Exile and Repentance, Part 13 (Luke: The Ministry of Jesus)

Arch_of_Titus_MenorahIdolatry?

So this leads to a question I’ve been trying to get to — In what sense were the Jews of Jesus’ day idolaters? The curses of Deu 28 aren’t only for idolatry but they are especially for idolatry. Moreover, the Prophets continually warn against many sins, but idolatry is far and away at the top of the list.

In fact Deu 30 contrasts returning to God and receiving circumcised hearts with —

(Deu 30:17-18 ESV) 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them,  18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.

So did the Jews of Jesus’ day worship false gods? Well, Jesus saw Satan’s path to the Kingdom as idolatrous. Luke and Jesus seem to agree with Satan that he had the rule of the Jews at that point. For Jesus to seek to establish his throne my any means other than the cross would be idolatrous because it would be to worship Satan.

When the Jews rejected Jesus as Messiah (all but a remnant), they thought they were choosing God, but they were in fact rejecting God because Jesus is God the Son. You can’t worship just part of the Trinity. You can’t reject the Son and accept the Father. It’s a package deal. Continue reading

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Exile and Repentance, Part 12 (Luke: Revolutionary Background; Jesus Begins His Ministry)

Arch_of_Titus_MenorahThe Jewish revolts against Rome

The consequences of the first Jewish revolt against Rome are summarized in the Wikipedia

The defeat of the Jewish revolt altered the Jewish diaspora, as many of the Jewish rebels were scattered or sold into slavery. Josephus claims that 1,100,000 people were killed during the siege, a sizeable portion of these were at Jewish hands and due to illnesses brought about by hunger. “A pestilential destruction upon them, and soon afterward such a famine, as destroyed them more suddenly.” On the order of 97,000 were captured and enslaved and many others fled to areas around the Mediterranean. …

Titus reportedly refused to accept a wreath of victory, saying, “There is no merit in vanquishing a people forsaken by their own God.”

It gets worse. In the early Second Century, the Jews rebelled yet again. Continue reading

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How to Study the Bible: An Example from Mark Love

biblepage-781x1024Regular readers will know that I’m a Mark Love fan. He recently posted an article on Exodus called “The Holy God is the Attentive God.”

If you want to know how to read the Bible, here’s an example to ponder at length. It’s not a “how to.” It’s just a marvelous example of how to do it right.

(I’m eaten up with jealousy.)

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Exile and Repentance, Part 11 (Luke: John the Baptist)

Arch_of_Titus_MenorahJohn the Baptist

John the Baptist began preaching at the Jordan River —

(Luk 3:7-10 ESV) He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.  9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”  10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 

John begins by promising “wrath” — a word used but one other time in Luke —

(Luk 21:23 ESV) Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people.

And this is a reference to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in AD 70. So while John certainly might have been speaking of God’s wrath at the Judgment Day, it seems more likely that he is speaking of the curses of Deu 28 to be repeated in about 40 years at the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome. Continue reading

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Exile and Repentance, Part 10 (Luke: The Magnificat and Zechariah)

Arch_of_Titus_Menorah

For purposes of the next few posts, I’ll focus on Luke and Acts. Luke fits naturally with Acts, and only Acts records the dawning of the Kingdom at Pentecost. But long before we get to Acts 2:38, we need to work our way through parts of Luke.

The Magnificat

Early on, Luke record’s Mary’s words to Elizabeth regarding the impending birth of Jesus (called the Magnificat from the first word in Latin (v. 46)) —

(Luk 1:50-55 ESV)  50 “And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.  51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;  52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;  53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.  54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,  55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

In response to word that the Messiah will soon come, she praises God for rejecting the wealthy and proud and caring for the humble and poor in remembrance of his covenant with Abraham. Continue reading

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Exile and Repentance, Part 9 (The Prophets on Repentance and the Vulnerable)

Arch_of_Titus_MenorahIsaiah begins with a warning against ignoring the plight of the vulnerable of society —

(Isa 1:11-20 ESV)  11 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.  

12 “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts?  13 Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations — I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.  14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.  15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.  16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil,  17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.  

18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.  19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;  20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” 

What was required for the readers of Isaiah to repent? Well, to “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” This is a plea to the nation of Israel, which is now known as “the church.” Continue reading

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An Exercise for the Readers

Mac Deaver has recently written an article “The Great Commission has been fulfilled.”

You should read his entire article, but here are some key quotations:

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate truth regarding our non-amenability to the commission given by the Lord to the apostles before he left the earth. It is not the purpose to lessen our efforts among men in trying to reach the lost with the gospel, but I would have us all understand that any evangelistic effort that we put forth is based on something other than the commission. …

Continue reading

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Exile and Repentance, Part 8 (The Vulnerable of Society and Torah)

Arch_of_Titus_MenorahI guess we do best to start in the Torah.

God’s election of Israel demands a response — a changed heart that submits to God’s loving will — a will that shows us what is best for us.

(Deu 10:16-19 ESV) 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

God takes no bribes, but treats all fairly — meaning that we should do the same. God cares for and demands justice for widows and orphans. Those who can’t look out after themselves have God himself as a protector — and he commands his people to follow his example. Continue reading

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Experimental Theology: A Review by Richard Beck of Living Into Community

So I’ve been disagreeing with some materials quoted by Richard Beck on sexuality. But as I’ve said before, I’m a fan of Beck’s blog and read it avidly.

Just the other day, he reviewed a book by Christine D. Pohl, Living into Community: Cultivating Practices That Sustain Us, and he said something that bears some serious reflection.

This quote needs to be discussed in every small group and Bible class —

Specifically, one of the questions I often ask myself about my church, which is reflective of most churches I suspect, is this: What binds us together as a community?

As best I can tell what binds us together is liking. We’re at our church because we like it. Because we like the sermons. Or like the worship. Or like the programs. Or like the bible classes. Or like the people. Continue reading

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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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