Thursday, 1 December 2016

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Gen 41b Devotional

When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do.” (Genesis 41:55)
Joseph had spent 13 years (cf. Genesis 37:2, 41:46) being stolen out of the promised land of the Hebrews, away from his beloved father and his family. He had been enslaved, tempted, abused, thrown into jail and forgotten. Yet all he had done was consistently looked out for the welfare and blessing of others.
Now exalted to power, Joseph’s character still doesn’t change. The light that shined, shined in the darkness and now shines in the spotlight.
Moses then has only one instruction for the whole world:
“Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do.”
Go to Joseph, do whatever he says! Well of course! Where else could we find such a gifted administrator, able to be a blessing to all even in the most unfortunate of circumstances? In his own household, he looked out for his older brothers. In Potiphar’s household he did so well that Potiphar worried for nothing except what choice of food he would have that day. In the prison, the keeper of the jail trusted him so much that all the other important prisoners were kept under his care. Now even Pharaoh recognizes such administrative gifts!
Go to Joseph, do whatever he says! Well of course! Where else could we find such a compassionate ruler? Despite the temptations and slavery he did things that only benefitted Potiphar and even his wife. In the jail – even with the agony of being unjustly imprisoned – he still goes so gently to his fellow prisoners and says, “Why are you upset?” (Genesis 40:7). Their interests outweigh his own. Even after being forgotten, all he thinks about is preserving the Egyptians from death (Gen 41:36).
Go to Joseph, do whatever he says!
And yet of course, Joseph is just a picture of the priestly king Jesus, who made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow (cf. Genesis 41:43), in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:7-11)
Jesus is the one who is the compassionate prince of all the earth; go to Him, do what He says! Imagine then, Joseph being just a pale shadow of the effective administrator that is Christ. Imagine then, Joseph just having a small fraction of Jesus’ compassion and passion for the well-being of others. If the whole earth could go to Joseph and trust him, how much more then should we not go to Jesus!
Why are you hesitant to go? Do you fear He does not know what to do for you in your situation? Fear not! Even in terrible temptation, in cruel suffering and in death He has kept a steady hand! Why are you hesitant to turn to Him daily? Do you fear that He will not understand, He will not sympathize or empathize with you? Do you fear He may be harsh to you? Fear not! He has such tender care for those whose faces are downcast and weary, nothing but gentleness for the heavy laden – a bruised reed He will not break, a smoking flax He will not quench. Fear not! Expect nothing but tender care and total provision for all our needs from Him – yet we must do whatever He says!
Mary, the mother of Jesus knew this well when, during that wedding at Cana, they ran out of wine, and she said: “Whatever He says, do” (John 2:5). And what happened when the servants did what Jesus said? Wine came – abundant wine, 210 litres of the finest wine – and there was joy, there was feasting, the once dry party sprang to life! That’s what happens when we go to Jesus and do what He says: blessings overflow to all – all are richly blessed! In Him and only in Him do the blessings of Abraham spread to all nations! Just like at Potiphar’s house, just like in the prison, just like for ancient Egypt and for that clever old Pharaoh who saw that “in this one is the Spirit of God” (cf. Genesis 41.38).
But our old friends, Jacob and sons, have yet to learn this lesson. And so the story continues…

Monday, 24 February 2014

Gen 41a Devotional

Isn’t that a question that we ask from time to time… especially when things aren’t going our way?
I should be in charge of things – I’d make things better.
Yet that is the very identity of the children of Abraham – they were meant to be the rulers of the earth. Jacob was given this very specific promise:
And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” (Genesis 35:11-12)
God’s people are destined to rule the land. And yet when the 11 sons of Israel were in charge, we’ve already seen that they were more selfish tyrants than kindly princes.
Indeed all too often, when we are given ‘power and wealth’, we tend to use it for personal gain and benefit at the expense of others. One man did that very thing during Jesus’ time….
“The land of a rich man produced plentifully and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)
Joseph on the other hand, since the very beginning seems to have been seeking the welfare of his brothers (Gen 37:14). After he was sold into Egypt, he suffered – but he brought prosperity to the whole household of Potiphar (Gen 39:5). Even when this innocent servant was betrayed and thrown into the prison – still his primary concern was for the wellbeing of others (Gen 40:4-7).
So then, what then would this man do if he could rule the world?
Now therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt….so that the land may not perish through the famine.” (Genesis 41:33-36)
Even the country that had caused him nothing but slavery and discrimination – he still seeks their welfare, their benefit, their blessing. The rich man in Jesus’ parable built storehouses for himself and was destroyed. Joseph plans to build storehouses for others and is exalted.
Yet in all this Joseph acts this way not just because he’s a ‘good person’ or a ‘gifted administrator’ but, as Jesus interprets, he is ‘rich towards God’: he is fiercely loyal to who God is and vehemently trusting upon His promises – that is the sole cause of such generous and servant-hearted behaviour.
Truly if any man deserves to rule the world, it is this one.
And yet, as we have well seen, this is a picture of Christ. And Christ is the Man who not only sympathizes with those who suffer, but ends up ruling the nations seeking only the welfare and blessing of all – even those who once despised Him. He is our benevolent King.
If we believe that – what then should our response be, especially in times of difficulty, trouble or confusion?
Moses will tell us very soon…

