A City Set On a Hill
Surviving the Seventieth Week by Reforming Fundamentalism and Establishing Cities of Refuge
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Jesus Christ as Prophet
Copyright 2010 by Raul E. Lopez, MD, MDiv

A prophet is one who points out to people their sin by revealing God's will to them and showing them that they have not kept His will. Paul says that "by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20) and John says "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4). God's will is revealed in the moral law of the Old Testament and is based on His nature. Two broad aspects of God's nature interact to form the moral law. The first is God's infinite love. The second is God's constitutional nature, that is, those basic qualities or attributes which distinguish Him from other objects. Some believe that this constitutional nature is related to His holiness. In order for us to show proper love to God, the attributes of God's constitutional nature must be taken into account.

John says "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (I John 4:8 nkjv). Since God is love and our nature is patterned after God (Genesis 1:26-27), we are obligated to follow His example if we are to fulfill our intended purpose. Jesus said that our duty to love God and our neighbor makes up the two great commandments. He said "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40 nkjv). However, love must be demonstrated according to the constitutional nature of the object of love. The way a mother shows love to her daughter is different from the way a husband shows love to his wife. The way we must love God is different from the way we must love fellow humans because their constitutional nature is different. When the two great commandments are applied to the nature of God and of man the result is the moral law just as when white light is passed through a prism it splits into the colors of the rainbow.

One way to illustrate this is with a short little true story. Once upon a time in an island far far away, in the Caribbean, there lived a little girl named Roxana with her brother and sister and mom and dad. One day she found a bright looking caterpillar. It was brightly colored with white, black and yellow stripes. The caterpillar was crawling across the road looking lost so Roxana and her brother and sister picked it up, put it in a big jar which their mom gave them, and filled the jar with different kinds of lush green leaves. By the second day the caterpillar was looking a little thinner and a little weak and it did not seem that any of the leaves had been eaten. When Roxana's dad got home that night they connected to the internet with their high speed internet connection and found that this particular caterpillar eats the leaves of only one type of tree. This tree has a certain aromatic substance that gives off a peculiar smell which is what stimulates the caterpillar to eat. Therefore, that night, we walked through the neighborhood and found exactly one of these trees which was full of these large caterpillars. We placed the lost caterpillar on one of the branches and we hoped that the caterpillar lived happily ever after. Dad then used this little exercise in invertebrate zoology to teach the three little children the lesson which the author now wishes to illustrate to the reader.

Even though Roxana loved the caterpillar very much and showed that love by spending several hours trying to make it comfortable and happy, her love was actually killing the caterpillar because she did not understand the nature of the little insect. If there were ten commandments for taking care of these caterpillars it would begin with, "thou shalt not feed these critters anything but the leaves of its favorite tree." The same is true for the care of many other animals. Volumes and volumes of books are written on how to care for dogs, cats and other animals. One can get doctorates in veterinary science and pet food companies spend millions of dollars coming up with just the right mixes. If our love for even the smallest members of God's creation must be accompanied with knowledge, how much more must our love for man, God's highest creation be based on knowledge, and even more so our love for the Creator Himself.

In the Old Testament God gave the basic instruction about how to love Him. These instructions are found in that part of the Old Testament law called the moral law. The Old Testament word 'Torah', often translated 'law' actually means instruction. The law of Moses is literally the instruction of Moses. The centerpiece or pinnacle of this instruction is the ten commandments, literally, the ten words or principles. Each of the ten commandments is the clearest representative of a family of prohibitions which are related to each other because they are related to a specific attribute of God or of man. For example, "thou shalt not commit adultery" is the only sexual sin found in the ten commandments, but the Bible also prohibits incest, rape, homosexuality, bestiality, and prostitution, and strongly discourages divorce and polygamy. These prohibitions form a family of prohibitions based on man's sexual nature. The ten commandments are arranged in an orderly fashion so that the first five are related to the basic attributes or characteristics of God and the last five to the corresponding attributes of man. The Bible says that the ten commandments were written by God on two tablets, so it is natural to assume that the first five were written upon the first tablet and the last five on the second tablet (Exodus 34:1). Consequently, each group of five commandments can be called a tablet of the law. The two tablets are logically interconnected. Since man is created in the image of God, man's nature reflects God's nature. Therefore, each commandment of the second tablet has a counterpart in the commandments of the first.

