Saturday, 27 February 2010

Daniel in the Lion's Den

Mark 1:12-13 12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

Friday, 26 February 2010

See to it Yourself

Matthew 27:3-5 3 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." They said, "What is that to us? See to it yourself." 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.

The legalistic view of the law, embodied here by the Pharisees, can never deliver

it can convict one of sin - cf. Rom 7
and then when one comes to it as a sinner
it replies: "So what? You deal with it"

and that's exactly what Judas does - he deals with it himself

this is all the morality and legality of the world can do (the Christless view of God's shadows)
it leads to self-death

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Exodus 5

Glen's blogging through Exodus for lent - here's Exodus 5:

And so Moses and Aaron, fearing the weakening of the modern family, the slow but steady erosion of Israelite values in public life and their worsening working conditions decided to do the only thing upstanding, God-fearing folk can do – they formed a political pressure group. They called it CHANGE: Campaigning Hebrews for A Nicer Gentler Egypt.

They got the best legal advice, produced petitions by the armful and exploited every political contact they knew. In time they broadened their support base and went ‘co-belligerent’ with several other non-Israelite lobbies. Out of this was birthed the Campaigning Religious Interest-groups for a Nicer Gentler Egypt.

Some claimed that this rainbow coalition weakened their position but others insisted that CRINGE struck exactly the right note for the multicultural sensibilities of modern Egypt.

The combination of Moses’ wisdom, his knowledge of Egyptian philosophy, his family connections and his brother’s gift of the gab, make for a considerable force in Egyptian politics. Maybe this way Egypt will be straightened out a little and God’s people will not suffer so much.

But no...

Read the rest here

Monday, 22 February 2010


Peter Leithart on Zechariah 11:

The best I can make, at this point, of Matthew’s strange conflated quotation of Jeremiah 18-19/Zechariah 11 in Matthew 27:9-10.

Judas took thirty pieces of silver from the Jewish leaders to betray Jesus. Reading this in the light of Zechariah 11, we know that this expresses the contempt of the Jews for Jesus’ labors as the shepherd who seeks to raise up those who are thrown down (9:36). Also in the light of Zechariah 11, there is the ironic hint that Judas functions as the true shepherd of Israel, the shepherd who is shepherding them toward destruction.

Judas throws the money back in the temple, where it comes before the face of God. Innocent blood is “thrown” in the form of money into the presence of God. God will arise and scatter His enemies, and destroy the house defiled with innocent blood.

The Jews know this, and rapidly remove the defilement from the temple by purchasing a field belonging to a potter. This fulfills the thrust of Zechariah 11, which says that the contemptuous wages are thrown into the house of Yahweh “for the potter.” Perhaps “potter” alludes to Yahweh as potter, the “fashioner” of Adam (Genesis 2:7-8) and, more importantly, the potter who formed Israel for Himself (Isaiah 64:8). Potters or “fashioners” are also linked to idolatry in the Old Testament (Isaiah 44, repeatedly).

That allusion to idolatry brings Jeremiah 18-19 into play, which Matthew alludes to by his mention of Jeremiah as the source of the prophecy. According to 2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6 and Jeremiah 7:31-32, the valley of Ben-hinnom, also known as Topheth, was a place where innocent blood was shed, where children passed through the fire to Molech. High places were set up for idolatrous worship. It was a “field of the potter” because there idols “fashioned” by craftsmen were worshiped; it was a field of blood because it was the place where human sacrifices were offered. Matthew connects the field purchased by the Jewish leaders with this field of idolatry and the shedding of innocent blood.

The valley of Ben-hinnom, Topheth, Jeremiah says, will become a place of burial. So many will be slaughtered in the coming invasion from Babylon that there will be no place else to bury the dead. The “sacred” grove of Topheth will be defiled by corpses. Matthew also mentions burial, but in Matthew 27, the burial seems to be more a charitable cause.

