Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sin and Eruvin Loopholes

Often, when a non-Christian approaches the Bible they want to simply know what they can & can't do & still be considered “saved”. It is like the rich young ruler account in Luke 18:18 wherein the man asked Jesus: Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Did Jesus spout off a list of do's & don'ts for the man to follow? Not exactly, but Jesus did tell the man what the man wanted to hear...sort of.

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’Honor your father and your mother.’” (Lk 18:19-20) Notice that Jesus DIDN'T tell the man all he had to do was keep the commandments. Hint: Jesus prefaced His answer by comparing Himself to God & saying no one else is good. The man should have picked up on the inescapable inference Jesus was making – No one can do anything to gain eternal life, not even keeping the commandments. Yet the man, being as dense as we all are falsely answered Jesus: “All these things I have kept from my youth.” (Lk 18:21) Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight, then why did Jesus die on the Cross? Anyhow, Jesus continues to play along with the young man's “self-justification”.

So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Lk 18:22)

How does the young man respond?
But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. (Lk 18:23)

Ah-ha!!!! The gig is up. Jesus exposes the REAL issue behind the young man's inability to be “saved”. It wasn't simply that the man was rich, but that he just wanted a quick list of do's & don'ts. He didn't want to bother with a nature change.

This brings us to the title of this article. Perhaps the first thing is to explain what Eruvin means.

Pharisees would equivocate about obeying God by doing such things as placing objects less than 1 mile apart before the Sabbath so that they could "technically" travel MORE than a mile on the Sabbath & not break the "letter of the law" (since it was permitted to travel from possession to possession, or within the confines of ones own property) .

Ex 16:29b
Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.

Eruv refers to the legal aggregation or "mixture" under Jewish religious property law of separate parcels of property meeting certain requirements into a single parcel held in common by all the holders of the original parcels, which enables Jews who observe the traditional rules concerning Shabbat to carry children and belongings anywhere within the jointly held property without transgressing the prohibition against carrying a burden across a property line on the Jewish sabbath. (source)

The Eruv acts as a sort of “loophole” around Ex 16:29. Some of the Jews were masters at this type of equivocation. For example, we see this “loophole” mentality on display during a discussion Jesus was having with a group of Jews about loving one's neighbor.

LUKE 10:29
But he [the Jewish responder] wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

In modern Israel almost every Jewish community is enclosed by an eruv. Outside Israel there are over 150 community eruvin, as well as thousands of private ones enclosing only a few homes, or linking a synagogue to one or more nearby homes. (source)

Even we Christians sometimes create or look for Eruvin loopholes in how we deal with sin. For instance, I have actually debated homosexual Christians (an oxymoron?) who claim that the Bible gives no specific prohibition against homosexuality but merely against sodomy & therefore if the homosexual doesn't engage in that specific act, they are “technically” not in sin just by being homosexual.

Christians in general may justify away sin by claiming it was a “joke” or that it is really no big deal as long as you privately repent to God. Sin is often not taken too seriously even among supposed Christians. It is as if they too have established Eruvin zones around them & their friends so that they may broaden the acceptance of what would otherwise be considered wrong.

Perhaps the classic N.T. Biblical example of this is found in 1 Cor 5 where we see a community of Christians accepting & shall we say “being tolerant” of a man among them in open sin – apparently carrying on a relationship with his mother or step-mother. The Corinthians see themselves as “proud” of it (1 Cor 5:2). Oh how “loving”, how “non-judgmental”, how “generous” & “gracious” they thought of themselves. Yet Paul quickly dismantled their Eruvin loophole.

Ultimately, an Eruvin loophole is anything that tries to “technically” avoid or get around the intent of God's/Jesus' commandments. This is seen even more clearly in how Jesus would constantly use the phrase: “You have heard it said...but I say...” & then go on to not contradict the things that were said in the past, but to explain the original intent of those precepts.

In conclusion, the best example of this is found in this exchange between Jesus & some Jews about divorce:

Mt 19:7-9
They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives,
but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

Jesus explains the ORIGINAL INTENT was for a man & woman to be married until death do they part.
Now, people use all sorts of Eruvin loopholes around the original intent – some even try to claim that polygamy is okay since they can cite some biblical persons who practiced polygamy.

Let us be careful that we are not setting up Eruvin loopholes in opposition to God's original intents.

No comments: