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God Is a Fool for Love

“Moses said, ‘Show me your glory, I pray.’ And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The LORD’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.'” — Exodus 33:18, 19 NRSV.

“At this momoses and the glory of the lordment, it is not Moses the religious-political leader of Israel speaking, but Moses the mystic, the ardent lover of God. The public need has been met: God has promised twice already to go up with the people into the Promised Land. You would think Moses would be satisfied, but instead he presses for one more thing: a favor for himself alone, a glimpse of God’s exquisite beauty. Of course God is flattered. Who would not be thrilled to know that a lover through many years and many domestic crises still finds one desirable, desirable just for oneself, when the children’s needs have been met and there is nothing to be sought or gained but the simple joy of intimacy? It is only in that request for a private revelation that God feels the purity of Moses’ love. Of course God capitulates, happily, even to the point of indignity. For as the whole Bible makes undeniably clear, God is a perfect fool for love — fool enough even to become human, to live and love as we do, and to weep because he loves; fool enough to suffer and die on a cross.”

— Ellen F. Davis, Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament

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An Unstable Nation – Amos 7:7-17

The verses that come before this set the scene. The opening verses of this chapter remind us that Amos was a man of prayer. He was an intercessor. He was not a politician. He was not even what we might call a “social critic.” Nor did he come with some sort of political solution to the problems of Israel. He spoke the word God had given him. His saw the inequities and sins of the northern kingdom (called Israel or Ephraim). But, when he saw the prospect of destruction, he prayed for the people: “Sovereign Lord, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!”

A prophet is a person of prayer. A prophet is a person who desires mercy. A prophet is a person who speaks the truth.

Twice Amos has seen a vision of destruction for the northern kingdom of Israel. Twice he has called out to God for mercy. This sets the scene for the image that is introduced now: (more…)

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A Prophet at Prayer – Amos 7:1-6

Here we see the prophet Amos at prayer. Most often, in the book of Amos, we hear the prophet’s voice denouncing the nations and predicting their coming doom. Here we see him at prayer for the nation of Israel — pleading for them to be spared.

We often find mixed emotions among the prophets — I think of it particularly with Jeremiah, sometimes called the weeping prophet. In Jeremiah’s prophecies we find prophetic denunciations mixed with genuine expressions of sorrow for the fate of the nation.

Here we see Amos the intercessor praying that the nation of Israel will not be completely destroyed.

These verses introduce us to the record of four visions of the prophet Amos. They are: (more…)

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John Oswalt on “Being Holy”

Today I share with you this excellent presentation by Dr. John Oswalt, distinguished visiting professor of Old Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, on “Being Holy.”

Dr. Oswalt’s full bio can be found here: Dr. John Oswalt. As it says there: “[Dr.] Oswalt is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, with membership in the Kentucky Annual Conference. He has served as a part-time pastor to congregations in New England and Kentucky, and is a frequent speaker in conferences, camps and local churches.”

This video is an early entry in the ongoing “Seven Minute Seminary” series, from the Asbury Seedbed. You can find many more of these videos here: SeedBed. All of these are interesting — and I (not being a big fan of videos in general) especially appreciate the time limit.

In 7 minutes and 42 seconds Dr. Oswalt does a masterful job of explaining what the Bible means when it calls us to live a holy life. I couldn’t have done better myself.

 

 

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Nick Quient: Perfecting Holiness and the Promises of God: A Brief Exegesis of 2 Cor 7:1

Nicholas Quient

Guest blog by Nicholas Quient. Nick — along with his wife Allison — blogs at Split/Frame of Reference. He is an MAT student at Fuller Theological Seminary (New Testament; Biblical Languages). He is a graduate of Biola University (BA: Screenwriting; Biblical Studies). He hopes to pursue a Ph.D in New Testament upon graduation. His interests include (and are not limited to) the Apostle Paul, Second Temple Judaism, textual criticism and Greek. Allison is a Ph.D student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Systematic Theology & New Testament. She is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Advanced M.Div) and Biola University (BA: Biblical and Theological Studies). Her interests include bridging the gap between biblical studies and systematic theology, the formation of the biblical canon, theology of gender, apologetics, and politics. Here is one of Allison’s recent posts: Piercing the Veil: Spiritual Gifts, Mystical Experiences and A Relationship With God. They are both bloggers well worth reading. They also have a podcast.

