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MESSAGE FOR THE FORTNIGHT
 



REPUBLIC DAY MESSAGE-OF OLD AND NEW!!!





Hey, with 26th January drawing near, the Republic Day for the Indian citizens’ is around!!! For the uninitiated on this subject, it gives me great pleasure to state that it was on that day that the Nation of India became a Sovereign, Republic with the birth of its own constitution drafted by a great visionary namely Dr.B.R.Ambedkar!!! For greater understanding of the word “Constitution” (every nation has one of its own and would be justifiably proud of it), let’s look at what a Dictionary would have to say on this subject…A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles that constitute the legal basis of a Country and commonly determine how that Nation is to be governed, lest it slip into anarchy. When these principles are written down into a single document or set of legal documents, those documents may be said to embody a written constitution.

Before coming to the salient aspects of my message, as “starters” (figuratively speaking) for the “spiritually young” Biblical students in India, if I were to disclose at this stage, that in the matter of getting Independence and then consequently getting its own Constitution, the Biblical Israel in a way is a precursor of India, I am sure (sic) a few of them would get some spiritual goosebumps. Just as India gained its independence from the British regime on 15th August, 1947 and then subsequently got its own constitution on January 26th 1950, similarly the Biblical Israel too got its independence from the Egyptian slavery on the day (or night- Exo 12,13… as per the Rabbinical tradition in 1313 BC), the Jews celebrate as their Passover day and got their “Constitution” (read Law) 50 days later at Mount Sinai (Exo 19, 20) on the day they celebrate in remembrance as the “Day of Pentecost”.

As I draw nearer to the core aspects of my message, I want to pose a question to the readership at this stage. If India got its own Constitution only after almost two and half years of getting its independence, then what basis did our First Prime Minister namely Shri. Jawaharlal Nehru and his “famous fifteen” (his cabinet ministers) govern our great Country in the interim period? What “constitution” was in place at that time to show the way as it were, at that time? The Government of India Act, 1935…Ladies and Gentlemen, which in a way was foundational to our exiting Constitution!!! Yes, the Government of India Act, 1935 which actually came into effect from April 1st, 1937 by and large was “contextually good” for that interim period (from 1937 till 1950). However it had some obvious “rough edges” (perceived in hindsight that is) such as giving “preferential treatment” for the ruling class (eg…Nizam of Hyderabad or Raja of Mysore) besides depriving the voting rights for the “depressed classes” (I do not intend to get into the nitty gritty of this subject, as it may open up some old wounds which presumably have long healed), as such it had to be replaced by the prevalent Constitution of 26th January 1950 which in a way is a better version of its predecessor with the rough edges (of its forerunner) duly ironed out. Whatever be the demerits (viewed retrospectively that is) of the forerunner of our existing constitution, it needs to be stated that some useful concepts of the same pertaining to say
    A) Court of Final Appeal (called as Federal Court then) equivalent to our contemporary Supreme Court,

    B) a Controlling Bank i,e Reserve Bank of India,

    C) Having 3 lists to facilitate easy general administration…Central (then called Federal), State (then called Provincial) and Concurrent

    were appreciated for what they were and “incorporated” in the Existing Constitution of ours.

Now coming to the Scriptural realm, do we see such kinds of “then and now” cases in the Bible? A “new” Constitution by and large replacing the “older” one albeit with retention of some useful points of the latter in the former??? Yes….and in this message I want to bring out such instances for the glory of our Heavenly Father and for the illumination and edification of His Saints using some “alliteration” (sub-headings beginning with…hmmm…what else ….alphabet “C” for remember, we are dealing on the subject ”C”onstitution….sic ).

Conjugation…

Before I take even one proverbial step ahead, let it be stated here that the history of the Nation of Israel begins with the call of Abraham (Gen 12), the point reinforced by the great First Christian Martyr of the Church-Stephen-at the beginning of his no-holds-barred testimony before the Jewish Sanhedrin (Acts 7:1-3). Now pray tell me (permit me to use some English expressions of yore…sic) who were Abraham and Sarah relationally before marriage? Boy…a half brother and a half sister having the same father (Gen 20:12)!!! Now as the World population was less at that point of time, the Almighty at that point of time “permitted” such kind of marital alliances. Be that as it may, would He give a green signal to such kind of marriages amongst the Jews (when the Law was being given to them more than 400 years later at Mount Sinai- Gal 3:17) when their population had grown sizably in the intervening period??? No way…consider this better statute in the better “Constitution”…

Do not have sexual relations with your sister or half sister, whether she is your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born into your household or someone else’s.- Lev 18:9

Thanks to advancement of education in the field of genetics, while the modern day doctors would now warn in these contemporary times against marriage between 2 close relatives as it can lead to abnormalities in their children, our Omniscient Creator of the human body had long forbidden in His law such kind of marriages, all of 3,500 years ago. Hallelujah!!!

