Saturday, April 21, 2018

Reading An Article by John Goldingay

I have been reading books, articles and watching videos about the use  of the Old Testament in the New and I came across this article: The Old Testament and Christian Faith: “Jesus and the Old Testament in Matthew 1–5” in Themelios 8, no. 1 (1982). He is dealing here with the issue of how Matthew handles the Old Testament in the first 5 chapters of His Gospel. If we do not understand the context of the Old Testament passages Matthew is citing as being “fulfilled,” we will miss the significance of what Matthew is saying. I am posting quotes from my Old Testament reading on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the theology are in blue below. I am using the Logos version of the article.

In his genealogy Matthew is making a statement that Jesus cannot be understood without the Old Testament background to his person and work, but the significance of the Old Testament events and prophecies cannot be fully understood without reading back into them their fulfillment in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Thus, there may have been "more" to what a prophet wrote than what he fully understood at the time. This is seen in the way Matthew pronounces "fulfillment" in 5 events in Jesus' early life (Matthew 1.18-2.23) of Old Testament prophetic texts. Goldingay would see this insight as a result of Holy Spirit inspiration of the New Testament authors. This is a tough issue for OT scholars, but I like the way Goldingay balances the need to interpret the OT in its context while allowing, as we see in the development of the OT itself, for subsequent events and revelation to provide new insights and meaning to older texts.

On the one hand, understanding the Christ event in the light of the Old Testament story indicates that the contemporary assertion that God is concerned for political and social liberation is quite justified. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is one who is concerned for the release of the oppressed from bondage; the nature of the Christ event does not change that. On the other hand, understanding the Old Testament story in the light of the Christ event highlights for us that concern with the spiritual liberation of the spiritually oppressed which is present in the exodus story itself and which becomes more pressing as the Old Testament story unfolds. Any concern with political and social liberation that does not recognize spiritual liberation as the more fundamental human problem has failed to take account of the development of the Old Testament story after the exodus via the exile to Christ’s coming and his work of atonement. Matthew 1.1-17, 6

In each of these vignettes from the opening years of Jesus’ life, then, a key place is taken by a reference to Old Testament prophecy, as if to say, ‘You will understand Jesus aright only if you see him as the fulfilment of a gracious purpose of God contemplated and announced by him centuries before.Matthew 1.18-2.23, 7

The second part of the article looks at the Old Testament connections between 4 scenes in Matthew 3-5: Jesus' baptism, the temptation, the Beatitudes, and Jesus discussion on Torah and his "fulfillment" of it. The baptism (3.13-17) shows how the OT provides the images and language for understanding for Jesus' identity and mission. Jesus is proclaimed by God as the Davidic king, the servant of the LORD from Isaiah, and the beloved sacrificed son like Isaac and we need to understand the OT context for each of these. From the temptation story, we need to see how Jesus was "steeped" in scripture and how he used it in its context to protect himself from the devil's misuse of it. The Beatitudes describe the kind of life a believer can and should live. Each beatitude is fleshed out in the books of the prophets and wisdom literature and, because of the cross and resurrection, can be lived out as Jesus did in the power of the Spirit. Finally, the idea the Jesus fulfills the law provides the basis for his moral teachings. God is concerned with both our attitudes and actions. Again the key is to read the Old and New Testaments in both directions. The OT provides background, explanation and depth to the NT, while the NT provides new insight and application to the OT.

The New Testament, then, invites us to interpret the Christ event in the light of the Old Testament’s over-all theological perspective, in the terms of its language world. The converse point is that we also have to understand Old Testament theology and images in the light of the Christ event. No-one had ever before brought together the figures of the powerful king, the beloved son, and the afflicted servant. They are highly diverse figures and it would have been difficult to see how one ought to go about relating them. They are only brought together in the light of the Christ event. John Goldingay, “The Old Testament and Christian Faith: Jesus and the Old Testament in Matthew 1–5, 6

Jesus thus sets the clear, direct demand of a fundamental passage in Deuteronomy against the devil’s application of another passage to a particular set of circumstances. The guideline for distinguishing between the use and abuse of Scripture offered here is thus, test alleged application of Scripture by the direct teaching of Scripture elsewhere. The need for a wide knowledge of the over-all teaching of Scripture is underlined by the nature of the devil’s misuse of it. Goldingay, Matthew 4:1-11, 8

The depth of Jesus’ insights on what it means to live with God is in large part due to the extent of his soaking in the Old Testament. Psalms and Isaiah, the books most clearly reflected in these Blessings, are the books most often and most widely quoted in the New Testament. Goldingay, Matthew 5:1-12, 9

