It has been a while since I have featured "missing verses", or those Bible verses that mysteriously get deleted from the Sunday readings. I want to note today's expurgated verses in order to once again raise the questions of "Why?" and "What are we missing?"
Our Old Testament lesson was Genesis 17:1-7,15-16. You did not get to hear verses 8-14 which I also will leave out so that you can get a better idea of the message conveyed to the church goers.
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.
2 And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.’
3 Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him,
4 ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations.
5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations.
6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.
7 I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
15 God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.
16 I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.’
We got the message that a covenant was made by God with Abram, and that a "multitude of nations" will be the result. He and Sarai are also given new names and will become fruitful.
So what got left out today? Here are verses 8-14.
8 And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.’I have a suspicion that verse 8 is politically incorrect in this day and age. Doesn't it sound much nicer to present a pluralistic, multi-national, covenant than an exclusivist, "this land is yours" vision for Israel. This certainly is in keeping with the Episcopal church's view. TEc has campaigned against a Israel by supporting the "two state solution." To quote Episcopal Pravda,
9 God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations.
10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.
11 You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.
12 Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring.
13 Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant.
14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.’
"The Episcopal Church has long advocated and legislated in support of a two-state solution in which a secure and universally recognized state of Israel lives alongside a secure, independent and viable Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states...I cannot come up with a better explanation for the deletion of verse 8 other than a need for political correctness.
...Executive Council said at its June meeting that it voiced the church's 'unequivocal opposition to any action by either party that undermines progress toward negotiations' and urged all Episcopalians 'to pray for the peace of the Holy Land and advocate to their own governments for maximum international support for a negotiated two-state solution.'"
Note to God: Would you please follow our lead on these earthly matters. This covenant business needs to be more of a two way street.
And what about the circumcision stuff? Why did it get cut? Is it too hard to understand, or is it just too hard to explain?
If you leave out the part of the covenant that involves circumcision, then you will have a difficult time understanding what all the fuss was about in the early Christian church as the Gospel
spread to the Gentiles.
Time to cut this post short...