Psalm 23 & God In Pursuit

~ Here and there I have heard Pastor John Piper say of Psalm 23:6, that a more literal Hebrew translation of it would be “Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.” 

In fact here is an excerpt from an article by him that states as much:

“God does not bless us begrudgingly. There is a kind of eagerness about the beneficence of God. He does not wait for us to come to him. He seeks us out, because it is his pleasure to do us good. God is not waiting for us; he is pursuing us. That, in fact, is the literal translation of Psalm 23:6: ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.'”

How Much God Wants to Bless You @ Desiring God Ministries

I have always wondered about this.  Is that really one more valid way to translate the Hebrew? Because most Bible versions seem have the word follow in verse 6:

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (NIV)

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me … (ESV), (KJV), (NKJV)

Of the Bibles found at BibleGateway.com, about 30 Bibles use “follow” and about 12 use “pursue”. 

So which is it? And why is it important?

~ Let me start with the question of which is it? For this, I will take a quick look at the Hebrew. One sec. 

This is the verse in question. Don’t worry if you do not follow the Hebrew. I myself am very rusty and you can get the point.  

The word that I have cirled, yirdphuni, comes from the word radaph ~ rdp, which it turns out really does mean pursue:

Here is a more colorful picture from Logos. I love these:

~ So a literal translation of the Hebrew really can be “Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.” Interesting.

Ok. So why is this important?

One reason why is personal. I personally just find the idea of goodness and mercy being in a hot pursuit of us, to be something cool.  It’s as if they pursue us so as to tackle us and I like that picture.  I like the idea and image of being jumped by God’s mercy and goodness.

A second reason why I think it’s important is because there is quite often an asymmetry that governs our lives.  We all too often remember or notice the bad things that take place in our lives but rarely the good.  This is will help us to be more sensitive to the good in our lives.

A final reason why is that this is really about God pursuing us more than anything. All too often we are accustomed to thinking of ourselves as the ones seeking God. It really is the opposite – all through our lives… all the days of our lives.

You can read more about all this at the Piper article linked to up above. I will end for now.


*Note 1: All of the above and the following were accessed via Logos Software and Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia in Logos.

Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia : with Westminster Hebrew Morphology. (1996). (electronic ed., Ps 23:6). Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society; Westminster Seminary.

*Note 2: I was just reading Proverbs 13 during my quiet time and noticed that it says in verse 21 “Adversity pursues sinners, but the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity.” And yes. Sure enough. The word for pursue here is the same one discussed up above.

On Nullifying God’s Promises ~ Sort of…

~ Here is a thought:

Suppose it is early in the month and I make a promise to you and say,

“I promise you that I will give you a 100 bucks on the last day of the month.” 

Now since I have given such a promise, I am obligated to keep it – if I have any character and integrity that is.

Now suppose later on, during the middle of the month, I go to the amusement park for a holiday and to enjoy the rides ands such there I run into you again. Here you remind me of the promise I made.  Now, what would you think if I then say,

“Hey. Look. I know  I owe you a 100 bucks and I know I promised to pay you at the end of the month, but let me say this to you now:

I promise you that I will give you 50 bucks on the last day of the month.”

What would your reaction be?

Obviously you would not accept this. A 100 bucks was what the original promise was. This is 5o short! Of course you would not accept this.  You would regard me as in effect trying to break the promise. No?

On the flip side, suppose I say the following to you instead:

“I promise you that I will give you a 1,000 bucks on the last day of the month.”

Surely you would not object? And surely this does not speak ill of my character in anyway.  In fact it speaks the opposite. Perhaps I am very magnanimous.  Also if I do give the 1,000 at the end of the month, I cannot in anyway be charged with breaking my promise.

Yet also notice, this new $1,000 promise is what now holds. If I make this promise, then it over-rides the $100 promise. The greater promise in a sense nullifies the lesser promise. On the flip side, the $50 promise does not in any way nullify the $100 promise.

