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Leviticus 26-27:

http://apacheip.com/wp-content/plugins/cherry-plugin/admin/css/cherry-admin-plugin.css The Abrahamic Covenant of the Land:
The Abrahamic Covenant is tied to the land.  The Israelites can choose a blessing or a curse dependent upon if they are obedient and loyal or disobedient and not loyal.  It is a conditional Covenant.  This is a traditional Near Eastern Suzerainty Lord-Vassal Covenant, full of blessings and curses.  If they remain loyal to Yahweh and reject other gods, then they will obey the rules of the Covenant.  It is their freewill choice to obey or not to obey.  Yet, even if they disobey, various “reset buttons” are built into the system, such as the various offerings, the Day of Atonement, the Sabbatical Year, the Year of Jubilee.  Disloyalty will (and did) result in exile from the land.  Humility, penance and confession of their iniquities could (and did) lead to Restoration.  Then, Yahweh “will remember the Covenant” and the land.

St. Paul and the Restoration:
St. Paul interprets the Restoration with the coming of the New Covenant and the embrace of the Gospel to Israel and all the nations.  Rom. 2:28 says a Jew is one inwardly by heart and spirit. Similarly, Gal. 3 speaks of the new Israel as the Church, “Abraham’s seed.”  The Church fulfills the promise to Israel.  St. Paul actually quotes Lev. 26:12 saying “I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Cor. 6:16)  St. Paul says this is fulfilled in the fact that Christians are a “temple of the living God.”  The Gentile Christians have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them.  After the Exile, only two tribes of Israel returned. Not all 12 tribes returned to Israel. The Restoration is fulfilled in the coming of the Gospel to all Jews and Gentile nations.  The Exile ends with the Cross and Crucifixion.  The Church fulfills the Abrahamic Covenant of faith. Yet, there will be another fulfillment and Restoration too to Israel at the Second Coming.  Multifaceted levels of fulfillment are going on in prophecy and the Restoration.

Communion of the People with God:
Leviticus is all about the communion of God with His people through the lifestyle necessary to maintain that communion.  It was a type of liturgical worship.  In the living tradition of the Church, the liturgical holiness and cleanliness and worship of God developed in Leviticus was absorbed into the Church.  However, the great bulk of the law was added after the transgression of the Golden Calf Incident.  As St. Paul alludes, the law was added because of sin.  But, as St. Thomas Aquinas taught (ST, I-II, 98-105), there were delineations in various laws that the Israelites adopted: (1) Civil laws; (2) Ceremonial laws; and (3) Moral laws.  The civil law was applicable only to Israel’s culture and time; the ceremonial laws were foreshadows and types of Christ, and so, fulfilled in Christ. And, the moral laws alone were authoritative and so, continued into the New Testament and in perpetuity.  Morality does not change.

New Testament Dependence upon Leviticus:
Jesus quoted Leviticus and called one of its scriptures the second greatest commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev. 19:18) The New Covenant is replete with Levitical quotes and is completely dependent upon the Old Testament and the inheritance of Leviticus.  Much of our vocabulary is directly from Leviticus.  For example: Jesus Christ is our “High Priest” who makes “atonement” for “sins” by the paschal “sacrifice” of Himself, by the result of the “blood of His sacrifice” we are “cleansed.”  Christ’s “blood” “consecrates” us, and the “priests” in His Church to convey His “holiness” onto us.  As the Book of Hebrews states as a matter of fact: “  He entered once for all into the Holy Place, takingnot the blood of goats and calves but His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” (Heb. 11:12)

The Baptism of the Gentiles:
As St. Peter in his vision in the Book of Acts realized that the Food Laws were no longer binding and that the Gospel should be preached to the Gentiles too.  St. Peter’s vision is directed at the Food Laws of Leviticus: order provigil uk  “In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has cleansed, you must not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.” (Acts 10:12-16) St. Peter then realized that the Gentiles were not to be excluded from the Gospel.  Originally the Church was only preached and spread among the Jews, but after this vision it incorporated all of humanity.  St. Peter said: “In truth, I see that God show no partiality.  Rather, in every nation whoever fears Him and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him.” (Acts 10:34-35)  Then, later: “The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God.  Then Peter responded, ‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?’  He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 10:45-48) The New Testament undoes the Levitical prohibitions against the Gentiles, and begins to draw back in the exiled nations of the Tower of Babel. God expands “His portion” from just Israel to the whole portion of the whole world. It will be a universal redemption.

