Thursday, October 19, 2017

Reading Through the Gospel of Matthew #6 (18.1-21.16)

Keener MatthewI am continuing reading through the Gospel of Matthew accompanied by Matthew, vol. 1, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, by Craig S. Keener. This section focuses on relationships within the kingdom of God – with the king and with the king’s other followers. 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 (for some reason I cannot make the page numbers come up in the quotes) of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

Matthew 18 deals with relationships among Jesus' disciples. God's kingdom is an upside-down world in which one's status is determined by how well one treats those who are considered lowly by society. Our responsibility to others includes taking the initiative to pursue those who have strayed away from the faith or acted against us. This does not mean that sin is tolerated, but it is disciplined appropriately and always with the goal of reconciliation and restoration. Jesus warns of very strong judgment on those who will not forgive. If we will not forgive it shows that we really have not experienced God's forgiveness and grace.

Jesus’ teaching on relationships here especially addresses relationships among disciples. As God’s community, they are to watch out for one another, expressing patience toward the spiritually young as well as seeking to restore the straying, gently disciplining the erring and forgiving the repentant...rank in the kingdom depends especially on how we treat those least honored among us. Matthew 18:1–14

By holding discipline and grace in their proper tension (with a greater but not imbalanced emphasis on grace), Matthew summons the church to practice tough love...We must pursue the straying sheep (Mt 18:10–14), but certain very exceptional circumstances demand expulsion of wolves in sheep’s clothing who may not wish to leave (vv. 15–20; compare 7:15–23). Matthew 18:15-20

Forgiveness must issue from the heart (18:35)—it must be sincere (compare Is 59:13). God has forgiven us; if we fail to show grace to others who have repented—guilty parties in a divorce, former gang members, adulterers, homosexuals, gossipers, crafty politicians—then this text simply promises us hellfire (compare Mt 5:7; 6:12, 14–15). Matthew 18:21-35

In 19.1-20.16 Jesus teaches the values of His kingdom and, in doing so, overturns the values of the culture of the Jews and Gentiles of his day. In societies that cultivated relationship with powerful men to gain honor, wealth and power, Jesus taught that powerless women and children should be honored. He actually made it hard for the rich young ruler to be a disciple because He wanted disciples on his terms-total dependence and commitment. This is rarely found in the rich and powerful because they have too much to lose. The bottom line is that Jesus' kingdom operates on the principle of grace. God is free to bless people in a way and amount that He chooses. Those that have sacrificed everything to follow Him will be rewarded in the coming kingdom, but the rewards will surprise those that still operate on the one-to-one merit system of this world.

Jesus’ male contemporaries valued the great and powerful; Jesus summoned status-seeking men to love their wives and children. The world valued wealth; Jesus summoned his followers to sacrifice all for the kingdom, caring for the poor (19:21; compare 6:19–24). Only those who prepared for such sacrifices could enter the coming kingdom. Matthew 19

The well-to-do young man of 19:16–22 was like many “First World” Christians today. We want God to affirm that we are religious enough without costing us anything more than we have already been offering him. We trust only tentatively the value of heaven’s kingdom and hence are prepared to sacrifice only little for it; but one who is not sufficiently convinced of the gospel’s truth to sacrifice everything (compare 13:44–46) will not prove worthy of it. Matthew 19:23-30

The image in Jesus’ parable is of unmerited grace; the owner realizes that an hour’s fraction of a day’s wage would not sustain a family. But a parable of grace also challenges those who operate only on a principle of merit, despising the showing of mercy because they feel it unfairly raises others to their own standing. Matthew 19:30-20:16

The next section (20.17-21.16) begins with Jesus' prediction of His passion, which all the disciples seem to ignore. In fact, John and James make a play for a privileged position in Jesus' kingdom. Jesus reiterates the point that there is no kingdom without a cross and no reward without service and suffering. The prayer that gets answered is not the disciples’ request for status, but that of the blind men who come to Jesus with desperation. Jesus must be taken on His own terms, not ours. With this, Jesus is ready to announce his kingdom, but He comes in peace, not as the warrior revolutionary king the people wanted. Because of their rejection he confronts the injustice in the temple in Jerusalem and then symbolically acts out judgment on it. Sadly, the children recognized who He was, but the leaders did not. 

The world’s models for status differ from those in God’s kingdom; because honor ultimately belongs to God alone, we should humble ourselves and serve, allowing God to exalt us. Rank in the day of judgment (5:19) will confound many of our expectations (18:4; 23:11): it will expose the pride of many who are respected in today’s church, while conversely, God’s revelation of the lives of many humble and unknown servants of Christ will bring him much honor. Matthew 20:20-28

Whether he gives us the strength to endure pain or (quite often) heals us in response to persistent prayer, it is not because we have mastered formulas of prayer. It is because he cares for us intimately (6:8; compare 9:36; 14:14; 15:32). Matthew 20:29-34

Even today many people call themselves Christians but have not pressed far enough in Jesus’ teachings to understand the real character of his lordship or his demands on their lives. The praises of the masses are good, but it is the disciples who truly submit to Christ’s will—those who read his kingship in light of the cross—who will carry out his purposes in the world. Matthew 21:1-16

Reading The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser #10

IHeiser am continuing to read through The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. This post begins the section, THUS SAYS THE LORD, which applies the Divine Council view through the rest of the Old Testament. With the failure of the Davidic Kingdom and exile, God adjusts His plan to restore His creation as another Eden and provides clues to what His plan is through the prophets. I have been 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 commentary are in blue below. I am using the Kindle version of the book.…

Chapter 26, Mountains and Valleys, begins part 6, THUS SAYS THE LORD, which brings the story of the spiritual battle from the judges through the exile. The spiritual battle with the seed of the nachash continues as David battles the Philistine giants and the nation succumbs to the worship of other gods. This chapter deals with the "cosmic geography" that informs this section. The "mountains" are the places are the holy ground where God is enthroned and meets His people; mainly the tabernacle and temple. Both were built to remind one of Eden and Sinai. The valleys were the unholy ground of the rebellious gods and their offspring the Rephaim/Nephilim. David is validated as king by defeating the Rephaim giant, Goliath and the Valley of the Rephaim and Valley of Hinnom (Ge-Hennom) become places of idol worship and human sacrifice. The battle was on between these two realms. 

