19:27 "Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards." Sometimes the ordinances seem so random. Cutting your beard hairs in-between fortune-telling and making your daughter a prostitute...huh? But whenever things seem senseless or irrational, there's always google! Apparently, cutting your hair in the way God described not to do was a symbol of pagan worship of the Egyptian sun god.
19:28 Tattoos: Does God forbid tattoos for all time? Again, there were pagan customs going on at the time, and this was in relation to mourning. But are all tattoos okay? Here is a great short article on the subject that I believe shows historical understanding, balance, and wisdom. In general, it's always good to try to look for what was going on culturally before we can fully understand the meaning of God's teachings. The principle behind hair trimming and tattoos appears to be forms of idol worship that would still be forbidden today, even though it might look different than it did then.
When in doubt...The greatest guide to making sure you know which Torah (teachings) to keep and how to keep them is this: Live by Matthew 22:36-40. "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the [Torah] and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
As we continue to learn new concepts and perhaps see things through a different lens than how we've always seen it, it is good to keep our minds open, while at the same time practicing caution and patience. I found a great quote today by J.I. Packer on this very topic from his book, "Fundamentalism and the Word of God." Sounds like a good book!
We do not start our Christian lives by working out our faith for ourselves; it is mediated to us by Christian tradition, in the form of sermons, books and established patterns of church life and fellowship. We read our Bibles in the light of what we have learned from these sources; we approach Scripture with minds already formed by the mass of accepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the Church and the world....It is easy to be unaware that it has happened; it is hard even to begin to realize how profoundly tradition in this sense has molded us. But we are forbidden to become enslaved to human tradition, either secular or Christian, whether it be "catholic" tradition, or "critical" tradition, or "ecumenical" tradition. We may never assume the complete rightness of our own established ways of thought and practice and excuse ourselves the duty of testing and reforming them by Scriptures. (J. I. Packer, "Fundamentalism" and the Word of God [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1958], pp. 69-70.)
Again, if we are going to be good students, we are going to have to question everything. Study deeper! Find out if words and concepts have been tampered with. Dig for buried treasure!
There are no questions for reflection today.