Now what about Jacob’s marriage with 2 sisters’ Leah and Rachel which was contextually and socially acceptable even to the Almighty (as per His sovereign will) at that point of time (Gen 29:15-29)? Could this precedent be used by any Jew in the Post Mosaic period (say of Davidic era) to marry 2 sisters? Again…No way…let Leviticus 18:18 give us the answer…

While your wife is living, do not marry her sister and have sexual relations with her, for they would be rivals- Lev 18:18

It needs to be noted here that adultery (sexual relationship outside of ambit of the Holy Matrimony) was prohibited both in Pre-Law (written if not in stone tablets, it was written in the hearts of men better known as conscience- Gen 39:8-9) and Post Law periods. Hmmm…some good points of Government of India Act, 1935 (as I stated earlier) continued in our prevalent Constitution of 26th January, 1950.

Now coming to the last word (both literally and figuratively speaking) in the matter of conjugation, while era of Pre-Law period in the Israeli history (beginning with the call of Abraham) till the Sinai Covenant can be compared to the era of Indian Government Act, 1935 from April 1st, 1937 (it came into effect then) till 26th January 1950 in the Indian constitutional history and the Post Law period till the (let me put it this way at this conjecture) advent of Christ can be compared to our prevalent Indian Constitution of Jan 26th, 1950 then by the same token in the subject of polygamy (polygamy was permitted as per the Mosaic Law- Deu 21:15-17 but not in the prevalent Gospel dispensation), Mosaic Law needs to be compared to Indian Government Act 1935 and Statutes on monogamy mentioned in New Testament in 1 Tim 3:2 and Titus 1:6 with the “in vogue” Indian Constitution with came into effect from 26th January, 1950. Hmmmm…no preferential treatment to the “Princely States” (read husbands) in our existing Constitution in the matter of selecting more than one spouse!!!

Customs…

But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.”- Acts 15:5

For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy- Hebrews 10:14

With the Gospel being firstly preached in Jerusalem and only to the Jews to start with (godly ones at that- Acts 2:5), the new converts from the Jewish background to the Christianity (also called the new way of life- Acts 9:2/19:23), justifiably in their heart of hearts were very much attached to the customs and ceremonies which were sacrosanct in the Mosaic Law period such as Circumcision and Levitical offerings (Chapters 1-6:7) and hence the First Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) to find the Lord’s will in the matter of continuing to follow the customs of the Sinai Covenant or not. But Apostle Peter loving yet firm words in that Council meeting (Acts 15:7-11) and later Paul’s epistle to Galatians (Gal 3:24-29) and the one to Hebrews (author most probably Paul) make it amply clear that a new and better “Constitution” (Covenant) as prophesied before had well and truly arrived (Jeremiah 31:31-33/Heb 8:6-13). Speaking in the Indian constitutional parlance, whilst drafting the new Constitution of 1950, certain statutes of the Indian Government Act 1935 (in this the spiritual realm… the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law) had to be done away with. Just as useful concepts of Government of India Act, 1935 found way into the prevalent Indian Constitution, the Early Apostles too considering that our Heavenly Father’s primary nature (of being happy with the obedient lot and sad with the disobedient ones’) does not change at any time (Mal 3:6) were duty-bound to remind the believers of NT dispensation that all of Scripture is God-inspired (2 Tim 3:16-17) and that reading the World and the Israeli history(917 chapters out of 928 chapters in OT section of The Bible) with its instances obedience would inspire hope in us (Romans 15:4) whilst instances of disobedience with tragic consequences would serve as a warning to us (1 Cor 10:11). Bye…Bye…. ceremonies of Mosaic Law but not the history of World and Israel with its paramount, insightful lessons on blessings borne out of humble, obedience to our benevolent Creator and dependence upon Him at all times and conversely curses emerging on account of proud disobedience and self-reliant actions outside the domain of His will!!!

In the broader context, it needs to be remembered that wherever Gospel was preached (Christianity is relatively a new faith), the people (who responded positively to the Gospel) of those great countries (including our great nation) who till then had shown allegiance to their own inspired religious set of beliefs (they were necessary to prevent their societies from slipping into the anarchic debauchery of say Sodom and Gommorah) listened to the Apostles (in case of India to Apostle Thomas) who had the “best constitution” with them (in relation to their own inspired religious beliefs which had been contextually good till then) and opted for it in the manner Jews did at Jerusalem (Acts 2-5) and the Greeks did at Phillippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and Corinth (Acts 16-18). . Who can honestly resist the “best new constitution” (read invitation of the Almighty to reside within them giving them at all times heavenly joy and peace- Rom 14:17)!!! One can say NO to the best new constitution only at his own peril (Mark 16:16/Heb 2:3)!!! Yours Truly who said “yes” to the Almighty’s invitation in Oct 1983, has been enjoying his joyous communion with his Creator through Christ for 38 years now through both tough as well as not-so-tough times!!!

