The Character of God as Father Pt 13: Peter, Paul, and protecting the younger siblings

 

Galatians 2

11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

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This passage can be difficult to understand if you don’t know about the traditions of the elders that Yeshua (Jesus) spoke against.  I’m going to just give a quick overview of what was happening here that was rabbinical instead of biblical.

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Biblically, all believers have been on equal standing since Mt Sinai.  In fact, there has only ever been one difference — that being that the eating of the Passover Lamb is forbidden to the uncircumcised, but other than that, all things are equal and always have been.  But the traditions of the elders, the Pharisaic laws, changed all that and made a wall of separation between those born Jewish and those born Gentile.  Belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was not enough, keeping the commandments was not enough — because one was still considered “common” or “unclean” until they had formally converted to Judaism according to their traditions.  This was also the heart of the matter before the Acts 15 council, and the whole point of Peter’s vision — the belief that, unless one converted to Judaism according to the traditions of the elders (now recorded in the Talmud), they were unclean and anyone who touched them or ate with them or ate what they touched would be unclean as well.  It was accepted to the point that ten years after the resurrection of Messiah, his own followers weren’t questioning it!

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And might I say that to call someone unclean whom God has made clean is to question God Himself, as well as the scriptures?  So this tradition had to go — or else the gospel would have never traveled beyond the Jews into the nations.

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Acts 10:28  And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

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But in Galatia, we have a problem — Peter, who was the very man the revelation that believers are not unclean or common was given to, backtracked and refused to eat in the homes of the former Gentiles who were now joined to Israel.  Nor were the former Gentiles allowed to eat in the homes of Jewish believers in Messiah!  There was now a separation — and who was it at the hands of?  The mature, the older siblings.  Not Jews who denied Messiah, but Jews who received Him!

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Sidebar:  This is the antithesis of the kind of family that God is building.  In a good family, the older help care for the younger, the older serve the younger — because it is the younger and weaker who need served, not the eldest!  The older teach the younger, patiently.  The healthy aid the sick.  The older are never permitted to beat up, or discourage, the little ones.  The older siblings do not lord authority over the younger, but instead serve as faithful representatives and extensions of parental authority and never step beyond it, or assume that authority for themselves.

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So we had the older siblings (1) abusing the younger and (2) treating them as though they are not even family at all.  And the worst part is that Peter and Barnabus were in the thick of it — anything tolerated by Peter was going to be accepted as Messianic halakah — the doctrines that the Messianic believers would live by.  Someone had to step in to avert the destruction of the family that God was trying to build through Yeshua.  Fortunately, Paul stepped in — even though it would seem he was the only one who did.

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He let Peter have it, because the family was at stake and the character of God the Father and Yeshua were being misrepresented.  The Torah was being misrepresented.  Their actions were calling people unclean who were clean!  Paul did what Peter should have done.  Peter knew the truth better than anyone that Gentiles were being brought in as full citizens of Israel WITHOUT becoming Jews, and be subject to the same King, the same laws, the same blessings, the same standing.

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In the Body today, we see an upside down system.  Leaders being protected as they misrepresent the character of our King, and the youngest and weakest being trampled underfoot. No true family works like this, even most bad families don’t work like this.  Because we are doing this, because we are tolerating and promoting this, we aren’t being real brothers and sisters, we aren’t being real children of the King.  It really reminds me of the cutthroat atmosphere of High School, where really, no one loves each other and everyone wants to be associated with the in-crowd — no matter what the cost to their souls or to their fellow human beings.

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What would Paul say if he could see us?  I don’t think he’d be nearly as concerned about the Sabbath as he would be with the obvious fact that we obviously don’t love each other as family.  Perhaps if we were more focused on being a family and not turning a blind eye to those who are not acting like big brothers and sisters just because they are interesting, we would shine and lead many to righteousness.  All these little ones need care, they need a real family, and we need to start working on providing them with something better than the world can offer.

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Family is about the older caring for the younger, the strong protecting the weak, the wise instructing the unlearned.  It is about being joined with like kind and producing the kind of fruit that speaks well of the Patriarch.  Anything that does not meet these criteria, by definition, does not qualify as a healthy family.

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