In Israel’s theology, Eden, the tabernacle, Sinai, and the temple were equally the abode of Yahweh and his council. The Israelites who had the tabernacle and the temple were constantly reminded of the fact that they had the God of the cosmic mountain and the cosmic garden living in their midst, and if they obeyed him, Zion would become the kingdom domain of Yahweh, which would serve as the place to which he would regather the disinherited nations cast aside at Babel to himself. 228, Micah 4.1-2

Jeroboam set up cult centers (1 Kgs 12:26–33) for Baal worship in two places to mark the extent of his realm: Dan (which was in the region of Bashan, close to Mount Hermon) and Bethel (the place where Yahweh had appeared to the patriarchs). The symbolism of spiritual warfare in these decisions was palpable. No one faithful to Yahweh would have missed their intended contempt. Ten of Israel’s tribes were now under the dominion of other gods. Yahweh would destroy Israel in 722 via the Assyrian Empire. 231

The Old Testament prophets were key players in this cosmic battle and are the subject of chapter 27, Standing in the Council. Prophets were God's spokespersons who were brought into God's council to bring God's message to His people. From Adam, Enoch and Moses, through the patriarchs to Moses, and to the classical OT prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, prophets met with the visible YHWH and His Divine Council to be called into service. This was the validation of a true prophet. They were then responsible to call God's people to faithfulness and service.

Prophets were simply people who spoke for God— men and women who, at God’s direction, looked their fellow Israelites in the eye and told them they were being disloyal to the God to whom they owed their existence and who had chosen a relationship with them over everyone else on earth. Prophets told people the unvarnished truth and often paid dearly for it. 232

Jeremiah’s dramatic call by the embodied Yahweh is quite important in the book of Jeremiah, for it serves as the basis of true prophet status. What began in the days of Moses as public validation of his call and the call of those who served with him became fixated in the minds of Israelites as a litmus test to apply to any who claimed to be God’s vessel...The implications are clear: true prophets have stood and listened in Yahweh’s divine council; false prophets have not. 238-239, Isaiah 6:1, Jeremiah 23:16–18, 21–22

The point of Chapter 28, Divine Misdirection, is that God presents His plan to redeem the world and bring in His kingdom in a cryptic way in the Old Testament. Israel failed in their mission and so God knew that He must become a human himself to accomplish the plan of redeeming the world through human agency. The plan would be to send the Son to be a dying and rising Messiah. However, the plan was not presented in one piece or in one obvious abstract statement or the dark powers would have know not to crucify Jesus. It is presented in the OT in a fragmented and typological (Adam, Israel, Moses and David are all partial pictures) way. It would not be obvious until AFTER it was fulfilled. 

By God’s design, the Scripture presents the messiah in terms of a mosaic profile that can only be discerned after the pieces are assembled. Paul tells us why in 1 Corinthians 2:6–8. If the plan of God for the messiah’s mission had been clear, the powers of darkness would never have killed Jesus— they would have known that his death and resurrection were the key to reclaiming the nations forever. 241

The story of the cross is the biblical-theological catalyst to God’s plan for regaining all that was lost in Eden. It couldn’t be emblazoned across the Old Testament in transparent statements. It had to be expressed in sophisticated and cryptic ways to ensure that the powers of darkness would be misled. And it was. Even the angels didn’t know the plan (1 Pet 1: 12). 243

Medical Update: A Week After Mobilization

Tomorrow will be a week after the chemo and mobilization of stem cell production at Stanford. I will be going to my local oncologist to get a blood workup to see where we are at with the stem cells. I was told not to expect too much progress after one week. Usually the needed stem cells are generated during the 2nd week after mobilization. So, between tomorrow and October 25th, our tentatively scheduled date to return to Stanford to begin the harvest of stem cells, we will be getting daily blood counts to see when I have the stem cells to harvest. When the stem cells are there we will head to Stanford, whether they come early or late. Of course, my desire is for the stem cells to be produced early and often so we can proceed. I would ask for your prayers that the stem cell production would already have begun when we get tested tomorrow and that the harvest could proceed on, or ahead of, schedule. Thank you.

I am doing OK. I had heard that this part of the treatment would be harder than the previous. I would say that is quite accurate. I have struggled with nausea and fatigue quite a bit. I was able to eat a little more today which was good. Today was really the first day I have felt like writing anything which is a good sign too. Our internet limitations at our new house are also limiting my posts. Anyway, we are moving forward which makes the difficulties tolerable. We know many are praying for us. We are thankful for that. God Bless.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Day 4 at Stanford and We are Back in Shingle Springs

20171014_115544 (768x1024)Saturday was another interesting day. The main goal of the day was to start post-chemo medications in the morning and then go to the cancer center at noon to get that monitored, get disconnected from the portable IV that was giving me fluids, get instruction on maintenance of my new chest catheter (left) and self-administering the neupogen injections, get any more questions we had answered (previous medications, vitamins etc.), and then go home. But we did have one slight complication. Because of my edema problem, my body was retaining the fluids instead of sending them on through. This meant my body was also retaining the chemo, which is definitely not good. Between Thursday night and Saturday morning I had gained a little over 20 pounds in water weight. The usual way to deal with it is with Lasix, but because of my previous kidney problem the doctors were a little nervous about that. However, after checking my blood counts, my kidney numbers were very good and they decided to go ahead.

The good news on this was that I got a private room with my own bathroom. They gave me 60mg of Lasix (the most I ever had before was 20mg) and, believe me, I needed the private bathroom. I was in the cancer center about 4 hours and got the Lasix about 2 hours in. Within 90 minutes I had lost over 5 pounds of water weight and they told us we could go home about 4pm. The nurse told me the Lasix would wear off in an hour or two after that. I probably dropped another pound or so on the drive back home. That was also interesting since, because I am toxic for 72 hours after chemo, I could not use any public bathrooms. I’ll stop the trip description there.