In the valley of Ben-hinnom, Jeremiah breaks a clay pot, shatters pottery, as a sign of what Yahweh, the Great Potter of Israel, is going to do with the ruined pot of His people. They have filled the land with the blood of the innocent, and so they are going to be shattered. They have behaved like the kings of the earth, resisting the Lord and His anointed, and they will be smashed like pottery (Psalm 2). Matthew issues the same warning to the first-century Jews. They too are a pot destined for destruction.

Finally, Jeremiah 32 might also play a role. There, Jeremiah purchases a piece of land, which is a pledge of Israel’s return from exile, a pledge of their eventual re-possession of the land. Abraham made a similar purchase, importantly a purchase of a burial plot for Sarah, which served as the first bit of land that he owned. Jesus blood, transformed to money, purchases an Abraham-like burial plot in a land that is not His. But it is a pledge of a later inheritance. Jesus’ blood buys the land, and the world.


Jesus’ condemnation of the temple as a “den of brigands” is drawn from Jeremiah’s temple speech. Because of the idolatries, injustices, and bloodthirstiness of the temple authorities, the temple is going to be destroyed.

But the text might also hold a fainter allusion to Zechariah 11. Matthew conflates Zechariah and Jeremiah in chapter 27, and his explicit quotations from Zechariah (your king is coming; strike the Shepherd; thirty pieces of silver) are interspersed throughout the Passion narrative not only with references to Psalms (22; 69) but also to Lamentations and Jeremiah (on Lamentation allusions, see David Moffitt’s 2006 article in JBL).

In his narrative of the shepherd in chapter 11, Zechariah condemns the shepherds of Israel who enrich themselves by selling off the flock. Jesus’ interruption of the buying and selling in the temple is, as NT Wright says, an interruption of the sacrificial procedures. It is also, in the light of Zechariah 11, a symbolic condemnation of the practice of the priests, who enrich themselves on the people, whose perverse priestly work involves slaughtering not flock-animals but the flock of Israel.

Zechariah says that the priests have no more pity for the people than they do for a sacrificial animal (cf. Marvin Sweeney’s Berit Olam commentary on Zechariah). ”No pity” is the demand of herem warfare; making holy war against substitutionary animals is what priests do. They are not to carry out a war of utter destruction against the people. They are not to treat Israel as Canaanites. In response, Yahweh threatens an eye-for-eye punishment. The shepherds have no pity, Yahweh will have no pity. Herem for herem.

Zechariah 11 fits the temple scene in Matthew very neatly. The priests of Jesus’ day are as corrupt as the priests of Jeremiah’s and Zechariah’s day. They make war on the people without pity, “selling” them into slavery (including the slave yoke of oral traditioned Torah) and enriching themselves as a result (much as Eli and his sons made themselves fat by abusing the flock/flock). Jesus’ enacts Yahweh’s coming herem against Jerusalem and Herod’s temple.


A gloss on my comments on Matthew 27 earlier today: Judas is indeed an ironic version shepherd of Zechariah 11. He is hired by the merchant-shepherds for thirty pieces of silver (drawing again on Sweeney on Zechariah). Judas delivers up a lamb, the Lamb, to the priests to slaughter. He is the instrument of the oppressive priests in carrying out holy war against the flock, a mercenary shepherd, and not only the instrument but the exemplar: Judas makes explicit what the priests are generally doing, which is slaughtering the flock of Yahweh to enrich themselves.

He is also the shepherd of Zechariah 11 in renouncing his role. He refuses to be shepherd leading the Lamb to slaughter, and throws his wages back into the temple treasury.


Zechariah ends with “In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of Yahweh of hosts.”

How’d we get Canaanites in the house of the Lord to begin with? Sweeney points out that the LXX of Zechariah 11:7 assumes a different vowel-pointing than the MT, and thus has “the Canaanites of the sheep” rather than the “poor of the sheep.” He notes that “Canaanite” can mean “merchant,” which fits the context of Zechariah 11 with its reference to commerce in human sheep. Zechariah ends by promising that the house of the Lord will be cleansed of sheep-merchants who serve only for their own gain. Like Ezekiel 34, Zechariah promises true shepherds for the people of God, shepherds led by and following the example of the divine Shepherd.

