A wider reach, a deeper authority, a greater giving.

English: The Gathering of the Manna, c. 1896-1...
English: The Gathering of the Manna, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902), gouache on board, 11 7/16 x 9 5/16 in. (29.1 x 24 cm), at the Jewish Museum, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joshua 5:10-12 “While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.”

God provided Manna for Israel in the desert and as soon as Israel crossed into the Promised Land, the Manna ceased and the produce of the Land fed the Children of the Lord. The link between the two; God’s provision of the Manna and God’s provision of the vineyards, wells and abundance of the conquered tribes was supposed to be obvious. God provided Israel with both. Israel was never meant to forget who provided the daily bread, whether it fell out of the sky or was planted, grown, sifted, mixed with yeast and baked.

The Triune God is a God of abundance, a God of Giving. Psalm 23:1 says “the Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” The second half of the verse is the natural outcome of the first half. Because God is our Shepherd, we shall not want.

The promise of God’s table is a promise of provision. Who among you is starving? Start with this basic necessity and move up and out and see all that God has given you.

Start at the bottom, not the top, and work through God’s abundant provision and grace visible in your life today.

Another thing is how boring, mundane and unremarkable daily bread seems when we buy it from Albertsons. We were born in a land of milk and honey and we forget all the labor others expend through God’s providence for our daily sustenance.

We would be impressed by the miracle of Manna, but there are fewer specific items to be thankful for when the bread falls out of the sky. Bread from the store requires a far greater reach. God provides your job to acquire money, the car, the store, the plastic bag, the twist tie, the rain, the farmer, the harvest, the baker and an infrastructure which allows for massive ovens and transportation.  So why are we less grateful when God displays a wider reach, a deeper authority, a greater giving?

This is the common grace which we all so abundantly enjoy just to get some bread, everyday.

Extravagant Love

The word Extravagant means to exceed the limits of reason or necessity.

That is the kind of love Jesus exhibits. Jesus didn’t need a throne; he had one already. Jesus didn’t need men. Who needs broken clay jars? Jesus has authority over everything; in Him everything that is, was made. God made man in His own image and Jesus is jealous enough for even the image of God, that He could not allow the dishonor of the fall to stand. He wanted God’s creation to fulfill its creation purpose; to live in harmony worshiping God.

So Jesus took on flesh; the infinite took on the limits of creation. The king became a carpenter’s son. He slept in open boats and ate meals. He argued with self-righteous hypocrites and endured the confused bombastic yapping of His apostles.

The Maker let His creation slap him, tear His beard out and nail iron into His flesh. Iron, which was made in and through Jesus, Jesus allowed to be driven through the flesh He didn’t need, to die a death we caused, to win us back to a Father we rejected.

This is a love that exceeds the limits of reason and necessity.

Lion of Judah

Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, a symbo...
Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, a symbol in Abyssinia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A god that does not

nor cares to

walk upon the shore of a vast sea,

breathing in the salty air,

relishing what he himself

made

Is not worth a prayer

 

A god who does not buckle on

scabbard and mail

to go before his children

to seek his enemies upon the field,

foes for the slaughter,

is not worth a lighted candle

 

A god who does not

stand at the tomb

of him whom he loved

and weep

is worth no devotion of any kind

 

A god who does not taste

or breath or hate

who does not curse or love

or serve, nor cares to

is a god worth mere disdain

no more than mockery

 

is no God at all.

Two Swords are enough for the Prince of Peace

God requires his children to be long suffering and patient. It is not righteous to seek vengeance, especially for minuscule affronts that have more to do with vanity, like insulting speech, but it is also not righteous to stand idly by while people assault your wife, oppress sojourners or victimize the fatherless, the widow and the marginalized. Often there is confusion about what God requires of us in the New Covenant. Jesus is referred to as the Prince of Peace, and yet He says he comes with a sword.

Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Ultimately, in the cosmic war between God and His enemies, the weapons of our warfare  are not carnal, for we fight against the principalities and powers of the air. Yet, Christ did not rebuke his apostles for having swords. He did rebuke them for how and why they used them. Converted Centurions were not told to lay down their weapons. Jesus instigates a war within us against sin, while declaring peace between God and ourselves. Jesus provides peace between the nations, but peace that comes at the culmination of the antithesis. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Continue reading “Two Swords are enough for the Prince of Peace”

It is as God decreed

WCF, Chapter 3
Introduction

God’s plan includes all things – everything! Nothing is too insignificant or complex to be included. God’s decree is not contingent upon anything, except His own decree. God decress the outcomes of human events. God decrees that some will be obedient and some will remain in their sin.

He shows mercy to whom he shows mercy and hardens whom he hardens. In order to display his grace, his power and control over sin and salvation, as well as to humble men’s hearts, who quickly make their obedience the cause and not the result of God’s mercies. God decrees the means. Section 6 refers to calling, repentance, justification, sanctification etc. These are addressed individually throughout the rest of the Confession. 

Today we may wonder If God has elected certain men to salvation, then why pray, preach, witness, etc.? Right, this was asked last week. Continue reading “It is as God decreed”

A primer on Canonicity

Apostolic Authority in antiquity

The Old Testament is approved holy writ by the testimony of the Lord Himself.

The front side (recto) of Papyrus 1, a New Tes...
The front side (recto) of Papyrus 1, a New Testament manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew. Most likely originated in Egypt. Also part of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (P. oxy. 2) Currently housed in: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Luke 24:44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

This three-fold division is clearly recorded by the Jewish authorities and their specific contents are also recorded and align with the modern Old Testament of the Protestant Bible, though in a different arrangement. Jesus also affirmed the Common Tradition of Scripture by his statement that all the blood from Abel to Zechariah would be visited on the Jews in Luke 11:50-51. This starts with the first Murder and ends with the last murdered prophet in the Jewish bible.

For the New Testament, the teaching and example of the Lord and his apostles, whether conveyed by word of mouth or in writing, had axiomatic authority for them. If writing was the work of an apostle or of their disciples it belongs to the apostolic age. Later writings, whatever their merit, could not be included among the apostolic or canonical books. Continue reading “A primer on Canonicity”

How Then, Do We Intrepret the Bible?

WCF, Chapter 1, Section 8-10

Section 8

The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical (Matt. 5:18); so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them (Isa. 8:20; Acts 15:15; John 5:39, 46).

But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them (John 5:39), therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come (1 Cor. 14:6, 9, 11–12, 24, 27–28), that, the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner (Col. 3:16); and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope (Rom. 15:4). Continue reading “How Then, Do We Intrepret the Bible?”

Genesis

A.    Name – The word Genesis comes from the Greek word meaning “beginning” or “generation.” The word “genesis” is translated “generation” in Matt. 1:1. Genesis contains 10 references to the “generations of…” (2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12: 25:19; 36:1; 36:9; 37:2)

B.    Purpose – The Bible is the story of God’s Son. It is a story told through the stories of many sons; sons of promise and blessing that foreshadow Jesus and stories of fallen sons at enmity with God that are antithetical to Jesus. Genesis is the story of beginnings, recounting the creation, kingship and fall of Adam and subsequently, all mankind (1-3). Genesis focuses on the warring families that resulted from God’s promise of enmity, salvation and seed in Gen 3:15 (4-10). Many sons are born who are believed to be the promised heir, but they all fall short. In the midst of this war, the family of Abraham is chosen specifically to bear the covenant relationship and responsibility on earth to restore man to his rightful place. This family’s story is recounted in the largest portion of Genesis (11-52). Joseph rises to rule the known world. Genesis ends with Joseph’s death while the restoration of mankind remains unfulfilled. Abraham’s descendants never enter the Promised Land but instead are living in Egypt at the close of Genesis. When would the true heir come? When will the bondage of sin and death be defeated? Continue reading “Genesis”

The only stories worth telling

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, in instructing catechumens, wrote: “The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon.” No matter what form the dragon may take, it is of this mysterious passage past him, or into his jaws, that stories of any depth will always be concerned to tell, and this being the case, it requires considerable courage at any time, in any country, not to turn away from the storyteller. – Flannery O’ Conner. Mystery and Manners. 35.