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God Speaks Out Against the Nation – Amos 3:1, 2

hebrew-scrollIt is amazing how self-critical the Hebrew Scriptures are. They do not glorify the nation or it’s heroes. The nation’s critics were remembered — they were remembered as prophets who told them, in advance, of the danger that lay ahead for them. The Scriptures really aren’t an exercise in glorifying the nation and it’s people and it’s leaders. It isn’t really an exercise in bragging about their greatness. One would naturally expect that it would be. It is their national literature, after all — in which they found their identity. They copied and re-copied it. They kept it safe. They recited it and memorized it.

They remembered the words of the prophets. They remembered: even though the prophets had preached a message of judgement against them, criticized the way they practiced their own religion, exposed their evil and selfish motives.  (more…)

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The God Who Cannot Be Manipulated – Psalm 115:2-8

Hebrew_bible_4I believe Psalm 115 was written in the light of the memories of the nation’s defeat and exile. It may be that this was a Psalm that was part of the worship of the Second Temple, after Israel was restored as a nation. Of course, I have no way of knowing this. But, it appears to me from the language and sentiments of this Psalm, that this arises from a nation that has known defeat.

Israel was brought low. They knew themselves to be God’s people, but they now know that their status of being the “favored of God” was no guarantee against failure and defeat and suffering. Their connection with God did not save them from misfortune. They broke the covenant and they were brought low. (more…)

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To the Saints – Colossians 1:2

paul-iconIn the simple, stock opening with which this letter begins, we already gain insight into Paul’s sense of calling and vocation. We see his conception of who he is, and what he knows his task in life to be.

As he turns to the next part of his greeting — again nothing unusual here at all — he expresses his view of who the Colossian Christians are.

(Colossians 1:2)
τοῖς ἐν Κολοσσαῖς ἁγίοις καὶ πιστοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν.
“…to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” (NASB).

They are: “saints (who are) in Colossae” and “faithful brothers in Christ.” (more…)

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