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The Bronze Serpent – Numbers 21:4-9

Hebrew_bible_4The Old Testament is a wonderful gift from God to us. It is wonderful that we have this record — so ancient, so fascinating. These were the Scriptures of the earliest Christians — who turned to them to understand what God had done in their midst in Christ. It was the context of these Scriptures in which Jesus himself had taught — to a community shaped by it’s stories and laws and prophecies and poetry.

And if anything is central to the Old Testament itself, it is the first five books.

No doubt the material we currently know as the books of Moses (or the Pentateuch, or the Torah — that is, Genesis through Deuteronomy) were assembled and edited in the period of Israel’s exile in Babylon — they became especially valuable to the people in the times of the exile and then the re-establishment of the nation — they served to teach the people who they were in the light of their history as the people of YHWH. But, the stories themselves go back much further. The people of Israel knew themselves to be a nation that had been delivered by God from Egypt — and the exile, no doubt served as a time to gather those stories together. (more…)

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The Way of Blessedness – Psalm 1:1-3

Hebrew-MS-PsalmsFirst, a little recap. If Psalm 1 is the introduction to the whole book of Psalms, then I am here invited into a life of blessedness: the very first word of the whole book is the word “blessed” (אַשְׁרֵי).

The word signifies: “a heightened state of happiness and joy, implying very favorable circumstances, often resulting from the kind acts of God.” (Hebrew/Aramaic to English Dictionary and Index to the NIV Old Testament from Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance ed. by Edward W. Goodrick, John R. Kohlenberger III, and James A. Swanson. Copyright ©1999, 1990 by the Zondervan Corporation Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530 All rights reserved. Electronic text prepared by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 1.0)

And the Psalm says (verse 1):

אַשְׁרֵי־הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר לֹא הָלַךְ בַּעֲצַת רְשָׁעִים וּבְדֶרֶךְ חַטָּאִים לֹא עָמָד וּבְמוֹשַׁב לֵצִים לֹא יָשָׁב

“How blessed is the [person] who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” (more…)

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