20171014_101744 (1024x768)I am thankful that we are back home and I am feeling reasonably well. I am feeling a little more of the expected side effects this time, but it is really not too bad. I am thankful for the effective nausea medicine. Joyce will be poking me three times a day with a needle for the neupogen shots and I have a new chart to make sure I take all my meds (right above). I am still taking a low dose of Lasix to try to mitigate the edema which is still a problem. We’d appreciate your prayers for that. The big prayer request now is that the neupogen shots would stimulate a lot of stem cell growth and get my blood counts back up. The sooner that happens, the sooner the needed stem cells can be harvested. The second one is that I can avoid infection while my immune system is so compromised. I am pretty much house-bound except for doctor visits and have to avoid outside contact as much as possible for the next couple weeks. I appreciate your prayers and expressions of love and concern very much!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Reading Through the Gospel of Matthew #5 (13-17)

Keener MatthewI am continuing reading through the Gospel of Matthew accompanied by Matthew, vol. 1, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, by Craig S. Keener. This section focuses on the “already-not yet” aspect of the kingdom of God. 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 (for some reason I cannot make the page numbers come up in the quotes) of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

Keener sees Matthew 13 as containing 7 or 8 parables that illustrate the "present character of the kingdom until the end." In the present age the kingdom will exist in a hidden form mixed with the kingdoms of the world. Only those that persistently listen to Jesus will understand it and recognize it. They will value the kingdom above everything else in this life. Others may profess to follow Christ, but at the end of the age, God's judgment will reveal who are the true members of God's kingdom. Though God's kingdom appears to be small and insignificant now, investments that God's people make in it will pay off and will prove to be well worth it in the end.

Jesus emphasizes that only his inner circle will understand, because the parables make sense only in the context of Jesus’ ministry. Thus prospective disciples have a measure of choice: only those who press into his inner circle, those who persevere to mature discipleship, will prove to be good soil. Matthew 13:3-23

We Christians sound foolish to those outside Jesus’ circle when we speak of a final judgment and living for a future kingdom; what does that have to do with the troubles of daily life in the present? But those who have pressed into Jesus’ circle today, like those who did so two thousand years ago, know who Jesus really is. Despite the magnitude of the task before us, we dare not despise the “smallness” of our own works, for God’s entire program long ago came hidden in a small package.  Matthew 13:31-43

True, the kingdom is available to us only by grace through faith; but genuine faith means genuinely embracing and yielding to God’s reign, not simply acknowledging it and then passing it by as if it did not exist. The kingdom is a treasure, and those who really believe it will sacrifice everything else in their lives for its agendas. Professed Christians who desire worldly wealth and status but are far less consumed with the furtherance of God’s kingdom must reconsider the true state of their souls. Matthew 13:44-46

In chapter 14 Jesus faces rejection and the rejection of the prophet who was his messenger by performing powerful miracles that reflect his mission as YHWH come in the flesh and His compassion for His people. After being rejected by his own home town, Jesus hears about the execution of John the Baptist. John's death prefigures what the nation's leadership will do to Jesus. Jesus then demonstrates who He is through two powerful miracles. As the new Moses he provides bread in the wilderness and follows that by walking on the sea in the storm. In the Old Testament only YHWH walks on the sea and controls the storm. At the end of the chapter Matthew records that the people would just touch Jesus and be healed. Jesus' presence was enough to bring in the kingdom and its blessings. 

In John’s final direct portrayal in the Gospel, then, his martyrdom has sent his remaining disciples to Jesus, the Coming One. May all of us lay such a groundwork that after we are gone those who recall our service may look beyond us to the Lord we proclaimed. Matthew 14:9-12

Jesus’ disciples should have been with their master long enough to expect that what the master said he had power from God to perform. The God of the exodus, who divided waters (Ex 14:21) and provided manna from heaven (Ex 16:14–18), was at work in history again (2 Kings 2:8–14; 4:38–44; Mt 14:13–33). Matthew 14:13-21

It is important to note that while Jesus is disappointed with Peter’s inadequate faith, Peter has acted in greater faith than the other disciples—he is learning. Faith cannot be worked up by formulas or emotion, but it grows through various tests as we continue to trust our Lord and he continues to teach us. Faith grows out of a relationship with the Person of Jesus, and in no other way. Matthew 14:22-33

The religious leadership continued to oppose Jesus despite the great miracles. Jesus countered their criticism by asserting that it was based on human traditions that nullified the very scriptures that they claimed to follow. The key to purity was not outward traditions, like hand-washing, but a heart devoted to relationship with God that would result in words and actions that resembled God's character. This definition of purity would open God's covenant blessing to Gentiles and Matthew follows this section with the stories of the healing of a Canaanite woman's daughter and the miraculous feeding of 4000+ Gentiles. The Canaanite woman humbled herself to recognize that salvation came through the Jews and her great faith was rewarded. Then Jesus shows his love and compassion for Gentiles by giving them the same Moses type miracle He gave to the Jews. The blessing of Abraham promised to the nations was being fulfilled and the Gentiles "gave glory to the God of Israel."

The Pharisees frequently determined morality by extrapolating from tradition. By demanding that we extrapolate morality instead from biblical principles, Jesus takes ethics out of the domain of the academy and courtroom and places it in the daily lives of his followers. To follow Jesus’ guidelines here, church members need to know more Scripture, not more churchly rules not founded in Scripture. Matthew 15:1-20

By hailing Jesus as Son of David, she has already acknowledged him as the rightful king over a nation that had conquered her ancestors—more than many of his own people had done. Like John’s woman at the well, this Canaanite woman publicly acknowledged Jesus’ identity before the disciples who wished her to leave had done so. Now she refuses to dispute that Jesus’ mission is to Israel first and that her status is secondary to that of Israelites; nevertheless, she believes Jesus will have more than enough power left over from what Israel does not need or want. Jesus responds to such striking faith. Jesus has enough bread for Israel, but the following narrative reinforces that plenty of scraps remain over for others. Matthew reminds his community that all, both Jew and Gentile, can approach God only through faith in his Messiah. Matthew 15:21-28

Some theologians have critiqued some forms of Christianity for focusing on “meeting our needs” instead of on glorifying God. The critique is partly right and partly wrong. Jesus met the broken where they were, meeting their needs. Nevertheless, only those who pressed on to become his servant-disciples would really come to know who he was. Even his initial acts of compassion led to God’s glory; though the crowds had exercised some faith in bringing the ailing to Jesus, they still were amazed by the miracles and praised the God of Israel. Matthew 15:29-39

In chapters 16-17 Jesus begins the process of revealing Himself more clearly to His disciples. The Jewish leadership does not get to see this because their requests for heavenly signs only demonstrate their unbelief. Jesus' miracles, including the resurrection should have been enough. But even the disciples have an inadequate understanding of Jesus. So, Jesus takes them into Gentile territory to reveal Himself. Caesarea Philippi was near Paneas, "the gates of hell." It was sacred to Pan and said to be the place where the god of death ruled. He asks the disciples who they think He is and Peter gives the correct answer-the king and Son of God. Jesus responds that they will be the leaders of the new community of God that makes the same confession and will defeat death and the forces of evil. However, they still do not understand that the cross is necessary before resurrection and victory. Peter plays the part of the devil in offering Jesus the kingdom without the cross. All who follow Christ must understand that they must follow His example of giving up their own lives to truly gain eternal life.  

