Reading through the Bible: day 85

1 Samuel 5 – 8

I’ve been absent for a long time. Sickness, stolen horses and all sorts of other stuff is on my mind at the moment. People have been showing some concern about me abondoning this project. I’m not abandoning it, I’ve simply been busy, I hope to get this moving properly again.

Why not convert

Although there are no glaring contradictions here, there are a few I’ve covered before, like “who hardened the Pharaoh’s heart?” And, “how many gods are there?”

I still find todays passages somewhat problematic. If the Philistines saw the power of God, and believed in it enough to justify their actions regarding the Ark, why not convert?

I don’t think there’s any easy answer to this. Perhaps they were all so evil that they were hardened against conversion. Since they reference the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, and acquiesced to what they believed to be God’s will, one has to wonder if this is plausible. But this would be the quick answer to take all blame off God.

This opens up many questions regarding the access to salvation, during the Old Testament period. Could foreigners convert? (Later we get the impression they can.) Without access to the Mosaic books, how could a civilisation so hated by God’s people get the information they’d needed to start worshipping God? Since marriage to foreigners was forbidden, could converts marry Jews? Or did acceptance of the religion make one a Jew?

I don’t think these are easy questions to answer, and will leave them with you.

Please give the reading through the Bible page a look if you haven’t already, there are some background posts and the index to this reading plan. Share it with others who you think can benefit from Reading the Bible.

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2 thoughts on “Reading through the Bible: day 85”

  1. “why not convert?”

    Jehovah may cause boils but Baal brings rain in the season of rain. In a world full of gods where the movement of the sun, moon, stars, the rain, the crops, and all else are governed by the will of a god then what is one more inexplicable miracle, even if to modern eyes it seems more obvious? It is entirely probable that they did offer offerings to Jehovah, the Israelites certainly had no problem with offering to Baal and other gods. When one already believes in polytheism then another nations god is something to be feared, to be respected, to pay homage to if you are in their land, but even seeing divine power is no more surprising and no more, nor less, worthy of worship than the rising of the sun at a new day. The entire idea of converting isn’t very coherent in such a worldview.

    “how could a civilisation so hated by God’s people get the information they’d needed to start worshipping God?”

    Deuteronomy 30 suggests that everyone has sufficient knowledge to start doing what is right, one does not need to go to heaven in order to obtain the word as it is not far off. That said, God judges people according to their works based on what they know (Romans 2), if they could not get the information they’d needed to start worshiping God then God could not condemn them for not worshiping Him, He could however condemn them according to that which they knew to be correct action which they did not do.

    “Could foreigners convert?”

    Yes, but it isn’t easy.

    ” could converts marry Jews?”

    Obviously, they could (Ruth).

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