Genesis ~ Quick Note in Passing…

“Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven.” ~ Genesis 47:28

~ I just want to jot an odd note from a commentary that I read. This note has to do with the deaths of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  The commentary that I read was Genesis: A Commentary by Bruce K. Waltke with Cathi J. Fredricks.

From pg. 591 –

“Interestingly, the factorization of the lifespans of the patriarchs follows a distinct pattern: Abraham 175 = 5 x 5 x 7; Isaac 180 = 6 x 6 x 5; Jacob 147 = 7 x 7 x 3.  Sarna explains, ‘In this series, the squared number increases by one each time while the coefficient decreases by two. Furthermore, in each case the sum of the factors is 17.  Through their factorial patterns, the patriarchal chronologies constitute a rhetorical device expressing the profound biblical conviction that Israel’s formative age was not a concatenation of haphazard incidents but a series of events ordered according to God’s grand design.'”

~ Honestly, I don’t know how people observe or figure out such things. Go figure!

Here is another article, that discusses said issue:

The Mysterious Numbers of the Ages of the Patriarchs by Duane L. Christensen @ jbburnett.com

 

Acrostics In the Hebrew Bible – A Quick Note

~ Apparently, there are very many acrostics in the Hebrew Bible.  Of this phenomena, a Wikipedia article on Acrostics states

“These acrostics occur in the first four of the five songs that make up the Book of Lamentations, in the praise of the good wife in Proverbs 31, 10-31, and in Psalms 9, 10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119 and 145 of the Hebrew Bible.[3] Notable among the acrostic Psalms are the long Psalm 119, which typically is printed in subsections named after the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, each of which is featured in that section; and Psalm 145, which is recited three times a day in the Jewish services.”

~ I am curious to see if this is so, so I am going to take a look at this for Lamentations 1:1-5 and post what I find here.  Here is is:

~ Wow! Very interesting!

Source: LOGOS software snip and in particular,

[1] Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: with Westminster Hebrew Morphology. (1996). (electronic ed., La 1). Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society; Westminster Seminary.

Esther ~ Notes in passing… (Obscure stuff)

~ In the book of Esther, God is never mentioned. Not even once.  I had heard that if you read the Hebrew however, you can find the word “YHWH” (Yahweh) listed four times in a very unusual way, viz. in an acrostic format. So two of those times, it is written in forward fashion and two of those times it is written in  a backwards, reverse fashion.  I just decided to look this up to see if its so and yes, it is so.

~ Now this is not something to make a big deal out of, however it is kind of interesting. I am reminded that even when we think that God has abandoned us or has just plain disappeared, He is always still there, behind the scenes.

~ Also its interesting that the you have two reverse acrostics. Having forward acrostics makes sense (if any acrostics makes sense!), but why the reverse ones? Who knows? However one of the themes of Esther is reversal as the story ends with the tables being turned on the antagonists.

Anyway … here are some snips I took  from Logos for a couple of verses from Esther. | (I am not sure how to do paste it in properly, so sorry.)

1) Esther 1:20 ~ Reversed order

A comment:
~ In the above, the acrostic is basically in the phrase “… it is vast, all women will give …”

2) Esther 5:4 ~ Normal (forward) order

Two comments:

  • Note that the red letters below are in reverse of the red letters above.
  • The verse fragment is sort of around “ … let the King and Haman come …’

We will find this reversed and forward pattern again in

  • Esther 5:13 ~ Reversed order
  • Esther 7:7 ~ Forward order
  • Esther 7:5 ~ “I AM” in reverse

[1] Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: with Westminster Hebrew Morphology. (1996). (electronic ed., Es 1:20). Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society; Westminster Seminary.

[2] Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: with Westminster Hebrew Morphology. (1996). (electronic ed., Es 5:4). Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society; Westminster Seminary.

