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

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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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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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