Jesus is crystal clear why they cannot understand him. Spiritual understanding cannot come apart from faith (v. 8)...by this point his disciples should have more faith, so he corrects them. Their real problem is that they are learning faith so slowly (compare 15:10, 16). He has serious reason for concern: these are his disciples, by definition apprentices expected to take over his earthly ministry after his departure! Yet other instances of his “little-faith” rebuke demonstrate that it represents a reproof like that of a concerned parent, not that of a harsh drill sergeant. Matthew 16:1-12

Outsiders’ recognition of Jesus as a prophet is inadequate (16:14); those who follow Jesus closely know him as the Christ, God’s Son (vv. 15–16). Herod Antipas thought Jesus was John (14:2); many Jewish people anticipated the return of Elijah and other prophets like Baruch. Viewing Jesus in such terms thus fit him into categories of thought that already existed, rather than letting the Lord redefine their categories by his identity. Christ designates Jesus as the rightful king of Israel. Matthew 16:14

Some Western Christians expect unlimited prosperity or teach that Christians will escape all tribulation, while many of our brothers and sisters elsewhere (such as in Iran or the Sudan) die for their faith. Is it not possible that some Christians today still speak for the devil? Matthew 16:22-23

The preliminary revelation of Jesus to His disciples is completed with the transfiguration in chapter 17. The picture reminds one of God's appearance on Sinai with the Shekinah, the voice from heaven and the presence of Moses and Elijah. Jesus is greater than any of the kings or prophets of the Old Covenant. Just like Moses, Jesus' followers who were left behind were lacking faith and unable to do what He had already enabled them to do. The disciples must learn faith through trial and grow. Then they would be able to follow Jesus in great power, but also in persecution, trial and martyrdom. In the meantime God would take care of their needs as demonstrated by Jesus' and Peter's poll tax being paid from the mouth of a fish. Kingdom people must live daily life by faith, sacrificially, and they will see God do remarkable things through them.

The bright cloud that enveloped or “overshadowed” them is described in language reminiscent of the Jewish doctrine of the Shekinah, God’s presence, especially recalling God’s presence in the tabernacle in the wilderness. God then repeats in a bat qôl some of the commendation oracle he uttered at Jesus’ baptism, revealing Jesus’ identity as both Messiah and suffering servant; to this he adds an allusion that indicates that Jesus is the promised “prophet like Moses” as well, for of that prophet God said, Listen to him. Matthew 17:1-8

Faith means willingness to go where God leads, not power to avert all unpleasant circumstances. We mature as the Lord leads us through hard tests for his name’s sake, forcing us to actively trust his provision and power. Matthew 17:14-23

The King’s children can pay the tax because the King gives them the money to do so. Jesus can take care of his people who walk close to him. Matthew 17:24-27

Day 3 of Mobilization at Stanford

20171013_095508 (768x1024)Today was an interesting, but good, day at Stanford. We went into the Infusion Treatment Area at 8am not sure if we could go ahead with the chemotherapy until the needed meds were approved. Our coordinating nurse was confident we’d be approved so she authorized the pre-chemo infusion of fluids and anti-nausea medicine. She was right.20171013_095313 (768x1024) The approval came in just in time and we were able to proceed with the Cytoxan chemotherapy. We were there until 4pm, but they fed me breakfast and lunch and gave me a room with a bed and private bathroom for the day. I felt blessed and thankful. The chemo this time was a much stronger dose than I got before so we were concerned about side effects, but they have not been too bad.  I am taking a lot of anti-nausea medicine, which helps. I get a lot of fluids mixed with a diuretic so I am also spending a lot of time in the bathroom. The only effect I noticed was some dizziness and a little increase in the edema on my right side. So far, so good. I know a lot of people have been praying for me through this and I appreciate it very much. A very big thank you!

20171013_155001 (768x1024)So now I am in a very immune system compromised position. I am on a low microbial diet for at least the next month. The other thing that comes with this position is a hepa mask. I have to wear it any time I am outside or in hospital hallways or waiting areas. I even need to wear it if someone cleans in a room I am in. So the last part of the day was the fitting of the mask and instructions for its correct use. As you can see from the picture we had a successful mask fitting. The only downside was that I had to shave all my facial hair to get an air-tight seal. It has been close to 20 years since I shaved my chin. We were discharged at 4pm and we walked back to our apartment. This time Joyce pushed me in a wheel chair. Tomorrow we will be back in the cancer center at noon for more fluids and for training in administering the neupogen injections. We should be back in Shingle Springs on Saturday night.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Day 2 at Smoky Stanford

20171012_091517 (768x1024)20171012_114852 (768x1024)Actually today was not as smoky as yesterday, but we are still wearing our masks when outside. The day started early with a check-in at the surgery center at 9AM. I had to do a surgical scrub in the shower last night and then again this morning before we checked in for surgery. Basically they removed my old port that was in my chest and placed a Hickman catheter in my chest. The new port is required for the transplant. Overall, the procedure took about 3 hours. It went very well. I have a little discomfort on the cut but nothing major. I was able to eat lunch (right) in the recovery room (right). IMG_20171012_163150 (768x1024)

The new port is already in use. I met with the infusion nurse this afternoon for instruction about tomorrow’s chemo session and about how to take care of the new port. Then I got my portable hydration bag. After some instruction on its use I was hooked up. The bag looks like a small suitcase on wheels. It provides me with constant hydration when I am not in the hospital. I am back in the apartment and hooked up to the bag right now. My port will be connected to the bag for the next 48 hours. I’ll be getting hydrated while I sleep. Right now we are still waiting for approval for my neupogen shots which will build up my new stem cells and move them into my blood stream. Tomorrow’s chemo can not proceed without insurance approval for the neupogen. We think we will get it in time tomorrow morning’s chemo, but we are praying that it will not delay this.

