Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Reading The Unseen Realm, by Michael Heiser #13


I am continuing to read through The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. This post continues the discussion of the New Testament from the Divine Council point of view and focuses in what Jesus accomplished in His 1st coming to defeat Satan, redeem humanity and begin the reclamation of the nations. 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 34, Infiltration, is about the reclamation of the nations begun in Acts 2. The coming of the Spirit was an undoing of Babel in which the new believers would take the message of Jesus to the nations that had been disinherited by YHWH at Babel and bring them back into His kingdom. There are several allusions to Babel in Acts 2. The nations in Acts 2 are listed in an East-West order which would become the strategy for evangelism in Acts. Paul's desire to take the gospel to Spain would be the end goal of reclaiming the farthest west nation, Tarshish, for God. The Gospel would be God's means of reclaiming the world.

The wind and fire in Acts 2 signified to readers informed by divine council scenes that the gathered followers of Jesus were being commissioned by divine encounter. They were being chosen to preach the good news of Jesus’ work. The fire connects them to the throne room. The tongues are emblematic of their speaking ministry. 297

Paul was convinced that his life’s mission as apostle to the Gentiles— the disinherited nations— would only be finished when he got to Spain. As incredible as it sounds, Paul was conscious that his mission for Jesus actually involved spreading the gospel to the westernmost part of the known world— Tarshish— so that the disinheritance at Babel would be reversed. 303, Romans 11.25-27

Chapter 35 Sons of God, Seed of Abraham, describes the identity and mission of those who belong to Christ. We are God's family and will rule with Him as His Divine Council. Jesus accomplished God's plan and brings the disinherited Gentiles back into the family of Abraham and back into the family of God. In a way we work in the "family business" of managing God's creation.

In Christ, believers are “the sons of God.” The language of inheritance is crystal clear. It derives from and advances the Old Testament idea that humans were meant to be in the family of God all along...The believer’s destiny is to become what Adam and Eve originally were: immortal, glorified imagers of God, living in God’s presence as his children. 308, Galatians 3:6–9, 26–29

Once the nations are restored to Yahweh through the gospel, believers will displace the divine beings who presently dominate the nations and rule in their place as Yahweh’s children and corulers. 311

In Chapter 36, Lower Than the Elohim, Heiser makes the point that our right to rule is based on our connection to Jesus. Jesus, the 2nd person of the Trinity, became human to fulfill God's plan for humans, which was for us to become perfect imagers of the Creator as we rule His creation. We stand in God's council and we will share the Divine nature (theosis), because we are beside our brother Jesus. Our privileged position-we will judge the angels-is based on what Jesus has done for us.

Hebrews is clear— earth wasn’t created to be subject to the members of God’s divine family, but to his human family. The council was with God in Eden, and so heaven and earth were meant to be transposed, but the task of administrating God’s good world was ours. This despite the fact that we were lesser beings compared to God’s divine family-council. 317

The message of “theosis” is that, in Christ, we are being transformed into his likeness— the perfect imager of God. The Spirit— who, as we saw earlier in our study, “is but isn’t” Jesus— conforms us to Jesus’ own image. Scripture is clear that immortality as a divinized human is the destiny of the believer, and that our present lives in Christ are a process of becoming what we are:...sharers of the divine nature. 320, 2 Peter 1.2-4, 1 John 3.2, 1 Corinthians 15.44-54

Lunch With Nino

20171029_124320 (1024x768)

20171029_124600 (768x1024)After the apheresis, harvest of stem cells, we decided to take Saturday off and stay at the Stanford apartment so we could rest and catch up on the sleep we lost from the 3am drive the day before. It worked out well for us, because PIU CFO, Nino Pate, was in San Francisco, on his way back to Guam from the TRACS conference in Orlando. We met at a café right across Highway 101 from the SF airport. FB_IMG_1509321845086It was great to see Nino. We spent almost two hours talking about our families, how things are going at PIU and what has been going on in our lives. Nino and I had offices right across the hall from each other and I really miss being able to talk with him regularly. I also miss Gwen poking her head into the doorway of my office to check out what I am doing. We were very happy to be able to get some news about the school and to hear how the PIU family is doing. We pray for PIU and the people there every day and now we can pray more knowledgeably. We were also sad because seeing Nino reminded us how much we miss our life, ministry and relationships at PIU and our other friends on Guam. It was really a blessed time and thank you to Nino for making the effort to come and see us.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Apheresis at Stanford