Good Reference: No Matter Which Way You Spell it? The Book of Esther by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., at ReformedAnswers.org

Weakness – Making Some Distinctions

~ I have always puzzled over the theme of weakness as found in the Bible. An entire book of the Bible, 2 Corinthians, has that as one of its main themes. Here is a classic verse on the matter:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9 

And … Here are some distinctions that I am processing:

(W1) Weakness Transformed:  This is of the form where you work hard at a weakness to improve on it until it is a strength. E.g. John Piper struggled to preach in his early days.

(W2) Weakness Receded: This is where you work on a strength instead of a weakness. So for example C.S. Lewis sucked at math and failed his math entrance exams. As a result he did not go into Engineering. The rest was history.

(W3) Weakness Obviated: Here God basically steps in and does what you cannot do. Your weakness is not removed, but what you needed to get done by way of the weakness gets done anyway by God. Think of Joni Eareckson Tada  and her incredible ministry, Joni & Friends.  (Tada became paralyzed from the neck down on account of an diving accident.)

(W4) Weakness Supplanted: Here God basically steps in and removes the weakness and puts in place the relevant strength. For example, the blind receiving sight by Jesus.

(W5) Sinful Weakness: Like when you just can help but tell white lies habitually or help but go out on the Net and look up porn. This is not the weakness in view when God is talking about God’s strength being made perfect in weakness. See 2 Cor. 12:9 up above.

~ In W1 and W4 your weakness is removed.
~ In W2 and W3 you weakness is not removed.

~ And … With regards to W1-W4, submit your weaknesses to God in prayer and you an have full assurance that He will come through for you.

~ With regards to W5, you have a little more work to do starting with repentance…

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  ~ 2 Cor. 12:10

Joni Eareckson Tada
Joni Eareckson Tada

Counting the Cost… (2)

Warning: This is a somewhat discursive ramble. I will come back and clean it up later.

ubsouth_campus_wide_shot

~ In my previous post, I blogged about how way back when I was an undergrad at the Uni, I sat down and counted the cost of becoming a Christian and decided that I was up for it even if the going was rough.  Something about this never quite settled with me. Here I am trying to process this.

So here is a thought. Suppose that as I sat outside of Harriman Hall, counting the cost – what if my thoughts were something like this:

First Thought: “Yes. I know that if I were to become a Christian, the going would be rough. My values and the values of many others would clash. I might suffer ridicule, ostracism and who knows what. It would be tough. However – HOWEVER – I can do it. I’ve got what it takes. I am a winner.  I can do it. Look at my past victories. Lets go!”

~ There seems to be something not quite right about the attitude present in this kind of thinking. It seems to run afoul of verses like:

“… not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” ~ Eph. 2:9
“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” ~ 2 Cor. 10:17

Another way to think would be something like:

Second Thought: “Yes. I know that if I were to become a Christian, the going would be rough. My values and the values of many others would clash. I might suffer ridicule, ostracism and who knows what. It would be tough. However – HOWEVER – God will be with me. He will see me through everything.  I know that I bring nothing to the table, but God is there and He is sufficient. I know that I will not be alone.”

~ Why do I point this out? A couple of reasons why.

(1) Prior to becoming a Christian, if you sit down and count the cost, then I am inclined to believe that your thinking would take the form of one of the above two thoughts. If it takes the form of the first thought, then the odds are that you have missed the boat.  You are not a Christian.

After becoming a Christian however if you sit down to count the cost, then it may go as follows…

(2) Most people when they come across the Luke 14 passage on the Tower and the King’s army may likely process it in terms like I often have. They might sit down and think about some challenge that they are facing in life and about whether they have what it takes to overcome it.  If upon reflection, they find that they do not have what it takes to overcome the challenge, they abandon it.

~ The issue here is that when we count the cost, we only look at the raw material that is set before us. This might mean we look at out own skills and assets or some other ones around us, and then decide that they are not enough for the task at hand. So we drop out.

And this may well be a very accurate assessment, however it is still not adequate grounds for abandoning the task.  Not if you are a Christians. Why? Because if you are like me, you may all too often fail to factor God in all this.