20171011_192059 (768x1024)20171011_192236 (768x1024)We did have a little fun last night. Since that was our last opportunity to eat out at a restaurant for at least a month, because of my soon to be very compromised immune system, we treated ourselves to dinner at Jeff’s Hamburgers in Menlo Park. Jeff’s is a 50’s themed burger joint. I got an old style chocolate shake and Joyce got a root beer float. My bacon cheeseburger and onion rings were pretty good too.

Reading The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser #9

HeiserI am continuing to read through The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. This post covers the section, Conquest and Failure, which discusses the story of the conquest of Canaan in Joshua and Judges. It also gives a possible legitimate reason for God’s institution of herem, total destruction, of some of the Canaanites. I have been 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 commentary are in blue below. I am using the Kindle version of the book.…

Part 5, Conquest and Failure, shows how the Divine Council view of the OT illuminates the story of the conquest. Chapter 23, Giant Problems, makes the point that the main enemy faced by Joshua and the Israelites in Canaan were the Nephilim, the "giants" who were the offspring of the demonic interaction with human women as in Genesis 6.1-4. The text clearly implies a supernatural origin for these Nephilim whether the interaction was actually sexual or metaphorical. The main purpose of the conquest would have been to eliminate these demonic giants (Numbers 13.32-33).

Since the Nephilim were part of Israel’s supernatural worldview and their descendants turn out to be Israel’s primary obstacle for conquering the promised land, the conquest itself must also be understood in supernatural terms. 185

Either the giant clans are the result of literal cohabitation, or the sexual language is merely a vehicle to communicate the idea that, as Yahweh was responsible for the Israelites’ existence, so the giant clans existed because of some sort of supernatural intervention of rival gods. 188

In Chapter 24, The Place of the Serpent, Heiser connects the Amorites back to the nachash in Eden, the demonic cohabitation with human women in Genesis 6.1-4, and forward to the Babylonian god, Marduk. The point of the story of Israel's battle with the Amorite kings, Sihon and Og, was that the battle was, as in Egypt, between YHWH and these other gods and between YHWH's son, Israel, and the offspring of the demonic gods, the Rephaim/Nephilim.  

For an Israelite, all this meant that the native population of Canaan had a supernaturally sinister point of origin. This wouldn’t be just a battle for land. It was a battle between Yahweh and the other gods— gods who had raised up competing human bloodlines that were opposed to Yahweh’s plan and people. Amos 2.9-10, 197

Those who put the finishing touches on the Old Testament during the exile in Babylon were connecting Marduk and Og in some way. The most transparent path is in fact giant stature. Og is said to have been the last of the Rephaim—a term connected to the giant Anakim and other ancient giant clans in the Transjordan (Deut 2:11, 20). Marduk, like other deities in antiquity, was portrayed as superhuman in size. However, the real matrix of ideas in the mind of the biblical author may be derived from wordplay based on Babylonian mythology. 199, Deut 3.1-11

Chapter 25, Holy War, closes the section on the conquest of Canaan by Moses and Joshua and explains the concept of cherem, "devotion to destruction." Heiser's point is that not all of Canaan was "devoted to destruction." Only the Nephilim were devoted to destruction. The point was to remove the demonic offspring and so whole populations needed to be removed. Other people groups were conquered for Israel to take the land, but whole populations were not destroyed. The Israelites failed to remove all the Anakim leaving some among the Philistines for David and his men to remove later. Cherem is a very difficult concept for moderns to accept because we do not have a supernatural view of the world. This does seem to be the view of the ancient writers however, and we need to read and interpret the Bible with that in mind.

In the view of the biblical writers, Israel is at war with enemies spawned by rival divine beings. The Nephilim bloodlines were not like the peoples of the disinherited nations. Genesis 10 clearly casts the human inhabitants of those nations as owing their existence to Yahweh, as they descended from Noah’s sons and, therefore, Noah— all the way back to Adam, Yahweh’s first human son. The Nephilim bloodlines had a different pedigree. They were produced by other divine beings. They did not belong to Yahweh, and he therefore had no interest in claiming them. Coexistence was not possible with the spawn of other gods. 203

The picture that emerges from the biblical text and archaeology is that vestiges of the Nephilim bloodline were scattered throughout Canaan among a number of other people groups. The aim of the conquest was to drive out all the inhabitants and eliminate these bloodlines in the process. Heiser, 213

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Smoky Stanford

20171011_134105 (768x1024)We drove down to Stanford this morning and arrived at the Cancer Center about 90 minutes before our appointments began. Again it was an easy trip with reasonable traffic. We only experienced the stop-and-go traffic right at the Bay Bridge. That got us there in time to have a leisurely sandwich at the bistro in the center. Our first appointment was at the Infusion Treatment Area where they drained my body of fluids to be tested – mostly blood. In the picture, I inspect the vials with the nurse to make sure the labels are right.. I know I am in for a lot more blood to be drained over the next few months. My next stop was in radiology for a chest x-ray. I had a good time with the technician talking 49er football. I appreciated that the appointments all ran ahead of time and I didn’t have to sit too long in the waiting room.

20171011_160603 (768x1024)Then we headed over to the clinic area for a meeting with our transplant doctor and coordinating nurse. We went through the whole transplant process again, which I found to be very helpful. The nurse clarified several issues we had and the doctor patiently explained the bone marrow biopsy report to me. The bottom line is that we are good for the next steps in the process. After the doctor left I got an EKG (right) and then I was done for the day. Tomorrow we will be up early to have the two-way chest catheter inserted into my chest and then they will start pumping fluids into me.

20171011_161417 (768x1024)20171011_161758 (768x1024)The entire bay area has been very smoky because of the wildfires in the area. We had to wear masks while we were outside in the parking lot and as we drove to our apartment. Stanford has provided us with a nice one-bedroom apartment at a greatly reduced rate for our stay this time. We are enjoying it as we relax tonight. I’d appreciate your prayers for my minor surgical procedure tomorrow and for continued progress through this process.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Reading The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser #8

HeiserI am continuing to read through The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. This post concludes the section, Yahweh and His Portion, in which God visibly intervenes to create the nation of Israel as His special possession and places them in covenant to Himself as part of His plan to restore His rule on earth through His human imagers.  I have been 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 commentary are in blue below. I am using the Kindle version of the book.…

Chapter 19, Who Is like Yahweh?, shows that this view makes sense of the exodus event being described as war between the gods of Egypt and their son, Pharaoh, and YHWH and His son, Israel. YHWH must show all the nations He is unique and the only Creator. The song of Moses (Exo. 15) portrays the deliverance of Egypt in terms of God defeating the sea monster of chaos (see also Psalm 74) during creation. The point is that, though there are other entities who rule these other nations, God is unique as Creator and they are nothing more than beings who were created to serve Him and are subject to His judgment.

