Thursday, September 28, 2023

Reestablishing order from chaos (no, not our modern world!)

The Israelite nation is holy, co-identified with Yahweh and the cosmic order. The Canaanite nations are thematically related to cosmic chaos. The persistent emphasis of the conquest is to drive out the people of the land; thus the conquest thrusts chaos aside in order to make a space in which order will be established. When stated in this way, it becomes very apparent what the conquest is: a thematic recapitulation of the creation account in Genesis 1, where chaos was driven away to establish order.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 158

Alas! and did my Savior bleed

142 Martyrdom (Avon). C. M.

1 Alas! and did my Savior bleed,
   and did my Sovereign die!
   Would he devote that sacred head
   for sinners such as I?

2 Was it for crimes that I have done,
   he groaned upon the tree?
   Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
   And love beyond degree!

3 Well might the sun in darkness hide,
   and shut its glories in,
   when God, the mighty maker, died
   for his own creature's sin.

4 Thus might I hide my blushing face
   while his dear cross appears;
   dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
   and melt mine eyes to tears.

5 But drops of tears can ne'er repay
   the debt of love I owe.
   Here, Lord, I give myself away;
   'tis all that I can do.
                         Isaac Watts
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

But they are invincible!

All of this indicates that Leviticus 18 is describing the people of Canaan in terms of a well-known ancient Near Eastern trope about invincible barbarians destined to be destroyed by the gods. Despite the portrait of the barbarians, their status as living outside the ordered world, and their destiny of destruction, the trope is never used as an excuse to destroy them on behalf of the offended gods (what we would call holy war) because the gods reserve the right to deal with them themselves. It is also never used to justify attacking the barbarians and taking their resources (implied by the English word conquest), because attacking the barbarians militarily is suicide. Normally the trope is employed to rationalize losing battles (not winning them) and avoiding enemies (not assaulting them). This means that Israel would not have used the trope to justify going to war, and if Israel would not have used it, an interpreter of Israel’s actions cannot use it either. Likewise, the interpreter cannot use the reference to make any claims about actual behavior of actual Canaanites, because law treatises (and violations thereof) do not describe actions per se, and the trope of invincible barbarians does not necessarily reflect actual observations.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 144

O sacred head, now wounded

141 Passion Chorale. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 O sacred Head, now wounded,
   with grief and shame weighed down,
   now scornfully surrounded
   with thorns, Thine only crown.
   O sacred Head, what glory,
   what bliss till now was Thine!
   Yet, though despised and gory,
   I joy to call Thee mine.

2 What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered
   was all for sinners' gain;
   mine, mine was the transgression,
   but Thine the deadly pain.
   Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
   'Tis I deserve Thy place;
   look on me with Thy favor,
   vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

3 What language shall I borrow
   to thank Thee, dearest Friend,
   for this, Thy dying sorrow,
   Thy pity without end?
   O make me Thine forever!
   And should I fainting be,
   Lord, let me never, never
   outlive my love for Thee.
                         Authorship uncertain
                         Tr. by Paul Gerhardt
                         Tr. by James W. Alexander
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I've always liked this hymn, especially the third verse, the final lines:

   And should I fainting be,
   Lord, let me never, never
   outlive my love for Thee.

Far from being a depressing thought, I find it an encouragement, because I know that the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit is so strong that I can't help but fall deeper in love with him. adds a fourth verse, which I don't recall seeing before:

4 Be near when I am dying,
   O show Thy cross to me!
   And, for my succor flying,
   come, Lord, to set me free:
   these eyes, new faith receiving,
   from Thee shall never move;
   for he who dies believing
   dies safely in Thy love.
They also note that some attribute the hymn to Bernard of Clairvaux and others to Arnulf, Abbot of Villers-la-Ville, about whom they have no information.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Where's the magic pill?

We can't buy good health; we must earn it. We are given only one body in this lifetime, so I encourage you to take proper care of it. Over time, your health and happiness are inescapably linked. You don't get a new body when you destroy your health with disease-causing foods.—Joel Fuhrman, Eat to Live, 314

Hermeneutics (Tozer for Tuesday)

Here is a good working rule to help you rightly understand Scripture: If you do not have more than one verse to support what you read, do not teach it. Because, if it is not found in more than one verse in the Bible, chances are it is not found there either, and what you think is a passage teaching a certain thing does not teach it at all.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 169

What's the point of righteousness?