20171026_164742 (768x1024)We got the word from Stanford on Thursday afternoon to be there early the next morning. The drive from Shingle Springs to Stanford is about 3 hours, up to about 5 hours, if the Bay Area traffic is heavy. Both of us felt like we were a little too tired to make the trip in the evening, 20171025_081129 (768x1024)so we decided to drive down at 3.30 am on Friday morning for our 7am appointment. We had to get there an hour before the appointment so Joyce could give me the required neupogen shot an hour before the appointment. I was a little worried because Joyce doesn’t always do so well in the early morning hours, but she came through this time like an expert chauffeur and nurse. We actually made the drive in about 2 1/2 hours. She gave me the shot in the van and we slept about 45 minutes, on my futon in  the back of the van, in the parking garage at Stanford hospital. We did have to scramble Thursday afternoon to get ready for the trip and were able to do so with some help from my sister (left) and my mom. We also had time to check out Leila’s loose teeth (right).

20171027_105139 (768x1024)We arrived at the apheresis center at 7am for the blood test to make sure I had enough stem cells to proceed. That took about 30 minutes and they turned us loose while we waited for the results. We had a little breakfast at the hospital café, surfed the internet on our phones 20171027_142134 (768x1024)and read the newspaper while we waited. At 10am we got the word to come back because my blood had passed the test. In fact, my stem cell count was very high which promised a good result. So we went right in and got ready to go. First, they hooked me up to the machine. There accessed both tubes on my chest catheter, one to put blood in and one to take it out. The machine was really amazing. My blood would go out to a centrifuge, where it was spun to separate out the stem cells. The stem cells were then collected in a bag (right). The blood then went into a warming tube and was returned to my body. I thought my stem cells looked a little like cream of tomato soup. The process took about 4 1/2 hours and we were done at 3.30pm.

20171027_103328 (768x1024)We then went to our apartment at Stanford and they told us the lab would call with the result. If they got enough stem cells we would be able to go home as soon as we wanted to. Otherwise, we would come back Saturday to collect more cells. That process could extend for up to four days until they got enough stem cells. About 5pm they called us and said that they had collected twice as many stem cells as they needed and we were free to go home. I could also put away the mask until I returned to Stanford for the transplant (except for when I am in hospitals or doctor’s offices) and I was no longer on the anti-microbial diet. They told us to go out and enjoy the evening, so we went to Jack in the Box for celebration tacos. I know a lot of you were praying for my body to generate a lot of stem cells and those prayers were answered with much more than I needed.  We will be resting for the next couple weeks and are getting ourselves ready for what will be the hardest part: the transplant process, which will begin November 9th in the Stanford hospital. After that we anticipate being there in the hospital until at least November 30th. Thank you for praying. We appreciate your prayers as we approach what we hope will be the beginning of the end of cancer treatment and the last big step to being “cancer-free.”

Reading The Unseen Realm, by Michael Heiser #12

HeiserI am continuing to read through The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. This post begins discussion of the New Testament from the Divine Council point of view and contains two sections; The Kingdom Already and The Kingdom Not Yet. 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 31, Who Will Go for Us?, opens section 7, The Kingdom Already, which begins the New Testament section of the book. Heiser's point here is that the visible YHWH has now been incarnated as a human being to complete God's plan to reclaim His creation. He focuses on two points made in the Gospels. One is that Jesus reveals the Name of God much as the Angel of YHWH did in the OT and that the Divine Council is in session. John the Baptist takes the role of Isaiah (Isaiah 40.1 ff) as the spokesman for the Council. Jesus is the Divine Davidic king who will lead all creation into a "new exodus."

Revealing God’s name to them meant showing them who God was and what he was like. He did that by living among them as a man. Jesus was God among them. He was the incarnation of God’s essence (Heb 1:3)...When Jesus says he has “kept them in your name,” he means he has kept those followers the Father gave to him by means of God’s own power and presence—the Name, now incarnated in Jesus. 269

Mark wants readers to see that a new exodus event is happening. The kingdom of God is back, and this time it will not fail because it’s being led by the visible Yahweh, now incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth...When God refers to Jesus as his “beloved” he is affirming the kingship of Jesus— his legitimate status as the heir to David’s throne. Heiser, Mark 1.11, 274

In Chapter 32, Preeminent Domain, Jesus begins the battle to take back the earth with two basic means: calling disciples and casting out demons. The sending out of the 70 to do this is a clear reference to the 70 nations, given over after Babel, that he intends to retake. This puts the evil powers on notice as to who he is. He chooses the occultic center of Mount Hermon to announce his identity in Peter's confession and in the Transfiguration. The evil powers will act in response which is exactly what Jesus expects them to do.