Gen 40 Devotional

Joseph had been destined for royalty since he was 17 years old. The two dreams of ruling and reigning over his family (Gen 37:5-10) still continued to play in the back of his mind. He never lost sight of them, and as far as he was concerned, this was a prophecy given to him by the Living God (Gen 40:8).
Yet when he first went to his brothers to seek the welfare of those wayward shepherds (Gen 37:14), they could not accept the fact that he would rule over them. Why would they? He was just their annoying little brother.
More than that, the current sons of Jacob were all utterly selfish in their nature. They lived according to the flesh. When Judah had opportunity, we can see that all he desired was his own welfare – selling his brother for money (Gen 37:26), leaving his brothers and mourning father to fend for themselves (Gen 38:1), marrying a wife explicitly condemned by the previous patriarchs (Gen 28:1, 38:2) and sleeping with what he thought was a prostitute after his wife died (Gen 38:15-16).
If Joseph would be the same, then he would be a horrible king. No wonder they didn’t want anyone ruling over them!
But as Joseph gets carried away into Egypt to become a slave, his character is revealed: wherever he goes – first into the household of slaves – he seeks the welfare of others. All he does blesses all those around him (Gen 39:5). Secondly he gets thrown into the pit – the innocent is punished for no reason (Gen 40:15) – and yet still he seeks to serve his fellow prisoners.
When two of his fellow inmates look troubled (Gen 40:6), look at his compassion for these Egyptians – the race that had so unjustly treated him.
In the midst of his suffering, this future prince learns two things, as Pastor Steven mentioned: he learns how to be a faithful administrator of households and peoples in all situations; and secondly, he learns how to empathize with the weak – for he himself is beset with weakness. He learns to be a merciful and compassionate priest to others – ministering to their needs, caring for their wellbeing.
He never seeks to serve himself, he never desires to pursue his own fleshly interests (think of what it took to resist Potiphar’s wife day after day as a teenager!). Surely one could excuse him for being tempted to do so after two betrayals (one by the brothers and a second by Potiphar’s family) – not to mention one more to come when the cupbearer forgets about him for two years (Gen 40:23)! But even then he does not ever seek his own interest but continues to put the interests of others as priority. And most importantly, he continues to put his faith in God’s providence and promises.
…Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what He had said came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. (Psalm 105:17-19)
His faith was tested. It never wavered but grew stronger in the midst of continuing affliction and betrayal.
One might say that this future prince became perfect through suffering.
Now, Joseph is truly ready to rule as a compassionate Priestly King, who can bring blessing to all in the midst of their weakness.
What then would be an appropriate response if one such as this came to seek our welfare? Came to rule over us? Well… Moses will give us an answer in the coming chapters.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Gen 39 Devotional

Blessed to be a Blessing?

In our last meditation, we considered that God was going to bless the nation of Israel, starting with Abraham so that they could be a blessing to others (Gen 12).

Yet as we noticed, Judah and his brothers seemed to utilize the blessings and privileges given to the fledgling nation of Israel and abused them for their own selfish gain – turning more into wild animals (Gen 37:23) than benevolent princes.

So how do we solve a problem like Judah?

Well, Moses gives us some clues, pointing at the end of Gen 38, once again to the birth of the promised seed (Gen 3:15) – the one who would break out against (or into) this decaying race, not to destroy them – but bring the dawn (Gen 38:28-30).

And then immediately, we are told of Joseph’s descent into Egypt (Gen 39:1). Unlike Judah, he is forced into this descent and becomes a slave – a servant. That is his new identity, no longer the royal son.

But yet through his service, Joseph becomes a tremendous blessing to everyone around him (Gen 39:2-6). In fact, as Tze-Ming mentioned, ALL benefit when Joseph is in charge. ALL benefit through the suffering and humiliation of this son, who was beloved by his father (including Potiphar and wife!).

Ironically, Joseph’s continual faithfulness to God and Potiphar only leads to more pain on himself. Joseph’s life continues to get worse – he gets harassed, tempted, thrown into jail, left to rot. Yet it is THROUGH his betrayal, his temptation, his trials, his wounds - that others benefit. Each level of his descent leads to greater levels of sustained blessing to others.

Joseph is not blessed to be a blessing. He is cursed to be a blessing.

Strange as it seems, God is in the background of all this, God is the one who orchestrated his descent, his suffering service, his humiliation. It is God that chooses to afflict him – and it is God that channels the blessings to others through his misery.

So then, how will the nations be blessed? How do we solve the hypocrisy of Israel?

The two questions are related. It is all found through this One – the Suffering Servant. And so Moses’s biography of Jesus Christ continues…

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)


If you wish to be blessed – all you have to do is be under His Rule, His Household. The primary application here is not that God will make you suffer to the extent that Joseph did, not that you have to resist temptation to his level, but rather that the Chosen One will suffer and resist on your behalf. Trust Him, let Him rule your life and you will be blessed – God will work in all things for your good.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

How do you solve a problem like Judah?

How do you solve a problem like Judah?

Blessed to be a blessing to others.

That was the function of the nation of Israel from the very beginning, all the way since the call of Abraham in Genesis 12. They were meant to be the great family that shows God’s goodness to all the other families in the earth – drawing all men to Him.

But by the time we get to the sons of Jacob, 3 generations later, their identity as the blessed nation is barely recognizable.

In Genesis 34, the sons of Jacob end up using their privileged position as future heirs of Canaan to destroy and pillage the city of Shechem – making them a stink to the surrounding nations (34:30).

And in Genesis 37, we see that they are irresponsible shepherds rather than sacrificial caretakers. When their younger brother tries to point that out to them, they hate him and come upon him to kill him like a pack of wild dogs, skinning him of that beautiful coat – covering it in blood. Indeed some ‘wild beast’ devoured him – the wild beast that is the current nation of Israel.

Things get even worse in Genesis 38, exemplified through the youngest son of Leah – Judah. Judah has already portrayed himself to be more interested in money than in the well-being of his brother Joseph. And now by leaving his brothers (38:1), he enters deep into Canaan, intermarrying with their women – mimicking his uncle Esau.

His sons amplify his attitude. Onan, as Tze-Ming reminded us on Sunday, spills his semen on the ground because he’s acting selfishly to protect his own self-interests. He wants the double portion of the inheritance of the firstborn for himself. Judah blames Tamar for all that mess instead of seeing his own wickedness.

The result of all this is that Tamar comes up with a plan to have children through her father’s desires – indicating she must have known he would be up for sleeping with prostitutes. She didn’t even have to get him drunk, as in the story of Lot and his daughters.

The irony of all this is that Judah gets so angry when he hears about the fact that Tamar has been sexually immoral – so much so that he wants to burn her (38:24).

So on one hand, Judah has no qualms about pillaging, murder, slavery, fornication and deceit (though keeping face is important to him – 34:23). But on the other hand, claims to be righteous (38:26) and insistent on certain religious practises (34:14, 38:8).

