Showing posts with label Moses. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Moses. Show all posts

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Vision, Inspiration and Leadership

“Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’ ”

What makes a person give up everything in order to follow Christ?

What motivates a lifetime of obedience and service?

What makes men into real men, spiritual men, dedicated men, godly men, and what makes women into women of substance?

Well, let’s see what the Bible says about that.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

The Price of Proximity

God is holy.

Not a new thought, I know, but one that, in the opinion of the Holy Spirit, merits mention three times in the nine verses of Psalm 99: “Holy is he! Holy is he! The Lord our God is holy!”

Amen. In fact, he’s so holy that in the Old Testament, those closest to God tended to pay a price for their proximity.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Rabble Among Them

It’s all about who’s doing the driving ...

“Now the rabble that was among them [Israel] had a strong craving,” the book of Numbers tells us.

The King James translation of this verse is a lot more fun. It reads, “The mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting.” There’s something more than a little amusing about the “fell a lusting” archaism, though the story that follows about this mixed multitude is far from humorous.

Craving led the “mixed multitude” that traveled with Israel to complain, which led to the Israelites around them complaining, and before too long the camp of God’s people was full of weeping and wailing.

Over their diet, of all things. Their very temporary diet. They were on their way to a land of milk and honey, after all.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Calf Exercises

How do you go from “All that the Lord has spoken we will do” to “Up, make us gods who shall go before us” in such an insanely short period?

And yet, I cannot imagine this sort of treachery and double-speak was characteristic only of Israel. “These things happened to them as examples,” Paul tells the Corinthians, “but they were written down for our instruction.”

We’re still reading them today, so maybe we can learn a thing or two.

Sunday, June 04, 2023

Servants and Sons

“Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son.”

Servants and sons operate on different levels, says the writer to the Hebrews. Two differences right there in this single verse. First, Moses the servant was, Christ the Son is; that is to say the Son still being faithful when the servant has long ceased from service. Second, Moses the servant was in the house, Christ the Son is over it. Those are different spheres of responsibility.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Why Not Now?

We live in an age of instant gratification.

If I want a superior coffee experience, I have only to walk to the corner, or drive to my friend Rod’s house. If I want to know what’s happening across the world, five minutes with CNN will probably do it. If I want to feign expert knowledge of virtually any subject, half an hour of Googling enables me to pass myself off as conversant with all but the genuinely knowledgeable.

God doesn’t operate that way. It’s a bit vexing at times, I must admit.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

It Ain’t Personal

Spiritual leadership is not easy.

Perhaps that’s part of the reason so few Christians seem to seek it, especially these days. But unless we opt out of family life and church life entirely, most of us are faced with a certain amount of responsibility, like it or not.

Elders are leaders. And in fact every Bible teacher, formal or otherwise, leads too. The act of writing down or publicly giving voice to a spiritual conviction is invariably an act of leadership that declares, “This way, not that way” or at least “This means X, it doesn’t mean Y”, no matter how delicately or deferentially one chooses to formulate one’s opinion. In addition, all mothers and fathers lead their children, or else their lives quickly devolve into an endless series of rather potent miseries.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

A Built-In Self-Destruct Button

If you have spent a lot of time reading the Old Testament and trying to get into the mindset of the average law-abiding Jew, you probably agree with me that Christian freedom is a marvelous thing.

The believer’s relationship to the Law of Moses is one of the most misunderstood aspects of Christian life, notwithstanding statements like “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” and “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

But freedom is not something we human beings do easily or naturally. We prefer rule-keeping.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Non-Canonical Episodes

Did Jude have the gift of prophecy?

I wonder. It certainly seems a strong possibility. Prophecy is not merely a feature of the Old Testament, but is also numbered with the gifts given by the Holy Spirit to the New Testament church.

Prophecy was a practical gift. In the early church it also appears to have been a fairly common one. It did not manifest itself in the expected esoteric, oddball mutterings but rather in “upbuilding and encouragement and consolation”. In this the prophet functioned similarly to the teacher in today’s church.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Vision, Inspiration and Leadership

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Stating the Obvious

When you make a life-long habit out of reading other people’s mail, strange things tend to become commonplace.

I should probably unpack that a bit.

I’m enjoying the book of Hebrews once again, as I make my way through the New Testament in my morning reading. But the problem with having been acquainted with the scriptures since before I could read them for myself (and it’s not the worst problem in the world to have) is that arguments which should puzzle any modern, thinking, Gentile reader seem perfectly normal to me. My familiarity with the passage makes it difficult for me to be surprised by it, though it should surely surprise me.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

91 and 19

You will surely remember Psalm 91. That’s the one which begins, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty ...” It’s often attributed to Moses, and is famous for being very comforting — I heard it read at a funeral recently — and even more so for being quoted by Satan in his temptation of the Lord Jesus.