Nick alerted me to this article on Twitter, and I appreciate his exegetical reflections. The article contains a nice summary statement toward the end. (more…)

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Ingenuity Comes from God

From my daily Bible reading:

IF“And you shall speak to all who have ability, whom I have endowed with skill, that they make Aaron’s vestments to consecrate him for my priesthood.” — Exodus 28:3 NRSV.

Comments by Adam Clarke (17601832) in his Bible commentary:

“So we find that ingenuity in arts and sciences, even those of the ornamental kind, comes from God. It is not intimated here that these persons were filled with the spirit of wisdom for this purpose only; for the direction to Moses is, to select those whom he found to be expert artists, and those who were such, God shows by these words, had derived their knowledge from himself. (more…)

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Obedience and Faith

From my daily Bible reading:

IF“The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”” — Exodus 24:12 NRSV.

“Obedience and faith are tightly bound together. Here, the Israelites, having been freed from slavery by God’s gracious action, trust God as their God and pledge to live out that trust by obeying God’s commands. Obedience, like faith, is a response to what God has already done for us. It is the evidence of our love toward God (2 John 6). Obedience is living “by faith” (2 Cor 5:7), and “faith working through love”(Gal 5:6). There is no real faith without obedience, and no real obedience without faith. Disobedience springs from a lack of trust in God—a lack of faith. We disobey when we trust in things, in others, or in ourselves and act accordingly. Obedience, on the other hand, is visible faith—a testimony to God’s reign. Obedience is God’s will being done by us “on earth as it’s done in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10).”

— Comments from The Wesley Study Bible.

 

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God Speaks From the Burning Bush

From my daily Bible reading:

IF“Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”” — Exodus 3:3-5 NRSV. 

“Despite Moses’ earlier failures and exile in Midian, Moses encounters God on God’s mountain in the form of a fiery bush. God declares the intent to deliver Israel from Egypt and commissions Moses as ambassador. This encounter is powerful and dynamic as Moses meets the real presence of the God of Israel. Yet the narrative is relational and conversational. The action moves forward in response to Moses’ five objections about God’s commissioning him. God remains resolute in his calling of Moses, but the dialogue displays patience with Moses. The implication is clear: the God of Israel is profoundly relational. God desires vital relationships with God’s people. Part of God’s relational character is self-giving nature: God reveals elements of his character and nature in response to Moses’ inquiries. Moreover, this text offers reflection on the nature of a divine call. Moses is needed for the service of God. There will be profound loss in God’s plan without Moses, but God’s call here is not primarily coercive” (more…)

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God Heard Their Groaning

From my daily Bible reading:

IFAfter a long time the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them.” — Exodus 2:23-25 NRSV.

“God remembered his covenant. God’s covenant is God’s engagement; he had promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give their posterity a land flowing with milk and honey, &c. They are now under the most oppressive bondage, and this was the most proper time for God to show them his mercy and power in fulfilling his promise. This is all that is meant by God’s remembering his covenant, for it was now that he began to give it its effect.” (more…)

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Mercy, Not Sacrifice

From my daily Bible reading:

IFBut when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”” — Matthew 9:12-13 NRSV.

They that be whole need not a physician. A common proverb, which none could either misunderstand or misapply. Of it the reader may make the following use:—1. Jesus Christ represents himself here as the sovereign Physician of souls. 2. That all stand in need of his healing power. 3. That men must acknowledge their spiritual maladies, and the need they have of his mercy, in order to be healed by him. 4. That it is the most inveterate and dangerous disease the soul can be afflicted with to imagine itself whole, when the sting of death, which is sin, has pierced it through in every part, infusing its poison every where. (more…)

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The Sermon on the Mount

From my daily Bible reading:

IF“Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching,  for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.” —  Matthew 7:28-29 NRSV.

“Wesley preached extensively on the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5–7), calling the teaching of Jesus found within it “the sum of all true religion” (Sermon 21: “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount,” §I.1). The church’s history of applying the sermon to the Christian life has fallen between two positions: first, as an ethic for the kingdom of God to be fulfilled in the future heaven; and second, as a description for the way things should be now in the present church age. This dual distinction has also led some to identify with Matthew’s more spiritualized teaching of the sermon (“happy are people who are hopeless,” 5:3) and others with Luke’s more sociopolitical expression (“Happy are you who are poor,” 6:20). For John Wesley, the Sermon on the Mount was to be a backdrop for the social ethic of the New Creation, and he used it to support the Christian’s involvement in building the Kingdom of God on earth as well as in heaven.” (more…)

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Pouring Out the Soul Unto God

From my daily Bible reading:

IFAnd whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” — Matthew 6:5-6 NRSV.