The kingdom of God is the aggressor. Jesus begins at ground zero in the cosmic geography of both testaments to announce the great reversal. It is the gates of hell that are under assault— and they will not hold up against the Church. Hell will one day be Satan’s tomb. 285

Jesus picks Mount Hermon to reveal to Peter, James, and John exactly who he is— the embodied glory-essence of God, the divine Name made visible by incarnation. The meaning is just as transparent: I’m putting the hostile powers of the unseen world on notice. I’ve come to earth to take back what is mine. The kingdom of God is at hand. 286

Chapter 33, A Beneficial Death, deals with what happened at the crucifixion. Heiser notes Matthew's connection of Psalm 22 to the events of the crucifixion and focuses on the reference in the Psalm, "surrounded by the bulls of Bashan." He sees this as a reference to the battle that was going on between Jesus and the forces of evil. Jesus wins this battle and one of the benefits of his victory is the giving of the Holy Spirit and his gifts. Thus, believers experience the benefits of Jesus' victory over the evil powers as they serve Him.

The implication is that Jesus, at the moment of agony and death, was surrounded by the “bulls of Bashan”— demonic elohim who had been the foes of Yahweh and his children for millennia. 291, Psalm 22.12, 68.18

First, not only did the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross mean the fall of Bashan, emblematic of the cosmic powers of evil, but it also triggered the empowerment of the Church by the gifts of the Spirit. Second, that victory and empowerment also had something to do with Pentecost. 295, Ephesians 4.8-9

My First Blood Transfusion

20171026_094747 (768x1024)So far, up to last Thursday, I had made it through my life without a blood transfusion. But because my red blood cell count was low, my doctors thought it was important that I get one. So I headed up to Marshall Hospital and spent the whole day there getting a couple pints of blood put into my body. It wasn’t a real difficult process for me. It just took a long time. Because of my edema problems, again, they gave me a separate room. I even had my own bathroom. I had time to do my devotional reading (I love having Logos on my phone), nap, and watch a lot of ESPN. I even got a nice anti-microbial hospital lunch. The process took about 8 hours and went without problem. I did feel pretty tired afterward, but otherwise I felt ok. The outcome was that my white and red blood cell counts were high enough for apheresis and we were told to report to the apheresis room in the Stanford Cancer Center on the next day at 7am. We prayed that things would move quickly and they certainly did.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Reading Through the Gospel of Matthew #7 (21.17-25.46)

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 records Jesus’ final presentation of His kingdom to the nation and their final rejection of Him. He then turns to His disciples and teaches them about their responsibilities in the inaugurated kingdom to be ready for His judgment when He brings the present age to a close. 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.

In 21.17-22.46 the Jewish religious leaders challenge the source of Jesus' authority to teach the people. Jesus responds by showing that they have rejected God's authority, which He and John the Baptist represented, and they are in the same danger as past leadership of receiving God's judgment. The parables illustrate their rejection of God and his prophets and warn them, that God is patient, but judgment is coming soon. The Jewish leaders were more concerned with preserving their privileged place in society and thus, were more evil than the tax collectors and prostitutes who recognized their sin and repented. Jesus offered the kingdom but the nation, because of the actions of their leaders, was about to miss it.