The ‘fulfilling’ of Torah and prophets involves confirming them (God really made these promises and warnings, God really gave these laws), embodying them (Jesus’ own life puts into practice what the Torah demands and makes actual what the prophecies picture), and broadening them (you will begin at the Torah, but then go beyond its demands if you wish to understand the full depth of God’s expectations of his creatures; you will begin with these prophecies, but then go beyond what they envisage if you wish to understand the full depth of God’s purpose of salvation). Matthew 5:17-48, 10

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Chart and Outline of the Book of Amos

Amos Chart Structure

Message of Amos

Impending judgment should motivate God's people to examine themselves for signs of complacency, laziness or rebellion, repent and seek relationship with Him so that they will be ready to face God and be part of the blessed minority in His Kingdom.

Outline

  • There are many dangers to being a "religious" person in an affluent society
    • Religious indifference; Taking God for granted.
      • Their relationship with God had become empty ritual. 4:4-6, 5:21-23
      • There was no response to God's discipline. 3:6-10
      • They refused to hear God's Word and even opposed it. 2:9-12, 7:10-1
    • Personal Indulgence  
      • They were full of complacent pride  6:8
      • They were full of self-reliance which God views as "Lo-Debar" (nothing)  6:11-14
      • They loved pleasure and were more concerned about comfort and luxury than service 4:1, 6:4-
    • Social Injustice 
      • Their greed led to the exploitation of others 2:6-8
      • Their value system became distorted and they became blind to their own evil 3:10, 8:5-6
      • This leads to a corrupt society where God's ways are disregarded 5:11-13
  • God's judgment should promote self-evaluation, not condemnation of others
    • Judgment is coming on the unbelieving nations and on God's people 1-3    
      • The nations will be judged based on how they treated others 1-2
      • The list of nations was meant to direct Israel's attention to itself 3:1-15
        • Those who have more privileges will be judged by a higher standard 3:2
        • Abuse of God's privileges, lack of attention to His warnings leads to awful destruction 3:11-15
    • The judgment will be appropriate.
      • The things that take God's place in our affections will be destroyed. 3:15
      • Those that disregard God's ways will have God's Word taken away from them. 8:11-14
      • Those that serve themselves and rely on themselves will have their works destroyed. 6:7-11
    • We are all subject to judgment by God's holy standard. 7:7-
    • The judgment will be complete and terrible. 9:1-10
  • Repent and Live according to covenant so you will be ready for judgment
    • Recognize God's discipline and be prepared to stand before Him in judgment 4:11-12
    • Seek relationship with God 5:4
    • Repent and realize your dependence on God 7:2-5
    • Show the evidence of repentance by good works toward others. 5:14-14, 24
      • Justice is God's character lived out in human relationships
      • Righteousness is God's character lived out in human lives as an offering back to Go
  • The faithful Remnant will be blessed 9:11-15
    • God preserves a faithful remnant for Himself to bring into His kingdom and bless 9:8
    • Blessing will include restoration, rule, fertility, peace, and stability way beyond the best of blessings that we experience in this age

The Day of the LORD Is Coming For YOU

Trying Not To Worry

87626174F058 (1024x819)I am heading into the weekend before we head down to Stanford for another PET scan to see if I am cancer-free. The PET scan I had early in March showed a small spot on one lymph node which the doctor did not think to be significant, but he wanted another scan to make sure. We rescheduled for 7 weeks later (April 24) and he told me not to worry about it. Then he laughed and said “I know you will worry; it’s hard not to.” So it has been over 6 weeks of waiting (Arrg, that world again!) and I have been trying to “not worry about it,” and mostly succeeding, with a couple bad nights where the worry got to me. I thought it might help me to write down a few things about how I’ve tried to avoid worrying. It’s not really profound, but hopefully it might help you too.

