Idol Meat vs Alcohol

Daily Scripture readings for September, set #11:

Joshua 24
Psalm 81
Mark 4:21-41
1 Corinthians 8

Joshua 24 concludes the book, and it contains the verse most frequently stitched on pillows or framed in home entry ways: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (vs 15). Reading this verse in context helped me to notice that Joshua’s tone is not a stubborn or defiant resolution against the culture of the day, but is rather a logical conclusion stemming from his reciting of all that the Lord had done for Israel. I think I had always assumed the former rather than the latter, so it’s good to see the real circumstance in which Joshua uttered those words.

My note on Psalm 81 is very similar to that of Romans 1. The reality that God would turn someone over to their own stubbornness, as he does in verse 12, is a terrible and frightening concept. “So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.” It strikes me as I write this that one of the important differences (possibly) between true believers and non-believers would be whether the idea of being completely given over to one’s own devices is unsettling or not.

Mark 4:40 shows Jesus’ concern for the presence of faith in the hearts of his followers: “He said to them,’Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?'” Having just read Romans I’m reminded here again that faith is the linchpin of salvation.

I have always found 1 Corinthians 8 to be a helpful parallel to the question of alcohol consumption. The anchor verses would be 8-9: “Food (drink?) will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat (drink?), and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” These verses, if applied to alcohol, frame the issue in a helpful way: Alcohol doesn’t affect your relationship with God, but with others. Anyone have any push-back on that idea?

Daily Scripture readings for September, set #12:

Judges, chapters 1-3
Psalm 82
Mark 5:1-20
1 Corinthians 9:1-12

Judges chapter 2, verse 10: “And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.” It seems that a generation who didn’t know the Lord would require a previous generation who didn’t make much mention of the Lord. Oh that the Lord would find me faithful in testifying of his greatness, so that my children will know him.

Asaph’s Psalm of justice is a good reminder of God’s role as divine judge, although the only note I have written on Psalm 82 is that the change of speaker is confusing. It’s really difficult for me to tell who is supposed to be credited with the chapter’s various statements!

In a move consistent with the logic from Judges 2:10, Jesus commands the Gerasene man who had been possessed to go and testify. “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (vs 19). The blessing of this man’s deliverance from demonic hold was multiplied again and again as he proclaimed it to his fellow citizens. Jesus’ glory was magnified MORE in the testifying than in the healing itself.

Paul’s argument in the first half of 1 Cor 9 seems to be all over the map, so it’s helpful for me to remember that he’s continuing his thought from the previous chapter. The logic would go like this: You have a right to do things like eat idol meat, but I and the other Apostles have even MORE right to do what we wish with our authority. To make the analogy again with the alcohol issue, it’s as if Paul is asserting his obvious spiritual maturity as a reason for no one questioning his decision to partake in something that others would deem forbidden. He responds to his own set up in the rest of the chapter…

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