Leading Question: How does the Bible help us know whether we are drinking too much water or too little?
If, as in last week’s lesson, the Bible says very little about our need for exercise, it says even less about our need for water. There are good passages which speak of the renewing and cleansing power of water, but none that speak of its health benefits. Given that fact, how does the Bible inform our decisions about the use of water?
1. Is it possible to distinguish between those “laws” in the Bible which are strictly ritual and those with health implications? Leviticus 11:40 declares that those who carry a carcass are unclean until evening, even though they wash their clothes according to the law. Can we surmise why that kind of rule might have been in place? Leviticus 13 and 15 also speak of the cleansing power of water, but the ritual requirements are also specified. How do we know which of these laws are to be followed by believers today?
2. Do the changing laws within the Old Testament, and between the Testaments, give us the right, indeed the mandate to determine on the basis of “sanctified reason” which laws no longer apply? Here are three examples, all of which involve symbolism that had weighty meaning when the laws were first given:
- Changes within the Old Testament:
- Defective males (Deut 23:1 and Isaiah 56:3-5): Rejected, then welcomed.
- Illegitimate children (Deut 23:2 and Judges 11 [Jephthah]): Rejected then Spirit-filled.
- Foreigners: Moabites and Ammonites (Deut 23:3-6 and Ruth [cf. 1 Kings 14:21]): rejected, then included in the royal lineage. Ruth was an ancestor of Jesus.
- Changes between the Testaments: Circumcision no longer mandated: Acts 15.
3. When might our “reason” lead us away from God’s will and how can we make sure that it doesn’t happen?
- Anything which leads us to hurt others would certainly be off limits (cf. Gal 5:13).
- The community of believers can keep us within the limits of God’s will. Acts 15:28 contains a powerful statement of how that can work. At the first General Conference when the community was struggling over questions of what would apply, they talked it through and prayed it through until they came to this conclusion: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” In short, when we fear that our reason might be leading us astray, the company of good brothers and sisters in Christ can give us sound counsel.