Friday, August 18, 2017

No, it's more than that!

Often the prophet’s prime or sole responsibility is mistakenly perceived as receiving and communicating God’s words (judgment or salvation), but the biblical picture of the prophetic office is clearly twofold. It entails both the communication of God’s will and the representation of the people’s concerns before God. The prophets usually spoke with as much fervor and zeal to the Lord in prayer as to the people in judgment oracles. The reality of judgment and threat usually go hand in hand with intercessory prayer. Only the office of the prophet allows for this dialectic role.—Standing in the Breach, page 167

<idle musing>
If there is one thing you take away from reading this book, this is it. Prophets don't primarily foretell or even forthtell. Prophets primarily intercede.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I have so much of a problem with the current rage of "personal prophecy." Where's the intercession? How can you intercede when all you ever prophecy is "good stuff?" It reminds me of the false prophets in Jeremiah.

Of course, it didn't end so well for Hananiah, did it? (See Jeremiah 28.) Just an
</idle musing>

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Me, at book exhibits

This is me, at book exhibits (ARC = Advance Reading Copies)
You've got to go there to see the whole thing...

Fix it!

Restoring a breached wall by doing righteous community work is a longterm process. When the hour of destruction is advancing, it is the prophets’ duty to stand temporarily in the breach in prayer, before the gradual process of restoring the divine-human relation can begin. Deuteronomy 9–10 gives exactly expression to this dynamic. First, in prophetic fashion, Moses draws attention to Israel’s sin by shattering the covenant tablets (Deut 9:15) and hastens to defend the breached wall from YHWH’s destructive wrath (“For I was afraid that the anger that the Lord bore against you was so fierce that he would destroy you” Deut 9:19). After having successfully fended off the first attack (Deut 10:10–11), the mediator urges Israel to repair the wall by recommitting themselves to fear YHWH and to love their neighbor (Deut 10:12–22).—Standing in the Breach, page 166

<idle musing>
Indeed. That's one reason I have a problem with "declaring the powers bound" thinking. If there is no repentance, you can rebuke demons all day long and it won't have any effect. Repentance is essential to repair the walls. Yes, we need to stand in the breach as intercessors, but we also need to call people to repentance—and live lives that reflect holiness ourselves!

I like how the CEB translates repentance: change your hearts and minds. Too often in the US Evangelical community, conversion has been nothing more than a change of mind. No change in behavior, just a mental assent to a set of beliefs.

Sorry, but that doesn't cut it. That's selling out the biblical definition for cheap grace, easy believism. I'm with the early Anabaptists here: no change in lifestyle equals no salvation. That's one reason Wesley organized his converts into bands and societies: to keep people accountable and to promote "scriptural holiness throughout the land." We could do a lot worse—and are : (
</idle musing>

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Judgment will catch up!

[E]ven after their most grievous offense was pardoned, they continued to be rebellious (cf. Deut 9:22–24). The continuous intercessory activity of Moses indicates, however, that his prayer, though powerful and effective, provides only a temporary solution to Israel’s predicament. It appears that Moses’ summons to a change of heart suggests itself as a more permanent solution to Israel’s rebelliousness. Their stubbornness, in the long run, can only be remedied through circumcision of heart (Deut 10:16), a metaphor for an inner renewal of the covenant relationship, a decisive act of committed obedience.—Standing in the Breach, page 165

<idle musing>
At the risk of overextending the application of this, I would say we're on the same path in this country...there's a limit to what intercession can do. At some point, individuals have to decide whether they want God or not. Contrary to what some think, you do reap what you sow. And violence always begets violence, just as hatred always begets hatred.

Unfortunately, the current evidence is that the choice is "not."

But we are called to pray anyway.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Faithfulness hurts

The fact that YHWH responds favorably to Moses’ threefold appeal reveals not only that mercy depends on YHWH’s character and His promises but also that God allows Himself to be persuaded by His faithful servant to let love triumph over justice. This is not to deny the fact that YHWH has the freedom of disciplining His rebellious son, but the outcome of Moses’ prayer strongly suggests that one of the central purposes of Israel’s election is God’s commitment to fellowship with His people. This is a commitment that in times of rebellion costs Him dearly.—Standing in the Breach, page 163

