jews when he praises the faith of the gentile woman who was willing to eat the crumbs from the Jewish table, it is only now where the  we anticipate gentiles becoming full equals with the Jews.

As Peter’s–and the church’s– subsequent history proves, this is neither an easy nor trivial transition. But Luke makes it abundantly clear here that it is God-driven.


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