The reason for Israel’s circumstances was that it wasn’t sufficient that only Israel knew Yahweh was Most High among all gods, and that Israel was his portion. The other nations had to know that as well. Scripture makes it clear that Israel’s deliverance had that effect. Israel was in Egypt precisely so that Yahweh could deliver them— thereby conveying this theological message. 150

As creator, Yahweh had made the world habitable for all humanity. But the nations had been forsaken. Now the same God once again was described as subduing the forces of chaos to deliver his portion, Israel, for whom he had prepared a place of habitation— the promised land. 154

In chapter 20, Retooling the Template, Heiser makes the point that, because the original Divine Council rebelled, God will replace them with a loyal council. The heavenly imagers would be God's witness to creation and to the establishment of His covenants. This process begins with Adam and continues with Abraham and Israel. As these groups fail, God brings in Messiah who produces "children of God" from all the nations that will rule creation with Him. This picture of the divine council as covenant witness and sharing rule with God in God's throne room is seen in Eden, Mount Sinai (Gen. 24) and in final judgment prophecies like Daniel 7.9-10 and Revelation 4.

As Abraham, Yahweh’s portion (Deut 32: 9), had been the new Adam, so Israel, the collective progeny of Abraham, was also the new Adam. Adam was Yahweh’s son. Israel was Yahweh’s son...The ultimate future king, the messiah, since he will sit on the seat of David, must be Yahweh’s son as well. And since we, glorified believers, will sit on that throne too, sharing that rule (Rev 3: 21), we are God’s sons, his children. Every believer is also Abraham’s offspring by faith (Gal 3: 26– 29). We are the current and eschatological sons of God. 156

God is starting his intended Edenic rule with Israel. Israel will have a single earthly leader (eventually the messianic king, the ultimate offspring of Eve) and a council of seventy. The number telegraphs that, as the kingdom of God is re-established on earth, the seventy nations will be reclaimed, a process that began with the ministry of Jesus and will continue to the end of days. 157

Chapter 21, God’s Law, God’s Council, expands on the presence of the Divine Council on Mount Sinai. The Divine Council functioned on Sinai as the witnesses of the covenant as commemorated with the stone tablets of the 10 Commandments being placed in the "Ark of Testimony." Heiser sees the tablets being written by the visible YHWH, the very "finger of God." Exodus 24 then records the covenant ratification ceremony in which Moses, Aaron and the 70 elders of Israel eat a covenant meal together.  

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the New Testament speaks of angelic mediation for the law— it was written by the Angel who is God in the presence of council members (“ the holy ones”) and then dispensed to Israel through Moses. 167

Salvation in the Old Testament meant love for Yahweh alone. One had to believe that Yahweh was the God of all gods, trusting that this Most High God had chosen covenant relationship with Israel to the detriment of all other nations. The law was how one demonstrated that love— that loyalty. Salvation was not merited. Yahweh alone had initiated the relationship. Yahweh’s choice and covenant promise had to be believed. An Israelite’s believing loyalty was shown by faithfulness to the law. 169-170

Chapter 22, Realm Distinction, closes out part 4 in which, after YHWH consigns the nations to "lesser gods" (created supernatural beings who would rebel against God), He raises up Israel to be his imagers with whom He would connect to the rest of His creation. God still moved forward with His plan to expand Eden over the whole earth. God defeats the rebellious gods of Egypt, rescues His son Israel and begins the process of creating "sacred space" at Sinai. The tabernacle was to be a miniature Eden where the holy God met with His profane earthly people. The purity rituals emphasized this difference between God and His people, but also provided the means that the profane could become holy and come into God's presence. Israel was to be the means of connection between God and the rest of creation. All they had to do was trust Him alone and be loyal to Him as their only God.

Yahweh was not only the source of Israel’s life— he was life. Yahweh was complete in his perfections. Yahweh was not of earth, a place where there is death, disease, and imperfection. His realm is supernatural; ours is terrestrial. The space he occupies is sacred and made otherworldly by his presence. The space we occupy is “profane” or ordinary. Yahweh is the antithesis of ordinary. Humans must be invited and purified to occupy the same space. 172

As the divine abode, the tabernacle was also analogous to Eden. Like Eden, the tabernacle was cosmic in conception, the place where heaven and earth met, a veritable microcosm of the Edenic creation where God first dwelt on earth. 174

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Transplant Class at Stanford

20171003_155815 (1024x768)After driving up from San Diego back to Shingle Springs on Monday, we headed back to Stanford on Tuesday. We were very blessed that Joyce’s friend Kathleen volunteered to drive us down to Stanford and sit in on the classes with us as an “assistant care-giver.” Joyce has known Kathleen since they were in high school and college together. I know Joyce appreciated the break from driving after 20 hours behind the wheel over the weekend. The classes consisted of two two-hour sessions. In the first one we went over the consent forms, and all the legal, medical and procedural issues they entail, with a coordinating nurse. Again we received a lot of information about the procedure and good practical advice. We attended this with three other patients and their caregivers who are preparing for the same procedure as we are. It was great to compare notes with them. There was one couple from Folsom who are about a week ahead of us and the other two were still waiting to be scheduled. The next session was over in the cancer center. There were about 25 people in that one. Another nurse went over the whole procedure again. It was helpful to get the perspective of a nurse who works on the floor where I will spend most of my hospital time.

