Thursday, June 30, 2011

Generation to generation

“In summary, in the first set of three scenarios ([Ezekiel 18] vv. 5–18) the divine answer undermines the principle of wickedness or righteousness being carried from generation to generation and with this prohibits a current generation from blaming a former generation for its behavior or predicament. Each generation stands on its own. In the two additional scenarios (vv. 21–24), the divine answer focuses in on the opportunity even within a generation for repentance to change its consequences, the implication being that, for those who have begun as either the 'wicked' generation (vv. 10–13) or the 'righteous' generation (vv. 5–9, 14–18), there is the possibility of a 'repentance' for good or ill that will change its consequences of death or life.”—A Severe Mercy, page 278

<idle musing>
Debbie and I were just talking about this the other day. Ezekiel seems to waffle on this. But, perhaps it is a case of strong tendencies, with an opportunity for repentance? It is certainly true that certain sinful habits seem to run in families for generations. It is also true that not everyone in those families falls prey to them, which lines up with Boda's observation here.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Peace without repentance?

“In the middle of this section [Ezekiel 4-32], which shuts down all inquiry by the prophet to Yahweh, something foreshadowed in Ezekiel’s commission in 3:24–27, comes the first call to repentance in chaps. 4–32 when Ezekiel is instructed to say (14:6) 'Repent (שוב) and turn away (שוב Hiphil) from your idols, and turn (שוב Hiphil) your faces away from all your abominations.' Here, repentance is directly related to an abandonment of idolatry, both internally ('their hearts,' 14:3–5) and externally ('their faces,' 14:3–4, 6–7), that is, this repentance is related to both the affections as well as the actions of the people. Against the backdrop of the false prophecy of his time, which promised peace and discouraged repentance, Ezekiel 14 depicts Ezekiel fulfilling his commission to prophesy approaching doom and encourage repentance.”—A Severe Mercy, page 274

<idle musing>
Not so different from right now, is it? "Jesus just makes things better; you don't need to repent, God doesn't hate sin..."
</idle musing>

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sin has repercussions

“On three occasions, the book of Ezekiel employs the priestly root מעל [M'L] to describe the sin of the people (14:13, 18:24, 39:23). This root associates the sin of Israel with the most hideous of priestly offenses, that is, using something holy for unholy purposes. Ezekiel is not merely using the priestly vocabulary on a metaphorical level but is drawing on the views of impurity related to moral infractions found in the Priestly Code. “With language like this Ezekiel has moved beyond the metaphorical: sin causes its own kind of moral impurity which, like physical impurity, can taint YHWH’s possession” (Mein 2001: 152). This explains why their impure behavior leads to Yahweh leaving the temple (Ezekiel 10), because the holiness and purity of his sanctuary are under threat, and their behavior leads to their expulsion from the land (cf. Lev 18:24–25).”—A Severe Mercy, pages 270

<idle musing>
God is zealous for the holiness of his temple; the OT/HB makes that very clear. Now, what/who is his temple? Why should he be any less zealous for the holiness of his temple now than he was then? And, the good news is he empowers and indwells us via the Holy Spirit to make the temple clean. Imparted holiness—all via grace!—not just imputed holiness.
</idle musing>

Monday, June 27, 2011


How about a picture of some flowers? These are around our pump. Yes, Renee, those are sunflowers :) Marigolds and sunflowers that I planted from the birdseed; not for human consumption, but the birds should enjoy them.


I noticed that I never mentioned the results of my March broccoli planting. I mentioned that it dropped to 22º the next week, but that was it. Well, take note so you don't do this :) The broccoli came through fine, but it only produced little buttons; I had read that it might happen, now I know. The largest head was all of 3 inches across; most were about an inch...

On a related note, after 2.5 years, I managed to kill my yogurt cultures. Bummer! I didn't check the temperature of the water and it was too hot. The yogurt turned out runny and tasteless. So, I had to buy a container of Dannon™ plain and start a new batch. It turned out well and I'm back to using my own starter. Hopefully I'll watch the temperature of the water better...

How about some bicycling?
Because of getting and taking grandkids, conferences, and rain, my riding has been a bit less than normal on the weekends. The last two weekends have been the first ones I really did much extensive riding—other than the daily 11 miles to work and back. I must say, the back roads in the county are getting bad. I read in the paper last week that they hadn't done any real maintenance on them for 3 years, but were planning on redoing 160 miles this summer. They certainly can use it. I just hope those 160 miles include the 70 I rode this weekend!

