Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Romans 9:4 Giving of the Law (4 of 6)

Note: this is the  fourth installment of a six part series. You should probably begin here

"Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;"  Romans 9:4


  This is obviously closely tied to the covenant of the law, which we covered before.  The difference appears to be that the covenant was conditional, but the law existed whether anyone followed it or not.  It wasn’t an agreement, it simply was.  As Gentiles staggered around in spiritual darkness with only their conscience to guide them, the Hebrew people had as much insight into God’s mindset and opinions as any people could ever want.
  Imagine if you will,  a  sheepherder in ancient Ireland or a bushman in Papua New guinea living on the earth at the time of Moses.  He has, according to  Romans 1, the  law of God written on his heart, and according to Psalms, he has the revelation of nature testifying to the existence of a Creator. Beyond that, he has to sort through what God has given him in light of his own pagan culture and the traditions  or superstitions of the place where he was born.  While our hypothetical shepherd or our hypothetical bushman ponder the nature of God and wonder if they are pleasing him, somewhere on a mountaintop in the land of Canaan the God of all glory is writing down commandments with his finger and giving them  to one group of folks. It is an amazing contrast when you consider it.
  The Hebrew people had the only written revelation from God that existed anywhere and  had they heeded it, the scripture says in Deut 4 " Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say , Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. "  It was the  ultimate case of looking smarter than you really are.
  Even a casual reader of the law will stagger at its scope; every aspect of their life was regulated. God left nothing to chance.  Leviticus 6 covers the laws of burnt offerings and meat offerings and sin offerings. Leviticus 7 explains the laws regarding trespass offerings and peace offerings. Leviticus 11 dictated the life of your beasts while Leviticus 12 gave you God’s rules on childbirth. Leviticus 14 gave you the prescription for leprosy while Leviticus 15 covered the law of the leper himself and the law of issue. Leviticus 18 and 19 and 20 covered sexual issues, with jealousy being explained in Numbers 5.  Nazarites are commissioned in Numbers 6, while Numbers 19 discusses the purification of the temple and how to handle the dead.  On and on it goes, page after page covering every piece and  part of man’s relationship with God and  with each other.
  This law, given by God to one group of people, wasn’t supposed to exist in some nebulous form of oral tradition. It was to be written down, according to Deut 31:24, and passed down from father to son because it was an inheritance of Jacob in Deut 33:4. This law took courage to obey according to Josh 1:7.  This law was to be meditated upon according to Psalm 1:2, and written both on their house and on their heart according to Deut 6:5-9.  Ignorance of the law was inexcusable for their king, and the solution was that he would write a copy of the law in his own hand, and read it daily, according to Deut 17:18-20.
  By the way, only one potential king of Israel has ever met all the qualifications of Deut 17, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
  Despite this unimaginable  gift of  actually having God's perspective on the issues of life in writing , over and over again the children of Israel disregarded their own  law and  substituted either idolatry or tradition for revelation.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Romans 9:4: Covenants (3 of 6)

NOTE: This is  the third in a 6 part series of articles I will be posting  based loosely off of a book I almost wrote which was based loosely off of a class I almost taught. Please stay tuned for the entire 6 part series. Part one is available here and part two is available here:

"Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;"  Romans 9:4

  Moving on down through the Romans 9:4 list we arrive at ‘covenants’. By my count, there are seven of these agreements between God and the nation. Some of these covenants are conditional, and some are not, as we will detail here shortly, and a careful student of the Bible will acknowledge the particulars of these covenants as carefully as he would read the ‘fine print’ of a contract.
Covenant #1- The Land
  The great promise of the Bible, aside from the promise of the seed of the woman, is the promise of Genesis 15:18. It is an unconditional covenant that God makes with Abraham that his descendants will always have a place to live on the earth.  This land grant is a real physical piece of property, with borders spelled out in Genesis 15. 1 Chron. 16;15-18 says “Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;  Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac;  And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant,  Saying , Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance;“ Leviticus 26: 42-45 reiterates that, no matter how  little they deserve it, God will honor his word. “Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember ; and I will remember the land.  The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.  And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies , I will not cast them away , neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly , and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God.  But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.”     That promise is so large in scope and such a part of world history, that we will be revisiting this in detail as we move through the promises, but suffice to say that, from God’s perspective, the ownership of the land and the freedom to live there were two different issues. The land is theirs whether they are actually living there or not, as it is an unconditional promise, but there were stipulations for actually being able to use and enjoy their inheritance. This promise is also the pivot point for most of the promises that follow since most of them are only applicable when the Hebrew people are “in the land”.
Covenant #2-A Seed
  This covenant, also unconditional was made with Abraham and renewed with Isaac in Gen 17:2.  No matter what the world may do to them, the seed of Abraham cannot be wiped out.  The family tree of Abraham will always bear fruit, and it’s that promise that has saved them from extinction.  Pharaoh drowned their babies and yet they prevailed.  Herod tried the same tactic to get rid of the Messiah and failed. Hitler gassed them and put them in ovens by the millions, but he couldn’t get rid of them. History is full of ethnic groups that endured far less affliction and were either slaughtered or bred out of existence, but not so with the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
  It’s an everlasting covenant that eventually produced their Messiah, fulfilling the promise of Gen 3:15.  The covenant also extends out past the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, and into the future.
Covenant #3-The Sabbath
  It is intriguing to the author that the Gentiles seem so intent on being part of this particular covenant, when it only puts an unscriptural burden on them and is  not connected to any promise given to New Testament believers.  The 7th day Adventist will run you to Matt 5:17-19 and then tie it to 1 John 2:3 and Ezek 20:20. The modern-day Sabbath observer  (who in practice only observes part of the Sabbath) will make the case from those scriptures that Sabbath-observing is a legitimate New Testament practice and some will even say that a failure to observe the Sabbath proves you aren’t saved.  But a closer look will disavow us of this notion.
  In Exodus 31:13-17, the Bible says “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying , Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep : for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.  Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death : for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.  Six days may work be done ; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death .  Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.  It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested , and was refreshed .”  
  The Sabbath was a sign, and specifically a sign unto Israel as a nation. Unless you’ve ever had manna land in your front yard, that verse isn’t written to you. It is the sign of an everlasting covenant according to Lev 24:8.  This was not merely God’s admonition to ‘take a day off’ or a day to ‘honor God by going to the church of your choice’.  A man could be killed for picking up sticks on the Sabbath or kindling a fire.  It was extraordinarily serious business with God. Failure to observe Sabbaths as a nation led to slavery in Babylon. The covenant was a promise of a day in which their Messiah would take them unto himself and fulfill the promises he made to Abraham ( Heb 4:1). They were to observe this day of rest as a reminder to them as a people of the period of rest yet to come.
  Since God ties the Sabbath to the creation week, it behooves us to take a look at the creation week before moving on. In Genesis 2:14-16, the Bible says “And God said , Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:  And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.  And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.”
  According to the Bible, the lights in the firmament of the heaven have 3 functions. One is to divide the day from the night.  One is to be for signs, seasons, days and years. One is give light upon the earth.
  This is the only part of the creation week that takes place off of the surface of the earth. It’s also the only part of his creation that is assigned some sort of time-marking duty. The trees are never told they would be a sign for anything, the ocean was never told that it would be used to mark off years. 
  Well we do know a couple of things. For example in  2 Peter 3:8 it says: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” We also know that at the end of time as we understand it, there will be a 1000 year reign of Christ. (Rev 20:4). This period is described as a period of ‘rest’ for Israel (Is 14:3) In addition, God tells Israel during this time that they will be the head of all nations ( Deut 28:13, Ps 18:43).
  God rested on the seventh day, (which would be Saturday, not Sunday) and “sanctified it”. Much has been made of sanctification, but simply put, to sanctify something is to designate it for a particular purpose. I have a hoe that I have sanctified for use in the garden.  I don’t use it to shoot pool or as a pogo stick.  I didn’t do anything magical or mystical to it; I simply sanctified it.  Armed with this definition, we can see that, back in Genesis God rested, but he didn’t tell anyone else to rest.  There is nothing in scripture to indicate that Adam, or Abel, or Noah or even Abraham ever observed the Sabbath. Neither Isaac, nor Jacob, nor any of the entire generation that went into Egypt, as far as we can tell, observed the Sabbath. No one is told to observe the Sabbath, and nobody is penalized for failure to observe the Sabbath, until Exodus 20 when the newly formed nation is still fresh out of Egypt.
    Not only was that promise not given to me as a Gentile, I didn’t inherit that promise when I received Christ.  Nowhere is the church commanded to observe the Sabbath, and nowhere in Scripture does Sunday become the ‘new Sabbath’.  As a matter of fact, Romans 8:2 and Galatians 5:1 indicate that I am free from all the trappings of the Old Testament law.
 The last mention of the Sabbath in your Bible is in Col 2:16 when the commandment is to let no man judge you regarding your Sabbath observance.

