Go Ahead Paul, Make My Day

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2nd Timothy 3:14-17

Many people who casually read the Bible do not realize how much of the Old Testament is quoted in the New Testament. For example, to understand Paul, one has to read what Paul was reading and quoting. Take for example the verses in the second letter to the Corinthians. Paul is not quoting verses out of context to support some new concept. He is reminding his readers where to look in scripture to find the deeper understanding. We do this today by quoting a famous line in a book or movie to bring the whole theme of the movie into the thought we are trying to emphasize.

2Co 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
2Co 6:15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?
2Co 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
2Co 6:17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,
2Co 6:18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

Here is the first quote in these verses:

Lev 26:11 I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you.
Lev 26:12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.

If we look at the preceding verses in Leviticus, it is in line with what Paul is saying about idols.

Lev 26:1 “‘You shall not make for yourselves idols and divine images, and you shall not raise up stone pillars for yourselves, and you shall not put a sculptured stone in your land in order to worship before it, because I am Yahweh your God.
Lev 26:2 “‘You shall keep my Sabbaths, and you shall revere my sanctuary; I am Yahweh.
Lev 26:3 “‘If you walk in my statutes and you keep my commands and you do them,
Lev 26:4 then I will give you rains in their time, and the land shall give its produce, and the trees of the field shall give their fruit.

It always amazes me to drive by cemeteries with large obelisks for head stones. These are the stone pillars Yahweh is speaking about, yet church people erect them on graves in church yards either out of ignorance or defiance.

Would Paul quote part of Leviticus 26 and not believe the whole chapter still applied? The same God that said have nothing to do with idols also said to keep His Sabbaths, walk in His statutes and keep His commandments in the same context.

Paul also quotes from Isaiah 52, telling his readers to get away from the pagan idolatry and touch no unclean thing. This is similar to Acts 15, “things polluted by idols”.

Isa 52:11 Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the LORD.

Read the whole chapter or the whole book of Isaiah to better understand what Paul is trying to convey.

Isa 52:10 Yahweh has bared his holy arm to the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
Isa 52:11 Depart, depart, go out from there! You must not touch any unclean thing. Go out from the midst of it, keep clean, you who carry the vessels of Yahweh.
Isa 52:12 For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for Yahweh is going before you, and your rear guard is the God of Israel.
Isa 52:13 Look, my servant shall achieve success; he shall be exalted, and he shall be lifted up, and he shall be very high.
Isa 52:14 Just as many were appalled at you—such was his appearance beyond human disfigurement, and his form beyond the sons of mankind—
Isa 52:15 so he shall sprinkle many nations; because of him, kings shall shut their mouths. For they shall see what has not been told them, and they shall consider with full attention what they have not heard.

In chapter 43 of Isaiah, it tells us about the relationship of sons and daughters, or children, as Paul states in his letter to the Corinthians.

Isa 43:6 I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth,
Isa 43:7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Paul is using bits and pieces of the Old Testament to remind people of the larger narrative. Putting on the “whole armour of God” is usually attributed to Paul in at least one sermon per year by every preacher. I have never heard anyone ever relate this to the passages in Isaiah that Paul is quoting.

Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Eph 6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
Eph 6:15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
Eph 6:16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
Eph 6:17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
Eph 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Eph 6:19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,
Eph 6:20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Speaking of the Messiah, Isaiah 11:5 speaks of the girded waist with truth. We know that truth is the righteousness of Yah found in His Torah.

Isa 11:1 And a shoot will come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from its roots will bear fruit.
Isa 11:2 And the spirit of Yahweh shall rest on him—a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and might, a spirit of knowledge and the fear of Yahweh.
Isa 11:3 And his breath is in the fear of Yahweh. And he shall judge not by his eyesight, and he shall rebuke not by what he hears with his ears.
Isa 11:4 But he shall judge the poor with righteousness, and he shall decide for the needy of the earth with rectitude. And he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and he shall kill the wicked person with the breath of his lips.
Isa 11:5 And righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The breastplate of righteousness is not man’s righteousness, but the righteousness of Yahweh.

Isa 59:16 And he saw that there was no man, and he was appalled that there was no one who intercedes, so his arm came to assist him, and his righteousness was what sustained him.
Isa 59:17 And he put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head, and he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and he wrapped himself in zeal as in a robe.
Isa 59:18 According to deeds, so he will repay; wrath to his enemies, requital to those who are his enemies. He will repay requital to the coastlands.
Isa 59:19 So they shall fear the name of Yahweh from the west, and his glory from the sunrise, for he will come like a narrow stream; the wind of Yahweh drives it on.
Isa 59:20 “And a redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn away from transgression,” declares Yahweh.

“The shoes of your feet, bringing the good news announcing peace” is another reference to Isaiah. This is all about imitating the Messiah. Paul is not plagiarizing Isaiah. He is pointing his readers back to what he assumes they already know. It’s like saying “go ahead, make my day”, wanting to bring to mind Clint Eastwood movies to an audience.

Isa 52:6 Therefore my people shall know my name, therefore in that day, that I am the one who speaks. Here am I.”
Isa 52:7 How delightful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns as a king.”
Isa 52:8 The voices of your watchmen! They lift up their voices; together they sing for joy; for they clearly see Yahweh’s return to Zion.

Another reference, Ephesians 6:15, “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”, is found in Isaiah.

Isa 49:1 Listen to me, coastlands, and listen attentively, peoples from far away! Yahweh called me from the womb; from the body of my mother he made my name known.
Isa 49:2 And he made my mouth like a sharp sword; he hid me in the shadow of his hand, and he made me like an sharpened arrow; he hid me in his quiver.
Isa 49:3 And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will show my glory.”
Isa 49:4 But I myself said, “I have labored in vain; I have used up my strength for nothing and vanity! Nevertheless, my justice is with Yahweh, and my reward is with my God.”
Isa 49:5 And now Yahweh says, who formed me from the womb as a servant for him, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might not be gathered, for I am honored in the eyes of Yahweh, and my God has become my strength.
Isa 49:6 And he says, “It is trivial for you to be a servant for me, to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel. I will give you as a light to the nations, to be my salvation to the end of the earth.”
Isa 49:7 Thus says Yahweh, the redeemer of Israel, his holy one, to the one who despises life, to the one who abhors the nation, to the slave of rulers: “Kings shall see and stand up; princes, and they shall bow down, for the sake of Yahweh, who is faithful, the holy one of Israel, and he has chosen you.”

Jesus is the one with the sword in his mouth. He is going to use it against the wicked.

2Es 13:10 But only I saw that he sent out of his mouth as it had been a blast of fire, and out of his lips a flaming breath, and out of his tongue he cast out sparks and tempests.
2Es 13:11 And they were all mixed together; the blast of fire, the flaming breath, and the great tempest; and fell with violence upon the multitude which was prepared to fight, and burned them up every one, so that upon a sudden of an innumerable multitude nothing was to be perceived, but only dust and smell of smoke: when I saw this I was afraid.

Rev 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

During my forty-seven years in the Christian church, I never realized the disdain Christians have for the Old Testament until I started reading and understanding it. Things are said such as, “but that’s the Old Testament”, or “Isn’t that from the Old Testament?”, as if the Old Testament is an irrelevant document. It is the whole basis for the New Testament! As much as Christianity wants to distance itself from the Hebrew scriptures and develop a new world religion with a lawless gospel, the writers of the New Testament have all brought it forward. Speaking of the Old Testament, this is what Paul told Timothy in his letter, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”.

The featured image is by Mick Haupt on Unsplash.

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