This whole nation of Israel at this moment seems to be full of contradictions. Full of moral statements and religious talk – yet highly self-seeking and fleshly in their behaviour.

Judah has shown us that these sons of Jacob have indeed embraced their place as rulers of Canaan (they certainly act like tyrants) – but have turned out to be Class A hypocrites.

Now that’s a problem.

If the generations of Israel continue this way, God’s goodness will never be known by all the nations. Indeed His name would be dragged into the mud by such twisted and perverse behaviour.

So, how do you solve a problem like Judah? In fact how do you turn a hypocritical nation into one filled with God’s spreading goodness?


That’s the question we must be asking as Moses continues his story…. 

Monday, 30 December 2013

Friday, 27 December 2013

Tree of knowledge

Why did God place the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden?

recently listened to a rationale that since God cannot tempt - therefore the tree must not be a temptation or a 'trial' per se - but instead something good, something designed to be a blessing - inclusive of the command to do not eat

so then if everything God does is good for His people (discipline included) - then what is the 'goodness' behind the tree?


Monday, 23 December 2013

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Retaliation & Loving the Enemy

What does He mean when He says "Your Father in heaven is Perfect"?

http://www.zionbishan.org.sg/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/2013-08-25-Kingdoms-Righteousness-Retaliation-and-Love-Pastor-Dev-Menon.mp3

Much thanks to Blackham again for the OT understanding of justice

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Salt and Light

Right... my current summary on this:

Salt burns.... but if you handle the burning, there will be peace

Light shines and exposes the darkness... but if you remain then you walk in the light

The Church wants to remain in the world and not be salt (be compromised instead of pure) - most clearly seen in Lot's wife.
To live like salt means to live as though the world is going to be judged. period.

The Church even if it wants to be pure - it often does not want to be visibly - because then we get in trouble. To live like light is to shine into someone's life so that they are set free in the midst of a world that condemns them - e.g. John 8


Thursday, 6 June 2013

How to gain a kingdom

A story of Abigail

The initial prophesy:

1 Samuel 15:27-28  7 As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore.  28 And Samuel said to him, "The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. 

So David must inherit the kingdom....  but how? There's an 'Adamic Idiot' in-charge

1 Sam 24 an opportunity:
1 Samuel 24:4  4 And the men of David said to him, "Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, 'Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.'"Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul's robe. 

But then:
1 Samuel 24:5-6   5 And afterward David's heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul's robe.  6 He said to his men, "The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD's anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD's anointed."

That's not the way to receive a kingdom

So how do you get it via submission to a stupid authority?

Here comes Abigail - the expert on submission to stupid authority - Nabal
1 Samuel 25:3  The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; he was a Calebite. 

She serves him, protects him, runs his household to his benefit - despite knowing he's a brutal idiot
Amazing she is: 1 Samuel 25:24  24 She fell at his feet and said, "On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. 

She teaches the way of submission - the way that prevents bloodguilt:
1 Samuel 25:26   26 Now then, my lord, as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, because the LORD has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal. 

David learns:
1 Samuel 25:32-33   32 And David said to Abigail, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me!  33 Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand! 

The idiot's way comes to self-destruction (by the Lord's hand):
1 Samuel 25:36-38   36 And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light.  37 In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.  38 And about ten days later the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.

And David learns this with Saul:
1 Samuel 26:11-12  11 The LORD forbid that I should put out my hand against the LORD's anointed. But take now the spear that is at his head and the jar of water, and let us go."  12 So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul's head, and they went away. No man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the LORD had fallen upon them. 

Why can he do this:
1 Samuel 26:10  10 And David said, "As the LORD lives, the LORD will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. 

Jesus of course will totally embody this- after all is He not Abigail (My Father's Joy) - the submissive One!




Sunday, 26 May 2013

IN

I finally think I get it

What 'in' means.

Simply put it means you are affected when something happens to another person, without you having to do anything at all

I.e. if your brother gets a promotion and you are genuinely happy as a result. Then you and your brother are one. However, if you are not bothered, or jealous or don't resonate with him. Then he is not in you.

Christ in us.... Tis bliss.

How do you get in someone? Through your word. The word of another must enter and remain in you... I.e. just relate until you connect ....

Friday, 17 May 2013

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The gospel of Gen 32

Jacob is a picture of Christ

In Gen 27 - we see Him take Adam's (Esau = Edom = Adam) skin and present himself to the Father - however this triggers wrath!

Gen 28-30 - The good shepherd lays his life down for His bride

Gen 32b - Jacob is the one who must propiate the wrath (note LXE translation)
Behold thy servant Jacob comes after us. For he said, I will propitiate his countenance with the gifts going before his presence, and afterwards I will behold his face, for peradventure he will accept me.

Gen 32a - he has a batallion of angels at his disposal but does not call on them

Gen 32c - instead he will wrestle in prayer (Gethsamane) to ensure 'thy will be done' - and then finally in Gen 33 - present himself to appease the wrath, saving his family

of course shadow Jacob is hopeless - but Jesus the true Jacob=> Israel - is awesome

Friday, 22 March 2013

Genesis 29-30 - the sons of Israel

Haven't really heard a decent sermon on Gen 29 or 30 before - so this is unexplored territory for me.

Basically it's part 1 of a understanding of Jacob's life story:

http://www.zionbishan.org.sg/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/2013-03-17-Envious-Wives-Pastor-Dev-Menon.mp3


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The New Testament's Theological 'Magic'

You can't escape it - all of us wonder some times how on earth the NT gets it's interpretations of what is happening in the OT - regardless of how strong an OT-NT continuity theology we have.

But I've noticed, doing in depth readings of the patriarchs - that the NT theological commentaries are extremely profound, but not un-understandable. They just need you to read the stories and discuss them with people over and over again...

Here's my current 'suppose-d' enlightenment of Jacob's faith by Hebrews 11:

Hebrews 11:21
 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, leaning (or bowing in worship) over the head of his staff.  