The tablets are not only related to each other, but a logical structure exists within each tablet so that the commandments are arranged into two doublets and a singlet. The first two commandments of each table of the law refer to the inner essence of God and man. The first commandment "thou shalt have no other gods before me" deals with the being of God. God is, first of all unique. He is the foundation of all existence. Nothing in existence compares to Him, and only He is worthy of absolute love, worship, and devotion because everything else that exists is merely a creation of God. Secondly, God is a spirit. This means that He is immaterial. He is not part of the material universe. He a being distinct from anything which He created and He cannot be worshiped using any material representations of Himself or of His creature. Consequently "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image." Man, on the other hand is in his internal essence a living procreating creature. This life must be respected because it comes from God, consequently "thou shalt not kill [murder]". Secondly, man has been given the ability to procreate, to produce new life, in contrast to the angels, who do not have this ability. Procreation is based on the heterosexual marriage relationship, so "Thou shalt not commit adultery".

The second pair of commandments on each tablet address the extensions of the nature of God and of man. They are concerned with the way that God and man exert influence upon other people. A God who is unique and completely distinct from his creation is an impersonal unknowable God. However, God interacts with His creatures by means of His revelation and His gifts. God's power and revealed knowledge are embodied in His name. His name is an essential tool in salvation and answered prayer. When the names and titles of God come to our mind they should cause in us a deep sense of respect and awe, so "thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain". God is also a rewarder. The writer of Hebrews says "But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6). God's rewards us through peace. This peace is experienced in this life through the cessation of labor. Therefore "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy." Notice also how this emphasis on a day of worship devoid of Earthly labor once more emphasizes God's distinctness from the material universe and is related to the command about` idolatry. Jesus said that "God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24). It is difficult after a busy workday spent focusing on Earthly affairs to go to a church service and completely refocus on spiritual things.

Man, on the other hand can be known through the things he owns and through his reputation. A person's wealth is the result of his exertion of energy combined with his wisdom. It is a product of his life energy, an extension of his functioning as a living creature. Man's ability and the natural positive results of the proper use of these abilities are God's individualized gifts to each of us individually. Wealth is the reward for using our abilities, resources and energy in order to benefit others; therefore, "thou shalt not steal." Because of the relationship between labor, possessions and life, the commandments to not murder and to not steal are related. A man's reputation is the basis for interpersonal relationships, so "thou shalt not bear false witness." Because both the command to not commit adultery and the command to not bear false witness are related to man's social existence they are also both related to each other.

Finally, the last commandment on both tablets addresses the position of the individual in his relationship with God and man. It is important to recognize the will of God in making us who we are. This is called the sovereignty of God. God initiates the salvation relationship just as a father initiates the conception of a child, and God gives us all we have. Therefore, we must honor our parents who gave us our life and our genetic and social traits, and not covet what God has given to our neighbor. A defective parental relationship is a great obstacle in a proper relationship with God. Our parents are the most direct authority we will ever experience. This authority derives from God and is the best representation of the way God exerts His authority over us. On the other hand, covetousness and envy, the desire to possess that to which one is not entitled, is based on a dissatisfaction with the plan that our sovereign God has for our life as an individual. It is the greatest obstacle to proper inter-human relationships.

As stated before, each of the ten commandments represents a whole family of rules and is the simplest, most basic, characteristic law in each family. There are many other ways to violate the basic attribute contained in each command. The rest of the moral law further elaborates on this. In the New Testament Jesus Christ fulfilled this part of the law by full filling it, by filling it to the full, by taking it to its logical end. He not only clarified the moral law but he also amplified and added to the laws of the Old Testament. Most importantly, Jesus internalized the law. He taught that it is just as important to avoid the mental process and attitudes that lead to acts of sin as it is to avoid the act of sin itself (Matthew 5). For example, He taught that not only are the acts of murder and adultery wrong, but also the thought pattern leading up to it. Anger and lust are as much sins to be avoided as are the final consequences of this sinful thought pattern. "But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matthew 5:22) and "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:28).

As long as God's nature and human nature remains unchanged, the ten commandments remain valid. It is the rejection of the direct nature of God in the first five commandments and of the nature of the image of God in the second five that constitutes sin. Jesus Christ, because He is both God and the perfect man reveals these two natures even more perfectly. Therefore Christ says "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin" and "If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father" (John 15:22,24). This self revelatory work of Jesus Christ is His Prophetic office.

We are to love God because he loves us. John said "We love him, because he first loved us." (I John 4:19). Sin occurs when we do not reflect back to God the love he shows to us. This occurs when we disobey either table of the law and the other related laws which they exemplify, thereby violating the nature of either God of man. This disobedience introduces chaos into the relationship between God and man, and between fellow human beings. This chaos is evident in the breakdown of the relationship between Adam and God and between Adam and his wife after the fall of man into sin. Consequently, it is possible to think of sin as a sort of spiritual entropy.

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