The Pharisees can serve as an illustration of this. The problem was not that they were immoral or burdensome, because they were neither of these things; their righteousness is commended in Matthew 5:20. The problem was that they had failed to understand why they were supposed to be righteous; thus, instead of their righteousness representing God as wise and just, their righteousness represented him as petty, arbitrary, and susceptible to manipulation. The point was never the righteousness; the point was always the representation, which is why the Pharisees are repeatedly equated with their idolatrous ancestors. Misrepresentation by righteousness is no different than misrepresentation by unrighteousness.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 124

<idle musing>
Ouch! How many of us fall into that category? Lord, have mercy!
</idle musing>

There is a fountain

140 Cleansing Fountain. C. M. D.

1 There is a fountain filled with blood
   Drawn from Immanuel's veins;
   And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
   Lose all their guilty stains:
   Lose all their guilty stains,
   Lose all their guilty stains;
   And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
   Lose all their guilty stains.

2 The dying thief rejoiced to see
   That fountain in his day;
   And there may I, though vile as he,
   Wash all my sins away:
   Wash all my sins away,
   Wash all my sins away;
   And there may I, though vile as he,
   Wash all my sins away.

3 Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
   Shall never lose its pow'r,
   Till all the ransomed Church of God
   Be saved, to sin no more:
   Be saved, to sin no more,
   Be saved, to sin no more;
   Till all the ransomed Church of God
   Be saved to sin no more.

4 E'er since by faith I saw the stream
   Thy flowing wounds supply,
   Redeeming love has been my theme,
   And shall be till I die:
   And shall be till I die,
   And shall be till I die;
   Redeeming love has been my theme,
   And shall be till I die.

5 When this poor lisping, stamm'ring tongue
   Lies silent in the grave,
   Then in a nobler, sweeter song
   I'll sing Thy pow'r to save:
   I'll sing Thy pow'r to save,
   I'll sing Thy pow'r to save;
   Then in a nobler, sweeter song
   I'll sing Thy pow'r to save.
                         Willaim Cowper
The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Monday, September 25, 2023

You are NOT rational

Addictions affect our ability to think rationally; they prejudice our judgment in favor of maintaining the addiction. That is why it is so difficult even to decide to change, much less actually change. Those addicted to rich, heart attack-causing foods are more than happy to believe the lie that a low cholesterol level is not desirable and readily parrot high-protein enthusiasts who spread the myth that low cholesterol is dangerous. Many people addicted to animal foods would embrace the belief that the earth is flat if they could use it to justify their consumption of fatty meats, butter, and cheese.—Joel Fuhrman, Eat to Live, 167

<idle musing>
</idle musing>

Why are the gods condemned in Psalm 82?

This is the difference between Yahweh and the gods who stand accused in Psalm 82. These gods fail to uphold justice (Ps 82:2–4), not because they are evil and want to encourage injustice—ancient Near Eastern kings testify that their gods demanded justice—but because they are codependent; if they punish their people as they should, they will no longer receive sacrifices to meet their needs (compare the sentiment expressed in Jer 7:9–10). In contrast, Yahweh’s relationship with his people is not defined by codependence but justice.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 123–24

It is finished!

139 Christi Mutter. 8. 8. 7.

“It is finished!” Man of sorrows!
   From thy cross our frailty borrows
   Strength to bear and conquer thus.

2. While extended there we view thee,
   Mighty Sufferer! draw us to thee;
   Sufferer victorious!

3. Not in vain for us uplifted,
   Man of sorrows, wonder-gifted!
   May that sacred emblem be;

4. Lifted high amid the ages,
   Guide of heroes, saints, and sages,
   May it guide us still to thee!

5. Still to thee! whose love unbounded
   Sorrow’s depths for us has sounded,
   Perfected by conflicts sore.

6. Honored be thy cross forever;
   Star, that points our high endeavor
   Whither thou hast gone before!
                         Frederick H. Hedge
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Interestingly, the author is a Unitarian, which would explain the lack of any reference to Jesus as divine! Nevertheless, a good hymn, even if he leaves Jesus as simply a "Guide of heroes, saints, and sages," rather than an enabling presence.
</idle musing>

Sunday, September 24, 2023

O Love divine, what hast thou done?