Communion…

On the subject of 2 different Indian Constitutions of 2 periods while we can make a claim that the Bible is also broadly divided into 2 sections… the Old Testament (Scriptures before Christ) and the New Testament (Scriptures beginning with the advent of Christ), a closer scrutiny of NT Section would further reveal 2 demarcations…with the Gospels and the Book of Acts mostly representing the transient Scriptural history of Christianity on one side and the Epistles section (going upto the 3rd Chapter of the Book of Revelation) bearing the mark of a full-fledged history (wherein the Lord’s counsel on several key doctrinal matters and His dealings with the Christians is more clearly revealed) on the other. Let me take the example of the Scripture portion which is read traditionally the World over in all the Churches’ before the Communion is administered by the Pastors’ globally now to substantiate the point, I am making.

Ever wondered, why we do not read from the three Synoptic Gospels where the account of our Lord instituting the “Communion” is recorded but only from 1 Corinthians 11:23-32 before administering the communion? While in the Gospels, the only “the reasons” behind this sacred ritual besides the “methodology” of participating in it is mentioned, by the time the latter Scripture portion (1 Cor 11:23-32) was written, a clear evidence had emerged before the discerning eyes of the Apostles’ that those participating in this sacred ritual unworthily would be at the receiving end of our Lord’s chastisement. So reading from the 1 Cor 11:23-32 is akin to presenting “a total perspective” as it were to the Church gathering on not only why communion is being offered but also who ought to participate and how they ought to participate in it.

Shades of Indian Government Act, 1935 and the better refined Indian Constitution of 26th January, 1950? Well…Well…Well…

Consecration…

“…strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders (read Pastors) for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.- Acts 14:22-23

Hey, is there not something jarring in the above-captioned Scripture portion which is appearing to you quite glaringly? Confused? Let me explain. Who were these Pastors whom the Apostles-Paul and Barnabas- appointed even as they completing their fruitful First Missionary Journey (Acts 13-14)? They were the Pastors’ of the newly founded Churches at Iconium, Antioch (of Galatia province and not Syria), Lystra and Derbe. Next question which would arise is… to be more spiritually mature when compared to other Church members in order to lead them better in the ways of the Lord, were these Pastors’ older in faith (not in age necessarily) when compared to their Church members? NO!!! Both the Pastors’ and the Church members in this 4 Churches’ had become Christians at more or less the same time. Just as the good Lord permitted the marriage between Abraham and Sarah because of the circumstances (low population) prevalent at that time, our Lord had obviously given some special discernment to Apostles (Paul and Barnabbas) to select Pastors for these 4 congregations because of “strange circumstances” (read no option) therein with Pastors and Church members of more or less the same spiritual age. But would our good Lord permit a new convert now to become a Pastor of his Church within a few weeks of his conversion especially that Epistles revealing God’s will in these matters are now available? Let one of the Pastoral Epistles dealing with the concerned subject-Pastoral qualifications- give us an answer…

He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit- 1 Tim 3:6

So, as I said before there is a definite demarcation even within the NT Section of the Bible with the Gospels and Acts on one side (no, they are not redundant at all but in fact foundational to the Epistles’ therefore should be read again and again) and the Epistles on the other (where a clearer picture as to the Lord’s will on important doctrinal matters come to fore). May the good, wise Lord Jesus Christ who uses the Holy Spirit not only in the matter of progressive sanctification in our lives but also in the matter of progressive revelation (John 16:13) help us understand the Scriptures more and more in order we understand more and more of our Heavenly Father’s great wisdom which would result in we worshipping Him more and more intensely.

Meanwhile let’s also resolve to pray for the welfare of our Nation and also its leaders (where the good Lord in His infinite wisdom has placed us - Jeremiah 29:7/1 Tim 2:1-3) not only on Republic Day but at all times.

Suresh Manoharan

Ps…While on the subject, it needs to be told that for governing India originally the British Parliament had passed an Act way back in 1773 itself but I did not get into those details as my main intention was to bring out by way of comparison (of only 2 Indian constitutions of different periods), the evolution as it were of God’s counsel in some key affairs (physical and spiritual) of human life with His “Constitutions” emerging at the right time for the right people from time to time.








Yours in His service,


(Suresh Manoharan)