This passage is about discipleship.  So it is about God discipling you. So when you count the cost, you need to think about what God is doing in your life. How is He leading you. Even if the challenge seems insurmountable, it may be His will to take you right straight through it to success.

~ I guess what I am saying is that whether we are building a tower or whether we are going to war or just trying to do the Christian walk on a given day, then counting the cost involves the recognition that of our own selves we are inadequate. We do not have what it takes to build the tower or go to a war.  Yet we might still do the very same in spite of coming up short in our calculus. Why? Because our calculus does not just simply involve the material and natural. No. It involves God.

ub

Counting the Cost… (1)

Harriman Hall

Many many many moons ago when I was an undergrad at a U, I sat down outside the hall up above – Harriman Hall – and counted the cost of what it meant to be a Christian. My pastor had suggested that I do as much. So I sat and counted. Suppose the cost was high – would I be willing to go the route? Suppose the cost was low, then what? After doing a bit of thinking, my answer was “Yes!” and in the weeks to follow I told my pastor as much. He didn’t buy it.

Here and there I have thought of my Harriman Hall moment. Its bugged me a little  actually. Today during my quiet time, I came back to a passage in the Bible that more often than not is referenced in sermons and discussions of counting the cost. Here it is along with a comment or two following:

25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them,26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 

Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

~ So as I said up above, something has not settled in me with the idea of “counting the cost” and discipleship.mw

First I want to put a thought out on the table. This is an idea that comes from a Michael Wilkins book on discipleship, that I read years ago.  Wilkins states in his book, that a person becomes a disciple the moment she accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. She does not repent of her sins, turns to Christ for forgiveness, accepting Him as Lord and Savior and then just lives undiscipled until she enters some church program on discipleship or until some person comes along and disciples her.  No. She becomes a disciple the moment she puts her trust in the Lord.

Now what does this have to do with counting the cost and the passage referenced up above. I am not sure as yet.  I am processing as I write and hope something will come out.

~ TBC

 

Romans 12:12

jih

~ For the last 4 days I have been thinking about this verse… strangely enough even in the dead of the night, in mid-sleep. I have wanted to pass it on to someone going through some struggles and been thinking about it a whole lot.

I’ve been thinking a lot about it because it seems as though it can be translated in both:

  • a descriptive sense and a prescriptive sense
  • an indicative fashion and an imperative fashion
  • a fact and a value
  • in the form of an is and the form of an ought
  • as being and as a be.

Both are important and yet my preference is for the indicative, for being over be (= doing). The indicative seems to be more passive-oriented and about the work being done in you by the Holy Spirit whereas the imperative is about the work that you have to do.

First the Greek:
   τῇ ἐλπίδι χαίροντες,  (= in hope, rejoicing)
   τῇ θλίψει ὑπομένοντες,
   τῇ προσευχῇ προσκαρτεροῦντες, ~ Romans 12:12

~ Which I need to think though and come back to later… but post for now for future reference. Also I will quickly note the οντες for now… These signal participles or ______-ing words.

And now… the English…
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12, NIV).

~ Notice that this verse in the NIV begins with a “be”. The NIV is a more user-friendly version.

Others

 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12, ESV).

Two be’s.

 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer (Rom. 12:12, KJV).

~ The above is the classic King James Version in its 1611 English. No be’s. Just being?

 “… rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer …”  (NASB)

~ No be’s… two -ings for being but all three describe states of being.

One more…

“… rejoicing in hope, enduring in affliction, being devoted to prayer” (Lexham)

~ this one even has a being in it…

Going back to the context in Romans – I do want to note that verse 9 which precedes it states the following:

“Love must be sincere. …” Romans 12:9 (NIV)
“Let love be genuine” Romans 12:9 (ESV)

So am I being told to allow love to be of a certain sort (= being) or do I do something so that it is expressed sincerely?

Words cannot describe why I like this verse – in the Indicative. I basically like the NIV minus the be.

…  joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12, NIV).