More from Nahum

“Nahum emphasizes that God remedies sin through retributive judgment and that this principle is rooted in his very character revealed to Israel at Sinai. One cannot eliminate this sort of retribution “without discarding the concern for justice as well” (Roberts 1991: 49). Whereas Jonah has revealed that the “gracious” half of the character creed is the foundation for the repentance and forgiveness of the nation of Assyria, Nahum reveals that the same Yahweh is also a God who takes sin seriously and deals with it through punishment”—A Severe Mercy, page 326

<idle musing>
Of course, we want to hang onto the gracious half and discard the other...but, you can't discard one without changing the very nature of who YHWH is.
</idle musing>

Friday, June 24, 2011


“Although the book [of Nahum] is focused on the judgment of Assyria and at times addresses this imperial foe, it is clearly designed to address a Judean audience (e.g., Nah 1:12–13). This is suggested by the name of the prophet himself, Nahum (meaning “comfort”), a hope appropriate for an audience who had lived under the domination of Assyria. This audience has questioned God’s ability to deal with the sinful oppression experienced under the foreign hegemony of the Assyrians. To them the prophet addresses his question in 1:9a, which is best translated 'What do you reckon unto Yhwh?' 'The question essentially asks, “what do you think about Yhwh?” or “how do you evaluate Yhwh?” and appears to be designed to challenge doubts about Yhwh’s power and justice in the aftermath of the assertions made by the partial acrostic hymn.'[Sweeney (2000: 2:431).]”A Severe Mercy, pages 323-324

And even more garden

This is the main garden, including the strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. We have one 16' strawberry patch that has produced 33 pints of strawberry jam so far this year. I'm not sure we're going to get much more, with it being so wet. They are starting to rot and the grubs are getting bad, too.

There are 3 raspberry rows, 18 x 3 feet. Two of them are well-established; the third one is new this year, so a bit thin yet. And, we have 5 blueberry bushes; we had 6, but one didn't make it through the winter. We won't get many blueberries off them this year or next. It takes a few years to get established.

In the forefront are tomatoes (just transplanted a week ago to take the place of the early broccoli), onions—we like onions!—and some beets, kohlrabi, and chard.

The row cover is protecting some cabbage transplants and some potatoes. Row cover is effective for keeping the insects off until the plants get big enough and tough enough to survive their assault. I took it off them on Tuesday. The blue container is an experiment in growing corn in a self-watering container. Hope it works...

Why we need books

A nice little op-ed about reading. Here's a brief snippet:

If you read a book with your laptop thrumming at the other side of the room, it can feel like trying to read with a heavy metal band shrieking in front of you. To read, you need to slow down. You need mental silence except for the words. That's getting harder to find.

No, don't misunderstand me. I adore the web, and they will have to wrench my Twitter feed from my cold dead hands. This isn't going to turn into an antedeluvian rant against the glories of our wired world. But there's a reason why that word -- 'wired' -- means both 'connected to the internet' and 'high, frantic, unable to concentrate.'

So in the age of the internet, physical paper books are a technology we need more, not less...

A book has a different relationship to time than a TV show or a Facebook update. It says that something was worth taking from the endless torrent of data and laying down on an object that will still look the same a hundred years from now. The French writer Jean-Phillipe De Tonnac says "the true function of books is to safeguard the things that forgetfulness constantly threatens to destroy." It's precisely because it is not immediate -- because it doesn't know what happened five minutes ago in Kazakhstan, or in Charlie Sheen's apartment -- that the book matters.

That's why we need books, and why I believe they will survive. Because most humans have a desire to engage in deep thought and deep concentration. Those muscles are necessary for deep feeling and deep engagement. Most humans don't just want mental snacks forever; they also want meals. The twenty hours it takes to read a book require a sustained concentration it's hard to get anywhere else. Sure, you can do that with a DVD boxset too -- but your relationship to TV will always ultimately be that of a passive spectator. With any book, you are the co-creator, imagining it as you go. As Kurt Vonnegut put it, literature is the only art form in which the audience plays the score.

<idle musing>
I could quote the whole thing, but do take the time to read it. He makes some very good points. There's a reason I don't have a smartphone and Internet at home...
</idle musing>

Thursday, June 23, 2011

And more garden

This is the watermelon patch. The chicken wire keeps the cats and related varmints (dogs) from turning it into a big litter box.

One of the transplants didn't make it, but we should still have a healthy crop of watermelon. I started them from seed and then put them into 4" pots before transplanting them. Since this picture was taken, they've grown quite a bit and are now obviously vines.