  1. Stay focused on God. Honestly, this month it has been hard to pray. I try to imagine myself in the heavenly throne room of God (Hebrews 4.16) and joining in the Trinity’s prayer for me (Romans 8.26). That helps a lot. I also try to focus on hearing God, whether it comes directly, through the Word, through other Christians or however God wants to deliver it to me. It is amazing, when I listen, how often God ministers to me and encourages me.
  2. Spend a lot of time reading and thinking about the words of scripture. This has been important to me for most of my life, but has been especially critical these last couple of years. I try to read something every day and work through the whole Bible over the course of each year. Along with that I try to read books by other people that are “steeped” in the Bible. It is amazing how many times words on the page have come alive and leaped into my situation to bring me God’s peace or challenge me.
  3. Spend time with Christians who encourage me and keep me doing #1 above. I wish I could do this more. So many people have come by “just at the right time” or said something to me or did something that touched a nerve or helped me in ways that went beyond what they thought or did. Interacting with others moves my focus from myself (which can get deep and dark at times) out to the wider world. I like having somebody else to pray for instead of just being focused on my own requests. Besides, having real live people right in front of you is the best way to connect.
  4. Enjoy my family. Joyce and I have been able to spend a week of vacation with the families of two of our children and we hope to go to Cincinnati to spend time with Mike’s family this summer. It is hard to worry when I am watching vintage cartoons with Leila or having a serious conversation about Pokemon. I also look forward to my Facebook chats with my 2 year old granddaughter Arete and laughing at her jokes 2-3 times a week. I also get some face time with her brother and sisters. To be able to go to San Diego and see my grandson play soccer was also a thrill. To have good relationships with my 30-something kids is also a real blessing. I could go on, but you get the idea. This whole experience has made Joyce and I closer than we have ever been. Also a blessing.
  5. Divert yourself by doing things you enjoy. I like watching sports and reading/watching science fiction. When the above things are in line, these can be a real source of blessing too. It was a fun day when my brother, sister and her husband, and my parents came over and we ate junk food and watched basketball. Not everything has to be so serious. I am blessed with family and friends that make me laugh and laugh at my jokes. As an old rabbi said, “if God gives you something to enjoy and you fail to enjoy it, that is sin.”

So that’s basically my way of coping with the temptation to worry. Don’t worry. Instead talk about it with God and with the people he has placed around you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Book of Joel Structure and Message

Joel structure chart

Message of Joel

The Day of the LORD will be a time of terrible judgment from God, but the LORD will deliver His people who repent from the heart and call on Him

Definition of the "Day of the LORD"- A time in which God decisively invades human history to punish sin, purify His people and set things right (God’s kingdom)

  • The Day of the LORD will begin with a terrible judgment
    • Joel compares the coming judgment to an unprecedented locust invasion. 1:1-20
    • Joel describes the invading army of the Day of the LORD in "locust terms." 2:1-17
    • Joel describes its Judgment as a war in which God intervenes and fights 3.1-17
  • The purpose of the prophecy is to bring people to repentance so they will be saved.
    • The proper response is to gather, mourn, fast and pray (turn to God alone). 1:13-14,19
    • Repentance must be heartfelt and appeal to God's gracious character. 2:12-14
    • Repentance must be both private (individual) and public. 2:16-17
    • Repentance is an acknowledgement of who God is and the authority He has over our lives. 2:27, 3:17
  • The judgment of the Day of the LORD will usher in the blessings of God's Kingdom
    • Sin is judged before blessing is poured out. 3.17
    • God's rule will be a time of blessing, peace, prosperity, justice and safety. 3:18-21
      • The greatest blessing of the Day of the LORD is God's presence.
    • God's people will enter the kingdom based on God's forgiveness of their sins. 3:20-21

Reading I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible, by Michael Heiser #3

Heiser i dare youThis is my last post on the read through of the Old Testament section of  I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. The great strength of this book is that Heiser tries to interpret the Old Testament in its ancient context and does not shy away from difficult to understand passages. Again I would recommend his YouTube videos which explain his take on most of these, and many other, biblical issues. I am posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the theology are in blue below. I am using the Logos version of the book.

In this section Heiser deals with some textual and author issues in the OT. For example, the LXX and MT versions of Jeremiah are quite different. This did not seem to bother the NT authors at all as they quote from both versions of the OT without concern for this. One example of an author issue is in Proverbs, where Solomon is listed as the author, but many proverbs in the book are credited to other authors. The solution (and I think it is true for most OT books) is these books had an original author of the core of the book, but additions and edits were made over the years before the books were collected into the final form of the OT. He also discusses the meaning of the word for "virgin" in Isaiah 7 and concludes that Matthew correctly translates it in the NT. Finally, he shows that the main qualification for a prophet was that they "stood in the council" of God, that is in God's throne room and were privy to at some of God's decision making process. He concludes with the point that this privilege is given to all Christians in the NT who have access to God's throne room through Jesus and hear His council through the Spirit.