When I first met this verse in the NIV I think, it seem to have wrapped up within it some sort of a beautiful contemplative silence.  A pensive, emotional silence. Something of that sort. I am not sure how to describe it.

καὶ μὴ ἐξ ἡμῶν:

~ So the more I read and re-read 2 Corinthians, the more I think that something along the lines of human weakness and human insufficiency giving rise to God’s strength and sufficiency is a major theme of the book.

καὶ μὴ ἐξ ἡμῶν:  means “and not from us” 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Cor. 4:7

~ So what is of you and what is not of you?

“And who is sufficient for these things?” ~ 2 Cor. 2:17

5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,  ~ 2 Cor. 3:5

Weakness ~ Distinctions…

1. Imposed: in some sense or some way… from within, from without, involving circumstance or inability
~ “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.” ~ John 9:1

And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding, “Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?” ~ Exodus 5:14

2. Self-Imposed: Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. ~Mk 14:34

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No. . . .”  John 12:27.  Yet ~ “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? …~ Matthew 26:53

3. Sinful-Weakness: “He[Judas] did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” ~ John 12:6

The forms of weakness described in (1) and (2) are good if the foundation for them is God’s strength.

 “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Much human strength and especially those which are much admired can actually be categorized in (3) believe it or not.

” … apart from Me you can do nothing.” ~ John 15:5

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. ~ 2 Cor. 2:5

~ One last one…

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted,but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

 

Oswald Chambers Quote relating to Weakness

~ I heard the following in a Kent Hughes sermon and had to look it up.

“God can achieve his purpose either through the absence of human power and resources, or abandonment of reliance on them. All through history God has chosen and used nobodies, because their unusual dependence on him made possible the unique display of his power and grace. He chose and use somebodies only when they renounced dependence on their natural abilities and resources.” ~Oswald Chambers

OswaldChambers

I found the quote online at the DASH/HOUSE post God Chooses And Uses Nobodies

~ Interesting finding it there because that blog happens to be my most recent discovery and I have been reading there a lot lately. Cool!

Weakness and Strength

4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing,

~~~~~>Weakness

But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

~~~~~>Strength

6 When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break;…

~ Luke 5

When Strength And Weakness Become One

Abraham sends his servant, to find a wife for his son Isaac.  The servant journeys out to the city of Nahor, in Mesopotamia and stops at a well when he has reached the outskirts of the city.

Isaac’s servant tying the bracelet on Rebecca’s arm by Benjamin West (1738-1820)

Genesis 24v11-15:

11 And he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time when women go out to draw water. 12 And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this[b] I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”

15 Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah,

Let us now flash-forward to a another scene which also takes place at a well. This one concerns Jacob, right after he has stolen Esau’s birthright and has had to run from him because Esau was contemplating taking Jacob’s life. Lets flash-forward to Genesis 29

Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, …

Jacob said to them, … “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.” He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well; and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!” He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered together. Water the sheep and go, pasture them.” But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”

jacobrachel
Jacob and Rachel by William Dyce(1806-1864)

While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 Now as soon as Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob came near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud.

~ Theres a lot of drama in the latter scene, but I won’t get into all of that. What I want to point out is that the Jacob scene contrasts markedly from the scene with Abraham’s servant.

The first instinct of Abraham’s servant is to pray. He prays and behold! Rebekah shows up. The first instinct of Jacob however is to put on a macho show. Rachel shows up and he flexes his muscles and rolls away the stone. Then within an instant he is surely in her arms weeping. High drama.

What I want to point out that one person – the servant – operates on the basis of weakness. Another operates on the basis of strength – fleshy, human strength.

~ The weakness of the servant is however really strength. It is really an acknowledgement that the servant – of his own self cannot do anything. However as he prays and waits upon God, God’s strength comes to the fore.

Cutting to the chase… What I am trying to say:

~ There is (1) strength and there is (2) weakness, both of which which differ, one from the other and then finally there is also (3) a strength which is the very same as weakness itself and vice versa.  This (3) weakness/strength is different from the strength and weakness of (1) and (2). SW

In the Jacob well scene we see a display of this natural, fleshy, human strength.