Jesus and John represent the same source of moral authority, and those who rejected John’s way of righteousness showed the hypocrisy of their own claims to be God’s servants... Neither Jesus nor Matthew contends for God’s rejection of Israel as a people, but for his rejection of the religious leaders. Matthew 21:28–44

The welcoming of both good and bad (v. 10) echoes Jesus’ own mission to sinners (9:11–13), but it may also remind us that grace not only forgives but also transforms. All are welcome, but no one dare remain the way he or she entered, in view of the final separation of “the wicked from the righteous” (13:49)...salvation is not simply a matter of those who begin the race, for we must finish it. Matthew 22:1-14

To render to Caesar what was Caesar’s was to return his own coin to him; to render to God what was God’s was to render worship to him alone (compare 4:10)...The appropriate response to living in a society whose beliefs differ from one’s own is to critically evaluate and withstand its claims, not to censor such claims from being heard or to boycott all participation in the society.  Matthew 22:15-22

Matthew 23 begins Jesus' final discourse before His passion. This passage is a denunciation of the hypocritical way the Pharisees applied the torah, but the passage is directed at all Christians to examine themselves to make sure we don't "have a place with the hypocrites." Religion should produce people who live out what they teach, who don't use religion for personal honor, special treatment or titles. Our standards should be God-made not manmade and should emphasize what God thinks is important. They should be applied to ourselves before we apply them to others. This is critical because these actions will all be brought to judgment by God.

Although Pharisaic ethics emphasized being as lenient or strict with others as one was with oneself, in practice Jesus accuses them of being too strict with others and too lenient with their own failings (compare 5:18–20; 15:1–20), which fits the way Christians often evaluate sins today. Matthew 23:1-12

I suspect that much of what passes for Christianity today is little more than human religion with the name of Jesus tacked onto it, because like most of the religion of Jesus’ contemporaries, it has failed to transform its followers into Christ’s servants passionately devoted to his mission in the world. When rightly understood, Jesus’ woes may strike too close to home for comfort. When religion becomes a veneer of holiness to conceal unholy character, it makes its bearers less receptive to God’s transforming grace. Matthew, 23:13-32

Many of us today do not like to preach on judgment, but the prophets of Scripture, including Jesus, heavily emphasized warnings about judgment. If we are to be faithful to our calling as Christ’s followers and if we care about others, we dare not shortchange Scripture’s message of judgment on individuals and nations. We must recognize that every nation, including our own, will face divine punishment (if Israel, how much more Gentiles!). Yet we must remember that God’s heart of judgment sometimes sounds most like a lament (v. 37). Matthew, 23:33-39

In Matthew 24-25, Jesus answers the disciples questions about the nature and timing of the destruction of the temple and the end of the age. Jesus answers that the destruction of the temple is coming soon and it will be a complete destruction from which God's people need to flee. That event will begin the "birth pangs" of the final age which will consummate with the return of Jesus Christ. Jesus seems to fuse the prophesies of the temple destruction, the persecutions of the present age and the coming final tribulation that will immediately precede His coming. The only prerequisite for the coming of the end which Jesus mentions is the spread of the gospel throughout the world. The end will come when the great commission is completed and with the cosmic visible return of Jesus to this world.

While catastrophic events do not allow us to predict how soon the Lord is coming—such events have happened throughout history—they do remind us that such problems characterize this age, summoning us to long for our Lord’s coming all the more fervently. Matthew 24:1-14

Christians who remember the nature of the time ought not to be attached to worldly possessions; we should value our lives enough to flee immediately. Indeed, God may judge materialistic Western and other societies at times to turn us from our pursuit of what does not matter so we may learn to pursue what really does. Nor ought we to believe false prophets of peace proclaiming that judgment will never strike our own locality; rather than sparing a locality, God sometimes warns his servants to leave. Matthew, 24:15-28

24.32-25.46 contain several parables about the end of the age. Each of them focus on the coming end of the age and what Jesus' disciples need to do now to prepare for the judgment and coming kingdom. Disciples need to "keep watch" and "be prepared" at all times because we don't know when Jesus will return to consummate the kingdom. Disciples do this by using the resources Jesus gives them wisely by investing their lives in His kingdom work. At the judgment we will all be judged based on how we advanced his kingdom mission and how we treated and responded those who made great sacrifices to announce the gospel of the kingdom and fulfill the great commission. 