137 Selena. 8. 8. 8. 8. 8. 8.

1. O Love divine, what hast thou done!
   The immortal God hath died for me!
   The Father's coeternal Son
   bore all my sins upon the tree.
   The immortal God hath died for me!
   My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

2. Is crucified for me and you,
   to bring us rebels back to God.
   Believe, believe the record true,
   ye all are bought with Jesus' blood.
   Pardon for all flows from his side:
   My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

3. Behold him, all ye that pass by,
   the bleeding Prince of life and peace!
   Come, sinners, see your Savior die,
   and say, "Was ever grief like his?"
   Come, feel with me his blood applied:
   My Lord, my Love, is crucified!
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I don't recall ever singing this hymn, to my loss. And in the past, whenever I would read a hymn or two devotionally, I would always just read ones I knew. This is the first time I've gone through this hymnal from front to back. It's been fun! And educational, too. adds a fourth verse:

4 Then let us sit beneath his Cross,
   And gladly catch the healing stream;
   All Things for him account but Loss,
   And give up all our Hearts to him:
   Of nothing speak, or think beside,
   But Jesus and him crucify'd.
Not sure why they would omit it; it's loaded with good theology!
</idle musing>

Saturday, September 23, 2023

O come and mourn with me a while

134 St. Cross. L. M.

1 O come and mourn with me awhile;
   O come ye to the Savior's side;
   O come, together let us mourn:
   Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

2 Have we no tears to shed for Him,
   While soldiers scoff and foes deride?
   Ah! Look how patiently He hangs:
   Jesus, our Lord, is crucified!

3 Seven times He spake seven words of love;
   And all three hours His silence cried
   For mercy on the souls of men:
   Jesus, our Lord, is crucified!

4 O love of God! O sin of man!
   In this dread act your strength is tried;
   And victory remains with love:
   Jesus, our Lord, is crucified!
                         Frederick W. Faber
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
We go from the exultation of Palm Sunday in yesterday's hymn to the agony of the passion in this one. I do like the fact that the hymn, despite being all about the agony of the garden and the cross, ends on a high note of "victory remains with love."
</idle musing>

Friday, September 22, 2023

Just? Not so much

Ancient Near Eastern gods were not just; although they valued justice (because order in the human world allowed humans to serve their function of providing for the needs of the gods), they themselves were petty, vindictive, and arbitrary in bestowing favor or disfavor. In contrast, because Yahweh’s identity is vested in justice, if Israel behaves according to its culture’s understanding of justice (circumscribed by the holiness code), it will be a recipient of blessing.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 122–23

<idle musing>
If ever there was an understatement, they just made it! Not just ANE gods, but ancient Greek and Roman gods fit that description. Remember, the Greek philosophers bemoaned the moral state of the gods! They were anything but just themselves, although they didn't like injustice among the people and were thought to be quick to judge it.

And this snippet brings up another thing that John Walton has continually pushed in his books: The gods created humanity to serve them so they could party/do their thing. So, basically people aren't valued as people, but as slaves. That's a radically different viewpoint from the biblical one, where humanity ('adam) is created in the image and likeness of God (בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ). Not as serving a needy god, but as stewards of his creation. There's a lot to unpack there, but we'll leave it alone today.
</idle musing>

Behold the savior of mankind

136 Dundee (Windsor). C. M.

1 Behold the Savior of mankind
   Nailed to the shameful tree!
   How vast the love that Him inclined
   To bleed and die for thee!

2 Hark, how He groans, while nature shakes,
   And earth's strong pillars bend!
   The temple's veil in sunder breaks;
   The solid marbles rend.

3 'Tis done! the precious ransom's paid!
   "Receive my soul!" He cries;
   See where He bows His sacred head!
   He bows His head and dies!

4 But soon He'll break death's envious chain,
   And in full glory shine;
   O Lamb of God, was ever pain,
   Was ever love, like Thine?
                         Samuel Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
No, not that Wesley! His father Samuel, who also wrote some good hymns. And note that he ends on a high note, looking forward to the resurrection.

I know some people claim we don't dwell enough on the cruxificion and rush through it to Easter, but we are a resurrection people! Yes, Calvary had to happen, but if that were the end of the story, there wouldn't be a story. The resurrection affirmed what happened on Calvary. And the ascension (the part that really tends to get overlooked!) sealed it and proved that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God, who then sent the Holy Spirit to his followers that we might live in the victory he won. (I won't get into the weeds as to whether the Spirit comes from the Father through the son or from the Father and the son, the so-called filioque clause in the creeds!)
</idle musing>