In well scene of Abraham’s servant, we see a display of a weakness that really is strength.

And while I have not illustrated (2) weakness, it is found all over the Bible and life. Solomon seems to have had a weakness in the area of materialism.  David in his weakness lusted after Bathsheba.  In everyday life, some people find it difficult not to gamble. That is a form of sinful weakness. This is not the form of weakness that is really God’s strength.

9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Cor. 12:9-10

 

The Long Hard Wait

~ Slowed down on my blogging due to intensity at the workplace.  But this one comes right out of my work thoughts so…

~ I used to work in the IT field for many years before I made a switch and then went to seminary. During and subsequent to seminary, I felt no pronounced call to ministry and so I headed back to IT.  However working here, I confess to being restless. I can’t just code and code and code away forever.

Coding is there but its not my thing.  Its bread I suppose so I do it. However I feel like there has to be something else, beyond i = i+1;. What I don’t know. Just don’t. Yet … all that said its interesting to consider the long hard wait that some folks in the Bible experienced.

~ Abraham was told that he would have a son. It would be years… YEARS before Isaac arrives on the scene.

~ Joseph has dreams that he would one day be some kind of ruler and that his family would even bow before him. Little did he realize that he would even do years in a dungeon before he literally would see the light of day.

~ David is anointed as a youth by Samuel and told that he would be king. Yet it would take years before any of this would happen. In fact ~8-10 of those years would be spent in the wilderness on the run from Saul.

~ Moses seems to have had a sense of destiny, while growing up in Egypt. This was that God was raising him up to free his people.

24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian.25 Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.” ~ Acts 7:23-25

~ Yet, little did he realize that all this would begin when he was 80 years old!

~ Naomi while in Moab, struggled to wait and basically lost all hope… I mean over the course of 10 years, her sons and husband died. And what do you do next if you are Naomi? I honestly empathize with her.  I mean we have a 10 year stretch where only the ugly was happening. Yet at the end of it all, little did she realize that her answer, her Godsend – Ruth – was right by her side all along.

Moses by Ivan Meštrović (1952)

The apostle Paul in Acts 9 and then appointed in Acts 13. While we do not realize it while reading, the timespan between those two chapters is 17 years. Wow. What was he doing during all those years?

~ So it seems like… sometimes when God makes you wait for something… He really makes you wait! It is not always easy waiting and I groan at times but… it helps to look at the above and see that its not just me.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 – Various Notes

Corint

The church of Corinth consisted of
– Romans
– Greeks and
– Jews

And the Roman city of Corinth was a major economic center that also was very religious. It consisted of a polytheistic culture which included many temples for various gods (Hermes, Poseidon, Isis, Apollo, etc.)  over and including a major temple of Venus situated atop a hill.

~ Athletics & sports was in the air there as a nearby city, Isthmia hosted the Isthmian Games every 2-3 years.

Paul came to Corinth on his 3rd missionary journey and planted the Church there. He then ministered there for 18 months.

Cor

After having moved on from Corinth, and at a later time, Paul received news from members of the Corinthian church about problems there. These had to do with 1) gross immorality and 2) factions. Paul also received a letter from them requesting his guidance on 3) various matters such as marriage, divorce, eating food sacrificed to idols, spiritual gifts, collections for the poor and so on.

Further problems also were present – people questioning where Paul was an authentic apostle, Communion observance abuses, questions about the resurrection.

Walk Through 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 …

1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,

~ Given that Paul’s credentials as an apostle were challenged, here Paul is stating that he in fact an apostle by God’s will.  Acts 1 lays out the qualifications for what constituted an apostle. An apostle had to have
1) been an witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
2) been appointed by Jesus Christ and
3) finally he had to be able to authenticate his status as an apostle by way of miraculous signs.

So given these criteria, do you think was Paul an apostle?