Now if you read the OT text - there is absolutely no mention of Jacob's staff when he did the criss-cross blessing in Gen 48 (at least not that I've seen)

Genesis 48:1-14   After this, Joseph was told, "Behold, your father is ill." So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.  2 And it was told to Jacob, "Your son Joseph has come to you." Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed.  3 And Jacob said to Joseph, "God Almighty(1 )appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me,  4 and said to me, 'Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.'  5 And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are.  6 And the children that you fathered after them shall be yours. They shall be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance.  7 As for me, when I came from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was still some distance(1 )to go to Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)."  8 When Israel saw Joseph's sons, he said, "Who are these?"  9 Joseph said to his father, "They are my sons, whom God has given me here." And he said, "Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them."  10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. So Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them.  11 And Israel said to Joseph, "I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also."  12 Then Joseph removed them from his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.  13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near him.  14 And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn). 

The criss-crossing thing we kind of can get from understanding Jacob's own blessing by Isaac - so he wants to avoid that mistake again

Yet where is the staff?

However, if we consider Jacob's entire life... we see...
1. Gen 32:10 - when he left his home all he had was his staff
2. Gen 32b - he is made to limp
3. From that we can assume - he now had to lean on his staff
4. His quotations at the end of his life - Gen 48-9 are all about Jesus as 'Shepherd'

Thus the whole dimension of his life transforms from an independent 'grasper' into one that leans, or trusts in the shepherd ....

So as he does the criss-cross blessing, the Hebrews author 'visualizes' him leaning on his staff 

So it is a profound theological deduction about his faith - written in from a deep understanding of his life and the processes he went through to become the man of faith - the great patriarch 

I'm sure if we read the OT deep enough, all the other NT quotations will become just as 'easily' visible to us

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The absolute necessity of anachronistic reading in personal narrative

In a movie, when we look at people carrying out various actions, saying various things, and we come up with our own interpretations about who they are, what they are like.

Yet later on in the plot, something key is revealed about them... And then we go... "Oh... I know what he meant know", or we begin to reinterpret what they said or did previously by what we now know.

This of course does not imply that the character has changed, but that our understanding of the character has changed.

This does not imply that those things were not already there in the text, but rather we did not see those things, until someone made it clear to us (it may have been clear to someone else)

So then the fault is with what we understand, not what is written

Accusations of "you're reading too much into it" could just as well be confessions of ignorance or a lack of depth of relationship with Christ

No?

Friday, 15 February 2013

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Hebrews 13b

Cheesy attempt at a video sermon for people at home on NYE

http://vimeo.com/zionbishan/31dec

Monday, 3 December 2012

Sinai versus Canaan

The goal of the Exodus on one hand must be Sinai - to meet with God
Yet Sinai is only a stopover then they head to Canaan - so what's the deal?

Well if we take 'promised rest' to be defined as an 'enjoyable relationship'
then this may make sense

At Sinai - they are scared of God, and God shows His fury at them - what they need of course is a mediator and prophet - played by Moses

But it is this mediator also plays the role of priest - he must make the people acceptable to God
On one hand He offers gifts & sacrifices for them
but on the other - He must make the people acceptable (holy) to God

thus the wilderness is the process of the prophet/priest making the people holy to God - i.e. bringing them from a 'distanced' meeting with God into an 'enjoyable permanent relationship' with God
the process of stripping away and a different kind of feeding

so the goal is not only are they 'ready' to enter Canaan - but looking forward to a restful relationships with God - the desire of all that 'striving' (cf Heb 4)

the wilderness of course is risky and painful business - and it causes many to long to go back to being 'alone' suffering in Egypt - basically the desire for bachelorhood once again

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Hebrews Sermons

2 more sermons from the book of Hebrews

Hebrews 12- What does it mean to have a Father who loves you
http://www.zionbishan.org.sg/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/2012-11-18-Fatherly-Discipline-Pastor-Dev-Menon.mp3

Final Sermon - an attempt to summarise the whole book of Hebrews in 15min + some Heb 13 bits:
http://www.zionbishan.org.sg/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/2012-11-25-No-Lasting-City-Pastor-Dev-Menon.mp3

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Spurgeon on Psalm 45

"Some see here Solomon and Pharaoh’s daughter only – they are short-sighted. Others see Solomon and Christ – they are cross-eyed. Well-focused spiritual eyes see here Jesus only." Got this off Richard Brooks, who preached a sermon series on Psalm 45. The title of the first one on verse 1 - A Heart Full of Christ - is enough to make you want to listen to the whole series!

http://www.thedalesec.org.uk/sermons_Psalm_45.htm

He also has a commentary on the Song of Songs published by Christian Focus.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Bible

A sermon on trying to get to grips with the discipline of reading and studying the Bible:

http://www.zionbishan.org.sg/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/2012-10-14-Study-Pastor-Dev-Menon.mp3

Monday, 8 October 2012

Being like Jesus when suffering for doing good

Preached on 1 Peter 2:18-25 yesterday at church and ruffled a few feathers.
http://www.emmanuelplymouth.co.uk/resources-sermons/sermons-talks/?sermon_id=241

Partly because I implied that God was not about giving people what they deserve at all, and that on the contrary, He's actually determined to give us what we don't deserve - by punishing Jesus for our sins and giving us His righteousness.

More so because I said Peter was very specific in how we are called to follow Jesus' example in suffering for doing good. i.e in case we didn't know how to apply this, Peter says, when insulted, don't retaliate; when suffering unjustly, don't threaten back. Just keep quiet all the way just as Jesus did - no tribunals, or threatening to speak to the manager etc. Did I go too far?

What about Paul who demanded to be escorted out publicly after being persecuted? But then it's interesting that he doesn't seem to protest whenever he's persecuted or beaten up. It's only after he's been cleared of wrongdoing, which he did not ask or fight for, that he wants a public vindication.

Or when he appealed to Caesar? Maybe this was part of his plan to get to Rome - i.e. he wasn't seeking vindication since he could've been freed, but only looking to go and preach Jesus there?


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

40 Days

Jesus fasts 40 days to let us know that He will hold His own body voluntarily to the cross for our sakes.