Covenant #4-Signs
  In Exodus 34:10, the Bible says “And he said , Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels , such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.“  God used signs to communicate with the Hebrew people, which explains the importance of 1 Cor 1:22: “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:”.  Gentiles may prefer a sign, but the Jews require it.  Moses performed signs before the people so that they would know he was from God.  Elijah and Elisha both performed signs and wonders to prove they were from God.  Then after 400 years of silence from God, Jesus Christ (who cited Moses and Elijah) shows up performing signs and wonders.  This covenant of signs and marvels becomes especially interesting when we look to the future and God’s dealings with Israel.
Covenant #5-The Law
  According to Romans 1, the Gentiles have the law of God written on their hearts, but the only nation on earth to receive direct written revelation and laws from God are the Hebrew people.  When God wrote with his finger on tablets of stone, there was only one family present; the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Exodus 34:27 reads “And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. “
  What follows is literally hundreds of rules and regulations that nobody else on earth received. The larger purpose of these rules will be covered later.
Covenant #6-The Priesthood
 Numbers 25:11-13 says “Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.  Wherefore say , Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:  And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.”
  I feel I must be honest here and say that many of the implications of this particular covenant may be outside my understanding. It appears that God is promising to always have a priesthood and that priesthood will always contain the descendants of Phinehas. It is an everlasting covenant and appears to be based, not on what future descendants of Phinehas will do, but what their patriarch already did.
  As I speak, there is no Levitical priesthood, along with no temple and I personally don’t know any of Phinehas’s kin, so my best educated guess is that on the earth right now his descendants are still around and will someday be reassigned back to the job their ancestors had.  I see no way you can make a modern day church member one of Phinehas’s family. The text simply does not allow it.
Covenant #7-David’s Covenant
 2 Chronicles 21:7 spells it out this way “Howbeit the LORD would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and as he promised to give a light to him and to his sons for ever.”  Psalm 89:3-4 says “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,  Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.” Verses 34-37 of the same chapter really nail it down, saying “My covenant will I not break , nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.  Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.  His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.  It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah”
  No other ruler in history received such a promise. No king, president or premier has ever been promised by God that one of their descendants would always be in power, with the promise being backed up by God’s holiness. This is a very specific promise that it would be David’s throne occupied, not some throne in heaven. Here we run into an interesting problem though; there are currently not any of David’s descendants sitting on a throne in Jerusalem.  In fact, by the time of Jesus’ birth, the  kingly line had fallen to decay and then  foreign subjugation. The only way this  promise could come true is if God intends to revisits the house of David and re-establish that throne at some point in the future, essentially picking up where he left off.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Romans 9:4:Glory (2 of 6)

NOTE: This is  the second in a 6 part series of articles I will be posting  based loosely off of a book I almost wrote which was based loosely off of a class I almost taught. Please stay tuned for the entire 6 part series. Part one is available here:

"Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;"  Romans 9:4

  In addition to adoption, Israel received ‘glory’.  Out of all the things on the Romans 9 list, this is the one that comes closest to being intangible and spiritual in nature and while there are certainly parallels with what the church receives, they are not the same thing, and the easiest way to  establish this is  to define what ‘glory’ was or was not in the Old Testament.
  Exodus 16:7 says “And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?”. The fulfillment of that proclamation comes a  few verses later, when “…they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.”  Similar language shows up in Ex 24:16-17, “And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.  And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.” This glory was something that people could see with their eyes of flesh, and it has other physical properties in that it takes up space.  Exodus 40:35 says “And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle”.  Now I don’t claim to have an exact understanding of what that was, but it wasn’t a feeling or a condition, it was something that showed up and could be seen.  We will contrast that with New Testament glory later on in this work.
  Carrying this idea forward, the Bible never claims that God glories himself in mankind in general. After all, how can he? Instead, his glory manifests itself in one location to one people. Isaiah 44:23 tells us “Sing , O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout , ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.” Referring to his tabernacle in Exodus 29:43, it says “And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.” That glory seems directly tied to the  physical presence of the ark in Israel, which is why the Bible says  in 1 Sam. 4:22 “..The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken” I submit to you that, in all of human history (outside of the glory revealed in creation) no other group of people saw the physical, displacing presence of God except the  descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
  God chose for himself a people who had nothing to brag about. They were (and are) stubborn and rebellious , stiff-necked and  hard-hearted.  Their history is not of a history of great accomplishments and great victories; their history is one of whining complaining slaves who were handed more than anyone else on the face of the earth and still repeatedly lasped into idolatry. They, as a people have been conquered and scattered and chased to the ends of the earth.  They have never mounted a successful military campaign without God’s direct intervention, and they have always existed at the mercy of their enemies. They have no glory of their own, and so God gives them his. Over and over again he delivers them, and over and over again they return to their foolishness.  Over and over again they are willing to trade the uniqueness of their relationship with God for the idolatry of the nations around them. That’s why the Bible says in Psalm 62:7 “God is my salvation and glory”; they have none of their own.
  Furthermore God had promised that the glory of Israel (himself) would not only manifest itself through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and not only in a certain piece of land, and only in a certain city but  also through a certain kingly line. Zech 12:1-7 says   “The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.  Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.  And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces , though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.  In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness.  And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the LORD of hosts their God. 6In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.  The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.”

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Romans 9:4: Adoption (1 of 6)

NOTE: I will be posting this series of articles based loosely off of a book I almost wrote which was based loosely off of a class I almost taught. Please stay tuned for the entire 6 part series.

"Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;"  Romans 9:4

  In the midst of the confounding of the tower of Babel, and as the different families of the Gentiles head off in their separate directions God chooses, out of all of humanity, one man for himself.  In Genesis 12:1, he calls Abram.  In Genesis 14:13, God calls him Abram the Hebrew, a name which comes from Abram’s father Eber.  The word ‘Jew’  first shows up in  the book of Esther to describe the captured  inhabitants of Judea, but the term appears interchangeably in the New Testament with the word ‘Hebrew’.
  From Genesis 12 until the book of Acts, the God of the Bible deals almost exclusively with the descendants of one man.  God absolutely played favorites, and chose to reveal himself not by writing his will across the sky for all of man to see, but by giving written scriptures to one group of people exclusively. He makes promises to this one man Abram that set the course of history for the rest of mankind, and no matter how stubborn or stiff-necked or idolatrous Abram’s descendants were (and still are) God keeps his promises to Abram through a nation which has Abram’s blood running through it’s veins.
   Romans 9:4 says that there are six things the Hebrew people received from God that nobody else received.  Some of these promises are conditional in nature, and some are unconditional, but all of them are physical and temporal in nature. The promises God made to the Jews aren’t necessarily for the ‘sweet by and by’, but rather for the ‘nutty gritty here and now’.  