Sosthenes might have been the ruler of the synagogue (in Corinth) mentioned in Acts 18:17. Given what the Sosthenes of Acts 18:17 went through.

Sosthenes (2nd from the left)

“Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever.”

It would not at all be surprising if he later on joined the church.

~ Sosthenes is also likely Paul’s scribe for this letter. That is to say that, Paul dictated and Sosthenes wrote.

2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

~ Note the use of the term “call” here. In verse 1 God called Paul not just to be a saint, but also to be an apostle. In verse 2, we see that all those who are believers – they are also called to be saints. So there is a general call to be a saint and there is also a specific call to be an apostle. The latter is not applicable to everyone.

~ Saints: Everyone who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour is regarded by the Bible as being a saint. You do not have to be an Church Father like St. Athanasius or some super individual like Mother Theresa who as per the canonization of the RC Church apparently became a saint. You are a Saint by virtue of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you.

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

{Research something here and update later.}

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—

~ All speech and all knowledge would have referred to:
1) Prophesying aka forth-telling aka giving a sermon aka teaching … even when the Church critiques culture
2) Prophesying aka foretelling aka predicting
3) Speaking in Tongues – glossolalia aka ecstatic speech
4) Speaking in Tongues – speaking in other languages like Aramaic or French
5) Speaking with eloquence and persuasively anywhere and everywhere.
6) Sharing the Good News with others
7) Good social skills
8) A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. ~ Proverbs 25:11
9) …

6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,

~ No Christian is without a gift. Every Christian has some kind of God given to him or her by God. This could be stewardship, encouragement, financial wisdom, counseling skills, preaching skills, being good at Art or Engineering, exhortation and so on. As regards the matter of tongues or Prophesying (type (2) above), its controversial as to whether they are still around today.

8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

~ The Bible teaches that once one accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then it is forever. If you have genuinely converted then God bears the primary burden of seeing to it that you make it to Heaven without falling away. He will sustain you to the end and He cannot fail.

Cor3

Exercise: I just covered 9 verses. In these 9 verses, how many times does Paul reference Jesus Christ?

Matthew 11:28-30 ~ The Nature of a Yoke (2) ~ Outline

~ Due to time issues, I am just going to put a rough outline of my thoughts here. I will work it out later.

I. What is a yoke?
A. Many types
1. A single strap often put around the neck of a someone like a slave.
2. A wooden balance shaped object with two bows for placing the heads of cows.
3. A yoke with multiple bows suited for many cows
B. Purpose
1. To lighten a load
2. To provide balance
3. Illustration: Like the straps on a backpack. They make the load more manageable It beats carrying a heavy handful of books.
C. In the Bible
1. Yoke stands for the physical implement put around the neck
i. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers…” ~ 2 Cor. 6:14). I.C.1.i.
2. Yoke stands for both the physical implement and so also the burden.
i. “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” ~ 1 Kings 12:4
3. Etc. Verses can be multiplied
II. The Nature of Yokes 
A. We were created/designed to be yoked.
1. I.e. We have been created to do things with our two hands
2. We have not been created to have empty hands.
i. Illustration: Upon retirement, boredom surprisingly sets in rather than rest & relaxation. * CB2 
B. This means that there is always something to do.
1. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” ~ Ephesians 2:10
i. No such thing as unemployment when you live under God.
ii. The unemployment rate is 0 in the Kingdom of God.
iii. God is sending us a stream of good works (= yokes) our way. Things for us to do.
C. We are all constantly under a yoke – like it or not
1. During Jesus’ day
i. The yoke of the Scribes and Pharisees, 1,001 rules
ii. The Roman Yoke – taxes, rough rulers
2. During Jesus’ day and our day
i. Having a hectic, stressful life.
ii. Your job – can be a light yoke or harsh one ~~> Having a tyrant for a boss at the workplace
iii. Having a mental illness like schizophrenia and as such being on meds which keep you weak and sluggish 24/7.
iv. Alcoholism or being addicted to a drug. Your drug is your yoke. Though chosen, now its a very difficult yoke to be free from.
v. The yoke of being in debt to someone. The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. ~ Prov. 22:7
vi. While employment can be a yoke (see ii.) so also can unemployment (creditors knocking, bills piling up, etc.)
vii. Being unequally yoked (in marriage, crooked business partner, etc.). See I.C.1.i. ~~> 2 Cor. 6:14
viii. Living under a totalitarian regime
ix. the yoke of sin… our natures are sinful
x. etc.
III. The Nature of Christ’s Yoke in itself
A. Not a yoke that is imposed on us (e.g. Roman yoke) but a yoke we take on. “Take My yoke upon you.”
1. Which means that it can be rejected to our detriment.
B. Must be taken on and learned from: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from me.”
C. The yoke of a gentle and humble Person, not a ruthless boss: “For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
IV. The Nature of Christ’s Yoke in relation to other yokes
D. If taken on, will in due course expunge all yokes involving sin on your part (e.g. doing drugs)
E. If taken on, will make lighter and more bearable, all other yokes, not involving sin on your part (e.g. being delivered from tyrant boss.)
F. Summa: If you take on Christ’s yoke, other yokes in your life will become either be removed or be made more bearable. i.e. the burden becomes lighter.
IV. The Nature of Christ’s Yoke & You
A. Discipleship