It also includes two statements which we might be inclined to try to apply to nasty little flu viruses that kill people, among other things: “For he will deliver you from ... the deadly pestilence” and “no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.” On a quick reading, it sounds as if dwelling in the shelter of the Most High and making God our refuge is the ticket out of most of the unpleasant and disturbing things that can happen to us in this life — not just new and virulent diseases, but war and wild beasts and even unfortunate accidents — as well as being the absolute guarantee of a long life. What a sweet spot to live in!

But does 91 really apply to COVID-19? Can Christians reasonably claim its promises in connection with the current pandemic? I hate to be a party-pooper, but a careful reading of scripture does not allow us to appropriate this familiar psalm for our own comfort quite so freely.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Christ Where He Doesn’t Belong

Back in the days when my brothers and I were happily misbehaving in the back row of open Sunday School, we quickly learned how to answer questions for treats. Like performing seals, we tried to outdo one another for a pencil, badge or snack.

Horrible, really, when you think about it.

The idea was that when the superintendent asked a question, the kid who got his or her hand up first won the prize, which naturally encouraged all kinds of cheating. The most effective way to cheat was to stab your arm up into the stratosphere long before the question was finished, and sometimes before it started. The downside was that you really didn’t have a clue what you were supposed to be responding to.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Sheep Without Shepherds

The first and last recorded requests Moses ever made of his God are almost identical. Both may be summed up in the words “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”

The first time he said it, it was very likely out of a justifiable sense of personal inadequacy. He was a mere man — a lowly shepherd, of all things — confronted with the spectacle of flaming foliage in which burned the presence of the Eternal God. For Moses, “Please send someone else” really meant “Surely, O Lord, you must be able to find someone more qualified than I am.” Moses wasn’t a lazy man by any stretch, but the scope of the task with which he was presented was breathtaking.

Not everyone might have answered God exactly as Moses did, but any sensible soul would have felt his legitimate apprehension.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

When God Says Things He Doesn’t Mean

Forget pancakes. Here’s a stack of problem verses to chew on instead:

“Take your … only son Isaac, and offer him … as a burnt offering.”

“ ‘Rise, go with them’ … But God’s anger was kindled because he went.”

Let me alone, that I may destroy them and … I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.”

Sometimes God says things he doesn’t really mean. Think about that a bit.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Semi-Random Musings (7)

Growing up in a Christian home, I was occasionally chastened for misbehavior with the words “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Or I heard other Christian parents using it. Or my irate Sunday School teacher. Or somebody. The memory’s a bit fuzzy, to be honest.

In any case, the line was very familiar, though for some reason I wrongly associated it with Saul and Samuel rather than Moses, who actually said it to the emissaries from the tribes of Reuben and Gad who had proposed to settle their people in the land beyond the Jordan. They solemnly promised to first fight alongside the other men of Israel in order to bring God’s people into their inheritance.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Price of Proximity

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Bright Thought for a Brisk Winter Morning

Life is affliction.

Too dark an opener? Maybe. But it’s true.

It’s too short for one thing, gone before we fully appreciate it. “Dust”, says Moses. Like a dream. We wither like grass. We are swept away like a flood. Seventy years on average. Eighty maybe, if we’re unusually robust. Almost nothing. At some point after we enter this world, we discover that death is a universal reality. From that moment on, the spectre of our own imminent demise and that of all those we love hovers over, informs, taints and affects every moment of our lives. Affliction.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Vision, Inspiration and Leadership

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

An Open Letter to Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

Dear Dr. Peterson,

I’ve been enjoying immensely your online lecture series on The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories. Hearing you reframe these familiar truths and ancient tropes in the terminology of psychology and mythology — and occasionally in plain secular language, rather than religiously and liturgically — has lit up the OT landscape for me in a new way. As you mentioned in your fourth lecture, a hypothesis that works itself out in human experience on multiple levels is that much more likely to represent the real state of things.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Who Hardened Whose Heart?

Sovereignty discussion time.

Scripture is rife with examples of the peculiar streak of human perversity that sets itself against the will of God to the bitter end. But even with all that competition, Pharaoh and his Egyptians must surely rank in the Top Ten.

Or do they? What about this verse:

“Then Israel came to Egypt; Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham. And the Lord made his people very fruitful and made them stronger than their foes. He turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.”