Hebrews 10b sermon

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God"

http://www.zionbishan.org.sg/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/2012-09-16-Stamina-to-Go-On-Pastor-Dev-Menon.mp3

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The incarnation of man

We all know that One reason Jesus became flesh was to show us that He really understood us, hence He is qualified to be a priest.

Yet in our salvation, we are invited to be drawn into His life, particularly through His earthly life.

Thus what must motivate us in our actions is not so much 'what do I need to do to be like Jesus' or WWJD in each and every situation, but rather how can I know Jesus more deeply and intimately, in particular, how can I experience the Father's love for me in and through Christ.

So the church is invited to become like the true man, born again in the flesh if you like, that we may participate in the divine nature even when in the flesh, and there is no other means than to imitate Christ.

Idolatry

Coveteousness, which is idolatry (Col 3:5)

Idol worship is not different in the OT than the NT,
that would be to say that we have fundamentally improved in the human race
However, if the sinful nature remains the same (in fact, probably gets worse)
Then we must be just as prone to idolatry as they were

So is it that the direction of idol-worship has changed from images of wood and stone to more intangible things?
Not really, because what was at the goal of idolatry?

1 Cor 10:7 - "Eating, Drinking & Playing" - was the source of the creation of the 'gods that delivered us out of Egypt'

An idol, though not having any existence, is simply humanities selfish usage of another being or person to achieve ones own flesh desires

Thus to even re-direct our focus on the Living God, yet to have these desires - makes Him the chief idol
more here - http://christthetruth.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/idolising-idolatry/

So then the only solution is a change in desires. Now that is impossible to be wrought from within ourselves. It can only be done by someone else externally changing what we most fundamentally want. And that someone must Himself be desirable above those things.

Thus the only application of idolatry, must be to bring people into situations (the church) where a desirable God is publicly preached and presented - or 'held out' to be taken up into oneself.


Saturday, 1 September 2012

Royal Priesthood

Compare Ex 19 with 1 Peter 2 then with Heb 7

The Royal Priesthood is of the Melchizedek order not the Levitical order.

Therefore what does it mean got the church to be royal priests after the order of Melchizedek and NOT Levi??

Eternal High Priest

Was still struggling with getting to grips with why it is a big deal that Jesus is a high priest FOREVER

The illustration given is usually what if you had a pastor who never died. And I suppose that makes some sense

But what really seemed to make more sense was the wedding vows:

I take you to be my lawful wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part...

Now imagine if you had a husband who removed the clause in that vow:

I take you to be my lawful wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, FOREVER

Now you know that once you are in a relationship, transformation happens. You become more and more like each other. 5 years later, you are closer. If the relationship goes well, 50 years later you are closer, if still well, 5000 years later imagine it... 500000 years late imagine the richness, the closeness..

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25 ESV)

Jesus is the sole basis of drawing near to God, and that is still His eternal job...

Monday, 27 August 2012

Laying on of hands

One might ask how could God's power be passed through human hands?

The same way the very Word of God is passes through human lips

The same way the gospel of Jesus is passed through human feet

Etc...

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Fasting

John Wesley said there are 5 things which God will definitely meet you in, as He promised

Scripture, prayer, fasting, Christian conversation, sacrament

I'm now rather convinced that regular fasting is not really about praying better. But rather to come close to feeling what Jesus felt.

Matt 6 implies that regular fasting should be done on normal 'working days'. Meaning, we learn to serve others in our affliction. We identify with our self-sacrificial Lord. Others benefit while we suffer.

Isn't that knowing Jesus better?
As much as prayer transforms the prayer as they know And relate to God better, fasting and giving must surely do the same.

What do you think?

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Oath

We know the promise precedes the law, but Hebrews 7 tells us that the oath proceeds it.

The oath as in Heb 6, is to confirm the promise.

Thus the law comes in between the promised work of Christ and the oath which cements His work into eternity, given after Jesus sat down. The law is but a temporary blip between 2 unchangeable things.

It is then to our comfort that the oath confirms that Jesus blood once shed for all continues to be eternally effective for us. His priestly work continues till this very day.

"I have sworn by myself you are a priest forever..."

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Use your selfishness

Here's a random thought...

We know our hearts are deceitful above all things... thus no matter how 'noble' or 'servant-hearted' we think we are, usually there are hidden motives behind it... that's just a fact.

So we should really stop trying to be 'good people', and do what the Lord does - use our sins against ourselves

Thus instead of focusing on things like how much we serve one another, or how much we love our neighbour, or what can we do for others... blah blah... We should be absolutely selfish in a desire to know Jesus for ourselves - at the expense of anyone and anything

For it is only in this 'sin-filled' pursuit, that Jesus then directs us to all the 'means' of knowing Him in our service to others.... "If you love me... Feed my sheep".

When our driving force is wanting to selfishly obtain Jesus and all His ten thousand charms for ourselves, we can be sure that Jesus will direct us to do all the things we need to do during this passing away age..

It will also make sure that we don't do the one thing that always gets in the way of our relations with others - listening (fearing) the voice of men... cos we're actually genuinely admitting we're not too interested in their praises or plans.. well not in any serious way of course

Stick with Jesus in and through our wickedness, and He will bring it all to good - and then the glory will inevitably only be His

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Jesus Sat Down

Moving on from the ascension...

Jesus hands over His blood, then sits down
Time for the doctrine of 'sitting down' (from Hebrews):

1. A new kingdom is established - with Jesus as King
2. The old age is triggered to begin passing away (for the old is rendered obsolete when the new is enacted)
3. The new kingdom is categorised by sitting down - i.e. rest, rather than by toilsome labour
4. The new kingdom is one where the Greater serves the Lesser (the Father now begins to serve the Son)
5. The one who sits down is not a tyrant, but a gentle high priest - in the order of Melchizedek - it is the beginning of the rule of the Priest-King - who characterises the nature of that age
6. The one who sits down is God-Man - enacted the beginning of the 'third way' of life
7. The passing of the old kingdom, triggers the 'journey' of the church - one cannot stand still in this age - move forward, or die - exit the camp, and pass through the waters of death or the Egyptians will skewer you
8. The saints are those who are heading for the new invisible city - one of permanence - the ones who are waiting for Him to be revealed

anything else?