Yes, Hebrew does matter

“In these two passages [Ezek. 14 & 18], Ezekiel employs a combination unique in the use of this root, in which the Qal of שוב [shuv] is followed immediately by the Hiphil of the same root, a collocation that functions as a “reinforced Qal” and means “turn back and let yourself be turned backed” (14:6; 18:30, 32; Holladay 1958: 103).”—A Severe Mercy, page 267

<idle musing>
Yep. Despite having 20+ English translations to choose from, sometimes knowing a bit of Hebrew helps :)
</idle musing>

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stop interceding!

“It is clear that the prophet Ezekiel would be allowed to bring the word of God to the people but would not be allowed to take the word of the people to God. A prohibition of this sort suggests that the coming judgment is inevitable and inescapable. It is instructive that the prohibition on intercession is operative within the first half of the book (chaps. 4–32), the precise section that is dominated by judgment, whereas the prohibition is released with the fall of Jerusalem in chap. 33, just before the section dominated by salvation (chaps. 34–48).”—A Severe Mercy, page 259

<idle musing>
That would be a hard injunction. One thing I've learned over the years of Bible reading is that more than half a prophet's job is interceding for the people. I can't imagine being told to stop. Of course, Jeremiah was told to stop and didn't.
</idle musing>

More garden

Here's a look at our herb garden. The dill (at the back) is from last year's plants; as the heads went to seed, I pulled up the plants and shook the seed out in the herb garden. I had planted them in the old herb garden, which is where the raspberries are now. As you can see, they definitely like their new location.

I transplanted about 10 or so basil seedlings, but they didn't survive. Neither did the direct seeded basil. What you are seeing is dill, mint, oregano, chives, one thyme plant and some parsley. I transplanted some more parsley after this picture, so now there are 7 plants.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


The warning labels on cigarettes are getting a facelift. About time! Here's a sample of one:

You can see them all here.

Debbie had a grandfather so addicted to smoking that he tried to smuggle matches and cigarettes into the hospital. His sister caught him with them before he could light up. He was on oxygen! Can you imagine what that would have been like?! She also had an uncle die of emphysema and another one recently died of lung cancer. It isn't a pretty sight to see someone you love waste away, is it, Lonnie?

An internal work

“Repentance and the enduring avoidance of apostasy is therefore secured only by a radical, internal work of Yahweh, which the community in exile will experience (Raitt 1977: 175–84). The mournful cry of Ephraim suggests that this will involve prayer and humility but will rely on Yahweh for its success.

“This new era is also at least marked, if not made possible, by God’s new stance toward the past sin that has been highlighted from the beginning of the book of Jeremiah. Yahweh promises in 31:34 that he will forgive (סלח) their guilt/iniquity (עון) and no longer remember (זכר) their sins (חטאת) and in 33:8 that he will cleanse (טהר Piel) them and forgive (סלח) them of all their guilt/iniquity (עון) by which they sinned (חטא) and rebelled (פשע) against him. This building up of the vocabulary of sin, using all three standard words in Hebrew (Brueggemann 1998: 314), emphasizes the comprehensiveness of this divine act. No basis for this forgiveness and cleansing is given besides the merciful action of Yahweh. Jer 33:8 “seems almost overloaded with its emphasis on this work of God” (Fretheim 2002: 475).”—A Severe Mercy, pages 250-251

<idle musing>
I feel like I'm reading Romans or Galatians, or some other New Testament book. Of course, where did the ideas come from in the first place? After all, the Hebrew Bible/LXX were the early church's Bible.
<idle musing>

new book to get excited about

Biblia Hebraica Quinta - BHQ 7
Edited by Natalio Fernandez Marcos
Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart, Forthcoming October 2011
ca 240 pages, Hebrew.
ISBN: 9783438052674
List Price: $109.95
Your Price: $82.46

What more can I say?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Perennial Garden

We have a perennial garden that was here when we moved in. We've added a bit to it, such as daffodils, hyacinth, irises, coreopsis, and a tulip or two. I don't know what these are in the picture below, but they are beautiful and only bloom for a week or two. We make sure to enjoy them each day. To give you an idea of context, they stand about 4 feet high.

Here's the whole garden, for some perspective. The tree to the right is a small crab apple.

