Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Upside down world

Paul’s focus is the humble use of power to serve one another, as Jesus served sinful humanity by his sacrificial death (Phil. 2:5–8); in a fallen world, service often leads to suffering. This clearly calls into question any superficial, triumphalistic understanding of the kingdom of God or the restoration of rule, especially to engage in “culture wars” on behalf of the Christian faith (a powerful temptation in some varieties of contemporary Christianity).—J. Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth, 146

Friday, November 20, 2020

It's coming! Wait for it…

That a great reversal is coming is basic to the biblical picture of God’s justice. As Mary sings in her song known as the Magniflcat, God “has brought down the powerful from their thrones, / and lifted up the lowly” (Luke 1:52). But before the Magnificat, there was Hannah’s Victory song in 1 Samuel 2, on which Mary’s song was modeled.—J. Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth, 140

Thursday, November 19, 2020

It's official!

I announced in Ancient News that I would be leaving Eisenbrauns/PSU Press at the end of November. Today, it was officially announced that I have begun working for Lockwood Press. Below is the announcement that was posted to the Agade list via Jack Sasson.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Shake, rattle, and burn!

Yet Psalm 104 is clear that while God’s judgment of evil (temporarily) destabilizes the cosmos, this is not God’s normative relationship to the world he loves. Earlier in the psalm we are told that God “waters the mountains” and that “the earth is satisfied from the fruit of [God’s] work” (v. 13). Indeed, at creation YHWH “set the earth on its foundations, / so that it shall never be shaken” (v. 5). The paradox is that God’s initially unshakable world, now distorted by evil, will indeed be shaken when evil is removed, but that is precisely so that creation can once again stand secure.—J. Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth, 126

Monday, November 16, 2020

Judgment with a purpose

Suffice it to say that if we were to investigate every case of theophanic judgment in the Old Testament, we would find not only that the language of extreme destruction typically describes some intrahistorical event, but also that it is always for the ultimate purpose of salvation.—J. Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth, 122

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

It's more than just a song

The logic of the prophetic critique is that although “worship” is an explicit claim of allegiance to YHWH, such a claim must be backed up with justice, which is a concrete demonstration of this allegiance. Wliat God really wants is human flourishing, embodied in the healing of the social order, and those who want what God wants will manifest this in their lives. Indeed, the bond between allegiance to YHWH and practice of justice toward the neighbor is so strong that Jeremiah tells King Jehoiakim that doing justice (particularly caring for the marginal) is equivalent to knowing God (Jer. 22:15-16). 104

<idle musing>
Would that someone would tell many modern-day "evangelicals" this! I really like the Anabaptist saying, "No transformation, no salvation." Now, before you accuse me of works righteousness and all that, let me say that all of the transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit, empowering and giving the desire to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).
</idle musing>

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

He pegged it!

Just as the Torah affirms that the love of God should lead to a life of obedience, the prophets emphasize that Israel’s allegiance or submission to YHWH, the God of the exodus, ought to be manifest in a life that embodies righteousness and justice, since these are central to the interhuman flourishing that God desires. In the prophetic perspective, allegiance to the one true God inevitably flows into a life of obedience characterized especially by justice in human relations; by contrast, idolatry or false allegiance flows into a life of disobedience characterized by injustice. This is most fundamentally a matter of imaging God; the life of a person or community reflects the sort of god they are committed to. The two main targets of prophetic critique are thus idolatry and injustice, since false worship is inextricably linked to corrupt living.—J. Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth, 103