1. Oxen in training are put into the bows of a yoke. One ox will be strong. The other will be weak and perhaps just a baby. This strong Ox pulls the bulk of the weight and thus trains the smaller ox.
2. Almost as if Christ is a yokefellow of yours, being yoked together with you and thus teaching you.

~ Only sinners get sick. Saints do not.
~ Only sinners get unemployed. Saints do not? No?

The Bible – One Way of Looking at it…

1. The Bible is both the biography and autobiography of God.

2. We are intro’d to the Bible as having two major parts, the OT and the NT.

~ I have been toying with the following idea:

The Bible comes in 3 major parts:
(1) The Gospel Implied: The Old Testament
(2) The Gospel Supplied: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
and
(3) The Gospel Applied: = the NT – (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)

(1) The word “implied” does not quite get at what I want to… but I cannot think of a better term. So anyway… what I am referring to by the Gospel Implied is the Old Testament. What I mean by it is that the OT consists of Gospel-Sightings. These come in the form of types, figures, foreshadows, prophesies about the coming Messiah, Messianic Psalms, etc.

(2) By Gospel Supplied I am referring to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Basically these are the 4 Gospel accounts. What are the Gospel accounts btw? The Gospel is a biography of Jesus Christ detailing His life, death and resurrection.

(3) By Gospel Applied I am referring to all of the NT books sans the Gospel accounts. I think that we can think of these books/letters as being amplifications, commentaries, expositions, illustrations, explanations … of the Gospel.

 

The Bible & Cat’s Cradle

When I was a kid, I used to play this game with threads that I wrapped around my fingers.  For a long time I could not remember what the name of the game was, until just now. It finally came back to me.

The name of this game is Cat’s Cradle. We have all played it.  Here is an image from the cover of an old Kurt’ Vonnegut novel that goes by the name.  Its kind of a cruddy image but I was unable to find a free stock image that was any good. Anyway…

CC

So anyway – whats the deal with the Cat’s Cradle? To me this is an image of how the Old Testament interweaves with the New Testament. The two books interconnect back and forth over and over again. So much so that in order to understand the one book, you need to understand the other book as a well.

~ As Christmas approaches this will be particularly prominent. Around this time, we are often taken back to the virgin birth passages of Isaiah and also the Suffering Servant passages of Isaiah. We are also taken back to the Messianic hope theme of the OT when we look at Simeon and Anna. And so on and on. It may not hurt to do some extra reading and see how various themes are threaded across the whole Bible.

Linkage:
1) Cat’s Cradle – Google Image Database
2) The Telescoping of Prophecy by Dr. Winfried Corduan