They were promised adoption by God along family lines. If I were a Hebrew I could know that not only would God be my God, but he would be my children’s God.  He would not cast us aside to suddenly show favor on the Greeks or the Indians. Simply put, God chose them, whether or not they on an individual basis chose him. Deut. 7:6-8 says “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” God did not make that promise to the Chinese, or to the Europeans.  No African received such an adoption.  But the adoption didn’t stop there.
  Now that he had chosen a people, God chose himself a city.  The Bible says in “Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen.”  Neither Shanghai nor Dubai made the cut.  Detroit or New Orleans weren’t even considered. There are some lovely cities on the earth, but only one of them has ever been chosen by God to bear his name.
   God, having chosen for himself a people and adopted for himself a city, also picked an habitation.  The Bible says in Psalm 132:13-14, “For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.  This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell ; for I have desired it.”
   After having called out Abram, God further narrows it down to which of Abram’s sons will be the adopted line. Will it be Ishamel, or perhaps one the children he fathered after the death of his wife?  The Bible says in Isaiah 44:1 “Yet now hear , O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen :”
God is very specific about which branch of the family tree he is adopting.  In Isaiah 41:8-9, the Bible says “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen , the seed of Abraham my friend .  Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away .”  It’s not enough to simply be related to Abraham; you must be related to Abraham though Isaac and then through Jacob.  No one in Ishmael gets the adoption, neither do any of Esau’s descendants get the adoption. Yet another proclamation of the exclusivity of this relationship is in Psalm 105 “O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen.”
  Furthermore, God refers to Israel in Isaiah 49:14-15 as  such; “But Zion said , The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.  Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget , yet will I not forget thee.”  God claims here that his love and devotion to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob surpasses the devotion a mother has to her child and that although mothers do sometimes cast away their own babies, God will not cast away the people he has chosen and adopted for himself.
  This adoption did come with some strings attached. God would demand to be intricately involved in their lives. As he hid his face from the Gentiles, he revealed himself to Abraham’s seed. Exodus 19:5 says “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed , and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine”  If you look at this passage carelessly, one might conclude that their adoption was conditional upon obedience.  One might hastily deduce that if they disobeyed, they would be ‘dis-inherited’ or ‘unadopted’.  Having made an incorrect assumption, some would even go so far as to say that this adoption is up for grabs by another group of ‘peculiar people’.  Let me ask you to hold off on these conclusions because I maintain that this promise is not a contradiction with an unconditional adoption, and as we go through the rest of what the Hebrews received, the singularity of this statement will become apparent.
  These sons of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, were they to heed to God’s laws, would become the most peculiar people that had ever lived. Everything about their lives would be different from the nations around them.  They had a peculiar birth in the Passover (Ex 12), as they are never referred to as a nation until after the Passover.  My nation began in 1776, their nation began the night of Passover.  They had a peculiar inheritance in Exodus 13, and a peculiar deliverance in Exodus 14.  Exodus 15 assigns to them a peculiar joy, while Exodus 16 and 17 shows us the manna, a most peculiar provision. In Exodus 19 they are given a peculiar revelation. In Exodus chapters 20 through 24 they are given by God peculiar laws and governments.  Exodus 25 through 40 details their peculiar religion and its peculiar relationship with the Creator.  
  Now think about this for a moment. Let’s say you are a Hittite or a Jebusite living in the land of Canaan. You are trudging along in the vanity of your own mind, living by your conscience and violating it on a regular basis.  Your ancestors have wrested the truths of God they knew and have reduced your people to worshipping the fish god Dagon or Baal the rain god.  Just down the road from you is a Jewish settlement, and those fellows are unusual to say the least.  You’ve heard they circumcise their males, and they wear funny clothes with a border of blue around the bottom.  They have a long list of foods they don’t eat, and a long list of things they aren’t allowed to touch. They are always worried about being defiled, and once a week, for no apparent reason, they stop and do absolutely nothing. They don’t even cook or gather wood for a fire.  Their houses have borders around the roof and they don’t trim their beards.  They worship at this strange tent made of dyed badger skins, and they claim God meets with them inside that tent.  They claim that, generations back, their ancestors came through here with a golden box and killed scores of your relatives, but they refuse to let anybody see the golden box. They are always slaying lambs and offering up blood to their God.  They are always washing their hands. Everything about them makes them stick out like the proverbial sore thumb, and makes it very hard to marry any of their women. Oh, you or one of your Jebusite buddies might meet up off with an apostate Hebrew cutie in rebellion against her parents every now and again, but for the most part, they want nothing to do with you.  They are, in the purest sense of the word ,peculiar.