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Showing posts from April, 2012

The Not Top Ten: Exodus 21

In modern days, we spend lots and lots of energy on the Ten Commandments. I think this is good energy, as those ten summarize well the covenant between God and Israel at Sinai and well summarize the principles that apply through this day. No amount of "we live under grace in this time" will convince me that stealing, murder, or adultery are now acceptable. This means even you, Congress and the White House. Even for you.One can take the principles of the Ten Commandments and then spend quite a bit of energy debating how those flesh out in real life. For example, certainly I should not go forth and murder someone, but what happens if my cattle get loose and kill someone? Does that make me a murderer? What about assaults? How do I know what "honoring my mother and father" means?With questions like this, we come into Exodus 21 (link). It is easy to get bogged down into these laws, and they constitute much of the remainder of Exodus and Leviticus. Here is the main thing…

Like a Rock: Exodus 20

Exodus 20 (link.) You hardly even need a post about this chapter, do you? After all, these are the Ten Commandments. These are not really there to be debated but there to be obeyed. Let's take a look at both the Decalogue (Ten Words, see Today's Nerd Note) and the rest of the chapter.I like Durham's summary title for the Ten Commandments section in the Word Biblical Commentary on Exodus: Yahweh's Principles for Life in Covenant. This gives us a proper starting point for understanding the idea here: the Ten Commandments are not the whole of the covenant between God and Israel or between God and humanity in general. Rather, they are the "executive summary" or "Powerpoint bullets" of the covenant. Later, of course, we see Jesus summarize the covenant down almost to Twitterform: "Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength" (Mark 12:30) and "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12…

Sermon Roundup: April 22

Morning Audio link (alternate)Evening Audio link (alternate)Morning Outline:April 22 AM Luke 4:1-13 // Parallel in Matthew 4 and Mark 1 The Temptation of Jesus I. Narrative: what happens?      A. Baptism This was just prior, in Luke 3:21-22.
B. Led by the Spirit into the wilderness      C. Spends 40 days out in the wilderness           1. Fasting           2. Being tempted in various ways      D. At the conclusion, three specific temptations are highlighted           1. Take your power and use it for your own needs           2. Worship someone other than God           3. Test God's Word for truthfulness II. The Temptations:      A. Take your power and use it for your own needs:           1. After fasting for 40 days, Jesus is likely quite hungry.           2. Moreover, as can be seen at the Feeding of the 5000, providing bread for the masses would be a quick path to leading a revolution against the Romans           3. Yet that was not what Jesus came to do: He was not here to be a …

Random thoughts for Saturday

Yes, I'm enjoying doing my "Through the Whole Bible" series here on the blog, but I wanted to take a break. I haven't done a random thoughts post in months, and my random thoughts are backing up.Here you go:1. The homeschool convention we attended last week was considerably more fun than the Southern Baptist Convention meetings. Some seminars were more sales and less help, but most were basically helpful with a closing line of "and we can sell you this to make it even easier." The great thing was that most of those folks were more interested in being helpful than they were in selling. They still sold plenty, I think.2. I enjoy doing book reviews, but would really love to review firearms if someone would send me test subjects. Especially Springfield Armory or Just Right Carbines (.308 and .40S&W, respectively). 3. Am I the only one that thinks there should be a break in Presidential Campaign season at this point? The Republicans are going with Mitt Romne…

Books: Evangelistic Sermons

This is a post about a pair of books I was given in exchange for posting this review. No money changed hands and no requirement, besides which week I post this, is given for the review. The books were graciously sent to me by Kregel Publishers.This week, I have taken a look through a pair of books from Kregel Publishers. These two books are a matched set, though they are not totally dependent on each other. Both are from R. Larry Moyer and both focus on preaching evangelistic sermons.The first is titled Show Me How to Preach Evangelistic Sermons. This volume is exactly what it claims to be: a practical manual on how to construct sermons to communicate the Gospel. Moyer presents 27 short chapters that start with an explanation of the why of preaching what he calls "expository evangelistic sermons" and then into the nuts and bolts of how to do so.The "why" section was good, when placed into an appropriate context. I think that too many churches are trying to do too m…

