Exile and Repentance, Part 7 (Faith in the OT)

Arch_of_Titus_MenorahIn the Prophets, the NT’s Greek word for “repent” is rarely used of national repentance. But the concept of repentance is plainly taught. For example, the author of 2 Kings says regarding God’s allowing the Northern Kingdom to be carried off into Assyrian Captivity,

(2Ki 17:10-14 ESV)  10 They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree,  11 and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the LORD carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the LORD to anger,  12 and they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this.”  13 Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”  14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God. 

Their idolatry and other sins were characterized as ultimately a lack of faith. After all, if you really believed in God, and if you believed he was serious about the curses in Deu 28, you wouldn’t worship idols. Continue reading

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Family News

christian_prayerI’m now about 5 weeks past my back surgery and doing much better. I’m doing physical therapy and back to work nearly full time.

Follow up testing has been positive — the bones are fusing as they’re supposed to. I just need to rebuild my stamina.

I deeply appreciate everyone’s prayers. They matter.

On a very different note, my youngest son (of four sons), Philip, age 24, was diagnosed with colon cancer 10 days ago. It’s been surgically removed, and the cancer had not penetrated the outside of his intestine. The cancer had not spread to any other organs. But they found involvement in two out of 21 sampled lymph nodes. We’ll meet with an oncologist on Tuesday to discuss his treatment. He’ll need some sort of chemo-therapy. We don’t yet have any details. Continue reading

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How to Study the Bible: If the Bible Translations Had a Dinner Party

biblepage-781x1024I just can’t get enough translation humor!

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Exile and Repentance, Part 6 (Repentance According the Prophets)

Arch_of_Titus_MenorahIt’s a little surprising that the NT word for “repent” is rarely used in the OT except with regard to God himself. In fact, metanoeo, the Greek verb translated “repent” in Acts 2:38 appears only 19 times in 18 OT verses.

Of these, 14 refer to God relenting or changing his mind. Obviously, God does not sin and therefore he cannot repent in the sense of giving up sin. Therefore, metanoeo does not necessarily refer to giving up sin. Continue reading

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Exile and Repentance, Part 5 (the Prophets and the Spirit)

Arch_of_Titus_MenorahI skipped ahead a bit, and so we still need to cover some key passages in the prophets before we continue with the NT.

Jeremiah prophesied to the Jews of Judea shortly before and during the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s attacks on Judea.

(Jer 4:4 ESV)  4 “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.”

(Jer 9:25-26 ESV)  “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh —  26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.”

This is an obvious warning, based on Deu 10, that the mere form of obedience is not good enough. God insists on hearts that love him. Contrary to over a century of really bad teaching, the Law of Moses was just as much about the heart as God’s other covenants. Continue reading

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Direct Hit: A Follow Up Question from a Reader

Book—Borden,-Direct-HitI get emails (and insomnia) —

Jay…I ran across your thoughts on church leadership. If one wants to be trained in how to lead a church to grow, especially a CoC preacher like myself, where would you recommend? Preferably, I would want to sit at the feet of someone who has grown the church, not just read books on it. This has been the burning question on my heart the last few months. I can’t think of any resources except for outside the church. I’m lost. Loved your article and appreciate you bringing up a needed topic.

I’m not entirely sure myself, so this is going to be a little scattershot. I’d LOVE it if the readers could add to my late-night brainstorming. Continue reading

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Radical Reconciliation: Four Part series posted on ““It is impossible … to restore them again”

Baptism (1)Recently posted at Wineskins is a four-part series I wrote dealing with the availability of God’s grace to forgive after a Christian has fallen away so as to be lost.

Does Hebrews 6:4-6 really say that you can’t be saved once you’ve fallen away?

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


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Exile and Repentance, Part 4: Deu 30:6-14 (Circumcision of the heart)

Arch_of_Titus_MenorahThis brings us to a passage frequently alluded to in the NT —

(Deu 30:6-8 ESV) 6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.  7 And the LORD your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you.  8 And you shall again obey the voice of the LORD and keep all his commandments that I command you today. 

God says, through Moses, that even after all the curses are suffered by Israel, if they will return to him, he will “circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” Continue reading

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Exile and Repentance, Part 3: Deu 29:1-30:5 (God’s grace following the curses)

Arch_of_Titus_MenorahWe saw in Deu 28 that the curses and blessing were conditioned on obedience to all of God’s commands, but most especially to refraining from idolatry. This bring us
to —

(Deu 29:1-9 ESV) These are the words of the covenant that the LORD commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant that he had made with them at Horeb.  

2 And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land,  3 the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders.  4 But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.  5 I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet.  6 You have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine or strong drink, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.  7 And when you came to this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon and Og the king of Bashan came out against us to battle, but we defeated them.  8 We took their land and gave it for an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of the Manassites.  9 Therefore keep the words of this covenant and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do. 

Moses offers a reflection on the preceding 29 chapters, reminding the Israelites that God had taken them out of Egypt, defeated their enemies, and then he describes Deuteronomy as a covenant in addition to the covenant made at Horeb (Mt. Sinai). This new generation (the children of the Israelites who’d died in the desert) is being asked to re-covenant with God. Continue reading

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Exile and Repentance, Part 2 (Deu 28’s Blessings & Curses)

Arch_of_Titus_MenorahSo what is the sin that led to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70? Obviously, the rejection by the Jews of Jesus as Messiah. Right?

Well, to get the full historical implications, we need to turn to (believe it or not) Deu 28-30, a passage we rarely study in Sunday school class — but it is a major underlying theme of the NT — frequently alluded to by Paul especially. The First Century Jews believed that they were living in days of Exile predicted in these chapters. So to read the NT as a First Century Jew would have read it, you have to be familiar with these chapters.

Recall that Deu is written in the form of an Ancient Near East treaty. And these treaties concluded with a list of blessings and curses — blessings for obedience by the subservient party and curses for disobedience. Continue reading

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