[This is part two of a series on the meaning/meaninglessness of Scripture. Here’s part one.]
Meaningless Kitchen Gadgets*
I wonder if the people who came up with these gadgets have any ideas that they decided not to pursue. Then again, I’m surprised even these made it to market. Except this one:
Seriously, folks. Don’t we all want to be able to cook up a whole one pound package of bacon in a single shot?
Meaningless In The Bible
Think the Bible’s not full of meaningless passages? The book of Ecclesiastes alone uses the word “meaningless” 34 times. If that’s not a book full of meaninglessness, then what is? Of course the writer there is warning us away from the meaninglessness of putting anything – family, work, pleasure or anything else – before God. (Ecclesiastes 12:13.)
Isaiah also speaks of meaningless matters. He brings God’s message to the people of Israel, telling them to give up their devotion to their meaningless forms of worship and instead turn to God with their whole hearts.
Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
The theme recurs under the New Covenant as well, where Paul warns his friend Titus to guard against people who insist on teaching legalistic doctrine (the “circumcision group”).
For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. (Titus 1:10.)
Do you see how both Isaiah and Paul touch on the same problem? Isaiah warns that people are getting caught up in following formats, thinking that is what will make them right with God, without concern for true faithfulness to God himself. Paul too cautions against those who insist people must do something in order to meet God’s standards, essentially to become Jewish and try to follow the same empty rituals Isaiah denounced.
Paul’s advice on how to handle these false teachers is telling:
Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. (Titus 1:13-14.)
Make them stop because all they’re doing is promoting human commands, and human commands are meaningless.
Which takes me back to Ecclesiastes and the words of that passage I cited above:
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. (Ecclesiastes 12:13.)
Don’t Keep God’s Commandments
What does it mean to keep God’s commandments, though? It can’t mean to consider ourselves bound by the law that Moses delivered to the Israelites, the rules and regulations in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Paul made that very clear when he denounced the circumcision group. (He also did so in other letters. Read Galatians 2:11-16 for a real eye opener on how strongly he felt about it.)
So if we’re not to keep the commandments the writer of Ecclesiastes had in mind, the law of Moses, then is there any commandment we must keep under the New Covenant? Yes, and it is clear and unequivocal:
Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:10.)
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14.)
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. (James 2:8.)
There is no law binding on anyone under the New Covenant except the law of love. This is God’s royal command that encompasses all God’s laws.
*This is not the first time I’ve written about kitchen gadgets, as this guest post for Keri Wyatt Kent will attest.