I'm going to make you an offer…Exodus 19

That, really, they might should have refused. After all, much of the remaining Old Testament narrative relates how the Israelites were frequently unwilling to fulfill their side of the covenant that they enter in Exodus 19 (link). However, that's not what happens here.Instead, what happens is this: the Israelites come to Mount Sinai. Textually speaking, they come to the wilderness of Sinai and camp in front of the mountain, and that mountain we call Mount Sinai.The Lord God speaks to Moses and states that if the people of Israel will obey His voice and keep His covenant, then they will be His possession among all the peoples. He will be their God, nearer to them than to all other people. It is, though, a conditional covenant.There are two basic forms of covenants in life. Since those two forms reflect in Scripture, let's look at them both. The first is the unilateral covenant. This is a one-sided commitment, whereby one party states that they will do something or perform a spe…

Help me, anybody, you’re my only hope: Exodus 18

So far, life seems to have been all whiny Israelites and strong Moses since we’ve left Egypt, but Exodus 18 (link) presents a slightly different picture of the situation. Moses and the people are still in the area of Rephidim, and along comes Jethro. That sounds good, doesn’t it? Puts the story squarely in the south of somewhere. Jethro, you may recall, was the priest of a group of Midianites outside of Egypt. A group that had flocks of sheep that occasionally were taken towards a mountain to graze, and on that mountain there was once a bush that burned but did not get burnt. It was on this mountain that a sojourner, married to the priest’s daughter, started on his path back to Egypt and through the Red Sea.Jethro is Moses’ father-in-law and is coming to visit. He brings with him Zipporah and her two sons. Those sons are hers and Moses’, just for the record, and Moses had sent her and their sons away. Now, there is not really a Biblical explanation about why Moses had sent his family …

Put your hands in the air! Exodus 17

Apologies for my silence Monday. For those of you who wait with baited breath for these posts, unbait your breath and here we go.Moses and the children of Israel are moving from the crossing of the Red Sea into the wilderness, and they are on the way to Mount Sinai. Of course, we do not have an exact picture of the route they take, but that's another discussion entirely.What do we have in Exodus 17 (link) is a pair of mismatched stories. The first is the fairly expected one. The Israelites, pessimists one and all apparently, are angry. They have come to a place where there is not enough water for them to drink. We have had the waters at Marah, that the Lord God made good to drink, but now we've got just no water at all.Present here is a lesson worth repeating, because we forget it frequently. It is far too easy to mistake the works of God. The provision of drinkable water and manna in the desert was not about God showing off His ability to work those miracles. God's miracl…

Sermon Wrap up from April 15

Ever been late? Happens to me sometimes, too.Just as an update, we enjoyed attending the Mid-South Homeschool Convention. It was good to learn about some options, and it was tempting to buy the 50 lb. bulk bag of oats from the booth that was a combo-health nut/prepper shop. Yes, I could have spent more there. Much, much more.I enjoyed the most hearing and then meeting Jim Weiss of Great Hall Productions. He's a storyteller. Absolutely wonderful.Sermon:No sermon Sunday night, April 15. We had a short devotional time during a fellowship, but I didn't record it.There's a comment in the sermon about John being the "first Baptist preacher." It was definitely tongue-in-cheek and the congregation recognized that. You cannot be a Baptist preacher without the Resurrection and the Holy Spirit. Just doesn't work.Morning Audio (alternate link)Luke 3:1-20The ministry of John the BaptistI. Narrative:      A. Actual situation: out in the wilderness--we know nothing of John …

What is it? Exodus 16

The Israelites are through the Sea, have failed miserably at the waters of Meribah, and are now out into the wilderness. Now, one key of the wilderness is this: it's wilderness. There's not much there and there certainly are no grocery stores. 7-11 has not even put in a Qwik-Stop, and Starbucks will not even do a site survey.Into the wilderness is where the Lord God has led, though, so into the wilderness the Israelites go. It's not even as if the Lord has led them badly. From the point at which they crossed the Red Sea, there really is no other place to go but into the desolation. It is there we find them in Exodus 16 (link) as we go through the whole Bible. It is there that we find fault with them, again, as we take this journey.What happens? First, they complain of no food. So, the Lord God sends a miraculous food that they do not know what is. They eat it, like it, and call it "manna," which is just Hebrew for "What is it?" Or, perhaps, Hebrew for &…