Friday, 19 February 2010

The Contact Point (2)

Added quote from "Know the Truth - Bruce Milne"

"According to Scripture man is already aware of God but has rejected this witness. The Christian's task is to confront the non-Christian with the God of whom he is already aware, not to consider his (sinful)presupposition that God might not exist"

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Pastoral Calling

Matthew 9:36 - 10:1 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."


The calling is for shepherds - the call of the harvest is a pastoral calling - where are the shepherds?

John 4:35 35 Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.

The calling is not for evangelists - the Samaritan woman has sown the seeds - now He needs harvesters - pastor/teachers - to grow and collect the righteousness

Here's a really silly question...

I may be really blind...

but can I ask .. is there anywhere in the OT that states that a willful (or purposeful) sin is paid for by a sacrifice?

as in... someone sins, committing X, therefore the 'antidote' is sacrifice Y?

as far as I see.. there are regular sacrifices, and sacrifices for unintentional (or by mistake) sins

i'm sure i'm wrong - so someone please correct me...

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

What is Truth? (2)

The problem with most of us is we see sin as the absence of what is good

wherelse in the garden of Eden,
we see Satan not coming as one who is devoid of good,
but one who was perfect, purposefully corrupting what is good

Sin, like darkness, is not the absence of light,
but the corruption of light - therefore darkness in Scripture is something tangible rather than the absence of something

Matthew 6:23 If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

The Light becomes darkness, because of the willful suppression of the Truth - the squinty eye allows only a polarized view of light to enter - so this then is darkness

Lies are half-truths and false-truths

So when we look at individuals, or teachings, or philosophies
we cannot say 'oh, there is something good in there'
but rather - they are willful corruptions of truth
biblically - they are ANTI-Christ
the worst kind of evil (rather the only kind of evil)
Twisting the truth is far more deadly

therefore sin is not a foreign concept
it stems also from Who Christ is
Sin is simply our purposeful corruption of Him - like Satan did in the wilderness

Corrupt light is no longer useful for anything
it must be treated as blindness,
the cure for corrupt light is not to re-polarise
it is impossible
the cure - is to shine True Light into the darkness
then the 'light within us which is darkness' cannot overcome it

The Holy Spirit is not a Western-Counsellor

Psalm 37:4 4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Cf this post on Glen's blog:

Lately I've asked someone to give me some training on Biblical counseling,
he made an interesting observation:

"We in Asia don't act the same way as Western counselors
when people come to us with a problem - they actually want a solution"

Actually I've realised that when I come to spend time with God,
I have "gotten past" the - 'here is my shopping list God' stage
and into the more 'spiritual' stage of 'just-listening'
but i wonder if i was actually listening,
actually now i think i've come to God simply just to feel better

The Spirit is there to counsel, meaning to intercede
to search my heart and take my desires to my Father,
and compare them with His heart, and respond with an answer

He is meant to grant me my desires - if they match His
So does He deal with Christ - and gives Him the desires of His heart - which are also the desires of His Father's heart

therefore my position in prayer is one of pleading, either for myself or for others
Jeremiah 27:18 18 If they are prophets, and if the word of the LORD is with them, then let them intercede with the LORD of hosts,

My other position in prayer therefore is wrestling
- i.e. Gethsemane
From reading His Word i realise that my desires do not match His desires, and I must wrestle with Him until I submit and accept His will
only then is there peace and even future joy

Therefore I do not just come to 'feel good'
but to petition and to wrestle with my flesh
The Spirit will probe and poke me and guide me until I am matching Christ's mind
thus the more I spend with Him - the more He counsels

Perhaps something like that?