Monday, August 14, 2017

The stakes are high

In spite of the fact that Israel has been obstinate and rebellious from the moment of birth (Isa 48:4; cf. Deut 9:7, 24), YHWH is determined to glorify Himself by delivering Israel from exile and thereby show once again that He is God of gods (cf. Isa 52:5–6). This is a costly undertaking on God’s part because the restoration and preservation of God’s name (and covenant) is ultimately only possible by way of self-sacrificial commitment to His people. Thus, it has become clear that Moses raises a problem, which reaches to the very heart of God’s internal dilemma. How is one to consolidate divine justice with divine grace and loving commitment? There is no way that one can or should try to resolve this tension because it belongs to the very essence of God’s being (cf. Exod 34:6–7, Num 14:18). The fact, that YHWH allows, even invites, Moses to participate in this dilemma in faithful prayer speaks volumes for YHWH’s solidarity for His people. We have seen that Moses at no point excuses or belittles Israel’s rebellion and disobedience, but he juxtaposes it with YHWH’s history of loving and faithful commitment to them and with the fact that YHWH’s name would be at stake if Israel were annihilated.—Standing in the Breach, pages 161–62

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Where does the punctuation go?

In John 1:3–4, that is. Is there a stop at the end of verse 3? Or does it come at the end of the phrase, with the relative pronoun and participle going with verse 4?

Here's the Greek:
3 πάντα δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν 4 ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων·

I had never noticed it before, but NA27 (and I assume NA28) have the stop before the relative pronoun. Here's what Metzger says:

1.3-4 οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν {B}

Should the words ὃ γέγονεν be joined with what goes before or with what follows? The oldest manuscripts (P66, 75* א* A B) have no punctuation here, and in any case the presence of punctuation in Greek manuscripts, as well as in versional and patristic sources, cannot be regarded as more than the reflection of current exegetical understanding of the meaning of the passage.

A majority of the Committee was impressed by the consensus of ante-Nicene writers (orthodox and heretical alike) who took ὃ γέγονεν with what follows. When, however, in the fourth century Arians and the Macedonian heretics began to appeal to the passage to prove that the Holy Spirit is to be regarded as one of the created things, orthodox writers preferred to take ὃ γέγονεν with the preceding sentence, thus removing the possibility of heretical use of the passage.

Interestingly, Metzger disagreed with the Committee
[On the other hand, however, none of these arguments is conclusive and other considerations favor taking ὃ γέγονεν with the preceding sentence. Thus, against the consideration of the so-called Page 168 rhythmical balance (which after all is present in only a portion of the Prologue, and may not necessarily involve ὃ γέγονεν) must be set John’s fondness for beginning a sentence or clause with ἐν and a demonstrative pronoun (cf. 13.35; 15.8; 16.26; 1 Jn 2.3, 4, 5; 3.10, 16, 19, 24; 4.2, etc.). It was natural for Gnostics, who sought support from the Fourth Gospel for their doctrine of the origin of the Ogdoad, to take ὃ γέγονεν with the following sentence (“That which has been made in him was life” – whatever that may be supposed to mean). It is more consistent with the Johannine repetitive style, as well as with Johannine doctrine (cf. 5.26, 39; 6.53), to say nothing concerning the sense of the passage, to punctuate with a full stop after ὃ γέγονεν. B.M.M.]
So, the CEB translates it thus:
3 Everything came into being through the Word,
and without the Word
nothing came into being.
What came into being
4 through the Word was life,
and the life was the light for all people.
Not sure which I prefer, but it does make one pause to think...

Friday, August 11, 2017

The tension

The covenant relationship, by its very nature, makes certain demands on both sides of the party (Deut 26–30), by which life and blessing can be gained or lost depending on the human response. Childs helpfully comments: “Election was not a privilege to be enjoyed, but a calling to be pursued.” [fn: Childs, Biblical, 445. He draws attention to the fact that the same tension is still found in Romans 9–11, particularly 11:22: “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.”] … there is a tension between Israel’s special status and the breached covenant. This dynamic is clearly in the background of Moses’ prayer. The Scriptures witness to this subtle but fundamental tension between election and covenant. On the one hand, YHWH, in sovereign love, choses people on His own initiative. This divine call is unchangeable because it depends on God’s loyalty. On the other hand, the chosen people have entered a covenant relationship that requires obedience. It is a real relationship that depends on both covenant people and covenant God. This dynamic tension cannot and should not be resolved because it is the dynamics of love.—Standing in the Breach, pages 152–53