Sing it like you mean it! Exodus 15

We’re out. Out of Egypt. Out of bondage. Out of the middle of the Red Sea. Out of the path of some 600 chariots.It’s a good place to be. So, what happens now? We sing. That’s most of Exodus 15 (link), which is where we are today as we go through the whole Bible. Moses and the people of Israel then break into a song.The song praises the work of God in delivering the Israelites. It certainly reflects the truth that Israel truly had nothing to do with their salvation. The song itself is beautiful. Even translated into English, the imagery is strong. The opening lines of the poem bring out the immediate inspiration. The “horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea” speaks of the events in the preceding chapter.This reference to “sea” is part of the evidence that we are not dealing with a minor lake in that event but in a bigger body of water.Moving on, the song highlights that God is the God of both the current and the previous generation. It seems at times that we have lost that in mo…

Hot Pursuit! Exodus 14

The Lord God has freed the Israelites from oppression in Egypt, and now they are on their way to the Promised Land. At last look, they were headed by a bit of a detour to avoid the Philistines and are headed out of Egypt by going south-west. Which isn't really the quick way, but it was the way God led them.He leads them, then, to a place hemmed-in on the edge of the Red Sea in Exodus 14 (link). At this point, Pharaoh declares, in his best Buford T. Justice voice, that he has changed his mind and is setting out in "Hot Pursuit!" of the Israelites. The source of his change of heart is not clear, but I think it's two-fold. The first being the loss of labor, certainly, but Egypt had other slaves, so that's not all. I think the other reason is the loss of prestige. Here Pharaoh has lost a chunk of his intimidation power. Whether by not exacting revenge for the damage or by the world seeing Israel leave, he's lost that. Angry leaders do not care for loss of prestig…

The Mummy Part II: Exodus 13

Apologies for being a day late with this. My brain power, when mixed with prescription painkillers, does odd, odd things. You would not have wanted to read what I had written!The children of Israel are headed out of Egypt. The plagues are over, the Passover has occurred, and Pharaoh with his people have told the Israelites to hit the road, and don't let the border gates hit you in the backside on the way out! Well, mainly the Egyptians have given the Israelites gold, silver, and other luxury items to get them to leave. So, they leave.Exodus 13 (link) begins the departure process. It does not start, though, as one might expect. We would expect the departure narrative to start with either an organizational list or a routing plan. Yet it does not start that way. It starts with this: a reminder to remember the Passover and deliverance and to sanctify to Yahweh the firstborn of all the households. This is important for us. We so often get started on a journey and forget where we were o…

Move the Stone! Easter 2012

.Blog note: Through the Whole Bible should return tomorrow, April 10. Further blog note: I would have liked to post a podcast from the Community Sunrise Service, but a minor glitch happened and there's not one. My apologies, again, to Almyra United Methodist for the invitation.Sermon Audio Link Here (Alternate Link Here)John 20:1The stone is goneMoved so that others may seeMoved to not be an obstacleWhat did we need to see?That He is RisenTherefore sin is forgivenTherefore death has no stingHow are you blocked by stone today?In yourself (sins, attitudes, habits)For others (public attitudes, debatable issues, kingdom confusion)As a church?

The Long, Dark Night: Exodus 12

Few things evoke enough emotion to be remembered a hundred years after they occur, and rarer still is the event that draws the mind back a thousand years. Yet this night is one that is remembered even now some 3500 years after the fact. To this day, most participants in the Jewish faith and culture remember the Passover.It starts with Exodus 12 (link). Moses passes on to the Israelites the commands he receives from God. They are to pack up everything, first of all, because it’s time to go. More importantly, they are to take a lamb from among the flocks and prepare to kill it, cook it, and eat it. They are to eat it with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs. They are to eat, not reclining around a table, but dressed, shod, and staff in hand, ready to depart.This is to occur in households with the blood of the lamb placed on the doorposts and the lintel of the entrance to their home. A lintel is the opposite of a threshold: it’s the top part of the door frame. While they eat, the Ange…

Is that what it takes? Exodus 11

I have been dreading this passage since we turned to Exodus in our walk through the whole Bible. Once you get past Exodus 11 (link), you have the Passover and redemption and the lamb. That's such good stuff that I would almost redo the chapter divisions of the Bible and put Exodus 11 and 12 together and leave it be.However, I started this as a chapter-by-chapter exercise. Even though the chapters are artificial, I'll stick with it. The people of Israel are in bondage in Egypt. This has started because of a political change in Egypt and the situation has degraded. Now, there is a conflict between God Almighty and the Pharaoh of Egypt. Along the way, Pharaoh has tried to keep the Hebrews under control by establishing a policy of oppression, increased labor, infanticide at birth, and infanticide shortly after birth.God's response has been measured increase. First, He sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh with the instruction to free the people. Yet Pharaoh did not listen. God displ…