“προσευχη, prayer, is compounded of προς with, and ευχη a vow, because to pray right, a man binds himself to God, as by a vow, to live to his glory, if he will grant him his grace, &c. ευχομαι signifies to pour out prayers or vows, from ευ well, and χέω, I pour out; probably alluding to the offerings or libations which were poured out before, or on the altar. A proper idea of prayer is, a pouring out of the soul unto God, as a free-will offering, solemnly and eternally dedicated to him, accompanied with the most earnest desire that it may know, love, and serve him alone. He that comes thus to God will ever be heard and blessed. Prayer is the language of dependence; he who prays not, is endeavoring to live independently of God: this was the first curse, and continues to be the great curse of mankind. In the beginning, Satan said, Eat this fruit; ye shall then be as God; i. e. ye shall be independent: the man hearkened to his voice, sin entered into the world, and notwithstanding the full manifestation of the deception, the ruinous system is still pursued; man will, if possible, live independently of God; hence he either prays not at all, or uses the language without the spirit of prayer. (more…)

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Love Your Enemies

From my daily Bible reading:

IF“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” — Matthew 5:43-48 NRSV.

Love your enemies. This is the most sublime piece of morality ever given to man. Has it appeared unreasonable and absurd to some? It has. And why? Because it is natural to man to avenge himself, and plague those who plague him; and he will ever find abundant excuse for his conduct, in the repeated evils he receives from others; for men are naturally hostile to each other. Jesus Christ design’s to make men happy. Now he is necessarily miserable who hates another. Our Lord prohibits that only which, from its nature, is opposed to man’s happiness. This is therefore one of the most reasonable precepts in the universe. But who can obey it? None but he who has the mind of Christ. But I have it not. Seek it from God; it is that kingdom of heaven which Christ came to establish upon earth. See on chap. iii. 2. This one precept is a sufficient proof of the holiness of the Gospel, and of the truth of the Christian religion. Every false religion flatters man, and accommodates itself to his pride and his passions. None but God could have imposed a yoke so contrary to self-love; and nothing but the supreme eternal love can enable men to practice a precept so insupportable to corrupt nature. Sentiments like this are found among Asiatic writers, and in select cases were strongly applied; but as a general command this was never given by them, or any other people. It is not an absolute command in any of the books which they consider to be Divinely inspired.” (more…)

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Jesus’ Baptism

From my daily Bible Reading: 

IFThen Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.” — Matthew 3:13-15 NRSV.

“John is immediately aware of Jesus’ identity and insists on his own inferiority (v. 14). He acknowledges the honor of Jesus and thereby maintains his own honor. Although this major event (i.e., Jesus’ baptism) does not “fulfill” Scripture, it is a fulfillment of “righteousness,” a term that can also be translated as “justice,” a major theme in Matthew (5:6, 10, 20; 6:1, 33). This is no routine baptism (v. 16); revelatory signs accompany it, including open heavens and the Spirit’s descent (implying God’s own approval of Jesus). It is not clear here that anyone other than Jesus witnesses the Spirit’s descent, but the announcement of the heavenly voice is in the third person, suggesting a wider audience (v. 17). Note that God acknowledges Jesus as “my Son” in preparation for the testing of Jesus as Son of God (4:1–11).” (more…)

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A Savior

From my daily Bible reading:

IFShe will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” — Matthew 1:21 (NRSV).

JESUS. The same as Joshua, יהושע Yehoshua, from ישע yasha, he saved, delivered, put in a state of safety. See on Exod. xiii. 9; Num. xiii. 16….

This shall be his great business in the world: the great errand on which he is come, viz. to make an atonement for, and to destroy, sin: deliverance from all the power, guilt, and pollution of sin, is the privilege of every believer in Christ Jesus. Less than this is not spoken of in the Gospel; and less than this would be unbecoming the Gospel. The perfection of the Gospel system is not that it makes allowances for sin, but that it makes an atonement for it: not that it tolerates sin, but that it destroys it.

— Comments by Adam Clarke (1762-1832).

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