On the face of it, Christian determinists would seem to have good reason to jump on the words of the Psalmist and say, “Aha, you see, it says that God ‘turned the hearts’ of the Egyptians to hate his people. They didn’t have a choice!”

Except they did. Let’s look at why.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

That Wacky Old Testament (9)

“The law of the Lord is perfect ...”

Not only perfect, but more desirable than gold and sweeter than a honeycomb. So says the word of God, and I believe it. But perhaps we ought to ask ourselves exactly what the Psalmist intended to convey with the word “perfect”. Because when people today examine what the law of Moses says on the subject of slavery, or the role of women, or animal sacrifices, they seem to find an awful lot to quibble about.

They would argue — quite forcefully, I might add — that the law of the Lord is far from perfect. Primitive, even.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Inbox: Timing Is Everything

God’s timing is always impeccable.

The gospel spread like wildfire in the first century precisely because God had put all the pieces in place centuries prior. As James noted when the apostles and elders gathered in Jerusalem to discuss the issue of imposing the Law of Moses on Gentiles, “from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues”.

Ironically, the fact that the whole world of James’ day had access to an obscure set of Jewish laws was a function of Israel’s disobedience.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

He May Be Right, But ...

A great multitude I can’t number
I have trouble with this statement for a couple of reasons:

“Great as the harvest of sin has been, we believe that the saved shall vastly outnumber the lost. Nothing less will satisfy Christ. Remember that in the first age, before mention is made of the latter triumphs of the Gospel, John beheld in heaven a multitude which no man could number. This was but the first-fruit sheaf; let who will compute the full measure of the harvest!”
— F.B. Meyer, Christ in Isaiah

I’ve heard this one before, and Meyer may well be correct. Who can say? Perhaps in the end more human beings will be saved than lost. Love certainly likes to hope so.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Rabble Among Them

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

On Being Distinct

The golden calf episode at Mount Sinai was a moral disaster for Israel.

Idolatry was bad enough, but national idolatry on such a scale so soon after formally accepting the privileges and responsibilities of being called by Jehovah to be a people uniquely his own gave the lie to everything Israel was supposed to stand for. It made a mockery of Israel’s promises and a joke of its testimony to the nations around it. God struck the people with a plague, and Moses struck them with the sword of the House of Levi, killing three thousand.

Basically, a disaster.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Calf Exercises

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Why Not Now?

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Under the Shadow

People do things. Things good or bad, generous or selfish, trustworthy or manipulative, wise or horrendously ill-considered.

Paul tells the Corinthian church that the people of Israel were examples. The things that they did in the desert on the way to Canaan and the things that happened to them as a consequence of their behaviour were written down to instruct us, “on whom the end of the ages has come”.

It seems reasonable to assume this is true of most of Bible history: it happened, not randomly but with divine purpose. And we can benefit from observing the mistakes and successes of those who lived thousands of years before us, avoiding the former and pursuing the latter.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fulfilling or Destroying

A couple of days ago I posted some thoughts on the place of the Law of Moses in the life of the Christian.

Most Christians who have read Romans or Galatians understand that we are not under law but under grace. However, because the teaching of the Lord Jesus is traditionally bundled with our New Testament, some believers have difficulty recognizing that things like the Sermon on the Mount are really addressed to people living under and seeking to obey the rules of the Old Covenant.

Confusion on this subject leads to inconsistent interpretation and maybe even inconsistent living. It’s worth a careful and prayerful look.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

It Ain’t Personal

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Non-Canonical Episodes

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Christ Where He Doesn’t Belong

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, May 23, 2014

God’s Sovereignty vs. Hardened Hearts

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Debunking Heavenly Mythology VII: I Won’t Enjoy Heaven If So-and-So Isn’t There

There is a something about the generosity of spirit in this frequently-heard and more-frequently-unheard trope that I would hate to disparage.

After all, no less a friend of God than Moses once voiced something similar when God expressed a desire to wipe out Israel in the desert and “make a great nation” from the descendants of Moses. Some people might have been flattered at the compliment. Moses didn’t see it that way. He said to the Lord:
“Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin — but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” (Exodus 32:31-32)
He said, in effect, “If they’re going to be subject to your judgment, God, let me be subject to it with them”.

Generous, absolutely. Smart, maybe not so much. Not, perhaps, entire clear on what he was potentially letting himself in for. But we understand the sentiment, surely. I’ve felt like that about some people. Maybe you have too.

Fortunately for Moses, the Lord did not take him up on his offer.