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Doctrines of Scripture

Authority, Inspiration, Inerrancy, Infallibility, Preservation... etc..
there are dozens of books on each of those doctrines

What i've come to note is that many of them although in theory talk about the Holy Spirit, still are very mechanical in understanding rather than Personal, Relational and Trinitarian

for example, authority
what makes the Bible authoritative?
it has been 'delegated' (their word) authority by God - therefore it is authoritative
God is authoritative because of who He is - i.e. Powerful, and what He does, i.e. Creator, etc

unlike certain other 'holy books' the Bible is not an eternal thing and has no authority in itself per se

But perhaps a better understanding of authority would be this
The Scripture is God-breathed, i.e. It comes out of the mouth of the Father - it is God-Spirited

What gives the Father authority? is it not the Son? The Son declares to the world that my Father is worth listening to... and I'll prove it

Therefore as Romans 8 says - the conviction of the Spirit is not so much the conviction of the authority or inspiration or inerrancy, etc of Scripture - but the conviction of sonship

We now know He is our Father - therefore we listen to Him - and we learn to listen to Him from His Son, and we listen to Him via His Spirit and all that His Spirit has done - whether in history, creation, or Scripture, or within the lives of other Spirit-filled individuals
(hence Paul's claim is sufficient to be authoritative: 1 Corinthians 7:40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God. )

When we are attuned to our Father's voice, we know how to deal with Scripture - we believe in it in the way it's meant to be, and we can read it the way it's meant to be read - all through Christ as shown by Christ

these 'mechanical doctrines' (of course some better versions are written in the above manner) may have some use in technical and academic debate
but are they of any use to faith? if not, then by definition they are use-less
and if you follow these 'robotic' doctrines - it inevitably undermines faith, as was very evident from the discussions people are having

Listen to the words of Christ, and He will point you to the Father through the Spirited-Word of God - then you will be able to see the true inspiration of Scripture, recognise its authority rightly, and interpret it in increasing measure - all of benefit to a true and dynamic faith

because you are now convicted that He has said, You are my Son - today I have begotten you - and then you respond - Abba, Father

Monday, 8 February 2010

The Returning Word

Here's a thought experiment into some Barthian theology of Scripture..
not even sure what I make of it myself

Barth, if I understand, explains that the Scriptures 'become' the Word of God through 'personal encounter' with Jesus, via the Spirit

I wonder then if we can continue - is then the written Word a temporary thing, like the old covenant, designed to pass away?

The Word must go out, and it is not designed to stay out, but to return, and so the written Word is temporary, and must fade - it must enter the hearts and minds of men, and continue it's outgoing, creative work

Then once accomplished, it will return to the Source, the Father, where it performs its incoming, restive work... bringing the lives of those it has made with it

so then the actual book.. unlike certain other religious theologies.. is hardly eternal, but inherently old...

what do you think?
just a flight of fancy..

The Grave Can Have Children

Colossians 1:18 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

Christ is the firstborn 'from the dead' - the barren grave can now have children
- David Field

The dust returns to dust
That which was made from the old darkness, returns to darkness
animated briefly by the echo of the Word of God

Christ then infuses with the dust
making it permanently alive
then He plunges down into the barren grave
and ignites it, bringing Life and Light to all who would remain

Then He pulls out His children, also infused with the Word that remained in them,
clinging on as a branch to the true 'Jack and the Beanstalk Vine'
The Vine that reached down into the depths,
and raised us up into the heavens

Saturday, 6 February 2010


The only context of Scripture... is Christ

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Falling off the horse

Jesus is not 'the middle way' from 2 extremes,

we are walking along a narrow ridge, to fall to the left or the right means to have our foot slip

He is the narrow path and either way is death

when our foot slips, we catch on again to Jesus - or we die

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Mixed Martial Christians

"The goal, these pastors say, is to inject some machismo into their ministries — and into the image of Jesus — in the hope of making Christianity more appealing. “Compassion and love — we agree with all that stuff, too,” said Brandon Beals, 37, the lead pastor at Canyon Creek Church outside of Seattle. “But what led me to find Christ was that Jesus was a fighter.”
The outreach is part of a larger and more longstanding effort on the part of some ministers who fear that their churches have become too feminized, promoting kindness and compassion at the expense of strength and responsibility. "

Read more here.