Necessary, but not sufficient

“The message of repentance is evident throughout the section [Jeremiah 2-23], in the early phase anticipating the penitential response of the people but, as the section progresses, denouncing their lack of penitential response. The section is dominated by dialogue involving God, the people, and the prophet. The people’s cries are evident throughout, but cries that claim innocence are deemed inappropriate and cries that confess guilt are considered inadequate. Rather, in the first section (2:1–4:4) God calls through the prophet for a repentance that involves inner affections including shame and devotion, verbal expression including confession of sin, and practical action including turning from evil and turning to good.”—A Severe Mercy, page 245

<idle musing>
Again, no transformation, no real repentance...
</idle musing>

Thought for the day

This is one of my favorite sections of Isaiah; I think it makes a good thought for today:

The blacksmith takes a tool
and works with it in the coals;
he shapes an idol with hammers,
he forges it with the might of his arm.
He gets hungry and loses his strength;
he drinks no water and grows faint.
The carpenter measures with a line
and makes an outline with a marker;
he roughs it out with chisels
and marks it with compasses.
He shapes it in human form,
human form in all its glory,
that it may dwell in a shrine.
He cut down cedars,
or perhaps took a cypress or oak.
He let it grow among the trees of the forest,
or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.
It is used as fuel for burning;
some of it he takes and warms himself,
he kindles a fire and bakes bread.
But he also fashions a god and worships it;
he makes an idol and bows down to it.
Half of the wood he burns in the fire;
over it he prepares his meal,
he roasts his meat and eats his fill.
He also warms himself and says,
“Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”
From the rest he makes a god, his idol;
he bows down to it and worships.
He prays to it and says,
“Save me! You are my god!”
They know nothing, they understand nothing;
their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,
and their minds closed so they cannot understand.
No one stops to think,
no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,
“Half of it I used for fuel;
I even baked bread over its coals,
I roasted meat and I ate.
Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?
Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”
Such people feed on ashes, a deluded heart misleads them;
they cannot save themselves, or say,
“Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

<idle musing>
Of course, idols come in all shapes and sizes. Today's aren't necessarily made by the blacksmith; it's not infrequent for us to make them ourselves. Whatever comes between us and God is an idol. Even the church...
</idle musing>

Friday, June 17, 2011

Turn or burn

“...the second necessary step in the prophetic return (שוב [shuv]). A return such as this begins with an acknowledgment of guilt (3:13), expressed through a prayer such as the one showcased in 3:22b–25, but must lead to a change in behavior. The kind of “return” in mind is then delineated in 4:1b–2 in terms of practical action to stop idolatry and injustice, that is, as the central statement declares, “no longer go astray.” That this sort of repentance is not merely external action without internal motivation is made clear in 4:3–4, which describes “repentance at a deep level lest Yahweh’s burning and unquenchable wrath be poured out on them” (Thompson 1980: 206).”—A Severe Mercy, page 236

<idle musing>
No change in behavior means no real repentance. Repentance is more than feeling sorry for getting caught. I was talking with someone a few weeks ago and they put this way, "Everyone has to have a 'Paul moment' before repentance becomes real." Well put; we have to realize we can't deliver ourselves and that we need deliverance. Then we can turn and it will be real because the Spirit of God will be the one empowering you.
</idle musing>

Thought for the day

"When people ask me which version of the Bible they should use, I have for many years told them that I don't much mind as long as they always have at least two open on the desk. It is, of course, better for everyone to learn Greek. The finest translations are still, basically, a matter of trying to play a Beethoven symphony on a mouth-organ."—N.T. Wright in a wonderful article found here.

(seen on Facebook, but I can't remember from whom...if it was you, leave a comment and I'll credit you)

Update: it was Chip Hardy of the University of Chicago.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jeremiah enters the ring

“...the book of Jeremiah draws from a broad vocabulary pool to describe human response in the penitential process. Dominating this vocabulary is clearly change, with special focus on the root שוב [shuv]. The root lies most often at the intersection of embracing and rejecting God, describing either the movement from sin to God or from God to sin, but there are other ways to speak about repentance and its opposite, apostasy, which suggests that there is a breadth to what repentance and apostasy entail. The vocabulary of seeking/finding and forsaking/rejecting suggests a relational dimension; rebellions/submission and fear/trembling suggest a hierarchical dimension. References to mourning and shame suggest an emotional and social dimension; references to speech and hearing suggest a verbal dimension, that is, attention to prophetic speech and expression in prayer. Whereas the vocabulary of action and movement emphasizes the pragmatic dimension of human response, the vocabulary of the heart stresses the affective dimension. This review of the vocabulary of human response, both positive and negative, reveals the wealth of expression and also the height of expectation for the repentance of the people within the book of Jeremiah.”A Severe Mercy, page 230

<idle musing>
Pretty all-inclusive, I would say. Reminds me of Deuteronomy 6:6-9:

