God’s Plan: Why God Gave the Law of Moses, Part 1

We’re working through Covenant: God’s Purpose, God’s Plan. by John H. Walton.

In chapter 10, Walton investigates the purpose of the Law of Moses. The New Testament, of course, is filled with the struggle over how the coming of Jesus affects the Law. Jesus’ debates with the Pharisees, Paul’s epistles on faith versus “works of the Law,” and Hebrews all deal very explicitly with the Law.

To modern Christians, it’s all very abstract and arcane. What do we care about the Law of Moses? Dispensationalists simply declare it repealed and move on, until they read passages where Jesus or Paul or others seem to apply the Law as though it’s not been repealed at all. Continue reading

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Meet the Purple Hulls

So my eyes aren’t working all that well (but getting better!). Still, I can hear pretty well, and I’m in gospel-bluegrass kind of mood.

First, an instrumental —

Next, a vocal —

I mean, how can you not love a group called the “Purple Hulls”?

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God’s Plan: The Covenants

Walton lays out God’s history of covenants in terms that I’d never heard before.

He concludes that the covenant made with Noah is separate from all the others, as it indicates no effort toward self-revelation. God had appeared to Noah and rescued him from the coming destruction. But it wasn’t yet time to introduce the plan that would culminate in Jesus.

That plan begins with Abraham, leading to this pattern — Continue reading

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Eye Surgery, Childhood Imprecations, and Quadruplicateness

Cross my heart

So I had my left eye’s lens replaced yesterday.

I had cataracts in both eyes, and as a result, double vision in both eyes — quadruple vision, as a result. Very annoying. Lot’s of eye strain. And utterly beyond what eyeglasses can fix.

Some people actually look better in quadruplicate, you know. Blurriness does a lot of good for some of us. But it’s really bad for watching football. Continue reading

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God’s Plan: Election

We’re working through Covenant: God’s Purpose, God’s Plan. by John H. Walton.

Never do the biblical writers describe election as a reward. It does not come in response to any attribute or action of Israel. His election did not give Israel a privileged position among the nations so she might gloat. Rather, God chose Israel to serve him and reflect his character and ways to other nations—“that they may proclaim [His] praise” (Isa. 43:21).

(Kindle Locations 257-260).

Thus Israel’s election does not mean God has rejected the other nations. Rather, election creates for Israel the task of representing God among the nations so salvation might come to them.

(Kindle Locations 261-262).

Ahh … finally we can get past the old Calvinist v. Arminian debates about election. Continue reading

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God’s Plan: Genesis 1 – 11

So why does Genesis provide us with the material found in Genesis 1 – 11? These chapters aren’t obviously about God’s self-revelation.

Genesis tells the story of how God created humankind in fellowship with him, but also relates how that relationship was destroyed by the Fall. The destruction of all but Noah and his family in the flood gave humanity a second opportunity to maintain a relationship, but again sin interfered. The primeval history concludes with the important account of the Tower of Babel. Urbanization in Mesopotamia had provided fertile ground for the development of a new paganism aptly represented in the symbolism of the ziggurat. The Tower of Babel represented the definitive formulation of a brand of paganism that pervaded the ancient Near East in which mythologized deity was portrayed as having all the foibles of humanity. In so doing, humanity remade deity in its own image. Continue reading

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God’s Plan: Introduction

We last met John H. Walton in the Creation 2.0 series. He’s the expert on Ancient Near East cultures who argues so powerfully that Genesis 1 is written in terms of the construction of a temple for God — that is, that the Creation is God’s temple.

I bought The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, and I was so impressed I looked to see what else he’s written. And so, now I’ve read two more of his books, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible, which we’ll be discussing in due course, Lord willing, and Covenant: God’s Purpose, God’s Plan.

Walton is an expert in the cultures that surrounded Old Testament Israel, and this knowledge provides him with insights into the Old Testament text that few others have. Continue reading

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“When We All Get to Heaven”

Well, the kid playing the mandolin just blew me away. And I just love the sheer joy of it all …

It makes me want to give Oregon a visit. Reminds me of home.

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The Pain of Disappointment, Part 16 (Back to the Beginning)

We all must make a choice. Either we suffer the pain of discipline or the pain of disappointment.

Of course, that assumes that we have a goal or a purpose. And most Christians do not — because we figure our purpose is to not mess up so badly we get damned.

We are one-talent Christians who bury our talent in the backyard, terrified that God might not like our investment decisions. And that attitude leads to disappointment. Continue reading

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The Pain of Disappointment, Part 15 (Kings and Queens)

Okay. Let’s talk a little more about what it really means to be saved. There’s another theme coursing through the scriptures that we rarely think about — which should radically change our thinking about lots of things.

(1Pe 2:9 ESV) 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Every phrase is packed with meaning. For now, I want to focus on “royal priesthood,” especially the word “royal.” In what sense are Christians royal? Continue reading

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