The Didache, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles – 25 January 2016

Wouldn’t it be great to have a snapshot into the life of the early Church to see what they believed and taught and practiced on a day-to-day basis? Of course, we have the New Testament, which is divinely-inspired, and tells us about the life of Jesus Christ and the faith of the first Christian communities. Its 27 books, and eight (possibly nine, depending on if you think St.Paul, or a disciple of St.Paul, wrote the letter to the Hebrews.) authors – including the Apostles St.Matthew, St.John, St.James, St.Peter, St.Jude, and disciples St.Mark, St.Luke, and St.Paul – is the scriptural foundation of all Christian canonical beliefs. All of the books were written in the first century by eye-witnesses to Jesus, or by the first disciples of the Apostles. Aside from being the Word of God, these are incredibly reliable historical documents, reflecting direct contact with the person of Jesus and written relatively soon after. Yet, there are also many extra-biblical sources and letters, from the first century and early second century, that describe the life, belief and practices of the early Church. These are the writings of the early Church Fathers, in particular, the Apostolic Church Fathers, such as Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Smyrna. They are considered “Apostolic” because they had direct contact with the Apostles themselves, thus making their work fascinating and of utmost importance (even though they were not ultimately included within the canon of Church Scripture).

One such document is called “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,” or known simply as “The Didache.” It is one of the earliest known Christian writings, even possibly predating some of the New Testament books. It is generally agreed to have been written between 50-120 AD, well within the lifetime of some of the Apostles and first disciples. Some of the early Christians even considered it an inspired book, although again it was ultimately not included in the canon. The Didache is generally divided into four different sections concerning: (1) a moral catechesis (ie, “The Way of Life” vs. “The Way of Death”), (2) liturgical instruction, (3) a Church manual for various ecclesiastical and community norms, (4) and a brief eschatology of the parousia (ie, the second coming of Christ). One of the most profound aspects of the early Church Fathers’ writings is that they are thoroughly sacramental in nature, that is, they speak explicitly of the sacraments of the Church. Simply, from an apologetics point of view, they demonstrate that the sacraments and doctrines of the Catholic Church are not something contrived or incrementally slipped into Christianity over the centuries. They are not paganism, or a so-called Roman mystery religion. Christianity holds all of that in contempt as idolatry and blasphemy. Rather, the sacraments, the prayers, the Church, they were all there from the beginning. This is also true in The Didache. The tracts of the Didache, as are all the early Church Fathers’ writings, are decisively Catholic. [of note: The Way of Life specifically mentions not to commit “abortion, or infanticide,” which is probably the earliest known Christian writing explicitly condemning abortion and infanticide. Later, it references The Way of Death, in which they “murder their infants, and deface the image of God.”]

The Didache speaks matter-of-factly about Baptism, going to Church on Sundays, receiving the Eucharist, and making a general confession of sins. For example, as part of “The Way of Life,” the author says “In church, make confession of your faults, and do not come to your prayers with a bad conscience.” Later, he instructs:

“Assemble on the Lord’s Day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until they have been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice. For this is the offering of which the Lord has said, Everywhere and always bring me a sacrifice that is undefiled, for I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is the wonder of nations.”

In the Church manual section, he similarly states, “No one is to eat or drink of your Eucharist but those who have been baptized in the Name of the Lord; for the Lord’s own saying applies here, ‘Give not that which is holy unto dogs.’” The manual gives in-depth instruction of the eucharistic prayers to say over the chalice and over the broken bread, offering us a glimpse into the first century Mass. They are to pray, “Thou, O Almighty Lord, hast created all things for thine own Name’s sake; to all men thou hast given meat and drink to enjoy, that they may give thanks to thee, but to us thou hast graciously given spiritual meat and drink, together with life eternal, through thy Servant. Especially, and above all, do we give thanks to thee for the mightiness of thy power.” The manual similarly gives precise details about how to go about baptizing people saying, “..immerse in running water ‘In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’” It offers a similar prescription for standing water, or simply pouring water over the person’s head. The manual delves also into fasting, instructing people to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, much like the modern tradition, and to pray the Our Father three times every day.

And, how should this affect us? These brief snippets offer us glimpses, from outside the New Testament (i.e., accepted Scripture), into the hearts and minds of the first Christians. They lived a sacramental life in toto. Their daily lives were rooted in Baptism, Confession, the Eucharist, Sunday worship, fasting, and prayer. This is what they called The Way of Life. The Way of Life involves modeling our lives after Christ, that is, among many other things, loving our enemies, living a moral life, being meek and compassionate. Moreover, it instructs us, “Accept as good whatever experience comes your way, in the knowledge that nothing can happen without God.” We are to live out our Christian vocations within our ordinary circumstances and trials of each day, with Christ as our “spiritual meat and drink, together with life eternal.” As some have argued, The Didache could be a form of vade mecum, a small handbook that Christians would have carried about with themselves. It spoke to them of how they should live their lives, conduct themselves and embrace the sacramental life. And so it remains with us!

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