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

</idle musing>

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Isaiah 53

“Chapters 52-53 [of Isaiah] reveal how the arm of the LORD triumphs ironically through the suffering of the servant on behalf of the rest of the community and, according to 52:13-15, even those outside the Jewish community. In Isaiah 54, Zion is called to burst into song and shout for joy, the same response demanded when the arm of the LORD worked salvation in 52:7-10. With chap. 55, however, 'the segment culminates in the great invitation to participate in a renewal covenant,' that is to respond to God's salvation of the servant who has borne the sin of the people (Oswalt 1997: 10).”—A Severe Mercy, page 211

We see as in a mirror

Saw this yesterday:

Although Facebook is properly classified as "social software," it is more accurately categorized as mirror-ware, a whole new kind of social that consists only of us and our self-projections. And it is that mirror, that seductive invitation to reflect us and only us back to ourselves that damns us.

Wait, it gets better:

On Facebook we never think outside the four walls of the self, and we need never imagine readers different from us. We expect neither argument nor curiosity nor challenge. Just a thumbs up or down.

<idle musing>
Hmmm,,,seems the perfect medium for our narcissistic society, doesn't it?

I just read this today:

Go now, write it on a tablet for them,
inscribe it on a scroll,
that for the days to come
it may be an everlasting witness.

   For these are rebellious people, deceitful children,
children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction.
They say to the seers,
“See no more visions!”
and to the prophets,
“Give us no more visions of what is right!
Tell us pleasant things,
prophesy illusions.
Leave this way,
get off this path,
and stop confronting us
with the Holy One of Israel!"—Isaiah 30:8-11 TNIV

</idle musing>

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


“...the priestly tradition envisioned the world according to a scale of categories, from unclean to clean to holy. Even what was clean needed to be specially 'sanctified' (קדש qiddesh) in order to qualify for contact with God (who is the realm of the holy). For the unclean to attain the status of clean, it needed to be 'cleansed' (טהר tiher) first. The unclean is never envisioned to be in the presence of the holy, that is, the divine.”—A Severe Mercy, page 195

Monday, June 13, 2011

miscellaneous links

These have been floating around in my drafts for too long. Some are from today, some much older. A veritable hodge-podge of goodies.

Well before Pentecost, but appropriate, from Alan Knox.

What is a church? Two lists, from Leighton Tebay. Bet you can guess which one I prefer :)

And, what about the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers?
Guy Muse at M Blog has some insight:

A/P’s [Apostles/Prophets], in particular, have been marginalized to almost be considered an “endangered species.” Legitimate A/P’s are the hardest to find or identify within the Body of Christ. A/P’s by nature do not often carry the proper credentials and dislike titles like Pastor, Rev., or Dr. They aren’t usually known for their slick blogs or prolific Tweeting. When they do speak, their voices and actions make us uncomfortable. A lot of their ministry sounds like it is coming out of “left field.” Seldom do A/P’s coincide with the standard “right-wing” S[sic]/T [Pastors/Teachers] church views. In a church not meant to have factions, A/P’s would be considered the left-wing “liberals” of the church–loved and tolerated, yes–but kind of weird, disruptive, and even dangerous for our youth!

Some more good stuff from
Guy, quoting J. Lee Grady on a meditation on II Kings 6:1-7 where the ax head falls in the river (part of the Elisha cycle):

It illustrates how desperately we need to recover what we've lost. Perhaps you've noticed that our blade is missing. I don't know exactly when it  fell off the handle, but it seems as if we've been trying to build God's house without the sharp edge of His genuine anointing. We've traded the real for the  phony. We've cheapened Pentecost to the point that it's been reduced to dry  religious programs and circus sideshow antics.

We've mastered the art of hype. We know how to fake the anointing. We push  people to the floor during our altar times. We know how to manipulate music  and crowds so that we can create the atmosphere of the anointing. But in so  many cases the real anointing isn't there. In its place is a hollow imitation. Some charismatic leaders today are even selling specially handcrafted oils  that promise the Holy Spirit's power. Others sell scented candles that claim  to bring God's presence. And last year one brother was traveling the country  with feathers in a jar— claiming that these belonged to an angel with healing  powers.

Lord, forgive us for our charlatanism. We need the blade back! We must cry out  to the God Who has the power to raise iron from the bottom of a river.  We are not going to advance Christ's kingdom, or build His victorious church,  using scented oils, fake charms, ear-tickling prophecies and goofy charismatic  gimmicks. This is all wood, hay and stubble destined for the furnace. What we  need today is the sharp blade of the Word that is empowered by the Holy Ghost  and fire.