The first book of Proverbs announces, “These are the proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel” (compare Prov 10:1; 25:1). By its own testimony, though, the book of Proverbs had many authors: “These are the sayings of the wise [literally, wise ones]” (Prov 24:23). This same idea—that the proverbs in the book were written by a number of sages—is reiterated in Proverbs 1:6 and 22:17...So who wrote these proverbs? Solomon—but he had good (or wise) company. 83, 85

When a prophet “stood in the council,” they had a direct encounter with God in His throne room. This motif of “standing in the council” is a repeated pattern in the Bible...Amazingly, the New Testament applies this commissioning to every believer. Every Christian is united to Christ and is commissioned to not only spread the gospel, but also to be Jesus to the world. Every believer is Christ’s ambassador, having met Christ through the gospel. As the prophets before us, we are now God’s mouthpieces. 92–94

The New Testament writers, working through divine inspiration, weren’t concerned about the issue (of multiple versions of the OT text). There isn’t a single instance that indicates concern over which manuscript was being used or quoted. This lack of concern is reflected in the ministry of Paul, who preached in synagogues all over the Mediterranean. Each synagogue had its own biblical text—its own scrolls, sometimes Septuagint and sometimes MT—and Paul used whatever was at his disposal. The same is true in his own letters. He trusted God’s provision that he was reading and preaching the very word of God. So should we. 97

Heiser concludes the Old Testament portion of the book with discussions about the ark of the covenant, authorship of prophetic books, Ezekiel's vision and the Dead Sea scrolls. He believes the ark of the covenant was probably destroyed by the Babylonian army and it will not be rebuilt. There is no need for it in the coming kingdom because God Himself will be there. The books of prophecy were group efforts in which a lead prophets words were written down by his followers and edited over time by later inspired prophets. Ezekiel's vision of God's "chariot-throne" used ancient Near Eastern imagery to remind the Jewish exiles that God was still in charge despite their defeat and exile. His plan was still in action. 

The passage plainly shows that the ark would be absent because of the exile. Jeremiah 3:16 also insists that “it shall not be made again”—wording that strongly suggests the ark would be destroyed in the impending disaster; if the ark weren’t destined for destruction, talk of rebuilding it would make no sense at all. Jeremiah 3:17 reinforces this point—the ark was God’s throne. He sat “between the cherubim” of the lid known as the “mercy seat.” But the passage speaks of a day when Jerusalem itself will be called God’s throne. We read about this in Revelation 21:2–3: “I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’ ” A recovered ark of the covenant doesn’t fit this picture—it would be a disappointment.
Jeremiah 3.16-17, 100–101

The “sons of the prophets” served God under the leadership of a main prophet, who did most of the public speaking. We have several specific examples of this: Baruch (Jer 36), Gehazi (2 Kgs 5:20), and Elisha (2 Kgs 2:5). Any of the unnamed prophets within the community could have been tasked with gathering the written words of their teacher, the main prophet, and putting them into a scroll or book. Writing down, organizing, and editing the prophet’s words could have taken place entirely after the death of a leading prophet, under the guidance of the Spirit. This process is similar to the way the Gospels were produced. We don’t know for sure how it worked, but we do know that more than one hand was responsible for what we have today. That these people served God in this way, without recognition, is a lesson to us all. 105

Ezekiel’s imagery sends a message to the Jews in exile—and to their Babylonian captors: Both assumptions are flawed. Yahweh has not been defeated, nor has He turned away from His people, Israel. He remains seated in His chariot throne at the center of His domain—the entire cosmos. When we read Ezekiel 1 through ancient eyes, we can feel the same hope today: Even in the midst of difficult circumstances, we can know that an all-powerful God is active and present in our lives. Ezekiel 1, 109

Monday, April 16, 2018

Reading Through the Acts of the Apostles #6 (16-18.22)

Larkin ActsThis post continues my reading through the book of Acts accompanied by Acts, vol. 5, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, by William J. Larkin Jr..Chapters 16-18 record Paul’s 2nd missionary journey. On this journey Paul and his mission team expand their church planting ministry, based on explicit instructions from the Holy Spirit, into Europe. I am posting from my reading in the New Testament accompanied by various commentaries on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

Paul's 2nd missionary journey begins in 15.36 and continues to 18.22. Sadly, it begins with a schism between Paul and Barnabas over allowing John Mark to rejoin their team. Barnabas takes John Mark and goes to Cyprus, while Paul adds Silas to his team. In Lystra Paul adds Timothy as well. Paul first revisits the churches he planted and delivers the verdict of the Jerusalem council. Timothy's circumcision can be seen as a response to that decision as it would maintain good relationships with their Jewish audience. Luke emphasizes in this section the Spirit's direct leading in having the team go west into Macedonia rather than east into Asia. Paul connects with people in Philippi through a gathering of Jewish women. Again Luke emphasizes the work of the Spirit in the conversion of Lydia and establishment of the 1st church in Philippi in her house, the exorcism of the girl with the python spirit and the miraculous freeing of Paul from prison. We also can be sure of the Spirit's leading and power to save and change lives as we listen to Him and speak and act boldly for Jesus.