So we are ready to begin the procedure. Tuesday we will head down to Stanford again. We have an apartment provided for the 4 nights we’ll be there. Wednesday they will drain more blood from me, take an X-ray and the doctor will meet with me. Thursday morning a new transplant catheter will be placed in my chest, the old port will be removed and they will start me on 2 days of continuous IV fluids that afternoon. The first chemo session will begin Friday and I begin very stringent infection precautions. I get lots more fluids until Saturday. Saturday afternoon I get to go home, where I’ll be taking neupogen and antibiotics for a couple weeks. The purpose of all this is to get my body to produce new stem cells which will get out into my blood for harvesting. Hopefully the stem cell harvest will happen around October 25-30. Of course the main prayer request is that we get good stem cells to harvest out of this. I am also praying that, with all the fluids I’ll be getting, we can keep the edema under control. We are moving into the main battle with the cancer this coming week and I need your prayers because “the battle is the LORD’s.”

Reading Through the Gospel of Matthew #4 (11-12)

I aKeener Matthewm continuing reading through the Gospel of Matthew accompanied by Matthew, vol. 1, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, by Craig S. Keener. I have enjoyed the practical and applicational focus of the commentary I would recommend it for sermon or Bible study preparation. 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 (for some reason I cannot make the page numbers come up in the quotes) of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

Chapter 11 begins with Jesus' response to a delegation from John the Baptist asking if he really is the Messiah. Jesus responds graciously, understanding that John is in prison and Jesus is not doing exactly what John expected, with a quote from Isaiah 35 that would assure John that He is the promised one. He then calls John the greatest in God's kingdom because he was the one who introduced God's greatest revelation, Jesus, and John had to deal with those who opposed the kingdom with violence. We carry an even fuller message of Jesus than John did and thus, should be better able to deal with opposition. The opposition often comes from those who refuse God's message no matter how it is packaged. They listen only to come up with arguments against what God is saying. Jesus ministers to the one who recognizes his need, not the arrogant person, often religious, who thinks they have it all figured out. Jesus is a LORD, but He is a humble one who wants to serve His people. We benefit as we humbly receive and then humbly serve as He does. 

Matthew recorded John’s struggle with doubt, not to condemn John, but to encourage subsequent disciples whose faith would be tested by hardships. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me could be translated “How happy will be the one who does not stumble on my account.” In view of its serious use in the Gospel tradition the language of “stumbling” here suggests that one’s response to Jesus determines one’s place at the final judgment. Matthew 11:1-6

God has different kinds of servants for different missions, but we need all the kinds of servants God sends (Mt 11:18–19). Neither Jesus nor John accumulated earthly resources for earthly pleasure; but Jesus accepted invitations to upscale banquets, while John was a wilderness prophet. Jesus came partly as God’s ambassador to initiate relations with sinners (9:10–13), whereas John primarily took the role of biblical prophets in times of persecution (3:7); Jesus was a missionary within the culture, John a critic from outside it. Both models are biblical but suit different situations. When we can influence a culture from within without compromise, we should do so; when the culture becomes so hostile to our Master that we must stand as witnesses outside it, let us do so without regret. Matthew 11:16-19

They will find Jesus’ yoke light because he is a Master who will care for them (Mt 11:29). Jesus’ yoke is not lighter because he demands less (5:20), but because he bears more of the load with us (23:4). In contrast to unconcerned religious teachers who prided themselves on their own position, like some religious leaders today (23:4–7, 29), Jesus was going to lay down his life for the sheep (20:25–28).  Matthew 11:28-30

Matthew 12 deals with Jesus' conflict with the Pharisees over His teaching and authority. The Pharisees were annoyed that Jesus ignored their regulations. Jesus' point was that the heart attitude toward God's Word was more important than the just keeping the regulations. Even the regulations themselves taught that there were exceptions when human need or ministry necessitated. The key was to make allegiance to God more important than anything, including one's own family. The Pharisees then accused Jesus of drawing His authority to do miracles from the demonic side. Jesus responded that it was ridiculous for Satan to fight Satan and urged them to consider that the miracles were a sign that the kingdom was present. He warned them that they were subject to serious consequences for this willful rejection. However, the hard-hearted Pharisees ignored what the Spirit was doing through Jesus and refused to believe. Jesus' "family" is those who recognize His authority and trust Him for their lives without regard for ethnicity or human family connections.

The principles of God’s Word actually demand far more from us than extrapolated rules: they demand the absolute integrity of our hearts before God, summoning us to devote all our actions and thoughts to his glory (5:17–48). Perhaps some Christians take refuge primarily in legal debates because we lack the courage to pursue a genuine relationship with the Father through faith in Jesus Christ. Craig S. Keener, Matthew, 12

Not merely human life but human need in general takes precedence over regulations. Kindness in response to others’ genuine need—such as disciples’ hunger—precedes rules whose purpose is to please the God who values such kindness more highly. Keener, Matthew 12:1-14

Thus Jesus demonstrated that he preferred not to fight others when it was not necessary (Mt 12:19–20; compare 10:23; Gen 26:14–22). His opponents thought him a youthful upstart, but Jesus knew his identity and his destiny (Mt 12:21). When we recognize our identity and destiny as his followers, we may also be less concerned with what the misinformed think of us. Keener, Matthew 12:15-21

Jesus followed the practice he had demanded of others (8:21–22; 10:37): the kingdom of God comes first. Obedience to God’s will (7:21; 21:31; 26:42) is what makes one Jesus’ true brother, sister or mother (25:40; 28:10). When we acknowledge God as our Father, his family becomes our family, and our allegiance to him as Father must come before all earthly allegiances. Keener, Matthew 12:46-50

Friday, October 06, 2017

Milo’s Soccer Game

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The highlight of the weekend was getting to see my grandson play soccer. He has been playing for three years and I had never been able to see him play. He played a good game. His team lost 3-2 but he had a very nice goal. He stole a goalie kick, blew by the defense and put the ball in the lower left corner of the goal. It was also fun to see his dad coaching the team. It was a good morning.

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Matt did a good job coaching up the kids.

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Joyce got in some baby time in between taking action pictures during the game

Trip to San Diego

20171001_141611 (1024x768)The day after arr20171003_011007(0) (576x1024)iving back from Stanford we headed down to San Diego to see our son Matt and family. It was a long drive, especially since we got to experience drive time traffic through Los Angeles. We left Shingle Springs at 11.30 AM and arrived in San Diego at 9.00 PM. The grandkids tried to wait up for us but only Milo made it. But they were all very happy to see us on Saturday morning. We had a great time playing with the grandkids and had some good conversation with Matt and Kristin. I’ll post later on the soccer game. Here are a few pictures.