Thoughts on the cross from Scot McKnight:

The disciples want a glory discipleship but Jesus shows that the essence of life is sacrificial and not ruling. And here he gets to the very core of Mark’s theology: “If at the very heart of your worldview is a man dying for his enemies, then the way you’re going to win influence in society is through service rather than power and control” (149).

The saving cross is the paradigm for the serving cross.

And, how about this

Now I know the answer that would be given by many conservative American Christians. They consider their private property to be inalienable as a fundamental human right, and that even a democratically elected government has no right to deprive them of it.

But the Bible offers a rather different picture. In the Old Testament the collection of tithes, to support the priesthood and the poor, was commanded and enforced under the Law of Moses. The rules for the Jubilee also involve regular and massive enforced redistribution of wealth from those who have acquired it, so that “there need be no poor people among you” (Deuteronomy 15:4, NIV 2011 – clearly alluded to in Acts 4:34 quoted above).

Another mitigation of judgment

“At times, this judgment is mitigated by God's grace, the fourth remedy for sin. In some cases, Yahweh intervenes on behalf of the guilty. This intervention may come in response to their miserable state, to their desperate cries to him, to their admission of sin, and/or to their behavioral change.A Severe Mercy, page 188

<idle musing>
Finally! I was beginning to wonder when grace was going to show up in the list...
</idle musing>

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Discipline of God

“The third remedy for sin is the judgment and discipline of God. In the book of Joshua, the Canaanites are eliminated because of their sinful idolatry, and Achan joins their fate by taking from their spoil. The Canaanites become an example of the potential judgment that will befall Israel if they fail to obey the covenant...According to Judges 10, 1 Sam 7:2-17, 12:8-11, and 1 Kings 8, these acts function as divine discipline to prompt the penitence of the people.”A Severe Mercy, pages 187-188

<idle musing>
Far from capricious, the discipline of God is designed to bring us to him. The New Testament talks about the Israelites as an example to us, the Hebrew Bible uses the Canaanites as an example to the Israelites. We disregard the chastising of God, and off we go into destruction—both now and in the future.
</idle musing>

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The word of God

“The second remedy for sin is the provision of God's word throughout the Former Prophets. Again, the first pericope of the Former Prophets sets the tone for this solution. This word is communicated through the Torah revealed to Moses and now written in a book (Joshua 1). This word is to be ever present with Joshua, filling his mind and mouth. It is this book that sparks the renewal in the reign of Josiah (2 Kings 22-23), allowing Judah to remain in the land. According to 2 Kings 17, it is rejection of the commandments given to the ancestors that resulted in the Exile. God's word, however, is not restricted to the written Torah but also comes directly through the voice of God. This again is seen from the beginning of the Former Prophets as God commissions the new leader in Joshua 1 and confronts him in Joshua 7. Likewise, Solomon will experience direct revelation in 1 Kings 6 and 9. Though these avenues for the word of God can be discerned throughout the Former Prophets, the dominant vehicle of God's word is the prophets, who are raised up to interpret past and announce future judgment, encourage obedience and repentance through word (prophecy) and deed (miracle), and promise salvation.”A Severe Mercy, page 187

But God doesn't mind, right?

"Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless."—Isaiah 10:1-2

‏ה֥וֹי הַחֹֽקְקִ֖ים חִקְקֵי־אָ֑וֶן וּֽמְכַתְּבִ֥ים עָמָ֖ל כִּתֵּֽבוּ׃ ‎
‏ לְהַטּ֤וֹת מִדִּין֙ דַּלִּ֔ים וְלִגְזֹ֕ל מִשְׁפַּ֖ט עֲנִיֵּ֣י עַמִּ֑י לִהְי֤וֹת אַלְמָנוֹת֙ שְׁלָלָ֔ם וְאֶת־יְתוֹמִ֖ים יָבֹֽזּוּ

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The remedy for sin in Joshua/Judges

“How then is the problem of sin remedied in the Former Prophets? The first solution to the sin of the people of Israel is seen from the very first pericope: The provision of faithful leadership. Joshua is presented as the normative leader, on who experiences the presence of God and successfully possesses the land through close attention to Torah (Joshua 1). Joshua plays a powerful role within the nation, keeping them faithful to Yahweh and challenging them to faithfulness at the close of the book (Joshua 22-24). With Joshua's passing, however, the book of Judges plunges in to chaos (Judges 2). Yahweh's answer is constantly to raise up deliverers who possess the spirit of God, and these are able (at least at the outset) to restrain sin in Israel.”A Severe Mercy, page 186

<idle musing>
Again we see the grace of God, reaching down into the depths and pulling us up. Judges isn't a pretty book, but we see God reaching down again and again to pull Israel back. He still reaches out and pulls us back—praise God for that!
</idle musing>

