Jesus changes everything in the Bible

In Jesus' sermon on the mount, as written by Matthew in the 5th-7th chapters of his gospel, he teaches many counter-intuitive, even heavenly, ideals. One of those is about non-retaliation and extending love even to our enemies.
Matthew 5:38 You know that Hebrew Scripture sets this standard of justice and punishment: take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I say this, don’t fight against the one who is working evil against you. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, you are to turn and offer him your left cheek. 40 If someone connives to get your shirt, give him your jacket as well. 41 If someone forces you to walk with him for a mile, walk with him for two instead. 42 If someone asks you for something, give it to him. If someone wants to borrow something from you, do not turn away. 43 You have been taught to love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you this: love your enemies. Pray for those who torment you and persecute you— 45 in so doing, you become children of your Father in heaven. He, after all, loves each of us—good and evil, kind and cruel. He causes the sun to rise and shine on evil and good alike. He causes the rain to water the fields of the righteous and the fields of the sinner. 46 It is easy to love those who love you—even a tax collector can love those who love him. 47 And it is easy to greet your friends—even outsiders do that! 48 But you are called to something higher: “Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (The Voice)
This teaching forces Christians to wrestle with many things in the Old Testament, like what I read this morning, in my daily lectionary reading, Psalm 149.
1 Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, And His praise in the assembly of saints.
2 Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
3 Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.
5 Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand,
7 To execute vengeance on the nations, And punishments on the peoples;
8 To bind their kings with chains, And their nobles with fetters of iron;
9 To execute on them the written judgment— This honor have all His saints. Praise the Lord!
The mood certainly gets weird from the middle of verse 6 on. I'm sure even most devout Jews these days aren't taking this verse very literally. But maybe the Maccabee family did when they overthrew the Greek rulers who defiled their temple in Jerusalem. Did the Crusaders find comfort in this verse as they set out to kill the infidels? I'm sure some Jews as well as Christians even today take this hymn of worship literally to some degree or other. Maybe they consider the two-edged sword figurative for an AR-15 rifle. Here is the evangelical/fundamentalist dilemma. In the 2nd epistle to Timothy is written a key verse for inerrantists,
2 Tim. 3:16 Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness...
The key question for me is this Psalm one of the scriptures inspired by God? In the gospels, Jesus says when we see him, we see God. Jesus says he only tells us what he hears from God. Jesus tells us he only does what God tells him to do. So if one part of the Bible is in contradiction with what Jesus teaches, it makes sense to me to assume that part is not inspired by God. The turn in v.6 of Psalm 149 is a clear example to me, of the intersection of the humanity and the divinity in the Bible.

In yesterday's post, on the chaff of American evangelical Christianity, I wrote that this blending of human and divine in the Bible is obvious, but I had joined my tribe, in it's devotion to inerrancy, to affirm the divinity of these parts that even Jesus does not agree with. If I call it figurative, can I claim it inerrant when the author does not seem to be speaking figuratively? If I call it the Psalmist's honest expression, is it inerrant if it is not inspired by God? Did God really say this through the Psalmist? Uh-oh. Now I'm speaking like the Satanic snake in the Garden of Eden...Did God really say...? The question is extremely important and it is not demonic. Did God really command Moses and Joshua to wage war genocidally? Did God approve of Ezra's order for Jews married to Gentiles to divorce them and send away their wives and half-Jewish children? Did God tell Moses the proper way for Jewish soldiers to force captured women to be their wives? Are these things of God, who Jesus fully represents?

When Jesus is my lens for examining the Bible, I am no longer threatened by those ugly passages. Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever as Hebrews 13:8 asserts then I can believe he had nothing to do with the 2nd half of Psalm 149 or the even more violent Psalm 137. Letting go of inerrancy and using the Jesus lens is how I have begun to make peace with the texts of terror in the Bible.


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