Dev

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Hebrews

I suggest that Hebrews is do named because it is a letter to the 'naturalised' church. That is to say those who growing up in a Christian/Jewish culture who no longer choose to move forward to the new city and have chosen to stand still - thus they are 'Hebrews'

The counter doctrine to get ppl moving is the doctrine of Jesus sitting down

Hebrews 4 sermon

http://www.zionbishan.org.sg/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/2012-07-22-Entering-the-Rest-Dev-Menon.mp3

What could it mean to enter that rest ?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Friday, 29 June 2012

Trinitarian Essence is Love

From here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/06/28/the-page-that-changed-my-life-owen-strachan/


Jonathan Edwards:
God's Trinitarian essence is love. God's purpose in creating a universe in which sin is permitted must be to communicate that love to creatures. The highest or most beautiful love is sacrificial love for the undeserving. Those---ultimately the vast majority of humans---who are given eyes to see that ineffable beauty will be enthralled by it. They will see the beauty of a universe in which unsentimental love triumphs over real evil. They will not be able to view Christ's love dispassionately but rather will respond to it with their deepest affections. Truly seeing such good they will have no choice but to love it. Glimpsing such love, they will be drawn away from their preoccupations with the gratifications of their most immediate sensations. They will be drawn from their self-centered universes. Seeing the beauty of the redemptive love of Christ is the true center of reality, they will love God and all that he has created.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Article VII - Of the Old Testament (39 Articles)

Once, when I was talking to an Anglican minister about Jesus in the Old Testament, and called this the 'Blackham view', I was rebuked and told to stop calling this the 'Blackham view'. This debate in about faith in Jesus in the Old Testament or faith in the promises of God is not a recent, but old one. Perhaps surprisingly, those who came up with the 39 Articles saw this debate to be so crucial that they sought to address it alongside the papist errors of Rome: "The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises." Those who maintain that the OT saints knew and trusted in Jesus for salvation, are simply following what has always been believed by the Church throughout history, and should be believed by all, not least by Anglicans, since we claim to hold on to the 39 Articles. Article 7 on the OT is strongly worded, especially in the application when faced with those who deny that the OT believers trusted in Jesus. But what do you reckon? Should we stop listening to those who falsely claim that the OT saints trusted only the promises and not in Christ Himself? Should we warn our congregations to stop listening to those who have departed from that which is maintained by the above Article, just as we might warn people against the errors of Rome?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Judgement and Salvation

Great set of talks here

http://christthetruth.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/five-talks-on-isaiah/

Glen - perhaps you can clarify for me:

in salvation there is the embrace of judgement
perhaps we could say that the church faces judgement in loving voluntary rehabilitation (which can be strict)
rather than in forced incarceration?

So in the body of Christ, healing still involves pain? - like severe reconstructive surgery
(as light purges the darkness from our bones)


Thursday, 3 May 2012

Genesis 22

A recent sermon from our church theologian (not me) on Gen 22

What do you think?

http://www.zionbishan.org.sg/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/2012-04-29-Abraham-Tried-Quek-Tze-Ming.mp3

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Late Good Friday Meditation

This Good Friday, remember Christ is the tent that was set up.
The Tent-Pegs were driven in, and the flesh opened - that we may have Life, between the Waters of Death
His Side was pierced, that we may enter in through the place where Marital Life was Born
The Black Skies and Cracking Rocks assail us, but we are hidden within the Crevice in the Rock
He shields us in His body, even as we are carried in Him to the Tomb
The Sabbath Rest in the midst of Murderous Triumph
Then He comes into His own, uniting us with Him as One Eternally, A New Life
The 3rd Day's Prelude of the 8th
Amen


Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Only Valid Application

The only valid application of any sermon, Bible study etc...  surely must be "Come"

The goal is to draw everyone to Jesus, constantly, again and again, by diverse ways and actions

Thus in any application my goal must be to get people to come.


If I tell them to join a cell group - it is to 'Come' into His promised presence when 2-3 gather
If I tell them to leave a sinful habit - it is to 'Come' into His arms, as they run
If I tell them to read their Bibles - it is to 'Come' daily to Him first
Even when I tell people to 'Go' (into the world) - I am telling them to 'Go' because I want them to 'Come'

Christ came to draw all men to Himself, and to the Father

Monday, 9 April 2012

Moved

Can we have a more Trinitarian theology of the 'passability' of God?

Is the Father moved by the Son?
Does the Father need the Son ?

Won't answers to questions like that help understand how he relates to the church ?

What do you think?

Indestructible

Jesus was the suitable priest because He had an indestructible life

The resurrection was inevitable for the son of god could not be destroyed. The spirit of god within him - that is his trust of his father's love for him made him indestructible.

Thus in his priestly ministry he has made us too indestructible . For we have the same Spirit and the same ministry and are joined into eternity

Death and decay may compress us , but it cannot extinguish what has now become eternal




Indestructible

Jesus was the suitable priest because He had an indestructible life

The resurrection was inevitable for the son of god could not be destroyed. The spirit of god within him - that is his trust of his father's love for him made him indestructible.

Thus in his priestly ministry he has made us too indestructible . For we have the same Spirit and the same ministry and are joined into eternity

Death and decay may compress us , but it cannot extinguish what has now become eternal




Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Jacob Wrestling

I'm sure most of us have heard how this incident is always a comparison to Gethsemane

Christ wrestles with His Father & his fleshly will (or something like that) - to come out the Victor (Israel meaning He has striven with God and Man and wins)

Now if we continue to take Esau as Adam - then the story continues
as much as Jacob's 'mission' was to present Esau to the Father (Isaac)

now after the wrestling - Jacob is prepared to reconcile with horrible Esau who (he thinks) has come to murder Him
and in some sense - there ends the story of Jacob?