Interesting word play

Seen in an e-mail
"Words, with their weight, have a tendency to fall like birds of prey on delicate ideas, carrying them away before they have a chance to reach fruition."—Lyall Watson, Lifetide

<idle musing>
I've never heard of the book, but the thought is really intriguing...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Joshua on sin

“The depictions of covenant ceremonies in the book of Joshua (esp. Joshua 8, 23, 24) reveal that the covenantal framework of the Torah in general and Deuteronomy in particular are key to its conception of sin. Foundational to this is the understanding of sin in relational terms, which explains why exclusive worship of Yahweh dominates the agenda of the Former Prophets. Key to this covenant principle is the establishment of a relationship between Israel and Yahweh through past miracles of grace on their behalf. Obedience is thus a response to and sin a rejection of the gracious initiative of a redemptive God. Obedience is guided by the Torah revealed on Sinai.”—A Severe Mercy, page 185

<idle musing>
This line is key: "Obedience is thus a response to and sin a rejection of the gracious initiative of a redemptive God." Underline response and gracious initiative. All God, we respond—but we must respond; no transformation, no real response.
</idle musing>

Monday, June 06, 2011

Thought for the day

The LORD enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people:
“It is you who have ruined my vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses.
What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?”
declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.—Isaiah 3:14-15 TNIV

‏יְהוָה֙ בְּמִשְׁפָּ֣ט יָב֔וֹא עִם־זִקְנֵ֥י עַמּ֖וֹ וְשָׂרָ֑יו וְאַתֶּם֙ בִּֽעַרְתֶּ֣ם הַכֶּ֔רֶם גְּזֵלַ֥ת הֶֽעָנִ֖י בְּבָתֵּיכֶֽם׃ ‎
‏ מַלָּכֶם [מַה]־[לָּכֶם֙] תְּדַכְּא֣וּ עַמִּ֔י וּפְנֵ֥י עֲנִיִּ֖ים תִּטְחָ֑נוּ נְאֻם־אֲדֹנָ֥י יְהוִ֖ה צְבָאֽוֹת׃

What we can learn from (the book of) Samuel

“Yahweh consistently raises up prophetic voices to confront Israel with its sin or to announce his judgment, whether this is Samuel confronting the people or its leaders (Eli, Saul) or Nathan and Gad confronting David. In this them prophecy is established early in the history of the monarchy as the conscience of the royal house and the conduit of Yahweh's revelation to it. These prophetic confrontations often encourage or result in a penitential response from their hearers, expressly described at times as verbal admission of Sin (1Sam 7:3-9; 12:1-25; 15:24-25, 30; 2 Sam 12:13; 24:10, 14, 17) and accompanying rites, sometimes with a description of change in behavior 1Sam 7:4). In the case of David in 2 Sam 24, it is the 'troubling' of the heart that leads to admission of sin. Yahweh's response is sometimes to forgive completely (1 Sam 7), at others to mitigate the punishment (1 Samuel 12; 2 Samuel 12, 24), and still others to reject the individual outright (1 Samuel 13, 15).

Mediation is an important theme in Samuel. Samuel serves in this role in the penitential liturgy of 1 Samuel 7, interceding on behalf of Israel. Similarly, in 1 Samuel 12 the people cry for Samuel's intercession (v. 19). He is willing to do so, but he also teaches them so that his intercession is not necessary (v. 23). David plays this role on his own and his people's behalf in the closing chapter of Samuel. His prayer and sacrifice related to the temple site in Jerusalem are essential to securing the grace of God for the nation.

“The book of Samuel does not hide the reality of sin, as Israel becomes a monarchical state. Already in Samuel, dysfunctions that will ultimately bring down the state can be discerned, but alongside them also the basic principle for remedying the sin that plagues the nation.”—A Severe Mercy, pages 163-164

<idle musing>
I've noticed over the years that the Bible is more realistic than we are. It faces our foibles and sins head-on; it doesn't sugar-coat that we need a savior. If only we were as honest with ourselves! We hope for complete forgiveness, but don't want to acknowledge we even need forgiveness! I, for one, am glad their is a mediator...
</idle musing>

Thursday, June 02, 2011

June sale

New month, great new sale...

Celebrate the beginning of Summer (in the northern hemisphere)
with us by adding to your collection of Sumerian books. 20-80%
off on selected titles in our Summer with Sumer sale.

As always, all sales on this web sale are final; no returns will be
permitted. Offer good only on orders placed at
through June 30, 2011.