Are you bugged? Exodus 10

Continuing through the whole Bible, we come now the eighth and ninth plagues: locusts and darkness. These are recorded in Exodus 10 (link) as the might of Egypt is crumbling around Pharaoh and his people.The locusts come not too long after the hail of Exodus 9 and destroy everything crop left over after the hail. Again, there is a warning of their impending arrival. This time, Pharaoh’s servants, his own advisors, tell Pharaoh to let the people go. They implore him with this line “Do you not know that Egypt is destroyed?”Can you imagine?This is the reality of the situation: if the locusts come, there will not be much left for Egypt to eat. They will go to the brink of starvation, to the edge of desolation. The advisors to the king know this now, and they try to persuade him. He refuses.The locusts come. The locusts eat. The land is stripped of food sources and survival will become the biggest goal of Egypt for years to come, rather than conquest or power. This happens simply for the p…

I can't stand it! Exodus 9

Carrying on through the whole Bible, we come to Exodus 9 (link). This chapter continues the plagues that strike Egypt and details the plagues on the cattle, the plague of boils, and the hail (with fire!). The situation in Egypt is going from frogs, flies, and gnats to worse.And that means it's going a lot worse.The first plague strikes cattle. That's terrible, because cattle die without meeting the grill afterwards, and this is a shame. A pair of critical details here: Moses announces this plague before it hits and the plague does not affect Israelite cattle. God expresses that He will distinguish between the Egyptians and the Israelites, and then He does: the curse does not destroy His people. Life does not always work this way. Note that the frogs and flies and gnats appear to have been everywhere, notwithstanding the fact that the Israelites are in oppressive bondage to Pharaoh. This is not to say that God will always keep the bad things on His enemies and the good things o…

Hop to it! Exodus 8

Frogs. Lots of frogs. All over the place, bouncing about and make a nuisance of themselves. It's enough to make the biggest Kermit fan go a little crazy. That's where the Egyptians find themselves in Exodus 8 (link). Covered up in toads, which is different for Pharaoh. Like many government leaders, he's probably more used to toadies. Yet I digress..The plague of frogs is on the Egyptians. You might not think frogs are that bad, but think about this: in your house? In your cooking pots and kneading bowls? That's just crazy. It's filthy, too, because the frogs leave frog waste behind. As well as dead frogs.Meanwhile, Exodus 8:7 gives the magicians of Egypt their due, that they were able to bring up frogs as well. Except for an important, to me, detail: there were already frogs everywhere. It can't have been that hard. Just clear off some space, say some mumbo-jumbo and then watch the frogs come.The plague of gnats, followed by the plague of flies, round out the h…

Holy Week Day 2: The Cleansing

Now, technically, this happened on Day 1 right after the Triumphal Entry, but I feel like this deserves its own mention.Luke 19:45-48Mark 11:15-18Matthew 21:12-17After coming into Jerusalem, the Lord Jesus goes into the Temple. In the Temple, he finds people about all sorts of business and activity. Much of it is centered on personal profit derived from those who have come to worship the One True God.This angers Jesus. Something to be aware of as we consider Jesus is this: He's not always huggy-man. Sometimes, when the honor of God is at stake, He is angry. His anger comes out here against those who are blocking people whose hearts are rightly seeking God. These folks are more concerned for themselves than for righteousness. That's not a good place to be.The point to be taken here is this: Jesus is headed to the Cross to remove the curse of sin by taking that punishment. He will take the force of the death we deserve—that price is not too high for Him to pay. Neither, though, …

Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes? Exodus 7

Back at the burning bush, I skipped over one of the signs that God showed Moses to prepare him for the confrontation with Pharaoh. Moses was told to throw down his staff, and the staff became a snake. I do love the last line of Exodus 4:3 about the snake: "Moses fled from it." You got that right—my two feet will hopefully carry me beyond the reach of those slithering menaces.Now, in our exploration of the narrative, we've reached Exodus 7 (link). Moses has confronted Pharaoh once, and that ended with increased labor for Israel and no letting of the people to go. God has promised several times that His hand will be stretched out and heavy on the Egyptians and eventually Egypt will drive out the Israelites.Pharaoh and Moses meet again, and this time it's time to show at least the first of the cards to be played in this round. Aaron throws down his staff, and it becomes a serpent. Now, most of us think we'd be convinced by this and we'd call it a day. Not so wit…