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Grandma and Ahni got in a formal tea party

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We got in some good grandparenting time with Mika, Milo and Ahni



Thursday, October 05, 2017

Testing at Stanford

20170928_103905 (768x1024)It has been a while since I have posted anything. We have been busy with travel for this whole past week. A lot has been happening, and I have a few days to stay home now, so expect a lot of posts over the next 3-4 days. Our travels began last Tuesday the 26th with a trip to Stanford. This was really the beginning of the transplant process. We went down Tuesday evening because I had an early morning PET scan on Wednesday. It was actually the most pleasant drive that we have had in this process. There was very little traffic and we made the trip in a little over two hours. We had some time to relax at the Budget Inn where we stayed and had a nice Mexican dinner. We also had a nice Facebook video chat with Mike, Samantha and the kids and were able to wish Titus and Arie a Happy Birthday.

20170928_075823 (768x1024)The first test was the PET scan on Wednesday morning. This was a critical test because we needed scan to be clear of lymphoma so that the transplant process could continue. If there were still lymphoma lesions in my body I would need to have another session of immuno-chemotherapy which would delay the process at least one month. The scan went well and we were told the next day that it was clear. Thus, the process could continue as scheduled. I know many people were praying for that and we appreciate it very much.

The tests began again on Wednesday morning. The first test was an echocardiogram (left)which would determine if my heart was healthy enough for the transplant process. 20170928_102357 (768x1024)I had one of these back in March. My heart was healthy then and the doctor determined that my heart was a go for this next procedure as well. We walked down the hall in the hospital for the second test- the pulmonary exam. This was basically a test to see if my lungs would hold up through the transplant process. I had to blow into a tube which measured my lung power. (right)20170928_111347 (768x1024) I passed that one as well. For those of you who have thought I was a bit of a blowhard, your opinion is confirmed. Again we are thankful that my body has come through chemo very well so far.

The final test was the bone marrow biopsy. We headed over to the cancer center for that one. This was the one I was not looking forward to, but it went quicker and less painfully than I anticipated. The bottom line on all the testing was that the stem cell transplant can proceed. We were able to get back to Shingle Springs before the traffic got heavy which was an extra blessing. Thank you for praying. So far so good.

Reading The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser #7

HeiserI am continuing to read through The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. While the elements of this book are not entirely new, I don’t think anyone has put it together into a biblical theology quite like this book does. It has certainly helped me put together some passages that have caused me some difficulty in the past.  I have been 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 commentary are in blue below. I am using the Kindle version of the book.…

Chapter 16, Abraham’s Word, picks up the story in Genesis 12 as God restarts His kingdom program through Abraham and his descendants. Heiser's main point in this chapter is that the "word of God" came to Abraham (and other Old Testament people) in a personal, visual and embodied form. That is God comes to Abraham in a way that "helps Abraham process him as a person." (127) The normal way that YHWH's word came to the patriarchs and prophets was in a visual, human, embodied form. In John 8 Jesus claims that appearance to Abraham  was Him. The implication here would be that, even in the Old Testament, there were "whispers" of a Godhead, that would lead to the Christian Trinitarian view of God.

Since the Word is clearly equated with and identified as Yahweh in Genesis 12 and 15, when the New Testament has Jesus saying “that was me,” he is claiming to be the Word of the Old Testament, who was the visible Yahweh. John 8.56-58, 130 
 
How is it that, if this Word was Yahweh, and the Word was visible and embodied, Jews of Jesus’ day could tolerate the notion that Jesus was Yahweh incarnate on earth— while Yahweh was still in heaven? After all, Jesus prayed to the Father and spoke of the Father, Yahweh of Israel, in the third person. How could a Jew accommodate this “binitarian” idea— that, essentially, there were two Yahwehs, one invisible and in heaven, the other on earth in visible form? Heiser, 132-133

Chapter 17, Yahweh Visible and Invisible, makes the point that the Old Testament teaches that there are two YHWH's; one invisible and one visible. The patriarchal stories do this by progressively fusing YHWH with the angel of YHWH. The angel of YHWH speaks to Abraham of God in the 3rd person and as God in the 1st person (Gen. 22). Jacob sees God at Bethel (28.13-19) and then the angel of the LORD explicitly identifies himself as the God of Bethel (31.11-13) and Jacob "wrestles" with a bodily elohim in the next chapter. Later Jacob (Gen. 48.15-16) and Hosea (Hos. 12.3-4) identify this angel as YHWH Himself. Heiser's conclusion: "The God of Israel is God, but in more than one person." (140)

Long before Jesus and the New Testament, careful readers of the Old Testament would not have been troubled by the notion of, essentially, two Yahwehs— one invisible and in heaven, the other manifest on earth in a variety of visible forms, including that of a man. In some instances the two Yahweh figures are found together in the same scene. 134

The patriarchal stories create an astonishing picture for us. If there is only one God— one Yahweh— then why does the writer fuse Yahweh and the angel in some passages, but have the angel refer to God in the third person in others? Why blur the distinction between Yahweh and this angel and yet keep them distinct? 140

In Chapter 18, What’s in a Name?, Heiser gives more examples of the visible and invisible YHWH from the Old Testament. The text continues to blur the distinctions between YHWH and the angel of YHWH but describes them as two personalities in the stories of the burning bush, the pillar of fire and cloud in the exodus, the concept of the "Name" of YHWH, and when the "commander of God's Army" meets with Joshua. The conversation of YHWH with Gideon is especially remarkable because both the invisible and visible YHWHs are in the scene at the same time and then the Angel of the LORD leaves and YHWH continues to talk with Gideon. The point is that, even in the OT, there is more than a hint of the Godhead with One essence but plural personalities. 

When God told Moses that his name was in this angel, he was saying that he was in this angel— his very presence or essence. The I AM of the burning bush would accompany Moses and the Israelites to the promised land and fight for them. Only he could defeat the gods of the nations and the descendants of the Nephilim whom Moses and Joshua would find there. Exodus 23.20-22, 143

There are two Yahweh figures in Old Testament thinking— one invisible, the other visible and human in form. Judaism before the first century, the time of Jesus, knew this teaching. That’s why ancient Jewish theology once embraced two Yahweh figures (the “two powers”). But once this teaching came to involve the risen Jesus of Nazareth, Judaism could no longer tolerate it. Judges 6.11-24, 148