Welcome to the June edition of Good News, the monthly newsletter of the Fairview Park church of Christ! We hope that you find the articles below helpful, edifying, and true to the Bible. If you find the articles helpful in your Bible study, please forward this e-mail to a friend. May God bless you as you study his word!
Ending Two Grudges
by Jacob Hudgins
“But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept”(Gen 33:4)
Jacob is fervently praying. “Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children”(Gen 32:11). Jacob has twice schemed to defraud his brother and has run to a foreign land after Esau threatened to kill him. Now he is returning, at the head of a huge caravan, with his four wives and many children. Word comes that Esau is coming to meet him with four hundred men! Jacob thinks quickly and divides the group into two companies in case of an attack. In a final desperate act to assuage his brother’s anger, he “bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother”(Gen 33:3). The moment is tense; what will Esau do? “But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept”(Gen 33:4). Finally, gloriously, the grudge was ended!
Quail are morally neutral animals. They are not forbidden in the elaborate dietary restrictions of the Jews. They are not condemned in the long lists of sinful behaviors in the New Testament. So why did God strike His people with a plague for wanting and eating quail? Let’s examine the good and bad of quail.
“They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments”(Matt 23:5). Phylacteries are small boxes attached by bands to the forehead or arm. Inside the box are placed written passages of Old Testament Scriptures—taking literally the command to keep God’s word as “frontlets between your eyes”(Deut 6:8). Yet Jesus doesn’t address the Pharisees' zeal in learning and keeping the word—he says they “make their phylacteries broad”. Broader phylacteries would make room for more Scriptures, or larger letters, and are thereby associated with special reverence for the law. Phylacteries themselves are a little too ordinary—they want broad phylacteries. They “enlarge the borders of their garments,” supposedly showing an uncommon reverence for God’s commands. What can we learn from this teaching?
Almost all the plagues play out in the same pattern. Pharaoh, tormented by God’s wrath, calls Moses and begs him to take away the trouble. “I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the Lord your God only to remove this death from me”(Ex 10:16-17). Please make it stop! Sometimes Pharaoh will promise big changes. He will let the people go, as long as the plagues stop! Yet, when the plagues go away, Pharaoh returns to his stubbornness. “But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go”(Ex 9:34-35). When the trouble was over, Pharaoh went back to his old ways.