To easily access all the sale items, please visit:
"Noah's Ark and the Ziusudra Epic: Sumerian Origins of the Flood Myth"
by Robert M. Best
Enlil Press, 1999. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780966784015
List Price: $38.00 Your Price: $7.60

"Sumerian and Akkadian Royal Inscriptions, Volume 1:
Presargonic Inscriptions"
by Jerrold S. Cooper
The American Society Translation Series 1
American Oriental Society, 1986. paperback. English.
ISBN: 9780940490253
List Price: $24.95 Your Price: $19.96

"Sumerian Grammar"
by D. O. Edzard
Society of Biblical Literature -SBL, 2003. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9781589832527
List Price: $25.95 Your Price: $20.76

"Sumerian Literary Fragments from Nippur
by Jenny Heimerdinger
Occasional Publications of the Samuel Noah Kramer Fund - OPSNKF 4
University Museum / Babylonian Section, 1979. Cloth. English.
List Price: $20.00 Your Price: $16.00

"Atra-Hasis: The Babylonian Story of the Flood,
with the Sumerian Flood Story"
by W. G. Lambert, Alan R. Millard, and M. Civil
Eisenbrauns, 1999. paper. English.
ISBN: 9781575061849
List Price: $35.00 Your Price: $24.50

"The Sumerian Sacred Marriage in the Light of Comparative Evidence"
by Pirjo Lapinkivi
State Archives of Assyria Studies - SAAS 15
Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project - NATCP, 2004. Paper. English.
ISBN: 9789514590580
List Price: $75.00 Your Price: $60.00

"The Lamentation over the Destruction of Sumer and Ur"
by Piotr Michalowski
Mesopotamian Civilizations - MC 1
Eisenbrauns, 1989. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780931464430
List Price: $49.50 Your Price: $34.65

"Sacred Marriages: The Divine-Human Sexual Metaphor
from Sumer to Early Christianity"
Edited by Martti Nissinen and Risto Uro
Eisenbrauns, 2008. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9781575061184
List Price: $59.50 Your Price: $35.70

"Neo-Sumerian Archival Texts Primarily from Nippur in the
University Museum, the Oriental Institute and the Iraq Museum"
by David I. Owen
Eisenbrauns, 1982. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780931464096
List Price: $60.00 Your Price: $48.00

"Sumerian Dictionary, Volume A/1"
Edited by Ake W. Sjoberg
Sumerian Dictionary - SD A/1
University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology -
University of Pennsylvania, 1992. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780924171215
List Price: $60.00 Your Price: $48.00

"Sumerian Dictionary, Volume A/2"
Edited by Ake W. Sjoberg
Sumerian Dictionary - SD A/2
University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology -
University of Pennsylvania, 1994. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780924171352
List Price: $60.00 Your Price: $48.00

"Sumerian Dictionary, Volume A/3"
Edited by Ake W. Sjoberg
Sumerian Dictionary - SD A/3
University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology -
University of Pennsylvania, 1998. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780924171581
List Price: $60.00 Your Price: $48.00

"Inanna und Sukaletuda: Zur historisch-politischen
Deutung eines sumerischen Literaturwerkes"
by Konrad Volk
Harrassowitz Verlag, 1995. Paper. German.
ISBN: 9783447036351
List Price: $74.00 Your Price: $59.20

Eisenbrauns book wins award

Well Chosen: Joel Lohr's Chosen and Unchosen wins R. B. Y. Scott Award

June 1, 2011. Joel Lohr's book, Chosen and Unchosen: Conceptions of Election in the Pentateuch and Jewish-Christian Interpretation today received the R. B. Y. Scott Award, which recognizes an outstanding book in the areas of Hebrew Bible and/or the Ancient Near East.

Join us in congratulating Joel! To help celebrate, we're offering this title at 30% off for the next two weeks — pick up a copy and see for yourself why it won!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Refreshing voice of reason

Some very good thoughts about publishing, social media, and the cult of celebrity here

Do you want to break into publishing? Say something important, but more importantly, say it well. We don’t need more voices, and we certainly don’t need more celebrities. We need transcendent ideas. We need people that challenge us to see how the world ought to be, and inspire us to make it so. We need people who show us the best of ourselves, and call us to be that version, rather than the veneered version that seems so much easier to sell to our “friends.” Inspire someone, and you just may make a bestsellers list the old-fashioned way. Inspire important conversations and you may just stay there. But if you fake it, if you buy your way on, if you take the shortcut to significance, we’ll know, and we’ll ignore you.

<idle musing>
How refreshing! Do take the time to read the whole thing— especially the part about being famous in our society...
</idle musing>