How does God guide his church to the right place for mission? There will be “closed” as well as “open doors.” There will be guidance addressed to individuals as well as to the entire team. There will be guidance via circumstances, sometimes extraordinary, as well as through the use of reason in evaluating circumstances in the light of God’s Word. And specific guidance will come only to those who are already on the road, living out their general obedience to the Great Commission. Acts 16.1-10

The jailer and his household are the quintessential converts. They come to faith through hearing the Word, confess that faith in baptism, experience the eschatological joy of their new vertical relationship, and live out their new life of grace through physical help and hospitality in their horizontal relationships. Acts 16.11.35

This concluding scene yields some valuable principles for guiding Christians in their relations with the state. Paul’s insistence that justice be done encourages Christians to appeal to their legal rights as protection against unjust treatment by non-Christians. The fact that Paul’s request was granted gives us confidence that the state can be reasonable and correct its mistakes. Paul’s innocence of the charges establishes the pattern that Christians are not to be troublemakers; when we do suffer at the hands of state power, it should be as innocent victims of those with questionable motives. Acts 16.35-40

The second missionary journey continues in 17.1-18.22 with visits to Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and Corinth with a brief visit to Ephesus before Paul and the missionary team return to their sending church in Antioch. In each of these visits Paul continues his strategy of approaching the synagogue first and making contact through it with the "God-fearers" and then Gentiles. There is a believing response in each place followed by persecution from the Jewish leadership. Each time the persecution drives Paul from one city the gospel message spreads further through the Roman empire. Paul's message in a Jewish context is that their scriptures predict a suffering and resurrected messiah, Jesus life, character and message fit that profile, therefore Jesus is the messiah. In the Gentile context in Athens he connects with their culture, emphasizes the unity of humanity and that there is one God who does not need anything from humans but wants spiritual worship. In both contexts he then emphasizes the resurrection of Jesus as the evidence for the truth of his message and the need for allegiance to Jesus and his message. This will be the basis of God's judgment of humanity. Luke also emphasizes the legality of what they are doing (Gallio's decision), the inevitability of persecution and the need to endure it without reprisal, but also the inevitability of the success of God's kingdom.

To be a believer means having not only noble character that commits itself to the message but also a courageous soul that commits itself to the messenger—and to all who are part of the body of Christ (Acts 16:15, 33–34; 17:4, 7). Acts 17.1-15

The resurrection is, then, the linchpin for both potential ways of applying the death and resurrection of the Christ to one’s eternal destiny. It establishes both the warning of judgment and the promise of salvation blessings...we will be following Paul’s example and spend our energies wisely if we try to help moderns wrestle with the presuppositions that prevent them from even entertaining the possibility of a resurrection, rather than trying to prove its historicity within a modern scientific framework. Acts 17.16-34

Here Paul and we learn that personal desires and divine guidance so interact that all our planning will be implemented only if it is part of God’s sovereign design. This makes us at once more flexible and more confident as we face our future, and more thankful as we reflect on our past. Acts 18.1-22

Friday, April 13, 2018

Ezekiel Structure and Message

Ezekiel Chart

Message of Ezekiel

God's glorious character makes necessary the judgment of sin (Jerusalem's fall, the Babylonian captivity and the judgment of the Gentile nations) but also assures the restoration of a repentant minority of purified people in a new and glorious kingdom.

  1. The appearing and departing of God's glory determine success. When God's glory leaves you cannot win. When God's glory is with you, you cannot lose. 1-3
  2. The disciplinary judgment on God's unfaithful covenant people will be just, equitable,appropriate, complete and devastating.  4-24
  3. The Gentile nations and the spiritual forces behind them will be judged so that they will acknowledge God as their Lord. 25-29
  4. God's judgment will be a resurrection/restoration for His repentant people. 30-35
  5. The new covenant will result in a new order in which God will live with His people. 36-48