(read bit of this in someone's quotations from Chrysostom)

Monday, 26 March 2012

Reminder from Dev on Preaching

And he said to me, "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them. For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel— not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you. But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house." Moreover, he said to me, "Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God,' whether they hear or refuse to hear." (Ezekiel 3:4-11 ESV)

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Bit of nard from Spurgeon

Remember, that Jesus Christ when he comes to us to-day, as the messenger
of the Father, comes for no personal ends... When Jesus pleads with us, although
he urges us to render unto God our love and our obedience, yet God does
not stand in need of these as the householder stood in need of his rents.
What is it to the infinite Jehovah whether thou serve him or not? If thou
rebel against God, will he be less glorious? If thou wilt not obey the Lord,
what difference can it make to his boundless happiness? Will his crown
shine the less brightly, or his heaven be less resplendent because thou
chooses to be a rebel against him?... It is for thine own sake that
God would have thee yield to him; how can it be for his own? If he were
hungry he would not tell thee, for the cattle on a thousand hills are his. He
can crush whole worlds to dust, “or with his word or with his nod”; and
dost thou think he has aught to gain from thee? Thou alone wilt be the
gainer or the loser; therefore when Jesus prays thee to repent, believe thou
in the disinterestedness of his heart; believe that it can be nothing but the
tenderest regard for thy well-being which makes him warn thee. Hear how
Jehovah puts it: “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the
death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.”

If you reject him, he answers you with tears; if you
wound him, he bleeds out cleansing; if you kill him, he dies to redeem; if
you bury him, he rises again to bring us resurrection. Jesus is love made
manifest.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Outward or Inward

We want inward change
But the gospel is external

So the temptation is to remove outward rituals or duties in the very real possibility that we begin to trust in them and not Christ

Yet we must have outward things come to us - eg sacraments, the Word - if things are to change inwardly

Here I suggest there has been a real neglect of brotherly relationships . That it is ok to establish dozens of rituals and practices, not as individuals or as necessary church structures , but rather as agreements between fellow Christians .

The body of Christ exhorting one another to set up different ways to increase faith in Christ, and adjusting and tearing down ways that have become stifling.

That way, everything remains external to the individual for the purposes of inward change

So when we put on Christ , we put on His body. - that is the Church. And through His body, the Spirit testifies from the Head to the members , returning to the head.

Thus while hierarchy is essential to testify to Fatherhood. The tops of the hierarchies - eg fathers or elders - must be flat , that they may counsel one another , speak the Word to one another and even set up fluid structures within the church to increase faith, which all are free to change once they have outlived their purposes

Not foolproof, as the whole group can work together in sin , but much better than an individualistic faith I would think.

The Deceit of Christ

If Abraham portrays the Father
And Isaac is the silent bridegroom

Jacob is the deceiver that comes in Adam's skin (Esau). To present his new people to the Father who allows Himself to be deceived.

Thus is God the God of Abraham Isaac And Jacob. And in it the whole plan of the Seed is shown

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Resurrection morning

If Jesus died around 3 pm on a Friday, and rose on a Sunday morning ... that's 9 hrs till midnight, 24 hrs till the next midnight, which together is 33 hrs ... so if he rose at around 7am on Sunday, he would have been in the grave exactly 40 hrs.

Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure it works. For once, I haven't seen the Bible using the number 40 in connection with the time between Jesus death and resurrection. Secondly, apparently sunrise in Israel is no later than at 6:40am even in winter (poor young man that fled naked! he must have been freezing if it really was winter). Also, since it sounds that Jesus died just after 3pm, it might mean He would have risen rather slightly after than slightly before 7am...

The gospels all emphasise that it was on the first day around sunrise (probably dependent on whether you're looking at the time when people leave for the tomb, or arrive at the tomb):
toward the dawn of the first day of the week (Matthew)
very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen (Mark)
on the first day of the week, at early dawn (Luke)
on the first day of the week ... early, while it was still dark (John)

Maybe, we should be looking for the number 38 instead, which is also an interesting number (John 5:5). Then, Jesus could have risen at around 5am, and passover could have been in a more warmer time of the year.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The rich young ruler

Allow me to try paraphrasing this story from mark 10

A 5 yr old little young overachiever runs up to 'daddy' Jesus and says
Daddy daddy I want to be the president (or some other almost unattainable positive post)
Jesus replies, the president son? Do you know what that involves ?
You must do this... And this... And this.. And this...
And the 5yr old says. Yes daddy I've done all those things in nursery
Jesus looks upon his child and loves him... Isn't he sweet.?

(taking him seriously as a child and encouraging him)
Ok kiddo... Just one more thing as a next step
You've got to take all your toys and give them to your friends to gain election votes
What?! He replies. I can't do that...
And is very sad
So is Jesus

Why do they want to do such silly things... And not just let me love them...sigh...
-----

So thats a terrible caricature ... But I think it captures the feelings between the two

On another note.. Jesus mentions the 6 latter commandments not so much because he wants to show the omission of the first 4., but he wants to show him that he did not fulfil the summary of the commandments - I.e. to love your neighbour as yourself. He does this in a positive way since he is a little earnest

Then he explains that to love your neighbour as yourself would involve giving everything you have to at least equalise yourself with the poor. By definition

To be good however... Means to 'lay down your life for others'
Therefore only the Father is good . Since He gave up His Son already - all he had for others
Jesus will soon become good when he does the same - with his life.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The 'Silence' of Creation

Creation was made 'speechless' on purpose

A harmonious concert that plays in the background,
or a vivid painting of brilliant colour

It was meant to not say anything by itself - hence it cannot save,
and by itself cannot offer any meaningful knowledge of its composer

In fact, it can be misinterpreted by those who do not know Him
to say anything they want it to say

It is only when the Word, comes and explains its creation
Does everything make sense - and then we say...
'oh I see... of course that's what it meant'

Therefore the church is the Word meant to both preserve a crumbling creation
- preserve in the sense that it must keep it pointing to its Master, when decay attacks it
and it must speak the Word that creation was never meant to say

Creation was made to be reserved for the Word to speak... it is the necessary background music

Friday, 6 January 2012

Theology of time - essay

Time is Love

Please download, enjoy (if possible) and let me know your views so I can produce a better draft next time round :)

The purpose of this essay is to highlight that a misconceived view of "time" plagues our reading of Scripture (especially the Old Testament), which intertwines with our (mis)understanding of the Spirit's work in both the OT and NT.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Law that Protects

You may find this strange...