After Jesus exhorts the disciples to “keep watch,” to stay awake, he illustrates what he means. We stay alert not by artificially and perpetually stirring expectation that he will come at a given time, but by living in such a manner that we would have no cause for shame if he did come at any time, since he may in fact do so. Matthew 24:32-45

Whereas the other servants are rewarded by the master’s benevolence, this servant, fearing the master’s harshness but unaware of his benevolence, experiences the very wrath he feared. This, says Jesus, is what will happen to those who claim to be his followers but do not invest their lives in the work of the kingdom. Matthew 25:14-30

The King thus judges the nations based on how they have responded to the gospel of the kingdom already preached to them before the time of his kingdom (Mt 24:14; 28:19–20). The passage thus also implies that true messengers of the gospel will successfully evangelize the world only if they can also embrace poverty and suffering for Christ’s name. Matthew 25:31-46

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Reading The Unseen Realm, by Michael Heiser #11

HeiserI am continuing to read through The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. This post ends 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 29 The Rider of the Clouds explains one of these cryptic references to Messiah as the visible YHWH figure who will become human. The reference is in Daniel 7.13-14 to a "son of man" (human), who would be "coming on the clouds." The OT has several references to YHWH as the rider on the clouds. The "ancient of days" and "son of man" are both in the passage, a reference to the invisible and visible YHWH. When Jesus is questioned about His identity at His trial he quotes Daniel 7.13 and calls himself the "son of man" (Matthew 26:57–66). The OT prophecy only becomes clear with Jesus' statement at the trial.

Daniel 7 therefore describes two powers in heaven—two Yahweh figures, since, in all other places in the Old Testament, Yahweh is the cloud rider. Just as importantly, the one who rides the clouds in Daniel 7:13 receives everlasting kingship from the Ancient of Days. As we saw in the previous chapter, everlasting kingship belonged only to the son of David. We’ve just filled in more of the messianic mosaic: The ultimate son of David, the messianic king, will be both human (“son of man”) and deity (“the rider of the clouds”). That’s precisely what we get in the New Testament. 252

Jesus quotes Daniel 7:13 to answer Caiaphas. The reaction is swift and unyielding. Caiaphas understood that Jesus was claiming to be the second Yahweh figure of Daniel 7:13— and that was an intolerable blasphemy. Jesus’ answer provides the high priest with the accusation he needs for a death sentence, but also gives us a clear testimony of Jesus as the final son of David, Yahweh incarnate, through whom Yahweh will reclaim the nations disinherited at Babel. 253

Chapter 30, Prepare to Die, deals with the future of the kingdom in light of the failure of Israel after David and Solomon. God raised up the prophets to announce that the nation would be exiled to the lands of the rebellious gods, but the plan for God's kingdom would not be abandoned. God would make a new covenant, judge and destroy the rebellious nations and give the rule of His kingdom to the Son of Man and to "His Holy Ones" (Daniel 7.15-18). A great war between God's people and elohim and the rebellious ones will take place, which God will win and reclaim many people from the rebellious lands. The New Covenant will reestablish God's people in an Edenic new earth (Isaiah 66:16-22). Exactly how God would do this was not clear in the Old Testament, but would be revealed in the New Testament.

The kingdom will come. The divine holy ones loyal to Yahweh and Yahweh’s people are his agents to expand that kingdom. But the nations and the gods who rule them (“ princes” in Daniel’s description) will stand opposed. As the kingdom of God grows, the dominions of the dark powers will shrink and their gods will ultimately perish. 254

The kingdom of God is reborn at the first coming of Jesus. His arrival marks the beginning of the end of the rule of darkness and the initiation of Yahweh’s reclamation of the nations ruled by the other gods. Jesus is the son of man, and the kingdom is his. Ruling with him will be the holy ones of Yahweh’s (and his) council. 258

People from the disinherited nations will return to Yahweh, out from under the dominion of their gods. Where Israel failed in that mission as a kingdom of priests (Exod 19:6) Yahweh himself will succeed. He will be the agent for his own mission. This is the story of how Eden will be reborn— a story told by the New Testament. 261

Monday, October 23, 2017

Quick Medical Update

We have been getting daily blood draws at the local medical lab since last Thursday, the 19th. So today’s was the 5th one. We were hoping that the numbers would be up today but we what we have is a slightly downward trend in the numbers. That is not unusual at this stage but we were hoping for better results since I have been getting the neupogen shots for 9 days now. Last week they told us, if the counts do not go up as quickly as we want, I may need a transfusion before they harvest the stem cells. I am praying that tomorrows’ counts will be much better. Joyce and I would appreciate you joining with us in that prayer.

Wednesday, October 18, 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.

Sunday, October 15, 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!

Friday, October 13, 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.

Thursday, October 12, 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

Wednesday, October 11, 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.

Saturday, October 07, 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

Friday, October 06, 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