But one of my long time ponderings was why did the Lord 'outsource' parenting of kids to the law & angels -i.e. a nanny? In the context of Singapore where everyone outsources their parenting to maids or child-care centres from as young as 6 months - this gave very negative connotations that the Lord didn't want to 'deal' with His kids until they were old enough to engage with in a more meaningful way.

My sinful thinking was quite shattered this morning... when I found I had to discipline my daughter quite severely for an offence she had committed. I found my wife to be much more faithful in the matter - she is more consistent in laying down the rules & regulations and punishing the small offences in small ways. If I had more consistency - and 'more law' for the children - then my the severe discipline would have never been necessary. Anarchy would have been resisted at an earlier stage.

Thus the Lord God, in absolute loving kindness and faithfulness lays down the law to a juvenile world - through his adopted children Israel - preventing sin from spreading into total lawlessness or anarchy. In this way - we are 'protected' from the harsh (but obviously much more patient) wrath that comes hand in hand with a jealous love.

The Pharasaitical understanding of the law, therefore, so obviously becomes tyrannical - for it seeks to keep children under a caretaker - with parental convenience and domination as its motivation. Where else the law in it's proper context - laid down for the young (or lawbreakers) - forms a protective barrier, that allows children to approach near enough to see the grace that is behind, through, and ahead of it. Much like the Levitical arrangement in the camp in the wilderness.

Jesus came when the school teaching had ended - yet that does not mean we do not lay down law for our own children in their own childishness - in  holy and good motivation. The desire of the law however, must surely be the hope of complete intimacy and indwelling. The one-arms length is for our own safety and growth - not for His convenience, and neither is it His desire. He who wants to come down to be so close and never depart....

(more of that thinking in the sermon below)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

O come, o come ... Melchizedek?

Dear brothers,
we are about to celebrate the coming of the King. He is God's King, whom the Father has set over His own people, His own family, to rule them in sweet love. He was always God's King over Israel, as it was said about them, that "The LORD their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them" (Num 23:21), even long before the first Christmas. He was with His own, though not yet one of them. Again, it was prophesied, "His [God's] King shall be higher than Agag, and His kingdom shall be exalted." (Num 24:7).

The Christian saints of old knew Him, and prayed concerning Him, "The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; He will give strength to His king, and exalt the power of His Christ" (1 Sam 2:10). Such was Hannah's prayer, after she had conceived the son she longed for with the help of God, and had given birth to him. She dedicated him to God, and he became a prophet over God's people. This prophet, Samuel, they asked for a king (1 Sam 8:5), not knowing Jesus, The King, whom Samuel's mother worshipped and living as though there was no king (Jgs 21:22). Samuel, distressed when seeing his beloved Christ rejected as king, prayed to the LORD, and Christ Himself answered, "Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them." (1 Sam 8:7). Yet, one day, in all His mercy, He would come anyway, to a people who rejected Him, to bring salvation to the poor.

And so He did - and the wise men, having learnt their wisdom from reading Scriptures diligently, came to Judea. They said to a king, "where is The King?" (after Mt. 2:2). Had they not known that Jesus was The King, they would have been content with the normal king, whom they had already found. But they came to see The King, bringing gifts to Him: Gold, and frankincense, and myrrh (Mt 2:11).

Why these gifts? Some say, Gold because Jesus is our glorious king, frankincense because He is our priest, and myrrh cause He's going to die (for myrrh was used to anoint the dead). And it sounds good, but is it the point? Are we seeing wonderful things in them that they didn't actually mean? Let's look again..
Gold for the king - but does Moses say that? (Please tell me, if you know!) Was not the High Priest the only person to be clothed in gold from top to bottom? He had golden bells above his feet, a plate of gold on his chest, and a plate of gold on his head, saying, "Holy to the LORD" (Ex. 28). It was also the priests and the High Priest who was anointed with myrrh (Ex. 30:22-30). Again, it was the High Priest who burned incense in the tabernacle (Lev. 16:12).

Remains the question: Why go to the baby-shower of a King, and bring presents for a High Priest? Surely they would have known that Jesus was a Jew? "For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests." (Heb. 7:14). Why then do they bring priesthood-gifts to a Jewish-born baby? Especially, since everything is so clear that they are looking for a King? There has been no-one in the Old Testament who was both king and priest ... except one: Melchizedek. "This Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God [that is, of the Father], met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him" (what follows is all from Heb 7:1-4). Let us "see how great this man was". Who is he? "He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life...". He has no father or mother, so is not a human being. He has no beginning of days, so he is not an angel either, nor any created being. That leaves us with three options, for there is only three who have no beginning of days: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Who is He? He's *the* "priest of the Most High God". Jesus is the only one to be both King and Priest. More than that, He is both the original King and the original Priest. Abraham knew Him, Hannah prayed about Him, Samuel talked to Him. But now He has come in the flesh! This God, our God, has become one of us, forever!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

God's Pleasure - to dwell with us

An attempt at a sermon based on Wesley's line "Pleased as Man with Man to Dwell"

http://www.zionbishan.org.sg/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/2011-12-11-Pleased-as-Man-with-Man-to-Dwell-Dr-Dev-Menon.mp3

- Scripture text was John 1:9-16

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Anachronistic Insufficiency

In Bible interpretation - the accusation is that the OT was often read anachronistically:
i.e. reading the NT back into the OT

the opponents against this stand by the fact that the OT is Christian Scripture - and therefore they are reading what is already there - and explicitly meant to be there

actually, I think the problem is we don't read Scripture relationally - as though the same Person(s) is speaking
and we have the knowledge that this Person(s) does not change

so in theory - we should read Scripture contextually (more about within the setting, rather than the 'extent of the revelation'), and then apply it both currently, exponentially in to the future, and anachronistically impose it onto the past - since the goal is to find out about the character of God Who does not change

it is also understanding the basis of the fact that humanity is inherently the same at the core - sinful  - and we merely see differential expressions of sin (and faith) according to culture

What do you think?